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Saudi Prince Demanded US Ground Troops Remove Bashar al-Assad

By Kurt Nimmo | Another Day In The Empire | August 26, 2016

“You can’t simply deal with ISIS and not deal with Assad,” Prince Turki al-Faisal told CBS News in 2014.

The former ambassador to the United States said “if the need” for US ground troops arises in the effort to depose al-Assad he “hopes the president will change his mind.”

Asked if Saudi Arabia would send ground troops, al-Faisal said no way.

”It would be a mistake for the United States, or Great Britain… to send in ground troops and overthrow the Assad regime,” Obama told the BBC in April.

However, around the time Obama made this remark the United States sent 250 ground troops into Syria—in direct violation of that country’s national sovereignty—under the pretense of fighting the Islamic State.

The Saudis scoffed and said the move was little more than “window dressing.”

Asked about a remark by Iran that Saudi Arabia’s participation in the coalition bombing of Syria is illegal, al-Faisal said Iran’s troops on the ground “killing Syrians” is illegal.

The Saudi prince failed to mention that Russia, Syria, Iran, and Iraq formed a coalition to fight the Islamic State in September 2015. The United States was offered to join the coalition but its response was “unconstructive,” according a statement by Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov.

As a former diplomat, al-Faisal is undoubtedly aware of the invitation by Syria, but then we have to keep in mind he was talking to an American television audience that knows virtually nothing about the real situation in Syria.

CBS did not clarify.

That would be a deviation from the script.

August 26, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 2 Comments

Russia-India oil deal at risk due to US sanctions – media

RT | August 26, 2016

US sanctions are threatening to derail Russian energy major Rosneft’s acquisition of a 49 percent stake in India’s Essar Oil, reports The Times of India.

The deal was curtailed by the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, according to the daily.

In July 2014, the Department of the Treasury included Rosneft on the list of sanctioned Russian companies after Washington accused Moscow of involvement in the military conflict in Eastern Ukraine and of annexing Crimea.

Indian banks, which invested over $5 billion into Essar Oil and currently hold 17 percent, expressed concerns over the deal due to fears of the potential consequences.

“We may have to review our exposure to Essar Oil if Rosneft comes on board,” said a top banker with a state-run lender, as quoted by The Times of India.

However, Essar Oil will reportedly try to push the deal with Rosneft through, allowing the Russian company to enter the Indian energy market.

Searching to expand cooperation with Russia beyond the traditional defense buyer-supplier relationship, New Delhi has invested over $5 billion in the Russian energy sector.

The Essar-Rosneft deal aims to open up India’s retail energy business to the world’s largest oil producer.

The deal was planned to be sealed by June. The Indian company had to reduce the share intended for sale by 25 percent, but the measure failed to change the situation.

Moreover, the sale of a 25 percent stake to the Dutch multinational trader Trafigura Group risks collapse due to the close ties with Rosneft. Trafigura handles much of the crude exported by Russia.

August 26, 2016 Posted by | Economics, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

How I Was Blacklisted at CNN, and How Easily America Goes to War Now

By Peter Van Buren | August 26, 2016

It was about two years ago to the day I was blacklisted at CNN.

I don’t want to remind them they were sadly wrong, but they were. So write this off however you prefer, but understand that we were lied to again to drag us again into an open-ended war in Iraq-Syria. Last time it was Bush and those missing Weapons of Mass Destruction. This time it was Obama and saving the Yazidi people from genocide.

Wait, what? Who are the Yazidis? How did they get us back into Iraq?

Ah, how fast time flies.

Two years ago a group of Yazidis, a minority spread across Iran, Iraq and Turkey, were being threatened by a group called ISIS few American were focused on. Obama declared a genocide was about to happen, and the U.S. had to act. U.S. officials said they believed that some type of ground force would be necessary to secure the safety of the stranded members of the Yazidi group. The military drew up plans for limited airstrikes and the deployment of 150 ground troops.

No Congressional authorization was sought, no attempt was made to secure UN sanction, no effort was made to seek Iraqi military help to save their own people inside their own country. However, promises were made by the White House of having no American “boots on the ground” and that the airstrikes to kill people were for a humanitarian purpose.

Two years later the U.S. has some 6,000 troops on the ground, including artillery units and aircraft based inside Iraq and Syria. The limited airstrikes have expanded to a 24 month broad-based bombing campaign, which has spread into Syria, with the sideshows of complete collapse of democracy in Turkey, a Russian military presence in Syria, and an Iranian military presence in Iraq. For the record, the Yazidis are pretty much fine, as are ISIS and Syrian president Assad. The Yazadis do occasionally show up in fear-mongering, unsourced stories about ISIS sex slaves, usually spoon-fed to American media, and only American media, by pro-Yazidi ethnic groups safely in the west.

In fact, other than a massive regional death toll and no progress toward whatever the actual goal for the United States is (um, whatever, “destroy” ISIS), things are pretty much the same after two years, +chaos. And whomever is elected this November will be the fifth U.S. president to make war in Iraq.

Back to CNN.

As the Yazidi situation was unfolding, I was invited to tape a discussion there alongside the usual retired U.S. military colonel. I was asked a single question, explained in my answer that the U.S. was in fact using the Yazidi “humanitarian crisis/faux genocide” as an excuse to re-enter the Iraq quagmire, and equated it to George W. Bush’s flim-flam about weapons of mass destruction in 2003.

The host literally said I was wrong. I was not asked another question, though the colonel was given several minutes to explain the urgency of the situation, demand America act where no one else would, and assure the public that Obama planned only limited, surgical strikes and that was it, one and done.

My question was edited out, the colonel’s lengthy answer was played on air, and my very brief moment in the glow of CNN was ended even though I wore a nice suit and a tie. Oh well, we still have each other here, and hey, CNN, my number’s still the same if you wanna call.

August 26, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Illegal Occupation, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Whitewashing Israeli War Crimes, the NYT Turns its Back on Survivors and Critics

By Barbara Erickson | TimesWarp | August 26, 2016

So it’s settled, according to The New York Times: Israel was not at fault in a strike that killed 10 civilians near a United Nations school in the 2014 assault on Gaza, nor was it guilty of breaking the law in other instances that left innocent victims dead during that conflict.

This, at least, is what the Israeli military claims, and in a one-sided story in the Times this week, Isabel Kershner takes the Israeli military findings at face value, never questioning its conclusions or seeking commentary from outside sources.

She opens her piece with a summary of the military’s own account of the strike on the school, recounting it as established fact without attribution. Kershner goes on to say that the army also declared itself innocent of deliberately causing civilian deaths in two other attacks during the 51-day offensive: a strike on the Bureij refugee camp and the death of 12 members of one family in Rafah. The three cases were among seven closed without charges this week.

The school was hit, according to the army account, because militants targeted by an air-to-ground missile happened to pass by the site too late for the Israeli army to correct its aim; the Bureij bombing was “justified and legal” because the building hit was being used by Hamas as a control center; and the Rafah deaths were caused by “errant mortar fire” from Gaza militants.

Her story makes no mention of other instances that raised international outrage, such as the mortar attack that killed four boys playing soccer on a beach, the massacre in the Shujaiya neighborhood of Gaza City and the excessive and deadly bombardment of eastern Rafah after Palestinians captured an Israeli soldier.

The article likewise fails to include any comments by outsiders on the military decision to close seven cases. Kershner did not seek responses from Gaza residents or from human rights groups that have also investigated and documented the Israeli attacks.

Other media outlets, however, included these outside perspectives: The Guardian, for instance, sought reactions from Gaza residents affected by the strikes, and the International Business Times quoted extensively from an Amnesty International staff person.

But the Times finds no reason to look for sources beyond the Israeli military, which happens to be the entity under investigation. At the same time, it shows little concern for what the people of Gaza experience.

This week’s story, for example, concludes with two paragraphs about Israeli air and tank strikes on the beleaguered strip this week. A total of 50 bombardments hit the enclave after militants fired a single rocket toward the town of Sderot.

Kershner’s story tells us only what “Israeli analysts” have to say about the strikes. The targeted sites were “empty,” she reports, and “no deaths were reported.” Other news sources, however, state that four people were injured.

The Times insists that it provides full and fair accounts, that it is neutral and balanced, but its editors and reporters fail to follow even minimal journalistic standards in reporting on Israel. Those accused of war crimes are allowed to speak for themselves without the annoyance of outside observers to challenge any aspect of their claims. Those who bear the brunt of these alleged crimes have no voice at all.

Follow @TimesWarp on Twitter

August 26, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Syria’s Kurds and the Wages of Treachery

By John Wight | CounterPunch | August 26, 2016

Syrian Kurdish forces have been among the bravest and most effective in the war against ISIS in Syria. However as things stand they may well also be on course to be the most treacherous.

Whether organized under the auspices of the PYD (People’s Protection Units) or SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) there is no doubting that the role played by the Kurds in northern Syria in first resisting and now taking the fight to ISIS will go down in history. But now as the Kurds continue their advance through Raqqa Province, closing in on Raqqa from the north, it is  clear that with the backing of US military forces, they are intent on exploiting the chaos of the conflict to carve out their own autonomous territory of Rojava (Western Kurdistan) with Hasakah as its capital.

Syrian concerns over the Kurds’ intentions were initially raised in March, when at a meeting in the town of Rmeilan in Hasakah Province the Kurds and their allies unilaterally declared a northern autonomous federation, which understandably the Syrian government refused to accept or recognize. In January, two months prior to the declaration of said northern federation by the Kurds, US troops had taken control of an airfield just outside Rmeilan.  It doesn’t take a genius to discern a connection between both.

Indeed there is something undeniably murky when it comes to the manner in which the Americans have developed a close military alliance with the Kurds over the past few months, even at the cost of incurring the extreme displeasure of their NATO ally Turkey. It suggests that in the Kurds and various other groups that make up the SDF, the Pentagon believes it has finally fastened onto the ‘third force’ it has been trying to cultivate within the conflict as a wedge between the Assad government and ISIS with an eye on asserting a military and geopolitical presence in the country beyond the current conflict.

In this respect, there is no reason to believe that regime change in Damascus is off Washington’s table, though as with Iraq after the first Gulf War in 1990-91 the willingness of the US to abandon the Kurds as and when it suits should give the Syrian Kurds pause for thought when it comes to trusting any promises or pledges of support that come gift-wrapped in an American accent now.

The Kurds, we know, are thanks to Sykes Picot the largest stateless people in the world, spread between four nations in the Middle East – Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey, along with a wider Kurdish diaspora spread mostly across Europe. There is no accurate figure when it comes to the size of the Kurdish population, but it is thought to number anywhere between 20-30 million. That being said, it would be a mistake to consider them a homogenous group. How could they possibly be so after generations spent fragmented across different countries, regarded with suspicion and mistrust and experiencing regular bouts of repression in the process?

There are 2.5 million Kurds in Syria, predominately located in the north close to the border with Turkey, and in 2011 President Assad granted 300,000 of them citizenship, a gesture his opponents and detractors in the West dismissed as instrumentalist. Regardless, Syria remains a sovereign state and its people will not accept any of its territory being cleaved off in the context of a conflict in which over 60,000 Syrian soldiers and officers have lost their lives fighting to defend that sovereignty. Some of those Syrian soldiers and officers, as British journalist Robert Fisk wrote in February, were killed courtesy of the Kurds, when after the battle for the Mineq airbase in 2013 retreating Syrian soldiers and officers made it to Kurdish-held territory only to be handed over to the Nusra by the Kurds in exchange for Kurdish prisoners. The Syrian officers were separated from the soldiers and executed.

Though it has long ceased to matter in Washington, US ground forces operating in Syria without the prior consent of the country’s legitimate government constitutes a violation of the country’s sovereignty and does not bode well when it comes to trusting US motives going forward. Where Washington is concerned neither the Syrians or Iranians or Russians are under any illusions, of course, and will no doubt be prepared for any eventuality.

There is also the no small matter of Turkey’s determination to lump the Kurds in the same box with ISIS, thus adding another layer of intrigue to this unfolding drama. The notion that Ankara would stand by while something approximating to a Kurdish state is established on its border at any time, never mind at a time when it is engaged in a military campaign to crush the PKK, is delusional in the extreme.

It was the English poet William Blake who said, “It is easier to forgive an enemy than to forgive a friend.” The brave men and women of the YPG and SDF could do worse than bear the wisdom of those words in mind.

The Kurds throughout their history have revealed a proclivity for accepting the support of any imperial power to further their aims of a state of their own. This has been their mistake given that whatever imperialism gives with one hand it obliterates with the other.

John Wight is the author of a politically incorrect and irreverent Hollywood memoir – Dreams That Die – published by Zero Books. He’s also written five novels, which are available as Kindle eBooks. You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnWight1

August 26, 2016 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

Israeli commander threatens to ‘disable all youth in the camp’ as 2 Palestinians shot in Duheisha

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A file photo of a group of Palestinian youth after being treated for gunshot injuries by Israeli forces (Photo: BADIL)
Ma’an – August 26, 2016

BETHLEHEM – Two Palestinian youths were injured with live fire during clashes with Israeli soldiers in al-Duheisha refugee camp in southern Bethlehem early Friday morning, as reports emerged of an Israeli army commander making repeated threats in recent weeks to make “all youth in the camp disabled.”

Local sources said that two youths were shot and injured in the legs during clashes that erupted after Israeli forces raided the camp in Friday’s predawn hours.

Sources added that Israeli soldiers raided and searched the house of the incarcerated Palestinian Muhammad al-Seifi, detaining his mother and sister by locking them inside their home to pressure Muhammad’s younger brother Naba to turn himself into Israeli authorities.

Israeli forces also blew off the door of the Ibdaa Cultural Center near the entrance to the camp and occupied the rooftop of the building, from where Israeli snipers fired live ammunition and tear-gas canisters at local youth.

Violent clashes in al-Duheisha are common and break out nearly every time Israeli army forces enter the camp, which is located in Area A and should be under full Palestinian Authority control according to the Oslo agreements.

In a response to a request for comment, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that the Israeli army was not involved, and claimed Israeli border police were behind it, despite the area being located outside of police jurisdiction in Area A of the occupied West Bank.

When contacted by Ma’an, Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said he was not aware of the raid, saying it “made no sense” that police would be involved, and confirmed that al-Duheisha fell under the Israeli army’s jurisdiction in terms of raids. When contacted a second time, an Israeli army spokesperson insisted again that the army was not behind the raid and could not say who had been.

‘I will make all the youth of the camp disabled’

The clashes come in the wake of  reports documented by BADIL, the Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, of an Israeli army commander making repeated threats during and after raids, and during interrogations, to disable all Palestinian youth in al-Duheisha.

The commander is reportedly responsible for the al-Duheisha area, and known to locals as “Captain Nidal.”

Local youth in al-Duheisha told BADIL that Captain Nidal has made statements such as: “I will make all the youth of the camp disabled,” “I will have all of you walking with crutches and in wheelchairs,” “I will make half of you disabled, and let the other half push the wheelchairs,” and “I will make all of you stand in line at the ATM waiting for your disability subsidies and assistance.”

One of the injured youth told BADIL that Captain Nidal told him to tell his friends that “Nidal will make all of you disabled.”

According to BADIL, which is based in Bethlehem, 30 Palestinians have been shot with live ammunition in the camp since the beginning of the year, the majority in their legs and knees.

They added that al-Duheisha had been raided at least three times by Israeli forces between the end of July and mid-August, during which time 18 Palestinian youth between 14 and 27 years old were shot in their legs — eight of which shot directly in the knee and several more in both legs — causing both permanent and temporary disabilities.

An Israeli army spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment on the reports of the threats made by the commander.

“These threats indicate that these actions are not accidental or isolated incidents, but rather result from a systematic Israeli military policy aimed at suppressing resistance, terrorizing Palestinian youth, and permanently injuring them and/or causing significant damage to their physical and mental well-being,” BADIL said in their statement.

The reported threats come amid what BADIL called an intensification of the “systematic targeting” of Palestinian youth in the occupied Palestinian territory — particularly in refugee camps — since the beginning of 2016.

“This targeting has taken the form of injuries and arbitrary killings by the use of live ammunition by the Israeli army in the context of arrest campaigns, military raids, and random wide searches which usually trigger clashes,” the statement said.

BADIL’s statement also highlight a recent Israeli military incursion in the Hebron-area refugee camp al-Fawwar that lasted some 20-hours, during which an unarmed Palestinian teen was shot dead and dozens others were hospitalized.

“These cases of intentional wounding, when added to the comparable actions happening in refugee camps such as Aida, al-Arroub, Qalandia, Amari, and the West Bank at large, prove that these incidents amount to a systematic policy and an implementation of Captain Nidal’s threats.”

“These willful and grave breaches of international law trigger the obligations of third party states and other mandated agencies to put an end to this climate of impunity under which Israeli forces and its officials operate.”

BADIL’s collection of testimonies came as the latest report amid years of well documented cases of abuse and mistreatment of Palestinian children by Israeli forces in the occupied territory, including in East Jerusalem, which is under Israeli police jurisdiction.

August 26, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , | 1 Comment

On ceasefire anniversary, UN agencies urge end to Gaza’s ‘de-development spiral’

MEMO | August 26, 2016

UN agencies have urged an end to what they describe as the Gaza Strip’s “de-development spiral”, in a report marking the two-year anniversary of the ceasefire that ended ‘Operation Protective Edge’.

In a statement released Friday, 16 heads of United Nations agencies in Palestine call for the “uninterrupted and predictable flow of material and increased funding to address humanitarian needs and boost economic prospects for Gaza’s 1.9 million residents.”

In the report, UN agencies “document collective progress made in the last two years, as well as some of the remaining challenges in the recovery and reconstruction effort.” To date, “half of the homes which suffered partial damages and a third of destroyed homes have been rebuilt.”

Robert Piper, the UN Coordinator for Humanitarian Aid and Development Activities, warned that “repairing the damages from the 51-day hostilities cannot be our only measure of success, given that humanitarian and socio-economic indicators were already so dire before 2014.”

Piper added: “We must reverse Gaza’s de-development trajectory and address the needs of a population that has gone through three rounds of conflict, nine years of an Israeli blockade and the consequences of the Palestinian internal divide.”

The senior UN official emphasised that “addressing economic recovery requires much greater financial investments and serious policy changes, including a lifting of [Israeli-imposed] restrictions on both imports and exports.”

On October 2014, donors pledged US$ 3.5 billion to support Gaza. According to the World Bank, only an estimated 40 percent had been disbursed by April this year.

August 26, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 2 Comments

Bilal Kayed’s strike ends with agreement for his freedom; continued mobilization critical for fellow prisoners

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Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network – August 26, 2016

In a press conference held on Thursday morning, 25 August, Sahar Francis, the executive director of Addameer, confirmed that Bilal Kayed had ended his hunger strike after 71 days following the conclusion of an agreement with Israeli occupation prison administration that he will be released in December 2016, with no renewal of administrative detention.

In the press conference, joined by Kayed’s brother Mahmoud Kayed, as well as Prisoners’ Affairs Committee chair Issa Qaraqe and Osama al-Saadi of the Joint List, Francis noted that occupation security officials had earlier stated that they demanded Kayed be deported to Jordan for four years and noted their intention of keeping him in administrative detention for years. Kayed is held in the intensive care unit at Barzilai hospital and was moved there on 19 August as he refused to consume sugar or vitamin B1. He suffers from blurred vision, difficulty breathing and severe pain throughout his body. He will receive treatment until his condition improves considerably and he is returned to health.

Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network salutes Bilal Kayed for his victory and achievement in the defense of Palestinian rights from the constant attempts of the Israeli occupation to expand, enlarge and intensify the scope of the imprisonment of Palestinian leaders and struggles. We extend our warmest congratulations to Bilal, his struggling family who were at the forefront of his support campaign, his lawyers and advocates with Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association and his fellow Palestinian prisoners who engaged in a series of collective hunger strikes within Israeli prisons. Kayed’s fellow prisoners of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine were subject to isolation, the targeting of leaders Ahmad Sa’adat, Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh, Wael Jaghoub and Kamil Abu Hanish among others, excessive daily fines, harassment and assaults, and denial of family and legal visits. We salute the Palestinian people throughout occupied Palestine and in exile, including in the refugee camps of Lebanon, who repeatedly took the streets and mobilized in support of Kayed’s battle for freedom, directly confronting the occupation as well as the international institutions and states that refused to stand for justice for Palestinian prisoners.

Furthermore, Samidoun salutes all of the international activists, organizations and movements that came together to stand beside Bilal Kayed and beside the Palestinian people in this battle of freedom. From the outstanding efforts of the Irish movement for freedom for Bilal Kayed, to the ongoing and constant actions in New York City and Berlin, to the honorary citizenship granted to Bilal in Naples, to the organizers of the Black liberation movement who expressed their solidarity, to the organizers in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Ecuador, Turkey, the UK, Ireland, Scotland, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal, Iceland, the Czech Republic, Finland, Austria, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, South Africa, Jordan, Lebanon, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Bahrain and elsewhere who have mobilized in support of Bilal Kayed, international mobilization has escalated to new heights in support of the Palestinian prisoners in this struggle.

We urge the importance of continued mobilization and action in support of Palestinian prisoners, particularly the current hunger strikers, Mahmoud al-Balboul, on strike since 1 July; Mohammed al-Balboul, his brother, on strike since 4 July; and Ayed al-Herama and Malik al-Qadi, on strike since 14 July, all protesting administrative detention without charge or trial – and for continued mobilization in support of the action of all of the Palestinian prisoners, struggling for freedom from Israeli imprisonment, and for freedom and liberation for the Palestinian people throughout Palestine.

August 26, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , | Leave a comment

Antiwar Coalition responds to attack by Terry Burke published in ‘In These Times’

Statement published on the United National Antiwar Coalition website, August 2016

In the past 15 years, the U.S. military machine has attacked 17 countries. The many peace and justice organizations and individuals attacked in Terry Burke’s In These Times article [article date August 15, 2016] have a long history of opposition to ALL U.S. wars, interventions, invasions, drone attacks,  military coups, blockades, and sanctions on numerous countries around the world.[1]

The military aggression of the United States, the expansion of NATO, the efforts at encirclement of Russia and China with weapons shields, CIA destabilizations in Latin America and the massively destructive U.S. wars in Central Asia, West Asia, Middle East and North Africa, along with the massive arms deals with U.S. allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia, have created terrible destruction and millions of deaths and refugees. UNAC, a peace and justice coalition with organizations and individuals from different perspectives, seeks to counter the corporate media propaganda and politicians’ justifications for each of these wars and for expanding U.S. militarism.

These wars collectively, and each of them individually, are for U.S. economic and geopolitical domination. None of these wars have resulted in increased security or stability for the countries targeted or for the people of the U.S.

It is from this perspective that we oppose the U.S. war in Syria. We oppose the U.S. bombing that has ruined so much of the vital infrastructure, and we oppose the U.S.-coordinated arming and financing of numerous armed groups and the devastating sanctions that the U.S. has imposed on the people of Syria.

Terry Burke cites her past work in the Nicaragua Solidarity Committee as the basis of her position on Syria. However, this distorted reasoning would have led Terry and the antiwar movement to support the U.S. backed Contra forces in Nicaragua as “democratic and progressive forces”. The U.S. role in Central America was to covertly arm contra forces to impose regime change in Nicaragua while funding and arming Salvadoran and Guatemalan death squads. This destructive policy created millions of refugees from Central America in the 1980s, just as U.S. policies of regime change in the past 12 years of war in Iraq, Libya, Syria and elsewhere has created even more refugees.

The U.S. is coordinating Saudi, Israeli, Qatar, Turkish and EU efforts of bombing and of arming opposition groups. The stated goal from the beginning has been regime change in Syria. Regime change, as in Iraq and Libya, means the complete destruction of every secular state institution, including the very structures that provided full access to free education, free health care, electrification, potable water, modern infrastructure, irrigation and communication.

Years of U.S. sanctions against Iraq, Iran, Syria and Libya did not succeed in carrying out regime change, although they created great hardships and dislocations in each economy. Up to 1.5 million people died due to U.S. sanctions in Iraq alone.

Today, as we watch two candidates running for president who threaten increased and terrible interventions in Syria, we are seeing a big increase in U.S. propaganda. Take, for example, the August 11, 2016 article by Fair and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) on the breakdown of the [February 2016] ceasefire. FAIR, a media watchdog group, exposed the fact that it was groups supported by the U.S. fighting alongside the al Nusra Front – the al Qaida group in Syria – that actually broke the ceasefire, yet the media blamed the Syrian government and the Russians for the breakdown. Much of what we see in the U.S. media related to the situation in Syria is the same kind of propaganda with the goal of building greater support for war.

Terry Burke claims we are “U.S.-centric” for opposing our government’s attacks on Syria and attempts at regime change in that country. She claims that we have “ignored anti-Assad progressive Syrian voices.” But who has ignored what?  Where in the U.S. corporate media are the voices of Syrians (both pro and anti-Assad) who want an end to the ISIS/Al-Qaida/U.S./NATO intervention in their country and have rallied to the side of their government to end it? The U.S. corporate media and some so-called progressives in the U.S. have focused on vilifying Assad rather than the U.S.-led war on Syria, which only leads to strengthening the forces who seek regime change and war. Should we add our voices to that chorus? Is that the best way to end U.S. intervention in Syria, which the overwhelming majority of Syrians oppose?  We think not.

The March 13, 2016 UNAC protest, ‘A Day of Peace and Solidarity’ [Facebook], is the basis of Burke’s claims that “a dictator accused of monstrous war crimes is being given tacit support by major organizations in the peace movement.” Why? Because the “anti-war protest in New York City included people carrying the flag of the brutal Assad regime…”

It is true that Syrians came to that demonstration and carried the flag of their country. Do Syrians not have the right to carry their flag? Is it the place of the U.S. anti-war movement to tell people from any country that is under attack by the U.S. that they do not have the right to carry their country’s flag? That is not the role of our movement; we oppose our government’s illegal and immoral aggression against all countries and do not lecture the people of that country on whom they should support or not support.

If antiwar activists and organizations in the U.S. condemn U.S. bombings and aggression in Syria as our primary concern, rather than denouncing “Assad’s crimes”, we are branded “pro-Assad”. Burke attacks us for having signs like “U.S. Hands Off Syria” and “No U.S. War on Syria.”  These she says are “U.S.-centric.”  Were similar slogans used during the Vietnam War, Afghan War, and Iraq War also U.S.-centric?  The U.S. is the most militarily aggressive country in the world. It has around 20 times the number of foreign military bases as all other countries in the world combined. We in the U.S. have an obligation to humanity to demand that our government stop the aggression and bring the troops home from Syria and all of the more than 130 countries where there are U.S. troops.

Burke accuses the antiwar movement of ignoring progressive Syrian voices but she is highly selective in identifying the “Syrian perspective” as those who are anti-Assad. We must ask her why she ignores the Syrian voices that seek to end the U.S./NATO/ISIS/Al-Qaida attacks on their country.

Burke believes that the primary feature of the Syrian conflict is fighting between two camps of Syrians. However, this is not the case. Syria has been invaded by extremists such as ISIS and al Nusra. Tens of thousands of mercenaries have poured into this small country to overthrow the government, a goal which the U.S. and NATO share. They have been supported by bombings, logistics and harsh sanctions against Syria from the U.S. and NATO. Though the U.S. has claimed it is there to attack the extremists, there had not been much damage to them until Russia entered the fighting– and then, in a matter of weeks, the tide turned. The oil that ISIS takes from Syria and uses to help fund their operations has been left untouched by the U.S and its allies until Russia started bombing their oil operations.

The antiwar movement can agree on non-intervention and self-determination. Aligning with those anti-Assad Syrians who support U.S. intervention in Syria can only divide and weaken our movement, which needs to be united today, perhaps more than ever.

We urge the antiwar movement to reject the ideas that Terry Burke presents in her article and demand that the U.S. and NATO stop the bombing, stop the sanctions, stop the flow of weapons and stop the funding. This will stop the extremist groups. Then the people of Syria can alone decide their fate.

[1] Organizations and people attacked by Terry Burke in her article in In These Times include United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC), U.S. Peace Council, Syrian American Forum, Veterans for Peace, Manhattan Green Party, WarIsACrime.org, Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Syrian American Will Association, ANSWER Coalition, Anti-War Committee Chicago, Minnesota Anti-War Committee, Women Against Military Madness, Workers World Party, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Mint Press News, AntiWar.com, Consortium News, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity including members William Binney, Coleen Rowley and Ray McGovern; dedicated activists like David Swanson and Kathy Kelly, as well as journalists Seymour Hersh, Robert Fisk, Patrick Cockburn, Robert Kennedy Jr., Gareth Porter and Robert Parry.

Signed,

The Administrative Committee of the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC):
Marilyn Levin – UNAC co-coordinator
Joe Lombardo  – UNAC co-coordinator
Margaret Kimberley – Senior columnist, Black Agenda Report
Joe Iosbaker – Chicago Anti-war Committee
Sara Flounders – Co-director, International Action Center
Bernadette Ellorin – Chairperson, BAYAN, U.S.A
Judy Bello – Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars
Abayomi Azikiwe – Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice
Phil Wilayto – Editor, The Virginia Defender
Jeff Mackler – Northern California UNAC

If you want to add your name to this statement, please email UNACpeace@gmail.com with your name and the name of your organization. If it is an organizational endorsement of the statement, please note that in your email or simply click here:
https://www.unacpeace.org/support-syria-statement.html

August 26, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , | 1 Comment

Lots of Smoke Here, Hillary

By Pat Buchanan • Unz Review • August 26, 2016

Prediction: If Hillary Clinton wins, within a year of her inauguration, she will be under investigation by a special prosecutor on charges of political corruption, thereby continuing a family tradition.

For consider what the Associated Press reported this week:

The surest way for a person with private interests to get a meeting with Secretary of State Clinton, or a phone call returned by her, it seems, was to dump a bundle of cash into the Clinton Foundation.

Of 154 outsiders whom Clinton phoned or met with in her first two years at State, 85 had made contributions to the Clinton Foundation, and their contributions, taken together, totaled $156 million.

Conclusion: Access to Secretary of State Clinton could be bought, but it was not cheap. Forty of the 85 donors gave $100,000 or more. Twenty of those whom Clinton met with or phoned dumped in $1 million or more.

To get to the seventh floor of the Clinton State Department for a hearing for one’s plea, the cover charge was high.

Among those who got face time with Hillary Clinton were a Ukrainian oligarch and steel magnate who shipped oil pipe to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions and a Bangladeshi economist who was under investigation by his government and was eventually pressured to leave his own bank.

The stench is familiar, and all too Clintonian in character.

Recall. On his last day in office, Jan. 20, 2001, Bill Clinton issued a presidential pardon to financier-crook and fugitive from justice Marc Rich, whose wife, Denise, had contributed $450,000 to the Clinton Library.

The Clintons appear belatedly to have recognized their political peril.

Bill has promised that, if Hillary is elected, he will end his big dog days at the foundation and stop taking checks from foreign regimes and entities, and corporate donors. Cash contributions from wealthy Americans will still be gratefully accepted.

One wonders: Will Bill be writing thank-you notes for the millions that will roll in to the family foundation — on White House stationery?

By his actions, Bill is all but conceding that there is a serious conflict of interest between his foundation raking in millions that enhance the family’s prestige and sustain its travel and lifestyle, while providing its big donors with privileged access to the secretary of state.

Yet if Hillary Clinton becomes president, the scheme is unsustainable. Even the Obama-Clinton media might not be able to stomach this.

And even Clinton seems to be conceding the game is up. “I know there’s a lot of smoke, and there’s no fire,” she said in self-defense this week.

She is certainly right about the smoke.

And if, as Democratic apparatchik Steve McMahon assures us that there is “no smoking gun,” no quid-pro-quo, no open-and-shut case of Secretary Clinton taking official action in gratitude to a donor of the family foundation, how can we predict a special prosecutor?

Answer: We are not at the end of this scandal. We are at what Churchill called the “end of the beginning.”

Missing emails are being unearthed at State, through Freedom of Information Act requests, that are filling out the picture Clinton thought had been blotted out when her 33,000 “private” emails were erased by her lawyers.

Someone out there, Julian Assange, Russia, or the rogue websites doing all this hacking, are believed to have many more explosive emails they are preparing to drop before Election Day.

And why is Clinton keeping her State Department calendar secret from the AP, if it does not contain meetings or calls she does not want to defend? She has defied requests and the AP had to sue to get the schedule of her first two years at State.

Moreover, the AP story on the State Department-Clinton Foundation links was so stunning it is sure to trigger follow-up by investigative journalists who can smell a Pulitzer.

Then there are the contacts between Huma Abedin, her closest aide at State, and Doug Band at the Clinton Foundation, the go-betweens for the donor-Clinton meetings, which has opened a new avenue for investigators.

These were unearthed by Judicial Watch, which is not going away.

The number of persons of interest involved in this suppurating scandal, which has gone from an illicit server, to a panoply of Clinton lies to the public that disgusted the FBI director, to erased emails, to “pay for play,” and now deep into the Clinton Foundation continues to grow.

All that is needed now, to bring us to an independent counsel, is calls for the FBI to reopen and broaden its investigation in light of all that has been revealed since Director Comey said there was not evidence enough to recommend an indictment.

If Clinton controls the Justice Department, calls for a special prosecutor will be resisted, but only until public demand becomes too great.

For there were independent counsels called in Watergate, Iran-Contra and the scandals that led to the impeachment of Bill Clinton.

Hillary Clinton says there is no fire. But something is causing all that smoke.


Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of the new book “The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.”

Copyright 2016 Creators.com.

August 26, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

Negroponte’s Crimes

By Branko Marcetic | Jacobin | August 16, 2016

Among the right-wingers that have jumped the Republican ship and thrown their support behind Hillary Clinton in the last few months, you’ll find neoconservatives and warmongers who have vocally supported just about every heinous US foreign policy venture under the sun, from the Iraq War to Libya to torture. But though their cheerleading may have been valuable in the push for these actions, few can claim direct responsibility in the making of these disasters.

Not so for John Negroponte, the former career diplomat who served under four Republican presidents and one Democrat and whose support for Clinton was announced last week.

The endorsements of Clinton by right-wing hall-of-famers like Negroponte have not come about entirely out of nowhere. It’s true that many elements of Clinton’s foreign policy appeal to the interventionist and neocon wing of the Republican Party.

Nonetheless, as Politico reported last week, the Clinton campaign has been actively courting leading lights of the GOP, culminating in last week’s launch of “Together for America,” a site touting the growing list of high-profile Republicans and independents backing Clinton.

This is a curious development, given that in the very first Democratic debate of 2015, Clinton proclaimed that the enemies she was most proud of making throughout her career were “the Republicans,” a line that drew both raucous cheers from the crowd and a broad smile from the candidate herself.

Given her stated animosity toward Republicans, seeking out the support of someone like Negroponte presumably must be very valuable for Clinton. But who exactly is Negroponte, and why has Clinton prized the endorsement of someone like him?

Reagan’s Man in Tegucigalpa

The son of a Greek shipping magnate, Negroponte cut his diplomatic teeth in Vietnam, where he served under future Clinton mentor and war criminal Henry Kissinger (another luminary whom Clinton’s campaign is now reportedly wooing for an endorsement) during the Paris peace talks.

While Kissinger helped Nixon to win in 1968 by secretly scuttling peace negotiations with North Vietnam, once in power, both wanted eventually to get the United States out of the war, mostly out of concern for how a continuing quagmire would hurt Nixon politically. Negroponte challenged him about a concession in the peace agreement that allowed the North Vietnamese to station troops in the South after US withdrawal.

“Do you want us to stay there forever?” Kissinger asked the young Negroponte. The United States’ years of bloodletting in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos apparently wasn’t enough for Negroponte.

Negroponte worked for several years in a number of less prominent diplomatic positions, owing, at least in one observer’s view, to being “exiled” by Kissinger because of his break with the secretary of state over Vietnam.

Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980 gave Negroponte his big break.

Under Reagan, Latin American politics took a hard right turn, which his administration enabled by sending aid, arms, and, in the case of Grenada, troops to assist right-wing governments and forces — nearly all of which aided in scores of human rights atrocities.

In 1981, Reagan made Negroponte the US ambassador to Honduras. Negroponte had held earlier posts in Greece and Ecuador; Honduras was the big leagues.

In 1980, neighboring El Salvador had plunged into civil war between leftist guerillas and a quasi-fascist, US-backed military government and its right-wing paramilitary forces that included death squads. A year earlier, its other neighbor, Nicaragua, had seen its US-backed dictator deposed and replaced by the socialist Sandinista government.

The Sandinistas were opposed by a coalition of brutally violent counterrevolutionaries that included former members of the National Guard, ex-soldiers, Conservative Party members, and disgruntled peasants and farmers. They were known as the Contras, later of Iran-Contra fame.

In both countries, the Reagan administration threw in with the right-wing torturers and murderers.

The action was principally in Nicaragua and El Salvador, but Negroponte had not been relegated to some insignificant backwater. Honduras was central to the Reagan administration’s efforts to halt the spread of leftist rule in Central America, serving as the home base for its covert war against the Left in the region. Honduras had one of the largest US embassies in Latin America, hosted thousands of American troops, and eventually housed the biggest CIA station in the entire world.

Although Honduras had a civilian government — its first in more than a century — the military remained powerful, and General Gustavo Alvarez, the chief of the armed forces, held considerable sway. Under Alvarez, Honduras became the training ground and headquarters for the Contras and other right-wing forces, who were then sent to wreak havoc in Nicaragua and El Salvador.

It was also where budding members of Honduran death squads received their schooling, including the notorious Battalion 3-16, responsible for the disappearance of at least 184 people, mostly leftists, and the torture of many more.

All of this was done with the support of the United States and its man on the ground, Negroponte.

US military aid to Honduras increased from $4 million to $200 million between 1980 and 1985, and the Reagan administration paid top Honduran military brass for their assistance. Repressive forces, including Battalion 3-16, were trained by the CIA and FBI, and the United States provided the money to hire Argentinian counterinsurgency officers — involved in their own US-backed, horrific, decade-long “Dirty War” against leftists — to provide further instruction.

The “coercive techniques” they learned were partly taken from CIA interrogation manuals that advocated using threats of violence and disruption of “patterns of time, space and sensory perception” against prisoners.

With this training in their back pocket, these US-backed Honduran forces proceeded to cut a swath of brutality across the country and its neighbors. Within Honduras, hundreds of people suspected of being subversives were kidnapped, tortured, disappeared, or all three. All of it was known, and quietly approved, by Negroponte.

The torture endured by prisoners covered just about the entire spectrum of depravity, including suffocation, beatings, sleep deprivation, electrocution of the genitals, rape, and the threat of rape toward family members. In one case, military forces used rope to tear off a man’s testicles before killing him.

People were picked up off the street and thrown into unmarked vans. Some victims were completely innocent, such as a union organizer who was befriended and betrayed by a battalion member who knowingly turned him over to security forces under false charges.

Military forces barged into homes, ransacked them, and arrested the occupants if they found Marxist literature. And the Contras, who Ronald Reagan called the “moral equals of our Founding Fathers,” were possibly even worse.

Negroponte played a key role in covering up all of this. As the ambassador, Negroponte’s job was to ensure that the abuses committed by Honduran forces remained unknown to US lawmakers and the general public so they could continue unabated.

Had Congress caught wind of the atrocities, the government would have had to shut off the flow of tens of millions of dollars of military aid to the country, which, under the Foreign Assistance Act, is prohibited to governments engaging in human rights violations. This was the last thing Negroponte and the Reagan administration wanted. They were bent on defeating the leftists, and if that required turning a blind eye to widespread torture, rape, and murder, so be it.

The Reagan administration’s grand strategy was enabled by a steady stream of obfuscation from the Honduran embassy and Negroponte himself.

In one 1983 cable to Thomas Enders, an assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs, Negroponte chided the State Department for talking openly about the Contra presence in Honduras. “Since when, in open channel messages, do we refer to United States support for Honduran based exiles as Department does in para four reftel?” he wrote.

At the time, the Reagan administration’s support for the Contras was still secret; Negroponte likely did not want references to them to appear in state documents that were subject to open records requests.

In another, this one from 1984, he advised the secretary of state on how Washington agencies could help suppress wider knowledge of the actions of the Contras in Honduras, who had “obviously overdone things” and needed “to lower [their] profile to the absolute minimum.”

Publicly, Negroponte consistently whitewashed this “overdoing.” He wrote to the Economist in 1982 that “it is simply untrue to state that death squads have made their appearance in Honduras.”

A year later, he wrote an article for the Los Angeles Times acknowledging that while there had been “arbitrary arrests” and “some disappearances,” there was “no indication that the infrequent human rights violations that do occur are part of deliberate government policy.”

As late as 2001, he continued to insist on this point, telling the Senate at his confirmation hearing to be Bush’s ambassador to the United Nations: “I have never seen any convincing substantiation that [Battalion 3-16] were involved in death squad-type activities.”

Consequently, the annual human rights reports produced for Congress by the Honduran embassy under Negroponte’s watch were sanitized to the point of parody, as these excerpts from the 1983 edition illustrate: “There are no political prisoners in Honduras”; habeas corpus “appears to be standard practice”; “access to prisoners is generally not a problem for relatives, attorneys, consular officers or international humanitarian organizations”; “sanctity of the home is guaranteed by the Constitution and generally observed.”

Noting the obvious absurdity and transparent lies of the report, one embassy officer joked at the time, “What is this, the human rights report for Norway?”

Suppressing the Evidence

Of course, Negroponte knew very well that conditions in the country were the very opposite of how he portrayed them. It was virtually impossible for him not to.

The Honduran press put out hundreds of stories about military abuses, victims’ families protested in the streets, and both they and Honduran officials pleaded with US officials for intervention — including with Negroponte himself. As soon as Negroponte took over, Jack Binns, his predecessor, personally briefed him on the atrocities he’d learned of — and unlike Negroponte, had made noise about with higher-ups.

The ambassador stayed up to date on the latest barbarities. In 1982, when the embassy press spokesman informed Negroponte that the Honduras military had kidnapped and was busy torturing a prominent journalist and his wife, Negroponte intervened on their behalf — not out of a concern for human rights, but because of the potential damage the US program would suffer if word of the incident got out. The prisoners were released and allowed to leave to the United States on the condition they never spoke about their experience.

The episode was left out of that year’s originally damning embassy report, which high-ranking officials at the embassy cleansed of all references to Honduran abuses.

As a 1997 report by the CIA inspector general made clear, the embassy under Negroponte regularly suppressed inconvenient information about the Honduran military. In 1984–85, several reports “were identified as ‘politically sensitive’ by the Embassy, which requested either their non-publication or restricted dissemination.”

In 1983, read the report, “unspecified individuals at the Embassy did not want information concerning human rights abuses during [a Honduran military operation] to be disseminated because it was viewed as an internal Honduran matter.”

The report outlined how Negroponte personally “was sensitive to political ramifications that might have resulted” from reports on the Olancho Operation, which resulted in the death — possibly an execution — of an American priest. It also documented his concern that “over-emphasis would create an unwarranted human rights problem for Honduras.” It was all part of Negroponte’s aim “to manage the perception of Honduras,” as one officer quoted in the report put it.

In fact, embassy cables that were declassified many years later as part of a Freedom of Information Act request by the Washington Post show that Negroponte did much more than just suppress damaging information. Despite the Sandinistas’ repeatedly stated willingness to enter negotiations with the Contras to reach a settlement, the Honduran ambassador consistently argued against them, calling negotiations a “Trojan horse” that would help consolidate the Sandinista revolution.

The Contadora Process, the peace negotiations initiated by several Latin American states in 1983, would lead to “effectively shutting down our special project,” he warned. Rather than take the Sandinistas up on their offer to end the torture and bloodshed that US-backed forces were responsible for, Negroponte pushed hard to keep them going.

Straying far from the typical duties of an ambassador, Negroponte appeared at times to direct US support of the Contras. In one cable he suggested publicizing US contact with anti-Sandinista forces and stepping up action in Nicaragua’s southern front in order to counter the idea that “all of this is emanating from Honduras.”

In another, he furnished the State Department with detailed information about Sandinista military movements on the Honduran and Nicaraguan border. Speaking with Honduran president Roberto Suazo Córdova in April 1982, Negroponte “urged that strongest possible pre-emptive measure be taken” to prevent revolutionary violence from “taking on unmanageable proportions later on” — a tacit encouragement of the abuses already being committed by the Honduran military.

Negroponte’s enabling of rights violations in the country was exposed thanks to the declassification of secret documents many years after the fact, as well as a fourteen-month-long investigation by the Baltimore Sun in 1995. But what should have been a scandal only boosted Negroponte’s status in Washington.

A Diplomat’s Diplomat

Among his later career highlights, Negroponte was appointed ambassador to Mexico in 1989 by George H. W. Bush, in which position he helped facilitate the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). (Unsurprisingly, he’s also a fan of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP.)

He went on to serve in a number of different posts in the second Bush administration, including as the first ever director of national intelligence and as the first post-Saddam ambassador to Iraq. Despite faint stirrings of criticism about his past, he was easily confirmed to each position.

In establishment circles, he’s simply a “diplomat’s diplomat,” a venerated elder statesman whose hand in terrible human rights abuses is as relevant as his shoe size. As his wife put it in 2004 to the critics still taking him to task for the carnage he licensed in Central America: “Haven’t you moved on?”

Perhaps people have moved on, which is why Clinton now feels it safe to seek out and publicize Negroponte’s praise for her “leadership qualities.”

It’s hard not to see in the publicizing of the endorsement a less-than-subtle hint of what a Clinton administration foreign policy would look like, however — one that ruthlessly prioritizes US strategic and political interests at the expense of peace, human rights, and the lives of poor people in foreign countries.

Say what you will about Clinton’s shifting political beliefs over the course of this election and her entire career, but she’s been fairly consistent on foreign policy, pushing the kind of unapologetically interventionist approach that made her the darling of hawks long before Trump came along.

And like Negroponte, she has both her own dubious history in Honduras and has backed both NAFTA and the TPP (at least until she — maybe — changed her mind about the latter). On these issues, they’re kindred political spirits.

Clinton’s embrace of Negroponte’s support could be viewed as simply part of the tried-and-true process of padding one’s resume with endorsements from respected establishment figures. Some would say Negroponte’s support doesn’t really matter — that it’s just pageantry, not remotely a sign of her future foreign policy intentions.

Even if we grant this, however, seeking and embracing the support of a man who actively facilitated years of stomach-churning atrocities is particularly unseemly — as Democrats and Clinton herself have argued in the recent past. The party has smugly — and justifiably — pilloried Trump for his praise of authoritarian rulers like Putin and Saddam Hussein.

“Donald Trump’s praise for brutal strongmen seemingly knows no bounds,” read a Clinton campaign statement last month, which also criticized Trump for approvingly citing Saddam’s dismissal of legal formalities like reading people their rights. “Trump’s cavalier compliments for brutal dictators, and the twisted lessons he seems to have learned from their history, again demonstrate how dangerous he would be as Commander-in-Chief and how unworthy he is of the office he seeks.”

Compliment brutal dictators and Clinton will slam you. But actually help them carry out their abuses, as John Negroponte did, and her campaign will seek and proudly tout your support.

August 26, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders

By David Swanson | War Is A Crime | August 26, 2016

ABC Television’s 20/20 will air a program on Friday called “The Girl Left Behind,” the main thrust of which is already apparent on ABC’s website.

The horribly tragic story is that of Kayla Mueller, an American held hostage and reportedly raped and tortured by ISIS before dying — it’s unclear how, possibly at the hands of ISIS, possibly killed by bombs dropped by U.S. ally Jordan.

Another hostage who was freed reported that ISIS blamed Kayla Mueller for U.S. actions in the Middle East. Among those actions, we learned this week, was imprisoning future ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi at Abu Ghraib, not just at Camp Bucca as previously reported.

Mueller, like fellow ISIS victim James Foley, meant well and was in Syria to try to help people nonviolently. But U.S. policy has made it unsafe for Americans to travel to many places.

ABC will seek to pin blame for what happened to Mueller on Doctors Without Borders. She was kidnapped out of a Doctors Without Borders car, and that organization negotiated the freedom of its employees while refusing to help Mueller or even to trust her family enough to share with them information intended for them from ISIS.

But Doctors Without Borders was in Syria to help people and appears to have meant well. Blaming the doctors is easy to overdo here, and not just because the United States has been bombing its hospitals — acts that may not involve rape or torture, but do involve murder and maiming. The U.S. government could have helped Mueller by never having destroyed Iraq in the first place, never having sought to overthrow Syria, never having overthrown Libya, or never having flooded the region with weapons. Or the U.S. government could have negotiated with ISIS or allowed victims’ families to do so — something it now allows, too late for Kayla Mueller. Or the U.S. government could have announced new policies that ISIS would likely have accepted as ransom.

ISIS asked, in exchange for Mueller’s freedom, for the freedom of Aafia Siddiqui or $5 million Euros. If the U.S. government had, instead, offered an apology to the victims of its wars and prison camps, and massive reparations to the region, ISIS might very well have responded in kind. Instead, the U.S. government proceeded to bomb people, including many civilians, for a cost many times greater than $5 million Euros.

The telling of Mueller’s story is, in itself, worthwhile. But the focus on an American victim of a war that is victimizing all kinds of people fuels dangerous attitudes. Focusing on the crimes of ISIS, but not of Saudi Arabia or Bahrain or, for that matter, the United States, looks like propaganda for more war. When a New Yorker like Jeffrey Epstein rapes, nobody proposes to bomb New York, but when Baghdadi allegedly rapes, the appropriate response is widely understood to be bombing people.

I don’t think the suffering of Kayla Mueller or James Foley should be used to justify the infliction of more suffering. As 9/11 victims have been used as a justification to kill hundreds of times the number of people killed on 9/11, some of the victims’ relatives have pushed back. James Foley is pushing back from the grave. Posted online is a video of Foley talking about the lies that are needed to launch wars, including the manipulation of people into thinking of foreigners as less than human. Foley’s killers may have thought of him as less than human. He may not have viewed them the same way.

The video shows Foley in Chicago helping the late Haskell Wexler with his film Four Days in Chicago — a film about a protest of NATO. I was there in Chicago for the march and rally against NATO. And I met Wexler who tried unsuccessfully to find funding for a film version of my book War Is A Lie.

In the video you can watch Foley discussing the limitations of embedded reporting, the power of veteran resistance, veterans he met at Occupy, the absence of a good justification for the wars, the dehumanization needed before people can be killed, the shallowness of media coverage — watch all of that and then try to imagine James Foley accepting the use of his killing as propaganda for more fighting.

When Foley’s mother sought to ransom him, the U.S. government repeatedly threatened her with prosecution. So, instead of Foley’s mother paying a relatively small amount and possibly saving her son, ISIS goes on getting its funding from oil sales and supporters in the Gulf and free weapons from, among elsewhere, the United States and its allies. And we’re going to collectively spend millions, probably billions, and likely trillions of dollars furthering the cycle of violence that Foley risked his life to expose.

August 26, 2016 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment