Laurent Fabius: The Little Lion of Syria

Now that  Assad’s government in Syria has agreed to hand over supervision of its chemical  weapons to the United Nations, some of the wind in the sails of the West’s determination to  attack Syria has dissipated.

Damascus in Flames1926
Damascus in flames as a result of the French air raid on 18 October 1925
http://schools-wikipedia.org/wp/d/Damascus.htm

Yet France and its Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius are determined to  ensure that  a military strike remains likely, with  France’s tabling of a UN resolution that   would require “serious consequences” if the chemical  weapons handover was not completed according to  UN  requirements  or on  time.  Currently it is unclear what  is motivating Fabius’ need to  be the leader of the dogs of war against  Syria.  It is possibly some attempt by  the Socialist  government to  regain  some political support in  France-although every French   poll is indicating that   French  involvement in  Syria would have the entirely opposite effect.  Or is it an  attempt to  revive the glories of colonial  France by re-bombing Damascus all over again , as it did in  1925-26 when those dark-skinned natives dared to  fight for their own freedom  from  their French  oppressors?

Or is it simply a matter of cash?,   as  Wayne Madsen  reports  for Iranian  Press TV, where he states that  the Saudi Arabian spy chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al  Saud has been spending large amounts of Saudi  oil  money to  “pay off” key members of the US Senate and House leadership  as well as key  ministers of the French  government.

It may  also be that   Fabius’  war-mongering,  like the UK foreign minister’s  William Hague’s foreign policy decisions,  appear  wholly  based on  unconditional support for the Israeli  state and its expansion.  Hague the UK Foreign  Minister , who , in an interview with the Israeli website YNetNews describes himself as  “a natural friend of Israel”.  Any actions that  turn Shi-ite against  Sunni in the countries surrounding Israel  have to be,  they reason, good for Israel.

Its my guess, that  Al Qaeda think  otherwise…

What is certain is that  “Western” bombing of Syrian  infrastructure will  cause  even  greater suffering than  Syrians from  both  sides  are experiencing now. The experience of Libya in the last Western  bombing campaign, is sadly  illustrative.  And what  should by  now be evident to  anyone  is that bombings or cruise missiles are not “precision targeted’  despite the hype .  They frequently make errors both in  their electronic targetting and,  as is so often  the case, the targeting coordinates are  based on  unreliable inadequate or false information.

Turkey, Saudi Arabia,Qatar, the UK, France and the US have been steadfast  that there should be no  negotiations while Assad is in  power;  in  other words,  that  Assad’s forces will have to be defeated first before there are “negotiations”!-these are not the principles of those who  espouse peace and reconciliation- what  they appear to  want is the destruction of the Syrian  state, with their pundits arguing ( as they have  done in Iraq) that  Syria must be broken up into  its constituent sectarian geographies. Such  a breakup, (largely fomented by  those outside powers themselves) will  certainly not benefit the Syrian  citizens of those enclaves,  but will  certainly benefit  Israel (in the short term) and Saudi Arabia’s salafist mercenaries.

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Links

Moon of Alabama covers many of the issues regarding how a chemical  weapons transfer might occur.

A very  French (and implausible) take on  French  jingoism  for war  in Syria

The Predator from the West

Everywhere you look  in  mainstream Western media you see the utter “reasonableness’ of our need to  destroy  this or that country because it is evil  and isn’t democratic or reasonable enough.

History tells us  a different story,  but for some reason,  we choose to ignore it. The recent non-revelation of the CIA and UK  ‘intelligence” community’s  overthrow of the democratically elected prime minister Mossaddegh of Iran, beginning on  19th August  1953 once again  highlights what  the Wikipedia  entry aptly describes as the ongoing “grubby” adventures by these two  states.  Foolishly, Mossaddegh’s  government had  voted to  nationalise the  UK “owned’  oil fields production in  Iran and so Mossaddegh  and Iran  had to pay the price-  a lifetime of imprisonment and the re-installation of the brutal  pretend-King of Persia -the Shah.

The UK and France’s ongoing adventure in  Syria is another such  example of history repeating itself, where the so-called socialist  president of France, Hollande is salivating at  the mouth  with the opportunity to  once again invade their old colony under the pretense of protecting its  inhabitants ( identical  story  to last time), and the evil little UK Foreign  Minister  Hague will do  absolutely anything to please his  Israeli  masters. Funding and supporting Al Qaeda is absolutely not a   problem  to  Hollande and Hague and Obama -as it was no  problem for the US in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation. Read a great  account of the French aerial bombing of Damascus  in 1925  and again  in  1926. The US has a 60  year history of conflict  with Syria, as noted by  Adam Curtis in  his wonderful  blog, “The Baby and the Baath  Water.”

In  Afghanistan,the US repeats the old adventures played out by  its now junior ally,  “Great  Britain”,  in its  nineteenth century wars of 1839-1842,  and 1878-1880 and  then 1919.

Were those wars about peace, justice and  democracy and the rights of women?  Then,  as now, protecting opium  production was one of the driving forces; protecting the  Western  interests who make  huge monies from  addicting and selling  opium  and now heroin to Chinese, Russians or any other brutalised public.

Protecting  Western  oil  interests and profits  is of course, the other game; a game that heavily relies on Israel  forming a “western”  buttress against  the Arab hordes revolting against  the ‘masters and betters’. Hence the less than subtle tacit  support for the Egyptian  Army generals and their counter-revolution,  and the West’s unconditional  support for the Wahhabi  extremist fiefdoms in  Saudi Arabia  Qatar and the UAE.

“The celebrated anthropologist Clifford Geertz has half-jokingly suggested that all  states can be parceled into four types: pluralist, in  which the state is seen by  its people as having moral  legitimacy;  populist, in  which government is viewed as an  expression of the people’s will’; “great beast” in which the ruler’s power depends on  using force to keep  the populace cowed,  and “great fraud” in  which  the elite uses smoke and mirrors to  convince the people of its inherent authority” – 1491- New Revelations of the Americas”: Charles C Mann.   I leave you to  judge  which  of those categories of statehood the UK and US fit into.

The problem with all of these Western adventures is that they benefit only a tiny minority of the UK and US populations;  the very  very  rich (or the less then ‘one-per cent’) , with the trickle-down effects to  the British  and US wider public  negligible. The process can only continue while those publics can continue to be propagandized into  believing that these wars and adventures are about peace democracy  and justice and stopping evil  terrorists blowing us all up..

The desperation of those in  power  and their mercenary backers can be seen in the massive state investment   in  knowing what  everyone is writing and saying online and on the phone  and the need to silence  any whistleblowers quickly.

Time is running out for the predators.

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Links

An  excellent analysis  of the impacts of interventionism in Libya   from  the Belfer Institute by Alan  Ku[perman

Counterpunch http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/08/23/manning-snowden-and-the-u-s-coup-in-iran/

The War on Democracy

Universal male and female adult suffrage is a relatively recent phenomenon -in a nation  state it first occurred in  1893 in New Zealand . Adult male suffrage ( regardless of property rights)  first occurred in  republican France in  1792.  Universal  suffrage  (including blacks ) was only  enforced in US Federal elections from  1965.  The above dates clearly indicate true universal  suffrage really only  becoming the accepted norm in  recent times in the Western world, let alone globally.

Democracy  in  a given geographical catchment  works most fairly where voters have similar  views and shared identities  (ie  in a nation-state composed of numerous well-defined minorities, only the majority group  will  consider its interests are represented by  ruling governments unless coalitions of minorities are formed). Where there are long-standing minorities in  a given electoral catchment,  resentment and exclusion  naturally follow .

Additionally in  the last 10 years with the advent of the internet  and the fictional  “War on  Terror”,  a new set of issues, both constraining and enabling  democracy, have arisen.

The capacity of private citizens to  find  truthful information on  government decisions and responses has markedly improved  over the last 10 years with the  rise of the internet,  justifiably causing the credibility of most Western politicians to be tarnished as their ongoing epidemic of  lying and posturing  is exposed.

In addition, Western state’s and private corporate’s attack on general elections in  the past few years  in   countries such  as Iran, the Russian Federation and the celebrated colour revolutions of Eastern Europe, have now enabled any electorally defeated opposition  party to claim   fraud and vote rigging and to “legitimately ” resort to  revolution  on the streets ; the principles of majority vote rules are now significantly undermined . This  democratic  revisionism has now also been exacerbated by the West’s recent tacit support  for the Egyptian  Army’s coup  against Egypt’s legitimately elected government .

On top of that , the US and UK security apparatuses and other “democratic ” state apparatus’  insistence on  total knowledge  of their citizens’  online and phone conversations,  is a further deliberate malign attempt to  ensure that only  those who currently have the power and money are able to  circulate their view of the world  to the voters, thereby  attempting to maintain the “status quo”;  somewhat in  opposition to  true democratic  principles.

Democracy  may or may  not be, to paraphrase Churchill, the least worst alternative method of government representation, but the cracks are surely showing…

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Links

http://katieandmartin.wordpress.com/2010/09/03/a-brief-history-of-universal-suffrage/

Another round of negotiations for peace between Israel and “Palestine”- sigh

Richard Falk in his blog article, Reviving the Israel-Palestine Negotiations: The Indyk Appointment notes one of many absurdities in  this current round of “peace negotiations” between Israel  and the Palestinian  Authority,  brokered by  the U.S., is the US appointment of the chief negotiator, Martin Indyk. Martin Indyk, Falk notes, is a “former ambassador to Israel (1995-97; 2000-01), onetime AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) employee, British born, Australian educated American diplomat, with a long list of pro-Israeli credentials.” Hardly what might be described as an independent arbiter

As www.jadaliyya.com display in their simple but effective poster on the displacement of the Palestinian peoples since 1948 by Israeli soldiers and gunmen, by 2008, more than 5.3 million Palestinians were living in enforced exile, often in extreme conditions of hardship. Those who remain in the ghettos of the West Bank and Gaza, imprisoned behind ever higher Israeli concrete walls and for Gazans, facing increasing limitations to their access to food, medicine and the basic necessities of life, by the illegal Israeli blockade. In addition, thousands of Palestinian political prisoners are imprisoned in Israel for their rightful attempts to   break a savage illegal occupation, or like the hundreds of young children imprisoned and often tortured, maybe threw a stone or two against an Israeli soldier or settler.

This is no round of equal party negotiations; this is negotiations between one all powerful  (and totally supported in  every way by  the “independent arbiter”  the U.S.) and the Palestinian  agency  which  has no  democratic legitimacy with its own people (Hamas does)  and which  has absolutely no negotiating leverage.

Falk also notes that “John Kerry, the U.S. Secretary of State, whose show this is, dutifully indicated when announcing the Indyk appointment, that success in the negotiations will depend on the willingness of the two sides to make ‘reasonable compromises.’” One might ask what further compromises the Palestinians may  be asked to make;  having lost almost all  their land, hundreds of thousands of lives, the loss of a  state entity and thousands of their “citizens’  in  Israeli  prisons.  All the while, Israel continues to expand with more settler housing into the occupied territories, destroying more Palestinian homes and orchards and creating more Palestinian refugees. 

Peace in Palestine, if it can be obtained, must surely require the just settlement of past wrongs and the creation of a stable, sustainable and just society for the inhabitants of that region. In my view, some elements of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission model, along with the reconciliations (and compensations) achieved via New Zealand’s Waitangi Tribunal for indigenous Maori, will achieve that goal.

This model translates, in the land of Palestine, to compensation for lands misappropriated by Israeli Jews, compensation for the deaths and torture of Palestinians and Israelis since the Nakba , and equal status for all citizens, whether Jewish, Muslim or any other religious or ethnic identity who currently inhabit those lands – in other words –  a single state solution. A peace settlement requires a just settlement.

In every way, these current negotiations, as all the previous peace negotiations have been, are both a farce and tragedy.

 OsloPalestine

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Links

Reviving the Israel/Palestine negotiations: the Indyk Appointment– Richard Falk

Choosing Martin Indyk to Lead the Israel Palestine Peace Talks is a Disaster – Policy Mic

Former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk to oversee talks with Palestinians –  The Guardian

John Kerry’s Doomed Peace Process-Foreign Policy in Focus

 Two-state IIlusion-New York Times Opinion  by Ian Lustick

 

Democracy/Hypocrisy in Egypt

 So by now it should be clear to every  Western  and Arab citizen, that  western  governments don’t support the will of the majority; otherwise known as democracy-they  support “their man”.

The removal  of Mohammed Morsi  as the legitimately elected President of Egypt by  the US funded  Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of Egypt, Abdul Fatah al-Sisi, on the 3rd July after one year in office, with  scarcely a murmur of concern from  any Western  “democracy” is indicative of the contempt the governing Western powers have for the will  of the people.

It can  certainly be argued that  Morsi , whose Muslim Brotherhood renaissance was largely funded by  Qatar, did not deliver on  the promises he made in  the pre-election process last  year.  However if that rule of thumb for instituting a  coup  were to be used against  every  democratically elected leader in  this world, there would be  few remaining in  power after their first year in   office!

Certainly  Morsi  changed his political  agenda frequently  over the past year based on  the  likelihood of funding becoming available from the US or Saudi Arabia or Qatar. But again, if that yardstick  were used against elected leaders  to  define legitimacy,  there are currently  few “un-bought” leaders in  democracies who  would pass that  measure.

Dodge
Dodge van

Don’t get me wrong , I am not an apologist for any kind  of religious based political agenda; whether Christian, Buddhist Muslim or any other sectarian  view of the world. By definition, those sectarian  views breed intolerance,  fear, hypocrisy and violence. But then  again  we have many apparently non religious Western leaders whose non-religious sectarian  views breed that  same intolerance and fear.

No, the most significant  issue is the breathtaking hypocrisy  of those Western leaders who  regularly call  for “democracy”  in  this or that state (usually with some natural  resources they want) ,  but whose agenda is now manifestly clear: ” regime change” is all that matters as long as the new regime is “our”  regime.

Secondly what  is also  breathtakingly clear is the total  corruption and fawning of the mainstream western media to  the powers-that-be.  No  headlines on  why  the UK and US and its European “allies’  are supporting a  military  coup  over democracy,  in what  has been trumpeted for so long as the new democratic “arab spring” ;  no hint of dissonance expressed…..

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Postscript

The Grand Scam: Spinning Egypt’s Military Coup: Exposing the Hypocrisy of ElBaradei and His Liberal Elites-  Counterpunch

Richard Falk’s as always, great  analysis  in his Egypt: Extreme Polarization and Genocidal Politics

 

Everything is secret about us and nothing secret about you…

A  disturbing article by Cyrus Safdari  of Iran Affairs about the rights of US citizens where ‘state secrets’ just  could be involved…

The (Reuters article on Iran winning legal  battles about blocking the activity  Iranian banks)   article goes on to mention the procedure used in the UK to present classified information as evidence in the court whilst minimizing the risk of disclosure by allowing the judge to see the “secret’ evidence privately. In this case the judge was apparently not terribly impressed by the quality of this evidence since he still ruled in favor of Iran.

The US has a similar procedure ( limited to criminal prosecutions) but I don’t know if any such lawsuits in US court would be as successful, for a variety of reasons not the least of which is the State Secrets Privilege, which once invoked by the govt has the effect of ending all lawsuits because the govt can prevent the disclosure of any evidence during the trial that it claims would risk exposure of national security secrets. All the govt lawyers have to do is say “State Secrets Privilege” and usually that’s the end of the case since crucial information is then prevented from being considered by the court.

Tilly the kitten
Tilly the kitten

 

Tilly the kitten

Read the rest here

And a wonderful  little piece  here by  Peter Lee at  Asian  Times Online  about three earlier NSA whistleblowers and what  Snowden  can expect in  terms of US justice..

And a lovely piece by  William Pfaff on  the US’s indefatigable attempts to  undermine the rule of international  law here

Or read that  always acerbic Australian  John Pilger here on ‘Understanding the Prism leaks is understanding the rise of a new fascism’

Or, another great cutting article about secrecy and  corporatism  from  Arthur Silbur entitled  “Intelligence, Corporatism, and the Dance of Death”

Or an  erudite article on Snowden by David Bromwich at  London Review of Books

Or this great little article by  Digby  at  Hullabaloo analysing  what  is already  very  clear:-that  these “spymasters” are about as incompetent and basically just  as stupid  as you can possibly  imagine..

Or this authoritative article on  international  law by  Richard Falk  entitled Misreading the Snowden Affair

This post is a revised and modified version of an essay published as an Op/Ed two days ago by Al Jazeera English; it attempt to reflect on the significance of the Snowden disclosures, and why governments did not rebuff the American efforts to take Snowden into custody as an accused criminal by the simple assertion that ‘political crimes‘ should never be the subject of cooperative inter-governmental efforts to achieve the enforcement of criminal law in a foreign country. The world benefits from the safety valve of such sanctuary, as does the country that is seeking to arrest and punish the whistleblower even if most of its leaders and opinion makers do not realize this.

An interesting Wikipedia note on Russ Tice, NSA whistleblower in  2005, who  noted  the very  same issues that  Snowden refers to. ( note that Tice’s allegations were dismissed by the Inspector General , who  stated in  an unclassified report that found “no evidence” to support Tice’s claims.[4]

 

False Flaggers

The Boston killings are just one of so many examples over the past 10  years since 9/11 of terrorist  activities on Western soil which have pre-existing strong links to  “intelligence”  services. Actually the term ‘Intelligence Services’ is rather an oxymoron, given that those intelligence officers are the ones who  want to play  James Bond  without any normal civilizational  rules for the good of the  “homeland ” or some other jingoist identity…

And  a passing  reference to Glen Greenwald as to why mass killers using guns   in the US are not  terrorists,   but two  brothers who  apparently put together, and exploded  two ?  (now supposedly eight ) bombs,  are terrorists.

But before you  leap  away muttering about  paranoia and  conspiracy theories, consider the  following historical examples of false flag operations…

The Gulf of Mexico  US battleship Maine’s explosion in Havana Harbour in 1898 , likely through   an  accidental bunker fire igniting munitions,  was later used as a pretext  for war with Spain; “Remember the Maine,  to hell  with Spain ‘  was the cry.

The Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964, in which  the USS destroyer Maddox opened fire on  two  North Vietnamese torpedo  boats  and was then fired upon  by  the two  small  boats.   The Maddox was approaching Hòn Mê Island, three to four miles (6 km) inside the twelve-mile (19 km) limit claimed by North Vietnam. This territorial limit was not recognized by the United States.  The  captain of the Maddox radioed to say  the Vietnamese were attacking the US warship and  US warplanes were used to attack  the retreating patrol  boats. The incident was subsequently used by  President  Johnson  to escalate the war against  North Vietnamese.

And today, intelligence services in  the Western world have a wealth of opportunities to exploit opportunities for violence using angry young men ( and increasingly women) who  have been marginalized in  the society they currently live in, and see their cultures of origin  destroyed and maligned by  Western governments.  Intelligence operatives are therefore in  a unique position to  justify their own jobs and the weapons manufacturers who  “subsidise” such intelligence communities,  by facilitating   “terrorists” (really just  violent criminals ); in many cases  providing the information on bomb-making,  funding, communications,  physical resources etc to   people  who  are simply angry and naive  and , were it not for the intervention of these government agencies, would remain  simply angry  and frustrated.

See Michael German’s Manufacturing Terrorists article where he reviews journalist Trevor Aaronson’s  The Terror Factory,  which  documents over 171  instances of the FBI creating faux terrorists using sting operations since 9/11.

To complicate matters,  over the past 20 years there has also been an unprecedented rise in  the creation  of predominantly US based private armies funded by  both   state governments and the independently rich  and powerful eg…G4S (the second largest  employer in  the world after Walmart), Blackwater,  The Craft  etc,  along with  a rise in  the private armies of drug-runners and institutionalized  mafia type organisations as can be seen in the  War on Drugs drug-running activities by  CIA operatives (whether independent of the CIA or as part of fund-raising initiatives)  in Central America.

The Craft
The Craft Logo

 

The clear identification of terrorism culprits has therefore been made much harder when a state entity can  deny all  knowledge of the violence committed through  the entrapment of foolish  radicals into violent acts by  private but  government  contracted security forces. It is thus disturbing and revealing  when clearly psychopathic personalities like  Chris Kyle (“famed”  sniper and ex- US Navy SEAL shot and killed in  an ironic twist of fate by another  war  traumatised ex-SEAL)   of  The Craft (US mercenary trainers and deliverers of security, and apparently providers of contracted security to the Boston  Marathon), have as their motto “Despite what  your momma told  you…. violence does solve problems”. Only in  the United States could such an organization be permitted to exist with such  puerile and overtly  violent traits and be contracted to provide security.

While the  paranoid culture of the United States on  both the “left” and right wings have in a few days developed an amazing range of conspiracy theories explaining the reasons for the massacre, it is clear that in  the case of the Boston bombings,  some of the linkages  with State and security agencies are unusual-not least  the fact  that the US appears to be a keen supporter of Chechen fighters in Russia. (Note that  the two suspected Boston bombers are/were Chechen).

However it seems apparent that on the whole, governments and intelligence services exploit existing weaknesses or  violent tendencies of others for their own political and economic purposes, rather than  creating  a terrorism threat from nothing.

That  said, the linkages can be tenuous, as in  the current Canadian case of two young men who it would appear, indulged in some foolish conversations about  how they might like to blow up trains. However the intelligence of the security forces obviously came under a little strain  when they made the implausible accusatory  link (now retracted) between Al Qaeda and Iran -both  of whose Islamic roots are violently anathema to each other. The fact  that the clam  was initially made at all by Canadian  security forces is a wonderful  example of both the intellectual  capacity and the political motivations of those security agencies.

What  is therefore very  clear  is that  state  agencies, their  intelligence arms and the private mercenary  armies operating in  the world often  at their behest, are  absolutely clueless as to the impacts and likely blowbacks from their actions. They  are  quite literally, playing with fire.

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Postscript:

For a more detailed look  at  the CIA/Chechen connection read here

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Links

http://www.parapolitical.com/2013/03/5qr

http://occupynewsnetwork.co.uk/britam-false-flag-hacking-revelations-true-or-false/

http://www.rationalskepticism.org/conspiracy-theories/uk-court-finds-7-7-was-false-flag-secret-service-op-t22412.html

http://www.economist.com/news/international/21566625-business-private-armies-not-only-growing-changing-shape-bullets-hire

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/World/WOR-01-220413.html

US Chechen links http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2013/04/19/usa-the-creator-sustainer-of-chechen-terrorism/#more-19602

http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2013/04/22/boston-terror-preparing-for-the-police-martial-law-state/

http://www.kavkazcenter.com/eng/content/2013/04/21/17675.shtml

http://www.kavkaznews.com/eng/content/2013/04/20/17666.shtml

http://www.naturalnews.com/039981_Boston_marathon_suspects_media_blackout.html

http://thecraft.com/   “Despite what your momma told you.. violence does solve problems”

http://www.blackwaterusa.com/

http://www.g4s.com/en/Who%20we%20are/

http://www.waronwant.org/campaigns/corporations-and-conflict/private-armies/action/17469-take-action-now-to-end-the-impunity-of-private-security-contractors

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“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.