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Don’t Call the Cops If You’re Autistic, Deaf, Mentally Ill, Disabled or Old

By John W. Whitehead | Rutherford Institute | October 24, 2017

“Anyone who cares for someone with a developmental disability, as well as for disabled people themselves [lives] every day in fear that their behavior will be misconstrued as suspicious, intoxicated or hostile by law enforcement.”—Steve Silberman, The New York Times

Life in the American police state is an endless series of don’ts delivered at the end of a loaded gun: don’t talk back to police officers, don’t even think about defending yourself against a SWAT team raid (of which there are 80,000 every year), don’t run when a cop is nearby lest you be mistaken for a fleeing criminal, don’t carry a cane lest it be mistaken for a gun, don’t expect privacy in public, don’t let your kids walk to the playground alone, don’t engage in nonviolent protest near where a government official might pass, don’t try to grow vegetables in your front yard, don’t play music for tips in a metro station, don’t feed whales, and on and on.

Here’s another don’t to the add the growing list of things that could get you or a loved one tasered, shot or killed, especially if you are autistic, hearing impaired, mentally ill, elderly, suffer from dementia, disabled or have any other condition that might hinder your ability to understand, communicate or immediately comply with an order: don’t call the cops.

Sometimes it’s dangerous enough calling the cops when you’re not contending with a disability.

For instance, Justine Damond called 911 to report a disturbance and ended up dead after police dispatched to investigate instead shot the 40-year-old yoga instructor. Likewise, Carl Williams called 911 to report a robbery and ended up being shot by police, who mistook him for a robber in his own home.

Unfortunately, the risks just skyrocket when a disability is involved.

Nancy Schrock called 911 for help after her husband, Tom, who suffered with mental health issues, started stalking around the backyard, upending chairs and screaming about demons. Several times before, police had transported Tom to the hospital, where he was medicated and sent home after 72 hours. This time, Tom was tasered twice. He collapsed, lost consciousness and died.

The Schrocks are not alone in this experience.

Indeed, disabled individuals make up a third to half of all people killed by law enforcement officers.

That’s according to a study by the Ruderman Family Foundation,  which reports that “disabled individuals make up the majority of those killed in use-of-force cases that attract widespread attention. This is true both for cases deemed illegal or against policy and for those in which officers are ultimately fully exonerated… Many more disabled civilians experience non-lethal violence and abuse at the hands of law enforcement officers.”

Trained to shoot first and ask questions later, police pose a risk to anyone with special needs whose disabilities may not be immediately apparent or require more finesse than the typical freeze-or-I’ll-shoot tactics employed by America’s police forces.

For example, in South Carolina, police tasered an 86-year-old grandfather reportedly in the early stages of dementia, while he was jogging backwards away from them. Now this happened after Albert Chatfield led police on a car chase, running red lights and turning randomly. However, at the point that police chose to shock the old man with electric charges, he was out of the car, on his feet, and outnumbered by police officers much younger than him.

In Georgia, campus police shot and killed a 21-year-old student who was suffering a mental health crisis. Scout Schultz was shot through the heart by campus police when he approached four of them late one night while holding a pocketknife, shouting “Shoot me!” Although police may have feared for their lives, the blade was still in its closed position.

In Oklahoma, police shot and killed a 35-year-old deaf man seen holding a two-foot metal pipe on his front porch (he used the pipe to fend off stray dogs while walking). Despite the fact that witnesses warned police that Magdiel Sanchez couldn’t hear—and thus comply—with their shouted orders to drop the pipe and get on the ground, police shot the man when he was about 15 feet away from them.

In Maryland, police (moonlighting as security guards) used extreme force to eject a 26-year-old man with Downs Syndrome and a low IQ from a movie theater after the man insisted on sitting through a second screening of a film. Autopsy results indicate that Ethan Saylor died of complications arising from asphyxiation, likely caused by a chokehold.

In Florida, police armed with assault rifles fired three shots at a 27-year-old nonverbal, autistic man who was sitting on the ground, playing with a toy truck. Police missed the autistic man and instead shot his behavioral therapist, Charles Kinsey, who had been trying to get him back to his group home. The therapist, bleeding from a gunshot wound, was then handcuffed and left lying face down on the ground for 20 minutes.

In Texas, police handcuffed, tasered and then used a baton to subdue a 7-year-old student who has severe ADHD and a mood disorder. With school counselors otherwise occupied, school officials called police and the child’s mother to assist after Yosio Lopez started banging his head on a wall. The police arrived first.

In New Mexico, police tasered, then opened fire on a 38-year-old homeless man who suffered from schizophrenia, all in an attempt to get James Boyd to leave a makeshift campsite. Boyd’s death provoked a wave of protests over heavy-handed law enforcement tactics.

In Ohio, police forcefully subdued a 37-year-old bipolar woman wearing only a nightgown in near-freezing temperatures who was neither armed, violent, intoxicated, nor suspected of criminal activity. After being slammed onto the sidewalk, handcuffed and left unconscious on the street, Tanisha Anderson died as a result of being restrained in a prone position.

And in North Carolina, a state trooper shot and killed a 29-year-old deaf motorist after he failed to pull over during a traffic stop. Daniel K. Harris was shot after exiting his car, allegedly because the trooper feared he might be reaching for a weapon.

These cases, and the hundreds—if not thousands—more that go undocumented every year speak to a crisis in policing when it comes to law enforcement’s failure to adequately assess, de-escalate and manage encounters with special needs or disabled individuals.

While the research is relatively scant, what has been happening is telling.

Over the course of six months, police shot and killed someone who was in mental crisis every 36 hours.

Among 124 police killings analyzed by The Washington Post in which mental illness appeared to be a factor, “They were overwhelmingly men, more than half of them white. Nine in 10 were armed with some kind of weapon, and most died close to home.”

But there were also important distinctions, reports the Post.

This group was more likely to wield a weapon less lethal than a firearm. Six had toy guns; 3 in 10 carried a blade, such as a knife or a machete — weapons that rarely prove deadly to police officers. According to data maintained by the FBI and other organizations, only three officers have been killed with an edged weapon in the past decade. Nearly a dozen of the mentally distraught people killed were military veterans, many of them suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of their service, according to police or family members. Another was a former California Highway Patrol officer who had been forced into retirement after enduring a severe beating during a traffic stop that left him suffering from depression and PTSD. And in 45 cases, police were called to help someone get medical treatment, or after the person had tried and failed to get treatment on his own.

The U.S. Supreme Court, as might be expected, has thus far continued to immunize police against charges of wrongdoing when it comes to use of force against those with a mental illness.

In a 2015 ruling, the Court declared that police could not be sued for forcing their way into a mentally ill woman’s room at a group home and shooting her five times when she advanced on them them with a knife. The justices did not address whether police must take special precautions when arresting mentally ill individuals. (The Americans with Disabilities Act requires “reasonable accommodations” for people with mental illnesses, which in this case might have been less confrontational tactics.)

Where does this leave us?

For starters, we need better police training across the board, but especially when it comes to de-escalation tactics and crisis intervention.

A study by the National Institute of Mental Health found that CIT (Crisis Intervention Team)-trained officers made fewer arrests, used less force, and connected more people with mental-health services than their non-trained peers.

As The Washington Post points out:

“Although new recruits typically spend nearly 60 hours learning to handle a gun, according to a recent survey by the Police Executive Research Forum, they receive only eight hours of training to de-escalate tense situations and eight hours learning strategies for handling the mentally ill. Otherwise, police are taught to employ tactics that tend to be counterproductive in such encounters, experts said. For example, most officers are trained to seize control when dealing with an armed suspect, often through stern, shouted commands. But yelling and pointing guns is ‘like pouring gasoline on a fire when you do that with the mentally ill,’ said Ron Honberg, policy director with the National Alliance on Mental Illness.”

Second, police need to learn how to slow confrontations down, instead of ramping up the tension (and the noise).

After Ethan Saylor’s death in Maryland, police recruits are now required to take a four-hour course in which they learn “de-escalation tactics” for dealing with disabled individuals: speak calmly, give space, be patient.

One officer in charge of the Los Angeles Police Department’s “mental response teams” suggests that instead of rushing to take someone into custody, police should try to slow things down and persuade the person to come with them.

Third, with all the questionable funds flowing to police departments these days, why not use some of those funds to establish what one disability-rights activist describes as “a 911-type number dedicated to handling mental-health emergencies, with community crisis-response teams at the ready rather than police officers.”

In the end, while we need to make encounters with police officers safer for people with disabilities, what we really need is to make encounters with police safer for citizens across the board, no matter how they’re packaged.

As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the problem is not that police officers are inherently bad—in fact, there are many good, caring officers in law enforcement—but when cops are trained to be military warriors instead of peace officers, we’re all viewed as potential threats.

ABOUT JOHN W. WHITEHEAD

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People (SelectBooks, 2015) is available online at http://www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at johnw@rutherford.org.

October 25, 2017 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

BILD Newspaper’s Image ‘Shows How German Propaganda Works’

Sputnik – October 25, 2017

Das BILD’s decision to release a controversial image of a suffering Syrian child is a “mean attempt” to manipulate the public opinion, German journalist Karin Leukefeld wrote for Sputnik, commenting on the newspaper’s recent publication that deeply shocked her.

The editor-in-chief of the German newspaper Das Bild, Julian Reichelt, published in his newsletter a photo that depicts a Syrian nurse with a seriously ill or possibly even dead child in her arms.

The picture is accompanied by text: “Assad the Dictator continues to wage war against his own people.”

German political observer Karin Leukefeld reacted to the publication by saying that this is an example of how the German propaganda machine works.

Bashar al-Assad, the ruler of power, is leading his inexorable war against his own people.

“Bashar al-Assad, the ruler of power, is leading his inexorable war against his own people.” © Photo: BILD

In fact, the image that was taken in the village of Hamuria located 17 kilometers from Damascus has little to do with the Syrian leader himself, but is rather associated with the hostilities of the terrorist groups that have the village under control, the lack of medical care and the passivity of the West, the journalist noted. Since 2012, Hamuria has been occupied by several radical armed groups. The settlement is currently under control of Islamist group Faylaq al-Rahman. The overwhelming majority of the civilian population fled the city and is now living in Damascus or its suburbs, but those who stayed have to live without proper medical care and in constant fear for their lives.

“There is no shortage of weapons, ammunition and insurgents in the besieged territories. But the situation with medicaments and food is the opposite. The fact is that countless children have died and are dying all over Syria…. People were and are starving in all parts of the country. And they can’t get help — not least because of Western sanctions, which become increasingly tough — and Germany is also responsible for this,” Leukefeld wrote.

Moreover, the analyst stressed that, according to international humanitarian law, this photo couldn’t be published at all as “distributing pictures of weak, defenseless, sick or dead people for the purpose of propaganda is forbidden.”In Leukefeld’s opinion, especially “disgusting” is the fact that the German newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief Julian Reichelt used an innocent child to impose his point of view.

“This child can’t prevent all this,” the journalist wrote, adding that readers who see the photo and read the short text won’t ask themselves whether the child is sick and how they might be able to help him, but rather they’ll put the blame for this child’s fate on the Syrian president.

Leukefeld noted that Reichelt’s main goal was to “evoke feelings of hatred and hostility,” adding that his message was a clear example of propaganda that “must be included into the curriculum for beginning journalists.”

October 25, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

Canada must stop subsidizing this racist, colonial, institution

By Yves Engler · October 24, 2017

Imagine if there were an organization called the White National Fund that raised tens of millions of dollars each year from Canadians to buy land in the US to be held exclusively for people of European descent. WNF land couldn’t be leased or sold to anyone who they didn’t consider “white”. Would it be acceptable to give such an organization charitable status so donors received tax breaks?

While similar exclusionary land policies are its raison d’être, Jewish National Fund apologists in Canada claim it is racist to highlight the organization’s discrimination.

In a recent commentary on Jagmeet Singh’s embrace of imperialist NDP foreign critic Hélène Laverdière I pointed out that she “participated in a ceremony put on by the head of the explicitly racist Jewish National Fund during a visit to Israel” in November.

An individual on my Facebook had the temerity to respond: “Yves Engler would do well to more thoroughly research the long and positive history, aims and accomplishments of the Jewish National Fund, before branding it with his own thinly veiled anti-Semitism, by describing (and underlining) it as ‘explicitly racist’.” (My “underlining” was a link to supporting evidence.)

The Green Party was smeared in a similar fashion when members proposed a resolution calling on the Canada Revenue Agency to revoke the JNF’s charitable status because of its discrimination against non-Jews in Israel through its bylaws which prohibit the lease or sale of its lands to non-Jews.” In a National Post op-ed last summer then JNF head Josh Cooper accused the Greens’ of discrimination and a commentary published by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs directly labeled the party “anti-Semitic”.

JNF officials responded in a similar way after a 2013 protest against the organization in Colorado. KKL-JNF World Chairman Efi Stenzler said, “attacks and demonstrations against us [Jews] have picked up momentum of late, we [JNF] are targeted first and foremost because we are helping to realize the Zionist vision.”

The chutzpah of JNF apologists’ beggars belief. JNF racism is not concealed; it is, in fact, the organization’s raison d’être. The US State Department, UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Israeli Supreme Court are all on record regarding the discriminatory policies of the JNF, which controls 13% of Israel’s land and has significant influence over most of the rest. Indicative of its discrimination against the over 20% of Israelis who aren’t Jewish, JNF Canada’s Twitter tag says it “is the caretaker of the land of Israel, on behalf of its owners  — Jewish people everywhere.” Its parent organization in Israel — the Keren Kayemet LeYisrael — is even more open about its racism. Its website notes that “a survey commissioned by KKL-JNF reveals that over 70% of the Jewish population in Israel opposes allocating KKL-JNF land to non-Jews, while over 80% prefer the definition of Israel as a Jewish state, rather than as the state of all its citizens.”

The JNF is an openly Jewish supremacist organization operating in a Jewish/white supremacist state. Think KKK during Jim Crow in the US South. But, in the JNF’s case proponents of the racist organization smear internationalist/universalist critics as discriminatory!

The JNF provides a stark example of the ethnocratic blinders that Zionism has placed on large swaths of Canada’s Jewish community. Seven decades ago Jewish individuals and groups fought against discriminatory land use policies in this country while today thousands attend JNF fundraisers across the country. In the most famous challenge to discriminatory land covenants, in 1948 Annie Noble decided to sell a cottage in the exclusive Beach O’ Pines subdivision on Lake Huron to Bernie Wolf, who was Jewish. During the sale Wolf’s lawyer realized that the original deed for the property restricted sale to “any person wholly or partly of negro, Asiatic, coloured or Semitic blood.” The deed further explained: “The land and premises herein described shall never be sold, assigned, transferred, leased, rented or in any manner whatsoever alienated to and shall never be occupied or used in any manner whatsoever by any person of the Jewish, Hebrew, Semitic, negro or coloured race or blood, it being the intention and purpose of the Grantor, to restrict the ownership, use, occupation and enjoyment of the said recreational development, including the lands and premises herein described to person of the white or Caucasian race not excluded by this clause.”

Noble and Wolf tried to get the court to declare the restriction invalid but they were opposed by the Beach O’Pines Protective Association. Both a Toronto court and the Ontario Court of Appeal refused to invalidate the racist covenant. But Noble pursued the case — with assistance from the Canadian Jewish Congress — to the Supreme Court of Canada. In a six-to-one decision the highest court reversed the lower courts’ ruling and allowed Noble to purchase the property.

Were the judges who voided the discriminatory land covenant “anti-Caucasian”? Of course not.

If the JNF disappeared or Israel outlawed discriminatory land policies would Israeli Jews become oppressed? Hardly.

But, myself and other Canadian critics haven’t even called for the JNF to be outlawed. Notwithstanding the anti-Semitism smears, the above-mentioned Green Party resolution or Independent Jewish Voices’ JNF campaign simply calls on the Canadian state to stop subsidizing its discrimination (and implicitly for public representatives in this country to stop participating in JNF events). As far as I’m aware, no one has called for the organization to be banned, its executives to be investigated for contravening Canadian law or for the land and assets it controls to be seized.

Eventually the JNF’s charitable status will be revoked. Taxpayers can’t be expected to subsidize discriminatory land-use policies in Israel forever. At some point groups and individuals who claim to oppose racism will stop running scared of “anti-Semitism” insults and will add their voice to Independent Jewish Voices political and legal challenge of the JNF’s charitable status.

For the Palestinian solidarity movement the campaign to revoke the JNF’s charitable status is important beyond winning the specific demand. It draws attention to the racism intrinsic to Zionism and highlights Canada’s contribution to Palestinian dispossession.

The campaign to revoke the JNF’s charitable status is simply a call for the Canadian state to stop subsidizing an explicitly racist, colonial, institution. There is nothing anti-Jewish in that.

October 25, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Harmful Effects of Antifa. Crisis of America’s Left

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By Diana Johnstone | Global Research | October 24, 2017

An historic opportunity is being missed. The disastrous 2016 presidential election could and should have been a wakeup call. A corrupt political system that gave voters a choice between two terrible candidates is not democracy.

This should have been the signal to face reality. The U.S. political system is totally rotten, contemptuous of the people, serving the corporations and lobbies that pay to keep them in office. The time had come to organize a genuine alternative, an independent movement to liberate the electoral system from the grip of billionaires, to demand a transition from a war economy to an economy dedicated to improving the lives of the people who live here. What is needed is a movement for the pacification of America, at home and abroad.

That is a big order. Yet this approach could meet with wide support, especially if vigorous young people organized to stimulate popular debate, between real live people, from door to door if necessary, creating a mass movement for genuine democracy, equality and peace. This is as revolutionary a program as possible in the present circumstances. A moribund left should be coming back to life to take the lead in building such a movement.

Quite the opposite is happening.

Provoking a new Civil War?

The first step toward preventing such a constructive movement was a false interpretation of the meaning of the Trump victory, massively promoted by mainstream media. This was essentially the Clintonite excuse for Hillary’s loss. Trump’s victory, according to this line, was the product of a convergence between Russian interference and the votes of “misogynists, racists, homophobes, xenophobes, and white supremacists”. The influence of all those bad people indicated the rise of “fascism” in America, with Trump in the role of “fascist” leader.

In this way, criticism of the system that produced Trump vanished in favor of demonization of Trump the individual, making it that much easier for the Clintonites to solidify their control of the Democratic Party, by manipulating their own leftist opposition.

The events of Charlottesville resembled a multiple provocation, with pro- and anti-statue sides provoking each other, providing a stage for Antifa to gain national prominence as saviors. Significantly, Charlottesville riots provoked Trump into making comments which were seized upon by all his enemies to brand him definitively as “racist” and “fascist”. This gave the disoriented “left” a clear cause: fight “fascist Trump” and domestic “fascists”. This is more immediate than organizing to demand that the United States end its threats against Iran and North Korea, its open and covert project to reshape the Middle East to ensure Israel’s regional dominance, or its nuclear buildup targeting Russia. Not to mention its support for genuine Nazis in Ukraine. Yet that trillion dollar policy of global militarization contributes more to violence and injustice even in the United States than the remnants of thoroughly discredited lost causes.

The Left and Antifa

All those who are sincerely on the left, who are in favor of greater social and economic equality for all, who oppose the endless aggressive foreign wars and the resulting militarization of the American police and the American mentality, must realize that, since the Clintonian takeover of the Democratic Party, the ruling oligarchic establishment disguises itself as “the left”, uses “left” arguments to justify itself, and largely succeeds in manipulating genuine leftists for its own purposes.  This has caused such confusion that it is quite unclear what “left” means any more.

The Clintonian left substituted Identity Politics for the progressive goal of economic and social equality, by ostentatiously coopting women, blacks and Latinos into the visible elite, the better to ignore the needs of the majority. The Clintonian left introduced the concept of “humanitarian war” to describe its relentless destruction of recalcitrant nations, seducing much of the left into supporting U.S. imperialism as a fight for democracy against “dictators”.

Antifa contributes to this confusion by giving precedence to the suppression of “bad” ideas rather than to the development of good ones through uninhibited debate. Antifa attacks on dissidents tend to enforce the dominant neoliberal doctrine that also raises the specter of fascism as pretext for aggression against countries targeted for regime change.

Antifa’s excuses

Antifa has several favorite arguments to justify itself to those who criticize its use of force and intimidation to silence its adversaries.

1. Its violence is justified by the implicit violence of its enemies who if left alone plan to exterminate whole groups of people.

This is demonstrably untrue, as Antifa is notoriously generous in distributing the fascist label. Most of the people Antifa targets are not fascists and there is no evidence that even “racists” are planning to carry out genocide.

2. Antifa is engaged in other political activity.

That is completely beside the point. Nobody is criticizing that “other political activity”. It is the violence and the censorship which are the hallmarks of the Antifa brand, and the target of criticism. Let them drop the violence and the censorship and get on with their other activities. Then nobody will object.

3. Antifa defends threatened communities.

But that is certainly not all they are doing. Nor is that what its critics are objecting to. Actual defense of a truly threatened community is best done openly by respected members of the community itself, rather than by self-styled Zorros who arrive in disguise. The problem is the definition of the terms. For Antifa, the victim community can be a whole category of people, such as LGBTQI, and the threat may be a controversial speaker at a university who could say something to hurt their feelings. And what community was being defended by Linwood Kaine, younger son of the Democratic Party Vice Presidential candidate, Senator Tim Kaine, when he was arrested in St Paul, Minnesota, last March 4 on suspicion of felony second-degree riot for attempting to break up a pro-Trump rally at the State Capitol? Although Kaine, dressed in black from head to toe, resisted arrest, the matter ended there. What downtrodden community was the young Kaine defending other than the Clintonite Democrats? His own privilege as a family member of the Washington political elite?

4. Antifa claims that it is in favor of free speech in general, but racists and fascists are an exception, because you can’t reason with them, and hate speech is not speech but action.

This amounts to an astounding intellectual surrender to the enemy. It is an admission of being unable to win a free argument. The fact is that speech is indeed speech, and should be countered by speech. You should welcome the chance to debate in public in order to expose the weaknesses of their position. If indeed “you can’t reason with them”, then they will shut down the discussion and you don’t have to. If they resort to physical attack against you, then you have the moral victory. Otherwise, you’re giving it to them.

5. Antifa insists that the Constitutional right to free speech applies only to the State. That is, only the government is banned from depriving citizens of the right to free speech and assembly. Among citizens, anything goes.

