Control oil and you control nations,” said US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the 1970s. “Control food and you control the people.”
Global food control has nearly been achieved, by reducing seed diversity with GMO (genetically modified) seeds that are distributed by only a few transnational corporations. But this agenda has been implemented at grave cost to our health; and if the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) passes, control over not just our food but our health, our environment and our financial system will be in the hands of transnational corporations.
Profits Before Populations
Genetic engineering has made proprietary control possible over the seeds on which the world’s food supply depends. According to an Acres USA interview of plant pathologist Don Huber, Professor Emeritus at Purdue University, two modified traits account for practically all of the genetically modified crops grown in the world today. One involves insect resistance. The other, more disturbing modification involves insensitivity to glyphosate-based herbicides (plant-killing chemicals). Often known as Roundup after the best-selling Monsanto product of that name, glyphosate poisons everything in its path except plants genetically modified to resist it.
Glyphosate-based herbicides are now the most commonly used herbicides in the world. Glyphosate is an essential partner to the GMOs that are the principal business of the burgeoning biotech industry. Glyphosate is a “broad-spectrum” herbicide that destroys indiscriminately, not by killing unwanted plants directly but by tying up access to critical nutrients.
Because of the insidious way in which it works, it has been sold as a relatively benign replacement for the devastating earlier dioxin-based herbicides. But a barrage of experimental data has now shown glyphosate and the GMO foods incorporating it to pose serious dangers to health. Compounding the risk is the toxicity of “inert” ingredients used to make glyphosate more potent. Researchers have found, for example, that the surfactant POEA can kill human cells, particularly embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells. But these risks have been conveniently ignored.
The widespread use of GMO foods and glyphosate herbicides helps explain the anomaly that the US spends over twice as much per capita on healthcare as the average developed country, yet it is rated far down the scale of the world’s healthiest populations. The World Health Organization has ranked the US LAST out of 17 developed nations for overall health.
Sixty to seventy percent of the foods in US supermarkets are now genetically modified. By contrast, in at least 26 other countries—including Switzerland, Australia, Austria, China, India, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxembourg, Greece, Bulgaria, Poland, Italy, Mexico and Russia—GMOs are totally or partially banned; and significant restrictions on GMOs exist in about sixty other countries.
A ban on GMO and glyphosate use might go far toward improving the health of Americans. But the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a global trade agreement for which the Obama Administration has sought Fast Track status, would block that sort of cause-focused approach to the healthcare crisis.
Roundup’s Insidious Effects
Roundup-resistant crops escape being killed by glyphosate, but they do not avoid absorbing it into their tissues. Herbicide-tolerant crops have substantially higher levels of herbicide residues than other crops. In fact, many countries have had to increase their legally allowable levels—by up to 50 times—in order to accommodate the introduction of GM crops. In the European Union, residues in food are set to rise 100-150 times if a new proposal by Monsanto is approved. Meanwhile, herbicide-tolerant “super-weeds” have adapted to the chemical, requiring even more toxic doses and new toxic chemicals to kill the plant.
Human enzymes are affected by glyphosate just as plant enzymes are: the chemical blocks the uptake of manganese and other essential minerals. Without those minerals, we cannot properly metabolize our food. That helps explain the rampant epidemic of obesity in the United States. People eat and eat in an attempt to acquire the nutrients that are simply not available in their food.
Glyphosate’s inhibition of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes is an overlooked component of its toxicity to mammals. CYP enzymes play crucial roles in biology . . . . Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body. Consequences are most of the diseases and conditions associated with a Western diet, which include gastrointestinal disorders, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression, autism, infertility, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
More than 40 diseases have been linked to glyphosate use, and more keep appearing. In September 2013, the National University of Rio Cuarto, Argentina, published research finding that glyphosate enhances the growth of fungi that produce aflatoxin B1, one of the most carcinogenic of substances. A doctor from Chaco, Argentina, told Associated Press, “We’ve gone from a pretty healthy population to one with a high rate of cancer, birth defects and illnesses seldom seen before.” Fungi growths have increased significantly in US corn crops.
Glyphosate has also done serious damage to the environment. According to an October 2012 report by the Institute of Science in Society:
Agribusiness claims that glyphosate and glyphosate-tolerant crops will improve crop yields, increase farmers’ profits and benefit the environment by reducing pesticide use. Exactly the opposite is the case. . . . [T]he evidence indicates that glyphosate herbicides and glyphosate-tolerant crops have had wide-ranging detrimental effects, including glyphosate resistant super weeds, virulent plant (and new livestock) pathogens, reduced crop health and yield, harm to off-target species from insects to amphibians and livestock, as well as reduced soil fertility.
Politics Trumps Science
In light of these adverse findings, why have Washington and the European Commission continued to endorse glyphosate as safe? Critics point to lax regulations, heavy influence from corporate lobbyists, and a political agenda that has more to do with power and control than protecting the health of the people.
In the ground-breaking 2007 book Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation, William Engdahl states that global food control and depopulation became US strategic policy under Rockefeller protégé Henry Kissinger. Along with oil geopolitics, they were to be the new “solution” to the threats to US global power and continued US access to cheap raw materials from the developing world. In line with that agenda, the government has shown extreme partisanship in favor of the biotech agribusiness industry, opting for a system in which the industry “voluntarily” polices itself. Bio-engineered foods are treated as “natural food additives,” not needing any special testing.
Jeffrey M. Smith, Executive Director of the Institute for Responsible Technology, confirms that US Food and Drug Administration policy allows biotech companies to determine if their own foods are safe. Submission of data is completely voluntary. He concludes:
In the critical arena of food safety research, the biotech industry is without accountability, standards, or peer-review. They’ve got bad science down to a science.
Whether or not depopulation is an intentional part of the agenda,widespread use of GMO and glyphosate is having that result. The endocrine-disrupting properties of glyphosate have been linked to infertility, miscarriage, birth defects and arrested sexual development. In Russian experiments, animals fed GM soy were sterile by the third generation. Vast amounts of farmland soil are also being systematically ruined by the killing of beneficial microorganisms that allow plant roots to uptake soil nutrients.
In Gary Null’s eye-opening documentary Seeds of Death: Unveiling the Lies of GMOs, Dr. Bruce Lipton warns, “We are leading the world into the sixth mass extinction of life on this planet. . . . Human behavior is undermining the web of life.”
The TPP and International Corporate Control
As the devastating conclusions of these and other researchers awaken people globally to the dangers of Roundup and GMO foods, transnational corporations are working feverishly with the Obama administration to fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that would strip governments of the power to regulate transnational corporate activities. Negotiations have been kept secret from Congress but not from corporate advisors, 600 of whom have been consulted and know the details. According to Barbara Chicherio in Nation of Change:
The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) has the potential to become the biggest regional Free Trade Agreement in history. . . .
The chief agricultural negotiator for the US is the former Monsanto lobbyist, Islam Siddique. If ratified the TPP would impose punishing regulations that give multinational corporations unprecedented right to demand taxpayer compensation for policies that corporations deem a barrier to their profits.
. . . They are carefully crafting the TPP to insure that citizens of the involved countries have no control over food safety, what they will be eating, where it is grown, the conditions under which food is grown and the use of herbicides and pesticides.
Food safety is only one of many rights and protections liable to fall to this super-weapon of international corporate control. In an April 2013 interview on The Real News Network, Kevin Zeese called the TPP “NAFTA on steroids” and “a global corporate coup.” He warned:
No matter what issue you care about—whether its wages, jobs, protecting the environment . . . this issue is going to adversely affect it . . . .
If a country takes a step to try to regulate the financial industry or set up a public bank to represent the public interest, it can be sued . . . .
Return to Nature: Not Too Late
There is a safer, saner, more earth-friendly way to feed nations. While Monsanto and US regulators are forcing GM crops on American families, Russian families are showing what can be done with permaculture methods on simple garden plots. In 2011, 40% of Russia’s food was grown on dachas (cottage gardens or allotments). Dacha gardens produced over 80% of the country’s fruit and berries, over 66% of the vegetables, almost 80% of the potatoes and nearly 50% of the nation’s milk, much of it consumed raw. According to Vladimir Megre, author of the best-selling Ringing Cedars Series:
Essentially, what Russian gardeners do is demonstrate that gardeners can feed the world – and you do not need any GMOs, industrial farms, or any other technological gimmicks to guarantee everybody’s got enough food to eat. Bear in mind that Russia only has 110 days of growing season per year – so in the US, for example, gardeners’ output could be substantially greater. Today, however, the area taken up by lawns in the US is two times greater than that of Russia’s gardens – and it produces nothing but a multi-billion-dollar lawn care industry.
In the US, only about 0.6 percent of the total agricultural area is devoted to organic farming. This area needs to be vastly expanded if we are to avoid “the sixth mass extinction.” But first, we need to urge our representatives to stop Fast Track, vote no on the TPP, and pursue a global phase-out of glyphosate-based herbicides and GMO foods. Our health, our finances and our environment are at stake.
Ellen Brown is an attorney, president of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books, including the best-selling Web of Debt. In The Public Bank Solution, her latest book, she explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her blog articles are at EllenBrown.com.
Source: Ellen Brown | CounterPunch
I could barely make out Barack Obama’s Syria speech to the nation on my old car radio as I negotiated the narrow curves of Route 79 on the western banks of the Mississippi River in central Missouri last Tuesday night. What I could hear sounded very much like more of Obama’s by now standard if stunning arch-mendacity.
“To Take This Debate to Congress”
Looking at the speech transcript and video online recently, my suspicions were richly confirmed. Speaking from the end of the same long red carpet where George W. Bush delivered his demented announcement of the invasion of Iraq, Obama claimed that he has turned to Congress for authorization to use force against Syria because “I’m…the President of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy” and “believe[s]…it [is] right, in the absence of a direct or imminent threat to our security, to take this debate to Congress.”
That is certainly a lie. He did no such thing in the case of Libya, subjected to a five-week U.S. bombing campaign (though it posed no “direct or imminent threat to [Americans’] security”) because he didn’t have to, politically. This time it’s different, as the liberalMiddle East historian Juan Cole has explained: “Obama did not need Congress in the case of Libya. He had the Arab League, the UN Security Council, and NATO…But [he has] became more and more isolated [on Syria]. The Arab League declined to call for intervention… Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and other Arab countries forthrightly denounced the idea of foreign military intervention in Syria, a very different stance than many of them took in 2011 with regard to Libya…Then NATO declined to get involved, with Poland, Belgium, and others expressing reluctance…Then the British Parliament followed suit.” Failure to garner any meaningful fig leaf of formal international support is why Obama ran to Congress this time.
“I Possess the Authority”
Obama claimed he has gone to Congress “even though I possess the authority to order military strikes.” The former “liberal” constitutional law professor with a degree from Harvard Law certainly knows that the U.S. Constitution grants war-making authority in Congress alone. He should know further that it is thoroughly criminal under international law for him to attack any sovereign nation in the absence of any direct or imminent threat to the U.S.
Claims of Humanitarian Concern
Obama’s claim to be moved to act by civilian deaths in Syria, citing the horrors of “children writhing in pain, and going still on a cold hospital floor.” This claim is contradicted by the grim determination with which he has regularly murdered innocent civilians (including large numbers of women and children) in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, and elsewhere – “collateral damage” in the dirty global war on/of terror he inherited from Cheney-Bush and then expanded. One horrific example – neither the first nor the last among many – occurred in the May of 2009. That’s when U.S. air-strikes killed 140 civilians in Bola Boluk, a village in western Afghanistan’s Farah Province. Ninety-three of the dead villagers torn apart by U.S. explosives were children. Just 22 were males 18 years or older. Villagers brought tractor trailers full of the pieces of human bodies to the provincial governor’s office to prove that the casualties had occurred. “Everyone at the governor’s office was crying, watching that shocking scene,” one observer reported.”
The initial response of the Obama administration and Pentagon to this appalling incident (one of many mass civilian-butchering U.S. aerial killings in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other parts of the Muslim world under Obama) was to absurdly blame the civilian deaths on “Taliban grenades.” Obama’s Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed “regret” about the loss of innocent life, but the administration refused to issue an apology or acknowledge U.S. responsibility for the blasting apart of civilian bodies in Farah Province.
The matter was quickly dropped and forgotten, sent down George Orwell’s memory hole, with deep media complicity, as the Pentagon wrote checks to the Afghan government to give families a couple thousand dollars per corpse. The U.S. subsequently conducted a dubious “investigation” that reduced the civilian body count drastically and blamed the Taliban for putting civilians in the way of U.S. bombs.
There have been many crimes like Bola Boluk under Obama. People who command glass houses of a sociopathic, mass-murderous empire should not expect to be taken seriously when throw “humanitarian” stones at other butchers.
If Obama is so dismayed by the spectacle of a government “killing its own people,” why is he not calling for missile strikes against the military dictatorship in Egypt, which recently slaughtered hundreds if not thousands of civilians to stop popular protests against the regime? Is it okay to kill your own civilians as long as you are a U.S.-allied regime and/or do the killing with “conventional” weapons?
But why does Obama think we should believe that he can advance humanitarian goals by lobbying cruise missiles at anyone? Two days after Obama’s speech, the New York Times published an Opinion-Editorial from Russian president Vladimir Putin. “The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders,” Putin reasonably observed. “A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.”
Selective History and Terrible Weapons
In his discussion of the past horrors of chemical weapons (by European powers during World War I and by the Nazi holocaust) last Tuesday night, Obama deleted the United States’ vicious deployment of dioxin during the Vietnam War. That example of chemical warfare caused an explosion of birth defects among other terrible results in Southeast Asia. The president also failed to mention that Washington helped Saddam Hussein use nerve gas against Iranian soldiers and the U.S. Marines used white phosphorous in their massive assaults on the civilian population of Fallujah, Iraq in November of 2004.
Will Obama threaten Tel Aviv with cruise missiles for using white phosphorous against Palestinian civilians in Gaza? Of course not: the Palestinians are officially unworthy victims, like the East Timorese and countless others who have been killed and tortured by governments that are allied with the inherently good United States and therefore officially incapable (like the U.S.) of crimes against humanity.
Obama painted out Syria as a rogue state because it has not signed a treaty against chemical weapons like “189 governments that represent 98 percent of humanity.” He did not mention that Syria’s neighbors Syria and Egypt (both U.S. allies) have also not signed the treaty.
Obama had nothing to say, of course, about the even greater dreadfulness of nuclear and radioactive ordnance. The U.S. stands alone in having incinerated and poisoned civilians with atomic weapons – quite unnecessarily in August of 1945. And thanks to America’s deployment of depleted uranium in Iraq, the toxic legacy of the U.S. attacks on Fallujah was worse was that of the atom-bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. An epidemic of cancer, leukemia, and birth defects quickly followed in Fallujah.[5A]
“We Know the Assad Regime was Responsible”
“We know,” Obama said, “the Assad regime was responsible” for the Syrian chemical weapons attack of August 21, 2013. Not so. The proof offered by the president, a former lawyer, was hardly impressive. It contained nothing remotely like a smoking gun. Obama made no attempt to disprove other theories of what might have happened, including some German journalists’ finding that the attack was conducted by a rogue Syrian officer acting without Assad’s approval. Nor did he address what left commentator Glen Ford rightly calls “credible reports (everybody’s reports are more credible than the Americans) that rebels under U.S. allied control were told to prepare to go on the offensive following an American retaliation to chemical attack that would be blamed on Assad’s forces.”
“No one doubts that poison gas was used in Syria,” Putin wrote in his Times editorial: “But there is every reason to believe it was used not by the Syrian Army, but by opposition forces, to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons, who would be siding with [Islamic] fundamentalists.” That is a reasonable judgment.
Nobody should doubt the monstrosity of the Assad regime, but Obama’s proof of Assad’s culpability for the attack in questions amounts pretty much to this: “because I say so.”
“These Things Happened:” The Memory Hole
“When dictators commit atrocities, they depend upon the world to look the other way until those horrifying pictures fade from memory,” Obama said. “But these things happened. The facts cannot be denied.”
An interesting thing to hear from an American president! “From the end of World War Two through the present, the U.S. Empire has caused “the extinction and suffering of countless human beings. The United States,” William Blum Pilger noted eight years ago, “attempted to overthrow fifty governments, many of them democracies, and to crush thirty popular movements fighting tyrannical regimes. In the process, twenty-five countries were bombed, causing the loss of several million lives and the despair of millions more.”
The leading American imperial crimes include a massive U.S. assault on the peasant nation of Vietnam – an epic attack that killed 3 million Indochinese – and the illegal invasion of oil-rich Mesopotamia, whose terrible human consequences (including at least 2 million Iraqis dying prematurely) remain essentially unmentionable in “mainstream” (dominant) U.S. media. Chemical weapons were deployed in both of these grand imperial transgressions.
Over these decades, the U.S. has been what Noam Chomsky calls “ a rogue state, the leading rogue state, radically violating international law, refusing to accept international convention” and even maintaining “self-authorization to commit genocide.”
Is it any wonder that, as Putin noted in the Times, “Millions around the world …see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan ‘you’re either with us or against us’” (emphasis added).
“The Anchor of Global Security”
There should be little surprise that knowledgeable observers the world over cringe and/or roll their eyes when U.S. presidents say things like this, from Obama’s Tuesday night address:”My fellow Americans, for nearly seven decades, the United States has been the anchor of global security…The burdens of leadership are often heavy, but the world is a better place because we have borne them” (emphasis added).
