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Focus: Turkey Military Intervention in Syria - Aug 29, 2016


Dozens of civilians killed in Syria as Turkey bombs Kurds - Independent.ie


Turkey warns of more strikes if Syrian Kurds don’t withdraw east of the Euphrates River 'immediately' - AP


Turkey says aims to prevent Kurdish militia corridor in Syria - almasdarnews.com


SDF forces won’t withdraw from western Euphrates: official - Kurdpress News Aganecy


Turkey-backed Syrian rebels gain control of 21 villages - Latin American Herald Tribune


ISIS launch offensive against SDF south of Manbij capturing al-Kadro and Tell Hawthan - Map of Syrian Civil war


ISIS targets YPG with suicide bomb near Manbij, Syria - almasdarnews.com


PHOTO: ISIS commander has joined Turkish backed Jihadis/FSA to attack on SDF in Jarablus - curdistani on Twitter


SDF retreated from all this locations: Red - EupheratesShield vs SDF, Black - ISIS vs SDF - Aleppo24 on Twitter

 

50 Turkish tanks in Syrian city of Jarablus: Head of Kurdish group - AhlulBayt News Agency


Turkish-backed 'Syrian Interim Government' moving to Jarabulus: Reports - southfront.org


Turkey-backed Syrian rebels aim for Manbij city, commander says - Reuters


Syrian Kurdish spokesman says Manbij reinforced, but not by YPG - Reuters


VIDEO: FSA abusing and beating YPG fighters, including child soldiers - Rudaw

 

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US urges halt to Turkish, Kurdish clashes in northern Syria - The New York Times


Turkish push complicates front against Islamic State: White House - Reuters


France, Germany warn Turkey against attacks on Syrian Kurds - NRT English


Turkish leader Erdogan vows to pursue Syria offensive, ignoring US rebuke - Sky News


No one has right to tell us who we can fight: Turkey’s minister for European Union affairs - Reuters


US should force PYD to step back in Syria: Turkey gov’t - hurriyetdailynews.com


Erdogan calls Putin as Russia seethes at Turkey’s Syrian incursion - The Vineyard of the Saker


Damascus armed PYD to prevent foreign incursion, claims Syrian MP - Rudaw


Turkish intervention in Syria may complicate Raqqa operation: US analysts - KurdishQuestion.com

 

To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

 

ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders

ABC Television's 20/20 will air a program on Friday called "The Girl Left Behind," the main thrust of which is already apparent on ABC's website.

The horribly tragic story is that of Kayla Mueller, an American held hostage and reportedly raped and tortured by ISIS before dying -- it's unclear how, possibly at the hands of ISIS, possibly killed by bombs dropped by U.S. ally Jordan.

Another hostage who was freed reported that ISIS blamed Kayla Mueller for U.S. actions in the Middle East. Among those actions, we learned this week, was imprisoning future ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi at Abu Ghraib, not just at Camp Bucca as previously reported.

Mueller, like fellow ISIS victim James Foley, meant well and was in Syria to try to help people nonviolently. But U.S. policy has made it unsafe for Americans to travel to many places.

ABC will seek to pin blame for what happened to Mueller on Doctors Without Borders. She was kidnapped out of a Doctors Without Borders car, and that organization negotiated the freedom of its employees while refusing to help Mueller or even to trust her family enough to share with them information intended for them from ISIS.

But Doctors Without Borders was in Syria to help people and appears to have meant well. Blaming the doctors is easy to overdo here, and not just because the United States has been bombing its hospitals -- acts that may not involve rape or torture, but do involve murder and maiming. The U.S. government could have helped Mueller by never having destroyed Iraq in the first place, never having sought to overthrow Syria, never having overthrown Libya, or never having flooded the region with weapons. Or the U.S. government could have negotiated with ISIS or allowed victims' families to do so -- something it now allows, too late for Kayla Mueller. Or the U.S. government could have announced new policies that ISIS would likely have accepted as ransom.

ISIS asked, in exchange for Mueller's freedom, for the freedom of Aafia Siddiqui or $5 million Euros. If the U.S. government had, instead, offered an apology to the victims of its wars and prison camps, and massive reparations to the region, ISIS might very well have responded in kind. Instead, the U.S. government proceeded to bomb people, including many civilians, for a cost many times greater than $5 million Euros.

The telling of Mueller's story is, in itself, worthwhile. But the focus on an American victim of a war that is victimizing all kinds of people fuels dangerous attitudes. Focusing on the crimes of ISIS, but not of Saudi Arabia or Bahrain or, for that matter, the United States, looks like propaganda for more war. When a New Yorker like Jeffrey Epstein rapes, nobody proposes to bomb New York, but when Baghdadi allegedly rapes, the appropriate response is widely understood to be bombing people.

