Thursday, June 18, 2009

Hiding In Plain Sight: Israel’s Clean Break From America is in Progress

Hiding In Plain Sight: Israel’s Clean Break From America is in Progress....?

By Hesham Tillawi, PhD

Note from author–To all young people–please force yourself to read this to the end, and if you still don’t understand, research it.

“An important step forward”

–this is what President Obama called Netanyahu’s most recent speech.

It is beyond my mental comprehension to understand why we, as Palestinians and Arabs, do not act on Israel’s long term plans and yet continue to react to their frequent petty games and distractions. The truth is that the Netanyahu speech was written back in 1996 but could not be delivered because Clinton did not agree with the “Clean Break” group and their plans at that time.

As strange as it may sound the fact is that the speech Netanyahu recently gave is in fact actually 13 years old. The problem was that at the time it was initially written (1996) the players involved (including Netanyahu and a few other infamously well-known individuals such as Richard Perle, Douglas Feith, et al) could not implement its proposals because “events on the ground” had not materialized as they had originally hoped or planned, namely that the Jewish state break away from the mother ship, the United States of America.

The document written for Netanyahu was entitled “Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm” by a group of people who (during George W. Bush administration) came to be known as the Neo Conservatives (or Neocons for short) and has been hiding in plain sight all this time. These people (who became Bush’s top foreign policy makers, namely Richard Perle, James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Douglas Feith, Robert Loewenburg, David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser) all had direct policy making positions that had direct influence (or control) on policies leading to the destruction of Iraq and “removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq” (an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right as stated in the Clean Break document) five years before the September 2001 World Trade Center towers demolition. Yes, I did say demolition.

One of the main objectives of this document was to weaken Labor Zionism which they felt had “dominated the Zionist movement” for 70 years. They framed a new title to the region, calling it the “New Middle East”. They did not like the Labor-inspired “peace process” because it was involved in negotiations over Jerusalem.” Their ideas (Likud and Netanyahu) of peace were those based on an “entirely new foundation, one that ignores comprehensive peace” and replaces it with a “traditional concept…based on balance of power”.

In other words he who has the power gets to dictate to those who lack it what the terms of “peace” are. They wanted Israel to have “the right of hot pursuit” into Palestinian areas for reasons of “self defense”, something we have witnessed taking place since the inception of the Palestinian Authority until today. They wanted to find an alternative to Arafat’s “grip” on power, and so they murdered him.

But the most important break of all–the “mother of all breaks” if you will was the following–The need of forging a “new basis for relations with the United States—stressing self-reliance, maturity, strategic cooperation on areas of mutual concern, and furthering values inherent to the West” only possible if “Israel takes serious steps to terminate aid, which prevents economic reform.” The writers of the Clean Break did not like the concept of “land for peace” which they felt placed Israel in a position of compromise and retreat. They wanted Netanyahu to use and promote a new system based on ” Western values” which they said would be received well in the United States. A system that uses slogans such as ” peace for peace”, and “peace through strength” and a system based on the “balance of power”. They did not mind Israel (Netanyahu) engaging in “peace” negotiations as long as those negotiations were “a means, not and an end” to accomplishing their Zionist dream of the aforementioned “New Middle East”. Their idea was as follows–Why should Israel negotiate land for peace with the Arabs when the Arabs are not giving anything in return? The Arabs are not enough a threat to Israel that requires the Jewish state to exchange land for peace. Therefore, this deal is not good for Israel. Simply put, the concept of “peace for peace” is one where Israel agrees not to attack any Arab country in exchange for complete submission and recognition of Israel as a “Jewish” state by the Arabs, an idea that can only be gleaned by reading between the lines of the document which read as follows–

“Israel can make a clean break from the past and establish a new vision for the U.S.-Israeli partnership based on self-reliance, maturity and mutuality — not one focused narrowly on territorial disputes. Israel’s new strategy — based on a shared philosophy of peace through strength — reflects continuity with Western values by stressing that Israel is self-reliant, does not need U.S. troops in any capacity to defend it, including on the Golan Heights, and can manage its own affairs. Such self-reliance will grant Israel greater freedom of action and remove a significant lever of pressure used against it in the past.”

Netanyahu, back in 1996 on his first visit to the United States was supposed to announce that “Israel is now mature enough to cut itself free immediately from U.S. economic aid and loan guarantees” but not Military aid for the moment to make sure Israel dose not encounter a supply problem. They counted on Speaker of the House at that time Newt Gingrich to spearhead their efforts in moving electrifying support for the venture. In other words, they did not want Israel to be seen as subservient to the U.S. because of the “few” dollars Uncle Sam spares the Israelis, they wanted Israel to be on the same footing as the United States and as an equal partner in the building of the “New Middle East’ in which Israel is its own superpower. This is Israel’s neighborhood, and if anyone wanting anything to change better ask the Godfather -Israel- and receive his blessings. Otherwise, hit-men flying F-18’s will send you “sleeping with the fishes”, a line borrowed from the movie the Godfather.

They (the writers of the “Clean Break” document) wanted Netanyahu to anticipate the reaction of Bill Clinton and (in the language of the document itself) “plan ways” to manage those reactions by “formulating language familiar to the Americans” by “tapping into themes” experienced by the Americans which may apply to Israel. In other words, say something the American President would like to hear, but stick to Israel’s theme of “balance of power”. In dealing with Arabs, the new strategy should be based on “principle of preemption, rather than retaliation”.

Bringing all of this to 2009, is it not odd that Congress and the media are not screaming bloody murder against the Obama Administration for his recent maneuvers? Is it not odd that a group of 2000 American rabbis recently sent a letter to Obama showing their solidarity with his Middle East program? Why we do not see the same kind of Jewish demonstrations we saw back when Clinton was president when (comparatively) he did not say a fraction of what Obama said?

Make no mistake about it, Israel is 100% protected here in the U.S. No American government can go against the wishes of Israel.

How many times must someone get “bitten” from the same snake slithering in the same hole before we stop putting our hands in?

The strangest reaction though is from those organizations calling themselves Arabs, Muslims, or advocating for the Palestinian cause. These people–like some fish who thinks himself clever because he just swam off with a mouth-full of worm–are eating the bait big time. Where are their cries to Obama’s speech, a speech that did not have any substance but yet is being hailed by them as a “turning point” in American policy? Where are their cries to Obama as he describes Netanyahu’s speech as “an important step forward” just because it had one sentence in this whispering of a Palestinian state for the Palestinian Authority, the only thing which sounded good to Obama’s ears. Remember what the Godfathers of the “clean break” document said in “formulating language familiar to the Americans?” If Netanyahu’s speech was “a step forward”, what would Obama call Netanyahu’s comments about the refugees, Jerusalem and the Right of Return? A declaration of War on the World? A “Clean Break” not just from the U.S. but from the World?

Well, why not, they have the “balance of power” and they are using it.

On the other hand, the Arabs have a power they don’t know how to balance. But Netanyahu did say that he wants peace with his Palestinian and Arab neighbors. He said he will go to Riyadh and Damascus and any Arab capital for the “cause” of peace.

The agony in this whole thing, that neither Palestinians, nor the Arabs have any plans. Not now, and not for the future. The Arabs put out a peace resolution, calling it the Arab Peace Plan back in 2002 in Beirut, rejected by Israel (of course) before their planes left Lebanon and it still on the table. Every once in a while an Arab leader threatens to remove it off the dusty table if Israel doesn’t pick it up.

Remove it please, what are you going to do after you remove it?

Well, you do have some options: the first of which is an Arab “Clean Break”. Arabs deal with Israel based on Arab and Muslim cultural values of “keeping your agreements” even the ones you make with your enemies. The problem is Israel deals with a completely different sets of values, i.e. say everything, but do nothing. We will start seeing what will seemingly look like a conflict between Washington and Tel-Aviv that some Arabs might think its real and run towards Uncle Sam with much love and much petro-dollars. In the mean time Israel is accomplishing the status of a superpower next to the U.S. not in its shadow. As usual the Arab countries and many of the organizations that advocate Palestinian and Arab issues, especially in the U.S. will be used in this debut. The Arabs must plan their own ” Clean Break” to compete with Israel’s new status. Now you might understand what Iran, and Turkey are doing, jockeying for positions in the New Middle East. The Arab countries have no choice but to break away from the influence of the U.S. and draw their own plan to compete with Israel’s, Iran’s and Turkey.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Lebanese Elections, a box office success

The Lebanese Elections, a box office success...


