A US MQ-9 Reaper assassination drone
Independent Senator Bernie Sanders, who is seeking Democratic nomination for the 2016 US presidential election, says he will continue the Pentagon’s assassination drone program.
In an interview with ABC News on Sunday, Sanders said that he would limit the use of US terror drones, but said that he would not end the targeted killing campaign.
“I think we have to use drones very, very selectively and effectively. That has not always been the case,” Sanders said.
“What you can argue is that there are times and places where drone attacks have been effective,” he added.
“There are times and places where they have been absolutely counter-effective and have caused more problems than they have solved. When you kill innocent people, what the end result is that people in the region become anti-American who otherwise would not have been,” said the junior senator from Vermont.
Since 2001, the United States has been carrying out drone attacks in several countries, including Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Somalia.
The aerial attacks were initiated by former US President George W. Bush but have been escalated under President Barack Obama.
Former US drone operator Brandon Bryant, who was involved in the killing of more than 1,600 people, revealed earlier this year that aerial strikes are conducted with complete uncertainty.
Bryant, who worked for almost five years in America’s secret drone program bombing targets in Afghanistan and other countries, such as Pakistan and Iraq, said operators lacked visibility and were not sure about the identity of the people they were shooting at.
“We see silhouette, shadows of people, and we kill those shadows,” he said.
From Regional War, “Regime Change” to Global Warfare
2015 has become a year of living dangerously.
Wars are spreading across the globe.
Wars are escalating as new countries are bombed and the old are ravaged with ever greater intensity.
Countries, where relatively peaceful changes had taken place through recent elections, are now on the verge of civil wars.
These are wars without victors, but plenty of losers; wars that don’t end; wars where imperial occupations are faced with prolonged resistance.
There are never-ending torrents of war refugees flooding across borders. Desperate people are detained, degraded and criminalized for being the survivors and victims of imperial invasions.
Now major nuclear powers face off in Europe and Asia: NATO versus Russia, US-Japan versus China. Will these streams of blood and wars converge into one radiated wilderness drained of its precious life blood?
Living Dangerously: The Rising Tide of Violent Conflicts
There is no question that wars and military threats have replaced diplomacy, negotiations and democratic elections as the principal means of resolving political conflicts. Throughout the present year (2015) wars have spread across borders and escalated in intensity.
The NATO allies, US, Turkey and the EU have openly attacked Syria with air strikes and ground troops. There are plans to occupy the northern sector of that ravaged country, creating what the Erdogan regime dubs a ‘buffer zone’ cleansed of its people and villages.
Under the pretext of ‘fighting ISIS’, the Turkish government is bombing Kurds (civilians and resistance fighters) and their Syrian allies. On Syria’s southern border, US Special Forces have accelerated and expanded operations from their bases in Jordan on behalf of the mercenary terrorists – funded by the monarchist Gulf States.
Over 4 million Syrians have fled their homes as refugees and over 200,000 have been killed since the US-EU-Turkey-Saudi-sponsored war against the secular Syrian government was launched four years ago.
Dozens of terrorist, mercenary and sectarian groups have carved up Syria into rival fiefdoms, pillaged its economic and cultural resources and reduced the economy by over ninety percent.
The US-EU-Turkish military intervention extends the war into Iraq, Lebanon and…. Turkey – attacking secular governments, ethnic minority groups and secular civil society.
The feudal, monarchist Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have invaded Yemen with tanks, launching air strikes against a country without any air defenses. Major cities and towns are devastated. Saudi ground troops and armored carriers are killing and wounding thousands – mostly civilians. The brutal Saudi air and sea blockade of Yemen’s ports have led to a humanitarian crisis, as ten million Yemenis face starvation deliberately imposed by a grotesque and obscenely rich monarchy.
The Yemeni resistance fighters, driven out of the major cities, are preparing for prolonged guerrilla warfare against the Saudi monsters and their puppets. Their resistance has already spread across the frontiers of the absolutist Saudi dictatorship.
The brutal Israeli occupation troops, in collaboration with armed ‘settler’ colonists, have accelerated their violent seizure of Palestinian lands. They have stepped up the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, Bedouins, Druze and Christian inhabitants replacing their communities with racist ‘Jews-only’ colonial settlements.
Daily assaults against the huge ‘concentration camps’ of Gaza accompany an armed blockade of land, air and water, preventing the reconstruction of the tens of thousands of homes, schools, hospital, factories and infrastructure, destroyed by last year’s Israeli blitzkrieg.
Israel’s continued annexation and ethnic cleansing of Palestinian territory precludes any diplomatic process; colonial wars have been and continue to be Israel’s policy of choice in dealing with its Arab neighbors and captive populations.
Africa’s wars, resulting from earlier US-EU interventions, continue to ravage-the Continent. Somalia, Sudan, Kenya, Libya are riven by bloody conflicts between US-EU backed regimes and armed Islamic and nationalist resistance movements.
Throughout North and Sub-Sahara Africa, US-EU backed regimes have provoked armed upheavals in Libya, Nigeria (Boko Harem), Egypt (ISIS, Moslem Brotherhood et al), Chad, Niger, South Sudan, Somalia and elsewhere.
Imperial client Egyptian and Ethiopian dictators rule with iron fists – financed and armed by their EU and US sponsors.
Imperial wars rage throughout the Middle East and South Asia. Hundreds of experienced Baathist Iraqi military officers, who had been expelled or jailed and tortured by the US Occupation army, have now made common cause with Islamist fighters to form ISIS and effectively occupy a third of Iraq and a strategic swath of Syria.
There are daily bombings in Baghdad undermining its US client. Strategic advances by ISIS are forcing the US to resume and escalate its direct combat role
The US-Baghdad retreat and the defeat of the US-trained Iraqi military in the face of the Baathist-Islamist offensive is the opening salvo of a long-term, large-scale war in Iraq and Syria. The Turkish air-war against the Kurds in Iraq will escalate the war in Northern Iraq and extend it into southeast Turkey.
Closer to ‘home’, the EU-US-backed coup (‘regime change’) in Kiev and the attempt to impose dictatorial-pro-West oligarchic rule in Ukraine have detonated a prolonged civil-national war devastating the country and pitting NATO’s proxies against Russian-backed allies in the Donbas.
US, England, Poland and other NATO powers are deeply committed to pushing war right up to Russia’s borders.
There is a new Cold War, with the imposition of wide-ranging US-EU economic sanctions against Russia and the organizing of major NATO military exercises on Russia’s doorsteps. It is no surprise that these provocations are met with a major counter-response – the Russian military build-up. The NATO power grab in Ukraine, which first led to a local ethnic war, now escalates to a global confrontation and may move toward a nuclear confrontation as Russia absorbs hundreds of thousands of refugees from the slaughter in Ukraine.
The US puppet regime in Afghanistan has faced a major advance of the Taliban in all regions, including the capital, Kabul.
The Afghan war is intensifying and the US-backed Kabul regime is in retreat. US troops can scarcely advance beyond their bunkers.
As the Taliban military advances, its leaders demand total surrender of the Kabul puppets and the withdrawal of US troops. The US response will be a prolonged escalation of war.
Pakistan, bristling with US arms, faces a major conflict along its borders with India and permanent war in its semi-autonomous Northwest frontier states with Islamist and ethnic Pashtu guerrilla movements backed by mass regional political parties. These parties exercise de facto control over the Northwest region providing sanctuary and arms for Taliban militants operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Armed ethno-religious conflicts persist in western China, Myanmar and northern India. There are large-scale popular resistance movements in the militant northeast Thailand opposed to the current military-monarchist dictatorship in Bangkok.
In the 21st century, in South and Southeast Asia, as in the rest of the world, war and armed conflicts have become central in resolving ethnic, social, tribal and regional differences with central states: diplomacy and democratic elections have been rendered obsolete and inefficient.
Latin America – On the Verge
Burgeoning violent extra-parliamentary right-wing movements, intent on overthrowing or ‘impeaching’ elected center-left Latin American governments face major confrontations with the state and its mass supporters.
In Ecuador, Venezuela and Brazil, US-backed opposition groups are engaged in violent demonstrations, directed toward ousting the elected regimes. In the case of Ecuador, ‘popular sectors’, including some indigenous leaders and sectors of the trade union movement, have called for an ‘uprising’ to oust President Correa. They seem oblivious of the fact that the hard-right oligarchs who now control key offices in the three principal cities (Guayaquil, Quito and Cuenca) will be the real beneficiaries of their ‘uprisings’.
The resurgent Right envisions violent ‘regime change’ as the first step toward ‘wiping the slate clean’ of a decade of social reforms, independent regional organizations and independent foreign policies.
‘Civil war’ may be too strong a word for the situation in Latin America at this time – but this is the direction which the US-backed opposition is heading. Faced with the mess and difficulty of dislodging incumbent regimes via elections, the US and its local proxies have opted for the choreography of street violence, sabotage, martial law and coups – to be followed by sanitized elections – with US-vetted candidates.
War and violence run rampant through Mexico and most of Central America. A US-backed military coup ousted the popularly elected, independent President Zelaya in Honduras. The ensuing US-proxy regime has murdered and jailed hundreds of pro-democracy dissidents and driven thousands to flee the violence.
The 1990’s US-brokered ‘Peace Accords’ in El Salvador and Guatemala effectively blocked any agrarian reform and income redistribution that might have led to the rebuilding of their civil societies. This has led to over two decades of mass disaffection, the rise of armed ‘gangs’ numbering over 100,000 members and an average of six to ten thousand homicides a year with El Salvador becoming the ‘murder capital of the hemisphere’ on a per capita basis. The annual murder toll under the US-brokered ‘Peace Accords’ now exceeds those killed each year during the civil war.
The real ‘carnage capital’ of the hemisphere is Mexico. Over 100,000 people have been murdered during the decade-long, US-backed ‘war on drugs’ – a war which has become a state-sponsored war on the Mexican people.
The internal war has allowed the Mexican government to privatize and sell the crown jewels of the national economy – the petroleum industry. While thousands of Mexicans are terrorized and slaughtered, the US and EU oil companies are curiously shielded from the drug lords. The same Mexican government, its police, officials and military, who collaborate with the drug lords in dividing up the billions of drug dollars, protect foreign oil companies and their executives. After all, narco-dollars are laundered by banks in New York, Miami, Los Angeles and London to help fuel the speculation!
From Regional to Nuclear Wars
Regional and local wars spread under the shadow of a looming world war. The US moves its arms, planes, bases and operations to the Russian and Chinese borders.
Never have so many US troops and war planes been placed in so many strategic locations, often less than an hour drive from major Russian cities.
Not even during the height of the Cold War, did the US impose so many economic sanctions against Russian enterprises.
In Asia, Washington is organizing major trade, military and diplomatic treaties designed to exclude and undermine China’s growth as a trade competitor. It is engaged in provocative activities comparable to the boycott and blockade of Japan which led to the Second World War in Asia.
Open ‘warfare by proxy’ in Ukraine is perhaps the first salvo of the Third World War in Europe. The US-EU-sponsored coup in Kiev has led to the annexation of Western Ukraine. In response to the threat of violence toward the ethnic Russian majority in Crimea and the loss of its strategic naval base on the Black Sea, Russia annexed Crimea.
In the lead-up to the Second World War, Germany annexed Austria. In a similar manner the US-EU installed a puppet regime in Kiev by violent putsch as its own initial steps toward major power grabs in Central Asia. The military build-up includes the placement of major, forward offensive military bases in Poland.
Warsaw’s newly elected hard-right regime of President Andrzej Duda has demanded that Poland become NATO’s central military base of operation and the front line in a war against Russia.
Wars and More Wars and the Never-ending Torrents of Refugees
The US and EU imperial wars have devastated the lives and livelihoods of scores of millions of people in South Asia, North and Sub-Sahara Africa, Central America, Mexico, the Balkans and now Ukraine.
Four million Syrian refugees have joined millions of Afghan, Pakistani, Iraqi, Yemeni, Somali, Libyan, Palestinian and Sudanese refugees fleeing US-EU bombs, drones and proxy mercenaries ravaging their countries.
Millions of war refugees escape toward safety in Western Europe, joining the millions of economic refugees who have fled free market destitution in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, the Balkans and other EU satellites.
Panic among the civilian population of Western Europe sets in as hundreds of thousands cross the Mediterranean, the Aegean and the Balkans.
Droves of refugees perish each day. Tens of thousands crowd detention centers. Local labor markets are saturated. Social services are overwhelmed.
The US builds walls and detention camps for the millions trying to escape the harsh consequences of imperial-centered free markets in Mexico, narco-terror and the fraudulent ‘peace accord’-induced violence in Central America.
As Western wars advance, the desperate refugees multiply. The poor and destitute clamber at the gates of the imperial heartland crying: ‘Your bombs and your destruction of our homelands have driven us here, now you must deal with us in your homeland’.
Fomenting class war between the refugees and ‘natives’ of the imperial West – may not be on the agenda . . . for now, but the future for ‘civil’ society in Europe and the US is bleak.
Meanwhile, more and even bigger wars are on the horizon and additional millions of civilians will be uprooted and face the choice of starving, fleeing with their families or fighting the empire. The ranks of seasoned and infuriated resistance fighters are swelling in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Ukraine and elsewhere.
The US and EU are becoming armed fortresses. US police deal with the marginalized citizenry as an occupying army, assaulting African-Americans, immigrants and dissidents – while looting poor communities . . . and protecting the rich…
War is everywhere and expanding: No continent or region, big or small, is free from the contagion of war.
Imperial wars have spawn local wars . . . igniting mass flights in a never-ending cycle. There are no real diplomatic success stories! There are no enduring, viable peace accords!
Some pundits may protest this analysis: They point to the recent US – Cuba rapprochement as a ‘success’. They conveniently forget that the US is still subverting Cuba’s biggest trading partner, Venezuela; that Washington’s major regional proxies are demanding regime change among Cuba’s allies in Ecuador, Brazil and Bolivia and that Washington is increasingly threatening Cuba’s alternative markets in Russia and China. The vision of the US flag flapping in the breeze outside its embassy in Havana does little to cover Washington’s iron fist threatening Cuba’s allies.
Others cite the US – Iran peace accord as a major ‘success’. They ignore that the US is backing the bloody Saudi invasion of neighboring Yemen and the massacre of Shiite communities; that the US has provided Israel with a road map detailing Iran’s entire defense system and that the US [Israel] and EU are bombing Iran’s Syrian ally without mercy.
As for the US – Cuba and Iranian agreements– are they enduring and strategic or just tactical imperial moves preparing for even greater assaults?
The war epidemic is not receding.
War refugees are still fleeing; they have no homes or communities left.
Disorder and destruction are increasing, not decreasing; there is no rebuilding the shattered societies, not in Gaza, not in Fallujah, not in the Donbas, not in Guerrero, not in Aleppo.
Europe feels the tremors of a major conflagration.
Americans still believe that the two oceans will protect them. They are told that placing NATO missiles on Russia’s borders and stationing warships off China’s shores and building electrified walls and laying barbed wire along the Rio Grande will protect them. Such is their faith in their political leaders and propagandists.
What a packet of lies! Inter-continental missiles can ‘rain down’ on New York, Washington and Los Angeles.
It is time to wake up!
It is time to stop the US – EU headlong race to World War III!
Where to start? Libya has been irrevocably destroyed; it is too late there! Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are aflame. We are being plunged deeper into war while being told we are withdrawing! Ukraine sucks in more guns and more troops!
Can we really have peace with Iran if we cannot control our own government as it dances to the Israelis tune? And Israel insists on war – our waging war for them! As the Israeli war criminal General and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon once told some worried American Zionists: “Trouble with the US? We lead them by the nose…!”
Just look at the terrified families fleeing carnage in the Middle East or Mexico.
What is to be done?
When will we cut our losses and shake off the bonds of these war makers – foreign and domestic?
An online video of Indian MP Shashi Tharoor arguing that Britain should pay India reparations for its colonial legacy has gone viral. It prompted much enthusiasm in the Indian press and parliament, as well as responses in the British press arguing both for and against Tharoor’s proposal. Interestingly, it also prompted a short article in the Guardian newspaper, ‘How much did you really learn about the British empire in school?”
The article did not really answer the title’s question, even though the answer is ‘bugger all’.
It is quite extraordinary that British school children learn essentially nothing about an empire upon which ‘the sun never set’, which invaded every country on the planet bar 22 countries, spawned the world’s superpower, the United States, and that drew up the borders to so many countries with long-lasting negative results – Pakistan/India (Kashmir conflict), Sykes-Picot (divided up the Middle East), Nigeria, South Africa, and so on.
I had a British education in the 1980s and 1990s. In history lessons we touched on ancient Egypt, the Romans, the Vikings, then flash forwarded to Agincourt, Tudor England, the Industrial Revolution, the two World Wars, and some Cold War history. Colonialism was barely mentioned, or de-colonisation. Students had no idea about the true scale and the long history of the British empire. Then at university, where I studied international history and international politics, I encountered next to nothing about British colonialism; one course was on de-colonisation in Africa, but that was a class only history students took. In fact, I learned more about the British empire from the Flashman novels than I did at school or university – through George McDonald Fraser’s witty novels I read for the first time about the First Anglo-Afghan War (1839-42), the First Anglo-Sikh War (1845-6), the Indian War of Independence (or Mutiny as the Brits call it in 1857), the British and French invasion of China (the Second Opium War, 1856-1860), the invasion of Abyssinia (1868), and the White Rajah of Sarawak.
While Fraser had no real truck with imperialism, his extensive footnotes allowed you to read between the lines, and importantly learn something about what perfidious Albion was up to in the nineteenth century.
The Flashman novels aside, there are few other popular novels about the British empire (although J.G. Farrell’s excellent Empire Trilogy comes to mind), or films for that matter, certainly with a critical perspective produced over the past few decades. It is as if there is a collective amnesia about Britain’s imperial past. The one place you do encounter it is at the Imperial War Museum in London, but that is very much a hagiographic experience, not touching on the dark side of colonialism.
This amnesia extends to political studies too. Despite studying international relations at university, British foreign policy – old and contemporary – was not taught. An internet search showed that only one British university covers British foreign policy, as if Britain was not at all an actor on the world stage, not a part of the G8 or the UN Security Council, and was practising isolationism, when we know that is far from being the case. This is also extraordinary. There were – and still are – plenty of research papers and essays written about US foreign policy – invariably bashing it – but the same does not apply to British foreign policy; Europe yes, but not about what is coming out of Westminster and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). Indeed, the FCO’s title says it all really, which should mean students, academics and journalists should be devoting as much, if not more, attention to its activities than Washington’s.
In conversation with Mark Curtis shortly after he published “Unpeople: Britain’s Secret Human Rights Abuses”, in which he states Britain bears “significant responsibility” since 1945 for the direct or indirect deaths of 8.6 million to 13.5 million people throughout the world, I asked him how many people were going through declassified British documents. He answered just one other research he knew of, Caroline Elkins, for her book “Britain’s Gulag: the Brutal End of Empire in Kenya”.
No academics or investigative journalists? He answered in the negative. That may, one hopes, have changed since 2005. But the title to George Monbiot’s article in 2012 discussing Elkins’ book still holds true, ‘Deny the British empire’s crimes? No, we ignore them’.
To have discovered about Britain’s past – varnished and unvarnished – has been a long term endeavour, from one’s own volition. Travel has also helped to discover the true extent of Britain’s empire and its legacy. The fact that all plug sockets in the Gulf Cooperation Council countries are British speaks volumes. Unless I had been there and read about the Gulf, I would never have known that the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Bahrain all got their independence from Britain in 1971, and Kuwait in 1961. Or known that Cyprus got independence in 1960 – despite the ongoing presence of British Sovereign Base Areas – Uganda in 1962 and Tanzania in 1963. Hong Kong in 1997.
None of these ‘handbacks’ are very old, at all, yet few Brits below a certain age would know, and I would bet the vast majority of schoolchildren as well as university students today wouldn’t know either. Students wouldn’t be able to point on the map the countries that were British colonies. India perhaps. But would they know about the rest of Asia, Africa, South America, the Caribbean? Perhaps from the Commonwealth Games the public would have an idea, but the history of how Britain ‘acquired’ its colonies would be missing.
Tharoor’s suggestion that Britain should pay India reparations, even a token £1 ($1.54) a year as a form of apology for 200 years of occupation, should be strongly considered. Teaching children about the British empire should also be a major component of the curriculum. It is, quite simply, ridiculous that such a broad sway of history is not touched upon, especially a history that has had such a profound effect on the modern world.
Paul Cochrane is a freelance journalist and commentator based in Beirut, Lebanon for the past eight years. He covers the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent. He can be reached at: email@example.com.
The debate that has opened up regarding the International Criminal Court as a consequence of South Africa’s decision not to arrest Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir while he was attending the recent African Union summit in Johannesburg and Palestine’s successful application to join the court is long overdue.
The pursuit of justice, in the wake of wrong-doing and especially in the face of crimes against humanity and war crimes, is one of mankind’s most noble instincts. The International Criminal Court was embraced with understandable enthusiasm by a wide range of people, non-governmental organisations and governments when it came into being on 1 July 2002. Less than eight years later, however, the ICC-friendly Economist found itself obliged to publish an article about the court entitled “International justice: Courting disaster?” The court had already shown the behaviour that would come to irretrievably undermine it. Entering the fourteenth year of its existence, the International Criminal Court still finds itself unable to credibly respond to allegations of selectivity, racism, incompetence and impotence.
With hindsight, it can be seen that the Court clearly contained the seeds of its own destruction from the start. Good law evolves over decades. It is said that a camel is a horse designed by a committee. The ICC is a court designed by non-governmental organisations. The Rome statute was driven and largely drafted by non-governmental organisations within a month on a take it or leave it basis. The chief counsel of the Israeli delegation in Rome at the time noted of the NGOs that were present that “They were in on nearly every meeting. They were in on everything.” The end result was a founding statute that that even avid fans of the ICC acknowledged was seriously flawed. The resultant ICC is a judicial Frankenstein’s monster.
Many of those who initially welcomed the establishment of the court were African. They joined an institution they were assured would be independent and which would proceed without fear or favour. The body before them today, however, bears little resemblance to what was claimed of it in 2002. Despite having received almost 9,000 formal complaints about alleged war crimes in at least 139 countries, the ICC has focused exclusively on Africa, choosing to indict 36 black Africans in eight African countries. African heads of state have perhaps understandably spoken of “race hunting” by a court largely funded by Africa’s former colonial powers. Unsurprisingly, the African Union has publicly called upon its 54 members not to co-operate with the court.
The credibility of any court is its independence. The truth is that the ICC is as independent as the United Nations Security Council, and its European funders, lets it be. Far from being an independent, impartial, international court, the ICC is inextricably tied to the UN Security Council. Articles 13(b) and 16 of the ICC’s own statute grant special “prosecutorial” rights, to refer or defer an ICC investigation or prosecution, to the Security Council, or more specifically to the five Permanent members of the Security Council. Political interference was thus made part of the Court’s founding terms of reference. There is the deeply questionable situation whereby three of the five Permanent members – the United States, China and the Russian Federation – who are not members of the Court, claim to be able to refer other non-signatories to the Rome Statute to the Court when it is politically expedient for them so to do, something they have done on two occasions. The former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has admitted that “questions of credibility will persist so long” as three of the five permanent members of the Security Council are not parties to the Statute.
The court is also inextricably tied to the European Union which provides over 60 percent of its funding. The ICC has come to be seen within Africa very much as a European-funded and directed instrument of European foreign policy. The United States has forcefully pointed out that the ICC is a kangaroo court, a travesty of justice open to political influence, and has said that no American citizen will ever come before it.
Politics aside, the sheer incompetence of the Court at a basic level has been breathtaking. The court’s proceedings thus far have often been questionable where not simply farcical. Those who brought the ICC into being appear to be more concerned with gender balance rather than competence on the bench. Its judges – some of whom have never been lawyers, let alone judges – are the result of grubbily corrupt vote-trading amongst member states. Far from securing the best legal minds in the world this produces mediocrity. There is more than a passing resemblance to FIFA in as much as at least one elected “judge” had neither law degree nor legal experience but her country had contributed handsomely to the ICC budget. The Court has produced witnesses who recanted their testimony the moment they got into the witness box, admitting that they were coached by non-governmental organisations as to what false statements to make. Dozens of other “witnesses” have similarly disavowed their “evidence”. Most recently the ICC prosecutor had to admit that one of its own star witnesses in its case against Kenyan Vice-President Ruto was “a thoroughly unreliable and incredible” witness. Much the same can be said about the ICC as a whole.
There have been numerous examples of prosecutorial misconduct, not least of which the ICC Chief Prosecutor hiding hundreds of items of exculpatory evidence, which should have ended any trial because they would have compromised the integrity of any legal process. The same Chief Prosecutor was not only seemingly unaware of the basic legal concept of presumption of innocence but also threatened to criminalise third-parties who might argue a presumption of innocence on the part of those indicted – and as yet unconvicted – by the court.
But most disturbingly of all, while claiming that preventing and ending conflict is its most important raison d’etre the ICC’s pseudo-legal blundering has derailed delicate peace processes across the continent – thereby prolonging war. One can expect more of the same from any involvement it may come to have in the Middle East.
The reality is that the International Criminal Court is a billion Euro white elephant that is simply unfit for purpose. It has been a disaster for the concept of international justice. If the answer is the International Criminal Court, it must have been a stupid question.
The writer is the author of Justice Denied: The Reality of the International Criminal Court, a 610-page study of the International Criminal Court published by the Africa Research Centre. The book is available to read or download at www.africaresearchcentre.org The author can be contacted by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
George Clooney is being paid by the world’s top two war profiteers, Lockheed-Martin and Boeing, to oppose war profiteering by Africans disloyal to the U.S. government’s agenda.
Way back yonder before World War II, war profiteering was widely frowned on in the United States. Those of us trying to bring back that attitude, and working for barely-funded peace organizations, ought to be thrilled when a wealthy celebrity like George Clooney decides to take on war profiteering, and the corporate media laps it up.
“Real leverage for peace and human rights will come when the people who benefit from war will pay a price for the damage they cause,” said Clooney — without encountering anything like the blowback Donald Trump received when he criticized John McCain.
Really, is that all it takes to give peace a chance, a celebrity? Will the media now cover the matter of who funds opponents of the Iran deal, and who funds supporters of the wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, etc.?
Well, no, not really.
It turns out Clooney opposes, not war profiteering in general, but war profiteering while African. In fact, Clooney’s concern is limited, at least thus far, to five African nations: Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, though these are not the only nations in Africa or the world with serious wars underway.
Of the top 100 weapons makers in the world, not a single one is based in Africa. Only 1 is in South or Central America. Fifteen are in Western allies and protectorates in Asia (and China is not included in the list). Three are in Israel, one in Ukraine, and 13 in Russia. Sixty-six are in the United States, Western Europe, and Canada. Forty are in the U.S. alone. Seventeen of the top 30 are in the U.S. Six of the top 10 mega-profiteers are in the U.S. The other four in the top 10 are in Western Europe.
Clooney’s new organization, “The Sentry,” is part of The Enough Project, which is part of the Center for American Progress, which is a leading backer of “humanitarian” wars, and various other wars for that matter — and which is funded by the world’s top war profiteer, Lockheed Martin, and by number-two Boeing, among other war profiteers.
According to the Congressional Research Service, in the most recent edition of an annual report that it has now discontinued, 79% of all weapons transfers to poor nations are from the United States. That doesn’t include U.S. weapons in the hands of the U.S. military, which has now moved into nearly every nation in Africa. When drugs flow north the United States focuses on the supply end of the exchange as an excuse for wars. When weapons flow south, George Clooney announces that we’ll stop backward violence at the demand side by exposing African corruption.
The spreading of the U.S. empire through militarism is most often justified by the example of Rwanda as a place where the opportunity for a humanitarian war, to prevent the Rwanda Genocide, was supposedly missed. But the United States backed an invasion of Rwanda in 1990 by a Ugandan army led by U.S.-trained killers, and supported their attacks for three-and-a-half years, applying more pressure through the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and USAID. U.S.-backed and U.S.-trained war-maker Paul Kagame — now president of Rwanda — is the leading suspect behind the shooting down of a plane carrying the then-presidents of Rwanda and Burundi on April 6, 1994. As chaos followed, the U.N. might have sent in peacekeepers (not the same thing, be it noted, as dropping bombs) but Washington was opposed. President Bill Clinton wanted Kagame in power, and Kagame has now taken the war into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with U.S. aid and weapons, where 6 million have been killed. And yet nobody ever says “We must prevent another Congo!”
What does George Clooney’s new organization say about the DRC? A very different story from that told by Friends of the Congo. According to Clooney’s group the killing in the Congo happens “despite years of international attention,” not because of it. Clooney’s organization also promotes this argument for more U.S. warmaking in the DRC from Kathryn Bigelow, best known for producing the CIA propaganda film Zero Dark Thirty.
On Sudan as well, there’s no blame for U.S. interference; instead Clooney’s crew has produced a brief for regime change.
The Central African Republic gets the same diagnosis as the others: local ahistorical spontaneous corruption and backwardness leading to war.
Clooney’s co-founder of the Sentry (dictionary definition of “Sentry” is “A guard, especially a soldier posted at a given spot to prevent the passage of unauthorized persons”) is John Prendergast, former Africa director for the National Security Council. Watch Prendergast find himself awkwardly in a debate with an informed person here.
Clooney’s wife, incidentally, works for U.S.-friendly dictators and brutal killers in places like Bahrain and Libya.
More nations could soon be spotted by The Sentry. The President of Nigeria was at the U.S. Institute of “Peace” this week pleading for weapons. U.S. troops are in Cameroon this week training fighters.
Another is to let The Sentry know what it’s missing. It asks for anonymous tips when you spot war profiteering. Have you ever turned on C-Span? If you see something, say something. Let The Sentry know about the Pentagon.
On Tuesday, July 14, German Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared on a television program called “Good Life in Germany” in which she spoke to local teenagers. Among the audience was 13-year old Reem, a Palestinian refugee who fled their camp in Lebanon four years ago.
In a shaky voice of fluent German, young Reem said, “I have goals like everyone else…I want to go to university.” But, she explained, she and her family are facing deportation. “It’s very unpleasant to see how others can enjoy life, and I can’t myself,” she said, “I want to study like them.”
Chancellor Merkel responded with the standard western fear of immigrants. She said if Germany allows her to stay, there would be thousands of Palestinian refugees, then thousands from “Africa” [that singular large country] who will flood into Germany. “We can’t cope with that,” she said. Young Reem crumbled into sobs and the footage of her interaction with Chancellor Merkel went viral.
Headlines and political analyses across Europe and the US spoke of Merkel’s dry response to a brave young girl, desperate for an education, for a stable life, for something other than lingering fear and uncertainty to frame her life. I read at least 15 opinion pieces on the subject and most of them couched this incident in the much discussed “immigration crisis” across Western Europe. Leftist pundits decried the chancellor as heartless, insisting on Europe’s humanitarian responsibility toward the wretched of the earth. Right leaning pundits reflected Merkel’s sentiments that Europe has enough to worry about and should not be expected to shoulder the world’s problems. Others were simply pragmatic, echoing the words of Eva Lohse, president of the German association of Cities, who cautioned, “we’re reaching the limits of our capacity.”
All these analyses missed the most important point.
Not one of them touched on the fact that Reem is a refugee directly and indirectly because of German actions. Reem, and “thousands upon thousands of Palestinian refugees,” as Merkel put it, are stateless precisely because Germany, along with other western nations, continue to support zionist colonialism that expelled, and continues to expel, native Palestinians from their ancestral homeland.
