In my ‘neck of the woods’ in New Zealand I am entertained each evening by the propaganda from TVNZ1 -one of our government funded TV channels. In their extensive coverage of the tragedy in Ukraine they somehow fail to mention:
That the Kiev government has been fighting a war with Eastern Ukrainians that they call ‘terrorists’ (or if you’re a neo-nazi, ‘cockroaches’) for 8 years with over 13,000 deaths with active support from NATO; and that Ukrainian shelling of civilian infrastructure in the Donbass is ongoing.
That British, American and German military ‘advisors’ have been training and providing ‘defensive’ weapons to these rabidly anti-Russian groups for those 8 years (and more) (note that there is militarily no such thing as a defensive weapon-anything that makes you safer in war also makes you more capable of fighting offensively)
That civilian casualty figures for the 12 days of war so far are astoundingly low ( 407 in 12 days), in comparison with say America’s ‘shock and awe’ terror campaign in Iraq ( 6,700 deaths in the first 3 weeks)– but noting that every death is a tragedy.
That all the while this hellish Ukraine war is going on, the Americans and the British are actively supporting a decidedly more hellish genocide in Yemen by the Saudis and other gulf states.
That the Russian Army and separatists from the Donbass have now encircled in a ‘cauldron’ the majority of the Ukrainian army in the East.
That the Russians claim to have found evidence of a number of American sponsored Ukrainian biolabs producing germ warfare agents, which the Americans both confess to and deny!
That the Russians claim to have found documental evidence of the Ukrainian Army’s intent to destroy the Donbass separatists in an offensive starting 25h February.
That the maternity hospital in Mariupal had been publicly identified by the Russians as having been turned into a Ukrainian military base 3 days before the shelling by the Russians of the building.
That the Western media’s constant pressure on the Americans and their European allies to implement Zelinsky’s plan for a NATO ‘no fly zone’ over Ukraine would result in shooting war that could easily end in nuclear war. (It would be like America having dog-fights and missile strikes over Canada or Mexico)
I guess TVNZ and the rest of the Western media are just trying to protect me from Russian propaganda- so I really feel quite relieved that I don’t need to know about any of this! Let’s keep it simple after all….
In Europe, the ongoing hype that the Russians are about to invade the Ukraine and massing troops on the border, is mounting, while the Russians report their concerns that the Ukraine Army is poised to attack the semi- autonomous Russian-speaking Ukrainian regions of the Donbass and Lugansk.
The Minsk agreement that was brokered by the Normandy Four Powers (Germany, Russia, Ukraine and France,) in 2015 which established Donbass as a Ukrainian semi-autonomous region, is in practice no longer supported by Ukraine, Germany and France. With the Ukrainian economy deteriorating ever more sharply, Ukrainian President Zelensky is desperate for some salvation. Provoking a ‘little war’ with Russia he supposedly anticipates, will be enough to keep him holding onto power and acquire that much needed support from NATO and the European Union.
What the truth on the ground really is- we may never know, but there is a high probability that the Russians would not want to invade Ukraine and acquire a completely dysfunctional and hostile entity, but would be prepared to militarily support their Ukrainian Russian-speaking cousins if the Ukrainian national army attacked the Donbass.
As has been noted elsewhere, a Russian attack across the Ukrainian border would be the gift to the United States that just keeps on giving- confirmation that Russia truly is that evil rapacious empire they have always been described as in mainstream Western media, and an opportunity to further isolate and sanction Russia and shut down Russian gas supplies to Europe.
The high risk of a wider war does not seem to be factored into Western media and politician’s view of the issues-naturally so for the Americans who can watch the destruction from a distance. However, given that the Russians have put their military on high alert and dispersed their Pacific submarine nuclear fleet from their bases in Siberia- that alone must be causing some concern in Washington.
And to the east, the Americans are continually hyping up the Chinese Communist threat. The ‘Chinese mainlanders are about to invade Taiwan’, they have trampled on human rights in Hong Kong and conducted genocide against Uighurs, let alone the sexual abuse of star tennis players!
China, having eradicated the threat to China/Hong Kong integration without loss of life , Western governments are now desperate to portray the Chinese government’s response to the terrorism by Uighur separatists as a ‘genocide’. Unfortunately for anti-communist religious cranks like Adrian Zenz, the latest ‘leaked reports’ indicate that far from there being ‘genocide’, some of the Chinese government’s concerns relate to Uighurs having a much more favourable policy to permit them to have more children that Han Chinese. The Uighur population has in fact increased at a far higher rate than the Han population over the past few years. The ‘genocide’ argument is a fiction. The need to non-violently suppress the Uighur terrorist violence in Xinjiang, is not.
Former U.S. ambassador Chas Freeman, has an excellent summary of the United States’ duplicitous responses towards Taiwan over the years: for the first 20 odd years after the end of the Chinese Communist/Kuomintang war, unequivocally supporting Taiwan as the real Chinese mainland government, despite being a brutal dictatorship run by the Kuomintang, then pivoting to Communist mainland China to try and split China away from its informal alliance with the Soviet Union, and now recently, once again supporting Taiwan as an independent democratic country that must be defended against the communists. The fact that the Chinese government has repeatedly called for a peaceful reunification of Taiwan with the mainland has been completely ignored by most Western media.
It is however undoubtedly true that China; its economic and military power having expanded hugely over the past 30 years, has become more assertive and wishes to reassert its historical territorial claims in the South China Sea and elsewhere, but there is no reason to believe that Mainland China intends to invade any country, let alone Taiwan, despite all the hype coming out of the United States and Australia.
And finally, the bizarre response to the posts from Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai about her apparent sexual abuse by a senior Chinese Communist Official. The English translation to her original post below indicates that her lover Zhang Gaoli (former Chinese government vice-president), is an unscrupulous and unpleasant man who exploits women, but that her love for him was the driving force of her distress, not a rape allegation. Given that Peng Shuai has been on Zoom video twice with the International Olympic Committee since her post, along with multiple pictures of her at social events , one wonders what it would really take for the Women’s Tennis Association to really really believe she was safe and ok. The impossibility of proving the absence of an allegation, has always been a key ploy of Western propaganda.
And now we have Washington saying they will diplomatically boycott the Chinese winter Olympics because of Uighur genocide etc. Given that the United States (along with the U.K.) is in fact guilty of the most horrendous genocide and human rights abuses of foreign populations over its 200 years of existence; including its more recent barbarities in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen, with millions killed , tortured and displaced, along with its support for some of the most brutal regimes like Saudi Arabia and Israel, it is surprising that a permanent ban and sanctions on all United States’ global activities, and extradition of those multiple U.S. war criminals to the Hague , has not been launched before now.
In addition the United States seeks to demonise the Russians sufficiently so that they can be viewed as a constant threat to democracy. The recent demolition of Russia-gate is just one example where, while the truth of the matter is finally out and no Russians did in fact attempt to undermine any U.S. elections, the smear continues to do its work with the public.
But the world is changing; Western powers no longer have that supreme authority to dictate ‘the truth’ to other countries- much of the world sees the economic benefits of China’s Belt and Road initiative (despite the enormous environmental destruction it causes), and the Russians are a trusted intermediary in many parts of Middle East and beyond.
Nevertheless the colonial ‘white powers”; the U.K. the U.S., Canada, Australia and to a smaller extent New Zealand, will continue to cling to a past where (even if historical reality tells a different story) they are the epitome of truth, democracy, justice and human rights.
Holding on to a past that never was, is a dangerous fiction…
On 3rd September 2021, a Sri Lankan refugee, Ahamed Aathill Mohamed Samsudeen, 32, living in Auckland New Zealand , stabbed 6 people with a knife he had just picked up from a supermarket shelf.
According to later reports the man had been once again seeking asylum in New Zealand for some years, but had been denied because of previous violent actions and an interest in ISIS literature, and had been released from a New Zealand prison 3 years before the attacks.
During the subsequent years from Ahamed’s release, he had been constantly followed by Police when out and about in Auckland, to monitor his actions and keep others safe.
Auckland was in lockdown 4 at the time of the supermarket attack- masks required and no less than 2 metres between people in places like supermarkets. Within hours the New Zealand prime minister was announcing that this was a ‘terrorist attack’, and that the man was known to her. However Ahamed Aathill Mohamed made no known statements about allegiance to ISIS immediately before his death, and no terrorist organization attributed the stabbings to themselves.
The terror, trauma and physical danger to those he attacked is beyond question, and this blog does not in any way endorse his or any other person’s violent behaviour to others.
With 60 seconds of his knifing of 6 people in the supermarket, he was fatally shot 7 times by Police with semi automatic weapons, who had been following him.
Or again the horrendous Mosque shootings in Christchurch in March 2019 where 51 people were killed and 40 injured, by a white supremacist using automatic rifles, the white male was subdued, unharmed, heroically by a police officer.
While we acknowledge that every violent incident is different and must necessarily be handled differently by Police, it does seem strange that a man in an enclosed supermarket aisle with a kitchen knife, could not be subdued without fatal consequences, by a number of police officers who were presumably wearing protective clothing.
Police subsequently noted that their policy is to shoot for the largest body surface area (i.e. the torso) so that they don’t miss the target, but clearly other options than shooting the attacker were possible, or alternatively those seven shots could have immobilised him in that enclosed space, without causing his death.
We know that Ahamed’s life history before his arrival in New Zealand as a young man was incredibly traumatic- witnessing his father being kidnapped and almost killed, and himself being tortured by the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka.
The Spinoff notes that Ahamed ‘had been in New Zealand since 2011 when he arrived on a student visa. He made a claim for refugee status soon after, but was declined. He appealed, and was granted the status the following year. The prime minister said on Friday that his claim was based on a fraudulent document’
We also know that Ahamed had been on remand (i.e. charged with an offence but not convicted in court) in New Zealand for threatening activities for some years before his conviction – during which time he was held in prison, but was not able to access any supports that might have reduced his risk to himself or others because he had at that stage not been convicted and the government was attempting to deport him. Additionally once released from gaol after his conviction, he was constantly tailed by armed Police; actions which would not have helped his fear and paranoia.
It is clear that Ahamed was acutely distressed because of his trauma, but did not receive the necessary supports by New Zealand authorities to reduce the impacts of that trauma and distress. Instead, he was immediately labelled a ‘terrorist’ by the New Zealand prime minister and the New Zealand media after his death, and there was no call for an independent review into his death.
Is it coincidental that 3 violent attacks were handled so very differently by Police; that a dark skinned man could so easily be deemed a terrorist and shot dead, but two white males, despite the acute violence of their attacks, be subdued without fatality?
We are informed that the New Zealand government, in a knee-jerk reaction to this attack, now wants to ‘tighten’ the responses around ‘terrorist activities’. Andrew Geddis has noted that the draft legislation’s proposal, allowing for people to be prosecuted for planning an activity, but not actually executing that plan , is currently an unheard of judicial procedure in New Zealand.
Listen to the University of Otago Peace and Conflict studies debate about the ‘terrorist attack’ below.
We need to acknowledge too, that no act of violence is acceptable; whether it be in a persons’ home, a random attack in public, a terrorist attack, or violence by the state.
The terror of those 2997 killed, and the trauma experienced by those many bereaved and the first responders to the 9/11 attacks in New York in 2001, are very real and still raw. However the barbaric responses to those attacks by the United States and their ‘Coalition of the Willing’, defies both logic and humanity. Millions of people in Arab nations killed, economies and environments ravaged, and thousands tortured or drone murdered, with the rationale being suppression of terrorism, rather than the reality of more arms sales and theft of foreign resources, and the resultant creation of more angry terrorists.
As Chris Hedges notes,those responses are the work of evil killers. The fact that ex President George W Bush can stand up on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and be applauded in Western media for his demonic destruction of Iraq, and Afghanistan, defies belief.
In any sane and just society, such a man ( along with the deranged Tony Blair and their other neoliberal cronies)
would have long ago been locked away for their lifetimes – for the common good.
What we desperately need now is for ex-colonial states like New Zealand, to show global leadership in addressing terror threats, in the absence of leadership from the larger powers.
We need to undertake more research to explore opportunities to better respond to threats of violence, to implement strategies that reduce group and individual threats of terror; through acknowledging the genuine basis of the anger, trauma and fear that created those threats, acknowledging that often our state responses to ‘terror’ threats by ‘others with dark skins’ is a relic of our racist and colonial history, (as witnessed by New Zealand Police’s infamous ‘anti-terrorist’ raids into the Ureweras in 2007); and beginning to treat responses to terror threats as a normal and just and equitable part of our range of enforcement and judicial responses to violence, which respects everyone’s human rights, rather than something that needs to be responded to beyond the normal rule of law.
The last United States and its ‘partners” troops have now left Afghanistan after almost 20 years of futile war with the Taliban.
The chaotic tragedy over the last week of desperate Afghans wanting to leave Afghanistan via Kabul Airport for a better and safer life, is now also over.
In the final few days of the exodus, the Taliban apparently informed United States forces of a likely threat from ISIS Khorasan forces at Kabul Airport. A suicide bomber duly arrived at one of the U.S. entry points to the airport and blew himself up, killing himself, an indeterminate number of Afghans (in the 100s), and 12 U.S. force personnel.
It would appear from Afghan accounts on the ground that the U.S. soldiers in the surrounding watchtowers then panicked and opened fire with automatic fire on the Afghans below- killing at least another 100 people.
Subsequent to the ISIS attack, the U.S. president stated in the usual petulant child-like way of American presidents that, ‘vengeance shall be ours’; rather than a thoughtful and lawful approach to such acts of premeditated murder which act to limit the risks of further attacks.
“To those who carried out this attack … we will not forgive, we will not forget, we will hunt you down and make you pay.”-Joe Biden
Miraculously U.S. forces already knew the location of the planners of the ISIS attack and duly dispatched a drone to kill the planners and further attackers. (why the attackers weren’t arrested or killed before the attack is not explained)
The U.S. subsequently reported (as per usual) that it was ‘highly likely’ that the ISIS K planners and bombers had been killed in the drone attack. Given the history of U.S. drone attacks it is also ‘highly likely’ that those killed were guilty of owning several goats that were coveted by a neighbour who had then reported them as ISIS K combatants to the authorities.
One notes that the images of the vehicle supposedly hit by the subsequent U.S. drone attack show a somewhat burnt out vehicle-not a vehicle with a bomb on board, as claimed by the Americans , which would have disintegrated with the explosion of the ISIS bomb, after the drone missile impact.
Unsurprisingly the ruling Taliban have objected to the U.S. launching drone attacks on sovereign Afghan territory, but any objections by the Taliban will be ignored as the U.S. continues to bomb and drone Afghans that it believes are ‘highly likely’ to be terrorists. Only once the Taliban acquire anti-air missiles ( as the Mujahedeen before them did ) will the scourge of drone warfare be over.
With the elimination of U.S. forces on the ground in Afghanistan, the Taliban are now free to follow up in every corner of the country, the threat that their mortal enemy ISIS, poses to Afghan security.
We know for certain that the United States did indeed facilitate the rise of extremist Wahhabist movements including Al Qaeda across the Middle East-in collaboration with U.K. ‘special’ forces, the Saudis, Turkey and some of the Gulf ministates; initially to confront the Russian forces in Afghanistan in the 1990s, and later to attack any secular government that the American and their ‘partners’ saw as a threat to their control of local resources.
We also know that the Iranians, Syrians and Russians have long complained about the U.S. facilitating the rise and ongoing support of ISIS groups in the Middle East, including the transport by helicopter of ISIS remnants from Syria into Afghanistan, and training and support by the Israelis of ISIS Syrian teams. How true are those statements from the Russians Syrians and Iranians? However we do know that the American’s definition of what they have traditionally called ‘moderate’ jihadists in the Middle East, is not one shared by many.
Despite the calls for an end to the drone murders, it is ‘highly likely’ that the Americans will continue to provide any excuse to continue to “precision’ bomb, drone and assassinate anyone they believe is not in their best economic interests and will support a new Mujahideen to confront the now more moderate ruling Afghan Taliban.
After several years of extreme violence and turmoil across Afghanistan, the Taliban came to power in the late 1990s,
As Consortium News notes: The triumphant Taliban imposed harsh Islamic law on Afghanistan. Their rule was especially cruel to women who had made gains toward equal rights under the communists, but were forced by the Taliban to live under highly restrictive rules, to cover themselves when in public, and to forgo schooling.
The Taliban also granted refuge to Saudi exile Osama bin Laden, who had fought with the Afghan mujahedeen against the Soviets in the 1980s. Bin Laden then used Afghanistan as the base of operations for his terrorist organization, al-Qaeda, setting the stage for the next Afghan War in 2001.
After the 9/11 attacks in New York by Al Qaeda, the Taliban agreed to hand over Osama bin Laden to the United States. However their offer was refused, and instead President Bush launched a war to remove the Taliban from power beginning with a brutal bombing campaign in October 2001
If the purpose of Bush’s Afghan war was not to trap Osama bin Laden – what was the purpose?
The United States had been negotiating with the Taliban for an oil pipeline to traverse Afghanistan from Central Asian oil fields, and appeared to be on relatively good terms with them.
It was only much later that the hype about a humanitarian intervention for women’s rights etc came to the fore in Western media. However this supposed human rights agenda by the United States and the United Kingdom is contradicted by their wholehearted support for the brutal Mujahideen the Saudi regime, and their unconditional support for the Israeli genocidal actions against Palestinians (amongst many other brutal regimes supported and armed by Western governments)
As a Western person I oppose discrimination against any person of any gender or race- however I also oppose the barbaric use of violence to impose one’s will on others we do not agree with- something my country New Zealand has been complicit in along with other Western white countries.
Setting up an indigenous Afghan army funded and trained and managed by foreigners to oppose local people who they may in fact know by tribe or family, and who are trying to defend their country from invasion, was always a recipe for failure. Such troops’ only motivation could be their paycheck, not patriotism for their country: so when the occupation force goes in the dead of night, the money goes with them and the local funded military disintegrate- they have nothing to fight for.
Similarly a ‘democracy’ funded and approved and beholden to an occupying power is not a democracy -it is a mockery of ‘democracy’.- and an extraordinarily corrupt one at that– why else would you pretend to lead your country whilst under an occupying power?
As Marshall Auerback and Patrick Lawrence note in ‘The Scrum’: Ashraf Ghani, (the last of the U.S. appointed Afghan ‘Presidents’) was among the more preposterous creations of the Obama administration, a man who personified our American presumption that we can go around the world making all others in our image without reference to histories, cultures, or political traditions.
We know the colonial occupation forces killed many thousands of civilians (through bombing campaigns, drone murders, the brutal occupation and destruction of villages and people’s homes and the use of torture at Bagram airbase and other locations in Afghanistan- civilian losses that the occupying forces continue to largely deny.
The New Zealand presence in Afghanistan is one more shameful example of our complicity in the United States’ war crimes..
While there will be many in Kabul and other major Afghan cities who have come to enjoy Western values, comforts and the easy money that came with the occupiers, there will be many many more Afghans who are thankful that the brutality and systematic racism of the Western occupying powers is finally at an end.
The lessons other vulnerable countries have learnt from Western occupying powers’ brutal occupation of Afghanistan will not be soon forgotten..
Nor will the boys coming home from that 20 year war be immune to its effects on the psyche..
“One man cannot hold another man down in the ditch without remaining down in the ditch with him.” – Booker T. Washington
That is not to say Afghanistan is going to become some liberal, rights respecting country any time soon: traditional rigid views about women’s rights and other ethnicities and belief systems -particularly in rural areas, are gong to prevail for some time to come. And Sharia law is not exactly a very forgiving dogma; but there are signs that the new Taliban leadership recognise that they will have to adapt to the modern world if they are to be accepted by the wider international community, especially investment from Chinese and other neighbouring countries. Certainly, as of 17th August 2021, the Taliban command have so far largely behaved with honour and discipline for the defeated.
It should also be noted that the Taliban are not ‘terrorists’ and in no way resemble ISIS or the earlier Mujahideen . While they may have sheltered Al Qaeda in the past, they have no record and no stated intent of terrorist actions outside (or within) Afghanistan.
It is time now for the new Afghan government to demand reparations from all those Western occupation governments for the deaths, torture, trauma and misery; and land and property losses of the last 20 years.
Perhaps Westerners could also remember, for the future, that the way for outsiders to encourage change in any other society, is to demonstrate your positive values: your generosity, your honesty, your capacity to forgive and your willingness to listen…
Wars of aggression in Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Iraq and Yemen (let alone their unconditional support for Israel’s slow genocide of the Palestinian people), by the West are indisputably gross human rights transgressions which require the U.N. to demand , on behalf of those populations, compensation from the aggressor. The U.N. is silent….
While Uighur ‘re-education’ camps, which significantly impact on some Uighurs’ human rights, certainly exist in Xinyang (China says these are to reduce the risk of Uighur Muslim extremism and terrorism promoted by Turkey, the Saudis and Western intelligence groups); current evidence tends to suggest that statements about genocide are a fabrication by those very groups.
The Uighur genocide stories can perhaps be likened to the U.S. state political propaganda theatre of American POWs captured by the Koreans and Vietnamese in the United States’ genocidal colonial wars against those two countries. No solid evidence exists of genocide of Uighurs, but we can make up a really good story with ‘anecdotal evidence’ and ‘statistics’ and newspaper headlines …..
In response to U.N. criticisms of Navalny’s political party in Russia being forcibly disbanded, and Hong Kong protesters and their Western funded protests militantly arguing for separatism from mainland China, we may yet have to see how Western countries respond to foreign countries funding political parties advocating separatism and sanctions of their own countrymen, on their own patch….
Indeed the continuing and increasing use of sanctions by Western countries against those countries they wish to destabilise is surely another key example of breaches of human rights of those populations. Cutting off access to food, energy and medical supplies and ‘withholding’ ( i.e stealing) money in state bank accounts from countries like Iran, Venezuela and Cuba are blatant abuses of those populations ‘ human rights.
As Telesure notes about Nicaragua: Human Rights Watch… has been notorious for taking a pro-State Department line on Latin America and even contains former State Department personnel on its board of directors. The former (the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation ) , meanwhile, is led by an anti-government partisan who supports imperialist sanctions on her own country. As The Canary reported in December 2018, Jagger has not only expressed support for the crippling US sanctions already in place but even called for the European Union, Canada, and other Latin American nations to issue their own set of sanctions as well.
Western led statements supporting greater freedom and democracy in Russia and China and other autocratic states that don’t kneel to Western business interests, should indeed be a wonderful ideal and a catalyst for freedom for all, were it not for that fact that those very Western governments- particularly the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Australia and some other Western European countries, are also the countries that have waged savage wars across the third world to promote their own ‘interests’ ( i.e. money).
For some unknown reason, those countless wars of aggression by Western and predominantly ‘white’ countries; along with indiscriminant sanctions, torture, drone murders and the promotion of extremism in other countries, do not appear on the list by the U.N. advocate for human rights- one might wonder why that is?
On 11th June 2020, the United States reacted with outrage that the International Criminal Court (ICC) intends to investigate the United States and Israel for crimes against humanity. How dare they? Surely the exceptional nation and its closest ally have every right to conduct mass-murder and torture with impunity?
By 2012, U.S. Congress had threatened that it would use military force to rescue any US citizens that were somehow called to account by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, and has signed agreements with more than 100 governments pledging them not to hand over US citizens to the ICC. U.S. Secretary of State, Texan, Mike Pompeo ; the epitome of the “exceptional nation” in all its bravado, bullying and sheer brutality , has also recently threatened the families of ICC justices with ‘consequences’ should any indictments proceed.
Impact of sanctions
Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, Libya, Yemen, Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Eritrea, Palestine, and hundred other little hidden wars were American troops are engaged in “counter-terrorism” and ‘black sites’ of torture.
Only when it becomes the international norm that any war fought by an aggressor shall require full reparations to the victim state, will wars be finally deemed not to be financially advantageous. That day is coming; the United States should be aware that its leaders are likely to be prosecuted and condemned for the litany of war crimes they have committed since the most heinous of all- their merciless slaughter of Koreans in the Korean War, and that the reparations for their endless wars will be in the many trillions of dollars.
The United States and its allies will one day soon, no longer be able to inflict its savagery on the world.
George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officers on May 25th 2020. Preliminary autopsy reports showed that George’s air supply was cut off at the neck by external ongoing pressure.
The videos of the event clearly shows police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on George’s neck while George gasps that he can’t breathe. Derek seems to looking for approval from the 3 other police officers nearby.
President Trump is undoubtedly one of the most incompetent, ignorant and bigoted of U.S. presidents, and his actions both during the ongoing pandemic, and his response to the sometimes violent demonstrations that have occurred in response to George Floyd’s murder, have been extraordinarily counter-productive and dangerous. However it is clear that his actions are applauded by a large proportion of the United States’ population. Donald Trump is a symptom, not a cause, of America’s dysfunction.
America is a country where lying and cheating, cheap exploitation and unmitigated violence at all levels of society are projected as capitalism unfettered – an Ayn Rand society where anything goes, and to hell with anyone and anything else. Such a society (despite the country’s enormous wealth from its natural resources) is destined for disaster. Former President Obama was a master at saying all the right things, while continuing to lie, cheat, steal and murder on behalf of the “exceptional nation”.
It is a society and culture that has pursued the propaganda of selling “product” , no matter the cost to vulnerable workers or the environment, or the lies required to make that sale, with religious zealotry for over a hundred years. And as a consequence, where those who are not wealthy are not worthy. Adam Shatz ,in “America Explodes’ describes the phenomenon of systemic racism in America with great clarity.
The disjunct between those in power staying “all the right things” about prejudice poverty and violence, and the reality on the ground has in the past 20 years, grown to become an enormous sink-hole of hypocrisy. It is vital that all people recognise that actions and good conduct alone determine whether we are a force for good or evil in this world. Words are cheap.
And we have seen this commodification of “terror’ creep all across the globe in the last decade like a virus. Police officers around the world now dress in absurd black clothing or camouflage outfits armed with sub-machine guns. Such foolish role-playing dress-ups encourages police (often with minimal training in de-escalation and risk assessment) to behave like frightened ‘warriors’ in a war setting, where no such threat exist.
A supreme irony then that one of the bigger earlier demonstrations for “Black Lives Matter’ outside of the U.S. , was in Auckland, New Zealand.
However the lead global agency for systematic violence, brutality and torture must surely go to Israeli ‘security ‘ forces operating day and night against largely defenseless Palestinians for the past 70 years (with unequivocal and unquestioning support by the United States and its Western allies for this brutality) . And not because Palestinians are a threat to the huge Israeli military juggernaut, but because they have land that Israeli settlers covet.
What is needed therefore, is not simply righteous indignation and protestations at police brutality, but a systematic global assessment of where the fault lines that lead to to violence and exploitation of the vulnerable members of all of our societies, occur. Once those systemic and sociological drivers of violence and exploitation are identified – (and named-and they are both complex and many)- have been identified, then a complete overhaul of global societal values and systems is required.
Footnote:The current simplistic motions in the United States to “defund the Police” will create ever more divisions in an already fractured society and the potential for vigilante groups on the “right” and “left’ to determine ‘justice for others.
An impartial government policing system ( one federal system) with regulations that underscore that no police-person is immune from prosecution for violence; that recognizes but does not excuse, the roles that colonialism, slavery, discrimination, poverty and historical injustice have played in creating communities which tend to be more dangerous, and addresses those needs; that ensures that every police officer is extensively trained in de-escalation, conflict management, and only uses force as a very last resort (which can be prosecutable) and that the endemic U.S. culture of violence and gun use is recognised and addressed.
It may be useful to note that most of the statues and monuments about important people ( almost exclusively men) are of people who lives were dominated by the need for power, fame and/or money. These were damaged people often exposed to early trauma in their lives, and a determination to succeed at all and any cost.
To know where we have come from is to empower us. It is well to remember where other societies’ book burnings and erasure of history have led us in the past.
Lieutenant-General Soleimani; leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Qods Force, was, as Soleimani himself expected, assassinated by United States drone or helicopter rockets on the morning of Friday 3rd January 2020, while leaving Baghdad Airport by car after a civilian flight in to Baghdad from Tehran to meet with the Iraqi prime minister.
Soleimani was revered by many Shiite Muslims around the world for his military successes in helping Shiite Hezbollah protect and defeat an Israeli invasion of Lebanon (part of Israel’s ‘grand’ strategy of building a mythic “Greater Israel”), but more importantly, for his work in both Iraq and Syria coordinating the largely successful battle against Al Qaeda in Syria (or HTS) and ISIS (otherwise known as Daesh).
