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.
Imagine if the Islamic Republic of Iran, complaining that its regional rival Saudi Arabia was meddling in a neighbor’s politics for sectarian reasons, led a coalition to invade that country. As a result, after 18 months, at least 10,000 civilians had been killed or wounded, more than half the country’s people needed food aid and three million people had been displaced.
Sanctions would be leveled. Pundits would write agonized essays comparing the country to Nazi Germany. Sabers would be rattled. War would likely follow. However, when these roles are reversed and the Saudis and their Gulf allies are the aggressors, it’s a different story.
Why the double standard? Because the US is allied to the Saudi royals and the US was evicted from Iran. When a friend commits a war crime, excuses are made.
The numbers above are estimates made by the UN for the ongoing conflict in Yemen, led by Saudi Arabia with significant help from the United States and Great Britain. The stated purpose of the intervention in the country is to fight Houthi forces from the north who are allied with former President Saleh.
The Houthis, most of whom are followers of the Zaidi branch of Shia Islam, took the country’s capital Sanaa on September 21st, 2014, forcing then-President Mansur Al-Hadi to flee, first to Aden and then on to Saudi Arabia. The argument made by the Saudis and their coalition partners, that the Houthis are Iranian proxies, is dubious at best but it’s being spread in western media as flat-out fact, allowing governments to turn a blind eye to the tragedy unfolding in the country.
Besides intelligence and targeting assistance provided to the Saudis in Yemen, since 2010 the US has sold $60 billion in arms to the country, an absolute monarchy with one of the worst human rights records in the world. Human rights groups have concluded that these weapons, including cluster munitions banned in most countries, have been used indiscriminately against civilian targets including markets, schools and hospitals.
Finally, after a year and a half of this, some in the US Congress found the political will to take a stand on this carnage. A bipartisan resolution in the US Senate co-sponsored by Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) and Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) was crafted to block a new deal supplying the Kingdom with a further $1.15 billion in arms. Although having the vote at all showed some progress on this issue, it was defeated by a vote of 71-27 on September 21st.
The American people have a moral responsibility to contact their representatives and demand they vote to end their government’s support of the illegal intervention in the poorest country in the Middle East. Those who don’t care about the country’s suffering need to remember it’s also an issue of national security as both Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Yemen’s newly established ISIS affiliate are growing in the chaos, something that should worry the whole world.
The missile attack on a US ship off the coast of Yemen was a major news event, but the subsequent follow up story, that it may never have happened, was either ignored by mainstream media or intentionally covered up. The whole thing has the same odor as the Gulf of Tonkin incident that never occurred.
Does history repeat itself? Sure does seem like it. That is if you compare America’s entry into the Vietnam civil war, with America’s latest entry into the war in Yemen.
Don’t be mistaken. We have been at war with Yemen for a year now. America sided with the most oppressive government in the world, Saudi Arabia, in attacking and pounding Yemeni schools, funeral parlors, and hospitals, for well over a year. This war could not have happened without a wink and a nod from the US, and the arming of the Saudis’ with US weapons. In addition to providing the Saudi’s with weapons, we also provide mid-air refueling and have delivered 40 million pounds of jet fuel over the past 18 months, thus enabling the devastating bombings of civilian facilities. The US used a cease fire in Yemen to re-arm the Saudi’s, who were running out of bombs and weapons, we provided the targeting information, ground maintenance of aircraft, and, of course, the wink and nod to go ahead, which unleashed this humanitarian disaster.
So here we have Saudi Arabia, one of the wealthiest but most oppressive governments’ in the world, a supporter of terrorists in Syria and around the world, attacking one of the poorest nations on earth. According to a leaked Hillary Clinton e-mail, she is fully aware that Saudi Arabia sponsors terrorists in Syria, but still the go ahead wink to the Saudis. Now that we and the Saudi’s have destroyed everything in Yemen with bombs, we are helping the Saudi’s maintain a blockade, preventing food and medical supplies from reaching the Yemeni people, which by some estimates, have already cost the lives of 10,000 children under the age of 5.
All that, however, was not enough for the US. Now we have actively entered the shooting war, based on yet another possible ruse by our government. The US Navy claimed they were attacked by Houthi missiles from somewhere in Yemen, and promptly launched Tomahawk missiles at a cost of $1.5 million per missile, in revenge. Some suggest we took out radar installations with our Tomahawk missiles. But hold the phone! Two days later the US military very quietly announced they are not sure if there was a missile attack at all. Yup, you got it. Did you hear that story on mainstream media? Of course not. It appears that no one saw the missiles from Yemen, nothing was hit by missiles, and there was no corroboration from other ships in the area. The Houthis’ denied they had anything to do with the alleged attack. The US very quietly admitted, perhaps it was all about “ghost radar images”, and there never were any missiles.
This story was completely ignored by mainstream media. Supposedly, whether the attack occurred is being investigated by the military, and there will be a report coming, but don’t wait up for the late-night news to hear the results of the pending report. It might never come, or if it does, would you believe a report where the military is investigating itself?
So what does this have to do with history repeating itself? Some may remember the Vietnam War, where the US entered a civil war on the other side of the globe, based on an alleged “attack” by North Vietnam on a US navy ship. There was never any sighting of the attacker, there was never any damage by the attack, and we know now, years later, that there was never any such attack. Sound familiar? It all was due to false readings and ghost images on radar screens. The alleged attack took place in the Gulf of Tonkin.
Quickly the US Congress rushed to get involved in Vietnam’s civil war by seeking revenge for an attack that never happened. It passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, which authorized the US president to get revenge. America’s entry into the Vietnam civil war lasted 10 years, and cost the lives of approximately 55,000 US soldiers, and about 3 million Southeast Asians. That’s correct. 3 million lives! We attacked this past week with no discussion, debate, or consent by Congress. Like the cowards they are, Congress never said a word, but stuck their heads deep in the sand. The President, now has the power to do such things, and the Constitution in that regard is irrelevant.
How many years will the war with Yemen last? How many will be killed? Why are we fighting Yemen? Why has Saudi Arabia attacked Yemen? Will there be blowback from Yemen in the future, or do you feel the innocent Yemeni’s will simply lie down and die quietly? And the last quiz question of the day: Name the countries the US is currently bombing.
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.
Just a geography question. Or maybe it’s a different sort of question.
Do a web search for “USS Mason” and you will find countless “news” reports about how this poor innocent U.S. ship has been fired upon, and fired upon again, and how it has fired back “countermeasures” in self-defense.
But you might stumble onto one article from CNN (don’t watch the totally misleading video posted just above the text) that says:
“Officials Saturday night were uncertain about what exactly happened, if there were multiple incoming missiles or if there was a malfunction with the radar detection system on the destroyer.”
So, was the poor wittle innocent destroyer fired at or not?
The simple but apparently impossible point to grasp is that it does not matter. The United States destabilized Yemen with a massive killing spree known as a “drone war.” The United States armed Saudi Arabia to bomb Yemen with jets, supplied the jets, supplied the bombs (and cluster bombs), refueled the jets midair, provided the targeting information, provided the cover at the United Nations, and deployed its ships to the coast of Yemen as part of its effort to achieve U.S./Saudi power in Yemen through mass murder and devastation. If one group or another or nobody in Yemen fired some harmless shots at a U.S. ship the outcome is the same: zero legal or moral or practical justification to continue or escalate the killing, and zero logic in calling such escalation “defensive.”
Likewise, speculation — including in the CNN video posted just above its article — that Iran was behind the possibly fictional attacks on the U.S. ship does not matter. The conclusions that can be drawn are identical whether or not such baseless and wishful theories are true.
This is the point of my use of examples of past similar (non)-incidents like the Gulf of Tonkin Non-Incident in my book War Is A Lie. The point is not that because the U.S. military lied about Tonkin it’s likely to be lying again next time (though that’s a fair conclusion). The point is actually completely different. The point is that when you put U.S. ships on the coast of Vietnam and use them to fire on Vietnam, the question of whether anyone ever fires back is not a question of aggression against the United States of America.
Let’s recall what (didn’t) happen on August 4, 1964. U.S. war ships were on the coast of North Vietnam and were engaged in military actions against North Vietnam. So President Lyndon Johnson knew he was lying when he claimed the August 4 (non)-attack was unprovoked. And any ordinary person could have known he was lying without awaiting any classified leaks. One simply had to check to see which coast of the United States the Gulf of Tonkin was on. (Same with the Red Sea.)
Had the Gulf of Tonkin Incident happened, it could not have been unprovoked. The same ship that was supposedly attacked on August 4 had damaged three North Vietnamese boats and killed four North Vietnamese sailors two days earlier, in an action where the evidence suggests the United States fired first, although the opposite was claimed. In fact, in a separate operation days earlier, the United States had begun shelling the mainland of North Vietnam.
But the supposed attack on August 4 was actually, at most, a misreading of U.S. sonar. The ship’s commander cabled the Pentagon claiming to be under attack, and then immediately cabled to say his earlier belief was in doubt and no North Vietnamese ships could be confirmed in the area. President Johnson was not sure there had been any attack when he told the American public there had been. Months later he admitted privately: “For all I know, our navy was just shooting at whales out there.” But by then Johnson had the authorization from Congress for the war he’d wanted. There the parallel breaks down, of course, as President Barack Constitutional Scholar Obama cannot be bothered with Congressional authorizations. Yet he still requires a certain level of public tolerance.
In a 2003 documentary called The Fog of War, Robert McNamara, who had been Secretary of “Defense” at the time of the Tonkin lies, admitted that the August 4 attack did not happen and that there had been serious doubts at the time. He did not mention that on August 6 he had testified in a joint closed session of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services Committees along with Gen. Earl Wheeler. Before the two committees, both men claimed with absolute certainty that the North Vietnamese had attacked on August 4.
McNamara also did not mention that just days after the Tonkin Gulf non-Incident, he had asked the Joint Chiefs of Staff to provide him with a list of further U.S. actions that might provoke North Vietnam. He obtained the list and advocated for those provocations in meetings prior to Johnson’s ordering such actions on September 10. These actions included resuming the same ship patrols and increasing covert operations, and by October ordering ship-to-shore bombardment of radar sites (exactly what the U.S. just did in Yemen).
A 2000-2001 National Security Agency (NSA) report concluded there had been no attack at Tonkin on August 4 and that the NSA had deliberately lied. The Bush Administration did not allow the report to be published until 2005, due to concern that it might interfere with lies being told to get the Afghanistan and Iraq wars started.
On March 8, 1999, Newsweek had published the mother of all lies: “America has not started a war in this century.” No doubt Team Bush thought it best to leave that pretense undisturbed.
When the United States was lied more deeply into the Vietnam War, all but two senators voted for the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. One of the two, Wayne Morse (D-OR), told other senators that he had been told by the Pentagon that the alleged attack by the North Vietnamese had been provoked. Obviously any attack would have been provoked. But the attack itself was fictional, and that’s the point people seem to latch onto, missing the more important understanding that it does not matter.
Senator Morse’s colleagues did not oppose him on the grounds that he was mistaken, however. Instead, a senator told him, “Hell, Wayne, you can’t get into a fight with the president when all the flags are waving and we’re about to go to a national convention. All [President] Lyndon [Johnson] wants is a piece of paper telling him we did right out there, and we support him.”
Hell, Swanson, you can’t raise scruples about blowing people up in Yemen when traitors are failing to stand during the National Anthem and Hillary Clinton took big bucks from Saudi Arabia and Boeing into her family foundation to get those jets there and the Democrats are trying to paint Donald Trump as too dovish.
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.
It should be personal to all of us. Yemen, regularly portrayed as the poorest nation in the Arab world, is proving itself to be the richest in courage, resourcefulness and resilience.
Ever since March 2015, some of you may have noticed how oil-rich Saudi Arabia, with the United States at its side, have been waging genocidal war against the Yemeni people.
Yemen are a people under attack by an undeclared super-power coalition comprised of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, US, UK, EU, UAE and Israel. As in Iraq, while the Yemeni people are under attack from super-powers, they are simultaneously being collectively punished by the illegal sanctions imposed by a corrupt United Nations body.
Sanctions imposed by resolution 2216, against 5 named individuals, on the pretext of legitimizing an illegitimate fugitive ex-president, Saudi Arabia and Washington’s hand-picked puppet leader, Mansour Hadi, who demanded that neighbouring Saudi Arabia bomb his own people – even after Hadi had resigned twice from an already over-extended presidential term, before fleeing to his alma mater in Riyadh.
UN sanctions imposed upon 5 named individuals yet being exploited by the US/UK/EU backed Saudi coalition to collectively starve and punish 27 million Yemeni people.
This fact has been consistently omitted and waxed over by western political appeasers and ethically challenged mainstream media apologists – and their ignorant and conceded omission is one of the primary reasons why this conflict has been allowed to go from bad to worse.
To compare Saudi Arabia’s belligerent actions in Yemen to Nazi Germany’s undeclared wars of aggression prior to WWII is no exaggeration. In fact, one could make the argument that this Saudi-US joint venture is much worse, and a far more dangerous precedent. Likewise, the failure of a corrupt UN (who effectively sold Saudi Arabia its seat on at the head of the UN Human Rights Council ), led by an impotent Secretary General in Ban-ki Moon, to censure Saudi Arabia for its flagrant violation of international law, the Nuremberg Principles and the entire Geneva Convention content and implied framework – leaves the UN in the exact same position as the League of Nations in 1938.
This is most certainly the case on paper, and with each passing moment we are nudging ever closer to geopolitical déjà vu.
This is one of the most egregious war crimes we’ve seen so far in Yemen, and considering what Saudi Arabia has already done to date, this is off the scale. On the 9th October 2016, the Saudi ‘coalition’ targeted one of the biggest public halls in Yemen’s capital Sanaa.
Officials said two air strikes hit the grand hall of ceremonies, where a post funeral gathering was held to receive condolences for the late Ali bin Ali al-Ruwaishan, the father of Interior Minister, Jalal al-Ruwaishan.
A total of 4 missiles were launched into crowds of civilians. The first strike, two missiles tore into the hall and surrounding areas leaving dozens dead and dying. Then, as funeral-goers clambered over the smouldering rubble to rescue the injured, Saudi coalition planes returned for the double tap air-strike, targeting the civilian rescuers.
Yesterday, the under secretary of the Public Health Ministry in Yemen told journalist and Middle East commentator, Marwa Osman, the death toll had risen to 458 and hundreds more injured. In an interview with RT, Osman went on to describe, 213 bodies were reported as charred, burned beyond recognition, 67 bodies were completely dismembered and 187 bodies torn apart by shrapnel. The brutality of this attack is evident from the horrific photos that appeared on social media very quickly after the event, as Yemenis were reeling from the scale of the massacre.
Yemen civil defence and army recovering bodies from the Saudi coalition bombed ceremony hall in Sanaa (Photo: Yemen the Forgotten War)
The hundreds more injured have been described as “bleeding to death in the streets“. The following report came in from Sanaa hours after the attack:
“Saudi-American airstrikes targeted the biggest hall in Sanaa. The hall was hit by 4 missiles, 2 air-strikes. When rescuers went to the aid of the dying and injured Saudi jets attacked for the second time in their double tap operation. It’s impossible to count the deaths. Officially they are saying less than 500 but many more are dying because they can’t be treated due to the absence of medical supplies and hospital facilities. This is entirely due to the UN sanctions and effective land, air and sea blockades. The hall is 2km from our home and 150m from my university but luckily, today I was not there.
Yesterday we killed several mercenary leaders in Mareb and Saudi commanders so today they are taking their revenge on the innocent people” ~ information supplied to Vanessa Beeley of 21st Century Wire.
According to Hassan Al Haifi, writer, academic and political commentator, living in Sanaa, the Saudi attack was deliberate:
“The mourners were paying tribute to General Jalal Al-Rouishan, Min of Int, who hails from a leading family of Khowlan Al-Tayyal Tribe, a leading and powerful Yemeni tribe.”
Al Haifi commented that this was a cynical and brutal attack by the Saudi coalition, intending to kill as many Ansarullah and Ali Abdullah Saleh officials and supporters as possible. A number of Saleh’s closest friends and allies were killed by the strikes along with a smaller number of Ansarullah members. Al Haifi, himself should have been at the ceremony but had been delayed and fortunately was not there when the Saudi jets launched their missiles into the throngs of mourners.
Saudi air-strike on Sanaa (Photo supplied to 21st Century Wire from Yemen)
The US State Department immediately swung into damage limitation mode and cranked up their hypocrisy to protect their Saudi coalition military industrial complex clients. John Kirby even deployed the “self-defence” terminology usually reserved for their other regional, arms guzzling ally with close links to Al Qaeda, Israel.
The bloodshed and suffering of the Yemeni people was reduced to an obscene game of semantics by a cold and calculating US State Department, as their multi billion dollar arms industry registered obscene trading levels with the Saudi coalition in 2015. In the first 21 months of Saudi-US illegal war on Yemen, US arms sales worth $33 Billion were closed Saudi and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) entities according to Defense News. In total, America’s Nobel Peace Chief Barack Hussein Obama has offered to sell $115 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia since taking office in 2009 – more than any previous US administration, according to a recent report.
Not to be left out of the party, Britain has also sold more than £3.7 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia since Saudi’s illegal war of aggression began.
In truth, many of these estimates are conservative and do not include many more hundreds of millions in ancillary costs, staffing, support contracting and engineering.
Even though they’ve been completely redacted by the western media, and also by the myriad of Gulf monarchy media outlets, the real heroes of this conflict are the Yemeni people.
In their reductionist way of thinking and categorizing the world outside of their shores, Americans refer to Middle East populations in sectarian terms – because this is they way they would like to see the world, but it couldn’t be any further from reality. To Americans, the Yemeni war is all because of “Iranian-backed Shia Houthi Rebels.” The first US Congressman ever to say that in public probably read it directly off an AIPAC policy briefing sheet. That’s the sad reality still in Washington – information-poor (and lobby cash-rich) elected representatives are only able to see the world through the Israeli lens.
The reality is much more complex than just “the Houthis.” A genuine Arab Spring has taken place in Yemen and the US and Saudi response was simply to try and crush the people. But the people have resisted fiercely, and together. Unlike other neo-colonial ventures like Iraq and Afghanistan – the people of Yemen have united to a large degree and are determined to realize their own vision of self government. This is something that has been written off by everyone in the US establishment – from the President all the way down the political food chain.
The UK/US built, House of Saud, is waging a genocidal war of aggression that has already destroyed entire swathes of Yemeni cultural heritage and decimated entire communities, particularly in the northern, traditionally Ansarullah (Houthi) held areas such as Saada and Hajjah. This was by design. By now, we can see clearly how this was yet another ethnic cleansing programme being endorsed, fuelled and defended by the United States and her allies in the UK, EU, Israel, and of course the neighbouring Gulf States, the majority of whom participated in this dirty war. Oman, a lone, moderate, and independent thinking gulf state, has remained neutral, providing a degree of support to the Yemeni people. […]
The height of US hypocrisy was on full display during a US State Department press briefing where the already discredited US spokesman John Kirby shameless danced around a mass-murder by Saudi Arabia – whose airstrikes are supported logistically by the United States. This is the definition of criminality unchecked. Watch:
Author Vanessa Beeley is a special contributor to 21WIRE, and since 2011, she has spent most of her time in the Middle East reporting on events there – as a independent researcher, writer, photographer and peace activist. She is also a volunteer with the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine. See more of her work at her blog The Wall Will Fall.
For further background on Saudi ‘s war of aggression please read 21WIRE article: UN Whitewashing Saudi Coalition War Crimes and International Human Rights Violations
A Yemeni military source denied on Thursday targeting US warship earlier this week, stressing that Washington uses such allegations as a pretext to escalate the aggression against Yemen.
Earlier on Thursday, the Pentagon announced that the US had bombed three radar sites controlled by Houthi revolutionaries in Yemen after the destroyer USS Mason was targeted by missile fire for the second time in four days.
“Those claims are baseless,” Saba news agency quoted the military source as saying.
“The army and the Popular Committees have nothing to do with this action,” according to the source.
“Such claims aim to create false justifications to step up attacks and to cover up for the continuous crimes committed by the (coalition) aggression against the Yemeni people,” Saba quoted the source as saying.
Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of the Lebanese resistance movement, Hezbollah, addresses a ceremony on October 11, 2016 on the occasion of Tasu’a.
Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of the Lebanese resistance movement, Hezbollah, has warned of plots by the US, Saudi Arabia and their regional allies to partition Syria in order to serve the Israeli regime’s interests in the Middle East.
The “real goal” of the countries that have neither democracy nor elections was not democracy or elections in Syria, Nasrallah said on Tuesday.
“The goal was for Syria to fall and be fragmented and be ripped apart” in line with Israel’s interests, he added.
Nasrallah made the remarks at the Sayyed al-Shohada Complex in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, on the ninth day of the lunar month of Muharram, Tasu’a, the eve of the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein, the third Shia Imam, and his 72 companions.
He said the Daesh Takfiri militants and al-Qaeda affiliated terrorists of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as al-Nusra, “are being used to serve and achieve US and Israeli goals.”
Nasrallah further noted that the US seeks to concentrate Daesh terrorists in eastern Syria, adding that Washington is allowing and “opening the roads for” Daesh militants to flee from Iraq into Syria.
He cited the recent “deliberate action” by the US to launch airstrikes against Syrian army positions in eastern Syria as an example of Washington’s attempts to boost Daesh in the region, adding, “US raids on Dayr al-Zawr were targeting the Syrian army positions so that the whole area would fall to Daesh.”
The Hezbollah leader said, “All those who are defending Syria defend the Resistance and look forward to a political solution and not to more bloodshed,” but “US, Saudi Arabia and some regional states are demanding crippling conditions to neutralize the political solutions.”
Pointing to a recent abortive truce deal between the US and Russia on Syria, the Hezbollah chief said Washington withdrew from the agreement because it called for the separation of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham from other militant groups and the identification and targeting of Daesh and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham positions.
Nasrallah said the US, Saudi Arabia and their regional allies are obstructing a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Syria and the easing of the sufferings of the Syrian people.
He expressed regret that “more escalation and tensions” is on the horizon in Syria, but called for “perseverance and firm stance” in order to counter the plots of the country’s enemies.
The Hezbollah chief said Syria’s foes sought “a decisive victory within a few weeks” but have faced stiff resistance from the Syrian government and nation and their allies for over five years.
Sana’a carnage major scandal for Saudi Arabia
In another part of his speech, Nasrallah pointed to the recent bloody air raid by Saudi Arabia on a funeral hall in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a and said the strike was a major scandal for Al Saud regime.
Hezbollah leader said some media circles had noted that his remarks on Saudi attack in Sana’a would affect chances of Michel Aoun becoming Lebanon’s next president, which could end a political crisis in the country.
Noting that the demand was tantamount to political blackmail, Nasrallah added, “Even [UN Secretary General] Ban Ki-moon has condemned this strike, although he has always been silent, so how do you want me to remain silent?”
Nasrallah added that the Saudi regime committed a “historic mistake” in Yemen by thinking that it could emerge victorious from the battle within weeks.
The Hezbollah chief condemned the international community’s silence on the bombardment of Yemen by Saudi warplanes and said the world must convince Riyadh that it cannot win this war.
He emphasized that the Sana’a massacre must provide a motive for ending the war in Yemen and added that the Saudi regime has no option but to accept the political solution.
“Saudi Arabia’s insistence on carrying on with the war will not only make it lose Yemen, but will also make it lose itself. The current Saudi leadership is pushing the kingdom to the brink of the abyss,” Nasrallah pointed out, recommending the Saudi rulers to come to their senses.
All parties must preserve Lebanon’s peace and security
The Hezbollah secretary general further stressed the importance of preserving security, stability and civil in Lebanon, describing them as the “pillars of everything,” and adding, “Despite their differences, the Lebanese have managed to preserve security, stability and peace.”
Nasrallah stated that Lebanon has entered a positive political phase during the past few weeks with regard to the presidential election.
“We support and welcome any positive political developments regarding the presidency and we will acknowledge the efforts and courage of anyone who makes efforts in this regard,” Nasrallah pointed out.
He noted that Hezbollah has always pursued a clear stance on Lebanon’s presidential election, adding, “We support every positive political change, which may solve the presidency challenge.”
Hezbollah leader concluded his remarks by stressing the importance of supporting the Lebanese army without any political reservations.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi
The Iranian Foreign Ministry’s spokesman has denied claims made by a US official that a missile used by Yemen’s Houthi Ansarullah fighters to destroy an Emirati military vessel was made by Iran.
Bahram Qassemi added on Tuesday that the US should take a look at its own heavy dossier concerning the supply of arms and weapons to those attacking civilians in Yemen instead of projecting the blame on others.
Qassemi noted that the accusation has been made as US planes and weapons have been used and are still being used to kill thousands of Yemeni women and children, and destroy hospitals and schools in Yemen.
On Saturday, Yemeni forces targeted and destroyed the Emirati military vessel in a rocket attack near the Red Sea port city of Mokha.
Yemen has been under Saudi military strikes since late March 2015. The war was launched in a bid to reinstate Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, who has stepped down as president but is now seeking to grab power by force. The United Nations puts the death toll from the military aggression at about 10,000.
Houthi Ansarullah fighters, allied with Yemeni army factions, and forces loyal to Yemen’s former president Ali Abdullah Saleh have united and are fighting back the Saudi invaders.
Saudi Arabia rejected a request by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Bin Al-Hussein to form an international commission of inquiry into war crimes committed in Yemen.
“Riyadh does not support the call of the High Commissioner to form an international investigation committee,” Saudi Minister of Culture and Information of Adel Tarifi said in a statement, stressing that “the work of the Yemeni National Commission of Inquiry is generally agreed”, according to reports by German Press Agency.
The Human Rights Council of the United Nations had refused on Thursday to open an independent investigation into war crimes in Yemen, and demanded instead a national commission of inquiry to investigate attacks on hospitals and killing of civilians.
Not long ago I came across an image—don’t remember where or why—in which celebrated writer and feminist Lena Dunham was clad in a red, white and blue shirt emblazoned all over with the name “Hillary.” It struck me as curious that someone held up publicly as an example of enlightened 21st century thought (I’m not aware of whether Dunham considers herself as such; perhaps she doesn’t) would feel comfortable broadcasting so unabashedly her affinity for Mrs. Clinton, so I looked into it further.
“Nothing gets me angrier,” Dunham said in January to a crowd in Iowa prior to that state’s caucus, “than when someone implies I’m voting for Hillary Clinton simply because she’s female.”
Fair enough; it must be insulting to have strangers imply, or otherwise assert, that her endorsement of Clinton can be reduced to a sort of blind gender loyalty. And to Dunham’s credit, she has attempted to spell out exactly what is it about Clinton she finds so enchanting. The least we can do is consider her own words on the matter.
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that Clinton’s “commitment to fighting for women” is at the top of the list. After all, it’s an important issue, one about which Dunham is ostensibly serious and which Clinton allegedly “comes at … from every direction.” For example: She “fights for equal pay”; she says she will “fight for more funding” of Planned Parenthood; she “stays current on prenatal-nutrition research”; and she “flies to countries where women are routinely denied basic freedoms … and puts their leaders on blast.”
Summing it up: “In a million ways, for women and girls in every walk of life, Hillary does the damn thing.”
Dunham is also fetched by Clinton’s alleged opposition to racism. “I’ve been moved,” she writes, “by the stories of people across the country who attest to Hillary’s decades of working for social justice in their communities.”
Gun control, “a feminist issue,” factors into the equation as well: “Hillary has a plan specifically to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers.”
And lest her audience mistakenly perceive that she finds no fault in her favored candidate, Dunham would like us to know that she recognizes that Hillary has “made mistakes.” One such mistake, as Dunham sees it, is Hillary’s vote in favor of Bush’s invasion of Iraq. But while this was a “huge miscalculation,” Dunham is encouraged by her belief that Hillary “worked her heart out as secretary of state to make up for it.”
“Wouldn’t it be cool,” Dunham inquires rhetorically, “if everyone else who voted for that war did as much to promote peace and human rights around the world?”
One charitably assumes that Dunham either doesn’t know what she’s saying or doesn’t mean it. Otherwise she can and should be disregarded as yet another vulgar propagandist whose supposed empathy doesn’t extend beyond the margins of her own very narrow perspective.
Before continuing, I’ll make a distinction that shouldn’t have to be made because it’s self-evident: we are dealing with someone of a degree of cultural significance who has been enthusiastically campaigning for Clinton from the beginning; we are not dealing with someone prepared to cast a vote for Clinton because they are persuaded by the lesser-evil argument. These are two very different casts of mind and are not equally assailable.
There’s no question that Clinton professes to care about women, just as Barack Obama professes to oppose the proliferation of nuclear weapons, or Mrs. Clinton’s husband professed to believe that the Sudanese pharmaceutical plant he blew up was used by terrorists to produce chemical weapons. The question, of course, is whether we’re justified in taking them at their word. The historical record, as well as common sense, suggest that we’re not.
Dunham’s remark about Hillary flying around “to countries where women are routinely denied basic freedoms” to put “their leaders on blast” is interesting. There are two possibilities: either she fails to recognize the inanity of her own comment, or else she’s trusting that her audience will fail to recognize it. In the former case, she’s ignorant and irresponsible; in the latter she’s dishonest and hypocritical, and should be exposed as such.
Saudi Arabia, as all but the most uninformed of people fully understand, is world’s leading exporter of Wahhabism, the radical Islamic ideology that reduces women to chattel. According to this ideology—which, thanks to US foreign policy, can now be observed all over the Middle East and elsewhere—women are fit to be kept as sex slaves, fit to be genitally mutilated, fit to be punished for exposing their skin in public, fit to be punished (or killed) for resisting an arranged marriage, fit to be punished for being gang raped. With that said, the misogynistic thugs governing Saudi Arabia produce oil [and more importantly transfer global revenues from the sale of petroleum to Wall st.] and are hostile to Iran; ergo they are a crucial US ally.
As such, while serving as secretary of state, Clinton facilitated billions of dollars in munitions sales to Saudi Arabia; in fact, US arms exports to Saudi Arabia increased by 97 percent during this time. (Recall that, according to Dunham, Clinton is very concerned about keeping weapons out of the hands of those who are liable to use them against women.) These weapons are now being used to massacre civilians—including, of course, women and children—in Yemen and to bolster Saudi Arabia’s regional (and thus global) influence. When said influence increases, so too does Wahhabi-style persecution of women, a circumstance any feminist—indeed, any decent human—finds utterly despicable and ought to resist.
This, presumably, is one way in which Hillary “worked her heart out as secretary of state to make up for” her Iraq war vote.
Another way is perhaps her support for the 2009 military coup in Honduras, whereby, according to Greg Grandin of The Nation, “Clinton allied with the worst sectors of Honduran society.” Grandin’s article, a eulogy for a female activist in Honduras who was gunned down by political opponents, is of particular relevance considering Dunham’s assertion that Hillary is dedicated “to women’s reproductive health and rights” and moreover has a “holistic approach to protecting the vulnerable.”
Consider the following details regarding the rights of women following the military coup Mrs. Clinton helped to consolidate:
Despite the fact that he was a rural patriarch, [toppled president Manuel Zelaya] was remarkably supportive of “intersectionality” (that is, a left politics not reducible to class or political economy): He tried to make the morning-after pill legal. (After Zelaya’s ouster, Honduras’s coup congress—the one legitimated by Hillary Clinton—passed an absolute ban on emergency contraception, criminalizing “the sale, distribution, and use of the ‘morning-after pill’—imposing punishment for offenders equal to that of obtaining or performing an abortion, which in Honduras is completely restricted.”)
Elsewhere, Honduran feminists have spoken plainly about the devastating effects of the US-sponsored coup in their country. Believe it or not, many of them reject the idea that Clinton empathizes with their plight. Take for instance the words of Neesa Medina, of the Honduran Women’s Rights Center:
The 2009 coup had repercussions for sexual and reproductive rights for Honduran women…. As a member of a feminist organization severely affected by the support of the U.S. for militaristic policies of recent governments, I must say that it is important that voters take the time to do a critical structural analysis of all of the information in the campaign proposals and previous actions of those running for president. United States support for militarily invasive policies in other countries has a negative impact on the women in these countries.
The current dictatorship under [President Juan Orlando] Hernandez is part of [Hillary Clinton’s] creation. The misery doesn’t just affect women with more brutality, but also our bodies are exposed to the militarist ideology with which they uphold poverty and kill us; to the conservative fundamentalism with which they deny the exercise of our sexual autonomy; and to the possibility of being creative people and not just workers for their factories and way of life.
Clinton, to my knowledge, has yet to put the Hernandez regime, for which she and President Obama bear major responsibility, “on blast” for its abominable treatment of women.
There is also, of course, NATO’s military bombardment of Libya, a horrific and illegal policy decision—spearheaded by Clinton’s State Department—which effectively invited an assortment of misogynistic Islamic gangs to reap the benefits of the chaos sown by the removal of Muammar Gaddafi from power.
According to a March report by Human Rights Watch, Libyan women living in Sirte (now ISIS-controlled territory) endure extraordinary repression. The rule of the land is a hardline interpretation of Sharia Law, imposing unprecedented restrictions on Libyan women’s freedom. For instance, “all women and girls as young as 10 or 11” are required by law “to cover themselves from head to toe in a loose black abaya outside their homes, and to never leave without … a male relative such as a husband, brother or father.” If a woman is caught violating the dress code, her husband is either fined or flogged. Furthermore, “shop owners are whipped and fined and their shops are closed if they receive an unaccompanied woman.” And it perhaps goes without saying that men residing in Sirte are coerced into surrendering their daughters over to ISIS militants, who then force marriage and God knows what else upon the girl.
No doubt the women of Libya can appreciate Clinton’s image, in the eyes of the West, as a model feminist. Remember: she “does the damn thing” for “women and girls in every walk of life.”
In Gaza, where the Israeli government (with unilateral US support) has imposed an illegal siege for nearly a decade, 36 percent of pregnant women suffer from anemia, a direct result of the fact that a staggering 80 percent of Gaza’s Palestinian population is dependent on food-aid. Moreover, owing to regular IDF aggression against the besieged territory, as well as the Israeli government’s practice of administrative detention, women in Gaza are often left to support their families by themselves, all while being unable to find work.
“The siege affects us all, but it especially affects women,” said Tagreed Jummah, director of Gaza City’s Union of Palestinian Women Committees. “In recent years, more women have been forced to become heads of the family because their husbands have been killed, are in Israeli prisons, or are unemployed as a result of the siege. But the majority of these women have no means of earning money.”
In the summer of 2014, while Israeli missiles rained down on the people of Gaza (killing well over 1,000 civilians), Clinton gave an interview in which she dismissed international condemnation of Israel’s military aggression as “uncalled for and unfair”—just one of countless examples of her apologetics for Israeli terror. On that note, Hillary has promised that, should she win the election, she will invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (described by Middle East scholar Norman Finkelstein as a “certifiable maniac”) to the White House in her first month in office. Such is her empathetic concern for the men, women and children writhing under the heel of Zionist brutality.
All of this is readily available to anyone mildly curious about Clinton’s humanitarian credentials. One wonders, then, how someone like Lena Dunham, whose primary concern (ostensibly) is the oppression of women, can laud Mrs. Clinton as a person genuinely troubled by and committed to eradicating that very oppression wherever it exists. How, for instance, could she seriously characterize Clinton as a politician who fights to “promote peace and human rights around the world”? Could Dunham be that confused? Or is she merely ignoring facts inconsistent with her argument? Does she understand that her comments could easily (and not illogically) be construed as evidence of a racist disdain for people who happen to have been born outside of the United States?
Dunham ought to clarify whether she believes Palestinians, Hondurans, Libyans, Yemenis, etc. to be somehow unworthy of the human rights she speaks and writes so passionately about. If this is indeed the case, then her arguments in favor of Hillary Clinton, while morally and intellectually bankrupt, make perfect sense.
If, however, she is appalled to learn of her chosen candidate’s (at best) callous indifference to the fate of women in other parts of the world, Dunham should revise her position accordingly. After all, she communicates not only to a broad audience, but a broad audience of young people who by and large represent the future of Western liberalism. By simply ignoring the reality of Hillary Clinton’s worldview (and all of this could just as easily have been said of Barack Obama), Dunham is assisting the corporate media in breeding a generation of “liberals” whose compassion is terribly shortsighted, and who are thus liable to stand back and observe their leaders’ crimes with equanimity—so long as progress is being made on other fronts. When this sort of truncated empathy reigns, as history has repeatedly shown, there’s virtually nothing a wayward government can’t do. And as Orwell demonstrated, there is perhaps nothing more terrifying than an omnipotent state.
I’ll say it again, since reading comprehension varies: this was not written as a rejoinder to the argument that Clinton is preferable to Donald Trump or any other opponent; it was written in response to a relatively influential celebrity who has repeatedly attempted to cast Hillary Clinton as a champion of human rights, which is manifestly preposterous and, in my view, ultimately dangerous. Any number of individuals (celebrities, journalists and pundits alike) could have been substituted for Dunham in this context. One can vote for Hillary Clinton without telling half-truths about her sordid record.