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No austerity for military budget in 2014

Press TV – December 28, 2013

In an era of bipartisan agreement on austerity cuts to vital services and workers’ benefits, US military-industrial-complex spending will continue into the new year untouched.

President Barack Obama signed into law on Thursday the National Defense Authorization Act for the fiscal year 2014 that allots $526.8 billion for the Pentagon’s budget and $80 billion for the war in Afghanistan—totaling nearly $607 billion in defense-related spending.

This is nearly $30 billion more than was agreed to in the bipartisan federal budget deal that was also signed by Obama on Thursday.

“The passage of a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that calls for $30 billion more for the Pentagon and allied agencies than is contained in the recent budget deal passed by both houses of Congress is just the latest indication that defense hawks continue to live in their own world, untroubled by fiscal constraints,” said William Hartung, director of the Arms & Security Project at the Center for International Policy.

The bill does include an ease of restrictions on transferring Guantanamo Bay US military prison inmates to the custody of other countries, while banning transfers to the United States, in what human rights advocates are calling a limited victory.

“We hope that President Obama will make swift use of the new NDAA provisions to actually act on his removal of the ban,” reads an official statement from the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has battled unlawful detentions at Guantánamo for the past 11 years.

“Despite President Obama’s announcement in May that he would lift his self-imposed ban on transfers to Yemen, seven months later not a single Yemeni has been released,” the statement warns.

The bill also introduces limited protections for survivors of sexual assault within the US military, yet keeps power over legal cases within the chain of command—which survivors and their advocates say is inadequate in a system where higher ranking service members have near impunity for sexual assaults perpetrated down the chain of command.

Critics slammed the NDAA as a military handout at a time of great human need.

“The bill is a massive spending program on the war economy with no justification in a time of austerity and limited security threats,” writes D.S. Wright for FiredogLake.

“Washington’s spending priorities are upside down: continuing to fund the Afghan war and the taxpayer ripoff F-35 warplane while cutting funding for human needs,” said Robert Naiman, policy director for Just Foreign Policy, in an interview with Common Dreams.


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December 28, 2013 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | 1 Comment

Lines of the Game: Price to Pay for the Shatah Assassination

By Sami Kleib | Al-Akhbar | December 28, 2013

The assassination of former Lebanese Finance Minister Mohammed Shatah will open a dangerous chapter in Lebanon, a bit similar to the one that followed the assassination of late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Shatah was no ordinary man in the region, and the attack occurred at a crucial moment in Lebanon and its neighborhood’s history. Here, escalated tensions and sedition will never let such a crime pass by without major repercussions. The killer knew it!

Hariri’s assassination in 2005 was a turning point for Hezbollah’s image in the Arab and Islamic world, and contributed to the Syrian army’s withdrawal from Lebanon. These events weren’t just a result of local demands. Former US President George W. Bush and his French counterpart Jacques Chirac were also involved.

The Sunni-Shia strife that ripped Iraq apart after the American-British invasion was further consolidated when Hezbollah, with its large Shia base, was accused of murdering the new symbol of modern Sunnism in the region: Rafik Hariri. Back then, political accusation preceded all real investigations on the ground.

Now, what to expect after Shatah’s assassination?

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri was brief, while Future bloc leader Fouad Siniora elaborated, hinting that the Syrian regime planned the crime, and its Lebanese allies, mainly Hezbollah, carried it out. In the March 14 statement, Siniora echoed the calls that followed Hariri’s murder, urging to take Shatah’s assassination to the international level, something we expect to hear quite often in the coming weeks amid international pressure on Hezbollah and Lebanon.

Head of the National Struggle Bloc MP Walid Jumblatt was alone in his call for reason and moderation. He knows quite well that some are seeking to exploit the assassination to achieve bigger political gains. He also understands that this assassination is apt to take the country from sectarian sedition to the battlefield.

The Shatah assassination occurred while Lebanon was at a crossroads. The future government and the current presidency are now up for grabs amid political bickering between Hezbollah and March 14. But behind both parties is a larger and deeper conflict taking place in Syria.

The assassination ought to increase pressure on the formation of a Lebanese government and a formula for a presidential agreement. Previously hesitant, the international community is now expected to support these solutions as the death of Shatah and the other martyrs raised the alarm about a bloody year awaiting Lebanon.

Shatah’s murder also paves the way for further assassinations, clashes, and blasts. Obviously there is a plan to transform Lebanon into an arena for a regional and international conflict that has not been settled in Syria.

What if a Hezbollah leader or ally is killed in the coming days? Will we hear that it is a retaliation for the Shatah murder? Who will break this vicious cycle?

Israel may also find an opportunity to conduct a military operation. It is reported that Hezbollah’s incursion in Syria and the widening rift with its former Sunni base offers Israel the right opportunity to strike. In Lebanon, Israel may redeem what it couldn’t achieve in Iran. At least that’s what the Israelis believe.

The assassination put the Syrian regime and Hezbollah in a raging storm of accusations at a critical time. The world is heading toward the Geneva II conference and an historic understanding with Iran. The international tribunal investigating Hariri’s murder will soon begin its sessions.

Martyr Mohammed Shatah was no ordinary man. Neither was martyr Wissam al-Hassan. Shatah, a man with hefty economic and political baggage, was, just like security man Hassan, standing on a pivotal local, regional, and international intersection. With such assassinations, it is easy to point figures, but it is hard to support accusations with evidence as political exploitation comes in smoothly.

A dark period of major transformation is awaiting Lebanon, but unfortunately the fierce battle ahead won’t yield any winners. What if a fait accompli government was imposed on Hezbollah and its allies? How will Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah put his words “don’t mess with us” into action? Those messing with him this time will have an international cover far larger than the one they had before the assassination.

December 28, 2013 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Oligarchs, Demagogues, and Mass Revolts against Democracy

By James Petras | The People’s Voice | December 28, 2013

In ancient Rome, especially during the late Republic, oligarchs resorted to mob violence to block, intimidate, assassinate or drive from power the dominant faction in the Senate. While neither the ruling or opposing factions represented the interests of the plebeians, wage workers, small farmers or slaves, the use of the ‘mob’ against the elected Senate, the principle of representative government and the republican form of government laid the groundwork for the rise of authoritarian “Caesars” (military rulers) and the transformation of the Roman republic into an imperial state.

Demagogues, in the pay of aspiring emperors, aroused the passions of a motley array of disaffected slum dwellers, loafers and petty thieves (ladrones) with promises, pay-offs and positions in a New Order. Professional mob organizers cultivated their ties with the oligarchs ‘above’ and with professional demonstrators ‘below’. They voiced ‘popular grievances’ and articulated demands questioning the legitimacy of the incumbent rulers, while laying the groundwork for the rule by the few. Usually, when the pay-master oligarchs came to power on a wave of demagogue-led mob violence, they quickly suppressed the demonstrations, paid off the demagogues with patronage jobs in the new regime or resorted to a discrete assassination for ‘street leaders’ unwilling to recognize the new order’. The new rulers purged the old Senators into exile, expulsion and dispossession, rigged new elections and proclaimed themselves ‘saviors of the republic’. They proceeded to drive peasants from their land, renounce social obligations and stop food subsidies for poor urban families and funds for public works.

The use of mob violence and “mass revolts” to serve the interests of oligarchical and imperial powers against democratically-elected governments has been a common strategy in recent times.

Throughout the ages, the choreographed “mass revolt” played many roles: (1) it served to destabilize an electoral regime; (2) it provided a platform for its oligarch funders to depose an incumbent regime; (3) it disguised the fact that the oligarchic opposition had lost democratic elections; (4) it provided a political minority with a ‘fig-leaf of legitimacy’ when it was otherwise incapable of acting within a constitutional framework and (5) it allowed for the illegitimate seizure of power in the name of a pseudo ‘majority’, namely the “crowds in the central plaza”.

Some leftist commentators have argued two contradictory positions: On the one hand, some simply reduce the oligarchy’s power grab to an ‘inter-elite struggle’ which has nothing to do with the ‘interests of the working class’, while others maintain the ‘masses’ in the street are protesting against an “elitist regime”. A few even argue that with popular, democratic demands, these revolts are progressive, should be supported as “terrain for class struggle”. In other words, the ‘left’ should join the uprising and contest the oligarchs for leadership within the stage-managed revolts!

What progressives are unwilling to recognize is that the oligarchs orchestrating the mass revolt are authoritarians who completely reject democratic procedures and electoral processes. Their aim is to establish a ‘junta’, which will eliminate all democratic political and social institutions and freedoms and impose harsher, more repressive and regressive policies and institutions than those they replace. Some leftists support the ‘masses in revolt’ simply because of their ‘militancy’, their numbers and street courage, without examining the underlying leaders, their interests and links to the elite beneficiaries of a ‘regime change’.

All the color-coded “mass revolts” in Eastern Europe and the ex-USSR featured popular leaders who exhorted the masses in the name of ‘independence and democracy’ but were pro-NATO, pro-(Western) imperialists and linked to neo-liberal elites. Upon the fall of communism, the new oligarchs privatized and sold off the most lucrative sectors of the economy throwing millions out of work, dismantled the welfare state and handed over their military bases to NATO for the stationing of foreign troops and the placement of missiles aimed at Russia.

The entire ‘anti-Stalinist’ left in the US and Western Europe, with a few notable exceptions, celebrated these oligarch-controlled revolts in Eastern Europe and some even participated as minor accomplices in the post-revolt neo-liberal regimes. One clear reason for the demise of “Western Marxism” arose from its inability to distinguish a genuine popular democratic revolt from a mass uprising funded and stage-managed by rival oligarchs!

One of the clearest recent examples of a manipulated ‘people’s power’ revolution in the streets to replace an elected representative of one sector of the elite with an even more brutal, authoritarian ‘president’ occurred in early 2001 in the Philippines. The more popular and independent (but notoriously corrupt) President Joseph Estrada, who had challenged sectors of the Philippine elite and current US foreign policy (infuriating Washington by embracing Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez), was replaced through street demonstrations of middle-class matrons with soldiers in civvies by Gloria Makapagal-Arroyo. Mrs. Makapagal-Arroyo, who had close links to the US and the Philippine military, unleashed a horrific wave of brutality dubbed the ‘death-squad democracy’. The overthrow of Estrada was actively supported by the left, including sectors of the revolutionary left, who quickly found themselves the target of an unprecedented campaign of assassinations, disappearances, torture and imprisonment by their newly empowered ‘Madame President’.

Past and Present Mass Revolts Against Democracy: Guatemala, Iran, and Chile

The use of mobs and mass uprisings by oligarchs and empire builders has a long and notorious history. Three of the bloodiest cases, which scarred their societies for decades, took place in Guatemala in 1954, Iran in 1953, and Chile in 1973.

Democratically-elected Jacobo Árbenz was the first Guatemalan President to initiate agrarian reform and legalize trade unions, especially among landless farm workers. Árbenz’s reforms included the expropriation of unused, fallow land owned by the United Fruit Company, a giant US agro-business conglomerate. The CIA used its ties to local oligarchs and right-wing generals and colonels to instigate and finance mass-protests against a phony ‘communist-takeover’ of Guatemala under President Arbenz. The military used the manipulated mob violence and the ‘threat’ of Guatemala becoming a “Soviet satellite”, to stage a bloody coup. The coup leaders received air support from the CIA and slaughtered thousands of Arbenz supporters and turned the countryside into ‘killing fields’. For the next 50 years political parties, trade unions and peasant organizations were banned, an estimated 200,000 Guatemalans were murdered and millions were displaced.

In 1952 Mohammed Mossadegh was elected president of Iran on a moderate nationalist platform, after the overthrow of the brutal monarch. Mossadegh announced the nationalization of the petroleum industry. The CIA, with the collaboration of the local oligarchs, monarchists and demagogues organized ‘anti-communist’ street mobs to stage violent demonstrations providing the pretext for a monarchist- military coup. The CIA-control Iranian generals brought Shah Reza Pahlavi back from Switzerland and for the next 26 years Iran was a monarchist-military dictatorship, whose population was terrorized by the Savak, the murderous secret police.

The US oil companies received the richest oil concessions; the Shah joined Israel and the US in an unholy alliance against progressive nationalist dissidents and worked hand-in-hand to undermine independent Arab states. Tens of thousands of Iranians were killed, tortured and driven into exile. In 1979, a mass popular uprising led by Islamic movements, nationalist and socialist parties and trade unions drove out the Shah-Savak dictatorship. The Islamists installed a radical nationalist clerical regime, which retains power to this day despite decades of a US-CIA-funded destabilization campaign which has funded both terrorist groups and dissident liberal movements.

Chile is the best-known case of CIA-financed mob violence leading to a military coup. In 1970, the democratic socialist Dr. Salvador Allende was elected president of Chile. Despite CIA efforts to buy votes to block Congressional approval of the electoral results and its manipulation of violent demonstrations and an assassination campaign to precipitate a military coup, Allende took office.

During Allende’s tenure as president the CIA financed a variety of “direct actions” –from paying the corrupt leaders of a copper workers union to stage strikes and the truck owners associations to refuse to transport goods to the cities, to manipulating right-wing terrorist groups like the Patria y Libertad (Fatherland and Liberty) in their assassination campaigns. The CIA’s destabilization program was specifically designed to provoke economic instability through artificial shortages and rationing, in order to incite middle class discontent. This was made notorious by the street demonstrations of pot-banging housewives. The CIA sought to incite a military coup through economic chaos. Thousands of truck owners were paid not to drive their trucks leading to shortages in the cities, while right-wing terrorists blew up power stations plunging neighborhoods into darkness and shop owners who refused to join the ‘strike’ against Allende were vandalized. On September 11, 1973, to the chants of ‘Jakarta’ (in celebration of a 1964 CIA coup in Indonesia), a junta of US-backed Chilean generals grabbed power from an elected government. Tens of thousands of activists and government supporters were arrested, tortured, forced into exile or killed. The dictatorship denationalized and privatized its mining, banking and manufacturing sectors, following the free market dictates of Milton Friedman-trained economists (the so-call “Chicago Boys”). The dictatorship overturned 40 years of welfare, labor and land-reform legislation which had made Chile the most socially advanced country in Latin America. With the generals in power, Chile became the ‘neo-liberal model’ for Latin America. Mob violence and the so-called “middle class revolt”, led to the consolidation of oligarchic and imperial rule and a 17-year reign of terror under General Augusto Pinochet dictatorship. The whole society was brutalized and with the return of electoral politics, even former ‘leftist’ parties retained the dictatorship’s neo-liberal economic policies, its authoritarian constitution and the military high command. The ‘revolt of the middle class’ in Chile resulted in the greatest concentration of wealth in the hands of the oligarchs in Latin America to this day!

The Contemporary Use and Abuse of “Mass Revolts”: Egypt, Ukraine, Venezuela, Thailand, and Argentina

In recent years “mass revolt” has become the instrument of choice when oligarchs, generals and other empire builders seek ‘regime change’. By enlisting an assortment of nationalist demagogues and imperial-funded NGO ‘leaders’, they set the conditions for the overthrow of democratically elected governments and stage-manage the installment of their own “free market” regimes with dubious “democratic” credentials.

Not all the elected regimes under siege are progressive. Many ‘democracies’, like the Ukraine, are ruled by one set of oligarchs. In the Ukraine, the elite supporting President Viktor Yanukovich, decided that entering into a deep client-state relationship with the European Union was not in their interests, and sought to diversify their international trade partners while maintaining lucrative ties with Russia. Their opponents, who are currently behind the street demonstrations in Kiev, advocate a client relationship with the EU, stationing of NATO troops, and cutting ties with Russia. In Thailand, the democratically-elected Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, represents a section of the economic elite with ties and support in the rural areas, especially the North-East, as well as deep trade relations with China. The opponents are urban-based, closer to the military-monarchists and favor a straight neo-liberal agenda linked to the US against the rural patronage-populist agenda of Ms. Shinawatra.

Egypt’s democratically-elected Mohamed Morsi government pursued a moderate Islamist policy with some constraints on the military and a loosening of ties with Israel in support of the Palestinians in Gaza. In terms of the IMF, Morsi sought compromise. The Morsi regime was in flux when it was overthrown: not Islamist nor secular, not pro-worker but also not pro-military. Despite all of its different pressure groups and contradictions, the Morsi regime permitted labor strikes, demonstrations, opposition parties, freedom of the press and assembly. All of these democratic freedoms have disappeared after waves of ‘mass street revolts’, choreographed by the military, set the conditions for the generals to take power and establish their brutal dictatorship – jailing and torturing tens of thousands and outlawing all opposition parties.

Mass demonstrations and demagogue-led direct actions also actively target democratically elected progressive governments, like Venezuela and Argentina, in addition to the actions against conservative democracies cited above. Venezuela, under Presidents Hugo Chavez and Vicente Maduro advances an anti-imperialist, pro-socialist program. ‘Mob revolts’ are combined with waves of assassinations, sabotage of public utilities, artificial shortages of essential commodities, vicious media slander and opposition election campaigns funded from the outside. In 2002, Washington teamed up with its collaborator politicians, Miami and Caracas-based oligarchs and local armed gangs, to mount a “protest movement” as the pretext for a planned business-military coup. The generals and members of the elite seized power and deposed and arrested the democratically-elected President Chavez. All avenues of democratic expression and representation were closed and the constitution annulled. In response to the kidnapping of ‘their president’, over a million Venezuelans spontaneously mobilized and marched upon the Presidential palace to demand the restoration of democracy and Hugo Chavez to the presidency. Backed by the large pro-democracy and pro-constitution sectors of the Venezuelan armed forces, the mass protests led to the coup’s defeat and the return of Chavez and democracy. All democratic governments facing manipulated imperial-oligarchic financed mob revolts should study the example of Venezuela’s defeat of the US-oligarch-generals’ coup. The best defense for democracy is found in the organization, mobilization and political education of the electoral majority. It is not enough to participate in free elections; an educated and politicized majority must also know how to defend their democracy in the streets as well as at the ballot box.

The lessons of the 2002 coup-debacle were very slowly absorbed by the Venezuelan oligarchy and their US patrons who continued to destabilize the economy in an attempt to undermine democracy and seize power. Between December 2002 and February 2003, corrupt senior oil executives of the nominally ‘public’ oil company PDVSA (Petróleos de Venezuela) organized a ‘bosses’ lockout stopping production, export and local distribution of oil and refined petroleum products. Corrupt trade union officials, linked to the US National Endowment for Democracy, mobilized oil workers and other employees to support the lock-out, in their attempt to paralyze the economy. The government responded by mobilizing the other half of the oil workers who, together with a significant minority of middle management, engineers and technologists, called on the entire Venezuelan working class to take the oil fields and installations from the ‘bosses’. To counter the acute shortage of gasoline, President Chavez secured supplies from neighboring countries and overseas allies. The lockout was defeated. Several thousand supporters of the executive power grab were fired and replaced by pro-democracy managers and workers.

Having failed to overthrow the democratic government via “mass revolts”, the oligarchs turned toward a plebiscite on Chavez’ rule and later called for a nation-wide electoral boycott, both of which were defeated. These defeats served to strengthen Venezuela’s democratic institutions and decreased the presence of opposition legislators in the Congress. The repeated failures of the elite to grab power led to a new multi-pronged strategy using: (1) US-funded NGO’s to exploit local grievances and mobilize residents around community issues; (2) clandestine thugs to sabotage utilities, especially power, assassinate peasant recipients of land reform titles, as well as prominent officials and activists; (3) mass electoral campaign marches, and (4) economic destabilization via financial speculation, illegal foreign exchange trading, price gouging and hoarding of basic consumer commodities. The purpose of these measures is to incite mass discontent, using their control of the mass media to provoke another ‘mass revolt’ to set the stage for another US-backed ‘power grab’. Violent street protests by middle class students from the elite Central University were organized by oligarch-financed demagogues. ‘Demonstrations’ included sectors of the middle class and urban poor angered by the artificial shortages and power outages. The sources of popular discontent were rapidly and effectively addressed at the top by energetic government measures: business owners engaged in hoarding and price gouging were jailed; prices of essential staples were reduced; hoarded goods were seized from warehouses and distributed to the poor; the import of essential goods was increased and saboteurs were pursued. The Government’s effective intervention resonated with the mass of the working class, the lower-middle class and the rural and urban poor and restored their support. Government supporters took to the streets and lined up at the ballot box to defeat the campaign of destabilization. The government won a resounding electoral mandate allowing it to move decisively against the oligarchs and their backers in Washington.

The Venezuelan experience shows how energetic government counter-measures can restore support and deepen progressive social changes for the majority. This is because forceful progressive government intervention against anti-democratic oligarchs, combined with the organization, political education and mobilization of the majority of voters can decisively defeat these stage-managed mass revolts.

Argentina is an example of a weakened democratic regime trying to straddle the fence between the oligarchs and the workers, between the combined force of the agro-business and mining elites and working and middle class constituencies dependent on social policies. The elected-Kirchner-Fernandez government has faced “mass revolts” in the a series of street demonstrations whipped up by conservative agricultural exporters over taxes; the Buenos Aires upper-middle class angered at ‘crime, disorder and insecurity’, a nationwide strike by police officials over ‘salaries’ who ‘looked the other way’ while gangs of ‘lumpen’ street thugs pillaged and destroyed stores. Taken altogether, these waves of mob action in Argentina appear to be part of a politically-directed destabilization campaign by the authoritarian Right who have instigated or, at least, exploited these events. Apart from calling on the military to restore order and conceding to the ‘salary’ demands of the striking police, the Fernandez government has been unable or unwilling to mobilize the democratic electorate in defense of democracy. The democratic regime remains in power but it is under siege and vulnerable to attack by domestic and imperial opponents.

Conclusion

Mass revolts are two-edged swords: they can be a positive force when they occur against military dictatorships like Pinochet or Mubarak, against authoritarian absolutist monarchies like Saudi Arabia, a colonial-racist state like Israel, and imperial occupations like against the US in Afghanistan. But they have to be directed and controlled by popular local leaders seeking to restore democratic majority rule.

History, from ancient times to the present, teaches us that not all ‘mass revolts’ achieve, or are even motivated by, democratic objectives. Many have served oligarchs seeking to overthrow democratic governments, totalitarian leaders seeking to install fascist and pro-imperial regimes, demagogues and authoritarians seeking to weaken shaky democratic regimes and militarists seeking to start wars for imperial ambitions.

Today, “mass revolts” against democracy have become standard operational procedure for Western European and US rulers who seek to circumvent democratic procedures and install pro-imperial clients. The practice of democracy is denigrated while the mob is extolled in the imperial Western media. This is why armed Islamist terrorists and mercenaries are called “rebels” in Syria and the mobs in the streets of Kiev (Ukraine) attempting to forcibly depose a democratically-elected government are labeled “pro-Western democrats”.

The ideology informing the “mass revolts” varies from “anti-communist” and “anti-authoritarian” in democratic Venezuela, to “pro-democracy” in Libya (even as tribal bands and mercenaries slaughter whole communities), Egypt and the Ukraine.

Imperial strategists have systematized, codified and made operational “mass revolts” in favor of oligarchic rule. International experts, consultants, demagogues and NGO officials have carved out lucrative careers as they travel to ‘hot spots’ and organize ‘mass revolts’ dragging the target countries into deeper ‘colonization’ via European or US-centered ‘integration’. Most local leaders and demagogues accept the double agenda: ‘protest today and submit to new masters tomorrow’. The masses in the street are fooled and then sacrificed. They believe in a ‘New Dawn’ of Western consumerism, higher paid jobs and greater personal freedom … only to be disillusioned when their new rulers fill the jails with opponents and many former protestors, raise prices, cut salaries, privatize state companies, sell off the most lucrative firms to foreigners and double the unemployment rate.

When the oligarchs ‘stage-manage’ mass revolts and takeover the regime, the big losers include the democratic electorate and most of the protestors. Leftists and progressives, in the West or in exile, who had mindlessly supported the ‘mass revolts’ will publish their scholarly essays on ‘the revolution (sic) betrayed” without admitting to their own betrayal of democratic principles.

If and when the Ukraine enters into the European Union, the exuberant street demonstrators will join the millions of jobless workers in Greece, Portugal, and Spain, as well as millions of pensioners brutalized by “austerity programs” imposed by their new rulers, the ‘Troika’ in Brussels. If these former demonstrators take to the streets once more, in disillusionment at their leaders’ “betrayal”, they can enjoy their ‘victory’ under the batons of “NATO and European Union-trained police” while the Western mass media will have moved elsewhere in support of ‘democracy’.

December 28, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Economics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Citizen K in the USA

By William Manson | Dissident Voice | December 27, 2013 

In his novel The Trial, Franz Kafka conjured up the nightmarish, surreal yet strangely familiar world of an ordinary person trapped in a web of bewildering governmental repressions. Inexplicably, the eponymous protagonist “Joseph K” suddenly finds himself under relentless investigation—and is then abruptly arrested. Throughout his ordeal, the charges will remain undisclosed. (“Is it political?” gasps Jeanne Moreau, in Orson Welles’ film version; or, as Orwell’s Winston Smith would say, “is it a thought-crime?”) “Free” from incarceration while he awaits trial, Joseph travels through a labyrinth of impersonal offices, baffling court procedures, and inscrutable explanations–only to find himself, once again, back at the beginning of his quest for answers.

The sadistic travesty of justice perpetrated at Guantanamo immediately comes to mind. But what about conditions here in the “Homeland”? Trapped in endless litigation–or in the clutches of creditors or foreclosers—how many millions of U.S. citizens also feel like Joseph K? At one time or another, highly complicated legal quandaries and arcane bureaucratic tangles plague most of us. Lately, however, we’ve been inclined to worry more about our Internet communications: are they being surreptitiously intercepted and stored permanently (PRISM)? In order to be periodically retrieved, scrutinized and “analyzed”? If so, why?

The NSA Director, appearing on TV’s Sixty Minutes, hastened to reassure all (mere) citizens that–despite its mega-billion-dollar budget and ongoing expansion (the giant Utah data-storage complex)–the NSA is currently only actively focusing on less than “60 U.S. persons.” Was Gen. Keith Alexander telling “the whole truth” (to use a quaint phrase)? Or was he giving us, as did James Clapper (DNI) in his unsworn congressional testimony, the “least untruthful” answers he felt obliged to offer?

Therefore, our average Joseph K today is just a tiny bit worried that most (if not all) of his communications are being permanently stored, and subject at any future time to sophisticated “analysis”—under whatever rationale meddlesome technocrats may come up with. If not by the neighborly “analysts” at the NSA, then what about the other dozen-or-so “intelligence” agencies? What mischief are they up to? Joseph, who finds everyday life complicated enough, also finds himself wondering about all those marketing “research” firms, think-tank contractors, credit bureaus, and so on. How are they “mining” and storing his personal data? He doesn’t know.

But enough of that—Joseph K has enough troubles without succumbing to an obsessive paranoia! He’s even tempted to get rid of the Internet all together: his “service” stinks and he’s always hated computers. But wait! Our Joseph K has just been told—by some faceless bureaucrat—that he must quickly go the website “Healthcare.gov” and register to shop for (mandatory) private health insurance. Again, Joseph finds himself perplexed: frankly, he loathes hospitals and drug companies—and has managed quite well without them. Moreover—or so Joseph insists–if he finds himself suffering from terminal cancer, he may choose to die—rather than subject himself to dubious, degrading (and still-expensive) “procedures.” (And Joseph K is also aware that preventable medical errors are, by some estimates, the “third leading cause of death” in the U.S. today.) Joseph, you see, is one of those old-fashioned curmudgeons, the type that once embraced a radical-populism and hated Big Business and Big Government with equal fervor. He even thinks (can you believe it?) that the entire insurance industry is some kind of racket—and wants no part of it!

And admittedly, our Joseph K is not very “computer-literate” and finds it more than a little exasperating to try to comprehend all the provisions of a jerry-built “Affordable” Care Act. Couldn’t the government, he asks, have mailed (simplified) application forms to each and every citizen (counted in the 2010 U.S. Census)? He’s always found legalistic small-print, provisos and disclaimers more than a little confusing (and annoying). Given such typically over-complicated ordeals, Joseph understandably has become a fanatic for simplification. Why can’t “the government,” he again recently demanded, simply establish “Medicare for All”? After all, he pointed out, “we” spend trillions for “defense”—and from whom, exactly? He doesn’t know (but was under the impression that the U.S.-Soviet nuclear arms race ended some time ago).

Well, to make a long story short: our friend Joseph, feeling trapped between corrupt insurance giants and coercive big government, was so demoralized that he decided to leave all this behind. So much so, it turns out, that he urgently asked his creator Kafka to return him back to the world of fiction–wherein he will at least continue his Sisyphean struggle against coercion with some measure of defiance and tragic dignity.

~

William Manson is the author of The Psychodynamics of Culture (Greenwood Press).

December 28, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Economics, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Beirut murder: Dirty tricks get dirtier

By Finian Cunningham | Press TV | December 28, 2013

The latest deadly attack in Lebanon’s capital Beirut is yet another desperate attempt to destabilize not only that country, but the entire Middle East to precipitate all-out sectarian war.

The murder of senior Lebanese Sunni political figure, Mohamad Shatah, on Friday in a massive bomb blast that hit his motorcade as it drove through downtown Beirut was aimed at implicating the Shia Hezbollah and closely allied Syrian and Iranian governments.

Syria’s government of President Bashar al-Assad, along with Hezbollah and Iran, swiftly condemned the assassination of Shatah, who was formerly Lebanon’s finance minister between 2008 and 2011.

But the condemnations didn’t stop anti-Syria politicians within Lebanon and various Western media outlets from pointing the finger.

“Anti-Assad ex-minister killed in Beirut bomb,” was the headline carried by Reuters and Britain’s Daily Telegraph, among others.

This contrived innuendo betrays who the real perpetrators are.

Mohamad Shatah, a senior political adviser to Lebanese opposition leader Saad Hariri, was indeed a strident critic of Hezbollah and Syria’s Assad, accusing them of fuelling bloodshed in Syria and also sectarian tensions inside Lebanon. His political views were consistent with the narrative of the pro-Zionist Western media, as well as Saudi Arabia.

Shatah could therefore be considered an ally of the West, Saudi Arabia and the Zionist Israeli regime. But that very profile may have been what made him a prime target, not for Hezbollah or Syria, but for his so-called allies.

The day before his killing, Shatah had reiterated criticism of Hezbollah, claiming that the group was using Syria to consolidate its military strength in Lebanon.

Within minutes of Shatah’s murder, the Saudi-backed Lebanese opposition leader Saad Hariri implicated Hezbollah for the attack. “Shatah’s murderers are the same ones who assassinated former premier Rafik Hariri.” This was a reference to the bomb-blast killing of his father, Rafik, also a former prime minister, in 2005.

A United Nations-backed Lebanese tribunal has indicted five members of Hezbollah for that 2005 murder. The trial is set to open in the coming weeks in a Hague court. For the past eight years Hariri’s group have accused Hezbollah as well as Syrian intelligence over that assassination, without the accusations gaining much credibility.

Both Hezbollah and Syria have strenuously denied any involvement, saying that there is no evidence, and that the tribunal is politically driven. Hence, they have refused to cooperate with the forthcoming trial.

That is why Saad Hariri said of the latest killing: “The accused… are the same ones who are running away from international justice.”

Shatah’s assassination this week comes at a sensitive time, which strongly suggests who the real perpetrators might be.

First, the atrocity serves to re-ignite the accusations against Hezbollah, and its regional allies, in the murder of Rafik Hariri just when the case is being re-opened in an international court.

Secondly, there is the forthcoming Geneva II political talks organized to find a peaceful solution to the nearly three-year Syrian crisis. If Hezbollah, and by extension Syria and Iran, can be linked by sensational media claims of involvement in the murder of high-profile Lebanese politicians, then that would have a damaging impact on the Assad government during the Geneva negotiations.

Thirdly, and this is more to the point of who are the likely perpetrators, the murder of Mohamad Shatah comes at a time of mounting sectarian tensions and violence across the region. Lebanon has witnessed a wave of deadly bomb attacks and assassinations in recent months, which have mainly targeted Shia areas of Beirut.

Earlier this month, a senior Hezbollah commander was shot dead. And at the end of last month, a twin suicide bomb attack on the Iranian embassy in Beirut killed 29, including Iran’s cultural attaché, Ebrahim Ansari. Back in August, a bomb outside a Sunni mosque in Sidon reportedly butchered 40 people.

This violence replicates the pattern of sectarian bloodshed unleashed in neighboring Syria and Iraq. There is ample evidence to show that that violence is being systematically fuelled by Saudi Arabia, working in collusion with Israeli and Western intelligence.

Israel in particular has a long track record of sabotaging Lebanon from within, having invaded that country in 1978, 2000 and 2006. There is also evidence that its agents were the real authors of the assassination of Rafik Hariri in 2005.

Lebanon is particularly vulnerable to sectarian strife. The country’s communal wounds are still raw from the 15-year-old civil war between its Sunni, Shia, Christian and Druze communities, which ended in 1990. There have been renewed sectarian clashes between Sunni and Shia/Alawite groups in Sidon, Tripoli and several other towns over the past year. Saudi-backed Sunni clerics have been prominent in agitating sharper tensions in Lebanon.

This pattern of sectarian destabilization within Lebanon and across the Middle East by external forces is consistent with the latest murder of Mohamad Shatah in Beirut. The massive blast is believed to have come from a 50-60 kg bomb wired in a booby-trapped car. Wreckage was scattered 100 meters away and some 40 other cars were damaged, some of them upended. This was a professional hit with a devastating message.

In the grand nefarious scheme of geopolitics it matters little that Shatah was a prominent Sunni figure who was an ardent critic of Hezbollah and Syria. Indeed, from the viewpoint of the agents of subversion and destabilization, Shatah’s political and religious affiliation would have made him a prime target for their purpose of trying to explode sectarian war.

The heinous role played by Saudi, Israeli and Western intelligence in inflicting untold suffering on civilians across the Middle East, whether Shia, Sunni or Christian, means that their capability of using the dirtiest tricks knows no limits. The murder of Mohamad Shatah would be viewed by these dark forces as merely an expendable sacrifice if that means achieving the bigger aim of inciting all-out sectarian war in Lebanon; and engulfing the entire region in internecine flames.

The powers that gain from this atrocity are those that sow division and thrive on conflict in order to shore up their illegitimate hegemony over the region and over the mass of its ordinary, decent people.

December 28, 2013 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas versus Xmas: A Political Reading

By James Petras | December 28, 2013

The transformation of Christmas from a story about a migrant working-class family fleeing state persecution, in the search for a safe haven and receiving support and solidarity to the biggest capitalist commercial bonanza of the year – has far-reaching political consequences.

Taking Christ out of Christmas

The fundamental ‘change’, engineered by the capitalist class in pursuit of profits, was to take the ‘Christ Story’ out of Christmas and to convert the weeks before and after into a consumer orgy. Aided and abetted by “secularist allies”, the capitalist class succeeded in eliminating any reference to the Christmas story, including the nativity scene and carols commemorating it, from public spaces. The significant social message, embedded in the Christmas story, is diluted by well-meaning cultural diversity-promoters, who demand ‘equal time for ‘Hanukah’ (a Jewish narrative celebrating war, conquest and the slaughter of ‘apostate-assimilated-Hellenized’ Jews by traditionalists-fundamentalists — an event not even mentioned in the Hebrew Bible) and Kwanzaa (a holiday invented in the 1960’s by a cultural black nationalist preaching “self-help”). In place of the Christmas story, we have been given anachronistic ‘Nordic tales of tree worship’ and ‘gift giving’ by an obese, bearded sweat-shop owner employing stunted slave workers (‘Hi Ho, Hi Ho! It’s off to work we go; we work all day, we get no pay! Hi Ho, Hi Ho!’). This has become the dominant mythology driving the consumerist – profiteering of the global commercial – capitalist production chain.

Over time, it came to pass that ‘Christmas’ commercial sales became the centerpiece of capital accumulation. New and powerful sectors of capital entered the field. Finance capital, particularly credit card companies charging debtors usurious, interest rates over 20% per year, became central to and the principal beneficiaries of the great transformation of the Christmas story.

The new, modern, secular monetized, relativized Christmas story redefined the entire meaning of the holiday.

First, there was the language ‘excision’; the prefix was altered. Christ-mas became Xmas. The X symbol left out what constituted the original narrative and circumstances surrounding the celebration of the birth of Jesus.

Once the original class origins of the Christmas story were erased and the conflict between the absolutist state and civil society were abolished, the capitalist class inserted its own ‘props’ into the story: the Xmas tree became the site for consumer ‘gifts’; the Xmas ‘stocking’ had to be filled with consumer goods; the Xmas day image required the “happy family” opening up boxes of consumer goods – bought on credit at 20% interest rates.

The driving force behind the phony props and imagery is a command headquarters composed of capitalist manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, market analysts, publicists, consultants, advertisers, investors, factory owners employing a vast army of low paid workers in Asian manufacturing sweatshops and huge corporate retail outlets with minimum wage salespeople. Christmas sales are the major profit maximizing occasion for the entire year: the success or failure of commercial capitalism rides on the profits accrued between November 30 and January 7. The entire capitalist edifice rests on the notion that “Xmas” is about large-scale buying and selling of consumer goods; it is about ensuring that class inequalities and racial divisions are temporarily blurred; that repressive police state intrusions into the privacy of family life are forgotten and that social solidarity is replaced by an orgy of individual consumerism.

‘Xmas’ is a time to celebrate massive profiteering, based on the indebtedness of the ‘masses’. It is a time for downsized workers to buy imported goods on credit from manufacturers who had relocated to low wage regions: Price consciousness replaces class consciousness. Picketing US retailers, who import from Bangladesh sweatshop death traps, where workers ‘earn’ $25 a month, goes against the ‘Xmas spirit’. ‘Buy and feel free’! It’s a time to be jolly!

The new secular, monetized ‘Xmas’ is a consumer-driven commercial event motivated by profits, advertisement and the mindless worship of ‘the market’. Family and neighborly relations are now tied to the cash nexus: Who buys or receives the most expensive gifts experiences the greatest gratification. ‘Gift giving’ is based on ‘consumer spending’; who could imagine any alternative!

Millions of atomized individuals compete to buy the most commodities that their credit/debit cards can cover. ‘Virtue’ becomes ‘success’ in the frantic engagement with the market. From the perspective of political power, individual consumerist consciousness means submission to ‘the market’ as well as submission to the ruling class, which dominates ‘market relations’.

The entire ‘Xmas’ period highlights the fact that market relations between wage-earning/salaried individuals and commercial/financial elites take precedence over productive (and state) relations between capital and labor. In “the market” the struggle is between consumers over commodities, overseen by commercial capital. In the new Xmas story the consumer is the centerpiece; the market is the mediator of all social relations. The ‘Christ story’ has been relegated to a periphery, if not totally excluded. At most, the story is reduced to a birth scene witnessed by cows, sheep and three ‘Kings’.

The conversion of Christmas into the massive Xmas-market event broadens its consumer appeal, increases sales and profits. Potential consumers from all religions (and the non-religious) can join the consumer orgy. It is not about values, ethics, or beliefs – it’s about buying, selling, debt, and accumulation. To be a successful commercial event ‘Christians’ must suppress the politics and ethics of the Christ story, which is dramatically opposed to the immersion in the marketplace.

The Politics of the Christmas Story

The protagonists of the Christmas story, Joseph and Mary, are a working class household living at a subsistence level. Joseph, a carpenter, is partially out of work and earns a minimum wage. They live frugally, spend their meager earnings on essentials and travel cheaply on a donkey. To escape a repressive government they migrate in search of security, hoping to find a new home. The pregnant Mary and her unemployed husband Joseph look for sympathy and solidarity among the poor. They knock on doors but the landlords send them away. Only a poor farmer offers them a place – they can share a barn with the sheep and cows.

In the face of an uncertain future and a troubled present, Mary and Joseph receive material support from local residents in Bethlehem. Three wise men (the Magi or mathematicians from Persia) are internationalists who travel to greet the new family. They show great concern for the new born baby Jesus by perhaps offering this family a scholarship so he can study mathematics and science. The coming together of local neighborhood people and the three educated “outsiders” to celebrate the birth of Christ and offer support to the homeless family, dispossessed migrants, has been an event for wonder and celebration.

Community solidarity, the sharing of food, shelter, learning and fraternal good cheer, in the face of persecution by a criminal state and an avaricious ruling class, defines the spirit of Christmas. The Christmas story affirms the virtues of social solidarity and not individual consumerism. It defines a moment in which the deep bonds of humanity displace the shallow comfort of commodities. It is the celebration of a moment in which the values and virtues of breaking bread in a fraternal community take precedence over the accumulation of wealth.

The Christmas story, the trials and travails of Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus resonate with millions of American workers today: especially those who have lost employment and been dispossessed of their homes. The Christmas story resonates with the tens of millions of immigrants persecuted and jailed by tyrannical states. The Christmas story resonates with the millions of people of color who are “stopped and frisked” by a militarized police.

The Christmas story does not resonate with the owners, investors, and publicists of big commercial enterprises who have converted the multitude into worshipers of their little plastic cards. Taking ‘Christ out of Christmas’ and destroying the joy and fellowship and solidarity of shared humanity embodied in the celebration of the birth of Christ is essential in order to continue to accumulate wealth. Putting the ‘Christ story’ back into Christmas is a step toward defeating consumerist consciousness and recreating social solidarity, so necessary for ending injustice.

December 28, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Mazal Tov to Chomsky and Jews Voice for Peace

By Gilad Atzmon | December 28, 2013

JVP is moving from strength to strength. Though it didn’t liberate Palestine yet, it certainly managed to convince a few Jews that Jewishness is actually a good thing.

Today we learned that the legendary activist and scholar Noam Chomsky appealed to the general public to donate to the Jews only Group.

In the letter Chomsky admitted that “these days, there are really only a handful of Jewish organizations that honor the traditions of universal equality that inspired me to be an activist so many years ago.”

Chomsky is no doubt a clever boy, he surely knows why there are only a handful of Jewish organizations that subscribe to universalism. Jewish culture and identity politics are tribal. In other words, Jewish politics is anything but universal. Chomsky knows very well that JVP is a Jews only group. Though it is happy to take donations from everyone, its leadership is Jewish. Accordingly, Ahmad, Salem or Ali wouldn’t become JVP’s leaders. They are not racially qualified.

So I am left wondering what Chomsky has in mind when he refers to “Jewish organizations that honor the traditions of universal equality”? Can a Jew only organization be universal? I guess that Chomsky would say ‘yes’, as long as it is universally Jewish.

December 28, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , | Leave a comment

‘Blood Diamonds’ and Israel’s Diamond Export Industry

By Sean Clinton | Palestine Chronicle | December 28, 2013

In November, members of the Kimberley Process (KP), meeting in plenary in South Africa, squandered what was probably their last good opportunity to ban the sale of all blood diamonds, including cut and polished blood diamonds which are an important source of funding for the nuclear armed regime in Israel which stands accused of the crime of apartheid, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The governments with a vested interest in the diamond industry, that set up and control the KP, failed to amend the definition of a “conflict diamond” which is restricted to “rough diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to finance conflict aimed at undermining legitimate governments”. All other diamonds associated with human rights violations evade the KP regulations.

The failure was well flagged in advance as key stakeholders, including South Africa which chaired the KP in 2013, had voiced opposition to reforms that would broaden the remit of the KP to embargo diamonds associated with human rights violations by government forces.

Some jewelers refuse to sell diamonds sourced in the Marange area of Zimbabwe where government forces are reported to have killed 200 miners. However, most if not all, of the worlds leading jewelers sell diamonds processed in Israel where the industry generates about $1 billion annually for the Israeli military which is guilty of grievous human rights violations in Palestine .

With the KP chair passed to China for 2014, and Angola in line for 2015, no one believes they will implement the changes necessary to ban the trade in all blood diamonds.

'Boycott Israeli blood diamond.' (Photo: supplied)

Corporate Posturing

Corporate social responsibility statements – the moral beacons of wannabe ethically progressive companies – amount to little more than window-dressing unless they are supported by rigorous enforcement. No amount of charitable support for a company’s favorite worthy causes can mitigate, directly or indirectly, providing a revenue stream for rogue regimes guilty of gross human rights violations.

Anglo American plc owns 85% of De Beers making it one of the worlds leading diamond companies with interests at all stages of the supply pipe from mining to retail. De Beers promote their own “Forevermark” diamonds many of which are crafted in Israel .  Their promotional literature claims “Forevermark is committed to upholding the highest business, social and environmental standards and practices across its and its partners businesses”.

Anglo American’s Sustainable Development Policy  stipulates that suppliers are expected to uphold “fundamental human rights and fair labour practices, in line with internationally recognized standards”. Suppliers must also “oppose corruption, bribery, fraud…. and must not tolerate any form of money laundering or participate in other illegal incentives in business”.

Despite this, De Beers continues to sell diamonds crafted in Israel even though the Israeli diamond industry is notorious for discrimination in the workplace against non-Jews – a fact confirmed by data from the Israeli Bureau of Statistics and a recent government-funded initiative to encourage ultra-Orthodox Jews to take up employment in the diamond industry without a similar initiative for non-Jews.  Furthermore, although authorities uncovered the “world’s largest illegal bank”, involving fraudulent trading worth billions of shekels, in the Israeli Diamond Exchange in 2012, Anglo American continues trading with Israeli diamond companies.

Anglo American’s failure to abide by their own standards exposes their hypocrisy – a double-standard that permeates the jewellery industry when it comes to blood diamonds from Israel .

The Steinmetz Diamond Group, one of Tiffany’s biggest suppliers and a “unique partner” of Sotheby’s Diamonds, through the Steinmetz Foundation, funds and supports a Unit of the Givati Brigade of the Israeli military. The Givati Brigade is guilty of the massacre of at least 21 members of the Samouni family in Gaza – a war crime documented by the UNHRC and other human rights organizations.

Other world-leading jewelers including Harry Winston, Cartier, Ritani, Blue Nile, Zales, Brilliant Earth, Graff Diamonds, Chow Tai Fook, Chopard and many more, sell diamonds from Israel which are tarnished with Palestinian blood – one of the most recent victim being a 15 year old child, Wajih Wajdi al-Ramahi, shot in the back and killed by the Givati Brigade on 7th December.  He was the 26th Palestinian to be killed by the Israeli military this year.

The imperative for all businesses to respect human rights and ensure their business relationships are not contributing to adverse human rights impacts is a well established tenet affirmed in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the UN Global Compact, and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.  The fact that the diamond industry, which accounted for 31.2% of Israel ’s manufacturing exports in 2011, is a very significant source of revenue for the regime in Israel means jewelers that sell diamonds processed in Israel help fund the commission of war crimes and suspected crimes against humanity.

Shareholders of companies that sell diamonds linked to atrocities and bloodshed are exposed to financial and legal hazard.  The fraudulent misrepresentation of such diamonds as conflict-free leaves jewelers open to challenge by patrons angered by the fact that diamonds they purchased in good faith are de-facto blood diamonds. Companies complicit in human rights violations may be liable for reparations, which, in the case of victims of Israeli violence in Palestine , could amount to billions of dollars.

Despite Israel ’s record as a serial human rights offender and it’s nuclear weapons stockpile which it refuses to submit to international regulation, the leaders of the global diamond industry continue to give Israel refuge in the KP tent.

Consumer Power

If consumers are to have confidence in the ethical credentials of diamonds civil society needs to regain the initiative. This can be done by putting the jewellery industry under the spotlight and demanding that jewelers guarantee the diamonds they sell are not a source of funding for, or in any way associated with, serious human rights violations – i.e. they are not blood diamonds.

As cut and polished blood diamonds from Israel legally enter the diamond market in vast quantities (50% of the US market), diamond buyers should demand to know where a diamond was sourced, cut and polished if they want to avoid buying a blood diamond.

Diamond buyers should not allow jewelers to fob them off with assurances about “conflict diamonds” – the sacrificial offering which only encompasses rough diamonds that fund rebel violence against legitimate governments. This distracts from, and blinds consumers to, the extensive trade in cut and polished blood diamonds which continues unchecked and largely unreported by media.

“Ethically sourced” are some of the buzz words hammered into the conscience of diamond buyers.  Rough diamonds at source represent but a small fraction of the value of the cut and polished diamonds sold by jewelers. Ethically sourced diamonds can still be blood diamonds if revenue they generate after sourcing is used to fund human rights violations. “The “ethically sourced” pitch is a scam – it offers zero protection from blood diamonds.

Another example of the duplicity of the jewellery industry is the widespread abuse of the term conflict-free. This is part of a bogus System of Warranties introduced by the World Diamond Council which allows sellers to self-certify diamonds as conflict-free based on the fact that they are in compliance with the discredited Kimberley Process which gives legal cover to blood diamonds that fund government forces.

December 28, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Illegal Occupation, Racism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Zionism | , , | 1 Comment

Israel’s recurring use of terror on civilians

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By Bob Finch | January 26, 2009

Insanely disproportionate use of violence against unarmed civilians

“The stated aim was, as always, to stop the launching of the rockets. The means: killing a maximum of Palestinians, in order to teach them a lesson. The decision was based on the traditional Israeli concept: hit the civilian population again and again, until it overthrows its leaders. This has been tried hundreds of times and has failed hundreds of times.” (Uri Avnery “Kill a Hundred Turks and Rest”: The Five-Day War in Gaza March 2008).

Operation Grapes of Wrath ~ Lebanon, in 1996

“Ehud Barak will be remembered in Israel’s history as the one who introduced the abuse of innocent civilians as political cards. Barak was probably not the first Israeli warrior to abuse civilians on a tactical level, but he was the one who turned it into a central Israeli strategy. Operation Grapes of Wrath in Lebanon, in 1996, with Barak as an influential cabinet member, openly targeted civilians, turning them into refugees to make them put pressure on Beirut’s government. The recent siege on Gaza follows a similar logic: put pressure on civilians to achieve political goals. (A clear war crime, it goes without saying.)” (Ran HaCohen ‘Israel Says ‘No’’ Feb. 2008).

Israelis fire 1,300,000 bullets during first few days of Intifada

“Malka, in an interview with the Israeli paper Ha’aretz on 14 June, revealed that during the first few days of the intifada, Israeli occupation soldiers fired 1,300,000 bullets on Palestinian population centres and other targets. This massive firepower, which had no operational justification given the Palestinians’ inherently inferior firepower (they possessed only light firearms and in limited numbers), showed that the Israeli army was interested more in decimating and harming the Palestinians and less in ending the violence. According to Israeli sources, then-Chief of Staff and now Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz didn’t plan to bring about the end of the conflict. Instead, he thought he had finally seized the opportunity to “beat and vanquish” the Palestinians in order to “burn into their consciousness” and make them “internalise their weakness and inferiority vis-a-vis Israel’s strength”. Mofaz’s ultimate aim, of which he later convinced Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, was to hector Palestinians into negotiations in a weakened and exhausted state whereby they would have no choice but to accept Israel’s dictates and demands. The new revelations, Palestinian officials argue, prove that the escalation of violence during the first few months of the intifada was, first and foremost, Israel’s responsibility. “This is what we have been saying all along that this is not about Israeli security but rather about Israel’s terrorising the Palestinian people for the purpose of arrogating their land and rights. Israel is now admitting that,” said Michael Tarazi, adviser to Palestinian Authority leader Yasir Arafat.” (Khalid Amayreh ‘The second intifada, an Israeli strategy’ July 2004).

Lebanon 2006

“This intentional and coldly calculated Israeli policy of targeting innocent Lebanese civilians and civilian infrastructure stems from a time-honoured, but hardly ever successful, Israeli doctrine of applying intense “pressure” against a civilian population in order to compel them, in-turn, to pressure the resistance into submitting to Israeli dictates, thereby doing Israel’s bidding by proxy. It has been consistently used against the Palestinians ever since the Nakba of 1948, and is still applied now in the ongoing barbaric offensive and hermetic siege against Gaza. Israel may have plagiarized this doctrine from the legacies of previous oppressors, but it has refined it to a degree that it no longer raises any moral qualms in most of Israeli society, where it is widely accepted by the public as a right, even a duty in the fight for Israel’s “security.” (Omar Barghouti ‘The Massacre at Qana’ August 01 2006); “As Limor and Shelah reveal, in spite of the fact that the conflict on the ground took place on a very narrow strip of land (the Israeli border on the south and Litani River on the north), the Israeli artillery had managed to shoot over 170,000 shells. In comparison, in the 1973 war while fighting against two strong state armies over two very large fronts, the Israelis had launched only 53,000 shells. The figures relating to the Air Force are even more striking. Though less than a few concrete targets were available for the IDF intelligence, the IAF (Israeli Air Force) had launched as many as 17,550 combat missions, this translates into 520 missions a day, almost as many as in the 1973 war (605 a day). Yet, in 1973 the IAF was fighting two well-equipped air forces, it was engaged in a fair amount of air-to-air combat and a relentless struggle against the latest Soviet ground-to-air missiles. None of that happened in the Second Lebanon War. The IAF was engaged solely in hammering the Lebanese soil. It literally threw and launched everything it had in its disposal, presenting a merciless method that in places (southern Beirut for instance), had a similar effect to the infamous 1940s Anglo-American carpet bombardment.” (Gilad Atzmon ‘Saying NO to the Hunters of Goliath’ August 13, 2007); “That was on Aug. 30, by which time U.N. teams had identified 359 separate cluster-bomb sites. Since then, the true dimensions of the problem have become even clearer: 770 cluster-bomb sites have now been identified. And the current U.N. estimate is that Israel dropped between 2 million and 3 million bomblets on Lebanon, of which up to a million have yet to explode.” (Saree Makdisi ‘Israel’s Cluster Bomb War’ Oct. 2006).

December 28, 2013 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment