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What laws of war? We do what we want!: Obama Admits US Bombing Attacks in Syria Pay Little Heed to Protecting Civilians

By Dave Lindorff

 

In a perverse way, maybe it's progress that the US is now admitting that it doesn't really care about how many civilians it kills in its efforts to "decapitate" a few suspected terrorist leaders.

Who's On First?: The War of the Heads

By John Grant

 

Ain’t no time to wonder why.
Whoopee, we’re all gonna die.

                  - Country Joe MacDonald

 

Freedom’s just another word: US Launches Wars and Backs Coups in the Name of Democracy, but Won’t Back Real Democracy Activists

By Dave Lindorff


The US claims to be supporting democracy from Ukraine to Cuba, and from Somalia to Iraq, often by bombing the alleged opposition, or by supporting proxy wars and subversion. But one place where real democracy activists are battling against the forces of repression they are curiously getting no backing from the United States: Hong Kong.

Going, going, gone, but let’s not forget him: Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder Leaves Office

By Dave Lindorff


Good riddance!


Eric Holder has announced that he is leaving his post of Attorney General, which he has sullied and degraded for six years.


Nationalist Illusions

After thousands of years of bloody wars among contending tribes, regions, and nations, is it finally possible to dispense with the chauvinist ideas of the past? 

A cultural essay: Going to War with a Vengeance

By John Grant


To do nothing is to send a message to the wrongdoer, and the general public, that the victim has no self-worth and will not marshal the internal resources necessary to reclaim his or her honor. Shattered dignity is not beyond repair, but no elevating and equalizing of dignity can occur without the personal satisfaction of revenge.
        -Thane Rosenbaum, Payback: The Case For Revenge

Terrorist in Chief

Suckered Again?

By Winslow Myers

Why must vengefulness be the default strategy for humans—the very thing we dislike and fear most about our adversaries? Mob rule is a temptation we assume we have grown beyond, but have we? The media hounds and the war lovers like Senators Graham and McCain bay for blood, putting enormous pressure on the President to get suckered into a third Middle East war. To avoid the label of wimp, Mr. Obama had to say what he said in his speech to the nation on his strategy against ISIS, but what he said was only a palatable version of the vengefulness paradigm.

The agony of loss the parents of Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff must feel is beyond comprehension. But is their pain any different from the universal pain of violence and war that has been felt by the parents of murdered children time out of mind?—the pain of Aleppo, the pain of mothers in Gaza, the pain of innocents in Baghdad who found themselves on the wrong end of shock and awe, the pain of wedding participants in Afghanistan blown up under the pitiless eye of drones, the horror of people having to jump from the twin towers to avoid being burned alive.

When we refuse to get sucked into the vengeful mob mentality, we see the cycle of violence objectively, including our own role in it—as colonial powers that created arbitrary borders in the Middle East at the end of World War I, and more recently as equally ineffective neo-colonial occupiers with ambiguous motives. We see the Hobbesian atomization of conflict that has overtaken the region: the U.S. and Iran support Iraq. Iran, Iraq, Russia and Shia militias support Assad. The U.S. and the Gulf States want to contain Iran and prevent it from going nuclear. The Gulf States, the U.S. and Sunni militants want to defeat Assad. The Kurds, Iran, the U.S. and Iraq want to defeat ISIS, even as the Kurds have benefited from the chaos created by ISIS. For the United States, never seen as a disinterested party, to intervene militarily in this stew is madness.

We do not know enough about the motives of ISIS to be sure what they wanted to accomplish with the beheadings. On the face of it, such abhorrent acts appear to be an ongoing response in an endless cycle of eye for eye and tooth for tooth—like 9-11 itself. The leader of ISIS was mistreated at Abu Ghraib. The U.S. dropped bombs on ISIS soldiers. And it is also possible that they assume strategic advantage might be found by luring in the U.S. and its allies—perhaps to unite fragmented factions against a common enemy—us, if we choose to get suckered once again.

What is more certain is that thought-systems of violent revenge can take on a bizarre life in an endless cycle of hate and fear, preventing us from thinking outside the constricting box of compulsive military reaction. However tired of war we may be, we feel insulted and helpless—and that leads us to assume we have no alternative but to try war again.

We know from hard experience we will end up spending much more to defeat ISIS by military means, assuming any so-called defeat does not create more enemies than it destroys. We have alternatives. Extrapolating from our feckless campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, imagine some arbitrary sum roughly equal to a quarter of what we spent on those wars becomes an available resource to do something outside the box of war. In this alternative paradigm, weapons sales, to any party, would be an automatic no. That only pours gasoline onto fire.

One alternative model is Rabbi Michael Lerner’s Global Marshall Plan (http://spiritualprogressives.org/newsite/?page_id=114), the preamble of which goes: “In the 21st century, our security and well being depends on the well being of everyone else on this planet as well as on the health of the planet itself. An important way to manifest this caring is through a Global Marshall Plan that would dedicate 1-2% of the U.S. annual Gross Domestic Product each year for the next twenty years to eliminate domestic and global poverty, homelessness, hunger, inadequate education, and inadequate health care and repair damage done to the environment . . . ”

Such common-sense generosity helps undercut the motives of ISIS to attack Western targets and isolates extremists by building relationships with a majority of people who would be grateful for genuine humanitarian help. It is past time for the U.S. to abandon its knee-jerk assumption that pouring in yet more raw military force can end, rather than intensify, the tribal enmities tearing apart the region. George W. Bush in 2002: "Fool me once, shame on—shame on you. Fool me—you can't get fooled again." We’d better hope not.

Winslow Myers, the author of “Living Beyond War: a Citizen’s Guide,” writes for Peacevoice and serves on the Advisory Board of the War Prevention Initiative.

Obama and ISIS

by David McReynolds

We can all agree that ISIS (or ISL) is a dreadful organization which has committed grievous

crimes in Iraq,  crimes which extend far beyond the beheading of American journalists to include
mass executions of civilians.The problem is that, as always happens in these cases, there is a certain "selective outrage", a kind of "willed amnesia" about our own role in such matters.

Let me leave aside ancient history such as Vietnam, and, just looking at Iraq, remind ourselves that the US supported Saddam Hussein for a long period of time, including his war against Iran which lasted nine years, during which he used poison gas against the Iranians with no comment from the White House. Or, after the first Gulf War, when Saddam had agreed to the terms of surrender and was withdrawing his troops from Kuwait, our planes machine gunned the retreating troops who, under any possible definition of the terms of surrender, should have had safe passage.

Then, the US encouraged an uprising among the Iraqis against Saddam, but provided no support, and stood by when Saddam slaughtered them by the thousands. Or perhaps to remember the massive loss of civilian lives in Iraq after our inglorious "Shock and Awe" invasion. Or the torture chambers we set up, photographs of which horrified the world.

Not all of the sins of America, taken together, justify the beheading of a single journalist - but memory may help us understand the roots of that horror.

Obama's speech tonight went out of its way to chide Russia, at precisely the moment we need the help of Russia (and Iran) in dealing with ISIS. He stoked the old fires of the Cold War by reference to the troubles of Ukraine - for which the US is primarily responsible. And, most tragic of all,
instead of offering some hope of ending the bloodshed in Syria, he is now going to extend further aid to one side in the civil war there, which will prolong and deepen it.

If ISIS is indeed the enemy, then, in Syria, the most natural ally is Assad, brutal as his dictatorship is. Let's remember the US has relied on Syria before, as an ally against Hussein, and as a
convenient place to send suspects we wanted tortured in the most professional way possible.
This may well be, for the Syrians, a choice between Hitler and Stalin, with ISIS playing the role of Hitler.

The roots of ISIS are in part in Syria, where it has been a bitter enemy of Assad, and in large part now in Iraq, where it has made an appeal to the Sunni population. The Sunnis are the minority religion, but, under Saddam Hussein, they ruled Iraq. As a result of the US invasion, the Sunnis were driven from power and the government turned over to the Shiites (which have close ties
to Iran). The US-sponsored government in Baghdad used its power to wreck vengeance on the Sunnis, excluding them from any share of power, and, in far too many cases, using control of the State to murder and imprison them.

Now the Sunnis have turned to ISIS for their revenge. And ISIS has used the weapons the US sent to the Iraqi army, which turned and fled, leaving behind their tanks and heavy artillery. The chances are good that more American aid will end in the same way - and the history of this is instructive. In the Chinese Revolution in the last century, Mao's army equipped itself with the weapons the US sent to the Kuomintang. In Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh's army equipped itself with the weapons the US had sent to Saigon.

The one exception in Iraq is the Kurdish area. Contrary to media reports, the Peshmerga broke in their first encounter with ISIS - but they have a real stake in setting up their own territory and there is a good chance that, unlike the Iraqi army, they will stand and fight once they have caught their breath. (I feel guilty, as a pacifist, to even suggest aspects of military strategy and tactics - I am only trying to offer an analysis). It is true that a Kurdish "state" in Iraq will create new problems,
but they are the one group that might prove a match for ISIS.

Meanwhile, one has to wonder why American intelligence was caught so totally off guard
by ISIS and its sweep into Iraq. Just as our sources failed to alert us to this impending disaster , they may be over-estimating the power of ISIS, which will be subject to internal strains.

Meanwhile, missing entirely from Obama's speech was any recognition of the dangerous role Saudi Arabia and Qatar have played in creating ISIS. If there is a hidden card in this deck, it is in the military and financial support these states gave to the Islamist forces in Syria - the very forces which evolved into ISIS. It is surely ironic that Obama and his advisers would go out of their
way to chide Russia - which might actually be of help in dealing with ISIS - and remain silent on the countries which have played so ominous a role in creating the current problem. (Keep in mind that the funding for Al Queda came in large part from wealthy Saudis).

ISIS, dreadful as it is, is not a threat to the United States. It is part of the civil war which has emerged in Iraq now that the US has withdrawn. Massive bombing campaigns will not solve
a problem which has its roots in the internal tensions and religious conflicts in Iraq. For diplomacy to have a chance, the US will need consultation with Iran, just as it needs  to avoid deepening the civil conflict in Syria.

Obama's speech failed to deal with the real problems. He seems unaware that the American Empire has ended, that while, like King Canute, he may command the tide to stop, the tides obey other forces over which the US has no control.

(David McReynolds is a former staff member of the War Resisters League, was twice the Socialist Party's candidate for President, and served a term as Chair of War Resisters International. He is retired, lives on Manhattan's Lower East Side with his two cats, and can be contacted at: davidmcreynolds7@gmail.com. He was the subject of the dual biography by Martin Duberman: The Radical Lives of Barbara Deming and David McReynolds)

Making the news fit the politics: NY Times Finds Conclusions Where None Exist in Dutch Flight 17 Downing Report

By Dave Lindorff


The New York Times, which has been misreporting on, and misleading its readers about the downing of Malaysian Flight 17 since the plane was downed last July 17, continues its sorry track record of flogging anti-Russian sentiment in the US and of supporting the post-putsch Ukrainian government in Kiev.

Washington’s seedy propaganda campaign: Satellite Images of Alleged Russian Artillery in Ukraine Come A-Cropper

By Dave Lindorff


In the ongoing propaganda campaign mounted by the Obama administration to claim that Russia has “invaded” Ukraine from the east, it offered up some grainy black-and-white satellite images purporting to show heavy Russian military equipment inside the Ukraine. 


What Russian invasion?: In-Place Cease-Fire Reached between Government and Rebel Forces in Ukraine

By Dave Lindorff


The separatist rebels of eastern Ukraine and the government in Kiev that controls the Ukrainian army have reached a cease-fire in place that leaves the separatists largely in control of the Russian-majority regions of the eastern part of that country.

No! Your data is not safe!: Hackers Used Government Spyware to Data-rob iCloud

By Alfredo Lopez


One sensationally reported incident this week exposes a dual threat: your data isn't safe on a corporate-controlled "cloud" and spying software made for police and government agencies makes it completely accessible.

War by stealth and by mini-armies: US Invades Iraq...Again, and Secretly

By Dave Lindorff


Flash! The US has re-invaded Iraq!

Let’s get reimbursed!: Time-Warner Customers of the World Unite!

By Alfredo Lopez


Are you a Time-Warner Internet customer? Have you ever experienced an outage? Have you called the company for a reimbursement? Most people would probably answer "no" to that last question. In fact, most company customers don't realize that these companies aren't required to reimburse and, in Time Warner's case, they usually don't. You have to call them.

Maybe it's time to make this sensitive movement for Time Warner a bit more sensitive.

Get a grip America: Who’s the Real Aggressor in Ukraine? (Hint: It’s Not Russia)

By Dave Lindorff

 

            The US corporate media are awash in fevered articles and news stories about a Russian “invasion” of Ukraine, as though it was 1938, with German troops marching into Sedetenland and Austria. But let’s step back and look at what’s going on, calmly and rationally.

 

Obama Opened Floodgates for Offshore Fracking in Recent Gulf of Mexico Lease

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

In little-noticed news arising out of a recent Gulf of Mexico offshore oil and gas lease held by the U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the floodgates have opened for Gulf offshore hydraulic fracturing ("fracking").

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

State Dept. Overseers of Contentious Enbridge Tar Sands Pipeline Workaround Have Industry, Torture Ties

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

The Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and other green groups recently revealed that pipeline giant Enbridge got U.S. State Department permission in response to its request to construct a U.S.-Canada border-crossing tar sands pipeline without earning an obligatory Presidential Permit.

Break the Vengeance Cycle: Why We Should Not Go To War Over James Foley

By John Grant


Back in June 2011, James Foley gave an hour-long interview to an auditorium of students from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where he had graduated three years earlier with a Master’s degree in journalism. It was 15 days after he had been released from 45 rough days of captivity in Libya. He was a handsome young hero returning to his alma-mater.

Overseeing Koch Profits: The Roots of David Vitter’s Green Billionaires Club Report

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

A DeSmogBlog investigation reveals that Kristina Moore, the Senate staffer listed as the author of U.S. Sen. David Vitter's (R-La.) "green billionaire's club" report published by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) on July 30, has career roots tracing back to the Koch Brothers' right-wing machine.

What's the truth behind Malaysian Flight 17 downing?: CIA Analysts Won't Support White House Claims of Russian Culpability

By Dave Lindorff


With the US continuing to push its submissive European “allies” towards an ever more confrontational stance towards Russia over the crisis in Ukraine (a crisis initially provoked by the US itself through CIA and State Department actions that led to the overthrow of Ukraine’s elected government), the world appears headed towards a dangerous renewed Cold War between the world’s two nuclear superpowers.


A Modest Suggestion: How To Dissipate the Protest in Ferguson

By John Grant


There was a moment during MSNBC's live coverage of Ferguson, Missouri, Monday night through 2AM Tuesday morning when Chris Hayes and one of his guests conceded the police (now augmented by National Guard troops said to be guarding a police command center) begrudgingly deserved a good grade because -- unlike riots in Newark and Los Angeles -- no one had been killed. This was after cops had "barked" at Hayes and threatened him with macing if he and his camera crew dared again venture "in front of" the police.

Community or Warzone: Warrior Cops Lose a Round in Missouri

By John Grant

 

On Monday, I decided to spend my evenings flipping back-and-forth between Fox News and MSNBC as the two cable channels dealt with the dueling stories of the United States tiptoeing into a third war in Iraq and the sudden appearance of what appeared to be a police state in a little town outside St Louis. From Monday to Friday, the Ferguson, Missouri story has gone from that of a bizarre and dangerous war zone to one of a relief-filled carnival in the streets.

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