Lebanon’s June 7 national election was a box office success. It had it all: shady politicians, foreign intrigue, bribes, beautiful women, meddling religious figures, sectarian agitation, recently exposed spy rings, fundamentalists collaborating with capitalists, the poor and oppressed voting for the rich and privileged. It was a brilliantly marketed production with more twists and turns than a Hitchcock thriller, and an unpredictable finale in which the ‘good’ guys (the pro-US, anti-Iran, pro-‘moderate’ Arab, pro-‘peace process,’ March 14 coalition headed by Prime Minister-in-waiting Sa’ad Hariri, son of assassinated former PM Rafiq Hariri) defeated the ‘bad’ guys (the pro-Resistance, pro-‘Axis of Evil,’ anti-corruption Opposition coalition led by Hizbullah and Christian leader Michel Aoun) to retain their Parliamentary majority. All this accomplished with few security problems, record voter turn out, generally magnanimous winners and dignified losers. No wonder Western elections observers were smiling from ear to ear as they proclaimed, “free and fair” from the rooftops. They were, in the words of Jimmy Carter, so “proud” of the natives, who showed that they could be “democratic” and even managed to re-produce the patented “third world” grin and blue-ink-thumb of Iraq 2005 fame.

But what exactly was all the excitement about, and what, if anything, have the elections changed in Lebanon?

Let us review the facts.

First, the electoral law used for the 2009 elections was deeply flawed and designed to preserve elite interests. Lebanon’s ruling political class, across sectarian lines, had earlier rejected meaningful electoral reforms demanded by civil society and supported by a majority of citizens: adopting a system of proportional representation that would reflect Lebanon’s diversity and promote independent candidates; establishing an independent electoral commission to oversee the elections; effectively controlling campaign financing; and using standardized ballot papers rather than pre-printed lists that patrons hand out to their clients well in advance of elections. By retaining the regressive majoritarian electoral system and creating small electoral districts, the 2009 electoral law greatly exacerbated sectarian divisions in the country and effectively restricted the electoral contests to a small group within the existing political class. All in all, 80-90% of the parliamentary seats on offer had already been decided de facto prior to election day: most districts with clear Sunni or Shia’a Muslim majorities voted in their districts with frightening uniformity and discipline for the March 14 coalition and the Opposition respectively, and only the mixed Christian districts were genuinely in play with fierce competition between the two sides. The focus on Christian districts, in turn, brought out the kind of jingoism and chauvinism that has long characterized Christian elite discourse and inflated self-regard, with each side insisting it represented and defended the true interests of (Christian) Lebanon. Post-election analysis within elite Christian circles has thus centered on which side had won in the “pure” or “clean” districts, meaning those areas with Christian-majority electorate unsullied by Muslim voters. Under these conditions it is no surprise that fascist-lite candidates, notably from the March 14 Lebanese Forces and Phalanges Party, gained seats by recalling their old project of dividing Lebanon into ‘pure’ sectarian cantons.

Second, within the logic of an overtly sectarian political system and electoral law framework, it is no surprise that the politics of fear and revenge reaped its reward during the 2009 elections. March 14 electoral teams succeeded in mobilizing and disciplining the Sunni electorate across the country—which determined victories in key mixed districts such as the Catholic center of Zahle—largely by drawing on Hizbullah’s ill-conceived triumphalist language on the one year anniversary of the armed May 2008 civil conflict that capped two years of intense political stalemate between the two camps. In little over 24 hours, Hizbullah and its militia allies had basically routed March 14 militias in Beirut. This defeat, in turn, was represented as a perceived humiliation for Sunni leader Sa’ad Hariri who had previously reassured his constituents that he would ‘defend’ Beirut and repel the ‘invaders.’ The compromise agreement reached in Doha, Qatar, in the aftermath of the May 7 street confrontations led to a period of stability as a national unity government was appointed, a consensus President elected, and an impartial and well-respected election expert from civil society (Ziad Baroud) confirmed as the Interior Minister in charge of ensuring a fair election process.

A year, of course, is a long time in politics. The March 14 coalition successfully focused its electoral campaign around two main themes designed to frighten the electorate. The first theme highlighted March 14’s broad support from international donors and patrons in stark contrast to the bleak picture of political and economic isolation that, they hinted, would likely result from an Opposition victory. This picture was backed up by a number of high-profile visits by US officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, who floated the possibility of Lebanon’s diplomatic isolation if March 14 did lose; as well as by a series of orchestrated international accusations of ‘terrorism’ against Hizbullah from Argentina and Germany to Azerbaijan and Egypt. The second theme utilized sectarian agitation to encourage, on the one hand, Sunni voters to take their revenge against Hizbullah following the May 7 humiliation and thus halt the rise of perceived Shia’a hegemony in Lebanon; and, on the other hand, convince Christian voters that an Opposition victory would result in an Iranian takeover of Lebanon. Some swing Christian voters were actually convinced that Iranian-style chadors would be imposed on them if the Opposition won, an absurd notion by any objective standard. The Maronite Christian Patriarch’s pronouncement on the eve of the election that Christian voters should vote for March 14 or risk their collective existence as a Christian community was the final coup de grace in this regard. Thus in light of March 14’s effective two-pronged strategy—which we now know was backed up by unexpectedly successful on-the-ground work by their cadres throughout the country as well as by an unprecedented campaign of ‘service provision’ to their electorate such as flying expatriate citizens and their families in to vote—the Opposition’s popular and political momentum and capital, which had peaked at Doha, slowly dissipated as it was forced on the defensive. Out went the Opposition’s anti-corruption and policy themes, its call for change after years of mismanagement, theft of public assets, and lack of strategic vision; and in came a more belligerent, defiant tone symbolized by Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hasan Nassrallah’s triumphalist claim on the anniversary of the May 7 battles that its victory was a “glorious” day for Lebanon. The Opposition’s fate was being slowly sealed.

Third, amidst all the international attention given to elections in Lebanon and the region, it has somehow been forgotten—particularly by the voters themselves—that elections are supposed to be a means to a national end (particularly the potential of improvement in public social welfare and human security) rather than a contest for sectarian and international patron bragging rights. Lebanon, after all, has suffered greatly from nearly two decades of crony capitalism and neoliberal policies that all sectarian leaders have subscribed to since the end of Lebanon’s civil war in 1990. Such policies have resulted in: one of the largest debts in the world (at 180% of GDP); unprecedented dependence on Gulf oil money to stimulate economic activity in limited sectors largely monopolized by the elite (such as large-scale construction projects, real estate speculation, and the power and banking sectors) in parallel with the collapse of Lebanon’s productive sectors; environmental catastrophe; endemic water, sanitation and electricity shortages; soaring poverty rates that have reached nearly 40% of the total population (and tempered only by the vast sums of individual remittances sent home by Lebanese expatriates); manifestly unfair tax policies that effectively transfer wealth from the poor and middle classes to the rich; and massive gaps in social welfare, and thus basic interests, between the haves and have-nots across the country. All this, in turn, has led to growing social alienation and increased religiosity, the rise of gated communities patrolled by private security firms within the richer neighborhoods and embassy districts, and the spread of the discourse of ‘terrorism’ and ‘security islands’ (in the peripheral areas and Palestinian refugee camps) that has increasingly preoccupied western embassies, the UN, as well as state security apparatuses.

In this regard, the re-election of key March 14 leaders to power represents, from a policy perspective, the likely resumption of nearly two decades of unchecked neoliberal, free market ideology tailored to suit Big Business and characterized by the blurring of public and private commercial interests. We can expect that the project of divesting Lebanon’s public assets and natural resources into private hands that began in the 1990s, but stalled during the last few years of political instability, will proceed with renewed vigor. Indeed the formulation of public policy itself has, in some key areas such as entry into the WTO, been privatized and handed over to management consultant companies to avoid any unseemly public debates. The Opposition’s likely return as a junior partner in the upcoming cabinet does not change this equation much, as both Hizbullah and General Aoun accept neoliberal logic albeit with a greater distaste for corruption. It should be remembered that it was under a Hizbullah appointed Water Minister that the plan to privatize Lebanon’s public water authorities was passed. Moreover, while Hizbullah is widely acknowledged as not being corrupt, it has a long record of frustrating pragmatism that includes the toleration of corruption among its partners within the Lebanese system as long as this policy helps protect the Resistance’s viability. For his part, General Aoun’s loudly proclaimed anti-corruption rhetoric represents the only potential check on large-scale corruption in Lebanon.

