US, Turkey, Saudi Arabia In Alliance with Al Qaeda…
The Syrian war stalemate appears to be over. The regional powers surrounding Syria — especially Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, and Jordan — have re-ignited their war against the Syrian government. After over 200,000 dead and millions of refugees, the U.S. allies in the region recently re-committed to deepening the war, with incalculable consequences.
The new war pact was made between Obama’s regional darlings, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, who agreed to step up deeper military cooperation and establish a joint command in the occupied Syrian region of Idlib.
Turkey and Saudi Arabia are now openly backing Islamic extremists under the newly rebranded “Conquest Army” The on-the-ground leadership of this “new” coalition consists of Jabhat al-Nusra — the “official” al-Qaeda affiliate — and Ahrar al-Sham, whose leader previously stated that his group was the “real al-Qaeda.”
The Huffington Post reports:
“The Turkish-Saudi agreement has led to a new joint command center in the northeastern Syrian province of Idlib. There, a coalition of groups — including Nusra and other Islamist brigades such as Ahrar al-Sham that Washington views as extremist — are progressively eroding Assad’s front. The rebel coalition also includes more moderate elements of the Free Syrian Army that have received U.S. support in the past.”
The article admits that the Free Syrian Army — that Obama previously labeled as “moderates” and gave cash and guns to — has been swallowed up by the extremist groups.
This dynamic has the potential to re-engulf the region in violence; deep Saudi pocketbooks combined with reports of looming Turkish ground forces are a catastrophe in the making.
Interestingly, the Saudi-Turkish alliance barely raised eyebrows in the U.S. media. President Obama didn’t think to comment on the subject, let alone condemn it.
The media was focused on an odd narrative of Obama reportedly being “concerned” about the alliance, but “disengaged” from what two of his close allies were doing in a region that the U.S. has micromanaged for decades.
It seems especially odd for the media to accept that Obama has a “hands off” approach in Syria when at the same time the media is reporting about a new U.S. program training Syrian rebels in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.
It’s inconceivable that Obama would coordinate deeply with Turkey to set up a Syrian rebel training camp on Turkish soil, while at the same time be “disengaged” from the Turkish-Saudi war coalition in Syria.
One possible motive behind the fake narrative of “non-cooperation” between Obama and his Turkish-Saudi allies is that the U.S. is supposed to be fighting a “war on terrorism.”
So when Turkey and Saudi Arabia announce that they’re closely coordinating with terrorists in Syria — like al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham — Obama needs an alibi to avoid being caught at the crime scene. He’s not an accomplice, simply “disengaged.”
This is likely the reason why Obama has insisted that his new “moderate” rebels being trained in Turkey will fight ISIS, not the Syrian government. But this claim too is ridiculous.
Is Obama really going to throw a couple hundred newly-trained “moderate” Syrian rebels at ISIS while his Turkish-Saudi allies focus all their fire on the Syrian Government? The question answers itself.
The media has made mention of this obvious conundrum, but never bothers to follow up, leaving Obama’s lame narrative unchallenged. For example, the LA Times reports:
“The White House wants the [U.S. trained rebel] proxy force to target Islamic State militants, while many of the Syrian rebels — and the four host nations [where Syrian rebels are being trained] — want to focus on ousting Syrian President Bashar Assad.”
The article simply shrugs its shoulders at the irreconcilable. The article also fails to mention that Obama’s “new” training camps aren’t new at all; he’s been arming and training Syrian rebels since at least 2012, the only difference being that the “new” training camps are supposedly meant to target ISIS, compared to the training camps that were openly used to target the Syrian government.
Here’s the LA Times in 2013:
“The covert U.S. training [of Syrian rebels] at bases in Jordan and Turkey began months before President Obama approved plans to begin directly arming the opposition to Syrian President Bashar Assad, according to U.S. officials and rebel commanders.”
This is media amnesia at its worse. Recent events can’t be understood if the media doesn’t place events in context. In practice this “forgetfulness” provides political cover to the Obama administration, shielding his longstanding direct role in the Syrian war, allowing him to pretend to a “passive,” “hands off” approach.
When it was reported in 2012 that the Obama administration was funneling weapons to the Syrian rebels, the few media outlets that mentioned the story didn’t bother to do any follow up. It simply fell into the media memory hole. After the weapons funneling report came out, Obama incredulously stated that he was only supplying “non lethal” support to the rebels, and the media printed his words unchallenged.
Consequently, there was no public discussion about the consequences of the U.S. partaking in a multi-nation proxy war against Syria, a country that borders war ravaged Iraq.
In 2013 when Obama announced that he would be bombing the Syrian government in response to a supposed gas attack, the U.S. media asked for no evidence of the allegation, and strove to buttress Obama’s argument for aggression.
And when Pulitzer Prize winner Seymour Hersh wrote an article exposing Obama’s lies over the aborted bombing mission, the article didn’t see the light of day in the U.S. media. Critically thoughtful voices were not welcome. They remain unwelcome.
In 2015 direct U.S. military intervention in Syria remains a real possibility. All the conditions that led to Obama’s decision to bomb Syria in 2013 remain in place.
In fact, a U.S. intervention is even more likely now that Turkey and Saudi Arabia are fighting openly against the Syrian government, since the Saudi-Turkish alliance might find itself in a key battle that demands the special assistance that only the U.S. air force can offer.
Unsurprisingly, there has been renewed discussion of a U.S. enforced “no fly zone” in Syria. ISIS doesn’t have an air force, so a no fly zone would be undeniably aimed at the Syrian government to destroy its air force. The new debate over a “no fly zone” is happening at the same time as a barrage of new allegations of “chemical weapons” use are being made against the Syrian government.
If a no fly zone is eventually declared by the Obama Administration it will be promoted as a “humanitarian intervention, that strives to create a “humanitarian corridor” to “protect civilians” — the same rhetoric that was used for a massive U.S.-led NATO bombing campaign in Libya that destroyed the country and continues to create a massive refugee crisis.
As the Syrian war creates fresh atrocities the Obama administration will be pressured to openly support his Saudi-Turkish allies, just as he came out into the open in 2013 when he nearly bombed the Syrian government.
History is repeating itself. But this time the stakes are higher: the region has already been destabilized with the wars in Iraq, Libya, and Syria, and the regional conflicts have sharpened between U.S. allies on one hand, and Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Russia on the other.
Such a volatile dynamic demands a media willing to explain the significance of these events. The truth is that Obama has been a proxy war president that has torn apart the Middle East as badly as his predecessor did, and if the U.S. public remains uninformed about developing events, an even larger regional war is inevitable.
Several people have asked me recently why I always seem to be writing about the Middle East. “Why don’t you ever write about anything else?”
Of course I write about other stuff — but the Middle East is so much more interesting and entertaining than anything else! The Middle East is definitely more interesting, entertaining and even weirder than any soap opera, reality show or action flick that Hollywood could ever produce. Fascinating stuff.
I’m always amazed that so few other Americans aren’t just totally fascinated by the Middle East too. Or even that there isn’t at least one daytime soap opera devoted solely to the subject — if for no other reason than that the Middle East has some of the greatest villains of all time!
Take America, for instance. Our very own Wall Street and War Street are currently starring as top-billing major actors in the Middle East, playing in prime-time roles — as the biggest villains in the script so far too. America practically invented ISIS, for goodness sakes! You can’t get more villainous than that.
Or can you?
According to journalist Daniel Lazare, “After years of hemming and hawing, the Obama administration has finally come clean about its goals in Syria. In the battle to overthrow Bashar al-Assad, it is siding with Al Qaeda.” War Street, you’ve been busted as the Bad Guy — and on national television too!
Or take Saudi Arabia another shining example of epic villain-a-lishious-ness at its best. That country has been playing the villain since way back in 1930 — when it invaded the Republic of Yemen for the first time after Yemen actually dared to become a democracy. Then the Saudi regime went on to help America create Osama bin Ladin, finance the Taliban and dirty their hands with 9-11. And now the Saudi regime is financing and training ISIS. Doesn’t get more juicy than that.
No, wait, yes it does. The Saudi regime is now using American-supplied cluster bombs on Yemen. Juicy soap opera at its best, better even than TMZ — unless of course you are living in Yemen.
And then there is Syria. What is going on there right now is even better than “One Life to Live”. How many Americans even know who Bashar Assad is? The poor guy has a couple of corrupt, sleazy relatives that the Saudi, American, Turkish and Israeli regimes have spent the last four years trying to put into power. Why? Because power corrupts — so Assad’s relatives are already trained to be as corrupt as their sponsors. How “Dallas” can you get?
And of course Turkey is now in the mix too — just can’t keep its hands off of ISIS, the designated “fem fatale” in this reality show. But Turkey had better watch out. ISIS is a psychopath and Turkish citizens do not like President Erdogan cheating on them and messing around with her instead.
Or take Iraq — the ultimate reality show. Outwit, outlast and outplay. Plus all the principle soap opera characters are there in Iraq too. You got the lying bitch (mostly America), the BFF (mostly Britain and France), the scheming scoundrel who will stop at nothing to get rich (mostly Bibi Netanyahu) and the struggling anti-hero (mostly Syrians trying to chase ISIS out of Syria) trying to thwart the Bad Guys (mostly ISIS, but with ISIS’s secret suppliers Saudi Arabia, Israel, America and Turkey thrown in).
You just gotta love all that plotting, counter-plotting and backstabbing now taking place in the Middle East — such as when General Sisi in Egypt overthrew a democratically-elected government in order to be America’s date to the prom. Or when the Saudi Arabian regime, source of 9-11 and Osama bin Ladin, comes out smelling like a rose and being America’s BFF. Or not.
You want action and drama? No problem there either. The Middle East has it all! America, NATO, Britain and France get together and bomb the crap out of Libya (for her own good), put Al Qaeda in charge of Libya for even more raping and pillaging fun (she asked for it) — but then deserts fair Libya in her darkest hour of need. And even though Libya is not technically actually in the Middle East, you can still just sit back and watch the fun.
And ditto for Afghanistan. Lots of action, drama, lies and skullduggery there too — even though it also is not technically located in the Middle East.
And now apparently ISIS (that tramp!) is also off having a hot illicit affair with the American-sponsored neo-Nazi Ukraine regime, also not in the Middle East — but this new daytime drama may soon to be playing on European TV instead — as ISIS slips off to gay Paree after dumping her thug boyfriend in Kiev.
Plus who wouldn’t want to hear the exciting story about brave and heroic Palestinians fighting for their freedom — only to be called angry sluts by the American media. Or how the brave and heroic Yemenis, fighting for their freedom, get bombed back to the Stone Age by the despotic Saudis who still somehow manage to come out as the Good Guys — even after training and financing ISIS. How do they do that? How do they just keep getting away with that again and again? Will they ever get their comeuppance? Apparently not. But stay tuned.
And then there is the Israeli regime, staring as the “scheming patriarch” character, forcing America to do its dirty work so it can take over the Middle East. Bibi Netanyahu is like a Mafia don or the villain on “The Bold and the Beautiful” or “Dark Shadows” — always scheming behind the scenes. He’s like Angelique Bouchard or Sheila Carter. What’s not to love about him?
Why would anybody who loves soap operas and/or reality shows, action movies or even murder-mysteries and thrillers even think of ever not keeping up with events in the Middle East? Entertainment at its best!
Too bad, however, that more than a million lives have been lost so far in these productions — but, for Wall Street and War Street, that’s just one of the costs of being in show business.
Saudi Arabia has been dominating the Middle Eastern news recently. Its bombing of the Shia Houthis in Yemen, supported by Washington, and its ambivalent stand on ISIS, concealed in Washington, should raise questions about the nature and long-term ambitions of the desert kingdom. On those key issues there is an apparent conspiracy of silence in the American mainstream media and the policy-making community.
Saudi Arabia, the most authentically Muslim country in the world, is a polity based on a set of religious, legal, and political assumptions rooted in mainstream Sunni Islam. To understand its pernicious role in the ongoing Middle Eastern crisis, and to grasp the magnitude of its ongoing threat to America’s long-term strategic interests and security, we should start with the early history of that strange and unpleasant place.
MUHAMMAD IBN ABD AL-WAHHAB was born in central Arabia over three centuries ago, but his legacy is alive and well. Wahhab was a zealous Muslim revivalist who lived in the period of the Ottoman Empire’s early decline. He felt that Islam in general, and Arabia in particular, needed to be spiritually and literally re-purified and returned to the true tenets of the faith. Like Islam’s prophet he married a wealthy woman much older than himself, whose inheritance enabled him to engage in theological and political pursuits. His Sharia training, combined with a brief encounter with suffism – which he rejected – produced a powerful mix. From the suffis he took the concept of a fraternal religious order, but rejected initiation rituals and music in any form. He also condemned the decorations of mosques, however non-representational, and sinful frivolities such as smoking tobacco. This Muslim anabaptist rejected veneration of saints and sites and objects connected with them, and gave rise to a movement that sees itself as the guardian of true Islamic values. His ideas were espoused in the Book of Unity which gave rise to the name of the movement, al-Muwahhidun, or Unitarians.
By the middle of the 18th century Wahhab, like Muhammad eleven centuries earlier, found a politically powerful backer for his cause. In 1744 he struck a partnership with Muhammad ibn-Saud, leader of a powerful clan in central Arabia, and moved to his “capital,” the semi-nomadic settlement of ad-Dir’yah (Riyadh). Since that time the fortunes of the Wahhabis and the Ibn Said family have been intertwined. Under ibn-Saud’s successor Abdul-Aziz, the Wahhabis struck out of their desert base at Najd with the fury unseen in a millennium. In what looked for a while like the repetition of Muhammad’s and the Four Caliphs’ phenomenal early success a millennium earlier, they temporarily captured Mecca and Medina, marched into Mesopotamia – forcing the Ottoman governor to negotiate humiliating terms – and invaded Syria.
This was an unacceptable challenge to the Sultan, the heir to the caliphate and “protector of the holy places.” In 1811 he obtained the agreement of Ali Pasha, Egypt’s de facto autonomous ruler following Napoleon’s withdrawal, to launch a campaign against the Wahhabis. After seven years they were routed. Later in the century, however, the sect revived under Faysal to provide the focus of Arab resistance to the Ottoman Empire, which they considered degenerate and corrupt.
In 1902 a daring and bellicose prince of the ibn-Saud family, named after Abdul-Aziz “the warrior,” returned from exile with 40 horsemen and took control of Riyadh. He exploited the terminal weakness of the Ottoman Empire, soon to be embroiled in revolution and beset by external threats to its crumbling empire in the Balkans and Libya. Fired by the spirit of Wahhabism, Abdul Aziz embarked on a campaign to recover control over the whole of Arabia. In 1912 the Wahhabi revival prompted the founding of a religious settlement at Artawiyah, 300 miles north of Riyadh, under the auspices of theIkhwan, the Brotherhood. This was a stern Arabian variety of Plymouth, a Muslim New Jerusalem in which people were dragged from their homes and whipped for failing to attend Friday prayers.
IN THE CHAOTIC YEARS after the demise of the Ottoman Empire the Ikhwan proved to be an able and fanatical fighting force, securing victory for Ibn Saud, their leader and the founder of the present royal dynasty. In 1925 they carried out Ibn Saud’s order that all revered burial sites in Mecca and Medina be destroyed, including the “heavenly orchard” in Medina, where relatives and many early companions of Muhammad were buried. In 1926 they proclaimed Abdul-Aziz the King of Hejaz. Within a decade he had united the rest of Arabia and imposed the Wahhabist view of the world, man, law, and Allah, on most of the peninsula.
It is incorrect to say that the Wahhabi movement is to Islam what Puritanism is to Christianity, however. While Puritans could be regarded as Christianity’s Islamicists sui generis with their desire to turn Christianity into a druly scriptural, literalist theocracy, Wahhabism is unmistakably “mainstream” in its demand for the return to the original glory of the early Islamic Ummah. Their iconoclastic zeal notwithstanding, the Wahhabis were no more extreme or violent than the models for Islam – the “prophet” and his companions – have been in all ages and to this day.
THE HEIRS OF ABDUL WAHHAB are still heading the Saudi religious establishment. They resisted the introduction of “heathen” contraptions such as radio, cars, and television, and relented only when the King promised to use those suspect mediums to promote the faith. They stopped the importation of all alcohol, previously sold to foreigners (1952), and banned women driving motor vehicles (1957). The Kuran and Sunna are formally the country’s constitution and the source of its legal code. The original sources of Islamic orthodoxy – the Kuran and Hadith – provide ample and detailed evidence that Saudi Arabia is as close as we can get to an Islamic state and society. The State Department report on human rights in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia published 15 years ago offers an accurate glimpse of that vision in action:
Freedom of religion does not exist. Islam is the official religion and all citizens must be Muslims. Neither the Government nor society in general accepts the concepts of separation of religion and state, and such separation does not exist. Under Shari’a conversion by a Muslim to another religion is considered apostasy. Public apostasy is a crime punishable by death -if the accused does not recant. Islamic religious education is mandatory in public schools at all levels. All children receive religious instruction… Citizens do not have the right to change their government. The Council of Senior Islamic Scholars… reviews the Government’s public policies for compliance with Shari’a. The Government [views] Islamic law as the only necessary guide to protect human rights. There is legal and systemic discrimination based on sex and religion.
Nothing has changed since: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the most intolerant Islamic regime in the world. While the Saudis continue to build mosques all over the world, tens of thousands of Christians among the millions of foreign workers from Asia, Europe and America must worship in secret, if at all. They are arrested, lashed or deported for public display of their beliefs. The Saudi religious police, known as the Committee to Promote Virtue and Prevent Vice, continues to routinely intimidate, abuse, and detain citizens and foreigners. In 2002 they pushed girls escaping from burning school buildings back into the inferno and certain death because they did not have their heads properly covered. Its detainees are routinely subjected to beatings, sleep deprivation and torture. Punishments include flogging, amputation, and public execution by beheading, stoning, or firing squad – over 50 were performed so far this year.
Women are second class citizens: according to the CIA world factbook, 82.2% of females are literate, in comparison to 90.8% literacy rates in males. The testimony of one man equals that of two women, and female parties to court proceedings must deputize male relatives to speak on their behalf. Women are not admitted to a hospital for medical treatment (often for wounds resulting from domestic violence) without the consent of a male relative. In public a woman is expected to wear an abaya (a black garment that covers the entire body) and to cover her head and face. Daughters receive half the inheritance awarded to their brothers. Women must demonstrate Sharia-specified grounds for divorce, but men may divorce them without giving any cause. In addition women must not drive cars, must not be driven except by an employee, or husband, or a close relative, and even then must not occupy the front seat. Women may study abroad if accompanied by a spouse or an immediate male relative. Women may own a businesses, but they must deputize a male relative to represent it.
Political detainees commonly are held incommunicado in special prisons during the initial phase of an investigation, which may last weeks or months, without access to lawyers. Defendants usually appear without an attorney before a judge, who determines guilt or innocence in accordance with Shari’a standards. Most trials are closed, and crimes against Muslims receive harsher penalties than those against non-Muslims. A sentence may be changed at any stage of review, except for punishments stipulated by the Koran.
The only expanding industry in Saudi Arabia is that of Islamic obscurantism. Some examples are grotesque: in 1966 the Vice-President of the Islamic University of Medina complained that Copernican theory was being taught at Riyadh University; it has been banned ever since. Three hundred years after the Christian theologians had to concede that the Earth went around the Sun, the geocentric theory was reaffirmed in the centers of Saudi learning. Segregation of the sexes at schools is set at age nine, which is the age for girls to start to wear the veil.
The opinions of the ullema are the only internal check and balance on the ruling family. Five Saudi Islamic universities produce thousands of clerics, many more than will ever be hired to work in the country’s mosques. Thousands end up spreading and promoting Wahhabism abroad. The King of the Saudis remains their Imam. He and the Wahhabi religious establishment see it as their sacred duty and purpose to evangelize the world. The petro-dollar windfall has paid for the construction of some ten thousand mosques and “Islamic centers” in the United States and other parts of the world. All along, needless to say, no churches (let alone synagogues) can be built in Saudi Arabia, and all non-Muslim religious practice is strictly forbidden.
Even a seasoned cynic sometimes gasps in disbelief. “President Putin misinterprets much of what the U.S. is doing or trying to do,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told a press conference in Geneva on March 2. “We are not involved in ‘numerous color revolutions’ as he asserts. In the case of Ukraine, such assumptions are also wrong. The United States support international law with respect to the sovereignty and integrity of other people.”
This is akin to Count Dracula asserting his strict adherence to a vegan diet and his principled respect for the integrity of blood banks worldwide.
Various quasi-NGOs funded by American taxpayers and funneled through organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House and the National Democratic Institute, not to mention George Soros’s Open Society Foundations (partly funded by U.S. and other Western governments), have been actively engaged in dozens of “regime-change” operations for a decade and a half. Their work is conducted in disregard of international law and in violation of the sovereignty and integrity of the people whose governments are thus targeted.
The overthrow of Slobodan Milosevic in Belgrade (October 2000) provided the blueprint, in strict accordance with Gene Sharp’s manual. Widespread popular discontent was manipulated by the U.S./Soros funded and trained Otpor! network to bring to power a government subservient to Western political and economic interests. The moderately patriotic yet hapless new president, constitutional lawyer Vojislav Kostunica, was used as a battering ram to bring Milosevic down. Once that goal was achieved, Kostunica was promptly marginalized by Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic and his successors – Serbia’s two-term president Boris Tadic in particular – who turned the country into a pliant tool of foreign interests. Wholesale robbery of Serbia’s state and public assets promptly followed the 2000 coup, resulting in the Balkan country’s comprehensive de-industrialization. Official Belgrade was forced to accept Kosovo’s de facto “independence” in the name of the elusive goal of joining the European Union.
Georgia’s 2003 “Rose Revolution” was carried out by the Kmara (“Enough”) network, a carbon copy of Serbia’s “Otpor,” including the clenched fist logo. Its activists were trained and advised by the U.S.-affiliated Liberty Institute and funded by the Open Society Institute. It brought to power Mikhel Saakashvili, a corrupt “pro-Western” politician currently wanted by Georgia’s government on multiple criminal charges. The coup was largely financed by Soros’s network, which spent $42 million in the three months before the coup preparing the overthrow of the government of Eduard Shevardnadze. The most important geopolitical result was Georgia’s NATO candidacy, supported by Washington, which is currently stalled but which has the potential to be as perniciously destabilizing as the crisis in Ukraine.
Speaking in Tblisi in June 2005, Soros said: “I am very pleased and proud of the work of the Foundation in preparing Georgian society for what became a Rose Revolution, but the role of the Foundation and me personally has been greatly exaggerated.” The new government, as it happens, included Alexander Lomaia, former Secretary of the Georgian Security Council and minister of education and science, who at the time of the coup was Executive Director of the Open Society Georgia Foundation. David Darchiashvili, ex-chairman of the Committee for European Integration in the Georgian parliament, was also an executive director of the Foundation. As former Georgian foreign minister Salomé Zourabichvili wrote in 2008, “all the NGO’s which gravitate around the Soros Foundation undeniably carried the revolution… [A]fterwards, the Soros Foundation and the NGOs were integrated into power.” Interestingly, the U.S. Ambassador in Georgia at the time of the 2003 regime-change operation, Richard Miles, was the Ambassador in Belgrade at the time of Milosevic’s downfall three years earlier.
The march of history continued with the 2004 “Orange Revolution” in Ukraine – that grand rehearsal for the Maidan coup a decade later – and the 2005 “Cedar Revolution” in Lebanon, which was given its name by then-U.S. Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs Paula J. Dobriansky. Also in 2005 the “Tulip Revolution” in Kyrgyzstan had as its chief foreign advisor Givi Targamadze, an official of Georgia’s aforementioned Liberty Institute, who at the time chaired Saakashvili’s parliamentary committee on defense and security.
In 2006 Congress passed the Iran Freedom and Support Act which provided taxpayer funding for groups opposed to the Iranian government, and then-Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs R. Nicholas Burns said the administration was “taking a page from the playbook” on Ukraine and Georgia. A year later the George W. Bush administration authorized a $400 million covert operation budget to foment unrest in Iran. In 2012 Seymor M. Hersh wrote that the U.S. has provided funding and training to the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, a militant group which had been listed by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization,
In 2012 President Obama authorized U.S. government agencies to support violent regime change in Syria. By early 2013 the Administration was helping the “moderate” rebels – i.e. jihadists with no overt links to al-Qaeda – to the tune of $250 million, and that figure has been at least doubled since. The result has been disastrous for the Syrian people (Christians in particular), and hugely detrimental to U.S. security interests in the region. The insurgency against Bashar al-Assad has directly contributed to the rise of ISIS, with no end to the latest war in sight.
Last month Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro gave a televised speech in which he alleged systematic U.S. involvement in destabilization attempts against his government. The U.S. Department of State called his claims “baseless” and “false.” “The United States does not support political transitions by non-constitutional means,” read the statement from Department spokesperson, Jen Psaki. Indeed. One of the leaders of the failed anti-Chavez coup d’etat in 2002, Rear Admiral Carlos Molina, has stated that he was acting with US support. Ditto the CIA-supported regime-change operation in Nicaragua in 2009.
As for the Maidan Revolution, crowned by “political transition by non-constitutional means” par excellence, Victoria Nuland readily admitted that its preparation cost the U.S. taxpayers some $5 billion over the preceding decade. The result is the most dangerous geopolitical crisis of the post-Cold War era, systematically engineered and conducted by the regime-changing exceptionalists in Washington D.C. who believe that they are exempt from historical forces and legal restraints that apply to merely mortal countries.
Former U.S. Ambassador in Moscow Michael McFaul boasted to The New York Times a week after taking duty in January 2012 that he would make his “pro-democracy” mark in Moscow “in a very, very aggressive way.” Some months earlier, McFaul declared that “even while working closely with Putin on matters of mutual interest, Western leaders must recommit to the objective of creating the conditions for a democratic leader to emerge in the long term.” This was a regime-change agenda expressed with brutal bluntness: we need to “de-Putinize” Russia, he declared. It would be interesting to see the U.S. reaction if a similar statement (“We need to to de-Obamanize America!”) were to be made by an incoming Russian ambassador in Washington.
In Russia the regime-change program did not work, however. First and foremost, there was no popular support: hundreds of “activists” demonstrating against Putin in 2012 could be turned into “thousands” in Western post-election media reports, but that was still far below the tens, let alone hundreds, of thousands needed to kick-start a regime-change op. Infuriatingly for the planners, Russia simultaneously enacted a law regulating foreign “NGO” activities which was patterned directly on the American Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which regulates activities of the agents of foreign governments in the United States. Enacted in the 1930’s to require disclosure of Americans working on behalf of Nazi Germany, and used to control Soviet agents thereafter, FARA requires full public disclosure of those same activities that the U.S. government had tried to fund in Russia. The Federal Election Campaign Act flatly prohibits foreign involvement in American elections – yet it was touted as legitimate when conducted in Russia by Washington’s protégés under the guise of promoting democracy.
The regime-change mania will go on and on. It is inseparable from the psychotic belief in one’s indispensability and exceptionalism. It is a form of self-defeating grandomania that can only stop with America’s long-overdue abandonment of the global hegemony experiment.
And yes, John Kerry is a liar.
Andrew Kreig’s book reviews are always to the point and chock full of carefully honed points bolstered with facts. You can count of this when reading his work because his training is both in law, he is a licensed attorney in Washington D.C., and journalism. Andrew takes up subjects many won’t touch.
This being the case I ordered my copy of, “Visas for Al Qaeda: CIA Handouts That Rocked the World — An Insider’s View,” by J. Michael Springmann, former State Department foreign service officer immediately.
If Andrew says a book is going to be shocking and timely, and make a, “credible circumstantial case that ties the U.S. training of Islamic radicals to our nation’s major foreign policy disasters in the Mideast during the past quarter century,” it is a book to read, given how many emails on the subject are coming through my Inbox on the subject.
Andrew’s review provided direct quotes from author Springmann, former chief of the visa section of the U.S. Consulate located in Saudi Arabia, who last week launched his book tour at the prestigious National Press Club in D.C.
Springmann said, ““It’s past time to expose murder, war crimes and human rights violations by the United States of American and its ‘intelligence’ services.” Continuing, Springman, said claiming “national security,” as a justification was dubious.
These claims have been made by both the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency (NSA). Springmann said these agencies were responsible for coups and destabilization acts around the world, “most notably,” in the middle east.
Springmann says governments were overthrown, assassinations carried out and ordinary citizens murdered on their orders. This chain of events began, he continued, with the Carter Administration. These acts took place, Springmann says, with the knowledge of the president of the United States and the executive branch but also our two other branches of government,“from Libya to Iran.”
Springmann knows because he personally saw “illegal visas issues to large numbers of U.S.-backed Islamic fundamentalists transiting through Jeddah from multiple Islamic nations so they could visit the United States for secret purposes.” Covert training took place at a CIA facility in Williamsburg, Virginia for “vagabond Islamic mercenaries, revolutionists and jihadists — an “Arab-Afghan Legion” — who could be unleashed on America’s enemies.”
Blowback was not taken into account but deniability was ensured. Today, when war has become continuous, this is a book you need to read.
What would happen if we Americans suddenly decided to withdraw all of our troops currently scattered all over the world and to actually bring them back to within our own US borders where they belong? What would happen if we actually closed down all of America’s extensive and pricy (over one thousand and counting) military bases and black-site operations all around the globe? We may never know. “Why?” you might ask. Because it is never gonna happen, that’s why.
Despite all of the incredibly huge amounts of money, energy, pain and grief that all these bases and black-site operations are costing us American taxpayers daily right now, the subject of closing even a few of these bases and black-site operations (or at least to stop opening up new ones!) isn’t even up for debate.
There are so many other topics that we are happily debating in America right now — but not this one.
Americans are currently debating such crap topics as how best to save rich people from having to pay taxes; whether cops should be allowed to kill minority and/or poor people at will; why torture is a good thing; how we can most easily give large corporations our life savings and pensions; whether or not our kids should get measles vaccines; and exactly how soon “we” can bomb the crap out of Russia. But one of the most important subjects for debate in America today is not even on the menu right now.
A raging debate on how to return America to its grand old isolationist tradition should be the major topic in every newspaper headline and TV news show in America right now. But, sadly, it is not.
And there are many other life-threatening topics for debate here in America that we should be discussing too (but are not) such as, “Is it really in our best interest to support chaos in the Middle East or be Israeli neo-colonialists’ catspaws?” Or whether corporations really are people, or “Why is election-malfeasance in America is still running amuck?” Or if we really want to be committing climate-change suicide? Or why America now has the same distribution of wealth between the upper classes and the rest of us that it had back in 1910 and that the difference in income between America’s top 1% and the rest of us is further apart now than any other time in history including the Roman Empire, Charles Dickens’ London and Marie Antoinette’s France.
According to economist Thomas Piketty, “Income inequality has exploded in the United States.”
And why the freak is America a member of NATO, the most war-mongering organization in the entire world outside of the US Department of “Defense”?
And — really? Here’s a headline that will warm all those Scrooge-like corporate hearts: “Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown“Social science is being militarized to develop ‘operational tools’ to target peaceful activists and non-violent protest movements. Should we not be discussing that too?
And then there’s that good old “New World Order” thingie popping up again, and it no longer even includes America on the list of those giving the New Orders — because the global overlord dudes who are currently drawing up the list to re-order our world seem to have us Americans in mind only to play the minor roles of vassals and serfs.
But none of these other topics are up for debate in America either.
According to journalist Juan Cole, the top five favorite planks for the Republican party platform in 2016 are gonna be torture, war-mongering, bank corruption, tax evasion for the uber-rich and how best to steal elections. Why aren’t we discussing that either?
Frankly, there seems to be no debate in America today on almost any topic that should be of primary concern to We the People who are paying for all this crap. But I digress. Let’s get back on topic, the topic of closing over a thousand US military bases and black-site operations all across the globe.
Of course I myself am obviously an advocate for closing all U.S. bases and black-site operations on foreign soil and bringing all of our troops home where they belong. So. Let’s debate.
Debaters in favor of keeping America’s foreign empire strong and all these bases and black-site operations open might come up with a list of arguments such as:
1. “They” will come here and terrorize us if we let down our guard.
2. We will then have little or no access to raw materials and natural resources. Our economy will shrink.
3. We need the war industry because it produces jobs.
4. We must bring freedom and democracy to the world and stop tyrannies.
These four points are all laughably easy to refute — except for perhaps point number three. Here are my counter-arguments:
1. In the many decades since the end of WW II, America has systematically created more enemies than one can shake a stick at due to its brutal policy of foreign military interference abroad. People all over the world used to love America. But this is no longer true. Obviously. These foreign bases and black-site operations are not keeping America safe. Just look at 9/11. Just look at the Great Recession of 2008. I rest my case.
2. Hey, we can always get access to foreign natural resources by actually paying for them. Now there’s a unique idea. It’s called Capitalism!
Right now, our military mainly serves the purpose of acting as thugs and extortionists for corporations, allowing corporations to go into foreign countries at will and steal their natural resources. Our nation’s finest young men and women are being forced to serve as mega-corporations’ personal security forces and Mafia crews. Hell, let these corporations pay for their own damn security thugs. Why should we taxpayers do the job? We are never the ones who make money off of this deal. Au contraire. We get to pay through the nose for it.
Why should we American taxpayers keep paying out trillions of dollars so that the best and brightest of our young generation can die violent and lonely deaths and leave widows and orphans behind them — in order to “Keep Corporations Strong”? It’s like Vietnam all over again.
3. Yes, the war industry does produce jobs. But working for the Yankee Dollar is a high-risk employment, is morally repugnant and the benefits are few. How about, instead, that we hire all those soldiers to work in the solar industry or to repair our shabby infrastructure? Or train them to become doctors or teachers. Just think of the money we’d save!
4. America doesn’t bring democracy to the world. “We” mostly bring dictators and ruffians and torturers and election fraud. And “we” are currently supporting monsters like ISIS and those neo-Nazis in Ukraine. It’s all about the money. The American dream has become a nightmare if you live overseas (and will probably become more of a nightmare here too if we continue to keep the same vampires and doofuses in charge).
That’s my argument and I’m sticking with it.
Hey, I may be wrong here about proposing that we immediately bring all of “our” weapons and troops home. Or I may be right. Who knows. But shouldn’t we at least be having this debate?
Clearly this subject has already been covered in the media news cycle ad nauseam but I still can’t stop thinking about the “I am Charlie” concept. Was the idea behind all those people who held up “I am Charlie” posters supposed to be about protecting free speech? Really? Then why isn’t everyone carrying “I am Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden” posters too? Or demanding that the police stop arresting guys who falsely yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater or deliberately start barroom brawls?
Or if those “I am Charlie” posters are in protest of armed thugs in Paris gunning down civilians in cold blood, then why isn’t everyone in Paris also carrying posters proclaiming “I am Iraq” or “I am Syria” or “I am Palestine” or “I am Ukraine” or Libya or Mali or…. You get the picture.
All those people holding up signs protesting the slaughter on Rue Nicolas-Appert might actually think that they too are “Charlie” — and that’s fine. Terrible things happened to the employees of Charlie Hebdo. No one should ever have to suffer the fate of being shot down in cold blood, and thus the victims deserve to be mourned. However I myself chose NOT to be Charlie Hebdo, a vicious slimy obscene rag clearly designed to stir up religious tensions in France.
And I also choose not to be any other bigots or terrorist troublemakers who clearly delight in trying to stir up religious tensions in France, crassly using others’ religious differences to pave their own way to riches and power — and yet who have the ultimate and offensive hypocrisy and nerve to show up for the French “I am Charlie” marches with innocent smiles on their faces. “Who us?” they innocently proclaim — after doing everything they possibly can to stir up bigotry against Muslims.
I am NOT Avigdor Liberman
I am NOT Naftali Bennet
And I am definitely NOT Bibi Netanyahu.
These three guys and their cohorts seem to be always at the center of any religious tension or terrorist attack almost anywhere in the world — starting in 1948 when the Stern Gang blew up the King David Hotel and Moshe Dayan’s “army” slaughtered Christian and Muslim Palestinians left and right in order to steal their land. “Every time anyone says that Israel is our only friend in the Middle East, I can’t help but think that before Israel, we had no enemies in the Middle East,” a Jesuit priest stated back then. And that’s still true today.
Israel’s sleazy military-industrial complex then went on to be an uber-cheerleader for America when our own sleazy military-industrial complex bombed Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yugoslavia, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia and I forget what all else. And Israeli neo-cons themselves have bombed Palestine, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and I forget what all else too — not to mention their documented ongoing support for ISIS and Al Qaeda.
If bombs, missiles, white phosphorus, tanks, false-flag operations, F-16s, tear gas or even bottle-rockets are involved, Bibi and these guys are so there!
Millions dead in the Middle East? I call that terrorism. And yet Bibi and his minions actually had the chutzpah to march in Paris “against terrorism,” according to Paris Match. Yeah, right.
Yet who benefited from the Charlie Hebdo incident? Let’s see. According to Paul Craig Roberts, it’s the American military-industrial complex that benefited. “Not France, not Muslims, but US world hegemony. US hegemony over the world is what the CIA supports. US world hegemony is the neoconservative-imposed foreign policy of the US.”
But as they say in poker, “I’ll see Roberts and raise him.” Netanyahu benefited. Apparently, right before the Charlie Dodo incident was staged, France had just announced that it might be backing off supporting sanctions on Russia. What? No immediate prospect of World War III? No big Israeli weapons sales? Bibi must have been tres disappointed!
France had also just announced that it was gonna recognize the Palestinian state. OMG! That must have totally pissed Netanyahu off.
Also, our Bibi is having trouble finding settlers to occupy his many illegal condos in Palestine’s West Bank. But he just loves French Jews — and hopes to scare them enough to force them to flee to Israel and live rent-free on Palestinian land. Heck, I like Israel well enough. Wouldn’t mind living there myself. It’s a nice place. Heck, even the Palestinians used to like living there too. But it’s the Israeli neo-cons’ blood-thirsty hypocritical scheming military-industrial-complex-
And I’m not being anti-Semitic here. Let’s leave all that religious bigotry to Charlie Hebdo. I am only being a student of American-Israeli neo-con “Realpolitik” (Rāˈälpōliˌtēk/: A system of politics or principles based on practical rather than moral or ideological considerations). And Realpolitik has nothing to do with religion.
Good grief, I’m so glad that I’m NOT Netanyahu.
And I also feel nothing but compassion for all the billions of Muslims, Christians and Jews who are being subjected to his vile manipulations. I also feel nothing but compassion for the hostages in the kosher supermarket who were also victims of Bibi’s lust for money and power and to create chaos throughout the world. Even if it means putting all the world’s Jews in danger again.
PS: What is going to happen next in France? Or in Israel and the United States too, for that matter. As my friend RJ suggests, let’s follow Norway’s heroic example after the dreadful 2011 massacre there and stop spending our patrimony on guns, bombs, war and alienation and start spending that money on integrating our nations’ diversity into our national bank of excellent human resources instead.
We’ve already wasted a hundred trillion dollars on “war” so far, only to discover again and again that violence doesn’t ever work. Not in the Middle East, not in Ukraine, not in Paris, not at the World Trade Center and not in Ferguson either. Just imagine if we had spent all that money on education, jobs, and integrating our society into a smooth-running democratic machine instead.
To paraphrase Thomas Piketty, “You can’t have a political democracy unless you have an economic democracy too.” And “war” has ruined — absolutely ruined — the economic democracy of both Israel and the USA. And probably France too.
Why are there no serious peace talks to end the war in Syria? After robbing over 130,000 people of their lives, and evicting over 9 million refugees from their homes, the Syrian war has infected nearly every region of the Middle East. Yet among the U.S. and its regional allies there are no public discussions about a viable peace plan, only war talk.
It’s hard to talk peace when the United States is still maneuvering for war, having recently given $500 million to arm and train Syrian rebels, while also brokering a deal with Saudi Arabia to open a new Syrian rebel training camp, in addition to the one already functioning in Jordan. Instead of using Obama’s vast Middle East influence for peace he has used it to push war.
The brilliant failure of the U.S.-led Geneva peace talks on Syria was done without the seriousness demanded by the wholesale destruction of a nation. Obama used the talks to pursue “U.S. interests,” having purposely excluded Iran from the talks while trying to leverage disproportionate power for Obama’s “Free Syrian Army” rebels, who enjoy minuscule power on the ground as they used peace talks to make unrealistic demands.
Obama played a passive role in the peace talks, allowing them to flounder instead of publicly putting forth serious proposals that reflected the situation on the ground. There have been no talks since January and Geneva III is yet unscheduled, as Obama seems committed only to giving the rebels more bargaining power via more war, the logic being that if the rebels are armed and trained appropriately, they’ll eventually be able to win back enough land to force the Assad government to bargain on equal terms.
The giant void in the market for peace has opened up opportunities for Russia and Egypt, who reportedly are attempting to insert themselves as leaders in Middle East diplomacy, in part to expand their influence, in part to protect themselves from the conflagration of Islamic extremism the conflict is producing.
Mint Press reports on the still-developing story:
“Moscow and Cairo are preparing for a conference between the Syrian regime and the opposition in the hope of bringing them together in a transitional government that ‘fights terrorism’…the agenda of the conference to be held between the two sides includes establishing a transitional Syrian government with extensive powers while maintaining Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s authority over the army and security institutions.”
If such a proposal comes to fruition its merits must be seriously debated on the world stage, where Obama would very likely do his best to sabotage the peace. This is because Obama’s rebels on the ground in Syria — loosely organized under the “Free Syrian Army” banner — are powerless, and a Russia-led peace process would reveal this fact and apply it to a peace treaty, leaving little influence for the Obama administration in the new government. This is a peace deal Obama would rather kill.
Obama’s rebels are weak while the Syrian Government has made substantial military gains. Most notably a recent peace deal was won in Syria’s largest city Aleppo, modeled after the peace deal in Homs that allowed rebels to leave unarmed while giving de-facto control of the city to the government.
Interestingly, veteran Middle East journalist Robert Fisk recently questioned not only the relevance of Obama’s Free Syrian Army, but it’s very existence. Fisk explains:
“The Free Syrian Army I think drinks a lot of coffee in Istanbul. I have never come across it – except in the first months of the fighting, I’ve never come across even prisoners from the Free Syrian Army…You know, the FSA, in the eyes of the Syrians, doesn’t really exist. They’ve got al-Qaeda, Nusrah, various other Islamist groups, and now of course ISIS…But I don’t think they care very much about the Free Syrian Army. One officer told me that some have been accepted back into the Syrian Army, so they could go home. Others had been allowed to go home and they were not permitted to serve in the Syrian Army anymore. I think that the Free Syrian Army is a complete myth and I don’t believe it really exists and nor do the Syrians…”
Fisk’s analysis of the FSA punctuates the perspective of many who have long questioned whether the FSA had been totally absorbed by the Islamic extremist militias. At most the FSA exists in tiny irrelevant pockets, though Fisk thinks the FSA might be an Obama administration fantasy used to justify the ongoing Syrian war.
Aside from Obama’s weakness on the ground, there are broader geo-political reasons Obama would reject a Russia/Egypt-led peace. For one, the Obama Administration only recently made a long term investment in war, by giving the $500 billion to the Syrian rebels and training thousands more in Saudi Arabia, actions that effectively dismissed any meaningful reconciliation with Iran.
Obama chose instead to reinforce the close alliances with pariah states Saudi Arabia and Israel, and both are demanding that Syria be destroyed. By re-committing himself to Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Israel, Obama has essentially abandoned peace with Syria and Iran, since Obama’s allies want Syria and Iran destroyed.
If Obama followed the lead of Russia and Egypt in the peace process, his allies would abandon him, since they’ve invested huge sums of money, arms, and their political livelihoods on making sure their governments and domestic companies profit off of the demise of the Syrian government.
This is the basis for the complete geo-political stalemate in the Middle East. Of course the giant U.S. corporations that benefit from Middle East dominance are applying maximum pressure to continue war. The stalemate has become so obvious and destructive in Syria that Russia and Egypt haveinserted themselves as power brokers, which would act to bolster their political-economic leverage while pushing the U.S. out.
Regional power scrambling aside, if a rational peace deal were put forth —whether it’s brokered by Russia, Egypt, or whomever — the world must demand that peace be pursued, lest the Syrian catastrophe continue.
Obama and his regional allies have proven totally incapable of producing any realistic peace proposal — they’ve been too consumed with war. Obama has yet another chance to recognize the results of this failed proxy war and accept a peace that is a 100,000 lives overdue, or it can forge ahead to expand the killing. Stopping the war is as easy as acknowledging the reality, and to forge a treaty that reflects it.
Time will tell…
With the Abu Baker al-Siddiq Brigade, Zintan, Libya…
A second interview by this observer with Seif al Islam Gadhafi, formerly the heir apparent to his father Moammar, was sought and finally arranged as a follow up to an earlier one focusing of my interest in the Imam Musa Sadr case. That case involves a great crime against a great man and conciliator and his historic cause, and exposes those who betrayed him in Lebanon and two other countries while swearing their personal devotion and shedding crocodile tears over the past 36 years. That research is nearing completion and publication awaits DNA results from body samples more credible than the ones offered by the Bosnia laboratory two years ago and immediately demonstrated to be fraudulent. The story of why that particular lab was chosen and by who goes to the essence of the current stonewalling campaign with respect to informing the public about what exactly happened to Imam Sadr and his partners on 8/3l/1978 in Tripoli, Libya. It also identifies who instructed Gadhafi to kill them over the strong objections from the PLO’s Yassir Arafat who spoke with Gadhafi and tried to save the trio of Lebanese Shia.
But our discussion soon turned to other subject as Seif’s jailers may have taken seriously my joke that if they extended the original 20 minutes I was granted to two hours, I would deliver to them 10 US Visas and they could fill in any names the might choose. Truth told, of course I could not even get myself a passport renewal as former US Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman reportedly sneered at a US Embassy Christmas party a few years back, “Lamb will serve ten years hard time in the Feds for hobnobbing with terrorists (Hezbollah in those days…who knows today?) when we get him back home.” I admit that Jeff and I both have a problem with Hezbollah. His is because Hezbollah just may liberate Palestine and mine is that Hezbollah needs to do more in Lebanon and use 90 minutes of Parliament’s time, where it has the power, to grant Palestinian refugees in Lebanon the right to work and to own a home.
Meanwhile, Da’ish (IS) is metastasizing fast in Libya through its main affiliate al Fajr Libya (Libya Dawn) and plans to add Tripoli, to its Islamic Caliphate along with Baghdad, Damascus, Amman and Beirut during the coming months and if necessary, years. This, according to Seif al Islam and representatives of the Zintan brigades based southwest of Tripoli as well as two representatives of other tribes and militia moving toward supporting the still vital Gadhafi regime remnants.
Libya may be the lowest hanging ripe fruit within easy reach of Da’ish (IS) and its growing number of affiliates, according to US Ambassador Deborah Jones during a recent visit to the US Embassy in Malta, to discuss her own problems in Libya which include the 8/31/14 take-over by al Fajr Libya (FL) of the US embassy compound barely a month after it was evacuated and moved to Tunisia for the second time since February of 2011. Secretary of State John Kerry reassured the media in Washington recently that “the embassy was not really closed, but had moved out of Libya”. One Religion Professor at Tripoli University joked last week that “Kerry is correct, the US embassy is here but it’s in a state of occultation. We can’t see it but it’s around and watches us.” A Libyan photographer who was at the embassy compound when Al Fajr Libya (FL) arrived reported that the Da’ish (IS) affiliate had moved into buildings inside the embassy complex claiming that they would ‘protect it’ as they carted off boxes of documents for ‘safe keeping.’ FL is described by a former Dean at Tripoli U. as between al Nusra and Da’ish (IS) with a fragile partnership between the two and presenting to the public “A Good cop-Bad cop tag-team with differences to be worked out once all the infidels are vanquished.
Libya, as with the Arab Maghreb, is on the cusp of a new wave of Islamist groups, and is moving beyond al-Qaeda of Bin Laden, Zawahiri, and Abdelmalek Droukdel, to Baghdadi’s ISIS and its widely perceived logical offshoot ISIM being planted in North Africa and the Sahel. The threat of the Da’ish (Islamic State is already deeply anchored and expanding in the now lawless Libya, according to UN envoy Bernardino León. Several Libyan organizations recently announced their loyalty to IS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. This has confirmed a speculation that IS has penetrated Libyan public institutions. The Ansar al-Sharia group, affiliated with ISIS, has declared authority during the last several days over the coastal city of Darna which is located strategically between Benghazi and the Egyptian border – just 289 km (179 miles) and 333 km (206 miles), respectively.
Countless militia are forming, merging, changing names and lying low as perceived interests dictate. Soldiers of the Caliphate in Algeria was retitled, revitalized and repackaged to enhance its appeal on social media as has the Furqan Brigade of the AQIM in Tunisia. Ansar Al-Sharia is another one becoming very active.The Uqba bin Nafi Brigade, has just declared allegiance to ISIS as has the Islamic Caliphate in the Islamic Maghreb. al-Ummah Brigade, which operates out of Libyan coasts and airports, another is Al-Battar is attracting pro-ISIS elements. Majlis Shura Shabab al-Islam (the Islamic Youth Shura Council), or MSSI. According to Libyan sources and journalist Adam al-Sabiri, writing in Al Akbar, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi asked these elements to deploy to the Libyan front to counter the attacks by the Libyan army led by Khalifa Haftar as part of Operation Dignity seeking to “purge Libya of terrorists.”
Libyan friends, some from three years ago, advise that more people have been killed in the past three years than during the 2011 revolution and they now fear a Somalia-like “failed state” given all the weapons, lawlessness, and growing number of Islamists. The South of Libya has not been spared the lawlessness, as tribal battles continue for control of a lucrative smuggling trade. Friends point out that the country no longer even bothers to celebrate the National Holiday commemorating the 10/23/2011 “total liberation of Libya.” “It’s a cruel joke” my friend Hinde advised as she explains that many Libyans yearn for the stability of the Gadhafi days. “Maybe wanting to turn the clock back is the same in Iraq and Egypt and Syria?” she wondered.
“The rampant regional, ideological and tribal conflicts are worse than the rule of the dictator,” said Salah Mahmud al-Akuri, a doctor in Benghazi. “Some Libyans are looking back to the old regime.”
Amidst all the chaos, Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thinni claimed last week that groups loyal to the IS, such as al Fajr Libya, are presently in control of the city of Derna and other Libyan towns and have begun summoning townspeople to public squares to witness declarations of fealty to Da’ish (IS), even beginning their signature public executions. Libya’s “government” claims that its “army” is preparing to expel Fajr Libya (FL) and retake the capital, as more militia rush to join FL. Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani’s said in a statement this week that he gave orders to the government forces to “advance toward Tripoli to liberate it and to free it from the grip of al Fajr Libya”. The Libyan embassy in Washington told a House Foreign Affairs committee staffer that they expect that residents in Tripoli will launch “a civil disobedience campaign until the arrival of the army.” Walking around the former “Green Square” this observer saw no signs of this rather he observed citizens stocking up on necessities or packing their cars. Later, Thani added, military forces in the strife-torn country “have absolutely united to also recapture Libya’s second city Benghazi from the local IS affiliate, al Fajr Liyba (FL). Leading one to wonder whether the Libyan “army” will fare better than Maliki’s did in Mosul and Anbar.
According to students and staff at Tripoli University, (known as Fatah University during the Gadhafi decades) a few of whom this observer first met in the summer of 2011, and who lived the political events in their country since while some of their friends and relatives, as in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, are preparing to leave and start a new life somewhere. Hasan, a Gadhafi supporter I was with nearly daily three years ago in Tripoli still curses what, “NATO did this to our country. The Gadhafi regime was changing as you know Franklin, but the reformers were prevented from making the changes that Seif al Islam and his associates got their father to agree to. Remember when Saif said “My father wants to live in a tent where he is most happy and write a history of the Jamahiriya (land of the masses). He will offer advice but have just a ceremonial role out of politics? You remember that? We believed Seif didn’t we?. Anyhow, khalas!, Libya is finished! NATO gave it to Da’ish just as they gave Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria to Iran.”
Libya is now moving beyond al-Qaeda of Bin Laden, Zawahiri, and Abdelmalek Droukdel, to Baghdadi’s ISIS and its widely perceived logical offshoot Islamic State in the Islamic Maghreb (ISIM-Damis) now expanding in North Africa and the Sahel. Former rebels who fought against Gadhafi have formed powerful militias and seized control of large parts of Libya in the past three years. Back in mid-august of 2011, the late American journalist Marie Colvin and I stood on the balcony of the Corinthia Hotel opposites the still empty Marriott where some kid was practicing sniping from the roof, at my expense, as I pointed out to Marie a body floating just off the beach of the Mediterranean across the road. We walked over and examined it and decided while it was dressed in religious garb the man may have been an army deserter; there were increasing numbers in those days, because of his military style boots. We alerted some militia guys driving along the corniche who said they would report the body and before long an ambulance did arrive. Two of the militia waded out waist deep and pulled in the bloated body to shore, unlaced his tan leather boots while holding their noses from the stench. They then threw the new boots in the back of their pick-up and drove off with no more than a smiling ‘shukran habibis’ (thanks dears). Later that day Marie and I counted a column of 143 pickups with AK-47 jubilant fist waving rebels entering along the coastal road toward downtown Tripoli having come from battles in the east around Misrata. In the next few days we discussed how there seemed to be countless ‘free-cigarettes, $200 on the first of each month and your personal Kalasnikov’ militia popping up like mushrooms after a summer rain. Three years ago one of their battle cries was “Death to Gadafi—Yes to Freedom!” Today one hears around Tripoli another slogan from the lips of young men many of whom may be the same, chanting, “Death to the kafirs (disbelievers,” or infidels) Yes to Islam!Abas (that’s all!”
Seif el Islam still resides at his cell in Zintan which, even though jail is jail, has been upgraded from when he was captured in the Sahara making his way toward Niger and his finger was cut off as a warning.
Seif, has proposed talks and is ready to participate in bringing together Libya’s warring parties and aiding the transition to what he claims he was working on before the February 17, 2011 uprising in Benzhazi which quickly spread. Seif’s team would likely include his father’s cousin and confident Ahmed Gaddaf al-Dam, former Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kane, long-time Libyan diplomat, the widely respected Omar el Hamdi now is Cairo, and Seif’s sister Aisha, now living with his mother and children in the Gulf.
Seif has no illusions of returning Libya to the past, but argues that elements of the former regime deserved to be heard. “We were in the process of making broad reforms and my father gave me the responsibly to see them through. Unfortunately the revolt happened and both sides made mistakes that are now allowing extreme Islamist group like Da’ish to pick up the pieces and turn Libya into an extreme fundamentalist entity in their regional plans.”
With respect to Seifs trials, whether ins the Tripoli courthouse or at the International Criminal Court in the Hague, the odds of either happening anytime soon, ior at all, are fading as negotiations for an arrangement are reportedly progressing.
A solution is being sought, according to sources at the Justice Ministry in Tripoli because there are many problems with Seifs case which was supposed to begin earlier this year, and the case has been criticized by a number of international actors. Not least for which how Libya and the ICC have handled their cases. For example, Human Rights Watch has accused the Libyan government of failing to provide adequate legal representation and the ICC it has been unable to compel the Libyan government to allow it access — just one of many challenges to the ICC’s legitimacy in recent years. Meanwhile it is likely that Seif’s jailers, who increasing respects and admires him, may have other ideas that would enhance their own standing in Libya. In addition, certain NATO countries are said to be privately discussing with Washington, Paris London and Bonn the idea of finding a role for Seif and certain of his associates and family members in “the new Libya.”
According to Seif, and former regime officials, several NATO countries have sent messages claiming they did not intend for his father to be killed but were searching during the summer of 2011 for a refuge for his father in Africa. Seif does not believe them.
Seif al Islam still has substantial influence among tribes still loyal to Gaddafi as well as former regime officials in the army and government. The delegation Seif could assemble, including Ahmad Gadaff al-Dam, would benefit from the latter’s still strong connections with Arab governments, Morocco, Egypt, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and the UAE as well as some European countries.
More on this and other subjects related to Seif and the growing international recognition over the need for expulsion of Islamists from Libya, and a possible significant role for Seif, are expected to be discussed publicly soon.
The ISIS siege of Kobane continued overnight while cities across Turkey were set ablaze by Kurdish protestors. At least 19 civilians were killed by Turkish riot police who were trying to disperse angry crowds that had gathered to protest the government’s unwillingness to defend the predominantly Kurdish city. According to Hurriyet, “The worst violence was seen in Diyarbakır during a reported gunfight between the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) supporters and Hizbullah, a radical Islamist group whose members are mostly Kurdish and who allegedly aided the state in the torture and killing of Kurdish activists in the 1990s.” (Hurriyet)
Although the Turkish Parliament approved a measure to allow the government to carry out cross-border attacks on ISIS, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has not yet ordered its tanks and troops into battle. Erdogan has been dragging his feet so that ISIS will prevail over Kobane’s Kurdish fighters thus ending their struggle for autonomy and independence. This is why the reaction among Turkish Kurds has been so ferocious; it’s because Erdogan is using the Sunni radicals as a proxy army to batter the Kurds into submission. A scathing op-ed in last night’s Hurriyet summarized Erdogan’s tacit support for ISIS like this:
“Naturally, one has to ask who fathered, breastfed and nourished these Islamist terrorists in hopes and aspirations of creating a Sunni Muslim Brotherhood Khalifat state? Even when Kobane and many Turkish cities were on fire, did not the Turkish prime minister talk in his interview with CNN about his readiness to order land troops into the Syrian quagmire if Washington agreed to also target al-Assad?
This is a dirty game….” (Editorial, “Kobane and Turkey are Burning“, Hurriyet Daily News)
This is true, Turkey has “fathered, breastfed and nourished” Sunni extremism which is what makes the country a particularly untrustworthy ally in a war intended to defeat ISIS. According to author Nafeez Ahmed:
“With their command and control centre based in Istanbul, Turkey, military supplies from Saudi Arabia and Qatar in particular were transported by Turkish intelligence to the border for rebel acquisition. CIA operatives along with Israeli and Jordanian commandos were also training FSA rebels on the Jordanian-Syrian border with anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. In addition, other reports show that British and French military were also involved in these secret training programmes. It appears that the same FSA rebels receiving this elite training went straight into ISIS – last month one ISIS commander, Abu Yusaf, said, “Many of the FSA people who the west has trained are actually joining us.”
(“How the West Created the Islamic State“, Nafeez Ahmed, CounterPunch
Then there’s this from Tuesday’s USA Today:
“Militants have funneled weapons and fighters through Turkey into Syria. The Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, have networks in Turkey….
Turkish security and intelligence services may have ties to Islamic State militants. The group released 46 Turkish diplomats it had abducted the day before the United States launched airstrikes against it. Turkey, a NATO member, may have known the airstrikes were about to begin and pressured its contacts in the Islamic State to release its diplomats.
“This implies Turkey has more influence or stronger ties to ISIS than people would think,” Tanir said.”
(“5 reasons Turkey isn’t attacking Islamic State in Syria”, USA Today)
So while the connection between ISIS and Turkish Intelligence remains murky, it’s safe to say there is a connection which makes Turkey an unreliable partner in a prospective war against the same group. So why is Erdogan so eager to lead the charge into Syria?
It’s because Erdogan thinks he can use ISIS as cover for his real objective, which is seize Damascus, topple Assad and replace him with a Sunni stooge who will tilt in Ankara’s direction. This is from a post by Stratfor at Zero Hedge:
“This is why Turkey is placing conditions on its involvement in the battle against the Islamic State: It is trying to convince the United States and its Sunni Arab coalition partners that it will inevitably be the power administering this region. Therefore, according to Ankara, all players must conform to its priorities, beginning with replacing Syria’s Iran-backed Alawite government with a Sunni administration that will look first to Ankara for guidance.” (“Turkey, The Kurds And Iraq – The Prize & Peril Of Kirkuk”, zero hedge)
So this is why Turkey wants to spearhead the invasion into Syria, so it can expand its power in the region?
It appears so, but there’s more to it than just that. As is true with most conflicts in the Middle East, oil is also a major factor. The Turks expect to be big players in the regional energy market after Assad is removed and pipeline corridors are established from the giant South Pars/North Dome gas field off Qatar. The pipeline will run from Qatar, to Iraq, to Syria and on to Turkey, providing vital supplies for the voracious EU market. There are also plans for an Israel to Turkey pipeline accessing gas from the massive Leviathan gas field located off the coast of Gaza. Both of these projects will strengthen Turkey’s flagging economy as well as bolster its stature and influence in the region.
Naturally, the allure of wealth and power has been a decisive factor in shaping Ankara’s Syria policy. But there’s a good chance that Erdogan’s strategy will backfire and Turkey will get bogged down in a protracted conflict in which there are no clear winners and no easy way out. In this respect, Erdogan follows a long line of equally aggressive leaders whose ambitions clouded their judgment precipitating their downfall. Only a fool would think that Syria will be a cakewalk.
Turkey has made it clear that it will not go-it-alone in Syria. According to CNN report on Thursday:
“Turkey’s foreign minister insisted Thursday that it is not “realistic” for the world to expect it alone to launch a ground operation against ISIS, even as a monitoring group said the extremists had seized a chunk of a key battleground town near its border.” (CNN)
Erdogan wants US support although, so far, he has not stipulated whether that means ground troops or not. He has said repeatedly, however, that bombing ISIS from the air won’t achieve their purpose. And even on that score, the US has been AWOL. So far, the US has launched a mere six aerial attacks on ISIS positions on the outskirts of the city, not nearly enough to deter battle-hardened jihadis from pressing deeper into Kurdish territory. Could it be that Obama made a deal with Erdogan to allow Kobane to be overrun in exchange for concessions on the use of Turkish military bases that will be used to carry out attacks on Syria?
It could be, although there’s no way of knowing for sure. What’s clear is that Obama doesn’t really care what happens to the Kurds in Kobane or not. What matters to Obama is toppling Assad and replacing him with a US puppet. The death of innocent civilians at the hands of homicidal maniacs doesn’t even factor into Washington’s calculations. It’s just more grist for the mill. Now check out this excerpt from an article by Patrick Cockburn:
”The leader of the (Kurdish) PYD, Salih Muslim, is reported to have met officials from Turkish military intelligence to plead for aid but was told this would only be available if the Syrian Kurds abandoned their claim for self-determination, gave up their self-governing cantons, and agreed to a Turkish buffer zone inside Syria. Mr Muslim turned down the demands and returned to Kobani.” (ISIS on the Verge of Victory at Kobani”, Patrick Cockburn, Counterpunch)
Is this blackmail or what? Doesn’t this explain why Kurds are rioting and setting buildings ablaze across Turkey? How would you react, dear reader, if your people were told to either ‘Give up your dreams of independence or face a violent death at the hands of religious fanatics’? Would you think that was an unreasonable demand?
Erdogan wants to defeat the Kurdish fighters in Kobane and put an end to Kurdish nationalism. And he doesn’t care how he does it.
Keep in mind, that just this week, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in a CNN interview that the US must agree that Assad will be removed before Turkey will commit ground troops to the war against ISIS. To his credit, Obama has not yet agreed to Erdogan’s terms although pressure in Congress and the media is steadily building. And this is just one of Erdogan’s many demands. He also wants the US to implement a no-fly zone over Syria and to create buffer zone along the Turkish border. In exchange, Turkey will provide boots on the ground and the use of its military bases. The US can expect to pay a heavy price for Turkey’s help in Syria.
OBAMA: “Don’t do stupid shit”
US policy towards Syria is not yet set in stone, in fact, the Obama administration appears to be in a state of turmoil. It could be that Obama’s chief advisors see the potential pitfalls of an invasion of Syria or of persisting with the same lame policy of arming, training and funding Islamic radicals. Or it could it be that the administration doesn’t want to team up with an unreliable ally like Turkey whose Intel agencies have helped create the present crisis? Or it could simply be that Obama has decided to follow his own advice and “Don’t do stupid shit”. Whatever the reason, the administration seems to be vacillating on the way forward.
One can only hope that Obama will grasp the inherent risks of the poring more gas on the Middle East, reject the orders of his deep state handlers, and seek a peaceful solution to the crisis in Syria. That, of course, would require cooperation with Syria’s allies, Russia and Iran, to settle on a way to defeat the jihadis, strengthen Syria’s sovereign control over its own territory, and restore peace across the country. No doubt Assad would be more than willing to make democratic concessions if he believed it would save his country from the destruction of a full-blown war.
Okay, so what? So what if you’ve just joined ISIS, been given a sword and been sent off to Syria and Iraq. So what if you now have a huge bloody sword in your hand and you’ve just cut off somebody’s head? Big freaking deal. You’re the one that will be going to Hell, not me. But what I want to know is this: Where, exactly, did you get that huge bloody sword in the first place? “Swords R Us”?
From your local “Samurai of the Desert” katana convenience store?
To find out who is really financing, training and supplying ISIS, just check out who is supplying its swords.
“Made in China”? Of course. Isn’t everything these days. But who are the swords being shipped to?
Syrians aren’t supplying the swords. Syrians stand solidly behind Assad — as evidenced by their June elections, and also by the fact that almost all Syrian internal refugees flee to Assad refugee camps, and no one, I repeat, no one ever flees off to ISIS.
Syrians hate ISIS — almost as much as they hate being beheaded! Plus ISIS is still beheading their fathers and mothers and nephews and cousins and aunts. How can you possibly become BFFs with someone like that? Let alone give them more swords so that they can go after your wives and kids too?
According to a new Tweet just sent out from Kurdish Syria, “Hoped American planes will help us. Instead American tanks in the hands of ISIS are killing us.”
And Libya isn’t supplying the swords either. Why? Because Libya itself just had its head handed to it on a platter too — courtesy of the dread Sword of NATO. All that those American-backed “rebels” now in charge of the failed state of Libya are supplying ISIS with currently are some used American rocket launchers and RPGs left over from Benghazi, and a bunch of guys trained by the US to behead Gaddafi.
But perhaps Saudi Arabia is supplying the swords? After all, their state symbol is two swords and a palm tree. But I still don’t understand why the Saudis would do such a dumb thing — buy entire shipments of swords to give to creepy guys hovering right outside their borders? Aren’t the Saudis afraid of blow-back?
Aren’t the Saudi princes afraid that “Behead like a Pirate” day might be coming to Riyadh too?
And isn’t it bad enough already that a bunch of Saudis got their hands on those box-cutters over on the other side of the Atlantic back in 2001 — and just look at all the mischief that caused! Can Saudis really be trusted to play well with swords right in their very own backyards? Saudi Arabia is about to find out.
And how about Turkey? Seen any bloody swords stamped “Made in Istanbul” lately? But why would the Turks want to do that? The blow-back there would be even more immense. You’d have to be crazy to arm a horde of ISIS madmen to go next door and cut off your Syrian neighbors’ heads — no matter how much you hate Syrians. Oops, too late. Turkey has already supplied ISIS with every kind of weapon you can think of — and then naively hired ISIS to be its Neighborhood Watch.
But apparently Turkey thinks that by supplying weapons to ISIS (and also establishing a no-fly zone over Syria) that Syria will fail too and then Turkey will get the Ottoman empire back.
Sorry, Turkey. It’s heads. You lose.
But what about Israel? Did Israeli neo-cons supply all those swords? Who will ever know? Who the freak ever knows what Israeli neo-cons are up to? Certainly not the Jews who first hired them. And definitely not me. Ask the Mossad. But a fly on the wall at Mossad headquarters would probably hear something like this: “Those stupid Americans actually think that we are their only friends in the Middle East. However, before we came along America had no enemies there at all. Good job, guys!” Followed by a high-five.
The nightmare of having ISIS swordsmen let loose to create panic and havoc in the Arab world sounds like an Israeli neo-con wet dream to me.
And what about American neo-cons? Nah. Their most important product is weapons, sure, but they prefer selling Tomahawks rather than swords.
“But Jane,” you might say, “American weapons-manufacturers will sell anything to anyone, even swords to ISIS, if it will make them a buck.” Hell, they’d even sell drones to the Taliban if they thought that money was involved. They’d sell out America in a heartbeat for money. They’d probably even behead their own mothers for a few dollars more.
According to former Austrian general Matthias Ghalem, several years ago Al Qaeda wannabes “signed a financial-military contract to confront upcoming military and security challenges in southern Syria in the future…and that two deputies of Robert Stephen Ford, US former ambassador to Syria, were also present at the meeting…. And according to the Los Angeles Times, since the opening of a new US base in the desert in southwest of Jordan in November 2012, CIA operatives and US special operations troops have covertly trained these militants in groups of 20 to 45 at a time in two-week courses.”
But according to US vice-president Joe Biden, the Saudis are to blame for arming ISIS. Of course they are. But it is American weapons that these ISIS cutthroats are firing — and it is American humvees that ISIS is doing donuts with out in the desert too. So why not brandish American swords as well? American neo-cons suddenly draw a line in the sand against swords? But RPGs are okay?
And then there’s Russia. Russia stood silently by while the “Coalition of the Willing” beheaded Iraq and Libya. Would it really be in their best interests to let Syria and Iran get beheaded next? Or is Russia playing the “Afghanistan Game” with the US instead — wherein America slowly but surely beheads its own economy by trying to put eleven trillion dollars worth of “boots on the ground” all over the freaking world where they don’t belong?
Or did Iran sell ISIS the swords? With the American military-industrial complex and Israeli neo-cons using every trick in the book to try to find an excuse to put Iran’s head on the chopping block for fun and profit even as we speak? I think not.
And a friend of mine just asked me the following question: “Or else could it be that Libya and Syria are/were among the few remaining countries that have resisted the imposition of a central bank associated with the Bank of England/Federal Reserve?” Hadn’t thought of that. Hell, maybe the banksters bought ISIS their swords!
And now we get to the next question. Who the freak would ever even want to behead anyone in the first place? That takes a whole bunch of work. Not to mention all that blood-splatter involved — and with no laundromats in sight either.
You’ve got to be really really angry or crazy or both to cut off someone’s head. So what got these ISIS fruitcakes so pissed off in the first place? Perhaps it might have been all these past 60 or 70 years that they, their parents and their grandparents have spent trying to survive the constant “War on Arabs” by American colonialists and Israeli neo-cons? Perhaps this is what has finally sent them around the bend and into horror-movie mode?
Just be glad that ISIS got their inspiration for weapons from watching the “Walking Dead” and not from watching the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”. But I’m sure that the weapons industry would far rather prefer to produce chainsaws than swords. Chainsaws are a bit more profitable to make, more effectively bloody and just a bit less Old School.
The University of Al-Qaeda?
“Since 2003, Anglo-American power has secretly and openly coordinated direct and indirect support for Islamist terrorist groups linked to al-Qaeda across the Middle East and North Africa. This ill-conceived patchwork geostrategy is a legacy of the persistent influence of neoconservative ideology, motivated by longstanding but often contradictory ambitions to dominate regional oil resources, defend an expansionist Israel, and in pursuit of these, re-draw the map of the Middle East.” Nafeez Ahmed, “How the West Created the Islamic State“, CounterPunch
“The US created these terrorist organizations. America does not have the moral authority to lead a coalition against terrorism.” Hassan Nasralla, Secretary General of Hezbollah
October 06, 2014 “ICH” – “Counterpunch” – The Obama administration’s determination to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is pushing the Middle East towards a regional war that could lead to a confrontation between the two nuclear-armed rivals, Russia and the United States.
Last week, Turkey joined the US-led coalition following a vote in parliament approving a measure to give the government the authority to launch military action against Isis in Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made it clear that Turkish involvement would come at a price, and that price would be the removal of al Assad. According to Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News:
“Turkey will not allow coalition members to use its military bases or its territory in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) if the objective does not also include ousting the Bashar al-Assad regime, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hinted on Oct. 1…
“We are open and ready for any cooperation in the fight against terrorism. However, it should be understood by everybody that Turkey is not a country in pursuit of temporary solutions, nor will Turkey allow others to take advantage of it,” Erdoğan said in his lengthy address to Parliament.”..
“Turkey cannot be content with the current situation and cannot be a by-stander and spectator in the face of such developments.” (“Turkey will fight terror but not for temporary solutions: Erdoğan“, Hurriyet)
Officials in the Obama administration applauded Turkey’s decision to join the makeshift coalition. U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel hailed the vote as a “very positive development” while State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, “We welcome the Turkish Parliament’s vote to authorize Turkish military action…We’ve had numerous high-level discussions with Turkish officials to discuss how to advance our cooperation in countering the threat posed by ISIL in Iraq and Syria.”
In the last week, “Turkish tanks and other military units have taken position on the Syrian border.” Did the Obama administration strike a deal with Turkey to spearhead an attack on Syria pushing south towards Damascus while a small army of so called “moderate” jihadis– who are presently on the Israeli border– move north towards the Capital? If that is the case, then the US would probably deploy some or all of its 15,000 troops currently stationed in Kuwait “including an entire armored brigade” to assist in the invasion or to provide backup if Turkish forces get bogged down. The timeline for such an invasion is uncertain, but it does appear that the decision to go to war has already been made.
Turkish involvement greatly increases the chances of a broader regional war. It’s unlikely that Syria’s allies, Russia and Iran, will remain on the sidelines while Turkish tanks stream across the country on their way to Damascus. And while the response from Tehran and Moscow may be measured at first, it is bound to escalate as the fighting intensifies and tempers flare. The struggle for Syria will be a long, hard slog that will probably produce no clear winner. If Damascus falls, the conflict will morph into a protracted guerilla war that could spill over borders engulfing both Lebanon and Jordan. Apparently, the Obama administration feels the potential rewards from such a reckless and homicidal gambit are worth the risks.
No-Fly Zone Fakery
The Obama administration has made little effort to conceal its real objectives in Syria. The fight against Isis is merely a pretext for regime change. The fact that Major General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Chuck Hagel are angling for a no-fly zone over Syria exposes the “war against Isis” as a fraud. Why does the US need a no-fly zone against a group of Sunni militants who have no air force? The idea is ridiculous. The obvious purpose of the no-fly zone is to put Assad on notice that the US is planning to take control of Syrian airspace on its way to toppling the regime. Clearly, Congress could have figured this out before rubber stamping Obama’s request for $500 million dollars to arm and train “moderate” militants. Instead, they decided to add more fuel to the fire. If Congress seriously believes that Assad is a threat to US national security and “must go”, then they should have the courage to vote for sending US troops to Syria to do the heavy lifting. The idea of funding shadowy terrorist groups that pretend to be moderate rebels is lunacy in the extreme. It merely compounds the problem and increases the prospects of another Iraq-type bloodbath. Is it any wonder why Congress’s public approval rating is stuck in single digits?
TURKEY: A Major Player
According to many sources, Turkey has played a pivotal role in the present crisis, perhaps more than Saudi Arabia or Qatar. Consider the comments made by Vice President Joe Biden in an exchange with students at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University last week. Biden was asked: “In retrospect do you believe the United States should have acted earlier in Syria, and if not why is now the right moment?” Here’s part of what he said:
“…my constant cry was that our biggest problem is our allies – our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria. The Turks were great friends – and I have the greatest relationship with Erdogan, which I just spent a lot of time with – the Saudis, the Emiratis, etc. What were they doing? They were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad except that the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world…
So now what’s happening? All of a sudden everybody’s awakened because this outfit called ISIL which was Al Qaeda in Iraq, which when they were essentially thrown out of Iraq, found open space in territory in eastern Syria, work with Al Nusra who we declared a terrorist group early on and we could not convince our colleagues to stop supplying them. So what happened? Now all of a sudden – I don’t want to be too facetious – but they had seen the Lord. Now we have – the President’s been able to put together a coalition of our Sunni neighbors, because America can’t once again go into a Muslim nation and be seen as the aggressor – it has to be led by Sunnis to go and attack a Sunni organization.”
Biden apologized for his remarks on Sunday, but he basically let the cat out of the bag. Actually, what he said wasn’t new at all, but it did lend credibility to what many of the critics have been saying since the very beginning, that Washington’s allies in the region have been arming and funding this terrorist Frankenstein from the onset without seriously weighing the risks involved. Here’s more background on Turkey’s role in the current troubles from author Nafeez Ahmed:
“With their command and control centre based in Istanbul, Turkey, military supplies from Saudi Arabia and Qatar in particular were transported by Turkish intelligence to the border for rebel acquisition. CIA operatives along with Israeli and Jordanian commandos were also training FSA rebels on the Jordanian-Syrian border with anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. In addition, other reports show that British and French military were also involved in these secret training programmes. It appears that the same FSA rebels receiving this elite training went straight into ISIS – last month one ISIS commander, Abu Yusaf, said, “Many of the FSA people who the west has trained are actually joining us.” (“How the West Created the Islamic State“, Nafeez Ahmed, CounterPunch
Notice how the author points out the involvement of “CIA operatives”. While Biden’s comments were an obvious attempt to absolve the administration from blame, it’s clear US Intel agencies knew what was going on and were at least tangentially involved. Here’s more from the same article:
“Classified assessments of the military assistance supplied by US allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar obtained by the New York Times showed that “most of the arms shipped at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar to supply Syrian rebel groups… are going to hardline Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster.”
Once again, classified documents prove that the US officialdom knew what was going on and simply looked the other way. All the while, the hardcore takfiri troublemakers were loading up on weapons and munitions preparing for their own crusade. Here’s a clip that Congress should have read before approving $500 million more for this fiasco:
” … Mother Jones found that the US government has “little oversight over whether US supplies are falling prey to corruption – or into the hands of extremists,” and relies “on too much good faith.” The US government keeps track of rebels receiving assistance purely through “handwritten receipts provided by rebel commanders in the field,” and the judgment of its allies. Countries supporting the rebels – the very same which have empowered al-Qaeda affiliated Islamists – “are doing audits of the delivery of lethal and nonlethal supplies.”…
the government’s vetting procedures to block Islamist extremists from receiving US weapons have never worked.” (“How the West Created the Islamic State”, Nafeez Ahmed, CounterPunch)
These few excerpts should help to connect the dots in what is really a very hard-to-grasp situation presently unfolding in Syria. Yes, the US is ultimately responsible for Isis because it knew what was going on and played a significant part in arming and training jihadi recruits. And, no, Isis does not take its orders directly from Washington (or Langley) although its actions have conveniently coincided with US strategic goals in the region. (Many readers will undoubtedly disagree with my views on this.) Here’s one last clip on Turkey from an article in the Telegraph. The story ran a full year ago in October 2013:
“Hundreds of al-Qaeda recruits are being kept in safe houses in southern Turkey, before being smuggled over the border to wage “jihad” in Syria, The Daily Telegraph has learned.
The network of hideouts is enabling a steady flow of foreign fighters – including Britons – to join the country’s civil war, according to some of the volunteers involved.
These foreign jihadists have now largely eclipsed the “moderate” wing of the rebel Free Syrian Army, which is supported by the West. Al-Qaeda’s ability to use Turkish territory will raise questions about the role the Nato member is playing in Syria’s civil war.
Turkey has backed the rebels from the beginning – and its government has been assumed to share the West’s concerns about al-Qaeda. But experts say there are growing fears over whether the Turkish authorities may have lost control of the movement of new al-Qaeda recruits – or may even be turning a blind eye.” (“Al-Qaeda recruits entering Syria from Turkey safehouses“, Telegraph)
Get the picture? This is a major region-shaping operation that the Turks, the Saudis, the Qataris, the Americans etc are in on. Sure, maybe some of the jihadis went off the reservation and started doing their own thing, but even that’s not certain. After all, Isis has already achieved many of Washington’s implicit objectives: Dump Nuri al Maliki and replace him with a US stooge who will amend the Status of Forces Agreement. (SOFA), allow Sunni militants and Kurds to create their own de facto mini-states within Iraq (thus, eliminating the threat of a strong, unified Iraq that will challenge Israeli hegemony), and create a tangible threat to regional security (Isis) thereby justifying US meddling and occupation for the foreseeable future. So far, arming terrorists has been a winning strategy for Obama and Co. Unfortunately for the president, we are still in the early rounds of the emerging crisis. Things could backfire quite badly, and probably will.
(NOTE: According to Iran’s Press TV: “The ISIL terrorists have purportedly opened a consulate in Ankara, Turkey and use it to issue visas for those who want to join the fight against the Syrian and Iraqi governments….The militants are said to be operating freely inside the country without much problem.” I have my doubts about this report which is why I have put parentheses around it, but it is interesting all the same.)
CAMP BUCCA: University of Al-Qaeda
So where do the Sunni extremists in Isis come from?
There are varying theories on this, the least likely of which is that they responded to promotional videos and propaganda on social media. The whole “Isis advertising campaign” nonsense strikes me as a clever disinformation ploy to conceal what’s really going on, which is, that the various western Intel agencies have been recruiting these jokers from other (former) hotspots like Afghanistan, Libya, Chechnya, Kosovo, Somalia and prisons in Iraq. Isis not a spontaneous amalgam of Caliphate-aspiring revolutionaries who spend their off-hours trolling the Internet, but a collection of ex Baathists and religious zealots who have been painstakingly gathered to perform the task at hand, which is to lob off heads, spread mayhem, and create the pretext for US-proxy war. Check out this illuminating article on Alakhbar English titled “The mysterious link between the US military prison Camp Bucca and ISIS leaders”. It helps explain what’s really been going on behind the scenes:
“We have to ask why the majority of the leaders of the Islamic State (IS), formerly the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), had all been incarcerated in the same prison at Camp Bucca, which was run by the US occupation forces near Omm Qasr in southeastern Iraq….. First of all, most IS leaders had passed through the former U.S. detention facility at Camp Bucca in Iraq. So who were the most prominent of these detainees?
The leader of IS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, tops the list. He was detained from 2004 until mid-2006. After he was released, he formed the Army of Sunnis, which later merged with the so-called Mujahideen Shura Council…
Another prominent IS leader today is Abu Ayman al-Iraqi, who was a former officer in the Iraqi army under Saddam Hussein. This man also “graduated” from Camp Bucca, and currently serves as a member on IS’ military council.
Another member of the military council who was in Bucca is Adnan Ismail Najm. … He was detained on January 2005 in Bucca, and was also a former officer in Saddam’s army. He was the head of a shura council in IS, before he was killed by the Iraqi army near Mosul on June 4, 2014.
Camp Bucca was also home to Haji Samir, aka Haji Bakr, whose real name is Samir Abed Hamad al-Obeidi al-Dulaimi. He was a colonel in the army of the former Iraqi regime. He was detained in Bucca, and after his release, he joined al-Qaeda. He was the top man in ISIS in Syria…
According to the testimonies of US officers who worked in the prison, the administration of Camp Bucca had taken measures including the segregation of prisoners on the basis of their ideology. This, according to experts, made it possible to recruit people directly and indirectly.
Former detainees had said in documented television interviews that Bucca…was akin to an “al-Qaeda school,” where senior extremist gave lessons on explosives and suicide attacks to younger prisoners. A former prisoner named Adel Jassem Mohammed said that one of the extremists remained in the prison for two weeks only, but even so was able to recruit 25 out of 34 inmates who were there. Mohammed also said that U.S. military officials did nothing to stop the extremists from mentoring the other detainees…
No doubt, we will one day discover that many more leaders in the group had been detained in Bucca as well, which seems to have been more of a “terrorist academy” than a prison.” (“The mysterious link between the US military prison Camp Bucca and ISIS leaders“, Alakhbar English)
US foreign policy is tailored to meet US strategic objectives, which in this case are regime change, installing a US puppet in Damascus, erasing the existing borders, establishing forward-operating bases across the country, opening up vital pipeline corridors between Qatar and the Mediterranean so the western energy giants can rake in bigger profits off gas sales to the EU market, and reducing Syria to a condition of “permanent colonial dependency.” (Chomsky)
Would the United States oversee what-amounts-to a “terrorist academy” if they thought their jihadi graduates would act in a way that served US interests?
Indeed, they would. In fact, they’d probably pat themselves on the back for coming up with such a clever idea.
The ongoing failures of the Secret Service to provide proper protection for the President have political careerists in a tizzy. Scares that harm could come to the commander-in-chief, also worries the press. Ordinary citizens on principle, accept that the White House should be secure grounds. Rotating blame usually means that the buck does not stop on the oval office desk. Indeed, who could expect any President to be responsible for their own safety? Surely, policy decisions made as a government could not possibly have any bearing on the lunatics that harbor ill will towards our fearless leaders.
Refreshing your memory, Abraham Lincoln, James Garfield, William McKinley and John F. Kennedy got whacked. Andrew Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Gerald Ford and Ronald Reagan were targets of serious assassination attempts.
With all the Secret Service trial and tribulations experienced in the last years, the popular assessment is that the Praetorian Guard bodyguards have become a dysfunctional band of self-indulgent thrill seekers.
How much money is enough to spend on Presidential security? Some like ousted Secret Service Director Julia Pierson presumably would say a price tag cannot be placed on keeping the leader alive and safe from assassination. Though, Pierson failed to provide fresh start for Secret Service that administration wanted, proves that the culture of political privilege deems their importance to be most costly.
“Homeland Security requested $1.49 billion in operating funds for the Secret Service, a $60 million dip from last fiscal year. But even spending-conscious Republicans said that was too much. So Congress instead agreed to a rare increase over the administration’s request, giving the agency $1.53 billion.”
Such benevolence must come from a motivation to avoid another national tragedy. Absent in budget hearings is a serious debate if the propensity for violently eliminating presidents comes from pragmatic power political expediency as opposed to the usual conclusion that madmen (or women) are acting alone. Well, it is a nice myth if keeping the public living in a dream is the intent. Names like Lawrence, Guiteau, Czolgosz, Fromme and Moore do not carry the same notoriety as icons of assassins like Booth and Oswald, but official accounts paint them all as deranged.
Heads of state are far more cautious and seldom fall into the trap that their greatest danger comes from lone guns. There is good reason for Argentina president claims US plotting to oust her.
“Argentinian opposition politicians have accused the country’s president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, of being “completely out of touch with reality” after she gave a rambling televised address in which she claimed the US may be behind a plot to overthrow her government and possibly even assassinate her.
“If something should happen to me, don’t look to the Middle East, look to the North,” Fernández said during the address on Tuesday night, in which she alluded to an alleged plot against her by local bankers and businessmen “with foreign help”.
Is Ms. Fernández paranoid or just expressing a healthy appreciation of practices that have long been condoned?
When FDR approved Operation Vengeance, the killing of Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, it was during WWII. The NDAA Actually Gives Obama the Legal Authority to Kill. Just ponder the perversion in the meaning of the term legal. Examples of killing the king in history usually means the victor won the war. Somehow justifying NDAA methods as acceptable demeans every citizen who pledges their allegiance to a constitutional republic.
The New York Times confirms that the Secret ‘Kill List’ Proves a Test of Obama’s Principles and Will, but that begs the theoretical question what authority endows the right to even accept that a kill list is principled, much less a sensible decree of any government? Just where does the moral imperative enter into the craft of statesmanship?
“Mr. Obama has placed himself at the helm of a top secret “nominations” process to designate terrorists for kill or capture, of which the capture part has become largely theoretical. He had vowed to align the fight against Al Qaeda with American values; the chart, introducing people whose deaths he might soon be asked to order, underscored just what a moral and legal conundrum this could be.”
Those American values in the 21th century have little in common from those practiced at the inception of the country. Covert agencies on missions of foreign intrigue are commonly practiced. The use of “special forces” and ex-military contractors seek to enjoy the cover and exoneration that fighting terrorists is the biggest growth industry on the planet. Delineating war loosely without a declared and defined enemy state provides broad discretion to place any antagonist in the crosshairs.
Truth Lies Deception and Cover-ups argues The Presidents Kill List and State Sponsored Assassination is far more dangerous and frequently employed than publically admitted.
“If the “Kill List” nominally exists in the interest of National Security – it is fair to predict that, particularly in a country that estimates it’s own domestic enemies (who are tracked with their surveillance systems) to be in the order of millions – it would be easy to tack journalists or whistle-blowers on to such a list.
This would not be because journalists and whistleblowers present a risk to National Security – but, they present a risk of embarrassing the ruling elite in the government, government agencies, government contractors and the financial giants (or other cronies that lurk in the shadows and pull the strings of politicians and other officials with influence).”
Recall the evidence surrounding the Suspicions Growing Over Death of Journalist Probing NSA and CIA Abuses. The malicious culture that routinely orders foes neutralized by means once considered abhorrent, now defy restraints of civilized society.
“When the Obama administration was exposed spying on journalists earlier this year, the investigative reporter blasted what he referred to as the president’s “war” on journalism. “The Obama administration has clearly declared war on the press. It has declared war on investigative journalists — our sources,” he said during a recent TV interview, blasting the administration’s lawless behavior, obsession with secrecy, and vicious persecution of whistleblowers. Beyond simple criticism, though, Hastings openly said it was time for journalists to fight back.”
Government cover-ups operate as bait and switch sophistry. Exposing corruption once was the pursuit of the art of refined reporting. Now, serious investigative journalism is a threat to any imperial administration.
Revealing and documenting subversion is viewed as endangering the Oval Office. Threats to authoritarian presidents are not limited to high powered rifles. Without regard to life and limb, earning a place on the enemy list is becoming deadly serious.
If the Secret Service has the charge to protect the life of the President, the entire military-intelligence-security complex functions as a hit squad for the institution of the presidency itself. While conflicting factions within the government vie for their own parochial seats of power on a continuous basis the precarious real national security declines. Blowback against the country is evident in every foreign policy arena. Such resentment unsurprisingly places the President in a self-induced greater risk of retaliation.
However, it must be acknowledged that the successful presidential assassinations (and several of those that failed) aimed their fatal bullet at an office holder who defied the ruling cabal that actually controls the financial and economic establishment.
It is difficult to believe that a truly independent and patriotic warrior could ever campaign through the election process and vote count to become President. The enormous entourage that protects the Chief Executive has grown to become its own cottage industry. Lost in the concern for protecting one man is that the White House Continuity of Government Plan makes the elimination of a President merely a lateral move.
Since responsible citizens value the life and safety of legitimate authority, the task of reversing the State sponsored assassination culture is imperative. When your own government conducts their “Murder Inc.” bureau as part of their survival plan, people need to question the degree of loyalty which that same government deserves.
Clint Eastwood’s latest movie production ‘American Sniper’ about Navy SEAL Chris Kyle will hopefully compliment ‘In Line of Fire’ in which he starred as a secret service agent present at the JFK assassination. The other side of the assassination equation is mostly ignored.
Sorrowfully, government officials are locked into a denial mindset that disassociates any relationship and connection between increased levels of risks to officials and the sanctioned killings approved by their governments. Review 82 pages of a list of assassinated heads of state. It is hard to believe that such a record of terminal violence will end any time soon.
Royal guards have an impossible task, no matter how much their budget allows. Until the power structure “gets religion” and renounces their evil ways, the system will never permit a civilized society. Assassination is wrong and adopting such an approach only invites backfire threats. Keeping the President safe begins in implementing moral conduct and renouncing the killer elite mentality.
With election time almost upon us, here’s a rather sobering thought: By spending as little as a mere two billion dollars, anyone with that amount of money can now afford to buy an entire American election — Congress, the White House, governorships and all.
“But Jane,” you might ask, “why would anyone even want to do that?” Why? Just look at all the immense amount of loot you can score with just this tiny investment. Access to national park land, bank deregulation, profits from weapons production, corporate monopoly status, pro-pollution laws, judges’ rulings in your favor…need I go on?
For instance, eleven trillion dollars has been recently spent on escalating and pursuing fake wars. So if you “invest” in American elections and still only receive, say, just ten percent of those eleven trillion singles for your weapons-manufacturing services or whatever the heck else companies like Halliburton do, you still have just grown your measly two-billion-buck investment at least a thousand times over. Forever War really pays off!
Or if you are guys like Obama, Bush and Cheney — and can’t resist playing with war toys? Then you get to buy your very own wars! Lots and lots of wars. You get to play with actual life-sized GI Joe dolls and call yourself “Commander in Chief”. You get to bomb Libya and Ukraine and Iraq and Syria. What fun! Two billion dollars can buy you a hecka lot of war toys — eleven trillion dollars worth to be exact.
Or let’s say that your net worth is approximately 100 billion dollars, like, say, the Koch brothers’ worth is. You spend less than three percent of that money on buying elections — and voila! You too get over a thousand percent return on every dollar you spend. What kind of crazy-good investment is that!
Or let’s say you are a member of the notorious WalMart family, worth hundreds of billions of dollars. You spend just a few paltry billion on election buyouts — and suddenly us taxpayers are paying for all of your employees’ healthcare. And we’re throwing food stamps into the bargain too. Brilliant idea!
Or what if you own a giant coal company, oil company, car company, power company or some other major polluter? Common sense tells us voters that we need to cut down on polluting the atmosphere so as to avoid drastic climate change that even now threatens to kill off the whole human race.
We could have been using solar power all this time for instance — and also cleaned up our rivers and even eliminated the need for fossil fuel. But no. For a few (billion) dollars more at election time, you can potentially doom the entire human race. America, are we having fun yet?
Or let’s say for instance that you are AIPAC, that Israeli political action committee. Spend just two billion dollars to buy every election in America — up to and including the dog catcher? What a deal! And since Israel is already receiving three billion dollars every year from America, guaranteed, voted by Congress, you don’t even have to risk using your own moolah. You can use ours. Fabulous investment. http://www.counterpunch.org/
Plus you also get permission to bomb Gaza, take over the West Bank, design America’s stupid “Bomb Syria” policy, have red-carpet access to the entire Middle East (as in red carpets of blood) and get away with committing all kinds of other violations of the Nuremberg precedents and Geneva war crime conventions too.
According to Middle East expert Paul Larudee, “Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu infamously bragged that ‘America is a thing you can move very easily’.” Apparently all you need is just two billion bucks. Hell, Attila the Hun never even had that kind of power. Or even Josef Stalin. All he ever got out his American investments was the freaking Cold War.
But don’t worry, Josef! The Cold War is about to heat up again, thanks to AIPAC. Hell, now AIPAC is even an unofficial member of NATO (and apparently its most influential member too). And, as such, Israeli war hawks seem hell-bent on fomenting World War III. Does the American public really want to go there? I think not.
Or you could invest your capital in running America’s prison-industrial complex? Just think of all the cheap labor you’ll get! For much less than two billion in folding money, you don’t even have to ship your goods over from China any more. Plus you get to have them stamped “Made in America” too. Definitely a win-win for you.
Or what if you are Monsanto or Big Pharma or Bank of America or CitiCorp or Goldman Sachs or General Electric? For far less than two billion dollars, you can get rid of unions, create your own monopolies, write your own “regulations”, appoint your own “regulators” and rake in the profits. And if you are Big Media, our publicly-owned airwaves now belong to you. Think Rupert Murdock. Or net neutrality up in smoke. Think AT&T. Boo-yah!
Yep, America is for sale for really cheap these days. The total assets of the United States of America is currently 188 trillion dollars. And just think. For just a mere two billion simoleons, all that can be yours! Buy a little false advertizing, do a bit of voter-suppression, get your hands on a few electronic voting machines, tell a few lies on Fox News and CNN and, boom shake the room, you can own all of that. All $188,000,000,000,000.00 worth. “Worth playing for?” Yeah.
My country these days has become like some aging cheap whore, selling herself on street corners to the first two-bit John who comes along and offers her a couple of dollars.
America these days isn’t even a high-priced call girl any more.
“French aircraft were due to begin their first reconnaissance flights over Iraq,” France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius announced on September 15. Britain is already flying reconnaissance missions over Iraq. Several other countries – Arab ones included – say they are willing to support the air campaign. None seem interested in pledging any ground troops, however.
“Well, you will hear from Secretary Kerry on this over the coming days. And what he has said is that others have suggested that they’re willing to do that. But we’re not looking for that right now,” Chief of Staff Denis McDonough waffled on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, September 14. “We’re trying to put together the specifics of what we expect from each of the members,” he added, which is one way of saying the United States is finding it hard to persuade other countries to provide ground forces – something the self-designed leader of the “coalition” is unwilling to do. Also on “Meet the Press” James Baker noted that the biggest problem “of course, is who are our, quote, ‘partners on the ground’ that the president referred to in his speech. And I don’t know where they come from.” Let it be noted that Baker put forth an ad-hoc strategic plan that was, in fact, far better than the one outlined by Obama. He suggested joining forces with China, Russia, Iran, Syria and others, following a non-UN-sponsored international conference of genuine international leaders.
There are no “partners on the ground” for now, and those that the Administration wants to groom for the role are worse than none: McDonough conceded that ground troops are needed, “that’s why we want this program to train the [Syrian] opposition that’s currently pending in Congress.” In my curtain-raiser on President Obama’s much-heralded speech of September 10, posted two days before he delivered it (“Obama’s Non-Strategy”), I warned that he – disastrously – still counts on the non-existent “moderate rebels” in Syria to come on board, and still refuses to talk to Bashar al-Assad, whose army is the only viable force capable of confronting the IS now and for many years to come. In short, “he has no plan to systematically degrade the IS capabilities, no means to shrink the territory that they control, and certainly no strategy to defeat them.”
Obama’s address to the nation on September 10 confirmed all of the above, but it also contained numerous non sequiturs, falsehoods, and delusional assertions that need to be addressed one by one. (The President’s words are in italics.)
I want to speak to you about what the United States will do with our friends and allies to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.
This is an audacious statement of intent: not what the U.S. and America’s unnamed “friends and allies” will try to do, but what they will do to destroy an effective fighting force of some 30,000 fanatical jihadists at the time of this writing, and rapidly rising – an army, in fact, which is well armed and equipped, solvent, and highly motivated. Regardless of the coherence of Obama’s proposed methods – more of that later – what he announced is the beginning of yet another open-ended Middle Eastern war in which the United States will be fully committed and in which the “job” will not be considered “done” until and unless the IS is “destroyed.” Newt Gingrich is already salivating at the prospect of America spending “half of a century or more hunting down radicals, growing reliable self-governing allies, and convincing friends and neutrals to be anti-radical.” This nightmare is good news – at home – only for the military-industrial complex, and abroad for the jihadists of all color and hue. “Half a century or more” of such idiocy can only accelerate this country’s road to bankruptcy, financial as well as moral.
Over the last several years, we have consistently taken the fight to terrorists who threaten our country. We took out Osama bin Laden and much of al Qaeda’s leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Osama bin Laden’s death did not make one scintilla of difference. Al Qaeda’s (AQ) leadership is not a snake but a hydra: you can “take out” a hundred of its leaders today, and another hundred will take their place tomorrow. Successfully killing scores or thousandsof jihadists should not be confused with winning against jihad. More importantly – and Obama seems to be oblivious to the fact – al Qaeda is not a hierarchical organization, but a state of mind and a blueprint for action. Its non-affiliates, too – in Nigeria, Libya, Syria, the Philippines, Kashmir etc. – follow the same guiding principles and seek the same millenarian objectives. As any counterterrorism expert can tell you, “targeted” drone killings are doing more damage than good by angering local populations – which suffer “collateral damage” – thus providing an inexhaustible pool of fresh recruits for the jihadists (quite apart from legal and moral considerations).
We’ve targeted al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen, and recently eliminated the top commander of its affiliate in Somalia.
It is breathtaking that Obama should imply that Yemen and Somalia are his administration’s success stories that should be emulated in the campaign against the IS. As Nicholas Kristof noted in The New York Times, “Obama may be the only person in the world who would cite conflict-torn Yemen and Somalia as triumphs.”
Yemen is an ever-growing hotbed of terrorist activity regardless of (and more likely partly due to) more than 100 American airstrikes since 2002, which killed some 500 militants and over a hundred civilians. (When Yemeni kids are disobedient, their parents have a new tool of enforcing discipline: “A big American drone will come and get you!”) The Department of state admitted in its most recent worldwide terrorism report that “of the AQ affiliates, AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) continues to pose the most significant threat to the United States and U.S. citizens and interests in Yemen.” Its success, according to the report, is “due to an ongoing political and security restructuring within the government itself” [i.e. no effective government and no reliable security forces]. “AQAP continued to exhibit its capability by targeting government installations and security and intelligence officials, but also struck at soft targets, such as hospitals,” and it continues to expand territory under its control. Somalia is an utterly failed state with no functioning government, and al-Shabaab’s terrorist base from which complex operations are launched against soft targets in neighboring countries (notably last year’s attack on Nairobi’s Westgate mall, which killed at least 67 people).
If this is the model for the anti-IS campaign, then even a century of Newt’s “hunting down radicals, growing reliable self-governing allies, and convincing friends and neutrals to be anti-radical” will be a fiasco – albeit on an infinitely grander scale.
We’ve done so while bringing more than 140,000 American troops home from Iraq, and drawing down our forces in Afghanistan, where our combat mission will end later this year. Thanks to our military and counterterrorism professionals, America is safer.
The fruits of the war in Iraq are all too visible. It cannot be stated often enough that America’s war against Saddam – who never threatened the United States, and opposed Islamic terrorism – produced the IS, which is now treated as an existential threat which requires another American war to eliminate.
In Afghanistan the Taliban is well poised to make a comeback one, two, at most three years after the end of the American combat mission. It is able to carry out attacks in the center of the capital, Kabul, the latest of which – on September 16 – killed three members of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force. Safer, indeed.
Now let’s make two things clear: ISIL is not “Islamic.” No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL’s victims have been Muslim.
This is surreal. Obama may have been born and raised a Muslim, but he claims not to be a Muslim now; it is therefore as preposterous for him to pass judgments on the Islamic bona fides of Muslim entities as it would be for the Saudi king to decide whether the Orange Order of Ulster or the Episcopal Church are “Christian” (a purely technical parallel, of course). In any event, Obama’s theological credentials were established with clarity in the aftermath of James Foley’s beheading by the IS, when he declared (also in the context of absolving Islam of any connection with the IS) that “no just God would stand for what they did yesterday and what they do every single day.” Since they did what they did, this unambiguous statement means that – in Obama’s opinion – either there is no God, or God is not just.
Contrary to Obama’s assurances, Islam does condone the killing of infidels (non-Muslims) and apostates (Shiites) – they are not “innocents” by definition. And of course Muslims have been killing other Muslims – often on a massive scale – ever since three of the four early caliphs, Muhammad’s immediate successors, were murdered by their Muslim foes. It is immaterial whether ISIS is true to “Islam” as Obama chooses to define it. It is undeniable that it is true to the principles and practices of historical Islam.
Obama either does not know what he is talking about, or he is practicing a variety of taqiyya. As Nonie Darwish put it bluntly in the American Thinker on September 12, Obama does not want to go down in history as the one who destroyed and extinguished the dream of resurrecting the Islamic State. Under his watch Islam was placed on a pedestal and that helped revive the Islamic dream of the Caliphate:
Muslims felt that Obama was their man, under whom they had a chance to achieve their powerful Islamic state. Obama himself was not happy with the military takeover and destruction of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Jihadist ambition had to move away from Egypt to war-torn Syria and Iraq. For more than two years, Islamists have carried out flagrant and barbaric mass terrorism – beheadings, torture, kidnapping, and sexual slavery of women, men, and children. Obama ignored the problem until it blew up in our faces with the beheading of two Americans.
Even if he could defeat ISIS, Darwish argues, that would turn him into an infidel enemy number one of Islam – one who supported Muslims in their dream of the Caliphate by looking the other way, only to later crush it. Obama therefore cannot be honest about this dilemma regarding ISIS; “a dilemma between his duty to the USA, the country he chose to lead, and his dream of becoming the hero of the Muslim World who taught the West a lesson on how to treat Muslims. Obama will not obliterate ISIS but will contain it, as he said. He will eventually kick the can to the next administration, not only because he hates wars as he claims, but because he does not want to be enemy number one of Islam and the Muslims.” That is Obama’s dirty little secret that explains his paralysis before ISIS, Darwish concludes: “Ironically, the man who claimed to have healed the relationship between the West and the Muslim world will go down in history as the one who helped the rise and the bloody fall of the Islamic State and perhaps America itself.”
And ISIL is certainly not a state… It is recognized by no government, nor the people it subjugates.
Obama does not know the feelings of some ten million people under IS control. Many of those who did not cherish life under its black banner have already fled to Damascus, Baghdad, or Erbil. There is no doubt that it is successful in attracting thousands upon thousands of new recruits every month. And as I wrote in the current issue of Chronicles, the Caliphate is a “state” whether we like it or not:
Traditional international law postulates the possession of population, of territory, and the existence of a government that exercises effective control over that population and territory: a state exists if it enjoys a monopoly on coercive mechanisms within its domain, which the caliphate does. After all, unrecognized state entities such as Transnistria, Abkhazia, Northern Cyprus, South Ossetia, and Nagorno-Karabakh command their denizens’ overwhelming loyalty and exercise effectively undisputed control over their entire territory. Some international jurists may cite the ability of the self-proclaimed state’s authority to engage in international discourse, but that is a moot point. The capacity to control a putative state’s territory and population almost invariably leads to such ability, regardless of the circumstances of that state’s inception: South Sudan is a recent case in point, and the creation of Israel in 1947 also comes to mind.
ISIS controls an area the size of Montana in northeastern Syria and western and northwestern Iraq. It has substantial funds at its disposal, initially given it by the Saudis, Kuwaitis, Turks, Qataris, Bahrainis, UAE donors, et al., and augmented to the tune of half a billion dollars looted from the Iraqi government vaults in Mosul and Tikrit. It is effective in collecting taxes, tolls, and excise duties. With no debts or liabilities, the existing stash and ongoing cash flow makes the emerging Caliphate more solvent than dozens of states currently represented in the UN. It has enough oil and derivatives not only for its own needs, but also to earn the foreign exchange needed to buy all the food and other goods it needs from abroad.
ISIL is a terrorist organization, pure and simple.
It is not that (see above). This statement reflects a conceptual delusion which ab initio cannot provide the basis for a sound strategy. Obama’s own State Department declared as far back as July 23 that “ISIL is no longer simply a terrorist organization” – or at least that is what Brett McGurk, deputy assistant secretary for Iraq and Iran, told a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on that day. “It is now a full-blown army seeking to establish a self-governing state through the Tigris and Euphrates Valley in what is now Syria and Iraq.”
And it has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.
It does have a vision. That vision is eminently Islamic in its millenarian strategic objectives, in its tactics, and in its methods. It is no more utopian than Obama’s vision of an “indispensable” America, which – as he put it at the very end of his speech – stands for “freedom, justice and dignity,” an America which defends those “timeless ideals that will endure long after those who offer only hate and destruction have been vanquished from the Earth.”
In its self-proclaimed status as a caliphate, the IS claims – in principle – religious authority over all Muslims in the world, and ultimately aspires to bring all Muslim-inhabited lands of the world under its political control. Last June ISIS published a document which announced that “the legality of all emirates, groups, states and organizations becomes null by the expansion of the khilafah’s authority and arrival of its troops to their areas.” It rejects the political divisions established by Western powers in the Sykes–Picot Agreement of 1917. Its self-declared immediate-to-medium-term goal is to conquer Iraq, Syria and other parts of al-Sham – the loosely-defined Levant region – including Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Cyprus and southeastern Turkey. It is a bold, even audacious vision, but a vision it most certainly is.
In a region that has known so much bloodshed, these terrorists are unique in their brutality. They execute captured prisoners. They kill children. They enslave, rape, and force women into marriage. They threatened a religious minority with genocide.
There is absolutely nothing “unique” in the IS fighters’ brutality. They are only following the example of their prophet. Muhammad executed Meccan prisoners after the battle of Badr in 624AD. He condoned the killing of women and children besieged in Ta’if in 630. He and his followers enslaved, raped and forced into marriage Jewish women after he massacred the men of the Jewish tribes of Banu Qurayzain 627 and Banu Nadir in 629. He even “married” one of the captured Banu Nadir women, Safiyya bint Huyayy captured after the men Banu Nadir were massacred. He did not “threaten” the Jews of the Arabian peninsula with genocide, he carried that genocide so thoroughly that not a trace of them remains to this day. Christians living in the IS who want to remain in the “caliphate” face three options according to IS officials: converting to Islam, paying a religious tax (jizya), or “the sword.” This choice is as conventionally Islamic as it gets, having been stipulated many times in the Quran and hadith.
But this is not our fight alone. American power can make a decisive difference, but we cannot do for Iraqis what they must do for themselves, nor can we take the place of Arab partners in securing their region. That’s why I’ve insisted that additional U.S. action depended upon Iraqis forming an inclusive government, which they have now done in recent days… I can announce that America will lead a broad coalition to roll back this terrorist threat.
The would-be coalition of Sunni Muslim “partners” includes those who had been aiding and abetting ISIS for years, and who have neither the will nor the resources to fight it. As I wrote here last week, those countries’ military forces are unable to confront an enemy which consists of highly motivated light infantry, knows the terrain, enjoys considerable popular support, and operates in small motorized formations:
On the basis of its poor showing in Yemen it is clear that the Saudis in particular are no better than the Iraqi army which performed so miserably last June. Even when united in their overall strategic objectives, Arab armies are notoriously unable to develop integrated command and control systems – as was manifested in 1947-48, in the Seven-Day War of 1967, and in the Yom Kippur War of 1973. Their junior officers are discouraged from making independent tactical decisions by their inept superiors who hate delegating authority. Both are, inevitably, products of a culture steeped in strictly hierarchical modes of thought and action. Furthermore, their expensive hardware integrated into hard to maneuver brigade-sized units is likely to be useless against an elusive enemy who will avoid pitched battles.
An additional unresolved problem is Turkey, which is staying aloof and will not allow even U.S. facilities in its territory to be used for the air campaign. Erdogan is definitely not a “partner,” and Turkey continues to tolerate steady recruiting of ISIS volunteers in its territory as well as the passage of foreign jihadists across the 550-mile borderit shares with Syria and Iraq.
The most important problem in creating a coalition with Obama’s “Arab partners” is religious, however. The leaders of all Sunni Arab countries and Turkey are well aware that, contrary to Obama’s claims, ISIS is a Muslim group firmly rooted in the teachings and practices of orthodox Sunni Islam. They are loath to ally themselves with the kuffar in fighting those who want to fulfill the divine commandment to strive to create the Sharia-based universal caliphate. Those leaders are for the most part serious believers, and they do not want to go to hell.
Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy. First, we will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists. Working with the Iraqi government, we will expand our efforts … so that we’re hitting ISIL targets as Iraqi forces go on offense.
The Shia-dominated Iraqi army is not to be counted upon, as attested by its flight from Mosul, and it cannot be counted upon to cooperate with the armed forces of the overtly anti-Shia regimes, even if in the fullness of time they provided ground troops. The Kurdish pershmerga also would be loath to treat Saudis or Qataris as brothers-in-arms. Even if they were capable of major operations, which they are not, both the Iraqi army and the peshmerga would be perceived by the Sunni Arab majority in northwestern Iraq as an occupying force with the predictable result that the “caliphate” could count on thousands of fresh volunteers. Obama’s “regional allies” could end up helping their Sunni coreligionists fight the Shia “apostates.” They regard the IS in western Iraq and northeastern Syria as a welcome buffer against the putative Shia crescent extending from Iran to the Lebanese coast. As for the “Iraqi forces,” they are devoid of any offensive potential now and that will not change for years to come.
Across the border, in Syria, we have ramped up our military assistance to the Syrian opposition… In the fight against ISIL, we cannot rely on an Assad regime that terrorizes its people; a regime that will never regain the legitimacy it has lost. Instead, we must strengthen the opposition as the best counterweight to extremists like ISIL, while pursuing the political solution necessary to solve Syria’s crisis once and for all.
“The Syrian opposition” is ideologically indistinguishable from the IS, militarily ineffective, internally divided, and far keener to renew its stalled fight against Bashar al-Assad than to fight the Caliphate. America’s would-be “coalition” partners have indirectly indicated that they are aware of this fact: several mentioned Iraq when announcing the proposed military measures last Monday, but none made any mention of the challenge next door.
Obama’s present heavy reliance on the “Syrian opposition” is at odds with his own doubts about its viability, which were openly expressed in an interview with New York Times’s Tom Friedman only a month earlier:
“With ‘respect to Syria,’ said the president, the notion that arming the rebels would have made a difference has ‘always been a fantasy. This idea that we could provide some light arms or even more sophisticated arms to what was essentially an opposition made up of former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth, and that they were going to be able to battle not only a well-armed state but also a well-armed state backed by Russia, backed by Iran, a battle-hardened Hezbollah, that was never in the cards.’”
Now, however, Obama is rejecting cooperation with Damascus – the only realist course with any chance of success – and is relying on a “fantasy” scenario to create some boots on the ground. No lessons have been drawn from Libya’s collapse into bloody anarchy, or from the failure of America’s decade-long effort to train and equip the Iraqi army, which disintegrated when faced with the IS three months ago. Such fiascos notwithstanding, Obama wants to build up a Syrian rebel force as one of the pillars of his strategy – that same force of which he said to Friedman on August 8 that “there’s not as much capacity as you would hope.”
We will continue providing humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians who have been displaced by this terrorist organization. This includes Sunni and Shia Muslims who are at grave risk, as well as tens of thousands of Christians and other religious minorities. We cannot allow these communities to be driven from their ancient homelands.
“Tens of thousands of Christians” is a hundred-fold reduction of the magnitude of the problem that long-suffering community has faced in the region since the start of the Iraqi war in 2003. Obama’s statement is the exact numerical and moral equivalent to saying that “hundreds of thousands of European Jews” were at grave risk at the time of the Wannsee conference. As Peggy Noonan wrote the other day in the Wall Street Journal, “genocide” is the right word to describe the plight of the region’s Christians, noting that “for all his crimes and failings, Syria’s justly maligned Assad was not attempting to crush his country’s Christians. His enemies were – the jihadists, including those who became the Islamic State.” As well as those, let us add, who are now being groomed by the President of the United States to fight the Islamic State. No wonder he is deliberately and cynically minimizing the plight of his protégés’ Christian victims.
This is our strategy.
Lord have mercy!
This is American leadership at its best: we stand with people who fight for their own freedom; and we rally other nations on behalf of our common security and common humanity.
My Administration has also secured bipartisan support for this approach here at home. I have the authority to address the threat from ISIL.
This is disputable. Obama refers to the authorization originally concerning action against al-Qaeda, treating as a blank check for starting a new war of unknown magnitude and duration.
This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.
Deja-vu all over again. On the grimly positive note, more Yemeni and Somali-like “successes” may be needed to accelerate America’s eventual return home.
America is better positioned today to seize the future than any other nation on Earth.
It would be a cliché to state that Obama is either deluded or stunningly cynical. He is both, of course, I’d say roughly 60:40.
Our technology companies and universities are unmatched; our manufacturing and auto industries are thriving. Energy independence is closer than it’s been in decades. For all the work that remains, our businesses are in the longest uninterrupted stretch of job creation in our history.
Cringe again: tasteless, self-serving inanities that have nothing to do with ISIS or strategy. Obama’s psychopatic narcissism trumps that of the Clintons, impossible as it may have seemed.
Abroad, American leadership is the one constant in an uncertain world. It is America that has the capacity and the will to mobilize the world against terrorists.
“The world,” indeed, minus Russia, China, India, Brazil, Argentina, Iran, South Africa, and scores of lesser powers on all continents (save Australia) which have the capacity and the will to reject Obama’s audacious and increasingly absurd notions of global leadership.
It is America that has rallied the world against Russian aggression, and in support of the Ukrainian peoples’ right to determine their own destiny. It is America – our scientists, our doctors, our know-how – that can help contain and cure the outbreak of Ebola. It is America that helped remove and destroy Syria’s declared chemical weapons so they cannot pose a threat to the Syrian people – or the world – again.
There is no “Russian aggression,” and “the Ukrainian peoples’ right to determine their own destiny” was brazenly undermined by the State Department/CIA-engineered coup d’etat in Kiev last February. It is preposterous for Obama to take credit for the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons – it was Vladimir Putin’s diplomatic coup which got Obama off the hook when Congress and the public at large expressed their opposition to the intended bombing of Syria. But yes, American scientists and doctors definitely “can help contain and cure the outbreak of Ebola.” That was the only true statement in Obama’s address. Its relevance to his anti-IS strategy is unclear.
And it is America that is helping Muslim communities around the world not just in the fight against terrorism, but in the fight for opportunity, tolerance, and a more hopeful future.
… especially in places like Marseilles, Antwerp, Malmo, Dortmund, and Dearborn, Michigan.
America, our endless blessings bestow an enduring burden. But as Americans, we welcome our responsibility to lead. From Europe to Asia – from the far reaches of Africa to war-torn capitals of the Middle East – we stand for freedom, for justice, for dignity. These are values that have guided our nation since its founding.
Obama wouldn’t know the founding values if they hit him in the head. He is the worst president of the United States in history after all. That is no mean feat, considering the competition.
Ever since serious protest broke out in Ukraine in February the Western mainstream media, particularly in the United States, has seriously downplayed the fact that the usual suspects – the US/European Union/NATO triumvirate – have been on the same side as the neo-Nazis. In the US it’s been virtually unmentionable. I’m sure that a poll taken in the United States on this issue would reveal near universal ignorance of the numerous neo-Nazi actions, including publicly calling for death to “Russians, Communists and Jews”. But in the past week the dirty little secret has somehow poked its head out from behind the curtain a bit.
On September 9 NBCnews.com reported that “German TV shows Nazi symbols on helmets of Ukraine soldiers”. The German station showed pictures of a soldier wearing a combat helmet with the “SS runes” of Hitler’s infamous black-uniformed elite corps. (Runes are the letters of an alphabet used by ancient Germanic peoples.) A second soldier was shown with a swastika on his helmet.
On the 13th, the Washington Post showed a photo of the sleeping quarter of a member of the Azov Battalion, one of the Ukrainian paramilitary units fighting the pro-Russian separatists. On the wall above the bed is a large swastika. Not to worry, the Post quoted the platoon leader stating that the soldiers embrace symbols and espouse extremist notions as part of some kind of “romantic” idea.
Yet, it is Russian president Vladimir Putin who is compared to Adolf Hitler by everyone from Prince Charles to Princess Hillary because of the incorporation of Crimea as part of Russia. On this question Putin has stated:
The Crimean authorities have relied on the well-known Kosovo precedent, a precedent our Western partners created themselves, with their own hands, so to speak. In a situation absolutely similar to the Crimean one, they deemed Kosovo’s secession from Serbia to be legitimate, arguing everywhere that no permission from the country’s central authorities was required for the unilateral declaration of independence. The UN’s international court, based on Paragraph 2 of Article 1 of the UN Charter, agreed with that, and in its decision of 22 July 2010 noted the following, and I quote verbatim: No general prohibition may be inferred from the practice of the Security Council with regard to unilateral declarations of independence.
Putin as Hitler is dwarfed by the stories of Putin as invader (Vlad the Impaler?). For months the Western media has been beating the drums about Russia having (actually) invaded Ukraine. I recommend reading: “How Can You Tell Whether Russia has Invaded Ukraine?” by Dmitry Orlov
And keep in mind the NATO encirclement of Russia. Imagine Russia setting up military bases in Canada and Mexico, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Remember what a Soviet base in Cuba led to.
Has the United States ever set a bad example?
Ever since that fateful day of September 11, 2001, the primary public relations goal of the United States has been to discredit the idea that somehow America had it coming because of its numerous political and military acts of aggression. Here’s everyone’s favorite hero, George W. Bush, speaking a month after 9-11:
“How do I respond when I see that in some Islamic countries there is vitriolic hatred for America? I’ll tell you how I respond: I’m amazed. I’m amazed that there’s such misunderstanding of what our country is about that people would hate us. I am – like most Americans, I just can’t believe it because I know how good we are.”
Thank you, George. Now take your pills.
I and other historians of US foreign policy have documented at length the statements of anti-American terrorists who have made it explicitly clear that their actions were in retaliation for Washington’s decades of international abominations. But American officials and media routinely ignore this evidence and cling to the party line that terrorists are simply cruel and crazed by religion; which many of them indeed are, but that doesn’t change the political and historical facts.
This American mindset appears to be alive and well. At least four hostages held in Syria recently by Islamic State militants, including US journalist James Foley, were waterboarded during their captivity. The Washington Post quoted a US official: “ISIL is a group that routinely crucifies and beheads people. To suggest that there is any correlation between ISIL’s brutality and past U.S. actions is ridiculous and feeds into their twisted propaganda.”
The Post, however, may have actually evolved a bit, adding that the “Islamic State militants … appeared to model the technique on the CIA’s use of waterboarding to interrogate suspected terrorists after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.”
Talk given by William Blum at a Teach-In on US Foreign Policy, American University, Washington, DC, September 6, 2014
Each of you I’m sure has met many people who support American foreign policy, with whom you’ve argued and argued. You point out one horror after another, from Vietnam to Iraq. From god-awful bombings and invasions to violations of international law and torture. And nothing helps. Nothing moves this person.
Now why is that? Are these people just stupid? I think a better answer is that they have certain preconceptions. Consciously or unconsciously, they have certain basic beliefs about the United States and its foreign policy, and if you don’t deal with these basic beliefs you may as well be talking to a stone wall.
The most basic of these basic beliefs, I think, is a deeply-held conviction that no matter what the United States does abroad, no matter how bad it may look, no matter what horror may result, the government of the United States means well. American leaders may make mistakes, they may blunder, they may lie, they may even on the odd occasion cause more harm than good, but they do mean well. Their intentions are always honorable, even noble. Of that the great majority of Americans are certain.
Frances Fitzgerald, in her famous study of American school textbooks, summarized the message of these books: “The United States has been a kind of Salvation Army to the rest of the world: throughout history it had done little but dispense benefits to poor, ignorant, and diseased countries. The U.S. always acted in a disinterested fashion, always from the highest of motives; it gave, never took.”
And Americans genuinely wonder why the rest of the world can’t see how benevolent and self-sacrificing America has been. Even many people who take part in the anti-war movement have a hard time shaking off some of this mindset; they march to spur America – the America they love and worship and trust – they march to spur this noble America back onto its path of goodness.
Many of the citizens fall for US government propaganda justifying its military actions as often and as naively as Charlie Brown falling for Lucy’s football.
The American people are very much like the children of a Mafia boss who do not know what their father does for a living, and don’t want to know, but then wonder why someone just threw a firebomb through the living room window.
This basic belief in America’s good intentions is often linked to “American exceptionalism”. Let’s look at how exceptional US foreign policy has been. Since the end of World War 2, the United States has:
- Attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically-elected.
- Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries.
- Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.
- Attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries.
- Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries.
- Led the world in torture; not only the torture performed directly by Americans upon foreigners, but providing torture equipment, torture manuals, lists of people to be tortured, and in-person guidance by American teachers, especially in Latin America.
This is indeed exceptional. No other country in all of history comes anywhere close to such a record.
So the next time you’re up against a stone wall … ask the person what the United States would have to do in its foreign policy to lose his support. What for this person would finally be TOO MUCH. If the person mentions something really bad, chances are the United States has already done it, perhaps repeatedly.
Keep in mind that our precious homeland, above all, seeks to dominate the world. For economic reasons, nationalistic reasons, ideological, Christian, and for other reasons, world hegemony has long been America’s bottom line. And let’s not forget the powerful Executive Branch officials whose salaries, promotions, agency budgets and future well-paying private sector jobs depend upon perpetual war. These leaders are not especially concerned about the consequences for the world of their wars. They’re not necessarily bad people; but they’re amoral, like a sociopath is.
Take the Middle East and South Asia. The people in those areas have suffered horribly because of Islamic fundamentalism. What they desperately need are secular governments, which have respect for different religions. And such governments were actually instituted in the recent past. But what has been the fate of those governments?
Well, in the late 1970s through much of the 1980s, Afghanistan had a secular government that was relatively progressive, with full rights for women, which is hard to believe, isn’t it? But even a Pentagon report of the time testified to the actuality of women’s rights in Afghanistan. And what happened to that government? The United States overthrew it, allowing the Taliban to come to power. So keep that in mind the next time you hear an American official say that we have to remain in Afghanistan for the sake of women’s rights.
After Afghanistan came Iraq, another secular society, under Saddam Hussein. And the United States overthrew that government as well, and now the country is overrun by crazed and bloody jihadists and fundamentalists of all kinds; and women who are not covered up are running a serious risk.
Next came Libya; again, a secular country, under Moammar Gaddafi, who, like Saddam Hussein, had a tyrant side to him but could in important ways be benevolent and do marvelous things for Libya and Africa. To name just one example, Libya had a high ranking on the United Nation’s Human Development Index. So, of course, the United States overthrew that government as well. In 2011, with the help of NATO we bombed the people of Libya almost every day for more than six months. And, once again, this led to messianic jihadists having a field day. How it will all turn out for the people of Libya, only God knows, or perhaps Allah.
And for the past three years, the United States has been doing its best to overthrow the secular government of Syria. And guess what? Syria is now a playground and battleground for all manner of ultra militant fundamentalists, including everyone’s new favorite, IS, the Islamic State. The rise of IS owes a lot to what the US has done in Iraq, Libya, and Syria in recent years.
We can add to this marvelous list the case of the former Yugoslavia, another secular government that was overthrown by the United States, in the form of NATO, in 1999, giving rise to the creation of the largely-Muslim state of Kosovo, run by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). The KLA was considered a terrorist organization by the US, the UK and France for years, with numerous reports of the KLA being armed and trained by al-Qaeda, in al-Qaeda camps in Pakistan, and even having members of al-Qaeda in KLA ranks fighting against the Serbs of Yugoslavia. Washington’s main concern was dealing a blow to Serbia, widely known as “the last communist government in Europe”.
The KLA became renowned for their torture, their trafficking in women, heroin, and human body parts; another charming client of the empire.
Someone looking down upon all this from outer space could be forgiven for thinking that the United States is an Islamic power doing its best to spread the word – Allah Akbar!
But what, you might wonder, did each of these overthrown governments have in common that made them a target of Washington’s wrath? The answer is that they could not easily be controlled by the empire; they refused to be client states; they were nationalistic; in a word, they were independent; a serious crime in the eyes of the empire.
So mention all this as well to our hypothetical supporter of US foreign policy and see whether he still believes that the United States means well. If he wonders how long it’s been this way, point out to him that it would be difficult to name a single brutal dictatorship of the second half of the 20th Century that was not supported by the United States; not only supported, but often put into power and kept in power against the wishes of the population. And in recent years as well, Washington has supported very repressive governments, such as Saudi Arabia, Honduras, Indonesia, Egypt, Colombia, Qatar, and Israel.
And what do American leaders think of their own record? Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was probably speaking for the whole private club of our foreign-policy leadership when she wrote in 2000 that in the pursuit of its national security the United States no longer needed to be guided by “notions of international law and norms” or “institutions like the United Nations” because America was “on the right side of history.”
Let me remind you of Daniel Ellsberg’s conclusion about the US in Vietnam: “It wasn’t that we were on the wrong side; we were the wrong side.”
Well, far from being on the right side of history, we have in fact fought – I mean actually engaged in warfare – on the same side as al Qaeda and their offspring on several occasions, beginning with Afghanistan in the 1980s and 90s in support of the Islamic Moujahedeen, or Holy Warriors.
The US then gave military assistance, including bombing support, to Bosnia and Kosovo, both of which were being supported by al Qaeda in the Yugoslav conflicts of the early 1990s.
In Libya, in 2011, Washington and the Jihadists shared a common enemy, Gaddafi, and as mentioned, the US bombed the people of Libya for more than six months, allowing jihadists to take over parts of the country; and they’re now fighting for the remaining parts. These wartime allies showed their gratitude to Washington by assassinating the US ambassador and three other Americans, apparently CIA, in the city of Benghazi.
Then, for some years in the mid and late 2000s, the United States backed Islamic militants in the Caucasus region of Russia, an area that has seen more than its share of religious terror going back to the Chechnyan actions of the 1990s.
Finally, in Syria, in attempting to overthrow the Assad government, the US has fought on the same side as several varieties of Islamic militants. That makes six occasions of the US being wartime allies of jihadist forces.
I realize that I have fed you an awful lot of negativity about what America has done to the world, and maybe it’s been kind of hard for some of you to swallow. But my purpose has been to try to loosen the grip on your intellect and your emotions that you’ve been raised with – or to help you to help others to loosen that grip – the grip that assures you that your beloved America means well. US foreign policy will not make much sense to you as long as you believe that its intentions are noble; as long as you ignore the consistent pattern of seeking world domination, which is a national compulsion of very long standing, known previously under other names such as Manifest Destiny, the American Century, American exceptionalism, globalization, or, as Madeleine Albright put it, “the indispensable nation” … while others less kind have used the term “imperialist”.
In this context I can’t resist giving the example of Bill Clinton. While president, in 1995, he was moved to say: “Whatever we may think about the political decisions of the Vietnam era, the brave Americans who fought and died there had noble motives. They fought for the freedom and the independence of the Vietnamese people.” Yes, that’s really the way our leaders talk. But who knows what they really believe?
It is my hope that many of you who are not now activists against the empire and its wars will join the anti-war movement as I did in 1965 against the war in Vietnam. It’s what radicalized me and so many others. When I hear from people of a certain age about what began the process of losing their faith that the United States means well, it’s Vietnam that far and away is given as the main cause. I think that if the American powers-that-be had known in advance how their “Oh what a lovely war” was going to turn out they might not have made their mammoth historical blunder. Their invasion of Iraq in 2003 indicates that no Vietnam lesson had been learned at that point, but our continuing protest against war and threatened war in Afghanistan, Iran, Syria, and elsewhere may have – may have! – finally made a dent in the awful war mentality. I invite you all to join our movement. Thank you.
- NBC News, “German TV Shows Nazi Symbols on Helmets of Ukraine Soldiers”, September 6 2014
- BBC, March 18, 2014
- Information Clearinghouse, “How Can You Tell Whether Russia has Invaded Ukraine?”, September 1 2014
- Boston Globe, October 12, 2001
- See, for example, William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower(2005), chapter 1
- Washington Post, August 28, 2014
- Foreign Affairs magazine (Council on Foreign Relations), January/February 2000