This is a remarkable bit of sophistry. Bullying and intimidation are okay if done by an unofficial group. In keeping with neoliberalism, Antifa is out to privatize censorship, by taking over the job itself.

Verbal Violence

The verbal violence of Antifa is worse than their physical violence insofar as it is more effective. The physical violence is usually of minor consequence, at most temporarily preventing something that will happen later. It is the verbal violence that succeeds most in preventing free discussion of controversial issues.

Alarmed by the proliferation of pro-Antifa articles on CounterPunch, I ventured to write a critique, Antifa in Theory and Practice. My criticism was not personal; I did not mention the authors of those pro-Antifa CounterPunch articles and my mention of author Mark Bray was respectful. The result was a torrent of vituperation on CounterPunch’s FaceBook page, as well as in a hostile email exchange with star Antifa champion Yoav Litvin. This culminated with a hit piece by Amitai Ben-Abba published on CounterPunch itself. Note that both Litvin and Ben-Abba are Israelis, but pro-Palestinian, which provides the two with impeccable left credentials.

These reactions provided a perfect illustration of Antifa discussion techniques. It is a sort of food fight, where you just throw everything you can pick up at the adversary, regardless of logic or relevance. On the FaceBook page, Litvin, on the basis of my past carefully objective articles on French politics, accused me of “shilling for Marine Le Pen”. Irrelevant and inaccurate.

In his hit piece Ben-Abba dragged in this totally off-topic assertion:

Much in the same way that her early ’00s pseudo-historical denial of the massacre in Srebrenica worked to embolden Serbian nationalists, her present analysis can embolden white supremacists.”

Need I point out that I never denied the “massacre” but refuse to label it “genocide”, nor did Serbian nationalists ever need my humble opinion in order to be “emboldened” – especially since the war was over by then.

I happily grant that there are issues raised in my initial article that deserve debate, such as immigration or whether or not the “fascism” of the early twentieth century still exists today. Indeed my whole point was that such issues deserve debate. That’s not what I got. Ben-Abba came up with this imaginary allusion to the immigration issue:

“‘antifa’ is a broader umbrella term that allows formerly unaffiliated folks (like the sans-papiers migrant baker who makes Johnstone’s croissants) to participate in defense of their communities against neo-fascist intimidation.”

Very funny: I am exploiting some poor undocumented baker and preventing him from being defended. Aside from the fact that I very rarely to eat a croissant, the bakers in my neighborhood are all fully documented, and moreover this largely immigrant neighborhood is the scene of frequent peaceful street demonstrations by African sans-papiers clearly not intimidated by neo-fascists. They obviously do not need Antifa to protect them. This fantasy of omnipresent neo-fascism is as necessary to Antifa as the fantasy of omnipresent anti-Semitism is to Israel.

Antifa rhetoric specializes in non sequitur. If you agree with some conservative or libertarian that it was wrong to destroy Libya, then you are not only guilty of association with a pre-fascist, you are a supporter of dictators and thus probably a fascist yourself. This has been happening in France for years and it’s just getting started in the United States.

The Antifa specialty is labeling anti-war activists and writers as “red-brown”, red for left and brown for fascist. You may pretend to be on the left, but if we can find the slightest association between you and someone on the right, then you are a “red-brown” and deserve to be quarantined.

By claiming to defend helpless minorities from a rising fascist peril, Antifa arrogates to itself the right to decide who is, or might be, “fascist”.

Whatever they think they are doing, whatever they claim to be doing, the one thing they really are doing is to tie the left into such sectarian intolerance that any broad inclusive single-issue anti-war movement becomes impossible.  Indeed, it is precisely the imminent danger of nuclear World War III that leads some of us to call for a non-exclusive single issue anti-war movement – thus setting ourselves up as “red-brown”.

That is why Antifa – unwittingly let us say – is running interference for the war party.

It is most unfortunate to see CounterPunch become a platform for Antifa. It didn’t have to. The site is quite able to reject articles, as it has systematically rejected contentions about 9/11 or as it rejected David Cobb’s and Caitlin Johnstone’s (no relative) right to respond. It could have taken a principled stand against calls for violence and censorship. It did not do so. It is one thing to encourage debate and quite another to sponsor mud wrestling.

Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions. Her new book is Queen of Chaos: the Misadventures of Hillary Clinton. She can be reached at diana.johnstone@wanadoo.fr

October 25, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , | Leave a comment

Anything Hamas requests will be given, says Iranian FM

Senior Hamas members prepare for PA delegations to arrive in Gaza on 2 October 2017 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]
MEMO | October 25, 2017

The advisor to the Iranian foreign minister, Sheikh Hussein Al-Islam, has said the relationship between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Hamas is excellent and has become stronger and more solid.

“Anything Hamas requests from Iran will be given. This is our duty,” Sheikh Al-Islam said in an exclusive interview with Shehab News Agency.

“All of Iran’s doors are open to Hamas which represents the first line of defence for the Palestinian resistance,” he said.

Commenting on Israel’s demand that Hamas sever ties with Iran as a precondition to accept Palestinian reconciliation, Sheikh Al-Islam said that “Israel wants to destroy Hamas because it is a resistance movement, not because of its relationship with Iran”.

“Hamas’s relationship with Iran is not important, the important thing is that Hamas is a resistance movement, and therefore Israel wants to wipe it out,” he said, adding that the movement makes its own decisions and that Iran does not tell Hamas what to do or not do.

The Iranian official praised the Palestinian national reconciliation, stressing that the agreement serves the Palestinian people’s interests.

Recently a Hamas delegation led by deputy political chief Saleh Al-Arouri visited Iran and met with a number of Iranian officials.

October 25, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | 1 Comment

Israel sets up iron gate at entrance of private Palestinian graveyard

Ma’an – October 25, 2017

BETHLEHEM – Israeli forces on Wednesday set up an iron gate at the entrance of private Palestinian graveyard in the southern occupied West Bank Bethlehem-area village of al-Walaja.

Locals told Ma’an that the plot of land where the gate was set up around belongs to Ahmad Barghouthi, and holds the graves of several of his family members.

Israeli forces reportedly told Barghouthi that the land is located inside the route for Israel’s separation wall, therefore cutting off his access to the graveyard.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an they were looking into reports.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces on Tuesday reportedly delivered a demolition notice to an under-construction two-story home in the village, according to official Palestinian Authority (PA)-owned Wafa news agency.

Residents of al-Walaja lost over three-quarters of their lands since the state of Israel was established in 1948, when most of the village’s residents became refugees.

During Israel’s military takeover of East Jerusalem and the West Bank in 1967, 50 percent of al-Walaja’s lands were annexed to the Jerusalem municipality.

Meanwhile, Israel’s separation wall encircles al-Walaja, the hometown of slain Palestinian activist Basel al-Araj, and swathes of land have been reappropriated by the Israeli government for the construction and expansion of the illegal Israeli settlements of Gilo, Har Gilo, and Givat Yael.

The Israeli government has also planned to confiscate hundreds of acres from al-Walaja for the establishment of a national park.

October 25, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | 2 Comments

Iraq Resists Outside Pressure: Hubris Inspires US Foreign Policy

By Peter KORZUN | Strategic Culture Foundation | 25.10.2017

Speaking at a press conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir in Riyadh on October 22, US State Secretary Rex Tillerson said, “Iranian militias that are in Iraq, now that the fight against Daesh and ISIS is coming to a close, those militias need to go home. The foreign fighters in Iraq need to go home and allow the Iraqi people to regain control.” A senior US official clarified that Tillerson’s invitation to “go home” was specifically directed at the Shiite-dominated Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) militia and Iran’s Quds Force, which has been providing material support, training, and operational leadership for them. The secretary added that the United States hopes “European companies, countries, and others around the world” will join in isolating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which oversees the Quds Force. He said the IRGC is working to “foment instability in the region and create destruction in the region.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi rejected a call by Washington for Iranian-backed fighters to leave Iraq at a meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Baghdad on October 23. The PM insisted that the force consists solely of Iraqi nationals who “fought terrorism” and made sacrifices that contributed to the victory over the Islamic State terrorist group. Calling it “part of the Iraqi institutions,” he said PMF fighters “should be encouraged because they will be the hope of country and the region”, according to a statement by his media office.

Tillerson’s visit to Baghdad came a few days after the Iraqi army, backed by the Shia-majority PMF (the Hashed al-Shaabi), claimed control of all of oil-rich Kirkuk province. The 60,000-strong PMF was cobbled together from Iranian-backed militias in 2014 after the Islamic State militants took over large parts of northern Iraq. Trained and armed by Iran, the Iraqi Hashed al-Shaabi fought side by side with Iraqi government army against the militants. They are paid by the Iraqi government and officially report to the Prime Minister. The Iraqi parliament has voted to integrate the militia into state forces. Critics allege that visits by Iran’s Major General Qassem Soleimani, a commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards who advises the PMF, reflect Tehran’s influence in the country.

Tillerson’s statement is not only a flagrant meddling in the other country’s internal affairs. It’s the statement made by the official of the country, which illegally invaded Iraq in 2003. It is still deeply involved in the country’s politics.

The State Secretary did not say the PMF had to “go home” when they were taking part in the US-backed operation to free Mosul from Islamic State! The Shia, Christians and Assyrians bore the brunt of the fighting. Now the Shia militias have become expandable. For Shia Muslims Tehran is the stronghold of their faith the same way Vatican is the stronghold of Catholicism. The Shia, Sunni and Kurds are all Iraqis and there are all home in Iraq.

The details of the alleged deal reached between the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) on October 16 have been released recently. The released info argues that PUK-linked Peshmerga units were to surrender control of the contested territories to the PMU. Reports based on it have been widely spread by media outlets linked to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and its leader, Masoud Barzani. The agreement was supposedly signed by the son of the leader of PUK, Pavel Talabani, and states that the contentious areas are to be surrendered to the PMU. So, it was an oil deal which presupposed that the Iraqi government would fund the Kurdish administration and the militias while receiving its share of oil revenues. The deal went through on the condition of Kurdistan preserving its status as part of Iraq. It was a deal between the two sides and Iran had nothing to do with it. The US couldn’t influence the deal. Iran has no reason to intervene if Kurdistan remains part of Iraq.

Tillerson appears to support Israel’s position. Tel Aviv is concerned over Tehran’s alleged plans of securing a corridor from its border, through Iraq and all the way to the Mediterranean and providing it unhindered land access to its allies in Syria and Lebanon for the first time. The shared concern makes the US keep its al-Tanf base in southern Syria and hinder the movement of Syrian government forces to the Iraqi border. But in Iraq the Shia PMF are not creating any “corridors” from Iran to Syria. They report to Iraqi PM and operate upon the orders.

Under the circumstances, the US behaves like a bull in china shop, openly intervening into the other state’s internal affairs. It makes Baghdad resist the pressure and look for other partners. On October 23, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Iraqi counterpart Ibrahim al-Jaafari met in Moscow to discuss the situation in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region. The visit coincided with the meeting of Iraqi-Russian intergovernmental commission on Trade, Economic, and Scientific and Technical Cooperation in Moscow on October 23-25, which discussed joint oil projects with Russian Rosneft in Iraqi Kurdistan. Ibrahim al-Jaafari said Baghdad is looking forward to a visit of President Vladimir Putin to Iraq. He called Russia a strategic partner. In July, 2017, Russia and Iraq inked a big arms deal.

Mr. Tillerson was given a chilly reception in Iraq. Baghdad stands up to the challenge rejecting the US policy of outright interference into its internal affairs. The US pressure brought about the opposite result. The presumption that the US has overwhelming power to influence other countries’ policies is no longer valid. But with old instincts dying hard, hubris continues to inspire poor foreign policy decisions in Washington.

October 25, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

Washington Forbids Serbia from De-Mining Syria

By Daniel McAdams | Ron Paul Institute | October 21, 2017

This may be one of the cruelest and most cynical moves of Washington in its entire dark “regime change Syria” chapter. Serbian media sources are reporting, based on quotes from US Embassy Belgrade personnel, that the United States has sought and been given assurances by the Serbian government and military that Serbian de-mining experts will not be deploying to Syria to assist in removing the ubiquitous horrific mines and other explosive devices left behind by a retreating ISIS.

As the rout of ISIS forces continues in Syria, the civilian population begins returning to their homes and their lives that had been disrupted by the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, and other extremist groups. According to the United Nations, more than 600,000 Syrians have returned to areas liberated by the Syrian government with the assistance of Russia and Iranian forces.

But that is where the tragic problems often begin. As the Economist reported earlier this year, the joy of returning to a life where the scourge of ISIS has been eliminated can be cut short in an instant by what ISIS leaves behind:

‘The first explosion killed our neighbour and his sister-in-law when they entered their house,’ said Ali Hussain Omari, a former fighter from the city. ‘Three days later another mine killed my cousin. His 11-year-old daughter’s leg was amputated and their house was destroyed. A week later another mine in an olive tree exploded. My neighbour lost his leg.’

What a horrible irony to have survived the marauding jihadists only to be blown to pieces by the terrors they left behind.

Which is why it is all the more disturbing that the United States government is so adamant that US-trained Serbian de-mining experts NOT deploy to Syria to help make post-ISIS Syria safe for civilians to return.

The “spat” between US Ambassador to Belgrade Kyle Scott and Defense Minister Aleksandar Vulin began when the Serbian side announced that it would participate in the de-mining efforts in Syria in a manner that would have Serbian forces coordinating with Russians. The Americans reminded their Serb allies, through US Embassy spokesman Eric Heyden, that:

… the US government provided significant donations in money, equipment and training to help the Serbian Army get rid of the mines left over from the war, and thus make Serbia a safer place. That is why, over the past 15 years, we have provided more that USD 20 million in aid for mine clearing operations in Serbia. During our last major joint exercise, in April 2017, the US government donated some USD 450,000 in medical and demining equipment to the Serbian Army to improve its capacities…

In other words, “we funded your training in de-mining operations and if you want to continue receiving money from the United States you had better cancel your plans to assist with de-mining in Syria.”

Washington’s concerns over Serb participation in de-mining in Syria was, according to press reports, heeded by Belgrade. Heyden further announced:

Media reports from Russia have stated that deminers from Serbia would be deployed together with Russian forces in Syria. In the last six months, in our numerous conversations with the leadership of the Ministry of Defense and the VS General Staff, the US government received multiple assurances that this story is incorrect, and that the goal of our bilateral training was to enable members of the Serbian Army to clear the area of the former military airport in Sjenica, and to open it for use…

Once that was settled, the US announced that it “has plans for next year to continue helping to develop the Serbian Army’s capacity in this project.”

And the Syrian victims of ISIS and other (probably US-backed) extremist mines that continue to kill and maim innocent civilians and children? Too bad for them. More innocents will die in the name of the current US Cold War 2.0 psychosis.

October 25, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

What Israel is Fighting for in the Middle-Eastern Mess?

By Valery Kulikov – New Eastern Outlook – 24.10.2017

As forces of the so-called Islamic State terrorist group are pushed across Syria and Iraq, one can clearly see Israel’s shifting position regarding the situation in Syria, which can be explained by Tel-Aviv’s desire to reorder the Middle East.

It’s clear that Israel has finally realized that it’s been betting on the wrong side in Syria and is now risks losing all. It goes without saying that once defeated, Israel’s leadership will be in no position to demand anything from anyone. This includes failing to establish a security zone within the Golan Heights, as well as failed ambitions over controlling the Iraqi-Syrian border which now will likely not come to fruition. In fact, the panic mode that the Netanyahu administration has been in for a while reflects the dramatic changes that are taking place in Syria and across the region. After Israel’s betting on the losing party for so long, Tel-Aviv has no other choice but to pursue damage control in a desperate bid to save its Jordanian and Kurdish proxies. Its new strategy states that it must draw Iraq and Syria away from Iran and integrate them into the Israeli-American-Saudi alliance.

Over the last six years of conflict in Syria, Israel would try to avoid any direct military confrontation. Only recently Israeli aircraft and artillery have started launching strikes inside Syrian territory. Among their targets included Hezbollah, which is fighting on the side of the Syrian government, but also military facilities of the Syrian Arab Army as well. In particular, the recent bombardment of Israeli artillery targeting Syrian army positions in the Golan Heights, according to Israeli media reports, destroyed three Syrian artillery positions.

Israel has always been deeply involved in the Syrian conflict. Repeated statements by Israeli officials that “Tel-Aviv pursues a policy of non-interference in the Syrian civil war” have been circulating within Western media sources for years. However, in a recent series of explanations given by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to European officials, he would acknowledge that Tel-Aviv destroyed dozens of Iranian convoys fighting in the Syrian Arab Republic against ISIS hordes. On June 18, the Wall Street Journal reported that Israel and Saudi Arabia were allies from the very beginning of the Syrian conflict, as Israel supplied the Syrian rebels operating alongside its borders with money, food, fuel and even drugs. The Wall Street Journal has also added that Israel might be sponsoring a total of four rebel groups operating inside Syria. These groups would use the cash provided to them to pay mercenaries and buy ammunition. These revelations, according to Zero Hedge, can also explain why ISIS terrorists would never attack Israeli citizens or launch operations deep inside Israel’s territory despite their close proximity.

According to Telegram’s Directorate 4 channel, militants have recently released a video of one of their gangs using anti-aircraft ammunition delivered from Israel while engaged in a deadly firefight against Syrian government troops in the vicinity of Daraa. It is noted that this was not the first time that media sources received confirmation that Israel has been supplying weapons to miltiants depicted by the West as “radical Islmasists.” In addition, it’s been repeatedly reported that Israel has been providing medical aid to militants wounded in Syria.

In mid-October it was reported that Syrian troops discovered four warehouses filled with US and Israeli-made weapons in the liberated Syrian city of Mayadin.

Tel Aviv’s sympathy for ISIS was confirmed last May by the editor of Politico, Bryan Bender, who visited Israel just before US President Donald Trump’s visit, discovering that Israeli military forces did not want the US to fulfill its promise to crush the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria .

Regarding the policy of Israel, a number of regional politicians and experts have noted an abrupt increase in its attempts to provoke the so-called redrawing of the Middle East map, which will inevitably result in the weakening of some countries across the region. This was stated, in particular, at the press conference given by Iranian Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli in early October. Fazli would emphasize Israel’s support for the referendum of independence in Iraqi Kurdistan, for the sole purpose of weakening Tel-Aviv’s opponents in the Middle East.

The consistent political support for an Iraqi Kurdistan provided by Israel has recently been emphasized by the commander of the elite paramilitary Peshmerga unit known as Black Tiger, General Sirwan Barzani, the nephew of long-time leader of the Iraqi Kurds – Masoud Barzani. Israelis have been freely visiting Iraqi Kurdistan with their national passports, although such a paper would make anyone an unwelcome visitor across the Arab world. Israeli companies are beginning to unofficially operate in Erbil, while the Kurds are seeking the support of the Israeli lobby in the US in hopes that it would support Kurdistan’s independence. Last year, the Kurdish authorities announced the opening of a “representative office for relations with Jews”, which can be viewed as a nascent diplomatic mission.

Of course, there’s intelligence cooperation to be found between Israel and Iraqi Kurdistan. Simply, the “common enemy” has now changed – instead of targeting the hated Sunni regime of Saddam Hussein, those services are now targeting the government of the now Shia Arab majority along with Iran which supports it. There is no doubt that through Kurdistan, Israeli special services have been enjoying ready access to the territories of Iran and Iraq, which in the event of a major war would be a crucial factor.

However, the Kurds are not cooperating with Israel openly because they are afraid of the wrath of Iran and the Arab world that it may trigger.

Israel’s goals in supporting Iraqi Kurds are truly multifaceted. One of them, according to the former Israeli intelligence officer Alexander Grinberg, is to resist Iran’s influence while maintaining leverage against Turkey. Especially given the fact that commercial relations between Turkey and Israel began to develop rapidly and both Ankara and Tel-Aviv share a number of positions on the Iranian issue, in spite of the fact that Erdogan is an impulsive leader with anti-Semitic and dictatorial habits, while according to the opinion prevailing in Israel today, it’s Turkey that is the main supporter of Hamas, not Qatar.

In a bid to preserve its role as a major Middle Eastern power in the eyes of America’s elite, Israel has offered Washington a plan that may allow it to push Iran both from Syria and the regional scene. The plan was drafted under the supervision of Israel’s Minister of Transportation and Intelligence, Yisrael Katz, and approved by the country’s top political leadership. According to the Katz Plan, Washington must recognize the Golan Heights occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War of 1967 as Israel’s sovereign territory. Such a recognition will grant Israel a number of advantages, especially in the matter of striking the positions of Hezbollah within Syrian territory, particularly those found in the immediate vicinity of the disputed heights. Also in the Katz plan, special emphasis is placed on preventing the permanent military basing of Iranians in Syria. In this regard, the US is recommended to tighten sanctions against Tehran on the pretext that Iran is “supporting terrorism.”

Tel-Aviv is also aware of the growing role that Russia is playing in the Middle East, so it wants to get Moscow on board with its plan of pushing pro-Iranian forces out of Syria. In order to achieve this goal Tel Aviv has been unprecedentedly active in approaching Moscow along with its “allied” Arab leaders: Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. In exchange for reviewing its relations with Iran, Russia, which has already established two permanent military bases in Syrian territory, is promised to receive a whole set of “preferences”, including the tacit acceptance of Russian jurisdiction over Crimea by the West, the lifting of Western sanctions, the restoration of Russia’s membership in the G8, and guarantees on the preservation of Moscow’s air and naval bases in the Syrian provinces of Latakia and Tartus. There is another “benefit” for Russia in the form of keeping President Bashar Assad in power in Damascus indefinitely, as well as supplying Riyadh with Russian arms and the list goes on and on.

October 25, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

CONFIRMED: US and Saudi coordinated barbaric terrorist attacks on Syria

By Adam Garrie | The Duran | October 25, 2017

The intricate role played by Saudi Arabia and the United States in ushering in a proxy terrorist war on Syria, have been both explicitly and implicitly known, since virtually the beginning of the US instigated proxy conflict in Syria, which was inaugurated in 2011.

In many ways, 2013 represented the nadir of the Syrian conflict. It was a time when it looked as though the combined strength of terrorist groups including ISIS/Daesh, FSA and al-Qaeda might succeed in destroying the secular, tolerant, pluralist Syrian Arab Republic and realise their goal of creating a Takfiri state based on extremist religious supremacist ideology and racism.

With Syria on the verge of a full victory and with Russia confirming that ISIS now controls less than 5% of Syrian territory, 2013 seems like a very distant time in the context of the Syrian conflict.

But on the 18th of March, 2013, large scale coordinated rocket attacks on Damascus International Airport, the Syrian Presidential Palace and other vital security targets in the capital, were conducted by the Takfiri terrorist group FSA.

Today, the exiled American whistleblower who once worked for the notorious NSA, Edward Snowden has released the following short top secret document which plainly details how the US and a powerful member of the Saudi regime, helped to fund and organise the illegal attack on Syria.

The text of the document reads as follows:

“TOP SECRET//S1//NOFORN

(TS//S1//NF) S2E332 issued three single source reports in
March 2013 on Syrian opposition attacks against Damascus:
– Reports gave U.S. three days warning about 18 March 2013
attacks (2 year anniversary of revolution)
– Saudi Prince Salman bin Sultan directed opposition to “light
up Damascus ” and “flatten” airport
– Saudis sent 120 tons of explosives/weapons to opposition
forces
– Attacks against airport, Presidential palace and other locations
occurred on 18 March
– Saudis “very pleased” with outcome
– PRISM providing almost all collection on opposition plans
and operations

TOP SECRET//S1//NOFORN”.

The collusion between Saudi and the US in a deadly terrorist attack constitutes nothing less than a war crime.

Because of the patently biased nature of the International Criminal Court, it is unlikely that anyone from the US or Saudi will be prosecuted for this war crime.

However, Snowden’s document does help to explain Syria’s unity in the face of a campaign of foreign state sponsored organised terrorism. Contrary to what many al-Qaeda apologists say, the Syrian conflict was a proxy war from day one. Of course, foreign powers used the promise of enhanced material status to woo a small number of disgruntled locals, but the main sources of terrorist fighters and virtually all of the funding and arms came from abroad.

While Syria faced onslaughts funded and directed by some of the wealthiest and most powerful states in the world including, the USA, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel, Turkey, UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands and others, Syria managed to retain her sovereignty, even prior to Russia’s game-changing legal intervention in 2015.

The anti-Syrian alliance did its utmost to destroy one of the last truly revolutionary Arab Republics in the world. The fact that of all their efforts ultimately failed, is a testament both to the resolve of the Syrian Arab Republic and to the powerful anti-terrorist alliance that Damascus built throughout the conflict, one which has been capable of resisting imperialist obscurantist aggression from the west and its Middle East proxies and allies.

October 25, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 6 Comments

Getting the Left to Embrace US ‘Exceptionalism’

By James W. Carden | Consortium News | October 24, 2017

Last year, Donald J. Trump triumphed over 15 Republican primary opponents and a Democratic candidate with an impressive résumé largely on the strength of a simple four-word message: “Make America Great Again.”

Trump’s slogan worked even though President Obama offered the rejoinder, “America is already great,” and Hillary Clinton made the counterpoint that “America is great because America is good.”

Since Trump’s victory nearly a year ago, the major American media has often reprised the Obama-Clinton messaging that America is already great as though Trump, the most unabashedly jingoistic president since perhaps Ronald Reagan, needs reminding.

Yet in Trump’s Washington, where the bipartisan foreign policy consensus is wrongly perceived to be under attack, the Establishment has been circling the wagons in order to fend off what is viewed as Trump’s frontal assault on the core tenets of American exceptionalism.

Soon after the election, political and media elites, particularly those within Democratic Party circles, began to express their dismay at Trump’s seeming disregard for what, to their way of thinking, America represents to the rest of the world.

Two months into the Trump presidency, a former Obama State Department official whose specialty is described by the most amorphous and flexible of constructions, “human rights,” took to the pages of The Atlantic magazine to inform readers that since the November election “the global club of autocrats has been crowing about Trump” because he, like they, takes a dim a view of “democracy, human rights, and transparency.”

Autocrats, declared Tom Malinkowski, now a Democratic candidate for Congress in New Jersey, were said to be delighted by Trump’s election because, “they’ve heard him echo their propaganda that America is too crooked and corrupt to preach moral standards to others.”

“This,” wrote Malinkowski, “makes me sad.”

Likewise, Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice also has expressed alarm that the administration has been busy “jettisoning American values and abdicating United States leadership of the world.”

Rice believes that “The network of alliances that distinguishes America from other powers and has kept our nation safe and strong for decades is now in jeopardy. We will see the cost when next we need the world to rally to our side.”

Fears for American Hegemony

A number of liberal journalists have been quick to join the fretting. At The Intercept, a foreign affairs analyst worried that Trump is letting American global hegemony slip away.

“Through a network of nearly 800 military bases located in 70 countries around the globe, in addition to an array of trade deals and alliances,” wrote Murtaza Hussain, “the U.S. has cemented its influence for decades across both Europe and Asia. American leaders helped impose a set of rules and norms that promoted free trade, democratic governance — in theory, if not always in practice — and a prohibition on changing borders militarily, using a mixture of force and suasion to sustain the systems that keep its hegemony intact.”

Over at Slate, Yascha Mounk, opined that, with regard to Russia, “Trump likes Putin because he admires his strong (read: autocratic) leadership. And he sees him as an ally because he shares Putin’s disdain for the liberal order, preferring a world in which strong powers do what they like in their spheres of influence without having to worry about obeying — much less enforcing — international norms or human rights.”

Similarly, when The New Republic’s Jeet Heer recently delved into the realm of U.S.-Russia relations, he warned readers that “The problem is not just the nature of Putin’s autocratic government, which uses social conservatism and nationalism to hold together a nation frayed by massive economic inequality. … The problem is that Russia’s foreign policy threatens to export many of the Putin regime’s worst features, particularly xenophobia and homophobia.”

For Heer the proper response to Putin’s foreign policy is obvious: “Fighting Trumpism in America is not enough. Leftists have to be ready to battle it in all its forms, at home and abroad.”

In other words, it’s time now to undertake yet another global crusade against Russia.

By this point it should be clear that what these worthies are doing is conflating a vision of a liberal, tolerant America with American hegemony; their concerns always come back to their quite unfounded worry that Trump is in the process of repudiating the unipolar fantasy that they themselves buy into and seek to perpetuate.

Innocents Abroad?

Among many other problems, the hubristic nature of American Exceptionalist ideology feeds delusions of innocence, which serve to prevent a critical rethinking of America’s recent, mainly catastrophic adventures abroad. We can see how this tendency manifests itself in the mainstream media.

In July, The New York Times published a piece that whitewashed the motives behind the decision by George W. Bush’s White House to invade Iraq. “When the United States invaded Iraq 14 years ago to topple Saddam Hussein,” wrote reporter Tim Arango, “it saw Iraq as a potential cornerstone of a democratic and Western-facing Middle East.”

This is now par for the course. The media critic Adam Johnson has rightly pointed out that “nominally down-the-middle reporters are allowed to mind-read U.S. policy makers’ motives so long as they conclude that those motives were noble and in good faith. Never are reporters allowed to ascribe sinister motives to U.S. officials—this is only permissible when covering America’s enemies.”

Similarly, the illegal American intervention in the Syrian war was portrayed as “self-defense” when U.S. forces shot down a Syrian fighter jet over Raqqa in June. “The Syrian regime and others in the regime need to understand,” said White House spokesman Sean Spicer (who has now since mercifully resigned), “that we will retain the right of self-defense, of coalition forces aligned against ISIS.”

Time was, during the early years of the First Cold War, that public intellectuals often looked askance at America’s belief in its innate virtue. Within a decade of the allied victory in the Second World War, during which time American power and prestige was at its zenith, prominent Anglo-American thinkers, including Graham Greene, George Kennan and Reinhold Niebuhr were already casting a gimlet eye on the pretenses of the “American Century.”

Where are the contrarian voices such as these calling for restraint and reflection now that we are in the throes of a Second Cold War? They are almost utterly absent from mainstream American political discourse.

A Bipartisan Pretense

Part of the reason Trump won, of course, is that he plays and feeds into the very same pretenses that the both the Establishment and the public does — though in cruder form. There is only a difference in degree, not in kind, between “Make America Great Again” and “America Is Already Great” since both are premised on the same line of reasoning: America, due to its providential founding, cannot be and is not a normal country: it is exceptional, a “shining city on a hill.”

The idea that Trump himself hasn’t embraced and internalized the core tenets of American exceptionalism is laughable – and even some neoconservatives, like Bloomberg’s Eli Lake, have begun to notice. Lake, observing Trump’s September speech to the United Nations General Assembly, cracked, “For a moment, I closed my eyes and thought I was listening to a Weekly Standard editorial meeting.”

Yet there’s an insoluble problem that remains for the adherents of the myth of American exceptionalism: the presumption that the rest of the world buys into the myth which largely rests upon a willful misunderstanding of the past, and blinds us to available alternatives, such as realism.

Some on the Left see little cause for concern. America, by their lights, should intervene all over the world on a values crusade. Leftist journals like Dissent and Jacobin have endeavored to excuse the Trotskyite impulse to political violence. In this way neoconservatism, the American variant of Trotskyism, is not dead yet, it remains a zombie ideology that haunts the country.

Forget anti-imperialism, some Leftists say, it’s Trumpian nationalism that is the real problem. And there are indeed elements of Trumpian nationalism that are troubling. But is the answer a crusade to impose, in the felicitous phrasing of neocon propagandist Max Boot, “the rule of law, property rights and other guarantees, at gunpoint if need be?”

In the end, the ideology of American Exceptionalism feeds delusions of American Innocence and prepares the ground for military intervention the world over. Is that really the right way to oppose Donald Trump?

James W. Carden served as an adviser on Russia policy at the US State Department. Currently a contributing writer at The Nation magazine, his work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Quartz, The American Conservative and The National Interest.

October 25, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

NYT Laments ‘Forever Wars’ Its Editorials Helped Create

By Adam Johnson | FAIR | October 23, 2017

New York Times: America's Forever Wars

In considering why “the public is quiet” about the United States’ unending wars, the New York Times (10/23/17) fails to examine the failure of leading media outlets to actually oppose these wars.

Corporate media have a long history of lamenting wars they themselves helped sell the American public, but it’s rare so many wars and so much hypocrisy are distilled into one editorial. On Monday, the New York Times (10/22/17) lamented the expansion of America’s “forever wars” overseas, without once noting that every war mentioned is one the editorial board has itself endorsed, while failing to oppose any of the “engagements” touched on in the editorial.

The Times began by noting the sheer scope of US military reach:

The United States has been at war continuously since the attacks of 9/11 and now has just over 240,000 active-duty and reserve troops in at least 172 countries and territories…. American forces are actively engaged not only in the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen that have dominated the news, but also in Niger and Somalia, both recently the scene of deadly attacks, as well as Jordan, Thailand and elsewhere. An additional 37,813 troops serve on presumably secret assignment in places listed simply as “unknown.” The Pentagon provided no further explanation.

New York Times: The American Offensive Begins

The New York Times (10/8/01) endorsed the invasion of Afghanistan…

The editorial stops short of actually opposing anything specific, instead insisting, “It’s time to take stock of how broadly American forces are already committed to far-flung regions and to begin thinking hard about how much of that investment is necessary.” They are vaguely concerned; here we have this massive global empire, fighting an ever-changing nebulous enemy of “terrorism,” with no end in sight. What can be done? It’s unclear—but let’s “take stock.”

Left unmentioned in the editorial: from Afghanistan (both the 2001 invasion and Obama’s 2009 surge) to Iraq (the 2003 invasion and Obama re-entering the country in August 2014 to fight ISIS) to Syria (both CIA-backed regime change and bombing ISIS) to Korea to our drone wars in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, the New York Times has endorsed and often cheered every of these “forever wars.” And the “engagements” the Times didn’t expressly support (Thailand, Jordan, etc.), because they’re so routine as to not merit mention, there’s no record of them opposing. Indeed, as FAIR (3/27/17) has noted previously, the New York Times editorial board has not opposed a single US war since its equivocal and lukewarm opposition to Reagan’s invasion of Grenada 34 years ago (10/30/83).

When confronted with this fact on Twitter, New York Times foreign and defense policy editorial writer Carol Giacomo responded, “In last decade, NYT editorial board has raised many questions about US military engagements.” Raised many questions? Well, then, never mind; let’s leave the Times’ role in the creation of said global empire unexamined.

New York Times: Disarming Iraq

…and the invasion of Iraq (New York Times, 2/20/03).

The Times spends a great deal of time trying to market itself as not being the rubber stamp pro-war outlet it manifestly is. To do this, it employs two main genres of nominal anti-war posturing. The first—previously commented on by FAIR (3/27/17)—is to call for congressional approval of a war, without actually opposing it or arguing against its underlying moral or political validity. It’s a process complaint that permits the New York Times to look Very Concerned without the messy work of actually opposing anyone in power. The argument is never “this war is wrong or unjust”; it’s “this war may be great, but we have a legal problem of not getting congressional buy-in—the absence of which is not problematic enough to make us actually oppose the war.”

The second is the morally half-assed “no boots on the ground” argument, like the one the Times employed in support of bombing ISIS in Iraq in 2014 (8/8/14) and the Syrian government in 2013 (8/27/13). They insisted, for example, that Obama “best follow through” on his threat to bomb the Syrian government, while still opposing “deep American involvement,” whatever that meant. This genre supports bombing people—typically brown and poor—from afar, but draws the line at using US troops to augment the long-distance killing.

The “no boots on the ground” pseudo-opposition is an admission that the only lives that matter are American, and that the PR pitfalls of body bags returning home on national TV are the only moral limit to the US invading and occupying other countries. Cruise missiles, drones, special forces raids, and covert funding and arming of dodgy rebel groups are A-OK, so long as there are no “boots on the ground”—a cliche, as FAIR has noted (5/19/15), that itself has an increasingly boutique definition.

Both of these genres permit the New York Times to look like Conflicted Liberals, distressed about war without ever opposing it in any meaningful sense. Both modes typically involve appeals to gather more willing nations, other vague appeals to “international support” or running through legal motions, but, ultimately, after all the tortured language and qualifications, the Times always—always—ends up back at supporting the bombing. The Times acts not as an outside voice holding power to account, but as US empire’s internal compliance officer—there to warn of excesses and problems around the margins, but always with the best interest of their NatSec client at heart.

New York Times: The Fundamental Horror of ISIS

…along with bombing ISIS (NYT, 10/2/14), and every other major new front in the “War on Terror.”

No such heavy-hearted qualifications, needless to say, exist for US enemies. Russia is “engaging in aggressive and dangerous behavior in the air and on the high seas,” the Times (5/19/16) insisted in an editorial condemning the “duplicity of President Vladimir Putin.” Iran’s “destabilizing role in the Mideast” is simply taken for granted (4/24/17); its actions routinely “deserve condemnation” (4/7/17).

Meanwhile, the US is presented as a good-faith arbiter of human rights and peacekeeping, with no broader military or cynical aims. “At least in recent decades,” the Times editorial board (2/7/17) childishly put it earlier this year, “American presidents who took military action have been driven by the desire to promote freedom and democracy.” Funny how that worked out.

October 25, 2017 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment