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Time for All Palestinians and Their Supporters to Join the Resistance against Israel’s Cultural Offensives

By David Macilwain | American Herald Tribune | September 14, 2017

Before the launching of the war on Syria in 2011 by agents of the US and its Middle Eastern allies, the focus of my political activism was almost exclusively Palestine. “Self-radicalised” is a suitable descriptor for the slow awakening of my awareness of the way things were in the Israeli-occupied territory and the Arab and Islamic world around it.

As with many of my contemporaries, the 2003 attack on Iraq was a springboard in this radicalisation, not out of sympathy and understanding of Iraq but rather from antagonism to the US neo-con regime with its UK and Australian allies. Israel’s central role in orchestrating the attack on Iraq, as well as the pretext for it eighteen months earlier didn’t become clear – to me at least – until sometime later, when my antagonism began to concentrate on the Zionist State.

“Antagonism” doesn’t begin to describe the feelings that developed during Israel’s 26-day massacre of innocents of Gaza in 2009 however, nor the absolute disdain and disgust at Western leaders’ failure to condemn it. Notably too, the failure of Western media organisations to report the daily atrocities being committed by the IDF in Gaza revealed the extent of networks of propaganda support for the Zionist entity.

In the controversy that followed “Operation Cast Lead”, which finally came to an end just after Obama’s inauguration, it also became clear who was prepared to stand up for the people of Gaza and for Palestine and who was not. Many organisations we may have thought to be “impartial” turned out to be compromised when it came to Palestine, including the UN and NGOs like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. Their failure to react and respond appropriately to the terrible injustices and atrocities inflicted on the civilian population of Gaza, in the false name of fighting “Hamas terrorism”, gave huge impetus to the BDS movement. In the absence of any real condemnation of Israel’s barbarity, leave alone sanctions, or enforcement of outstanding UN resolutions, boycott and divestment became the only means to support Palestinians’ rights.

One could never say that the BDS campaign against Israel’s occupation was a success, though there were successes. In countries with a strong Israel lobby like the US, UK, Australia and France, the lobby’s fightback with both propaganda and legal instruments began almost before any real action could be taken, while Zionist infiltration and influence on government members made sure Israeli interests were protected. The associated academic and cultural boycott – PACBI – had more success in influencing public opinion, with the help of some great artists like Roger Waters and Ken Loach, but the fightback against them was even more intense, and continues to this day.

In an attempt to convince ourselves that something has been achieved over the last ten years, we may consider this reaction to the boycott campaigns as a recognition of their effectiveness – or at least potential effectiveness; the opinion of one influential celebrity can sometimes change the minds of millions.

But doesn’t Israel know this!

The truth is that the state of Israel is founded on something like the antithesis of a boycott campaign – as a state of mind cultivated with centuries of sectarian propaganda. How else could you create a whole society in which individuals believe themselves to be “exceptional” and racially superior to the native inhabitants of the land they are occupying by force? A society for which militant racism is the sine qua non of its nationhood and identity.

Not only have Israel’s leaders and educators achieved this “state of denial” amongst the Jewish citizens and the diaspora – with some important exceptions – but they have managed to maintain credibility as a “democratic” state with Western nations against all odds. It doesn’t seem to matter how many times one points out that a state defined as “Jewish” cannot also be democratic if some of its citizens are not Jewish.

The immediate and current context of this discussion is the fiesta of Zionist propaganda that just took place in London’s Roundhouse centre, called “TLV in LDN”, and the protest campaign against it by a group of artists, including those venerable veterans named above. But the context is rather different from that of ten years ago when the siege of Gaza began, following Hamas’ victory in Palestinian elections.

In fact it begins to look a little desperate, and the defence of this opinion-twisting offensive a bit hysterical. The “facts on the ground” created in what was once Palestine by the Zionist regime in those ten years now mean that Israel’s legitimacy can only be defended with increasingly shrill accusations and violence against Palestinians and their true supporters in the West.

But there may be another reason for the creators and defenders of “The Israel Project” to have a feeling of panic – such as that shown by Netanyahu on his recent visit to Sochi. As Sharmine Narwani has described, things are changing rapidly on Israel’s borders, with Jordan and Lebanon moving to restore relations with Damascus, and other sometime allies like Turkey and Egypt, and even the US seeking to cooperate with Russia and Iran.

There is also something happening within Palestine, as the new Hamas leadership seeks reconciliation with Syria and Iran – effectively returning to the position of ten years earlier, when Hamas leader Khalid Meshaal lived in Damascus, and Iran was a key mediator for the democratically elected Hamas government.

Most ironic however is the situation for so many supporters of the Palestinian struggle, who tragically had followed Hamas’ lead and deserted Syria in 2011. One can hardly understate the devastating effect on the Syrian conflict, and on Western perceptions of it from this historic rift in the Resistance. That section of Western society that showed most concern for Palestinians, including many solidarity groups as well as human rights NGOs was effectively duped into siding with Israel against Syria.

While this “kidnapping” of the most influential anti-war and anti-Zionist activist populations was achieved primarily thanks to propaganda from Al Jazeera and its Western media partners like the Guardian, the contribution from groups like Avaaz and Amnesty suggests another partner in the propaganda war on Syria.

Given the IDF’s vital support role for Al Qaeda groups in Southern Syria, we might safely assume that Israel’s misinformation industry has also been working overtime in pursuit of the state’s cynical and criminal objectives. One key event in the propaganda war on Syria supports that assumption – the “siege” of the Palestinian refugee camp of Yarmouk – whose reality was so twisted by “humanitarian” NGOs and even by the UNRWA as to portray Al Qaeda as defending innocent civilians against the Syrian Army. The object of that propaganda campaign was creating a pretext for “humanitarian intervention” to save starving Palestinians from the Syrian Government, when it was actually protecting them.

As Palestinians in the occupied territories and in Gaza increasingly now look to Syria and its allies for defence against the malevolence and lies of their oppressive occupier, it’s past time for their many genuine supporters and allies in the West to get on the right side of history and join the Resistance! And that resistance includes fighting off Israel’s ingeniously engineered “cultural offensives”.

September 14, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In a society of “believers” & “deniers” we all become Inquisitors

By Catte | OffGuardian | March 11, 2017

The two minute hate redefined for the Facebook age

Light often arises from a collision of opinions, as fire from flint & steel”Benjamin Franklin, 1760

“The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.” John Stuart Mill

The “collision of opinion” so endorsed by enlightenment thinkers, is not currently encouraged. If someone says something stupid or blatantly false our first response is no longer to try to prove them wrong – it’s to silence them. To quote Jonathan Pie we focus on “stopping debates instead of winning them.” A good recent example of that is the bizarre trial-by-media of Polish right-wing MEP Janusz Korwin-Mikke.

Let’s be clear. JKM seems to hold a pretty reactionary and unpleasant set of views, about women and much else. Speaking as a woman, I’m not a fan of that. Here is the gentleman, talking about the gender pay gap, in the discourse that ignited the current eruption of outrage:

His English is broken, his reasoning shaky and his conclusions pretty flawed. He’s a self-created straw man, waiting to be knocked over by any reasonably intelligent or astute opponent. But what has the response in the media been?

Yes, that’s right, not a series of rational refutations, but a chorus of offended people hurling abuse and demanding the clown be censored.

Piers Morgan, who invited Korwin-Mikke on to Good Morning Britain did little more than exchange playground insults with the man. Korwin-Mikke says his opinions are based on “scientific studies”. Did Morgan bother to ask what these “studies” might be? Did he offer counter-evidence that proves the nonsense Korwin-Mikke is talking?

No. He just called him “stupid” and a “sexist pig”. Ok, maybe JKM is both those things, but that’s not the point. If he’s wrong he should be shown to be wrong, with rebuttal, not ad hominem. What Morgan did, and was lauded for, isn’t debate, it’s an ignorant brawl, or the two-minutes hate. The fact the hate-figure on this occasion is some man with unpleasant ideologies and dodgy data does not make it a great day for democracy.

The call is mounting for Korwin-Mikke to be “kicked out” of the European parliament. The Soros-funded fake grassroots group Avaaz is leading this campaign, and lying about him into the bargain, publishing photos of him doing a Nazi salute, without bothering to tell anyone he was, as the Independent grudgingly confirms in its text, doing this as a derogatory commentary on current German policies, and not as a tribute to Hitler (yes, it was still inappropriate, but that doesn’t justify a blatant falsehood being propagated in pursuance of a witch hunt). Avaaz’s campaign already has over 700,000 signatories. And indeed Korwin-Mikke is going to be dealt with by the EP itself, who have promised:

… a penalty commensurate with the gravity of the offence”

Offence? Is it actually illegal now to say untrue things about women? We’re going to punish this guy, not prove him wrong?

So, who cares, right? So, one misogynistic fool gets falsely maligned and hounded in the tabloids and maybe even “kicked out” of parliament, who is any the worse for it?

To which the obvious reply is – do you really think it will end there? Do you think the neoliberal press and toxic propagandists such as Avaaz are busy fostering this atmosphere of anti-intellectual intolerance just so they can deal with a handful of women-haters or other nasties?

The point is, once you have installed the culture of suppression, you can use it in any way you like.

The insidious new meme being developed in “progressive” places like the Guardian, and other neoliberal strongholds is that free speech is all very well, but has its limits. Not, you understand, the already established limits defined by law which make it clear free speech does not include the right to threaten, defame or incite violence. No, these are new and woolly limits that involve misty concepts like “hate” (not hate-speech, which is also defined by certain laws, but “hate”, which isn’t), and “consensus facts.” We are told that people who transgress these vague new limits need to be stopped – for the good of society. We are told we are living in a time of unprecedented “hate”, even though prosecutions for hate-crime are dropping. We are told we need to take a stand, “stamp out” this “hate” and make a statement of zero tolerance.

On the surface that’s a reasonable thing. No one sane wants to encourage hate or to be a “hater”. But what we may not notice is that the “progressives” advocating this approach never say exactly what they mean by “hater”. “Hater” of what exactly? Ethnic minorities? Women? Trans people? White men? Oligarchs? Israel? Corrupt politicians? The NSA? What if the corrupt politician is a woman? What if the NSA spokesman is black?

And exactly how far can we go to stamp out “hate”? Is it acceptable – for example – to rescind an elected representative’s right to sit in the European Parliament if he’s branded a “hater”? Who would be empowered to make this decision? The parliament itself? Oligarch-funded pressure groups with hordes of unverified signatories? What are the exact definitions? Where is the line drawn? We aren’t told, and that’s probably not an oversight.

“Denier” is another word like “hater.” “Deniers” are the boogeymen to sell us the idea that free speech is dangerous, not just for minorities, but also for the preservation of truth. The same people who talk about “haters” frequently ask how we can allow “deniers” to keep muddying the argument about [insert contentious issue here], when the world/human health/the future of the universe is at stake.

The starting point is always the fallacy that we can establish truth to a degree that makes further discussion of evidence unnecessary and doubt a sort of crime. Once we know the Truth, the argument goes, we don’t really need free speech any more. In fact free speech in a time of established Truth becomes a regressive force, since it will enable those who don’t believe the Truth, or who are paid to besmirch it, to lead the unwary from the path of certainty into darkness and doubt.

If that sounds like religious fundamentalism it’s because essentially that’s what it is. It’s the fundamentalism of a post-deist world. Just as anti-rational, just as anti-factual, just as atavistic as any other expression of certitude that requires unqualified acceptance as the first article of faith. But this particular “fundamentalism” is being used cynically as another way of levering public opinion away from real free speech and toward “modified” free speech, where the right to air your opinion is conditional upon a lot of poorly defined, and often faith-based ideas about public health and social responsibility.

Let’s pause for a moment and evaluate.

Why do so many of the same neoliberals who support environmental disasters such as global wars and nuclear energy, also swarm the issue of climate change, and so vocally agitate for the silencing or denigration of “deniers”? Why when the absolutely not “denialist” IPCC is openly admitting there can at present be no certainty about the extent or direction of longterm global temperatures, is any kind of demurring from the belief that manmade climate change is not only real but deadly, presented to us in the liberal media as something malign or insane that should not be given airtime?

If the IPCC’s 2013 report on everything from the net warming potential of C02 to the true extent of ice-loss in the Arctic, is a long list of best guesses ranging from “high probability” to “low probability”, with no mention of certainty, how do we even begin to justify dismissing and demonising people whose views of these probabilities may be different?

Note, I’m not saying “why do people believe in the reality of manmade climate change”? I absolutely understand why they do. It’s a very reasonable thing to believe. I’m asking specifically why we are being encouraged to consider doubt or even nuance is invalid and should be expunged, when the IPCC and scientists on both sides acknowledge that doubt and nuance of varying degrees, and indeed complete absence of knowledge, inevitably goes with the territory?

Is the demand for the exclusion of certain points of view based on a) the fear the public may get confused by conflicting viewpoints and accidentally let the planet burn up, or b) the recognition this is a nice thin end of a very thick wedge?

Just as no one sane wants to encourage hate, no one rational wants to destroy the planet. It’s a pretty easy sell to persuade us that we shouldn’t listen, or give air time, to lunatics or shills who apparently want to let the oceans swallow the land and the skies boil. I mean, I don’t want that to happen, do you? Faced with a stark alternative, where we either censor the bad guys or let them usher in the end of the world, which side are we going to pick? Green David versus Goliath the Oil Monster, is a no-brainer, add in George Monbiot, or someone, pointing to the undeniably egregious suppression of the connection between smoking and lung cancer as proof that narrow special interests can confuse arguments and hinder progress, and we’re sold. Let’s silence the pesky deniers and save the planet.

The argument is superficially persuasive because it’s partly true. Big Tobacco did use its clout to suppress inconvenient research and pay off scientists to lie or obfuscate, and this had a very negative impact on public health over many years. It’s reasonable to want to avoid that in future.

But let’s stop and think for a moment. How, in heaven’s name, is the fact Big Tobacco managed to suppress research and manipulate the debate an argument for censoring anyone? What this case proves is the need for more openness and debate, not less. It proves that good science will win out over false representation, when both sides are given equal opportunity to be heard. It was Big Tobacco’s big bucks that kept the truth from coming out, not the principle of free speech. Imagine, forty years ago, Philip Morris International had been able to not simply suppress and distort but to label its critics “tobacco deniers” and demand their voice be banned from the airwaves for the good of humanity?

Are we supposed to believe this kind of suppression is a step forward, just because right now the perceived “good guys” are doing it? Or that the new age of “consensus-driven”, Avaaz-sponsored grass-roots endorsed censorship would only be used by the weak against the strong, truth against lies? Are we supposed to believe, once we have set a precedent of denying the “deniers” and the “haters” their platform, the neoliberal media won’t pretty soon be labeling anyone their bosses don’t like a “denier” or a “hater” and demanding they be silenced or sent to jail? And, if we can be persuaded to stop listening to one side of this argument can’t we most likely be persuaded to stop listening to one side of any argument.

Are we supposed to overlook the fact that while Goliath the Oil Monster certainly does fund climate skeptics, “Green David” is backed by some of the richest and most influential people on the planet?

No, once again, I’m not saying manmade climate change isn’t real. I’m saying, quite specifically, that the current drive to politicise and censor this debate has nothing to do with protecting truth or saving the planet and everything to do with attacking the most important principle of freedom. I’m saying Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, George Soros, Richard Branson, Reid Hoffman, Tom Steyer, the UN, NASA, NOAA, the IPCC, the EU, the Democratic Party et al can probably compete on equal terms with Big Oil. I’m saying their message is getting across and the idea that manmade global warming is some underfunded grassroots campaign that needs special pleading to defend its corner is just another way of persuading people that censorship can be progressive. I’m saying let’s stop buying that schtick.

I’m saying we need to reassert the fact that truth doesn’t require to be defended by censorship, government prosecution, or simplistic one-sided arguments. Truth thrives in open debate and the exchange of ideas. It dies when one side is denied a voice because “If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.”

And that is only more true when the truth may have a dozen billionaires and the entire neoliberal establishment advocating for it.

I’m saying that in a society of “believers” and “deniers” we all become Inquisitors, of each other and ourselves. We are currently encouraged by our betters to be Brown Shirts, dumb as a bag of hammers, zero-tolerant and proud of it, beating down unacceptable minority views with a big populist stick. We are urged, not to arrive at opinions through analysis, but to just know what’s true, because the right people say so, because our Facebook friends give it a lot of likes, because it just is ok? We don’t engage with different opinions we scream at them until they go away or get put down.

I’m saying that as a modern day Milgram experiment this push to get intelligent, caring people to act like Salem witch hunters is interesting, demonstrating that the smartest, sanest person can be enjoined to act against their deepest ideals and even common sense, if given the proper cues.

We’re forgetting that the point of free speech is it guarantees a voice to the weaker party, the oppressed, the otherwise disenfranchised. And in the age of the internet this principle can be put into practice to a degree unimaginable.

This is why the powerful and the wealthy are currently trying to persuade us to fear and distrust each other. To hate in the name of anti-hate, silence in the name of progress. Bit by bit. Voice by voice. Until the only sound left is the dispossessed lunatic scream.

The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp George Orwell, 1984

PS: Just once again and to be quite sure any skim-readers get the message – No, I am still NOT saying man made climate change is a lie.

March 12, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Science and Pseudo-Science | , , , | Leave a comment

Overthrowing the Syrian Government: a Joint Criminal Enterprise

Photo by Jordi Bernabeu Farrús | CC By 2.0

Photo by Jordi Bernabeu Farrús | CC By 2.0
By Diana Johnstone | CounterPunch | October 4, 2016

Everyone claims to want to end the war in Syria and restore peace to the Middle East.

Well, almost everyone.

“This is a playoff situation in which you need both teams to lose, but at least you don’t want one to win — we’ll settle for a tie,” said Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli consul general in New York told the New York Times in June 2013. “Let them both bleed, hemorrhage to death: that’s the strategic thinking here.”

Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, stressed the same points in August 2016:

“The West should seek the further weakening of Islamic State, but not its destruction… Allowing bad guys to kill bad guys sounds very cynical, but it is useful and even moral to do so if it keeps the bad guys busy and less able to harm the good guys… Moreover, instability and crises sometimes contain portents of positive change… The American administration does not appear capable of recognizing the fact that IS can be a useful tool in undermining Tehran’s ambitious plan for domination of the Middle East.”

Okay, not exactly everyone.

But surely the humanitarian website Avaaz wants to end the war and restore peace.

Or does it?

Avaaz is currently circulating a petition which has gathered over a million signatures and is aiming at a million and a half. It is likely to get them, with words like this:

“100 children have been killed in Aleppo since last Friday.

“Enough is enough!”

Avaaz goes on to declare: “There is no easy way to end this war, but there’s only one way to prevent this terror from the skies — people everywhere demanding a no-fly zone to protect civilians.”

No-fly zone? Doesn’t that sound familiar? That was the ploy that served to destroy Libya’s air defenses and opened the country to regime change in 2011. It was promoted zealously by Hillary Clinton, who is also on record as favoring the same gambit in Syria.

And when the West says “no-fly”, it means that some can fly and others cannot. With the no-fly zone in Libya, France, Britain and the United States flew all they wanted, killing countless civilians, destroying infrastructure and allowing Islamic rebels to help themselves to part of the country.

The Avaaz petition makes the same distinction. Some should fly and others should not.

“Let’s build a resounding global call to Obama and other leaders to stand up to Putin and Assad’s terror. This might be our last, best chance to help end this mass murder of defenseless children. Add your name.”

So it’s all about mass murder of defenseless children, and to stop it, we should call on the drone king, Obama, to end “terror from the skies”.

Not only Obama, but other “good” leaders, members of NATO:

“To President Obama, President Erdogan, President Hollande, PM May, and other world leaders: As citizens around the globe horrified by the slaughter of innocents in Syria, we call on you to enforce an air-exclusion zone in Northern Syria, including Aleppo, to stop the bombardment of Syria’s civilians and ensure that humanitarian aid reaches those most in need.”

The timing of this petition is eloquent. It comes exactly when the Syrian government is pushing to end the war by reconquering the eastern part of Aleppo. It is part of the massive current propaganda campaign to reduce public consciousness of the Syrian war to two factors: child victims and humanitarian aid.

In this view, the rebels disappear. So do all their foreign backers, the Saudi money, the Wahhabi fanatics, the ISIS recruits from all over the world, the U.S. arms and French support. The war is only about the strange whim of a “dictator”, who amuses himself by bombing helpless children and blocking humanitarian aid. This view reduces the five-year war in Syria to the situation as it was portrayed in Libya, to justify the no-fly zone: nothing but a wicked dictator bombing his own people.

For the public that likes to consume world events in fairy tale form, this all fits together. Sign a petition on your computer and save the children.

The Avaaz petition does not aim to end the war and restore peace. It clearly aims to obstruct the Syrian government offensive to retake Aleppo. The Syrian army has undergone heavy losses in five years of war, its potential recruits have in effect been invited to avoid dangerous military service by going to Germany. Syria needs air power to reduce its own casualties. The Avaaz petition calls for crippling the Syrian offensive and thus taking the side of the rebels.

Wait – but does that mean they want the rebels to win? Not exactly. The only rebels conceivably strong enough to win are ISIS. Nobody really wants that.

The plain fact is that to end this war, as to end most wars, one side has to come out on top. When it is clear who is the winning side, then there can be fruitful negotiations for things like amnesty. But this war cannot be “ended by negotiations”. That is an outcome that the United States might support only if Washington could use negotiations to impose its own puppets – pardon, pro-democracy exiles living in the West. But as things stand, they would be rejected as traitors by the majority of Syrians who support the government and as apostates by the rebels. So one side has to win to end this war. The least worst outcome would be that the Assad government defeats the rebels, in order to preserve the state. For that, the Syrian armed forces need to retake the eastern part of Aleppo occupied by rebels.

The job of Avaaz is to get public opinion to oppose this military operation, by portraying it as nothing but a joint Russian-Syrian effort to murder civilians, especially children. For that, they call for a NATO military operation to shoot down (that’s what “no-fly” means) Syrian and Russian planes offering air support to the Syrian army offensive.

Even such drastic measures do not aim to end the war. They mean weakening the winning side to prevent it from winning. To prolong a stalemate. It means – to use the absurd expression popular during the Bosnian war – creating an “even playing field”, as if war were a sports event. It means keeping the war going on and on until nothing is left of Syria, and what is left of the Syrian population fills up refugee camps in Europe.

As the New York Times reported from Jerusalem in September 2013, “The synergy between the Israeli and American positions, while not explicitly articulated by the leaders of either country, could be a critical source of support as Mr. Obama seeks Congressional approval for surgical strikes in Syria.” It added that “Israel’s national security concerns have broad, bipartisan support in Washington, and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the influential pro-Israel lobby in Washington, weighed in Tuesday in support of Mr. Obama’s approach.” (This was when Obama was planning to “punish President Bashar al-Assad for using chemical weapons without seeking to force him from power” – before Obama decided to join Russia in disarming the Syrian chemical arsenal instead, a decision for which he continues to be condemned by the pro-Israel lobby and the War Party.) AIPAC’s statement “said nothing, however, about the preferred outcome of the civil war…”

Indeed. As the 2013 report from Jerusalem continued, “as hopes have dimmed for the emergence of a moderate, secular rebel force that might forge democratic change and even constructive dialogue, with Israel, a third approach has gained traction: Let the bad guys burn themselves out. ‘The perpetuation of the conflict is absolutely serving Israel’s interest,’ said Nathan Thrall, a Jerusalem-based analyst for the International Crisis Group.”

The plain truth is that Syria is the victim of a long-planned Joint Criminal Enterprise to destroy the last independent secular Arab nationalist state in the Middle East, following the destruction of Iraq in 2003. While attributed to government repression of “peaceful protests” in 2011, the armed uprising had been planned for years and was supported by outside powers: Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United States and France, among others. The French motives remain mysterious, unless linked to those of Israel, which sees the destruction of Syria as a means to weaken its arch rival in the region, Iran. Saudi Arabia has similar intentions to weaken Iran, but with religious motives. Turkey, the former imperial power in the region, has territorial and political ambitions of its own. Carving up Syria can satisfy all of them.

This blatant and perfectly open conspiracy to destroy Syria is a major international crime, and the above-mentioned States are co-conspirators. They are joined in this Joint Criminal Enterprise by ostensibly “humanitarian” organizations like Avaaz that spread war propaganda in the guise of protecting children. This works because most Americans just can’t believe that their government would do such things. Because normal ordinary people have good intentions and hate to see children killed, they imagine that their government must be the same. It is hard to overcome this comforting faith. It is more natural to believe that the criminals are wicked people in a country about which they really understand nothing.

There is no chance that this criminal enterprise will ever arouse the attention of the prosecutors at the International Criminal Court, which like most major international organizations is totally under U.S. control. For example, the United Nations Undersecretary General for Political Affairs, who analyses and frames political issue for the Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, is an American diplomat, Jeffrey Feltman, who was a key member of Hillary Clinton’s team when she was carrying out regime change in Libya. And accomplices in this criminal enterprise include all the pro-governmental “non-governmental” organizations such as Avaaz who push hypocrisy to new lengths by exploiting compassion for children in order to justify and perpetuate this major crime against humanity and against peace in the world.

Johnstone-Queen-Cover-ak800--291x450Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions. Her new book is Queen of Chaos: the Misadventures of Hillary Clinton. She can be reached at diana.johnstone@wanadoo.fr

October 4, 2016 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

NGOs, the Pentagon, and the Human Rights – Industrial Complex

Corbett Report | May 2, 2016

Patrick Henningsen of 21st Century Wire joins us today to discuss his recent article on “Smart Power & The Human Rights Industrial Complex.” Topics discussed include the NGO/State Dept/Pentagon/NATO nexus, the use of human rights as a perception management tool to demonise NATO enemies, and the complicity of the media in reporting these stories uncritically.

SHOW NOTES AND MP3: https://www.corbettreport.com/?p=18581

May 2, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , | Leave a comment

Avaaz Ignores Libya Lessons in Advocating for Syria No-Fly Zone

By John Hanrahan | ExposeFacts | April 13, 2016

(Second of two articles)

A recent two-part series in The New York Times laid out in detail the pivotal role that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton played in President Obama’s decision to join in France and Britain’s 2011 military campaign against long-time Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. The Times articles make the case that Clinton bears a heavy part of the responsibility for the tragic, increasingly chaotic aftermath of that campaign in which Gaddafi was ousted and killed.

As the Times summaries of the articles put it, Gaddafi’s fall “seemed to vindicate Hillary Clinton. Then militias refused to disarm, neighbors fanned a civil war, and the Islamic State found refuge,” leaving Libya “a failed state and a terrorist haven.”

While neocons, right-wingers and humanitarian interventionists back in 2011 were seeking regime change in Libya, there was one non-governmental organization that was alone among progressive groups in mobilizing public opinion around the world in support of military action in  Libya in the form of a no-fly zone.

And this wasn’t just any organization, but the fast-growing, on-line advocacy giant Avaaz.org, which in 2011 had 7 million members and today boasts 43.1-million members in 194 countries. As such, the New York City-based Avaaz is, as we noted in a previous article, the largest and most influential Internet-based, international advocacy organization on the planet.

Through its members’ petitions and a full-page ad last June in The New York Times, Avaaz has for the last few years been pushing for a no-fly zone in Syria, as have assorted neocons and war-hawks in congress and think-tanks who favor military operations to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power. Hillary Clinton (but not other presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump) is a staunch advocate for a no-fly zone and regime change in Syria.

Like Clinton and other interventionists, Avaaz — in advocating for a no-fly zone in Syria — has not been chastened by what its advocacy wrought in Libya. Some of the same arguments for a no-fly zone that Avaaz made for Libya, it has made again over the last few years for Syria. This, despite as we noted in that earlier article, that top U.S. generals have warned that a no-fly zone in Syria is a “high-risk operation..a violent combat action that results in lots of casualties,” civilian and military.

It’s instructive to examine Avaaz’s no-fly zone advocacy for Libya in 2011 to get a handle on the organization’s continued thinking that — barring a diplomatic settlement growing out of a current tentative ceasefire in Syria — more war, under the cover of humanitarian intervention, would somehow save more civilians’ lives.

Call for No-Fly Zone in Libya Did Not Turn Out Well for Libyans in Aftermath of U.S./NATO Attacks

In its call for a no-fly zone in Libya in 2011, Avaaz submitted to the United Nations a petition containing 1,202,940 signatures gathered on-line. Demonstrating Avaaz’s impact, 90% of those were collected in just a two-day period between March 15 and 17 of that year, when its reported membership was a more modest, but still impressive, seven million.

And we now know what a sage piece of advocacy that was — as Libya experienced not only a no-fly zone, but U.S./NATO forces’ bombardments, the ousting and killing of Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffy, the rise of ISIS, the attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, the flood of refugees from the chaotic, failed country that Libya is today.

Even at the time Avaaz was gathering all those signatures back in 2011 in support of a no-fly zone in Libya, there were critics who wondered why a U.S.-based non-governmental organization felt it had to stand up with neocons and war-hawks in advocating for an action that violated Libya’s sovereignty and was likely to lead to more violence against the Libyan people.

As John Hilary writing in The Guardian presciently warned in March 2011: “Little do most of these generally well-meaning activists know, they are strengthening the hands of those western governments desperate to reassert their interests in north Africa…A no-fly zone would almost certainly draw NATO countries into further military involvement in Libya, replacing the agency of the Libyan people with the control of those governments who have shown scant regard for their welfare…”

Hilary, executive director of War on Want, the U.K.-based charity that fights poverty and economic injustice, further noted, again presciently: “Clearly a no-fly zone makes foreign intervention sound rather humanitarian — putting the emphasis on stopping bombing, even though it could well lead to an escalation of violence.”

Noting that support for a no-fly zone in Libya was at that time “rapidly becoming a key call of hawks on both sides of the Atlantic,” (just as has been the case in more recent years regarding Syria) Hilary commented: “The military hierarchy, with their budgets threatened by government cuts, surely cannot believe their luck — those who usually oppose wars” [such as Avaaz] “are openly campaigning for more military involvement.”

On-line progressive organizations constantly seek signatures on petitions calling on the U.S. or other governments to adopt or change or reject certain policies. But Hilary pointed out that calling for a no-fly zone crosses a line into dangerous territory. As he wrote:

“The issue exposes the core of the problem with internet activism: instead of changing the world through a lifetime of education, it aims to change the world through a single click of the mouse. The impacts might be benign, when lobbying a government to stop causing harm. But a positive plan of action in a situation such as Libya requires more thought. Calling for military intervention is a huge step — the life and death of hundreds of thousands of people might hang in the balance. The difference between the ease of the action and impact of the consequence is great.”

Avaaz’s Justification for No-Fly Zone in Libya

It’s worth examining the Libya experience to get some idea of how Avaaz sees using military action to achieve what it contended would be civilian-saving humanitarian results.

Looking back, in calling for a no-fly zone Avaaz appeared to fully accept and spread the Gaddafi-will-systematically-murder-all-opponents line that western governments were trumpeting as the justification for intervention, stating in its March 15, 2011 message to members: “Right now Gaddafi’s forces are crushing the rebellion town by town” and noted that “brutal retribution awaits Libyans who challenged the regime. If we don’t persuade the U.N. to act now, we could witness a bloodbath.”

Avaaz went on to say that while it “is deeply committed to non-violence… enforcing a no-fly zone to ground Gaddafi’s gunships is one case where UN-backed military actions seems necessary.”

On March 17, 2011, just two days into flooding the U.N. Security Council with petitions containing 1,172,000 signatures, Avaaz enthusiastically reported (exclamation point and all) that the United Nations had agreed to take “‘all necessary measures’ short of an invasion to protect the people of Libya under threat of attack, including a no-fly zone!” It seems Avaaz’s expressed deep commitment to nonviolence had expanded beyond a no-fly zone to encompass “all necessary measures” — and Libya was soon on the receiving end of all those necessary measures.

When it was promoting a no-fly zone for Libya, Avaaz — as with its current Syria campaign — did receive pushback from some members. The organization felt it necessary to respond at some length on-line to the criticism before the no-fly zone was put into effect and the onslaught against Libya began.

Avaaz’s then-campaign director Ben Wikler (who is now with MoveOn.org), in an on-line posting responding to John Hilary’s Guardian article quoted above, outlined a number of reasons and procedures Avaaz used in taking up the cause of a no-fly zone for Libya. Among his points:

  • “The call for a no-fly zone originated from Libyans – including the provisional opposition government, Libya’s (defected) ambassador to the UN, protesters, and youth organizations…Avaaz staff are in close and constant contact with activists inside Libya and have been repeatedly asked to move forward on this campaign.”
  • “In some ways,” Wikler wrote, “we work a lot like journalists… talking to people and weighing the facts before we form conclusions. However, our staff’s personal conclusions also have to pass the test of our membership being strongly supportive of any position we take.”

In the Libya case, though, it would seem that Avaaz scarcely considered the potential negative aspects of military action — such as, when you “win,” what happens afterwards.

  • According to Wikler, a random-sample poll taken before the petition was promulgated on-line, showed that “84% of [Avaaz] members supported this campaign, while 9% opposed it. Since launching it, we’ve found intense support for the campaign from around the world.” Avaaz says that petition ideas such as a no-fly zone campaign “are polled and tested weekly to 10,000-member random samples—and only initiatives that find a strong response are taken” to the wider membership. The organization has not disclosed who within Avaaz was the main instigator of the petitions for no-fly zones in Libya and Syria. Generally speaking, Avaaz says here’s how its petitions develop: “… Avaaz staff don’t set an agenda and try to convince members to go along with it. It’s closer to the opposite: staff listen to members and suggest actions they can take in order to affect the broader world. Small wonder, then, that many of our most successful campaigns are suggested first by Avaaz members themselves. And leadership is a critical part of member service: it takes vision and skill to find and communicate a way to build a better world.” Although this doesn’t say so, certainly on a matter of such import and controversy as a no-fly zone the final call would logically come from executive director Ricken Patel.
  • Avaaz staff played “a key role in consulting with leading experts around the world (and most of our staff have policy as well as advocacy backgrounds) on each of the campaigns we run, and Libya was no exception.” This begs the question: Who were these experts, and did Avaaz seek out critics of such an action?
  • On the question of whether imposing a no-fly zone would lead to a full-blown international war in Libya, Wikler downplayed the possibility at the time: “No-fly zones can mean a range of different things. Some analysts and military figures [none named by Wikler] have argued that it would require a pre-emptive attack on Libya’s anti-aircraft weapons. Others [again, none named], however, contend that merely flying fighter planes over the rebel-controlled areas would ensure that Qaddafi wouldn’t use his jets to attack eastern Libya, because he knows his air force is weaker than that of Egypt or NATO states. The best solution is the one that reduces civilian deaths the most with the least violence. Things might not turn out as expected, but while there are potential dangers to an international war, there are certain dangers to civilians if things continue without a no-fly zone.” [Emphasis added.]

Calling for military action seems a very risky calculation for an advocacy group to make, given even its own nodding recognition that the action it supports might bring on an international war or other “things… not expected.” And to discuss such an issue in a mere one sentence and conclude that the risk is worth it — and after the petition is already out there — is not indicative of a transparent, all-cards-on-the-table process that make for well-informed potential petition signers.

At the very least, now with the benefit of hindsight, you would think that the Libya experience would give Avaaz some second thoughts about supporting a no-fly zone in what top U.S. generals quoted in our previous article have described as the even riskier environment of Syria. But no such soul-searching is evident in Avaaz’s campaign for a Syrian no-fly zone.

For this and the previous article, we submitted a series of questions to Avaaz media personnel and campaign directors, with an emphasis on obtaining specifics as to the organization’s rationale for supporting no-fly zones in Libya and Syria — including whether the tragic outcome in Libya had figured at all in Avaaz’s consideration of whether to call for a no-fly zone in Syria. After requests (and reminders) on five occasions in November, December and January, we finally received a response on February 11 from campaign director Nell Greenberg, but that addressed only a few of our specific questions. Our follow-up questions, submitted on February 12, have gone unanswered.

As with the other questions we submitted to Avaaz personnel, the organization did not answer whether the Libya experience made the organization’s leaders think twice about taking up the Syria no-fly zone issue. It was possibly obscurely referencing the Libya no-fly zone when Greenberg stated to us: “Much of what you’re asking for are reflections on past campaigns given the geopolitical landscape today. But based on the way we work, I cannot tell you how any Avaaz member would feel today about a past campaign without going back and asking them.”

Our follow-up question made it clear that we were not asking how any individual Avaaz member might feel about the Libya campaign today, but rather how Avaaz’s leaders felt about proposing a no-fly zone for Syria when the Libya military action had  turned out so disastrously. To date, Avaaz has not responded to any of our follow-up questions.

  • Regarding whether a no-fly zone would violate Libya’s national sovereignty, Wikler in March 2011 stated: “National sovereignty should not be a legitimate barrier to international action when crimes against humanity are being committed.” Then in perhaps a foreshadowing of the organization’s call for a similar action in Syria, Wikler added: “If you strongly disagree, then you may find yourself at odds with other Avaaz campaigns as well.”

Wikler concluded his defense of the call for a Libyan no-fly zone by saying: “All told, this was a difficult judgment call. Calling for any sort of military response always is. Avaaz members have been advocating for weeks for a full set of non-military options as well, including an asset freeze, targeted sanctions, and prosecutions of officials involved in the violent crackdown on demonstrators.

“But although those measures are moving forward, the death toll is rising. Again, thoughtful people can disagree – but in the Avaaz community’s case, only 9% of our thoughtful people opposed this position [84% approved] – somewhat surprising given that we have virtually always advocated for peaceful methods to resolve conflicts in the past. We think it was the best position to take given the balance of expert opinion, popular support, and most of all, the rights and clearly expressed desire of the Libyan people.”

The figure of 84% approval from a sampling of Avaaz members seem astounding — and raises the issue of whether the questions were worded in the most emotional ways that would produce such an overwhelming result (along the lines of — Gaddafi is slaughtering, and will slaughter, everyone in his path and we must act now to avert a bloodbath). It also raises the question of whether Avaaz offered any counterpoints that a no-fly zone could lead to a wider war and end up killing, maiming and displacing thousands of civilians.

Regardless of the numbers, relying on partisan civilian sources in embattled areas for tactics or military solutions of any sort is both a dubious and frightening proposition and hardly seems the role for an advocacy organization to undertake.

Avaaz’s Origins: Founders and Funders

Even in the U.S. progressive community, Avaaz is far less well-known than its sister advocacy organization MoveOn.org. To put Avaaz in perspective, a little background is in order.

Avaaz was created in 2006 and officially launched in 2007 by MoveOn.org Civic Action and the little known and closely affiliated global advocacy group Res Publica, Inc. Its initial significant financial backing came from liberal philanthropist George Soros and his Open Society Foundations (then called Open Society Institute).

Avaaz’s individual founders included three of its current officers/directors — Ricken Patel, Eli Pariser and Thomas Pravda — as well as Thomas Perriello, Andrea Woodhouse, Jeremy Heimans, and David Madden. (More about them later.)

If you don’t know much about Avaaz, or think about it as I long did as a non-U.S. entity (actually, its headquarters is in New York City), that is not so surprising since many of its campaigns are targeted to specific countries other than the United States, and only a little over 5 percent of its 43.1 million members are U.S.-based. (A member being anyone who has ever signed an Avaaz petition — and that includes me.) Still, even that small U.S. percentage equates to 2.3 million people — a number that would be the envy of most U.S. activist organizations. (By way of comparison, Avaaz’s affiliated member organization MoveOn.org claims more than 8-million members.)

The U.S. membership  in Avaaz is about the same as the German membership (2.2 million), and far less than France with 4.3 million and Brazil with a whopping 8.8 million members. Other nations with more than one million Avaaz members include Italy (2.1 million), Spain (1.8 million), the United Kingdom (1.6 million), Mexico (1.4 million), Canada (1.2 million). India has 991,000 members and Russia 901,000. Overall, Avaaz claims members in 194 countries, with its smallest membership — 81 — in the British overseas territory of Montserrat, population 5,100.

Avaaz is organized under the name the Avaaz Foundation, a 501(c)(4) non-profit lobbying organization, with its headquarters in Manhattan. It describes itself as having “a simple democratic mission: To close the gap between the world we have and the world most people everywhere want.”

In its most recent Form 990 filing with the Internal Revenue Service, signed in September 2015 for tax year 2014, Avaaz reported contributions totaling $20.1 million and net assets of $7.6 million. Avaaz, which says that it is entirely member funded, had previously stated that it accepts no single contribution of more than $5,000, but that was not the case in 2014 as the organization reported that 18 individuals had contributed amounts ranging from $5,000 to $15,383. The contributors were not identified by name in the filing. Since around 2010, the organization is on record as not accepting corporate or foundation donations — although it did receive grants totaling $1.1 million from George Soros-connected foundations in the three years before that.

In response to our inquiry about Avaaz funding and the organization’s early link to Soros, campaign director Nell Greenberg responded:

“With regards to Avaaz funding, this movement was founded with the ideal of being completely self sustaining and democratic. 100% of the Avaaz budget comes from small online donations…Avaaz has never taken a contribution from a government or a corporation, and since 2009 has not solicited any contributions from charitable foundations.”

She continued: “We did receive seed funding from George Soros and the Open Society Foundation, but not after 2009. No corporation, foundation or board member has influence on the organization’s campaign directions or positions. This is hugely important to ensuring that our voice is exclusively determined by the values of our members, and not by any large funder or agenda.”

Of Avaaz’s four current officers/directors, only executive director Ricken Patel was listed as full-time, with annual pay of $177,666 for 2014. Chairman Eli Pariser; treasurer Thomas Pravda, and secretary Ben Brandzel are not day-to-day employees and all received no compensation in 2014. Of Avaaz’s 77 employees, the five highest-compensated staff members after Patel received salaries ranging between $111,000 and $153,000.

For its various domestic and overseas campaigns, Avaaz reported providing $3.2 million in grants to U.S. organizations and $932,000 to foreign organizations in 2014. Reported grants of more than $5,000 came in five categories, with the largest recipients being the U.S. Fund for UNICEF ($1 million for education for Syrian refugees), and the Rain Forest Trust ($1 million for “conservation of land and species”).

To help combat the Ebola virus, Avaaz provided $500,000 to the International Medical Corps, $350,000 to Save the Children and $300,000 to Partners in Health. For organizing for the September 2014 People’s Climate March in New York City, Avaaz provided $27,500 to Align and $10,000 to New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG). Rounding out the list, a $10,000 grant went to Amazon Watch for “protection of the Amazon.”

For activities outside the United States, Avaaz spent most heavily in Europe on campaigns, advertising and consulting — $6.2 million, with South America a distant second at $685,000 for consulting services, followed by East Asia and the Pacific with $553,000 for campaigns and consulting services. Expenditures in five other regions ranged from $45,000 to $270,000.

Avaaz reported that the foundation is still comprised of the same two member organizations — MoveOn.org Civic Action and Res Publica, Inc. (U.S.) — which were the original founding groups.

Res Publica, a 501(c)(3), lists the same Manhattan address as the 501(c)(4) Avaaz and presumably provides unspecified assistance to Avaaz. Back at Avaaz’s beginning, the three principals in Res Publica were the aforementioned Patel, Pravda and Perriello. The three men had all served with the International Center for Transitional Justice, which “assists countries pursuing accountability for past mass atrocity or human rights abuse.” Also in those early days, according to some accounts, Avaaz listed the Service Employees International Union and Australia-based GetUp.org.au as co-founding organizations, but they seem to have long since been out of the picture.

In Res Publica’s most recent Form 990 filing with the IRS for 2013, Patel is listed as executive director, Pravda as treasurer, and Vivek Maru as secretary. All received no compensation. Contributions for 2013 totaled $963,895, of which $846,165 was from “Government grants” for unspecified purposes. The organization reported that it “provides strategic advice to other non-profit organizations… [and] also provides educational and action-based e-mail campaigns to citizens in every country via its website.” It also reported supporting projects “through fiscal sponsorship, that focused on online security and Internet freedom for repressed communities globally…”

Here are profiles of Avaaz co-founders and past and current officers:

Eli Pariser: Avaaz Chairman and Co-founder

Eli Pariser was executive director of MoveOn.org from 2004 through 2009 when the organization experienced explosive growth, and has been its board president since then. MoveOn, in the words of an on-line Pariser biography, “revolutionized grassroots political organizing by introducing a small-donor-funded and email-driven model that has since been widely used across the political spectrum.”

In addition to being a founder of Avaaz and currently serving as its chairman, the Brooklyn-based Pariser has been a member of the boards of Access and the New Organizing Institute. A best-selling author and former fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, Pariser is co-founder and executive of the on-line media company Upworthy. He is also currently a member of the advisory board of George Soros’s Open Society Foundations’ U.S. Programs.

We would note that Pariser appears to be one of the few Avaaz founders and officers whose background is almost entirely in on-line activism, while some others have governmental or otherwise overseas experience working in programs in high poverty and/or war-torn countries.

We submitted several questions to Pariser on March 9, but he has not responded as of this writing.

Ricken Patel: Avaaz Executive Director and Co-founder

Prior to the founding of Avaaz in 2007, the Canadian-born Ricken Patel consulted for a number of international and well-established non-profit organizations — the International Crisis Group, the United Nations, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Gates Foundation, Harvard University, CARE International, and the International Center for Transitional Justice. He worked in several countries including Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sudan and Afghanistan. He also was the founding executive director of Avaaz-affiliated Res Publica, which among its past projects “worked to end genocide in Darfur.” As executive director of Avaaz since its begining, Patel is the face of the organization and has been termed “the global leader of online protest” by The Guardian.

Thomas Pravda: Avaaz Treasurer and Co-founder

Through two of its co-founders — Tom Perriello and Thomas Pravda — Avaaz has connections to government officialdom in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Perriello (discussed below) is now with the State Department as U.S. special envoy for the African Great Lakes and the Congo-Kinshasa.

Pravda is currently serving as the (unpaid) treasurer and a director for Avaaz, while at the same time holding down a post as a diplomat with the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office, commonly known as the Foreign Office. He is also co-founder and officer in Res Publica.

As the Foreign Office is “responsible for protecting and promoting British interests worldwide,” this could raise conflict-of-interest possibilities regarding U.K. and U.S. foreign relations and military issues that might be taken up by Avaaz. This would include the organization’s advocacy for a no-fly zone in Syria, in which both the U.S. and U.K. would be expected to participate. Our research, though, found no example of anyone raising a specific issue about Pravda’s dual role as U.K. diplomat and Avaaz officer, but this relationship looks problematic on the face of it.

Pravda’s self-provided biography shows he has been with the Foreign Office since October 2003, and with Avaaz since 2006, and that he was also an advisor to the U.S. State Department in 2009-2010 regarding the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

In his diplomatic assignments Pravda has worked on E.U. trade and development policy; as an advisor to the Special Representative for Climate Change, and as the U.K. Representative in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo. He has also consulted extensively on political, security, research and advocacy issues for such institutions as the U.S. State Department, the United Nations Development Program, the International Center for Transitional Justice and Oxford Analytica.

Ben Brandzel: Avaaz Secretary and Co-founder

In addition to currently serving as the (unpaid) secretary for Avaaz, Ben Brandzel is the founder and director of OPEN (Online Progressive Engagement Network), described as an alliance of the world’s leading national digital campaigning organizations. Besides being a founding board member and former senior campaigner at Avaaz, Brandzel is the chief founding advisor for OPEN member groups in the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and Ireland. He also served as the original advocacy director for MoveOn.org and in 2009-2010 directed new media campaigns and fundraising for President Obama during the health reform campaign. He writes frequently on digital organizing and transnational movement building.

Tom Perriello: Avaaz Co-founder

If I were going to name one chief suspect among Avaaz’s founders as the architect of its no-fly zone advocacy in Libya and Syria, it would be Tom Perriello. More than anyone else connected with Avaaz from its earliest days, Perriello, since leaving the organization — first for Congress and then for the think-tank world before going to the U.S. State Department — has shown himself to be a reliable advocate for war: For continuing the war in Afghanistan, for bombing Libya and ousting Gaddafi, and for taking military action to support Syrian rebels and remove Assad from power.

Perriello champions “humanitarian intervention” and lauded the NATO bombing campaign in Libya — before the U.S./NATO “victory” there and before the country subsequently went all to hell — as a prime example of how this approach can succeed .

We asked Avaaz whether Perriello’s thinking had influenced the organization’s campaigns for no-fly zones in Libya and Syria, and received a stern denial from Avaaz’s Greenberg: “Tom Perriello, specifically, was an Avaaz board member at the founding of the organization but has not been on the board since December 2009, and has had no role in Avaaz’s Syria campaigns.”

Perriello’s career, like some others with Avaaz, has been more one of public service through established organizations than of activism. According to an on-line biography, in 2002-2003 Perriello was special advisor to the international prosecutor of the Special Court of Sierra Leone, and then served as a consultant to the International Center for Transitional Justice in Kosovo (2003), Darfur (2005) and Afghanistan (2007). In 2004, he co-founded Res Publica with Patel and Pravda. Perriello has also been a fellow at The Century Foundation and is a co-founder of DarfurGenocide.org. He said in his on-line bio that he had “spent much of his career working in West Africa and the Middle East to create strategies for sustainable peace, and he was involved in the peace processes that helped end the civil wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia.”

A Democrat, Perriello was elected to Congress from Virginia’s 5th District in 2008. (It would appear from the statement we received from Avaaz that if Perriello left the organization in December 2009 then he was still on the Avaaz board during his first year in Congress.)

In his one term, Perriello was a staunch supporter of the global war on terror, the military appropriations to continue U.S. wars, and keeping U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Defeated in his 2010 bid for reelection, Perriello went on to serve as president and CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund and counselor for policy also at Center for American Progress, a Democratic party-supporting think tank. From 2014 to the present he has been with the State Department, first as the Special Representative to the Secretary of State for the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, and since last summer as the U.S. special envoy for the African Great Lakes and the Congo-Kinshasa. Although said not to be involved with Avaaz currently, his humanitarian intervention philosophy seems alive and well at Avaaz with its calls for no-fly zones in Libya and Syria.

In this excerpt from his 2012 article on humanitarian intervention, Perriello sounds absolutely eager to send in the bombs wherever “egregious atrocities” are occurring and human beings are suffering. And this, as Perriello writes, would give “progressives” the “opportunity… to expand the use of force to advance key values.”  Following are two paragraphs from Perriello’s article that give the flavor of the “humanitarian intervention” philosophy he advocates. It would certainly be helpful if Avaaz would tell us if it subscribes to its co-founder’s rather bloodless and creepy prescription for advancing progressives’ “key values.”

“Operational developments since the end of the Cold War have substantially improved our capacity to wage smart military operations that are limited in time and scope and employ precise and overwhelming force,” Perriello wrote. “This presents progressives with an opportunity—one that is too often seen as a curse—to expand the use of force to advance key values. Our technical capacities, ranging from accuracy of systems intelligence to smart weaponry, now allow for previously impossible operations. Today, we have the ability to conduct missions from the air that historically would have required ground troops. And we possess an admittedly imperfect but highly improved ability to limit collateral damage, including civilian casualties. Among other things, this means fewer bombs can accomplish the same objectives, with early estimates suggesting that the Libyan air campaign required one-third the number of sorties as earlier air wars…

“We must realize that force is only one element of a coherent national security strategy and foreign policy. We must accept the reality—whether or not one accepts its merits—that other nations are more likely to perceive our motives to be self-interested than values-based. But in a world where egregious atrocities and grave threats exist, and where Kosovo and Libya have changed our sense of what’s now possible, the development of this next generation of power can be seen as a historically unique opportunity to reduce human suffering.”

Imagine the nerve of those other nations Perriello refers to — failing to see that the United States selflessly engages in “values-based” bombing: Bombs for a better world.

Andrea Woodhouse: Avaaz Co-founder

Another Avaaz co-founder, Andrea Woodhouse, describes herself as a development professional, social entrepreneur and writer. She has worked in many countries experiencing conflict and political transition, including Indonesia, Timor Leste, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Burma/Myanmar. In Indonesia, she reported working on one of the largest anti-poverty programs in the world, which she said became the model for a national program of post-conflict reconstruction and state-building in Afghanistan. She has worked for the World Bank and the United Nations and was a founder of the World Bank’s Justice for the Poor program.

Jeremy Heimans: Avaaz Co-founder

According to an on-line biography, Jeremy Heimans in 2005 co-founded GetUp, an Australian political organization and one of that country’s largest campaigning communities. It has campaigned for same-sex marriage and in support of Julian Assange of Wikileaks. In addition to being an Avaaz co-founder, Heimans in 2009 co-founded Purpose, an activist group that launched several major new organizations including All Out, a two-million member LGBT rights group.

David Madden: Avaaz Co-founder

David Madden, another Avaaz co-founder, is a former Australian Army officer and World Bank and United Nations employee. With Jeremy Heimans, he co-founded GetUp. Madden has worked for the World Bank in Timor Leste, and for the United Nations in Indonesia. In 2004, Madden was one of the founders of Win Back Respect, a web-based campaign against the foreign policy of U.S. President George W. Bush.

George Soros’s Role in Avaaz Early Years

For the last few years, various on-line bloggers have questioned whether Avaaz is somehow doing the bidding of philanthropist George Soros and his Open Society Foundations, or of the U.S. government (or portions thereof). (See an example here.)

There is no question that there was a close connection between Avaaz and Soros and his organizations dating back to Avaaz’s early days, but what — if anything — does that translate into today?

As noted earlier, in one of the few of my questions that Avaaz answered directly, there was an acknowledgement of early Soros “seed money” to Avaaz, but a denial of any continuing involvement with the organization.

Of all individuals or organizations outside the Avaaz structure, though, Soros’s foundations played the most significant role in helping get Avaaz off the ground with generous grants. Additionally, the Open Society Institute (the previous name of the Open Society Foundations)  served as Avaaz’s “foundation partner” on campaigns of joint interest, most notably in connection with the Burmese Democracy Movement.

Avaaz still has a Soros connection — notably, as indicated above, Eli Pariser serving on an Open Society advisory board. And both Avaaz and Soros seem to share an antipathy to what they characterize as Russian aggression as exemplified by Avaaz’s sometimes over-the-top statements about Russia in Syria. (For example, as noted in our previous article, Ricken Patel holding Putin’s government responsible for being complicit with the Assad government in “coordinating atrocities” and “targeting the assassinations of journalists” in early 2012. Also, see this September 30, 2015 Avaaz posting using flimsy evidence to accuse Russian planes of deliberately bombing civilian neighborhoods.)

Donations by Soros’s Foundations

Over a three-year period beginning in 2007, Soros’s foundations — either directly or passed through Res Publica — gave Avaaz a total of $1.2 million.

In 2007, the Open Society Institute gave $150,000 to Res Publica for general support for Avaaz, and $100,000 for Avaaz’s work on climate change.

In 2008, Open Society Institute again gave a total of $250,000 to Res Publica — with $150,000 of that again for general support for Avaaz and the remaining $100,000 for Avaaz’s climate change work.

The following year, Soros was even more generous to Avaaz. His Foundation to Promote Open Society in its Form 990 filing for 2009 (page 87) reported giving a total of  $600,000 to Res Publica for Avaaz’s use — $300,000 for general support and $300,000 for climate campaigning.

Avaaz increased its ties to the Soros organization in 2008 by selecting the then-named Open Society Institute (OSI) as its “foundation partner” to oversee some $325,000 in donations that Avaaz had received from its members — in just four days — to support the Burmese Democracy Movement.

Avaaz said it was linking up with OSI — “one of the largest and most respected foundations in the world” — for the purpose of OSI monitoring Avaaz’s grant awards and expenditures. OSI was “taking no overhead on the funds we are granting to Burmese groups” for technology, organizing, support for the regime’s victims and victims’ families, and international advocacy.

In June 2009, OSI reported that its Burma Project grantees — including Avaaz — had rallied global support around democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. On that occasion, Avaaz partnered with the Free Burma’s Political Prisoners Now! Campaign to collect more than 670,000 signatures asking for UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon’s support for Aung San Suu Kyi and some 2,000 other political prisoners.

From available information, it does not appear Soros or his foundations have contributed financially to Avaaz or directly engaged in projects with the organization in the last five to six years. And Avaaz itself says the Soros financial connection ended in 2009. Whether the substantial assistance Soros’s foundations gave Avaaz in its first three years of existence carries any lasting influence, though, is certainly hard to show.

Avaaz’s Impressive Record of Advocacy

As noted in our previous article, even allowing for organizational self-hype, Avaaz has an impressive record of advocacy — a record that mostly seems off-kilter with its no-fly zone advocacy in Libya and Syria. For example, here are some other Avaaz campaigns not previously mentioned:

  • Avaaz has played a prominent role in a number of actions directed at Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
  • Avaaz was a key player in a successful campaign (including a petition with more than 1.7 million signatures, coupled with occupations and protests at some 15 Barclays bank branches across the United Kingdom) to pressure Barclays to divest its $2.9 million holdings in an Israeli defense contractor, Elbit Systems.

Avaaz received plaudits from the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement for its role in that campaign. Elbit Systems is the major Israeli-based arms and security company that manufactures drones used in surveillance and attacks on Palestinians in Gaza. It also provides electronics for the “apartheid wall” being constructed on the West Bank.

  • A petition directed to the government of Israel and to the U.S. Congress netted 185,000 signatures in support of the portion of President Obama’s Cairo speech in June 2009 in which he said: “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.”
  • In 2011, some 1.6 million people — more than 300,000 of them in just the first two days — signed an Avaaz petition to European leaders and U.N. member states, urging them “to endorse the legitimate bid for recognition of the state of Palestine and the reaffirmation of the rights of the Palestinian people. It is time to turn the tide on decades of failed peace talks, end the occupation and move towards peace based on two states.”
  • In March 2013, at the time of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC’s) annual conference and congressional lobbying days in Washington, D.C., Avaaz joined with Jewish Voice for Peace to erect hundreds of anti-AIPAC posters across Metro stations in central D.C. The signs read: “AIPAC does not speak for me. Most Jewish Americans are pro-peace. AIPAC is not.”
  • Through its petitions, Avaaz has strongly opposed governmental surveillance of U.S. citizens, and has defended Wikileaks and national security whistleblowers Edward Snowden and Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning.
  • In April 2011, amid news reports of Manning’s brutal treatment while imprisoned at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia before facing a court martial for providing classified documents to Wikileaks, almost 550,000 people signed an Avaaz petition to President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. The petition, headlined “Stop Wikileaks Torture,” called on those officials “to immediately end the torture, isolation and public humiliation of Bradley Manning. This is a violation of his constitutionally guaranteed human rights, and a chilling deterrent to other whistleblowers committed to public integrity.”
  • A December 2010 Avaaz petition, calling “the vicious intimidation campaign against Wikileaks” by the U.S. and other governments and corporations “a dangerous attack on freedom of expression and freedom of the press,” produced 654,000 signatures — more than 300,000 of those in the first 24 hours the petition was circulated on-line.
  • In June 2013, just days after the first reports of the National Security Agency’s illegal worldwide spying appeared, some 1.38 million people signed a petition, headlined “Stand with Edward Snowden,” to President Obama. The petition read: “We call on you to ensure that whistleblower Edward Snowden is treated fairly, humanely and given due process. The PRISM program is one of the greatest violations of privacy ever committed by a government. We demand that you terminate it immediately, and that Edward Snowden be recognized as a whistleblower acting in the public interest — not as a dangerous criminal.”
  • In April 2012, some 780,000 people signed an Avaaz petition to members of Congress, and another to Facebook, Microsoft and IBM (with 626,000 signers), to drop their support for the Internet surveillance bill known as the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA). The bill, the petition stated, would place “Our democracy and civil liberties… under threat from the excessive and unnecessary Internet surveillance powers” that it would grant to the U.S. government without requirement of a warrant.
  • In the face of widespread hunger strikes at the Guantanamo Bay prison in 2013, Avaaz gathered 690,000 signatures on a petition to transfer the 86 men who had already been cleared for release, and to appoint a White House official whose responsibility it would be to close down the prison. Said the petition: “This shameful complex is a scourge on humanity, is destroying lives, and fuels hate across the world. Close it down!”
  • Avaaz is also in the front ranks on various other issues —  fighting global warming, seeking an end to U.S. and European arms sales to Saudi Arabia, protecting rain forests, saving endangered species, promoting clean energy, challenging Rupert Murdoch’s bid for a greater media monopoly in the United Kingdom, defending human rights in a number of countries, etc.

In none of those other campaigns do we see Avaaz proposing military action of any sort. Why this anomaly when it came to Libya and now Syria? Especially, when military action’s aftermath turned out so badly in Libya, and when even the nation’s leading generals say a Syria no-fly zone would escalate the war and endanger the very civilians Avaaz has the stated goal of protecting?



John Hanrahan, currently on the editorial board of ExposeFacts, is a former executive director of The Fund for Investigative Journalism and reporter for  The Washington Post,  The Washington Star, UPI and other news organizations. He also has extensive experience as a legal investigator. Hanrahan is the author of  Government by Contract  and co-author of Lost Frontier: The Marketing of Alaska. He wrote extensively for NiemanWatchdog.org, a project of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.

April 16, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

As in Libya, Avaaz Campaigns for Syria No-Fly Zone That Even Top Generals Oppose

By John Hanrahan | ExposeFacts | April 11, 2016

(First of two articles)

  • “I worry sometimes that, when people say ‘impose a no-fly zone,’ there is this almost antiseptic view that this is an easily accomplished military task. It’s extraordinarily difficult. Having overseen imposing a no-fly zone in Libya, a force that is vastly inferior in air forces and air defenses to that which exists in Syria, it’s a pretty high-risk operation…It first entails — we should make no bones about it. It first entails killing a lot of people and destroying the Syrian air defenses and those people who are manning those systems. And then it entails destroying the Syrian air force, preferably on the ground, in the air if necessary. This is a violent combat action that results in lots of casualties and increased risk to our own personnel.” — Now-retired four-star General Carter Ham, former commander, U.S. Africa Command, who oversaw U.S. military enforcement of the Libyan no-fly zone in 2011 [CBS News]
  • “It is quite frankly an act of war and it is not a trivial matter… I know it sounds stark, but what I always tell people when they talk to me about a no-fly zone is . . . it’s basically to start a war with that country because you are going to have to go in and kinetically take out their air defense capability.” — Four-star General Philip Breedlove, NATO’s current supreme allied commander, U.S. European Command [Stars and Stripes ]
  • The New York Times reported that in 2012 General Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the White House that imposing a no-fly zone in Syria — in the Times paraphrasing — “would require as many as 70,000 American servicemen to dismantle Syria’s sophisticated antiaircraft system and then impose a 24-hour watch over the country.” [New York Times ]  (Dismantle being a Times polite euphemism for bombing the bejeezus out of Syria’s antiaircraft defenses.)

Readers of the national edition of the June 18, 2015 New York Times were greeted with a dramatic full-page ad featuring a photo of an apparently injured baby fitted with a breathing device and being tended to by a partially visible adult beneath a big, bold-type headline: “PRESIDENT OBAMA, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?” (A partial picture of the ad can be found here.)

In smaller type, under the picture of the baby and the adult, was the message: “Trapped and under chemical attack, the Syrian people are desperate for help.”

And below that in slightly smaller type was the risky military operation that the ad’s sponsors wanted the reluctant President to undertake. To wit: “A majority of Americans support a No-Fly Zone in Syria to save lives and 1,093,775 people around the world [in an on-line petition] are calling for action now.”

The on-line petition cited in the ad also has an urgent headline calling for a “Safe zone for Syrians, now!” The body of the petition demands the establishment of an “air-exclusion zone in Northern Syria, including Aleppo, to stop the bombardment of Syria’s civilians and ensure that humanitarian aid reaches those most in need.” The petition — slightly different than the New York Times ad — was addressed not only to Obama, but also to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, French President Francois Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron “and other world leaders.”

Now it’s not surprising to see such an expensive ad in the current political climate in which Syrian war fever has seized much of the U.S. political establishment. A climate in which Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (but not Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump), and every neoconservative and “humanitarian interventionist” and chicken-hawk in creation have, at the very least, called for a no-fly zone in northern Syria as part of a greater U.S. military involvement to remove President Bashar al-Assad.

What stood out about this ad, then, isn’t so much the neocon-like call to action — a move toward a wider war in Syria which could entail even more U.S. and western military air bombardments, as well as additional displacement and death for civilians — but rather the ad’s sponsors.

This ad wasn’t the product of a gaggle of bellicose Republicans or acolytes of the Brookings Institution’s war-enthusiast-in-chief Michael O’Hanlon — or even supporters of regime change advocate Hillary Clinton — offering one of their bold, armchair-military solutions to the many-sided, complex Middle East conflicts.

Rather, the ad and its supporting on-line petition were the handiwork of the Internet phenom activist organization Avaaz.org. With the staggering claimed number of 43.1-million members  in 194 countries as of mid-March 2016 (anyone who has ever signed an Avaaz petition is considered by the organization to be a member), the New York City-based Avaaz is easily the largest and most influential Internet-based, international advocacy organization on the planet. (Having myself signed many Avaaz petitions over the years, I am counted as one of those 43 million.)

Avaaz, which means “voice” or “song” in many languages, was started in 2006 and officially launched in 2007 by the U.S. online powerhouse MoveOn.org Civic Action and the little known global advocacy group Res Publica. With initial significant financial backing from — and some blogger critics allege, continued influence of — financier and liberal philanthropist George Soros and his Open Society Foundations (then called Open Society Institute), Avaaz has grown at a mind-boggling pace each year. Since 2011, the organization has increased six-fold to its current membership of almost 43-million. (The second of our two articles on Avaaz will provide more background on the organization, its key issues, its founders and current officials, and funding sources.)

Although widely regarded as liberal to progressive in its campaigns, Avaaz stands alone on the left as the one major on-line activist organization to call for an escalation of the U.S. military role in Syria — just as before that it was alone on the left in 2011 in campaigning successfully for a no-fly zone for Libya, with subsequent disastrous consequences for that country. (More about this in a follow-up article.)

For this article, we submitted a series of questions to Avaaz media personnel, with an emphasis on obtaining specifics as to its rationale for its support for no-fly zones in Libya and Syria. These questions included why the organization had not informed its members of the warnings (cited above) of top U.S. generals and other experts about the potential dangers to civilians and military personnel inherent in the establishment of a no-fly zone in Syria.

After requests (and reminders) on five occasions in November, December and January, we finally received a response on February 11, but that addressed only a few of our specific questions. The organization ignored our question as to why Avaaz had not presented petition-signers with the potential dangers of a Syrian no-fly zone that the prominent generals had warned of. Our follow-up questions, submitted on February 12, have gone unanswered.

What Avaaz spokesperson Nell Greenberg did tell us is: “When it comes to Syria, millions of Avaaz members have repeatedly over the last six years demonstrated that they believe the world has an obligation to protect civilians in Syria as well as those who have fled the country as refugees. In addition to Avaaz members calling for a targeted no-fly zone back in spring of 2015, Avaaz members have called for diplomacy, negotiations and ceasefire as well as raising over a million dollars for the victims inside and outside Syria and volunteering to house and support refugees displaced by this war.”

Avaaz and signers of its no-fly zone petition, “see every human life as equally precious and deserving of protection,” Greenberg said, adding: “At the time of the Syria no-fly zone campaign, a majority* of our membership supported the call for a targeted no-fly zone in northern Syria. But there were deep questions and concerns brought up by other members of the Avaaz movement that we did not ignore. A Q and A was written to go along with the campaign that you can find here, which spoke to many of their questions and I think addresses the heart of yours:  http://avaaz.org/en/syria_safe_zone_faq/. To be clear, this Q and A was written by the Avaaz Campaign Director [John Napier Tye] who developed this campaign and is his personal perspective, which is why he signed it. It is not a statement from the Avaaz community.” (* A majority of a random sample of 10,000 Avaaz members, not a majority of its entire membership, supported the campaign for a no-fly zone.)

What exactly those last two sentences of Avaaz’s statement mean is anyone’s guess. Someone ostensibly speaking for the organization is really speaking only for himself? The buck stops with John Tye and not with executive director Ricken Patel and others in the Avaaz hierarchy? And, curiously, the Q and A link cited above was disabled sometime in March and no longer worked as of this writing.

Interestingly, Tye himself is a former U.S. State Department official who upon leaving the agency in April 2014 filed a whistleblower complaint. The complaint alleged, as The New York Times reported, that the National Security Agency’s practices abroad — as authorized by Reagan-era Executive Order 12333 permitting the NSA to gather and use U.S. citizens’ communications overseas — “violated Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights” to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. While at the State Department from 2011-2014, Tye “worked on Internet freedom issues and had top-secret clearance.” Unlike whistleblower Edward Snowden, Tye wrote in an opinion piece in The Washington Post that he had gone through channels in making his complaint and had not disclosed any classified information.

Greenberg’s response did not address my questions about the generals’ warnings about a no-fly zone in Syria. Instead, she stated: “In addition, as with all of our campaigns, the emails about this campaign included links to articles with multiple viewpoints to support deliberative discussion of the issue and provide resources for members to fact check and do more research on their own.”

Contrary to this statement, I found no link in the Avaaz materials to any article quoting the generals or other critics of imposing a no-fly zone in Syria. Nor did I see even a generic statement, suggesting this is a controversial issue that might merit further research before an Avaaz member would consider signing.

Avaaz Involved on the Ground in Syrian Conflict; Without Proof, Blamed Russians for ‘Coordinating Atrocities’ Against Journalists

It’s important to note that Avaaz’s past activities regarding Syria have gone far beyond petitions calling for a no-fly zone. In 2011-2012 (and perhaps beyond), Avaaz interjected itself into the Syrian conflict in a controversial manner not usually associated with on-line activism — spiriting several dozen western journalists in and out of Syria; helping rescue trapped journalists and other civilians; smuggling in medical supplies; training and then providing “citizen journalists” with cameras to document Syrian government forces’ war crimes; and serving as a major conduit of war information from inside Syria to western journalists outside the country.

As The New Republic’s Simon van Zuylen-Wood reported, Avaaz’s Wissam Tarif, a Lebanese activist, “helped smuggle medical supplies into Syria, as well as more than 35 western journalists… He also oversaw the training of ordinary Syrians who subsequently re-entered their country to report on what was going on. As Syria became increasingly dangerous and difficult to penetrate, Western journalists came to rely ever more on Avaaz’s daily e-mail briefings, which compiled information from 200 such Syrian ‘citizen journalists.’”

Several hundred reporters were reportedly receiving Avaaz’s email briefings at the time, putting the organization in a unique position of being the major source of anti-regime news and propaganda coming out of Syria. For example, as NPR’s Deborah Amos reported, Avaaz’s “citizen journalists” provided casualty figures that “Many media organizations, as well as United Nations officials” relied on “to track the violence inside the country.”

Amos reported in March 2012 that Avaaz “has given crucial support to the uprising and the Syrian activist networks that aim to topple the regime of President Bashar Assad.” Amos’s piece raised the question of whether Avaaz had overstepped its role by engaging in operations in which a large number of Syrian activists had been killed (as many as 23, Avaaz’s executive director Ricken Patel subsequently said).

Amos’s report appeared shortly after Avaaz, in February 2012, announced that it had coordinated the rescue of British photographer Paul Conroy of the London Sunday Times, who had been wounded when government security forces attacked the Baba Amr neighborhood in the city of Homs. Two journalists — Marie Colvin, also of the London Sunday Times, and French photographer Remi Ochlik — were killed in the attack. Conroy was evacuated by his rescuers to Lebanon. Thirteen Syrian activists were initially reported killed in the rescue operation, and Avaaz’s Patel told the BBC at the time that seven others were arrested by government forces and then “shot in the back of the head with their hands tied behind their backs.”

The Avaaz press release on the rescue said: “This operation was carried [out] by Syrians with the help of Avaaz. No other agency was involved” — a claim that Avaaz later had to retract.

Around the same time, in another interview with the BBC4 radio program PM, Patel stated that more than 50 Syrian activists had agreed to participate in the rescue operation — and 23 of them had been killed (a slightly higher number than initially cited.)

In that interview, Patel asserted that repeated attacks on the Homs media center by Assad’s forces were “targeted assassinations” of journalists — and he contended on the flimsiest of information that either the Russians or Iranians — most likely the Russians — “were coordinating these atrocities.” Asked about his evidence for this, Patel said that a drone constantly positioned over Baba Amr conducted surveillance of the area. “…(T)o our knowledge,” Patel said, “the Syrians certainly have not been able to build a drone themselves or own one, so it’s got to be coming from Russia or from Iran, actually coordinating these atrocities.”

Patel said he assumed the drone was Russian operated because the Russians were providing large amounts of military assistance to Assad. Patel said “common sense would suggest there is some sort of cooperation going on” between Russia and Syria’s government and the Russians would have to know the Syrians are “targeting citizens and civilians.”

The New Republic’s Zuylen-Wood  subsequently challenged Avaaz’s initial claim of being the sole coordinator of the Conroy rescue, and got Patel to back off  to correct both his earlier statement and the Avaaz press release. Patel said that he and Avaaz had made an honest mistake in the confusion and chaos of the rescue, and that the opposition Free Syria Army “played a significant role” in the operation but with substantial planning, input and backing from Avaaz. Although guilty of over-hype in claiming sole credit, Avaaz in its back-and-forth with The New Republic certainly showed that it had, indeed, played an important part in the rescue operation.

Whether this was an appropriate role for an activist organization is another question. Amos’s NPR piece raised the issue, stating: Given the deaths “of so many Syrian activists in the operation” this might suggest that “Avaaz has crossed a line, not just a border.”

For her report, Amos interviewed Randa Slim, a research fellow at the New America Foundation and a specialist in the Syrian opposition, who said: “I am not questioning their motives. But lives are at stake. Are they the right entity to do it. Is an NGO the right outlet?”

Answering press criticism at the time — and giving an indication of its success in getting the opposition’s view of the Syrian conflict to western journalists — Avaaz stated it was “proud of 18 months of outstanding work by our staff and our community to support the voices of the Syrian people to reach the world in thousands of news articles assisted by citizen journalists we have supported or helped connect to the media.”

Additionally, Avaaz commented, “Our community has donated almost $3 million for communications equipment, humanitarian aid and advocacy, and taken millions of actions including petition signatures, messages, phone calls and advocacy visits to press governments to take action to support the Syrian people.”

It is not clear whether Avaaz has continued to provide the same sort of on-the-ground assistance to opposition forces and civilians as it was offering a few years ago, although it indicated at the time that it would continue such activities.

In Forefront of Many Progressive Causes, Avaaz’s Advocacy for Military Actions in First Libya and Now Syria Seems Out of Sync

At first blush, the petition advocating for a Syria no-fly zone was a jolt to those not familiar with Avaaz’s swing toward “humanitarian” military action in recent years. It seemed surprising because Avaaz has on other occasions called for negotiated peaceful solutions to various conflicts (including in Syria itself), and has been substantially in sync with other major progressive organizations on scores of U.S. and international issues in its nine years of existence.

Based on the overwhelming majority of the hundreds of Avaaz petitions I have seen over the years and in preparation for this article, I had assumed that the organization adhered to a basic principle of nonviolence in international affairs — and it has even said so on occasion. But as one person who has had close connections to Avaaz noted to me: Although favoring diplomatic solutions, Avaaz does not rule out the use of military force, as its no-fly zone advocacy for Libya and Syria amply demonstrate.

On its website home page, Avaaz does not have an out-front display of its past campaign for a no-fly zone in Libya and its current one in Syria (and does not ever mention the ongoing disaster in Libya, or its support for a no-fly zone there). Rather, it focuses its out-front materials on its multitude of campaigns that involve nonviolent, political, diplomatic and public relations remedies. And even allowing for organizational self-hype, Avaaz has an impressive record of advocacy.

Through its petitions, street actions, billboards and newspaper ads, Avaaz has been highly visible on hundreds of issues worldwide — including Palestinian rights, support for U.S. government whistleblowers including Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden, campaigns for endangered species, etc. This is, after all, an organization that played a major role along with 350.org and other activist groups in organizing the massive People’s Climate March in New York City in September 2014; it was also an organizer of the Global Climate March that was to coincide with the opening last November of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in France. That march was blocked by the French government in the aftermath of coordinated attacks attributed to ISIS that killed at least 130 people in Paris earlier in November.

Most — if not all — of Avaaz’s campaigns seem right in line with current day activism of various groupings on the political Left. Even on Syria, an Avaaz campaign urging the United States to take in more refugees is in a more traditional humanitarian vein (that is, one that doesn’t involve military hardware, needless to say). Typical was Avaaz’s full, back-page color ad in the March 10, 2016 Politico headlined (in a play on a Republican presidential debate topic): “IT TAKES BIG HANDS (and a Bigger Heart) TO WELCOME 25,000 SYRIAN REFUGEES.” The ad praised Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for “showing the world what it means to have a giant heart” through Canada’s acceptance and resettlement of 25,000 refugees in the previous four months — “while America debates the size of candidates’ hands” and has taken in fewer than 1,000 refugees. The ad urged President Obama and Congress to “do better, and show the world the size of our hearts, not our hands.”

Also recently, in February 2016, more than 749,000 people signed an Avaaz petition that called on members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and leaders of the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and France to “suspend all arms deals with Saudi Arabia until they end their assaults in Yemen and begin a genuine peace process.” The campaign, which also included targeting MEPs with phone calls and personal messages, won a major success when the European Parliament voted on February 25 “for an embargo on arms sale to Saudi Arabia,” in response to a United Nations report documenting 119 Saudi violations of international law in Yemen. Because European Union states are not bound by the action, Avaaz is continuing the campaign to get the European governments and the United States to follow the European Parliament’s lead.

This Saudi campaign makes Avaaz’s repeat advocacy for a no-fly zone — first in Libya and now in Syria — appear on initial impression to be way out of sync with progressive thought and most other Avaaz campaigns, and so much in line with neocon and “humanitarian interventionist” regime-change advocates.

Avaaz Has Long Favored No-Fly Zone in Syria, Based in Part on the Dodgy Sarin Gas Story

The organization’s renewed campaign in the spring of 2015 for a Syrian no-fly zone was no sudden philosophical switch by Avaaz. In fact, as noted earlier, Avaaz had in 2011 campaigned for a no-fly zone in since-devastated Libya, and then turned its attention to a no-fly zone for Syria. It continued that Syrian effort in 2013-2014, while at the same time pushing for President Obama to get together with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to work out a diplomatic solution. That diplomacy petition netted 1,126,000 signers.

This diplomatic approach seemed more in line with what progressive individuals and organizations could get behind. But with no such diplomatic talks forthcoming, Avaaz then continued with its no-fly zone strategy.

Even in calling for negotiations, though, as well as in points raised in its on-line advocacy for a no-fly zone, Avaaz has regularly repeated a now-questionable allegation against the Syrian government — made on numerous occasions by Secretary John Kerry and then President Obama. The U.S. leaders and war advocates used the allegation as a justification for war when it appeared that the United States was going to launch a bombing campaign against Syria in September 2013: Namely, that Assad’s forces had used sarin gas on the civilian population near Damascus in August 2013. This charge that Assad was using chemical weapons on his own people has provided a continuing emotional selling point for Avaaz and other interventionists in the campaign for upping the military ante against the Assad regime.

“Right now,” the message accompanying the Avaaz diplomacy petition stated, “the global drums of war are beating over Syria, but if enough of us make sure Rouhani and Obama know the world wants bold diplomacy, we could end the nightmare for thousands of terrified Syrian children under gas attacks. We have no time to lose…”

But as pointed out repeatedly by Robert Parry of Consortium News and a few other independent journalists over the last two years — as well as recently by an organization of former U.S. intelligence professionals, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) — the Obama administration has publicly offered not one shred of evidence to back up its early claims that Assad gassed his own people in August 2013.

To the contrary, recent disclosures in Turkey provide evidence that strongly suggest it was not Assad’s military that carried out the sarin gas attack.

As Parry recently wrote, summing up his findings from his earlier articles, there is “growing evidence that it was a jihadist group, possibly with the help of Turkish intelligence, that staged the outrage as a provocation to draw the U.S. military into the conflict against Syria’s military by creating the appearance that Assad had crossed Obama’s ‘red line’ on using chemical weapons.” The sarin gas attack, it should be recalled, came at a very tense time when Obama was considering military action against Assad, and seemed in the eyes of many hawks to provide final justification for attacking Syria and removing Assad from power.

The VIPS group, in a December 22, 2015 memorandum it sent to Kerry and to Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov, noted  comments made in the Turkish Parliament 12 days earlier by member Eren Erdem from the opposition Republican People’s Party. In his remarks in Parliament, and four days later in an RT television interview, Erdem confronted the Turkish government on its possible role in the sarin gas issue. He cited a closed criminal case, official reports and electronic evidence documenting a sarin gas smuggling operation that was allegedly carried out with Turkish government complicity.

In the RT interview, according to the VIPS memo, “Erdem said Turkish authorities had acquired evidence of sarin gas shipments to anti-government rebels in Syria, and did nothing to stop them.” The General Prosecutor in the Turkish city of Adana “opened a criminal case, and an indictment stated ‘chemical weapons components’ from Europe ‘were to be seamlessly shipped via a designated route through Turkey to militant labs in Syria.’” Erdem cited evidence implicating the Turkish Minister of Justice and the Turkish Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation in the smuggling of sarin.”

This bombshell piece of information, largely ignored by the mainstream news media, is a strong indication that the original sarin gas story linking the chemical attack to Assad’s forces is either false or at best unproven.

This information also undercuts one of the major shocking and emotion-filled underpinnings for Avaaz’s campaign for a no-fly zone — as well as the rationale repeatedly voiced by other advocates of stepped-up military action against the Syrian government.

Gassing your own people is about as low as a dictator can get. True or not, it’s a powerful piece of propaganda that provides a clinching bit of information to someone considering whether or not to sign something like the Avaaz no-fly zone petition. Since the mainstream media have ignored the Turkish Parliamentarian’s disclosures, it’s a safe bet that most of the petition signers to this day harbor no doubts about the source of the sarin gas attack, since no one in the Obama administration, much less Avaaz or other no-fly zone advocates, has ever publicly offered any contrary information to suggest it might not have been Assad who unleashed the attack.

The shaky nature of the sarin gas allegation is one of the areas about which ExposeFacts queried Avaaz further, but we have received no response to date.

Avaaz Didn’t Tell Members That Top U.S. Generals Warned Against Syria No-Fly Zone

Among our unanswered questions submitted to Avaaz were ones noting that the organization’s Syria petitions and accompanying supporting materials made no mention of the warnings by top U.S. generals (cited earlier) of the dangers inherent in establishing a no-fly zone there — including risking drastically expanding that bloody, many-sided war and thereby endangering civilians.

Without any indication of such dangers, potential petition signers could very easily get the idea that there is little down-side to a no-fly zone. And, after all, if lives could be saved and there is little down-side, isn’t that a course of action every compassionate human being could get behind? Especially if the organization calling for it has built up trust with its members through its hundreds of other liberal and progressive petitions?

Also, in information provided by Avaaz in its emails to members and on its website relating to its Syria no-fly zone petition, there was no mention of Libya, or any explanation of what Avaaz leaders thought, in retrospect, about the chaos, death, destruction, displacement and rise of ISIS there in the aftermath of the military intervention by NATO including its use of a no-fly zone. (Or, more recently, what Avaaz might think of news reports that the United States is going back into Libya with airstrikes and commando raids to counter ISIS — which did not exist in Libya until after the NATO bombing campaign and the killing of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.)

Surely, you would think that the experience in Libya would limit an organization’s willingness to push once again for a no-fly zone, this time in Syria. Yet, despite that ongoing disaster in Libya, Avaaz was apparently not chastened. (See our follow-up article for an in-depth discussion of Avaaz’s advocacy for no-fly zone in Libya.)

As with our other questions, Avaaz did not answer whether the Libya experience made the organization’s leaders think twice about taking up the Syria no-fly zone issue. It was possibly obscurely referencing the Libya no-fly zone when it stated to us: “Much of what you’re asking for are reflection on past campaigns given the geopolitical landscape today. But based on the way we work, I cannot tell you how any Avaaz member would feel today about a past campaign without going back and asking them.”

Our follow-up question made it clear that we were not asking how any Avaaz member might feel about the Libya campaign, but rather how Avaaz’s leaders felt about proposing a no-fly zone for Syria when the Libya enterprise had turned out so disastrously.

No-Fly Zones As an Act of War

Regardless of the sincerity of petition-signers who believe no-fly zones can save civilians’ lives, the recent history in Iraq and Libya demonstrate that no-fly zones are actually precursors to — or accompanists of — stepped-up military action by the United States and other western powers to bring about regime change.

And many of those signing the Libya and Syria petitions — having developed trust in Avaaz after signing some of the organization’s previous, meritorious petitions — are inclined to accept Avaaz’s version of events and the benign explanation that a no-fly zone poses little risk and will save thousands of civilians’ lives.

Whatever humanitarian clothes you dress it up in, though, establishing a no-fly zone using air power is by its very nature a provocative act, an act of war, a threat to a sovereign nation (no matter how reprehensible that nation’s government might be).

It is one thing for an activist organization to push its members in support of a diplomatic solution, or to provide food, shelter and other humanitarian assistance to civilian war victims; it is quite another to buy into a dubious no-fly zone notion, which actual generals — not humanitarian armchair generals — warn would involve the deaths of multitudes of civilians.

Yet, in its petition and accompanying materials on Syria, Avaaz gives little hint that a no-fly zone is a move toward an expanded war and likely even more displacement and death for civilians. Instead, it appeals to people’s humanitarian instincts and downplays the risk to both civilians and military personnel.

Typical of the emotional appeal to members’ humanitarian instincts was a September 30, 2015 Avaaz posting that pressed the urgency of a no-fly zone even with the Russians having recently entered the air war in Syria in support of Assad’s government. On the basis of just one eyewitness to an alleged Russian bombing of civilian neighborhoods near Homs, Avaaz said this makes the further case for a no-fly zone.

The September 30 posting, in line with Avaaz’s general practice of casting the Russians as the arch-villains in the war in Syria, was headlined “Russian bombing of Syrian civilian neighbourhoods kills women and children – eyewitness,” and quoted Emma Ruby-Sachs, deputy director of Avaaz, thusly:

“Russia says it’s bombing ISIS, but eyewitnesses say their brutal attacks targeted areas way outside of ISIS control. This will only sow instability and radicalization and should be a wake-up call to the U.S. and its allies to enforce a targeted no-fly zone to save lives, counter ISIS and alleviate the refugee crisis. Syrian civilians need protection now, not further attacks from Russian bombs.”

Now it just might be that everything in this posting is true — that Russian planes bombed a bakery and a vegetable market, killing four children and two women — but we are asked to accept this on the word of just one person. We are also asked to accept that neither ISIS nor other anti-regime units operated in the area, on the basis of the one eyewitness who is apparently quoting local residents. We are also asked to believe that this is conclusive justification for going full speed ahead with a no-fly zone — never mind that the Russians might not want to give up Syrian air space without a fight and possibly send the ongoing disaster in Syria into a whole new dimension of slaughter.

Despite the lies and propaganda emitting from all of the many sides in the Syrian conflict, despite the uncertainties of just who is bombing whom in some situations, Avaaz sticks to its narrative that the Syrian regime — now along with its Russian bombing partners — are virtually alone in endangering civilians and that a no-fly zone is somehow going to make all that right without posing much of a problem, really.

The possibility that a no-fly zone could increase the likelihood of a direct U.S.-Russian confrontation and an even wider war was apparently not part of Avaaz’s equation. How the no-fly zone would counter ISIS is not explained, since ISIS does not have an air force, but Avaaz presents it and its claims of saving lives and easing the refugee crisis as some sort of sure thing.

Stephen Wrage, a professor of American foreign policy at the Naval Academy, and Scott Cooper, national security outreach director at Human Rights First and a retired Marine Corps aviator, make the point that a no-fly zone in Syria would fail in its mission to protect civilians. As they wrote last October in Defense One in an article titled, “The History of No-Fly Zones Doesn’t Bode Well for Syria”: “If the no-fly zone is a humanitarian instrument aimed at saving innocents…it will not be effective because it cannot separate the killers from their victims. Saddam and Qaddafi were constrained by geography: by Iraq’s Zagros Mountains and the Libyan Desert. In Syria, President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, now protected by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s air cover, would have no difficulty reaching the people he intends to kill.”

And as noted in the introduction to this article, the nation’s leading generals — no shrinking violets they — have repeatedly warned over the last several years of the drastic consequences of establishing a no-fly zone in Syria.

And all of these generals gave these warnings before Russian aircraft entered the fray.

It isn’t often I would say this, but in this instance of Syria the war-makers — the generals — are presenting the real-world, provocative implications of establishing a Syria no-fly zone, while Avaaz with its stated goal of protecting Syrian civilians presents a sugar-coated, little-harm version. And its petition and related materials, with a focus on the despicable Assad government’s violence against the civilian population, doesn’t adequately take into account the violence against civilians by ISIS and other opponents of Assad’s regime.

Near the end of each year, Avaaz (as do other on-line organizations) asks people on its email list to weigh in on a self-generated organizational list of priorities for the coming year. In no year has that list of priorities included setting up no-fly zones in, first, Libya, and now in Syria. The 2016 list of priorities, as voted on by members, includes a reference to peace in Syria, but no mention of a no-fly zone, stating: “Peace in Syria – campaign for the Syrian regime and all warring parties to stop brutal violence on innocent Syrian families, and ensure Syrian voices are heard in international peace talks.”

On its home page and in messages sent periodically to members to report on the organization’s campaigns and accomplishments, the call for a no-fly zone is not included as one of its showcase items. Nevertheless, Avaaz keeps raising the issue in dramatic ways throughout the year.

In an email sent to members last June, three days after publication of its New York Times ad, Avaaz renewed its call for a no-fly zone as it reported that a humanitarian worker had informed the organization that the “Syrian air force just dropped chlorine gas bombs on children.” Noting that a number of countries — including the United States, the United Kingdom, Turkey and France — were “seriously considering a safe zone in Northern Syria,” Avaaz added: “Advisors close to President Obama support it, but he is worried he won’t have public support. That’s where we come in… Let’s tell him we don’t want a world that watches as a dictator drops chemical weapons on families in the night. We want action.”

Avaaz said that the unnamed humanitarian worker told it that “I wish the world could see what I have seen with my eyes. It breaks my heart forever.”

Whatever the veracity of Avaaz’s source — and, again, it’s just one source at that moment — and whatever Avaaz’s good intentions, there is still that notion that setting up a no-fly zone is a walk in the park, rather than a dangerous move toward a wider war. The sense of frustration in that Avaaz missive is palpable: People are being slaughtered as the world watches. Something must be done. We want action!

Journalist and Middle East expert Charles Glass reported on the war in Syria in The New York Review of Books after a September 2015 trip there. Citing the United Nations’ latest “Report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic,” Glass said the report “paints a depressing portrait of the population’s unimaginable torment at the hands of government and opposition forces alike.”

Wrote Glass: “The regime drops barrel bombs in Aleppo, and the rebels respond with gas canisters of explosives and shrapnel. ISIS rapes and brutalizes Yazidi women whom it has declared slaves to be bought and sold. The regime’s security forces practice torture on an industrial scale. Both sides besiege villages, and both sides commit massacres. The UN report’s forty-four pages of horrific war crimes should be sufficient for the outside powers to budge and call a halt to this war. What are they waiting for?”

Unlike Avaaz’s posture of diplomacy and a no-fly zone, Glass was calling strictly for diplomacy, not escalation of the violence. He was seeing the civilian population suffering “at the hands of government and opposition forces alike.”

Avaaz — unlike, for example, Human Rights Watch on occasion — does not emphasize human rights abuses or killings of civilians by all forces involved in the Syrian fighting, concentrating instead on the abuses by Assad’s forces.

In a 79-page report on Syria in March 2015, Human Rights Watch (HRW) concluded:  “Opposition armed groups in Syria have indiscriminately attacked civilians in government-held territory with car bombs, mortars, and rockets…The attacks have killed and maimed hundreds of civilians and destroyed civilian infrastructure in violation of the laws of war…[The report] documents scores of attacks in heavily populated, government-controlled areas in Damascus and Homs between January 2012 and April 2014, and which continue into 2015. The findings are based primarily on victim and witness accounts, on-site investigations, publicly available videos, and information on social media sites.”

Many of the attacks, Human Rights Watch found, were indiscriminate, were carried out in areas where there were no government forces, and “seemed primarily intended to spread terror among the civilian population.”

An earlier 2013 HRW report, titled “Syria: Executions, Hostage Taking by Rebels — Planned Attacks on Civilians Constitute Crimes Against Humanity,” contained similar findings of abuses by opposition forces.

This is not about who is the worst human-rights abuser or murderer of civilians — Assad or ISIS or the various other groupings of the opposition — but rather about what a trusted organization such as Avaaz tells its members in getting them to sign a petition aimed at halting a humanitarian crisis that involves the killing and maiming of civilians. By its singular focus on Assad’s military and its supporters as the sole killers and abusers of the civilian population, Avaaz is not being straight with its members. It is holding back key information — information that just might make a potential signer think twice before opting for a military action that Avaaz is selling as a tactic that in its view would lessen a horrible humanitarian crisis.

Also absent in Avaaz’s pitch for no-fly zone signatures is any note to members that its stated humanitarian-inspired stance puts it in the company of the neocons, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and assorted congressional and think-tank war hawks who see a no-fly zone as part of a bigger military strategy to oust Assad from power. A no-fly zone, in the interventionists’ view, is a step toward this end, not an end in itself.

People like Anne-Marie Slaughter, a Clinton ally and president of the nonpartisan centrist think tank New America, who in an article last summer called — as she has before — for establishing a no-fly zone in Syria in order to save civilians’ lives. But that’s only the beginning. Slaughter, who was director of policy planning for the U.S. State Department for two years under Secretary Clinton, writes that the U.S. government had finally come to “the recognition that a new Syrian government is vital to defeat — or even contain — the Islamic State.”

While mentioning that civilians are also sometimes killed by rebel and Islamic State fighters, Slaughter posits that “Assad represents the greater threat, and thus will have to be removed from power before attention can be focused on defeating the Islamic State.” Hillary Clinton makes basically the same argument — and, like Slaughter, can’t really enlighten us as to what a successor Syrian government would look like.

Avaaz is thus allied with those for whom a no-fly zone is a euphemism for — a stalking horse for — regime change in Syria, regardless of the organization’s stated goal of protecting civilians and saving lives, and not of producing regime change.

But as Adam Johnson put it in an article for FAIR :

“… A no-fly zone would only be applied to Assad because anti-Assad forces don’t have an air force… While it may sound like a simple humanitarian stop gap — and that’s no doubt how it’s being sold — literally every no-fly zone in history has eventually led to regime change. Which is fair enough, but those pushing for one should at least be honest about what this means: the active removal of Assad by foreign forces. Indeed, if one recalls the NATO intervention in Libya was originally sold as a no-fly zone to prevent a potential genocide, but within a  matter of weeks, NATO leaders had pivoted to full-on regime change.”

Johnson also makes the important point — in reference to the devastating, poignant picture late last summer of the drowned Syrian Kurdish refugee, 3-year-old Alan Kurdi, whose body washed up on a Turkish beach — that this boy and his family were not fleeing the Assad government’s bombing of cities. Rather, they were “escaping ISIS and the U.S. bombing of his hometown of Kobani, far from anything the Assad government is doing. A no-fly zone would not have saved his hometown…”

Since Johnson wrote that, and since Avaaz’s dramatic New York Times ad last June, the Russians entered the air war on the side of Assad and in opposition to rebel forces and ISIS. Although Russia announced its withdrawal from military action in Syria in mid-March, it is keeping in place “its powerful S-400 air defense system… That would maintain Russian dominance of Syrian airspace…” This would mean that any U.S./NATO effort to impose a no-fly zone would surely meet with Russian and Syrian resistance.

So the questions for Avaaz and other advocates of a no-fly zone in Syria include: Are you thinking beyond a no-fly zone? If not, why not? Doesn’t it matter? What comes next or in conjunction with a no-fly zone? Ousting Assad? Replacing him with whom? How? Full-scale bombardments and drone strikes that somehow miraculously avoid killing masses of civilians, and that avoid triggering more killings by Assad’s forces? More special ops assassination missions? Those “boots on the ground” so beloved of armchair militarists everywhere?

What if Turkey and Saudi Arabia invade Syria, as they have threatened to do? What happens in the fight against ISIS if Assad is out of the picture? What does Russia do? Does some minuscule crew of supposed Syrian moderates that the U.S. has identified take power, and ISIS just pauses while the new government organizes itself (or rather is organized for it by the ever-helpful United States, United Kingdom and other enlightened western governments)? What happens to Assad’s military? How will a no-fly zone affect not only government violence, but also ISIS violence, or other opposition violence, against civilians? And on and on.

Shouldn’t the still unfolding Libya tragedy make an organization like Avaaz a little gun-shy (so to speak) in calling for the same kind of policy in the even more complicated, confusing case of Syria — what with the Syrian military, various countries, the anti-Assad rebel opposition groups, ISIS and al Qaeda and al Nusra and their spinoff groups, and Kurds, and Assad loyalists all slugging it out to the death?

In a Syrian war with atrocities on all sides, isn’t there something to be learned from the Libya experience in which Gaddafi’s crimes were exaggerated to inflame the western public against his regime? As Patrick Cockburn of The Independent in London reported in November 2014, human rights groups in Libya “discovered that there was no evidence for several highly publicized atrocities supposedly carried out by Gaddafi’s forces that were used to fuel popular support for the air war in the U.S., Britain, France and elsewhere.”

These included, Cockburn continued, “the story of the mass rape of women by Gaddafi’s troops that Amnesty International exposed as being without foundation. The uniformed bodies of government soldiers were described by rebel spokesmen as being men shot because they were about to defect to the opposition. Video film showed the soldiers still alive as rebel prisoners so it must have been the rebels who had executed them and put the blame on the government.”

And, wrote Cockburn, “The majority of Libyans are demonstrably worse off today than they were under Gaddafi, notwithstanding his personality cult and authoritarian rule. The slaughter is getting worse by the month and is engulfing the entire country.”

Writing more than a year later, The New York Times reported on February 29, 2016 that in the aftermath of the killing of Gaddafi and regime change in Libya, that country “dissolved into chaos, leading to a civil war that would destabilize the region, fueling the refugee crisis in Europe and allowing the Islamic State to establish a Libyan haven that the United States in now desperately trying to contain.”

Syria, of course, is not Libya. But there is a lesson there that “humanitarian interventionists” should learn.

When Members Pushed Back, Avaaz Defended Its Syria No-Fly Zone Advocacy

Although Avaaz has ignored most of our specific questions, it did last summer post on its website a “Syria No Fly Zone Questions & Answers” page in response to “thoughtful concerns” expressed by members that, according to Avaaz, boiled down to these main objections: “a) Avaaz is relying on unverified news reports and has the facts wrong. b) Avaaz is pushing for more war in the Middle East. c) Avaaz is serving the imperial interests of western powers, notably the U.S.” (As noted earlier, the Q&A page was deleted sometime last month, and when you click on the above link you get a blank Avaaz page as of this writing.)

To this, I would again add, among other things, Avaaz completely ignoring — or not even considering — the warnings of top U.S. generals and other experts expressed earlier in this article. These warnings are not even mentioned in Avaaz’s Q&A, nor is there any mention of Avaaz’s previous disastrous “humanitarian” call (along with interventionists from across the political spectrum) for a no-fly zone in Libya.

In response to the criticisms, the previously mentioned Avaaz campaign director and former State Department official John Tye emphasized that his organization was only trying to save lives and was not seeking more war in the Middle East or doing the bidding of U.S. or other imperial interests. Tye wrote that with “more than 210,000 killed. Over 10 million people driven from their homes. More than half the country’s hospitals damaged or destroyed. Millions of children out of school. This is the worst refugee crisis since World War II… the humanitarian disaster of our generation, and it continues to crush innumerable lives.”

Tye went on to note that Avaaz had tried everything short of recommending military action to alleviate the plight of Syria’s civilians. Wrote Tye:

“… We supported civilians and non-violent activists to document human rights abuses, and gave millions of dollars for food, medicine, and humanitarian supplies and to put refugee children in school. We campaigned to stop arms dealers from sending weapons to the country, called for sanctions, and then urged the U.N. to help stop the fighting. More than a million of us from across the world called on the U.S. and Iran to come together to help craft a negotiated solution, and then once again we backed UN-sponsored negotiations. This community has worked for nearly four years to stop the war and help the needy, but the crisis continues and is spreading.”

Tye wrote that having tried all these other forums and methods, “it is up to a community like ours to continue to look for legal ways to intervene to stop the carnage.” And this is where the no-fly zone comes in.

Rather than being “the deceitful ‘pre-emptive war’ doctrine advocated by neo-conservatives looking to remake and dominate the Middle East,” Tye — presumably drawing primarily on his State Department and other governmental contacts — wrote that the Avaaz call for a no-fly zone (NFZ) “is a very serious strategy made only after intensive consultation with diplomats, regional experts, and Syrians to save tens of thousands of civilians’ lives. [My emphasis.] After four years of brutal violence on all sides, the war in Syria will be extremely difficult to end. But a NFZ could help curb the violence and bring the warring parties into peace negotiations. Right now Assad has no incentive to negotiate peace. He believes he can continue exterminating his people until they submit. A NFZ will show Assad that the world will act to stop this carnage, and it will change Assad’s calculus.”

Additionally, Tye wrote, a no-fly zone “will also provide a safe place for the Syrians who have been driven into extremists’ territory as they are fleeing from the regime’s terror. Lastly it would reinforce the international military campaign against ISIS.” He added that an NFZ “that protects civilians in northern Syria could strengthen the conditions for a negotiated, political solution to the conflict.”

Tye continued that the most common criticism of Avaaz is that it claims as fact certain allegations of Syrian government forces’ atrocities that had not been confirmed when Avaaz published them — such as Avaaz alleging chlorine gas attacks from the air killing civilians, when it lacked corroboration for the allegation. While acknowledging that “it continues to be difficult to independently and unequivocally confirm details on the ground in Syria,” Tye said the Syrian military “have relied on non-chemical weapons dropped from aircraft to kill thousands upon thousands of civilians in northern Syria. Even if, contrary to current evidence, it somehow turns out that the Assad regime was not responsible for this recent chlorine attack, it is still the case that a no-fly zone in northern Syria would dramatically reduce civilian deaths.”

As to the criticism from some Avaaz members that the organization is pushing for more war in Syria, Tye responded: “The answer is an unqualified ‘no’. U.S. and allied aircraft are already patrolling airspace in northern Syria, as part of the U.S.-led anti-IS coalition, so a no-fly zone would not require significant new deployments. Bloodshed in Syria will continue with or without a no-fly zone, but a no-fly zone would dramatically decrease civilian casualties.”

Yes, Tye is saying, take it from us that this is exactly how a no-fly zone would work out. Ignore those pesky generals who say otherwise — and I do mean ignore them. Do not let their warnings enter the Avaaz dialogue.

Avaaz’s only acknowledgement of possible dangers comes in this one paragraph from Tye: “As with any military mission, a no-fly zone may endanger the pilots enforcing it, or Assad forces trying to break it.”

Tye continued: “Those possibilities are real, but we know what will continue to happen until there is a no-fly zone: weaponized chlorine bombs will fall on sleeping families; and near daily barrel bombing will continue over Aleppo. Thousands and thousands of people will die, for years to come, if we turn away and wring our hands…Prior efforts to put an end to this, through diplomacy and sanctions, have all failed. If nothing changes, another 100,000 could be killed” in 2015 alone.

Note again, there is no mention that a no-fly zone could — and in Syria, likely would — endanger not only U.S. and NATO pilots and Assad’s forces, but the very civilians Avaaz says it wants to protect.

Responding to comparisons to U.S. involvement in Iraq, Tye said: “A no-fly zone over Syria is not the same as the disastrous war in Iraq… This campaign for Syria is not invasion or regime change, it’s about protecting defenseless families.”

As for one of the other criticisms — that Avaaz is serving U.S. and western interests “to (re)shape and exercise imperial ambitions in the Middle East,” Tye responded: “The answer again is a very definitive ‘no’. Our community regularly campaigns against morally unjustifiable foreign engagement in the Middle East, whether it be Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestinian lands or the U.S. and E.U.’s rapprochement with a new tyrant in Egypt. We understand the tragic and often cynical legacy of foreign engagement in the Middle East and North Africa.”

Tye wrote that he understands that a no-fly zone “could conjure up images of George W. Bush’s foreign policy and illegal Western interventions. This is a different thing.” In Avaaz’s vision, a targeted no-fly zone can’t just be a U.S. undertaking. “It must be an international effort, with a clear objective: the protection of civilians. And the states like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates that have openly called for a no-fly zone, and the protection of civilian populations in Syria, must take the lead in providing resources to implement it. France’s Socialist government has also voiced strong support for a targeted no-fly zone. But, these governments won’t act without some support from the United States, which has the diplomatic and military resources to serve as coordinator for a limited period of time — until the safety of civilians is secured.”

Finally, Tye said, Avaaz is a member organization and as such was responding to tens of thousands of Syrian members who were calling for a no-fly zone. It should be noted that Avaaz shows 54,000 members in Syria in a population of 23 million — which means that even if every Avaaz member supported a no-fly zone, this would still mean that only one of every 426 Syrians had “voted” for one.

Nevertheless, Tye concluded, “The Avaaz community has repeatedly stood behind the principle that defenseless civilian populations should be protected — and these tens of thousands of Syrian Avaaz members deserve no less.”

It seems an odd notion that it is “Syrian Avaaz members” — rather than Avaaz staffers in New York promulgating petitions for a no-fly zone — who are somehow responsible for the direction of this campaign. Seriously?

In its call for no-fly zones in Libya and Syria, Avaaz has turned the concept of progressive advocacy on its head and appears to be untrue to the direction it has followed in the overwhelming majority of its campaigns. Advocacy organizations should be about stopping wars, not asking their members to buy into a dubious military tactic for Syria that even leading U.S. generals say “entails killing a lot of people… [and is] a violent combat action that results in lots of casualties” for those very Syrian civilians that Avaaz argues it is trying to protect.



John Hanrahan, currently on the editorial board of ExposeFacts, is a former executive director of The Fund for Investigative Journalism and reporter for  The Washington Post,  The Washington Star, UPI and other news organizations. He also has extensive experience as a legal investigator. Hanrahan is the author of  Government by Contract  and co-author of Lost Frontier: The Marketing of Alaska. He wrote extensively for NiemanWatchdog.org, a project of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University.

April 13, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | 1 Comment

Deconstructing the NATO Narrative on Syria

By Eva Bartlett | Dissident Voice | October 10, 2015

Over the past five years, the increasingly ridiculous propaganda against President al-Assad and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has ranged from the scripted (OTPOR fomented -“revolution“) “peaceful protesters under fire” rhetoric, to other deceitful lexicon like “civil war,” and “moderate rebels.”

As the intervention campaigns continue with new terrorist and “humanitarian” actors (literally) constantly emerging in the NATO-alliance’s theatre of death squads, it is worth reviewing some of the important points regarding the war on Syria.

Million Person Marches

On March 29, 2011 (less than two weeks into the fantasy “revolution”) over 6 million people across Syria took to the streets in support of President al-Assad. In June, a reported hundreds of thousands marched in Damascus in support of the president, with a 2.3 km long Syrian flag. In November, 2011 (9 months into the chaos), masses again held demonstrations supporting President al-Assad, notably in Homs (the so-called “capital of the ‘revolution’”), Dara’a (the so-called “birthplace of the ‘revolution’”), Deir ez-Zour, Raqqa, Latakia, and Damascus.

Mass demonstrations like this have occurred repeatedly since, including in March 2012, in May 2014 in the lead-up to Presidential elections, and in June 2015, to note just some of the larger rallies.

In May 2013, it was reported that even NATO recognized the Syrian president’s increased popularity. “The data, relayed to NATO over the last month, asserted that 70 percent of Syrians support” the Assad government. At present, the number is now at least 80 percent.

The most telling barometer of Assad’s support base was the Presidential elections in June 2014, which saw 74 percent (11.6 million) of 15.8 million registered Syrian voters vote, with President al-Assad winning 88 percent of the votes. The lengths Syrians outside of Syria went to in order to vote included flooding the Syrian embassy in Beirut for two full days (and walking several kilometres to get there) and flying from countries with closed Syrian embassies to Damascus airport simply to cast their votes. Within Syria, Syrians braved terrorist mortars and rockets designed to keep them from voting; 151 shells were fired on Damascus alone, killing 5 and maiming 33 Syrians.

For a more detailed look at his broad base of popular support, see Professor Tim Anderson’s “Why Syrians Support Bashar al Assad.”

The Reforms

Prior to the events of March 2011 Syrians did have legitimate desires for specific reforms, many of which were implemented from the beginning of the unrest. In fact, President al-Assad made reforms prior to and following March 17, 2011.

Stephen Gowans noted some of those early reforms, including:

  • Canceling the Emergency Law;
  • Amending the the constitution and putting it to a referendum [8.4 million Syrians voted; 7.5 million voted in favour of the constitution];
  • Scheduling, then holding, multi-party parliamentary and presidential elections

The constitution, according to Gowans, “mandated that the government maintain a role in guiding the economy on behalf of Syrian interests, and that the Syrian government would not make Syrians work for the interests of Western banks, oil companies, and other corporations.”

It also included:

  • “security against sickness, disability and old age; access to health care; free education at all levels”
  • a provision “requiring that at minimum half the members of the People’s Assembly are to be drawn from the ranks of peasants and workers.”

Political commentator Jay Tharappel further articulated:

The new constitution introduced a multi-party political system in the sense that the eligibility of political parties to participate isn’t based on the discretionary permission of the Baath party or on reservations, rather on a constitutional criteria… the new constitution forbids political parties that are based on religion, sect or ethnicity, or which are inherently discriminatory towards one’s gender or race. (2012: Art.8)

No surprise that NATO’s exile-Syrian pawns refused the reforms and a constitution which ensures a sovereign Syria secure from the claws of multi-national corporations and Western banks.

In his article, “Decriminalising Bashar – towards a more effective anti-war movement,” writer Carlos Martinez outlined Syria’s positives, including its anti-imperialist, socialist policies; its secularism and multiculturalism; and—poignantly—its continued support for Palestinians and anti-Zionist stance.

These are all points that contradict the lies spewed over the past nearly five years, and shatter the feeble justification for continuing to wage war on Syria.

Twisting the Numbers to Serve the War Agenda

The number and nature of Syrians killed varies depending on which list one consults. Many talking heads draw from one sole source, UK-based Syrian Rami Abdulrahman of the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) (run out of his home and based on information provided largely by unnamed “activists”). Abdulrahman hasn’t been to Syria for 15 years, and, as Tony Cartalucci noted, is “a member of the so-called ‘Syrian opposition’ and seeks the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.” Further, Cartalucci explained, “Abdul Rahman’s operation is indeed funded by the European Union and a “European country” he refuses to identify.” So not an impartial source.

In her February 2012 “Questioning the Syrian Casualty List,” political analyst Sharmine Narwani laid out the logistical difficulties of collating the number of deaths, including:

  • Different casualty lists and difficulty confirming accuracy of any of them.
  • Lack of information on: how deaths were verified and by whom and from what motivation.
  • Lack of information on the dead: civilian, pro or anti government civilians; armed groups; Syrian security forces?”

She found that one early casualty list included 29 Palestinian refugees “killed by Israeli fire on the Golan Heights on 15 May 2011 and 5 June 2011 when protesters congregated on Syria’s armistice line with Israel.”

Jay Tharappel looked at two of the other prime groups cited regarding casualties in Syria: the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR) and the Violations Documentation Center (VDC).

He noted that neither of the groups “are ‘independent’ in the sense that they function merely to provide facts, they’re all open about their agenda to overthrow the Syrian government…and for the imposition of a no-fly zone on behalf of the ‘moderate rebels’, whoever they are.”

Further, according to Tharappel, “the SNHR doesn’t provide any evidence to substantiate its assertions about the numbers killed by government forces. They claim to have ‘documented [victims] by full name, place, and date of death,’ however none of these can be found on their website.”

Regarding the VDC, he wrote, “there are good reasons to believe the VDC is listing dead insurgents as civilians, as well as mislabeling dead government soldiers as FSA fighters.”

One example he cited was the listing of a Jaysh al-Islam militant, ‘Hisham Al-Sheikh Bakri’, killed by the SAA in Douma (infested with Jaysh al-Islam terrorists), in February 2015, which al-Masdar News reported. The VDC also listed ‘Hisham Abd al-Aziz al-Shaikh Bakri’, “however this one is listed as an adult male civilian and not a Jaish Al-Islam fighter,” Tharappel wrote.

Even embedded war reporter Nir Rosen, Tharappel recalled, in 2012 wrote:

Every day the opposition gives a death toll, usually without any explanation of the cause of the deaths. Many of those reported killed are in fact dead opposition fighters, but the cause of their death is hidden and they are described in reports as innocent civilians killed by security forces, as if they were all merely protesting or sitting in their homes.

It would be an understatement to say there are considerable, and intentional, inaccuracies in the lists of these groups. In fact, most of the aforementioned groups fail to note what commentators like Paul Larudee did:

The UN estimates 220,000 deaths thus far in the Syrian war. But almost half are Syrian army soldiers or allied local militia fighters, and two thirds are combatants if we count opposition fighters. Either way, the ratio of civilian to military casualties is roughly 1:2, given that the opposition is also inflicting civilian casualties. Compare that to the roughly 3:1 ratio in the US war in Iraq and 4:1 in the Israeli attack on Gaza in 2008-9. (The rate of Palestinian to Israeli casualties was an astronomical 100:1.)

“Leftists” Keeping the Myths Alive

Public figures like Owen Jones, and pro-Palestinian sites like the Middle East Eye and the Electronic Intifada, have a following for their more palatable (and safe) solidarity stance on Palestine, but routinely spew rhetoric against Syria, which is then echoed by their well-intentioned, if very misinformed, followers.

Much of grassroots “Leftists”’ anti-Syria propaganda is as poisonous as corporate media. Routinely, at ostensibly anti-war/anti-Imperialist gatherings, the anti-Syria narrative is predominant.

For example, at the March 2015 World Social Forum in Tunis, some Syria-specific panels spun the fairy tale of “revolutionaries” in Syria, one panel alleging: “The protests in Syria were peaceful for almost six or seven months; 6-7000 unarmed people were killed; only then did ‘rebels’ eventually take up arms.”

Yet, it is known that from the beginning, in Dara’a  and throughout Syria, armed protesters were firing upon, and butchering, security forces and civilians. Tim Anderson’s “Syria: how the violence began, in Daraa” pointed out that police were killed by snipers in the March 17/18 protests; the Syrian army was only brought to Dara’a following the murder of the policemen. Additionally, a storage of protesters’ weapons was found in Dara’a’s al-Omari mosque.

Prem Shankar Jha’s, “Who Fired The First Shot?” described the slaughter of 20 Syrian soldiers outside Dara’a a month later, “by cutting their throats, and cutting off the head of one of the soldiers.” A very “moderate”-rebel practice.

In “Syria: The Hidden Massacre” Sharmine Narwani investigated the early massacres of Syrian soldiers, noting that many of the murders occurred even after the Syrian government had abolished the state security courts, lifted the state of emergency, granted general amnesties, and recognized the right to peaceful protest.

The April 10, 2011 murder of Banyas farmer Nidal Janoud was one of the first horrific murders of Syrian civilians by so-called “unarmed protesters.” Face gashed open, mutilated and bleeding, Janoud was paraded by an armed mob, who then hacked him to death.

Father Frans Van der Ludt—the Dutch priest living in Syria for nearly 5 decades prior to his April 7, 2014 assassination by militants occupying the old city of Homs—wrote (repeatedly) of the “armed demonstrators” he saw in early protests, “who began to shoot at the police first.”

May 2011 video footage of later-resigned Al Jazeera journalist Ali Hashem shows fighters entering Syria from Lebanon, carrying guns and RPGs (Hashem stated he’d likewise seen fighters entering in April). Al Jazeera refused to air the May footage, telling Hashem to ‘forget there are armed men.’ [See: Sharmine Narwani’s “Surprise Video Changes Syria “Timeline””] Unarmed protesters?

The Sectarian Card: Slogans and Massacres

What sectarianism we see in Syria today was delivered primarily by the Wahabi and Muslim Brotherhood (MB) regimes of Saudi Arabia and Qatar and by Turkey, with NATO’s blessing and backing. The cross-sect make-up of both the Syrian State and the Syrian army alone speaks of Syria’s intentional secularism, as well as the prevalent refusal of average Syrians to self-identify along sectarian lines.

On the other hand, from the beginning, the West’s “nonviolent protesters” were chanting sectarian slogans, notably, “Christians to Beirut, Alawis to the grave.” Other popular chants included: calling for the extermination of all Alawis; pledging allegiance to Saudi-based extremist Syrian Sheikh Adnan Arour and to extremist MB supporting Egyptian Sheikh, Yusuf al-Qardawi.

Qatar-based Qaradawi advocates killing Syrian civilians: “It is OK to kill one third of the Syrian population if it leads to the toppling of the heretical regime.” The inflammatory Arour said about Syria’s Alawis: “By Allah we shall mince them in meat grinders and feed their flesh to the dogs.”

The NATO alliance’s terrorists have committed numerous massacres of Syrian civilians and soldiers, many of which were intended to sow sectarianism, including:

  • The June 2011 Jisr al Shugour, Idlib, massacre of up to 120 people (soldiers and civilians) by between 500-600 so-called FSA terrorists; blamed on the SAA as having killed “military deserters”. [see Prem Shankar Jha’s  article “Syria – Who fired the first shot?”]
  • The Houla massacre of over 100 civilians on May 25, 2012, which only 2 days later the UN claimed—without an investigation— had been committed by the Syrian Army. [See Tim Anderson’s detailed rebuttal, “The Houla Massacre Revisited: “Official Truth” in the Dirty War on Syria” In the same article, Anderson also looked at the August 2012 Daraya massacre of 245 people and the December 2012 Aqrab massacre of up to 150 villagers.
  • The August 2013 massacre of at least 220 civilians (including a fetus, many children, women, elderly) and kidnapping of at least 100 (mostly women and children) in villages in the Latakia countryside.
  • The December 2013 massacre of at least 80 residents (many “slaughtered like sheep”, decapitated, burned in bakery ovens) in Adra industrial village.
  • The continued terrorist-mortaring of civilian areas and schools; the repeated terrorist-car-bombing of civilian areas and schools. [see: “The Terrorism We Support in Syria: A First-hand Account of the Use of Mortars against Civilians”]

Yet, in spite of outside forces attempts to sow sectarianism in Syria, the vast majority of Syrian people refuse it. Re-visiting Syria in July 2015, Professor Tim Anderson recounted that Latakia alone “has grown from 1.3 million to around 3 million people – they come from all parts, not just Aleppo, also Hama, Deir eZorr, and other areas.” He also visited Sweida, a mainly Druze region, which has accommodated “135,000 families, mainly from Daraa – others from other parts”. Mainly Sunni families.

The Syrian “Civil War”?!

Given that:

  • At least 80,000 terrorists from over 80 countries are fighting as mercenaries in Syria;
  • Israel has repeatedly bombed Syria [examples here, here and here];
  • Israel is treating al-Qaeda terrorists in their hospitals and enabling their transit back and forth into Syria, as well as arming them—even Israeli media have reported that Israel is providing aid to al-Qaeda terrorists; even the UN has reported on Israeli soldiers interacting with Jebhat al-Nusra in the occupied Syrian Golan;
  • Turkey is not only arming and funneling terrorists into Syria but also repeatedly co-attacks Syria;
  • the whole crisis was manufactured in imperialist think tanks years before the 2011 events;

…“Civil war” is the absolute last term that could be used to describe the war on Syria.

In 2002, then-Under Secretary of State John Bolton added Syria (and Libya, Cuba) to the “rogue states” of George W Bush’s “Axis of Evil,”…meaning Syria was on the list of countries to “bring democracy to” (aka destroy) even back then.

Anthony Cartalucci’s “US Planned Syrian Civilian Catastrophe Since 2007” laid out a number of pivotal statements and events regarding not only the war on Syria but also the events which would be falsely-dubbed the “Arab Spring.” Points include:

  • General Wesley Clark’s revelation of US plans to destroy the governments of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran.
  • Seymour Hersh’s 2007 “The Redirection” on NATO and allies’ arming and training of sectarian extremists to create sectarian divide in Lebanon, Syria and beyond.

The 2009 Brookings Institution report, “Which Path to Persia?”, on plans to weaken Syria and Lebanon, to later attack Iran.

Further, Stephen Gowans reported:

  • U.S. funding to the Syrian opposition began flowing under the Bush administration in 2005.
  • Since its founding in October 2011, the Syrian National Council has received $20.4 million from Libya, $15 million from Qatar, $5 million from the UAE.

Former French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Roland Dumas, in a June 2013 TV interview spoke of his meeting (two years prior) with British officials who confessed that:

Britain was organizing an invasion of rebels into Syria. This operation goes way back. It was prepared, preconceived and planned.

More recent evidence of the NATO-alliance plot against Syria includes a June 2012 NY Times article noting the CIA support for “rebels” in Syria, including providing and funneling “automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons” from Turkey to Syria. The article said:

A small number of C.I.A. officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government, according to American officials and Arab intelligence officers.

In October 2014, Serena Shim, a US journalist working for Press TV, was killed in a highly suspicious car crash near Turkey’s border with Syria shortly after reporting she had been threatened by Turkish intelligence. Shim had previously reported she had photos of “militants going in through the Turkish border… I’ve got images of them in World Food Organization trucks.”

Similar statements have been made. For example, testimony of a Turkish driver explaining “how vehicles would be accompanied by MİT agents during the trip, which would start from the Atme camp in Syria and end at the border town of Akçakale in Şanlıurfa Province, where the militants and cargo would reenter Syria.”

In July, 2015, Press TV reported that terrorists caught in Aleppo confessed to receiving training by US and Gulf personnel in Turkey.

As I wrote, “in a November 2014 report, the Secretary-General mentioned the presence of al-Nusra and other terrorists in the ceasefire area ‘unloading weapons from a truck,’ as well as a ‘vehicle with a mounted anti-aircraft gun’ and Israeli ‘interactions’ with ‘armed gangs.’”

Given all of this, and America’s plan to train up to 15,000 more “rebels” over the next three years, it is beyond ridiculous that the inappropriate term “civil war” continues to be propagated.

DA’ESH and Other Moderates

In June, 2015, Anthony Cartalucci wrote about a recently-released 2012 Department of Defense document which admitted that the US foresaw ISIS’ establishing a “Salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want….”

He outlined the flow of weapons and terrorists from Libya to Syria, via Turkey, “coordinated by US State Department officials and intelligence agencies in Benghazi – a terrorist hotbed for decades,” as well as weapons from Eastern Europe.

Earlier “moderates” include the Farouq Brigades‘ (of the so-called “FSA”) organ-eating terrorist “Abu Sakkar,” and those numerous “FSA” and al-Nusra militants who committed the massacres listed above, to name but a portion.

“Human Rights” Front Groups Promoting War Rhetoric

Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Avaaz, Moveon, and lesser-known, newly-created groups like The Syria Campaign, The White Helmets, and Action Group for Palestinians in Syria, are complicit in war-propagandizing and even calling for a (Libya 2.0) no-fly-zone bombing campaign of Syria.

On HRW, geopolitical analyst Eric Draitser noted:

Human Rights Watch is undeniably an appendage of US foreign policy. It is in many ways part of the ‘soft power’ arm of US power projection, a means of delegitimizing, demonizing, and otherwise destabilizing countries that do not play ball with the US…

Vigilant Twitter users have called out HRW’s lying Ken Roth for tweeting a photo he claimed to be Aleppo’s destruction from “barrel bombs” but which was, in fact, Ayn al-Arab (Kobani) post-Da’esh attacks and US-coalition bombs. In another outrageous case, Roth tweeted a video of the flattened al-Shuja’iyya neighborhood of Gaza, devastated by Israeli bombing in 2014, purporting it to be Aleppo.

Again, he was called out, forcing a weak retraction. Post-retraction, he tweeted yet another image of destruction, again claiming it to be from “Assad’s barrel bombs” but which was according to the photo byline Hamidiyeh, Aleppo, where “local popular committee fighters, who support the Syrian government forces, try to defend the traditionally Christian district” against ISIS.

On Amnesty International, Anthony Cartalucci wrote:

Amnesty does take money from both governments and corporate-financier interests, one of the most notorious of which, Open Society, is headed by convicted financial criminal George Soros (whose Open Society also funds Human Rights Watch and a myriad of other “human rights” advocates). Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, for instance, was drawn directly from the US State Department…

Highlighting just one instance of AI’s slick maneuvering, Rick Sterling, in his May 2015 “Eight Problems with Amnesty’s Report on Aleppo Syria” outed Amnesty for not only normalizing sending weapons to terrorists in Syria but suggesting how to do so in an underhand means. He emphasized:

This is an amazing statement, effectively sanctioning the supplying of arms to insurgents who agree to follow ‘humanitarian’ rules of war.

Sterling further noted that Amnesty:

  • relied on groups “either based in, or receiving funds from, Turkey, USA or one of the other countries heavily involved in seeking overthrow of the Damascus government.
  • did not seek testimonies from the “two-thirds of the displaced persons in Syria INSIDE Syria…people who fled Aleppo and are now living in Homs, Latakia, Damascus or in Aleppo under government control.”

In “Humanitarians for War on Syria” Sterling elaborated on the intervention campaign:

The goal is to prepare the public for a “No Fly Zone” enforced by US and other military powers. This is how the invasion of Iraq began. This is how the public was prepared for the US/NATO air attack on Libya.

The results of western ‘regime change’ in Iraq and Libya have been disastrous. … Avaaz is ramping up its campaign trying to reach 1 million people signing a petition for a “Safe Zone” in Syria.

Sterling wrote on the  “White Helmets”, “created by the UK and USA in 2013. Civilians from rebel controlled territory were paid to go to Turkey to receive some training in rescue operations. The program was managed by James Le Mesurier, a former British soldier and private contractor…” He noted the ties between WH and anti-Syria actors, including Jabat al-Nusra. One example of their propaganda: “Video of the recent alleged chlorine gas attacks starts with the White Helmet logo and continues with the logo of Nusra. In reality, White Helmets is a small rescue team for Nusra/Al Queda (sic).”

Vanessa Beeley’s “‘White Helmets’: New Breed of Mercenaries and Propagandists, Disguised as ‘Humanitarians’ in Syria” further flushed out the propaganda elements of the WH operation and their parroting of the MSM/HR industry anti-Syrian rhetoric.

The list of “humanitarian” actors is long, and the list of their war-propagating lies even longer. [see: “Human Rights” front groups (“Humanitarian Interventionalists”) warring on Syria]

The Yarmouk Card

A district of Damascus formerly housing over one million residents, of whom 160,000 were Palestinian refugees, according to the UN, the rest Syrians, the plight of Yarmouk neighbourhood has been used by “humanitarian” campaigners to pull at heartstrings and to further confuse supporters of Palestine on the subject of Syria and the State’s treatment of Palestinians. In fact, Syria has been one of Palestine’s greatest advocates and friends, providing Palestinian refugees in Syria with a quality of life equal to that of Syrians, including free education, health care and other social services. The same cannot even remotely be said of any of Palestine’s neighbouring countries, where Palestinian refugees languish in abysmal refugee camps and are denied the right to professional employment, and affordable and quality health care and education, much less dignity.

The United Nations, the HR industry, and the media obfuscate on Yarmouk, ignoring or whitewashing both the presence of various terrorist groups and the role of some Palestinian factions in enabling these groups entry, as well as fighting alongside them against the Syrian government. Talking heads also pointedly ignore the Syrian government-facilitated evacuations of Yarmouk residents to government, community, and UN provided shelters. They likewise ignore the documented repeated and continuous terrorists attacks on government and other aid distribution within the neighbourhood, as well as on anti-terrorist demonstrations held by Yarmouk residents.

One such demonstration occurred in May 2013, with UK-media Sky News’ Tim Marshall present as demonstrators came under so-called “rebel” fire. He reported:

… Some screamed at us: “Please tell the world the truth! We don’t want the fighters here, we want the army to kill them!”… About 1,000 people were in the demonstration. …The shooting began almost immediately. A man went down, followed by others. …As they passed us a man stopped and shouted that he was sure the fighters were not Syrians but men paid to come to Damascus and kill people…

In his April 2015 “Who Are the Starving and Besieged Residents of Yarmouk and Why Are They There?” Paul Larudee asked:

Who are the remaining civilians and why are they refusing to evacuate to outside shelter like so many others? Local humanitarian relief supervisors report (personal communication) that some of them are not from Yarmouk and some are not Palestinian. They include the families of Syrian and foreign fighters that are trying to overthrow the Syrian government by force of arms, and some of them came from districts adjacent to Yarmouk, such as the Daesh stronghold of Hajar al-Aswad.

Larudee’s article further addressed the issues of:

  • the Syrian government allowing food aid into the district: “…it has allowed the stockpiling of supplies on the edge of the camp and it has permitted civilians from inside to collect and distribute the aid….”
  • the Syrian military’s siege tactic (combined with evacuation of civilians): “The objective is to remove the civilians from the area as much as possible and then attack the enemy or provoke surrender…”

Analyst Sharmine Narwani observed:

The Syrian government has every right to blockade the border areas between Yarmouk and Damascus to prevent extremist gunmen from entering the capital. I have been in Yarmouk several times, including last year, and have talked to aid workers inside the camp, including UNRWA. The Syrian government, in their view, assists in getting aid and food to refugee populations inside the camp – contrary to western narratives and those activists like the EI activists… most of whom appear not to have set foot inside Yarmouk since the early days of the conflict.

Although the figure of 18,000 remaining Palestinians in Yarmouk may have been accurate in October 2013, today, after the evacuation of thousands, anti-Syria publications continue to cite 18,000. Journalist Lizzie Phelan, who visited Yarmouk in September 2015, says the number remaining is around 4,000.

Most media and HR groups are not reporting that there are Palestinian fighters fighting alongside the SAA, in Yarmouk and other parts of Syria, against the NATO-alliance’s fighters. Al Masdar News reported in June 2015:

…ISIS originally launched a successful offensive at the Yarmouk Camp District in the month of March; however, after a joint counter-assault by the PFLP-GC, Fatah Al-Intifada, the Palestine Liberation Army (PLA), and members of Aknef Al-Maqdis; ISIS was forced to withdrawal to the southern sector of the district, leaving only the southern axis under their control.

Sharmine Narwani’s “Stealing Palestine: Who dragged Palestinians into Syria’s conflict?” is essential reading, to understand the current situation in Syria vis-a-vis its Palestinian refugees. As for Palestinians themselves, the Syria Solidarity Movement published a statement which emphasized that “more than 1101 Palestinian groups and individuals declare their solidarity with the Syrian people and the Syrian state.” Signatories include Jerusalem’s Archbishop Atallah Hanna, the Palestinian Popular Forum, Yarmouk, and other Palestinian Yarmouk residents.

Serial Chemical Offenders Remain at Large

Israel has on more than one occasion used prohibited chemical and other weapons on the locked-down nearly 2 million Palestinians of Gaza. During the 2008/2009 Israeli massacre of Gaza, the Israeli army rained white phosphorous on schools sheltering displaced Palestinian families, on homes, and on hospitals (of which I gathered video, photo and witness evidence at the time). Israel also used DIME on the Palestinians of Gaza. Yet, Israel remains unpunished, and receives ever increasing billions of dollars and new weaponry every year. Nor has the US ever been held accountable for its widespread criminal use of CW, such as on the people of Vietnam, of Iraq.

The US and HR actors have repeatedly—and without evidence—accused Syria of using Sarin gas, then Chlorine, accusations which have been amply refuted. Seymour Hersh’s probe on the sarin attacks was so damning US mainstream media wouldn’t print it.

In rebuttal to the May 2015 accusation of chlorine attacks — as always followed with human rights groups’ calls for a No-Fly Zone —Stephen Gowans wrote:

As a weapon, chlorine gas is exceedingly ineffective. It is lethal only in highly concentrated doses and where medical treatment is not immediately available. It is far less effective than conventional weapons. Why, then, would the Syrian army use a highly ineffective weapon, which is deplored by world public opinion, and whose use would provide the United States a pretext to directly intervene militarily in Syria, when it has far more effective conventional weapons, which are not deplored by world public opinion, and whose use does not deliver a pretext to Washington to intervene? (See also Gowans’ “New York Times Complicit in Spreading False Syria Allegations”)

Tim Anderson investigated the August 2013 Ghouta attacks, pointing out:

  • UN investigator Carla del Ponte had testimony from victims that ‘rebels’ had used sarin gas in a prior attack
  • Turkish security forces sarin in the homes of Jabhat al Nusra fighters.
  • Evidence of video manipulation in the Ghouta attacks.
  • “Parents identified children in photos as those kidnapped in Latakia, two weeks earlier.”
  • “CW had been supplied by Saudis to ‘rebel’ groups, some locals had died due to mishandling.”
  • “Three of five CW attacks were ‘against soldiers’ or ‘against soldiers and civilians’.”

The Interventionalists have tried repeatedly to accuse the Syrian government of CWs usage; yet the real criminals remain at large.

Against Incitement, For Peace

Syria’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Dr. Bashar al-Ja’afari, in May, 2015, said that spreading incitement and lies on Syria is a blatant violation of UN Security Council (UNSC) Resolution No. 1624 for 2005 and of journalism ethics if any, SANA reported.

Syrian media, which attempts to report the reality of Syria under attack, has been repeatedly targeted, something the MSM refuses to acknowledge (See: Media Black-Out on Arab Journalists and Civilians Beheaded in Syria by Western-Backed Mercenaries).

As the NATO-alliance pushes for a “safe zone”…meaning a “no-fly zone” for the purpose of bombing Syria, anti-war activists and journalists must denounce the lies of anti-Syria governments and “human rights” groups, and must share the truth of Syria’s war against terrorism.

Since drafting this lengthy Syria-101 overview, there have been major shifts in Syria’s war against foreign-backed terrorism, namely Russia’s recent airstrikes against Da’esh and co. This increase in Russian support for Syria—with Russian planes destroying more Da’esh and other western-backed terrorists and their training camps in just a few days than the US coalition has over the past year—is a turning point in the war on Syria. Predictably, corporate media are pulling all the stops to demonize Russia‘s involvement, although Russia was invited by the Syrian government to do precisely what it is doing.

Those following Syria closely have echoed what Syrian leadership has said for years and continues to say: the way to stop ISIS and all its brethren terrorist factions, and to bring security to the region, is to cease arming, financing, training and funneling terrorists and weapons into Syria, silence the sectarian indoctrination coming from Gulf extremist sheikhs, and support the Syrian army and allies in their fight for security and stability in Syria.

Eva Bartlett is a Canadian freelance journalist and activist who has lived in and written from the Gaza Strip, Syria, and Lebanon. Visit Eva’s website.

October 11, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Human Rights” front groups warring on Syria

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By Eva Bartlett | September 12, 2015

Avaaz: “Avaaz is an online lobby organization founded in 2007 by Jeremy Heimans (now CEO of Purpose) and others. Start-up funding was provided by George Soros’ foundation. … they have been prominent in promoting neoliberal foreign policies in keeping with the U.S. State Department. … Avaaz very actively promoted a No Fly Zone in Libya. They are now very actively promoting the same for Syria. In-depth research and exposure of Avaaz can be found here. The titles give some indication: “Faking It: Charity Communications in the Firing Line”, “Syria: Avaaz, Purpose & the Art of Selling Hate for Empire”, “Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps for Militarism”. Avaaz justifies its call for No Fly Zone in part on White Helmets. Given the close interconnections between Avaaz and Purpose, they are surely aware that White Helmets is a media creation. This calls into question their sincerity.” [citation from: Seven Steps of Highly Effective Manipulators White Helmets, Avaaz, Nicholas Kristof and Syria No Fly Zone]

“Avaaz is the operational name of “Global Engagement and Organizing Fund,” a non-profit organization legally incorporated in 2006. Avaaz was founded by Res Publica, described as a global civic advocacy group, and Moveon.org, “an online community that has pioneered internet advocacy in the United States.”… The silent voice behind Avaaz, that of Res Publica, is, in the public realm, essentially comprised of 3 key individuals: Tom Perriello, a pro-war (former) U.S. Representative who describes himself as a social entrepreneur, Ricken Patel, consultant to many of the most powerful entities on Earth and the long-time associate of Perriello, and Tom Pravda, a member of the UK Diplomatic Service who serves as a consultant to the U.S. State Department…. In addition to receiving funding from the Open Society Institute, Avaaz has publicly cited the Open Society Institute as their foundation partner. This admission by founder Ricken Patel is found on the www.soros.org website. The Open Society Institute (renamed in 2011 to Open Society Foundations) is a private operating and grantmaking foundation founded by George Soros, who remains the chair. … Avaaz’s stance on both Libya (now annihilated) and now Syria is in smooth synchronicity with the positions within the U.S. administration, positions such as those vocalized by the likes of war criminals such as Hillary Clinton (of “We came. We saw. He died. Laughter…” fame). The ugly iron fist of war is gently being spoon-fed to the public by way of a very dark velvet glove – that being Avaaz.” [citation from: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section I]

Amnesty International: “Amnesty does take money from both governments and corporate-financier interests, one of the most notorious of which, Open Society, is headed by convicted financial criminal George Soros (whose Open Society also funds Human Rights Watch and a myriad of other “human rights” advocates). Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA, for instance was drawn directly from the US State Department … Amnesty International’s website specifically mentions Nossel’s role behind US State Department-backed UN resolutions regarding Iran, Syria, Libya, and Cote d’Ivoire… Nossel’s “contributions” then are simply to dress up naked military aggression and the pursuit of global corporate-financier hegemony with the pretense of “human rights” advocacy.” [citation from: Amnesty International is US State Department Propaganda]

Hand in Hand for Syria: “The UK Charity Commission’s website states that Hand in Hand for Syria exists for “the advancement of health or saving lives”.  Until July 2014 the Facebook banner of Hand in Hand’s co-founder and chairman Faddy Sahloul read “WE WILL BRING ASSAD TO JUSTICE; NO MATTER WHAT LIVES IT TAKES, NO MATTER HOW MUCH CATASTROPHE IT MAKES”.  The image was removed shortly after it was commented on publicly. Also on Hand in Hand’s executive team is Dr Rola Hallam, one of the two medics featured in ‘Saving Syria’s Children’.  …On 30 August 2013, the day after the BBC’s initial report on the alleged Aleppo incendiary bomb attack, Dr Hallam appeared on BBC’s Newsnight programme expressing her profound disappointment at parliament’s rejection of a military strike against Syria. Dr Hallam’s father is Dr. Mousa al-Kurdi.  According to a 2013 article by Dr Saleyha Ahsan – the other Hand in Hand for Syria volunteer medic featured in ‘Saving Syria’s Children’ [3] – Dr al-Kurdi is “involved politically with the Syrian National Council”.” [citation from: UK Charity Which Shares Syrian Opposition “Aims and Objectives” Benefits from Alan Kurdi Tragedy]

Human Rights Watch: “Human Rights Watch (HRW) is an integral part of the West’s propaganda machine. HRW shapes the narratives of conflicts, narratives which become solidified through repetition, and which eventually become regarded as undeniable facts. Moreover, the language HRW employs, far from being simply stylistic choices, is deliberately utilized to obscure the reality of war zones in the service of the Empire. This is undoubtedly the case with the Israel/Palestine conflict where Israeli actions are never outright war crimes, while Palestinian ones are. It is equally true of Ukraine. This is also the case in Libya, Syria, and Venezuela, countries where HRW has played a critical role in constructing narratives in the interests of its financier and corporate paymasters, not to mention of course the US foreign policy agenda. In both Libya and Syria, HRW has played a critical role in propagandizing the western public against the governments of those countries, thereby justifying the imperialist assault on them. More than simply “collecting the facts,” HRW cobbled together a completely distorted, and in many cases utterly dishonest and factually wrong, narrative which has buttressed the case for “intervention” in Syria, as it did in Libya…. Human Rights Watch is undeniably an appendage of US foreign policy. It is in many ways part of the “soft power” arm of US power projection, a means of delegitimizing, demonizing, and otherwise destabilizing countries that do not play ball with the US.[citation from: HRW: Human Rights Watch or Hypocrites Representing Washington (Part 2)]

Ken Roth: “Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch, has been vocal in his support for a full scale war on Syria in the name of humanitarianism. Roth has repeatedly called for intervention against the legal government of Syria, having recently tweeted statements such as “Like Sarajevo, could Douma market slaughter finally force Assad to stop targeting civilians?” (@KenRoth, Aug 16). The implication of the statement is quite clear: there should be military intervention, such as the US-NATO war on Yugoslavia and later Serbia, in order to stop the “slaughter” of civilians. It should be noted that this tweet was posted within hours of the news of the incident in Douma long before any investigation. Roth, and by extension his organization Human Rights Watch, further discredits whatever vestiges of impartiality he and HRW might have had with inane tweets such as “Douma market killings show how Assad chooses to fight this war: deliberately against civilians,” (@KenRoth, Aug 16), an obviously biased, and utterly unsubstantiated allegation. Roth could have absolutely no knowledge of either the identities of the dead, or the Syrian government’s motives, when he released the tweet the same day as the attack. He reveals himself here to be little more than a lackey for imperialism, a war hawk masquerading as a human rights defender.” [citation from: The Douma Market Attack: a Fabricated Pretext for Intervention?]

“Last week we found that Human Rights Watch director Kenneth Roth used an image of destruction in Gaza caused by Israel to accuse the Syrian government of indiscriminate use of “barrel bombs”. We wrote: “This is thereby at least the third time HRW is using a wrongly attributed pictures to depict current enemies of U.S. imperialism as having causing the damage the U.S. empire and/or its friends have caused. That is not mere bias by HRW. It is willful fraud.”[citation from: HRW’s Kenneth Roth Continues Unfounded Accusations With Another False Picture]

Medecins Sans Frontiers/Doctors Without Borders: “Doctors Without Borders is fully funded by the very same corporate financier interests behind Wall Street and London’s collective foreign policy, including regime change in Syria and neighboring Iran. Doctors Without Borders’ own annual report (2010 report can be accessed here), includes as financial donors, Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, Google, Microsoft, Bloomberg, Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital, and a myriad of other corporate-financier interests. Doctors Without Borders also features bankers upon its Board of Advisers including Elizabeth Beshel Robinson of Goldman Sachs. Complicating further Doctors Without Borders so-called “independent” and “aid” claims is the fact that their medical facilities are set up in terrorist held regions of Syria, especially along Syria’s northern border with NATO-member Turkey. In an interview with NPR, Doctors Without Borders’ Stephen Cornish revealed the nature of his organization’s involvement in the Syrian conflict, where he explains that aid is being sent to regions outside of the Syrian government’s control, and that his organization is in fact setting up facilities in these areas…. In other words, the Wall Street-funded organization is providing support for militants armed and funded by the West and its regional allies, most of whom are revealed to be foreign fighters, affiliated with or directly belonging to Al Qaeda and its defacto political wing, the Muslim Brotherhood. This so-called “international aid” organization is in actuality yet another cog in the covert military machine being turned against Syria and serves the role as a medical battalion.” [citation from: “Doctors” Behind Syrian Chemical Weapons Claims are Aiding Terrorists]

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR): “They make bold but sometimes inaccurate assertions….A recent PHR press release is headlined “New Map shows Government Forces Deliberately Attacking Syria’s Medical System.” It looks slick and impressive but is inaccurate. For example, one of the most dramatic attacks on a Syrian hospital was the suicide bombing of Al Kindi Hospital in Aleppo. Yet the PHR map shows the attack having been carried out by “government forces.” Readers are encouraged to look at the 3 minute rebel video of the suicide attack which leaves no doubt who was responsible.” [citation from: About Those Chlorine Gas Attacks in Syria]

PURPOSE Inc.: “This is an international PR firm. CEO is Jeremy Heimans, a co-founder of Avaaz. President is Kevin Steinberg, previous CEO of World Economic Forum USA (antithesis of World Social Forum). Their website describes their goal: “Purpose builds and accelerates movements to tackle the world’s biggest problems.” In this case the “problem” is reluctance to take over Syrian skies and land. For a hefty fee, “Purpose” will dupe the public and break down that reluctance. Toward that end,  Purpose created “The Syria Campaign”.” [citation from: Seven Steps of Highly Effective Manipulators White Helmets, Avaaz, Nicholas Kristof and Syria No Fly Zone]

Purpose Inc. (with its co-founders) is a favourite of high-finance websites such as The Economist and Forbes and sells its consulting services and branding/marketing campaigns to Google, Audi, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and many others that comprise the world’s most powerful corporations and institutions. In 2012, it raised $3m from investors. “Ford Foundation, which has given Purpose’s non-profit arm a grant, reckons it is shaping up to be “one of the blue-chip social organisations of the future.” Purpose, like many other foundations, such as Rockefeller (who initially incubated 1Sky which merged with 350.org in 2011), also serves as an “incubator of social movements.”” [citation from: Avaaz, Purpose & the Art of Selling Hate for Empire]

“The Syria Campaign”: “The Syria Campaign began in spring 2014…The Syria Campaign is managed by Anna Nolan,  who grew up in northern Ireland and has very likely never been to Syria. In addition to promoting the White Helmets, Syria Campaign promotes a new social media campaign called “Planet Syria”. It features emotional pleas for the world to take notice of Syria in another thinly veiled effort pushing for foreign intervention and war. According to their website, The Syria Campaign received start-up funding from the foundation of Ayman Asfari, a billionaire who made his money in the oil and gas services industry. … One of their first efforts was to work to prevent publicity and information about the Syrian Presidential Election of June 2014. Accordingly, “The Syria Campaign” pressured Facebook to remove advertisements or publicity about the Syrian election. Since then Syria Campaign has engineered huge media exposure and mythology about their baby, the “White Helmets” using all sorts of social and traditional media. The campaigns are largely fact free. For example, the Syrian election was dismissed out of hand by them and John Kerry but taken seriously by many millions of Syrians.” [citation from: Seven Steps of Highly Effective Manipulators White Helmets, Avaaz, Nicholas Kristof and Syria No Fly Zone]

White Helmets/”Syrian Civil Defence: “This is a new organization, highly publicized as civilian rescue workers in Syria. In reality the White Helmets is a project created by the UK and USA. Training of civilians in Turkey has been overseen by former British military officer and current contractor, James Le Mesurier. Promotion of the program is done by “The Syria Campaign” supported by the foundation of billionaire Ayman Asfari. The White Helmets is clearly a public relations project. … White Helmets work in areas of Aleppo and Idlib controlled by Nusra (Al Queda).” “White Helmets primary function is propaganda. White Helmets demonizes the Assad government and encourages direct foreign intervention.  A White Helmet leader wrote a recent Washington Post editorial.  White Helmets are also very active on social media with presence on Twitter, Facebook etc.  According to their website, to contact White Helmets email The Syria Campaign which underscores the relationship.” [citations from: About Those Chlorine Gas Attacks in SyriaSeven Steps of Highly Effective Manipulators White Helmets, Avaaz, Nicholas Kristof and Syria No Fly Zone]

The SOHR (Syrian Observatory for Human Rights): “In reality, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has long ago been exposed as an absurd propaganda front operated by Rami Abdul Rahman out of his house in England’s countryside. According to a December 2011 Reuters article titled, “Coventry – an unlikely home to prominent Syria activist,” Abdul Rahman admits he is a member of the so-called “Syrian opposition” and seeks the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad… One could not fathom a more unreliable, compromised, biased source of information, yet for the past two years, his “Observatory” has served as the sole source of information for the endless torrent of propaganda emanating from the Western media…. The New York Times also for the first time reveals that Abdul Rahman’s operation is indeed funded by the European Union and a “European country” he refuses to identify… Abdul Rahman has direct access to the Foreign Secretary William Hague, who he has been documented meeting in person on multiple occasions at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London.” [citation from: EXPOSED: Syrian Human Rights Front is EU-Funded Fraud]

September 12, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

SYRIA: Avaaz, Purpose & the Art of Selling Hate for Empire

By Cory Morningstar | The Art of Annihilation | January 27, 2015

 “The Ivy League bourgeoisie who sit at the helm of the non-profit industrial complex will one day be known simply as charismatic architects of death. Funded by the ruling class oligarchy, the role they serve for their funders is not unlike that of corporate media. Yet, it appears that global society is paralyzed in a collective hypnosis – rejecting universal social interests, thus rejecting reason, to instead fall in line with the position of the powerful minority that has seized control, a minority that systematically favours corporate interests.” — From the article Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part I, Section I, Sept 10, 2012

The organization Avaaz was instrumental in building public approval for the No Fly Zone for the illegal invasion of Libya in 2011. The NATO-led destabilization/illegal war in Libya resulted in the annihilation of a formerly sovereign country that has since descended into brutal chaos. Tens upon thousands of Libyans died and the most savage ethnic cleansing that the mind can imagine has been widespread. The destruction of Libya has been nothing less than a full-scale bloodbath.

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Above image from the Avaaz website: “Libya No-Fly Zone: As Libyan government jets drop bombs on the civilian population, the UN Security Council will decide in 48 hours whether to impose a no-fly zone to keep Qaddafi’s warplanes on the ground.” [Emphasis in original] [Further discussion of the flag within this Avaaz image can be read in the epilogue.]

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Above image: Avaaz takes credit for the implementation of the Libya No Fly Zone. [Further Reading: Did Libya’s Citizens Demand Foreign Intervention?” A ridiculous question, yet according to Avaaz, the answer is yes.]

When Avaaz rolled out the same rinse, lather and repeat campaign for the seizing of Syria, the public did not fall prey as easily. The campaign failed. Below are three separate links to the Avaaz campaign calling for a no-fly zone over Syria.

http://www.avaaz.org/en/syria_the_last_straw_a/ (June 4, 2013) (Avaaz utilizing the “chemical attack” that has since been discredited.)

Avaaz Syria NoFlyZone

https://secure.avaaz.org/en/syria_the_last_straw_0/ (June 14, 2013) (Avaaz alleges a “rape crisis” committed by soldiers of the Syrian army – the same tactic used to incite hatred against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi that was later discredited.)

Avaaz NoFlyZone Syria

http://web.archive.org/web/20130825092136/https://secure.avaaz.org/en/syria_no_fly_zone/ (Again, utilizing the “chemical attack” that has since been discredited)

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Of the Avaaz campaigns pressing for a no-fly zone (air strikes) over Syria that flourished in June of 2013, at least two employed the use of chemical weapons to incite fear and hatred toward the Assad government. It does not take much stretch of the imagination to consider Avaaz had inside knowledge of the upcoming chemical attack that would take place in outer Damascus approximately 10 weeks later. Considering Avaaz co-founder Tom Perriello’s connection to the Obama administration and its well known war criminals, it is entirely plausible that Avaaz was churning out propaganda that would lead up to and sensationalize a false flag attack.

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Photo: Avaaz co-founder and Congressman Tom Perriello with war criminal, General David Petraeus (far left). Under this Flickr photo the caption reads: “Passing the Baton, United States Institute of Peace” [2009] [Photo: Jon-Phillip Sheridan | Source] [In July, 2011, “General David Petraeus was approved as CIA Director by both the Senate Intelligence Committee and then the full Senate, whose vote was an astounding 94-0, astounding because this is a man who was deeply implicated in war crimes, including torture.” Source] [Welcome to the Brave New World – Brought to You by Avaaz, Sept 13, 2013]

The August 30, 2013 article “On the Eve of an Illegal Attack on Syria, Avaaz/350.org Board Members Beat the Drums of War” documents Avaaz links imploring a no-fly zone on Syria – both public links have since been removed. The article also featured 350.org board member Van Jones calling for air strikes on Syria. (Adding twisted irony, Van Jones also serves as co-founder and executive director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. The co-opting of deceased civil rights revolutionaries to advance the goals of hegemony has become common practice within these foundation-financed projects.)

Screenshots of an email from co-founder of Avaaz, Ricken Patel to Avaaz subscribers dated August 27, 2014 can be found here (1) and here (2). The email from Patel represented a last-ditch effort to garner support for a no-fly zone as the US prepared to launch an attack on Syria.

One year earlier, in 2012 Avaaz was allegedly sponsoring fabricated videos of civilian massacres, to back deeper foreign intervention in Syria. Fact-checking and videos appear to collaborate these claims.

Jump forward to 2014.

In the September 8, 2014 article Pentagon Planning Points to Possible Anti-Syria US Military Campaign, author Stephen Gowans observes:

“Now, it appears that Washington is on the cusp of pressing ahead with its planned campaign of military action. The New York Times has reported that ‘Pentagon planners envision a military campaign’ to destroy ISIS ‘in its sanctuary inside Syria’ that could last ‘at least 36 months.’ According to The Wall Street Journal, airstrikes would support anti-Assad fighters unaligned with ISIS, who would be bankrolled by $500 million in US funding, and backed by a global coalition, including the UK and Australia, that would ‘provide a range of assistance, including humanitarian aid and weapons.’ These countries could also join the United States in an air-war over Syria.”

It should not be considered a coincidence that at the same time, a polished, sophisticated and highly financed “Save Syria” campaign is being created in the board rooms of the Empire’s favourite Harvard boys.

Where, under the organization Avaaz, the public hasn’t acquiesced to an air strike on Syria, the New York public relations firm Purpose Inc. has stepped in.

Purpose is a for-profit enterprise that is marketed to appear like a non-profit. Their area of expertise is behavioural change.

 “[Purpose] has a non-profit arm, which incubates protests and accepts donations. This is cross-subsidised by its for-profit arm, which makes money in a variety of ways. It sells consulting services to big companies such as Google and Audi, and to charities such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union.” – The Economist

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GetUp, Avaaz and Purpose co-founder Jeremy Heimans, 2010.

Purpose Inc.: The Crème de la Crème Agents of Behavioural Change

Purpose  | Avaaz Co-Founders

Vision: “Purpose is a global initiative that draws on leading technologies, political organizing and behavioral economics to build powerful, tech-savvy movements that can transform culture and influence policy.”

Avaaz and GetUp co-founders Jeremy Heimans (CEO) and David Madden [2] are also founders of the New York consulting firm, Purpose Inc.

Avaaz was created in part by MoveOn, a Democratic Party associated Political Action Committee (or PAC), formed in response to the impeachment of President Clinton. Avaaz and MoveOn are funded in part by convicted inside-trader and billionaire hedge fund mogul, George Soros.

Avaaz co-founder James Slezak is also identified as a co-founder and CEO of Purpose at its inception in 2009.

The secret behind the success of both Avaaz and Purpose is their reliance upon and expertise in behavioural change.

While the behavioural change tactics used by Avaaz are on public display, double-breasted, for-profit Purpose, with its non-profit arm, sells their expertise behind the scenes to further the interest of hegemony and capital. Whether it be a glossy campaign to help facilitate yet another illegal “humanitarian intervention” led by aggressive U.S. militarism (an oxymoron if there ever was one), or the creation of a new global “green” economy, Purpose is the consulting firm that the wolves of Wall Street and oligarchs alike depend upon to make it happen.

Make no mistake, the Yale (for example, Avaaz co-founder and former U.S. Representative *Tom Perriello) and Harvard graduates that comprise the “Avaaz boys” (many having been groomed by McKinsey and Company) are considered “the dream team” by the globe’s most powerful capitalists, including those at the United Nations and the World Bank. Avaaz co-founder Andrea Madden works for the World Bank in Burma [Myanmar]. Her husband is Avaaz co-founder David Madden who has taken up residence in Burma. [March 23, 2013: Western Media Celebrates Faux Progress in Myanmar] Madden has co-founded a marketing firm, Parami Road in Myanmar: “Our clients are mostly international companies entering Myanmar and they demand an international standard of work.”

“After years of isolation, Myanmar is opening up. Opportunities abound. However international companies have little experience here and local firms have little experience working with them. Parami Road meets this need.” – Parami website

Another key co-founder of Avaaz is none other than pro-war, pro-Israel, U.S. Democrat Tom Perriello, former U.S. Representative (represented the 5th District of Virginia from 2008 to 2010) and founding member of the House Majority Leader’s National Security Working Group. As demonstrated in the 2012 investigative report on Avaaz, Perriello’s curriculum vitae, built upon privilege within elite circles, is quite extensive.

[*Full profile on Avaaz co-founder Tom Perriello: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section I [Link]

The former Managing Director of Partnerships for “Purpose” is Marilia Bezerra. From 2006 to 2011 Bezerra held an integral position within the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) executive leadership. As Clinton Global Initiative director of commitments, Bezerra led the redesign of member engagement and commitments services into a year-round operation. From 2007 to 2008, Bezerra held the position of sponsorship manager of the Clinton Global Initiative where she directly managed five major sponsorship accounts, including Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Procter & Gamble, valued at over $2 million dollars. From 2006 to 2008, Bezerra held the position of Commitment Development Senior Manager for the Clinton Global Initiative. In 2009, Bezerra was Deputy Director of Commitments for the Clinton Global Initiative.

One should note that in the case of many NGOs, on 990 tax forms it appears as though those at the helm are paid minimally, if at all. Rather than salaries, many founders of institutions make immense fees via consulting services where their names are not identified on 990 forms. In the case of Avaaz, co-founder Ricken Patel does take a salary (approx. $190,000.00 per year) plus consulting fees. Consulting fees must be considered the bread and butter of many “progressives” whose incomes rival CEOs of multinational corporations. The salaries and incomes are incredible when one accounts for the fact that many NGOs, such as Avaaz, rake in millions of dollars in donations from well-intentioned and hard-working citizens who are at or below the poverty line.

[Full profile of Ricken Patel: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section I [Link]

Purpose Inc. (with its co-founders) is a favourite of high-finance websites such as The Economist and Forbes and sells its consulting services and branding/marketing campaigns to Google, Audi, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and many others that comprise the world’s most powerful corporations and institutions. In 2012, it raised $3m from investors. “Ford Foundation, which has given Purpose’s non-profit arm a grant, reckons it is shaping up to be “one of the blue-chip social organisations of the future.” [Source] Purpose, like many other foundations, such as Rockefeller (who initially incubated 1Sky which merged with 350.org in 2011), also serves as an “incubator of social movements.” [Further reading on Purpose]

Heimans, the Avaaz front man of Purpose, is a darling of the high-finance corporate world. “In 2011, Jeremy received the Ford Foundation’s 75th anniversary Visionaries Award. The World Economic Forum at Davos has named him a Young Global Leader, and the World e-Government Forum has named Jeremy and Purpose co-founder David Madden among the “Top 10 People Who Are Changing the World of the Internet and Politics.” [Source]

The New York public relations firm Purpose has created at least four anti-Assad NGOs/campaigns: The White Helmets, Free Syrian Voices [3], The Syria Campaign [4] and March Campaign #withSyria.

“Who are we? Three years after the peaceful uprising in Syria, politicians and the media have largely forgotten what the UN calls ‘the greatest humanitarian tragedy of our time.’ But we haven’t.” — Front page of “The Syria Campaign” and the “White Helmets / Syrian Civil Defence” website

The March Campaign #withSyria | Over 130 Partners

Bansky WithSyria2

Purpose’s March campaign #withSyria website (which doubles as a hash tag for Twitter) partners include: Open Society Foundation (George Soros), Amnesty International, Christian Aid, Care, Friends of the Earth, Oxfam and many more of the largest “humanitarian” NGOs within the non-profit industrial complex which makes up a billion dollar industry. [Full list of partners: http://marchcampaign.withsyria.com/partners0]. Utilizing the consumer culture’s celebrity fetish to sell war (and the illusory “green economy“) is a vital marketing strategy of Purpose. In the case of #withSyria, famed street artist Banksy has reworked his “Young Girl” famed graffiti stencil in support of the campaign. On the main page of this website the behavioural change strategists at Purpose promote a slick, emotive video of a white child (in America) slowly becoming traumatized by the violence in Syria. No doubt, Purpose’s marketing executives have taken this avenue because they know that the majority of Euro-Americans with privilege simply are not moved by images of suffering children that are non-Caucasian. Non-White children being slaughtered by imperial states became normalized for most Euro-American citizens long ago.

WithSyriaHashtag PURPOSE CROPPED

And of course corporate media is not far away to promote the cries for war peace. Consider today, on September 17, 2014, ABC “reports“:

“What if we could reverse the explosion of a bomb? A group of 130 organizations from around the world, known collectively as the ‘With Syria’ campaign, released a video Wednesday that shows just what that would look like. The campaign hopes to bring attention to the violence in Syria. (video) Warning: Contains disturbing imagery. In the video, the act of a bomb exploding near children playing is reversed: The blood returns to their heads, the children stand back up, run in reverse and continue the game they were playing. A message says, ‘We can’t reverse what’s happened in Syria, but we can change how the story ends.’”

Indeed Purpose is being paid to bring about the ending that the elites have hired them to ensure.

“Even more impressive than her military, America has built the most sophisticated propaganda machinery the planet has ever seen.” – Garikai Chengu

Free Syrian Voices partners include Amnesty International, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network, FIDH, Front Line Defenders, Human Rights Watch, Reporters Without Borders and “other international, regional and Syrian organizations” – which conveniently go unnamed.

Such emotionally charged campaigns are critical tools for empire. They have become critical (and successful) in building the acquiescence required for “humanitarian interventions” (aka regime change with extensive “collateral damage” thrown in for good measure).

“In the IC Magazine publication Communications in Conflict, is noted a new form of psychological warfare termed ‘false hope.’ False hope, as a tool for subverting social movements, is unparalleled in its effectiveness. What once was crudely accomplished through political repression, censorship, educational indoctrination and misleading propaganda, is now supplemented, if not surpassed, through vertical integration of the non-profit industrial complex. Where Wall Street once had to rely on threats and bribery to intimidate or corrupt social movements, it now has a vast army of neoliberal foundations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and social media at its disposal.” — Jay Taber, False Hope, September 6, 2014

It is important to note that Purpose is a for-profit business strategically presented as though it is a non-profit (similar to the Change.org petition site). This begs the question of who is financing the Syrian campaigns. The fact that a group of wealthy elites from Harvard living privileged lifestyles in New York City (and abroad) decide, via glossy marketing campaigns, who will live or die on the other side of the world is the ultimate representation of whitism and racism – an egregious affront to people everywhere. [Further reading on Purpose]

“If there is any doubt concerning the nefarious undertones of subversiveness in these NGO dealings, [National Endowment for Democracy] NED founder reportedly said the following in the 1990s: ‘A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.’ What was once done at night under the cloak of ‘imperialism’ is now done during the day under the guise of ‘humanitarianism.’” WKOG 30-point Primer

The many facets of Purpose:

1) Purpose (tax identification number 68-0607622) is a for-profit certified B-corporation “that uses an innovative model to pool some of the world’s leading experts and practitioners in order to fund, launch and accelerate the growth of new social movement organizations.”

2) Purpose Action (tax identification number 45-2451509), the non-profit arm of Purpose, is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit advocacy organization “focused on changing policy.” Purpose Action Board of Directors includes Brett Solomon, executive director of Access, former campaigns director at Avaaz, former executive director of GetUp! [5]

3) Purpose Foundation (tax identification number 27-3106760) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization “focused on education and changing culture.” [6]

4) Purpose Campaign (tax identification number 68-0607622) “Develops social and consumer movements.”

US Military Utilize NGOs to Induce Pacification & Advance Western Ideologies on Iraqi Citizens

The video below captures highlights from the 2004 Princeton Colloquium on Public and International Affairs and should that be at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs – The Role of NGOs in Global Governance and Society. Attention to the title is key: “NON-governmental organizations in global GOVERNANCE.” [Note the use of the term “guerrilla” (4:13) in describing any citizen/person resisting the occupation/assault by US military on Iraq soil.] Since the filming of this video, accelerating regime change operations are being conducted by Western militaries, hand in hand with Western NGOs throughout the globe. [See more: http://www.interventionism.info/en/Re…]. In essence, NGOs have become an indispensable instrument of destabilization and regime change for imperial states and hegemonic interests. NGOs also serve as the primary agents to implant neoliberal policies and western ideologies in targeted states to advance and protect the interests of the NGOs’ funders.

The Hate Campaign

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The June, 2012, Avaaz “Good Versus Evil” campaign for the Rio Summit. Above: A downloadable poster as found on the Avaaz Press Centre published in the Financial Times. Vilification: Note the dark cast/ugly sky behind the leaders Avaaz would wish you to believe are “evil,” versus the light and sun shining through over the Imperialist, obstructionist “leaders” that Avaaz is attempting to convince you are “good.”

 “‘You have to investigate the supply of hatred,’ Glaeser continues. ‘Who has the incentive and the ability to induce group hatred? This pushes us toward the crux of the model: politicians or anyone else will supply hatred when hatred is a complement to their policies.’” — The Behavioural Economics of Hatred

Heiman’s work been recognized in publications like The New York Times and The Economist. In The Economist, Heiman states he chose his career path when “in 2001, a college student named Eli Pariser created an online petition calling for a multilateral response to the ‘9/11 terrorist attacks.’” Over a decade on, with civilian deaths that amount to millions, I’m sure the Iraqis are most grateful. It must be noted that Eli Pariser, too, is a co-founder of Avaaz and Co-Founder and Executive Director of MoveOn.org (Avaaz founder) PAC.

The Syria Campaign Facebook PURPOSE Screenshot

Above: The Syria Campaign, Non-profit Organization, created by Purpose, launched March 7, 2014.

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“We were afraid the regime would fire another rocket, as they always come back to the area of attack when people come to rescue to bomb them, so we started evacuating people in a hurry so no more lives would be lost. This picture was taken then! That boy holding my neck like that was one of the moments in which I knew why I am a civil defender!” — Purpose Inc. Marketing Firm

Purpose Inc. strategically employs images, carefully worded text and slick video that provoke intense emotion. Key language includes children, refugees, regime, and their work “in the most dangerous place in the world.”

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 “A year ago today, the Syrian government used Sarin gas against its own people killing over a thousand, many of them children. The world was outraged and demanded Assad destroy his stockpile of chemical weapons. Today chlorine gas is still being used on civilian neighbourhoods, rolled out the back of helicopters in rusty ‘barrel bombs.’” — Purpose Inc. Marketing Firm, Image by Designer : FaDi zyada whose work is also featured on the Heinrich Von Arabien Foundation website. This same website features an absurd photo of Syrians holding up a poster that features a “thumbs up” illustration for USA and the UN.

[***Reference list for deconstructing the myth that Syrian army + “dictator” used chemical weapons in August 2013 by Susan Dirgham: http://australiansforreconciliationinsyria.org/reference-list-chemical-attack-in-damascus-august-2013/]

Exploiting the death of Syrian children to provoke air strikes and military aggression demonstrates that such agencies go to any extreme to further American foreign policy. Note that the very carnage described above: “killing over a thousand, many of them children” is par for the course for the U.S. military, which carries out such atrocities on innocent civilians, including children, on a daily basis, all over the world. But don’t expect an Avaaz or Purpose campaign against the Obama Regime any time soon. They will be too busy under the guise of their NGO MoveOn, working on his re-election.

The following quote represents the real purpose of Purpose:

The media may have turned away from what’s unfolding daily in Syria but today we all have the tools to tell the world the truth. Please share widely and remember the children of Syria in your thoughts today.”

The lapdog media have not turned away, but much of the public has. It’s the job of Purpose to employ netwar methods (“a form of low intensity conflict, crime, and activism waged by actors using social networking services” according to Wikipedia) on the public (targeting Euro-Americans) that will instill hatred toward the democratically elected Bashar al-Assad.

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“It’s past time for President Obama to present a plan for dealing with the humanitarian crisis in Syria.” — Purpose Inc. Marketing Firm

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“Today we remember the more than 1,300 who lost their lives in the Ghouta chemical weapons attacks. Let’s also remember those +150,000 who face torture and death while being detained.” — Purpose Inc. Marketing Firm

Let’s not mention Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and a mile long list of the Obama administration’s involvement in torture, shall we? Syria certainly demonstrates that the first casualty of war (in this case a destabilization effort) is truth. The following excerpt is from the article Foley & Sotloff’s Reporting Show Why the US Should Stop Its Proxy War on Syria, which lays bare that “both journalists documented the reality of Free Syria Army”:

“While in Turkey Sotloff broadcast news of Syrian rebels being found and arrested with chemical weapon Sarin gas.  He used Twitter to send out the Turkish news report.  That was in May, three months before the August 21 2013 chemical weapons deaths in outer Damascus. The Syrian rebels were arrested by Turkish police but quickly released, giving evidence to claims of Turkish government support for Nusra. Sotloff was puzzled why the mainstream media was not giving this event coverage.”

SotloffTweetNusra

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“This Thursday marks the one year anniversary of the chemical weapons attack that took the lives of over 1,000 Syrians. Since then tens of thousands more have been killed by different methods. Starvation is one. But the international media and world leaders still haven’t come together to put an end to it.” — Purpose Inc. Marketing Firm

Above image: Another call for “world leaders” to “come together to put an end to it.” Yet while Purpose may cry crocodile tears over the starvation of Syrians, Avaaz has asked for tough sanctions against Syria. Purpose and Avaaz want to “have their cake and eat it too” – while Syrian lives are destroyed by the oligarchs that both Purpose and Avaaz serve.

http://www.avaaz.org/en/syria_end_the_terror/

AvaazSyriaSanctions2

The High Gloss Veneer

Purpose White Helmuts 1

The following video highlights human rights investigator and award-winning journalist, Keith Harmon Snow, detailing the corrupt NGOs and their portrayal of Africa in order to illicit funds. Snow must be considered one of our finest Western reporters for obtaining true independent, grassroots news from the continent of Africa. Within the lecture, Snow discusses the psyops/propaganda strategically orchestrated behind the “Save Darfur” campaigns/movements which, in 2004, began to saturate the populace. At the helm of this “movement” was “The Center for American Progress.”

The Center for American Progress is closely connected with the same players that founded and financed Avaaz. Today, with Avaaz at the forefront, the non-profit industrial complex has been appointed trusted messenger of a grotesque and disturbing ideology; nothing less than a complete reflection and validation of the U.S. administration’s rhetoric intended to justify the annihilation and occupation of sovereign states under the false pretense of “humanitarian intervention” and “responsibility to protect.” [7]

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The Syrian government has been dropping ‘barrel bombs’ on civilian areas despite a UN order to stop, targeting schools and hospitals. Those too poor to flee their homes can only hope that if the bomb drops, the White Helmets will be there to help get them out.… Let’s tell the world about the White Helmets and help get them the support they need.” — Purpose Inc. Marketing Firm

“Know multiple languages? We need you! Help us get as many eyeballs on the Miracle Baby video by translating the subtitles into as many languages possible here: http://bit.ly/1tKSmrz” — Purpose Inc. Marketing Firm

Firms and agencies such as Purpose write and develop the scripts and design the sets. They bring the stories to life, strategically exploit and manipulate our emotions, ultimately ensuring we come to accept and partake in their politically acceptable means of discourse – discourse sanctioned (and financed) by the empire.

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“Syrians welcome Iraq’s Yazidi refugees into their country with warm meals, giving them their clothes and in some cases opening up their homes.” – Purpose Inc. Marketing Firm

The above quote is representative of perhaps one too many spin doctors, for who is allowing Iraq’s Yazidi refugees into Syria, if not the Assad government? Indeed, Assad’s government has accepted more refugees per capita than any other country in the Middle East.

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“In the wake of Robin Williams’ death, the people of Idlib remember the actor/comedian with a quote on freedom.” — Purpose Inc. Marketing Firm

This image takes absurdity to a new level. Recap: In the midst of being bombed, starved, and rained on by chemical weapons, Syrians take time to pay homage to an American actor/comedian (because the love of the America that is destroying the Middle East is so great), by quoting a line from a genie in a bottle from a scene in an animated Disney movie and creating a banner in the English language.

purpose stats 

“Understand what this infographic says, and you’ll understand why The Syria Campaign exists. And why you and your friends need to join. http://bit.ly/VlYOsi” — Purpose Inc. Marketing Firm

In the infographic above, Purpose deliberately keeps the stats limited to 2014. Otherwise they would have to visualize the millions of Iraqi citizens who have been murdered due to the U.S. illegal war and occupation in Iraq. Further, Purpose gives no attention to the deaths in Honduras, Libya, Haiti, Congo (millions) and all of the other countries being decimated by Imperialism and foreign interference.

Syria Voices FB photo Obama 

“Tell Obama we need a plan set forth to address the worsening humanitarian crisis in Syria. bit.ly/1nITTtO” — Purpose Inc. Marketing Firm

The message is clear. Purpose wants the green light for military intervention in Syria, well-cloaked under the guise of humanitarianism – an oxymoron if there ever was one.

“How were you to know you were approving posts from one of the world’s most violent dictators? A man who’s ordered the dropping of bombs on hospitals and primary schools?” — Purpose Inc. Marketing Firm

“Syrian dictator Bashar Assad has been re-elected and he can thank Facebook for being a propaganda platform.” — Purpose Inc. Marketing Firm

“It is critical to note that the imperialist powers (inclusive of the UN) do not criticize or demonize or withdraw their support from such leaders on any ethical or moral ground. Denunciation of state leaders and emotive language is merely theatre. Rather, the imperialist states strategically set out to destroy any state leader that is unwilling to be controlled by US interests and foreign policy. A case in point is unwavering support of the Saudi royal family responsible for atrocious human rights violations to which the imperialist countries turn a blind eye.” (from Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part I, Section I)

The Behavioural Change Dream Team:

·         Full profile of Jeremy Heimans: Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section II [link]

·         Full profile of David Madden: Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section II [link]

·         Full profile of James Slezak: Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section III [link]

Further reading on behavioural change: Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section II [link]

Further reading on Avaaz and Purpose: This Changes Nothing. Why the People’s Climate March Guarantees Climate Catastrophe

~~~

Epilogue

Consider that the colour of the national flag of the Libyan Jamahiriya (from 1977 to 2011; The Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) was pure green in colour. Unlike the one featured in the Avaaz campaign. The green colour traditionally symbolizes Islam. In Libya, green was also a colour traditionally used to represent the Tripolitania region (commonly referred to as Tripoli) that NATO forces fought to seize. The iconic green flag was chosen by Libyan leader/brother Muammar Gaddafi to symbolize his political philosophy (after his revolutionary Green Book). On 10 March 2011, France was the first state to recognize the council as the official government of Libya, as well as the first to allow the Libyan embassy staff to raise the red, black, green and white flag that would replace the green flag of the Libyan Jamahiriya. On 21 March, the “new” flag was flown by the Permanent Mission of Libya to the United Nations and appeared on their official website … this flag, which reigned prior to the Libyan Jamahiriya, is now the only flag used by the United Nations to represent Libya. According to the following UN statement: “Following the adoption by the General Assembly of resolution 66/1, the Permanent Mission of Libya to the United Nations formally notified the United Nations of a Declaration by the National Transitional Council of 3 August 2011 changing the official name of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya to “Libya” as well as a decision to change Libya’s national flag to the original.” [Wikipedia]

On August 24, 2011 it is reported by yet another mouthpiece for empire that:

As Libyan rebels take over, embassies worldwide have been replacing the old Libyan flag with a new one…. But starting in February, a new flag – red, black, and green with a white star and crescent in the center – has been hoisted at Libyan embassies around the world, from Switzerland to Bangladesh. It is the same flag being flown by the jubilant rebels themselves as they descend on Tripoli.”

In the article, the words “U.S. funded mercenaries” have been replaced with “the jubilant rebels.” It would be well worth investigating who ordered, manufactured and paid for thousands of these new flags (prior to or commencing in February of 2011) and ensured they would replace the national flag of the Libyan Jamahiriya that flourished from 1977 to 2011.

Further Reading:

·         The Grotesque and Disturbing Ideology at the Helm of Avaaz, March 7, 2012

·         Sostenere il governo USA senza saperlo: il grave esempio di “Avaaz,” March 8, 2012

·         SPEAKING TRUTH: A Profound Message to Avaaz from Poet Gabriel Impaglione of Argentina, March 12, 2012

·         Argentine Journalist Stella Calloni Denounces Avaaz | Latin American Unions Follow Her Lead, March 12, 2012

·         Avaaz: Empire Propaganda Mill Masquerading as Grassroots Activism, June 9, 2012

·         Avaaz’s War on Syria: Soros Sponsored Sorrow Pleads for Foreign Intervention, June 14, 2012

·         Rio Summit “Good Versus Evil” Advert Displays Blatant Racism and Imperialism at Core of Avaaz, June 22, 2012

·         Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part I, Section I, Sept 24, 2012

·         Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part I, Section II, Sept 24, 2012

·         Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part I, Section III, Sept 24, 2012

·         Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section I, Sept 24, 2012

·         Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section II, Nov 1, 2012

·         Welcome to the Brave New World – Brought to You by Avaaz, Sept 13, 2013

Endnotes:

[1] Jeremy Heimans on Twitter: https://twitter.com/jeremyheimans

[2] David Madden on Twitter: https://twitter.com/davidmadden

[3] Job Detail for Social Media Intern, Syrian Voices Movement Job Location: Purpose Inc, New York, NY, 10176: http://jobs.climber.com/jobs/Media-Communication/New-York-NY-10176/Social-Media-Intern-Syrian-Voices-Movement/55687863

[4] Purpose is hiring: Join the Syria Campaign: http://www.purpose.com/were-staffing-up-on-the-syria-campaign/]

[5] Purpose Action Board of Directors: Jon Huggett, founding chair of Social Innovation Exchange, former partner at The Bridgespan Group and Bain & Company; Rashad Robinson, executive director of ColorOfChange.org and former senior director of media programs at GLAAD; Brett Solomon, executive director of Access, former campaigns director at Avaaz, former executive director of GetUp!; Douglas Atkin, director of community at Airbnb, former chief community officer of Meetup, author of The Culting of Brands; Andre Banks, executive director of Purpose Foundation, former strategy director at Purpose and former deputy director of ColorOfChange.org; Jeremy Heimans, co-founder & CEO of Purpose, co-founder of Avaaz and co-founder of GetUp! [Source]

[6] Purpose Foundation Board of Directors: Carla Sutherland, research scholar at Columbia University’s Gender and Sexuality Law Center’s Engaging Tradition Project, former program officer at Ford Foundation and Arcus Foundation; Jeremy Heimans, co-founder & CEO of Purpose, co-founder of Avaaz and co-founder of GetUp!; Michael Evans, president of Moynihan Station Development Corporation and former chief of staff to the Lieutenant Governor of New York State. [Source]| Purpose Foundation’s organizational documents and annual reports on Form 990 can be found here.

[7] December 29, 2004: “Over two days in early December approximately three-dozen religious activists met at the Washington office of the Center for American Progress, a recently formed think tank headed by former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta. The Res Publica-driven agenda for the closed-door gathering included sessions on “building the movement infrastructure” and “objectives, strategies and core issues.” Res Publica was founded by Tom Perriello, Ricken Patel and Tom Pravda. Avaaz was founded by Res Publica, MoveOn.org, Executive Director Ricken Patel, Tom Perriello, Tom Pravda, Eli Pariser (MoveOn Executive Director), Andrea Woodhouse (consultant to the World Bank) Jeremy Heimans (co-founder of GetUp! and Purpose), and Australian entrepreneur David Madden (co-founder of GetUp and Purpose). Avaaz co-founder Tom Perriello is now President and CEO of Center for American Progress. Perriello and Patel also co-founded and co-directed DarfurGenocide.org which officially launched in 2004. “DarfurGenocide.org is a project of Res Publica, a group of public sector professionals dedicated to promoting good governance and virtuous civic cultures.” Today, this organization is now known as “Darfurian Voices”: “Darfurian Voices is a project of 24 Hours for Darfur.” The U.S. Department of State and the Open Society Institute were just two of the organizations funders and collaborating partners. Other Darfurian Voices partners include Avaaz, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), International Centre for Transitional Justice, Darfur Rehabilitation Project, Humanity United, Darfur People’s Association of New York, Genocide Intervention, Witness, Yale Law School, The Sigrid Rausing Trust and the Bridgeway Foundation. Despite the carefully crafted language and images that tug at your emotions, such NGOs were created for and exist for one primary purpose — to protect and further American policy and interests, under the guise of philanthropy and humanitarianism. Of all the listed partners of DarfurGenocide.org, with exception of one located in London England, all of the entities involved are American and based on US soil.

May 10, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Seven Steps of Highly Effective Manipulators

White Helmets, Avaaz, Nicholas Kristof and Syria No Fly Zone

By Rick Sterling | Dissident Voice | April 9, 2015

You might think that after seeing the consequences of their campaign for “freedom and democracy” in Libya, journalists like Nicholas Kristof and “humanitarian campaigners” like Avaaz would have some qualms.

Unfortunately they have learned nothing. They have generally not been held to account, with a few nice exceptions such as this Greenwald/Hussain article. And now they are at it again. Many well-intentioned but naive members of the U.S. and international public are again being duped into signing an Avaaz petition based on fraud and misinformation. If the campaign succeeds in leading to a No Fly Zone in Syria, it will result in vastly increased war, mayhem and bloodshed.

The following illustration shows the sequence and trail of deceit leading to Avaaz’s call for a No Fly Zone in Syria.

unnamedFollowing is a brief description documenting the flow of misinformation and deceit, beginning at the Source and ending with Avaaz’s campaign for NATO/US attack on Syria.

Source

The “Source” is unknown at this time. It might be some US agency with or without the approval of the Obama administration. Or it might be another foreign government which seeks, in plain violation of international law, the overthrow the Syrian government. In addition to the U.S., Turkey, Saudi Arabia, France, Britain and Qatar have each spent hundreds of millions and even billions in heavy weaponry plus 3,000 tons of weapons via Croatia plus arming, training, supplying and paying the salaries of thousands of domestic and international mercenaries sowing mayhem and destruction in Syria.

At this point we do not know but there is a REWARD:  $100 finders fee to the first person who can provide credible evidence identifying the SOURCE.

PURPOSE Inc.

This is an international PR firm. CEO is Jeremy Heimans, a co-founder of Avaaz.

President is Kevin Steinberg, previous CEO of World Economic Forum USA (antithesis of World Social Forum). Their website describes their goal:

“Purpose builds and accelerates movements to tackle the world’s biggest problems.”

In this case the “problem” is reluctance to take over Syrian skies and land.

For a hefty fee, “Purpose” will dupe the public and break down that reluctance.

Toward that end, Purpose created “The Syria Campaign”.

The Syria Campaign 

The Syria Campaign began in spring 2014. One of their first efforts was to work to prevent publicity and information about the Syrian Presidential Election of June 2014. Accordingly, “The Syria Campaign” pressured Facebook to remove advertisements or publicity about the Syrian election. Since then Syria Campaign has engineered huge media exposure and mythology about their baby, the “White Helmets” using all sorts of social and traditional media. The campaigns are largely fact free. For example, the Syrian election was dismissed out of hand by them and John Kerry but taken seriously by many millions of Syrians.

The Syria Campaign is managed by Anna Nolan, who grew up in northern Ireland and has very likely never been to Syria. In addition to promoting the White Helmets,  Syria Campaign promotes a new social media campaign called “Planet Syria”. It features emotional pleas for the world to take notice of Syria in another thinly veiled effort pushing for foreign intervention and war.

According to their website, The Syria Campaign received start-up funding from the foundation of Ayman Asfari, a billionaire who made his money in the oil and gas services industry.

White Helmets

White Helmets is the newly minted name for “Syrian Civil Defence”. Despite the name, Syria Civil Defence was not created by Syrians nor does it serve Syria. Rather it was created by the UK and USA in 2013. Civilians from rebel controlled territory were paid to go to Turkey to receive some training in rescue operations. The program was managed by James Le Mesurier, a former British soldier and private contractor whose company is based in Dubai.

The trainees are said to be ‘nonpartisan’ but only work in rebel-controlled areas of Idlib (now controlled by Nusra/Al Queda) and Aleppo. There are widely divergent claims regarding the number of people trained by the White Helmets and the number of people rescued.  The numbers are probably highly exaggerated especially since rebel-controlled territories have few civilians. A doctor who recently served in a rebel-controlled area of Aleppo described it as a ghost town. The White Helmets work primarily with the rebel group Jabat al Nusra (Al Queda in Syria). Video of the recent alleged chlorine gas attacks starts with the White Helmet logo and continues with the logo of Nusra. In reality, White Helmets is a small rescue team for Nusra/Al Queda.

But White Helmets primary function is propaganda. White Helmets demonizes the Assad government and encourages direct foreign intervention. A White Helmet leader wrote a recent Washington Post editorial. White Helmets are also very active on social media with presence on Twitter, Facebook etc. According to their website, to contact White Helmets email The Syria Campaign which underscores the relationship.

Nicholas Kristof/New York Times

The “White Helmets” campaign has been highly successful because of uncritical media promotion. Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times was an advocate of the NATO/US attack on Libya. According to him, villagers who had been shot, injured and their homes destroyed were not bitter, they were thankful! “Hugs from Libyans” is how he viewed it. It was, of course, nonsense, helping to pave the way in the invasion and destruction of the country.

Now Kristof is uncritically promoting the White Helmets, aiding and abetting their political and propaganda message seeking foreign intervention in Syria.

Avaaz

Avaaz is an online lobby organization founded in 2007 by Jeremy Heimans (now CEO of Purpose) and others. Start-up funding was provided by George Soros’ foundation.  While Avaaz has promoted some worthy causes, they have been prominent in promoting neoliberal foreign policies in keeping with the U.S. State Department. Accordingly, they had a major disinformation campaign against Venezuela last year.

Avaaz very actively promoted a No Fly Zone in Libya. They are now very actively promoting the same for Syria.

In-depth research and exposure of Avaaz can be found here. The titles give some indication: “Faking It: Charity Communications in the Firing Line”, “Syria: Avaaz, Purpose & the Art of Selling Hate for Empire”, “Avaaz: Imperialist Pimps for Militarism”.

Avaaz justifies its call for No Fly Zone in part on White Helmets. Given the close interconnections between Avaaz and Purpose, they are surely aware that White Helmets is a media creation. This calls into question their sincerity.

Conclusion

The manipulators rely on emotional images and messages, not facts. They depend on willing partners in the mainstream media who amplify the easy and glib characterizations of who and what is good and bad. The manipulators depend on their audience not asking questions or investigating on their own. In these times of rapid spread of visual and text information via social media, the potential for deceit is huge.

Snapshots

unnamedAvaaz Petition for Libya No Fly Zone — 2011

unnamedAvaaz Petition for Syria No Fly Zone — 2015 (Syria Campaign Posting)

unnamedKristoff/New York Times/2011

unnamedKristoff/New York Times/2015

unnamedunnamed

unnamedThe Real White Helmet Purpose:  Propaganda

Rick Sterling is active with the Syria Solidarity Movement and Mt Diablo Peace and Justice Center. He can be emailed at: rsterling1@gmail.com

April 11, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | Leave a comment

Avaaz: manufacturing consent for wars since 2011

By James Boswell | Wall of Controversy | March 20, 2015

Four years ago I received an email from the internet campaign group Avaaz which read:

“Together, we’ve sent 450,000 emails to the UN Security Council, “overwhelming” the Council President and helping to win targeted sanctions and a justice process for the Libyan people. Now, to stop the bloodshed, we need a massive outcry for a no-fly zone.” [Bold as in the original.]

Of course, that no-fly zone was Nato’s justification for a war – “no-fly zone” means war. So the bloodshed wasn’t about to be stopped, it was about to begin in earnest:

The foreign media has largely ceased to cover Libya because it rightly believes it is too dangerous for journalists to go there. Yet I remember a moment in the early summer of 2011 in the frontline south of Benghazi when there were more reporters and camera crews present than there were rebel militiamen. Cameramen used to ask fellow foreign journalists to move aside when they were filming so that this did not become too apparent. In reality, Gaddafi’s overthrow was very much Nato’s doing, with Libyan militiamen mopping up.

Executing regime change in Libya cost the lives of an estimated 20,000 people: but this was only the immediate death toll, and as a civil war rages on, the final figure keeps rising, indefinitely and seemingly inexorably. And the number of victims will go on rising for so long as there is lawlessness and chaos in a country now completely overrun with terrorists and warlords. So what was started with a “no-fly zone” is ending with a hell on earth: abandon hope all ye who enter here.

Given their unpardonable role in instigating this entirely avoidable human catastrophe, does it come as any surprise when, with “mission accomplished”, the media chose to turn its back on the carnage in Libya? Patrick Cockburn, who wrote the article from which the above quote is taken, has been a rare exception to the rule. A journalist who was not so quick to swallow the official line, he has since been committed to telling the bigger story, which includes the falsity of Nato’s original justifications for air strikes:

Human rights organisations have had a much better record in Libya than the media since the start of the uprising in 2011. They discovered that there was no evidence for several highly publicised atrocities supposedly carried out by Gaddafi’s forces that were used to fuel popular support for the air war in the US, Britain, France and elsewhere. These included the story of the mass rape of women by Gaddafi’s troops that Amnesty International exposed as being without foundation. The uniformed bodies of government soldiers were described by rebel spokesmen as being men shot because they were about to defect to the opposition. Video film showed the soldiers still alive as rebel prisoners so it must have been the rebels who had executed them and put the blame on the government.

So here is a pattern that repeats with uncanny consistency, and with the mainstream media’s failure to discover and report on the truth also recurring with near parallel regularity. We had the ‘Babies out of incubators’ story in Kuwait, and then those WMDs in Iraq that, as Bush Jnr joked, “have got to be here somewhere”, to offer just two very well-established prior instances of the kinds of lies that have taken us to war.

Patrick Cockburn continues:

Foreign governments and media alike have good reason to forget what they said and did in Libya in 2011, because the aftermath of the overthrow of Gaddafi has been so appalling. The extent of the calamity is made clear by two reports on the present state of the country, one by Amnesty International called “Libya: Rule of the gun – abductions, torture and other militia abuses in western Libya” and a second by Human Rights Watch, focusing on the east of the country, called “Libya: Assassinations May Be Crimes Against Humanity”.1

Click here to read Patrick Cockburn’s full article published last November.

But accusations do not stop even at the deplorable roles played by “foreign governments and media alike”, but apply to all of the various warmongering parties at that time, and one of the groups we must also point the finger to is Avaaz. For it was Avaaz, more than any other campaign group, who pushed alongside Nato in their call for the “no-fly zone” which got the whole war going. To reiterate, since it is vitally important that this is understood, a “no-fly zone” always and without exception means war:

Clearly a no-fly zone makes foreign intervention sound rather humanitarian – putting the emphasis on stopping bombing, even though it could well lead to an escalation of violence.

No wonder, too, that it is rapidly becoming a key call of hawks on both sides of the Atlantic. The military hierarchy, with their budgets threatened by government cuts, surely cannot believe their luck – those who usually oppose wars are openly campaigning for more military involvement.2

So wrote John Hilary in an excellent article entitled “Internet activists should be careful what they wish for in Libya” published on the cusp of “intervention”.

In response, Ben Wikler, a campaign director at Avaaz, posted a comment that included the following remarks:

Would imposing a no-fly zone lead to a full-blown international war? No-fly zones can mean a range of different things.

Wikler is wrong and Hilary correct: “no-fly zones” always mean war. And as a consequence, those at Avaaz like Ben Wikler now have blood on their hands – and yet are unrepentant.

Yes, as with most others who were directly or indirectly culpable, “foreign governments and media alike”, it seems Avaaz too are suffering from collective amnesia. Not only have they forgotten the terrible consequences of imposing a “no-fly zone” on Libya, but they also seem to have forgotten their own deliberate efforts when it came to bolstering public support for that “bloody and calamitous” (to use Cockburn’s words) “foreign intervention” (to use the weasel euphemisms of Nato and the West). Because instead of reflecting upon the failings of Nato’s air campaign four years ago, and without offering the slightest murmur of apology for backing it (not that apologies help at all), Avaaz are now calling upon their supporters to forget our murderous blundering of the recent past, with calls for the same action all over again… this time in Syria.

It was yesterday when I received the latest email from Avaaz. Don’t worry, I’m not a supporter (although the simple fact I receive their emails means by their own definition, I am presumably counted one), but after Libya I chose to remain on their mailing list simply to keep an eye on what they were doing. And (not for the first or the second time) they are selling us on more war:

The Syrian air force just dropped chlorine gas bombs on children. Their little bodies gasped for air on hospital stretchers as medics held back tears, and watched as they suffocated to death.

But today there is a chance to stop these barrel bomb murders with a targeted No Fly Zone.

The US, Turkey, UK, France and others are right now seriously considering a safe zone in Northern Syria. Advisers close to President Obama support it, but he is worried he won’t have public support. That’s where we come in.

Let’s tell him we don’t want a world that just watches as a dictator drops chemical weapons on families in the night. We want action.

One humanitarian worker said ‘I wish the world could see what I have seen with my eyes. It breaks your heart forever.’ Let’s show that the world cares — sign to support a life-saving No Fly Zone

Obviously, I am not supplying the link for this latest call to arms: “a[nother] life-saving No Fly Zone”.

After Avaaz called for war against Libya back in 2011, I wrote a restrained article. But I was too polite. When they called for war again following the sarin gas attack on Ghouta, I hesitated again and looked into the facts. They didn’t stack up (as I explained at length in another post). But nor did I damn Avaaz on that occasion, as I ought to have done, when with Libya already ablaze they set up a campaign like this (sorry that it’s hard to read):

 

Since that time it has become evident to the world (at least the one outside the Avaaz office) that it has been Syrian forces who have most successfully fought back against Islamist extremists (al-Qaeda, but now more often called ISIS) who not only use poison gas to murder their enemies and spread fear, but methods so barbaric and depraved – public mass beheadings, crucifixions and even cannibalism – that you wonder which century we are living in. But Avaaz push the blame for all of this killing back on to the Assad regime, just as the West (whose close allies continue to back the so-called “rebels”) have also tried to do. And Avaaz are now saying (once again) that escalating the conflict is the way to save the people of Syria – so don’t worry if it spreads the infection now called ISIS – more love bombs are the preferred Avaaz solution for every complex political situation:

“Today, Gadhafi is dead, and the Libyan people have their first chance for democratic, accountable governance in decades…. American casualties were zero. Insurgent fighters and the vast majority of the population have cheered the victory as liberation, and courageous Syrians who face daily threats of death for standing up to their own repressive regime have taken comfort in Gadhafi’s fall. These accomplishments are no small feats for those who care about human dignity, democracy, and stability….

Progressives often demand action in the face of abject human suffering, but we know from recent history that in some situations moral condemnation, economic sanctions, or ex-post tribunals don’t save lives. Only force does.”

These are the self-congratulatory words of Tom Perriello, the co-founder of Avaaz, writing in late 2012. And he finishes the same piece:

We must realize that force is only one element of a coherent national security strategy and foreign policy. We must accept the reality—whether or not one accepts its merits—that other nations are more likely to perceive our motives to be self-interested than values-based. But in a world where egregious atrocities and grave threats exist, and where Kosovo and Libya have changed our sense of what’s now possible, the development of this next generation of power can be seen as a historically unique opportunity to reduce human suffering. 3

Independent investigative journalist, Cory Morningstar, who has probed very deeply into the organization says, “Make no mistake – this is the ideology at the helm of Avaaz.org.”

As she explains:

Tom Perriello is a long-time collaborator with Ricken Patel. Together, they co-founded Avaaz.org, Res Publica and FaithfulAmerica.org.

Perriello is a former U.S. Representative (represented the 5th District of Virginia from 2008 to 2010) and a founding member of the House Majority Leader’s National Security Working Group.

Perriello was also co-founder of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. He worked for Reverend Dr. James Forbes on “prophetic justice” principles. Many of these organizations were created with the intent of creating a broad-based “religious left” movement. […]

Despite the carefully crafted language and images that tug at your emotions, such NGOs were created for and exist for one primary purpose – to protect and further American policy and interests, under the guise of philanthropy and humanitarianism.

As Cory Morningstar also points out:

In December 2011, Perriello disclosed that he served as special adviser to the international war crimes prosecutor and has spent extensive time in 2011 in Egypt and the Middle East researching the Arab Spring. Therefore, based on this disclosure alone, there can be no doubt that the deliberate strategy being advanced by Avaaz cannot be based upon any type of ignorance or naïveté. 4

“It breaks your heart forever.” That was the heading under which yesterday’s email arrived and the way it signed off went as follows: “With hope, John, Mais, Nick, Alice, Rewan, Wissam, Ricken and the rest of the Avaaz team”. And this is how they come again with further ploys to prick your conscience. So do please remember before you click on their pastel-coloured links or forward those ‘messages’ to your own friends, how they beat the drums to war on two earlier occasions. In 2013, when they last called for the bombing of Syria (but the war party were halted in their mission), and in 2011 when they first aided Nato’s grand deception and helped to bring unremitting horrors to the innocent people of Libya. Keep in mind too, how lacking in guilt they have been in light of their own imploring role during the run up to the full “shock and awe” display over Tripoli.

Because John, Mais, Nick, Alice, Rewan, Wissam, Ricken and the rest… are really not our friends. They are humanitarian hawks, who are in the business of manufacturing consent for every Nato “intervention”. Indeed, I would like to ask John, Mais, Nick, Alice, Rewan, Wissam, Ricken and the rest, in good faith, just how do you sleep at night?

Click here to read a thorough examination of Avaaz put together by independent investigative journalist Cory Morningstar.

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Additional:

Here is an open letter I constructed in Summer 2012, but then decided not to post:

Dear Ricken, Eli and the whole Avaaz team,

By your own rather loose definition, I have been a member of Avaaz now for several years. In other words I responded to one of your campaigns many moons ago, and have never subsequently withdrawn my name from your mailing list. I believe that under your own terms, I am thus one of the many millions of your ‘members’. You presume that all those like me who are ‘in the Avaaz community’ support your various campaigns simply because we are on your contact list, although in my own case, this is absolutely not the case. I have ceased to support any of the Avaaz campaigns since you pushed for a ‘no-fly zone’ over Libya, and from this time on, have kept up with your campaign messages simply to keep an eye on you. I vowed never again to sign any of your petitions on the grounds that I do not wish to be a supporter of any organisation that backs an aggressive and expansionist war.

The most common criticism of Avaaz, and other internet campaign groups, is that it encourages ‘slacktivism’, which is indeed a very valid concern:

Sites such as Avaaz, suggested Micah White in the Guardian last year, often only deal with middle-of-the-road causes, to the exclusion of niche interests: “They are the Walmart of activism . . . and silence underfunded radical voices.” More infamously, internet theorist Evgeny Morozov has called the likes of Avaaz “Slacktivists”, claiming that they encourage previously tenacious activists to become lazy and complacent.

There’s also the issue of breadth. Clicktivist websites often cover a range of issues that have little thematic or geographical relation to each other, which leaves them open to accusations of dilettantism.

Click here to read Patrick Kingsey’s full article in the Guardian.

Ricken Patel’s response to Kingsley is to point to their campaign against Murdoch’s takeover of BSkyB:

“Our activism played a critical role in delaying the BskyB deal until the recent scandal was able to kill it,” Avaaz‘s founder, New York-based Ricken Patel, tells me via Skype. 5

So is this really the best example Avaaz has to offer? Since the BSkyB deal would undoubtedly have been stymied for all sorts of other reasons, not least of which were the various phone hacking scandals, and most shockingly, in the hacking of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s phone. This more than anything killed off the Murdoch bid for BSkyB.

We might also give a little grudging credit to Business Secretary Vince Cable, who in late 2010 revealed privately to undercover reporters that he was ‘declaring war’ on Rupert Murdoch. This caused such a storm that Tory leader David Cameron came out against Cable, describing his comments as “totally unacceptable and inappropriate”, whilst Labour leader Ed Miliband immediately followed suite saying that he would have gone further and sacked Cable 6. In any case, Murdoch was coming under attack from many fronts (including, as shown by Cable’s example, a maverick offensive from inside the government), and so there were already growing calls for a review of the BskyB deal. As it turns out, the deal itself was seriously compromised by a conflict of interests involving Ofcom Chairman Colette Bowe, not that this widely reported – I wrote a post on it just before the deal suddenly collapsed. In fact, I had tried in vain to get a number of politicians to look into this aspect of the case, but none at all even bothered to reply. The story the media were telling quickly moved on, and so the role of Ofcom remains more or less unscrutinised.

But I have a far bigger problem with Avaaz than simply the matter of its lack of effectiveness. Since even if Avaaz has achieved nothing concrete whatsoever, which might well be the case, its growing prominence as a campaign group is undoubtedly helping to frame the protest agenda. Picking and choosing what are and aren’t important issues is dilettantism, yes, and also, potentially at least, “the manufacturing of dissent”. Avaaz‘s defence is that it is an independent body – oh, really?

Co-founder and Director of Avaaz, Ricken Patel said in 2011 “We have no ideology per se. Our mission is to close the gap between the world we have and the world most people everywhere want. Idealists of the world unite!”

“No ideology per se”? So what then are we to make of your association with another organisation called Res Publica, of which Patel is a fellow, and Eli Pariser has also been a member of the Advisor Board.

Res Publica (US) is described by wikipedia as “a US organization promoting ‘good governance, civic virtue and deliberative democracy.’”, though there is no article on the group itself, and nor, for that matter, any entry on Ricken Patel himself. If I visit the Res Publica website, however, the link I immediately find takes me straight to George Soros’ Open Democracy group and also the International Crisis Group of which Soros is again a member of the Executive Committee. The International Crisis Group that gets such glowing endorsements from peace-loving individuals as (and here I quote directly from the website):

President Bill Clinton (‘in the most troubled corners of the world, the eyes, the ears and the conscience of the global community’); successive U.S. Secretaries of State (Condoleezza Rice: ‘a widely respected and influential organisation’, Colin Powell: ‘a mirror for the conscience of the world’ and Madeleine Albright: ‘a full-service conflict prevention organisation’); and former U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, the late Richard Holbrooke (‘a brilliant idea… beautifully implemented’ with reports like CrisisWatch ‘better than anything I saw in government’).

Whilst according to Res Publica‘s own website Ricken Patel has himself “consulted for the International Crisis Group, the United Nations, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Gates Foundation…”

To cut to the quick then, Avaaz claims to independence are simply a sham. Whether foundation funded or not, you are undeniably foundation affiliated. Which brings me to your recent campaigns.

In a letter which I received on Wednesday 11th January, you wrote, typically vaingloriously, about the significance of Avaaz in bringing about and supporting the uprisings of Arab Spring:

Across the Arab world, people power has toppled dictator after dictator, and our amazing Avaaz community has been at the heart of these struggles for democracy, breaking the media blackouts imposed by corrupt leaders, empowering citizen journalists, providing vital emergency relief to communities under siege, and helping protect hundreds of activists and their families from regime thugs.

When all that I can actually recall is some jumping on the bandwagon and your support for the ‘shock and awe’ assault that we saw lighting up the skies over Tripoli. Gaddafi was ousted, of course, much as Saddam Hussein had been by the Bush administration, and likewise, the country remains in chaos. But does the removal of any dictator justify the killing of an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 people in the first months of the Libyan war – these figures according to Cherif Bassiouni, who led a U.N. Human Rights Council mission to Tripoli and rebel-held areas in late April. 7 Figures that officially rose to 25,000 people killed and 60,000 injured, after the attacks on Gaddafi’s besieged hometown of Sirte. 8 The true overall casualties of the Libyan war remain unknown, as they do in Iraq, although a conservative estimate is that around 30,000 people lost their lives. Avaaz, since you called for this, you must wash some of that blood from your own hands.

Now you are calling for ‘action’ against Syria, on the basis this time of your own report which finds that “crimes against humanity were committed by high-level members of the Assad regime”. Now, let me say that I do not in the least doubt that the Assad regime is involved in the secret detainment and torture of its opponents. The terrible truth is that such human rights abuses are routinely carried out all across the Middle East, and in many places on behalf or in collusion with Western security services such as the CIA. Back in September 2010, PolitiFact.com wrote about the Obama administration’s record on so-called “extraordinary renditions” [from wikipedia with footnote preserved]:

The administration has announced new procedural safeguards concerning individuals who are sent to foreign countries. President Obama also promised to shut down the CIA-run “black sites,” and there seems to be anecdotal evidence that extreme renditions are not happening, at least not as much as they did during the Bush administration. Still, human rights groups say that these safeguards are inadequate and that the DOJ Task Force recommendations still allow the U.S. to send individuals to foreign countries.[158]

Whilst back in April 2009, on the basis of what he had witnessed in Uzbekistan, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004, Craig Murray, gave evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights “UN Convention against torture: allegations of complicity in torture”. In answers to questions, he explained to the committee how the UK government disguises its complicity and that he believed it has, in effect, helped to create “a market for torture”:

If I may refer to the documents on waterboarding and other torture techniques released recently in the United States on the orders of President Obama, if we are continuing to receive, as we are, all the intelligence reports put out by the CIA we are complicit in a huge amount of torture. I was seeing just a little corner in Uzbekistan. [p. 73]

I think the essence of the government’s position is that if you receive intelligence material from people who torture, be it CIA waterboarding, or torture by the Uzbek authorities or anywhere else, you can do so ad infinitum knowing that it may come from torture and you are still not complicit. [bottom p. 74]

Their position remains the one outlined by Sir Michael Wood, and it was put to me that if we receive intelligence from torture we were not complicit as long as we did not do the torture ourselves or encouraged it. I argue that we are creating a market for torture and that there were pay-offs to the Uzbeks for their intelligence co-operation and pay-offs to other countries for that torture. I think that a market for torture is a worthwhile concept in discussing the government’s attitude. [p. 75]

The government do not volunteer the fact that they very happily accept this information. I make it absolutely plain that I am talking of hundreds of pieces of intelligence every year that have come from hundreds of people who suffer the most vicious torture. We are talking about people screaming in agony in cells and our government’s willingness to accept the fruits of that in the form of hundreds of such reports every year. I want the Joint committee to be absolutely plain about that. [bot p.75] 9

Click here to watch all of parts of Craig Murray’s testimony.

Here is the introduction to Amnesty International‘s Report from last year:

Over 100 suspects in security-related offences were detained in 2010. The legal status and conditions of imprisonment of thousands of security detainees arrested in previous years, including prisoners of conscience, remained shrouded in secrecy. At least two detainees died in custody, possibly as a result of torture, and new information came to light about methods of torture and other ill-treatment used against security detainees. Cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments, particularly flogging, continued to be imposed and carried out. Women and girls remained subject to discrimination and violence, with some cases receiving wide media attention. Both Christians and Muslims were arrested for expressing their religious beliefs.

But not for Syria – for Saudi Arabia report-2011.

And it continues:

Saudi Arabian forces involved in a conflict in northern Yemen carried out attacks that appeared to be indiscriminate or disproportionate and to have caused civilian deaths and injuries in violation of international humanitarian law. Foreign migrant workers were exploited and abused by their employers. The authorities violated the rights of refugees and asylum-seekers. At least 27 prisoners were executed, markedly fewer than in the two preceding years.

Further down we read that:

At least 140 prisoners were under sentence of death, including some sentenced for offences not involving violence, such as apostasy and sorcery.

Not that Amnesty‘s report on Syria report-2011 is any less deplorable:

The authorities remained intolerant of dissent. Those who criticized the government, including human rights defenders, faced arrest and imprisonment after unfair trials, and bans from travelling abroad. Some were prisoners of conscience. Human rights NGOs and opposition political parties were denied legal authorization. State forces and the police continued to commit torture and other ill-treatment with impunity, and there were at least eight suspicious deaths in custody. The government failed to clarify the fate of 49 prisoners missing since a violent incident in 2008 at Saydnaya Military Prison, and took no steps to account for thousands of victims of enforced disappearances in earlier years. Women were subject to discrimination and gender-based violence; at least 22 people, mostly women, were victims of so-called honour killings. Members of the Kurdish minority continued to be denied equal access to economic, social and cultural rights. At least 17 people were executed, including a woman alleged to be a victim of physical and sexual abuse.

Please correct me, but so far as I’m aware, Avaaz have been entirely silent in their condemnation of the human rights violations of either Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia (two countries that maintain very close ties with the US). Silent too when Saudi forces brutally cracked down on the Arab Spring protests in neighbouring Bahrain. So one could be forgiven for thinking that when Avaaz picks and chooses its fights, those it takes up are, if not always in the geo-strategic interests of the United States, then certainly never against those interests.

Back to your call for action against Syria and the letter continues:

We all had hoped that the Arab League’s monitoring mission could stop the violence, but they have been compromised and discredited. Despite witnessing Assad’s snipers first-hand, the monitors have just extended their observation period without a call for urgent action. This is allowing countries like Russia, China and India to stall the United Nations from taking action, while the regime’s pathetic defense for its despicable acts has been that it is fighting a terrorist insurgency, not a peaceful democracy movement.

Well, I’m not sure that anyone was expecting much from the Arab League, but can you really justify what you are saying here? That the violence now taking place in Syria is against an entirely “peaceful democracy movement” and that Syria is in no way facing a terrorist insurgency. Not that such an insurgency is entirely unjustified; after all one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. But that both sides are involved in atrocities, since both sides are evidently armed and the rebels are undeniably backed by militant Islamist groups.

Making statements such as “allowing countries like Russia, China and India to stall the United Nations from taking action”, directly implies that these foreign powers are simply protecting their own selfish interests (which is, of course, true), whereas the US is intent only on defending freedom and human rights. Such a gross oversimplification and plain nonsense.

So far, I note, Avaaz have not called for direct ‘military intervention’ in Syria, unlike in the shameful case of Libya. But given the timing of this latest announcement and on the basis of past form, I’m expecting petitions for what amounts to war (such as the ‘no-fly zone’ over Libya) will follow soon enough.

And so to your latest campaign, which I received by email on Tuesday 10th April. It begins:

Dear Friends,

Today is a big day for Avaaz. If you join in, Avaaz might just move from having a small team of 40 campaigners to having 40,000!!

Then goes on to explain how the reach of Avaaz will be broadened by encouraging everyone to write their own campaign petitions:

So, to unlock all the incredible potential of our community to change the world, we’ve developed our website tools and website to allow any Avaazer to instantly start their *own* online petitions, tell friends, and win campaigns.

The site just went live – will you give it a try? Think of a petition you’d like to start on any issue – something impacting your local community, some bad behaviour by a distant corporation, or a global cause that you think other Avaaz members would care about. If your petition takes off, it may become an Avaaz campaign – either to members in your area, or even to the whole world!

On the face of it, you are offering a way for everyone to be involved. But 40,000 petitions…? Is this really going to change the world? I have an idea that maybe just five or six might serve the purpose better – here are my suggestions for four:

  • a call for those responsible within the Bush administration and beyond to be charged with war crimes for deliberately leading us into an illegal war with Iraq
  • the criminal prosecution for crimes against humanity of George W Bush and others who have publicly admitted to their approval of the use of torture
  • the repeal of NDAA 2012 and the rolling back of the unconstitutional US Patriot and Homeland Security Acts
  • a criminal investigation into the rampant financial fraud that created the current global debt crisis

So consider me a member of the team once more. I’m putting those four campaigns out there. Or at least I would have before I’d read your ‘Terms of Use’. For it concerns me that “In order to further the mission of this site or the mission of Avaaz, we may use, copy, distribute or disclose this material to other parties” but you do not then go on to outline who those ‘other parties’ might be. And you say you will “Remove or refuse to post any User Contributions for any or no reason. This is a decision Avaaz will strive to make fairly, but ultimately it is a decision that is solely up to Avaaz to make.”

Since you reserve the right to “remove or refuse to post” without making a clear statement of your rules and without any commitment to providing justification for such censorship, I see little reason in bothering to try. Doubtless others will attempt to build campaigns on your platform for actions regarding the very serious issues I have outlined above, and should they achieve this, then I will try to lend support to those campaigns. Alternatively, should I fail to come across campaigns formed around these and related issues, I will presume, rightly or wrongly (this is “a decision that is solely up to me to make”), that Avaaz prefers not to support such initiatives. Either way, I will not holding my breath.

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1 From an article entitled “The West is silent as Libya falls into the abyss” written by Patrick Cockburn, published by The Independent on November 2, 2014. http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/the-west-is-silent-as-libya-falls-into-the-abyss-9833489.html

2 From an article entitled “Internet activists should be careful what they wish for in Libya” written by John Hillary, published in the Guardian on March 10, 2011. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/mar/10/internet-activists-libya-no-fly-zone

3 From an article entitled “Humanitarian Intervention: Recognizing When, and Why, It Can Succeed” written by Tom Perriello, published in Issue #23 Democracy Journal in Winter 2012. http://www.democracyjournal.org/23/humanitarian-intervention-recognizing-when-and-why-it-can-succeed.php?page=all

4 From an article entitled “Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War”, Part II, Section I, written by Cory Morningstar, published September 24, 2012. Another extract reads:

The 12 January 2012 RSVP event “Reframing U.S. Strategy in a Turbulent World: American Spring?” featured speakers from Charles Kupchan of the Council on Foreign Relations, Rosa Brooks of the New America Foundation, and none other than Tom Perriello, CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Perriello advanced his “ideology” during this lecture.

http://theartofannihilation.com/imperialist-pimps-of-militarism-protectors-of-the-oligarchy-trusted-facilitators-of-war-part-ii-section-i/

5 From an article entitled “Avaaz: activism or ‘slacktivism’?” written by Patrick Kingsley, published in the Guardian on July 20, 2011. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/20/avaaz-activism-slactivism-clicktivism

6 From an article entitled “Vince Cable to stay on as Business Secretary” published by BBC news on December 21, 2010. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-12053656

7 From an article entitled “Up to 15,000 killed in Libya war: U.N. Right expert” reported by Reuters on June 9. 2011. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/09/us-libya-un-deaths-idUSTRE7584UY20110609

8 From an article entitled “Residents flee Gaddafi hometown”, written by Rory Mulholland and Jay Deshmukh, published in the Sydney Morning Herald on October 3, 2011. http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-world/residents-flee-gaddafi-hometown-20111003-1l49x.html

9 From the uncorrected transcript of oral evidence given to the Joint Committee on Human Rights “UN Convention against torture: allegations of complicity in torture” on April 28, 2009. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt200809/jtselect/jtrights/152/152.pdf

Please note that when I originally posted the article the link was to a different version of the document, but it turns out that the old link (below) has now expired. For this reason I have altered the page references in accordance with the new document.

https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:nogix7L1-kIJ:www.craigmurray.org.uk/Uncorrected%2520Transcript%252028%2520April%252009.doc+craig+murray+evidence+parliamentary+slect+commitee&hl=en&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESjfCqyleDnk_maooZDF7iGJ5MC68Lb9zNDi5PCH8_9PwlwCybyXYiCD-A1E-O_j9Z5XgnOsKsvguvirw4jqJW9zjuor_secSn7aw_X1JIxHxjLw0CZON7vwOcfitFM1bB8MOsaO&sig=AHIEtbScxyI2eTh3HF2MA_yGyeAcyTsoiQ

 

April 7, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment