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    Default War of Terror - War on Islam

    The Terrorism Industry
    Terrorism Defined


    Probably no word better defines or underscores the Bush presidency than "terrorism" even though his administration wasn't the first to exploit this highly charged term. We use to explain what "they do to us" to justify what we "do to them," or plan to, always deceitfully couched in terms of humanitarian intervention, promoting democracy, or bringing other people the benefits of western civilization Gandhi thought would be a good idea when asked once what he thought about it.

    Ronald Reagan exploited it in the 1980s to declare "war on international terrorism" referring to it as the "scourge of terrorism" and "the plague of the modern age." It was clear he had in mind launching his planned Contra proxy war of terrorism against the democratically elected Sandinista government in Nicaragua and FMLN opposition resistance to the US-backed El Salvador fascist regime the same way George Bush did it waging his wars of aggression post-9/11.

    It's a simple scheme to pull off, and governments keep using it because it always works. Scare the public enough, and they'll go along with almost anything thinking it's to protect their safety when, in fact, waging wars of aggression and state-sponsored violence have the opposite effect. The current Bush wars united practically the entire world against us including an active resistance increasingly targeting anything American.

    George Orwell knew about the power of language before the age of television and the internet enhanced it exponentially. He explained how easy "doublethink" and "newspeak" can convince us "war is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength." He also wrote "All war propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from (chicken hawk) people who are not fighting (and) Big Brother is watching...." us to be sure we get the message and obey it.

    In 1946, Orwell wrote about "Politics and the English Language" saying "In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defence of the indefensible" to hide what its user has in mind. So "defenseless villages are bombarded from the air (and) this is called 'pacification'." And the president declares a "war on terrorism" that's, in fact, a "war of terrorism" against designated targets, always defenseless against it, because with adversaries able to put up a good fight, bullies, like the US, opt for diplomacy or other political and economic means, short of open conflict.

    The term "terrorism" has a long history, and reference to a "war on terrorism" goes back a 100 years or more. Noted historian Howard Zinn observed how the phrase is a contradiction in terms as "How can you make war on terrorism, if war is terrorism (and if) you respond to terrorism with (more) terrorism....you multiply (the amount of) terrorism in the world." Zinn explains that "Governments are terrorists on an enormously large scale," and when they wage war the damage caused infinitely exceeds anything individuals or groups can inflict.

    It's also clear that individual or group "terrorist" acts are crimes, not declarations or acts of war. So a proper response to the 9/11 perpetrators was a police one, not an excuse for the Pentagon to attack other nations having nothing to do with it.

    George Bush's "war on terrorism" began on that fateful September day when his administration didn't miss a beat stoking the flames of fear with a nation in shock ready to believe almost anything - true, false or in between. And he did it thanks to the hyped enormity of the 9/11 event manipulated for maximum political effect for the long-planned aggressive imperial adventurism his hard line administration had in mind only needing "a catastrophic and catalyzing (enough) event - like a new Pearl Harbor" to lauch. With plans drawn and ready, the president and key administration officials terrified the public with visions of terrorism branded and rebranded as needed from the war on it, to the global war on it (GLOT), to the long war on it, to a new name coming soon to re-ignite a flagging public interest in and growing disillusionment over two foreign wars gone sour and lost.

    Many writers, past and present, have written on terrorism with their definitions and analyses of it. The views of four noted political and social critics are reviewed below, but first an official definition to frame what follows.

    How the US Code Defines Terrorism

    Under the US Code, "international terrorism" includes activities involving:

    (A) "violent acts or acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or of any State;"

    (B) are intended to -

    (i) "intimidate or coerce a civilian population;

    (ii) influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or

    (iii) affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and

    (C) occur primarily outside the territorial jurisdiction of the United States...."

    The US Army Operational Concept for Terrorism (TRADOC Pamphlet No. 525-37, 1984) shortens the above definition to be "the calculated use of violence or threat of violence to attain goals that are political, religious, or ideological in nature....through intimidation, coercion, or instilling fear."

    Eqbal Ahmad On Terrorism

    Before his untimely death, Indian activist and scholar Eqbal Ahmad spoke on the subject of terrorism in one of his last public talks at the University of Colorado in October, 1998. Seven Stories Press then published his presentation in one of its Open Media Series short books titled "Terrorism, Theirs and Ours." The talk when delivered was prophetic in light of the September 11 event making his comments especially relevant.

    He began quoting a 1984 Reagan Secretary of State George Shultz speech calling terrorism "modern barbarism, a form of political violence, a threat to Western civilization, a menace to Western moral values" and more, all the while never defining it because that would "involve a commitment to analysis, comprehension and adherence to some norms of consistency" not consistent with how this country exploits it for political purposes. It would also expose Washington's long record of supporting the worst kinds of terrorist regimes worldwide in Indonesia, Iran under the Shah, Central America, the South American fascist generals, Marcos in the Philippines, Pol Pot and Saddam at their worst, the current Saudi and Egyptian regimes, Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), and for the people of Greece, who paid an enormous price, the Greek colonels the US brought to power in the late 1960s for which people there now with long memories still haven't forgiven us.

    Ahmad continued saying "What (then) is terrorism? Our first job is to define the **** thing, name it, give it a description of some kind, other than (the) "moral equivalent of (our) founding fathers (or) a moral outrage to Western civilization." He cited Webster's Collegiate Dictionary as a source saying "Terrorism is an intense, overpowering fear....the use of terrorizing methods of governing or resisting a government." It's simple, to the point, fair, and Ahmad calls it a definition of "great virtue. It focuses on the use of coercive violence....that is used illegally, extra-constitutionally, to coerce" saying this is true because it's what terrorism is whether committed by governments, groups, or individuals. This definition omits what Ahmad feels doesn't apply - motivation, whether or not the cause is just or not because "motives differ (yet) make no difference."

    Ahmad identifies the following types of terrorism:

    * State terrorism committed by nations against anyone - other states, groups or individuals, including state-sponsored assassination targets;

    * Religious terrorism like Christians and Muslims slaughtering each other during Papal crusades; many instances of Catholics killing Protestants and the reverse like in Northern Ireland; Christians and Jews butchering each other; Sunnis killing Shiites and the reverse; and any other kind of terror violence inspired or justified by religion carrying out God's will as in the Old Testament preaching it as an ethical code for a higher purpose;

    * Crime (organized or otherwise) terrorism as "all kinds of crime commit terror."

    * Pathology terrorism by those who are sick, may "want the attention of the world (and decide to do it by) kill(ing) a president" or anyone else.

    * Political terrorism by a private group Ahmad calls "oppositional terror" explaining further that at times these five types "converge on each other starting out in one form, then converging into one or more others.

    Nation states, like the US, focus only on one kind of terrorism - political terrorism that's "the least important in terms of cost to human lives and human property (with the highest cost type being) state terrorism." The current wars of aggression in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine underscore what Ahmad means. Never mentioned, though, is that political or retail terrorism is a natural response by oppressed or desperate groups when they're victims of far more grievous acts of state terrorism. Also unmentioned is how to prevent terrorist acts Noam Chomsky explains saying the way to get "them" to stop attacking "us" is stop attacking "them."

    Ahmad responded to a question in the book version of his speech with more thoughts on the subject. Asked to define terrorism the way he did in an article he wrote a year earlier titled "Comprehending Terror," he called it "the illegal use of violence for the purposes of influencing somebody's behavior, inflicting punishment, or taking revenge (adding) it has been practiced on a larger scale, globally, both by governments and by private groups." When committed against a state, never asked is what produces it.

    Further, official and even academic definitions of state terrorism exclude what Ahmad calls "illegal violence:" torture, burning of villages, destruction of entire peoples, (and) genocide." These definitions are biased against individuals and groups favoring governments committing terrorist acts. Our saying it's for self-defense, protecting the "national security," or "promoting democracy" is subterfuge baloney disguising our passion for state-sponsored violence practiced like it our national pastime.

    Ahmad also observed that modern-day "third-world....fascist governments (in countries like) Indonesia (under Suharto), Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of Congo - DRC), Iran (under the Shah), South Korea (under its generals), and elsewhere - were fully supported by one or the other of the superpowers," and for all the aforementioned ones and most others that was the US.

    Further, Ahmad notes "religious zealotry has been a major source of terror" but nearly always associated in the West with Islamic groups. In fact, it's a global problem with "Jewish terrorists....terrorizing an entire people in the Middle East (the Palestinians, supported by) Israel which is supported by the government of the United States." Crimes against humanity in the name of religion are also carried out by radical Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and others, not just extremist Muslims that are the only ones reported in the West.

    In August, 1998 in the Dawn English-language Pakistani newspaper, Ahmad wrote about the power of the US in a unipolar world saying: "Who will define the parameters of terrorism, or decide where terrorists lurk? Why, none other than the United States, which can from the rooftops of the world set out its claim to be sheriff, judge and hangman, all at one and the same time." So while publicly supporting justice, the US spurns international law to be the sole decider acting by the rules of what we say goes, and the law is what we say it is. Further, before the age of George Bush, Ahmad sounded a note of hope saying nothing is "historically permanent (and) I don't think American power is permanent. It itself is very temporary, and therefore its excesses have to be, by definition, impermanent."

    In addition, he added, "America is a troubled country" for many reasons. It's "economic capabilities do not harmonize with its military (ones and) its ruling class' will to dominate is not quite shared by" what its people want. For now, however, the struggle will continue because the US "sowed in the Middle East (after the Gulf war but before George Bush became president) and South Asia (signaling Pakistan and Afghanistan) very poisonous seeds. Some have ripened and others are ripening. An examination of why they were sown, what has grown, and how they should be reaped is needed (but isn't being done). Missiles won't solve the problem" as is plain as day in mid-2007, with the Bush administration hanging on for dear life in the face of two calamitous wars the president can't acknowledge are hopeless and already lost.

    Edward S. Herman On Terrorism

    Herman wrote a lot on terrorism including his important 1982 book as relevant today as it was then, "The Real Terror Network." It's comprised of US-sponsored authoritarian states following what Herman calls a free market "development model" for corporate gain gotten through a reign of terror unleashed on any homegrown resistance against it and a corrupted dominant media championing it with language Orwell would love.

    Back then, justification given was the need to protect the "free world" from the evils of communism and a supposedly worldwide threat it posed. It was classic "Red Scare" baloney, but it worked to traumatize the public enough to think the Russians would come unless we headed them off, never mind, in fact, the Russians had good reason to fear we'd come because "bombing them back to the stone age" was seriously considered, might have happened, and once almost did.

    Herman reviews examples of "lesser and mythical terror networks" before discussing the real ones. First though, he defines the language beginning with how Orwell characterized political speech already explained above. He then gives a dictionary definition of terrorism as "a mode of governing, or of opposing government, by intimidation" but notes right off a problem for "western propaganda." Defining terrorism this way includes repressive regimes we support, so it's necessary finding "word adaptations (redefining them to) exclude (our) state terrorism (and only) capture the petty (retail) terror of small dissident groups or individuals" or the trumped up "evil empire" kind manufactured out of whole cloth but made to seem real and threatening.

    Herman then explains how the CIA finessed terrorism by referring to "Patterns of International Terrorism" defining it as follows: "Terrorism conducted with the support of a foreign government or organization and/or directed against foreign nationals, institutions, or governments." By this definition, internal death squads killing thousands are excluded because they're not "international" unless a foreign government supports them. That's easy to hide, though, when we're the government and as easy to reveal or fake when it serves our purpose saying it was communist-inspired in the 1980s or "Islamofascist al Qaeda"-conducted or supported now. Saying it makes it so even when it isn't because the power of the message can make us believe Santa Claus is the grinch who stole Christmas.

    Herman also explains how harsh terms like totalitarianism and authoritarianism only apply to adversary regimes while those as bad or worse allied to us are more benignly referred to with terms like "moderate autocrats" or some other corrupted manipulation of language able to make the most beastly tyrants look like enlightened tolerant leaders.

    In fact, these brutes and their governments comprise the "real terror network," and what they did and still do, with considerable US help, contributed to the rise of the "National Security State" (NSS) post-WW II and the growth of terrorism worldwide supporting it. In a word, it rules by "intimidation and violence or the threat of violence." Does the name Augusto Pinochet ring a bell? What about the repressive Shah of Iran even a harsh theocratic state brought relief from?

    Herman explained "the economics of the NSS" that's just as relevant today as then with some updating of events in the age of George Bush. He notes NSS leaders imposed a free market "development model" creating a "favorable investment climate (including) subsidies and tax concessions to business (while excluding) any largess to the non-propertied classes...." It means human welfare be damned, social benefits and democracy are incompatible with the needs of business, unions aren't allowed, a large "reserve army" of workers can easily replace present ones, and those complaining get their heads knocked off with terror tactics being the weapon of choice, and woe to those on the receiving end.

    The Godfather in Washington makes it work with considerable help from the corrupted dominant media selling "free market" misery like it's paradise. Their message praises the dogma, turning a blind eye to the ill effects on real people and the terror needed to keep them in line when they resist characterized as protecting "national security" and "promoting democracy," as already explained. All the while, the US is portrayed as a benevolent innocent bystander, when, if fact, behind the scenes, we pull the strings and tinpot third-world despots dance to them. But don't expect to learn that from the pages of the New York Times always in the lead supporting the worst US-directed policies characterized only as the best and most enlightened.

    At the end of his account, Herman offers solutions worlds apart from the way the Bush administration rules. They include opposing "martial law governments" and demanding the US end funding, arming and training repressive regimes. Also condemned are "harsh prison sentences, internments and killings," especially against labor leaders. Finally, he cites "the right to self-determination" for all countries free from foreign interference, that usually means Washington, that must be held to account and compelled to "stop bullying and manipulating....tiny states" and end the notion they must be client ones, or else.

    Referring to the Reagan administration in the 1980s, Herman says what applies even more under George Bush. If allowed to get away with it, Washington "will continue to escalate the violence (anywhere in the world it chooses) to preserve military mafia/oligarch control" meaning we're boss, and what we say goes. Leaders not getting the message will be taught the hard way, meaning state-sponsored terrorism portrayed as benign intervention.

    Herman revisited terrorism with co-author Gerry O'Sullivan in 1989 in their book "The Terrorism Industry: The Experts and Institutions That Shape Our View of Terror." The authors focus on what kinds of victims are important ("worthy" ones) while others (the "unworthy") go unmentioned or are characterized as victimizers with the corrupted media playing their usual role trumpeting whatever policies serve the interests of power. The authors state "....the West's experts and media have engaged in a process of 'role reversal' in....handling....terrorism... focus(ing) on selected, relatively small-scale terrorists and rebels including....genuine national liberation movements" victimized by state-sponsored terror. Whenever they strike back in self-defense they're portrayed as victimizers. Examples, then and now, are legion, and the authors draw on them over that earlier period the book covers.

    They also explain the main reason individuals and groups attack us is payback for our attacking or oppressing them far more grievously. As already noted, the very nature of wholesale state-directed terror is infinitely more harmful than the retail kind with the order of magnitude being something like comparing massive corporate fraud cheating shareholders and employees to a day's take by a local neighborhood pickpocket.

    "The Terrorism Industry" shows the West needs enemies. Before 1991, the "evil empire" Soviet Union was the lead villain with others in supporting roles like Libya's Gaddafi, the PLO under Arafat (before the Oslo Accords co-opted him), the Sandinistas under Ortega laughably threatening Texas we were told, and other designees portrayed as arch enemies of freedom because they won't sell out their sovereignty to rules made in Washington. Spewing this baloney takes lots of chutzpah and manufactured demonizing generously served up by "state-sponsored propaganda campaigns" dutifully trumpeted by the dominant media stenographers for power. Their message is powerful enough to convince people western states and nuclear-powered Israel can't match ragtag marauding "terrorist" bands coming to neighborhoods near us unless we flatten countries they may be coming from. People believe it, and it's why state-sponsored terrorism can be portrayed as self-defense even though it's pure scare tactic baloney.

    The authors stress the western politicization process decides who qualifies as targeted, and "The basic rule has been: if connected with leftists, violence may be called terrorist," but when it comes from rightist groups it's always self-defense. Again, it's classic Orwell who'd be smiling saying I told you so if he were still here. He also understood terrorism serves a "larger service." Overall, it's to get the public terrified enough to go along with any agenda governments have in mind like wars of aggression, huge increases in military spending at the expense of social services getting less, and the loss of civil liberties by repressive policies engineered on the phony pretext of increasing our safety, in fact, being harmed.

    The authors also note different forms of "manufactured terrorism" such as inflating or inventing a menace out of whole cloth. It's also used in the private sector to weaken or destroy "union leaders, activists, and political enemies, sometimes in collusion with agents of the state."

    The authors call all of the above "The Terrorism Industry of institutes and experts who formulate and channel analysis and information on terrorism in accordance with Western demands" often in cahoots with "Western governments, intelligence agencies, and corporate/conservative foundations and funders." It's a "closed system" designed to "reinforce state propaganda" to program the public mind to go along with any agenda the institutions of power have in mind, never beneficial to our own. Yet, their message is so potent they're able to convince us it is. It's an astonishing achievement going on every day able to make us believe almost anything, and the best way to beat it is don't listen.

    Noam Chomsky On Terrorism

    In his book "Perilous Power: The Middle East and US Foreign Policy," co-authored with Gilbert Achcar, Chomsky defines terrorism saying he's been writing about it since 1981 around the time Ronald Reagan first declared war on "international terrorism" to justify all he had in mind mentioned above. Chomsky explained "You don't declare a war on terrorism unless you're planning yourself to undertake massive international terrorism," and calling it self-defense is pure baloney.

    Chomsky revisits the subject in many of his books, and in at least two earlier ones addressed terrorism or international terrorism as those volumes' core issue discussed further below. In "Perilous Power," it's the first issue discussed right out of the gate, and he starts off defining it. He does it using the official US Code definition given above calling it a commonsense one. But there's a problem in that by this definition the US qualifies as a terrorist state, and the Reagan administration in the 1980s practiced it, so it had to change it to avoid an obvious conflict.

    Other problems arose as well when the UN passed resolutions on terrorism, the first major one being in December, 1987 condemning terrorism as a crime in the harshest terms. It passed in the General Assembly overwhelmingly but not unanimously, 153 - 2, with the two opposed being the US and Israel so although the US vote wasn't a veto it served as one twice over. When Washington disapproves, it's an actual veto in the Security Council or a de facto one in the General Assembly meaning it's blocked either way, and it's erased from history as well. Case closed.

    Disguising what Martin Luther King called "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today," referring to this country, a new definition had to be found excluding the terror we carry out against "them," including only what they do to "us." It's not easy, but, in practical terms, this is the definition we use - what you do to "us," while what we do to you is "benign humanitarian intervention." Repeated enough in the mainstream, the message sinks in even though it's baloney.

    Chomsky then explains what other honest observers understand in a post-NAFTA world US planners knew would devastate ordinary people on the receiving end of so-called free trade policies designed to throttle them for corporate gain. He cites National Intelligence Council projections that globalization "will be rocky, marked by chronic financial volatility and a widening economic divide....Regions, countries, and groups feeling left behind will face deepening economic stagnation, political instability, and cultural alienation. They will foster political, ethnic, ideological, and religious extremism, along with the violence that often accompanies it."

    Pentagon projections agree with plans set to savagely suppress expected retaliatory responses. How to stop the cycle of violence? End all types of exploitation including so-called one-way "free trade," adopting instead a fair trade model like Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's government follows that's equitable to all trading partners and their people. The antidote to bad policy, brutal repression, wars and the terrorism they generate is equity and justice for all. However, the US won't adopt the one solution sure to work because it hurts profits that come ahead of people needs.

    Chomsky wrote about terrorism at length much earlier as well in his 1988 book "The Culture of Terrorism." In it he cites "the Fifth Freedom" meaning "the freedom to rob, to exploit and to dominate society, to undertake any course of action to insure that existing privilege is protected and advanced." This "freedom" is incompatible with the other four Franklin Roosevelt once announced - freedom of speech, worship, want and fear all harmed by this interloper. To get the home population to go along with policies designed to hurt them, "the state must spin an elaborate web of illusion and deceit (to keep people) inert and limited in the capacity to develop independent modes of thought and perception." It's called "manufacturing consent" to keep the rabble in line, using hard line tactics when needed.

    "The Cultural of Terrorism" covers the Reagan years in the 1980s and its agenda of state terror in the post-Vietnam climate of public resistance to direct intervention that didn't hamper Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon. So unable to send in the Marines, Reagan resorted to state terror proxy wars with key battlegrounds being Central America and Afghanistan. The book focuses on the former, the scandals erupting from it, and damage control manipulation so this country can continue pursuing policies dedicated to rule by force whenever persuasion alone won't work.

    A "new urgency" emerged in June, 1986 when the World Court condemned the US for attacking Nicaragua using the Contras in a proxy war of aggression against a democratically elected government unwilling to operate by rules made in Washington. In a post-Vietnam climate opposed to this sort of thing, policies then were made to work by making state terror look like humanitarian intervention with local proxies on the ground doing our killing for us and deceiving the public to go along by scaring it to death.

    So with lots of dominant media help, Reagan pursued his terror wars in Central America with devastating results people at home heard little about if they read the New York Times or watched the evening news suppressing the toll Chomsky reveals as have others:

    -- over 50,000 slaughtered in El Salvador,

    -- over 100,000 corpses in Guatemala just in the 1980s and over 200,000 including those killed earlier and since,

    -- a mere 11,000 in Nicaragua that got off relatively easy because the people had an army to fight back while in El Salvador and Guatemala the army was the enemy.

    The tally shows Ronald Reagan gets credit for over 160,000 Central American deaths alone, but not ordinary ones. They came "Pol Pot-style....with extensive torture, rape, mutilation, disappearance," and political assassinations against members of the clergy including El Salvador's Archbishop Oscar Romero gunned down by an assassin while celebrating mass inside San Salvador's Hospital de la Divina Frovidencia. His "voice for the voiceless" concern for the poor and oppressed and courageous opposition to death squad mass-killing couldn't be tolerated in a part of the world ruled by wealthy elites getting plenty of support from some of the same names in Washington now ravaging Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Chomsky cites the Reagan Doctrine's commitment to opposing leftist resistance movements throughout the 1980s, conducting state-sponsored terror to "construct an international terrorist network of impressive sophistication, without parallel in history....and used it" clandestinely fighting communism.

    With lots of help from Congress and the dominant media, the administration contained the damage that erupted in late 1986 from what was known as the Iran-Contra scandal over illegally selling arms to Iran to fund the Contras. Just like the farcical Watergate investigations, the worst crimes and abuses got swept under the rug, and in the end no one in the 1980s even paid a price for the lesser ones. So a huge scandal greater than Watergate, that should have toppled a president, ended up being little more than a tempest in a teapot after the dust settled. It makes it easy understanding how George Bush gets away with mass-murder, torture and much more almost making Reagan's years seem tame by comparison.

    Chomsky continued discussing our "culture of terrorism" with the Pentagon practically boasting over its Central American successes directing terrorist proxy force attacks against "soft targets" including health centers, medical workers and schools, farms and more, all considered legitimate military targets despite international law banning these actions.

    Latin America is always crucial to US policy makers referring to it dismissively as "America's backyard" giving us more right to rule here than practically any place else. It's because of the region's strategic importance historian Greg Grandin recognizes calling it the "Empire's Workshop" that's the title of his 2006 book subtitled "Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism." In it, he shows how the region serves as a laboratory honing our techniques for imperial rule that worked in the 1980s but now face growing rebellion providing added incentive to people in the Middle East inspiring them to do by force what leaders like Hugo Chavez do constitutionally with great public support.

    But Washington's international terror network never quits or sleeps operating freely worldwide and touching down anywhere policy makers feel they need to play global enforcer seeing to it outliers remember who's boss, and no one forgets the rules of imperial management. Things went as planned for Reagan until the 1986 scandals necessitated a heavy dose of damage control. They've now become industrial strength trying to bail George Bush out his quagmire conflagrations making Reagan's troubles seem like minor brush fires. It worked for Reagan by following "overriding principles (keeping) crucial issues....off the agenda" applicable for George Bush, including:

    -- "the (ugly) historical and documentary record reveal(ing)" US policy guidelines;

    -- "the international setting within which policy develops;"

    -- application of similar policies in other nations in Latin America or elsewhere;

    -- "the normal conditions of life (in Latin America or elsewhere long dominated by) US influence and control (and) what these teach us about the goals and character of US government policy over many years;

    -- similar matters (anywhere helping explain) the origins and nature of the problems that must be addressed."

    It was true in the 1980s and now so these issues "are not fit topics for reporting, commentary and debate" beyond what policy makers disagree on and are willing to discuss openly.

    The book concludes considering the "perils of diplomacy" with Washington resorting to state terror enforcing its will through violence when other means don't work. But the US public has to be convinced through guile and stealth it's all being done for our own good. It never is, of course, but most people never catch on till it's too late to matter. They should read more Chomsky, Herman, Ahmad, and Michel Chossudovsky discussed below, but too few do so leaders like Reagan and Bush get away with mass-murder and much more.

    Chomsky wrote another book on terrorism titled "Pirates and Emperors, Old and New: International Terrorism in the Real World." It was first published in 1986 with new material added in more recent editions up to 2001. The book begins with a memorable story St. Augustine tells about a pirate Alexander the Great captured asking him "how he dares molest the sea." Pirates aren't known to be timid, and this one responds saying "How dare you molest the whole world? ....I do it with a little ship only (and) am called a thief (while you do) it with a great navy (and) are called an Emperor." It's a wonderful way to capture the relationship between minor rogue states or resistance movements matched off against the lord and master of the universe with unchallengeable military power unleashing it freely to stay dominant.

    The newest edition of "Pirates and Emperors, Old and New" explores what constitutes terrorism while mainly discussing how Washington waged it in the Middle East in the 1980s, also then in Central America, and more recently post-9/11. As he often does, Chomsky also shows how dominant media manipulation shapes public perceptions to justify our actions called defensible against states we target as enemies when they resist - meaning their wish to remain free and independent makes them a threat to western civilization.

    Washington never tolerates outlier regimes placing their sovereignty above ours or internal resistance movements hitting back for what we do to them. Those doing it are called terrorists and are targeted for removal by economic, political and/or military state terror. In the case of Nicaragua, the weapon of choice was a Contra proxy force, in El Salvador, the CIA-backed fascist government did the job, and in both cases tactics used involved mass murder and incarceration, torture, and a whole further menu of repressive and economic barbarism designed to crush resistance paving the way for unchallengeable US dominance.

    The centerpiece of US Middle East policy has been its full and unconditional support for Israel's quest for regional dominance by weakening or removing regimes considered hostile and its near-six decade offensive to repress and ethnically cleanse indigenous Palestinians from all land Israelis want for a greater Israel. Toward that end, Israel gets unheard of amounts of aid including billions annually in grants and loans, billions more as needed, multi-billions in debt waved, billions more in military aid, and state-of-the-art weapons and technology amounting in total to more than all other countries in the world combined for a nation of six million people with lots of important friends in Washington, on Wall Street, and in all other centers of power that count.

    It all goes down smoothly at home by portraying justifiable resistance to Israeli abuse as terrorism with the dominant media playing their usual role calling US and Israeli-targeted victims the victimizers to justify the harshest state terror crackdowns against them. For Palestinians, it's meant nearly six decades of repression and 40 years of occupation by a foreign power able to reign state terror on defenseless people helpless against it. For Iraq, it meant removing a leader posing no threat to Israel or his neighbors but portrayed as a monster who did with Iranian leaders and Hugo Chavez now topping the regime change queue in that order or maybe in quick succession or tandem.

    It's all about power and perception with corrupted language, as Orwell explained, able to make reality seem the way those controlling it wish. It lets power and ideology triumph over people freely using state terror as a means of social control. Chomsky quoted Churchill's notion that "the rich and powerful have every right to....enjoy what they have gained, often by violence and terror; the rest can be ignored as long as they suffer in silence, but if they interfere with....those who rule the world by right, the 'terrors of the earth' will be visited upon them with righteous wrath, unless power is constrained from within." One day, the meek may inherit the earth and Churchill's words no longer will apply, but not as long as the US rules it and media manipulation clouds reality enough to make harsh state terror look like humanitarian intervention or self-defense by helpless victims look like they're the victimizers.

    Michel Chossudovsky on "The War on Terrorism"

    No one has been more prominent or outspoken since the 9/11 attacks in the US than scholar/author/activist and Global Research web site editor Michel Chossudovsky. He began writing that evening publishing an article the next day titled "Who Is Osama Bin Laden," perhaps being the first Bush administration critic to courageously challenge the official account of what took place that day. He then updated his earlier account September 10, 2006 in an article titled "The Truth behind 9/11: Who is Osama Bin Ladin." Chossudovsky is a thorough, relentless researcher making an extraordinary effort to get at the truth no matter how ugly or disturbing.

    Here's a summary of what he wrote that was included in his 2005 book titled "America's War on Terrorism (In the Wake of 9/11)" he calls a complete fabrication "based on the illusion that one man, Osama bin Laden (from a cave in Afghanistan and hospital bed in Pakistan), outwitted the $40 billion-a-year American intelligence apparatus." He called it instead what it is, in fact - a pretext for permanent "New World Order" wars of conquest serving the interests of Wall Street, the US military-industrial complex, and all other corporate interests profiting hugely from a massive scheme harming the public interest in the near-term and potentially all humanity unless it's stopped in time.

    On the morning of 9/11, the Bush administration didn't miss a beat telling the world Al Qaeda attacked the World Trade Center (WTC) and Pentagon meaning Osama bin Laden was the main culprit - case closed without even the benefit of a forensic and intelligence analysis piecing together all potential helpful information. There was no need to because, as Chossudovsky explained, "That same (9/11) evening at 9:30 pm, a 'War Cabinet' was formed integrated by a select number of top intelligence and military advisors. At 11:00PM, at the end of that historic (White House) meeting, the 'War on Terrorism' was officially launched," and the rest is history.

    Chossudovsky continued "The decision was announced (straightaway) to wage war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in retribution for the 9/11 attacks" with news headlines the next day asserting, with certainty, "state sponsorship" responsibility for the attacks connected to them. The dominant media, in lockstep, called for military retaliation against Afghanistan even though no evidence proved the Taliban government responsible, because, in fact, it was not and we knew it.

    Four weeks later on October 7, a long-planned war of illegal aggression began, Afghanistan was bombed and then invaded by US forces working in partnership with their new allies - the United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan or so-called Northern Alliance "warlords." Their earlier repressive rule was so extreme, it gave rise to the Taliban in the first place and has now made them resurgent.

    Chossudovsky further explained that the public doesn't "realize that a large scale theater war is never planned and executed in a matter of weeks." This one, like all others, was months in the making needing only what CentCom Commander General Tommy Franks called a "terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event" to arouse enough public anger for the Bush administration to launch it after declaring their "war on terrorism." Chossudovsky, through thorough and exhausting research, exposed it as a fraud.

    He's been on top of the story ever since uncovering the "myth of an 'outside enemy' and the threat of 'Islamic terrorists' (that became) the cornerstone (and core justification) of the Bush administration's military doctrine." It allowed Washington to wage permanent aggressive wars beginning with Afghanistan and Iraq, to ignore international law, and to "repeal civil liberties and constitutional government" through repression laws like the Patriot and Military Commissions Acts. A key objective throughout has, and continues to be, Washington's quest to control the world's energy supplies, primarily oil, starting in the Middle East where two-thirds of known reserves are located.

    Toward that end, the Bush administration created a fictitious "outside enemy" threat without which no "war on terrorism" could exist, and no foreign wars could be waged. Chossudovsky exposed the linchpin of the whole scheme. He uncovered evidence that Al Queda "was a creation of the CIA going back to the Soviet-Afghan war" era, and that in the 1990s Washington "consciously supported Osama bin Laden, while at the same time placing him on the FBI's 'most wanted list' as the World's foremost terrorist." He explained that the CIA (since the 1980s and earlier) actively supports international terrorism covertly, and that on September 10, 2001 "Enemy Number One" bin Laden was in a Rawalpindi, Pakistan military hospital confirmed on CBS News by Dan Rather. He easily could have been arrested but wasn't because we had a "better purpose" in mind for "America's best known fugitive (to) give a (public) face to the 'war on terrorism' " that meant keeping bin Laden free to do it. If he didn't exist, we'd have had to invent him, but that could have been arranged as well.

    The Bush administration's national security doctrine needs enemies, the way all empires on the march do. Today "Enemy Number One" rests on the fiction of bin Laden-led Islamic terrorists threatening the survival of western civilization. In fact, however, Washington uses Islamic organizations like Islamic jihad as a "key instrument of US military-intelligence operations in the Balkans and the former Soviet Union" while, at the same time, blaming them for the 9/11 attacks calling them "a threat to America."

    September 11, 2001 was, indeed, a threat to America, but one coming from within from real enemies. They want to undermine democracy and our freedoms, not preserve them, in pursuit of their own imperial interests for world domination by force through endless foreign wars and establishment of a locked down national "Homeland Security (police) State." They're well along toward it, and if they succeed, America, as we envision it, no longer will exist. Only by exposing the truth and resisting what's planned and already happening will there be any hope once again to make this nation a "land of the free and home of the brave" with "a new birth of freedom" run by a "government of the people, by the people, for the people" the way at least one former president thought it should be.

    Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

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    Government for Hire
    Lebanon, Bush and the Three Stooges


    As the siege of the Nahr al-Barad refugee camp in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli enters its third week, the last piece of this strange puzzle has finally been put in place. For completing the jigsaw of Tripoli, we have no less than the Bush administration itself to thank, along with the three stooges of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt.

    It was a real mystery initially. The Salafis of Fatah al-Islam were first brought into Lebanon (or released from their prisons) under the auspices of the Siniora government and the money of Saad Hariri. This has been well-documented by Seymour Hersh and does not need repeating here. Hariri the hypocrite, who would probably blame the Syrians if his tea was served too hot, did not miss the opportunity to do likewise over the standoff between the Lebanese army and the foreign fighters of Fatah al-Islam.

    So if the well-armed extremists were invited into Lebanon by Siniora and Hariri Inc., why now turn against them? If they were to do their bidding against Hezbollah (their real nemesis; presciently calling on the government to resign for the past several months) what led to the current conflict?

    It was by no coincidence that shortly after hostilities began with the unwelcome guests, the United States and their Arab allies did not hesitate an instant to either send or pledge sophisticated weaponry and arms to the Lebanese government in order to combat "al-Qaeda's" presence there.

    We should remember that none of these countries lifted a finger to stop the Israeli onslaught of Lebanon last summer by even appealing to the United States to call for a ceasefire. They too wanted Hezbollah destroyed.

    So what Israel could not accomplish last year will now be done from within.

    In both Lebanon and Iraq, the solution is to foment division among the people in order to ignite a civil war. It is already well under way in Iraq. And if Israel was unable neutralize Hezbollah prior to a US strike against Iran, it appears an attempt to create a similar climate is taking place in Lebanon.

    When was the Siniora government co-opted in this endeavor? Probably sometime last year, after Siniora was seen crying on TV over the war but before shamelessly hugging Condoleezza Rice during it.

    Having Fatah al-Islam and similar groups in Lebanon are a double bonus for Siniora and company: a radical Sunni presence to agitate against Hezbollah, while the government, under the guise of combating this new threat, acquires more weapons which they can then use to do their domestic dirty work.

    The Lebanese, however, are not so naïve as to fall into a trap they have been in before. Nor is Hezbollah likely to be provoked into taking up arms against their fellow countrymen. That is a chance the United States, Israel and the Arab dictatorships are willing to take though, in order to neutralize the Lebanese front prior to taking on Iran.

    Fouad Siniora, Saad Hariri and Walid Jumblatt, in this most ugly game, have indeed proven the Lebanese government to be one for hire.

    Rannie Amiri is an independent commentator on the Arab and Islamic worlds. He may be reached at rbamiri@yahoo.com.

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    Default War of Terror

    A War for Empire

    Afghanistan: Not a Good War Gone Bad


    For the people of Azizabad, a small village in western Afghanistan, the dark early morning hours of August 22, 2008 suddenly turned into a nightmare of devastation and death. As villagers slept, U.S. forces attacked—first with guns, then air strikes. By the next morning, according to UN investigators, over 90 people had been massacred, including 60 children and 15 women.

    The U.S. military initially claimed they had hit a "legitimate" Taliban target, that only 5 to 7 civilians were killed—so-called "collateral damage"—and the other 30 to 35 dead were Taliban militants. These were lies.

    Journalists who traveled to the village reported: "At the battle scene, shell craters dotted the courtyards and shrapnel had gouged holes in the walls. Rooms had collapsed and mud bricks and torn clothing lay in uneven mounds where people had been digging. In two places blood was splattered on a ceiling and a wall....The smell of bodies lingered in one compound, causing villagers to start digging with spades. They found the body of a baby, caked in dust, in the corner of a bombed-out room." Survivors "described repeated strikes on houses where dozens of children were sleeping, grandparents and uncles and aunts huddled inside with them." (New York Times, September 8, 2008)

    "Does this look like it fits a Taliban fighter?" one resident told NPR (August 27, 2008), holding up a tiny shoe and a woman’s torn veil.

    This was the third major massacre of Afghan civilians by U.S.-NATO forces this summer alone. Since 2005, between 2,700 and 3,200 civilians are estimated to have been killed by U.S and NATO forces, whose attacks and bombing raids are escalating. And all this is just the latest example of the enormous suffering the U.S.-NATO war on Afghanistan has inflicted since it was launched seven years ago on October 7, 2001.

    The U.S. military has since been forced to back off of its initial claims about Azizabad, and is supposedly conducting an "investigation." But one thing the U.S. rulers—and Bush, McCain and Obama—have not backed off of is the biggest lie of all: That the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan is a legitimate war of self-defense launched in response to the attacks of September 11, 2001 and that the central goal is preventing future attacks on the U.S. And now there are calls, including from Barack Obama, to send thousands of more troops to Afghanistan.

    More @ http://counterpunch.com/everest10172008.html

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    Seven Years in Afghanistan: From "War on Terror" to "War of Terror"


    October 7, 2008. Seven years ago today the U.S. began the assault on Afghanistan that toppled the Taliban regime and produced the present mess. Abetted by U.S. bombing and commando operations, the Northern Alliance took Kabul on November 13, 2001. This was the initial U.S. response to 9-11, an assault on the U.S. by Saudi Islamist fanatics based in Afghanistan. The al-Qaeda attacks killed 3000 people. By March 2002 the U.S. bombing had produced that many Afghan civilian fatalities. This was just the beginning.

    The invasion produced little change in the daily life of the average Afghan. Fanatical Sunni leaders who’d had a genuine social base and had been able to control 95 per cent of the country with minimal outside help were driven back to their villages. They were replaced by other fanatical Sunni leaders---those who had toppled the “leftist” government in 1993, then been overthrown themselves by the Taliban in 1996. These Northern Alliance forces had been nurtured in the duration by India, Russia and Iran as their idea of the better bet among competing Islamist fundamentalists.

    But in the seven years since, this collection of tribal-based warlords has been unable to stabilize Afghanistan---even though they’re propped up by tens of thousands of foreign troops who’re told that they’re there to fight terrorism and help create “democracy.” Indeed, its hold on power becomes more tenuous every year, while a resurgent Taliban with no foreign government’s support exacts an ever heavier price from the foreigners and their local allies.

    According to the United Nations, 1,445 civilians were killed in the war from January through August this year---a rise of 39 per cent over 2007. At least 577 of these deaths were due to the actions of pro-government forces. Deaths from air strikes have tripled since 2006. “Mistakes by the US and Nato have dramatically decreased public support for the Afghan government and the presence of international forces providing security to Afghans,” declares Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. Francesc Vendrell, a Spanish diplomat with eight years’ experience in Afghanistan, recently noted that civilian deaths at the hands of foreign forces have created “a great deal of antipathy” and the situation in the country is the worst it’s been since 2001. Members of the Afghan Parliament have staged a one-day walkout to protest the civilian casualties.

    Puppet president Hamid Karzai has also protested the strikes and their “collateral damage” in the last two years in fairly strong language. But hand-picked for his post by U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in the Loya Jirga of June 2002, he is commonly known as the mere “mayor of Kabul.” Why should the U.S. pay any attention to his protests? His authority hardly extends beyond the city limits, and even Kabul has become insecure. Elsewhere warlords hold sway in virtually independent ethnic baronies, issuing their own laws and printing their own currency, filling their coffers with the proceeds of opium and human trafficking---activities the Taliban had effectively banned.

    More @ http://counterpunch.com/leupp10072008.html

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    The Surge and the Stench of "Victory"

    When is a Holocaust Not a Holocaust?

    When is a holocaust not a holocaust?

    When the perpetrators call it a victory.

    Although the "surge" has failed as policy, it appears to be succeeding as propaganda. It seems to be the only thing that supporters of the war have to point to, and so they point, and they point, and they point. Allow me to point out that while there has been a reduction in violence in Iraq -- now down to a level that virtually any other society in the world would find horrible and intolerable, including Iraqi society before the US invasion and occupation -- we must keep in mind that thanks to this lovely little war more than half the population of Iraq is either dead, crippled, traumatized, confined in overflowing American and Iraqi prisons, internally displaced, or in foreign exile.

    Thus, the number of people available for being killers or victims is markedly reduced. Moreover, extensive ethnic cleansing has taken place in the country (another good indication of progress, n'est-ce pas?). Sunnis and Shiites are now living more in their own special enclaves than before, none of those stinking mixed communities with their unholy mixed marriages, so violence of the sectarian type has also gone down; and the powerful movement of Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr has had a cease-fire in effect for many months, unconnected to the surge. On top of all this, US soldiers, in the face of numerous "improvised explosive devices" on the roads, have been venturing out a lot less (for fear of things like ... well, dying), so the violence against our noble lads is also down. Remember that insurgent attacks on American forces is how the Iraqi violence all began in the first place.

    Just imagine -- If the entire Iraqi population over the age of 10 is killed, disabled, imprisoned or forced into exile there will probably be no violence at all. Now that would really be victory.

    No American should be allowed to forget that Iraqi society has been destroyed. The people of that unhappy land have lost everything -- their homes, their schools, their neighborhoods, their mosques, their jobs, their careers, their professionals, their health care, their legal system, their women's rights, their religious tolerance, their security, their past, their present, their future, their lives. But they do have their surge.

    William Blum is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, Rogue State: a guide to the World's Only Super Power. and West-Bloc Dissident: a Cold War Political Memoir.


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    U.S. Raids on Pakistan

    Violations of Sovereignty

    Henry Kissinger was no amateur when it came to illegally bombing and invading countries that he and the evil President Nixon considered did not meet American requirements of unconditional servility, but even he must be intrigued about the latest antics of Washington’s finest. The vice president of the United States, a charmless and despotic bully, and his president, he of the close-set eyeballs and pretensions to dignity, recently excelled themselves in self-delusion concerning their unlawful invasion of Iraq and their fury with nations whose governments fail to toe the Washington line.

    In their latest spasm of bizarre fantasy both Bush and Cheney condemned Russia for its military reply to Georgia's merciless rocketing of South Ossetia and the killing of scores of its citizens. There is no doubt that Russia had been waiting for an opportunity to teach Georgia a lesson for its treatment of Russian-origin inhabitants of the enclave, and when the US-educated, US-supported Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili, was so stupid as to send in troops following his slaughter of civilians, the Russians gave them a hiding. In spite of all the training they received over the past five years from US instructors, and the generous amounts of equipment they acquired, they fled the Russian advance. But Washington intends to have Georgia continue as a US-supporting military base area along Russia’s border, and in order to emphasize its anti-Russian stance Washington arranged for NATO to hold a high level meeting in Georgia last week (which, it was claimed, was planned “a=2 0long time ago.”).

    As usual, rather than trying to engage Russia through diplomacy, Washington chose confrontation. And this is where the funny bit is, because Cheney declared that “We believe in the right of men and women to live without the threat of tyranny, economic blackmail or military invasion or intimidation.”

    It is difficult to believe that the man was being serious, but there was no shade of irony in his delivery. He believed what he was saying, while ignoring the fact that the US has manipulated the UN to impose savage sanctions (economic blackmail) on countries that don’t toe the US line. Of even more importance he ignored the fact that only a few days before his pronouncement there had been gross violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty by the US when its troop s crossed Pakistan’s border and killed civilians. The people of North West Frontier Province – the people of Pakistan – suffered “military invasion and intimidation.”

    Last month Bush declared that “We insist that Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity be respected” which might have been a fairly good point to make were it not for the fact that he has no respect for the sovereignty or territorial integrity of any country when criminal violation suits his purpose. The illegal cowboy foray into Pakistan was not denied by Washington; it was merely ignored with that degree of would-be-majestic superiority that is the hallmark of colossal colonial arrogance. Associated Press reported that “a spokesman for the US-led coalition in Afghanistan said it had "no information to give" about the alleged operation, while a spokesman for NATO troops denied any involvement. The US embassy in Islamabad declined to comment.” No surprises there.

    It doesn’t seem to matter to Americans that the blitz conducted by their troops resulted in the deaths of six women and two children, citizens of Pakistan. There has been no indication of regret or sympathy ; not a shred of remorse for killing children. For how long can the non-American world tolerate this sort of barbaric malevolence? In America it doesn’t matter, because ‘Support Our Troops!’ is the American mantra, especially in election year, and if a US citizen doesn’t wave the flag and say that American troops are wonderful, even when killing kids in Pakistan, then they are regarded as unpatriotic, which is a dreadful crime.

    To justify the slaughter the usual highly-placed anonymous US official told20the New York Times that “The situation in the tribal areas is not tolerable. We have to be more assertive. Orders have been issued.”

    You can hear the Hitlerian resonance in this, straight from Cheney and Bush. It has hideous echoes of “My patience is exhausted,” before Fascist Germany invaded its neighbors – and of the justification that “Befehl ist Befehl” : “an order is an order,” as the Gestapo herded terrified women and children into concentration camps and then to gas chambers. (In fact some of the victims in the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp would welcome death by gassing, it being preferable to the vicious torture they are undergoing.) The American attitude, under Bush, is one of intolerance and macho contempt for any who dare to display independence. “We have to be more assertive” is a chilling declaration of what motiva tes the Washington administration. It is unlikely to change, irrespective of who is the next president.

    President Zardari of Pakistan showed considerable courage (even if empty words) last week when he said that “We will not tolerate the violation of our sovereignty and territorial integrity by any power in the name of combating terrorism,” if only because we have learned what happens to presidents and countries who offend the mighty empire. Pakistan has been dumped before by America. It appears that it is important for the moment, but neither sovereignty not diplomacy are of concern to Washington. Pakistan's government had better be very careful.

    Brian Cloughley lives in France. His website is www.briancloughley.com


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    How The "War on Terror" Ripped an Atlanta Family Apart

    I once watched my mother pray for nine hours straight. She did so when we drove five hundred miles to visit my brother, traveling from my home in Michigan to a federal prison in Marion, Illinois.

    My mother was sitting next to me in the front passenger seat. Holding a Quran in her lap, back arched forward, she was melodic. The breeze outside vibrated the gentle sound of her recitation, warming the inside of our car.

    Unfortunately, I kept asking when she was going to finish praying so I could listen to some music.

    My mother—a little agitated—responded in Bangla, “We’re going to see Shifa after a long time. You need to pray that we can see him. It’s a long drive…we need to make sure that we face no problems in our journey and that the prison gives us no trouble."

    Gesturing, she said, “I don’t know how he is doing. What he eats there. I’m not there for him anymore. I can’t call him…bring him food…I can’t hug him. I am praying that he is all right.”

    When we arrived at the prison and entered the visitation room, Shifa was waiting for us. A guard closed the iron door behind us, locking my mother, my sister and me inside. In the small, dimly lit room, there were no windows, no bathrooms, no vending machines. However, two cameras always watched us, studying our bodies and movements.

    Shifa welcomed us from behind a plexiglass barrier––no contact visits are allowed—with the biggest smile stretched across his face and the longest Muslim greeting in Arabic. He wore a khaki uniform, a white skullcap, and glasses. His hair fell down to his ears, and a full beard covered his face. He brightened up the morose room with his poised grin and graceful warmth. My mother was filled with joy to see her son. She was very anxious to talk to him, to hear his voice. She took her seat between my sister and me and picked up the white phone sitting amid three wall phones.

    More @ http://www.atlantamuslim.com/2015/ma...a-family-apart

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    Revealed: Chilcot inquiry was set up ‘to avoid blame’

    Secret cabinet documents show Iraq hearings were set up to stop individuals being held accountable

    The Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war was designed to “avoid blame” and reduce the risk that individuals and the government could face legal proceedings, newly released documents reveal.

    The papers show the thinking and advice at “the highest level of government” prior to Gordon Brown’s announcement of an inquiry. They were disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act, after the Cabinet Office lost a two-year battle during which it stated that disclosure threatened to “undermine the inquiry”. They confirm that many officials who took part in the events that the inquiry investigated, including former spy chief Sir John Scarlett, were involved in setting it up.

    And they reveal that Sir (now Lord) Gus O’Donnell, cabinet secretary under Brown, went against Whitehall protocol when he appointed a civil servant with significant involvement in Iraq policy during the period covered by the inquiry to the key role of inquiry secretary.

    The documents, a series of memos by Whitehall officials, cover a four-week period in May and June 2009. They show the officials favoured from the outset a secret inquiry to be conducted by privy counsellors, based on the Franks inquiry into the Falklands war. In a memo to O’Donnell, Cabinet Office official Ben Lyon advised that the format, scope and membership of the inquiry could be designed to “focus on lessons and avoid blame”. He noted that politicians and campaigners, including Plaid Cymru and the SNP, were seeking other types of inquiry with some advocating “a full public inquiry that would place blame on individuals”.

    Chris Lamb, a freedom of information campaigner from Bristol who won an information tribunal ruling in May requiring the Cabinet Office to disclose the papers, told the Observer: “Avoiding blame is civil service code for not holding people accountable.” Despite the inquiry being designed to “avoid blame”, the then foreign secretary, David Miliband, subsequently claimed it could blame “whoever it likes”.

    Lyon noted that former foreign secretary Lord Hurd had suggested a parliamentary inquiry. But Lyon warned that would “attract a daily running commentary”, like the 2003 Hutton inquiry into the death of Iraq weapons inspector David Kelly. In a subsequent note to Brown, O’Donnell repeated the “daily commentary” warning and advised against a full public inquiry for other reasons, including cost, that it would “threaten legal liability for individuals” and, ironically, “take a long time”. “The deliberate lack of transparency and attempts to use price to justify further secrecy is deeply concerning,” said Lib Dem leader Tim Farron.

    Lyon noted that former foreign secretary Lord Hurd had suggested a parliamentary inquiry. But Lyon warned that would “attract a daily running commentary”, like the 2003 Hutton inquiry into the death of Iraq weapons inspector David Kelly. In a subsequent note to Brown, O’Donnell repeated the “daily commentary” warning and advised against a full public inquiry for other reasons, including cost, that it would “threaten legal liability for individuals” and, ironically, “take a long time”. “The deliberate lack of transparency and attempts to use price to justify further secrecy is deeply concerning,” said Lib Dem leader Tim Farron.

    Lamb told the Observer: “This shows the inquiry was hobbled before it even started, with tight restrictions on what it could do that were not fully made public.” In June 2009, Brown announced a secret Privy Council “lessons learned” inquiry, as officials had recommended. However, a public and political backlash forced him to agree to some hearings being held in public.O’Donnell also advised against appointing judges or lawyers who would adopt a “legalistic” focus. He recommended using the inquiry’s terms of reference to prevent it reaching “any conclusion on questions of law or fact, which create circumstances which expose organisations, departments and/or individuals to criminal or civil proceedings or judicial review”. No such instruction to the inquiry was ever made public.

    In another memo to O’Donnell, Lyon advised that the inquiry’s secretariat, though drawn from the civil service “should not have been involved in Iraq policy since 2002”. However, he conceded that appointing staff with “understanding of the nature of the business to be addressed” had advantages. This concession paved the way for appointment of Margaret Aldred, a Whitehall official who had chaired the Iraq senior officials group during the period Chilcot was investigating, as the inquiry’s secretary.

    Many others who helped design the inquiry had also been closely involved in the issues it would investigate. They included current cabinet secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood, who was Tony Blair’s parliamentary private secretary until 2003, and Scarlett, former chairman of the joint intelligence committee who had become chief of MI6 in spite of his central role in producing the notorious dossier on Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction.



    The war criminals play games to avoid being held accountable for their atrocities. They escape justice here but there will be no escape on Judgement Day

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    From Myanmar to Aleppo, the ‘War on Terror’ has become a convenient excuse for genocide

    Posted by CAGE on
    In Myanmar, the government has attempted to exploit the rhetoric of the War on Terror to garner international support for their heinous operations against the Rohingya. The Rohingya community has been denied citizenship, stripped of their homes, and brutally raped, tortured and killed in what Human Rights Watch has declared as “ethnic cleansing” by the Buddhist nationalist-influenced security forces of the government. The Burmese leader and Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has been complicit in the suffering of the Rohingya through her willful silence. Suu Kyi has even attempted to play down the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya and during an interview with the BBC’s Mishal Husain she said “No one told me I was going to be interviewed by a Muslim”.

    The suffering of the Rohingya extends beyond the modern political context, however, in its efforts to polish its image, the Myanmar government has co-opted the manifesto of the War on Terror, to continue its acts of barbarity against the Rohingya.

    US builds ties with Burmese government and military

    In May this year, US officials announced they would be gradually re-engaging with the country’s military, “with the aim of broadening cooperation” including ‘counter-terrorism’. However when pressed on the Rohingya issue, Deputy Secretary of State Patrick Murphy, said it was “problematic”. “It’s a lot to ask of a new government,” he said apologetically, of the need to solve what is a catastrophic human problem.

    Recently in a low key email, Obama announced the lifting of sanctions against Myanmar, saying, unbelievably, that the government there had made “substantial progress in improving human rights”.
    A western precedent

    Such responses in the face of impending genocide are unlikely to change under the Islamophobic administration of Donald Trump. In fact, it is likely that Burma, in its institutional racism and state sponsored hate and genocide against a persecuted minority, will enjoy even more open support, while those drawing attention to the plight of the Rohingya may be cast as “extremist” or “terrorist sympathisers”.

    Killing in the name of counter-terrorism such as that which is occurring in Myanmar and Aleppo, is a stark warning that the abuses sanctioned by western nations under the War on Terror have set dangerous precedents and have enabled some of the world’s’ most reprehensible regimes to commit genocide with impunity.

    Support our campaign empowering communities impacted by the War on Terror


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    58% of Terrorist Americans Admit They Openly Support Terrorism to Achieve Goals

    by Justin King - June 23, 2015

    Imagine the rage if a poll conducted in the Middle East suggested that 58% of Arabs supported the World Trade Center attacks. There would be calls for blood and to rain fire down on every square inch of the Middle East. More hyperbole from hawkish American officials would lead to yet another invasion.

    However, Americans had no problem stating they openly support the US drone strike program in countries that the nation is not even at war with. 58% of Americans openly stated they support the US drone program in Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia. There may be some hesitation to accept a parallel between targets of the American drone program and the attacks of 9/11. The drone program targets those that finance the military operations of insurgents, those that manufacture the products necessary for insurgents to fight, and the command and control facilities of the insurgent groups. These are all legitimate military targets. By that same token, striking the financial nerve center of the United States and the building the houses the Department of Defense would be legitimate military targets. The next obvious objection is that the drone program doesn’t kill thousands of civilians. Yes, it does.

    In Pakistan, one of the countries mentioned in the poll, there were 41 men marked for death by the US drone program. 1147 people were killed in pursuit of those 41 men. During the long-running drone program, the body count climbed as did the number of missions that failed to kill their target. Ayman Zawahiri has been targeted at least twice. He’s still alive by all reports. 105 people were killed in the two attempts on his life. 76 of those were children. If someone detonated a bomb in a playground to kill a US General and killed 76 kids instead, they would be terrorists.

    Qari Hussain was targeted by drones six times. In the process, the United States accepted 128 people as collateral damage. 13 were children. Baitullah Mehsud was targeted seven times before he was killed. 164 people were killed.

    The fear Americans feel every time they hear of a school shooting in their hometown is the same level of fear people living under drones feel every day. Mothers don’t want to send their children outside because a car driving by might be blown up by a drone if American intelligence falsely believes there is a boogeyman in it. The kids can’t go play soccer; a bad guy might be meeting in the field with a contact to hand off some money. Or maybe it’s just a guy giving a shopping list to his assistant who happens to look like a terrorist. Either way, the children will end up scattered around the field like confetti by a Hellfire missile.

    80% of Americans in the same poll said they were at least somewhat concerned that the drone strikes endanger civilians. That means at least 22% of Americans are fully-aware of the kids being blown out of their shoes in an ineffective drone war, but are too callous or too stupid realize the implications of it. Drones create more terrorists. Every civilian the program incinerates creates at least one more terrorist to take his place. When it’s a child and the insurgent propagandists can get their hands on photo of a toddler’s bloody shoe with her foot still in it, it’s a safe bet that the number of terrorists produced by the attack is even higher.

    The average person in Somalia, Yemen, or rural Pakistan spends their days wondering about fresh water or food. If they are well-off they may have lofty plans to learn to read someday. They don’t care about the geopolitical situation, but they are dying over it. Americans will often retort that “It’s just war.” Civilian casualties are part of the process. Civilian casualties happen in war, but they are supposed to be accidental. They shouldn’t be figured into a formula.

    The entire world saw the results of the poll. It was broadcast globally. The fact that Americans do not care about the inestimable number of civilian deaths from drone strikes is now part of the global consciousness. It isn’t hard to believe that the results of this poll were the shove that many would-be insurgents or terrorists needed to take that step into an arms bazaar and buy a weapon. Americans should be patting themselves on the back; they succeeded in creating many new targets for the beloved drone program.

    Americans tend to believe that because we are separated from the rest of the world by two oceans that we are immune from the blowback of our actions. We aren’t. Drone technology is inexpensive. Even the faltering nation of Georgia has developed their own armed drones. How long do you think it will be until some guy is piloting a commercially-available drone in a US city park and flies it into the stands at the little league game before detonating its explosive payload?

    When it happens, remember that you defended the process. “It’s just war,” right? Will it just be collateral damage when it’s an American kids’ severed hand in baseball glove being shown on TV?

    Drones have their place in war, but it isn’t indiscriminately killing civilians hundreds of miles away from a battlefield.


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    How Many Bombs Did the United States Drop in 2015?

    How Many Bombs Did the United States Drop in 2016?


    As President Obama enters the final weeks of his presidency, there will be ample assessments of his foreign military approach, which has focused on reducing U.S. ground combat troops (with the notable exception of the Afghanistan surge), supporting local security partners, and authorizing the expansive use of air power. Whether this strategy “works”—i.e. reduces the threat posed by extremists operating from those countries and improves overall security and governance on the ground—is highly contested. Yet, for better or worse, these are the central tenets of the Obama doctrine.

    In President Obama’s last year in office, the United States dropped 26,171 bombs in seven countries. This estimate is undoubtedly low, considering reliable data is only available for airstrikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya, and a single “strike,” according to the Pentagon’s definition, can involve multiple bombs or munitions. In 2016, the United States dropped 3,027 more bombs—and in one more country, Libya—than in 2015.

    Most (24,287) were dropped in Iraq and Syria. This number is based on the percentage of total coalition airstrikes carried out in 2016 by the United States in Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), the counter-Islamic State campaign. The Pentagon publishes a running count of bombs dropped by the United States and its partners, and we found data for 2016 using OIR public strike releases and this handy tool.* Using this data, we found that in 2016, the United States conducted about 79 percent (5,904) of the coalition airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, which together total 7,473. Of the total 30,743 bombs that the coalition dropped, then, the United States dropped 24,287 (79 percent of 30,743).

    To determine how many U.S. bombs were dropped on each Iraq and Syria, we looked at the percentage of total U.S. OIR airstrikes conducted in each country. They were nearly evenly split, with 49.8 percent (or 2,941 airstrikes) carried out in Iraq, and 50.2 percent (or 2,963 airstrikes) in Syria. Therefore, the number of bombs dropped were also nearly the same in the two countries (12,095 in Iraq; 12,192 in Syria). Last year, the United States conducted approximately 67 percent of airstrikes in Iraq in 2016, and 96 percent of those in Syria.



    These are low ball numbers. Pakistan only 3? Just about every day US drone bombs Pakistan and Yemen and Somalia, that's at least 365 for the year.

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    Eye-Opening Graphic: Map of Muslim Countries that the U.S. and Israel Have Bombed


    Pro-Israel propagandist Jeffrey Goldberg made an inadvertent but profound admission the other day when he said: “[T]he U.S. have been waging a three-decade war for domination of the Middle East.”

    This “three-decade war for domination of the Middle East” becomes apparent when we consider how many Muslim countries the peace-loving United States and her “stalwart ally” Israel have bombed:

    During Bill Clinton’s presidency, the U.S. bombed Iraq, Afghanistan, and Sudan.

    In the time of George Bush, the U.S. bombed Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, Pakistan, and Somalia.

    Under Barack Obama, the U.S. is currently bombing Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya.
    According to some reports (see here and here), we can add Iran to this ever-expanding list. [Update: An Informed Comment reader named Shannon pointed out that in fact the United States bombed Iran in 1988 during Operating Praying Mantis, an act that “cannot be justified” according to the International Court of Justice.]

    Thanks to American arms and funding, our “stalwart ally” Israel has bombed every single one of its neighbors, including Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt. Israel has also bombed Tunisia and Iraq (how many times can Americans and Israelis bomb this country?).

    The total number of Muslim countries that America and Israel have bombed comes to fourteen: Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Iran, Sudan, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Tunisia.

    Meanwhile, the U.S. has military bases in several countries in the Greater Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Turkey, Pakistan, UAE, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, Djibouti, Kyrgyzstan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Chad. The U.S. also used to have a base in Eritrea and demanded another one in 2010. [Update: There is a minor error here pointed out to me by Prof. Juan Cole: the U.S. troops stationed in Uzbekistan are using an Uzbek, not American, base. However, this makes little substantive difference: there is still a U.S. military presence in that country, which was my point.]

    Here’s what that looks like on a map of the Greater Middle East:

    I wonder where those silly Muslims come up with the conspiratorial, absolutely irrational idea that the U.S. is waging war against the Muslim world?

    If you haven’t already seen this video, I strongly suggest you watch it:

    With seven active wars in seven different Muslim countries, it is quite an amazing thing that Americans can have the audacity to ask: “why are Muslims so violent and warlike?”

    But, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The New York Times reports that President Barack Obama “widened” the war, which is now being waged across “two continents” in “roughly a dozen countries — from the deserts of North Africa, to the mountains of Pakistan, to former Soviet republics,” using “robotic drones and commando teams” as well as “contractors” and “local operatives.”

    Even more worrisome, the Washington Post reports that America’s “secret wars” are waged by “Special Operations forces” in “75 countries” (and “that number will likely reach 120”); in other words, the United States will have engaged in military acts in over 60% of the world’s nation-states. After all of this, Americans will turn around and ask: “why are Muslims so violent and warlike?”

    Could it possibly be more obvious that the War on Terror is just a pretext for global domination?

    * * * * *

    Every four years, Americans get the illusion of choice: the choice between Democrat and Republican. In terms of foreign policy, the difference is like the difference between Coke and Pepsi. In the last election, John McCain sang a variation of the famous Beach Boys song “Barbara Ann,” changing the lyrics to “bomb, bomb, bomb Iran!”; meanwhile, Barack Obama hinted at expanding the war to Pakistan. The American voter was given the choice not between war and peace, but between war against Iran or war against Pakistan.

    In the national discourse, there exists a bipartisan consensus on the need for perpetual war: both candidates agreed on the need to expand the War on of Terror and attack more Muslim countries. There was no confusion about whether or not to bomb, invade, and occupy–the question was only where to do this. If the Muslim world were imagined to be a turkey, the question was then only whether to begin munching on the leg first or to start with the breast.

    President Barack Obama may have disagreed with his predecessor’s tactics, but he agreed with the Bush/Cheney world view. Obama may have thought we could move around troops here and there–let’s move some of these troops from Iraq to Afghanistan–but he did not disagree with the basic premise, overall methods, and goals of the Bush/Cheney War on of Terror.

    Interestingly, Obama was considered to be “the peace candidate”; even more absurd of course was that he ended up winning the Noble Peace Prize. While it is true that the Democratic Obama has tended to use less hawkish language, in terms of actions Obama has a worse record than Bush: Obama has expanded the War on of Terror, both in terms of covert and overt wars.

    Why did a “liberal” Democrat (Barack Obama) end up being more warlike than a “hawkish” Republican (George Bush)? There is of course the obvious explanation of war inertia. But aside from this, there must be something deeper, which is apparent if we look at the situation between what were historically the two large parties in Israel.

    Western media (see Time Magazine, for example), portrays the Labor Party as “dovish” and Likud as “hawkish”. Certainly, in terms of rhetoric this is true. But, is it really true? According to experts in the field–such as Prof. Noam Chomsky and Dr. Norman Finkelstein–Labor has had a far worse track record toward Palestinians than the Likud. Labor and Likud play good cop, bad cop toward Palestinians–or rather bad cop, badder cop. But while the two parties disagree on rhetoric and tactics, they share similar overall goals.

    The same is the case with Democrats and Republicans. The Democrats use softer rhetoric, whereas the Republicans continually push the national discourse (the “center”) rightward. But, because a Democratic president must counter the accusation that he is “weak” on matters of “defense” (Orwell: offense is defense), he must be Strong and Tough against Terrorism. Effectively this means that his war policy becomes virtually indistinguishable from that of the political right.

    Furthermore, President Barack Obama has done something that no Republican could do: he has brought bipartisan consensus to the state of perpetual and global war. During the reign of George Bush, prominent liberal progressives criticized his warlike policies. In fact, this was one of the motivating factors behind electing Obama, who would bring “Change.” Yet, when Obama brought more of the same, most liberal progressives fell silent, a hypocrisy that did not go unnoticed by conservatives.

    It took a “liberal” Democrat to expand the War on of Terror and give it bipartisan consensus, just as it took a conservative Republican (Richard Nixon) to make peace with Communist China.

    Under the two-party system, it really does not matter which side wins. A Republican candidate might sound more warlike than a Democrat, but once in office, he softens his position somewhat due to Democratic opposition (even though most of the Democrats won’t vote against war resolutions). Meanwhile, a Democrat president must prove that he is Strong and Tough against Terrorism, so he hardens his position. In the end, Democratic and Republican presidents are moved to the political “center” (which keeps getting pushed ever more to the right), so that the two are virtually indistinguishable from each other. Perhaps Barack Obama was onto something when he said:

    There’s not a liberal America or a conservative America; there’s the United States of America.

    It is true: America’s politicians are united in their endorsement of perpetual and global war.

    The United States has a long history of bipartisan consensus when it comes to waging wars of aggression. In 1846, the country was divided between the hawkish Democratic party led by President James K. Polk and the supposedly dovish Whig party. Polk’s administration saber-rattled against Mexico in order to justify invading and occupying their land. Meanwhile, “[t]he Whig party was presumably against the war,” but “they were not so powerfully against the military action that they would stop it by denying men and money for the operation” (p.153 of Prof. Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States). In fact, the “Whigs joined Democrats in voting overwhelmingly for the war resolution, 174 to 14.” They did so, because “[t]hey did not want to risk the accusation that they were putting American soldiers in peril by depriving them of the materials necessary to fight.” The only dissenters were “a small group of antislavery Whigs, or a ‘little knot of ultraists,’ as one Massachusetts Congressman who voted for the war measure put it.” Perhaps among them was Ron Paul’s great grandfather.

    The measure passed the Congress (174 to 14) and the Senate (40 to 2), “Whigs joining Democrats.” The Whigs “could only harry the administration with a barrage of verbiage while voting for every appropriation which the military campaigns required.” In any case, “the United States would be giving the blessings of liberty and democracy” to the Mexicans. Any of this sound familiar?

    Flash forward to today and we see the establishment left consistently supporting America’s wars of aggression. Even while these avowed liberals criticize right-wingers for warmongering against Iran, they themselves often saber-rattle against Pakistan and even Saudi Arabia. The right thinks we’re doing something great in Iraq and wants to expand the war to Iran (which we may already have done). Meanwhile, the left thinks we were right to bomb Afghanistan and that we should expand the war to Pakistan (which we’ve already done). Neither left or right opposes foreign wars altogether. The difference is only with regard to the names of the countries we bomb, which doesn’t really matter since the truth is that we are bombing all of them now.

    This is because both left and right agree with the Supreme Islamophobic Myth: that Islam (or radical Islam) is the greatest threat to world peace. This inevitably leads to the central tenet of Islamophobia, which is to endorse the Supreme Islamophobic Crime: bombing, invading, and occupying Muslim lands.

    Peace can only be attained when one is disabused of this mother of nationalistic myths. This can only be done by realizing that it is the United States that is the greatest threat to peace in the region (look at the map!). Consider that the U.S. has bombed at least a dozen Muslim countries in recent history, whereas zero Muslim countries have bombed the U.S. If “wars of aggression” constitute “the supreme international crime”–as decided during the Nuremberg Trials–then what does it say about the situation when America has initiated multiple wars of aggression against the Muslim world whereas no single Muslim country has done so against the United States?

    No Muslim country has attacked us because the risks of doing so are far too great; it would mean almost certain destruction. This is why, even though the map of the Middle East in the image above looks like it does, no Muslim country has the audacity to retaliate. Meanwhile, the U.S.–as the world’s only superpower–can attack multiple smaller countries without fear of significant retaliation to the American heartland. Therefore, it only makes sense for people of conscience, especially Americans, to be highly critical of U.S. foreign policy.

    * * * * *

    Something else troubling I’ve noticed about the national discourse is how even those opposed to war (or at least one set of wars) will frame their opposition in financial terms. The primary argument to convince Americans against war seems not to be the fact that war is immoral, that bombing countries and killing so many countless civilians is morally repugnant, but rather that it’s just too costly to do so. It’s our wallets, not our soul, that is at stake.

    Another argument that takes precedence over the moral argument includes the idea that too many of our troops are dying (victim inversion); alternatively, it is argued (rightfully) that such wars increase the likelihood of terrorism against us (another example of victim inversion).

    During the Nuremberg Trials, it was decided that initiating a war of aggression constituted “the supreme international crime”:

    To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, 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.

    Of what moral character would you consider a Nazi official if he argued against Hitler’s wars on the basis of “it will cost too much German tax payer money” or “it will kill too many German soldiers” or “it may result in retaliation against Germany?” (Refer to Glenn Greenwald’s article on Godwin’s law.)

    Would it not be better to use as one’s central argument against America’s wars that it is morally repugnant to bomb and kill people?


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    Trump’s bigotry – a new phase of the War on Terror


    The coup by Donald Trump is a momentous moment in modern US political history. His alarming statements and tactics did little to dissuade voters from siding with him. He was the radical alternative who appears to have tapped into perceived grievances and disenfranchisement amongst mainly the white American population. There are some grievances it appears that have validity. However, as far as we know the rust belt has never been carpet bombed or invaded by foreign armies causing the destruction of infrastructure or the deaths of thousands of its citizens.

    Minorities were treated as politically expendable commodities, giving credence to racist sentiments and empowering white supremacists views. Trump’s campaign featured showmanship with sporadic emotional outbursts and unapologetic language. The naked racism and misogyny was shocking and deliberate. This is the next leader of the free world and the exemplar model that the uncivilised must aspire to.

    Whilst there are many who assert that it is the military industrial complex and not the President that runs the United States, the office of President carries with it the legitimacy of a democratic elected official. He may provide a cover for the policies of the real power brokers, but on this occasion the façade has been obliterated in spectacular fashion by a billionaire celebrity who epitomises the American dream, from tall buildings, immense riches to the glamour of beauty pageants.

    His election rode on the back of hate against Muslims in particular and will embolden Islamophobes around the world to mirror his ability to tap into the visceral hatred of a civilisation. Other countries have a template to emulate and replicate electoral success with overt discrimination and abuse of Muslims. The War on Terror can only be taken to a higher level in the form of aggressive foreign policy and invasive Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programmes.

    It is not surprising that Trump won. The War on Terror has strong racist underpinnings (nobody can deny the racial hatred that inspired the torture at Abu Ghraib, or Guantanamo Bay). It seeks to maintain a ‘white’ Western dominance over the world. Trump dovetailed latent white supremacy with the Islamophobia of the War on Terror to produce a rhetoric that appealed to the fearful ‘white’ masses, and he used this hatred to win.

    Joseph P. Overton opined that there was a window of discourse that represents the ideas acceptable to the public. Politicians of the fringes especially, attempt to shift the the discourse to popularise their views and realign the ‘Overton window’. Trump has taken a sledgehammer to this window, through the harnessing of fear and anger amongst white voters, and has completely reshaped the political landscape. The media and so-called think tanks have shaped the public mood in relation to immigration and minorities, which is evidenced by a sharp increase in racial attacks and racist rhetoric. Fox News and others have campaigned relentlessly to poison public discourse on these issues and Trump exploited the fear mongering to win power. He offered simplistic solutions that will unleash a sustained war of terror against those seen as a threat to white supremacy.

    The personification of the US government

    Trump was not born out of a vacuum. The state itself has entrenched structural racism through discriminatory policies towards minorities, especially the most vulnerable groups.

    Successive US administrations have tolerated discrimination against minorities, thorough stop and frisk, alarming rates of incarceration and more recently CVE programmes. All have acted with impunity across the globe, culminating in a Presidential kill list of its own citizens. Obama was successful only in rhetoric and witnessed an increase of racial unease, unprecedented since the civil rights movement in the middle of last century.

    A vote for Trump is therefore not as anti-establishment as is claimed. Trump will no doubt impact the perception of America, one that has been polished by years of Hollywood and slick propaganda, but for victims of its wars, police brutality and islamophobic CVE policies it will undoubtedly be, business as usual.

    His rise to power is a result of the failure to defend the Rule of Law and the complicity of the media, academia and judiciary in allowing injustice at home and abroad.
    And the truth remains that only once we can come to terms with the reality and recognise our roles in what has occurred, can we then begin to remedy it.

    For now, however, the election confirmed the close co-operation that exists between white racists not only in the US but around the world: a co-operation that signifies an unwritten acknowledgement of multiple ‘white’ Hollywood lies: that black people are either comical or criminals, Muslims are a threat that need to be dealt with in any manner possible, Hispanic people should be corralled like cattle, and women are exploitable. This close co-operation has devastating consequences for global unity and societal advancement.

    A call to activism

    There could be increased legislation against Muslims and a definite increase in militarisation at home and abroad.
    The mind-set of the War on Terror will now bring the values of the war home and to others besides Muslims: targets will be Black Lives Matter activists, even more Muslim civil society groups, and environmental activists.

    Such likelihoods are a call to activism and an urgent sign that we must reach out to each other across affiliated organisations and communities. A straight-talking US President should embolden us to talk straight too. Now is the time for civil society to connect with the mainstream. No more dithering – we need clarity, simplicity and honesty above all.

    Organisations like CAGE have continuously highlighted the dangers of an ever expanding military and surveillance system, the development of a dual legal system for Muslims and the disastrous impact of foreign interventions and drone warfare. This is without delving into the graphic details of the CIA torture programme, some of which Trump has said he will bring back. We have highlighted the dangers of these policies to all of society and not just Muslims.

    Now is the moment for all those concerned with justice to stand together in unity and continue to speak out against oppression, discrimination and militarisation. We must continue to seek alternatives rooted in justice for all, and dismantle the system of white supremacy that Trump represents. We must reject hate and embrace tolerance so that we can create a world that is shaped by the values of fairness and justice. Those who have failed to stand now must ask who are the extremists – those who seek accountability through words and dialogue or those who hold the levers to weapons of mass destruction. The time of truth is upon us and we call on all fair-minded folk to reject the politics of fear and be robust in defending the fundamental rights of all.


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    Trump (son of KKK daddy) opens door to reviving CIA 'black site' prisons

    Feliks Garcia New York
    Wednesday 25 January 2017

    President Donald Trump is expected to lift the ban on overseas CIA “black site” prisons, reversing an executive action signed by Barack Obama to shut down such sites.

    Mr Trump will revoke the restrictions put into place by the Obama administration, which had been celebrated by human rights advocates, as he asserts a more openly aggressive approach to dealing with suspected terrorism abroad.

    The draft order, titled “Detention and Interrogation of Enemy Combatants”, would also revoke the International Committee of the Red Cross’ access to wartime detainees.

    The document orders top national security officials to "recommend to the president whether to reinitiate a program of interrogation of high-value alien terrorists to be operated outside the United States and whether such program should include the use of detention facilities operated by the Central Intelligence Agency".

    Mr Trump made it clear that he hopes to bring back waterboarding and a “hell of a lot worse”. But the President claimed that Defence Secretary James Mattis convinced him to tone down his position on torture.

    "Give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers," Mr Trump claimed Mr Mattis said during their November meeting, "and I do better with that than I do with torture."

    In 2007, President George W Bush issued an executive order in response to a Supreme Court decision in the prior year that held CIA interrogators to the Geneva Convention, putting them at risk for war crimes prosecution. Mr Bush's directive defined prisoner abuses that counted as war crimes under international law. It still allowed interrogators to use tactics that were not included in the list.

    President Obama issued an overhaul in the US detention policy that undid much of what the second Bush administration allowed, limiting interrogation techniques to what was listed in the Army Field Manual. Congress approved an action to make that directive a law.

    But news of the order has already inflamed the concern of top Democrats and Republicans in Congress.

    "The president can sign whatever executive orders he likes. But the law is the law," said Republican Sen John McCain. The Arizona senator was held captive during the Vietnam War – for which Mr Trump ridiculed him during the campaign.

    "We are not bringing back torture in the United States of America."

    Human Rights First director Elisa Massimino told the New York Times that the draft order was "flirting with the return to the 'enhanced interrogation programme' and the environment that gave rise to it", despite the fact that former military leaders have denounced torture as "illegal, immoral, and damaging to national security".

    "It would be surprising and extremely troubling if the national security cabinet officials were to acquiesce in an order like that after the assurances that they gave in their confirmation hearings," she added.


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    Trump is right: Bushes, Clinton, Obama 'all killers'

    Each of the last former US presidents -- George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama -- has killed more people than Russian President Vladimir Putin “has ever been accused of by any remote measure,” an American journalist and political analyst says.

    Don DeBar made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Monday while commenting on the American mainstream media’s strong reaction after US President Donald Trump refused to endorse Fox News presenter Bill O'Reilly’s allegations against Putin.

    In an interview with Trump on Sunday, O'Reilly described the Russian leader as "a killer."

    Instead of agreeing with the host, President Trump said the US government has "a lot of killers" and is not "so innocent.”

    After O’Reilly said he did not “know of any government leaders that are killers,” Trump turned to the Iraq War.

    “Take a look at what we’ve done too. We’ve made a lot of mistakes,” he said. “I’ve been against the war in Iraq from the beginning.”

    “A lot of mistakes,” he continued, “OK, but a lot of people were killed. So a lot of killers around, believe me.”

    After this, the mainstream media unanimously launched blistering attacks against Trump.

    DeBar said American media outlets are “treating Trump as if he committed treason this morning, as if this is some fantastic idea.”

    He said that President Obama has “a body count in at least tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands, in Libya alone tens of thousands, in Syria maybe a million [were killed].”

    “You have President Bush [who killed] at least a million Iraqis. You have President Clinton, with Madeleine Albright, with half a million dead Iraqi children from the sanctions.”

    The journalist added that former President George H. W. Bush was responsible for the countless deaths in Iraq during the first Iraq war.

    “All are walking free, no charges.
    Each of them has killed more than Putin has ever been accused of by any remote measure,” he stated.

    And yet Trump’s statement is controversial; not even controversial, it’s being universally condemned. It is beyond propaganda at this time.

    It’s like watching a really bad cartoon on some really bad LHD,” he concluded.


    Such are these war mongering hypocrites who accuse others of what they themselves do. And when told the truth, they go insane.

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    ‘US Republicans & Democrats both addicted to war and militarism’

    When the global military empire takes money from programs that poor people depend on and gives it to rich military contractors - it is a theft and looting of the national budget, says Brian Becker, the National Coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition.

    Donald Trump's administration has announced that it is seeking to boost military spending by 10 per cent in 2018. The American military budget already exceeds any other country's by far and could be set for a historic boost.

    According to US President Trump, the aim is to "reform" the US military so that it can operate more effectively. Many analysts believe, however, that the proposed boost would hurt other American sectors, not to mention slash already starved public programs. Others suggest the move might even provoke a global arms race.

    What do you make of the proposal to give defense spending a historic boost?

    Brian Becker:
    I think that the Republican Party now under the leadership of Donald Trump, but the Democratic Party, too, are addicted to war, they are addicted to militarism, they are addicted to ever-increasing spending for the US military budget. The last time the US was invaded by a foreign power was the War of 1812 - that would be 205 years ago. The US has one thousand military bases in 140 countries all over the world. It is truly a global military empire. It is ridiculous, and it is ludicrous when Donald Trump says “the depleted US military.”

    The amount that he is proposing to increase - $54 billion - is just a little bit less than what Russia spends every year on its military. In other words, this is an unnecessary expenditure increase of an already bloated US military machine. Trump says “we have to start winning wars again”. And the fact of the matter is that the US should stop waging wars that it needs to win but can’t win. Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan - the problem with these wars are not that they weren’t won, the problem is that they were waged in the first place because they were wars of aggression. It is going in the wrong direction.

    RT: Will it come at the expense of other sectors?

    BB: It has to, because the defense budget is part of what is called the “discretionary budget”. Entitlements like Medicare and Social Security – those are exempt from the national budget. When Congress approves a budget every year, that is the discretionary budget. How much will be spent on defense. How much will be spent on education, on housing, on transportation, on the environment. When you increase the discretionary budget, the part of the discretionary budget for the Pentagon, for war by $54 billion - 10 percent - that means the money has to come from housing, from education, from environmental protections. This is kind of our Robin Hood in reverse: taking money from programs that poor people and working class people depend on and giving it to military contractors who are already rich. It is transference of wealth from the bottom to the top. It is a form of theft and looting of the national budget all in the name of making the American military great again. It is already great. The problem is it is too big already. It should be cut; it should be seriously reduced because this kind of military spending incentivizes new wars.

    RT:Could the planned spending hike ignite a global arms race?

    BB: Yes, it will because who are these new high-tech weapon systems going to be directed against? They will be directed against Russia, they will be directed against China. They are going to be directed against emerging powers that somehow provide an obstacle to complete US hegemony in key geostrategic or resource-rich parts of the world. What will Russia and China do in the face of a growing military expenditure, they must take counter-measures. Because of course, Russia feels NATO has expanded to the East. China feels that the US has taken the South China Sea and pretend that it is an American lake. So, yes, this will be a global arms race. Nobody wins that race.


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    Jan 2007


    Trump’s Use of Navy SEAL’s Wife Highlights All the Key Ingredients of U.S. War Propaganda

    During his Tuesday night address to the U.S. Congress, President Trump paid tribute to Ryan Owens, the Navy SEAL killed in the January commando raid in Yemen that Trump ordered. As he did so, television cameras focused for almost four full minutes on Owens’s grieving wife, Carryn, as she wept and applauded while sitting next to and periodically being touched by Trump’s glamorous daughter Ivanka. The entire chamber stood together in sustained applause, with Trump interjecting scripted, lyrical expressions of support and gratitude for her husband’s sacrifice.

    It was, as intended, an obviously powerful TV moment. Independent of the political intent behind it, any well-functioning human being would feel great empathy watching a grieving spouse mourning and struggling to cope emotionally with the recent, sudden death of her partner. The majestic setting of the U.S. Congress, solemnly presided over by the U.S. president, vested the moment with political gravity.

    Media commentators predictably gushed that this was the moment Trump became “presidential.” Meanwhile, the U.S. media’s most reliable partisan warriors, horrified that the moment might benefit Trump, instantly accused him of exploiting these emotions, and exploiting Carryn Owens herself, for his own political benefit.

    While there is certainly truth in the claim that Trump’s use of the suffering of soldiers and their families is politically opportunistic, even exploitative, this tactic is hardly one Trump pioneered. In fact, it is completely standard for U.S. presidents. Though Trump’s attackers did not mention it, Obama often included tales of the sacrifice, death, and suffering of soliders in his political speeches — including when he devoted four highly emotional minutes in his 2014 State of the Union address to narrating the story of, and paying emotional tribute to, Sgt. Cory Remsburg, who was severely wounded by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan:

    George W. Bush also hauled soldiers wounded in his wars before cameras during his speeches, such as his 2007 State of the Union address, where he paid tribute to Sgt. Tommy Rieman, wounded in Iraq.

    There are reasons presidents routinely use the suffering and deaths of U.S soldiers and their families as political props. The way in which these emotions are exploited powerfully highlights important aspects of war propaganda generally, and specifically how the endless, 15-year-old war on terror is sustained.

    The raid in Yemen that cost Owens his life also killed 30 other people, including “many civilians,” at least nine of whom were children. None of them were mentioned by Trump in last night’s speech, let alone honored with applause and the presence of grieving relatives. That’s because they were Yemenis, not Americans; therefore, their deaths, and lives, must be ignored (the only exception was some fleeting media mention of the 8-year-old daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, but only because she was a U.S. citizen and because of the irony that Obama killed her 16-year-old American brother with a drone strike).

    This is standard fare in U.S. war propaganda: We fixate on the Americans killed, learning their names and life stories and the plight of their spouses and parents, but steadfastly ignore the innocent people the U.S. government kills, whose numbers are always far greater. There is thus a sprawling, moving monument in the center of Washington, D.C., commemorating the 58,000 U.S. soldiers who died in Vietnam, but not the (at least) 2 million Vietnamese civilians killed by that war.

    Politicians and commentators condemning the Iraq War always mention the 4,000 U.S. soldiers who died but rarely mention the hundreds of thousands (at least) innocent Iraqis killed: They don’t exist, are unmentionable. After a terror attack aimed at Americans, we are deluged with media profiles and photographs of the victims, learning their life aspirations and wallowing in the grief of their families, but we almost never hear anything about any of the innocent victims killed by the United States.

    Senior Chief Ryan Owens is a household name, and his wife, Carryn, is the subject of national admiration and sympathy. But the overwhelming majority of Americans do not know, and will never learn, the name of even a single foreign victim out of the many hundreds of thousands that their country has killed over the last 15 years. This imbalance plays a massive role in how Americans understand themselves, the countries their government invades and bombs, and the Endless War that is being waged.

    None of this is to say that the tribute to Owens and the sympathy for his wife are undeserved. Quite the contrary: When a country, decade after decade, keeps sending a small, largely disadvantaged portion of its citizenry to bear all the costs and risks of the wars it starts — while the nation’s elite and their families are largely immune — the least the immunized elites can do is pay symbolic tribute when they are killed.

    Nor is it to say that this obsessive, exclusive focus on our own side’s victims while ignoring the victims we create is unique to the U.S. Again, the contrary is true. This dynamic is endemic to nationalism, which in turn is grounded in tribalistic human instincts: paying more attention to the deaths of those in our tribe than those we cause other tribes to suffer.

    As I’ve described before, I was in Canada the week that it was targeted with two attacks — including one on the Parliament in Ottawa — and the Canadian media was suffuse for the entire week with images and stories about the two dead Canadian soldiers and their families. Then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke at the funeral of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, who became a household name for dying in the Parliament attack, even though most Canadians don’t know the names of and can’t tell a single story about even one of the numerous innocent victims killed by their own government over the last 15 years. This is by no means a uniquely American phenomenon.

    But unique or not, this is an incredibly consequential tool of war propaganda. By dramatizing the deaths of Americans while disappearing the country’s victims, this technique ensures that Americans perpetually regard themselves as victims of horrific, savage, tragic violence but never the perpetrators of it. That, in turn, is what keeps Americans supporting endless war: These savages keep killing us, so we have no choice but to fight them.

    More importantly, this process completely dehumanizes the people the U.S. government bombs, attacks, and kills. Because they’re never heard from, because we never learn their names, because we never experience their family’s suffering, all of their human attributes are stripped from them and their deaths are thus meaningless because they’re barely human.

    This dehumanization — the suppression of any humanity on the part of the U.S.’ foreign war victims — is the absolute key to sustaining popular support for war. Nobody knew that better than Gen. William Westmoreland, the U.S. Commander of the Vietnam War, which is why he insisted that “Orientals” do not experience death and suffering the way that Westerners do

    A population will only tolerate the ongoing, continual killing of large numbers of civilians if they believe that the innocent victims do not experience human suffering or, more importantly, if that suffering is hidden from them.

    Just imagine how different Americans’ views of the war on terror might be if they were subjected to heavy grieving rituals from the family members of innocent victims of U.S. bombing similar to the one they witnessed last night from Carryn Owens. There’s a reason the iconic photo of a South Vietnamese police official summarily executing a Vietcong suspect during the 1968 Tet Offensive resonated: Violence and suffering are much more easily tolerated when their visceral reality need not be confronted.

    The ritualistic tribute to dead or wounded U.S. soldiers has other purposes as well: It attempts — not using rational formulas but rather emotional impulses — to transfer the nobility of the slain soldier onto the war itself; after all, how unjust could a war be when such brave and admirable American soldiers are fighting in it?

    And it is also intended that the soldier’s nobility will be transferred to his commander in chief who is so solemnly honoring him. As demonstrated by the skyrocketing post-9/11 approval ratings for George Bush and the endless political usage Obama obtained for killing Osama bin Laden, nothing makes us rally around a president like uplifting war sentiment.

    Van Jones received intense criticism from Democrats for how positively he reacted on CNN to Trump’s tribute to Ryan and Carryn Owens, but Jones was just speaking honestly and with his emotions, as he often does: War makes people instinctively venerate the authority and leadership of the president who is presiding over it. That’s why — as John Jay warned in Federalist 4 — presidents like wars due to all the personal benefits they generate.

    The reaction to last night’s Owens moment was fascinating because the widespread media contempt for Trump clashed with the instinctive veneration of all matters relating to U.S. war; in most cases, the latter triumphed. But more interesting than that is what this ritual reveals about how Americans are taught to think about war and the reasons it is so easy for the political class — no matter the outcome of elections or what polling data tells us or how many people senselessly die — to continue and escalate endless wars. These propaganda rituals are well-tested and very potent.


  19. #19
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    Jan 2007


    US coalition 'kills hundreds' of Mosul civilians in one week: Report


    Between 250 and 370 civilians killed by US-led air strikes in seven days of fighting, says monitor Airwars

    The US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State may have killed hundreds of civilians in the first week of March in support of Iraqi forces storming western Mosul, according to reports by monitoring group Airwars.

    Using open-source data and witness reports, the group estimated that between 250 and 370 civilians had been killed in 11 incidents in the heavily populated western side of the city since 1 March. Out of the 11 incidents, four were backed by two or more sources saying the coalition was responsible for the strikes, it said.

    Airwars is an independent monitor that uses all available sources, cross-referencing them with the coalition's own official lists of air strikes.

    The Airwars figure strongly contrasts with casualty figures from the US-led coalition, which has counted 21 civilians deaths caused by its bombs since November, and far fewer deaths than Airwars has reported in three years of fighting.

    Iraqi forces captured the eastern side of Mosul in January after 100 days of fighting and launched their attack on the districts that lie west of the Tigris river on 19 February.

    The UN estimated that around 750,000 people were still in the western sector of Mosul when the battle started. About 40,000 civilians have been forced from their homes in the past week, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

    Airwars listed the strikes it said had caused civilians casualties in the push into the west of the city. In one of the deadliest, it estimated between 50 and 80 people were killed in a 1 March attack on a mosque used for shelter by refugee families.

    The deadliest incident in western Mosul to date, however, might have occurred on 5 March.

    As many as 130 civilians were killed during an assault on a government compound in the Dawassa district, with several local sources reporting the involvement of US Apache helicopters. Both coalition and Iraqi forces, however, were cited by different outlets as being responsible.

    Images reportedly taken after the attack show the level of destruction in the district.

    On the same day, four more people were killed and 14 were injured after unattributed air strikes near Shaaren market.

    The chain of responsibility was less clear for several of the other incidents, but the tally of casualties was not.

    A day later, on 6 March, between 25 and 33 imprisoned Iraqi policemen have allegedly been killed by coalition strikes on a building used by IS as a prison. Several IS militants were also killed.
    Deadliest week in battle for Mosul

    Airwars said the week-long period had been the deadliest for civilians since the launch of hostilities. Between 254 and 369 civilians were assessed as likely having been killed by US coalition bombs in January, and between 134 and 187 in December.

    The United States Central Command, which has responsibility for military operations in the Middle East, said it took all allegations of possible civilian casualties seriously.

    "The coalition will fully assess this allegation to assess its validity," a spokesman said. "The collation releases a monthly report on all civilian casualty allegations and assessments to be as transparent and forthcoming as possible.

    "Coalition forces comply with the Law of Armed Conflict and take all feasible precautions during the planning and execution of airstrikes to reduce the risk of harm to civilians."

    The US military said on Saturday that a total of 21 civilians were killed between November and January across all Middle East theatres. It maintains that a total of 220 civilians have been unintentionally killed in air strikes against IS in Syria and Iraq since 2014.

    The figure is much lower than the 2,463 total civilian casualties reported by Airwars. The monitoring group said that they work closely with Centcom to investigate any civilian casualty, but the discrepancy is number is due to the inaccurate monitoring system used by the Coalition.

    "This is an air war fought from the skies with proxies on the ground," Airwars said. "The US are not downplaying the number of casualties, but they don't have the monitoring on the ground to assess properly the presence of civilians and the number of casualties."

    The monitoring group is working closely with the countries involved in the airstrikes in the hope of reducing the death toll and improve transparency.

    The British ministry of defence said Royal Air Force planes were involved in the bombing campaign over Mosul. It could not confirm Airwars figures.

    "We have no evidence of civilian casualties resulting from air strikes conducted by the Royal Air Force," said a spokesman.

    The MoD has regular contact with Airwars and tries to cross-reference information with the group.

    Airwars told Middle East Eye that the UK was one of the most transparent members of the coalition and welcomes its cooperation.

    The monitoring group has flagged over 100 incidents involving the RAF, asking them to investigate them.

    "Official data released by the White House showed that at least one civilian was killed on average for every seven airstrikes in Afghanistan," Airwars told MEE.

    Even if it was one out of 10, the odds of zero casualties on over 100 flagged British air strikes are extremely low according to Airwars.

    "We appreciate UK transparency, but it is a dangerous claim to say that there are no civilian casualties in a war. There is no such thing as perfection on the battlefield."
    US killing more than Russia in Syria

    Airwars' report comes weeks after it stated the US-led coalition was killing more civilians than Russia in its campaign in Syria, reporting that coalition attacks killed an estimated 254 non-combatants in January, whereas according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights, 48 non-combatants were reported killed in Russian attacks.

    Airwars said it identified 95 separate "civilian casualty events" in January across Iraq and Syria which allegedly involved US coalition air attacks. In the same period, there were 57 alleged Russian attacks in Syria.

    Those figures contrasted to the much higher casualties from Russian strikes (713) - 14 times higher - than US coalition strikes in January 2016.
    The monitor said that the shift was in part due to the end of the siege in Aleppo, where Russian air attacks are believed to have killed thousands of people in months of bombing up to and including December, as Syrian government forces and their allies battled rebels in the city.

    The US, conversely, has stepped up bombing in Syria - targeting the IS stronghold of Raqqa with 21 attacks in one 24-hour period in February, and also bombing members of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly known as the Nusra Front, in western Syria.

    Coalition v Russia: Alleged civilian casualty events

    Airwars has tracked more than 2,000 reported events in which Russian or Coalition aircraft have allegedly killed civilians. While these raw claims should be treated with caution, they may be help us to understand trends over time. In March to May 2016 for example, alleged Russian incidents fell by 75% - most likely a result of the Syria ceasefire then in place.


  20. #20
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    Jan 2007


    US military attack "killing 56" at Syrian mosque is a war crime

    by CAGE - March 17, 2017

    London - The air strike by United States aircraft which destroyed a mosque in northern Syria, killing at least 56 civilians and injuring at least 100 more, constitutes a war crime.

    According to reports, it was thought that Syria or Russia was originally responsible, but later the United States admitted it had hit the area where the mosque in al-Jina was located. The mosque, they said, was across the road from a location "assessed to be a meeting place for al-Qaeda".

    No evidence has been provided by the CENTCOM to back up these claims, and no information has been provided as to the identities of the individuals who were killed, suggesting that the United States does not even know the names of the dead.

    Ibrahim Mohamoud, spokesperson for CAGE, said:

    "The United States government is expanding its 'War on Terror' in Syria through the use of airstrikes and drones, alongside Russia, Iran and the regime's militias."

    "The ease in which individuals are executed en masse, with very little argument from world leaders, or from the broader international community, has become all too normal in the region."

    "Regardless of whom the target was, such strikes only reinforce the idea that the US military action is furthering the same agenda as Bashar al Assad against the Syrian people."



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