Aletho News


AIPAC’s Iran Strategy On Sanctions Mirrors Run-Up To Iraq War Tactics

By Eli Clifton | Think Progress | August 10, 2011

The decision of more than 90 U.S. senators to press President Obama for Iraq-style sanctions on Iran flew in the face of what some observers warned could be the beginning of a stress test of the international support for pressuring Iran and another step closer to a potential war with the Islamic Republic.

But a Tuesday press release [PDF] from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) brings to mind eery parallels between the escalation of sanctions against Iran and the slow lead up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. The press release read:

AIPAC applauds today’s bipartisan letter—signed by 92 U.S. Senators—to the administration urging it to sanction the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), or Bank Markazi. The letter, spearheaded by Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Mark Kirk (R-IL), notes that the CBI lies at the center of Iran’s strategy to circumvent international sanctions against its illicit nuclear program.

Sanctioning Bank Markazi might, as mentioned by the Wall Street Journal’s Jay Solomon, be interpreted as an act of war. But that doesn’t seem to bother AIPAC. Indeed, they’ve been down this sanctions road once before before the invasion of Iraq.

In June, Robert Dreyfuss interviewed former AIPAC senior Iran analyst Keith Weissman who offered details of how AIPAC and its allies in the Bush administration pushed the allegation that Saddam Hussein was in league with al Qaeda. More importantly, Weissman discusses AIPAC’s plans for ultimately bringing regime change in Iran. Dreyfuss writes:

Weissman says that Iran was alarmed at the possibility that the United States might engage in overt and covert efforts to instigate opposition inside Iran. He says that many in AIPAC, especially among its lay leadership and biggest donors, strongly backed regime change in Iran. “That was what Larry [Franklin] and his friends wanted,” he says. “It included lots of different parts, like broadcasts, giving money to groups that would conduct sabotage, it included bringing the Mojahedin[-e Khalgh], bringing them out of Iraq and letting them go back to Iran to carry out missions for the United States. Harold Rhode backed this…. There were all these guys, Michael Ledeen, ‘Next stop Tehran, next stop Damascus.’

Indeed, as shown in the AIPAC press release, Iran is now the target of similar sanctions and bellicose rhetoric similar to those that targeted Iraq in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Sanctioning Iran’s central bank and imposing a de facto oil embargo on Iranian oil exports would appear to be pages torn from the playbook before the invasion of Iraq. … Full article

August 11, 2011 Posted by | Wars for Israel | Comments Off on AIPAC’s Iran Strategy On Sanctions Mirrors Run-Up To Iraq War Tactics

Syria: TIME Magazine’s Desperate Lies

TIME claims to “sneak” into Syria, still bases entire report on “witness” accounts.

Tony Cartalucci | Activist Post | August 11, 2011

Claiming to be written in Hama, Syria, TIME’s latest article “Exclusive: A Visit to Hama, the Rebel Syrian City that Refused to Die” attempts to reestablish the US State Department’s sagging narrative regarding unrest they themselves funded, organized and are now openly promoting, this time, (allegedly) directly on the ground at the epicenter of the unrest. TIME’s report runs immediately into convenient obstacles preventing them from accessing anything remotely resembling evidence and, instead, defers once again to eyewitness accounts by admitted members of the opposition.

TIME first describes two of Hama’s hospitals guarded by the Syrian army which our intrepid reporter is unable to approach. Acknowledging the impossibility of verifying opposition claims, TIME decides to air them anyway stating, “by some accounts, security forces were killing wounded protesters in the hospitals,” echoing the now verified lies used to initiate war with Libya. TIME continues making a mockery out of journalism by citing “residents” who “speak of being unable to reach bodies in the streets, of snipers targeting people in their homes, of house-to-house searches, mass indiscriminate detentions, looting and even rape.” Of course, despite TIME being on the ground in Hama, they are unable to provide a single shred of evidence to confirm any of these claims.

TIME continues with a tale of an anonymous man who brings them a bag of spent anti-aircraft shells which TIME solemnly reminds readers are “not supposed to be used on civilians,” despite providing no proof that they were. TIME describes residents as supposedly not angry with Syrian troops despite just claiming they pillaged and raped their city, but are instead resolved to only bring down Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad.

In fact everything in TIME’s “hard hitting” “on the ground” report is based only on witness accounts; the same dubious unverified reports that preceded the current ongoing NATO war crimes in Libya, and the same unverified reports that have been filtering out of London-based Syrian “human rights groups” for months now. The only “evidence” TIME seems to have provided in their daring “clandestine” reporting is graffiti allegedly left on Hama’s streets which TIME claims is “deeply offensive” to Hama’s “religiously conservative majority.”

The Rest of the Story

What is absent in TIME’s reporting, and what is now beginning to appear even in the corporate media are reports that these “pro-democracy” protesters are in fact armed militants, the resurgence of the Muslim Brotherhood (known to be “religiously conservative”) who in the late 1970s and early 1980s waged armed insurrection against the Syrian government. A recent CBS article, “No revolution in Syria’s 2 biggest cities, yet” notes what genuine geopolitical analysts have been saying for months now, that Damascus and Aleppo are devoid of anti-government “protests” and that the majority of the unrest is split along ethnic, not political lines. […]

TIME Conveniently Omits US Role in Unrest

TIME also conveniently forgot to mention that the ochlocratic armed mobs it was covering in Hama are on record the recipients of millions of dollars from the US State Department to train, organize, and equip them to rise up against the Syrian government. An April 2011 AFP report cited the US State Department who admitted to budgeting 50 million dollars over the course of two years to develop and equip activists with technology to use against their governments. The report also mentioned that over 5,000 activists from around the world, including from Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, and of course Syria were trained by the US State Department to then return home and topple their respective governments.

This State Department statement came after a Washington Post article claimed the US was secretly backing Syrian opposition groups since at least 2005. The State Department would also claim this funding was not meant to foster the US’s long expressed goals of regime change throughout the region, but rather to “build the kind of democratic institutions,” the US is trying to build “in countries around the globe.” The US State Department doesn’t seem fazed at all by the implications of one nation imposing its political order unto another and how it without a doubt constitutes an act of war. And while some might claim the United States’ model of liberal democracy is a superior one that should be imposed upon others, many at Nuremberg made the same tenuous argument in favor of the Third Reich and were hung from the gallows just the same. … Full article

August 11, 2011 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | Comments Off on Syria: TIME Magazine’s Desperate Lies

“The Insurgents Are Losing”

Moon of Alabama | August 11, 2011

Reading through the comments on various news sites not one person seems to believe this Washington Post story:

A group of “less than 10” insurgents, including the fighter who allegedly shot the Chinook helicopter with a rocket-propelled grenade, were tracked down at a compound in eastern Afghanistan early Monday and killed in airstrikes by F-16 fighter planes, according to Marine Gen. John R. Allen, the top commander in Afghanistan, and other military officials.

One wonders why the military felt the need to come out with this obvious fairytale.

It hurts its own credibility with such a story.

The Taliban deny it and claim that the fighters had immediately left Wardak province after trapping the helicopter. That story actually makes a lot of sense.

But there is even more unbelievable U.S. propaganda further down in the Washington Post piece:

“All across Afghanistan, the insurgents are losing. They’re losing territory, they’re losing leadership, they’re losing weapons and supplies, they’re losing public support,” [General Allen] said. “More and more, the insurgents are losing resolve and the will to fight.”

We know that the number of districts with Taliban activity is up, the number of IEDs is at a record high, the number of assassinations by the Taliban is up, the number of U.S. and Afghan security forces’ casualties is the highest ever and the number of civilian casualties is up sharply. But all that does not count. The insurgents are losing – the General says so, so they must be.

But who does he think will actually believe him?

August 11, 2011 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | 4 Comments

Egypt authorities find another case of radiation in Japanese shipment

AlMasry AlYoum – 10/08/2011

Egypt’s General Authority for Export and Import Control recently discovered radioactive cargo in two containers shipped from Japan to Ain Sokhna port, the Red Sea Ports Authority said.

This is the third radioactive shipment Egypt has discovered over the past month.

The radioactive material was found aboard ships carrying electric and mechanical instruments. A letter from Egypt’s atomic energy authorities confirmed the cargo had above-regulation radiation levels.

An official at the seaport said the Ministry of Environment and DP Worlds, which runs the Ain Sokhna port, transferred the ships to a sandy area in order to prevent the radiation from spreading to other shipments and vessels.

The authority said it would review communications between Japan and the companies that imported the shipments. It had said in late July it would immediately withdraw the shipping licenses of any companies responsible for importing radioactive cargo.

In June, three other shipments were detected with radiation above permitted levels.

August 11, 2011 Posted by | Nuclear Power | Comments Off on Egypt authorities find another case of radiation in Japanese shipment

Appeal to the Riverdance company not to tour Israel

Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign | August 10, 2011

On 6th April last, the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign appealed to Riverdance to cancel its tour of Israel scheduled for 1-13 September next.

In response, Riverdance posted the following on its website: “Riverdance supports the policy of the Irish Government and indeed the policy of every other EU state that cultural interaction is preferable to isolation.” Significantly, all feedback comments were disabled for this posting.

This response overlooks the fact that it is precisely the policy of EU states, i.e. their refusal to apply international law, international humanitarian law or indeed EU law (embodied in Article 2, the “human rights clause”, of the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreement) to the state of Israel and their consequent complicity in Israel’s violation of these laws, that has made it necessary for civil society to call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), including a cultural boycott, of the Israeli state. BDS is a non-violent protest strategy responding to the call by Palestinian civil society and cultural organisations for international assistance.

Since last April, when the IPSC called on Riverdance to cancel its tour, Israeli soldiers have twice raided the Freedom Theatre in Jenin, in the occupied West Bank, thus jeopardising a planned production of Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett. Two board members of the theatre, Adnan Naghnaghiye and Bilal Saadi, and actor Rami Hwayel have been kidnapped by the Israeli military in the past month and remain in detention at the time of writing. “We don’t know why we are being targeted. We’re a cultural organisation fighting for freedom,” said Jacob Gough, the theatre’s acting managing director.

On 29th July Israeli soldiers attacked the Dutch “First Night of Love Brass Band” with tear gas canisters during their performance near Nablus in the West Bank. On that same day Israeli soldiers assaulted and seriously injured the Palestinian photojournalist Moheeb Al-Barghouthi for filming a demonstration near Ramallah.

These are just random and recent examples of the indiscriminate brutality of the Israeli occupation, which does not stop short of targeting cultural and journalistic freedom. This is the basis for the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.

Since Riverdance’s management seems determined to tour Israel, we now call upon the musicians and dancers who make up the Riverdance Company to refuse to participate in this tour, following the example of Riverdance set designer Robert Ballagh and the 208 Irish artists who have pledged to boycott Israel. We call upon them to inform Riverdance’s management that they will not be party to a breach of the boycott call from Palestinian victims of Israel’s crimes. We call upon them, as cultural ambassadors, to refuse to besmirch Ireland’s good name by lending themselves to exploitation by those who would whitewash Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people.

Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC – )

Endorsed by:
Irish Ship to Gaza (ISTG  – – Ireland)
Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA – – Ireland)
Irish Anti-War Movement (IAWM – – Ireland)
Palestinian Campaign for the Cultural and Academic Boycott of Israel (PACBI – – Palestine)
Boycott! Supporting the Palestinian BDS Call from within (Boycott from Within – – Israel)
Alternative Information Centre (AIC – – Israel/Palestine)
Artists Against Apartheid (AAA – – International)

Dublin – Riverdance: Don’t Dance for Apartheid Israel demo
Thursday, 18 August 2011, 18:30 Gaiety Theatre, South King St, off Grafton St, Dublin 2

August 11, 2011 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | 1 Comment

Israel Lobby Dominates Congress, Media Covers it Up

By ALISON WEIR | August 11, 2011

You might think that twenty percent of the American Congress going on all-expense-paid, week-long junkets to a foreign country – paid for by a lobby for that country – would be considered newsworthy. Especially when the top Congressional leaders of both parties are leading the trips.

You would be wrong.

81 Congressional representatives from all over the country, led by Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, are traveling to Israel this month. Most are freshmen Congressmen and include half of all the freshmen Republicans voted into office in 2010.

The week-long trips are being paid for by the American Israel Education Foundation (AIEF), which was created in 1990 as a supporting organization of AIPAC, America’s major pro-Israel lobbying organization, and is located in the same building (AIEF, which is only one of numerous organizations pushing pro-Israel policies, has an annual budget of over $24 million with an even larger endowment.

This is an extraordinary situation. No other lobby on behalf of a foreign country comes anywhere near to controlling such wealth or taking so many of America’s elected representatives on a propaganda trip to their favorite country.

Not all those going on these trips are enthusiastic. The wife of one Congressman who made a similar trip some years ago said that she and her husband had never been exposed to such pressure in all their lives. She said that at one point on their trip, her husband – a normally extremely tough man – was curled up in a fetal position.

A staff member of one representative participating in this month’s junkets said the representative had no choice. If the Congressional rep didn’t go on the trip, the rep would be targeted by AIPAC, large quantities of money, including massive out-of-state money, would be raised for the opponent in the next election, and quite likely the representative would be defeated. The staffer said that the Israel Lobby is far too powerful to ignore and that American voters have no knowledge of what’s going on.

It’s no surprise that voters are unaware that their Congress people are being propagandized and pressured by a foreign lobby. Their news media almost never tell them.

The Associated Press, America’s number one news service, has decided not to report on a lobbying group taking 81 representatives to a foreign country in order to influence their votes.

Even though the trips are being reported by news media in Britain, Iran, India, Israel, Lebanon, and elsewhere, AP has decided to give it a pass. When contacted about this, an AP editor in Washington DC said they knew about the trips and were “looking into it.”

Taking a similar tack, the New York Times, USA Today, Fox News, CNN, ABC, et al, failed to inform Americans about the trips. (The Washington Post, after the story was posted throughout the blogosphere, finally covered it belatedly on page 13. The CBS website had a story on the situation, but CBS news made no mention of the junkets on-air.)

The only AP stories on the subject are scattered local stories about individual Congress people. For example, AP’s Chicago bureau reported that Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. is taking part, without reporting that he was one of 81 representatives accepting these all-expense-paid junkets, and that his trip was being paid for by the pro-Israel lobby.

A few other American media reported the story in interestingly diverse ways:

Washington DC’s Politico covered it twice; the Atlantic’s AtlanticWire posted a story on people who were “kvetching” about the one-sided nature of the junkets, while emphasizing that some of the reps were also going to meet with some Palestinian leaders, but failed to report that this will apparently account for only a few hours out of the 7-day trip. LA’s Jewish Journal was remarkably forthright, reporting that “the congressional reps will be getting the dog and pony show,” and Commentary gloated at the “astonishing” number of representatives going on the trip, noting that “Congress is the backstop that gives Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu the ability to say ‘no’” to the President of the United States.

While Commentary claims that the willingness of Congressional representatives to go on all-expense-paid trips by one of the country’s most powerful lobbies “is a good reflection of American public opinion on the Middle East,” this is actually not accurate.

Surveys find that an extraordinarily strong majority of Americans – typically between two-thirds to three-quarters – do not wish the U.S. to take sides on Israel-Palestine.* Such widespread desire for neutrality is particularly noteworthy given that U.S. news media across the political spectrum are consistently highly Israeli-centric in their reporting.

It is quite likely that such voters would be unhappy to learn that a foreign lobby has such power over their elected representatives, leading them to give the favored nation, one of the smallest and wealthiest countries on the planet, over $8 million per day of American tax money when the U.S. is in the middle of a financial crisis.

Perhaps that’s why AP and others don’t tell them.

* * *

* Two thirds want the United States to “lean toward neither side” – Brookings: “Attitudes Toward the Middle East Peace Process: Surveys of Arab and Jewish Opinion in Israel and Public Opinion in the United States”.

71 percent favor not taking a side – World Public Opinion: “International Poll: Most Publics–including Americans–Oppose Taking Sides in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”.

65 percent favor not taking either side – CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll. May 24-26, 2011. Adults nationwide.

“Although more Americans show sympathy for Israel than for the Palestinians, a strong majority has consistently felt that the US should play an even-handed role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Since December 1998, Gallup and other organizations have asked respondents many times whether the US “should take Israel’s side, take the Palestinians’ side, or not take either side.” Strong majorities have consistently said the US should take neither side. In July 2000, 74% endorsed this position. Shortly after September 11th, 2001, this number dropped to 63% (Israel’s side rising to 27%) then recovered to 70% in early November (Israel’s side 20%). Israel’s military actions of April 2002 had little impact on this majority view. CNN/USA Today/Gallup found 71% in April for the US taking neither side” – World Public Opnion: “Israel and Palestine”.


Alison Weir is president of the Council for the National Interest and executive director of If Americans Knew. She can be reached at


August 11, 2011 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 8 Comments

Lieberman: Israeli Apology for Flotilla Raid Won’t Improve Turkey Ties

Al-Manar – August 11, 2011

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Monday that an Israeli apology to Turkey will not improve the ties between the two countries.

“[Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyep] Erdogan will not make do with just an apology… He also demands lifting the blockade on the Gaza Strip,” Lieberman told Israel Radio, insisting that Israel does not have to apologize for the 2010 Israeli occupation forces raid on a Gaza-bound ship in which nine Turkish activists were martyred.

Lieberman maintained that Israel acted as a moral state and said that even the UN report on the events surrounding the Gaza flotilla ruled that Israel acted according to international law.

Meanwhile, Army Radio reported on Thursday that the U.S. had already managed to secure an Israeli-Turkish reconciliation agreement two weeks ago, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu backed out of the deal at the last minute.

The reconciliation deal was reported to include an Israeli apology for tactical errors done during the Israeli military raid on the Mavi Marmara ship, part of last year’s Gaza flotilla, and agree to transfer of funds to a Turkish foundation for those killed in the raid. In turn, Turkey would commit to refrain from suing Israel or soldiers who took part in the raid.

According to the report, Netanyahu initially explained that Israel cannot apologize since Lieberman will respond by breaking up the coalition. The U.S. then pressured Lieberman to promise he will not do so, and the foreign minister went on to make a public statement that apology or not, he will not dismantle Netanyahu’s coalition.

However at the last moment, Netanyahu explained that due to Israel’s increasing social protests, he cannot allow himself to open another front when his popularity is at a low.

August 11, 2011 Posted by | War Crimes | 1 Comment

Robert Fisk, Amnesty International and ‘progressive’ shrieking sacks of emotion

Liberal imperialism and the refusal to learn

By Maximilian C. Forte | Monthly Review | August 10, 2011

Two of my favorite quotes come into play here, one by the English poet, Alexander Pope, who explained that “some people will never learn anything . . . because they understand everything too soon,” and George Bernard Shaw, much more resigned and ironic in stating that “we learn from experience that men never learn anything from experience.”  From various misguided and superficial “open letters” to “the left” on Libya, to the recent renewal of righteous interventionism with respect to Syria, it seems that the greatest deficit in Western thinking about these unruly and barbarous others is not a deficit in sincerity, as I once mistakenly thought, but a learning deficit.  One detects a strong tendency among liberal imperialists and assorted self-designated “progressives” to think of their actions and thoughts as being above history, as if residing in some altostratus of unimpeachable rectitude.  If they pretend to act and think as if they were gods, it is not an historical accident.  At the end of their day, as believers in Western progress, they remain convinced that they are at the high point of evolutionary teleology.  At the last stage of a dying empire, imperial advocates (not confined to any one ideology) are still gripped by the conviction that theirs is the highest stage of human achievement.  They resent history (inevitable imperial decline) as much as they resent particularity (difference they can never tolerate).  High up in the clouds, perched on the wings of various stealth bombers, they preach the ideology of universal, individual human rights.  Blinded by their own wind, they lose the ability to see that even their own “universal declaration of human rights” contained distinct concerns for social and economic rights — though buried at the end, past the point of the current imperial attention deficit disorder (Arts. 21-27).  If people have the right to eat, but not the right to tweet, then they are judged to be living under tyranny.  This is shallow humanitarianism, callous in its disregard for the materialities that make human life possible, a humanitarianism at the end of empire and as bankrupt as the state powers whose authority the humanitarians invoke.

Here are two recent examples, both involving Syria, but really much more about us than about Syria.  In fact, Syria really does not exist — you could insert the name of any nation-state outside of Greater Europe (Europe and its settler states), or even a fictitious name the way that NATO and the Pentagon do — let’s say Southland.  First, there is Robert Fisk.  Some fancy Fisk to be a radical reporter, a courageous speaker of truth.  He fancies himself as such too, declaring himself “in favour of the suffering.”  I regard him as a little old Englishman, prone to betraying the prejudices of his dominant class.  He finds radical difference rather distasteful, as his comments on Hamas tell us, and wishes everyone could stand in single file behind his preferred world order.  He has now taken to snapping at NATO, not for what it has done and is doing to Libya, but for what it failed to do to Syria.  “The trouble is,” Fisk informs us, “that everyone has been running out of patience with Syria since the spring.”  Everyone.  Patience.  We are uniform, and we have certain demands.  “Had Messrs Cameron, Sarkozy and Obama stopped short after they saved Benghazi” (they saved Benghazi?), Fisk adds, “they may have had the spittle . . . and the munitions to destroy some of Assad’s 8,000 tanks.”  An American militarist might have worded this slightly differently, preserving the same meaning: “they lack the cojones to royally kick some Syrian ass.”  Fisk objects to UK Foreign Secretary William Hague for “waffling on about how little the West can do to stop Assad” — the West, I did not insert that.  “This is rubbish,” Fisk of Arabia adds, before proceeding to give some military advice: “Britain’s RAF bases in Cyprus are infinitely closer to Syria than to Libya.”  He is quite clear that he wants regime change, and for the West to carry out that regime change — though again, and as always, it violates international law (not that it matters, that is the law of the strong against the weak).  Fisk writes, “The Israelis don’t want regime change in Damascus.  Do the Americans?”  But then he ends: “Assad is almost certainly doomed” — well alright then, so do you want/need Western intervention to fulfill your goals, or not?  Perhaps he is uncertain about the certainty, or just not thinking . . . historically.  All regimes are always doomed: not a single Egyptian pharaoh, Inca or Roman emperor is alive to disagree.  The question is when, how soon, and here Fisk would like to see more Western agency in taking over from Syrian protesters, even after they repeatedly proclaimed that it is precisely Western intervention of Fisk’s liking that they do not want.  Come to think of it, theirs are the only voices absent from Fisk’s call to Western arms.

However, even less sensitive than Fisk to the irony of Saudi tyrants calling for human rights to be respected in Syria is Amnesty International.  Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International, in “UN Security Council Must Act to End Repression in Syria” begins, with the very title, by admitting to basic, ahistorical naïveté.  The UN Security Council has never acted to end oppression anywhere, it is a tool of the most oppressive powers on earth, and if they act to end anyone else’s oppression it is only to superimpose their far greater oppression.  Sucking up to imperial powers, as if these were the guarantors of human rights, says a lot about Amnesty’s Eurocentric agenda.  It is an agenda as bankrupt as the powers to which it pleads.  Like Fisk, Shetty (as well as those in Amnesty behind him, I assume) finds that “the UN Security Council’s continuing inability to react adequately to the carnage is deeply frustrating and dispiriting.”  Shetty condemns the UN’s presidential statement: “it falls far short of what is really needed.”  And what really is needed?  Shetty never actually gets to articulating that — “something must be done — and done now” — so he leaves it to be understood by reading between the lines.  Like Fisk he writes: “The Council’s impotence in relation to Syria stands in stark contrast with the quick and decisive action it took in the case of Libya.  But, in fact, it is the aftermath of its resolution on Libya that has paralyzed the Council.”  The “quick and decisive” action against Libya — when he could have said the foolish rush to regime change that has prolonged war and violated the human rights of many more Libyans than were at stake back in February.  At any rate, Libya is now made to stand as the benchmark for good action.  (It’s a wonder that these people do not invoke the good old days of the genocidal “oil for food” program applied by the UN, among its other sanctions, against the people of Iraq.)  Shetty wants Brazil, South Africa, and India to prevail upon the Security Council to get beyond political disagreement and do “something” about Syria.  Having posited military action in Libya as the starting point of discussion, his lament about lack of action on Syria at least implies a desire for military action: then Syria and Libya would be equal in their reception of the generous care and loving attention of NATO.  Shetty, who is from India, and so should know better (if anything, just from reading past and current Amnesty documents on India), hails India as a “vibrant democracy” and as a “free and open democracy” in spite of the continuing reality of a brutal counterinsurgency war, discrimination against tribal peoples, land grabs, and vast inequalities maintained by force.  He says that a “free and open democracy” like Brazil cannot be accused of “neo-colonialist ambitions” — oh no?  Just ask countless Indigenous Amazonians about that, or, if too lazy, at least consult with Survival International.  Would Brazil, India, and South Africa be the ones to carry out actions against the Syrian government — because if not, why bother with all the flattery?  Or is it that they are the best window dressing for NATO warfare?  More than unbelievable is that Shetty invokes the moral authority to speak of Syria’s Arab neighbors: “such key players as the Arab League, the Gulf Cooperation Council and now the Saudi Arabian government have spoken out against the killings there [in Syria].”  Fisk was neither as funny, nor as incompetent.  This is Amnesty International, invoking Saudi opinion on human rights, invoking the voices of Gulf state tyrants, an Arab League of dictators.  “Now is the time. . .” says Shetty, mimicking the sentence construction currently en vogue in Obama’s Washington, “to stand and be counted.”  Stand up, and do what?  Be counted . . . by whom?  “They should not fail the Syria test,” he ends, and not too soon.

In the name of democracy, freedom, human rights, and openness, Amnesty deleted the comment I posted in disagreement with them.  Perhaps they thought being called “shameless and irresponsible” was too much to openly bear, democratically, or the persistent pointing out of the absurd irrationality of Shetty’s argument for “something.”

These are people who would train us not to think, not to learn, but to simply react.  Always Be Reacting.  Like NATO’s propaganda outfit for the war against Libya, operated by the likes of Tim Kilbride of the Rendon Group, the vision of our humanity that liberal imperialists entertain is one which constructs us as shrieking sacks of emotion.  This is the elites’ anthropology, one that views us as bags of nerve and muscle: throbbing with outrage, contracting with every story of “incubator babies” (in Iraq, now Syria), bulging up with animus at the arrest of Gay Girl in Damascus, recoiling at the sound of Viagra-fueled mass rape.  From Twitter, to Avaaz, we turn to NATO.  And this is NATO’s sociology: societies can be remade through a course of high-altitude bombings and drone strikes.  It can be heard in the words of the Manchester police: “We want to make it absolutely clear . . . there has been no spark that has led to this” — we are animate, but headless.  Bags.  Absolutely clear.

In our “social media”-induced state of psychotic frenzy, we scream for action.  Which action?  Whatever, any action, “do something . . . stand up and be counted,” no time to think, just act.  Libya — lather, rinse, repeat — Syria.


Maximilian C. Forte is an associate professor in anthropology at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.  His website is at

August 11, 2011 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | 1 Comment