Valueing Sentient Beings

In recent days we have seen vast Western media publicity on the Boston Marathon bombings: the dead, the wounded and the  likely perpetrators. At the same time, more than 140 people have been killed in multiple bombings in  Iraq with almost no  Western publicity.  And no  doubt,   many more “invisible” killings in  other countries have occurred  over that period, including at  least  5 people killed by  US drone attacks,  ‘collateral damage’  killings  in  Afghanistan,  not to mention  the mercenary wars going on in Mali  and other regions in  Africa, and  the Burmese civil  wars.

In my world view, every being killed is worthy  of equal  respect  and value as another. I  believe it is important if we are to be  truly compassionate human beings; (and is it not compassion that marks us as  being fully human?), that  we pay our  respects to those who have been  killed and wounded  in Boston, but that  we also  also  pay our  respects to all  those who  have died  elsewhere. I will also mourn all  those multitudes of beings from other species who  we as humans have killed in  our war  against our own environment; whether it be  through   our “need’  to  eat other fellow mammals or fish, or simply the collateral damage from  agri-business, mining,  logging, chemical spills, or our relentless need to seal the ground over for roads, carparks and buildings…..

Why  are we so  selective in  our valuing some humans over other humans,  and why  are humans so highly prized over other species on  this planet?

In my understanding, we value those who  are most like us, and de-value those who  are not like us-the other”.  That  “otherness” is encompassed in  our judgements about everything about our world; from people with other skin  colours not our own,  to  living beings who are not ‘cuddly’ and warm (and furry?) like us mammals. In  addition, from birth we are fed a diet of  reminders of what  a savage world it is outside , and only “we”, the familial clan,  can protect  you.  Upbringing, fear, ignorance and  a small  smattering of genes, all combine to give us permission to  brutalize all  those who  are “other”.

Without these selective filters on our senses, we would be able to see that  “we”  are no better  than “them” , we are fundamentally and unequivocally equal ;  we co-habit this little blue ball  together, and for own  collective wellbeing we must  nourish  and protect our fellow travellers on  this journey through the universe.

Are we really that simpleminded and judgemental  and superficial to do otherwise?- it would sadly appear so.

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Postscript:

Harmony – the ultimate goal between humans and nature by  Yuan Tze

 

 

“Targeted” Killings: the Drone Murders

A recent article in McClatchy  papers entitled, Obama’s drone war kills ‘others,’ not just Al Qaida leaders  clarifies the recent lies by  the Obama administration that only senior Al Qiadia leaders are targeted by  drones.  Unremarkedly many of those “non-civilians”  killed are not Al Qaida connected,  are not senior members of anything, and are often the product of mafia-type  turf wars, clan-based feuds or even neighbourhood spats in  the various countries where the US likes to kill  people with drones.

It is therefore important to note that these are not “drone wars”   these are drone murders.  There is no officially announced US  war going on between  the US  and Pakistan, Yemen, or Somalia.

Jordan Paust in  a labyrinthine legal  argument entitled ‘Self-defense targetings of non-state actors and permissibility of U.S. use of drones in  Pakistan”  attempts to argue that the US is permitted to kill  anyone it thinks could be considered a threat  in  the future ( i.e  a perversion of the term  “imminent threat”) on foreign soil under the rules of international  engagement. This argument subverts international  law to  a remarkable degree; implying that anyone can murder anyone else if they just might possibly fit the pattern of someone who  might in  the future decide they  might do  something nasty  to another’s  nation.  My guess is that means probably 50% of the world’s population should be exterminated right now using that logic.   However it is the type of tortuous logic that US federal lawyers are using to defend the morally and legally indefensible . It should also be noted that the US logic in killing Taleban  leaders in  Afghanistan and Pakistan by drone  is based upon the premise that the Taleban  are a lethal threat to  US troops; which of course they  are while the US continues to  occupy their homeland. However the Taleban (unlike Al Qaida) are not,  and  never will be, any threat to  the US homeland.

Drone apologists will  also argue that the use of drones is a humanitarian approach  to  removing problems  for the US because the killings are ‘targeted’; but again  that pre-supposes that  the brave little men behind the computer screens  firing the rockets from  drones know for real who  they  are  killing.

They don’t:  hearsay,  patterns of behaviour that infer  that a person who   is behaving suspiciously is a terrorist, confused information feeds,  or simply deliberate mis-information  all  play a significant part in creating one  error of judgement after another.  The McClatchy  article says that ” drone operators weren’t always certain who they were killing despite the administration’s guarantees of the accuracy of the CIA’s targeting intelligence and its assertions that civilian casualties have been “exceedingly rare.”  In  addition the US government’s and CIA  process of using ‘Signature Strikes” ensures that many more innocent people will be killed.

A “signature strike” is a killing of  someone believed to be a militant whose identity isn’t necessarily known. Such strikes are reportedly based on a “pattern of life” analysis – intelligence on their behavior suggesting that an individual is a militant. The policy, reportedly begun by Bush in Pakistan in 2008, is now allowed in Yemen, under stricter criteria.- from  Everything We Know So Far About Drone Strikes.   Often the signature is simply a group of  young men who  happen to be in  the ‘wrong’ place at the ‘wrong’ time.    Anonymous State Dept officials tongue in  cheek (but realistically) describe the process as identifying  3 young men  doing jumping jacks in  a field as being terrorists.

A Stanford and New York University law schools  study estimates that  there are, on average, 49 civilian deaths for every one known terrorist killed. In my view this also  is likely to  be a vast under-estimation of the “collateral  damage”.  Weapons manufacturers love to  sell  the virtues of their weaponry, and none of its vices.

Policy Mic notes that  ‘The Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that from June 2004 through mid-September 2012, drone strikes killed between 2,562 and 3,325 people in Pakistan, including 176 children.

Drone apologists will  say  that  it is “hearsay”  that the drone murders cause anger and fear and  and a consequential increase in  the number of  new “terrorists” who hate the US.  The Stanford study is sufficient in itself to  explain why that viewpoint is a nonsense. Death  from  a cloudless sky  that kills your innocent  brother,  sister grandparents or children is enough to  arouse life-long hatred and anger in  any human being.  Or,  as in  many reported cases, civilians are attacked   by drones when they go to help  those injured in  a previous drone attack; a clear violation of international law.  But of course all  that hatred helps to fuel  demand for even more weapons…

The  logic of using  drones is  that they can kill where  having boots on the ground would be  risky or problematic (ie no  collateral  damage in  the US media of “our boys” being killed) . Thus when  the US State Department makes assertions about who it is killing and limited civilian collateral damage, it simply is making it up;  it doesn’t have a clue who  it is really killing , unless it is  confirmed at  some later date by other events and information;  and civilian deaths for the most part, don’t get reported.

In addition the  ever-present fear of imminent annihilation from out of the blue creates absolute terror among children and  others who  are less mobile and vulnerable . Policy mic again states “the interviewee described the constant surveillance of the drones as “a wave of terror,” adding that “children, grown-up people, women, they are terrified. . . . They scream in terror.” Another described the drones as “like a mosquito. Even when you don’t see them, you can hear them, you know they are there.” Many of the drones are capable of hovering almost invisibly at  high altitude for hours on end before firing at  their targets.

Thus it is absolutely clear that the United States not only violates human decency and morality but also violates  internationally binding agreements on  the rules of war, in  its use  of drones. The drone murders  must stop.

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Postscript

A great  article by  Faisal Moghul on  the The Orwellian Paradigm or, Killing you, for your own safety explores the irrational (or perhaps quite rational) language and ethics of the War on Terror

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William Pfaff:   “Of Drones and Dishonor”

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Other links:

http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/category/projects/drone-data/

http://law-wss-01.law.fsu.edu/journals/transnational/vol19_2/paust.pdf

http://www.policymic.com/articles/15340/drone-strikes-in-pakistan-have-killed-thousands-of-civilians

http://americansecurityproject.org/issues/asymmetric-operations/the-strategic-effects-of-a-lethal-drones-policy/

http://www.propublica.org/article/everything-we-know-so-far-about-drone-strikes

 

All Options On the Table

Iran has a proud heritage as an independent nation for much  of its long  history.   The   Achaemenid Empire,  Saleucid  period,  the Parthian  and  Sassanid Empires all reference a proud history, with the Median empire  dating back  to at least  728 BCE.

The long history of human civilisation  in Persia has resulted  in a very varied ethnic  composition to the country.   The Shi-ite branch of the Muslim faith forms the vast  majority of religious views, with 75-80% of the country speaking a variety  of forms of Iranian (known as  Farsi).  The ethnic composition  currently is Persians 61%,[5][6] Azeris 16%, Kurds 10%, Lurs 6%, Arabs 2% Baloch 2%, Turkmen and Turkic tribes 2%,

Iran  with its unique cultural  and ethnic identity, has therefore  always strongly resisted foreign  occupation  forces, ranging from the Turkish Ottomans  to the Russians, British, and finally the Americans by proxy.

Since the Revolution in  1979,  which  saw the overthrow of the Pahlavi dynasty, (a hereditary   dictatorship installed by  the British  and Americans to manage oil  distribution),  Iran has become  both  a democracy  and theocracy. Voters  are able to vote for an “approved”  list of  candidates in  each election  whose  appropriateness is vetted by  the  Supreme Council of mullahs.  Thus the range of candidates in Iran is circumscribed by  the candidates’  apparent moral  and religious rectitude, rather than, as in  the US, and increasingly other Western  countries, by the size of the bank balance backing the candidate.  While levels of imprisonment, torture,  and arbitrary  execution remain  high,  they appear to be significantly lower than  in  the heyday of the revolution, and proportionally less than  the Saudis across the Gulf.  There is solid evidence from  surveys undertaken in Iran by  independent surveyors that the current Iranian system of government has the support of significant majority of the population; perhaps particularly so  because it is a unique and indigenous product of Iranian culture and community, and not one imposed by  other foreign cultures and governments.

Since the Pahlavi  Shah  was deposed and the American Embassy  occupied by Iranian student revolutionaries, the US and its allies have imposed  tighter and tighter levels of sanctions on  Iran;   supposedly for its development of nuclear weapons, but undoubtedly because the current government does not share the commercial  and power block interests of the  US, UK, Israel and its  Saudi  anti-Shi-ite backers. These  sanctions have both created opportunities for  considerable Iranian  scientific and industrial innovation, but also  restricted sales of its petrochemicals and other exports via Western  banking systems  (predominantly the Swift electronic transfer process). These commercial trading blockages  have also  resulted in  a very high  inflation rate  and lack  of access to  some essential  goods like pharmaceuticals; particularly radio-isotope  anti-cancer  drugs.

New systems of both  banking transfer and use of  non US dollars are however  now being developed by  the BRIC nations to circumvent the  monopoly  on  international commercial transactions  by US allies. These alternative international transactions method are naturally a cause of significant anxiety to   the US and UK who  have traditionally monopolized the methods and systems of monetary   transfer across the world-a source of both great  wealth  and power to both  countries state and commercial financial   entities.  How  drastic the response by  the US,  UK  and the EU and  its  ‘international’ institution,  the IMF,   to attempt  to stop these new systems developing further  is unknown  at  this point.

Despite much Western hype about the so-called “green  revolution” at  Iran’s last  national  elections, support for the  current system of government remains high, and a sense of national Iranian pride and  solidarity in  its unique culture and independence  is strong.  Iran appears increasingly supported by  both the BRIC countries and the non-aligned nations in  its struggle to remain  outside Western commercial and cultural domination.

Aside from Iraq’s fragile national entity and the tottering predominantly  Alawite  Syrian regime, Iran remains the one substantial  Shi-ite state in the Middle East; something that is anathema to  the extremist  Salafist Sunni hereditary dictatorships in Saudi Arabia and Qatar  across the Persian Gulf.

Given  the advanced state of Iranian scientific  research  and its industrial  capabilities, it would be extraordinary  for Iran to have taken 54 years to  develop  its nuclear weapon  capabilities; with the  initial technology  being  supplied by  the Americans to the Shah in 1959 .  Israel  and the US media have been crying “wolf’  about an Iranian  nuclear programme since the Iranian revolution,  despite all  declarations from Iran that it has no intention of producing nuclear weapons. That  declaration is in  sharp contrast to  Israel, which  has stockpiled a massive nuclear weapon  arsenal but  continues to  deny its existence and refuses to sign international nuclear protocols (with the full support of the United States).

Iran’s position on Israel  has always been  quite clear;  Iran will not attack  Israel unless it is attacked first,  but  believes that  the Israeli  state  is an anathema to the region as  a rascist  and apartheid-like entity, and an oppressor of the Palestinian people who  who have been forced from their lands and homes..  Iranian President Ahmadinejad  (branded ‘crazy’  in  the Western media -as all  anti Western leaders  are), never did say (as often quoted in  the media)  that Iran  would wipe Israel off the map; he  stated that  the state of Israel  had no future and would cease to  exist in  time. Iran has not attacked any other foreign country  in the past 100 years, despite continued illegal threats and harrassment from Israel , the United States,  the UK,  and Saudi Arabia .  It has however certainly used its proxies of Hamas and Hezbollah, and to an unknown degree, its informal  military,  the Revolutionary Guards,  in  the   region to  de-stabilise what it sees as anti-Shi-ite and reactionary forces and to  support anti-Israeli occupation forces in  Lebanon.

The Iranian “Supreme Leader”  has repeatedly stated and issued fatwas to the effect  that it would be morally wrong for Iran  to  possess a nuclear weapon. Such statements make it  virtually impossible for  Shi-ite Iranians  to develop  a nuclear weapon; to defy a fatwa by  the Supreme Leader would be suicide.

Even the US “intelligence” community as late as 2011 reluctantly confirmed that Iran has no nuclear weapon  development programme,  but has continued to insist on its legal  right (under international law) to develop  nuclear  fission  capability for peaceful purposes. Iran is under no illusions that the continuing ongoing  threats and sanctions by  the Western community are  about stopping a non-existent weapons programme: they are about regime-change.

Therefore US Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent statements in Jerusalem (8-4-13) (or El Quds as it is know in Moslem countries),  warning  Iran  that his country would not hesitate to take military action if the diplomatic process failed to prevent Tehran from continuing its drive for nuclear weapons, is thus one more  threat  from the world’s superpower to  a country that insists on its independence. The threats are of course entirely illegal  and sanctionable under international  law: but who would dare (yet) to prosecute the US?

However it should by now be self-evident to even  the most  dupe-able politician  in the US or Europe; that the only way the Iranian population would accept a Western  installed regime; as in  the Gulf states, would be through  massive all-out war  and occupation.

While it is clear that  US, Israeli and Saudi  forces combined would annihilate most Iranian conventional military forces within  days or weeks, causing millions of civilian deaths in  its wake , the ongoing unconventional  and “assymetric’  war  would continue for years and likely decades, disrupting oil transit through  the Gulf,  eventually result in the overthrow of the Saudi regime, the disintegration of the Israeli  apartheid state, and the collapse of other US client states in the region  like  Jordan. In the short to medium  term, a victory  against  Iran by the  mediaeval  mysoginist  Sunni Salafists  running Saudi Arabia  would also likely result in incalculable suffering to the millions of Shi-ites in  the region.

But, despite all  facts to the contrary, US Secretary of State John Kerry once again has  supported Israel’s war rhetoric against Iran at a meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres in East al-Quds (Jerusalem) on Monday.

“No option is off the table. No option will be taken off the table. And I confirmed you Mr. President that we will continue to seek a diplomatic solution, but our eyes are open, and we understand that the clock is moving,” Kerry stated.

While it is undoubtedly true to most Western observers that  the Iranian state  is an autocratic,  religious based entity that uses executions and torture to control its adversaries, the same can of course be said for its US adversary, the Israeli state against its Palestinian population,  and the Saudi   hereditary  dictatorship. Additionally, Iran’s democratic  institutions are, from  a Western cultural perspective, far in  ‘advance’ of anything in  the Western backed Gulf states across the Gulf. Women’s rights are also largely guaranteed in Iran, in contrast to the misogynist  laws and values across the Gulf.

The only reason therefore  why  the West  continues to threaten  Iran, is that it represents an alternative, independent,   third way   of international power and relations  in  a region  where Western predominance is vital to  maintain the flow of oil to  the West (despite the hype about shale oil) ,  and  a potential  threat  to the continued existence of a “western”  Israeli  entity artificially planted in  a sea of Arab  and Persian nationalism.

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Postscript:

Glenn Greenwald’s Podcast discussion with two of America’s leading Iran experts: the Leveretts

Two former officials of the US National Security State become the most vocal critics of US policy toward Tehran…

Or read the Leverett’s take on  the issues directly here at  Consortium News

Note their attendance at  a student seminar with  Noam  Chomsky  at MIT  on Tuesday May  14th  here

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The Elephant in the Room: Militarism

by Jeff Cohen

I spent years as a political pundit on mainstream TV – at CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. I was outnumbered, outshouted, red-baited and finally terminated. Inside mainstream media, I saw that major issues were not only dodged, but sometimes not even acknowledged to exist.

 

Mad Sad & Bad North Korea

In the usual  run-up of propaganda stories for countries that are deemed “rogue”, “crazy” or just “not like us”, and therefore worthy of bombing and invading or simply dismantling, we have the latest BBC interview with  an  “undercover”  reporter who  recently  “infiltrated” North Korea http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22003715 and describes it as “mad, sad and bad”. Perhaps if the “journalist” had taken the time to read a little history, he might have had a somewhat  different view of North Korea and its motivations and fears. (It should be noted that the “undercover” journalist  went on a London School of Economics education tour of North Korea, as prescribed by  North Korean authorities; but obviously sufficient for the journalist to make informed sweeping judgements of all  things North Korean!)

Korea’s recent history might be seen  to begin with the invasion by the  Japanese in  1910,  as part of their bid to become a colonial power.  The  annexation of Korea was to last for 35  years until  the defeat of the Japanese in the second world war. It is noteworthy that  neither the invasion of Korea nor China by  the Japanese  raised any protests in  the Western world until Western interests  were threatened. The annexation was brutal,the Korean language was outlawed,  many thousands of  Koreans were tortured and murdered.  During the  war with China and the western countries, Koreans were drafted into the Japanese army and  worked in slave-like conditions.  The Japanese military kidnapped thousands of Korean girls and women and forced them to serve as ‘comfort women’ to be continuously raped by Japanese soldiers. Japan continues to deny responsibility for this brutality. Korean communists,   supported by  the communist  Chinese, fought a guerrilla war  against  the Japanese occupation.

Bruce Cumming’s 2010  book “The Korean War”  states that ” Among the most important things to understand about North Korean behavior then and now, is the longtime enmity between Korea and Japan. Japan took Korea as a colony in 1910, with America’s blessing, and replaced the Korean language with Japanese. Japan humiliated and brutalized Korea in other ways. (During World War II the Japanese Army forcibly turned tens of thousands of Korean women into sex slaves known as “comfort women.”) About this history Mr. Cumings writes, “Neither Korea nor Japan has ever gotten over it.”

North Korea, thus remains virulently anti-Japanese; both bitter and fearful of that country and of the United States. It will do whatever it can to stay out of the clutches of South Korea, whose leaders have long-standing historical ties to Japan.

With  the end of the second world war hostilities, Korea was divided up by the victors, without any consultation with  Koreans, with  Russia taking control  to the 38th  parallel  from the North,  and the Americans administering the southern part of Korea.  Divisions between the two “administrations”  increased, with the Americans firstly re-appointing the hated Japanese administrators in  South Korea and the Russians assisting communist   Kim Il Sung to  come to power. Later  in  the south, the Americans facilitated  the “election” of the right-wing dictator Syngman Rhee to power. See Jay Janson’s analysis of how Syngman Rhee came to power, and other US actions in Korea  over the intervening years till the present day, here

Supported logistically by  both  the Chinese communists and the Russians, and after various provocations and skirmishes from both sides, Kim il Sung launched a war to unite the two  Korean entities on 25th  June 1950. After an initial  successful  attack  on South Korean and American troops which  resulted in  the capture of Seoul and positions further south, the North Koreans were pushed back by American troops .  As a result of  a Russian boycott  of the UN, the Americans were able to obtain  a UN mandate to militarily secure the whole of Korea. However as they approached the Chinese border in October 1950 with the likely intent of invading China , Chinese army battalions staged a series of  surprise attacks, which  sent the ‘UN” troops south in retreat-ultimately ending in  a bloody stalemate.

The American Public Broadcasting  Service (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/bomb/peopleevents/pandeAMEX58.html) notes that  “The human cost of the war was catastrophic. In the first month of their operation alone, the Strategic Air Command groups dropped 4,000 tons of bombs. Besides high explosives, the bombers used napalm. In retirement, Curtis LeMay (a general in the US Air Force in Korea) described the devastation saying, “we eventually burned down every town in North Korea… and some in South Korea too. We even burned down [the South Korean city of] Pusan — an accident, but we burned it down anyway.” Estimates of the casualties vary widely, but there is reason to believe that besides the three and a half million military dead, wounded and missing on both sides, more than two million civilians died in North Korea.

While there were numerous atrocities committed by  the North Koreans during the war, the scale of their brutality pales in  comparison  to that inflicted by  the American, South Korean  and other UN troops. Cummings (2010) notes that  “There is no evidence in the North Korean experience of the mass violence against whole classes of people or the wholesale ‘purge’ that so clearly characterized Stalinism”.

Pyongyang

Pyongyang after the “U.N.” fire-bombing

In contrast  to the North Koreans and Chinese and Russians,  the Americans, British  and Australians  carpet-bombed the north for three years with next to no concern for civilian casualties.” The United States dropped more bombs in Korea (635,000 tons, as well as 32,557 tons of napalm) than in the entire Pacific theater during World War II. Our logic seemed to be,  that they are savages, so that gives us the right to shower napalm on innocents.” Cummings (2010)

Japan in Focus: (http://www.japanfocus.org/-Tessa-Morris_Suzuki/3444) notes that -”11 July 1952: the day when US, British, Australian and South Korean planes flew 1,254 bombing sorties and dropped 23,000 gallons of napalm on Pyongyang and its inhabitants. 29 August 1952: the day when the number of sorties reached 1,403, and around 6,000 citizens of the capital were killed.15 The bombardment of Pyongyang ended a few days later, when the US command decided that there was too little left in the city to justify the effort of attack.16 By then, 80% of the city’s buildings were in ruins.”

The  complete inhumanity of American forces in  Korea defies belief.

Now,  more and more evidence is coming out about the  American’s use of biological  weapons against  the North  Korean  population

The armistice agreement was signed  on July 27th  1953 at the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)  on the 36th  parallel.   Article IV of the armistice promised, “within three months higher level meetings would be held to settle through negotiation the question of withdrawal of all foreign forces and peaceful settlement.” Those high level meetings never materialised because the Americans did not accept the outcome of the war.

The Ubuntu  Works Peace Education Project: (http://www.uwpep.org/Index/KOREAN_WAR.html) notes that  this did not happen ‘because the U.S. refused to meet, despite requests over the years by the North Koreans to meet anywhere and anytime. Over fifty years later the troops remain and no peace treaty has been signed. South Korea never even signed the armistice agreement. The 1953 cease-fire agreement provided that both sides “shall not engage in any blockade of any kind of Korea.” This binding agreement appears to be violated by the U.S. conduct to intercept and discourage the transport of goods, food and other materials to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea).” Note that sanctions have been in place by  the US and its proxies since December 1950 and are the likely predominant cause of a series of mass starvations in the North Korean countryside over the intervening years.

This lack of good faith bargaining by  the United States has continued to this day. As just one example,  Wendy Sherman, Clinton’s advisor on North Korea, had indicated that when they entered into the famous Agreed Framework of 1994, wherein the North Koreans would be trading their nuclear capability for two light water reactors and fuel oil, and in exchange for working toward normalizing political and economic relations, the Administration had no intention of complying with the agreement. The Clinton Administration believed the Kim Jong Il administration would collapse long before the U.S. had to provide the reactors. This lack of good faith in international relations surrounding a matter of such importance to the world would be against the common law if the breach of promises were between private parties.- Ubuntu Works-Peace Education Project

America continues to maintain more than  24   military bases across South Korea, while neither the Chinese nor Russians have any in  the North. The US presence  is both in defiance of the armistice agreement of 1953, and a constant provocation  and threat to  the North Koreans.

Since the ascension of Kim Il Jung to  the leadership  of North Korea, the Americans and South Koreans have staged numerous war-games,  with the March 2013 “Foal Eagle”  war games simulating nuclear bombing runs over North Korea in an apparent attempt to  de-stabilise the new leadership.

As Peter Hart at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting points out at  http://www.fair.org/blog/2013/04/03/north-korea-rattles-sabres-meanwhile-u-s-pretends-to-drop-nuclear-bombs-on-them/, North Korea’s ‘sabre rattling” is directly attributable to the recent rash  of menacing war games and threats of pre-emptive strikes from the South Korean and US military war games.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/mar/19/us-b-52-bombers-simulated-raids-over-north-korea-d/

I leave you  to determine who  then is the “mad, sad and bad ” one.

Its time for  the United States to  stop the constant war games,  lift  the sanctions, and start  to negotiate with North Korea in  good faith

As Martin Luther King Jr. said “Violence begets violence…and its aftermath is tragic bitterness.”

It is way  past time to  call  the United States and its ‘allies”  in  the war  against North Korea,  to  account for the genocide and years of atrocities they have committed.

Nothing short of the necessary  trillions of dollars in  reparations ,  and a full and abject apology to  North Korea,  should suffice.

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Postscript:

https://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n10/bruce-cumings/a-murderous-history-of-korea

CIA Document Suggests U.S. Lied About Biological, Chemical Weapon Use in the Korean War

“A real flood of bacteria and germs” — Communications Intelligence and Charges of U.S. Germ Warfare during the Korean War

Saber Rattling in Korea-Cui Bono

Escalating Korea Crisis Dims Hopes for Denuclearisation by Jim Lobe

View at Medium.com

via IPS News

Of particular interest is Jim Lobe’s commentary from  Alan Romberg, a former senior State Department Asia expert who currently heads East Asia programmes at the Stimson Center,…who  pointed … to the adoption by the North’s Supreme People’s Assembly Monday of a new law on “consolidating the position of nuclear weapons state for self-defence” which laid out the legal framework for the country’s nuclear strategy.

Among other provisions, the new law states that the main purpose of the North’s nuclear weapons is for deterrence and that they can be used only to “repel invasion or attack from a hostile nuclear weapons state and make retaliatory strikes.” It also provides for cooperation with international non-proliferation and disarmament efforts.

With all sides seeming to climb further up the escalatory ladder over the last several days, defusing the ongoing crisis on the Korean Peninsula — let alone persuading Pyongyang to give up its nuclear arsenal as it once promised to do — looks daunting…read the rest here

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← Fear and Torture in Iraq

All Options On the Table →


And the demonisation of North Korea goes on… 25/4/16

http://news.antiwar.com/2016/04/24/obama-spurns-north-korea-offer-to-suspend-missile-program/

It is becoming increasingly evident that US policy  towards the Korean  peninsula peoples has  always been to use whatever means necessary  to  create a hostile environment on China’s borders. As it was in  1955, the intent is to  create  a Korean  US vassal  state  that   will  permit the positioning of  U.S.  nuclear and conventional  weapons on China’s borders.. see this recent Brics report

Moon of Alabama notes  that recent evidence has also  been unearthed of large-scale experimentation with  biological    warfare against  the Korean population during the war. Read also  Jeffrey  Kaye’s detailed analysis of the Allies’  biological  warfare against  the North Korean population during the Korean War.

The destruction of all  infrastructure in  North Korea, and particularly hydroelectric dams  by the Americans also  caused a horrific human toll.

 

Fear and Torture in Iraq

A ‘restrained”  news article  by  Ian Cobain in  the Guardian entitled  “Camp Nama: British personnel reveal horrors of secret US base in Baghdad” explores in a little detail,  what was known to every  “allied’  soldier  during the invasion and demolition of Iraq; that systematic  brutal  torture was ( and in  Afghanistan -’is’) being  used by  the invaders to attempt to  extract information from  Saddam sympathisers , and subsequently Sunni/Salafist insurgents.

What is surprising is not that it occurred, but that now, somehow, British  soldiers are now willing and able to confess their supposedly  limited involvement in  this brutality. The report makes clear that  there was an ongoing method  at a senior military  and political  level in the British  to  firstly, avoid any legal  implications of breaching the Geneva Convention, and secondly to  threaten  or  cajole those who attempted to  speak out.

Perhaps there is some misguided belief by  those in  power in the US and UK that enough time has passed for  these abuses to appear as some historical  anomaly.   The reality is that  both UK and US soldiers are well  trained in  viciousness,  brutality and torture to those who  they  see as “other”- whether its the “commies’ in Korea, “charlie’  in Vietnam,  “gooks” or “towel-heads”;  the language is all  the same- to  de-humanise and legitimise inhuman behavior.

What  might be hoped for now  is that  British police will now immediately round up those military officers and politicians who would likely have been party to  this abuse, and put them before a court of law to  be tried as innocent before being proven guilty for complicity in   murder and torture. Is it  going to  happen?…..yeah right…

 

The Syrian Connection

France and the UK are pressing  the EU for approval to   directly arm the Syrian rebels,  and for now, are being rebuffed by  fellow EU members. The reality is that  France (ex-coloniser of Syria and Lebanon)  and the UK  have been  arming and supporting the rebels since the war’s  inception via their “intelligence”  departments; either directly via “discreet”  arms shipments into Turkey and  Jordan by air , or indirectly, via weapons bought and shipped  through  the  hereditary (Sunni) dictatorships in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, with the CIA also mounting extensive weapons distribution and training  programmes inside Turkey and now Jordan.

Why then the EU request for direct  military  assistance of the rebels?. By committing  the formal  military networks that the various EU countries possess, into the war, Britain  and France will be able to seamlessly  pull in  the other European countries into  an ongoing military occupation of Syria/Lebanon to combat the extremist risks they have done so much to create. This will  create yet another combat zone where civilians  will have to subsist in  a land  without the necessary infrastructure of adequate food water and sewage systems to survive-another Palestine, Libya or Afghanistan  in other words. By doing so, it will  deprive the Iranians of one more of their state allies in  the region and one less supporter of a Palestinian state. This  will however also  inevitably lead the two  Shi-ite governments of  Iraq and Iran into closer alliance.

Israel, with its  rascist  government in  some dissaray, is wavering in its support of the rebels; havering between the  risks of having  Salafists on  its borders and having an opportunity to remove one more of its arch-enemies who dares to block its advance into, and occupation of,  “Greater Israel”.

On the other side, Russia is carefully supporting the Assad regime with  “top-up”  armaments and  training, and giving  moral  and tactical support through  its Mediterranean naval  exercises  out of the Russian Tartus naval  base on  the Syrian coast. Similarly Iran appears to be  using its informal military network ; the Iran Revolutionary  Guard or ‘Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution’ (IRGC), with the likely support of Hezbollah, to supply and train the paramilitary and Shi-ite/Alawite units supporting Assad. For now, China appears to be offering moral,  but not much  else, support to  the Assad regime. This is unlikely to change.

Iraq’s Shi-ite  government is also very keen to ensure that the  Salafist  groups (affiliated or not to Al Qaeda) supported by  Qatar and Saudia Arabia, (and rather more directly by  the Western powers than they would care to admit),  do  not gain  a long-term foothold in Syria with unimpeded transport lines to the Arabian peninsula and  Turkey from the Mediterranean and the Muslim entities of the former Soviet Union; thereby significantly  improving their  strategic position in Iraq.

As always, the Western powers are attempting a divide and rule approach; using their long term hereditary  dictatorship Sunni allies of Saudi Arabia, Yemen  and Qatar to  offset  the growing influence and power of the Iranians, and the Shi-ite disaster they created for themselves  in  Iraq. The risks of blowback this time however are even more enormous. The growing salafist influence in the Turkish border region and beyond, the growing  power of the Kurds straddling  so many different  ‘middle east’  countries,  the potential for a massive upswing in  Sunni versus Shite violence in Iraq, let alone the potential  overthrow  of the current Iranian theo-demo-cracy  with something unknown and likely more radical, has the potential  to lead to  the establishment of a real Salafist caliphate in  the region; with all its violent, expansionist medieval and misogynist  cultural impacts, and a  real “clash of civilizations” with the West.

Such would be the delight of the neo-conservatives!

And just  to make things slightly more complex!- it would appear the power balance is swinging-as the current desperate gas shortage in  freezing  temperatures in  the UK demonstrates. The  oil/gas-rich Sunni  dictatorships are acquiring considerably more leverage in  cash-strapped Western states then ever before, even while their own societies implode.

Postscripts:

Read Moon of Alabama’s current relatively considered take on  the Syrian  situation  here

Or Tony Cartalucci’s more radical  view of the  weapons shipments issues here  calledCONFIRMED: US Shipping Weapons to Syria – Al Nusra’s “Mystery” Sponsors Revealed

Or  Henry  Precht  at Lobe Log’s “Syrias civil war and its unintended consequences”

http://www.lobelog.com/syrias-civil-war-and-its-unintended-consequences/

 

 

We are all Immigrants

This post is prompted by  a comment on  Facebook  saying (paraphrasing); those who are truly English or Scottish should stop allowing new immigrants into “our”  country (the UK).

I am reminded that I too am  an immigrant,; some of my family immigrated to these southern isles  from far-off England and Scotland more than 150  years ago, but I am in  native Maori terms,  still not tangata whenua (people of the land).

Should we all then return to our “homelands”,  wherever they may be?  My guess is that  there would be none of the   current population of people living in  the United Kingdom , much of Europe and almost none in the United States if that  was the case. The reality is that  homo sapiens have always been wanderers, moving from place to place, from continent to continent, island to island, since we first walked on our hind legs.

Our little world
                     Our little world

 

These  borders that define the countries of the world, the pretty colours on the globe of the world, are simply fictional; defined for those who  need to collect  taxes,  define what  is “right” and “proper”, or control others in  so many  ingenious ways.

Don’t get me wrong, any Illuminati, Bilderberg  Group , or other global  world conspiracies, real or otherwise, are fortunately doomed to fail.  The incompetence, venality and sheer  stupidity of those who  attempt ultimate power is a salutary lesson to  the species.

But, when it comes down  to it; we are all just  visitors on  this little blue ball.  Lets all look after it-together.

 

 

Kill Anything That Moves: Vietnam and beyond

Peter van Buren of the Huffington  Post  reviews Nick Turse’s latest book Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam

Sadly, van  Buren’s parting lines are not about the  millions of tortured, raped,  and murdered civilians of that trail of “dark skinned’ countries the US has invaded over the past 50 years; it is commiseration for those few hundred thousand US soldiers who have been put  in “impossible”  environments  by those in the “highest seats of power”.

As van Buren notes: The issue is not so much how/when/should we assign blame and punishment to an individual soldier, but to raise the stakes and ask: why have we not assigned blame and demanded punishment for the leaders who put those 19-year-old soldiers into the impossible situations they faced? Before we throw away the life of a kid who shot when he should not have done so, why don’t we demand justice for those in the highest seats of power for creating wars that create such fertile ground for atrocity? The chain of responsibility for the legacy left behind in our wars runs high.

Every one of those soldiers had the opportunity to refuse to fight; every one of those soldiers had the opportunity to  refuse to commit atrocities- but failed to do so. The responsibilities for murder and massacre run at all levels of our white-skinned colonial  societies. The assumptions of superiority, of “rightness” and ultimately simply pure racism, are endemic at every level of  Western society.  They  are our sins which  cannot be absolved, and  for which we are likely to pay dearly once the tables are turned in  another decade or two, when  western economies will no longer rule the world and determine the ‘game’.

Even now, almost forty years after the end of the Vietnam war, the US government and most of  it’s  citizens,  refuse to  acknowledge the massive war crimes of at  least  a million Vietnamese deaths carried out by  the US in the name of rolling back  a fictional  red tide of asian dominos, through carpet bombing, chemical  warfare and systemic atrocity after atrocity.

It is time for all  countries to acknowledge that  for us all to live peaceful fulfilled  lives on  a sustainable  planet, that  we have no rights to control other human beings to behave in the way  we think they  “should” behave through force-nor indeed any  rights of force over any  other species on this planet.

_________________________________________________________________________
Postscript:

40 years on, Laotians tell of US war legacy  By MATTHEW PENNINGTON | Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Forty years after the secret U.S. bombing that devastated Laos, heirs to the war’s deadly legacy of undetonated explosives are touring America to prod the conscience of the world’s most powerful nation for more help to clear up the mess.

Note the casual throwaway  line ” The U.S. dropped 2 million tons of bombs on Laos over a nine-year period up to 1973 — more than on Germany and Japan during World War II.”

World’s Most Evil and Lawless Institution? The Executive Branch of the U.S. Government- Alternet by  Fred Branfman

http://www.alternet.org/investigations/executive-branch-evil-and-lawless

Executive Branch leaders have killed, wounded and made homeless well over 20 million human beings in the last 50 years, mostly civilians.

June 26, 2013  |

America has a secret. It is not discussed in polite company or at the dinner tables of the powerful, rich and famous.