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That Awkward Moment When One Nobel Peace Prize Winner Bombs Another

By Dan Sanchez | ANTIMEDIA | October 6, 2015

US/NATO planes bombed a hospital operated by Doctors Without Borders in Afghanistan on Saturday. The attack lasted an hour, and continued even after medics “frantically phoned NATO and Washington” to tell them what they were bombing.

It was no use. The attackers already knew full well what their target was. Doctors Without Borders had long ago provided them with the GPS coordinates of their facilities. And the US-installed Afghan government, which had raided that very same hospital in July of this year, had requested the strike, claiming the hospital was being used by insurgents.

The attack killed 22 people, including 12 medical workers and 10 patients. Three of the patients were children. The first bombardment targeted the Intensive Care Unit, where an eyewitness nurse said, “Patients were burning in their beds.” And a hospital caretaker said that he could hear women and children, “screaming for help inside the hospital while it was set ablaze by the bombing.”

Doctors Without Borders won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999. President Obama was awarded his in 2009. As Commander-in-Chief of the military that bombed the Doctors Without Borders hospital, this makes Obama perhaps the first Nobel Peace Prize winner to bomb another Nobel Peace Prize winner.

Or maybe not? Henry Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973, and he masterminded the secret bombing of Cambodia and Laos for President Nixon around that time. Shortly thereafter, it came to light that in that campaign, hospitals were routinely targeted for bombing. As The Nation recently reported:

“A letter from former Army captain Rowan Malphurs said that in 1969 and 1970, he analyzed aerial photographs where B-52 bombs (the ones ordered by Kissinger) fell on Cambodia: “I saw on several occasions where possible hospitals had been bombed…. On another occasion I observed a red cross on a building that was partially destroyed by bombs.”

By then, the Red Cross had already been awarded its three Nobel Peace Prizes.

Sorry, Obama, it looks like that’s one “historic first” you can’t claim. That old fox beat you to it.

If it makes you feel any better, Kissinger seems to think your mass-murder record actually beats his. (I know this will warm your heart, since you once bragged, “Turns out I’m really good at killing people.”) When confronted about bombing Cambodia on a recent book tour, Kissinger said in his own defense:

“I think we would find, if you study the conduct of guerrilla-type wars, that the Obama administration has hit more targets on a broader scale than the Nixon administration ever did. (…)

And I bet if one did an honest account, there were fewer civilian casualties in Cambodia than there have been from American drone attacks.”

Whether that dubious claim is true or not, it’s the thought that counts. Consider it a compliment: a gold star from teacher. Or even an elder statesman’s passing of the torch: from one peace-prize winning war criminal to another.

October 8, 2015 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 2 Comments

Sanctifying Malala: The Nobel Prize and Moral Alibis

By Binoy Kampmark | Dissident Voice | October 11, 2014

Drones Kill So Malala Can Live.
Sign at a vigil, Pakistan, noted in The Nation, October 10, 2014

There were two recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize this year – the rather less known Kailish Satyarthi and near celebrity cherished Malala Yousafzai. In awarding the prize, the Norwegian Nobel Committee deftly ignored the perceived frontrunner, Pope Francis. Il Papa will have to wait his turn.

Those getting it will always be marred by the contradictions any peace prize suggests. The greatest of all remains the fact that the dynamite guru – Alfred Nobel himself – did as much for the cause of war as he decided his profits would supposedly do for peace. Peace was a sentimental afterthought. Many winners of the prize have since kept this legacy alive: that of war maker turned peace maker; a fair share of hypocrisy, with a good share of feigned sincerity.

Satyarthi doesn’t seem to suffer those problems. He made his name targeting the persistent use of child-labour in India. In the business of freeing slaves, it is hard not to admire efforts that saw the freeing of over 80,000 children from a state of servitude.

In contrast, the photogenic seventeen-year old Pakistani, Malala Yousafzai, is both the prop of an agenda, and the cause of a program. In 2012, she received life threatening wounds to the head from the Taliban for her stance on girls’ education in the SWAT valley. In suffering those injuries, she gave a problem a face and voice. She is also the perfect poster girl for Western middle-class anxieties, one which Zeynep Tufekci has described as “finding a young woman we admire that we all want to take home as if to put on a shelf to adore.”

What of, argues historian Sarah Waheed, the Malalas you do not see? They are very much the victims of a dysfunctional relationship between Pakistan and the United States, one that is all too brutally characterised by the continued use of drone strikes and bundles of US aid. “Unlike Malala Yousafzai… Madonna did not dedicate a song to them, nor has Angelina Jolie spoken out on their behalf.” They are the faceless ones, the sort that celebrities so conspicuously resist. Malala, on the other end, is ideological candy for the morally outraged in Hollywood and beyond. She did, after all, survive.

The congratulatory tone is invariably gushing, and the Malala cheer squad is both heavily staffed and noisy with inspirational snippets. Dominique Mosbergen, writing in The Huffington Post, gives eight reasons why Malala “is an inspiration to us all.”  What are some of them? Bravery, for one. Another: tremendous compassion. Importantly, Malala has to be seen as a universal figure, rather than one with particular aptitude in dealing with problems of education in her own country. “Malala advocates for young women everywhere.”

Malala may well strike fear into the gun men of the Taliban. She may well terrify, in her own specific way, the theocrats who stand guard over jaundiced traditions and archaic law. “Armed men run scared of an unarmed girl.” But something else is at work in what seems to be a form of witting, and unwitting deification. It ignores, for instance, that she is being perceived in some quarters of her country as a symbol of Western sponsored interference. (This takes the form, most blatantly, in the charge that she is a product of the CIA doll factory.)

Malala, in what is becoming something of a sanctification project, risks falling into the role of a moral cipher for a range of other causes in a global battle that is both political and cultural. She is a moral reminder, but also an alibi for actions taken under the cover of improvement. She has become a politicised Shirley Temple, a child politician of the developing world. Her life under Taliban rule – which she no longer experiences by virtue of her move to Britain – is becoming the cudgel to use, be it in her statements against the Taliban, or her general pronouncements on the BBC reflecting on those harrowing experiences under their rule.

This is the tragedy of politics and morality – at a certain point, manipulation is unavoidable, be it through its own self-justifying propaganda, or basic sloganeering. The public relations watchers have quickly noted the “important binary” of selecting “a Pakistani Muslim” and “an Indian Hindu”. “Their joint selection,” argues Elias Groll in Foreign Policy, “is an obvious nod towards the ongoing efforts to bring a peaceful end to Pakistan and India’s long-standing conflict with one another”.

Weapons get sharpened in the name of what perceived justice is – even some of Pakistan’s liberal elite have allied their interests with US drone strikes aimed for a higher good. The funding institutes get busy. The think tank circuits issue invitations. A drooling press corps, and a hyperventilating blogosphere, finds in Malala another child crusader. Her quotes are tweeted like a bestselling manual of self-help instructions – “12 powerful and inspiring quotes”. Editor of the Pakistan Observer, Tariq Khattak, sees the crudest form of branding at work. In his words to the BBC Newshour, Malala’s “father is a good salesman, that’s it. And the daughter has also become a salesgirl. And they are dancing on the tunes of the West.”

There is the other side of the peace and education crusade. It is the political mettle that is coming to the fore, a cool yet discerning sense that she is becoming a figure in the folds of a contradictory history. Malala, over time, has matured into a moving advertiser of causes, even telling CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that she intends leading Pakistan. “Through politics, I believe I can serve my whole country.”

That maturity, however, is in an ever problematic dance with Malala the emblem – one that European and American voices can use in their cultural causes against other states even as villages get struck by the lethal work of drones. Sainthood and martyrdom tend to be poor tools for measuring actual change.

Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne and can be reached at: bkampmark@gmail.com.

October 12, 2014 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , | Leave a comment

Love Me, I’m a Liberal!

By Kevin Carson | Center for a Stateless Society | November 18, 2013

obamas-daddy1Nothing like starting out your day with a laugh — and today I have Matthew Lynch (“12 Reasons Why Obama is One of the Greatest Presidents Ever,” Huffington Post, November 15) to thank for it.

About half of Lynch’s points boil down to, “Obama is for x, because he makes speeches talking about x all the time.” He starts out with the best one of all:

“Unlike the many presidents who preceded him, he cares about what is best for the greater good. He truly does represent The People. His actions have always been motivated by a sincere desire to do what is best for the majority, even if it meant losing ground with the wealthy, influential or powerful minority.”

Um, yeah. That’s why he adopted a Republican “universal healthcare” proposal to require everybody to buy private health insurance — and give taxpayer money to the ones who can’t afford it. That should be popular with “The People,” all right — at least those who own stock in insurance companies. That’s why he quietly promised the drug companies he wouldn’t use Medicare’s bargaining power to negotiate lower drug prices. That’s why Joe Biden conducts copyright enforcement policy out of Disney’s corporate headquarters and the administration backs draconian copyright legislation dictated in secret by proprietary content industries.

Among my favorite other howlers:

“2. He is for civil rights. He has consistently spoken on behalf of the disenfranchised, the underdog and the most controversial members of society …”

Yeah, I know he said a lot of stuff about gay marriage and ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. But he refused to actually stop prosecuting gays in the military before the law was repealed, or to put enforcement on the back burner, even when he was fully capable of using his executive authority to do so.

And notice Lynch doesn’t say “civil liberties.” Obama said a lot of stuff about them, too — back in 2008. Since then he’s expanded unconstitutional wiretapping, run interference for the telecoms that help out with it and given amnesty to people who systematically ordered and engaged in torture. Holding war criminals accountable would be “divisive,” you see. He owes the late Nuremberg defendants an apology — they were only following orders, too.

4. Healthcare. I think we already covered that.

“5. He is for the middle class. Here are just a few of the comments made by President Barack Obama in recent months …”

A lot of presidents were for a lot of stuff, if you stick to reading their collected speeches. In practice, Obama’s farm policies are written by ADM and Monsanto, and the office of Secretary of the Treasury is permanently reserved for Goldman-Sachs alumni, just as under his predecessors.

Obama’s actual economic policy is classic Hamiltonianism: Responding to technologies of abundance that reduce the need for capital and labor by using Rube Goldberg mechanisms to artificially prop up the demand for those inputs — even if it means giving people tax breaks for throwing stuff away and replacing it. The stomach-churning irony is that most of the same greenwashed Whole Foods liberals who applaud this also condemn planned obsolescence and the Military-Industrial Complex, which were designed to accomplish exactly the same result. The proper approach to technologies of abundance is to make sure their benefits are fully internalized by workers and consumers, by ceasing to enforce monopolies, artificial scarcities and rents of all kind. If it takes only fifteen hours of labor a week to produce our standard of living, it should only take fifteen hours of labor to enjoy that standard of living. But that would annoy Obama’s Big Business friends.

My favorite, though, is this:

“10. He is for peace. Let us never forget that Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 …”

Yeah, he uses that Peace Prize as a paperweight to hold down his drone kill list. Obama didn’t end the war in Afghanistan — he  transformed it into a remote-control video game war in which wedding parties can be massacred at the push of a button. And of course, Lynch can’t resist throwing in a mention of the Zero Dark Thirty crap about killing Bin Laden.

I can’t help picturing someone fifty years ago breathlessly gushing “I love JFK because he’s the Peace President” — while ignoring the Bay of Pigs, the Diem assassination and Green Berets in Vietnam.

Lynch’s points, edited for substance, are basically on the same level as a guy in a bar decked out in Full Cleveland thirty years ago saying “I feel comfortable with Reagan.”  Obama’s the Reagan of moderate center-left NPR liberals who shop at Whole Foods. If you’re satisfied with the image of peace and social justice, while government in substance continues to serve the same powerful interests, keep right on voting — that’s what it’ll get you.

November 20, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nobel Prize part of West’s propaganda fog

By Finian Cunningham | Press TV | October 11, 2013

The Nobel Peace Prize should be renamed the Nobel Propaganda Prize, after this year’s ever-so contrived award to the UN-approved chemical weapons team sent to disarm Syria.

Other dubious winners of the “illustrious” prize include the accused war criminal, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who oversaw the genocidal carpet-bombing of Indochina during the 1970s.

More recently, another accused war criminal, US President Barack Obama, is among the honorees of the award despite his ongoing use of assassination and murderous aggression in multiple countries, including Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Yemen and Syria.

A Norwegian-based committee of seemingly Scandinavian neutrality makes the award every year as it has done for more than a century ever since 1901. The prize was the creation of Alfred Nobel, a major armaments manufacturer. That in itself speaks volumes on the institution’s contradictory nature.

Last year, the winner of the Nobel Prize was yet another disgrace to morals and commonsense in the form of the European Union. How can a bloc of governments be remotely considered peaceful when it is wiping out basic social welfare for millions of its citizens in the service of criminal banks and elite private wealth? Or when it is lifting a weapons embargo on extremists running amok in Syria? Or colluding in the enforcement of crippling economic sanctions on Iran – based on nuclear calumnies cooked up by Western military intelligence – sanctions that are killing women and children from the lack of basic imported medicines?

While there have been a few deserving winners of the Nobel Peace Prize down through the years, nevertheless it is best to treat this institution with skepticism, if not derision. The meritorious aspects of the award can serve to give credence to the dubious and deplorable associates. In that way, it is more Propaganda Prize than Peace Prize.

This year’s recipient, the inspection team belonging to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, have only begun their work last week to dismantle stockpiles in Syria. This is part of the arrangement that Russia proposed last month to avert an illegal war of aggression being planned by the Nobel Peace Laureate Barack Obama. The Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad has fully signed up to the disarmament process.

However, it is precocious, to say the least, to award the OPCW with the Nobel prize, just like it was for the Oslo-based committee to give the award to Obama in 2009, only within months of his first election and before he went on to prove himself one of America’s most warmongering presidents since World War II.

How do we know that the OPCW will be effective in disarming the chemical weapons of the Western-backed mercenary groups fighting to overthrow the Assad government? How do we know that the OPCW will not mischievously misuse its remit and Nobel Laureate status to advance the Western propaganda narrative against the Syrian government?

The awarding of a peace prize based on no track record conjures suspicion that the institution and its benign connotations are being used to inculcate a reprehensible political agenda.

The same insidious propaganda formula of supposed virtue concealing vice can also be seen in the report this week by the New York-based Human Rights Watch group on massacres carried out by foreign-backed militants in Syria.

That report accuses up to 20 Al Qaeda-linked groups, including Al Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and Shams, of killing scores of civilians in Syria’s western Latakia Province during early August.

Such apparently damning testimony from a Western human rights organization may seem like a positive development.

