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The Senators leading the pack of war-dogs, John McCain and Lindsey Graham, opined in The New York Times this week on the need for the U.S. to go all-out in the Middle East: We must face facts: A comprehensive strategy to defeat ISIS would require more troops, assets, resources and time. Such an undertaking should involve Congress. We have consistently advocated revising the Authorization for Use of Military Force that has provided congressional backing for counterterrorism operations since September 2001.These plans carry with them a repeat, or worse, of the mass death and destruction of society the U.S. carried out in an attempt to control Iraq.
By Staff, www.PopularResistance.org
Below are views of people whose voices are not often heard in the corporate media but who have worked on issues of militarism and war for many years. We sought out the views of those who recognize that war is not the answer to complex foreign policy issues for their views on President Obama’s recent speech declaring war on ISIS. Obama did not use the word “war” as he prefers to avoid explicitly stating what is really happening by talking about “air strikes” and “counter terrorism.”
In reality his speech was a declaration of war. And, he says it will last three years, which we suspect underestimates the war-quagmire he is beginning. As we have said in previous columns, President Obama needs to get (1) authorization for the use of military force from Congress, and (2) authorization from the United Nations before the attack he has announced. He is not pursuing either but instead has taken on the power to send the United States into a new war on his own. In fact, this July the House passed a resolution requiring authorization from Congress for a sustained presence of combat troops in Iraq. The resolution passed with bipartisan support in a 370-40 vote. The House has warned Obama to seek authorization, he has ignored them. President Obama is violating both domestic and international law. When unilateral military action is taken then every action taken in support of this illegal war is a war crime.
The US public has generally shown opposition to more war in consistent polling — leading to Americans being described as ‘war weary.’ With the recent focus on the extremism of ISIS, especially the beheading of two journalists, there has been a brief spike of support for military action. But as the quicksand of conflict with ISIS takes hold and this war drags on, public opinion will shift back to its opposition to war. People will see that US military intervention is not destroying anti-Americanism but increasing it and thereby strengthening ISIS and similar groups. It is important for those who oppose war to build a campaign now against the war on ISIS in order to move public opinion and end this military conflict as quickly as possible.
This is not about legalisms and US public opinion polls, it is going to be about the killing of tens of thousands of people with air strikes that primarily kill civilians. US military action will add to the chaos in the region, chaos made worse, if not caused, by US intervention in Iraq, Libya, Syria as well as the many countries President Obama has unilaterally bombed. The US has conducted 94,000 air strikes in the Middle East since 9/11 why does anyone think that continuing this strategy will being peace and security to the region or the United States. When has more of the same ever worked? If the goal is more chaos, division and destruction, Obama has chosen the right path; if the goal is peace and security, he is going in the wrong direction, when there are many other more sensible and effective paths to follow.
Perspectives of those who Oppose War in Iraq and Syria Against ISIS
David Swanson, Director, World Beyond War
Operation Unchanging Hopelessness is going to leave a lot of people feeling degraded and destroyed. ISIS on the other hand is getting what it wanted when it published the videos that have scared so many people into ignorant and soon-to-be-regretted support for mass murder. Just after the speech, Rachel Maddow was glorying in the fact that ISIS wouldn’t get U.S. troops on the ground which, she said, is what they really, really want. But if you’re aware of being manipulated into an act of mass-murder should you be happy that you’re picking a second-choice method that will actually mean MORE dying, only dying of non-Americans? And since when is 1500 troops on the ground with a promise to Chuck Todd to keep it under 100,000 a decision not to have troops on the ground? Remember, 1,000 Russian troops (albeit fictional) constitutes an invasion of Ukraine. Now that I mention it, I’m feeling a bit degraded already.
Veterans for Peace
President Obama outlined a strategy no different from what the U.S. has done for the past thirteen years. It is not a plan for success, it is a gamble that war will work this time when it has spectacularly failed thus far. We at Veterans For Peace challenge the American people to ask whose interests does endless war serve? Who is paying for these wars, whose children are dying in these wars and who is getting paid to finance and provide weapons for these wars? We the people are being driven by manipulated fear to support polices that are not in our interest. Peace is harder than war, but it is cheaper in blood and treasure. After thirteen years it is time to take another path, the path of peace.
Cindy Sheehan, peace activist
I believe the reason that the presidents of the US can continue to make such belligerent and jingoistic speeches and follow through with the continuation of endless wars is because the American people keep falling for the propaganda and the lie that either one of the two major political parties is better than the other when it comes to war for profit. I think last night’s speech by Obama was just a regurgitation of any speech by GWB and shame on anybody who is falling for this same tired, yet hostile, rhetoric. It would be funny if so many lives weren’t unnecessarily compromised because of US aggression.
As we commemorate the 13th anniversary of 9/11, we recall the invasion of Afghanistan the US launched one month after the attacks, and the war on Iraq launched on lies in 2002 – and look in horror at conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan today. The lesson? War and violence are the problem, NOT the solution to terrorism. Based on the speech President Obama gave yesterday, it seems like he –– and the entire US government –– still haven’t learned that lesson. The situation in Iraq and Syria is complicated, with no easy or perfect solutions. While we are concerned for the safety of the Iraqi and Syrian people threatened by ISIS, we know that American military force and contractors will only make the crisis worse and cause more suffering.
Coleen Rowley, retired FBI agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel
Did I miss where Obama recognized that elements of the “Free Syrian Army” that the US has been arming and assisting to topple Assad, presumably after being vetted as the “good guys” were actually the ones who sold, at least one if not both, American journalists to the “bad guys” who then beheaded them? Did I miss where he admitted that drone bombing Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, ETC –which resulted in deaths of wedding parties and other innocent civilians as well as mostly low level “foot soldiers”—and putting hundreds of men who had nothing to do with 9-11 in Guantanamo prison camps without any due process, torturing and killing some of them, has ratcheted up a certain amount of hatred of the US world wide but especially in the Mid-east thus making it fertile ground for radicalization and recruitment by Islamic State and other extremists? Did Obama even admit what most of his military commanders have concluded, that “there is no military solution”? Did he close with God bless our exceptional country that luckily is so exceptional that it’s above the law in its pursuit of “full spectrum dominance” yet has the neocon chutzpah to expect other (non-dominant, non-exceptional) countries to follow? Maybe I just missed the parts where Obama told the truth.
Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept
Here’s how you know you live in an empire devoted to endless militarism: when a new 3-year war is announced and very few people seem to think the president needs anyone’s permission to start it (including Congress) and, more so, when the announcement - of a new multiple-year war - seems quite run-of-the-mill and normal.
Sheldon Richman, Vice President, Future of Freedom Foundation
The US government went to war against al Qaeda and got ISIS. Now it’s going to war against ISIS. What will come next? The only thing we know for sure is that, as Randolph Bourne said, “War is the health of the state.
President Obama’s new war plans in Iraq and Syria will not liberate the people of either country but will lead to more destruction. The U.S. military defeat of the secular Iraqi and Libyan governments (in 2003 and 2011) and its policy of fueling armed civil war against the secular, nationalist government in Syria are the fundamental reasons the so-called Islamic State has grown and become strong. Perpetuating a now 23-year-long U.S. political tradition, President Obama is announcing tonight that he, like the three preceding U.S. presidents, will go forward with another bombing campaign in Iraq. This is a war that will lead only to more catastrophe and destruction.
Nathan Goodman, Lysander Spooner Research Scholar in Abolitionist Studies at the Center for a Stateless Society
Obama’s speech embodies a cycle of violence that remains inevitable as long as the US remains an empire. As UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk and others have noted, ISIL’s power is blowback from prior US intervention. Much of that intervention stems from a “War on Terror” that began in response to the 9/11 attacks. The 9/11 attacks themselves were retaliation for US aggression in the Middle East, including the disastrous sanctions against Iraq. The attacks were orchestrated by Osama bin Laden, who was previously backed by the CIA in order to fight the Soviet Union. Who knows what blowback Obama’s new campaign of bombing will unleash? Rather than responding to every problem with more intervention, violence, and bloodshed, the US needs to dismantle its empire. Until this happens, intervention followed by blowback will leave us with a vicious cycle of violence, bloodshed, and imperial murders euphemistically termed “collateral damage.”
Matthew Hoh, Senior Fellow at the Center for International Policy and former Director of the Afghanistan Study Group
The United States’ official policy in the Middle East is now perpetual war. What has been known for some time, including by those of us who have served overseas, by the millions who have suffered through our bombs and our bullets, and, of course, by the hundreds of thousands whose lives have been ripped from their families and from any promised futures, President Obama solidified last night. The United States, by agreeing to airstrikes without end in support of a corrupt and sectarian government in Baghdad; by championing a Shia and Kurdish invasion of Sunni lands; and by promising arms, munitions and money to rebel groups in the middle of the Syrian Civil War, the same groups that sold Steven Sotloff to his beheading, has adopted a policy that will exacerbate the civil wars in both Iraq and Syria and deepen the nightmare existence of their people. President Obama’s speech will be remembered as a mark of moral shame on the United States.
Nicolas J. S. Davies is the author of “Blood On Our Hands: The American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.”
Since 9/11 the United States has launched more than 94,000 air strikes, mostly on Afghanistan and Iraq, but also on Libya, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Rumsfeld’s plan has undoubtedly achieved his goal of changing the way people live in those countries, killing a million of them and reducing tens of millions more to lives of disability, disfigurement, dislocation, grief and poverty. A sophisticated propaganda campaign has politically justified 13 years of systematic U.S. war crimes. The chaos that Obama’s doctrine of covert and proxy war has wreaked in Libya, Syria and Iraq should be a reminder of one of the obvious but unlearned lessons of September 11, that creating and arming groups of religious fanatics as proxies to fight secular enemies has huge potential for blowback and unintended consequences as they gain power and escape external control. Now that ISIS is once again fighting in Iraq as well as Syria, we have come full circle and Western propaganda and ISIS itself have again found common cause in exaggerating its strength and highlighting its brutality. The dirty little secret that our propaganda system cannot mention is that the current crises are all deeply rooted in U.S. policy.
Michael D. Ostrolenk, conservative activist
“No American President has the authority to unilaterally declare war on either a state actor or non-state actor. According to our Founding Fathers , the President, unless responding to an attack or imminent threat, must seek approval from Congress for acts of war. President Obama should go to Congress, lay out his case, and allow for a real debate to take place amongst the People’s representatives.”
Michael Eisenscher, National Coordinator, U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW)
The president yesterday announced his “strategy” for dealing with the threat posed by the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq and Syria. He has given terror networks and the international arms industry cause for great celebration. The former because he is giving them just what they want – a direct confrontation with the “Great Satan” and powerful recruiting inducement, both in the region and around the world. The latter because at a moment when actual cuts are possible in the obscene level of funding for the Pentagon and war, he has opened the door to yet another bountiful feast at the public trough for the armaments industry. In the process, he is turning his back on the millions of Americans who continue to suffer unemployment, under-employment, substandard (or no) housing, education beyond reach for many and a source of lifetime indentured servitude to the banks for those who must borrow to obtain a higher education, and the multitude of other urgent unmet needs we have here.
He also disregards the consequences for the environment and global climate of war and militarism, which are not only crimes against humanity but also crimes against the planet the consequences of which will be born by generations to come, since the Pentagon is the single largest polluter on the planet and wars escalate the severity of that pollution. And he, a constitutional lawyer who was elected on a platform of ending war, demonstrates utter contempt for the separation of powers and congressional authority alone to declare war and commit U.S. forces to battle. And as has been the case with so many presidents before him, he is telling the rest of the international community that national sovereignty can be violated at will without regard for international law, the U.N. Charter and other treaties whenever it suits the U.S. but that our borders are inviolate, including by those escaping the ravages and horror of wars (both military and economic) which our country has engaged in and supported in our own hemisphere. Shame on him and a supine Congress that has abdicated its constitutional duty, and shame on us if we allow this to happen without a determined struggle to stop it.
Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies
Military actions will not set the stage for political solutions; they will prevent those solutions from taking hold. Escalating military actions against this violent extremist organization is not going to work.
The bottom line is there is no immediate action that will make ISIS disappear, even if U.S. airstrikes manage to get the right target somewhere and take out an APC or a truckload of guys with RPGs or whatever.
You can’t destroy an ideology – or even an organization -through bombing (look at the efforts to do so with Al Qaeda . . . lots of members killed in Afghanistan, but the organization took root in a bunch of other countries). A military strike might bring some immediate satisfaction, but we all know revenge is a bad basis for foreign policy, especially when it has such dangerous consequences.
Susan Kerin, Fund Our Communities
We need to support a global diplomatic, humanitarian, and economic effort, not U.S. military escalation. U.S. military action only adds fuel to the sectarian fire. And what will be the costs for this misadventure? Perhaps you recall what happened in Iraq—a war that was supposed to pay for itself (via Iraqi oil) and be over in a couple of months actually cost us over $3 trillion and lasted 8 years. And guess what: in this new air campaign, we will be compounding the costs of that war, as we will be paying to blow up the weapons we previously sent to the region. Meanwhile, food insecurity is at an all-time high in the U.S., our infrastructure continues to deteriorate, and we don’t seem to have the funds to adequately care for children who are crossing our southern border in fear of their lives. Our priorities are way out of whack.
Debra Sweet, The World Can’t Wait
On this 9/11 anniversary, I’m hearing — including from Obama last night — that what happened 13 years ago means the U.S. must create even more 9/11′s in the Middle East. But all the US bombs and occupation have done is generate and strengthen the very forces they tell us they will destroy with more of the same. Even the examples Obama put forward of “success” — Yemen and Somalia — show that yes, the US can conduct secret drone assassination campaigns, but no, that does not bring liberation for the people living in those countries.
People, even those who have been anti-war during the Bush years, are getting drawn into supporting this unjust, illegitimate, immoral plan for unending U.S. war for empire. This time, with no visible opposition in Congress, the supporters of this war can’t be dismissed as Bush regime Republican thugs. There’s unity at the top that US interests require aggressive “going on the offense” for “‘America” as Obama puts it. We can’t let that stand unchallenged. In the streets, the newspapers, in the schools and religious institutions, protest and dissent must be heard.
Alice Slater, Coordinating Committee of World Beyond War
It is heartbreaking to see our country embarking on another futile effort to bomb our way out of a situation that calls out for diplomacy, foreign aid, UN supervision, refugee assistance, almost anything you can think of in place of the devastating US assaults that inevitably murder innocent civilians. How is the evil beheading of innocent journalists any worse than the impersonal murder of innocents on the ground by a thoroughly detached computer nerd, sitting at his lap top someplace in Colorado, pulling on his joystick and destroying, by drone, unseen victims on the ground tens of thousands of miles away. We haven’t even had a body count for all the people who died in Iraq at the point of a US weapon. Meanwhile we repeatedly honor and memorialize our dead soldiers, sent on a wild goose chase after “terrorists” whose destruction of the twin towers was a criminal act that deserved arrest and trial, not perpetual war on two countries, and now three countries. Echoes of 911 are constantly flung in our face like metaphysical war paint, to stir the loins for battle and death. At this time, sensible people should be calling for a global moratorium on all arms sales. We need to stop the only ones who benefit from all this—the arms manufacturers and their co-conspirators in endless war and grasping Empire. Those who truly yearn for peace on earth should also be calling for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, emulating the great success enjoyed by South Africa when it ended a potential bloodbath and years of slaughter by inviting people from all sides of the conflict to come forth, admit their wrong doing, apologize, and be granted amnesty to go free. As long as we hold out for bringing murderers to justice, they will fight us to the last bullet, knife, and bomb. That goes not only for the irregulars in the knife slashing brigades but for our own soldiers and our leaders who ordered them into this cruel conflict as well.
