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Somalia rejects ‘ridiculous’ UAE incentive to join Yemen war

MEMO | June 30, 2020

Somalia has rejected as “ridiculous” an offer made by the UAE for the African state to join the war in Yemen in return for financial incentives, the country’s foreign minister has revealed.

According to Somalia News, the UAE offered to reopen the Sheikh Zayed Hospital in the Somali capital Mogadishu on the condition Somalia take part in the war in Yemen, while officially claiming the Socotra archipelago as Somali territory.

The Emirati-run Sheikh Zayed Hospital offered free healthcare to Somali citizens until it was closed by the UAE in 2018, as part of a diplomatic row between Abu Dhabi and Mogadishu.

June 30, 2020 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | 1 Comment

Is the UK a rogue state? 17 British policies violating domestic or international law

By Mark Curtis • Declassified UK • February 7, 2020

UK governments routinely claim to uphold national and international law. But the reality of British policies is quite different, especially when it comes to foreign policy and so-called ‘national security’. This explainer summarises 17 long-running government policies which violate UK domestic or international law.

British foreign secretary Dominic Raab recently described the “rule of international law” as one of the “guiding lights” of UK foreign policy. By contrast, the government regularly chides states it opposes, such as Russia or Iran, as violators of international law. These governments are often consequently termed “rogue states” in the mainstream media, the supposed antithesis of how “we” operate.

The following list of 17 policies may not be exhaustive, but it suggests that the term “rogue state” is not sensationalist or misplaced when it comes to describing Britain’s own foreign and “security” policies.

These serial violations suggest that parliamentary and public oversight over executive policy-making in the UK is not fit for purpose and that new mechanisms are needed to restrain the excesses of the British state.

The Royal Air Force’s drone war

Britain’s Royal Air Force (RAF) operates a drone programme in support of the US involving a fleet of British “Reaper” drones operating since 2007. They have been used by the UK to strike targets in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria.

Four RAF bases in the UK support the US drone war. The joint UK and US spy base at Menwith Hill in Yorkshire, northern England, facilitates US drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia. US drone strikes, involving an assassination programme begun by president Barack Obama, are widely regarded as illegal under international law, breaching fundamental human rights. Up to 1,700 civilian adults and children have been killed in so-called “targeted killings”.

Amnesty International notes that British backing is “absolutely crucial to the US lethal drones programme, providing support for various US surveillance programmes, vital intelligence exchanges and in some cases direct involvement from UK personnel in identifying and tracking targets for US lethal operations, including drone strikes that may have been unlawful”.

Chagos Islands

Britain has violated international law in the case of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean since it expelled the inhabitants in the 1960s to make way for a US military base on Diego Garcia, the largest island.

Harold Wilson’s Labour government separated the islands from then British colony Mauritius in 1965 in breach of a UN resolution banning the breakup of colonies before independence. London then formed a new colonial entity, the British Indian Ocean Territory, which is now an Overseas Territory.

In 2015, a UN Tribunal ruled that the UK’s proposed “marine protected area” around the islands — shown by Wikileaks publications to be a ruse to keep the islanders from returning — was unlawful since it undermined the rights of Mauritius.

Then in February 2019, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled in an advisory opinion that Britain must end its administration of the Chagos islands “as rapidly as possible”. The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in May 2019 welcoming the ICJ ruling and “demanding that the United Kingdom unconditionally withdraw its colonial administration from the area within six months”. The UK government has rejected the calls.

Defying the UN over the Falklands

The UN’s 24-country Special Committee on Decolonisation — its principal body addressing issues concerning decolonisation — has repeatedly called on the UK government to negotiate a resolution to the dispute over the status of the Falklands. In its latest call, in June 2019, the committee approved a draft resolution “reiterating that the only way to end the special and particular colonial situation of the Falkland Islands (Malvinas) is through a peaceful and negotiated settlement of the sovereignty dispute between Argentina and the United Kingdom”.

The British government consistently rejects these demands. Last year, it stated:

“The Decolonisation Committee no longer has a relevant role to play with respect to British Overseas Territories. They all have a large measure of  self government, have chosen to retain their links with the UK, and therefore should have been delisted a long time ago.”

In 2016, the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf issued a report finding that the Falkland Islands are located in Argentina’s territorial waters.

Israel and settlement goods

Although Britain regularly condemns Israeli settlements in the occupied territories as illegal, in line with international law, it permits trade in goods produced on those settlements. It also does not keep a record of imports that come from the settlements — which include wine, olive oil and dates — into the UK.

UN Security Council resolutions require all states to “distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967”. The UK is failing to do this.

Israel’s blockade of Gaza

Israel’s blockade of Gaza, imposed in 2007 following the territory’s takeover by Hamas, is widely regarded as illegal. Senior UN officials, a UN independent panel of experts, and Amnesty International all agree that the infliction of “collective punishment” on the population of Gaza contravenes international human rights and humanitarian law.

Gaza has about 1.8 million inhabitants who remain “locked in” and denied free access to the remainder of putative Palestine (the West Bank) and the outside world. It has poverty and unemployment rates that reached nearly 75% in 2019.

Through its naval blockade, the Israeli navy restricts Palestinians’ fishing rights, fires on local fishermen and has intercepted ships delivering humanitarian aid. Britain, and all states, have an obligation “to ensure compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law” in Gaza.

However, instead of doing so, the UK regularly collaborates with the navy enforcing the blockade. In August 2019, Britain’s Royal Navy took part in the largest international naval exercise ever held by Israel, off the country’s Mediterranean shore. In November 2016 and December 2017, British warships conducted military exercises with their Israeli allies.

Exports of surveillance equipment

Declassified revealed that the UK recently exported telecommunications interception equipment or software to 13 countries, including authoritarian regimes in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and Oman. Such technology can enable security forces to monitor the private activities of groups or individuals and crack down on political opponents.

The UAE has been involved in programmes monitoring domestic activists using spyware. In 2017 and 2018, British exporters were given four licences to export telecommunications interception equipment, components or software to the UAE.

UK arms export guidelines state that the government will “not grant a licence if there is a clear risk that the items might be used for internal repression”. Reports by Amnesty International document human rights abuses in the cases of UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman, suggesting that British approval of such exports to these countries is prima facie unlawful.

Arms exports to Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has been accused by the UN and others of violating international humanitarian law and committing war crimes in its war in Yemen, which began in March 2015. The UK has licensed nearly £5-billion worth of arms to the Saudi regime during this time. In addition, the RAF is helping to maintain Saudi warplanes at key operating bases and stores and issues bombs for use in Yemen.

Following legal action brought by the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, the UK Court of Appeal ruled in June 2019 that ministers had illegally signed off on arms exports without properly assessing the risk to civilians. The court ruled that the government must reconsider the export licences in accordance with the correct legal approach.

The ruling followed a report by a cross-party House of Lords committee, published earlier in 2019, which concluded that Britain is breaking international law by selling weapons to Saudi Arabia and should suspend some export licences immediately.

Julian Assange’s arbitrary detention and torture

In the case of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange — currently held in Belmarsh maximum-security prison in London — the UK is defying repeated opinions of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention  (WGAD) and the UN special rapporteur on torture.

The latter, Nils Melzer, has called on the UK government to release Assange on the grounds that officials are contributing to his psychological torture and ill treatment. Melzer has also called for UK officials to be investigated for possible “criminal conduct” as government policy “severely undermines the credibility of [its] commitment to the prohibition of torture… as well as to the rule of law more generally”.

The WGAD — the supreme international body scrutinising this issue — has repeatedly demanded that the UK government end Assange’s “arbitrary detention”. Although the UN states that WGAD determinations are legally binding, its calls have been consistently rejected by the UK government.

Covert wars

Covert military operations to subvert foreign governments, such as Britain’s years-long operation in Syria to overthrow the Assad regime, are unlawful. As a House of Commons briefing notes, “forcible assistance to opposition forces is illegal”.

A precedent was set in the Nicaragua case in the 1980s, when US-backed covert forces (the “Contras”) sought to overthrow the Sandinista government. The International Court of Justice held that a third state may not forcibly help the opposition to overthrow a government since it breached the principles of non-intervention and prohibition on the use of force.

As Declassified has shown, the UK is currently engaged in seven covert wars, including in Syria, with minimal parliamentary oversight. Government policy is “not to comment” on the activities of its special forces “because of the security implications”. The public’s ability to scrutinise policy is also restricted since the UK’s Freedom of Information Act applies an “absolute exemption” to special forces. This is not the case for allied powers such as the US and Canada.

Torture and the refusal to hold an inquiry

In 2018 a report by parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee found that the UK had been complicit in cases of torture and other ill treatment of detainees in the so-called “war on terror”. The inquiry examined the participation of MI6 (the secret intelligence service), MI5 (the domestic security service) and Ministry of Defence (MOD) personnel in interrogating detainees held primarily by the US in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay during 2001-10.

The report found that there were 232 cases where UK personnel supplied questions or intelligence to foreign intelligence agents after they knew or suspected that a detainee was being mistreated. It also found 198 cases where UK personnel received intelligence from foreign agents obtained from detainees whom they knew or suspected to have been mistreated.

In one case, MI6 “sought and obtained authorisation from the foreign secretary” (then Jack Straw, in Tony Blair’s government) for the costs of funding a plane which was involved in rendering a suspect.

After the report was published, the government announced it was refusing to hold a judge-led, independent inquiry into the UK’s role in rendition and torture as it had previously promised to do. In 2019, human rights group Reprieve, together with Conservative and Labour MPs, instigated a legal challenge to the government over this refusal–which the High Court has agreed to hear.

The UN special rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, has formally warned the UK that its refusal to launch a judicial inquiry into torture and rendition breaches international law, specifically the UN Convention Against Torture. He has written a private “intervention” letter to the UK foreign secretary stating that the government has “a legal obligation to investigate and to prosecute”.

