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

 

 

 

 

 

 

This entry was posted in Human Rights, War and Peace. Bookmark the permalink.

 

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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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.