That is a blatant lie, as Obama surely knows. Tell it to the survivors of the millions who have been snuffed out by rogue state America, consistently identified by the global populace for many years as the leading threat to peace and security in the world. Tell it to the people of Chile. Two days ago they commemorated the 40th anniversary of their 9/11 – the September 11, 1973 coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of socialist president Salvador Allende. The coup was assisted and supported by Washington, determined to install a vicious military dictatorship that executed thousands of leftists and others and became a leading center of international terror. The U.S. would not permit the continued existence of democratic socialist government in “our hemisphere.”
What would Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., say about Obama’s claim that the U.S. has been “the anchor of global security” since World War II? In 1967, well within the timeframe of Obama’s sweeping historical claim, King identified the U.S. as “the leading purveyor of violence in the world today.” The Vietnamese, King said, “must see Americans as strange liberators” as they “languish under our bombs….as we he herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps. They know they must move or be destroyed by bombs. They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops [with chemical weapons]. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the hospitals, with at least twenty casualties from American firepower for one ‘Vietcong’-inflicted injury. So far we may have killed a million of them – mostly children…” 
Looking at the historical literature on the Cuban Missile Crisis and subsequent moment of supreme nuclear danger, a living King (who would be 84 today had he not been assassinated or perhaps executed inside “the anchor of global security” exactly one year to the day after publicly declaring his opposition to the Vietnam War at the Riverside Church in New York City) today might also like to mention (among other things) the remarkable degree to which the Ahabs of Washington have been willing to risk global thermonuclear war (very barely averted in October 1962) in their quest for unchallenged global supremacy.
“It Never Happened”
But in the U.S, and indeed across much of the West, the record of ongoing, mass-murderous American criminality is airbrushed out of the official history and mass culture. It is tossed down Orwell’s memory hole, consistent with Big Brother’s dictum in Nineteen Eighty Four: “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.” As Harold Pinter noted in his biting acceptance of the 2005 Nobel Prize in Literature, the reigning Western cultural authorities behave as if U.S. crimes simply did not occur. When it comes to America’s transgression against civilized norms and international law, “nothing ever happened. Even while it was happening,” Pinter added, “it never happened. It didn’t matter. It was of no interest.” Dominant U.S.-led Western cultural codes mandate that the only victims meriting acknowledgement and compassion are those assaulted by officially designated enemies. The larger number victimized by the U.S. and its clients and allies (e.g., the Palestinians suffering under Israeli occupation and apartheid) do not qualify for sympathy or even existence. They don’t exist. The crimes against them didn’t take place.
Detour and Lost Cool
Eleven minutes into his war speech, Obama had to strangely shift gears and acknowledge the need to delay his hoped-for war vote in light of Russia and Syria’s last-minute proposal to demolish Syria’s chemical weapons under international supervision and control. He tried to save militaristic face by attributing the Russian and Syrian move to his threatened use of force. He seemed to expect his listeners to preposterously believe that a peaceful, diplomatic, and international solution is his idea. Obama wants us to think that the United Nations route was his preferred path all along.
That’s nonsense. Obama is an aggressive commander of a rogue military state that prefers force and unilateral action in the names of unimpeded hegemony and “American exceptionalism.” He and many of his fellow fake-humanitarian cruise missile liberal imperialists have been itching for a bigger war in the Middle East, one that will let him attack the great regional enemy Iran and wrap the remainder of his lame-duck presidency in the splendor of war-fed patriotism.
Like the British Parliament’s vote against attacking Syria, Putin and Assad’s peace gambit is a great humiliation for Obama. It knocked more stuffing out of his failing fake-humanitarian effort to rally a reluctant, war-weary citizenry plagued by massive domestic problems (including remarkably durable “homeland” poverty and unemployment alongside stunning, New Gilded Age levels of inequality that have only increased under Obama’s supposedly progressive presidency) behind another expensive imperial campaign.
Expect the defeated president to do his best to get the nation back on a unilateral war footing. For now, he has been defeated not simply by other politicians but also by public opinion – by the citizenry in whose name he claims to speak. Imagine that. Along the way, Barack “The Empire’s New Clothes” Obama may well have lost his public cool, the swagger in his step, once and for all. Syria may prove his undoing –the moment when the outwardly nice and smooth-talking “leader” is most clearly revealed for what he really is: a cold-blooded sociopath and pathological liar. That’s long overdue, but its better late than never.
Paul Street (email@example.com) is the author of many books, including The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Power (2010), Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics (2008), Crashing the Tea Party (2011), and They Rule: The 1% v. Democracy (Paradigm Publishers, forthcoming in January 2014).
2. Carlotta Gall and Taimoor Shah, “Civilian Deaths Imperil Support for Afghan War,” New York Times, May 6, 2009.
3. Gall and Shah, “Civilian Deaths;”
4. Paul Street, “Niebuhr Lives, Civilians Die in the Age of Obama,” ZNet (June 15, 2009), read athttp://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/21701. By contrast around the same time in 2009, there was a brief media frenzy over a very different occurrence, enough to elicit a full apology and to fire a White House official. The problem was that the White House had scared New Yorkers with an ill-advised Air Force One photo-soot flyover of Manhattan that reminded people below of 9/11. SeeChristina Boyle, “President Obama Calls Air Force One Flyover ‘Mistake’ After Low-Flying Plane Terrifies New York,” New York Daily News, April 28, 2009; Michel Muskai, “Presidential Plane’s Photo-Op Over New York Coast as Much as $357,000,” Los Angeles Times, May 9, 2009; Peter Nicholas, “Louis Caldera Resigns Over Air Force One Flyover Fiasco,” Los Angeles Time, May 9, 2009.
5. Vladimir Putin, A Plea for Caution From Russia,” New York Times, September 12, 2013.
5A. Patrick Cockburn, “Toxic Legacy of U.S. Assault on Fallujah ‘Worse Than Hiroshima,” The Independent, July 24, 2010,http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/toxic-legacy-of-us-assault-on-fallujah-worse-than-hiroshima-2034065.html; “Fallujah More Radioactive Than Hiroshima,” RT, uploaded on July 29, 2010, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWIy9-cfMIo. A useful history of U.S. use and encouragement of chemical and biological weapons at home and abroad can be found in William Blum,Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower (Monroe. ME: Common Courage, 2005), 136-160.
6. Glen Ford, “Obama’s Humiliating Defeat,” Black Agenda Report (September 11, 2013),http://www.blackagendareport.com/content/obama%E2%80%99s-humiliating-defeat
7. Blum, Rogue State, 1-2. Honduras and Libya must (at the very least) be added to the list of countries where the U.S. has acted to overthrow governments since Blum wrote. Libya and Somalia must (at the least) added to the list of countries bombed by the U.S.
8 Noam Chomsky, “Instead of Illegal Threat to Syria, U.S. Should Back Chemical Weapons Ban in All Nations,” Democracy Now! (September 11, 2013), http://www.democracynow.org/2013/9/11/chomsky_instead_of_illegal_threat_to
9. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Beyond Vietnam – a Time to Break the Silence” (Riverside Church, New York City, April 4, 1967), audio recording at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k29PAUSyrlA
10. Noam Chomsky, Address to Left Forum, New York City, 2013, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-yvHMtgac0Q
11.Quoted in John Pilger, Freedom Next Time: Resisting the Empire (New York: Nation Books, 2007), 4.
Via Z Net
Last week marked the 68th anniversary of the WWII destruction of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima (Aug. 6) and Nagasaki (Aug. 9) — the first and only deployment of nuclear weapons in human history. Within moments of the nuclear explosions that destroyed these cities, at least 200,000 people lost their lives. Tens of thousands subsequently died from radiation poisoning within the next two weeks. The effects linger to this day.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has implied that this would the be fate of Israel if Iran was allowed to obtain nuclear weapon-making capabilities, including the ability to enrich high-grade uranium. To prevent this from happening, the economy of Iran must be crippled by sanctions and the fourth largest oil reserves in the world must be barred from global markets, as the oil fields in which they are situated deteriorate. Israel — the only state in the region that actually possesses nuclear weapons and has blocked all efforts to create a Middle East Nuclear Weapon Free Zone – should thus be armed with cutting-edge American weaponry. Finally, the US must not only stand behind its sole reliable Middle East ally, which could strike Iran at will, it should ideally also lead — not merely condone — a military assault against Iranian nuclear facilities.
Netanyahu invariably frames the threat posed by Iranian nuclear capability (a term that blurs distinctions between civilian and potential military applications of nuclear technology) as “Auschwitz” rather than “Hiroshima and Nagasaki”, even though the latter might be a more apt analogy. The potential for another Auschwitz is predicated on the image of an Israel that is unable — or unwilling to — defend itself, resulting in six million Jews going “like sheep to the slaughter.” But if Israel and/or the US were to attack Iran instead of the other way around, “Hiroshima and Nagasaki” would be the analogy to apply to Iran.
A country dropping bombs on any country that has not attacked first is an act of war, as the US was quick to point out when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor — and this includes so-called “surgical strikes”. In a July 19 letter about US options in Syria, Gen. Martin Dempsey, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reminded the Senate Armed Services Committee that “…the decision to use force is not one that any of us takes lightly. It is no less than an act of war” [emphasis added].
If the use of atomic weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during wartime remains morally and militarily questionable, one might think that there would be even less justification for a military strike on Iran, with whom neither Israel nor the US is at war. Of course, there are those who disagree: the US is engaged in a war on terror, Iran has been designated by the US as the chief state sponsor of terrorism since 1984 and so on. Therefore, the US is, or should be, at war with Iran.
“All options are on the table” is the operative mantra with regard to the US halting Iran’s acquisition of a nuclear weapon. But if bombs start dropping on Iran, what kind will they be? In fact, the 30,000 lb. Massive Ordnance Penetrators (MOPs) that could be employed against Iranian nuclear facilities are nuclear weapons, since they derive their capability of penetrating 200 feet of concrete in the earth from depleted uranium. Furthermore, some Israelis have darkly hinted that, were Israel to confront Iran alone, it would be more likely to reach into its unacknowledged nuclear armoury if that meant the difference between victory and defeat.
Given all this, comparing the damage that would be done by bombing Iran with the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is not farfetched. It also reveals some troubling parallels. In the years prior to the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in response to what the US regarded as Japanese expansionism, imposed economic sanctions on Japan in 1937. Just before the US entered the war, an embargo was placed on US exports of oil to Japan, upon which Japan was utterly dependent.
In 1945, it was already clear that Japan was preparing to surrender and that the outstanding issue at hand was the status of its emperor. There was neither a military nor political need to use atomic weapons to bring an end to the war. Numerous justifications for dropping atomic bombs on Japan were invoked, but nearly all of them were challenged or discredited within a few years after the war ended. Three are particularly noteworthy today, as we continue to face the prospect of war with Iran.
Saving lives: US Secretary of War Henry Stimson justified the decision to use atomic weapons as “the least abhorrent choice” since it would not only would save the lives of up to a million American soldiers who might perish in a ground assault on Japan, it would also spare the lives of hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians who were being killed in fire bombings. President Harry Truman also claimed that “thousands of lives would be saved” and “a quarter of a million of the flower of our young manhood was worth a couple of Japanese cities.” But as Andrew Dilks points out, “None of these statements were based on any evidence.”
Speaking in Warsaw, Poland on June 12 — two days before the Iranian election that he declared would “change nothing” with regard to Iran’s alleged quest to develop nuclear weaponry — Netanyahu used the opening of an Auschwitz memorial to make his case. “This is a regime that is building nuclear weapons with the expressed purpose to annihilate Israel’s six million Jews,” he said. “We will not allow this to happen. We will never allow another Holocaust.” About the Iranians who would perish after an Israeli attack, Netanyahu said nothing.
Justifying expenditures: The total estimated cost of the Manhattan Project, which developed the bombs dropped on Japan, was nearly $2 billion in 1945, the equivalent of slightly more than $30 billion today. Secretary of State James Byrnes pointed out to President Harry Truman, who was up for re-election in 1948, that he could expect to be berated by Republicans for spending such a large amount on weapons that were never used, according to MIT’s John Dower.
A recent report by the Congressional Research Service shows that Israel is the single largest recipient of US aid, receiving a cumulative $118 billion, most of it military aid. The Bush administration and the Israeli government had agreed to a 10-year, $30 billion military aid package in 2007, which assured Israel of funding through 2018. During his March 2013 visit to Israel, President Barack Obama, who had been criticized by the US pro-Israel lobby for being less concerned than previous American presidents about Israel’s well being and survival, pledged that the United States would continue to provide Israel with multi-year commitments of military aid subject to the approval of Congress. Not to be outdone, the otherwise tightfisted Congress not only approved the added assistance Obama had promised, it also increased it. An Iran that is not depicted as dangerous would jeopardize the generous military assistance Israel receives. What better way to demonstrate how badly needed those US taxpayer dollars are than to show them in action?
Technological research and development: One of the most puzzling questions about the decision to use nuclear weaponry against Japan is why, three days after the utter devastation wreaked on Hiroshima, a second atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. It was unnecessary from a militarily perspective. Perhaps the answer exists in the fact that the Manhattan Project had produced different types of atomic bombs: the destructive power of the “Little Boy”, which fell on Hiroshima, came from uranium; the power of “Fat Man”, which exploded over Nagasaki, came from plutonium. What better way to “scientifically” compare their effectiveness at annihilation than by using both?
The award winning Israeli documentary, The Lab, which opens in the US this month, reveals that Israel has used Lebanon and Gaza as a testing ground for advances in weaponry. Jonathan Cook writes, “Attacks such as Operation Cast Lead of winter 2008-09 or last year’s Operation Pillar of Defence, the film argues, serve as little more than laboratory-style experiments to evaluate and refine the effectiveness of new military approaches, both strategies and weaponry.” Israeli military leaders have strongly hinted that in conducting air strikes against Syria, the Israeli Air Force is rehearsing for an attack on Iran, including the use of bunker-buster bombs.
The Pentagon, which reportedly has invested $500 million in developing and revamping MOP “bunker busters”, recently spent millions building a replica of Iran’s Fordow nuclear research facility in order to demonstrate to the Israelis that Iranian nuclear facilities can be destroyed when the time is right.
Gen. Dempsey arrived in Israel on Monday to meet with Israel’s Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and Israel’s political leaders. Members of Congress from both political parties are also visiting — Democrats last week, Republicans this week — on an AIPAC-sponsored“fact-finding” mission. No doubt they will hear yet again from Israeli leaders that the world cannot allow another Auschwitz.
The world cannot allow another Hiroshima and Nagasaki either.
Source: Marsha Cohen
The fact that the initiation of the Zionist project had nothing to do with the Holocaust, as it developed more than a half century earlier, and the fact of the mostly indifference to the slaughter of Jews on the part of the founders of Israel, together with its collaboration with the Nazi Party, undermines Israel’s projected, and exploited, image as innocent victim.
Both Nazism and Zionism arose in tandem from small insignificant social movements in the early part of the 20th century, arguing, with equal force, that Jews were an alien and indigestible mass living in the midst of an otherwise pure Aryan population. Both movements contributed to the more general acceptance of this argument in Europe, and particularly in Germany, as mid-century approached, and both have to be responsible for the consequences.
In 1896, journalist Theodore Herzl’s book, Der Judenstaat (The Jews’ State), Herzl expressed his understanding of inevitability, permanence, and omnipresence of anti-Semitism and argued that the only solution was a separate state for Jews. Herzl stated, in his book:
The Jewish question exists wherever Jews live in perceptable numbers. Where it does not exist, it is carried by Jews in the course of their migrations. We naturally move to those places where we are not persecuted, and there our presence produces persecution. …1
In 1912, Chaim Weizman, Israel’s first president, and the Zionist advocate who had the most to do with lobbying the British for the Balfour Declaration of 1917, echoed this view, speaking to a Berlin audience:
… each country can absorb only a limited number of Jews, if she doesn’t want disorder in her stomach. Germany already has too many Jews.2
Reflecting in 1949 in his autobiography, Trial and Error, Weizmann wrote:
Whenever the quantity of Jews in any country reaches the saturation point, that country reacts against them …
Weizmann, the chemist, invoking a metaphor from the sciences, added:
… the determining factor in this matter is not the is solubility of Jews, but the solvent power of the country. …
This cannot be looked upon as anti-Semitism in the ordinary or vulger sense of that word;
it is a universal social and economic concomitant of Jewish immigration, and we cannot shake it off …3
Ben Frommer, an American Revisionist, stated in 1935:
No matter what country he inhabits … [it] is not of the [his] tribal origins. … Consequently, the Jew’s attempt at complete identity with his country sounds spurious; his patriotism despite his vociferousness [sounds] hollow even to himself; and therefore his demand for complete equality with those who are of the essence of the nation naturally creates friction. This explains the intolerance of the Germans, Austrians, Poles and the increasing tide of antagonism in most European countries … It is presumptuous on the part of a Jew to demand that he be treated as lovingly as say a Teuton in a Teutonic country or a Pole in a Polish country. He must jealously guard his life and liberty, but he must candidly recognize that he does not ‘belong‘. The liberal fiction of perfect equality is doomed because is was unnatural. [Italics mine]4
Indeed, in 1925, Jacob Klatzkin, the co-editor of the massive Encyclopedia Judaica, wrote:
If our people is deserving and willing to live its own national life, then it is an alien body that insists on its own distinctive identity, reducing the domain of their life. It is right therefore, that they should fight against us for their national integrity … Instead of establishing societies for defense against the anti-Semites, who want to reduce our rights, we should establish societies for defense against our friends who desire to defend our rights.5
The understanding of Herzl, as well as the Zionists, about the inevitability of anti-Semitism was possibly self-fulfilling, for rather than opposing anti-Semitism in the first half of the 20th century, the Zionists found common cause with Hitler, Eichmann, and the Nazis and used anti-Semitism and Nazism as a means of achieving their end which was the establishment of a Jewish state. The two reactionary movements shared the view that German Jews were living in that country as a ‘foreign race’ and that the racial divide was essential to maintain. The Zionists’ use of Nazism involved, among other things, the blocking of avenues of escape to other countries of Europe’s Jews and diverting them to Palestine, even as the death trains began to roll in Europe. The rise of Nazism and Hitler to power was never, or almost never, opposed by the Zionists prior to the establishment of Israel.
Thus, in an article by Siegfried Moses, which appeared in the Rundschau, the official newspaper of the German Zionist Federation, and later, its head, stated:
… it is true that the defense against anti-Semitism is not our main task, it does not concern us to the same extent and is not of the same importance for us as is the work for Palestine …6
Rabbi Stephen S Wise
In 1934, Stephen Wise, head of the American Jewish Congress said:
… I cannot be indifferent to the Galuth [the Jewish diaspora living outside of Palestine] … if I had to choose between Eretz Israel and its upbuilding and the defense of the Galuth, I would say that then the Galuth must perish.7
On October 2, 1937, two SS officers, Herbert Hagen and Adolf Eichmann, disembarked in Haifa and were met by the Gestapo’s agent in Palestine, Fritz Reichert, and later in the day, Fevel Polkes, a Haganah agent, who showed the Nazi officials Haifa from Mt Carmel and then visited a kibbutz. Some years later, when Eichmann was hiding in Argentina, he taped a story of his excursion to Palestine, stating:
I did see enough to be very impressed with the way the Jewish colonists were building up their land. … In the years that followed I often said to Jews with whom I had dealings that had I been a Jew, I would have been a fanatical Zionist.8
Eichmann had read Herzl’s book, Der Judenstaat, and also studied Hebrew. In their trip report, the two SS officers paraphrased Polkes’s message to them:
The Zionist state must be established by all means and as soon as possible. … When the Jewish state is established according to the current proposals laid down in the Peel paper, and in line with England’s partial promises, then the borders may be pushed further outwards according to one wished.9
… in Jewish nationalist circles people were very pleased with the radical German policy, since the strength of the Jewish population in Palestine would be so far increased thereby that in the foreseeable future the Jews could reckon upon numerical superiority over the Arabs in Palestine.10
During his February trip to Berlin, Polkes proposed that the Haganah act as spies for the Nazi government and, as a sign of good faith, passed on intelligence information which was detrimental to their mutual enemies, the Communists. History might have been very different had the Zionist component of Jewry opposed Nazism; there might never have been a Holocaust. And there might never have been a state of Israel, as some Zionists well understood.
… of all of the active Jewish opponents of the boycott idea [of Nazi Germany], the most important was the world Zionists Organization (WZO). It not only bought German wares; it sold them, and even sought out new customers for Hitler and his industrialist backers.
The WZO saw Hitler’s victory in much the same way as its German affiliate, the ZVfD [the German Zionist Organization]: not primarily as a defeat for all Jewry, but as positive proof of the bankruptcy of assimilation and liberalism.11
Here Brenner is referring to the so-called Ha’avara agreement, or ‘transfer agreement’.
In 1933, Sam Cohen, owner of a citrus export company in Tel Aviv, approached the German government with the proposal that emigrants from Germany could avoid the flight tax by instead purchasing German products, which would then be shipped to Palestine, along with their purchasers, where the new arrivals in Palestine could then redeem their investments after the sale of the products by import merchants.
Heinrich Wolff, the German Consul in Jerusalem, quickly realized the utility of such an arrangement in tamping the international boycott effort of German import goods. He wrote to Berlin:
Whereas in April and May the Yishuv [the European Jewish community in Palestine] was waiting boycott instructions from the United States, it now seems that the situation has been transformed. It is Palestine which now gives the instructions… It is important to break the boycott first and foremost in Palestine, and the effect will inevitably be felt on the main front, in the United States.12
Cohen had promised Heinrich Wolff that he would work behind the scenes at the forthcoming Jewish conference in London to weaken or defeat any boycott resolution.
Dr Fritz Reichert, the Gestapo’s agent in Palestine, later wrote to his headquarters:
The London Boycott Conference was torpedoed from Tel Aviv because the head of the Transfer in Palestine, in close contact with the consulate in Jerusalem, sent cables to London. Our main function here is to prevent, from Palestine, the unification of world Jewry on a basis hostile to Germany … It is advisable to damage the political and economic strength of Jewry by sowing dissention in its ranks.12
Negotiations with the Nazi government were taken over by the World Zionist Organization and Cohen was replaced by Chaim Arlosoroff, the Political Secretary of the Jewish Agency. Arlosoroff traveled to Berlin in May of 1933. He and the Nazis reached a preliminary understanding to continue Cohen’s arrangement. Arlosoroff returned to Tel Aviv where he was assassinated, most probably by some members of the Revisionist wing of Zionism headed by Jabotinsky who opposed any accommodation with the Nazis.
Negotiations continued, however, and an agreement was signed in 1933 between the Nazis and the World Zionist Organization which persisted until 1939 and the German invasion of Poland. The Ha’arava grew to become a substantial banking and trading house with 137 specialists in its Jerusalem office at the height of its activities. The sale of German products expanded to include destinations outside of Palestine, but the arrangement remained essentially the same as the one originally negotiated by Sam Cohen – that German Jews wishing to emigrate, rather giving up most or all of their wealth to the German government, could invest their money in a German bank which would be used for purchasing German export goods. The purchaser could then redeem his investment when the goods had been sold and after he had arrived in Palestine. The German government set the rules and the emigrant would lose typically in excess of 30% of his investment and, eventually, 50%.
Indeed, there was a fundamental incompatibility with the upbuilding of a Jewish state in Palestine and opposition to the Nazi program of extermination of Europe’s Jews. The Ha’avara agreement allowed the transfer of LP 8,100,000 (Palestinian Pounds; then $40,419,000) to Palestine along with 60,000 German Jews between 1933 and 1939. But it also had the effect of undercutting the international boycott effort and providing an inflow of capital to the German government owing to the sale of German manufactured goods abroad.
This understanding is important, as the Holocaust has been central in provoking sympathy for the State of Israel and in amplifying the claims for reparations from European governments. Sympathy for the victims of the Holocaust, whether Jews or Roma, is no less justified, but the state of Israel cannot maintain an air of complete innocence nor be the justified recipient of billions of dollars or reparations, very little of which is actually dispersed to Holocaust survivors.
Nor has Israel accepted the universal principle that states must pay reparations to ethnicities whom it has harmed, as Israel has ignored or denied the catastrophe of ethnic cleansing and massacres which it prosecuted against the Palestinian people in 1948.
The model of Jews fleeing a burning building; i.e., the Nazi Holocaust, and thus creating a redoubt of safety in the form of the state of Israel cannot be maintained. Aside from the fact that the Zionist project was initiated at least by the time of Herzl’s Der Judenstaat of 1896 and his founding of the World Zionist Congress a year later, and well before the Nazi ascension to power in the 1930s, the Zionists were little concerned with the slaughter of Jews in Europe and almost exclusively focused on building a state in Palestine.
Delegates at First Zionist Congress.
A proposal by the British, in the aftermath of Kristallnacht, of November 1938, that Britain admit a thousand children directly into Britain was sternly opposed by Ben Gurion who told a meeting of the Labor Zionist in December:
If I knew that it would be possible to save all the children in Germany by bringing them over to England, and only half of them by transferring them to Eretz Israel, then I would opt for the second alternative. For we must weigh not only the life of these children, but also the history of the People of Israel.13
By 1943, ample reports of massacres of Europe’s Jews were arriving in the US, though it garnered little of the mainstream press.
Jabotinsky’s “revisionist zionism”At this time, Peter Bergson, a Palestinian Jew and member of the Irgun, a militant offspring of the Revisionist Zionists, and his young colleagues, shifted their attention to saving Europe’s Jews. Bergson, who had been sent to New York City, by Revisionists leader, Jaobtinsky, in order to create American support of the establishment of a Jewish army in Palestine, and his colleagues formed the Emergency Committee to Save Europe’s Jews and initiated it with a conference attended by 1500 delegates including former President Herbert Hoover and New York Mayor Fiorello La Guardia. The delegates ultimately adopted an eight-point rescue program, the primary feature of which was the creation of a US government agency charged with saving Europe’s Jews. They also called for their allies to immediately attack the concentration camps and bomb railroads lines leading to them.
The conference’s program sought to avoid the issue of a Jewish state in Palestine, preferring to leave that to another day. Indeed, the efforts of Bergson were perceived by the American Jewish organizations, and especially by Rabbi Stephen Wise, head of the American Jewish Conference, as an effort to divert energy and attention away from Zionism and the upbuilding of a Jewish state in Palestine.
Bergson’s group sponsored full page advertisements in the New York Timesand other newspapers with such bold headlines as, “HELP Prevent 4,000,000 People from Becoming Ghosts.” Another read, “THIS IS STRICTLY A RACE AGAINST DEATH.”
The Emergency Committee also organized public events and rallies and a march by 450 Orthodox rabbis to the White House and the US Capitol. They also staged a theatrical production, entitled, We Will Never Die, authored by Academy Award winning screen writer Ben Hecht and included actors such as Edward G. Robinson with music written by Bertoldt Brecht. The play chronicled the contributions of Jews and addressed the current situation of Europe’s Jews.
The production played to 40,000 in Madison Square Garden and, in Washington, was viewed by Eleanor Roosevelt and hundreds of members of Congress.
Though the Emergency Committee had raised the consciousness of Americans for the plight of Europe’s Jews, their efforts were strongly opposed by America’s organized Jewish groups including Rabbi Stephen Wise and his American Jewish Congress.
In Buffalo, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh, local mainstream Jewish organizations attempted to block the production of We Will Never Die.
Most significant of the Emergency Committees’ actions was to provoke the sponsorship of a resolution, introduced in the House by Baldwin and Will Rogers Jr., and in the Senate by Guy Gillette, on November 9, 1943.
The full text follows:
Whereas the Congress of the United States, by concurrent resolution adopted on March 15 of this year, expressed its condemnation of Nazi Germany’s ‘mass murder of Jewish men, women, and children,’ a mass crime which has already exterminated close to two million human beings, about 30 per centum of the total Jewish population of Europe, and which is growing in intensity as Germany approaches defeat; and
Whereas the American tradition of justice and humanity dictates that all possible means be employed to save from this fate the surviving Jews of Europe, some four million souls who have been rendered homeless and destitute by the Nazis: therefore be it
Resolved, That the House of Representatives recommends and urges the creation by the President of a commission of diplomatic, economic, and military experts to formulate and effectuate a plan of immediate action designed to save the surviving Jewish people of Europe from extinction at the hands of Nazi Germany.
Senator Gillette emphasized that the bill focused only on rescue and not on the issue of Palestine or a Jewish state.
It is not to be confused with the dispute over the future of Palestine, over a Jewish state or a Jewish army. The issue is non-sectarian. The sole object here is to rescue as many as possible of Hitler’s victims, pending complete Allied victory.
Stephen Wise tried unsuccessfully to persuade the sponsors of the bill to withdraw their support. But failing that, Wise traveled to Washington and testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, chaired by Sol Bloom, stating that the resolution was ‘“inadequate” because it did not urge the British government to open Palestine to Jewish refugees” [italics mine].14
The lack of a reference to Palestine was, of course, intentionally absent from the bill.
Congressman Rogers also faced strong pressure from Zionists groups:
When it became known that I was becoming a member of the Bergson group, there was a terrific amount of pressure from all sorts of areas. I went back to Beverly Hills and I remember meeting with Rabbi Stephen S Wise in a synagogue. … He took me aside and said, ‘Now, young man. I knew your father very well. Now you are getting confused, you are getting mixed up with the wrong type of people. Let me tell you and steer you clear when it comes on, or want to meet the right people, the responsible people.’ He was quite the diplomat. He didn’t say, ‘If you get mixed up with them, you are not going to be reelected.’ He wasn’t that direct, but he made every pressure that he could, and where he know it would be effective.15
Gillette also faced strong opposition.
These people used every effort, every means at their disposal, to block the resolution. … [They] tried to defeat it by offering and amendment, insisting on an amendment to it that would raise the question, the controversial question of Zionism or anti-Zionism … or anything that might stop or block the action that we were seeking.15
On stationary with the letterhead of the American Jewish Congress, Stephen Wise wrote to Secretary of the Interior, Harold L. Ickles on December 23, 1943:
I was very sorry to note, as were others among your friends, that you had accepted the Chairmanship of the Washington Division of the Committee to Rescue European Jews. … I do not like to speak ill of you, not of us, concerning a group of Jews, but I am under the inexorable necessity of saying to you that the time will come, and come soon, when you will find it necessary to withdraw from this irresponsible group, which exists and obtains funds through being permitted to use the names of non-Jews like yourself.
Nor was Bergson beyond the crosshairs of the American Zionists. Bergson received an offer from Congressman Samuel Dickstein (D-NY) to meet with him in his DC office where it turned out that several other US Congressmen had also assembled. He was told, as paraphrased by Bergson, that unless he ‘behaved”, “we will deport you. … One shouldn’t mistake democracy with lawlessness, and don’t feel that you can just come to this country without – on temporary visitor’s visa and do whatever you wish …”15
Despite the opposition of the American Zionist community, the bill passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unanimously only to die in the entire Senate.
According to a State Department memorandum, Rabbi Stephen Wise had expressed to State Department John Pehle, that Wise “had gone so far as to inform Mr Pehle that he regarded Bergson as equally great an enemy of the Jews as Hitler, for reasons that his activities could only lead to increased anti-Semitism.”11
Reports of atrocities and mass murders in the Ukraine began arriving in the west in 1941. In January 1942, the Soviets issued a report of the working of the Einsatzgruppen, or the SS, and in May of that year, the Bund, the Jewish Workers Union of Poland and Russia, which was anti-Zionist, sent London a radio message that 700,000 people, most Jews, were exterminated in Poland. This message was repeated on the BBC two months later.
In April, even before the Bund broadcast, Moshe Shertok, later to become Israel’s second Prime Minister, wrote to British General and commander of the British Eight Army in North Africa:
The destruction of the Jewish race is a fundamental tenet of the Nazi doctrine. The authoritative reports recently published show that that policy is being carried out with a ruthlessness which defies description … An even swifter destruction, it must be feared, would overtake the Jews of Palestine.16
The focus here is on the hypothetical Nazi attack on Palestine, not on the slaughter actually taking place in Europe, but based, nonetheless, on Shertok’s understanding that such a slaughter was, in fact, taking place.
Despite the amply sufficient reports of massacres and exterminations, essentially nothing at all was done by the Zionist organizations, and reports of atrocities were consistently minimized.
Bernard Joseph (later Dov Yosef)
Dov Joseph, acting director of the Jewish Agency’s Political Department cautioned:
… against publishing data exaggerating the number of Jewish victim, for if we announce that millions of Jews have been slaughtered by the Nazis, we will justifiably be asked where the millions of Jews are, for whom we claim that we shall need to provide a home in Eretz Israel after the war ends.17
Yitzhak Gruenbaum, leader of the Jewish Agency’s Vaad Hazalah (Rescue Committee) who, in 1942 also believed the reports of atrocities taking place in Europe were exaggerated, offers a defense in his post war book, Bi-mei Hurban ve Sho’ah (In the Days of Holocaust and Destruction):
I want to destroy this assumption [that the Zionist leadership was to blame that it did not do everything possible to help the European Jews] in order to take out people from the occupied countries … it would be necessary for the neutral countries to provide refuge, that the warring nations open their gates to the refugees. …
How is it possible that in a meeting in Yerushalayim people will call: “If you don’t have enough money you should take it from Keren Hayesod [the Palestine Foundation Fund], you should take the money from the bank, there is money there.” I thought it obligatory to stand before this wave … .
And this time in Eretz Yisrael, there are comments: “Don’t put Eretz Yisrael in priority in this difficult time, in the time of destruction and European Jewry.’ I do not accept such sayings. And when some asked me: ‘Can’t you give money from the Keren Hayesod to save Jews in the Diaspora’? I said: no! And again I say no! … I think we have to stand before this wave that is putting Zionist activity into second row. … I think it necessary to say here Zionism is over everything… [Italics mine]
… [W]e must guard Zionism. There are those who feel that this should not be said at the time a Holocaust is occurring, but believe me, lately we see worrisome manifestations in this respect: Zionism is above all – it is necessary to sound this whenever a Holocaust diverts us from our war of liberation in Zionism. Our war of liberation does not arise from the fact of the Holocaust in a straight forward manner and does not interlock with actions for the benefit of the Diaspora … And we must guard – especially in these times – the supremacy of the war of redemption [Italics mine].18
The irony is overwhelming. Though the memory and imagery of the Holocaust is not far from the lips of every Israel leader, particularly the present one, and though this imagery is exploited for the sake of gaining tolerance and forbearance from the international community, as well as reparations which go well beyond actuarial merits, there was little serious concern on the part of organized Zionism for those facing extermination in Europe. Rather the Holocaust was regarded as a threat which had the potential of diverting energy and resources from the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine which was by far their highest priority.
The fact that the initiation of the Zionist project had nothing to do with the Holocaust, as it developed more than a half century earlier, and the fact of the mostly indifference to the slaughter of Jews on the part of the founders of Israel, together with its collaboration with the Nazi Party, undermines Israel’s projected, and exploited, image as innocent victim.
At the end of the war a document, dated 11 January 1941, produced by Avraham Stern, proposing a military alliance and an understanding between the Third Reich and the Zionists was found in the German embassy in Ankara. It had been presented to two German diplomats in Lebanon, under Vichy at that time. The document was entitled, “Proposal for the National Military Organization (Irgun Zvai Leumi) Concerning the Solution of the Jewish Question in Europe and the Participation of the NMO in the War on the side of Germany.” The NMO, later to adopt the name Lohamamei Herut Yisrael, or lehi for short, was universally known by its British designation as the Stern gang.
The document read:
The evacuation of the Jewish masses from Europe is a precondition for solving the Jewish question; but this can only be made possible and complete through the settlement of these masses in the home of the Jewish people, Palestine, and through the establishment of a Jewish state in its historical boundaries … The NMO, which is well acquainted with the goodwill of the German Reich government and its authorities towards Zionist activity inside Germany and towards Zionist emigration plans, is of the opinion that:
1. Common interests could exist between the establishment of a New Order in Europe in conformity with the German concept, and the true national aspirations of the Jewish people as they are embodied by the NMO.
2. Cooperation between the new Germany and a renewed volkish-national Hebrium would be possible; and,
3. The establishment of the historical Jewish state on a national and totalitarian basis, and bound by a treaty with the German Reich, would be in the interest of a maintained and strengthened future German position of power in the Near East.
Proceeding from these considerations, the NMO in Palestine, under the condition the above-mentioned national aspirations of the Israeli freedom movement, are recognized on the side of the German Reich, offers to actively take part in the war on Germany’s side [italics mine].
This offer by the NMO … would be connected to the military training and organization of Jewish manpower in Europe, under the leadership and command of the NMO. These military units would take part in the fight to conquer Palestine, should such a front be decided upon.
The indirect participation of the Israeli freedom movement in the New Order in Europe, already in the preparatory stage, would be linked with a positive-radical solution of the European Jewish problem in conformity with the above-mentioned national aspirations of the Jewish people. This would extraordinarily strengthen the moral basis of the New Order in the eyes of all humanity.19
The Irgun, (the MNO) under Manachem Begin, and the Stern Gang, are sometime blamed, by mainstream Zionism, as being uniquely responsible for the more grotesque atrocities of Israel’s fight against both the Arabs and against the British in its quest for statehood; for example, the bombing of the King David Hotel in 1946, in which 96 mostly civilians were killed, and the massacre at Deir Yassin. In fact, both of these actions involved the coordination of these ‘dissident groups’ with the Haganah — the military under the direction of David Ben Gurion.
Yitzhak Yzernitsky — later to call himself Yitzhak Shamir,
Yitzhak Yzernitsky — later to call himself Yitzhak Shamir, and later to become Israeli Prime Minister, in fact, the longest serving Prime Minister of Israel except for David Ben Gurion — became the operations commander of the Stern Gang after Avraham Stern was killed by the British army in February of 1942. Under Shamir’s leadership, 14 assassinations were attempted of British officials with two successful ones, of Lord Moyne, the British Minister Resident in the Middle East, sitting in Cairo, and the UN Representative to Palestine, Count Folke Bernadotte, who received three bullets in the heart on the order of Stern’s operations commander and future Prime Minister – Yitzhak Shamir.
The Charter of the Stern Gang, or more accurately, the principles promulgated by Stern, included the establishment of a Jewish state “from the Nile to the Euphrates”, the ‘transfer of the Palestinian Arabs to regions outside of the Jewish state, and the building of the Third Temple in Jerusalem. It maintained offices outside of the Middle East – including Warsaw, Paris, London, and New York City, the latter headed by Benzion Netanyahu, the present Prime Minister’s father.
- Herzl, Theodore, The Jewish State, p 9, 2007, BN Publishing [?]
- Weizmann [?]
- Weizmann, Chaim, Trial and Error, pv90-91 [?]
- Frommer, Ben, The Significance of the Jewish State, Jewish Call, (Shanghai, 1935), p 10-11. [?]
- Agus, Jacob, The Meaning of Jewish History, vol II, p 435. [?]
- Edelheim-Muehsam, Margaret, Reactions of the Jewish Press to the Nazi Challenge, Leo Baeck Institute Year Book, vol V, (1960), p 312. [?]
- Rabbi Wise, The New Palestine (14 February 1934), p 5-7. [?]
- Eichmann, Adolf, “Eichmann Tells His Own Damning Story”, Life (28 Nov. 1960) p 22. [?]
- Polkehn, Klaus, “The Secret Contacts: Zionism and Nazi Germany 1933-41″, Journal of Palestine Studies (Spring 1976), p 337. [?]
- Hohne, Heinz, The Order of the Death’s Head, p 337. [?]
- Brenner, Lenni, Zionism in the Age of Dictators, Lawrence Hill, (1983). [?] [?]
- In Yisraeli, David, “The Third Reich and the Transfer Agreement,” Journal of Contemporary History, vol. VI (1971), P 131. [?] [?]
- Gelber, Yoav, “Zionism and the Fate of European Jewry (1939-42),” Yad Vashem Studies, vol. XII, p 171. [?]
- Brownfield, Peter Egill, “The Jewish Establishment’s Focus on Palestine: Did it Distract from Holocaust Efforts?” (Summer 2003). [?]
- Ibid. Also, Brenner Lenni, Zionism in the Age of Dictators. [?] [?] [?]
- Laqueur, “Jewish Denial and the Holocaust,” Commentary (December 1979, p 46. [?]
- Gelber, Zionist Policy and the Fate of European Jewry, p 195. [?]
- Gruenbaum, Yitzhak, Bi-Mei Hurban ve Sho’ah, p 62-70. [?]
- Brenner, op. cit., p 267. [?]
William James Martin has written many articles on the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Middle East. He can be reached at : firstname.lastname@example.org.
On July 1 Croatia became the 28th country to join the European Union, and on current form there will be no further enlargement for many years to come. A look at the glaring dysfunctions in Croatia’s accession, compared to the double standards Brussels imposes on Serbia and Ukraine, is indicative of the peculiar mitteleuropäisch view of what constitutes “Europe” which still dominates the political and media elite thinking in Berlin and Vienna.
After the disappointing experience with Bulgaria and Romania, which joined the EU in 2007 but continue to be plagued by unstable governments and all-pervasive corruption, many experts have expressed doubts about Croatia’s readiness for membership. On its entry a month ago it became the third-poorest nation in the EU, with unemployment hovering around 20 percent. Of those who work, one-third are employed in the public sector. If it joins the eurozone in three years, Croatia would also become a prime candidate for an eventual bailout.
According to Transparency International, Croatia is ranked below Rwanda, Namibia, Jordan or Cuba in its 1012 graft index. Former prime minister Ivo Sanader, who played a key role in negotiating the EU membership, was sentenced to ten years in jail last year for accepting multi-million bribes from foreign companies. Last March the European Commission expressed concern over Croatia’s low level of legal penalties in corruption cases and its effectiveness in battling human trafficking and organized crime. “Widespread political and economic corruption persist, and its courts often show an overly lax attitude toward due process,” The New York Times editorialist warned on June 28. “The fact is that the Union may well be about to repeat the mistakes of the last round of accessions,” he warned, thus jeopardizing Croatia’s own future, diminishing membership prospects for other Balkan states, and stalling further enlargement for the next decade or more.
It is no secret in Brussels that Germany wanted Croatia in for its own geopolitical reasons, however, and that was the end of the debate. There is also an economic interest. Since their products have become significantly more competitive with the elimination of the 20 percent tariff on EU goods, German manufacturers and merchants in particular stand to profit from Croatia’s entry. They cherish the prospect of over four million potential new customers who are traditionally fond of German brands.
Many Croatians remain deeply skeptical about the benefits of joining the Union. In last year’s referendum on EU membership, only 43 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots and exactly two-thirds voted in favor of the union—a mere 28 percent of Croatia’s electorate. Recent polls show that only 39 percent welcomed the accession. State-funded celebration in Zagreb notwithstanding, Croatian accession was marked by all-pervasive gloom among its people as well as across the EU. Some Croats fear that tough competition from the north will drive many struggling companies out of business. Even Greece, Bulgaria and Romania are in better financial shape than Croatia, according to World Bank statistics.
For a country facing serious demographic decline, the most serious likely consequence of EU membership will be an exodus of educated young people when work restrictions expire in two years from now. Among Croatia’s under-25s unemployment rate exceeds 50 percent. A massive brain drain has already happened to Poland after it joined the EU in 2004, and to Bulgaria and Romania after 2007.
Croatian Euroskeptics say that just getting ready for EU entry has crippled their country in the same manner as Brussels’ neoliberal ideology has damaged the “Club Med.” Croatia cannot join the eurozone immediately, but it is maintaining a fixed euro-kuna exchange rate to qualify for membership in three years’ time. This denies it an opportunity to devalue and make its exports and tourist industry more competitive. On current form, Croatia’s tourist infrastructure can hardly compete with that of Italy, Spain, or Greece.
“Croatian governments have followed obediently the EU’s austerity advice, even before the accession.” Srecko Horvat and Igor Stiks wrote in an op-ed for the Guardian. The country’s foreign debt now exceeds $60 billion, more than $13,000 for each of Croatia’s 4.4 million people. It now has virtually no industry and relies heavily on tourism, which accounts for 20 percent of GNP. All this, Horvat and Stiks say, means that “Croatia has not actually joined only the EU; in reality, it has become a fully fledged member of the EU periphery.” One of the EU’s longest external land borders at 800 miles, they add, will necessarily cut Croatia off from its immediate and natural surroundings and bring further isolation from its neighbors.
By entering the EU Croatia has lost its membership in the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA), which now consists of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro and Serbia. The loss of customs privileges and trade benefits in those markets will cost the country at least 220 million dollars a year in lost exports, according to the Croatian Chamber of Commerce. Other analysts say that some 4,000 people will become unemployed as a result of Croatia losing CEFTA membership, with no compensating benefits in the highly competitive EU markets.
Last but not least, EU membership creates a major problem for thousands of Croats who make their living from fishing along the country’s Adriatic coast. They will face competition from much larger and better equipped fishing vessels from other EU countries—above all Italy—which are now free to operate in Croatian waters. In addition, they will have to invest heavily into new, EU-compliant trawl nets and safety equipment. Most of their gear is not in accordance with the EU’s Common Fishing Policy (CFP), whose regulations were modeled mostly on fishing in the Atlantic Ocean. Local fishers complain that successive Croatian governments did not even try to protect their interests and that they face bankruptcy.
For better or worse, Croatia is in the EU while other aspirants, like Serbia to the east, will stay out for many years to come—or, in the case of Ukraine, are not yet even in discussions for membership. Enlargement fatigue is all-pervasive among old and new Union members alike. The fact that it is particularly strong in Germany is what really matters. (Several smaller countries share the sentiment, notably Austria and Benelux.) German preferences largely explain the unequal treatment by Brussels of other countries in the former Yugoslavia and in Europe’s “eastern neighborhood.” What is sauce for the Croatian goose is no sauce for the Serbian or Ukrainian gander. Unlike in earlier rounds of accession, the EU no longer offers a specific timetable for achieving the promise of membership made at the summit in Thessaloniki ten years ago. Rather, the process remains open-ended and indeterminate. EU Commissioner for Enlargement Štefan Füle claims that enlargement will continue, but officials in Brussels privately concede that this is not the case.
Last April Serbia had to sign a humiliating, EU-brokered deal with Kosovo’s secessionist government in order to obtain a “conditional” date for the opening of accession negotiations next January. Effectively giving up one-seventh of one’s sovereign territory for the sake of the elusive “Date” was both a crime and a mistake, but even that does not promise the government in Belgrade that it will be any closer to full EU membership a decade from now than it is today. Turkey has been a candidate since 1999, and yet it will never be allowed to join the EU. Skopje-Macedonia (FYROM) has had a candidate status for the past eight years, with the final goalpost nowhere in sight.
Even after Serbia’s capitulation last April, German lawmakers came up with a list of seven additional demands which Belgrade would need to complete in order to be given a date for the commencement of accession negotiations. They wanted the Serbian authorities “to find and prosecute the demonstrators who attacked the German embassy in Belgrade in February 2008” (a day after Berlin recognized Kosovo’s independence), which is well-nigh impossible because the German government has refused to give the Serbs any surveillance camera footage. More egregiously, the Bundestag demanded that the Serbs accept, and not deny, that “genocide” was committed in Srebrenica; to apply pressure on northern Kosovo Serbs to “actively cooperate” with EULEX and Kfor; and to display “visible readiness for legally binding normalization of relations” with Kosovo.
Brussels’ lack of straight dealing is equally glaring in the case of Ukraine, which is not even being offered the prospect of EU membership anytime soon. Kiev has been struggling since 2007 to obtain the more limited Association Agreement with the EU. At the 15th Ukraine-EU Summit in December 2011, the EU leaders and President Yanukovych announced that they had reached “a common understanding on the text of the Association Agreement,” and in March 2012 the chief negotiators of the European Union and Ukraine initialed the text of the Agreement. Stefan Füle announced at that time that the Agreement could be finally signed after the Ukrainian general election in October 2012. It did not happen. Additional demands and conditions keep emerging instead.
Topping the list is the case of Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister, who is serving a seven-year jail sentence for corruption and is facing murder charges for the 1996 killing of a political opponent. Even though the case against the richest woman in Ukraine seems strong, Brussels has taken the position that it was politically motivated. The EU has also criticized Ukrainian authorities for failing to conduct last October’s parliamentary elections “in line with international democratic standards.” With Germany again the lead skeptical voice on the EU side, the question of whether the Association Agreement will be signed at the Vilnius summit this November remains uncertain. If it is not signed, it will not be for lack of trying from the Ukrainian side.
Unequal treatment of different countries by the EU’s old core—and above all by Germany—reflects some old prejudices and cultural preferences which will not go away. Of course, no German politician will ever admit that his or her judgment is impacted by the fact that the Croats were German allies in both world wars, while the Serbs or Ukrainians were no
Damascus — It may well have seemed like a fine idea at the European Union’s Foreign Ministers cocktail reception in Brussels, where ample alcohol freely flowed the night before last week’s vote to blacklist the “military wing” of Hezbollah. But shortly after the vote the EU appeared to be experiencing a severe hangover as the stark reality of its impetuous decision began to soak in.
After periodical discussion of the US-Israel demand for blacklisting Hezbollah for more than a year, and adding its name to the EU list of 26 organizations and 11 individuals currently being designated as ‘terrorists’ is in becoming clearer by the day the EU actions may not have been in anyone’s interest except possibly Israel’s.
It is true there was never much enthusiasm at EU HQ for taking the blacklisting step given some fundamental uncertainties of what it would mean in reality. But American and British pressure, and headlines from Israel screaming: “We told you about rising anti-Semitism from Europe” following the EU decision to blacklist illegal Zionist colonies implanted on the West Bank portion of occupied Palestine, weeks earlier. To round up EU votes, the US State Department staff designated to lobby the 28 EU foreign ministries also focused on the unproven Bulgaria bus attack, and Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria as reasons to go along with the blacklisting decision which required a unanimous vote for the 28 EU countries foreign ministers.
Minutes after the EU vote, problems began to appear and it became obvious that buying into the US-UK Hezbollah “military wing” blacklisting project was not an attractive product after all.
Some of the reportedly emphasized ‘talking points’ to the EU Foreign Ministries from Washington and London included the following:
· The EU blacklisting Hezbollah’s military wing would “compensate” Israel, as it has been demanding, for the EU vote early this month that essentially boycotted Zionist colonial projects throughout the illegally occupied West Bank
· The action would not affect UNIFIL or UNSCR 1701 because Hezbollah has good relations with UNIFIL and they would likely continue to work with the 15 European countries nations making up UNIFIL including the five EU members ,France, Spain, Italy, Poland and Ireland who have troops patrolling the Lebanon-Palestine border;
· Israel would be assuaged and can claim a victory in its war with Hezbollah;
· The Lebanese political parties backed by certain EU member states and the Gulf Countries such as Saudi Arabia would benefit in terms of establishing a new pro-March 14th dominated government, significantly pressuring Hezbollah’s delegation in Parliament and at the ballot box by the blacklisting—although it was not spelled out precisely how to would work;
· US-led western aid to the Lebanese army would likely increase and Hezbollah’s international reputation would suffer;
· There would be no damage to EU-Lebanese relations and any negative reactions would soon dye down.
However great all this may have sounded in some capitols before the ill-considered vote, a rude awakening began to dawn almost immediately after the votes were counted. Criticisms, complications and doubts from the EU action are continuing to be voiced and second thoughts are spreading despite efforts of the EU Ambassador to Lebanon, Ms. Angeline Eichhorst at damage control.
Even before the EU’s decision to blacklist Hezbollah’s “military wing” was publicly released, Ms. Eichhorst sought and was granted appointments with Hezbollah’s Ammar al-Musawi, Liaison for International Relations, and Minister of State Mohammad Fneish, at which she repeatedly offered assurances that the EU vote will have zero effect on relations with the group’s “civilian wing.” She assured the gentlemen that the EU votes do not reflect on the Lebanese government in any way, explaining that the EU “has no problem with Hezbollah participating in any future government.”
Ambassador Eichhorst declared that “this decision is a political message to Hezbollah for the attack in Burgas, Bulgaria, which is a terrorist attack on European soil.”
She added, however, that this does not reflect on the Lebanese government in any way, explaining that the EU “has no problem with Hezbollah participating in any future government.” After her meeting with Hezbollah’s minister in the current caretaker government, she stated, “Financial assistance will continue, of which Minister Fneish’s ministry gets a sizable share, and we want for this cooperation to continue.”
For his part, and ever gracious towards the EU’s well-meaning Ambassador , who appeared to understand some of the diplomatic complications the EU action unlearned, Hezbollah MP Fneish reminded the ambassador that “Israel occupied our land for many years, and we did not hear a single objection (from the EU) “we were careful to maintain good relations with Europe, despite the terrible legacy Europe left behind among our people – from the Palestinian cause to colonialism – and despite this, you choose to remind us again of this painful history.”
Minister Fneish reiterated Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah’s statement that the European decision will provide Israel with political cover for any future attack on Lebanon, in which case Hezbollah would consider the EU a partner in such a crime. Eichhorst replied that the EU decision has nothing to do with Resistance to Israel or Lebanese sovereignty.”
Both Musawi and Fneish stood their ground in their discussions with EU ambassador Eichhorst, insisting that the decision was an insult to the Resistance. They dismissed the decision as politically motivated, particularly given that the outcome of the Burgas investigation is rooted in allegations and conjecture, even by the admission of the ambassador herself who conceded that there are no firm results regarding responsibility for the Burgas incident that cost innocent lives.
Ms. Eichhorst’s hosts were reportedly far too polite to ask the EU ambassador just how the EU planned to somehow go about distinguishing a “civil wing” and a “military wing”.
And they are not alone in appearing a bit puzzled. According to a lawyer at the American Society of International Law in Washington DC, the EU decision was a big mistake from an international law standpoint and could be an international lawyer’s worst nightmare or a dream come true. Which would depend if the lawyer was representing the EU in trying to unravel the civil-military conundrum or advising thousands of EU member states businesses and agencies wanting to continue any business with the Lebanese government, UNIFIL, or countless NGO’s who regularly interact with Hezbollah.
“It’s a real legal mess!” the ASIL source explained, as he described the legal confusion the EU action caused. “The best thing for EU credibility and international relations right now on this subject would be for the EU to forget what it did and to desist from any implementation whatsoever. And then let the designation be removed after the six months trial period as provided by EU regulations. Otherwise, their decision will swamp courtrooms and complicate Middle East-European political and economic relations with challenges from all points on the compass with uncertain outcomes to say the least.”
It is not only Hezbollah, the leader of the National Lebanese Resistance and American international lawyers who have expressed concerns about the EU action last week. It seems that nearly everyone else does too and this reaction is adding to the EU’s ‘morning after’ queasiness.
Many citizens of Lebanon are expressing concern that the EU brush stroke aimed at Hezbollah’s “military wing” may tar them as well due to the ‘terrorism’ label toxicity these days. A Sunni taxi driver wondered if his children could now get visas to Europe because of the ruling. Lebanon is very sensitive to the issue of Visas as they see fellow citizens are being forced out of Gulf countries due to fabricated claims of association with Hezbollah. In these countries hundreds of thousands of Lebanese have had visas for decades. It is the uncertainly among many-understandably paranoid Lebanese living and working abroad than is causing near panic among some in Lebanon.
It’s hard to find in Lebanon, even among Hezbollah detractors, a political party that is publicly endorsing the EU decision because they basically see no advantage for Lebanon of their own tightly controlled sects, whether Christian, Muslim, or Druze.
On 7/27/13 Former premier Fouad Saniora, head of al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc, no friend of Hezbollah, voiced “concern and regret over the reasons that led the European Union to take the decision of putting Hezbollah’s so-called military wing on its terror list.” Saniora added in a statement released from his party’s media office:
“We had commented on this issue in the bloc’s statement and voiced our regret and also our concern over the reasons that led the EU to take such a decision, especially that we in Lebanon have ties of solid friendship with 28 European countries, and thus none of us would have liked to see this happening.”
Saniora’s friend and colleague, Phalange Party leader Amin Gemayel argued over the week-end that the European Union’s decision to blacklist Hezbollah’s military wing is “ambiguous,” pointing out that it will have a negative impact on the country. In an interview with Voice of Lebanon radio (100.5) he argued that “The decision confused the Lebanese situation and will constitute negative repercussions on all matter especially the cabinet formation process,” Gemayel said. He pointed out that the decision targets Hezbollah members who his party considered “ghosts,” saying: “The members that are responsible for Hezbollah’s military action are unknown.”
Even Israeli officials have problems with the EU’s decision. Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman and MK Avigdor Lieberman slammed the EU’s decision to put military wing of Hezbollah on terrorist list, saying that not only military wing, but the entire organization should be blacklisted. “
As usual, Lieberman found some antisemitism lurking among the Europeans, claiming that they were satisfied with going only halfway, and like the West Bank Settlements EU decision, the EU wants to punish not the terrorists but those (like-Israel!) who reject terrorism and fight it. Half a dozen other Israeli officials including the ever garrulous Shimon Peres chimed in to form a chorus condemning the EU.
Far be it for this observer to advise the European Union’s Foreign Ministry or to promote an American association’s legal analysis and advice. However, the American Society of International Law lawyer, quoted above, makes a valid point.
The best move for the EU now, as it tries to recover from the current self-inflicted debacle is to do nothing to inflame the situation by cooking up some dubious terrorist lists. Rather, in six months the EU should assure that this month’s blacklisting decision acquiesced in under US-Israel pressure, lapses.
Speaking at the end of the meeting of the EU-Ukraine Cooperation Council in Luxembourg on June 24, European Enlargement Commissioner Štefan Füle warned Ukraine that “time is running preciously short” for the government in Kiev to meet all European Union conditions in time to sign a free trade and association agreement in November. “Ukraine has made good progress in some areas,” Füle said, but added that “more needs to be done for Ukraine to achieve tangible progress on all the benchmarks,” including “increased determination and reinforced action”—an obvious reference to the case of Yulia Tymoshenko.
While stressing that closer links with the EU remain its priority, in recent weeks the Ukrainian government has also probed the possibilities of strengthening its ties with the Customs Union formed in 2010 by Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Moscow would like to see Ukraine in the “Common Economic Space,” but it is reluctant to grant it a half-way status that would fall short of full membership. Kiev would prefer that option in order not to sever its EU connection.
The dilemma has received scant attention in the Western media. Considering its size and strategic importance, it is curious how underreported Ukraine remains 22 years after independence. The second largest country in Europe—the true link (and a key energy corridor) between Russia and the Old Continent’s heartland west of the Carpathian Mountains—has just under fifty million people, a rich agricultural base, and a long Black Sea shoreline which includes the all-important naval bases in the Crimea. Its geopolitical significance cannot be overstated.
Kiev’s current quandary is real, but it should not overshadow Ukraine’s promise as a pivotal player in the development of regional cooperation with its EU neighbors to the West, former CIS countries to the north and east, and emerging regional powers further afield. On my recent visits to Ukraine—most recently as an election observer last October – I was struck by the tendency of some local analysts to focus on the role of their country as an object of geopolitical rivalry of others, and to neglect its potential as a significant actor in its own right.
That potential is real. The importance of food as a key strategic commodity will continue to grow in the decades ahead, and Ukraine has an enormous, still untapped capability to become a global-scale producer. In 2012 Ukrainian agricultural sector raised $2bn in capital investments, which is 11 percent higher than in 2011 but still short of what is needed to unleash its potential. If and when Ukraine’s farmers gain reliable and affordable access to finance, they will be able to compete with, and perhaps out-produce, their peers in the American Midwest or Canada. Cooperation with key EU agricultural producers, such as France, is proceeding apace and should continue regardless of what happens in Vilnius next November. The same applies to Kiev’s cooperation with the EU in the energy sector in 2013—an important step in making Ukraine’s role as a key energy conduit more stable, predictable and transparent.
Bilateral cooperation can flourish even in the absence of speedy integrations, as recent experience suggests. Ukraine’s merchandise trade deficit narrowed to $608.5 million in April, which is markedly less than a year ago. Exports increased 4.7% year-on-year, while imports declined 8.1%. Most of its minerals, steel, coal, petroleum products and grains go to other former Soviet republics, but Germany and Poland have been gaining importance in recent years. Trade with Hungary, Sweden, and other smaller EU members has also recorded significant increases. Outside the EU and the former Soviet Union, Ukraine’s key partners are Turkey (second-largest overall, after Russia) and China. Ukraine will sign an agreement on a free tradearea (FTA) with Turkey in October, and its trade with China is expected to double to $20bn in the next few years.
Regardless of its hoped-for integrations, Ukraine can and should project more resolutely its “soft power” in the region. Its rich cultural heritage and still underdeveloped tourist industry are by no means the only assets. The 2012 UEFA European Football Championship, commonly referred to as Euro 2012—jointly hosted by Poland and Ukraine—was an expensive but useful step in the right direction. There are still too few foreign students, researchers and guest-lecturers in Kiev, Kharkov, Lvov or Odessa, considering the quality of their institutions of higher learning.
The perennial issue of Ukraine’s geopolitical strategy—should it lean to the East or to the West—is on the whole somewhat artificial. Experts note that recent trends in the country’s foreign trade have created preconditions for growth even if it joins neither the European Union nor the Moscow-led customs union. It is noteworthy that even some EU leaders take the view that Ukraine should follow a two-track approach.
Stability in Europe and the continent’s long-term integration devoid of the Cold War, zero-sum-game mentality, requires a new paradigm in Kiev. It should be based on further diversification of political and economic options, which is not incompatible with Ukraine’s quest for optimal forms of association with its eastern and western neighbors.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to supervise construction of a five-story underground facility for an Israel Defense Forces complex, oddly named “Site 911,” at an Israeli Air Force base near Tel Aviv.
Expected to take more than two years to build, at a cost of up to $100 million, the facility is to have classrooms on Level 1, an auditorium on Level 3, a laboratory, shock-resistant doors, protection from nonionizing radiation and very tight security. Clearances will be required for all construction workers, guards will be at the fence and barriers will separate it from the rest of the base.
Only U.S. construction firms are being allowed to bid on the contract and proposals are due Dec. 3, according to the latest Corps of Engineers notice.
Site 911 is the latest in a long history of military construction projects the United States has undertaken for the IDF under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program. The 1998 Wye River Memorandum between Israel and the Palestinian Authority has led to about $500 million in U.S. construction of military facilities for the Israelis, most of them initially in an undeveloped part of the Negev Desert. It was done to ensure there were bases to which IDF forces stationed in the West Bank could be redeployed.
As recorded in the Corps’ European District magazine, called Engineering in Europe, three bases were built to support 20,000 troops, and eventually the Israeli air force moved into the same area, creating Nevatim air base. A new runway, 2.5 miles long, was built there by the Corps along with about 100 new buildings and 10 miles of roads.
Over the years, the Corps has built underground hangers for Israeli fighter-bombers, facilities for handling nuclear weapons (though Israel does not admit having such weapons), command centers, training bases, intelligence facilities and simulators, according to Corps publications.
Within the past two years the Corps, which has three offices in Israel, completed a $30 million set of hangars at Nevatim, which the magazine describes as a “former small desert outpost that has grown to be one of the largest and most modern air bases in the country.” It has also supervised a $20 million project to build maintenance shops, hangars and headquarters to support Israel’s large Eitan unmanned aerial vehicle.
Site 911, which will be built at another base, appears to be one of the largest projects. Each of the first three underground floors is to be roughly 41,000 square feet, according to the Corps notice. The lower two floors are much smaller and hold equipment.
Security concerns are so great that non-Israeli employees hired by the builder can come only from “the U.S., Canada, Western Europe countries, Poland, Moldavia, Thailand, Philippines, Venezuela, Romania and China,” according to the Corps notice. “The employment of Palestinians is also forbidden,” it says.
Among other security rules: The site “shall have one gate only for both entering and exiting the site” and “no exit or entrance to the site shall be allowed during work hours except for supply trucks.” Guards will be Israeli citizens with experience in the Israeli air force. Also, “the collection of information of any type whatsoever related to base activities is prohibited.”
The well-known Israeli architectural firm listed on the plans, Ada Karmi-Melamede Architects, has paid attention to the aesthetics of the site design as well as the sensibilities of future employees. The site, for example, will be decorated with rocks chosen by the architect but purchased by the contractor. Three picnic tables are planned, according to the solicitation.
The Corps offered a lengthy description of the mezuzas the contractor is to provide “for each door or opening exclusive of toilets or shower rooms” in the Site 911 building. A mezuza (also spelled mezuzah) is a parchment which has been inscribed with Hebrew verses from the Torah, placed in a case and attached to a door frame of a Jewish family’s house as a sign of faith. Some interpret Jewish law as requiring — as in this case — that a mezuza be attached to every door in a house.
These mezuzas, notes the Corps, “shall be written in inerasable ink, on . . . uncoated leather parchment” and be handwritten by a scribe “holding a written authorization according to Jewish law.” The writing may be “Ashkenazik or Sepharadik” but “not a mixture” and “must be uniform.”
Also, “The Mezuzahs shall be proof-read by a computer at an authorized institution for Mezuzah inspection, as well as manually proof-read for the form of the letters by a proof-reader authorized by the Chief Rabbinate.” The mezuza shall be supplied with an aluminum housing with holes so it can be connected to the door frame or opening. Finally, “All Mezuzahs for the facility shall be affixed by the Base’s Rabbi or his appointed representative and not by the contractor staff.”
What’s the purpose of Site 911? I asked the Pentagon on Tuesday, and the Corps on Wednesday said that only an Israeli Defense Ministry spokesman could provide an answer.
This may be a trend-starter. The Corps is also seeking a contractor for another secret construction project in Israel in the $100 million range to awarded next summer. This one will involve “a complex facility with site development challenges” requiring services that include “electrical, communication, mechanical/
HVAC [heating, ventilation, air conditioning] and plumbing.” The U.S. contractor must have a U.S. secret or equivalent Israeli security clearance for the project, which is expected to take almost 21/2 years to complete.
That sounds like a secure command center.
The purpose of Site 911 is far less clear.
Source: Walter Pincus | TheWashingtonPost
Across Syria these days, one is able to examine massive evidence that this ancient civilization, the historic bastion of nationalist Arabism and since the 1948 Nabka, an essential pillar of the growing culture of Resistance to the Zionist occupation of Palestine, is becoming awash with foreign arms being funneled to “rebels” by countries advocating regime change.
This observer has been researching foreign arms transfers into certain Middle East countries since last summer in Libya, where to a lesser degree the identical foreign actors were involved in facilitating the transfer of arms and fighters to topple the then, “Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.”
During a recent stay in Syria, I was able to observe first hand, substantial demonstrative evidence supporting the thesis that American, Zionist and Gulf intelligence agencies as well as private arms dealers from these countries top the list of more than two dozen countries benefiting from the crisis in Syria by injecting arms. These countries gain politically and financially, via governmental and black market arms transfers.
Which countries are sending the most weapons into Syria to arm militia?
A list of the top 24 countries, among the more than three dozen that are currently involved in sending weapons to Syria to achieve regime change include: USA, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain, UK, France, Canada, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Brazil, Portugal, Poland, Yugoslavia, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Italy, Spain, and Argentina.
Above: one of the periodic lists complied of foreign weapons confiscated from foreign fighters in Syria. Aug.-late September, 2012
Nearly two-thirds of the above listed arms suppliers are members of NATO and constitute almost half of NATO’s 28 country membership.
Russia is not included in the above list because it is the main supplier of arms to the Syrian government. Yet, one finds older USSR era weapons and even some more recent vintage Russian arms in rebel hands, the latter from the decade (12/79-2/89) of Soviet, occupation of Afghanistan. Also offering Russian weapons are a growing number of black market arms dealers of whom there is no shortage along the Turkey-Syrian border and elsewhere. This recent visitor to Syria was offered near the Old City, AK 47’s (Russian Kalashnikovs) or Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPG) for $ 1,800 (in Lebanon today and before the Syrian crisis the price was around $800. After some bargaining and starting to walk away a couple of times, the “special one-time only price for an American friend” dropped to $ 750 each. Russian made Dragunov sniper rifles are being offered at $ 6,500 but can be bought for around $ 5000.Buying arms these days in Syria is a caveat emptor proposition. Fake weapons and military rejects/defects are also being offered by hustlers from nearby countries including Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey.
The involvement of numerous countries in the Syrian crisis as arms suppliers and political operatives was tangentially referenced by the recent UN Security Council Statement of 12/25/12 which admits the existence of foreign actors and implies their arms supplying activities by urging “all regional and international actors to use their influence on the parties concerned to facilitate the implementation of the (Eid al Adha) ceasefire and cessation of violence.”
Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Bashar al-Jaafari observed last week: “This part of the [Security Council] press statement, mentioned for the first time, proves Syria’s view repeated since the beginning of the crisis on the existence of Arab, regional and international parties influencing the armed groups negatively or positively. Therefore, those parties need to be addressed.”
One of the key challenges for the UN and Arab League envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi whose aides told this observer at the Dama Rose hotel on 10/22/12 where we were staying, is: “We need to persuade key countries in the Middle East, but also internationally, not to support the rebels with arms.
The failed initiative of envoy El Brahimi, was the third ceasefire attempt to date following the December 2011Arab League proposal and the April 2012 Kofi Annan initiative, both of which were endorsed by the Syrian government and most of the world community. Some rebel militia, but not nearly enough, did endorse the Brahimi four day Eid al Adha ceasefire only to have it collapse this past weekend. To his credit, Brahimi continues his work.
The same Brahimi sources suggested that the United States may also be supplying man-portable air-defense systems (Manpods) to rebels in Syria. According to Russian Foregin Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich, speaking on 12/15/12: “At the same time, it is also well-known that Washington is aware of supplies of various types of arms to illegal armed groups operating in Syria. Moreover, the United States, judging by admissions by American officials that have also been published in American media, is conducting coordination and providing logistical support for such supplies.” NBC News, based in New York reported in July that Syrian insurgents had obtained two dozen US MANPADS, delivered from Turkey.
A month after the October 2011 death of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced in Tripoli that the U.S. was committing $40 million to help Libya “secure and recover its weapons stockpiles.” Congressional sources report that the Obama administration is fully aware that quantities of these arms are current in Syria and more in transit.