In sum, while Lebanon’s June 2009 elections might have been internationally praised as ‘free and fair,’ it represented a step backwards in terms of long-term, socially progressive reform for the Lebanese themselves. On the one hand it has re-entrenched sectarianism, deepened rifts and mistrust between Sunnis and Shia’a communities, and brought out the chauvinist tendencies within the Christian elite. On the other hand, the elections returned to power politicians committed to crony capitalism and dependency on regional patrons. There are no socially progressive elements in either camp, and there is little hope that the newly elected parliament will address the inherent structural problems in Lebanon’s sectarian system that lead inexorably to conflict. Indeed, the truth is that the current mood of good will and apparent compromise between the election winners and losers is almost entirely a function of regional rapprochements between Syria and Saudi Arabia, and Iran and the US, rather than a collective realization among the newly elected politicians that things must change. This of course means that if and when regional tension returns, Lebanon will likely unravel once again. With the “peace process” train back on track, the Lebanese would be wise to fasten their seatbelts.

Despite this missed opportunity, however, it is not all doom and gloom. In comparison to the anti-democratic and authoritarian regimes in most Arab countries, from Egypt and Saudi Arabia to Syria and the Palestinian Authority, at least Lebanon’s regular elections shows that peaceful transition of parliament and government is indeed possible (even as it preserves elite interests). Civil society played an important role in the technical aspects of the elections, though in general it will have to reverse the worrying trend towards de-politicization, “Ngo-ization,” and infatuation with Western donors to present a genuine check on the political elite. Finally, if Prime Minister in waiting Sa’ad Hariri was the clear winner of Lebanon’s 2009 elections, then the real star was undoubtedly Minister of Interior Ziad Baroud, a genuine reformer in a sea of heavy weight, Machiavellian politicians. He has been universally praised for his impartiality, professionalism and commitment in managing the massive technical aspects of the elections. His likely inclusion in the upcoming cabinet, currently being negotiated, would represent an important reminder to the collective, and very cynical, Lebanese public consciousness that it is indeed possible to be a politician and actually care about the public interest. If Baroud’s star does indeed continue to rise, then Lebanese voters might just decide that they can and should expect more from the other politicians.

Mossad still stalking malls near U.S. military bases

Mossad still stalking malls near U.S. military bases...

Cells of young Israeli intelligence operatives continue to openly solicit relationships with U.S. military personnel from shopping mall kiosks, according to an informed source. WMR has learned that one such kiosk operates at the MacArthur Center Mall in Norfolk, Virginia where a number of U.S. Navy personnel from the nearby naval bases are regularly confronted by aggressive young Israelis selling Dead Sea cosmetic products who inquire about where the personnel are stationed and the nature of their jobs. Young Israeli women working at the kiosk also appear to want to strike up a closer relationship with some of the naval personnel.

The use of young Israelis, many of whom continue to serve in a reserve status with the Israel Defense force, as intelligence agents, has changed somewhat over the past decade. Young Israeli "art students" first conducted unsolicited visits to the homes and offices of federal and military employees trying to sell cheap Chinese-made bogus Israeli art work while casing neighborhoods and office buildings.

Israeli-operated mall kiosks have transitioned from selling toys to cosmetics.

On August 7, 2005, WMR reported: In November 2001, the INS arrested several Israelis, including some with military backgrounds, selling Puzzle Car and Zoom Copter toys from shopping mall kiosks and vending carts. Many of the malls were located near U.S. government facilities, including the Pentagon and CIA. A majority of the Israelis, arrested for visa violations instead of espionage, worked for a Florida-based company called Quality Sales. A spokesman for the company admitted the company hired vacationing Israeli students but they had the wrong visas. The spokesman also revealed the Israelis were deemed “special interest” cases by INS – a new government designation applied to terrorism suspects in the wake of 911. Federal authorities suspect the Israelis were using the kiosks as intelligence fronts in the same manner that Israelis were using door-to-door art sales as covers. The National Counterintelligence Center (NCIX) stated in a report issued in March 2001 that, “In the past six weeks, employees in federal office buildings located throughout the United States have reported suspicious activities connected with individuals representing themselves as foreign students selling or delivering artwork. Employees have observed both males and females attempting to bypass facility security and enter federal buildings.” The report was temporarily removed from the NCIX web site.

One of the malls where the Israeli “toy sellers” based their operations was the Pentagon City Mall, just across Interstate 395 from the Pentagon. In July 2004, the mall served as the rendezvous point for alleged Israeli Pentagon spy Larry Franklin and Keith Weissman, an AIPAC official. Franklin warned Weissman that Iranian agents were going to start attacking American soldiers and Israeli agents in Iraq. Weissman then went to brief the account of the meeting to Steve Rosen, another senior AIPAC official. They both informed the Israeli embassy in Washington and Glenn Kessler, a reporter for The Washington Post. Those phone calls were being wiretapped by the FBI as part of its investigation of a major Israeli spy ring in the United States, an investigation that had been going on since before the 911 attacks. The FBI was also monitoring meetings between Franklin, Weissman, and Rosen, including one held in February 2003 at the Arlington, Virginia Ritz-Carlton hotel, which adjoins the Pentagon City Mall.

In February 2005, an Israeli man named Ohad Cohen was deported, along with four other Israelis, from Omaha, Nebraska. In what was becoming a common occurrence in the United States, a total of ten Israelis, who were working at shopping mall kiosks in the Omaha and Lincoln areas, were deported by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials for illegally working in the United States on tourist visas. The Israelis operated out of Omaha’s Oak View Mall and Lincoln’s Gateway Westfield Mall. The Federal government probe was reported to be part of a wider probe of Israeli shopping mall kiosk activity throughout the Midwest. In December 2004, FBI and immigration officers arrested 15 Israelis in Minnesota and three operating from a mall kiosk in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Omaha is also the headquarters of the U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command (SAC).

On January 13, 2009, WMR reported: WMR has also learned of other Israeli mall kiosks around the country that hired aggressive Israeli young men and women who badger customers and ask personal questions. Israeli mall kiosks engaged in the aggressive sales practices have been set at the North Shore Mall in Peabody, Massachusetts and Northeast Mall in Hurst, Texas, a Dallas suburb. The mall kiosks in Peabody sell Israeli hand cream and nail files. The kiosk in Hurst has a male overseer, about 45 years old, who lives in the Bahamas.

Many of the Israeli mall vendors claim ignorance when told by customers that Israeli mall kiosks were identified as Mossad front operations in a Fox News report. More incredibly, some Israelis feign ignorance when the term "911" is used. They claim not to know what the term means.

In the same report, WMR reported: Last month, police in New South Wales, Australia arrested the leader of an Israeli "art student" ring who was selling mass-produced paintings from China as valuable art work from Israel. The Israeli man arrested, age 23, fit the profile of a number of Israeli "art students" rounded up, detained, and deported by U.S. authorities in the months prior to 9/11. The "art students" were casing federal offices, military installations, and the homes of federal agents and officials.

The Israeli was arrested by police in Wamberal on Australia's eastern central coast. Fifty Chinese-made oil paintings were found in the Israeli's Mitsubishi station wagon. He was attempting to sell the paintings for between 500 and 1,000 Australian dollars. The Israelis in Australia visited a number of homes and claimed they were university students from Israel. The Israeli arrested lived in Sydney's Bondi Beach neighborhood.

Recently, there was yet another story about the use of Israeli mall kiosk operators as intelligence agents. In the most recent case in Perth, Australia, an Australian man was arrested and charged with violation of an Australian hate crime law for exposing the activities of Israeli-run mall kiosks owned by an Israeli firm in Melbourne whose products are called "Seacret - Minerals From The Dead Sea." The president of the Australian Union of Jewish Students lodged a criminal complaint against the investigator who maintained that Israeli nationals were attempting to obtain classified information on the Royal Australian Navy's Collins class submarine as well as other defense programs.

Afghanistan's Operation Phoenix

Afghanistan's Operation Phoenix

On June 15, AP reported that "Gen. Stanley McChrystal, a four-star American general with a long history in special operations, took charge of US and NATO troops in Afghanistan (today), a change in command the Pentagon hopes will turn the tide in an increasingly violent eight-year war."

McChrystal is a hired gun, an assassin, a man known for committing war crime atrocities as head of the Pentagon's infamous Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) - established in 1980 and comprised of the Army's Delta Force and Navy Seals, de facto death squads writer Seymour Hersh described post-9/11 as an "executive assassination wing" operating out of Dick Cheney's office.

A 2006 Newsweek profile called JSOC "part of what Vice President Dick Cheney was referring to when he said America would have to 'work on the dark side' after 9/11." It called McChrystal then "an affable but tough Army Ranger" with no elaboration of his "dark side" mission.

In his May 17 article titled "Obama's Animal Farm: Bigger, Bloodier Wars Equal Peace and Justice," James Petras called him a "notorious psychopath" in describing him this way:

His rise through the ranks was "marked by his central role in directing special operations teams engaged in extrajudicial assassinations, systematic torture, bombing of civilian communities and search and destroy missions. He is the very embodiment of the brutality and gore that accompanies military-driven empire building."

His resume shows contempt for human life and the rule of law - a depravity Conrad described in his classic work, "Heart of Darkness:" the notion of "exterminat(ing) all the brutes" to civilize them, and removing lesser people to colonize and dominate them by devising battle plans amounting to genocide.

In June 2001, McChrystal became Chief of Staff, XVIII Airborne Corp. After the Afghanistan invasion, he was appointed Chief of Staff, Combined Joint Task Force 180, Operation Enduring Freedom. In September 2003, he was Commanding General, Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). In February 2006, he became Commander, Joint Special Operations - Command/Commander, Joint Special Operations Command Forward, United States Special Operations, then in August 2008 General Director, the Joint Staff until his current appointment as US/NATO Afghanistan commander.

Detailed information of his role in these capacities is classified and unacknowledged, but Human Rights Watch (HRW) revealed some of what he directed in its July 22, 2006 report titled "No Blood, No Foul" - meaning short of drawing blood, all abuses were acceptable and wouldn't result in investigations or prosecution.

HRW reported soldiers' firsthand accounts of detainee abuse by Task Force 20/121/6-26/145 at Baghdad's Camp Nama (an acronym for Nasty-Ass Military Area) and elsewhere in Iraq.

JSOC's assignment was (and still is) to capture or kill "high-value" combatants, including Saddam Hussein, Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, and many hundreds of Iraqis targeted in sweeping capture and extermination missions that include lots of collateral killings and destruction.

Through most of 2003 and 2004, detainees were held at interrogation facilities like Camp Nama at Baghdad International Airport (BIAP). With good reason, it was off-limits to the ICRC and most US military personnel. In summer 2004, it was moved to a new location near Balad and also had facilities in Fallujah, Ramadi and Kirkuk.

US personnel and former detainees reported torture and abuse as common practice, including beatings, confinement in shipping containers for 24 hours in extreme heat, exposure to extreme cold, death threats, humiliation, psychological stress, and much more.

Sergeant Jeff Perry (a pseudonym he requested to avoid recrimination) was a Camp Nama special interrogator during the first half of 2004. He said task force members were military special forces and CIA personnel, none of whom revealed ranks or last names to maintain secrecy.

Five interrogation rooms were used, the harshest called the "black room" where everything was black with speakers in the corners and on the ceiling. A table and chairs were in one corner for a boom box and computer.

Detainees were stripped naked and subjected to stress standing, sleep deprivation, loud noise, strobe lights, beatings, dousing with cold water, and other abuses.

Harshness levels were less severe in other rooms, the "soft room" being least extreme and used for cooperating detainees. However, throughout interrogations, they were shifted from one room to another, but those put in the "black room" were considered the most high-value.

Treatment authorization in writing or by computer came from the camp's command structure - signed by "whoever was in charge at the time" reporting to McChrystal or one of his subordinates.

Sergeant Perry saw him visit Camp Nama several times, and said its commanding officer told interrogators that the White House or Donald Rumsfeld were briefed on the information they obtained. He also learned that the facility was "completely closed off" and secret, and that ICRC, other investigators, and the Army's Criminal Investigation Command (CID) were forbidden access to it.

In March 2006, The New York Times published a feature article based on interviews with over a dozen US personnel who served at Camp Nama or were familiar with its operations. Their accounts corroborated Perry's and included details of other abuses. Much of the same information came out about torture at Guantanamo and other overseas US prisons, including Camp Cropper, Iraq (near Baghdad Airport) now expanded to hold up to 2000 detainees.

HRW reviewed hundreds of "credible allegations of serious mistreatment and torture (as) standard operation procedure" at locations throughout Iraq involving special forces, CIA, and others. Its report is based on firsthand accounts from three locations between 2003 - 2005 when McChrystal was in charge of Special Ops.

On March 31, 2009 on Democracy Now, Seymour Hersh said US forces conducted assassinations in a dozen or more countries, including in Latin and Central America. "And it's been going on and on and on," he said. George Bush "authorized these kinds of actions in the Middle East" and elsewhere...." Now Obama's doing the same thing.

"And the idea that the American president would think he has the constitutional power or the legal right to tell go out and find people based on lists and execute them is just amazing to me...."

During his tenure, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld gave the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) authority to carry out killings anywhere on the globe. Hersh said "it operates out of Florida, and it involves a lot of wings." One is "the Joint Special Op - JSOC. It's a special (Navy Seals and Delta Force) units, the commando units....And they promote from within. It's a unit that has its own promotion structure. And one of the elements....about getting the number of kills you have," especially high-value targets. Cheney was deeply involved. Robert Gates likely is now.

Targeting goes on in a lot of countries besides Iraq and Afghanistan, including Colombia, Eritrea, Madagascar, Kenya, or anywhere to "kill people who are be Al Qaeda....Al Qaeda-linked or anti-American" - fictitious outside enemies without which Obama's wars can't continue nor could they under George Bush..

In his book "America's War on Terrorism," Michel Chossudovsky uncovered evidence that Al Qaeda was a CIA creation from the Soviet-Afghan 1980s war, and 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 remains so today, even though David Ray Griffin's new book ("Osama Bin Laden: Dead or Alive?") provides convincing evidence that he died in late 2001, a conclusion many US counterterrorism experts support and believe his conveniently timed video messages are fakes.

Capturing or Killing Bin Laden

In a January 2009 CBS television interview, Obama suggested that he's dead by saying "whether he is technically alive or not, he is so pinned down that he cannot function. My preference (is) to capture of kill him. But if we have so tightened the noose that he's in a cave somewhere and can't even communicate with his operatives, then we will meet our goal of protecting America."

Nonetheless, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs responded to the latest purported bin Laden statement that it's "consistent with messages we've seen in the past from al Qaeda threatening the US and other countries that are involved in counterterrorism efforts."

So it's no surprise that top administration orders reach field commanders like McChrystal to capture or kill the usual suspects. From known reports about him, he carries them out with relish.

The Obama administration gave him carte blanche authority to choose his staff for their assigned mission - expand the Af-Pak war with more troops, funding, stepped up counterinsurgency, targeted killings, and secret drone and other attacks against any targets he chooses in either country. He'll also have more political control, possibly with a Washington-appointed civilian authority to run the Afghanistan government day to day, making Hamid Karzai more of a figurehead than currently.

Obama's war aims to pacify the country and Afghan/Pakistan border areas through scorched earth terror, targeted assassinations, and as much mass killing as it takes to prevail. McChrystal has the job, a man one observer said "comes from a world where killing by any means is the norm and a blanket of government secrecy provides the necessary protection." All the greater with Obama's endorsement.

Former 82nd Airborne Division commander General David Rodriquez, Defense Secretary Gates' top military aide, will be his deputy. Gates praised McChrystal for his "unique skill set in counterinsurgency" and said the mission of both men and their team "requires new thinking and new approaches by our military leaders." Clearly implied are the Special Ops skills they possess in what an unnamed Defense Department official called "unconventional track and kill insurgents."

These tactics kill many hundreds, displace hundreds of thousands, and enrage civilians on both sides of the Af-Pak border. Yet pursuing them is Obama's top war strategy priority that may include Iraq as violence there heats up.

Operation Phoenix

From 1968 - 1973, the CIA ran or was involved in the Phoenix Program with US Special Forces and its own Military Assistance Command Vietnam-Special Operations Group (MACV-SOG) involving covert missions to crush the National Liberation Front (NLF resistance called the Viet Cong or VC). One person involved called the operation a "depersonalized murder program" to remove opposition and terrorize the population into submission.

In 1975, Counterspy magazine said it was "the most indiscriminate and massive program of political murder since the Nazi death camps of world war two." It even targeted certain US military personnel considered security risks and members of the South Vietnamese government.

In simple terms, the program conducted mass killings and seizures of suspected NLF members and collaborators with special emphasis on high-value targets - by some estimates around 80,000 or more before it ended.

Wayne Cooper was a Foreign Service officer at the time. He spent 18 months in Vietnam, most of it as a Phoenix advisor at Cantho in the Mekong Delta. He called the operation a "disreputable, CIA-inspired effort, often deplored as a bloody-handed assassination program (and) a failure."

In the mid-1960s, it began as a CIA "Counter Terror (CT) program "never recognized by the South Vietnamese government." It "recruited, organized, supplied and directly paid CT teams whose function was to use Vietcong techniques, kidnappings and intimidation - against the Vietcong leadership."

By 1968, the program was expanded and called Intelligence Coordination and Exploitation (ICEX), then Phoenix. From General William Westmoreland and "Ambassador-for-pacification Robert Komer" on down, "neutralizing" the VC was top priority.

Westmoreland took charge. A Civil Operations and Rural Development Support (CORDS) organization was established, under which Phoenix was run. Cooper cited numerous problems for its failure and criticized experts sifting through them to get it right next time. He called the program a "gimmick" unable to "compensate for South Vietnam's" popular opposition to the war and concluded that no counterinsurgency can succeed under those circumstances.

Certainly not in Afghanistan and Iraq, two countries historically opposed to foreign occupations with a record of brave resistance to end them. They represent what the CIA called Vietnam during that earlier era - "the grand illusion of the American cause;" the latest Washington misadventures no matter how long they go on, whatever amounts are spent on them, or how much mass killing and destruction persist under any command. America hasn't won a war (or fought a legal one) since WW II, something Obama might consider as he plans his next move.

Analysis: Former CIA agent warns of Pentagon takeover

Analysis: Former CIA agent warns of Pentagon takeover

Robert Baer

Robert Baer, the former CIA agent whose memoirs were behind the film Syriana, has written a new column for Time magazine, in which he warns that a Pentagon takeover of the CIA may be again in the works. The bureaucratic infighting between military and civilian agencies for control of the CIA is old news. But Baer believes that the military background of Admiral Dennis Blair, President Barack Obama’s new Director for National Intelligence (DNI), may be a factor in placing the Pentagon closer to its ultimate goal of swallowing the CIA. The former CIA agent mentions the dispute between Admiral Blair and CIA Director Leon Panetta over the appointment of Washington’s new intelligence chief in Kabul. Rumor has it that Blair is preparing to name a uniformed officer for the position, whereas Panetta wants to maintain the CIA tradition of appointing a civilian intelligence official. Keep reading →

The US Mainstream Media: Selective Omission and Planned Misinformation

The US Mainstream Media: Selective Omission and Planned Misinformation

boob tubeby Solomon Comissiong
There is method to the maddening homogeneity and shallowness of the U.S. corporate media. “Keeping the public as dumbed down as possible keeps their corporate clients happy and their political partners in power.” Media corporations advertise that they sell “news,” but what they’re really marketing is a daily defense of imperial rule. That’s why, for example, “they won’t tell you how so-called ‘free trade’ policies create sweatshops, plunder, mass migration, and civil unrest.”
The US Mainstream Media: Selective Omission and Planned Misinformation
by Solomon Comissiong
The American mainstream media system continues to be the perfect tool for those who control the empire.”
The idea that the American mainstream media system is a reputable source for comprehensive news and information should be the punch line for any series of good jokes. However, the mainstream media is actually taken seriously within United States borders. And because it is taken seriously, it does immeasurable harm by sustaining a vastly misinformed and isolated American populous. This misinformation begins in public schools and colleges from sea to shining sea.
Far and extremely few between will one find a classroom in the U.S. that actually portrays America, her founders, and her policies as the “bad guys.” Instead of that being the point of reference in which we begin our history and social studies courses, we find the complete opposite: premeditated lies, kicked off bright and early in the morning with the cultish reciting of the “pledge of allegiance.” The pledge, ending with the words “with liberty and justice for all,” should be laughable to anyone that has studied history outside the mainstream channels. With liberty and justice for all? Those words have been disingenuous and insincere since the Pledge of Allegiance’s inception in 1892. I don’t think living under the terror of Jim Crow, lynching, and the US convict lease system embodies “justice for all” for its citizens of color. The sad but honest truth is that most Americans have absolutely no idea of the vast carnage – the crimes against humanity – their country has committed since its tainted “inception.” And for that reason, the American mainstream media system continues to be the perfect tool for those who control the empire.When a majority of the populace has no accurate historical reference whatsoever, and is isolated from the rest of the world, you can feed them whatever pack of lies you wish.
An analytical, diverse, and well working media system informs, engages, and educates its viewers/listeners/readers. The American media system performs none of these beneficial functions. Whether it’s the white supremacist Fox “News” or the so-called liberal CNN (whatever the word ‘liberal’ means to them), the limited range by which they cover current events is pretty much the same. They basically all carry the same narrowly focused news, with different voices and overhead. They all (MSNBC, FOX “News,” CNN, et al) purposely leave out huge chucks of contextual information when they actually do report on events that occur outside of the US. For instance, I recently viewed a “news” story on the so-called liberal MSNBC which was headlined, “War Planes strike Taliban in Pakistan.” I was intrigued to see if the report would have any mention of the masses of civilians that have been destroyed by these US air-strikes. Needless to say, I was not pleasantly surprised. There was no mention of the civilians who were disproportionately affected by the aggressive US policy.
Since taking office the Obama administration has carried out the same hawkish military approach as did the mentally challenged George W. Bush and his band of war mongers.”
If you believe the “news” out of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, U.S. armaments are deployed with precision accuracy, destroying only “enemies.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Since taking office the Obama administration has carried out the same hawkish military approach as did the mentally challenged George W. Bush and his band of war mongers. As Obama fans continue to ride the hollow wave of “change you can believe in,” civilians are perishing by the score in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Why does much of that part of the world hate the US? For an easy answer, start with US foreign policy. If the American mainstream media were actually concerned about professionalism and raising the consciousness of their audiences, the public would be presented with all sides of the story. Given that MSNBC’s parent company is General Electric, the weapons contractor, we shouldn’t be surprised by their pro-military reporting.
US mainstream media abhor historical context and shun expositions of root causes. They won’t tell you how so-called “free trade” policies create sweatshops, plunder, mass migration, and civil unrest. A recent example would be the mass killings of civilians ordered by Peru’s pro-western president, Alan Garcia, when indigenous Peruvians protested the selling off of enormous chunks of the Amazon rainforest. If no change is made, the indigenous Peruvians will see North American gas and oil companies, like ConocoPhillips, destroy vast tracts of their land to serve greedy capitalist interests. You won’t see a full and fair presentation of this story on any mainstream outlets. And you can be that whatever coverage of the Peruvian crisis is allowed will be from the capitalists’ perspective. As a result, Americans are at least partially shielded from the suffering caused by their own country’s long legacy of imperialism.
The corporate media keep us in the dark because they have to.”
The American mainstream media system is a very powerful and dangerous appendage of a system that does not give a damn about the advancement of the rest of humanity. Its true function is to project the worldview and culture of the imperial system, of which it is an integral component. Popular apathy and disengagement, and an abysmal general ignorance, are the inevitable and natural result. The criminal minded mainstream media have no interest in putting domestic and world events in their proper context. Keeping the public as dumbed down as possible keeps their corporate clients happy and their political partners in power. After all, if most Americans truly knew that their country’s government was at the root of most of the nation’s international disputes, they actually might try to rise up and do something about it. Whether it be murderous coup d’états, illegally funded clandestine wars, assassination attempts, unequal and oppressive “free” trade agreements, or inhumane sanctions – the US government has participated in all of the above.
These are the dirty little secrets that, if exposed to the majority, could provoke real change in the way America does “business” with other countries. The corporate media keep us in the dark because they have to. These private communications corporations dictate to Americans what they need to think, when they need to think it, and who they need to hate. They fulfill the role assigned them by the larger corporate structures.
After all, if Americans knew the real truth, they might recognize that the nexus of their – and the world’s – problems is located in their own government’s policies.

On The Pretense of Peace

On The Pretense of Peace
By Brenda Heard
Friends of Lebanon

On Sunday 14 June 2009, hours before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a statement announcing his expectations of the international community, Israeli F-16 jets dropped several bombs along the southern Gaza border. The Israeli military said it was targeting underground tunnels. Four Palestinians were wounded. (More on the exchange of hostilities here and here.)

As the Palestinians were being treated in hospital, Netanyahu proclaimed, “Peace has always been our people’s most ardent desire. In fact the speech was interwoven with Hallmark-Greeting-Card-messages of tranquil harmony. “If we join hands and work together for peace. . . .”

Cut the violins. In essence, Netanyahu stated that he expected the international community to support his desire to turn his holy land into his Disneyland so as to regain the tourist trade needed to bolster an ailing Israeli economy. We could make this whole Palestinian problem go away, he said, if we simply ignore those we forced out and bend those remaining into complete submission. Lest anyone get the wrong idea, though, we’ll let them keep a flag and a song. Just to prove how civilised we are.

At one point Netanyahu refers* to “Hamas in the south” and “Hizbullah in the north.” In the south? In the north? South and north of what? Hamas is in Palestine. Hizbullah is in Lebanon. But not in the Zionist eyes of Netanyahu: to him, Hamas is in the south of Israel; Hizbullah is in the north of Israel. Yet still Western media provides such headlines as “Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu endorses creation of Palestinian state” Look again, New York Daily News, south of what??

Netanyahu stated ever-so graciously, “I turn to all Arab leaders tonight and I say: “Let us meet. Let us speak of peace and let us make peace.” I am ready to meet with you at any time… I turn to you, our Palestinian neighbors, led by the Palestinian Authority, and I say: Let’s begin negotiations immediately without preconditions…” [emphasis added].

And then: “a fundamental prerequisite for ending the conflict is a public, binding and unequivocal Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. To vest this declaration with practical meaning, there must also be a clear understanding that the Palestinian refugee problem will be resolved outside Israel’s borders. For it is clear that any demand for resettling Palestinian refugees within Israel undermines Israel’s continued existence as the state of the Jewish people.”
Rather a significant precondition.

He further states that “within this [Jewish] homeland lives a large Palestinian community.” Again a statement that indicates he views the entire territory as Israel, with the Palestinians being intruders. The fate of the Palestinians, he states, depends “firmly on those principles essential for Israel. I have already stressed the first principle – recognition. Palestinians must clearly and unambiguously recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people. The second principle is: demilitarization. The territory under Palestinian control must be demilitarized with ironclad security provisions for Israel.”
Two more rather significant preconditions.

Just getting warmed up, he adds a few more stipulations “to achieve peace”: “we must ensure that Palestinians will not be able (1) to import missiles into their territory, (2) to field an army, (3) to close their airspace to us, or (4) to make pacts with the likes of Hizbullah and Iran.” [numbering added] With unabashed insistence on these preconditions, he explains that “It is impossible to expect us to agree in advance to the principle of a Palestinian state without assurances that this state will be demilitarized. On a matter so critical to the existence of Israel, we must first have our security needs addressed.”

And just in case there is any question on what he means by submission to Israeli terms means, Netanyahu reiterates:

“Therefore, today we ask our friends in the international community, led by the United States, for what is critical to the security of Israel: Clear commitments that in a future peace agreement, the territory controlled by the Palestinians will be demilitarized: namely, without an army, without control of its airspace, and with effective security measures to prevent weapons smuggling into the territory – real monitoring, and not what occurs in Gaza today. And obviously, the Palestinians will not be able to forge military pacts. Without this, sooner or later, these territories will become another Hamastan. And that we cannot accept.”

“Hamastan”? Is that meant to be clever?

The shopping list continues—not only will the Palestinian Authority “have to establish the rule of law in Gaza and overcome Hamas,” but it should be remembered that “Israel needs defensible borders, and Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel with continued religious freedom for all faiths. The territorial question will be discussed as part of the final peace agreement. In the meantime, we have no intention of building new settlements or of expropriating additional land for existing settlements.” [emphasis added]

The next day, 15 June, Israeli Rightists responded to Netanyahu’s speech: “We’ll build dozens more outposts” Israeli media Ynet reports that “Right wing activists announced on Monday that they plan to build dozens of new outposts throughout the West Bank, in response to recent statements made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama. ‘This is the appropriate Zionist response to Netanyahu’s speech and Obama’s speech. The goal is to build new outposts and expand the existing ones,’ the rightists’ statement said.”

But then how much of the history of Israeli aggression has been dismissed as “unintentional”?

The first thing I have to say, because it is the single most important thing, is that the Zionist owned media is an international lie machine. Its business is based on lies. Its products are lies and all of its employees are liars. The first thing any reader of the MSM must say to themselves as they begin to read or listen to anything found there is, “This is a lie. What sort of lie is it? Why is this particular lie being told and… what sort of amplifiers are they using for the air guitars and lip synching...?

Friends of Lebanon

Full text of Netanyahu’s statement, as documented by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

UN diplomat is new chief of UK's MI6 spy agency

  • FILE  --  In this Thursday, Feb. 28, 2008 file photo Britain's United Nations Britain's United Nations ambassador John Sawers, …

John Sawers will take up his new post in November, the prime minister's office said in a statement Tuesday.

He replaces John Scarlett, whose career has been dogged by concerns over the intelligence used to build the case for the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Scarlett is retiring after five years.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Downing Street office said in a statement that Sawers, 53, was rejoining MI6 — but declined to give details of his previous appointment with the intelligence agency, formally known as the Secret Intelligence Service or SIS.

MI6 only began publicly naming its chief in the 1990s. Until 1992, Britain's government refused to confirm the organization's existence.

Like all heads of MI6, Sawers will be known as "C" in tribute to the agency's first chief Capt. Mansfield Cumming — who signed himself "C" in green ink on official documents. Each chief since has used the initial "C" to sign off papers.

Sawers previously served as ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair's chief foreign policy adviser and as the Foreign Office's political director, when he joined negotiations with Tehran over its alleged pursuit of nuclear weapons.

He has also held diplomatic postings to New York, Washington, Syria, Yemen and South Africa. Sawers studied in Britain and at Harvard and the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa.

Sawers is currently the U.K.'s permanent representative to the U.N., leading the British delegation at the assembly.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Sawers would lead the agency amid increasing threats from international terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

"He's going to have his work cut out in terms of the deteriorating situations in both Iran and Pakistan," British opposition Conservative party lawmaker Patrick Mercer said.

Scarlett was head of Britain's Joint Intelligence Committee prior to his appointment as MI6 chief in May 2004.

He was called to give evidence to two government inquiries which examined intelligence gathered prior to the Iraq war — including one panel which criticized intelligence officials for relying on seriously flawed or unreliable sources.

Scarlett has overseen a rapid expansion of MI6 since the September 2001 attacks on the United States, and led the agency's work attempting to thwart attacks on Britain plotted overseas — chiefly in northwestern Pakistan.

Several major terrorism trials in recent years have seen Britons with family ties to Pakistan jailed. Brown has said that about two-thirds of all terrorist plots against Britain have links to Pakistan.

In recent testimony to Parliament's Intelligence and Security oversight committee, Scarlett acknowledged he was keeping veteran staff in their posts beyond their usual retirement age.

He said MI6 needed the knowledge and skills of aging staff amid the current terrorist threat.

Waltz with Bibi

Waltz with Bibi
By Gilad Atzmon

An old Israeli Joke

Rightwing Settler: Next summer we are going to expel all the Palis who are still on our land.

Leftwing Israeli: This is fine with us, but just make sure that you use air-conditioned buses.

Netanyahu’s speech on Sunday taught us once again that Jewish national political polarity is a myth. In reality, there is no such thing.

Once the Zionist political soup is ready to be served, there is no real difference between Benyamin Netanyahu and the so-called ‘Israeli left.’

They all say YES to a Palestinian state and NO to the Right of Return, for what they really want is the ‘Jews only state.’

A few months ago we wondered where the Israeli ‘left’ is, as if there has ever been such a thing. Now we happen to wonder where the ‘right’ is.

In fact, in Israel, all you have is rabid racist rightists. People who sincerely believe in the bizarre Jewish right to celebrate their national aspirations at the expense of others.

They all believe in Jewish isolation and segregation. All they really want is a sealed Jewish ghetto located on historical Palestine. They want to be surrounded by high separation walls. They actually don’t mind if there is a Palestinian state behind these walls as long as they don’t see it, they don’t smell it and they don’t hear it. They do not mind a Palestinian state as long as it doesn’t own its sky and they succeed in grabbing all its water.

Interestingly enough, they all manage to forget that in this saga they are not alone, there are Palestinians as well.

They somehow forget that it is actually down to the Palestinians to agree upon the existence of a Jewish state over their land, cities, villages, fields and orchards, around their rivers and near to their shore.

Honestly, I do not think that this is ever going to happen.

More than a while ago the Jewish state crossed into the no return zone, its disintegration is imminent. Even Barack Obama won’t be able to save it.

Mr. Obama, Tear Down This Empire.....but OBONGO is no Reagan

Obama a Very Smooth Liar: ...

Mr. Obama, Tear Down This Empire

by Laurence Vance , 2009


Twenty-two years ago, June 12, 1987, President Ronald Reagan made a speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate at the Berlin Wall in which he implored Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.” Within a year, the wall that symbolized repression and tyranny did in fact come crashing down. But with the demise of the Soviet Union, there is something else that should likewise have been toppled: the U.S. empire of troops and bases that encircles the globe.

Mr. Obama, Tear down this empire.

The kingdom of Alexander the Great reached to the borders of India. The Roman Empire controlled Western Europe and the Hellenized states that bordered the Mediterranean. The Mongol Empire stretched from Southeast Asia to Europe. The Byzantine Empire lasted over a thousand years. The Ottoman Empire stretched from the Persian Gulf in the east to Hungary in the northwest; and from Egypt in the south to the Caucasus in the north. At the height of its dominion, the British Empire included almost a quarter of the world’s population.

Nothing, however, compares to the U.S. global empire. It is an empire that would make Alexander the Great, Caesar Augustus, Genghis Khan, Suleiman the Magnificent, Emperor Justinian, and King George V proud. What makes U.S. hegemony unique is that it consists, not of control over great landmasses or population centers, but of a global presence unlike that of any other country in history.

Sure, Donald Rumsfeld maintained: “We don’t seek empires. We’re not imperialistic. We never have been.” Right. Just like Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Just like the war in Iraq was supposed to be a cakewalk. Just like Bush told us, “we don’t torture.” Some neocons are a bit more honest, like CFR Senior Fellow Max Boot, who rejects the term “imperialism,” but insists that the United States “should definitely embrace the practice.”

Those who believe that it is in the national interest of the United States to intervene in conflicts around the globe, attempt to control foreign governments, and spread our political and economic systems to other countries by force argue that we are not an empire because we haven’t annexed any country’s soil in over a hundred years. But America’s unprecedented global presence of troops, bases, and ships clearly says otherwise.

The extent of the U.S. global empire is almost incalculable. The Department of Defense’s “Base Structure Report” states that the Department’s physical assets consist of “more than 545,700 facilities (buildings, structures and linear structures) located on more than 5,400 sites, on approximately 40 million acres.” There are 268 sites in Germany alone. The 316,238 buildings occupied by the DOD comprise over 2.2 billion square feet with a value of over $455 billion. The DOD manages almost 30 million acres of land worldwide. There are over 700 U.S. military bases on foreign soil in 63 countries. The United States has official commitments to provide security to over 35 countries.

In addition to the 1.1 million U.S. military personnel stationed in the United States and its territories, there are almost 300,000 U.S. troops in foreign countries—not even counting the over 200,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. With its geographic command centers (NORTHCOM, CENTCOM, etc.) that cover the globe, the United States apparently views the whole earth as its territory. According to the DOD’s quarterly report titled “Active Duty Military Personnel Strengths by Regional Area and by Country,” there are U.S. troops stationed in 146 countries and 12 territories in every corner of the globe. This means that U.S. troops occupy about 75 percent of the world’s countries.

Although President Obama has talked about removing thousands of U.S. troops from Iraq, it should come as no surprise that the United States will have its forces in Iraq for many years to come. There are 82,460 U.S. soldiers in Europe to face a non-existent Soviet Union. There are still 33,286 troops in Japan—almost seventy years after World War II. But even where the United States did not fight a war, there are large numbers of U.S. troops to be found. There are 1,220 U.S. soldiers stationed in Spain and 9,426 soldiers stationed in the United Kingdom. What are 41 U.S. soldiers doing soaking up the sun in the Bahamas? What strategic interest is there in the United States having soldiers in places like Australia and New Zealand? The United States has troops in places most Americans couldn’t even locate on a map—like Tunisia and Cameroon. And in addition to military personnel, the Department of Defense employs 700,000 civilians worldwide, including thousands of foreign nationals.

The DOD’s personnel, bases, weapons, and equipment come with a heavy price.

According to economist and historian Robert Higgs, real U.S. defense spending is around $1 trillion. This accounts for over half of the world’s military-related spending. The United States is also the world’s chief arms dealer, as the residents of Gaza recently discovered.

But instead of all of this being an example of imperialism, empire, and foreign policy on steroids, we are told by neoconservative intellectuals that the United States is merely exercising “benevolent hegemony,” that America “has been the greatest force for good in the world during the past century,” and that the invasion of Iraq was “the greatest act of benevolence one country has ever done for another.”

With troops in about 100 countries and territories, the U.S. empire was firmly in place soon after World War II. But the “Good War” was not the beginning. Between the two world wars, U.S. troops were sent to Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Russia, Panama, Honduras, Yugoslavia, Guatemala, Turkey, and China. But World War I was not the beginning either. Before the “Great War,” U.S. troops were sent to Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Korea, Cuba, Nicaragua, China, and Mexico. And although we might begin the U.S. empire with the seizure from Spain of Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, and Guam during the Spanish-American War of 1898, we can actually go back a few years earlier to U.S. intervention in Hawaii before we deposed the monarch and annexed the territory.

U.S. foreign policy can only be described as aggressive, reckless, belligerent, and meddling. Its fruits are the destabilization and overthrow of governments, the destruction of industry and infrastructure, the backing of military coups, death squads, and drug traffickers, imperialism under the guise of humanitarianism, support for corrupt and tyrannical governments, brutal sanctions and embargoes, and failed attempts to police the world. U.S. foreign policy results in nothing but discord, strife, hatred, and terrorism toward the United States. U.S. foreign policy is also very arrogant. What would Americans think if some country—any country—stated its intention to construct a naval base in Key West, Florida? They would be outraged. So why the double standard? Does might make right? What gives the United States the right to encircle the world with bases?

Mr. Obama, Tear down this empire.

It is not enough for the president just to close down the Guantánamo prison in Cuba. The Guantánamo Bay Naval Base, which the United States has occupied for over 100 years, should be closed as well. The problem with the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission is that military base realignment and closure recommendations are all in the United States. All Status of Forces Agreements should be rescinded, all foreign bases closed, and all troops brought home. Yes, it’s a radical proposal, but only because America has long ago rejected the Founding Fathers foreign policy of nonintervention.

Now, we know that one man shouldn’t have so much power over so much. But the Congress that hasn’t issued a declaration of war since World War II—while funding several major wars and scores of other military interventions since then—isn’t going to do anything to significantly change U.S. foreign policy. And historically, it has been the executive branch that drives U.S. foreign policy anyway.

And to ensure that no future president again expands the U.S. empire, we need, not a renewal of the War Powers Act, but something with some real teeth, like Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler’s (1881–1940) proposed peace amendment. This amendment would prohibit the removal of the Army from within the continental limits of the United States, the Navy from steaming more than 500 miles from the coast, and the Air Force from flying more than 750 miles from American soil. This “would be absolute guarantee to the women of America that their loved ones never would be sent overseas to be needlessly shot down in European or Asiatic or African wars that are no concern of our people.”

Butler reasoned that because of “our geographical position, it is all but impossible for any foreign power to muster, transport and land sufficient troops on our shores for a successful invasion.” In this he was merely echoing Thomas Jefferson, who recognized that geography was one of the great advantages of the United States: “At such a distance from Europe and with such an ocean between us, we hope to meddle little in its quarrels or combinations. Its peace and its commerce are what we shall court.”

But even without the advantage of geography, a policy of nonintervention is sufficient, as Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) has pointed out: “Countries like Switzerland and Sweden who promote neutrality and non-intervention have benefited for the most part by remaining secure and free of war over the centuries.”

A policy of nonintervention doesn’t mean that the United States should refuse to issue visas, trade, extradite criminals, allow travel abroad, or allow immigration. As Jefferson said in his first inaugural address: “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations—entangling alliances with none.”

Mr. Obama, if you welcome change and openness, there is one sign the United States can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. President Obama, if you seek peace, if you seek relief from bloated military budgets for the United States and the rest of the world, close down the overseas military bases. Mr. Obama, bring the troops home. Mr. Obama, tear down this empire!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

America’s eternal pandemic of utter corruption

America’s eternal pandemic of utter corruption

Think of it as a really lethal swine flu or flu for swine, not a made up one to instill fear in the population, but as the Washington Post reports Lawmakers Reveal Healthcare Investments.

In fact I quote: “Almost 30 key lawmakers helping draft landmark healthcare legislation have financial holdings in the industry, totaling nearly $11 million worth of personal investments in a sector that could be dramatically reshaped by this summer’s debate.”

Members with personal investments in corporations affected by coming legislation, America’s highest priority, according to Obama, include our Congress’s “most powerful leaders and a bipartisan collection of lawmakers in key committee posts. Their total healthcare holdings could be worth $27 million . . . congressional financial disclosure forms released yesterday require report of only broad ranges of holdings rather than precise values of assets.” Does that make you feel sick? Me, too.

Why, even old Senate Majority Leader, hang-dog Harry Reid, Dem from Las Vegas, excuse me, Nevada, has $50,000 invested in a healthcare index. Senator Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), a health committee senior member has something between $254,000 and $560,000 of stock in major healthcare companies like Bristol-Myers, Squibb and Merck. Now, being a pandemic this corruption attacks swine on both sides of the aisle. Representative Jane Harman (D-Calif), senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee (drafting that chamber’s legislation), held some $3.2 million in over 20 healthcare companies as of last year’s end.

But, being a true pandemic, this corruption does not only limit itself to healthcare business. Regarding the inglorious War on Terror, which President for Change would like to continue in Afghanistan, writer Jeremy Scahill reports US War Privatization Results in Billions Lost in Fraud, Waste and Abuse. Read on . . . then read the whole article.

“At a hearing in Washington today, the federal Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan is releasing a 111-page report that represents its ‘initial investigations of the nation’s heavy reliance on contractors.”

According to a release on the hearing, “More than 240,000 contractor employees, about 80 percent of them foreign nationals, are working in Iraq and Afghanistan to support operations and projects of the U.S. military, the Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Contractor employees outnumber U.S. troops in the region. While contractors provide vital services, the Commission believes their use has also entailed billions of dollars lost to waste, fraud, and abuse due to inadequate planning, poor contract drafting, limited competition, understaffed oversight functions, and other problems.

“These statistics support a recent DoD report on the extent of the US reliance on contractors. That report also found that there has been a 23% increase in the number of ‘Private Security Contractors’ working for the Department of Defense in Iraq in the second quarter of 2009 and a 29% increase in Afghanistan, which ‘correlates to the build up of forces’ in the country. In Iraq, the Pentagon attributes the increase to better accounting. There are currently more private contractors (counting both armed and unarmed) in Afghanistan (68,197) than US troops (40,000). In Iraq, the number of contractors (132,610) is basically equal to the number of US troops.

“The single greatest beneficiary of the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is KBR, the former Halliburton subsidiary. KBR has been paid nearly $32 billion since 2001. In May, April Stephenson, director of the Defense Contract Audit Agency, testified that KBR was linked to ‘the vast majority’ of war-zone fraud cases and a majority of the $13 billion in ‘questioned’ or ‘unsupported’ costs. According to Agency, it sent the inspector general ‘a total of 32 cases of suspected over-billing, bribery and other violations since 2004.’

“According to the Associated Press, which obtained an early copy of the commission’s report, ‘billions of dollars’ of the total paid to KBR ‘ended up wasted due to poorly defined work orders, inadequate oversight and contractor inefficiencies.’

KBR is at the center of a lethal scandal involving the electrocution deaths of more than a dozen US soldiers, allegedly as a result of faulty electrical work done by the company. The DoD paid KBR more than $80 million in bonuses for the very work that resulted in the electrocution deaths.

“Among the other scandals involving KBR that the commission is investigating is a questionable contract to rebuild a large dining facility at Camp Delta in Iraq. . . .”

KBR is Kellogg, Brown & Root, Halliburton’s spun-off subsidiary, the company that Dick Cheney headed up as CEO for many years, with many checks still coming after he left to become vice president, and as KBR/Halliburton kept getting contracts awarded under the non-standards described above.

But let’s return to the Washington Post for a little back story on banking and the Senate, lest you think they just screw you on healthcare. “On the Senate banking committee, at least a half-dozen senators had significant investments in companies that benefited from the $700 billion bailout legislation that the panel helped draft last fall. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) reported $18,000 to $95,000 in investments in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae bonds, and also that he sold at least $15,000 in Fannie ‘step-up’ bonds at the end of last year. The committee’s ranking Republican, Sen. Richard C. Shelby (Miss.), reported holding $260,000 to $850,000 in money market and retirement accounts with Countrywide, Citigroup and Wachovia.”

How about that Dick Shelby? He’s got a major flu for swine case. If our political leaders are up to their armpits in this corruption, is it any wonder that Wall Street should be the casino it is? Here’s a little taste of The Rise And Fall of AIG’s Financial Products Unit, a group of swine who help synthesized the derivatives virus. Enjoy.

So what’s the bottom line? It seems we need massive doses, inoculations of honesty, character, ethics, morality, suppression of greed, choosing right from wrong. I can’t remember those qualities in the very air we breathe since I was kid in post WW II years. We had won a war against the Nazis. Four hundred thousand Americans gave their lives to do that. We were world-class heroes, not world-class crooks, which is not to say that even then the germs of corruption weren’t growing inside us. This as the OSS morphed into the CIA, a private dark ops organization for the president and his National Security Council.

Nevertheless, the wonder years of my boyhood did come with a sense during WW II that we were all in this America together. That we shared its goals, its dreams, its hopes, even though segregation haunted the armed forces, the Klan raged in the south, and so on. There still was some sense that people in high places, i.e., Roosevelt, then Truman, then Eisenhower, even heads of corporations, owed their best efforts to the people of America who elevated them to the top. This was a time that saw the GI Bill, which enabled servicemen to go to the best colleges in America. A GI could also get a mortgage easily for a starter house. And we were rebuilding Europe, alas somewhat in our image. There was some form of social contract with leaders and people to the do the right thing.

Unfortunately, by the time we reached Reagan, B-actor, strings pulled by his handlers, it was all a pile of rubbish, those values, that sense of sharing, that common dream. And it has been duly reported that it was all downhill since. The pandemic of corruption had struck. Deregulation hit, banks sold themselves out. Legislation to monitor markets was torn up and thrown on the garbage pile. And a new kind of American emerged, the Mr. Me American, who thought of his wealth, his family, his piece of private money, his piece of vigorish on the system. Well, it’s come full circle now, when you have the Washington Post, a mainstream newspaper, reporting side by side with blogs about the ceaseless, daily corruption top down, like a trickle-down economics that will wash this country out to sea if it doesn’t stop.

Yet in the midst of this, I read that for the first time in decades, savings have gone up 6 percent. Americans are putting away money, not continuing to be guinea pigs to the pandemic of debt. Perhaps this candle in the darkness marks a turning point. The point people realize when enough is enough, when borrowing on your soul is not an option, and when assets can be liabilities, and when liabilities are not assets to be flicked with a stroke of the computer from the red side of the balance sheet to the black. Let’s hope. Hope for a sign that we are not as morally bankrupt top-down as we are economically and that the root cause of corruption can be gotten hold off and stilled, eradicated for some period of time.

Let’s hope that when a leader swears an oath to serve, he means serve not just serve himself. That when a CEO takes the corner office he’s not Ken Lay there to screw every employee, stockholder and customer that got him there. And let’s hope Lay really is in that coffin that got him off the hook of a lifetime jail sentence as his underling Robert Skilling does his 25 years of hard time and hopefully, hopefully, learns right from wrong. As the saying goes, “physician, heal thyself.”

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