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#IsraelSaudi: A Match Made in Hell

By Alli McCracken and Raed Jarrar | CounterPunch | May 6, 2016

For decades, Saudi Arabia has been a stalwart advocate of Palestinian statehood rights and a voracious critic of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Saudi Arabia’s commitment to Palestine has defined the geopolitical contours of the Middle East for decades. But now that the Iran nuclear deal has been struck and as the war in Syria ravages on, those political lines are being redrawn, bringing together unexpected bedfellows: Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Marketed as a “pathbreaking public dialogue between senior national security leaders from two old adversaries,” May 5, 2016 will feature a high-profile meeting in Washington DC between officials from Saudi Arabia and Israel. Prince Turki bin Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief and one-time ambassador to Washington, and retired Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Major General Yaakov Amidror, former national security advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, will be speaking together at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a pro-Israel organization funded by AIPAC donors, staffed by AIPAC employees, and located down the hall from AIPAC Headquarters.

Saudi Arabia has never engaged in diplomatic relations with Israel since the Nakba in 1948, and at one point even led efforts to boycott the state of Israel. And although this is not the first meeting of its kind (Saudi Arabia and Israel had a former official speak at a Council on Foreign Relations panel last year), it is definitely the highest profile meeting and it is taking place.

While having like-minded human rights abusers such as Saudi Arabia and Israel mingle and meet publicly might come as no surprise to most of us, this event is still bad news: it signals a new era of normalization by the official sponsor of the Arab Peace Initiative.

The Arab Peace initiative, also known as the “Saudi Initiative”, is a 10-sentence proposal for an end to the Arab–Israeli conflict. It was endorsed by the Arab League in 2002 and re-endorsed in 2007, and it is supported by all Palestinian factions, including Hamas. The initiative calls for normalizing relations between the Arab world and Israel in exchange for a complete withdrawal by Israel from the occupied territories (including East Jerusalem). Until now, it has been the most viable blueprint for a two-state solution. The deal also addressed the issue of Palestinian refugees and called for a “just settlement” based on UN Resolution 194.

So, at this political moment when Netanyahu is not showing any willingness to withdraw from the Occupied Palestinian Territory and some of his ministers are calling for the official annexation of the West Bank, Saudi Arabia seems to be giving up on its historic commitments. By normalizing relations with Israel without demanding a just solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Saudi Arabia is diminishing its leverage in negotiating a two-state solution.

In a way, this meeting marks the official demise of the Arab Peace Initiative, but more importantly, as the last standing mechanism for a regionally negotiated resolution, it is yet another indicator that a two-state solution is officially dead.

Alli McCracken is co-director of the peace group CODEPINK based in Washington DC. Raed Jarrar is an Arab-American political advocate based in Washington DC.

May 6, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Touting Isolationism, Trump Employs a String of Neoconservative Advisors

Sputnik – 22.03.2016

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump previously indicated that, if elected, his administration would focus on non-interventionist policies. His list of foreign policy advisers, released on Monday, says otherwise.

As a businessman with no governing experience, foreign policy has always been an especially vulnerable aspect of the billionaire’s presidential campaign. As Trump inches closer to the Republican nomination, his campaign has begun to shift gears, as he will likely face-off against former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

To distance himself from the Democratic frontrunner, he appears to have adopted an isolationist viewpoint. During an interview with the Washington Post on Monday, Trump questioned the need for the NATO alliance.

“We certainly can’t afford to do this anymore,” he said. “NATO is costing us a fortune, and yes, we’re protecting Europe with NATO, but we’re spending a lot of money.”

Trump stated a similar position with regards to US involvement on the Korean peninsula.

“South Korea is [a] very rich, great industrial country, and yet we’re not reimbursed fairly for what we do,” he said. “We’re constantly sending our ships, sending our planes, doing our war games – we’re reimbursed a fraction of what this is all costing.”

But while Trump may be voicing support for non-interventionism, his actions suggest otherwise. The billionaire provided the Post with the five-member list of his foreign policy team, and it includes a string of individuals deeply invested in the military industrial complex.

At the top of that list is Keith Kellogg, a retired Army lieutenant. Kellogg is a former employee of CACI International, a “multinational professional services and information technology company” that operates across the world.

In 2004, CACI was sued by 256 Iraqis over its alleged involvement in torture, war crimes, and crimes against humanity, in relation to the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

Next on Trump’s list is Joe Schmitz, a former inspector general with the US Defense Department and, perhaps even more problematically for Trump’s isolationism, a former employee of security contractor Academi, when the company was still branded as Blackwater.

While Academi was still known as Blackwater, the contractor was vilified after its employees killed 17 Iraqi civilians in 2007. For his part, Schmitz once publicly argued that lawsuits regarding Blackwater’s actions in Afghanistan should be dismissed. He argued that any charges filed in Afghanistan should be subject to regional Sharia law, which, conveniently, does not hold companies responsible for the actions of its employees.

George Papadopoulos, Trump’s third adviser, is the director of the Center for International Energy and Natural Resources Law & Security at the London Center of International Law. While he doesn’t have as questionably hawkish a past as Schmitz and Kellogg, he was a foreign policy adviser to erstwhile presidential hopeful Ben Carson. Given that the neurosurgeon candidate struggled to differentiate “Hamas” from “hummus,” it doesn’t bode well for Trump.

Dr. Walid Phares, another Trump pick, is a professor at the National Defense University in Washington DC. Phares is a former adviser to a violent Christian militia group responsible for a number of human rights violations during the Lebanese Civil War. According to Adam Sewer, writing for Mother Jones, Phares has been described by his colleagues as “one of the group’s chief ideologists, working closely with the Lebanese Forces’ Fifth Bureau, a unit that specialized in psychological warfare.”

Phares served in 2012 as a top adviser to former presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who ran on a promise to “deter Russian ambitions.”

The last name on Trump’s list is Carter Page, a managing partner at private equity firm Global Energy Capital. A former fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Page worked on US-style “economic development” in the Caspian Sea region and in former Soviet states.

Trump may claim that he seeks to reign in US adventurism, but based on the records of his chosen advisers, a Trump presidency would likely mean business as usual.

March 22, 2016 Posted by | Economics, Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Hillary Clinton and the Syrian regime-change conspiracy

By Neil Clark | RT | March 21, 2016

If you’d have said a year ago that the US State Department, Google, and Al Jazeera had been collaborating in pursuance of regime change in Syria, chances are you’d have been casually dismissed as a ‘crank’ and a ‘conspiracy theorist’.

Syria was a people’s uprising against a wicked genocidal Russian-backed dictator and the West had nothing to do with the bloodshed which engulfed the country. If you thought otherwise then you were considered an ‘Assad apologist’.

However, thanks to Wikileaks, the Freedom of Information Act, and Hillary Rodham Clinton’s use of a private, non-secure email server, we can see what was really going on behind the curtain.

Overall, 30,322 emails and attachments dating from June 30, 2010 to August 12, 2014, including 7,570 written by Clinton herself, have been published.

They haven’t made much of an impact in the mainstream media, which is not surprising considering their explosive content.

The emails reveal how the US State Department, ‘independent’ media and Silicon Valley have worked together to try and achieve foreign policy goals.

Particularly damning is a communication from Jared Cohen, the President of ‘Google Ideas’, (now called ‘Jigsaw’), which was sent on July 25, 2012.

“Please keep close hold, but my team is planning to launch a tool on Sunday that will publicly track and map the defections in Syria and which parts of the government they are coming from,” Cohen wrote.

“Our logic behind this is that while many people are tracking the atrocities, nobody is visually representing and mapping the defections, which we believe are important in encouraging more to defect and giving confidence to the opposition,” he went on.

The head of Google Ideas added that his organization was partnering with al Jazeera “who will take primary ownership over the tool we have built.”

Cohen finished his email by repeating his warning: “Please keep this very close hold… We believe this can have an important impact.”

The email was sent to three top officials, Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns (a former Ambassador to Russia), Alec Ross, a senior Clinton adviser on innovation; and Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, Jake Sullivan.

Sullivan forwarded the email to Hillary Clinton with the message: “FYI-this is a pretty cool idea.” On August 4, 2012, Clinton sent the information to her aide Monica Handley. The title heading was: Syria Attachments: Defection Tracker.PDF.

“The Silicon Valley’s technotronic oligarchy have been exposed as a mere extension of the CIA in terms of playing a role in Washington’s state policy of regime change in Syria,” was the verdict of 21st Century Wire.

If you think it’s surprising that a top man at Google should be so interested in a ‘tool’ which could help the ‘opposition’ take power in Syria, then a closer look at Jared Cohen’s career background helps shed some light on the matter.

A Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, Cohen was a bright guy who was clearly fast-tracked for big things. After an internship at the US State Department, he became a member of Condoleeza Rice’s Policy Planning Staff in 2006 when he was just 24 years of age. That same year he had a book published on the Rwandan genocide, while a year later his ‘Children of Jihad – A Young American’s travels among the Youth of the Middle East’ was published.

In 2009, it’s claimed that Cohen personally asked Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey not to interrupt his company’s service in Iran for maintenance. Tehran at the time was preparing for elections and it was apparently believed that the opponents of President Ahmadinejad would be hindered without access to social media.

Since 2010, Cohen has been an Adjunct Senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. In 2013, Time magazine listed the then 32-year-old as one of its 100 Most Influential People in the world.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who met Cohen and Google chairman Eric Schmidt when he was under house-arrest in 2011, has written about Google’s role in assisting US foreign policy goals. “Whether it is being just a company or ‘more than just a company,’ Google’s geopolitical aspirations are firmly enmeshed within the foreign-policy agenda of the world’s largest superpower,” Assange said.

The Wikileaks founder discovered that Jared Cohen had “quietly worked” in Lebanon “to establish an intellectual and clerical rival to Hezbollah, the Higher Shia League.” In Afghanistan, Cohen had tried “to convince the four major Afghan mobile phone companies to move their antennas onto US military bases.”

In June 2010, when Syria was a country still at peace, Cohen traveled to the Arab Republic with Alec Ross. “I’m not kidding when I say I just had the greatest frappuccino ever at Kalamoun University north of Damascus,” he tweeted. Ross, in a more serious mood, tweeted: “This trip to #Syria will test Syria’s willingness to engage more responsibly on issues of#netfreedom”.

In an email dated September 24, 2010, entitled ‘1st known case of a successful social media campaign in Syria’, and which was later forwarded to Hillary Clinton, Ross wrote:

“When Jared and I went to Syria, it was because we knew that Syrian society was growing increasingly young (population will double in 17 years) and digital and that this was going to create disruptions in society that we could potential harness for our purposes”

Those “purposes” were of course “regime change” and break Syria’s alliance with Iran.

We already know, courtesy of Wikileaks, that Washington’s plans to destabilize Syria long pre-dated the so-called ‘Arab Spring’.

A 2006 cable from US Ambassador to Syria William Roebuck discussed “potential vulnerabilities” of the Assad administration and the “possible means to exploit them”.

One of the “possible means” was to seek to divide the Shia and Sunni communities in Syria. In a section entitled PLAY ON SUNNI FEARS OF IRANIAN INFLUENCE, the Ambassador writes:
“There are fears in Syria that the Iranians are active in both Shia proselytizing and conversion of, mostly poor, Sunnis. Though often exaggerated, such fears reflect an element of the Sunni community in Syria that is increasingly upset by and focused on the spread of Iranian influence in their country through activities ranging from mosque construction to business.”

Another was listed as ‘ENCOURAGE RUMORS AND SIGNALS OF EXTERNAL PLOTTING’. This would increase “the possibility of a self-defeating over-reaction” from the Syrian government.

Lo and behold when the protests against the Assad government did kick off in early 2011, the US was quick to accuse the Syrian authorities of over-reacting – which is exactly what they had wanted.

The earlier Wikileaks revelations on Syria tie in with what we learn from Clinton’s emails.

While Western leaders and their media stenographers feign horror and outrage over what’s been happening in Syria, Wikileaks shows us that the possibility of the country being torn apart by sectarian conflict was actually welcomed by Syria’s enemies.

“The fall of the House of Assad could well ignite a sectarian war between the Shiites and the majority Sunnis of the region drawing in Iran, which, in the view of Israeli commanders would not be a bad thing for Israel and its Western allies” Sidney Blumental wrote in a 2012 email to Hillary Clinton.

Blumenthal does point out that not all in Israel’s governing circles thought that way, with concern expressed that the spread of “increasingly conservative Islamic regimes” could make Israel “vulnerable”.

We must remember that if the US and UK got their way in August 2013 and bombed the Assad government, then its likely that IS and al-Qaeda affiliates would have taken control of the entire country. And the most bellicose voices calling for the bombing of a secular government that was fighting IS and al-Qaeda in 2013 were American neocons. This was the same group of hawks who had pushed so hard for the invasion of Iraq 10 years earlier and who had also propagandized for the NATO bombing of Libya in 2011.

Wikileaks confirms that – as was the case in Libya and Iraq – almost everything about the official “western establishment” version of the war in Syria was false.

Far from being an innocent bystander, the US went out of its way to destabilize the country and exploit ethnic and religious divisions.

A huge amount of weaponry was provided -via regional allies -to violent jihadists, euphemistically referred to as ‘rebels’, to try and achieve the goal of ‘regime change’. The rise of ISIS can be directly attributed to the destructive, malignant policies of the US and its allies towards Syria. Don’t forget we’ve already seen a US Intelligence report from August 2012, which stated that “the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria” was “exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime”.

In 2006, the same year that Ambassador Roebuck sent his cable on how the US might exploit the “potential vulnerabilities” of the secular Assad administration, the Syrian authorities foiled a terrorist attack on the US embassy in Damascus.

You might have thought that it would have earned Syria some brownie points with the State Department and its collaborators. But as the HRC emails confirm, it counted for absolutely nothing.


Neil Clark is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and blogger. He has written for many newspapers and magazines in the UK and other countries including The Guardian, Morning Star, Daily and Sunday Express, Mail on Sunday, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, New Statesman, The Spectator, The Week, and The American Conservative. He is a regular pundit on RT and has also appeared on BBC TV and radio, Sky News, Press TV and the Voice of Russia. He is the co-founder of the Campaign For Public Ownership @PublicOwnership. His award winning blog can be found at http://www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. He tweets on politics and world affairs @NeilClark66

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March 21, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hillary Clinton, The Council on Foreign Relations and The Establishment

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By Matt Peppe | Just the Facts | February 22, 2016

When asked by Wolf Blitzer in January if she was “the establishment,” Hillary Clinton replied: “I just don’t understand what that means. He’s been in Congress, he’s been elected to office a lot longer than I have.” Several weeks later, her Democratic primary opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders made the case in a debate that the issue was who had the support of more powerful elected officials, arguing that Clinton has the support of “more governors, mayors, members of the House.”

Clinton framed the notion of “the establishment” as consisting solely of political bodies of elected officials. Sanders simply argued that a better indicator of the establishment is one’s power and influence within political circles.

As part of the “two for the price of one” that Bill Clinton promised during his rise to the Presidency, Hillary is forced to hide from her role in the creation of the neoliberal New Democrats, the dominant faction of the party. During their joint reign in the White House, the Clintons steered the party far to the right with their draconian criminal justice measures, assault on welfare, liberalization of trade, and deregulation of banking. Their cronies continue to staff the highest ranks of the party and the Obama administration.

Clinton, in a desperate piece of deflection, resorted to playing the gender card: “Senator Sanders is the only person who I think would characterize me, a woman running to be the first woman president, as exemplifying the establishment.” This fatuous identity politics is meant to distract from her decades-long tenure at the top of the political system and collusion with those who exercise control over it. Of course, as Bernie points out, Hillary most represents and enjoys the support of the Democratic faction of the political establishment.

But framing the issue as simply a matter of party politics and the electoral system misses the point. Elected officials are merely the public face of the establishment. The broader establishment is the elite class that determines economic policy.

There is no building that says “Establishment” on the door, but there is a century-old institution made up of wealthy and influential representatives of business, Wall Street, corporate law, academia and government. It is a creation of the elite ruling class to ensure their control over shaping policy for their own benefit. Their decisions result in funneling money – and, hence, power – into the hands of a small percentage of capitalists who exercise control over the political process in a positive feedback loop.

In their book Imperial Brain Trust, Laurence Shoup and William Minter write that: “The Council on Foreign Relations is a key part of a network of people and institutions usually referred to by friendly observers as ‘the establishment.’ ” [1]

The Council was founded after World War I in response to growing domestic social tensions and labor unrest. Socialism was gaining in popularity among the American public in an economic environment marred by exploitative working conditions and skyrocketing inequality.

The Council’s mission was to carry out long-term planning for a national agenda. The agenda was meant to undermine a domestic-oriented program that would involve collective decision making to achieve self-sufficiency, and thereby reduce the country’s dependence on foreign resources, trade, and other governments.

Some of the many multinationals that subscribed to the CFR’s Corporation Service included General Motors, Exxon, Ford, Mobil, United States Steel, Texaco, First National City Bank and IBM. [2]

“The Council, dominated by corporate leaders, saw expansion of American trade, investment, and population as the solution to domestic problems. It thought in terms of preservation of the status quo at home, and this involved overseas expansion,” Shoup and Minter write. [3]

This imperialist agenda was achieved through manufacturing the consent of the masses (what they called “public enlightenment”), as well as developing foreign policies and ensuring government officials supported and executed these policies.

The Council has been remarkably successful in its mission. It has achieved a monopoly over foreign policy planning, and become thoroughly integrated with the government that carries out policy prescriptions. Entire administrations have drawn their foreign policy officials from the ranks of the Council. There is a steady two-way flow of personnel between the Council and government.

Both Bill and Chelsea are current members of the CFR. While Hillary herself is not a member, she is no doubt influenced by her immediate family’s ties to the Council. Additionally, her role as Secretary of State involved close collaboration with the Council, as she made clear in a 2009 speech at the Council’s office in Washington:
“I am delighted to be here in these new headquarters. I have been often to – I guess – the mothership in New York City. But it’s good to have an outpost of the Council right here down the street from the State Department. We get a lot of advice from the Council, so this will mean I won’t have as hard a go to be told what we should be doing, and how we should think about the future.” One of many people whose career was launched by his association with the Council was Henry Kissinger. In the late 1950s, he was appointed the director of a study group on nuclear weapons, in collaboration with several of the Council’s directors. The result was a book authored by Kissinger, Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy.

Kissinger went on to serve as possibly the most influential foreign policy official in history under Richard Nixon (and later Gerald Ford), as both Secretary of State and National Security Adviser. He helped carry out war crimes when he transmitted President Nixon’s order “anything that flies on anything that moves” to General Alexander Haig, directing a massive, secret bombing campaign of Cambodia hidden from Congress and the American public.

Kissinger’s tenure also saw him intimately involved with the military coup led by General Pinochet to overthrow and kill democratically-elected President Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973; the invasion by Indonesia of East Timor in 1975 and the subsequent genocide against the native East Timorese; the South African invasion of Angola in 1975 and attempted installation of a puppet ruler amenable to the apartheid regime; and the Dirty War in Argentina in which leftist opposition members were killed an disappeared.

Rather than being subjected to prosecution, or even suffering a loss of prestige, Kissinger has seen his reputation rise in the decades following his genocidal actions, whose strategy was in line with the designs peddled by the Council.

Clinton wrote that “Kissinger is a friend, and I relied on his counsel when I served as secretary of state.”  She noted that they share “a belief in the indispensability of continued American leadership in service of a just and liberal order.”

Clinton’s abstract and idealistic rhetoric exemplifies the bipartisan, imperialist agenda formulated and propagated by the Council on Foreign Relations. The humanitarianism is a guise for the pursuit of United States political and economic hegemony across the world. The people who belong to this elite club have internalized the imperialist worldview that the U.S. is an “indispensable nation” that upholds “a just and liberal” world order, and use this belief to rationalize their Machiavellian exertions of power abroad.

The establishment is not made up of any one party, gender, or government organization. It is made up of people who are involved, directly or peripherally, in formulating and carrying out the plans of a tiny elite class – plans that ignore the 99 percent of the Americans in whose names they act, and the billions of people whose lives their decisions impact. There is no one whose social relationships and professional career typifies this more than Hillary Rodham Clinton.

References

[1] Shoup, Laurence H. and William Minter. Imperial Brain Trust: The Council on Foreign Relations & United States Foreign Policy. Lincoln, NE: Authors Choice Press, 1977/2004. (pg. 9)

[2] Ibid. (pg. 50)

[3] Ibid. (pg. 23)

February 23, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

Creating Sunnistan: Foreign Affairs Calls for Syria and Iraq to be Balkanized

By Steven MacMillan – New Eastern Outlook – 31.12.2015

On the 29th of November, 2015, Foreign Affairs – the publication of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) – published an article titled: Divide and Conquer in Syria and Iraq; Why the West Should Plan for a Partition. It was written by Barak Mendelsohn, an Associate Professor of Political Science at Haverford College and a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. In the article, he argues that the “solution” to the current crisis in Syria and Iraq is the creation of an “independent Sunni state” (or Sunnistan), in addition to separating “the warring sides:”

“The only way to elicit indigenous support is by offering the Sunnis greater stakes in the outcome. That means proposing an independent Sunni state that would link Sunni-dominated territories on both sides of the border. Washington’s attachment to the artificial Sykes–Picots borders demarcated by France and Britain a century ago no longer makes sense. Few people truly believe that Syria and Iraq could each be put back together after so much blood has been spilled. A better alternative would be to separate the warring sides. Although the sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shias was not inevitable—it was, to some extent, the result of manipulation by self-interested elites—it is now a reality.”

Mendelsohn’s so-called “solution” for the region is in fact the strategy Western powers have been pursuing in the Middle East for years. His proposal is pretty much identical to the preferred “outcome” for Syria articulated by the former US Secretary of State and CFR member, Henry Kissinger. Speaking at the Ford School in 2013, Kissinger reveals his desire to see Syria Balkanized into “more or less autonomous regions (from 27.35 into the interview):

“There are three possible outcomes. An Assad victory. A Sunni victory. Or an outcome in which the various nationalities agree to co-exist together but in more or less autonomous regions, so that they can’t oppress each other. That’s the outcome I would prefer to see. But that’s not the popular view…. I also think Assad ought to go, but I don’t think it’s the key. The key is; it’s like Europe after the Thirty Years War, when the various Christian groups had been killing each other until they finally decided that they had to live together but in   separate units.”

Carving out Sunnistan in the region was also recently advocated by the former US Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, in his NY Times article: To Defeat ISIS, Create a Sunni State. Bolton wants to create an“independent Sunni State” to act as a “bulwark” against Bashar al-Assad and Baghdad. Make no mistake about it; the strategy of the US had always been to create a Sunni micro-state in Eastern Syria and Western Iraq to isolate Assad. In the 2012 declassified report from the DIA, the document reveals that the powers supporting the Syrian opposition – “Western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey” – wanted to create a “Salafist principality in Eastern Syria in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).”

Obviously, Salafism (which some argue is synonymous with Wahhabism; whilst others argue that Wahhabism is a more extreme form of Salafism) is a branch of Sunni Islam. Many have argued that “violence” is “central” to Wahhabism and Salafism, as Catherine Shakdam expresses in her article, Wahhabism, Al Saud and ISIS – the Unholy Trinity:

“Wahhabism is no more than an engineered perversion, a division, an abomination which has but spread like a cancer onto the Islamic world and now threatens to destroy all religions… Wahhabism is not of Islam and Islam will never be of Wahhabism – it is a folly to conceive that Islam would ever sanction murder, looting and atrocious barbarism. Islam opposes despotism, injustice, infamy, deceits, greed, extremism, asceticism – everything which is not balanced and good, fair and merciful, kind and compassionate. If anything, Wahhabism is the very negation of Islam. As many have called it before – Islam is not Wahhabism.” […]

“Wahhabism is merely the misguided expression of one man’s political ambition – Mohammed Abdel Wahhab, a man who was recruited by Empire Britain to erode at the fabric of Islam and crack the unity of its ummah (community). Wahhabism has now given birth to a monstrous abomination – extreme radicalism; a beast which has sprung and fed from Salafis and Wahhabis poison, fueled by the billions of Al Saud’s petrodollars; a weapon exploited by neo-imperialists to justify military interventions in those wealthiest corners of the world. ISIS’s obscene savagery epitomises the violence which is inherent and central to Wahhabism and Salafism, its other deviance. And though the world knows now the source of all terror, no power has yet dared speak against it; instead, the world has chosen to hate its designated victim – Islam.”

Fracturing Iraq

In relation to Iraq, the plan to split the country into three parts has been publicly advocated by US officials ad nauseam. The President Emeritus of the CFR, Leslie Gelb, argued in a 2003 article for the NY Times that the most feasible outcome in Iraq would be a “three-state solution: Kurds in the north, Sunnis in the center and Shiites in the south.” In 2006, a potential map of a future Middle East was released by Lieutenant-Colonel Ralph Peters which depicted Iraq divided into three regions: a Sunni Iraq to the West, an Arab Shia State in the East and a Free Kurdistan in the North. The current US Vice President, Joe Biden, also penned an article which was co-authored by Gelb titled: United Through Autonomy in Iraq. The 2006 article argues for a decentralized Iraqi state where power is held by three “ethno-religious” groups:Kurd, Sunni Arab and Shiite Arab.” Furthermore, the NY Times published an article in 2013 titled: Imagining a Remapped Middle East; How 5 Countries Could Become 14, which envisages the Middle East and Libya completely Balkanized.

Responding to the strategy of the West in Iraq, Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, called the division of the country “unacceptable.” Lavrov stated that this was “social engineering” and “state structure manipulation from far outside,” adding that Russia believes “Iraqis – Shia, Sunnis and Kurds – should decide for themselves how to live together.”

The Western elite’s strategy is to create a Middle East (and a world for that matter) devoid of strong, sovereign, independent nation-states that can resist imperial advances. Fracturing countries into feuding micro-states ensures Western interests are not confronted with a cohesive entity which can collectively unite to oppose this belligerent force. “Divide and conquer” as Mendelsohn’s article is titled, the ancient strategy used by an array of imperial powers, from the Romans to the British, remains the strategy of the Western Empire today.

Steven MacMillan is an independent writer, researcher, geopolitical analyst and editor of  The Analyst Report.

December 31, 2015 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

White House: Russian Military Action Against ISIS in Syria Would be ‘Destabilizing’

By Daniel McAdams | Ron Paul Institute | September 4, 2015

Today’s lesson in how propaganda works: The rumor mill turns a trickle of a story early this week about “thousands” of Russian soldiers deploying to Syria any day — a wholly unsourced story originating on an Israeli website — into a torrent of hyperventilating about the “Russian invasion” of Syria.

Today neocon convicted felon Eliot Abrams took to the Council on Foreign Relations website to amplify the Israeli article (again with no sources or evidence) to a whole new and more dramatic article ominously titled “Putin in Syria.” Abrams adds “reporting” by Michael Weiss, who has long been on the payroll of viscerally anti-Putin oligarch Michael Khodorkovsky, without revealing the obvious bias in the source. Never mind, all Weiss adds to Abrams’ argument is that the Pentagon is “cagey” about discussing Russian involvement in Syria before again referencing the original (unsourced) Israeli article.

See how this works? Multiple media outlets report based on the same totally unsourced article and suddenly all the world’s writing about the Russian invasion of Syria.

Now the White House has gotten into the game. According to an article by Agence France Press, the White House is “monitoring reports” that the Russians are active in Syria.

What reports? The article does not say nor does the White House. Presumably the White House is referring back to the original (unsourced) Israeli article.

But in the category of never let a good “crisis” go to waste, the White House, which began bombing Syria last August in violation of both international and US law, has declared that any Russian involvement in the Syria crisis would be “destabilizing and counterproductive.”

Apparently a year of US bombs is not “destabilizing.”

This is where the hypocrisy is so thick you could cut it with a knife. The US is illegally bombing Syria, illegally violating Syrian sovereignty, illegally training and equipping foreign fighters to overthrow the Syrian government, and has backed radical jihadists through covert and overt programs.

ISIS and al-Qaeda in Syria were solely the products of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq under false pretenses — the lies of the neocons — and after a year of US bombing ISIS seems as strong as ever while scores of civilians are killed by US attacks.

All of this is perfectly fine and should never be questioned. But even the hint that the Russians, who have had to contend with their fair share of radical Islam and are much closer to Syria than the US, may have an interest in joining the fight against ISIS is met with hysterical reproaches by a White House that admits it has no evidence.

What is the White House afraid of? While the stated goal of the Obama Administration is to defeat ISIS, the real, long-term goal is to overthrow Assad. The Russians disagree with the US insistence that Assad’s departure must be the starting point of any political settlement of the crisis. The Russians have long ago come to understand that Assad may be key to saving Syria from the kind of jihadist chaos that has engulfed Libya after its “liberation” by the US and its allies.

That is why the US government is flirting with the (unsourced Israeli) rumors of a massive Russian invasion of Syria. Regurgitated cries that the Russians are coming may serve to divert attention from another failed US intervention in the region.

One might think that if the US was serious about defeating ISIS it would welcome involvement from Russia and Iran, both of which would like nothing more than to see the back of the Islamic State. One might think if the US was serious about defeating ISIS it would rethink its “Assad must go” policy and allow the one force that has the most incentive to defeat ISIS — the Syrian Arab Army.

Yet the US will only work with the same states that have trained, funded, and turned a blind eye to the radical Islamic fighters as they have poured into Syria over the past four years — Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, etc.

Conspiracy-minded people must be wondering why the US is so reluctant to accept assistance from forces that so earnestly and with such military capacity seek the end of ISIS while partnering with those forces that have done so much to create ISIS.

September 7, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bled Dry

By Patrick Foy | Dossier.com | March 28, 2013

We are witnessing the slow-motion collapse of the second Anglo-Saxon imperium in less than a hundred years. There was something called Pax Britannica under the reign of Queen Victoria, a truly amazing transcontinental empire without peer in world history. That era was England’s apogee. Then, after the Queen’s diamond jubilee in June 1897, England’s prospects darkened, at first imperceptibly.

In the immediate aftermath of those two stupendous British Empire wars of the 20th Century–now known as World War I and World War II–both conveniently blamed on Germany, everything came crashing down. In short order, England was reduced to a zero, thanks to the venality, hubris and fatheadedness of its “elites”. The torch was grabbed by the second Anglo-Saxon power, in the person of our great white father, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and his gang of dedicated Reds and starry-eyed Anglophiles.

The upshot was apparent at the Bretton Woods conference in New Hampshire in July 1944. It was here that the victors of the second blood bath decided what the spoils were going to be. England, under the leadership of that unbalanced mountebank, Winston Churchill, was only a nominal victor. The true victors were Washington and world communism.

The former held all the cards outside the communist world, since old Europe and Japan had been left in shambles and partly incinerated. And the once great British Empire of palm and pine was now truly bankrupt, thanks to Churchill and the warmongering machinations of Lloyd George and Sir Edward Grey, among other misguided statesmen, before him.

Benn Steil, director of international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations, is cited in a New York Times article of October 26th, 2012, as suggesting that readers of the recently-uncovered transcripts of the Bretton Woods Conference would discover the British Empire disintegrating before their eyes.

The same Benn Steil has now written a book, The Battle of Bretton Woods. Tony Barber, the esteemed European editor of the Financial Timesreviewed it in the FT weekend edition of February 9th/10th, 2013. Barber remarks that “… Benn Steil explains how two world wars in 31 years bled Britain dry, leaving it with minimal influence over the new international economic and monetary order established by US policymakers in the mid-1940’s.”

The gentleman representing the US at Bretton Woods was Soviet master spy, Harry Dexter White, the son of Lithuanian Jewish immigrants. Representing Britain was the celebrity economist, John Maynard Keynes. Alas, the urbane Englishman was reduced to “… the status of an articulate annoyance.” Keynes had warned the Foreign Office not to let the US “… exploit the war as an opportunity for picking the eyes out of the British Empire.” But at that point, what choice did John Bull have? None. The Great Game was over.

In the same article, Barber goes on to review another book on a related topic. “In The Leaderless Economy, Peter Temin and David Vines extend the story that Steil concludes at Bretton Woods, charting the decline and fall of the US-dominated international order that it inaugurated. They contend that the world has not recovered from the banking crisis that erupted in 2008 largely because, unlike in the 1940s, no nation is powerful enough to guide the global economy towards prosperity.”

Barber quotes the authors, Professors Temin and Vines: “Like Britain roughly a century earlier, America has become part of the problem, not the solution.” It is unclear what exactly is being referenced here. The folly related to England’s participation in the Great War of August 1914, the disgraceful Treaty of Versailles in 1919 and its reparations regime, the inability of England to cope with the Great Depression of the 1930s, or British insolvency at the end of the Second World War? Let’s say all three. For my money, the key to everything right down to the present moment remains the Great War.

Does the average American realize that he and she are being bled dry by their own “elites” who suffer from a similar myopia and arrogance as the blockheads in Whitehall who gratuitously catapulted England into two world wars? Of course not. How could they? It is being kept under wraps. Those whose interests are being advanced directly and indirectly by current circumstances do not want the music to stop. Why should they blow the whistle on themselves? Instead, they go with the flow. Everyone in Washington follows the line of least resistance.

Remember the “Peace Dividend”? That was supposed to be America’s reward for winning the Cold War in 1990/1991. Resources would be freed up to use on the home front. But something happened to derail the dividend. What was it? Oh, yes. Saddam Hussein invaded the city-state of Kuwait on August 2nd, 1990. Saddam had misinterpreted the mixed signals sent from his then-ally, America. Washington had abetted Iraq’s war on Iran for nearly a decade. With Iraq’s annexation of Kuwait, Washington was off to the races again. A full-blown crusade was the result.

In the process, half a million Iraqi children were left dead due to the economic embargo imposed by Bush I and Bill Clinton. In the process, America got hit with the atrocity of 9/11. In the process, a disarmed Iraq was targeted for “shock and awe” and overrun as part of the Global War on Terror. GWOT was the private agenda war masterminded by the Neocons for Dick Cheney & Bush II. That private agenda war continues unabated under Barack Obama, who is considered to be some sort of “progressive”.

Concurrently, Afghanistan/Pakistan became a battleground and a hotbed of terrorism. It remains a quagmire for American and NATO troops. Meanwhile, as if more problems were needed, Washington policymakers loudly and shamelessly repeat the false accusation that Iran is running a nuclear weapons program.

G.W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Barack Obama knew that accusation was false. Their own intelligence community told them so in writing. Ditto Seymour Hersh in the pages of The New Yorker. No matter. The establishment media does not bark. The campaign against Iran is a rerun of Iraq.

Finally, just the other day somewhere in Palestine, Obama fulsomely embraced Theodor Herzl and his acolytes, thereby rationalizing and condoning the wholesale dispossession of Palestinians forever. Who noticed? It was the line of least resistance as well as Obama’s ticket to the greatest personal reward. No surprise.

America is at war, all right. Yet another unnecessary war of choice. We are being bled dry like England before us. Chalk up a second global Anglo-Saxon ascendancy thrown away and destroyed thanks to the chicanery of foolish men.

April 1, 2013 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Talented Mr. Takeyh: Why Doesn’t the Council on Foreign Relations Fellow Like Flynt & Hillary Mann Leverett?

By Nima Shirazi | Wide Asleep in America | February 7, 2013

If there’s one thing mainstream “Iran experts” hate, it’s well-credentialed, experienced analysts who dare challenge Beltway orthodoxies, buck conventional wisdom and demythologize the banal, bromidic and Manichean foreign policy narrative of the United States government and its obedient media. Such perspectives are shunned by “serious” scholars who play by the rules they and their former bosses themselves wrote; those propounding such subversive ideas are likewise excoriated and banished, labeled apostates and attacked personally for failing to fall in line.

Enter Flynt and Hillary Mann Leverett, two former National Security Council officials, who have long questioned the wisdom and efficacy of the past thirty years of U.S. policy towards Iran. Their new expertly researched and meticulously-sourced book, Going to Tehran: Why the United States Must Come to Terms with the Islamic Republic of Iran, details and debunks numerous propagandized myths and delusional misunderstandings that many Americans have been led to believe about the country that is consistently referred to by our politicians and pundits as “the world’s most dangerous state.” The Leveretts argue that, by at least taking into account the Iranian side of things and reviewing the misguided, myopic and unsustainable American policies toward Iran, the groundwork may be laid for a constructive and beneficial change of course for both nations; by engaging openly and acknowledging past grievances – rather than ignoring, justifying or ridiculing them – a new future is possible, one without threats or war, without sabotage and cyberattacks, without demonization and demagoguery.

The problem is, without such things, the revolving door of Beltway think-tankery and government appointments might not spin so lucratively for our “Iran expert” industry. As a result, the Leveretts and their ideas are pilloried by political and policy elites who confuse heterodoxy for apologia.

In a supremely smug and self-satisfied pseudo-review of Going to Tehran, just published in Survival, the journal of the International Institute of Strategic Studies, Washington’s “go-to” Iran analyst Ray Takeyh launches what is surely a paradigmatic opening salvo on the Leveretts’ work. Needless to say, he didn’t like the book; his review is the intellectual equivalent of a drive-by shooting. While lambasting the Leveretts, Takeyh fails to actually address any of their contentions or claims, preferring to make grandiose statements condemning their analyses of Iranian politics and foreign policy and their policy recommendations without bothering to back up these statements with evidence or explanation.

Takeyh is a mainstay of the Washington establishment – a Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow before and after a stint in the Obama State Department and a founding member of the neoconservative-created Iran Strategy Task Force who has become a tireless advocate for the collective punishment of the Iranian population in a futile attempt to inspire homegrown regime change (if not, at times, all-out war against a third Middle Eastern nation in just over a decade). Unsurprisingly, he dismisses out of hand the notion that “the principal cause of disorder in the Middle East today is a hegemonic America seeking to impose its imperial template on the region.”

This is exactly the worldview that has produced the disastrous U.S. foreign policy of the last few decades, policies advocated time and time again by the same people – not only people like Takeyh, but including literally Takeyh himself – never learning from their mistakes or conceiving there might be a different way to engage the world (say, by not bullying, threatening, demanding, dictating, punishing, bombing, invading, destroying, dismantling, overthrowing, occupying, and propping up dictators). Takeyh’s contemptuous rejection of history means that those who disagree with him – like the Leveretts, even though their experience in government and direct contact with on-the-ground reality in today’s Iran dwarfs Takeyh’s – must inevitably be minions of the ayatollahs.

Takeyh’s dismissal of the Leveretts’ work is especially ironic, given that his own analytic nonsense is legion. He routinely makes statements that aren’t based in fact and that dispute even the most hysterical estimates of the United States government. He has no problem co-writing tomes of warmongering lunacy with psychotics like Matthew Kroenig, convicted criminals and racist demagogues like Elliott Abrams, and garbled inanity with his wife’s insane colleague at the Saban Center and perennial war champion Kenneth Pollack. Everything he writes is easily destroyed with a basic perusal of facts.

Never bothering to cite any evidence, Takeyh has long assumed Iran – oh sorry, I mean, “the mullahs” (how spooky!) – are building a nuclear bomb and only the fierce determination of the United States, its benevolent buddy Israel and vital Arab dictator friends can stop it, if not by beating the Islamic Republic into submission through economic and covert warfare, then perhaps by military might. In April 2003, he wrote, “Tehran often claims that instability in the region forces it to pursue nuclear weapons, when in fact it is Iran’s possession of such weapons that would increase instability.” Actually, Iranian officials have never claimed anything remotely like that, instead declaring their commitment never to build nuclear weapons consistently for over 20 years. In 2011, Takeyh assured Washington Post readers, “Exact estimates vary, but in the next few years Iran will be in [a] position to detonate a nuclear device.”

In October 2011, when the US government tried to pretend that a bumbling, bipolar Iranian used-car salesman in Texas had been tasked by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps to hire a Mexican drug cartel to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in a DC restaurant (it is literally impossible to read that without chuckling), Takeyh took to the airwaves to comment on the alleged plot. Speaking on NPR, Takeyh wholly endorsed the U.S. government’s version of events, never for a second doubting their authenticity. Though he claimed it was “unusual,” Takeyh made sure to add, “I don’t know what the evidence about this it, but I’m not in position to doubt it.”

There you have it, folks, Takeyh’s entire method of scholarship in a nutshell.

Takeyh’s disdain for empirical reality allows him to take multiple, often contradictory positions on many issues—whatever it takes to align himself with “centrist” foreign policy hawks in the Democratic Party’s national security establishment. In 2006, after the occupation of Iraq had turned irrevocably catastrophic and Democrats were looking for ways to distance themselves from Bush’s Middle East follies, Takeyh argued “for the United States to become more directly engaged in negotiations with Iranians and also make an offer of some corresponding concessions.” While assuming an Iranian desire for latent nuclear weapons capability, he held, “I don’t think they’ve made up their mind yet to cross the threshold and actually weaponize [nuclear power].” He added, “For those who suggest that it is absolutely conclusively determined that Iran wants to have nuclear weapons, I think it behooves them to provide some kind of evidence for that claim.” Just months later, though, Takeyh told the Senate that Iranian leaders were determined to achieve hegemony in the Persian Gulf and that, from their vantage, “it is only through the attainment of the bomb that Iran can negate the nefarious American plots to undermine its stature and power.”

As the possibility of Democratic victory in the 2008 presidential election drew closer, Takeyh’s views grew more hawkish. His transformation into an Iran hawk accelerated with his brief stint in the State Department during the Obama administration’s first year. In 2010, he co-wrote a journal essay and accompanying op-ed that sought to characterize war with Iran as a natural outcome, a normalized and inevitable progression of history. Over the next couple of years, he fully realized his penchant for conflating Iran’s monitored and safeguarded nuclear energy program with a nefarious, clandestine weapons program.

This conflation is present in Takeyh’s attempted takedown of Going to Tehran, where he references Iran’s “nuclear infractions,” but provides no evidence for them other than collective Beltway wisdom, displaying a complete ignorance of what IAEA reports actually say and where such accusations actually come from (unverified American and Israeli allegations). His determination to blame only Iranian “intransigence” for the current nuclear dispute epitomizes the intellectual dishonesty for which most Washington think-tanks are unfortunately revered.

Takeyh’s analytic malfeasance extends to Iran’s domestic politics as well. His conversion from unimpressive establishment scholar to full-blown neocon fellow traveler is underscored by his remarkable insistence that Iran’s clerics are to blame for the 1953 CIA coup that overthrew Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh (sic). Takeyh also refuses to understand the reality of the Green Movement in Iran, elevating them to surreal heights of organization, unity and potential.

In his review of Going to Tehran, Takeyh notes what he calls “transparent electoral fraud in the presidential election” of 2009, but again fails to advance any actual documentation to support this contention. Since 2010, he has been warning us all of Ahmadinejad’s impending consolidation of power over the Iranian government. This didn’t happen. Good call, Ray, how astute.

The self-serving vacuity of Takeyh’s review is especially glaring in his treatment of the Leveretts’ critique of U.S. policy toward Iran. As the Leveretts themselves have already noted, Takeyh is adamant that the U.S. has often and openly reached out diplomatically to Tehran but can’t seem to square this with reality – including statements made by his former boss, Dennis Ross, who sees the perception of failed diplomacy as necessary to sell the American public on a new illegal war against another enemy that poses absolutely no threat to the United States.

Takeyh complements his rewriting of diplomatic history with a selective – indeed exploitative – focus on human rights issues in Iran. Along with the vast majority of the Leveretts’ detractors (and anyone else who rejects a reality-based approach to the three-decades-long U.S.-Iranian impasse), Takeyh seems unaware that basing American foreign policy on human rights is not only disingenuous, but also contrary to how the U.S. actually operates all over the world.

Going to Tehran is a policy prescription addressed primarily to the government of the United States, not to human rights organizations. Iran has as abhorrent a human rights record as many other countries – far worse than many, better than others. But the United States government has never cared one iota about human rights when it comes to strategic partnership with its closest and most trusted political allies (let alone its own actions).

Whether looking at our torture regime, our indefinite detention, our illegal drone program, our invasions, our assassinations, our surveillance state, our contempt for due process, our racist justice system and bloated prisons, and – perhaps, most relevant – our continued support and encouragement of ongoing Israeli war crimes, ethnic cleansing, colonization and occupation of Palestine alongside weapons sales and willful blindness to the atrocities of true dictatorships like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, the concept that American diplomacy or interests rest upon virtuousness and humane practices is not only hypocritical; it’s downright laughable. As Glenn Greenwald recently wrote about Iran, Syria and Libya, “That the US and its Nato allies – eager benefactors of the world’s worst tyrants – are opposed to those regimes out of concern for democracy and human rights is a pretense, a conceit, so glaring and obvious that it really defies belief that people are willing to advocate it in public with a straight face.”

If our government cared about human rights it wouldn’t be subjecting the Iranian people (who wholeheartedly oppose American sanctions and constant bullying) to collective punishment, just like it did the people of Iraq – the half million Iraqi children sacrificed to similar sanctions know full well the American consideration for human rights. Takeyh reflects this duplicity in his review, noting the appalling history of “show trials, mass repression and persistent international transgressions” in Iran and condemning the Leveretts for not making this the focus of their book. Yet if Takeyh actually cared about fundamental human rights and the importance of international law, he would not only call for Congress to sanction Israel and Saudi Arabia, he would be outraged by the closeness of these governments to his own here in the United States. But he doesn’t. Only Iran is the target of his anger and concern.

Because for the U.S. government, human rights abuses are used merely as a bludgeon against its adversaries while the myriad transgressions of its strategic partners are routinely ignored (if not, in the case of Israel, even funded and justified), Takeyh’s argument is disingenuous at minimum. As always, he and his fellow mavens of the established foreign policy community are silent about America’s role as the guarantor of Middle Eastern tyranny, as long as its puppet dictators do our bidding, namely with regard to acquiescing to Israeli regional hegemony and following the U.S. lead on isolating and threatening Iran.

In the most recent Human Rights Watch report, we learn that a large Middle Eastern country, ruled by an unelected religious fundamentalist misogynistic elite, has “arrested hundreds of peaceful protesters during 2012, and sentenced activists from across the country to prison for expressing critical political and religious views.” Not only this, but “thousands of people are in arbitrary detention, and human rights activists were put on trial on politicized charges. The Ministry of Interior forbids public protests. Since 2011, security forces have killed at least 14 protesters in the Eastern province who were seeking political reforms.”

It finds that the “government has gone to considerable lengths to punish, intimidate, and harass those who express opinions that deviate from the official line,” while “lawyers are not generally allowed to assist suspects during interrogation, and face obstacles to examining witnesses or presenting evidence at trial.” Furthermore, “Authorities have used specialized criminal courts, set up to try terrorism cases, to prosecute a growing number of peaceful dissidents on politicized charges.”

What country is this? Saudi Arabia, the leading U.S. trading partner in the Middle East, which receiving billions upon billions of high-tech weaponry from our noble nation year after year. The United States uses a secret Saudi base as a launchpad for lethal drone strikes in neighboring Yemen and is even working closely with the Kingdom on its nascent nuclear program. One wonders if this recent case (one of the worst things I have ever heard about) will cause the U.S. to reconsider its relationship with Saudi Arabia. Don’t hold your breath. But just imagine if that had happened in Iran.

Our best friend in the world, Israel, meanwhile is a militarized colonial state in routine contravention of existing international and humanitarian law. Ample evidence reveals the illegality of Israel’s Apartheid Annexation Wall, Israel’s use of administrative detention to hold Palestinians indefinitely without charge or trial and the rampant Israeli arrest of Palestinian children and toddlers, who suffer abusemental, physical and sexual – and who are tortured during and traumatized by their imprisonment. Palestinian communities are constantly victimized by housing demolitions and eviction, a particularly vindictive form of collective punishment favored by the Israeli government.

None of this seems to bother our government one bit and any attempt to hold Israel accountable for its crimes is met with derision in the circles in which Mr. Takeyh travels, all expenses paid, of course.

The issue isn’t about whitewashing or justifying abuse and repression; it’s about U.S. government policy, which clearly has no problem overlooking such horrors depending on who commits them. If the U.S. were consistent in its concern for human rights (rather than selectively using them only to condemn its enemies), Takeyh might have a point. But it isn’t, so he doesn’t.

The Leveretts explicitly address this issue in Going to Tehran. They write, “Washington has never demonstrated that it cares about human rights in the Middle East for their own sake. It cares about them when and where caring appears to serve other policy goals.” In their explicitly stated effort “to outline a potentially far more efficacious diplomatic approach” (p.388), the Leveretts point out that “the only way human rights conditions in the Islamic Republic, as defined by Western liberals, are likely to improve is in a context of U.S.-Iranian rapprochement, whereby the United States had credibly given up regime change as a policy goal.” (p.326)

While conventional Washington wisdom (and actual acts of Congress and executive orders by the President) hold that the U.S. government should be critical of Iran’s human rights record as a matter of policy, doing so is pure propaganda. The United States is in no position to affect the violations of the Iranian government because it has no diplomatic presence, credibility or connection to the Islamic Republic. As George W. Bush admitted in December 2004, in a rare moment of candor and honesty, “We’re relying upon others, because we’ve sanctioned ourselves out of influence with Iran…We don’t have much leverage with the Iranians right now.”

Takeyh, by employing ad hominem attacks on the Leveretts in an effort to label them apologists for theocratic authoritarianism and thereby discredit their views, is trying to poison the well, so to speak, with anti-war progressives who might find a new approach to Iran novel and welcome. He calls Going to Tehran “tedious,” “stale,” and “trite.” That’s coming from a guy who works at the Council on Foreign Relations and writes about implementing even more “crippling” sanctions on Iranians in order to compel their government’s capitulation to American and Israeli diktat. How original, fresh, and innovative!

Regardless of whether one finds their arguments compelling or their history sufficiently comprehensive, the Leveretts deliver a blow to the establishment narrative of “what to do about Iran.” It is no surprise that Ray Takeyh is offended by the Leveretts – they directly address the danger he and others like him in the official foreign policy community pose to those who oppose another war.

They write that the claims put forward by Takeyh “that Iran’s leadership is too ideologically constrained, fractious, or politically dependent on anti-Americanism to pursue a strategic opening to the United States are not just at odds with the historical record. Such claims push the United States ever further in its support of coercive regime change and, ultimately, down the disastrous path toward war.” (p.108)

The main thesis of Going to Tehran, as evident in the book’s title, holds that, as American power declines worldwide, recognition of faulty and detrimental foreign policy is required for the U.S. to better adapt to an ever-changing and more independent Middle East; a region in which Iranian influence is ascendant whether we like it or not. They see the precedent set by Richard Nixon’s historic visit to China as the best way forward with regard to Iran.

Such a suggestion, while increasingly relevant, is not actually new. A noted foreign policy expert proffered an identical view in 2006, explaining, “First of all, this is not a unique historical moment for the United States. We’ve been in this position before. If you look back in the late 1960s, early ’70s, we were in a position in East Asia where our power was declining because of the Vietnam War, and the Chinese power was increasing because of China’s own capability and declining American power. And then there was certainly antagonism between the two countries.

Lamenting the “conceptual divergence” of Iranian and American negotiating positions, the analyst continued,

“I think you have to accept certain basic realities. Iran is an important power with influence in the region, and the purpose of the negotiation would be how to establish a framework for regulation of its influence. Therefore, in a perverse sense, negotiations [are] a form of containment. We’re negotiating as a means of containing Iran’s influence, surely as we negotiated with the Chinese in the early 1970s as means of coming to some arrangements to rationalize U.S.-Sino American relations as a means of regulating Chinese power.”

He further insisted that the United States must take a bold step to enter into “comprehensive negotiations on all of Iranian concerns and all of our concerns. Our concerns are human rights, terrorism; they have their own grievances and so forth. And these negotiations will take place ultimately without precondition,” just as negotiations with China in 1970 were not preconditioned.

Again making the explicit analogy to Nixon’s overture to Beijing, he stated, “The purpose of these negotiations would be to foster an arrangement where Tehran’s relationship with Washington is more meaningful to it than various gradation of uranium or potentially its ties with Hezbollah.” This way, he concluded, an “end point” would be reached “by creating a new framework and a new basis for U.S.- Iran relations,” which would, in order to be at all successful would have to recognize Iran’s position in its own neighborhood. “[I]n all these discussions and negotiations,” he affirmed, “we have to appreciate that in a sense we are legitimizing Iran ‘s at least Persian Gulf if not larger regional aspirations.”

That analyst was Ray Takeyh. He was addressing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee of the 109th Congress. Sitting on the Committee at the time of his statement were John Kerry and Chuck Hagel. Its ranking member was Joe Biden. Also on the committee? The junior Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama.

Just six months later, Takeyh wrote in Foreign Affairs that no U.S. policy regarding Iran in the past thirty years has worked. Noting the impossibility of regime change, military action, isolation and obstinacy, Takeyh wrote the U.S. government must abandon these “incoherent policies” and “must rethink its strategy from the ground up.”

He continued,

“The Islamic Republic is not going away anytime soon, and its growing regional influence cannot be limited. Washington must eschew superficially appealing military options, the prospect of conditional talks, and its policy of containing Iran in favor of a new policy of détente. In particular, it should offer pragmatists in Tehran a chance to resume diplomatic and economic relations.”

He added, “The sooner Washington recognizes these truths and finally normalizes relations with its most enduring Middle Eastern foe, the better.”

This is literally what Going to Tehran is about. Literally.

By attacking the Leveretts’ new book, Takeyh is attacking the very ideas he himself has espoused so confidently, both in a leading policy journal and to a senate Committee that included the current administration’s President, Vice President, Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense themselves.

But he doesn’t want you to know that.

February 7, 2013 Posted by | Book Review, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , , , | Comments Off on The Talented Mr. Takeyh: Why Doesn’t the Council on Foreign Relations Fellow Like Flynt & Hillary Mann Leverett?

Former US Ambassador Outlines Post-Election Interventions against Venezuela

By Lee Brown – Venezuela Solidarity Campaign – September 17th 2012

In an extraordinary paper released this week, former US Ambassador to Venezuela, Patrick Duddy, outlined a range of military, financial and diplomatic measures that the US should be prepared to take against the Chavez government after the coming elections on October 7th.

In the paper, published by the Council on Foreign Relations, Duddy’s recommendations include that in the event of “an outbreak of violence and/or interruption of democracy” the US should use various means to “to communicate to the Venezuelan military leadership that they are obliged to uphold their constitution, respect human rights, and protect their country’s democratic tradition” and “organize a coalition of partners to limit an illegitimate Venezuelan administration’s access to government assets held abroad as well as to the international financial system.”

The former Ambassador was expelled from Venezuela in 2008 after the Chavez-led government cited an American-supported plot by military officers to topple it. Having initially served under Bush he returned to Venezuela at the start of Obama’s term of office.

In the paper he outlines an even wider list of options that the US may engage in. These includes that the United States “could demand that the Organisation of American States declare Venezuela in breach of its obligations as a signatory of the Inter-American Democratic Charter” or it could “bring the issue of Venezuelan democracy to the United Nations Security Council” or “freeze individual bank accounts of key figures involved or responsible and seize assets in the United States”. He suggested the US “could also arrange for the proceeds of Venezuelan government–owned corporate entities to be held in escrow accounts until democracy is restored [and] …block access to [Venezuelan government owned] CITGO’s refining facilities in the United States and consider prohibiting [Venezuelan state] oil sales to the United States”.

Duddy dresses these up as options for the US to take “in the event that the government either orchestrates or takes advantage of a violent popular reaction to Chavez’s defeat…to suspend civil liberties and govern under a renewable state of exception”.

However there are obvious concerns that this fits neatly with the objectives of those within the right-wing opposition in Venezuela who are planning for the non-recognition of the coming elections if, as expected, Hugo Chavez wins. With the polls showing strong leads for Hugo Chavez, a campaign is already underway by sections of the right-wing opposition coalition to present any electoral defeat as being down to Chavez-led fraud. This has seen baseless attacks on the independent National Electoral Council (CNE,) which has overseen all of Venezuelans’ elections described as free and fair by a range of international observers. The opposition has announced plans to place tens of thousands of ‘witnesses’ at polling stations on election day and then, illegally to release its own results ahead of the official results in a clear bid to discredit them. These plans have sharpened fears that opposition-led disruptions and destabilisation will follow their defeat. This could easily meet Duddy’s condition of “an outbreak of violence and/or interruption of democracy”.

Clearly the paper raises the spectre that, as with the US-backed coup in 2002, the US could seek to blame any right wing opposition-led post election disruption on the Hugo Chavez government, with the US then taking the measures Duddy suggests.

The “options” suggested by Patrick Duddy’s, a former Bush era Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, form part of ongoing hostilities to the democratically elected Chavez government from neo-cons in Washington. Connie Mack, chairman of the U.S. House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, has openly advocated that Venezuela is added to the US lists of states that sponsor terrorism. Whilst Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney earlier this year attacked Venezuela during the US Presidential campaign as a threat to national security and accused Venezuela of “spreading dictatorships & tyranny throughout Latin America”.

With less than one month to go until the Venezuelan people go to the polls, and with it looking likely that they will re-elect Hugo Chavez, solidarity in defence of the right of the people to choose their own government free from outside intervention clearly remains vital.

September 17, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Comments Off on Former US Ambassador Outlines Post-Election Interventions against Venezuela

Amnesty International, George Clooney and the Bidding of Empire

By JOHN VINCENT | CounterPunch | March 21, 2012

In March this year Frank S. Jannuzi was named Washington DC office head at Amnesty International USA (AIUSA). Frank, a former staffer with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is Hitachi International Affairs Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the most powerful foreign policy pressure group in the world. Over the years, CFR’s membership has included 22 US secretaries of state.

Those on CFR’s Board of Directors today include Robert E. Rubin, former CEO of Goldman Sachs, Secretary of the Treasury under Clinton and special advisor to the Obama Administration; Madeleine Albright, former Secretary of State who when on 60 Minutes was asked by Lesley Stahl on the effects of U.S. sanctions against Iraq: “We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?” Secretary of State Madeleine Albright replied: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it”; Peter G. Peterson, of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, who has been pushing for the destruction of Social Security for over ten years; and Penny Pritzker, Chairman and CEO of PSP Capital, who besides being one of Chicago’s wealthiest women is also on the Chicago School Board closing public schools in the poorest parts of the city.

These are names not typically associated with humanitarian causes.

In taking his new position Jannuzi is quoted on AIUSA’s website as saying: “I am thrilled to be joining Amnesty International and look forward to connecting the passion and expertise of AIUSA with the policy-making community in Washington that I know well.”

And how might that work?

In a CFR moderated discussion George Clooney discussed the plight of the Sudanese in the Nuba Mountains who are caught up in the country’s civil war. Not surprising the area includes a proposed pipeline route that will carry oil to a seaport in the north.

So George gets arrested on Friday March 16th, and on Monday the 19th AIUSA begins an email campaign calling for Sudanese President al-Bashir to be brought to justice with the banner: What was actor George Clooney doing in jail, while Sudan’s president and indicted war crimes suspect Omar al-Bashir runs free?

Interestingly, March 16th was the day AIUSA announced Jannuzi’s new position with the organization.

So is AIUSA, along with George Clooney and Hollywood in general, supporting the CFR in their effort to manage the American peoples’ perceptions of Africa for the purpose of furthering their government’s foreign policy objectives in the region?

Why does AIUSA mount campaigns focused on Africa – Kony 2012, Sudan’s al-Bashir, and the investigation of civilian deaths in Libya – but not promote similar campaigns within the borders of the US calling for the arrest of its known war criminals?

And why doesn’t AIUSA mount campaigns to stop US humanitarian crimes before they occur? The Iran war is the next human rights catastrophe that will be unleashed on the world, but AIUSA isn’t trying to stop it. Why not?

Are AIUSA’s commendable humanitarian efforts being used as a screen for the organization’s work in the service of the American empire?

March 22, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Amnesty International, George Clooney and the Bidding of Empire

NPR: the Voices and Views of One Side

By HELEN REDMOND | March 5, 2012

NPR

National Public Radio.

National Pay or Play Radio.

Spring Pledge Drive, 2012.

Hosts beg and cajole on air hour after hour, day after day for money.

They creatively and with cool music in the background alternately shame and praise listeners to pony up part of the paycheck.

And promise membership cards, mugs, and messenger bags in return.

NPR is your radio station.

Send money; get “unbiased” reporting.

Send money; hear the views “of all sides.”

According to Gabriel Spitzer.

And Melba Lara.

And Scott Simon. Host of Weekend Edition. Saturday.

Simon supported the war in Afghanistan.

Simon: “It seems to me that in confronting the forces that attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, American pacifists have no sane alternative now but to support the war. I don’t consider this reprisal or revenge, but self-defense: protecting the world from further attacks by destroying those who would launch them.”

Simon says. Sir, yes, sir.

Simon’s salary: $300,648.

Biased.

Steve Inskeep. “My job is to bring an unvarnished view of what’s happening around the world every day…”

The tone of Inskeep’s voice changes when he interviews Palestinians, Pakistanis, and Iranians vs. Israelis, Saudi’s, CEOs, and US government officials.

Hostile, disbelieving, aggressive for the former.

Cordial, obsequious, passive for the latter.

Inskeep’s salary: $331,241.

Biased.

I admit I listen and I don’t pay.

Because NPR doesn’t air the views of all sides.

All things are not considered.

The so-called “experts” NPR interviews are pro-government, pro-war, and promote the ideas of right-wing think tanks. A faction of former national security advisors, defense department officials, ambassadors, ex-pentagon generals, and military commanders.

Inside the DC beltway.

The government to K-street, to think tank, to NPR pipeline.

Those are the opinions and views heard in the vast majority of stories.

I know because after stories air, I google the website the expert represents.

The websites use words like: nonpartisan, principled, independent, strong, pragmatic, quality, benchmarking, innovative, strategic, impact.

Distinguished, deep thinkers thinking about good governance, rule of law, nuclear proliferation, counterterrorism, cybersecurity, 21st century defense, metrics, kinetics, energy security, failed states, nation building, geoeconomics, transparency, emerging markets, saving behavior, managing global order.

Like the Brookings Institution.

An NPR story titled: Technological Innovations Help Dictators See All.

Weekend Edition host Rachel Martin. Sunday. She interviewed an expert.

John Villasenor. Senior Fellow.

Brookings Institution.

Martin asks: “Give us some real-world examples. How could this play out in a country like Syria?”

Villasenor: “Well, in countries like Syria, there’s no reason to expect that governments won’t take advantage of every possible technological tool at their disposal to monitor their citizenry. Smartphones, and the apps that run on smartphones, very often track location in an authoritarian country.”

C’mon Rachel! Syria?

How many Syrians do you think own Smartphones?

How many Americans do you think own Smartphones?

The American surveillance state intercepts and stores 1.7 billion e-mails, phone calls and other types of communications every day!

Why not talk about that?

They didn’t talk about that.

An NPR story titled: As Drones Evolve, More Countries Want Their Own.

Talk of the Nation host Neal Conan interviewed an expert.

John Villasenor.

The Brookings Institution Senior Fellow:

“And so, you know, unfortunately we have a long history of machines essentially engaging in killing, and so I think when people are designing – figuring out how to use drones, we have to keep in mind that, you know, there’s already been a precedent of these things and try to improve upon that.”

You lost me. Precedent? Improve on what?

Villasenor didn’t mention that American drones have killed hundreds of civilians in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Conan doesn’t ask.

For experts like Villasenor, civilian deaths are unfortunate but inevitable collateral damage in the war on terror.

I think they’re crimes against humanity.

Drone attacks are remote control terrorism.

That is my opinion.

But I’m no expert.

And NPR doesn’t want to hear my side.

Council on Foreign Relations.

An NPR story titled: Obama sends 30,000 More Troops to Afghanistan.

All Things Considered host Michele Norris interviewed an expert.

Max Boot is the “Jeane  J. Kirkpatrick” Senior Fellow for

National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Norris: “…based on what you heard tonight, do you think the president went far enough?”

Boot: “I mean, the parts that I really liked and I thought were terrific were when he talked about that we have a vital national interest in Afghanistan. We have to be there to prevent a cancer from, once again, spreading throughout that country.”

The US military counterinsurgency won’t let cancer metastasize in Afghanistan.

But the troops can’t save everyone. Millions of Afghans are at the end stage.

There is no morphine to kill the pain.

An article by Max Boot on the recent clashes in Afghanistan over the burning of Qurans.

Title: Afghans Don’t Hate Americans.

The Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow:

“Many Americans seem to be saying that if the Afghan people don’t want us there, why should we stay? That’s dubious logic because we are not in Afghanistan as a favor to the Afghan people. We are there to protect our own self-interest in not having their territory once again become a haven for al-Qaida.”

I think the American people are right.

The US military shouldn’t stay in Afghanistan.

That’s not dubious logic.

It’s smart logic.

I think Afghans hate the troops for occupying their country and killing their people.

I can understand that. I would, too.

I don’t believe Afghans hate all Americans.

Just some.

Like Max Boot and other Senior Fellows at right-wing think tanks.

Who want to continue the war, occupation, targeted assassinations, sanctions, night raids, kill-capture operations, and drone strikes.

But I’m no expert. Nor are the American people.

And NPR doesn’t want to hear our views.

We didn’t write two books about war like Boot did:

War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History, 1500 to Today. 

The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power.

Check out the search engine for stories at NPR’s website.

Search for the following: American Enterprise Institute, Brookings Institution, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Center for a New American Security, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Council on Foreign Relations, Royal United Services Institute.

A ton of hits.

A ton of expert opinion and analysis of the world.

You’ll be amazed.

Or maybe you won’t.

NPR.

The voices and views of one side.

Biased.

I listen, but I won’t pay.

Helen Redmond is an independent journalist. She writes about health care and the international war on drugs. She can be reached at redmondmadrid@yahoo.com

Source

March 5, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Israel’s Favourite Arab Proposes ‘A Kosovo Model for Syria’

By Maidhc Ó Cathail | The Passionate Attachment | February 12, 2012

Bill Clinton’s bombing of Serbia should serve as an inspiration, Fouad Ajami opines in the Wall Street Journal:

In this Syrian ordeal, President Obama has a similar opportunity to stop “the killing of innocents” in Homs, Hama and Deraa. The Damascus regime is living on bluster, running out of money, and relying on an army that has no faith in the mission given it or in the man at the helm. It could be brought down without a massive American commitment.

We could, with some moral clarity, recognize the Syrian National Council as the country’s legitimate government, impose a no-fly zone in the many besieged areas, help train and equip the Free Syrian Army, prompt Turkey to give greater support to defectors from Syrian units, and rally the wealthy Arab states to finance the effort.

There are risks to be run, no doubt. But at present we have only the shame of averting our eyes from Syrian massacres. If we act now, President Obama, when he pens his memoirs, could still claim vindication, or at least that he gave Homs and Hama and Deraa his best.

This is the same Middle East expert who predicted in 2002 that “after liberation in Basra and Baghdad, the streets are sure to erupt in joy.”

Like his friend Paul Wolfowitz, Ajami’s being so wrong about the consequences of the U.S. invasion of Israel’s then-enemy du jour appears not to have done his career any harm. A 2003 profile in The Nation noted that the Lebanese-born American

attached himself to such powerful patrons as Laurence Tisch, former chairman of CBS; Mort Zuckerman, the owner of US News & World Report; Martin Peretz, a co-owner of The New Republic; and Leslie Gelb, head of the Council on Foreign Relations.

No doubt Ajami’s “powerful patrons” are just as concerned as he is about the “the killing of innocents” in Syria.

February 12, 2012 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , | Comments Off on Israel’s Favourite Arab Proposes ‘A Kosovo Model for Syria’