With respect to arms moving from Libya to Syria, on the night of Sept. 11 Libya time, in what was his last public meeting, US Ambassador Christopher Stevens met with the Turkish Consul General Ali Sait Akin, and accompanied him to the consulate front gate just before the assault began. Although what was discussed has not yet been made public, Washington sources including the pro-Zionist Fox News speculate that Stevens may have been in Benghazi negotiating a weapons transfer, from Libya to Syria.
Earlier this year, Assistant Secretary of State for Political and Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro expressed concerns that the increasing flow of Libya arms was far from under control. Speaking to the Stimson Center in Washington D.C. on 2/10/12 Shapiro said: “This raises the question — how many weapons and missiles are still missing? The frank answer is we don’t know and probably never will.”
According to a 10/14/12 report by the Times of London, a vessel flying the Libyan flag named Al Entisar (Victory), loaded with more than 400 tons of cargo, docked in southern Turkey 35 miles from the Syrian northern border. While some of the undeclared cargo was likely humanitarian, staff accompanying UN envoy Brahimi during his recent Syrian trip report the Al Entisar also carried the largest consignment of foreign weapons to date, including surface-to-air anti-aircraft missiles, RPG’s and MANPADS destined for Syria.
Partly because of the jihadists and arms entering Syria from its northern border, southern Turkey is increasingly referred to here in Damascus as “New Afghanistan”, given its matrix of jihadists, salafists, wahabists, and battle-hardened panoply of arriving foreign would-be mujahedeen and al Qaeda affiliates.
One teenage al Qaeda wannebe explained to the author that his specialty was making and using homemade specialized knives as shown in this photo. He also delivered a mini-lecture he said was based on a Koranic Hadith explaining why severing heads of animals and adversaries is actually the most humane method. He gave earnest assurances that if allowed to perform a one-time demonstration, this observer would feel no pain and he would post the photo on Facebook!
Remarkably, as was witnessed in 2007, during the conflict at the Nahr al Bared Palestinian refugee camp in north Lebanon, some of the arriving eager jihadists in “New Afghanistan” actually believe that they are fighting against Zionist forces near occupied Palestine and not killing fellow Arabs in Syria.
Some, but not all of the many types of small arms flowing into Syria in large numbers, and viewed by this observer include:
7.62mm Tabuk (Yugoslavia) rifles, Mass rifles (UK), 7.62 mm rifles (Poland), 12 mm rifles (Italy), 7.62 mm Kalashnikovs (several countries versions), 9 mm ‘fast gun’, (Austria), 7.62 mm Val (Belgium), G3 7.62 mm G3 rifles (Germany), 7.5mm model 36 rifles (France), M16 and a variety of sniper and other rifles (USA), 7.62 rifles (Bulgaria, 10.5 Uzi and other automatic machine guns, three types of hand grenades (Israel), 9 mm guns (Canada), 7 mm guns (Czech Republic), 7 mm guns (Brazil).
Photo: 10.23.12 Syria
Israeli weapons are among the most frequently found in Syria as was the case in Libya. Israeli arms dealers are claimed to have recently intensified links with Blackwater International and also are currently smuggling through the Golan Heights, the tri-border area of south Lebanon, occupied Palestine and Syria.
The observer also examined and was briefed on M72 LAW and AT-3 anti-tank missiles developed by the United States. But the extent of their use is difficult to verify. Most of the arms shown in accompanying photos are from the main urban centers and near the Turkish, Iraqi, Lebanese and Jordanian borders.
In tightly built up urban areas such as Homs, Idlib and Aleppo, door to door fighting includes a battle among snipers. According to one Syrian military intelligence source in whose Damascus office this observer discussed the subject, the most frequently confiscated sniper rifles currently being found in the hands of “rebels” include:
· the U.S. Army & USMC M1903-A4 (also: USMC M1903-A1/Unertl), the U.S. Army & USMC M1C & M1D and U.S. Army M21;
Photo: Damascus 10/23/12: American weapons from Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey and NATO stores are entering Syria with the aid of Qatar and Saudi Arabia and black market arms dealers.
· the Israeli M89SR Technical Equipment International 7.62x51mm NATO Semi-automatic, Galil Sniper Rifle and the T.C.I. M89-SR,
· the British .243 Winchester, 7.62x51mm NATO/.308 Winchester,.300 Winchester Magnum, and the 338 Lapua Magnum Bolt action sniper rifles.
Photo: Syria 10/13/12: The most frequently confiscated sniper rifles currently being found in the hands of “rebels” in Syria include the above shown U.S. Army & USMC M1903-A4. Other US sniper rifles include the USMC M1903-A1/Unertl), the U.S. Army & USMC M1C & M1D and U.S. Army M21
A few Afghanistan era Russian Dragonov SVD and SV-98 sniper rifles have also been confiscated among an assortment of others.
Foreign jihadists have some access to Soviet-era DShK heavy machine guns or ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft cannons which are used for anti-aircraft and fire support. Both use fairly scarce high-explosive rounds and armor-piercing rounds, which are capable of penetrating the armor of the Syrian military’s BMP infantry fighting vehicles. The ZU-23-2 “Sergey”, also known as ZU-23, is a Soviet towed 23 mm anti-aircraft cannon. Vehicle mounted Zu-23-2’s are relatively easy to spot by government aircraft and artillery units are used to attack a target and quickly flee to avoid counter strikes.
On 10/25/12 Russia reiterated its claims that the US assists and coordinates arms deliveries to foreign-sponsored insurgents battling the Syrian government forces. Russia’s chief military officer said that Syrian armed groups have acquired US-made weapons, including Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. This observer saw many weapons from more than a dozen types of IED’s (improvised explosive device) to medium sized artillery pieces but no missiles.
Photo: 10/24/12 Damascus, Syria
Improvised Explosive Devices are a key rebel weapon with many arriving from Iraq and camps near Hataya, Turkey. Many DIY (do it yourself) improvisations have been uncovered across Syria in both urban and rural areas. This observer examined and was briefed on several types, including those shown above.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry issued statement of 10/25/12, “Washington is aware of the deliveries of various weapons to illegal armed groups active in Syria. Moreover, judging by the declarations of US officials published in US media, the US coordinates and provides logistical assistance in such deliveries.”
Some analysts in Damascus claim that Syria’s potential military strength has not been as effective as it could be in the current urban fights against rebels. The government appears very strong militarily if one studies the statistics regarding Syria’s large and disciplined army which continues its support and also given its sophisticated long range missiles, air defense systems that have deterred an airborne attack from Israel. One reason progress has at times appeared slow against the “rebels” according to some local analysts was a certain initial unpreparedness to confront highly motivated guerrilla militia in downtown densely populated areas. These kinds of battles, it is claimed, require a mobile infantry, armored flexibility and very effective use of light arms. The Assad government’s “adapt, catch up and go on the offensive” paradigm is developing rapidly according to US Senate Armed Service Committee sources who assert that the Syria army has actually become battle hardened, tougher, stronger and more disciplined over the past several months. But it has taken time and has incurred a significant cost.
Weapons examined by this observer in Syria during 10/12 include some of the more than 1,750 new American sniper rifles channeled from Iraq and NATO supply stores to rebel militia.
How foreign weapons are entering Syria
As widely speculated particularly in the regional media, foreign supplied weapons to “rebels” arrive by air, sea and mainly by land from Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and occupied Palestine.
Israel is reported, by some researchers in Damascus who have been covering the crisis for nearly 20 months, to be sending arms to Syria from Kurdistan, having had much experience in Africa, South America and Eastern Europe via Mossad and Israeli black market arms dealing. What Israel did in Libya in terms of a wide spread arms business it is also trying to do in Syria. Israeli arms, according to Syrian and Lebanese sources are being transported into Syria from along the tri-border area of South Lebanon, near Shebaa Farms, close to Jabla al-Saddaneh, and Gadja. In addition, Israeli smugglers have increasingly, over the past five months, been seen by locals moving arms inside Syria via the Golan Heights. These violations of Syrian and Lebanese sovereignty raise serious questions about the vigilance of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force Zone (UNDO) based in the Golan Heights as well as the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the Lebanese Army as well as National Lebanese Resistance units near the ‘blue line’ to stop the illicit Israeli arms transfers.
The recent arrival in southern Turkey and along the northern Syrian border of Blackwater mercenaries is expected to increase the foreign arms flow. Currently using the name Academi (previously known as Xena- Xe Services LLC, Blackwater USA and Blackwater Worldwide) Academi is currently, according to Jane’s Defense Weekly, the largest of the US governments “private security” contractors. Details of its relationship with the US Defense Department and the CIA are classified.
Is there a coherent US policy toward the Syrian crisis?
Secretary of State Clinton has been announcing recently that the U.S. is increasing its “non-lethal support” (i.e. direct shipments as opposed to boots on the ground or ballistic weapons) according to her Congressional liaison office. She also confirmed that Washington is working with its friends and allies to promote more cohesion among the disparate Syrian opposition groups with the aim of producing a new leadership council following meetings scheduled for Doha in the coming weeks.
Photo: Syria: 10/24/12
Examples of US, UK and NATO “non-lethal aid” equipment taken from militia in south and north Syria between 5/2011 and 10/2012.
However, to the consternation of the State Department, General David Petraeus the former US commander of NATO forces in Iraq, now director of the CIA acknowledged, during his senate confirmation hearings. “Non-lethal aid to combatants, including communication equipment, is sometimes more lethal and important than explosive devices due to the logistical advantages they provides on the battlefield.”
In tandem with the US, the UK and several European governments are supplying “non-lethal” aid to the Syrian opposition, including satellite communications equipment according to Syria security sources.
There is also plenty of anecdotal and demonstrative and probative evidence in Syria of human weapons patterned on the “Zarqawi model” which refers to the bloody al Qaeda in Mesopotamia campaign named for its leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi after U.S. troops occupied Iraq.
In a speech this week in Zagreb, Croatia, this week, Secretary of State Clinton insisted that any group seeking to oust President Bashar al-Assad must reject attempts by extremists to “hijack” a legitimate revolution. She added, “There are disturbing reports of heavily armed foreign extremists going into Syria and attempting to take over.” Clinton used her strongest words to date concerning risks that the uprising in Syria could be overtaken by militants who do not seek a democratic replacement or the reforms that the current government claims it is trying to implement. She told her conferees: “We made it clear that the SNC can no longer be viewed as the visible leader of the opposition. They can be part of a larger opposition, but that opposition must include people from inside Syria and others who have a legitimate voice. We also need an opposition that will be on record strongly resisting the efforts by extremists to hijack the Syrian revolution. There are disturbing reports of heavily armed extremists going into Syria and attempting to take over.” Clinton advised her colleagues that the US has become convinced that the SNC does not represent the interests of all ethnic and religious groups in Syria and that it has little legitimacy among on-the-ground activists and fighters, and has done little to stem the infiltration of Islamist extremists into the opposition forces.
Clinton’s language is being interpreted by some as evidence that a post-election Obama Whitehouse, she he win on November, may move toward the Russian, Chinese, and Iranian position and away from, what one Congressional source derisively labeled, “ the view from the Gulf gas stations” i.e. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and some other despotic monarchies.
The intervention in Syria by more than three dozen countries supplying weapons must be stopped. Both sides of the Syrian crisis need to manifest by actions, not just words, a serious commitment to meaningful dialogue. The above noted arms supplying countries, and others off stage, have a solemn obligation to their citizens and to the world community to immediately halt the shipment of arms.
They should, and their people should demand that they do without further delay, honor the words of Isaiah 2:3-5….”and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
Granted, perhaps a cliché and certainly far easier said than done.
Yet, as Oregon’s late great US Senator Wayne Morse used tell audiences around America during the Vietnam War, quoting General George Marshall, “The only way we human beings can win a war is to prevent it.”
It’s time for the international community to end the Syrian crisis diplomatically, stop funneling arms and cash fueling hoped for regime change elements. Instead, they must demand that all the involved parties immediately engage in serious dialogue and settle their differences.
The greatest crimes of human history are made possible by the most colorless human beings. They are the careerists. The bureaucrats. The cynics. They do the little chores that make vast, complicated systems of exploitation and death a reality. They collect and read the personal data gathered on tens of millions of us by the security and surveillance state. They keep the accounts of ExxonMobil, BP and Goldman Sachs. They build or pilot aerial drones. They work in corporate advertising and public relations. They issue the forms. They process the papers. They deny food stamps to some and unemployment benefits or medical coverage to others. They enforce the laws and the regulations. And they do not ask questions.
Good. Evil. These words do not mean anything to them. They are beyond morality. They are there to make corporate systems function. If insurance companies abandon tens of millions of sick to suffer and die, so be it. If banks and sheriff departments toss families out of their homes, so be it. If financial firms rob citizens of their savings, so be it. If the government shuts down schools and libraries, so be it. If the military murders children in Pakistan or Afghanistan, so be it. If commodity speculators drive up the cost of rice and corn and wheat so that they are unaffordable for hundreds of millions of poor across the planet, so be it. If Congress and the courts strip citizens of basic civil liberties, so be it. If the fossil fuel industry turns the earth into a broiler of greenhouse gases that doom us, so be it. They serve the system. The god of profit and exploitation. The most dangerous force in the industrialized world does not come from those who wield radical creeds, whether Islamic radicalism or Christian fundamentalism, but from legions of faceless bureaucrats who claw their way up layered corporate and governmental machines. They serve any system that meets their pathetic quota of needs.
These systems managers believe nothing. They have no loyalty. They are rootless. They do not think beyond their tiny, insignificant roles. They are blind and deaf. They are, at least regarding the great ideas and patterns of human civilization and history, utterly illiterate. And we churn them out of universities. Lawyers. Technocrats. Business majors. Financial managers. IT specialists. Consultants. Petroleum engineers. “Positive psychologists.” Communications majors. Cadets. Sales representatives. Computer programmers. Men and women who know no history, know no ideas. They live and think in an intellectual vacuum, a world of stultifying minutia. They are T.S. Eliot’s “the hollow men,” “the stuffed men.” “Shape without form, shade without colour,” the poet wrote. “Paralysed force, gesture without motion.”
It was the careerists who made possible the genocides, from the extermination of Native Americans to the Turkish slaughter of the Armenians to the Nazi Holocaust to Stalin’s liquidations. They were the ones who kept the trains running. They filled out the forms and presided over the property confiscations. They rationed the food while children starved. They manufactured the guns. They ran the prisons. They enforced travel bans, confiscated passports, seized bank accounts and carried out segregation. They enforced the law. They did their jobs.
Political and military careerists, backed by war profiteers, have led us into useless wars, including World War I, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. And millions followed them. Duty. Honor. Country. Carnivals of death. They sacrifice us all. In the futile battles of Verdun and the Somme in World War I, 1.8 million on both sides were killed, wounded or never found. In July of 1917 British Field Marshal Douglas Haig, despite the seas of dead, doomed even more in the mud of Passchendaele. By November, when it was clear his promised breakthrough at Passchendaele had failed, he jettisoned the initial goal—as we did in Iraq when it turned out there were no weapons of mass destruction and in Afghanistan when al-Qaida left the country—and opted for a simple war of attrition. Haig “won” if more Germans than allied troops died. Death as score card. Passchendaele took 600,000 more lives on both sides of the line before it ended. It is not a new story. Generals are almost always buffoons. Soldiers followed John the Blind, who had lost his eyesight a decade earlier, to resounding defeat at the Battle of Crécy in 1337 during the Hundred Years War. We discover that leaders are mediocrities only when it is too late.
David Lloyd George, who was the British prime minister during the Passchendaele campaign, wrote in his memoirs: “[Before the battle of Passchendaele] the Tanks Corps Staff prepared maps to show how a bombardment which obliterated the drainage would inevitably lead to a series of pools, and they located the exact spots where the waters would gather. The only reply was a peremptory order that they were to ‘Send no more of these ridiculous maps.’ Maps must conform to plans and not plans to maps. Facts that interfered with plans were impertinencies.”
Here you have the explanation of why our ruling elites do nothing about climate change, refuse to respond rationally to economic meltdown and are incapable of coping with the collapse of globalization and empire. These are circumstances that interfere with the very viability and sustainability of the system. And bureaucrats know only how to serve the system. They know only the managerial skills they ingested at West Point or Harvard Business School. They cannot think on their own. They cannot challenge assumptions or structures. They cannot intellectually or emotionally recognize that the system might implode. And so they do what Napoleon warned was the worst mistake a general could make—paint an imaginary picture of a situation and accept it as real. But we blithely ignore reality along with them. The mania for a happy ending blinds us. We do not want to believe what we see. It is too depressing. So we all retreat into collective self-delusion.
In Claude Lanzmann’s monumental documentary film “Shoah,” on the Holocaust, he interviews Filip Müller, a Czech Jew who survived the liquidations in Auschwitz as a member of the “special detail.” Müller relates this story:
“One day in 1943 when I was already in Crematorium 5, a train from Bialystok arrived. A prisoner on the ‘special detail’ saw a woman in the ‘undressing room’ who was the wife of a friend of his. He came right out and told her: ‘You are going to be exterminated. In three hours you’ll be ashes.’ The woman believed him because she knew him. She ran all over and warned to the other women. ‘We’re going to be killed. We’re going to be gassed.’ Mothers carrying their children on their shoulders didn’t want to hear that. They decided the woman was crazy. They chased her away. So she went to the men. To no avail. Not that they didn’t believe her. They’d heard rumors in the Bialystok ghetto, or in Grodno, and elsewhere. But who wanted to hear that? When she saw that no one would listen, she scratched her whole face. Out of despair. In shock. And she started to scream.”
