Aletho News


On James Petras’ Twelve Reasons to Reject Obama

By James Petras | Axis of Logic | October 29, 2008

The presidential elections in the US, once again, provide an acid test of the integrity and consequential conduct of US intellectuals. If it is the duty and responsibility of the public intellectual to speak truth to power, the recent statements of most of our well-known and prestigious public pundits have failed miserably.  Instead of highlighting, exposing and denouncing the reactionary foreign and domestic policies of Democratic Party candidate Senator Barack Obama, they have chosen to support him, ‘critically, offering as excuses that even ‘limited differences’ can result in positive outcomes,and that ‘Obama is the lesser evil’ and ‘creates an opportunity for a possibility of change.’

What makes these arguments untenable is the fact that Obama’s public pronouncements, his top policy advisers, and the likely policymakers in his government have openly defined a most bellicose foreign policy and a profoundly reactionary domestic economic policy totally in line with Paulson-Bush-Wall Street. On the major issues of war, peace, the economic crisis and the savaging of the US wage and salaried class, Obama promises to extend and deepen the policies which the majority of Americans reject and repudiate.

Twelve Reasons to Reject Obama

1. Obama publicly and repeatedly promises to escalate the US military intervention in Afghanistan, increasing the number of US troops, expanding their operations and engaging in systematic cross-border attacks. In other words, Obama is a greater warmonger than Bush.

2. Obama publicly has declared that his regime will extend the ‘war against terrorism’ by systematic, large-scale ground and air attacks on Pakistan, thus escalating the war to include villages, towns and cities deemed sympathetic to the Afghan resistance.

3. Obama opposes the withdrawal of US troops in Iraq in favor of redeployment; the relocation of US troops from combat zones to training and logistical positions, contingent on the military capability of the Iraqi Army to defeat the resistance. Obama opposes a clearly defined deadline to withdraw US forces from Iraq because US troops in Iraq are essential to pursuing his overall policies in the Middle East, which include military confrontations with Iran, Syria and Southern Lebanon.

4. Obama has declared his unconditional support for the position of the pro-Israel Lobby and the colonial expansionist and bellicose policies of the Jewish state. He has promised to back Israeli military attacks whatever the cost to the US. His abject servility to Israel was evident in his speech at the annual AIPAC conference in Washington 2008. Top advisers who have long and notorious links to the top echelons of the principle Zionist propaganda mills and the Presidents of the Leading Jewish American Organizations wrote the speech and formulate his Middle East policy.

5. Obama has promised to attack Iran if it continues to process uranium for its nuclear programs. Twice, just weeks before the elections, Obama’s running mate Joseph Biden spelled out a series of ‘points of conflict’ (including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Russia and North Korea) emphasizing that Obama ‘would respond forcefully’. Obama’s senior Middle East advisers include leading Zionists like Dennis Ross, closely linked to the ‘Bipartisan Policy Center’, which published a report serving as a blueprint for war with Iran. Obama’s proposed offer to negotiate with Iran is little more than a pretext for issuing an ultimatum to Iran to surrender its sovereignty or face massive military assault.

6. Obama unconditionally supports Israel’s expulsion of Palestinians and the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, the leading cause of Middle East hostility, warfare and the discredit of US policy in the region. With three dozen Israel-Firsters among his leading campaign organizers, top policy advisers, speech writers and among the likely candidates for cabinet positions, there is virtually no hope of ‘influencing from within’ or ‘applying popular pressure’ to change Obama’s slavish submission to the Zionist Power Configuration. By supporting Obama, the “progressive intellectuals” are, in effect, allies of his Zionist mentors.

7. On the domestic front, Obama’s key economic advisers have impeccable Wall Street credentials. He gave unquestioning and immediate endorsement to Treasury Secretary Paulson’s $700 billion dollar taxpayer bailout of the richest investment banks in the US. Obama has failed to challenge Paulson or the banks over the use of Federal funds for buyouts and acquisitions instead of loans and credit to producers and homeowners. Obama’s backing of Paulson and the Wall Street bailout is matched by his meager proposals to suspend mortgage foreclosures for a three-month period, pending re-negotiations of interest payments. Obama proposes to escalate transfers of government funds to mismanaged financial institutions and bankrupt capitalist corporations, in efforts to save failed capitalism rather than pursue any new large-scale, long-term public investment programs which will generate well-paid employment for workers.

1. Obama’s economic team has openly declared their embrace and practice of ‘free market’ ideology and opposition to any effort to engage in large-scale injections of government funds in publicly-owned productive activity and social services in the face of wide-spread private sector failure, corruption and collapse.

2. Obama embraces failed private sector health plans, run and controlled by corporate insurance companies, conservative medical and hospital associations and Big Pharma. He publicly rejects a universal national health program modeled after the successful Federal Medicare program in favor of inefficient, state-subsidized private for profit plans that are costly and beyond the means of over one third of US families.

3. Obama is and continues to be an advocate for Big Agro and its highly subsidized and profitable ethanol program, which has increased food prices for millions in the US and for hundreds of millions in the world.

4. Obama advocates continuing the criminal embargo on Cuba, hostile confrontation with Venezuela’s populist President Chavez and other Latin American reformers and the duplicitous policy of promoting protectionism at home and free market access to Latin America. His key policy advisers on Latin America propose cosmetic changes in style and diplomacy but unrelenting support for re-asserting US hegemony.

5. Obama has not proposed, nor do his free market advisers and billionaire financial backers envision, any comprehensive plan or strategy to get us out of the deepening recession. On the contrary, the course of piecemeal measures presented by Obama are internally inconsistent: Fiscal austerity is incompatible with job creation; bailing out Wall Street drains funds from productive investment; and pursuing new wars undermine domestic recovery.


The intellectuals who, in the name of ‘realism’, support a politician who publicly and openly embraces new wars, billionaire bailouts and for profit, private sector-run health programs are repudiating their own claims as ‘responsible critics’. They are what C. Wright Mills called ‘crackpot realists’, abdicating their responsibility as critical intellectuals. In purporting to support the ‘lesser evil’ they are promoting the ‘greater evil’: The continuation of four more years of deepening recession, colonial wars and popular alienation. Moreover, they are allies of the mass media, major parties and the legal system which has marginalized or outright excluded the alternative candidates, Ralph Nader and Cynthia McKinney, who do speak out and oppose the war, the pro-Wall Street bailouts and propose genuine large-scale public investment in the domestic economy, a universal single payer health program, sustainable and pro-environment economic policies and large-scale, long-term income redistributive policies.

What is crass and unacceptable is the argument of these intellectuals, (an insignificant pimple on the Democratic donkey’s rear-end) that for a single moment believe that their ‘critical support’ of the Obama political machine will open space for radical ideas. The Zionists and civilian militarists totally control Obama’s war policy in the Middle East: There will be no space for peace with Iran, Palestine, Pakistan, Afghanistan or Iraq. Wall Street controls the Obama’s financial policy: There will be no space for some Cambridge progressive to sneak in a handout for families losing their homes.

If the trade unions that have spent a hundred million dollars on each presidential campaign have failed to secure a single piece of progressive legislation in over 50 years, isn’t it delusional for our progressive ‘public intellectuals’ to imagine that they, in their splendid organizational isolation, can ‘pressure’ President Obama to renounce his advisers, backers and public defense of military escalation, to see his way to peace with Iran and to promote social justice for our workers and unemployed?

August 14, 2010 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 2 Comments

Colombia FM: Verification of FARC presence in Venezuela dropped

Patrick J. O’Donoghue | VHeadline | August 12, 2010

Colombian Foreign Minister, Maria Angela Holguin has highlighted the role of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) in helping to re-open political and trade relations between Colombia and Venezuela.

As regards the role of the Organization of American States (OAS), Holguin said a statement from OAS general secretary, Jose Miguel Insulza indicated that the organization was awaiting a petition of mediation from the two countries … “and as is known, it (the OAS) did not generate confidence on the part of Venezuela.”

In an interview with Bogota broadsheet, El Tiempo, the Colombian Foreign Minister ratified that no countries or international organizations are or will be undertaking verification of alleged presence of Colombian guerrillas in Venezuela (lodged by the outgoing administration).

“We are now looking forward … let us see what mechanisms of security we can implement … the idea is for the security commission to draw up the best methods.”

The security commission is one of the results of negotiations between new Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and President Hugo Chavez last Tuesday.

Holguin announced that she will be meeting Venezuelan Foreign Minister, Nicolas Maduro in Caracas on August 22 to get border security mechanisms up and running and to review the work of the other three commissions.

August 14, 2010 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | Comments Off on Colombia FM: Verification of FARC presence in Venezuela dropped

How a War with Iran Would Diminish American Power

By Greg Scoblete | The Compass | August 13, 2010

Jennifer Rubin wants a war with Iran:

But the emphasis on the existential threat to Israel ignores a more basic issue for Americans to ponder: a nuclear-armed Iran represents a dagger at the heart of America and an existential threat to our status as a superpower and guarantor of the West’s security. As to the former, Iran is pressing ahead with its long-range ballistic missile program. First the Middle East and Eastern Europe, then all of Europe and, within a matter of years, the U.S. will be within range of Iranian missiles. If those are nuclear and not conventional, what then? We’re not talking about whether Iran is going to be “merely” a destabilizing factor in the Middle East or whether it will set off an arms race with its neighbors or imperil Israel’s existence. We’re talking about whether America will then be at risk (and lacking sufficient missile-defense capabilities if we continue to hack away at our defense budget). The argument about whether mutual assured destruction can really work against Islamic fundamentalists who have an apocalyptic vision becomes not about Israel’s ability to deter an attack but about ours. Those who oppose American military action have an obligation to explain why America should place itself in that predicament.

I would argue that any obligation to present an explanation lies with those whose disastrous policy prescriptions with respect to Iraq lead America into the worst strategic blunder in the country’s recent history. That aside, note the blind faith in the power of the military to actually achieve its ends. The recent history in Lebanon is instructive on this point: Israel attacked Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006 with an eye toward seriously degrading the group’s ability to endanger Israel. And it worked – for a bit. Now, in 2010, Hezbollah is reportedly even better armed than before the war began. And this is a group that relies on outside aid crossing international borders to resupply itself. It can’t call on vast oil reserves or the full resources that a state can muster.

Now imagine bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities. At best, as with Hezbollah in Lebanon, a wide-ranging attack on Iran would delay its acquisition of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. But it would surely impress upon Iran the need to redouble its efforts to seek those weapons. When those are rebuilt – as they would be – there would be almost no question that Iran would seek to actually “weaponize” its nuclear program and not merely have the ability to do so when it wants. What’s more, any hope that Iran’s citizens would look approvingly at the West when they eventually slough off the clerical regime would presumably take a severe hit. We would deal America’s long-term prospects with Iran and the Iranian people a damaging blow and still have failed to achieve the ends we desired.

But Rubin makes a more sweeping point, that the U.S. must fight a war to maintain its imperial vanity:

And then there is the broader issue of America’s standing as the sole superpower and the defender of the Free World. Should the “unacceptable” become reality, the notion that America stands between free peoples and despots and provides an umbrella of security for itself and its allies will vanish, just as surely as will the Zionist ideal.

I can’t speak for the Zionist ideal, but the concern about America’s standing as a sole superpower strikes me as a terrible casus belli. First, it’s simply wrong. China, India and Pakistan went nuclear, and America didn’t tumble from its superpower perch. Whether or not Iran has one or two crude nuclear bombs has next to no bearing on America’s superpower status relative to questions about the health of the American economy.

The second, more fundamental, problem with Rubin’s analysis is that a war with Iran would actually accelerate America’s fall from super power status. The war with Iraq dealt American power and strategic position a huge blow, with costs that vastly outstripped the gains, but a war with Iran could potentially deal an even greater jolt.

The major failure of the war against Iraq was the inability to articulate – let alone achieve – specific political goals for the post-war environment. We knew we wanted Saddam gone but we didn’t know what would take his place or how we’d get from point A to B in post war Iraq. So it is with Iran. Commentary has devoted a lot of time to explaining why we should bomb Iran but has devoted almost no attention to the question what we do after we’ve attacked them. As with Iraq, concern for any post-war phase in Iran is simply glossed over, if it’s dealt with at all. In theory, one should be expected to learn from their mistakes, not ignore them.

The U.S. military may know how to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities, but it has demonstrated in two successive military conflicts that it cannot manage the post-war aftermath, let alone put in place political institutions that will serve America’s needs (this is no knock on the military, this stuff is almost impossible to do). Neither can Washington’s civilian bureaucracy, which can barely staff itself in Iraq. It beggars belief that Washington could cope with the aftermath of a war against Iran.

To insist that this is not relative to any conflict with Iran because we’d simply bomb them from afar implies that the aftermath of such a conflict is knowable or that the threat from Iran is so urgent and so imminent that it overwhelms our capacity for reasonable planning.

Neither of those positions strike me as true.

August 14, 2010 Posted by | Wars for Israel | 3 Comments

Explaining Murder: Israeli Hasbara in Full Swing

President Obama of course is in on the scam too
By Richard Lightbown | Palestine Chronicle | August 13,2010

The hasbara industry is in full swing at the moment as Benjamin Netanyahu’s government pulls out all the stops to create a smokescreen to cover its crimes.  Leading from the front Mr Netanyahu sat in front of the Turkel Commission for four hours on Monday, although anyone hoping to hear anything of interest would have been disappointed. Mr Netanyahu only spoke in front of the public for ninety minutes of that time during which he regaled the committee with complaints about Hamas, Sderot and Gilad Shalit. He told the committee that Israel had a right to search for weapons on board the flotilla. (Israel has since announced that it found no weapons for Hamas. Did nine people really have to die so that Israel could confirm the certification the flotilla already had?) He further told them that there was no humanitarian crisis in Gaza as a result of the blockade it was just a ‘bogus rationale […] to break the blockade’. So there we are. The International Committee of the Red Cross was lying on 14 June when it said:

“The closure therefore constitutes a collective punishment imposed in clear violation of Israel’s obligation under international humanitarian law.”

Or when in 2008 the same august institution said 70% of the Gazan population suffers from food insecurity.

That Judge Turkel allowed him to drone on in this way bodes ill for the end result. As though nine dead (and it could yet turn to eleven), fifty-five injured and the rest of the 700 people abducted, abused, humiliated and subjected to cruel and sadistic behaviour was not important enough for the committee to concentrate on.

But that, as always, is the name of the game. Only Israeli victim hood is of any consequence. Nine Israeli hoods got a legal beating. That’s important. Nothing else matters. So we’ve had Prof Ruth Lapidoth prostituting herself on 12 July by cherry picking the San Remo Manual to make it all seem right. She told us Gaza is a state because the Israel Supreme Court said so. Does she recognize no higher authority on international law? There was no mention of course that San Remo takes six articles to explain that any maritime attack should be solely against military targets for the purpose of gaining a military advantage. That precautions must be taken to ensure that civilians are not harmed. That merchant vessels are civilian objects. That vessels engaged in humanitarian missions are exempt from attack. Article 102 states absolutely, that a blockade is prohibited if the damage to the civilian population is excessive in relation to the military advantage of the blockade. Article 103 allows the right of passage, subject to search (but not murder) if the civilian population is inadequately provided with food and other objects essential for its survival. Article 119 declares that a neutral merchant vessel may be diverted ‘with its consent’. Article 124 encourages certification (exactly as the flotilla had done) to avoid the necessity for visit and search. None of this gets a mention in the professor’s assessment. Mr Netanyahu behaves as though it does not exist.

President Obama of course is in on the scam too. Refusing to condemn Israel on 31 May until he knew the facts, he is now doing his best to see that they are not revealed. Thus the UN Human Rights Commission’s Fact Finding Mission is now deemed surplus to requirements. Never mind that it is chaired by a judge who served on the International Criminal Court, or that it includes the former Chief Prosecutor of the UN backed Special Court for Sierra Leone, who has extensive experience on human rights, war crimes and terrorism. This is a committee eminently qualified to investigate the facts so it is being sidelined and told it is irrelevant by Susan Rice, who was speaking as though she owned the United Nations. Just for the record China and Russia voted for this commission, France and Britain abstained, and the other permanent member of the Security Council, without a veto at the UNHRC, could only vote against. The late Charles Wheeler, a redoubtable BBC journalist, once observed that American presidents get worse and worse. Sadly we don’t seem to have reached the nadir yet.

So what is the invertebrate in the White House trying to palm us off with instead? A committee chaired by a law professor who was prime minister of New Zealand for thirteen months, and representative to the International Whaling Commission. Alongside him will be a man whose period of rule in Columbia was strongly criticised for its abuses of human rights, democracy and the rule of law; and whose main arms supplier was the state of Israel. This Panel will receive reports from Israel and Turkey. But it will not be able to subpoena witnesses (and Mr Netanyahu has made it clear that it will not be able to subpoena anyone from the IDF). Neither will it venture out of New York (to go to Iskenderun for example to look over the three Turkish ships that have been released).

So we must hope that Sir Geoffrey Palmer is his own man, and that he is a man of courage and imagination. We must hope that he is a man able to appreciate that it was not self defence to shoot Cevdet Kiliclar through the forehead from a helicopter before a single Israeli had even started to descend from a helicopter or disembark from a zodiac. (Mr Kiliclar was taking a photograph at the time of his assassination.) Let us hope that Sir Geoffrey will ask for proof of the Israeli allegation that their commandos were shot at, and that he will wonder why the infra red footage from the helicopters have not picked up the flashes from the passenger’s guns. Come to that, why have we seen so little of the enormous amount of footage that Israel stole from press and passengers on the flotilla?

But even the Israeli film footage provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs can be quite revealing. Take a look at the arms cache that Israel made such a fuss about. I have counted the following:

• about 16 kitchen knives,
• three pocket knives,
• fifteen pickaxe handles,
• about twenty lengths of metal bar,
• two ring spanners,
• one pipe wrench,
• four small hammers,
• two sledge hammers,
• four fire axes,
• one paint roller handle,
• ten disc-cutter discs,
• two round files in handles,
• a short length of cord and
• two kaffiyehs.

(There was no blood on any of these ‘weapons’.) This is hardly the equipment prepared by a well-organized terrorist cell that had readied itself to face one of the elite units in the Israel Defence Forces.

Also take a close look at the Israeli infrared film taken from the sea towards the Mavi Marmara.  The film unfortunately starts after Mr Kiliclar has been shot dead and other passengers have also been injured and maybe killed. Look close and you can see the pistols being thrown over the side after the commandos are disarmed. Look closely too at the last frame of the infrared footage. There at the side of the ship is a commando with a pistol raised ready to fire. Mostly likely this is a Glock pistol with a magazine holding 17 rounds which can be fired as fast as the trigger can be pulled. Now do you understand why the film stops there? The next sequence shows a small bottle of mace-like self-defence spray, and then a small folding saw with a single 5cm long blade. Yet look behind this primitive weaponry and there inside the door to the bridge lounges a commando with what looks like a submachine gun.

The Israeli military said it would do whatever was necessary to stop the flotilla. When it got to the Mavi Marmara the commandos first tried to board at the stern from zodiacs. They were unable to do this principally because of the fire hoses trained on them, although there were a lot of things like plates and tomatoes thrown at them too. In fact they never did board the ship from this point until after the bridge had been taken and the ship surrendered. The next move, almost certainly with the full authority of Admiral Marom, was to fire live ammunition onto the upper decks from more than one of the four helicopters, and this was probably sniper fire to begin with. Only then did the commandos start to fast rope onto the deck. But even then the defence did not crumble and the first rope was tied up by the defenders and then abandoned so that the commandos only used one rope and were picked off as they came down. It looks pretty brutal on the film (which is why we are allowed to see it). But if they did not disable those commandos quickly the men on that upper deck were going to get shot, and shortly afterwards this is exactly what happened. However it was a close thing. Perhaps if they had tied up both ropes they may have prevented the landing. And then what: what was Israel’s next line of attack, bearing in mind that they had warships and submarines in the near vicinity? If the boarding had failed would the IDF have sunk the ship? One thing is for sure, that would have took a lot of ingenuity for Mr Netanyahu and Prof Lapidoth to explain. It would have needed a lot of excuses from Mr Obama too.

August 14, 2010 Posted by | Deception | Comments Off on Explaining Murder: Israeli Hasbara in Full Swing

Release of Mossad agent constitutes political collusion

Palestine Information Center – 14/08/2010

BEIRUT — Osama Hamdan, the head of international relations in Hamas, has charged that the release of the Mossad agent Uri Brodsky, a suspect in the assassination of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai, constituted a political cover for the crime.

Hamdan told Al-Jazeera TV network on Friday that the German court’s decision was political par excellence, adding that the German court had thus recorded a precedent of releasing a suspect wanted in an international terror crime and premeditated murder.

He said that releasing Brodsky would allow him to travel to Israel where the issue would be a clear political collusion to cover up for the murder of Mabhouh.

Hamdan affirmed that his movement would not give up the case and would continue to follow it up legally, noting that European human rights groups had expressed readiness to support Hamas and the deceased’s family in this issue.

August 14, 2010 Posted by | War Crimes | Comments Off on Release of Mossad agent constitutes political collusion

Irish artists announce cultural boycott of Israel

Ma’an – 14/08/2010

BETHLEHEM — Over 150 Irish artists, musicians and playwrights announced a cultural boycott of Israel on Thursday until “Israel complies with international law.”

The campaign was launched by the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign and signatory artists saying “we pledge not to avail of any invitation to perform or exhibit in Israel, nor to accept any funding from any institution linked to the government of Israel, until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.”

According to IPSC Cultural Boycott officer Raymond Deane, “These artists are aware of the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s statement in 2005 that ‘We [Israel] see culture as a propaganda tool of the first rank, and…do not differentiate between propaganda and culture.’

“These artists refuse to allow their art to be exploited by an apartheid state that disregards international law and universal principles of human rights, but look forward to the day when normal cultural relations can be re-established with an Israel that fully complies with such laws and principles,” the IPSC website read.

Singer-songwriter Damien Dempsey said that the boycott’s goal is to urge young people in Israel to speak up against the military, while musician Eoin Dillon said the move would succeed like that of South Africa, in which he participated.

August 14, 2010 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | 2 Comments

Polish soldiers blow up Afghan dwelling “for fun”

The News | 13.08.2010

A new video has been released of a group of soldiers from the Polish Army blowing up a dwelling in a deserted area of Afghanistan, a move which goes against the Geneva Convention.

“What a beauty!” comments one of the soldiers when the building is blown to pieces in the 3-minute video (see here), recorded by Polish soldiers from the Army’s 6th rotation during their tour of duty between October 2009 and April 2010.

“It was done for fun,” a non-commissioned officer at the time serving in Afghanistan told the Rzeczpospolita daily, adding that there were more deserted buildings in the area, the remains of a village.

General Janusz Bronowicz, head of the 6th rotation of the Polish Army’s Armoured Units and Mechanised Infantry in Afghanistan was not told about the activity, only acknowledging the blowing up of a cave where explosive materials were found.

“If it’s true, it is criminal and impermissible,” Bronowicz tells the Rzeczpospolita daily, which breaks the story.

The blowing up of civilian buildings is against the Geneva Convention and is “a foundation of international law, regardless of the fact whether the building is worth a million dollars or if it is just a shack,” remarks Dr. Elzbieta Mikos-Skuza, vice-chairwoman of the Polish Red Cross and a humanitarian expert.

“Such objects can only be blown up in special circumstances, in training exercises or with the explicit agreement of local authorities, for example,” says General Waldemar Skrzypczak, former head of the Polish Armed Forces.

The Polish Army is also to investigate the means used to blow up the village huts.

The video shows that the ammunition used was of a large calibre, and fired from a Rosomak armoured transportation vehicle. “Ammunition for the Rosomak is very expensive, I cannot believe that we could have afforded such activity,” Skrzypczak states. Each shell for the Rosomak costs between 600 and 1,400 zloty (150-350 euro).

So far three soldiers have been accused of the activity, including a platoon warrant officer. If found guilty, they may be sentenced up to 8 years in prison. The video is also being used as evidence in the case.

August 14, 2010 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, War Crimes | 1 Comment