Open Letter to American Liberals
By Thomas S. Harrington | Common Dreams | November 10, 2016
I would love to share, my liberal friend, in your sense of incredulity about the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of United States. I would love to stand with you in the sense of woundedness that, while certainly painful up front, carries with it the secondary compensation of a warm and nurturing solidarity. I would love to sit with you and fulminate in righteous anger about the unparalleled vulgarity and cruelty of Trump and his followers.
As much as I’d like to do these things, I won’t. Why?
Because I know you, perhaps better than you even dare to know yourself. I know you well because I have watched you with great and detailed care over the last three decades and have learned, sadly, that you are as much if not more about image and self-regard as any of the laudable values you claim to represent.
I have watched as you accommodated yourself to most of the retrograde social forces you claim to abhor. I have seen you be almost completely silent before the world’s greatest evil, unprovoked war, going so far as to embrace as your presidential candidate this year a person who cold-bloodedly carried out the complete destruction of Libya, a real country with real people who love their children like you and me, in order—as the Podesta emails make clear—to further her personal political ambitions.
I watched as you stood silent before this same person’s perverse on-camera celebration of the murder by way of a bayonet thrust to the anus of the leader of that once sovereign country, and before the tens of thousand of deaths, and hundreds of thousands of refugees, that war provoked.
I watched during the last eight years as you sought refuge in the evanescent qualities of skin color and smooth speechmaking so as to not to confront the fact that your “liberal” president was almost totally lacking in actionable convictions regarding the values you claim to be about.
I watched as you didn’t say a peep as he bailed out bankers, pursued whistleblowers and deported desperate and downtrodden immigrants in heretofore unimaginable numbers.
And I didn’t hear the slightest complaint (unlike those supposedly stupid and primitive libertarians) as he arrogated to himself the right to kill American citizens in cold blood as he and he alone deemed fit.
I monitored you as you not only completely normalized Israel’s methodical erasure of the Palestinian people and their culture, but made cheering enthusiastically for this campaign of savagery the ultimate litmus test for social and political respectability within your ranks.
I watched as you breezily dispatched the memories of the millions of innocent people destroyed by U.S. military aggression around the world and damaged police brutality here at home in order to slavishly imitate the unceasing orgy of uniform worship set in motion by the right and its media auxiliaries in the wake of September 11th, 2001.
In short, since 1992, I have watched as you have transformed a current of social thought once rooted in that most basic and necessary human sentiment—empathy—into a badge of cultural and educational superiority. And because feeling good about yourself was much more important to you than actually helping the afflicted, you signed off, in greater or lesser measure to almost all of the life-sapping and dignity-robbing measures of the authoritarian right.
And now you want me to share in your sense of shock and incredulity?
No, thanks, I’ll save my tears for all of the people, ideas and programs you heedlessly abandoned along the road to this day.
Thomas S. Harrington is a professor of Hispanic Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and the author of the recently published book, Livin’ la Vida Barroca: American Culture in a Time of Imperial Orthodoxies.
Weiner, Sexting and Emails
It all started with the FBI investigation regarding a ‘sexting‘ scandal. A 15-year-old girl reported having received compromising photos from Anthony Weiner, former husband of Hillary Clinton’s top advisor Huma Abedin. It is the type of situation where the person of interest’s computing devices are reviewed by the FBI to check the contents for clues or evidence. The problem is that Anthony Weiner’s computer is not just like any other but rather one that he shared with his then wife, Huma Abedin. From the small amount of information leaked, it seems that the New York FBI division charged with investigating the affair has for a long time been silent over the enormous 650,000 email archive found. That was until a few days ago, when the director of the FBI revealed, with a letter to Congress, that this data was considered relevant to the ongoing investigation regarding Hillary Clinton and her private email server. It is a huge revelation given the few days left before the elections, causing huge problems for the Democratic campaign.
The more appropriate question to ask is why the director of the FBI, James Comey, decided to inform Congress. The most likely answer points to a leak that would have otherwise caused irreparable damage the reputation of the FBI. Had the new information about Clinton been withheld by the FBI, then it is easy to imagine that the reaction would have been far worse for Comey than the criticism he is currently enduring.
The FBI and Wikileaks
While it is easy to assume that senior federal employees are mostly expressions of political interests, Andrew McCabe being an indicative example, it is unlikely that there is a complete control of all the employees of a large agency like the FBI. This is essentially what the story of Anthony Weiner, former husband of Abedin, centers on. Fox News reported that the FBI detachment in New York had for months ignored the email archive in the computer thanks to the plausible excuse of the lack of a mandate. It almost looks as if the FBI had managed to conceal this new discovery for a long time. It is a fact that in the past Clinton has repeatedly been saved from catastrophe, managing to block federal investigations and forcing the FBI chief to a ridiculous testimony before Congress in order that she not be investigated. It is her trail of scandals that has outraged many federal agents and members of the intelligence community. More than one source has revealed that the Bureau was facing the risk of an internal revolt driven by agents eager to release to the American public basic information regarding an ongoing investigation on one of the presidential candidates.
Therefore it is very difficult to believe that 650,000 emails were found on Abedin’s computer that were of little significance or even irrelevant. Otherwise what sense would there be in trying to keep them hidden? Evidently the agents working on the case have discovered explosive information.
Who is Huma Abedin?
Huma Mahmood Abedin is a good starting point down the rabbit hole of dirty and dangerous money. Born in 1976 in the United States, she moved with her family to Saudi Arabia two years later, returning to the US at the age of 18 to enrol at George Washington University. Certainly more interesting is the story of her parents, both Muslims and both heavily involved in Muslim Brotherhood networks as well as opaque financing mechanisms to structures linked Al Qaeda. How the daughter of two such controversial characters could come to occupy such an important role explains how deep down the rabbit hole this story goes.
To understand the influence of Abedin on Hillary Clinton, just think of all the latest scandals involving Clinton that revolve around the funding and indirect support of radical Islamist groups. From Libya to Egypt to Syria and Iraq, the trail of the State Department and the Clinton Foundation is everywhere. It is no wonder that a family like the Abedins have been able to forge such important friendships as the one with the possible future president of the United States. Abedin seems likely to be an intermediary connecting worlds that are adjacent but never fully overlapping. No American could ever accept the idea that alongside the next POTUS could be a person deeply embedded in such a milieu. But that is how it is. On September 11, 2001, for example, Abedin was simultaneously working for the Clinton Foundation as well as a charity subsequently discovered to be a front for money laundering on behalf of Bin Laden, as covered by Newsweek. The day when the twin towers collapsed, the current top advisor to the probable next US president was working for an organisation indirectly linked to Al Qaeda.
The American Deep State
When addressing the topic of Huma Mahmood Abedin, top advisor to Hillary Clinton, it is good to ask how deep we are willing to go to discover the mechanisms of American power, penetrating into the dark caverns and complex entrails of a state within a state, the so-called deep state.
To answer this question, it is good to define it. Generally, when we talk about the deep state, it means the various branches of power. The best known are certainly the military-industrial complex, energy giants, Wall Street, the mainstream news media, extremist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and its Wahhabi ideology, in addition to foreign lobbies, especially the Israeli and Saudi lobbies. Their interests are mainly based around the accumulation of money and their ability to generate more of it to buy influence.
Generally the major representatives of deep-state interests are the so-called think-tanks. These organisations, made up of experts and former members of the public and private sectors, exist primarily to influence and condition the political discussions, favoring the interests of their funders, which not surprisingly are precisely the industries and people related to the various branches of American power. As a result, think-tanks have now taken on a more central role in defining the domestic and foreign-policy postures of the United States.
Of course money also buys people in addition to associations. This is the case with direct donations to the election campaigns of senators and members of Congress by the giants of the deep state. Large companies, banks, financial institutions and the military industry use think-tanks, the media and politicians through their money with only one purpose: to protect and nurture their interests and their vision of the state within the state. Put simply, their objective is to continue to enrich themselves at the expense of taxpayers.
Wahhabism, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Deep State
In addition to the neo-conservative and liberal factions, as well as the Israel lobby, we find the ideological component of Wahhabi Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood participating in the US political system, playing an important role in the fashioning of American foreign policy. Suffice it to say that this trio has for more than two decades completely dominated the choices about foreign policy of the United States, with dire consequences. The Muslim Brotherhood, a creation inspired by the British MI6 in the early 1900s to fight nationalism and Arab governments with communist inclinations, quickly became the spiritual fathers of the Afghan freedom fighters. It is a monster that has continued to morph in our day from the Taliban in Afghanistan to Al Qaeda in the late 1990s to the 2000s, and currently metamorphosing into Al Nusra Front/Daesh. Of course in each of its historical iterations, Islamic extremism has been fomented and directed against nations hostile to American imperialism.