Blaise Pascal wrote in “Pensées,” “We run heedlessly into the abyss after putting something in front of us to stop us from seeing it.”
Hannah Arendt, in writing “Eichmann in Jerusalem,” noted that Adolf Eichmann was primarily motivated by “an extraordinary diligence in looking out for his personal advancement.” He joined the Nazi Party because it was a good career move. “The trouble with Eichmann,” she wrote, “was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal.”
“The longer one listened to him, the more obvious it became that his inability to speak was closely connected with an inability to think, namely, to think from the standpoint of somebody else,” Arendt wrote. “No communication was possible with him, not because he lied but because he was surrounded by the most reliable of all safeguards against words and the presence of others, and hence against reality as such.”
Gitta Sereny makes the same point in her book “Into That Darkness,” about Franz Stangl, the commandant of Treblinka. The assignment to the SS was a promotion for the Austrian policeman. Stangl was not a sadist. He was soft-spoken and polite. He loved his wife and children very much. Unlike most Nazi camp officers, he did not take Jewish women as concubines. He was efficient and highly organized. He took pride in having received an official commendation as the “best camp commander in Poland.” Prisoners were simply objects. Goods. “That was my profession,” he said. “I enjoyed it. It fulfilled me. And yes, I was ambitious about that, I won’t deny it.” When Sereny asked Stangl how as a father he could kill children, he answered that he “rarely saw them as individuals. It was always a huge mass. … [T]hey were naked, packed together, running, being driven with whips. …” He later told Sereny that when he read about lemmings it reminded him of Treblinka.
Christopher Browning’s collection of essays, “The Path to Genocide,” notes that it was the “moderate,” “normal” bureaucrats, not the zealots, who made the Holocaust possible. Germaine Tillion pointed out “the tragic easiness [during the Holocaust] with which ‘decent’ people could become the most callous executioners without seeming to notice what was happening to them.” The Russian novelist Vasily Grossman in his book “Forever Flowing” observed that “the new state did not require holy apostles, fanatic, inspired builders, faithful, devout disciples. The new state did not even require servants—just clerks.”
“The most nauseating type of S.S. were to me personally the cynics who no longer genuinely believed in their cause, but went on collecting blood guilt for its own sake,” wrote Dr. Ella Lingens-Reiner in “Prisoners of Fear,” her searing memoir of Auschwitz. “Those cynics were not always brutal to the prisoners, their behavior changed with their mood. They took nothing seriously—neither themselves nor their cause, neither us nor our situation. One of the worst among them was Dr. Mengele, the Camp Doctor I have mentioned before. When a batch of newly arrived Jews was being classified into those fit for work and those fit for death, he would whistle a melody and rhythmically jerk his thumb over his right or his left shoulder—which meant ‘gas’ or ‘work.’ He thought conditions in the camp rotten, and even did a few things to improve them, but at the same time he committed murder callously, without any qualms.”
These armies of bureaucrats serve a corporate system that will quite literally kill us. They are as cold and disconnected as Mengele. They carry out minute tasks. They are docile. Compliant. They obey. They find their self-worth in the prestige and power of the corporation, in the status of their positions and in their career promotions. They assure themselves of their own goodness through their private acts as husbands, wives, mothers and fathers. They sit on school boards. They go to Rotary. They attend church. It is moral schizophrenia. They erect walls to create an isolated consciousness. They make the lethal goals of ExxonMobil or Goldman Sachs or Raytheon or insurance companies possible. They destroy the ecosystem, the economy and the body politic and turn workingmen and -women into impoverished serfs. They feel nothing. Metaphysical naiveté always ends in murder. It fragments the world. Little acts of kindness and charity mask the monstrous evil they abet. And the system rolls forward. The polar ice caps melt. The droughts rage over cropland. The drones deliver death from the sky. The state moves inexorably forward to place us in chains. The sick die. The poor starve. The prisons fill. And the careerist, plodding forward, does his or her job.
Source: Chris Hedges | Truthdig
The EU’s unilateral sanctions come after the United States targeted Iran with a set of sanctions against the country’s Central Bank and a number of individuals and companies and threatened to penalize the foreign firms and banks which have financial transactions with Iranian counterparts.
The sanctions are not unprecedented and unexpected for the Iranians, as the United States began to cut off its economic deals with Iran since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 which toppled the Washington-backed Shah; however, what is new and surprising is that the United States and its European allies are extraordinarily intensifying the sanctions, tightening the noose around the ordinary Iranians who are unquestionably the innocent and silent victims of the West’s vitriolic animosity with Iran.
Perhaps what the majority of people in different countries think about Iran’s nuclear program which is the main cause of the West’s hostility with Iran is inspired by the mainstream media’s coverage of the developments in the country. After the painful 9/11 attacks which was followed by George W. Bush’s initiation of the War on Terror plan, the corporate media began to disseminate and foster anti-Iranian sentiments as part of their agenda for demonizing the Muslims and Muslim-majority countries. Iran was dubbed as one of the elements of the so-called Axis of Evil by President Bush during his 2002 State of the Union address and a venomous media campaign against Iran was set in motion afterwards.
Aggrandizing the shortcomings and internal problems, frequently accusing the country of violating human rights, propagating the idea that Iran has become an isolated and reclusive country and portraying a distorted and falsified image of Iranian people and their lifestyle constituted the core of Western mainstream media’s coverage of Iran over the past years. Such a biased coverage laid the groundwork for the United States and its allies to put an excessive pressure on Iran, work to further isolate the country, adopt crippling sanctions against her and even drum-beat for a possible military invasion with the final objective of a regime change in Tehran.
President Bush and his successor who came to power with the flaunting and pompous slogan of “change” identically pursued a policy of antagonism with Iran and although the latter had vowed to take up reconciliation and détente with Iran, he exactly imitated what his predecessor has done.
On September 30, 2006, the U.S. Congress ratified the Iran Freedom and Support Act which allocated $10 million to anti-Iranian groups both inside and outside the country who were seeking to overthrow the Iranian government.
On May 27, 2007, Daily Telegraph quoted intelligence sources as reporting that President Bush had given the CIA approval to launch covert “black” operations to achieve regime change in Iran. According to the British paper, Bush had signed an official document endorsing CIA plans for a campaign of propaganda and disinformation intended to destabilize and eventually topple the Islamic Republic government.
Bush’s plan also included covert support for notorious terrorist gangs such as Jundallah and MKO which over the past years have carried out several terrorist operations across Iran, claiming the lives of tens of innocent civilians. The main goal of these cults is to sabotage Iran’s security and pave the way for the United States and its allies to invade Iran and implement their perilous plans for the country.
According to an ABC News report published on May 22, 2007, some former officials in the Bush administration who spoke on the condition of anonymity revealed that the U.S. government had designed plans for manipulating the value of Iran’s currency and damaging its international financial transactions.
They also unveiled that the U.S. government which has been involved in several regime change operations in such countries as Syria, Guatemala, Indonesia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Greece, Chile, Argentina, Afghanistan, Turkey, Poland and Nicaragua since the World War I had authorized a $400 million covert operation to create unrest in Iran, especially following the 2009 presidential election in which the defeated candidates claimed that the results had been rigged.
At the same time, however, the leaders of the United States and the European states who imposed upon Iran a set of relentless biting sanctions hypocritically talk of friendship with the Iranian nation and state that they seek rapprochement and camaraderie with Iran.
In his March 2009 videotaped message to the Iranian people on the occasion of Persian New Year (Nowrouz), the U.S. President Obama adored Persian culture, civilization, arts and literature and overtly cajoled Iranians with the aim of persuading them to confide in the United States and its policies vis-à-vis Iran: ” In particular, I would like to speak directly to the people and leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Nowruz is just one part of your great and celebrated culture. Over many centuries your art, your music, literature and innovation have made the world a better and more beautiful place… Here in the United States our own communities have been enhanced by the contributions of Iranian Americans. We know that you are a great civilization, and your accomplishments have earned the respect of the United States and the world.”
Thereafter, he turned to the leaders of Iran to reach out to them directly: “we have serious differences that have grown over time. My administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran and the international community. This process will not be advanced by threats. We seek instead engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect.”
President Obama appreciated Iranian culture and talked of his commitment to diplomacy and negotiations with Iran; however, by the end of the same year, he authorized the renewal of the long-standing U.S. financial sanctions against Iran, provoking a wave of anger and disappointment among Iranians.
In the following years, President Obama recorded similar videotaped messages on the occasion of Nowrouz, and despite the fact that his tone got unsympathetic over time, he still insisted on his being concerned for the Iranians and their “rights.”
With regards to Iran, the Western politicians, including President Obama, seemingly follow a modus operandi of “divide and rule.” They want to separate the Iranian government and people and pretend that they care for the interests of the Iranians, and at the same time, oppose the policies of the government; a government which they say has long repressed its own people, while the reality proves otherwise.
Now, the gist of Iran-West standoff can be expressed this way: the United States and its allies demand that Iran should give up its nuclear rights and make other concessions. Iran doesn’t accept these demands, calling them illegitimate and beyond its liability. The West doesn’t spare any effort to punish Iran: sanctions, assassination of its nuclear scientists, passing resolutions in the UN Security Council, psychological operations and other punitive measures. Iranians have firmly tolerated the pressures to show that they don’t give in to bullying. The future is unclear and blurred; however, what is certain is that the ones who bear the burden of West’s hostility toward Iran are the ordinary people.
The sanctions have targeted Iran’s medical sector. Aside from the official data which show that many European countries have banned the shipment of different medicines to Iran, my personal observations prove that Iran is direly running out of sensitive medical products, including medicine for psychological patients, those who suffer from various types of cancer, diabetes, hemophilia, thalassemia, multiple sclerosis and heart diseases. I’ve personally encountered patients who needed medicine from countries such as Canada and Belgium, but as a result of the sanctions, they couldn’t find them. Aren’t such diabolical sanctions contrary to the principles of human rights? Why don’t those who preach human rights and democracy take the fact into consideration that banning the export of medicine to a country whose people are in dire need of such products is simply a collective punishment of innocent civilians?
Every year, tens of Iranian citizens are killed in painful air accidents, which is a direct result of the U.S.-engineered sanctions against Iran. According to the U.S. sanctions which were implemented almost 30 years ago, the European aviation companies are not allowed to sell aircrafts to Iran and the aging fleet of Iranian airlines cannot accommodate the growing demand of the people for safe and secure air travels. According to the chancellor of Amir Kabir University of Iran, the country needs at least 600 civilian aircraft, but no country sells Iran such a huge number of aircrafts and the people always travel via Iranian airliners in an atmosphere of trepidation and anxiety.
Overall, what is clear is that the sanctions game started by the U.S. and its European allies has no winner. It simply blackens the image of the Western superpowers in the eye of Iranian people and makes them believe that the United States and its cronies cannot ever be trusted.
It is now pretty much a matter of record that, after World War II, refugees from Europe landed in Palestine and started a massive terrorist blitzkrieg campaign, massacring thousands of Christians and Muslims in their wake. In a vast display of ethnic cleansing similar to what had previously happened in Europe, approximately 500 local towns were destroyed, 15,000 residents of Palestine were killed and 750,000 more were expelled. Local residents of this area (the ones who actually survived, that is) started referring to this premeditated slaughter as “al Nakba” — The Catastrophe.
And a second “Nakba” is apparently now in the works.
According to University of Chicago political science professor John Mearsheimer, “Given the right circumstances – say a war involving Israel that is accompanied by serious Palestinian unrest – Israeli leaders might conclude that they can expel massive numbers of Palestinians from Greater Israel and depend on the lobby to protect them from international criticism and especially from sanctions. We should not underestimate Israel’s willingness to employ such a horrific strategy if the opportunity presents itself.” http://www.silviacattori.net/
Are the land-grabbing neo-cons and faux-Jewish corporatists who now run Israel actually contemplating the instigation of an actual Second Nakba? Holy yikes! Are they seriously actually thinking about starting a second wide-ranging slaughter and ethnic cleansing on the scale of the first Nakba? Perhaps under the cover of a war on Iran? Good grief.
Both strategically and morally, that whole idea sucks eggs.
But then I got an e-mail from a Palestinian friend of mine who lives on the West Bank and he said that his village had just been brutally invaded by a needlessly-large number of highly-armed Israeli neo-con occupation forces.
“During the invasion last night,” wrote my friend, “one of the soldiers stole 1000 Nis (200€) from a moneybox of the youngest brother of my neighbor Mosab. Mosab’s brother had been saving this money for months, little by little from his work as a vegetable farmer and salesman. A laptop was also stolen from the house.
“Throughout the operation the soldiers fired sound grenades, a type of riot control weapon that produces a flash and a loud bang. The sound is sufficient to make the most weathered and well-prepared person flinch in fear and when this weapon is used inside a village at night, it will not only serve to keep people awake but also to bring about memories of past atrocities that the village of Ni’lin has had to live through.
“Many villagers came out of their houses to protest the brutality of the Israeli army and were met with tear gas and more sound bombs. The tear gas was fired straight at civilian houses which caused dozens children to suffer from tear gas inhalation. Live ammunition was also used by the Israeli soldiers as a scare tactic.”
And, right at this very moment, this type of malicious military activity is going on constantly all over the West Bank. Constantly. Night and day. Occupation armies and armed settlers constantly swoop down upon Palestinian citizens night and day. No one is safe. And there are all-too-many instances where the occupation armies shoot Palestinian children, shop-keepers and farmers, steal Palestinian goods, defecate in Palestinian homes and piss in their water supplies. To say the least.
Sure, maybe some day another full-scale blitzkrieg-style Nakba invasion of armed soldiers, settlers and thugs may suddenly descend en mass upon occupied Palestine and expel every single Christian and Muslim Palestinian in “Greater Isreal” to the other side of the Jordan River, into Lebanon and Syria, or over into Egypt. And this would be dramatic as hell and make the front pages of all the newspapers. Sure.
But in the meantime, another “Second Nakba” has actually already begun: The Nakba by a Thousand Cuts.
According to Mearsheimer, “There are now about 480,000 settlers in the Occupied Territories and a huge infrastructure of connector and bypass roads… Between 1993 and 2000, Israel confiscated 40,000 acres of Palestinian land, constructed 250 miles of connector and bypass roads, doubled the number of settlers, and built 30 new settlements…. [And since then,] the Israeli prime minister has not only refused to stop building the 2500 housing units that were under construction in the West Bank, but just to make it clear to Obama who was boss, in late June 2009, he authorized the building of 300 new homes in the West Bank. Netanyahu refused to even countenance any limits on settlement building in East Jerusalem, which is supposed to be the capital of a Palestinian state.”
I could write more about this death by a thousand cuts but what good would it do. The Second Nakba has already begun. And nobody seems to care — except for its victims. History is repeating itself here. This is so much like Germany in 1933 when corporatists started establishing prisons-for-profit and nobody cared what happened to the Jews. And it’s also like South Africa in 1962 when corporatists took control of establishing Bantustans and nobody cared what happened to the Blacks.
And will this also be like America in a few more years, after corporatists have also seized absolute power here — and nobody will care what happens to us either?
Here’s another example of a forced population displacement that nobody cared about, one that was overseen by Britain and the United States (not by Nazis), involved 13 million Europeans and cost approximately 500,000 to 2,000,000 lives, including the lives of 7,000 children under the age of five:
According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, “Between 1945 and 1950, Europe witnessed the largest episode of forced migration, and perhaps the single greatest movement of population, in human history. Between 12 million and 14 million German-speaking civilians—the overwhelming majority of whom were women, old people, and children under 16—were forcibly ejected from their places of birth in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, and what are today the western districts of Poland.
“As The New York Times noted in December 1945, the number of people the Allies proposed to transfer in just a few months was about the same as the total number of all the immigrants admitted to the United States since the beginning of the 20th century. They were deposited among the ruins of Allied-occupied Germany to fend for themselves as best they could. The number who died as a result of starvation, disease, beatings, or outright execution is unknown, but conservative estimates suggest that at least 500,000 people lost their lives in the course of the operation.” http://chronicle.com/article/
Are we having fun yet?
I was recently thinking about all the wars that America has been in over time, and then started listing them. Let’s see. There’s been America’s various wars on the Middle East, that Korean “police action”, World War I, World War II, the American Civil War, Vietnam, the Central American Wars, the Cold War and also various covert wars where other countries did the fighting but Washington supplied the cash — such as the violent and tragic fall of democratic governments in the Congo and Iran.
But when we consider the Big Picture, did any of these wars ever even make even the slightest difference — other than to make innumerable American citizens poorer and/or deader?
Even World War II, which was supposed to keep us safe from corporatism? But did it? Now that a kinder, gentler form of corporatism currently runs the world? Or what about World War I, which was supposed to keep us safe for democracy? Under Citizens United, is our democracy now all that safe? Or take Vietnam, which was supposed to keep us safe from China — the landlord who now holds our mortgage?
Did any of these wars make any difference at all? Other than to kill approximately one billion people and waste trillions of dollars and destroy untold resources — which we now desperately need? Not really. And nobody had fun during any of them either.
Hitler is 123, and he is alive and well. The Führer is going strong not because a vast neo-Nazi conspiracy is about to take over the Western world, kill the Jews, expel the Muslims and make April 20 the Day of Aryan Rebirth, but because he is an all-time favorite of the neoconservative-neoliberal duopoly at home and abroad.
When you advocate bombing a faraway nation of which we know little, call its leader a new Hitler (and, by extension, condemn the failure to bomb as a new “Munich”). When you want to discredit domestic opponents of migratory population replacement or abortion, compare them to Hitler. When you want to demonize the European civilization, Christian religion, national identity, or traditional culture, Hitler is ready. Six decades after the phenomenon was defined by Leo Strauss as reductio ad Hitlerum, the practice is more widely spread than ever. If you dislike a person/policy/idea, find a Hitlerian point of contact and thus prove that the PPI in question is a priori bad, mad and worthy of criminalization.
The final corollary of the concept is that we are all potential Hitlers, and only by vigilantly guarding against deviant thoughts (“I like Americans better than Somalis”), emotions (“I enjoy the Master Singersmore than Porgy & Bess”) and practices (“I enjoy walking my German Shepherd in the Bavarian Alps”) can we protect ourselves from the lure of the inner Adolf.
There are literally thousands of offerings to illustrate the syndrome, starting with A for AHMADINEJAD…
- Newt Gingrich calls Iran’s president a new Hitler, says that he is as big a threat to global security as Adolf Hitler was in the 1930s.
- In interview (April 2009), acting Israeli prime minister Olmert said the Iranian president “speaks as Hitler did in his time …”
- U.S. Senator compares Ahmadinejad to Hitler and makes fun of his name.
- Mitt Romney likened Ahmadinejad to Hitler in a speech to Jewish university.
- Charles Krauthammer in The Washington Post on “finishing Hitler’s work”: “His successors now reside in Tehran… Hitler was only slightly more direct when he announced seven months before invading Poland that, if there was another war, ‘the result will be . . . the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe.’ … When Iran’s mullahs acquire their coveted nukes in the next few years, the number of Jews in Israel will just be reaching 6 million. Never again?”
One-hundred twenty-three years after Hitler’s birth, an attempt to advance towards normalization of his person and legacy is both possible and necessary. It need not and must not end up either in trivializing his grotesque record or in succumbing to the temptations of the historian’s prejudices. Perhaps a barrier will always separate us and him, but the effort is intellectually and morally legitimate.
It cannot be done for as long as he is alive and well, thanks to those who profess to abhor him. On current form the world deserves him. Many happy returns, Adi!
The Holy Triumvirate — The United States, NATO, and the European Union — or an approved segment thereof, can usually get what they want. They wanted Saddam Hussein out, and soon he was swinging from a rope. They wanted the Taliban ousted from power, and, using overwhelming force, that was achieved rather quickly. They wanted Moammar Gaddafi’s rule to come to an end, and before very long he suffered a horrible death. Jean-Bertrand Aristide was democratically elected, but this black man who didn’t know his place was sent into distant exile by the United States and France in 2004. Iraq and Libya were the two most modern, educated and secular states in the Middle East; now all four of these countries could qualify as failed states.
These are some of the examples from the past decade of how the Holy Triumvirate recognizes no higher power and believes, literally, that they can do whatever they want in the world, to whomever they want, for as long as they want, and call it whatever they want, like “humanitarian intervention”. The 19th- and 20th-century colonialist-imperialist mentality is alive and well in the West.
Next on their agenda: the removal of Bashar al-Assad of Syria. As with Gaddafi, the ground is being laid with continual news reports — from CNN to al Jazeera — of Assad’s alleged barbarity, presented as both uncompromising and unprovoked. After months of this media onslaught who can doubt that what’s happening in Syria is yet another of those cherished Arab Spring “popular uprisings” against a “brutal dictator” who must be overthrown? And that the Assad government is overwhelmingly the cause of the violence.
Assad actually appears to have a large measure of popularity, not only in Syria, but elsewhere in the Middle East. This includes not just fellow Alawites, but Syria’s two million Christians and no small number of Sunnis. Gaddafi had at least as much support in Libya and elsewhere in Africa. The difference between the two cases, at least so far, is that the Holy Triumvirate bombed and machine-gunned Libya daily for seven months, unceasingly, crushing the pro-government forces, as well as Gaddafi himself, and effecting the Triumvirate’s treasured “regime change”. Now, rampant chaos, anarchy, looting and shooting, revenge murders, tribal war, militia war, religious war, civil war, the most awful racism against the black population, loss of their cherished welfare state, and possible dismemberment of the country into several mini-states are the new daily life for the Libyan people. The capital city of Tripoli is “wallowing in four months of uncollected garbage” because the landfill is controlled by a faction that doesn’t want the trash of another faction.1 Just imagine what has happened to the country’s infrastructure. This may be what Syria has to look forward to if the Triumvirate gets its way, although the Masters of the Universe undoubtedly believe that the people of Libya should be grateful to them for their “liberation”.
As to the current violence in Syria, we must consider the numerous reports of forces providing military support to the Syrian rebels — the UK, France, the US, Turkey, Israel, Qatar, the Gulf states, and everyone’s favorite champion of freedom and democracy, Saudi Arabia; with Syria claiming to have captured some 14 French soldiers; plus individual jihadists and mercenaries from Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Libya, et al, joining the anti-government forces, their number including al-Qaeda veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who are likely behind the car bombs in an attempt to create chaos and destabilize the country. This may mark the third time the United States has been on the same side as al-Qaeda, adding to Afghanistan and Libya.
Stratfor, the private and conservative American intelligence firm with high-level connections, reported that “most of the opposition’s more serious claims have turned out to be grossly exaggerated or simply untrue.” Opposition groups including the Syrian National Council, the Free Syrian Army and the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights began disseminating “claims that regime forces besieged Homs and imposed a 72-hour deadline for Syrian defectors to surrender themselves and their weapons or face a potential massacre.” That news made international headlines. Stratfor’s investigation, however, found “no signs of a massacre,” and declared that “opposition forces have an interest in portraying an impending massacre, hoping to mimic the conditions that propelled a foreign military intervention in Libya.” Stratfor added that any suggestions of massacres are unlikely because the Syrian “regime has calibrated its crackdowns to avoid just such a scenario. Regime forces have been careful to avoid the high casualty numbers that could lead to an intervention based on humanitarian grounds.”2
Reva Bhalla, Stratfor’s Director of Analysis, reported in a December 2011 email on a meeting she attended at the Pentagon about Syria: “After a couple hours of talking, they said without saying that SOF [Special Operation Forces] teams (presumably from US, UK, France, Jordan, Turkey) are already on the ground focused on recce [reconnaissance] missions and training opposition forces.” We know of Bhalla’s comments thanks to the 5 million Stratfor emails obtained by the Internet hacker group Anonymous in December and passed on to Wikileaks.3
Human Rights Watch has reported that both Syrian government security forces and Syria’s armed rebels have committed serious human rights abuses, including kidnapings, torture, and executions. But only the Holy Triumvirate can get away with the sanctions they love to impose. Assad’s wife is now banned from traveling to EU countries and any assets she may have there are frozen. Same for Assad’s mother, sister and sister-in-law, as well as eight of his government ministers. Assad himself received the same treatment last May.4Because the Triumvirate can.
On March 25, the US and Turkish governments announced that they were discussing sending non-lethal aid to the Syrian opposition, implying quite clearly that until then they had not been engaged in such activity.5 But according to a US embassy cable, revealed by Wikileaks, since at least 2006 the United States has been funding political opposition groups in Syria as well as the London-based satellite TV channel, Barada TV, run by Syrian exiles, that beams anti-government programming into the country. The cable further stated that Syrian authorities “would undoubtedly view any U.S. funds going to illegal political groups as tantamount to supporting regime change.”
Regime change in Syria has been on the neo-conservative wish list since at least 2002 when John Bolton, Undersecretary of State under George W. Bush, came up with a project to simultaneously break up Libya and Syria. He called the two states along with Cuba “The Axis Of Evil”. On a FOX News appearance in 2011 Bolton said that the United States should have overthrown the Syrian government right after they overthrew Saddam Hussein. Amongst Syria’s crimes have been their close relations with Iran, Hezbollah (in Lebanon), the Palestinian resistance, and Russia, and their failure to conclude a peace treaty with Israel, unlike Jordan and Egypt; all this constituting evidence to the Holy Triumvirate of Syria, like Aristide, being “uppity”.
The clinical megalomania of the Holy Triumvirate can scarcely be exaggerated. And never prosecuted.
A closing word from Cui Tiankai, Chinese vice foreign minister for United States affairs:
The US has the strongest military in the world and spends more than any other country. But the US always feels unsafe or insecure about other countries. … I suggest the United States spend more time thinking about how to make other countries feel less worried about the United States.6
President Obama’s Accomplishments
Last month, Alan S. Hoffman, an American professor from Washington University in St. Louis, was forbidden by the US Treasury Department to travel to Cuba to give classes in a course on biomaterials.7
At the same time, the State Department refused to grant two Cuban diplomats in Washington, DC permission to travel to New York City to speak at The Left Forum, the largest annual gathering of the left in the United States, which this year attracted over 5,000 people.8
The State Department has also been occupied recently with preventing Cuba from being invited to the Summit of the Americas in Colombia in April.9
And that’s just the past month.
I mention all this to keep in mind the next time President Obama or one of his supporters lists US relations with Cuba as one of his accomplishments.
And I still cannot go to Cuba legally.
Another claim the Obamabots are fond of making to defend their man is that he’s abolished torture. That sounds very nice, but there’s no good reason to accept it at face value. Shortly after Obama’s inauguration, both he and Leon Panetta, the new Director of the CIA, explicitly stated that “rendition” was not being ended. As the Los Angeles Times reported: “Under executive orders issued by Obama recently, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the United States.”10
The English translation of “cooperate” is “torture”. Rendition is equal to torture. There was no other reason to take prisoners to Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Egypt, Jordan, Kenya, Somalia, Kosovo, or the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, to name some of the known torture centers frequented by the home of the brave. Kosovo and Diego Garcia — both of which house very large and secretive American military bases — if not some of the other locations, may well still be open for torture business. The same for Guantánamo. Moreover, the executive order concerning torture, issued January 22, 2009 — “Executive Order 13491 — Ensuring Lawful Interrogations” — leaves loopholes, such as being applicable only “in any armed conflict”. Thus, torture by Americans outside environments of “armed conflict”, which is where much torture in the world happens anyway, is not prohibited. And what about torture in a “counter-terrorism” environment?
One of Mr. Obama’s orders required the CIA to use only the interrogation methods outlined in a revised Army Field Manual. However, using the Army Field Manual as a guide to prisoner treatment and interrogation still allows solitary confinement, perceptual or sensory deprivation, sleep deprivation, the induction of fear and hopelessness, mind-altering drugs, environmental manipulation such as temperature and perhaps noise, and possibly stress positions and sensory overload.
After Panetta was questioned by a Senate panel, the New York Times wrote that he had “left open the possibility that the agency could seek permission to use interrogation methods more aggressive than the limited menu that President Obama authorized under new rules … Mr. Panetta also said the agency would continue the Bush administration practice of ‘rendition’ — picking terrorism suspects off the street and sending them to a third country. But he said the agency would refuse to deliver a suspect into the hands of a country known for torture or other actions “that violate our human values.”11
Just as no one in the Bush and Obama administrations has been punished in any way for war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and the other countries they waged illegal war against, no one has been punished for torture. And, it could be added, no American bankster has been punished for their indispensable role in the world-wide financial torture. What a marvelously forgiving land is America. This, however, does not apply to Julian Assange and Bradley Manning.
In the last days of the Bush White House, Michael Ratner, professor at Columbia Law School and former president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, pointed out:
The only way to prevent this from happening again is to make sure that those who were responsible for the torture program pay the price for it. I don’t see how we regain our moral stature by allowing those who were intimately involved in the torture programs to simply walk off the stage and lead lives where they are not held accountable.12
I’d like at this point to remind my dear readers of the words of the “Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment”, which was drafted by the United Nations in 1984, came into force in 1987, and ratified by the United States in 1994. Article 2, section 2 of the Convention states: “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”
Such marvelously clear, unequivocal, and principled language, to set a single standard for a world that makes it increasingly difficult for one to feel proud of humanity. We cannot slide back.
From a document found at Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan after his assassination last May: A call to kill President Obama because “Obama is the head of infidelity and killing him automatically will make Biden take over the presidency. … Biden is totally unprepared for that post, which will lead the U.S. into a crisis.13
So … it would appear that the man America loved to hate and fear was no more knowledgeable of how United States foreign policy works than is the average American. What difference in the War on Terror — for better or for worse — against the likes of bin Laden and his al Qaeda followers could there have been over the past three years if Joe Biden had been the president? Biden was an outspoken supporter of the war against Iraq and is every bit the pro-Israel fanatic that Obama is. In his 35 years in the US Senate Biden avidly supported every American war of aggression including the attacks on Grenada in 1983, Panama in 1989, Iraq in 1991, Yugoslavia in 1999 and Afghanistan in 2001. Whatever was Osama bin Laden thinking?
And whatever was Joe Biden thinking when he recently said the following after hosting China’s presumptive next leader Xi Jinping in a visit to the United States?
America holds at least one key economic advantage over China. Because China’s authoritarian government represses its own citizens, they don’t think freely or innovate. “Why have they not become [one of] the most innovative countries in the world? Why is there a need to steal our intellectual property? Why is there a need to have a business hand over its trade secrets to have access to a market of a billion, three hundred million people? Because they’re not innovating.” Noting that China and similar countries produce many engineers and scientists but few innovators, Biden said, “It’s impossible to think different in a country where you can’t speak freely. It’s impossible to think different when you have to worry what you put on the Internet will either be confiscated or you will be arrested. It’s impossible to think different where orthodoxy reigns. That’s why we remain the most innovative country in the world.”14
Holy Cold War, Batman! This is exactly the kind of stuff we were told about the Soviet Union. For years and years. For decades. Then came Sputnik, the first artificial satellite to be put into Earth’s orbit. It was launched into an Earth orbit by the Soviet Union on October 4, 1957. The unanticipated announcement of Sputnik 1′s success precipitated the Sputnik crisis in the United States and ignited the Space Race. The USSR’s launch of Sputnik spurred the United States to create the Advanced Research Projects Agency to regain a technological lead. Not only did the launch of Sputnik spur America to action in the space race, it also led directly to the creation of NASA. 15
- Washington Post, April 1, 2012
- Huffington Post, December 19, 2011
- See the document on WikiLeaks
- Washington Post, March 24, 2012
- Ibid., March 26, 2012
- Ibid., January 10, 2012
- Prensa Latina (Cuba), March 18, 2012
- See the video description on Cuba’s UN Ambassador at Left Forum ’12
- BBC News, “Ecuador to boycott Americas summit over Cuba exclusion“, April 3, 2012
- Los Angeles Times, February 1, 2009
- New York Times, February 6, 2009
- Associated Press, November 17, 2008
- Washington Post, March 16, 2012
- Ibid., March 1, 2012
- Wikipedia entry for Sputnik 1
On March 15, over 1,500 beekeepers and their allies marched thru the streets of Warsaw, depositing thousands of dead bees on the steps of the Ministry of Agriculture, in protest of genetically modified foods and their requisite pesticides which are killing bees, moths and other agriculturally-beneficial insects around the globe.
Later that day the Minister of Agriculture, Marek Sawicki, announced plans to ban MON810, which has becomeineffective at deterring pests in the US.
GM crops and the pesticides used with them have led to a host of problems (itemized here), including the development of new pathogens. One is associated with spontaneous abortion in cattle and another is responsible for massive methane foaming on manure lagoons which explode, killing thousands of animals in the US since 2001.
The Polish Beekeepers Association organized the protest, joining forces with International Coalition to Protect the Polish Countryside (ICPPC) and the Coalition for a GMO Free Poland. Targeting Monsanto’s MON810 GM corn in particular, they also called for a complete ban on all GM crops and harmful pesticides.
In 2008, the Polish Parliament banned GM feed, including both the planting and importing of GM crops. “Despite this progressive step,” reports Food Travels, “the European Commission has refused to accept regional bans on GMOs, keeping Polish farmers, producers, and activists on the offensive.”
Regardless, says the ICPPC, “None of the nine European Union countries that have already prohibited MON 810 did so by asking the permission of the EU.”
Beekeepers dressed in their traditional working uniforms and ran their hive smoke guns as they marched. Some wore yellow jackets with the misattributed quote of Albert Einstein warning that if bees were to die, humanity would soon suffer the same fate. Though he did not say it, it’s true. Most food crops rely on bees for pollination.
Others wore a variety of original costumes, sported signs and banners and carried bee-like objects to draw attention to the plight of these all-important pollinators. More pictures at Stop GMO Festival.
The ICPPC is asking Polish residents to write Minister of Agriculture Marek Sawicki, demanding that he implement an immediate moratorium on GM crops, without waiting for EU approval:
tel.: 0048 226231510; fax: 0048 226231788
The Organic Consumers Assn. collected info about other actions around the planet during the Shut Down Monsanto Days of Action last week, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Italy, Greece, Romania and, of course, the US.
On Jan. 26, 2012, the European Union and 22 member states signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced. They have now joined the US and seven other nations that signed the treaty last October.
Though initiated by the US, Japan is the official depository of the treaty.
Removal of the Three Strikes clause, in which users accused of three counts of piracy would be barred from the Internet, paved the way for the EU to adopt ACTA last month.
Related to ACTA, a chapter in the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) “would have state signatories adopt even more restrictive copyright measures than ACTA,” reports the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Both ACTA and TPP were developed without public input and outside international trade groups, like the World Trade Organization and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Leaked cables published by Wikileaks in 2009 exposed early drafts of ACTA, resulting in a firestorm of controversy. Those cables, coupled with later releases, showed that ACTA negotiations began in 2006 and were controversial even to participating states. An historical summary of the treaty’s progress through December can be found here.
ACTA Violates Magna Carta and US Constitution
Like PIPA and SOPA, two domestic internet censorship bills that prompted major websites to blacken their name or website in a Jan. 18th protest, ACTA allows accusers of copyright infringement to bypass judicial review.
Please support my work by reading the full piece at Activist Post. Thanks!