Former UK diplomats are cashing in on their contacts and experience and advising despots, venture capitalists and Gulf regimes, according to a new investigation.
Britain’s ex-ambassadors to Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, as well as former MPs, are legally profiting from conflict zones and poor countries in the Global South, according to the Daily Mail.
It has led to concerns that former diplomats are using their years of exposure to state secrets and their enviable contact lists to win lucrative paydays with big corporations.
One of the most high-profile figures involved is a former ambassador to Afghanistan, and one-time critic of the war and occupation, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles.
Cowper-Coles took a job working for British arms firm BAE in 2010 after taking early retirement from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
Critics have connected him with halting a major investigation into the UK/Saudi arms trade in 2006.
He left BAE in 2013 to take up a role with HSBC. Both appointments were approved by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA), which examines if any conflicts of interest arise from such appointments.
Another former diplomat named in the investigation is Sir Dominic Asquith, who served as ambassador to Libya between 2011 and 2012 – the period immediately after the UK’s disastrous intervention to remove the Gaddafi regime.
Asquith now advises the Libya Holdings Group, which seeks out investment opportunities in the war-torn North African state.
Former ambassador to Nigeria Sir Andrew Lloyd later became a vice president of Statoil, under the proviso from ACOBA that he not deal with the firm’s Nigerian operations.
The highly experienced Sir William Patey – a former UK representative to Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia – later became an advisor for private security firm Global Risks.
Elected politicians have also been involved in similar venture capital schemes in the developing world.
Former Tory Africa minister Sir Henry Bellingham once sang the praises of UK mining firm Pathfinder Minerals to the government of Mozambique when the company was involved in a legal dispute. He now chairs the firm.
Blairite ex-Foreign Secretary David Miliband is reported to have earned up to £1 million from his advisory jobs within two years of leaving office. That includes £15,000 for one day of advising a Pakistan venture capitalist and £65,000 for sitting on a foreign ministerial forum in the United Arab Emirates.
Recently a number of retired British military generals have been seen to be involved in similar activities.
On April 27, ex-general Simon Mayall, former Ministry of Defence advisor to the Gulf, told a parliamentary committee on the arms trade that its inquiries were “unwelcome and self-defeating.”
After leaving the military in 2015, he took up a role at Greenhill & Co, a major investment bank with global reach and Middle East energy interests.
On April 18, former general and ex-head of mercenary firm Aegis James Ellery was interviewed by the Guardian over allegations the company was using former Sierra Leonean child soldiers as private guards in Iraq.
Ellery, who left Aegis in 2015, lamented the state of the mercenary market, saying: “I’m afraid all we can afford now is Africans.”
Ellery’s previous jobs include demobilizing Sierra Leone child soldiers as part of a UN program.
When Vice President Joseph Biden traveled to Iraq a few days ago, he did it, as always, under a shroud of secrecy. The mainstream press was asked in advance to keep the trip secret and dutifully complied. Biden declined to spend the night in Iraq, staying only 10 hours before whisking away to Italy, where presumably he slept safe and sound.
Why all the secrecy? Why didn’t Biden stay in Baghdad a few days, walk the streets, do a little shopping, visit with the people, and tour the country? After all, isn’t this the country that the US government invaded and regime-changed under the military rubric “Operation Iraqi Freedom”? Isn’t this the country that the US military and the CIA occupied for more than 10 years, killing people with impunity and destroying homes, buildings, and infrastructure in the process, all with the aim of producing a showcase for interventionism to present to the world?
Oh, let’s not forget the regime they installed. After all, lest we forget, this was, in fact, a regime-change operation, one devoted to removing Saddam Hussein from power (who had been a partner and ally of the US government during the 1980s) and installing and establishing a government that would be, well, more pro-USA. and, therefore, more “free.” And after all, the structure of the new government was modeled after that of the US government — that is, one founded on an all-powerful national-security establishment, including an enormous military and intelligence force with the omnipotent power to round up people, torture them, and kill them.
The purpose of Biden’s trip? To offer support to the beleaguered regime of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, whose government is wracked with political corruption. In fact, the corruption goes so deep that over the weekend hundreds of Iraqi protestors broke into the infamous “Green Zone” in Baghdad to protest the corruption. That’s the walled-in zone that the US government constructed as part of “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” It was the first time that many of the protestors had ever been inside the Green Zone.
Today a car bomb exploded in Baghdad, killing 18 and wounding at least 28 others. That was a different car bomb from the one that exploded in Baghdad on Saturday, which killed 21 people and wounded another 42. Those two were different from the car bomb that exploded in Baghdad on April 25, which killed at least 11 people and wounded 39.
No wonder Biden sneaks into Iraq and doesn’t dare spend the night there, much less walk the streets, do a little shopping, visit with the people, and tour the sites. Indeed, have you ever noticed that not one single American neocon has ever taken his family on vacation to Iraq since the Pentagon invaded some 13 years ago? Have you ever noticed that congressmen never include Iraq on their list of nice, little junkets to take?
What better testament to the philosophy of foreign interventionism than Iraq? Here was their chance — the great opportunity for the Pentagon, the CIA, the entire national-security establishment, the neocon movement, and the interventionist movement to show what they could do if given carte blanche over a country, a country that had never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so.
All that needed to be done was to kill a few hundreds of thousands of people, incarcerate and torture tens of thousands of others, reeducate millions who would survive the onslaught, and bring into existence a new government — one that might be a bit brutal, corrupt, and tyrannical but at least would be pro-USA.
Iraq was to be the showcase for foreign interventionism. It was to be their model.
Alas, all they’ve done is produced one giant hellhole of death, destruction, misery, suffering, privation, violence, crises, civil war, and loss of freedom. All they have to show for their grand interventionist experiment is hundreds of thousands of corpses, tens of thousands of others who have been detained and tortured, an impoverished society, and a crooked, corrupt, and tyrannical government, not to mention a brand new organization that their interventionism produced to the Middle East: ISIS, aka ISIL, aka the Islamic State.
The Iraq intervention is proof positive that God has created a consistent universe, one in which evil means beget evil ends. How in the world can any right-thinking American be an interventionist? How can anyone who cares about moral principles be an interventionist? How can any Christian be an interventionist? What does he say to God — that he meant well when he supported the violence, death, suffering, and corruption that comes with interventionism?
There is but one thing for the US government to do: Leave everyone in Iraq and the rest of the Middle East alone. Come home. You have done enough damage, especially if we throw Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia into the interventionist mix. You have killed, incarcerated, tortured, and maimed enough people. You have destroyed enough buildings. You have produced enough terrorists. You have caused enough refugees.
No more interventionism. Just bring all your troops home. Don’t pour fuel on the fire that your interventionism has ignited.
Supporters of Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr have stormed Baghdad’s highly fortified, US established Green Zone, also home to the US Embassy, uninvited, the biggest in the world.
All staff of the Japanese, French, British, Australian, Jordanian, Emirates and Saudi Arabia Embassies have moved in to into the American Embassy, it is being reported.
Entrances have been reported sealed and tight security imposed to protect the Iraq Central Bank and other government banks, says an unconfirmed report. However, the Guardian contradicts stating that: “A guard at a checkpoint said the protesters had not been searched before entering. About ten members of the armed group loyal to Sadr were checking protesters cursorily while government security forces who usually conduct careful searches with bomb-sniffing dogs stood by the side.”
Moreover: “Rudaw TV showed protesters chanting and taking selfies inside the parliament chamber where moments earlier MPs had been meeting.”
As Al Jazeera explains: “It is the climax of weeks of political turmoil in Iraq that has seen MPs hold a sit-in, brawl in the parliament chamber and seek to sack the speaker, stalling Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s efforts to replace party-affiliated ministers with technocrats.”
The further chaos comes just two days after US Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Baghdad in a situation so chaotic for the US’ puppet government that as the New York Times described it (28th April 2016) “… the political situation in Iraq has become so fluid that Mr. Biden’s team has sometimes been unsure whether officials he planned to meet with would still be in office when he arrived.”
America’s fortress Green Zone has been breached with thousands of protestors breaking in, with one shouting: “You are not staying here! This is your last day in the Green Zone”, according to Al Jazeera who reported that in Parliament: “… some rioters rampaged through the building and broke into offices, while other protesters shouted: “peacefully, peacefully” and tried to contain the destruction …”
Barbed wire was pulled across the road leading to the Green Zone exits: “preventing some scared lawmakers from fleeing the chaos.”
The hated US imposed and fortified Zone – which was simply central Baghdad for all to wander under Saddam Hussein has finally been breached after thirteen years. Where another period of chaos will end, who knows, but meanwhile diplomats cower in the US Embassy, as factions Iraqis patience finally runs out over the tragedy and disaster that is the US and UK’s illegally imposed “New Iraq.”
“Iraqis are very quick to revolt”, former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Tareq Aziz, told me in an interview before the invasion, listing the years and the fate of those the uprisings had been against. The decimation since has delayed a further one, but it seems it’s time has arrived.
As for the outcome, updates follow. As we have wondered before in these columns, Embassy roof time for the residents and guests of the US Ambassador – again? Vietnam’s spectre hovers?
The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.
— Albert Camus, 1913-1960
On May 1st, 2003, George W. Bush stood in a dinky little flying suit on the deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and in a super stage managed appearance told the lie of the century:
Major combat operations in Iraq have ended. In the Battle of Iraq, the United States and our allies have prevailed. And now our coalition is engaged in securing and reconstructing that country.
The illegal occupation and decimation of Iraq continued until December 2011. In June 2014 they returned to bomb again in the guise of combating ISIS. As the thirteenth anniversary of Bush’s ridiculous appearance with a vast “Mission Accomplished” banner behind him, Iraq is largely in ruins, Iraqis have fled the murderous “liberation” and its aftermath in millions, and there are over three million internally displaced.
The nation is pinned between a tyrannical, corrupt US puppet government, a homicidal, head chopping, raping, organ eating, history erasing, US-spawned ISIS – and a renewed, relentless US bombardment. So much for the 2008 US-Iraq State of Forces agreement, which stated that by 31st December 2011 “all United States forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory.”
On the USS Abraham Lincoln Bush stated:
In this battle, we have fought for the cause of liberty, and for the peace of the world … Because of you, our nation is more secure. Because of you, the tyrant has fallen, and Iraq is free.
In what has transpired to be monumental irony, he continued:
The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We have removed an ally of al-Qaida, and cut off a source of terrorist funding.
There was, of course, no al-Qaida in Iraq, no funding of fundamentalist terrorism under Saddam Hussein. It is the invasion’s conception, birth, now reached maturity from Baghdad to Brussels, Mosul to the Maghreb, Latakia to London.
In Iraq, US terrorism from the air is back in all its genocidal force.
Incredibly on April 23rd, the Independent reported another staggering piece of either disinformation or childish naivety, in a predictably familiar script: “A spokesperson for the US military said all possible precautions were taken to avoid ‘collateral damage’”, but in approaching 7,000 airstrikes the number of confirmed civilian deaths had risen on Planet Pentagon to just – forty one.
In another past its sell by date mantra:
Colonel Patrick Ryder, a spokesperson for Central Command, said the casualties were “deeply regretted” but maintained that the campaign was the “the most precise air campaign in the history of warfare.”
And here’s another familiar one:
In this type of armed conflict, particularly with an enemy who hides among the civilian population, there are going to be, unfortunately, civilian casualties at times.
The Geneva Convention, amongst other Treaties, Principles and Conventions, is specific on the protections of populations in conflict, Colonel Ryder should familiarize himself with the texts.
So another onslaught in a quarter of a century of bombing Iraq is underway – another mass murder with a silly name “Operation Inherent Resolve.”
Here is reality from Dr Souad Al-Azzawi, Award winning environmental scientist who gained her Ph.D from the Colorado School of Mines.
She states of just the onslaught on Mosul, her home, the ancient university city of 1.5 million, that the stated figures from US spokespersons are: “either misinformed about the real situation on the ground, since they are using drones and guided missiles, or airstrikes blindly, intentionally not saying the truth.”
I would like to list SOME of what the Americans’ airstrikes have been targeting and killing in Mosul:
Destroyed are all state services buildings, including Municipalities in right and left sides of Mosul. When they bomb at night, all security personnel get killed or injured, also residents of close by areas, and adjacent properties are destroyed.
Bombed and destroyed all communication centers.
Destruction of Dairy Production Factories in both left and right sides of Mosul. Casualties of these two are one hundred deaths and two hundred injuries among civilians who gathered to receive milk and dairy products from the factories.
Dr Al-Azzawi reminds that this is reminiscent of the bombing of the baby milk factory outside Baghdad in 1991 with the claim it was a chemical weapons factory. This writer visited the factory ruins just months later. There were still charred containers of milk powder – the machinery was provided and maintained by a company in Birmingham, England which specialized in infant food production.
* Bombing of Mosul Pharmaceutical Industries.
* Mosul University was bombed with ninety two deaths and one hundred and thirty five injuries. Earlier estimates were higher, but many were pulled from the rubble alive. “They were students, faculty members, staff members, families of faculties, and restaurants workers.”
*Al Hadbaa and Al Khadraa Residential Apartment compounds. Fifty people killed (families) and one hundred injured.
* Hay al Dhubat residential area in the right side of Mosul, two days ago, five women women and four children killed and the whole house destroyed. The father is a respected pharmacist who has nothing to do with ISIL.
* Destruction of houses in front of the Medical College, killed twenty two civilians – eleven in one family.
* Bombing Sunni Waqif Building, twenty deaths and seventy injuries which included those in nearby commercial and residential buildings.
* Car maintenance industrial areas in both left and right sides of Mosul destroyed with civilian’s casualties.
* Bombing of flour factories in both sides of Mosul.
* Rafidain and Rasheed banks and all their branches in both sides of Mosul. Destruction of all commercial and residential areas in the vicinity of these places, with as yet unknown civilian casualties. (My emphasis.)
* Central Bank of Mosul in Ghazi Street, with nearby residential and commercial properties.
* Pepsi factory, currently producing ice cubes only. Three deaths and twelve injuries among the workers.
* The Governor’s house and close by guest house.
* Mosul’s old industrial compound destroyed, with parking area for fuel Tankers and cars. Three days ago, huge explosion of fuel tankers, one hundred and fifty deaths and injuries.
* Urban Planning Directory in Hay al Maliyah bombed.
* Engineering Planning Directory in Hay al Maliyah bombed.
* Food Storages in left side of Mosul bombed.
* Drinking water treatment plants bombed.
* All electrical generation and transformer stations in the left side of Mosul bombed.
* Domez land communications center in left side of Mosul destroyed.
*Al Hurairah Bridge – and many more.
There is a sickening familiarity to some of the targets – food, pharmaceuticals, water treatment plants, electricity generation, communications and educational facilities, bridges (the country, towns and cities are divided by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers) have been favoured targets since 1991. Every time painstakingly and imaginatively restored they have been re-bombed for a quarter of a century.
During the 1990s a Canadian film crew captured footage of US ‘planes dropping flares on harvested wheat and barley, incinerating entire harvests in a country, which due to the strangulating embargo, there were near famine conditions in parts of society.
“When Iraqi civilians looked into the faces of our servicemen and women, they saw strength, and kindness, and good will”, said George W Bush in his “Mission Accomplished” speech.
No, they saw invaders destroying their lives, their families, their history, raping, pillaging. They saw Falluja’s destruction, Abu Ghraib’s horrors and the eleven other secret prisons and nightmares ever ongoing.
On April 25th, Dr Al-Azzawi added:
More war crimes have been committed by American Coalition, yesterday April 24, 2016. The coalition airplanes bombed Rashidiya water treatment plant left side of Mosul city and Yermouk electricity generation station in the right side of Mosul. Through targeting these populations’ life sustaining necessities, the coalition is committing genocidal action towards Mosul residents in the pretext of fighting ISIS.
Also on 25th April, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Kate Gilmore, on returning from a week in Iraq wrote starkly of the government:
Iraqis are crying out for fairness, recognition, justice, appreciation and meaningful participation in shaping their future – a process that goes forward and not backwards … We all have responsibilities towards the people of Iraq. While there is an international military coalition in place, a comparably resourced international coalition of practical compassion is also needed to help with the building blocks towards a sustained peace in Iraq.
In the US military lexicon it seems “compassion” has been replaced by their missiles of choice.
Ms Gilmore also stated that Iraq was being run by a failed government and warned foreign powers not to be “complicit” in its neglect of the plight of normal Iraqis.
Further: “The international community must not allow itself to be made complicit with the failed leadership of Iraq … There is political paralysis in Iraq. There is no government in Iraq”, she stated blisteringly of America and Britain’s illegal, abortive, parliamentary project.
“Our commitment to Liberty is America’s tradition … We stand for human liberty”, concluded Bush on the USS Abraham Lincoln.
Were mistruths ever bleaker? And when will George W. Bush, Charles Anthony Lynton Blair and their cohorts answer for their crimes in a Court of Law?
U.S. government hypocrisy is, as most everyone knows, boundless. It’s also utterly transparent. Our public officials evidently see no shame in belying their professions of benign intent with awesome malevolence and destruction. After all, there’s always the doctrine of American Exceptionalism to justify the unjustifiable. Take for instance Barack Obama’s global assassination campaign, or “drone war” in media-speak. It is now common knowledge (among the mildly informed, anyway) that said campaign is only nominally discriminate, and furthermore essentially pointless, assuming its point is not to foster Islamic extremism. Last year, leaked government documents confirmed what was already suspected: most of those killed by Barry O’s drone fleet are unidentified people who happen to be standing near the intended target, who for one reason or another (we’re not allowed to know) was selected for summary execution.
What is the effect of this policy? It’s not difficult to figure out. Let’s suppose for a moment that these remote control airstrikes really were “surgical”—that they didn’t result in dead civilians. It would still be an exercise in futility. Wiping out a single jihadist, no matter his rank, doesn’t eliminate his position: he can and will be replaced. Would it disrupt the relevant cell’s operation? Does it matter? Disrupt it enough and it will splinter, and now you’ve got two cells instead of one, and perhaps the new one is more monstrous than the original. ISIS, let’s remember, was first an al-Qaeda franchise. The latter group, whose side we’ve taken against Syria’s elected president, now seems like the “JV team” (credit to Obama for the awkward analogy) to the former’s Varsity. Needless to say, U.S. foreign policy, in its liberal interventionist form, facilitated the rise and expansion of ISIS; the group that now, according to most Republicans, presents the gravest threat to our national security.
To label the drone war as merely futile, however, is disingenuous. Counterproductive is a better word, although probably still too charitable. We take out one militant—reducing him to “a greasy spot on the ground”—and another springs up to take his place. That’s futility. But in the process, people living in Pakistan and Somalia and Yemen observe that the U.S. is not bound by any standard principle of law, least of all the one guaranteeing a criminal suspect due process. How, one wonders, are they expected to feel about that? If the American Empire says you’re fit to die, you’re fit to die, and that’s the end of it. Interesting concept. Of course, such tyranny would never be tolerated here at home, where a criminal defendant’s right to a fair trial remains (for the most part) inalienable and uncontroversial. Not so for foreigners suspected by the U.S. government of terrorist activity in their own countries, with whom the U.S. is not at war and over whom the U.S. has no jurisdiction in any reasonable sense of the word.
The American public may not care very much about the extrajudicial killing of a few supposedly dangerous Muslims living in Somalia. (CNN doesn’t tell them to worry about it, so why should they?) They do, however, seem to care about anti-Americanism in the Muslim world, the threat of global jihad, etc.—and rightfully so. These are serious issues; they should be treated as such. Here’s an axiom: if we’re going to take an issue seriously, the very least we can do is make an effort to understand it. Why does Salafism (i.e. Wahhabism, i.e. Saudism) continue to spread like wildfire over the Middle East and beyond? Why do so many Muslims have, in the words of Donald Trump, a tremendous, tremendous hatred for the U.S.?
It couldn’t have anything to do with the continuous, illegal bombing of Muslim-majority countries. That would be too straightforward an answer, and moreover contradictory to the narrative our policy-makers, always looking out for the weapons industry, like to spin for us. There is, however, Occam’s razor, which would insist that we stop dismissing simple, obvious explanations. One such explanation might be that Obama’s drone fetish, even without the civilian death toll, certainly doesn’t make the jihadist recruiter’s job any less difficult (and in fact does precisely the reverse). Another might be that, by shoring up the medieval sadists governing Saudi Arabia and oppressing its population, the U.S. indirectly (or perhaps directly) promotes the ideology underpinning every Wahhabi terrorist gang in the world, whether JV or Varsity.
Saudi Arabia. The world’s most prolific exporter of oil. Also the world’s most prolific exporter of Islamic extremism, that omnipresent threat to civilization we’re allegedly so bent on eradicating. It was reported that our dear leader was cold-shouldered upon his recent arrival to the great pious kingdom. The impudence! Have the Wahhabi princes no appreciation for the Obama administration’s generosity? After all, $50 billion in munitions sales is nothing to sneeze at, particularly when those munitions are earmarked for war crimes. The United States has given Saudi Arabia, and its Wahhabi coalition, carte blanche to commit atrocities against civilians in Yemen: American bombs, including illegal “cluster bombs,” are being used to blow up schools, hospitals, mosques, etc., in the name of… well, nothing, really. What more could the Saudis want! More weapons? All they have to do is ask. Obama distributes “smart bombs” like candy.
The civil war in Yemen represents the latest, though not quite the greatest (which says a lot), failure of American foreign policy. With our weapons and whole-hearted support, Saudi Arabia and its Wahhabi pals have managed to do to Yemen what NATO did to Libya. In other words, Yemen is now a failed state with no central government and a massive power vacuum—ideal conditions for terrorists, in this case al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula, to exploit. Naturally, all of this is underreported by Western media, since we have no enemy on whom to cast blame. You may hear the occasional whisper about Ayatollah culpability, but that’s about it.
Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen… every time the same result. To say that the U.S. has failed to learn its lesson is erroneous. I’ve seen no evidence that U.S. policy-makers are interested in learning any sort of lesson, nor that they actually desire a better outcome to begin with. They’re not merely inept, as so many like to insist; they’re cynical, and profoundly so.
Terrorism is useful. It can be, and is, cited to justify almost anything: extravagant military budgets, abrogation of civil liberties, alliance with nefarious regimes, arbitrary detention, torture, war. They all matter, but the last one matters most. If the objective really is to defeat terrorism, as defined by us, then our policy is irrational; in fact it meets the famous definition of insanity. Plainly, bombing volatile societies and unleashing dormant sectarian violence does nothing to contain terrorism. Plainly, it has the opposite effect. Terrorists draw strength and support from chaos and carnage; if you think Cheney et al. were oblivious to that fact, I’ve a got a plot of land to sell you…. Bush may be simple, and it’s certainly possible that he derived his conception of war from the pictures, but his cabinet was a sly bunch; a bunch whose loyalty was not to our nation’s security but rather to the Pentagon and the weapons manufacturers.
Before Bush was sworn in by the Supreme Court, Dick was pushing for a bigger military budget. Little did he know that he needn’t bother! The events of 9/11 were a windfall for the jingoists, damage to the Pentagon notwithstanding. Terrorism was no longer an abstract threat; the threat was all too palpable, all too urgent, and nobody was prepared to question the government’s response, which was not to invade the country that produced 15 of the 19 hijackers, but rather the one in which the plot’s ringleader, another Saudi, happened to live. The U.S. could have invaded Canada that October (surely there were some Bin Laden sympathizers loitering in that country)—we just wanted a show of military might, projected wherever.
That’s the terrorism effect. That’s why Saddam Hussein, our long-time ally and Israel’s great “existential threat” of the day, was suddenly charged with sponsoring terrorism. Casting Saddam as a Bin Laden advocate, however false, gave us a solid pretext for war. The consequence of that war—ISIS—gives us a solid pretext for more war, etc. As long as terrorism exists, we can go to war, and as long as we go to war, terrorism will exist. Meanwhile the Pentagon’s budget continues to swell. The War on Terror, then, is a self-sustaining enterprise.
The beauty of Obama’s global assassination campaign is that it allows us to bomb without declaring war. We don’t have to worry about running out of countries to invade; we can drone our allies if we so choose. That being said, no war machine is complete, and no Empire content, without the occasional full-scale invasion. Iran has been in the crosshairs for a long time—ever since they had the nerve to overthrow the iron-fisted dictator we kindly installed for them. Predictably, the Iranian nuclear agreement, Obama’s most significant foreign policy achievement, has done nothing to curb the hawks’ appetite. Indeed, many Republican presidential candidates have assured us that, as commander in chief, they would make it their first order of business to tear up the internationally-recognized treaty.
At the other end of the aisle, H.R. Clinton, the “superprepared warrior realist,” derides the prospect of normalizing relations with Iran. Back in 2008, she demonstrated her warrior spirit, boasting of her preparedness to “totally obliterate” the 80 million people who live there, which would steer the U.S. into a nuclear conflict with Russia, quite possibly annihilating us all. (Lest you forget: Trump is the real danger.)
Clinton and her fellow jingos hate the nuclear deal, and the reason is simple: it eliminates a major pretext for war. After all, the case against Iran is identical to the case against Iraq. Weapons of mass destruction and support for terrorism. And Israel at the center of it all. The Zionists lobbied hard for war with Iraq, and no one is lobbying harder for war with Iran. They intend to make Hillary’s obliteration fantasy into reality. Lucky for them, and unlucky for the rest of us, she is almost certainly our next president, and no one is more subservient to their will.
Unsurprisingly, no presidential candidate has been asked whether they plan to adopt Obama’s failed anti-terror policy, which is to fight terror with more terror, forever fanning the proverbial flames. Perhaps “failed” is not quite an accurate description, though, as that word implies a wish to succeed. Presently there’s no excuse to believe the Obama administration was ever serious about checking the scourge of Saudi-inspired terrorism. If Trump is right, and the Muslim world hates us, Obama was very much committed to aggravating that sentiment. He’s done a fine job.
Michael Howard can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Someone asked me to find war lies during the past few years. Perhaps they had in mind the humanitarian pretenses around attacking Libya in 2011 and Iraq in 2014, or the false claims about chemical weapons in 2013, or the lies about an airplane in Ukraine or the endlessly reported Russian invasions of Ukraine. Maybe they were thinking of the “ISIS Is In Brooklyn” headlines or the routine false claims about the identities of drone victims or the supposedly imminent victory in Afghanistan or in one of the other wars. The lies seem far too numerous for me to fit into an essay, though I’ve tried many times, and they are layered over a bedrock of more general lies about what works, what is legal, and what is moral. Just a Prince Tribute selection of lies could include Qadaffi’s viagra for the troops and CNN’s sex-toys flag as evidence of ISIS in Europe. It’s hard to scrape the surface of all U.S. war lies in something less than a book, which is why I wrote a book.
So, I replied that I would look for war lies just in 2016. But that was way too big as well, of course. I once tried to find all the lies in one speech by Obama and ended up just writing about the top 45. So, I’ve taken a glance at two of the most recent speeches on the White House website, one by Obama and one by Susan Rice. I think they provide ample evidence of how we’re being lied to.
In an April 13th speech to the CIA, President Barack Obama declared, “One of my main messages today is that destroying ISIL continues to be my top priority.” The next day, in a speech to the U.S. Air Force Academy, National Security Advisor Susan Rice repeated the claim: “This evening, I’d like to focus on one threat in particular—the threat at the very top of President Obama’s agenda—and that is ISIL.” And here’s Senator Bernie Sanders during the recent presidential primary debate in Brooklyn, N.Y.: “Right now our fight is to destroy ISIS first, and to get rid of Assad second.”
This public message, heard again and again in the official media echo chamber, might seem unnecessary, given the level of fear of ISIS/ISIL in the U.S. public and the importance the public places on the matter. But polls have shown that people believe the president is not taking the danger seriously enough.
In fact, awareness has slowly begun spreading that the side of the Syrian war that the White House wanted to jump in on in 2013, and in fact had already been supporting, is still its top priority, namely overthrowing the Syrian government. That has been a goal of the U.S. government since before U.S. actions in Iraq and Syria helped create ISIS in the first place (actions taken while knowing that such a result was quite likely). Helping this awareness along has been Russia’s rather different approach to the war, reports of the United States arming al Qaeda in Syria (planning more weapons shipments on the same day as Rice’s speech), and a video from late March in which State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner was asked a question that a good ISIS-fearing American should have had no trouble answering, but which Toner found too difficult:
REPORTER: “Do you want to see the regime retake Palmyra? Or would you prefer that it stays in Daesh’s hands?”
MARK TONER: “That’s truly a — a — um — look, I think what we would, uh, like to see is, uh, the political negotiation, that political track, pick up steam. It’s part of the reason the Secretary’s in Moscow today, um, so we can get a political process underway, um, and deepen and strengthen the cessation of hostilities, into a real ceasefire, and then, we . . . ”
REPORTER: “You’re not answering my question.”
MARK TONER: “I know I’m not.” [Laughter.]
Hillary Clinton and her neocon allies in the Congress believe that Obama was wrong not to bomb Syria in 2013. Never mind that such a course would surely have strengthened the terrorist groups that brought the U.S. public around to supporting war in 2014. (Remember, the public said no in 2013 and reversed Obama’s decision to bomb Syria, but videos involving white Americans and knives won over a lot of the U.S. public in 2014, albeit for joining the opposite side of the same war.) The neocons want a “no fly zone,” which Clinton calls a “safe zone” despite ISIS and al Qaeda having no airplanes, and despite NATO’s commander pointing out that such a thing is an act of war with nothing safe about it.
Many in the U.S. government even want to give the “rebels” anti-aircraft weaponry. With U.S. and U.N. planes in those skies, one is reminded of then-President George W. Bush’s scheme for starting a war on Iraq: “The U.S. was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in U.N. colours. If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach.”
It’s not just rogue neocons. President Obama has never backed off his position that the Assad government must go, or even his highly dubious 2013 claim to have had proof that Assad used chemical weapons. Secretary of State John Kerry has compared Assad to Hitler. But it seems that dubious claims of someone possessing or using the wrong kind of weaponry don’t quite do it for the U.S. public anymore after Iraq 2003. Supposed threats to populations don’t inspire raging war fever in the U.S. public (or even support from Russia and China) after Libya 2011. Contrary to popular myth and White House claims, Qadaffi was not threatening a massacre, and the war that threat was used to start immediately became a war of overthrow. The burning need to overthrow yet another government fails to create confidence in a public that’s seen disasters created in Iraq and Libya, but not in Iran where war has been avoided (as well as not in Tunisia where the more powerful tools of nonviolence have been used).
If U.S. officials want war in Syria, they know that the way to keep the U.S. public on their side is to make it about subhuman monsters who kill with knives. Said Susan Rice of ISIS in her speech, which began with her family’s struggle against racism: “It is horrifying to witness the extreme brutality of these twisted brutes.” Said Obama at the CIA: “These depraved terrorists still have the ability to inflict horrific violence on the innocent, to the revulsion of the entire world. With attacks likes these, ISIL hopes to weaken our collective resolve. Once again, they have failed. Their barbarism only stiffens our unity and determination to wipe this vile terrorist organization off the face of the Earth. . . . As I’ve said repeatedly, the only way to truly destroy ISIL is to end the Syrian civil war that ISIL has exploited. So we continue to work for a diplomatic end to this awful conflict.”
Here are the main problems with this statement:
1) The United States has spent years working to avoid a diplomatic end, blocking U.N. efforts, rejecting Russian proposals, and flooding the area with weaponry. The United States isn’t trying to end the war in order to defeat ISIS; it’s trying to remove Assad in order to weaken Iran and Russia and to eliminate a government that doesn’t choose to be part of U.S. empire.
2) ISIS hasn’t grown simply by exploiting a war it wasn’t part of. ISIS doesn’t hope to halt U.S. attacks. ISIS put out films urging the United States to attack. ISIS uses terrorism abroad to provoke attacks. ISIS recruitment has soared as it has become seen as the enemy of U.S. imperialism.
3) Attempting diplomacy while attempting to wipe someone off the face of the earth is either unnecessary or contradictory. Why end the root causes of terrorism if you’re going to destroy the vile barbarous people engaged in it?
The points that focusing on Assad is at odds with focusing on ISIS, and that attacking ISIS or other groups with missiles and drones does not defeat them, are points made by numerous top U.S. officials the moment they retire. But those ideas clash with the idea that militarism works, and with the specific idea that it is currently working. After all, ISIS, we are told, is eternally on the ropes, with one or more of its top leaders declared dead almost every week. Here’s President Obama on March 26: “We’ve been taking out ISIL leadership, and this week, we removed one of their top leaders from the battlefield – permanently.” I consider the term “battlefield” itself a lie, as U.S. wars are fought from the air over people’s homes, not in a field. But Obama goes on to add a real doozie when he says: “ISIL poses a threat to the entire civilized world.”
In the weakest sense, that statement could be true of any violence-promoting organization with access to the internet (Fox News for example). But for it to be true in any more substantive sense has always been at odds with Obama’s own so-called intelligence so-called community, which has said that ISIS is no threat to the United States. For every headline screaming that ISIS is looming just down a U.S. street, there has not yet been any evidence that ISIS was involved in anything in the United States, other than influencing people through U.S. news programs or inspiring the FBI to set people up. ISIS involvement in attacks in Europe has been more real, or at least claimed by ISIS, but a few key points are lost in all the vitriol directed at “twisted brutes.”
1) ISIS claims its attacks are “in response to the aggressions” of “the crusader states,” just as all anti-Western terrorists always claim, with never a hint at hating freedoms.
2) European nations have been happy to allow suspected criminals to travel to Syria (where they might fight for the overthrow of the Syrian government), and some of those criminals have returned to kill in Europe.
3) As a murdering force, ISIS is far out-done by numerous governments armed and supported by the United States, including Saudi Arabia, and of course including the U.S. military itself, which has dropped tens of thousands of bombs in Syria and Iraq, blew up the University of Mosul on the 13th anniversary of Shock and Awe with 92 killed and 135 injured according to a source in Mosul, and just changed its “rules” on killing civilians to bring them slightly more into line with its conduct.
4) Actually useful steps like disarmament and humanitarian aid are not being taken seriously at all, with one U.S. Air Force official casually pointing out that the United States would never spend $60,000 on a technology for preventing starvation in Syria, even as the United States uses missiles costing over $1 million each like they’re going out of style — in fact using them so rapidly that it risks running out of anything to drop on people other than the food it has such little interest in dropping.
Meanwhile, ISIS is also the justification du jour for sending more U.S. troops into Iraq, where U.S. troops and U.S. weapons created the conditions for the birth of ISIS. Only this time, they are “non-combat” “special” forces, which led one reporter at an April 19 White House press briefing to ask, “Is this a little bit of fudging? The U.S. military is not going to be involved in combat? Because all the earmarks and recent experiences indicate that they will likely be.” A straight answer was not forthcoming.
What about those troops? Susan Rice told Air Force cadets, without asking the American people, that the American people “could not be more proud” of them. She described a graduating cadet born in 1991 and worrying that he might have missed out on all the wars. Never fear, she said, “your skills—your leadership—will be in high demand in the decades ahead. . . . On any given day, we might be dealing with Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine [where, contrary to myth and White House claim, Russia has not invaded but the United States has facilitated a coup], developments in the South China Sea [apparently misnamed, as it belongs to the United States and its Philippine colony], North Korean missile launches [how, dare I ask, will an Air Force pilot deal with those, or the much more common U.S. missile launches for that matter?], or global economic instability [famously improved by bombing runs]. . . . We face the menace of advancing climate change.” The Air Force, whose jets are among the biggest producers of climate change, is going to attack climate change? bomb it? scare it away with drones?
“I know not everybody grew up dreaming of piloting a drone,” said Rice. But, “drone warfare is even finding its way into the upcoming Top Gun sequel. These [drone] capabilities are essential to this campaign and future ones. So, as you consider career options, know that [drone piloting] is a sure-fire way to get into the fight.”
Of course, drone strikes would be rare to nonexistent if they followed President Obama’s self-imposed “rules” requiring that they kill no civilians, kill no one who could be apprehended, and kill only people who are (frighteningly if nonsensically) an “imminent and continuing” threat to the United States. Even the military-assisted theatrical fantasy film Eye in the Sky invents an imminent threat to people in Africa, but no threat at all to the United States. The other conditions (identified targets who cannot be arrested, and care to avoid killing others) are bizarrely met in that film but rarely if ever in reality. A man who says drones have tried to murder him four times in Pakistan has gone to Europe this month to ask to be taken off the kill lists. He will be safest if he stays there, judging by past killings of victims who could have been arrested.
This normalizing of murder and of participation in murder is a poison for our culture. A debate moderator recently asked a presidential candidate if he would be willing to kill thousands of innocent children as part of his basic duties. In the seven countries that President Obama has bragged about bombing, a great many innocents have died. But the top killer of U.S. troops is suicide.
“Welcome to the White House!” said President Obama to a “wounded warrior” on April 14. “Thank you, William, for your outstanding service, and your beautiful family. Now, we hold a lot of events here at the White House, but few are as inspiring as this one. Over the past seven years, this has become one of our favorite traditions. This year, we’ve got 40 active duty riders and 25 veterans. Many of you are recovering from major injuries. You’ve learned how to adapt to a new life. Some of you are still working through wounds that are harder to see, like post-traumatic stress. . . . Where’s Jason? There’s Jason right there. Jason served four combat tours in Afghanistan and Iraq. He came home with his body intact, but inside he was struggling with wounds nobody could see. And Jason doesn’t mind me telling you all that he got depressed enough that he considered taking his life.”
I don’t know about you, but this inspires me mostly to tell the truth about war and try to end it.
David Swanson’s new book is War Is A Lie: Second Edition.
Former child soldiers from Sierra Leone have been employed by a private British military company to provide security for American bases in Iraq as part of a 2,500-strong contingent hired for the job, a new Danish documentary has revealed.
According to investigation based on contract documents, UK’s Aegis Defense Services contracted by US Department of Defense employed some 2,500 mercenaries to provide security force for the Pentagon-administered Project and Contracting Office (PCO) in Iraq.
Part of the security force, according to a documentary, titled Børnesoldatens Nye Job (The Child Soldier’s New Job) included child soldiers from Sierra Leone who were paid only $16 a day.
“When war gets outsourced, then the company tries to find the cheapest soldiers globally. Turns out that that is former child soldiers from Sierra Leone. I think it is important that we in the West are aware of the consequences of the privatization of war,” said the film’s director, Mads Ellesøe, as quoted by the Guardian.
Aegis was hired by Washington starting from 2004 to provide security for American bases in Iraq. The firm initially employed British, American and Nepalese personnel to do the job. But from 2011, the firm started to employ fighters from Africa to cut costs.
James Ellery, who was a director of Aegis Defense Services between 2005 and 2015, acknowledged that Aegis recruited personnel from Sierra Leone because they were cheaper than Europeans. Yet he stressed that the UK firm has never bothered to check whether the security force had employed any former underage combatants.
While agreeing that it would have been better to recruit Brits, Ellery told the Guardian, that “it can’t be afforded… I’m afraid all we can afford now is Africans.”
Sierra Leone proved to be a perfect place for recruitment as the country had just emerged from the ashes of the atrocious civil war (1991-2002), tarnished with crimes against humanity and the widespread use of child soldiers to carry out the fighting.
Speaking with the British publication Ellery revealed that child soldiers cannot be prosecuted for war crimes under international law.
“They are, once they reach 18, in fact citizens with full rights to seek employment, which is a basic human right. So we would have been completely in error if, having gone to Sierra Leone, we excluded those people,” he explained.
One of the only things Aegis cared for was strict adherence to physical health requirements.
“The moment they [recruitment agents] start sending us people who are blind in one eye or have Aids, that’s it. Contract over,” Ellery said. “Because those sort of things, although they sound facetious, are big problems in Africa, because you don’t want people dying after you’ve put them through expensive training and then they die because they’ve got Aids and so on.”
Founded in 2002 by Tim Spicer, the former Scots Guards officer, notorious for supplying weapons in Sierra Leone to support the local government, Aegis Defense Services is now chaired by Sir Nicholas Soames, a Tory MP and a grandson of former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
In 2015 the operations of Aegis were taken over by a Canadian security company, GardaWorld. Contacted by the Guardian into the alleged allegations in the documentary, Graham Binns, Aegis’s former CEO and GardaWorld’s senior managing director shifted the blame onto the contractor’s respected country of origin which provided the British company with their personnel.
“We worked very closely with our audited, vetted and authorised agents to recruit, vet and screen our professionals. Our agents were authorised [as was the employment of individuals] by the relevant national government of the countries from which we recruited,” he said.
The documentary shot in the US, UK, Sierra Leone and Uganda will be broadcasted on Denmark television on Monday, April 18.
The use of child soldiers became widespread during the civil war in Sierra Leone where the Revolutionary United Front (RUF), in addition to state forces and state-supported militias widely recruited children for combat. An estimated 10,000 children took part in the conflict. Some of the child soldiers were also girls, who had been reportedly subjected to repeated abuse and rape. Most children were required by their superiors to commit war crimes such as murders, rapes, sexual slavery, mutilations and other forms of human rights abuses.
The history of post Cold War US involvement in Iraq is the story of the enduring power of myths to drive a false foreign policy narrative and achieve the goals of a singularly-focused pressure group (the interventionist neocons). From the 1990 myth that Saddam Hussein had on his own and in opposition to stated US wishes made a land grab in Kuwait, the myth that Iraqi troops were poised to invade Saudi Arabia, the 2003 myth that Saddam had, “in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons,” to the myth that the invasion of Iraq would be a “cakewalk,” to the myth that the US attack on Iraq would bring the Iraqi people “hope and progress.”
But perhaps one of the most enduring myths of all, endlessly reinforced by the media, has been that after the disastrous aftermath of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, a few brilliant military philosophers in the Pentagon came up with a “surge” in tandem with a new “counterinsurgency doctrine” that snatched victory in Iraq from the jaws of a horrible, scorched earth defeat.
The “Surge” of some 20,000 additional American troops along with the cancellation of out-rotations of many others is said to have been responsible for an end to — or at least a great reduction in — the almost unimaginable levels of violence in Iraq, both among Iraqis and toward the US occupying army. In the words of then-President George W. Bush, the purpose of the surge was “to help Iraqis clear and secure neighborhoods, to help them protect the local population, and to help ensure that the Iraqi forces left behind are capable of providing the security.”
In fact none of those goals was reached. Zero.
While it is true that violence temporarily dissipated after the “surge,” one cannot automatically argue a case for causation. In fact, as Patrick Cockburn observed, one major reason for the decrease in violence circa 2007-2008 was that the wave of sectarian violence had by then largely played itself out. In other words, with ethnic cleansing complete, there was just very little left to kill. Also, as we now know, the Surge “victory” was in fact just the calm before the storm. Emerging out of the chaos produced by the US attack on Iraq was al-Qaeda and then its breakaway, ISIS.
Popular conservative mythology is that the “Surge” of General David Petraeus and Gen. Raymond T. Odierno saved Iraq, only to have President Obama lose it again with his timidity and fecklessness. The truth is the surge produced nothing of lasting value, it only delayed the inevitable collapse and blowback set in motion in March 2003 with the US invasion. Even if the US occupation force had been able to remain in Iraq (it could not, because President Bush could not negotiate an acceptable status of forces agreement with the Iraqi government), the rise of al-Qaeda and ISIS would not have been prevented. The only difference if the US military had stayed is that more US soldiers would have been killed and maimed.
As with all myths, however, they take on a life of their own and seldom die under the weight of their own contradictions. That is certainly the case with the “Surge.” In fact, Gen. Odierno, mentioned above and considered a co-architect of the Surge, was in Washington this week to argue for another, even more massive “surge.” Speaking to a conference put on by the neoconservative Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), the former Army chief of staff Odierno said what is needed to defeat ISIS and save the region is a massive 50,000 strong force, led by the US but not entirely made up of US troops.
There is no question that the neocons in the room, whose lavish sinecures come to them courtesy of the military-industrial complex, were hyperventilating in anticipation of another major US invasion of Iraq (and Syria). War is the greatest DC jobs program and the hits just keep coming.
But Odierno’s brain is a hammer and he only sees nails. He is wrong again. It wasn’t a lack of massive overwhelming force that “lost” Iraq, but rather it was a strategy that could only ever deliver a US defeat. Destroying other functioning societies and then in a breathtaking act of hubris expecting to remake them in one’s own image is a plan sure to fail. There are no numbers of soldiers who can achieve such a fool’s errand. The only thing that can happen is that many of them are needlessly killed in the process — something general officers used to care about, before making political statements and basking in the praise of the neoconservative armchair warriors became the order of the day.
General Odierno must sense that his Surge was not all it was cracked up to be. Looking at the fruits of his labor in Iraq he no doubt does not see Switzerland, but Swaziland. So he does what all politicians in Washington do when their grand plans meet stark reality: he blames someone else. This time it’s the Iranians. It’s all their fault, he tells the FDD crowd.
Though he once supported a unified Iraq, Odierno now finds that:
[I]t’s becoming harder and harder to have a unified Iraq. And the reason is I believe the influence of Iran inside of Iraq is so great, they will never allow the Sunnis to participate in a meaningful way in the government. If that doesn’t happen, you cannot have a unified Iraq.
So he had no idea that a majority Shia country next-door to Iran with historic ties to Iran, with a segment of the population that had spent time in Iran, would elect an Iran-friendly Shia government and make a strategic shift toward Iran once a popular vote was held after the destruction caused by the US invasion (and continued US hostility to Iran)? It was shocking to General Odierno that a thoroughly US-bombed Iraq, where the economy and social structures had been obliterated and sectarian fault lines had been exploded would not, in the words of Dick Cheney, welcome us as liberators?
If there were ever an argument for military officers to keep clear from politics this is it.
Odierno’s speech to the FDD neocons captures the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of Washington’s foreign policy. He got it completely wrong back when he was in charge of things in Iraq and he gets it completely wrong when he tells us that we need to go back in, with less troops this time and less time to get the job done (no one is going to agree to another eight or so years). What does he get for being wrong on both counts? An adoring audience of neocons and plenty of coverage in venues like Fox News. For a blessed while it was considered unfashionable to praise the Iraq war, but as time seemingly accelerates the same people who botched Iraq — like General Odierno — are let loose from their asylums to again screech “let loose the dogs of war!” And the worst part is that all of a sudden people no longer laugh.
The Syrian ceasefire is hanging in the balance, former Republican congressman Ron Paul and political analyst Daniel McAdams note in their Liberty Report; however, Washington continues to push ahead with its military program aimed at training and arming the so-called Syrian rebels.
To complicate matters further, there is enough evidence that the moderates have repeatedly teamed up with al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front on the ground, calling it a “marriage of necessity.”
Even State Department spokesman Mark Toner has recognized that “there is some co-mingling” of al-Qaeda militants and the US-backed Syrian rebels.
Commenting on the issue, Daniel McAdams, the Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, referred to the Wall Street Journal article that shed some light on Washington’s plans to send various types of anti-aircraft weapons to Syrian rebels.
“Throughout this ceasefire the US is taking the opportunity to provide a lot of arms to the so-called moderates — three thousand tons by one estimate. But the logic is insane: [these arms] only will be available if the ceasefire fails. That is like telling a kid: ‘You only get a cookie if you don’t eat your broccoli’,” McAdams noted.
But what looks even more suspicious is that the CIA has been supplying advanced anti-tank and anti-aircraft systems to the Syrian rebels. There is no doubt that these types of weapons are primarily aimed against Bashar al-Assad’s tanks and aircraft, not at Daesh’s Toyota trucks.
“The CIA agenda is definitely not anti-ISIS [Daesh], it’s primarily anti-Assad. And I think that is evident by the kinds of weapons they provided. They provided TOW missiles which are only effective against the Syrian government’s tanks. The Manpads, the shoulder fired missiles, which shot down two Syrian Air Force planes over the past couple of weeks. And even the Soviet-era “Grad” rockets, which are used to fight against the Syrian [Arab] Army. So, the types of weapons, I think, tell us a lot about what the CIA is focused on,” McAdams remarked.
Therefore, the CIA is turning a blind eye to the fact that the Syrian rebels and al-Nusra Front’s terrorists are “co-mingled.”
There is yet another issue that prompts concern: it seems that the CIA and the Pentagon have two different agendas regarding Syria.
To add to the confusion, the CIA is supporting one faction of the Syrian rebels, while the Pentagon is backing another group of fighters.
It turns out that in February, 2016 the CIA-armed group Knights of Righteousness was attacked by the Pentagon-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in Syria.
“One hand of our government does not even know what the other hand is doing,” Dr. Ron Paul noted.
The former US congressman expressed his concerns regarding Washington’s unstoppable militarism in the region.
“What if what we are doing is making things worse — worse for us, worse for the people, worse for the cause of peace?” Paul asked.
However, this question remains largely neglected by the US policymakers. The lessons of the past remain unlearnt and what Washington is doing right now in Syria and Iraq is “the reactivation of the militarism,” he stressed.
The former Republican congressman emphasized that while pursuing the idea of regime change overseas, the US establishment is not bothered by the fact that the nations’ current governments may be better than anything Washington is going to suggest.
“We are sending more weapons in [Syria] because the foreign policy remains the same: it is a militant foreign policy of intervention, it’s based on the assumption that we are responsible for the world at large, that we are policemen of the world, and chaos would break out if we weren’t there to bring about order. And all you have to do is look at history and look at the Middle East, chaos, you know, follows our interventions,” Paul underscored.
The former chief judge that presided over Saddam Hussein’s trial told RT in an exclusive interview how the tribunal, which was dependent on the US, lacking in legitimacy, and overshadowed by the killing of lawyers, sentenced the Iraqi strongman to death.
In November of 2006, Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death by hanging three years after a US-led “coalition of the willing” invaded Iraq, removing him from power as the country’s leader. The hanging itself was carried out at the US’ Camp Justice military base – an act that has been criticized by a number of governments and described by rights groups as cruel and unfair.
The tribunal leading to the death sentence was also regarded by many as a “political show” and “vengeful action,” with international law experts questioning its legitimacy and fairness.
Former Chief Judge Rizgar Amin, who oversaw the trial of Hussein and seven former members of his government, shared details regarding the notorious trial with RT. Amin, the only judge whose name was made public at the trial’s opening in October of 2005, resigned in January of 2006 following pressure from the government to speed up the proceedings, according to Reuters.
“The trial was, to a larger extent, of a political nature. Ruling circles as well as various political forces had impact on it,” he said.
Amin pointed out that the Iraq Special Tribunal (IST), which conducted the trial, had been created in 2003 by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), a body set up by the occupying forces to administer the country following the US invasion.
The CPA operated on Iraqi soil as a Pentagon division. It had executive, legislative, and judicial authority in the defeated country, and the Authority’s head, Lewis Paul Bremer, was the de-facto governor of Iraq until mid-2004. His first decrees disbanded the Iraqi army and ruling Ba’ath party, and created an Iraqi Governing Council. Its members were handpicked by Bremer from groups and persons that welcomed the 2003 invasion.
“The United States’ role has been instrumental to create and finance the trial,” Amin added. “They also provided it with everything necessary to operate. Even trial-related expenses have been adopted by Iraqi Governing Council.”
Dependence on the US-led occupation authority wasn’t the only factor influencing the trial’s impartiality and fairness. “To my utmost regret, I must admit that the trial of Saddam Hussein had been victor’s justice, rather than manifestation of principles it used to serve. A thirst for revenge dominated the hearings.”
Apart from the spirit of the trial, the competence of the judges and the statutes authorizing the tribunal have been called into question by international observers. Human Rights Watch said in 2003 that the law did not require the tribunal’s judges and prosecutors to have experience in complex criminal cases, such as that of Saddam Hussein, nor did it require that guilt be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, which is regarded a cornerstone of any criminal trial.
The ability of the defense counsel to vigorously represent their clients without fear of reprisal or retaliation, another key issue for any fair trial, was also missing. “In theory, according to a law on court proceedings, lawyers’ rights have to be ensured, but unfortunately, it was not the case in reality,” Amin said.
“As we know, [Saddam Hussein’s] chief lawyer was abducted and killed after the first hearing. Other lawyers have been intimidated or even murdered. The lawyers’ security was inadequate which made fairness of the court’s judgments doubtful.”
On June 21, 2006, Khamis al-Obeidi, Saddam Hussein’s defense counsel, was abducted from his home in Baghdad and shot dead. Lawyers representing other defendants were either abducted, found dead, or forced to flee the country for their lives.
Despite the entire trial falling into disarray, the judges sentenced Saddam to death by hanging on November 5, 2006. As Chief Judge Ra’uf Abdel Rahman, who had replaced Judge Amin, read the verdict aloud, a defiant Saddam shouted, “Long live the people! Long live the Arab nation! Down with the spies!”
According to media reports, he was executed by hanging on December 30, 2006 at approximately 6 am local time at Camp Justice, a US military base in the northern part of Baghdad. Even the execution time violated the law. “Pursuant to Article 290 of Iraq’s Criminal Procedure Code, death penalty cannot be carried out on official holidays, as well as holidays relating to religion of an indicted person,” Judge Amin said.
Saddam was executed on the first day of an important Sunni Islamic holiday, Eid ul-Adha, “obviously a breach of the above article,” Amin added, and “a mandatory 30-day period between final verdict and execution – set out in Article 27 of the Code – was not respected”.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has dismissed Sen. Bernie Sanders questioning her qualifications to be President as “silly” – and looking at her résumé alone, she’d be right – but there is also the need to judge her performance in her various jobs.
What is troubling about Clinton’s record is that she has left behind a trail strewn with failures and even catastrophes. Indeed, her highest profile undertakings almost universally ended in disaster – and a person’s record should matter when voters are deciding whether to entrust him or her with the most powerful office on earth.
In other words, it’s not just a question of her holding one prestigious job or another; it’s also how well she did in those jobs. Otherwise, you have a case of the Peter Principle Squared, not just letting someone rise to the level of his or her incompetence, but in Clinton’s case, continuing to get promoted beyond her level of incompetence.
So, looking behind Clinton’s résumé is important. After all, she presents herself as the can-do candidate who will undertake small-scale reforms that may not move the needle much but are better than nothing and may be all that’s possible given the bitterly divided Congress.
But is Hillary Clinton really a can-do leader? Since she burst onto the national scene with her husband’s presidential election in 1992, she has certainly traveled a lot, given many speeches and met many national and foreign leaders – which surely has some value – but it’s hard to identify much in the way of her meaningful accomplishments.
Clinton’s most notable undertaking as First Lady was her disastrous health insurance plan that was concocted with her characteristic secrecy and then was unveiled to decidedly mixed reviews. Much of the scheme was mind-numbing in its complexity and – because of the secrecy – it lacked sufficient input from Congress where it found few enthusiastic supporters.
Not only did the plan collapse under its own weight, but it helped take many Democratic members of Congress with it, as the Republicans reversed a long era of Democratic control of the House of Representatives in 1994. Because of Hillary Clinton’s health-care disaster, a chastened Democratic Party largely took the idea of providing near-universal health-insurance coverage to Americans off the table for the next 15 years.
In Clinton’s next career as a senator from New York, her most notable action was to enthusiastically support President George W. Bush’s Iraq War. Clinton did not just vote to authorize the war in 2002, she remained a war supporter until 2006 when it became politically untenable to do so, that is, if she had any hope of winning the Democratic presidential nomination against anti-war Sen. Barack Obama.
Both in her support for the war in the early years and her politically expedient switch – along with a grudging apology for her “mistake” – Clinton showed very little courage.
When she was supporting the war, the post-9/11 wind was at Bush’s back. So Clinton joined him in riding the jingoistic wave. By 2006, the American people had turned against the war and the Republican Party was punished at the polls for it, losing control of Congress. So it was no profile-in-courage for Clinton to distance herself from Bush then.
Not Learning Lessons
Still, Clinton seemed to have learned little about the need to ask probing questions of Bush’s team. In November 2006, she completely misread Bush’s firing of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and replacing him with ex-CIA Director Robert Gates. Serving on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Clinton bought the conventional wisdom that Gates’s nomination meant that Bush was winding down the Iraq War despite warnings that it actually meant the opposite.
If Clinton had done any digging, she could have discovered that Rumsfeld was dumped not because of his warmongering but because he backed his field generals – George Casey and John Abizaid – who wanted to rapidly shrink the U.S. military “footprint” in Iraq. But Bush and his neocon advisers saw that as effectively an admission of defeat, so they got rid of Rumsfeld and recruited the more malleable Gates to front for their planned escalation or “surge.”
Not only did Consortiumnews.com spell out that reality in real time, but it also was explained by right-wing pundit Fred Barnes in the neocon Weekly Standard. As Barnes wrote, Gates “is not the point man for a boarding party of former national security officials from the elder President Bush’s administration taking over defense and foreign policy in his son’s administration. … Rarely has the press gotten a story so wrong.”
Barnes reported instead that the younger George Bush didn’t consult his father and only picked Gates after a two-hour face-to-face meeting at which the younger Bush got assurances that Gates was onboard with the neocon notion of “democracy promotion” in the Middle East and shared Bush’s goal of victory in Iraq. [The Weekly Standard, Nov. 27, 2006]
But the mainstream press — and much of Official Washington — loved the other storyline. A Newsweek cover pictured a large George H.W. Bush towering over a small George W. Bush. Embracing this conventional wisdom, Clinton and other Senate Armed Services Committee members brushed aside the warnings about Gates, both his troubling history at the CIA and his likely support for a war escalation.
In his 2014 memoir, Duty, Gates reflects on his 2006 nomination and how completely clueless Official Washington was. Regarding the conventional wisdom about Bush-41 taking the reins from Bush-43, Gates wrote about his recruitment by the younger Bush: “It was clear he had not consulted his father about this possible appointment and that, contrary to later speculation, Bush 41 had no role in it.”
Regarding the mainstream news media’s wrongheaded take on his nomination, Gates wrote: “There was a lot of hilarious commentary about a return to ‘41’s’ team, the president’s father coming to the rescue, former secretary of state Jim Baker pulling all the strings behind the scenes, and how I was going to purge the Pentagon of Rumsfeld’s appointees, ‘clean out the E-Ring’ (the outer corridor of the Pentagon where most senior Defense civilians have their offices). It was all complete nonsense.”
Though Gates doesn’t single out Hillary Clinton for misreading the significance of his nomination, Gates wrote: “The Democrats were even more enthusiastic, believing my appointment would somehow hasten the end of the war. … They professed to be enormously pleased with my nomination and offered their support, I think mainly because they thought that I, as a member of the Iraq Study Group [which had called for winding down the war], would embrace their desire to begin withdrawing from Iraq.”
In other words, Hillary Clinton got fooled again.
Surging for Surges
Once installed at the Pentagon, Gates became a central figure in the Iraq War “surge,” which dispatched 30,000 more U.S. troops to Iraq in 2007. The “surge” saw casualty figures spike. Nearly 1,000 additional American died along with an untold number of Iraqis. And despite another conventional wisdom about the “successful surge” it failed to achieve its central goal of getting the Iraqis to achieve compromises on their sectarian divisions.
Yet, the mainstream press didn’t get any closer to the mark in 2008 when it began cheering the Iraq “surge” as a great success, getting spun by the neocons who noted a gradual drop in the casualty levels. The media honchos, many of whom supported the invasion in 2003, ignored that Bush had laid out specific policy goals for the “surge,” none of which were achieved.
In Duty, Gates reminds us of those original targets, writing: “Prior to the deployment, clear benchmarks should be established for the Iraqi government to meet during the time of the augmentation, from national reconciliation to revenue sharing, etc.”
Those benchmarks were set for the Iraqi government to meet, but the goals were never achieved, either during the “surge” or since then. To this day, Iraq remains a society bitterly divided along sectarian lines with the out-of-power Sunnis again sidling up to Al Qaeda-connected extremists and even the Islamic State.
But Clinton didn’t have the courage or common sense to recognize that the Iraq War “surge” had failed. After Obama appointed her as Secretary of State – as part of a naïve gesture of outreach to a “team of rivals” – Clinton fell back in line behind Official Washington’s new favorite conventional wisdom, the “successful surge.”
In the end, all the Iraq War “surge” did was buy President Bush and his neocon advisers time to get out of office before the failure of the Iraq War became obvious to the American public. Its other primary consequence was to encourage Defense Secretary Gates, who was kept on by President Obama as a gesture of bipartisanship, to conjure up another “surge” for Afghanistan.
In that context, in Duty, Gates recounts a 2009 White House meeting regarding the Afghan War “surge.” He wrote: “The exchange that followed was remarkable. In strongly supporting the surge in Afghanistan, Hillary told the president that her opposition to the surge in Iraq had been political because she was facing him in the Iowa primary [in 2008]. She went on to say, ‘The Iraq surge worked.’
“The president conceded vaguely that opposition to the Iraq surge had been political. To hear the two of them making these admissions, and in front of me, was as surprising as it was dismaying.” Obama’s aides disputed Gates’s suggestion that the President indicated that his opposition to the Iraq “surge” was political, noting that he had always opposed the Iraq War. The Clinton team never challenged Gates’s account.
In other words, having been an Iraq War hawk when it mattered – from 2002-06 – Hillary Clinton changed direction when that was politically expedient, apologizing for her “mistake,” but then returned to her enthusiasm for the war by accepting the benighted view that the “surge worked.”
Clinton’s enthusiasm for “surges” also influenced her to side with Gates and General David Petraeus, a neocon favorite, to pressure Obama into a “surge” for Afghanistan, sending in an additional 30,000 troops on a bloody, ill-fated “counterinsurgency” mission. Again, the cost in American lives was about 1,000 soldiers but their sacrifice did little to shift the war’s outcome.
Again and again, Hillary Clinton seemed incapable of learning from her costly errors – or perhaps she just understands that the politically safest course is to do what Washington’s neocon-dominated foreign policy establishment wants done. That way you get hailed as a serious thinker in the editorial pages of The Washington Post and at the think-tank conferences.
Virtually all the major columnists and big-name pundits praised Clinton’s hawkish tendencies as Secretary of State, from her escalating tensions with Iran to tipping the balance of the Obama administration’s debate in favor of a “regime change” mission in Libya to urging direct U.S. military intervention in Syria in pursuit of another “regime change” there.
On the campaign trail, Clinton seeks to spin all these militaristic recommendations as somehow beneficial to the United States. But the reality is quite different.
Regarding Iran, in 2010, Secretary Clinton personally killed a promising initiative sponsored by Brazil and Turkey (at President Obama’s request) to get Iran to swap much of its low-enriched uranium for radiological medical tests. Instead, Clinton followed the path laid out by Israel and the neocons, ratchet up pressure on Iran and keep open the “bomb-bomb-bomb Iran” option.
It is noteworthy that the diplomatic agreement with Iran to restrain its nuclear program and to give up much of its low-enriched uranium required Clinton’s departure from the State Department in 2013. I’m told that Obama understood that he needed to get her out of the way for the diplomacy to work.
But Clinton’s signature project as Secretary of State was another war of choice, this time the “regime change” in Libya resulting in the grisly murder of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and the descent of Libya into a failed state beset with terrorism, including the killing of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other U.S. diplomatic personnel in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, and more recently the emergence of the Islamic State.
Clinton and her “liberal interventionist” allies sold the Libyan war as a “responsibility to protect” mission – or R2P – but the propaganda about Gaddafi’s supposed plans for “genocide” against the Libyan people was wildly exaggerated and fit with a long and sorry pattern of U.S. officials deceiving the U.S. public. [For more details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Covering Up Hillary’s Libyan Fiasco.”]
According to all accounts, Obama was on the fence about the wisdom of joining European nations in undertaking the Libyan “regime change” and it was Secretary Clinton who tipped his decision toward going to war. The U.S. military then provided the crucial technological infrastructure for the war to go forward. Without the U.S. involvement, the “regime change” in Libya wouldn’t have happened.
As the conflict raged, Clinton’s State Department email exchanges revealed that her aides saw the Libyan war as a chance to pronounce a “Clinton doctrine,” bragging about how Clinton’s clever use of “smart power” could get rid of demonized foreign leaders like Gaddafi. But President Obama seized the spotlight when Gaddafi’s government fell.
But Clinton didn’t miss a second chance to take credit on Oct. 20, 2011, after militants captured Gaddafi, sodomized him with a knife and then murdered him. Appearing on a TV interview, Clinton celebrated Gaddafi’s demise with the quip, “we came; we saw; he died.”
However, with Gaddafi and his largely secular regime out of the way, Islamic militants expanded their power over the country. Many, it turned out, were terrorists, just as Gaddafi had warned. Some were responsible for killing Ambassador Stevens.
Over the next five years, Libya – a once prosperous North African country – descended into anarchy with dozens of armed militias and now three competing governments jockeying for power. Meanwhile, the Islamic State expanded its territory around the city of Sirte and engaged in its signature practice of beheading “infidels,” including a group of Coptic Christians slaughtered on a beach.
Yet, on the campaign trail, Clinton continues to defend her instigation of the Libyan war, disputing any comparisons between it and the Iraq War by rejecting any “conflating” of the two. Yet, the two disasters – while obviously having some differences – do deserve to be conflated because they have many similarities. Both were wars of choice justified by false and misleading claims and having terrible outcomes.
Clinton’s rejection of “conflating” the two wars has another disturbing element to it, the suggestion that she is incapable of extracting lessons from one situation and applying them to another. That inability to analyze, engage in self-criticism, and thus avoid repeating the same mistakes may indeed be a disqualifying characteristic for someone seeking the U.S. presidency.
So, is Hillary Clinton “qualified” to be President of the United States? While her glittering résumé may say one thing, her record – a litany of misjudgments, miscalculations and catastrophes – may say something else.
[For information about Hillary Clinton’s earlier career, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Clinton’s Experience: Fact and Fantasy.”]
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).
Introduction: The terror bombings in Paris and Brussels have raised a cacophony of voices, ranging from state officials, Prime Ministers and Presidents, to academics, journalists and media consultants. Tons of ink and print have focused on the psychology, networks and operations of the alleged perpetrators – radicalized young Muslim citizens of the EU.
Few have examined the long-term, large-scale policies of the EU, US and NATO, which have been associated with the development and growth of the worldwide terror networks. This essay will discuss the historical links between Islamist terrorists and the US-Saudi Arabian-Pakistani intervention in Afghanistan, as well as the consequences of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. In Iraq, the US implemented a deliberate policy of destroying all secular state structures and promoting the Balkanization of the country via ethnic-religious and tribal wars – a policy it has followed in subsequent areas of intervention.
The last section will focus on the US-EU-Gulf Petrol-Monarchy proxy invasions and ‘regime change’ bombings of the secular republics of Libya and Syria with the further cultivation and growth of international Islamist terrorism.
Historical Origins of International Islamist Terrorism: Afghanistan
In 1979, President James Carter and his National Security Chief, Zbigniew Brzezinski, launched Operation Cyclone, a major Islamist uprising against the Soviet- aligned secular Afghan regime. The US coordinated its campaign with the rabidly anti-Soviet monarchy in Saudi Arabia, which provided the funding and mercenaries for ‘international jihad’ against secular governance. This brutal campaign ‘officially’ lasted 10 years until the Soviet withdrawal in 1989. It produced millions of casualties and decades of ‘blow-back’ when the CIA-Pakistani-Saudi trained Arab mercenaries (the ‘Afghan-Arabs’) returned to their home countries and elsewhere. The US intelligence agencies, Special Forces Commands and military directorates (especially Pakistan’s ISI intelligence service) trained and armed terrorists with US-Saudi funding. The American covert financial contribution mushroomed over the years rising to over $670 million dollars a year by 1987. Tens of thousands of Islamist mercenaries and adventurers were recruited from the Middle East, North Africa, the Gulf States, the Soviet Union (Chechens), Yugoslavia (Bosnians and Kosovars), China (Uigurs) and Western Europe.
With the defeat of the secular regime of President Najibullah in 1992, the Islamists and tribal factions then fought among themselves, converting Afghanistan into the world’s best-equipped training ground for International Islamist terrorists. Eventually, the Pashtun-based Taliban faction (with Pakistani arms and support) prevailed and established an extreme Islamist regime. The Taliban, despite its rhetoric, settled down to consolidating their brand of ‘Islamism in one country’, (1995-2001), a largely nationalist project. In its quest for respectability, it successfully destroyed the opium poppy fields, earning the praise of US President GW Bush in spring 2001. It also hosted a variety of Saudi princes and warlords, eventually including the jihadi-internationalist Osama bin Laden, who had been driven from North Africa.
Following the terrorist attack on the US in September 2001, the US and NATO invaded Afghanistan on October 2001 and overthrew the nation-centered Islamist Taliban regime. The subsequent chaos and guerrilla war opened up a huge new inflow and outflow of thousands of international extremists who came to Afghanistan, trained, fought and then departed, fully prepared to practice their terrorist skills in their countries of origin in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.
The US interventions and invasion of Afghanistan provide some of the context for the subsequent bombings in Europe and the US. The Islamist ‘returnees’ to Europe and elsewhere had received funds from Saudi Arabia and training from the CIA and Pakistani intelligence. They began their work among a very ‘available’ constituency of potential recruits in the marginalized Muslim youth of the ghettos and prisons of Europe.
The Middle Period: the US-Zionist Invasion and Destruction of Iraq
The turning point in the growth and internationalization of Islamist terrorism was the US invasion, occupation and systematic reign of terror in Iraq. Largely under the guidance of key US Zionist policymakers (and Israeli advisers) in the Pentagon, State Department and the White House, the US dismantled the entire secular Iraqi army and police forces. They also purged the administrative, civil, educational, medical and scientific institutions of nationalistic secular professionals, opening the field to warring Islamist tribal factions. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians were killed and millions fled in a regime of ethnic cleansing – which Washington touted as a model for the rest of the Middle East. However, thousands of experienced, but jobless Iraqi military officers, who had survived the US-orchestrated purges, regrouped and eventually joined with tens of thousands of nationalist and internationalist Islamist extremists to form ISIS. Their motives were arguable less ethno-religious and more related to revenge for their displacement and the destruction of their own society.
The deliberate US (Zionist)-EU-Saudi strategy to divide and conquer Iraq initially involved working closely with Sunni feudal tribal leaders and other extremists to counter the rising power of pro-Iranian Shia. They promoted a policy of fragmenting the country with the Kurds dominating in the North, the Sunnis in the center and the Shia in the south (the so-called Joseph Biden-Leslie Gelb Plan of national dismemberment and ethnic cleansing). The rationale was to create a weak central authority completely under US-EU tutelage and a loose group of fragmented subsistence fiefdoms in what had been the most advanced secular Arab republic.
Despite pouring billions of dollars in arms from the US to create a puppet-colonial Iraqi ‘national army’, the Saudis and Israelis pursued their own policy of financing sectors of the Kurds and violent Sunni opposition – with the latter forming the original mass base of ISIS.
As the US-client Shia regime in Baghdad focused on stealing billions while killing or exiling hundreds of thousands of educated Sunnis, Christians and other secular Iraqis from the capital, the morale of its US-puppet troops plummeted. With the entire experienced and nationalist Iraqi officer core purged (slaughtered or driven into hiding), the new puppet officers were cowardly, corrupt and incompetent – as openly acknowledged by their US ‘advisers’. ISIS, meanwhile had acquired hundreds of thousands of US weapons and was financed by the Shia-hating Saudi Royal Family and other Gulf Monarchs. Armed Sunnis soon launched major, lightning-quick offensives under the leadership of ex-Baathist army officers, supported by thousands of terrorists, suicide bombers and foreign mercenaries. US and European ‘military experts’ expressed ’shock’ at their effectiveness.
ISIS routed the Baghdad-controlled army, their US advisers and Kurdish allies from northern Iraq, capturing major cities, including Mosul, thousands of productive oil wells and drove their forces to within a few dozen kilometers of Baghdad. Territorial conquest and military successes attracted thousands more Islamist volunteers from the Middle East, Europe, Afghanistan and even North America. ISIS provided the military training; Saudi Arabia paid their salaries; Turkey purchased their captured oil and antiquities and opened its borders to the transfer of jihadi troops and weapons. Israel, for its part, purchased captured ISIS petrol at a discount from corrupt Turkish traders. Each regional player had its snout in the bloody trough that had once been Iraq!
ISIS successes in Iraq, led it to expand its operations and ambitions across the border into Syria. This occurred just as the US and EU were bombing and destroying the secular government of Colonel Gadhafi in Libya, in another ‘wildly successful’ planned campaign of ‘regime change’ (According to US Secretary of State Clinton as she gleefully watched the captive wounded Gadhafi ’snuff film’ by unspeakable torture – ‘WE came and HE died’.).
The chaos that ensued in Libya led to an exponential growth of extremist Islamist groups with tons of weapons of ‘liberated’ Libyan weapons! Islamist terrorists in Libya gained territory, took over oil wells and attracted ‘volunteers’ from the marginalized youth of neighboring Tunisia, Egypt, Mali and as far away as Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. Flush with more guns, money and training. Many graduates went on to Syria and Iraq.
The Contemporary Period: EU-US-Turkey-Saudi-Israeli Sponsored War in Syria
In 2011, as ISIS rolled across the Iraqi border into Syria and terrorist Islamist bands seized cities in Libya, the US-EU-Turkish-Saudi and Israeli regimes financed and armed Islamist (and the mythical ‘moderate’) forces in Syria to overthrow the nationalist-secular Syrian regime of Bashar al Assad.
Thousands of Islamist extremist volunteers heeded the call (and the fat paychecks) of the Saudi regime and its Salafist propagandists. These constituted the Saudi Royal Family’s own ‘Foreign Legion’. They were trained and armed and shipped into Syria by Turkish intelligence. The US armed and trained hundreds of its own so-called ‘moderate rebels’ whose fighters quickly defected to ISIS and other terrorist groups turning over tons of US arms, while the ‘moderate rebel leaders’ gave press conferences from London and Washington. ISIS seized swaths of Syrian territory, sweeping westward toward the Russian naval and air bases on the coast and upward from the south, encircling Damascus. Millions were uprooted and minority populations were enslaved or slaughtered.
The news of ISIS territorial gains with their plundered oil wealth from sales to Turkey and the flow of arms from Saudi Arabia, the EU and the US attracted over 30,000 ‘volunteer’ mercenaries from North America, Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.
These new terrorists received military training, including bomb making and logistical planning in Syria. Many were citizens of the EU, Islamist extremists, numbering over five thousand. These young fighters trained and fought in Syria and then returned to France, Belgium, Germany and the rest of the EU. They had gone to Syria with the tacit support and/or tolerance of their own European governments who had used them, rather than NATO troops, in the US-EU campaign of ‘regime change’ against Damascus.
The European governments were sure they had ‘their’ Muslim recruits under control as they joined the US in a reckless policy of overthrowing independent secular governments in the Middle East and North Africa. They happily encouraged their marginalized young Muslim citizens to flock to Syria and fight. They hoped they would remain in Syria (fighting on the ground or buried under the ground). Officially, EU leaders claimed to support ‘moderate rebels’ (the bland term Western media used to sanitize Islamist terrorists) fighting the Assad ‘dictatorship’. European regimes were not prepared to detain the battle hardened ‘returnees’, who had been trained in Iraq and Syria. These young European Muslims (children of immigrants or converts to Islam) had been heavily indoctrinated and incorporated into international terrorist networks. They easily melted back into their marginalized European urban ghettos – beyond the control of Europe’s bloated intelligence services.
In practice, the EU regimes saw the thousands of Europe’s Muslim youth flocking to Syria as an ‘EU Foreign Legion’, a glorified wastebasket for unemployed young thugs and ex-prisoners, who would advance NATO’s imperial goals while solving the domestic social problem of the marginalized children of North African migrants. Europe’s Muslim youth were viewed as convenient cannon fodder by NATO planners and the governments of France, Belgium and the UK. For public relations, it was better for these young men and women to die overthrowing the secular government in Syria than to send in European soldiers (white Christians) whose deaths would have domestic political repercussions.
The EU underestimated the depth of antagonism these ‘volunteers’ felt about US-EU intervention in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as their anger at Europe’s continued support for Israeli land grabs in Palestine. In its racist arrogance, EU leaders underestimated the capacity of ISIS to indoctrinate, train and organize these marginalized kids from Europe’s slums into effective international cells able to carry the war back to Europe.
The EU smugly overlooked the active roles of Turkey and Saudi Arabia who had their own independent, regional ambitions. Ankara and Riyadh trained and financed the ‘volunteers’, and facilitated their flow into Syria from camps in Turkey and Jordan. The wounded were treated in Turkey and sometimes even in Israel. Thousands, many EU citizens, would flow back into Europe or to their countries of origin in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as Russia.
The EU had slavishly and blindly followed Washington’s lead in all its Middle East wars. Now it is now paying a big price: Thousands of trained terrorists have returned; bombings and attacks on European civilians and civil structures have occurred, while the European government leaders trip over each other in a mad rush to dismantle civil and constitutional citizen rights and impose wide ranging police state measures (States of Emergency).
These new Saudi-funded terrorist recruits (Riyadh’s Legionnaires) are active in all the countries where the US and EU have launched proxy wars: Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan . . . Turkey funds ISIS terrorists in Syria, Iraq and Kurdish territories to advance its own expansionist ambitions – oblivious to the clucking disapproval of EU leaders. Now Turkey receives over 6 billion Euro’s from the EU in what amounts to blackmail: In return, Turkey will ‘contain’ the flood of regional refugees in barely disguised concentration camps out of European sight.
Ever since the US-EU policymakers decided to implement a war against Arab and West Asian secular nationalism in the Middle-East, Afghanistan, Iran and North Africa through serial ‘regime change’ campaigns they have relied on Islamist Salafist mercenaries and volunteers to do most of the killing on the ground, while the West operates from the air. Washington and its NATO allies operated on the assumption that they could use and then discard their recruits, mostly from marginalized urban youth and criminal gangs, once they had served imperial military purposes. A few with requisite talent and ruthlessness could be turned into puppet ‘leaders’ to unleash on the Russians and other ‘obstacles’ in future engagements.
The EU-US totally misunderstood the volunteers’ high level of independence, their organizational autonomy and their own understanding of the tactical nature of their alliance with Western imperialism. Islamist extremist leaders, like their Western counterparts, believe there are no permanent alliances – only permanent interests.
The EU and US have pursued a policy of overthrowing independent Muslim and secular Arab nations and returning them to the status of pre-independence semi-colonies. The rollback policy against secular nationalism (with its deep roots in the Dulles era) has extended from North Africa, through the Middle East to Southwest Asia. For its part, ISIS and its allies envision a return to a pre-colonial Islamic caliphate over the same lands and people to counter Western imperialism. Millions are caught in the middle.
ISIS views the Westernized secular elites in the Muslim countries as a fifth column for the spread of empire, while it has re-socialized and trained young Islamists from the EU to serve as networks of terrorists ‘behind enemy lines’ sowing mayhem in the West.
The political repercussions of this internationalized war are profound. Millions of civilians in the war zones have been and will be killed, uprooted and converted into desperate refugees flooding the EU. Police-state emergency rule, arbitrary searches, arrests and interrogations have become the norm in the highly militarized European airports, train and metro stations, as well as markets and cultural centers. The EU has increasingly undergone an ‘Israelization’ of its society, with its population polarized and resembling Israel- Palestinian . . . its Muslim community marginalized and confined into little Gaza’s.
In this charged atmosphere, Israeli high tech security companies and advisers flourish, mergers and acquisitions of police state technology multiply. Israeli Prime Minister Benny Netanyahu embraces the French Prime Minister Hollande in the club of electoral authoritarians.
Meanwhile the refugees and their children flow to and fro, the bombs come and go. We line up to place flowers on our latest dead and then pay our taxes for more wars in the Middle East. More young ‘volunteers’ will become cheap fodder to fight in our wars; some will return and plant more bombs, so we can mourn some more at patriotic vigils -protected by armed battalions…