If a famine befell us and you couldn’t save everyone, would you withhold the food you had and let every citizen starve rather than endure the inequality of just saving some? If recent history is any guide, certain leftists just might say yes.
A good example of this phenomenon involved a multiple sclerosis patient in Gothenburg, Sweden, who was denied a more effective and expensive medication — even though he was willing to pay for it — because, wrote columnist Walter Williams in 2009, “bureaucrats said it would set a bad precedent and lead to unequal access to medicine.” No wonder Winston Churchill said that socialism’s “inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.”
And another example just reared its ugly head in Plymouth, Michigan, where the locality’s high school is tearing down newly constructed bleachers in deference to the equality police. MyFoxDetroit.com reports on the issue, writing:
A new set of seating is being torn down outside the Plymouth Wildcats varsity boys’ baseball field, not long before the season begins, because the fields for boys’ and girls’ athletics must be equal.
A group of parents raised money for a raised seating deck by the field, as it was hard to see the games through a chain-link fence. The parents even did the installation themselves, and also paid for a new scoreboard.
So what happened? Some unnamed malcontent lodged a complaint with the feral government, at which point U.S Education Department Office for Civil Rights overlords decreed that the seating must go. Ain’t equality grand?
Except that equality is simply a ruse. And think about it with respect to this issue: the principle is that facilities “for boys’ and girls’ athletics must be equal,” but are boys’ and girls’ athletics equal? The striking contradiction in these male/female sports equality controversies is that calls for “equality” are deferred to within the context of the acceptance and promotion of an inherently unequal system. That is to say, if equality is the guiding principle here, why have separate leagues, teams and tours — protected from the best competition — for girls and women?
The solution, whether it’s the Plymouth situation or calls for equal prize money in tennis, is simple. If a lightweight boxer wants the purses the heavyweights get, he needs to fight and succeed in the heavyweight class; likewise, if feminists want what the boys/men have, they should try to compete in their arena. And I do advocate this: eliminate separate categories for women, and let the sexes compete together on a level playing field. After all, to echo what Lincoln said about laws, the best way to eliminate bad social policy is to enforce it strictly. If you believe in equality, practice it.
And live with it.
And since the boys’ American high-school mile record is considerably faster than the women’s world record — and since this gap appears, with some variation, across sports — my proposal would provide some necessary “policy clarification.”
The education department’s decree is also an attack on charity. The message is that pursuing good works just might be a waste of time because, inevitably, they’ll conflict with some government regulation or mandate. It’s in addition a quasi-Marxist assault on the market. After all, the Plymouth community’s interest in building new baseball bleachers was no doubt driven by there being greater fan turnout for the boys’ games. And the market renders such verdicts all the time. It’s said that female fashion models earn three times what their male counterparts do, bars may offer women free drinks or entry without a cover charge, and no one troubles over women-only health clubs. It’s only when market determinations seem to benefit boys or men that the equality ruse is trotted out.
The truth is that equality dogma is a fiction of modern times. As for the timeless, the word “equality” appears in only 21 biblical verses, mostly referring to matters such as weights and measures. There’s good reason for this, and don’t blame it on the supposed “backwardness” of religion because a devout evolutionist would have to be the staunchest believer in hierarchies born of natural inequality. As G.K. Chesterton pointed out, “[I]f they [people] were not created equal, they were certainly evolved unequal.” Look around you at the world of nature and man, which, if the evolutionists are correct, are certainly one and the same. How much equality do you see? Rams butt heads, and one ram wins and the other loses; wolves have alphas and one male lion dominates and leads a pride. Then, there are 3.1 billion possible combinations when a couple has a child. And, oh, what combinations they can be. How many of us can play golf like Tiger Woods, defy gravity and shoot baskets like Michael Jordan or compose music at four years of age as did Mozart? People have greatly varying IQs, physical capabilities, personalities, inclinations toward virtue and gifts. Equality is a pipe dream.
This variation exists among groups, too. Ashkenazi Jews have the world’s highest average IQ, while Asians enjoy that status insofar as major groups go. And disease and conditions have no regard for equality, either: the Pima Indians have the highest rate of diabetes on Earth, breast cancer afflicts mainly women, the incidence of Tay-Sachs disease is highest among Jews, black men suffer from prostate cancer at twice the rate whites do, while sickle-cell anemia is found almost exclusively among blacks. I guess reality is “racist.”
Reality is actually this: it’s completely illogical and contradictory for a person to claim on one hand that he believes in classical, cosmic-accident evolution, but on the other that all groups somehow, quite accidentally, wound up the same in capacity, inclination and worldly abilities. After all, since evolution holds that groups lived and developed separately for millions of years — subject to different environments, stresses, adaptive requirements and to the luck of the draw — their winding up “equal” was, for all intents and purposes, a mathematical impossibility.
Earlier evolutionists recognized and accepted this reality, mind you, and in fact became eugenicists. Note here that the term “eugenics” was coined by Charles Darwin’s cousin Sir Francis Galton. Also note that the concept greatly predates the term: Greek philosopher Plato advocated murdering weak children, and the Spartans had actually done it.
This doesn’t mean I embrace eugenics or classical evolution (my views on the latter are found here). The point is that whether you believe we’re accidentally different or that, as St. Therese learned, there are even divinely ordained hierarchies in Heaven, equality is certainly not a thing of this world.
This helps explain why entities prescribing “equality” — such as the early French republic and all the Marxist killing-field regimes — become the worst tyrannies. Since equality is wholly unnatural, its mullahs must violate man’s nature, must trump it and twist it, in an effort to pound their sinister square peg into the round hole of reality. And woe betide he who defies their self-deified will.
Cries for equality are today the second-to-last refuge of a scoundrel (shouts of “racism” are the absolute last). Contrary to what Churchill said, however, they don’t actually visit upon us an equal sharing of misery. Rather, the pigs more equal than others will dispense the ever-diminishing pork to the peons, as they feed at the trough of modern man’s sloth, envy and error.
Syrian Regime Solidifies Recent Gains…
Damascus – Since around Valentine Day and aided by truly magnificent warm weather for this time of year, the dozens of parks in Damascus have been receiving unusually large numbers of visitors, not least of whom are Syrian soldiers on leave, enjoying the green space with girlfriends, families and friends. At the large garden with dozen of benches and sculptures, called Al-Manshia (Presidents Bridge) public park, and located between two five-star hotels, the Dama Rose and the 4-Seasons, some soldiers, presumably from out of town and with many appearing utterly exhausted, can be seen simply laying on the grass fast asleep under the warm healing sunshine.
Soldiers joke, laugh and seem pleased when citizens approach them to offer their thanks for the army’s service to the Syrian Arab Republic and to inquire about how things are going personally and if there is some help the citizen might offer the soldier. Such is the nature of Syrian nationalism and connection with Mother Syria that this observer has remarked about before and is strikingly rare from his experience. I love my country but frankly do not feel the pride and deep connection that Syrians appear to exhibit about their country’s 10,000 year history as the cradle of civilization. I would defend my country and fight for it if there were to be a legitimate war which frankly has not been the case in my lifetime.
Over the past 30 months of frequent visits to Damascus, the city has never appeared more ‘normal’ Last night this observers was up all night reading and there was not one bombing run or mortar or artillery fire to he heard, a first for more than two years. For many months, I used to avoid the historic Al-Hamidiyah Souk, the largest and the central souk in Syria located inside the old walled city of Damascus next to the Umayyad Mosque, despite its hundreds of interesting shops. The reason I tended to stay away was because I was one of very few people meandering among the warren of stalls and felt self-conscious when shopkeepers would plead with me to buy something-anything to help feed their families many of whom lived near the labyrinth.
Today, Al-Hamidiyah Souk, if not frequented with the numbers of shoppers and visitors as it was before March 2011, it is nonetheless very crowded such that foreigners can pass unnoticed…well, sometimes for at least the first hundred yards or so. In Damascene neighborhoods, no longer do citizens quickly disappear into their homes at the first sign of dusk but the streets and many cafes are crowded well past 9 p.m.
“Quo Vadis Syrie”, (‘where is Syria heading’) one Damascus University classics major, turned international law student, asked this visitor as we both sat on the steps of the Law Faculty while enjoying a bit of sun yesterday afternoon. “Is our crisis nearly over so we can start re-building Mother Syria or do our enemies have other plans to destroy us? I worry that today’s calm will soon disappear with an arriving hurricane.” His comment was perhaps triggered by a certain sense here and more widely elsewhere that a forming “coalition of the willing” appears to be pressing for a ‘humanitarian’ No Fly Zone. Some American allies envisage and are making plans to implement, a NFZ stretching up to 25 miles into Syria which would be enforced using aircraft flown from Jordanian bases and flying inside the kingdom, according to Congressional sources.
Any NFZ would be very different from what is currently being promoted and advertised by certain war-mongers in Washington, Tel Aviv and several European capitals as well as among elements of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the League of Arab States. Post Round Two of Geneva II, the White House and the usual “bomb the bastards” coterie in Congress and among the US Zionist lobby, are said to be re-thinking the idea of a No Fly Zone (NFZ) for Syria. It would be planned and executed with US and a yet to be specified, “Coalition of the willing” using aircraft now at the ready in Jordan and Turkey to begin with.
Ranking with the fake “non-lethal aid” concept, in terms of cynical deception (virtually all “non-lethal” aid is indeed lethal for its facilitates certain forces killing others including night goggles, telecommunication equipment, GPS equipment, salaries, fake IDs and much else), a limited, ‘humanitarian’ NFZ would almost certainly became a bomb anything/person that moves ‘turkey shoot’ as was the case in Libya in 2011 as was studied and witnessed first-hand by this an many other observers. What we observed in the then, but no more, Al Jamahiriya (state of the masses), was that the misnomer ‘limited humanitarian Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P) promoted by Obama Administration UN Ambassador Susan Rice for Libya and now by her predecessor Samatha Power for Syria, was that a NFZ means essentially an all-out war for regime change at all costs in terms of expendable lives and treasury.
The Libya experience, conceding many differences between the two countries and their governments and quality of each country’s military, may be prologue for Syria. Backed by a U.N. Security Council mandate, NATO charged into Libya citing its urgent “responsibility to protect” civilians threatened by claimed bloody rampages occurring across the country. Within days, we witnessed the ‘limited carefully vetted’ targets bank turn from a promoted ‘several dozen purely military targets” into more than 10,000 bomb runs using over 7,700 ‘precision guided bombs” and from the ground and what we learned during weeks in Libya by victims and eye-witnesses it seemed at times that the targets were basically anything that moved or looked like it might have a conceivable military purpose of some sort.
Human Rights Watch documented nearly 100 cases of civilians being bombed and killed as part of the R2P campaign. Other estimates are several times the HRW published figures. To this day Libyan civilians and demanding to know from NATO, “Why did you destroy my home and kill my family?” No answer has to date been provided to the Libyan victims’ families despite investigations that showed NATO pilots frequently disregarded instructions and “we essentially bombed at if we were playing video games” according to post-conflict contrite British airman.
Susan Rice, now Obama’s national security adviser, met with Saudi officials last week to discuss a NFZ and related strategy despite White House claims that it is still skeptical. Rice told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee late last month that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia are working together again on Syria policy after a year of occasional bitter disagreement.
Among those currently petitioning the Obama Administration for a NFZ, which would quickly devolve into thousands of bomb runs across Syria that would likely decimate its air force and tank corps are the so-called ‘rebels.’ They tend to agree with France that problems lay ahead for them given April’s fast approaching Presidential election, in which the incumbent President, Bashar Assad, is likely to seek and win re-election.
In addition, Israel, according to a Congressional source, has offered to help ‘behind the scenes” with airbases if needed and certain activities along the southern Syrian border with occupied Palestine. A majority of Arab League countries, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) plus Turkey, France, the UK and some members of the EU also support the NFZ idea. Saudi Arabia has already approved large quantities of Chinese man-portable air defense systems or Manpads as well as antitank guided missiles from Russia and more cash to help rebels oust the Assad regime, according to an Arab diplomat. Meanwhile, the US has upped its contribution to pay the salaries of preferred rebel fighters.
Ominously, the U.S. has already positioned Patriot air defense batteries and F-16 fighter aircraft in Jordan, which would be integral to any no-fly zone. The U.S. planes have air-to-air missiles that could destroy Syrian planes from long ranges. But officials have advised Congress that aircraft may be required to enter deep into Syrian air space if threatened by advancing Syrian planes. This could easily lead to all-out war with Syria and if Russia decides to provide advanced, long-range S-300 air defense weapons to Syria, it would make such a limited no-fly zone far more risky for U.S. pilots and it’s anyone’s guess what would happen next.
President Obama so far is keeping his own counsel as his Secretaries of Defense and State, current and former, and many other officials and politicians offer their advice for the White House ordering a NFZ. Hilary Clinton and General David Petraeus reportedly both favor a NFZ to ‘end this mess” in the words of the retired CIA Director.
To his great credit, Barack Obama appears so far to many on Capitol Hill to be reluctant to give formal approval to another NFZ as he was last summer when he resisted calls to launch a war against Syria as well as Congressional war-monger demands to go to war with Iran on behalf of the Netanyahu government. This week Mr. Obama acknowledged that diplomatic efforts to resolve the Syrian conflict are far from achieving their goals. “But the situation is fluid and we are continuing to explore every possible avenue including diplomacy.”
If President Obama extends his record of putting American interests first to three key decisions over the past six months, and if he sticks with diplomacy rather than launch all-out war with Syria, and potentially the allies of Damascus, via a NFZ, he just may be on his way to earning his prematurely awarded Nobel Prize.
Al Nebek, Syria - Who authored the seemingly designed-to-fail UN Security Council Draft Resolution on delivering urgent humanitarian aid into the Old City of Homs and other besieged areas of conflict-torn Syria? When we know this, much may become clearer with respect to the cynical politicization of the continuing civilian suffering.
The draft resolution was put forward by Australia, Luxembourg, and Jordan, and according to a UN/US congressional source—one who actually worked on rounding up the three countries to front for the US and its allies—none was pleased with the decidedly raw and undiplomatic pressure they received from the office of US UN Ambassador Samantha Power.
When this observer inquired how such a poorly drafted, one-sided, adversary-bashing draft resolution could actually have seen the light of day and been submitted to the UN Security Council, the reply he received was terse: “Ask Samantha.”
Suspicions are being raised in Geneva, in Syria, and among certain UN aid agencies, in Homs and elsewhere, that efforts on behalf of those they are trying to save from starvation were ‘set-up’ to fail as a result of power politics and influences emanating from Washington and Tel Aviv.
This observer is not a big fan of conspiracy theories. No doubt it’s a personal congenital defect of some sort that makes him want to hear at least a modicum of relevant, prohibitive, material, non-hearsay evidence to support some of the wilder and internet-fueled claims ricocheting around the globe. However, some things are becoming clear as to what happened at the UNSC last week and why certain specific language was included in the resolution.
Ms. Power, it has been claimed by two Hill staffers who monitor AIPAC, owes her position as UN Ambassador to Israeli PM Netanyahu, who views her and her husband, AIPAC fund raiser, Cass Sunstein, as Israel-first stalwarts. Congressional sources claim the White House went along with her appointment so as not to provoke yet another battle—either with AIPAC’s congressional agents or the wider US Zionist lobby. As part of her continuing gratitude for her “dream job,” as she told an American Jewish Committee convention on 2/10/14 in New York, Ms. Power assured the AJC that the United States “strongly supports Israel’s candidacy for a seat on the UN Security Council, and we have pushed relentlessly for the full inclusion of Israel across the UN system.” Ms. Power is said to have assured AIPAC officials in private that evening that “one of Israel’s few survival reeds may be to grasp, in the face of rising anti-Semitism, a seat on the council.” Insisting that “there is growing and rampant hostility towards Israel within the UN, where a large number of member states are not democratic,” Ms. Power, continued” “I will never give up and nor should you.”
Following the standing ovation from her adoring audience, she repeated, according to one eye witness: “We have also pushed relentlessly for the full inclusion of Israel across the UN system.” What the Zionist regime still occupying Palestine knows, as does no doubt Ms. Power, is that the American public and increasingly even the US Congress is finally pulling back from the regime in favor of justice for Palestine. Thus the lobby’s strange reasoning that the UN system, where the American public is essentially absent, is increasingly important.
So what’s the problem with the US-mission-spawned Security Council draft resolution on Syria so dutifully submitted by three chummy and faithful allies?
Well, for starters, the resolution is DOA, as presumably every sophomore poli-sci, civics, or governance student would have recognized from the outset. The aggressive language—demanding the UNSC immediately take action by targeting only one claimed violator with yet more international sanctions—would have caused chaff and cringing among many, probably most. But even beyond that, Moscow, with a UNSC veto ready to use, sees the US-initiated draft as a bid to lay the groundwork for military strikes against the Syrian government, interpreting the language as an ultimatum: that if all this isn’t solved in two weeks then the Security Council will automatically follow with sanctions against the Syrian government.
As Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov told the media on 2/10/14, “Instead of engaging in everyday, meticulous work to resolve problems that block deliveries of humanitarian aid, they see a new resolution as some kind of simplistic solution detached from reality.”
The draft text, obtained by this observer from Reuters, expresses the intent to impose sanctions—on individuals and entities obstructing aid—if certain demands are not met within the next two weeks.
“It is unacceptable to us in the form in which it is now being prepared, and we, of course, will not let it through,” said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov.
One diplomat in Syria, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s permanent representative to the UN, had told the Security Council on 2/11/14 that Moscow opposes some 30 percent of the original draft, but did not specify what which parts. He added, “We’re not aiming for a Russian veto, we’re aiming for a resolution that everybody can agree. That is what we want.”
For his part, President Obama, speaking at a joint news conference in Washington with French President Francois Hollande, kept up the pressure for the Security Council to accept the US resolution. He insisted that there is “great unanimity among most of the Security Council” in favor of the resolution and “Russia is a holdout.” Secretary of State John Kerry and others have “delivered a very direct message” pressuring the Russians to drop their opposition.
“It is not just the Syrians that are responsible” for the plight of civilians, but “the Russians as well if they are blocking this kind of resolution,” Kerry claimed. “How you can object to humanitarian corridors? Why would you prevent the vote of a resolution if, in good faith, it is all about saving human lives?”
Among international observers, the draft resolution is widely viewed as one-sided, condemning rights abuses by Syrian authorities, demanding Syrian forces stop all aerial bombardment of cities and towns as well as indiscriminate use of bombs, rockets and related weapons. It also, parenthetically and somewhat obliquely, condemns “increased terrorist attacks,” and calls for the withdrawal of all foreign fighters from Syria, but the latter language is believed to be aimed mainly at Hezbollah. Sources in Syria claim that the draft heaps all the blame on the Syrian government without devoting the necessary attention to the humanitarian problems created by the actions of the rebels.
These gratuitous draft elements are not only aggressive, but frankly appear calculated to end serious discussion and to undermine a solution of the problem.
Being new on the job is one thing for Ms. Power (she has served as UN ambassador only since August of last year), but politicizing relief from starvation for a besieged civilian population is quite another. Likewise for promoting a draft resolution focusing all blame on one side. Such things violate a broad range of applicable and mandatory international norms, and if Ms. Power is hazy on this subject, the State Department’s Office of International Organization Affairs is not—or at least was not when this observer interned there following law school years ago.
Language that would have stood a much better chance of ending the siege of Homs, Yarmouk and other areas under siege was drafted this week by a Syrian law student at the Damascus University Faculty of Law. The widely esteemed university witnessed the death of 17 of its students, along with the serious injuring of more than 20 others, when rebel mortar bombs, on 3/28/13, targeted the canteen of the College of Architecture. Those responsible for the shelling later admitted they were trained and armed by agents of the US government.
The DU law student’s draft resolution on unfettered humanitarian aid into besieged areas of Syria will hopefully be widely discussed over the weekend at a news conference tentatively scheduled on campus. Perhaps the next UN draft resolution will reflect the student’s homework assignment.
The starving victims besieged in Syria, and all people of goodwill, are demanding immediate, non-politicized humanitarian aid without further delay. Virtually every American voter is in a position to pressure his or her congressional representative, and would possibly achieve much good by making the White House aware of their demands to end playing international ‘gotcha’ politics, and to cooperate to end the needless deaths by starvation that continue today.
A trend is beginning among families with sick children: more and more are moving to Colorado to find a cannabis-based treatment that works wonders on seizure disorders. As more and more families find out about the cure, the company that manufactures it is struggling to keep up with the demand.
“We just have so much demand,” Jordan Stanley, one of the brothers who owns the Realm of Caring Foundation, told WBTV. “We need more space to keep growing these plants.”
The Stanley brothers founded the company when they succeeded in making a cannabis compound that was free of THC, the chemical that causes a “high” feeling in the user. The drug, called “Charlotte’s Web,” after the first child it worked on, only contains high anounts of therapeutic cannabidiol, or CBD.
The Realm of Caring headquarters, located in an innocuous cabin and greenhouses tucked away in the Colorado Rockies, gets about 500 calls a week from parents across America, according to Stanley. 150 children currently use the medicine.
The company is prudent about taking on patients.
“We won’t start a child on the medicine unless they’re approved as having other options not work,” said Stanley. “And unless we have enough medicine for them to last their entire lifetime. We don’t want to start a child, have this work, then have them depend on it and us run out of supply. That’s why we need to build. We need to have more so we can start more kids on what seems to be working.”
Liz Gorman, a mom from Charlotte, N.C, moved her family to Colorado in a last-ditch attempt to find a drug that would work for her 7-year-old daughter Maddie’s severe seizure disorder.
“She was going rapidly downhill when we moved,” Gorman told WBTV from her new home in Colorado Springs. “Things were getting worse by the week. We were at about 100 seizures a day. So to now see improvement – we can sometimes be at 10 a day – and improvement in cognition, it’s pretty impressive.”
Residents in states like Georgia and Tennessee have been lobbying lawmakers to pass legislation legalizing marijuana. Many are parents whose children are afflicted with similarly severe seizure disorders.
But state governments are reluctant to make the change, probably because “cannabis” has a bad rap.
“I think it’s about stigma,” Gorman said. “Having tried it now and having had to move across country to get it, I honestly feel this is ridiculous we can’t have it everywhere. Aside from the fact it comes from a cannabis plant, there’s nothing about it really that’s dangerous. Parents don’t need to be afraid that their children could get ahold of it and use it in an incorrect way.”
Source: Allison Geller | Opposing Views
U.N. mediator Lakhdar Brahimi wrapped up the first round of the “Geneva II” negotiations last Friday reporting little progress. No ceasefire was agreed, and talks on a transitional government never began. The next round is scheduled for February 10, but its prospects are dim. The opposing sides predictably blame each other for the stalemate, but in any event the talks were doomed to fail.
The first reason is John Kerry’s insistence—reasserted on the very first day of the meeting in Montreux, January 22—that Syria’s president can have no place in any future transition government. “We see only one option, negotiating a transition government born by mutual consent,” Kerry said. “That means that Bashar al-Assad will not be part of that transition government.”
Kerry’s position is absurd. No regime in history has negotiated its own demise, and the government of Syria is no exception. Any transition government “born by mutual consent” has to reflect the balance of forces on the ground. Therefore it will necessarily include Bashar, whose army has regained the initiative in the ongoing civil war. His forces control 13 out of 14 provincial capitals in the country and are steadily advancing in the rebel-held districts of Aleppo and Homs. In any event it is not up to the U.S. Secretary of State to decide who can or cannot be in charge in a faraway foreign land. Let it be recalled that his predecessor declared over two years ago that Assad’s regime was “dead man walking.”
It is possible that Kerry was serious when he declared that “there is no way, no way possible in the imagination, that the man who has led a brutal response to his own people can regain legitimacy to govern.” If so, then the U.S. policy will favor a drastic reversal of military fortunes on the ground—which may take years of hard fighting—rather than a negotiated settlement. This possibility is apparently supported by the secret Congressional approval of arms deliveries to “moderate” Syrian rebel factions. The definition of “moderate” has been stretched in Washington to the point where it includes hard-core jihadists, provided they are not affiliated to al-Qaeda. As if the Afghan blowback had never happened…
The second reason “Geneva II” had to fail is the lack of legitimacy of the rebel side. The opposition delegation, which was appointed by the self-styled “National Coalition,” was drawn from a narrow base of émigrés with minimal military clout. The men who came to Geneva have no authority over the large and powerful base of Islamist rebels. In December 2012 the anti-Assad group of foreign powers calling itself the “Friends of Syria” simply declared the Coalition to be the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, but it is nothing of the kind. The National Coalition’s minimal sway over fighters inside Syria means that its negotiators cannot guarantee that any deal reached in Switzerland would be implemented. The al-Qaeda affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) are the most powerful anti-Assad groups, and their leaders would not have come to Geneva even if they had been invited. As the first round of talks ended on January 31, Russia insisted that the Syrian opposition delegation should be made more representative by including Bashar’s political opponents who have not resorted to arms. The Coalition is certain to reject this demand, thus further undermining its own credibility.
The third reason for the failure Geneva II is Iran’s exclusion from the talks. As a regional power deeply involved in the Syrian conflict, Iran should have been included—especially since Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Jordan—all of them staunchly anti-Assad—were represented, as well as a host of other countries. In fact Iran was belatedly invited to the conference by the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, and thendisinvited under American pressure. This was yet another sign that the Department of State is not interested in a negotiated settlement. As an Iranian analyst has noted, “the U.S. knows very well that if ever the day comes that Bashar al-Assad needs to go quietly, Iran is the only country capable of achieving that.” After the rebuff, Iran can now be expected to make sure it secures an even stronger hand in Syria—which will additionally strengthen Assad’s position.
John Kerry took charge of the State Department announcing his intention to change Assad’s “calculation” about his ability to hold on to power. A year later it is evident that Washington’s own calculations, rather than Assad’s, need to change. Syria’s president is stronger today than at any time since early 2012. The rebels are deeply divided, and hard-line jihadists—whether affiliated to al-Qaeda or not—are dominant among them. As an Aljazeera commentator noted on the first day of Geneva II, the fragmentation and radicalization of rebel fighting forces has been the opposition’s greatest weakness: “Had a unified political-military command emerged among the rebels in the first year of the uprising, at the height of optimism over the Arab Spring, the United States and Europeans might well have been persuaded to give direct military backing to the uprising. Today, such hopes have been dashed.” Infighting among rival rebel militias claimed over a thousand lives in January alone.
Six weeks ago, prompted by ex-CIA Director Michael Hayden’s blunt admission that Assad’s victory would be the least bad outcome in Syria, we argued in this column that Syria no longer exists as a single political entity and that its de facto partition should be condoned in preference to a zero-sum game in which neither side can hope to prevail. The U.S. policy should support this outcome, albeit behind a single-state façade. It is less risky for U.S. interests than arming some fictitious “moderate” rebels and insisting on preordained outcomes which Washington has neither the will nor the money to enforce.
In 1979, Iran shocked the world—and directly confronted America’s hegemonic ambitions in the Middle East — by charting its own revolutionary course toward participatory Islamist governance and foreign policy independence. Over the past thirty-five years the Islamic Republic of Iran has held dozens of presidential, parliamentary, and local council elections and attained impressive developmental outcomes—including more progressive results at alleviating poverty, delivering health care, providing educational access, and (yes) expanding opportunities for women than the last shah’s regime ever achieved. Furthermore, the Islamic Republic has done these things while withstanding significant regional challenges and mounting pressure from the United States and its allies. Below, Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett suggest that like 1979, 2014 is likely to be, in unique ways, another Year of Iran, when Tehran’s foreign policy strategy will either finally compel Western acceptance of Iran’s sovereign rights—especially to enrich uranium under international safeguards—or fundamentally delegitimise America’s already eroding pretensions to Middle Eastern hegemony.
Hassan Rohani’s election as Iran’s president seven months ago caught most of the West’s self-appointed Iran “experts” by (largely self-generated) surprise. Over the course of Iran’s month-long presidential campaign, methodologically-sound polls by the University of Tehran showed that a Rohani victory was increasingly likely. Yet Iran specialists at Washington’s leading think tanks continued erroneously insisting (as they had for months before the campaign formally commenced) that Iranians could not be polled like other populations and that there would be “a selection rather than an election,” engineered to install Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s “anointed” candidate—in most versions, former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili. On election day, as Iranian voters began casting their ballots, the Washington Post proclaimed that Rohani “will not be allowed to win”—a statement reflecting virtual consensus among American pundits.
Of course, this consensus was wrong—as have been most of the consensus judgments on Iran’s politics advanced by Western analysts since the country’s 1979 revolution. After Rohani’s victory, instead of admitting error, America’s foreign policy elite manufactured two explanations for it. One was that popular disaffection against the Islamic Republic—supposedly reflected in Iranians’ determination to elect the most change-minded candidate available to them—had exceeded even the capacity of Khamenei and his minions to suppress. This narrative, however, rests on agenda-driven and false assumptions about who Rohani is and how he won.
“The Islamic Republic aims to replace American hegemony with a more multi-polar distribution of power and influence. It seeks to achieve this by using international law and by leveraging participatory Islamist governance and foreign policy independence to accumulate real “soft power”.”
At sixty-five, Rohani is not out to fundamentally change the Islamic Republic he has worked nearly his entire adult life to build. The only cleric on the 2013 presidential ballot, Rohani belongs to Iran’s main conservative clerical association, not its reformist antipode. While he has become the standard bearer for the Islamic Republic’s “modern” (or “pragmatic”) right, with considerable support from the business community, his ties to Khamenei are also strong. After Rohani stepped down as secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council in 2005, Khamenei made Rohani his personal representative on the Council.
Backing Rohani was thus an unlikely way for Iranian voters to demand radical change, especially when an eminently plausible reformist was on the ballot—Mohammad Reza Aref, a Stanford Ph.D. in electrical engineering who served as one of reformist President Mohammad Khatami’s vice presidents. (Methodologically-sound polls showed that Aref’s support never exceeded single digits; he ultimately withdrew three days before Iranians voted.) The outcome, moreover, hardly constituted a landslide—not for Rohani and certainly not for reformism: Rohani won by just 261,251 votes over the 50-percent threshold for victory, and the parliament elected just one year before is dominated by conservatives.
The other explanation for Rohani’s success embraced by American elites cites it as proof that U.S.-instigated sanctions are finally “working”—that economic distress caused by sanctions drove Iranians to elect someone inclined to cut concessionary deals with the West. But the same polls that accurately predicted Rohani’s narrow win also show that sanctions had little to do with it. Iranians continue to blame the West, not their own government, for sanctions. And they do not want their leaders to compromise on what they see as their country’s sovereignty and national rights—rights manifest today in Iran’s pursuit of a civil nuclear program.
The Iranian Challenge
Iran’s presidential election and the smooth transfer of office to Rohani from term-limited incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stand out in today’s Middle East. Compared to Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, Syria, and Tunisia, the Islamic Republic is actually living up to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter’s description of Iran as “an island of stability” in an increasingly unsettled region. And compared to some Gulf Arab monarchies, where perpetuation of (at least superficial) stability is purchased by ever increasing domestic expenditures, the Islamic Republic legitimates itself by delivering on the fundamental promise of the revolution that deposed the last shah thirty-five years ago: to replace Western-imposed monarchical rule with an indigenously generated political model integrating participatory politics and elections with principles and institutions of Islamic governance.
“Partnering with Tehran would require Washington and its friends in London and Paris to accept the Islamic Republic as the legitimate government of a fully sovereign state with legitimate interests.”
These strengths have enabled the Islamic Republic to withstand sustained regional and Western pressure, and to pursue a foreign policy strategy likely to reap big payoffs in 2014. This strategy aims to replace American hegemony, regionally and globally, with a more multi-polar distribution of power and influence. It seeks to achieve this by using international law and institutions, and by leveraging the Islamic Republic’s model of participatory Islamist governance, domestic development, and foreign policy independence to accumulate real “soft power”—not just with a majority of Iranians living inside their country, but (according to polls) with hundreds of millions of people across the Muslim world and beyond, from Brazil to China and South Africa. Such soft power was on display, for example, in the last year of Ahmadinejad’s presidency, when, during a trip to China, he won a standing ovation from a large audience at Peking University, where a representative sample of next-generation Chinese elites showed themselves deeply receptive to his call for a more equitable and representative international order.
In the current regional and international context, the West is increasingly challenged to come to terms with the Islamic Republic as an enduring entity representing legitimate national interests. In Tehran, the United States and its European allies could have a real partner in countering al-Qa’ida-style terrorism and extremism, in consolidating stable and representative political orders in Syria and other Middle Eastern trouble spots, and in resolving the nuclear issue in a way that sets the stage for moving toward an actual WMD-free zone in the region. But partnering with Tehran would require Washington and its friends in London and Paris to accept the Islamic Republic as the legitimate government of a fully sovereign state with legitimate interests—something that Western powers have refused to accord to any Iranian government for two centuries.
President Obama’s highly public failure to muster political support for military strikes against the Assad government following the use of chemical weapons in Syria on August 21, 2013 has effectively undercut the credibility of U.S. threats to use force against Iran. On November 24, 2013, this compelled an American administration, for the first time since the January 1981 Algiers Accords that ended the embassy hostage crisis, to reach a major international agreement with Tehran—the interim nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1—largely on Iranian terms. (For example, the interim nuclear deal effectively negates Western demands—long rejected by Tehran but now enshrined in seven UN Security Council resolutions—that Iran suspend all activities related to uranium enrichment).
But recent Western recognition of reality is still partial and highly tentative. The United States and its British and French allies continue to deny that Iran has a right to enrich uranium under international safeguards. They also demand that, as part of a final deal, Tehran must shut down its protected enrichment site at Fordo, terminate its work on a new research reactor at Arak, and allow Western powers to micromanage the future development of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. Such positions are at odds with the language of the interim nuclear deal and of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). They are also as hubristically delusional as the British government’s use of the Royal Navy to seize tankers carrying Iranian oil on the high seas after a democratically-elected Iranian government nationalised the British oil concession in Iran in 1951—and as London’s continued threat to do so even after the World Court ruled against Britain in the matter.
If Western powers can realign their positions with reality on the nuclear issue and on various regional challenges in the Middle East, Iran can certainly work with that. But Iranian strategy takes seriously the real prospect that Western powers may not be capable of negotiating a nuclear settlement grounded in the NPT and respectful of the Islamic Republic’s legal rights—just as Britain and the United States were unwilling to respect Iran’s sovereignty over its own natural resources in the early 1950s. Under such circumstances, more U.S.-instigated secondary sanctions that illegally threaten third countries doing business with Iran will not compel Tehran to surrender its civil nuclear program. Rather, Iran’s approach—including a willingness to conclude what the rest of the world other than America, Britain, France, and Israel would consider a reasonable nuclear deal—seeks to make it easier for countries to rebuild and expand economic ties to the Islamic Republic even if Washington does not lift its own unilaterally-imposed sanctions.
“Continuing hostility toward the Islamic Republic exacerbates America’s inability to deal with popular demands for participatory Islamist governance elsewhere in the Middle East.”
Likewise, Iranian strategy takes seriously the real prospect that Washington cannot disenthrall itself from Obama’s foolish declaration in August 2011 that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must go—and therefore that America cannot contribute constructively to the quest for a political settlement to the Syrian conflict. If the United States, Britain, and France continue down their current counter-productive path in Syria, Tehran can play off their accumulating policy failures and the deepening illegitimacy of America’s regional posture to advance the Islamic Republic’s strategic position.
How Will the West Respond?
Coming to terms with the Islamic Republic will require the United States to abandon its already eroding pretensions to hegemony in the Middle East. But, if Washington does not come to terms with the Islamic Republic, it will ultimately be forced to surrender those pretensions, as it was publicly and humiliatingly forced to do in 1979. Moreover, continuing hostility toward the Islamic Republic exacerbates America’s inability to deal with popular demands for participatory Islamist governance elsewhere in the Middle East. Less than a month after Rohani’s election, it was widely perceived that the United States tacitly supported a military coup that deposed Egypt’s first democratically elected (and Islamist) government. The coup in Egypt hardly obviates the fact that, when given the chance, majorities in Middle Eastern Muslim societies reject Western intervention and choose to construct participatory Islamist orders. Refusing to accept this reality will only accelerate the erosion of U.S. influence in the region.
The United States is not the first imperial power in decline whose foreign policy debate has become increasingly detached from reality—and history suggests that the consequences of such delusion are usually severe. The time for American elites to wake up to Middle Eastern realities before the United States and its Western allies face severe consequences for their strategic position in this vital part of the world is running out.
About the Authors
Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett are authors of Going to Tehran: America Must Accept the Islamic Republic of Iran (New York: Metropolitan, 2013), which has just been released in paperback, with a new Afterword. They had distinguished careers in the U.S. government before leaving their positions on the National Security Council in March 2003, in disagreement with Middle East policy and the conduct of the war on terror. They teach international relations, he at Penn State, she at American University.
Source: The World Financial Review
Damascus - As a new workweek begins here is Damascus many citizens across a fairly broad spectrum appear to be backing, and even exhibiting a kind of pride for their diplomatic team at the Geneva II conference. It might appear flippant for this observer to suggest that returning to Damascus after recent events in his neighborhood of Haret Hriek in Dahiyeh, South Beirut sort of feels like one has arrived in a peaceful holiday local rather stress free, but others have told me the same thing once they crossover from Lebanon. Damascus is currently the most quiet and ‘normal’ appearing that I have found this historic city for more than two years.
Damascenes to a person it appears, despite differing political views, are hoping for breakthroughs that just might bring an end to the carnage that has left virtually no one unaffected and has driven 9.5 million people from their homes, killed close to 140,000 and with more than 18,000 missing. These and many more tragedies creating a major humanitarian crisis both within Syria and among this birth place of civilization’s neighbors.
At the Set al Cham (Grandmother of Damascus) a home style cooking small restaurant around the corner from the Dama Rose hotel, close to where a rocket hit 30 yards outside the front entrance of the five star hotel last week and ignited half a dozen cars and shattered windows in this ‘security zone’, there are currently animated conversations about the Geneva II conference. They focus on the prospects for a ceasefire which all here apparently agree is the first essential step to ending the carnage ravaging this country for the past three years. The apparent imminent release of women and children from the more than 500 families who have for many months been trapped in the old city of Homs, Syria’s third largest city, has created some inchoate hope. According to UN Mediator, Lakhdar Brahimi , men also will be allowed to leave once their names are vetted to screen ‘terrorists’ from slipping out, a common security measure around this region during siege lifts and mass evacuations. The population allowed to exit Homs will be received immediately by volunteers from the courageous and deeply humanitarian Syrian Arab Red Crescent Society (SARCS) and other humanitarian organizations that have stockpiled a range of urgently required necessities close by. As in the case with Yarmouk Palestinian camp in south Damascus, itself still under tight siege this evening with snipers on rooftops scanning the streets and alleys below through their gun sites seeking targets, baby formula is one of the foodstuff items most in demand and urgently needed in order save infant lives since their starving mothers generally are no longer able to produce milk.
With respect to Yarmouk camp, which if of grave concern here in Syria as it is internationally, this observer had an informative three hour meeting today at UNWRA HQ on Mezzeh Autostrda with Chief Field Education Program Director, Mohammad Ammouri, and Abdullah Al Laham, Deputy Director of UNWRA in Syria. These gentlemen, Mr. Ammouri from Tantura village near Haifa, and Mr. Al Laham, from Bethlehem Occupied Palestine, devote their full schedules these days trying to get aid into Yarmouk, and to bring those under siege out. Both gentlemen gave this observer some reason to believe that finally an agreement, after more than half a dozen failed ones, might just stick tonight so that tomorrow UNWRA trucks, waiting nearby with more than 40,000 aid parcels can finally enter. Each aid box, contains rice, sugar, flour, dried milk, cooking oil and other basics and are designed to feed a family of five for two weeks (families up to eight in number will get one and one-half UNWRA boxes every two weeks) can finally enter. Syrians trapped in Yarmouk, who number more than 2000, will also receive the emergency parcels from UNWRA no questions asked. Mr. Al Laham raised his eyebrow a bit and did a sort of double-take when this observer asked him if like SARCS, UNWRA distributed the well-known World Food Program (WFP) or International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) or OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) family aid parcels. “No! No. My dear. You see, we at UNWRA have our own aid parcels, in fact ours are bigger and better” he quickly exclaimed and then smiled a bit sheepishly.
Three days ago UNWRA believed they would finally be allowed to enter Yarmouk with aid but at it turned out only about 3% of the aid parcels they were trying to deliver to the more than 18,000 starving Palestinian refugees and Syrians still trapped was able to be distributed because all aid is still being blocked by various militia who themselves appear to be rather well fed, financed, and armed. We should know by tomorrow (1/28/14) if substantial aid will be allowed into Yarmouk and whether dying residents can be evacuated. UNWRA literally has the engines of its trucks idling nearby tonight and ready to move into the besieged camp on less than a minutes notice if they get a green light, this observer has just been advised.
One senses in Damascus that much of the population believes that what is happening at Geneva, are admittedly “half-steps” to use UN envoy Brahimi’s description for the progress so far in the desperate effort to save Syria, just might result in a breakthrough of sorts and then move toward a cease-fire and the opening up of humanitarian aid corridors. A few hours ago, Syrian delegation member Dr. Bouthania Shaaban commented that today’s talks had been ‘professional’. This is a modest achievement even though both sides speak only to Envoy Brahimi and tend to avoid eye contact with their “negotiating partners” while entering and exiting the meeting room from doors at opposite ends.
Syria’s delegation in Geneva is led by a seasoned, smart, deeply knowledgeable formidable delegation that includes the power-house Foreign Minister Walid Muallum, a former Syrian Ambassador to Washington who has a reputation in the West and here as wily, profoundly intelligent, tough at times and no-nonsense. “If no serious work sessions are held by [Saturday], the official Syrian delegation will leave Geneva due to the other side’s lack of seriousness or preparedness,” state television quoted Muallum as telling UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi last Friday. Mr. Muallum is credited with brokering the deal with by Russia to remove Syria’s chemical weapons enabling the Assad regime to present his government as a partner in the project and thus to strengthen its claim to legitimacy.
Another delegation member is Syria’s Minister of Information Omran al- Zoubi. Mr al-Zoubi has been indefatigable these past many months and is well known to the international media for his personal warmth and direct talk and incisive articulations of his government’s interpretations of the crisis. During literally hundreds of media interviews Mr. Zoubi has earned a reputation internationally and in Syria as being an insightful political analyst and a skilled lawyer, who does not mince or sugar his words but who is respectful of his audience. From Derra next to the Jordanian where the crisis began and a Sunni Muslim, the Ministers commented late this afternoon that “We will stay here until we do the job. We will not be provoked. We will not retreat and we will be wise and flexible.” And he added, anyone at Geneva II expecting the President’s removal was living “in a mythical world, and let them stay in Alice in Wonderland.”
Syrian delegation member and FM Muallum’s Deputy, Feisal Mdkdad, was described to this observer by one of his colleagues today as a deeply knowledgeable, unflappable career diplomat with deep knowledge of foreign policy issues facing Syria. Mr Makdad explained at Geneva today that his administration has been trying to send essential supplies to help beleaguered residents but not as much as they would have liked had got through, for two reasons: “The armed groups had kept firing at those who tried to take in aid and the weather has not been conducive to making the movement.” He pledges that his government will persevere. He also insisted that “we don’t hold any children prisoners at all. We categorically deny that.” He claimed that the list supplied by the opposition was full of errors. “I have studied this list; 60 to 70 per cent of the names are not in prison, 20 per cent have already been freed. About the rest, we don’t know anything.”
In one sense, Syria’s diplomatic team in Geneva is anchored by Professor Bouthaina Shaaban who is Political and Media Adviser to Syrian President Assad. Syria’s former Minister of Expatriates, she is also a mother and recently a grandmother, writer and professor at Damascus University and earned her Ph.D. in English Literature from Warwick University in the UK. Dr. Shaaban was Hafez al Assad’s personal interpreter, is well known internationally and has studied and taught in the USA and earned her Doctorate at Warwick University in the UK. She has authorized several well received books including her latest volume on Syrian diplomacy. Many media critics concede that, as the New York Times wrote, that she is stellar when explaining Syrian governments views on foreign policy. Dr. Shaaban is the most sought after delegation member from either side for interviews partly because of her quality of humanizing the conflict and her obvious love of country and dedication to stopping the carnage while possessing a quality of connecting with interlocutors emotionally and intellectually.
It would not be shocking were the Syrian delegation were to feel a bit on the defensive given the lineup of those who want them to falter, but there is so far little sign that the Syrian delegation is exuding a temerity at all similar to the defense team in The Hague trying to hold its own before the Special Tribunal on Lebanon (STL). Rather it acknowledges that it has come to represent Syria and to struggle through a cumbersome, slow diplomacy to achieve a cease-fire, open corridors of humanitarian aid, participate in prisoner’s exchanges with various militia, hold a presidential election in the spring, and begin reconstruction of the massive war damage.
We will likely learn soon if Syria and indeed can work through a myriad of opposing deeply antagonistic negotiating adversaries to achieve a sustainable cease-fire, reconciliation, and reconstruction. Its long suffering population demand and deserve no less.
On Wednesday, January 15, 2014, the highly anticipated Senate Intelligence Committee report on the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attacks that killed four Americans was released. The primary investigative report, including redactions, consists of 42 pages with an additional 16 pages of appendices and another 25 pages of additional “majority views.” While the report validates much of what I’ve written well in advance of media reports, it also appears to be deliberately deficient in a number of critical areas.
The report acknowledges that there were no protests over an obscure internet video at this facility in Benghazi, which was neither an embassy nor a consulate. As I initially exposed, the report confirms on page seven that the Benghazi facility was an undercover CIA compound. It was only somewhat known to be a U.S. asset in the region, but had no U.S. flag flying anywhere on the property, and did not serve any diplomatic operational function as would an embassy or consulate. Therefore, no one “in the know” could reasonably believe or even suspect that this location would be the site of any protests about an obscure internet video. Yet, the deliberate mischaracterization of not only the site of the attacks, but the reason behind them, continued to be shamelessly peddled by the politicians and media alike. It was not only a lie, but a contemptible lie.
The critical issue of the actual function that CIA compound served remains the “third rail” of our elected leaders and their obedient media. The report focuses on accountability for the lack of security and later, the lack of response to a critical incident. However, it fails to address that the U.S., under the direction of Barack Hussein Obama in the Executive branch, and Hillary Rodham Clinton as the Secretary of State, were spearheading a weapons running operation to arm the anti-Assad factions in Syria by way of Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon. As I detailed on November 5, 2012, reasonable estimates suggest that between 30-40 million pounds of missiles, guns and even chemical weapons (gas) had been confiscated in Libya and shipped to various prepositioning locations in Turkey and directly into Syria for use by anti-Assad “rebels.”
The function of this compound was far different than the legitimate function of the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli. The compound in Benghazi served as a logistics hub to arrange the crisscrossing supply lines of Gadaffi’s weapons, under the control of Muslim Brotherhood factions, to the Libyan port city of Dernah, the chokepoint of the arsenals. This was appropriately named the “Ho Chi Minh Trail of Muslim Brotherhood supply lines” as referenced in an October 5, 2012 article by Michael Reagan titled “Building on a kernel of truth.” Despite this exposure, senate and congressional investigators, whose job it is to uncover the truth, still don’t seem willing to ask the correct questions. Why?
While the political pundits and the corporate media will continue to shamelessly play political football with not only the bodies of four dead Americans, but with the future of all Americans and everyone in the West, Obama and his operational staff of globalists will continue to advance the U.S., and the world, on a certain course that will take us headlong into World War III. By not addressing the core issues of the larger agenda, the attention of the American people continues to be held captive by a single act of a larger play. As I’ve written before, the lies are much bigger.
As I have consistently maintained, the attacks in Benghazi were proxy attacks at a nation-state level in response to our arming the anti-Assad terror organizations. They were not the result of an angry protest over an Internet video, although understanding how that video was used provides insight into the role of the CIA and certain other key players in the cover-up. You will find that the video is directly tied to a CIA operation that was to be used as cover at an appropriate moment.
They were also not the result of some false flag operation with plans to kidnap an American ambassador to swap him for the blind sheikh, although kidnapping did played a role in the attacks as I previously detailed. The kidnapping to which I refer, of course, is related to the abduction of seven Iranian-citizen ICRC workers in Benghazi on July 31, 2012. At least that incident earned a footnote in the Senate report. The curiosity regarding the number of attacks on September 11, 2012, combined with the withholding of heavy artillery suggests that the attackers were looking to rescue their compatriots that were held captive until their mysterious release after the attacks.
Even as the merits of this report are debated in the fictional right-left paradigm and the captive press, the agenda for which this CIA compound served continues. The glee shown by former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in October 2011 when she laughed about the murder of Gaddafi and the destabilization of Libya will likely be absent when Assad falls. Syria remains the target of this game of Risk among the globalists.
The recent actions of new Secretary of State John Kerry are as insidious as his predecessor’s, although perhaps not as overt or easily identifiable in this hall of mirrors of Middle East politics. By stating that the U.S. would not militarily intervene in the take-over by al Qaeda and related terror groups of the Al Anbar Province of Iraq, where many Americans died for the ostensible cause of freedom for the Iraqi people, he has given them a green light to open another front against Syria. The opening a front to the southeast of Syria via Iraq is actually one of many contingency plans, as blaming the use of chemical weapons on Assad did not work as planned as enough people saw that for what it was.
As I have written many times, the goal has always been Syria. Now, if someone thinks that the Russians, Iranians and Syrians are going to be fooled about who’s actually behind this proxy eastern front being opened up against Assad, I’d like to ask now, a year-and-a-half later, do you think they were ever fooled about who was behind the arms running operation out of Benghazi and eastern Libya where this all started? No and HELL NO. This latest front, just as the first and now failed fronts in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, is all about plausible deniability, or PD as it’s known in the tradecraft. It’s the magic act where sleight of hand and deception rule the day in “the hall of mirrors” that is Mideast politics, a reference again to the aforementioned article written by Michael Reagan.
Syria will not implode and it will not succumb to some rag-tag army of militants. The anti-Assad operation needs Western and external assistance. Putin is aware of our machinations, as are other leaders. So, when all of this comes unraveled, and it will, look for it to explode eastward into Saudi Arabia, into the Arab sea, north into Iran and all the way to the Strait of Hormuz. And when, not if it does, that attack will not just damage shipping and the free flow of oil into Western markets, it will crush the dollar and with it the hopes and dreams not just of the U.S., but western civilization itself.
If you continue to sleep now America, sleep well. Because when you do wake up, it just might be a long while before you sleep well again. The prematurely darkening sky you see is not just the announcement of evening in America. Those are blustering storm clouds, and the claps of thunder will be along shortly. And they will most likely be hard to miss.
Source: Douglas J. Hagmann
Obama’s war on Syria rages. It’s taken a horrific toll nationwide. Tens of thousands died. Dozens more do daily.
Millions were displaced. Numbers internally and abroad range up to one-third of Syria’s population. Humanitarian crisis conditions exist. Human suffering is extreme.
Peace talks reflect more illusion than reality. On January 22, they’re scheduled to begin.
On Sunday and Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met with so-called Friends of Syria countries in Paris.
They include America, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar and UAE.
They’re imperial collaborators. They no friends of the great majority of Syrians. On Sunday, they issued a joint statement, saying:
“Assad and his close associates with blood on their hands will have no role in Syria.”
Throughout nearly three years of conflict, they’ve wrongfully blamed him for Western-backed insurgent crimes.
They’re imperial collaborators. They’re responsible for horrific bloodshed. They want regime change. They want mass slaughter and destruction to achieve it.
They want sole right to choose who’ll rule. They want Syrians having no say. They want pro-Western stooges in charge. They’re ravaging and destroying a once peaceful country.
They’re responsible for high crimes against peace. No end of conflict looms. It’s unclear if talks will take place as scheduled. It’s unclear if it matters.
It’s unclear who’s attending. Divided opposition groups may not come. They’re preoccupied with slaughtering each other instead.
On January 12, AFP headlined ”700 killed in Syria rebel-jihadist battle: monitor.”
Hundreds more are missing. Fighting rages. It’s been ongoing for days. Civilians are caught in the middle. Perhaps well over 1,000 died. Expect many more to perish.
Northern provinces are affected. Aleppo, Idlib and Raqa are hard hit. So are Hama and Homs. At least 16 suicide attacks occurred. Dozens were killed. More die daily. Syria remains a cauldron of violence.
On Sunday, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius lied, saying:
“It’s the regime of Bashar al-Assad that is feeding terrorism. We must bring that regime to an end.”
“There is no solution to the Syrian tragedy apart from a political solution. And there is no possibility to achieve (it) if Geneva two does not take place.”
Geneva I ended in failure. Washington and other opponents demanded he must go. They demand he go now. They do so illegitimately.
On Sunday, John Kerry discussed prospects for Middle East peace. He addressed Syria. He blamed Assad for Obama’s war.
“There is an urgent need for the Syrian regime to implement its obligations under the UN Security Council Presidential Statement,” he said.
“We believe it is possible for the regime to (cease fighting) before Geneva – local ceasefires if necessary – a ceasefire with respect to Aleppo, and send the signal that they are prepared to set a different mood, a different climate, a different stage for the possibility of success in Geneva.”
“They have the power to do that. And the opposition has pledged that if they will do that. The opposition will live by it.”
False! Kerry knows it. Extremist elements continue fighting. They reject peace talks. Washington bears full responsibility for ongoing conflict. Assad defends Syria responsibly.
He’s battling US-backed foreign invaders. Don’t expect Kerry to explain. Continued aggression is planned.
Washington is directly involved in supplying lethal aid. It’s been doing it all along. It’s coming cross border from Turkey and Jordan. Israel is supplying weapons. CIA and US special forces are directly involved.
Kerry lied saying Assad “disregard(s) the most basic human rights.” Extremist opposition forces are barbaric. They’ve committed numerous atrocities. Assad is wrongfully blamed.
Washington wants war on Syria continued. Geneva II won’t end it. Demanding Assad must go is illegal.
Syrians alone have sole right to decide who’ll lead them. Foreign interference violates international law.
Kerry is an unindicted war criminal. He has no legitimacy whatever. He’s less than optimistic about Syria.
“None of us have an expectation,” he said. “(F)ull agreement” is unlikely.
“What we do expect is to begin to get the parties at the table convened and negotiating and beginning a process of waging an even stronger effort to provide for this political solution.”
“It’ll take a little bit of time, but I’m confident that it needs that forum. It needs all the players at the table.”
“It needs the umbrella of the United Nations.” It needs Assad gone, according to Kerry.
On Sunday, Friends of Syria countries issued a statement saying Geneva Two’s objective is replacing Assad with transitional governance.
They want one fully empowered. They want pro-Western stooges in charge. They want what Syrians won’t tolerate.
Ahmad Jarba heads the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces. He replaced Moaz al-Khatib. He’s no friend of Syrians. He’s one-sidedly pro-Western.
He issued a statement saying:
“The most important aspect of today’s meeting is that we all agree to say that the Assad family has no future in Syria.”
“Removing Assad from Syria for the future has now been clearly established in a unanimous decision adopted by (Friends of Syria countries) without the possibility for ambiguity.”
Lavrov responded saying:
“Our partners are blinded by an ideological mission for regime change.”
“I am convinced that the West is doing this to demonstrate that they call the shots in the Middle East. This is a totally politicized approach.”
Russia is fundamentally opposed. It respects Syrian sovereignty. International laws matter. Putin calls force against sovereign nations unacceptable. He said waging it is aggression.
Removing Assad assures endless conflict. Doing so frees jihadists to run wild. Syria will resemble Iraq and Libya.
Daily conflict kills dozens in both countries. Violence shows no signs of ending. Pro-Western puppet governance can’t stop it.
Institute of World Economy and International Relations senior fellow Stanislav Ivanov believes peace in Syria remains elusive.
He doubts Geneva II will work. Given what remains ongoing, it’s destined to fail, he said.
He believes a UN-sponsored conference should precede Geneva. All relevant international parties should be involved.
Iran should be invited unconditionally. It won’t attend Geneva any other way.
Center for Contemporary Iranian Studies Rajab Safarov calls Geneva talks this month futile.
“The conference will not take place because of the US,” he said. “Washington cannot get rid of the heavy pressure from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. They are not interested in finding a solution to the Syrian issue,” he added.
“There are almost no chances this conference and even holding it can succeed,” he said.
“Assad needs 4-6 months (more fighting) maximum. After that there will be no opposition in Syria. And no need” for peace talks, he believes.
At the same time, he thinks Geneva II can achieve something positive. Geneva I failed by demanding Assad must go.
Friends of Syria countries demand it now. Doing so runs counter to what most Syrians wish. Peace remains a convenient illusion.
Expect conflict without end to continue. It’s virtually certain without Iran’s involvement to end it.
Regional violence shows no signs of ending. Greater war looms possible. Post-9/11, millions died. Washington bears full responsibility.
It’s waging war on humanity. Expect other countries to be ravaged and destroyed before it ends.
The entire region may become embroiled in conflict. Global war is possible. Imagine the potential consequences. Imagine what no responsible leaders should risk.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Damascus – It is Winter Solstice in the Levant. This is the day which astronomically marks the reversal of the gradual lengthening of nights and shortening of days—a day which, since ancient times, has been celebrated with festivals, gatherings, rituals, feasting, singing, dancing and bonfires. Historically it has been viewed as a significant annual event because communities were not certain of living through the winter and had to prepare during the previous nine months for dramatic rises in starvation, communicable diseases, and infant deaths due to hypothermia. For this reason, and because such deaths were particularly common, the first months of winter became known as “the famine months” in the northern hemisphere.
Preparing for a tough next few months is what the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) is doing these days, and the UN specialized agency is working in the face of daunting odds. UNWRA was founded in 1949, and for more than 60 years it has been plagued by harassments, intimidation, and countless conspiracies to close it down, efforts waged by the international Zionist lobby and designed to “put it out of its misery” as Prime Minister Netanyahu recently demanded from the US Congress.
UNRWA has a regional headquarters in Beirut, opposite the Shatila Camp, and one in Damascus, on Mezzah Boulevard, where this observer is a regular visitor these days and where talk often inevitably centers upon the grim link between the Syrian crisis and the conditions of over half a million Palestinian refugees living in 57 UNRWA camps. Other major concerns for UNRWA are the nearly one million Syrian refugees fleeing the civil war, as well as the more than one million refugees in Gaza suffering from climatic conditions exacerbated by the brutal Zionist occupation of Palestine.
The UNRWA Syria Regional Crisis Response Plan for 2014, published this week, sets out the agency’s hoped-for projects to strengthen the resilience of Palestine refugees, and to help them weather the current dangers of frigid temperatures and lack of heat and sanitation. This winter solstice the outlook for Palestine refugees from Syria is increasingly bleak in Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, as communities, livelihoods, assets and support networks, painstakingly built over decades, are being destroyed.
Displacement among Palestinians is proportionally much higher than that of Syrians, and the threats to safe refuge in Syria, combined with severely restricted options for flight, has confronted Palestine refugees with unprecedented challenges. UNRWA emergency assistance is normally delivered as part of its well-established programs in health, education, community development, microfinance, relief, youth training and employment. Delivered by Palestinian staff, this support is a critical cornerstone, fostering resilience and continuity for both communities and families, in the face of growing hardship. Of the 540,000 Palestine refugees registered with UNRWA in Syria, about 270,000 are displaced within the country, and an estimated 85,000 have fled. Fifty-one thousand of these have reached Lebanon, 11,000 have identified themselves in Jordan, 5,000 are in Egypt, and smaller numbers have reached Gaza, Turkey and farther afield. Those who have managed to land in Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt face risky legal limbos compounded with living conditions so difficult that many decide to return to the dangers of Syria.
Financial support to UNRWA has not kept pace with an increased demand for services caused by expanding need, deepening poverty, and the growing numbers of registered refugees. As a result, the agency’s general fund, which supports UNRWA’s core activities and is 97 percent reliant on voluntary contributions, begins each year with a large projected deficit. UNRWA officials cite an immediate need for US$417.4 million to respond adequately to the needs of Palestinian refugees in Syria; US$90.4 million for those in Lebanon; and US$14.6 for the ones in Jordan. An additional US$2.4 million is required for emergency response needs outside the purview of the UNRWA’s field offices, including token cash assistance for Palestinian families from Syria in Gaza.
Winter storm Alexa, the fiercest storm to hit Gaza and the West Bank in over 100 years, is still wreaking havoc and bringing misery to thousands. As of 12/19/13, some 40,000 people in Gaza have been driven from their homes due to extreme flooding. The situation has been exacerbated by the fuel crisis that has left people without power for up to 21 hours a day and forced raw sewage to flow through the streets. People’s lives and health are at grave risk. Gaza’s Hamas government said 4,306 in all had been evacuated to schools and other centers used as makeshift shelters in the past four days. The strip’s 1.8 million people, trying to survive in one of the most densely populated tracts on earth, have also endured blackouts of around 12 hours a day since the lone power plant was switched off last month due to a fuel shortage. The territory lacks much basic civil infrastructure and lives under an Egyptian-Israeli blockade curbing imports of fuel, building supplies and basic goods. Moreover, reports from UNRWA staff indicate that conditions are worsening due to severe Israeli restrictions on the camps. For instance, emergency responders cannot reconnect power lines downed due to the heavy snow, and the populace has little access to basic necessities such as running water. The crisis is deepening, and the problems are similar in virtually all of the vulnerable refugee camps. People face severe power outages, while some in the West Bank also face systematic attacks by the Israeli army.
Other problems weighing heavily on UNWRA include strikes and threats of strikes by UNWRA employees protesting claimed low wages. Dismay has also been expressed at what is widely perceived as the UNRWA’s weak humanitarian role in Gaza, where normal, day-to-day problems are compounded by the blockade and, most recently, the flood. The workers’ union at the UN agency for Palestinian refugees in Gaza continued protests this week, calling for salary increases. One Hamas official has accused UNRWA officials of receiving exorbitant salaries, charging that the agency at the same time is not up to the tasks it is assigned to do. UNWRA officials who this observer spoke with denied this, but declined any information about any UNWRA salaries.
Like many aid agencies working in Syria, the UNRWA continues to lose staff. UNRWA teacher Suzan Ghazazweh, a popular and accomplished teacher at the Abbasyyeh School in Muzeirib, was killed by shrapnel when a shell struck her home on December 2, 2013. She is the tenth UNRWA staffer killed in Syria.
Enter Professor Alan Dershowitz!
Adding to UNWRA’s myriad problems is the fact that Professor Alan Dershowitz for some reason chose this winter solstice to retire after 46 years on the job at the Harvard Law School. Within hours, if he has not already done so, Alan will depart Harvard’s hallowed halls to devote more time to his current central cause, one which arguably poses his most difficult challenge—“saving Israel from itself and from UNWRA!” as he told a Harvard Crimson stringer on background recently.
The past few years Professor Dershowitz, apparently wanting to make a strong impression on his new students, would start off the beginning of semester classes by offering them his essential view of the law. During the first or second class meeting he reportedly often made references to some of the 13 out of 15 major cases he “won” for the likes of Mike Tyson, Patty Hearst, Jim Bakker, Claus von Bulow and O. J. Simpson to name a few. He would explain to his classes:
“All my big cases I won on a legal technicality! Those cases were lost causes. Otherwise, why would these clients come to me? The first thing to remember as you continue your legal studies is to forget what the law says or even what the facts of a case are! American appellate courts will decide the facts and the law of a case based on what the best advocate says they are. That’s why I win!”
To one public international law class Professor Dershowitz is reported to have sneered, “And you can forget about claims of human rights based on international law and universal standards of morality. You’ll never win s— with that malarkey.”
As he begins preparation for his “legitimization case” on behalf of the last remaining 19th century colonial enterprise—the Zionist theft and continuing illegal occupation of Palestine—Alan, some associates claim, plans to come out swinging against the UNRWA. Throughout his teaching career, Dershowitz has been a loyal supporter, and some say main instigator, of AIPAC. Little surprise, then, that he has joined the Zionist Lobby’s more than two decades of attacks on the UNRWA, seeking to have the agency’s funding cut off. But until now, he has not been “lead attorney of record.”
One source who meets with Professor Dershowitz from time to time in Washington claims that Alan insists that UNWRA is another one of Israel’s growing number of existential threats, this because the UN agency “keeps the Palestinian refugee issue alive and allows human rights types to keep the issue of wrongful dispossession of their homes and land before the global community and with no end in sight.”
Though he makes regular trips to Israel, Alan doesn’t come around Lebanon or Syria much, and frankly this observer has only met him a couple of times. He claims to have a photographic memory and maybe that is why he doesn’t seem to cotton much to this observer. Perhaps he remembers, and even holds a grudge of some kind, from our first meeting more than a quarter century ago. On that day, Alan came to see me in my Congressional House Judiciary office in the Rayburn building. I am not sure who referred him, but only an hour earlier, my boss, Congressman John Conyers, Chairman of Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, called to give me a last minute assignment. It was simple enough, and I had done it before. Congressman Conyers wanted me to escort a visiting judicial official from another country, in this case the chief justice from Egypt’s highest court, across the lawn from Rayburn for a meeting at the Supreme Court with our CJ, Warren Burger. An easy enough assignment it was, because Burger invariably was pleasant, with a southern style aura of gentility about him, but fifteen minutes before the Egyptian CJ was due to join me, an intense, smallish, fast-talking guy shows up, announces he is from the Harvard Law School, and must join “the Egyptian” during his meeting with Burger. Frankly it did not matter much to me one way or the other, but I did call my supervisor, Hayden Gregory, for advice. Basically his reply was, “Not a chance! No way!” Only later did I learn Alan had rubbed Hayden the wrong way over proposed “federal determinate sentencing guidelines,” an issue before our committee at the time.
Long story short, Alan would not take no for an answer. When I made it clear he was not invited and could not join the meeting he became angry and stormed off.
He may still remember, but with me it was not personal, and in any event all this is by way of saying that UNWRA had better baton down its hatches because they have more problems coming their way than they realize or are ready for.
Addressing the annual Jamestown Foundation conference of terror experts on December 12, former CIA chief Michael Hayden outlined three possible outcomes of the ongoing conflict in Syria. The first would be further escalation of violence between ever more extreme Sunni and Shiite factions. The second possible outcome—which Hayden described as the most likely but also the most destabilizing for the region—is the dissolution of Syria and the end of a single state within the borders defined by the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement. “Option three is Assad wins,” Hayden went on, “and I must tell you at the moment, as ugly as it sounds, I’m kind of trending toward option three as the best out of three very, very ugly possible outcomes.”
The first option is not really an “outcome,” but a discrete stage in the conflict which is practically over: Sunni jihadists have already defeated the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the dwindling fighting force of the U.S.-backed Supreme Military Council (SMC). Two weeks ago General Salim Idris, the FSA commander, even suggested that he might join forces with the government army in fighting Al Qaeda. On December 6 fighters belonging to the Islamic Front—a recently founded, Saudi-backed alliance of seven jihadist groups—captured the SMC bases and warehouses near the Turkish border, where vehicles and other U.S.-supplied “nonlethal” equipment were kept. They also forced Gen. Idris too flee Syria for Turkey. He later tried to put a brave face on the debacle, but the FSA is finished as a viable player.
The Administration initially reacted by suspending the $260 million rebel aid program, but there have been signs in recent days that the White House may give up on the “moderates” altogether and divert future supplies to hard-core Islamist groups, provided they are not affiliated to al-Qaeda. “It’s a pivotal point,” a senior U.S. official told the CNN. “We need to figure out, what extremists do we deal with?”
Dealing with Islamic extremists is never a good idea, but the White House will likely resolve it by calling the Islamic Front “moderate.” As it happens, the Islamic Front’s charter, released on November 26, calls for the establishment of an Islamic state and the imposition of Sharia. It also endorses jihad and welcomes the Muhajireen (foreign fighters) as “brothers.” One of the seven groups within the Islamic Front, the Ahrar al Sham, routinely conducts joint raids with al-Qaeda’s two Syrian branches, the Al Nusrah Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). The assault on the Christian town of Malula last September was one such joint operation.
Michael Hayden should be commended for stating so bluntly what we have repeatedly argued since the beginning of the Syrian conflict, that Bashar al-Assad’s victory would be the least bad outcome for Western interests in the region. This view is gaining credence. “We need to start talking to the Assad regime again” about counterterrorism and other issues of shared concern, Ryan Crocker, a respected veteran diplomat, told the New York Times on December 3. “It will have to be done very, very quietly. But bad as Assad is, he is not as bad as the jihadis who would take over in his absence.” As The Independent reported on the same day, Western security agencies now believe that returning jihad-veterans pose the most serious threat of terrorism in Europe and the United States.
Bashar’s army and police have performed surprisingly well for almost three years now. Over the past year they have been able to consolidate their positions in about one-half of the country they still control, but eradicating the rebellion altogether will prove impossible for as long as weapons and money are provided by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, and jihadist volunteers keep arriving from all over the Sunni Muslim world. The current stalemate may create conditions for Syria’s eventual disintegration along both religious and ethnic lines.
The fragmentation of Syria and its end as a single state within the borders defined by the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement may not be as destabilizing as General Hayden suggests. There is nothing sacrosanct about the lines of partition of the Ottoman Empire into Anglo-French spheres of influence, drawn rather arbitrarily by a British civil servant and a French diplomat almost a century ago. Syria’s effective partition along ethno-religious lines was introduced in 1922, during the French Mandate.
It is arguable that the breakup has already happened, and that Syria no longer exists as a single political entity. The government enjoys majority support along a wide belt extending from the heavily Druze southern border with Jordan and the Israeli-held Golan Heights, through Damascus and Homs, and up to the disputed city of Aleppo in the northwest. This belt—about 40 percent of Syria’s territory, with one-half of its people—also includes Syria’s strategically important Mediterranean coastline, which is inhabited mainly by Bashar’s fellow Alawites and Christians. The rebels are overwhelmingly Sunni Muslims—which is not to say that all Syrian Sunnis support the rebels—and they control extensive tracts in the north and center of the country, and along the valley of the Euphrates to the sparsely populated Iraqi border in the east. The front lines are fluid, but it is a safe guess that the rebels dominate in one-half of Syria, with perhaps 40 percent of the population. Finally, Syria’s two million Kurds, ten percent of its people, have set up a de facto state in the northeast of the country (ca. 10% of Syria’s territory), with its own armed forces, police, courts, license plates, and Kurdish-language schools. They say that they would only seek autonomy within a future federalized Syria, but at the same time they reject any solution that would fall short of that goal.
Syria’s effective breakup would be followed by population exchanges, which is preferable to the chaotic ethno-religious cleansing of which Syria’s Christians have been the main victims. It is likely that, in addition to Alawites, Christians, Shia and Druze, many educated, urban Sunnis would also opt for the multi-ethnic and multi-confessional state of southern and coastal Syria, governed by secularists, in preference to the putative Islamic Caliphate in the north and along east, with rival factions vying for power. It is also possible that outside forces—Turkey in particular—will insist on the maintenance of a single-state façade. It is not possible for Syria to be recreated as a centralized, secularist-governed state, however, and it is equally impossible for the jihadists to terrorize two-thirds of Syria’s 23 million people into submission.
Adam Smith said governments are “instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor.” Wars are waged to make them richer.
Howard Zinn called war “terrorism magnified a hundred times.” Make it many thousands of times.
Michael Parenti said “the best way to win a Nobel Peace Prize (is) to wage war or support those who wage (it) instead of peace.”
In his book titled “The Face of Imperialism,” he discusses a richly financed military/industrial complex. Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff call it the “military-industrial media complex.”
Waging wars requires selling them. Public support is needed. Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky call it “Manufacturing Consent.”
Propaganda works as intended. Minds are manipulated to support war. Truth is suppressed. Fear is stoked. Patriotism, national security, and democratic values are highlighted.
Longstanding US policy facilitates earning obscene amounts from militarism, wars, homeland security, and related operations.
Doing so has nothing to do with external or internal threats. It’s unrelated to spreading democracy. It isn’t about humanitarian intervention.
It about advancing America’s imperium. Parenti calls the process “the most powerful force in world history over the last four or five centuries. (It) “carves up whole continents.”
“(T)he dominant politico-economic interests of one nation expropriate for their own enrichment the land, labor, raw materials, and markets of another people.”
Capitalist imperialism differs from earlier forms. It dominates other economies and political systems. It accumulates enormous amounts of wealth.
It uses money to make more of it. It gains market control. It exploits resources and labor.
According to Marx and Engels:
Bourgeois capital “chases over the whole surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connections everywhere…It creates a world after its own image.”
Societies are destroyed and remade to do it. Nations are pillaged for profit. Populations become disenfranchised. Workers become serfs. Local cultures become mass-market consumer ones.
Agribusiness replaces local farming. Competitive industries are eliminated. Foreign investment crowds out local capital.
Dominance legitimizes capital’s divine right. Plunder assures obscene profits. Capital accumulation demands more. Profiteering becomes a be-all-and-end-all.
Businesses price according to what the market will bear. Profiteers take advantage of emergency or other out-of-ordinary conditions to cash in excessively.
WikiLeaks calls profiteering “a pejorative term for the act of making profit by methods considered unethical.”
Price fixing is illegal. Price gouging reflects grabbing all you can. It’s charging more than what’s considered reasonable and fair.
War profiteers are in a class by themselves. They thrive on war. They depend on it. Their businesses require conflicts and instability to prosper. The more ongoing, the greater the potential profits.
Lot of players profit from wars. Companies develop technologies with military applications. Black marketeers cash in.
Politicians taking campaign contributions, special favors or bribes benefit handsomely. Nations do by acquiring control over territory, resources and exploitable people.
Private military contractors include companies offering a wide range of services. They provide everything from tactical combat to security to consulting to logistics to technical support.
In his book titled “Halliburton’s Army: How a Well-Connected Texas Oil Company Revolutionized the Way America Makes War,” Pratap Chatterjee describes a company tainted by sweetheart deal no-bid contacts, bribes, kickbacks, inefficiency, shoddy work, corruption, fraud, gross overcharging, worker exploitation, and other serious offenses.
Other companies operate the same way. Military spending is hugely wasteful. Fraud and abuse are rampant. War is extremely profitable. Why else would so many be waged.
Mercenaries are guns for hire. They’re for sale to the highest bidder. They’re in it for the money. They’re unchecked, unaccountable and unprincipled.
Arms and munitions companies benefit most. Amounts spent are mind-bogging.
Bloomberg says defense budgets “contain hundreds of billions of dollars for new generations of aircraft carriers and stealth fighters, tanks that even the Army says it doesn’t need and combat vehicles too heavy to maneuver in desert sands or cross most bridges in Asia, Africa, or the Middle East.”
According to BusinessWeek, redundancy wastes lots of money. “One need only spend 10 minutes walking around the Pentagon or any major military headquarters to see” it.
Why doesn’t Congress trim fat? Because politicians want lots of pork for constituents. It’s a great vote-getter.
BusinessWeek explained more, saying:
“Why is sensible military budgeting so difficult? Because lawmakers, including small-government Republicans, protect defense business in their home states with the ferocity of Spartans.”
“Even if the Pentagon offered up (sensible) cuts…Congress would almost certainly reject them.”
“The senators and representatives don’t have the political courage to face voters and tell them that the republic simply does not need the weapon under construction in their hometown.”
Trillions of dollars are spent. Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta once said DOD “is the only major federal agency that cannot pass an audit today.”
Even during October’s 16 day shutdown, huge amounts of wasteful spending continued.
Ralph Nader calls now the time to address bloated military spending. Let’s “start shutting down the waste and fraud in our military budget,” he stresses.
Billions get tossed around mindlessly. Profiteers never had it better. Government watchdogs identify hundreds of billions of potential savings from unneeded weapons, defective ones, no-bid excess, overpayments, and outright fraud.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) conducts research on security, war and peace.
“A world in which sources of insecurity are identified and understood, conflicts are prevented or resolved, and peace is sustained,” it says.
It reports on “recent trends in military expenditure(s).”
Amounts spent are huge. In 2012, nominal global military spending exceeded $1.7 trillion. It’s around historic highs.
In real terms, it exceeds peak amounts spent during the Cold War. Post-9/11, spending increased sharply. America led the way.
In 2012, 15 nations accounted for over 80% military spending. SIPRI lists them as follows:
- America: $682 billion – 39%
- China: $166 billion – 9.5%
- Russia: $90.7 billion – 5.2%
- Britain: $60.8 billion – 3.5%
- Japan: 59.3 billion – 3.4%
- France: $58.9 billion – 3.4%
- Saudi Arabia: $56.7 billion – 3.2%
- India: $46.1 billion – 2.6%
- Germany: $45.8 billion – 2.6%
- Italy: $34 billion – 1.9%
- Brazil: $33.1 billion – 1.9%
- South Korea: $31.7 billion – 1.8%
- Australia: $26.2 billion – 1.5%
- Canada: $22.5 billion – 1.3%
- Turkey: $18.2 billion – 1%
- Others 18%
SIPRI calculates nominal military spending. Amounts America spends far exceeds annual defense authorizations.
Other allocations are for the Energy Department, State Department, Department of Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, Treasury, NASA, military construction, various categories related to security, and interest attributable to past defense outlays.
Black intelligence, Pentagon and other budgets add many tens of billions more. So do supplemental military allocations. Foreign aid is mostly military related.
The Library of Congress listed the top 10 2012 recipients and amounts as follows:
Israel: $3.075 billion
Note: Israel gets special benefits provided no other nations.
They include annual $3 billion + direct appropriations, undisclosed additional amounts, state-of-the-art weapons and technology, billions in loan guarantees, military loans as grants, privileged contracts for Israeli companies, trade exemptions, and more.
Special allocations are buried in various agency budgets. Low or no-interest loans are provided. Some are never repaid. Most often, whatever Israel wants it gets.
- Afghanistan: $2.327 billion
- Pakistan: $2.102 billion
- Iraq: $1.683 billion
- Egypt: $1.557 billion
- Jordan: $676 million
- Kenya: $652 million
- Nigeria: $625 million
- Ethiopia: $580 million
- Tanzania: $531 million
US defense related spending exceeds $1.5 trillion annually. It’s half or more what other nations spend in total.
Militarism defines America. So do permanent wars. They’re a national addiction. They’re part of the national culture.
Violence is the American way. Wars are glorified. Pacifism is considered sissy. Peace is deplored. Conflicts persist with no end.
War profiteers gorge themselves at the public trough. Their operations thrive on war. They depend on it.
They’re waged for profit and dominance. They continue without end. Peace is verboten. It’s a convenient illusion.
Howard Zinn once asked “(h)ow can you have a war on terrorism when war itself is terrorism?”
“There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”
Why most Americans put up with it they’ll have to explain. Doing so lets Washington get away with mass murder and then some. It lets war profiteers benefit at our expense.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
Damascus – The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates—along with certain Arab League countries, plus Turkey and Israel, have this past week reportedly committed themselves to raising nearly $6 billion to “beef up” the just-hatched Islamic Front (IF) in Syria. These “best friends of America” want the Obama administration to sign onto a scheme to oust the Syrian government by funding, arming, training, facilitating and generally choreographing the movement of fighters of this new front, a front formed out of an alliance of seven putatively “moderate” rebel factions.
Representatives of Saudi intelligence chief Bandar bin Sultan reportedly told staff members on Capitol Hill that committing several billions to defeat the Assad regime by supporting the IF makes fiscal sense and will cost much less than the six trillion dollar figure tallied by the recent study by Brown University as part of its Costs of War project. According to the 2013 update of the definitive Brown study, which examined costs of the US wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, the total amount for all three topped six trillion dollars. This never before released figure includes costs of direct and indirect Congressional appropriations, lost equipment, US military and foreign contractors fraud, and the cost of caring for wounded American servicemen and their families.
Among the Islamist militia joining the new GCC-backed coalition are Aleppo’s biggest fighting force, Liwa al-Tawhid (Tawhid Brigade), the Salafist group Ahrar al-Sham, Suqour al-Sham, al-Haq Brigades, Ansar al-Sham and the Islamic Army, which is centered around Damascus. The Kurdish Islamic Front also reportedly joined the alliance.
IF’s declared aim is to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, whatever the human and material cost it may require, and replace it with an “Islamic state.” Abu Firas, the new coalition’s spokesman, declared that “we now have the complete merger of the major military factions fighting in Syria.”
Formally announced on 11/22/13, the IF includes groups from three prior umbrella organizations: the Syrian Islamic Front (SIF), the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front (SILF), and the Kurdish Islamic Front (KIF). From the SIF, Harakat Ahrar al-Sham al-Islamiyya (HASI), Kataib Ansar al-Sham, and Liwa al-Haqq all joined, as did the KIF as a whole, and former SILF brigades Suqur al-Sham, Liwa al-Tawhid, and Jaish al-Islam. None of these groups have been designated foreign terrorist organizations by the US, and therefore, as an Israeli official argued in a meeting with AIPAC and Congress this week, nothing stands in the way of US funding and support for them. The Israeli official in question is the country’s new national security advisor, Yossie Cohen, who assures key congressional leaders that the tens of thousands of rebels making up the IF will all support “one policy and one military command.” Cohen also pledges that the new group is not as “insane” as other Muslim militia—Daash or al-Nusra or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, for instance—that comprise the IF’s chief rivals. Cohen and AIPAC are further telling Congress members and congressional staffers that the emergence of the IF is one of the war’s most important developments, and he vows that the new organization in effect brings seven organizations into a combined force that will fight under one command, a force estimated by the CIA to number at around 75,000 fighters. Reportedly the objective will link the fight in the north with that in the south in a manner that will stretch loyalist forces, and the Saudi-Israel team is also asking the Obama Administration to more than double the monthly “graduation class” of CIA-trained rebels in Turkey, Syria and Jordan—from its current level of 200 per month, up to 500 a month.
What the GCC/Arab League/Israeli team is asking of its western allies (meaning of course mainly the US) is to immediately fund the IF to the tune of $ 5.5 billion. This, Israeli security officials argue, is pocket change compared to the $6 trillion spent in US terrorist wars of the past decade. Plus it will have the presumed “benefit” of toppling the Assad regime and truncating Iran’s growing influence. The plan has reportedly been dismissed by some in the Obama administration as “risible and pathetic.” Nonetheless, Tel Aviv, the US Congressional Zionist lobby, and to a lesser extent Ankara, are pressing ahead under the assumption that linking with the IF now makes sense and that they can take their chances will al-Qaeda later. Ironically these are some of the same voices from AIPAC’s Congressional Team who four years ago were claiming that al-Qaeda was “on the ropes and will soon collapse.” Yet they are optimistic that if Assad goes, “we can deal with the terrorists and it won’t cost six trillion dollars.”
One House member who strongly agrees with AIPAC is Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA), who recently declared that “in my heart I am a Tea Party guy.” A member of the House Armed Services Committee, Hunter believes the US should use nuclear weapons against Tehran. In a Fox TV interview this week he declared his opposition to any talks with Iran, insisting that US policy should include a “massive aerial bombardment campaign” utilizing “tactical nuclear devices” to set Iran “back a decade or two or three.”
According to sources in Aleppo and Damascus, the IF’s top leadership positions have been parceled out among five of the seven groups. This at least is as of 12/5/13. Four days after the IF was announced, the organization released an official charter. In terms of its basic architecture, the document is similar to that put out by the SIF in January, but the new version is filled with more generalities than other militia proclamations, and seems designed to accommodate differing ideas among member groups. The charter calls for an Islamic state and the implementation of sharia law, though it does not define exactly what this means. The IF is firmly against secularism, human legislation (i.e., it believes that laws come from God, not people), civil government, and a Kurdish breakaway state. The charter states that the group will secure minority rights in post-Assad Syria based on sharia, which could mean the dhimma (“protected peoples”) system, or de facto second-class citizenship for Christians and other minorities. According to Saudi officials in Lebanon, the IF seeks to unify other rebel groups so long as they agree to acknowledge the sovereignty of God. Given this ‘moderate’ wording, the expectation of some is that that the southern-based Ittihad al-Islami li-Ajnad al-Sham will join the IF.
According to the Netanyahu government, the IF’s leading foreign cheerleader, this new coalition gives substance to that which states who have been wanting regime change in Syria have been calling for. One analyst on the Syrian conflict, Aron Lund, believes a grouping of mainstream and hardline Islamists, excluding any al-Qaeda factions, is significant. “It’s something that could be very important if it holds up,” he explained. “The Islamic Front’s formation was a response to both regime advances and the ‘aggressive posture’ of jihadists against other rebels, plus a good deal of foreign involvement, not least of which is Saudi and GCC pushing to unify the rebels.”
Contrary to reports out of Occupied Palestine that the Netanyahu regime is not worried about or much interested in the crisis in Syria, a measure of delight seems to be felt in Tel Aviv that Muslims and Arabs are once more killing each other, along with smugness over Hezbollah’s loss of key mujahedeen as it faces, along with Iran, its own “Vietnam experience.” Yet all this notwithstanding, near panic is reported to have been felt in Israeli government circles over Hezbollah’s achievements in Syria. Truth told, Tel Aviv knows that despite manpower losses by Hezbollah, the dominant Lebanese political party is bringing about major enhancements of its forces. It also knows that there is no substitute for urban battlefield experience with regard to effecting such force regeneration, and Israeli officials have also stated their belief that the Resistance is organizing non-Hezbollah brigades that share one goal in common despite disparate beliefs. That sacred goal is liberating Al Quds by any and all means.
A US Congressional source summarized the Obama administration’s take on this week’s assassination of a key Hezbollah commander as part of a major new Netanyahu government project to weaken Hezbollah. Hassan Houlo Lakkis’ assassination on the night of December 3-4 is deemed in Washington to be particularly significant since Lakkis was in charge of strategic files related to Israel and the Palestinians and also oversaw a number of key operations. The Resistance commander was deeply involved in the development of drones for Hezbollah, as well as smuggling weapons to Gaza via Egypt. He also had good relationships with the Palestinian factions in Gaza, Syria, and Lebanon. Lakkis was known by Washington to be a highly important cadre and a second rank Hezbollah official. According to one analyst “Israel appeared as if it was telling Hezbollah, come and fight me. Israel is upset over the Western-Iranian agreement. It is also upset over the new position that the West has concerning Hezbollah whereby the West is now viewing the party as a force that opposes the Takfiris. Thus, Israel’s objective behind the assassination is to lure the party into a confrontation thus allowing Tel Aviv to tell the West: Hezbollah is still a terrorist organization.”
According to sources on the US Foreign Relations Committee, the White House is being heavily pressured by the US Zionist lobby and the Netanyahu government to take “remedial measures” for the “catastrophic historic mistake” it made in defusing the Iranian nuclear issue and refusing to bomb Damascus. The measures being pushed for, of course, are funding and support for the IF, though doubts persist in Washington as to how “remedial” they will in fact be. The $5.5 billion “investment” is to be paid in large part by GCC/Arab League countries, with US and Zionist contributions. Cash from the latter two sources will come directly and indirectly out of the pockets of American taxpayers—with Israel paying nothing.
Some Washington officials and analysts are wondering if US participation would help unify notoriously hostile rebel ranks and curtail the growing power of al-Qaeda in Syria, or whether it is simply another zany Bander bin Sultan-concocted project, the latest of many—in this case to create a hierarchical revolutionary army with the aim of fighting the Syrian regime essentially alongside al-Qaeda? Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel expressed his personal suspicions this week that “the Israel-Saudi team is trying to drag the US back into a potentially deepening morass,” alluding to what apparently is an effort to head off any plans the Obama administration may have of living with the Assad government until such time as Geneva II happens, that is if it happens, according to one congressional staffer.
Many among the American public also have doubts because they have been told that their government was ‘winding down’ its Middle East wars in favor of rebuilding America’s infrastructure, roads, health care and education systems, all of which, especially the latter, appear to be suffering dramatically. According to the most recent international survey, released this week, the average Chinese student, aged fifteen in Shanghai, is two full years ahead of America’s best students surveyed in Massachusetts. Recent top scores among secondary school youngsters, particularly in math, reading and science, were considerably lower than those achieved by students in Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan or Japan. The US is far down the list and declining, and the survey suggests that the gap is widening.
It’s too early to say whether this latest Saudi-Israel-Arab League collaboration will fail as others have recently, but given the continuing Obama administration efforts at taking back US Middle East policy from Tel Aviv, plus the perceptible movement away from support for the Netanyahu government along with growing angst among American taxpayers over funding the occupation of Palestine, it just might collapse.
I remember as a young child that the key to winning a lot of the neighborhood games in football and basketball was all about who got picked first. If you were lucky enough to get Michael on your team, then you knew you were going to win. If you were in a foreign park playing against kids you did not know, Michael was the great equalizer. I also knew that getting the right kids on my side helped in spelling bees and walking home from the movies so I didn’t get beat up. Learning how to organize my team with the right people, served me well when I became a men’s college head basketball coach in terms of winning the recruiting wars. I always felt the April recruiting wars was the deciding factor in many games in the following December.
America is in the choosing sides phase of the coming civil war. To use a college recruiting phrase, it is accurate to state that the letters of intent to join one side or another side, have mostly been signed and the commitments offered. However, there is one big uncommitted piece, but very soon the sides will be drawn.
The Chess Pieces of Civil War
What is going on today in America is all about choosing sides. There are clear lines being formed in the United States. The recruiting pool consists of the Department of Homeland Security, the American military, local law enforcement, the Russian troops pouring into the United States, the trickle of Chinese troops coming into the country through Hawaii and, of course, the poor, the middle class and elite. This is the recruiting pool which will form the chess pieces of the coming American Civil War.
The Contextual Background for Civil War
Even if all parties in this country wanted the country to continue, even in its present mortally wounded state, it would be foolish to believe that it could continue for much longer.
There are three paramount numbers that every American should be paying attention to and they are (1) national deficit ($17 trillion dollars), (2) the unfunded liabilities debt ($238 trillion dollars), and (3) the derivatives/futures debt (one quadrillion dollars which is 16 times the entire wealth of the planet. The net result of these staggering numbers can only end one way, and that is with a financial collapse, followed by a bank holiday, rioting in the streets and the full roll out of martial law. These financial numbers guarantee that the party cannot continue much longer.
Since America, in her present form, cannot continue much longer without experiencing a cataclysmic shift, we would be wise to realize what resources are going to be the impetus for civil war. When you play the board game, Monopoly, the properties on Boardwalk are among the most coveted. It is no different in real life. The biggest prize of the coming conflict is real estate. Homes, office buildings and shopping malls are the most coveted prize. The MERS mortgage fraud continues unabated as millions of homes have been confiscated through mortgage fraud. When the dollar is worthless and is awaiting its replacement (e.g. the Amero or the Worldo), real estate will be more valuable than gold.
Other big game that is being hunted by both sides in the coming civil war will be bank accounts, which must be looted before the dormant computer digits we call money, can be converted into hard assets. That is why my advice is, and has been, convert your cash into tangible assets which can enhance your survivability in the upcoming crash.
Also, your pensions, your 401K’s and your various entitlement programs are also at risk as evidenced by Secretary of Treasury Jack Lew’s “borrowing” from various Federal retirement accounts in order to increase the debt ceiling fight that will resurface in Congress, again, early next year.
Again, my advice is to convert your assets in tangible items which will aid in getting you through some very dark days coming up in the near future. Before the cognitive dissonance crowd rears their ugly heads and accuses me of fear mongering, ask yourself what the elite did prior to the crash of the economy in 1929. For example, Joseph Kennedy took his money out of the stock market the day BEFORE it crashed. Rockefeller, Westinghouse, et al., all took their money out just prior to the crash, leaving the ignorant masses unaware of what was coming. Don’t make the same mistake.
Barring a false flag event, US martial law will have a trigger event, which will lead to martial law, that will be a financial collapse and it will naturally occur as we are already on a collision course with destiny. I am not ruling out other events, but the economic crash scenario is easily the most likely event.
Building Fences Around the Ignorant
Please allow me to ask you an ignorant question. If you knew that a virus was coming to your neighborhood which would infect much of the local canine population, wouldn’t it be prudent to build a fence around all of the dogs in the neighborhood in order to isolate any potentially infected dogs? Well, this is how the elite view you.
Many of us, devoid of financial resources, will soon become like a pack of rabid dogs and we must be contained. As I have written about recently, it is becoming very difficult to get your money out of the country. Banks, such as JP Morgan Chase and HSBC have already imposed withdrawal limits. If you withdraw more than $10,000 cash, you run a good chance of being investigated by the IRS. One layer of fencing has already been placed around you and your assets.
The NDAA constitutes another big fence being built around the people in which all due process will soon be gone. The NDAA will allow the administration the “legal” right to secretly remove any burgeoning leadership of citizen opposition forces. The second provision which will allow this country to quickly transition to martial law is Executive Order (EO) 13603 which allows the President to take control over any resource, property and even human labor within the United States. This EO gives the President unlimited authority including the ability to initiate a civilian draft as well as a military draft. In short, this spells the potential enslavement of the American people. For those of you who still have your blinders on, research the NDAA and EO 13603 and then when you realize that I am correct in my interpretation, ask yourself one question; If the powers that be were not going to seize every important asset, then why would the government give itself the power to do just that? And while you are at it, remember the Clean Water Act gives the EPA to control all private property as well as the precious resources of all water. And then of course, the FDA and the conflicts with local farmers is escalating. And if this is not enough to convince the sheep of this country that the storm clouds are overhead, then take a look at HR 347 which outlaws protesting and takes away the First Amendment. This unconstitutional legislation makes it illegal to criticize the President and the government, as a whole, in the presence of Federal officials. I have news for you, there are Federal officials in every town, city and county in America. If one violates HR 347, they will be immediately arrested and charged with a felony.
I just saw the Hunger Games sequel, Catching Fire, and this is eerily similar to what I saw in a lot of movies in that the people are being provoked to revolution. In fact, in the TV show, Revolution, the most evil entity in the series is the re-emergence of the United States government and the heroes of the show are rebelling against the abuse. It seems like everywhere we turn in the media, the people are being encouraged to rise up now and challenge authority. I am sure the establishment would rather confront a small group of dissidents and squelch the rebellion now, before the numbers can become significant and overwhelming to the establishment and this theme is being carried out in the media on a large scale.
Along these same lines, Obama has done nothing but agitate the middle class. I like to ask Obama supporters, can you name one thing Obama has done, on behalf of the establishment elite, to improve the plight of the American middle class? I can’t think of even one thing.
The fences have been built around the soon-to-be rabid dog population, so when the infected dogs go crazy, the pieces will have been put in place to deal with the uprisings that will surely follow the loss of everything. Containment is nearly complete. The final action will consist of gun confiscation and one side of the coming conflict is attempting to position themselves to do that in the near future and that would be the DHS, the Russians and the Chinese. I cannot think of another legitimate reason which would describe why these foreign troops are here.
Cognitive dissonance only relieves some of psychological distress for so long.
I have told you what is at risk before the inevitable economic crash. Now it is time to take stock of the sides of this coming civil war and a very clear picture is emerging.
The poor have no resources other than their food stamps which are already under attack. The middle class and their resources are the target for the coming conflict. And most of the middle class has no idea that they have been targeted. Soon the divide and conquer strategies will lose their effectiveness and the poor and the middle class will be on the same team because they will both have lost everything.
As most of you know, I have been screaming from the roof tops that the “Russians are coming, the Russians are coming”, in reference to a bilateral agreement signed between the Russian military and FEMA. Well, the Russians are not coming, they are here and so are the Chinese. As most of you also know the Russians are Chinese have threatened to nuke the United States over Iran and Syria in the past several months. Yet, this administration thinks it is a good idea to include the Russians and Chinese in participating in highly secure operations with profound national security implications in such drills as Grid EX II and the upcoming RIMPAC war games which we used to use to fight against the imaginary Chinese and Russian forces. This is insanity, however, in athletic parlance, one side conducted a trade and is now receiving the services of their once arch-rival.
The sides of the coming civil war looks like this. On one side, we find the evil empire consisting of the elite, their government puppets, the DHS the Chinese, the Russians and perhaps the military. The other side, for the moment consists of the middle class and now the poor as they move towards having their entitlements incrementally taken away. Unless the military and the police can be swayed to the side of the people, the people are going to lose badly.
There is one big prize and its allegiance has not yet been determined and that is the American military and it is a game changer.
Carving Up the Military Like a Thanksgiving Turkey
Obama is purging the military like no president has ever done. Bush fired two Generals. Obama has fired hundreds of command level officers. Why? Because the military leadership is the key to the coming civil war. Who will the military support? Will the military support an out of control administration who would use foreign military assets against the people? Or, will they support the people that they are sworn to defend?
Obama has the Russians and the Chinese military coming into the country because our military cannot be trusted to do what needs to be done when the economic crash occurs. They are needed to confiscate the guns. Obama knows that the military is conditioned to protect the people. He is hoping that he can change the entire structure of the military and thus, change its mission through changing its leadership.
I personally do not think Obama can change the rank and file of the military. I think he can only have a minimal effect on the leadership of the military. If Obama’s purge of the military is anything but for the purpose of commandeering its services for the upcoming civil war, I would really like to hear another explanation, because, for the life of me, I cannot see another purpose to Obama’s house cleaning of the military. .
Obama needs to be impeached and convicted for treason.
Commanding Military Officers Terminated By Obama
-General John R. Allen-U.S. Marines Commander International Security Assistance Force [ISAF] (Nov 2012)
-Major General Ralph Baker (2 Star)-U.S. Army Commander of the Combined Joint Task Force Horn in Africa (April 2013)
-Major General Michael Carey (2 Star)-U.S. Air Force Commander of the 20th US Air Force in charge of 9,600 people and 450 Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (Oct 2013)
-Colonel James Christmas-U.S. Marines Commander 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit & Commander Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response Unit (July 2013)
-Major General Peter Fuller-U.S. Army Commander in Afghanistan (May 2011)
-Major General Charles M.M. Gurganus-U.S. Marine Corps Regional Commander of SW and I Marine Expeditionary Force in Afghanistan (Oct 2013)
-General Carter F. Ham-U.S. Army African Command (Oct 2013)
-Lieutenant General David H. Huntoon (3 Star), Jr.-U.S. Army 58th Superintendent of the US Military Academy at West Point, NY (2013)
-Command Sergeant Major Don B Jordan-U.S. Army 143rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command (suspended Oct 2013)
-General James Mattis-U.S. Marines Chief of CentCom (May 2013)
-Colonel Daren Margolin-U.S. Marine in charge of Quantico’s Security Battalion (Oct 2013)
-General Stanley McChrystal-U.S. Army Commander Afghanistan (June 2010)
-General David D. McKiernan-U.S. Army Commander Afghanistan (2009)
-General David Petraeus-Director of CIA from September 2011 to November 2012 & U.S. Army Commander International Security Assistance Force [ISAF] and Commander U.S. Forces Afghanistan [USFOR-A] (Nov 2012)
-Brigadier General Bryan Roberts-U.S. Army Commander 2nd Brigade (May 2013)
-Major General Gregg A. Sturdevant-U.S. Marine Corps Director of Strategic Planning and Policy for the U.S. Pacific Command & Commander of Aviation Wing at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan (Sept 2013)
-Colonel Eric Tilley-U.S. Army Commander of Garrison Japan (Nov 2013)
-Brigadier General Bryan Wampler-U.S. Army Commanding General of 143rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command of the 1st Theater Sustainment Command [TSC] (suspended Oct 2013)
Nearly 160 Majors through the rank of Colonel have been let go by Obama.
Commanding Naval Officers Terminated by Obama
-Rear Admiral Charles Gaouette-U.S. Navy Commander John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group Three (Oct 2012)-Tried to rescue Ambassador Chris Stevens but was arrested during the attempt.
-Vice Admiral Tim Giardina(3 Star, demoted to 2 Star)-U.S. Navy Deputy Commander of the US Strategic Command, Commander of the Submarine Group Trident, Submarine Group 9 and Submarine Group 10 (Oct 2013)
-Lieutenant Commander Kurt Boenisch-Executive Officer amphibious transport dock Ponce (Apr 2011)
-Rear Admiral Ron Horton-U.S. Navy Commander Logistics Group, Western Pacific (Mar 2011)
-Lieutenant Commander Martin Holguin-U.S. Navy Commander mine countermeasures Fearless (Oct 2011)
-Captain David Geisler-U.S. Navy Commander Task Force 53 in Bahrain (Oct 2011)
-Commander Laredo Bell-U.S. Navy Commander Naval Support Activity Saratoga Springs, NY (Aug 2011)
-Commander Nathan Borchers-U.S. Navy Commander destroyer Stout (Mar 2011)
-Commander Robert Brown-U.S. Navy Commander Beachmaster Unit 2 Fort Story, VA (Aug 2011)
-Commander Andrew Crowe-Executive Officer Navy Region Center Singapore (Apr 2011)
-Captain Robert Gamberg-Executive Officer carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower (Jun 2011)
-Captain Rex Guinn-U.S. Navy Commander Navy Legal Service office Japan (Feb 2011)
-Commander Kevin Harms- U.S. Navy Commander Strike Fighter Squadron 137 aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln (Mar 2011)
-Commander Etta Jones-U.S. Navy Commander amphibious transport dock Ponce (Apr 2011)
-Captain Owen Honors-U.S. Navy Commander aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (Jan 2011)
-Captain Donald Hornbeck-U.S. Navy Commander Destroyer Squadron 1 San Diego (Apr 2011)
-Commander Ralph Jones-Executive Officer amphibious transport dock Green Bay (Jul 2011)
-Commander Jonathan Jackson-U.S. Navy Commander Electronic Attack Squadron 134, deployed aboard carrier Carl Vinson (Dec 2011)
-Captain Eric Merrill-U.S. Navy Commander submarine Emory S. Land (Jul 2011)
-Captain William Mosk-U.S. Navy Commander Naval Station Rota, U.S. Navy Commander Naval Activities Spain (Apr 2011)
-Commander Timothy Murphy-U.S. Navy Commander Electronic Attack Squadron 129 at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, WA (Apr 2011)
-Commander Joseph Nosse-U.S. Navy Commander ballistic-missile submarine Kentucky (Oct 2011)
-Commander Mark Olson-U.S. Navy Commander destroyer The Sullivans FL (Sep 2011)
-Commander John Pethel-Executive Officer amphibious transport dock New York (Dec 2011)
-Commander Karl Pugh-U.S. Navy Commander Electronic Attack Squadron 141 Whidbey Island, WA (Jul 2011)
-Commander Jason Strength-U.S. Navy Commander of Navy Recruiting District Nashville, TN (Jul 2011)
-Captain Greg Thomas-U.S. Navy Commander Norfolk Naval Shipyard (May 2011)
-Commander Mike Varney-U.S. Navy Commander attack submarine Connecticut (Jun 2011)
-Commander Jay Wylie-U.S. Navy Commander destroyer Momsen (Apr 2011)
Forty one more were fired in 2012. One hundred and fifty seven were fired in 2013.
Source: The Common Sense Show
Should we trust Obama to be honest in his peace talks with Iran and Syria? His lightning shift from warmonger to peacemaker surprised everyone, including his closest regional allies — Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey — not to mention the entire U.S. congress, many of whom seem intent on sabotaging the Iran peace talks by imposing more war-provoking sanctions.
Let’s not forget that Obama was minutes away from blasting Syria into the Stone Age, but as he stared into the abyss of war he blinked at the last moment. Obama hid the consequent humiliation behind a hastily agreed upon chemical weapons deal proposed by Russia, which served to buy him time to think about the regional war he damn near started.
And now suddenly Obama is acting uncharacteristically rational. He’s agitating for peace among his anti-Syria coalition of close regional allies, namely Turkey and the Gulf Monarchy Sunni Islam dictatorships (Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, etc.). Obama is pressuring them to stop sending money, arms, and Sunni Islamic extremist fighters into Syria to topple Assad, so that peace can be pursued instead, a 180 degree shift in strategy. This has already seemed to have had an effect with Qatar and Turkey.
It’s crucial to remember that Obama could have pursued a peaceful path for well over a year, when Russia and Syria first proposed peace talks. Obama ignored the proposals and John Kerry publicly ridiculed them, so confident they were that the U.S.-backed rebels would topple Assad. This strategy pushed Syrian civilization into barbarism, and peace talks were again proposed last spring — but Obama’s rebels boycotted the talks, since Obama had a plan to help the rebels topple the regime via a Libyan-style U.S. military bombing campaign.
So Syrian blood was allowed to keep flowing. For at least two years Obama oversaw and coordinated — via the CIA — the Syrian “arms trafficking pipeline” — as The New York Times called it — which has helped drive the death count to over 100,000 and made millions more refugees.
Without the massive support from the U.S., its allies, and “private donors” (oil-rich “royalty” from the Gulf state monarchies), this “civil war” would have unquestionably ended long ago.
It was only after Obama decided not to bomb Syria — and shifted towards peace talks — did his prized Syrian rebels agree to go to the negotiating table (keep in mind that Obama’s rebels are mostly talking heads with no real power on the ground; the Islamic extremist rebels dominate the ground and continue to boycott negotiations).
Obama had long insisted that “Assad must go,” but Assad is still in power and stronger than ever, with large sections of the population — though especially the ethnic and religious minorities — choosing him over the Islamic extremist rebels who would come to power in his place — the same rebels who are fighting to transform Syria into a Taliban-era Afghanistan.
The rebels already have a mini-Afghanistan in portions of the “liberated” areas of Syria where Raqqa is considered to be the largest city ever administered by al-Qada-style Islamic extremists. Shockingly, there remain some stubborn holdouts among the political left who consider these extremist-controlled areas to be “liberated” proof of a “revolution” in Syria.
Now, the U.S.-Russia initiated “Geneva II” Syria peace accords appear to be serious negotiations, not only because Obama’s rebels were finally encouraged to participate, but also because Obama’s regional allies are furious, Saudi Arabia and especially Israel, who expressed its anger by using fighter jets to yet again bomb Syria, the fourth time this year.
Ultimately, Obama will have to prove via action that he is sincere in peace talks. It’s entirely possible that the peace talks are a mere tactic intended to engage in a more strategic war.
For example, if the Syrian government can be blamed for the possible failure of the Geneva II peace talks, a new war motive will be ready-made for Obama to sell to the American public, more convincing than the prior chemical weapons attack.
How will we know Obama is pursuing peace talks with good intentions? If he puts forth proposals that are universally accepted as reasonable, as opposed to provocative.
If he makes unreasonable demands on the Syrian government, we’ll know he intends to bait Assad into rejecting the proposal in an attempt to prime the U.S. and European public for war. Identifying such a provocative proposal will be easy: the purpose of such peace negotiations would be to copy the conditions on the battlefield and paste them to a peace treaty; the side winning the war wins the peace.
The Syrian government is in the dominant position on the battlefield, and thus has huge leverage in sincerely conducted peace talks. But if Obama demands that a precondition to any talks is the removal of President Assad, this will be an obvious provocation to ruin the talks. Obama has recently implied that he’s backing off of this proposal that’s popular among the rebels, but it’s still possible that he may make a similarly unrealistic proposal with the intention of provoking a rejection, with the intention to wage war.
It’s possible that Obama recently attempted this aggressive negotiating tactic against Iran during the ongoing nuclear talks. The initial peace deal that was offered — that Iran was willing to accept — was a bad deal for Iran, proving that Iran was overeager for peace and sanctions relief.
It is also possible that by offering such a lousy deal Obama meant to provoke Iran — as Peter Lee recently suggested in an excellent article — but the failure of the talks fell on the French, who at the last minute ruined the deal by making additional unreasonable demands which the Iranians did not accept. This suggests that events didn’t go as Obama intended, since he’d prefer that Iran be blamed for any failure rather than the French.
If Obama is acting honestly about completing peace talks with Iran and Syria, the entire Middle East will have to change as a consequence, since U.S. allies in the region went “all in” against Syria at Obama’s request, upsetting their domestic populations via massive war-immigration flows and fighting that spilled over the borders of Lebanon, Turkey, and Iraq.
Political and social tension rose throughout the Middle East, infecting several countries with heavy doses of religious sectarianism, the main weapon used against the Syrian Government. Even if peace is secured for the moment, the thousands of foreign fighters in Syria will return home as heroes to many, destabilizing their countries as happened after the Afghanistan Jihad that gave birth to al-Qada and the Taliban — also backed by the U.S. and the Gulf monarchies.
Shifting the entire Middle East back to a peaceful status quo won’t be easy; Obama used U.S. foreign power as a lever that pivoted the entire Middle East against Syria and Iran, and pivoting back isn’t so simple. Close allies have lost faith in the promises of the U.S. and will be less willing in the future to follow Obama into wild adventures that destabilize the Middle East with absolutely nothing to show for it, except blood, corpses, and general misery.
Obama’s peace talks could be easily sabotaged — even if he is acting with sincerity. Several recent events in the region were likely conducted with the intention of undermining the talks. The recent terrorist bombing near the Iranian embassy in Lebanon, the continued Israel airstrikes against Syria, and the possibility of more U.S. sanctions against Iran could undermine any potential peace, while strengthening the right wing of Iran, Israel, and the U.S, which would inevitably lead back to yet another pivot, shifting back to the path of war and a resumption of a U.S. bombing campaign against Syria.
Even if talks are successful, the Middle East will remain a turbulent region, as long as competing world powers — the U.S., EU, China, and Russia — are competing for raw materials, markets, and other profitable business activity. In fact, the shift in strategy is only a different means to accomplish the same end: to push Russian and Chinese influence out of the region all the while maintaining U.S. hegemony.
If Obama is serious about peace talks, he must prove it by pressuring his regional allies publicly and privately to do what’s necessary for peace, as well as condemning Israel in front of the world stage if it continues to act provocatively, while also publicly denouncing the Democrats and Republicans if they try to provoke war with fresh sanctions.
Only this kind of consistency is capable of ensuring a temporary peace with Iran and Syria, and anything less will prove that Obama is implicitly pursuing the path of war by other means.
The double suicide bombing targeting the Iranian embassy in Beirut – with at least 23 people killed and 170 wounded – was a de facto terror attack happening on 11/19. Numerology-wise, naturally 9/11 comes to mind; and so the case of the Washington-declared war on terror metastasizing – largely conducted by oozy forms of Saudi “intelligence”.
Yet don’t expect the “West” to condemn this as terror. Look at the headlines; it’s all normalized as “blasts” – as if children were playing with firecrackers.
Whether carried out by a hazy al-Qaeda-linked brigade or by Saudi spy chief Bandar bin Sultan’s (aka Bandar Bush’s) goons, the Beirut terror attack is essentially configured as a major, Saudi-enabled provocation. The larger Saudi agenda in Syria implies getting both Hezbollah and Iran to be pinned down inside Lebanon as well. If that happens, Israel also wins. Once again, here’s another graphic illustration of the Likudnik House of Saud in action.
Nuance also applies. Bandar Bush’s strategy, coordinated with jihadis, was to virtually beg for Hezbollah to fight inside Syria. When Hezbollah obliged, with only a few hundred fighters, the jihadis scurried away from the battlefield to implement plan B: blowing up innocent women and children in the streets of Lebanon.
While Hezbollah welcomes the fight, wherever it takes place, Tehran’s position is more cautious. It does not want to go all out against the Saudis – at least for now, with the crucial nuclear negotiation on the table in Geneva, and (still) the possibility of a Geneva II regarding Syria. Yet the House of Saud is not welcoming Geneva II anytime soon because it has absolutely nothing to propose except regime change.
On Syria, the main pillar of Bandar Bush’s strategy is to turn the previously “Free” Syrian Army into a “national army” of 30,000 or so fully weaponized hardcore fighters – mostly supplied by the “Army of Islam”, which is nothing but a cipher for the al-Qaedesque Jabhat al-Nusra. King Playstation of Jordan, also known as Abdullah, collaborates as the provider of training camps near the Syrian border. Whatever happens, one thing is certain; expect Bandar Bush’s goons to be carrying out more suicide bombings on both Lebanon and Syria.
The Zionist/Wahhabi/Salafi axis
The dodgy al-Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades in theory exist since 2005, placing the odd bomb here and there. One sheikh Sijareddin Zreikat tweeted responsibility for the Beirut terror attack. Curioser and curioser, the claim was “discovered” and translated into English by the Israeli disinformation website SITE. 
Yet another Israeli intelligence disinformation site, DEBKAfile, claimed the terror attack was an Iran/Hezbollah false flag, based on a “Saudi warning” reaching “Western intelligence agencies, including Israel”.  The rationale, according to “Saudi intelligence”, was “to convince Hezbollah fighters consigned against their will to the Syrian battlefield”.
This does not even qualify as pathetic. Hezbollah is basically defending the Lebanese-Syrian border, and has only a few hundred fighters inside Syria. Moreover, no string of suicide bombings will deter Hezbollah and Tehran from regaining control of what really matters in the Syrian strategic context; the Qalamoun area.
Qalamoun, ringed by mountains, is a 50-kilometer stretch bordering the Bekaa valley in Lebanon, between Damascus and al-Nabk, and right on the absolutely critical Damascus-Homs corridor of the M5 highway. The Syrian army is on the offensive in Qalamoun. Recapturing the whole area is just a matter of time. This means controlling the northern approach to Damascus. Hezbollah is helping in the offensive out of Bekaa valley. This does not mean they will camp out in Syria afterwards.
Now for the false flag accusation. As far as real false flags are concerned, one just has to re-examine three recent international bombings that supposed victimized Israel. In India the bomb had no projectiles; it barely injured an Israeli attache. In Azerbaijan the bomb was miraculously “discovered” before it went off. And in Thailand, the bomb exploded too soon, injuring only a nearby Iranian.
Crass Israeli disinformation is unmasked when it leaps into this conclusion:
If Tehran is capable of such atrocities merely as a diversionary tactic, then perhaps Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin ought to take a really hard look at their negotiating partner across the table before signing a major deal Wednesday, Nov. 20, which leaves Iran’s nuclear program in place.
So this neatly ties up with the current Israeli hysteria about the Geneva negotiations, which also includes the umpteenth report by a News Corporation outfit, London’s Sunday Times, that Saudi Arabia will help Israel to attack Iran. 
It also ties up with the proverbial US shills spinning, gloating rather, that, “strategically, this de-facto Israeli alliance with the Saudis is an extraordinary opportunity for Israel”. 
Even such shills have to admit that the House of Saud is “blocking formation of any government in Lebanon, for example, to obstruct Iran’s ally, Hezbollah”. “Blocking” of course is a euphemism to normalize suicide bombing.
And then comes the ultimate wishful thinking disguised as “analysis”; Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu “bidding to replace the United States as military protector of the status quo”. Translation; the Likudniks dreaming of becoming the new military Mob boss of petrodollar Wahhabis.
Bandar Bush’s strategy – weaponizing and providing cover to Salafis, jihadis and every patsy or mercenary in between – will go on unabated. After Bandar Bush convinced Washington to get rid of the Muslim Brotherhood-friendly Qataris, the Saudis are the supreme warfare go-to channel. The Bandar Bush machine has ties with virtually every jihadi outfit in the Levant.
It certainly helps that Bandar has the perfect cover; the fact that he knows and has cajoled every significant player in Washington. In the US, Bandar Bush remains a dashing hero, even eliciting fawning comparisons with Gatsby.  Right. And my name is actually Daisy.
Even with its own embassy attacked in Lebanon, Iran is maintaining an extremely calibrated approach. The number-one priority is the nuclear negotiations in Geneva with the partner that really matters, the US. This explains Iran blaming the Beirut terror attack on the proverbial “Zionists”, and not Saudi-enabled jihadis posing as “rebels” and part of the whole Bandar Bush nebula.
For the moment though, enough of Orwellian newspeak. What happened in Beirut was a terror attack, cheered by Israel, and fully enabled by Saudis; a graphic display by the Likudnik-House of Saud axis.
1. Al-Qaida-linked group claims responsibility for deadly Beirut attack, Ha’aretz, November 19, 2013.
2. Incredible! Beirut bombings killing 25 people were self-inflicted by Iran and Hizballah as a diversionary tactic, DEBKAfile, November 19, 2013.
3. Israel, Saudi Arabia Unite For Attack On Iran, RT, November 17, ’13.
4. The stakes of an Iranian deal, Washington Post, November 15, 2013.
5. Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi Arabia’s Gatsby, Master Spy, The Daily Beast, November 16, 2013.
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).
He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Asia Times