In recent years the once peaceful Arab Spring turned into violent riots thanks to the ideological inspiration of movements such as Saudi Wahhabism or the Muslim Brotherhood. This distorted view of Islam has often been the catalyst transforming initially peaceful movements into violent anti-government clashes. The Wahhabi ideology and the Muslim Brotherhood’s political interpretation of Islam unites such capitals as Riyadh, Doha and Ankara with those fighting for the Islamic caliphate, namely Al Nusra Front/Al Qaeda. US geopolitical ambitions have increased over the years through terrorist attacks and the consequent destabilization of nations opposed to Washington. The use of terrorism as a geopolitical weapon is not new for the United States when one remembers the stay-behind networks that operated in Europe during the Cold War.
This conglomerate of power has in the last 30 years guided American foreign policy, justifying interventions in foreign countries under the pretext of fighting terrorism (Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan), or by using terrorism as a tool of destabilization (Syria, Egypt, Yemen). Consequently, the Wahabi/Brotherhood component continues to play to this day a major role in the constant quest for global supremacy by the US deep state.
Clinton Foundation, Huma Abedin and US Deep State
The deep corruption that permeates the deep state has consistently enabled countries like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey to buy modern and advanced means of warfare produced in the US. A summary of the so-called pay-to-play scheme goes as follows: money comes into the coffers of the Clinton Foundation thanks to generous donations from Riyadh and Doha, and in return they are cleared by the State Department (headed for many years precisely by Clinton) for the sale of weapons. It is a simple mechanism that satisfies everyone: the foreign countries are able to get their hands on advanced weapons to be employed in future bloody wars; the weapons traders receive hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts; and the Clinton Foundation, as payment, receives millions of dollars in donations.
In a rather agreeable arrangement, the arms manufacturers earn back the money invested in election campaigns many times over, thanks to the resulting lucrative contracts closed with foreign countries. The consequences of such a wicked arrangement have been seen in wars of aggression by the Saudis against the Yemenis and the Turks against the Kurdish minority, all thanks to weapons sold by Washington. Another aspect of this arrangement relates to the sale of weapons to terrorists in the Middle East from the US thanks to the sponsorship of the Gulf nations. It is an evil system that in addition to enriching the producers of American weapons, as well as the Clinton Foundation together with satisfying the regional allies of the US, uses Gulf nations to provide cover to the US to directly provide advanced weaponry to terrorists. A typical example of this perverse arrangement is easily verifiable in the events in Benghazi, which still awaits truth and justice.
The drama around the emails contained on the computer of Huma Abedin and her ex-husband is probably attributable to the concrete risk that all this mess gets uncovered, including the unspeakable role of Clinton and her foundation in international terrorism. It remains to be seen in this complicated journey into the deep state what role the FBI and Donald Trump are playing. Although personally I have many doubts about the figure of Trump, one thing I am quite certain of is that a vast chasm separates him from the center of America’s deep-state establishment. While Clinton is a direct product of this tumor, Donald Trump comes from another set of circumstances, marshalling around him that patriotic feeling that many, even within the US government, are beginning to feel, particularly given that America’s international credibility, together with its confidence domestically, has collapsed dramatically.
Despite the constant efforts of the mainstream media to refute this representation of reality, the feeling is increasingly common in the minds of Americans that much of what ails the country today is this degenerate web of economic, political and strategic corruption. Many Americans are tired of seeing their nation fighting senseless wars far away from home without any real threat to their national security but with costs in the order of trillions of dollars.
The United States has been flirting immorally and illegally with organizations dedicated to terrorism, thanks to the many deep-state links. Such collusion existed before and after September 11, subsequently triggering the Arab Spring and destabilizing countries like Libya, Syria and Iraq. What we have seen in the last few days with Comey’s revelations may represent a veritable Pandora’s box. It is impossible to determine whether this scandal will eventually overwhelm Hillary Clinton. Perhaps the leaders of the deep state have decided to destroy the nomination of the Democratic nominee in favor of Donald Trump. Or maybe not; right now every hypothesis is valid. But if Trump wins on November 8, it may represent the triumph of the American people’s will to discard once and for all anything that even remotely smells of the ‘deep state’, the redolence of which hangs heavily over Clinton and her aide Huma Mahmood Abedin.
In the past week, Burundi and South Africa have joined Namibia in declaring their intention to withdraw from the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). They are likely to be followed by a parade of other African countries, jeopardizing the future of an international court that has prosecuted 39 officials from eight African countries but has failed to indict a single person who is not African.
Ironically, African countries were among the first to embrace the ICC, so it is a striking turnaround that they are now the first to give up on it.
But it is the United States that has played the leading role in preventing the ICC from fulfilling the universal mandate for which it was formed, to hold officials of all countries accountable for the worst crimes in the world: genocide; crimes against humanity; and war crimes – not least the crime of international aggression, which the judges at Nuremberg defined as “the supreme international crime” from which all other war crimes follow.
As the ICC’s founding father, former Nuremberg prosecutor Benjamin Ferencz, lamented in 2011, “You don’t have to be a criminologist to realize that if you want to deter a crime, you must persuade potential criminals that, if they commit crimes, they will be hauled into court and be held accountable. It is the policy of the United States to do just the opposite as far as the crime of aggression is concerned. Our government has gone to great pains to be sure that no American will be tried by any international criminal court for the supreme crime of illegal war-making.”
The U.S. has not only refused to accept the jurisdiction of the ICC over its own citizens. It has gone further, pressuring other countries to sign Bilateral Immunity Agreements (BIA), in which they renounce the right to refer U.S. citizens to the ICC for war crimes committed on their territory.
The U.S. has also threatened to cut off U.S. aid to countries that refuse to sign them. The BIAs violate those countries’ own commitments under the ICC statute, and the U.S. pressure to sign them has been rightly condemned as an outrageous effort to ensure impunity for U.S. war crimes.
Resistance to U.S. Impunity
To the credit of our international neighbors, this U.S. strategy has met with substantial resistance. The European Parliament overwhelmingly passed a resolution stating that BIAs are incompatible with E.U. membership, and urged E.U.- member states and countries seeking E.U. membership not to sign them.
Fifty-four countries have publicly refused to sign BIAs, and 24 have accepted cut-offs of U.S. aid as a consequence of their refusal. Of 102 countries that have signed a BIA, only 48 are members of the ICC in any case, and only 15 of those countries are on record as having ratified the BIAs in their own parliaments.
Thirty-two other ICC members have apparently allowed BIAs to take effect without parliamentary ratification, but this has been challenged by their own country’s legal experts in many cases.
The U.S. campaign to undermine the ICC is part of a much broader effort by the U.S. government to evade all forms of accountability under the laws that are supposed to govern international behavior in the modern world, even as it continues to masquerade as a global champion of the rule of law.
The treaties that U.S. policy systematically violates today were crafted by American statesmen and diplomats, working with their foreign colleagues, to build a world where all people would enjoy some basic protections from the worst atrocities, instead of being subject only to the law of the jungle or “might makes right.”
So current U.S. policy is a cynical betrayal of the work and wisdom of past generations of Americans, as well as of countless victims all over the world to whom we are effectively denying the protections of the U.N. Charter, the Geneva Conventions, the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and other multilateral treaties that our country ignores, violates or refuses to ratify.
Avoiding the jurisdiction of international courts is only one of the ways that the U.S. evades international accountability for its criminal behavior. Another involves an elaborate and well-disguised public relations campaign that exploit the powerful position of U.S. corporations in the world of commercial media.
Major Propaganda Funding
The U.S. government spends a billion dollars per year on public relations or, more bluntly, propaganda, including $600 million from the Pentagon budget. The work of its P.R. teams and contractors is laundered by U.S. newspapers and repeated and analyzed ad nauseam by monolithic, flag-waving TV networks.
These profitable corporate operations monopolize the public airwaves in the U.S., and also use their financial clout, slick marketing and the support of the U.S. State Department to maintain a powerful presence in foreign and international media markets.