Reem would not need German “charity” were Germany to insist that the massive military and financial aid it gives to Israel were contingent upon Israel’s adherence to basic tenets of morality and international law that explicitly provide for Reem’s right to live in her native homeland. Reem might not be lost in the world were Germany to make the many lucrative European economic and trade incentives with Israel subject to the dismantling of zionist Apartheid that deems Reem a lesser human, unworthy of her own heritage, home and history.
More than the enormous material support is the favor that Germany provides for Israel to continue its entrenchment of the structural and institutional racism that offers state privilege and entitlement to citizens in accordance with their religion. It because of the political cover that Germany offers Israel to destroy Palestinian life, society and culture with impunity that Reem remains a refugee. Last summer, for example, after Israel slaughtered Palestinians in Gaza from land, air, and sea, the UN Human Rights Council urged the UN to “urgently dispatch an independent, international commission of inquiry to investigate all violations [of international law] in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military operations conducted since 13 June 2014.” Despite the horrors that Palestinians endured in the course of 51 days, Germany could not muster the most minimal affirmation of Palestinian humanity to vote in favor of such an inquiry.
Watching the footage, those of us with a sense of history seethe at such a spectacle of western paternalism. Merkel’s response to Reem was a perfect display of the breathtaking willful denial of western governments, which are, indeed, creators of refugees. The truth is that our part of the world lay in ruin, fear, and devastation largely because of imperialist western “operations” in pursuit of a hegemony that holds our lives in contempt, utter disregard and disrespect. From Iraq to Palestine to Libya, Germany has played a terrible and pivotal role in the evisceration of us. Together with her western allies, they have made beggars of our mothers, doctors and teachers, and produced generations of traumatized, illiterates into what were once high functioning populations. They destroyed our societies down to their foundations, vanquishing the social mechanisms that marginalize extreme elements, such that into the chaos and gaping misery of our lives now runs amuck a powerful organization of ghoulish fanatics.
So, to the leftist, the right wing, and the pragmatic pundits, I say spare us, please, the self-serving blather about whether you should or should not “help” others. It would be enough to cease the harm caused and perpetuated by the west. At a minimum, try to inject a kernel of honest self-reproach into your discourse on immigration. Examine your role in creating the crises around the world that bring desperate human beings to your shores. Ask why is Reem a refugee, perhaps third or fourth generation, and what is Germany’s role in the boundless tragedy that continues to befall Palestine.
For two decades, Western elites have spun a tale of how Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame heroically ended the 1994 genocide in that country. That narrative has persisted despite the fact that a great deal of evidence shows that Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) did much of the killing and has committed extraordinary levels of violence in neighboring Congo since invading that country not long after seizing power.
The recent BBC telecast of Rwanda: The Untold Story indicates that the truth about Kagame may finally be penetrating the mainstream. “Rwanda: The Untold Story” presents much information that contradicts the official narrative, specifically that the dramatic escalation in violence began not in April 1994 but in October 1990 when the RPF invaded from its outposts in Uganda; that RPF forces killed tens of thousands of people in the 42-month period from the invasion to April 1994; and that the RPF is responsible for the deaths of several hundred thousand more Rwandans during the three month period of bloodshed in 1994.
In contrast, the spinners of the “Kagame the Hero” tale have put the entire responsibility on the Hutu-controlled government and armed Hutu mobs. The RPF’s 1990 invasion, meanwhile, has been completely written out of history in the official narrative, as has RPF responsibility for the shooting down of a plane carrying Rwandan president Juvenal Habyarimana. It was immediately after the murder of Habyarimana that what has been known since as the Rwandan Genocide began.
Another part of the official narrative that was exposed long ago by Edward Herman, Robin Philpot, and others is that the U.S. didn’t do enough to stop the killing. In fact, Kagame was an imperial operative as early as the 1980s who trained at Fort Leavenworth and the U.S. was closely allied with the RPF even before the 1990 invasion. Throughout the spring of 1994, the Clinton administration was proactive in blocking the UN from taking measures that might have prevented much of the killing. Former United Nations Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, for one, has put the entire blame for what happened in Rwanda in the 1990s on the United States.
In addition, while the Rwandan government and France, its primary ally, supported international action to stop the killing, Kagame was so determined to take complete control of the country that he eschewed a ceasefire and negotiations. The inescapable conclusion is that the mounting deaths on both sides were acceptable to Kagame and, by extension, the U.S., so long as the end result was complete victory and the ascension of the RPF to power.
From the outset, both Hutu and Tutsi survivors, U.N. officials, and numerous investigators have presented an entirely different version of events. Those stories, which have been fortified by population studies and other means, reveal that both sides are each responsible for hundreds of thousands of killings. These dissident voices have been ignored and, in the case of several studies by human rights groups and the U.N., suppressed – at least until the airing of “Rwanda: The Untold Story.”
Perpetrators and supporters of empire, who have never seen a U.S. war crime they didn’t like, have attacked critics of the official narrative and obfuscated who really benefits from the ongoing warfare. It’s a neat trick practiced regularly: falsely accuse dissidents of denying atrocities and deny imperial atrocities, all the while obscuring the billions in U.S. business profits made possible by Kagame’s invasions of the Congo.
Western plunder of the region dates to the murderous rule of Belgian King Leopold II. No sooner did the Congolese independence movement succeed in 1960 than Congolese reactionaries and their Belgian and CIA helpers overthrew and eventually murdered Patrice Lumumba, the nation’s first elected prime minister. Eventually installed in Lumumba’s place was U.S. puppet Mobutu Sese Seko, who for 30 years served U.S. business interests as zealously as Kagame has. A succession of U.S. administrations have hailed Mobutu as a great man. The Clintons, Madeline Albright, George W. Bush, Samantha Power and Susan Rice all hail Kagame as “the man who ended the Rwandan Genocide.” Never mind the millions of Congolese who have been killed or died from starvation, disease and other causes traced directly to Kagame’s invasions.
The unraveling of the official Rwanda story has global implications, as the U.S. has invoked “preventing another Rwanda” to justify invasions of the former Yugoslavia, Libya and large swaths of the Middle East. With a population increasingly alarmed by endless wars of aggression, the fact that the foundation for those acts is one big lie brings us closer to the day when we can end forever imperial ambitions and war.
Andy Piascik is an award-winning author and is syndicated by PeaceVoice.
Speech of the Secretary General of Hezbollah, Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, on the occasion of International Al-Quds Day (Jerusalem), July 10, 2015.
[…] Israel announces its satisfaction with the civil wars ravaging the entire region, and works through its secret services and in different ways to extend these wars. And unfortunately, many countries have been affected by this disaster, and we see what is now being prepared against Algeria, with unfortunately, once again, a sectarian appearance.
At present, I have no detailed information, I do not claim to be a specialist in this matter, but every time that there were problems in some regions, the media spoke of ethnic differences, or ethnic considerations, namely between Arabs and Amazigh (Berber). But I have seen, in recent days, some foreign (Western) channels broadcast in Arabic [BBC Arabic, France 24, etc.] speak of fights between Malikis and Ibadits. That is to say that the West wants to present this as a denominational and sectarian conflict.
This is what (the West) is implementing in the whole of the region.
During this conference (of the Israeli High Command), the impudence of Israelis went as far as calling for an Arab-Israeli alliance to confront terrorism. Conceive of it: Israel calling for an Arab-Israeli alliance to confront terrorism! And what is terrorism for them? Iran and the Resistance movements. Now, so that the imposture not be too blatant, they put Daech (the Islamic State) with us. But of course they did not include the Al-Nusra Front, or Al-Qaeda or other movements like Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, or Boko Haram or… or… or…
So this hypocrite Israel claims it shows solidarity with Egypt in the Sinai, and it incites the conflict between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, especially with the Hamas movement. In Syria, Israel presents itself as the protector of the Druze, while it fully supports the Al-Nusra Front and armed takfiri groups that threaten all Syrians, not just the Druze. This is pure hypocrisy. This is hypocrisy and deception.
But regardless of the details, Israel that is the mother of terrorism, the source of terrorism, the terrorist country, the entity that was founded by a terrorist organisation, and, to use philosophical concepts, the only state whose very essence is terrorism, whose nature is terrorism, that Israel presents itself as fighting against terrorism? Do you see what times we are in? The Israel that just a year ago, led the most merciless war and perpetrated the most heinous crimes, war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza, so that the reports of international institutions that, at all times, exonerated Israel, have failed, this time, to conceal the truth: the number of women and children killed by Israel, the number of houses destroyed, all the blood of Gaza civilians that was spilt. And after that, it dares to present itself as a civilised country, and claims to be part of a project or an Axis fighting against terrorism. Of course, this is the pinnacle of impudence.
And we must be careful not to mislead ourselves, because unfortunately there are people who may sometimes, because of the impact of terrorism on them, say “What do I care, about Israel? My priority, is this terrorism that is attacking me!” For the existing takfiri terrorism today is among the major adversities faced by our (Muslim) Community. Because (these terrorists) do not fight on a political basis, or for a political project, but on the basis of religious affiliation, or current of thought, or sectarian affiliation. And all the killings that are currently taking place throughout the region are committed on this basis, and not on a political basis or for a political struggle.
Well, the last point that shows that Israel is our enemy, who does it consider to be a threat? Who according to him is a threat? There is only one direction, only one country which represents a threat for Israel: after what happened in Syria, this country (Syria) was removed from the list of threats. All that remains is Iran. The Islamic Republic of Iran. That is why we have seen, during the (Israeli) conference of Herzliya, before, and after, that the spirit of Israel is completely obsessed and captured by Iran, by the Islamic Republic: by its nuclear program, the development of its ballistic capacity, its economy, its democracy, the support of its people for its leaders, the health of its leaders and the health of the country… For everything related to Iran, one can see Israel secure its full attention and work on it, both inside and outside of Iran, and at all international forums. The only target for Israel is the Islamic Republic of Iran, and with it, the Resistance movements.
As for Israel, despite all our consideration and our respect for the Resistance movements and for ourselves (there is no harm if we manifest our respect for ourselves!), the Resistance movements have not reached the stage where they are, from Israel’s point of view, an existential danger. It is not shameful to say the truth, and that is the truth. Yes, the Resistance movements now represent a strategic danger, but they have not reached the point of representing an existential threat (to Israel). Today, on the whole of the face of the Earth, the only state, the only entity, the only thing that is considered by Israel as an existential danger to them is the Islamic Republic of Iran. These are undeniable truths. If someone claims things are different, may he come (and expose his analysis to us).
And this is why Israel incites the entire world against Iran: the United States, Congress… Netanyahu is ready to ruin his relations with the White House by urging Congress against Iran… Israel incites the Arabs (against Iran)… And many of these Arab regimes already have, by nature, such calculations, such a mentality, such a vision (hostile to Iran). This is the reality.
Question: does this not represent, today (I raise this point), if we calm somewhat, as Arabs, as Muslims, as Palestinians, as peoples of the region, if someone relaxes a bit and calmly reflects, away from the bullets, the suffering, the screaming, the problems and the Arab channels, and wonders seriously: Why? Why Israel… In all the Arab and Islamic world, worldwide, with its billion and a half Muslims, its states, its armies, its peoples… Israel fears no one, cares about no one, does not pay attention to anyone except Iran. Why Iran? Should we not pose this question on the occasion of the International Day of Al-Quds (Jerusalem)? Why this total hostility against Iran on the part of the Zionists? Why do we see nothing of this sensitivity, this preoccupation, this anxiety, this fear, this precaution, for example on the part of Israel with regard to Saudi Arabia? Or in respect to any other Arab regime? So that no one say that today, Sayed (Nasrallah) was bitter against Saudi Arabia. No, it is a logical and natural question: why?
Today, at this very moment, the Arab countries and the Arab armies buy billions of dollars of aircraft, missiles, artillery, anti-tank weapons, long-range missiles… Israel does not care in the least because there is a certainty, a confidence, a guarantee, not just a written commitment: they have absolute confidence and certainty in this official Arab mentality, and these official Arab regimes, to the point of having no need for guarantees or written commitments. And experience is the best proof: for 67 years, what for example have the Arabs done, most of them? In short, because Israel knows with certainty that the official Arab regimes have sold them Palestine, Al-Quds (Jerusalem) and the Palestinian people. And the proof is what has happened for 67 years and to this day.
Well, this year, they paid a visit to Gaza: have Gazan homes been rebuilt? What is the situation of the wounded of Gaza? Where is the blockade of Gaza? How are the people of Gaza? If a small portion of the billions of dollars being spent on the war against Yemen, the war against Syria, the war against Iraq and the repression of the populations, was spent on Gaza, would we not today have Gaza in a more acceptable situation? Are they not part of Palestine? Are they not part of the (Islamic) Community? And forgive me for expressing myself again like this, but today we are forced to speak in these terms, are they not a part of the Sunni community? Are they not Muslims, who fast and pray? Why are they abandoned? Because there is an official Arab decision to sell Palestine (to Israel). Palestine has no existence (for them). And the Palestinians are subjected to torture and live in ruins because of it.
And because Israel also knows that the takfiri project, which is sponsored by some Arab countries, does not care about Palestine and Al-Quds (Jerusalem), and that its battle is on other fields, and that this takfiri project completely serves Israeli interests and destroyed for them, without them making any effort, Syria and Iraq, it participated in the destruction of Yemen and spreads sectarian and ethnic conflicts among all Muslims and Christians, tearing apart our (Islamic) Community, and tearing through the national and social fabric in each of our countries, and freely (for Israel).
Who then still carries the flag (of the Palestinian cause)? I do not say this to praise Iran, but to come to a stance. I request a stance to be taken. The one who continues to carry the flag, to face the enemy and refuse to recognise the very existence of this entity, even though the negotiations and the agreement on the nuclear issue should be stopped because of this, whether the current discussions in Vienna that last longer than expected or the ones to come. You will remember that Netanyahu asked that the agreement include the recognition of the existence of Israel by Iran. And I tell you: if the entire nuclear dossier should be closed and Iran be given everything it wanted on the nuclear issue, including what she did not even dare to dream, if the condition was (only) the acknowledgment by Iran of Israel’s existence, the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Republic of Imam Khomeini, under the leadership of His Eminence Imam Khamenei, through his government, the Chamber of Deputies and his people, would never accept such a clause, as Iran would leave its religion by doing so. They know that this is Iran.
And because Iran continues to face the enemy, it is Iran who support the Axis of Resistance, its states, its peoples and its countries, politically, morally, materially, financially, in terms of arms, on the roof and in full sunlight (in plain sight). And this is something that nobody dares to do, or, so as not to exaggerate, that many are afraid to do. Despite the severe sanctions that Iran suffered for over 30 years, and the threat of permanent war and bombing of its facilities. Because Iran is such a threat to Israel, and for the project of American domination over the region, military wars have been fought against it in the past, and media wars, political, psychological and economic wars are conducted against it, wars involving the instruments and allies of the United States in the region, who constituted by their acts the best support for Israel for decades.
On this International Day of Al-Quds (Jerusalem), allow me to speak frankly with Muslims, Christians, Arabs, Palestinians, with the Resistance movements, and whoever supports and sustains the Palestinian cause: you cannot be with Palestine but by being alongside the Islamic Republic of Iran. And if you’re the enemies of the Islamic Republic of Iran, then you are the enemies of Palestine and Al-Quds (Jerusalem). Why is this? These are not empty slogans. Because the only hope remaining after God the Exalted and Most High, to recover Palestine and Al-Quds (Jerusalem), is this Islamic Republic, its help and support to the people and the Resistance movements in the region, and primarily to the Palestinian people. As long as the world is divided into poles, military camps and positions, we must be clear and straightforward: if we want to be serious and sincere, if we leave aside the partisanship, if we want to be logical, this is the logical vision: this enemy (Israel) unanimously recognises what I say, there is no one in Israel that says anything else about the Islamic Republic of Iran.
As for attempts to escape this historic and decisive stance on the pretext of the “Persian project”… There is no “Persian project”! It is deception to keep people away from a genuine and sincere ally of the Arabs and Muslims and all peoples of the region, namely Iran. Everything concerning a Safavid project is nothing but empty words, exhumed from ancient history. Everything about evoking an ostensible Shiite crescent (is futile)… And besides, Iran is now accused in Yemen, but the (alleged) crescent would be distorted by such a movement. The crescent was to be Iran-Iraq-Syria-Lebanon: how would the crescent reach Yemen? Who are they trying to fool? These are just lies concocted by the corrupt official Arab mentality which has abandoned Palestine and Al-Quds (Jerusalem), and if anyone approaches to lend a helping hand to Palestine and Al-Quds, they will present them as an enemy, as evidenced by the fact that the Shah (of Iran) was not their enemy when he was an ally of Israel [although he was also Shiite]. But now they want to present Iran as an enemy. How to achieve this? Pretend that there is a Shiite crescent, they want to spread Shiism, it is a Persian project, it is a Safavi project, etc. These are absurd and empty statements.
Translated from Arabic by Sayed Hasan
Translated from French by Jenny Bright
Later this month the outcome is expected of the completely unjust and incompetent show trials held in Libya over the last year or so of around 200 former officials of the Libyan Jamahiriya. If that outcome is reported at all in North American and European media, its real meaning will be completely hidden in self-serving apologetics for NATO’s destruction of Libya in 2011.
The same psy-warfare framework that justified NATO’s campaign of terrorist aggression will falsely present the show trials’ outcome as rough justice dealt out to individuals who deserve no better.
That outcome should put on high alert anyone defending the countries of the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas against very similar psychological warfare and terrorist subversion supported by NATO governments of the US and its allies. Not for nothing did Hugo Chávez and Daniel Ortega speak out in defense of Muammar al Gaddhafi and Libya against NATO’s terrorist war. They had already learned long ago the very same lessons to have emerged more recently from the utterly depressing human, moral and political catastrophe of Libya’s destruction.
In 2013, a study by a distinguished Harvard University academic acknowledged that the failure in Libya of the US government’s ostensible avowed policy in Libya and in North and West Africa was based on serial falsehoods. That fact-based, acerbic policy criticism from a source generally supportive of US government foreign policy should give much pause for thought. Along with support for Libya from outstanding revolutionary leaders like Ortega, Chavez and Nelson Mandela it amounts to a categorical indictment of received Western opinion about Libya which, across virtually the entire Western political spectrum, sided either openly or indirectly with NATO’s 2011 war.
No one genuinely concerned to defend progress towards an equitable, peaceful multi-polar world based on mutual respect between sovereign, autonomous nations and peoples should underestimate or forget the horror of what NATO did to Libya. Tens of thousands were killed and wounded in attacks by the bombers and helicopters of many NATO countries. Millions were displaced or forced into exile. Cities like Sirte and Bani Walid were devastated. Schools, universities, hospitals, factories producing food products and other essential civilian infrastructure were targeted and severely damaged or destroyed.
The destruction of Libya marked the categorical abandonment of whatever vestigial moral authority may still have remained to the European Union and its member governments.
It demonstrated in the most humiliating way the impotence and irrelevance of the African Union.
It put hard questions about the anti-imperialism of the Iranian and Syrian governments as well as highlighting the race supremacism of the governments of the Arab League and the already damaged integrity of the Palestinian authorities.
Almost all of them quickly recognized the overtly racist renegade Libyan CNT junta. For their part, the then governments of Russia and China weakly accepted NATO country assurances about the defensive nature of the air exclusion zone.
The only governments to emerge with any real credit from the destruction of Libya were the governments of the ALBA countries and a few African governments like Zimbabwe.
Countries like Cuba, Venezuela, Argentina, Nicaragua, Bolivia and Ecuador have all been victims of comprehensive disinformation campaigns of demonization and caricature, although perhaps not so extreme as the final campaign against Libya’s Jamahiriya and Muammar al Gaddhafi.
It is worth considering the basic component of that disinformation war against Libya. What is sometimes called 4th generation warfare is as old as warfare itself. Like Athens versus Sparta, or Rome versus Carthage the fundamental objective of NATO governments and their allies is to make their chosen target seem Other, creating a despised, outcast doppelganger anti-image of the West’s own phony self-image.
So Libya’s Jamahiriya was tagged as undemocratic by hypocritical Western governments, most of whom came to power with around just 20% to 25% of the vote of their electorates, thanks overwhelmingly to elite corporate funding. Libya’s democratic process was one that recognized its society’s contradictions and attempted continual self-renewal.
By contrast, the Western corporate oligarchies offer virtually meaningless periodic elections obfuscated by public relations and organized on a yes-or-yes basis to favor politicians groomed and bankrolled by their countries’ anti-democratic elites. Muammar al Ghaddafi was labeled a dictator even though his policy initiatives were not infrequently rejected within Libya’s system of popular congresses.
In 2009, during a policy conflict between Muammar al Gaddhafi and pro-Western so-called reformers, these could not get their way in Libya’s popular assemblies so they chose staging a violent putsch to achieve the regime change their Western government backers wanted. Venezuela’s experience has been almost identical, although, to date, the country has avoided the kind of coup d’état and subsequent NATO driven war that destroyed Libya Libya was portrayed as a systematic human rights violator.
But Libya’s response to the constant terrorist attacks and subversion it suffered from the very start of its Revolution in 1969 was no different to that of any Western government faced with a similar threat. The British government tortured and murdered alleged subversives all through the Irish war, colluding with sectarian paramilitary death squads. The same pattern of torture and extrajudicial murder also consistently marked the Spanish authorities’ campaign against Basque separatists. Guantanamo’s torture camp symbolizes the brutality and illegality of the US government’s response to terrorist threats.
Libya’s Jamahiriya probably conformed as closely to international human rights norms in relation to fighting terrorism as the three Western governments that led NATO’s war of destruction. Human rights protection in Libya was certainly superior to Western allies like Turkey, Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar or the other quasi-feudal Gulf State tyrannies.
All the pretexts for the Western assault on Libya’s legitimate government were completely bogus. In any case, as Gerald Perreira points out, the fundamental objective achieved by the destruction of Libya was to shut down the decisive impetus towards African integration led by Muammar al Gaddhafi.
CNT leaders like Mustafa Abdul Jalil were Arab supremacists who fiercely resisted the Pan-African policies advocated by Muammar al Gaddhafi. Arab supremacism, phony neoliberal reformism and the treachery of repressive human rights abusers like Mahmoud Jibril made a lethal reactionary cocktail perfectly suited to ruthless NATO government manipulation. On cue, Western corporate and alternative media presented the corrupt political project of these viciously reactionary elements as a “revolution”, part of the absurdly hyped “Arab Spring”. As if NATO country governments, dedicated to the service of their countries’ corporate elites, have ever promoted genuine democracy or comprehensive human rights around the world.
From Ukraine and Greece, to Yemen and Syria, to Haiti and Honduras, what the Western powers and their allies want is access to natural resources, control of strategically important territories and decisive advantages for their trade and finance. Destroying Libya effectively removed a real threat to Western control and domination in Africa.
Currently, the NATO country elites’ political sales staff, for the moment President Obama, Prime Minister Cameron, President Hollande and Chancellor Merkel, are battering Greece into submission. But those leaders and their allies are using economic and psychological warfare to attack many other targets, not just Greece. They do so against Venezuela and other stubbornly independent countries around the world.
That is why the leaders of Argentina, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela very publicly welcomed the No vote in the Greek referendum. Unlike Libya, in their different regions Syria and Venezuela are part of regional alliances backed at long last by firm leaders in Russia and China, strong enough to face down any likely economic or military threat from the United States and its allies.
But it would be a mistake to forget Libya. Defending the people of Libya represents an important self-defense measure against Western predators in their global psychological warfare assault on the free, anti-imperialist world.
As a leading force in that free world, ALBA country governments should urgently consider challenging the governments of North America and Europe to protect the thousands of political prisoners in Libya who have been tortured and denied due process.