Melzer accuses the government of engaging in a “conscious policy” of co-operating with torture since 9/11, saying it is “impossible” the practice was not approved or at least tolerated by top officials.

UK’s secret torture policy

The MOD was revealed in 2019 to be operating a secret policy allowing ministers to approve actions which could lead to the torture of detainees. The policy, contained in an internal MOD document dated November 2018, allows ministers to approve passing information to allies even if there is a risk of torture, if “the potential benefits justify accepting the risk and legal consequences”.

This policy also provides for ministers to approve lists of individuals about whom information may be shared despite a serious risk they could face mistreatment. One leading lawyer has said that domestic and international legislation on the prohibition of torture is clear and that the MOD policy supports breaking of the law by ministers.

Amnesty for crimes committed by soldiers

There is a long history of British soldiers committing crimes during wars. In 2019 the government outlined plans to grant immunity for offences by soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland that were committed more than 10 years before.

These plans have been condemned by the UN Committee Against Torture, which has called on the government to “refrain from enacting legislation that would grant amnesty or pardon where torture is concerned. It should also ensure that all victims of such torture and ill-treatment obtain redress”.

The committee has specifically urged the UK to “establish responsibility and ensure accountability for any torture and ill-treatment committed by UK personnel in Iraq from 2003 to 2009, specifically by establishing a single, independent, public inquiry to investigate allegations of such conduct.”

The government’s proposals are also likely to breach UK obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, which obliges states to investigate breaches of the right to life or the prohibition on torture.

GCHQ’s mass surveillance

Files revealed by US whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013 show that the UK intelligence agency GCHQ had been secretly intercepting, processing and storing data concerning millions of people’s private communications, including people of no intelligence interest — in a programme named Tempora. Snowden also revealed that the British government was accessing personal communications and data collected by the US National Security Agency and other countries’ intelligence agencies.

All of this was taking place without public consent or awareness, with no basis in law and with no proper safeguards. Since these revelations, there has been a long-running legal battle over the UK’s unlawful use of these previously secret surveillance powers.

In September 2018, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that UK laws enabling mass surveillance were unlawful, violating rights to privacy and freedom of expression. The court observed that the UK’s regime for authorising bulk interception was incapable of keeping “interference” to what is “necessary in a democratic society”.

The UK’s Investigatory Powers Tribunal, the body which considers complaints against the security services, also found that UK intelligence agencies had unlawfully spied on the communications of Amnesty International and the Legal Resources Centre in South Africa.

In 2014, revelations also confirmed that GCHQ had been granted authority to secretly eavesdrop on legally privileged lawyer-client communications, and that MI5 and MI6 adopted similar policies. The guidelines appeared to permit surveillance of journalists and others deemed to work in “sensitive professions” handling confidential information.

MI5 personal data

In 2019, MI5 was found to have for years unlawfully retained innocent British people’s online location data, calls, messages and web browsing history without proper protections, according to the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office which upholds British privacy protections. MI5 had also failed to give senior judges accurate information about repeated breaches of its duty to delete bulk surveillance data, and was criticised for mishandling sensitive legally privileged material.

The commissioner concluded that the way MI5 was holding and handling people’s data was “undoubtedly unlawful”. Warrants for MI5’s bulk surveillance were issued by senior judges on the understanding that the agency’s legal data handling obligations were being met — when they were not.

“MI5 have been holding on to people’s data—ordinary people’s data, your data, my data — illegally for many years,” said Megan Goulding, a lawyer for rights organisation Liberty, which brought the case. “Not only that, they’ve been trying to keep their really serious errors secret — secret from the security services watchdog, who’s supposed to know about them, secret from the Home Office, secret from the prime minister and secret from the public.”

Intelligence agencies committing criminal offences

MI5 has been operating under a secret policy that allows its agents to commit serious crimes during counter-terrorism operations in the UK, according to lawyers for human rights organisations brin

ging a case to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal.

The policy, referred to as the “third direction”, allows MI5 officers to permit the people they have recruited as agents to commit crimes in order to secure access to information that could be used to prevent other offences being committed. The crimes potentially include murder, kidnap and torture and have operated for decades. MI5 officers are, meanwhile, immune from prosecution.

A lawyer for the human rights organisations argues that the issues raised by the case are “not hypothetical”, submitting that “in the past, authorisation of agent participation in criminality appears to have led to grave breaches of fundamental rights”. He points to the 1989 murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane, an attack carried out by loyalist paramilitaries, including some agents working for the British state.

The ‘James Bond clause’

British intelligence officers can be authorised to commit crimes outside the UK. Section 7 of the 1994 Intelligence Services Act vacates UK criminal and civil law as long as a senior government minister has signed a written authorisation that committing a criminal act overseas is permissible. This is sometimes known as the “James Bond clause”.

British spies were reportedly given authority to break the law overseas on 13 occasions in 2014 under this clause. GCHQ was given five authorisations “removing liability for activities including those associated with certain types of intelligence gathering and interference with computers, mobile phones and other types of electronic equipment”. MI6, meanwhile, was given eight such authorisations in 2014.

Underage soldiers

Britain is the only country in Europe and Nato to allow direct enlistment into the army at the age of 16. One in four UK army recruits is now under the age of 18. According to the editors of the British Medical Journal, “there is no justification for this state policy, which is harmful to teen health and should be stopped”. Child recruits are more likely than adult recruits to end up in frontline combat, they add.

It was revealed in 2019 that the UK continued to send child soldiers to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan despite pledging to end the practice. The UK says it does not send under-18s to warzones, as required by the UN Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, known as the “child soldiers treaty”.

The UK, however, deployed five 17-year-olds to Iraq or Afghanistan between 2007 and 2010: it claims to have done so mistakenly. Previous to this, a minister admitted that teenagers had also erroneously been sent into battle between 2003 and 2005, insisting it would not happen again.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern at the UK’s recruitment policy in 2008 and 2016, and recommended that the government “raise the minimum age for recruitment into the armed forces to 18 years in order to promote the protection of children through an overall higher legal standard”. Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights, the children’s commissioners for the four jurisdictions of the UK, along with children’s rights organisations, all support this call. DM

Mark Curtis is editor of Declassified UK and tweets at @markcurtis30

February 9, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘We did not expect the world to be silent’: US continuing to kill civilians with impunity

By Darius Shahtahmasebi | RT | April 4, 2019

The Trump administration, which made promises to rein in Washington’s unnecessary wars, has not only expanded the US’ covert and lethal drone program, but has taken the covering up of its civilian death toll to a whole new level.

Like most of the battlefields opened more widely under the Obama administration, Donald Trump ramped up airstrikes against the infamous Al-Shabaab terrorist group in Somalia approximately two years ago. And, like most drone wars expanded under Obama and dramatically widened under Trump, the details of this covert assault are continuously swept under the rug, particularly when it comes to civilian casualties.

The Pentagon has openly said that its airstrikes in Somalia have killed zero civilians.

Yet, recently, an Amnesty International investigation into just five of the strikes carried out since March 2017 by both manned and unmanned reaper aircraft found that the strikes resulted in at least 14 civilian deaths, with instances of eight civilian injuries as well. In total, the US has carried out more than 100 strikes in Somalia since 2017.

Amnesty has made it quite clear that the attacks have violated international humanitarian law, and may amount to war crimes (remember, they have only assessed five out of over 100 so far). Weirdly enough, the New York Times piece introducing this report failed to mention that last point, even when Amnesty mentioned it very early on in its release (though, that being said, the Times did slip a half-hearted attempt at adopting a moral and legal stance near the end of the article, noting that “critics have claimed” drone warfare “could also result in war crimes.”)

Not to worry though, when approached for comment by Amnesty International, the US Africa Command (AFRICOM) repeated the claim that no civilians have died in American operations in Somalia. So, that’s that then.

The US military truly is an amazing, benevolent force for good in the world, isn’t it? It managed to ramp up its airstrikes in Somalia after the US president signed an executive order in March 2017 declaring southern Somalia an “area of active hostilities.” It conducted more airstrikes in Somalia than in Libya and Yemen combined. Just in the first few months of 2019 alone, it has already carried out 24 strikes on Somali territory, compared to only 14 in the whole of 2016, prior to Trump taking office. In 2018, US airstrikes killed 326 people. And yet, not a single civilian has died or been injured. Remarkable.

One such strike on the hamlet of Farah Waeys in Somalia allegedly killed members “or affiliates of Al-Shabaab,” according to AFRICOM. Those affiliates, however, were actually two civilian men, as well as five women and children who were injured. Another strike killed three local farmers in the early hours of a morning in November 2017, who were resting after working all night digging canals. AFRICOM even admitted it carried an airstrike in the region on that same morning.

If we thought that it was hard to monitor US-led covert wars in the Middle East and Africa before, it seems to have gotten even worse under Trump. Just recently, Trump allowed the CIA to keep secret how many civilians are killed in its airstrikes outside of war zones. As it transpires, a law passed by Congress making it compulsory for the Pentagon to publicly report civilians killed in its operations applies to the Pentagon only, and not the CIA drone program.

The law is pointless anyway, when one considers how the Pentagon assesses whether civilians have been killed or not. Donald Trump’s relaxation of the rules surrounding airstrikes are in and of themselves a pathway to a war crime tribunal. According to a retired US brigadier general who was consulted by Amnesty, Trump’s executive order widened the list of potential targets to include adult males living in villages sympathetic to Al-Shabaab who are located within range of known fighters. This was already a known tactic under the peace-prize-winning president Barack Obama, who counted all “military-age males” in the vicinity of a target as militants.

In other words, we cannot trust the Pentagon to be forthcoming with these statistics even when they are compelled to by law. Consider this gate-keeping paragraph by the New York Times, which for all of its empire-serving rhetoric, cannot resist but tell the truth:

“Yet, even under the previous rules, no matter how precise the weapons, how careful the planners and how skilled the fighters, mistakes, faulty intelligence, even calculated decisions often led to civilians being killed. The official data ranges from none to maddeningly vague, and the safeguards to mitigate civilian deaths are insufficient.”

Furthermore, defence officials have said under anonymity that the CIA and the Pentagon’s efforts in places like Somalia are heavily intertwined anyway, often “piggybacking” off American military posts or US-backed militias. The potential for the US to lie to us through its teeth due to this arrangement is astounding, to say the least.

As far back as 2015, four former US Air Force servicemen wrote an open letter to Barack Obama warning about the effects of drone warfare, calling it a “recruitment tool” for groups like ISIS. They advanced the crazy notion that the killing of innocent civilians has acted as one of the most “devastating driving forces for terrorism and destabilization around the world.”

At a press briefing in New York, the servicemen also revealed that drone operators would refer to children as “fun-size terrorists,” and justify their killing with the phrase that they were “cutting the grass before it grows too long.” Some drone operators even flew their missions while impaired by drug and alcohol abuse.

“We kill four and create 10 [militants],” one serviceman said.

In the past, Somali officials also warned that the United States was being duped by rival clans who fed the US military bad intelligence while conducting its operations. When the US boasts, for example, that single bombardments have killed over 150 Al-Shabaab fighters, you can be pretty sure that we are not getting the full picture.

Despite all this, you can always count on the corporate media to somehow put a rotation on the whole issue that amazingly shifts the blame to other parties. Take, for example, this gem, again, from the New York Times:

“A lack of transparency and accountability for civilian deaths helps enemies spin false narratives, makes it harder for allies to defend American actions and sets a bad example for other countries that are rapidly adding drones to their arsenals.”

The American war machine killing civilians helps Washington’s enemies “spin false narratives?” If anything, I think America’s insistence on blowing up Muslim people, left right and center, with zero accountability or compensation of any kind, makes it very easy for its so-called enemies to spin narratives that are one hundred percent grounded in the truth. Why would they even need to lie?

And where will all this take us? As astutely noted by Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU National Security Project:

“The Trump era has made clear just how vulnerable policy limits are and how dangerous it is when a president claims legal authority to kill in secret. In 2017, Trump lifted a key policy constraint limiting lethal strikes to ‘high-level militants’ who pose ‘a continuing and imminent threat to Americans.’ He also reportedly declared that parts of Yemen and Somalia were exempt from the meager remaining limits. The result? The United States is killing more low-level suspects, regardless of whether the government has reason to believe they pose a threat to the United States.”

The US is not even at war with Somalia, yet somehow there are at least 500 US troops stationed there, with a further 6,500 spread out over the African continent. The US has even hired private contractors to supply proxy forces in the country. Even the Guardian reported at the end of last year that the ramping up of US airstrikes were not really changing the situation on the ground in Somalia, as the terrorist group continued to strengthen its grip on the country.

As for the innocent civilians killed by American tax dollars, we would do well to bear these “statistics” (they’re people, after all) in mind the next time a horrific attack such as the one that took place in Christchurch, New Zealand, in mid-March this year occurs. We should bear in mind that those world leaders who expressed their outrage and support to New Zealand, at the end of the day, continue to be the leading perpetrators of anti-Muslim violence behind closed doors and under loosely swept rugs.

As one farmer from the Darusalaam village, Somalia told Amnesty: “We did not expect the world to be silent.”

April 5, 2019 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

US War Strategists: Military Defeats and Political Success

By James Petras • Unz Review • September 15, 2018

Introduction

In a previous article (US: The Century of Lost Wars) I recorded the repeated US military defeats over the past two decades. In this discussion I will describe the role of military strategists who bear responsibility for the US defeats, but also for Israeli political successes.

The key to this apparent contradiction is to uncover how and why the destruction of Israeli adversaries prolonged costly US military invasions.

The two outcomes are inter-related. The same US military strategists whose policies lead to failed US wars in the Middle East facilitated and augmented the power of Israel.

US war strategists’ operations reflect ‘dual loyalties’. On the one-hand they receive their elite education and high positions in the US, while their political loyalties to Tel Aviv express their Israel First strategic decisions.

Our hypothesis is that dual loyalist strategists have fabricated threats, identified adversaries and committed hundreds of thousands of US soldiers to losing wars based on calculations that effectively increase Israeli power and influence in the Middle East.

We will proceed by identifying the war strategists and their policies and conclude by proposing an alternative framework for re-thinking the relationship between dual citizens and military strategy.

The ‘Best and the Brightest’: The Blind Ally of Military Defeats

There is an apparent contradiction between the high academic achievements of elite military strategists and their abominable record in pursuing military conflicts.

Most, if not all, policy makers who led the US in prolonged wars against Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Syria were Israel-firsters, either Zionists or Israeli ‘fellow travelers’.

In each of these wars, the Israel firster war strategists, (1) identified the enemy, (2) exaggerated the threat to the US and (3) grossly inflated the military capacity of the targeted country. They started with Iraq and Afghanistan and then proceeded to the other nations, all opponents of Israel.

By ‘coincidence’ all countries supported the Palestinians’ rights of self-determination and opposed Israeli annexation and colonization of Arab lands.

Driven by their loyalty to Israel’s ‘expansionist goals’, the military strategists ignored the ‘real world’ political and economic costs to the US people and state. Professional and academic credentials, nepotism and tribal loyalties, each contributed to the Israel firsters advance to securing strategic decision-making positions and elite advisory posts in the Pentagon, State Department, Treasury and White House.

Their policies led to an unending trillion-dollar war in Afghanistan; losing wars in Libya, Iraq and Syria; and costly economic sanctions against Iran.

The main beneficiary was Israel which confronted less political and military opposition; zero cost in lives and money; and substantial gains in territory.

Why did the Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Chicago, Johns Hopkins’ cum laude graduates repeatedly produce the worst possible military outcomes?

In part because the US acted as an instrument of another power (Israel). Moreover, the Israel firsters never were obliged to reflect in self-criticism nor to admit their failures and rectify their disastrous strategies..

Their refusal to assume their responsibilities resulted from several causes. Their criteria for success was based on whether their policies advanced Israeli goals, not US interests.

Moreover, while their decisions were objectionable to US citizens they were supported by the 52 Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organization including the powerful Zionist lobby, AIPAC, which dictated Middle East policy to both political parties and the US Congress.

Ordinarily, military strategists whose policies lead to repeated political disasters are denounced, fired or even investigated for treason. In our experience nothing of the sort happened.

The best and the brightest rotated between six-digit jobs in Washington to seven-digit positions on Wall Street, or secured positions in lucrative law firms in Washington and New York (many with offices in Israel) or were appointed to prestigious academic posts in Ivy League universities.

What Should be Done?

There are countervailing measures which can lessen the impact of the strategic policies of the Israel Firsters. Academic Israel firsters should be encouraged to remain in Academia; rather than serve Israel in the State.

If they remain in the Ivory Tower they will inflict less destructive policies on American citizens and the state.

Secondly, since the vast-majority of Israel firsters are more likely to be arm chair war monger, who have not risked their lives in any of the wars that they promote, obligatory recruitment into combat zones would dampen their ardor for wars.

Thirdly, as matters stand, since many more Israel firsters choose to serve in the so-called Israeli Defense (sic) Force (IDF) they should reimburse US taxpayers for their free ride to education, health and welfare .

Fourthly, since most Israel firsters who volunteer to join the IDF prefer shooting unarmed Palestinian protesters, medics, journalists and kite flying kids they should be drafted into the US Army to serve in Afghanistan and face armed Taliban fighters surrounding Kabul, an experience which might knock a bit of realism in their dreams of converting the Middle East into an Israeli fiefdom.

Many national loyalties are forged by shared lives with families and friends of US soldiers who endure endless wars. Israel firsters dispatched to the war front would receive existential experiences that the Harvard, Princeton and Yale military strategists who make wars for Israel failed to understand.

Obligatory courses on the genocide of millions of Palestinian, Iraqi, Syrian, and Libyan people would enrich Israel firsters understanding of “holocausts’ in diverse ethno-religious settings.

Face to face encounters in life threatening military situations, where superior arms do not prevail, would deflate the hubris, arrogance and superiority complexes which fuel the tribal loyalties of Israel firsters.

In conclusion we offer modest suggestions for educated and cultured scientists, doctors, artists and entrepreneurs:

1/ Convert your skills to raising a new generation which will defend democratic values and social solidarity and eschew wars, persecution and phony claims of anti-semitism against critics of an ethnically exclusionary state.

2/ Forsake exclusive control of the mass media which glorifies Israeli war crimes and denigrates critics as ‘anti’ Semites for speaking truth to power.

Let’s join together to liberate America from military entanglements that privilege Israel while thirty million Us workers lack health coverage and forty percent of upstate New York children live in poverty.

Yes, there is an honorable place for everyone who joins in solidarity with the victims of Israeli First war strategists.

September 16, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The US: The Century of Lost Wars

By James Petras | Global Research | September 12, 2018

Introduction

Despite having the biggest military budget in the world, five times larger than the next six countries, the largest number of military bases – over 180 – in the world and the most expensive military industrial complex, the US has failed to win a single war in the 21st century.

In this paper we will enumerate the wars and proceed to analyze why, despite the powerful material basis for wars, it has led to failures.

The Lost Wars

The US has been engaged in multiple wars and coups since the beginning of the 21st century. These include Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Palestine, Venezuela and the Ukraine. Besides Washington’s secret intelligence agencies have financed five surrogate terrorist groups in Pakistan, China, Russia, Serbia and Nicaragua.

The US has invaded countries, declared victories and subsequently faced resistance and prolonged warfare which required a large US military presence to merely protect garrison outposts.

The US has suffered hundreds of thousands of casualties – dead, maimed and deranged soldiers. The more the Pentagon spends, the greater the losses and subsequent retreats.

The more numerous the vassal regimes, the greater the corruption and incompetence flourishes.

Every regime subject to US tutelage has failed to accomplish the objectives designed by its US military advisers.

The more spent on recruiting mercenary armies the greater the rate of defection and the transfer of arms to US adversaries.

Success in Starting Wars and Failures in Finishing Them

The US invaded Afghanistan, captured the capital (Kabul) defeated the standing army … and then spent the next two decades engaged in losing irregular warfare.

The initial victories laid the groundwork for future defeats. Bombings drove millions of peasants and farmers, shopkeepers and artisans into the local militia. The invaders were defeated by the forces of nationalism and religion linked to families and communities. The indigenous insurgents overcame arms and dollars in many of the villages, towns and provinces.

Similar outcomes were repeated in Iraq and Libya. The US invaded, defeated the standing armies, occupied the capital and imposed its clients—- which set the terrain for long-term, large-scale warfare by local insurgent armies.

The more frequent the western bombings, the greater the opposition forcing the retreat of the proxy army.

Somalia has been bombed frequently. Special Forces have recruited, trained, and armed the local puppet soldiers, sustained by mercenary African armies but they have remained holed up in the capital city, Mogadishu, surrounded and attacked by poorly armed but highly motivated and disciplined Islamic insurgents.

Syria is targeted by a US financed and armed mercenary army. In the beginning they advanced, uprooted millions, destroyed cities and homes and seized territory. All of which impressed their US – EU warlords. Once the Syrian army united the populace, with their Russian, Lebanese (Hezbollah) and Iranian allies, Damascus routed the mercenaries.

After the better part of a decade the separatist Kurds, alongside the Islamic terrorists and other western surrogates retreated, and made a last stand along the northern borders–the remaining bastions of Western surrogates.

The Ukraine coup of 2014 was financed and directed by the US and EU. They seized the capital (Kiev) but failed to conquer the Eastern Ukraine and Crimea. Corruption among the US ruling kleptocrats devastated the country – over three million fled abroad to Poland, Russia and elsewhere in search of a livelihood. The war continues, the corrupt US clients are discredited and will suffer electoral defeat unless they rig the vote.

Surrogate uprisings in Venezuela and Nicaragua were bankrolled by the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED). They ruined economies but lost the street wars.

Conclusion

Wars are not won by arms alone. In fact, heavy bombing and extended military occupations ensure prolonged popular resistance, ultimate retreats and defeats.

The US major and minor wars of the 21st century have failed to incorporate targeted countries into the empire.

Imperial occupations are not military victories. They merely change the nature of the war, the protagonists of resistance, the scope and depth of the national struggle.

The US has been successful in defeating standing armies as was the case in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, and the Ukraine. However, the conquest was limited in time and space. New armed resistance movements led by former officers, religious activists and grass roots activists took charge…

The imperial wars slaughtered millions, savaged traditional family, workplace and neighborhood relations and set in motion a new constellation of anti-imperialist leaders and militia fighters.

The imperial forces beheaded established leaders and decimated their followers. They raided and pillaged ancient treasures. The resistance followed by recruiting thousands of uprooted volunteers who served as human bombs, challenging missiles and drones.

The US imperial forces lack the ties to the occupied land and people. They are ‘aliens’ serving time; they seek to survive, secure promotions and exit with a bonus and an honorable discharge.

In contrast, the resistance fighters are there for the duration. As they advance, they target and demolish the imperial surrogates and mercenaries. They expose the corrupt client rulers who deny the subject people the elementary conditions of existence – employment, potable water, electricity etc.

The imperial vassals are not present at weddings, sacred holidays or funerals, unlike the resistance fighters. The presence of the latter signals a pledge of loyalty unto death. The resistance circulates freely in cities, towns and villages with the protection of the local people; and by night they rule enemy terrain, under cover of their own people, who share intelligence and logistics.

Inspiration, solidarity and light arms are more than a match for the drones, missiles and helicopter gunships.

Even the mercenary soldiers, trained by the Special Forces, defect from and betray their imperial masters. Temporary imperial advances serve only to allow the resistance forces to regroup and counter-attack. They view surrender as a betrayal of their traditional way of life, submission to the boot of western occupation forces and their corrupt officials.

Afghanistan is a prime example of an imperial ‘lost war’. After two decades of warfare and one trillion dollars in military spending, tens of thousands of casualties, the Taliban controls most of the countryside and towns; enters and takes over provincial capitals and bombs Kabul. They will take full control the day after the US departs.

The US military defeats are products of a fatal flaw: imperial planners cannot successfully replace indigenous people with colonial rulers and their local look-alikes.

Wars are not won by high tech weapons directed by absentee officials divorced from the people: they do not share their sense of peace and justice.

Exploited people informed by a spirit of communal resistance and self-sacrifice have demonstrated greater cohesion than rotating soldiers eager to return home and mercenary soldiers with dollar signs in their eyes.

The lessons of lost wars have not been learned by those who preach the power of the military–industrial complex, which makes, sells and profits from weapons but lack the mass of humanity with lesser arms but with great conviction who have demonstrated their capacity to defeat imperial armies.

The Stars and Stripes fly in Washington but remain folded in Embassy offices in Kabul, Tripoli, Damascus and in other lost battlegrounds.

September 12, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

As US Forces Struggle to Hold Territory in Somalia, Peacekeepers Continue Exodus

Sputnik – March 3, 2018

A US senator has revealed that Washington is struggling with its mission to break militant group al-Shabab’s hold on Somalia.

Some 500 US troops are working with the Somali military and other African partners to eradicate al-Shabab from their strongholds in Somalia. “Our doctrine is…to disrupt, clear, hold. We’re finding it difficult to hold,” Jack Reed, top ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services committee, told Defense One in a story published Friday. “We have specialized units who are very good at disrupting al-Shabab together with our special operators, but we’re certainly not at the ‘clear and hold phase,’ we’re at the phase of disrupting al-Shabab, keeping them off balance.”

A quarter-century since 18 US service members died after a Black Hawk helicopter crashed in Mogadishu, long-term stability in Somalia seems as distant a hope as it did then, Reed said. The US pulled its troops from the humanitarian mission launched in the country in 1992 shortly after the deadly 1993 incident, and only returned officially in 2013.

But today, despite a US presence that was substantially boosted in 2017, when the number of troops were doubled to the Pentagon’s current declared 500 and commanders were given more freedom to call in airstrikes, the Somali government is struggling to hold territory from what AFRICOM estimates as 3,000 to 6,000 al-Shabab fighters and a few hundred Daesh soldiers.

US troops are officially in Somalia to provide direct assistance to local armed forces, through train and equip and advise and assist missions. But US airstrikes, which have grown much more numerous with US President Donald Trump’s loosening of restrictions, have clear and deadly consequences, most recently on February 26, when a US strike killed two al-Shabab militants and wounded one, according to AFRICOM.

But it’s not enough. “In terms of building a stable entity, a country that can take care of its own forces, that’s a long way off,” Reed told Defense One. Al-Shabab still executes suicide and other attacks daily, and faces little resistance outside the capital, where Reed said the federal government influence is nearly nil.

And US partners in the region are growing tired. The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has “pulled back a bit, they’re more located on forward-operating-bases, they’re not going out a lot,” Reed said, having been burned by a series of fatal encounters with militants. AMISOM is also withdrawing troops with the aim of handing over all responsibility to Somalia’s army by 2020 — though the AMISOM heads of state are unhappy about that. The leaders of East African nations contributing some 20,000 troops to the AMISOM peacekeeping mission in Somalia warned the UN that the planned drawdown would “reverse gains.”

The heads of state of Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti and Ethiopia issued a statement from their Friday meeting in Kampala with Somali President Mohammed Abdullahi Mohamed that the time frames and troop levels envisioned by the UN Security Council’s drawdown resolution were “not realistic and would lead to a reversal of the gains made by AMISOM,” the Independent reported.

Some 1,000 troops were withdrawn last year, and 1,000 more are scheduled to leave the country by October, according to the Independent. Meanwhile, three Burundian troops were the most recent to lose their lives when they were ambushed by al-Shabaab Friday.

If the drawdown continues as planned, the US will not fill the void, Reed said.

“We train some specialized units, but I think the notion of going in, like what was done in Afghanistan, to try to train a national army that will fully replace — I don’t think that’s on the table,” he said. “That has to be done, but maybe it could be done by somebody else, maybe we could participate in doing it, but taking that on as we did in Afghanistan or as we did in Iraq?”

March 4, 2018 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment

US drone strikes double in Somalia, triple in Yemen under Trump administration: Report

Press TV – December 21, 2017

There has been a sharp rise in the number of US drone strikes in Yemen and Somalia since US President Donald Trump took office, says a report.

In March, Trump gave the US military authority to carry out airstrikes without notifying the government in regions designated as areas with “active hostilities.”

“In Yemen, 30 strikes hit within a month of the declaration being reported – nearly as many as the whole of 2016. Most of the 125 strikes in 2017 hit in central Yemen, where the US military’s Central Command vigorously pursued fighters from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP),” said the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

Yemen has come under regular US drone strikes, with Washington claiming to be targeting al-Qaeda militants while local sources say civilians have been the main victims.

The London-based NGO noted that the number of strikes doubled in Somalia and tripled in Yemen since Trump began his term in January 2017.

“In Somalia, the Obama administration had officially designated the al-Shabab group as an al-Qaeda affiliate at the end of November 2016, essentially widening who could be targeted. But there was no increase in strikes until July 2017, with all but two of this year’s 32 strikes carried out since then,” it added.

The Pentagon has been carrying out airstrikes and ground raids in Somalia for a decade, initially using helicopters and AC-130 gunships.

In June 2011, American forces began using drones to carry out the strikes, in a mission which has so far failed to uproot militancy in the country.

December 21, 2017 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Al-Shabaab is Not Mining Uranium in Somalia to Sell to Iran

By Cindy Vestergaard | The Fact of the Matter* | September 8, 2017

The Common Misconception

Militants are strip mining uranium deposits in Somalia to sell to Iran.

Fox News: “Al Qaeda affiliate mining uranium to send to Iran, Somali official warns US ambassador.”
VOA: “Somalia Seeks US Help, Says Militants Plot to Supply Uranium to Iran… the letter might be intended to draw additional military support from Washington more than anything else.”

The Fact of the Matter

A letter sent by Somalia’s Foreign Minister Yusuf Garaad to the U.S. Ambassador of Somalia, Stephen Schwartz, on August 11 overstates the risk of nuclear proliferation as an attempt to bring the United States into what is a decades-long protracted, factional conflict further complicated by high food insecurity, terrorism and no functioning central government.

Additional Background

There are no operating uranium mines in Somalia, nor any plans to construct one. The country’s known reserves are small and highly expensive to extract[1] with data largely based on geological mapping efforts done in the 1960s and 1970s. Today, mining activities in Somalia are described as small-scale and artisanal, mainly gemstones and salt production in Somaliland,[2] a self-declared independent (but not internationally recognized) region of Somalia.

Any development of the minerals sector is complicated by Somalia’s grim security environment. Twenty-six years of war, famine, foreign intervention, and terrorism have left Somalia’s 12 million inhabitants hungry, acutely malnourished, and displaced with most of the population (73%) living on less than US$2 per day. Mogadishu and other towns are now under government control, but the situation is far too divided and violent for democratic elections — the last were held in 1969. Somalia is Africa’s most failed state[3] and has been called “the worst place in the world.”[4]

The letter’s claim that Al-Shabaab, an Islamist militant group allied to al-Qaeda, is “strip mining triuranium octoxide” from “captured critical surface exposed uranium deposits in the Galmudug region” would suppose first that Al-Shabaab has an interest in excavating the land for uranium and secondly has the large industrial equipment, dump trucks, solvents and know-how to break and crush ore then extract and separate out uranium, and process it into a concentrate form for transport. No extremist group is known to have the resources for a mining operation, even if taking over an-already operational mine, nor would such an operation go unnoticed by intelligence agencies.

Lastly, the letter’s claim that Iran is the destination is a gross distortion even if al-Shabaab had the ability to mine uranium. The United Nations Security Council would know if uranium concentrates were being transferred to Iran. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) reached by Iran and six other powers (the United States, China, France, Germany, Russia, United Kingdom) plus the European Union in July 2015 monitors all transfers, trade and/or domestic production of uranium ore concentrates. Moreover, if Iran wanted to buy uranium it can do so openly through a ‘procurement channel’ established by the JCPOA and endorsed by United Nations Security Council resolution 2231 (2015) for States wanting to transfer nuclear or dual-use goods, technology or related services to Iran. All such activities are to be approved by the Security Council, including any acquisitions by Iran of an interest in a commercial activity in another State involving uranium mining or production of nuclear materials.

If the argument has an oddly familiar ring, it is because uranium — or rather the fear of it — was a key part of the justification by the George W. Bush Administration (and by U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair) for invading Iraq in 2003. The claim was discredited and eventually retracted by the White House four months after the United States had begun military operations in Baghdad.

[1] Uranium recoverable at a cost less than USD 260/kgU. See: OECD-IAEA Red Book, : http://www.oecd-nea.org/ndd/pubs/2016/7301-uranium-2016.pdf

[2] https://minerals.usgs.gov/minerals/pubs/country/2011/myb3-2011-so.pdf

[3] Somalia is Africa’s “most failed state” The Economist, (https://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21706522-twenty-five-years-chaos-horn-africa-most-failed-state)

[4] “The Worst Place in the World: See What Life is Like in Somalia,” Business Insider, http://www.businessinsider.com/somalia-is-the-most-failed-state-on-earth-2013-7?r=US&IR=T&IR=T


Cindy Vestergaard is a Senior Associate with the Nuclear Safeguards program at the Stimson Center.

*The Fact of the Matter is an ongoing series that highlights — and corrects — common misconceptions in conventional wisdom. Contributions to this series are from experts at the nonpartisan Stimson Center.

September 12, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , | Leave a comment

Ten civilians killed in US-backed raid in Somalia: Official

Press TV – August 25, 2017

Ten civilians have been killed in a US-backed raid on a farm in southern Somalia, according to the deputy governor of Lower Shabelle region.

The raid on Barire village early Friday led to the deaths of three children aged 8 to 10 and a woman among others, Ali Nur Mohamed told reporters in the capital, Mogadishu.

“These local farmers were attacked by foreign troops while looking after their crops,” Mohamed said. “The troops could have arrested them because they were unarmed but instead shot them one by one mercilessly.”

Somalia’s information ministry, which initially said members of al-Qaeda-linked extremist group al-Shabab were among the dead, confirmed there were “civilian casualties” too.

The US Africa Command issued a statement Friday, confirming it had supported an operation against al-Shabab militants.

“We are aware of the civilian casualty allegations near Barire, Somalia. We take any allegations of civilian casualties seriously, and per standard, we are conducting an assessment into the situation to determine the facts on the ground,” said the statement.

This is a clear indication of growing US military involvement in the Horn of Africa nation after President Donald Trump ordered that operations against the extremist group be expanded, approving more aggressive airstrikes in the country.

Somalia has been the scene of deadly clashes between government forces and al-Shabab militants since 2006.

The Takfiri militant group was forced out of the capital by African Union troops in 2011 but still controls parts of the countryside and carries out attacks against government, military and civilian targets seemingly at will in Mogadishu and regional towns.

The extremist group is just one of the challenges facing the new Somali government, which is still struggling to expand its authority beyond the capital and other selected areas.

August 25, 2017 Posted by | War Crimes | , , | 1 Comment

Made in the West: New era of global famine thanks to war and chaos

By Dan Glazebrook | RT | July 16, 2017

The famines threatening many parts of the world today have one thing in common: Western aggression and destabilization.

In February of this year, the world’s first famine in six years was officially declared in South Sudan. A month later, the UN’s humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien warned the Security Council that three other countries – Yemen, Somalia, and Nigeria – also stood on the brink of famine, with 20 million at risk of starving to death within months.

The world, he said, was now “facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the United Nations.” Unless $4.4billion in emergency funds was raised by the end of March, warned UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, 20 million would likely starve to death. When the deadline was reached, he had received less than a tenth of that, a paltry $423 million.

The amount raised has increased since then but stands at little above one-third of the target. It is almost certain not to be met, with donations dropping sharply since mid-May.

For context, the New York Times helpfully pointed out that $4.4 billion is almost the same amount Britain has made selling weapons to Saudi Arabia in the past two years – most of which have been used against the famine-stricken Yemenis, and less than 10 percent of the $54 billion in additional spending Donald Trump pledged for the US military.

Yemen was in the news again this week, twice. First the announcement by the Red Cross that cholera cases in Yemen have now reached 300,000. Then came the ruling by Britain’s High Court – choosing to believe private government assurances over volumes of first-hand eyewitness accounts – that the UK government’s arming of the vicious Saudi war against the Yemeni people is perfectly above board. These two declarations are not unrelated. For it is precisely Britain’s proxy war against Yemen that has led to the medieval levels of famine and disease now sweeping the country.

In October 2015, the head of the International Red Cross wrote that “Yemen after five months looks Syria after five years.” Today, according to Save the Children, one Yemeni child is infected with cholera every 35 seconds. This epidemic comes hot on the heels of a dengue fever outbreak, which the World Health Organization struggled to control due to the “near collapse of the health system,” and “disruption of water supplies” resulting from the Western-supplied bombing campaign. Hospitals have regularly been bombed. Following Philip Hammond’s justification of bombing raids on three Yemeni hospitals in as many months, the MSF warned that targeting hospitals was now becoming the “new normal.”

The bombing of hospitals and grain distribution centers, however, is just part of the story of the West’s genocide against the Yemeni people. Yemen is dependent on imports for more than 80 percent of its fuel, food, and medicine, and 70 percent of these imports come through the Huydadeh port. This port was bombed in August 2015 by the Saudi-led coalition and has been blockaded ever since, directly creating the current situation in which 21 million suffer food shortages, including seven million facing famine. As the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and international sanctions has noted, this blockade is “one of the main causes of the humanitarian catastrophe,” helping to lead to what he called “this man-made famine.” Needless to say, this blockade – along with every aspect of the Saudi genocide in the Yemen – is fully supported by the US and Britain.

Yemen is not the only place where Western policy is leading to famine.

This week marks the sixth anniversary of the independence of South Sudan. For the second year in a row, the planned celebrations have been canceled because, in the midst of starvation and civil war, there is nothing to celebrate.

The country’s descent into famine was officially announced on 20th February this year, with 100,000 starving and a further one million on the brink of starvation. The established criteria for a famine are that 20 percent of a population must be suffering “extreme food shortages,” 30 percent suffering acute malnutrition, and at least one per 5,000 dying each day. While those criteria are no longer being met; acute hunger has now reached six million, up from five million in February – over half the population. As in Yemen, this is a crisis of biblical proportions. As in Yemen, it is man-made. And, as in Yemen, it is the thoroughly predictable outcome of Western militarism.The US and Britain were instrumental in the partition of Sudan in 2011, and it is precisely this partition which has bequeathed the country’s current tragedy. Just as in Libya, in the same year, a loose coalition of rebels with no unified program was effectively placed in power by Western largesse. And just as in Libya, the inevitable collapse of this coalition has brought total devastation to the country.

The Southern People’s Liberation Movement was formed by rebel army colonel John Garang in 1983, and in the 1990s, under Clinton, the US began pouring millions of dollars into the insurgent movement. Although formally an uprising against the government in Khartoum, it has often relied on an appeal to ethnic chauvanism to galvanize support. According to former national committee member Dr. Peter Nyaba, for example, the movement’s very first mobilization “that took more than ten thousand Bor youth to SPLA training camps in 1983 was not for the national agenda of liberation but to settle local scores with their neighbors, the Murles or the Nuers.” Similarly, Riek Machar’s faction of the SPLM, based mainly within the Nuer community, conducted a massacre of thousands of Dinka civilians in 1991. Dr. Nyaba argues that political training was neglected in favor of, often very brutal, military training, leading to often horrific excesses against the population under their control. After liberating a particular area, said Nyaba, the movement should have instituted “democratic reforms: a popular justice system, a new system of education, health and veterinary services.” Such a move, he says, “would have given the SPLM the opportunity to prove itself to the people and the world and, therefore, to build a solid popular power base making the SPLM/A the authentic representative of the people…the ‘New Sudan’ would have been born in the physical and objective reality of the people, allowing the SPLM/A to acquire political sovereignty and diplomatic recognition.” These, indeed, are the normal steps taken by genuinely successful revolutionary movements the world over. But this is not what happened. Rather, says Nyaba, the SPLM “denigrated into an agent of plunder, pillage and destructive conquest.” It was at precisely this point that the US began funding the movement, with the initial $20 million provided by Clinton soon expanding to $100 million per year under Bush’s satirically-named “Sudan Peace Act” of 2002.

Just as in Libya, the impact of such US largesse has been to enable insurgent groups to achieve their aims without providing the visionary leadership or mass organizational skills necessary to galvanize genuine mass support. Put simply; US support has rendered mass support unnecessary. Genuine revolutions – that is, revolutions attained primarily through the efforts of the masses themselves, rather than through pressure applied by external patrons – can only succeed with a visionary program capable of winning the total commitment of the masses. In South Sudan, the SPLM, thanks to US support, were able to come to power without this. The long-term impact of this lack of popular, inspirational leadership has been an ideological vacuum into which have poured power struggles over patronage and resource networks.

Confident of external support, the SPLM – and its leader since Garang’s death in 2005, Salva Kiir – had no pressing need to win the support of all the tribes of the South. Without Western funding, Kiir would have to have reached out to the Nuer and the Murle and the other non-Dinka groups to secure enough support to force concessions from Sudan’s government. Had he done so, on the basis of a genuine mass program capable of galvanizing all the peoples of southern Sudan on a non-ethnic basis, this very program would have formed the basis of a viable unity government following independence. However, confident of US backing, Kiir had no need to develop any of this. Instead, his clear patronage from the US enabled him to impose a false unity on his Nuer and Shilik rivals, in which his proximity to the US alone was enough to force them to fall in line if they did not want to be completely excluded from the power and the money coming his way. Political struggles for mass support were to be eclipsed by factional rivalries over who would control the flow of resources.The same pattern has continued after independence. Assuming, correctly, US support would continue to flow, President Kiir has had no particular need to endear himself to those outside his primary Dinka constituency, even going so far as to sack his Nuer deputy Riek Machar in 2013, triggering the latest round of civil war. This latest round of war has taken on particularly nasty ethnic dimensions, as the SPLM’s rival factions, for years bound together by US dollars rather than by a genuine program of unity, unravels.

While Yemen’s near-famine was caused by the Western-directed bombing and blockade of that country, then, South Sudan’s actual famine is the result of years of proxy war funded by the West and the disastrous partition it produced. The situation in Nigeria is also a result of war, in this case, the Boko Haram insurgency – an insurgency which owes its massive spread in recent years directly to the NATO destruction of Libya, which opened up the country’s weapons dumps to Boko Haram and its partners. Have no doubt, the latest wave of famine is thus a direct by-product of Western aggression – creating another 20 million victims for whom US and British governments must be brought to justice.

Dan Glazebrook is a freelance political writer who has written for RT, Counterpunch, Z magazine, the Morning Star, the Guardian, the New Statesman, the Independent and Middle East Eye, amongst others. His first book “Divide and Ruin: The West’s Imperial Strategy in an Age of Crisis” was published by Liberation Media in October 2013. It featured a collection of articles written from 2009 onwards examining the links between economic collapse, the rise of the BRICS, war on Libya and Syria and ‘austerity’. He is currently researching a book on US-British use of sectarian death squads against independent states and movements from Northern Ireland and Central America in the 1970s and 80s to the Middle East and Africa today.

July 16, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Essential context about Trump’s refugee ban – Made in Israel

By Alison Weir | If Americans Knew | February 4, 2017

President Trump has issued an executive order suspending entry to the U.S for people from Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Iran, and Yemen (the order is called “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States”). These same countries were the focus of the “Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015” under President Obama.

While reports on Trump’s ban emphasize that these are Muslim majority countries, analysts seem to have ignored another significant characteristic that these countries share.

With just a single exception, all of these countries were targeted for attack by certain top U.S. officials in 2001. In fact, that policy had roots that went back to 1996, 1991, 1980, and even the 1950s. Below, we will trace this policy back in time and examine its goals and proponents.

The fact is that Trump’s action continues policies influenced by people working on behalf of a foreign country, whose goal has been to destabilize and reshape an entire region. This kind of aggressive interventionism focused on “regime change” launches cascading effects that include escalating violence.

Already we’ve seen devastating wars, massive refugee movement that is uprooting entire peoples and reshaping parts of Europe, desperate and horrific terrorism, and now the horror that is ISIS. If this decades-long effort is not halted, it will be increasingly devastating for the region, our country, and the entire world.

2001 Policy Coup

Four-star general Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander, has described what he called a 2001 “policy coup” by a small group of people intent on destabilizing and taking over the Middle East, targeting six of the seven countries mentioned by Obama and Trump.

Clark gave the details in 2007 in an interview broadcast by Democracy Now and in a lecture at the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco.

Clark described a chance meeting in the Pentagon in 2001 ten days after 911 in which he learned about the plan to take down these countries.

After meeting with then-Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Clark went downstairs to say hello to people on the Joint Staff who had worked for him in the past. One of the generals called him in.

‘Sir, you’ve got to come in and talk to me a second.” He told Clark, “We’ve made the decision we’re going to war with Iraq.”

Clark was shocked. He said, “We’re going to war against Iraq? Why?” The officer said he didn’t know. Clark asked if they had found information connecting Saddam to Al-Qaeda. The man said, “No, no, there’s nothing new that way. They just made the decision to go to war with Iraq.”

A few weeks later, Clark went back to the Pentagon and spoke to the general again. He asked whether the U.S. was still planning to go to war against Iraq.

The general replied: “Oh, it’s worse than that.” Clark says that the general picked up a piece of paper and said, “I just got this down from upstairs today. This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.”

Clark asked, “Is it classified?” He said, “Yes, sir.”

Clark said he was stunned: “I couldn’t believe it would really be true. But that’s actually what happened. These people took control of the policy of the United States.”

1991

Clark says he then remembered a 1991 meeting he had with Paul Wolfowitz. In 2001 Wolfowitz was Deputy Secretary of Defense, and in 1991 he was Under Secretary of Defense of Policy, the number three position at the Pentagon.

Wolfowitz is a pro-Israel neoconservative who an associate has called “over the top when it comes to Israel.”

Clark describes going to Wolfowitz’s office in March of 1991. Clark said to Wolfowitz, “You must be pretty happy with the performance of the troops in Desert Storm.” Clark says Wolfowitz replied, “Not really, because the truth is we should have gotten rid of Saddam Hussein, and we didn’t.”

Wolfowitz declared the U.S. had an opportunity to clean up “Syria, Iran, Iraq, before the next super power came on to challenge us.”

Clark says he was shocked at Wolfowitz’s proposal that the military should initiate wars and change governments, and that Wolfowitz believed that the U.S. should invade countries whose governments it disliked. “My mind was spinning.”

Clark says Scooter Libby was at that meeting. Libby is another pro-Israel neoconservative. In 2001 He was Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff, and worked closely with the Office of Special Plans, which manufactured anti-Iraq talking points.

“This country was taken over by a group of people with a policy coup,” Clark said in his 2007 lecture. “Wolfowitz, Rumsfield, Cheney, and you could name a half dozen other collaborators from the Project for a New American Century. They wanted us to destabilize the Middle East, turn it upside down, make it under our control.”

(The Project for a New American Century was a think tank that operated from 1997-2006, and was replaced by the Foreign Policy Initiative.)

Clark continued: “Did they ever tell you this? Was there a national dialogue on this? Did Senators and Congressmen stand up and denounce this plan? Was there a full-fledged American debate on it? Absolutely not. And there still isn’t.”

Clark noted that Iran and Syria know about the plan. “All you have to do is read the Weekly Standard and listen to Bill Kristol, and he blabbermouths it all over the world – Richard Perle is the same way. They could hardly wait to finish Iraq so they could move into Syria.”

Clark says that Americans did not vote George Bush into office to do this. Bush, Clark pointed out, had campaigned on “a humble foreign policy, no ‘peace keeping,’ no ‘nation building.’”

Others have described this group, their responsibility for pushing the invasion of Iraq, and their pro-Israel motivation.

Neoconservatives, Israel, and Iraq

A 2003 article in Ha’aretz, one of Israel’s main newspapers, reported bluntly: “The war in Iraq was conceived by 25 neoconservative intellectuals, most of them Jewish, who are pushing President Bush to change the course of history.” (Ha’aretz often highlights the Jewish affiliation of important players due to its role as a top newspaper of the self-declared “Jewish State.”)

It gave what it termed “a partial list” of these neoconservatives: U.S. government officials Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and Eliot Abrams, and journalists William Kristol and Charles Krauthammer. The article described them as “mutual friends who cultivate one another.”

The article included an interview with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who was quoted as saying:

“It’s the war the neoconservatives wanted. It’s the war the neoconservatives marketed. Those people had an idea to sell when September 11 came, and they sold it. Oh boy, did they sell it. So this is not a war that the masses demanded. This is a war of an elite.”

The article continued:

“Friedman laughs: ‘I could give you the names of 25 people (all of whom are at this moment within a five-block radius of this office) who, if you had exiled them to a desert island a year and a half ago, the Iraq war would not have happened.’”

Another Ha’aretz article described how some of these individuals, high American officials, gave Israeli leaders tips on how to manage American actions and influence US Congressmen, concluding: “Perle, Feith, and their fellow strategists are walking a fine line between their loyalty to American governments and Israeli interests.”

Ha’aretz reported that the goal was far more than just an invasion of Iraq: “at a deeper level it is a greater war, for the shaping of a new Middle East.” The article said that the war “was being fought to consolidate a new world order.”

“The Iraq war is really the beginning of a gigantic historical experiment…”

We’re now seeing the tragic and violent result of that regime-change experiment.

American author, peace activist, and former CIA analyst Kathleen Christison discussed the neoconservatives who promoted war against Iraq in a 2002 article. She wrote: “Although much has been written about the neo-cons who dot the Bush administration, their ties to Israel have generally been treated very gingerly.”

The Bush administration, she wrote, was “peppered with people who have long records of activism on behalf of Israel in the United States, of policy advocacy in Israel, and of promoting an agenda for Israel often at odds with existing U.S. policy.”

“These people,” she wrote, “who can fairly be called Israeli loyalists, are now at all levels of government, from desk officers at the Defense Department to the deputy secretary level at both State and Defense, as well as on the National Security Council staff and in the vice president’s office.”

Author Stephen Green wrote a meticulously researched 2004 expose describing how some of these individuals, including Perle and Wolfowitz, had been investigated through the years by U.S. intelligence agencies for security “lapses” benefiting Israel.

Yet, despite a pattern of highly questionable actions suggestive of treason, they continued to procure top security clearances for themselves and cronies. The neocon agenda also became influential in Britain.

(During the recent U.S. presidential election, neoconservatives were extremely hostile to Trump, and have been perturbed to have less influence in his administration they they expected to have with Hillary Clinton. They may be relieved to see him targeting their pet punching bags in the Middle East. It’s unclear whether neoconservatives will remain outside the White House’s inner circle for long: neocon Michael Ledeen is quite close to Trump’s recently named White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. And there is talk that Trump may appoint Elliott Abrams as Deputy Secretary of State.)

1996 plan against Iraq and Syria

The neocon regime-change strategy had been laid out in a 1996 document called “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” It was written for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by a study group led by Richard Perle. Although Perle and the other authors were American citizens, the “realm” in question was Israel.

Perle was chairman of the United States Defense Policy Board at that time. He had previously been U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy.

The report stated that in the past, Israel’s strategy was to get the U.S. to use its money and weaponry to “lure Arabs” to negotiate. This strategy, the plan stated, “required funneling American money to repressive and aggressive regimes.”

The report recommended, however, that Israel go beyond a strategy just focused on Israel-Palestine, and address the larger region – that it “shape its strategic environment.”

It called for “weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria” and “removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.” The paper also listed Iran and Lebanon as countries to be dealt with (and Turkey and Jordan as nations to be used in the strategy).

The plan stressed that it was necessary to obtain U.S. support for the strategy, and advised that Israel use “language familiar to the Americans by tapping into themes of American administrations during the cold war … .”

Perle, Douglas Feith (who would be Deputy Under Secretary of Defense by 2001) and the other signatories of the report framed their proposal as a new concept, but the idea for Israel to reshape the political landscape of the Middle East had been discussed for years. (Lest we be unclear, “reshape the political landscape” means to change governments, something that has never been accomplished without massive loss of life and far-reaching repercussions.)

In 1992 Israeli leaders were already working to indoctrinate the public about an alleged need to attack Iran. Israeli analyst Israel Shahak wrote in his book Open Secrets that the goal would be “to bring about Iran’s total military and political defeat.”

Shahak reported: “In one version, Israel would attack Iran alone, in another it would ‘persuade’ the West to do the job. The indoctrination campaign to this effect is gaining in intensity. It is accompanied by what could be called semi-official horror scenarios purporting to detail what Iran could do to Israel, the West and the entire world when it acquires nuclear weapons as it is expected to a few years hence.”

1982 & 1950s Israeli plans to fragment the Middle East

A document called “A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties,” proposed by Israeli analyst Oded Yinon, was published by the World Zionist Organization in 1982.

The document, translated by Israel Shahak, called for the dissolution of existing Arab states into smaller states which would, in effect, become Israel’s satellites.

In an analysis of the plan, Shahak pointed out: “[W]hile lip service is paid to the idea of the ‘defense of the West’ from Soviet power, the real aim of the author, and of the present Israeli establishment is clear: To make an Imperial Israel into a world power.”

Shahak noted that Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon planned “to deceive the Americans after he has deceived all the rest.”

Shahak wrote that reshaping the Middle East on behalf of Israel had been discussed since the 1950s: “This is not a new idea, nor does it surface for the first time in Zionist strategic thinking. Indeed, fragmenting all Arab states into smaller units has been a recurrent theme.”

As Shahak pointed out, this strategy was documented in a book called Israel’s Sacred Terrorism (1980), by Livia Rokach. Drawing on the memoirs of the second Prime Minister of Israel, Rokach’s book described, among other things, a 1954 proposal to execute regime change in Lebanon.

The result

Returning to the present, let’s examine the situation in the “countries of concern” named by President Trump last week, by President Obama in 2015, and targeted by Wolfowitz et al in 2001.

Several years ago, journalist Glenn Greenwald commented on General Clark’s statement about the 2001 policy coup: “If you go down that list of seven countries that he said the neocons had planned to basically change the governments of, you pretty much see that vision… being fulfilled.”

Greenwald noted that the governments of Iraq, Libya, and Lebanon had been changed; the U.S. had escalated its proxy fighting and drone attacks in Somalia; U.S. troops were deployed in Sudan; “and the most important countries on that list, Iran and Syria, are clearly the target of all sorts of covert regime change efforts on the part of the United States and Israel.”

Below are sketches of what’s happened:

Iraq was invaded and the country destroyed. According to a 2015 NGO report, the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq had led to the deaths of approximately 1 million Iraqis – 5 percent of the total population of the country – by 2011. More than three million Iraqis are internally displaced, and the carnage continues. The destruction of Iraq and impoverishment of its people is at the root of much of today’s extremism and it’s been demonstrated that it led to the rise of ISIS, as admitted by former British Prime Minister and Iraq war co-perpetrator Tony Blair.

Libya was invaded in 2011 and its leader violently overthrown; in the post-Gaddafi power vacuum, a 2011 UN report revealed torture, lynchings and abuse. Five years on, the country was still torn by civil war and ISIS is reportedly expanding into the chaos. A 2016 Human Rights Watch report stated: “Libya’s political and security crisis deepened … the country edged towards a humanitarian crisis, with almost 400,000 people internally displaced.” Warring forces “continued with impunity to arbitrarily detain, torture, unlawfully kill, indiscriminately attack, abduct and disappear, and forcefully displace people from their homes. The domestic criminal justice system collapsed in most parts of the country, exacerbating the human rights crisis.” [Photos here]

Sudan: The U.S. engaged in so-called “nation-building” in Sudan, advanced the claim in 2005 that the government was perpetrating a genocide, and some U.S. players ultimately organized the secession of South Sudan from Sudan in 2011. (Neocon Israel partisan Elliott Abrams was one of these players.) One journalist reported the result: “[A]n abyss of unspeakable misery and bloodshed … . Tens of thousands have been killed, 1.5 million have been displaced, and 5 million are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.”

Somalia: There have been a number of U.S. interventions in Somalia, most recently a clandestine war under Obama using Special Operations troops, airstrikes, private contractors and African allies; Somali extremists, like others, repeatedly cite Israel’s crimes against Palestinians, enabled by the U.S., as motivators of their violent extremism.

Iran: Iran has long been targeted by Israel, and Israel partisans have driven the anti-Iran campaign in the U.S. Most recently there has been a public relations effort claiming that Iran is developing nuclear weapons, despite the fact that U.S. intelligence agencies and other experts do not support these accusations. Israel and the U.S. deployed a computer virus against Iran in what has been called the world’s first digital weapon.  Young Iranian nuclear physicists have been assassinated by U.S. ally Israel, and the U.S. instituted a blockade against Iran that caused food insecurity and mass suffering among the country’s civilians. (Such a blockade can be seen as an act of war.) Democratic Congressman and Israel partisan Brad Sherman admitted the objective of the Iran sanctions: “Critics of sanctions argue that these measures will hurt the Iranian people. Quite frankly, we need to do just that.”

Yemen: The US has launched drone strikes against Yemen for years, killing numerous Yemeni civilians and even some Americans. In 2010, a few weeks after Obama won the Nobel Peace Prizehe had the military use cluster bombs that killed 35 Yemeni women and children. The Obama administration killed a 16-year-old American in 2011, and a few days ago U.S. forces under Trump killed the boy’s sister. In 2014 American forces attacked a wedding procession, and in 2015 the Obama administration admitted it was making war on Yemen. Today over two million Yemeni children suffer from malnutrition. The Yemeni regime that we’re attacking became politically active in 2003 as a result of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Syria: In an email revealed by Wikileaks, Hillary Clinton wrote that the “best way to help Israel” was to overthrow the Syrian regime.

Syria seems to be a poster child for the destruction recommended by Israeli strategists. As the UK Guardian reported in 2002: “Disorder and chaos sweeping through the region would not be an unfortunate side-effect of war with Iraq, but a sign that everything is going according to plan.”

Half the Syrian population is displaced – 5 million have fled the country and another 6 million are internally displaced – and over 300,000 are dead from the violence. Major cities and ancient sites are in ruins and the countryside devastated. Amnesty International calls it “the worst humanitarian crisis of our time.”

While the uprising against a ruthless dictator was no doubt begun by authentic Syrian rebels, others with questionable agendas flowed in, some supported by the U.S. and Israel. Israel’s military intelligence chief said Israel does not want ISIS defeated. Israel’s defense minister has admitted that Israel has provided aid to ISIS fighters.

ISIS

A major factor in Syria’s chaos and the rise of ISIS was the destruction of Iraq, as revealed by in-depth interviews with ISIS fighters by researchers for Artis International, a consortium for scientific study in the service of conflict resolution:

“Many assume that these fighters are motivated by a belief in the Islamic State… but this just doesn’t hold for the prisoners we are interviewing. They are woefully ignorant about Islam and have difficulty answering questions about Sharia law, militant jihad, and the caliphate.”

“More pertinent than Islamic theology is that there are other, much more convincing, explanations as to why they’ve fought for the side they did.”

One interviewee said: “The Americans came. They took away Saddam, but they also took away our security. I didn’t like Saddam, we were starving then, but at least we didn’t have war. When you came here, the civil war started.”

The report noted that the fighters “came of age under the disastrous American occupation after 2003.”

“They are children of the occupation, many with missing fathers at crucial periods (through jail, death from execution, or fighting in the insurgency), filled with rage against America and their own government. They are not fueled by the idea of an Islamic caliphate without borders; rather, ISIS is the first group since the crushed Al Qaeda to offer these humiliated and enraged young men a way to defend their dignity, family, and tribe.”

The leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was imprisoned for eight months in the infamous Abu Ghraib, a U.S.-run Iraqi prison known for grotesque torture of prisoners. Photos published at that time show U.S. soldiers smiling next to piles of naked prisoners and a hooded detainee standing on a narrow box with electrical wires attached to his outstretched hands.

An Abu Ghraib interrogator later revealed that Israelis trained them in the use of techniques used against Palestinians. General Janis Karpinski (in charge of the unit that ran the prison) and others say that Israelis were involved in interrogations. It was reported that the head of the defense contracting firm implicated in the torture at Abu Ghraib prison had close ties to Israel and had visited an Israeli training camp in the West Bank.

Another major factor in the rise of anti-Western extremism is the largely unconditional support for Israel’s violent oppression of Palestinians. As a UN report documented, “The scale of human loss and destruction in Gaza during the 2014 conflict was catastrophic and has … shocked and shamed the world.”

Professor John Mearsheimer of and Professor Stephen Walt of Harvard have written that U.S. policies promoted by the Israel lobby have given “extremists a powerful recruiting tool, increases the pool of potential terrorists and sympathizers, and contributes to Islamic radicalism around the world.” Osama Bin Laden cited U.S. support for Israeli crimes against Palestinians among his reasons for fighting the U.S. The U.S. gives Israel over $10 million per day.

Reaction to the Trump executive order

Thousands of people across the U.S. have opposed Trump’s order for the extreme hardship it imposes on multitudes of refugees. The focus on Muslims (Trump has said that Christians might be exempted) has caused outrage at such religious discrimination and unfair profiling (the large majority of Muslims strongly oppose extremism).

Individuals across the political spectrum from Code Pink to the Koch brothers have decried the order. The Kochs issued a strong statement against it:

“We believe it is possible to keep Americans safe without excluding people who wish to come here to contribute and pursue a better life for their families. The travel ban is the wrong approach and will likely be counterproductive. Our country has benefited tremendously from a history of welcoming people from all cultures and backgrounds. This is a hallmark of free and open societies.”

New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, who supported the Iraq War and suggests God sent him to guard Israel, choked back tears at a press conference and called the order “mean-spirited and un-American.”

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), known for its fervent pro-Israel advocacy (and history of smearing criticism of Israeli policy as “anti-Semitism”), has vowed a “relentless fight” against the ban.

Some are concerned that Trump’s action will stoke terrorism, rather than defend against it. Many others support the order in the belief it makes them safer from extremist violence. (As mentioned above, the Obama administration undertook a similar, though milder, action for a similar reason.)

I suggest that everyone – both those who deplore the order for humanitarian reasons, and those who defend it out of concern for Americans’ safety – examine the historic context outlined above and the U.S. policies that led to this order.

For decades, Democratic and Republican administrations have enacted largely parallel policies regarding the Middle East and Israel-Palestine. We are seeing the results, and most of us are deeply displeased.

I would submit that both for humanitarian obligations and for security necessities, it is urgent that we find a different way forward.


Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew, president of the Council for the National Interest, and author of Against Our Better Judgment: The Hidden History of How the U.S. Was Used to Create Israel

February 9, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

If Americans Truly Cared About Muslims, They Would Stop Killing Them by the Millions

By Glen Ford | Black Agenda Report | February 1, 2017

In the most dramatic expression of insider opposition to a sitting administration’s policies in generations, over 1,000 U.S. State Department employees signed on to a memo protesting President Donald Trump’s temporary ban on people from seven predominantly Muslim countries setting foot on U.S. soil. Another recent high point in dissent among the State Department’s 18,000 worldwide employees occurred in June of last year, when 51 diplomats called for U.S. air strikes against the Syrian government of President Bashar al Assad.

Neither outburst of dissent was directed against the U.S. wars and economic sanctions that have killed and displaced millions of people in the affected countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Rather, the diplomatic “rebellion” of last summer sought to pressure the Obama administration to join with Hillary Clinton and her “Big Tent” full of war hawks to confront Russia in the skies over Syria, while the memo currently making the rounds of State Department employees claims to uphold “core American and constitutional values,” preserve “good will towards Americans” and prevent “potential damage to the U.S. economy from the loss of revenue from foreign travelers and students.”

In neither memo is there a word of support for world peace, nor a hint of respect for the national sovereignty of other peoples — which is probably appropriate, since these are not, and never have been, “core American and constitutional values.”

Ironically, the State Department “dissent channel” was established during one of those rare moments in U.S. history when “peace” was popular: 1971, when a defeated U.S. war machine was very reluctantly winding down support for its puppet regime in South Vietnam. Back then, lots of Americans, including denizens of the U.S. government, wanted to take credit for the “peace” that was on the verge of being won by the Vietnamese, at a cost of at least four million Southeast Asian dead. But, those days are long gone. Since 2001, war has been normalized in the U.S. — especially war against Muslims, which now ranks at the top of actual “core American values.” Indeed, so much American hatred is directed at Muslims that Democrats and establishment Republicans must struggle to keep the Russians in the “hate zone” of the American popular psyche. The two premiere, officially-sanctioned hatreds are, of course, inter-related, particularly since the Kremlin stands in the way of a U.S. blitzkrieg in Syria, wrecking Washington’s decades-long strategy to deploy Islamic jihadists as foot soldiers of U.S. empire.

The United States has always been a project of empire-building. George Washington called it a “nascent empire,” Thomas Jefferson bought the Louisiana Territory from France in pursuit of an “extensive empire,” and the real Alexander Hamilton, contrary to the Broadway version, considered the U.S. to be the “most interesting empire in the world.” The colonial outpost of two million white settlers (and half a million African slaves) severed ties with Britain in order to forge its own, limitless dominion, to rival the other white European empires of the world. Today, the U.S. is the Mother of All (Neo)Colonialists, under whose armored skirts are gathered all the aged, shriveled, junior imperialists of the previous era.

In order to reconcile the massive contradiction between America’s predatory nature and its mythical self-image, however, the mega-hyper-empire must masquerade as its opposite: a benevolent, “exceptional” and “indispensible” bulwark against global barbarism. Barbarians must, therefore, be invented and nurtured, as did the U.S. and the Saudis in 1980s Afghanistan with their creation of the world’s first international jihadist network, for subsequent deployment against the secular “barbarian” states of Libya and Syria.

In modern American bureaucratese, worrisome barbarian states are referred to as “countries or areas of concern” — the language used to designate the seven nations targeted under the Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 signed by President Obama. President Donald Trump used the existing legislation as the basis for his executive order banning travelers from those states, while specifically naming only Syria. Thus, the current abomination is a perfect example of the continuity of U.S. imperial policy in the region, and emphatically not something new under the sun (a sun that, as with old Britannia, never sets on U.S. empire).

The empire preserves itself, and strives relentlessly to expand, through force of arms and coercive economic sanctions backed up by the threat of annihilation. It kills people by the millions, while allowing a tiny fraction of its victims to seek sanctuary within U.S. borders, based on their individual value to the empire.

Donald Trump’s racist executive order directly affects about 20,000 people, according to the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees. President Obama killed an estimated 50,000 Libyans in 2011, although the U.S. officially does not admit it snuffed out the life of a single civilian. The First Black President is responsible for each of the half-million Syrians that have died since he launched his jihadist-based war against that country, the same year. Total casualties inflicted on the populations of the seven targeted nations since the U.S. backed Iraq in its 1980s war against Iran number at least four million — a bigger holocaust than the U.S. inflicted on Southeast Asia, two generations ago — when the U.S. State Department first established its “dissent channel.”

But, where is the peace movement? Instead of demanding a halt to the carnage that creates tidal waves of refugees, self-styled “progressives” join in the macabre ritual of demonizing the “countries of concern” that have been targeted for attack, a process that U.S. history has color-coded with racism and Islamophobia. These imperial citizens then congratulate themselves on being the world’s one and only “exceptional” people, because they deign to accept the presence of a tiny portion of the populations the U.S. has mauled.

The rest of humanity, however, sees the real face of America — and there will be a reckoning.

Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

February 2, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments