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A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History: Interview with Jamal Juma’

By Ida Audeh | CounterPunch | June 22, 2018

For weeks now, Palestinians everywhere have been galvanized by events taking place in the Gaza Strip, the site of weekly (since March 30) mass protests demanding the end of the siege and blockade of Gaza (in place now since 2007) and the right to return to the homes from which they or their elders had been kicked out. Dubbed the Great March of Return, Gazans have assembled as close as they can to the Israeli-designated buffer zone separating Gaza from Israel. Israeli soldiers at a distance, crouched behind earth barriers that they created in the days preceding the march, and at absolutely no danger of attack from the unarmed protestors, pick off demonstrators at their leisure. By June 14, at least 129 Palestinians had been killed and 13,000 injured; the dead included medics like the 21-year-old Razan al-Najjar and journalists including Yaser Murtaja—typically seen as off-limits in conflict zones but transformed by Israel into prime targets.

On June 4, Ida Audeh spoke to Jamal Juma’, coordinator of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign, about the popular resistance in Gaza, the Trump administration’s policy toward the question of Palestine, and Palestinian options to chart a new course. Salah Khawaja, an activist who works with the campaign, joined the conversation.

Ida Audeh: I interviewed you in August 2011 to learn more about the separation wall and its effect on communities in its path.[2] Describe Israel’s current system of control over the occupied territories, of which the wall is a part.

Jamal Juma’: It is clear that the wall was designed to isolate and lay siege to Palestinians. The project to place Palestinians under siege by means of the wall has been completed. It closed off all the dynamic areas that Israel considered necessary to isolate various areas. Eighty percent of the Wall is within the West Bank. The second part of the siege is reinforcement of the settlements. Each settlement has what Israel calls a buffer zone – a security apparatus consisting of barbed wire and roads that Palestinians are not allowed to use. This, together with the alternative (bypass) roads (which we call the apartheid roads), allows them to control the territory. Today there are two road networks: one is for Israeli settlers, about 1,400 km long, and its purpose is to connect all settlements to one another and to Israel in a kind of network. And this is complete. This network is the dominant one in the West bank, and it includes the major roads. The other, the alternative roads, are for Palestinians to use; these roads will intersect through 48 planned tunnels and bridges, some of which have been created already. The two road systems are separate. This is the basis of the racist discriminatory system we talk about: isolating Palestinians and confining them in limited spaces, control of their resources through settlements, the road network, and military installations, and the wall, which take up about 62% of the area of the West Bank.

With the extension of the settlements, we no longer just talk about Palestinians being ghettoized in the north, south and central region. There is more fragmentation of Palestinian residential areas. New settlement outposts are not being discussed in terms of whether they should be removed or not.  They are being transformed into settlements. When you see 150 outposts, you are really talking about 150 new settlements. This project is being intensified, and especially since Trump took office.

IA: So you noticed a clear acceleration after Trump?

JJ: It’s much more than an acceleration. This is a watershed moment in Palestinian history.  We consider that since Trump took office, US policy fully adopted the Zionist project and embarked on a process of liquidating the Palestinian cause, of eliminating it. It is clear program. This began with Jerusalem and the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the Zionist entity, transfer of the embassy, targeting the refugees by cutting financing of UNRWA, and other forms of pressure on areas that host large numbers of refugees including getting them settled permanently in the host countries.

Israeli colonization, the geographic engineering of the political map, is another component in the liquidation of the Palestinian cause. Israeli proposals for colonization are massive. They are concentrating on the Jordan Valley – creating new settlements, expanding existing settlements, creating the supportive infrastructure, with huge incentives for Israelis who work in agriculture (including cash payments of $20,000 for anyone willing to move there). Now the settlements are on the tops of the mountain chain that overlook the Jordan Valley, which enable them to encircle lower lying towns. When you talk about Ariel, Ma’ale Adumim, and so on, it will be as though the entire West Bank is a suburb of Tel Aviv. This will make it impossible for there to be any separation in the future, for there to be any independent Palestinian entity; instead, an apartheid system of cantons will be imposed on Palestinians.  This is the reality on the ground.

Back to the new US policy: In addition to a shift in standing US positions on Jerusalem and the refugee issue, there is the use of Arab countries that are ready for normalization with Israel and eager to be aligned with the American project – first and foremost, Saudi Arabia, and also Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt, which are pressuring the Palestinians to accept the US project to liquidate the Palestinian cause. This has complicated things and taken it out of the sphere of international law and the UN; everyone had previously worked within that framework. We have been demanding the implementation of resolutions. But the US dealt a blow to international law.

IA: The US now proposes the “deal of the century,” which Gulf states are eagerly endorsing. Can you describe the contours of that deal?

JJ: The proposal is to create a Palestinian state in Gaza with extensions into the Sinai Desert, to be administered by the Palestinian Authority. The West Bank and Jerusalem are not part of these calculations, although Israel might be willing to give up some areas around Jerusalem that are densely populated with Palestinians. (This part of the proposal has been floated by extremist Israeli groups even before the Trump proposal.) They might be willing to remove from Greater Jerusalem areas with high Palestinian density, like Jabal Mukkaber, Isawiya, Silwan, and Sur Bahir; there has been some discussion about removing Beit Hanina and Shufat. The Israelis would retain control of the Jewish settlements and the Old City, which together make up about 87% of the area of East Jerusalem—not exactly a small territory.

IA: What is the Palestinian response to these plans?

JJ:  On the formal political level, the PA is in a crisis. It placed its faith in the US, but now US determination to liquidate the Palestinian cause is very clear.  The only real option remaining to the PA is to cast its lot with the Palestinian people and on free people around the world, international solidarity and movements that support us. The Palestinian people have to make a decision, and so does the PA.

On the popular level, we see serious activity in search of an alternative to the status quo, the largest and the most important of which is taking place now in Gaza with the Great March of Return. These actions are important for a number of reasons. They changed the stereotypes about Gaza as a launchpad for rockets, a place of terrorism that has been hijacked by Hamas. In fact, the marches in Gaza since March 30 represent a widespread popular movement, massive popular resistance. Just like the first intifada emerged from Jabaliya in the Gaza Strip, today we have the beginnings of a mass civil disobedience movement. Gaza has a population that is resisting, and Hamas does not control this resistance. The discourse we generally hear, that Hamas is leading people to their death, should be recognized as racist and dehumanizing. People are not robots. Gazans of all ages, family situations, and economic and educational levels are taking part in these marches to raise their cause to the world.  These people are saying that the siege of Gaza cannot continue. We are human beings, we have rights, and one of those rights is to live like human beings. Gaza is no longer inhabitable. Gaza has been turned into a prison and a hell. Even the UN acknowledges that. The numbers around Gaza are just astounding.[3]

The Great March has returned focus on the refugee issue and put it squarely on the table despite all the efforts to ignore and erase it. More than 70% of Gaza residents are refugees, and they are demanding the right to return to their original hometowns.

For that reason, the marches in Gaza are very important in defining the trajectory of the Palestinian question and restoring the role of popular resistance to the forefront. They lay the popular foundation for the coming phase. They might also have prevented another massive disaster. I think Israel was preparing to implement the Trump administration’s proposals; the scenario that the Israelis were planning for was to pull Gaza into a military confrontation, which would justify more intense bombing than it has done in the past. The borders with Egypt would open, and people would flee into Egypt. But the march with its mass participation thwarted that plan.

IA: I find it hard to understand how Ramallah can be so tranquil considering the carnage in Gaza.

JJ:  It might seem that what is happening in the West Bank is not at all comparable to what is happening in Gaza. And that is true, it isn’t as massive. But actions are taking place in the West Bank, and they are also important. On a weekly basis people are gathering to protest at the checkpoints. Since 2011 there have been continuous outbursts (in Arabic, habbat); for example, in Jerusalem in the Bab al-Shams encampment and in the aftermath of the Abu Khdeir and Dawabshe killings (January 2013, July 2014, and July 2015, respectively).[4] These outbursts were significant and exemplary, the way Gaza is today. They reminded us of what the Palestinian people are capable of doing. I expect that these outbursts here and there will lead to widespread civil disobedience. Young people in Jerusalem and the West Bank have been going out to checkpoints in the hundreds, on a daily basis, and these conditions put one in the mindset of the first intifada.

We should take note of what Palestinians in Israel are doing as well. There are youth movements that are taking action in ways that are very impressive and a source of pride.  They defy the occupation and they involve large numbers of people, in Haifa and elsewhere.

IA: Let’s look at the relationship of Palestinians to formal political bodies. Recently the Palestinian National Council held its first meeting in 22 years. One might have thought that over the course of more than two decades, several issues and events warranted a meeting – regional events, the assassination of Yasir Arafat, and the status of the Oslo accords come to mind. But the convening of the PNC doesn’t seem to have generated much popular interest.

JJ: People did not pay much attention to it, but in fact they should be talking about it because it poses a threat. Meeting for the first time in 22 years, it did not even discuss what it has done since the last meeting! What it did do is effectively cancel itself, which means it is changing the structure of the PLO. There is an attempt to replace the Central Committee with a body consisting of the private sector, the political currents in the PA today, and elements of the security apparatus. No representation of Palestinians from the 1948 areas, or the diaspora, or even the Palestinian street. This is a threat to the Palestinian project.

The PLO as it has been transformed by Mahmoud Abbas threatens the national cause. It has been hijacked; our task is to restore it as a representative and unifying entity that works to support the Palestinian cause. The reform should be led by Palestinian groups and movements.

People have no confidence in the leadership; they don’t think it is capable of leading in the coming phase.  In fact, the outbursts I referred to earlier had the potential of triggering a third intifada.  People were waiting for a leadership to emerge, as happened during the first intifada; three months into the intifada, a unified leadership emerged and took charge. But this time, the PA wasn’t interested in assuming that role; three months into these protests, the PA sent its people to disrupt actions and prevent young people from gathering at checkpoints. The national factions were unable to form a unified leadership for obvious reasons.

IA: What is the alternative?

JJ: People have to create a national movement that can lead the change. What will lead the movement for change will not be a single individual. It will be a widespread national movement that has a real relationship with people on the ground, a movement that will direct the street. This is the only way change will take place. People have been waiting for a long time, but who are we waiting for? There is not going to be a great charismatic leader. We don’t talk about a heroic leader, we talk about a heroic people and a leadership of institutions.

We want a Palestinian state that represents all Palestinians. Within that broad outline, we say that right now, we have to protect the Palestinian project – the right to self-determination, and we all struggle for that right. We don’t have to get into a discussion about the final outcome. The time for the two state solution is clearly over—and in fact, that proposal provided the basis for trying to destroy our cause. The other option is clear. But like I said, we don’t want that discussion to detract from our focus now or to place us in conflict with the position of the PLO.

How do we support the Palestinian project? We have to confront what is happening in Jerusalem, the settlements. There has to be a practical program, not just slogans on paper. Palestinians in the diaspora should support these activities, get involved in the boycott movement, because we are part of that boycott movement. We are trying to keep the political work and the boycott movement separate to protect the boycott movement, because there is a Palestinian effort underway to weaken the BDS movement; through normalization, by invoking the PLO position. We consider the boycott movement an essential component of our activism.

This is what people are discussing today, here and with our people in the 1948 areas, and in the diaspora. There has to be a movement that preserves the unity of the Palestinian people and protects the national cause from liquidation. That’s what we are working on now. I expect that in the next few weeks there will be a meeting to put in writing some of the agreed upon principles underlying all of these actions. Many meetings have taken place, and they are being expanded.

SK: We are looking at all ways to get all Palestinians to participate under a banner of a common cause that unites us all. In the 1948 areas, the issue is colonization and civil rights, but Palestinians within Israel don’t find themselves too far apart from those in the West Bank and Gaza. In the West Bank, the issues are Judaization, settlements, attacks against the holy sites. Those in Gaza are concerned about 12-year siege and blockade, hunger, and murder. Those in the diaspora want the right of return. All of these are national issues that unite us, but each location faces specific threats.

The next phase will be difficult, as we figure out how to present a vision that unites all people, especially the youth, which have been marginalized, to be effective participants.  Since 2012, we have been in contact with the youth. About 76% of the population is 35 years old or younger. And yet no one is making a practical effort to involve them in political planning and decision making. As a campaign, we made a deliberate decision about this. Programs grow old, and so do people. So we need an extension, and the youth movement is part of that. Our hope is to create a mass youth activist base so that our energy will be renewed. We see in the diaspora and in the 1948 areas that the majority of activists are young – the marches in Haifa, confronting the Judaization of the Galilee, activism around the depopulated villages of 1948, the attempt to seize homes in Akka — young people are confronting these issues. We must raise the slogan of confronting colonialism, which is the main cause of what we face.  We Palestinians  have to work together, not against one another, and not expect solutions from others.

What they are doing is preparatory to a major outbreak; there will be a launch of boats to break the blockade, and not just from Gaza, and a rush toward all entry points to Palestine, without exception. Either we live with dignity, or we declare an intifada on those who deny us a life with dignity.

Everyone is targeted. In the West Bank, there are mass arrests, home demolitions, checkpoints, and people on the run. The idea of civil disobedience is not a slogan. We can rebel against all forms of Israeli control within the framework of a national program. Since the international community has not acted, what prevents Palestinians from adjacent countries from moving on mass to the border, as occurred in 2012 (and some were able to make it to Jaffa). Those in the diaspora might have ongoing marches in front of Israeli embassies and its supporters. They can paralyze Israel’s work in all countries. These are not the usual slogans or approaches to political work.  There is no need to hold on to agreements and positions that Israel long ago abandoned.

In 1948 we looked to what the international community might give us; it gave to Israel but nothing to us. There were conditions placed on it for recognition: its treatment of the Palestinian minority, accepting the Palestinian right of return, and the creation of a Palestinian state. None of them was fulfilled. After 1967, Palestinians agreed to accept 22% of historical Palestine, but even that was unacceptable for Israel. Palestinians can’t continue to think in terms of what Israel might be willing to give us.

We have a right to exist and to determine our own destiny. This is the issue that concerns us.

Notes.

[1] “Gaza protests: All the latest updates,” Al Jazeera, June 14, 2018, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/04/gaza-protest-latest-updates-180406092506561.html. See also Kate, “Israel has shot 29 medics at Gaza border, killing two,” Mondoweiss,http://mondoweiss.net/2018/06/israel-medics-killing/amp/

[2] Ida Audeh, “Interview with Jamal Juma’: PA ‘killing popular resistance.’” Electronic Intifada, August 8, 2011,https://electronicintifada.net/content/jamal-juma-pa-killing-popular-resistance/10249

[3] “Living conditions in Gaza ‘more and more wretched’ over past decade, UN finds,” UN News, 11 July 2017, https://news.un.org/en/story/2017/07/561302-living-conditions-gaza-more-and-more-wretched-over-past-decade-un-finds. Status Audio Journal Hosts, “Under siege: Daily life in Gaza with Rawan Yaghi,” Jadaliyya, May 16, 2018, http://www.jadaliyya.com/Details/37563/Under-Siege-Daily-Life-in-Gaza-with-Rawan-Yaghi. Gaza in Context Team, “Understanding Gaza in context,” Jadaliyya, May 16, 2018, http://www.jadaliyya.com/Details/37562/Understanding-Gaza

[4] The 2013 encampment known as Bab al-Shams was an attempt by Palestinians to thwart Israeli plans to establish a settlement on land in the E1 zone, between East Jerusalem and the Jewish-only settlement Ma’ale Adumim; the Israeli plan was designed to permanently sever the West Bank from East Jerusalem. Another encampment, Bab al-Karama, was set up in Beit Iksa and stormed by Israeli soldiers two days later. In July 2014, Israeli settlers in Jerusalem abducted 16-year-old Mohammad Abu Khdeir from Shufat and set him on fire; the ensuing demonstrations resulted in 160 Palestinians injured. Israel’s assault on Gaza began five days later. One year later, settlers set fire to a residence in Duma. The soul survivor of the attack was a 4-year-old child; the child’s parents and infant brother were killed. In 2015, a tent encampment, “Gate of Jerusalem,” was set up in Abu Dis to protest the Israeli government’s plans to displace Bedouin communities there. Beginning in September 2015 and lasting until the end of the year, protests spread from the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem throughout the West Bank; 108 Palestinians were killed and 12,260 were injured.  Palestinians in Israel demonstrated in solidarity.

Ida Audeh is a Palestinian from the West Bank who lives in Colorado. She is the editor of Birzeit University: The Story of a National Institution, published by Birzeit University in 2010. She can be reached at idaaudeh A T yahoo D O T com.

June 22, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The War in Afghanistan is Killing More People Than Ever

By Edward Hunt | Lobe Log | June 20, 2018

Seventeen years into the war in Afghanistan, the longest war in U.S. history, violence has never been worse. In 2017, more than 20,000 Afghans died, a new record.

The dead include an estimated 10,000 Afghan security forces, 10,000 Taliban forces, and 3,438 civilians. Although there is no reliable data on Afghan casualties available to the public, reports published by the Costs of War Project at Brown University indicate that the annual death toll for the Afghan population has never been higher than it was in 2017.

For civilians, the last four years of the war have been the deadliest, with more than 3,400 civilians killed each year from 2014-2017, according to data from the United Nations and the Costs of War Project.

“We are concerned that we will see greater harm this year unless necessary steps are taken by all parties to prevent civilian casualties,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Secretary General’s special representative for Afghanistan.

The record violence comes as the Trump administration has intensified the war against the Taliban. Although President Trump repeatedly indicated before he was president that he opposed the war and wanted to end it, he has instructed U.S. military forces to take more aggressive action.

“In Afghanistan, I’ve lifted restrictions and expanded authorities for commanders in the field,” Trump acknowledged last year. The new approach, according to Brigadier General Lance Bunch, means that “the gloves are off.” U.S. military forces are now looking for “any opportunity to target the enemies of Afghanistan wherever we find them in the theater.”

With the new authorities, the U.S.-led coalition has been waging a more aggressive war. In 2017, U.S. forces tripled the number of airstrikes against enemy forces. They also helped Afghan security forces intensify offensive operations against the Taliban.

“In the last year, we’ve seen offensive operations, kind of unprecedented over the last few years, by the Afghan security forces,” U.S. General John Nicholson, the commander of coalition forces in Afghanistan, has commented.

Administration officials acknowledge that they expected the Taliban to respond to the increase in military pressure with more violence. “And so we anticipated this,” Secretary of Defense James Mattis has said. In March, State Department official Alice Wells remarked that “it will not come as a surprise if we see more terrorist tactics addressed at urban audiences.”

The increase in violence has been devastating for the Afghan people. According to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, which tracks civilian casualties, more than 3,400 Afghan civilians have died and more than 6,800 Afghan civilians have been injured in each of the past four years of the war.

Afghan officials quietly acknowledge that about 10,000 Afghan security forces died last year, a significant increase from previous years. Fearing that the publication of the numbers could undermine morale and hinder ongoing recruitment efforts in Afghanistan, the U.S. military has begun censoring the records.

Although U.S. and Afghan officials estimate that about 10,000 Taliban forces were killed in 2017, Gen. Nicholson has said that “enemy casualty rates have been much higher.” Either way, last year’s combined death toll for Afghan combatants is about 20,000 people.

Despite the record death toll, the Trump administration remains committed to its strategy. “Progress and violence coexist in Afghanistan,” Secretary Mattis recently commented.

The U.S. military’s primary objective is to bring at least 80 percent of the Afghan population under the control of the Afghan government. According to a classified study, the Afghan government might prevail in the war if it achieves this goal. “The focus of our military operations is on increasing and expanding population control by the government of Afghanistan,” General Joseph Votel, the commander of U.S. Central Command, told Congress earlier this year.

The Trump administration’s approach is failing. Not only are record numbers of Afghans dying, but the Afghan government has been losing control of the population. In its latest report to Congress, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction confirmed that the Afghan government’s control has dropped from 69 percent in August 2016 to 65 percent in January 2018.

Last year, the U.S. intelligence community largely predicted the failures. Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats told the Senate Armed Services Committee that “the political and security situation in Afghanistan will almost certainly deteriorate through 2018 even with a modest increase in military assistance by the United States and its partners.”

Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has said that the war has reached a new low. “After 17 years in Afghanistan the situation is worse than it’s ever been,” Hagel commented earlier this year.

Perhaps the best hope for Afghanistan now lies with a growing Afghan peace movement, which has been calling for an immediate ceasefire and talks to end the war. Not only has it succeeded in getting Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to announce a temporary ceasefire, but the Taliban announced its own ceasefire, leading to a few days of peace and celebrations throughout the country.

“I think President Ghani is responding to and indeed reflecting the desire of a wide cross-section of Afghans… in desiring to see a reduction in violence and a way forward to an end to the conflict,” a senior State Department official said.

The Afghan government plans to maintain the ceasefire for the immediate future, despite the recent decision by Taliban officials to resume fighting.

Edward Hunt writes about war and empire. He has a PhD in American Studies from the College of William & Mary.

June 22, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , | 2 Comments

Dutch state channel caves to pressure from pro-Israel group over Gaza, Iran

MEMO | June 22, 2018

A Dutch state TV station has apologised twice following complaints from Jewish groups that its coverage was biased against Israel.

According to Israeli sources, NOS, Netherlands’ main public broadcaster, made two retractions within the space of two weeks amid protests by Dutch Jews and others who complained that the state-funded organisation has an institutional anti-Israel bias.

Though a senior NOS spokesperson has denied accusations of anti-Israel bias, the broadcaster has been forced to retract comments about Israel’s occupation and suggesting that Iran and Israel face the same level of threat from each other.

NOS retracted comments, which described Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza as a protest for the right to return to areas that were occupied by Israel after 1948. The broadcast said that those taking part in the “March of Return” wanted to “return to areas that since the establishment of Israel in 1948 are occupied.”

In their retraction, NOS said that the land that came under the control of the Jewish state following the 1949 armistice that ended its war of independence is internationally recognised as belonging to Israel.

The revised statement appears to endorse the Israeli line, which claims that the Palestinians protesting in Gaza have no legitimate rights to return to the land from which they were expelled by Israel in 1948 and the various wars that followed.

Under international law, an armistice line to end hostilities is not the final border, which is to be agreed through negotiations. Israel’s non-declaration of its borders is one of the means by which it has continued to expand its colonies outside what is internationally regarded as the armistice line. The non-resolution of the refugee question also, under international law, means that they have every right to demand a return to their land and receive compensation for their expulsion and loss.

In its second retraction, NOS withdrew the comment that “Iran and Israel are arch-enemies that regularly threaten one another with destruction.” According to the retracted statement Iranian officials have often spoken about Israel’s destruction but Israeli have not. NOS acknowledged this after protests by the Centre for Information and Documentation on Israel (CIDI), a pro-Israel group.

The retraction demanded by the pro-Israeli group sent the message that Israel and Iran are not mutually calling for each other’s destruction; which they alleged was only coming from the Iranians. “Israel sees Iran, which regularly threatens to destroy Israel, as a grave danger,” the corrected text reads. Israel has threatened repeatedly “to intervene, also with bombing of Iranian targets”.

Dick Jansen, the chief editor of international news at NOS, said the original phrasing was “insensitive”.

June 22, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , | 1 Comment

Russian Envoy: “Deal of Century” a Matter of Surrender to ‘Israel’, Not Peace

Al-Manar | June 22, 2018

Russian Envoy to Lebanon, Alexander Zasypkin, stressed that the so-called “deal of century” with the Zionist entity is a matter of surrender, not peace with the occupation regime.

In an interview with Lebanese daily, Al-Akhbar, the Russian diplomat said that Tel Aviv bets on the Arabic obedience.

“The deal of century is a matter of surrender. It’s not peace. Israel’s calculations which suit with some Arab states don’t match with the condition of Syria, Lebanon and Palestine,” Zasypkin told Al-Akhbar’s Firas Al-Shoufi.

He said stressed that the Syrian army will retake control of the war-torn country’s south, ruling out a possible confrontation between the Zionist entity from one side and Iranian and Hezbollah from the other side.

“When discussions started on de-escalation zones, there were talks with all sides on importance of confronting terrorism. Israel fears the presence of Iran and Hezbollah in Syria. We say that the Syrian army is now engaged with the Russian forces in liberating the country’s south, and there is no justification for any Israeli action that could derail confronting terrorism,” the Russian diplomat said.

But he acknowledged that the Zionist entity exploits the presence of terrorist in Syria’s south, but assured that the terrorists will be crushed at last.

“A confrontation is not of favor of any side. There exists a balance of deterrence,” Zasypkin said.

On the other hand, the Russian ambassador dismissed reports of alleged disagreements between Russia and Syria, stressing that such reports are just “out of place propaganda” aimed at sowing discord between the two states whose alliance is “deep”.

“Russia and Iran are bound by very big geopolitical and even economic interests and their alliance is deep, not only in Syria but in entire Eurasia,” Zasypkin added.

Meanwhile, the Russian envoy revealed that the US has been renewing its support to the terrorist groups in Syria, ISIL and Nusra Front.

“It’s right that ISIL and Nusra were dealt blows. However, they still exit and are being supported by US, and they pose a threat to stability and are capable of launching attacks. Now, we have information that the US has renewed its support to some terrorist groups, including to White Helmets which belongs to Nusra,” Zaspakin told the Lebanese daily.

June 22, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Trump-Putin summit should be welcomed, not feared

By Neil Clark | RT | June 22, 2018

The news that Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are preparing to meet in Europe next month has been causing consternation among those keen to keep the temperature of the new ‘Cold War’ close to freezing point.

But these voices should be ignored, as a summit is just what is needed at the present time.

“Meeting jaw to jaw is better than war,” Winston Churchill famously observed. Which sane person, desirous of world peace, could possibly disagree with the sentiment?

Yet, it seems that some people in the corridors of power in the West and in neocon think-tanks are seriously alarmed by the prospect of the presidents of the US and Russia getting together for a tete-a-tete and possibly defusing current tensions.

The London Times has cited Whitehall sources who told the paper how worried they were about a Trump-Putin get-together. “It would be a highly negative thing to do,” one unnamed insider said. “Everyone is perturbed by what is going on, and is fearing for the future of the [Atlantic] alliance,” said another.

Meanwhile, in the New Yorker, Susan B. Glasser informs us that many Russia ‘experts’ are worried that Putin “is intent upon securing major concessions from Trump.” She also cites George W. Bush’s former ambassador to Russia, Alexander Vershbow, who lambasted the idea of a meeting as a “bonding session with another dictator.”

“Get ready for another lavish televised love-fest, this time between Trump and Putin,” warns Anne Applebaum. The Washington Post columnist fears there will be a ‘trade.’ “We stop holding military exercises in Europe. In exchange, we allow Russia to keep Crimea.”

“Also,” she adds, “we will throw in Alaska.”

If we go back to the early 1970s, we’d find Applebaum’s predecessors equally concerned that President Nixon – another Republican president loathed by liberals – was keen on a rapprochement with the Soviet Union. In fact, a review of the diplomatic moves made by Nixon and the opposition he faced from uber-hawks inside America is highly instructive.

On May 22, 1972, Nixon became the first serving US president to set foot inside the Kremlin. Four days later, the president and his Soviet counterpart Leonid Brezhnev signed SALT 1 (the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks), described by Jeremy Isaacs and Taylor Downing in their book ‘Cold War’ as “an event of considerable significance.”

“After 25 years of hostility, the Soviet Union and the United States had agreed to curb spiraling arms-race costs, and reduce the risks of nuclear war,” they wrote.

Who couldn’t be happy about this? Senator Henry Jackson – aka the ‘Senator from Boeing’ – for one. As the New York Times explained in 1988.

SALT 1 was an executive agreement, not a treaty, so it could not be blocked by the Senate. “So Jackson pushed through a resolution that set stiff terms for any future treaties, demanding, among other things, that they produce rough numerical equality,” it wrote.

Jackson also opposed the agreement on Security and Cooperation in Europe, signed in Helsinki on August 1, 1975, commonly regarded as ‘detente’s high point.’

“As if to symbolize this new spirit of goodwill, the American Apollo and the Soviet Soyuz spacecraft docked together in outer space, 140 miles above Earth. For two days, the astronauts of rival systems carried out joint experiments while orbiting Earth. Detente had replaced decades of confrontation,” note Isaacs and Downing.

And remember, all this had happened under Republican presidents (Nixon and Ford).

Fast forward to today, and it’s the disciples of ‘Scoop’ Jackson who once again seem terrified that a meeting between Trump and Putin will lead to a new ‘spirit of goodwill’ between East and West.

That would never do, as Russia must always be regarded as the enemy – unless of course it does absolutely everything the West demands of it.

Trump and Putin could be a re-run of Nixon and Brezhnev. They could start to talk about arms limitation. They could start to talk about new security and co-operation arrangements. They could embrace each other warmly and declare that the US and Russia would never go to war with each other.

Of course, if such positive moves were made, people across the world would be delighted, as they were in 1972 and 1975. But defense industry lobbyists won’t be.

In ’Fog,’ a 1969 episode of the classic UK television series ‘The Avengers,’ members of the world disarmament committee meet in London, and are bumped off one by one by a mysterious ‘Gaslight Ghoul.’ We’re led to believe that the guilty party is an old-fashioned, politically incorrect ‘Empire loyalist’ Sir Geoffrey Armstrong but in fact (Plot Spoiler Alert), it’s the more ‘progressive’ Mark Travers. And his motive? He has an armaments business. He profits from wars and conflicts. That’s why the very idea of the great powers co-operating is anathema to him.

Mark is able to ‘disguise’ himself as a good guy because he doesn’t espouse the reactionary ‘Colonel Blimp’ views of Sir Geoffrey. Sound familiar?

Any US presidents who have worked for arms limitation and better relations with the Kremlin have faced fierce opposition, even if they’ve been former hawks themselves.

In 1975, Ronald Reagan opposed Helsinki, saying “All Americans should be against it.” He stepped up the arms race when he became president in 1981 and referred to the Soviet Union as ‘the evil empire.’ But in 1984, at the time when the pop group Frankie Goes to Hollywood were warning us of the dangers of nuclear Armageddon with their smash hit ‘Two Tribes,’ Reagan changed course quite dramatically. The president’s ambitious goal was a world without nuclear weapons. The hawks in the US and Britain were alarmed over this volte face. On November 19, 1985 Reagan met new Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev for the first time.

“They got on famously – even better when alone together,” Isaacs and Downing record. Just over two years later, the two men signed a historic arms-control agreement in the White House.

But it could have been even more extensive. At the Reykjavik summit in October 1986, Reagan said he was willing to eliminate all nuclear weapons within 10 years. The Star Wars (SDI) defense programme proved the sticking point – but in Downing Street there was enormous relief that a deal was not struck – wedded to concerns that nuclear disarmament might still happen at a future date.

“My own reaction when I heard how far the Americans had been prepared to go was as if there had been an earthquake beneath my feet,” British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher later wrote. “I supported the idea of a 50-percent direction in strategic ballistic missiles over five years, but the president’s proposals to eliminate them all together after 10 years was a different matter… Somehow I had to get the Americans back onto the firm ground of a credible policy of nuclear deterrence. I arranged to fly to the United States to see President Reagan.”

The ‘Iron Lady’ went to Camp David and persuaded Reagan to take what she saw as a firmer line. A statement was released which declared: “The president reaffirmed the United States’ intention to proceed with its strategic modernization program, including Trident. He also confirmed his full support for the arrangements made to modernize Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent, with Trident.”

“I had reason to be well pleased,” wrote Thatcher.

Then, as now, it was Britain urging the US to maintain a tough stance towards Moscow. That’s worth remembering whenever you hear someone say that London always acts as Washington’s poodle – because sometimes it’s the UK government that’s the more hawkish.

Thatcher believed that Europe would have been ‘dangerously exposed’ if Reagan’s disarmament plans had been accepted. Today, we hear similar fears being expressed over a Trump-Putin summit. The future of NATO, we’re told, could be threatened. Yet significantly, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg is not among the voices articulating this concern. Speaking in London this week, the former Norwegian PM dismissed fears that a meeting between Trump and Putin would undermine Western security.

“To meet President Putin is not in any way contradictory to NATO policies… Several NATO leaders have met Putin… We do not want a new Cold War. We do not want a new arms race. We want to talk to Russia,” Stoltenberg said.

The NATO chief’s diplomatic statements are a blow to those who don’t want any meaningful dialogue between East and West. But they will be welcomed by all those who want to see the US and its allies move towards a new era of detente with Moscow, which could only be for the benefit of the entire world.

June 22, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | 1 Comment

Raised eyebrows as Madeleine Albright & Bana Alabed to be honored for ‘defending freedom’

RT | June 20, 2018

The pro-NATO Atlantic Council think tank is set to honor former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Syrian child activist Bana Alabed at its Freedom Awards this week.

The Freedom Awards honor individuals who “defend and advance the cause of freedom around the world” and will be hosted in Berlin later this week — but the nominations have caused quite a few puzzled reactions online.

According to the Atlantic Council website, Albright will be recognized for her “championing of global democracy” and as an exemplar of “the power of diplomacy in achieving solutions to the most pressing challenges facing our world.”

Albright seems like an odd choice, however, given she is known around the world for defending US sanctions on Iraq which caused the deaths of more than half a million Iraqi children.

When asked in an infamous 1996 interview if she thought the sanctions were “worth” the price — the price being hundreds of thousands of dead children — Albright replied almost without hesitation, that “the price is worth it.”

Alongside Albright will be a 9-year-old Twitter activist who is no stranger to controversy herself. Numerous Syrian and international commentators have argued that Syrian opposition icon Bana Alabed has been exploited by her parents and others as a propaganda tool for a pro-war agenda.

Bana began tweeting pro-US intervention messages on Twitter when she was just seven years old. Her tweets were written in perfect English and often incendiary. On one occasion, Bana’s Twitter account posted that it was “better to start 3rd world war instead of letting Russia & assad commit #HolocaustAleppo.”

Despite the controversy surrounding her account and accusations of child exploitation, Alabed will be honored by the Atlantic Council for her “use of social media to bring global attention to the plight of children in rebel-held areas of Syria.”

But maybe the Atlantic Council’s choice of nominees for its Freedom Awards shouldn’t be so surprising. In 2016, the think tank chose to bestow the award on the Syrian Civil Defence, also known as the White Helmets – a controversial outfit which bills itself as a first-responders group in the Syrian war, but operates exclusively in militant-held areas and has been accused of links to terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda.

June 22, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

The Pro-War Media Deserve Criticism, Not Sainthood

By James Bovard | Future of Freedom | June 20, 2018

The media nowadays are busy congratulating themselves for their vigorous criticism of Donald Trump. To exploit that surge of sanctimony, Hollywood producer Steven Spielberg rushed out The Post, a movie depicting an epic press battle with the Nixon administration. Critics raved over the film, which the New York Post enthusiastically labeled “journalism porn of the highest order.” Boston Public Radio station WBUR called it the “most fun you’ll ever have at a civics lesson.”

Spielberg, touting his movie, claimed that “the free press is a crusader for truth,” But the media hoopla around The Post is akin to geezers boasting of having shown moments of courage when they were almost 50 years younger.

The Post is built around the Pentagon Papers, a secret study begun in 1967 analyzing where the Vietnam War had gone awry. The 7000-page tome showed that presidents and military leaders had been profoundly deceiving the American people ever since the Truman administration and that the same mistakes were being endlessly repeated. Like many policy autopsies, the report was classified as secret and completely ignored by the White House and federal agencies, which most needed to heed its lessons. New York Times editor Tom Wicker commented in 1971 that “the people who read these documents in the Times were the first to study them.”

Daniel Ellsberg, a former Pentagon official, heroically risked life in prison to smuggle the report to the media after members of Congress were too cowardly to touch it. The New York Times shattered the political sound barrier when it began courageously publishing the report despite a profusion of threats from the Nixon administration Justice Department. After a federal court slapped the Times with an injunction, the Washington Post and other newspapers published additional classified excerpts from the report.

The Post ignores the fact that U.S. government policy on Vietnam did not become more honest after the Pentagon Papers disclosure. In such cases, the government’s notion of “repenting” is merely to substitute new and often more-ludicrous falsehoods. Besides, as retired State Department whistleblower Peter van Buren noted, “The Post has no real interest in the Pentagon Papers except as a plot device, almost an excuse needed to make this movie.”

Because the Washington Post had a female publisher, Spielberg made it, rather than the Times, the star of the show. Van Buren suggested, “Spielberg might as well have costumed Meryl Streep (who played Post publisher Katherine Graham) in a pink pussy hat for the boardroom scenes.” The movie fails to mention Graham’s cozy relationship with President Lyndon Johnson. A few weeks after John F. Kennedy was assassinated, a secret tape made by the Johnson White House captured Johnson and Graham (whom he called “sweetheart”) flirting up a storm during a phone call. She later flew to his Texas ranch for a personal visit.

Spielberg’s movie portrays Post editor Ben Bradlee denouncing dishonest government officials to Graham: “The way they lied — those days have to be over.” Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, who deluged the media with falsehoods about battlefront progress, did more than anyone else (except perhaps Lyndon Johnson) to vastly increase the bloodbath for Americans and Vietnamese. McNamara’s disastrous deceits did not deter the Washington Post from appointing him to its board of directors. As Norman Solomon, author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death, recently observed, “The Washington Post was instrumental in avidly promoting the lies that made the Vietnam War possible in the first place.”

The Pentagon Papers proved that politicians and their tools will brazenly con the American public to drag the nation into unnecessary wars. But that lesson vanished into the D.C. Memory Hole — conveniently for bootlicking journalists such as Post superstar Bob Woodward. The late Robert Parry, a Washington correspondent for Newsweek in the late 1980s, declared that he saw “self-censorship because of the coziness between Post-Newsweek executives and senior national security figures.”

Post-Vietnam coziness

Perhaps the memory of winning the Pentagon Papers showdown with the feds helped make the media overconfident about their ability to resist the temptation to become political tools. New York Times columnist Flora Lewis, writing three weeks before the 9/11 attacks, commented in a review of a book on U.S. government lies on the Vietnam war, “There will probably never be a return to the discretion, really collusion, with which the media used to treat presidents, and it is just as well.” Within months of her comment, the media had broken almost all prior kowtowing records. CNN chief Walter Isaacson explained, “Especially right after 9/11 … there was a real sense that you don’t get that critical of a government that’s leading us in wartime.”

On March 17, 2003, George W. Bush justified invading Iraq by invoking UN resolutions purporting to authorize the United States “to use force in ridding Iraq of weapons of mass destruction.” A year later, he performed a skit at the Radio and Television Correspondents’ annual dinner featuring slides showing him crawling around the Oval Office peaking behind curtains as he quipped to the poohbah attendees, “Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere…. Nope, no weapons over there…. Maybe under here?” The crowd loved it and the Post headlined its report on the evening, “George Bush, Entertainer in Chief.” Greg Mitchell, the editor of Editor and Publisher, labeled the press’s reaction that night as “one of the most shameful episodes in the recent history of the American media and presidency.”

Most of the media had embedded themselves for the Iraq war long before that dinner. The Post blocked or buried pre-war articles exposing the Bush team’s shams on Iraq; their award-winning Pentagon correspondent Thomas Ricks complained, “There was an attitude among editors: ‘Look, we’re going to war; why do we even worry about all this contrary stuff?’” Instead, before the war started, the Post ran 27 editorials in favor of invasion and 140 front-page articles supporting the Bush administration’s case for attacking Saddam. The New York Times printed a barrage of false claims on WMDs while axing articles by Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter James Risen demolishing “the administration’s claims of a link between Iraq and al-Qaeda.” The New York Times also refused to publish classified documents showing pervasive illegal National Security Agency spying on Americans prior to the 2004 election, even though it had received the proof of vast wrongdoing. If the Times had not flinched, George W. Bush might have been denied a second term.

Broadcast media were even quicker to grovel for the war effort. PBS NewsHour host Jim Lehrer explained, “It would have been difficult to have had debates [about invading Iraq]…. You’d have had to have gone against the grain.” Lehrer neglected to say exactly how kowtowing became patriotic. News anchor Katie Couric revealed in 2008 that there was pressure from “the corporations who own where we work and from the government itself to really squash any kind of dissent or any kind of questioning of” the Iraq war.

And now, Syria

Despite the role of media gullibility (or worse) in helping the Bush administration sell the Iraq war, the press showed scant skepticism about subsequent U.S. attacks abroad. The media behave at times as if government lies are dangerous only when the president is a certified bad guy — like Richard Nixon or Donald Trump. Barack Obama’s semi-sainthood minimized media criticism of his Syrian debacle — a civil war in which the United States initially armed one side (Syrian rebels who largely turned out to be terrorists) and then switched sides, a flip-flop that resulted in far more dead Syrians. But Americans have received few insights into that bellicose schizophrenia from the media. Historian Stephen Kinzer wrote in the Boston Globe, “Coverage of the Syrian war will be remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the American press.” Even in the Trump era — when the press is openly clashing with a president — bombing still provides push-button presidential redemption. Trump’s finest hour, according to much of the media, occurred in April 2017 when he attacked the Assad regime with 59 cruise missiles, raising hopes that the U.S. military would topple the Syrian government.

When Trump announced he was sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, the Washington Post editorial page hailed his “principled realism” — regardless of the futility of perpetuating that quagmire. At a time when Trump is saber-rattling against Iran and North Korea, the media should be vigorously challenging official claims before U.S. bombs begin falling. Instead, much of the coverage of rising tensions with foreign regimes could have been written by Pentagon flacks.

Richard Nixon’s henchman H.R. Haldeman warned Nixon that the Pentagon Papers might make people believe “you can’t trust the government; you can’t believe what they say; and you can’t rely on their judgment. And the implicit infallibility of presidents, which has been an accepted thing in America, is badly hurt by this.” Unfortunately, much of the media continue to presume that presidents are infallible — as long as they are killing enough foreigners.

One of the starkest lessons of the Pentagon Papers was that politicians and their henchmen will tell unlimited lies — and ignore stark warnings — to plunge the nation into unnecessary foreign wars. And forgotten falsehoods almost guarantee new political treachery. Politicians don’t need to provide strong evidence as long as the media continue treating them as if they were Delphic oracles. Truth delayed is truth defused because there is no way to rescind bombs that have already detonated.

Media tub-thumpers were crestfallen when The Post struck out on Academy Awards night (it was nominated for Best Picture and other categories). But that worked out well for history, since it leaves the path more open for subsequent documentaries or movies that provide more honest exposure of how wars get started and perpetuated. Future movies might even venture into the forbidden ground of media docility regarding systemic violations of human rights.

Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, in his 1971 opinion on the New York Times’ right to publish the Pentagon Papers, declared, “Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.” Unfortunately, the media often choose to trumpet official lies instead of fighting them. Permitting glorious tales from eight presidencies ago to absolve subsequent media kowtowing would be as foolish as forgetting the lessons of the original Pentagon Papers. Worshipping the media is as foolish as worshiping politicians.

 

June 22, 2018 Posted by | Fake News, Film Review, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Trump riding high and set to roll the dice for a summit with Putin

By M.K. Bhadrakumar | Asia Times | June 22, 2018

If the Trump White House had let it be known a couple of months ago that it was working with the Kremlin to schedule a summit meeting between the two presidents, all hell would have broken loose in the Washington Beltway. But that isn’t happening. There is an eerie calm in Washington, as if Trump’s detractors have run out of ammunition.

What explains it? First, the fizz seems to have gone out of the Russia collusion theory. Robert Mueller could keep uncovering crimes in American public life (of which there is no dearth) forever but he has not been able to say he has actually substantiated the Russia collusion theory. The latest Pew Research Center analysis on June 20 reveals that only 28% Americans remain any longer “very confident” of the fairness of Mueller’s investigation, while four-in-10 say they are not too sure (19%) or are at all confident (21%) in his ability to do this.

Pew admits: “Republicans and Democrats offer starkly different assessments of Mueller’s conduct of the investigation and Trump’s ability to deal with it, and these partisan differences extend to views of the importance of the investigation itself.”

This partly explains why the cascade of criticism that could have been expected over Trump’s plan for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin hasn’t materialized – although a lavish, televised lovefest is sure to make a mockery of the Mueller inquest.

Fundamentally, Trump has had remarkable success in boosting his political standing among members of his own party. As Susan Glasser wrote in the New Yorker recently: “Increasingly, few Republicans are willing to stand in Trump’s way, even when the President’s policies clash with their own deeply held views.”

The recent lamentation by John Boehner, the former Republican speaker of the US House of Representatives – “There is no Republican Party. There is a Trump Party” – may be an exaggeration that he made while sipping a Bloody Mary on stage at a recent conference in Michigan. Nonetheless, as Glasser writes: “The political reality is simply this: President Trump is now too popular with the Republican base to challenge, even when he appears to be upending policies the party of Reagan has embraced for decades.”

Thus, when Trump presses ahead with a meeting with Putin (which he wanted all along), there is now an air of resignation about it. To be sure, Trump’s dramatic, showy one-one-one meeting with the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un recently has rewritten America’s contemporary diplomatic history. And he rewrote it all by himself while no one back home was even sure whether he should do it.

Trump-Putin summit: perfect next act?

Russia, of course, is different. But the analogy of the Art of the Deal is still relevant and why should Trump give up on his campaign vision of closer ties with the Russian president without ever testing it? The Russophobes are hard-pressed to find an answer. Thus, it is a fait accompli that as a US president who embraces personal diplomacy with America’s adversaries as his trademark in foreign policy, Trump’s forthcoming summit with Putin becomes a perfect next act.

Did Trump work towards this? The point is, he’s an inscrutable politician. It wasn’t mere coincidence that just before leaving for the recent G-7 summit in Canada, he would think up the unthinkable – Russia’s return to the grouping. The seemingly stray thought actually gets bracketed with his move to abandon the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the vital underpinning of President Barack Obama’s ‘pivot-to-Asia’ strategy (without which a containment strategy against China lacks gravitas).

The common thread is that Trump’s Art of the Deal means putting the focus on America’s interests rather than on the negating of adversaries’ legitimate interests or concerns – be it North Korea or Russia. Of course, if there is an uncomfortable overlap, a deal becomes necessary and Trump believes in his ability to negotiate it.

So, Trump essentially took a pot shot at the West’s containment strategy against Russia by raising the G7 petard. Meanwhile, on a parallel track, the spadework began for a successful summit between Trump and Putin. Of course, there are so many fault lines in the overall relationship and anything can go wrong between now and the summit. The Kremlin can ensure that there is no “sabotage” from the Russian side, but that cannot be said for the Trump White House.

An announcement on the Trump-Putin summit in the second week of July is due any moment. From available indications, the meet will come after Trump’s participation in the NATO summit in Brussels on July 11-12. Trump is also facing resistance from the US’ European allies who fear “exclusion” from a potential US-Russia rapprochement. And the resistance to detente in the US and in Europe coalesces. Yet, Trump’s strategic asset is that with a high popularity rating of 45% he is at his strongest position today politically and could do things pretty much as he always wanted.

The best sign so far is that a three-member group of Republican senators comprising Richard Shelby (Alabama), John Neely Kennedy (Louisiana) and John Hoeven (North Dakota) is visiting Russia in early July on a “reconnaissance mission.” Historically, Moscow preferred to talk with America’s “hawks”. And the good part is that the Trump administration is sponsoring the lawmakers’ visit.

June 22, 2018 Posted by | Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

Analyst Suggests US Can No Longer Use UNHRC to Justify Global Military Ops

Sputnik – 22.06.2018

The United States can no longer use the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to justify its military interventions around the globe, now that it has withdrawn from the world body, US Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity Executive Director Daniel McAdams told Sputnik on Thursday.

“Human rights as an issue is often a cover for foreign interventionism. The US used ‘human rights’ as an excuse to destroy Libya and to launch a seven year proxy war in Syria,” McAdams said. “In fact, it was the UN Human Rights Council that first put the wheels of the US-led attack in Libya in motion.”

McAdams recounted how in the days leading up to NATO’s intervention in Libya, non-governmental organizations petitioned the UN Human Rights Council to demand action in response to alleged atrocities being committed by then-Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi. As a result, the issue was then taken up by the Security Council, which adopted Resolution 1973, a measure that paved the way for NATO’s airstrikes in Libya. Several of the NGOs’ allegations — which formed the basis for NATO’s intervention — later turned out to be false.

“The human rights abuses that Libyans have suffered since their ‘liberation’ far outweigh any they suffered under the rule of Gaddafi,” McAdams said.

On Tuesday, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley announced that the United States decided to suspend its membership in the UNHRC. Haley denounced the organization as hypocritical, saying it was biased against Israel and protected countries that abused human rights, such as Cuba, the Democratic Republic of Congo, China and Venezuela.

“The UN Human Rights Council, like most of the UN, has long ago strayed away from its original purpose,” McAdams said. “When you have notorious human rights abusers like Saudi Arabia — and the US among others — playing a prominent role in determining human rights abuses in other countries, the whole exercise becomes a farce.”

McAdams went on to say that the US withdrawal from the UNHRC would “hopefully reduce” its importance and restrain its ability to be used as a forum to promote conflict.

“The UN’s adopting the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P) doctrine in 2006 has been an unmitigated disaster. The UN was founded as a body of sovereign states seeking to work together as such to eliminate war,” he said. “The destruction of national sovereignty caused by the R2P doctrine means that countries with aggressive foreign policies can use the UN as a fig leaf as a cover. The result is more war, not less. And that is what we are already seeing.”

The US decision to quit the council comes a month after the UNHRC decided to form an independent mechanism to investigate the Israeli Defense Forces’ killings of more than 100 Palestinian protesters along the border with the Gaza Strip since March. Palestinians in Gaza have been staging protests along the border to demand the right to return to their homes now inside Israel. The UNHRC has said that the killings could be considered war crimes and need to be investigated.

According to UNHRC President Vojislav Suc, the UN General Assembly will now decide on a candidate to replace the United States on the Council, which consists of 47 members elected directly by the General Assembly.

Prior to its withdrawal, the United States’ mandate in the UNHRC was expected to last till the end of 2019. It was the country’s second three-year term, after which the US did not have the right to be re-elected.

June 22, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , | 5 Comments