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No “Compensation” to Israel for Iran Deal

By Sheldon Richman | Free Association | July 22, 2015

In The Joys of Yiddish, Leo Rosten defined chutzpah as “that quality enshrined in a man who, having killed his mother and father, throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan.” Today we have a new paradigm for chutzpah: the Israeli government’s demand for “compensation” from the American taxpayers for the Iran nuclear agreement.

Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told the Times of Israel that during U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter’s visit the Israeli government would discuss “the compensation that Israel deserves in order to maintain its qualitative [military] edge” over Iran. The Obama administration of course is amenable.

Why does Israel deserve compensation (in addition to its $3 billion in U.S. aid every year)? If anything, Israel should compensate American taxpayers!

Iran is not — and was not going to become — a nuclear threat. American and Israeli intelligence have said so repeatedly.

But even if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were right about Iran’s intentions, he should be rejoicing at the agreement, under which Iran will get rid of nearly all of its enriched uranium and two-thirds of its centrifuges. Its nuclear facilities will be open to even more intrusive inspections than they have been under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Even its non-nuclear military sites will be subject to inspection, an intrusion no other government — particularly the United States — would accept. And that is just the beginning. Uranium-enrichment research will be restricted, and construction of a heavy-water reactor, which would yield plutonium, will be scrapped.

The term for these various restrictions begin at 10 years and lengthen from there, but this does not mean that Iran will later be free to do what it wants. As an NPT party (unlike nuclear monopolist Israel), it will always be subject to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which certifies that Iran has not diverted uranium to military purposes.

What did Iran get in return for those concessions? Iranian money frozen since the 1979 Islamic revolution will be released and the economic warfare perpetrated by the United States and the rest of the world — euphemistically called “sanctions” — will eventually be ended.

In other words, Iran can rejoin the world economy — its people relieved of cruel economic warfare — if it gives up a weapons program it never had, never wanted, and did not plan to pursue. Those crafty Iranians! They acquired thousands of centrifuges as bargaining chips to be traded away for peaceful commercial relations with the world.

Israel’s rulers, like their American supporters, say they have another reason to hate the agreement. (For my own far different reservation, see this.) “Giving” Iran all that cash (it belongs to Iranians) will let the Islamic Republic pursue its aggressive aims in the Middle East, which include helping Israel’s enemies, Hamas and Hezbollah.

Balderdash. Iran is not pursuing an aggressive policy in the Middle East, and it is sheer projection for an American or Israeli to make that charge. George W. Bush handed Shia-majority Iraq to Iran when he overthrew Iran’s nemesis, Saddam Hussein. Barack Obama is siding with Iran against the Islamic State in Iraq. Iran’s ally, Bashar al-Assad of Syria, is under assault by ISIS, al-Qaeda, and the United States. And the Houthis in Yemen, who get some Iranian help and are fighting al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, have long struggled against the central government for self-rule, in response to which U.S.-backed Saudi Arabia is waging a bloody war of aggression.

Iran has supported Hamas, although the Palestinian group (like Israel) opposes Assad. But Hamas exists to resist Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. Likewise, Hezbollah arose to resist Israeli occupation of and periodic attacks on southern Lebanon. While some of Hamas’s and Hezbollah’s tactics have indeed been atrocious, their raison d’être is opposition to Israeli aggression — not terrorism.

There is no Iranian imperialism.

Nuclear Israel faces no threat. In the current turmoil it sides with Sunni Arabs, including al-Qaeda affiliates, against Iran, because turmoil serves Israel’s interests and Iran is a ready-made bête noire. Why does Israel need a manufactured threat? Because if Americans knew the truth, they might focus on the Palestinians’ plight. Israel and its Lobby cannot have that.

July 23, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Seeking War to the End of the World

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | July 19, 2015

If the neoconservatives have their way again, U.S. ground troops will reoccupy Iraq, the U.S. military will take out Syria’s secular government (likely helping Al Qaeda and the Islamic State take over), and the U.S. Congress will not only kill the Iran nuclear deal but follow that with a massive increase in military spending.

Like spraying lighter fluid on a roaring barbecue, the neocons also want a military escalation in Ukraine to burn the ethnic Russians out of the east and the neocons dream of spreading the blaze to Moscow with the goal of forcing Russian President Vladimir Putin from the Kremlin. In other words, more and more fires of Imperial “regime change” abroad even as the last embers of the American Republic die at home.

Much of this “strategy” is personified by a single Washington power couple: arch-neocon Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century and an early advocate of the Iraq War, and his wife, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who engineered last year’s coup in Ukraine that started a nasty civil war and created a confrontation between nuclear-armed United States and Russia.

Kagan, who cut his teeth as a propaganda specialist in support of the Reagan administration’s brutal Central American policies in the 1980s, is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a contributing columnist to The Washington Post’s neocon-dominated opinion pages.

On Friday, Kagan’s column baited the Republican Party to do more than just object to President Barack Obama’s Iranian nuclear deal. Kagan called for an all-out commitment to neoconservative goals, including military escalations in the Middle East, belligerence toward Russia and casting aside fiscal discipline in favor of funneling tens of billions of new dollars to the Pentagon.

Kagan also showed how the neocons’ world view remains the conventional wisdom of Official Washington despite their disastrous Iraq War. The neocon narrative gets repeated over and over in the mainstream media no matter how delusional it is.

For instance, a sane person might trace the origins of the bloodthirsty Islamic State back to President George W. Bush’s neocon-inspired Iraq War when this hyper-violent Sunni movement began as “Al Qaeda in Iraq” blowing up Shiite mosques and instigating sectarian bloodshed. It later expanded into Syria where Sunni militants were seeking the ouster of a secular regime led by Alawites, a Shiite offshoot. Though changing its name to the Islamic State, the movement continued with its trademark brutality.

But Kagan doesn’t acknowledge that he and his fellow neocons bear any responsibility for this head-chopping phenomenon. In his neocon narrative, the Islamic State gets blamed on Iran and Syria, even though those governments are leading much of the resistance to the Islamic State and its former colleagues in Al Qaeda, which in Syria backs a separate terrorist organization, the Nusra Front.

But here is how Kagan explains the situation to the Smart People of Official Washington: “Critics of the recent nuclear deal struck between Iran and the United States are entirely right to point out the serious challenge that will now be posed by the Islamic republic. It is an aspiring hegemon in an important region of the world.

“It is deeply engaged in a region-wide war that encompasses Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, the Gulf States and the Palestinian territories. It subsidizes the murderous but collapsing regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and therefore bears primary responsibility for the growing strength of the Islamic State and other radical jihadist forces in that country and in neighboring Iraq, where it is simultaneously expanding its influence and inflaming sectarian violence.”

The Real Hegemon

While ranting about “Iranian hegemony,” Kagan called for direct military intervention by the world’s true hegemonic power, the United States. He wants the U.S. military to weigh in against Iran on the side of two far more militarily advanced regional powers, Israel and Saudi Arabia, whose combined weapons spending dwarfs Iran’s and includes – with Israel – a sophisticated nuclear arsenal.

Yet reality has never had much relationship to neocon ideology. Kagan continued: “Any serious strategy aimed at resisting Iranian hegemony has also required confronting Iran on the several fronts of the Middle East battlefield. In Syria, it has required a determined policy to remove Assad by force, using U.S. air power to provide cover for civilians and create a safe zone for Syrians willing to fight.

“In Iraq, it has required using American forces to push back and destroy the forces of the Islamic State so that we would not have to rely, de facto, on Iranian power to do the job. Overall, it has required a greater U.S. military commitment to the region, a reversal of both the perceived and the real withdrawal of American power.

“And therefore it has required a reversal of the downward trend in U.S. defense spending, especially the undoing of the sequestration of defense funds, which has made it harder for the military even to think about addressing these challenges, should it be called upon to do so. So the question for Republicans who are rightly warning of the danger posed by Iran is: What have they done to make it possible for the United States to begin to have any strategy for responding?”

In Kagan’s call for war and more war, we’re seeing, again, the consequence of failing to hold neocons accountable after they pushed the country into the illegal and catastrophic Iraq War by selling lies about weapons of mass destruction and telling tales about how easy it would be.

Instead of facing a purge that should have followed the Iraq calamity, the neocons consolidated their power, holding onto key jobs in U.S. foreign policy, ensconcing themselves in influential think tanks, and remaining the go-to experts for mainstream media coverage. Being wrong about Iraq has almost become a badge of honor in the upside-down world of Official Washington.

But we need to unpack the truckload of sophistry that Kagan is peddling. First, it is simply crazy to talk about “Iranian hegemony.” That was part of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rhetoric before the U.S. Congress on March 3 about Iran “gobbling up” nations – and it has now become a neocon-driven litany, but it is no more real just because it gets repeated endlessly.

For instance, take the Iraq case. It has a Shiite-led government not because Iran invaded Iraq, but because the United States did. After the U.S. military ousted Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein, the United States stood up a new government dominated by Shiites who, in turn, sought friendly relations with their co-religionists in Iran, which is entirely understandable and represents no aggression by Iran. Then, after the Islamic State’s dramatic military gains across Iraq last summer, the Iraqi government turned to Iran for military assistance, also no surprise.

Back to Iraq

However, leaving aside Kagan’s delusional hyperbole about Iran, look at what he’s proposing. He wants to return a sizable U.S. occupation force to Iraq, apparently caring little about the U.S. soldiers who were rotated multiple times into the war zone where almost 4,500 died (along with hundreds of thousands of Iraqis). Having promoted Iraq War I and having paid no price, Kagan now wants to give us Iraq War II. [III!]

But that’s not enough. Kagan wants the U.S. military to intervene to make sure the secular government of Syria is overthrown, even though the almost certain winners would be Sunni extremists from the Islamic State or Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front. Such a victory could lead to genocides against Syria’s Christians, Alawites, Shiites and other minorities. At that point, there would be tremendous pressure for a full-scale U.S. invasion and occupation of Syria, too.

That may be why Kagan wants to throw tens of billions of dollar more into the military-industrial complex, although the true price tag for Kagan’s new wars would likely run into the trillions of dollars. Yet, Kagan still isn’t satisfied. He wants even more military spending to confront “growing Chinese power, an aggressive Russia and an increasingly hegemonic Iran.”

In his conclusion, Kagan mocks the Republicans for not backing up their tough talk: “So, yes, by all means, rail about the [Iran] deal. We all look forward to the hours of floor speeches and campaign speeches that lie ahead. But it will be hard to take Republican criticisms seriously unless they start doing the things that are in their power to do to begin to address the challenge.”

While it’s true that Kagan is now “just” a neocon ideologue – albeit one with important platforms to present his views – his wife Assistant Secretary of State Nuland shares his foreign policy views and even edits many of his articles. As she told The New York Times last year, “nothing goes out of the house that I don’t think is worthy of his talents. Let’s put it that way.” [See Consortiumnews.com’sObama’s True Foreign Policy ‘Weakness.’”]

But Nuland is a foreign policy force of her own, considered by some in Washington to be the up-and-coming “star” at the State Department. By organizing the “regime change” in Ukraine – with the violent overthrow of democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 – Nuland also earned her spurs as an accomplished neocon.

Nuland has even outdone her husband, who may get “credit” for the Iraq War and the resulting chaos, but Nuland did him one better, instigating Cold War II and reviving hostilities between nuclear-armed Russia and the United States. After all, that’s where the really big money will go – toward modernizing nuclear arsenals and ordering top-of-the-line strategic weaponry.

A Family Business

There’s also a family-business aspect to these wars and confrontations, since the Kagans collectively serve not just to start conflicts but to profit from grateful military contractors who kick back a share of the money to the think tanks that employ the Kagans.

For instance, Robert’s brother Frederick works at the American Enterprise Institute, which has long benefited from the largesse of the Military-Industrial Complex, and his wife Kimberly runs her own think tank called the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

According to ISW’s annual reports, its original supporters were mostly right-wing foundations, such as the Smith-Richardson Foundation and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, but it was later backed by a host of national security contractors, including major ones like General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and CACI, as well as lesser-known firms such as DynCorp International, which provided training for Afghan police, and Palantir, a technology company founded with the backing of the CIA’s venture-capital arm, In-Q-Tel. Palantir supplied software to U.S. military intelligence in Afghanistan.

Since its founding in 2007, ISW has focused mostly on wars in the Middle East, especially Iraq and Afghanistan, including closely cooperating with Gen. David Petraeus when he commanded U.S. forces in those countries. However, more recently, ISW has begun reporting extensively on the civil war in Ukraine. [See Consortiumnews.com’sNeocons Guided Petraeus on Afghan War.”]

So, to understand the enduring influence of the neocons – and the Kagan clan, in particular – you have to appreciate the money connections between the business of war and the business of selling war. When the military contractors do well, the think tanks that advocate for heightened global tensions do well, too.

And, it doesn’t hurt to have friends and family inside the government making sure that policymakers do their part to give war a chance — and to give peace the old heave-ho.

[For more on this topic, see Consortiumnews.com’sA Family Business of Perpetual War.”]

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

July 20, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US/Israeli/Saudi ‘Behavior’ Problems

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | July 15, 2015

There is a madness in how the mainstream U.S. media presents the world to the American people, a delusional perspective that arguably creates an existential threat to humanity’s survival. We have seen this pattern in the biased depiction of the Ukraine crisis and now in how Official Washington is framing the debate over the Iranian nuclear agreement.

In this American land of make-believe, Iran is assailed as the chief instigator of instability in the Middle East. Yet, any sane and informed person would dispute that assessment, noting the far greater contributions made by Israel, Saudi Arabia and, indeed, the United States.

Israel’s belligerence, including frequently attacking its Arab neighbors and brutally repressing the Palestinians, has roiled the region for almost 70 years. Not to mention that Israel is a rogue nuclear state that has been hiding a sophisticated atomic-bomb arsenal.

An objective observer also would note that Saudi Arabia has been investing its oil wealth for generations to advance the fundamentalist Wahhabi sect of Sunni Islam, which has inspired terrorist groups from Al Qaeda to the Islamic State. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 were identified as Saudis and the U.S. government is still concealing those 28 pages of the congressional 9/11 inquiry regarding Saudi financing of Al Qaeda terrorists.

The Saudis also have participated directly and indirectly in regional wars, including encouragement of Iraq’s invasion of Iran in 1980, support for Al Qaeda-affiliate Nusra Front’s subversion of Syria, and the current Saudi bombardment of Yemen, killing hundreds of civilians, touching off a humanitarian crisis and helping Al Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate expand its territory.

U.S. Meddling

Then there’s the United States, which has been meddling in the Middle East overtly and covertly for a very long time, including one of the CIA’s first covert operations, the overthrow of Iran’s elected government in 1953, and one of U.S. foreign policy’s biggest overt blunders, President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003.

The Iran coup engendered a deep-seated hatred and suspicion of the U.S. government among Iranians that extends to the present day. And, the Iraq invasion not only spread death and destruction across Iraq but has spilled over into Syria, where U.S. “allies” – Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel – have been seeking another “regime change” that is being spearheaded by Sunni terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and the Islamic State.

The U.S. government has further aided in the destabilization of the region by flooding U.S. “allies” with powerful military equipment, including aircraft that both Israel and Saudi Arabia have used to bomb neighboring countries.

Yet, in the fantasy land that is Official Washington, the politicians and pundits decry “Iranian aggression,” parroting the propaganda theme dictated by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he spoke before an adoring audience of senators and congressmen at a joint session of Congress on March 3.

This Iranian “bad behavior” includes helping the Iraqi government withstand brutal attacks by the Islamic State and assisting the Syrian government in blocking a major victory for Islamic terrorism that would follow the fall of Damascus. Iran is also being blamed for the Houthi uprising in Yemen although most informed observers believe the Iranian influence and assistance are minimal.

In other words, the neoconservatives who dominate Official Washington’s “group think” may detest Iran’s regional activities since they are not in line with Israeli (and Saudi) desires, but less ideological analysts might conclude that – on balance – Iran is contributing to the stability of the region or at least helping to avert the worst outcomes.

A Lost Mind

The question becomes: Has Official Washington so lost its collective mind that it actually favors Al Qaeda or the Islamic State raising the black flag of Islamic terrorism over Damascus and even Baghdad? Is Iranian assistance in averting such a calamity such a terrible thing?

Apparently yes. Here’s how The Washington Post’s foreign affairs honcho David Ignatius – in a column entitled “Will Tehran Behave?” – describes the geopolitical situation following Tuesday’s signing of a deal to tightly constrain Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for lifting sanctions:

“The problem isn’t the agreement but Iran itself. Its behavior remains defiantly belligerent, even as it signs an accord pledging to be peaceful. Its operatives subvert neighboring regimes, even as their front companies are about to be removed from the sanctions lists. The agreement welcomes Iran to the community of nations, even though its leader proclaims that Iran is a revolutionary cause.

“Obama argues that dealing with a menacing Iran will be easier if the nuclear issue is off the table for the next 10 years. He’s probably right, but the Iran problem won’t vanish with this accord. Iranian behavior in the region becomes the core issue. Having played the dealmaker, Obama must now press Iran to become a more responsible neighbor.”

By the way, I always thought that the United States proclaimed itself “a revolutionary cause.” But here is Ignatius, who is regarded as a “big thinker,” setting the parameters of the acceptable debate about the Iran nuclear deal. It’s all about Iran’s “behavior.”

Ignatius even quotes Netanyahu decrying the danger that, after 10 years, the agreement will give Iran “a sure path to nuclear weapons.” Of course, Ignatius doesn’t bother to note that Israel already has taken its own path to nuclear weapons. That context is almost never mentioned.

Nor does Ignatius admit how he and many of his fellow pundits supported Bush’s invasion of Iraq, which in a normal, parallel universe would disqualify Ignatius and his friends from lecturing anyone about how to “behave.” But in today’s Official Washington, a pre-war endorsement of the Iraq disaster is not a disqualifier but a prerequisite for being taken seriously.

Similarly, The Washington Post’s editorial page, which in 2002-03 eagerly backed Bush’s invasion and routinely asserted as flat fact that Iraq possessed hidden WMD stockpiles, now says the real risk in the Iran deal is, you guessed it, “Iranian behavior.”

The Post says the deal could unleash “a dangerous threshold nuclear state that poses a major threat to the United States and its allies.” And, the Post warns that Iran’s “leaders will probably use” the money from the sanctions relief “to finance wars and terrorist groups in Iraq, Syria, the Gaza Strip, Yemen and elsewhere.”

Step into Crazy Land

Again, to appreciate the Post’s thinking, you have to step into crazy land. In the real Iraq and the real Syria, the Iranians are supporting internationally recognized governments battling against terrorist groups, Al Qaeda’s affiliate and the Islamic State.

In Yemen, Iranian involvement is probably minor at most. Plus, the Houthis are not a terrorist group, but rather an indigenous popular movement that has been fighting Al Qaeda’s terrorist affiliate in Yemen.

While it’s not clear what the Post thinks that Iran is doing in the Gaza Strip, which is under a tight Israeli military blockade, only fully committed neocons would think that the long-suffering people of the Gaza Strip don’t deserve some outside help.

Still, the larger issue for the American people is what to do with this insane political-media system that dominates Official Washington. Either these powers-that-be are detached from reality or they are deceitful propagandists who think they can manipulate us with lies and distortions.

Yet, by creating a false reality, whether from madness or cynicism, this system guides the nation into terrible decision-making. And, given the immense military power of the United States, this long national detour into a dark psychosis of delusion must be addressed or the future of humankind will be put into serious jeopardy.

~

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

July 16, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The World Rebukes Netanyahu

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | July 14, 2015

In a rare rebuke to his bullying, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to stop the United States and five other world powers from reaching an agreement to constrain but not eliminate Iran’s nuclear program. Yet, Netanyahu still is dominating how the U.S. public and congressional debate is being framed, with Iran accused of regional “aggression” in four countries.

On Tuesday, a recurring theme on U.S. news broadcasts, such as Andrea Mitchell’s MSNBC program, was that any lifting of economic sanctions against Iran will give it more money to engage in trouble-making in the Middle East with references to four nations – Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen – a central theme in Netanyahu’s speech on March 3 to a joint session of the U.S. Congress.

To repeated standing ovations from U.S. senators and congressmen, Netanyahu declared: “In the Middle East, Iran now dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa. And if Iran’s aggression is left unchecked, more will surely follow. So, at a time when many hope that Iran will join the community of nations, Iran is busy gobbling up the nations. We must all stand together to stop Iran’s march of conquest, subjugation and terror.”

Netanyahu’s reference to “Iran’s aggression,” which is now becoming a conventional-wisdom talking point in Official Washington, was curious since Iran has not invaded another country for centuries. In 1980, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq – at the urging of Saudi Arabia – invaded Iran. But Iran has not invaded any of the four countries that Netanyahu cited.

One of Netanyahu’s citations of Arab cities supposedly conquered by Iran was particularly strange: Baghdad, which is the capital of Iraq where the U.S. military invaded in 2003 to overthrow Saddam Hussein and his Sunni-dominated government, on Netanyahu’s recommendation. In other words, Iraq was conquered not by Iranian “aggression” but by U.S. aggression with the support of Israel.

After the Iraq invasion, President George W. Bush installed a Shiite-dominated government which then developed friendly ties to Iran’s Shiite government. So, whatever influence Iran has in Baghdad is the result of a U.S. invasion that Netanyahu personally encouraged.

More recently, Iran has helped the embattled Iraqi government in its struggle against the murderous Islamic State militants who seized large swaths of Iraqi territory last summer. Indeed, Iraqi officials have credited Iran with playing a crucial role in blunting the Islamic State, the terrorists whom President Barack Obama has identified as one of the top security threats facing the United States.

So, in the current Iraqi fight against the head-chopping Islamic State, Iran and the United States are on the same side. Yet, Netanyahu calls Iran’s help “aggression” – and American talking heads repeat that refrain.

Netanyahu also cited Damascus, where Iran has aided the Syrian government in its struggle against the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front. That means that Iran is assisting the internationally recognized government of Syria hold off two major terrorist organizations. By contrast, Israel and Saudi Arabia have provided direct and indirect help at least to Nusra. [See Consortiumnews.com’sDid Money Seal Israel-Saudi Alliance?”]

The Israeli prime minister also mentioned Beirut, Lebanon, and Sanaa, Yemen, but those were rather bizarre references, too, since Lebanon is governed by a multi-ethnic arrangement that includes a number of religious and political factions. Hezbollah is one and it has close ties to Iran, but it is stretching the truth to say that Iran “dominates” Beirut or Lebanon.

Similarly, in Sanaa, the Houthis, a Shiite-related sect, have taken control of Yemen’s capital and have reportedly received some help from Iran, but the Houthis deny those reports and are clearly far from under Iranian control. The Houthis also have vowed to work with the Americans to carry on the fight against Yemen’s Al-Qaeda affiliate, which has benefitted from a brutal Saudi bombing campaign against Houthi targets, an act of real aggression that has killed hundreds of civilians and provoked a humanitarian crisis.

Indeed, Iran and these various Shiite-linked movements have been among the most effective in battling Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State, while Israel’s Saudi friends have been repeatedly linked to funding and supporting these Sunni terrorist organizations.

So, there is little truth and much exaggeration to Netanyahu’s depiction of what is going on in the Middle East. Yet, the U.S. mainstream media mindlessly reprises Netanyahu’s falsehood about Iran “gobbling up” nations.

~

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

July 14, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 5 Comments

The complementary tactics of Israel and the UNHRC

By Ramona Wadi | MEMO | June 30, 2015

It seems as if Israel is about to regurgitate the script which reads that it is debating whether or not to retain its membership in the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Following the publication of the council’s inquiry report on last year’s Operation Protective Edge, which deemed that both Israel and Palestinian resistance factions may have committed war crimes, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared, during a closed meeting held on Monday, that a re-evaluation of Israel’s membership of the UN organisation will take place. “As a result of the report, we will consider whether to remain or to leave the council,” he was quoted by the Times of Israel.

The UNHRC report, which Israel slammed as biased, employed the usual diplomatic jargon that absolved, rather than accused, the settler-colonial state of war-crimes, despite the extensive destruction, targeted killings and massacres committed by the Israeli military in Gaza last summer (and on previous occasions).

In March 2012, former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced the decision to cut ties with the UNHRC, citing Palestinian “diplomatic terrorism” when the council announced a probe into Israel’s settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. The move was supported by the US, which was the only country that had voted against the UN proposal to investigate Israel’s illegal colonial expansion. Since then, Israel has utilised the UNHRC as part of its propaganda campaign to enhance its self-victimisation; an extension of what Zionism has accomplished historically to embark upon the colonisation process in Palestine.

Last week, Netanyahu uttered ridiculous words that portray clearly the extent of Israel’s contempt even for those organisations that do everything in their power to exonerate Israel through language that is based upon hypothesis: “The report is biased. Israel is not perpetrating war crimes but rather protecting itself from an organisation that carries out war crimes.”

Israel’s fabricated state is built upon a constant litany of war crimes, necessitating violence to sustain its existence, as well as the presence of international organisations that pretend colonialism has been rendered obsolete. As for bias, one need only take note of how the UNHRC attempted to criminalise Palestinian resistance, aiming to propagate an illusion of near-parity in military power between the world’s 4th best equipped army and civilians with not a tank or aircraft to their name. The obviously asymmetric nature of the conflict resulted in a much higher death toll of Palestinian men, women and children due to Israel’s persistent bombardment of Gaza.

The report’s publication has simply confirmed all that unravelled before our eyes during last year’s colonial massacre, albeit leaving space for manipulation in order to retain Israel’s untouchable status. Israel’s pondering whether or not to remain in the council is nothing new. Rather, it should be viewed as another, integral, part of its colonial project, as well as wilful subjugation on behalf of the international community. With every sliver of condemnation, despite the absence of severe repercussions, Israel embarks upon creating hypothetical conflicts which always result in it reaping rewards for its aggression against the Palestinian people.

Whether Israel remains in the council or not is irrelevant. On the contrary, the focus should be on the failure of the UN and other organisations to act according to international law and hold Israel’s very existence accountable for the horrors it has perpetrated against the indigenous population. However, that would require the UN to unravel its disseminated myths, including its denial of the existence of Zionist colonisation, which would in turn deal a blow to an organisation thriving upon the permanence of violence and murder.

June 30, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Crunch Time with Iran Let’s push back against Israel’s friends and avoid a war

Philip Giraldi • Unz Review • June 30, 2015

It now appears that the longest drawn out negotiations in history since the Treaty of Westphalia ended the Thirty Years War will again be prorogued. I am, of course, referring to the P5+1 talks in Vienna seeking to come up with a peaceful resolution to the problem of Iran’s nonexistent nuclear weapons program. Today represents the third deadline as the negotiations have already been extended twice, ostensibly to permit further discussion of details of timing for the lifting of sanctions as well as verification and inspection procedures.

I refer to a “nonexistent” program as the frequently cited intelligence suggesting that a weapon was being developed has turned out to be based on forgeries provided by the Israelis. Currently, both the CIA and Mossad agree that no such program exists though both Washington and Tel Aviv persist in suggesting that Iran might change its mind and therefore must not even be able to develop relevant technologies in the future.

In theory an agreement should have been reached long ago as the two basic elements are well understood: Iran wants an end to sanctions and the United States plus its negotiating partners want a verifiable end to existing and potential programs in Iran that could possibly produce a nuclear weapon. The devil would appear to be in the details but that is not necessarily the case as the real problem is political. The talks have in fact been subject to a relentless media campaign by Israel and its friends in the U.S. to derail any possible agreement, to include a number of appearances by none other than Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before both the United Nations and the U.S. Congress. Netanyahu has been warning that an Iranian weapon is imminent since 1996 and he has even produced a cartoon showing a bomb with a ticking fuse to illustrate his thinking on the issue.

The intensity of the anti-Iran campaign has increased to a boiling point as the end of June deadline has approached, to include full page ads in newspapers and a rash of editorials, op-eds and letters to the editor. If you read an article about the negotiations on an unmoderated site like yahoo you will see numerous comments trashing Iran using the same misspellings and phrases, suggesting that they originate in the banks of paid students organized and directed by the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

In order to avoid constantly rehashing the same material, the well-funded and highly creative exploration of Persian perfidy has meant in practice that the media and punditry are constantly raising new issues that have nothing to do with the nuclear weapons themselves. These have included demanding that a contrite Iran confess that it once sought a weapon, addressing the state of possible missile delivery systems in the discussions, assessing Iran’s intentions as a regional power, critiquing the country’s human rights record and examining Tehran’s support of organizations that critics choose to describe as terroristic. Congress is on record calling for the prevention of Iran’s “capability” to construct a weapon, a threshold that it already has passed. Presidential wannabe Senator Marco Rubio has even demanded that Iran recognize “Israel’s right to exist.” The latest wrinkle is to insist on assurances over what might happen in ten years’ time when any agreement negotiated currently will presumably expire.

Assuming that the neocons’ other pet projects to go to war with Russia and eventually also China do not actually materialize and that we will all still be here in a decade, it has to be recognized that what is occurring in Vienna this week is already a war. On one side are the serious players, including Secretary of State John Kerry acting for the president as well as the Russians, Germans, Chinese, British and French, all of whom understand that no agreement leaves armed conflict as the only remaining option. They realize that a major explosion in the Persian Gulf would be disastrous for all parties and potentially even for the world economy. On the other side are the naysayers from Israel and its formidable amen section, deeply embedded in the media and among politicians at all levels. Many believe that, as Israel firster mega billionaire Sheldon Adelson has recommended, all Iran really needs is an admonitory nuclear strike to show the Mullahs that we are serious about the military option.

As in any war it is important to know what the enemy is doing. That generally requires massive mobilization of resources to collect intelligence, but in this case we are fortunate in that our enemies write for the Washington Post, The Weekly Standard and the Wall Street Journal when they are not, collectively speaking, busy appearing on the Sunday morning talk shows and on Fox.

My favorite Queen of Mean among the pro-Israel shock troops is Jennifer Rubin, who writes a blog appropriately labeled “Right Turn” for the Washington Post. In previous incarnations before she found her niche with editorial page chief Fred Hiatt at the Post Jennifer wrote for neocon house organs Commentary, Human Events and Bill Kristol’s The Weekly Standard. Jenn has ungraciously referred to President Barack Obama as the “most anti-Israel president ever.” Ben Smith at Politico describes her as “caustic and single minded” possessing an “intense and combative interest in foreign affairs and politics in general, and in Israel in particular – the sole bumper sticker on her gray Honda Pilot reads, “JERUSALEM IS NOT A SETTLEMENT. It’s Israel’s Eternal And Undivided Capital.” A recent comment on one of her pieces observed “Science is wrong. The world revolves around Israel. Jennifer knows it to be true. Bibi told her.”

Rubin writes about Iran frequently. Between June 16th and the 26th she penned no less than seven articles attacking the Mullahs – “Obama ignores Iran’s human rights atrocities,” “The Iran missile mistake,” “Democrats, Republicans, neutral experts reject Iran sellout,” “The Iran debacle unfolds,” “Iran appeasement relies on self-delusion,” “Can these forces stop a rotten Iran deal?” and “Iran sanctions back on the table.” All of her writing on Iran beats to death the same theme, i.e. that Iranians are both evil and liars and are out to destroy Israel. Driven by her obsession with Israel, she is constantly at work finding connections and seeing things that the rest of us cannot discern, appreciating as she does that there is always an Israeli angle as well as an evil Muslim narrative hidden somewhere as long as one looks long and hard enough. One of her most recent gems “Can these forces stop a rotten Iran deal?”, which appeared on June 25th, does a good job recounting recent commentary by all her friends in the Israel Lobby who are opposing a nuclear deal, which to her mind represents objective opinion. As is always the case, I searched in vain for any real evidence that Iran in any way threatens the United States but that does not appear to be on her agenda. She does, however, quote a number of Israeli politicians.

And Rubin is far from a lonely voice crying in the wilderness. The New York Times featured a story last Wednesday revealing that “former members of President Obama’s inner circle of Iran advisers” had written a letter advising caution on the possible Iran agreement. The article describes in some detail the objections of Dennis Ross, David Petraeus, Robert Einhorn, Gary Samore, Stephen Hadley and General James E. Cartwright. The signatories, who are accepted at face value in the article, should give one pause. Ross is chairman of the Jewish People Policy Institute (which opposes intermarriage of Jews with non-Jews) and has been described as “Israel’s lawyer” while Hadley, a National Security Adviser for George W. Bush, believes that Iran is intent on dominating much of the Middle East and has a nuclear program that “…is a complex threat to international peace and stability.” Einhorn, who helped “devise and enforce the sanctions against Iran,” and Gary Samore have been persistent critics of the ongoing negotiations. Samore is a fixture at the Harvard Belfer Center, a neocon stronghold, and heads United Against Nuclear Iran. Petraeus is probably the best known of the signatories but I will leave it up to the reader to judge his integrity.

If one were looking for someone who might just entertain the thought that Iran has a legitimate point of view it would not be found in the letter nor in the Times coverage. But the most astonishing thing about the article is what the editors chose not to mention, an omission that would appear to constitute deliberate obfuscation of the letter’s intent. The Times notes towards the end of the article that the letter was commissioned by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), but it does not reveal that WINEP is a spin-off of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). AIPAC is an organization that is de facto opposed to any agreement with Iran that is not endorsed by Benjamin Netanyahu, which means no deal at all.

Interestingly, Israel is not mentioned even once in the letter nor in the Times coverage of it even though it certainly loomed large in the mind of Ross in particular and likely for all of the other co-authors. One might also note that the arguments against the possible agreement made by the signatories is based on the reader’s acceptance of the view that Iran is some kind of global threat, though they make no attempt to explain how that is so and they also assume that its rulers are not to be trusted without an intrusive inspection regime directed against all military facilities in the country, something that no government anywhere could possibly accept. The five signatories of the letter all claim to support a negotiated settlement with Iran but they are just not happy with what Obama has come up with, which is a characteristic line for many of those who in reality want no agreement at all.

Finally, in a completely bizarre instance of the Israel Lobby’s unwillingness to miss any opportunity in its campaign against Iran, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft traveled to Israel last week with an entourage of 20 Hall of Fame football players. They met with Prime Minister Netanyahu who lectured the players, attired in their Hall of Fame gold Jackets, all about Iran by using a football metaphor: “Iran is one yard away from the goal line. If they get nukes, the preeminent terrorist regime of our day will be armed with nuclear weapons. That’s dangerous for the United States and for Israel and for the entire world. And our effort today is to make sure that we block them and push them back.” The appreciative players gave Bibi a game jersey, a helmet and a signed football in return.

And so the enormous smear campaign against Iran goes on, though I suppose we can always hope that Obama will show a little intestinal fortitude and go ahead with an agreement. I will most certainly never watch the New England Patriots again, but I made that decision some time ago based on their win at any cost ethos. Indeed, since the Israel Lobby is very much in the game of punishing critics as it is doing with its odious website Canary Mission perhaps it is past time for a little pushback coming from Americans who would like to take their government back. Folks like myself who object to the Lobby’s overweening influence over our foreign policy might initiate personal boycotts of the products and business interests of those billionaires who are the most enthusiastic supporters of Benjamin Netanyahu and who are the enablers of Israel’s crimes against humanity. It would be partial payback for nearly seventy years of systematic abuse of America’s true interests. Don’t attend their sporting activities, don’t buy their products, don’t watch their films and don’t stay in their hotels or play in their casinos. Such a reckoning would certainly include people like Robert Kraft, Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, as well as Hollywood moguls Haim Saban and Arnon Milchan. Milchan notoriously spied against the U.S. for Israel and is still walking around free, which I don’t quite get. I won’t suggest any additional names but other over the top friends of Likudnik Israel are easily identifiable through Google. As the Mikado’s Lord High Executioner once put it, “I’ve got a little list.”

June 30, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UNHRC report restricts Palestinian anti-colonial struggle

By Ramona Wadi | MEMO | June 23, 2015

Following its insensitive and macabre efforts to downplay the repercussions and atrocities of Operation Protective Edge, Israel has now attempted to ridicule the UN Human Rights Council report on last summer’s aggression. The report, which Israel pronounced as “morally flawed”, has accused both Israel and Palestinian resistance groups of war crimes, contradicting Israel’s “internal investigation” that justified every intentionally targeted civilian death as collateral damage and thus, bequeathing impunity to the state’s false morality conjectures.

While drawing attention to state complicity with regard to war crimes committed by Israel, the report employs the same non-committal rhetoric that shifts evidence towards the realm of probability. “Directing attacks against civilians constitutes a violation of the principle of distinction and may amount to a war crime.” Such statements indicate that the report’s value will probably serve as some form of heightened awareness and confirmation of the massacre that took place last summer but fail to provide a foundation with which to hold Israel accountable for its premeditated actions.

A statement released by the Israeli Foreign Minister criticised the UNHRC report, stating it was “commissioned by a notoriously biased institution, given an obviously biased mandate.” Additionally, the statement attempts to reinforce the internationally-adopted drivel that seeks to create a false dimension of morality and terror. Quoted in the Times of Israel, the Israeli Foreign Ministry statement reads: “It is regrettable that the report fails to recognise the profound difference between Israel’s moral behaviour during Operation Protective Edge and the terror organisations it confronted.”

So moral, in fact, that the report juxtaposes widespread destruction, displacement and murder committed by the Israeli army, against the “trauma” allegedly endured by Israeli settlers of siren sounds and fear of being “attacked at any moment by gunmen bursting out of the ground” – the latter with reference to the tunnel network utilised by Palestinian resistance and which was annihilated by Israel in its quest to prevent Palestinians from making legitimate use of their territory within historic Palestine.

Predictably, Israel deemed the report biased, despite its refusal to participate and cooperate with the commission during its investigations. Netanyahu has instead accused the UNHRC of slander – a predictable response that is well ingrained in Israel’s international repertoire and also rendered evident in recent altercations with the organisation.

It is disconcerting, albeit expected, to observe that the UNHRC’s use of language falls into the same confines of affirming war crimes yet at the same time allowing Israel to navigate the obscure parameters that still provide impunity. This is particularly evident in the report’s recommendations to Israel, the Palestinian Authority, as well Palestinian resistance movements. Calling upon Israel to abide by international law when its very existence is an infringement of that law renders the recommendations ludicrous, allowing Israel the opportunity to colonise further territory as long as certain requirements and definitions are implemented.

Conversely, the UNHRC report expects Palestinians to relinquish their anti-colonial struggle – in other words, “to stop all rocket attacks and other actions that may spread terror among Israeli civilians.” The UNHRC report is indeed biased, yet employs hypocritical subtlety in order to disguise its role as part of the international agenda that makes no distinction between civilians and a settler population willingly complicit in Israeli state violence.

June 24, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Reflections on the Delegitimization of Israel

By JOHN V. WHITBECK | CounterPunch | June 8, 2015

June 5 marked the 48th anniversary of the “preemptive” attack on Egypt with which Israel launched the fateful “Six-Day War” that permitted the Zionist movement to complete its conquest of historical Palestine.

As the “State of Palestine” (the legal designation for the 22% of historical Palestine conquered in 1967, which is now recognized as a state by 136 other states and the United Nations) enters its 49th year of an apparently perpetual occupation by the State of Israel, the Israeli government and its friends in the United States are mobilizing to fight a new war – a “Legitimacy War” against the “delegitimization” of “Israel”.

The quotation marks around “Israel” are intended to emphasize a fundamental point: When Israelis and their friends speak of the “delegitimization” of Israel or of Israel’s “right to exist”, they are not referring to the legitimacy or continued existence of any physical territory or of any group of people. They are referring to the legitimacy or continued existence of the particular ethno-religious-supremacist political system established in 1948 on the territory previously named Palestine, a territory in which the current population is roughly 50% Jewish and 50% Palestinian.

Why has “delegitimization” suddenly become such an existential threat to “Israel”?

Until relatively recently, very few people seriously questioned the continued existence of “Israel” – either because they considered the ethnic cleansing of Palestine and the dispossession and dispersal of the Palestinian people to make room for a “Jewish State” to be a good thing or because they considered it, like the genocide of the indigenous peoples of North America to make room for European colonists and their African slaves, to be a irreversible injustice, not worth thinking about any more.

Until relatively recently, the world’s attention has been focused on ending the occupation of the portion of Palestine conquered in 1967, in large part because that more recent injustice was assumed to be reversible through a “two-state solution”.

However, as Israeli leaders have become more honest and explicit about the perpetual nature of their occupation of the State of Palestine and about their deeply held belief that there is no difference between the portion of Palestine conquered in 1948 and the portion of Palestine conquered in 1967, both being their god’s gift to them and to them alone, the world’s attention has begun to broaden, both regarding the possibilities of the future and regarding the realities of the past.

In the face of the clear Israeli intention to maintain the current undemocratic and discriminatory system of “one state with two systems”, many people have started to look again at the seminal injustice, the original sin, of 1948 and at the inherent nature of political Zionism and to think seriously about the desirability of reforming and transforming ethno-religious-supremacist “Israel” into a fully democratic state with equal rights and human dignity for all who live there – the same political system which Western governments profess and proclaim to be the ideal form of government for all other states.

Of course, nothing would be more likely to make Israelis question the sustainability of their very comfortable status quo and become seriously interested in actually achieving a decent “two-state solution” than a realization that both Western public opinion and Western governments are starting to question both the “rightness” of how “Israel” came into existence and the legitimacy in the 21st century of an ethno-religious-supremacist regime, whether it calls itself “the Jewish State” or “the Islamic State”.

Hence the sudden rise of the existential threat of the “delegitimization” of “Israel”.

No one has done more to delegitimize “Israel” in the eyes of the world than Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Perhaps those who seek equal rights, equal human dignity and some measure of justice, whether in two states or in one, should hope that Mr. Netanyahu keeps up his good work in the “Legitimacy War”.

John V. Whitbeck is an international lawyer who as advised the Palestinian negotiating team in negotiations with Israel.

June 8, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Netanyahu and Reality

By ROBERT FANTINA | CounterPunch | June 5, 2015

This writer has commented before on the increasing desperation of Israel to cling to some sense of legitimacy, as it continues policies of racism, oppression and genocide. Any nation indulging in such horrific practices, as Israel does against any and all minorities within its internationally-questioned borders, and of Palestinians outside those borders, cannot expect to be a respected member of the global community.

This desperation was in full evidence on May 30, when Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu spoke against those that he said were attempting to sully the good name of Israel, for nefarious purposes of their own. The Prime Murderer made some amazing statements in his speech. Just a few lines will show the Israeli departure from reality that began in 1947, but has reached astronomical levels today. Said Mr. Netanyahu:

“We are in the midst of a great struggle being waged against the state of Israel, an international campaign to blacken its name.

“It is not connected to our actions; it is connected to our very existence. It does not matter what we do; it matters what we symbolize and what we are.

“I think that it is important to understand that these things do not stem from the fact that if only we were nicer or a little more generous — we are very generous, we have made many offers, we have made many concessions — that anything would change because this campaign to delegitimize Israel entails something much deeper that is being directed at us and seeks to deny our very right to live here”.

Can we put on our thinking caps and dissect these few sentences?

“We are in the midst of a great struggle being waged against the state of Israel, an international campaign to blacken its name.”

No, Mr. Netanyahu, the campaign isn’t to blacken the name of Israel, it is merely to expose the blackness of that name. Publicizing crimes against humanity helps to do so; by committing those crimes for 60 years, Israel’s name is already ‘blackened’.

“It is not connected to our actions; it is connected to our very existence. It does not matter what we do; it matters what we symbolize and what we are.”

One has to take a moment to wonder about the color of the sky on the planet on which Mr. Netanyahu apparently lives. Do Israelis really buy this? Is there anyone on planet Earth who does not know that the increasing ostracism of Israel is based entirely on its actions? We will counsel the Prime Murder yet again: it does indeed matter what you do. Bulldozing homes, killing innocent people, calling them less than human, saying they should all be killed – these are objectionable to the vast number of global citizens who are now taking notice.

In a sense, Mr. Netanyahu does make a point: Israel today symbolizes injustice, genocide, cruelty and barbarism, and is the face of apartheid. So, in part, it is what Israel has come to symbolize that motivates people to boycott it.

“I think that it is important to understand that these things do not stem from the fact that if only we were nicer or a little more generous — we are very generous, we have made many offers, we have made many concessions — that anything would change because this campaign to delegitimize Israel entails something much deeper that is being directed at us and seeks to deny our very right to live here”.

It is this final statement that leads this writer to conclude that Mr. Netanyahu and his minions in Israel and the United States Congress are in need of significant psychological assistance. Let’s look at the ‘niceness’ and ‘generosity’ of Israel:

* Bulldozing the homes of Palestinians, to make room for illegal settlements;

* Displacing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in order to make room for illegal Israeli settlers;

* Shooting Palestinian teenagers in the back, crimes captured on video camera and shown around the world;

* Establishing checkpoints, at which Israeli soldiers even prevent women in labor from passing, as they are attempting to rush to the hospital, not to mention preventing tens of thousands of people from getting to work, school, stores, or simply visiting friends or family;

* Carpet-bombing the Gaza Strip;

* Blockading the Gaza Strip, preventing building materials and other basic supplies from entering;

* Shooting fishermen off Gaza’s coast;

* Discriminating against Africans and Arabs who live within Israel’s dubious borders;

* Building roads that only Israelis can use; if such a road crosses a Palestinian road, Palestinians are not able to drive across it.

The list goes on, but in the interest of time and space, we will allow this to suffice.

And now let us take a peek at the ‘many concessions’ Israel has made:

Will negotiate with Palestine, while continuing land theft and settlement construction.

Regarding the statement that the ever-growing boycott of Israel is to ‘deny our very right to live here,’ is it not true that Israel denies Palestinians their very right to live on their ancestral lands? Oh, but we must remember that members of Mr. Netanyahu’s new cabinet have said that Palestinians are less than human, so in the context of Israeli thought, they can be discounted.

The U.S. government is poised to greatly increase its foreign aid to Israel, apparently to soothe the fractured Israeli ego, an injury caused by the U.S. and other countries participating in peaceful negotiations with Iran. This will provide Israel with more weaponry to kill Palestinians, which will only serve to increase the boycott. This effort has not slowed down. On June 2, the seventh annual, so-called Israel Defense Expo, carried on without the usual participation of some European countries, most notably the United Kingdom and France. Israeli Foreign Ministry officials have been quoted as saying that there is a ‘diplomatic tsunami’ hitting that apartheid nation, and fending it off will be a very difficult task.

In reality, the task is not difficult. If Israel were to adhere to international law, the boycott would end, and Israel could take its place alongside Palestine in the world community. But that is not the plan: Israel’s goal is the complete annihilation of Palestine, and although it is increasingly clear to the world that that will not be accomplished, Israel will not easily accept that fact. So boycotts by individuals, universities, performers and nations will have to clarify it for Israel, as they did for South Africa a generation ago. The U.S. may be left behind, but Palestine will be free. And if it takes the delegitimization of Israel to do it, so be it. The decision is Israel’s, and it appears from its behaviors that that is its choice.

Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).

June 5, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , | Leave a comment

Embracing the Saudi War on Yemen

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | April 25, 2015

As the humanitarian crisis in Yemen worsens, the Obama administration seems less concerned about the plight of the desperate Yemeni people than the feelings of the Saudi royals who have spent the last month indiscriminately bombing a nearly defenseless Yemen, using high-tech U.S. jets and bombs to reportedly kill hundreds of civilians and damage its ancient cities.

On Friday, the Obama administration took credit for blocking nine Iranian ships from reaching Yemen with relief supplies, claiming that the ships may have carried weapons that the Yemenis could use in their civil war or to defend against Saudi attacks. President Barack Obama had dispatched a U.S. aircraft carrier fleet to the Yemeni coast to enforce an embargo that has helped the Saudis seal off the country from outside help.

A person closely involved with the Yemen crisis told me that the Iranian ships carried food and medicine, not weapons, but turned back to avoid the risk and humiliation of being boarded by the U.S. Navy. Meanwhile, Yemen, already one of the poorest countries in the Arab world, is facing shortages of basic supplies since the Saudis have cut off normal trade routes into Yemen.

Yet, despite the suffering of Yemen, the U.S. government appears more worried about the sensitivities of Saudi Arabia, one of the richest countries in the region. A Defense Department official, speaking anonymously, told the New York Times that it was “important that the Saudis know that we have an arm around their shoulders.”

Defense Department officials also acknowledged that they didn’t know what type of cargo was being transported aboard the Iranian ships, the Times reported. Though the Obama administration had touted the possibility that the Iranian ships carried weapons, the decision by Iran to avoid a confrontation may have reflected Tehran’s desire not to worsen relations with the United States and thus disrupt fragile negotiations over international guarantees to ensure that its nuclear program remains peaceful.

But the losers in this military/diplomatic maneuvering appear to be the Yemenis who, in effect, face a Saudi strategy of starving the country into submission with the help of the United States. While U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power built her public image as a “humanitarian interventionist” asserting a “responsibility to protect” vulnerable populations, she has said little about the Saudi role in Yemen’s humanitarian crisis.

In a statement on April 14, at the height of the Saudi bombing campaign, Power made no mention of the Saudi attacks or the hundreds of civilian dead from Saudi bombs supplied by the United States. She instead focused her denunciations on the Houthi rebels and former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh who have joined forces in a civil war that ousted sitting President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who then fled to Saudi Arabia.

Power primarily blamed the Houthis, who “have intensified their military campaign, bombed Aden, and extended their offensive to Yemen’s south. These actions have caused widespread violence and instability that threaten the security and welfare of the Yemeni people, as well as the region’s security.”

Though the Saudi air force has bombed a number of cities including the ancient port city of Aden, Power ignored those attacks in her statement. But Power was not alone in her solicitousness toward the Saudis. On Friday, Secretary of State John Kerry even endorsed the Saudi bombing of Houthi targets in Yemen.

Who Are the Houthis?

The Houthis adhere to the Zaydi sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam but one that is considered relatively close to Sunni Islam and that peacefully co-existed with Sunni Islam for centuries. But the Houthis have been resisting what they regard as government persecution in recent decades.

As revealed in leaked U.S. government cables and documented by Human Rights Watch, Yemen’s government used U.S. military aid to support an all-out assault against the Houthis in 2009. HRW said Yemeni government forces indiscriminately shelled and bombed civilian areas, causing significant civilian casualties and violating the laws of war. This repression of the Houthis led to an escalation last fall which ended with the Houthi rebels, who allied themselves with army forces loyal to ex-President Saleh, capturing Sanaa and other major cities.

After these victories, in private contacts with American officials, the Houthis indicated their readiness to take the fight to Al-Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate. However, since the Saudi airstrikes began a month ago, “Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula” has taken advantage of the limitations on Houthi rebel movements by grabbing more territory in the east and overrunning a prison that held a number of Al-Qaeda militants.

The Saudi royals have a complicated relationship with Al-Qaeda including some princes who are viewed as important financiers of the terror group. The Saudis also promote the same extremist interpretation of Sunni Islam, known as Wahhabism. Now, instead of concentrating on the terror threat from Al-Qaeda, the Saudis have sought to portray the Yemeni civil war as a proxy assault in Saudi Arabia’s backyard by Shiite-ruled Iran.

In that propaganda effort, the Saudis have been helped by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has relied on the powerful Israel Lobby and his own rhetoric to divert the U.S. Congress from a focus on Al-Qaeda and its hyper-brutal spinoff, the Islamic State, to Iran, which both Saudi Arabia and Israel have designated their primary regional enemy.

In his March 3 speech to a joint session of Congress, Netanyahu cited Yemen as one of the Mideast countries that Iran has been “gobbling up.” Many regional experts, however, considered Netanyahu’s assertion ludicrous given the Houthis’ reputation for stubborn independence.

For instance, former CIA official Graham E. Fuller called the notion “that the Houthis represent the cutting edge of Iranian imperialism in Arabia – as trumpeted by the Saudis” a “myth.” He added:

“The Zaydi Shia, including the Houthis, over history have never had a lot to do with Iran. But as internal struggles within Yemen have gone on, some of the Houthis have more recently been happy to take Iranian coin and perhaps some weapons — just as so many others, both Sunni and Shia, are on the Saudi payroll. The Houthis furthermore hate al-Qaeda and hate the Islamic State.”

But the Obama administration remains sensitive to Israeli-Saudi criticism of its efforts to negotiate a peaceful settlement of the Iranian nuclear dispute. So, to demonstrate that the Americans are comforting the Saudi royals with “an arm around their shoulders,” the U.S. government is embracing the Saudi bombardment of a largely defenseless country and is turning back ships carrying relief supplies.

~

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

April 25, 2015 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Real Nuclear Threat in the Middle East

By Sheldon Richman | Free Association | April 8, 2015

To get a sense of how badly the regime in Iran wants sanctions relief for the Iranian people, you have to do more than contemplate the major concessions it has made in negotiations with the United States and the rest of the P5+1. Not only is Iran willing to dismantle a major part of its peaceful civilian nuclear program, to submit to the most intrusive inspections, to redesign a reactor, to eliminate two-thirds of its centrifuges, to get rid of much of its enriched uranium, and to limit nuclear research — it must do all this while being harangued by the nuclear monopolist of the Middle EastIsrael — which remains, unlike Iran, a nonsigner of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and faces no inspections or limits on its production of nuclear weapons.

This is something out of Alice in Wonderland. The Islamic Republic of Iran, born in 1979, has not attacked another country. (With U.S. help, Iraq attacked Iran in 1980.) In contrast, Israel has attacked its Arab neighbors several times since its founding, including two devastating invasions and a long occupation of Lebanon, not to mention repeated onslaughts in the Gaza Strip and the military occupation of the West Bank. Israel has also repeatedly threatened war against Iran and engaged in covert and proxy warfare, including the assassination of scientists. Even with Iran progressing toward a nuclear agreement, Israel (like the United States) continues to threaten Iran.

Yet Iran is universally cast as the villain (with scant evidence) and Israel the vulnerable victim.

You’d never know that Iran favors turning the Middle East into a weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone (a nuclear-weapons-free zone was first proposed by the U.S.-allied shah of Iran and Egypt in 1974), and beyond that, Iran over a decade ago offered a “grand bargain” that contained provisions to reassure the world about its nuclear program and an offer to recognize Israel, specifically, acceptance of the Arab League’s 2002 peace initiative. The George W. Bush administration rebuffed Iran.

At the last NPT review conference in 2010, Iran renewed its support for the zone, the BBC reported at the time: “Tehran supports the ‘immediate and unconditional’ implementation of the 1995 resolution [to create the zone], declares the [then] president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”

The United States and Israel claim in principle to support having the Middle East free of nuclear weapons — but not just yet. The Israeli government said in 2010 that implementation of the principle could occur “only after peace agreements with all the countries in the region.” ABC News quoted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as saying that Israel might sign the NPT “if the Middle East one day advances to a messianic age where the lion lies down with the lambs.”

That is classic Netanyahu demagoguery. As noted, the Arab League in 2002 — and again in 2007offered to recognize Israel if it accepted a Palestinian state in the occupied territories and arrived at a “just solution to the Palestinian Refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194.” At that point the Arab countries would “consider the Arab-Israeli conflict ended, and enter into a peace agreement with Israel, and provide security for all the states of the region”; i.e., they would “establish normal relations with Israel in the context of this comprehensive peace.”

Thus Netanyahu’s position is a sham. He could have peace treaties in short order if he wanted to. But, as he said before the recent elections, he will never allow the Palestinians to have their own country.

For its part, the United States “broadly agrees with Israel that conditions for a nuclear-weapons-free-zone do not yet exist in the Middle East,” the BBC reported. In other words, the Obama administration slavishly takes the Israel-AIPAC line.

While politicians and pundits lose sleep over an Iranian nuclear-weapons program that does not exist — are they having nightmares of the United States being deterred by Iran? — they support Israel, the nuclear power that brutalizes a captive population, attacks its neighbors, threatens war against Iran, and refuses to talk peace with willing partners.

 

April 9, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who’s Playing “Hide and Cheat”?

By Sherwood Ross | Aletho News | April 5, 2015

The estimable McClatchy News Service says President Obama “scored a decisive win” by negotiating an agreement that “will prevent Iran from ever obtaining a nuclear weapon” and termed it “a personal triumph for the President.”

Not surprisingly, the painfully negotiated pact was denounced by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has repeatedly, and illegally, threatened Iran over its alleged desire to build an atomic bomb. But Obama’s rebuff of Netanyahu’s position was well deserved, given Israel’s record of stealing American military secrets and spying on private American talks with its allies.

If Iran had been guilty of such crimes, the American public would now be deaf from the outcry of the Republicans in Congress. Americans need to remember that Jonathan Jay Pollard, an American civilian naval intelligence analyst, pleaded guilty in 1987 to selling classified information to Israel. At least 800 documents were snitched. Pollard, who became an Israeli citizen, sits in a U.S. prison today in Butner, N.C., serving a life sentence. Former Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger said his espionage “would cause the greatest harm to our national security.”

Israel admitted its role in Pollard’s theft. Israel had him on a monthly payroll, the better to enable him to do his dirty work. When the spying was disclosed, Israel apologized for its role. So sorry, right? Maybe so, but just two weeks ago Adam Entous of The Wall Street Journal reported that Israel spied on the recent closed-door talks between the U.S. and its European allies concerning the Iranian negotiations. Do these repeated episodes of spying suggest that Israel is not exactly a trustworthy ally?

Not to our Congress, which keeps voting Israel $3-billion a year in military aid! According to the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, between 1949 and 2008 alone, Israel hauled in $56 billion in American military handouts. One could make a case that it was the American public that paid Mr. Pollard’s salary to steal American military secrets.

Now Mr. Netanyahu trumpets that no matter what agreement is reached, Israel will take action against Iran as it chooses. Of course, it’s illegal for one UN member to threaten another, much less attack it, but no matter.

Republicans in Congress might keep in mind that when Mr. Netanyahu addressed Congress last month he accused the Iranians of playing “a pretty good game of hide and cheat” but presented zero evidence of any sort to prove it. Here was a golden opportunity for him to show what his brilliant spy service had come up with. Yet all he produced were accusations.

If anyone is playing a game of “hide and cheat” with the UN inspectors it is Mr. Netanyahu, who does not allow them to enter Israel to inspect his nuclear facilities—reported to conceal between 80 or more (200?) atomic bombs. Iran lets the UN inspectors in, of course, but UN inspectors cannot get in to Israel.

What’s more, “Israelis who reveal details about the weapons program can face prosecution and lengthy prison terms,” wrote John Cassidy in The New Yorker on March 5, 2012:

“In 1986, Mordechai Vanunu, a former nuclear technician, gave photographs he had taken of the Negev Nuclear Research Center, near the city of Dimona, in the Negev desert, to the Sunday Times of London. After the publication of Vanunu’s story, Mossad agents snatched him from Rome, where he had been lured on vacation, and returned him to Israel. There he served eighteen years in jail, eleven of them in solitary confinement.”

If Netanyahu belittles the work of UN investigators by charging the Iranians are deceiving them, maybe that’s because they tell the truth—Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapon and is not making one. In fact, the former Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, told investigative reporter Seymour Hersh that he had not seen “a shred of evidence” that Iran was “building nuclear-weapons facilities and using enriched materials.”

ElBaradei, the Nobel Peace Prize recipient who spent 12 years at the IAEA, told Hersh, “I don’t believe Iran is a clear and present danger. All I see is the hype about the threat posed by Iran.” Hersh pointed out that the last two U.S. National Intelligence Estimates on Iranian nuclear progress “have stated that there is no conclusive evidence that Iran has made any effort to build the bomb since 2003.”

Meanwhile, American spies in Iran are doing their very best to find any traces of military nuclear development. If they had found anything, most likely it would be on front pages globally by now. Hersh says some of the tactics our spies resorted to included:

# Surreptitiously removing street signs and replacing them with signs containing radiation sensors.

# Removing bricks from buildings suspected of containing nuclear enrichment activities and replacing them “with bricks embedded with radiation-monitoring devices.”

# Spreading high-powered sensors disguised as stones randomly along roadways where a suspected underground weapon site was under construction.

As for the Congressional critics of the new deal, McClatchy News quotes President Obama as saying, “Do you (critics of the deal) really think that this verifiable deal, if fully implemented, backed by the world’s major powers, is a worse option than the risk of another war in the Middle East?”

Summing up: President Obama has not only made the right decision in negotiating an agreement with Iran but could strike another blow for peace by terminating U.S. military aid to Israel (and every other nation as well.) Dare we say it? America first! #

Sherwood Ross can be reached at sherwoodross10@gmail.com

April 5, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Wars for Israel | , , , | 2 Comments

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