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From Hiroshima to Syria, the enemy whose name we dare not speak

(Iraq-file photo)

by John Pilger

On my wall is the front page of Daily Express of September 5, 1945 and the words: “I write this as a warning to the world.” So began Wilfred Burchett’s report from Hiroshima. It was the scoop of the century. For his lone, perilous journey that defied the US occupation authorities, Burchett was pilloried, not least by his embedded colleagues. He warned that an act of premeditated mass murder on an epic scale had launched a new era of terror.

Almost every day now, he is vindicated. The intrinsic criminality of the atomic bombing is borne out in the US National Archives and by the subsequent decades of militarism camouflaged as democracy. The Syria psychodrama exemplifies this. Yet again, we are held hostage to the prospect of a terrorism whose nature and history even the most liberal critics still deny. The great unmentionable is that humanity’s most dangerous enemy resides across the Atlantic.

John Kerry’s farce and Barack Obama’s pirouettes are temporary. Russia’s peace deal over chemical weapons will, in time, be treated with the contempt that all militarists reserve for diplomacy. With Al-Qaida now among its allies, and US-armed coupmasters secure in Cairo, the US intends to crush the last independent states in the Middle East: Syria first, then Iran. “This operation [in Syria],” said the former French foreign minister Roland Dumas in June, “goes way back. It was prepared, pre-conceived and planned.”

When the public is “psychologically scarred”, as the Channel 4 reporter Jonathan Rugman described the British people’s overwhelming hostility to an attack on Syria, reinforcing the unmentionable is made urgent. Whether or not Bashar al-Assad or the “rebels” used gas in the suburbs of Damascus, it is the US not Syria that is the world’s most prolific user of these terrible weapons. In 1970, the Senate reported, “The US has dumped on Vietnam a quantity of toxic chemical (dioxin) amounting to six pounds per head of population”. This was Operation Hades, later renamed the friendlier Operation Rand Hand: the source of what Vietnamese doctors call a “cycle of foetal catastrophe”. I have seen generations of young children with their familiar, monstrous deformities. John Kerry, with his own blood-soaked war record, will remember them. I have seen them in Iraq, too, where the US used depleted uranium and white phosphorous, as did the Israelis in Gaza, raining it down on UN schools and hospitals. No Obama “red line” for them. No showdown psychodrama for them.

The repetitive debate about whether “we” should “take action” against selected dictators (i.e. cheer on the US and its acolytes in yet another aerial killing spree) is part of our brainwashing. Richard Falk, emeritus professor of international law and UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine, describes it as “a self-righteous, one-way, legal/moral screen [with] positive images of Western values and innocence portrayed as threatened, validating a campaign of unrestricted political violence”. This “is so widely accepted as to be virtually unchallengeable”.

It is the biggest lie: the product of “liberal realists” in Anglo-American politics, scholarship and the media who ordain themselves as the world’s crisis managers, rather than the cause of a crisis. Stripping humanity from the study of nations and congealing it with jargon that serves western power designs, they mark “failed”, “rogue” or “evil” states for “humanitarian intervention”.

An attack on Syria or Iran or any other US “demon” would draw on a fashionable variant, “Responsibility to Protect”, or R2P, whose lectern-trotting zealot is the former Australian foreign minister Gareth Evans, co-chair of a “Global Centre”, based in New York. Evans and his generously funded lobbyists play a vital propaganda role in urging the “international community” to attack countries where “the Security Council rejects a proposal or fails to deal with it in a reasonable time”.

Evans has form. He appears in my 1994 film Death of a Nation, which revealed the scale of genocide in East Timor. Canberra’s smiling man is raising his champagne glass in a toast to his Indonesian equivalent as they fly over East Timor in an Australian aircraft, having just signed a treaty that pirated the oil and gas of the stricken country below where Indonesia’s tyrant, Suharto, killed or starved a third of the population.

Under the “weak” Obama, militarism has risen perhaps as never before. With not a single tank on the White House lawn, a military coup has taken place in Washington. In 2008, while his liberal devotees dried their eyes, Obama accepted the entire Pentagon of his predecessor, George Bush: its wars and war crimes. As the constitution is replaced by an emerging police state, those who destroyed Iraq with shock and awe, and piled up the rubble in Afghanistan and reduced Libyato a Hobbesian nightmare, are ascendant across the US administration. Behind their beribboned façade, more former US soldiers are killing themselves than are dying on battlefields. Last year, 6,500 veterans took their own lives. Put out more flags.

The historian Norman Pollack calls this “liberal fascism”. “For goose-steppers,” he wrote, “substitute the seemingly more innocuous militarisation of the total culture. And for the bombastic leader, we have the reformer manqué, blithely at work, planning and executing assassination, smiling all the while.” Every Tuesday, the “humanitarian” Obama personally oversees a worldwide terror network of drones that “bugsplat” people, their rescuers and mourners. In the west’s comfort zones, the first black leader of the land of slavery still feels good, as if his very existence represents a social advance, regardless of his trail of blood. This obeisance to a symbol has all but destroyed the US anti-war movement: Obama’s singular achievement.

In Britain, the distractions of the fakery of image and identity politics have not quite succeeded. A stirring has begun, though people of conscience should hurry. The judges at Nuremberg were succinct: “Individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity.” The ordinary people of Syria, and countless others, and our own self respect, deserve nothing less now.

US planned Syrian civilian catastrophe since 2007

by Martin Rowson

by Tony Cartalucci, source

NBC News’ report, “‘The great tragedy of this century’: More than 2 million refugees forced out of Syria,” stated:

More than 2 million Syrians have poured into neighboring countries as refugees, the United Nations revealed on Tuesday.

Around 5,000 people per day are fleeing the three-year conflict, which the U.N. says has already claimed over 100,000 lives.

“Syria has become the great tragedy of this century — a disgraceful humanitarian calamity with suffering and displacement unparalleled in recent history,” said Antَnio Guterres, the U.N.’s high commissioner responsible for refugees.

But, while the UN and nations across the West feign shock over the growing humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in and around Syria, the goal of a violent sectarian conflict and its predictable, catastrophic results along with calls to literally “bleed” Syria have been the underlying strategy of special interests in the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia and their regional partners since at least 2007.

A Timeline: How the Syrian Conflict Really Unfolded

Western media networks have ensured that a singular narrative of “pro-democracy” uprisings turning violent in the face of brutal oppression by the Syrian government after the so-called “Arab Spring” is disseminated across the public. In reality, “pro-democracy” protesters served as a tenuous smokescreen behind which armed foreign-backed extremists took to the streets and countrysides of Syria to execute a sectarian bloodbath years in the making. Here is a timeline that illuminates the true cause of Syria’s current conflict and the foreign interests, not the Syrian government, responsible for the tens of thousands dead and millions displaced during the conflict.

1991: Paul Wolfowitz, then Undersecretary of Defense, tells US Army General Wesley Clark that the US has 5-10 years to “clean up those old Soviet client regimes, Syria, Iran, Iraq, before the next great superpower comes on to challenge us.” Fora.TV: Wesley Clark at the Commonwealth Club of California, October 3, 2007.

2001: A classified plot is revealed to US Army General Wesley Clark that the US plans to attack and destroy the governments of 7 nations: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya Somalia, Sudan, and Iran. Fora.TV: Wesley Clark at the Commonwealth Club of California, October 3, 2007.

2002: US Under Secretary of State John Bolton declares Syria a member of the “Axis of Evil” and warned that “the US would take action.” BBC: “US Expands ‘Axis of Evil'” May 6, 2002.

2005: US State Department’s National Endowment for Democracy organizes and implements the “Cedar Revolution” in Lebanon directly aimed at undermining Syrian-Iranian influence in Lebanon in favor of Western-backed proxies, most notably Saad Hariri’s political faction. Counterpunch: “Faking the Case Against Syria,” by Trish Schuh November 19-20, 2005.

2005: Ziad Abdel Nour, an associate of Bush Administration advisers, policy makers, and media including Neo-Conservatives Paula Dobriansky, James Woolsey, Frank Gaffney, Daniel Pipes, Joseph Farah (World Net Daily), Clifford May, and Daniel Nassif of US State Department-funded Al Hurra and Radio Sawa, admits: “Both the Syrian and Lebanese regimes will be changed- whether they like it or not- whether it’s going to be a military coup or something else… and we are working on it. We know already exactly who’s going to be the replacements. We’re working on it with the Bush administration.” Counterpunch: “Faking the Case Against Syria,” by Trish Schuh November 19-20, 2005.

2006: Israel attempts, and fails, to destroy Hezbollah in Lebanon after a prolonged aerial bombard that resulted in thousands of civilian deaths. CNN: “UN: Hezbollah and Israel agree on Monday cease-fire,” August 13, 2006.
2007: Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker reveals that US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and Hariri in Lebanon as well as the Syrian arm of the Muslim Brotherhood were assembling, arming, training, and heavily funding a sectarian extremists front, many of whom had direct ties to Al Qaeda, to unleash in both Lebanon and Syria. The goal was to create and exploit a sectarian divide between Sunni and Shi’ia Muslims. Hersh interviewed intelligence officers who expressed concerns over the “cataclysmic conflict” that would result, and the need to protect ethnic minorities from sectarian atrocities. The report indicated that extremists would be logistically staged in northern Lebanon where they would be able to cross back and forth into Syria. New Yorker: “The Redirection,” by Seymour Hersh, March 5, 2007.

2008: The US State Department begins training, funding, networking, and equipping “activists” through its “Alliance for Youth Movements” where the future protest leaders of the “Arab Spring,” including Egypt’s “April 6 Movement” were brought to New York, London, and Mexico, before being trained by US-funded CANVAS in Serbia, and then returning home to begin preparations for 2011. Land Destroyer: “2011 – Year of the Dupe,” December 24, 2011.

009: The Brookings Institution published a report titled, “Which Path to Persia?” which admits that the Bush Administration “evicted” Syria from Lebanon without building up a strong Lebanese government to replace it (p. 34), that Israel struck a “nascent” Syrian nuclear program, and states the importance of neutralizing Syrian influence before any attack on Iran can be carried out (p. 109). The report then goes on to describe in detail the use of listed terrorist organizations against the government of Iran, in particular the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) (p. 126) and Baluch insurgents in Pakistan (p.132). Brookings Institution: “Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran,” June 2009.

2009-2010: In an April 2011 AFP report, Michael Posner, the assistant US Secretary of State for Human Rights and Labor, admitted that the “US government has budgeted $50 million in the last two years to develop new technologies to help activists protect themselves from arrest and prosecution by authoritarian governments.” The report went on to admit that the US (emphasis added) “organized training sessions for 5,000 activists in different parts of the world. A session held in the Middle East about six weeks ago gathered activists from Tunisia, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon who returned to their countries with the aim of training their colleagues there.” Posner would add, “They went back and there’s a ripple effect.” AFP: “US Trains Activists to Evade Security Forces,” April 8, 2011.

2011: Posner’s US trained, funded, and equipped activists return to their respective countries across the Arab World to begin their “ripple effect.” Protests, vandalism , and arson sweep across Syria and “rooftop snipers” begin attacking both protesters and Syrian security forces, just as Western-backed movements were documented doing in Bangkok, Thailand one year earlier. With a similar gambit already unfolding in Libya, US senators begin threatening Syria with long planned and sought after military intervention. Land Destroyer: “Syria: Intervention Inevitable,” April 29, 2011.

2012: With NATO’s Libyan intervention resulting in a weak US-backed Tripoli client-regime, perpetual infighting, nationwide genocide, and the succession of Benghazi in the east, the NATO-backed Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), listed by the US State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (listed #27) begins mobilizing weapons, cash, and fighters to begin destabilizing Syria. Headed by LIFG’s Abdul Hakim Belhaj, this would be the first confirmed presence of Al Qaeda in Syria, flush with NATO weapons and cash. The Washington Post would confirm, just as stated by Hersh in 2007, that the US and Saudi Arabia were arming the sectarian extremists, now labeled the “Free Syrian Army.” The Post also admits that the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, as stated in Hersh’s 2007 report, was also involved in arming and backing extremist fighters. Land Destroyer: “US Officially Arming Extremists in Syria,” May 16, 2012.

2012: The US policy think-tank Brookings Institution in its Middle East Memo #21 “Assessing Options for Regime Change (.pdf),” admits that it does not seek any negotiated ceasefire under the UN’s “Kofi Annan peace plan” that leaves Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power and would rather arm militants, even with the knowledge they will never succeed, to “bleed” the government, “keeping a regional adversary weak, while avoiding the costs of direct intervention.” This reveals that US policy does not view US interference in Syria as a moral imperative predicated on defending human rights, but rather using this false predication to couch aspirations of regional hegemony. Land Destroyer: “US Brookings Wants to “Bleed” Syria to Death,” May 28, 2012.

And, just this year, it was revealed that despite the West’s feigned military and political paralysis regarding the Syrian conflict, the US and Great Britain have been covertly funding and arming sectarian extremists to the tune of billions of dollars and arming them with literally thousands of tons of weaponry. Despite claims of “carefully vetting” “moderate” militant factions, the prominence of Al Qaeda-linked extremist groups indicates that the majority of Western support, laundered through Qatar and Saudi Arabia, is being purposefully put into the hands of the very sectarian extremists identified in Seymour Hersh’s 2007 article, “The Redirection.”

US Created and is Now Using Syrian Catastrophe to Justify Intervention

The non-debate taking place now to justify US military intervention in a conflict they themselves started and have intentionally perpetuated, is whether chemical weapons were used in Damascus on August 21, 2013 – not even “who” deployed them. The weakness of the US’ argument has seen an unprecedented backlash across both the world’s populations and the global diplomatic community. And despite only 9% of the American public supporting a military intervention in Syria, Congress appears poised to not only green-light “limited strikes,” but may approve of a wider military escalation.

In Seymour Hersh’s 2007 New Yorker article, “The Redirection,” Robert Baer, a former CIA agent in Lebanon, warned of the sectarian bloodbath the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia were planning to unleash. He stated:

“we’ve got Sunni Arabs preparing for cataclysmic conflict, and we will need somebody to protect the Christians in Lebanon. It used to be the French and the United States who would do it, and now it’s going to be Nasrallah and the Shiites”

Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, also featured in Hersh’s report, would in turn also warn of an imminent and spreading sectarian war purposefully stoked by the West:

Nasrallah said he believed that President Bush’s goal was “the drawing of a new map for the region. They want the partition of Iraq. Iraq is not on the edge of a civil war-there is a civil war. There is ethnic and sectarian cleansing. The daily killing and displacement which is taking place in Iraq aims at achieving three Iraqi parts, which will be sectarian and ethnically pure as a prelude to the partition of Iraq. Within one or two years at the most, there will be total Sunni areas, total Shiite areas, and total Kurdish areas. Even in Baghdad, there is a fear that it might be divided into two areas, one Sunni and one Shiite.”

He went on, “I can say that President Bush is lying when he says he does not want Iraq to be partitioned. All the facts occurring now on the ground make you swear he is dragging Iraq to partition. And a day will come when he will say, ‘I cannot do anything, since the Iraqis want the partition of their country and I honor the wishes of the people of Iraq.’ ”

Nasrallah said he believed that America also wanted to bring about the partition of Lebanon and of Syria. In Syria, he said, the result would be to push the country “into chaos and internal battles like in Iraq.” In Lebanon, “There will be a Sunni state, an Alawi state, a Christian state, and a Druze state.” But, he said, “I do not know if there will be a Shiite state.”

It would be difficult for anyone to look across the scarred landscape of today’s Syria and not see that this horrific conspiracy was realized in full. The Western media is now acquainting the public with the possibility of a partitioned Syria, echoing the warnings of Nasrallah years ago. The goals of a US military strike would be to “degrade” the capabilities of the Syrian government, while bolstering the terrorist legions still operating within and along Syria’s borders.

What we are witnessing in Syria today is the direct result of a documented conspiracy, not by a “brutal Syrian regime” “oppressing” its own people, but of a US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia radicalizing, arming, and unleashing a sectarian tidal wave they knew well ahead of time would cause atrocities, genocide, mass displacements and even the geopolitical partitioning of Syria and beyond. The intentional destabilization of the region is meant to weaken Lebanon, Syria, Iran, and Iraq – and even Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, and others – to accomplish what the depleted, impotent US and Israeli forces could not achieve. Military intervention now seeks to tip the balance of an already teetering region.

The attacks on Syria are not humanitarian by any measure. They are simply the latest stage of a long-running plan to divide and destroy the region, leaving the West the sole regional hegemonic power.

The war against Iraq fiasco, ten years later

(Iraqi children with birth defects-File photo)

by Rodrigue Tremblay, source

International law? I better call my lawyer; he didn’t bring that up to me.
– George W. Bush, U.S. president (2001-2009), (December 12, 2003)

I told George Bush as early as August 2002, during a meeting in Detroit, that we would support him if he receives the authorization from the UN. —I told him: ‘To have the backing of the U.N., it will be necessary that you establish more clearly that he [Saddam Hussein] has weapons of mass destruction.’ —There was no such evidence. Since he [George W. Bush] did not provide sufficient evidence, he did not get the support of the U.N. … Without an authorization from the United Nations, Canada must stay away from military interventions abroad, even if they are carried out by its allies.
– Jean Chrétien, Prime Minister of Canada (1993-2003), (March 13, 2013)

Those who were 100 percent certain there were weapons of mass destruction [in Iraq, before the March 2003 invasion] had less than zero percent knowledge.
– Hans Blix, former chief United Nations weapons inspector, August 2010

I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.
– Alan Greenspan, former Federal Reserve Chairman (inThe Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World, 2007)

He who wants to kill his dog accuses him of having rabies.
– old French saying

This month marks the 10th anniversary of the decision by the Bush-Cheney administration to invade the country of Iraq and initiate what can be called a war of choice. This is a good time to briefly look back at this unsavory historical episode.

Public opinion polls indicate that a majority of Americans now think the 2003 Iraq war, in which tens of thousands of Iraqis and thousands of Americans died, was a mistake. In the UK, the other country most involved with the Iraq war, a similar poll taken recently indicates that only 28 percent of Brits now believe the war was justified and made the world a safer place.

Other polls also indicate that George W. Bush has a good chance to be considered, if not the worst, certainly among the worst presidents the United States ever had. The man had no moral compass.

Indeed, his personal and unilateral decision to launch an illegal war of aggression in 2003—against Iraq, a country that had not attacked the United States—based on disingenuous lies, fabrications, disinformation and propaganda, and in violation of the United Nations’ Charter, whose Security Council refused to authorize the American aggression, will go down in history as one of those abuses and pretexts that devious politicians resort to when they want to circumvent international law in order to promote some narrow personal or national interests.

But Iraq had a lot of oil, and it was considered in certain circles an enemy of Israel, a country that the current generation of American politicians supports blindly. That was enough to want to topple its government and take control of it.

In the summer and fall of 2002, distressed by nothing less than a neocon cabal and a series of outrageous lies by the Bush-Cheney administration, I began writing a book denouncing the coming war of aggression against Iraq.

The book was initially published in French six weeks before the March 20, 2003 military assault against Iraq under the title Pourquoi Bush veut la guerreWhy Bush Wants War, a book presently out of print (now a collector’s item). It was published one year later, this time in English, under the title of The New American Empire, and, a few years later, was published in Europe under the title of Le nouvel empire américain and it was also translated into Turkish under the title Yeni Amerikan ImperatorLugu.

The book described the type of cabal and aggressive war campaign in the Bush-Cheney administration and in many American media to push the United States toward an illegal war of aggression in the Middle East in order to overthrow Iraq’s Saddam Hussein regime and to exert an overt influence in the way that country uses its natural resources.

Indeed, the 2003 American war against Iraq was primarily an economic war, because the government of Saddam Hussein was excluding U.S. and U.K. companies from Iraqi oil resource development. This was in retaliation for these two countries supporting unconditionally Israel’s decades-long oppression of the Palestinians. As a consequence, the Bush-Cheney administration and its vassal Tony Blair in England felt that they had to intervene militarily in order to prevent French, German, Russian, and Chinese oil companies to develop Iraq’s oil, while U.S. and U.K. oil company interests were excluded. Basic economic interests were thus at play and international law was powerless to stop the military onslaught.

The pretext found was to accuse Iraq to harbor “weapons of mass destruction” that it could possibly and eventually use against its neighbors. Such so-called “weapons of mass destruction” were never found because they never existed in the first place, as the Hans Blix U.N. inspecting commission had publicly certified. The entire propaganda operation by the Bush-Cheney administration was nothing more than a lie and a fraud.

Mind you, the 2003 Iraq war was triggered by the Bush-Cheney administration after the United States was already involved in a protracted war against Al Qaeda fundamentalist conservatism in Afghanistan, and this since the fall of 2001 under a United Nations’ authorization and in retaliation for this latter country Taliban government’s support for the 9/11 terrorists.

Another oft-repeated lie by the Bush-Cheney administration was that the government of Iraq had been involved, one way or another, in the 9/11 attack. Not a thread of evidence has ever been produced to that effect, while all indications were to the contrary that secular Saddam Hussein was vehemently opposed to the religiously-bent Al Qaeda terrorist network of Osama bin Laden.

The American people and a majority in Congress would probably not have supported the Iraq military invasion had there not have been a barrage of propaganda that originated from the pro-Israel Lobby in the media and the Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfowitz-Libby-Perle cabal inside the U.S. government. These two campaigns had a tremendous impact in persuading a passive public still shaken by the 9/11 terrorist attacks that the lies it was fed were facts.

We pretend to live in countries of laws and not of men and that nobody is above the law. This can be disputed, however, in light of the fact that no one in the Bush-Cheney regime in the U.S. and in the Tony Blair regime in the U.K. has been held accountable to date for this massive abuse of power, aprima facie impeachable offense. Instead, most of the actors in this tragedy have been rewarded with plush nominations.

The U.S. military officially withdrew from Iraq in 2011, but that country is still in a mess and it will suffer economically and politically for decades to come the destruction and destabilization it has been subjected to by the 2003 U.S.-led military invasion.

Same world, same war: Asian pivot, African target

by EVAN TAYLOR, source

Barack Obama loves basketball, and the media loves to analyze his maneuvering of U.S. Foreign Policy as if it were a basketball game. The first term was the “Asia Pivot,”—Barack backing down China in the lane, clearing out space for U.S. influence in Vietnam and Thailand and Myanmar. But the White House was actually another running a different play all along, or so the Washington Post now says, a shift to Africa. While Asia got the U.S. rhetoric down low, it was in Africa where the Pentagon was getting its hands bloody, participating in “a string of messy wars,” as the Post’s excellent Pentagon reporter Craig Whitlock put it. And while messy wars in Africa are sadly nothing new, the continent-spanning network of military installations that the U.S. has been building is.

Since 2007, the Pentagon has constructed the beginnings of a massive framework of military and spy bases, as many as twelve airfields stretching from the Indian to Atlantic Oceans. Camp Lemonnier, in tiny Djibouti on the mouth of the Red Sea, is the biggest node in the network, a 500-acre compound housing 3,200 troops, civilians, contractors, as well a large fleet of aircraft and drones. Moving across Africa, other installations used by the U.S. military as of June 2012 are located in the Seychelles archipelago in the Indian Ocean, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Burkina Faso, and Mauritania. From these locations, the U.S. operates a fleet of spy aircraft and drones, participates in small-scale military operations, and leads training exercises with numerous African states.

The Pentagon bureaucracy in control of this network—the African Command, or AFRICOM—is itself a relative baby, announced by George W. Bush in February 2007 and officially formed in October 2008. But despite its youth, it is following the historical precedent set by other regional commands and immediately fighting a war in its new domain. For a comparison, the Pentagon created its Pacific Command in 1947 and within three years U.S. troops were fighting on the ground in Korea. Central Command was officially formed in 1983, and within seven years hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops were invading Iraq. In 1999, when Central Command expanded its scope to include the formerly Soviet Central Asian Republics, it took only two years for the U.S. to invade Afghanistan. AFRICOM managed to keep the streak alive, providing the manpower, surveillance, and logistical backbone for the 2011 war in Libya. According to NATO’s own numbers, the U.S. led militaries flew over 26,000 sorties during the eight-month campaign, averaging 120 flights a day from February through October, and deployed 8,000 troops in support (as well as an unknown number of special forces and intelligence operatives and trainers on the ground). It was no Korean War, but a start nonetheless for AFRICOM.

Most recently, the Pentagon has also announced that it is planning to build a large drone base in Northwest Africa, most likely in the deserts of Niger. While the Pentagon explains that the new base is related to the conflict in Mali that erupted earlier this year, military officials openly admit that the base will also serve to give Africa Command a more “enduring presence” on the continent. As no government other than the tiny Djibouti will agree to openly host a permanent U.S. base, the Pentagon has been forced to run its new African operations from a headquarters in Germany. Although it is unlikely that a new drone base in the Niger desert will become a dystopian AFRICOM headquarters, the ever-increasing U.S. military footprint makes further efforts to increase control inevitable. As the great Richard Barnet wrote back in 1971, “In the game of international politics, practitioners must be fiercely partisan. The United States is the client, and the task of the manager is to increase her power and influence in the world, whatever the cost.”

Tellingly, a large expansion is being planned for Camp Lemonnier. What started as a 1,500 person Special Forces base in 2002, operated by the “Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa,” has doubled in size since then, and is growing still. In the eyes of the Pentagon, Lemonnier is “an essential regional power projection base,” as General Carter Ham, head of AFRICOM at the time, testified before the House Armed Services Committee in March 2012. Nick Turse, a researcher and editor for the website Tomdispatch, wrote in a July 2012 article that:

Military contracting documents reveal plans for an investment of up to $180 million or more in construction at Camp Lemonnier alone. Chief among the projects will be the laying of 54,500 square meters of taxiways “to support medium-load aircraft” and the construction of a 185,000 square meter Combat Aircraft Loading Area. In addition, plans are in the works to erect modular maintenance structures, hangers, and ammunition storage facilities, all needed for an expanding set of secret wars in Africa.

To truly understand the neo-colonial nature of Djibouti, a French colony until 1977, it has to be compared to its neighbors. The Republic of Djibouti covers just 9,000 square miles, roughly the size of New Jersey. Its neighbor, Eritrea, equally as remote in popular imagination, is five times as large. Somalia and Yemen, the two nearby states being bombed from Camp Lemonnier, both cover over 200,000 square miles, and have coastlines nearly as long as the entire U.S. littoral along the Gulf of Mexico. Ethiopia is twice as big as these, one quarter the size of the contiguous U.S. In population terms, the differences are even starker. Ethiopia, with 86 million people, is the second most populated state in Africa. Djibouti, with fewer than one million people, is 49th. The only states on mainland Africa with less people are Equatorial Guinea and the Western Sahara. Such a low population means that roughly one out of every three hundred people in the country is an employee of the U.S. military, and not subject to local law.

While Mr. Whitlock and the Washington Post have been doing an excellent job over the past years in tracking the new additions to the U.S. empire of bases in Africa, they have missed the bigger story. The “Asia Pivot” and the “Africa Shift” are not separate but part of the same long-term strategy, an attempt to dominate Zbigniew Brzezinski’s great arc of crisis across the underbelly of Eurasia. The routes running from Asia to Africa and Europe—both over land and sea—must be examined as one great exercise in power projection, with the energy deposits in the Persian Gulf and the Caspian Sea regions located smack-dab in the middle. From this perspective, one can see the orientations of todays, and tomorrows, world; flows of natural resources, manufactured goods, and people crossing the planets greatest potential marketplace. Empires throughout history have always understood this, from Alexander the Great’s Macedonian kingdom to the Mongol Empire, from the Ottomans to the British. Since the 1970′s, attempting to control this massive global corridor through war and military engagements has also been the principal aim of U.S. foreign policy. And while the Post may not understand this (or want to tell the public), the Pentagon certainly does. David Rodriguez, President Obama’s newest nominee to head AFRICOM, responded to Senate questioning on the “Asia Pivot” by highlighting that it increased the importance of U.S. military forces in Africa, stating:

The eastern portion of AFRICOM’s area of responsibility abuts the Indian Ocean, a centrally important component of the global commons, reflecting historic trade ties and encompassing sea lanes of communication that link Africa to the Middle East, Europe, and the rising powers of India and China in the Asia-Pacific region.

Imperialism is a global mindset. There is no single Asia policy, or Africa policy, or Middle East Policy. There is only a global attempt to control the resources and populations of the planet. The “Asia Pivot” and the newly termed “Africa Shift” are but its latest flailing’s.

In a telling sign of the full circle nature that this policy has reached, the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Seychelles has now felt a double dipping of U.S. imperialism. Between 1971 and 1973, when Washington and London colluded to establish a military base at Diego Garcia, another island in the Indian Ocean, they forcibly expelled the 1,500 Chagossians inhabitants of the island, as recounted by anthropologist David Vine in his book Island of Shame. The Chagossians were sent 1,200 miles across the ocean in cramped boats to the Seychelles, where they were dumped at the dock on Port Louis. Spread out over the archipelago, the Chagossians have been campaigning for reparations over Diego Garcia ever since.

Now, however, the U.S. military is back, and since 2009 a drone base has been operational on the Seychelles. In a state department cable from September 2009 released by Wikileaks, State Department Charge d’Affaires Virginia Blaser reported that 77 American personnel would be stationed on the islands, and that U.S. drones would conduct intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance flights over the Horn of Africa. And while these drones were not to be armed at that point, it was noted that “should the desire ever arise, the USG would seek discrete, specific discussions with appropriate GOS officials.”

Besides the usual trouble that military bases bring along with them, there have been two drone crashes at the Seychelles, in December 2011 and April 2012. As such, the Chagossian population of the Seychelles has seen the full scope of modern imperialism, from a British colonial governor executing their dogs with car exhaust to the threat of American military robots crashing down on their heads. They are poignant examples of the “unpeople,” to steal a phrase from George Orwell, who are the passive victims of U.S. militarization, and there are thousands more like them, from Mauritania to Guam.

US: The police state is real

It Has Happened Here

by PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS, source

The Bush regime’s response to 9/11 and the Obama regime’s validation of this response have destroyed accountable democratic government in the United States. So much unaccountable power has been concentrated in the executive branch that the US Constitution is no longer an operable document.

Whether a person believes the official story of 9/11 or not, the result is the same: 9/11 was used to create an open-ended “war on terror” and a police state. It is extraordinary that so many Americans believe that “it can’t happen here” when it already has.

We have had a decade of highly visible evidence of the construction of a police state:

the PATRIOT Act, illegal spying on Americans in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the initiation of wars of aggression–war crimes under the Nuremberg Standard–based on intentional lies, the Justice Department’s concocted legal memos justifying the executive branch’s violation of domestic and international laws against torture, the indefinite detention of US citizens in violation of the constitutionally protected rights of habeas corpus and due process, the use of secret evidence and secret “expert witnesses” who cannot be cross-examined against defendants in trials, the creation of military tribunals in order to evade federal courts, secret legal memos giving the president authority to launch preemptive cyber attacks on any country without providing evidence that the country constitutes a threat, and the Obama regime’s murder of US citizens without evidence or due process.

As if this were not enough, the Obama regime now creates new presidential powers by crafting secret laws, refusing to disclose the legal reasoning on which the asserted power rests. In other words, laws now originate in secret executive branch memos and not in acts of Congress. Congress? We don’t need no stinking Congress.

Despite laws protecting whistleblowers and the media and the US Military Code which requires soldiers to report war crimes, whistleblowers such as CIA agent John Kiriakou, media such as Julian Assange, and soldiers such as Bradley Manning are persecuted and prosecuted for revealing US government crimes. The criminals go free, and those who report the crimes are punished.

The justification for the American police state is the “war on terror,” a hoax kept alive by the FBI’s “sting operations.” Normally speaking, a sting operation is when a policewoman poses as a prostitute in order to ensnare a “John,” or a police officer poses as a drug dealer or user in order to ensnare drug users or dealers. The FBI’s “sting operation” goes beyond these victimless crimes that fill up US prisons.

The FBI’s sting operations are different. They are just as victimless as no plot ever happens, but the FBI doesn’t pose as bomb makers for terrorists who have a plot but lack the weapon. Instead, the FBI has the plot and looks for a hapless or demented person or group, or for a Muslim enraged over the latest Washington insult to him and/or his religion. When the FBI locates its victim, its agents approach the selected perpetrator pretending to be Al-Qaeda or some such and ply the selected perpetrator with money, the promise of fame, or threats until the victim signs on to the FBI’s plot and is arrested.

Trevor Aaronson in his book, The Terror Factory: Inside the FBI’s War on Terrorism, documents that the FBI has so far concocted 150 “terrorist plots” and that almost all of the other “terrorist cases” are cases unrelated to terrorism, such as immigration, with a terror charge tacked on. The presstitute American media doesn’t ask why, if there is so much real terrorism requiring an American war against it, the FBI has to invent and solicit terrorist plots.

Neither does the media inquire how the Taliban, which resists the US invasion and attempted occupation of Afghanistan, fighting the US superpower to a standstill after 11 years, came to be designated as terrorists. Nor does the US presstitute media want to know how tribesmen in remote regions of Pakistan came to be designated as “terrorists” deserving of US drone attacks on the citizens, schools and medical clinics of a country with which the US is not at war.

Instead the media protects and perpetrates the hoax that has given America the police state. The American media has become Leni Riefenstahl, as has Hollywood with the anti-Muslim propaganda film, Zero Dark Thirty. This propaganda film is a hate crime that spreads Islamophobia. Nevertheless, the film is likely to win awards and to sink Americans into both tyranny and a hundred-year war in the name of fighting the Muslim threat.

What I learned many years ago as a professor is that movies are important molders of Americans‘ attitudes. Once, after giving a thorough explanation of the Russian Revolution that led to communist rule, a student raised his hand and said: “That’s not the way it happened in the movie.”

At first I thought he was making a witty joke, but then I realized that he thought that the truth resided in the movie, not in the professor who was well versed in the subject. Ever since I have been puzzled how the US has survived for so long, considering the ignorance of its population. Americans have lived in the power of the US economy. Now that this power is waning, sooner or later Americans will have to come to terms with reality.

It is a reality that will be unfamiliar to them.

Some Americans claim that we have had police states during other wartimes and that once the war on terror is won, the police state will be dismantled. Others claim that government will be judicious in its use of the power and that if you are doing nothing wrong you have nothing to fear.

These are reassurances from the deluded. The Bush/Obama police state is far more comprehensive than Lincoln’s, Wilson’s, or Roosevelt’s, and the war on terror is open-ended and is already three times longer than World War II. The Police State is acquiring “squatter’s rights.”

Moreover, the government needs the police state in order to protect itself from accountability for its crimes, lies, and squandering of taxpayers‘ money. New precedents for executive power have been created in conjunction with the Federalist Society which, independent of the war on terror, advocates the “unitary executive” theory, which claims the president has powers not subject to check by Congress and the Judiciary. In other words, the president is a dictator if he prefers to be.

The Obama regime is taking advantage of this Republican theory. The regime has used the Republican desire for a strong executive outside the traditional checks and balances together with the fear factor to complete the creation of the Bush/Cheney police state.

As Lawrence M. Stratton and I documented in our book, The Tyranny Of Good Intentions, prior to 9/11 law as a shield of the people was already losing ground to law as a weapon in the hands of the government. If the government wanted to get you, there were few if any barriers to a defendant being framed and convicted, least of all a brainwashed jury fearful of crime.

I cannot say whether the US justice system has ever served justice better than it has served the ambition of prosecutors. Already in the 1930s and 1940s US Supreme Court Justice George Sutherland and US Attorney General Robert Jackson were warning against prosecutors who sacrifice “fair dealing to build up statistics of success.” Certainly it is difficult to find in the ranks of federal prosecutors today Jackson’s “prosecutor who tempers zeal with human kindness, who seeks truth and not victims, who serves the law and not factional purposes, and who approaches his task with humility.”

Just consider the wrongful conviction of Alabama’s Democratic governor, Don Siegelman by what apparently was a Karl Rove plot to rid the South of Democratic governors. The “Democratic” Obama regime has not investigated this false prosecution or given clemency to its innocent own. Remember how quickly Bush removed the prison sentence of Cheney’s operative who revealed the name of a CIA undercover agent? The Democrats are a cowed and cowardly political party, fearful of justice, and as much a part of the corrupt police state as the Republicans.

Today the purpose of a prosecution is to serve the prosecutor’s career and that of the party that appoints him or her. A prosecutor’s career is served by high conviction rates, which require plea bargains in which the evidence against a defendant is never tested in court or before a jury, and by high profile cases, which can launch a prosecutor into a political career, as Rudy Giuliana achieved with his frame-up of Michael Milken.

Glenn Greenwald explained how Internet freedom advocate Aaron Swartz was driven to his death by the ambition of two federal prosecutors, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz and Assistant US Attorney Stephen Heymann, who had no aversion to destroying an innocent person with ridiculous and trumped-up charges in order to advance their careers.

It is rare for a prosecutor to suffer any consequence for bringing false charges, for consciously using and even paying for false evidence, and for lying to judge and jury.

As prosecutors are rarely held accountable, they employ illegal and unethical methods and routinely abuse their power. As judges are mainly concerned with clearing their court dockets, justice is rarely served in America, which explains why the US has not only a larger percentage of its citizens in prison than any other country on earth, but also the largestabsolute number of prisoners. The US actually has more of its citizens in prison than “authoritarian” China which has a population four times larger than the US. The US, possibly the greatest human rights abuser in history, is constantly bringing human rights charges against China. Where are the human rights charges against Washington?

In America the collapse of law has gone beyond corrupt prosecutors and their concocted false prosecutions. Unless it needs or desires a show trial, a police state does not need prosecutors and courts. By producing legal memos that the president can both throw people into prison without a trial and execute them without a trial simply by stating that some official in the executive branch thinks the person has a possible or potential connection to terrorism, tyranny’s friends in the Justice (sic) Department have dispensed with the need for courts, prosecutors and trials.The Bush/Obama regime has made the executive branch judge, juror, and executioner. All that is needed is an unproven assertion by some executive branch official. Here we have the epitome of evil.

Evidence is no longer required for the president of the US to imprison people for life or to deprive them of their life. A secret Justice Department memo has been leaked to NBC News that reveals the tyrannical reasoning that authorizes the executive branch to execute American citizens on the basis of belief alone without the requirement of evidence that they are terrorists or associated with terrorists.

In “freedom and democracy” America, innocent until proven guilty is no longer the operative legal principle. If the government says you are guilty, you are. Period. No evidence required for your termination. Even Stalin pretended to have evidence.

The United States government is working its way step by step toward the determination that any and every critic of the government is guilty of providing “aid and comfort” to Washington’s “terrorist enemies,” which includes the elected Hamas government in Gaza. The only critics exempted from this rule-in-the-making are the neoconservatives who criticize the US government for being too slow to throttle both its critics and “anti-semites,” such as former US President Jimmy Carter, who criticize the Israeli government’s illegal appropriation of Palestinian lands. Most of Palestine has been stolen by Israel with Washington acquiesce and aid. Therefore, nothing is left for a “two-state solution.”

There is no doubt whatsoever that the Israeli government’s theft of Palestine is illegal; yet, Washington, on which Israel is totally dependent, does nothing about law. Law, we don’t need no stinking law.” Washington has might. Might is right. Get used to it.

Not only for Palestinians has law ceased to exist, but also for Americans, and for Washington’s NATO puppets in the UK and Europe, pitiful remnants of once great nations now complicit in Washington’s crimes against humanity. The Open Society Justice Initiative, a NGO based in New York, has issued a report that documents that 54 governments are involved in Washington’s rendition and torture program. Twenty-five of the governments that help Washington to kidnap, disappear, and torture people are European.

The opening decade of the 21st century has seen the destruction of all the law that was devised to protect the innocent and the vulnerable since the rise of the now defunct moral conscience of the West. The West’s moral conscience never applied outside of itself. What happened to people in Europe’s colonies and to native inhabitants of the US and Australia is a very different story.

Nevertheless, despite its lack of coverage to the powerless, the principle of the rule of law was a promising principle. Now America under Bush and Obama, two peas of the same pod, has abandoned the principle itself.

The Obama police state will be worse than the Bush/Cheney police state. Unlike conservatives who in times past were suspicious of government power, Obamabots believe that government power is a force for good if it is in the right hands. As Obama’s supporters see him as a member of an oppressed minority, they are confident that Obama will not misuse his power. This belief is akin to the belief that, as Jews suffered so much at the hands of Hitler, Israel would be fair to the Palestinians.

Glenn Greenwald writes that “the most extremist power any political leader can assert is the power to target his own citizens for execution without any charges or due process, far from any battlefield. The Obama administration has not only asserted exactly that power in theory, but has exercised it in practice.”

This is the power of a dictator. That Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi were said to have this power was part of their demonization as “brutal dictators,” a justification for overthrowing their governments and murdering the dictators and their supporters.

Ironic, isn’t it, that the president of the United States now murders his political opponents just as Saddam Hussein murdered his. How long before critics move from the no-fly list to the extermination list?

NAM summit: Towards breaking West’s power monopoly

by Ismail Salami, source

Despite the West’s deliberate inattention to and willful disregard for Non-Aligned Movement Summit in Tehran, there is no denying the fact that the summit has occasioned extreme chagrin in Washington and Israel and that dialogue among civilizations in achieving global peace is still a powerful feasibility.

Just a day prior to the inauguration of the NAM summit, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his typical cynicism and slammed the attendance of high-profile representatives from more than 120 countries at the summit, saying it was “a stain on humanity.” The cause of Netanyahu’s desperate anger is however quite perceptible.

The 16th NAM Summit which was officially wrapped up in Tehran on Friday concluded a resolution including over 700 clauses. The final resolution which was read out by Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad expressed support for Iran’s nuclear energy program, rejected the US unilateral sanctions against the Islamic Republic, and called for greater efforts to champion the Palestinian cause and stop racial discrimination across the world.

The NAM summit addressed a number of thorny issues which the West misrepresents such as Iran’s nuclear energy program or underrates such as the Palestinian issue and the unauthorized US drone attacks which have so far claimed the lives of many civilians in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen.

As an opportunity for the attendees to voice their grievances which have already gripped their nations by the neck, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar expressed her country’s concern over the illegal drone attacks in Pakistan and urged Washington to immediately put an end to their killing machine in Pakistan.

“You see Pakistan’s position is clear today and has been clear in the past. Our position is that this is something which is counter-productive. It is unlawful. It is illegal, and therefore they must cease. This is what the parliament of Pakistan has clearly said,” Rabbani Khar said on Wednesday.

However, central to the summit was a pithy speech delivered by Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution in which he clearly reiterated the official stance of the Islamic Republic on some key issues including nuclear weapons and clarified that Iran has never sought to produce nuclear weapons, will never tread on such a horrendous path and that the pursuance, use and production of such weapons is an unforgivable sin. His deep analysis of Washington’s paradoxical policy deserves due attention. Pointing to “a bitter irony of our era”, Ayatollah Khamenei reinforced the fact that the US government “possesses the largest and deadliest stockpiles of nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction and the only country guilty of its use, is today eager to carry the banner of opposition to nuclear proliferation” and that the same regime has armed the usurping Zionist regime with nuclear weapons and created a major threat for this sensitive region.”

In fact, Washington and Tel Aviv are playing in the hands of the devil in their efforts to divide nations and colonize their countries by creating ‘global enemies’ and ruthlessly mobilizing others against them.

In this regard, the NAM Summit can play a vital role in diverting the destructive role of the US government and other bullying powers in pushing ahead with their globalist agendas to a constructive role under the aegis of the NAM members. In countering the effects of a summit of such substantial significance, western media blacked out on truth and refrained from reporting the facts which in one way or another showed their hidden agenda. The media blackout in the West concerning the Summit in Tehran is well tantamount to the blackout of truth and faith, a morbid sign which clearly indicates why global efforts in achieving peace and harmony are eventually pushed into the abyss of failure. In order to shatter the stranglehold of media mafia, head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) Ezzatollah Zarghami has suggested the Non-Aligned Movement set up an alternative media bloc. Such an initiative is indeed commendable and is to be considered an efficacious means to counterbalance the media blind bias.

With full conviction, one can sadly say that there are sabotaging hands at work to thwart efforts in striving for global peace in the light of a united leadership. What actually should top the NAM summit in future is to formulate an effective approach in resolving global crisis and struggle to attain an international consensus to reduce Washington’s political influence and self-acclaimed dictatorial leadership. It is time the US stopped playing the guru, and thinking and making decisions for other countries. As a first step, the NAM member states should make efforts to liberate the UN Security Council from its servile captivity to the US and its allies.

A new world order is taking shape. In this new world order, imperialism starts to vanish and the idea of mounting military expeditions under the banner of combating terrorism or dictating western democracy soon evaporates. This idea may be a far cry from the reality but it is not an impossibility. It can be turned into a reality thanks to the power issuing from the collective efforts of all nations. This is exactly what the US-led West fears most and what the world needs most: a united nations will to fly in the face of the wrong and second the right.

US writing new Syrian constitution – “Tutoring” the SNC for Syria take over

by Tony Cartalucci, source

The US State Department, via the “US Institute of Peace” is working directly with Syrian “opposition” groups to formulate a “government” to put into place, if and when NATO covert military operations succeed in collapsing the Syrian state.

The report written by Foreign Policy magazine titled, “Inside the quiet effort to plan for a post-Assad Syria,” indicates that the US State Department-funded USIP plans on releasing a report soon, detailing the US-crafted government being planned. The USIP, which already publishes details of how it has crafted, created, and is continuing to manage and facilitate the NATO-installed client regime now running Libya, constitutes nothing less than implementation of modern-day imperialism.

The USIP claims that it is involved in not only “advising” the Western-backed Libyan government, but that it is also involved in, “constitution making, transitional justice, women rights” and “education.” The USIP, US government-funded, will also be writing Syria’s “constitution” as well – which they are now calling a “transition strategy document.”

Foreign Policy magazine, in an attempt to water down the implications of the US government literally crafting the client regime they plan on placing into the vacuum their US-Israeli-Saudi-Qatari mercenaries (FSA) are attempting to create, by claiming:

The absence of Obama administration officials at these meetings, even as observers, was deliberate.

“This is a situation where too visible a U.S. role would have been deeply counterproductive. It would have given the Assad regime and elements of the opposition an excuse to delegitimize the process,” [Steven] Heydemann said.Steven Heydemann is heading the USIP Syrian project.

Unfortunately for this line of thinking, the USIP is in fact a direct functionary of the US government, and more specifically the US State Department, with acting members of the US State Department, including Michael Posner and members of the US Department of Defense, including James Miller, serving on the USIP board of directors. Other compromising BoD members include Amnesty International chairmen and policy makers drawn from Fortune 500-funded think tanks like the Hoover Institution and big-oil’s Belfer Center.

To complicate matters further for the so-called “Syrian opposition,” prominent members of the movement, including Radwan Ziadeh, is actually a “senior fellow” of the US-funded institution – meaning the opposition leaders were drawn from US institutions, not Syria. The Guardian’s article, “The Syrian opposition: who’s doing the talking?” has covered this in depth, illustrating that Ziadeh’s background is the rule, not the exception.

Readers should recall that US State Department’s Michael Posner, also serving on the USIP BoD, conceded in an AFP report in 2011 that the US had been funding, equipping, and training “activists” from across the Arab World 2 years in advance for the allegedly “spontaneous” “Arab Spring.” These included activists from Syria who created the rhetorical predication for the violence now unfolding across Syria.

This admission by the US State Department and the head of USIP’s Syrian project indicates the absolute illegitimacy of the so-called “Syrian opposition,” – a complete contrivance of the US government, a manifestation of its foreign policy toward Syria – and in no way representative of the Syrian people. The opposition is literally directed by the US government who is forming for them a government to replace the one they are purposefully destroying through a series of mutually supported economic sanctions, military attacks, and diplomatic undermining.

The World War on Democracy

by John Pilger, source

Lisette Talate died the other day. I remember a wiry, fiercely intelligent woman who masked her grief with a determination that was a presence. She was the embodiment of people’s resistance to the war on democracy. I first glimpsed her in a 1950s Colonial Office film about the Chagos islanders, a tiny creole nation living midway between Africa and Asia in the Indian Ocean. The camera panned across thriving villages, a church, a school, a hospital, set in a phenomenon of natural beauty and peace. Lisette remembers the producer saying to her and her teenage friends, “Keep smiling girls!”

Sitting in her kitchen in Mauritius many years later, she said, “I didn’t have to be told to smile. I was a happy child, because my roots were deep in the islands, my paradise. My great-grandmother was born there; I made six children there. That’s why they couldn’t legally throw us out of our own homes; they had to terrify us into leaving or force us out. At first, they tried to starve us. The food ships stopped arriving [then] they spread rumors we would be bombed, then they turned on our dogs.”

In the early 1960s, the Labor government of Harold Wilson secretly agreed to a demand from Washington that the Chagos archipelago, a British colony, be “swept” and “sanitized” of its 2,500 inhabitants so that a military base could be built on the principal island, Diego Garcia. “They knew we were inseparable from our pets,” said Lisette, “When the American soldiers arrived to build the base, they backed their big trucks against the brick shed where we prepared the coconuts; hundreds of our dogs had been rounded up and imprisoned there. Then they gassed them through tubes from the trucks’ exhausts. You could hear them crying.”

Lisette and her family and hundreds of islanders were forced on to a rusting steamer bound for Mauritius, a distance of 2,500 miles. They were made to sleep in the hold on a cargo of fertilizer: bird shit. The weather was rough; everyone was ill; two women miscarried. Dumped on the docks at Port Louis, Lisette’s youngest children, Jollice, and Regis, died within a week of each other. “They died of sadness,” she said. “They had heard all the talk and seen the horror of what had happened to the dogs. They knew they were leaving their home forever. The doctor in Mauritius said he could not treat sadness.”

This act of mass kidnapping was carried out in high secrecy. In one official file, under the heading, “Maintaining the fiction,” the Foreign Office legal adviser exhorts his colleagues to cover their actions by “re-classifying” the population as “floating” and to “make up the rules as we go along.” Article 7 of the statute of the International Criminal Court says the “deportation or forcible transfer of population” is a crime against humanity. That Britain had committed such a crime — in exchange for a $14 million discount off an American Polaris nuclear submarine — was not on the agenda of a group of British “defense” correspondents flown to the Chagos by the Ministry of Defense when the US base was completed. “There is nothing in our files,” said a ministry official, “about inhabitants or an evacuation.”

Today, Diego Garcia is crucial to America’s and Britain’s war on democracy. The heaviest bombing of Iraq and Afghanistan was launched from its vast airstrips, beyond which the islanders’ abandoned cemetery and church stand like archaeological ruins. The terraced garden where Lisette laughed for the camera is now a fortress housing the “bunker-busting” bombs carried by bat-shaped B-2 aircraft to targets in two continents; an attack on Iran will start here. As if to complete the emblem of rampant, criminal power, the CIA added a Guantánamo-style prison for its “rendition” victims and called it Camp Justice.

What was done to Lisette’s paradise has an urgent and universal meaning, for it represents the violent, ruthless nature of a whole system behind its democratic façade, and the scale of our own indoctrination to its messianic assumptions, described by Harold Pinter as a “brilliant, even witty, highly successful act of hypnosis.” Longer and bloodier than any war since 1945, waged with demonic weapons and a gangsterism dressed as economic policy and sometimes known as globalization, the war on democracy is unmentionable in western elite circles. As Pinter wrote, “it never happened even while it was happening.” Last July, American historian William Blum published his “updated summary of the record of US foreign policy.” Since the Second World War, the US has:

1.Attempted to overthrow more than 50 governments, most of them democratically-elected.
2.Attempted to suppress a populist or national movement in 20 countries.
3.Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries.
4.Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries.
5.Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.
In total, the United States has carried out one or more of these actions in 69 countries. In almost all cases, Britain has been a collaborator. The “enemy” changes in name – from communism to Islamism — but mostly it is the rise of democracy independent of western power or a society occupying strategically useful territory, deemed expendable, like the Chagos Islands.

The sheer scale of suffering, let alone criminality, is little known in the west, despite the presence of the world’s most advanced communications, nominally freest journalism, and most admired academy. That the most numerous victims of terrorism – western terrorism – are Muslims is unsayable, if it is known. That half a million Iraqi infants died in the 1990s as a result of the embargo imposed by Britain and America is of no interest. That extreme jihadism, which led to 9/11, was nurtured as a weapon of western policy (“Operation Cyclone”) is known to specialists but otherwise suppressed.

While popular culture in Britain and America immerses the Second World War in an ethical bath for the victors, the holocausts arising from Anglo-American dominance of resource-rich regions are consigned to oblivion. Under the Indonesian tyrant Suharto, anointed “our man” by Thatcher, more than a million people were slaughtered. Described by the CIA as “the worst mass murder of the second half of the 20th century,” the estimate does not include a third of the population of East Timor who were starved or murdered with western connivance, British fighter-bombers, and machine guns.

These true stories are told in declassified files in the Public Record Office, yet represent an entire dimension of politics and the exercise of power excluded from public consideration. This has been achieved by a regime of un-coercive information control, from the evangelical mantra of consumer advertising to sound-bites on BBC news and now the ephemera of social media.

It is as if writers as watchdogs are extinct, or in thrall to a sociopathic zeitgeist, convinced they are too clever to be duped. Witness the stampede of sycophants eager to deify Christopher Hitchens, a war lover who longed to be allowed to justify the crimes of rapacious power. “For almost the first time in two centuries,” wrote Terry Eagleton, “there is no eminent British poet, playwright, or novelist prepared to question the foundations of the western way of life.” No Orwell warns that we do not need to live in a totalitarian society to be corrupted by totalitarianism. No Shelley speaks for the poor, no Blake proffers a vision, no Wilde reminds us that “disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue.” And grievously no Pinter rages at the war machine, as in American Football:

Hallelujah.

Praise the Lord for all good things …

We blew their b**** into shards of dust,

Into shards of f***** dust …

Into shards of f***** dust go all the lives blown there by Barack Obama, the Hopey Changey of western violence. Whenever one of Obama’s drones wipes out an entire family in a faraway tribal region of Pakistan, or Somalia, or Yemen, the American controllers in front of their computer-game screens type in “Bugsplat.” Obama likes drones and has joked about them with journalists. One of his first actions as president was to order a wave of Predator drone attacks on Pakistan that killed 74 people. He has since killed thousands, mostly civilians; drones fire Hellfire missiles that suck the air out of the lungs of children and leave body parts festooned across scrubland.

Remember the tear-stained headlines when Brand Obama was elected: “momentous, spine-tingling”: the Guardian. “The American future,” wrote Simon Schama, “is all vision, numinous, unformed, light-headed …” The San Francisco Chronicle‘s columnist saw a spiritual “lightworker [who can] usher in a new way of being on the planet.” Beyond the drivel, as the great whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg had predicted, a military coup was taking place in Washington, and Obama was their man. Having seduced the antiwar movement into virtual silence, he has given America’s corrupt military officer class unprecedented powers of state and engagement. These include the prospect of wars in Africa and opportunities for provocations against China, America’s largest creditor and new “enemy” in Asia. Under Obama, the old source of official paranoia Russia, has been encircled with ballistic missiles and the Russian opposition infiltrated. Military and CIA assassination teams have been assigned to 120 countries; long planned attacks on Syria and Iran beckon a world war. Israel, the exemplar of US violence and lawlessness by proxy, has just received its annual pocket money of $3bn together with Obama’s permission to steal more Palestinian land.

Obama’s most “historic” achievement is to bring the war on democracy home to America. On New Year’s Eve, he signed the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a law that grants the Pentagon the legal right to kidnap both foreigners and US citizens and indefinitely detain, interrogate and torture, or even kill them. They need only “associate” with those “belligerent” to the United States. There will be no protection of law, no trial, no legal representation. This is the first explicit legislation to abolish habeas corpus (the right to due process of law) and effectively repeal the Bill of Rights of 1789.

On 5 January, in an extraordinary speech at the Pentagon, Obama said the military would not only be ready to “secure territory and populations” overseas but to fight in the “homeland” and provide “support to the civil authorities.” In other words, US troops will be deployed on the streets of American cities when the inevitable civil unrest takes hold.

America is now a land of epidemic poverty and barbaric prisons: the consequence of a “market” extremism which, under Obama, has prompted the transfer of $14 trillion in public money to criminal enterprises in Wall Street. The victims are mostly young jobless, homeless, incarcerated African-Americans, betrayed by the first black president. The historic corollary of a perpetual war state, this is not fascism, not yet, but neither is it democracy in any recognizable form, regardless of the placebo politics that will consume the news until November. The presidential campaign, says the Washington Post, will “feature a clash of philosophies rooted in distinctly different views of the economy.” This is patently false. The circumscribed task of journalism on both sides of the Atlantic is to create the pretence of political choice where there is none.

The same shadow is across Britain and much of Europe where social democracy, an article of faith two generations ago, has fallen to the central bank dictators. In David Cameron’s “big society,” the theft of 84bn pounds in jobs and services even exceeds the amount of tax “legally” avoided by piratical corporations. Blame rests not with the far right, but a cowardly liberal political culture that has allowed this to happen, which, wrote Hywel Williams in the wake of the attacks on 9/11, “can itself be a form of self righteous fanaticism.” Tony Blair is one such fanatic. In its managerial indifference to the freedoms that it claims to hold dear, bourgeois Blairite Britain has created a surveillance state with 3,000 new criminal offences and laws: more than for the whole of the previous century. The police clearly believe they have an impunity to kill. At the demand of the CIA, cases like that of Binyam Mohamed, an innocent British resident tortured and then held for five years in Guantanamo Bay, will be dealt with in secret courts in Britain “in order to protect the intelligence agencies” – the torturers.

This invisible state allowed the Blair government to fight the Chagos islanders as they rose from their despair in exile and demanded justice in the streets of Port Louis and London. “Only when you take direct action, face to face, even break laws, are you ever noticed,” said Lisette. “And the smaller you are, the greater your example to others.” Such an eloquent answer to those who still ask, “What can I do?”

I last saw Lisette’s tiny figure standing in driving rain alongside her comrades outside the Houses of Parliament. What struck me was the enduring courage of their resistance. It is this refusal to give up that rotten power fears, above all, knowing it is the seed beneath the snow.

Obama’s new military strategy

by Dave Brown

by Stephen Lendman

Obama’s January 5 Pentagon news conference reeked of duplicity like all his pronouncements. Surrounded by Joint Chiefs of Staff, hawkishness took center stage.

Stressing a leaner, more agile/flexible military, he said counterterrorism, intelligence and cyberwarfare will be emphasized without sacrificing America’s superiority against global enemies.

So will subversion, destabilization, drone killings, other targeted assassinations, global state terrorism, and permanent war.

In other words, new and old tactics are featured. Strategies are unchanged. So are imperial aims. Permanent war remains policy. Merciless high-tech killing and destruction will be featured. Ravaging the world one country at a time is planned.

So is expanding the Bush Doctrine. Preemptive global wars define it. Addressing West Point cadets in June 2003, Dick Cheney said:

“If there is anyone in the world today who doubts the seriousness of the Bush Doctrine, I would urge that person to consider the fate of the Taliban in Afghanistan, and of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq.”

Bush was more succinct, saying “You’re either with us or against us.” Neutrality’s not an option. Neither are equity, justice, rule of law principles, democratic values and peace.

Supporters thought Obama was different. In fact, he exceeds the worst of Bush at home and abroad. He arrogated to America the right to confront independent regimes belligerently, replace them with client ones, and target homeland dissenters relentlessly.

In 2006, Bush’s National Security Strategy reaffirmed America’s preemptive right to counter alleged threats. Initially unveiled in September 2002, it asserted his “preemptive war” doctrine.

At the time, it justified war on Iraq. It said America doesn’t “rule out the use of force before attacks occur, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack.”

“To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively in exercising our inherent right of self-defense.”

Unaddressed was inviolable international and US law. They require clear evidence of impending or planned attacks. Short of either, waring preemptively or otherwise against nonbelligerent states is illegal.

Bush attacked Afghanistan and Iraq. Obama’s waging global wars overtly and covertly, including at home.

Abroad, Syria and Iran are prime targets. Bush’s 2006 National Security Strategy highlighted Iran, saying:

Its “regime sponsors terrorism; threatens Israel, seeks to thwart Middle East peace; disrupts democracy in Iraq; and denies the aspirations of its people for freedom.”

“The nuclear issue and our other concerns can ultimately be resolved only if the Iranian regime makes the strategic decision to change these policies, open up its political system, and afford freedom to its people. This is the ultimate goal of US policy.”

In fact, at issue is regime change, controlling Iranian oil and gas, redrawing the Middle East, and pursuing regional hegemony to China and Russia’s borders. Bush addressed “wars of the 21st century.”

They continue under Obama. Tactics include creating an arc of instability, chaos and violence throughout the region to justify US intervention.

Addressing the 18th Direct Democracy conference in Feldkirch, Austria, Law Professor Francis Boyle warned against attacking Iran, especially with nuclear weapons.

America already committed “acts of aggression against Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, (and Libya) and has authorized armed, equipped, and supplied Israel (with destructive weapons and munitions) to commit outright genocide against Lebanon and Palestine.”

Preemptive war is illegal. So is preventive war. Bush Doctrine policies featured them. They’ve “yet to be officially repealed by Obama….”

Nazi lawyers claimed these prerogatives at Nuremberg. They were rejected. Article 2 of the UN Charter requires settling international disputes peacefully, saying:

“All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”

Only legitimate self-defense is permitted. America’s wars don’t qualify. According to Boyle, they constitute “international criminal activity (for) planning, prepar(ing), solicit(ing), and conspiracy to commit Nuremberg crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and genocide.”

In addition, “the design, research, testing, production, manufacture, fabrication, transportation, deployment, installation, storing, stockpil(ing), sale, and purchase and the threat to use nuclear weapons are criminal under well-recognized principles of international law.”

Boyle stressed the urgent actions, saying:

Otherwise, “Obama and his people could very well set off a Third World War over Iran that has been already threatened publicly by Bush Jr.”

He also accused NATO states “go(ing) along with US policies” of complicity with US crimes.

The New York Times: Cheerleading US Belligerence

On January 5, a New York Times editorial headlined, “A Leaner Pentagon,” saying:

Obama’s new defense strategy reflects “a generally pragmatic vision of how this country will organize and deploy its military in the 21st century. (It features) smarter and more restrained….use of force.”

It means fewer ground troops, but “doesn’t minimize the fact that the world is a very dangerous place and says the country must still be ready to fight a major land war….”

“It argues, persuasively (for greater use of) air power, intelligence, special operations or innovative technologies like drones.”

Fact check

Rule of law issues weren’t mentioned. Nor was America’s responsibility for heightening world dangers. Obama’s “pragmatic vision” is Timesspeak for illegal mass high-tech killing and destruction.

Obama wants more emphasis on “contain(ing) an increasingly assertive Iran, and in Asia, to moderate and counterbalance China’s ambitions.”

Fact check

Unlike America, Iran hasn’t attacked another country in over 200 years and threatens none now. Neither does China. International law affirms the principle of sovereignty and self-determination.

All nations may freely choose their political systems. Others are prohibited from interfering in their internal affairs, whether democratic, authoritarian, or anything in between. America deems it a prerogative. Times editors are supportive.

“We understand the importance of sending a clear message that this country is not ceding anything to” Iran, China or any nation.

In other words, Times editors endorse strategically targeting any nation challenging US hegemony, including by preemptive war. Cheerleading all US wars, they ignore justification, rule of law, and other right and wrong issues.

A Final Comment

In November, Haaretz said Washington and Israel will hold their “largest” and “most significant” ever joint military exercise. Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro for Political-Military Affairs confirmed it.

Over 5,000 US and Israeli forces will be involved. Exercises will include “simulat(ing) Israel’s ballistic missile defense.” They’ll also feature “urban warfare and counterterrorism.”

Moreover, Israel will be granted expedited Congressional Notification to facilitate “faster trade of smaller, routine sales and purchases of arms….” In fact, whatever Israel wants, it gets.

In addition, Washington’s multi-billion dollar annual commitment to Israel will continue, despite “challenging budgetary times.”

US forces are being deployed to Israel for an indefinite period. Israeli military personnel will be assigned to EUCOM, America’s Stuttgart, Germany-based European command.

The Jerusalem Post said sophisticated US THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) and shipbased Aegis ballistic missile defense systems are involved.

They’ll work together with Israel’s Arrow, Patriot and Iron Dome. They’ll also further heighten tensions already too high. Targeting Iran is involved. Confrontation ahead seems likely, no matter the potentially catastrophic risks.

In addition, Syria is threatened. Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs Jeffrey Feltman’s in Cairo to pressure Arab League officials to report back what Washington wants to hear.

At issue is observer mission head General Mohammed Ahmed Mustafa al-Dabi. Instead of reporting regime violence, he said conditions are reassuring as Assad’s government is cooperating.

Washington wants a far different assessment to justify greater intervention. White House spokesman Jay Carney said “as sniper fire, torture, and murder in Syria continue, it is clear that the requirements of the Arab League protocol have not been met.”

He wants the Security Council to act, but Russia and China will block outside intervention.

Syria’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdisi rightfully accused Washington of “gross interference in the work of the Arab League,” as well as attempting “unjustified internationalization of the situation in Syria.”

Iranian and Syrian regime change plans are longstanding. So far, only timing issues weren’t resolved. Perhaps 2012 will prove decisive.

Since last winter, externally generated insurgents ravaged and destabilized Syria violently. So-called Free Syria Army (FSA) extremists and other militants are Western proxy paramilitaries. Expect them to be involved in stepped up ground attacks ahead.

According to FSA commander Colonel Riad al-Assad, “We are preparing for big operations and have no faith in Arab League monitors or their useless mission.”

In contrast, moderate opposition figures oppose outside intervention. They want Syria’s sovereignty respected.

Washington, Israel, key NATO allies, and anti-Assad regional states have other ideas, and that’s the key problem.

American withdrawal coverage in the US press: Lessons unlearned

by Steve Bell

by Ben Schreiner, Al Akhbar

On December 19, the last remaining US military convoy in Iraq crossed the border into Kuwait, effectively ending America’s nine-year long war and occupation. (Of course, the US will continue to maintain a heavy presence in the country via its massive embassy).

With the war’s close, a multitude of retrospectives on the combat appeared in the US press. As one Associated Press story began, “In the beginning, it all looked simple: topple Saddam Hussein, destroy his purported weapons of mass destruction and lay the foundation for a pro-Western government in the heart of the Arab world.”

Needless to say, the very reason a war of preemptive aggression once seemed so “simple” was due to the jingoistic propaganda readily churned out by the US press in the run up to the 2003 invasion.

So, then, after witnessing nearly a decade of conflict, has the American press finally come to display a sense of measured humility regarding the sheer carnage the war has wrought? Well, no. Perhaps, though, it is fitting that a war launched with the help of a press eagerly disseminating false pretexts, now ends with the very same press keenly penning revisionist assessments.

Typical of the sorts of appraisals coming from the American press on the Iraq War and its costs is a December 15 New York Times editorial. As the US “newspaper of record” editorialized, “It is a relief that the American role in the misguided Iraq war is finally over…We mourn the nearly 4,500 American troops and tens of thousands of Iraqis who lost their lives.”

For starters, let us notice the use of the word “misguided.” Instead of labeling the Iraq War for what it clearly was – an act of international aggression, in other words, a war crime – it is instead portrayed as merely a tactical mistake. The refrain, however, is by no means limited to The New York Times. For example, The Los Angeles Times reflected that the war was a “miscalculation,” CNN stated that it was “contentious,” The Wall Street Journal labeled the conflict as “.divisive,” and the PBS Newshour lamented that it was “not worth the costs.”

The war itself, we see, is never portrayed as an immoral and criminal act, but rather a strategic blunder arguably hampering US national interests. As The Los Angeles Times editorial board wrote, “We join Obama in hoping that the aftermath of the American presence will be a free, democratic and pluralist Iraq, and one that doesn’t ally itself with Iran.” (Here we also see the true meaning of Iraqi “freedom” and “democracy” to be fealty to the US and its strategic aims.)

And this, in the end, is the narrow spectrum from which the tepid and quite belated measure of dissent from the US press on the Iraq War arises. Imperial ends are not to be questioned – only the imperial means.

A second commonality in the US media assessment of the Iraq War has been to address the costs solely incurred by the US. All US press reports on the end of the war readily cite the nearly 5,000 American combat deaths, in addition to often citing the nearly 30,000 American soldiers who have been injured. The majority of stories also typically reference the heavy financial toll of the war, which, no doubt, is certainly quite staggering (perhaps over $3 trillion).

Yet, the effect of this almost exclusive fixation on the US costs is rather perverse.
For as important as such costs are for the US public to understand, such an
obsession functions to transform the war’s aggressor into its victim. The “liberators,” as Vice President Dick Cheney liked to dress the invading US Army as, in effect become the victims of the ungratefully “liberated.” Thus the war’s true “sacrifices,” as one CNN op-ed noted, actually came not so much from Iraqis, but from Americans who selflessly sacrificed for the cause of Iraqi freedom.

Ulterior and more cynical motives for a country making such substantial national “sacrifices” are never entertained. As President Obama stated in remarks signifying the end of the war, “Unlike the old empires, we don’t make these sacrifices for territory or for resources. We do it because it’s right.” America, we learn, is a benign empire practicing a benign form of imperialism. So benign, in fact, that it endures the hardships of war merely because it is “right.”

Lost, of course, amidst the tallying of American costs and the boasts of American Exceptionalism, are the costs imposed by the benevolent empire on the Iraqi people. But when the US press is not busy suppressing the overall costs endured by the Iraqi people, it is busy grossly underestimate Iraqi casualties.

The standard figure cited in the American press for Iraqi fatalities is the 104,122 – 113,700 range provided by the Iraq Body Count (IBC) – although as we have seen, the New York Times editorial board puts the figure in the tens of thousands. As ghastly as 100,000, or even 10,000, civilian casualties are, they pale in comparison to the true magnitude of the bloodshed.

The commonly cited IBC figures provide a rather incomplete assessment of Iraqi casualties. This is because the IBC relies primarily on “crosschecked media reports of violent events leading to the death of civilians.” The problem of media based sourcing was illustrated in a University of California-Berkley study surveying the deaths in Guatemala from 1960 to 1996.

The study, as David Edwards and David Cromwell write in their book Newspeak, “found that numbers of murders reported by the media in fact decreased as violence increased.” The explanation for such an apparent abnormality is rather straightforward. For journalists are not immune from violence. And thus as violence increases, the ability to freely move about and accurately report within the combat zone lessens, leading to decreased reports of fatalities.

Therefore, the much more accurate Iraqi casualty figure comes not from an analysis of media reports, but from the independent non-partisan organization Just Foreign Policy, which incorporates a 2006 peer reviewed Iraq morality study published in the medical journal Lancet. The Lancet study found “654,965 excess Iraqi deaths as a consequence of the war” from the start of the invasion to July 2006. Updating these figures, Just Foreign Policy today estimates the Iraq War casualty figure to presently stand at a sobering toll of 1,455,590 – ten times the magnitude of the IBC figure.

For context-if such a number can truly be put in context-this surpasses the number killed in 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Unsurprisingly, this more comprehensive assessment of Iraq War casualties has rarely seen the light of day in the US press and has continued to be suppressed in the recent bout of reflections on the cost of the war.

And so then after nine years of bloodshed, largely cheered on by a war hungry US press, the conclusion of the American media as the war draws to an end is that it was all indeed a rather costly mistake. But the mistake, we are told, was not one of criminality – as any reasoned assessment of the war would inevitably conclude – but rather more strategic in nature. For in what former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright deemed the “lone indispensable nation,” aggression is always a justified posture.

This, in fact, is something not only shown in the media reflections on the Iraq War, but also seen in the escalating rhetoric Washington currently levies against Iran. Hence, until the American people come to fully understand the unvarnished truth of their state’s crimes, until the American press comes to fully interrogate such crimes like any functioning free press would, we can only expect American imperial adventures to continue apace. We can only expect future revisionist media assessments of future imperial wars.

“Why do they hate us?”

by DAVE LINDORFF, source

Even as President Obama and War Secretary Leon Panetta announce the “end” of the Iraq War, a US “covert war” against Iran, as the National Journal put it in a December 4 article, has already begun.

This secret war–at least secret from the American people–is being conducted in part directly by the US, as evidenced by the advanced American RQ-170 Sentinel stealth surveillance drone just recently downed–apparently by sophisticated electronic countermeasures that allowed the taking control of, and landing of the vehicle–by Iran. Also conducted in part of proxies, including the Iranian anti-government terrorist organization MEK (for Mujahideen-e Khalq), and of course Israel’s Mossad, this dirty covert war has led to an escalating string of acts of terror inside Iran, including a campaign of assassination against Iranian nuclear scientists, and bombings of Iranian military installations.

Not content to simply engage in such illegal hostilities against a sovereign nation that has not threatened the U.S., and that in fact has not invaded another country in some 200 years, President Obama had the effrontery to demand that the Iranians return the spy drone that they had captured!

Imagine for a moment if an Iranian, or some other nation’s, robot spy plane had been captured or shot down over U.S. territory. Imagine the official response if the nation that owned that plane were to demand its return! First of all, Congressmembers, probably almost unanimously, would be clamoring for the US to launch an attack on whatever company launched the spy plane. But the reaction to a demand to return such a device would be truly explosive! The audacity!

Actually, you don’t need to imagine. Look at the right-wing media and the official US government response to the arrest of two men in New York accused of the hard-to-believe conspiracy of planning, allegedly at the direction of Iranian
government sources, to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States. Forget about proving that this far-fetched alleged plot was real at all, and not just another creation of some FBI informant/provocateur, or whether Iran was really behind it even if it was. There were open calls for bombing Iran immediately!

President Obama, meanwhile, keeps saying that “all options are on the table” for dealing with what the US government alleges is an Iranian campaign to develop nuclear weapons — itself a very dubious claim. And to back up that threat, the US has actually delivered huge non-nuclear “bunker busting” bombs to Israel, a country which has openly been discussing plans to attack Iran.

These are all war crimes under the UN charter and actual acts of war.

But that’s just Iran.

The US is already at war with Pakistan, too, this country’s nominal ally in the war against Afghanistan’s Taliban. Two weeks ago, American planes, ground forces and helicopters attacked two Pakistani border posts, killing several dozen Pakistani troops. There is considerable evidence that these attacks were deliberate, though the US is claiming lamely that its forces had “incorrect coordinates” that led to the fatal attacks.

Sure.

These days the US doesn’t just rely on Garman GPS devices for its attacks. It sends in drones with high-rez cameras and knows exactly what and who it is killing before it pulls the trigger.

Meanwhile, we’ve been killing people in Yemen for years with planes sent from offshore aircraft carriers, and using missile-firing Predator drones.

In Latin America, American military “trainers” are fighting a war against leftist forces in Columbia, the CIA is supporting opposition groups seeking to oust the elected governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and other countries, and the US Justice Department is shipping weapons into drug-war-torn Mexico and helping to launder Mexican drug money back in the US.

There are credible charges that the US has also been supporting the latest protests against the Vladimir Putin government in Russia (even as our own Homeland Security and “Justice” Departments coordinate violent police crackdowns on the Occupy protests here at home against our own government’s craven support of the corrupt banks that have been wrecking the US and global economies).

And we Americans wonder: “Why do they hate us?”

If real people around the world weren’t dying from all this criminal US behavior, and if real people here in America weren’t suffering because of all the trillions of dollars being wasted over the years on military spending, spying, covert destabilization campaigns and overt war-making, it would all be laughable.

But real people are dying and are suffering and there is nothing to laugh about.

Someday there will come a reckoning for the US, as there came a reckoning for Rome, for the British Empire, for the German Reich and for the USSR. A hollowed-out country like the this one, which is under-funding education, health care, infrastructure investment, research, and environmental protection, while its governing class steadily disenfranchises, disempowers, and impoverishes the public while systematically taking away their right to protest, is ultimately doomed.

It’s just a question of time, and of course a matter of how it happens.

If we’re lucky, the dramatic awakening that began with the Occupy Movement in September will continue to spread and grow until an enraged public rises up en masse and evicts the entire corrupt gang from Washington, replacing them with genuine representatives of the people and a new commitment to true democratic governance.

If we’re not so lucky, this nation is likely to slide into global irrelevance — a backward relic of faded glory, a place where Chinese, Brazilian and European firms will invest to take advantage of our cheap, uneducated labor to produce goods to sell back in their own countries. Such an economic slide would of course not occur without violent conflicts and struggles over ever diminishing wealth and resources.

By then off course, if our government continues on its present course of militarily meddling in other nations, the US will be almost universally loathed and, in stead of being manipulated into fears of nonexistent threats to our “safety,” we Americans will finally have reason to genuinely fear the actions of other, more powerful, nations, which will find the temptation to compete in meddling in the affairs of what remains of the United States irresistible.

Why They Hate Us in Iraq

Reading the New York Times, an American might have been excused for wondering why Iraqis, and especially the people of Fallujah, would be so happy to see American occupying troops leaving the country at the end of this month and of nine years of war against their country that they were actually celebrating.

The Times made it sound as though Fallujah deserved what happened to it. As the article published Dec. 15 notes dryly, American forces in 2004 twice attacked this largest city in Anbar Province to “pacify” it (there’s a political euphemism for you!) after insurgents there in March of 2004 captured four US “contractors” driving through the city, burned their bodies, and strung them up on a bridge over the Euphrates River.

First of all, let’s also dispense with the euphemistic term “contractors,” which is meant to bring to mind the image of a couple of overweight construction workers. In Iraq, and especially in lawless areas like Anbar at that time, “contractor” means “mercenary,” and we now know that mercenaries in Iraq (and in Afghanistan) were and are a lawless, bloodthirsty, group of former US military personnel and vicious thugs from various foreign fascist states like Argentina, Chile, Guatemala, apartheid South Africa and elsewhere, who have killed countless numbers of civilians in Iraq and elsewhere, operating outside of any government monitoring or legal constraints for “security firms” like Blackwater (now Xe) and DynCorp.

What actually happened in Fallujah though, was that because of Pentagon and US media-stoked domestic public outrage at the treatment of the four captured mercenaries, 20,000 US Marines were sent in to the city to level it and to slaughter its male inhabitants in an example of the kind of massive war crime tactic once popular with the Nazi Wehrmacht in World War II, where it was known as “collective punishment.” The Nazis used to burn down villages, particularly in Eastern Europe and the USSR, if even one shot was fired at them. But taking things much further in Iraq, US forces encircled Fallujah, a city of 300,000, in November, 2004, and ordered all non-combatants out of the area. Women and children were allowed to leave through checkpoints, but no males of “combat age”–which was illegally set, according to reports, at the age of 11, or by some accounts, at 14. In either case, the whole thing was criminal. Under Geneva Conventions signed by the US, first of all all civilians are required to be granted free passage to escape from any field of battle or impending battle, and secondly, under those same Conventions, all children under the age of 18 are to be protected from war, not considered combatants. Even those who are found armed or captured while fighting are to be treated not as combatants, but as victims.
Instead of obeying the laws of war (which once approved by the Senate have the force of law under the US Constitution), US forces trapped all males in the city, including old men and young boys, and then went in with assault rifles, cannons, ground attack planes, helicopter and fixed-wing gunships, and with illegal weapons and weapons that cause mass deaths such as white phosphorus bombs, napalm, anti-personnel shells and depleted uranium shells. US forces basically killed everything that moved in numbers ranging upward of 6000 (In contrast the UN is expressing horror that the government in Syria has killed 5000 people in its crackdown on a democracy movement there). There were accounts of people being shot in the river as they tried to swim away from the city, of hospitals being raided and ambulances bombed, and there were even videos of seriously wounded and unarmed Iraqi fighters being coldly executed by Marines. What was done to Fallujah was as vile, evil and criminal a campaign of retribution and vengeance, exercised against enemy fighters and trapped civilians alike, as anything Hitler’s SS ever engaged in.

The Times article made no mention about any of this — an exercise in censorship and propaganda made all the more outrageous because the atrocity was well reported at the time it happened by the paper’s own excellent war reporter, Dexter Filkins.

Knowing what really happened, and what the US military really did in Fallujah, would make much more understandable to Americans why the end of US occupation of Iraq has been greeted with a “festival” atmosphere in the still recovering city of Fallujah.

DAVE LINDORFF is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, the new Project-Censored Award-winning independent online alternative newspaper.

Obama raises the military stakes: Confrontation on the Frontiers of China and Russia

by James Petras

After suffering major military and political defeats in bloody ground wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and failing to buttress long-standing clients in Yemen, Egypt and Tunisia and witnessing the disintegration of puppet regimes in Somalia and South Sudan, the Obama regime has learned nothing: instead he has turned toward greater military confrontation with global powers, namely Russia and China. Obama has adopted a provocative offensive military strategy on the very frontiers of both China and Russia.

After going from defeat to defeat on the periphery of world power and not satisfied with running treasury-busting deficits in pursuit of empire building against economically weak countries, Obama has embraced a policy of encirclement and provocations against China, the world’s second largest economy and the US’s most important creditor, and Russia the European Union’s principle oil and gas provider and the world’s second most powerful nuclear weapons power.

This paper addresses the Obama regime’s highly irrational and world threatening escalation of imperial militarism. We examine the global military, economic and domestic political context that gives rise to these policies. We then examine the multiple points of conflict and intervention in which Washington is engaged, from Pakistan, Iran, Libya, Venezuela, Cuba and beyond. We will then analyze the rationale for military escalation against Russia and China as part of a new ‘offensive moving beyond the Arab world (Syria, Libya) and in the face of the declining economic position of the EU and the US in the global economy. We will then outline the strategies of a declining empire nurtured on perpetual wars, facing global economic decline, domestic discredit and a working population facing long-term large scale rollback of basic social programs.

Turn from Militarism in the Periphery to Global Military Confrontation

November 2011 is a moment of great historical import. Obama declared two major policy positions, both having tremendous strategic consequences affecting competing world powers.

Obama pronounced a policy of military encirclement of China based on stationing a maritime, aerial armada facing the Chinese coast. A policy designed to weaken and disrupt China’s access to raw materials and commercial and financial ties in Asia. Obama’s declaration that Asia is the priority region for US military expansion, base building and economic alliances was directed against China, challenging Beijing in its own backyard. Obama’s iron fist policy statement, addressed to the Australian Parliament, was crystal clear in defining US imperial goals.

“Our enduring interests in the region [Asia Pacific] demands our enduring presence in this region … The United States is a Pacific power and we are here to stay … As we end today’s wars [the defeats and retreats from Iraq and Afghanistan]… I have directed my national security team to make our presence and missions in the Asia Pacific a top priority … As a result reduction in US defense spending will not … come at the expense of the Asia Pacific” (CNN.com, Nov. 16, 2011).

The precise nature of what Obama called our “presence and mission” was underlined by the military agreement with Australia to dispatch warships, warplanes and 2500 marines to the northern most city of Australia (Darwin) facing China. Secretary of State Clinton has spent the better part of 2011 making highly provocative overtures, to Asian countries that have maritime border conflicts with China. Clinton has forcibly injected the US into these disputes, encouraging and exacerbating the demands of Vietnam, Philippines, and Brunei in the South China Sea. Even more seriously Washington is bolstering its military ties and sales with Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea as well as increasing the presence of battleships, nuclear submarines and over flights of war planes along China’s coastal waters. In line with the policy of military encirclement and provocation, the Obama-Clinton regime is promoting Asian multi-lateral trade agreements that exclude China and privilege US multi-national corporations, bankers and exporters, dubbed the “Trans-Pacific partnership”.It currently includes mostly smaller countries, but Obama has hopes of enticing Japan and Canada to join …Obama’s presence at the APEC meeting of East Asian leader and his visit to Indonesia in November 2011 all revolve around efforts to secure US hegemony. Obama-Clinton hope to counter the relative decline of US economic links in the face of the geometrical growth of trade and investment ties between East Asia and China.

A most recent example of Obama-Clinton’s delusional but destructive efforts to deliberately disrupt China’s economic ties in Asia, is taking place in Burma. Clinton’s December 2011 visit to Burma was preceded by a decision by the Thein Sein regime to suspend a China Power Investment funded dam in the North of the country. According to official confidential documents released by WilkiLeaks the “Burmese ngo’s which organized and led the campaign against the dam were heavily funded by the US government”(Financial Times, Dec. 2, 2011, p. 2). This and other provocative activity and Clinton’s speeches condemning Chinese “tied aid” pale in comparison with the long-term large scale interests which link Burma with China. China is Burma’s biggest trading partner and investor, including six other dam projects. Its companies are carving new highways and rail lines across the country opening southwestern China up for Burmese products and China is building oil pipelines and ports. There is a powerful dynamic of mutual economic interests that will not be disturbed by one dispute (FT, December 2, 2011, p.2). Clinton’s critique of China’s billion dollar investments in Burma’s infrastructure is one of the most bizarre in world history, coming in the aftermath of Washington’s eight year military presence in Iraq which destroyed $500 billion dollars of infrastructures, according to Baghdad official estimates. Only a delusional administration could imagine that rhetorical flourishes, a three day visit and the bankrolling of an NGO is an adequate counter-weight to deep economic ties linking Burma to China. The same delusional posture underlies the entire repertoire of policies informing the Obama regimes’ efforts to displace China’s predominant role in Asia.

While each policy adopted by the Obama regime in themselves do no present an immediate threat to peace, the cumulative impact of all the policy pronouncements and the projections of military power add up to an all out comprehensive effort to isolate, intimidate and degrade China’s rise as a regional and global power. Military encirclement and alliances, exclusion of China in proposed regional economic associations, partisan intervention in regional maritime disputes, positioning technologically advanced warplanes, are all aimed to undermine China’s competitiveness and to compensate for US economic inferiority via closed political and economic networks.

Clearly White House military and economic moves and Congressional anti-China demagogy are aimed at weakening China’s trading position and forcing its business minded leaders into privileging US banking and business interests over and above their own enterprises. Pushed to its limits, Obama’s prioritizing a big military push could lead to a catastrophic rupture in US Chinese economic relations. This would result in dire consequences, especially but not exclusively, on the US economy and particularly its financial system. China holds over $1.5 trillion dollars in US debt, mainly Treasury Notes and each year purchases from $200 to $300 billion in new issues, a vital source in financing the US deficit. If Obama provokes a serious threat to China’s security interests and Beijing is forced to respond, it will not be military but economic retaliation: the sell-off of a few hundred billion dollars in T-notes and the curtailment of new purchases of US debt. The US deficit will skyrocket, its credit ratings will descend to ‘junk’, and the financial system will ‘tremble onto collapse’. Interest rates to attract new buyers of US debt will approach double digits. Chinese exports to the US will suffer and losses will incur due to the devaluation of the T-notes in Chinese hands. But China has been diversifying its markets around the world and its huge domestic market could probably absorb most of what China loses abroad.

While Obama strays across the Pacific to mount its military threat to China and strives to economically isolate it in Asia, the US economic presence is fading in what used to be its “backyard”. According to one journalist, “China is the only show for Latin America” (Financial Times, Nov. 23, 2011, p.6). China has displaced the US and the EU as Latin America’s principle trading partner; Beijing has poured billions in new investments and provides low interest loans. China’s trade with India, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan and Vietnam is increasing far faster than that of the US. The US effort to build an imperial centered security alliance in Asia is based on fragile economic foundations. Even Australia, the anchor and linchpin of the US military thrust in Asia, is heavily dependent on mineral exports to China. Any military interruption would send the Australian economy into a tailspin.

The US economy is in no condition to replace China as a market for Asian or Australian commodity and manufacturing exports. The Asian countries must be acutely aware that there is no future growth tying themselves to a declining highly militarized empire. Obama and Clinton deceive themselves if they think they can entice Asia into a long-term alliance. The Asian’s are simply using the Obama regime’s friendly overtures as a ‘tactical device’ ,a negotiating ploy to leverage better terms in securing maritime and territorial boundaries. Washington is delusional if it believes that it can convince Asia to break long-term large scale lucrative economic ties to China in order to join an exclusive economic association with dubious prospects. Any such ‘reorientation’ of Asia, from China to the US, would require more than the presence of a naval and airborne armada pointed at China. It would require the total restructuring of the Asian countries’ economies,class structure and political and military elite. The most powerful economic entrepreneurial groups in Asia have deep and growing ties with China/Hong Kong especially among the dynamic transnational Chinese business elites in the region. A turn toward Washington entails a massive counter-revolution which substitutes ‘traders’ for entrepreneurs. A turn to the US would require a dictatorial elite willing to disrupt strategic trading and investment linkages,displacing millions of workers and professionals. As much as some US trained Asian military officers , economists and former Wall Street financiers and billionaires might seek to ‘balance’ a US military presence, with Chinese economic power, they must realize that ultimately, advantage resides in working out an Asian solution.

The age of Asian “comprador capitalists”, willing to sell out national industry and sovereignty in exchange for privileged access to US markets, is ancient history. Whatever the boundless enthusiasm for conspicuous consumerism and Western lifestyles, which Asia and China’s new rich mindlessly celebrate, whatever the embrace of inequalities and savage capitalist exploitation of labor, there is recognition that the past history of US and European dominance precluded the growth and enrichment of an indigenous bourgeoisie and middle class. The speeches and pronouncements of Obama and Clinton are a mixture of nostalgia for a past of neo-colonial overseers and comprador collaborators and a no-brainer. Their strain for political realism I in finally recognizing Asia as the economic pivot of the present world order. But they turn delusional in imagining that military prepotency and projections of armed force will reduce China to a marginal player in the region.

Obama’s Escalation of Confrontation with Russia

The Obama regime has launched a major frontal military thrust on Russia’s borders. The US has moved forward missile sites and Air Force bases in Poland, Rumania, Turkey, Spain, Czech Republic and Bulgaria: Patriot PAC-3 anti-aircraft missile complexes in Poland; advanced radar AN/TPY-2 in Turkey; several missile (SM-3 IA) loaded warships in Spain are among the prominent weapons encircling Russia, most only minutes away from it strategic heartland. Secondly, the Obama regime has mounted an all-out effort to secure and expand US military bases in Central Asia among former Soviet republics. Thirdly, Washington via NATO has launched major economic and military operations against Russia’s major trading partners in North Africa and the Middle East. The NATO war against Libya which ousted the Gadhafi regime has paralyzed or nullified multi-billion dollar Russian oil and gas investments, arms sales and substituted a NATO puppet for a friendly regime.

The UN-NATO economic sanctions and US-Israeli clandestine terrorist activity aimed at Iran has undermined Russia’s lucrative billion dollar nuclear trade and joint oil ventures. NATO, including Turkey and backed by the Gulf monarchical dictatorships, have implemented harsh sanctions and funded terrorist assaults on Syria, Russia’s last remaining ally in the region and sole port (Tartus) facing the Mediterranean Sea. Russia’s collaboration with NATO in weakening its economic and security position is a product of the monumental misreading of NATO and especially Obama’s imperial policies. President Medvedev and his Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov mistakenly assumed (like Gorbachev and Yeltsin before them) that backing US-NATO policies against Russia’s trading partners would result in some sort of “reciprocity”: US dismantling its offensive “missile shield” on its frontiers and support for Russia’s admission into the World Trade Organization. Medvedev following his liberal pro-western illusions fell into line and backed US-Israeli sanctions against Iran, believing the tales of a “nuclear weapons programs”. Then Lavrov fell for the NATO line of “no fly zones to protect Libyan lives” and voted in favor, only to feebly “protest”, much too late, that NATO was “exceeding its mandate” by bombing Libya into the Stone Age and installing a pro-NATO puppet regime of rogues and fundamentalists. Finally when the US drove a cleaver in Russia’s heartland by pushing ahead with an all-out effort to install missile sites 5 minutes from Moscow and organized mass and armed assaults on Syria, did Medvedev-Lavrov awake from their stupor and opposed UN sanctions. Medvedev threatened to abandon the nuclear missle reduction treaty (START) and to place medium range missiles 5 minutes from Berlin, Paris and London.

Medvedev-Lavrov’s policy of consolidation and co-operation based on Obama’s rhetoric of “resetting relations” invited aggressive empire building: each capitulation led to a further aggression. As a result Russia is surrounded by missiles on its western frontier; it has suffered losses among its major trading partners in the Middle East and faces US bases in southwest Asia.

Belatedly Russian officials have moved to replace the delusional Medvedev for the realist Putin, as next President. This shift to a political realist has predictably evoked a wave of hostility toward Putin in all the Western media. Obama’s aggressive policies to isolate Russia by undermining independent regimes has, however, not affected Russia’s status as a nuclear weapons power. It has only heightened tensions in Europe and perhaps ended any future chance of peaceful nuclear weapons reduction or efforts to secure a UN Security Council consensus on issues of peaceful conflict resolution. Washington has turned Russia from a pliant client to a major adversary.

Putin looks to deepening and expanding ties with the East, namely China, in the face of threats from the West. The combination of Russian advanced weapons technology and energy resources and Chinese dynamic manufacturing and industrial growth are more than a match for crises ridden EU-USA economies wallowing in stagnation.

Obama’s military confrontation toward Russia will greatly prejudice access to Russian raw materials and definitively foreclose any long-term strategic security agreement which would be useful in lowering the deficit and reviving the US economy.

Between Realism and Delusion: Obama’s Strategic Realignment

Obama’s recognition that the present and future center of political and economic power is moving inexorably to Asia, is a flash of political realism. After a lost decade of pouring hundreds of billions of dollars in military adventures on the margins and periphery of world politics, Washington has finally discovered that is not where the fate of nations, especially Great Powers, will be decided, except in a negative sense – of bleeding resources over lost causes. Obama’s new realism and priorities apparently are now focused on Southeast and Northeast Asia, where dynamic economies flourish, markets are growing at a double digit rate, investors are ploughing tens of billions in productive activity and trade is expanding at three times the rate of the US and the EU.

But Obama’s ‘New Realism’ is blighted by entirely delusional assumptions, which totally undermine any real effort to realign US policy.

In the first place Obama’s effort to ‘enter’ into Asia is via a military build-up not through a sharpening and upgrading of US economic competitiveness. What does the US produce for the Asian countries that will enhance its market share? Apart from arms, airplanes and agriculture, the US has few industries which are competitive. The US would have to totally re-orient its economy, upgrade skilled labor, and transfer billions from “security” and militarism to applied innovations. But Obama works within the current military-Zionist-financial complex: he knows no other and is incapable of breaking with it.

Secondly, Obama-Clinton operate under the delusion that the US can exclude China or minimize its role in Asia, a policy that is undercut by the huge and growing investment and presence of all the major US multi-national corporations in China , who use it as an export platform to Asia and the rest of the world.

The US military build-up and policy of “intimidation” will only force China to downgrade its role as creditor, financing the US debt; a policy China can pursue because the US market, while still important, is becoming less so, as China expands its presence in its domestic, Asian, Latin American and European markets.

What appeared to be New Realism is now the recycling of Old Delusions: the idea that the US can return to being the Pacific Power it was after World War Two. The US ‘returns’ to the Pacific in our times with a crippled economy, with the overhang of an over-militarized economy, with strategic handicaps: over the past decade it has been at the beck and call of Israel’s fifth column (the Israel “lobby”). The entire US political class is devoid of common, practical sense and national purpose. They are immersed in troglodyte debates over “indefinite detentions” and “mass immigrant expulsion”. Worse, all are on the payrolls of private corporations who sell in the US and invest in China.

Why would Obama abjure costly wars in the unprofitable periphery and then practice the same military metaphysics at the dynamic center of the world economy? Does he and his advisers believe he is the Second Coming of Admiral Commodore whose 19th century warships opened Asia to Western trade? Does he believe that military alliances will be the first stage to a subsequent period of privileged economic entry?

Does Obama believe that his regime can blockade China, as Washington did to Japan in the lead up to World War Two? It’s too late. China is much more central to the world economy, too vital even to the financing of the US debt, too bonded up with the Forbes Five Hundred multi-national corporations. To provoke China, to even fantasize about economic “exclusion” to bring down China, is to pursue policies which will totally disrupt the world economy and that means first and foremost the US economy!

Conclusion

Obama’s ‘crackpot realism’, his shift from wars in the Islamic world to military confrontation in Asia, has no intrinsic worth and extraordinary extrinsic costs. The military methods and economic goals are totally incompatible and beyond the capacity of the US, as it is currently constituted. Washington’s policies will not ‘weaken’ Russia or China, even less intimidate them. Instead it will encourage both to adopt more adversarial positions, making it less likely that they lend a hand to Obama’s sequential wars. Already Russia has sent warships to its Syrian port, refused to support an arms embargo against Syria and Iran and (in retrospect) criticized the NATO war against Libya. China and Russia have far too many strategic ties with the world economy to suffer any great losses from a series of US military outposts and “exclusive” alliances. Russia can aim just as many deadly nuclear missiles at the West as the US can mount from its bases in Eastern Europe. In other words, Obama’s military escalation will not change the nuclear balance of power, but will bring Russia and China into a closer and deeper alliance. Gone are the days of Kissinger-Nixon’s “divide and conquer” strategy pitting US-Chinese trade agreements against Russian arms. Washington has a totally exaggerated significance of the current maritime spats between China and its neighbors. What unites them in economic terms is far more important in the medium and long-run. China’s Asian economic ties will erode any tenuous military links to the US.

Obama’s “crackpot realism”, views the world market through military lenses. Military arrogance toward Asia has led to a rupture with Pakistan its most compliant client regime in South Asia. NATO deliberately killed 24 soldiers and thumbed their nose at the Pakistan generals while China and Russia condemned the attack and gained influence.

In the end, the military and exclusionary posture to China will fail. Washington will overplay its hand and frighten its business oriented erstwhile Asian partners, who only want to play-off a US military presence to gain tactical economic advantage. They certainly do not want a new US instigated ‘Cold War’ which divides and weakens dynamic intra-Asian trade and investment. Obama and his minions will quickly learn that Asia’s current leaders do not have permanent allies’ only permanent interests. In the final analysis, China figures prominently in configuring a new Asia-centric world economy. Washington may claim to have a ‘permanent Pacific presence’ but until it demonstrates it can take care of “basic business at home”, like arranging its own finances and balancing its current account deficits, the US Naval command may end up renting its navy to Asian exporters and shippers, transporting goods between them, and protecting them by pursuing pirates, contra-bandits and narco-traffickers. Come to think about it, Obama might eventually even lessen the US trade deficit with Asia by renting out the Seventh Fleet to patrol the Straits, instead of wasting US taxpayer money bullying successful Asian economic powers.

– James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books). Petras’ most recent book is The Arab Revolt and the Imperialist Counterattack.

US hegemony, not “the lobby,” behind complicity with “Israel”

{Arab world} by Umayyah Jiha

by Stephen Maher, The Electronic Intifada, 27 April 2010

Many of Israel’s critics blame an “Israel lobby” for the near-total complicity of the US in Israeli annexation, colonization and cleansing programs in the occupied West Bank. This complicity continues to the present, despite the “row” that erupted after the Israeli government humiliated US Vice President Joe Biden by announcing the construction of 1,600 settlement units in occupied East Jerusalem while he was visiting the country. Indeed, despite the apparent outrage expressed by top White House officials, the administration has made clear that its criticism of Israel will remain purely symbolic. However, as we shall see, the lobby thesis does little to explain US foreign policy in the Middle East.

Years after Noam Chomsky, Stephen Zunes, Walter Russell Mead and many others published their critiques of the Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer “Israel lobby” thesis, many of the sharpest critics of Israel continue to attribute US foreign policy in the Middle East to the influence of the lobby. Given the prevalence of the Israel lobby argument, and the latest diplomatic confrontation between the US and Israel, it is important to revisit the flaws in the thesis, and properly attribute US behavior to the large concentrations of domestic political and economic power that truly drive US policy.

US foreign policy in the Middle East is similar to that which is carried out elsewhere in the world, in regions free of “the lobby’s” proclaimed corrupting effects. The inflated level of support that the US lends Israel is a rational response to the particular strategic importance of the Middle East, the chief energy-producing region of the world. By building Israel into what Noam Chomsky refers to as an “offshore US military base,” it is able to protect its dominance over much of the world’s remaining energy resources, a major lever of global power. As we shall see, those blaming the lobby for US policy once again misunderstand US’s strategic interests in the Middle East, and Israel’s central role in advancing them.

Geopolitics and the US-Israeli relationship

A central claim of the “Israel lobby” thesis is that the “lobby,” however defined, overwhelmingly shapes US policy towards the Middle East. Thus, if the argument were true, its proponents would have to demonstrate that there is something qualitatively unique about US policy towards the Middle East compared with that in other regions of the world. Yet upon careful analysis, we find little difference between the purported distortions caused by the lobby and what is frequently referred to as the “national interest,” governed by the same concentrations of domestic power that drive US foreign policy elsewhere.

There are states all around the world that perform similar services to Washington as Israel, projecting US power in their respective regions, whose crimes in advancing Washington’s goals are overtly supported and shielded from international condemnation. Take for instance the 30 years of US support for the horrors of the Indonesian invasion and occupation of East Timor. In addition to the use of rape and starvation as weapons, and a gruesome torture regime, Indonesian president Suharto slaughtered 150,000 persons out of a population of 650,000. These atrocities were fully supported by the US, including supplying the napalm and chemical weapons indiscriminately used by the Indonesian army, which was fully armed and trained by the US. As Bill Clinton said, Suharto was “our kind of guy.”

Daniel Patrick Moynahan, US ambassador to the UN at the time of the Indonesian invasion, later wrote that “the Department of State desired that the United Nations prove utterly ineffective in whatever measures it undertook” to end the butchering of the East Timorese, a goal he carried out with “no inconsiderable success.” Yet this support was not due to the influence of an “Indonesia lobby.” Rather, planners had identified Indonesia as one of the three most strategically important regions in the world in 1958, as a result of its oil wealth and important role as a link between the Indian and Pacific oceans.

In some regions, as in Latin America where US clients like Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, and terrorist armies like the Nicaraguan contras spent years murdering defenseless peasants demanding basic human rights, the threat is mostly one of “successful defiance;” that is, a country defying US orders and getting away with it. Should the US tolerate one such case, the logic goes, it will embolden resistance to its dictates elsewhere. The danger underlying such defiance — referred to as “the threat of a good example” by Oxfam — is that a country will implement a successful model for independent development, refusing US dictates and seeking to direct much-needed resources to serve the needs of the domestic population instead of wealthy foreign investors.

Such thinking is deeply institutionalized and exhibited by US policy worldwide, going back to the very beginnings of the modern imperial era after World War II. It was clear from early in the war that the US would emerge as the dominant world power in its aftermath, and so the State Department and Council on Foreign Relations began planning to create a post-war international order in which the US would “hold unquestioned power.” One way it planned to do so was gaining control of global energy resources, primarily those of Saudi Arabia, which were referred to at the time as “the greatest material prize in history” by the US State Department.

As Franklin Roosevelt’s “oil czar” Harold Ickes advised, control of oil was the “key to postwar political arrangements” since a large supply of cheap energy is essential to fuel the world’s industrial capitalist economies. This meant that with control of Middle Eastern oil, particularly the vast Saudi reserves, the US could keep its hand on the spigot that would fuel the economies of Europe, Japan and much of the rest of the world. As US planner George Kennan put it, this would give the United States “veto power” over the actions of others. Zbigniew Brzezinski has also more recently discussed the “critical leverage” the US enjoys as a result of its stranglehold on energy supplies.

Thus in the Middle East it is not simply “successful defiance” that the US fears, nor merely independent development. These worries are present as well, but there is an added dimension: should opposition threaten US control of oil resources, a major source of US global power is placed at risk. Under the Nixon Administration, with the US military tied down in Vietnam and direct intervention in the Middle East to defend vital strategic interests unlikely, military aid to pre-revolution Iran (acting as an American regional enforcer) skyrocketed. Amnesty International’s conclusion in 1976 that “no country has a worse human rights record than Iran” was ignored, and US support increased, not because of an “Iran lobby” in the US, but rather because such support was advancing US interests.

Strategic concerns also led the US to support other oppressive, reactionary regimes, including Saddam Hussein’s worst atrocities. During the Anfal genocide against the Kurds, Iraqi forces used chemical weapons provided by the US against Kurdish civilians, killed perhaps 100,000 persons, and destroyed roughly 80 percent of the villages in Iraqi Kurdistan, while the US moved to block international condemnation of these atrocities. Again, supporting crimes that serve the “national interest” set by large corporations and ruling elites, and shielding them from international criticism is the rule, not the exception.

It is no coincidence that the US-Israel relationship crystallized after Israel destroyed the independent nationalist regime of Gamal Abdel Nasser in a preemptive attack in 1967, permanently ending the role of Egypt as a center of opposition to US imperialism. Since before World War II, Saudi Arabia had happily served as an “Arab facade,” veiling the hand of the true ruling power on the Arabian peninsula, to borrow British colonial terminology. With Nasser’s Arab nationalist rhetoric “turning the whole region against the House of Saud,” the threat he posed to US power was serious. In response, the State Department concluded that the “logical corollary” to US opposition to Arab nationalism was “support for Israel” as the only reliable pro-US force in the region. Israel’s destruction and humiliation of Nasser’s regime was thus a major boon for the US, and proved to Washington the value of a strong alliance with a powerful Israel.

This unique regional importance is one reason for the tremendous level of aid Israel receives, including more advanced weaponry than that provided to other US clients. Providing Israel with the ability to use overwhelming force against any adversary to the established order has been a pivotal aspect of US regional strategy. Importantly, Israel is also a reliable ally — there is little chance that the Israeli government will be overthrown, and the weapons end up in the hands of anti-Western Islamic fundamentalists or independent nationalists as happened in Iran in 1979.

Today, with the increased independence of Europe, and the hungry economies of India and China growing at breakneck speed along with their demand for dwindling energy resources, control over what is left is more crucial than ever. In the September 2009 issue of the Asia-Africa Review, China’s former Special Envoy to the Middle East Sun Bigan wrote that “the US has always sought to control the faucet of global oil supplies,” and suggested that since Washington would doubtless work to ensure that Iraqi oil remained under its control, China should look elsewhere in the region for an independent energy source. “Iran has bountiful energy resources,” Bigan wrote, “and its oil gas reserves are the second biggest in the world, and all are basically under its own control” (emphasis added).

It is partially as a result of this independence that Israel’s strategic importance to the US has increased significantly in recent times, particularly since the Shah’s cruel, US-supported dictatorship in Iran was overthrown in 1979. With the Shah gone, Israel alone had to terrorize the region into complying with US orders, and ensure that Saudi Arabia’s vast oil resources remain under US control. The increased importance of Israel to US policy was illustrated clearly as its regional strategy shifted to “dual containment” during the Clinton years, with Israel countering both Iraq and Iran.

With Iran developing technology that could eventually allow it to produce what are referred to in the February 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review as “anti-access weapons,” or weapons of mass destruction that prevent the US from being able to freely use force in any region of the world, this is a crucial moment in Washington’s struggle to seize control of Iran. This confrontation, stemming from the desire of the US to control its oil and destroy a base of independent nationalism, makes US support for Israel strategically crucial.

The “Israel lobby” and US Pressure

If we adopt “the lobby” hypothesis, we would predict that the US would bend to Israel’s will when the interests of the two states diverge, acting against its “national interest.” Yet if US policies in the Middle East were damaging its “national interest,” as proponents of the lobby argument claim, that must mean that such policies have been a failure. This leads one to ask: a failure for whom? Not for US elites, who have secured control of the major global energy resources while successfully crushing opposition movements, nor for the defense establishment, and most certainly not for the energy corporations. In fact, not only is US policy towards the Middle East similar to that towards other regions of the world, but it has been a profitable, strategic success.

Indeed, the US’s policy towards Israel and the Palestinians is not to achieve an end to the occupation, nor to bring about respect for Palestinian rights — in fact, it is the actor primarily responsible for preventing these outcomes. To the US, Israel’s “Operation Defensive Shield” in 2002 had sufficiently punished the Palestinians and their compliant US-backed leadership for their intransigence at Camp David. While the Palestinian Authority was already acting as Israel’s “subcontractor” and “collaborator” in suppressing resistance to Israeli occupation, in the paraphrased words of former Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami, former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s deliberate destruction of Palestinian institutions provided the opportunity to rebuild them, and ensure an even greater degree of US control.

The settlement and annexation programs help guarantee Israeli control over the most valuable Palestinian land and water resources, ensuring Israel will remain a dominant society not easily pressured by its neighbors. To help achieve these goals, the US shields Israeli expansion behind a “peace process” in hopes that given enough time the Palestinians will concede more and more of what was once theirs. The primary concern is to present the appearance that the US and Israel are ardently crusading for peace, battling against those who oppose this noble objective. Though it is true that people across the region are appalled and outraged by Israeli crimes, such anger is a small consideration next to the strategic gain of maintaining a strong, dependent ally in the heart of the Middle East.

The reconstitution of an even more tightly-controlled Palestinian Authority, with General Keith Dayton directly supervising the Palestinian security forces, enabled the US to meet these goals while more effectively suppressing resistance to the occupation. Likewise, redeploying Israeli soldiers outside of Gaza allowed Sharon a free hand to continue the annexation of the West Bank while being heralded internationally as a “great man of peace.”

The treatment of Israel by the mainstream US media is also standard for all US allies. Coverage in the corporate press is predictably skewed in favor of official US allies and against official enemies, a well-documented phenomenon. Thus, proponents of the lobby thesis are missing the forest for the trees. What they see as the special treatment of Israel by the mainstream press is actually just the normal functioning of the US media and intellectual establishment, apologizing for and defending crimes of official allies while demonizing official enemies.

Of course, this is not to argue that there are not organizations in the US, like the American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League and AIPAC, that seek to marginalize dissent from Israeli policy in every forum possible. Rather, I am pointing out that the power of these groups pales in comparison to other, far more powerful, interests and concerns. While the AJC or ADL may mobilize for the firing of a professor critical of Israel, for example, that argument is amplified by the elite-owned and controlled press because doing so serves their interests. Likewise, AIPAC can urge unwavering support for Israel on the part of the US government, but without the assent of other far more powerful interests, like the energy corporations and defense establishment, AIPAC’s efforts would amount to little. US policy, like that of other states, is rationally planned to serve the interests of the ruling class.

Israel could not sustain its aggressive, expansionist policies without US military aid and diplomatic support. If the Obama Administration wanted to, it could pressure Israel to comply with international law and resolutions, join the international consensus, and enact a two-state solution. While the “Israel lobby” thesis conveniently explains his failure to do so and absolves US policy-makers of responsibility for their ongoing support of Israeli apartheid, violence and annexation, it simply does not stand up under closer scrutiny.

It’s the “New Haiti!”

by Michel Collins, source

January 21, 2010

The appointment of former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush as key players in Haitian relief should cause the people of Haiti grave concern, if they weren’t otherwise preoccupied with survival. These former presidents’ records as pro-life advocates on the international scene is tarnished by real world outcomes.

During his eight years as president, Clinton was responsible for sanctions on Iraq that resulted in the deaths of 170,000 children under five. Former President George W. Bush exceeded that death toll by invading Iraq. That caused civil chaos and conflict among Iraqis leading to the deaths of over one million citizens in that tragic nation. When you see these two coming, their record speaks for itself.

What will happen in Haiti? What can the citizens of that nation expect? It’s instructive to look at the post Katrina rescue effort with a focus on New Orleans as a prototype.

“The Cleansing of New Orleans”

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, more than 200,000 citizens of New Orleans were transported to cities around the United States. Houston and Atlanta were major centers for congregating survivors. Shortly after the involuntary exodus, 43% wanted to return to New Orleans, and 44% wanted to stay in their new homes, and 12% were unsure of their choice.

Little did Katrina’s survivors know that they would never have a choice. The state of Louisiana sent a message right away. Procedures were established to make sure that none of the refugees would be able to vote by absentee ballot unless they first returned home and voted in person. Of course, most lacked the resources to do that. Through a variety techniques and excuses, the survivors were turned into permanent non residents of their former home, without regard to their preference. The politics of relocation has whited out the city’s former political make up.

The combined class and ethnic cleansing has continued in New Orleans. The evidence is the eviction of poor people from structures not harmed by the hurricane, and the re-zoning of areas where survivors could return into enclaves for the wealthy. It’s called progress.

Haiti’s Opportunities for Progress

Haiti is not New Orleans but give the financial elite some time. They’re just warming up. This is, after all, their first captive nation due to natural calamity. They didn’t have to fire a shot. The people are starving, unarmed, traumatized, and incapable of resistance. All this can be theirs!

There are some similarities to the post Katrina operation. Like New Orleanians, Haitians went without food and water for days. When supplies arrived, the effort was handled by military organizers.

The corporate media portrayed the starving citizens of New Orleans as looters as they foraged for anything to keep them alive. Haiti was no different. There was looting, we were told, without the post-script that people were literally starving and thirsting to death. Apparently, the security forces failed to debrief first-hand observers on the ground who reported no such lawlessness. Domestic and foreign oligarchs are the real looters of Haiti. They started well before the earthquake.

While the military secured the scene for relief, food, water, and medical care waited in line.The several days of delay created a fatigue and physical debilitation among citizens. It worked to make whatever security might have been needed much easier. A weakened population can be contained efficiently, with minimal force.

The most important similarities between New Orleans and Haiti are ethnicity and class based. In New Orleans, the majority of damage occurred in black, largely poor districts of the city. In Haiti, the entire nation is both black and, for the most part, living in poverty.

But the Haiti’s divergence from the New Orleans story line is significant. It represents an entire nation, a huge, strategically placed land mass just waiting for the type of rehabilitation that New Orleans only dreamed about. And to the rescuers must have big plans.

It’s the “New Haiti”

Bill Clinton stood breathless on the tarmac of the crowded Port-au-Prince airport extolling the cooperation of all the Latin American nations. He said something like, they all want to be part of the new Haiti. That’s probably the best storm warning that Haitians will get regarding their fate. Their nation and culture are in the cross hairs of the theme park entrepreneurs always seeking another real estate fiasco to perpetrate. Dubai World is dead. It’s on to Haiti!

One wonders if the forces of repression have waited all these years to finally get even for losing and entire nation in “the only successful slave revolt in history,” an inspiration to people everywhere.

But isn’t this is a bleak vision given the outpouring of offers from all over the world? Individuals have contributed generously to Haitian relief. They are to be commended for their efforts, which are considerable. But individual contributions of several million can’t match the hundreds of millions in commitments (not deliverables) of aid through national and multinational entities. These are the people calling the shots.

What can Haitians anticipate from the first world geniuses? Military occupation is first up. The security forces were first in because they were the force selected to run the show. The absence of a Haitian government is the problem, we’re told. But that absence originated when the United States kidnapped the elected president of Haiti and spirited him off to Africa, for “his safety.” The current government is virtually non existent, other than the U.S. favored president who officially welcomed foreign assistance.

The military emphasis will give way to food and water plus medical care. But will this relief be supplied in time to help the people? After days of dehydration and starvation, is the population ripe for disease? Will there be sufficient resources to deal with this? Are we going to hear about the need for temporary relocation as we did in New Orleans?

Will the current US model of funding banks and forgetting the people be employed, a variation of the trickle down approach?

What will the nation building look like? Iraq? Afghanistan?

Will the people of Haiti ever get a chance to rule their own nation?

END

Special thanks to Kathlyn Stone for her helpful comments.

Bush, Clinton and the crimes of US imperialism in Haiti

by Dave Brown

by Patrick Martin, WSWS, January 18, 2010

The Obama administration has announced that former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush will head the fundraising for relief efforts in the wake of the Haiti earthquake. In his radio speech Saturday, Obama declared: “These two leaders send an unmistakable message to the people of Haiti and the world. In a moment of need, the United States stands united.”

The message of the Clinton-Bush appointment is indeed significant, but hardly what the White House and the American media have suggested. In selecting his two immediate predecessors, those who have set US policy in the Caribbean since 1993, Obama demonstrates that the devastating human tragedy in Haiti will not bring any alteration in the rapacious role of US imperialism in that impoverished semi-colonial country.

For eight years apiece, Clinton and Bush were directly and deeply involved in a series of political machinations and military interventions that have played a major role in perpetuating the poverty, backwardness and repression in Haiti that have vastly compounded by the disaster that struck that country last Tuesday. Both men have the blood of Haitian workers and peasants on their hands.

Clinton took office in the immediate aftermath of the military coup which ousted Haiti’s first democratically elected president, the populist cleric Jean-Bertrand Aristide. That coup was backed by the administration of Bush’s father, who saw Aristide as an unwanted and potentially dangerous radical.

The new Democratic Party administration undertook a tactical shift in policy. Clinton imposed economic sanctions on the Haitian junta, which destroyed Haiti’s fledgling export industries, then dispatched the Marines to Haiti—for the third time in the 20th century—to compel Gen. Raoul Cedras, the junta leader, to depart. The US restored Aristide to the presidency, after he had given assurances that he would do nothing to challenge the domination of either Washington or the native Haitian elite, and that he would leave office in 1996 without seeking reelection.

After Aristide obediently left office on schedule, he was succeeded by René Préval, who served the first of his two terms as president from 1996 to 2001, carrying out the dictates of an International Monetary Fund “structural adjustment” program that slashed employment, cut public services, and ruined domestic rice farmers.

When Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas party won a clear victory in May 2000 legislative elections, the Clinton administration and the Republican-controlled Congress refused to accept the election and cut off US aid. Aristide himself returned to the presidency after winning a landslide election victory in November 2000, only to face an implacable enemy in the incoming Bush administration.

For three years, Haiti was systematically starved by the US aid cutoff and measures taken by the Bush administration to block international aid and isolate the Aristide government. Finally, in February 2004, amid protests fomented by the Haitian ruling elite with covert American backing, the US military again intervened in the country, seizing Aristide and shipping him out of the country to exile.

The Marines turned over effective control of the country to a United Nations peacekeeping force, with Brazil providing the biggest troop contingent, propping up a series of unelected Haitian prime ministers until elections in 2006, from which candidates of Fanmi Lavalas were largely excluded. René Préval was elected president for the second time, in a term scheduled to end late this year. Once a supporter and professed political “twin” of Aristide, Préval has long since made his peace with both Washington and the Haitian ruling elite, and his second term has been characterized by slavish subservience to the economic prescriptions of Wall Street and the International Monetary Fund.

Throughout the Clinton and Bush administrations, US demands for adherence to IMF austerity policies were combined with a vicious program of repression against Haitians fleeing the country of their birth to seek refuge and a better life in the United States. In his first campaign for the presidency, in 1992, Clinton criticized the persecution and forced repatriation of Haitian refugees, only to reverse himself and continue those policies unaltered. For the next 17 years—and continuing with no change from Obama—hundreds of refugees have died in small boats seeking to evade the US Coast Guard blockade.

Most recently, Clinton has been the official UN envoy for Haiti, backing the corrupt Préval regime and seeking to develop Haiti as a base for a profitable US-run garment industry founded on near-starvation wages. Food riots swept the country in April 2008, but that did not stop Préval from blocking legislation that would have raised the minimum wage of $1.72 a day for workers in the garment factories.

As for George W. Bush, his selection as co-leader of a supposed humanitarian campaign is an insult to the people of both Haiti and the United States. His appointment by Obama is in keeping with the Democratic president’s unflagging efforts since his election, the result of popular hatred of Bush and his party, to rehabilitate the Republicans.

An unapologetic war criminal who is responsible for the slaughter of a million Iraqis, Bush’s signature domestic “achievement” was the abject failure of the US government either to prevent the devastation of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in Hurricane Katrina, or to mount an effective relief and recovery effort afterwards.

This is the record of the two men whom Barack Obama has selected as the public face of the latest US initiative in Haiti. Bush and Clinton made a series of media appearances over the weekend, including interviews on all five Sunday television news programs, during which they emphasized the need to restore “stability” to Haiti, and the important role that the United States would have to play in that effort.

Bush and Clinton personify the pernicious and reactionary role that American imperialism has played in Haiti for the last century. It is no exaggeration to say that the policies of their administrations have caused as much death and devastation in that country as last Tuesday’s earthquake.