The ALBA country governments and their allies have infinitely more moral and political authority than Western leaders to speak out in defense of fundamental human rights. They should make outspoken use of that authority now to expose the sadism and hypocrisy of Western governments in Libya, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere.
In Libya, they may perhaps yet help to save the lives of as many as 200 former officials of the Libyan Jamahiriya at risk from quasi-judicial murder by the West’s corrupt terrorist proxies in a country they have devastated with merciless cynicism.
It has taken Africa just over a decade to conclude that the International Criminal Court (ICC), established in 2002 by the Rome Statute, is simply unfit for purpose. That certainly is the conclusion of the South African government following the recent African Union summit in Johannesburg. The institution African countries signed up for post 1998, a court that promised to pursue injustice without fear or favor, is not the one they see before them today. They were sold a false bill of goods. The ICC’s claims to international jurisdiction and judicial independence are institutionally flawed and the Court’s reputation has been irretrievably damaged by its racism, blatant double-standards, hypocrisy, corruption and serious judicial irregularities.
While the ICC presents itself as the world’s court this is simply not the case. Its members represent just over one quarter of the world’s population: China, Russia, the United States, India, Pakistan and Indonesia are just some of the many countries that have remained outside of the Court’s jurisdiction.
A court is also only as credible as its independence. Far from being an independent and impartial court, the ICC’s own statute grants special “prosecutorial” rights of referral and deferral to the Security Council – by default its five permanent members (three of which are not even ICC members). Political interference in the legal process was thus made part of the Court’s founding terms of reference. The Court is also inextricably tied to the European Union which provides over 60 percent of its funding. The expression “He who pays the piper calls the tune” could not be more appropriate. The fact that the big five ICC funders are Africa’s former colonial masters also sits uneasily with a continent suspicious of recolonization by questionable legal diktat. The EU is additionally guilty of blatant political and economic blackmail in tying aid for developing countries to ICC membership.
Africa is also correct when it points out that the ICC is self-evidently a racist court, in that it treats one race of people differently to all others. Instead of impartially enforcing the Rome Statute, the Europeans have chosen to focus the Court exclusively on Africa. African heads of state have spoken of “race hunting.” Despite having received almost 9,000 formal complaints about alleged war crimes in at least 139 countries, the ICC has chosen to indict 36 black Africans in eight African countries. In so doing the ICC has ignored all European or Western human rights abuses in conflicts such as those in Afghanistan and Iraq or human rights abuses by Western client states. While the ICC’s key first two cases were African “self-referrals” it is now clear that the African governments were made “an offer they could not refuse”: refer yourself and we will only indict your rebels – if not we will indict both government and rebels.
The ICC has emerged very much as a European-funded and directed instrument of European foreign policy. Broader western hypocrisy is all too evident. The United States has forcefully pointed out that the ICC is a kangaroo court, a travesty of justice open to political influence and that no American citizen will ever come before it. Washington is nonetheless very happy, for its own political reasons, to demand that black Africans appear before it.
Double standards and politics aside, the ICC has shown itself to be irretrievably dysfunctional. The court’s proceedings thus far have often been questionable where not simply farcical. Its judges – some of whom have never been lawyers, let alone judges – are the result of grubbily corrupt vote-trading amongst member states. Far from securing the best legal minds in the world this produces mediocrity. At least one elected “judge” had neither law degree nor legal experience but her country had contributed handsomely to the ICC budget. The Court has produced witnesses who recanted their testimony the moment they got into the witness box, admitting that they were coached by non-governmental organizations as to what false statements to make. Dozens of other “witnesses” have similarly disavowed their “evidence.” Most recently the ICC prosecutor had to admit that one of its own star witnesses in its case against Kenyan Vice-President Ruto was “a thoroughly unreliable and incredible” witness.
And then there has also been the ICC prosecutor who was not only seemingly unaware of the legal concept of presumption of innocence but also threatened to criminalize third-parties who might argue a presumption of innocence on the part of those indicted – and as yet unconvicted – by the Court. A clearer case of Alice in Wonderland justice, along the lines of “sentence first, verdict afterwards,” is difficult to find. There has been prosecutorial misconduct, not least of which hiding exculpatory evidence, which should have ended any fair trial because they would have compromised the integrity of any legal process. The ICC’s first trial proceeded erratically because of crass prosecutorial misbehavior and judicial decisions to add new charges half-way through proceedings, a move that was subsequently overturned. Simply put, the Court and the prosecutor have been making things up as they go along.
The ICC claims to be “economical” and to bring “swift justice,” yet it has consumed more than a billion Euros in its 13-year existence and has only secured two questionable convictions. The ICC claims to be victim-centered yet Human Rights Watch has publicly criticized the ICC’s ambivalence towards victim communities. The ICC claims to be fighting impunity, yet it has granted de jure immunity to the United States and afforded de facto immunity and impunity to NATO member states and several serial abusers of human rights who happen to be friends of the European Union and United States.
Far from bringing peace to Africa, the ICC’s double-standards and autistic legal blundering has derailed delicate peace processes across the continent – thereby prolonging devastating civil wars. The court is responsible for the death, injury and displacement of many thousands of Africans. The ICC’s involvement in Uganda, for example, destroyed peace talks in that country, intensifying the conflict which then spread into three neighboring countries.”
The reality is that the ICC is an inept, corrupt, political court that does not have Africa’s welfare at heart, only the furtherance of Western, and especially European, foreign policy and its own bureaucratic imperative – to exist, to employ more Europeans and North Americans and where possible to continue to increase its budget – all at the expense of African lives. Three cheers for South Africa pointing out that the Emperor is naked.
Dr. David Hoile is the author of Justice Denied: The Reality of the International Criminal Court, a 610-page study of the International Criminal Court published by the Africa Research Centre. The book is available to read or download at www.africaresearchcentre.org. The author can be contacted by email at email@example.com.
Just ten years ago, Ghana had the most reliable electricity supply in all of Africa and the highest percentage of households connected to the grid in all of Africa – including South Africa. The Volta River Authority, the power producer and distributor was, in my very considerable experience, the best run and most efficient public utility in all of Africa. Indeed it was truly world class, and Ghana was proud of it.
Obviously the sight of truly successful public owned and run enterprise was too much of a threat to the neo-liberal ideologues of the IMF and World Bank. When Ghana needed some temporary financial assistance (against a generally healthy background) the IMF insisted that VRA be broken up. Right wing neoliberal dogma was applied to the Ghanaian electricity market. Electricity was separated between production and distribution, and private sector Independent Power Producers introduced.
The result is disaster. There are more power cuts in Ghana than ever in its entire history as an independent state. Today Ghana is actually, at this moment, producing just 900 MW of electricity – half what it could produce ten years ago. This is not the fault of the NDC or the NPP. It is the fault of the IMF.
Those private sector Independent Power Producers actually provide less than 20% of electricity generation into the grid – yet scoop up over 60% of the revenues! The electricity bills of Ghana’s people go to provide profits to fat cat foreign corporations and of course the western banks who finance them.
Indeed in thirty years close experience the net result of all IMF activity in Africa is to channel economic resources to westerners – and not to ordinary western people, but to the wealthiest corporations and especially to western bankers.
Not content with the devastation they have already caused, the IMF and the USA are now insisting on the privatisation of ECG, the state utility body which provides electricity to the consumer and bills them. The rationale is that a privatised ECG will be more efficient and ruthless in collecting revenue from the poor and from hospitals, clinics, schools and other state institutions.
Doubtless it will be. It will of course be more efficient in channelling still more profits to very rich businessmen and bankers. I suspect that is the real point. That privatised utilities bring better service and cheaper prices to the consumer has been conclusively and forever disproven in the UK. What it does bring is huge profits to the rich and misery to the poor. To unleash this on Ghana is acutely morally reprehensible.
Ghana has a political culture in which the two main parties, NDC and NPP, heatedly blame each other for their country’s problems. But if they only can see it, in truth the electricity sector has been ruined by their common enemy – the IMF and World Bank. I pray that one day the country will escape the grip of these bloodsucking institutions.