Foreign media in allied countries provide further legitimacy and credibility to U.S. talking-points and narratives as they echo around the world. Meanwhile, Hollywood fills cinema and TV screens across the world with an idealized, glamorized, inspirational version of America that still mesmerizes many people.
This whole elaborate “information warfare” machine presents the United States as a global leader for democracy, human rights and the rule of law, even as it systematically and catastrophically undermines those same principles. It enables our leaders to loudly and persuasively demonize other countries and their leaders as dangerous violators of international law, even as the U.S. and its allies commit far worse crimes.
Double Standards in Syria/Iraq
Today, for instance, the U.S. and its allies are accusing Syria and Russia of war crimes in east Aleppo, even as America’s own and allied forces launch a similar assault on Mosul. Both attacks are killing civilians and reducing much of a city to rubble; the rationale is the same, counterterrorism; and there are many more people in the line of fire in Mosul than in east Aleppo.
But the U.S. propaganda machine ensures that most Americans see one, in Mosul, as a legitimate counterterrorism operation (with Islamic State accused of using the civilians as “human shields”) and the other, in east Aleppo, as a massacre (with the presence of Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, the former Nusra Front, virtually whited out of the West’s coverage, which focuses almost entirely on the children and makes no mention of “human shields”).
The phrase “aggressive war” is also a no-no in the Western media when the U.S. government launches attacks across international borders. In the past 20 years, the U.S. has violated the U.N. Charter to attack at least eight countries (Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Syria), and the resulting wars have killed about two million people.
A complex whirlwind of conflict and chaos rages on in all the countries where the U.S. and its allies have lit the flames of war since 2001, but U.S. leaders still debate new interventions and escalations as if we are the fire brigade not the arsonists. (By contrast, the U.S. government and the Western media are quick to accuse Russia or other countries of “aggression” even in legally murky situations, such as after the U.S.-backed coup in 2014 that ousted the elected president of Ukraine.)
Systematic violations of the Geneva Conventions are an integral part of U.S. war-making. Most are shrouded in secrecy, and the propaganda machine spins the atrocities that slip through into the public record as a disconnected series of aberrations, accidents and “bad apples,” instead of as the result of illegal rules of engagement and unlawful orders from higher-ups.
The senior officers and civilian officials who are criminally responsible for these crimes under U.S. and international law systematically abuse their powerful positions to subvert investigations, cover up their crimes and avoid any accountability whatsoever.
When British playwright Harold Pinter was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2005, he bravely and brilliantly used his Nobel lecture to speak about the real role that the U.S. plays in the world and how it whitewashes its crimes. Pinter recounted a meeting at the U.S. Embassy in London in the 1980s in which a senior embassy official, Raymond Seitz, flatly denied U.S. war crimes against Nicaragua for which the U.S. was in fact convicted of aggression by the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Seitz went on to serve as Assistant Secretary of State, U.S. Ambassador to the U.K., and then Vice-Chairman of Lehman Brothers.
As Pinter explained: “this ‘policy’ was by no means restricted to Central America. It was conducted throughout the world. It was never-ending. And it is as if it never happened.
“The United States supported and in many cases engendered every right wing military dictatorship in the world after the end of the Second World War. I refer to Indonesia, Greece, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Haiti, Turkey, the Philippines, Guatemala, El Salvador, and, of course, Chile. The horror the United States inflicted upon Chile in 1973 can never be purged and can never be forgiven.
“Hundreds of thousands of deaths took place throughout these countries. Did they take place? And are they in all cases attributable to US foreign policy? The answer is yes they did take place and they are attributable to American foreign policy. But you wouldn’t know it.
“It never happened. Nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening it wasn’t happening. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest. The crimes of the United States have been systematic, constant, vicious, remorseless, but very few people have actually talked about them. You have to hand it to America. It has exercised a quite clinical manipulation of power worldwide while masquerading as a force for universal good. It’s a brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.”
If in 2016 the world seems to be more violent and chaotic than ever, it is not because the United States lacks the will to use force or project power, as both major party candidates for President and their military advisers appear to believe, but because our leaders have placed too much stock in the illegal threat and use of force and have lost faith in the rule of law, international cooperation and diplomacy.
After a century of commercial dominance, and 75 years of investing disproportionately in weapons, military forces and geopolitical schemes, perhaps it is understandable that U.S. leaders have forgotten how to deal fairly and respectfully with our international neighbors. But it is no longer an option to muddle along, leaving a trail of death, ruin and chaos in our wake, counting on an elaborate propaganda machine to minimize the blowback on our country and our lives.
Sooner rather than later, Americans and our leaders must knuckle down and master the very different attitudes and skills we will need to become law-abiding global citizens in a peaceful, sustainable, multipolar world.
Nicolas J S Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq. He also wrote the chapters on “Obama at War” in Grading the 44th President: a Report Card on Barack Obama’s First Term as a Progressive Leader.
Iran’s ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations has held the Israel regime responsible for the desperate plight of the Palestinian nation and exacerbation of tensions in the Middle East.
“The illegal and brutal Israeli occupation continues and causes so much anguish to the Palestinian people, and dangerously inflames tensions on the volatile situation in the region. The Israeli regime continues to breach international law, including humanitarian and human rights. By doing so, it inflicts widespread suffering to civilians and deliberately destabilizes the situation, with far–reaching and serious consequences for peace and security in the Middle East and beyond,” Gholam Ali Khoshroo stated at a Security Council Open Debate on “Situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian Question” on Wednesday.
He further lambasted the Tel Aviv regime’s systematic violations of Palestinians’ rights and international law, including house demolitions, forced displacement of civilians, detentions of minors, and incessant provocations by illegal settlers and extremists at revered sites, particularly al-Aqsa Mosque compound in the occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds.
Khoshroo said the Israeli regime has continually intensified its illegal and oppressive measures against the defenseless Palestinian population over the past years, killed and injured many civilians, and deprived Palestinians of their right to protection.
The Iranian diplomat then pointed to Israel’s settlement expansion activities in the occupied West Bank, stating that they are in clear breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, constitute war crimes under Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and demonstrate that Israel has never had any interest in peace with the Palestinians and its participation in the so-called peace process has only been aimed at covering up its policy of aggression.
Turning to Israel’s blockade on the impoverished Gaza Strip, the Iranian UN ambassador said the siege “is causing massive deprivation, hopelessness and a grave humanitarian crisis. The destructive impact of such Israeli violations is immense as reflected in rising tensions, deteriorating socio-economic conditions, and deepening among the Palestinian civilian population.”
Khoshroo also blamed illegal foreign intervention, extremism and violence for the ongoing conflicts in Libya, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
“These problems have persisted and deepened because the international community has failed to do its part in dealing with the root causes, and naive trans-regional players have done erroneous actions,” he pointed out.
Saudi Arabia’s military aggression on Yemen
Elsewhere in his remarks, Khoshroo referred to Riyadh’s aerial bombardment campaign against its crisis-hit southern neighbor, stressing that the airstrikes have killed or permanently maimed thousands of civilians, including women and children, displaced millions of people, and turned Yemen from a disadvantaged country into a devastated one.
“All these horrendous and heinous attacks, which display total disregard for human life and international law are happening under the watch of Security Council, which has failed to take any action to stop them,” the Iranian diplomat said.
Saudi Arabia has been engaged in an atrocious campaign against Yemen since March 2015. The United Nations puts the death toll from the onslaught at about 10,000.
The US military has dramatically increased the number of its airstrikes in Libya in less than a month, new data shows, further cementing President Barack Obama’s record of taking more military action than any other American president.
American fighter jets and drones stationed aboard the amphibious assault vessel USS Wasp off the Libyan coast, have so far carried out 324 airstrikes in the country, according to data by the Pentagon’s Africa Command, which leads the operation.
This is more than two times the 161 air raids that the US had carried out in Libya until September 21.
According to a report by Reuters, American aircraft had conducted more than 30 strikes across Libya between Saturday and Monday.
Washington began the air campaign on August 1, under the pretext of taking out the Daesh (ISIL) Takfiri terrorists, who rose to power in the oil-rich country after the NATO-backed ousting and death of longtime ruler Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Initially, the White House had claimed that the bombing campaign would be focused on the Libyan coastal city of Sirte, which fell to Daesh last year, and would end in a few “weeks.”
However, Obama silently extended the prolonged campaign for another month in late September.
The military intervention is likely to continue over the next months, as indicated by a US military official in a Fox News interview on Monday.
“We continue to work with GNA (the Government of National Accord) aligned forces as they clear through Sirte and we now have better intelligence,” the official told Fox on the condition of anonymity.
In addition to the bombing campaign, US troops have also been “in and out” of Libya, according to Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Gordon Trowbridge.
The Obama administration has set a new record in terms of military intervention abroad, carrying out airstrikes and ground operations in at least seven countries, namely Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Libya.
Earlier this year, Obama regretted meddling in Libya as his “worst mistake,” because it led to a power vacuum that gave rise to terrorist groups in the country.
The West is feverishly seeking someone to blame for the catastrophic situation in the Middle East. Following on from John Kerry, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has announced his intention to request that the International Criminal Court investigate Russian «war crimes» in Syria. Hillary Clinton, a contender for the post of US president, is also known for her attempts to put Russia in the dock. During the second presidential TV debate with Donald Trump on 9 October, she stated she supported efforts to probe «war crimes committed by the Syrians and the Russians and try to hold them accountable».
So do we need to clarify, once again, who is to blame? Let’s try.
America’s ‘Greater Middle East’ strategy, which involves violently redrawing the political map of a vast region, has destroyed the states of Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen, and has led to an unprecedented surge in terrorism, a tremendous loss of human life, and a large influx of refugees to Europe.
But America does not want to take the blame for what it has done.
Ahead of the change of administration in America, US legislators have been trying to make Saudi Arabia primarily responsible for the spread of terrorism. On 28 September, the US Senate and the House of Representatives passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), which entitles the relatives of US citizens killed in the 9/11 attacks to file lawsuits against Saudi Arabia and receive compensation.
Five days later, on 3 October, an article appeared in the Arab language newspaper Rai Al-Youm (published in London), written by its editor-in-chief Abdel Bari Atwan, that sheds light on which way the Arab world is leaning on the issue of who’s to blame.
A few words about the article’s author. Abdel Bari Atwan is the most prominent of today’s Arab journalists. The son of a refugee from Gaza, he was involved in the struggles of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) for a long time and was close to Yasser Arafat until they parted ways in 1993, when he disagreed with the hasty conclusion of peace with Israel. In the 1990s, he opposed UN sanctions against Iraq; not in defence of Saddam Hussein, however, but in defence of the rights and interests of the Iraqi people. In recent years, Atwan has written a great deal on the importance of establishing friendly relations between Sunni Arab states and Shi’ite Iran.
In his article, entitled «US law firms sharpening their knives for Saudi Arabia», Abdel Bari Atwan suggests how the Saudi authorities can oppose American blackmail. Here are his recommendations to Riyadh.
– Stop the senseless and bloody war in Yemen.
– Wind down its support of jihadist organisations in Syria.
– Take steps to normalise relations with Iran and Iraq.
– Seriously address the creation of an Arab lobby in the US (a pressing issue, since the Israel lobby in America is multilayered, works closely with the media and funds major research centres, while the Saudi lobbying effort is limited to banal bribery).
– Withdraw most of Saudi Arabia’s assets and investments from the US as soon as possible.
– Suspend all negotiations with Washington on an oil price agreement.
– Adopt measures allowing oil from the Persian gulf to be quoted in currencies other than US dollars (i.e. euro, yuan and roubles).
– File countersuits against the US through Muslim human rights organisations for war crimes committed in the Middle East between 2003 and the present day.
Abdel Bari Atwan says it is unlikely that the Saudi authorities will listen to him, but it seems as if the initiative has already struck a chord in other Arab countries. A group of Iraqi parliamentarians headed by Najeh al-Mizan has put forward a bill allowing Iraqi citizens to demand compensation from the US government for war crimes committed during the years of occupation (2003-2011) not just by the regular American army, but also contract soldiers from private military companies and ‘death squads’ set up using CIA money.
The outcome of America’s ‘presence’ in Iraq (or rather ‘the American genocide’) is truly horrifying. Even according to official (underestimated) data from the John Hopkins Institute, Americans and their accomplices killed 250,000 people (civilians) in Iraq during the occupation. According to Professor Juan Cole from the University of Michigan, this figure (direct losses) is as much as 450,000 people. Added to the victims of US sanctions in the 1990s, the number of deaths is close to one million. Most of these were children. Nobody can accuse US academic Juan Cole of incompetence or lobbying – he is a world-renowned expert on the modern Middle East and South Asia, a specialist in the history of Iran and Arab countries, and the author of 14 academic monographs.
But that is only the direct losses. There is also the destruction of Iraq’s state institutions and its law enforcement, health and education systems as a result of the American occupation, and the disintegration of relations between ethnicities and faiths.
The repercussions of the ‘Iraqi holocaust’ carried out by the Americans will be felt for many years to come. Here are some figures from the Australian scientist Dr. Gideon Polya. During the years of the crisis, there were 7.7 million refugees in Iraq. Of these, 5 million were internally displaced persons and 2.7 million fled the country. These included the cream of Iraqi society: doctors, teachers, engineers, university professors and businessmen. During the first few years of the occupation, 2,200 doctors and nursers were killed in Iraq. As a consequence of America’s use of bombs with low-enriched uranium, the number of cancer patients in the country increased from 40 per 100,000 people (1990) to 1,500 per 100,000 people (2005). And as a result of the actions of the occupation forces and sectarian fighting, there are currently three million widows and five million orphans in the country. 1.5 million Iraqi children are undernourished.
The world has not forgotten about the war crimes committed by America in the Middle East. Sooner or later, the US will have to answer for these crimes, no matter what Hillary Clinton says.
An American arms dealer, previously indicted for arming Libyan rebels, accused the US of using him as a scapegoat to protect Hillary Clinton. He says the government used his plan to ship weapons to Libya, some of which wound up in terrorists’ hands.
“I would say, 100 percent, I was victimized … to somehow discredit me, to throw me under the bus, to do whatever it took to protect their next presidential candidate,” Marc Turi told Fox News.
He says that he had specifically been targeted by the Obama administration for years. Eventually, he said, he “lost everything – my family, my friends, my business, my reputation.”
Indicted with four felony counts in 2014, Turi’s trial would have start on November 8, but the Department of Justice suddenly dropped charges against him last week.
Turi now says that the abrupt move was not just good luck for him, but rather let the US government avoid unwanted revelations, “especially in this election year.”
“Those transcripts from current as well as former CIA officers were classified,” Turi told Fox’s Catherine Herridge, referring to what would have been the major evidence against the US government. After two years of sparring over the evidence, the DOJ opted to toss out Turi’s case with prejudice.
“If any of these relationships [had] been revealed it would have opened up a can of worms. There wouldn’t have been any good answer for the US government especially in this election year,” he said.
The transcripts Turi referred to reportedly included his email exchange with Chris Stevens, America’s envoy to the Libyan opposition, in 2011. Turi was offering the government to supply Libyan rebels with conventional weapons through Qatar and UAE, to bypass the UN’s ban on direct sales. He called it “a zero footprint scheme.”
However, he told Fox News that he neither ever “shipped anything,” nor “even received the contract.”
“So all I received was an approval for $534 million to support our interests overseas. And it would have been the United States government that facilitated that operation from Qatar and UAE by way of allowing those countries to land their planes and land their ships in Libya,” he said.
Shortly after Turi’s exchange with Stevens, Hillary Clinton wrote in response to her aide Jake Sullivan’s memo, “fyi. the idea of using private security experts to arm the opposition should be considered.”
Turi believes it was not a coincidence that Clinton sent her email that day.
“When you look at this timeline, none of it was a coincidence. It was all strategically managed and it had to come from her own internal circle,” he said.
However, as he also told Fox News, he thinks those emails that contained any information about the weapons programs were deleted by Hillary Clinton and her team.
“It would have gone to an organization within the Bureau of Political Military affairs within the State Department known as PM/RSAT (Office of Regional Security and Arms Transfers.) That’s where you would find Jake Sullivan, Andrew Shapiro and a number of political operatives that would have been intimately involved with this foreign policy,” Turi said.
The email that Clinton sent to Sullivan, dated April, 8, 2011, was declassified and released on May 22, 2015, but that line about “private security experts” was redacted. The Select Committee on Benghazi, however, said it was one of the emails that highlighted “significant investigative questions.”
Nearly two years later, Clinton testified in front of the Senate about the 2012 Benghazi consulate attack, telling Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) that she did not know whether the US was involved in any weapons deals and arms transfers.
