Often a phenomenon of bad marriages, “selective deafness” is when one hears only what is convenient. The same failing manifests itself in government when politicians and judges hear the Constitution talk only when it sings their tune. Worse still, sometimes these people behave as if the document says things it doesn’t. This is the equivalent of hearing things.
And Kansas governor Sam Brownback heard something recently. He received a letter from Attorney General Eric Holder stating that Kansas’ newly enacted legislation prohibiting government agents from enforcing federal gun laws in the state “directly conflicts with federal law and is therefore unconstitutional.” Unconstitutional, Eric? My, how antebellum of you.
Meanwhile, the South Carolina House just passed a law criminalizing the enforcement of ObamaCare within its state, a move that critics will also attack with talk of the Supremacy Clause.
Speaking of supremacy, AG Holder also told Brownback that the feds would litigate if necessary “to prevent the State of Kansas from interfering with the activities of federal officials enforcing federal law,” which means that the case would end up before the Supreme Court.
So now the administration that created ObamaCare, refuses to enforce immigration law, illegally bypassed the Senate to make recess appointments, and has a DOJ that won’t offer whites voting-rights protections cites constitutionalism in defense of its agenda. This is a bit like serial-killing abortionist Kermit Gosnell seeking to avoid the death penalty by preaching the sanctity of life.
For Brownback’s part, he defended Kansas’ law by pointing out that the right to bear arms is enshrined not only in the US Constitution but also the Kansas Bill of Rights. This is true, but as Cicero learned 2000 years ago and hate-speech apparatchiks insist today, the truth isn’t always a defense. And the truth is, Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore. We now live in a place where the rule of law has been supplanted by the rule of lawyers.
G.K. Chesterton once noted that “[t]here are only two ways of governing: by a rule and by a ruler.” We should note that in our nation it increasingly is the latter and that the pretense of constitutionality is now often used as a pretext for unconstitutional designs. The contemporary left’s attitude is much like that of the Jim Carrey lawyer character in Liar Liar who, subject to a spell that precluded his lying for 24 hours, responded to a judge’s question about why he objected to an argument in court by saying “Because it’s devastating to my case!” While the left is never that honest, their definition of a proper legal argument is similar: whatever works for them at the moment. Unfortunately, they have also managed to appoint many judges who work for them.
Thus, when leftists such as Eric Holder say, “We’ll see you in court,” our response should be, “I’ll see your court and raise you a state executive branch.” After all, how else do you respond when dealing with a stacked-deck Supreme Court that, using the greasiest of lawyer-craft, rubber stamps blatantly unconstitutional ObamaCare? How can the High Court be ascribed deific infallibility when it reads the same document in different times and draws different conclusions?
First remember here that the Supreme Court is only meant to be supreme among courts. And what of judicial review, the principle that courts shall be the ultimate arbiter of the Constitution’s meaning for all branches of government?
It is found nowhere in the Constitution.
It originated with the 1803 Marbury v. Madison decision in which Chief Justice John Marshall declared the right for the Court.
In other words, the Supreme Court was given big-kahuna powers by…the Supreme Court. So George Washington refuses to be made king, and shortly afterwards, like Napoleon crowning himself emperor, the Court makes itself an oligarchy. And we abide by this…why?
If thus characterizing the Court smacks of typical modern hyperbole, note that Thomas Jefferson warned that an oligarchy is precisely what the institution would become if judicial review were accepted. He said about the branches of government that it wasn’t correct to give “one of them alone, the right to prescribe rules for the government of the others…” and that if Justice Marshall’s opinion held sway, “then indeed is our constitution a complete felo de se” — this means a suicide pact.
Yet there is an even larger point. I am a staunch constitutionalist, but this is much like saying you’re an avid boxer: you can only indulge your passion with the cooperation of others. If your opponents refuse to abide by Queensbury rules, “boxing” becomes impossible as you’re reduced to a no-holds-barred, outlaw fight. And then insistence on unilaterally abiding by the rules only ensures painful defeat. Likewise, what happens when you play by constitutional rules despite your opponents’ subscribing to no-holds-barred, outlaw governance?
The point is that our constitution is the contract the American people have with one another. But when a party subject to a contract repeatedly violates its terms for the purposes of benefitting itself and disadvantaging the other parties, that contract is rendered null and void. For it has then become a suicide pact — especially for those who insist on fighting fair with barbarians.
This can be illuminated further by expanding on the boxing analogy, with the rules of boxing being the Constitution, your opponent representing the feds’ interests, boxing’s ruling body being the legislature, and the ringside judges being the Court. While the ruling body makes the rules, the judges’ role is to simply apply them, and your opponent has an obligation to follow them. But what if your opponent consistently violates them to gain an advantage? What happens when the judges, operating with an idea that the rules are “living,” only apply them in a way that suits whatever rooting interest they have at the time? Furthermore, what if your opponent has a majority of the judges in his pocket and they will ensure his victory? You’d have to be punchy to even step into that ring.
A prerequisite for any civilized endeavor — be it a game or government — is the necessary degree of civility on the part of those involved. Barring this, the wise move is to walk away and, in no uncertain terms, serve notice that you won’t play until there is agreement to follow the rules. And if your opponents are so intent on domination that they follow you outside the ring to fight, then you know it’s a back-alley brawl and proceed accordingly. Remember that when people will yield to neither reason nor law, there is only one thing left that can make them yield.
What we often forget when preaching constitutionalism is that the principle is conditional. As our second president John Adams explained, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” “Moral and religious” describe neither the leftists controlling our federal government nor those voting them into power. So love it though we may, our constitution is no more suited to much of modern America than it is to the Taliban. The sooner we accept this, the sooner we’ll free ourselves from the shackles of the left’s selective law just as it long ago freed itself from the guide rails of all law.
The lifeless bodies of Afghan children lay on the ground before their funeral ceremony, after a NATO airstrike killed several Afghan civilians, including ten children – Sunday, April 7, 2013. (AP Photo/Naimatullah Karyab)
An Associated Press photograph brought the horror of little children lying dead outside of their home to an American Audience. At least 10 Afghan children and some of their mothers were struck down by an airstrike on their extended family household by order of President Barack Obama. He probably decided on what his aides describe as the routine weekly “Terror Tuesday” at the White House. On that day, Mr. Obama typically receives the advice about which “militants” should live or die thousands of miles away from drones or aircraft. Even if households far from war zones are often destroyed in clear violation of the laws of war, the president is not deterred.
These Obama airstrikes are launched knowing that very often there is “collateral damage,” that is a form of “so sorry terrorism.” How can the president explain the vaporization of a dozen pre-teen Afghan boys collecting firewood for their families on a hillside? The local spotter-informants must have been disoriented by all those $100 bills in rewards. Imagine a direct strike killing and injuring scores of people in a funeral procession following a previous fatal strike that was the occasion of this processional mourning. Remember the December 2009 Obama strike on an alleged al-Qaida training camp in Yemen, using tomahawk missiles and – get this – cluster bombs, that killed 14 women and 21 children. Again and again “so sorry terrorism” ravages family households far from the battlefields.
If this is a war, why hasn’t Congress declared war under Article 1, Sec. 8 of the U.S. Constitution? The 2001 Congressional Authorization to Use Military Force is not an open-ended authorization for the president. It was restricted to targeting only nations, organizations or persons that are determined to have been implicated in the 9/11 massacres, or harbored complicit organizations or persons.
For several years, White House officials, including ret. General James Jones, have declared that there is no real operational al-Qaeda left in Afghanistan to harbor anyone. The Pakistani Taliban is in conflict with the Pakistani government. The Afghan Taliban is in brutal conflict with the Afghanistan government and wants to expel U.S. forces as their members view occupying-invaders, just as their predecessors did when they expelled the Soviet invaders. The Taliban represent no imminent threat to the U.S.
President Obama’s ambassador to Pakistan, Cameron P. Munter, used to complain to his colleagues about the CIA’s drone attacks saying “he didn’t realize his main job was to kill people.” He knew how such attacks by whining drones, hovering 24/7 over millions of frightened people and their terrified children produce serious backlashes that fester for years.
Even a loyalist such as William M. Daley, Mr. Obama’s chief of staff in 2011, observed that the Obama kill list presents less and less significant pursuits. “One guy gets knocked off, and the guy’s driver, who’s No. 21, becomes 20?” Daley said, describing the internal discussion. “At what point are you just filling the bucket with numbers?”
Yet this unlawful killing by a seemingly obsessed Obama, continues and includes anyone in the vicinity of a “suspect” whose name isn’t even known ( that are called “signature strikes”), or mistakes, like the recent aerial killings of numerous Pakistani soldiers and four Afghan policemen – considered our allies. The drone kill list goes on and on – over 3000 is the official fatality count, not counting injuries.
In a few weeks, The Nation magazine will issue a major report on U.S.-caused civilian casualties in Afghanistan that should add new information.
Now switch the scene. The president, filled with memories of what his secret drone directives as prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner have done to so many children, in so many places, traveled on Monday to Newtown, Connecticut for the second time. He commiserated with the parents and relatives of the 20 children and six adults slain by a lone gunman. Here he became the compassionate president, with words and hugs.
What must be going through his mind as he sees the rows of 10 Afghan little children and their parents blown apart in that day’s New York Times? How can the president justify this continued military occupation for what is a civil war? No wonder a majority of the American people want out of Afghanistan, even without a close knowledge of the grisly and ugly things going on there in our name that are feeding the seething hatred of Obama’s war.
Sometime after 2016 when Barack Obama starts writing his lucrative autobiographical recollections, there may be a few pages where he explains how he endured this double life ordering so-called precision attacks that kill many innocent children and their mothers and fathers while mourning domestic mass killings in the U.S. and advocating gun controls. As a constitutional law teacher, he may wonder why there have been no “gun controls” on his lawless, out-of-control presidency and his reckless attacks that only expanded the number of al-Qaeda affiliates wreaking havoc in Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Mali, North Africa and elsewhere.
Al-Qaeda of Iraq is now merging with an affiliate called “al-Nusra” in Syria that will give Obama more futile exercises on Terror Tuesdays. The CIA
calls the reaction to such operations “blowback” because the unintended consequences undermine our long-term national security.
Obama is not like the official criminal recidivist, ex-Vice President Dick Cheney, who misses no chance to say he has no regrets. Obama worries even as he greatly escalates the aerial attacks started by George W. Bush. In his State of the Union speech he called for a “legal and policy framework” to guide “our counterterrorism operations,” so that “no one should just take my word that we’re doing things the right way.” Granted, this is a good cover for his derelictions, but it probably reflects that he also needs some restraint. Last year he told CNN it was “something you have to struggle with.”
Not that our abdicatory Congress would ever take him up on his offer for such legal guidance should he ever submit a proposed framework. Nor would Congress move to put an end to secret laws, secret criteria for targeting, indefinite imprisonment, no due process, even for American citizens, secret cover-ups of illegal outsourcing to contracting corporations and enact other preventive reforms.
Mr. Obama recognized in his CNN interview that “it’s very easy to slip into a situation in which you end up bending rules thinking that the ends always justify the means. That’s not who we are as a country.”
Unfortunately, however, that’s what he has done as a president.
Unless the American people come to realize that a president must be subject to the rule of law and our Constitution, our statutes and treaties, every succeeding president will push the deficit-financed lawlessness further until the inevitable blowback day of reckoning. That is the fate of all empires.
Source: Ralph Nader | ICH
Would you believe that the United States tried to do something that was not nice against Hugo Chávez?
In a secret US cable to the State Department, dated November 9, 2006, and recently published online by WikiLeaks, former US ambassador to Venezuela, William Brownfield, outlines a comprehensive plan to destabilize the government of the late President Hugo Chávez. The cable begins with a Summary:
During his 8 years in power, President Chavez has systematically dismantled the institutions of democracy and governance. The USAID/OTI program objectives in Venezuela focus on strengthening democratic institutions and spaces through non-partisan cooperation with many sectors of Venezuelan society.
USAID/OTI = United States Agency for International Development/Office of Transition Initiatives. The latter is one of the many euphemisms that American diplomats use with each other and the world – They say it means a transition to “democracy”. What it actually means is a transition from the target country adamantly refusing to cooperate with American imperialist grand designs to a country gladly willing (or acceding under pressure) to cooperate with American imperialist grand designs.
OTI supports the Freedom House (FH) “Right to Defend Human Rights” program with $1.1 million. Simultaneously through Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI), OTI has also provided 22 grants to human rights organizations.
Freedom House is one of the oldest US government conduits for transitioning to “democracy”; to a significant extent it equates “democracy” and “human rights” with free enterprise. Development Alternatives Inc. is the organization that sent Alan Gross to Cuba on a mission to help implement the US government’s operation of regime change.
OTI speaks of working to improve “the deteriorating human rights situation in” Venezuela. Does anyone know of a foreign government with several millions of dollars to throw around who would like to improve the seriously deteriorating human rights situation in the United States? They can start with the round-the-clock surveillance and the unconscionable entrapment of numerous young “terrorists” guilty of thought crimes.
“OTI partners are training NGOs [non-governmental organizations] to be activists and become more involved in advocacy.”
Now how’s that for a self-given license to fund and get involved in any social, economic or political activity that can sabotage any program of the Chávez government and/or make it look bad? The US ambassador’s cable points out that:
OTI has directly reached approximately 238,000 adults through over 3000 forums, workshops and training sessions delivering alternative values and providing opportunities for opposition activists to interact with hard-core Chavistas, with the desired effect of pulling them slowly away from Chavismo. We have supported this initiative with 50 grants totaling over $1.1 million.
“Another key Chavez strategy,” the cable continues, “is his attempt to divide and polarize Venezuelan society using rhetoric of hate and violence. OTI supports local NGOs who work in Chavista strongholds and with Chavista leaders, using those spaces to counter this rhetoric and promote alliances through working together on issues of importance to the entire community.”
This is the classical neo-liberal argument against any attempt to transform a capitalist society – The revolutionaries are creating class conflict. But of course, the class conflict was already there, and nowhere more embedded and distasteful than in Latin America.
OTI funded 54 social projects all over the country, at over $1.2 million, allowing [the] Ambassador to visit poor areas of Venezuela and demonstrate US concern for the Venezuelan people. This program fosters confusion within the Bolivarian ranks, and pushes back at the attempt of Chavez to use the United States as a ‘unifying enemy.’
One has to wonder if the good ambassador (now an Assistant Secretary of State) placed any weight or value at all on the election and re-election by decisive margins of Chávez and the huge masses of people who repeatedly filled the large open squares to passionately cheer him. When did such things last happen in the ambassador’s own country? Where was his country’s “concern for the Venezuelan people” during the decades of highly corrupt and dictatorial regimes? His country’a embassy in Venezuela in that period was not plotting anything remotely like what is outlined in this cable.
The cable summarizes the focus of the embassy’s strategy’s as: “1) Strengthening Democratic Institutions, 2) Penetrating Chavez’ Political Base, 3) Dividing Chavismo, 4) Protecting Vital US business, and 5) Isolating Chavez internationally.” 1
The stated mission for the Office of Transition Initiatives is: “To support U.S. foreign policy objectives by helping local partners advance peace and democracy in priority countries in crisis.” 2
Notice the key word – “crisis”. For whom was Hugo Chávez’s Venezuela a “crisis”? For the people of Venezuela or the people who own and operate United States, Inc.?
Imagine a foreign country’s embassy, agencies and NGOs in the United States behaving as the American embassy, OTI, and NGOs did in Venezuela. President Putin of Russia recently tightened government controls over foreign NGOs out of such concern. As a result, he of course has been branded by the American government and media as a throwback to the Soviet Union.
Under pressure from the Venezuelan government, the OTI’s office in Venezuela was closed in 2010.
For our concluding words of wisdom, class, here’s Charles Shapiro, US ambassador to Venezuela from 2002 to 2004, speaking recently of the Venezuelan leaders: “I think they really believe it, that we are out there at some level to do them ill.” 3
The latest threats to life as we know it
Last month numerous foreign-policy commentators marked the tenth anniversary of the fateful American bombing and invasion of Iraq. Those who condemned the appalling devastation of the Iraqi people and their society emphasized that it had all been a terrible mistake, since Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein didn’t actually possess weapons of mass destruction (WMD). This is the same argument we’ve heard repeatedly during the past ten years from most opponents of the war.
But of the many lies – explicit or implicit – surrounding the war in Iraq, the biggest one of all is that if, in fact, Saddam Hussein had had those WMD the invasion would have been justified; that in such case Iraq would indeed have been a threat to the United States or to Israel or to some other country equally decent, innocent and holy. However, I must ask as I’ve asked before: What possible reason would Saddam Hussein have had for attacking the United States or Israel other than an irresistible desire for mass national suicide? He had no reason, no more than the Iranians do today. No more than the Soviets had during the decades of the Cold War. No more than North Korea has ever had since the United States bombed them in the early 1950s. Yet last month the new Defense Secretary, Chuck Hagel, announced that he would strengthen United States defenses against a possible attack by [supposedly] nuclear-equipped North Korea, positioning 14 additional missile interceptors in Alaska and California at an estimated cost of $1 billion. So much for the newest Great White Hope. Does it ever matter who the individuals are who are occupying the highest offices of the US foreign-policy establishment? Or their gender or their color?
“Oh,” many people argued, “Saddam Hussein was so crazy who knew what he might do?” But when it became obvious in late 2002 that the US was intent upon invading Iraq, Saddam opened up the country to the UN weapons inspectors much more than ever before, offering virtually full cooperation. This was not the behavior of a crazy person; this was the behavior of a survivalist. He didn’t even use any WMD when he was invaded by the United States in 1991 (“the first Gulf War”), when he certainly had such weapons. Moreover, the country’s vice president, Tariq Aziz, went on major American television news programs to assure the American people and the world that Iraq no longer had any chemical, biological or nuclear weapons; and we now know that Iraq had put out peace feelers in early 2003 hoping to prevent the war. The Iraqi leaders were not crazy at all. Unless one believes that to oppose US foreign policy you have to be crazy. Or suicidal.
It can as well be argued that American leaders were crazy to carry out the Iraqi invasion in the face of tens of millions of people at home and around the world protesting against it, pleading with the Bush gang not to unleash the horrors. (How many demonstrations were there in support of the invasion?)
In any event, the United States did not invade Iraq because of any threat of an attack using WMD. Washington leaders did not themselves believe that Iraq possessed such weapons of any significant quantity or potency. Amongst the sizable evidence supporting this claim we have the fact that they would not have exposed hundreds of thousands of soldiers on the ground.
Nor can it be argued that mere possession of such weapons – or the belief of same – was reason enough to take action, for then the United States would have to invade Russia, France, Israel, et al.
I have written much of the above in previous editions of this report, going back to 2003. But I’m afraid that I and other commentators will have to be repeating these observations for years to come. Myths that reinforce official government propaganda die hard. The mainstream media act like they don’t see through them, while national security officials thrive on them to give themselves a mission, to enhance their budgets, and further their personal advancement. The Washington Post recently reported: “A year into his tenure, the country’s young leader, Kim Jong Un, has proved even more bellicose than his father, North Korea’s longtime ruler, disappointing U.S. officials who had hoped for a fresh start with the regime.” 4
Yeah, right, can’t you just see those American officials shaking their heads and exclaiming: “Damn, what do we have to do to get those North Korean fellows to trust us?” Well, they could start by ending the many international sanctions they impose on North Korea. They could discontinue arming and training South Korean military forces. And they could stop engaging in provocative fly-overs, ships cruising the waters, and military exercises along with South Korea, Australia, and other countries dangerously close to the North. The Wall Street Journal reported:
The first show of force came on March 8, during the U.S.-South Korean exercise, known as Foal Eagle, when long-range B-52 bombers conducted low-altitude maneuvers. A few weeks later, in broad daylight, two B-2 bombers sent from a Missouri air base dropped dummy payloads on a South Korean missile range.
U.S. intelligence agencies, as had been planned, reviewed the North’s responses. After those flights, the North responded as the Pentagon and intelligence agencies had expected, with angry rhetoric, threatening to attack the South and the U.S.
On Sunday, the U.S. flew a pair of advanced F-22s to South Korea, which prompted another angry response from the North. 5
And the United States could stop having wet dreams about North Korea collapsing, enabling the US to establish an American military base right at the Chinese border.
As to North Korea’s frequent threats … yes, they actually outdo the United States in bellicosity, lies, and stupidity. But their threats are not to be taken any more seriously than Washington’s oft expressed devotion to democracy and freedom. When it comes to doing actual harm to other peoples, the North Koreans are not in the same league as the empire.
“Everyone is concerned about miscalculation and the outbreak of war. But the sense across the U.S. government is that the North Koreans are not going to wage all-out war,” a senior Obama administration official said. “They are interested first and foremost in regime survival.” 6
American sovereignty hasn’t faced a legitimate foreign threat to its existence since the British in 1812.
The marvelous world of Freedom of Speech
So, the United States and its Western partners have banned Iranian TV from North America and in various European countries. Did you hear about that? Probably not if you’re not on the mailing list of PressTV, the 24-hour English-Language Iranian news channel. According to PressTV:
The Iranian film channel, iFilm, as well as Iranian radio stations, have also been banned from sensitive Western eyes and ears, all such media having been removed in February from the Galaxy 19 satellite platform serving the United States and Canada.
In December the Spanish satellite company, Hispasat, terminated the broadcast of the Iranian Spanish-language channel Hispan TV. Hispasat is partly owned by Eutelsat, whose French-Israeli CEO is blamed for the recent wave of attacks on Iranian media in Europe.
The American Jewish Committee has welcomed these developments. AJC Executive Director David Harris has acknowledged that the committee had for months been engaged in discussions with the Spaniards over taking Iranian channels off the air. 7
A careful search of the Lexis-Nexis data base of international media reveals that not one English-language print newspaper, broadcast station, or news agency in the world has reported on the PressTV news story since it appeared February 8. One Internet newspaper, Digital Journal, ran the story on February 10.
The United States, Canada, Spain, and France are thus amongst those countries proudly celebrating their commitment to the time-honored concept of freedom of speech. Other nations of “The Free World” cannot be far behind as Washington continues to turn the screws of Iranian sanctions still tighter.
In his classic 1984, George Orwell defined “doublethink” as “the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.” In the United States, the preferred label given by the Ministry of Truth to such hypocrisy is “American exceptionalism”, which manifests itself in the assertion of a divinely ordained mission as well in the insistence on America’s right to apply double standards in its own favor and reject “moral equivalence”.
The use of sanctions to prevent foreign media from saying things that Washington has decidedshould not be said is actually a marked improvement over previous American methods. For example, on October 8, 2001, the second day of the US bombing of Afghanistan, the transmitters for the Taliban government’s Radio Shari were bombed and shortly after this the US bombed some 20 regional radio sites. US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the targeting of these facilities, saying: “Naturally, they cannot be considered to be free media outlets. They are mouthpieces of the Taliban and those harboring terrorists.” 8 And in Yugoslavia, in 1999, during the infamous 78-bombing of the Balkan country which posed no threat at all to the United States, state-owned Radio Television Serbia (RTS) was targeted because it was broadcasting things which the United States and NATO did not like (like how much horror the bombing was causing). The bombs took the lives of many of the station’s staff, and both legs of one of the survivors, which had to be amputated to free him from the wreckage. 9
- Read the full memo. ↩
- USAID Transition Initiatives Website ↩
- Washington Post, January 10, 2013 ↩
- Washington Post, March 16, 2013 ↩
- Wall Street Journal, April 3, 2013 ↩
- Ibid. ↩
- PressTV news release ↩
- Index on Censorship online, the UK’s leading organization promoting freedom of expression, October 18, 2001 ↩
- The Independent (London), April 24, 1999, p.1 ↩
In another case in the annals of conservative “adaptation” to yesterday’s liberal innovation, Ohio Republican senator Rob Portman has just announced that he now supports faux marriage. The change was motivated, he said, by his son having come out to him and his wife as a homosexual.
Well, it’s a good thing his son didn’t announce that he was involved in bestiality.
Talk about a pandering parent.
We can also talk here about letting your personal life influence your public policy. If I were a statesman and learned that a child of mine were hooked on cocaine or had joined the Taliban, I wouldn’t change my position on drug policy or terrorism. Of course, Portman has said that his son’s revelation inspired some soul searching, and, true, life events can spur thought and intellectual growth. But is his decision really the fruits of sound intellectual analysis?
In an interview on his Obamaesque evolution, Portman talked about his “Christian faith,” “love and compassion,” and the Golden Rule. As to the last thing, I would certainly want others to do unto me as they would have me do unto them (unless they happen to be masochists), and this would include leading me toward Truth and virtue — not away from them.
And while Jesus espoused the Golden Rule, He also said, “[H]e that loveth son or daughter more than me, is not worthy of me.” The fact is that God and His law come even before family; “Blood is not thicker than morality,” as Dr. Laura Schlessinger once put it. And while this may seem a harsh prescription, it is actually the only way to do right by your family. I’ll explain.
Portman cares about his son’s happiness, as any parent would. But what breeds happiness? Aristotle pointed out that virtue (good moral habits) is a prerequisite for a happy life, and this is where God’s law comes into play. To start with a simple example, it may seem to make a little child happy at the moment if you allow him to eat a quart of ice cream for dinner, play all day instead of tending to education, or steal a toy from a store. Yet we know that such indulgence wouldn’t breed the virtue of temperance, industriousness, or honesty and wouldn’t lead to happiness. Likewise, would we encourage a grown son to deal drugs or steal cars if the money realized thereby seemed to make him happy?
The point is that the loving thing isn’t always to give people what they want, but what they need. And this is where a person’s yardstick for decision-making matters. If we’re emotion-oriented, we’ll likely put too much stock in someone’s feelings and give him what he wants even when those feelings contradict moral law.
Unfortunately, this is common nowadays due to our descent into moral relativism. After all, we can’t use morality — which, properly understood, refers to rules for man’s behavior that originate outside of man — as a yardstick if we don’t believe it exists. And this is precisely relativism’s underlying message, with its claim that what we call “morality” is just a function of man’s collective preferences. And without this awareness of moral reality, emotion becomes the most compelling yardstick for behavior available.
And we live in the age of emotion. As American Thinker’s Rick Moran recently put it when discussing Portman’s situation, “As more and more Americans realize that they are related to, or work with, or live next to someone who is gay, it is inevitable that acceptance follows.” It’s absolutely true that this is how it works — among people detached from Truth — which is a good argument for why certain things should never be allowed out of the closet in the first place. But, again, it makes no sense and, furthermore, is a recipe for disaster. Why? Because it eliminates morality by reducing decisions about human behavior to popularity or “majority vote.” The Vikings stole for a living, the Aztecs engaged in human sacrifice on a massive scale, and for most of history slavery was a universal. And these things were accepted because they were common. But if a people wishes to become or remain civilized, their yardstick for behavior cannot be “Hey, everybody’s doing it.”
Mr. Moran also said in his commentary, “More and more sons and daughters are outing themselves [as homosexuals] to their parents who are then faced with the stark choice of disowning their children or embracing them.” But the second part of this is untrue. If a child is hooked on drugs, are the only two choices disowning or embracing? Between those two extremist errors is an enlightened position called “hating the sin but loving the sinner.”
Of course, it is true that more and more children are coming out as homosexuals. What is also true, however, is that more and more are getting into homosexuality in the first place. I know, the common response here is that people are “born that way.” Save it. Pederasty was institutionalized in ancient Spartan military camps, with 12-year-old boys being attached to older men who would become their mentors and lovers. But were the Spartans so different genetically? Were they all “born that way”?
Regardless of what genetic and intrauterine factors one may consider relevant (I treated this in-depth here), any sane person understands that there is an enormous psychological component to man’s sexuality. This is why it’s so destructive when, through the schools and popular culture, we send kids the message that sexual experimentation is okay. “Hey, try it; you may like it. It’s all genetic, anyway, so you need to discover what you really are.” The fact is that a young person’s sexuality can be twisted with relative ease, but, unfortunately, cannot be straightened out nearly as easily, which is why sexual problems can be so intractable. This is why Judeo-Christian sexual guide rails are so important and why C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Sexuality is not messed up because it was put in the closet. It was put in the closet because it was messed up.”
Mr. Moran concludes his commentary about the increasing acceptance of homosexuality with the line, “All we can be sure of is that the future will look different than the present.” No doubt. And it is clear how the future of the American republic looks.
Because the administration is backing terrorists in Syria…
Since the Obama administration seems so keen to entrench its authority to kill Americans deemed “terrorists” on foreign soil, why has it failed to drone strike former US Army soldier Eric Harroun, who is now fighting with the Al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria?
The question is rhetorical because the answer is already known. Harroun will not be targeted because he is fighting on the same side as the terrorist-led FSA insurgents which the Obama administration has backed to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.
“He’s a U.S.-trained soldier turned Muslim warrior who moves between America and countries where the winds of the Arab spring blow, fighting alongside jihadists and America-hating terrorists while celebrating his bloody exploits on YouTube videos,” reports Fox News.
When questioned as to how he feels about fighting alongside Al-Qaeda terrorists, Harroun responded, “the U.S. plays both sides, too.”
30-year-old Phoenix-born Harroun aided in the toppling of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak before traveling to Syria to join an organization – Jabhat al-Nusra – that has been listed by the State Department as a terrorist group as a result of its involvement in numerous bloody attacks that have killed civilians.
Back in December, 29 different US-backed Syrian opposition groups pledged their allegiance to Al Nusra, an Al-Qaeda-affiliated group which, as the New York Times reported, “killed numerous American troops in Iraq.”
Numerous reports confirm that Al Nusra is the leading front line fighting force in Syria and is commanding other rebel groups. Al Nusra is also closely tied with Al Qaeda in Iraq, recently responsible for the slaughter of US-trained troops in Iraq.
If the Obama administration really believes in the necessity of killing Americans who are working alongside America’s enemies abroad, then why has there been no discussion whatsoever of targeting Harroun with a drone strike? Why is the US Army still providing a known terrorist with disability payments?
Another American who fought alongside Al-Qaeda terrorists in both Libya and Syria, Matthew VanDyke, recently returned to the United States and is set to give lectures in Washington DC this weekend. VanDyke admitted that he originally wanted to join the CIA but later became a self-described “freedom fighter”.
VanDyke fought with Libyan militants under the banner of the LIFG, a terrorist group which killed US troops in Iraq, yet he will not even be questioned by authorities when he visits the nation’s capital. On the other hand, the federal government is on the lookout for potential American terrorists who buy food in bulk or pay for a cup of coffee with cash.
American citizen Anwar Al-Awlaki was killed by a drone strike simply for producing propaganda videos and communicating with accused terrorists. His 16-year-old son was similarly slaughtered for merely sharing his father’s surname. Other American citizens like John Walker Lindh were imprisoned and tortured in Guantanamo Bay for fighting with the Taliban.
Meanwhile, Harroun and VanDyke are free to fly around the world and re-enter the United States as and when they please despite committing the exact same crimes as the likes of fellow US citizens Lindh and Al-Awlaki.
Eric Harroun’s presence in Syria serves as yet another reminder that US taxpayer dollars are being used to fund an insurrection led by Al-Qaeda terrorists who openly espouse their hatred for America as they ransack Christian churches, burn US flags, chant anti-American slogans and sing the praises of Osama Bin Laden while glorifying the 9/11 attacks.
While Obama’s drone strikes will continue to kill 98% innocent people not even suspected of being “terrorists,” including hundreds of children, real terrorists like Harroun and his ilk will continue to be given free reign because their motive is directly in line with the west’s ongoing neo-colonial campaign to replace non-cooperative Middle Eastern leaders like Bashar Al-Assad with easy to manipulate extremist sock puppets.
Source: Prison Planet
Truth told, this American observer has attended his share of international conferences and has traveled in more than 70 countries. But never has he visited such a complex country, evolving culture, and striving energized society, populated by idealistic people of great warmth, sense of humor and caring for those in need as he experiences in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Except when traveling in his own country.
Being in Iran during these tense times is to experience an epiphany. Which is that Iranians and Americans have so very many needs and interests in common-yes even in our religious beliefs- that both peoples should immediately repair our countries relations and return to the days when 60,000 Iranian students studied in the US and thousands of Americans lived and worked in Iran- all in singular harmony and with myriad mutual benefits.
The deep connection among Muslims and Christians from the seventh century sacrifice at Karbala by Hussein bin Ali and the first century sacrifice at Calvary by Jesus Christ, established forever a claimed divine principle of sacrifice of one’s self to resist injustice for the greater good of the community. This bond underpins and connects the two religions and their followers inextricably.
There is probably no country more misunderstood in America than Iran And its due almost entirely to politically motivated demonizations and misrepresentations, including, but not limited to, what President Ahmadinejad really said during speeches relating to the US and the West and the historical imperative to liberate occupied Palestine and every country’s right to develop nuclear energy and to live independently and free of US-led western hegemony. Most Americans’ perceptions of Iran, according to Iranian friends, are limited to images of President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad accused of delivering anti-American speeches.
Another example is the media reports of the 2/09/13 celebration of the 34th anniversary of the Iranian revolution where the BBC and most other media reported the crowds were “frenzied and chanting death to America.” I was there and this report is rubbish. I did hear from time to time a few chants mixed in with revolutionary songs, religious exhortations, and just plain fun. Helping others by offering water and heavy laden older citizens or kids was the motif.
People were happy not angry and they could not have been more friendly or curious about the Americans they came upon and who helped them pick up Iranian leaflet flags that blew or were dropped onto the streets as the Americans understood Iranian pride in their flag and not wanting to see it walked on or subjected to disrespect.
One does not have to look further than the morning newspapers for examples and to find the likes of Zionist apologist, Iranophobe and Islamophode Jennifer Rubin, in her Washington Post screed. Ms. Rubin, on Valentine’s Day had only poisonous invective in her heart for any American- even cupid one imagines- who would dare express any remotely objective idea about Iran. Rubin, a former AIPAC volunteer, lambasted Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, former US Senator, Chuck Hagel, as nearly all 52 Zionist organizations in America have done this past month, because he advocates mutual respect and friendship with Iran. Hagel’s unforgiveable sins includee his words on the subject of criminal US-led sanctions against Iran and Syria and the need to build trust and normalize relations through dialogue.
Said Hagel about U.S.-Iran relations: “We shouldn’t be putting conditions on talks or putting all other issues to the side except one issue that we will ‘dictate’ to Iran.” As far back as 2007, Hagel stated that “In the Middle East of the 21st century, Iran will be a key center of gravity… a significant regional power. The United States cannot change that reality. America’s strategic 21st-century regional policy for the Middle East must acknowledge the role of Iran today and over the next 25 years.” Hagel continued: “On Afghanistan, the United States and Iran found common interests — defeating the Taliban and Islamic radicals, stabilizing Afghanistan, stopping the opium production and the flow of opium coming into Iran. From these common interests emerged common actions working toward a common purpose. It was in the interests of Iran to work with the U.S. in Afghanistan. It was not a matter of helping America or strengthening America’s presence in Central Asia. It was a clear-eyed and self-serving action for Iran.”
Hagel may have erred a bit on Afghanistan and the Taliban, but Rubin found Hagel’s point of view treasonous and has joined the the US Zionist lobby’s call for a witch-hunt when she asks her readers: “Why would the president select someone so deferential toward the Islamic revolutionary government? ..During the Congressional recess, the Senate should think about that. And it might be interesting to find out who was helping him with these intensely pro-Tehran speeches.
In Iran today one does not hear Rubinesque hate speech or even lectures about the 1953 US-UK overthrow of Iranian leader Mohammad Mossedeg or the shooting down on July 3, 1988 of the commercial passenger aircraft Iran Air Flight 655 (IIR655) or the US giving chemical weapons to Iraq, during its US backed aggression, or even the assassination of Iranian scientists or a number of other US green lighted aggressions against the country.
Much more often, conversations are likely to turn to the need to improve relations and friendly questions about what foreigners are experiencing in Iran and if they need assistance in doing something or information about their country. Iranians are as open as Americans are by their very nature, and unlike many other countries no subject for discussion is taboo. For this observer it included topics such as the “morality police”, execution of drug dealers and homosexuals, “stoning” of women, attacks on the Bahá’í Faith, which is the country’s second-largest religion after Islam, the 2009 “Green Revolution” and any other subject that came to mine, including drinking alcohol and public dating.
One hilarious conversation this observer had with four early 20’s female students during a Conference last week was about the number (more than 60%) of Chador wearing women who openly wear makeup these days, how Iranian society is changing rapidly, and the amount of hair some women expose while in public and wondering if this was not prohibited by Fatwa and how they deal with it. Their responses were immediate and nearly all at once. No one had even seen one of the Western hyped “morality police” for a long time and they are few and far between. One young lady explained that its true she wears her hijab 2/3’s the way back on her head and “if one of those guys dares to say something I will either tell him to mind his own business or if I am in a good mood I will act really, really surprised, shrug my shoulders, wink at him and say something like, “Oh so very sorry, really I am!. It was a big gust of wind that must have blown it back on my head without me noticing!” Even if there had not even been so much as a soft breeze in days.
Iranian women are smart, strong willed-even a bit pushy at times and naturally alluring. Who would want to join some “morality police” unit? The ladies explained that if one comes up to you on the street and if you are really rude to him and tell him to get lost, or worse, you might get a ticket and your parents would have to come to the police station and sign a pledge that you would try to do better about trying to observe some modesty in public. Again rather different from what the MSM tells us in the West.
And it’s clear whether attending an international conference on Hollywoodism (www.hollywoodism.org) at the Azadi (Freedom Hotel-formerly the pre-Revolution Hyatt ), traveling on the Tehran subway (far cleaner than New Yorks!) exploring street souks, visiting the Holy Defense Museum (explaining the 8 years Iran-Iraq war) or visiting the home of Imam Ruhollah Khomeini, who led the 1979 Revolution and was Iran’s leader until his death on June 3,1989 in or walking, for miles it seemed, among the nearly two million people marching to Azadi Square to commemorate this month’s 34th anniversary of the Revolution when the people of Iran overthrew the American agent, Shah Reza Palavi, that the Iranian people are kind and they are gifted.
When I got on the crowded Tehran subway, two young men immediately stood up to offer this observer their seats. And then we engaged in a very interesting long animated conversation. Said, Hamzeh, “You know, we feel like we understand America and we should be friends. Both of our countries are culturally unique somehow. Your country evolved from European culture but moved in very distinct direction. In our history Islam arrived via the Arabs but as you have been seeing I am sure, our identity is completely different from Arab countries.”
Mahmoud joined in: “Our society is also made up of many minorities, but we have a single Iranian identity and are very proud of our culture. We’re also familiar with Western ways. For the last 200 years, we were open to the Western world and influenced by European culture, even if some of the ideas, like democracy, have never had a chance to really develop properly but we will continue trying. But we also know what it’s like to be a superpower. For us it was a long time ago, but we played an important role in this part of the world for many centuries so we can never see ourselves as subject to western or eastern hegemony.”
No experience impressed a group of American visiting Iran, including this one, than the home of Imam Kohmeini and learning from his neighbors and students about the man, scholar and revolutionary. Visiting his home and Hassineyeh which have been kept just as they were the day he died, one neighbor recounted how
Ayatollah’s Khomeini’s wife Khadije Saghafi, who passed away in 2009, told her friends that she had only one wish her whole life that the Imam never granted to her. And that was that she wished for him to ask her for a glass of water at least once. But he never did. The sweet and gentle husband and father did not want even the wind to visit his family’s faces too harshly or for himself to impose on them. Another neighbor told us, “When we visited his home we often found the Imam washing the dishes, sweeping the floor, and helping in other household chores.
According to others who knew him well, the Imam led a life of utmost piety and spirituality. In the severe winters of Qom, the he would wake up each night, perform ablution the act of washing oneself for ritual purification) with ice water, and offer his night prayers. His Mafatih (prayer almanac) had to be rebound every few weeks because of how much he used it. Before he began lecturing his students on political activism, he emphasized to them the importance of spirituality and attaining the nearness of Allah.
The simplicity of life style and the modesty of Iran’s revolutionary, Imam Khomeini leader has universal appeal including American ideals.
There is every reason for Washington’s new administration to reach out to Iran, not just with words but with actions. The American and Iranian people fervently want this and it wills inestimably benefit both societies. The solution to positive the current straightened Iran-US relations includes contact, visitations, discussions and more discussions and from this both peoples can pressure their governments to leave the past behind and develop bonds of friendship.
Over the past four decades, of all the reasons people over a certain age have given for their becoming radicalized against US foreign policy, the Vietnam War has easily been the one most often cited. And I myself am the best example of this that you could find. I sometimes think that if the war lovers who run the United States had known of this in advance they might have had serious second thoughts about starting that great historical folly and war crime.
At other times, however, I have the thought that our dear war lovers have had 40 years to take this lesson to heart, and during this time what did they do? They did Salvador and Nicaragua, and Angola and Grenada. They did Panama and Yugoslavia, and Afghanistan and Iraq. And in 2012 American President Barack Obama saw fit to declare that the Vietnam War was “one of the most extraordinary stories of bravery and integrity in the annals of military history”. 1
So, have they learned nothing? When it comes to following international law, is the United States like a failed state? The Somalia of international law? Well, if they were perfectly frank, the war lovers would insist that the purpose of all these interventions, and many others like them, was to keep the atheists out of power – the non-believers in America’s god-given right to rule the world – or to at least make life as difficult as possible for them. And thus the interventions were successful; nothing to apologize for; even the Vietnam War achieved its purpose of preventing that country from becoming a good development option for Asia, a socialist alternative to the capitalist model; precisely the same reason for Washington’s endless hostility toward Cuba in Latin America; and Cuba has indeed inspired numerous atheists and their alternatives for a better world.
If they were even more honest, the war lovers might quote George Kennan, the legendary State Department strategist, who wrote prophetically during the Cold War: “Were the Soviet Union to sink tomorrow under the waters of the ocean, the American military-industrial establishment would have to go on, substantially unchanged, until some other adversary could be invented. Anything else would be an unacceptable shock to the American economy.” 2
But after all these years, after decades of American militarism – though not a day passes without some government official or media acolyte expressing his admiration and gratitude for “our brave boys” – cracks in the American edifice can be seen. Some of the war lovers, and their TV groupies would have us believe that they have actually learned something. One of the first was Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in February 2011: “In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should have his head examined.”
And here’s former Secretary of State George Shultz speaking before the prestigious Council of Foreign Relations last month (January 29): “Iraq and Afghanistan cannot be the template for how we go about” dealing with threats of terrorism.
A few days earlier the very establishment and conservative Economist magazine declared: “The best-intentioned foreign intervention is bound to bog its armies down in endless wars fighting invisible enemies to help ungrateful locals.”
However, none of these people are in power. And does history offer any example of a highly militaristic power – without extreme coercion – seeing the error of its ways? One of my readers, who prefers to remain anonymous, wrote to me recently:
It is my opinion that the German and Japanese people only relinquished their imperial culture and mindset when they were bombed back to the stone age at the end of WWII. Something similar is the only cure for the same pathology that now is embedded into the very social fabric of the USA. The USA is a full-blown pathological society now. There is no other cure. No amount of articles on the Internet pointing out the hypocrisies or war crimes will do it.
So, while the United States is busy building bases and anti-missile sites in Europe, Asia and Africa, deploying space-based and other hi-tech weapons systems, trying to surround Russia, China, Iran and any other atheist that threatens American world hegemony, and firing drone missiles all over the Middle East I’m busy playing games on the Internet. What can I say? In theory at least, there is another force besides the terrible bombing mentioned above that can stop the American empire, and that is the American people. I’ll continue trying to educate them. Too bad I won’t live long enough to see the glorious transformation.
Afghanistan: Manufacturing the American Legacy
“A decade ago, playing music could get you maimed in Afghanistan. Today, a youth ensemble is traveling to the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. And it even includes girls.”
Thus reads the sub-heading of a Washington Post story of February 3 about an orchestra of 48 Afghan young people who attended music school in a country where the Taliban have tried to silence both women and music. “The Afghan Youth Orchestra is more than a development project,” the article informs us. For “the school’s many international donors, it serves as a powerful symbol of successful reconstruction in Afghanistan. And by performing in Washington and New York, the seats of U.S. political and financial power, the orchestra hopes to showcase what a decade of investment has achieved.”
“The U.S. State Department, the World Bank, the Carnegie Corporation and Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education have invested heavily in the tour. The U.S. Embassy in Kabul awarded nearly $350,000 footing most of the estimated $500,000 cost. For international donors, the tour symbolizes progress in a country crippled by war.”
The State Department’s director of communications and public diplomacy for Afghanistan and Pakistan declares: “We wanted Americans to understand the difference their tax dollars have made in building a better future for young people, which translates into reduced threats from extremists in the region.”
“There’s a lot of weariness in the U.S. and cynicism about Afghanistan,” said William Harvey, an American violinist who teaches at the school, where 35 of 141 students are girls. “What are we doing there? What can be achieved? These concerts answer those questions in the strongest way possible: Cooperation between Afghanistan and the international community has made it safe for young girls and boys to learn music.”
There can be no question that for the sad country of Afghanistan all this is welcome news. There can also be little doubt that a beleaguered and defensive US foreign policy establishment will seek to squeeze out as much favorable publicity as possible from these events. On the issue of the severe oppression of women and girls in Afghanistan, defenders of the US occupation of that desperate land would have you believe that the United States is the last great hope of those poor females. However, you will not be reminded that in the 1980s the United States played an indispensable role in the overthrow of a secular and relatively progressive Afghan government, one which endeavored to grant women much more freedom than they’ll ever have under the current Karzai-US government, more probably than ever again. Here are some excerpts from a 1986 US Army manual on Afghanistan discussing the policies of this government concerning women:
- “provisions of complete freedom of choice of marriage partner, and fixation of the minimum age at marriage at 16 for women and 18 for men”
- “abolished forced marriages”
- “bring [women] out of seclusion, and initiate social programs”
- “extensive literacy programs, especially for women”
- “putting girls and boys in the same classroom”;
- “concerned with changing gender roles and giving women a more active role in politics”. 3
The US-led overthrow of this government paved the way for the coming to power of Islamic fundamentalist forces, which led directly to the awful Taliban. And why did the United States in its infinite wisdom choose to do such a thing? Because the Afghan government was allied with the Soviet Union and Washington wanted to draw the Russians into a hopeless military quagmire – “We now have the opportunity of giving to the Soviet Union its Vietnam War”, said Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s National Security Adviser. 4
The women of Afghanistan will never know how the campaign to raise them to the status of full human beings would have turned out, but this, some might argue, is but a small price to pay for a marvelous Cold War victory.
People on the left never tire of calling for the closing of the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The fact that President Obama made the closing a promise of his 2008 campaign and repeated it again in the White House, while the prison still remains in operation, is seen as a serious betrayal. But each time I read about this I’m struck by the same thought: The horror of Guantánamo is not its being open, not its mere existence. Its horror lies in its being the site of more than 10 years of terrible abuse of human beings. If the prison is closed and all its inmates are moved to another prison, and the abuses continue, what would have been accomplished? How would the cause of human rights be benefitted? I think that activists should focus on the abuses, regardless of the location.
The War on Terror – They’re really getting serious about it now
For disseminating classified materials that exposed war crimes, Julian Assange is now honored as an official terrorist as only America can honor. We Shall Never Forget 9/11, Vol. II: The True Faces of Evil – Terror, a graphic coloring novel for children, which comes with several pages of perforated, detachable “terrorist trading cards”. Published by Really Big Coloring Books Inc. in St. Louis, the cards include Assange, Timothy McVeigh, Jared Lee Loughner, Ted Kaczynski, Maj. Nidal Hasan, Bill Ayers, and others. 5
Superpower – the film
Starring Noam Chomsky, Chalmers Johnson, Michel Chossudovksy, Karen Kwiatowski (Pentagon “defector”), William Blum, Sergei Khrushchev (son of Nikita), Kathy Kelly, and many others:https://vimeo.com/55141496 (enter password when prompted: barbarasteegmuller) – 2 hours long.
New Book and talk
The eagerly awaited (I can name at least three people) new book by William Blum is here at last. “America’s Deadliest Export – Democracy: The Truth About US Foreign Policy and Everything Else” is made up of essays which are a combination of new and old; combined, updated, expanded; many first appeared in one form or another in the Anti-Empire Report, or on my website, at various times during the past ten years or so.
As mentioned in the book, activists like myself are sometimes scoffed at for saying the same old things to the same old people; just spinning our wheels, we’re told, “preaching to the choir” or “preaching to the converted”. But long experience as speaker, writer and activist in the area of foreign policy tells me it just ain’t so. From the questions and comments I regularly get from my audiences, via email and in person, I can plainly see that there are numerous significant information gaps and misconceptions in the choir’s thinking, often leaving them unable to see through the newest government lie or propaganda trick; they’re unknowing or forgetful of what happened in the past that illuminates the present; or knowing the facts but unable to apply them at the appropriate moment; vulnerable to being led astray by the next person who offers a specious argument that opposes what they currently believe, or think they believe; and, perhaps worst of all, many of them suffer pathetically from an over-abundance of conspiracy thinking, often carrying a justified suspicion or idea to a ridiculous level; virtually nothing is taken at face value.
The choir needs to be frequently reminded and enlightened to be better able to influence others, to be better activists.
To order a signed copy directly from me you can go to my website: http://killinghope.org.
I’ll be speaking about the new book at Politics and Prose bookstore, 5015 Connecticut Ave., NW, in Washington, DC, Saturday, March 2 at 1 pm.
- May 28, 2012, speaking at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington ↩
- George Kennan, Wikipedia entry ↩
- US Department of the Army, Afghanistan, A Country Study (1986), pp.121, 128, 130, 223, 232 (Library of Congress Call Number DS351.5 .A34 1986) ↩
- Zbigniew Brzezinski, Wikipedia entry ↩
- View the press release; see the cards ↩
The headline stories claim that CIA Director General David Petraeus resigned as head of the CIA because of an adulterous relation with his young biographer and that General John Allen, Supreme Commander of US troops in Afghanistan, was under investigation and his promotion to top commander of US troops in Europe was on hold, because, we are told, of his ‘inappropriate’ comments in the exchange of e-mails with a civilian female friend. We are told that a ‘hard-charging’ local FBI agent, Frederick Humphries, Jr., had uncovered amorous e-mails sent by General Petraeus to his girlfriend-biographer in the course of investigating a complaint of ‘cyber-stalking’. Out of concern that the General’s ‘adulterous behavior’ posed a risk to US national security, Florida-based FBI Agent Humphries handed the evidence over to one of Washington, DC’s most powerful Republican, Congressman Eric Cantor, who in turn passed them on to the Director of the FBI… leading to Petraeus resignation.
In other words, we are asked to believe that a single, low-ranking, zealous FBI agent has toppled the careers of two top US Generals: one in charge of the principle global intelligence agency, the CIA, and the other in command of the US and allied combat forces in the principle theater of military engagement – on the basis of infidelity and flirtatious banter!
Nothing could be more far-fetched simply on prima facie evidence.
In the sphere of tight hierarchical organizations, like the military or the CIA, where the activity and behavior of subordinate functionaries is centrally directed and any investigation is subject to authorization by senior officials (most especially regarding prying into the private correspondences of the heads of the CIA and of strategic military operations), the idea that a lone agent might operate free-lance is preposterous. A ‘cowboy’ agent could not simply initiate investigation into such ‘sensitive’ targets as the head of the CIA and a General in an active combat zone without the highest level authorization or a network of political operatives with a much bigger agenda. This has much deeper political implications than uncovering a banal sexual affair between two consenting security-cleared adults despite the agent’s claim that fornication constitutes a threat to the United States .
Clearly we are in deep waters here: This involves political intrigue at the highest level and has profound national security implications, involving the directorship of the CIA and clandestine operations, intelligence reports, multi-billion dollar expenditures and US efforts to stabilize client regimes and destabilize target regimes. CIA intelligence reports identifying allies and enemies are critical to shaping global US foreign policy. Any shift at the top of the US empire’s operational command can and does have strategic importance.
The ‘outing’ of General Allen, the military commander in charge of Afghanistan, the US main zone of military operations occurs at a crucial time, with the scheduled forced withdrawal of US combat troops and when the Afghan ‘sepoys’, the soldiers and officers of the puppet Karzai regime, are showing major signs of disaffection, is clearly a political move of the highest order.
What are the political issues behind the beheading of these two generals? Who benefits and who loses?
At the global level, both Generals have been unflinching supporters of the US Empire, most especially the military-driven components of empire building. Both continue to carry out and support the serial wars launched by Presidents Bush and Obama against Afghanistan and Iraq , as well as, the numerous proxy wars against Libya , Syria , Yemen , Somalia , etc. But both Generals were known to have publicly taken positions unpopular with certain key factions of the US power elite.
CIA Director, General Petraeus has been a major supporter of the proxy wars in Libya and Syria . In those efforts he has promoted a policy of collaboration with rightwing Islamist regimes and Islamist opposition movements, including training and arming Islamist fundamentalists in order to topple targeted, mostly secular, regimes in the Middle East . In pursuit of this policy – Petraeus has had the backing of nearly the entire US political spectrum. However, Petraeus was well aware that this ‘grand alliance’ between the US and the rightwing Islamist regimes and movements to secure imperial hegemony, would require re-calibrating US relations with Israel . Petraeus viewed Netanyahu’s proposed war with Iran, his bloody land grabs in the Occupied Territories of Palestine and the bombing, dispossession and assassination of scores of Palestinians each month, were a liability as Washington sought support from the Islamist regimes in Egypt, Tunisia, Turkey, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Gulf States, Iraq and Yemen.
Petraeus implied this in public statements and behind closed doors he advocated the withdrawal of US support for Israel ’s violent settler expansion into Palestine , even urging the Obama regime to pressure Netanyahu to reach some settlement with the pliable US client Abbas leadership. Above all, Petraeus backed the violent jihadists in Libya and Syria while opposing an Israel-initiated war against Iran, which he implied, would polarize the entire Moslem world against the Washington-Tel Aviv alliance and ‘provoke the US-proxy supplied Islamist fundamentalists to turn their arms against their CIA patrons. The imperial policy, according to General Petraeus world view, was in conflict with Israel ’s strategy of fomenting hostility among Islamist regimes and movements against the US and, especially, the Jewish state’s promotion of regional conflicts in order to mask and intensify its ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. Central to Israeli strategy and what posed the most immediate threat to the implementation of a Petraeus’ doctrine was the influence of the Zionist power configuration (ZPC) in and out of the US government.
As soon as General Petraeus’ report naming Israel as a ‘strategic liability’ became known, the ZPC sprang into action and forced Petraeus to retract his statements – at least publicly. But once, he became head of the CIA, Petraeus continued the policy of working with rightwing Islamist regimes and arming and providing intelligence to jihadi fundamentalists in order to topple independent secular regimes, first in Libya, then on to Syria. This policy was placed under the spotlight in Benghazi with the killing of the US ambassador to Libya and several CIA/Special Forces operatives by CIA-backed terrorists leading to a domestic political crisis, as key Republican Congress people sought to exploit the Obama administration’s diplomatic failure. They especially targeted the US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, whose maladroit efforts to obscure the real source of the attacks in Benghazi , have undermined her nomination to replace Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State.
General Petraeus, faced with mounting pressure from all sides: from the ZPC over his criticism of Israel and overtures to Islamist regimes, from the Republicans over the Benghazi debacle and from the FBI, over the personal investigation into his girlfriend and hyped up media smear, gave in. He ‘fessed up’ to a ‘sexual affair’, saluted and resigned. In so doing, he ‘sacrificed’ himself in order to ‘save the CIA’ and his strategy of long-term alliance-building with ‘moderate’ Islamist regimes while forming short-term tactical alliances with the jihadists to overthrow secular Arab regimes.
The key political operative behind the high-level FBI operation against Petraeus has been House Majority leader Eric Cantor, who cynically claims that the General’s romantic epistles represent a national security threat. We are told that Congressman Cantor gravely passed the e-mails and reports he had received from the ‘Lone Ranger’ FBI agent Humphries to FBI Director Mueller ordering Mueller to act on the investigation or else face his own Congressional inquiry.
Washington-based Representative Cantor is a zealous lifetime Israel-firster and has been hostile to the Petraeus report and the General’s assessment of the Middle East . Florida-based, Agent Humphries was not just any old conscientious gum-shoe: He was a notorious Islamaphobe engaged in finding terrorists under every bed. His claim to fame (or infamy) was that he had arrested two Muslims, one of whom, he claimed, was preparing to bomb the Los Angeles airport while the other allegedly planned a separate bombing. In a judicial twist, unusual in this era of FBI sting operations, both men were acquitted of the plots for lack of evidence, although one was convicted for publishing an account of how to detonate a bomb with a child’s toy! Agent Humphries was transferred from Washington State to Tampa , Florida – home of the US military’s Central Command (CENTCOM).
Despite their clear differences in station and location, there are ideological affinities between House Majority Whip Cantor and Agent Humphries – and possibly a common dislike of General Petraeus. Concerns over his Islamophobic and ideological zealotry may explain why the FBI quickly yanked Agent Humphries out from his mission of ‘obsessive’ prying into CIA Director Petraeus and General Allan’s e-mails. Undeterred by orders from his superiors in the FBI, Agent Humphries went directly to fellow zealot Congressman Cantor.
Who would have benefited from Petraeus ouster? One of the top three candidates to replace him as head of the CIA is Jane Harmon, former California Congresswomen and Zionist uber-zealot. In another twist of justice, in 2005 the Congresswoman had been captured on tape by the National Security Agency telling Israeli Embassy personnel that she would use her influence to aid two AIPAC officials who had confessed to handing classified US documents to the Israeli Mossad, if the AIPAC could round up enough Congressional votes to make her Chairwoman of the US House Committee on Intelligence, an act bordering on treason, for which she was never held to account. If she were to take his position, the ousting of CIA Director Petraeus could represent to the greatest ‘constitutional coup’ in US history: the appointment of a foreign agent to control the world’s biggest, deadliest and richest spy agency. Who would benefit from the fall of Petraeus? – first and foremost – the State of Israel.
The innuendos, smears and leaked investigation into the private e-mails of General Allen revolve around his raising questions over the US policy of prolonged military presence in Afghanistan . From his own practical experience General Allen has recognized that the puppet Afghan army is unreliable: hundreds of US and other NATO troops have been killed or wounded by their Afghan counterparts, from lowest foot soldiers to the highest Afghan security officials, ‘native’ troops and officers that the US had supposedly trained for a much ballyhooed ‘transfer of command’ in 2014. General Allen’s change of heart over the Afghan occupation was in response to the growing influence of the Taliban and other Islamist resistance supporters who had infiltrated the Afghan armed forces and now had near total control of the countryside and urban districts right up to the US and NATO bases. Allen did not believe that a ‘residual force’ of US military trainers could survive, once the bulk of US troops pulled out. In a word, he favored, after over a decade of a losing war, a policy of cutting the US ’ losses, declaring ‘victory’ and leaving to regroup on more favorable terrain.
Civilian militarists and neo-conservatives in the Executive and Congress refuse to acknowledge their shameful defeat with a full US retreat and a likely surrender to a Taliban regime. On the other hand, they cannot openly reject the painfully realistic assessment of General Allen, and they certainly cannot dismiss the experience of the supreme commander of US ground forces in Afghanistan .
When, in this charged political context, the rabidly Islamaphobic FBI agent Humphries ‘stumbled upon’ the affectionate personal correspondences between General Allen and ‘socialite’ femme fatale Jill Kelly, the Neocons and civilian militarists whipped up a smear campaign through the yellow journalists at the Washington Post, New York Times and Wall Street Journal implying another ‘sex’ scandal – this time involving General Allen. The neo-con– militarist-mass media clamor forced the spineless President Obama and the military high command to announce an investigation of General Allen and postpone Congressional hearings on his appointment to head the US forces in Europe . While the General quietly retains his supreme command of US forces in Afghanistan , he has become a defeated and disgraced officer and his expertise and professional views regarding the future of US operations in Afghanistan will no longer be taken seriously.
Key Unanswered Questions Surrounding Elite Intrigues and Military Purges
Given that the public version of a lone-wolf, low ranking, zealously Islamophobic and incompetent FBI agent who just happened to ‘discover’ a sex scandal leading to the discrediting or resignation of two of the US highest military and intelligence officials is absurd to any thinking American, several key political questions with profound implications for the US political system need to be addressed. These include:
1. What political officials, if any, authorized the FBI, a domestic security agency to investigate and force the resignation of the Director of the CIA?
2. Have the current police state structures, with their procedures for widespread and arbitrary spying led to our spy agencies spying on each other in order to purge each other’s top personnel? Is this like the sow devouring her own offspring?
3. What were the real priorities of the political power-brokers who protected the insubordinate FBI agent Humphries after he defied top FBI officials’ orders to stop meddling in the investigation of the CIA Director?
4. What were FBI Agent Humphries ties, if any, to the neo-con, Zionist or Islamophobic politicians and other intelligence operatives, including the Israeli Mossad?
5. Despite Obama’s effusive praise of his brilliant ‘warrior-scholar’ General Petraeus in the past, why did he immediately ‘accept’ (aka ‘force’) the CIA Director’s resignation after the revelation of something as banal in civilian life as adultery? What are the deeper political issues that led to the pre-emptive purge?
6. Why are critical political issues and policy disputes resolved under the guise of blackmail, smears and character assassination, rather than through open debates and discussions, especially on matters pertaining to the nation’s choice of strategic and tactical ‘allies’ and the conduct of overseas wars?
7. Has the purge and public humiliation of top US military officers become an acceptable form of “punishment by example”, a signal from civilian militarists that when it comes to dealing with politics toward the Middle East, the role of the military is not to question but to follow their (and Israel’s) directives?
8. How could a proven collaborator with the Israeli-Mossad and Zionist zealot like Jane Harmon emerge as a ‘leading candidate’ to replace General Petraeus, as Director of the CIA, within days of his resignation? What are the political links, past and present between Congressman Eric Cantor, (the fanatical leader of the pro-Israel power bloc in the US Congress, who handed Agent Humphries’ unauthorized files on Petraeus over to the FBI Director Muellar) and Zionist power broker Jane Harmon, a prominent candidate to replace Petraeus?
9. How will the ouster of Director Petraeus and Jane Harman’s possible appointment to head the CIA deepen Israeli influence and control of US Middle East policy and the US overtures to Islamist countries?
10. How will the humiliation of General Allen affect the US ‘withdrawal’ from the disaster in Afghanistan ?
The purge of top-level generals and officials from powerful US foreign policy and military posts reflects a further decay of our constitutional rights and residual democratic procedures: it is powerful proof of the inability of leadership at the highest level to resolve internecine conflicts without drawing out the ‘long knives’. The advance of the police state, where spy agencies have vastly expanded their political power over the citizens, has now evolved into the policing and purging of each other’s leadership: the FBI, CIA , Homeland Security, the NSA and the military all reach out and build alliances with the mass media, civilian executive and congressional officials as well as powerful foreign interest ‘lobbies’ to gain power and leverage in pursuit of their own visions of empire building.
The purge of General Petraeus and humiliation of General Allen is a victory for the civilian militarists who are unconditional supporters of Israel and therefore oppose any opening to ‘moderate’ Islamist regimes. They want a long-term and expanded US military presence in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
The real precipitating factor for this ugly ‘fight at the top’ is the crumbling of the US empire and how to deal with its new challenges. Signs of decay are everywhere: Military immorality is rampant; the be-medaled generals sodomize their subordinates and amass wealth via pillage of the public treasury and military contracts; politicians are bought and sold by millionaire financial donors, including agents of foreign powers, and foreign interests determine critical US foreign policy.
The disrepute of the US Congress is almost universal – over 87% of US citizen condemn ‘the House and Senate’ as harmful to public welfare, servants of their own self-enrichment and slaves of corruption. The economic elites are repeatedly involved in massive swindles of retail investors, mortgage holders and each other. Multi-national corporations and the fabulously wealthy engage in capital flight, fattening their overseas accounts. The Executive himself (the ever-smiling President Obama) sends clandestine death squads and mercenary-terrorists to assassinate adversaries in an effort to compensate for his incapacity to defend the empire with diplomacy or traditional military ground forces or to prop-up new client-states. Cronyism is rife: there is a revolving door between Wall Street and US Treasury and Pentagon officials. Public apathy and cynicism is rife; nearly 50% of the electorate doesn’t even vote in Presidential elections and, among those who do vote, over 80% don’t expect their elected officials to honor their promises.
Aggressive civilian militarists have gained control of key posts and are increasingly free of any constitutional constraints. Meanwhile the costs of military failures and burgeoning spy, security and military budgets soar while the fiscal and trade deficit grows. Faction fights among rival imperial cliques intensify; purges, blackmail, sex scandals and immorality in high places have become the norm. Democratic discourses are hollowed out: democratic state ideology has lost credibility. No sensible American believes in it anymore.
Is there a broom large enough to clean this filthy Augean stable? Will a ‘collective Hercules’ emerge from all this intrigue and corruption with the strength of character and commitment to lead the revolutionary charge? Surely the sell-out and crude humiliation of American military officials on behalf of the ‘chicken-hawk’ civilian militarists and their foreign interests should make many an officer re-think his own career, loyalty and commitment to the Constitution.
Source: Prof. James Petras | GlobalResearch.ca
The heavy loaded cargo boats, passenger liners, cruise ships and plentiful ferries packed with tourists steam by the Maiden Tower rising from the black rock amid lucid waters; they gingerly make their way past the mountain-like mosques on the mainland into the Bosporus, this huge God-made river running between the Med and the Black Sea. The City, one of the greatest Capitals of Man of all time, has straddled Europe and Asia since the days of the Roman Emperor Constantine, who established this New Rome. It was the biggest city on earth a millennium ago, and it is still vast. Fifteen million people live in the City, twenty million visit it annually. Its greatness explains a strange vision of the heretic Russian historian Anatol Fomenko who claimed that Jerusalem, Rome, Babylon, Moscow and London are but misplaced images of this city, the original Empire.
Despite its size and history, the city is alert and vibrant in a peaceful, even demure way. It does not feel crowded – apart from the hotspots. The streets are clean, the greenery is neatly trimmed, the ugly street flea markets of recent years are gone; old buildings have been given a facelift, crumbling palaces have been repaired at no cost spared. The Bosporus has been cleaned up too, and sewage no longer flows into it – for the first time ever. Modern freeways encircle and cross its suburbs but do not intrude into the historical precincts.
The former seat of the Caliphate and home to an Islamist government, the City found a good balance between faith and modernity. Sufi schools are plentiful and learned men discuss theology, comparing Aquinas and Palamas with Ibn Arabi and Ibn Tufail. Muezzins’ harmonious calls to prayer do not disturb café customers sipping their drinks. Girls are free to wear headscarves or miniskirts and they do exercise both options.
More importantly, the government does not subscribe to unrestricted market economics and has thereby avoided the neoliberal excesses of its neighbours. There are many municipally-owned cafés, especially in the parks, where prices are quite affordable, even in the luxurious old imperial palaces, where no entrance fees are charged. They do not serve alcohol, and attract families with children. Downtown, the rents are kept low to allow bookshops to survive and flourish. The global squeeze is as apparent in Turkey as everywhere else, but here poor people receive tangible subsidies in kind, while the salaried classes are given generous loans to tide them over. Prices are kept under control, avoiding rapid increases; conspicuous consumption is discouraged. The rich are rich, and the poor are poor, but rich are not ostentatious and the poor are not desperate.
People are modest, helpful and inoffensive;- a far cry from the Turkey of theMidnight Express. They are rather honest and straightforward, and do not make a show of themselves. They are not very artistic, and their cuisine is comparable to the British one. If it is not a great compliment, it was not meant to be: they were Empire builders, and such nations usually are no great gourmands. The French ate too well, and their women were too appealing for their empire to last.
Istanbul is not the only oasis of prosperity in the country, as is often the case with capital cities outside of Europe. Now I have travelled the breadth of Turkey and all over I’ve witnessed the modernisation of the last ten years. Roads are smooth, houses are in good repair, markets are full, people are well-dressed, the cities are neither drab nor garish but quite up-to-date. This is a great achievement of the moderate Islamist government led by Prime Minister Erdogan.
Turkey is no longer the basket case it was in 1960s and 1970s. I’ve met a few Turkish immigrants in Germany, who said that their fathers made a hasty decision when they left home for Europe forty years ago. They would like to go back to Turkey, though it would not be easy to find work and to reconnect to a new environment, for they were reared in Western Europe. Anyway, there is no mass emigration out of Turkey; the nightmare of millions of Turks moving to Europe has dissipated. They would rather stay at home, for the Turks are very proud of their own country.
Erdogan is popular with the people. He is a real charismatic, people tell me. He defeated his adversaries, and his position at the helm is undisputed. And for good reasons: Turkey is doing nicely, thank you. The country prospers, incomes have doubled, and the GNP tripled (a very remarkable one trillion euro GNP is within reach). The Erdogan government can really congratulate itself on the fine job they’ve done in Turkey.
The Turks have overcome the huge trauma of the Transfer, as the mass deportations and expulsions of 1920s are called. Though the Greeks of the City weren’t expelled, almost all other Christian communities of Turkey were sent to Greece, while the Muslims of Greece were deported to Turkey: a violent and painful divorce of two closely knit communities. As in many a divorce, the separated partners – the clever wife and the strong husband – spent years adjusting to their new position.
The Greeks suffered the most. They were spread all over the Empire and occupied central positions. Some Turkish historians prefer to call the Ottoman rule “The Turko-Greek Empire”. The Greeks were Great Viziers of the Empire; they ruled and managed the Med from Alexandria to Damascus to Istanbul; they traded and wrote poems in the days of the Second Rome just as they did under the sceptre of First Rome. Suddenly, they were corralled into a small and parochial Greece where they hardly could find their place. The Alexandrian poet Kavafy strongly felt that little Athens could never substitute for the loss of the great seaboard cities. Today’s Greek crisis can’t be understood without this bit of history.
The Turks suffered as well. Traditionally, they had served in the military and worked the soil; without the Greeks, trades and crafts declined, militarisation went unchecked, food shortages were common, life was drab and brutish, as if their culture had sailed overseas with the Greeks. Only now, many years later, the Turks have managed to recover, and recover they did.
Erdogan’s government is good to the Christian communities. The previous Kemalist governments of the Turkish Republic were viciously anti-Christian, even more than they were nationalistic and anti-Islamic. They deported even Caramanli Turks, for they were Christians. They forbade the remaining churches to be repaired; the priests could not be brought from abroad. Now, church properties are being restored, funds returned, priests are allowed to come, stay and acquire Turkish citizenship.
The Islamist government allowed the Greeks and Armenians who had left the country after the riots and pogroms of 1950s to come back, reclaim their property and settle again in Turkey. Previously unimaginable, an idea of a union with Greece began to be pondered again.
The Turks are not the only suitors of the beautiful Hellas: the Russians also would like to take her, their sister-in-Christ, ditched by the West, into the embrace of their Eurasian Union. So declared Sergey Glaziev, the coordinator of the union (including now Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan) at the recent Rhodes Forum, a top-crème gathering of Russians, Asians and dissident Westerners. The offers are not mutually exclusive: one can imagine their ménage-a-trois, a new Byzantine Empire Resurrected. The moderately Muslim and Turkic Kazakhstan is an old friend to Turkey, so such an alliance is plausible. Another turn of the screw by Frau Merkel, and it is may happen.
In Greece, re-evaluation of the Empire is also going on. There are voices calling for the reassessment of the past, for recognition of the advantages to both sides, and for proceeding cautiously. Dimitri Kitsikis is one such voice, and I’ve heard more of them while visiting Athens. The interaction is not limited to practicalities, either. Last Sunday, I went to a modest Greek Church in a suburb of Istanbul, and there I met a young Greek priest, a recent arrival from Greece who had already mastered Turkish, and even more surprisingly, I met a few ethnic Turks who had embraced Orthodox Christianity and were attending the service. The participants benevolently and indulgently smiled while they recited the Lord’s Prayer in Turkish.
And all these wonderful achievements they intend to destroy, squander and let go down the drain. I refer to the Turkish government’s plotting against Syria. It would be bad enough if they were to send their legions to Damascus. It would be wrong but comprehensible, for Damascus and Aleppo are as much parts of their past for Turks, as Kiev and Riga are for Russians, or Vienna and Tirol are for Germans. But what they are doing instead is much worse.
The Turks are about to replay the Afghan scenario as it was played by Pakistan: they bring together from all over the Muslim world the most fanatical militants, supply them with arms, and infiltrate them over the Syrian border under their artillery cover.
There are reports that the jihadists of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban were flownfrom North Waziristan in Pakistan to the Turkish border with Syria, for instance on a Turkish Air Airbus flight No. 709 on September 10, under auspices of the Turkish intelligence agency, via the Karachi-Istanbul flight route. The
93 militants were originally from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and included a group of Arabs residing in Waziristan. This report could not be independently checked, but there are many reports of foreign jihadists who made their way to Syria via Turkey.
This is exactly what Pakistan did under the US guidance in 1980s. Then, Afghanistan had a secular government, women worked as teachers, universities were full, factories were being built, and opium was unheard of; Pakistan was in a good shape, too. A few years later, Afghanistan imploded in civil war (under the guise of “fighting the godless communists”), and Pakistan followed it to perdition. After undoing Afghanistan, the warriors began to terrorise their Pakistani host. Now Pakistan is one of the most miserable countries in the world. It was eaten up by the disease they nourished and exported, by mindless jihadism.
This ideological disease is akin to biological warfare. You may hope your neighbours will be infected with the pest you have delivered, but you may be sure your population will eventually get it, too. For this reason nobody has tried biological warfare on a large scale. It is suicidal. And that is the equivalent of what the Turkish government is doing now. They bring jihadists to Syria, but it is only a question of time when the jihadists will turn on Turkey.
I respect the Islamic feelings of the Turks. I see them in the mosques; I know their Sufi orders and their mass appeal. So many Turks gather in Konya, where they venerate the memory of the great Sufi poet Rumi, who is loved from California to Teheran. The Islamic government was a real success in Turkey. So why do they now want to follow Pakistan’s way to perdition?
An essay written by Ahmet Davutoglu, Foreign Minister and chief promoter of Turkish intervention in Syria, answers this question. He wrote it as a university student, over 20 years ago, and an acquaintance who studied with him, remembers it well. We can and we should make a deal with Satan if necessary, the young Davutoglu had written.
In his view, Sunni Islam of the type practiced in the Empire under Sultan Selim the Grim and his successors (that postulates an unbridgeable schism between the Creator and Creation) is not just the only true faith; it is an iron-clad guarantee of good results. A state guided by it can’t do wrong. Even evil deeds by such a state will be turned by the Almighty into good results. For this reason, he wrote, the Empire managed to survive and rule for 600 years.
That’s why, wrote the young Davutoglu, Islamist Turkey may build alliances with powerful partners, and it is irrelevant whether these powers are bad or good. This means, that we may even make a Faustian pact with the devil himself, for we shall triumph by our beliefs and with the Almighty’s help. America is a Satan for Davutoglu, as it is for many Muslims, but armed with his dubious philosophy, he is prepared to join with Satan for the further glory of Turkey.
Could this very unorthodox reading of Islam be influenced by his contacts with Yezidis, whose attitude to Devil is at best ambiguous, or, more probably, with the Dönmeh, followers of Sabbatai Zevi who believed that everything is permitted, and a sin is the best way to salvation? People of more orthodox beliefs know that whoever deals with Satan will eventually come to grief, for no spoon is long enough to sup with him.
Then came the moment when his dubious theology was transformed into dubious policy. The US asked him to bring militants to Syria, and so he did.
My Turkish friends stressed that Erdogan personally does not subscribe to these theological beliefs, but is guided by practical considerations. The question of an alliance with the US and NATO caused a rift between Erdogan and his erstwhile teacher Necmettin Erbakan. Erbakan was against it; Erdogan considered it as a given. Erdogan carried a day; a majority of Erbakan’s followers went with Erdogan, formed the reformist AK Party, came to power ten years ago and have been generally successful. The minority formed the hardline (or even ‘revolutionary Islamist’) Saadet Party, which was not successful at the polls, though it retains a certain influence.
Unexpectedly for an outsider, it is the hardline Saadet Party that strongly objects to the Syrian adventure of Erdogan and Davutoglu. Though the intervention in Syria is often described as “Islamic help to slaughtered Muslims”, the Saadet leaders perceive it as an American plot against Syria and Turkey. The Saadet led strong demonstrations against the intervention.
Perhaps this is the right time for Prime Minister Erdogan to listen to his old comrades, disavow the devil-supping policy regarding Syria, and to stop the war machine before it destroys all of the achievements he can so rightly be proud of. The dream of bringing Syria into a closer union with Turkey still can be realised, but not through unleashing the dogs of war.
“Today, many Americans are asking — indeed I ask myself,” Hillary Clinton said, “how can this happen? How can this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction? This question reflects just how complicated, and at times, how confounding the world can be.” 1
The Secretary of State was referring to the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya September 11 that killed the US ambassador and three other Americans. US intelligence agencies have now stated that the attackers had ties to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.2
Yes, the world can indeed be complicated and confounding. But we have learned a few things. The United States began blasting Libya with missiles with the full knowledge that they were fighting on the same side as the al-Qaeda types. Benghazi was and is the headquarters for Muslim fundamentalists of various stripes in North Africa. However, it’s incorrect to claim that the United States (aka NATO) saved the city from destruction. The story of the “imminent” invasion of Benghazi by Moammar Gaddafi’s forces last year was only propaganda to justify Western intervention. And now the United States is intervening — at present without actual gunfire, as far as is known — against the government of Syria, with the full knowledge that they’re again on the same side as the al-Qaeda types. A rash of suicide bombings against Syrian government targets is sufficient by itself to dispel any doubts about that. And once again, the United States is participating in the overthrow of a secular Mideast government.
At the same time, the Muslim fundamentalists in Syria, as in Libya, can have no illusions that America loves them. A half century of US assaults on Mideast countries, the establishment of American military bases in the holy land of Saudi Arabia, and US support for dictatorships and for Israel’s genocide against the Palestinians have relieved them of such fanciful thoughts. So why is the United States looking to forcefully intervene once again? A tale told many times — world domination, oil, Israel, ideology, etc. Assad of Syria, like Gaddafi of Libya, has shown little promise as a reliable client state so vital to the American Empire.
It’s only the barrier set up by Russia and China on the UN Security Council that keeps NATO (aka the United States) from unleashing thousands of airborne missiles to “liberate” Syria as they did Libya. Russian and Chinese leaders claim that they were misled about Libya by the United States, that all they had agreed to was enforcing a “no-fly zone”, not seven months of almost daily missile attacks against the land and people of Libya. Although it’s very fortunate that the two powers refuse to give the US another green light, it’s difficult to believe that they were actually deceived last spring in regard to Libya. NATO doesn’t do peacekeeping or humanitarian interventions; it does war; bloody, awful war; and regime change. And they would undoubtedly be itching to show off their specialty in Syria — perhaps even without Security Council blessing — except that NATO and the US always prefer to attack people who are exceptionally defenseless, and Syria has ballistic missile capabilities and chemical weapons.
It’s likely that the American elections also serve to keep Obama from expanding the US role in Syria. He may have concluded that there are more votes in the Democratic Party base for peace this time than for waging war against his eighth (sic) country.
The propaganda bias in the Western media has been extreme. Day after day, month after month, we’ve been told of Syrian government attacks, using horrible means, almost invariably with the victims described as unarmed civilians; without any proof, often without any logic, that it was actually the government behind a particular attack, with the story’s source turning out to be an anti-government organization; rarely informing us of similar behavior on the part of the rebel forces. In May, the BBC included pictures of mass graves in Iraq in their coverage of an alleged Syrian government massacre in Houla, Syria. The station later apologized for the pictures saying that they had been submitted to the BBC by a rebel group. 3 On June 7, Germany’s leading daily, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, citing opponents of Assad, reported that the Houla massacre was in fact committed by anti-Assad Sunni militants, and that the bulk of the victims were members of the Alawi and Shia minorities, which have been largely supportive of Assad.
According to a report of Stratfor, the private and conservative American intelligence firm with high-level connections, many of whose emails were obtained by Wikileaks: “most of the [Syrian] opposition’s more serious claims have turned out to be grossly exaggerated or simply untrue.” They claimed “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 warned 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 then stated that any suggestions of massacres were unlikely because the Syrian “regime has calibrated its crackdowns to avoid just such a scenario … that could lead to an intervention based on humanitarian grounds.”4
Democracy Now — long a standard of progressive radio-TV news — has been almost as bad as CNN and al Jazeera (the latter owned by Qatar, an active military participant in both Libya and Syria). The heavy bias ofDemocracy Now in this area goes back to the very beginning of the Arab Spring. The program made some unfortunate choices in its mideast news correspondents, seemingly only because they spoke Arabic and/or had contacts in the region. Where have you gone Amy Goodman? RT (Russia Today) has stood almost alone amongst English-language television news sources in offering an alternative to the official Western line.
Michel Chossudovsky of Global Research, notes that “Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now Syria are but a sequence of stops on a global roadmap of permanent war that also swings through Iran. Russia and China are the terminal targets.” When the Syrian government is overthrown — and in all likelihood the Western forces will not relent until that happens — the al Qaeda types will be dominant in the Syrian version of Benghazi. The American ambassador would be well advised to not visit.
Can you believe that I almost feel sorry for the American military?
In Afghanistan, the US military has tried training sessions, embedded cultural advisers, recommended reading lists, and even a video game designed to school American troops in local custom. But 11 years into the war, NATO troops and Afghan soldiers are still beset by a dangerous lack of cultural awareness, officials say, contributing to a string of attacks by Afghan police and soldiers against their military partners. Fifty-one coalition troops have been killed this year by their Afghan counterparts. While some insider attacks have been attributed to Taliban infiltrators, military officials say the majority stem from personal disputes and misunderstandings.
So the Afghan army is trying something new, most likely with American input: a guide to the strange ways of the American soldier. The goal is to convince Afghan troops that when their Western counterparts do something deeply insulting, it’s likely a product of cultural ignorance and not worthy of revenge. The pamphlet they’ve produced includes the following advice:
- “Please do not get offended if you see a NATO member blowing his/her nose in front of you.”
- “When Coalition members get excited, they may show their excitement by patting one another on the back or the behind. They may even do this to you if they are proud of the job you’ve done. Once again, they don’t mean to offend you.”
- “When someone feels comfortable in your presence, they may even put their feet on their own desk while speaking with you. They are by no means trying to offend you. They simply don’t know or have forgotten the Afghan custom.” (Pointing the soles of one’s shoes at someone is considered a grievous insult in Afghanistan.)
- The guide also warns Afghan soldiers that Western troops might wink at them or inquire about their female relatives or expose their private parts while showering — all inappropriate actions by Afghan standards.5
Hmmm. I wonder if the manual advises telling Afghan soldiers that urinating on dead Afghan bodies, cutting off fingers, and burning the Koran are all nothing more than good ol’ Yankee customs, meaning no offense of course.
And does it point out that no Afghan should be insulted by being tortured in an American military prison since the same is done at home to American prisoners.
Most importantly, the Afghan people must be made to understand that bombing them, invading them, and occupying them for 11 years are all for their own good. It’s called “freedom and democracy”.
I almost feel sorry for the American military in Afghanistan. As I’ve written about the US soldiers in Iraq, they’re “can-do” Americans, accustomed to getting their way, habituated to thinking of themselves as the best, expecting the world to share that sentiment, and they’re frustrated as hell, unable to figure out “why they hate us”, why we can’t win them over, why we can’t at least wipe them out. Don’t they want freedom and democracy? … They’re can-do Americans, using good ol’ American know-how and Madison Avenue savvy, sales campaigns, public relations, advertising, selling the US brand, just like they do it back home; employing media experts, psychologists, even anthropologists … and nothing helps. And how can it if the product you’re selling is toxic, inherently, from birth, if you’re ruining your customers’ lives, with no regard for any kind of law or morality, health or environment. They’re can-do Americans, used to playing by the rules — theirs; and they’re frustrated as hell.
In case you’re distressed about the possibility of a Romney-Ryan government, here’s some good news:
There are many people in the United States who are reluctant to be active against US foreign policy, or even seriously criticize it, because a Democrat is in the White House, a man promising lots of hope and change. Some of them, however, might become part of the anti-war movement if a Republican were in the White House, even though pursuing the same foreign policy. And we can be sure the policy would be the same for there’s no difference between the two parties when it comes to foreign policy. There’s simply no difference, period, though each party changes its rhetoric a bit depending on whether it’s in the White House or on the outside looking in.
Similarly, the movement for a national single-payer health insurance program has been set back because of President Obama. His health program is like prescribing an aspirin for cancer, but the few baby steps the program takes toward bringing the United States into the 21st century amongst developed nations is enough to keep many American health-care activists content for the time being, especially with Obama facing a tough election. They are satisfied with so little. With a Republican in the White House, however, there might be a resurgence of a more militant health-care activism.
Moreover, if the Republicans had been in power the past three years and done EXACTLY what Obama has done in the sphere of civil liberties and human rights, many Obamaites would have no problem calling the United States by its right name: a police state. I mean that literally. Not the worst police state in the history of the world. Not even the worst police state in the world today. But, nonetheless, a police state. Just read the news each day, carefully.
Sam Smith, editor of the Progressive Review, has written: “Barack Obama is the most conservative Democratic president we’ve ever had. In an earlier time, there would have been a name for him: Republican.”
Oh but there’s Social Security and Medicare, you say. Can Romney be trusted to not make serious cuts to these vital programs? His choice of running mate, Paul Ryan, is practically a poster child for such cuts.
Well, can Obama be trusted to not make such cuts? Consider this recent comment in the New York Times: “[Obama] particularly believes that Democrats do not receive enough credit for their willingness to accept cuts in Medicare and Social Security.” 6
As somebody once said, the United States doesn’t need a third party. It needs a second party.
The only important cause that might significantly benefit from a Democratic administration is appointments to the Supreme Court, if there is in fact an opening. But does this fully override the benefits of Obama being out of office as outlined above?
Dear Reader: I truthfully do not want to be so cynical. Despite the quips, it’s not really fun. But how else can one react to the Republicans and Democrats given their behavior at their recent conventions? If they can so obviously ignore the wishes of their own delegates, what can the average American citizen expect? Have a look at these remarkable scenes caught on video or read this account of the voice votes at the recent conventions.
How many voters does it take to change a light bulb?
None. Because voters can’t change anything.
So what to do?
As I’ve said before: Inasmuch as I can’t see violent revolution succeeding in the United States (something deep inside tells me that we couldn’t quite match the government’s firepower, not to mention its viciousness), I can offer no solution to stopping the imperial beast other than this: Educate yourself and as many others as you can, raising their political and ideological consciousness, providing them with the factual ammunition and arguments needed to sway others, increasing the number of those in the opposition until it raises the political price for those in power, until it reaches a critical mass, at which point … I can’t predict the form the explosion will take or what might be the trigger … But you have to have faith. And courage.
Some further thoughts on American elections and democracy:
Richard Reeves: “The American political system is essentially a contract between the Republican and Democratic parties, enforced by federal and state two-party laws, all designed to guarantee the survival of both no matter how many people despise or ignore them.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832): ”In politics, as on the sickbed, people toss from one side to the other, thinking they will be more comfortable.”
Alexander Cockburn: “There was a time once when ‘lesser of two evils’ actually meant something momentous, like the choice between starving to death on a lifeboat, or eating the first mate.”
U.N. Human Development Report, 1993: “Elections are a necessary, but certainly not a sufficient, condition for democracy. Political participation is not just a casting of votes. It is a way of life.”
Gore Vidal: ”How to get people to vote against their interests and to really think against their interests is very clever. It’s the cleverest ruling class that I have ever come across in history. It’s been 200 years at it. It’s superb.”
Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius: ”The opinion of 10,000 men is of no value if none of them know anything about the subject.”
Michael Parenti: ”As demonstrated in Russia and numerous other countries, when faced with a choice between democracy without capitalism or capitalism without democracy, Western elites unhesitatingly embrace the latter.”
- USA Today, September 12, 2012
- Washington Post, September 28, 2012
- BBC News, May 29, 2012
- Huffington Post, December 19, 2011
- Washington Post, September 28, 2012
- New York Times, “Obama Is an Avid Reader, and Critic, of the News“, Amy Chozick, August 8, 2012
“The hottest places in Hell are reserved for those, who in time of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.” – Dante
The world watches as a nation is torn, slow motion, at the seams. Money and geopolitics has caused a feeding frenzy of western nations biting and tearing at Syria, all hoping to profit from the regime’s destruction.
Toward this effort, England, France, and the United States announced increased support to the “rebels” of Syria. The Obama administration promised $45 million more in funding for aid that has now totaled $175 million (is it any wonder there are budget problems inside the U.S.?).
And although much of the U.S. aid is designated as “humanitarian,” this money will directly help the military mission by bolstering the prestige of opposition groups, who will use the U.S. aid to gain adherents by being able to feed and house refugees fleeing the destruction (assuming that not all of this money will simply be used to buy guns).
Of course there is no accounting of the amount of money and arms the CIA is funneling into the country. But even The New York Times has admitted the CIA’s involvement; in June it wrote:
“A small number of C.I.A. officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government, according to American officials and Arab intelligence officers…the weapons, including automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons, are being funneled mostly across the Turkish border by way of a shadowy network of intermediaries including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the officials said.”
There you have the Syrian opposition in a nutshell: groups of mercenaries funded by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United States and France, and the Muslim Brotherhood inside Syria. All of these groups have their own self-interest in toppling the Syrian government, while destroying the country and its people in the process.
Saudi Arabia has used the Muslim Brotherhood as a key tool in its foreign policy for decades, funding the organization in countries all over the Middle East and North Africa. When Saudi Arabia beckons, the Muslim Brotherhood and associated groups can be used to destabilize “unfriendly” regimes in the name of “jihad” — officially declared by clerics who work in tandem with the Saudi Arabian government to recruit fighters for the effort. This is why there are “terrorist” groups now fighting to overthrow the Syrian government, including Al Qaeda — itself born from the purse strings of Saudi Arabia, like the Taliban (there is an excellent chapter about this dynamic in Vijay Prashad’s book, the Darker Nations).
It is very revealing that, after the U.S. has spent hundreds of millions of dollars and large amounts of weaponry has been trafficked into the country, the Syrian government still controls the vast majority of the country. This is because the majority of people inside Syria do not support the so-called Syrian Opposition. If this were the case, the Syrian government would have long since been overthrown. The revolutionaries of Egypt and Tunisia did not need any outside help in toppling their government, nor large amounts of money or weaponry.
Therefore, the steady destruction of Syria will continue until it reaches a Libya-like crescendo: a “no fly zone” will be the goal of the western powers, with the motive of toppling the regime.
But like in Libya, a no fly zone equals total war. Syria has advanced Russian-made surface-to-air missiles, which must be destroyed to enforce such a no fly zone. Syria also has fighter jets that must be destroyed. Additional ground support must be destroyed. And like Libya, once the bombs start dropping, the mission quickly changes from a “no fly zone” to “regime change,” i.e., war.
But Syria has a much more powerful army than Libya, requiring that the U.S. military become directly involved in the war, as opposed to outsourcing the conflict to England and France as they did in Libya. Only the U.S. military and its subordinate allies have the required weapons to deal with Syria’s Russian-made weaponry.
But the American people hate war, and thus the U.S. government must introduce the Syrian war slowly, through non-stop anti-Syria media coverage, in the hopes that opinion polls shift enough to allow direct military intervention, as opposed to the current indirect type.
What do the people of Syria really want? The New York Times revealed that, inside Syria, a group of twenty opposition groups recently met in Syria’s capital to demand that Syria’s democratic transition happen peacefully, in effect denouncing the armed rebels who are being funded by foreign nations.
The international implications of this war have already begun to manifest. Neighboring countries are experiencing stress and destabilization by the flood of refugees from Syria. The Kurds in Syria may soon call for independence, which will incite further violence from Turkey. Hezbollah, based in Lebanon, and Iran will work doubly hard to re-enforce the Syrian government as western powers do the opposite.
Ethnic and religious tensions are being stoked in all neighboring countries, which has already led to violence and will be used by politicians in those countries for political aims, leading to more violence. It’s also possible if an official war is declared against Syria, other powers will use the chaos as a shield to pursue their own interests —Israel for example, may opportunistically bomb Iran. Whatever the course of events, the emerging war in Syria has the potential not only to turn the Middle East into dust, but to drag larger powers like Russia — an ally of Syria — into conflict with the United States.
All working people in the United States have a duty to denounce this U.S.-made humanitarian tragedy and the future threat of war.
The latest “rights group” to jump on Russia’s President Putin about Pussy Riot is RootsAction. Following the propaganda line that Washington has established, RootsAction’s appeal for money and petition signers states that the three Russian women were sentenced to two years in prison “for the ‘crime’ of performing a song against Russia’s president Vladimir Putin in a Moscow church.”
This statement is a propagandistic misrepresentation of the offense for which the women were tried and convicted.
I have expressed my sympathies for the convicted women, and as a member of Amnesty International and the American Civil Liberties Union, I support human rights.
But I do not support the use of human rights organizations in behalf of Washington’s propaganda.
If Putin or some other official has the power to commute the sentences, I hope he uses it. But I do not think that the concerted Western propaganda campaign against Putin encourages that result. Twice as many Russians support the sentence than oppose it.
If the sentence is commuted in response to the Western propaganda campaign against Putin, Russian nationalists will depict Putin as a weak leader unable to stand up to Western intimidation. The more internal dissension there is in Russia, the easier for Washington to marginalize the country and kick it out of Washington’s path to the overthrow of Syria and Iran by brutal human-rights-violating violence, such as Washington has applied to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya.
The State Department, the EU, and human rights groups are sufficiently politically astute to be aware of this fact. Yet, the propaganda continues.
As Putin has said, “we know what Comrade Wolf is up to.” But what about the human rights organizations? What are they up to? Have they been incorporated into Washington’s propaganda machine, like the Western media, or are they latching on to Pussy Riot as a visibility and fundraising issue for themselves?
Do-good organizations hurt for money, because compassion for others is not in abundant supply. Pussy Riot is a fundraising opportunity. If the Russian government succumbs to the propaganda, it provides an opportunity for human rights organizations to tout their influence. In other words, human rights organizations have independent reasons to align with Washington’s propaganda. Their alignment does not necessarily mean that they are conscious tools of Washington.
You can bet your last dollar that Washington, which dismisses as “collateral damage” the hundreds of thousands of women, children, and village elders murdered in Washington’s wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, and Syria, is not concerned with the three Pussy Riot women’s 2-year prison sentence.
Washington has kept the American hero, Bradley Manning in prison for two years without a trial. Washington claims the power, strictly prohibited by the US Constitution, that “scrap of paper,” to hold US citizens indefinitely in prison without due process of law and to murder them on suspicion alone without due process of law. Does any sentient person really believe that such a government gives a hoot about a two-year prison sentence for three Russian women?
The Western media is silent about the collapse of the United States into tyranny. But, on cue from Washington, the Western media is loud about the dire plight of Pussy Riot.
For example, this from the UK’s The Week with First Post: “Beyond Pussy Riot: slow death of freedom in Putin’s Russia.” Louisa Loveluck introduces her report: “The Russian government’s distaste for freedom of expression has been in the headlines recently thanks to the trial and subsequent imprisonment of three members of punk collective Pussy Riot. But the persecution of these women forms only a small part of a much broader crackdown on civil liberties in President Vladimir Putin’s Russia.”
Has Putin, like the Amerikan presidents Bush and Obama, declared that he has the power to throw Russian citizens in a dungeon for life without ever presenting evidence in a court? No, he has not.
Has Putin, like the Amerikan president Obama, declared that he has the power to assassinate Russian citizens without due process of law? No, he has not.
Has Putin, like the Amerikan president Obama, declared that he has the legal authority to invade any country of which he disapproves and to overthrow its government? No, he has not.
So why is the UK’s Louisa Loveluck going on about a two-year prison sentence in Russia when the UK government, in defiance of international law and in obedience to its Amerikan master, refuses safe passage to Ecuador for Julian Assange, who has been granted political asylum? Even “authoritarian” China grants safe passage to those granted asylum.
The hypocrisy of the West, including the rank hypocrisy of human rights organizations, is nauseating. It makes one ashamed.
Julian Assange faces life imprisonment in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London because the puppet UK government is helping Washington make an example of what happens to journalists who dare to publish the truth about Washington’s mendacity and war crimes.
Is Washington paying Louisa Loveluck’s salary or is she, along with the First Post, simply terrified of Washington’s power? Or are Ms. Loveluck and the First Post simply going with the flow and avoiding criticism by not differing from the propaganda line?
No one will investigate, so we will never know.
Meanwhile in “freedom and democracy” america, at their Tampa, Florida, nominating convention, the Republican Party showed its true colors. It is a Brownshirt Party.
The tyrannical Republican machine refused to allow Ron Paul’s name to be mentioned or his delegate count to be presented.
Reports from the Republican nomination convention read like reports of Stalin’s takeover of the Communist Party or the Nazi takeover of the German state. Rules adopted at the convention eliminate any grass roots input. The Republican politburo is supreme. The party is subservient, and the members’ voices are eliminated. Mimicking Lenin, the Republicans declared that Republican rule “means neither more nor less than unlimited power, resting directly on force, not limited by anything, not restricted by any laws, nor any absolute rules. Nothing else but that.”
As Mother Jones reported, Ron Paul supporters shouted from the convention floor, “Fuck You, Tyrants!”
The Republicans are the party of “freedom and democracy.” The Republicans are the party most controlled by the neoconservatives, who are strongly allied with Israel’s far right-wing government and are most hostile to the US Constitution. The Republicans are the party that gave us the PATRIOT Act, the first massive assault on the US Constitution. The Republicans are the party that gave us 9/11. The Republicans are the party that gave us the $3 trillion war against Iraq based on the Republican party’s lies about “weapons of mass destruction.” The Republicans are the party that gave us the $3 trillion war in Afghanistan based on lies about Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. The Republicans are the party that gave us the supremacy of the President over both the US Constitution and US statutory law; the executive branch is bound by neither according to the Republican Federalist Society members of the US Department of Justice (sic).
Obama is a despicable patsy, a front man for powerful private interests, and Democrats should be totally ashamed to have elevated such a cowardly lowlife. But as awful as Obama is, a vote for Republicans is a vote for Hitler or Stalin. Indeed, the election of Romney and Ryan would be worse than either.
Source: Paul Craig Roberts
“We pledge allegiance to the republic for which America stands and not to its empire for which it is now suffering.” 1
Louis XVI needed a revolution, Napoleon needed two historic military defeats, the Spanish Empire in the New World needed multiple revolutions, the Russian Czar needed a communist revolution, the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires needed World War I, the Third Reich needed World War II, the Land of the Rising Sun needed two atomic bombs, the Portuguese Empire in Africa needed a military coup at home. What will the American Empire need?
Perhaps losing the long-held admiration and support of one group of people after another, one country after another, as the empire’s wars, bombings, occupations, torture, and lies eat away at the facade of a beloved and legendary “America”; an empire unlike any other in history, that has intervened seriously and grievously, in war and in peace, in most countries on the planet, as it preached to the world that the American Way of Life was a shining example for all humanity and that America above all was needed to lead the world.
The Wikileaks documents and videos have provided one humiliation after another … lies exposed, political manipulations revealed, gross hypocrisies, murders in cold blood, … followed by the torture of Bradley Manning and the persecution of Julian Assange. Washington calls the revelations “threats to national security”, but the world can well see it’s simply plain old embarrassment. Manning’s defense attorneys have asked the military court on several occasions to specify the exact harm done to national security. The court has never given an answer. If hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, consider an empire embarrassed.
And we now have the international soap opera, L’Affaire Assange, starring Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, Ecuador, and Julian Assange. The United States’ neo-colonies of Sweden (an active warring member of NATO in all but name) and the United Kingdom (with its “special relationship” to the United States) know what is expected of them to earn a pat on the head from their Washington uncle. We can infer that Sweden has no legitimate reason to demand the extradition of Julian Assange from London from the fact that it has repeatedly refused offers to question Assange in the UK and repeatedly refused to explain why it has refused to do so.
The Brits, under “immense pressure from the Obama administration”, as reported to former British ambassador Craig Murray by the UK Foreign Office,2 threatened, in a letter to the Ecuadoran government, to raid the Ecuadoran embassy in London to snatch Assange — “[You] should be aware that there is a legal basis in the United Kingdom, the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act of 1987, which would allow us to take action to arrest Mr. Assange in the existing facilities of the embassy”. Over the August 18 weekend the London police actually made their way into the building’s internal fire escape, coming within a few feet of Assange’s room, as he could hear. The law cited by the Brits is, of course, their own law, one not necessarily with any international standing.
The UK has now formally withdrawn its threat against the embassy, probably the result of much international indignation toward Her Majesty’s Government. The worldwide asylum system would fall apart if the nation granting the asylum were punished for it. In this violent world of terrorists, imperialists, and other dreadfuls it’s comforting to know that an old fashioned value like political asylum can still be honored.
A look back at some US and UK behavior in regard to embassies and political asylum is both interesting and revealing:
In 1954, when the United States overthrew the democratically-elected social democrat Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala and replaced him with a military government headed by Col. Carlos Castillo Armas, many Guatemalans took refuge in foreign embassies. US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles insisted that the new Guatemalan government raid those embassies and arrest those individuals, whom he referred to as “communists”. But Castillo Armas refused to accede to Dulles’ wishes on this issue. Stephen Schlesinger and Stephen Kinzer, in their comprehensive history of the coup,3 state:
“In the end, Castillo Armas disregarded Dulles’ suggestions. He himself was a product of the widespread belief in Latin America that embassy asylum and safe-conduct passes were a fair resolution to political conflicts. Virtually every politically active Guatemalan, including Castillo Armas, had sought political asylum in an embassy at one time or another and had obtained safe conduct from the government. Dulles’ suggestion for a ‘modification’ of the asylum doctrine was not even popular within the American Embassy.”
It should be noted that one of those who sought asylum in the Argentine Embassy in Guatemala was a 25-year-old Argentine doctor named Ernesto “Che” Guevara.
Baltasar Garzon, the Spanish judge who is one of Assange’s lawyers, came to international attention in 1998 when he indicted former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet while he was in England. But the British declined to send Pinochet to Spain to face the indictment, in effect giving him political asylum, and allowed this proverbial mass murderer and torturer to walk free and eventually return to Chile. Julian Assange, not charged or found guilty of anything, is a de facto prisoner of the UK; while the New York Times and the BBC and the numerous other media giants, who did just what Assange did by publishing Wikileaks articles and broadcasting Wikileaks videos, walk free.
This past April, Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng escaped house arrest in China and took refuge at the American Embassy in Beijing, sparking diplomatic tension between the two countries. But the “authoritarian” Chinese government did not threaten to enter the American Embassy to arrest Chen and soon allowed him to accept an American offer of safe passage to US soil. How will Julian Assange ever obtain safe passage to Ecuador?
In August 1989, while the Cold War still prevailed many East Germans crossed into fellow-Soviet-bloc state Czechoslovakia and were granted political asylum in the West German embassy. How would the United States — which has not said a word against the British threat to invade the Ecuadoran embassy — have reacted if the East Germans or the Czechs had raided the West German embassy or blocked the East Germans from leaving it? As matters turned out, West Germany took the refugee-seekers to West Germany by train without being impeded by the Soviet bloc. A few months later, the weaker “Evil Empire” collapsed, leaving the entire playing field, known as the world, to the stronger “Evil Empire”, which has been on belligerence autopilot ever since.
In 1986, after the French government refused the use of its air space to US warplanes headed for a bombing raid on Libya, the planes were forced to take another, longer route. When they reached Libya they bombed so close to the French embassy that the building was damaged and all communication links were disabled.4
In 1999, NATO (aka the USA), purposely (sic) bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.5
After Assange took refuge in the Ecuadoran embassy and was granted asylum by the South American country, the US State Department declared: “The United States is not a party to the 1954 OAS [Organization of American States] Convention on Diplomatic Asylum and does not recognize the concept of diplomatic asylum as a matter of international law.”6
Ecuador called for a meeting at the OAS of the foreign ministers of member countries to discuss the whole situation. The United States opposed the request. For Washington the issue was simple: The UK obeys international law and extradites Assange to Sweden. (And then, chuckle-chuckle, Sweden sends the bastard to us.) End of discussion. Washington did not want the issue blown up and prolonged any further. But of the 26 nations voting at the OAS only three voted against the meeting: The US, Canada, and Trinidad & Tobago; perhaps another example of what was mentioned above about a dying empire losing the long-held admiration and support of one country after another.
The price Ecuador may pay for its courage … Washington Post editorial, June 20, 2012:
“There is one potential check on [Ecuadoran president Rafael] Correa’s ambitions. The U.S. ‘empire’ he professes to despise happens to grant Ecuador (which uses the dollar as its currency) special trade preferences that allow it to export many goods duty-free. A full third of Ecuadoran foreign sales ($10 billion in 2011) go to the United States, supporting some 400,000 jobs in a country of 14 million people. Those preferences come up for renewal by Congress early next year. If Mr. Correa seeks to appoint himself America’s chief Latin American enemy and Julian Assange’s protector between now and then, it’s not hard to imagine the outcome.”
On several occasions President Obama, when pressed to investigate Bush and Cheney for war crimes, has declared: “I prefer to look forward rather than backwards”. Picture a defendant before a judge asking to be found innocent on such grounds. It simply makes laws, law enforcement, crime, justice, and facts irrelevant. Picture Julian Assange before a military court in Virginia using this argument. Picture the reaction to this by Barack Obama, who has become the leading persecutor of whistleblowers in American history.
Since L’Affaire Assange captured world headlines the United States, as well as the United Kingdom, have on several occasions made statements about the deep-seated international obligation of nations to honor extradition requests from other nations. The United States, however, has a history of ignoring such requests, whether made formally or informally, for persons living in the US who are ideological allies. Here’s a partial sample from recent years:
- Former Venezuelan president Carlos Andres Perez, whom the Venezuelan government demanded be turned over to stand trial for his role in suppressing riots in 1989. He died in 2010 in Miami. (Associated Press, December 27, 2010)
- Former Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada fled to the United States in 2003 to avoid a trial for the death of about 60 people in La Paz during a military crackdown on demonstrators. In 2008, Bolivia formally served the US government with a request to extradite him back to Bolivia, which was not acceded to. (Associated Press, February 13, 2006; also see his Wikipedia entry)
- In 2010, a US federal judge denied Argentina’s extradition request for former military officer Roberto Bravo, who was facing 16 murder charges stemming from a 1972 massacre of leftist guerrillas in his homeland. (Associated Press, November 2, 2010)
- Luis Posada, a Cuban-born citizen of Venezuela, masterminded the bombing of a Cuban airline in 1976, killing 73 civilians. Inasmuch as part of the plotting took place in Venezuela, that government formally asked the United States for his extradition in 2005. But instead of extraditing him, the United States prosecuted him for minor immigration infractions that came to naught. Posada continues to live as a free man in the United States.
- In 2007 German prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 13 suspected CIA operatives who had abducted German citizen Khaled el-Masri in 2003 and flown him to Afghanistan for interrogation (read torture). The CIA then realized they had kidnapped the wrong man and dumped el-Masri on the side of an Albanian road. Subsequently, the German Justice Minster announced that she would no longer request extradition, citing US refusal to arrest or hand over the agents. (The Guardian (London), January 7, 2011)
- In November 2009 an Italian judge convicted a CIA Station Chief and 22 other Americans, all but one being CIA operatives, for kidnapping a Muslim cleric, Abu Omar, from the streets of Milan in 2003 and flying him to Egypt for the usual interrogation. All those convicted had left Italy by the time of the judge’s ruling and were thus tried in absentia. In Italy they are considered fugitives. Although there were verdicts, arrest warrants and extradition requests in the case, the Italian government refused to formally forward the requests to their close allies, the Americans; which, in any event, would of course have been futile. (Der Spiegel [Germany] online, December 17, 2010, based on a Wikileaks US cable)
The hidden, obvious, peculiar, fatal, omnipresent bias of American mainstream media concerning US foreign policy
There are more than 1,400 daily newspapers in the United States. Can you name a single paper, or a single TV network, that was unequivocally opposed to the American wars carried out against Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Panama, Grenada, and Vietnam? Or even opposed to any two of these wars? How about one? (I’ve been asking this question for years and so far I’ve gotten only one answer — Someone told me that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer had unequivocally opposed the invasion of Iraq. Can anyone verify that or name another case?)
In 1968, six years into the Vietnam war, the Boston Globe surveyed the editorial positions of 39 leading US papers concerning the war and found that “none advocated a pull-out”.7
Now, can you name an American daily newspaper or TV network that more or less gives any support to any US government ODE (Officially Designated Enemy)? Like Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, Fidel or Raul Castro of Cuba, Bashar al-Assad of Syria, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, Rafael Correa of Ecuador (even before the current Assange matter), or Evo Morales of Bolivia? I mean that presents the ODE’s point of view in a reasonably fair manner most of the time? Or any ODE of the recent past like Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia, Moammar Gaddafi of Libya, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, or Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti?
Who in the mainstream media supports Hamas of Gaza? Or Hezbollah of Lebanon?
Who in the mainstream media is outspokenly critical of Israel’s domestic or foreign policies? And keeps his/her job?
Who in the mainstream media treats Julian Assange or Bradley Manning as the heros they are?
And this same mainstream media tell us that Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, et al. do not have a real opposition media.
The ideology of the American mainstream media is the belief that they don’t have any ideology; they are instead what they call “objective”.
It’s been said that the political spectrum concerning US foreign policy in the America mainstream media “runs the gamut from A to B.”
Long before the Soviet Union broke up, a group of Russian writers touring the United States were astonished to find, after reading the newspapers and watching television, that almost all the opinions on all the vital issues were the same. “In our country,” said one of them, “to get that result we have a dictatorship. We imprison people. We tear out their fingernails. Here you have none of that. How do you do it? What’s the secret?”8
On October 8, 2001, the second day of the US bombing of Afghanistan, the transmitters for the Taliban government’s Radio Shari were bombed and shortly after this the US bombed some 20 regional radio sites. US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the targeting of these facilities, saying: “Naturally, they cannot be considered to be free media outlets. They are mouthpieces of the Taliban and those harboring terrorists.”9
- Sam Smith, editor of the Progressive Review ↩
- Craig Murray, “America’s Vassal Acts Decisively and Illegally: Former UK Ambassador“, Information Clearing House, August 16, 2012 ↩
- Bitter Fruit: The Untold Story of the American Coup in Guatemala (1982), pp.222-3 ↩
- Associated Press, “France Confirms It Denied U.S. Jets Air Space, Says Embassy Damaged”,
April 15, 1986 ↩
- William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, pp.308-9 ↩
- Josh Rogin, “State Department: The U.S. does not recognize the concept of ‘diplomatic asylum’”, Foreign Policy, August 17, 2012 ↩
- Boston Globe, February 18, 1968, p.2-A ↩
- John Pilger, New Statesman (London), February 19, 2001 ↩
- Index on Censorship (London), October 18, 2001 ↩
Marine General John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, says one possible explanation for a spike in killings of American troops by their Afghan partners is the strain of fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ended on August 18. He said that while the reasons for the killings are not fully understood, the effect of Ramadan fasting is “likely among the causes.” There have been at least 32 attacks so far this year, killing 40 coalition members—mostly Americans—ten of them in August.
“The idea that they will fast during the day places great strain on them,” Allen said, adding that the stress may have been compounded by Ramadan falling during the heat of summer and the height of the fighting season. He acknowledged that hunger and heat may not be the primary causes for the killings, but it is among many “different and complex reasons for why we think this may have increased” lately.
Welcome to the Ramadan-Induced Sudden Jihad Syndrome. Presumably next year, the U.S. Army is going to set up counseling centers and group therapy sessions for the Afghan soldiers and policemen who cease to be responsible for their actions due to the “great strain.”
As for the “different and complex reasons,” in Allen’s account the words “Islam” and “jihad” did not make an appearance. In addition to the mental “strain” of fasting, he also cited Taliban infiltration of Afghan security forces and unnamed “personal Afghan grievances” against U.S. troops. Back in Washington, Colonel Lapan, spokesman for the US Joint Chiefs of Staff commented, “we don’t know what’s causing [the attacks], and we’re looking at everything.” As for the experts, Mark Jacobsen, a defense specialist at the German Marshall Fund of the U.S. and a former senior NATO civilian representative in Afghanistan, said Allen’s theory about the role of Ramadan in the attacks is “very reasonable.” John Agoglia, an executive at IDS International, which provides cultural awareness training for U.S. troops in Afghanistan, said in an interview that the insider attacks were partly linked to a Taliban effort to “psychologically dislocate” Afghans from their American trainers and advisers.
While the Fasting Factor is a demented fantasy, the insistence on the “infiltration” by the Taliban and its “psychological dislocation” campaign is factually incorrect. As The New York Times reported on August 18, the military has analyzed the attacks and the results have been worrisome: “Only a handful of the 31 attacks this year have clearly been a result of Taliban activity like infiltration. That suggests a level of malaise or anger within the Afghan forces that could complicate NATO’s training program, which relies on trust and cooperation.”
“Could complicate” implies that this has not happened yet, which is ridiculous. In May 2011, a U.S. Army study established that killings of Americans and other NATO troops by Afghan soldiers and policemen were not “rare and isolated events.” In ten months (July 2010-May 2011) over thirty were murdered by Afghan national security forces. The problem escalated following the alleged burning of Qurans at an American military base last February, when two American officers were killed by their Afghan “colleagues” inside the Interior Ministry in Kabul. After that incident Gen. Allen withdrew his men from Afghan government facilities, while NATO personnel in the capital had to limit their contact with Afghan government institutions to cell phones and e-mail. Another crisis started on March 11, when an American sergeant killed 16 unarmed Afghan civilians in a village near Kandahar. The “insider killings” reached a new high after that incident, steadily escalating to two deaths a week in August.
The primary reason for the killings is the religiously inspired animosity most Afghans feel for the infidel in general, and Americans in particular. It is driven by the eminently orthodox dogma of jihad—supported by countless examples through history—that if a Muslim land is occupied by infidels, it is obligatory for the Muslims to resist the kufr—soldiers and civilians alike—and kill them, while pretending to be their friends if this facilitates the desired outcome.
A war waged by non-Muslims in a predominantly Muslim land is inevitably a religious war. This explanation—which is at least worthy of serious consideration by the military authorities, for the sake of the dead and others who are in harm’s way—is not allowed into the discourse of top field commanders, their professional advisors and political masters. They act like oncologists who willfully won’t, or else are not allowed to, diagnose metastatic cancer. Their political masters prefer to stick to their politically correct dogmas than to accept an explanation that is at odds with their world view. As a result, American and allied soldiers die.
In Afghanistan, the hatred of the infidel occupier is combined with studied contempt of Afghans of all political hues for the rhetoric of “partnership,” with which the American political and military establishment remains infatuated. No partnership is possible. History tells us that Muslim soldiers can respect and obey non-Muslim masters, but not in this case. They will do so only when the “infidel” officer commands Muslims from a clear-cut position of indisputable authority.
During World War II, close to 400,000 Punjabi Muslims volunteered for the British Indian Army. From 1936 until the partition in 1947, Muslims from different parts of the Subcontinent accounted for about a third of the Indian Army personnel. Coming mainly from the traditionally martial communities in today’s Pakistan, they were hugely over-represented in the all-volunteer force. They were commanded mostly by British officers, invariably so above the rank of major. Before 1939, they were on station duty in Egypt, Palestine, Iraq, Aden, the Gulf, Burma, Malaya and Hong Kong—some of the hottest places on Earth. During the war they fought mostly in East Africa, North Africa, Syria, Tunisia, Malaya, Burma, and Italy—except for the last, lands and regions no less hot and often even less hospitable than Afghanistan itself. There is no record, however, of “insider attacks” presenting a problem—Ramadan or no Ramadan.
In the Russian Empire, following the conquest of the Caucasus and Central Asia, Muslim territorial regiments—commanded by Russian officers—were established in those territories that were granted autonomous status, such as the Emirate of Bukhara or the Khanate of Khiva. Elsewhere, regiments of Muslims were incorporated into the regular army—e.g. the Muslim cavalry of Dagestan, the Crimean Tatar squadron—but they were also officered by Russians. They were reliable, loyal, fought well, and endured the Ramadan, it seems, with no great stress—or at least we have no such record.
In our own time, Muslims are significantly over-represented in the French Army—accounting for a fifth of the rank-and-file—but most of their officers are French. While the loyalty of these soldiers is considered uncertain if they were asked to restore law and order in the restive Muslim banlieus, insider attacks are not a problem and an assiduous Internet search has failed to find any link between their disciplinary or behavioral problems and Ramadan fasting.
Last but not least, their German officers were full of praise for some hundreds of thousands of Muslims who served as volunteers, mostly in the Waffen SS, between 1941 and 1945. They came from the Crimea, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Chechnya, Dagestan, Kosovo, Central Asia—an ethnically and racially diverse group—and yet there is no record of insider killings or the Ramadan Syndrome.
Poor General Allen. He is facing a new, altogether unprecedented phenomenon. And poor Afghan soldiers. They are under such strain…
A fascinating shift has happened in the U.S. mainstream media: After a year of anti-Syria war propaganda and lies, glimmers of truth are making their way into the public’s view. This may be too little too late: the country is being torn at the seams into the nightmare of ethnic-religious cleansing and massacres.
After non-stop war mongering, The New York Times took a second to wipe the blood off its hands to report the true state of things in Syria. Apparently, the previous, ongoing reports about the Syrian army indiscriminately massacring citizens in the city of Homs was simply a lie, repeated over and over.
It now turns out that the exact opposite was true.
In actuality, many of the refugees fleeing Homs were persecuted Christians, attacked by members of the Free Syrian Army, who have been killing religious minorities in an attempt to recruit hard-line Sunnis in Syria as they wage a religious war against the Syrian secular state.
Because the Free Syrian Army did not emerge from a popular revolution — but instead the pocketbooks and arsenal of Saudi Arabia — the war to destroy the Syrian government had to be waged as an ethnic-religious war. Saudi Arabia has a long history of exporting its rare extremist form of Sunni Islam, Wahhabism, as a political tool to help overthrow unfriendly governments.
The U.S. has a long-standing alliance with Saudi Arabia in this effort, a dynamic that, over the years, has given birth to both the Taliban and Al Qaeda. The U.S. refuses to stop using this strategy because it’s incredibly effective at overthrowing “unfriendly” governments, while keeping large sections of the Middle East stalled in the formative years of Islam, which keeps a good check on any political activity from working people, since in Saudi Arabia protests, labor unions, and civil rights are illegal.
The persecuted religious minorities in Homs view the Syrian government as their ally against the U.S. media-darling “liberators” of the Free Syrian Army, puppets of Saudi Arabia’s foreign policy.
The opinion pages of The New York Times laid out the facts better than any previous reporting:
“As Saudi Arabian arms and money bolster the [Free Syria Army] opposition, the 80,000 Christians who’ve been ‘cleansed’ from their homes… in Homs Province in March by the Free Syrian Army have gradually given up the prospect of ever returning home.”
“The [Free Syria Army] rebels’ conduct [ethnic cleansing] has prompted at least some Sunnis who had supported the rebels and once-wavering Syrians to pledge renewed loyalty to Assad. Many who once regarded the regime as a kleptocracy now view it as the best guarantor of Syria’s endangered [ethnic-religious] pluralism.”
This sudden somersault of facts has been long known to both the U.S. government and the media. The New York Times continues:
“Washington is aware of the scale of the problem [religious fanaticism and minority persecution]. As early as June 2011, Robert Stepen Ford, the U.S. ambassador to Syria, briefed his counterparts in Damascus about Al Qaeda’s penetration of the opposition forces. By still ploughing ahead with its support for Saudi Arabia’s effort to destabilize Syria, Washington, far from assisting Israel or weakening Iran, is helping to fuel a humanitarian crisis that will come back to haunt the United States.”
To summarize: U.S. politicians from both parties have lied to the public about the true nature of the conflict in Syria, because it benefited them politically to see a non-U.S. ally destroyed by ethnic-religious barbarism.
Finally from The New York Times:
“The seeming indifference of the international community to the worsening condition of Syria’s religious minorities — and the near total absence of censure of the opposition forces by the Western governments arrayed against Assad — is breeding a bitter anti-Americanism among many secular Syrians who see the United States aligning itself with Saudi Arabia, the fount of Wahhabism [extremist Sunnis], against the Arab world’s most resolutely secular state.”
There you have it. It took over a year but suddenly the Syrian war isn’t so black and white, good guys versus bad guy. The Syrian government is by no means to be glorified, but the utter devastation that is being brought to the country was done so on a false premise, by foreign backers — Saudi Arabia and the U.S. — who wanted nothing except to see the country annihilated so that Iran would be isolated and easier to topple. To sell this bloodbath as an advance of democracy — as U.S. politicians and media have done — is beyond hypocritical; it falls under the category reserved for those who are labeled war criminals.
The Syrian scenario, as concocted in Washington with some help from London and Paris, is proceeding with almost comical predictability. Amnesty International has just issued a report accusing government forces of “crimes against humanity” and calling on the UN Security Council to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court. The report, “All-Out Repression: Purging Dissent in Aleppo, Syria,” is a textbook example of Western quasi-NGOs engaging in intervention advocacy. By accusing the “international community” of failing to act – in Bosnia in 1995, in Kosovo in 1999, or in Libya last year – they feign indignation, but in reality perform on their funders’ cue by reinforcing the political and media elite consensus that decisive and robust action is necessary and justified.
Based entirely on unsubstantiated claims by anti-government activists, devoid of any political or military context, and compiled by unnamed Amnesty “delegates” and “field researchers,” the latest report could have been written at the Department of State. It accuses security forces and pro-government militiamen, known as shabiha, of the entire gamut of crimes, from firing on peaceful protesters and bystanders, including children, to targeting medical teams and torturing their members. Members of the Syrian army and security forces are presented as brutal, mindless demons who cherish inflicting death and pain per se, regardless of political and military consequences. Their alleged victims are presented as peaceful, moderate, and innocent. The moralizing tone is well familiar by now:
The international community has before it ample, credible documentation of the scale and gravity of violations committed, but it has so far failed to put any meaningful pressure on the Syrian authorities to halt their onslaught against civilians suspected of protesting or supporting the opposition. The UN Security Council squandered over a year in political wrangling, while the Syrian government responded to mass protests that were largely peaceful with unlawful killings, torture, enforced disappearance and arbitrary detention.
Amnesty’s demand for the involvement of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is particularly indicative of the likely course of events in the weeks to come. As confirmed by Qaddafy’s indictment in May 2011, a key purpose of the ICC is to provide retroactive justification for an illegal and unprovoked act of military aggression. If and when an ICC “warrant” for Bashar al-Assad’s arrest is issued, it can be used by the Obama Administration as a substitute – however legally dubious – for the UN Security Council resolution authorizing intervention, which Russia and China will not accept. As I commented a day after Qaddafy’s “arrest warrant” was issued, the power of the ICC prosecutor to act without third-party restraint and to claim universal jurisdiction offers the scope for considerable pseudo-legal creativity, depending on the will of the prosecutor’s political masters. The transparent predictability of the process is comical in a dark way, but derisive laughter is out of place because its outcome may be yet another war.
The Manichean caricature of the Syrian conflict provided by the Western NGOs would be unworthy of comment were it not for the fact that Amnesty and its ilk (Human Rights Watch, Transparency International) are fully paid-for subsidiaries of the U.S. Government, its European satellites and quasi-independent fellow-travelers, such as George Soros and his Open Society Institute. Amnesty & Co. were not nearly as vocal when, less than a decade ago, the CIA delivered suspected terrorists to Syrian police specialists, detained at U.S. government’s request, and subjected to certain interrogation practices that make Guantanamo look like a summer camp.
The Amnesty report is an example of our tax dollars at work in pursuit of the warmongers’ interests. At a technical level, their modus operandi was revealed on July 12, when yet another “massacre of civilians” – supposedly committed by the forces loyal to Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian village of Tremseh (Traymseh) – briefly dominated the mainstream Western media. The New York Times claimed the killings in Tremseh were “unlike any massacre that has previously occurred in Syria.” All of the leading MSM organs joined the fray, relying on anonymous “opposition activists” and rebel sources for the claims. “People had their throats slit,” an alleged witness told Agence France Presse, which also reported the presence of pro-Bashar graffiti on the blood-stained walls. London’s Guardian quoted an opposition activist who claimed that “Alawite militiamen from surrounding villages descended on Tremseh after its rebel defenders pulled out and started killing the people… Every family in the town seems to have members killed.” The Daily Telegraph claimed – incorrectly – that most recent massacres have involved Sunni villages dominated by the Alawite minority.
Within hours the politicians used media reports to demand action against Damascus. British Foreign Secretary William Hague called the killing of “more that 200 people” a “shocking and appalling atrocity.” He insisted the incident should increase the pressure for a united response from the international community, including Russia and China, which have resisted UN Security Council resolutions authorizing intervention. Only hours later Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a statement of her own, saying she was “deeply saddened and outraged to learn of reports of yet another massacre committed by the Syrian regime that has claimed the lives of over 200 men, women, and children.” According to Clinton, “Credible reports indicate that this unconscionable act was carried out by artillery, tanks, and helicopters—indisputable evidence that the regime deliberately murdered innocent civilians.”
Mrs. Clinton’s “credible reports” thus rapidly turned into “indisputable evidence,” and duly produced new threats of punishment and more nonnegotiable demands. By now, however, it has become obvious that there is less than meets the eye. The “massacre” in Tremseh appears to have been a replay of nearby Houla six weeks earlier, in other words a Račak-like stage-managed deception where dead rebel combatants were presented as civilian victims. More recent reports, even those based on anonymous “opposition activists,” suggest that fewer than 100 people had died, and that almost all of the dead were military-aged men, rather than “women and children.” A subsequent AFP report revealed that in the final count “the number of civilians killed by shelling is not more than seven,” while the rest were members of the “Free Syrian Army.” The BBC and other MSM outlets subsequently reduced the estimates of the dead and the qualification of the event itself, but in the meantime Mrs. Clinton has moved on, to Aleppo and the alleged brutality of government forces in Syria’s most populous city.
The atrocities are committed by both sides. Those committed by the Syrian rebels are well documented and widely available. When pressed to explain the curious fact that most alleged government crimes occur just ahead of major UN Security Council meetings, a spokesman for the “Syrian National Council” blithely claimed that “Assad doesn’t really care about the international community.” This statement is untrue: Assad is no fool, and his government has repeatedly warned that the rebels were preparing stage-managed massacres some days in advance of their taking place.
In the meantime, as Robert Fisk points out, while Qatar and Saudi Arabia arm and fund the rebels, Washington mutters not a word of criticism against them: “President Barack Obama and his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, say they want a democracy in Syria. But Qatar is an autocracy and Saudi Arabia is among the most pernicious of caliphate-kingly-dictatorships in the Arab world. Rulers of both states inherit power from their families – just as Bashar has done – and Saudi Arabia is an ally of the Salafist-Wahabi rebels in Syria, just as it was the most fervent supporter of the medieval Taliban during Afghanistan’s dark ages.” The Saudis are repressing their own Shia minority just as they now wish to destroy the Alawite-Shia minority of Syria, Fisk concludes. And we should believe that Saudi Arabia wants to set up a democracy in Syria?
Right now nobody wants democracy in Syria, least of all Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. A democratic Syria would need to develop a system of checks and balances guaranteeing equal rights for its Kurds and Arabs, for the majority Sunnis and minority Alawites and Christians. The only party historically able and willing to guarantee such rights has been the Baath Party. If Assad falls – which is the firm objective of the Obama Administration – Washington’s latest protégés, the Sunni fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, will win. Everyone else will be killed or exiled. The result will be a mono-ethnic, mono-confessional theocracy, part-Gaza and part-Saudi Arabia. A grim prospect, indeed, for the American interest and for American ideals.