Vijay Prishad, professor of international studies at Trinity College
A rational observer of United States intervention in the swath of land that runs from Libya to Afghanistan would come to a simple conclusion: U.S. military action leads to chaos. Examples are legion, but the two most dramatic are Iraq and Libya. In both cases, the U.S. bombed the state institutions to smithereens. It takes a hundred years to build state institutions. They can be destroyed in an afternoon. The chaos that followed in both countries was the ideal condition for the flotsam of al-Qaida. In Iraq, al-Qaida in Mesopotamia (2004) morphed into the Islamic State of Iraq, and eventually ISIS.
United for Peace and Justice
President Obama may prefer the term “counter-terrorism,” but it is clear from last night’s speech that he is taking the United States into another war.
His long-term plan for bombing Iraq and Syria, for placing U.S. troops on the ground as “trainers,” and for assistance to allied fighters, is opening another tragic chapter in the failed “war on terrorism,” initiated by President Bush and rejected by the voters in 2008.
We deplore the brutality and violence of ISIS, but we do not believe that U.S. air strikes will solve the problem, even if there are short-term military gains. Despite the President’s many references to “a coalition,”in reality the United States will be intervening unilaterally in two civil wars, each of which has multiple factions and complex roots.
U.S. air-strikes –whether in Iraq, Yemen, Pakistan or Afghanistan- have never had the precision that is claimed. Thousands of civilians have been killed, with the result that America’s enemies multiplied. The “new strategy” the President just unveiled isn’t new. It was tried by President George W. Bush in Afghanistan, where it failed, creating a Washington demand for tens of thousands of U.S. combat troops.
Kevin Martin, Executive Director, Peace Action
We agree with the president that there is no military solution to the problems posed by ISIS. And yet his proposed strategy relies far too heavily on the use of military force. It’s time to stop the bombing and escalation and use the other tools of U.S. foreign policy — working with allies in cutting off weapons, oil and funding streams for starters — which will be much more active in dealing with ISIS.
John Fullinwider, President, Dallas Peace Center
To effectively oppose the President on this one, we need to spell out what should be done instead of bombing ISIS. I want a response that is credible to the everyday, non-political person to this question: “ISIS cut off the heads of two American journalists – are you saying just let them get away with it?” The case to be made involves diplomacy at the U.N. and directly with the regional powers, particularly Iran and Turkey; humanitarian assistance to the dispossessed; a cut off of the weapons supply and funding to all militias and non-state actors, specifically pressuring Qatar and Saudi Arabia on this point; and – you name it. But let’s make the case clearly and concisely. The U.S. opened the “gates of hell” in the Middle East with the invasion of Iraq more than a decade ago; we can’t close them with a new bombing campaign. To effectively oppose this campaign, we will need all the tools of organizing and activism, from letters and calls to social media to lawful street protest to civil disobedience.
Jim Albertini, Malu ‘Aina, Center for non-violent education and action
Here We go again! War profiteers want endless War. Obama’s bamboozle strategy is create fear and panic –scare the hell out of people. Don’t buy into the manufactured fear. Bombs are not tools for justice and peace. Stop the wars. Save the planet.
Roger Kotila, Earth Federation News & Views
Unfortunately, anything President Obama has to say is something like the “pot calling the kettle black.” ISIS (or ISIL, or Islamic State) allegedly cuts off heads, while US/NATO blows them off. It’s time to put the Earth Federation Movement’s Earth Constitution into place, upgrading the UN so that there is enforceable world law. The UN and the International Criminal Court remain helpless to deal with VIP world criminals who go about their murderous (war) business with impunity. No individual should be above the law.
By Buddy Bell, Voices for Creative Nonviolence
If someone is not accustomed to hearing much about death and suffering, it can be very upsetting to suddenly hear that a human being was brutally killed in some foreign location. Another someone who has a larger context in which to place that death, while not less upset, might feel less of a sense of momentary kneejerk urgency regarding that singular piece of news. Put in another way, the increment between 0 and 1 human deaths feels intuitively much greater than that between 1000 and 1001 human deaths.
What the first ‘someone’ lacks is proportion. This kind of haziness has been exploited, in one generation after another, as a foundation to construct justifications for war. Those who want to justify war don’t want us to see, let alone value, the first 1000 human beings.
Media attention to the daily murderous instability in Iraq and Afghanistan has been sorely lacking. Even the consistently repeating deaths and injuries of U.S. soldiers receive only momentary pause. Yet when General Harold Greene was recently killed in a ‘green on blue’ attack IN Afghanistan or when James Foley and Steven Sotloff were beheaded in Iraq, the story moves to the top of the page for days; people talk; the dead have names. It looks like there is an acute crisis on our hands when actually it is a chronic one.
The reasons for renewed energy on the part of the media go beyond the pure attention-grabbing novelty of these killings. There is an internalized perception of self-superiority, to which viewers and readers often respond, and from which reporters and editors are not necessarily immune. Ever-ambitious politicians, especially those who are bought by defense contractors and resource extraction industries, construct the case for starting or widening wars in this context. The shooting of a general at a training facility is seen as more vile than breaking down the door and shooting into a family home. Beheading one’s victims becomes more disgusting than burning them alive with a hellfire missile or with white phosphorous. And for some reason, I haven’t heard Dick Cheney on the radio saying that ISIS waterboarding is not torture.
If we could somehow put aside the double-standards, what would the picture in Iraq look like?
Two facts would not be in doubt: ISIS is a murderous threat to the people in its immediate vicinity and U.S. military force has often been a murderous threat to people in its immediate vicinity and beyond.
History is not on the side of the U.S. military. The War on Terror– ostensibly meant to destroy Al-Qaeda, a terrorist group with little consolidated territory of its own at the time, zero in Iraq– has brought us to the point where a worse group is controlling and governing a third of Iraq and a third of Syria next to that. The Iraq War never led to building a cohesive state in the shell of the one it completely and rapidly dismantled. Sectarian divisions in the government excluded a large Sunni population, and the U.S. gave weapons and money to preferred local Shi’a militias. Baghdad became violently segregated. The standard of living declined for many and rose for a few. Oil companies were not hurting very much, and people noticed it. The Pentagon could not or would not address the problem of Christian extremists embedding themselves with U.S. Army and Blackwater mercenaries. I haven’t yet gone into the torture at Abu Ghraib, the poisoning of Fallujah, the massacre in Nisoor Square. All of these factors were generators of unemployment, aimlessness and trauma among young people who were and continue to be vulnerable to manipulation by ambitious warlords.
Whether the U.S. sends ground forces, drones or conventional aircraft to target ISIS fighters, they will end up making the problem worse. Sending planes to bomb high-level leaders will have the effect of encouraging the most extreme behavior possible among militia fighters. The most extreme and brutal will be the most likely successor to fill a power vacuum.
For the most part, the U.S. ought to be authentically extracting itself from the sovereign country of Iraq.
If U.S. citizens working in Iraq need the protection of the U.S. military, that is a sign that these citizens should leave along with the military, or else stay at their own risk. This of course would not be in the short-term interest of U.S. companies, but it would be in the long-term interest of the Iraqi and U.S. populations: ISIS stands to lose significant power once its major unifying antagonist is no longer on the scene.
If there is a helpful role for the U.S. and other countries to play, it has to do with arresting the cycle of revenge. This can be accomplished by: encouraging Iraq’s government to form a more equitable power-sharing structure; ending all interference in Iraq’s elections; paying for the medical treatment of those maimed by U.S. bombs and munitions; engaging diplomatically with wealthy neighbors Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey to help Iraqis locally administer a system that will supply Iraqis with basic human needs– clean water, food, shelter, medicine; and providing meaningful help to Iraqi entrepreneurs who can create employment.
If such measures were promised and demonstrated on the frontier of ISIS control, their appeal may be strong enough to encourage potential defectors who might elude the more brutal ideologues in their camps and successfully escape with their lives. (If this is to happen, the defectors would also need to have confidence in a government de-militarization and re-entry system.) Multiplied enough times, such defections could disable ISIS, as well as other militias. Those who would call this set of ideas a pipe dream should ask themselves what they would call another campaign of bombing when alternatives haven’t yet been attempted.
The U.S. and the U.K. can start paying for these humanitarian measures with money they would have spent anyway: on the order of $110,000 for each Hellfire missile they plan to drop in Iraq.
ISIL replaces Russia as the top threat to the United States according to president
Tonight's viewing event featured ISIL, the latest excuse for increased military spending. The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is also called ISIS and IS. The name really doesn't matter. ISIL is code for angry Muslims who decapitate reporters. ISIL didn't quite pass public relations muster when it stood for angry Muslims who attack Iraqi towns and cities.
Early in the speech, the president said, "we have consistently taken the fight to terrorists who threaten our country." Therefore, we're taking "the fight" to ISIL, right? It's a little more complicated than that.
Remarks of President Barack Obama
Address to the Nation
September 10, 2014
As Prepared for Delivery
My fellow Americans – tonight, I want to speak to you about what the United States will do with our friends and allies to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL.
By Sherwood Ross
Approximately 3.3 million Iraqis, including 750,000 children, were “exterminated” by economic sanctions and/or illegal wars conducted by the U.S. and Great Britain between 1990 and 2012, an eminent international legal authority says.
The slaughter fits the classic definition of Genocide Convention Article II of, “Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part,” says Francis Boyle, professor of international law at the University of Illinois, Champaign, and who in 1991 filed a class-action complaint with the UN against President George H.W. Bush.
The U.S. and U.K. “obstinately insisted” that their sanctions remain in place until after the “illegal” Gulf War II aggression perpetrated by President George W. Bush and UK’s Tony Blair in March, 2003, “not with a view to easing the over decade-long suffering of the Iraqi people and children” but “to better facilitate the U.S./U.K. unsupervised looting and plundering of the Iraqi economy and oil fields in violation of the international laws of war as well as to the grave detriment of the Iraqi people,” Boyle said.
In an address last Nov. 22 to The International Conference on War-affected Children in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Boyle tallied the death toll on Iraq by U.S.-U.K. actions as follows:
# The slaughter of 200,000 Iraqis by President Bush in his illegal 1991 Gulf War I.
# The deaths of 1.4 million Iraqis as a result of the illegal 2003 war of aggression ordered by President Bush Jr. and Prime Minister Blair.
# The deaths of 1.7 million Iraqis “as a direct result” of the genocidal sanctions.
Boyle’s class-action complaint demanded an end to all economic sanctions against Iraq; criminal proceedings for genocide against President George H.W. Bush; monetary compensation to the children of Iraq and their families for deaths, physical and mental injury; and for shipping massive humanitarian relief supplies to that country.
The “grossly hypocritical” UN refused to terminate the sanctions, Boyle pointed out, even though its own Food and Agricultural Organization’s Report estimated that by 1995 the sanctions had killed 560,000 Iraqi children during the previous five years.
Boyle noted that then U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright was interviewed on CBS-TV on May 12, 1996, in response to a question by Leslie Stahl if the price of half a million dead children was worth it, and replied, “we (the U.S. government) think the price is worth it.”
Albright’s shocking response provides “proof positive of the genocidal intent by the U.S. government against Iraq” under the Genocide Convention, Boyle said, adding that the government of Iraq today could still bring legal action against the U.S. and the U.K. in the International Court of Justice. He said the U.S.-U.K. genocide also violated the municipal legal systems of all civilized nations in the world; the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child; and the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and its Additional Protocol 1 of 1977.
Boyle, who was stirred to take action pro bono by Mothers in Iraq after the economic sanctions had been imposed upon them by the Security Council in August, 1990, in response to pressure from the Bush Senior Administration. He is the author of numerous books on international affairs, including “Destroying World Order” (Clarity Press.)
(Sherwood Ross is a columnist, broadcast commentator and public relations consultant “for good causes.” He formerly reported for major dailies and wire services and is the author of “Gruening of Alaska”(Best). Reach him at email@example.com )
I know you mean well. I know you think you've found a bargain that nobody else noticed hidden in a back corner of the used car lot. Let me warn you: it's a clunker. Here, I'll list the defects. You can have your own mechanic check them out:
1. If you want to bomb a country every time an evil group murders people in a gruesome manner, you'll have to bomb a lot of countries including our own. ISIS draws its strength in Iraq from resentment of the Iraqi government, which bombs its own cities using U.S. weapons, and which beheads people, albeit in grainier footage with lower production values. Allies in the region, including allies that support ISIS, including allies armed by the United States (some of which arms end up in the hands of ISIS), themselves behead people regularly. But is that worse than other types of killing? When President Barack Obama blew up a 16 year old American boy whom nobody had ever accused of so much as jaywalking, and blew up six other kids who were too close to him at the time, do you imagine his head remained on his body?
As with most drone strikes, that boy could have been arrested and questioned. Had he been, though, gruesome death would have remained a possibility. In April, the United States injected a man with chemicals that made him writhe in excruciating pain for 43 minutes and die. Last week in the United States a man facing a similar fate on death row was proven innocent and freed. The prosecutor who had put him there 30 years earlier showed zero remorse. Now I'm not proposing that we bomb North Carolina because I'm angry at that prosecutor. I'm not even angry at that prosecutor. I am suggesting that there are evil killers all over the place, some wearing Western suits and ties, some wearing military uniforms. Bombs, which mostly kill innocent people who had nothing to do with it, won't help.
2. The bombs will mostly kill innocent people who had nothing to do with it, and will only make the crisis worse. Most people who die in wars are civilians by everyone's definition. People still use words like "battlefield" as if wars were waged in a field the way a football game is played. They couldn't play football on our streets and sidewalks because grandparents and baby strollers would end up tackled and crushed. Well, wars are waged on people's streets and sidewalks, even when one side is only present in the sky above in the form of unmanned robot death planes. The slow-moving die first: the very old and the very young. And when anyone dies, according to top U.S. officials, more enemies are created in greater numbers. Thus, the operation is counterproductive on its own terms, making us less safe rather than safer. This is why President Obama is always saying "There is no military solution" just before proposing to use the military to seek a solution. When he proposes bombing Iraq for three more years, that number has no basis in military calculation whatsoever. I challenge you to find a general who says otherwise. It is a number almost certainly based on the U.S. election schedule, aimed at convincing us to accept a war without question until a date after the next presidential election. When Obama says he's going to get a good government in place in Iraq this week and then make a speech, he's delusional or enjoying toying with your gullibility, but he's also pointing to the actual problem: a nation destroyed by 24 years of wars and sanctions and lacking a legitimate governing system.
3. Bombing is crazy, and bombing for three years is certifiable. Bombing strengthens ISIS. Three years is longer than most U.S. wars have taken from beginning to end. The U.S. Constitution, which did not foresee a permanent standing army, much less one permanently standing in most other nations on earth, did not permit -- and does not permit -- creating and funding one for a longer period than two years at a time (Article I. Section 8.). But of course nothing guarantees that the bombing will stop after three years and not go on for thirty more. And nothing guarantees that this war will involve only bombing. Already Obama has sent over 1,100 troops, and is promising to send some number less than 100,000. Read that twice please, slowly. Obama wants Congress to debate his war plans but not vote on them. Why not? Because Congress might be compelled by you and me to vote no, if not on this war then on the next one. Obama wants himself and all future presidents free to launch wars without Congress, exactly what he campaigned for office opposing.
"The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation." —Senator Barack Obama.
The U.S. "intelligence" agencies, by the way, deem ISIS no threat to the United States. Apart from trashing the Constitution and really the one thing its framers got right, President Obama is trashing the U.N. Charter and the Kellogg Briand Pact, laws that forbid war.
4. The fact that it's Obama doesn't make it OK. A majority of you supported attacking Afghanistan and within a couple of years a majority of you said Afghanistan should not have been attacked. Why not? Not because there weren't evil people in Afghanistan, but because bombing the country made everything worse, not better. You kept telling pollsters it was a bad idea for over another decade, but the war rolled on, and still rolls on. Iraq is a similar story, although you were even faster to change your mind. And the occupation ended when President Bush and Prime Minister Maliki signed an agreement for three more years of that war, and then the three years ran out. At that point, President Obama tried to win approval from the Iraqi government to keep U.S. troops in Iraq longer, but with immunity for any crimes they might commit. Failing at that, Obama withdrew the troops. Having won that concession now, he's sending them back in. Does the fact that it's Obama doing it, rather than Bush, make it OK? Remember the massive protests when Bush proposed a war on Iraq? Obama just put the band back together in Wales, and you're squealing with delight that he visited Stonehenge, or you're busy coloring in your "I'm Ready for Hillary" posters.
The nation of Iraq was utterly destroyed last time. The place is in total chaos: violence, hatred, poverty, illness, desperation, fanaticism. Dumping gasoline on that fire is worse now than before, not better. And now we have NATO toying with a nuclear confrontation with Russia, drone wars generating violence and terrorism in Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia, the U.S. Navy poking China in the eye with a stick, troops heading into a dozen new parts of Africa -- How is starting a war this time better than last time, which you came to view as a mistake by 2004, elected a Congress to end in 2006, thought you were voting against again in 2008, and cheered for the eventual ending of in 2011? Observers have called this the most dangerous moment since World War II. Please don't tell me you trust Obama, believed the fraudulent threat to Benghazi and are now unaware of the disaster he created in Libya, where France has just proposed yet another war to fix the damage of the last war. Please don't tell me you believed the disproven claims of evidence that Assad used chemical weapons or Russia shot down an airplane. This is a government that lies about possible grounds for war and possible outcomes of war, just like its predecessors.
5. The enemy of your enemy is your other weapons customer. Public pressure was instrumental last year in halting proposed attacks on Syria, the plans for which involved massive death and destruction. But the White House and CIA went right ahead and armed and trained one side in that war, the ISIS side. ISIS now has weapons provided directly to it and indirectly to it by the United States, including those seized from the Iraqi government. ISIS has troops trained by the United States and "radicalized" (enraged) by the United States in its brutal prisons in Iraq, as well as troops previously in the Iraqi military who were thrown out of work in 2003 by the U.S. occupation. Last year, the evil to be confronted was Assad, at all costs. To your great credit you didn't fall for it. Why not? Not because Assad doesn't do evil things, but because you understood that more war would make things even worse.
Now you're being told that Assad's enemies must be attacked at all cost, and you're falling for it, to your great discredit. With supposed surgical precision the "moderate" beheaders will be spared, in order to blow up only the "extremist" beheaders. Don't believe it. Six months ago the great Satan was Iran. Now you're on Iran's side. Were you aware of that? You're stirring up trouble to the ultimate benefit of only one group: the weapons makers. You think of the Middle East as a violent place, but 80% of the weapons come from the United States. Imagine how much less violent the Middle East could be if it only had 20% of the weapons. We're not talking about stockpiles. These weapons get used.
6. There are other options. Try telling a four-year-old he has only two choices: eat the broccoli or eat the lima beans. He'll throw another 18 alternatives at you in less than a minute, beginning with eating ice cream. Try telling a non-American adult about the current state of disaster in Iraq, and they'll begin by opposing making it worse, and then start discussing a variety of steps to make it better, from humanitarian aid to diplomacy to disarmament to emergency U.N. police forces, etc. But tell a U.S. adult that Iraq must be bombed or we must do nothing other than sit back and revel in our evil state of ISIS-loving, and your befuddled manipulated subject will shout "Bomb em! Bomb em!" Why?
Last year we were told that we had to bomb Syria or love the poisoning of children with chemical weapons. We did not accept that those were the only two choices. Why not? Because we were thinking straight. We hadn't been frightened into blind stupidity by high-quality videos of beheadings and threats that we might be next. Nobody thinks well when they're scared. That's why the government likes to scare you. That's why
your you're hearing all this nonsense about ISIS coming to your neighborhood. The more the U.S. keeps bombing people, the more some of those people will want to fight back. Did you ever wonder why nations that spend 2% what the U.S. does on its military feel so much safer than you do? Part of it is the reality that war generates enemies rather than removing them, but mostly it's a culture of cowardice that we're living in. Here are 15 things we could do about ISIS instead of bombing.
7. We don't have time for this barbaric insanity. War is sucking our resources and energy and attention away from where they are needed, namely on a massive campaign to protect the climate of the earth. Imagine a proposal to dump untold trillions of dollars and every ounce of energy into that project! Would Congress step aside and allow it? It would benefit even your short-term economic interests, but would you permit it? Would you demand it? Would you join with me in insisting that we stop the wars and save the climate?
UPDATE 2: Matt Hoh Says the Beheadings Are Bait
The U.S. is racing down a slippery slope towards war in Iraq and Syria. Since Aug. 8, the U.S. has conducted more than 124 airstrikes in Iraq. Approximately 1,000 U.S. troops are now on the ground in Iraq, with at least 350 more currently on their way.
President Obama initially said the bombing was part of a humanitarian mission to assist the Yazidi minority in northern Iraq being threatened by ISIS, the fundamentalist Islamic army that now controls wide swaths of Iraq and Syria. But Obama has now announced an open-ended bombing campaign, and he has ordered Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Secretary of State John Kerry into the region to build military and political coalitions to sustain a long term war against ISIS.
According to the New York Times, President Obama has also authorized U.S. surveillance flights over Syria, reportedly in search of ISIS targets for later bombing missions. The Syrian government has offered to coordinate with U.S. military action against ISIS, the strongest rebel force fighting to overthrow the Assad government in Syria. But the U.S., which has aided ISIS' growth by facilitating the arming and training of rebels in Syria, has not asked permission for its flights into Syrian airspace.
Veterans For Peace members have witnessed the brutality and the futility of war, including the war in Iraq. We were sent to a war based on lies and we became part of the killing of a nation, along with as many as one million of its people. We watched as U.S. policy makers consciously stirred up ethnic and religious divisions, creating the conditions for civil war today.
Veterans know from first hand experience that you cannot bomb your way to peace. More bombing will ultimately mean more division, bloodshed, recruitment for extremist organizations, and a continual cycle of violent intervention.
Last year the American people overwhelmingly sent a message to President Obama and the Congress: No U.S. Bombing in Syria. Last month, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed H. Con. Res. 105 stating that there is no legal authority for U.S. military involvement in Iraq without express Congressional approval. By unilaterally pursuing miltiary action in Iraq and Syria, President Obama is acting in contempt of the American people, as well as of U.S. and international law.
We support the troops who refuse to fight and who blow the whistle on war crimes. Under international law, military personnel have the right and the responsibility to refuse to be part of illegal wars and war crimes. U.S. troops are not the cops of the world. There is no legitimate mission for any U.S. service members in Iraq or Syria. We encourage GI's to find out their rights at the GI Rights Hotline.
Veterans For Peace absolutely opposes U.S. military intervention in the Middle East, no matter what the rationalization. We call on all our members to speak out against any U.S. attacks on Iraq and Syria.
We wish to see a U.S. foreign policy based on true humanitariasm and real diplomacy based on mutual respect, guided by internatianal law, and dedicated to human rights and equality for all.
We call attention to the excellent constructive proposals in a recent letter from 53 National Religious Groups, Academics, and Ministers Urging Alternatives to U.S. Military Action in Iraq.
We applaud the initiatives of several key peace groups and we encourage our members to participate.
Sign Code Pink's letter telling President Obama not to bomb Syria or Iraq.
Sign Peace Action's petition restricting U.S. arms sales around the world.
VETERANS FOR PEACE WORKS FOR PEACE AT HOME AND PEACE ABROAD!
By Dave Lindorff
Flash! The US has re-invaded Iraq!
To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle_at_gmail.com (replacing _at_ with @)
Dangerous arguments and actions came this week from both President Obama, who plans to increase airstrikes on Iraq & Syria and announced drone surveillance (as if that has not been happening for years), and from John McCain, leader of the “US has to get back in Iraq” cabal.“Limited” airstrikes by the world's most powerful military combined with U.S.
by Debra Sweet Dangerous arguments and actions came this week from both President Obama, who plans to increase airstrikes on Iraq & Syria and announced drone surveillance (as if that has not been happening for years), and from John McCain, leader of the “US has to get back in Iraq” cabal.“Limited” airstrikes by the world's most powerful military combined with U.S. more troops going into this extremely volatile region will not bring peace, stability, or safety.
53 National Religious Groups, Academics, and Ministers Urge Alternatives to U.S. Military Action in Iraq
August 27, 2014
Dear President Obama:
As religious communities, leaders, and academics, we write to express our deep concern over the
recent escalation of U.S. military action in Iraq. While the dire plight of Iraqi civilians should
compel the international community to respond in some way, U.S. military action is not the
answer. Lethal weapons and airstrikes will not remove the threat to a just peace in Iraq. As
difficult as it might be, in the face of this great challenge, we believe that the way to address the
crisis is through long-term investments in supporting inclusive governance and diplomacy,
nonviolent resistance, sustainable development, and community-level peace and reconciliation
Pope Francis has affirmed that “peacemaking is more courageous than warfare,” and more
recently said that “it is licit to stop the unjust aggressor. I underscore the verb ‘stop;’ I don’t say
bomb, make war---stop him.” But how we ask?
John Horgan asked me for a paragraph on what to do about ISIS. I sent him this:
1. Apologize for brutalizing the leader of ISIS in Abu Ghraib and to every other prisoner victimized under U.S. occupation
2. Apologize for destroying the nation of Iraq and to every family there
3. Begin making restitution by delivering aid (not "military aid" but actual aid, food, medicine) to the entire nation of Iraq
4. Apologize for role in war in Syria
5. Begin making restitution by delivering actual aid to Syria
6. Announce a commitment not to provide weapons to Iraq or Syria or Israel or Jordan or Egypt or Bahrain or any other nation anywhere on earth and to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from foreign territories and seas, including Afghanistan. (The U.S. Coast Guard in the Persian Gulf has clearly forgotten where the coast of the U.S. is!)
7. Announce a commitment to invest heavily in solar, wind, and other green energy and to provide the same to democratic representative governments.
8. Begin providing Iran with free wind and solar technologies -- at much lower cost of course than what it is costing the U.S. and Israel to threaten Iran over a nonexistent nuclear weapons program.
9. End economic sanctions.
10. Send diplomats to Baghdad and Damascus to negotiate aid and to encourage serious reforms.
11. Send journalists, aid workers, peaceworkers, human shields, and negotiators into crisis zones, understanding that this means risking lives, but fewer lives than further militarization risks.
12. Empower people with agricultural assistance, education, cameras, and internet access.
13. Launch a communications campaign in the United States to replace military recruitment campaigns, focused on building sympathy and desire to serve as critical aid workers, persuading doctors and engineers to volunteer their time to travel to and visit these areas of crisis.
14. Work through the United Nations on all of this.
15. Sign the United States on to the International Criminal Court and voluntarily propose the prosecution of top U.S. officials of this and the preceding regimes for their crimes.
Listen to Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network, with Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey – Week of 8/25/14
Obama and ISIS in Dance of Death
The growing U.S. bombing campaign against the self-proclaimed Islamic caliphate in Iraq and Syria serves no one but war profiteers, said veteran anti-war activist David Swanson. “I know that ISIS had to be aware that slitting throats on camera would result in more bombing, just as President Obama had to be aware that blowing men, women and children up with 500-pound bombs would result in slitting throats,” said Swanson, publisher of the influential web site WarIsACrime.Org. “The beneficiaries of escalation, which is entirely predictable, are the weapons makers.”
Black Strategies Must Include Self-Defense
“First and foremost, it is right for our people to rebel,” said Kali Akuno, an organizer with the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement and co-author of the groundbreaking report “Operation Ghetto Storm,” which documented extrajudicial killings of Black Americans under color of law. “I think it boiled over in Ferguson as a result of a transformation in our people’s consciousness, especially our young folks,” said Akuno. “They’ve had enough of the brutality, of being systematically excluded.” Black community self-defense must be part of any organizing strategy. “This has been part and parcel of what we know we have to do in the face of white supremacy and in the face of the brutality that the capitalist system has reserved for us, in particular.”
Black Passivity is Mentally Unhealthy
Political protest is therapeutic for Black Americans, said Dr. Vernellia Randall, professor emeritus of law at the University of Dayton and author Dying While Black. “I want us to be less passive, I want us to engage in civil disobedience” – and not the kind of protest-like activities sanctioned by the authorities. “If they’re telling us, Here’s how you can protest, then that, to me, is not civil disobedience,” said Randall. “If you are coloring within the lines that the establishment establishes, then you are putting no pressure on the establishment.”
Cuba Should Join in Fight for Slavery Reparations
The young United States was a horrible example of democracy, but it did lead the way in the business of human trafficking. “After the establishment of the United States, it quickly became the leader in the African slave trade to Cuba,” said Dr. Gerald Horne, professor of history and African American Studies at the University of Houston and author of Race to Revolution: The United States and Cuba During Slavery and Jim Crow. “They also became the leader of the African slave trade to Brazil, helping to account for the fact that Brazil has more people of African descent than any other nation outside Nigeria,” said Horne, who hopes to enlist Cuba in “our journey to claim reparations for the enslavement of Africans in the Americas.”
Click here to download the show.
Black Agenda Radio on the Progressive Radio Network is hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey. A new edition of the program airs every Monday at 11:00am ET on PRN. Length: One hour.
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.
Cheney’s Legacy: Honesty Still in Short Supply
By Ray McGovern
As the world marks the centennial of World War I, the guns of August are again being oiled by comfortable politicians and the fawning corporate media, both bereft of any sense of history. And that includes much more recent history, namely the deceitful campaign that ended up bringing destruction to Iraq and widened conflict throughout the Middle East. That campaign went into high gear 12 years ago today.
Matthew Hoh is a Senior Fellow at the Center for International Policy and is the former Director of the Afghanistan Study Group, a network of foreign and public policy experts and professionals advocating for a change in US strategy in Afghanistan. A former State Department official, Matthew resigned in protest from his post in Afghanistan over US strategic policy and goals in Afghanistan in September 2009. Prior to his assignment in Afghanistan, Matthew was in Iraq; first in 2004-5 in Salah ad Din Province with a State Department reconstruction and governance team and then in 2006-7 in Anbar Province as a Marine Corps company commander. When not deployed, Matthew worked on Afghanistan and Iraq policy and operations issues at the Pentagon and State Department from 2002-8. Matthew’s writings have appeared in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Defense News, the Guardian, the Huffington Post, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. The Council on Foreign Relations has cited Matthew’s resignation letter from his post in Afghanistan as an Essential Document. In 2010, Matthew was named the Ridenhour Prize Recipient for Truth Telling. Matthew is a member of the Board of Directors for Council for a Livable World and is an Advisory Board Member for Expose Facts (ExposeFacts.org). He writes on issues of war, peace and post-traumatic stress disorder recovery at MatthewHoh.com.
Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.
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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.
By Danny Schechter
New York, New York: Welcome back to Iraq -- complete with our ever present WMD's -- Weapons of Mass deception.
Suddenly, the country we never wanted to have to think about again is back in the news and on our military agenda. So, after a few denials that troops would not, never, and no way be sent, sure'nuff, U.S, boots are back on the ground, but to play a very different "mission."
Of course, it's not combat, assures Secretary of Defense Hagel who was wearing his tennis clothes when he met with GIs. That is, no doubt, why we are pounding that country with bombs again.
To signal that we are not back in the days of the war for Iraqi Freedom, the Pentagon announced its latest humanitarian effort with a tweet, that, in the media world we are now part of, maybe the equivalent of a whimper not a neocon bark.
Once again, we are the good guys charging in to protect and defend, save and rescue. You saw the alarmist stories.
This report was on RTE in Ireland: "Islamic State militants have killed hundreds of Iraq's minority Yazidis. They buried some alive and took women as slaves, as US warplanes again bombed the insurgents.
Human rights minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani accused the Sunni Muslim insurgents of celebrating what he called a "a vicious atrocity."
But, then, predictably, there was this coda that put the story in question: "No independent confirmation was available of an event that could increase pressure on Western powers to do more to help."
It sounded like the story a few weeks back that had ISIS vowing to impose female genital mutilation on every woman they met. Happily, it was later repudiated.
This is not to say that ISIS is not brutal says Edmund Ghareeb of the Center for Global Peace at American University.
"Where have people been? Certainly some of the recent reporting of the carnage by IS is sensationalized, but their brutality is all too real. But critically, it's been happening for years in both Iraq and in Syria, where is should have been confronted. In Syria, ancient Christian churches were destroyed, nuns and bishops were kidnapped and priests were killed. In Syria and Iraq, many belonging to different religions, sects and nationalities were killed or forced to flee at the hands of extremists and criminals. This was widely ignored in large part because many in the region and in the west were so focused on attacking the Assad government.
"As for U.S. intervention, the danger is that it may further hurt the Iraqi people and fragment Iraq altogether in the name of this humanitarian intervention."
Now, we have US troops flying into the mountain that we were told was packed to overflowing with 40,000 desperate refugees facing starvation.
What happened when their saviors finally arrived?
Here's USA Today:
"WASHINGTON — A review by U.S. special operations troops of conditions on Iraq's Mount Sinjar on Wednesday has determined that the conditions of a religious minority seeking refuge there are better than believed and may not require a U.S.-led evacuation, the Pentagon said…
"Based on this assessment the interagency has determined that an evacuation mission is far less likely. Additionally, we will continue to provide humanitarian assistance as needed and will protect U.S. personnel and facilities."
Comments Jason Ditz on anti-war.com: "The Pentagon is trying to manage the narrative by simply saying the rescue mission "appears unnecessary," but the fact that it was used to start a US war remains, and the State Department is doubling down, trying to spin the lack of a crisis as vindication of the war."
Of course, protecting Americans was the first reason cited for this intervention.
So noted the political scientist Michael Brenner, without first noting that the City of Erbil is a major center for U.S. Oil companies and their employees:
"The first thing to say is that we should not confuse purpose with justification. Thursday night, Obama explicitly stated that protection of Americans in Irbil (and implicitly Kurdistan) was the reason for acting against advancing IS forces.
This is not entirely convincing; evacuation could be a logical alternative. Obviously, there are other aims, inter alia in the immediate, securing access to the air and support facilities we have established at the airport that are crucial to any future operations -- including supplying the Peshmerga, e.g. keeping open your military options; to shore up Kurdish morale; to send a message to IS and its allies that any future campaigns in that direction that they contemplate would not be a cakewalk. The President said none of this due to his anxieties about making about making implicit commitments that he is not sure that he could meet."
What they are doing, says Brenner, is dipping into an old playbook "trying to lay the groundwork for revival of the Sawah Awakening movement among Sunni tribes that had suppressed al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia in 2006-2008." That effort was based on a vicious counter-insurgency campaign with plenty of pay-offs to our robed "allies."
Clearly, in the aftermath of the ISIS victories, this maneuver decisively failed.
No matter, for Obama, it was soon back to the golf course on Martha's Vineyard, the Kennedy and then Clinton vacation playground he has made his own. Maybe he feels like he can relax because the British and French are shipping in weapons to the US trained Peshmerga, whether they need them or not. After all, they, too, have to promote their "humanitarian" cred.
What's missing from the media narratives that focus on these forever changing daily incidents, is the deeper reality, that US intervention has not saved Iraq but destroyed it, with more than a million dead, unrepresentative and unaccountable governments and enough war crimes to keep international courts busy for decades.
To understand the depths of the destruction and Iraqi despair, you need the perspective of long time Iraq watchers like The Independent's Patrick Cockburn whose new book is titled, "The end of a country, and the start of a new dark age."
He writes, "Iraq has disintegrated. Little is exchanged between its three great communities – Shia, Sunni and Kurd – except gunfire. The outside world hopes that a more inclusive government will change this but it is probably too late.
The main victor in the new war in Iraq is the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) which wants to kill Shia rather than negotiate with them. Iraq is facing a civil war that could be as bloody as anything that we have seen in Syria and could go on for years."
Who is ultimately responsible for this? We can blame Saddam Hussein, but he's long gone, or Osama bin Laden who is swimming with the fishes.
More likely, as is most often the case, blame the victims for the crimes, but accepting responsibility is not something that Washington is ever willing or able to do. It seems like we would rather keep arming the "rebels" in Syria, the Israeli army or the Ferguson Mo. Police.
Perhaps that's why all we hear on TV news shows us a chorus for more killing, to save "civilization" from "those People, "the heathens, of course. Never mind that Iraq was the original home of civilization.
It is summer time and the living is easy. Besides, we have dead celebrities to mourn in these dog days of August.
News Dissector Danny Schechter made the film WMD about deceptive media in Iraq and wrote "When News Lies" about U.S. media war coverage. (Select Books, 2006.) He blogs at Newsdissector.net and edits the media issues site, Mediachannel.org. Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
“The United States is not the only country on Earth with an air force. While I support President Obama’s decision to use airstrikes to protect the lives of thousands of innocent people of the Yazidi minority, the U.S. should not have to act alone militarily in this crisis. ISIS is a danger to the entire region and to the world. The international community must work with the U.S.”
Isn't this a good war, Brad Friedman asks David Swanson.
Listen to this clip:
Starts around 7:30
UPDATE: Also here on Brad's site where he'd like you to comment:
By Robert C. Koehler
Our kills are clean and secular; theirs are messy and religious.
“In their effort to create a caliphate across parts of Iraq and Syria,” CNN tells us, “ISIS fighters have slaughtered civilians as they take over cities in both countries.
“In Syria, the group put some of its victims’ severed heads on poles.”
Stomach-churning as this is, the context in which it is reported – as simplistic maneuvering of public opinion – numbs me to its horror, because it quietly justifies a larger, deeper horror waiting in the wings. To borrow a phrase from Benjamin Netanyahu, this is telegenic brutality. It’s just what the U.S. war machine needs to justify the next all-out assault on Iraq.
“In another instance caught on camera,” the CNN report continues, “a man appears to be forced to his knees, surrounded by masked militants who identify themselves on video as ISIS members. They force the man at gunpoint to ‘convert’ to Islam, then behead him.”
This is positively medieval. In contrast, when we kill Iraqis, it’s quick and neat, as emotionless as a chess move. The same CNN story informs us: “Iraqi officials said U.S. airstrikes Saturday killed 16 ISIS fighters, and an Iraqi airstrike in Sinjar killed an additional 45 ISIS fighters, Iraq state media reported.”
That’s it. No big deal. The dead we’re responsible for have no human qualities whatsoever, and our killing them is as consequence-free as cleaning out the refrigerator. It’s simply necessary, because these guys are jihadists, and, well . . .
“The main U.S. strategic priority now should be rolling back and defeating ISIS so it can’t establish a terrorist caliphate,” the Wall StreetJournal editorialized several days ago. “Such a state will become a mecca for jihadists who will train and then disperse to kill around the world. They will attempt to strike Americans in ways that grab world attention, including the U.S. homeland. A strategy merely to contain ISIS does not reduce this threat.”
And here’s South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, saying the same thing with more hysteria on Fox News, as quoted by Paul Waldman in the Washington Post: Obama’s “responsibility as president is to defend this nation. If he does not go on the offensive against ISIS, ISIL, whatever you want to call these guys, they are coming here. This is not just about Baghdad. This is not just about Syria. It is about our homeland. . . .
“Do you really want to let America be attacked? . . . Mr. President, if you don’t adjust your strategy, these people are coming here.”
The belligerence that passes for patriotism has never been more reckless. I was stunned by these arguments a decade ago; the fact that they’re coming back pretty much intact, rising from their own ashes to call for a new war to quell the horrors created by the old one, pushes me to a new level of incredulous despair. Fear springs eternal and can always be summoned. War devours its own lessons.
As Ivan Eland wrote recently at Huffington Post: “In war, the most ruthless groups grab the weapons and use them on everyone else. If doubt exists about this phenomenon, when ISIS recently invaded Iraq, it disarmed the better-equipped Iraqi military and sent it on the run. In its current air campaign against forces of the now renamed IS, American airpower is fighting its own weaponry.”
He added: “With such a great recent track record, one would think that American politicians would be too embarrassed to get re-involved militarily in Iraq. But they now think they need to fight the monster that they created. But if IS is more ferocious than its ancestor, al Qaeda in Iraq, what more formidable creature are they now creating in opposition to U.S. bombing?”
Let’s let this sink in. We completely destabilized Iraq in our now officially forgotten “war on terror,” displacing millions of people, killing hundreds of thousands (and by some estimates more than a million), shattering the country’s infrastructure and polluting its environment with war’s endless array of toxins. In the process of doing all this, we stirred up unimaginable levels of animosity, which slowly militarized and became the present Islamic State, which is viciously and ruthlessly taking the country back. Now, with our ignorance about Iraq’s socio-political complexity intact, we see no alternative but to jump back into a bombing campaign against it, if not a far wider war.
President Obama and the moderate Democrats see this as a limited, “humanitarian” intervention, while the Republicans and the hawkish Dems are clamoring for a major killfest in order, once again, to protect “the homeland,” which otherwise they would prefer to abandon for tax purposes.
And the mainstream analysis remains as shallow as sports commentary. Military intervention, whether full-bore, boots-on-the-ground, or limited to bombs and missiles, is always the answer, because war always looks like a solution. What’s missing above all else is soul-searching of any sort.
Meanwhile, Iraq and its people continue to suffer, either directly at our hands or at the hands of the monsters we’ve created. As the arms dealers would say, mission accomplished.
Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound (Xenos Press), is still available. Contact him at email@example.com or visit his website at commonwonders.com.
© 2014 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, INC.
1. It's not a rescue mission. The U.S. personnel could be evacuated without the 500-pound bombs. The persecuted minorities could be supplied, moved, or their enemy dissuaded, or all three, without the 500-pound bombs or the hundreds of "advisors" (trained and armed to kill, and never instructed in how to give advice -- Have you ever tried taking urgent advice from 430 people?). The boy who cried rescue mission should not be allowed to get away with it after the documented deception in Libya where a fictional threat to civilians was used to launch an all-out aggressive attack that has left that nation in ruins. Not to mention the false claims about Syrian chemical weapons and the false claim that missiles were the only option left for Syria -- the latter claims being exposed when the former weren't believed, the missiles didn't launch, and less violent but perfectly obvious alternative courses of action were recognized. If the U.S. government were driven by a desire to rescue the innocent, why would it be arming Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain? The U.S. government destroyed the nation of Iraq between 2003 and 2011, with results including the near elimination of various minority groups. If preventing genocide were a dominant U.S. interest, it could have halted its participation in and aggravation of that war at any time, a war in which 97% of the dead were on one side, just as in Gaza this month -- the distinction between war and genocide being one of perspective, not proportions. Or, of course, the U.S. could have left well alone. Ever since President Carter declared that the U.S. would kill for Iraqi oil, each of his successors has believed that course of action justified, and each has made matters significantly worse.
2. It's going to make things worse, again. This bombing will aggravate the Sunni-Shia divide, increase support for ISIS, and create a lasting legacy of hostility and violence. President Obama says there is no military solution, only reconciliation. But bombs don't reconcile. They harden hearts and breed murderers. Numerous top U.S. officials admit that much of what the U.S. military does generates more enemies than it kills. When you continue down a path that is counterproductive on its own terms, the honesty of those terms has to be doubted. If this war is not for peace, is it perhaps -- like every other war we've seen the U.S. wage in the area -- for resources, profits, domination, and sadism? The leader of ISIS learned his hatred in a U.S. prison in Iraq. U.S. media report that fact as if it is just part of the standard portrait of a new Enemy #1, but the irony is not mere coincidence. Violence is created. It doesn't arise out of irrational and inscrutable foreignness. It is planted by those great gardeners in the sky: planes, drones, and helicopters. A bombing campaign justified as protecting people actually endangers them, and those around them, and many others, including those of us living in the imperial Homeland.
3. Bombs kill. Big bombs kill a lot of people. Massive bombing campaigns slaughter huge numbers of people, including those fighting in the hell the U.S. helped to create, and including those not fighting -- men, women, children, grandparents, infants. Defenders of the bombing know this, but ignore it, and make no effort to calculate whether more people are supposedly being saved than are being killed. This indifference exposes the humanitarian pretensions of the operation. If some humans are of no value to you, humanitarianism is not what's driving your decisions. The U.S. war on Iraq '03-'11 killed a half million to a million-and-a-half Iraqis and 4,000 Americans. A war that puts fewer Americans on the ground and uses more planes and drones is thought of as involving less death only if our concern is narrowly limited to U.S. deaths. From the vantage point of the ground, an air war is the deadliest form of war there is.
4. There are other options. The choice between bombing and doing nothing is as false now as it was in September. If you can drop food on some people, why can't you drop food on everyone? It would cost a tiny fraction of dropping bombs on them. It would confuse the hell out of them, too -- like Robin Williams' version of God high on pot and inventing the platypus. Of course, I now sound crazy because I'm talking about people who've been demonized (and personified in a killer straight out of a U.S. prison). It's not as if these are human beings with whom you can lament the death of Robin Williams. They're not like you and me. Etc. Yadda. Yadda. But in fact ISIS fighters were sharing their appreciation of Williams on Twitter on Tuesday. The United States could talk about other matters with ISIS as well, including a ceasefire, including a unilateral commitment to cease arming the Iraqi government even while trying to organize its ouster, including an offer to provide real humanitarian aid with no nasty strings attached, but with encouragement of civil liberties and democratic decision making. It's amazing how long minority ethnic groups in Iraq survived and thrived prior to the U.S. bringing democracy, and prior to the U.S. existing. The U.S. could do some good but must first do no harm.
5. There are now enough weapons already there to practically justify one of Colin Powell's slides retroactively. The U.S. accounts for 79% of foreign weapons transfers to Western Asia (the Middle East). The war on Libya had identical U.S. weapons on both sides. ISIS almost certainly has weapons supplied by the U.S. in Syria, and certainly has weapons taken from Iraq. So, what is the U.S. doing? It's rushing more weapons to Iraq as fast as possible. Americans like to think of the Middle East as backward and violent, but the tools of the violence trade are manufactured in the United States. Yes, the United States does still manufacture something, it's just not something that serves any useful purpose or about which most of us can manage to feel very proud. Weapons making also wastes money rather than creating it, because unaccountable profits are the single biggest product manufactured.
6. This is going to cost a fortune. Bombing Iraq is depicted as a measure of great restraint and forbearance. Meanwhile building schools and hospitals and green energy infrastructure in Iraq would be viewed as madness if anyone dared propose it. But the latter would cost a lot less money -- a consideration that is usually a top priority in U.S. politics whenever killing large numbers of people is not involved. The world spend $2 trillion and the U.S. $1 trillion (half the total) on war and war preparations every year. Three percent of U.S. military spending could end starvation on earth. The wonders that could be done with a fraction of military money are almost unimaginable and include actual defense against the actual danger of climate change.
7. Bombs are environmental disasters. If someone photographs a big oil fire, some will give a thought to the environmental damage. But a bombing campaign is, rather than an environmental accident, an intentional environmental catastrophe. The poisoned ground and water, and the disease epidemics, will reach the United States primarily through moral regret, depression, and suicide.
8. There go our civil liberties. Discussions of torture, imprisonment, assassination, surveillance, and denial of fair trials are severely damaged by wartime postures. After all, war is for "freedom," and who wouldn't be willing to surrender all of their freedoms for that?
9. War is illegal. It doesn't matter if the illegitimate government that you're trying to dump invited you to bomb its country. How can anyone take that seriously, while the U.S. installed that government and has armed it for years, as it has attacked its people? War is illegal under the Kellogg Briand Pact and the United Nations Charter, and pretending otherwise endangers the world. Domestically, under U.S. law, the president cannot launch a war. While the Senate has been silent, the U.S. House voted two weeks ago to ban any new presidential war on Iraq. Offering Congress a slap in the face, Obama waited for it to go on break, and then attacked Iraq.