“With all the resources that they were throwing at me, I knew there would have to be some type of explanation of the operation that was going terribly wrong in Libya,” Turi said. “It is completely un-American … I was a contractor for the Central Intelligence Agency.”
Turi claims it was Clinton and the State Department that had the lead and people dealing with weapons flowing to Libya and Syria. What’s even more concerning is that, as Turi says, some arms might have ended in the hands of terrorists.
“Some [weapons] may have … [gone]out under control that we had with our personnel over there and the others went to these militia. That’s how they lost control over it,” Turi said. “I can assure you that these operations did take place and those weapons did go in different directions.”
He then did not rule out a possibility that terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda or Ansar al-Sharia and even Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) could have acquired those weapons.
“All of them, all of them, all of them,” he responded to Fox News.
However, with charges against Turi dropped, it is most likely that emails that could have exposed Clinton’s support for his “zero footprint” plan will remain secret.
“Documents that would have come out would be very embarrassing to the administration,” Daniel McAdams, Executive Director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, told RT. “What happened in Libya is that the US was pretending to send weapons to moderates and it ended up that they are all jihadists, all extremists.”
Conn M. Hallinan, a columnist for Foreign Policy in Focus, also said that if Turi’s case ever made it to trial, Clinton’s campaign would be ruined.
“Of course the United States was supplying weapons to the Libyan rebels. It’s very common for the US to use private contractors,” he told RT. “Libya was Hillary Clinton’s operation, she designed the entire Libya operation. That would have been a complete catastrophe and so she has backed herself away from it.”
The West keeps all of its mercenary terrorists, including its “A -Team”— al Qaeda and ISIS – well equipped with sophisticated weaponry.
In 2014, for example, when Lebanese and Libyan terrorists captured the world-renowned Krak des Chevaliers, a UNESCO world heritage site, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) faced a daunting challenge, not only because the castle is located at about 700 meters above sea level, but also because the terrorists were armed with US-supplied Tow anti-tank missiles launchers, and Rocket Propelled Grenade (RPG) launchers.
Not only does UN Resolution 2253 specifically prohibit arming terrorists (with good reason), but using the aforementioned terrorists as proxies in a dirty war against a sovereign country constitutes the most egregious of war crimes according to Nuremburg principles. Consequently, whenever possible, Empire commits its crimes covertly.
A Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) document clearly reveals that, in the aftermath of the West’s destruction of Libya, the armouries were looted, and the weapons were sent to Syria, in what intelligence agencies refer to as a “ratline”.
The report confirmed in October 2012 that,
“Weapons from the former Libya military stockpiles were shipped from the port of Benghazi, Libya to the Port of Banias and the Port of Borj Islam, Syria. The weapons shipped during late-August 2012 were Sniper rifles, RPG’s, and 125 mm and 155mm howitzers missiles.”
During the immediate aftermath of, and following the uncertainty caused by, the downfall of the Qaddafi regime in October 2011 and up until early September of 2012, weapons from the former Libya military stockpiles located in Benghazi, Libya were shipped from the port of Benghazi, Libya to the ports of Banias and the Port of Borj Islam, Syria. The Syrian ports were chosen due to the small amount of cargo traffic transiting these two ports. The ships used to transport the weapons were medium-sized and able to hold 10 or less shipping containers of cargo.” The report also details the type of weapons delivered:
“The weapons shipped from Syria during late-August 2012 were Sniper rifles, RPG’s and 125mm and 155mm howitzers missiles. The numbers for each weapon were estimated to be: 500 Sniper rifles, 100 RPG launchers with 300 total rounds, and approximately 400 howitzers missiles [200 ea – 125mm and 200ea – 155 mm.]”
Professor Michel Chossudovsky demonstrates in “U.S. ‘Military Aid’ to Al Qaeda, ISIS-Daesh: Pentagon Uses Illicit Arms Trafficking to Channel Enormous Shipments of Light Weapons into Syria”, however, that the aforementioned ratline is the tip of the iceberg.
Chossudovsky explains that since one shipment of light weapons destined for terrorists inside Syria weighs 990 tons, “one can reasonably conclude that the amounts of light weapons in the hands of ”opposition” rebels inside Syria is substantial and exceedingly large.”
The “packing list” is listed below:
|Simplified packing list for December 2015 arms shipment|
|AK-47 & DShK*||12,250||12,250|
|AK-47 & PKM*||6,540||6,540|
|DShK & RPG-7*||3,585||3,585|
The criminal West also uses its so-called “moderates” as vectors for weapons. In one instance, for example, the West delivered US anti-tank TOW missiles to the so-called “moderate” Harakat Hazm “rebels”, and within 48 hours the weapons were in the hands of al Qaeda/al Nursra Front.
Mainstream media (MSM) might paint such transactions as “mistakes”, but the Western war criminals and their MSM bullhorns always label their crimes as mistakes. Or have we forgotten the invasions of Iraq, Libya, Ukraine, and on and on?
All of these Western crimes advance and strengthen the reach of extremist Wahhabi terrorism and assault the very foundations of civilization.
The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) alone has lost about 100,000 soldiers thanks to the West, its terror proxies, and their sophisticated weapons. It is Syria, not the Western governments and their allies, that represents civilization and the rule of law.
For nearly six years, Washington and its allies have gotten away with playing a cynical double game in Syria’s war. But now the mask is slipping to reveal the ugly face of Western involvement – it is openly siding with terrorists.
Russia was correct to veto a French-sponsored draft resolution at the UN Security Council this weekend. Along with American and British vigorous support, the French proposal centered on halting military flights over the besieged northern Syrian city of Aleppo.
As Russia’s foreign ministry commented, the French initiative was tantamount to giving air cover for insurgents dominated by the internationally proscribed terrorist group Jabhat al Nusra. In short, a no-fly zone protecting terrorists would have been imposed in violation of Syrian sovereign rights, as well as international law.
An alternative draft resolution put forward by Russia was subsequently nixed by the US, Britain and France. The Russian proposal was aimed at reviving the ceasefire arrangement declared last month by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Moscow’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. It reiterated the need for anti-government militants to dissociate from the proscribed terrorist groups affiliated with al Qaeda, including al Nusra and Daesh (ISIS).
Russia is calling for a general ceasefire, but it does not specify the condition of halting military flights over Aleppo.
If France and its Western allies were genuine about wanting to stop the violence, then why don’t they get behind the Kerry-Lavrov deal? They have evidently abandoned that ceasefire arrangement because it was exposing Western claims about supporting “moderate rebels” as distinct from “extremists” as a fallacy.
That the Kerry-Lavrov truce was immediately violated by the insurgents and that there was no separation of “moderates” and “extremists” showed once and for all that Western claims of supporting “legitimate rebels” are a farce. Washington, London and Paris are patently backing a terrorist army fighting for their objective of regime change in Syria.
Since Syria and its Russian ally resumed offensive operations to take the key battleground city of Aleppo on September 22, the Western sponsors of the terror proxies have become increasingly shrill in a media campaign to thwart that offensive.
America, Britain and France have decried “war crimes” allegedly committed by Syrian and Russian air strikes. John Kerry, ahead of the weekend spat at the UN, called for a probe into suspected war crimes attributed to Russia.
Western media have been saturated with unverified reports from the militant-held eastern Aleppo purporting to show Syrian and Russian air strikes on civilian centers, including hospitals. Much of the information coming out of eastern Aleppo is sourced from Western-funded“activists” who are embedded with the Nusra terrorists. Tellingly, Western media and governments are in effect peddling what is terrorist propaganda.
The Russian and Syrian governments deny Western claims. They say their military operations are targeting terrorist groups that are deliberately using the 250,000 civilian population in east Aleppo as human shields.
It is significant that the more the Syrian army and its allies among Iranian, Lebanese and Iraqi militia, as well as Russian air support, make advances to retake Aleppo, the more hysterical Western governments and media become about “war crimes”.
If we start from the premise that the conflict in Syria has from the outset been a Western-orchestrated covert war for regime change involving the sponsoring of a terrorist mercenary army, then the Western hysteria over Aleppo is perfectly understandable.
A defeat for the insurgents in Aleppo means the end of the Western criminal enterprise to install a pro-Western puppet regime in Syria. That would mark a historic blow to the prestige of Washington and its European allies in the Middle East. It would also further expose their criminal complicity.
By contrast, Russian influence in the strategic region would be elevated. And for good reasons too. Moscow will be seen as having stood by a sovereign nation to vanquish Western powers who have wreaked havoc in the region with illegal wars and regime-change subterfuges.
Given the high stakes, this is why Western powers are evidently becoming more desperate to impede Syrian and Russian military success against the insurgents. Western emotive denunciations against Syria and Russia have nothing to do with concern for human suffering. It is all about contriving a moralistic political pressure to hamper the campaign against the West’s terrorist project.
Seen in this context, French calls at the UN for a no-fly zone around Aleppo is a startling admission by the Western powers that they are trying to protect terrorist al Qaeda-affiliated organizations. It is a stunning revelation of the fraudulent and criminal nature of Western governments. Their claims of “fighting terrorism” which have justified overseas wars over the past 15 years are self-evidently bogus. Their claims of supporting a “pro-democracy uprising” in Syria are grotesque.
This giant fraud has, of course, been made possible because Western media corporations have gone along with the vile charade. These media organizations are equally complicit. Giving succor to war crimes is in itself a war crime, as international attorney Christoper Black points out.
Meanwhile, away from Aleppo and the Western distortion of what is happening there, the alternative media report that the US-led military coalition is destroying bridges on the Euphrates in the eastern province of Deir ez-Zor.
According to the Syrian Free Press and others, American air strikes have demolished seven major river crossings over the past week. The latest strike was on the al Syasia bridge north of the city of Deir ez-Zor, the largest bridge in the province.
Targeting civilian infrastructure is a war crime. It will prevent humanitarian aid convoys reaching civilians in government-held Deir ez-Zor. But more significantly, the US, French and British coalition – which is operating illegally in Syria in the first place – is working to block the Syrian army and Russian offensive against the Daesh terror stronghold of Raqqa. The bridges knocked out were providing key linkages for the Syrian and Russian forces from Deir ez-Zor towards Raqqa.
The US-led air strikes also give full meaning to the deadly American attack on the Syrian army base at Deir ez-Zor on September 17. Over 60 Syrian troops and nearly 200 more were wounded when US, British and Australian warplanes blasted the base in a sustained attack. Washington claimed it was an “accident”.
But to many other observers, the massacre was no accident. It was a deliberate assault by the Western coalition to end the Kerry-Lavrov pact because the failing ceasefire was exposing the systematic terror connections of the Western governments in Syria.
Washington and its allies are not just trying to give air cover to the terrorists in Syria indirectly by setting up so-called no-fly zones. They are evidently now giving the terrorists air fire-power.
As in the NATO regime-change war in Libya in 2011, the Americans, French and British are riding shotgun in the air for terrorists on the ground.
And the truly disgusting thing about this criminal collusion is that the Western powers claim to be concerned about international law, war crimes and human suffering.
A UK House of Commons inquiry into the 2011 attack on Libya and the country’s subsequent collapse has found what many suspected: NATO and its Gulf Arab allies used their ‘Responsibility To Protect’ to launch their attack even though:
“… the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence.”
Though the MPs’ damning report blames Libya’s political and economic collapse on former Prime Minister David Cameron, the manipulation of public opinion to lay the basis for war is built upon longstanding – but now sharpened – processes and semantic structures that prepare populations to accept punitive action against a targeted ‘other’.
In an earlier example, on October 10 1990, a young Kuwaiti woman known as ‘Nayirah’ testified before the United States’ Congressional Human Rights Caucus that invading Iraqi soldiers had gone into hospitals and thrown babies from their incubators.
Nayirah turned out to be the daughter of the then Kuwaiti ambassador to Washington. Her testimony was false and prepared by a PR company. But it was solid gold for the US campaign to intervene militarily. Amnesty International provided influential support for Nayirah’s story. The ‘depravity’ of Saddam Hussein’s government was proffered by governments and mainstream media as a key reason for military intervention.
In March, 2011, Libyan opposition fighters and a Libyan psychologist, Dr Seham Sergewa told foreign media that pro-Qaddhafi fighters were being ordered to carry out viagra-fuelled mass rapes. The claim – spread by Al-Jazeera – was this time picked up by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo. Although Amnesty International questioned some of the claims this time, the rape story was one of many myths that contributed to the NATO bombardment of Libya – the beginning of the end of the Libyan state.
The ‘humanitarian’ battle cry of 2011 was another manifestation of neo-Orientalist rhetoric directed towards out-of-favour leaders or groups.
Edward Said’s “Orientalism” referred to Western stereotyping of Arabs and Arab culture through a colonial lens. Currently, Neo-Orientalism is typically based on sensational claims that target ‘others’ (leaders or groups) by depicting them as intrinsically alien, evil and irrational, in order to justify aggression against them.
Qaddhafi’s relationship with the West was full of moments that prepared us to unquestionably accept claims of his barbarity – to the extent that Hillary Clinton could mock his torture and murder by rebels.
Regardless of his positive and negative attributes, the language used to describe Qaddhafi – a son of peasant goat herders – was often insulting and unprofessional. Journalist and historian Gwynne Dyer for example: “
… resplendent in the gold brocade robes that he probably made from his mother’s curtains and wearing his usual bug-eye sunglasses… The world’s oldest teenager…”
The New York Times treated Qaddhafi’s international visits featuring his bedouin tent as a circus fit for New York’s Coney Island rather than an important cultural symbol of Libya’s or Qaddhafi’s heritage. One wonders whether anyone would dare attempt similar treatment of Australia’s Aboriginal Tent Embassy which has been a feature of the capital Canberra since 1972.
There were numerous stories of the ‘chauvinistic’ displays of Qaddhafi’s ‘Amazonian’ republican guard. However ‘Amazonian’ legends of powerful female bodyguards have a long history in North Africa and especially Libya. Greek mythology – the source of Amazonian legends – speaks of Queen Myrina the Amazonian queen who led military victories in Libya. Under Islam there was the wealthy and powerful King Musa I of Mali, who was protected by such an Amazonian troop while undertaking the Hajj in 1332. It seems not a single commentator bothered to note the antecedents of such symbolism before resorting to ridicule.
It is not only the media and politicians who join the neo-Orientalist derision of disagreeable leaders. Descriptions of Qaddhafi in Harvard professor and historian Roger Owen’s recent work The Rise and Fall of Arab Presidents for Life, exhibit shades of cultural superiority. After indulging in psychological speculation about Arab leaders, Owen (p.199) criticises Qaddhafi’s relationship with the African Union particularly his “bringing African heads of state to Libya and posturing before them in ‘African’ costumes of his own design with absurd-looking little round caps”.
Aside from Owen’s dismissal of the African Union, he sees no irony in ridiculing Qaddafi for doing exactly what the leaders of the world’s most powerful countries do at APEC and G20 meetings – put on ‘absurd’ cultural uniforms like the imagined Australian stockmen’s outfits worn by APEC leaders in Sydney in 2007:
John Howard and George W. Bush at APEC in Sydney 2007, Source: The Guardian
Owen depicts Arab governments as wholly subject to the whims of a strongman leader. While the West – and sometimes Arab leaders themselves – like to portray authoritarian governments as ruled by maniacal and all-powerful men individually, this is rarely the case – especially in Libya as demonstrated by this Wikileaks cable showing disagreements amongst the Libyan leadership.
Such systems are far too complex to be overseen by one person. As Oxford Professor Richard Bosworth argues, in addition to clouding other factors involved in the operation of such states, judgemental and presumptive treatments such as Owen’s tend to dismiss leaders as mad and evil which prevents comprehensive understanding.
The terminology of ‘regimes’ and ‘governments’ is another rhetorical tool aimed at demonising chosen targets. ‘Regimes’ sound all controlling, mechanical and despotic while ‘governments’ sound rational, responsive and civil. But as academic Lisa Anderson has pointed out the term ‘regime’ is widely misused. A regime is the: “set of rules, or cultural or social norms that regulate the relations between ruled and rulers. Including how laws are made and administered and how the rulers are themselves selected”. As such regimes come in types, Totalitarian, Authoritarian, Democratic etc.
A ‘government’ on the other hand “comprises those incumbents and the policies associated with them”. Referring to the ‘Qaddhafi Regime’ or ‘Mubarak Regime’ is a problematic conflation of regime type, government and the actors involved in it. Applying the same conflation to Western governments would result in labels like ‘Obama regime’.
‘Orientals’ or just the non-compliant?
Neo-Orientalist language cannot be explained away as a reaction to brutality. If a leader’s brutality was the benchmark for engaging in this form of vitriol, it could be just as easily applied to every US President.
Rather the point of this type of language is to de-legitimise and de-humanise or barbarise a targeted ‘other’. Neo-Orientalist language has (mostly) retreated from typecasting entire civilisations – as this has become less acceptable among western audiences – and has retreated to depictions of individual leaders, sub-groups or sub-ideologies.
Those selected, most commonly for their ‘uncooperative’ international behaviour, are not worthy of engagement or understanding, simply of fear and loathing. The use of violence against such ‘irrational’ forces becomes legitimate and ‘just’.
The language of neo-Orientalism takes many guises, from the ‘war on terror’ to ‘humanitarian intervention’ and has been so successful in cloaking itself in ‘liberal’ values that it attracts support from across the political spectrum.
As Robert Irwin pointed out in his 2006 critique of Edward Said’s Orientalism, the expression of ‘Orientalist’ language does not need to be limited in time (to the European colonial period) or place (the Arab world). By seeking to solely link Orientalism to the European and American imperial ages Said confused and understated the breadth of his argument. Orientalism was not limited to ‘the Orient’, but was and is directed at other groups – both ethnic and political.
For example, western media treatment of Russian President Vladimir Putin also involves ridicule of both cultural symbolism and psychological state.
According to Vox News and Angela Merkel, Putin’s machismo is a cover for “personal insecurity as a weak leader” and is responsible for his “invasion of Ukraine”. We are also told Putin’s ‘machismo’ and ‘aggression’ is the cumulative embodiment of Russian shame and weakness. Merkel was quoted as saying “Russia has nothing, no successful politics or economy. All they have is this [machismo].”
Without delving into to the possible objections to this account, why is Putin’s ‘aggressive’ behaviour seen as a unique flaw in individual and national character? What about the destruction that the United States wrought following the ‘injury’ to the American ego that was September 11? What about the UK’s war of indignation in the Falkland Islands? With the same logic and tone one could posit that the entire British colonial age was a result of ego issues within the ‘lonely little island in the North Sea’.
What of Hillary Clinton’s psychological state or the culture she embodies? Sold as the ‘normal’ presidential candidate, this is the woman who mocked Qaddhafi’s death with “We came, we saw, he died…” and seems to carry no baggage from the destruction of a country on almost entirely false pretences.
One persuasive critic of neo-Orientalism, Alastair Crooke, identifies it as a manifestation of a Western mindset of dominance in the present era. “
… this is the new racialism… a hierarchy of civilisations in which the West sees its civilisation as the most appropriate one for the future… superior and the template that should be imposed on others…”
Status quo powers deploy much effort and money to explain their transgressions but most are based on the simple assumption that equal standards do not apply; we are ‘rational’ and ‘just’, they are not.
Alex Ray works on cultural exchange between the West and the Arab world. Based in Jordan, he holds a MA in Middle East and Central Asian Studies from the Australian National University and is a former student of the University of Damascus. He writes at https://betweendeserts.wordpress.com/
National newspapers were ‘unimpressed by Jeremy Corbyn’s victory’ in the Labour leadership election, Roy Greenslade noted in the Guardian, surprising no-one. Corbyn secured almost 62% of the 506,000 votes cast, up from the 59% share he won in 2015, ‘with virtually no press backing whatsoever’.
In reality, of course, Corbyn did not just lack press backing. He won in the face of more than one year of relentless corporate media campaigning to politically, ethically, professionally, psychologically and even sartorially discredit him. That Corbyn survived is impressive. That he won again, increased his vote-share, and took Labour Party membership from 200,000 to more than 500,000, is astonishing.
None of this moves journalists like the BBC’s political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, who commented: ‘there’s been no big new idea or vision this week that Labour can suddenly rally round’.
Polly Toynbee explained: ‘I and many Guardian colleagues can’t just get behind Corbyn’. Why? ‘Because Corbyn and McDonnell, burdened by their history, will never ever earn the trust of enough voters to make any plans happen.’
Toynbee fails to recognise the nature and scale of the problem. In supporting Corbyn, the public is attempting to shape a genuinely democratic choice out of the sham choices of corporate-owned politics. This awesome task begins with the public waking up to the anti-democratic role of the corporate media in defending, of course, corporate-owned politics. So-called ‘mainstream media’ are primarily conduits for power rather than information; they are political enforcers, not political communicators. To the extent that the public understands this, change is possible.
Supported by non-corporate, web-based media activism, Corbyn has already smoked out these media to an extent that is without precedent. Many people can see that he is a reasonable, compassionate, decent individual generating immense grassroots support. And they can see that all ‘mainstream’ media oppose him. It could hardly be more obvious that the corporate media speak as a single biased, elitist voice.
The Benghazi Massacre – No Real Evidence
The smearing of Corbyn fits well with the similarly uniform propaganda campaign taking the ‘threat’ of Iraqi ‘WMD’ seriously in 2002 and 2003. Then, also, the entire corporate media system assailed the public with a long litany of fraudulent claims. And then there was Libya.
Coming so soon after the incomplete but still damning exposure of the Iraq deception – with the bloodbath still warm – the media’s deep conformity and wilful gullibility on the 2011 Libyan war left even jaundiced observers aghast. It was clear that we were faced with a pathological system of propaganda on Perpetual War autopilot.
The pathology has been starkly exposed by a September 9 report into the war from the foreign affairs committee of the House of Commons. As with Iraq, this was no mere common-or-garden disaster; we are again discussing the destruction of an entire country. The report summarised:
The result was political and economic collapse, inter-militia and inter-tribal warfare, humanitarian and migrant crises, widespread human rights violations, the spread of Gaddafi regime weapons across the region and the growth of ISIL in North Africa.
The rationale for ‘intervention’, of course, was the alleged threat of a massacre by Gaddafi’s forces in Benghazi. The report commented:
The evidence base: our assessment
Despite his rhetoric, the proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benghazi was not supported by the available evidence… Gaddafi regime forces targeted male combatants in a civil war and did not indiscriminately attack civilians. More widely, Muammar Gaddafi’s 40-year record of appalling human rights abuses did not include large-scale attacks on Libyan civilians. (Our emphasis)
Professor Joffé [Visiting Professor at King’s College London] told us that:
the rhetoric that was used was quite blood-curdling, but again there were past examples of the way in which Gaddafi would actually behave… The evidence is that he was well aware of the insecurity of parts of the country and of the unlikelihood that he could control them through sheer violence. Therefore, he would have been very careful in the actual response… the fear of the massacre of civilians was vastly overstated.’
Analyst and author Alison Pargeter agreed with Professor Joffé, concluding that there was no ‘real evidence at that time that Gaddafi was preparing to launch a massacre against his own civilians’. Related claims, that Gaddafi used African mercenaries, launched air strikes on civilians in Benghazi, and employed Viagra-fuelled mass rape as a weapon of war, were also invented.
These are astonishing comments. But according to the Lexis-Nexis media database, neither Professor Joffé nor Pargeter has been quoted by name in the press, with only the Express and Independent reporting that ‘available evidence’ had shown Gaddafi had no record of massacres; a different, less damning, point.
As disturbingly, the report noted:
We have seen no evidence that the UK Government carried out a proper analysis of the nature of the rebellion in Libya… It could not verify the actual threat to civilians posed by the Gaddafi regime….
In other words, the UK government’s relentless insistence on the need to support freedom-loving rebels against a genocidal tyranny were invented ‘facts’ fixed around policy.
That the war was a crime is hardly in doubt. Lord Richards (Baron Richards of Herstmonceux), chief of the defence staff at the time of the conflict, told the BBC that Cameron asked him ‘how long it might take to depose, regime change, get rid of Gaddafi’. British historian Mark Curtis describes the significance:
Three weeks after Cameron assured parliament in March 2011 that the object of the intervention was not regime change, he signed a joint letter with President Obama and French President Sarkozy committing to “a future without Gaddafi”.
That these were policies were illegal is confirmed by Cameron himself. He told Parliament on 21 March 2011 that the UN resolution “explicitly does not provide legal authority for action to bring about Gaddafi’s removal from power by military means”.
Cameron, then, like Blair, is a war criminal.
The ‘Moral Glow’ From a ‘Triumphant End’
The foreign affairs committee’s report is awesomely embarrassing for the disciplined murmuration of corporate journalists who promoted war.
At a crucial time in February and March 2011, the Guardian published a long list of news reports boosting government propaganda and opinion pieces advocating ‘intervention’ on the basis of the West’s supposed ‘responsibility to protect’, or ‘R2P’. Guardian columnist, later comment editor (2014-2016), Jonathan Freedland, wrote an article titled: ‘Though the risks are very real, the case for intervention remains strong.’
Brian Whitaker, the Guardian’s former Middle East editor, wrote: ‘the scale and nature of the Gaddafi regime’s actions have impelled the UN’s “responsibility to protect”.’
Menzies Campbell, former leader of the Liberal Democrats, and Philippe Sands, professor of law at University College London, wrote in the Guardian: ‘International law does not require the world to stand by and do nothing as civilians are massacred on the orders of Colonel Gaddafi…’
An Observer leader agreed: ‘The west can’t let Gaddafi destroy his people.’ And thus: ‘this particular tyranny will not be allowed to stand’.
No doubt with tongue firmly in Wodehousian cheek, as usual, Boris Johnson wrote in the Telegraph :
The cause is noble and right, and we are surely bound by our common humanity to help the people of Benghazi.
If Colonel Gaddafi is permitted to murder hundreds or thousands of his citizens from the air, and we stand by and let it happen, then our inaction will return to haunt us… We have a side here, let’s be on it. (Aaronovitch, ‘Go for a no-fly zone or regret it,’ The Times, February 24, 2011)
Later, a Guardian leader quietly celebrated:
But it can now reasonably be said that in narrow military terms it worked, and that politically there was some retrospective justification for its advocates as the crowds poured into the streets of Tripoli to welcome the rebel convoys earlier this week.
Simon Tisdall commented in the same newspaper: ‘The risky western intervention had worked. And Libya was liberated at last.’
An Observer editorial declared: ‘An honourable intervention. A hopeful future.’
The BBC’s Nick Robinson observed that Downing Street ‘will see this, I’m sure, as a triumphant end’. (BBC, News at Six, October 20, 2011) Robinson appeared to channel Churchill:
Libya was David Cameron’s first war. Col. Gaddafi his first foe. Today, his first real taste of military victory.
The BBC’s chief political correspondent, Norman Smith, declared that Cameron ‘must surely feel vindicated’. (BBC News online, October 21, 2011) In Washington, the BBC’s Ian Pannell surmised that Obama ‘is feeling that his foreign policy strategy has been vindicated – that his critics have been proven wrong’. (BBC News online, October 21, 2011)
The BBC’s John Humphrys asked: ‘What apart from a sort of moral glow… have we got out of it?’ (BBC Radio 4 Today, October 21, 2011)
Andrew Grice, political editor of the Independent, declared that Cameron had ‘proved the doubters wrong.’ Bitterly ironic then, even more so now, Grice added: ‘By calling Libya right, Mr Cameron invites a neat contrast with Tony Blair.’
An editorial in the Telegraph argued that Gaddafi’s death ‘vindicates the swift action of David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy in halting the attack on Benghazi’. Telegraph columnist Matthew d’Ancona (now writing for the Guardian) agreed: ‘It is surely a matter for quiet national pride that an Arab Srebrenica was prevented by a coalition in which Britain played an important part…’
An Independent leader observed:
Concern was real enough that a Srebrenica-style massacre could unfold in Benghazi, and the UK Government was right to insist that we would not allow this.
The Times, of course, joined the corporate herd in affirming that without ‘intervention’, there ‘would have been a massacre in Benghazi on the scale of Srebrenica’. (Leading article, ‘Death of a dictator,’ The Times, October 21, 2011)
But even voices to the left of the ‘mainstream’ got Libya badly wrong. Most cringe-makingly, Professor Juan Cole declared:
The Libya intervention is legal and was necessary to prevent further massacres… If NATO needs me, I’m there.
Robert Fisk commented in the Independent that, had ‘Messrs Cameron, Sarkozy and Obama stopped short after they saved Benghazi’, disaster could have been avoided.
Ironically, in an article ostensibly challenging the warmongers’ hysterical claims, Mehdi Hasan wrote in the New Statesman:
The innocent people of Benghazi deserve protection from Gaddafi’s murderous wrath.
Even Noam Chomsky observed:
The no-fly zone prevented a likely massacre… (Chomsky, ‘Making the Future: Occupations, Interventions, Empire and Resistance,’ Hamish Hamilton e-book, 2012, p.372)
To his credit, then Guardian columnist Seumas Milne (now Corbyn’s director of communications and strategy) was more sceptical. He wrote in October 2011:
But there is in fact no evidence – including from other rebel-held towns Gaddafi re-captured – to suggest he had either the capability or even the intention to carry out such an atrocity against an armed city of 700,000.
Media Reaction to the Report
The media reaction to the MPs’ demolition of their case for war made just five years earlier inevitably included some ugly evasions. A Guardian editorial commented of Libya:
It is easy in retrospect to lump it in with Iraq as a foreign folly…
It is indeed easy ‘to lump it in’, it is near-identical in key respects. But as a major war crime, not a ‘folly’.
… and there are important parallels – not least the failure to plan for stabilisation and reconstruction.
The preferred media focus being, as usual, so-called ‘mistakes’, lack of planning; rather than the fact that both wars were launched on outrageous lies, ended in the destruction of entire countries, and were driven by greed for resources. With impressive audacity, the Guardian preferred to cling to deceptions exposed by the very report under review:
But it is also important to note differences between a gratuitous, proactive invasion and a response to a direct threat to the citizens of Benghazi, triggered by the spontaneous uprising of the Libyan people. Memories of Srebrenica spurred on decision-makers. (Our emphasis)
In fact, propagandistic use of Srebrenica from sources like the Guardian ‘spurred on decision-makers’. The whole point of the MPs’ report is that it found no ‘real evidence‘ for a massacre in Benghazi. Similarly, the Guardian’s ‘spontaneous uprising’ is a debunked version of events peddled by government officials and media allies in 2011, despite the fact that there is ‘no evidence that the UK Government carried out a proper analysis of the nature of the rebellion in Libya’. In fact, the MPs’ report makes a nonsense of the Guardian’s claims for a humanitarian motive, noting:
On 2 April 2011, Sidney Blumenthal, adviser and unofficial intelligence analyst to the then United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, reported this conversation with French intelligence officers to the Secretary of State:
According to these individuals Sarkozy’s plans are driven by the following issues:
a. A desire to gain a greater share of Libya oil production,
b. Increase French influence in North Africa,
c. Improve his internal political situation in France,
d. Provide the French military with an opportunity to reassert its position in the world,
e. Address the concern of his advisors over Qaddafi’s long term plans to supplant France as the dominant power in Francophone Africa.
The Guardian apologetic continued:
Perhaps most critically, western intervention – fronted by France and the UK, but powered by the US – came under a United Nations security council resolution for the protection of civilians, after the Arab League called for a no-fly zone.’
But this, again, is absurd because the resolution, UNSCR 1973, ‘neither explicitly authorised the deployment of ground forces nor addressed the questions of regime change’, as the MPs’ report noted. NATO had no more right to overthrow the Libyan government than the American and British governments had the right to invade Iraq.
In 2011, it was deeply disturbing to us that the barrage of political and media propaganda on Libya received far less challenge even than the earlier propaganda on Iraq. With Guardian and BBC ‘humanitarian interventionists’ leading the way, many people were misled on the need for ‘action’. In a House of Commons vote on March 21, 2011, 557 MPs voted for war with just 13 opposing. Two names stand out among the 13 opponents: Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell.
Predictably, last month’s exposure of the great Libya war fraud has done nothing to prompt corporate journalists to rethink their case for war in Syria – arguments based on similar claims from similar sources promoting similar ‘humanitarian intervention’. Indeed, as this alert was being completed, the Guardian published an opinion piece by former Labour foreign secretary David Owen, calling for ‘a no-fly zone (NFZ), with protected land corridors for humanitarian aid’ in Syria, because: ‘The humanitarian imperative is for the region to act and the world to help.’
In February 2003, the Guardian published a piece by the same David Owen titled: ‘Wage war in Iraq for the sake of peace in the Middle East.’ In 2011, Owen published an article in the Telegraph, titled: ‘We have proved in Libya that intervention can still work.’ He had himself ‘called for… intervention’ that February.
The Perpetual War machine rolls on.
Media Lens is a UK-based media watchdog group headed by David Edwards and David Cromwell. The second Media Lens book, Newspeak: In the 21st Century by David Edwards and David Cromwell, was published in 2009 by Pluto Press.