"In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act." -George Orwell

Posts Tagged ‘Libya’

Syrian “Intervention”: Making The World Safe For Banksters

In Uncategorized on September 10, 2013 at 1:20 pm

Oldspeak: “D’oh! U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry may have royally screwed the pooch on the war plan by saying”that Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, could avoid strikes by agreeing to give up his chemical weapons. “He could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week — turn it over, all of it, without delay and allow the full and total accounting,” . He inadvertently gave the Syrians an out! The Russians, eager to protect one of their last remaining client states in the middle east, jumped on the opportunity to avoid regime change, by making the Syrians agree to give up their chemical weapons ASAP and the Syrians have “welcomed it”. So now the warmongers have to pump their brakes and possibly halt the escalation of their proxy war with the Russians. One has to wonder why the Nobel Peace Prize winner has been soooo hot to go to war on flimsy intelligence and amidst reports that both sides are guilty of war crimes? All for bombing, with detailed, documented, technically compliant & publicly available reports of atrocities committed by Syrian rebels, including releases of chemical weapons?! Why is bombing Syria an option after an alleged, unconfirmed and still being investigated Syrian government chemical weapons release, but not after a confirmed report of rebel chemical weapons release, known of since APRIL!? Greg Palast and Ellen Hodges Brown may have uncovered the answer:

Greg Palast posted evidence of a secret late-1990s plan devised by Wall Street and U.S. Treasury officials to open banking to the lucrative derivatives business. To pull this off required the relaxation of banking regulations not just in the US but globally. The vehicle to be used was the Financial Services Agreement of the World Trade Organization. The “end-game” would require not just coercing support among WTO members but taking down those countries refusing to join. Some key countries remained holdouts from the WTO, including Iraq, Libya, Iran and Syria. In these Islamic countries, banks are largely state-owned; and “usury” – charging rent for the “use” of money – is viewed as a sin, if not a crime. That puts them at odds with the Western model of rent extraction by private middlemen. Publicly-owned banks are also a threat to the mushrooming derivatives business, since governments with their own banks don’t need interest rate swaps, credit default swaps, or investment-grade ratings by private rating agencies in order to finance their operations….

Countries laboring under the yoke of an extractive private banking system are being forced into “structural adjustment” and austerity by their unrepayable debt. But some countries have managed to escape. In the Middle East, these are the targeted “rogue nations.” Their state-owned banks can issue the credit of the state on behalf of the state, leveraging public funds for public use without paying a massive tribute to private middlemen. Generous state funding allows them to provide generously for their people.

Like Libya and Iraq before they were embroiled in war, Syria provides free education at all levels and free medical care. It also provides subsidized housing for everyone (although some of this has been compromised by adoption of an IMF structural adjustment program in 2006 and the presence of about 2 million Iraqi and Palestinian refugees). Iran too provides nearly free higher education and primary health care.

Like Libya and Iraq before takedown, Syria and Iran have state-owned central banks that issue the national currency and are under government control. Whether these countries will succeed in maintaining their financial sovereignty in the face of enormous economic, political and military pressure remains to be seen.” –Ellen Hodges Brown

So no, this war is not about preventing the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government. It’s about money. Specifically unregulated  and private gambling with other people’s money, then forcing them to pay when the gamble goes bad. It’s about aggressively continuing the relentless march of  Really Existing Capitalist Democracy around the world. Everything privatized. All under corprocratic control and surveillance. A globally controlled debt creation & extraction system, that no one can avoid paying tribute to; religion be damned. Oh, and securing Syria’s oil and routes for gas pipelines. -OSJ

By Ellen Hodges Brown @ Web Of Debt:

The powers of financial capitalism had another far reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole.

— Prof. Caroll Quigley, Georgetown University, Tragedy and Hope (1966)

Iraq and Libya have been taken out, and Iran has been heavily boycotted. Syria is now in the cross-hairs. Why? Here is one overlooked scenario. 

In an August 2013 article titled “Larry Summers and the Secret ‘End-game’ Memo,” Greg Palast posted evidence of a secret late-1990s plan devised by Wall Street and U.S. Treasury officials to open banking to the lucrative derivatives business. To pull this off required the relaxation of banking regulations not just in the US but globally. The vehicle to be used was the Financial Services Agreement of the World Trade Organization.

The “end-game” would require not just coercing support among WTO members but taking down those countries refusing to join. Some key countries remained holdouts from the WTO, including Iraq, Libya, Iran and Syria. In these Islamic countries, banks are largely state-owned; and “usury” – charging rent for the “use” of money – is viewed as a sin, if not a crime. That puts them at odds with the Western model of rent extraction by private middlemen. Publicly-owned banks are also a threat to the mushrooming derivatives business, since governments with their own banks don’t need interest rate swaps, credit default swaps, or investment-grade ratings by private rating agencies in order to finance their operations.

Bank deregulation proceeded according to plan, and the government-sanctioned and -nurtured derivatives business mushroomed into a $700-plus trillion pyramid scheme. Highly leveraged, completely unregulated, and dangerously unsustainable, it collapsed in 2008 when investment bank Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, taking a large segment of the global economy with it. The countries that managed to escape were those sustained by public banking models outside the international banking net.

These countries were not all Islamic. Forty percent of banks globally are publicly-owned. They are largely in the BRIC countries—Brazil, Russia, India and China—which house forty percent of the global population. They also escaped the 2008 credit crisis, but they at least made a show of conforming to Western banking rules. This was not true of the “rogue” Islamic nations, where usury was forbidden by Islamic teaching. To make the world safe for usury, these rogue states had to be silenced by other means. Having failed to succumb to economic coercion, they wound up in the crosshairs of the powerful US military.

Here is some data in support of that thesis.

The End-game Memo

In his August 22nd article, Greg Palast posted a screenshot of a 1997 memo from Timothy Geithner, then Assistant Secretary of International Affairs under Robert Rubin, to Larry Summers, then Deputy Secretary of the Treasury. Geithner referred in the memo to the “end-game of WTO financial services negotiations” and urged Summers to touch base with the CEOs of Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Bank of America, Citibank, and Chase Manhattan Bank, for whom private phone numbers were provided.

The game then in play was the deregulation of banks so that they could gamble in the lucrative new field of derivatives. To pull this off required, first, the repeal of Glass-Steagall, the 1933 Act that imposed a firewall between investment banking and depository banking in order to protect depositors’ funds from bank gambling. But the plan required more than just deregulating US banks. Banking controls had to be eliminated globally so that money would not flee to nations with safer banking laws. The “endgame” was to achieve this global deregulation through an obscure addendum to the international trade agreements policed by the World Trade Organization, called the Financial Services Agreement. Palast wrote:

Until the bankers began their play, the WTO agreements dealt simply with trade in goods–that is, my cars for your bananas.  The new rules ginned-up by Summers and the banks would force all nations to accept trade in “bads” – toxic assets like financial derivatives.

Until the bankers’ re-draft of the FSA, each nation controlled and chartered the banks within their own borders.  The new rules of the game would force every nation to open their markets to Citibank, JP Morgan and their derivatives “products.”

And all 156 nations in the WTO would have to smash down their own Glass-Steagall divisions between commercial savings banks and the investment banks that gamble with derivatives.

The job of turning the FSA into the bankers’ battering ram was given to Geithner, who was named Ambassador to the World Trade Organization.

WTO members were induced to sign the agreement by threatening their access to global markets if they refused; and they all did sign, except Brazil. Brazil was then threatened with an embargo; but its resistance paid off, since it alone among Western nations survived and thrived during the 2007-2009 crisis. As for the others:

The new FSA pulled the lid off the Pandora’s box of worldwide derivatives trade.  Among the notorious transactions legalized: Goldman Sachs (where Treasury Secretary Rubin had been Co-Chairman) worked a secret euro-derivatives swap with Greece which, ultimately, destroyed that nation.  Ecuador, its own banking sector de-regulated and demolished, exploded into riots.  Argentina had to sell off its oil companies (to the Spanish) and water systems (to Enron) while its teachers hunted for food in garbage cans.  Then, Bankers Gone Wild in the Eurozone dove head-first into derivatives pools without knowing how to swim–and the continent is now being sold off in tiny, cheap pieces to Germany.

The Holdouts

That was the fate of countries in the WTO, but Palast did not discuss those that were not in that organization at all, including Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran. These seven countries were named by U.S. General Wesley Clark (Ret.) in a 2007 “Democracy Now” interview as the new “rogue states” being targeted for take down after September 11, 2001. He said that about 10 days after 9-11, he was told by a general that the decision had been made to go to war with Iraq. Later, the same general said they planned to take out seven countries in five years: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran.

What did these countries have in common? Besides being Islamic, they were not members either of the WTO or of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). That left them outside the long regulatory arm of the central bankers’ central bank in Switzerland. Other countries later identified as “rogue states” that were also not members of the BIS included North Korea, Cuba, and Afghanistan.

The body regulating banks today is called the Financial Stability Board (FSB), and it is housed in the BIS in Switzerland. In 2009, the heads of the G20 nations agreed to be bound by rules imposed by the FSB, ostensibly to prevent another global banking crisis. Its regulations are not merely advisory but are binding, and they can make or break not just banks but whole nations. This was first demonstrated in 1989, when the Basel I Accord raised capital requirements a mere 2%, from 6% to 8%. The result was to force a drastic reduction in lending by major Japanese banks, which were then the world’s largest and most powerful creditors. They were undercapitalized, however, relative to other banks. The Japanese economy sank along with its banks and has yet to fully recover.

Among other game-changing regulations in play under the FSB are Basel III and the new bail-in rules. Basel III is slated to impose crippling capital requirements on public, cooperative and community banks, coercing their sale to large multinational banks.

The “bail-in” template was first tested in Cyprus and follows regulations imposed by the FSB in 2011. Too-big-to-fail banks are required to draft “living wills” setting forth how they will avoid insolvency in the absence of government bailouts. The FSB solution is to “bail in” creditors – including depositors – turning deposits into bank stock, effectively confiscating them.

The Public Bank Alternative

Countries laboring under the yoke of an extractive private banking system are being forced into “structural adjustment” and austerity by their unrepayable debt. But some countries have managed to escape. In the Middle East, these are the targeted “rogue nations.” Their state-owned banks can issue the credit of the state on behalf of the state, leveraging public funds for public use without paying a massive tribute to private middlemen. Generous state funding allows them to provide generously for their people.

Like Libya and Iraq before they were embroiled in war, Syria provides free education at all levels and free medical care. It also provides subsidized housing for everyone (although some of this has been compromised by adoption of an IMF structural adjustment program in 2006 and the presence of about 2 million Iraqi and Palestinian refugees). Iran too provides nearly free higher education and primary health care.

Like Libya and Iraq before takedown, Syria and Iran have state-owned central banks that issue the national currency and are under government control. Whether these countries will succeed in maintaining their financial sovereignty in the face of enormous economic, political and military pressure remains to be seen.

As for Larry Summers, after proceeding through the revolving door to head Citigroup, he became State Senator Barack Obama’s key campaign benefactor. He played a key role in the banking deregulation that brought on the current crisis, causing millions of US citizens to lose their jobs and their homes. Yet Summers is President Obama’s first choice to replace Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve Chairman. Why? He has proven he can manipulate the system to make the world safe for Wall Street; and in an upside-down world in which bankers rule, that seems to be the name of the game.

Ellen Brown is an attorney in Los Angeles and the author of 11 books. In Web of Debt: The Shocking Truth about Our Money System and How We Can Break Free, she shows how a private banking cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it back. Read other articles by Ellen, or visit Ellen’s website.

 

 

 

Obama’s Secret Wars: How Shady U.S. ‘Counter-Terrorism’ Policies Are More Dangerous Than Actual Terrorism

In Uncategorized on July 13, 2011 at 5:56 pm

Oldspeak: “Ask yourself how you’d feel if you were just walking along minding your own business, and without warning, a Hellfire guided missile just dropped out of the sky and blew people up. I would venture to say you’d feel terrified and terrorized. That’s basically how innocents civilians in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq and Libya feel. Quasi-discriminately bombing the shit out of civilians isn’t ‘Counter-Terrorism’. It’s just terrorism. State-sanctioned, but yeah, terrorism. And contrary to the reassuring speeches from Obama and his military commanders quoting cooked statistics, this tactic is not making us safer. It is exposing us to exponentially greater danger. Neither is paying the natives to torture and indefinitely detain ‘suspected terrorists’. Neither are the U.S. Air Forces’ plans to QUADRUPLE it’s drone air force on some ol ‘Empire Strikes Back’ shit. But these tactics are being held up as “”more efficient counterterrorism.”  Efficient for whom? Defense contractors? Bankers? War Profiteers? Definitely not for the countless dead and maimed. The reality is these policies have been losing the hearts and minds, turned whole populations against the U.S., while creating more and more extremists dedicated to killing U.S. citizens. ‘At present, however, U.S. “counterterror policy” is clearly on a collision course with reality. It can only be hoped that when U.S. leaders are finally forced to acknowledge the moral and strategic bankruptcy of their counterterrorism policy that the damage they have done will not be irreversible’. –Fred Branfman

By Fred Branfman @ Alter Net:

Obama should be held accountable for vastly expanding the military establishment’s worldwide license to kill.

Although President’s Obama’s partial Afghan troop withdrawal announcement has received more attention, his June 29 “National Strategy for Counterterrorism” is of far greater long-term significance. This remarkable document states that the U.S. government intends to “disrupt, dismantle, and eventually defeat al-Qa’ida and its affiliates and adherents,” in the following “areas of focus”: “The Homeland, South Asia, Arabian Peninsula, East Africa,Europe, Iraq, Maghreb and Sahel, Southeast Asia (and) Central Asia.”

This assassination strategy is already operational in six Muslim countries with a combined population of 280 million: Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Libya, which has become a laboratory experiment for urban drone assassinations. The London Sunday Times reported a year ago that “President Obama has secretly sanctioned a huge increase in the number of US special forces … with American troops now operating in 75 countries.” There are presently 60,000 Special Operations forces worldwide, with 7,000 U.S. assassins unleashed upon Afghanistan and 3,000 in Iraq. Lt.-Col. John Nagle (ret.), an enthusiastic assassination supporter, has correctly called these operations “an almost industrial-scale counterterrorism killing machine.”

Obama vs. Petraeus in 2012

President Obama, a former constitutional law lecturer, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and rhetorical advocate of the Rule of Law cannot possibly reconcile his previously stated beliefs with his presently creation of an “industrial-size killing machine” that sees U.S. leaders unilaterally hunt, kidnap and murder any person anywhere on earth — including “the Homeland” — whenever they feel like it, without outside oversight or their victims enjoying any legal or human rights whatsoever. Whatever his personal beliefs at this point, the president likely hopes that this “counterrorism strategy” will help protect him from inevitable Republican attempts to blame him during the 2012 presidential campaign for the likely losses the U.S. will sustain in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and elsewhere in the next 16 months. And normally principled liberal supporters like the Center for American Progress, which called the strategy “more efficent counterterrorism,” may well have made the same calculation.

But this “counterterrorism” program not only formalizes extrajudicial state killing formerly associated in the public mind only with the Gestapo and KGB. It also drastically weakens, not strengthens, U.S. national security. The U.S. is bedeviled today precisely because previous presidents created long-term disasters by making disastrous short-term political decisions — steadily escalating in Indochina to avoid defeat before the next election, creating al-Qaeda and allowing Pakistani dictator Zia ul-Haq to acquire nuclear weapons in the name of fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan, arming the Shah of Iran and then arming Saddam Hussein against Iran after the Shah fell.

It is true that America badly needs an alternative to occupying foreign lands. But a worldwide assassination program that motivates countless potential suicide bombers, weakens friendly governments, strengthens U.S. foes and increases the danger of nuclear materials falling into the hands of anti-Americanterrorists, is hardly more “cost-effective counterterrorism.” On the contrary. It exponentially increases America’s enemies while doing them comparatively little damage.

David Petraeus claimed success for his “counterinsurgency surge” in Iraq on the grounds that it reduced violence there. He has thus failed in Afghanistan by his own criteria, since his “counterterror surge” has seen violence increase by 51 percent over a year ago according to the U.N., and in Pakistan where militant activity has increased by more than 400 percent since he expanded U.S. war-making there after becoming Centcom commander.

Despite this, newly appointed CIA Chief Petraeus has now been tasked with expanding his failed counterterror policies worldwide. He will seek to integrate military and CIA assassination capabilities; vastly increase and make more deadly a drone airforce, both that of the CIA and a U.S. Airforce which alone plans to quadruple its drone force and now “trains more pilots to operate drones than to fly bombers or fighter jets”; and he will increase the numbers and geographic scope of 60,000 Special Operations assassins and their backup support.

Besides the state of the economy, the 2012 presidential election may well hinge on whom the public blames more for the losses likely to occur in the next 18 months in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Republicans are already blaming Obama, using Petraeus’s manifest disloyalty to his Commander-in-Chief when he criticized Obama’s partial Afghan troop withdrawal. It may well be that Obama’s reelection will depend on the public learning the truth: that U.S. losses in the “AfPak theater” are due to Petraeus’ reckless and irresponsible expansion of U.S. war-making into Pakistan after becoming Centcom Commander in the fall of 2009, and his failed shift from “counterinsurgency” to “counterterrorism” after taking over in Afghanistan in September 2010.

The truth is that Obama has been listening to his “Commanders in the field” for 30 months now, as the Republicans have demanded, and they have failed him. If Obama does lose the 2012 election because of the military’s failures, he will have only himself to blame. Previous U.S. presidents, from Abraham Lincoln to Harry Truman, gained political strength by risking cashiering incompetent military officers. By promoting Petraeus, Obama has placed himself in a no-win situation, inextricably binding himself — and his nation — to the general’s countless reckless misjudgements, strategic failures and such manipulations of the media as his recent false claim to have reduced violence 5 percent in Afghanistan.

Two months after David Petraeus’ fateful decision to unleash “counter-terror” in southern Afghanistan, the international press (it was ignored in the U.S.) reported that the floor of Kandahar’s only hospital was “on some days, filled with blood”, and civilian casualties so exceeded its capacity that sick patients had to be transported to Pakistan for medical help. Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, close ally Britain’s Special Representative to Afghanistan, stated that David Petraeus should be “ashamed of himself,” explaining that “he has increased the violence (and) trebled the number of special forces raids.”

“For Every Dead Pashtun Warrior, There Will Be 10 Pledged to Revenge.”

Obama counterterrorism advisor John Brennan sought to package Obama’s strategy as consisting of only surgical strikes on known al-Qaeda leaders, making the delusional and fanatic claim that in the last year “there hasn’t been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities that we’ve been able to develop.” In fact, Reuters reported 13 months ago that “the CIA received approval to target … a wider range of targets in Pakistan’s tribal areas … in many, if not most cases, the CIA had little information about the foot soldiers killed in the strikes.” The evidence clearly indicates that the U.S. has since conducted hundreds of strikes in Pakistan without knowing how many civilians were among the 1900 people it has murdered — only 56 of whom were named as “al Qaeda and Taliban Leaders” by the strongly pro-drone Long War Journal.

If manned helicopter strikes in the middle of Baghdad, with pilots hovering over and discussing their targets, can murder a Reuters journalist for carrying a camera and a doctor trying to rescue him — as revealed in the Wikileaks “Collateral Murder” video — one can only imagine the drone-caused civilian carnage in remote areas of both Pakistan and Afghanistan that are inaccessible to the outside world.

The mentality behind counterrorism has been described by former head of the CIA Counterterrorism Center in 2005-6, Robert Grenier as “kill them before they kill you” — a primitive law of the jungle mentality more appropriate to organized crime than a superpower which confronts a 1.8 billion strong Muslim world in which, for each of “them” the U.S. kills it creates exponentially more of “them” committed to killing “us.”

This strategy is thus not only immoral and illegal, but poses a clear and present danger to U.S. national security. In return for killing a handful of “al-Qaeda leaders” it dramatically increases the ranks of potential anti-U.S. suicide bombers, weakens friendly governments, strengthens U.S. foes, and increases the risk of nuclear materials falling into unfriendly hands. Its basic premise — that there is a fixed quantity of “al-Qaeda leaders, adherents and affiliates” whose death reduces the threat to the U.S. — is simply wrong. As Cowper-Coles has explained, “for every dead Pashtun warrior, there will be 10 pledged to revenge.” Former CIA counterrorism operative Michael Scheuer has stated that “Petraeus’s ‘decapitation’ approach was also unlikely to work. ‘The Red Army tried that for 10 years, and they were far more ruthless and cruel about it than us, and it didn’t work so well for them.'”

Does it really make sense to kill a handful of top leaders, who can be easily replaced by often more competent deputies, at the cost of motivating entire populations to support killing Americans?

The latest example is Yemen where, the Washington Post has reported,”attacks on electricity plants and oil pipelines have left Yemen’s economy on the edge of collapse, with the most damaging strike carried out in retaliation for a U.S. counterterrorism raid.” After the U.S. assassinated a tribal chief’s innocent son, he retaliated by cutting Yemen’s main oil pipeline. By aiding Yemen’s economic collapse, U.S. counterterrorism is increasing support for terrorism.

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Pakistani militants focused almost entirely on their immediate surroundings. But now, as a result of U.S. war-making in Pakistan, former CIA counterterrorism chief Grenier has explained that “it’s not just a matter of numbers of militants who are operating in that area, it also effects the motivations of those militants … They now see themselves as part of a global Jihad. They are not just focused on helping oppressed Muslims in Kashmir or trying to fight the NATO and the Americans in Afghanistan, they see themselves as part of a global struggle, and therefore are a much broader threat than they were previously. So in a sense, yes, we have helped to bring about the situation that we most fear.”

It was one thing for U.S. leaders in years past to murder and enslave defenseless Native Americans and Africans, impose vicious dictatorships throughout poverty-stricken Latin America, and kill 3 million Indochinese who posed no threat whatsoever to Americans. But it is quite another for the U.S. today to slowly and inexorably turn vast portions of the 1.8 billion strong and oil-rich Muslim world against it – especially nuclear-armed Pakistan which has already conclusively demonstrated how “counter-terrorism” harms U.S. interests far more than helps it.

U.S. Policy Increasing The Nuclear Danger in Pakistan
In the wake of Osama Bin-Laden’s murder, Congress, the media and pundits have finally begun to awaken to the fact that, as John Kerry recently stated, “in many ways, the Afghanistan war is a sideshow to the main event, if you will, that is next door.” But officials and pundits blame the problems in Pakistan entirely on a “Pakistani military (which views) the United States as a hostile force trying to perpetuate a state of `controlled chaos’ in Pakistan and determined to `denuclearize’ the regime,” as Fareed Zakaria recently wrote. None have had the intellectual courage to admit that, given the paranoia and incompetence of Pakistan’s leaders, U.S. “counterterrorism” policy has made the situation infinitely worse.

The current attempt to blackmail “main event” Pakistan into supporting U.S. military efforts in “sideshow” Afghanistan by withholding $800 million in military aid is only the latest example of the incoherence of present U.S. policy, and strengthens the case – as discussed below – for shifting to a focus on economic and social aid.

Pakistan has in many ways been a laboratory for counterterrorism, and U.S. experience there proves conclusively that any successes it has enjoyed are far outweighed by its failures. President Obama stated in his Afghan withdrawal speech that “together with the Pakistanis, we have taken out more than half of al-Qaida’s leadership.”

But, as I have been warning for two years now, the failures of U.S. counterterrorism strategy in Pakistan are so great that it is madness to extend this failed policy to the entire Muslim world. U.S. counter-terror policy in Pakistan has contributed to:

— A vast increase in overall militant strength: While U.S. officials claim drone strikes are hurting Pakistani militants in tribal areas, in fact the Federation of American Scientists reports that “in less than a decade Pakistan has witnessed terror incidents increase almost fifty-fold.” Though the CIA quintupled drone strikes in Pakistan to an annual average of 79 in 2009-10 from16 in 2004-8, it has not reduced violence. On the contrary, incidents of reported terrorism in Pakistan havequadrupled from an annual 2004-8 average of 470 to a 2009-10 annual average of 1723, with the number and seriousness of attacks skyrocketing even higher in 2011. Numerous reports indicate that drone strikes have driven jihadi forces further east into Karachi and then the Punjabi heartland where they are increasingly cooperating together and pose a growing danger to the Pakistani state. It has also increased the risk of suicide-bombers among the more than one million Pakistanis in the U.K., many with British passports able to travel freely to the U.S., whom David Cameron reported in Wikileaks cables were “radicalized” by the U.S. invasion of Iraq and have been presumably even more upset by growing U.S. murder of Pakistanis since.

— A growing nuclear threat: U.S. counterterror drone strikes have contributed to 59 percent of the Pakistani people — over 110 million people — regarding the U.S. as their “enemy.” While U.S. leaders continue to cavalierly disregard Pakistani public opinion, former U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson reported in the Wikileaks cables that because of the public’s hatred of the U.S., the Pakistani government has refused to cooperate with the U.S. on safeguarding its nuclear materials. U.S. ignoring Pakistani public opinion has thus helped create the single greatest threat to U.S. national security today. “Despite its political instability, Pakistan … has the world’s fastest-growing nuclear stockpile,” the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists recently reported. And it is considered one of the most insecure by nuclear experts. Former Senator Sam Nunn, who heads the Nuclear Threat Initiative, has said that “we are in a race between cooperation and catastrophe” in Pakistan.

U.S. policy has so angered the Pakistani military that the possibility of a pro-jihadi military coup is openly discussed in the N.Y. Times and in a new book by Bruce Riedel, who coordinated Obama’s fall 2009 Afghan policy review and worked at the CIA when the Ronald Reagan armed Osama Bin Laden and supported Muslim extremist General Zia ul-Haq during the 1980s, the key U.S. foreign policy mistake leading to 9/11. Riedel’s book describes in chilling detail precisely the “all-too-inevitable”disaster that current U.S. counterterrorism strategy could lead to. He writes that the “simplest way a jihadist Pakistan would emerge would be another military coup led by a general who shares the the worldview of Zia ul-Haq. A new Islamic Emirate of Pakistan … would take control of the nuclear arsenal.” Aligned with al Qaeda and armed with nuclear weapons, such a state would be a nightmare.

And, as he notes, there is precious little the U.S. could do in the event of such a coup: “U.S options to change the regime by means of a coup or assisting dissidents … would be limited. The United States is so unpopular in Pakistan today that its endorsement of a politician is a kiss of death.” And if the U.S. tried to invade,he writes, “the Pakistanis would of course use their nuclear weapons to defend themselves … an invasion would be a mission from hell. There are no good choices.” He also explores the possibility of another Mumbai-like attack on India from Pakistan, concluding that “sooner or later a Pakistan-based terror attack on India is going to lead to Armageddon.”

Nothing illustrates the incoherence of U.S.-Pakistan policy more, however, than Riedel’s next chapter. America’s most oft-quoted expert on Pakistan and participant in U.S. policy-making actually proposes expanding the very policies — drone strikes, pressure on border areas and attacks within Pakistan that have made a military coup an “all-too-possible nightmare scenario.” His most striking proposal is that “Washington could specifically target ISI officers (by) taking action against their individual and corporate financial holdings.” It is difficult to imagine any single action more likely to provoke the very coup that Riedel properly warns against. King’s College professor Anatol Lieven has correctly written that “any US action that endangered the stability of the Pakistani government would be insane. Nukes could fall into the hands of terrorists, along with huge quantities of conventional arms.” Yet Riedel proposes, and the U.S. government is today conducting, precisely such “insane” policies, making the prospect of an anti-U.S. military coup ever more likely!

“Counterterrorism” Harms U.S. National Security More Than “Terrorism

Although most Americans opposed postwar “communism,” by the late 1950s they had concluded that the “anti-communist” overreaction — including Joe McCarthy, loyalty oaths, blacklists, the House Unamerican Activities Committee and FBI spying on Americans — posed a far more immediate threat to American democracy. Similarly today, while no one can doubt that “terrorism” poses a threat, it is already clear that today’s U.S. “counterterrorism” crusade poses a far greater danger both to U.S. national security and American values by exponentially increasing those committed to murdering Americans.

The best way for the U.S. to fight terror in Pakistan is to end its drone strikes and violations of Pakistani sovereignty, and focus on effective economic and humanitarian aid. Perhaps then public hatred of the U.S. will be sufficiently reduced so as to allow for collaborative police work that targets terrorists effectively, and safeguards nuclear weapons.

A second priority for U.S. policy is to promote the Pakistani military’s stated desire,according to former U.S. Ambassador Patterson, for “deterrence, dialogue and development” toward its enemies. The Pakistanis, unlike the U.S., will have to live with their adversaries for the rest of time. They should be supported in their efforts to reach accommodations with them.

A third priority would be to realize that effective economic aid, e.g. bringing a reliable supply of electricity to the tens of millions of Pakistanis who lack it, will advance U.S. interests — including cooperation on nuclear materials — far more than drone strikes. The Pakistan Tribune has reported that Pakistan Prime Minister Gilani believes that “America should also help Pakistan in addressing its problems, particularly the prevailing issue of loadshedding. He said the government was working on a war footing to resolve the issue of loadshedding … The prime minister also said he had discussed with the US leadership the growing resentment against the local people due to rapid drone attacks on Pakistani territory.”

And a fourth priority, of course, would be to accelerate the U.S. withdrawal from “sideshow” Afghanistan.

At present, however, U.S. “counterterror policy” is clearly on a collision course with reality. It can only be hoped that when U.S. leaders are finally forced to acknowledge the moral and strategic bankruptcy of their counterterrorism policy that the damage they have done will not be irreversible.

Fred Branfman exposed the U.S. Secret Air War against Laos, wrote Jobs From the Sun, California’s SolarCal strategy, and developed high-tech and “investment economics” as a Cabinet-level official for Gov. Jerry Brown, head of Sen. Gary Hart’s think tank, and directing Rebuild America whose advisors included Larry Summers, Paul Krugman and Robert Noyce.

 

As Debt Talks Threaten Medicare, Social Security, Study Finds U.S. Spending $4 Trillion On Wars

In Uncategorized on July 8, 2011 at 7:51 pm

Oldspeak:“Why is it that state and local governments are going broke and selling everything not nailed down to stay afloat, public and government workers are being discarded in droves, infrastructure is crumbling, millionaire politricians from “both” parties want to cut social safety nets and entitlement programs for poor, elderly, sick and disenfranchised people, but the U.S. government magically can find 4 TRILLION DOLLARS to kill more innocents than bad guys in illegitimate & illegal wars using borrowed money to pay for? Why is corporate media leading us to believe that “entitlement programs” and unions, and teachers and public workers and their fat pensions are to blame for the monumental U.S. debt crisis? Why is so little attention being paid to the TRILLIONS that have been printed by the U.S. Treasury and given away to Military-Fianacial Industrial Complex to keep it running, to the detriment of many other sectors of the U.S. Economy? Why is war more vital an interest that medical care, care for the elderly, and maintenance of a robust public sector? War is big business. War expands empire. War aquires other nations oil. War promotes scarcity. War is a drug. A drug the U.S. desperately needs to kick.

RELATED LINKS

By Amy Goodman @ Democracy Now:

As part of ongoing debt negotiations, the White House has proposed slashing more than $4 trillion from annual budget deficits over the next decade — twice what Obama had proposed earlier. While much of the talk in Washington centers on taxes, Social Security and Medicare, far less attention is being paid to the growing cost of the U.S. wars overseas. A new report from Brown University has estimated the true cost of the U.S. wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan will end up costing approximately $4 trillion — far more than the Bush or Obama administrations have acknowledged. The authors of the study reveal that because the war has been financed almost entirely by borrowing, $185 billion in interest has already been paid on war spending, and another $1 trillion could accrue in interest alone through 2020. We speak with Neta Crawford, co-director of the Costs of War Project, and a Professor of Political Science at Boston University.

JUAN GONZALEZ: President Obama met with congressional leaders at the White House Thursday and vowed not to sign a short-term extension of U.S. $14.3 trillion debt ceiling beyond the approaching August 2nd deadline. As part of the debt negotiations, the White House has proposed slashing more than $4 trillion from annual deficits over the next decade – twice what Obama had promised earlier.

While much of the talk in Washington centers on taxes, Social Security and Medicare, far less attention is being paid to the growing cost of U.S. wars overseas. The U.S. military and the C.I.A. are currently carrying out operations in at least six countries – Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.

AMY GOODMAN: A new report released by Brown University has estimated the true cost of the U.S. wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan will end up costing approximately $4 trillion – far more than the Bush or Obama administrations have acknowledged. The authors of the study reveal because the war is being financed almost entirely by borrowing, $185 billion in interest has already been paid on war spending, and another $1 trillion could accrue in interest alone through 2020. It could cost nearly another $1 trillion to pay for the medical care and disability for current and future war veterans.

To discuss the cost of war, we’re going up to Boston University to speak with Professor Neta Crawford. She’s the co-director of the Cost of War Project and a professor of political science at Boston University. The significance of this report, even as they’re debating the deficit in Washington, and talking about agreeing on deep cuts to Social Security and Medicare – Neta Crawford, the cost that the United States is spending right now in the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and what you’re pointing out in this report – equally in Pakistan – right now?

NETA CRAWFORD: Yes, the United States has already spent about $3 trillion and it will spend much more than that over the next several decades, including that maybe $1 trillion that was mentioned by your reporter, on veterans and medical.

AMY GOODMAN: Lay out for us what you have found, these massive costs that we, in this country I think, have very little awareness of the media covering actual war less and less.

NETA CRAWFORD: Well, there are two aspects of that. First, the president and many people focus on just the Pentagon’s appropriation for the wars in the last 10 years, and that’s $1.3 trillion in constant dollars. But the costs are deeper than that. They go to veterans medical and disability costs, foreign assistance, homeland security, and then, as you mentioned, interest on the debt. When you add all that up, it is about twice what we tend to talk about if we just focus on Pentagon appropriations.

The other element of the costs is that future cost, which we must pay – the interest on the debt and veterans’ medical and disability. Then there’s another layer of costs which we were not able to fully calculate, which are the social costs to families and also the cost to state and local governments for veterans’ care. Then there are many other pockets of cost if you look all over the U.S. government.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Yesterday on the show we talked about the problems of post-traumatic stress with many veterans and the suicide rates. What portion of this cost that is never factored in did you conclude was a result of both the need for current medical treatment for returning veterans as well as future treatment?

NETA CRAWFORD: Well, the U.S. has already spent already about $32 billion in medical and disability for veterans, but that doesn’t include what families are spending privately nor what state and local governments are spending. Of course, all of this is an under-estimate of the toll because as you know, until recently, the U.S. was not including many people who do have traumatic brain injuries or post-traumatic stress because those were under-diagnosed.

AMY GOODMAN: Why aren’t we seeing this reflected in the conversations on the networks, as this whole discussion about deficits takes place? The massive cost that is going into the state of war rather than back into the states of this country, that are in such dire need, Professor Crawford?

NETA CRAWFORD: I think it’s partly that after 9/11, we are in such shock and fear that this lingered, and the tendency not to question what seemed to be defense expenditures, were actually – they could have been questioned. That’s a long-term sort of hangover of the 9/11 attacks, our sort of inability to be questioning these budgets. I think another element here is that, again, the cost is sort of hidden from view and put in these different budgets so it’s hard, unless you take a more comprehensive view, to get a handle on the scale of the cost.

A third factor is perhaps that these wars have been funded mostly through special appropriations or emergency appropriations until recently. Those costs are not scrutinized as much by Congress as they out to be.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Of course, one part of that that has been now structurally put into our budget is Homeland Security. Your assessment of the enormous expenditure? Because it seems that no matter what the budget deficit is, there’s always money available for more efforts at Homeland Security. Can you talk about this impact of actually militarizing the domestic budget of the United States?

NETA CRAWFORD: That is about an additional $400 billion over the last 10 years for Homeland Security. Of course, it is in a way ironic because at the same time U.S. has spent this money to increase preparedness, it took away National Guard troops and equipment and moved them abroad. In a sense, robbing Peter to pay Paul.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Crawford, included in the cost of war – you’ve got the financial costs, far more than has been estimated before here in this country. I mean, Professors Stiglitz and Bilmes at Harvard, the Nobel Prize winning economists, say we’re talking about actually estimates over years of something like $5 trillion, but also the human casualties cost of war.

NETA CRAWFORD: We calculated, estimated about 225,000-250,000 people have died – that’s including soldiers, civilians, contractors. But more than that, we know this is a conservative estimate because in Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan, there has been a tendency to under count and not report the direct war dead. In addition, we tend to focus on those were killed by bombs and bullets, but pay less attention to those who died because of lack of safe drinking water or disease or displacement and inability to eat, so that rates of malnourishment are still high in Iraq. Malnutrition is very high in Afghanistan. Millions of people in Pakistan are displaced and don’t have regular access to food and safe drinking water.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Crawford, we’ll leave it there but we’ll link to your report at democracynow.org, called Cost of War. Professor Crawford is professor of political science at Boston University.

Defiant Gadhafi Threatens Retaliatory Attacks In Europe

In Uncategorized on July 2, 2011 at 4:21 pm

Oldspeak: Corporate Newspeak at it’s finest. Play up the threat from Gadhafi to “carry out attacks in Europe against “homes, offices, families,” unless NATO halts its campaign of airstrikes against his regime in Libya” while making no mention of the fact that U.S./NATO forces are right now carrying out attacks in Libya dropping radioactive uranium bombs on civilian structures, homes, hotels and hospitals, and not “his regime”. No mention of the killing of Gadhafi’s son and 2 grandchildren, in violation of the U.N. mandate on the “intervention”. The author points out  his Gadhafi’s ties to terrorist acts  in the past then later in the article the author notes “Gadhafi was believed to have severed his ties with extremist groups when he moved to reconcile with Europe and the United States” effectively equating his threatened response to an unprovoked attack on his country with his wanting to commit terrorism in Europe. Why is it the U.S./NATO attackers that have repeatedly killed innocents they were mandated to protect not characterized as terrorist or extremist intervention Libya? There was no effort on the part of western powers to intervene diplomatically, their first and only option was invasion and military intervention, with the now obvious objective of regime change and targeted assassination of Gadhafi. Seems to me an extreme response to an alleged civil war in a country that has not attacked the U.S. or NATO. So what we’re to understand ultimately is that the U.S./NATO can attack any nation they choose, using any flimsy pretext they decide to come up with for justifying it, (note all allegations of wrongdoing Gadhafi’s accused of in the article are basically unsubstantiated) and that nation will be labeled “Terrorist” if they decide to respond to the U.S./NATO attack.  The author maybe inadvertently provides the reader with a glimmer of the true objective of  U.S./NATO bombing campaign toward the end of the article – “Seif al-Islam accused Western nations of intervening in Libya because they are after the country’s oil and other resources. He said the goal is “to control Libya,” and he vowed to fight on.”
The ‘Politics of Naming‘ is whimsical today….

Related Story: African Union Members Agree To Disregard ICC Gadhafi Arrest Warrant

By Adam Schreck @ The Associated Press:

A defiant Moammar Gadhafi has threatened to carry out attacks in Europe against “homes, offices, families,” unless NATO halts its campaign of airstrikes against his regime in Libya.

The Libyan leader, sought by the International Criminal Court for a brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters, delivered the warning in a telephone message played Friday to thousands of supporters gathered in the main square of the capital Tripoli.

It was one of the largest pro-government rallies in recent months, signaling that Gadhafi can still muster significant support. A green cloth, several hundred meters long and held aloft by supporters, snaked above the crowd filling Tripoli’s Green Square. Green is Libya’s national color.

A series of powerful explosions later rattled the heart of the capital, apparently new NATO airstrikes, as Gadhafi supporters cheered, honked horns and fired into the air in the street. Black smoke could be seen rising from the area near Gadhafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound.

Gadhafi spoke from an unknown location in a likely sign of concern over his safety. Addressing the West, he warned that Libyans might take revenge for NATO bombings.

“These people (the Libyans) are able to one day take this battle … to Europe, to target your homes, offices, families, which would become legitimate military targets, like you have targeted our homes,” he said.

“We can decide to treat you in a similar way,” he said of the Europeans. “If we decide to, we are able to move to Europe like locusts, like bees. We advise you to retreat before you are dealt a disaster.”

It was not immediately clear whether Gadhafi could make good on such threats.

In the past, Gadhafi supported various militant groups, including the IRA and several Palestinian factions, while Libyan agents were blamed for attacks in Europe, including a Berlin disco bombing in 1986 and the downing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people, mostly Americans. Libya later acknowledged responsibility for Lockerbie.

In recent years, however, Gadhafi was believed to have severed his ties with extremist groups when he moved to reconcile with Europe and the United States.

Al-Qaida and other jihadi groups have opposed Gadhafi since he cracked down in the late 1990s on the Islamist Libyan Islamic Fighting Group which sought to replace his regime with an Islamic state.

A U.S. State Department spokesman, Mark Toner, said the U.S. would take Gadhafi’s threat of attacks seriously, as his regime carried out such actions in the past. Toner said he did not know if there was intelligence to indicate Gadhafi’s regime would be able to carry out such attacks.

“This is an individual who’s obviously capable of carrying these kinds of threats, that’s what makes him so dangerous, but he’s also someone who’s given to overblown rhetoric,” Toner told a news conference in Washington.

Friday’s rally came just four days after the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Gadhafi, his son Seif al-Islam and Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanoussi for crimes against humanity. International prosecutors allege government troops fired on civilian protesters during anti-Gadhafi street demonstrations earlier this year.

The popular uprising has since turned into a protracted civil war, with anti-government rebels controlling much of eastern Libya and parts of Libya’s western mountains. NATO has been bombing government-linked targets since March.

In his speech Friday, Gadhafi denounced the rebels as traitors and blamed them for Libya’s troubles.

He said Libyans who fled to neighboring Tunisia are now “working as maids for the Tunisians.”

“Tunisians used to work for Libyans. What brought you to this stage? The traitors,” he added.

He called on his supporters to march on rebel strongholds, including the western mountain area and the port city of Misrata, both in the otherwise Gadhafi-controlled western Libya. “We must end this battle fast,” he said of the attempts to oust him from power, which began with an uprising in mid-February.

Gadhafi’s speech signaled that mounting international pressure, including the arrest warrants against him, have made him only more defiant.

His son, Seif al-Islam, who like his father is a wanted man, denied in a TV interview that either of them ordered the killing of civilian protesters in Libya, as prosecutors charge.

The younger Gadhafi told Russian news channel RT in an interview posted online Friday that “most of the people” died when they tried to storm military sites, and that guards fired on them under standing orders to protect the bases and themselves.

However, documents from the International Criminal Court outline multiple instances in which the tribunal prosecutors allege government troops fired on civilian protesters during anti-Gadhafi street demonstrations earlier this year.

The younger Gadhafi had once been viewed as a reformer by the West and was being groomed as a possible successor to his father.

Seif al-Islam wore a thick beard and traditional clothes in the interview. He denounced the international court seeking his arrest as controlled by the NATO countries now bombing Libya.

“This court is a Mickey Mouse court … For me to be responsible for killing people, it was a big joke,” he told the Russian state-funded network.

The Netherlands-based tribunal on Monday issued arrest warrants against the Libyan leader, his son Seif al-Islam and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanoussi.

The three are accused of orchestrating the killing, injuring, arrest and imprisonment of hundreds of civilians during the first 12 days of an uprising to topple Moammar Gadhafi from power, and for trying to cover up their alleged crimes.

Presiding Judge Sanji Monageng of Botswana has said that hundreds of civilians were killed, injured or arrested in the crackdown, and there were “reasonable grounds to believe” that Gadhafi and his son were both responsible for their murder and persecution.

But Seif al-Islam denied that he and his father specifically ordered protesters to be killed.

“Of course not,” he said, arguing that government troops fired on protesters out of self-defense.

“Nobody ordered. Nobody. The guards fired. That’s it. … The guards were surprised by the attacking people and they (started) … firing. They don’t need an order to defend themselves,” he said.

Seif al-Islam accused Western nations of intervening in Libya because they are after the country’s oil and other resources. He said the goal is “to control Libya,” and he vowed to fight on.

“Nobody will give up. Nobody will raise the white flag,” he said. “We want peace, but if you want to fight, we are not cowards. … We are going to fight.”

Don’t Believe Everything You See And Read: The Demonization Of Gaddafi

In Uncategorized on June 30, 2011 at 2:07 pm

US President Barack Obama, right,and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi pictured during the G8/G5 summit in L'Aquila, Italy Thursday July 9, 2009. (AP Photo/ Michael Gottschalk/Pool)

Oldspeak:“Don’t get me wrong, Gaddafi is kind of a dick. He’s a very bad man. He needs to step down and work toward real democracy in Libya. But why is the U.S. trying to kill him? Last I checked he hasn’t launched/ been behind any terrorist strikes against the U.S. or NATO. (Unless you consider planning to introduce an African gold backed Dinar that would challenge the U.S. Dollar terrorism.)  He’s doing basically the same shit that Dictators in U.S. client states Syria, Bahrain and Egypt have done for decades but that qualifies as pretext for invading his country, dropping radioactive uranium bombs on civilian structures, homes, hotels and hospitals, and repeatedly killing the innocents the U.N. mandate declares the U.S. and NATO are allegedly there to protect? Add to that a recent report by Amnesty International that questions the veracity of claims levied against Gaddafi that constituted U.S./NATO pretext for invasion and what is now obviously a regime change and assassination campaign? These vital details are given little to no coverage in Corporate Media. It seems as though Corporate Media is entirely to eager to parrot the sound bites of the official story.  Bottom line, there are waaay to many holes and shady unreported dealings going on for me to believe this “Revolution” is organic and indigenous. “Ignorance Is Strength”.

By Patrick Cockburn @ Counterpunch:

In the first months of the Arab Spring, foreign journalists got well-merited credit for helping to foment and publicize popular uprisings against the region’s despots. Satellite TV stations such as Al Jazeera Arabic, in particular, struck at the roots of power in Arab police states, by making official censorship irrelevant and by competing successfully against government propaganda.

Regimes threatened by change have, since those early days, paid backhanded compliments to the foreign media by throwing correspondents out of countries where they would like to report and by denying them visas to come back in. Trying to visit Yemen earlier this year, I was told that not only was there no chance of my being granted a journalist’s visa, but that real tourists – amazingly there is a trickle of such people wanting to see the wonders of Yemen – were being turned back at Sanaa airport on the grounds that they must secretly be journalists. The Bahrain government has an even meaner trick: give a visa to a journalist at a Bahraini embassy abroad and deny him entry when his plane lands.

It has taken time for this policy of near total exclusion to take hold, but it means that, today, foreign journalistic coverage of Syria, Yemen and, to a lesser extent, Bahrain is usually long-distance, reliant on cellphone film of demonstrations and riots which cannot be verified.

I was in Tehran earlier this year and failed to see any demonstrations in the centre of the city, though there were plenty of riot police standing about. I was therefore amazed to find a dramatic video on YouTube dated, so far as I recall, February 27, showing a violent demonstration. Then I noticed the protesters in the video were wearing only shirts though it was wet and freezing in Tehran and the men I could see in the streets were in jackets.

Presumably somebody had redated a video shot in the summer of 2009 when there were prolonged riots.

With so many countries out of bounds, journalists have flocked to Benghazi, in Libya, which can be reached from Egypt without a visa. Alternatively they go to Tripoli, where the government allows a carefully monitored press corps to operate under strict supervision. Having arrived in these two cities, the ways in which the journalists report diverge sharply. Everybody reporting out of Tripoli expresses understandable scepticism about what government minders seek to show them as regards civilian casualties caused by Nato air strikes or demonstrations of support for Gaddafi. By way of contrast, the foreign press corps in Benghazi, capital of the rebel-held territory, shows surprising credulity towards more subtle but equally self-serving stories from the rebel government or its sympathizers.

Ever since the Libyan uprising started on February 15, the foreign media have regurgitated stories of atrocities carried out by Gaddafi’s forces. It is now becoming clear that reputable human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have been unable to find evidence for the worst of these. For instance, they could find no credible witnesses to the mass rapes said to have been ordered by Gaddafi. Foreign mercenaries supposedly recruited by Gaddafi and shown off to the press were later quietly released when they turned out to be undocumented laborers from central and west Africa.

The crimes for which there is proof against Gaddafi are more prosaic, such as the bombardment of civilians in Misrata who have no way to escape. There is also proof of the shooting of unarmed protesters and people at funerals early on in the uprising. Amnesty estimates that some 100-110 people were killed in Benghazi and 59-64 in Baida, though it warns that some of the dead may have been government supporters.

The Libyan insurgents were adept at dealing with the press from an early stage and this included skilful propaganda to put the blame for unexplained killings on the other side. One story, to which credence was given by the foreign media early on in Benghazi, was that eight to 10 government troops who refused to shoot protesters were executed by their own side. Their bodies were shown on TV. But Donatella Rovera, senior crisis response adviser for Amnesty International, says there is strong evidence for a different explanation. She says amateur video shows them alive after they had been captured, suggesting it was the rebels who killed them.

It is a weakness of journalists that they give wide publicity to atrocities, evidence for which may be shaky when first revealed. But when the stories turn out to be untrue or exaggerated, they rate scarcely a mention.

But atrocity stories develop a life of their own and have real, and sometimes fatal, consequences long after the basis for them is deflated. Earlier in the year in Benghazi I spoke to refugees, mostly oil workers from Brega, an oil port in the Gulf of Sirte which had been captured by Gaddafi forces. One of the reasons they had fled was that they believed their wives and daughters were in danger of being raped by foreign mercenaries. They knew about this threat from watching satellite TV.

It is all credit to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that they have taken a sceptical attitude to atrocities until proven. Contrast this responsible attitude with that of Hillary Clinton or the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, who blithely suggested that Gaddafi was using rape as a weapon of war to punish the rebels. Equally irresponsible would be a decision by the ICC to prosecute Gaddafi and his lieutenants, thus making it far less likely that Gaddafi can be eased out of power without a fight to the finish. This systematic demonization of Gaddafi – a brutal despot he may be, but not a monster on the scale of Saddam Hussein – also makes it difficult to negotiate a ceasefire with him, though he is the only man who can deliver one.

There is nothing particularly surprising about the rebels in Benghazi making things up or producing dubious witnesses to Gaddafi’s crimes. They are fighting a war against a despot whom they fear and hate and they will understandably use propaganda as a weapon of war. But it does show naivety on the part of the foreign media, who almost universally sympathize with the rebels, that they swallow whole so many atrocity stories fed to them by the rebel authorities and their sympathizers.
Patrick Cockburn is the author of “Muqtada: Muqtada Al-Sadr, the Shia Revival, and the Struggle for Iraq.

“A Violation of Norms”: U.S. & Allies Kill Gaddafi’s Son And Three Grandchildren In Bombing Of Compound In Tripoli

In Uncategorized on May 3, 2011 at 4:06 pm

NATO airstrikes killed Gaddafy's son and three grandchildren, Libya government told reporters in Tripoli, NATO said such report is unconfirmed

Oldspeak:” “How is hitting a residential compound and killing the children of the leader of Libya protecting civilians? It also undermines international norms. You don’t go after the children of leaders and the grandchildren of leaders, I think this is a violation of norms and counterproductive for the goal of protecting noncombatants.” –Alan Kuperman. “Mission Creep” continues in Libya with a supposed “no-fly zone” morphing into ‘Regime Change’ via an illegal assassination campaign not authorized by the U.N. resolution on intervention in Libya. Meanwhile, abuse and killing of innocents continue unabated in U.S. Client States Bahrain and Syria. Hypocricy, as American as apple pie….

By Amy Goodman @ Democracy Now:

Guest:

Alan Kuperman, professor of public affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of the book The Limits of Humanitarian Intervention and co-editor of Gambling on Humanitarian Intervention.

RELATED LINKS

AMY GOODMAN: We move on to Libya. The killing of Osama bin Laden overshadowed major developments in Libya over the weekend. On Saturday, a NATO bombing of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s Tripoli compound killed his 29-year-old son Saif al-Arab as well as three of his grandchildren, all under the age of 12. Gaddafi was reportedly inside the compound at the time of the attack.

Meanwhile, the Libyan city of Misurata remains under siege. Gaddafi’s forces have mined the harbor around Misurata to prevent delivery of aid and have reportedly threatened to attack any ships attempting to bring in supplies. Residents of towns in Libya’s Western Mountains say they’re on the brink of starvation amidst ongoing attacks by Gaddafi troops.

We’re going to go right now to Alan Kuperman, professor at the University of Texas, Austin, author of the book The Limits of Humanitarian Intervention and co-editor of Gambling on Humanitarian Intervention.

Your response to this latest news, the killing of Gaddafi’s son and his three grandchildren?

ALAN KUPERMAN: Obviously, tragic, but it’s not good for international politics. It’s not good for resolving this conflict. You know, the first thing I thought of when NATO said that, well, this is a legitimate target, is I thought, well, how would President Obama feel if some country which didn’t like the way he was waging war, if they had decided, “Well, the White House is a legitimate target, he’s the commander-in-chief,” and they bomb the White House? And let’s say they killed his wife, or they killed one or both of his daughters. Would President Obama say, “Well, that’s a legitimate target”? I don’t think so.

So, this war in Libya is really starting to get out of hand. The U.N. resolution authorized action to protect civilians, and it seems that more civilians are dying as the result of the intervention than would have died without intervention, first of all, and that there’s this mission creep. How is hitting a residential compound and killing the children of the leader of Libya—how is that protecting civilians? It also undermines international norms. I mean, there’s norms. You don’t go after the children of leaders and the grandchildren of leaders. And if you hit them by mistake, you should say it’s a mistake and apologize. So, I mean, I think this is a violation of norms and counterproductive for the goal of protecting noncombatants.

AMY GOODMAN: You have written, Alan Kuperman, that the U.S. and NATO have attacked Libya under false pretenses. Can you explain?

ALAN KUPERMAN: Well, the argument that was made by the President in his address to the nation is that he supported intervention and NATO intervened because there was going to be a bloodbath. In that speech, he talked about, quote-unquote, “preventing genocide,” and that that’s the kind of mission that justifies U.S. and NATO military action. But the reality is that there was no genocide underway, and there was no genocide threatening. What was happening is that a very, very weak rebel force had attacked his government, and his government had very quickly driven back the rebel force to one last city and was about to defeat the rebels in that city. And because the rebels didn’t want to be defeated, they concocted this notion that, “Oh, there’s going to be a genocide,” and they announced that there would be a bloodbath unless there were intervention. And then President Obama, a few days later, said that he was intervening to stop a bloodbath.

And so, the only question for me is, did the rebels trick President Obama into believing there would be a bloodbath, or did President—was President Obama essentially in on the trick and declared that there was going to be a bloodbath when he knew that there would not be, because he wanted to intervene for other reasons? And those reasons might have been that he just wanted to overthrow Gaddafi for other reasons or that he thought that by helping the rebels, he would give some momentum to the Arab Spring that was underway elsewhere. But the bottom line is that there was no bloodbath. Gaddafi was targeting mainly rebels. This comes out of the—this is, you know, proved by the data that comes from Human Rights Watch, which showed that in the main city under siege in the center of the country, Misurata, of the people wounded there, only three percent were women. So, if Gaddafi were really just indiscriminately targeting residential buildings, apartment buildings and so forth—

AMY GOODMAN: We have five seconds.

ALAN KUPERMAN:—you would think that the percentage of casualties would be about 50 percent women, but it was only three percent women. So it clearly wasn’t a genocide, and he’s fighting rebels.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to have to leave it there. Professor Alan Kuperman, thanks for joining us.


The West Goes To War For Oil And Power In Libya

In Uncategorized on March 24, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Oldspeak:”30 years ago, President Reagan referred to Qaddafi as the “mad dog of the Middle East” and launched his own war on Libya. 10 years ago President G.W. Bush saw Qaddafi as an ally in the ‘War On Terror”  Today, “The same Western leaders who happily armed and did oil business with the Qaddafi regime until a fortnight ago have now slapped sanctions on the discarded autocrat and blithely referred him to the international criminal court the United States won’t recognize.”-Seamus Milne, The Guardian. This war isn’t about protecting innocents. Innocents are being killed in Bahrain by a U.S. backed dictator. Innocents are being killed in Pakistan by U.S. Drones. Innocents are being killed in Palestine. Innocent children are being killed in Afghanistan by “Coalition Forces”. Children dissidents, and journalists are being killed and detained in Syria. You hear very little about this corporate media. Make no mistake, this war is about oil. CIA/U.S. Special Forces trained and backed Libyan rebels, have given the west the pretext for this war.  This latest war of aggression is the latest example of politically and oil motivated hypocrisy by the U.S. and it’s allies.”

By Tom Arabia & Alan Maass @ The Socialist Worker:

U.S. and European forces began a war on Libya on last week with warplane and missile strikes hitting weapons and defense systems controlled by Muammar el-Qaddafi and his regime.

The Western assault will be portrayed as a “humanitarian” mission to stop Qaddafi from carrying out an offensive targeting the mass rebellion against his regime. But the long record of “humanitarian” intervention shows that the bombs and guns of the U.S. and its allies are never used to save lives or bring justice, but to serve Western interests–and Libya is no different.

Anyone who has been inspired by the wave of revolts against dictators in North Africa and the Middle East–including the one in Libya–must oppose this new attempt by the U.S. and its allies to reassert their domination in the region, because it will be used to try to stifle the struggle for democracy.

The attack by a coalition of countries, with the support of several Arab nations–but with the U.S. acting as the “leading edge,” according to American military officials–is described as the first phase of an operation called “Odyssey Dawn” to implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, passed on Thursday. Targets were hit across north Libya, from airports near the capital of Tripoli to military positions on the outskirts of the city of Benghazi, which has been a stronghold of the rebellion against Qaddafi.

The aim, according to the governments carrying out the attack, is to destroy the regime’s ability to resist enforcement of a no-fly zone. But the Security Council resolution lays the basis for a much broader war, and operations are expected to escalate to a “no-drive zone” and possibly the use of ground forces, in parts of Libya or the whole country.

The attack came as Qaddafi’s forces began an offensive against Benghazi, after a scorched-earth campaign that has pounded rebel forces in the past week. Within days of its beginnings in mid-February, the uprising against Qaddafi seemed on the verge of toppling one of the longest-running dictatorships in the world, but the regime has used its overwhelming military advantage over the rebellion to win back most of the northwest of the country around the capital of Tripoli, as well as a string of port cities leading toward Benghazi.

Libya’s government claimed to have implemented a cease-fire on Saturday and invited UN fact-finding missions to verify it, but numerous reports from both Western and other media sources described a stepped-up campaign against Benghazi, with opposition fighters coming under constant mortar and artillery fire.

With attacks from the air, the U.S.-led assault on Libya might prevent some of Qaddafi’s forces from entering rebel-controlled and civilian-populated areas like Benghazi, but as the U.S. intelligences consulting firm Stratfor wrote [1], “it cannot force the withdrawal of those forces from within the city without risking significant civilian casualties…The application of airpower entails civilian casualties, and it remains unclear if that application can be translated into the achievement of political objectives in Libya.”

That raises the potential of large-scale bloodshed among the very people who have rebelled against Qaddafi–and a war that will have to escalate beyond limited missile strikes and air patrols to accomplish the stated objectives of Western governments. D.B. Grady, a former paratrooper with the U.S. Army Special Operations Command and veteran of the Afghanistan war, explained the dynamic in an interview on National Public Radio [2]:

I’m unaware of any no-fly zone that’s been imposed by the United States that didn’t ultimately end up with military intervention that actually put soldiers on the ground. Bosnia and Herzegovina started out as Operation Deny Flight…If you look at Iraq, we established the no-fly zone in 1991. The no-fly zone ended in 2003 with Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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IN CHEERLEADING the U.S.-led assault to “stop a massacre,” the American media never stopped for a moment to question Washington’s selective concern about violence and repression.

Even as the Security Council was passing a resolution that U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice insisted was “to protect innocent civilians,” the Washington-allied monarchy in the Gulf state of Bahrain was shooting down anti-government demonstrators. The most that U.S. diplomats could manage in this case was calls for “restraint” and “talks.”

Also the very same day as the UN resolution was passed, U.S. military forces were directly responsible for 40 deaths in Pakistan [3], when missiles fired from American drone planes hit a community assembly or jirga, in the Nevi Adda Shega area of North Waziristan. These deaths come a few weeks after a NATO air attack killed nine Afghan boys in early March [4], and in the wake of at least 29 people killed in protests in U.S.-occupied Iraq in late February [5].

The other element missing from media coverage of the Libya attack is a three-letter word familiar from past U.S.-led wars in the Middle East: oil.

Libya exports about 1.5 million barrels of oil a day and possesses one of the largest oil reserves of any country in Africa. Western oil companies have done a booming business with the dictator Qaddafi over the past decade, devoting huge investments to the country.

That was only possible because of the rehabilitation of the regime as an ally. Qaddafi has been the villain before for U.S. politicians–during the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan called him the “mad dog of the Middle East” and launched his own war on Libya. But in between, the one-time villain became a friend. As Todd Chretien described in an article for SocialistWorker.org [6]:

While the Cold War was still on, the U.S. considered Libya an enemy, and Ronald Reagan targeted the country in the 1980s, including an attempt to assassinate Qaddafi by bombing one of his residences (which killed his 15-month-old daughter).

But in the late 1990s, Qaddafi began to make peace with his former adversaries. And after 9/11, Qaddafi offered Libyan support for the U.S. government’s “war on terror” under George W. Bush. The regime restored diplomatic relations with the U.S., leading ExxonMobil, Chevron and other American corporations to rush into lucrative exploration and production deals.

Before the threat of military intervention escalated, Guardian columnist Seamus Milne commented: “The same Western leaders who happily armed and did business with the Qaddafi regime until a fortnight ago have now slapped sanctions on the discarded autocrat and blithely referred him to the international criminal court the United States won’t recognize.”

Given this record of hypocrisy, neither the U.S. government nor its European allies–and not the Arab states like Qatar that are going along with the war on Libya either–can be trusted to have decent motives. The real reasons for the assault on Libya have nothing to do with saving the Libyan people from Qaddafi. They are about oil profits on the one hand–and reestablishing U.S. and European influence in a part of the world that has experienced two revolutions–in Egypt and Tunisia–since the start of the year.

This war won’t bring justice. It has to be opposed.

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  1. [1] http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/20110319-red-alert-libyan-forces-benghazi
  2. [2] http://www.npr.org/2011/03/13/134516032/Understanding-No-Fly-Zones-And-Their-Implications
  3. [3] http://www.dawn.com/2011/03/18/rare-condemnation-by-pm-army-chief-40-civilians-killed-in-drone-attack.html
  4. [4] http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2011/03/2011391229382651.html
  5. [5] http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2011/02/27/At-least-29-dead-in-Iraq-protests/UPI-56511298812676/
  6. [6] http://socialistworker.org/2011/02/28/taking-sides-about-libya
  7. [7] http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0