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Chile: Human Rights Activists Protest New US Base

Weekly News Update on the Americas | May 13, 2012

A US military training center in the port city of Concón, in the central Chilean province of Valparaíso, will be used for exercises “clearly oriented toward the control and repression of the civilian population,” according to an open letter that more than 20 human rights organizations sent Defense Minister Andrés Allamand on May 7. The US government has spent $460,000 constructing the installation, which opened on Apr. 5 at the Chilean military’s Fort Aguayo naval base. UPI Business News writes that the site “is growing into a major destination for regional military trainers and defense industry contractors.”

According to the US Southern Command (USSC), which heads US military operations in Latin America and the Caribbean, the installation will be used for training in Military Operations on Urban Terrain (MOUT) by Latin American soldiers as they prepare for international operations, such as United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions. But the human rights groups wrote in their letter that the Fort Aguayo training ground—a simulation of an urban zone, with eight buildings and sidewalks and roads—suggests plans for military intervention in civilian society. The groups noted that the installation was opened at a time when “broad and massive social demonstrations are developing on the part of the citizenry throughout the country.” [The government of rightwing president Sebastián Piñera has been shaken over the past year by militant protests by students, the indigenous Mapuche, residents of the southern region of Aysén, and other groups; see Updates #1122, 1127].

The human rights organizations said the US lacks “the moral quality to teach ‘peace operations,’” since “it has promoted coups, financed destabilization operations in sister countries, and has promoted war in the world. We don’t forget that in 2009 the Soto Cano base in Honduras, with US military personnel, was used to implement the coup d’état” against former president José Manuel Zelaya Rosales [2006-2009]. The letter also held the US responsible for the brutal 1973 coup in Chile and for training “the worst human rights violators in our country” at the US Army’s School of the Americas. (El Ciudadano (Chile) 5/9/12; Adital (Brazil) 5/10/12; People’s World 4/26/12; UPI Business News 4/30/12)

The Southern Command is also planning to build an installation in Argentina, at the airport in Resistencia, capital of the northeastern province of Chaco. The plan seems to contradict center-left president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner’s policy against allowing foreign military bases, although the province’s governor, Jorge Milton Capitanich, insists that the installation isn’t a “base,” since the US now describes its facilities with terms like “Cooperative Security Location” (CSL) and “Forward Operating Location” (FOL).

The $3 million installation in Chaco will ostensibly be a humanitarian aid center for dealing with natural disasters, but critics suspect the real goal is to monitor the sensitive Triple Frontier region, where the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet, and the Guaraní Aquifer, one of the world’s largest sources of fresh water. The US officer in charge of the project is Col. Edwin Passmore, who was expelled from Venezuela in 2008 on a charge that he had engaged in espionage while serving as US military attaché there. In November 2011 Passmore was involved in an incident in which a US military plane landed in Buenos Aires carrying undeclared electronic monitoring equipment, medications, and intelligence transmission devices.

The US currently has about 800 bases worldwide, with 22 in Latin America, including bases in Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Paraguay and Peru; naval stations in Aruba and Curaçao; and a “CSL” under construction in the Dominican Republic. (People’s World 4/26/12; El Ciudadano 5/5/12)

May 15, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US “not impressed” with India over Iran oil ties

Al Akhbar – May 15, 2012

The United States is not impressed with India’s efforts to cut its oil imports from Iran, a top US diplomat said on Tuesday, despite New Delhi pledging to slash imports by 11 percent.

As a major buyer of Iranian crude, India is crucial to US efforts to squeeze Iran’s economy. The issue has become an irritant in ties between India and the United States.

Carlos Pascual, the US special envoy who has been negotiating with Iranian oil importers to cut their imports, met Indian foreign ministry officials on Tuesday.

“We are not too impressed today,” Pascual said when asked by Reuters how likely India was to get a waiver. Pascual was speaking before meeting the foreign ministry officials.

“We’re really going to talk about the broad developments of global energy. How we work together on these issues. It’s a great relationship,” he said.

The United States in March granted exemptions to Japan and 10 European Union nations. India and China, Iran’s biggest crude importer, remain at risk.

Washington has held up Japan as an example, saying it had cut imports despite having suffered an earthquake and tsunami that crippled its Fukushima nuclear reactor.

Japan cut volumes by almost 80 percent in April compared with the first two months of 2012. The cuts, amounting to 250,000 barrels per day, are the steepest yet by the four Asian nations that buy most of Iran’s 2.2 million bpd of exports.

India’s crude oil imports from Iran declined by about 34 percent in April compared with March, tanker discharge data showed last week.

Washington has not stated specifically what cuts it expects from each country, only that they must be substantial.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leaned on India last week to cut its imports of Iranian oil further, and said Washington may not make a decision on whether to exempt New Delhi from financial sanctions for another two months.

Clinton, who was on a visit to India, said the United States was encouraged by the steps its ally had taken to reduce its reliance on Iranian oil, but that “even more” was needed.

India supposedly responded to US pressure on Tuesday by agreeing to cut its imports from Iran by a further 11 percent.

“To reduce its dependence on any particular region of the world, India has been consciously trying to diversify its sources of crude oil imports to strengthen the country’s energy security,” junior oil minister R.P.N. Singh said.

The size of imports from various sources depends on technical, commercial and other considerations, Singh added.

It was not immediately known whether the move by India would be enough avert US sanctions.

(Reuters, AFP, Al-Akhbar)

May 15, 2012 Posted by | Economics, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Friend or Foe?

By John Andrews | Dissident Voice | May 15th, 2012

The almost unknown subject of False Flag events is  slowly creeping into people’s conscious awareness; and about time too.

The term comes from a tactic that was commonly employed many centuries ago by all the navies of fledgling empires. Although these navies very occasionally engaged in heroic battles with each other in order to protect the citizens of their countries from invading hoards, as our history books suggest, the far more common use of mighty battleships was for theft. Sinking an enemy ship was never the intention of these engagements, and would have been seen as something of a failure. The purpose was to capture the ship, preferably undamaged, and steal anything and everything from the personal possessions of the crew to the very ship itself, which would then be recycled by the victors. After all, what could possibly be the point of sinking an expensive ship, laden to the gunnels with the riches of plundered foreign colonies, when its capture would serve exactly the same political purpose, as well as providing vast wealth?

The Royal Navy, for example, routinely operated a “prize” system right up until quite recent times; and although acts of piracy don’t form quite the same staple diet in the senior service as they used to do, prize legislation remains on British statute books to this day. Right up until the nineteenth century “prize courts” would routinely assess and divvy-up the wealth of ships that had been attacked and seized by the jolly Jack Tars. Some of the plunder was apportioned to the ship’s crew. Of course, it wasn’t an equal distribution of wealth, where the loblolly boy, say, received as much of a cut as the captain; nor was the cut in any way equal to the share gifted to the high and mighty Lords of the Admiralty, who weren’t required to do anything more dangerous for their cut than over-indulge themselves in London society. However, some small portion of the “prize” would find its way to even the lowliest cabin boy – the original “trickle-down” effect perhaps. In short, the routine day-job of the glorious Royal Navy was plunder. In fact, the only way the great sailors of Nelson’s day differed from common pirates was that the piracy of Nelson’s navy was simply deemed to be legal. It’s a similar principle to the one that’s alive and well to this day, and helping to keep investment bankers out of jail.

But even hardened cynics such as myself find it difficult not to admire the considerable skill that was often required for some of the encounters that took place between the mighty warships of Nelson’s day. In the days before modern communications these great behemoths, seventy metres long with a thousand souls on board, could only use the power of the wind to move around, so finding and engaging and defeating an enemy in thousands of square miles of empty ocean was no easy matter, and the seamanship required for these encounters was often truly amazing. Apart from some acts of genuine courage, with perhaps just a hint of insanity, these sailors also relied on a host of devious tricks and raw cunning to capture a “prize”. Apart from plenty of luck, you also needed a good brain to be an effective captain in Nelson’s day; and it’s hardly surprising, given hundreds of years of regular practice in the dark arts of subterfuge and deceit, that the roots of the British intelligence service were established in the Royal Navy.

One of the many tricks used in the days of sail was to make your ship appear friendly to the watchful telescopes of the prospective prize; and the easiest way to do this was to ensure the flags your ship were flying were not those of your own country but were either exactly the same as those of the prize, or the same as those of whichever country was friendly to the prize. This simple ruse would, of course, eventually be discovered as a trick; and, of course, every ship’s crew knew about the trick. However, it would invariably buy some invaluable time, making all the difference between success and failure, enabling the hunter to get close enough to his prey to capture him before the darkness of night might come to the hapless victim’s rescue.

This tactic is still very much alive and well, and survives in modern language usage as the “false flag” attack, to mean an attack by someone who isn’t quite who they seem to be. Variations of it include attacks perpetrated by people pretending to be enemies of the state. These attacks may be carried out by the state’s own armed forces, or by paid mercenaries, or by allies of the state. History is rich with evidence.

Take, for example, the infamous sinking of the Maine. In 1898, when the US was beginning to flex its expansionist muscles abroad, the battleship USS Maine was blown up in Havana harbour. Although there was no evidence to support it, the incident was blamed on Spain, who controlled Cuba at the time; and it had the desired effect of triggering the Spanish American war which eventually led to Spain’s eviction from the island and the installation of a US puppet regime – a model that would be successfully repeated time and again for many decades to come. Fifty-five years later something very similar happened again – this time without going to the extra expense of actually sinking any ships.

On August 4, 1964 the world was informed that another US warship, the USS Maddox, had come under sustained attack by North Vietnam. It was the event which directly led to ten years of total hell for tens of millions of people in South East Asia, and whose effects are still being felt to this day. Fifty years after the false flag event of the Maddox, declassified documents revealed that the US government was fully aware at the time that no such attack had taken place. But by then, of course, the false flag had long served its purpose.

Although the term “false flag” originated from these naval deceptions, false flag incidents have never been solely confined to the high seas. Armies have always used any number of devices to deceive their victims, and anyone who’s ever watched a Hollywood war movie is probably aware of it; for how many of these movies have included a scene where either the good guys or the bad guys dress up in the uniforms of their enemy in order to carry out some raid or another? Is that not a completely routine story-line? Although many of these movies are obviously fictitious, these deceptions, which might also be called “false flag” adventures, are based on normal military tactics which have been used by almost every army, probably since the beginning of civilisation.

However, Hollywood movies seldom reveal the true evil and cynicism of war. Therefore not many of the 99%, who obtain much of their understanding of the world in general and history in particular from the silver screen, know anything at all about the truly dark side of all armies in general, and their leaders in particular. For how many Hollywood movies tell the stories of how armies routinely slaughter defenceless people? Although they will sometimes depict the enemy of the day carrying out these atrocities, they never show the so-called “good guys” doing it – which creates in the mind of the viewer the impression that our armies never behave in such a beastly fashion. But they most certainly do.

Consider the vast number of movies that came out of Hollywood telling how the west was won – how handfuls of brave adventurers defeated marauding hoards of screaming bloodthirsty savages, which was, in fact, a complete inversion of the truth. And how many war movies told the truth about the bombing of Dresden, or of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? These completely needless events took place in the closing days of World War Two, when Germany and Japan were already crushed nations. They were events which deliberately targeted hundreds of thousands of defenceless civilians, and served absolutely no military purpose whatsoever. They were war crimes, already outlawed by the Geneva Convention. Not many Hollywood movies tell us that.

Although these mass slaughters of defenceless civilians are a different aspect of the cynicism of war, and cannot be considered as false flag adventures, it’s important to cite these as evidence of the psychotic ruthlessness of our own trusted leaders and the brainwashed youngsters who are routinely conditioned to obey an order, any order.

It’s important to grasp this principle of war that not even Hollywood can glamorise: that our trusted leaders can and do routinely issue orders to slaughter innocent defenceless civilians, and that brainwashed young people then carry out those orders, and that society is then brainwashed into considering these young people to be heroes. Not even Hollywood can glamorise the deep cynicism of that fact.

My own personal first-hand experience of false flag adventures was obtained in the late seventies, in Rhodesia, where I was batting out my national service as an intelligence officer. Our army had a small unit of people called the Selous Scouts. They were considered the elite of the elite, and were supposedly originally created by a couple of junior officers serving in the Rhodesian SAS who thought the SAS wasn’t quite hard enough. I did some of my training with the Scouts. They were definitely different.

Later on, when I was operational, I was based in a small rural outpost called Rusape. For me it was a very comfortable posting and, I’m very glad to say, I managed to see out my time there without being injured and, I’m even more glad to say, without causing injury to anyone else.

Each morning, after a leisurely breakfast, I would saunter over to the operations room to see what was going on. Like almost every military operations room in the world, one wall of it was given over to a huge map of our area of responsibility. Most of the time it was just a map of rural Rhodesia, with little coloured stickers on it depicting some sort of recent “terrorist” incident – such as a landmine going off, or an attack on some isolated school or clinic. My job would be to go out to investigate these incidents and report on them. Sometimes it was very harrowing, but mostly it was a fairly pleasant way to sit out the war.

But every now and then I would turn up to the ops room in the morning and would be met with the sight of a sizeable chunk of the map covered over in hatched lines. Everyone understood that that area had been “frozen”. This meant that no army personnel or police were to go into that area. The Scouts had moved into it. For a few weeks after that life went on pretty much as normal everywhere else on the patch; but no information at all emerged from the area with the mysterious hatching; and then one morning I’d turn up for work and the hatching would have been removed from the map as mysteriously as it had first appeared.

Within a day or two of that happening the reports would start rolling in from where the Scouts had been, about “terrorist” murders at some isolated village or another, of a “terrorist” rocket attack on a small business centre perhaps, or a “terrorist” landmine blowing up a rural bus. These would all have been carried out by the Scouts, dressed up as “terrorists” and using “terrorist” weaponry.

The purpose of these attacks was a variation of that old favourite: the hard cop/soft cop routine. The Scouts’ role was to try to out-terrorise the forces working for the likes of Robert Mugabe, to try to alienate the local population from Mugabe’s men by pretending to be Mugabe’s men and committing such atrocities that the locals would be repulsed by them. Then when the soft cops turned up in the shape of government forces, the locals would feel like offering their help and support. It’s called winning hearts and minds, and was a tactic that had already been used by US special forces in Vietnam before that, and by British special forces all over the place before that: Malaya, Congo, Kenya, Aden…

Some would dismiss false flag adventures as conspiracy theory, which is, of course, a very convenient way to persuade the 99% that our trusted leaders couldn’t possibly stoop so low. But history is rich with proof that they most certainly do stoop so low, with amazing frequency. So the really important lesson to learn in all of this is that whenever a so-called “terrorist” outrage occurs, especially those outrages where the perpetrators haven’t been caught in action (and rounding up “suspects” after the event cannot be trusted either – as the “Guildford Four” and “Birmingham Six”, for example, could confirm)… always, always recall the very real world of false flag adventures.

John Andrews is a writer whose main work is Peace Talk.

May 15, 2012 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dire Nakba memories live by the day

By Ramzy Baroud | Palestine Chronicle | May 14, 2012

Many Palestinians remember and reference al-Nakba, also known as the Catastrophe, on May 15 every year. The event marks the expulsion of nearly a million Palestinians, while their villages were destroyed.

The destruction of Palestine in 1947-48 ushered in the birth of Israel. Older generations relay the harsh and oppressive memory of their collective experience to younger Palestinians, many of whom live their own Nakbas today.

In covering al-Nakba, sympathetic Arab and other media play sad music and show black and white footage of displaced, frightened refugees. They rightly emphasize the concept of Sumud, steadfastness, as they show Palestinian of all ages holding unto the rusty keys of their homes and insisting on their right of return. Other, less sympathetic media discuss al-Nakba, if at all, as a side note – a nuisance in the Israeli narrative of a nation’s supposedly miraculous birth and its progression to an idyllic oasis of democracy. What such reductionist representations often fail to show is that while al-Nakba started, it never truly finished.

Those who underwent the pain, harm and loss of al-Nakba are yet to receive the justice that was promised to them by the international community. UN Resolution 194 states that “the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date” (Article 11). Those who wrought this injustice are also yet to achieve their ultimate objectives in Palestine. After all, Israel doesn’t have defined boundaries by accident.

David Ben Gurion, first Prime Minister of Israel, once prophesized that “the old (refugees) will die and the young will forget.” He spoke with the harshness of a conqueror. Ben Gurion carried out his war plans to the furthest extent possible. Every region in Palestine that was meant to be taken was captured, its people were expelled or massacred in their homes and villages. Ben Guiron ‘cleansed’ the land, but he failed to cleanse Israel’s past. Memory persists.

Ben Gurion referenced my own family’s village – Beit Daras – which witnessed three battles and a massacre. In an entry in his diaries on May 12, 1948, he wrote: “Beit Daras was mortared. Fifty Arabs (were killed). The (villages of) Bashit and Sawafir were occupied. There is mass exodus from nearby areas (neighbors in Majdal). We sustained 5 dead and 15 wounded. ” (War Diaries, 1947-1949).

More than fifty people were killed in Beit Daras that day. An old Gaza woman, Um Mohammed – who I discussed in my last book, My Father was a Freedom Fighter – refers to what is likely the same event:

“The town was under bombardment, and it was surrounded from all directions. There was no way out. The armed men (the Beit Daras fighters) said they were going to check on the road to Isdud, to see if it was open. They moved forward and shot few shots to see if someone would return fire. No one did. But they (the Zionist forces) were hiding and waiting to ambush the people. The armed men returned and told the people to evacuate the women and children. The people went out (including) those who were gathered at my huge house, the family house. There were mostly children and kids in the house. The Jewish (soldiers) let the people get out, and then they whipped them with bombs and machine guns. More people fell than those who were able to run. My sister and I…started running through the fields; we’d fall and get up. My sister and I escaped together holding each other’s hands. The people who took the main road were either killed or injured. The firing was falling on the people like sand. The bombs from one side and the machine guns from the other.”

Ben Gurion would not necessarily doubt Um Mohammed’s account. He candidly stated: “Let us not ignore the truth among ourselves…politically we are the aggressors and they defend themselves…The country is theirs, because they inhabit it, whereas we want to come here and settle down, and in their view we want to take away from them their country” (as quoted in Chomsky’s Fateful Triangle, pp. 91-2).

It is precisely for this reason that neither the old nor the young have forgotten. Every day is another manifestation of the same protracted al-Nakba that has lasted 64 years now. Young people’s hardships today are inextricably linked to the violent and horrific uprooting decades ago.

Al-Nakba has also remained an ongoing project through generations of Israeli Zionists. When Ben Gurion died in 1973, current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in his mid-twenties. He was then serving his last year in the Israeli army, and today he rules Israel with a coalition that includes almost three quarters of the Israeli parliament. Like most Israeli leaders, he continues to contribute to the very discourse by which Palestine was conquered. He speaks of peace, while his soldiers and armed settlers take over Palestinian homes and farms. He makes repeated offers to Palestinians for ‘unconditional’ talks, as he repeats his violent rejection of every Palestinian aspiration. His lobby in Washington is much stronger than ever before. He reigns supreme, as he continues to fulfill the ‘vision’ of early Zionists.

Old keys and deeds of stolen lands attest to the intergenerational experience that is Al-Nakba. Today Palestinians continue to be herded behind military checkpoints. They are denied the right to proper medical care, and their ancient olive trees are ruthlessly bulldozed. What Israel has not been able to control, however, is the resolve of Palestinians. The prison, the checkpoint and the gun reside in our collective memory in a way that cannot be held captive, controlled, or shot.

In fact, al-Nakba is not a specific date or an estimation of time, but the entirety of those 64 years and counting. The event must not be assigned to the shelves of history, not as long as refugees are still refugees and settlers continue to rob Palestinian land. As long as Netanyahu speaks the language of Ben Gurion, other ‘catastrophic’ episodes will follow. And as long as Palestinians hold on to their keys and deeds, the old may die but the young will never forget.

May 15, 2012 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli occupation authority renews administrative detention of MP Rejoub for fourth time

Palestine Information Center – 15/05/2012

AL-KHALIL — The Israeli occupation authority has renewed the administrative detention of MP Nayef Al-Rejoub for six months for the fourth time running, his son said on Monday.

He said that the Negev prison administration informed his father of the decision despite the fact that his past detention order still ends after 17 days on 1st June.

He said that the early decision was a clear indication that the Israeli prison service was eluding the agreement announced earlier on Monday with the Palestinian prisoners, who have been on hunger strike for four weeks, not to renew administrative detention among other articles.

The IOA had arrested MP Rejoub in 2010 and renewed his administrative detention, without charge, on three previous occasions each time for a period of six months.

A PIC reporter said that the Negev prison administration had renewed the administrative custody of a number of other prisoners.

May 15, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , , | Leave a comment