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As Rest Of The World Considers Cutting Back Aggressive Surveillance, New Zealand Legalizes Massive Spying

By Mike Masnick | Techdirt | November 6, 2013

The ongoing release of various leaks from Ed Snowden have drawn lots of attention and criticism of the activities of various parties in the intelligence community — especially those who partner closely with the NSA, the so-called “Five Eyes” countries: US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. And while there appears to be real momentum in the US behind limiting this surveillance, apparently New Zealand has decided to go in the other direction, and has passed a very broad new snooping law that will force telcos to basically hand over everything to various intelligence agencies.

The technical Telecommunications Interception Capability and Security Bill will compel telecommunication firms to assist intelligence agencies in intercepting and decrypting phone calls, texts and emails.

Critics say the bill is authoritarian, limits internet freedom and impinges on privacy and civil rights. The Government says it is necessary to replace a decade-old law to keep pace with technology.

We had mentioned this bill back when it was proposed earlier this year (before all the Snowden stuff went down). Given just how much outrage there is around the world about this kind of activity, it’s fairly incredible that the New Zealand government just pushed ahead with it, as if there wasn’t a giant public discussion going on. Oh, and the new legislation also lets New Zealand’s GCSB spy on New Zealanders as well. Until now, its surveillance had been technically limited to foreigners, though they did spy on New Zealanders many times. Rather than push back on the GCSB for this illegal spying, it appears that the New Zealand Parliament just decided to legalize the practice. Shameful stuff.

November 6, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , | Leave a comment

CIA Has ‘Acquired A Taste’ For Killing People With Drones; Won’t Give It Up

By Mike Masnick | Techdirt | November 6, 2013

The US’s use of drones is nothing if not controversial, and the overall secrecy around the program — including the belief that it can be used against Americans as well — has worried an awful lot of people. Even those in the administration who support the program apparently are uncomfortable with it implicitly, as the Obama administration had drawn up a whole bunch of rules that would limit drone killing… which they wanted to put in place in case Romeny won the election. But, when Obama won, they abandoned the idea. In other words, the position of the administration is basically, “trust us with these drone killing programs… but no one else.” Under significant pressure about all of this, the President finally announced in May that the drone killing program would be moved from the CIA to the Defense Department, where it would have more oversight (slightly) and limits.

Except, as Foreign Policy is now reporting, that isn’t actually happening and may never happen. The main reason appears to be fairly simple: the CIA loves killing people with these drones, and people in the Defense Department are kind of uncomfortable with doing so. So, the CIA wants to keep control, and the Defense Department doesn’t want it.

The U.S. official said that while the platforms and the capabilities are common to either the Agency or the Pentagon, there remain distinctly different approaches to “finding, fixing and finishing” terrorist targets. The two organizations also use different approaches to producing the “intelligence feeds” upon which drone operations rely. Perhaps more importantly, after years of conducting drone strikes, the CIA has developed an expertise and a taste for them. The DOD’s appetite to take over that mission may not run very deep.

Yes, the CIA has developed a taste for killing people from the skies with drones controlled from far away. It’s like a sport.

Remember when the US banned assassinations by the CIA? Yeah. Weren’t those the days?

November 6, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Rwandan War Criminals Defeated in Congo, But AFRICOM Riding High

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford | November 6, 2013

After 17 years and the death of six million Congolese, the United States has finally shifted gears in its efforts to dominate central Africa. Earlier this year, Washington cut off military aid to Rwanda, which, along with Uganda, another U.S. ally, has been looting and terrorizing the mineral-rich eastern Congo since 1996. All those years, U.S. Democratic and Republican administrations have lavished arms and money on the two client states, and protected them from sanction by international forums and courts. The genocide in the Congo was central to U.S. policy in the region. While 8 percent of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s population was dying, Rwanda and Ugandan soldiers and thugs got rich acting as middlemen, funneling Congo’s precious minerals to multinational corporations. Meanwhile, both Rwanda and Uganda supplied soldiers to every U.S.-approved military mission on the continent, acting as America’s mercenaries in Africa.

So, why did the U.S. alter its policy? First, international pressure finally made it untenable for Washington to continue deploying its Black henchmen to destabilize central Africa. President Obama appointed former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, a liberal by American standards, as his emissary to the Great Lakes region of Africa, and halted delivery of weapons to Rwanda. The Americans allowed the United Nations to form a special, 3,000-man intervention brigade empowered to use force against the so-called rebel group M23, which is actually led by the Tutsi-dominated government of Rwanda. This week, UN intervention forces backed up the Congolese army defeated the M23, sending its remnants fleeing across the Rwandan and Ugandan borders. The “rebels” announced they would end their insurgency.

However, Rwanda has pulled these tricks before, and has never acknowledged that M23 is its own creation, or that many of the fighters’ top officers are, in fact, members of the Rwandan armed forces. According to Friends of Congo, the Washington-based advocacy group, there is only one way to ensure that M23 will not resurface by some other name, and that is to bring these genocidal criminals to trial. However, this would require that Rwanda turn them over to the Democratic Republic of Congo or some international authority. Rwandan dictator Paul Kagame cannot be expected to turn on his own men, and the United States would not relish a series of trials in which its own role in the slaughter of millions would be revealed in embarrassing detail.

Therefore, although Washington has put distance between itself and Rwanda, the U.S. has no intention of allowing anything approximating justice to break out in central Africa. The U.S. military command, AFRICOM, has grown by leaps and bounds under President Obama – who has permanently stationed a brigade of U.S. troops in Africa – and the reinforced United Nations military presence in the region does exactly what the United States tells it to. And finally, at the end of the day, the Rwandan and Ugandan regimes understand that they are only cogs in the imperial machine, and must do as they are told. The U.S. empire is alive and growing in central Africa.

Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

November 6, 2013 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Australia’s Secret War on Aboriginal People

By JOHN PILGER | CounterPunch | November 6, 2013

The corridors of the Australian parliament are so white you squint. The sound is hushed; the smell is floor polish. The wooden floors shine so virtuously they reflect the cartoon portraits of prime ministers and rows of Aboriginal paintings, suspended on white walls, their blood and tears invisible.

The parliament stands in Barton, a suburb of Canberra named after the first prime minister of Australia, Edmund Barton, who drew up the White Australia Policy in 1901. “The doctrine of the equality of man,” said Barton, “was never intended to apply” to those not British and white-skinned.

Barton’s concern was the Chinese, known as the Yellow Peril; he made no mention of the oldest, most enduring human presence on earth: the first Australians. They did not exist. Their sophisticated care of a harsh land was of no interest. Their epic resistance did not happen. Of those who fought the British invaders of Australia, the Sydney Monitor reported in 1838: “It was resolved to exterminate the whole race of blacks in that quarter.”  Today, the survivors are a shaming national secret.

The town of Wilcannia, in New South Wales, is twice distinguished. It is a winner of a national Tidy Town award and its indigenous people have one of the lowest recorded life expectancies. They are usually dead by the age of 35. The Cuban government runs a literacy programme for them, as they do among the poorest of Africa. According to the Credit Suisse Global Wealth report, Australia is the richest place on earth.

Politicians in Canberra are among the wealthiest citizens. Their self-endowment is legendary. Last year, the then minister for indigenous affairs, Jenny Macklin, refurbished her office at a cost to the taxpayer of $331,144.

Macklin recently claimed that, in government, she had made a “huge difference”. This is true. During her tenure, the number of Aboriginal people living in slums increased by almost a third, and more than half the money spent on indigenous housing was pocketed by white contractors and a bureaucracy for which she was largely responsible. A typical, dilapidated house in an outback indigenous community must accommodate as many as 25 people. Families, the elderly and the disabled wait years for sanitation that works.

In 2009, Professor James Anaya, the respected UN Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people, described as racist a “state of emergency” that stripped indigenous communities of their tenuous rights and services on the pretext that pedophile gangs were present in “unthinkable” numbers – a claim dismissed as false by police and the Australian Crime Commission.

The then opposition spokesman on indigenous affairs, Tony Abbott, told Anaya to “get a life” and not “just listen to the old victim brigade.”  Abbott is now the prime minister of Australia.

I drove into the red heart of central Australia and asked Dr. Janelle Trees about the “old victim brigade”. A GP whose indigenous patients live within a few miles of $1,000-a-night resorts serving Uluru (Ayers Rock), she said, “There is asbestos in Aboriginal homes, and when somebody gets a fibre of asbestos in their lungs and develops mesothelioma, [the government] doesn’t care. When the kids have chronic infections and end up adding to these incredible statistics of indigenous people dying of renal disease, and vulnerable to world record rates of rheumatic heart disease, nothing is done. I ask myself: why not? Malnutrition is common. I wanted to give a patient an anti-inflammatory for an infection that would have been preventable if living conditions were better, but I couldn’t treat her because she didn’t have enough food to eat and couldn’t ingest the tablets. I feel sometimes as if I’m dealing with similar conditions as the English working class at the beginning of the industrial revolution.”

In Canberra, in ministerial offices displaying yet more first-nation art, I was told repeatedly how “proud” politicians were of what “we have done for indigenous Australians”. When I asked Warren Snowdon — the minister for indigenous health in the Labor government recently replaced by Abbott’s conservative coalition — why after almost a quarter of a century representing the poorest, sickest Australians, he had not come up with a solution, he said, “What a stupid question. What a puerile question.”

At the end of Anzac Parade in Canberra rises the Australian National War Memorial, which historian Henry Reynolds calls “the sacred centre of white nationalism”. I was refused permission to film in this great public place. I had made the mistake of expressing an interest in the frontier wars in which black Australians fought the British invasion without guns but with ingenuity and courage – the epitome of the “Anzac tradition”.  Yet, in a country littered with cenotaphs not one officially commemorates those who fell resisting “one of the greatest appropriations of land in world history”, wrote Reynolds in his landmark book Forgotten War.  More first Australians were killed than Native Americans on the American frontier and Maoris in New Zealand. The state of Queensland was a slaughterhouse. An entire people became prisoners of war in their own country, with settlers calling for their extinction. The cattle industry prospered using indigenous men virtually as slave labour. The mining industry today makes profits of a billion dollars a week on indigenous land.

Suppressing these truths, while venerating Australia’s servile role in the colonial wars of Britain and the US, has almost cult status in Canberra today. Reynolds and the few who question it have been smeared with abuse. Australia’s unique first people are its Intermenschen. As you enter the National War Memorial, indigenous faces are depicted as stone gargoyles alongside kangaroos, reptiles, birds and other “native wildlife”.

When I began filming this secret Australia 30 years ago, a global campaign was under way to end apartheid in South Africa. Having reported from South Africa, I was struck by the similarity of white supremacy and the compliance and defensiveness of liberals.  Yet no international opprobrium, no boycotts, disturbed the surface of “lucky” Australia.  Watch security guards expel Aboriginal people from shopping malls in Alice Springs; drive the short distance from the suburban barbies of Cromwell Terrace to Whitegate camp, where the tin shacks have no reliable power and water. This is apartheid, or what Reynolds calls, “the whispering in our hearts”.

John Pilger’s film, Utopia, about Australia, is released in cinemas on 15 November and broadcast on ITV in December. It is released in Australia in January.

http://www.johnpilger.com

November 6, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Appeasement dooms Palestinians to everlasting misery

By Stuart Littlewood | Intifada – Palestine | November 6, 2013

Later this month Palestinians will be celebrating an important anniversary, namely the decision by the UN General Assembly a year ago to recognise Palestine as a non-member observer state.

But not with much joy, I suspect.

Its upgraded status enables Palestine to now take part in UN debates and join bodies like the International Criminal Court (ICC). Predictably, Israel flew into a rage at the prospect and said the move pushed the peace process “backwards”, while the US said it was “unfortunate”.

So what has the Palestinian leadership done with this precious gift of empowerment from the international community?

Nothing.

In March this year the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, concluding four years of investigations, called for the ICC to investigate “crimes” committed by Israel in the occupied territories. The Tribunal said it would “support all initiatives from civil society and international organisations aimed at bringing Israel in front of the International Criminal Court”. Since Palestine was awarded observer status at the UN the previous November, it could file complaints on its own behalf against Israel with the Court. The tribunal also called on the ICC to recognise Palestinian jurisdiction and for an extraordinary session of the United Nations Special Committee against Apartheid, set up for South Africa, to examine the Israeli case.

Also in March the United Nations Human Rights Council said Israeli settlements in the West Bank were  a “creeping form of annexation” and the international community should take steps to halt business ties with those communities.  Their report claimed that Israel could be culpable for these acts before the International Criminal Court. The mission asked Israel to withdraw its settlers from the West Bank and East Jerusalem and urged the international community to comply with their obligation under international law to act.

In April senior Palestinian officials were saying that if Israel began construction in the area designated “E-1″ , a piece of land in the West Bank adjacent to Jerusalem seized by Israel in 1967, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would join the ICC and seek indictments on war crimes charges. It is believed that Israel’s administration had just given provisional permission to build some 3,300 Jewish homes on E-1.

Palestinians say that Israeli construction there would make an independent Palestinian state virtually impossible because it would cut off East Jerusalem (which is Palestinian) from the rest of the West Bank.

But why is Abbas waiting for the bulldozers to go into E-1 when there’s a long list of other examples of criminal settlement building and atrocities that Israel ought to be charged with?

In June Dr. Saeb Erekat, Palestine’s chief negotiator, was criticising the policies being pushed by Israeli PM Netanyahu “including aggressive settlement activity, home demolitions, evictions and ID revocations. This is part of Israel’s plan to destroy any possibility for a Palestinian State, by annexing and changing the status quo of Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley and other vast areas of the Occupied State of Palestine”.

The Israeli government, with its destructive policies, was determined to make US Secretary Kerry’s efforts fail, he said. Israel’s actions made it clear they were declaring the end of the two-state solution. The international community should be pushing Israel to implement previous agreements and adhere to international law instead of calling for a resumption of negotiations.  “There is a new urgency to face reality and finally hold Israel accountable for destroying the prospects of justice and peace.”

Israel was turning up its aggression against the Palestinian people while we were trying to reach a negotiated solution, grumbled Erekat. “After the announcement to intensify negotiations made by US Secretary John Kerry, Israel destroyed the village of Khirbet Makhoul for the fourth time and approved further settlement expansion aimed at sealing Occupied East Jerusalem from Ramallah.”

Palestinian leadership shows no sign of starting the justice ball rolling

“Our position is clear and in line with international law: all Israeli settlements in Palestine are illegal…  and undermine the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution. If Israel is serious about peace, they must cease all settlement activities.” Erekat again demanded action by the rest of the world “to make Israel pay the price for its institutionalized defiance of international law and UN resolutions”.

But there was still no sign of his own people – the Palestinian Authority and the PLO – taking action on their own account, or at least starting the ball rolling, even though the international community had given them the wherewithall to do so.

Now I hear that Israel is drilling into 3.5 billion barrels of oil reserves straddling the armistice  ‘green line’, most of it lying under the West Bank. According to official agreements, says Al-Jazeera, “Israel is obligated to coordinate any exploration for natural resources in shared territory with the Palestinian Authority, and reach agreements on how to divide the benefits.”

Ashraf Khatib, an official at the Palestinian Authority’s negotiations support unit, described the oil field as part of Israel’s “general theft of Palestinian national resources…  the occupation is not just about settlements and land confiscation. Israel is also massively profiting from exploiting our resources. There’s lots of money in it for Israel, which is why the occupation has become so prolonged.”

And, of course, the world knows how the Palestinians are prevented from benefiting from their offshore gas field and how, if Israel has its way, they’ll never get a sniff of their own gas either.

‘Life in Palestine is subject to the rule of the jungle’

Since the beginning of the Oslo process over 20 years ago, the rights of the Palestinian people have been sacrificed on the altar of so-called political progress, the glittering prize being ‘peace and security’. But that was never really on the cards. All we’ve seen is a continuous slide downhill for the Palestinians while the Israelis’ colonisation and expansion programme goes from strength to strength. “In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the expansion of settlements continues relentlessly, while the illegal Annexation Wall creates a situation that is completely at odds with both international law and the stated goals of the peace process,” says Shawan Jabarin in an excellent article Time for the ICC to act on Palestine.

“Life in Palestine is subject to the rule of the jungle: generals and politicians know that they can violate the law with impunity, fuelling a continuous cycle of violations and suffering. The result has been an increase in war crimes committed against innocent civilians. Throughout Palestine we are struggling for the right to live, and the right to live in dignity.”

Talking of the right to live in dignity, only today I was reading how some of the Palestinian villages are used by Israel for military training exercises in which soldiers enjoy virtual impunity with regard to their cruel behavior in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, the pretext being that the Israeli military is the sovereign authority over the whole territory. “This edict contradicts international law and numerous United Nations resolutions that question the Israeli claim to sovereignty over all Palestinian land,” reports IMEMC .

The Israeli military frequently invades Palestinian towns and villages, with soldiers running through streets and alleys with loaded automatic weapons, ransacking homes and terrorizing residents, for the purposes of ‘training’. Residents and the human rights groups representing them have provided numerous examples of the soldiers tearing through homes and yards, breaking into houses, running up and down stairs and taking over rooftops of family homes as part of these exercises.

It’s bad enough that villages experience actual Israeli military invasions on a regular basis. Now, since the military makes no attempt to differentiate between an invasion and a ‘training exercise’, the villagers are just as terrorized as they are during real raids.

Wasting that all-important empowerment on a dumb promise

International justice remains out of reach for millions of civilians because the corrupt US, UK and EU political establishments conspire to ‘persuade’ Palestine not to join the ICC or press war crimes charges and other complaints against racist Israel. The Office of the Prosecutor at the ICC, meanwhile, is waiting for Palestine to ratify the Statute of the International Criminal Court and become a full member if it wishes to commence proceedings.

To pretend there is something wrong with pursuing a brutal oppressor for war crimes through the proper channels – that is, the ICC – while talking peace, is absurd. No peace is sustainable unless it’s underpinned by international law and justice.

So a week ago I sent a ‘press enquiry’ to the Palestinian Embassy in London, addressed to Ambassador Hassassian. It said:

“What is the PA/PLO doing, please, to regularise its position regarding the ICC statute and satisfy any remaining requirements for exercising its membership rights and bringing charges against Israel for its crimes?

“What still remains to be done and why the continuing delay after the international community cleared the way and unpgraded Palestine’s status?”

No reply, no acknowledgement, despite follow-up phone messages. Silence speaks volumes and is par for the course when dealing with Palestinian officials.

However, I’ve heard it said that Abbas promised Kerry not to seek justice through the ICC during the nine months or more the going-nowhere peace talks will be… well, going nowhere. That takes us by my reckoning to May next year, or beyond. And he gave the undertaking without wringing from the Israelis a corresponding promise to halt settlement planning, construction and enlargement.

Welcome to the Palestinian School of Appeasement.

November 6, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Israel demolishes church property in Jerusalem, future mass demolitions threatened

MEMO | November 6, 2013

Israeli forces Monday demolished a property in occupied East Jerusalem owned by the Roman Catholic Church, displacing 14 Palestinians. At a press conference held by the ruins of the home, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Fuad Tawwal condemned the demolition in the presence of senior church officials, foreign diplomats and journalists, saying “there is no justification for the demolition” and accusing the Jerusalem “municipality and the Israeli government” of “increase[ing] hatred” through its policies.

Tawwal claimed that it was the first time Israel had demolished property belonging to the church, and promised “legal action in appropriate courts” in response.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that hundreds of Palestinian families in East Jerusalem have recently received demolition orders, notices which give residents 30 days to appeal.

Palestinian-owned properties in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem are routinely demolished by the Jerusalem municipality on the grounds of lacking the right permit – permits that are notoriously difficult to get. For example, just 13 per cent of the Jerusalem housing units granted building permits in the period 2005-’09 were in Palestinian neighbourhoods.

November 6, 2013 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Americans against backing Syria militants: poll

Press TV – November 6, 2013

The results of a new poll show that most Americans are opposed to supporting foreign-backed Takfiri militants fighting the Syrian Government.

The poll was conducted by HuffPost/YouGov between October 7 and 10 and its results were published on October 29. The aim of the study was to discover the American respondents’ view on providing militants with arms.

The findings of the poll revealed that 62 percent of the American respondents were against backing militants by supplying arms to them. This is while only 13 percent believed the militants should be provided with weapons.

The remaining 25 percent of the respondents had answered, “I don’t know.”

The results also indicated that around 66.6 percent of the Americans were against the US policies toward the Middle Eastern country.

Media reports indicate that the US trains the foreign-sponsored militants in the crisis-hit country, in addition to coordinating arms shipments to them.

Syria has been gripped by deadly unrest since 2011 in which more than 100,000 people have been killed. According to reports, the Western powers and their regional allies — especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey — are supporting the militants operating inside Syria.

November 6, 2013 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

Fighting against peace: Why US doesn’t want an end to wars

By Neil Clark | RT | November 6, 2013

The only surprising thing about the news that the US is sabotaging peace moves in Afghanistan and Pakistan is that anyone should find the news surprising.

As reported on RT, Pakistan has accused the US of sabotaging peace talks between the authorities in Islamabad and the Taliban following last Friday’s drone assassination of the Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud.

“The murder of Hakimullah is the murder of all efforts at peace,” Pakistani Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisa said. “Brick by brick, in the last seven weeks, we tried to evolve a process by which we could bring peace to Pakistan and what have you [the US] done?”

The killing of Hakimullah Mehsud comes less than a month after the US effectively wrecked the Afghan government’s efforts to engage with the Taliban by capturing Latif Mehsud, Hakimullah’s lieutenant. Latif Mehsud was the man that the Afghan government hoped would be a go-between for peace talks with the Taliban. Afghan President Hamid Karzai was reported to have been furious about the US operation. Karzai has also said that the drone strike against Hakimullah Mehsud “took place at an unsuitable time.”

The fact is that on several important occasions in the last 30 years or so, the US has wrecked peace efforts and used its power to provoke or prolong conflicts which could have been avoided or solved without further bloodshed.

1. Iraq 1990-1991

From August 1990 to January 1991, there were plenty of chances to achieve a diplomatic solution in relation to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and which would have resulted in an Iraqi withdrawal, but Washington was determined to go to war. When the war started, they rejected diplomatic moves, such as the plan put forward by the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, to end the conflict before ground troops were deployed in Kuwait.

Saddam Hussein’s forces could have been removed from Kuwait without a war in which many thousands were killed, but Washington didn’t want it.

2. Kosovo

That was at the start of the ’90s. Now let‘s fast forward to the end of that decade. In order to complete the destruction of Federal Yugoslavia, Washington aggressively championed the cause of a hardcore terrorist group, the Kosovo Liberation Army, in the late 1990s. The US marginalized Kosovar leaders who wanted to pursue a peaceful path towards independence, such as the politician Ibrahim Rugova, who urged passive resistance. Instead they pushed for a violent solution to the problem of Kosovo’s status: their strategy being to provoke a retaliation from the government in Belgrade, which would then provide the pretext for the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia.

The Rambouillet Conference of March 1999 was ostensibly about trying to broker a peace deal between the Kosovar Albanian delegates and the Yugoslav authorities. But the terms were deliberately made so onerous – Appendix B allowed NATO forces freedom of movement throughout the whole of Yugoslavia – so as to guarantee its rejection by Belgrade.

“I think certain people were spoiling for a fight in NATO at that time,” revealed Lord Gilbert, a UK minister of state for defense procurement, in 2000. “If you ask my personal view, I think the terms put to Milosevic at Rambouillet were absolutely intolerable. How could he possibly accept them? It was quite deliberate.”

Even Henry Kissinger, the former US secretary of state and a man who can hardly be labeled a ‘peacenik‘, admitted: “The Rambouillet text, which called on Serbia to admit NATO troops throughout Yugoslavia, was a provocation, an excuse to start bombing.”

Again, Washington had sabotaged a peaceful solution to a dispute and war ensued, with all its horrors.

3. Iraq 2002-2003

In 2002/3 we had the contrived WMD ’crisis’ with Iraq.

If Washington had genuinely been concerned about the possibility of Iraq being in possession of WMDs, they would simply have waited for Hans Blix and his team of UN weapons inspectors to finish their job. However, as we all know, the WMDs issue was merely a pretext for war, with the US knowing full well that the country was disarmed. The Iraqis were desperate to avert an attack on their country, but diplomatic offers from Baghdad in the lead-up to the illegal invasion were dismissed.

The result of the US opting for war and not peace in Iraq has been the deaths of at least 500,000 people since 2003.

4. Libya

In 2011, a UN resolution ostensibly about protecting civilians was used by the US and its NATO allies as a pretext for forcibly removing from power the government of Libya. During this ‘humanitarian’ intervention, which led to a sharp spike in the death toll, Washington and its allies frequently rejected calls for a ceasefire and a diplomatic solution. Today, Libya is – like Iraq – a wrecked country. But it all could have been very different, if Washington, instead of opting for war, had worked to bring warring factions to the negotiating table.

5. Syria

In Syria too, the US has set out since 2011 to prevent a peaceful solution to the country’s internal divisions. While an outright NATO attack on Syria has, at least for the time being, been avoided, it’s been public opinion in Western countries and adroit Russian diplomacy which has prevented World War III from breaking out in the Middle East this year, rather than America’s leaders suddenly turning over a new leaf.

If the US genuinely wanted an end to the terrible bloodshed in Syria they’d be encouraging the so-called ‘rebels’ to halt their campaign of violence and sign up to the political process and contest elections.

The Baathists have made significant reforms in Syria in the past two years, not least ending the party’s near five-decade long political monopoly, but Washington hasn’t been interested in peaceful democratic change, only in the violent overthrow of President Assad and his replacement by someone who will do its bidding. The result of this policy has been catastrophic for the people of Syria who, like the people of Iraq and Libya, watch as their country is destroyed before their very eyes.

While promoting itself as the great ‘peacemaker’, it’s the sober truth that no country has done more to stoke up conflicts and sabotage peaceful solutions to them in recent years than the US, with the killing of Hakimullah Mehsud being only the latest example.

Why does the US act in this destructive way? It’s important to understand that the US government doesn’t act in the interests of the ordinary, decent Americans, who are sick and tired of war and military ‘interventions’, but in the interests of Wall Street and what President Eisenhower famously referred to as ‘the military-industrial complex’.

The very last thing that Wall Street and the military-industrial complex want is peace. They thrive on wars and conflicts. Wars and conflicts mean profits. Nice, big, juicy profits. As Charlie Chaplin‘s anti-hero Monsieur Verdoux put it, “Wars, conflicts – it’s all business.”

Last month a report by the Public Accountability Initiative revealed that many of the leading ‘commentators’ who went on US TV stations to call for military strikes against Syria had undisclosed ties to military contractors. The report “identifies 22 commentators who weighed in during the Syria debate in large media outlets, and who have current industry ties that may pose conflicts of interest. The commentators are linked to large defense and intelligence contractors like Raytheon, smaller defense and intelligence contractors like TASC, defense-focused investment firms like SCP Partners, and commercial diplomacy firms like the Cohen Group.”

Among the ‘commentators’ supporting strikes on Syria was Madeline Albright, the US secretary of state at the time of the phony ‘peace’ conference at Rambouillet in 1999.

Bombing Yugoslavia, bombing Syria. With the violent destruction of Iraq and Libya along the way, to say nothing of the turmoil US policies have brought to Afghanistan and Pakistan. John Lennon implored us to ‘give peace a chance’, but until the US radically changes its political system and power is returned to ordinary people and away from those with a vested interest in endless war, its stoking up of conflicts and sabotaging of peace initiatives will only continue.

November 6, 2013 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment