As the US government prepares to furlough 1 million federal workers and slash hundreds of billions in social spending, corporate executives in the United States are receiving among the highest payouts in history. USA Today reported Thursday that at least ten CEOs took in $50 million apiece in 2012, largely as a result of cashing in stocks that have soared in value with the rising market. According to the newspaper,

“Early 2013 proxy filings detailing 2012 compensation show a growing number of CEOs reaping $50 million or more, gains that could prove unmatched in breadth and size since the Internet IPO craze enriched tech company executives more than a decade ago.”

In its own analysis, the Wall Street Journal observed that executive pay has become ever more directly tied to stock values, noting that last year, more than half of compensation at major companies was tied to “stock or financial performance,” compared to 35 percent in 2009.

Among the top pay packages according to preliminary calculation is that of Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, which included stock options valued at $103.3 million this year, on top of $30 million in other compensation and stock, as well as $10.2 million in vested shares, according to USA Today.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally likewise took home $61 million by cashing in shares that vested last year, added to his compensation of $21 million. This payout was based on a sharp rise in the company’s profitability that has been made possible by downsizing and the slashing of wages for newly hired workers to $15 per hour. Mulally’s pay is more than 2,500 times that of a new auto worker.

Apple’s Tim Cook got $139.7 million from restricted shares that vested last year, while Oracle CEO Larry Ellison was granted $90 million in stock.

These payouts are only a sampling of the huge sums that the ruling class is handing itself. The stock market, inflated through $85 billion a month handed to the banks by the US Federal Reserve, is the central transmission belt for this enrichment.

The engorgement of the ruling class has been facilitated by the actions of the state, and in particular the Obama administration. After the financial collapse of 2008, facing widespread public outrage at executive compensation, the administration explicitly opposed any constraints on pay. “We don’t disparage wealth,” Obama said repeatedly. Proposals for CEO pay centered on encouraging companies to tie this pay more directly to “performance”—i.e., share values.

Even while the corporate CEOs and other members of the financial oligarchy rake in astronomical payouts, the constant refrain from the media and big business parties is that there is no money to pay for social spending, and that health care and retirement programs must be cut and workers’ incomes slashed.

Next month, as a result of $85 billion in “sequester” spending cuts, over 1 million federal government employees will begin scheduled furloughs, resulting in effective pay cuts of 20 to 35 percent. These furloughs come together with tens of billions in cuts to public education, anti-poverty programs, and unemployment insurance.

With both Democrats and Republicans acknowledging that the cuts will be permanent, the turn now is toward working out an agreement to slash hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. The ultimate aim of the ruling elite is to dismantle everything that remains of the social safety net, plunging the working class into Dickensian poverty and social misery.

The argument that there is no money to pay for these programs is rendered absurd by the vast amounts of cash being handed out to executives or simply sitting around on corporate balance sheets. In 2012, the amount of cash held by US non-financial corporations rose by 10 percent, to $1.45 trillion, according to Moody’s. This figure is enough to pay for the sequester cuts 17 times over.

In fact, Apple, whose cash hoard rose to $137 billion, could itself pay for this year’s sequester cuts, with $50 billion to spare.

Loaded with cash and unwilling to invest, corporations have dramatically increased dividend payments to investors. The New York Times reported earlier this month that S&P 500 companies are expected to hand investors $300 billion in dividends this year, an increase over last year’s payout of $282 billion. American corporations bought back $117.8 billion in their own stock last month, the highest total on records going back to 1985.

The relationship of the American ruling class to the rest of society is a fundamentally parasitic one. Over the course of three decades, under conditions of economic decline, stock market speculation, rather than production, has become the central mechanism of wealth accumulation.

The 2008 crisis, far from reversing this process, has strengthened it. The ruling elite seized on the crisis to escalate the transfer of wealth. The soaring CEO pay and investor payouts on one hand, and vast social misery on the other, are in reality two sides of the same process.

The American ruling class proceeds with an almost shameless disregard for the consequences of its own actions. Amidst mass poverty and unemployment, as it dictates the most brutal austerity measures all around the world, the financial aristocracy engages in an uncontrollable orgy, propelled by its own social being.

Such actions, however, do not go unnoticed. They are producing within the United States an immense wellspring of social opposition that will take the form of working class struggle.

Obama Talks “Peace” in Israel while Preparing War

March 22nd, 2013 by Bill Van Auken

In a speech delivered in Jerusalem on Thursday, US President Barack Obama identified US interests unconditionally with Israel while reiterating war threats against both Syria and Iran.

The speech, delivered to several hundred Israeli university students, was ostensibly meant to signal Washington’s continued support for the so-called “peace process”—the moribund, decades-old diplomatic charade that has served as a cover for Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people and a means of promoting US objectives elsewhere in the Arab world.

The US administration chose this audience rather than the Knesset for fear that Obama would be heckled by the extreme right-wing Zionist elements that dominate the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Before appearing in Jerusalem, Obama made a brief side-trip by helicopter to Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, where he appeared at a press conference with Palestinian Authority (PA) chief Mahmoud Abbas.

Several hundred demonstrators took to the streets of Ramallah to denounce the visit, but were kept far from Abbas’ compound by a phalanx of PA police. Confronting the police, demonstrators began chants against Abbas, shouting “down with the military regime.”

While mouthing empty platitudes about the accelerating spread of Zionist settlements in the occupied West Bank not being “constructive,” Obama made no repeat of his 2009 demand for a freeze on settlement activity. Instead, he pressured the Palestinian Authority and Abbas to drop their own demand for such a freeze.

Obama argued that politics in Israel “are complex” and that the settlements were “not an issue that’s going to be solved immediately.” He chided the Palestinians for holding the view “that we can only have direct negotiations when everything is settled ahead of time, then there’s no point for negotiations.”

In reality, the so-called “two-state solution” has become a dead letter, as Zionist settlements have already gobbled up nearly half of the land occupied by Israel in the 1967 war, which was supposedly to be the territory of a Palestinian mini-state. There are now 560,000 Israelis in this territory, 60,000 more than when Obama took office.

The New York Times reported Thursday on a document summing up Palestinian Authority “talking points” for the meeting with Obama that suggested Abbas and the corrupt wealthy clique he represents are prepared to bow even lower to the US and Israel.

The documents propose an agreement in which Netanyahu could “pledge to you secretly that he will stop settlement activities during the period of negotiations.”

Both the Israeli press and Palestinian analysts described Obama’s address to the Israeli students as the most enthusiastic embrace of the ideology of Zionism by any president in US history. One Israeli newspaper urged Obama to emigrate to Israel and run for office.

Obama first stressed Israel’s unconditional right to security—though no such security is on offer to the Palestinians of the West Bank or Gaza or neighboring countries like Lebanon, which have been subjected to repeated Israeli invasions and bombardments. Unlike these countries, Israel serves as a bulwark for US counter-revolutionary and neo-colonial operations in the region.

“The security relationship between the United States and Israel has never been stronger: more exercises between our militaries, and more exchanges among our political, military and intelligence officials than ever before; the largest program to date to help you retain your qualitative military edge,” Obama boasted. He announced that discussions were underway to extend for another decade the US military aid program that pours billions of dollars into the Israel Defense Forces every year.

Obama repeated a threat of military action against Syria made the day before during a joint appearance with Netanyahu.

“We will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people or the transfer of these weapons to terrorists,” he said. “The world is watching, and we will hold you accountable.”

The overwhelming evidence indicates that a chemical weapon used on Tuesday, killing at least 30 Syrians in a government-controlled area near Aleppo, was indeed the work of “terrorists” —those that the US and its allies are backing in the war for regime change. The US president was not referring to these Al Qaeda-linked forces, however, but rather to the mass Shia political movement, Hezbollah, which has been a dominant force in the Lebanese government. He demanded that all foreign governments join Washington in branding it as a “terrorist organization.”

Obama repeated even more forcefully his threats against Iran and its nuclear program, claiming that while Washington would seek to bring about Tehran’s submission by diplomatic means, “time is not unlimited.”

“I have said to the world that all options are on the table for achieving our objectives,” he added. “America will do what we must to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.”

Much of the rest of the speech appealed for the revival of the “peace process” and the “two-state solution.” Obama insisted that as part of any settlement, the Palestinians would have to recognize Israel as a “Jewish state,” a definition that would consolidate the apartheid-style disenfranchisement of non-Jews, including a large Palestinian population, inside Israel and abrogate any right of Palestinian refugees to return.

While the media praised this peace rhetoric as “bold” and “courageous,” the right-wing Zionist politicians of Netanyahu’s government brushed aside the US president’s remarks.

Netanyahu thanked Obama for the speech and his “unqualified support of Israel.” His new economy and trade Minister, Naftali Bennett, expressed reservations about Obama’s reference to Israeli occupation of the West Bank, however, declaring: “A nation cannot be an occupier in its own land.”

Danny Ayalon, the right-wing nationalist former deputy foreign minister said the speech was “no problem” as it contained no specific proposals for the so-called peace talks.

Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post suggested that the talk of reviving the “peace process” was mere window dressing for the main aim of Obama’s trip, ratcheting up the war threat against Iran.

“Speculation has been rife for years that the US is holding Israel back when it comes to Iran,” the newspaper noted. “Indeed, prior to Obama’s trip there was speculation that one of the main purposes of his journey was to hold a bright red stop light up to Netanyahu.”

It continued: “Publicly, however, restraining Israel has not been Obama’s message. Indeed, the opposite is true – and these are the words the Iranians are hearing as well.”

At Wednesday’s joint press conference, Obama recognized Israel’s unilateral “right” to attack Iran. “Each country has to make its own decisions when it comes to the awesome decision to engage in any kind of military action, and Israel is differently situated than the United States,” he said.

“Obama hopes it will not come to that on Iran, he hopes the Iranians will back down,” the Jerusalem Post commented. “But if they don’t, the credible military threat Netanyahu wants to see waved along with the economic, political and diplomatic pressure already being applied against Iran is no less than Israel itself. Iran, and the international community, have been warned.”

Ten years after invading Iraq, US imperialism is laying the groundwork for a war against Iran, which has three times both the land mass and population of Iraq. The motives are the same: control of one of the world’s most geo-strategically vital and energy-rich regions.

Any Israeli attack on Iran would draw in the US in short order. With his public endorsement of Israel’s “right” to launch such an attack, Obama has set in motion forces that are driving toward a conflagration.

US Imperial Sanctions, The Siege and Terrorism

March 22nd, 2013 by Stephen Gowans

In his 2011 book Crisis in Korea: America, China and the Risk of War, Tim Beal writes,

The Americans, and their friends and allies, tend to have a disengaged attitude toward sanctions—disengaged both ethically and in terms of causality. Sanctions are, after all, but the modern version of the age-old military tactic of the siege. The aim of the siege is to reduce the enemy to such a state of starvation and deprivation that they open the gates, perhaps killing their leaders in the process, and throw themselves on the mercy of the besiegers.”

Later, Beal adds, “There are strong parallels between sanctions/sieges and terrorism: both inflict pain on ordinary, vulnerable people in order to turn them against their leaders…”

While Beal writes in connection with North Korea, Washington’s use of the modern-day siege extends to other countries, as well. Like North Korea, Iran is despised by Washington for its insistence on using its labour, markets and natural resources, not for Wall Street’s profits, but for self-directed development. And like North Korea, Iran is menaced by a campaign of sanctions. These sanctions, too, aim, as terrorism does, to make ordinary people suffer so they’ll pressure their government to change its policies to accommodate the interests of the besieger/terrorist (in this case, to replace the current economically nationalist government with one that will open the Iranian economy to ownership by foreigners and create business conditions favorable to foreign investors reaping handsome returns, albeit under the guise of building “democracy” and relinguishing an independent nuclear energy industry.)

The accustomed practice in mainstream journalism is to gloss over the effects of sanctions on besieged countries, or to insist that they’re targeted at a country’s leadership and therefore do no harm to ordinary people.

But in a March 17 Washington Post article, reporters Joby Warrick and Anne Gearan acknowledge that the sanctions on Iran are aimed at hurting ordinary people.

Warrick and Gearan write,

Harsh economic sanctions have taken a serious toll on Iran’s economy, but U.S. and European officials acknowledge that the measures have not yet produced the kind of public unrest that could force Iranian leaders to change their nuclear policies.

Nine months after Iran was hit with the toughest restrictions in its history, the nation’s economy appears to have settled into a slow, downward glide, hemorrhaging jobs and hard currency but appearing to be in no immediate danger of collapse, Western diplomats and analysts say.

At the same time, the hardships have not triggered significant domestic protests or produced a single concession by Iran on its nuclear program.

They continue,

The impact has been hardest on the middle and working classes, which have seen savings evaporate and purchasing power dry up. Yet, in recent months, Iran’s fiscal crisis appears to have eased, and economists say neither complete collapse nor widespread rioting appears likely in the near term.

So, sanctions aren’t working because they haven’t inflicted enough suffering to engender widespread unrest and rioting.

If sanctions do produce their desired effect, and wide-spread rioting does break out, the public unrest most assuredly will not be blamed by Western reporters on the suffering produced by sanctions, but dishonestly on Tehran’s “economic mismanagement.” And aid will continue to flow to opposition forces in Iran, who will be presented as “thirsting for democracy” (rather than relief from the suffering inflicted by the United States and European Union) to help them topple their government (which is to say, open the gate to let the besiegers in.)

The Warrick and Gearan article’s emphasis on the sanctions’ failure to promote rioting, may signal that policy-makers are coming to the conclusion that Washington’s goals for Iran cannot be achieved by sanctions alone, and that military intervention is also required.

Military intervention, however, may not be an alternative to the siege, but its complement. US Air Force Lt. General Michael Short’s explanation of the objectives of the 1999 US-led NATO air war on the former Yugoslavia resonates with the aim of the besieger/terrorist. Explained Short,

“If you wake up in the morning and you have no power to your house and no gas to your stove and the bridge you take to work is down and will be lying in the Danube for the next 20 years, I think you begin to ask, ‘Hey, Slobo, what’s this all about? How much more of this do we have to withstand?’” (“What this war is really about,” The Globe and Mail (Toronto), May 26, 1999.)

The modus operandi, then, of US foreign policy is to inflict pain on ordinary people who live in countries whose governments resist integration into the US-superintended system of global capitalist exploitation, in order to create public unrest that will either force the country’s leaders to change their policies, or step down and yield power to local representatives of global capitalist interests (deceptively labelled by Western state officials and establishment journalists as “pro-democracy” or “democratic” forces.)

The only thing “democratic” about US foreign policy is its insistence on democratizing suffering.

A brief review of the recent history of Afghanistan explains some of the background pertaining to today’s crisis in the country.

To begin with, Afghanistan is a complex place; there are 20 major ethnic groups and more than 50 total, with over 30 languages spoken, although most also speak either Pashtun and/or Dari.

This reflects its geographical position at a cultural crossroads, as well as its mountainous topography, which isolates different ethnic groups from one another. In the 1700s, when Afghanistan was just forming as a nation, two of the world’s major powers of the time were advancing towards it from opposite directions. England was busy conquering India between 1757 and 1857, and Russia was spreading its control east and was on Afghanistan’s border by 1828. This overview will focus on first England’s and then America’s part in shaping modern Afghanistan.

One of the most lucrative products that England exported from its new colony India was opium.1

By 1770 Britain had a monopoly on opium production in India and saw to it that cultivation spread into Afghanistan as well (the boundary between the two was ill-defined until 1893). Anxious to protect their drug trade and concerned the Afghan king Dost Mohammad was too friendly with the Russians, the British sent an expeditionary force of 12,000 soldiers into Afghanistan in 1839 to dethrone him and set up their own hand-picked king, Shah Shoja. They built a garrison in Kabul to help prop him up. However the Afghan populace resisted this occupation, and in the winter of 1842 the British were forced into an attempted retreat back to the east. Within days of leaving Kabul 17,000 British soldiers and support staff lay slaughtered in the snow between Kabul and Jalalabad after a battle with Afghan forces.2

Dost Mohammad returned to power, but the Afghan government did not have the resources to protect its borders, and England soon took control of all Afghan territory between the Indus River and the Hindu Kush, including Baluchistan in 1859, denying Afghanistan access to the sea.3 Still worried about the Russians, England invaded Afghanistan again in 1878; overthrew the standing king and forced the new government to become a British protectorate. England considered slicing up Afghanistan according to what London had determined was the “scientific frontier” of its Indian empire, but settled for an Afghan government over which it retained control of the economy and all foreign policy.4

The British invasions embittered the Afghan people, creating a sense of xenophobia that created powerful resistance to Western-style reforms put forward by Afghan leaders in years to come.

In order to consolidate its gains, England created the Durand Line in 1893, an arbitrary 1500-mile border between “British” India and Afghanistan that made permanent its previous territorial gains and laid claim to the Northwest Frontier Provinces, long considered part of Afghanistan. This boundary was made “permanent” in a 1907 Anglo-Russian convention, without consulting the Afghan government.5

Taking these provinces divided the Pashtun people, who since time immemorial had been considered part of the Afghan homeland, between two separate nations, Afghanistan and India. This created a deep animosity among the Pashtuns that survives in full force today, 120 years later. In fact all Taliban are Pashtuns.

Neither Britain nor Pakistan afterward ever gained full control of the Northwest Provinces, and they later became the source of the Islamic radicalism that spawned both Al Qaeda and the Taliban. It is into the Northwest Provinces that majority of the American drone missiles are fired today. This antipathy has its genesis in the drawing of the Durand Line.

A strongly anti-colonial young King Amanullah ascended to the Afghan throne in 1919, and declared Afghanistan’s independence from Britain’s “protectorate” status in his inaugural speech. He attempted to regain the Pashtun lands east of the hated Durand line by organizing uprisings in the Northwest Provinces and supporting them with Afghan troops. Reacting to this provocation, the British attacked once again, embarking on the third Anglo-Afghan war in eighty years in June 1919. The British suffered early setbacks and responded by bombing Kabul and Jalalabad by air. Neither side had the stomach for a long war, and in August of 1919 a peace treaty was signed which granted Afghanistan full independence, but maintained the status quo of the Durand Line.

Meanwhile Britain’s control over the Pashtun tribal areas remained more of a wish than a reality. Between 1849 an 1900 no less than 42 military operations were conducted that did little more than reconfirm the stubborn independence of the mountain tribes. When Amanullah continued to push for reunification after the 1919 war, Britain responded with a ruthless and bloody effort to pacify the Northwest Territories. In 1920 a five-day battle took place in which two thousand British and Indian troops and four thousand Afghan tribesmen were killed.6

Amanullah himself became a beacon of liberalization in Afghanistan. He attempted drastic changes in the country by reforming the army, abolishing slavery and forced labor, and encouraging the liberation of women. He discouraged the use of the veil and the oppression of women, introduced educational opportunities for females. Britain resented Amanullah, fearing that the liberalization of Afghan society would spread to India and become a threat to British rule there.7 Britain therefore initiated support for conservative and reactionary Islamists in the country to undermine Amanullah’s rule.

In 1924 there was a violent rebellion by conservative Islamists in the border town of Khost which was quelled by the Afghan army. The rebellion was a reaction to Amanullah’s social reforms, particularly public education for girls and greater freedom for women. The Afghan historian Abdul Samad Ghaus wrote in 1988, “Britain was seen as the culprit in the affair, manipulating the tribes against Amanullah in an attempt to bring about his downfall.”8

In 1929 there was a larger rebellion of conservative tribes people, and Amanullah was forced to flee the country. Many historians suspect Britain was behind this uprising as well. In Abdul Ghaus’s view, “Afghans in general remain convinced that the elimination of Amanullah was engineered by the British because he had become….an obstacle to the furtherance of Britain’s interests.”9

The new King , Nadir Shah submitted to Britain’s dictates, including acceptance the Durand Line. Britain launched a ferocious new military campaign in 1930 in another bid to gain control of the Northwest Territories. The offensive went poorly, and Britain was about to lose control of Peshawar to the tribal warriors when it initiated a massive aerial bombardment of civilian Afghans to prevent defeat. MIT professor Noam Chomsky later pointed out that, “Winston Churchill felt that poison gas was jut right for use against ‘uncivilized tribes’ (Kurds and Afghans, particularly),” while the respected British statesman Lloyd George observed that “We insist on reserving the right to bomb niggers.”10

One of the root causes of the enduring animosity between Afghanistan and Pakistan was the seemingly permanent loss of Afghan lands taken by the British, including Baluchistan (with its access to the sea), and the Northwest Territories to Pakistan when that country was created by Britain in 1947. The British excluded the Afghans from the partition negotiations and the partition agreement, which finalized Pakistan’s boundaries—on the Durand Line. In addition to institutionalizing the artificial boundary created in 1893, Britain’s parting act hobbled the Afghan economy, permanently denying Afghanistan its former territory over the Hindu Kush with access to the sea.

In response to the partition agreement, the government of Afghanistan created an independent Pashtunistan movement that called for independence in the Northwest Territories. In reply, Pakistan hardened its position regarding the territories. In 1948 Pakistan greatly increased its military presence there. The action provoked the Afghan King Zahir Shah to renounce the Durand Line and demand the return of its territory. Kabul convened an Afghan tribal assembly (a Loya Jirga) which voted its full support for a separate independence for the tribal areas from Pakistan.

The assembly also authorized the Afghan government to abrogate all of Afghanistan’s treaties with Great Britain regarding the trans-Durand Pashtuns. American involved in Afghanistan began in earnest soon after the end of World War II. In 1950 the top-secret U.S. policy document National Security Directive 68 warned of the Soviet Union’s alleged “design for world domination.”

The U.S. initiated aid projects in Afghanistan starting in 1945. Soviet President Nikita Khrushchev wrote in his memoirs, “It was clear to us that the Americans were penetrating Afghanistan with the obvious purpose of setting up a military base.”11 In fact in 1956 the U.S. built a fairly useless International Airport in Kandahar that was widely seen as a refueling base for U.S. bombers. Wikipedia notes that, “Since the airport was designed as a military base, it is more likely that the United States intended to use it as such in case there was a show-down of war between the United States and former USSR.”12

By the early 1970s the U.S. had decided that the best way counter the Soviet’s “design for world domination” was to support the strict Islamists in Afghanistan, who were opposed to the progressive reforms of the Afghan government. According to Roger Morris, National Security Council staff member, the CIA started to offer covert backing to Islamic radicals as early as 1973.13 In August 1979 a classified State Department Report stated: “the United States larger interests …would be served by the demise of the current Afghan regime, despite whatever setbacks this might mean for future social and economic reforms in Afghanistan.” Fundamentalist Islamists opposed to the Afghan government and supported by the U.S. became known as Mujahideen, or ‘fighters for Islam.’

Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Advisor to President Carter, admitted after the Soviet-Afghan war that the CIA was providing covert aid to Afghan Mujahideen fully six months before the Soviet invasion.14 He pointed out that the U.S. intention in providing this aid was to “draw the Russians into the Afghan trap….the day the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter: We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War.” The Soviet’s invasion of Afghanistan in December of 1979 was in their minds based largely on the knowledge that the U.S. was purposely destabilizing the Afghan government for its own purposes.

When the Soviets did invade, the U.S. was quick to provide weapons to the Mujahideen. By February 1980, the Washington Post reported that they were receiving arms coming from the U.S. government. The amounts were significant: 10,000 tons of arms and ammunition in 1983 which rose to 65,000 tons annually by 1987, according to Mohammad Yousaf, the Pakistani general who supervised the covert war from 1983-87. Milton Bearden, CIA station chief in Pakistan from 1986-1989 who was responsible for arming the Mujahideen, commented, “The U.S. was fighting the Soviets to the last Afghan.”15

It is estimated that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia gave $40 billion worth of weapons and money to the fundamentalist Mujahideen over the course of the war.16 The money was funneled through the Pakistan government, which used some of it to set up thousands of fundamentalist Islamic religious schools (madrassas) for the Afghan refugee children flooding into the country; these became the formative institutions for the Taliban.17

Many of the madrassa students and Taliban-to-be were traumatized Afghan war orphans, who were then raised in these all-male schools where they learned a literal interpretation of Islam and the art of war, and not much else. Fifteen years later the U.S. was at war with these same fighters, which it had itself created through its funding of the madrassas and the fundamentalists. The 9/11 attacks on the United States were carried out by the same radical Islamists that the U.S. had nurtured and supported during the Soviet war years.

In 2001, three weeks after the 9/11 attacks, the then prime minister Tony Blair sold the case for war in Afghanistan by insisting that the invasion would destroy the country’s illicit drug trade. In an impassioned speech to the Labor Party, he told his supporters, “The arms the Taliban are buying today are paid for by the lives of young British people buying their drugs on British streets.”

But in fact the Taliban had outlawed the cultivation of poppies in May of 2000, and by the time of the U.S./NATO attack and invasion of Afghanistan the drug trade in Afghanistan had almost completely disappeared.18

As soon as the Taliban were overthrown the growing of poppies and production of heroin and opium surged, such that record amounts are produced almost every year, and Afghanistan has become the world’s primary supplier of these drugs. Production of heroin by Afghan farmers rose between 2001 and 2012 from just 185 tons to a staggering 5,800 tons. Ninety per cent of the heroin sold on Britain’s streets today is made using opium from Afghanistan, and after twelve years of U.S. occupation, heroin and opium now account for about half of Afghanistan’s GDP.19

Well over one million Afghans were killed in the Soviet-Afghan war, along with over four million injured. More than five million refugees fled the country during that war, and two million were internally displaced. 20 400,000 more died in the civil war, and 40,000 have died during the U.S. occupation.21 30 years of war combined with 250 years of manipulation by foreign powers have left Afghanistan one of the poorest and most ecologically damaged countries in the world.22

Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience. Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running and robbing the country. That’s our problem. Historian Howard Zinn

Dana Visalli is an ecologist and organic farmer living in Twisp, Washington. Contact him at [email protected] See also Afghanistan, Ecology and the End of War http://www.globalresearch.ca/afghanistan-ecology-and-the-end-of-war/5326749 and US Occupation Forces in Afghanistan: Incompetent, Irreverent, and Irrelevant http://www.globalresearch.ca/american-military-field-operations-us-occupation-forces-in-afghanistan/5327210

Notes

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opium_Wars

2. Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story, Paul Fitzgerald & Elizabeth Gould, 2009, pg 34

3. Ibid, pg 38

4. Ibid, pg 45

5. Ibid, pg 54

6. Ibid, pg 60

7. Ibid, pg 63

8. Ibid, pg 62

9. Ibid, pg 63

10. Ibid, pg 65 11. Ibid, pg 94

12. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kandahar_International_Airport

13. http://original.antiwar.com/james-lucas/2010/03/05/americas-nation-destroying-mission-in-afghanistan/

14. Interview with Zbigniew Brezinski”. Le Nouvel Observateur. Jan. 15, 1998

15. Milton Bearden, “ Afghanistan Graveyard of Empires.” Foreign Affairs, November/December 2001.

16. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_relations_of_Afghanistan

17. http://www.cdi.org/terrorism/afghanistan-history-pr.cfm “Lessons from History: U.S. Policy Towards Afghanistan, 1978-2001.” 5 October 2001

18. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2102158/Heroin-production-Afghanistan-RISEN-61.html

19. http://www.unodc.org/pdf/publications/afg_opium_economy_www.pdf

20. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_war_in_Afghanistan#Destruction_in_Afghanistan 21. http://www.scaruffi.com/politics/massacre.html 22. http://www.globalresearch.ca/afghanistan-ecology-and-the-end-of-war/5326749

The Iraq Factor: Secret Memo to Tony Blair

March 22nd, 2013 by Global Research

The leaked government Memo addressed to PM Tony Blair was dated 14 March 2002, one year before the invasion of Iraq.

It was first published by Global Research on June, 14, 2005. It demonstrates the complicity of Tony Blair in building a pretext to wage war on Iraq.

*       *       *

The following Memo addressed to Prime Minister Tony Blair is purported to have been written by Blair’s foreign policy advisor David Manning. It was written in anticipation of PM Blair’s Visit to the Texas Ranch.

It indicates that now-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was committed to “regime change” in early 2002. It also outlines some problems a postwar Iraq might face. The document is presented as transcribed by the “Raw Story”

SECRET – STRICTLY PERSONAL

FROM: DAVID MANNING DATE: 14 MARCH 2002

CC: JONATHAN POWELL

PRIME MINISTER

YOUR TRIP TO THE US

I had dinner with Condi [Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice] on Tuesday; and talks and lunch with her and an NSC team on Wednesday (to which Christopher Meyer also came). These were good exchanges, and particularly frank when we were one-on-one at dinner. I attach the records in case you want to glance.

IRAQ

We spent a long time at dinner on IRAQ. It is clear that Bush is grateful for your support and has registered that you are getting flak. I said that you would not budge in your support for regime change but you had to manage a press, a Parliament and a public opinion that was very different than anything in the States. And you would not budge either in your insistence that, if we need pursued regime change, it must be very carefully done and produce the right result. Failure was not an option.

Condi’s enthusiasm for regime change is undimmed. But there were some signs, since we last spoke, of greater awareness of the practical difficulties and political risks. (See the attached piece by Seymour Hersh which Christopher Meyer says gives a pretty accurate picture of the uncertain state of the debate in Washington.)

From what she said, Bush has yet to find the answers to the big questions:

  • how to persuade international opinion that military action against Iraq is necessary and justified;
  • what value to put on the exiled Iraqi opposition;
  • how to coordinate a US/allied military campaign with internal opposition (assuming there is any);
  • what happens on the morning after?

Bush will want to pick your brains. He will also want to hear whether he can expect coalition support. I told Condi that we realized that the Administration could go it alone if it chose. But if it wanted company, it would have to take account of the concerns of its potential coalition partners. In particular:

  • the UN dimension. The issue of the weapons inspectors must be handled in a way that would persuade European and wider opinion that the US was conscious of the international framework, and the insistence of many countries on the need for a legal base. Renwed refused by Saddam to accept unfettered inspections would be a powerful argument;
  • the paramount importance of tackling Israel/Palestine. Unless we did, we could find ourselves bombing Iraq and losing the Gulf.

YOUR VISIT TO THE RANCH

No doubt we need to keep a sense of perspective. But my talks with Condi convinced me that Bush wants to hear you views on Iraq before taking decisions. [sic] He also wants your support. He is still smarting from the comments by other European leaders on his Iraq policy.

This gives you real influence: on the public relations strategy; on the UN and weapons inspections; and on US planning for any military campaign. This could be critically important. I think there is a real risk that the Administration underestimates the difficulties. They may agree that failure isn’t an option, but this really does not mean that they will avoid it.

Will the Sunni majority really respond to an uprising led by Kurds and Shias? Will Americans really put in enough ground troops to do the job if the Kurdish/Shi’ite stratagem fails? Even if they do will they be willing to take the sort of casualties that the Republican Guard may inflict on them if it turns out to be an urban war, and Iraqi troops don’t conveniently collapse in a heap as Richard Perle and others confidently predict? They need to answer these and other tough questions, in a more convincing way than they have so far before concluding that they can do the business.

The talks at the ranch will also give you the chance to push Bush on the Middle East. The Iraq factor means that there may never be a better opportunity to [sic] get this Administration to give sustained attention to reviving the MEPP. [Middle East Peace Process]

DAVID MANNING

Civilians in an occupied country have no obligation of loyalty towards the Occupying Power regardless of the motives of the invading forces.

*       *      *

For PART I of this study see:

2003-2013: Iraqi Resistance, America’s “Dirty War” and the Remaking of the Middle East  By Dirk Adriaensens, March 16, 2013

 

1. Eliminating the Iraqi Middle Class [1]

Running parallel with the massive corruption and destruction of Iraq’s infrastructure, including electricity, potable water and sewage systems, merciless repression led to the mass forced displacement of the bulk of Iraq’s educated middle class — the main engine of progress and development in modern states. Iraq’s intellectual and technical class has been subject to a systematic and on-going campaign of intimidation, abduction, extortion, random killings and targeted assassinations. The decimation of professional ranks took place in the context of a generalized assault on Iraq’s professional middle class, including doctors, engineers, lawyers, judges as well as political and religious leaders. Let’s have a closer look.

More than 100 university professors have been abducted.[2] The ministry has almost lost hope for the return of those who had been abducted and the violence targeting Iraqi universities has terrorized faculty members. Former Minister of Higher Education Abduldhiyab al-Aujaili said that the rising violence has forced ‘thousands’ of Iraqi professors to flee the country. An estimated 331 schoolteachers were slain in the first four months of 2006, according to Human Rights Watch, and at least 2,000 Iraqi doctors have been killed and 250 kidnapped since the 2003 U.S. invasion, and 180 teachers were killed between February and November 2006, according to the Brookings Institute in Washington.[3]

The International Medical Corps reports that populations of teachers in Baghdad have fallen by 80% and medical personnel seem to have left in disproportionate numbers. Roughly 40% of Iraq’s middle class is believed to have fled by the end of 2006, the U.N. said.[4] Most are fleeing systematic persecution and have no desire to return. Of the 34,000 medical doctors in Iraq, 18.000 have fled the country and 2.000 have been killed.[5]Up to 75 % of Iraq’s doctors, pharmacists and nurses have left their jobs since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. More than half of those have emigrated, according to a Medact report of 16 Jan 2008.[6]

The number of prominent Iraqi academics and professionals who fled the country are approaching 20,000. Of the 6700 Iraqi professors who have fled since 2003, the Los Angeles Times reported in October 2008 that only 150 of them had returned[7].

The Iraqi minister of education said that 296 members of education staff were killed in 2005 alone.[8] According to the UN office for humanitarian affairs 180 teachers have been killed since 2006 until March 2007, up to 100 have been kidnapped and over 3,250 have fled the country. The BRussells Tribunal’s list of murdered Iraqi academics contains 464 names until 01 November 2011.[9]

Hundreds of legal workers have left the country. At least 210 lawyers and judges killed since the US-led invasion in 2003, in addition to dozens injured in attacks against them.[10] More than 250 oil ministry officials, including senior officials, engineers, experts and technicians have been assassinated since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003, an Iraqi oil ministry spokesman said on 23 July 2006.[11] Many of “Iraq’s native oil professionals,” who heroically patched up and held together a broken system in the years after the first Gulf War, have (along with so many other Iraqi professionals) fled the country. The Wall Street Journal in 2006 called this flight a ‘petroleum exodus (…) and said that now most of the [oil] engineers in Iraq are from Texas and Oklahoma.[12]

Since 2007 bombings at Al Mustansiriya University in Baghdad have killed or maimed more than 335 students and staff members, according to a 19 Oct 2009 NYT article, and a 12-foot-high blast wall has been built around the campus.[13]

The director of the United Nations University International Leadership Institute published a report on 27 April 2005 detailing that since the start of the war of 2003 some 84% of Iraq’s higher education institutions have been burnt, looted or destroyed.[14] Between March 2003 and October 2008, 31,598 violent attacks against educational institutions were reported in Iraq, according to the Iraqi Ministry of Education.[15]

The effort to rebuild Iraq’s infrastructure, including schools and higher education institutions, have been plagued by shoddy construction, corruption and diverting funds to “security”. The rapidly deteriorating conditions and a complete failure to establish a functioning education system has produced a spiralling dropout rate of almost 50%.

Violence since the U.S.-led invasion has driven thousands of students away, with enrolment off by more than half at some universities in 2006 alone, officials said. Universities in other parts of the country are open, but have become deserted. (Washington Post 18/01/2007)

On 3 July 2011 it was reported that the Ministry of Health discovered that 17 people who practiced medicine in Iraqi hospitals had presented forged medical degrees during interviews for their employment. The doctors have been sacked but the incidence shows how easy it has become in Iraq to fake documents and university degrees.[16] It was also recently reported that fake pharmacies plague Iraq[17].

A recent rash of small fires inside the offices of various ministries and government buildings in Baghdad would normally have security forces on the lookout for an arsonist, or checking into the possibility of faulty electric wiring. However, in this case, the fires appear to have more to do with the work of the Iraqi parliament’s Commission on Integrity (CoI), an independent body responsible for uncovering corruption at all levels of Iraqi government. On July 4 2011, a blaze started in the certificates office of the Ministry of Higher Education. In March 2011, the CoI announced that as many as 20,000 people currently employed by the state may have acquired their jobs on the basis of forged educational qualifications.

Additionally, the CoI reported, the forgeries do not appear confined to junior staff, but have also been used by high-ranking government members.[18] Iraqi Newspaper Azzaman reported on 8 October 2011 that “More than 30,000 Iraqi civil servants, among them high-level officials, have obtained their jobs on fake certificates and degrees, according to the parliamentary commission on integrity and transparency.”[19]

A variety of sources indicate that fake diplomas and educational certificates have been trading at anywhere from $1,500 and $7,000. Officials at Iraq’s ministry of higher education have been singled out for blame, the ministry having also licensed a string of shadowy universities in recent years.[20] There are around nineteen thousand fake functional degrees, at the ministries of interior and defense alone, the Chairman of Security and Defense Committee of House, Hassan Sinead revealed on 21 June 2011.[21] Corruption, grade buying and fraudulent degrees are rampant in Iraq today, posing a serious threat to the country’s development.[22]

On the early morning of 31 July 2011, a group of unknown armed men assassinated the Director-General of Administration in Iraq’s Ministry of Higher Education & Scientific Research—Dawood Salman Rahim and his son, Hassanein—as they drove in their car in west Baghdad’s Ghazaliya district.[23] Dr Rahim told his friends that he might get killed because he refused a request of Ali Al-Adeeb, the high education minister, to equate the Shia Hawza religion certificates with the Scientific PhD certificates. Dr Rahim asked the minister to give him a written authorisation to do so. The minister threatened him to force his collaboration in this issue. Security officers of the Ministry raided his house two days before his assassination, and took his car registration certificate, and his rationing ticket. He was assassinated by silencer gun two days after the raid.

Recently it became known that even Ali Al-Adeeb’s diploma has been forged. His diploma certificate was issued on 30-09-2010, after his appointment as minister, and it shows that he had graduated from the College of Education/Baghdad University on 30-06-1965, meaning he was 19 years old, (he was born in 1946) and this is impossible in Iraq.

The President of Tikrit University resigned on 14 October 2011 because of the sacking of 300 university lecturers by Ali Al-Adeeb. The President of the University stated that they were all some of the best lecturers. It is estimated that the Minister of Higher Education has discharged some 1.200 lecturers since he became a Minister. Ali Al-Adeeb also wanted to impose Islamic law in Iraqi universities through the imposition of sectarianism and the veil and the separation of the sexes, leading to discontent in university circles.

Although Iraqi academics continue to face threats, Abduldhiyab al-Aujaili, Iraq’s previous Minister of Higher Education, said on 29 September 2010that the security situation in his country has improved considerably, and asked Iraqi academics to please consider returning home[24]. Prof. Saad Naji Jawad who served Baghdad University for over 31 years—and lived in Iraq through the Iraq-Iran war, the inhuman sanctions, and six years of occupation—challenges this view:

In the past four months, a dozen people working in the ministry itself, under the direct administration of the minister or in his own office, were either murdered by killers using silencer pistols or were disabled by bombs stuck to their cars. Could the minister tell us what he did to find the murderers who committed these crimes? What protection did he provide for these employees to prevent their brutal liquidation? I am only mentioning the most recent incidents, in which I lost two of my very good friends and colleagues. I do not need to remind the minister that a few years ago, an entire department in his ministry was attacked and 150 employees were abducted by people wearing police and army uniforms and driving government cars. He could not save a single person. They were all murdered, cut to pieces, and thrown in the streets in closed boxes. In that incident I also lost two of my colleagues.[25]

To this date, there has been no systematic investigation of this phenomenon of terrorization of the professional middle class by the occupation authorities. Not a single arrest has been reported. This is consistent with the occupation powers’ more general role in the decapitation of Iraqi society. Bremer’s de-Ba’athification policy has not only removed professional leadership cadres in the political, economic and military spheres, but also the educational and cultural spheres, with alarming consequences. According to documents of the Iraqi Resistance 169.000 members of the formerly ruling Baath Party have been killed. Thousands more left the country. The end result of the purge of Baathists has been the almost complete and quite deliberate deconstruction of Iraq’s human capital.

The Iraq War has also suffered the heaviest death toll for the media since World War II. At least 341 Iraqi and 30 non-Iraqi media professionals have died under US occupation until 01 November 2011[26]. Free expression and media freedom are absent because of legislative measures, other restrictive barriers, and a climate making Iraq one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists. Assailants bomb their bureaus and kill them. Media workers also have to contend with “emboldened Iraqi and Kurdish security forces and their respective image-conscious central and regional political leaders.” As a result, they’re harassed, intimidated, threatened, arrested, physically assaulted and killed by security forces attached to government institutions and political parties. Moreover, senior politicians often sue journalists and their publications for unflattering articles or whatever else they dislike.[27] On 20 March 2008, Reporters Without Borders reported that hundreds of journalists were forced into exile since the start of US-led invasion. The message is clear: don’t report about the daily atrocities taking place in Iraq, don’t dig deeper into the dark dungeons of the dirty war, don’t criticize our policy, or we’ll harass, torture and kill you. The British watchdog Medialens mentioned that a study of deaths in Guatemala from 1960 to 1996 found that numbers of murders reported by the media actually decreased as violence increased, coinciding with the killing of journalists.[28]

2. On Sectarianism

Arabs make up 80% of the Iraqi population, and 95% of those are Muslims. Since the independence of Iraq in 1920 until 2003, Iraq never had any sectarian conflict, unlike Lebanon or other countries that have sectarian difficulties. Of the different prime ministers who took office between 1920 and 2003, 8 were Shia and 4 were Kurds. Out of 18 military chiefs of staff, 8 were Kurds. As for the Baath party itself, the majority of the members were Shia. Out of 55 people on the wanted list that the occupying authority published, 31 were Shia.

“Although the Shias had been underrepresented in government posts in the period of the monarchy, they made substantial progress in the educational, business, and legal fields. Their advancement in other areas, such as the opposition parties, was such that in the years from 1952 to 1963, before the Baath Party came to power, Shias held the majority of party leadership posts. Observers believed that in the late 1980s Shias were represented at all levels of the party roughly in proportion to government estimates of their numbers in the population. For example, of the eight top Iraqi leaders who in early 1988 sat with Hussein on the Revolutionary Command Council-Iraq’s highest governing body- three were Arab Shias (of whom one had served as Minister of Interior), three were Arab Sunnis, one was an Arab Christian, and one a Kurd. On the Regional Command Council-the ruling body of the party-Shias actually predominated. During the war, a number of highly competent Shia officers have been promoted to corps commanders. The general who turned back the initial Iranian invasions of Iraq in 1982 was a Shia.”[29]

Iraq commentator Reidar Visser refers to the “selective de-Ba’athification” process being pursued in Iraq, given that historically, he notes, the Shias and Sunnis alike co-operated with the old regime in their millions.

“More fundamentally, the question of “selective de-Ba’athification” comes on the agenda here in a big way. It is a historical fact that Shiites and Sunnis alike cooperated with the old regime in their millions, and it was for example Shiite tribes that cracked down on the “Shiite” rebellion in the south in 1991. Nonetheless, the exiles who returned to Iraq after 2003 have tried to impose an artificial narrative in which the legacy of pragmatic cooperation with the Baathist regime is not dealt with in a systematic and neutral fashion as such; instead one singles out political opponents (often Sunnis) as “Baathists” and silently co-opt political friends (especially if they happen to be Shiites) without mentioning their Baathist ties at all. The result is a hypocritical and sectarian approach to the whole question of de-Ba’athification that will create a new Iraq on shaky foundations. (For example, the Sadrists have been in the lead in the aggressive de-Ba’athification campaign, yet it is well known that many Sadrists in fact had Baathist ties in the past.)”[30]

So what the occupying authority was practicing in Iraq was something new: Ethnic cleansing, a divide and rule strategy. They started supporting Shia against Sunnis, and Sunnis against Shia, and now they are harvesting what they have planted. “Through the constant insistence of American war propaganda, Saddam is now representative of all Sunni Arabs (never mind that most of his government were Shia).” the Iraqi blogger Riverbend wrote in 2006.[31]

Craig Murray, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, wrote in October of 2006:

The evidence that the US directly contributed to the creation of the current civil war in Iraq by its own secretive security strategy is compelling. Historically of course this is nothing new — divide and rule is a strategy for colonial powers that has stood the test of time. Indeed, it was used in the previous British occupation of Iraq around 85 years ago.”[32]

3. To Exist is to Resist

Iraqis are a very proud people. My first visit to Iraq was in July 1992, leading a delegation invited by the General Federation of Iraqi Women. It was one year after operation Desert Storm that had “bombed Iraq back into the Stone Age”, as US Commander Gen. Schwartzkopf put it. During the “Desert Storm” bombing campaign in 1991, power plants and power lines were for 91% destroyed: 95 power stations and all power lines of 400,000 and 135,000 volts. The oil supply had totally stopped: the oil fields of Kirkuk in the north and Rumaila in the south, refineries, pumping stations, oil terminals for export in Um Qasr and Fao: all eliminated. Iraqis were able to restore electricity within 6 months. The reconstruction campaign following the end of hostilities in March 1991 was an achievement of staggering proportions. It was a miracle of organisation and solidarity, taking into account that Iraq was submitted to the harshest sanction in the history of mankind. The reconstruction campaign showed the defiance of the Iraqi people for the attempts to enslave them. All these reconstruction efforts were exhibited in a large old Ottoman building on the banks of the Tigris. It was called the “Museum of Resistance”. Spread over two floors, models were displayed showing the destruction and reconstruction of bridges, mosques, schools, factories, refineries, telecommunication centers etc. All this had been done in one year. Baghdad had electricity then, despite the sanctions, while now, after 8 years of liberation, Iraq’s capital, home to more than six million people, hardly gets one hour of non-interrupted electricity supplies every 24 hours.[33]

All the achievements of the reconstruction campaign after 1991 have been erased from the history books.

In a French-Iraqi cultural centre in Baghdad was a poster on the wall: “Plutôt mourir debout que vivre à genoux”, that can be translated as “It’s better to die on ones feet than to live on ones knees”. It is a quote by Emiliano Zapata who was a leading figure in the Mexican Revolution, which broke out in 1910. Iraqis were proud that they could keep their independence, even if the effects of the UN imposed embargo were devastating. Then I realised that no foreign power could succeed in peacefully occupying the country for a long period. Before the Iraq war, at a meeting of the Arab League, Secretary General Amr Moussa famously said that a U.S. war on Iraq would ‘open the gates of hell’. And so it happened. The US invaders were not greeted with flowers in 2003. The regular Iraqi army was quickly disbanded by the occupying Forces. The resistance against the invasion and foreign occupation began shortly after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, when the officers of the Iraqi Army melted into the population and started a guerrilla war. From at least 2004, and as of May 2007, the insurgency primarily targeted Coalition armies and later also the Iraqi security forces, seen as collaborators with the coalition. During this period, only 10% of significant attacks have targeted Iraqi civilians[34]. According to a February–March 2007 poll, 51% of the Iraqi population approve of the attacks on Coalition forces[35]. The same poll indicated that over 90% of Arab Sunnis in Iraq approve of the attacks. The same poll revealed that the number of Iraqis who say their own life is going well has dipped from 71 % in November 2005 to 39 % in 2007. About three-fourths of Iraqis reported feelings of anger, depression and difficulty concentrating. Only 18 % of Iraqis had confidence in U.S. and coalition troops, and 86 % were concerned that someone in their household will be a victim of violence.

Civilians in an occupied country have no obligation of loyalty towards the Occupying Power regardless of the motives of the invading forces. The only obligations they have relate to their civilian status: civilians are protected by applicable human rights law as well as by Geneva Convention IV relating to civilians and the provisions relating to civilians in Protocol Additional I. A civilian who takes up arms against the Occupying Power loses rights as a civilian, but takes on the rights and obligations of combatant forces. This is the situation of the classic levee en masse: the Geneva Conventions recognize the combatant status of persons who spontaneously take up arms on the approach of the enemy.

This rule is augmented by the principle of self-determination: under the law of self-determination, a people have the right to resist, with force if necessary, an alien or foreign occupier. The fact that some of the people resisting the U.S./British occupation of Iraq were not part of the pre-invasion Iraqi armed forces is not relevant, as persons who were civilians can take up arms as insurgents against any occupier. As protected combatants they have the right to take up arms against the Occupying Power and cannot be criminally charged except for acts that violate the laws and customs of war. The reason for this rule is obvious: were civilians who spontaneously take up arms and organize themselves into defense forces to be considered “terrorists” instead of combatants, this would mean that persons under attack from a foreign or oppressive force would not be able to fight back and resist without being considered terrorist.

The U.S. administration has generally succeeded in its political rhetoric on the issue: practically no U.S. politicians and very few scholars in NGOs in the U.S. have challenged the false labelling of the Iraq resistance as “terrorist.[36]

To illustrate the change in discourse from “resistance” to “terrorist” in recent wars here is an example. Colombian Father Camilo Torres Restrepo was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1954, and continued to study for some years at the Catholic University of Leuven (Louvain) in Belgium, the town where I was born. When he returned to Colombia, he increasingly felt obliged to actively support the cause of the poor. Camilo Torres believed that in order to secure justice for the people, Christians had a duty to use not only non-violent but also violent action, when confronted with the violence of state actors. He was a co-founder of the Sociology Faculty of the National University of Colombia in 1960. His involvement in several student and political movements during the time won him a large following. Camilo Torres was persecuted and went into hiding (leaving his job as an academic) by joining the guerrillas in Colombia. He was killed on 15 February 1966 when the ELN ambushed a Colombian Military patrol. After his death, Camilo Torres was made an official martyr of the ELN.

He is perhaps best known for the quote: “If Jesus were alive today, He would be a guerrillero.”

After his death, a university residence in Leuven was named after him.

Today, according to mainstream discourse, freedom fighters in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Palestine, are no longer called “resistance”, they are now terrorists. No Western university institution will be named after former Iraqi students when they decide to help their people to free themselves from the US crusaders. Anti-war movements nowadays have difficulties to support the resistances in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Palestine, while the imperialist attitude and extreme use of violence of the US Armed Forces and the resistance against attacks on national sovereignty have remained the same, from Vietnam to Afghanistan, from El Salvador to Iraq.

The graph below shows that 75% of the recorded attacks, (here based on the quarterly reviews to congress only) was directed at the occupation forces directly, and further 17% at the Iraqi government forces. The remaining, 8% was directed at unspecified civilian targets. It is these incidents that are covered by the media.

The official Iraqi government security forces numbers had been steadily rising and in March 2007 stood at about 330 000. In March 2011, the number reached 670.000. They often used to act as forward or guard units for the occupation forces. Further: the attacks on “civilians” could be aimed at government officials, translators, at the contractors (mercenaries) who operate in civilian clothes and are often based in civilian areas. The official US estimates were 100,000 private contractors in Iraq in 2007. Other civilian targets could have been the Facility Protection Forces, whose number was estimated by the government at 150 000, or at real civilians, who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Word on the Iraqi street is that attacks on real civilians are the work of occupation agents, a version of events that is at least as credible as the mainstream story of mad fanatics attacking each other[37].

The figure below[38] gives the geographic distribution of the resistance attacks by Province. The frequent clashes in most southern provinces seem not included. This may indicate that the figures used refer only to resistance actions. It must be noted that the 800 km supply route from Kuwait to Baghdad through several southern provinces is the most heavily protected one in the world, with massive funds paid to contractors, ‘tribes’ and local militias.

 

It is important to note that car bombs and other suicide attacks never consisted of more than a tiny fraction of all attacks. And 90% of the suicide bomb attacks carried out in Iraq are done by foreign nationals, affiliated with Al Qaeda, and not by the resistance, as the following graph shows.[39] If we believe the mainstream media, The US and Iraqi military are fighting this organisation because it is responsible for the major bulk of attacks against the military and the bombing attacks against the civilian population. But Military officials told the New York Times that of the roughly 24,500 prisoners in U.S. detention facilities in Iraq (nearly all of whom are Sunni), just 1,800 claim allegiance to al-Qaeda in Iraq[40]. Moreover, the composition of inmates does not support the assumption that large numbers of foreign terrorists, long believed to be the leaders and most hard-core elements of AQI, are operating inside Iraq. In August 2007, American forces held in custody 280 foreign nationals—slightly more than 1% of total inmates[41].

The State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) estimated that AQI’s membership was in a range of “more than 1,000.” Compared with the military’s estimate for the total size of the resistance—between 20,000 and 30,000 full-time fighters—this figure puts AQI forces at around 5 %. When compared with Iraqi intelligence’s much larger estimates of the insurgency—200,000 fighters—INR’s estimate would put AQI forces at less than 1%.

Malcolm Nance, the author of The Terrorists of Iraq and a twenty-year intelligence veteran and Arabic speaker who has worked with military and intelligence units tracking al-Qaeda inside Iraq believes AQI includes about 850 full-time fighters, comprising 2% to 5% of the Sunni insurgency. “Al-Qaeda in Iraqis a microscopic terrorist organization” according to Nance.”[42] According to General Buchanan, there are 800 to 1,000 people in Al Qaeda’s Iraq network, “from terrorists involved in operations to media to finance to fighters.” A document released by the military in July 2010 said Al Qaeda had about 200 “hard core” fighters in Iraq.[43]

 

Many Iraqis themselves have alleged that US and British troops have been behind the suicide bombings. There were eyewitness accounts from Iraqis that US agents secretly planted explosives in their cars or trucks while they were being detained or controlled at military checkpoints and then sent on their way to turn them into unwitting suicide bombers; statements from Iraqi police officers who arrested two plainclothes British soldiers on allegations they were planting bombs around the city — the two were shortly freed from prison by British troops backed by tanks; and mass protests by Iraqis in Baghdad and other cities claiming the occupation is behind terrorist acts, like the destruction of the Askariya Shrine in Samarra in February 2006, which sparked ethnic tensions. The available information suggests that the US is encouraging or even orchestrating the terrorist bombings against civilians, sectarian bloodshed, ethnic cleansing, and the waves of abductions and extrajudicial killings.[44]

The graph below shows that the average number of attacks by June 2007 had increased to about 185 per day. That is 1300 per week, and over 5500 attacks per month. Another way of understanding this is that in any one hour, day and night, there were 7-8 new mortar attack, Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) such as roadside bombs, sniper fire, etc. From mid 2007 the daily attacks decreased, coinciding with the extreme repression by US sponsored death squads and sectarian Government militia’s.

ENEMY-INITIATED ATTACKS AGAINST THE COALITION AND ITS PARTNERS[45]

The next graph shows the resistance attacks against the “Coalition and its Partners” from January 2004 until July 2010 by the methods used. More recent statistics are not available[46].

The fact that well over 100,000 attacks have been carried out by the Iraqi resistance against the U.S. occupation forces in the first four years of the occupation (currently about 200 per week) should be enough to indicate the steadfastness, strength, and popularity of the resistance. The frequency and intensity of these attacks would be inconceivable without a certain level of inter-organizational political unity, coordination and cooperation. Further, it would be impossible to fight a guerrilla war of this scope without the broad support and involvement of millions of ordinary Iraqis.[47]

John Pilger, award winning documentary filmmaker, explained on New Year’s eve 2003-2004 why the resistance in Iraq is so important and should be supported: “I think the resistance in Iraq is incredibly important for all of us. I think that we depend on the resistance to win, so that other countries might not be attacked, so that our world in a sense becomes more secure. Now, I don’t like resistances that produce the kind of terrible civilian atrocities that this one has, but that is true for all resistances. And this one is a resistance against a rapacious power, that if it is not stopped in Iraq will go on to North Korea where Mr. Cheney and others are chomping at the bit to have a crack at that country. So, what the outcome of this resistance is, is terribly important for the rest of the world. I think if the United States’ military machine and the Bush administration can suffer a defeat in Iraq, they could be stopped.” [48]

We owe the Iraqi resistance our full support. Thanks to their struggle they managed to keep the US army inside the borders of Iraq for many years. Thanks to the Iraqi armed resistance, other countries, especially in Latin America, obtained space to breathe, and many independent governments came to power during that period, including Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua. Let’s not forget that the neoconservative plan was to wage 7 wars in 5 years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Iran.[49] The onslaught of Libya was already planned way back. The fierce heroic Iraqi resistance has forced the US to postpone its plans, but Obama is realizing those plans now, apparently.

Here are excerpts of a video message of the media platoon of the Islamic Jihad Army on 10 December 2004[50], explaining the motives of the Iraqi resistance:

We are simple people who chose principles over fear.

It is our duty, as well as our right, to fight back the occupying forces, which their nations will be held morally and economically responsible for what their elected governments have destroyed and stolen from our land.

We have not crossed the oceans and seas to occupy Britain or the U.S. nor are we responsible for 9/11. These are only a few of the lies that these criminals present to cover their true plans for the control of the energy resources of the world, in face of a growing China and a strong unified Europe. It is Ironic that the Iraqi’s are to bear the full face of this large and growing conflict on behalf of the rest of this sleeping world.

Educate those in doubt of the true nature of this conflict and do not believe their media for their casualties are far higher than they admit.

We only wish we had more cameras to show the world their true defeat.

The enemy is on the run. They are in fear of a resistance movement they cannot see nor predict.

We now choose when, where, and how to strike.

We do not require arms or fighters, for we have plenty.

We ask you to form a world wide front against war and sanctions.

We will pin them here in Iraq to drain their resources, manpower, and their will to fight. We will make them spend as much as they steal, if not more.

We will disrupt, then halt the flow of our stolen oil, thus, rendering their plans useless.

The Iraqi resistance does not attack civilians. To the contrary, they protect the civilian population against raids and attacks on their houses and neighbourhoods by occupation forces and militias as shown in the following lines, written on 18 October 2006 by a well-informed person who lived in Baghdad[51].

Everything says we are facing a very difficult time in the next few months, violence is surrounding us from all sides. Movement on the highways to and from Baghdad is becoming extremely dangerous, and of course inside Baghdad. People disappear, get kidnapped or killed on the highways. Death squads and criminal gangs control them; only the resistance is protecting the individuals and the communities… The government is part of the killing sides (…) The streets are full of people with strange accent(…) I hear a big explosion now(…)They began artillery bombing of different parts of Baghdad, between districts of different sectarian groups (…) An eye witness from Ghazaliya said that the American troops started the bombing, and then an Iraqi doer continues. The political players are using their militias on both sides. It is very important to notice that the resistance is never mentioned within the sectarian classifications“.

The Iraqi resistance distances itself from terrorist actions against civilians. They have often expressed their aversion to terrorism. One such example is the head of the Shura Council in Fallujah, Abdullah Janabi, who issued a statement on 21 September 2004 calling Zarqawi a “criminal”. “We don’t need Zarqawi to defend our city,” said Janabi, who sought to draw a distinction between what he called “Iraqi resistance fighters” and foreign fighters engaged in a campaign against Iraq’s infrastructure, foreign civilians and Iraqi security forces. “The Iraqi resistance is something and the terrorism is something else. We don’t kidnap journalists and we don’t sabotage the oil pipelines and the electric power stations. We don’t kill innocent Iraqis. We resist the occupation.”[52]

On 12 April 2007, Haifa Zangana explained:

Occupation has no room left for any initiative independent of the officially sanctioned political process; for a peaceful opposition or civil society that could create networks to bridge the politically manufactured divide. Only the mosque can fulfil this role. In the absence of the state, some mosques provide basic services, running clinics or schools. In addition to the call to prayer, their loudspeakers warn people of impending attacks or to appeal for blood donors.

But these attempts to sustain a sense of community are regularly crushed. Troops from the Iraqi army, supported by US helicopters, raided a mosque in the heart of old Baghdad. The well-respected muazzin Abu Saif and another civilian were executed in public. Local people were outraged and attacked the troops. At the end of the day, 34 people had been killed, including a number of women and children. As usual, the summary execution and the massacre that followed were blamed on insurgents. The military statement said US and Iraqi forces were continuing to “locate, identify, and engage and kill insurgents targeting coalition and Iraqi security forces in the area”.

It is important to recognise that the resistance was born not only of ideological, religious and patriotic convictions, but also as a response to the reality of the brutal actions of the occupation and its administration. It is a response to arbitrary break-ins, humiliating searches, arrests, detention and torture.[53]

The resistance groups and movements are many and there is no unified command. The advantage of this situation is explained by Sheikh Bashar Mohammed Al Faidhi, official spokesperson of AMSI: “The US can not destroy the resistance because they don’t know who they fight against. There are too many groups, too many leaders. Let’s not underestimate US intelligence. With a unified leadership and command it would be much easier to defeat the resistance.”

Over the years the Iraqi resistance has developed from hundreds of smaller organizations to a handful of large, powerful political and military fronts. This is very much an ongoing process: in July 2007 the formation of the Patriotic National Islamic Front for the Liberation of Iraq was announced.[54] This marked yet another major advance in the unification of the Iraqi resistance. It will take some time to form a single, unified political and military command for all of the Iraqi resistance, but its formation is question of when, not if.

Early May 2007 the Jihad and Change Front was formed, including:

1920 Revolution Brigades, The Rashideen Army, The Army of Muslims in Iraq, The Islamic Movement of Iraqi Mujahedeen, Jund Al-Rahman Brigades in Iraq, Da’wah and Ribat Brigades, Al Tamkeen Brigades, Muhammad al Fatih Brigades, The Army of Tabeeyn, Jihad Army, Asaib al Iraq al Jihadiyyah, The Army of Mujahideen Murabiteen, The Army of Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal

The statement of the resistance factions confirmed that they empowered Secretary General of the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq (AMSI) Sheikh Dr.Hareth Sulaiman al Dhari, to speak and negotiate on their behalf in matters related to politics and at all the forums[55]

On 03 October 2007 albasrah.net reported that 22 Iraqi Resistance fighting groups had convened a Unification Congress in a liberated neighbourhood in Baghdad. The Congress also created a Supreme Command of the Jihad and Liberation struggle and it elected ‘Izzat Ibrahim ad-Douri as the Supreme Commander of the Jihad and Liberation.

The Resistance organizations taking part in the founding congress of the Jihad and Liberation organization were: The Army of the Men of the Naqshbandiyah Order, The Army of the Prophet’s Companions, The Army of the Murabiteen, The Army of al-Hamzah, The Army of the Message, The Army of Ibn al-Walid, The United Command of the Mujahideen (Iraq), The Liberation Brigades, The Army of al-Mustafa, The Army of the Liberation of Iraq, Squadrons of the Martyrs, The Army of the Sabireen, The Brigades of the Jihad in the Land of the Two Rivers, The army of the Knight for the Liberation of the [Kurdish] Self-Rule Area, Squadrons of the Jihad in al-Basrah, Jihadist Squadrons of al-Fallujah, The Patriotic Popular Front for the Liberation of Iraq, The Squatrons of the Husayni Revolution of at-Taff, Squadrons of the Liberation of the South, Army of Haneen Squadrons of Diyala for Jihad and Liberation, The Squadrons of Glory for the Liberation of Iraq.[56]

While all of the armed groups joining these fronts reject attacks on civilians, they have no qualms about armed attacks against Iraqi National Police and soldiers, or US and British troops. But aren’t there other, more peaceful ways to try to achieve their aims?

“Peaceful resistance will not end the occupation,” states Abu Ahmad[57]. He’s right. It would be highly hypocritical for peace movements, analysts and commentators to condemn a resistance movement that emerged only in response to the violence unleashed by the Anglo-American invasion. And as we said before: even the U.N. Charter recognizes the “inherent” nature of the right to self-defense against an aggressive war, which the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, following World War II, called “essentially an evil thing…to initiate a war of aggression…is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”[58]

Other anti-occupation groups include the Iraqi National Foundation Congress (INFC), a civil society movement. It was set up following the US-led invasion of Iraq to offer a peaceful protest to the ongoing occupation of the country and press for a united Iraq, and explicitly eschews violence in its methodology. The congress was founded on 8 May 2004 by Sheikh Jawad al-Khalisi. A Shia, Al-Khalisiis the Imam of Al-Khadhimiya mosque in northern Baghdad. The group’s spokesperson is Dr.Wamidh Nadhmi, a senior political scientist at Baghdad University. The membership of the congress is diverse, including woman’s rights groups, religious groups and nationalists. They include Nasserites, leftists and Ba’athists from the era before Saddam, as well as Kurds, Christians, representatives of the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMSI), and Sheikh Khalisi’s own Shia friends and colleagues.

A special attention should be given to the Sadr movement (known as the Mehdi Army), led by Muqtada al-Sadr. Initially they were part of the Iraqi resistance. On April 4 2004, when fighting broke out in Najaf, Sadr City and Basra, Sadr’s Mahdi Army was attacking the coalition forces. During the first siege of Fallujah in late March and April 2004, Muqtada’s Sadrists sent aid convoys to the besieged Sunnis there. But the movement has been accused of many crimes, death squad activities and sectarian killings since the Sadr movement entered the political process in 2006. Muqtada al-Sadr returned to Iraq on 5 January 2011.[59]

Despite playing a major role in the formation of the current Iraqi government, Mr al Sadr had not been seen in the country since 2007. Since then he has been living in Iran, and studying in Qom, a major centre of learning for Shiite Muslims. His anti-occupation rhetoric is often contradictory to the realities on the ground. He remains — especially to Iraq’s Sunni minority — synonymous with the black-clad death squads of 2006-7. Muqtada Al Sadr promotes Shiism in a sectarian way and is lukewarm about aligning himself with the secular Iraqi resistance movement. It is often said that Muqtada is following orders from Iran and wants to turn Iraq into a Shia Islamic state. The meddling of Iran in Iraqi affairs has been well documented. Mr. Mohammad Ali Abtahi, the Iranian President’s deputy for legal and parliamentary affairs (during the “Gulf and future challenges Conference”, organized in Abu Dhabi, January 2004 by Emirate Center for Strategic Researches and Studies) pointed out the role of Iran in the occupation of Iraq. “The fall of Kabul and Baghdad would not have happened easily without the assist of Iran”, Abtahi said, clearly indicating the role of Iranian militias and intelligence in Iraq and Afghanistan.

What about the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP)? Are they part of the Iraqi resistance? No, they are not. From the start of the invasion, the ICP welcomed Saddam Hussein’s removal and was happy that the ousted legal president was to be put on trial. They made a big mistake and lost a lot of credibility among the Iraqi people when instead of leading the National Resistance, they joined the political process from the beginning, when they accepted to be included in the Interim Governing Council (IGC), a body created by the US and largely drawn from prominent Iraqi emigres, many of whom were appointed ministers in the interim government. US occupation officials subsequently said they were happy with the ICP’s behaviour, and their reception grew warmer. This was partly because the ICP – Iraq’s oldest and broadest secular political group – was seen as a potential counterweight to less favoured, conservative Islamist organisations. One American supporter was the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), a private, taxpayer-funded group lead by the former secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, that aims to promote democracy abroad. “At present, the ICP boasts the most significant organisational structure among all the secular parties,” NDI Middle East director Leslie Campbell was quoted as saying in the US media in January 2004.[60] It should be noted however, that the ICP was not in favour of a prolonged stay of the occupation forces in Iraq and that they did not welcome the wholesale privatisation of Iraq’s state-centred economy. But they refused to join the ranks of the resistance. Instead they joined the choir of the occupiers by labelling the armed resistance terrorists instead of freedom fighters.

Despite the sectarian divisions, brought to Iraq by the occupation, the fact remains that the majority of Iraqis favour the unity of Iraq and don’t want the occupation to continue. And they’re not optimistic about the future of their country as the following graph shows:[61]

4. NGOs, Missionaries of the New World Order?

Currently there’s a mushrooming of NGOs that flood the country and concentrate their efforts on improving the hopeless situation of the Iraqi people. Many of these NGOs were involved in the peaceful protests in support of the just demands of the people.

A relevant quote of an article on the website of the NGO Coordination Committee For Iraq (NCCI) makes this clear:

Iraq’s “Arab Spring” highlighted the role of civil society organizations as a major and influential stakeholder, with the potential and capacity to inflict change in a country that continues to build civil reforms.

Between 2003 and 2010, the number of Iraqi NGOs considerably increased and were estimated somewhere in the region of 8000-12000. That said, a formal count and coordination of these NGOs is only beginning to emerge now with the establishment of the New NGO Law, 2010. Despite considerable delays and obstacles within the NGO registration system, the Law is considered one of the best and most liberal NGO laws in the region.

Iraqi civil society organizations not only played a major role in the issuance of the NGO Law itself, but recently they were significantly influential in Iraq’s “Arab Spring”, advocating for democracy and independent media; fighting illiteracy; and combating administrative and financial corruption among others, all of which aim at protecting human rights, especially vulnerable groups. Civil society organizations have as well been a key stakeholder in issuing and pushing for several laws in Iraq.

Iraqi NGOs were among the advocates for demonstrations in Tahrir Square in Baghdad and other cities in February 2011. They have also been present in the streets, participating in demonstrations, and continue to promote a collective voice demanding better standards for the people. They supported the issuance of the Law on Journalists’ Rights in August 9th, 2011, regardless of the debate it triggered among all parties, including civil society. Some came out in strong support of the legislation, while others strongly objected, arguing that freedom of opinion and the press is already guaranteed under Article 36 of the Iraqi Constitution, which provides for freedom of expression, the press, peaceful assembly and demonstration, within the guidelines put forward by the law.[62]

This optimistic prospect implies that the situation in Iraq can be improved through cosmetic operations. But how can democracy be built in a country that is under occupation, since occupation is the highest form of dictatorship?

Back to Basics. The de facto US occupation of Iraq is explicitly prohibited under international law from instituting changes aimed at permanently altering the foundational structures of the Iraqi state, including its judiciary, economy, political institutions and social fabric[63]. Further, and given that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was unequivocally illegal under international law, not only are the US-designed Iraqi permanent constitution and National Assembly illegal, every law, treaty, agreement and contract signed in Iraq since the illegal invasion and subsequent occupation began is illegal. All states are obliged under international law not to recognize as legal the consequences of illegal acts by other states[64].

The occupiers are prohibited under international law from establishing any long-term economic contract that has not been agreed upon by a sovereign Iraqi government representing the sovereign Iraqi people.[65] Since no such government can, by definition, exist under occupation, all attempts to bind the future of Iraqi oil to foreign multinationals — particularly through unfavourable “Product Sharing Agreements” (PSAs) — are illegal and null and void[66].

Denouncing the illegal occupation should be the starting point of any analysis and of all humanitarian work.

NCCI is not about ending the occupation, but about:

Improve coordination amongst the humanitarian community (NGOs, UN and local authorities) to optimise provision of relief, development support and protection to the most vulnerable groups in Iraq; increase NGO Knowledge and capacities to deliver adapted and relevant aid to better meet on-the-ground needs, empower communities and strengthen Civil Society participation in public policy making; improve general information sharing to increase awareness on humanitarian and development concerns for informed and effective response strategies; advocate for humanitarian work, guaranteed access to basic services and lobbying for respect of Human Rights and protection in Iraq[67]

While their work in improving daily life of the most vulnerable groups in Iraq and strengthen Civil Society is very important and should be appreciated, if they accept the illegal situation of foreign occupation and only try to amend the worst excesses of this catastrophic situation, they will be doing the same work as the missionaries in colonial times.

That’s why armed and non-violent resistance are two sides of the same coin, if the starting point is to make an end to the occupation. Both are necessary. One cannot do without the other. “Peaceful resistance will not end the occupation,” Abu Ahmad said earlier, but peaceful resistance can be a very powerful force in the anti-occupation Civil Society. The protest movements of the “Arab Spring” have clearly shown this.

Dirk Adriaensens is coordinator of SOS Iraq and member of the executive committee of the BRussells Tribunal. Between 1992 and 2003 he led several delegations to Iraq to observe the devastating effects of UN imposed sanctions. He was a member of the International Organizing Committee of the World Tribunal on Iraq (2003-2005). He is also co-coordinator of the Global Campaign Against the Assassination of Iraqi Academics. He is co-author of Rendez-Vous in Baghdad, EPO (1994), Cultural Cleansing in Iraq, Pluto Press, London (2010), Beyond Educide, Academia Press, Ghent (2012), and is a frequent contributor to Global Research, Truthout, The International Journal of Contemporary Iraqi Studies and other media.

Notes

[1] Read more about the elimination of the Iraqi Middle Class in Cultural Cleansing in Iraq, by Raymond Baker and Dirk Adriaensens  (Pluto Press, London, ISBN-10: 0745328121, ISBN-13: 978-0745328126)

[6] Dirk Adriaensens in “Cultural Cleansing in Iraq” http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745328126pp 122-123

[8] Zoepf, Katherine, Chronicle of Higher Education, 7/7/2006, Vol. 52, Issue 44 http://www.topsy.org/IraqiAcademics.doc

[27] Stephen Lendman in http://www.uruknet.info/?p=75607

[29] Source: U.S. Library of Congress (1988). http://countrystudies.us/iraq/38.htm

[36] Karen Parker, international humanitarian lawyer: http://www.brussellstribunal.org/resistance.htm#general

[49] See retired US General Wesley Clark, former Commanding General of US European Command: http://www.gilad.co.uk/writings/wes-clark-americas-foreign-policy-coup.html

[63] Articles 43 and 55 of The Hague IV Regulations on Laws and Customs of War on Land, 1907; Articles 54 and 64 of The Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in the Time of War, 1949.

[64] Article 41(2) of the United Nations International Law Commission’s Draft Articles on State Responsibility, representing the rule of customary international law (and adopted in UN General Assembly Resolution 56/83 of 28 January 2002, “Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts”, prevents states from benefiting from their own illegal acts: “No State shall recognize as lawful a situation created by a serious breach [of an obligation arising under a peremptory norm of general international law]”; Section III(e), UN General Assembly Resolution 36/103 of 14 December 1962, “Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention and Interference in the Internal Affairs of States”.

[65] UN General Assembly Resolution 1803 (XVII) of 14 December 1962, “Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources”.

[66] Ian Douglas, Abdul Ilah and Hana Al Bayaty: “Only Resistance is Legal”:

http://www.brussellstribunal.org/ResistanceLegal.htm

O conclave do Vaticano elegeu o Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio como o Papa Francis I

Quem é Jorge Mario Bergoglio?

Em 1973 ele foi nomeado o “provincial” da Argentina para a Companhia dos Jesuitas.

Nessa capacidade Bergoglio foi o mais alto dignitário da Ordem Jesuíta da Argentina durante a ditadura militar liderada pelo General Jorge Videla (1976-1983).

Mais tarde ele foi nomeado bispo e depois arcebispo de Buenos Aires. O Papa João Paulo II o consagrou Cardinal em 2001.

Quando a junta militar abandonou o poder em 1983, o devidamente eleito presidente Raúl Alfonsin abriu um inquérito, a Comissão da Verdade, para investigar os crimes relacionados com que ficou conhecidos como a Guerra Suja – “La Guerra Sucia”.

A junta militar tinha sido encobertamente apoada por Washington.

O Secretário do Estado norteamericano, Henry Kissinger, fez o seu papel nos bastidores do golpe militar de 1976.

O vice-representante mais importante de Kissinger na América Latina, William Rogers, o informou dois dias depois do golpe que “teremos que esperar uma quantia considerável de repressão, provávelmente muita sanguenta, dentro em pouco tempo.”…(Arquivo da Segurança Nacional, 23 de março, 2006)

 

“Operação Condor”

Um grande julgamento foi ironicamente aberto em 5 de março 2013, uma semana antes da investidura do Cardinal Bergoglio como Pontífice. O processo sendo desenvolvido em Buenos Aires tem em vista:

 “uma avaliação da totalidade dos crimes cometidos abaixo da Operação Condor, uma campanha coordenada por vários ditadores da América Latina, apoiados pelos Estados Unidos nos anos de 1970 e 1980, para caçar, torturar e matar dezenas de milhares de oponentes desses regimes militares”

Para mais detalhes veja Operation Condor: Trial On Latin American Rendition and Assassination Program By Carlos Osorio and Peter Kornbluh,,March 10, 2013.

(Foto acima: Henry Kissinger e General Jorge Videla (anos de 1970)

 

NÃO CLASSIFICADO     8/3/76

DEPARTAMENTO DO ESTADO

Washington D.C.

DO:  Secretariado

PARA: ARA – Harry W. Shlaudeman

ARA RELATÓRIO MENSAL( JULHO)

A TERCEIRA GUERRA MUNDIAL E A AMÉRICA LATINA

Os regimes militares do cone sul da América do Sul veêm-se

como tendo que pôr-se em ordem de batalha:

–  de um lado pelo marxismo internacional e seus exponentes terroristas, e

– do outro lado pela hostilidade das democracias industriais que são enganadas pela propaganda marxista.

Em resposta eles estão se unindo no que se poderá tornar num bloco político de uma certa coesão. Mas, mais importante, eles estão juntando forças para erradicar a “subversão”, uma palavra que mais e mais vem se tornando num sinônimo de oposição não-violenta de esquerda, e de centro-esquerda. As forças de segurança do cone sul

–  agora estão a coordenar mais estritamente suas atividades de inteligência;

–  estão também operando nos territórios dos países uns dos outros em busca de “subversivos”;

– eles estabeleceram a Operation Condor para achar e matar terroristas do “Comité Revolucionário de Coordenação” nos seus próprios países, e na Europa. O Brazil está cooperando, mas não em operações homicidas.

 

A junta militar liderada pelo General Jorge Videla (a esquerda) foi responsável por incontáveis assassinatos, incluindo assassinatos de  sacerdotes e freiras que se opuseram ao domínio militar que acompanhou  o golpe patrocinado pela CIA, golpe esse que derrubou  o governo de Isabel Peron,  em 24 de março de 1976.

“Videla estava entre os generais que foram condenados por crimes contra os direitos humanos, crimes esses que incluiam  “desaparecimentos”, tortura, assassinatos, e sequestramentos. Em 1985, Videla foi sentenciado a prisão perpétua, na prisão militar de Magdalena.

Wall Street e a Agenda Econômica Neoliberal

Uma das nomeações mais importantes da junta militar (como consequência das intruções de Wall Street) foi a do Ministro da Economia, José Alfredo Martinez de Hoz, um membro do estabelecimento de negócios, comércio e investimentos da Argentina; um amigo íntimo de David Rockefeller.

O pacote neoliberal da política macro-econômica adotada sob Martinez de Hoz foi uma “cópia-carbono” daquela imposta em outubro de 1973 no Chile pela ditadura de Pinochet abaixo dos conselhos vindos dos “Meninos de Chicago”- “Chicago Boys”; política essa imposta depois do golpe de estado de 11 de setembro de 1973, e do assassinato do presidente Salvador Allende.

Os salários foram imediatamente congelados, por decreto. O poder aquisitivo real no país caiu em colápso por mais de 30 porcento, nos tres meses que se seguiram ao golpe militar de 24 de março de 1976. (Avaliações do autor, Cordoba, Argentina, julho de 1976). A população argentina ficou repentinamente empobrecida.

Abaixo da direçäo do Ministro da Economia José alfredo Martinez de Hoz, a política monetária do banco central foi em grande parte determinada por Wall Street e pelo  FMI, o Fundo Monetário Internacional. O mercado de câmbio foi manipulado. O Peso argentino foi propositadamente posto acima do seu valor real, o que levou a um débito exterior insuperável. Toda a Economia Nacional foi precipitada à falência.

 

 

(Foto acima: Da esquerda para a direita: José Alfredo Martinez de Hoz, David Rockefeller e General Jorge Videla)

Wall Street e a Hierarquia da Igreja Católica  

Wall Street esteve sólidamente apoiando a junta militar que empenhava-se na “Guerra Suja” em benefício da mesma. Por seu turno, a hierarquia da Igreja Católica teve o papel, um papel central, de manter a legitimidade da junta militar.

A Ordem dos Jesuitas  –que representava a Conservadora, mas no entanto a mais influente facção da Igreja Católica-  estava intimamente associada com a elite econômica da Argentina, e isso contra os chamados “de esquerda” do movimento Peronista.

“A Guerra Suja”: Alegações dirigidas contra o Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio

Condenar a ditadura militar (inclusive suas violações dos direitos humanos) era um tabú na Igreja Católica. Enquanto os altos escalões da Igreja apoiavam a junta militar, a base popular da mesma estava firmemente contra a imposição do governo militar.

Em 2005  a advogada de direitos humanos Myriam Bregman entrou com um processo judicial contra o Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, acusando-o de conspirar com a junta militar quando do sequestro de dois padres jesuítas em 1976.

Alguns anos mais tarde, os sobreviventes da “Guerra Suja” acusaram abertamente o Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio de cumplicidade nos sequestros dos padres Francisco Jalics e Orlando Yorio, assim como nos sequestros de seis membros de suas paróquias, (El Mundo, 8 de novembro de 2010)

 

 

(Foto acima: Jorge Mario Bergoglio e General Jorge Videla)

Bergoglio, que na época era o “provincial” da Companhia dos Jesuitas, tinha dado ordens para que os dois padres, jesuitas, “de esquerda”,  e oponentes do governo militar “deixassem seus trabalhos paroquiais”, o que quer dizer que foram despedidos. Isso acompanhando divisões na Companhia dos Jesuitas quanto ao papel da Igreja Católica em relação a junta militar.

Enquanto os dois padres – Francisco Jalics e Orlando Yorio – sequestrados pelos esquadrões da morte em maio de 1976 foram soltos cinco meses mais tarde depois de terem sido torturados; outras seis pessoas relacionadas a paróquia, pessoas essas que também tinham sido sequestradas na mesma operação, foram dadas como “desaparecidas”. Esses sequestrados desaparecidos eram quatro professores e dois dos maridos de duas das professoras do grupo dos seis.

De quando de sua libertação o padre Orlando Yorio acusou Bergoglio de efetivamente os terem entregue [incluindo as seis outras pessoas] para os esquadrões da morte … Jalics se recusou a discutir a queixa depois de ter entrado em reclusão num monastério alemão.” (Associated Press, 13 de março de 2013, ênfases acrescentadas).

“Durante o primeiro julgamento da junta militar em 1985, Yorio declarou: “Eu tenho certeza de que ele mesmo deu uma lista com os nossos nomes para a Marinha.” Os dois padres tinham sido levados para o centro de tortura da Escola de Mecânica da Marinha (ESMA na sigla inglesa) e mantidos lá por cinco meses antes de serem arrastados e jogados numa cidade dos subúrbios. (Veja Bill van Auken, “The Dirty War” Pope, World Socialist Website and Global Research, March 14, 2013)

Entre aqueles “desaparecidos” pelos esquadrões da morte estavam Mónica Candelaria Mignone e María Marta Vásquez Ocampo. Mónica Mignone era filha do fundador do Centro de Estudos Legais e Sociais, CELS, e María Marta Ocampo era filha da presidente das Madres de Plaza de Mayo, Martha Ocampo de Vásquez (El Periodista Online, março 2013).

María Marta Vásquez, seu marido César Lugones (veja foto)  e Mónica Candelaria Mignone alegadamente “entregues aos esquadrões da morte” pelo provincial” jesuita Jorge Mario Bergoglio estão entre os milhares de “desaparecidos da “Guerra Suja” da Argentina, a qual foi encobertamente apoiada por Washington, abaixo da “Operação Condor”.  (Veja memorialmagro.com.ar)

No decorrer do julgamento iniciado em 2005:

 “Bergoglio [Papa Francis I] por duas vezes invocou seu direito abaixo da lei argentina de poder se recusar a apresentar-se em tribunal público, e quando ele afinal testemunhou em 2010 suas respostas foram evasivas”. “Pelo menos dois casos envolviam Bergoglio diretamente. Um examinava a tortura de dois dos seus padres jesuitas – Orlando Yorio e Francisco Jalics – que tinham sido sequestrados em 1976 em bairros pobres onde eles defendiam a teologia da liberação. Yorio acusou Bergoglio de efetivamente os terem entregue aos esquadrões da morte … do quando recusando-se a declarar ao regime que ele endossava o trabalho desses dois seus padres.  Jalics recusou-se a comentar o caso depois de ter se retirado para um monastério alemão.” (Los Angeles Times, 1 de abril, 2005)

Santa comunhão para os ditadores

As acusações dirigidas contra Bergoglio em relação aos dois padres jesuitas e aos seis membros das paróquias dos mesmos, seriam sómente a ponta do icebergue. Conquanto Bergoglio fosse uma pessoa importante da Igreja Católica, ele não seria o único a apoiar a junta militar.

De acordo com a advogada Myriam Bregman:   “As próprias declarações de Bergoglio provam que representantes oficiais da igreja sabiam, e isso logo do começo que a junta estava torturando e matando seus cidadãos” e ainda assim endossaram publicamente os ditadores. “A ditadura não poderia ter agido dessa maneira sem esse apoio chave,” (Los Angeles Times, 1 abril de 2005, ênfases acrescentadas.

(Foto acima: General Jorge Videla comungando. A data e o nome do padre não confirmados)

Toda a hierarquia católica estava apoiando a ditadura militar patrocinada pelos Estados Unidos. Vale a pena recordar que em 23 de março de 1976, na véspera do golpe militar:

Videla e outros conspiradores receberam a benção do arcebispo do Paraná, Adolfo Tortolo, que também serviu como o vigário das forças armadas. No próprio dia da tomada do poder, os líderes militares tiveram um longo encontro com os líderes da conferência dos bispos. Quando ele saiu dessa conferência o arcebispo Tortolo declarou que mesmo que “a igreja tenha sua própria missão específica … há circunstâncias nas quais ela não pode deixar de participar, mesmo quando isso relacione-se a problemas da ordem específica do estado.” Ele fez mesmo pressão moral para que os argentinos “cooperassem duma maneira positiva” com o novo governo.”   (The Humanist.org, janeiro de 2011, ênfases acrescentadas)

Numa entrevista conduzida pelo El Sur, o General Jorge Videla, que agora está servindo uma pena de prisão perpétua, por causa dos seus crimes contra a humanidade confirmou que:

 “Ele tinha mantido a hierarquia católica do país informada quanto a “fazer desaparecer” oponentes políticos, e que os líderes católicos tinham oferecido conselhos de como “conduzir” a política de desaparecimentos.

Jorge Videla disse que ele tinha tido “muitas conversações” com o Cardinal Raúl Francisco Primatesta, da Argentina, a respeito da guerra suja do governo contra os ativistas da esquerda. Ele disse que também havia havido conversações com outros bispos líderes da conferência episcopal na Argentina, assim como com o núncio papal do país na época, Pio Laghi. “Eles nos aconselharam a respeito da maneira de como lidar com a situação,” disse Videla” (Tom Henningan, Former Argentinian dictator says he told Catholic Church of disappeared, Irish Times, 24 de julho de 2012, ênfases acrescentadas)

É de valor o observar-se, que de acordo com uma declaração do arcebispo Adolfo Tortolo, os militares deveriam sempre consultar com alguma membro da alta hierarquia católica no caso de “prisão” de algum membro nas alas mais baixas da hierarquia do cléro. Essa declaração foi feita especialmente em relação aos dois padres jesuitas sequestrados, dos quais as atividades pastorais estavam abaixo da autoridade do “provincial” da Companhia Jesuita, Jorge Mario Bergoglio. (El Periodista Online, março de 2013).

Em endossando a junta militar, a hierarquia católica foi cúmplice de tortura e de morte de massas, num estimado de “22.000 mortos e desaparecidos, de 1976  a 1978. …  Milhares de outras vítimas foram mortas entre 1978 e 1983, quando os militares foram forçados a deixar o poder.” (Arquivo da Segurança Nacional, 23 de março de 2006).

O papel do Vaticano

O Vaticano abaixo da direção do Papa Paulo VI e do Papa João Paulo II fez um papel central em apoiando a junta militar argentina.

Pio Langhi, o Núncio Apostólico do Vaticano na Argentina admitiu o conhecimento a respeito de tortura e massacrres.

Langhi tinha contatos pessoais com membros da direção da junta militar incluindo o General Videla e o Almirante Emilio Eduardo Massera.

O Almirante Emilio Massera, em próximo contacto com seus dirigentes americanos, foi o mentor “Da Guerra Suja”. Abaixo dos auspícios do regime militar ele estabeleceu:

“um centro de interrogatório e tortura na Escola Naval de Mecânica – Naval School of Mechanics, ESMA [perto de Buenos Aires], … Esse era um estabelecimento sofisticado, para muitos fins, vital ao plano militar de assassinar cerca de 30.000 “inimigos do estado”. …Muitos milhares dos prisioneiros da ESMA, incluindo, por exemplo, duas freiras francesas, foram de maneira rotineira torturados brutalmente sem misericórdia, antes de serem assassinados ou jogados de algum avião no Rio de la Plata.

(Veja foto acima: O Nuncio do Vaticano Pio Langhi e o General Jorge Videla)

Massera, o membro mais vigoroso do triunvirato, fez o seu melhor para manter seus elos com Washington. Ele participou no desenvolvimentoo do Plano Condor, que era um plano de colaboração para coordenar o terrorismo sendo praticado pelos regimes militares sulamericanos. (Hugh O´ Shaughnessy,   Amiral Emilio Massera: Naval officer who took part in the 1976 coup in Argentina and was later jailed for his part in the junta’s crimes,  The Independent, 10 de novembro de 2010, ênfases acrescentadas)

Relatórios confirmam que o representante do Vaticano Pio Laghi e Amiral Emilio Massera eram amigos.

(Foto: Almirante Emilio Massera, o arquiteto da “Guerra Suja” sendo recebido pelo Papa Paulo VI, no Vaticano)

A Igreja Católica: Chile vs Argentina

Tem valor por si mesmo o notar-se que nas águas do golpe militar no Chile, em 11 de setembro de 1973, o Cardinal de São Tiago do Chile,  Raul Silva Henriquez, tinha condenado abertamente a junta militar liderada pelo General Augusto Pinochet. Em forte  contraste com a Argentina, a posição da hierarquia católica no Chile foi eficaz em pôr freio as ondas de assassinatos polítiocs, assim como conter a extensão das violações dos direitos humanos cometitas contra os apoiantes de Salvador Allende e os oponentes do regime militar.

O homem atrás do ecumênico, e não-partidário, Comité Pro-Paz era o Cardinal Raúl Silva Henríquez. Logo depois do golpe, Silva… tomou o papel de “atores” – “upstander”, esse sendo um termo em inglês que a autora e ativista Samantha Power criou para distinguir pessoas que se levantavam contra a injustiça – muitas vezes a custo de grandes riscos pessoais – dos que denominava então, de “expectadores”.

… Logo após o golpe, Silva e outros líderes da igreja do Chile publicaram uma declaração condenando as ações dos golpistas e exprimindo dor e desgosto pelo derramamento de sangue. Esse foi um ponto fundamental de reversão para muitos membros do cléro chileno … O Cardinal Raul Silva Henriquez visitou o Estádio Nacional, e escandalizado pela escala da violência desintegradora, instruiu seus auxiliares a começarem a documentar os acontecimentos reunindo informação das milhares de pessoas que voltavam-se as igrejas, para refúgio.

As ações do Cardinal  Silva o levaram a um conflito aberto com Pinochet, que não hesitou em ameaçar a igreja e o Comité Pro-Paz (Taking a Stand Against Pinochet: The Catholic Church and the Disappeared – pdf)

Se a hierarquia católica na Argentina e Jorge Mario Bergoglio tivessem tomado uma posição semelhante a do Cardinal Raul Silva Henriquez, milhares de vidas teriam sido salvas, também na Argentina.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio não era, nas palvras de Samantha Powers um expectador, “bystander”. Ele foi cúmplice em crimes contra a humanidade, crimes esses que foram muito abrangentes.

O Papa Francis I não é “um homem do povo” cometido a “ajudar os pobres” nas pegadas de São Francisco de Assis, como retratado em côro pela mantra da mídia ocidental. Muito pelo contrário: os seus esforços durante a junta militar, consistentemente atacando progressivos membros do cléro católico, assim como os ativistas empenhados em salvaguardar dos direitos humanos, ativistas esses envolvidos em implementar programas contra a grande miséria e pobreza.

Em apoiando a “Guerra Suja” argentina, José Mario Bergoglio violou abertamente os próprios dogmas e doutrinas da moralidade cristã, dogmas e doureinas esses que dão grande valor a vida humana.

“Operação Condor” e a Igreja Católica

A eleição do Cardinal Bergoglio pelo conclave do Vaticano para servir como Papa Francis I terá repercussões imediatas em relação ao corrente julgamneto  “Operação Condor”, em Buenos Aires.

A Igreja estava envolvida em apoiar a junta militar. Esse é um fator que irá emergir no decorrer dos procedimentos do processo judicial. Não há dúvidas de que lá haverá esforços para obscurecer o papel da hierarquia católica e a recente nomeação do Papa Francis I, que serviu como chefe da Ordem Jesuita da Argentina durante a ditadura militar.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio: O Papa de Washington no Vaticano?

A eleição do Papa Francis I tem grandes implicações para toda a região da América Latina

Nos anos de 1970, Jorge Mario Bergolio apoiou a ditadura militar patrocinada pelos Estados Unidos.

A hierarquia católica da Argentina apoiou o governo militar. O programa militar de tortura, assassinatos e “desaparecimentos” de milhares de oponentes políticos foi apoiada e coordenada por Washington, durante a “Operação Condor”, da CIA.

Os interesses da Wall Street foram sustentados através do gabinete de Jose Alfredo Martinez de Hoz no Ministério da Economia.

A Igreja Católica na América Latina tem influência política. A Igreja também exerce um  controle sobre a opinião pública. Isso é sabido e compreendido pelos arquitetos da política exterior dos Estados Unidos, assim como dos sectores de inteligência dos mesmos.

Na América Latina onde governos estão agora desafiando a dominância dos EUA, se pode esperar – dado os antecedentes de Bergoglio –  que o novo Pontífice Francis I, como líder da Igreja Católica na América Latina irá, de facto,  desempenhar um papel político discreto e as encobertas, mas a favor de Washington.

Com Jose Mario Bergoglio, Papa Francis I no Vaticano – homem esse que fielmente serviu os interesses dos Estados Unidos no dias de apogeu do Generla Jorge Videla e Almirante Emilio Massera – a hierarquia da Igreja Católica na América Latina poderá mais uma vez ser efetivamente manipulada para underminar governos “progressistas”, ou seja, de esquerda, não só na Argentina (em relação ao governo de Cristina Kirschner) como também através de toda a região sulamericana, incluindo Venezuela, Equador e Bolívia.

A instalação de “um papa pro-EUA” ocorreu uma semana após a morte do presidente Hugo Chavez.

“Troca de Regime” no Vaticano  

O Departamento do Estado dos Estados Unidos como uma questão de rotina faz pressão sobre membros do Conselho de Segurança das Nações Unidas com o fim de influenciar os votos pertencentes as resoluções do Conselho de Segurança.

Também como uma questão de rotina as operações encobertas assim como as campanhas de propaganda dos Estados Unidos são empregadas com o objetivo de influenciar eleições nacionais, em diferente países ao redor do mundo.

A CIA de maneira similar também tem tido uma longa relação encoberta de afinidade com o Vaticano.

Teria o governo dos Estados Unidos tentado influenciar o resultado da eleição do novo pontífice?

Fortemente envolvido em servir os interesses da política exterior dos Estados Unidos na América Latina, Jorge Mario Bergoglio era o candidato preferido de Washington.

Teriam discretas pressões encobertas sido exercidas por Washington dentro da Igreja Católica, pressões essas que direta ou indiretamente, poderiam ter caido sobre os 115 cardinais, membros do conclave do Vaticano?

 

Notas do Autor

No começo do regime militar em 1976, eu estava trabalhando como professor visitante no Instituto de Política Social da Universidade Nacional de Cordoba, Argentina. O ponto focal da minha pesquisa, nesse tempo, era a investigação dos impactos sociais das mortais reformas macro-econômicas adotadas pela junta militar.

Eu era professor na Universidade de Cordoba  durante a onda inicial dos assassinatos, a qual também mirava membros progressivos da bases populares do cléro católico.

A cidade industrial de Córdoba, localisada no norte da Argnetina,  era o centro do movimento de resistência. Eu fui testemunha de como a hierarquia católica, activa e de maneira rotineira apoiava a junta militar, criando uma atmosfera de intimidação e medo através de todo o país. O sentimento geral nesse tempo era de que a Argentina tinha sido traida pelos altos escalões da Igreja Católica.

Tres anos antes quando do golpe militar no Chile em 11 de setembro de 1973,  o qual levou a derrubada do governo da Unidade Popular de Salvador Allende, eu estava trabalhando como professor visitante no Departamento de Economia da Universidade Católica do Chile, em Santiago do Chile.

Nas imediatas consequências do golpe do Chile eu fui testemunha de como o Cardinal de Santiago, Raul Silva Henriquez –  agindo em nome da Igreja Católica -  confrontou a ditadura militar.

Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research (atualizado em 16 de março de 2013)

14 de março de 2013-03-18

 

Artigo em inglês :

bergolio

“Washington’s Pope”? Who is Pope Francis I? Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio and Argentina’s “Dirty War”, March 16, 2013

 

Tradução Anna Malm – *Licenciatura: Economia e Psicologia; Bacharelado: Ciência Política e Economia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week marks the tenth anniversary of the “Shock and Awe” US invasion of Iraq.

The ravages of that invasion continue at home and in Iraq, the US is still at war in Afghanistan (troops and contractors remain in Iraq) and unofficially waging war on countries like Pakistan and Yemen, is aggravating aggression with North Korea as part of an Asian pivot encircling China, is putting more military into Africa and Obama is in Israel where he sings a duet for war with Netanyahu against Syria and Iran. Meanwhile, poverty, unemployment and homelessness continue to grow in the US with threats of austerity for everything except the national security state.

When we occupied Freedom Plaza in October, 2011, we made the connection between US Empire and the corporate control of our political process, between unlimited military spending and cuts to necessary domestic programs. We understood the misreporting in the corporate media about the Iraq War. Kathy Kelly from Voices for Creative Nonviolence was in Baghdad during Shock and Awe. On this tenth anniversary, she reminds us of the horrible price of war and warns of never ending war as the US seems to edge toward more war in the region. The need to understand those connections grows more important each day as we see the costs of war affecting people on every level.

And this report details the tremendous costs in loss of life, the US legacy of cancer in Iraq from poisons we brought there, the number of refugees, orphans, widows and people now living in poverty. Violence continues in Iraq including a series of attacks on the tenth anniversary that left 98 people dead and 240 wounded.

Iraq War veteran Tomas Young is bringing increased attention to the human costs at home as he prepares to die from his wounds. Over 130,000 Iraq vets have been diagnosed with PTSD. Over 250,000 are suffering from traumatic brain injuries. The ongoing costs of caring for veterans is expected to bring the total cost of the Iraq invasion alone to $6 trillion. And, vets fight homelessness, sometimes with the aid of Occupy activists who protest to save the homes of vets.  Veterans are also experiencing unemployment and medical debt.

These are some of the costs of war, not to mention that the US Military is the greatest polluter on the planet.

As we join the national week of actions in solidarity with the Strike Debt Rolling Jubileeand the coast-to-coast actions in support of the Tar Sands Blockade, let us remember that all of these issues are connected. As our allies at Veterans For Peace have been saying lately it is time to Stop the War on Mother Earth. VFP has been joining with groups like Radical Action for Mountain People’s Survival and the Tar Sands Blockade to protect the planet.

The breadth of opposition to the extraction economy that undermines the ecology of the planet is shown by the people involved in the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance and the “Sacred Journey for Future Generations,” a march across Canada by hundreds in support of the Idle No More Movement. The fracking movement has also shown the kind of culture of resistance needed to stop hyrdo-fracking as we saw in Watkins Glen, NYthis week.

Let us remember that there is strength in solidarity and all these issues are connected by policies that put corporate greed before human needs and protection of the Earth.

Solidarity has produced some real successes recently. In the UK, 21 climate activists were being sued by the energy giant EDF for shutting down an energy plant for 8 days. But when 64,000 customers signed a petition in support for the “No Dash for Gas” activists; EDF dropped its civil suit. Criminal charges remain, so solidarity with the activists continues to be important. And in Cyprus, the EU tried to impose a tax on the population in exchange for assistance with their debt. Massive protests resulted in the Cypriot Parliament saying no to the tax.

The plague of Wall Street banking affects people across the globe. Wall Street was a key focus of Occupy. This week, activists in Philadelphia explained their protest against Wells Fargo which led to their arrest and acquittal, indeed being thanked by the judge for their actions.  This was one of five recent court victories for Occupy. Now, people are standing up in New York with a class action lawsuit against the abusive stop and frisk searches which had beenprotested by occupiers and others.

Single payer groups are joining with Strike Debt to fight medical debt and our debt-based society. Chicago Teachers invited Occupy Wall Street to teach them protest skills. And, the Imokalee workers are walking across Florida to protest low wages. In Maryland, Fund Our Communities is holding a day long“Prosperity Not Austerity” Bus Tour that links issues such as health care, education and food security with the cost of war. The Strike Debt Resistor’s Manual provides a guide for communities to learn more about ways that debt affects them and what they can do about it.Perhaps you see opportunities for making connections around issues where you are?

It is through these connections that we can grow stronger and become more effective. And it is through these connections that we can have real conversations about the root causes of our shared situations, about the real needs that we have and how we can meet them together and build a unified movement that can say “No” to war at home and abroad. Let us not be afraid to talk about US imperialism and the effects of capitalism and a debt-based world. Let us look for the truth and not be lied into another war in Syria, Iran or North Korea. And let us all join together in the urgent need for climate justice.

We can succeed too. As we make connections and build solidarity, we are preparing for the day when we will shift power to the people. An important issue that needs your attention, particularly next week, is the hunger strike in Guantanamo. Don’t let these prisoners die in vain. Witness Against Torture is calling for a week of national solidarity actions starting March 24th. Join them.

This article is based on our weekly newsletter from October2011.org/OccupyWashington DC which covers protest and resistance movements.To sign up for this free newsletter, click here.

Kevin Zeese JD and Margaret Flowers MD co-host ClearingtheFOGRadio.org on We Act Radio 1480 AM Washington, DC and on Economic Democracy Media, co-direct It’s Our Economy and were organizers of the Occupation of Washington, DC. Their twitters are @KBZeese and @MFlowers8.

Worldwide, March brings about changing seasons, shifting temperatures and unpredictable weather – but the one thing we have come to count on is that March is also the month of choice for militarized intervention, armed conflict and declarations of all-out war.

As Michel Chossudovsky writes:

“With the exception of the War on Afghanistan (October 2001), all major US-NATO led military operations over a period of almost half a century – since the invasion of Vietnam by US ground forces on March 8, 1965 – have been initiated in the month of March.” (Read more in “The Pentagon’s “Ides of March”: Best Month to Go to War”)

Is this really a tradition we want to maintain? More importantly, is any time EVER the right time to go to war?

When is it appropriate to kill indiscriminately to further our own agendas?

When is it acceptable to commit unbridled, large-scale murder and label it “humanitarian intervention”?

When do we realize that no month, no season, no time is the right time to attack sovereign nations simply because they have the land we want, the resources we need and the unwillingness to hand them over merely to feed our greed?

How about… NOW?

NATO and the Pentagon have decided that March is the month of war, but the time has come for the people to put a change to that. The time has come to make March a time for PEACE, to END WAR, to enter a new season of AWARENESS.

And knowing the TRUTH about war is the first step in making this a reality.

As F. William Engdahl states:

“There are few online sites besides Global Research where we can go to find analyses of the world we live in today, with its escalating wars, conflicts, betrayal of trust. I strongly urge readers who value one of the few remaining serious sources of truthful analysis to not take that enjoyment passively but to actively support the work of Global Research by your financial contribution.”
F. William Engdahl, author of “Seeds of Destruction” (available through Global Research) andMyths, Lies and Oil Wars

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To: George W. Bush and Dick Cheney
From: Tomas Young

I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.

I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries.

I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day.

I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded.

I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.

You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney.

I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power.

I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done.

You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

Your positions of authority, your millions of dollars of personal wealth, your public relations consultants, your privilege and your power cannot mask the hollowness of your character. You sent us to fight and die in Iraq after you, Mr. Cheney, dodged the draft in Vietnam, and you, Mr. Bush, went AWOL from your National Guard unit.

Your cowardice and selfishness were established decades ago. You were not willing to risk yourselves for our nation but you sent hundreds of thousands of young men and women to be sacrificed in a senseless war with no more thought than it takes to put out the garbage.

I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called “democracy” in Baghdad and the Middle East.I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues. Instead, this war has cost the United States over $3 trillion.

I especially did not join the Army to carry out pre-emptive war. Pre-emptive war is illegal under international law. And as a soldier in Iraq I was, I now know, abetting your idiocy and your crimes.

The Iraq War is the largest strategic blunder in U.S. history. It obliterated the balance of power in the Middle East. It installed a corrupt and brutal pro-Iranian government in Baghdad, one cemented in power through the use of torture, death squads and terror. And it has left Iran as the dominant force in the region. On every level—moral, strategic, military and economic—Iraq was a failure. And it was you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who started this war. It is you who should pay the consequences.

I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.

I have, like many other disabled veterans, suffered from the inadequate and often inept care provided by the Veterans Administration. I have, like many other disabled veterans, come to realize that our mental and physical wounds are of no interest to you, perhaps of no interest to any politician. We were used. We were betrayed. And we have been abandoned. You, Mr. Bush, make much pretense of being a Christian. But isn’t lying a sin? Isn’t murder a sin? Aren’t theft and selfish ambition sins? I am not a Christian. But I believe in the Christian ideal. I believe that what you do to the least of your brothers you finally do to yourself, to your own soul.

My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come.

I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live.

I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.

by Dylan Stableford

An Iraq War veteran who joined the U.S. Army two days after 9/11 has written a powerful open letterto former President George W. Bush and ex-Vice President Dick Cheney accusing them of war crimes, “plunder” and “the murder of thousands of young Americans – my fellow veterans – whose future you stole.”Tomas Young, who was shot and paralyzed during an insurgent attack in Sadr City in 2004, five days into his first deployment, penned the letter from his Kansas City, Mo., home, where he’s under hospice care.

“I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney,” Young wrote in the letter published on Truthdig.com. “I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans – my fellow veterans – whose future you stole.”

© Truthdig.com Tomas Young

The 33-year-old, who was the subject of Phil Donahue’s 2007 documentary “Body of War,” continued:

I joined the Army two days after the 9/11 attacks. I joined the Army because our country had been attacked. I wanted to strike back at those who had killed some 3,000 of my fellow citizens. I did not join the Army to go to Iraq, a country that had no part in the September 2001 attacks and did not pose a threat to its neighbors, much less to the United States. I did not join the Army to “liberate” Iraqis or to shut down mythical weapons-of-mass-destruction facilities or to implant what you cynically called “democracy” in Baghdad and the Middle East. I did not join the Army to rebuild Iraq, which at the time you told us could be paid for by Iraq’s oil revenues.

Young believes he was injured fighting the wrong war:

I would not be writing this letter if I had been wounded fighting in Afghanistan against those forces that carried out the attacks of 9/11. Had I been wounded there I would still be miserable because of my physical deterioration and imminent death, but I would at least have the comfort of knowing that my injuries were a consequence of my own decision to defend the country I love. I would not have to lie in my bed, my body filled with painkillers, my life ebbing away, and deal with the fact that hundreds of thousands of human beings, including children, including myself, were sacrificed by you for little more than the greed of oil companies, for your alliance with the oil sheiks in Saudi Arabia, and your insane visions of empire.

“When Tomas Young saw President Bush on television speaking from the ruins of the Twin Towers, his life changed,” his bio on the “Body of War” website reads. “As his basic training began at Ft. Hood, he assumed that he would be shipped off to Afghanistan where the terrorist camps were based, routing out Al Qaeda and Taliban warriors. But soon, Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq.”

In an interview with Truthdig.com, Young – who suffered an anoxic brain injury in 2008 – said he had been contemplating “conventional” suicide, but decided to go on hospice care, “stop feeding and fade away.”

He said, “This way, instead of committing the conventional suicide and I am out of the picture, people have a way to stop by or call and say their goodbyes,” Young said. “I felt this was a fairer way to treat people than to just go out with a note.”

Governo: la rotta è tracciata

March 21st, 2013 by Manlio Dinucci

«I molti, troppi morti senza nome che il nostro Mediterraneo custodisce»: li ha ricordati a Montecitorio Laura Boldrini riferendosi al dramma dei profughi.  Il Mediterraneo, ha detto, «dovrà sempre più diventare un ponte verso altri luoghi, altre culture, altre religioni». Finora però il Mediterraneo è stato sempre più un ponte di guerra. Partendo dalle basi in Italia, la Nato ha demolito lo stato libico, provocando la disgregazione del paese e l’esodo di milioni di africani che avevano trovato qui un lavoro. Lo stesso sta facendo con la Siria, che cerca di demolire con forze infiltrate e metodi terroristici, provocando altre vittime e ondate di profughi. Non basta quindi «un parlamento largamente rinnovato». Occorre una nuova politica estera. Quella italiana, indipendentemente dal colore dei governi, segue invece sempre la stessa rotta. Il governo Monti, nei suoi ultimi giorni, sta infatti compiendo importanti atti di politica estera che passeranno nelle mani del futuro governo. In una serie di incontri a Washington l’11-12 marzo, la Farnesina ha assicurato l’adesione dell’Italia all’«accordo di libero scambio Usa-Ue», ossia alla «Nato economica». In un seminario internazionale, il 14 marzo a Roma, si è stabilito il contributo dell’Italia a «una Difesa europea più forte», che il Consiglio europeo deciderà a dicembre per «favorire il soddisfacimento delle esigenze dell’Alleanza atlantica». Solo per l’acquisto di armamenti, prevede una ricerca pubblicata a New York, l’Italia spenderà nel 2012-17 oltre 31 miliardi di dollari. Negli stessi giorni, il ministro degli esteri Terzi si è recato in Israele per una serie di incontri e per partecipare alla conferenza internazionale di Herzliya sulla «sicurezza del Medio Oriente». Sulla Siria, l’Italia si impegna ad «accrescere le misure e gli equipaggiamenti che permettono alle forze sul terreno di proteggere la popolazione dagli attacchi inauditi dell’aviazione siriana» (non a caso mentre gli Usa stanno per ufficializzare, dopo Francia e Gran Bretagna, la fornitura di armi ai «ribelli»). L’Italia rafforza anche il suo impegno contro «i rischi di un Iran nucleare per la sicurezza globale»: a Herzliya si è parlato del momento in cui si dovrà passare «dalla diplomazia alla spada». Queste e altre iniziative della Farnesina ricevono il consenso o il silenzio-assenso dell’intero arco politico. Il Comune di Milano partecipa all’unanimità alla marcia internazionale di «solidarietà al popolo siriano» perché, dice il sindaco Pisapia, «è tempo di uscire dal silenzio». Ossia sostenere apertamente la destabilizzazione della Siria, che le potenze occidentali attuano per fini strategici ed economici. E quando il governo Monti, violando gli impegni e compromettendo le relazioni tra i due paesi, non rimanda in India i marò che hanno ucciso i pescatori, la presidente della commissione pace del Comune di Firenze, Susanna Agostini (Pd), esulta perché l’Italia ha assunto una «posizione da protagonista».

 Manlio Dinucci

[image: Leader of the Military Junta General Jorge Videla with the  Vatican's nuncio Pio Laghi]

During the Process of National Reorganization—the military junta’s grandiose name for the period of its rule, from 1976 to 1983—as many as thirty thousand people, mostly young Argentines, were disappeared. The government justified its tactics as part of a war against a revolutionary insurrection waged by “subversive terrorists,” though the junta’s first leader, General Jorge Rafael Videla [see image], defined a “terrorist” as “not only someone who plants bombs but a person whose ideas are contrary to Western, Christian civilization.”

read the full text...The junta’s security forces exceeded even that sweeping mandate when targeting dissidents for elimination. Approximately thirty per cent of the disappeared were women. Some were abducted with their small children, and some, perhaps three per cent, were pregnant, or became so while in detention, usually through rape by guards and torturers.

Pregnant prisoners were routinely kept alive until they’d given birth. Sometimes the mothers were able to nurse their newborns, at least sporadically, for a few days, or even weeks, before the babies were taken from them and the mothers were “transferred”—sent to their deaths, in the Dirty War’s notorious nomenclature.

A common method of “transfer” was to inject the women with drugs and shove them from planes into the River Plate or the Atlantic. According to human-rights groups, as many as five hundred newborns and young children were taken from disappeared parents and handed over, their identities erased, to childless military and police couples and others favored by the regime.

It has long been assumed that these baby thefts arose partly from the military’s collusion with sectors of the Catholic Church, which gave its blessing to the death flights but not to the murder of young or unborn children. The Process of National Reorganization wanted to define and create “authentic Argentines.”

The children of subversives were seen, author Marguerite Feitlowitz explained, as “seeds of the tree of evil.” Perhaps through adoption, those seeds could be replanted in healthy soil. Tells about the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, who made it their goal to find those adopted children and restore them to whatever remained of their biological families. Discusses in detail the case of Marcela and Felipe Noble Herrera, who were adopted by Ernestina Herrera de Noble, the widow of Roberto Noble, the founder of Argentina’s Clarín media empire.

Read more:

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2012/03/19/120319fa_fact_goldman#ixzz2OC4sEyn5

Copyright: The New Yorker, 2013

This secret UK government memo (which can be considered as the minutes of a meeting with Prime Minister Tony Blair on July 23, 2002) was leaked and first published by the London Times on May 1, 2005. It was posted on Global Research on May 8, 2005.

Ten years later, this key document, referred to as “The Downing Street Memo”  is of  crucial significance. It shows that “massive military action” was contemplated 8-9 months prior to the March 2003 invasion. It also confirms that the US and its indefectible British ally were seeking a pretext and a justification to unleash the invasion of  Iraq.

The manipulation of intelligence pertaining to WMD  and terrorism is casually acknowledged in the memo.

“Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime’s record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.”

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, March 20, 2013


SECRET AND STRICTLY PERSONAL - UK EYES ONLY

DAVID MANNING
From: Matthew Rycroft
Date: 23 July 2002

S 195 /02cc: Defence Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Attorney-General, Sir Richard Wilson, John Scarlett, Francis Richards, CDS, C, Jonathan Powell, Sally Morgan, Alastair Campbell

[C refers to the head of the Secret Intelligence Service MI6 Sir Richard Billing Dearlove, CDS refers to the UK Defense Chief of Staff]

[The cc list shows that this meeting included all key Cabinet members involved in the formulation of the UK's Iraq policy. This copy of the memo was sent to Foreign Policy Advisor David Manning (akin to the US National Security Advisor) from Matthew Rycroft, a foreign policy aide].

IRAQ: PRIME MINISTER’S MEETING, 23 JULY

Copy addressees and you met the Prime Minister on 23 July to discuss Iraq.

This record is extremely sensitive. No further copies should be made. It should be shown only to those with a genuine need to know its contents.

John Scarlett summarised the intelligence and latest JIC assessment. Saddam’s regime was tough and based on extreme fear. The only way to overthrow it was likely to be by massive military action. Saddam was worried and expected an attack, probably by air and land, but he was not convinced that it would be immediate or overwhelming. His regime expected their neighbours to line up with the US. Saddam knew that regular army morale was poor. Real support for Saddam among the public was probably narrowly based.

C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime’s record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.

CDS said that military planners would brief CENTCOM on 1-2 August, Rumsfeld on 3 August and Bush on 4 August.

The two broad US options were:

(a) Generated Start. A slow build-up of 250,000 US troops, a short (72 hour) air campaign, then a move up to Baghdad from the south. Lead time of 90 days (30 days preparation plus 60 days deployment to Kuwait).

(b) Running Start. Use forces already in theatre (3 x 6,000), continuous air campaign, initiated by an Iraqi casus belli. Total lead time of 60 days with the air campaign beginning even earlier. A hazardous option.

The US saw the UK (and Kuwait) as essential, with basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus critical for either option. Turkey and other Gulf states were also important, but less vital. The three main options for UK involvement were:

(i) Basing in Diego Garcia and Cyprus, plus three SF squadrons.

(ii) As above, with maritime and air assets in addition.

(iii) As above, plus a land contribution of up to 40,000, perhaps with a discrete role in Northern Iraq entering from Turkey, tying down two Iraqi divisions.

The Defence Secretary said that the US had already begun “spikes of activity” to put pressure on the regime. No decisions had been taken, but he thought the most likely timing in US minds for military action to begin was January, with the timeline beginning 30 days before the US Congressional elections.

The Foreign Secretary said he would discuss this with Colin Powell this week. It seemed clear that Bush had made up his mind to take military action, even if the timing was not yet decided. But the case was thin. Saddam was not threatening his neighbours, and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran. We should work up a plan for an ultimatum to Saddam to allow back in the UN weapons inspectors. This would also help with the legal justification for the use of force.

The Attorney-General said that the desire for regime change was not a legal base for military action. There were three possible legal bases: self-defence, humanitarian intervention, or UNSC authorisation. The first and second could not be the base in this case. Relying on UNSCR 1205 of three years ago would be difficult. The situation might of course change.

The Prime Minister said that it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors. Regime change and WMD were linked in the sense that it was the regime that was producing the WMD. There were different strategies for dealing with Libya and Iran. If the political context were right, people would support regime change. The two key issues were whether the military plan worked and whether we had the political strategy to give the military plan the space to work.

On the first, CDS said that we did not know yet if the US battleplan was workable. The military were continuing to ask lots of questions.

For instance, what were the consequences, if Saddam used WMD on day one, or if Baghdad did not collapse and urban warfighting began? You said that Saddam could also use his WMD on Kuwait. Or on Israel, added the Defence Secretary.

The Foreign Secretary thought the US would not go ahead with a military plan unless convinced that it was a winning strategy. On this, US and UK interests converged. But on the political strategy, there could be US/UK differences. Despite US resistance, we should explore discreetly the ultimatum. Saddam would continue to play hard-ball with the UN.

John Scarlett assessed that Saddam would allow the inspectors back in only when he thought the threat of military action was real.

The Defence Secretary said that if the Prime Minister wanted UK military involvement, he would need to decide this early. He cautioned that many in the US did not think it worth going down the ultimatum route. It would be important for the Prime Minister to set out the political context to Bush.

Conclusions:

(a) We should work on the assumption that the UK would take part in any military action. But we needed a fuller picture of US planning before we could take any firm decisions. CDS should tell the US military that we were considering a range of options.

(b) The Prime Minister would revert on the question of whether funds could be spent in preparation for this operation.

(c) CDS would send the Prime Minister full details of the proposed military campaign and possible UK contributions by the end of the week.

(d) The Foreign Secretary would send the Prime Minister the background on the UN inspectors, and discreetly work up the ultimatum to Saddam.

He would also send the Prime Minister advice on the positions of countries in the region especially Turkey, and of the key EU member states.

(e) John Scarlett would send the Prime Minister a full intelligence update.

(f) We must not ignore the legal issues: the Attorney-General would consider legal advice with FCO/MOD legal advisers.

(I have written separately to commission this follow-up work.)

MATTHEW RYCROFT

[Rycroft was a Downing Street foreign policy aide]

 

Forced Medicine: The Philosophy Behind Fluoridation

March 21st, 2013 by James Corbett

Conozca en Opera Mundi más detalles de la trayectoria de Henrrique Capriles, gobernador de Miranda y candidato a las elecciones presidenciales venezolanas del próximo mes.

1. Nacido en 1972, Henrique Capriles Radonsky procede de dos de las más poderosas familias venezolanas, las cuales se encuentran a la cabeza de varios conglomerados industriales, inmobiliarios y mediáticos (Capriles) y poseen el Circuito Nacional de Exhibiciones (Cinex), segunda cadena de cines del país (Radonsky).

2. Su familia es propietaria del diario Últimas Noticias, de mayor difusión nacional, cadenas de radios y un canal de televisión.

3. En los años 80, militó en el partido de extrema derecha Tradición, Familia y Propiedad.

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Capriles acusó al gobierno y a la familia de Chávez de manipular la fecha de muerte del presidente venezolano

4. Capriles fue elegido diputado en 1999 por el Estado de Zulia por el partido de derecha COPEI. Contra todo pronóstico y a pesar de su inexperiencia política, fue nombrado inmediatamente presidente de la Cámara de Diputados, convirtiéndose en el más joven diputado en dirigir la Cámara baja del Parlamento.

5. En realidad, logró imponerse a los otros aspirantes con mayor trayectoria política gracias al poder económico y financiero de su familia que financió las campañas de muchos diputados.

6. En 2000, fundó el partido político Primero Justicia con el conservador Leopoldo López y se alió con el International Republican Insititute, rama internacional del Partido Republicano estadounidense. El presidente de la época era George W. Bush, el cual brindó un amplio apoyo a la nueva formación política que se oponía a Hugo Chávez, particularmente mediante el National Endowment for Democracy.

7. Según el New York Times, “La National Endowment for Democracy se creó hace 15 años para llevar a cabo públicamente lo que ha hecho subrepticiamente la Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) durante décadas. Gasta 30 millones de dólares al año para apoyar partidos políticos, sindicatos, movimientos disidentes y medios informativos en docenas de países”.

8. Según Allen Weistein, padre de la legislación donde se establecía la NED, “mucho de lo que hacemos hoy ya lo hacía la CIA de manera encubierta hace 25 años”.

9. Carl Gershman, primer presidente de la NED, explicó la razón de ser de la Fundación en junio de 1986: “Sería terrible para los grupos democráticos del mundo entero ser vistos como subvencionados por la CIA. Vimos eso en los años 60 y por eso pusimos término a ello. Es porque no pudimos seguir haciéndolo que se creó [la NED]”.

10. Durante su mandato de alcalde de la municipalidad de Baruta, Capriles firmó varios acuerdos con el FBI estadounidense para formar a su policía municipal, y recibió fondos de la embajada de Estados Unidos para esa misión.

11. Henrique Capriles participó activamente en el golpe de Estado contra Hugo Chávez organizado por Estados Unidos en abril de 2002. Alcalde de Baruto, procedió al arresto de numerosos partidarios del orden constitucional, entre ellos Ramón Rodríguez Chacín, entonces Ministro de Interior y Justicia, el cual fue violentamente agredido por los partidarios del golpe frente a las cámaras de televisión.

12. Al respecto, las palabras de Rodríguez Chacín son esclarecedoras: “Les hice ver [a Henrique Capriles y Leopoldo López, quienes llegaron para arrestarlo] el riesgo, el peligro que había para mi integridad física [de salir frente a la multitud], que la situación se iba a escapar de sus manos, sugerí salir por otro lugar, el sótano y la respuesta que recibí de Capriles, precisamente, fue que no, porque las cámaras estaban al frente del edificio. Ellos querían sacarme en frente de las cámaras, para exhibirme, no sé, supongo; para vanagloriarse ellos, a pesar del riesgo”.

13. Unos días antes del golpe de Estado, Capriles apareció ante las cámaras de televisión con los dirigentes de su partido político Primero Justicia para reclamar la renuncia de Hugo Chávez, de los diputados de la Asamblea Nacional, del Fiscal de la República, del Defensor del Pueblo y del Tribunal Supremo de Justicia. Tras el golpe del 11 de abril, la primera decisión de la junta golpista fue precisamente disolver todos estos órganos de la República.

14. En abril de 2002, Primero Justicia fue el único partido político en aceptar la disolución por la fuerza de la Asamblea Nacional que ordenó la junta golpista de Pedro Carmona Estanga.

15. Durante el golpe de Estado de abril de 2002, Capriles también participó en el asedio a la embajada cubana de Caracas, que organizaron la oposición venezolana y la extrema derecha cubanoamericana. Estaba presente Henry López Sisco, cómplice del terrorista cubano Luis Posada Carriles, responsable de más de un centenar de asesinatos, entre ellos el atentado contra el avión de Cubana de Aviación el 6 de octubre de 2006 que costó la vida a 73 pasajeros.

16. Tras cortar el agua y la electricidad, Capriles, quien pensaba que el vicepresidente de la época Diosdado Cabello, se había refugiado en la entidad diplomática, entró y exigió del embajador revisar el lugar, violando así el Artículo 22 de la Convención de Viena, que estipula que las representaciones diplomáticas son inviolables.

17. Germán Sánchez Otero, entonces embajador cubano en Venezuela, le respondió lo siguiente: “Si usted conoce el derecho internacional debe saber que tanto Venezuela como Cuba tienen derecho a que un ciudadano sea evaluado para recibir asilo político en cualquier sede diplomática. Un demócrata, un humanista, no puede admitir que haya niños sin agua, sin electricidad y sin comida”.

18. Al salir de la embajada, Capriles, lejos de calmar la multitud alterada, declaró a la prensa que no había podido revisar la representación diplomática y que estaba en la imposibilidad de confirmar o no la presencia de Cabello, lo que suscitó nuevas tensiones.

19. Por su participación en el golpe de Estado, Capriles fue enjuiciado y encarcelado de modo preventivo por sustraerse a la justicia.

20. El fiscal de la República, Danilo Anderson, encargado del caso Capriles fue asesinado en noviembre de 2004 en un atentado con coche bomba.

21. En 2006, los tribunales absolvieron a Capriles.

22. En 2008, se abrió un nuevo juicio penal que todavía está en curso.

23. Tras su elección en 2008 como gobernador del Estado de Miranda, Capriles expulsó de las instalaciones de la región a los funcionarios encargados de los programas sociales que elaboró el gobierno de Chávez.

24. En su programa electoral, Capriles promete luchar contra la delincuencia. No obstante, desde su llegada al poder en Miranda, la inseguridad se incrementó haciendo del Estado uno de los tres más peligrosos de Venezuela. Entre 2011 y 2012, la tasa de homicidios aumentó más de un 15%.

25. A pesar de este balance, Capriles, reelegido en 2012, todavía se niega a aceptar la implantación de la Policía Nacional Bolivariana en el territorio que dirige.

26. Entre 2008 y 2012, Capriles despidió a más de mil funcionarios en el Estado de Miranda –que trabajaban en el sector cultural– por considerarlos sospechosos de ser partidarios del antiguo gobernador chavista Diosdado Cabello, y procedió al cierre de decenas de bibliotecas.

27. En 2012, Capriles se reunió secretamente en Colombia con el general Martin Demsey, Jefe del Estado Mayor de Estados Unidos. No se filtró nada de esas conversaciones.

28. Capriles no deja de reclamarse del antiguo presidente brasileño Lula da Silva. No obstante, éste brindó varias veces su apoyo a Hugo Chávez, particularmente en las últimas elecciones de octubre de 2012. “Tu triunfo será nuestro”, declaró en un mensaje al Presidente Chávez.

29. Candidato a la elección presidencial de 2012, en nombre de la Mesa Unidad Democrática que agrupó los partidos de oposición, Capriles perdió el escrutinio con más de diez puntos de diferencia.

30. En caso de victoria en las elecciones presidenciales del 14 de abril de 2013, Capriles prometió la amnistía para Pedro Carmona Estanga, antiguo presidente de Fedecámaras que encabezó la junta militar durante el golpe de Estado, actualmente prófugo de la justicia y refugiado en Colombia.

31. El programa presidencial de Capriles es de esencia neoliberal y preconiza una aceleración de las privatizaciones en una economía controlada en más del 70% por el sector privado, una autonomía y una descentralización.

32. En caso de victoria de Capriles, la empresa petrolera nacional Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA), no se encontrará bajo control político.

33. El programa de Capriles prevé la suspensión de la ayuda financiera que otorga PDVSA al Fondo de Desarrollo Nacional (FONDEN), el cual financia las infraestructuras y los programas sociales.

34. Capriles impondrá un aumento del precio de la gasolina que se consume en el mercado nacional.

35. Se cancelarán las reformas agrarias que realizó el gobierno de Chávez y se restituirán las tierras a los latifundistas.

36. La Ley de Pesca, de la cual se beneficiaron decenas de miles de trabajadores del mar, también se abrogará.

37. Capriles autorizará en Venezuela el cultivo de organismos genéticamente modificados.

38. Capriles propone “incorporar en el sistema educativo básico y medio, temas demostrativos sobre la conexión entre propiedad, progreso económico, libertad política y desarrollo social”.

39. Capriles prevé otorgar independencia total al Banco Central de Venezuela, con el fin de evitar todo control democrático sobre las políticas financieras y monetarias, y le prohibirá “financiar el gasto público”.

40. Capriles anunció que pondría fin a la relación especial con Cuba, lo que afectará los programas sociales en los campos de la salud, la educación, el deporte y la cultura.

41. Capriles pondrá término a la Alianza Bolivariana para los Pueblos de Nuestra América (ALBA), organismo de integración regional.

42. Capriles suprimirá el programa Petrocaribe que permite actualmente a 18 países de América Latina y el Caribe, o sea 90 millones de personas, conseguir petróleo subvencionado y asegurar su abastecimiento energético.

43. Capriles prevé firmar tratados de libre cambio (TLC), particularmente con Estados Unidos y la Unión Europea.

44. Capriles prevé volver a otorgar la concesión hertziana al canal RCTV, que emite ahora vía cable y satélite, a pesar de su participación abierta en el golpe de Estado de abril de 2002.

45. Capriles prohibirá todos los programas políticos en el canal nacional Venezolana de Televisión, dejando así el monopolio del debate ciudadano a los canales privados.

46. Capriles prevé “supervisar y controlar la proliferación de emisoras de radio […] y regular el crecimiento de las emisoras de radio comunitarias”.

47. El Programa de la MUD prevé reducir sustancialmente el número de funcionarios.

48. Capriles eliminará el FONDEN, fondo especial destinado a financiar los programas sociales.

49. Capriles pondrá término a la regulación de precios que permite a toda la población adquirir los productos de primera necesidad.

50. Capriles acusa al gobierno venezolano y a la familia de Hugo Chávez de haber ocultado la muerte del Presidente. Para él, su fallecimiento ocurrió antes del 5 de marzo.

Salim Lamrani

Doctor en Estudios Ibéricos y Latinoamericanos de la Universidad Paris IV-Sorbonne, Salim Lamrani es profesor titular de la Universidad de la Reunión y periodista, especialista de las relaciones entre Cuba y Estados Unidos. Su último libro se titula Etat de siège. Les sanctions économiques des Etats-Unis contre Cuba, París, Ediciones Estrella, 2011, con un prólogo de Wayne S. Smith y un prefacio de Paul Estrade.
Contacto: [email protected] ; [email protected]
Página Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SalimLamraniOfficiel

The DPRK on March 5 declared the 1953 Armistice Agreement void. The day after, M4 Intel, April Media’s own video program, interviewed DPRK specialist Dr. Kiyul Chung to analyze the situation. Chung is convinced that given the circumstances have fundamentally changed, this latest statement will have far-reaching implications compared to a similiar announcement by Pyongyang in 2009. 

Host: Welcome to today’s M4 Intel. With us here today is Dr. Kiyul Chung, a Visiting Professor at the School of Journalism and Communication, Tsinghua University who has been participating in the Korea’s self-determined and peaceful reunification movement for decades. He has unique access in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and has personally visited the country close to 100 times, which is rare, to the say the least, for any foreign national, let alone a US citizen.We’re honored to have you here today, Dr. Chung.

We’re honored to have you here today, Dr. Chung.

Chung: Thank you very much. I’m happy to be here.

Host: Thank you. Sir, I’m just going to be blunt here. The DPRK on Tuesday night declared the 1953 Armistice Agreement void. Now, earlier, on May 27, 2009, just two days after its second nuclear test, the DPRK said pretty much something along similar lines about the same agreement; it said it was no longer bound by it. In what ways do you think these two statements, the one in 2009 and the one on Tuesday night, different?

Chung: In essence, I believe the 2009 statement and the 2013 statement are the same. That is, (the DPRK) is not bound by the Armistice Agreement which has been repeatedly violated by the other end, meaning the United States of America.

All this is coming from a country so isolated that it was blockaded for over 60 some years by the United States unilaterally, and a so-called Stalinist nation where nothing is there but the “Stalinist, Communist regime”. Their successful launching of their own satellite, including the third underground nuclear test surprised the world and left it speechless.

The point is this: in 2009, the DPRK did not have any tangible, material, physical proof to the world that it had a military or technological capacity to deter or counter the US “attack first” nuclear policy towards even non-nuclear states.

Now, what is different is that the DPRK has proven to the world that it does have intercontinental ballistic missile technology, and it’s not just nuclear weapons, hydrogen and neutron bombs, including EMP, or electromagnetic [pulse] power are also things they seem to have.

So the statement last night from the Spokesman for the army’s Supreme Command that the armistice agreement would be void as of March 11 means that it seems the DPRK’s wording is not anymore “language only”. It feels real. Something is coming.

The US has even further stepped up anti-DPRK demonization and isolation, and now there’s about 200,000 South Korean troops and 10,000 US troops with every possible sophisticated US war machines there in the region. Their military drill is a war drill and can be turned into a real war within five minutes, as many experts argue.

So the DPRK seems to have no choice but to do something to defend itself. Since last year, Kim Jong-un, the new leader of DPRK, has declared that they would not wait any longer, and that they would wage all-out war. With the declaration of this all-out war approach, and including last night’s void of the armistice agreement as of March 11, many people in this field feel that something is genuinely different from 2009.

Host: Right. But in terms of the language, in terms of the statements themselves, it seems to you that the wording is not much…

Chung: Essentially, in my own interpretation, they’re not much different. But the situation is fundamentally different, I would say.

Host: Professor, people say that the DPRK is sending mixed signals. Tuesday’s announcement came just days after former NBA superstar Dennis Rodman led a team of American basketball players on a historic visit to Pyongyang. Also recently, we have learned that the DPRK has offered virtual asylum to the vastly influential BitTorrent site The Pirate Bay. Both of these events have surprised many throughout the world. Why did this statement come now?

Chung: I think we need to pay more attention to the timing (of  Tuesdays’ statement), which is right before the UN Security Council was about to meet to talk about the DPRK’s third nuclear test. So from the timing of this, it seems that the DPRK wanted to a send a clear message to the United States of America: We’re not playing by words. It is real, what we say now.

Dennis Rodman’s visited Pyongyang, and the Google power figure visited at the end of last year. Many people do not know that now in Pyongyang, some of the world’s largest media companies, AP, the Associated Press, and Reuters, have their branches. And so does Kyodo, the Japanese news agency, also has a branch there, and so does CCTV and Xinhua News Agency.

With Kim Jong-un’s new leadership, it seems that compared to the past, the DPRK is ready not only militarily, but also economically. Or, there is a sense of confidence in their own way of development, of their own domestic economic development, and they continue to reach out to the international community, and to relate to other people by bringing in people like Dennis Rodman, Google’s former president, or AP or Reuters.

The message is that while it is engaging in real, serious, life-and-death situation to fight with the US in a 70-year-long and still ongoing hard struggle, the DPRK is at the same time wide open. We are part of the international community; don’t make us look like “demons”. We are part of the world.

I hope that the Chinese leadership can take the proper measures and decisions, sitting as one of the permanent UNSC powers in the UNSC structure, and not be manipulated again by the United States of America, while China itself is being militarily encircled, and while the US is using the South China Sea issue to divide China from its neighboring nations including the Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia and Indonesia. The same thing applies to Russia’s situation.

For 60 years the DPRK has been blockaded, isolated and demonized. Now, they would be all by themselves if China and Russia join the US.

It also reminds me, and I often mention that in my articles, that in the mid-1960s China was in exactly the same situation as the DPRK is now. It was threatened by the United States and British. Robert McNamara, former Defense Secretary in the US, threatened to bomb Beijing if China pursued its own independent nuclear program. And then, its closest “socialist” neighbor, the Soviet Union, joined the US and Britain in threatening to isolate China and demonize China. Chairman Mao Zedong and Prime Minister Zhou Enlai, then Chinese leaders, decided to build their own independent nuclear power anyway by any means necessary. Then New China, soon after its founding, had called for bilateral relations with all nations around the world, including the West. But China had been ruled out. It had not been respected. The US and the West had not agreed to build bilateral relations. It changed only until when China became a nuclear power in 1964. France came first, and then the US came. So that by 1979, China was able to develop its reform and opening up policy.

The DPRK does not have bilateral relations with the West or with the United States. The DPRK has called for over 50 some years to sign the Peace Treaty to replace the armistice agreement, which has been refused by the United States. What else can this small, divided nation do in the face of weeks, months and all 67 years of threatening by a global superpower with nuclear weapons?

I hope, since I’m here, and I’m told by my Chinese friends in the government, that the Chinese government can do everything possible to not let the harshest sanctions be passed at the UNSC structure. I know the Chinese government does its best to make things better and stable and peaceful. But again, it seems still that the US-led global manipulation and the divide-and-conquer strategy is ongoing as of today at the United Nations Security Council discussions on the DPRK.

Host: But professor, you said you believe there are tangible things that Russia and China can do to deter or balance this manipulation of powers.

Chung: Unless if China and Russia agree, there is no way the US or the West can go along to further isolate or sanction the DPRK. Before the Iraq War, they didn’t get any support from China and Russia, or from Germany and France. So the G. W. Bush invasion of Iraq became a disaster.

When the US and NATO invaded Libya in March 17, 2011, unfortunately, China and Russia allowed them to go ahead with the “No-Fly Zone”. And after eight months, a sovereign, independent nation was destroyed. It was gone.

In the UN structure, China and Russia still hold a fundamental, determining power not to allow the US-led NATO powers to violate an independent nation’s sovereignty in the region and around the world.

I do sincerely hope that China and Russia’s national leaders take the proper, balanced measures not just for the sake of the DPRK, but for the sake of their own nations, the region and the world.

Host: Welcome to today’s M4 Intel. With us here today is Dr. Kiyul Chung, a journalism professor at Tsinghua University who has been leading Korea’s reunification movement for decades. He has unique access in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and has personally visited the country close to 100 times, which is rare, to the say the least, for any foreign national, let alone a US citizen.

Chung: Thank you very much. I’m happy to be here.

Host: Thank you. Sir, I’m just going to be blunt here. The DPRK on Tuesday night declared the 1953 Armistice Agreement void. Now, earlier, on May 27, 2009, just two days after its second nuclear test, the DPRK said pretty much something along similar lines about the same agreement; it said it was no longer bound by it. In what ways do you think these two statements, the one in 2009 and the one on Tuesday night, different?

Chung: In essence, I believe the 2009 statement and the 2013 statement are the same. That is, (the DPRK) is not bound by the Armistice Agreement which has been repeatedly violated by the other end, meaning the United States of America.

All this is coming from a country so isolated that it was blockaded for over 60 some years by the United States unilaterally, and a so-called Stalinist nation where nothing is there but the “Stalinist, Communist regime”. Their successful launching of their own satellite, including the third underground nuclear test surprised the world and left it speechless.

The point is this: in 2009, the DPRK did not have any tangible, material, physical proof to the world that it had a military or technological capacity to deter or counter the US “attack first” nuclear policy towards even non-nuclear states.

Now, what is different is that the DPRK has proven to the world that it does have intercontinental ballistic missile technology, and it’s not just nuclear weapons, hydrogen and neutron bombs, including EMP, or electromagnetic power are also things they seem to have.

So the statement last night from the Spokesman for the army’s Supreme Command that the armistice agreement would be void as of March 11 means that it seems the DPRK’s wording is not anymore “language only”. It feels real. Something is coming.

The US has even further stepped up anti-DPRK demonization and isolation, and now there’s about 200,000 South Korean troops and 10,000 US troops with every possible sophisticated US war machines there in the region. Their military drill is a war drill and can be turned into a real war within five minutes, as many experts argue.

So the DPRK seems to have no choice but to do something to defend itself. Since last year, Kim Jong-un, the new leader of DPRK, has declared that they would not wait any longer, and that they would wage all-out war. With the declaration of this all-out war approach, and including last night’s void of the armistice agreement as of March 11, many people in this field feel that something is genuinely different from 2009.

Host: Right. But in terms of the language, in terms of the statements themselves, it seems to you that the wording is not much…

Chung: Essentially, in my own interpretation, they’re not much different. But the situation is fundamentally different, I would say.

Host: Professor, people say that the DPRK is sending mixed signals. Tuesday’s announcement came just days after former NBA superstar Dennis Rodman led a team of American basketball players on a historic visit to Pyongyang. Also recently, we have learned that the DPRK has offered virtual asylum to the vastly influential BitTorrent site The Pirate Bay. Both of these events have surprised many throughout the world. Why did this statement come now?

Chung: I think we need to pay more attention to the timing (of Tuesdays’ statement), which is right before the UN Security Council was about to meet to talk about the DPRK’s third nuclear test. So from the timing of this, it seems that the DPRK wanted to a send a clear message to the United States of America: We’re not playing by words. It is real, what we say now.

Dennis Rodman’s visited Pyongyang, and the Google power figure visited at the end of last year. Many people do not know that now in Pyongyang, some of the world’s largest media companies, AP, the Associated Press, and Reuters, have their branches. And so does Kyodo, the Japanese news agency, also has a branch there, and so does CCTV and Xinhua News Agency.

With Kim Jong-un’s new leadership, it seems that compared to the past, the DPRK is ready not only militarily, but also economically. Or, there is a sense of confidence in their own way of development, of their own domestic economic development, and they continue to reach out to the international community, and to relate to other people by bringing in people like Dennis Rodman, Google’s former president, or AP or Reuters.

The message is that while it is engaging in real, serious, life-and-death situation to fight with the US in a 70-year-long and still ongoing hard struggle, the DPRK is at the same time wide open. We are part of the international community; don’t make us look like “demons”. We are part of the world.

I hope that the Chinese leadership can take the proper measures and decisions, sitting as one of the permanent UNSC powers in the UNSC structure, and not be manipulated again by the United States of America, while China itself is being militarily encircled, and while the US is using the South China Sea issue to divide China from its neighboring nations including the Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia and Indonesia. The same thing applies to Russia’s situation.

60 years the DPRK has been blockaded, isolated and demonized. Now, they would be all by themselves if China and Russia join the US.

It also reminds me, and I often mention that in my articles, that in the mid-1960s China was in exactly the same situation as the DPRK is now. It was threatened by the United States and British. Robert McNamara, former Defense Secretary in the US, threatened to bomb Beijing if China pursued its own independent nuclear program. And then, its closest “socialist” neighbor, the Soviet Union, joined the US and Britain in threatening to isolate China and demonize China. Chairman Mao Zedong and Prime Minister Zhou Enlai, then Chinese leaders, decided to build their own independent nuclear power anyway by any means necessary. Then New China, soon after its founding, had called for bilateral relations with all nations around the world, including the West. But China had been ruled out. It had not been respected. The US and the West had not agreed to build bilateral relations. It changed only until when China became a nuclear power in 1964. France came first, and then the US came. So that by 1979, China was able to develop its reform and opening up policy.

The DPRK does not have bilateral relations with the West or with the United States. The DPRK has called for over 50 some years to sign the Peace Treaty to replace the armistice agreement, which has been refused by the United States. What else can this small, divided nation do in the face of weeks, months and all 67 years of threatening by a global superpower with nuclear weapons?

I hope, since I’m here, and I’m told by my Chinese friends in the government, that the Chinese government can do everything possible to not let the harshest sanctions be passed at the UNSC structure. I know the Chinese government does its best to make things better and stable and peaceful. But again, it seems still that the US-led global manipulation and the divide-and-conquer strategy is ongoing as of today at the United Nations Security Council discussions on the DPRK.

Host: But professor, you said you believe there are tangible things that Russia and China can do to deter or balance this manipulation of powers.

Chung: Unless if China and Russia agree, there is no way the US or the West can go along to further isolate or sanction the DPRK. Before the Iraq War, they didn’t get any support from China and Russia, or from Germany and France. So the G. W. Bush invasion of Iraq became a disaster.

When the US and NATO invaded Libya in March 17, 2011, unfortunately, China and Russia allowed them to go ahead with the “No-Fly Zone”. And after eight months, a sovereign, independent nation was destroyed. It was gone.

In the UN structure, China and Russia still hold a fundamental, determining power not to allow the US-led NATO powers to violate an independent nation’s sovereignty in the region and around the world.

I do sincerely hope that China and Russia’s national leaders take the proper, balanced measures not just for the sake of the DPRK, but for the sake of their own nations, the region and the world.

Conheça em Opera Mundi mais detalhes da trajetória de Henrique Capriles, governador de Miranda e candidato às eleições presidenciais venezuelanas do próximo mês.

1. Nascido em 1972, Henrique Capriles Radonsky vem de uma das mais poderosas famílias venezuelanas, que se encontra à frente de vários conglomerados industrial, imobiliário e midiático, além de possuírem o Cinex (Circuito Nacional de Exibições), a segunda maior cadeia de cinemas do país.

2. Sua família é proprietária do diário Últimas Notícias, de maior difusão nacional, além de cadeias de rádios e um canal de televisão.

3. Nos anos 80, militou no partido de extrema direita Tradição, Família e Propriedade.

Agência Efe

Capriles acusa família de Chávez de manipular a data da morte do presidente venezuelano

4. Capriles foi eleito deputado em 1999 pelo estado de Zulia, no partido de direita COPEI. Contra todas as previsões e apesar de sua inexperiência política, foi imediatamente nomeado presidente da Câmara dos Deputados, convertendo-se no deputado mais jovem a dirigi-la.

5. Na realidade, conseguiu se impor aos outros aspirantes com maior trajetória política graças ao poder econômico e financeiro de sua família, que financiou as campanhas de muitos deputados.

6. Em 2000, fundou o partido político Primero Justicia, com o conservador Leopoldo López, e se aliou ao International Republican Institute, braço internacional do Partido Republicano norte-americano. O presidente norte-americano à época era George W. Bush, que ofereceu um amplo apoio à nova formação política que fazia oposição a Hugo Chávez, principalmente mediante o NED (National Endowment for Democracy).

7. Segundo o New York Times, “A NED foi criada há 15 anos para levar a cabo publicamente o que a Agência Central de Inteligência (CIA) fez ocultamente durante décadas. Gasta 30 milhões de dólares por ano para apoiar partidos políticos, sindicatos, movimentos dissidentes e meios informativos em dezenas de países”.

8. Segundo Allen Weinstein, pai da legislação que estabelecia a NED, “muito do que estamos fazendo hoje era feito pela CIA de modo encoberto há 25 anos”.

9. Carl Gershman, primeiro presidente da NED, explicou a razão de ser da fundação: “Seria terrível para os grupos democráticos do mundo inteiro serem vistos como subvencionados pela CIA. Vimos isso nos anos 60 e, por isso, colocamos fim nisso. É porque não podemos continuar fazendo isso que ela foi criada [a NED].

10. Durante seu mandato de prefeito do município de Baruta, Capriles assinou vários acordos com o norte-americano FBI para formar sua polícia municipal e recebeu fundos da embaixada dos Estados Unidos para essa missão.

11. Henrique Capriles participou ativamente do golpe de Estado contra Hugo Chávez, organizado pelos Estados Unidos em abril de 2002. Prefeito de Baruta, fez a prisão de numerosos partidários da ordem institucional – entre eles Ramón Rodríguez Chacín, então Ministro do Interior e Justiça, o qual foi violentamente agredido pelos partidários do golpe em frente às câmeras de televisão.

12. A respeito disso, as palavras de Rodríguez Chacín são esclarecedoras: “Eu os fiz ver [a Henrique Capriles e Leopoldo López, que chegaram para prendê-lo] o risco, o perigo que havia para minha integridade física [de sair diante da multidão], que a situação ia fugir de seu controle, sugeri sair por outro lugar, o porão, e a resposta que recebi de Capriles, precisamente, foi que não, porque as câmeras estavam em frente ao prédio. Eles queriam me tirar de lá em frente às câmeras, para me exibir, não sei, suponho; para se vangloriarem, apesar do risco”.

13. Uns dias antes do golpe de Estado, Capriles apareceu diante das câmeras de televisão com os dirigentes de seu partido político Primero Justicia para reclamar a renúncia de Hugo Chávez, dos deputados da Assembleia Nacional, do Procurador-Geral da República, do Defensor do Povo e do Tribunal Supremo de Justiça. Após o golpe de 11 de abril, a primeira decisão da junta golpista foi precisamente dissolver todos esses órgãos da República.

14. Em abril de 2002, o Primero Justicia foi o único partido político a aceitar a dissolução forçada da Assembleia Nacional, ordenada pela junta golpista de Pedro Carmona Estanga.

15. Durante o golpe de Estado de abril de 2002, Capriles também participou do assalto à embaixada cubana de Caracas, organizado pela oposição venezuelana e pela direita cubano-americana. Estava presente Henry López Sisco, cúmplice do terrorista cubano Luis Posada Carriles, responsável por mais de uma centena de assassinatos, entre eles o atentado contra o avião da Cubana de Aviación, em 6 de outubro de 2006, que custou a vida de 73 passageiros.

16. Após cortar água e energia elétrica, Capriles, que pensava que o vice-presidente à época, Diosdado Cabello, havia se refugiado na embaixada cubana, entrou no local e exigiu do embaixador para revistá-lo, violando assim o Artigo 22 da Convenção de Viena, que determina que as representações diplomáticas são invioláveis.

17. Germán Sánchez Otero, então embaixador cubano na Venezuela, lhe respondeu o seguinte: “Se o senhor conhece o direito internacional, deve saber que tanto a Venezuela como Cuba garantem o direito de um cidadão ser avaliado para receber asilo político em qualquer sede diplomática. Um democrata, um humanista, não pode admitir que haja crianças sem água, sem eletricidade, sem comida”.

18. Ao sair da embaixada, Capriles, longe de acalmar a multidão alterada, declarou à imprensa que não pôde revistar a representação diplomática e que estava na impossibilidade de confirmar ou não a presença de Cabello, o que suscitou novas tensões.

19. Por sua participação no golpe de Estado, Capriles foi julgado e preso de forma preventiva por escapar à justiça.

20. O Procurador-Geral da República, Danilo Anderson, encarregado do caso Capriles, foi assassinado em novembro de 2004, em um atentado a bomba com um carro.

21. Em 2006, os tribunais absolveram Capriles.

22. Em 2008, foi aberto um novo julgamento, que ainda está em curso.

23. Após sua eleição em 2008 como governador do estado de Miranda, Capriles expulsou das instalações da região os funcionários encarregados dos programas sociais elaborados pelo governo de Chávez.

24. Em seu programa eleitoral, Capriles promete lutar contra o crime. No entanto, desde sua chegada ao poder em Miranda, a insegurança aumentou, fazendo desse estado um dos três mais perigosos da Venezuela. Entre 2011 e 2012, a taxa de homicídios aumentou mais de 15%.

Agência Efe

Capriles durante uma de suas primeiras viagens para buscar votos às eleições de abril de 2013

25. Apesar desse balanço, Capriles, reeleito em 2012, ainda se nega a aceitar a implementação da Polícia Nacional Bolivariana no território que dirige.

26. Entre 2008 e 2012, Capriles demitiu mais de mil funcionários no estado de Miranda – que trabalham no setor cultural – por considerá-los suspeitos de serem partidários do ex-governador chavista Diosdado Cabello, e fechou dezenas de bibliotecas.

27. Em 2012, Capriles se reuniu secretamente na Colômbia com o general Martin Demsey, Chefe do Estado Maior dos Estados Unidos. Não se soube nada dessas conversas.

28. Capriles não deixa de se referir ao ex-presidente brasileiro Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. No entanto, este já declarou várias vezes seu apoio a Hugo Chávez, particularmente nas últimas eleições de outubro de 2012. “Sua vitória será nossa”, declarou em uma mensagem ao Presidente Chávez.

29. Candidato na eleição presidencial de 2012, Capriles, o nome da Mesa Unidad Democrática, que agrupou os partidos de oposição, perdeu por mais de 10 pontos de diferença.

30. Em caso de vitória nas eleições presidenciais de 14 de abril de 2013, Capriles prometeu anistia para Pedro Carmona Estanga, ex-presidente da Fedecámaras que encabeçou a junta militar durante o golpe de Estado. Atualmente, ele está foragido da justiça e refugiado na Colômbia.

31. O programa presidencial de Capriles é, em essência, neoliberal e preconiza uma aceleração das privatizações em uma economia controlada em mais de 70% pelo setor privado, uma autonomia e uma descentralização.

32. No caso da vitória de Capriles, a empresa petroleira nacional Petróleos de Venezuela S.A (PDVSA) não estará sob controle político.

33. O programa de Capriles prevê a suspensão da ajuda financeira outorgada pela PDVSA ao Fundo de Desenvolvimento Nacional (FONDEN), que financia as obras de infraestrutura e os programas sociais.

34. Capriles imporá um aumento do preço da gasolina consumida no mercado nacional.

35. Serão canceladas as reformas agrárias realizadas pelo governo de Chávez, restituindo as terras aos latifundiários.

36. A Lei de Pesca, da qual se beneficiaram dezenas de milhares de trabalhadores do mar, também será revogada.

37. Capriles autorizará o cultivo de organismos geneticamente modificados na Venezuela.

38. Capriles propõe “incorporar no sistema educacional básico e médio temas demonstrativos sobre a conexão entre propriedade, progresso econômico, liberdade política e desenvolvimento social”.

39. Capriles prevê outorgar independência total ao Banco Central da Venezuela, com o fim de evitar todo controle democrático sobre as políticas financeiras e monetárias, e o proibirá de “financiar o gasto público”.

40. Capriles anunciou que poria fim à relação especial com Cuba, o que afetará os programas sociais nas áreas da saúde, educação, esporte e cultura.

41. Capriles porá fim à Aliança Bolivariana para os Povos da Nossa América (ALBA), organismo de integração regional.

42. Capriles acabará com o programa Petrocaribe, que permite atualmente que 18 países da América Latina e do Caribe, ou seja, 90 milhões de pessoas, consigam petróleo subsidiado, assegurando seu abastecimento energético.

43. Capriles prevê assinar Tratados de Livre Comércio (TLC), particularmente com os Estados Unidos e a União Europeia.

44. Capriles prevê voltar a outorgar concessão ao canal RCTV, que agora é transmitido via cabo e satélite, apesar de sua participação aberta no golpe de Estado de abril de 2002.

45. Capriles proibirá todos os programas políticos no canal nacional Venezolana de Televisión, deixando assim o monopólio do debate cidadão para os canais privados.

46. Capriles prevê “supervisionar e controlar a proliferação de emissoras de rádio […] e regular o crescimento das emissoras de rádio comunitárias”.

47. O Programa da MUD prevê reduzir substancialmente o número de funcionários.

48. Capriles eliminará o FONDEN, fundo especial destinado a financiar os programas sociais.

49. Capriles colocará fim ao controle de preços, que permite a toda a população adquirir os produtos de necessidade básica.

50. Capriles acusa o governo venezuelano e a família de Hugo Chávez de ter ocultado a morte do presidente. Para ele, seu falecimento ocorreu antes de 5 de março.

Salim Lamrani

10 Years Later: The Mysterious Why of the Iraq War

March 21st, 2013 by Robert Parry

Americans today know a lot more about Iraq than they did ten years ago, knowledge gained painfully from the blood of soldiers and civilians. But a crucial question remains: why did George W. Bush and his neocon advisers rush headlong into this disastrous war, a mystery Robert Parry unwinds.

A decade after President George W. Bush ordered the unprovoked invasion of Iraq, one of the enduring mysteries has been why. There was the rationale sold to a frightened American people in 2002-2003 – that Saddam Hussein was plotting to attack them with WMDs – but no one in power really believed that.

There have been other more plausible explanations: George Bush the Younger wanted to avenge a perceived slight to George Bush the Elder, while also outdoing his father as a “war president”; Vice President Dick Cheney had his eye on Iraq’s oil wealth; and the Republican Party saw an opportunity to create its “permanent majority” behind a glorious victory in the Middle East.

Image: A satirical Mad magazine poster connecting George H.W. Bush’s Persian Gulf War against Iraq in 1991 with George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Though George W. Bush’s defenders vigorously denied being motivated by such crass thinking, those rationales do seem closer to the truth. However, there was another driving force behind the desire to conquer Iraq: the neoconservative belief that the conquest would be a first step toward installing compliant pro-U.S. regimes throughout the Middle East and letting Israel dictate final peace terms to its neighbors.

That rationale has often been dressed up as “democratizing” the Middle East, but the idea was more a form of “neocolonialism,” in which American proconsuls would make sure that a favored leader, like the Iraqi National Congress’ Ahmed Chalabi, would control each country and align the nations’ positions with the interests of the United States and Israel.

Some analysts have traced this idea back to the neocon Project for the New American Century in the late 1990s, which advocated for “regime change” in Iraq. But the idea’s origins go back to the early 1990s and to two seminal events.

The first game-changing moment came in 1990-91 when President George H.W. Bush showed off the unprecedented advancements in U.S. military technology. Almost from the moment that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, the Iraqi dictator began signaling his willingness to withdraw after having taught the arrogant al-Sabah ruling family in Kuwait a lesson in power politics.

But the Bush-41 administration wasn’t willing to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the Kuwait invasion. Instead of letting Hussein arrange an orderly withdrawal, Bush-41 began baiting him with insults and blocking any face-saving way for a retreat.

Peace feelers from Hussein and later from Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev were rebuffed as Bush-41 waited his chance to demonstrate the stunning military realities of his New World Order. Even the U.S. field commander, Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, favored Gorbachev’s plan for letting Iraqi forces pull back, but Bush-41 was determined to have a ground war.

So, Gorbachev’s plan was bypassed and the ground war commenced with the slaughter of Iraqi troops, many of them draftees who were mowed down and incinerated as they fled back toward Iraq. After 100 hours, Bush-41 ordered a halt to the massacre. He then revealed a key part of his motivation by declaring: “We’ve kicked the Vietnam Syndrome once and for all.” [For details, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege.]

Neocons Celebrate

Official Washington took note of the new realities and the renewed public enthusiasm for war. In a post-war edition, Newsweek devoted a full page to up-and-down arrows in its “Conventional Wisdom Watch.” Bush got a big up arrow with the snappy comment: “Master of all he surveys. Look at my polls, ye Democrats, and despair.”

For his last-minute stab at a negotiated Iraqi withdrawal, Gorbachev got a down arrow: “Give back your Nobel, Comrade Backstabber. P.S. Your tanks stink.” Vietnam also got a down arrow: “Where’s that? You mean there was a war there too? Who cares?”

Neocon pundits, already dominating Washington’s chattering class, could barely contain their glee with the only caveat that Bush-41 had ended the Iraqi turkey shoot too soon and should have taken the carnage all the way to Baghdad.

The American people also rallied to the lopsided victory, celebrating with ticker-tape parades and cheering fireworks in honor of the conquering heroes. The victory-parade extravaganza stretched on for months, as hundreds of thousands jammed Washington for what was called “the mother of all parades.”

Americans bought Desert Storm T-shirts by the caseloads; kids were allowed to climb on tanks and other military hardware; the celebration concluded with what was called “the mother of all fireworks displays.” The next day, the Washington Post captured the mood with a headline: “Love Affair on the Mall: People and War Machines.”

The national bonding extended to the Washington press corps, which happily shed its professional burden of objectivity to join the national celebration. At the annual Gridiron Club dinner, where senior government officials and top journalists get to rub shoulders in a fun-filled evening, the men and women of the news media applauded wildly everything military.

The highlight of the evening was a special tribute to “the troops,” with a reading of a soldier’s letter home and then a violinist playing the haunting strains of Jay Ungar’s “Ashoken Farewell.” Special lyrics honoring Desert Storm were put to the music and the journalists in the Gridiron singers joined in the chorus: “Through the fog of distant war/Shines the strength of their devotion/To honor, to duty,/To sweet liberty.”

Among the celebrants at the dinner was Defense Secretary Cheney, who took note of how the Washington press corps was genuflecting before a popular war. Referring to the tribute, Cheney noted in some amazement, “You would not ordinarily expect that kind of unrestrained comment by the press.”

A month later at the White House Correspondents Dinner, the U.S. news media and celebrity guests cheered lustily when General Schwarzkopf was introduced. “It was like a Hollywood opening,” commented one journalist referring to the spotlights swirling around the field commander.

Neocon pundit Charles Krauthammer lectured the few dissidents who found the press corps’ groveling before the President and the military unsettling. “Loosen up, guys,” Krauthammer wrote. “Raise a glass, tip a hat, wave a pom-pom to the heroes of Desert Storm. If that makes you feel you’re living in Sparta, have another glass.”

American Hegemony

Like other observers, the neocons had seen how advanced U.S. technology had changed the nature of warfare. “Smart bombs” zeroed in on helpless targets; electronic sabotage disrupted enemy command and control; exquisitely equipped American troops outclassed the Iraqi military chugging around in Soviet-built tanks. War was made to look easy and fun with very light U.S. casualties.

The collapse of the Soviet Union later in 1991 represented the removal of the last obstacle to U.S. hegemony. The remaining question for the neocons was how to get and keep control of the levers of American power. However, those levers slipped out of their grasp with Bush-41’s favoritism toward his “realist” foreign policy advisers and then Bill Clinton’s election in 1992.

But the neocons still held many cards in the early 1990s, having gained credentials from their work in the Reagan administration and having built alliances with other hard-liners such as Bush-41’s Defense Secretary Cheney. The neocons also had grabbed important space on the opinion pages of key newspapers, like the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, and influential chairs inside major foreign-policy think tanks.

The second game-changing event took place amid the neocon infatuation with Israel’s Likud leaders. In the mid-1990s, prominent American neocons, including Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, went to work for the campaign of Benjamin Netanyahu and tossed aside old ideas about a negotiated peace settlement with Israel’s Arab neighbors.

Rather than suffer the frustrations of negotiating a two-state solution to the Palestinian problem or dealing with the annoyance of Hezbollah in Lebanon, the neocons on Netanyahu’s team decided it was time for a bold new direction, which they outlined in a 1996 strategy paper, called “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.”

The paper advanced the idea that only “regime change” in hostile Muslim countries could achieve the necessary “clean break” from the diplomatic standoffs that had followed inconclusive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Under this “clean break,” Israel would no longer seek peace through compromise, but rather through confrontation, including the violent removal of leaders such as Saddam Hussein who were supportive of Israel’s close-in enemies.

The plan called Hussein’s ouster “an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right,” but also one that would destabilize the Assad dynasty in Syria and thus topple the power dominoes into Lebanon, where Hezbollah might soon find itself without its key Syrian ally. Iran also could find itself in the cross-hairs of “regime change.”

American Assistance

But what the “clean break” needed was the military might of the United States, since some of the targets like Iraq were too far away and too powerful to be defeated even by Israel’s highly efficient military. The cost in Israeli lives and to Israel’s economy from such overreach would have been staggering.

In 1998, the U.S. neocon brain trust pushed the “clean break” plan another step forward with the creation of the Project for the New American Century, which lobbied President Clinton to undertake the violent overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

However, Clinton would only go so far, maintaining a harsh embargo on Iraq and enforcing a “no-fly zone” which involved U.S. aircraft conducting periodic bombing raids. Still, with Clinton or his heir apparent, Al Gore, in the White House, a full-scale invasion of Iraq appeared out of the question.

The first key political obstacle was removed when the neocons helped engineer George W. Bush’s ascension to the presidency in Election 2000. However, the path was not fully cleared until al-Qaeda terrorists attacked New York and Washington on Sept. 11, 2001, leaving behind a political climate across America favoring war and revenge.

Of course, Bush-43 had to first attack Afghanistan, where al-Qaeda maintained its principal base, but he then quickly pivoted to the neocons’ desired target, Iraq. Besides being home to the already demonized Saddam Hussein, Iraq had other strategic advantages. It was not as heavily populated as some of its neighbors yet it was positioned squarely between Iran and Syria, two other top targets.

In those heady days of 2002-2003, a neocon joke posed the question of what to do after ousting Saddam Hussein in Iraq – whether to next go east to Iran or west to Syria. The punch-line was: “Real men go to Tehran.”

But first Iraq had to be vanquished, and this other agenda – restructuring the Middle East to make it safe for U.S. and Israeli interests – had to be played down, partly because average Americans might be skeptical and because expert Americans might have warned about the dangers from U.S. imperial overreach.

So, Bush-43, Vice President Cheney and their neocon advisers pushed the “hot button” of the American people, still frightened by the horrors of 9/11. The bogus case was made that Saddam Hussein had stockpiles of WMD that he was ready to give to al-Qaeda so the terrorists could inflict even greater devastation on the U.S. homeland.

Stampeding America

The neocons, some of whom grew up in families of left-wing Trotskyites, viewed themselves as a kind of a “vanguard” party using “agit-prop” to maneuver the American “proletariat.” The WMD scare was seen as the best way to stampede the American herd. Then, the neocon thinking went, the military victory in Iraq would consolidate war support and permit implementation of the next phases toward “regime change” in Iran and Syria.

The plan seemed to be working early, as the U.S. military overwhelmed the beleaguered Iraqi army and captured Baghdad in three weeks. Bush-43 celebrated by landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln in a flight suit and delivering a speech beneath a banner reading “Mission Accomplished.”

However, the plan began to go awry when neocon pro-consul Paul Bremer – in pursuit of a neocon model regime – got rid of Iraq’s governing infrastructure, dismantled much of the social safety net and disbanded the army. Then, the neocon-favored leader, exile Ahmed Chalabi, turned out to be a non-starter with the Iraqi people.

An armed resistance emerged, using low-tech weapons such as “improvised explosive devices.” Soon, not only were thousands of American soldiers dying but ancient sectarian rivalries between Shiites and Sunnis began tearing Iraq apart. The scenes of chaotic violence were horrific.

Rather than gaining in popularity with the American people, the war began to lose support, leading to Democratic gains in 2006. The neocons salvaged some of their status in 2007 by pushing the fiction of the “successful surge,” which supposedly had turned impending defeat into victory, but the truth was that the “surge” only delayed the inevitable failure of the U.S. enterprise.

With George W. Bush’s departure in 2009 and the arrival of Barack Obama, the neocons retreated, too. Neocon influence waned within the Executive Branch, though neocons still maintained strongholds at Washington think tanks and on editorial pages of national news outlets like the Washington Post.

New developments in the region also created new neocon hopes for their old agenda. The Arab Spring of 2011 led to civil unrest in Syria where the Assad dynasty – based in non-Sunni religious sects – was challenged by a Sunni-led insurgency which included some democratic reformers as well as radical jihadists.

Meanwhile, in Iran, international opposition to its nuclear program prompted harsh economic sanctions. Though President Obama viewed the sanctions as leverage to compel Iran to accept limits on its nuclear program, some neocons were salivating over how to hijack the sanctions on behalf of “regime change.”

However, in November 2012, Obama’s defeat of neocon favorite Mitt Romney and the departure of neocon ally, CIA Director David Petraeus, were sharp blows to the neocon plans of reclaiming the reins of U.S. foreign policy. Now, the neocons must see how they can leverage their continued influence over Washington’s opinion circles – and hope for advantageous developments abroad – to steer Obama toward more confrontational approaches with Iran and Syria.

For the neocons, it also remains crucial that average Americans don’t think too much about the why behind the disastrous Iraq War, a tenth anniversary that can’t pass quickly enough as far as the neocons are concerned.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

Cheney Caught In Another Major Lie

Everyone knew that Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction (update here).

Dick Cheney admits that he lied about 9/11.

MSNBC recently noted that these two facts are intertwined:

Mark Rossini, was then an FBI counter-terrorism agent detailed to the CIA. He was assigned the task of evaluating a Czech intelligence report that Mohammed Atta, the lead 9/11 hijacker, had met with an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague before the attack on the World Trade Towers.

Cheney repeatedly invoked the report as evidence of Iraqi involvement in 9/11. “It’s been pretty well confirmed that he [Atta] did go to Prague and he did meet with  a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia  last April,” Cheney said on Meet the Press on Dec. 9, 2001.

But the evidence used to support the claim–a supposed photograph of Atta in Prague the day of the alleged meeting—had already been debunked by Rossini. He analyzed the photo and immediately saw it was bogus: the picture of the Czech “Atta” looked nothing like the real terrorist. It was a conclusion he relayed up the chain, assuming he had put the matter to rest.

Then he heard Cheney endorsing the discredited report on national television. “I remember looking at the TV screen and saying, ‘What did I just hear?’ And I–first time in my life, I actually threw something at the television because I couldn’t believe what I just heard,” Rossini says.

Rossini gave MSNBC an example in an interview for the documentary Hubris:

Mohammed Atta was a sleight guy … barely 5’5 or 5’6, and skinny.  The guy in the photograph was muscular, thick, and had a neck like the size of two of my necks.  And I thought, “that’s not Mohammed Atta in the photograph!”  But I sent it to the lab anyway, knowing that would put it to rest.

McClatchy confirmed in 2009:

Former senior U.S. intelligence official familiar with the interrogation issue said that Cheney and former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld demanded that the interrogators find evidence of al Qaida-Iraq collaboration…

For most of 2002 and into 2003, Cheney and Rumsfeld, especially, were also demanding proof of the links between al Qaida and Iraq that (former Iraqi exile leader Ahmed) Chalabi and others had told them were there.”

It was during this period that CIA interrogators waterboarded two alleged top al Qaida detainees repeatedly — Abu Zubaydah at least 83 times in August 2002 and Khalid Sheik Muhammed 183 times in March 2003 — according to a newly released Justice Department document…

When people kept coming up empty, they were told by Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s people to push harder,” he continued.”Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s people were told repeatedly, by CIA . . . and by others, that there wasn’t any reliable intelligence that pointed to operational ties between bin Laden and Saddam . . .

A former U.S. Army psychiatrist, Maj. Charles Burney, told Army investigators in 2006 that interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility were under “pressure” to produce evidence of ties between al Qaida and Iraq.

“While we were there a large part of the time we were focused on trying to establish a link between al Qaida and Iraq and we were not successful in establishing a link between al Qaida and Iraq,” Burney told staff of the Army Inspector General. “The more frustrated people got in not being able to establish that link . . . there was more and more pressure to resort to measures that might produce more immediate results.”

“I think it’s obvious that the administration was scrambling then to try to find a connection, a link (between al Qaida and Iraq),” [Senator] Levin said in a conference call with reporters. “They made out links where they didn’t exist.”

Levin recalled Cheney’s assertions that a senior Iraqi intelligence officer had met Mohammad Atta, the leader of the 9/11 hijackers, in the Czech Republic capital of Prague just months before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The FBI and CIA found that no such meeting occurred.

Postscript:  Indeed the entire torture program was implemented in an attempt to justify the Iraq war.  And the 9/11 Commission was set up with false torture testimony.  More background on the Iraq war.

[This article was originally published by Global Research  in February 2010 under the title: Europe's Five "Undeclared Nuclear Weapons States" ]

 

According to a recent report, former NATO Secretary-General George Robertson confirmed that Turkey possesses 40-90 “Made in America” nuclear weapons at the Incirlik military base.(en.trend.az/)

Does this mean that Turkey is a nuclear power?


“Far from making Europe safer, and far from producing a less nuclear dependent Europe, [the policy] may well end up bringing more nuclear weapons into the European continent, and frustrating some of the attempts that are being made to get multilateral nuclear disarmament,”
(Former NATO Secretary-General George Robertson quoted in Global Security, February 10, 2010)

“‘Is Italy capable of delivering a thermonuclear strike?…

Could the Belgians and the Dutch drop hydrogen bombs on enemy targets?…

Germany’s air force couldn’t possibly be training to deliver bombs 13 times more powerful than the one that destroyed Hiroshima, could it?…

Nuclear bombs are stored on air-force bases in Italy, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands — and planes from each of those countries are capable of delivering them.” (“What to Do About Europe’s Secret Nukes.”Time Magazine, December 2, 2009)

The “Official” Nuclear Weapons States

Five countries, the US, UK, France, China and Russia are considered to be “nuclear weapons states” (NWS), “an internationally recognized status conferred by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)”. Three other “Non NPT countries” (i.e. non-signatory states of the NPT) including India, Pakistan and North Korea, have recognized possessing nuclear weapons.

Israel: “Undeclared Nuclear State”

Israel is identified as an “undeclared nuclear state”. It produces and deploys nuclear warheads directed against military and civilian targets in the Middle East including Tehran.

Iran

There has been much hype, supported by scanty evidence, that Iran might at some future date become a nuclear weapons state. And, therefore, a pre-emptive defensive nuclear attack on Iran to annihilate its non-existent nuclear weapons program should be seriously contemplated “to make the World a safer place”. The mainstream media abounds with makeshift opinion on the Iran nuclear threat.

But what about the five European “undeclared nuclear states” including Belgium, Germany, Turkey, the Netherlands and Italy. Do they constitute a threat?

Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy and Turkey: ”Undeclared Nuclear Weapons States”

While Iran’s nuclear weapons capabilities are unconfirmed, the nuclear weapons capabilities of these five countries including delivery procedures are formally acknowledged.

The US has supplied some 480 B61 thermonuclear bombs to five so-called “non-nuclear states”, including Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey. Casually disregarded by the Vienna based UN Nuclear Watchdog (IAEA), the US has actively contributed to the proliferation of nuclear weapons in Western Europe.

As part of this European stockpiling, Turkey, which is a partner of the US-led coalition against Iran along with Israel, possesses some 90 thermonuclear B61 bunker buster bombs at the Incirlik nuclear air base. (National Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Weapons in Europe , February 2005)

By the recognised definition, these five countries are “undeclared nuclear weapons states”.

The stockpiling and deployment of tactical B61 in these five “non-nuclear states” are intended for targets in the Middle East. Moreover, in accordance with  “NATO strike plans”, these thermonuclear B61 bunker buster bombs (stockpiled by the “non-nuclear States”) could be launched  “against targets in Russia or countries in the Middle East such as Syria and Iran” ( quoted in National Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Weapons in Europe , February 2005)

Does this mean that Iran or Russia, which are potential targets of a nuclear attack originating from one or other of these five so-called non-nuclear states should contemplate defensive preemptive nuclear attacks against Germany, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Turkey? The answer is no, by any stretch  of the imagination.

While these “undeclared nuclear states” casually accuse Tehran of developing nuclear weapons, without documentary evidence, they themselves have capabilities of delivering nuclear warheads, which are targeted at Iran.  To say that this is a clear case of “double standards” by the IAEA and the “international community” is a understatement.

Click to See Details and Map of Nuclear Facilities located in 5 European “Non-Nuclear States”

The stockpiled weapons are B61 thermonuclear bombs.  All the weapons are gravity bombs of the B61-3, -4, and -10 types.2 .

Those estimates were based on private and public statements by a number of government sources and assumptions about the weapon storage capacity at each base

.(National Resources Defense Council, Nuclear Weapons in Europe , February 2005)

Germany: Nuclear Weapons Producer

Among the five “undeclared nuclear states”, “Germany remains the most heavily nuclearized country with three nuclear bases (two of which are fully operational) and may store as many as 150 [B61 bunker buster ] bombs” (Ibid). In accordance with “NATO strike plans” (mentioned above) these tactical nuclear weapons are also targeted at the Middle East.

While Germany is not categorized officially as a nuclear power, it produces nuclear warheads for the French Navy. It stockpiles nuclear warheads (made in America) and it has the capabilities of delivering nuclear weapons. Moreover,  The European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company – EADS , a Franco-German-Spanish  joint venture, controlled by Deutsche Aerospace and the powerful Daimler Group is Europe’s second largest military producer, supplying .France’s M51 nuclear missile.

Germany imports and deploys nuclear weapons from the US. It also produces nuclear warheads which are exported to France. Yet it is classified as a non-nuclear state.

Related Article

Rick Rozoff, NATO’s Secret Transatlantic Bond: Nuclear Weapons In Europe, Global Research, December 4, 2009


original

**NEW: Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War

Michel Chossudovsky

Search and Destroy: The Rape of Iraq

March 21st, 2013 by Pepe Escobar

First thing we do, let’s kill all mythographers (lawyerly or not): the rape of Iraq is the biggest, man-made humanitarian disaster of our times. It’s essential to keep in mind this was a direct consequence of Washington smashing international law to pieces; after Iraq, any freak anywhere can unleash preemptive war, and quote Bush/Cheney 2003 as precedent.

And yet, 10 years after Shock and Awe, even so-called “liberals” have been trying to legitimize something, anything, out of the “Iraq project”. There was never a “project”; only a dizzying maze of lies – including a posteriori justifications of bombing the Greater Middle East into “democracy”.

I’ve been thinking about The Catalyst lately. The Catalyst was the tank I had to negotiate every time in and out of my cramped digs on the way to the red zone, in the first weeks of the US occupation of Baghdad. The marines were mainly from Texas and New Mexico. We used to talk. They were convinced they hit Baghdad because “the terrorists attacked us on 9/11″.

Years later, most Americans still believed The Outstanding Lie. Which proves that the cosmically arrogant and ignorant neo-cons at least got one thing right. The Saddam Hussein-al-Qaeda connection may not have been the prime piece of the puzzle in their “project” of invading and remaking Iraq from Year Zero (there were also the non-existing WMDs); but it was immensely effective as a brainwashing technique for rallying the galleries.

When the torture porn spectacle of Abu Ghraib was revealed in the spring of 2004 (I was driving through Texas on an assignment, and virtually everybody deemed the whole show “normal”) The Outstanding Lie still ruled. Ten years on, after Abu Ghraib, the destruction of Fallujah, the widespread “dead-checking” (killing wounded Iraqis), “360-degree rotational fire” (target-practice on scores of Iraqi civilians), calling air strikes on civilian areas, not to mention “killing all military-age men”; after US$3 trillion, and counting, spent (remember the neo-cons promised a short, easy war costing no more than $60 billion); after over 1 million Iraqis killed directly or indirectly by the invasion and occupation, the maze of lies still engulf us all like a giant Medusa.

Oh yes, and the Oscar-winning CIA – true to character – continues to cover it all up.

Faster, counter-insurgent, kill, kill  Iraq Year Zero lasted roughly 10 days. I watched the official birth of the resistance; a mass rally in Baghdad, starting in Adhamiya, uniting Sunnis and Shi’ites. Then came the exploits of that Stooge Central called the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), “led” by the ghastly Paul Bremer, unfailingly displaying interplanetary ignorance of Mesopotamian culture. And then a sort of larger than life search and destroy offensive, deployed as a “tactic”, masquerading as counter-insurgency. No wonder this quickly turned into a sandy Vietnam.

The Sunni resistance drove the Pentagon literally crazy. This is how the “triangle of death” looked like in the summer of 2004. And this is the Pentagon’s response four months later, applying what I called “precision-strike democracy.”

In the end, the triangle of death won – sort of. Fast forward to Dubya’s “surge”. Gullible millions in the US still believe Horny General David Petraeus’s narrative of the surge. I was there at the beginning of the surge, in the spring of 2007. The horrendous US-engineered civil war – remember, it’s always about divide and rule – was only subsidizing because Shi’ite commandos – Badr Corps and Madhi Army – had managed to conduct a devastating ethnic cleansing of Sunnis in what used to be mixed neighborhoods. Baghdad, once a slightly predominantly Sunni city, had turned predominantly Shi’ite. This had nothing to do with Petraeus.

As for the Awakening Councils, they were essentially Sunni militias (numbering over 80,000), organized by clans, who became fed up with al-Qaeda in Iraq’s gory tactics, mostly in the very same triangle of death, including Fallujah and Ramadi. Petraeus paid them with suitcases full of cash. Before that – when, for instance, they were defending Fallujah in November 2004 – they were branded as “terrorists”. Now they were duly reconverted into Ronald Reagan-style “freedom fighters”.

I had met some of those sheikhs. Their wily plan was long-term; instead of fighting the Americans, we take their money, lay low for a while, get rid of those al-Qaeda fanatics, and later attack our real enemy; the Shi’ites in power in Baghdad.

That’s exactly the next step in Iraq, where yet another civil war is slowly brewing. And by the way, some of these former “terrorists” – with ample battleground experience – are now the key commanders in that alphabet soup of Syrian “rebel” units fighting against the Assad regime in Syria. And yes, they remain “freedom fighters”.

Balkanize or bust Americans obviously don’t remember that Joe Biden, when still in the senate, eagerly campaigned for the balkanization of Iraq into three sectarian parts. Considering that he is now one of the Obama 2.0 administration’s point man for Syria, he may even end up having it both ways.

True, Iraq is the first Arab nation ruled by a Shi’ite government since fabled Saladin got rid of the Fatimids in Egypt way back in 1171. But this is a nation on the way to total fragmentation.

The Green Zone, once an American town, may now be Shi’ite. But even Grand Ayatollah Sistani – the top Shi’ite religious leader, who actually broke the back of the neo-cons and the CPA in Najaf in 2004 – is disgusted with the mess orchestrated by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. And even Tehran is caught in a bind. Contrary to think tank belief in the Beltway – do these people ever get anything right? – Iran does not manipulate Iraq’s politics. Above all, what Tehran really fears in Iraq is a civil war not quite dissimilar to what’s happening in Syria.

Patrick Cockburn’s coverage of Iraq for these past 10 years as a foreign correspondent is unrivalled. This is his current evaluation.

Important facts are that kingmaker Muqtada al-Sadr – remember when he was the most dangerous man in Iraq, on the cover of every American magazine? – may have criticized Maliki for his Shi’ite hegemony bias, but he does not want regime change. Shi’ites have the numbers, so in a still unified Iraq there’s bound to be a Shi’ite majority government anyway.

The overwhelmingly Shi’ite south of Iraq remains very poor. The only possible source of employment is government jobs. Infrastructure, all over, remains in tatters – direct consequence of UN and US sanctions, then the invasion and occupation.

But then there’s the shining city on a hill; Iraqi Kurdistan, a somewhat warped development of Pipelineistan.

Big Oil never had a chance to fulfill its 2003 dream of lowering the price of a barrel back to $20 – in line with Rupert Murdoch’s wishful thinking. But there’s a lot of action all over the place. Greg Muttitt has been unmatched following the new Iraq oil boom.

Yet nowhere else the action is more convoluted than in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), where up to 60 oil companies – from ExxonMobil to Chevron, Total and Gazprom – are in play.

The holy of the holies is a new pipeline linking Iraqi Kurdistan to Turkey, the theoretical Kurdish passport to export oil bypassing Baghdad. No one knows whether that will be the straw to break the Iraqi camel’s back – as Iraqi Kurds are getting closer and closer to Ankara and drifting away from Baghdad. The ball is definitely in Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s court – just as Kurds have a once in many lifetimes chance of juggling between Ankara, Baghdad and Tehran’s interests and finally ending up with an independent, and economically self-sufficient Kurdistan.

So yes, there are plenty of balkanization signs on the horizon. But what about lessons learned by the US out of one of the biggest foreign policy blunders in history? Nothing. Nada. We will have to wait for Nick Turse to come up, in a few years, with an Iraqi equivalent of his masterful book on Vietnam, Kill Anything That Moves. Even more than Vietnam, Iraq’s catalogue of horrors was the inevitable result of not only official Pentagon policy, but also official White House policy.

Will this harrowing spiral of Iraqi suffering ever be fully acknowledged? We could always start here, with the case stated by former UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Hans Sponeck.

Or, in a pop vein, a non-Hollywood/CIA producer could invest in a made in Iraq movie, distributed worldwide, where in the final act Dubya, Dick, Rummy, Wolfie and assorted hoodlums of the Douglas Feith mould are all sent on a one-way ticket to a Guantanamo faithfully recreated in the triangle of death – to the sound of Bob Dylan’s Masters of War. Now that would be some global catharsis to die for.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at [email protected].

US-Israeli Bellicose Threats against Syria and Iran

March 21st, 2013 by Bill Van Auken

Starting a two-day visit to Israel on Wednesday, US President Barack Obama issued bellicose threats against both Syria and Iran. The visit, which plainly has the character of a US-Israeli war council, makes clear that ten years after the US invasion of Iraq, US imperialism is preparing even greater crimes in the Middle East.

The Democratic president threatened the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad that it would “be held accountable for the use of chemical weapons or their transfer to terrorists,” adding that if evidence showed that such a weapon had been used it would be a “game-changer.”

On Iran, Obama repeated his vow “to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon” and that “all options are on the table,” while recognizing Israel’s “right” to take unilateral action against Iran. There “is not a lot of daylight” between the US and Israel on Iran, he said.

Obama’s remarks came one day after the tenth anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq. No speeches or ceremonies were organized by the Obama administration or the US Congress Tuesday to mark the onset of a war to which 1.5 million Americans were sent, and where nearly 4,500 died and hundreds of thousands suffered either physical or psychological wounds.

Silence, in this case, denotes guilt. Both political parties, every branch of government, the media and the US corporations were directly complicit in what unquestionably stands as the greatest war crime of the 21st century: an unprovoked war, launched on the basis of lies, against a virtually defenseless nation, claiming some one million lives and leaving an entire society in ruins.

America’s ruling elite is now pressing for even greater and more destructive conflicts, in the face of mass public opposition to war. In Orwellian fashion, familiar and discredited pretexts of “weapons of mass destruction,” terrorism and the promotion of “democracy” are being recycled, this time to justify war against Syria.

On Capitol Hill there was a drumbeat of calls for new Middle East wars. Adm. James Stavridis, the chief of the Pentagon’s European Command, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday on extensive planning by NATO for intervention in Syria. “We are looking at a wide range of operations, and we are prepared if called upon to be engaged as we were in Libya,” he said.

Under serious consideration, according to Stavridis, is the establishment of a “no-fly zone.” Calls for such a no-fly zone in Libya, approved by the United Nations Security Council in March 2011, led to a US-NATO bombing campaign and war for regime change.

The committee’s chairman, Senator Carl Levin, (Democrat, Michigan) led the questioning. The day before, he had spoken at the Council on Foreign Relations, calling for the establishment of “a protected zone along the Turkish-Syrian border” and the use of military force to “go after some Syrian air defenses and after some of the Syrian air power.”

Resolutions were introduced in both the House and the Senate calling for stepped-up arming and training of Western-backed “rebels” fighting to overthrow Assad.

Meanwhile, the apparent use of a chemical weapon that claimed the lives of over 30 Syrians Tuesday prompted renewed demands for direct US intervention on Capitol Hill.

The Syrian government charged that the Western-backed fighters fired the rocket carrying the chemical warhead. By all accounts, the device hit a government-controlled village outside of Aleppo. Opposition sources said that most of the victims were Syrian government soldiers, while sources in Syria described them as Alawite civilians, a population that largely supports Assad.

Lawmakers invoked Obama’s earlier threats that the use of chemical weapons in Syria represented a “red line” that would prompt US intervention. “If today’s reports are substantiated, the President’s red line has been crossed, and we would urge him to take immediate action to impose the consequences he has promised,” Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain said in a joint statement.

Graham went further in an interview, calling for sending US ground troops into Syria to secure its chemical weapons, an operation that the Pentagon estimated would require 75,000 soldiers and Marines.

The twisted logic of this campaign is that the two-year-old sectarian civil war that the US and its allies in Europe, Turkey and the Persian Gulf monarchies have fomented, funded and armed has weakened the Assad regime to such an extent that its chemical weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists.

However, these terrorists, such as the Al Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra and other jihadist militias, are the principal shock troops of the Western-backed war for regime change.

As for the claim that Washington is promoting “democracy” in Syria, there could be no more telling refutation than the “election” Monday of the prime minister for a new “interim government” to be installed on Syrian territory seized by the so-called rebels. The winner, chosen by barely 35 members of a Syrian National Council formed under the tutelage of the US State Department, was Ghassan Hitto. A US citizen and Texas-based IT executive, he left Syria as a 17-year-old over 30 years ago.

The ideological pretexts for a US war in Syria are even less coherent than the ones used to carry out the war in Iraq a decade ago. The real driving forces are the same. What is involved is a predatory war aimed at redrawing the map of the Middle East to suit the interests of US imperialism and assure its hegemony over the region’s energy resources. War for regime change in Syria is part of a broader campaign for war with Iran and carries with it the threat of drawing in Russia and China, as well.

While the American ruling establishment may want to bury the memory of the Iraq war, working people have drawn their own conclusions, with poll after poll showing the overwhelming view that it should never have been fought.

The attempt to foist a new war on the American people, using the same warmed-over lies, comes together with a deepening assault on jobs and living standards and continuous revelations of the criminality of the financial aristocracy, in whose interests these wars are fought. Such a volatile mixture is a recipe for social explosions within the United States and the development of a mass political movement against imperialist wars in Iraq, Syria and beyond.

Bill Van Auken

Europe in Crisis as Cyprus Faces National Bankruptcy

March 21st, 2013 by Jordan Shilton

The vote by Cyprus’s parliament Tuesday evening to reject the terms of the European Union (EU) bailout agreed last Saturday has deepened a crisis which threatens to spread across Europe, posing the risk of national bankruptcy.

Thirty-six parliamentarians voted against the deal, while 19 abstained and none voted in favour. The initial bailout plan would have charged investors with deposits in Cypriot bank accounts a tax of 9.9 percent for those with account balances of more than €100,000, and 6.75 per cent for those with balances between €25,000 and 100,000. This would have raised €5.8 billion to support the proposed €10-billion-euro EU bailout for Cyprus’ banks.

With thousands gathered outside parliament to protest, a last-minute adjustment to exempt those with less than €20,000 from the levy had no impact.

President Nikos Anastasiades called an emergency meeting of all political parties to work on a “Plan B.” But a proposed alternative it drew up yesterday was rejected by the troika—the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

The total collapse of Cyprus’s financial system is being avoided only by the continued closure of the banks, which will now be kept shut until next Tuesday. The stock market also announced on Tuesday it would close for two days, amid fears that investors would withdraw large quantities of capital.

Negotiations with the EU are on-going, but EU officials insist that Cyprus raise €5.8 billion as a contribution to the bailout.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble remarked after the vote, “The ECB has made it clear that without a reform programme, the aid can’t continue. Someone has to explain this to the Cypriots and I think there is a danger that they won’t be able to open the banks again at all.”

“Two big Cypriot banks are insolvent if there are no emergency funds from the European Central Bank,” he added.

The island’s two main banks, Laiki and Bank of Cyprus, are being kept afloat only by emergency credit made available by the ECB. ECB officials have warned that the failure to ratify the bailout agreement would result in the ending of this support.

The EU’s hard line indicates thinking within European ruling circles that Cyprus’s bloated banking system cannot be saved and that, in some quarters including German Chancellor Merkel’s coalition partners in the Free Democrats (FDP), it should be allowed to fail.

Bernd Riegert titled a comment published by Deutsche Welle “Time for Cyprus to leave the Euro zone.”

Bailing out Cyprus’s banks is no small feat. Martin Wolf pointed out in the Financial Times that Cyprus gross government debt reached 87 percent of gross domestic product last year and would reach 106 per cent of GDP by 2017, without the bailout. Its sovereign credit rating is also far below investment grade at CCC+ due to having banking sector assets over seven times GDP.

“Without taxing depositors, the proposed rescue package would have had to be €17.2bn, instead of €10bn, or close to 70 percent of GDP,” he wrote. “This would have brought sovereign debt to some 160 percent of GDP: an unsustainable burden. Indeed even the actual bailout package looks unsustainable, since it would appear to bring gross debt to 130 percent of GDP.”

Allowing a bank collapse is a high-risk strategy, however. The chaotic developments are exacerbating the instability of the euro zone. Amid a deepening recession across the continent, on-going negotiations over a working government in Italy, and the unresolved problems of the massive debts of European banks, the response in ruling circles has been characterised by mounting panic and uncertainty as to the potential impact of events.

Stocks fell in other so-called peripheral European economies. Values of Italian and Spanish banks fell by up to 5 percent on Tuesday, and the stock exchange in Athens was down by over 3 percent. The euro reached its lowest level in four months, falling below 1.29 against the US dollar, before rising slightly after the ECB’s assurance that it would support Cypriot banks for the time being.

The BBC’s economics correspondent Stephanie Flanders summed up the mood, writing Tuesday, “We don’t know yet whether the damage done in the past few days will turn out to be fixable. But we can say everyone seriously miscalculated.”

Klaus Regling, head of the EU’s permanent bailout fund, the ESM, told the German daily Bild that an uncontrolled default in Cyprus could place the euro as a whole at risk.

James Mackintosh, in the Financial Times asked whether a refusal to bailout Cyprus would “prompt a renewed euro crisis” and replied, “For sure.”

As well as the fear of contagion emanating from this small island, the European powers will be worried about the possibility that abandoning Cyprus will drive it decisively into the orbit of Russia.

The agreement to levy investors in Cyprus’s banks angered Moscow, because upwards of $45 billion of Russian money is held on the island. Wholly eliminating the levy on deposits below €100,000 would mean raising the higher levy to 15 percent—hitting the oligarchs, mafia elements and other Russian nationals even harder. This would prompt massive withdrawals and probably collapse the banks.

Cyprus therefore increasingly relies on Russian patronage, amid escalating international tensions, at the risk of antagonizing the European powers and ultimately the United States.

Its finance minister,Michalis Sarris, arrived in Moscow Tuesday to renegotiate the terms of a 2.5 billion euro loan made by Russia in 2011, with lower interest payments and an extended deadline to 2020. More significantly he has sought a further five billion euros on top—almost the entire shortfall on the EU bailout.

Worse still for the European powers, speculation is rife that Moscow is seeking the right to use the Cypriot port of Limassol as a naval base. Currently, Russia relies on a base at Tartus in Syria to access the Mediterranean. However, the current Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad is the target of a US-led war for regime change also directed against Russia and China.

There might also be a trade-off based on Russia’s Gazprom accessing as-yet untapped offshore gas reserves, estimated by Noble Energy to be well in excess of 5 to 8 trillion cubic feet based upon an initial investigation in 2011. Cyprus’s energy minister accompanies Sarris.

An unstated but no less pressing concern is the potential for the outbreak of mass opposition to the EU and its drive to bail out the financial elite at the expense of working people.

Proposals to reach a Plan B will do nothing to change the fundamental character of the bailout, which demands a massive attack on the living standards of the working class. Coming after a large anti-EU vote in the Italian elections, on-going strikes and protests in Portugal, Greece and Spain, and the toppling of the Bulgarian government last month, ruling circles are well aware that class relations in Europe are at the breaking point.

Out of Control Derivative Trade Threatens the U.S. Economy

March 21st, 2013 by Washington's Blog

Out-of-control derivatives were largely responsible for the 2008 financial crisis … and still pose a massive threat to the economy.

Unchecked derivatives are so harmful to the economy that:

  • Warren Buffet called them “weapons of mass destruction”
  • A Nobel prize winning economist who helped develop derivatives pricing said some of them were so dangerous that they should be “blown up or burned”
  • Newsweek called them “The Monster that Ate Wall Street” after the financial crash

This is especially true since the big banks are manipulating the hundred trillion dollar derivatives market.

No, the big “financial reform” bill passed in the wake of the financial crisis didn’t fix anything.  We noted last year:

No, there have not been any reforms or attempts to rein in derivatives, and the Dodd-Frank financial legislation was really just a p.r. stunt which didn’t really change anything.

Indeed, the derivatives “reform” legislation previously passed has probably actually weakened existing regulations, and the legislation was “probably written by JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs“.

In fact:

Harold Bradley – who oversees almost $2 billion in assets as chief investment officer at the Kauffman Foundation – told the Reuters Global Exchanges and Trading Summit in New York that a cabal is preventing swap derivatives from being forced onto clearing exchanges:

There is no incentive from the moneyed interests in either Washington or New York to change it…I believe we are in a cabal. There are five or six players only who are engaged and dominant in this marketplace and apparently they own the regulatory apparatus. Everybody is afraid to regulate them.

*** Moreover, the big banks are still dumping huge amounts of their toxic derivatives on the taxpayer. And see this.

Indeed, the U.S. has agreed to backstop potential trillions in derivatives in the U.S. … and abroad.

If the big banks are manipulating the derivatives market, they could manipulate every other market on the planet.   Given that the size of the derivatives market dwarfs the entire global economy, and given that derivatives are – by definition – not real assets, but paper abstractions loosely based upon real assets, manipulation of derivatives can drive asset prices up or down at whim.

***

Of course, the big banks own Washington D.C. politicians, lock stock and barrel.  See this, this, this and this.

So don’t expect anything to change without a huge public outcry … or worse (and see this).

There wasn’t a big enough public outcry.  So the boys are at it again.

Huffington Post notes:

A bipartisan cadre of House lawmakers will move on legislation to deregulate Wall Street derivatives Wednesday ….

“The road to hell is paved with these bills,” said Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), an advocate of financial reform.

The House Agriculture Committee will mark up several derivatives bills on Wednesday despite opposition from a coalition of public interest and consumer advocacy groups ….

In a statement provided to The Huffington Post, [Senator] Levin expressed exasperation at the House efforts.

“Last year, some members of Congress supported watering down Dodd-Frank derivative safeguards, but abandoned those efforts after the world learned that JPMorgan Chase had lost billions of dollars on derivative trades made out of its London office,” Levin said. “It is incredible that less than a week after new JPMorgan Whale hearings detailed how the bank’s London office piled up risk, hid losses, and dodged regulatory oversight, that some House members are again supporting the weakening of derivative safeguards.”

Derivatives were at the heart of the 2008 financial collapse. The preferred financial vehicle for a host of risky bets on the U.S. mortgage market, they created artificial demand for subprime mortgages, encouraging banks and mortgage brokers to extend loans to doomed borrowers. Derivatives pushed insurance giant AIG to the brink of bankruptcy and proved a hotbed for abuse on Wall Street. Goldman Sachs famously settled with the Securities and Exchange Commission for betting against the very derivatives it created and sold to its clients.

Yet in an era of partisan gridlock in the nation’s capital, Democrats and Republicans have come together to repeal or weaken those rules. Although Obama may not want to sign a standalone package of Wall Street deregulation into law, bipartisan legislation could be inserted into a broader bill that the president might find difficult to reject.

***

Exempting such trades from oversight could also help foster tax avoidance, however, since companies have used sham derivatives transactions to dodge the Internal Revenue Service. Such activity is usually illegal, but the IRS has been short on resources to investigate and combat it. Requiring companies to post monetary guarantees creates an upfront cost to sham transactions that may serve as a deterrent.

***.

The bills to be considered Wednesday also include legislation from Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) — another Goldman alum — that would roll back Dodd-Frank’s ban on taxpayer support for some kinds of derivatives trades.

***

Another bill would force the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, a regulator with derivatives responsibility, to conduct economic cost-benefit analyses for new agency rules using guidelines that would be more favorable to Wall Street banks.

Yves Smith explains the latter bill:

The third bill, HR 1003, is a more straightforward “throw sand in the gears” operation. It seeks to neuter the CFTC by requiring it to make more than twice as many cost-benefit assessments of proposed decisions, which will undermine enforcement actions. It effectively subjects regulation to a second screen, by requiring regulators to jump through another hurdle and prove that rules already passed by Congress don’t impose an undue cost relative to the supposed benefits. But that logic is heinous. First, recall that that sort of reasoning led to exploding Pintos. It was cheaper for Ford not to fix its cars and merely pay off the bereaved relatives of people who got fried. Second, the banks will always argue that tail risks, which is what a good deal of regulation is intended to reduce, are lower than they appear. But the cost of tail events, as in financial crises, are so great that it is imperative to be overinsured, since (as Nassim Nicholas Taleb has stressed) is inherently hard to measure and established approaches lowball it. And most important, he has described how complex derivatives risks are inherently unsuited to statistical measurement.

***

So it isn’t just that the CTFC will be snowed under with busywork to justify its efforts, but that they are also likely to be shoehorned into a statistical template which will give the banks the upper hand. Well played!

Smith explains that it is still possible to kill these horrible bills:

Please contact your Senator and Representative and tell them you are firmly opposed to these bills since they are all “gimmie my bailout and leave me alone” proposals from the banks. One bit of good news here is that at least on paper, Republicans are not happy about the fact that Dodd Frank resolutions aren’t likely to work even before the launch of this effort to assure they won’t ever be attempted. Spencer Bachus issued a paper last year criticizing the inadequacy of the Dodd Frank resolution provisions. So it can’t hurt to tell Democrats that they need to stand behind Dodd Frank, and remind Republicans that they’ve stood for “no more bailouts” and they need not to allow those sneaky ex Goldman Democrats to allow Wall Street to suck resources away from Main Street. This sort of bill depends on the complacency and indifference of the public to get passed, and correctly painting its as an egregious piece of pro-bailout pork might make some Congresscritters loath to be associated with it.

Russia must be ready to counter threat using military force – Rogozin

“The Cold War rudiments, both in their organization, such as NATO, or propaganda, such as Russophobia, forms have not disappeared, ” Rogozin said.

“Western civilization is a condition of exhausting resources and is not going to give up the level of consumption which they got have been used to for a long time. This means the struggle for the access to these resources will become even more severe,” he said.

MOSCOW: Military force is always in demand in the modern world, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said at the Military and Industrial Conference in Moscow on Wednesday.

“We cannot fail to see what is happening in the world. Military force is still in demand, and the threat of using it is a key factor of interaction on the solution of global political and economic issues,” Rogozin said.

“Shaking hands with its partners with a steel hand in a child’s glove, Russia must show the world its firm resoluteness to defend the world and its place in it,” he said.

“The Cold War rudiments, both in their organization, such as NATO, or propaganda, such as Russophobia, forms have not disappeared, ” Rogozin said.

“Western civilization is a condition of exhausting resources and is not going to give up the level of consumption which they got have been used to for a long time. This means the struggle for the access to these resources will become even more severe,” he said.

“Meanwhile, new giants with gigantic ambitions are entering the world arena. The 21st century will not be just a promenade on an avenue,” Rogozin said.

Are Vaccines Safe?

March 21st, 2013 by Richard Gale

When we hear official reports released by the FDA and CDC, transmitted throughout major corporate media outlets and publications, that a particular vaccine is safe, we should immediately perk to attention, raise a red flag, and muster rational suspicion.

One of the most important questions is, what kind of studies are performed to determine that any vaccine is safe? And what evidence is there that vaccines are especially safe in infants, small children, pregnant mothers, the elderly, and those with asthma and compromised immune systems?

According to the statutes of the FDA’s Public Health Service Act, vaccine manufacturers are required to prove a vaccine complies with three criteria before approval and launch: safety, purity and potency. There are no requirements before FDA approval and licensing that a vaccine undergoes independent studies by researchers with no vested financial interests and industry ties in order to validate a vaccine maker’s claims. Rather, the entire approval process is nothing more than a good-faith relationship between the vaccine industrial complex and the FDA and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACID), the primary entity determining vaccine policies.

In an interview with Dr. Tom Jefferson, one of the world’s most knowledgeable experts in vaccine research and head of the Vaccine Field Group at the Cochrane Database Collaboration, the Financial Times reported that he found less than two dozen studies on the current H1N1 flu vaccine and none have a completion date before December 2010. Moreover there is no knowledge whatsoever that these vaccines are safe.[1]

Clinical trials with at-risk individuals, including infants, small children, pregnant mothers and people over 65 of age are not mandatory for regulatory approval. So how do the vaccine makers determine whether or not a vaccine is safe for these at-risk groups? Well, they don’t except by predicting past incidences of vaccine effectiveness and safety using mathematical models. The vaccine industrial complex is under no federal obligation to give sound scientific evidence that their vaccines are safe in anyone except health adults.

What is quite extraordinary in the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research’s document, “Guidance for Industry: Clinical Data Needed to Support the Licensure of Seasonal Inactivated Influenza Vaccines”, is the large leeway permitted vaccine manufacturers to prove a vaccine’s safety. For example, “the protocol should include a clinic visit or telephone contact at least six months post-vaccination to ascertain serious adverse events.” Or, “we recommend that you assess the safety of your investigational vaccine in several thousand subjects.” Or, “we assume that approval for use in the adult population, including the geriatric population, would be sought with the initial application.” More serious is this allowance given to vaccine manufacturers, “For vaccines using novel manufacturing processes and/or adjuvants, laboratory safety tests including hematologic and clinical chemistry evaluations, may be needed pre- and post-vaccination in the first clinical studies.” (all italics are ours to clearly identify word choice in the official CDC document). As a result of such noncommittal and ambiguous requirements, we find the efficacy clinical trials conducted for the currently approved H1N1 vaccines enrolling only between 100-240 subjects depending on the trial.

In the October 28, 2006 issue of the British Medical Journal editor Fiona Godlee commented on Dr. Tom Jefferson’s article attacking the UK’s vaccine policy, which is fundamentally no different than that in the US. As an aside, David Salisbury, the UK’s Department of Health’s Director of Immunization, is the only foreign government representative represented on the ACIP. Godlee wrote,

“As if to prove the point, we publish this week a broadside (based on a systematic review of the literature) about the lack of evidence for influenza vaccine. Why, asks Tom Jefferson (p. 912), is there such a gap between evidence and policy? Governments go to great lengths to promote and provide the vaccine. But there is almost no valid evidence that it does any good. Jefferson puts the gap down to our desire to do something, combined with”optimism bias”—an unwarranted belief in the value of interventions. Would randomized trials be unethical? No, says Jefferson, they are the only ethical response to the possible waste of resources on ineffective or only partially effective care. The problem is that the UK has no transparent process for evaluating the effectiveness or cost effectiveness of vaccines.”[2]

The American public has every reason to be suspicious over our health officials vaccination claims and to hold them in distrust and even contempt. Citizens’ confidence in the swine flu vaccine’s safety has dropped with 72 percent reporting in a recent Associated Press-GFK poll they are worried about the vaccines side effects. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Secretary Sebelius should also be worried. Our tax dollars are spending approximately $3 billion on the entire pandemic swine flu vaccine story. But our distrust should not be based on the incestuous romance between government and the vaccine industry, although this surely exists. Instead, the policy decisions being ruled by our national Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice rely on exceptionally bad science. This is what should alarm us because it undermines the very foundation of medicine as an art to prevent disease, pain and suffering. So to our health bureaucrats, “It’s the science, stupid!”

I have come to think of the Cochrane Database Collaboration as the penultimate emergency medical think tank of investigators performing triage on the layers of bad, and even quack, science published throughout peer-reviewed medical journals, particularly research papers sponsored by the pharmaceutical industrial complex and their financial supporters and cronies in government health agencies and advisory committees. Given the utter lack of credible vetting being done in peer-reviewed medical journals, which have even allowed freelance contractors at advertizing firms to write scientific articles for the pharmaceutical complex, the Cochrane database is today’s gold standard for a library of sound medical research. Sir Iain Chalmers, called the “maverick master of medical evidence” by Lancet, founded the Collaboration in 1993 as an independent initiative, free of vested interests with private drug and vaccine makers, with the mission to undertake systematic reviews of existing healthcare medical trials. The Collaboration now includes over 10,000 volunteers from 90 countries busily analyzing decades of medical studies to pull out the kernels of sound scientific research and reliable conclusions from the chaff of pseudo-scientific waste that has become a trademark of drug and vaccine manufacturer trial methodologies in order to get their products quickly passed through government regulatory agencies’ relaxed requirements.

Even for those unfamiliar with clinical trial jargon, we can all agree that the approval of any vaccine should rely on sound evidence-based medicine; that is, we would expect clinical trials for determining the efficacy and safety of a vaccine to rely on the best scientific methods in order to gain accurate data to protect and improve the lives of people. Instead, the vaccine approval policy relies on individual-based decisions, subjective quackery fabricated by the vaccine industry, and poor study designs for vaccine efficacy and safety that only serve corporate biases and commercial interests.

Such is the case of several H1N1 vaccine trial press releases issued last weekend that are being spearheaded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). All the studies, although still in progress, are being announced at a time when public confidence in the government’s pronouncements about the severity of the “new” H1N1 virus and the urgency of a national vaccination program are waning. Moreover, a preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order have been filed against the FDA on October 9. The suit seeks to place a stay on the H1N1 vaccines’ licensing until conclusive safety trials have been conducted for all targeted groups and with full public disclosure. Slumping on the ropes, the CDC and other health agencies are therefore desperate to fill in the gaps in the safety studies for at-risk groups which they have ignored for decades. Hence this flurry of press releases from the NIAID.

One of the criticisms raised against the CDC’s and HHS’s swine flu policy is that certain groups have been prioritized for vaccination when no definitive and sound medical studies exist to support the government’s claims that influenza vaccines’ are efficacious and safe. These include clinical trials on small children, pregnant mothers, individuals with compromised immune systems, such as asthma, and the elderly. The CDC’s hypocrisy lies in the fact that systematic reviews have already been performed on all available sound studies but the CDC doesn’t like their answers and prefers to ignore them. Dr. Tom Jefferson, head of the Cochrane’s Vaccine Field group, has shown that studies concluding flu vaccine’s efficacy were either poorly designed or “badly executed.” With respect to trials conducted on children under two years of age, the very sparse reliable studies show influenza vaccines are no more effective than a placebo.

Dr. Jefferson has observed strong biases in the selection of trial participants throughout vaccine industry-conducted trials. His conclusions state that “evidence from systematic reviews show that inactivated [influenza] vaccines have little or no effect on the effects measured.” He has discovered that there is “gross overestimation of the impact of influenza, unrealistic expectations of the performance of vaccines, and spurious certainty of our ability to predict viral circulation and impact. The consequences,’ Dr. Jefferson states, “are seen in the impractical advice given by public bodies on thresholds of the incidence of influenza-like illness at which influenza specific interventions (antivirals) should be used.”[3] When it comes to identifying the infecting virus for any case displaying flu-like systems, only PCR is very reliable, and there can be anywhere from 152-200 different infections contributing to flu-like symptoms. This reinforces an opinion by Dr. Anthony Morris, a former Chief Vaccine Officer at the FDA, “The producers of these [influenza] vaccines know they are worthless, but they go on selling them anyway.” We would add from a review of the CDC’s statistics on influenza threats, they are intentionally misleading and medically worthless.

A review of the NIAID’s recent safety trial descriptions for pregnant women, persons with asthma, and the co-administration of the H1N1 and seasonal flu vaccines in healthy adults and the elderly show once again more sham science on the immediate horizon. The results will surely be twisted, kneaded and molded into a smiley face, plastered on the CDC’s and pro-vaccine health websites, and aired across the media waves to convince us to rush to our nearest vaccination facility.

The NIAID studies are being done in collaboration with Novartis and Sanofi Pasteur, each a manufacturer of an approved H1N1 vaccine. In fact, Novartis’ Head of Strategic Immunization Planning, Dr. Clement Levin, and Sanofi Pasteur’s President Damian Braga sit as representatives on the CDC’s Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP). The vaccine industrial complex is therefore involved in making our health choices for us. Furthermore, a review of all the clinical sites where the trials will be conducted reveals that most have representation on the ACIP. There is no indication of any independent research entities participating in the trials without financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.[4]

One major concern Dr. Jefferson found in his review of flu vaccine studies involving over 50,000 people from 1969 to 2002 is the high incidence of “confounders.” For this reason these studies have been discarded as examples of poor scientific quality leading to undependable conclusions. Confounders are variables that appear in research studies that produce erroneous results. The way to avoid confounders and achieve more accurate data is to run controlled trials. Even better is to include a placebo in the trial study. This is standard best-case scientific protocol, and in the case of vaccine research it would mean that a group of vaccinated individuals would be compared to a similar or identical group that is unvaccinated during the flu season. However, the vaccine industry does not conduct controlled nor placebo efficacy and safety trials, and none of the recently announced NIAID’s studies are identified as “controlled” in their official documents. Even worse, studies can be designed to intentionally introduce confounders in order to tilt results towards the particular bias the research hopes to achieve. This is what we find evident in the trials underway on pregnant women, asthmatics, and the joint swine/seasonal flu study. Each is bogus science and yet each will be used for forthcoming public relations efforts issuing from the CDC and its foot soldiers throughout the insurance industry, professional medical associations and media.

For example, each of the NIAID studies claim to test for vaccine safety, however, none will investigate or measure any criteria associated with other vaccine ingredients—thimerosal (ethylmercury), adjuvants such as squalene, formaldehyde and oxtocinol (a detergent used as a spermatocide)—except for the H1N1 virus itself. Since the vaccines are being made with and without thimerosal, we would expect the trials to use the latter for preventative measures. Individuals with known allergies to formaldehyde, gelatin, chicken eggs or oxtocinol—in the event your physician or vaccine administrator ever happened to ask you if you were sensitive to any of these—are excluded from the studies. The pregnancy study will only include 120 women, and one of the exclusion criteria includes any woman whose temperature rises to 100 degrees F or higher during the first 72 hours after injection being removed from the study. This last point is a clear example of a confounder intentionally inserted in the study because adverse side effects that may appear in any of these women will not be included in the final data analysis.

While the NIAID study on the H1N1 vaccine’s safety for persons suffering with asthma will enroll only 350-400 individuals, an earlier Canadian survey of 134,000 people found 80 percent were more likely to experience exacerbations requiring the use of inhalers and nebulizers than unvaccinated controls. Another study published in The Lancet, one of the few placebo controlled studies in influenza vaccine research, discovered “that pulmonary-function abnormalities may occur as a complication of influenza vaccination.”[5]

The NIAID press release on October 9 announced it was undertaking a trial to determine the efficacy of taking both the swine flu and seasonal flu vaccinations together. This news arrives after Canadian medical researchers reported four studies indicating the seasonal flu shot will put people at much greater risk for getting the swine flu.[6] These studies are compounded by an equally serious threat of genetic recombination of the different viral strains in the vaccinated person. Dr. Michael Gardam, Director of Infectious Diseases and Prevention and Control at the Ontario Agency for Health Protection and Promotion stated, “We don’t know with this year’s flu shot how it interacts with the pandemic flu shot, so it’s a worry.”

We would hope the NIAID would take these warning to heart in designing their trial on the co-administration of the H1N1 and seasonal influenza vaccines. But that is asking a bit much from an agency already sold to bad science. We are stuck asking ourselves, with all the money at their disposal, why can’t our health agencies and advisory committees fund a decent scientifically sound study to get to the bottom of the critical questions regarding vaccine safety? The only answer we are left with is that they don’t want to know the truth. There is no other reason for the continuation of flawed science except to support the CDC’s reactive measures to the growing pressure to convince Americans that the fast tracked swine flu vaccines are safe in the absence of good medical studies.

Fortunately for the Department of Human Health and Services, Americans are still more dim-witted than their European neighbors when it comes to scrutinizing products coming off industrial assembly lines, especially vaccines and pharmaceutical drugs. It proves the high effectiveness of the vaccine industrial complex’s marketing schemes through our government and corporate media. At this moment, health care professionals in the UK are increasingly spurning the H1N1 vaccine. Some hospitals are showing as low as 10 percent of staff and 10 percent of doctors willing to get vaccinated. The primary complaint is “the vaccine is no good and you shouldn’t be bothered with it.” [7] The French government is struggling to find doctors to administer the flu jab. A recent poll in Sweden has more than half of its citizens refusing the shot, and anti-swine flu vaccination protests are erupting in New Zealand. The German health ministry is in a quandary. This week, physicians and advisors of the German military have declared soldiers should not be given the approved vaccines with the mercury preservative and the adjuvant squalene. Consequently, the German public is growing more skeptical by the day over H1N1 vaccines’ safety.[8] Yet here in the US, the sheeple are glued to the theatrics of the ever popular Dr. Oz rolling up his sleeve for a swine flu vaccination and offering his studio audience to fanfare applause their very own free injection of some toxic solution whose effects are unknown. But then Dr. Oz during a separate interview on CNN stated his four children and wife will not receive it.

Pregnant women are now being listed as a high priority for swine flu inoculation. Yet the product inserts so far from the package inserts state the disclaimer: “Animal reproduction studies have not been conducted with influenza virus vaccine. It is also not known whether influenza virus vaccine can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman.”[9] By their own admission, the vaccine industrial complex has not even performed clinical studies on pregnant animals, let alone pregnant humans!

The Canadian Health Ministry has confirmed that there is no data on the use of adjuvanted swine flu vaccine in pregnant women that would warrant administering it.[10] In fact flu vaccines, as with all other vaccines have not been fully tested to determine teratogenic effects, the dangers vaccines have on the fetus. Unlike the US, Canada is more wary about the medical evidence showing adjuvants have a high adverse threat to pregnant women and the fetus. This conclusion was drawn earlier by the World Health Organization (WHO). Dr. Marie-Paule Kieny, head of the WHO’s vaccine research department, has stated “Does that mean that it [adjuvanted vaccine] will be unsafe? No. It means that there is no hard evidence that it will be safe.”[11]

Dr. Jefferson states, “There is no study of the vaccines on pregnant women—no randomized clinical trials.”[12] The real impact of flu vaccines’ perils was summarized in an article in the Summer 2006 Journal of the American Physicians and Surgeons. Drs. David Ayoub and Edward Yazbak conclude their review of the ACIP’s policy on vaccinated pregnant women with the flu vaccine: “The ACIP’s citations and the current literature indicate that influenza infection is rarely a threat to normal pregnancy. There is no convincing evidence of the effectiveness of influenza vaccination during this critical period. No studies have adequately assessed the risk of influenza vaccination during pregnancy and animal safety studies are lacking…. The ACIP policy recommendation of routinely administering influenza vaccine during pregnancy is ill-advised and unsupported by current scientific literature, and it should be withdrawn.”[13]

It would seem that the pro-vaccination community abides by the prevailing myth that the placenta serves as a kind of barrier or wall protecting the fetus from toxic chemicals, metals and contaminants and pathogens in the pregnant mother. This belief has collapsed after one of the more important discoveries in recent years. The Environmental Working Group, an independent non-profit organization conducts laboratory research on environmental toxins. After testing umbilical cord blood for over 200 of some of the most dangerous chemicals found in our immediate everyday environment, the researchers came to the startling results that on average approximately three quarters of them were present in umbilical cord blood. The urgent importance of this discovery is that the placenta does not serve as a reliable filter and highly toxic neurological damaging chemicals, including those used in vaccines, such as ethylmercury and formaldehyde, will make their way to the developing fetus and can contribute to untold neurological and genetic alterations leading to long-term diseases as the child grows up. Unless we can fully appreciate the rate of cell division in an unborn child, which is astronomical and therefore more susceptible to mutations in the presence of highly toxic chemicals, we are unable to grasp the full extent of the dangers vaccines pose on the developing child. This in and of itself should force us to pause and reconsider the serious side effects being inflicted on unborn children from vaccine ingredients.

If your physician or nurse intentionally injected you with lead, they would go to jail and rightly so. As every civilized government in the world knows, lead is neurotoxic to the brain. There is no controversy about this. The controversy is when public health officials insist that a pregnant woman or a young child receive an annual influenza vaccine and a swine flu vaccine containing 25 mcg of mercury each, a level that is deadly to the brain’s neuron cells Mercury is more toxic than lead. It is unfathomable, therefore, how the same doctor, as well as all of our government health officials, would never suggest you be injected with lead, but can turn around and insist you be injected with mercury, knowing full well that your blood will carry that thimerosal past the blood-brain barrier and potentially cause neurological damage.

Furthermore, we have an epidemic of autism in the US and other developmental and learning disabilities in children. We have never experienced this in our history prior to the introduction of large numbers of vaccines going into the children of America. There are no long-term double-blind, controlled placebo studies for any of the pharmaceutical industry’s vaccines nor are there any studies to determine what interactions might occur from the interaction of other vaccines when in the presence of the new swine flu and/or seasonal vaccines. Such studies don’t exist. The CDC and HHS cannot prove that if you did not get infected with the flu it is because you were vaccinated. And yet they have gone to the extreme in demanding and legislating that the vaccine industrial complex be subsidized, given waivers and indemnified from any and all lawsuits. Consequently, if there should be large numbers of serious adverse reactions and deaths, no one will be held accountable. In a society that prides itself in democratic principles and free choice, our health officials are denying that very same free choice by implementing mandatory vaccine policies. This is not the Hippocratic Oath. This is medical fascism.

Richard Gale is the Executive Producer of the Progressive Radio Network and a former Senior Research Analyst in the biotechnology and genomic industries. Dr. Gary Null is the host of the nation’s longest running public radio program on nutrition and natural health and a multi-award-winning director of progressive documentary films, including Vaccine Nation and Autism: Made in the USA. Dr. Null is also the plaintiff on a law suit against the FDA to prevent the launch of the swine flu vaccine until safety studies have been thoroughly conducted.

Notes

[1] “Interview: Dr. Tom Jefferson and the Pandemic Flu Vaccine” Financial Times. September 11, 2009.

[2] Yazbak, F. Edward. “Flu Vaccines Creating a Myth.” Vaccine Risk Awareness Network, November 11, 2006. www.vran.org  

[3] Jefferson T. “Influenza vaccination: policy versus evidence.” Brit. Medical Journal. Vol. 333, October 28, 2006.

[4] “Safety and Efficacy of an H1N1 Influenza Vaccine in People with Asthma” National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. http://clinicaltrials.gov; “Sanofi H1N1 + TIV – Adults and Elderly” National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. http://clinicaltrials.gov;  “H1N1 Vaccine in Pregnant Women” National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. http://clinicaltrials.gov;  

[5] “Randomized placebo-controlled crossover trial on effect of inactivated influenza vaccine on pulmonary function in asthma.” Lancet. 1998; 351: 326-31.

[6] “Seasonal flu shot may increase H1N1 risk.” Canadian Broadcast Corporation News. September 23, 2009.

[7] Campbell, Denis, “Swine flu fears grow as NHS staff shun vaccine.” Guardian UK, October 11, 2009.

[8] “Virologe: Bundesregierung hat den falschen Impfstoff gekauft.” Yahoo Deutschland October 12, 2009.

[9] Richardson, Dawn. “Flu Vaccine: Stay Out of My Womb” October 8, 1999. http://www.vaccineinfo.net/issues/flu_vaccine_warning.htm.  

[10] Branswell, Helen. “Canada to Buy Only Adjuvant-Free Vax for the Pregnant. The Canadian Press. September 5, 2009.

[11] Burgermeister, Jane. “No Data on the Use of Adjuvanted Flu Jabs on Pregnant Women Admist Canada as it Changes “Swine Flu” Jab Policy. The Flu Cure. September 7, 2009. www.theflucure.com  

[12] “Swine flu vaccines not tested on pregnant women.” Pregnancy Weekly. August 6, 2009.

[13] Ayoub B, Yazbak FE. “Influenza vaccination during pregnancy: a critical assessment of the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.” J Amer. Phys and Surg. Volume II, Number 2. Summer 2006.

President Barack Obama’s visit to the Middle East has coincided with the 10th anniversary of the killing of American peace activist Rachel Corrie. She was murdered by an American-made and financed Israeli bulldozer on March 16, 2003.

President Barack Obama’s visit to the Middle East has coincided with the 10th anniversary of the killing of American peace activist Rachel Corrie. She was murdered by an American-made and financed Israeli bulldozer on March 16, 2003. It is unlikely the President or any in his entourage will remember the young American citizen, but according to the Israeli Ambassador, his government plans to broach the subject of convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard.

As part of his “listening” tour, Obama must pay homage to the choreographed Hall of Remembrance at Yad Vashemm honouring the victims of European Holocaust. For contemporary suffering, from Yad Vashemm the President should peek across the prairie for traces of Deir Yassin’s massacre or take a five-mile detour to a Palestinian refugee camp, a living museum and breathing testament of Israeli malevolence. While this deserving tribute is doubtful, in his helicopter ride to Bethlehem and Ramallah, Obama can’t miss the Jewish-only colonies raping the virgin hills of the West Bank or the separation wall suffocating Palestinians.

Israeli firsters in Washington have marketed the trip as a must for the US President to win over sceptic Israeli public opinion. David Miller, an Israel-first ex-US official, faulted the Obama Administration for not showing adequate understanding of Israeli “fears”. Another Israeli firster Dennis Ross, who was Obama’s point man on the Middle East for most of his first term, advised him to take this opportunity “to connect with the Israeli psyche”. This may seem like a daunting task.

According to a recent poll conducted by the Maagar Mohot Institute and Maarive newspaper, only 10 per cent of Israelis view the US President favourably. In fact, October 2012 opinion survey showed Israelis would have elected Mitt Romney over Obama by 57 to 22.

Leading to the trip, the President met separately representatives of American Arab and Jewish communities. While Arab American delegates urged the President to take this opportunity to advance peace negotiations, Jewish leaders counselled the President to hold off on any peace initiative. They cautioned that Israelis would “bristle” if Obama challenged them to take “hard steps” for peace. Ironically, the same crowd wanted him to be firm and alacritous to do whatever needed to halt Iran’s nuclear ambition. In other words, Israeli firsters want conflict not peace to dominate the President’s agenda.

This is an exact repeat of the strategy Israeli Prime Minister Isaac Shamir used 20 years ago, eventually dragging the US into war with Iraq. Israel was false on Iraq then and has been proven to be wrong on Iran for the last 20 years. As early as 1992 Netanyahu suggested for the US to lead an “international front” to pre-empt Iran from becoming a nuclear power in “three to five years”. In the same year, then Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres told French TV that Iran was destined to acquire nuclear warhead capabilities by 1999. In 1995 an Israeli leak in the New York Times predicted Iran would assemble a nuclear bomb by 2000. The most recent assertion was made last September at the UN General Assembly in a hilarious cartoon illustration presented by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claiming that Iran was six months away from producing enough material for a nuclear bomb.

When the President speaks at the International Convention Centre in Jerusalem to declare his commitment for an ethno centric racist state and vowing to protect the “Jewish state” from specious nuclear threat, he must not forget that a nuclear Middle East was born in Israel, not Iraq nor Iran. Mr President, if you want Israelis to like you, just ask your predecessor how he turned the biggest government surplus into the largest deficit.

Sadly Obama was sold on what seemed to be a psychiatrist perverted notion that to promote peace he must first pledge US force for another Middle Eastern adventure. As such, the US President’s retinue should consider replacing policy experts with psychoanalysts to treat the Israeli penchant for conflict and diagnose its collective Katharophobia or fear of peace.

Jamal Kanj writes  weekly newspaper column and publishes on several websites on Arab world issues. He is the author of “Children of Catastrophe,” Journey from a Palestinian Refugee Camp to America. A version of this article was first published by the Gulf Daily News newspaper.He is a frequent contributor to this blog.

The US is taking plans for a possible military operation against Iran “very seriously,” a senior Israeli security official, who is said to be in the know about aspects of the American plan, has told Haaretz daily.

Obama’s administration, as opposed to that of his predecessor, George Bush, has prepared a pinpoint military option in the event that the United States decides to attack in the end,” the unnamed official told the Israeli newspaper.

The Americans, if they choose, will be able to mount a focused operation on the Iranian nukes without necessarily sparking a comprehensive regional war.”

The source pointed out that Israeli security services are privy to ongoing US moves to tighten sanctions against Iran over its controversial nuclear program and to prepare for a possibility of a military operation.

It’s very important for them to convey determination,” the official told the paper. “We saw this in the words of Vice President Joe Biden…we’ll hear it again from the president in Israel.”

Earlier in March, Biden stated that Obama’s threats to use military force to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons was “not a bluff,” adding though that Washington would prefer a diplomatic solution to the standoff with Iran.

The president of the United States cannot, and does not, bluff,” Biden stated during a conference of AIPAC, a lobbying group that advocates pro-Israel policies.

According to the Israeli official, the US Administration “mean what they say.” In his view, “Their problem is historical precedent: After North Korea obtained nuclear capability, Israel is skeptical,” Haaretz reports.

On Wednesday, Obama arrived in Jerusalem for his first trip to Israel as president to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Among other things, the leaders of the allied states are expected to discuss how to contain Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

Ahead of his Middle East tour, Obama reiterated the US commitment to preventing Iran from creating a bomb.

We think it would take over a year or so for Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon, but obviously we don’t want to cut it too close,” he told Israeli Channel 2.  The American leader added he would tell Netanyahu that if diplomatic efforts to sort the Iranian problem fail, “I continue to keep all options on the table.” The United States has “significant capabilities” to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon “that could threaten Israel or could trigger an arms race in the region,” he emphasized.

The Iraq War: Ten Years of U.S. Crimes against Humanity

March 21st, 2013 by Sara Flounders

The corporate media in the U.S. play a powerful role in preparation for imperialist war. They play an even more insidious role in rewriting the history of U.S. wars and obstructing the purpose of U.S. wars.

They are totally intertwined with U.S. military, oil and banking corporations. In every war, this enormously powerful institution known as the ‘fourth estate’ attempts, as the public relations arm of corporate dominance, to justify imperialist plunder and overwhelm all dissent.

The corporate media’s reminiscences and evaluations this week of the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War, which began March 19, 2003, are a stark reminder of their criminal complicity in the war.

In the many articles there is barely any mention of the hundreds of news stories that totally saturated the media for months leading to the Pentagon onslaught. The news coverage in 2003 was wholly unsubstantiated, with wild fabrications of Iraqi secret ”weapons of mass destruction,” ominous nuclear threats, germ warfare programs, purchases of yellow cake uranium, nerve gas labs and the racist demonization of Saddam Hussein as the greatest threat to humanity. All of this is now glossed over and forgotten.

No weapons were ever found in Iraq, but no U.S. official was ever charged with fraud. Heroes such as Private B. Manning, however, face life in prison for releasing documents exposing the extent of some these premeditated crimes.

Today, in the popular histories, the barest mention is made of the real reason for the war: the determination to impose regime change on Iraq in order to secure U.S. corporate control and domination of the vast oil and gas resources of the region. Iraq was to be an example to every country attempting independent development that the only choice was complete submission or total destruction.

Now it is no longer even a political debate that the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq were a howling disaster and major imperialist blunder for U.S. strategic interests. Despite every determination to occupy Iraq with 14 permanent military bases, the U.S. army of occupation was forced to withdraw in the face of fierce Iraqi national resistance.

Bush stood on the deck of the U.S. aircraft carrier Lincoln on May Day 2003, with a “Mission Accomplished” banner behind him, to declare the war over. But what the U.S., puffed up by its imperialist arrogance, did not foresee was that the resistance had just begun.

U.S. strategists, so full of conceit about their powerful weapons, ignored the message displayed on signs, billboards and headlines of every Iraqi newspaper. It was even the headline of an English-language newspaper there, when this reporter was in Iraq with a solidarity delegation just a few weeks before the U.S. “shock and awe” onslaught.

The oft-repeated slogan was: “What the jungles of Vietnam were to their resistance, the cities of Iraq will be for us.”

The Iraqi government opened the warehouses and distributed six months of food rations to the population in advance of the war. Each package bore the sign: “Remember to feed a resistance fighter.” Small arms, explosives and simple instructions for making improvised explosive devices were publicly distributed.

Ultimately U.S. corporate power was defeated in Iraq due to its inability to be a force for human progress on any level. It was incapable of reconstruction.

The overpowering force of U.S. weaponry was able to destroy the proudest accomplishments of past decades of Iraqi sovereignty and inflame old sectarian wounds. But it was unable to defeat the Iraqi resistance or even gain a vote on a status of forces agreement in an Iraqi Parliament that the U.S. planners created.

U.S. media non-coverage

In covering the 10th anniversary, the same media that sold the war 24/7 recount  the criminal decision to invade and occupy Iraq as just mistaken intelligence or wrong information. At the same time that they wring their hands over lost opportunities and lack of foresight, they give a passing salute to the 4,448 U.S. soldiers who died and the 32,221 wounded. At least 3,400 U.S. contractors died as well, a number barely mentioned or underreported.

More than 1.1 million U.S. soldiers served in Iraq. The National Council on Disabilities says up to 40 percent of veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury.

The U.S. invasion of Iraq was the most widely and closely reported war in military history. Yet the enormity of the crime committed against the Iraqi people, the hundreds of thousands of silent deaths from lack of medical infrastructure, the millions of refugees, the environmental catastrophe, the radioactive and chemical waste left behind were ignored in coverage then, and today are barely noted.

At the start of the war in March 2003, 775 reporters and photographers were registered and traveling as embedded journalists. The number grew to thousands. These reporters signed contracts with the military that limited what they were allowed to report on.

So it should come as no surprise that what is completely missing from coverage is any responsibility for the calculated destruction of Iraq, the massive corruption and systematic looting, or the conscious policy of inflaming sectarian hatred and violence as a tactic to demoralize the resistance.

Statistics cannot convey the human loss. One out of every four Iraqi children under 18 lost one or both parents. In 2007, there were 5 million Iraqi orphans, according to official government statistics. By 2008, only 50 percent of primary-school-age children were attending classes. Iraq was reduced from having the lowest rate of illiteracy in the region to having the highest. Women suffered the greatest losses in education, professions, childcare, nutrition and their own safety in the brutal occupation.

According to figures of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, there are now 2.7 million internally displaced Iraqis and 2.2 million refugees, mostly in neighboring states. More than one-fourth of Iraq’s population is dead, disabled or dislocated refugees due to the years of U.S. occupation. This is hardly liberation.

Missing in the many 10th anniversary evaluations is the essential historical context. The 2003 war was a continuation of the 1991 war to destroy Iraq as a sovereign nation in control of its own resources. There is barely a mention of the targeted destruction in 1991 of drinking water, sanitation, sewage, irrigation, communications and pharmaceutical industry facilities, as well as the civilian electric grid and basic food supply. Erased today is all mention of 13 years of U.S./U.N. starvation sanctions imposed on Iraq from 1990 to 2003, which caused the deaths, through hunger and disease, of more than 1 million Iraqis, more than half of them children.

Despite the horrendous toll, the failure of U.S./U.N.-imposed sanctions to create a total collapse in Iraq compelled U.S. corporate power to opt for a military invasion to impose regime change.

Second anniversary of wars in Libya, Syria

Also missing from evaluations of the U.S. war on Iraq is any mention that this is a week of two other war anniversaries.

March 19 is the second anniversary of the U.S./NATO war on Libya — the seven months of bombing that destroyed the modern, beautiful cities, schools, hospitals and cultural centers built with nationalized oil and gas of Libya. The NATO operation assassinated the Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in 2011 and laid waste to the whole country. But it has not yet secured a stable source of U.S. profits.

March 15 is the second anniversary of the continuing U.S./NATO effort to destabilize and utterly destroy modern, secular Syria.

Despite U.S./NATO backing and funding from the corrupt feudal monarchies of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, diplomatic support, the arming of death squads and mercenaries, and the setting up of safe havens and bases in Turkey, the Syrian government has mobilized the population and resisted another U.S.-orchestrated regime change. The conflict is at a stalemate. The death toll has passed 70,000.

The Salvador option: mass terror

The clearest expose that the years of sectarian violence in Iraq following the U.S. invasion, death squad assassinations, mass terror campaigns and the harrowing use of torture by trained commando units were deliberate acts sanctioned and developed at the highest level of U.S. political and military command was published the week of March 18 in the London Guardian, with an accompanying BBC documentary film. The expose was based on 18 months of research.

The expose names Col. James Steele, a retired Special Forces veteran, who was sent to Iraq by then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to organize paramilitaries to crush the Iraqi insurgency. Another special adviser, retired Col. James Coffman, worked alongside Steele and reported directly to General Petraeus.

This U.S. policy of counterinsurgency was called the “Salvador option” — a terrorist model of mass killings by U.S.-sponsored death squads. It was first applied in El Salvador in the 1980s’ heyday of resistance against a military dictatorship, resulting in an estimated 75,000 deaths. One million out of a population of 6 million became refugees.

The Salvador option is the central tenet of General David Petraeus’ often-praised counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Guardian researchers analyzed a number of documents from Wikileaks and assembled a huge number of reports of torture carried out by militias trained and supported by the U.S. under this program. The BBC and The Guardian report that their requests for comment to key members of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, which could investigate the allegations, were declined or ignored.

But in Samarra, an Iraqi city where Iraqis were tortured in a library and that the BBC documentary focuses on, residents held mass demonstrations against the government and planned to set up big screens in the central square to show the whole film.

‘Shock and awe’ = terror

From the very beginning of  war preparation, U.S. plans were calculated to use the most extreme forms of terror on the Iraqi people to force submission to U.S. domination. “Shock and awe” is terrorism by another name.

“Shock and awe” is technically known as rapid dominance. By its very definition, it’s a military doctrine that uses overwhelming power and spectacular displays of force to paralyze and destroy the will to fight. Written by Harlan K. Ullman and James P. Wade in 1996, the doctrine is a product of the U.S. National Defense University, developed to exploit the “superior technology, precision engagement, and information dominance” of the United States.

This well-known military strategy requires the capability to disrupt “means of communication, transportation, food production, water supply, and other aspects of infrastructure.” According to these criminal military strategists, the aim is to achieve a level of national shock akin to the effect of dropping nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

War profiteers

The looting and pillage of Iraq on a grand scale were also planned from the very beginning. It was hardly an accident, a mistaken policy or the fog of war.

The official who had total authority in Iraq immediately following  “shock and awe” destruction, the chief of the occupation authority in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer III,  enacted 100 orders which turned Iraq overnight into a giant U.S.-dominated capitalist free market. The 100 orders guaranteed 100 percent foreign investor ownership of Iraqi assets, the right to expropriate all profits, unrestricted imports, and long-term 30- to 40-year deals and leases. In the official turnover to Iraqi sovereignty, these colonial orders were to stay in place.

Billions were stolen outright from Iraq. According to Dirk Adriaensens of the BRussells Tribunal, U.S. administrators, as the occupation “authority,” seized all Iraqi assets and funds all over the world — totaling U.S. $13 billion. They confiscated all Iraqi funds in the U.S. (U.S. $3 billion). They enforced transfers of funds from the Iraqi UBS account (Swiss bank) to the U.S. forces. They demanded and received from the U.N. the accumulated oil-for-food program funds up to March 2003 (about U.S. $21 billion).

In the first weeks of the occupation, U.S. troops got hold of about U.S. $6 billion as well as U.S. $4 billion from the Central Bank and other Iraqi banks. They collected this money in special government buildings in Baghdad.

Where did all these funds go? Instead of setting up an account in the Iraqi Central Bank for depositing these funds, as well as the oil export funds, the occupation authorities set up the “Development Fund for Iraq” account in the American Central Bank, New York Branch, where all financial operations are carried out in top secrecy. Around $40 billion is “missing” from a post-Gulf War fund.

According to the BBC, in June 10, 2008, another $23 billion in Western aid funds to Iraq were lost, stolen or “not properly accounted for.” Tales abounded of millions of dollars in $100 bills that went missing from skids at airports and of deliveries of pizza boxes and duffle bags full of cash.

According to BusinessPundit.com’s list of the 25 most vicious war profiteers, these stolen funds were just the beginning of the theft. Major U.S. corporations reported record profits. In the years 2003 to 2006, profits and earnings doubled for Exxon/Mobil Corp. and ChevronTexaco.

Halliburton’s KBR, Inc. division, which was directly connected to Vice President Cheney, bilked government agencies to the tune of $17.2 billion in Iraq war-related revenue from 2003 to 2006 alone.

The cost of war

Nobel laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz calculated the cost of the Iraq war, including the many hidden costs, in his 2008 book, “The Three Trillion Dollar War.” He concluded: “There is no such thing as a free lunch, and there is no such thing as a free war. The Iraq adventure has seriously weakened the U.S. economy, whose woes now go far beyond loose mortgage lending. You can’t spend $3 trillion — yes, $3 trillion — on a failed war abroad and not feel the pain at home.”

Stiglitz lists what even one of these trillions could have paid for: 8 million housing units, or 15 million public school teachers, or health care for 530 million children for a year, or scholarships to universities for 43 million students. Three trillion could have fixed America’s so-called Social Security problem for half a century.

According to a Christian Science Monitor report, when ongoing medical treatment, replacement vehicles and other costs are included, the total cost of the Iraq war is projected to cost $4 trillion. (Oct. 25, 2012)

Peoples resistance & the anti-war movement

The corporate media play another important role in rewriting history. Their aim is always to do everything possible to marginalize and disparage the awareness of millions of people in their own power.

While the “shock and awe” attack of March 19, 2003, is still described today, it is rare in the major media to see any reference to the truly massive demonstrations of opposition to the impending war that drew millions of people into the streets. it is projected that before the war, more than 36 million people in more than 3,000 demonstrations mobilized internationally to oppose it — in the two coldest winter months. This was unprecedented.

In Iraq, despite the overwhelming force of “shock and awe,” the planned use of sectarian war and mass use of death squads — despite the destruction of every accomplishment built by past generations, along with the destruction of schools and the confiscation of resources — the U.S. war failed on every count. Despite horrendous conditions, the Iraqi resistance drove the occupation out of Iraq. This is an accomplishment of great significance to people all around the world.

The International Action Center is supporting this campaign called by the Korea Alliance of Progressive Movements! 

We urge you all to do the same!  

Stand for Peace on the Korean Peninsula!

Join Our Photo Campaign to End the Korean War -SEND JPG PHOTOS BY 3/21, to [email protected]

On the sixtieth anniversary of the signing of the 1953 Armistice Agreement that temporarily halted but did not end the Korean War, the Korea Alliance of Progressive Movements calls upon allies around the world to stand for peace on the peninsula!
Sanctions against North Korea and annual U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises are clear signs that the Korean War—a war that left over four million dead and one in three Korean families divided—is not over.  We ask you to take five minutes and join us in solidarity not only against the U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises and against North Korea sanctions, which only harm the North Korean people, but also for peace talks.  Our goal for our “I Stand for Peace” photo campaign is to get at least 200 supporters in the United States (and 1000 in Korea) to commit to the following:
1.     Take a photograph in either a public space or a place in your daily life holding a sign with the following demands written on it:
a.     End Sanctions Against North Korea!  (For more info. on sanctions, check out
b.     Stop the U.S.-South Korea Joint Military Exercises!  (For more info., check out
c.     End the Korean War! (and/or) Peace on the Korean Peninsula Now!
2.    By this Thursday, March  21, post a picture on your Facebook wall, Twitter account, or any social networking site that you are a part of.
Our goal is not just to create a powerful symbol of solidarity to use in our press events but also to awaken people to the ongoing 60-plus year fight for peace and reunification. We have had six decades of a precarious stability marked by military conflicts.  Now is the time for peace!
Through this campaign, we aim to counter the false belief that the peoples of the United States and South Korea support joint military exercises and a punitive sanctions regime that harms the North Korean people.  Together, we stand to say, “I Stand for Peace on the Korean Peninsula!”

Originally published in 2008

for complete transcript in english scroll down

VIDEOS NOW SUBTITLED – not complete gets updated

Japan’s prime minister and main opposition rival clashed on Jan. 9th, 2008 over the controversial naval mission in support of U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan as the ruling bloc prepared to force an enabling law through parliament

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, squaring off in parliament with Democratic Party leader Ichiro Ozawa for the first time since taking office, praised the navy’s refueling mission as helping the global war on terrorism and urged the opposition-controlled upper house to vote on it before parliament ends on Jan. 15.

Ozawa insists the refueling mission violates Japan’s pacifist constitution, and has not been approved formally by the United Nationsa position Fukuda flatly rejected.

Ozawas Japan Democratic party which is in the opposition tried to block the resumption of the mission, which supplies fuel
and water to US-led forces operating in the Indian Ocean.

It claims that oil supplied by Japanese ships has been diverted for use in
operations in Iraq, an accusation the Americans deny.

On January 11th 2008 the opposition-controlled upper house voted down the bill to restart the mission to refuel U.S. and other ships patrolling the Indian Oceanmember of Parliament

Yukihisa Fujita of the Japan Democratic party, made a 20 minute long statement
at the House of Councillors, the upper house of the Diet (parliament) of Japan, ahead of the voting

He questioned the official version of 9/11 presented
to the japanese government and the public by the US administration in a session of the defence commission.

He asked the current Prime Minister Fukuda who was the Chief Cabinet Secretary under Koizumi cabinet in 2001 .

“How could terrorists attacked the Pentagon?”

Mr.Yukihisa Fujita stressed that of the 24 people that died on 9/11 only 13 were identified and 11 bodies remain unaccounted for.
He pointed out that there was never an official police investigation into the deaths of these japanese nationals.
He asked whether terrorism is crime or war. Some Japanese people were killed, so he believes this was a crime and the japanese police should investigate the
real suspects.

The Japanese government assumed that the suspect was Al-Queda because Bush told then Prime minister Koizumi in 2001 after the attacks of 9/11 had happened
and later did send the self-defense force to Iraq based on that assumption.

US President George W Bush has recently pressed Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda to ensure Tokyo resumes crucial naval operations to support the war in Afghanistan.

Yukihisa Fujita did question Defense Minister Shigeru Ishiba and Minister of Finance Fukushiro Nukaga about the way  in which the US government did inform the japanese government about the people responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

He then explained that in the USA many people doubt the official version of 9/11 and numerous websites and scientists have collected evidence that contradicts the governments version..

He presented several largescale photographs of: the Pentagon entry and exit hole,the flight path towards the Pentagon, the exploding WTC towers and the WTC 7 collapse.

He concluded that the japanese governments support of the “war against terror” is solely based on information provided by the US-administration. He demanded further investigation in the face of the governments drive to support the war more actively.

Yukihisa Fujita was elected to the House of Councillors for the first time in 2007

The Democratic Party of Japan (Minshinto) is a social liberal political party founded in 1998 by the merger of several smaller parties.
It is the second-largest party in the House of Representatives and the largest party in the House of Councillors, and it constitutes the primary opposition to the long-dominant Liberal Democratic Party. broadcasted on public TV

Below is a transcript of testimony in the Japanese Parliament, broadcast live nationwide on NHK television.

The Member of Parliament talking about 911 is Yukihisa Fujita from the Democratic Party of Japan.

Head of the committee:

We will now begin the first session of the defense and foreign affairs committee. We will now start discussing the special anti-terror law. .We now call on Mr. Yukihisa Fujita

Fujita standing in front of microphone:

This will be the last televised broadcast of this committee for so I would like to talk about the origin of the war on terrorism which was the attacks of 911. On September 11 of 2002 I went to a theater house for a charity concert to help build a school in Afghanistan. They chose to have the charity concert on that day as a gesture of respect for the dead. Normally 911 commemorative events are for the people who died in New York but the people who held this event decided that more innocent people died as a result of 911 in Afghanistan than in New York. So they built a grade school near where the statue of Buddha was destroyed in Bamiyan. The name of the school is “the school of hope.” They also lit candles to commemorate the dead both in Afghanistan and in New York in the year 2002, one year after the attacks. So, when discussing these anti-terror laws we should ask ourselves, what was 911, what is terrorism? So today, I would like to talk about the beginning of the war on terror.

So, I would like to ask the people who call this law an anti-terror law to realize that the biggest victim of the war on terrorism has been Afghanistan so I believe helping the people of Afghanistan should be our biggest priority. I would like to ask Mr. Inuzuka about this.

Tadashi Inuzuka walking to the microphone:

As Mr. Fujita says the main purpose of this law is to provide peace and security to Afghanistan. And, as he says, the biggest sufferers have been the people of Afghanistan. Afghanistan has 1.7 times the land area of Japan and 20 some million people live there. Also, because of a drought on the Eurasian continent close to 5 million have died due to water shortages. Even now 1 million people live close to the main battlegrounds. So, the main purpose is to provide stability to those war zones so in that context what should Japan do? However, instead of providing support by providing fuel to the U.S. forces we at the Democratic Party have decided that providing water is more important. The philosophy behind our anti-terror law is to get the ruling party to help deal with this problem.

Head of the committee: Mr. Fujita

Mr. Fujita:

I would like to talk about the origins of this war on terrorism. You may recall that in November I asked you if terrorism was war or if it was a crime. And the whole start of this war on terrorism was 911. What I want to know is if this event was caused by Al Qaeda or not. So far the only thing the government has said is that we think it was caused by Al Qaeda because President Bush told us so. We have not seen any real proof that it was Al Qaeda. I would like to know why the Prime Minister thinks it was the Taliban who was responsible for 911. Committee Chief, I want to ask the Prime Minister because he was chief cabinet officer at the time.

Prime Minister Fukuda:

Since the attacks we have communicated with the U.S. government and other governments at different levels and exchanged information. According to secret information obtained by our government and reports put together by foreign governments the 911 attacks were carried out by the international terrorist organization known as Al Qaeda.

Mr. Fujita:

So, you are talking about both secret and disclosed information. My question is has the Japanese government carried out its own investigation using the police and other resources? It is a crime so surely an investigation needs to be carried out. When a Japanese journalist was shot in Myanmar you carried out an investigation. In the same way over 20 Japanese people died on 911 so surely the government carried out its own investigation and decided that Al Qaeda was responsible. So, what kind of investigation did you carry out? At the time you were Chief Cabinet Secretary so surely you would know better than anybody so I want to ask you about your investigation.

Prime Minister Fukuda:

After the 911 attacks the National Police Agency sent an emergency anti-terror team to New York. They met with U.S. government officials and gathered information about missing Japanese.

Mr. Fujita:

So you are saying over 20 people died as a result of a crime and most of those people were working in New York. Also there were some Japanese who died in the four airplanes that were hijacked. I would like to know exactly how many people died in the buildings and how many died in the airplanes. I also want to know how you confirmed this. I would like the Foreign Minister to answer for me.

Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura standing at right in front of microphone:

We found the bodies of over a dozen Japanese following the simultaneous terror attacks carried out on September 11 2001. We were also informed about the death of 11 more people by the U.S. authorities. In total 24 Japanese died in those attacks. Of those 2 were in the airplanes.

Mr. Fujita:

I would like to ask what flights the two Japanese who died in the airplanes were on and how you determined who they were. If the foreign minister does not know it is OK to get a bureaucrat to answer:

Foreign Ministry division chief Ryoji Tanizaki:

Since this a question of fact, I will answer. As the Foreign Minister said, of the 24 people who died two were on the airplanes. One of them was on United Flight 93 and the other was on American airlines flight 11.As for how we know this, well I do not have the information in front of me but we were told by U.S. authorities and, in general, they use DNA testing. So we believe that is how we know about those two people.

Mr. Fujita:

So you are saying you do not know because you do not have the documents. Also, you say you believe there was DNA testing but you do not know. So what I want to say today is that this was a crime and crimes are supposed to be investigated. So the government needs to inform the victims families of the results of their investigation. Also, instead of just observing the anniversary of 911 every year you must be gathering information and reacting to it. So, during the past six years have you been supplying the families of the deceased with information? I would like to ask the Foreign Minister to answer.

Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura:

So you do not want to ask any more about how we confirmed the deaths of Japanese but want to know about reports to the victims families? We provided the families with information about the bodies and about compensation funds. Also, for the 13 Japanese whose remains we found, we helped the families deal with the bodies. We also financial support visits to the World Trade Center site for the families on every anniversary.

Mr. Fujita:

Since I do not have much time I would like to ask about the suspicious information being uncovered and the doubts people world wide are having about the events of 911. Many of these doubters are very influential people. In such circumstances I believe the Japanese government, which claims the attacks were carried out by Al Qaeda, should be providing the victims families with this new information. In that context I would like to ask several questions.

First of all I would like to get all members of the committee to look at this panel and look at the pictures I have provided you with. This is concrete evidence in the form of photographs and other types of information. The first photograph has computer graphics attached to show how large the plane that hit the Pentagon was. A 757 is quite a large airplane with a width of 38 meters. So as you can see even though such a large plane hit the pentagon there is only a hole that is too small for the airplane. This is a photograph taken of firemen at work and you can also see there is no damage of the sort an airplane that large should make. I would also like you to look at the lawn in front and notice that there are no airplane parts on it. Let us now look at the third picture, which is also of the pentagon taken from a U.S. TV news report has captions that show the roof of the Pentagon is still intact. Again even though a huge airplane is supposed to have hit, there is not enough corresponding damage. Now let us move to the next photograph. Here is a photograph of a hole, as Minister Komura knows the Pentagon is a very strong building with many walls. Yet the airplane has pierced them. But as you know, airplanes are made of the lightest possible material. An airplane made of such light material could not make a hole like that. Next I would like to show a photograph of how the airplane hit the building. The airplane made a U-turn, avoiding the Defense Secretary’s office and hitting the only part of the Pentagon that had been specially reinforced to withstand a bomb attack.

Also, in the middle of page five we have a comment from a U.S. airforce official. He says I have flown the two types of airplane used on 911 and I cannot believe it would be possible for someone who is flying one for the first time to be able to carry out such a maneuver. Also, as you know, they have not recovered the flight recorders from most of these 4 airplanes. Also, there were more than 80 security cameras at the Pentagon but they have refused to release almost all of the footage. In any case, as you have just seen there is no picture of the airplane or of its wreckage in any of these photographs. It is very strange that no such pictures have been shown to us.

As you know Japan’s self-defense forces have their headquarters in Ichigaya. Can you imagine if an airplane hit a major city, if an hour and a half after an airplane hit New York that an airplane could hit the Pentagon? In such a situation how could our allies allow such an attack to take place. I would like the Defense Minister to answer this.

Defense Minister Fuyushiba Ishiba:

I have not prepared so I will have to answer ad-lib. If such a situation took place then the airforce would send fighters up to shoot down any airplanes. This is what happened with an attack on the German constitutional court. In the case of Japan our reaction would depend on what kind of airplane it was, who was flying it and what their purpose was. However, according to our laws it might be hard to order an airplane to be shot down just because it was flying at a low level. We would probably have self-defense forces fly with it and ask for a cabinet decision. Since an airplane would have many people on board we would have do discuss what to do. This happened a long time ago but a Cesna airplane was flown into the house of a person called Yoshio Kodama. There was also an All Japan Airways flight bound for Hakodate that was hijacked and had the pilot killed. It would be best if such a thing never happened but we need to prepare new laws for such situations and discuss them in Parliament.

Mr. Fujita:

Since we are running out of time I would like to present a new piece of evidence. Please look at this panel. The first picture is one you see often of the two towers that were hit by hijacked airplanes. I could understand if this happened right after the airplanes hit but here we can see large piece of material flying a large distance through the air. Some flew 150 meters. You can objects flying in this picture as if there was an explosion. Here is a picture I took from a book. This lets you see how far the objects flew. The third picture is of a fireman who was involved in the rescue talking about a series of explosions in the building that sounded like a professional demolition. We cannot present video today so I have written a translation of what the fireman said. Here his is saying “it went boom boom boom like explosions were going off.”

Here is something said by a Japanese research team of officials from the fire department and the construction ministry. The interviewed a Japanese survivor who said that while she was fleeing there were explosions. This testimony appears in a report prepared with the aid of the construction ministry and the fire department. Now I would like you to see the following picture. Normally it is said that the twin towers collapsed because they were hit by airplanes. However, one block away from the twin towers is building number 7. It can be seen in the following map a block away from the WTC. This building collapsed 7 hours after the WTC buildings were attacked. If I could show you a video it would be easy to understand but take a look at this photograph. This is a 47 story building that fell in this manner (He drops and object to demonstrate). The building falls in five or six seconds. It is about the same speed as an object would fall in a vacuum. This building falls like something you would see in a Kabuki show. Also if falls while keeping its shape. Remember it was not hit by an airplane. You have to ask yourself if a building could fall in that manner due to a fire after 7 hours. Here we have a copy of the 911 commission report. This is a report put out by the U.S. government in July of 2004 but this report does not mention the collapse of the building I just described. It is not mentioned at all in here (he waves the book). FEMA also issued a report but they also fail to mention this building. Many people believe, especially after seeing the story about building number 7, that something is strange. Since this is an incident where many people died people think is should be investigated.

We are running out of time but I would also like to mention the put options. Just before the 911 attacks, ie on September 6th, 7th and 8th there were put options put out on the stocks of the two airlines United and American that were hit by hijackers. There were also put options on Merril Lynch, one of the biggest WTC tenants. In other words somebody had insider information and made a fortune selling put options of these stocks. The head of Germany’s Bundesbank at the time, who is equivalent to the Governor of the Bank of Japan, said there are lots of facts to prove the people involved in the terror attacks profited from insider information. He said there was lots of suspicious trading involving financial companies etc prior to the attacks. The had of the Bundesbank was willing to say this much. I would like to ask the Finance Minster about these put options. Did the government of Japan know about this, and what do you think about this? I would like to ask Finance Minister Nukaga about this.

Finance Minister Fukushiro Nukaga:

I was in Burkina Fasso in Africa when I heard about this incident. I decided to fly immediately to the U.S. but when I got to Paris I was told there were no flights to America. So I only heard what was reported later about the facts. I know there have been reports about the points you raise. So we made it obligatory that people provide ID for securities transactions and for suspicious transactions to be reported and we made it a crime to provide money to terrorist organizations. We believe the international financial system should not be abused. In any case, terrorism is a horrible thing and must be condemned. This type of terrorism cannot be stopped by one country but needs to be stopped by international society.

Mr. Fujita:

I would like to ask finance specialist Mr. Asao to tell me about put options. A group of people with large amounts of money, clear insider information and financial expertise would have been necessary for such a thing to take place. Could a few terrorists in Afghanistand and Pakistan carry out such a sophisticated and large scale set of transactions? I would like to ask Mr. Asao to respond.

Keiichiro Asao:

I understand put options are a deal to sell stocks at a fixed price. In this case somebody must have had insider information to carry out such transactions because nobody could normally predict these airlines would have their planes hijacked. So, I believe this was certainly a case of insider trading.

Mr. Fujita:

Prime Minister, you were Chief Cabinet Secretary at the time and as somebody has already noted, this was an incident of the sort that humanity had never previously experienced. Also, there appears to be a lot more information about this incident coming out now than came out in the months after the attacks. Now that we are an internet and visual society, this information is being made public so if we look at the situation now, the whole starting point for these two laws , the start of the war on terror itself, as you have seen from the information I have presented, has not been properly investigated or analyzed. So I do not believe the government has acted properly by investigating this incident or asking the U.S. government for an explanation. So far we have not started refueling U.S. ships yet so I think we need to go back to the beginning and not just simply and blindly trust the U.S. government explanation and indirect information provided by them. There were too many victims so I think we need to start again from the beginning. We need to ask who the real victims of this war on terrorism are. I think the citizens of the world are its victims. Here in Japan we have disappearing pensions and disappearing records about victims of Hepatitis C contaminated blood but everything I have presented on facts and confirmable evidence. Let us talk about the vanishing black boxes, vanishing airplanes and vanishing remains. Also lots of the remains of these buildings have disappeared. Even FEMA says that prevented it from carrying out a proper investigation. We need to look at this evidence and ask ourselves what the war on terrorism really is. I can see the ministers nodding in agreement but I would like to ask Prime Minister Fukuda. Please look at me. I have heard that when you were Chief Cabinet Minister at the time you felt many strange things about these attacks. Do you not think it was strange?

Prime Minister Fukuda:

I never said I thought it was strange.

Mr. Fujita:

Prime Minister what about the origin of the war on terror and the idea of whether it is right or wrong to participate in it? Is there really a reason to participate in this war on terror? Do we really need to participate? I would also like to ask about how to really stop terrorism.

Prime Minister Fukuda:

We believe based on evidence provided to us by the U.S. government that the attacks of 911 were carried out by Al Qaeda. We need to put an end to Al Qaeda terrorism. That is why international society is united in the fight against terrorism. Here, concerning a law passed by the Democratic Party last year and based on UN resolution 16595. This is a resolution passed in response to the terrorist attacks on the U.S. So you passed the law agreeing with the UN didn’t you?

Mr Fujita:

Did you confirm about the bodies and the facts behind the resolution because that is why you claim to be participating in this war on terrorism. So I believe to end terrorism we need to pass a law that actually helps the people of Afghanistan. I would like Mr. Inuzuka to talk about the law and about the fight against terrorism.

Tadashi Inuzuka:

Among the many problems raised by MP Fujita the thing we need to worry most about is that the people in Afghanistan can live in peace and without worries. That is the core of the issue of ending terrorism. Without discussing this but just operating behind the back lines by supplying oil and not thinking about the entire situation or the people involved it is nonsense to debate this law. This law should be made for peace and security in Afghanistan. Our country needs to pass a real anti-terror law.

Filipino terrorists have occupied parts of east Malaysia, and leaders in Kuala Lumpur and Manila smell indications of a political conspiracy. WikiLeaks cables show that a Malaysian opposition leader with deep ties to Washington could be a key suspect.

Malaysia has been in the midst of an ongoing security crisis since early February, when a group of 235 rag-tag militiamen from the neighboring southern Philippines slipped into the eastern state of Sabah and began occupying several villages. While engaging police in several firefights, the insurgents beheaded and mutilated several captured Malaysian security personnel, prompting Malaysian forces to deploy fighter jets in an unprecedented air assault over the area in an operation to flush out the intruders. The gunmen call themselves the “Royal Army of the Sulu Sultanate”, representing the heirs of a long-defunct kingdom which once controlled the territory up until the late nineteenth century. The so-called Sultan of Sulu, Jamalul Kiram III, who is believed to be directing the militant incursion from Manila, insists that Sabah is rightfully part of his kingdom and has vowed not budge on his claims even if his personnel are killed in the standoff.

Malaysians, who are preparing to vote in a pivotal general election just around the corner, have been fixated on events in Sabah as they unfold. The Philippines are soon expecting congressional elections as well, and given the timing, local analysts are wondering how exactly did this elderly self-proclaimed Sultan obtained the resources needed to establish his own private army. Both the Malaysian and Philippine governments have launched official investigations into allegations that figures within Malaysia’s political opposition had a hand in aiding the Sulu gunmen. Reuters cited an anonymous Filipino military officer who claimed that Sulu rebels were “invited to Sabah by a Malaysian opposition politician”.

The blame has been laid on Malaysia’s de-facto opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, who Malaysian reports say has links to Filipino insurgent networks that have long eyed the resource-rich state of Sabah in northern eastern Borneo. Local journalist Adrian Lai recently unearthed classified diplomatic cables from the US embassy in Manila brought to light by WikiLeaks, which document ties between Nur Misauri, former chairmen of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), and Malaysia’s main opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

The MNLF is a political movement that pitted itself against predominately Christian Manila by seeking political autonomy for Muslim majority provinces in the islands in the southern Philippines. In 2001, Manila accused Misauri of terrorism when he led an MNLF unit that attacked an outpost of the Philippine army, prompting him to seek refuge in Sabah on the assumption that authorities in Muslim-majority Malaysia would empathize with him and block his extradition. Misauri was detained by Malaysian security forces in Sabah and sent back to the Philippines where he was jailed until 2008.

WikiLeaks cables claim that Misauri detested the Malaysian government for turning him over to Philippine authorities and that he was “a strong advocate for the recovery of Sabah”. The cables claim that Misauri boasted that his militias could invade Sabah in the span of two hours. WikiLeaks has also confirmed that Misauri maintained close connections to Anwar Ibrahim, and that the two had met on several occasions. A separate report issued by AFP cited US diplomatic cables that implicate a Saudi Arabian ambassador to the Philippines of funding Muslim groups seeking autonomy in the southern islands. Misauri recently criticized Philippine President Benigno Aquino for siding with Malaysia in his firm stance against the Sulu militants, warning the Aquino government of chaos if Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III is apprehended.

Anwar Ibrahim, who has vehemently denied all accusations, has long been considered a darling of the West. Mr. Ibrahim is a slippery character of sorts; he was once Malaysia’s deputy prime minister prior to being sacked for getting too close to the IMF, among other things. Anwar also has friends in high places. In recent times, Ibrahim has appealed to Carl Gershman, president of the US-Government funded foundation, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), requesting that he send a US observer team to Malaysia to monitor the upcoming elections. Ibrahim enraged many when he stated he would support policy to protect the security of Israel, and while his political party has long received training and backing from the International Republican Institute (IRI) chaired by Republican Senator John McCain, there little doubt that Anwar – a creature of Washington’s taxpayer funded “Democracy Promotion” overseas – would be the trusted ally that the White House is looking for as it refocuses its military muscle and political influence to the Asia-Pacific region.

Philippine President Benigno Aquino has recently conceded that events in Sabah showed signs of a conspiracy. A recent statement issued by Malaysian political-scientist Dr. Chandra Muzaffar alludes to reports of Malaysian opposition figures promising land, titles and other sinecures to the Sulu Sultanate if they emerged victorious in the upcoming elections. Muzaffar argues that a security crisis in Sabah, regarded as a political stronghold for the Barisan Nasional (BN) government, could weaken the ruling parties hold over the state, leading to a hung parliament or a narrow victory for the BN, prompting in his words, “massive street agitation which could pave the way for a regime change, which is the goal of not only the Opposition but also its foreign backers.” When Chandra talks of “foreign backers”, he is referring to the US political establishment.

The MNLF, under its current chairmen Muslimin Sema, has issued statements declaring that it disagreed with the incursion into Sabah, but acknowledged that MNLF forces aligned to Misauri were present there. Reports issued by Reuters also cited Malaysian officials who claimed that the Sulu terrorists had links to factions that were unhappy with the Philippines’ recent peace agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), an Islamist MNLF offshoot. The Malaysian government facilitated these peace talks, and Misauri made no secret that he publically opposed them. The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that some ten thousand MNLF fighters from the southern Philippines planned to join the insurgency in Sabah in solidarity with the Royal Sulu Army.

Sulu Sultan Jamalul Kiram III has told media in the Philippines that he wants the United Nations, the United States and the United Kingdom to intervene in his claim over Sabah. The Sultan claims that the US must intercede, as agreed upon in a 1915 agreement signed with Washington’s then-colonial government in the Philippines that mandated the US provide “full protection” to the Sulu Sultan in exchange for exercising sovereignty over the kingdom as the colonial administration. Let’s not forget, the strategically located state of Sabah is abundant in natural gas reserves, and its oil reserves are the third highest in the Asia-Pacific region after China and India. Sabah’s fifteen oil wells produce as many as 192,000 barrels a day, while the country has holds over 4 billion barrels of proven oil reserves. In 2010, Malaysia was the world’s third largest exporter of liquefied natural gas (LNG) after Qatar and Indonesia. The Malaysian government had paid a modest annual cession payment to the Sultanate (which the Sultan argues is a “rent”) since gaining independence from Britain, and one of the motivations for the Sultan’s push to reclaim the territory is definitely profit-driven. While the Pentagon refocuses over 60% of its naval presence to the Asia Pacific region, conflicts of this nature – which deal with obstructions to the flow of abundant energy resources to US companies – are exactly the sort that could coax the eventual involvement of US personnel if Sabah were to deteriorate into a hotbed of Sulu-terror.

The fact that individuals in the highest levels of the Malaysian and Philippine governments are suspicious of a conspiracy does much to lend credence to the possibility. Former Malaysian PM Dr. Mahathir Mohammad, an ardent critic of Israel and US imperialism, warned months prior to the standoff in Sabah that the opposition’s Western backers sought to bring Anwar Ibrahim to power through Arab Spring-style street riots and even the use of fire power, citing recent examples in Egypt and Syria where NATO states backed political opposition figures and supported al-Qaeda-linked rebels to act on their behalf in overthrowing governments they were tired of. Reports of Saudi Arabia financially supporting Philippine terrorists should also not be taken lightly, as Gulf States have moved in-step with the US and NATO as the main financiers of Salafist terrorist networks active in west Asia, north Africa and elsewhere.

Without resorting to elaborate conspiracies in the absence of hard facts, it would be entirely negligent to ignore circumstantial evidence linking Malaysian figures to this insurgency, especially considering all sources of this nature are non-Malaysian in origin. There is no doubt that the Sultan has no legitimate legal claims over Sabah since the International Court of Justice has long recognized Malaysia’s rights and sovereignty over the territory, and the highly unusual timing of the Sulu operation being so close to elections in both countries will naturally be perceived as suspect. Militancy and terrorism undermines the Sultan’s claims entirely and lends much credibility to suspicion that the Sultan has not acted alone. Even if the US isn’t involved, the fact that a figure who received blatant US support has been implicated is significant. There is much at stake in Sabah, and in the words of the Sultan, “The only thing that could end the conflict is an intervention.

Nile Bowie is an independent political analyst and photographer based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He can be reached at [email protected]

(Image: Jorge Mario Bergoglio and General Jorge Videla)

Guns and Butter

“Guns & Butter” investigates the relationships among capitalism, militarism and politics. Maintaining a radical perspective in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, “Guns & Butter: The Economics of Politics” reports on who wins and who loses when the economic resources of civil society are diverted toward global corporatization, war, and the furtherance of a national security state.

Produced and hosted by Bonnie Faulkner.

E-mail Bonnie at [email protected]

Live on KPFA at 01:00 PM Pacific Time: Wednesdays

“Who Is Jorge Mario Bergoglio,  Pope Francis I?” with Michel Chossudovsky

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“Who Is Pope Francis I?” with Michel Chossudovsky.

The selection of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio to the papacy;

the historical coup d’etat in Argentina of 1976 with the instatement of the structural adjustment program;

Bergoglio’s complicity with the military dictatorship;

Argentina’s dirty war;

the present day trial in Buenos Aires which will bring to light Operation Condor;

the broad geopolitical implications of the papal appointment;

and Michel Chossudovsky’s personal experiences in both Argentina and Chile during both coups.

Guns and Butter, for March 20, 2013 – 1:00pm

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also broadcast on Pacifica WBAI New York

 The Vatican conclave has elected Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis I

In 1973, he had been appointed “Provincial” of Argentina for the Society of Jesus.

In this capacity, Bergoglio was the highest ranking Jesuit in Argentina during the military dictatorship led by General Jorge Videla (1976-1983).

He later became bishop and archbishop of Buenos Aires. Pope John Paul II elevated him to the title of cardinal in 2001

When the military junta relinquished power in 1983, the duly elected president Raúl Alfonsín set up a Truth Commission pertaining to the crimes underlying the “Dirty War” (La Guerra Sucia).

In 2005, human rights lawyer Myriam Bregman filed a criminal suit against Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, accusing him of conspiring with the military junta in the 1976 kidnapping of two Jesuit priests.

Several years later, the survivors of the “Dirty War” openly accused Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of complicity in the kidnapping of  priests Francisco Jalics y Orlando Yorio as well six members of their parish… Read More. Complete text of Michel Chossudovsky’s article:

bergolio

 

Wall Street was firmly behind the military Junta which waged “The Dirty War” on its behalf. In turn, the Catholic Church hierarchy played a central role in sustaining the legitimacy of the military Junta.

 

 

 

Towards the Globalization of CIA Torture and Rendition

March 20th, 2013 by World Socialist Web Site

by Jeff Lincoln

A report released in early February by the Open Society Justice Initiative titled “Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition” establishes that the Central Intelligence Agency, acting under the direction of the highest levels of the US government, has utilized a global network of secret prisons, foreign intelligence agents, and interrogation and torture centers to send detainees to without any legal protections.

This arrangement is worldwide and includes the involvement of at least 54 different countries touching almost every continent.

There is enormous diversity among the countries involved. They include Middle Eastern countries such as Egypt, Pakistan, Syria and Jordan, which carried out the torture on suspects that the CIA rendered to them. Poland, Lithuania, Romania and Thailand hosted secret prisons operated by the CIA where detainees could be held clandestinely and have interrogations or torture conducted directly by American intelligence operatives.

European nations such as Macedonia, Georgia, and Sweden detained and delivered suspects to the CIA to be tortured. Larger countries such as Britain or Germany conducted some of the interrogations themselves while smaller countries such as Iceland, Denmark, Belgium, or Greece provided intelligence, logistical support, use of airspace, etc.

On the whole, the report stands as an indictment against all of Washington’s allies and client states in its self-proclaimed “war on terror.”

The Australian government stands implicated in the rendition of Mamdouh Habib, an Australian national, to Egypt where he was tortured and then later transferred to Guantanamo Bay where he was detained until he was released without charge in 2005.

Egypt stands as the country that has interrogated, tortured and abused the most people subject to extraordinary rendition. The relationship between the US and Egypt dates back to the Clinton administration that used the country almost exclusively for its rendition program, which was dramatically ramped up after September 11, 2001.

Italy’s secret services played a role in the abduction of Abu Omar, an Egyptian cleric who was previously given asylum in Italy but was abducted in Milan in 2003; he was then placed on a flight to Egypt. Italian authorities authorized some 46 stopovers by CIA operated aircraft at Italian airports.

The United Kingdom, the country that enjoys the closest relationship with US imperialism, has extensive involvement with America’s rendition program. In addition to providing airspace, MI6 and other British intelligence worked hand in glove with the CIA to abduct and interrogate suspects. Omar Deghayes, a Libyan national but a British resident was arrested in 2002 and transported by US and British intelligence agents to Bagram, where he was subjected to abuse. After interrogation by MI5 agents, he was sent to Guantanamo where he underwent further physical abuse, suffering a broken finger, a broken nose, and damage to his right eye.

In 2004, the British government arranged to have a former member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, Sami al-Saadi, rendered into Libyan custody by approaching him in China and convincing him to fly to the British embassy in Hong Kong where he would be allowed to return to the UK. Instead, his whole family was taken into custody in Hong Kong and flown over to Libya where Mr. al-Saadi remained for six years and was subjected to torture by physical beatings and electric shocks.

While the report sheds some light on what countries are involved, the numbers of individuals subjected to rendition remains unknown. By 2005, it is estimated that about 150 persons were rendered to foreign countries according to admissions made by then-president George W. Bush. The real number is likely much higher, as Egypt alone has had to acknowledge that it received sixty to seventy terror suspects since September 11, 2001. Human Rights Watch has attempted to compile a list of persons who have been held in CIA prisons, and they have identified almost forty people who have either gone missing or whose whereabouts are unknown.

There are dozens more countries detailed in the report than just the ones mentioned above. Still, the report is extremely limited in scope in that it does not document transfers or detentions by any agency other than the CIA. It does not include the detention practices of the Defense Department, for example, and its notorious facilities in Guantanamo Bay or Afghanistan. Moreover, what is known is only based on the experiences of 139 individuals who have been released from custody. Nevertheless, it is now clear that the US government has been running a detention and “enhanced interrogation” operation with tentacles that span the globe.

It appears likely that the United States intentionally sought out the widespread involvement of so many countries to ensure that those who might later nominally reject these practices would themselves be so implicated that they would be unwilling to publicly expose the details of Washington’s dirty deeds.

Indeed, none of the countries mentioned in the report, save one, has even admitted any culpability for their participation in gross human rights violations. The lone exception is Canada, which assisted in the rendition of Canadian citizen Maher Arar in 2002 to Syria where he was tortured. A hastily conducted commission placed blame on the Royal Mounted Police but absolved those higher up in government of any responsibility. Other nations, such as Britain, Sweden and Australia have quietly settled lawsuits alleging their participation but have made no admission of liability.

As a matter of fact, far from acknowledging their complicity in abduction, rendition, and torture, many of the countries in the report were publicly denouncing these practices by the US government at the same time they were secretly abetting them.

A number of liberal and human rights organizations have reacted to the revelations in the Open Society Justice Initiative report by calling for and supporting the efforts of international tribunals to hear cases brought against officials of some of the countries complicit in assisting in the rendition of persons by the US Government.

While there are some actions pending in the European Court of Human Rights and other high courts against some of the countries named in the report for their role in assisting in rendition, the cases will have no impact on the operations of the CIA.

Setting aside the obvious fact that cases can only be brought by individuals whom the CIA has already decided to release, the outcome of these actions hinge on the narrow issue of the extent to which the participating countries knew or should have known torture was likely to occur. This glosses over the more fundamental issue that, unlike extradition, extraordinary rendition is, by definition, a transfer without legal process. In fact, the whole CIA program is designed to place detainee interrogations completely beyond the reach of law. Moreover, the US government has refused to recognize the jurisdiction of international courts of human rights.

President Barack Obama for his part, despite making claims of reversing the Bush-era CIA policies, has further escalated the crimes committed by his predecessor.

In January 2009, Obama issued a series of executive orders that purported to close down then existing CIA detention facilities and also created a task force to examine rendition practices and make recommendations to ensure humane treatment. These orders were nothing more than a sham to conceal the fact that, rather than restricting the ability of the CIA to conduct extraordinary renditions, the orders were purposely crafted to preserve it.

While Obama has ordered the CIA to shut down certain detention facilities, the directive specifically exempts facilities designed to hold people on a temporary or transitory basis. In other words, the executive order essentially codifies the CIA’s authority to detain suspects and then to render them to other countries to face interrogation, trial, or worse. Furthermore, if the CIA wanted the detainees to remain in the custody of the United States, they could be sent to a facility operated by the Department of Defense or kept offshore on a Navy vessel.

The task force created by Obama’s order functions merely as a fig leaf for the continuation of Bush-era policies. The report, which was completed in 2009, has not been made public and is not binding on any agency. However, as an example of its toothlessness, a Justice Department press release disclosed that one of the recommended safeguards was relying on assurances from the receiving country that the detainees would be treated humanely.

The Justice Department under Obama appointee Eric Holder has closed inquiries into the treatment of over 100 detainees who were in CIA custody overseas, including several who died while in custody, stating that no criminal charges would be pursued.

US, NATO Prepare Syria Intervention

March 20th, 2013 by Bill Van Auken

The top US commander in Europe told a Senate hearing Tuesday that the US military and NATO are drawing up plans for direct military intervention in Syria.

Adm. James Stavridis, head of the Pentagon’s European Command, speaking at a hearing by the Senate Armed Service Committee, said that the US military is “looking at a variety of options” and is “prepared if called upon to be engaged.”

Declaring that there was “no end in sight to a vicious civil war,” Stavridis told the panel that “the option of assisting the opposition forces in Syria in ways that would break the deadlock are being actively explored by NATO members,” the Washington Post reported.

The admiral added that US and NATO discussions have included providing “lethal support” to the anti-government militias and using direct military force to impose “no-fly zones” in Syria and enforce “arms embargoes” against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Asked by committee chairman Senator Carl Levin (Democrat, Michigan) whether the discussions included “going after Syria’s air defenses,” Stavridis answered “Yes,” to which Levin replied, “Good.”

The exchange on Capitol Hill mirrored other developments signaling an escalation of the intervention by the Western powers, utilizing a bitter sectarian civil war to bring about regime change in Syria.

Both Britain and France have called for an emergency meeting of European Union foreign ministers this week on their demand for lifting an EU arms embargo that bars members states from directly shipping weapons to the Western-backed “rebels.”

Both Prime Minister David Cameron in London and President François Hollande in Paris have indicated that they are prepared to act unilaterally if the EU fails to bow to their demand. Germany, while carrying out its own intervention in Syria, has voiced opposition to the lifting of the ban, warning that it will escalate the bloodshed, risk arming Al Qaeda-linked forces, and potentially spread violence throughout the region.

Washington, meanwhile, has signaled its support for British and French moves to directly arm the anti-Assad forces. On Monday, US Secretary of State John Kerry declared that “the United States does not stand in the way of other countries that made a decision to provide arms, whether it’s France or Britain or others.”

In reality, the Obama administration has been intimately involved in the operations to ship arms to the Syrian anti-regime militias, setting up a CIA station near the Syrian-Turkish border to coordinate arms and aid pouring in from Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Earlier this month, Washington announced that it was providing its own “non-lethal” aid to these forces, including military rations, medical kits and other gear. At the same time, it has been widely reported that US special operations troops are training anti-Assad militiamen in Jordan. The Syrian government reported this week that a force of some 300 such US-trained fighters had crossed the Jordanian border into Syria.

The bulk of the fighting against Syrian government forces, however, is being carried out by Islamist militias, the most prominent among them Jabhat al-Nusra, an Al Qaeda affiliate that Washington has formally designated as a foreign terrorist organization.

The Syrian government reported that on Tuesday morning Western-backed insurgents fired a rocket carrying a chemical weapon into the village of Khan al-Asal near the northern city of Aleppo, killing 25 people and wounding 110. The Syrian foreign ministry issued a statement calling the attack a “dangerous escalation,” recalling its earlier warnings that such weapons could be provided to the anti-regime forces with the aim of blaming their use on the Syrian government and providing a pretext for Western intervention.

US President Barack Obama has issued repeated statements calling the use of chemical weapons or the threat that they would fall into the hands of terrorists a “red line” that could prompt direct US intervention in Syria.

Spokesmen for anti-Assad opposition forces blamed the attack on Syrian military. However, there is no question that the rocket was fired into an area controlled by the government, landing near a Syrian army installation. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is aligned with the opposition, put the number of dead at 26, claiming that 16 of them were soldiers. Those injured in the attack were taken to government hospitals in Aleppo suffering from respiratory problems.

A Reuters photographer on the scene reported that people “were suffocating in the streets and the air smelt strongly of chlorine.”

The Obama administration brushed aside the incident, with the White House saying it had “no evidence” that any attack had taken place. A State Department spokeswoman dismissed it as nothing more than “the regime’s continued attempts to discredit the legitimate opposition and distract from its own atrocities committed against the Syrian people.”

In other words, atrocities carried out by Western-backed forces in Syria will be ignored.

Referring to Tuesday’s attack, Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi described it as “the first act by the government announced in Istanbul.”

He was referring to the meeting convened Monday by the Syrian National Coalition, a Muslim Brotherhood-dominated front cobbled together last November under the direction of the US State Department. The gathering, consisting of a total of 63 people, chose Ghassan Hitto, a naturalized American citizen and IT business executive from Texas who left Syria more than 30 years ago, as “prime minister” of what the front is calling an “interim government.”

Hitto follows in the footsteps of Abdurraheem el-Keib, installed as Libya’s prime minister following the US-NATO war for regime change in that country. Like Hitto, Keib was also a US citizen with close ties to the oil industry, who had been out of Libya for 35 years.

Whether this self-proclaimed government will have any standing whatsoever inside Syria is a matter of considerable doubt. The various Islamist militias that have seized control of territory have shown little inclination to bow to the exiles of the Syrian National Coalition. It can, however, act as a cat’s-paw for Western intervention, serving to block any negotiated end to the civil war and potentially obtaining direct military and financial support for its installation on Syrian soil.

Nothing could more graphically expose the real nature of the so-called “Syrian revolution,” whose leadership is being shaped directly by the US State Department.

It also lays bare the reactionary role played by a coterie of pseudo-left groups ranging from the New Anti-Capitalist Party in France to the Socialist Workers Party in Britain, the Left Party in Germany and the International Socialist Organization in the United States. All of them have sought to cast these sordid maneuvers and the bloody sectarian war for regime change as a social revolution, in which imperialist intervention can serve to further human rights and social progress.

Bill Would Strip Courts of Power…  And Push Genetically Modified Foods Onto Our Plates

America has been decimated by the breakdown of the separation of powers between different branches of government.  For example, the executive branch is negotiating laws in secret – and grabbing powers – without telling Congress.

And life-and-death decisions about who the government labels an “enemy combatant” and assassinates are being kept away from the judges altogether.

At the same time, government agencies like the FDA go to great lengths to cover up the potential health damage from genetically modified foods, and to keep the consumer in the dark about what they’re really eating.  Remember, genetically engineered foods have been linked to obesity, cancer, liver failure, infertility and all sorts of other diseases (brief, must-watch videos here and here).

Things are about to get a lot worse within the next week … unless we stand up and say “NO!”

Specifically, a law has been snuck into the Agriculture Appropriations bill – which will be approved by March 27th – which would destroy the separation of powers by stripping courts of the power to challenge genetically modified foods.

 Do We Have a Right to Know If Our Food Has Been Genetically Modified?

Painting by Anthony Freda: www.AnthonyFreda.com.

 How?

The “Monsanto Rider” (section 735) uses “farmer-friendly” happy talk, but is an iron-fisted ploy to allow GMO crops to be planted even if a court has ruled that planting them is illegal.

If the United States Department of Agriculture – which suffered “regulatory capture” by the big food companies decades ago – approves a genetically modified food without any testing, a court can enjoin (i.e. halt) production of that food until testing occurs.

Yet the Monsanto Rider would strip the courts of power, and would allow GMO crops to be planted and put in our food … no matter what a judge has ruled.

As the Weston Price Foundation notes:

If a GMO crop approval was shown to violate the law and require further analysis of its harmful impacts (as several courts have concluded in recent years, for example with GMO alfalfa and GMO sugar beets) this provision would override any court-mandated caution and allow continued planting and commercialization while further review takes place.

Luckily, Senator Tester has introduced an amendment to kill the Monsanto Rider.  Tester’s amendment – Amendment 74 – is backed by Senators Boxer, Gillibrand, and Leahy.

Amendment 74 will help to keep genetically engineered foods out of your rood… and help to preserve the Constitutional principal of separation of powers.

It is urgent that you call both of your senators today… and tell the to vote for Senator Tester’s Amendment 74 to the Agriculture Appropriations bill.

Seeds of Destruction

“American Education”: Teach the Children War

March 20th, 2013 by David Swanson

The National Museum of American History, and a billionaire who has funded a new exhibit there, would like you to know that we’re going to need more wars if we want to have freedom.  Never mind that we seem to lose so many freedoms whenever we have wars.  Never mind that so many nations have created more freedoms than we enjoy and done so without wars.  In our case, war is the price of freedom.  Hence the new exhibit: “The Price of Freedom: Americans at War.

The exhibit opens with these words: “Americans have gone to war to win their independence, expand their national boundaries, define their freedoms, and defend their interests around the globe.”  Those foolish, foolish Canadians: why, oh, why did they win their independence without a war?  Think of all the people they might have killed!  The exhibit is surprisingly, if minimally, honest about imperialism, at least in the early wars.  The aim of conquering Canada is included, along with bogus excuses, as one of the motivations for the War of 1812.

The most outrageous part of the opening lines of the exhibition, however, may be the second half: “. . . define their freedoms, and defend their interests around the globe.”  The exhibition, to the extent that I’ve surveyed it online, provides absolutely no indication of what in the world can be meant by a war being launched in order to “define our freedoms.”  And, needless to say, it is the U.S. government, not “Americans,” that imagines it has “interests around the globe” that can and should be “defended” by launching wars.

The exhibit is an extravaganza of lies and deceptions.  The U.S. Civil War is presented as “America’s bloodiest conflict.”  Really?  Because Filipinos don’t bleed?  Vietnamese don’t bleed?  Iraqis don’t bleed?  We should not imagine that our children don’t learn exactly that lesson.  The Spanish American War is presented as an effort to “free Cuba,” and so forth.  But overwhelmingly the lying is done in this exhibit by omission.  Bad past excuses for wars are ignored, the death and destruction is ignored or falsely reduced.  Wars that are too recent for many of us to swallow too much B.S. about are quickly passed over.

The exhibit helpfully provides a teacher’s manual (PDF), and its entire coverage of the past 12 years of warmaking (which has involved the killing of some 1.4 million people in Iraq alone) consists of the events of 9/11/2001, beginning with this:

“September 11 was a modern-day tragedy of immense proportions. The devastating attacks by al Qaeda terrorists inside the United States killed some 3,000 people and sparked an American-led war on terrorism. The repercussions of that day will impact domestic and international political decisions for many years to come.  At 8:46 a.m. on September 11, 2001, a passenger jet flew into the north tower of the World Trade Center in New York. Fire and rescue crews rushed to the scene. As live TV coverage began, horrified viewers watched as a second plane slammed into the south tower at 9:03 a.m. Thirty-five minutes later a third airliner crashed into the Pentagon.  Another jet bound for Washington, D.C., crashed in Pennsylvania after its passengers challenged the hijackers. The nation reeled. But Americans resolved to fight back, inspired by the words of a passenger who helped foil the last attack: ‘Are you guys ready? Let’s roll.’”

If you talk to non-sociopathic teachers, you discover that the sort of “teaching” engaged in by our museums has a horrible impact on students’ understanding.

A new book called Teaching About the Wars is a great place to start.  It’s written by teachers who try to present their students with a more complete and honest understanding of war than what’s expected by common text books, many of which are far worse than the museum exhibit described above.  These teachers / authors argue that when a teacher pretends to have no point of view, he or she teaches their students moral apathy.  Pretending not to care about the world teaches children not to care about the world.  Teachers should have a point of view but teach more than one, teach critical thinking and analysis, teach skepticism, and teach respect for the opinions of others.

Students should not be taught, these teachers suggest, to reject all public claims as falsehoods and the truth as absolutely unknowable.  Rather, they should be taught to critically evaluate claims and develop informed opinions.  Jessica Klonsky writes:

“One of the most successful media-related lessons involved an exercise comparing two media viewpoints.  First I showed the first 20 minutes of Control Room, a documentary about Al Jazeera, the international Arabic-language television network headquartered in Doha, Qatar.  Students were shocked by the dead bodies and destruction shown on Al Jazeera.  For many it was the first time they realized that it wasn’t just soldiers who died in war.”

U.S. soldiers were 0.3% of the dead in the 2003-2011 war on Iraq.  These students had been unaware of the other 99.7% of the dead.  Learning what war really looks like is perhaps the most important lesson missing from our usual education system.

Another important lesson is who engages in war and why.  Bill Bigelow presents a model lesson through which teachers can present students with true situations, but with the names of the nations changed.  They can discuss what the nations ought to have done, before learning that one of the nations was their own, and before learning what it actually did.  Then they can discuss that reality.  Bigelow also begins his teaching about the “war on terrorism” by asking students to work on defining “terrorism” (and not by attacking each other, which is presumably how the National Museum of American History would recommend “defining” such a term).

One teacher ends such a lesson by asking “What difference do you think it would make if students all over the country were having the discussion we’re having today?”  Clearly, that question moves students toward becoming potential teachers wanting to share their knowledge to a far greater extent than, say, teaching them the dates of battles and suggesting they try to impress others with their memorization.

Can good teaching compete with the Lockheed Martin-sponsored Air and Space Museum, the U.S. Army’s video games, Argo, Zero Dark 30, the slick lies of the recruiters, the Vietnam Commemoration Project, the flag waving of the television networks, the fascistic pledges of allegiance every morning, and the lack of good alternative life prospects?  Sometime, yes.  And more often the more it spreads and the better it is done.

One chapter in Teaching About the Wars describes a project that connects students in the United States with students in Western Asia via live video discussions.  That experience should be required in any young person’s education.  I guarantee you that our government employs drone “pilots” to connect with foreign countries via live video in a more destructive manner who never spoke with foreign children when they were growing up.

David Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie and When the World Outlawed War.

David Swanson’s books include “War Is A Lie.” He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

It is sad that well-known peace campaigners should drop below the radar, not just of the politicians who hate them, but of the so-called peace campaigners who idolised them when they were still there.  One such man, who dedicated the last 10 years of his life to confronting the UK Parliament with their outrageous decision to invade Iraq, was Brian Haw.

As a committed Christian and a father, and angered by the sanctions the West had imposed on Iraq that resulted in the tragic and avoidable deaths of too many Iraqi children, Brian left his home and arrived in London.  More particularly, he arrived in Parliament Square, where he camped at the side of the road facing the Houses of Parliament.  Always, for those of us who continued to protest about the invasion of Iraq and the awful damage our actions were doing to that nation, Brian was a figurehead, an inspiration.  Few of us could claim his courage, his determination and his perseverance.

For nearly ten years he stayed – night after night of sleeping on the pavement, in all weathers and with little protection.  Nothing the police or Parliament did could break him and make him move.  Brian’s protest caused them no end of problems as he and his anti-war placards and banners were a constant reminder of all the lies that were told in the run up to the attack on Iraq in 2003 and continued to be told to justify the invasion.  Members of Parliament had to pass his huge collection of displays and peace messages every time they went in and out of the Parliament.

In their haste to be rid of this ‘turbulent priest’ of a campaigner, who harangued MPs daily with his megaphone as they went into the august halls of Westminster, reminding them of their ghastly error in backing up Tony Blair and his eagerness to invade Iraq, the then Home Secretary David Blunkett introduced the bill SOCPA (Serious Organized Crime and Police Act 2005) which was aimed at removing Brian by banning protests within 1 km (about half a mile) of Parliament without police permission.  This came into effect on 1 August 2005.  But where else should we protest for peace if not outside the place that had rubber-stamped Blair’s desire to illegally attack Iraq?

Comedian Mark Thomas headed an action to keep protest going within the legal 1 km. He wanted to demonstrate how very ludicrous this ban was.  To quote Mark: “The point is simply that if one person with a banner can be deemed to be a protester by the police and they need to get a licence six days in advance to enter the designated zone, then we have reached a state of absurdity.” And it is true if hardly believable that one woman in Parliament Square was threatened with arrest for having an iced cake with ‘Peace’ written on it.  On certain days individual protestors, who had each registered their very individual protests with the police (including, for instance, the right to jump off Westminster Bridge) held their protests within the designated zone.  It made the new law look very stupid indeed.

But so hasty had Parliament’s action been in creating this law that when it was challenged, they discovered that the one person they had failed to ban was Haw himself!  So he stayed – and stayed.  For some time he was alone, although visited (and supported) by many well-wishers.  He became a tourist attraction.  MPs complained that they could not properly debate in the chamber because of the noise of his megaphone protest in the Square outside – presumably the constant traffic noise complete with police and ambulance sirens is conducive to a good debate!

In May 2006 his much-photographed display of placards and banners was reduced from 40 metres to just 3 metres by a night raid of some 78 police (which cost a staggering £27,000).  Not so oddly, this happened within hours of artist Mark Wallinger showing two curators from the Tate Gallery Brian’s display and announcing he wanted to recreate it for an exhibition.  Never the less, Mark had his way and the exhibition, State Britain, ran at the Tate from January to August 2007.

Brian continued to protest with his truncated display despite numerous arrests and assaults.  He was on crutches for his last years in the Square – the result of the not-so-gentle arrest techniques of the famed London Bobby.  He died of cancer in June 2011 and the world is a poorer place.

Brian was joined in December 2005 by Melbourne-born Barbara Tucker.  While Brian had some legal authority to stay there, Barbara didn’t, which has meant that she has been arrested an astonishing 47 times while in the square, usually on a charge of `unauthorized demonstration`.  When Brian died she nobly carried on.  She has served two short spells in Holloway prison as well as suffering constant harassment from police, heritage wardens and passing rowdies.

Until January 2012 she had a tent but that was confiscated under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act (PRSA).  After that she sat in a chair on the pavement trying to sleep under a large green umbrella wrapped up in multiple layers of clothing.  She has slept in the open for over a year now without a tent and has been treated for exposure.  In the hope of getting her confiscated tent back, Barbara took the decision to go on hunger strike, starting on December 27th 2012.

While Brian managed to achieve some media recognition for his stance, Barbara has had little to none.  The latest reference I can find to her hunger strike dates from January 10th.  She and her colleague Neil Kerslake are no longer in the Square and have not been seen for some weeks – disappeared, tidied away perhaps, so as to make the 10th anniversary of the invasion a little less contentious.

One day maybe, when the world stops fighting needless, illegal and cruel wars, people will finally give these dedicated campaigners they recognition they deserve.  I’d like to see a statue of Brian in Parliament Square, confronting Westminster and challenging its dishonesty and hypocrisy as he did for so many cold hard years.  Until then, those of us who still call ourselves peace campaigners should at least make the effort to remember how much he once meant to us all.  Parliament may not like dissenters – I for one do.

Lesley Docksey (with additional information from Paul O’Hanlan)

Mali and the Second Scramble for Africa

March 20th, 2013 by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Obama is Still Shopping for a “Grand Bargain”

March 20th, 2013 by Shamus Cooke

President Obama’s recent closed-door sessions with Republican congressmen to reach a “grand bargain” has roused suspiciously little attention in the mainstream media. What scant reporting has occurred presents the following narrative: President Obama is a “middle ground” politician attempting to breach political divides with erstwhile Republican opponents. In reality these meetings are not between political opposites, but kindred spirits; perfectly matched ideologies that differ only in implementation, and only by degrees.

Here’s a summary of the meetings by the Conservative Economist magazine:
“On March 6th he [Obama] took 12 Republican senators out to dinner at a posh hotel in Washington… The [Republican] guests noted with surprise and delight that he [Obama] listened more than he talked…The next day Mr. Obama invited [Republican] Paul Ryan to lunch at the White House…This week he is paying three visits to Congress on three consecutive days, to make his pitch for a grand bargain to each party’s caucus in both chambers.”
The article fails to remind us what the definition of a “Grand Bargain” is, nor its political/historical significance. Essentially the Grand Bargain is a bi-partisan plan that does two things: 1) reduces the national deficit by cutting so-called “entitlement programs” (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education, etc.) and 2) raises revenue via taxation (not necessarily from the wealthy and corporations).

Does this make Obama a treacherous renegade of the Democratic Party? Not quite.

Many Democrats are leading the attack on popular “entitlement” programs erected under Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal (Social Security) and enhanced by Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society programs (Medicare). These are the bedrock social programs of the modern Democratic Party. But even bedrock turns into quicksand over time. The Democrats of today have been radically transformed, thanks to a monsoon of corporate cash that has eroded the parties affiliation to its past.

The corporate Democrats in the Senate have been so complicit in the Grand Bargaining that the pro-Democrat New York Times recently congratulated them for putting forth their own proposed budget, in an attempt to separate them from the political fallout that would come if a Grand Bargain actually came to fruition. The New York Times reports: 

“It’s been four years since the Democrats who control the Senate produced a budget. That has meant four missed opportunities to demonstrate what they stand for, in hard numbers and clear spending priorities. On Wednesday, the chamber’s leaders stiffened their spines and issued a 2014 budget.”

In reality it’s not about stiff spines but saved faces. This Grand Bargain conversation has been happening in the media since Obama was elected in 2008, and only now, when the chapter’s final paragraph is being written, do Senate Democrats put forward an alternative ending they know won’t pass.

But what about the progressive caucus Democrats in the House of Representatives? They too are complicit in the crimes of the corporate Blue Dog Democrats. For example, you would be hard pressed to find even the most progressive Democrat publicly denounce Obama’s scheming to cut Social Security and Medicare; instead, these progressive Democrats spend their time pointing out the obvious — that Republicans would like to cut these popular programs.

This type of distraction provides vital political cover for Obama to continue his right wing policies. The progressive caucus thus minimizes or ignores the sins of its leadership, guaranteeing that the rightward drift of the Democrats will continue.

It’s true that the progressive caucus released a progressive budget as an alternative to the Republican’s — and Obama’s — budget. But this budget has no chance of being passed, and progressive caucus Democrats have no intention of building a movement that might give life to such a budget, since it would make their leadership look bad and divide their party.

At the end of the day the progressive Democrats will fall in line with the Democratic leadership, as they typically do. If Obama needs the votes, the progressives will cough them up. One of the first “progressive” Democrats to jump on the Grand Bargain bandwagon is Congressmen Sheldon Whitehouse, who, in speaking about the President’s Grand Bargain hunting said:

“We will have your [Obama's] back, you will have ours, together we will give President Obama all the support he needs during these [Grand Bargain] negotiations.”

This progressive caucus complicity was also noted recently by Norman Solomon, (a longtime associate of the media watch group Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting) who noticed that curiously little progressive caucus members had signed onto a letter that pledged to vote against any budget that included cuts to Social Security and Medicare. The political winds have shifted to the right, and the progressives would like to stay Democrats, which now means supporting cuts to Social Security and Medicare.

This wouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who had read the recent article by John Stauber, who traced the origins of the “Progressive Movement,” which was set up by the rich Democrats who lead the party, as a way to counteract the Republicans media savvy. The point of the Progressive Movement and progressive Democrats is not to change society, but to beat Republicans in elections by creating the appearance of a groundswell of support for Democratic Party policies.

At the end of the day a so-called progressive Democrat is still a Democrat, and the Democratic Party has re-made its image to reflect the interests of its new big donors from Wall Street, who now feel as comfortable buying Democrats as they do purchasing a Republican politician.

Both Republicans and Democrats know that a Grand Bargain comes with gigantic political risks, most notably political suicide, since the party that cuts Social Security and Medicare will earn the hatred of 99% of Americans. Their ingenious answer is to blame each other. The progressive Democrats and Tea Party Republicans who stand on the sidelines during this fiasco — without taking any real action to stop it — stand to benefit from the outcome, and will loudly denounce the treachery post-treachery, their own names remaining unbesmirched.

But the majority of people in the U.S. will see through such blatant opportunism, and will trust neither party again. The far right will thus rush to organize a new political party, while the labor and community groups supporting the Democrats will either do the same or continue hitching their fortunes to a flagship sinking to the bottom of the ocean.

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker, trade unionist, and writer for Workers Action (www.workerscompass.org).  He can be reached at [email protected]

Notes

http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21573566-no-movie-nights-yet-lets-do-dinner

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/16/opinion/senate-democrats-finally-take-a-stand.html?hp&_r=0  

The Globalization of Drone Warfare

March 20th, 2013 by Chris Cole

It wasn’t that long ago that an article about the use of drones in the mainstream press was a rare occurrence. 

Now so  much is happening that it is difficult to keep up with all the news about drones. 

Over the past two weeks important developments have taken place on a number of fronts so we thought a general news round-up would be helpful.

Pakistan and Yemen

UN special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism, Ben Emmerson, visited Pakistan last week as part of the UN investigation into the impact of drone strikes and targeted killing on civilians.  Emmerson spoke with senior Government officials, drone strike victims and FATA tribal leaders.  After the visit he issued a statement addressing several important issues including whether Pakistan tacitly consents to US strikes:

Officials stated that reports of continuing tacit consent by Pakistan to the use of drones on its territory by any other State are false, and confirmed that a thorough search of Government records had revealed no indication of such consent having been given. Officials also pointed to public statements by Pakistan at the United Nations emphasizing this position and calling for an immediate end to the use of drones by any other State on the territory of Pakistan.

On the issues of civilian casualty figures the statement said:

The Special Rapporteur was informed that according to statistics compiled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there have been at least 330 drone strikes on the territory of Pakistan since 2004. Records showed that the total number of deaths caused by drone strikes was at least 2,200 that in addition at least 600 people had suffered serious injuries….   [T]he Special Rapporteur was informed that the Government has been able to confirm that at least 400 civilians had been killed as a result of drone strikes, and that a further 200 individuals were regarded as probable non-combatants. Officials indicated that due to under-reporting and obstacles to effective investigation on the ground these figures were likely to be under-estimates of the number of civilian deaths….

On the impact of drone strikes in Waziristan:

In discussions with the delegation of tribal Maliks from North Waziristan the Special Rapporteur was informed that drone strikes routinely inflicted civilian casualties, and that groups of adult males carrying out ordinary daily tasks were frequently the victims of such strikes. They emphasized that to an outsider unfamiliar with Pashtun tribal customs there was a very real risk of misidentification of targets since all Pashtun tribesmen tended to have similar appearance to members of the Pakistan Taliban, including similar (and often indistinguishable) tribal clothing, and since it had long been a tradition among the Pashtun tribes that all adult males would carry a gun at all times. They considered that civilian casualties were a commonplace occurrence and that the threat of such strikes instilled fear in the entire community. They emphasized that drone attacks had fractured their existing tribal structures, and destroyed their way of life. They also pointed out that their local tribal law, the Pashtunwali, prescribed revenge for the loss of a life and that this entrenched tribal tradition had given rise to a desire, particularly among young men, to seek revenge for the drone strikes, thus radicalizing a new generation.

The US issued a muted response saying it had a “solid working relationship” with Pakistan and would respond in more detail l when it had seen the full report.

Regular readers will know that the US has a similar “good working relationship” with Yemen.   On 7 March, while US officials took part in the hi-level ‘Friends of Yemen’ meeting in central London, Dr Peter Schaapveld, an expert in psychological trauma assessment was presenting his findings  on the psychological impact of drones strikes at the House of Commons.  Dr Schaapveld had visited Yemen on behalf of the human rights organisation Reprieve and said that of the 28 victims he interviewed, approximately 99% had some type of traumatic disorder. He said the constant presence of drones means that residents are consistently re-traumatized and recovery was very difficult However, Dr Schaapveld said the most disturbing finding from the psychological clinics was the impact on children.  He said the appearance of the children was of “hollowed-out shells of children” who looked “sullen” and had “lost their spark”. He gave the example of eight-year-old Yasmin (not her real name), who was next door to a house targeted in a presumed drone strike. “Her father said that she vomits every day, and also when she hears aircraft, or drones, or anything related,” said Dr Schaapveld. “She said, in her own words, ‘I am scared of those things because they throw missiles.’” A mile awhile from where Dr  was presenting his awful findings, at the Friends of Yemen meeting, US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns was telling his fellow diplomats   (apparently with a straight face)

“While Yemenis courageously work to rebuild their country, extremists and their patrons are working hard to tear it down. The Co-Chairs called on all parties to commit to the principle of non-interference and the unity, sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity of Yemen.  This is an effort we endorse in the strongest terms.”

transform

After an awful long silence (as others have noted), there is the first signs of the beginning of EU opposition to the US use of drones for targeted killing.  Three MEPs hosted a well-attended meeting on the issue where MEPs and researchers were briefed by  the ACLU and Ben Emmerson. It was announced that two European Parliament  subcommittees would be holding a hearing next month to further investigate the US program.  As well as investigating the US use of drones, the EU should also be looking at the way it subsidies Israeli drone manufacture, as detailed in an excellent report by Ben Hayes.

Challenging Drone Secrecy

The ACLU also had something of a victory in its on-going work to uncover details of US use of drones this week with an appeal court overturning a previous decision and insisting the CIA must give a fuller response to the ACLU’s FoI request on their use of drones. This doesn’t mean, however, that any information will be immediately forthcoming as secrecy still surrounds the use of drones.  In fact after just a short period (3 months) of  openness about the monthly number of US drone strikes in Afghanistan, the US military has now refused to publish any further data and has erased the data it had previously released, from its website.  As the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports, the data was showing “the increasingly important role played by drones in airstrikes by the US and its allies in Afghanistan” with one in four airstrikes now being carried out by drones.

This week Drone Wars UK received revised figures from the UK MoD on number of UK drone strikes in Afghanistan following a recent FoI request.  The figures  show that British drones have undertaken 363 drone strikes in Afghanistan up until 1 Jan 2013.  The data also breaks  down the weapons used between the larger GBU-12 (Paveway) bombs and the smaller Hellfire missiles.   The Paveway bomb made up 40% of the weapons used in the first three years of drone strikes but were not used at all in 2012.  Is this, we wonder because of the fear of collateral damage caused by the larger bombs?

US drones operations from UK?

A report in the Mail on Sunday last weekend revealed that the US base in Djibouti, Camp Lemonnier, has a direct data link to a  US intelligence base in OxfordshireRAF  USAF Croughton is part of a network of US intelligence bases in the UK led by Menwith Hill in Yorkshire (see Lifting the Lid on Menwith Hill)  The existence of a secure military communications link between Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti from which US drone operate over Yemen and other countries in North Africa, and the UK shows that Croughton and Menwith Hill are no doubt involved in analyzing information and video from US drone flights in that area.  It is also possible that information obtained in this way and analyzed by US personnel  in the UK could be used to direct further US drone strikes.

The Mail on Sunday piece also quoted several documents, one of which “requests US security-cleared staff to work at RAF Waddington on a USAF drone called the Predator” and another that “describes a role for a communications technician at the same base ‘supporting 24/7 operations of critical real-time USAF/ANG [Air National Guard] mission operations’”. RAF Waddington is being readied to operate British Reaper drones over Afghanistan from UK soil for the first time.  Up until now British drones have been controlled from Creech Air Force base in Nevada, alongside US drone operators. What these documents appear to show is that the staff are being recruited to work at  RAF Waddington who have US security clearance.  This does not mean that the US is operating drones out of Waddington as the article implies (and the headline states).  Rather these documents confirm that the USAF is sharing information with the RAF  and no doubt vice versa.  Hence the need for US security cleared staff at Waddington.

Chinese drones

Finally, this weekend’s revelation that the CIA is collecting intelligence on “Islamic extremists” in Syria for possible drone strikes shows that the US is planning to continue to expand its lethal drone operations around the world.

Despite this one US think-tank – the Project 2049 Institute - wants to draw the world’s attention to the threat that China’s development of drones pose  (pdf).  Perhaps unsurprisingly among the board members of Project 2049 Institute are a former US Assistant Secretary of Defense, and representatives of BAE Systems and the Heritage Foundation.

The development by China, one of the worlds military superpowers, of a whole raft of military and civil drones is deeply worrying  – particularly with regard to the issue of proliferation – as this more balanced piece on the Chinese development of drones shows.  However for a US think-tank to argue that the Chinese development of drones poses a risk to global peace and security without also addressing the US use of drones  is beyond irony.

Is there a panic on the Potomac?  The Congress has turned into a wailing wall just to hear all the moans about threatened cuts in what is patriotically known as our Defense budget.

 Never mind that many of the cuts were ordered from above because the people at the top know how much they have to slash given all the waste, planned obsolescence and other waste they can afford to trim before they cut the bone or some hostile force can bring us to our knees.

The people who experience the reality up close and personal know that the public is being defrauded on almost every level.

Listen to Sgt. 1st Class Robert Zlotow from Fort Riley, Kan. who had the guts to send this letter to Army Times.

“I nearly spit out my dinner when I read your headline “Fighting through austerity” (March 4).

Even with these “evil” and “scary” cuts factored in, the defense budget will still rise every year in the foreseeable future.  According to the Congressional Budget Office, the projected defense budget will still go from $593 billion in fiscal year 2014 to $702 billion in 2023, even if this sequester is allowed to stand.

When I hear politicians and the top brass say that training will have to be cut back and units will go without supplies, and all these other dire consequences, it begs a very simple question:

What on earth are they doing with all that money?

If troops are not getting trained and their benefits are being cut back, then where are these hundreds of billions of dollars in our budget going?

Only in the cesspool of fraud, waste and abuse that is the Defense Department can budgets like these be called “austere.”

Thank you Sargent. Your letter from the trenches at the Fort named after the Life of Riley, brings to mind another Sgt., Sergeant Bilko played by Phil Silvers whose popular TV series kept millions of Americans laughing every week for years about the absurdity of “the service.”

What was clear that Bilko and the boys were serving a machine that was kept in business by what a former General and president Dwight David Eisenhower called the military industrial complex.  He is remembered as much for his candor in that ‘farewell address” as for being the “Supreme Commander” who won World War 2.

Ike was a military insider turned critic and prophet. As Andrew Bacevic noted on the Atlantic: “Equally significant, if now nearly forgotten, was his presentation to the American Society of Newspaper Editors on April 16, 1953. In this speech, the president contemplated a world permanently perched on the brink of war—“humanity hanging from a cross of iron”— and he appealed to Americans to assess the consequences likely to ensue.”

The consequences are  “the dangers of the perpetual march to war it has put us on.”

War has always been a business first, and for the economy of these United States a very good one. Keeping the weapons factories and high tech workshops humming not only creates jobs butalsoa flow of exports that keep the USA alive. We may not be number #1 in maternal health but we are number one in arms sales,

These contracts keep the complex soaring;one report on MilitaryIndustrialComplex.com recorded a total of 22,828 publicly reported defense contracts. That number has grown dramatically over the years. And it will grow more and more because of the revolving door between the contractors and the lobbyists and the politicians. More importantly, with the Congress blocking stimulus funds that could benefit those in need, military spending is used to primes many a pump because the Pentagon operates under the umbrella of unquestioned patriotism.

Some of these contracts seemed to be sweetened under the sheets, as John Grant reported, “If Maryland is stopped in its efforts to force Montgomery County to give Lockheed Martin millions of dollars, we may never know whether that could have been done without sex.  And that’s a shame.  Yet it certainly should be reported that, according to Maryland Juice, “a lobbyist for Lockheed Martin may be dating one of the bill’s sponsors in the State Senate. Several Annapolis sources are now indicating to Maryland Juice that State Senator Rob Garagiola is currently romantically involved with lobbyist Hannah Powers of the Alexander & Cleaver firm. But Garagiola is a sponsor of the Lockheed welfare bill, and Powers is a lobbyist for Lockheed.”

Scandalous stories like that propels this turgid and often invisible world of wheeling and dealing into public view, along with an unending supply of  Stories about $15,000 toilet seats and $5000 coffee pots ordered by the Pentagon, or the graft that is built into the contacting process.

Here in South Africa where I am working on a film project, one arms deal is still being debated because of all the corruption that came to light in its wake. The South African politicians who benefited are blasted in the news but the overseas military companies who gave the bribes are kept out of sight.

Most of these contracts are filtered through a politically calculated system for spreading the money into every Congressional district. There is a method to this madness andnever a shortage of crises, or threats, real or invented, that can be used as a pretext for more spending.

This recent report LBN reportoffers a case in point:  “The Pentagon will spend $1 billion to deploy additional ballistic missile interceptors along the Pacific Coast to counter the growing reach of North Koreas weapons, a decision accelerated by Pyongyang’s recent belligerence and indications that Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, is resisting Chinas efforts to restrain him. The new deployments, announced by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Friday, will increase the number of ground-based interceptors in California and Alaska to 44 from 30 by 2017.”

On top of the alleged military threats, there’s new cyber terror threat that is opening the doors for a flood of new spending on “essential” (sic) counter-measures.

When you look at how the money is divvied up you can see how convoluted the system is.

Here’s just one contract itemized on Huffington Post. I am sure there are books of computer printouts and a whole army of accountants that processes them.

•”Vital Link Inc., Sealy, Texas, (FA8519-13-D-0001) is being awarded a $73,540,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for repair, refurbishment and relocation of the fleet of T-9, T-10/T-11 and T-12 Noise Suppression Facilities.

The locations of the performance are Dyess Air Force Base, Texas; Eglin AFB, Fla.; Ellsworth AFB, S.D.; Tinker AFB, Okla.; Hill AFB, Utah; Kadena Air Base, Japan; Kirtland AFB, N.M.; Lackland AFB, Texas; Kunsan AB, Korea; Langley AFB, Va.; Luke AFB, Ariz.; Moody AFB, Ga.; Buckley AFB, Colo.; Mountain Home AFB, Idaho; Minot AFB, N.D.; Nellis AFB, Nev.; Osan AB, Korea; McGhee-Tyson Air National Guard Bureau, Tenn.; Barksdale AFB. La.; Royal Air Force Lakenhealth, United Kingdom; Bradley Field ANGB, Conn.; McGuire AFB, N.J.; McConnell AFB, Kan.; Offutt AFB, N.E.; Robins AFB, Ga.; Scott AFB, Ill.; Whiteman AFB, Mo.;  Spangdahlem AB, Germany; Andrews AFB. Md.; Shaw AFB, S.C.; Seymour Johnson AFB, N.C.; Tyndall AFB, Fla.; Homestead AFB, Fla.; Elmendorf AFB, Alaska; Eielsen AFB, Alaska; Hickam AFB, Hawaii; Holloman AFB, N.M.; Laughlin AFB, Texas; Randolph AFB, Texas; Sheppard AFB, Texas; Vance AFB, Okla.; Columbus AFB, Miss.; Ramstein AB, Germany; Aviano AB, Italy; Springfield, Ill.; Sandston, Va.; Klamath, Ore.; St. Louis, Mo.; Columbia, S.C.; Burlington, Vt.; Belle Chasse, La.; Cape Cod, Maine; Hartford, Conn.; Westfield, Maine; Detroit, Mich.; Boise, Idaho; Springfield, Ohio; Swanton, Ohio; Sioux City, Iowa; Sioux Falls, S.D.; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Madison, Wis.; Tucson, Ariz.; Tulsa, Okla.; Fort Worth, Texas; Des Moines, Iowa; Montgomery, Ala.; Duluth, Minn.; Houston, Texas; Fresno, Calif.; Fort Smith, Ariz.; Syracuse, N.Y.; Fargo, N.D.; Terre Haute, Ind.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Pleasantville, N.J. and Great Falls, Mont.  Work is expected to be completed by March 14, 2014.

Type of appropriation is fiscal 2013 through 2014 depot purchase equipment maintenance funds.  The contracting activity is AFLCMC/WNKBBA, Robins Air Force Base, Ga.”

Very little of the reporting on the military link it to its economic function or explain its real role in our society.  The real war is the conflict over who gets what how to get the money flowing.

 News Dissector Danny Schechter edits the new Mediachannel.org. He blogs at Newsdissector.net.Comments to [email protected]. For more on the Military Industrial Complex, see Danny Schechter’s report in the

WHO RULES AMERICA documentary series: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KdEnR4DW94o

Uncertain Financial Markets: The Global Systemic Economic Crisis 2013

March 20th, 2013 by Global Europe Anticipation Bulletin (GEAB)

In the Up & Down trends published in the GEAB January issue, our team wrote the following in the Down section “Economic indicators”:

Between short-term economic indicators which describe only what occurred in the week, others which are manipulated by governments to reflect the message they want to give, and finally others which no longer have any relevance in today’s world, economic reality is at the very least very badly portrayed, even disguised, by these figures followed however by businesses, banks, and even countries. As an example, only currency exchange rate variations make it no longer possible to say if it’s Brazil or the United Kingdom which is the sixth largest world power. This statistical fog prevents dependable navigation which is paramount in these times of crisis.

Whether it be the fruit of intentional manipulation by the players in their efforts to survive or the result of the extreme volatility of the bases for calculation (such as currency values and the US dollar in particular), this trend is, in fact, confirmed.

Reliable and relevant indicators on the world economic, political and social situation are, however, essential in order to get through the crisis without mishap. But those used by governments or businesses are, at best, useless in the current period of major world restructuring and, at worst, harmful. This is why in this GEAB issue our team has decided to detail which indicators reflect the true situation and those which are window-dressing. This work also makes it possible to highlight that it’s not always the indicators themselves which are skewed, but the way in which they are interpreted or the reasons studied which make them change.

In a world where so many “phantom assets” or doubtful debts, so many opaque or worthless derivative products circulate, finance is increasingly disconnected from reality. Financial indicators (particularly stock exchange prices) must therefore be interpreted with the greatest care as we will see further. In the same fashion the weekly soap opera of “economic life” keeps us on tenterhooks, sometimes with the publication of “confidence” or “sentiment” numbers, sometimes with central bank announcements… But fundamentals don’t evolve at this pace and reality has no use for this Coué method consisting of holding onto psychological data. This short-term information has more of an effect of hiding the economy’s profound ill health than to really influence reality as they claim, in particular during this time of major crisis.

As for the true statistics, the way these numbers are calculated sometimes doesn’t reflect the true economic landscape at all: the same applies for example to the unemployment or inflation numbers, two criteria well anchored in reality however and rightly playing a significant role. But as the popular expression says, “in failing to stop the fever one broke the thermometer”. And the question is then to decipher the statistics to have a clearer view, as we will do for the United States below.

As well as the statistics describing the real economy (employment, consumption, volume of international trade, energy consumption, etc) and the virtual share of the economy (de-industrialization, debt), it’s also interesting to consider social and political reality through indicators reflecting poverty, demography, conflicts, political deadlock, etc…

Finally, certain general indicators like Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or rates of exchange should obviously be followed but whilst keeping in mind that the first can be artificially massaged by the “virtual” share of the economy (rotten bank assets for example, or central bank activity) and the second temporarily perturbed by speculation, although in the long run it still really reflects the relative state of various countries’ economies.

In short, it’s a question of keeping a critical eye on the daily statistics we are given. We will apply this precept, mainly to the United States, in the following part because the distortion is the most exaggerated there and as regards Europe it takes place in the Anglo-Saxon media each day.

It’s all the more important to find good benchmarks and eliminate the deception that we are witnessing a real paradigm shift out of the system set up by the United States or, in other words, the collapse of the world that they created. For several decades, in fact, they have held their role only because they could put themselves above rules of the world game thanks to the pre-eminence and indispensable character of their currency: the dollar. The questioning of this advantage has forced them to become just one power like another. That requires a considerable adjustment which, for example, is reflected in the abysmal trade deficit, de-industrialization or the country’s debt, with huge consequences on their ability to influence and standard of living.

The countries in the US sphere of influence, mainly the United Kingdom and Japan, totally aligned on the US economic model’s principles and which have benefited from the aftermath of their patron’s privileged situation, are also suffering. Europe, close to the US economic model, particularly since the fall of the Berlin Wall, but whose integration project is aimed at increasing independence as regards the United States, is partly involved in the maelstrom but has structural characteristics which provide it with the tools to be able to get clear. That said, in 2013, it’s not only the western powers but the whole world which will reel, including those new powers represented by the BRICS in which the bubbles caused by the use of the Fed’s easy money in the US and then the world economy are beginning to appear (1).

As regards the European situation for example, it’s far from perfect with high unemployment, lifeless or negative growth and now a political crisis which is sapping the beginnings of confidence in the Euro markets. Nevertheless, the European countries don’t have as painful an adjustment to make as the United States. In Euroland’s case, the necessary change, far from being finished, has all the same begun to a great extent. Remember that according to our team, the EU doesn’t have a future in its current form, constantly blocked by British procrastination, undermined by uncontrolled expansion mainly driven by Washington, paralysed by sclerotic Brussels institutions, and moreover suffering from a severe democratic deficit. A powerful Euroland, naturally integrated by a common currency, flexible and free of any dead weight, constitutes the new motor capable of breathing life into the dynamics needed to resolve its problems; in this sense, it’s the only future-bearer solution on the continent. As we analyze later, these dynamics which, as LEAP anticipated, allowed it to conquer the storm which beat down on it in 2011-2012 will now, as the Euro crisis becomes a political crisis, allow it to overcome the major political challenge of European integration: its democratization (a democratization without which, despite all its assets, it wouldn’t have a future).

Finally, before giving our recommendations and the GlobalEurometre, we give our analysis of the Korean geopolitical situation, the new proxy battlefield between China and the United States.

Financial markets: an indicator which should be read back to front

So fittingly, let’s start with the symbol of the US recovery, the stock exchange, which posts incredible results: the Dow Jones, the S&P 500 or the Nasdaq indices have either broken their 2008 records, or are very close (2). The one and only reason for this rise is clear and is even officially recognized (3): the stock exchanges only owe their salvation to the Fed whose liquidity injections artificially inflate the stock exchanges. So, it’s about an indicator which is massaged and certainly not reflecting the real economy, the objective being to give renewed confidence through the stock exchanges’ rise and thus revive consumption. It’s not so sure that this goal will be achieved one day whilst consumer confidence remains lower than the lows of the 1995-2007 period (not taking into account that the six month future confidence Index is even seven points lower (4)).

 

US consumer confidence Index, 1978-2013 - Source: Calculated Risk

US consumer confidence Index, 1978-2013 – Source: Calculated Risk
Nevertheless, even this “bright spell”, a priori unquestionable, must be put in perspective. Is it a record when the Dow Jones is compared to gold, in certain aspects a more credible measure than the US dollar?

Dow Jones Index versus the gold price, 2003-2013 - Source: ZeroHedge

Dow Jones Index versus the gold price, 2003-2013 – Source: ZeroHedge
Or how to be delighted by stock exchange performance when volumes are 40% to 50% weaker than before the crisis and so weak that only casino-like speculation moves prices?

 

NYSE volumes, 2004-2013 - Source: ZeroHedge

NYSE volumes, 2004-2013 – Source: ZeroHedge
It’s plain to see, stock exchange prices have completely disconnected from the real economy and thus isn’t a relevant indicator any more. It’s illustrative to see that the distortion is the largest in the United States, whereas in Europe the Euro Stoxx 50 Index has stagnated since 2009 like many other European national indices (the CAC40 for example) and that the SSE Composite Index has been falling for more than two years (!) in spite of Chinese dynamism. This indicator’s lack of relevance is further illustrated by the Nikkei’s sudden rise (+40% in less than 4 months) at the time when Japan is at its worst with insupportable debts and a steep trade deficit these last two years. Stock exchange prices, if an indication of anything, is of the degree of the economy’s virtualisation, the speculative phenomenon’s extent, and the degree of a country’s debt. The LEAP team has never attached anything other than very little importance to stock exchange price moves; however, in a certain manner, we could legitimately read their moves contrary to what they are supposed to say: the higher the stock markets, the more catastrophic the true economic situation, and conversely.The numbers thus dissected in the rest of the article are : unemployment, currencies, real estate, trade balance and consumption.

Notes:

(1) Source: Asia Times, 25/02/2013

(2) Which isn’t necessarily good news when one knows what happened the last time stock exchanges reached these levels…

(3) Source: The Examiner, 21/02/2013.

(4) Source: Bloomberg, 01/03/2013.

Mohawk Nation Leader “Splitting the Sky”: A Great Loss

March 20th, 2013 by Global Research News

We have lost a man of tremendous value and courage, Splitting The Sky, John Boncore, stood up relentlessly for social justice, human rights and truth in media.

We recall his historical citizen’s arrest of war criminal George W. Bush, when he visited Canada a few years ago. 

Splitting the Sky’s legacy is incalculable.

He taught us the true meaning of activism. 

Splitting the Sky will be with us for ever.

He will be remembered by all of us at Global Research.

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, March 20, 2013

Mohawk Warrior and Champion of the People Dies – March 13, 2013. A great loss to the people, to the nation, to the resistance, anti-imperialist  movement right across Great Turtle Island.
JOHN HILL

On March 13th, Dacajeweiah, Splitting-the-Sky, 61, left us forever when he passed away in his home in Adams Lake, British Columbia. Dac’s colonial name was John Boncore Hill, from Six Nations. “From Attica to Gustafsen Lake,” and thereafter, he was a warrior, a comrade, a brother, a father, a grandfather, a friend.
We deeply mourn his loss.SPLITTING

The family will release a biographical statement and details of memorial arrangements in due course. With deepest love to his wife, She-Keeps-the-Door, and children. We stand with Dac’s many many co-fighters and friends. He loved the People. The AIM song is dedicated to the continuance of the resistance after a warrior has fallen A.I.M. song

MNN Mohawk Nation News [email protected] 

For more news, books, workshops, to donate and sign up for MNN newsletters, go to www.mohawknationnews.com  More stories at MNN Archives.  Address:  Box 991, Kahnawake [Quebec, Canada] J0L 1B0.

Obama’s Arrival in Israel

March 20th, 2013 by Global Research News

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

www.flash90.com

http://www.flash90.co.il/?p=reportage

The death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has prompted the international left to acknowledge two key features about him and Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution.

The first is Chávez’s commitment to fighting for the poor and oppressed. Plenty of statistics demonstrate this. Literally millions have been lifted out of poverty and given new opportunities to improve their lives. Examples from daily life abound. I remember speaking to an upper class anti-Chavista once who was complaining about how, since Chávez came to power, it had become difficult to find maids. Many of the poor women she used to hire, she explained, had enrolled in a free education program provided by the government, one of the highly successful ‘missions.’

Another time, an empanada maker who lived with his son in the same 10-foot by six-foot stand he cooked out of told me how, since Chávez arrived, his community became emboldened to organize themselves into a cooperative with the mission of fighting the hotel and restaurant chains in the area, and create a community controlled tourist zone.

The puzzle known as Hugo Chávez.

A second feature about the Bolivarian Revolution also cannot be elided: the political impasse in addressing corruption, bureaucracy, political clientalism and finding an alternate model of economic management. When workers organize to take over a factory (for example, Sidor in 2008), they have to fight not only the capitalist owners, but often also the local or provincial government (even at times Chavista ones). If they win the fight, workers then have to struggle with government supervision, which often seems more concerned with meeting technocratic goals, rather than developing a genuine participatory democracy in the workplace. And, as the latest round of currency devaluation shows, unless added measures are forthcoming, it is the poor who will bear the burden of reduced living standards (through inflation) for the problems of economic management without compensatory gains in increased workers’ power in workplaces (Lebowitz, 2013).

This top down tendency is also expressed in the area of foreign policy. When the ‘Arab Spring’ erupted, rather than supporting those struggling in the streets of Egypt and Syria, a one-dimensional anti-imperialism had Chávez aligning Venezuela with the oppressors, rather than siding with the poor and workers and against imperial interventions. There is also the alliances with the likes of Vladimir Putin and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that go beyond the necessities of finding support against Western imperialism and U.S. empire.

Socialism in the 21st Century

However, hidden within these two opposing developments is a third, potentially more vital one. As a result of the Bolivarian Revolution, we can now begin to think of what in recent decades had become unthinkable, namely a socialism in the 21st century. In the 20th century, socialist politics predominantly took two forms. The first was the path taken by social democratic parties that sought social transformation by populating the state with reform-minded officials and proceeding to attempt to manipulate the economy from above through a variety of technocratic measures. At best, this would eliminate the worst abuses of capitalist markets. ‘Cast your vote and leave it to us’ was the technocratic message to the working classes.

A second strategy was some version of Lenin’s theory of dual power in which the exploited and oppressed were to build toward a counter power parallel to the capitalist state. At a decisive juncture, the old state would be ‘smashed’ and old rulers overthrown; the masses formed via a vanguard party would then replace the old state with a new one built in opposition to it, and buttressed by new organs of working-class power. A political elite in the vanguard party would then grab hold of the reins of this new state and lead the transition to a new society. Unfortunately, as the experiences of socialism across the 20th century tells us, both these paths failed. For they both insulated the masses from genuine democratic participation in the state. If the technocratic message was ‘leave it to us,’ the vanguard’s message ended up being ‘do as we say.’

Venezuela’s path, which has confused the majority of commentators, has been neither one of the above. It is both. Communities and workers have been organizing from below; and technocrats and bureaucrats have been passing laws from above. Each fights and cooperates with the other in an uneasy alliance. In a way, over the last decade Venezuela resembles the political theorist Nicos Poulantzas’ (1978) alternative to the above two paths, what he called a “democratic road to socialism,” where struggle for a transition necessarily has to take place through, against and apart from the state. Similarly, more contemporary thinkers (such as Ciccariello-Maher, 2007) have conceptualized this path as having features of dual power through, rather, than against the state.

This is not, however, all that is happening in Venezuela. If it were, all Venezuela would demonstrate is how it is not possible to take two seemingly incompatible paths at the same time; and that the forces of bureaucracy, because of their institutionalized power, are likely to win out over time in a lengthy battle of attrition. But Venezuela is also showing that something new is being created. Venezuela’s co-managed ‘socialist enterprises,’ an initiative Chávez was central in developing, perhaps best illustrate this point.

Socialist Enterprises

In these relatively new enterprises, the class relation expresses itself most forcefully in the struggles between workers and state managers. Although at first it appears that this is the same old capital-worker relationship, but with a different name, upon closer inspection, something more complex is happening. Unlike workers in unions that tend to struggle for things like higher wages or labour rights, workers in these enterprises tend to struggle for things like equal wages, genuine democratic participation, and the elimination of a rigid social division of labour within the plant.[1] In other words, this is a more developed form of the class relation, a sharper form, one that Poulantzas was able to hint at, but was not quite able to fully articulate. Thus herein lies the importance of Venezuela. As workers struggle against managers in these state-owned enterprises, we begin to see a glimpse of what 21st-century socialism might look like. In other words, we get a glimpse of the future. In this future, it is new workplace relations centered on participatory democracy that stand on the side of progress, while it is the state that, paradoxically, becomes the guarantor of the class relation, and therefore the sight of the next rupture.

There is so much more to be learned from the Bolivarian Revolution. Here, I’ve only been able to barely scratch the surface. The communal councils, the struggle to build the new communes and communal cities, the experiences with participatory budgeting, the Bolivarian universities; all these and the many other innovations in Venezuela represent pieces of the revolutionary puzzle. A puzzle out of which a new future can be seen right here in the present. A puzzle that, as we are reminded of with his passing, Hugo Chávez played an important role in, opening up the political space and encouraging self-organization of the poor and workers. No revolution can be built by a single person or by decrees from above, no matter how well intentioned. Yet, at his best, Chávez, from the presidential palace, was like an activist in the streets: he told the truth, he risked his life and sung a song of hope. Hope for a better world. Indeed, for another world. Chávez, presente!

Challenges Ahead

It is widely expected that Nicolás Maduro, now interim President of Venezuela, will win the upcoming Presidential elections on April 14. If elected President, he has promised to take up the five priorities set out by Chávez in his final strategic proposal, Plan de la Patria 2013-2019: multipolarity; national independence; Bolivarian socialism; environmentalism; and economic development.

What is far from clear, however, is how the contradictions evident in these five priorities can be reconciled by the existing state. For example, the priority to preserve the planet and save the human species (environmentalism), stands in sharp opposition to the government’s plan to further strengthen the extractive industries in the country, including natural gas, mining and the development of the Faja del Orinoco, which contains the world’s largest known reserves of heavy and extra heavy crude oil, or tar sands. The document does mention the need to develop new technology with low environmental impact, but no further details are provided.

In addition, the goal of deepening participatory democracy as the central mechanism behind ‘Bolivarian Socialism’ clashes with the goal of achieving national independence and ‘multipolarity,’ that is, a world with multiple poles of power that is free of imperialism. Although a worthy enough pursuit in theory, in practice, multipolarity has in some cases translated into open support for leaders such as Muammar Gaddafi and Bashar al-Assad, hardly models of participatory democracy and 21st-century socialism. It is worth mentioning that it was indeed Maduro, as Minister of foreign-policy, that played an important role in developing and maintaining these alliances.

In spite of these contradictions, the five priorities outlined also contain a path forward, namely that of strengthening the ‘popular economy.’ That is the building up of the constellation of organizations, such as cooperatives, co-managed enterprises and communal councils found throughout the country. It is these organizations that have the most potential for resolving the above-mentioned contradictions.

Consider Pedro Camejo, one of the co-managed ‘socialist enterprises’ located in the city of Carora. With its mission to contribute to the achievement of ‘food sovereignty’ in the country, this enterprise has been providing small and medium local farmers agricultural technology and technical assistance at below market price. As a result, agricultural production in the area has increased considerably in recent years. At the same time, workers within the enterprise have been learning new capacities, skills and values, such as collective management and solidarity, largely as the result of the practice of participatory democracy. In addition, the technology comes from PAUNY, one of Argentina’s ‘recuperated enterprises’ that builds tractors. As part of an agreement, workers from PAUNY traveled to Carora to train the Venezuelan workers and share their experiences in a spirit of international solidarity.

Although far from perfect, this one example does demonstrate how the five priorities outlined can be met in a more positive way. The challenge for militants within state agencies and institutions will be figuring out how to strengthen this sector of the economy without suffocating it with bureaucracy. The challenge for workers and communities will be to figure out how to enter these spaces while retaining enough autonomy so that struggles can be launched against the state when needed, as is frequently done. Indeed, workers and communities know something the state doesn’t, namely that participation within these new democratic spaces, although crucial, is only half the equation. The other half is continued organization and struggle from below.

It remains to be seen what direction a Maduro government will lean in the post-Chavez era. The impasse of the Bolivarian revolution over the last few years is about to be broken. The future is uncertain. But more than ever it is contingent on how the workers and poor that have been empowered by the Bolivarian revolution over the last decade organize and push toward the promise of a 21st century socialism. •

Manuel Larrabure is a Ph.D. candidate in the Political Science department at York University in Toronto, Canada. His research is on Latin America’s “new cooperative movement” and “21st-century socialism.” During 2013, he will be conducting fieldwork in Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela.

References:

  • Chávez, H. (2012). Propuesta del Candidato de la Patria para la Gestion Bolivariana Socialista 2013-2019. Retrieved from: www.chavez.org.ve/programa-patria-venezuela-2013-2019 [December 12, 2012].
  • Ciccariello-Maher, G. (2007). “Dual power in the Venezuelan Revolution,” Monthly Review, 59(4), 42-56.
  • Lebowitz, M. (2013). “Working-Class Response to Devaluation Measures in Venezuela,” The Bullet No. 773, Feb. 2013.
  • Poulantzas, N. (1978). State, Power, Socialism. New York: Verso.

Endnotes:

1. For a more detailed analysis of this phenomenon, see my forthcoming article in Historical Materialism, “Human Development and Class Struggle in Venezuela’s Popular Economy: The Paradox of 21st-century Socialism.”

From talk of “red lines” and cartoon bombs to having “all options on the table”, an undeniably delusional logic emanates from leadership in Washington and Tel Aviv regarding the alleged threat posted by Iran’s nuclear program. When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu famously took to the stage of the UN General Assembly with his doodled explosive, he claimed that Iran would soon have the capability to enrich uranium to 90 percent, allowing them to construct a nuclear weapon by early-mid 2013. In his second administration, Obama, who recently said a nuclear-Iran would represent a danger to Israel and the world, appears to be seeing eye-to-eye with Netanyahu, despite previous reports of the two not being on the same page. For whatever its worth, these two world leaders have taken the conscious decision to entirely ignore evidence brought forward by the US intelligence community, as well as appeals from nuclear scientists, policy-advisers, and IAEA personnel who claim that the “threat” posed by Iran is exaggerated and politicized.

Its common knowledge that Washington’s own National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran, which reflects the intelligence assessments of America’s 16 spy agencies, confirmed that whatever nuclear weapons program Iran once had was dismantled in 2003. Mr. Netanyahu has not corrected his statements insinuating that Iran was nearing the red line of 90 percent enrichment, even when recent UN reports that show Tehran has in fact decreased its stockpiles of 20 percent fissile material, far below the enrichment level required to weaponize uranium. Hans Blix, former chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has challenged previous IAEA reports on Iran’s nuclear activities, accusing the agency of relying on unverified intelligence from the US and Israel. Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett, former Washington insiders and analysts in the Clinton and Bush administrations, recently authored a book titled “Going to Tehran”, arguing that Iran is a coherent actor and that evidence for the bomb is simply not there.

Clinton Bastin, former director of US nuclear weapons production programs, has commented on the status of Iran’s capacity to produce nuclear weapons, stating,

The ultimate product of Iran’s gas centrifuge facilities would be highly enriched uranium hexafluoride, a gas that cannot be used to make a weapon. Converting the gas to metal, fabricating components and assembling them with high explosives using dangerous and difficult technology that has never been used in Iran would take many years after a diversion of three tons of low enriched uranium gas from fully safeguarded inventories. The resulting weapon, if intended for delivery by missile, would have a yield equivalent to that of a kiloton of conventional high explosives”. Bastin’s assessments corroborate reports that show Iran’s nuclear program is for civilian purposes; he further emphasizes the impracticality of weaponizing the hexafluoride product of Tehran’s gas-centrifuges, as the resulting deterrent would yield a highly inefficient nuclear weapon.

The fact that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei issued several fatwas (a religious prohibition) against the production of nuclear weapons doesn’t seem to have helped much either. An unceasing combination of Islamophobia-propaganda, a repetitive insistence that Tehran is edging closer to the threshold, and devastatingly negligent misreporting of Iran and its pursuit of domestic nuclear power has created a situation where the country is viewed as an irrational actor. In the court of Western mainstream opinion, Iran is grouped in the same category as bellicose North Korea, despite the fact that it is a law-abiding signatory to the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that has consistently cooperated with the IAEA while publically renouncing the use of nuclear weapons. This leads to the current scenario, where Iran and its people are punished under an unethical barrage of economic sanctions for possessing a weapon that they do not possess.

The severity of economic sanctions against Iran and the fabricated allegations of it possessing nuclear weapons serve as a disturbing parallel to the invasion and destruction of Iraq during the Bush administration. From the perspective of this observer, the US does not actually want to go to war with Iran – such an ordeal would bring about an array of overwhelmingly negative ramifications that Obama would probably want to avoid. What the US does want to do however, is to dismantle the foundations of the Islamic Republic by completely destroying its economy through sanctions, prompting the population to rise up and overthrow the regime – so basically, Obama is happy to conduct war by other means. Ayatollah Khamenei’s recent proclamations of the US holding a gun to the head of the Iranian nation can only be perceived as entirely accurate.

Its easy to see why the Supreme Leader has doubts over the prospect of negotiations with the US; the deal put forward at the most recent meeting of the P5+1 essentially argued that the US would roll back sanctions that prevent Iran from trading gold and precious metals in exchange for Iran completely shutting down its uranium enrichment plant at Fordo. The substance of this offer appears like it was deliberately drafted to be rejected by the Iranian side, given the fact that it would mandate Iran to shutdown one of its main facilities while keeping in place the most punishing sanctions that have destroyed the Iranian currency and made life-saving medications unaffordable for most – its more of an insult than an offer. For the average Iranian business owner and worker, US-led sanctions and currency devaluation have affected everyday transactions that provide paychecks and economic viability for millions of people.

From urban shopkeepers to rural restaurant owners, many have been forced to close their businesses because they are unable to profit from reselling imported goods purchased with dollars. Isolation from the global banking system has made it increasingly more difficult for Iranian students studying abroad to receive money from their families.

Sanctions targeting Iran’s central bank aim to devastate the Iranian export economy, affecting everyone from oil exporters to carpet weavers and pistachio cultivators. By crippling Iranian people’s livelihoods and hindering their ability to pursue education and afford necessities, the Obama administration believes such measures will erode public confidence in the government and challenge its legitimacy. It is important to recognize that these sanctions are not only aimed against Iran’s government, but at its entire population, especially to the poor and merchant population. An unnamed US intelligence source cited by the Washington Post elaborates,

In addition to the direct pressure sanctions exert on the regime’s ability to finance its priorities, another option here is that they will create hate and discontent at the street level so that the Iranian leaders realize that they need to change their ways.”

These sanctions, which are Obama’s throwback to ham-fisted Bush-Cheney era policies, must be seen as part of a series of measures taken to coax widespread social discontent and unrest. US sanctions have broadened their focus, targeting large swaths of the country’s industrial infrastructure, causing the domestic automobile production to plummet by 40 percent, while many essential medical treatments have more than doubled in price. Patients suffering from hemophilia, thalassemia, and cancer have been adversely affected, as the foreign-made medicines they depend on are increasingly more difficult to get ahold of. Over the past two years, general supermarket goods have seen a price hike between 100 to 300 percent. For the first time in the world, a media ban has been imposed, on PressTV, Iran’s state-funded English language international news service. Ofcom, a UK-based communications regulator linked to the British government, spearheaded the prohibition. The European Union has also imposed a travel ban on Press TV CEO Mohammad Sarafraz and eight other officials.

While editorials and commentators in the New York Times and Washington Post regularly accuse Iran of violating international law, the editors of these papers have shown no willingness to scrutinize the US and Israel by holding them accountable when they violate international law, namely, a prohibition of “the threat or use of force” in international relations unless a nation is attacked or such force is authorized by the UNSC, as embodied in the United Nations Charter. It is undeniable that by failing to question the brutal tactics meted out by Washington and Tel Aviv, these papers and the commentators affiliated with them endorse policies that intimidate and coerce civilian populations, in addition to employing terrorist tactics such as targeted cyber-strikes and extrajudicial assassinations – all of which the Iranian nation has been subjected to in utter defiance of the standards and rules of international law and their fundamental bedrock of protecting civilians.

The facts have been proven time and time again, Iran seeks economic development, technological advancement, and energy independence – it wants domestic nuclear power and the freedom to enrich uranium to 20 percent for the medical development of radio-pharmaceuticals and industrial isotopes, as it is entitled to as an NPT signatory. Washington’s threats to impose “secondary” sanctions against third-country entities doing business with the Islamic Republic represents a mafia-mentality so characteristic of the unipolar reality in which the US sees itself. Washington has recently threatened energy-hungry Pakistan with sanctions over its partnership with Tehran in a $7.5-billion gas pipeline between the two nations, a project that would do infinite good by promoting regional stability and delivering energy to poverty stricken regions in Pakistan. Washington’s sanctions regime will collapse if the US Congress insists that China sharply cut its energy trade and relations with Iran. China will not adhere to such stringent foreign interference into its trade relationships, and Washington is in no position to sanction China because it buys oil from Iran.

If Beijing calls Washington’s bluff, other growth-focused non-Western economies like India, Malaysia, and South Korea will be less fearful of conducting business and buying oil from Tehran. Obama has taken some cues from the revolutionary students of 1979 and his administration has come up with a hostage crisis of its own, involving holding captive the civilian population of Iran – and Washington looks keen to let the sanctions bite until either the regime bows down, or the people rise up. One of the best examples of the perverted logic behind the US position on Iran comes from Vice President Joe Biden, who recently stated, “We have also made clear that Iran’s leaders need not sentence their people to economic deprivation”. Such a statement embodies the upside-down logic of Washington policy-makers who claim the moral high ground while enabling terrorism and engaging in unethical campaigns of economic and military warfare – the present state of affairs simply cannot continue.

Nile Bowie is an independent political analyst and photographer based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He can be reached at [email protected]

Those who hoped that Barack Obama would be arriving in Israel to bang Israeli and Palestinian heads together, after four years of impasse in the peace process, will be sorely disappointed.

The US president’s trip beginning today may be historic – the first of his presidency to Israel and the Palestinian territories – but he has been doing everything possible beforehand to lower expectations.

At the weekend, Arab-American leaders revealed that Obama had made it clear he would not present a peace plan, because Israel has indicated it is not interested in an agreement with the Palestinians.

Any lingering doubts about Israel’s intentions were removed by the announcement of a new cabinet, hurriedly sworn in before the president’s visit. This government makes Benjamin Netanyahu’s last one, itself widely considered the most hardline in Israel’s history, look almost moderate.

Ynet, Israel’s popular news website, reported that settler leaders hailed this as their “wet dream” cabinet.

Zahava Gal-On, leader of the opposition Meretz party, concurred, observing that it would “do a lot for the settlers and not much at all for the rest of Israeli society”.

The settlers’ dedicated party, Jewish Home, has been awarded three key ministries – trade and industry, Jerusalem, and housing – as well as control of the parliamentary finance committee, that will ensure that the settlements flourish during this government’s term.

There is no chance Jewish Home will agree to a settlement freeze similar to the one Obama insisted on in his first term. Rather, the party will accelerate both house-building and industrial development over the Green Line, to make the settlements even more attractive places to live.

Uzi Landau, of Avigdor Lieberman’s far-right Yisraeli Beiteinu party, has the tourism portfolio and can be relied on to direct funds to the West Bank’s many Biblical sites, to encourage Israelis and tourists to visit.

The new defence minister, who oversees the occupation and is the only official in a practical position to obstruct this settler free-for-all, is Likud’s Moshe Yaalon, a former military chief of staff known for his ardent support of the settlements.

True, Yair Lapid’s large centrist party Yesh Atid is represented too. But its influence on diplomacy will be muted, because its five ministers will handle chiefly domestic issues such as welfare, health and science.

The one exception, Shai Piron, the new education minister, is a settler rabbi who can be expected to expand the existing programme of school trips to the settlements, continuing the settlers’ successful efforts to integrate themselves into the mainstream.

Far from preparing to make concessions to the US president, Netanyahu has all but declared his backing for Jewish Home’s plan to annex large parts of the West Bank.

The only minister with any professed interest in diplomatic talks, and that mostly driven by her self-serving efforts to stay popular with the White House, is Tzipi Livni. She is well aware that opportunities for negotiations are extremely limited: the peace process received just one perfunctory mention in the coalition agreement.

Obama, apparently only too aware he is facing an Israeli government even more intransigent than the last one, has chosen to avoid addressing the Knesset. Instead he will direct his speech to a more receptive audience of Israeli students, in what US officials have termed a “charm offensive”.

We can expect grand words, a few meagre promises and total inaction on the occupation.

In a sign of quite how loath the White House is to tackle the settlements issue again, its representatives at the United Nations refused on Monday to take part in a Human Rights Council debate that described the settlements as a form of “creeping annexation” of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Obama’s hands-off approach will satisfy his constituency at home. A poll for ABC-TV showed this week that most Americans support Israel over the Palestinians – 55 per cent to 9 per cent. An even larger majority, 70 per cent, think the US should leave the two sides to settle their future for themselves.

Ordinary Israelis, the US president’s target audience, are none too keen on his getting involved either. Recent survey data show that 53 per cent think Obama will fail to protect Israel’s interests, and 80 per cent believe he will not bring progress with the Palestinians over the next four years. The mood is one of indifference rather than anticipation.

These are all good reasons why neither Obama nor Netanyahu will be much focused on the Palestinian issue over the three-day visit. As analyst Daniel Levy observed: “Obama is coming first and foremost to make a statement about the US-Israel bond, not the illegal occupation.”

That is also how it looks to most Palestinians, who have grown increasingly exasperated by US obstructionism. US officials who went to Bethlehem in preparation for Obama’s visit on Friday found themselves caught up in anti-Obama demonstrations. More are expected today in Ramallah.

Other Palestinians protested his visit by establishing today a new tent community on occupied Palestinian land next to Jerusalem. Several previous such encampments have been hastily demolished by Israeli soldiers.

The organisers hope to highlight US hypocrisy in backing Israel’s occupation: Jewish settlers are allowed to build with official state backing on Palestinian land in violation of international law, while Palestinians are barred from developing their own territory in what is now considered by most of the world as the Palestinian state.

The unspoken message of Obama’s visit is that the Netanyahu government is free to pursue its hardline agenda with little danger of anything more than symbolic protest from Washington.

The new Israeli cabinet lost no time setting out its legislative priorities. The first bill announced is a “basic law” to change the state’s official definition, so that its “Jewish” aspects trump the “democratic” elements, a move the Haaretz newspaper termed “insane”.

Among the main provisions is one to restrict state funding to new Jewish communities only. This points to a cynical solution Netanyahu may adopt to placate the simmering social protest movement in Tel Aviv, which has been demanding above all more affordable housing.

By freeing up even more cheap land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, he can expand the settlements, further eat away at Palestinian territory, silence the protests, and wrong-foot the opposition. All he needs is Obama’s blessing.

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jkcook.net.

A version of this article first appeared in The National, Abu Dhabi.

US, NATO Prepare Syria Intervention

March 20th, 2013 by Bill Van Auken

The top US commander in Europe told a Senate hearing Tuesday that the US military and NATO are drawing up plans for direct military intervention in Syria.

Adm. James Stavridis, head of the Pentagon’s European Command, speaking at a hearing by the Senate Armed Service Committee, said that the US military is “looking at a variety of options” and is “prepared if called upon to be engaged.”

Declaring that there was “no end in sight to a vicious civil war,” Stavridis told the panel that “the option of assisting the opposition forces in Syria in ways that would break the deadlock are being actively explored by NATO members,” the Washington Post reported.

The admiral added that US and NATO discussions have included providing “lethal support” to the anti-government militias and using direct military force to impose “no-fly zones” in Syria and enforce “arms embargoes” against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Asked by committee chairman Senator Carl Levin (Democrat, Michigan) whether the discussions included “going after Syria’s air defenses,” Stavridis answered “Yes,” to which Levin replied, “Good.”

The exchange on Capitol Hill mirrored other developments signaling an escalation of the intervention by the Western powers, utilizing a bitter sectarian civil war to bring about regime change in Syria.

Both Britain and France have called for an emergency meeting of European Union foreign ministers this week on their demand for lifting an EU arms embargo that bars members states from directly shipping weapons to the Western-backed “rebels.”

Both Prime Minister David Cameron in London and President François Hollande in Paris have indicated that they are prepared to act unilaterally if the EU fails to bow to their demand. Germany, while carrying out its own intervention in Syria, has voiced opposition to the lifting of the ban, warning that it will escalate the bloodshed, risk arming Al Qaeda-linked forces, and potentially spread violence throughout the region.

Washington, meanwhile, has signaled its support for British and French moves to directly arm the anti-Assad forces. On Monday, US Secretary of State John Kerry declared that “the United States does not stand in the way of other countries that made a decision to provide arms, whether it’s France or Britain or others.”

In reality, the Obama administration has been intimately involved in the operations to ship arms to the Syrian anti-regime militias, setting up a CIA station near the Syrian-Turkish border to coordinate arms and aid pouring in from Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Earlier this month, Washington announced that it was providing its own “non-lethal” aid to these forces, including military rations, medical kits and other gear. At the same time, it has been widely reported that US special operations troops are training anti-Assad militiamen in Jordan. The Syrian government reported this week that a force of some 300 such US-trained fighters had crossed the Jordanian border into Syria.

The bulk of the fighting against Syrian government forces, however, is being carried out by Islamist militias, the most prominent among them Jabhat al-Nusra, an Al Qaeda affiliate that Washington has formally designated as a foreign terrorist organization.

The Syrian government reported that on Tuesday morning Western-backed insurgents fired a rocket carrying a chemical weapon into the village of Khan al-Asal near the northern city of Aleppo, killing 25 people and wounding 110. The Syrian foreign ministry issued a statement calling the attack a “dangerous escalation,” recalling its earlier warnings that such weapons could be provided to the anti-regime forces with the aim of blaming their use on the Syrian government and providing a pretext for Western intervention.

US President Barack Obama has issued repeated statements calling the use of chemical weapons or the threat that they would fall into the hands of terrorists a “red line” that could prompt direct US intervention in Syria.

Spokesmen for anti-Assad opposition forces blamed the attack on Syrian military. However, there is no question that the rocket was fired into an area controlled by the government, landing near a Syrian army installation. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is aligned with the opposition, put the number of dead at 26, claiming that 16 of them were soldiers. Those injured in the attack were taken to government hospitals in Aleppo suffering from respiratory problems.

A Reuters photographer on the scene reported that people “were suffocating in the streets and the air smelt strongly of chlorine.”

The Obama administration brushed aside the incident, with the White House saying it had “no evidence” that any attack had taken place. A State Department spokeswoman dismissed it as nothing more than “the regime’s continued attempts to discredit the legitimate opposition and distract from its own atrocities committed against the Syrian people.”

In other words, atrocities carried out by Western-backed forces in Syria will be ignored.

Referring to Tuesday’s attack, Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi described it as “the first act by the government announced in Istanbul.”

He was referring to the meeting convened Monday by the Syrian National Coalition, a Muslim Brotherhood-dominated front cobbled together last November under the direction of the US State Department. The gathering, consisting of a total of 63 people, chose Ghassan Hitto, a naturalized American citizen and IT business executive from Texas who left Syria more than 30 years ago, as “prime minister” of what the front is calling an “interim government.”

Hitto follows in the footsteps of Abdurraheem el-Keib, installed as Libya’s prime minister following the US-NATO war for regime change in that country. Like Hitto, Keib was also a US citizen with close ties to the oil industry, who had been out of Libya for 35 years.

Whether this self-proclaimed government will have any standing whatsoever inside Syria is a matter of considerable doubt. The various Islamist militias that have seized control of territory have shown little inclination to bow to the exiles of the Syrian National Coalition. It can, however, act as a cat’s-paw for Western intervention, serving to block any negotiated end to the civil war and potentially obtaining direct military and financial support for its installation on Syrian soil.

Nothing could more graphically expose the real nature of the so-called “Syrian revolution,” whose leadership is being shaped directly by the US State Department.

It also lays bare the reactionary role played by a coterie of pseudo-left groups ranging from the New Anti-Capitalist Party in France to the Socialist Workers Party in Britain, the Left Party in Germany and the International Socialist Organization in the United States. All of them have sought to cast these sordid maneuvers and the bloody sectarian war for regime change as a social revolution, in which imperialist intervention can serve to further human rights and social progress.

On March 9, 1995 Edward Bernays died at the age of 103. His professional endeavors involved seeking to change popular attitudes and behavior by fundamentally altering social reality.[1] Since he laid the modern groundwork for deceiving the public we are for better or worse living out his legacy today.

Several years ago Project Censored directors Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff identified and explained the “truth emergency” that is among the greatest threats to civil society and human existence. This crisis is manifest in flawed (or non-existent) investigations into 9/11 and other potential false flag events, fraudulent elections, and illegal wars vis-à-vis a corporate-controlled news media that fail to adequately inform the public on such matters. While neglecting or obscuring inquiry into such events and phenomena major media disparage independent and often uncredentialed researchers as “conspiracy theorists” or, more revealingly, “truthers.”[2]

The truth emergency continues today, and social engineers like Bernays long understood the significance of undermining the use of reason, for it is only through reason that truth may be determined and evaluated. To be sure, individuals and institutions that have successfully achieved legitimacy in the public mind are recognized as having a monopoly on the capacity to reason and are thus perceived as the foremost bearers of truth and knowledge. Through the endorsement of “experts”—figures perceived as authoritative in their field—the public could easily be persuaded on anything from tobacco use and water fluoridation to military intervention abroad.

Today reason is defined one dimensionally; its relationship to truth largely taken-for-granted. Yet as Leibniz observed, reason marks our humanity, suggesting a portion of the soul capable of a priori recognition of truth. With this in mind the modern individual in the mass has been rendered at least partially soulless through her everyday deferral to the powerfully persuasive notion and representation of expertise. However narrowly focused, under the guise of objectivity the institutionally-affiliated journalist, academic, bureaucrat, and corporate spokesperson have become the portals of reason through which the public is summoned to observe “truth.”

These agents of reason are largely bereft of emotion, moderate in temperament, and speak or write in an unsurprisingly formulaic tone. The narratives they relate and play out present tragedy with the expectation of certain closure. And with a century of commercial media programming the mass mind has come to not only accept but anticipate such regulation and control under the regime of institutionally-sanctioned expertise.

The selection and arrangement of experts by corporate media guarantees a continued monopoly on “truth,” particularly when presented to an uninquisitive and politically dormant public. Yet this phenomenon extends to ostensibly more trustworthy media outlets such as public broadcasting, where a heightened utilization of credentialed expertise is required to ensure the consensus of those who perceive themselves as more refined than the Average Joe.

This preservation of what passes for reason and truth cannot be sustained without a frequent dialectical struggle with unreason and falsity. Since many individuals have unconsciously placed their genuine reasoning faculties in abeyance and often lack a valid knowledge of politics and history, their unspoken faith in government and the broader political economy to protect and further their interests is groundless. Against this milieu those genuinely capable of utilizing their reasoning capacities in the pursuit of truth are often held up as heretical for their failure to accept what is presented as reality, with the requisite “conspiracy theory” label wielded in Orwellian fashion to denote such abnormal intellectual activity.

Lacking the autonomous use of reason to recognize truth, form often trumps substance. For example, a seemingly obscure news website with unconventional graphics or an emotional news presenter purporting to discuss the day’s affairs is typically perceived as untrustworthy and illegitimate by a public conditioned to accept forms of news and information where objectivity and professionalism often camouflage disinformation.

In 2013 the truth emergency is greater than ever, and in the era of seemingly never-ending pseudo-events and Potemkin villages presented by major media as the reality with which we must contend, the application of independent reason in pursuit of truth has all too frequently been replaced with an unthinking obeisance toward the smokescreen of expertise disguising corporate power and control.

Notes

[1] Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff, “Truth Emergency and Media Reform,” Daily Censored, March 31, 2009.

[2] “Edward Bernays, ‘Father of Public Relations’ and Leader in Opinion Making, Dies at 103,” New York Times, March 10, 1995.

Britain is loudly proclaiming that the inhabitants of the Falkland Islands, the South Atlantic island group that is hotly contested between Britain and Argentina, voted 99.8 percent to remain an overseas territory of the United Kingdom. British Prime Minister David Cameron publicly rebuked the Argentine government and the new Pope, Francis I, for their support of Argentine sovereignty over the Falklands. As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio supported Argentina’s historical claim to the islands.

If only Mr. Cameron were as dedicated to the wishes of the inhabitants of some of Britain’s other far-flung and nearer –to–home territories as he is toward the “Kelpers,” as the Falkland Islanders call themselves.

In the cases of the Turks and Caicos Islands and Anguilla in the Caribbean, the Tory-Liberal Democratic government in London has rolled back the self-government previously afforded the two island colonies.

The British government imposed direct rule on the Turks and Caicos in 2009, citing misrule and corruption by the island’s then-premier, Michael Misick. Britain appointed a Commission of Inquiry led by Sir Robyn Auld that recommended direct rule of the islands from London through Governor Gordon Wetherell; his successor Ric Todd; Attorney General Huw Shepheard; and Chief Financial Officer Hugh McGarel Groves. The Commission of Inquiry was replaced by a Special Investigation and Prosecution Team (SIPT) that began investigating Turks and Caicos government officials for corruption.

The new Premier, Galmo Williams, declared, “Our country is being invaded and re-colonized by the United Kingdom, dismantling a duly elected government and legislature and replacing it with a one-man dictatorship, akin to that of the old Red China, all in the name of good governance.”

The British neo-colonial government brought criminal charges against a dozen Turks and Caicos official, including five ministers in the Misick government, including Misick himself. The former premier fled to Brazil and was arrested pursuant to an extradition request from Britain. However, the breakdown in relations between London and Latin America over the Falklands issue may have compelled the Brazilian government to release Misick on bail awaiting a final determination on the extradition request.

Last November, an election was held in the Turks and Caicos and the Progressive National Party of former Premier Misick barely eked out a victory in an 8 seat to 7 seat vote for the opposition People’s Democratic Party in the House of Assembly. Dr. Rufus Ewing became Premier and among his first acts was to demand London restore constitutional powers from the abrogated constitution to the elected government and sack the governor, Attorney General, and other appointed officials. Cameron and Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary William Hague have resisted these calls. Essentially, when the white population and government of the Falklands demand something from London, they are heard and the request in positively acted upon. However, when it is an Afro-Caribbean population in the Turks and Caicos that makes a demand, they are ignored. It is the British colonial way.

In a letter to Hague, Ewing wrote that the investigation of the previous Misick government was a “farce, impregnated with cloak and dagger acts on the part of the Governor, AG Chambers and SIPT, to incarcerate Turks and Caicos Islanders at all costs, even the cost of the violation of the principles of justice and the human rights of individuals.”

Ewing told a summit of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in Port au Prince, Haiti, “We are today being governed by a constitution that was conceived in Whitehall, and was, for all intents and purposes, thrust upon the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands, at a time when they were without representation.” Ewing was referring to the 2011 Constitution that afforded the island less rights than the previous Constitution of 2006.

One of the main objectives of the London-appointed government was to impose a tax hike and austerity measures on the Turks and Caicos. Hague rejected Ewing’s request and stated: “We expect the territories to meet the same high standards of good governance and public financial management as in the UK.” That is rich coming from a British government that has been mired in financial and sexual scandal since it came to power. But, again, the rationale in London is based on the fact that when white ministers and Tory and Liberal Democratic MPs are engaged in scandal, it is a minor infraction, but when a government composed of people of color are accused of scandal, an unconstitutional, anti-democratic, neo-colonialist sacking of the entire government ensues.

It is clear that the Turks and Caicos wants to join its fellow CARICOM partners as an independent nation but London has thrown in a number of obstacles to full sovereignty. The Turks and Caicos are not alone in having neo-colonialism imposed on them from the halls of power along the banks of the Thames.

Britain, working with France, the Netherlands, the United States, Morocco, New Zealand, Canada, Israel, and Australia, has sought to diminish the role of the United Nations’ Special Committee on Decolonization in speeding independence for the 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories recognized by the committee, which includes the Turks and Caicos and another Caribbean island where Britain has re-stamped its colonial imprimatur, Anguilla.

In the 1960s, Anguilla declared unilateral independence from the Federation of St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla because it wanted to retain its ties to Britain and not shed them in favor of a colonial status within a West Indies mini-federation. However, after some forty years, things have started to change on the island. Britain, instead of allowing Anguilla more self-government under Anguilla Constitutional Order 1 April 1982, amended in 1990, has reversed course and started to retain and retake more powers for itself. This has resulted in more Anguillans bringing up the independence option decades after the Anguillan Revolutions of 1967 and 1969.

Britain is trying to eliminate a provision in the Anguillan Constitution that provides for an option of independence. It is clear that Britain is trying to do to Anguilla what the Netherlands did to the three small Caribbean island territories of Bonaire, Saba, and Saint Eustatius after the dissolution of the self-governing Netherlands Antilles, make Anguilla part of Britain and incorporate it into the United Kingdom and European Union. The Netherlands incorporated its three territories as municipalities of the Netherlands in a move that was not clearly explained to the residents of the islands.

Last year, Anguillan Chief Minister Hubert Hughes told the UN that his government “decided that the Anguilla people will have to decide whether they want to stay in slavery or go on to freedom.”

As with the Turks and Caicos, Britain has imposed economy-crippling austerity on Anguilla using the pretext that the island is rife with financial corruption.

As bad as the Turks and Caicos islanders and Anguillans are in being re-colonized by Britain, no people have suffered more than the Ilois of the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean. In the 1960s, they were removed by Britain against their wishes and relocated to Mauritius where they live in squalor. Britain removed the islanders to make way for a U.S. nuclear weapons, intelligence, and, more recently, a gulag for detainees, on the island of Diego Garcia.

So, while Mr. Cameron lectures the Pope and Argentina on respecting the wishes of the Falkland Islanders, he continues to run roughshod over the wishes of the peoples of the Turks and Caicos, Anguilla, the Chagos Archipelago, and even those closer to home in the Channel Islands and Isle of Man, who would opt for independence if not for the heavy jackboot of British colonial rule…

El cónclave del Vaticano ha elegido el Cardenal Jorge Mario Bergoglio como Papa Francisco I

¿Quién es Jorge Mario Bergoglio?

En 1973, había sido nombrado “Provincial” de la Argentina por la Compañía de Jesús.Por este cargo, Bergoglio era el jesuita de más alto rango en Argentina durante la dictadura militar encabezada por el general Jorge Videla (1976-1983).

Más tarde se convirtió en obispo y arzobispo de Buenos Aires. El Papa Juan Pablo II lo elevó al rango de cardenal en 2001.

Cuando la Junta Militar entregó el poder en 1983, el presidente debidamente electo Raúl Alfonsín creó una Comisión de la Verdad respecto a los delitos vinculados a la “Guerra Sucia”.

La junta militar había sido apoyada secretamente por Washington.

El Secretario de Estado norteamericano, Henry Kissinger tuvo un papel detrás de la escena en el golpe militar de 1976.

El lugarteniente de Kissinger en América Latina, William Rogers, le dijo dos días después del golpe de Estado que “tenemos que esperar una buena cantidad de represión, probablemente una buena cantidad de sangre, en la Argentina en poco tiempo“…. (National Security Archive, 23 de marzo de 2006)

“Operación Cóndor”

Irónicamente, un importante juicio comenzó en Buenos Aires el 5 de marzo de 2013, una semana antes de la investidura cardenal Bergoglio como Pontífice. El juicio en curso en Buenos Aires busca: “considerar la totalidad de los crímenes cometidos bajo la Operación Cóndor, una campaña coordinada por varias dictaduras apoyadas por Estados Unidos en América Latina en las décadas de 1970 y 1980 para perseguir, torturar y asesinar a miles de opositores de esos regímenes”.Para más detalles, consulte Operation Condor: Trial On Latin American Rendition And Assassination Programde Carlos Osorio y Peter Kornbluh, 10 de marzo de 2013La junta militar encabezada por el general Jorge Videla fue responsable de asesinatos, incluyendo el de un sinnúmero de sacerdotes y monjas que se opusieron al dominio militar tras el golpe de estado del 24 de marzo de 1976, patrocinado por la CIA, que derrocó al gobierno de Isabel Perón:

“Videla fue uno de los generales culpables de crímenes contra los derechos humanos, incluyendo las “desapariciones”, torturas, asesinatos y secuestros. En 1985, Videla fue condenado a cadena perpetua en la prisión militar de Magdalena.”

Wall Street y la agenda económica neoliberal

Una de las citas clave de la junta militar (bajo instrucciones de Wall Street) fue el ministro de Economía, José Alfredo Martínez de Hoz,miembro de establishment comercial de la Argentina y gran amigo de David Rockefeller.El conjunto de medidas macro-económicas neoliberales medidas adoptadas por Martínez de Hoz eran una “copia” de las impuestas en octubre de 1973 en Chile por la dictadura de Pinochet bajo el asesoramiento de los “Chicago Boys”, tras el golpe de Estado del 11 de septiembre 1973 y la muerte del presidente Salvador Allende.Los salarios fueron congelados inmediatamente por decreto. El poder adquisitivo real se desplomó más de un 30 por ciento en los 3 meses siguientes al golpe militar del 24 de marzo de 1976. (Estimaciones del autor, Córdoba, Argentina, julio de 1976). La población argentina se empobreció.

Bajo el mando del Ministro de Economía José Alfredo Martínez de Hoz, la política monetaria del Banco Central fue determinada en mayor medida por Wall Street y el FMI. El mercado de divisas fue manipulado. El peso fue sobrevaluado deliberadamente para conducir a una deuda externa impagable. La economía nacional se precipitó a la bancarrota.

Wall Street y la jerarquía de la Iglesia Católica

Wall Street estaba firmemente detrás de la junta militar que libró la “Guerra Sucia” en su nombre. A su vez, la jerarquía de la Iglesia Católica desempeñó un papel central en el mantenimiento de la legitimidad de la Junta Militar.

La Orden de Jesús – que representaba la facción conservadora más influyente dentro de la Iglesia católica, estrechamente relacionada con las elites económicas de la Argentina – estaba firme detrás de la junta militar, en contra de los llamados “izquierdistas” del movimiento peronista.

“Guerra Sucia”: las acusaciones contra el cardenal Jorge Mario Bergoglio

En 2005, la abogada de derechos humanos Myriam Bregman presentó una querella criminal contra el cardenal Jorge Bergoglio, acusándolo de conspirar con la junta militar en 1976 en el secuestro de dos sacerdotes jesuitas.

Bergoglio, quien en ese momento era “Provincial” de la Compañía de Jesús, había ordenado a dos sacerdotes jesuitas “izquierdistas”, “terminar su trabajo pastoral” (es decir, que fueran despedidos) producto de las divisiones dentro de la Compañía de Jesús respecto al papel de la Iglesia Católica y sus relaciones con la Junta militar.

Condenar la dictadura militar (incluyendo las violaciones de derechos humanos) era un tabú dentro de la Iglesia Católica. Mientras que las altas esferas de la Iglesia apoyaban a la Junta militar, las bases de la Iglesia se opusieron firmemente a la imposición del régimen militar.

En 2010, sobrevivientes de la “guerra sucia”, acusaron al cardenal Jorge Bergoglio de complicidad en el secuestro de dos miembros de la Compañía de Jesús, Francisco Jalics y Orlando Yorio, (El Mundo, 8 de noviembre de 2010)

En el curso del juicio iniciado en 2005, “Bergoglio dos veces invocó su derecho en virtud de la legislación argentina de negarse a comparecer en audiencia pública, y cuando finalmente testificó en el año 2010, sus respuestas fueron evasivas”:

“Por lo menos dos casos involucran directamente a Bergoglio. Uno se relaciona con la tortura de dos de sus sacerdotes jesuitas – Orlando Yorio y Francisco Jalics – que fueron secuestrados en 1976 en los barrios pobres donde abogaban por la teología de la liberación. Yorio acusó a Bergoglio de haberlo efectivamente entregado a los escuadrones de la muerte… al negarse a decirle al régimen que apoyaba su labor. Jalics se negó a hablar de ello después de mudarse a reclusión en un monasterio alemán.” (Los Angeles Times, 1 de abril de 2005)

Las acusaciones dirigidas contra Bergoglio respecto a los dos sacerdotes jesuitas secuestrados no son más que la punta del iceberg. Así como Bergoglio era una figura importante en la Iglesia católica, ciertamente no era el único que apoyó la Junta Militar.Según el abogado de Myriam Bregman: “las declaraciones del propio Bergoglio demostraron que funcionarios de la iglesia sabían desde el principio que la junta estaba torturando y asesinando a sus ciudadanos, y sin embargo, respaldaron públicamente a los dictadores.” La dictadura no podría haber funcionado de esta manera sin este apoyo clave“. (Los Angeles Times, 1 de abril 2005, énfasis añadido)La jerarquía católica entera estaba detrás de la dictadura. Vale la pena recordar que el 23 de marzo de 1976, en vísperas del golpe militar:

Videla y otros conspiradores recibieron la bendición del arzobispo de Paraná, Adolfo Tortolo, quien también se desempeñó como vicario de las fuerzas armadas. El mismo día de la toma de posesión, los líderes militares tuvieron una larga reunión con los dirigentes de la Conferencia Episcopal. Al salir de esa reunión, el arzobispo Tortolo declaró que si bien “la iglesia tiene su misión específica… hay circunstancias en las que no pueden abstenerse de participar, incluso cuando se trata de problemas relacionados con el orden específico del Estado.” Él instó a los argentinos a “cooperar de manera positiva” con el nuevo gobierno“. (The Humanist.org, enero de 2011, énfasis añadido)

En una entrevista con El Sur, el general Jorge Videla, quien actualmente cumple una pena de cadena perpetua confirmó que:

Mantuvo a la jerarquía católica del país informada sobre la política de su régimen de “desaparecer” a los opositores políticos, y que los líderes católicos ofrecieron consejos sobre cómo “manejar” dicha política.

Jorge Videla dijo que tuvo “muchas conversaciones” con el prelado de Argentina, el cardenal Raúl Francisco Primatesta, sobre la guerra sucia de su régimen contra activistas de izquierda. Dijo también que hubo conversaciones con otros obispos importantes de la Conferencia Episcopal Argentina, así como con el nuncio papal en el país en ese momento, Pío Laghi.

Ellos nos aconsejan sobre la manera de hacer frente a la situación“, dijo Videla” (Tom Henningan, Former Argentinian dictator says he told Catholic Church of disappeared, Irish Times, 24 de julio de 2012, énfasis añadido)

Al apoyar a la Junta militar, la jerarquía católica fue cómplice de los asesinatos y la tortura en masa, un estimado de “22.000 muertos y desaparecidos, desde 1976 hasta 1978… Miles de víctimas adicionales fueron asesinados entre 1978 y 1983, cuando los militares fueron depuestos.”(National Security Archive, 23 de marzo 2006).

La Iglesia Católica: Chile versus Argentina

Vale la pena señalar que, a raíz del golpe militar en Chile el 11 de septiembre de 1973, el cardenal de Santiago de Chile, Raúl Silva Henríquez, condenó abiertamente la junta militar encabezada por el general Augusto Pinochet. En marcado contraste con Argentina, esta postura de la jerarquía católica en Chile fue fundamental para frenar la ola de asesinatos políticos y violaciones de derechos humanos dirigidas contra partidarios de Salvador Allende y opositores al régimen militar.Si Jorge Mario Bergoglio hubiese adoptado una postura similar a la del Cardenal Raúl Silva Henríquez, miles de vidas se habrían salvado.

La “Operación Cóndor” y la Iglesia Católica

La elección del cardenal Bergoglio en el cónclave del Vaticano para servir como Papa Francisco I tendrá repercusiones inmediatas en el presente juicio contra la “Operación Cóndor” en Buenos Aires.

La Iglesia estuvo involucrada en el apoyo a la Junta Militar. Esto es algo que emergerá durante el curso de las actuaciones judiciales. Sin duda, habrá intentos para ocultar el papel de la jerarquía católica y del recién nombrado Papa Francisco I, quien se desempeñó como jefe de la orden jesuita en Argentina durante la dictadura militar.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio: ¿”El Papa de Washington en el Vaticano”?

La elección del Papa Francisco I tiene amplias implicaciones geopolíticas para toda la región de Latinoamérica.

En la década de 1970, Jorge Mario Bergoglio apoyó a una dictadura militar de patrocinio estadounidense.

La jerarquía católica en la Argentina apoyó al gobierno militar.

Los intereses de Wall Street se mantuvieron a través de la oficina de José Alfredo Martínez de Hoz en el Ministerio de Economía.

La Iglesia Católica en América Latina es políticamente influyente. También posee control sobre la opinión pública. Esto es conocido y comprendido por los arquitectos de política exterior estadounidense.

En América Latina, donde varios gobiernos están ahora desafiando la hegemonía de Estados Unidos, uno podría esperar – dada la trayectoria de Bergoglio – que el nuevo Pontífice Francisco I como líder de la Iglesia Católica, jugará de facto, un discreto rol político “encubierto” a nombre de Washington.

Con Jorge Bergoglio, el Papa Francisco I, en el Vaticano (que sirvió fielmente a los intereses estadounidenses en el apogeo del general Jorge Videla) la jerarquía de la Iglesia Católica en América Latina puede volver a ser efectivamente manipulada para socavar a los gobiernos “progresistas” (de izquierda), no sólo en la Argentina (respecto del gobierno de Cristina Kirchner), sino en toda la región, incluyendo Venezuela, Ecuador y Bolivia.

El restablecimiento de un “Papa pro-estadounidense” se produjo una semana después de la muerte del presidente Hugo Chávez.

¿El Papa de Washington y Wall Street en el Vaticano?

El Departamento de Estado norteamericano presiona rutinariamente a los miembros del Consejo de Seguridad con miras a influir en la votación relativa a las resoluciones del Consejo.

Operaciones encubiertas y campañas de propaganda estadounidenses se desarrollan rutinariamente con objeto de influir en las elecciones nacionales en diferentes países alrededor del mundo.

¿El gobierno estadounidense habrá intentado influir en la elección del nuevo pontífice? Jorge Mario Bergoglio era el candidato preferido por Washington.

¿Hubo presiones encubiertas ejercidas discretamente por Washington, dentro de la Iglesia Católica, directa o indirectamente, a los 115 cardenales que son miembros del cónclave del Vaticano, para llevar a la elección de un pontífice que fielmente sirve a los intereses de la política exterior estadounidense en América Latina?

Nota del Autor

Desde el comienzo del régimen militar en 1976, fui profesor visitante en el Instituto de Política Social de la Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, Argentina. Mi principal objetivo de investigación en ese momento era investigar los efectos sociales de las letales reformas macroeconómicas aprobadas por la Junta Militar.

Impartí clases en la Universidad de Córdoba durante la primera oleada de asesinatos que también apunto a miembros del clero católico de base progresista.

La ciudad norteña industrial de Córdoba era el centro del movimiento de resistencia. Fui testigo de cómo la jerarquía católica activa y sistemáticamente apoyó a la junta militar, creando un clima de intimidación y temor en todo el país. El sentimiento general era en ese entonces que los argentinos habían sido traicionados por las altas esferas de la Iglesia Católica.

Tres años antes, al momento del golpe militar del 11 de septiembre de 1973 en Chile, que llevó al derrocamiento del gobierno de la Unidad Popular de Salvador Allende, era profesor visitante del Instituto de Economía de la Universidad Católica de Chile, en Santiago de Chile.

Inmediatamente después del golpe de Estado en Chile, fui testigo de cómo el cardenal de Santiago, Raúl Silva Henríquez, actuando a nombre de la Iglesia Católica, se enfrentó a la dictadura militar.

Michel Chossudovsky es autor galardonado, Profesor de Economía (Emérito) de la Universidad de Ottawa, Director del Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), y Editor de globalresearch.ca. Es el autor de Globalization of Poverty and The New World Order (2003) y America’s “War on Terrorism” (2005). También es colaborador de la Enciclopedia Británica. Sus escritos publicados se encuentran en más de veinte idiomas.

From “Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law,”  By Marjorie Cohn, 2007

According to sources inside the administration, George W. Bush was planning to invade Iraq and remove its government well before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Such an invasion violates the UN Charter, which the United States signed in 1945 after the bloodiest conflict in history.  The Charter permits countries to use military force against another country only in self-defense or with Security Council permission.  But the evidence indicates that the U.S.-led invasion satisfied neither condition and is therefore a war of aggression, which constitutes a Crime Against Peace - exactly the kind of war the Charter was meant to prevent.

Although Bush marketed the war in Iraq as necessary to protect us from Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD), his decisions had less to do with self-defense than with dominating the oil-rich Middle East. Some evidence for this conclusion can be found in a September 2000 report prepared by the neoconservative Project for a New American Century (PNAC).  The report, commissioned by Dick Cheney, outlines a plan “to maintain American military preeminence that is consistent with the requirements of a strategy of American global leadership.” It notes that while “the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.” Another document produced for Vice President Cheney’s secret Energy Task Force included a map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals as well as charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas projects and “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts.” That document was dated March 2001, six months before 9/11 and two years before Bush invaded Iraq.

After 9/11, the Bush administration attacked Afghanistan and removed the Taliban from power. But the primary target all along was Iraq.  To sell the war to the American people, the administration made two claims and repeated them like a mantra.  First, Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.  Second, it had ties with al-Qaeda and was thus complicit in the 9/11 attacks.  Although the administration argued that both reasons justified the use of force against Iraq, it was advised repeatedly that neither claim was valid.

No Weapons of Mass Destruction

An August 2006 report prepared at the direction of Rep. John Conyers, Jr. found that “members of the Bush Administration misstated, overstated, and manipulated intelligence with regards to linkages between Iraq and Al Qaeda; the acquisition of nuclear weapons by Iraq; the acquisition of aluminum tubes to be used as uranium centrifuges; and the acquisition of uranium from Niger.” The report also noted that “[b]eyond making false and misleading statements about Iraq’s attempt to acquire nuclear weapons, the record shows the Bush Administration must have known these statements conflicted with known international and domestic intelligence at the time.” Finding that the administration had also misstated or overstated intelligence information regarding chemical and biological weapons, the report concluded that “these misstatements were in contradiction of known countervailing intelligence information, and were the result of political pressure and manipulation.” In short, the Bush gang misrepresented the WMD threat to justify its planned invasion of Iraq.

No Connection Between Iraq and al Qaeda

On September 21, 2001, Bush was told in the President’s Daily Brief that the intelligence community had no evidence connecting Saddam Hussein’s regime to the 9/11 attacks.  Furthermore, there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with al Qaeda. This was no surprise.  Al Qaeda is a consortium of intensely religious Islamic fundamentalists, whereas Hussein ran a secular government that repressed religious activity in Iraq.

Undeterred, Bush and his people continued to tout the connection.  Although the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) determined in February 2002 that “Iraq is unlikely to have provided bin Laden any useful [chemical or biological weapons] knowledge or assistance,” Bush proclaimed one year later, “Iraq has also provided al-Qaeda with chemical and biological weapons training.” And although the CIA concluded in a classified January 2003 report that Hussein “viewed Islamic extremists operating inside Iraq as a threat,” Cheney claimed the next day that the Iraqi government “aids and protects terrorists, including members of al-Qaeda.”

To support their claims that Iraq was training al-Qaeda members, Bush, Cheney, and Colin Powell repeatedly cited information provided by Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, an al-Qaeda prisoner captured shortly after 9/11. An ex-FBI official told Newsweek that the CIA “duct-taped [al-Libi's] mouth, cinched him up and sent him to Cairo” for some “more-fearsome Egyptian interrogations” in violation of U.S. law prohibiting extraordinary rendition. Al-Libi’s account proved worthless.  The February 2002 DIA memo reveals al-Libi provided his American interrogators with false material suggesting Iraq had trained al-Qaeda to use weapons of mass destruction. Even though U.S. intelligence thought the information was untrue as early as 2002 because it was obtained by torture, al-Libi’s information provided the centerpiece of Colin Powell’s now thoroughly discredited February 2003 claim before the United Nations that Iraq had developed WMD programs.

The March to War

Unable to find any WMD or connection between Iraq and the 9/11 attacks, Bush never wavered in his march toward war.  "From the very beginning," former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill said on 60 Minutes, "there was a conviction that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go.  It was all about finding a way to do it.  That was the tone of it.  The president saying, 'Go find me a way to do this.'"

On September 15, 2001, in a meeting at Camp David, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld suggested an attack on Iraq because he was deeply worried about the availability of "good targets in Afghanistan."  Former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz argued that war against Iraq might be "easier than against Afghanistan." The 9-11 Commission Report noted that as early as September 20, 2001, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith suggested attacking Iraq in response to the 9/11 attacks. In late November 2001, Bush instructed Rumsfeld to develop an Iraq war plan.  "What have you got in terms of plans for Iraq?," Bush asked.  "What is the status of the war plan?  I want you to get on it.  I want you to keep it secret."

In his January 2002 State of the Union Address, Bush declared that countries like Iraq, Iran, and North Korea "constitute an axis of evil . . . These regimes pose a grave and growing danger . . . I will not wait on events, while dangers gather." As early as February 2002, the Bush administration took concrete steps to deploy military troops and assets into Iraq without advising Congress or seeking its approval. By late March, Dick Cheney told his fellow Republicans that a decision had been made to invade Iraq. The same month, Bush poked his head into Condoleezza Rice’s office and said, “Fuck Saddam.  We’re taking him out.”

In July 2002, a highly classified document titled CentCom Courses of Action was leaked to the New York Times.  Prepared two months earlier, it contained what the Pentagon labeled a "war plan" for invading Iraq.  The document, which indicated an advanced stage of planning, called for tens of thousands of marines and soldiers to attack Iraq from the air, land, and sea to topple Saddam Hussein.

In August 2002, Cheney cautioned that Saddam Hussein could try to dominate “the entire Middle East and subject the United States to nuclear blackmail.”  He added, “There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.” The same month, the Bush administration quietly established the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) to lead a propaganda campaign to bolster public support for war with Iraq.

A week before WHIG began its work in earnest, the Sunday Times of London broke the story of the “Downing Street Memo,” which contained the secret minutes of a July 2002 meeting with Tony Blair and Sir Richard Dearlove, chief of British intelligence.  Dearlove reported that Bush had already decided to go to war and was making sure “the intelligence and facts” about Iraq and WMD “were being fixed around the policy” of war on Iraq.

Shortly after WHIG convened, White House officials told the New York Times there was a meticulously planned strategy to sell a war against Iraq to the American people.  But the White House decided to wait until after Labor Day to kick off the plan.  The reason, as explained by White House chief of staff Andrew Card, seemed straight from the pages of George Orwell’s 1984:  “From a marketing point of view,” Card said, “you don’t introduce new products in August.” The new product was introduced the following month by National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, who warned, “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” The same week, on the anniversary of 9/11, Bush declared the United States would “not allow any terrorist or tyrant to threaten civilization with weapons of mass murder.” The next day, in an address to the United Nations, Bush reiterated that Iraq was a “grave and gathering danger.”

Three weeks before the midterm elections, Congress gave Bush the “Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq.” The White House wanted to pass the resolution while many in Congress were facing reelection; those who opposed Bush’s war on Iraq would be painted as soft on terror. The resolution said Iraq posed a “continuing threat to the national security of the United States” by “continuing to possess and develop a significant chemical and biological weapons capability” and “actively seeking a nuclear weapons capability.” It authorized the President to use the Armed Forces to “defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq” and to “enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq.”  Iraq didn’t pose a threat to the United States, and only the Security Council has the power to enforce its resolutions.  But Congress capitulated to the Bush gang’s hyperbole and intense pressure.  Some legislators later said they were duped by the Bush administration into voting for this resolution.

In his 2003 State of the Union address, Bush famously claimed, “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” It was pure fiction. "The White House kept saying that no decision had been made about Iraq, but only the blind or the deaf could fail to see that a decision had long ago been made," Frank Rich wrote in The Greatest Story Ever Sold.

The Real Motive

Why was Bush so determined to invade Iraq? Wolfowitz admitted that the WMD rationale was a "bureaucratic" excuse for war that everyone could agree on. When no WMD turned up, Wolfowitz revealed a new raison d'etre: the invasion of Iraq was a way to redraw the Middle East to reduce the terrorist threat to the United States.

In November 2002, Rumsfeld sought to decouple oil access from regime change in Iraq when he claimed that the U.S. beef with Iraq had "nothing to do with oil, literally nothing to do with oil." A year later, Bush announced in his State of the Union Address, "We have no desire to dominate, no ambitions of empire." But the denials were unconvincing, and a great deal of evidence suggests that oil and domination had everything to do with the decision to invade. 

In February 2001, a month after Bush’s inauguration, White House officials discussed a memo called “Plan for Post-Saddam Iraq,” which described troop requirements, establishing war crimes tribunals, and dividing up Iraq’s oil wealth.” Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill was astonished to discover that actual plans “were already being discussed to take over Iraq and occupy it – complete with disposition of oil fields, peacekeeping forces, and war crimes tribunals – carrying forward an unspoken doctrine of preemptive war.” According to O’Neill, a preemptive attack on Iraq and the prospect of dividing the world’s second largest oil reserve among the world’s contractors “made for an irresistible combination.”

The Self-Defense Argument

Returning to the legality of the Iraq invasion and occupation, we find that the UN Charter requires all members to settle their international disputes by peaceful means.  No nation can use military force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any other country.  As noted earlier, the only two exceptions to this prohibition are when a nation acts in self-defense or when the Security Council authorizes the use of force.  A country may use military force in individual or collective self-defense “if an armed attack occurs” against a U.N. member country or in response to an imminent attack. It is well established that the need for self-defense must be “instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation.”

Iraq had not attacked any other nation for 11 years.  It lacked both the capacity and the will to lodge an imminent attack on any country.  Its military capability had been severely weakened by the Gulf War, years of punishing sanctions and intrusive inspections, and almost daily bombing raids by the United States and Britain over the “no-fly zones.”

Bush made little pretense that Iraq constituted an imminent threat.  Rather, he invoked his own doctrine of “preemptive war” to justify his attack.  He unveiled that doctrine in a speech at West Point in June 2002.  “We must take the battle to the enemy,” Bush said, “disrupt his plans, and confront the worst threats before they emerge.” The international community was unmoved.  Quite simply, the U.S. invasion of Iraq wasn’t self-defense because it didn’t respond to an armed or imminent attack.

The Security Council Never Authorized War

The UN Charter declares that no member has the right to enforce any Security Council resolution with military action unless the Council decides there has been a material breach of its resolution and all non-military means of enforcement have been exhausted. Then the Council may authorize the use of military force.  The use of armed force for preemptive or retaliatory purposes is prohibited by the Charter.

Bush was never interested in achieving a diplomatic solution in Iraq. Bush tried mightily to arrange a Security Council resolution that would authorize his war, but the Council refused.  Bush then cobbled together prior resolutions to rationalize his invasion.  None of them, however, individually or collectively, constituted authorization for his use of force against Iraq.

Faced with Iraq’s increasing cooperation with weapons inspectors in the weeks leading up to the invasion, Bush's rationale for disarming Iraq morphed into "regime change" to bring democracy to the Iraqi people.  But forcible regime change violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a treaty ratified by the United States and therefore part of our domestic law under the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution.

Shock and Awe—and the Consequences

Despite the absence of Security Council authorization, a quarter million troops from the United States and the United Kingdom invaded Iraq in March 2003.  Delivering on their promise to “shock and awe,” the “coalition forces” dropped several 2,000-pound bombs on Baghdad in rapid succession, in what the New York Times dubbed “almost biblical power.”

Since then, the use of cluster bombs, depleted uranium, and white phosphorous gas by U.S. forces in Iraq has been documented. These are weapons of mass destruction.  Cluster bomb cannisters contain tiny bomblets which can spread over a vast area.  Unexploded cluster bombs are frequently picked up by children and explode, resulting in serious injury or death.  Depleted uranium weapons spread high levels of radiation over vast areas of land. White phosphorous gas melts the skin and burns to the bone. The Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in time of War (Geneva IV) classifies “willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health” as a grave breach. The US War Crimes Act punishes grave breaches of Geneva as war crimes. The Bush administration is committing war crimes with its use of these weapons.

"Operation Iraqi Freedom" unleashed a tragedy of immense proportion. More than 3,000 American soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed. Close to 7,000 Iraqi civilians were killed in July and August 2006 alone. In October 2006, the British medical journal the Lancet published a study conducted by Iraqi physicians with oversight by epidemiologists at Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health.  The study estimated that 655,000 Iraqi civilians had died since Bush invaded Iraq in March 2003.

Loss of life isn’t the only shocking and awful consequence of “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” The United Nations concluded in its July-August 2006 report that bodies found “often bear signs of severe torture, including acid-induced injuries and burns caused by chemical substances, missing skin, broken bones (back, hands and legs), missing eyes, missing teeth and wounds caused by power drills or nails."

Furthermore, “Operation Iraqi Freedom” has led to anti-American sentiment elsewhere.  According to a declassified portion of the April 2006 National Intelligence Estimate, which represents the consensus of the 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, "The Iraq conflict has become the 'cause celebre' for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of U.S. involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement."  The report concludes, "The Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives."

The Greatest Menace of Our Times

The Nuremberg Charter defines “Crimes Against Peace” as “planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances, or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing.” Bush’s war on Iraq is a war of aggression, and thus constitutes a Crime Against Peace.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson was the chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg Tribunal. In his opening statement in 1945, Justice Jackson wrote, “No political, military, economic, or other considerations shall serve as an excuse or justification” for a war of aggression. “If certain acts in violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would be unwilling to have invoked against us.”     

Following the Holocaust, the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg called the waging of aggressive war "essentially an evil thing . . . To initiate a war of aggression . . . is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." Justice Jackson labeled the crime of aggression "the greatest menace of our times." Over 50 years later, his words still ring true in Iraq.

 

Pope Francis and the Dirty War

March 19th, 2013 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Translation of an article from Página 12 of Buenos Aires for March 17, 2013 (Global Research Spanish page) 

Original Pagina 12 article (Spanish)

The first press conference Pope Francis’ spokesman gave was for the purpose of detaching him from Jorge Mario Bergoglio, accused of turning two priests over to the ESMA [Escuela de Mecánica de la Armada]. Since the statements and the documents are incontestable, the method chosen was to discredit those who circulated them, characterizing this newspaper as leftist. The traditions were followed: it is the same thing that Bergoglio said about Jalics and Yorio to those who kidnapped them.

In his first meeting with the press after the election of the Jesuit Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope of the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church, his spokesman, Federico Lombardi, also a Jesuit, dismissed as old calumnies of the anti-clerical Left, spread by a newspaper characterized by defamatory campaigns, the allegations on the performance of the former provincial of the Company of Jesus during the Argentine dictatorship and, especially, the role he played in the disappearance of two priests under him, Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics. Argentine opposition media and politicians at the same time included the article “Un Ersatz,” published in this paper the day after the papal election, among Kirchnerista reactions to Bergoglio’s enthronement. In addition, a sector of the governing party chose to acclaim him as “Argentine and Peronista,” the same slogan with which José Rucci is remembered every September, and to deny the incontestable facts.

The reconciliation

From Germany, where Jalics lives in retirement in a monastery, the German Jesuit provincial said that the priest had been reconciled with Bergoglio. The aged Jalics, now 85 years old, declared on the other hand that he felt reconciled with “those events, which are a closed matter for me.” But he said nevertheless that he would not comment on Bergoglio’s actions in the case. For Catholics, reconciliation is a sacrament. In the words of one of the major Argentine theologians, Carmelo Giaquinta, it consists of “pardoning others from the heart for offenses received,” by which is meant only that Jalics has forgiven the harm they did to him. That says more about him than about Bergoglio. Jalics does not deny the facts, which he recounted in his 1994 book Ejercicios de Meditación:

“Many people who held political convictions on the extreme right looked unfavorably on our presence in the slums. They interpreted the fact that we would live there as support for the guerrilla and they proposed denouncing us as terrorists. We knew which way the wind was blowing and who was responsible for these calumnies. So I went to speak with the person in question and I explained to him that he was playing with our lives. The man promised me that he would let the military know that we were not terrorists. From later statements by an officer and 30 documents I had access to later, we were able to prove without a doubt that this man had not kept his promise but that, on the contrary, he had given a false denunciation to the military.”

In another part of the book, he adds that that person made

“the denunciation credible by the weight of his authority” and “testified to the officials who kidnapped us that we had worked at the scene of terrorist activity. Shortly before that I had told that person that he was playing with our lives. He must have been aware that he was sending us to a certain death with his statements.”

In a letter he wrote in Rome in November, 1977, to the assistant general of the Company of Jesus, Father Moura, Orlando Yorio gives the same account but replacing “a person” with “Jorge Mario Bergoglio.” Nine years before Mignone’s book and 17 years before Jalics’, Yorio tells how Jalics spoke twice with the provincial, who “made a commitment to stop the rumors within the company and to go forward to speak with people in the armed forces to give witness of our innocence.”

He also mentions the criticism that was circulating in the Company of Jesus against him and Jalics: “Making strange prayers, living with women, heresies, commitment to the guerrilla.” Jalics also tells in his book how in 1980 he burned the documents proving what he calls “the offense” of his persecutors.

Until then, he had held on to them with the secret intention of using them. “Since then I feel truly free and I can say that I have forgiven with all my heart.” In 1990, during one of his visits to this country, Jalics met with Emilio Fermín Mignone and his wife, Angélica Sosa, at the Instituto Fe y Oración at 2760 Oro Street. He told them that

“Bergoglio opposed his staying in Argentina once he had been freed and spoke with all the bishops about not accepting him in ther dioceses if he should resign from the Company of Jesus.”

All of this is told not by Página/12 but by Orlando Jorio and Francisco Jalics.

So who wants to destroy the church? Every volume of my Historia Política de la Iglesia en la Argentina includes a warning:

“These pages do not contain value judgements on the dogma or the cult of the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church but an analysis of its behavior in Argentina between 1976 and 1983 as ‘sociological reality of a concrete people in a concrete world,’ by the terms of its own Episcopal Conference. On the other hand, its ‘theological reality of the mystery’ belongs only to the believers, who deserve all my respect.”

In defense of tradition

The characterization of this newspaper by Bergoglio’s spokesman as of the anti-clerical Left shows the continuity of deep rooted traditions. It is the same as the man now pontiff made 37 years ago about his priests, although then it carried a serious danger. The accusations against Bergoglio were made for the first time before Página/12 existed. The author was Mignone, director of Antorcha, the official organ of Acción Católica, founder of the Unión Federal Demócrata Cristiana and vice minister of education in the province of Buenos Aires and in the nation. He could not have attained any of these positions without an espiscopal blessing. In his 1986 book Iglesia y Dictatura, Mignone wrote that the military cleaned “the inner patio of the church, with the aquiesence of the prelates.”

The vice president of the Conferencia Episcopal, Vicente Zazpe, revealed to him that shortly after the coup the church made an agreement with the military junta that before arresting a priest the armed forces would notify the respective bishop. Mignone wrote that “on some occasions the green light was given by the bishops themselves” and that the navy interpreted the withdrawal of licenses from Yorio and Jalics and the “shows of criticism by their Jesuit provincial, Jorge Bergoglio, as authorization to proceed.” Mignone believes Bergoglio is one of the “pastors who turned their sheep over to the enemy without defending them or rescuing them.”

Two decades later I found by chance the documentary proof that Mignone did not know about and that confirm his version of the case. That Bergoglio may have aided others who were being persecuted is not a contradiction: Pio Laghi and even Adolfo Tortolo and Victorio Bonamin did the same.

Cronus

The case was delved into in these pages four year before Kirchner came to power. The first article, “Con el mazo dando,” published in April, 1999, said that the brand new archbishop of Buenos Aires, “according to which source is consulted, is either the most generous and intelligent man ever to say mass in Argentina or a Machiavellian felon who betrayed his brothers for the sake of an insatiable thirst for power.

The explanation may lie in the fact that Bergoglio brings together two traits that don’t always go together: he is an extreme conservative in matters of dogma and he possesses an obvious social concern. In both respects, he resembles the person who placed him at the head of the principal diocese of the country, Pope Karol Wojtyla.” The concept is the same as the one I expressed on Thursday when the heavenly white puff of smoke moved all the faithful, from La Quiaca to Tierra del Fuego. That article set Mignone’s version against that of Alicia Oliveira, attorney will CELS [Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales] and a friend of Bergoglio’s, whose sister worked in the slum of Flores, together with Mignone’s daughter and the two priests. “He told them they had to straighten up and they didn’t pay any attention to him.

When they kidnapped them, Jorge found out that the navy had them and he went to talk to Massera, whom he told that if he didn’t release the two priests, ‘ I, as provincial, will denounce what happened.’ The next day they were freed.” It also included the refutation of a priest of the Company of Jesus:

“The navy did not get involved with anybody in the church who didn’t bother the church. The Company did not have a prophetic or denouncing role, in contrast with the Palotinos or the Pasionistas, because Bergoglio had ties with Massera. It is not only the cases of Yorio, Jalics and Mónica Mignone, about whose kidnappings the Company never made public denunciations. Two other priests, Luis Dourrón, who later left the priesthood, and Enrique Rastellini, were also active in Lower Flores. Bergoglio asked them to get out of there and when they refused he let the military know that he was no longer protecting them and with that wink they kidnapped them.”

That priest, who died six years ago, was Juan Luis Moyano Walker, who had been a close friend of Bergoglio’s.

Because of the article, Bergoglio offered me his own version of events, in which he appears as a super-hero. Both he and Jalics, whom I telephoned at his German retreat, asked me to attribute their statements to a priest close to both of them. Bergoglio said that he saw [Jorge Rafael] Videla twice and Massera twice. At the first meeting with each of them, both told him they didn’t know what had happened and that they were going to find out. “At the second meeting, Massera was annoyed with this 37-year-old kid who dared to insist.” According to Bergoglio, they had this dialogue:

“’I’ve already told [Archbishop Adolfo Servando] Tortolo what I knew,’ Massera said.

“’Monsignor Tortolo,’ Bergoglio corrected him.

“’Look, Bergoglio…,’ Massera began, annoyed over the correction.

“’Look, Massera..,’ Bergoglio responded in the same tone before repeating that he knew where the priests were and demanding their release.”

I limited myself to transcribing what Bergoglio said, with the attributions that he asked for. But to this day that dialogue does not seem believable to me, with one of the most powerful and cruel officials, who, with no hesitation, would have had him disappeared. They both had in common a relation with the Guardia de Hierro, the rightist Peronist group in which Bergoglio was active in his youth and which Massera named as a mediator beginning at the time of the coup, with the purpose of adding it to his campaign for Peronista heritage.

In 1977 the Universidad Jesuítica del Salvador took on as honorary professor Massera, who objected to Marx, Freud and Einstein for questioning the inviolable character of private property, for attacking the “sacred space of personal privilege” and for imperiling the “static and inert condition of the material.”

Massera suggested that the university was “the instrument best suited to initiating a counteroffensive” from the west, as though Marx, Freud and Einstein were not a part of that tradition. Bergoglio was very careful in climbing on the dais that day, so that no one has seen a photo of him with Massera.

But it is unimaginable that the dictator would have received that distinction without the ceremony being authorized by the Jesuit provincial, who delegated daily management to a civil association led by the Guardia de Hierro but retained its spiritual guidance. Then Massera was invited to lecture at the Jesuit university of Georgetown, in Washington. The Irish priest Patrick Rice, who could leave Argentina after being kidnapped and beaten, interrupted that conference by demanding an explanation for the crimes of the dictatorship. According to Rice, the United States provincial would not have invited such a personage without the approval, or the request, of the Argentine provincial. These demonstable facts contradict the fantasy dialogue in which the young Bergoglio defies the head of the ESMA.

A Christian death

In 1995, a year after Jalics’ book, El Vuelo was published, in which naval Commander Adolfo Scilingo confesses that he threw 30 people who were still alive into the sea from airplanes belonging to the navy and the prefecture after drugging them. He says as well that that method was approved by the ecclesiastical hierarchy because they considered flight a Christian way of dying, and that the navy chaplains consoled those who returned upset from those missions with the biblical parable on the separation of the chaff from the wheat.

Impressed, I took up again an investigation I had begun years earlier on the island of El Silencio, in Tigre [a town in Buenos Aires province], in which the navy hid 60 detainees so that the Inter-American Human Rights Commission would not find them at the ESMA.

It was the property of the archbishop of Buenos Aires and there departing seminarians celebrated their graduations every year and Cardinal Juan Aramburu rested on the weekends. The Priest Emilio Grasselli had sold it to the ESMA task group, who bought it with a false document in the name of one of their prisoners. But I had not seen the property titles until Bergoglio gave me the precise data on the inheritance papers for Antonio Arbelaiz, the bachelor administrator of the Curia that was listed as owner.

This shows that it had no relation with that episode. Arbelaiz testified in favor of the Curia, which is where the money that the navy paid Grasselli for the island ended up, where the 60 prisoners spent two months in chains. It seems like a typical route for a laundering operation: Arbelaiz sells to Grasselli who sells to the ESMA which buys it with a false document and the mortgage is raised by paying the Curia, which is Arbelaiz’s heir. In one of his judicial testimonies Bergoglio admits that he spoke with me about the kidnapping of Yorio and Jalics. But he said that he never heard the El Silencio island being talked about. Always the double game, the private admission and the public denial.

By the sword

During the investigation I found by chance in the archives of the Foreign Affairs Ministry a folder with documents that, in my view, put an end to the discussion of Bergoglio’s role in relation to Yorio and Jalics. I looked for a clerk, who certified its location in the archives, whose director at the time, minister Carlos Dellepiane, kept them in a safe to protect them from being stolen or destroyed. The story that folder tells sounds familiar. Upon being freed in November, 1976, Jalics left for Germany.

His passport had expired in 1979 and Bergoglio asked the ministry to renew it without his returning to the country. The director of the Culto Católico in the ministry, Anselmo Orcoyen, recommended the request be rejected “because of the petitioner’s historical antecedents,” which were supplied to him “by Father Bergoglio himself, the signer of the note, with a special recommendation that what he requested not be granted.” He said that Jalics had conflicts over obedience and corrupting activity in feminine religious congregations, and that the was “detained” in ESMA together with Yorio, “suspected of guerrilla contacts.” That is, the same charges made about him by Yorio and Jalics (and that many priests and laymen that I interviewed corroborated): while he seemed to aid them, Bergoglio was turning them in behind their backs. It is clear that this act in 1979 is not sufficient to convict him legally of the 1976 kidnapping.

The document signed by Orcoyen was not even made part of the folder, but it traces out a line of conduct. Adding the director of the Culto Católico of the dictatorship to a conspiracy against the church would be too much. Therefore, Bergoglio and his spokesman are silent about these documents and choose to dismiss those who found them, preserved them and published them.

After a 10 year war/occupation in Iraq, the death of over a million people including thousands of US soldiers, all based on patently false claims of the nation possessing “weapons of mass destruction,” (WMDs), it is outrageous hypocrisy to see the West arming, funding, and politically backing terrorists in Syria who in fact both possess, and are now using such weapons against the Syrian people.

At least 25 are reported dead after a chemical weapons attack targeting Syrian soldiers was carried out by NATO-backed terrorists in the northern city of Aleppo.

Aleppo is located near the Syrian-Turkish border. Had Libya’s looted stockpiles of chemical weapons been shipped to Syria, they would have passed through Turkey along with weapons sent from Libya by the US and thousands of Libyan terrorists who are admittedly operating inside Syria, and would most likely be used to target cities like Aleppo.

Worse yet, any chemical weapons imported into the country would implicate NATO either directly or through gross negligence, as the weapons would have passed through NATO-member Turkey, past US CIA agents admittedly operating along the border and along side Western-backed terrorists inside Syria.

Libya’s WMD’s are in Terrorist Hands

Libya’s arsenal had fallen into the hands of sectarian extremists with NATO assistance in 2011 during the culmination of efforts to overthrow the North African nation . Since then, Libya’s militants led by commanders of Al Qaeda’s Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) have armed sectarian extremists across the Arab World, from as far West as Mali, to as far East as Syria.

In addition to small arms, heavier weapons are also making their way through this extensive network. The Washington Post in their article, “Libyan missiles on the loose,” reported:

“Two former CIA counterterrorism officers told me last week that technicians recently refurbished 800 of these man-portable air-defense systems (known as MANPADS) — some for an African jihadist group called Boko Haram that is often seen as an ally of al-Qaeda — for possible use against commercial jets flying into Niger, Chad and perhaps Nigeria.”

While undoubtedly these weapons are also headed to Niger, Chad, and perhaps Nigeria, they are veritably headed to Syria. Libyan LIFG terrorists are confirmed to be flooding into Syria from Libya. In November 2011, the Telegraph in their article, “Leading Libyan Islamist met Free Syrian Army opposition group,” would report:

Abdulhakim Belhadj, head of the Tripoli Military Council and the former leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, “met with Free Syrian Army leaders in Istanbul and on the border with Turkey,” said a military official working with Mr Belhadj. “Mustafa Abdul Jalil (the interim Libyan president) sent him there.”

Another Telegraph article, “Libya’s new rulers offer weapons to Syrian rebels,” would admit

Syrian rebels held secret talks with Libya’s new authorities on Friday, aiming to secure weapons and money for their insurgency against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

At the meeting, which was held in Istanbul and included Turkish officials, the Syrians requested “assistance” from the Libyan representatives and were offered arms, and potentially volunteers.
“There is something being planned to send weapons and even Libyan fighters to Syria,” said a Libyan source, speaking on condition of anonymity. “There is a military intervention on the way. Within a few weeks you will see.”

Later that month, some 600 Libyan terrorists would be reported to have entered Syria to begin combat operations and have been flooding into the country ever since.

 

Image: Libyan Mahdi al-Harati of the US State Department, United Nations, and the UK Home Office (page 5, .pdf)-listed terrorist organization, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), addressing fellow terrorists in Syria. Harati is now commanding a Libyan brigade operating inside of Syria attempting to destroy the Syrian government and subjugate the Syrian population. Traditionally, this is known as “foreign invasion.” 

….

Washington Post’s reported “loose missiles” in Libya are now turning up on the battlefield in Syria. While outfits like the Guardian, in their article “Arms and the Manpads: Syrian rebels get anti-aircraft missiles,” are reporting the missiles as being deployed across Syria, they have attempted to downplay any connection to Libya’s looted arsenal and the Al Qaeda terrorists that have imported them. In contrast, Times has published open admissions from terrorists themselves admitting they are receiving heavy weapons including surface-to-air missiles from Libya.

In Time’s article, “Libya’s Fighters Export Their Revolution to Syria,” it is reported:

Some Syrians are more frank about the assistance the Libyans are providing. “They have heavier weapons than we do,” notes Firas Tamim, who has traveled in rebel-controlled areas to keep tabs on foreign fighters. “They brought these weapons to Syria, and they are being used on the front lines.” Among the arms Tamim has seen are Russian-made surface-to-air missiles, known as the SAM 7.

Libyan fighters largely brush off questions about weapon transfers, but in December they claimed they were doing just that. “We are in the process of collecting arms in Libya,” a Libyan fighter in Syria told the French daily Le Figaro. “Once this is done, we will have to find a way to bring them here.”

Clearly NATO’s intervention in Libya has left a vast, devastating arsenal in the hands of sectarian extremists, led by US State Department, United Nations, and the UK Home Office (page 5, .pdf)-listed terrorist organization LIFG, that is now exporting these weapons and militants to NATO’s other front in Syria. It is confirmed that both Libyan terrorists and weapons are crossing the Turkish-Syrian border, with NATO assistance, and it is now clear that heavy weapons, including anti-aircraft weapons have crossed the border too.

The Guardian reported in their November 2011 article, “Libyan chemical weapons stockpiles intact, say inspectors,” that:

Libya’s stockpiles of mustard gas and chemicals used to make weapons are intact and were not stolen during the uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi, weapons inspectors have said.

But also reported that:
The abandonment or disappearance of some Gaddafi-era weapons has prompted concerns that such firepower could erode regional security if it falls into the hands of Islamist militants or rebels active in north Africa. Some fear they could be used by Gaddafi loyalists to spread instability in Libya.
Last month Human Rights Watch urged Libya’s ruling national transitional council to take action over large numbers of heavy weapons, including surface-to-air missiles, it said were lying unguarded more than two months after Gaddafi was overthrown.On Wednesday the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said the UN would send experts to Libya to help ensure nuclear material and chemical weapons did not fall into the wrong hands.

And while inspectors claim that Libya’s chemical weapons are in the “government’s” hands and not “extremists’,” it is clear by the Libyan government’s own admission, that they themselves are involved in sending fighters and weapons into Syria.

It remains to be seen where these chemical weapons came from. Should they appear to be from Libya’s arsenal, NATO, especially the US and Turkey, would be implicated in supplying Al Qaeda terrorists with WMDs, the very scenario the West has been paralyzed in fear over for the past 10 years, has given up its liberties, and spilled the blood of thousands of its soldiers to prevent.

The implications of Western-backed terrorists using chemical weapons, regardless of their origin, has cost the West its already floundering legitimacy, jeopardized its institutions, and has further shook the confidence of the many shareholders invested in them – politically, financially, industrially, and strategically. Such shareholders would be wise to begin looking for exits and cultivating alternatives outside the Wall Street-London international order.

Remembering Rachel Corrie

March 19th, 2013 by Stephen Lendman

Rachel represented the best of courageous activism. She put her body on the line for justice. She did so because it matters. She’s gone but not forgotten.

Ten years ago on March 16, an Israeli bulldozer driver murdered her in cold blood. She tried stopping a Rafah refugee camp home demolition.

Eye witnesses said she climbed atop a giant Caterpillar tractor. They’re designed to destroy homes. They’re weapons of mass destruction. Caterpillar’s complicit in Israeli crimes.

Rachel spoke to the driver. She climbed down. She knelt 10 – 20 meters in front. She blocked its path with her body. She was in clear view.

The tractor lurched forward. Activists screamed for it to stop. The soldier-operator pressed on. He crushed Rachel to death.

He ran over her twice. He remains unaccountable. Rachel’s family wants justice. So should everyone.

The Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace & Justice (RCFPJ) supports it. Its mission and guiding principles state:

The Foundation continues what Rachel began. It reflects “her vision, spirit, and creative energy….”

“It supports “build(ing) understanding, respect, and appreciation for differences, and that promote cooperation within and between local and global communities.”

“The foundation encourages and supports grassroots efforts in pursuit of human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice, which we view as pre-requisites for world peace.”

Its guiding principles include:

  • challenging injustice and resisting oppression;
  • teaching justice and peacemaking skills;
  • advancing “human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice for all….;”
  • seeking creative ways to achieve these goals; and
  • committing to people and places the way Rachel did, especially those most disadvantaged and repressed.

Rachel was 23 when murdered. She believed in nonviolent direct action. She supported oppressed Palestinians. It became her life’s struggle. She gave it doing what’s right. What greater sacrifice than that!

In her own words, she said:

“I’m here for other children.

I’m here because I care.

I’m here because children everywhere are suffering and because forty thousand people die each day from hunger.

I’m here because those people are mostly children.

We have got to understand that they dream our dreams and we dream theirs.

We have got to understand that they are us. We are them.

My dream is to stop hunger by the year 2000.

My dream is to give the poor a chance.

My dream is to save the 40,000 people who die each day.

My dream can and will come true if we all look into the future and see the light that shines there.

If we ignore hunger, that light will go out.

If we all help and work together, it will grow and burn free with the potential of tomorrow.”

Her dedication and humility came out in comments like “I can’t be Picasso. I can’t be Jesus. I can’t save the planet single-handedly. I can wash dishes.”

Cindy and Craig are Rachel’s parents. Their struggle for justice continues. It’s long denied.

On March 16, they thanked people everywhere for support. Worldwide observances remembered Rachel. Activists did across America.

They did so in Argentina, Canada, France, Italy, Malaysia, Scotland, Turkey, Occupied Palestine and elsewhere.

Rachel was an International Solidarity Movement (ISM) volunteer. On March 16, ISM remembered her courage. It quoted her saying:

“I feel like I’m witnessing the systematic destruction of a people’s ability to survive. It’s horrifying.”

“Sometimes I sit down to dinner with people and I realize there is a massive military machine surrounding us, trying to kill the people I’m having dinner with.”

She’s remembered with love. New generations won’t forget her. She symbolizes what’s right. She inspires others to continue her struggle.

Mondoweiss contributor Phan Nguyen remembered her. On March 16, 2003, he was home when he heard what happened. “Rachel’s dead,” he was told.

She traveled to Rafah. She did so to make a difference. She got ISM training. She was prepared for the unexpected. She died two months after arriving. An official Israeli statement called it an “accident.”

An Israeli court said:

“It is clear the death of Ms Corrie was not caused as a result of a direct action by the bulldozer or by its running her over.”

“(She) was not run over by an engineering vehicle but rather was struck by a hard object, most probably a slab of concrete which was moved or slid down while the mound of earth which she was standing behind was moved.”

Eye witnesses said otherwise. It was cold-blooded murder. Rachel was a committed activist. She was an anti-war movement organizer. Israel and the mainstream media blamed her for her death. They did so cynically and maliciously.

She provided material support to terrorists, they claimed.

She put herself in harm’s way. She did so because it mattered.

On the 10th anniversary of her death, Rachel’s parents called for a “thorough, credible, transparent investigation.”

They want America’s military, political and economic support ended. They want truth and justice for “all civilians killed or maimed by US-funded weapons.”

Israeli ruthlessness is policy. Occupation harshness reflects it. Obama supports Israel’s worst crimes. So do nearly all congressional members.

Nothing ahead suggests change. Righteous struggle continues. It does so unabated. Rachel gave her life trying. Likeminded activists risks theirs. Liberating Palestine matters.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/remembering-rachel-corrie/

A decade after the American-led invasion of Iraq, the U.S. is once again preparing to set the Middle East ablaze.  In fact, President Obama will touch down in Tel Aviv ten years to the day “shock and awe” was first unleashed for what appears to be little more than a war summit with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

According to the Guardian, Netanyahu plans on using the president’s trip “to try to persuade the US to carry out air strikes on Syria if there is evidence that Syrian missiles are to be handed over to Hezbollah in Lebanon, or at least to give full support to Israeli military action to prevent the transfer.”  Tel Aviv, the paper adds, wants U.S. support for more preemptive Israeli strikes “even if they risk provoking a cross-border conflict with Hezbollah.”

Back in the U.S., meanwhile, similar domestic pressure continues to build for an escalated level of U.S. intervention into the Syrian conflict.

On Monday, New York Representative Eliot Engel, a fierce Israel supporter, introduced a bill calling on the Obama administration to directly arm and train the Syrian opposition.  Of course, the U.S. is already training Syrian rebels in Jordan, and is providing at least tacit approval of arms shipments.

Additional reports, however, have also revealed that the U.S. has begun collecting intelligence for future drone strikes against Islamic extremists fighting inside Syria.  Moreover, the CIA is reportedly stepping up its aid to Iraqi counter-terrorism forces fighting the spillover of Islamic extremists from Syria.  As Robert Dreyfuss commented, this dual policy of both aiding and targeting the Syrian opposition appears rather bizarre.

“[A]s the United States ramps up its aid to Syria’s rag-tag rebels, whose backbone is comprised of radical Islamists and Sunni fundamentalists, some with ties to Al Qaeda,” Dreyfuss writes, “the CIA is busily engaged in combat inside Iraq with the very same radical Islamists and Sunni fundamentalists, some with ties to Al Qaeda.”

Such a strategy is only truly bizarre, though, if one assumes the Obama administration is actually seeking a resolution to the Syrian conflict.  It is only bizarre if one ignores the possibility that working to stoke the war may just in fact be Washington’s strategy.  After all, short of installing a client regime in Damascus, the destruction of Syria as a sovereign state and significant player in regional politics is the next best hope for the U.S.  And this goes for Israel, as well.  In fact, the weakening of the Syrian army by the prolonged conflict has already come to be cheered in Tel Aviv.

But the U.S.-Israel war summit won’t be limited to Syria; for in the end, what’s a war summit without Iran?

Indeed, as the Guardian reports, “Obama will also come under Israeli pressure to lower the US threshold for military action against Iran.”  A process the U.S. Senate, with the help of the pro-Israel lobby, has already begun.

Undoubtedly anticipating such pressure, Obama sought last week to appease the war hawks by effectively providing a deadline for attacking Iran.

Speaking to Israeli media on Thursday, Obama stated that, “Right now, we think that it would take over a year or so for Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon.”  A rather dubious claim, given that a mere week prior saw the U.S. National Intelligence Director James Clapper reaffirm that “we do not know if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.”

The president’s suspect time frame, as Kaveh Afrasiabi notes, is also “a potentially dangerous gambit,” seemingly aimed at furthering the current stalemate between the U.S. and Iran at the very time nuclear negations appear to be progressing.  Of course, such a gambit also serves to make war all the more likely.  As Afrasiabi writes, “That is a distinct possibility that Obama, who is at present playing brinksmanship with Iran, should be wary of.  All he needs to do is to remind himself of the precious lessons of the US$2 trillion Iraq war.”

But the limits of American power evidenced in the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan are lost on a president who has overseen the expansion the U.S. drone war from the Swat Valley of Pakistan to the Gulf of Aden and the African Sahel.  The man who rode his measured opposition to the Iraq war to the Democratic nomination in 2008 has simply never shown any real aversion to war while serving in the Oval Office.  As the president prefers to incessantly intone, “all options are on the table.”

It’s thus little wonder to learn that according to “senior American and Israel officials” cited by the Israeli daily Haaretz, “Obama is undergoing a maturation process regarding the possibility that diplomatic efforts aimed at Iran could fail, and he might have to order a strike against Iranian nuclear facilities.”  The “U.S. military brass is undergoing a similar process,” the paper adds.

Of course, the Western measure on which diplomacy with Iran is ultimately judged to be a success or not is limited to whether Tehran is brought to its knees.  Such a warped view of diplomacy, needless to say, invariably leads to war.

It’s clear, then, that the American defeat in Iraq has done little to deter U.S. imperial dreams in the Middle East.  For on a grim anniversary which should have sent the U.S. president on a conciliatory visit to Baghdad with reparations for the Iraqi people, instead sees the president off to Israel to confer with Tel Aviv on the next American war in the Middle East.  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Ben Schreiner is a freelance writer based in Wisconsin.  He may be reached at [email protected] or via his website.

The terms attached to the European Union (EU) finance ministers’ bailout for Cypriot banks triggered heavy losses on financial markets that were lessened only on the basis of an expected climb-down.

A vote in Cyprus’s parliament was first postponed from Sunday until Monday, and then until today, as it remained uncertain if President Nikos Anastasiades could win majority backing for the plan. In a statement on national television Saturday, he declared that Nicosia had no other alternative but to accept the terms of the programme if the country was to avert a full financial collapse. He compared the current crisis to the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974, which led to partition.

The current version of the plan will see around 10 billion euros ($13 billion) made available to the island’s banks, and close to a further €6 billion raised through a tax on banking deposits. Accounts with a balance of less than €100,000 were to be taxed at 6.75 per cent, while those with more than that amount faced a 9.9 per cent charge.

With banks closed, depositors emptied ATMs over the weekend. The terms of the bailout met near universal hostility from widely varying layers of the population. Banks due to open today after a bank holiday are to remain closed until Thursday to prevent further panic withdrawals.

Accounts differ as to who proposed what in discussions leading up to the EU decision to levy a tax on small investors. The Cypriot government blamed Berlin, which countered that it was Cyprus that decided to levy a tax on small investors after rejecting suggestions of a bigger tax—up to 40 percent—on those with over €100,000 in Cypriot banks.

In either event, the terms agreed represented a breach of existing guarantees that small investors are safeguarded from the consequences of the banks’ bad practices.

Berlin’s portrayal of the measure as a policy targeting Russian oligarchs using Cyprus as a tax shelter did nothing to lessen public outrage.

Long-running negotiations over a bailout for banks controlling assets worth more than eight times GDP have brought divisions between the European powers to the fore. The key measures in the bailout were dictated by the German government, which was unwilling to play the main role in funding a full-scale bailout. Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble pushed for the bank deposit tax, as well as the demand that Cyprus increase its corporation tax from 10 to 12.5 percent.

These measures, which will contribute approximately 40 percent of the overall cost, are aimed at strengthening Berlin’s position against Russian and—to a lesser extent—British investors. Russian investors control a total of €19 billion of bank deposits in Cyprus, equating to 7 percent of all Russian corporate deposits. The island has become the second-largest source of foreign direct investment into Russia, as many companies have set up bases there to take advantage of low corporate tax rates.

Britain, the former colonial power, views Cyprus as a strategic location and maintains a military presence on the island with around 3,000 troops. Approximately €2 billion of bank deposits are controlled by Britons, around 30,000 of whom live there.

Behind calls for a struggle against “money-laundering” and funds from the “black market”, which were embraced by the opposition Social Democrats as well as the Merkel government, one aim of the bailout was to undermine the position of Russian and British investors. President Vladimir Putin denounced the measure as “unjust, unprofessional and dangerous.”

However, the levy also ensures that working people in Cyprus are made to bear the costs for the bailout of the country’s failed financial institutions. In reality, the oligarchs and the wealthy have far greater ability to withdraw their funds than Cypriots, Greeks and other smaller investors—unless Cyprus were to take the extraordinary decision to impose capital controls.

In January, €43 billion of the €68 billion in Cypriot bank deposits was held by domestic residents, with a further five billion held by Greeks.

Some within the bourgeoisie supported the notion of making Russia pay, but most considered the taxing of small investors a political disaster, fearing that both measures raised grave dangers.

The decision to seize investors’ money overnight could provoke a bank run in other European countries—with savers in Spain, Portugal or Italy fearing the possibility that money may also be removed from their accounts in the future. Cyprus is a warning of what might happen. In the first two weeks of February alone, $1 billion in deposits were removed from banks in Cyprus, as speculation grew that the tax would be imposed.

Greek financial commentator Yiannis Mouzakis wrote, “Deposits flight combined with the sale of the Greek operations will probably leave the Cypriot banking system half the size it was on Friday night, even left with one systemic bank after restructuring.”

If this were to be repeated in other struggling countries the potential for devastating contagion is incalculable.

Germany’s media was filled with dire warnings.

D ie Welt asked, “Who can say that at some point the Cyprus model will not be used by banks in Italy or Spain? And that bank customers could lose far more than 10 percent?”

Süddeutsche Zeitung wrote, “Banks closed, money gone, confidence destroyed. The last taboo of the euro crisis has been broken, and it’s now reaching directly into savings accounts… The crisis surrounding the euro has unexpectedly reached a new level of escalation.”

Handelsblatt declared, “Cyprus sets a precedent. What happens there can also happen elsewhere. In Spain and Ireland, bank bailouts have allowed the national debt to explode to an unsustainable level. There, the euro zone could see tapping into bank accounts as the next step. In principle, no European depositor can remain assured that their bank balance will remain untouched—even in Germany.”

Jean-Claude Juncker, the prime minister of Luxembourg and head of the 17-nation euro group, told AFP: “I have grave concerns that this will lead to a loss of confidence, not just from the banks but also from the people.”

With so much at stake, some rejigging of the terms of the bailout may well be made before it is re-presented today. But, as with all such “bailouts”, only the bankers and the super-rich benefit, while the working class is made to suffer.

The Cyprus bailout, like those for Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland, is conditional on the launching of a vast austerity programme, including privatisations, which will lead to the elimination of jobs in the public sector and the destruction of social services. A public sector strike took place a day prior to the EU finance ministers’ announcement, involving up to 16,000 state employees. It was called against wage freezes and budget cutting.

Paul Krugman of the New York Times commented that the levy on investors “is just the beginning! Even with the effective default on deposits, Cyprus will need a huge loan from the troika, and the condition for this loan will be harsh austerity. This looks like the beginning of endless, inconceivable pain.”