But, as with the Nobel Peace Prize, there is a very real danger that the HRW report is merely acting as a whitewash of Western government crimes.

For a start, the HRW report claims that it has found the “first evidence of crimes against humanity by opposition forces”. That infers that previous atrocities are attributable to the Syrian government forces. This is simply false. Many reliable sources have found that most, if not all, major massacres in villages and towns across Syria over the past two and half years have been committed by the anti-government mercenary groups.

Western media and human rights groups, including HRW and Amnesty International, have deliberately or incompetently misattributed those crimes to Syrian government forces, which then serve to bestow a false moral authority on Western governments for their illicit interference in Syria.

For example, both HRW and Britain’s state-run media outlet, the BBC, as well as the US government’s Voice of America, have run reports that Syrian state forces carried out napalm bombings of schools in Raqqa and Aleppo in the north of the country. These reports are based on unverified amateur video released by so-called opposition groups, such as Ahrar al-Sham, which themselves have been involved in carrying out atrocities, as in Latakia Province during August.

HRW and the Western media continue to blame the chemical weapons incident on 21 August near Damascus on the Syrian government. HRW has openly attacked other credible sources, which have reported that that incident was a heinous fabrication, very possibly perpetrated by Western-backed militants as a calculated provocation.

There is strong suspicion, backed up by circumstantial and testimonial evidence, that the children portrayed as poisoned in the opposition-released videos of the 21 August incident in East Ghouta near Damascus were kidnapped by militants during their terror raids on villages in Latakia during the previous weeks. Their deaths were therefore staged for vile propaganda purpose, with which the Western governments, media and human rights industry have subsequently lashed Bashar al-Assad, eventually leading to the appointment of the OPCW inspection team and, bizarrely, their Nobel award.

The latest report by HRW on the massacres in Latakia notes that there are still over 200 people, mainly women and children, missing from those attacks. But HRW does not address the glaring connection to the anonymous child victims filmed in the East Ghouta incident.

A further insidious propaganda effect of the HRW report into the massacres by militants in Latakia is that it reinforces the illusion that the militants in Syria are divided between the “bad extremists” and the “good moderates”, whom the Western governments support. HRW says that it found no evidence linking the supposedly Western-backed Free Syrian Army to the Latakia atrocities.

However, this is contradicted by earlier reports that the leader of the FSA, General Salim Idris, and the moderate “darling” of Western governments, was in Latakia during the murderous rampages. Not only was Idris present in Latakia, he was videoed celebrating “the success” of operations.

On 11 August, the New York Times reported: “The visit by the Free Syrian Army commander, Gen. Salim Idris, appeared intended to show that he and his fighters were also involved in the Latakia seizures [sic] as part of a new front in the civil war.” That report added that Idris crowed about “accomplishments” in a released video.

The Human Rights Watch group is therefore not a positive contribution to clear the fog of war that the West has been pumping out relentlessly over Syria – far from it. HRW is a deep and insidious part of the problem. In fact, it is whitewashing the very real criminal involvement of Western governments and media in the covert war of aggression against Syria.

Nobel Peace Prizes and Western human rights groups may sound innocuous. But they are a central part of the Western propaganda machine, as much as MI6, CIA, Mossad, the Pentagon, Whitehall and the panoply of Western news media outlets with august titles, such as BBC and New York Times.

~

Finian Cunningham, originally from Belfast, Ireland, was born in 1963. He is a prominent expert in international affairs. The author and media commentator was expelled from Bahrain in June 2011 for his critical journalism in which he highlighted human rights violations by the Western-backed regime.

October 11, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

When Will We Realize That It Is Murder?

By TOM MCNAMARA | CounterPunch | January 31, 2013

In his essay “A Hanging,” George Orwell recounts, in great detail, the events he witnessed leading up to the execution of a man. It is important to note that before becoming an outspoken critic of the hypocrisy of Governments, George Orwell worked for one. He was a member of the Indian Imperial Police, having served in Burma, a British colony at the time.

The condemned was a small Hindu man who, while apparently resigned to his fate, none the less had irritated the jail superintendent by the fact that he was still alive at 8:00 o’clock in the morning. “The man ought to have been dead by this time” the superintendent said irritably. The slow pace of the execution was disrupting the smooth functioning of the prison, since the other prisoners couldn’t be fed their breakfast until the sentence had been carried out.

We are given a vivid description of how the man walked awkwardly, encumbered by the chains that restrained him, but steadily, to his fate. When the execution party was about forty yards from the hangman’s gallows, Orwell tells us that a most curious thing occurred. The prisoner, in the last few remaining minutes of his life, made the slight effort to step aside as he was walking so as to avoid a puddle that was in his path.

This event shocked Orwell, who candidly reveals to us that until that moment, he had never truly realized what it meant to kill another human being. It took the insignificant act of a man not wanting to get his feet wet on the way to his own execution to make Orwell understand, for the first time in his life, “what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man” and of the “unspeakable wrongness” involved in executing someone.

The US, as part of its “War on Terror,” a war which, conveniently enough, was undeclared and has no expiration date, has been using drones for at least a decade now. And 2013 appears to have gotten off to a spectacular start, with 7 attacks in the first 10 days of January in Pakistan alone. This compares to an average of less than one a week in 2012. One report has as many as 11 civilians being killed so far this year. This figure is, of course, being disputed by U.S. officials. Unfortunately, they declined to provide a figure of their own.

And while their use has grown, President Obama assures us that, “Drones have not caused a huge number of civilian casualties” and that missile launches have been “very precise precision strikes against al Qaeda and their affiliates, and we have been very careful about how it’s been applied.”

In a direct rebuke to his critics, the President argues, “There’s this perception that we’re just sending a whole bunch of strikes willy-nilly. This is a targeted, focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists who are trying to go in and harm Americans.”

One would be forgiven for disagreeing.

On October 14, 2011, a 16-year-old boy, and American citizen, named Abdulrahman al-Awlaki was killed in a deliberate drone strike in Yemen (8 other people were also killed). He shared the same fate as his father, Anwar al-Awlaki, also an American citizen, who was killed in a targeted drone strike 2 weeks prior.

And the boy’s crime? According to Obama senior campaign adviser, and former White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, it was to have the unfortunate luck of being born to a “radical” Muslim cleric.

In an interview with We Are Change, a self proclaimed non-partisan media organization,    Mr. Gibbs tells us that the boy “should have [had] a far more responsible father.” It is not clear if by “responsible father” Mr. Gibbs meant someone with a Nobel Peace Prize, a “kill list” and a fleet of armed attack drones at his disposal.

In defense of the dead boy, it should be noted that his father, an accused member of al-Qaeda who was allegedly plotting to blow up US airliners and poison US citizens, had an honor not given to many radical Muslim clerics.

He had the distinct pleasure of being an invited guest at the Pentagon, dining there in the days following the terrorist attacks of 9/11. This is a privilege that not even your faithful correspondent’s father has enjoyed.

But surely the killing of children (even children with horrible fathers or children who were not fortunate enough to have been born American citizens) through drone strikes is something that we can all agree is reprehensible and indefensible, isn’t it?

Not according to Mr. Joe Klein, political columnist for Time Magazine. In comments made on the MSNBC program “Morning Joe” on October 23, 2012, Mr. Klein presents us with the thought provoking question of, “Whose four year old gets killed?” He then goes on to advocate the indiscriminate killing of innocent people in the Middle East and Africa with drone attacks (Mr. Klein’s original question implies that he prefers the people killed be four year children), defending his point by stating, “What we’re doing is limiting the possibility that 4-year-olds here will get killed by indiscriminate acts of terror.”

