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Donors may halt aid to Palestinian Authority if no progress is made in peace talks

MEMO | August 29, 2013

Donors will not continue to subsidise the Palestinian Authority forever and if Palestinian-Israeli talks do not make any progress, donations could be stopped according to the Norwegian foreign minister, Espen Barth Eide, in the Jerusalem Post.

“The donors will not be ready to keep funding Palestinian state-building much longer if we do not see a political solution on the horizon,” said Eide.

“I think this is important for the Palestinians to know… the comfort of an internationally subsidised state-building endeavour may be wrong,” Eide told the newspaper. “And I think that it is important for some people on the Israeli side… to know that this cannot continue forever.”

An international group of donors are due to meet next month in New York on the side-lines of the UN General Assembly meeting.

Eide said that he is “optimistic” about the peace process. “There are two basic reasons for my relative optimism this time compared to previous rounds,” he said. Palestinian and Israeli sides understood that “this might be the last opportunity for a two-state solution according to the Oslo paradigm.”

“I think we are at the point where we will either move ahead or backward to a very different situation.”

The second reason for his optimism, he said, was due to “dramatic events everywhere in the region, from Egypt to Syria, Lebanon and the apocalyptic terror we are seeing all around.”

The Norwegian minister said he knew that Israel and the Palestinian Authority have a shared position on their attitudes towards Iran, Syria, Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.

He said that the ousting of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi had clearly weakened Hamas to the advantage of the Palestinian Authority.

“A year ago we feared that the centre of gravity was slowly moving from the West Bank to Gaza. Now it is clearly back in the West Bank, where it should be,” he said, adding that this was another reason to move purposefully with the negotiations.

August 30, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | Comments Off on Donors may halt aid to Palestinian Authority if no progress is made in peace talks

Who Blocked Syrian Peace Talks?

By Robert Parry | Consortium news | August 30, 2013

Painful experiences of recent years should have taught the American people the danger that comes when the government and the mainstream press adopt a pleasing but false narrative, altering the facts to support a “good guy v. bad guy” scenario, such as is now being done regarding the history of Syrian peace talks.

The preferred narrative now is that American military force against Syria is needed not only to punish President Bashar al-Assad for allegedly using chemical weapons but to compel his participation in peace talks aimed at ending the civil war. That is a storyline that has slipped into U.S. “news” articles in recent days.

For instance, on Friday, the New York Times’ Michael Gordon stripped out the actual history of why the opposing sides of the Syrian civil war have not come together for planned meetings in Geneva. Instead, Gordon placed the blame on Assad and on obstacles partly the fault of the Russians, leaving out the fact that it was the U.S.-supported Syrian opposition that has repeatedly torpedoed the talks.

Gordon wrote: “State Department officials initially said the peace conference might occur before the end of May, but plans became bogged down in differences between the United States and Russia, and the conference has yet to be held.

“And the Obama administration [regarding its expected missile strike against Syrian government positions] did not articulate a comprehensive military strategy that would — in concert with allies — be certain to weaken the Assad government to the point that it would be willing to cede power and negotiate.”

So, you are supposed to believe that “our” side – the brave “opposition” in league with the U.S. State Department – is ever so reasonable, wanting peace and eager to negotiate, but that “their” side – both the evil Assad and his troublemaking Russian allies – is unwilling to take difficult steps for peace.

Except that this storyline from Gordon and other mainstream journalists isn’t accurate. Indeed, from May to July. the U.S. news media, including the New York Times, reported a different scenario: that Assad had agreed to participate in the Geneva peace talks but that the opposition was refusing to attend.

On July 31, for example, Ben Hubbard of the New York Times reported that “the new conditions, made by the president of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, Ahmad al-Jarba, … reflected a significant hardening of his position. He said that the opposition would not negotiate with President Bashar al-Assad or ‘his clique’ and that talks could begin only when the military situation in Syria was positive for rebel forces.”

The opposition has spelled out other preconditions, including the need for the United States to supply the rebels with more sophisticated weapons and a demand that Assad’s Lebanese Hezbollah allies withdraw from Syria. The most recent excuse for the rebels not going to Geneva is the dispute over Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons.

Yet, even if Gordon and other mainstream journalists sympathize with the opposition’s reasons for staying away from the peace talks, reporters shouldn’t alter the narrative to shape U.S. public opinion. That is a case of journalistic malfeasance reminiscent of the way the Times and other news outlets manufactured a case for war with Iraq in 2002-2003.

Indeed, Gordon played a key role in that propaganda effort as well, coauthoring with Judith Miller the infamous Times article on Sept. 8, 2002, touting the false claim that Iraq was purchasing aluminum tubes for use in building nuclear weapons, the story that gave rise to the memorable refrain from President George W. Bush and his aides that they couldn’t let “the smoking gun” be “a mushroom cloud.”

Though Miller eventually was forced to resign from the Times – after her level of collaboration with the Bush administration’s neocons was exposed – Gordon escaped any serious accountability, remaining the newspaper’s chief military correspondent.

But Gordon is far from alone these days in spinning a more pleasing black-and-white narrative about Syria. It apparently seems to many mainstream U.S. journalists that it’s nicer to portray “our” side as favoring peace and going the extra mile to negotiate a cease-fire and “their” side as intransigent and eager for more bloodshed.

And, if the facts don’t support that scenario, you just leave out some and make up others.


Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and

August 30, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | Comments Off on Who Blocked Syrian Peace Talks?

US spying violated Brazil’s sovereignty: Brazilian minister

Press TV – August 30, 2013

Brazil has criticized the United States for spying on Brazilian companies and individuals, saying the electronic surveillance is a violation of the South American country’s sovereignty.

“We expressed Brazil’s unhappiness on learning that data was intercepted without the authorization of Brazilian authorities, for the use of US intelligence,” Brazilian Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo said on Thursday, the last day of his two-day visit to the US.

“The acts imply a violation of human rights, violation of Brazilian sovereignty and rights enshrined in our constitution,” he added.

Last month, Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota expressed serious concerns over a report, which said the US National Security Agency (NSA) has been spying on Brazilian companies and individuals for a decade.

Brazil’s O Globo newspaper reported on July 7 that the NSA had collected data on billions of telephone and email conversations in the country.

The report said that information released by US surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals that the number of telephone and email messages logged by the NSA in the 10-year period was near to the 2.3 billion captured in the US during the same period.

During his visit to Washington, the Brazilin justice minister met US Vice President Joe Biden, US Attorney General Eric Holder and White House counter-terrorism adviser Lisa Monaco.

Cardozo said US officials could not allay his country’s concerns.

“We made a proposal to move toward an agreement to establish the rules on procedures in the interception of data. They told us the United States would not sign an agreement under those terms with any country in the world,” he said.

Cardozo said US officials claimed that the spying was used for counter-terrorism purpose.

“But for us it was clear that there was collection of data to deal with organized crime and drug-trafficking, but what is worse, also Brazilian diplomatic actions,” he said.

The chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, admitted in July that Snowden’s exposés have seriously damaged US ties with other countries. “There has been damage. I don’t think we actually have been able to determine the depth of that damage.”

Snowden, a former CIA employee, leaked two top secret US government spying programs under which the NSA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are eavesdropping on millions of American and European phone records and the Internet data from major Internet companies such as Facebook, Yahoo, Google, Apple, and Microsoft.

The NSA scandal took even broader dimensions when Snowden revealed information about its espionage activities targeting friendly countries.

August 30, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Economics | , , , , , , | Comments Off on US spying violated Brazil’s sovereignty: Brazilian minister

Obama’s Dark Theatrics

By PAUL GOTTINGER | August 30, 2013

The Nobel Peace Prize Laureate himself, Obama, weighed in on the human rights abuses being carried out by the U.S. trained and funded General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Egypt on August 23 saying “We care deeply about the Egyptian people,” and “We deplore violence against civilians.” These statements came after a vicious attack on protestors on August 14 that Human Rights Watch called, “most serious incident of mass unlawful killings in modern Egyptian history.”

The day of the Egyptian security forces attack on the non-violent protestors John Kerry did his best to conjure up indignation in response to the events. In the stiff and passionless manner of a marionette, which is convincing only in that he is “deeply concerned” with not forgetting his lines, he stated, “The violence is deplorable.”

So one would imagine this peacenik president who is deeply troubled by the violence in Egypt would unleash the hoards of humanitarians to protect the Egyptian civilians he cares so much about. But instead Obama stated, “America cannot determine the future of Egypt. That’s a task for [Egyptians].”  

Then on August 19 Chuck Hagel changed the tone slightly (he’s the Secretary of Defense, so he has to sound tough) by focusing on America’s impotence in regards to Egypt. He stated, “[The U.S.’] ability to influence the outcome in Egypt is limited” and that “All nations are limited in their influence in another nation’s internal issues”.

On August 22 the LA Times echoed much the same stating, “Obama’s inability to ease the crisis reflects America’s diminished ability to influence political outcomes in [Egypt].”

The media continued the theme of failing U.S. influence in Egypt by focusing on the fact that the three richest monarchies in the gulf pledged $12 billion in cash and loans to Egypt. The Wall Street Journal wrote, ‘The U.S.’s closest Middle East allies undercut American policy in Egypt by encouraging the military to confront the Muslim Brotherhood rather than reconcile, U.S. and Arab officials said.’

The idea we’re supposed to have about Obama’s policy towards Egypt couldn’t be clearer: Obama would really love to stop all that awful violence in Egypt, but unfortunately America just isn’t powerful enough to save everyone. Come on, Obama isn’t superman.

The consistency with which the mainstream media adhered to this message demonstrates the strict discipline the major newspapers maintain in their role as ideological managers.

But just as the population of most of the planet was about to collectively erupt in simultaneous celebration at the end of American military hegemony, Obama stated he was considering a military strike on Syria.

We’re supposed to swallow that the situation in Egypt is beyond the realm of American power, but Syria, where the U.S. has significantly less influence, is within the capabilities of the U.S.

Apparently the forecast of the decline of American power from the mainstream media was a bit premature. Perhaps there is a lesson here: whatever the mainstream media is saying about U.S. foreign policy, you can be almost certain it’s not true.

However, it is true that U.S. power has been in decline since the end of World War II when it was at its most powerful, but the U.S. still is far and away the most powerful country in the world. This will likely be the case for a long time to come.

In order to understand the cynicism of Obama’s rhetoric, one must be familiar with the U.S.’ long record of support for brutal dictators with awful human rights records. This is especially the case in Egypt where the U.S. supported Anwar El Sadat beginning in the early 1970s, and also supported his successor Hosni Mubarak until nearly the end of the 2011 protests.

If the Peace Laureate president had any sincerity with regards to stopping the human rights abuses in Egypt he could pressure the military government there. With Egypt’s small economy (a GDP of around 260 billion dollars) the military government could be easily bought, or enticed with a long stalled IMF deal and debt forgiveness. This is especially true because the Egyptian economy has suffered serious unemployment and inflation for years.

Even if the U.S. didn’t want to spend a dime on Egypt it could take Turkey’s suggestion and bring the issue of violence against civilians to the UN Security Council and Arab League with the hopes of influencing the military government.

The U.S. could also assert its influence on its close allies the Gulf States and Israel. But the U.S. is fine with the military government in Egypt and allows the aid from the Gulf States to reach Egypt.

Another instructive element to the political crisis in Egypt was the Obama administration’s fake attempts to resolve the situation diplomatically.

The New York Times reported that Chuck Hagel made, “17 personal phone calls” to the Egyptian military government, but they “failed to forestall” the crisis. Perhaps Hagel would have had more luck if he tried contacting the General el-Sisi on Facebook.

The next act in the made for New York Times special was the diplomatic trip of John McCain and Lindsey Graham to Egypt on behalf of Obama. The New York Times reports Graham spoke to John McCain about General el-Sisi saying, “If this guy’s voice is indicative of the attitude, there’s no pulling out of this thing.”

This conjures up the image of the Egyptian military commander as a runaway train and all the bros from Washington are pulling as hard as they can on the break, but somehow the general is just too strong for them.

You see it’s imperative that the media portray the U.S. as powerless to stop the violence of dictators the U.S. likes. However, when the U.S. doesn’t care for the leader, be they democratically elected like Hamas in 2006, or Chavez in 2002, or a dictator like Saddam, Qaddafi, or Assad, then the U.S. is capable of anything, usually devastating violence.

Just when you think there is not a sensible member of the U.S. government John McCain stated that he recommended the U.S. cut aid to Egypt. But the reason he gave for why he recommended this was telling. He said, “[the U.S.] has no credibility. ”We know that the administration called the Egyptians and said, ‘look, if you [have] a coup, we’re going to cut off aid because that’s the law.’ We have to comply with the law. And … this administration did not do that after threatening to do so.”

McCain’s reasoning for supporting a cut to aid has nothing to do with protecting human rights in Egypt, but is solely about American credibility. The logic is this: if the U.S. makes threats, we have to follow threw with them. This is the same logic used when raising a child, which tells us much about how the U.S. views its relationship to Egypt and much of the rest of the world.

When we put aside the dark theatrics of the Obama administration’s rhetoric it is obscenely obvious that el-Sisi and the Egyptian military have very close connections to the U.S. and serve U.S interests.

For decades the Egyptian leaders have played an important role for the U.S. by allowing U.S./Israel to act with impunity against the Palestinians.

The closeness of the ties between the Egyptian military and the U.S. is demonstrated by the fact that General el-Sisi spent a year at the Army War College in Pennsylvania in 2006. The same Army War College trains 500-1000 Egyptian military officers every year.

Since 1979 Egypt has received the 2nd most bilateral aid, behind only Israel, totaling 68 billion dollars. The U.S. buys relationships with the militaries of countries like Egypt to insure influence.

This is why Obama has allowed and will continue to allow the human right abuses to continue in Egypt. Despite his pretty talk and composed outrage, he actually is just fine with protestors being gunned down in the street, the brutal repression of a political party (Muslim Brotherhood), the prevention of freedom of speech, and the destruction of Egypt’s brief experiment with democracy (which resulted from the sacrifice of 800 hundred lives with 6,000 injured and 12,000 hauled before military courts).

Obama is A okay with military curfews and a state of emergency. Obama has no problem with attacks on Christian churches, attacks on journalists, and “Nightmare scenes that Egyptians could never have imagined could take place in [their] country.” Obama sees nothing wrong with tear gas being fired into hospitals, and Islamists being portrayed as terrorists or even animals.

Obama has no problem with any of this because he knows he can count on el-Sisi to follow U.S. orders. Egyptian civil society’s destruction simply makes controlling the country easier for the U.S. […]

Whether or not the U.S. knew about the military coup ahead of time the U.S. seems to be following a predictable PR plan.

1. The Obama administration strongly condemns the violence and calls for a return to democracy. 2. There is a semantic battle waged over whether or not to classify the events as a coup. 3. When it looks bad to support a thug overtly, you engage in superficial detachment from the leader of the coup. (This is the canceling of the joint military operations) 4.Then if necessary, as in the 2009 coup to the somewhat progressive Manuel Zelaya in Honduras, cut some amount of aid as a slap on the wrist, but then quietly restore it later.

Obama’s policies are all predictable. It’s the same story once again: the U.S. destroys yet another country. The revolution in Egypt is back at square one. Morsi is detained and Mubarak has been released from prison. The U.S. has done its best to destroy the progress of the Arab Spring.

But more protests are being called for in Egypt on Friday, August 30. The question is can Egypt regain the spirit of the January 25 revolution and continue to fight for basic rights? Perhaps for us as Americans the more important question is how much longer will Americans tolerate the dark theatrics of our government’s foreign policy? When we witness the immense bravery of the Egyptians challenging their government and getting massacred don’t we have a responsibility to challenge our government when the risks for us are far less? As Americans we must work to protect victims of U.S. violence, and the best way for us to do that is to get off the Internet and get in the street.

Paul Gottinger can be reached at


August 30, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Progressive Hypocrite, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel Rehabilitates Qalandia Airport with Eye on Syria

Al-Akhbar | August 30, 2013

Ramallah – For the first time since the second intifada, Qalandia airport was the scene of intense activity by both Israeli civilian and military vehicles over the past two days, according to eyewitnesses in the area who spoke to Al-Akhbar. It is believed that the Israeli occupation forces are repurposing the airport to receive civilian and military aircraft, on the back of mounting talk about an imminent region-wide war.

The Jerusalem International Airport, or Qalandia airport as it is commonly called, overlooks the road linking Ramallah to occupied Jerusalem. The airport is located between populated Palestinian areas under the control of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA).

The British Mandate authorities built the airport in the 1920s. Under the Jordanian administration, the airport became a hub for tourism and commerce.

Following the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, it was used in a limited fashion for civil aviation, before the Israelis turned it into an army base during the second intifada. Israel closed down the airport completely in 2000. Recently, the Israelis considered turning it into an industrial park after ownership of the land was transferred to the Jerusalem municipality.

The airport has been also used as a bargaining chip between the Israeli and Palestinian sides during negotiations, with the PNA demanding to turn it into a civilian airport under its control as a condition for negotiations. However, Thursday’s activity at the airport has now raised questions about the goal for rehabilitating it at this time in particular, prompting speculations that Israel may be seeking to turn it into an emergency airport in the event of a full-scale war.

Mahmoud Awadallah, an eyewitness living near the airport, told Al-Akhbar, “We noticed suspicious activity at the airport over the past two days. Two delegations entered the premises, one civilian and one military, accompanied by military vehicles. They conducted repairs and tested the runway by driving over it at high speed. They also installed what appear to be reflectors to facilitate aircraft landing. But they stopped working today.”

In Israel, every aspect of life is being prepared for the worst-case scenario. Shelters are present in every city on a very large scale. Protection gear is widely available, even among ordinary citizens.

Furthermore, there are major expressways that can act as emergency landing strips for military and civilian aircraft, if Israeli airports in the north should come under bombardment.

All this raises questions about the reason Israel has chosen to rehabilitate Qalandia airport. Awadallah said, “The occupation wants to shelter itself among the Palestinians, as the old airport, which has been neglected since the beginning of the second intifada, is unlikely to come under attack given its location among Palestinian population centers and its proximity to Ramallah.”

Israel does not have military airports in Jerusalem. Most Israeli air bases are located in the southern regions adjacent to the Gaza Strip, in a cluster stretching from Tel Aviv along the Mediterranean, to the Negev Desert in the south. If Israeli military airports in the north were to be bombed, Qalandia would be the closest functioning airport to Syrian territory.

The Israeli home front is living a real state of war reminiscent of the situation that prevailed inside the Jewish state shortly before the Iraq war in 2003. Anyone following Israeli media would come out with the impression that the international campaign against Syria will begin in a matter of hours. Anti-missile systems like Patriot, Arrow, and the Iron Dome have been widely deployed along occupied Palestine’s northern border, as Israelis flocked to distribution centers providing gas masks for the second day in a row, in anticipation of any chemical attack from the north.

August 30, 2013 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Comments Off on Israel Rehabilitates Qalandia Airport with Eye on Syria

Only Bad Guys Ignore Public Opinion, Right? Not to Mention International Law

By Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep in America | August 29, 2013

It is conventional wisdom in U.S. government officialdom and among our mainstream punditry that popular opinion in Iran has absolutely no impact on the decision-making of that country’s leadership. The common refrain is that the policies, namely with regard to foreign affairs and national security, pursued by Iran’s political and military elite have little relation to – and are often at odds with – the will of the Iranian people.

Despite this assumption, in fact, most public opinion polls of Iranian citizens demonstrate a wide range of perspectives and attitudes, much like that of any other diverse and informed population, and consistently find that government policies track closely with public opinion, especially when it comes to foreign policy, relations with the West, sanctions, perceptions of the United States government and the nuclear program.

There are naturally large segments of the Iranian population who disagree with their government’s handling of many different issues, from the economy to international relations, just as there are anywhere. One need only look at public opinion polls here in the United States to see similar, if not far more striking, public opposition to official policies.

Nevertheless, the politicians and the media continue to push the idea that Iran is an anomaly in this regard – a dictatorial authoritarian state in no way beholden to its oppressed citizenry; a virtual security state in which government officials make life and death decisions of war and peace with no regard to the will of the masses.

Before the recent Iranian presidential election this past Spring, Secretary of State John Kerry presaged, “Ultimately, the Iranian people [will] be prevented not only from choosing someone who might have reflected their point of view, but also taking part in a way that is essential to any kind of legitimate democracy.”

Once Western observers were shocked by the result of the June 14 vote – the election of moderate cleric Hassan Rouhani – the White House issued a statement of congratulations to the Iranian people for “making their voices heard.”

“It is our hope that the Iranian government will heed the will of the Iranian people and make responsible choices that create a better future for all Iranians,” it read.

With the bloody civil war in Syria now driving headlines and drawing battle lines over the alleged use of chemical weapons, this perception has once again been articulated when it comes to Iran’s continuing support of the Syrian government and efforts to avoid the escalation of military conflict in the region.

Writing this week for the U.S.-government funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, reporter Golnaz Esfandiari remarked:

Iran’s support for Syria, which has already come under criticism by many Iranians, could become even more unpopular as more and more countries point the fingers at the Syrian regime over the suspected chemical attack on August 21.

That does not mean that Iran will discontinue its support for Syria — public opinion doesn’t count for much in a country like Iran — and for now Iran appears to be determined to stand by Assad.

The implications here are obvious. We are told that the Iranian public doesn’t support its own government’s policies on Syria, and the Iranian government simply doesn’t care, instead forging ahead with what a Western readership is supposed to immediately dismiss as destructive and wrongheaded policy.

The very same day that Esfandiari published her story, U.S. State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf – Jen Psaki’s late summer pinch-hitter – defended the Obama administration’s increased threats of military intervention – mostly likely in the form of airstrikes – on behalf of anti-Assad rebels, which may occur in a matter of days.

During her daily press briefing, Harf was asked whether she was “aware that most – in fact, if not all – public polls show that the American people, by a very large majority, oppose to any kind of intervention? Should that factor in in any kind of decision?”

The reporter posing the question was referring to a new Reuters/Ipsos poll, conducted between August 19 and 23 and released the previous day, which found that a mere 9 percent of respondents currently supported American military intervention in Syria. According the Washington Post, “this is the lowest support for intervention since the poll began tracking opinion on the issue.”

So, considering countries like Iran – y’know, the brutal, myopic, dictatorial kind – supposedly don’t make foreign policy calculations based upon public opinion (in contrast, presumably, to noble, responsive democratic nations like the United States), how did Ms. Harf reply?

Here’s how:

I think the President’s been clear that he makes decisions about our national security based on what’s best for national security interests of this country, and I think it’s clear here that there are core national security interests at stake for the United States. Clearly, the mass-scale use of chemical weapons or a potential proliferation of these weapons flagrantly violates an important international norm and therefore threatens American security.

Apparently, what is demanded of other nations simply doesn’t apply when it comes to our own policy-making.

Back in June, Obama spokesman Jay Carney explained that, when it comes to Syria, “the ultimate goal here is to bring about a political transition — one that results in a governing authority that respects the rights of all Syrians” and “that reflects the will of the Syrian people — all of the Syrian people.” The Obama administration, he said, is “working with our partners and allies and the opposition to help bring that about.”

Yet earlier that same month, Carney told the press just how the governing authority of his own boss – the Commander-in-Chief of the United States – would react to the will of the American people when it comes to arming Syrian rebels or possible militarily enforcing a no-fly zone against Assad’s air force. “The President makes a decision about the implementation of national security options based on our national security interests,” Carney said, “not on what might satisfy critics at any given moment about a policy.”

A reporter followed up. “Public opinion would not factor into that?,” he asked. In response, Carney was clear:

Of course not. What does factor in is what’s in the national security interests of the United States and what has the best chance of working — not satisfying an urge to do something today, but beyond today and next week and the following week — what actually has the potential to help bring us closer to the achievement of the goal.

A similar statement was made almost exactly a year ago by then-Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak when faced with popular protests and polling data reflecting strong Israeli opposition to a potential military attack on Iran. “The prime minister, defense minister and foreign minister have the authority…and the decision will be made as necessary by the government of Israel. That’s how it is and how it needs to be — not a group of civilians or even newspaper editorials,” Barak declared.

It is obvious that stark issues of foreign policy not be left solely to the whims of public opinion; every military decision can not be made via popular referendum. This is not the issue. The issue, rather, is that American rhetoric with regard to how other nations should operate is wholly disregarded when it comes to our own expectations for ourselves or our allies.

It’s called a double standard. It’s called hypocrisy. It’s called American exceptionalism.

Meanwhile, in a striking blow to the Obama administration’s efforts to assemble a willing coalition to attack Assad’s military installations, the British Parliament voted today against immediate involvement in a military strike against Syria. The decision, won by a margin of just 13 votes, was primarily based on outstanding questions regarding the ultimate culpability for the recent use of chemical weapons based on available evidence.

Reacting to the vote, British Prime Minister David Cameron said that, despite his personal belief “in the need for a tough response to the use of chemical weapons” he would respect the will of the representatives. “It is clear to me that the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action,” he said. “I get that, and the government will act accordingly.”

When it comes to Syria, the real question yet remains: American public opinion and the war cheerleading from both neoconservative hawks and supposedly liberal voices in the mainstream media aside, will Barack Obama heed not only the mandate of the U.S. Constitution, but also the tenets of international law, which unequivocally prohibit a military strike? What about the fact that such attacks could certainly do far more harm than good by putting even more Syrian civilians lives in danger and exacerbating an already devastating humanitarian crisis?

So far, the signs don’t look good.

As Marc Lynch recently wrote in Foreign Policy,

The rumored air strikes would drag the United States across a major threshold of direct military involvement, without any serious prospect of ending the conflict or protecting Syrian civilians (at least from non-chemical attacks). They likely would not accomplish more than momentarily appeasing the whimsical gods of credibility. The attack would almost certainly lack a Security Council mandate. Meanwhile, the response from Arab public opinion to another U.S. military intervention has been predictably hostile; even the very Arab leaders who have been aggressively pushing for such military action are refraining from openly supporting it. And nobody really believes that such strikes will actually work.

According to the New York Times, even in the face of “a stinging rejection” of military action “by America’s stalwart ally Britain and mounting questions from Congress,” unnamed U.S. “administration officials made clear that the eroding support would not deter Mr. Obama in deciding to go ahead with a strike.”

Like his much-maligned predecessor, a lack of solid evidence and respect for legality may not deter this new Decider from launching another war, logic and democracy be damned.

August 30, 2013 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 1 Comment

John Kerry’s Tender Sensibilities

By Kevin Carson | Center for a Stateless Society | August 29th, 2013

In response to Bashir Assad’s crossing of a “red line” by allegedly using chemical weapons against his own people, Secretary of State John Kerry cites his own fatherly feelings as justification for the all-but-inevitable looming US military intervention in Syria. “As a father, I can’t get the image out of my head, of a father who held up his dead child, wailing …”

Hopefully CNN will try extra hard to sanitize the war footage from Syria once the bombing starts, now that we know how badly dead Syrian kids upset Kerry. Because you can be sure there are a lot more dead Syrian kids on the way.

Of course, Kerry’s sensitivity to dead children is a bit like Carter having a problem with liver pills. This is the same John Kerry who served in Vietnam, and who backed two attacks on Iraq and one on Afghanistan, is it not? One of the most iconic images in the history of journalism is a little girl, naked and burning, running down a Vietnamese road after a chemical weapons attack by the United States. And the US all but condemned Al-Jazeera as a terrorist organization for airing images of Iraqi children incinerated in the American attack in 2003.

For that matter, US “redlining” of a country for using chemical weapons is also a bit odd. In the same press conference, Kerry spoke of holding Iraq accountable for violating international, historically established norms. But the US itself has quite a history of violating such norms. In WWII, for instance, the U.S. holds pride of place not only for the firebombing of Dresden and Tokyo, but for being the first and only military power in history to burn hundreds of thousands of civilians alive with atomic weapons in the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

As for chemical weapons, aren’t Agent Orange and napalm — the liquid fire used on that screaming little girl mentioned above — supposed to count? The cumulative effect of US chemical weapons use in Indochina is millions dead during the war in South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia — and millions more dead of cancer and genetic defects in the decades since.

While we’re on the subject of chemical weapons, the story just came out — at about the worst possible time for the US, as it’s rolling out its propaganda for another war — that the US actively aided Iraq’s Saddam Hussein in targeting Iranian troops with nerve gas. It was known for some time that the Reagan administration had shared intelligence with Iraq at the same time it was using chemical weapons in the Gulf War. But it turns out Washington was supplying intelligence in full knowledge that that intelligence would be used to identify Iranian troop concentrations for targeting with nerve agents. Iran was preparing for the strategic exploitation of a huge hole in Saddam’s defenses, which might well have turned the tide of the war and led to enormous Iranian gains at the mouth of the Tigris and Euphrates, increasing military pressure on Kuwait and other Arab Gulf states.

The overall American policy arc in Iraq from the ’80s on seems to be: 1) Help Saddam to make war on his neighbors; 2) help Saddam use weapons of mass destruction against his neighbors; 3) encourage Saddam to invade Kuwait; 4) bomb the hell out of Saddam in 1991 for invading Kuwait and making war against his neighbors; 5) bomb the hell out of Saddam in 2003 for possibly still having weapons of mass destruction.

In short, the United States simply does not give a rip about Saddam, Assad, or anyone else using chemical weapons or committing war crimes of any kind. The US routinely supports regimes that engage in war crimes — and then publicly condemns them for war crimes only when they stop taking orders from Washington or otherwise become a liability. War crimes by official enemies are just a propaganda point for selling wars to the public.

Consumer advisory: Don’t buy a used war from this man.

August 30, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Comments Off on John Kerry’s Tender Sensibilities

US and France press on with Syria strike plans as Britain, Germany opt out

Al-Akhbar | August 30, 2013

British lawmakers have rejected their government’s call for military strikes against the Syrian government, leaving the US to look elsewhere for international partners while reserving the right to act alone against Damascus.

The British House of Commons voted Thursday to defy Prime Minister David Cameron’s bid to win support for military intervention over Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons.

The Syrian government has firmly denied responsibility for the attacks.

Speaking in Manila Friday, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel insisted Washington is still seeking an “international coalition” to take action against Assad.

“Our approach is to continue to find an international coalition that will act together,” Hagel told a news conference.

But he did not say which countries might be part of an international coalition, and his comments appeared to strike a different tone from earlier statements by White House officials suggesting the US is prepared to act alone.

Hagel said Washington respected the British parliament’s stance rejecting participation in any strikes in Syria.

“We are continuing to consult with the British as with all of our allies. That consultation includes ways forward together on a response to this chemical weapons attack in Syria,” he added.

French President Francois Hollande said the British vote against taking military action in Syria would not affect France’s will to act to against Assad.

Hollande told the daily Le Monde in an interview that he still supported taking “firm” punitive action over an attack he said had caused “irreparable” harm to the Syrian people and said he would work closely with France’s allies.

Asked if France could take action without Britain, Hollande replied: “Yes. Each country is sovereign to participate or not in an operation. That is valid for Britain as it is for France.”

Hollande said a military strike on Syria could come by Wednesday, when the French parliament is due to meet for an emergency session on Syria.

The French leader said that he would not take any decision to act unless the conditions were there to justify that.

“All the options are on the table. France wants action that is in proportion and firm against the Damascus regime,” he said.

“There are few countries that have the capacity to inflict a sanction by the appropriate means. France is one of them. We are ready. We will decide our position in close liaison with our allies.”

The British parliament’s decision also came after the failure of an improbable eleventh-hour effort by British diplomats to win UN backing for action against Bashar al-Assad at a meeting of the permanent members of the Security Council.

“It is clear to me that the British parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that and the government will act accordingly,” Cameron said.

His government was defeated by 13 votes in the House of Commons in its bid for a “strong humanitarian response” to the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle ruled out his country’s participation in the military strike.

Westerwelle told Saturday’s Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung that such a move had “neither been asked nor is it being considered by us”, according to pre-released comments by the paper.

“We are pushing for the United Nations Security Council to find a common position and for the work of UN inspectors to be finished as quickly as possible,” he added.

That, combined with deadlock at the United Nations, appeared to effectively sound the death knell for the idea of a broad-based Western military coalition, although other American allies might still participate.

Caitlin Hayden, a National Security Council spokeswoman said that President Barack Obama’s decision-making “will be guided by what is in the best interests of the United States.”

“He believes that there are core interests at stake for the United States and that countries who violate international norms regarding chemical weapons need to be held accountable.”

Earlier, envoys from the permanent five members of the UN Security Council – Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States – had met at UN headquarters in New York.

The 45-minute meeting was the second since Britain proposed a draft resolution to permit “all necessary measures” to protect Syrian civilians after a suspected chemical weapons attack last week.

But none of the envoys commented as they left.

Earlier in the week reports had suggested that a Western strike was imminent, but questions have been raised about the quality of the intelligence linking Assad to the attack.

The White House reached out to US lawmakers, with the president’s top aides briefing congressional leaders in a 90 minute conference call.

Some members of Congress voiced support for limited, surgical strikes, while urging the administration to continue consulting closely with the Congress.

Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader in the House, said she agreed with House Speaker John Boehner that “there needs to be more consultation with all members of Congress and additional transparency into the decision making process and timing, and that the case needs to be made to the American people.

US warships armed with scores of cruise missiles are converging on the eastern Mediterranean, and US military officials have said they are ready to launch a powerful barrage against government targets in Syria.

Assad ally Russia has blocked all attempts to toughen international sanctions against Damascus or authorize outside force to punish or unseat Assad.

As the stand-off continues, a team of UN inspectors are investigating reports that last week’s gas attack outside Damascus killed more than 350 people, including women and children.

A UN spokesman said Thursday that the team had collected “considerable” evidence and will brief UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon soon after they leave Syria on Saturday.

“Starting tomorrow he will try to reach out to member states and take discussions forward on the question of what is happening in Syria,” the spokesman said.

Ban has appealed for the inspectors to be allowed to complete their work before the major powers decide any follow-up action.

Assad remained defiant in the face of the Western threats.

“Syria will defend itself in the face of any aggression,” state television cited him as telling a visiting delegation of Yemeni politicians.

He vowed that any attack would result in “victory” for the Syrian people.

His government has denied using chemical weapons and blamed “terrorist” rebels.

The mood among Damascus residents was fearful, while security forces prepared for possible air attacks by pulling back soldiers from potential targets and introducing tougher controls at roadblocks and hospitals.

(AFP, Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

August 30, 2013 Posted by | False Flag Terrorism, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | 2 Comments