The Wahhabist Muslim sect believes that all non Sunni Muslims are ‘heretics’ and should either be forcibly converted or killed . General Soleimani was therefore following the lineage of the great Shiite Imams of medieval times, in protecting all Shiites -this time from the scourge of Wahhabism.
In collaboration with the Russians, a revitalized Syrian Arab Army (Assad’s forces), a re-armed Iraqi Army, and Shi-ite militias under his command, Soleimani had at the time of his death largely succeeded in defeating ISIS in Syria and Iraq. The jaws are rapidly closing in on the remnants of Al Qaeda, HTS, ISIS and other Saudi and Western backed jihadists in Idlib in Northern Syria and Iraq. There is real fear in Washington “intelligence” circles that mainstream media will finally be forced to expose the direct linkage between Washington and the head-chopping jihadists.
The recent death in Ankara of James Le Mesurier, leader of the White Helmets, supposedly humanitarian aid workers in Syria, but in reality well funded propaganda units for the jihadist groups and their backers, is likely to be directly linked to the imminent exposure of the White Helmets as fakes, and the revelation of Western governments’ manipulation and likely bribery of senior staff at the OPCW to create a ‘scientific finding” that the Assad government had gassed civilians. Western governments will consequently be finally forced to acknowledge their appalling collaboration and support of pyschopathic jihadist killers in the Middle East- all in the name of oil and support for the Israeli entity.
American intelligence agencies consequently panicked and reasoned that a decisive provocation against Iran, would ensure that Iran would ‘over-react”, and could thus be seen by the world as the crazed religious pariah state that the United States has always tried to portray Iran as being since the Islamic revolution.
It might be useful at this point to list just some of the legitimate grievances Iran has against the United States.
The shooting down of a civilian Iranian Airbus A300 by a US warship in the Persian Gulf , with 290 resultant deaths. There was no official apology from the United States although some compensation was paid out belatedly.
Ongoing promotion of Iran as a pariah state at the UN and with other Western governments, which resulted in severe sanctions and the deaths of many innocent Iranians because of Iran’s non existent nuclear weapons programme.
Unconditional support by the United States of the Wahhabist Saudi clan who have funded and managed Sunni jihadist groups, killing many Shi-ite across the world, but particularly in Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
United States unconditional support for the Israeli entity, in their desire to create a “Greater Israel” by the theft and extremely brutal occupation of land from (largely Sunni) Palestinians, Shi-ite Lebanese and Syrians.
Perhaps it might therefore be understandable why Iran’s leadership calls the United States, the “Great Satan”.
Iran is, unlike many of the United States’ allies in the Middle East, a democracy of sorts. However the rules for democracy are managed and controlled at a central level by its Shi-ite Islamist leaders, and democratic choice is very limited (not too dissimilar in fact to the U.S. presidential election process).
While there are undoubtedly many in Iran who long for what Western democracy appears to promise, most are also fiercely patriotic; proud of their many thousands of year’s history as Persians. Faced with ‘existential” external threats, as Iranians have been since the Islamist revolution in 1979, few Iranians would support an overthrow of their current government.
Soleimani’s death was mourned by hundreds of thousands of Shiites in Iraq and Iran. Memorials in Tehran had to be postponed because of the size of the crowds mourning him in other cities in Iran, but the most crucial memorial was held for him in the Iranian city of Qom . “Qom is considered holy by ShiʿaIslam, as it is the site of the shrine of Fatimah bint Musa, sister of Imam Ali ibn Musa Rida (Persian Imam Reza, 789–816 CE). The city is the largest center for Shiʿa scholarship in the world, and is a significant destination of pilgrimage, with around twenty million pilgrims visiting the city every year..” -Wikipedia.
The red Shi-ite flag of the blood of the martyrs and revenge, was raised in Qom at his funeral procession. According to local reports it is the first time in the Qom mosque’s history – a holy site since the Middle Ages – that the red flag has been raised over the building.
It should be noted that the raising of the red-flag over Qom is not simply an Iranian government contrivance, but a religious appeal to all Shi-ite believers around the world to avenge Soleimani’s death -one who battled with the forces of evil to save Shi-ites.
Albawaba .com notes that ‘Last night Khamanei and Rouhani consoled Soleimani’s family.
‘Who is going to avenge my father’s blood?’ One of the commander’s daughters asked.
In response, Rouhani promised her that ‘everyone will take revenge’ and assured her as she wept, ‘we will, we will avenge his blood, you don’t worry.’
‘The Americans did not realize what a grave mistake they have made. They will suffer the consequences of such criminal measure not only today, but also throughout the years to come,’ Rouhani said.
‘This crime committed by the US will go down in history as one of their unforgettable crimes against the Iranian nation.’
Is it possible that United States intelligence officials were unaware of the paramount importance of Soleimani to the 112 million people in the Shiite world? Did they not understand that his killing would provoke a desire for revenge against the United States which would be unstoppable?
No matter whether President Trump carries out his threats to bomb 52 targets in Iran including “cultural sites”. (which would of course be a war crime, but nothing new to the United States, which has been guilty of horrendous war crimes and genocide in so many parts of the world since the U.S began: see our blog article; America’s Exceptional Interest in Wars) or whether the United States might lose its residual sanity and nuke Tehran, the revenge would continue .
The United State’s only option now is to seek forgiveness from the Iranians and negotiate a deal which allows their soldiers to leave safely from their many many bases circling Iran.
In just one example, the United State’s main military base in the Persian Gulf is located on the island of Bahrain. Bahrain is ruled by an autocratic and brutal Sunni ‘prince” over a population which is 62% Shi-ite. It would not require any intervention on the part of the Iranians for a rebellion to once again boil over to depose the Bahrain Al Khalifa royal family and for Shi-ites in Bahrain to destroy the U.S. base there and its occupants.
While Western media choose to portray any actions by Shi-ite groups around the world as being by “Iranian proxies”, Shi-ite groups, whether military of otherwise, will seek to avenge the death of Soleimani; they have now been called to do so.
It would be timely for someone in Washington who is sane, and with more than the level of intelligence currently displayed, to seek the mediation skills of someone with credibility to both sides, like Russian Federation Foreign Minister Lavrov- who may be able to help forestall what currently looks like the inevitable tragedy for the 60,000 plus United States soldiers stationed in the Middle East, as a result of General Soleimani’s killing.
The September 19th precision attacks on the oil processing facility at Abqaiq in Eastern Saudi Arabia have raised many questions for the Saudis and their allies in UAE, the United States and Israel. How did the attackers ( whether they be Houthi, Iranian or Saudi dissidents or a combination of any of those),manage to breach what should have a very well protected site from air borne attack.
The attacks should not have come as a surprise however. The Houthi “rebels’ in Yemen (against which the Saudis and their British, U.S. , Al Qaeda and UAE allies have been conducting a barbaric war of attrition for the past 4 years ) have both threatened and carried out increasingly ambitious attacks on Saudi infrastructure in the past year with drones and missiles to varying effect. (note the map below showing earlier Houthi drone attacks on the oil pipeline leading to Abqaiq.)
Recent news releases from the Houthi indicate major military successes against the Saudi mercenaries on the front line.; and the latest report of 500 Saudi mercenaries killed and 2000 captured in ongoing Houthi/Yemen Army raids into Saudi territory is outlined here.
So if by some absurd chance , what Western governments are saying is true; how did the Iranians fly drones and missiles at Abqaq from across the Persian Gulf directly in the face of large batteries of Saudi and American air defenses? The analysis by “Juliet Guy Oscar” clearly shows that Houthi manufactured Quds1 cruise missiles have both the capacity and range to have attacked Abqaiq and beyond.
For U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo to state that “the foreign minister of Iran is threatening all-out war and to fight to the last American,(and) we’re here to build out a coalition aimed at achieving peace and a peaceful resolution to this,” is of course pure nonsense and lies. America wants to make Iran once again a client state like the Saudis , Egypt or Jordan, which can bend to the expansionist whims of the Israelis.
While its very likely that the Houthis have been using and adapting Iranian missile and drone technology, the evidence suggests that the Yemen military, supported by the Houthis, have also been making their own or adapting military equipment salvaged from the Saudi/UAE conflict – with perhaps technological advice from Iran.
The Saudis, amusingly enough, cannot believe that Houthi “savages” could develop and deliver such weapons. ( the same kind of sad racist mistake that the Americans have continuously made against the Russians, Chinese, North Koreans and many other nations. (“If they have such weapons then they must have stolen the technology from us”.)
The Yemen ‘rebel’ commentary on the attacks is however interesting, noting that “various kinds of combat drones were used in the Second Deterrent Balance Operation, noting that they were launched from three different locations according to their flight endurance and designated targets. He underlined that the third generation of domestically-designed and -manufactured Qasef (Striker) combat drones, long-endurance Sammad-3 (Invincible-3) drones – which have an operational range of 1,500 kilometers to 1,700 kilometers and newly-developed drones equipped with jet engines.
Each of the new drones can carry four precision-guided bombs with fissionable heads every time, and can monitor and hit their targets from several angles.“Other aircraft were also used so the main combat drones could hide in their shadow without being detected, and signal jamming devices effectively disabled the enemy’s air missile defense systems.”
Like the Iranians, the Houthi and the Yemen military are fighting for their survival against much better equipped and financed opponents. Opponents whose ruthlessness and commitment to war crimes on a grand scale is known to all.
This will not end well for all sides…but the writing is on th wall for the Saudi clan if Pepe Escobar’s analysis is anything to go by