To find a similar argument, logic or thought process, I believe, you would have to go back to one of the most morally bankrupt and reprehensible regimes in all of history.

(Author’s Note: while your faithful correspondent is neither a psychiatrist nor a psychologist, if your thoughts should ever take you to a place where you find yourself justifying the murder of innocent 4 year old children, I suggest you seek the care of a mental health professional immediately)

But all this talk of killed children is surely a moot point, isn’t it? The US government, once more, assures us that drones are used in a responsible manner, and therefore, rarely kill civilians, let alone children. Unfortunately, a study by the Brookings Institute leads us to believe the contrary. It argues that for every “insurgent” killed, there are, on average, 10 civilians killed as well. And the New American Foundation has found that the US government has the habit of repeatedly under-reporting the number of civilians killed and wounded in drone attacks. More troubling still, a study done jointly by Stanford Law School and the NYU School of Law claims that the US government, as a matter of policy, habitually under-reports the number of civilians killed and wounded in drone attacks.

The US is entering its 12th year of war in Afghanistan (longer than the Soviet Union’s campaign). A key component of US strategy in the region is targeted drone strikes. America’s drone policy has reportedly killed between 474 and 881 civilians in the region, including 176 children.

Further compounding all of this is the controversial US policy called the “double tap.” This involves striking an initial target and then, as people arrive to give aid to the original victims, following up with repeated attacks on the same site. It has been reported that, as a result of this policy, innocent bystanders and non-combatants have been intentionally killed. There are also disturbing reports that funerals have been deliberately hit by targeted drone strikes as well. In almost any other case these events would be labelled as war crimes or terrorism. But somehow, in the US, they only raise “contentious legal questions” according to the New York Times.

If we consider ourselves as being part of a just and correct society, Article 2(4) of the U.N. Charter should give us reason to pause. It expressly prohibits the threat or use of force by one state against another.

Some proponents of drone attacks have argued that Article 2(4) doesn’t apply, since these attacks are mostly being carried out on militants and insurgents in regions where the rule of law has broken down. Therefore, the phrase “state” doesn’t apply, nullifying that section of the Charter.

This argument is dubious at best. If it were China, Russia, or Iran engaging in this type of behavior closer to US shores, say in the remote regions of Central or South America, there is no doubt that the US government would be in an uproar over the legality, and the morality, of attack drones.

There is also no doubt that we would finally be able to recognize what the killing of innocent men, women and children with drones really is.

Murder.

Tom McNamara is an Assistant Professor at the ESC Rennes School of Business, France, and a Visiting Lecturer at the French National Military Academy at Saint-Cyr, Coëtquidan, France.

Sources

“A Hanging” by George Orwell, 1931

“Abdulrahman al-Awlaki’s birth certificate” The Washington Post. Accessed at:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/world/documents/abdulrahman-al-awlaki-birth-certificate.html

“Anwar al-Awlaki” October 19, 2012, The New York Times. Accessed at:

http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/people/a/anwar_al_awlaki/index.html

“Anwar al-Awlaki killing sparks US travel alert” October 1, 2011, BBC. Accessed at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-15140198

“CIA ‘revives attacks on rescuers’ in Pakistan” by Chris Woods, June 4th, 2012, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Accessed at:

http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2012/06/04/cia-revives-attacks-on-rescuers-in-pakistan/

“Critics of US drone programme angered by John Brennan’s nomination to CIA” by Paul Harris, January 10, 2013, The Guardian. Accessed at:

www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/10/critics-us-drone-brennan-cia-nomination

“Do Targeted Killings Work?” by Daniel L. Byman, Senior Fellow Foreign Policy, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, July 14, 2009, The Brookings Institute. Accessed at:

http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2009/07/14-targeted-killings-byman

“Everything We Know So Far About Drone Strikes” by Cora Currier, January 11, 2013, ProPublica. Accessed at:

http://www.propublica.org/article/everything-we-know-so-far-about-drone-strikes#correx

“George Orwell” BBC History. Accessed at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/orwell_george.shtml

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http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2012/02/04/get-the-data-obamas-terror-drones/

“Joe Klein’s sociopathic defense of drone killings of children” by Glenn Greenwald, October 23, 2012, The Guardian. Accessed at:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/23/klein-drones-morning-joe

“Living Under Drones: Death, Injury, and Trauma to Civilians From US Drone Practices in Pakistan” the International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic (Stanford Law School) and the Global Justice Clinic (NYU School of Law), September 2012. Accessed at:

http://livingunderdrones.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Stanford_NYU_LIVING_UNDER_DRONES.pdf

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http://video.ca.msn.com/watch/video/scarborough-drone-program-is-going-to-cause-us-problems-in-future/17yak5xn9?cpkey=2a4bc99a-0f01-4da8-8cdf-8fe4b888a3b4%257c%257c%257c%257c

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http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204652904577193673318589462.html

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http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=7MwB2znBZ1g

“Qaeda-Linked Imam Dined at Pentagon after 9/11” By Bob Orr, October 21, 2010, CBSNews /

CBS. Accessed at:

http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-201_162-6978200.html

“Robert Gibbs Says Anwar al-Awlaki’s Son, Killed By Drone Strike, Needs ‘Far More Responsible Father’” by ryan Grim, October 24, 2012, The Huffington Post. Accessed at:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/24/robert-gibbs-anwar-al-awlaki_n_2012438.html

“The Charter of the United Nations” June 26, 1945. Accessed at:

http://www.un.org/en/documents/charter/intro.shtml

“The Moral Case for Drones” by Scott Shane, July 14, 2012, The New York Times. Accessed at:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/15/sunday-review/the-moral-case-for-drones.html?ref=opinion

‘The Year of the Drone: An Analysis of U.S. Drone Strikes in Pakistan, 2004-2012’ The New American Foundation. Accessed at:

http://counterterrorism.newamerica.net/drones

“U.S. airstrike that killed American teen in Yemen raises legal, ethical questions” by Craig Whitlock, October 22, 2011, The Washington Post, Accessed at:

http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2011-10-22/world/35277515_1_awlaki-military-airstrike-al-qaeda-affiliate

“U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan on rise for 2013” by Greg Miller, January 11, 2013, The Washington Post. Accessed at:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-drone-strikes-in-pakistan-on-rise-for-2013/2013/01/10/d0a204a0-5b58-11e2-9fa9-5fbdc9530eb9_story.html

January 31, 2013 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Progressive Hypocrite, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on When Will We Realize That It Is Murder?

The EU accelerates trade with Israel, despite human rights abuses

By Amelia Smith | MEMO | October 13, 2012

The EU accelerates trade with Israel, despite human rights abusesThe EU’s 500 million citizens account for about 60% of Israel’s total trade. Europe is Israel’s largest source of imports and its second biggest export market, second only to the United States.

That’s a lot of bargaining potential when it comes to addressing Israel’s bullish behaviour in the Middle East. A boycott of Israeli goods for example, could finally push Israel to stop its breaches of international law.

But instead of exercising this negotiating clout, the EU is actually planning to boost trade between them through the Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products (ACAA). They would rather maintain, or make worse, the status quo than address human rights violations.

If it is permitted, the agreement will reduce practical barriers, which currently stand in the way of trade, and make the flow of goods between Israel and the EU easier. Whether the deal in question will materialise depends on an imminent European Parliamentary vote, and could be approved by the end of the month.

ACAA’s supporters argue that it is simply a “technical” measure. That the benefits of such a system could offer greater health related goods, considering the agreement is limited to pharmaceutical produce.

But does anyone actually believe that it will continue to apply only to medicine? It won’t stop here. It will be a stepping-stone, and could pave the way for many other types of merchandise.

Whilst the agreement will improve Israel’s economic integration into the EU’s single market and enhance co-operation between the countries, it will do so at the expense of Palestinians’ well-being.

Reverence for human rights is the EU’s motto, it is supposed to run through the core of everything it does, especially foreign policy. Take Turkey for example, whose human rights record has long prevented its entry into the EU.

It is strange then that Israel should be treated so differently. Which part of the separation wall and the torrent of human rights abuses that occur from its presence, have those who are poised to sign the agreement missed about Israel? Their expansion policies in the West Bank and the demolition of Palestinian homes are not civil liberties. Sadly, it seems Israel will continue to be a member of the elite club regardless.

If the economic interest of big powers wins over local interests it will be nothing new; think Germany and its contract to sell nuclear-tipped submarines to Israel. Angela Merkel may have asked Benjamin Netanyahu to halt settlement activity and build a sewage treatment plant in the Gaza Strip in exchange, but none of these conditions have been met.

Ironically, today the European Union won the Nobel Peace Prize for encouraging peace in Europe. As he pronounced the award, committee president Thorbjoern Jagland commended the EU for encouraging “peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights.”

But the prize’s recipients are often steeped in controversy; Obama once balanced the trophy in one hand and two wars in the other.

Follow Amelia on Twitter: @amyinthedesert

October 13, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | Comments Off on The EU accelerates trade with Israel, despite human rights abuses

An Immodest Proposal for the Nobel Peace Prize Committee

NATO in 2013!

By DIANA JOHNSTONE and JEAN BRICMONT | CounterPunch | October 12, 2012

The Norwegian parliamentarians have just awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union.  Now, Norway is one of the few Western European countries that does not belong to the EU.  So we suspect that the Norwegians’ modesty held them back from nominating the organization which deep down they believe truly merits the prize, NATO, because they belong to it.  The self-effacing Norwegians may have feared that such a choice would seem to be awarding the Prize to themselves. So they gave the prize to the EU as a sort of substitute.

That is laudable, and shows how much the Norwegians adhere to our common Western values.

However, we maintain that false modesty should not stand in the way of rewarding genuine merit.  Therefore, we propose that all those who cherish our common values should unite behind this immodest proposal: award the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize to NATO!

The wise Norwegians justify their choice by pointing out that the European Union has promoted European integration.  But if one looks at the facts, it is clear that NATO has integrated even more countries than the EU, and continues to do so, well beyond the provincial limits of Western Europe.  The EU has integrated Europe by economic means, which even the Nobel committee admits are collapsing.  NATO, on the other hand, has used bombs and missiles, to win former Yugoslavia over to our values, whereas the EU lags behind.  NATO has used its naval and air forces to democratize Libya, whereas the European Union leaders only justified the operation with mere words.  And today, thanks to Turkey, NATO is actively involved in combating the Syrian dictator who murders his own people, while the EU still merely talks and sends money which it doesn’t have.

The Norwegians praise the EU for combating the evil of nationalism, which they fear is on the rise.  However, in all honesty, the EU contribution to this noble cause is paltry, involving only a few declining nations on the tip of the Eurasian continent.  How much more inspiring is NATO’s mission of combating nationalism by bringing its benevolent rule of democracy and human rights to the whole world!  It is only when all nations and nationalisms have been brought under the governance of Western values that true peace will finally reign over our planet.

On the eve of the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of World War I, what could be more fitting than to award this prestigious Peace Prize to the organization that is truly ready and willing to END ALL WARS!

NATO in 2013!!!

Diana Johnstone can be reached at diana.josto@yahoo.fr

Jean Bricmont can be reached at jean.bricmont@uclouvain.be

October 13, 2012 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , , | Comments Off on An Immodest Proposal for the Nobel Peace Prize Committee

Nobel Committee does it again

By Gunnar Westberg | International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War | October 12, 2012

They did it again.

The Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union.

The Norwegian Nobel Prize committee has again decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize award to a recipient with the intention to encourage the awardee to work for peace, rather than to reward an accomplishment.

The European Union was by its founders seen as a peace organization, but has since done little to promote peace or to achieve disarmament. Most important, the EU has not at all worked to diminish the greatest threat to mankind: nuclear war. Two of the dominant members of the EU are nuclear weapon states, which have shown no intention to work to prevent a nuclear Armageddon. The EU has rather discouraged work by its member states against nuclear weapons. The two European countries who have been most active for nuclear abolition, Switzerland and Norway, are not members of the EU.

The Nobel Peace Prize committee members are appointed by the Norwegian Parliament. The Parliament has chosen to appoint mostly politicians. Maybe that is the reason the members keep rewarding politicians and political organisations. There should be members from peace research institutes, peace organisations, and respected non-political members of the community.

The European Union does not meet the requirements of a Nobel Peace laureate, according to the testament of Alfred Nobel, the one who shall have done the most or the best work for brotherhood between peoples, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies, and for the promotion of peace congresses.

October 12, 2012 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Militarism | , , , , | 3 Comments

Top Ten Things That Have and Haven’t Changed In the Era of Obama

By Bruce A. Dixon | BAR | June 20, 2012

Black America’s median household wealth, compared to that of whites, has sharply declined under Barack Obama. That’s a change. Just not a good one.

This is a consequence of the foreclosure epidemic which began in 2007 and 2008 and has always been concentrated in black and poor neighborhoods. But the Obama administration has allowed the foreclosure wave to continue without any letup during its first three and a half years, rejecting demands for foreclosure moratoriums or other measures which would make it easier for large numbers of families to remain in their homes. Where the ratio of white to black household wealth four years ago was around 11 to one, today it is greater than 20 to 1.

African Americans still make up 12 or 13% of the nation’s population, remain more than 40% of its locked down and locked up, No change there at all…

Latinos, who make up another 13%, are about 30% of the nation’s prisoners and rising, a slight change, but distinctly for the worse. So seven of every ten US prisoners are from the one quarter of the nation that is black or brown, and that percentage is rising.

The fifty-year war on drugs continues. No change for the better at all there.

Like every president since Nixon, Barack Obama has thwarted states that wanted to decriminalize small amounts of drugs, refuses to treat drug use as a medical problem rather than a police one. Like its predecessors, the Obama administration has expanded the frontiers of the drug war into places like Mexico and Colombia, where the US demand for illegal drugs has given birth to vast industries which may be among the largest and most lucrative, and certainly the most deadly, in those countries.

“Too big to fail” banksters and other financial criminals are still above the law. No change here either.

Not a single person responsible for crashing the economy in 2007 has seen the inside of a prison. It’s just not going to happen. Wall Street insiders give as much, and often more to Democrats than they do to Republicans. So the Obama administration has protected banks and lenders and their co-conspirators from prosecution, and shoveled more than ten trillion more at banksters, including those based outside the US, than the Bush-Cheney gang ever did.

It’s worth remembering that when Bush could not pass his own bailout bill six weeks before the 2008 election, he called Barack Obama into town to spend the week on the phone with Congressional Democrats getting them to switch their votes. So the only change here has been the party in charge.

Although governments will create trillions of new dollars to give to banksters and borrow it back from them at interest in the name of “fixing the economy”, it still won’t create millions of jobs for the unemployed. No change:

In the 1930s, the federal government addressed the Depression by creating hundreds of thousands of jobs out of thin air. They built roads and subways, parks, recreational facilities, dams and bridges. They did theater and historical research like tracking down and interviewing the last living survivors of slavery. It was called the WPA, or Works Progress Administration, under the administration of Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The White House could do the same today, creating millions of new jobs, repairing and rebuilding infrastructure, building high speed rail, refitting millions of homes for energy efficiency. But Barack Obama disdains the heritage of his own Democratic party. He sounds more like Hoover than FDR today when he says that it’s the exclusive role of the private sector to create jobs.

It’s still almost impossible to organize a union and fight for your own rights on the job anywhere in the US. No change:

There are laws against firing workers who try, but employers are unafraid to break those laws, while working people are very much afraid to lose their jobs. Candidate Obama did promise to put on his comfortable shoes and walk a picket line. Maybe he just lied. President Obama has frozen the wages and pensions of government workers, and endorsed the traditionally Republican idea that public employee and private pensions and health plans cause economic distress to employes and the economy.

The bipartisan corporate-funded drive to “reform” education by breaking teachers unions, turning teachers into Wal-Mart style temps, hi-stakes testing, dissolving public schools and replacing them by privately owned charter schools, exempt from public accountability continues apace. No change there at all.

Bush’s Secretary of Education called teachers unions “terrorist organizations.” Obama’s Secretary of Education declared that Katrina was the best thing that could have happened to public education in New Orleans.

If anything, the Obama administration’s Race To The Top program pushed the envelope further than Republicans would have been able to without sustained resistance. It required states to compete for available federal education funds based upon how many teachers they can fire, how many public schools they can close, how many so-called “merit pay” schemes and similar atrocities they can inflict. Just as only a vicious warmonger like Nixon could have made the first presidential trip to China, only a black Democrat could have successfully pushed the education policy envelope this far in the anti-democratic directions of charters and educational privatization. If anything, Obama’s heinous education policies provide an even further rightward step-off point for Republicans like Mitt Romney. It didn’t have to be that way.

US troops are in more than 140 countries worldwide, and the US, with under 5% of the world’s people, spends more on the military than the other 95% of humanity combined. Not much change there.

On the other hand, in the first weeks of his administration, President Obama received a Nobel Peace Prize. So the pan-European elite, which feared and despised George Bush, loves Obama. That’s a kind of change they call a distinction without a difference.

The Afghan war drags on, apparently indefinitely. A hundred thousand US-paid mercenaries remain in Iraq, and the war there too is far from over. On the other hand, Barack Obama has been able to use cruise missiles and drones to kill black and brown civilians including children in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan, among other places. US military forces took part in the invasion and overthrow of the African nation of Libya, and the White House has openly rather than covertly sent unknown numbers of US special forces into nobody knows how many countries of Central Africa. A Bush administration doing this would have been greeted with nationwide street demonstrations. But a black Democrat gets a near automatic pass. Is this what the real “race card” looks like?

A US president still orders torture, murder, indefinite imprisonment without trial, and lets corporations that commit crimes abetting those of government employees completely off the hook. But there has been a change here.

When the Bush-Cheney gang did all this stuff, they did it as scofflaws. The Obama Administration has rammed through legislation in Congress and asked for court decisions to cloak most of the previously illegal torture, murder, kidnapping, warrantless spying and similar crimes with thin veneers of legality. This is the all-important difference between having an MBA as president as opposed to a professor of constitutional law.

Black politics, at one time heavily influenced by what Martin Luther King called opposition to the triple evils of racism, militarism, and economic injustice, has shrunken and shriveled under the influence of a new class of corporate funded black political leaders like Corey Booker and Barack Obama. Deep, real and significant change here.

Black politics ain’t about fighting for decent housing or jobs any more. It’s not about diverting resources from the war machine to uplifting the downtrodden. It’s not about funding education or working for the end of the prison state. It’s certainly not about defying unjust laws in the pursuit of just ends, as the Freedom Movement once routinely did.

People forget that King was murdered in Memphis in the middle of a sanitation workers strike in which the National Guard had been called out to patrol the city, and students had stayed home from high school for days to participate in illegal mass actions.

21st century black politics is about electing black politicians, no more and no less. That, and observing Black History Month.

This is far from an exhaustive list, of course.

We could have mentioned the fact that big oil, big agribusiness, big insurance, and big pharma all continue to get whatever they ask for. We might have pointed out that local and state fiscal crises are constantly being provoked, to which the solutions are always “public private partnerships” a standard euphemism for privatizations of public assets like roads, waterworks, generation facilities and public services like payroll, parking and fleet management. We could have pointed out that medical costs are still factors in a majority of personal bankruptcies, and the FCC has essentially abandoned any pretense of regulating the cable and broadcast industries, preferring to simply lease out or auction off the electromagnetic spectrum and leave it all to the “free market”.

Some things have changed over the last four years, and some haven’t. One thing that seems never to change, as long as our choices are restricted to the two corporate parties, is that while you can squint hard enough to make distinctions between Republicans and Democrats, there are few important differences.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. He lives and works in Marietta GA, and is a state committee member of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.

June 20, 2012 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , | 1 Comment

How not to stop the violence in Syria — Elie Wiesel’s latest bright idea

By Maidhc Ó Cathail | The Passionate Attachment | June 9, 2012

Touted on Twitter as a “must-read” by John McCain, Elie Wiesel had an op-ed in yesterday’s Washington Post titled “How to stop the Syria massacre.” Clearly distressed that the United States appears to be finally growing weary of fighting wars in Israel’s increasingly destabilized backyard, the prosperous Holocaust survivor lays on the guilt trip:

Military intervention? No. Why not? Because the American people are tired of waging distant wars. Because American families have lost too many sons and daughters in far-away conflicts. Should Syrian families suffer because of the help we have given others? Because of the sacrifices we have already made?

The warmongering Nobel Peace Prize laureate has another bright idea, however:

I am not sure that armed assistance is the only solution. Economic sanctions have proved to be relatively futile elsewhere. But why not imagine yet another option that might produce a dramatic effect?

Why not warn Assad that, unless he stops the murderous policy he is engaged in, he will be arrested and brought to the international criminal court in the Hague and charged with committing crimes against humanity?

Such a charge would have discouraging aspects. He would lose any support, any sympathy, in the world at large. No honorable person would come to his defense. No nation would offer him shelter. No statute of limitations would apply to his case.

If and when he realizes that, like Egypt’s dictator, Hosni Mubarak, he will end up in disgrace, locked in a prison cell, he might put an end to his senseless criminal struggle for survival.

Why not try it?

As Wiesel most likely knows from the efforts to “stop Gadhafi,” his humanitarian-sounding suggestion is almost guaranteed to have the opposite effect.

But American administrations should also know by now to be wary of his advice. All President Obama needs to do is to learn from the experience of his predecessor, George W. Bush:

In the winter of 2003, I sought opinions on Iraq from a variety of sources…. One of the most fascinating people I met with was Elie Wiesel, the author, Holocaust survivor, and deserving Nobel Prize recipient. Elie is a sober and gentle man. But there was passion in his seventy-four-year-old eyes when he compared Saddam Hussein’s brutality to the Nazi genocide. “Mr. President,” he said, “you have a moral obligation to act against evil.” The force of his conviction affected me deeply. Here was a man who had devoted his life to peace urging me to intervene in Iraq…

June 9, 2012 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Kofi Annan: black skin, white masks

By Thierry Meyssan | Voltaire Network | March 30, 2012

Although Kofi Annan’s track record at the UN is an indisputable success in terms of management and efficiency, he has been sharply criticized for his political shortcomings. As Secretary General, he aspired to bring the Organization into line with the unipolar world and the globalization of U.S. hegemony. He called into question the ideological foundations of the UN and undermined its ability to prevent conflicts. Notwithstanding, he is today in charge of resolving the Syrian crisis.

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Former UN Secretary General and Nobel Peace Prize, Kofi Annan, has been designated by Ban Ki-moon and Nabil El Arabi as joint special envoy to negotiate a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis. With Annan’s extraordinary experience and shiny brand image, his appointment was welcomed by all.

What does this top international official really represent? Who propelled him to the highest-ranking positions? What were his political choices, and what are his current commitments? These questions are met with a discreet silence, as if his previous functions were in themselves a guarantee of neutrality.

Handpicked and trained by the Ford Foundation and the CIA

His former colleagues praise him for his thoughtfulness, his intelligence and subtlety. A very charismatic personality, Kofi Annan left a strong imprint behind him because he did not behave simply as the “secretary” of the UN, but more like its “general,” by taking initiatives that revivified an organization that was mired in bureaucracy. All that is known and has been repeated ad nauseam. His exceptional professional qualities earned him the Nobel Peace Prize, although this honor in theory should have been bestowed for personal political commitment, not a management career.

Kofi and his twin sister Efua Atta were born on 8 April 1938, into an aristocratic family of the British colony of the Gold Coast. His father was the tribal chief of the Fante people and the elected governor of Asante province. Although he opposed British rule, he was a faithful servant of the Crown. With other notables, he took part in the first decolonization movement, but looked upon the revolutionary fervor of Kwame Nkrumah with suspicion and anxiety.

In any event, Nkrumah’s efforts led to the independence of the country in 1957 under the name of Ghana. Kofi was then 19 years old. Though not involved in the revolution, he became vice-president of the new National Student Association. It was then that he was spotted by a headhunter from the Ford Foundation who incorporated him into a program for “young leaders.” From there, he was invited to follow a summer course at Harvard University. Having noticed his enthusiasm for the United States, the Ford Foundation offered to sponsor his complete studies, first in economics at Macalester College in Minnesota, followed by international relations at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva.

After the Second World War, the Ford Foundation, created by famous industrialist Henry Ford, became an unofficial instrument of U.S. foreign policy, providing a respectable facade for the activities of the CIA [1].

Kofi Annan’s overseas study period (1959-1961) coincided with the most difficult years of the African-American civil rights movement (the start of Martin Luther King’s Birmingham campaign). He saw it as an extension of the decolonization he had witnessed in Ghana, but once again did not get involved.

Impressed with Annan’s academic achievements and political discretion, his U.S. mentors opened for him the doors of the World Health Organization, where he landed his first job. After three years at WHO headquarters in Geneva, he was appointed to the Economic Commission for Africa based in Addis Ababa. However, not sufficiently qualified to pursue a career at the UN, he returned to the United States to take up management studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (1971-1972). He then attempted a comeback in his home country as director of tourism development, but found himself perpetually at odds with the military government of General Acheampong; he gave up and returned to the United Nations in 1976.

A successful career despite tragic failures

There, he held various positions, initially within UNEF II (the peacekeeping emergency force established to supervise the cease fire between Egypt and Israel at the end of the October 1973 war), then as Director of personnel at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). It was at this time that he met and married Nane Lagergren Master, his second wife. The Swedish lawyer is the niece of Raoul Wallenberg, Sweden’s special envoy in Budapest during World War II. Wallenberg is famous for having saved hundreds of persecuted Jews by issuing them protective passports. He also worked for the OSS (forerunner of today’s CIA) as a liaison with the Hungarian resistance. He disappeared at the end of the war, when the Soviets allegedly captured him to stem US influence in the country. In any event, Kofi Annan’s successful marriage opened the doors that he could not have passed through on his own, especially those of Jewish organizations.

Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar chose Kofi Annan as Assistant Secretary-General in charge of human resources management and staff safety and security (1987-90). With the annexation of Kuwait by Iraq, 900 UN employees remained stranded in that country. Kofi Annan was able to negotiate their release with Saddam Hussein, a feat that boosted his prestige within the Organization. He was then successively put in charge of the budget (1990-92) and peacekeeping operations under Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali (1993-96), with a brief interlude as a special envoy for Yugoslavia.

According to Canadian General Romeo Dallaire, commander of the UN peacekeeping force in Rwanda, Kofi Annan failed to respond to his many appeals and carries the primary responsibility for UN inaction during the genocide (800,000 dead, mainly Tutsis, but also Hutu opponents) [2].

A similar scenario was repeated in Bosnia, where 400 peacekeepers were taken hostage by Bosnian Serb forces. Kofi Annan remained deaf to the calls of General Bernard Janvier and allowed the perpetration of predictable massacres.

In late 1996, the United States vetoed the reappointment of the Egyptian Boutros Boutros-Ghali as Secretary General, regarded as dangerously Francophile. They succeeded in imposing their candidate: a senior official from within the international organization itself, Kofi Annan. Far from playing against him, his failures in Rwanda and Bosnia blossomed into assets after he candidly confessed to them and promised to reform the system so that they wouldn’t recur. He was elected on this basis and took office on 1 January 1997.

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United Nations Secretary General

Kofi Annan immediately set up an annual two-day seminar behind closed doors for fifteen UN ambassadors. This “retreat” (sic) was generously hosted by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund at the Pocantico Conference Center (upstate New York). There, outside the official framework of the United Nations, the Secretary General discussed the reform of the Organization with the representatives of the States whose support he knew he could count on.

In this context, he reallocated the expenditures of the UN in line with political priorities and significantly reduced the budget of the General Secretariat. He reorganized the administrative functioning around four objectives (peace and security, development, economic and social affairs, humanitarian affairs). He created a post of deputy secretary-general to stand in for him and endowed himself with a real cabinet capable of acting promptly on the decisions of the Security Council and General Assembly.

Kofi Annan’s landmark initiative was the Global Compact, the mobilization of civil society for a better world. On the basis of a voluntary dialogue, businesses, unions and NGOs were brought together to discuss and commit to respect human rights, labor standards and the environment.

In practice, the Global Compact did not yield the desired effect on the ground. On the contrary, it deeply distorted the nature of the UN by playing down the power of nation-states and emphasizing that of transnational corporations and of associations which are “non-governmental” only in name and which are covertly funded by the great powers. By promoting lobbies as partners of the United Nations, Kofi Annan buried the spirit of the San Francisco Charter. It is no longer a question of saving mankind from the scourge of war by recognizing the legal equality of nations large and small, but of improving the human condition by supporting the convergence between private interests.

The Global Compact is a deviation from the nearly universally accepted logic that international law serves the common good, to a logic embraced only by the Anglo-Americans for whom the common good is a chimera and good governance consists in bringing together the largest number of special interests. Ultimately, the Global Compact has had the same effect as the charity galas in the U.S.: to give oneself a good conscience by launching high-profile initiatives while condoning structural injustices.

In that sense, the terms of Kofi Annan (1997-2006) reflect the reality of the historical period, that of a unipolar world subjected to the globalization of U.S. hegemony at the expense of nation-states and the peoples that they represent.

This strategy is in line with the device set up by Washington in the 1980’s involving the National Endowment for Democracy, an agency that, contrary to its title, aims to carry forward the subversive action of the CIA by manipulating the democratic process [3]. The NED subsidizes, legally or not, employers’ organizations, labor unions and associations of all kinds. In return, the beneficiaries participate in the Global Compact, thereby bending the positions of the Nation-States which lack the means to fund their own lobbies. Peace has stopped being a concern for the UN since the unipolar world has its own policeman, the U.S.; thus the organization can concentrate instead on absorbing all forms of protest to better corroborate the global disorder and justify the progressive global expansion of U.S. hegemony.

The soothing rhetoric of Kofi Annan reached its zenith at the Millennium Summit. 147 heads of state and government pledged to eradicate poverty and solve major health problems worldwide, including AIDS, in fifteen years. Universal happiness can dispense with political reform, provided everyone makes an effort and chips in. Why didn’t anyone think of this earlier? But alas, the Millennium remained wishful thinking; injustice was not eradicated and continues to nurture war and misery.

In the same vein, Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s 20 September 1999 speech to the General Assembly outlined what has been termed the “Annan doctrine.” Using his own impotence in Rwanda and Bosnia as an excuse, he argued that in both cases the States had failed in their duty to protect their own people. He therefore concluded that the sovereignty of States, guiding principle of the UN Charter, constitutes an obstacle to human rights protection. The African Union adopted this view under the name of “Responsibility to Protect;” the UN followed suit in 2005 during the World Summit responsible for the follow-up of the Millennium Summit. The Annan doctrine is nothing more than the reincarnation of the right to intervene invoked by the British to wage war against the Ottoman Empire and, more recently, updated by Bernard Kouchner. The new concept will be used explicitly for the first time in 2011 to legalize the colonial operation against Libya [4].

In addition, Kofi Annan’s terms as UN Secretary-General were marked by the “Oil-for-Food” programme which was devised by the Security Council in 1991, but was effective only from 1996 to 2003. It was originally intended to ensure that Iraq’s oil revenues would be used exclusively to meet the needs of the Iraqi people and not to finance new military adventures. However, in the context of the international embargo and under the personal supervision of Kofi Annan, this program became an instrument in the hands of the U.S. and the UK to bleed Iraq while they occupied the “no-fly zone” (which corresponds roughly to the current autonomous Kurdistan region) until the outbreak of the aggression against and destruction of the country [5]. For years, the population was undernourished and deprived of life-saving medicines. Several international officials who were in charge of that program qualified it as a “war crime” and even resigned after refusing to apply it. Among them, the UN Assistant Secretary-General Hans von Sponeck and UN Humanitarian Coordinator Denis Halliday considered that this program brought about the genocide of 1, 5 million Iraqis, including at least 500,000 children [6].

It was not until the invasion and destruction of Iraq that Kofi Annan finally rebelled and denounced those who had paid for his education, propelled his rise to Secretary-General of the UN, and awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize. He described the attack on Iraq as illegal and voiced public concern that this precedent would eviscerate International Law [7] Washington responded brutally with a spying operation against Kofi Annan, his cabinet, his family and even against his friends. The Secretary-General’s son, Kojo Annan, was accused of embezzling “oil for food” program funds with his father’s blessing. The prosecution did not manage to convince UN member states and, on the contrary, consolidated the authority of the Secretary-General [8] However, during the last two years of his mandate, Kofi Annan was paralyzed and forced to toe the line.

Back to square one

After 10 years as Secretary-General, Kofi Annan continued his career in several more or less private foundations.

In December 2007, elections in Kenya degenerated into conflict. President Mwai Kibaki appeared to have defeated the candidate backed by Washington, Raila Odinga, reportedly a cousin of then-Senator Barack Obama. U.S. Senator John McCain challenged the election results and called for revolution as waves of anonymous SMS exacerbated inter-ethnic differences. Within days, riots left more than 1,000 dead and 300,000 displaced. Madeleine Albright proposed the mediation of the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights. The institute sent two mediators: former Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik and former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, both members of the Board of Administration.

As a result of that “mediation,” President Kibaki was forced to bow to U.S. wishes. He was able to stay in office, but first had to accept a constitutional reform that stripped him of his powers in favor of the Prime Minister and to agree to the choice of Odinga as Prime Minister. In his role as wise old African, Kofi Annan helped to give a veneer of legitimacy to a regime change imposed by Washington [9].

Kofi Annan currently exercises two key responsibilities. First, he chairs the Africa Progress Panel, an organization created by Tony Blair after the G8 summit held in Gleeneagles for the purpose of ensuring media coverage of the actions of the British Ministry of Cooperation (DFID). Unfortunately, like the Millennium Summit, the G8 promises were not fulfilled and the activity of the Africa Progress Panel is negligible.

He also serves as chair of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which aims to solve the food problems of the black continent through biotechnology. In fact, AGRA is a lobby funded by the Bill Gates and Rockefeller Foundations to promote the dissemination of GMO’s produced by Monsanto, DuPont, Dow, Syngenta and others. Most independent experts agree that, beyond the issue of their environmental impact, the use of non-reproductible GMO crops keeps farmers under the thumb of their suppliers and introduces a new form of human exploitation.

Kofi Annan in Syria

So what has this former high-ranking international official come to Syria for? In the first place, his appointment suggests that the current UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, whose image has been tarnished by his kowtowing to the United States and by a string of corruption scandals [10] was not up to the task, while Kofi Annan, despite his balance sheet, still enjoys a positive image.

Secondly, a mediator can succeed only to the extent that he has been selected by the parts in the conflict. But this is not the case. Kofi Annan represents the Secretary-General of the UN and his Arab League counterpart. He defends the honor and reputation of both institutions in the absence of clear political instructions.

If the appointment of Mr Annan was approved de facto by the members of the Security Council and those of the Arab League, it is because it satisfies conflicting expectations. For some, the joint special envoy is not intended to broker peace, but to clad a peace that has already been negotiated between the great powers so that everyone can stand tall. Others expect him to repeat the Kenyan script and bring about regime change without further violence.

Over the past three weeks, the action of Kofi Annan has been to present his own plan, an amended version of the one developed by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. In doing so, he has rendered the plan palatable for Washington and its allies. In addition, Mr. Annan has intentionally introduced an element of confusion by suggesting that he had convinced President al-Assad to appoint one of his vice presidents, Farouk al-Shara, to negotiate with the opposition. This is portrayed as a concession made by Syria to the Gulf Cooperation Council. In fact, Vice President al-Shara has been in charge of these negotiations for a year and the demand made by Saudi Arabia and Qatar is totally different: that President al-Assad should step down because he is an Alawite and that power be transferred to the Vice President for being a Sunni. It would thus seem that the joint special envoy is engineering a way out for those states that have attacked Syria and invented the fable of a democratic revolution crushed in blood.

However, the doublespeak of Kofi Annan, who when in Damascus was satisfied with his meeting with President al-Assad but expressed disappointed once back in Geneva, has not raised any questions about his true intentions.

April 1, 2012 Posted by | Deception | , , , , , | 2 Comments