I don't think the suffering of Kayla Mueller or James Foley should be used to justify the infliction of more suffering. As 9/11 victims have been used as a justification to kill hundreds of times the number of people killed on 9/11, some of the victims' relatives have pushed back. James Foley is pushing back from the grave. Posted online is a video of Foley talking about the lies that are needed to launch wars, including the manipulation of people into thinking of foreigners as less than human. Foley's killers may have thought of him as less than human. He may not have viewed them the same way.

The video shows Foley in Chicago helping the late Haskell Wexler with his film Four Days in Chicago -- a film about a protest of NATO. I was there in Chicago for the march and rally against NATO. And I met Wexler who tried unsuccessfully to find funding for a film version of my book War Is A Lie.

In the video you can watch Foley discussing the limitations of embedded reporting, the power of veteran resistance, veterans he met at Occupy, the absence of a good justification for the wars, the dehumanization needed before people can be killed, the shallowness of media coverage -- watch all of that and then try to imagine James Foley accepting the use of his killing as propaganda for more fighting.

When Foley's mother sought to ransom him, the U.S. government repeatedly threatened her with prosecution. So, instead of Foley's mother paying a relatively small amount and possibly saving her son, ISIS goes on getting its funding from oil sales and supporters in the Gulf and free weapons from, among elsewhere, the United States and its allies. And we're going to collectively spend millions, probably billions, and likely trillions of dollars furthering the cycle of violence that Foley risked his life to expose.

Focus: Turkey Military Intervention in Syria - Aug 24, 2016


Turkish forces cross into Syria to wrestle control of Jarablus from Islamic State and thereby prevent Kurdish forces from taking the city - DW.COM


With U.S. backing, Turkey pushes into Syria to hold the line against Kurds - FT.com


PM says Turkish operation in Syria to go on until YPG moves east of Euphrates - Reuters


Turkey will not accept new Kurdish entity in Syria: Prime Minister - Reuters


YPG: We will not withdraw from west of the Euphrates - Rudaw


Syrian Kurds accuse Turkey of 'blatant aggression' in Syria and and warn that Ankara is entering a 'quagmire' - Reuters


'Or we'll force them out': Kurdish PYD demands Turkey's withdrawal from Syria - Sputnik


Jarablus Military Council is claiming that Turkey is "deliberately" targeting Kurdish neighbourhoods in Jarablus - liveuamap.com


Clashes between Turkey-FSA and SDF Manbij Military Council in the south of Jarablus - KurdishQuestion.com


Kurds accuse Turkish intelligence of assassinating military leader in Syria's Jarabulus, say two MIT agents captured and interrogated - ARA News


Turkey-FSA take Jarablus from IS without fight - KurdishQuestion.com


Surprise! Washington Post: "rebels had reached the center of Jarabulus after encountering almost no resistance from IS fighters” - Peto Lucem on Twitter


Int community, Peshmerga &Iraqi army near Mosul should ask Turkish army/FSA 2hand over manual "how-to-defeat-IS-in-hours-without-casualties" - Harald Doornbos on Twitter

 

IS members online say the quick loss of Jarablus was because IS had pulled out its fighters from the city a week ago & regrouped elsewhere - Hassan Hassan on Twitter

 

Jihadists left Azaz and Aleppo province to assist Turkish Army in capture of Jarabulus - Joshua Landis on Twitter


Zenki brigades, which have been so active in Aleppo, spearhead push with Turks to take Jarablus - Joshua Landis on Twitter 


ARCHIVE: Zenki Brigades, Syria Islamist group accused of war crimes - Wikipedia


Ahrar al-Sham is also involved (confirmed by source) in the Jarablus offensive, though more quietly than other FSA/vetted groups - Charles Lister on Twitter


Key Syria [rebel] units involved [in Jarablus]: Faylaq al-Sham Jabhat al-Shamiya Nour al-Din al-Zinki Sultan Murad 13th Division Suqor al-Jebel (1/2) - Charles Lister on Twitter

 

Key Syria [rebel] units involved [in Jarablus]: Jaish al-Tahrir Hamza Division Jaish al-Nasr Mutassim Brigade Ahrar Tel Rifaat Liwa al-Fateh (2/2) - Charles Lister on Twitter

 

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U.S. backs Turkey call for Kurds to retreat East of Euphrates, says aid for the YPG would be stopped if it doesn’t comply - Bloomberg Politics


Turkish op in Syria indicate progress in closing border to Daesh: White House - Sputnik


Russia says 'deeply concerned' at Turkish operation in Syria, warning of rising tension over Ankara's targeting of Kurdish militia fighters - AFP

 

‘Blatant violation of sovereignty’: Damascus condemns Turkish operation in Jarablus - RT News


Syrian opposition group welcomes Turkish military operation near Jarablus - Sputnik


To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)


A Lawless Plan for More Carnage and Wider War in Syria

 

 


A Lawless Plan to Widen War in Syria

 

 

 

Editor's Note: Official Washington’s disdain for international law – when its doing the lawbreaking – was underscored by ex-CIA acting director Morell reiterating plans for murdering Iranians and Syrians in Syria, ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern says.

By Ray McGovern

On Aug. 17, TV interviewer Charlie Rose gave former acting CIA Director Michael Morell a “mulligan” for an earlier wayward drive on Aug. 8 that sliced deep into the rough and even stirred up some nonviolent animals by advocating the murder of Russians and Iranians. But, alas, Morell duffed the second drive, too.

Which Side Are You On?

Last week 'In These Times' published an article hostile to the stances taken by the US Peace Council Delegation to Syria and to a number of other well known antiwar and anti-imperialist activists and some of the best and most independent reporters of our time.   The US Peace Council is sharing the following response.
 
 
Pentagon and State Department, or the People of Syria?
The U.S. Peace Movement Has to Decide Which Side It Is On — And Soon
 
An “Anti-Regime-Change” Position on Syria is NOT the same as a “Pro-Assad” Position!
That is for the Syrian People to Decide Free of Foreign Intervention!
 
U.S. Peace Council
August 18, 2016
 
“All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state....”
— Article 2 of the United Nations Charter
 
“Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations....”
    Article 52 of the United Nations Charter
 
And one does not need to be only an “anti-imperialist” to stand for the principles of the United Nations Charter.
*  *  *
 
It is a sad irony that a significant segment of the U.S. peace and anti-war movement has now fallen prey to the distortions and misrepresentations promoted by the U.S. State Department, blindly repeating, and even insisting on, the distortions and falsehoods fed to the public by the war-mongers and their corporate media.
 
A vivid example of this fact was the vicious attacks that started soon after the return the U.S. Peace Council’s fact-finding delegation to Syria on July 30th. Immediately after the delegation’s Press Conference at the United Nations on August 9th, an article subtitled “Syria Serves up the Kool-Aid for Sympathizers,” appeared on the so-called “Talk Media News” web site, which, instead of dealing with the substantive issues raised by the delegation members, blasted a barrage of baseless accusations and slanders against not just the delegation members but the U.S. Peace Council itself, calling it, in a McCarthyite style, a “formerly Soviet-backed council,” in the hope that reviving Cold-War fears in the minds of possible listeners would keep them from hearing the hard facts provided by our delegation.
 
But being the target of such attacks by “news” outfits like “Talk Media News” is one thing, hearing similar accusations from our friends in the peace movement, like the writers and contributors to In These Times, is quite another.
 
The August 15th issue of In These Times contained an article titled “U.S. Peace Activists Should Start Listening to Progressive Syrian Voices,” by Terry Burke, described in the footnote as “a long-time peace activist.” It was our hope that her “long-time” activism and experience would have brought her to see the true nature of what is going on not only in Syria, but in all other countries that have been, and still are being, victimized by the United States’ wars of aggression. It was very disappointing to see the opposite.
 
Implicitly claiming that she knows Syria much better than the rest of the peace movement, Terry Burke starts by saying that “many peace activists know little about Syria’s peaceful uprising,” and as a result, “major organizations in the peace movement,” are now supporting “a dictator accused of monstrous war crimes.” She then goes on to lump together a whole number of diverse organizations with different views and political orientations in her newly invented “pro-dictator” camp. What is the evidence? In her own words: “The March 13 ... UNAC anti-war protest” (clearly not “pro-Assad protest”) in which many “left-wing” organizations, including the “pro-Assad Syrian-American Forum,” participated. And what is the charge? Some “people” were “carrying the flag of brutal Assad regime” and “some even wearing T-shirts with Assad’s image....”!
 
First, it is ironic that people like Terry Burke, who are claiming to be “fighting for democracy” in Syria, have no stomach for it in the United States. Do some Syrians (who are by the way the majority) have the right to support their government and have their President’s image on their T-shirts? Or, from her point of view, they should not exist at all? Isn’t that what ISIS is trying to do?
 
Second, is the falsification (or lack of knowledge) of the facts despite the author’s claim to knowing Syria better than others in the peace movement: Ms. Burke, Syrian flag is not “the flag of brutal Assad regime.” This flag was adopted as the flag of Syria when Syria became a part of United Arab Republics in 1958, 13 years before Hafiz Al-Assad first became the President of Syria. It does not stand for the “brutal Assad regime,” but officially represents “Syria’s commitment to Arab unity”! Why are you trampling on Syria’s national honor just to score an invalid point?
 
Third, and more important, is the lumping together of all organizations that participated in the March 13 anti-war protest and using “guilt by association” as a means of accusing “major peace organizations” of the “crime” of being “pro-Assad.” In doing so, Terry Burke is shifting the debate from one about whether people are for or against the war of aggression on Syria to one about whether they are pro- or anti-Assad. And this is exactly what the State Department and the corporate media are trying to do: “you are either with us or with Assad.” And within the peace movement: “You are not a genuine peace organization if you don’t join the anti-Assad camp”!
 
But this pro- or anti-Assad dualism is a false one that only serves the State Department and its war and regime change policy. It is meant to split, confuse and disarm the peace movement: if you oppose the regime change policy, you must be pro-Assad, and that’s it! And it seems it has been a successful strategy so far in both confusing and splitting the peace movement. With this dualism at work, the only choice left for the peace movement is to either join the State Department or the Assad government—nothing else.
 
It is in the context of this false dualism that Terry Burke talks about the “progressive Syrian voices” and sets them up against those in the peace movement she mockingly calls “anti-imperialists.” However, she herself falls victim of the same dualism she has created and inevitably ends up on the side of the State Department. Let’s take a look:
 
First, throughout the whole article, all you constantly read about is the “crimes” of the “Assad regime” and not a single word about the savage crimes of mercenaries and terrorists like ISIS, or about the innocent civilians that have been killed by US bombs and Saudi weapons. This is only a natural outcome of her argument: with regard to Syria, you can only be on one side or the other. And for her, the safe side is the side of the State Department. Thus the absolute silence on crimes that the US government and its allies are committing in Syria.
 
Another fact that reveals her true position is the terminology she uses and the “progressive Syrian opposition” she identifies with. First, she (probably inadvertently) refers to the ISIS-occupied territory of Syria as “liberated areas”! Interesting. Now ISIS has become a “liberating” force for Syrians. Then she goes on to talk about the “remarkable ongoing successes and organizing efforts of grassroots groups” in these “liberated areas.” Well, the scenario becomes complete: ISIS has “liberated” parts of the Syrian territory and has empowered the “progressive Syrians” to “organize” in these “liberated areas.” Didn’t George Bush claim that he “liberated” women of Afghanistan and the freedom-loving people Iraq? Didn’t Obama “liberate” the Libyan people from the “criminal dictator” Qaddafi? Are we looking for the same kind of “liberation” in Syria with the help of ISIS and the “progressive Syrians” it is harboring in the “liberated areas”? Could these “progressive Syrians” survive the wrath of ISIS if they demanded anything other than the toppling of Assad government? Have we not witnessed the beheadings that are going on in those “liberated areas”? Only “barrel bombs” are killing the Syrian people?
 
Anticipating objections from the peace movement that the same fate is awaiting all of the Syrian people, she simply claims that the case of Syria is different: “The analysis that the United States was promoting regime change was correct in Iran (1953), Guatemala (1954), Cuba (1960-2015), Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003). But Syria is not Iraq. It is not Afghanistan. Syria is Syria. It has its own unique history and culture—and its own Arab Spring of a genuine popular uprising against nearly five decades of the brutal Assad family dictatorship. This revolution is real, and beyond U.S. control.”
 
Indeed, a “real revolution” with the help of U.S. arms, Saudi and Qatari funds, Turkish logistical support and Israeli intelligence is under way. But it is certainly not the Syrian people’s revolution. In fact, such revolutions were planned by the Bush Administration for 7 countries including Iraq, Libya, Syria and Iran, as testified by Gen. Wesley Clark, former supreme commander of NATO. And one by one they are being implemented.
 
We certainly oppose this kind of “revolution” and “liberation.” For us, the choice is much more than what Terry Burke has put before us. The Syrian situation is more complicated than that. We are dealing with two levels of reality that should not be collapsed into one. One level is the war imposed by the U.S. Government and its allies against the independent state of Syria. In this war, we are on the side of the Syrian Government and the U.N. Charter. The second level is the relationship between the Syrian Government and the Syrian people. On this level, we are always on the side of the Syrian people. The Syrian people have the right to change their government if they want to. But it is solely their decision. And the only way they can express their will is when they are free of any foreign intervention.
 
Terry Burke goes so far as accusing all independent journalists and others in the peace movement — all those whom she repeatedly mocks as “anti-imperialists” — as racists who are  behaving like imperialists,” by not listening to the “progressive Syrian voices” and “imposing their point of view on poorer countries voices.” But she is putting herself in the same “imperialist” boat by taking an anti-Assad position as an American — no American has any right to decide Syria’s future — and ignoring the voice of the majority of Syrian people. The true progressive opposition forces are inside Syria, not in the ISIS-“liberated areas,” and our delegation has met with many of them. They have many disagreements with the Assad government, but strongly believe that they should join with their government against foreign attack and invasion, like any patriot would. The “progressive Syrian voices” that Terry Burke is identifying with do not have the monopoly on truth. She would be well served if she listened to the other opposition forces within Syria as well.
 
It is one thing for the Syrian people to oppose their government if they choose to. It is another thing for the foreigners to take the position of “Assad must go!” The latter is a clear imperialist demand that violates the international law. Our support in this case, as in any other case, is for the international law, the U.N. Charter, and the people’s right to self-determination — and not for or against any particular government or leader.
 
We hope that this has become clear once and for all.
 
----------------------
 
U.S. Peace Council
P.O. Box 3105
New Haven, CT 06515-0205, USA

www.uspeacecouncil.org

How to Get Yourself Named "Pro-Assad"

It's not hard to do. You can probably accomplish it at home quite easily. In These Times just published an article, for example, that calls Veterans For Peace, United National Antiwar Coalition, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, Seymour Hersh, Gareth Porter, Kathy Kelly, Counterpunch, Consortiumnews, Antiwar.com, and many more, including me supporters of Bashar al Assad.

How did I win this honor? I spent years denouncing war making by all parties in Syria. I wrote article and books questioning the hypocrisy that held Assad to have been a good torturer when he was working for the United States but a bad torturer now. I severely criticized my fellow peace activists when some of them cheered for Russian bombings in Syria. I even went after Russia for its warmaking in Syria repeatedly on Russian television. I wrote not one article or blog post and gave not one speech defending Assad's atrocities in any way, shape, or form. That record ought to have been enough, I suppose, to get me accused of supporting Assad and Putin. No good deed goes unpunished and all that.

But I also made the truly fateful mistake of trying to accommodate the "You're an Assad lover" crowd. Someone named Andy Berman sent me nasty messages with that false accusation. I proposed that he write down exactly what he thought I had been so nefariously censoring. He did. And I published it with my own response afterwards but with not a word or a comma edited. Here was an attempt at civil discourse over an issue that has divided peace activists, and what did it get me?

Andy Berman's wife, Terry Burke, is listed as the author of the attack piece for In These Times accusing me of all the same tired old lies. She didn't contact me. No editor, if In These Times has those, contacted me. There's no quote or paraphrase of anything I supposedly said. Instead, there's a denunciation of having been a speaker at a rally. But, as I would have pointed out if asked, I wasn't at the rally at all or within 500 miles of it. It was, however, a rally that I had helped promote before it happened. Burke might have looked at those promotions, rather than at what someone showed up at the rally waving, in order to figure out what I was for or against.

Clearly that would have been too much to ask. Others became Assad lovers on even less basis. Some were denounced for having gone to Syria and met with Assad. I interviewed someone who went on that trip and asked her whether they had confronted Assad with his crimes. You can listen to the response on my website. Clearly Burke didn't bother to even contact the people she libeled. But most of those condemned as Assadites by In These Times are so condemned on no stated basis whatsoever.

Now this is getting very tiresome after all of these years of it, and a couple of dangers loom ahead for activists who can't seem to graduate from preschool mentalities. The fact is, of course, as many of us are sick to death of having to explain, that denouncing the war making by all parties in Syria does not put you in the camp of cheering for whichever party somebody else has chosen as the Bad Guy.

If the United States and Russia escalate a joint bombing campaign in Syria, things will go from very bad to even worse for those not killed in the process. Will those who have thus far believed that bombing by only one of those parties or the other is evil come to grips with the evil in bombing conducted by the pair of them?

And if Hillary Clinton launches a greatly escalated effort to overthrow the Syrian government by bombing campaign, will those who oppose that criminal catastrophe have to listen to more chants of "Assad lover!" "Assad lover!" Does criticizing Hillary Clinton about anything win one the accusation of "privilege" anyway? As if living in one of the countries she doesn't want to bomb isn't a huge privilege for all of us!

This was my response to Berman's article:

Thank you to Andy Berman for giving me and Code Pink a bit of credit in this article. I think more credit is do more groups and individuals. In particular, I think the public pressure in the U.S., UK, and elsewhere that stopped a massive U.S. bombing campaign of Syria in 2013 deserves a great deal of credit and far from being an example of a peace movement that has completely failed constitutes the most noteworthy success for peace of recent years. Of course it was incomplete. Of course the U.S. went ahead with arming and training and bombing on a much smaller scale. Of course Russia joined in, killing even more Syrians with its bombs than the United States was doing, and it was indeed deeply disturbing to see U.S. peace activists cheer for that. Of course the Syrian government went on with its bombings and other crimes, and of course it’s disturbing that some refuse to criticize those horrors, just as it’s disturbing that others refuse to criticize the U.S. or Russian horrors or both, or refuse to criticize Saudi Arabia or Turkey or Iran or Israel.

All of this selectivity in moral outrage breeds suspicion and cynicism, so that when I criticize U.S. bombing I’m immediately accused of cheering for Syrian bombing. And when I read an article like this one that makes no mention of the 2013 bombing plan, no mention of Hillary Clinton’s desired “no fly zone,” no mention of her position that failure to massively bomb in 2013 was a mistake, etc., I have to struggle not to wonder why. Then when it comes to what we ought to do about this war, I’d love to have seen some acknowledgment that the party that has repeatedly blocked exactly what is proposed in point #5 (a negotiated settlement) has been the United States, including rejecting a Russian proposal in 2012 that included Assad stepping down — rejected because the U.S. preferred a violent overthrow and believed it was imminent.

I would also like to have seen greater recognition that people usually have the most influence over their own governments, as opposed to over the governments of others. I think one also has to have a view of U.S. imperialism to explain U.S. actions in Syria, including its failure to condemn Russian cluster bombs and incendiary bombs while U.S. cluster bombs are falling in Yemen, and while Fallujah is newly under siege. One has to have an understanding of Iraq and Libya to know where ISIS and its weapons and much of the weaponry of other fighters in Syria come from, as well as to understand the conflicted U.S. policy that can’t choose between attacking the Syrian government or its enemies and that has resulted in CIA and DOD trained troops fighting each other. I also think a negotiated settlement has to include an arms embargo and that the greatest resistance to that comes from the greatest arms dealer. But I think the broader point here, that we should oppose and be aware of and work to end war, regardless of who is doing it, is the right one. And I think part of making that work will be both including a comprehensive list of criticisms of all parties in any mention we make of a conflict, and giving each other the benefit of the doubt rather than making accusing each other our top priority.

Coleen Rowley added this comment to my response:

"A good place for Berman to look to regain some of his own dignity would be to stop pushing for U.S. “regime change” in Syria and elsewhere. When he parroted the official pre-condition for any peace negotiations that “Assad must go,” and when he constantly promoted speakers and writers, even neocon groups, engaged in the bloody effort to topple the Syrian government, they essentially doomed Syria to continuing and worsening war and the destabilizing vacuum that allowed ISIS to grow. From the start, Berman sided with speakers who advised not to worry about the al Qaeda presence among the “rebels” but to focus only on toppling the Syrian government. In any event, here is an article that Margaret Safrajoy and I co-wrote in December 2014 when this sick hypocrisy had become so painfully clear: https://consortiumnews.com/2014/12/25/selling-peace-groups-on-us-led-wars/

"Another sign of Berman’s constant pushing for more US military intervention on the side of the “rebels” (which includes jihadists aligned with Al Qaeda) can be seen in his social media posts encouraging people to contact members of Congress to support HR 5732, the “Caesar Syrian Civilian Protection Act.” The bill would be great if it actually would serve to protect civilians but in actuality, it increases sanctions against Syria and requires the U.S. President to present proposals regarding the establishment of safe zones and a no-fly zone as U.S. policy options in Syria. (“No fly zone” being a code used by “humanitarian war hawks” for bombing a country to smithereens if you recall what happened to Libya.)

"(Naturally) MN Rep Ellison who supported the previously announced plan to bomb Syria in 2013 (and I think even supported the earlier US-NATO bombing of Libya) is one of 17 co-sponsors of H.R 5237, which bill was introduced by Israel’s best friend, Eliot Engel, with uber-hawk Ros-Lehtinen another co-sponsor."

Talk Nation Radio: Judy Bello on Syria, Gar Alperovitz on Ending War

  https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-judy-bello-on-syria-gar-alperovitz-on-ending-war

Judy Bello (pictured) is on the Administrative Committee of the United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC) and is a founding member of the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars.   In the previous decade she has traveled with Peace Delegations to Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Syria. She has just returned from a fact finding mission in Syria with a delegation from the U.S. Peace Council.

Gar Alperovitz has had a distinguished career as a historian, political economist, activist, writer, and government official. He's been a Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland, and is a former Fellow of Kings College, Cambridge University and Harvard’s Institute of Politics. He is the author of critically acclaimed books on the atomic bomb and atomic diplomacy. Alperovitz has served as a legislative director in both houses of Congress and as a special assistant in the State Department. He is also the president of the National Center for Economic and Security Alternatives and is a co-founder of the Democracy Collaborative and co-chair of the Next System Project. And he will be speaking at No War 2016, a conference we are organizing in September in Washington DC through World Beyond War. See worldbeyondwar.org.

Total run time: 29:00

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Producer: David Swanson.
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Mike Morell: Travels With Charlie (Rose)

 

 


Mike Morell’s Kill-Russians Advice

 

 

 

Editor's Note: Washington’s foreign policy hot shots are flexing their rhetorical, warmongering muscles to impress Hillary Clinton, including ex-CIA acting director Morell who calls for killing Russians and Iranians.

By Ray McGovern

Perhaps former CIA acting director Michael Morell’s shamefully provocative rhetoric toward Russia and Iran will prove too unhinged even for Hillary Clinton. It appears equally likely that it will succeed in earning him a senior job in a possible Clinton administration, so it behooves us to have a closer look at Morell’s record.

Focus: Aleppo - Aug 8, 2016


Government forces and rebel factions send hundreds of reinforcements to Aleppo as both sides brace for a crucial battle - AFP


SouthFront: Syrian Army deploys 100 tanks, 400 BMP's to Aleppo - almasdarnews.com


Rebels face onslaught by regime forces after breaking siege of Aleppo, intense air strikes continue unabated - Irish Times


Aleppo: Narrow corridor bombed heavily by Russian jets, blocking rebels from opening a path to go through and bring supplies - Farsnews


VIDEO: Russian airstrikes on rebel positions in southern Aleppo - YouTube


VIDEO: Syrian Army’s warplanes conduct a series of sorties targeting jihadi fighters inside the Artillery School in south Aleppo - LiveLeak.com


Syrian Arab Air Force destroys a rebel convoy heading from Idlib province to southwestern Aleppo - southfront.org


Media: dismissed the commander of the Syrian troops in Aleppo - News Israel today


Syrian government delivers supplies to Aleppo via alternative route: monitors - Reuters


Syrian Army makes advances in Latakia, Jaish Al-Fateh jihadist conglomeration on southwest Aleppo has weakened the rebel defense lines on other fronts (VIDEO, MAP) - almasdarnews.com


Iraqi, Lebanese militias deploy to Syria's Aleppo to shore up Syrian President Assad's forces - The New York Times


Eight Hezbollah fighters killed in Syria's Aleppo - THE DAILY STAR


Iran says ready to assist Russian humanitarian operation in Syria's Aleppo - Sputnik

 

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Russia, US tensions grow over Aleppo - news.com.au


UN envoy Samantha Power says no swift victory in Aleppo, despite overwhelming force of Assad, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah - Daily Mail


Foreign help behind rebel advances in Aleppo, opposition replenished with new weapons and cash across Turkey’s border - FT.com


Aleppo offensive is being heavily backed by Turkey whose role seemingly minimally affected by failed coup - Charles Lister on Twitter


Russia (in Aleppo) believes (I quote) "Jihadists received MANPADs with the knowledge of the USA, through countries of the region” - Elijah J. Magnier on Twitter


Iranian source: US warships in Mediterranean sending intelligence to terrorists in Aleppo - Farsnews


Heroes? Jihadists with Al Qaeda links break Assad siege of Aleppo, seize the initiative in northern Syria - The Daily Beast


English translation of the Army of Conquest's (Jaysh al-Fateh's) announcement on plans to take control of the whole of Aleppo City - syria.liveuamap.com


Hard 2 believe Jaish alFateh [Army of Conquest] wont commit crimes when operation named after officer who killed Alawis based on sect - Jenan Moussa on Twitter


VIDEO (Arabic): New statement by Jabhat Fatah al-Sham [former Nusra] declaring intent to separate Sunnis fr Nusairis (Alawis) & kill them - YouTube


VIDEO: US-backed rebels who beheaded a Palestinian child show up in Aleppo battlefield - YouTube


There are no good terrorists in Syria, Iraq: Russia’s Putin - en.alalam


Russia: US-backed Syrian rebels used poison gas on civilians - Veterans Today


Obama questions Russian commitment to peace in Syria - armytimes.com


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Top 10 Reasons Why It's Just Fine for U.S. to Blow Up Children

Is it really necessary for me to explain to you why it's acceptable, necessary, and admirable for the United States and its minor allies to be blowing up houses, families, men, women, and children in Syria?

This latest story of blowing up 85 civilians in their homes has some people confused and concerned. Let me help you out.

1. Somebody mistook them for ISIS fighters, determined that each of them was a continuing and imminent threat to the United States, verified a near zero possibility of any civilians being hurt in the process, and determined that some more bombing was just the way to advance a cease-fire in Syria. So this was not only an accident, but a series of unfortunate events, mistakes, and miscalculations of such proportions that they're unlikely ever to all align again for at least a few days to come.

2. This isn't actually news. That the United States is blowing up civilians by the hundreds in Syria has been endlessly reported and is really of no news value, which is why you don't hear anybody at presidential conventions or on TV talking about it, and why you shouldn't talk aboiut it either if you know what's good for you.

3. Quite a lot of families actually got away without being blown up and are now refugees, which is truly the ideal thing to be in Syria, which is the most totally prepared place for more refugees in the history of the earth, or would be if liberal internationalist do-gooders would provide some aid and stop whining about all the bombs falling.

4. Who gets labeled a "civilian" is pretty arbitrary. The United States has killed thousands of people who clearly were not civilians, and who likely had no loved ones or anyone who would become enraged by their deaths. So why lump particular groups of families into the category of "civilian," and why just assume that every 3-year-old is a civilian, and then turn around and complain with a straight face when the government labels every 18-year-old male a combatant?

5. Houses do not actually have feelings. Why be so bothered that people are blown up in their houses? I'll let you in on a little secret: The word "battlefield" hasn't meant anything that looks like a field for decades. They don't even have fields in some of these countries that don't know any better than to get themselves bombed over and over again. These wars are always in houses. Do you want the houses bombed or do you want the doors kicked in? Because when the Marines start kicking in doors and hauling people off to torture camps you whine about that too.

6. People who live in an ISIS territory are responsible for ISIS. Even those who didn't vote in the most recent ISIS election have a responsibility to get themselves burned alive, and if not then they are responsible for the evil of ISIS and ought to be burned alive by Raytheon missiles which at least make somebody some money in the process for godsake. And if ISIS won't let people flee its territory, but won't burn them alive, then it's time for the international community to step in with efficient burning-alive systems that meet international standards.

7. Donald Trump has sworn he would start killing families. If the U.S. government does not continue its centuries-old practice of killing families, Trump might gain support and endanger us all by creating the new policy of killing families.

8. When airplanes take off from Turkey to commit mass murder in Syria, it helps to bring Turkey back into the community of the rule of law and international respect for human rights, following the recent coup attempt. Keeping U.S. nuclear weapons in Turkey serves a similar purpose.

9. Sometimes when you blow people up in their houses, their heads can remain on their bodies. When U.S.-armed moderates behead children, they're doing it for the goal of moderating the moderation of moderate allies and allied moderates. But when the United States kills directly, it is important that there be a chance of some heads remaining on bodies.

10. Unlike every other country on earth, the United States is not a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, so, in the words of the great Thomas Friedman, suck on this.

Focus: Syria News - July 19, 2016


Syrian troops besiege rebel-held parts of Aleppo, a decisive battle that could turn the war in favor of the government - AP


Syria, Russia seek rebel surrender with Aleppo seige - GulfNews.com


Aleppo rebels accuse Kurds of aiding regime siege - NOW


Kurdish YPG forces combatting Islamists in Syria's Aleppo - ARA News


Pressure mounts in Aleppo, Since government forces closed off Castello Road supplies have dwindled and prices have skyrocketed - Al Jazeera


Syrian opposition plans to launch full-scale offensive across Aleppo - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT


Jihadists, mostly composed of the Al-Qaeda affiliated Nusra, launch a large-scale offensive on Al-Mallah Farms and the Castillo road in an attempt to lift the Aleppo siege - almasdarnews.com


Huge blast rocks government arms factory near Aleppo as ISIS, Al-Nusra shell city & attack Syria troops (VIDEO) - RT News


VIDEO: Ancient city of Aleppo ravaged by relentless conflict - YouTube


Aleppo Governor, ICRC representative discuss cooperation in relief work – Syrian Arab News Agency


Field Report: Syrian Army makes fresh gains in Darayya (VIDEO) - almasdarnews.com


Syrian army foils jihadi attack in Quneitra: frontline report - almasdarnews.com


Syrian Forces Recapture Key Town on Latakia Coast - Antiwar.com


Lebanon Army targets Nusra, ISIS on northeast border - THE DAILY STAR


Russia to test new ship-based helicopters in Syria - UPI.com

 

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Fierce clashes between US backed Syrian Democratic Forces and Islamic State militants erupt in western Manbij - Rudaw


Syrian Democratic Forces advancing toward Manbij city center - southfront.org


US Central Command says anti-ISIS operation in Manbij will take time due to 'countless snipers and explosive belts’ - ARA News


US-Led coalition, supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces, destroys 22 Daesh positions near Syria’s Manbij: CENTCOM - Sputnik


US-led coalition denies ISIS access to critical supply routes north Syria near Manbij - ARA News


Unconfirmed report: 3 US soldiers killed by guided missile in Manbij northeastern Aleppo - Alalam


French special forces on the ground in Manbij - Rudaw


Manbij operation uncovers treasure trove of ISIS documents - Rudaw


Syrian opposition says U.S. must stand up to Russia which is committing 'war crimes' - Reuters


New Syrian opposition interim government excludes the Kurdish National Council - ARA News


Clinton backer and advisor Panetta: Obama’s strategy in Syria has resulted in ‘worst-case’ scenario, The U.S. will need to challenge ISIS, Assad and the Russians as well - Daily Caller


VIDEO: Leon Panetta talks Syria and the next U.S. president - YouTube


Statement by Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham on Obama administration’s delusional talks with Russia - United States Senator John McCain


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Syria: Reasserting Dignity in the US Antiwar Movement

[Note: I'm publishing this with no edits, but with a note from myself at the end, as I think this article may serve as a useful corrective to various mistakes but am convinced it makes a few of its own. --David Swanson]

By Andy Berman

After 5 years of intense bloody conflict in Syria, resulting so far in the death of half a million people, the severe injury of millions more, the destruction of major parts of the nation’s housing and infrastructure and the displacement of 12 million persons, literally half the nation’s population, it is abundantly clear that the entity that calls itself the “US antiwar movement” has failed.

The US antiwar movement contributed significantly to ending the US war in Vietnam, and successfully prevented a US invasion of Nicaragua, and gave tremendous solidarity to the people of El Salvador in their struggle against their death-squad government. It made a major contribution of solidarity to the South African people in the struggle against apartheid.

But its record to date in mitigating the violence in Syria, much less helping to bring about a just solution to the conflict, is one of abject failure. It is also, in the opinion of millions of Syrians, a great betrayal.

After 5 years of death and destruction, following an initially non-violent uprising against a brutal dictatorship, there is no legitimate excuse for concerned antiwar activists to say they are still “confused” by the conflict, and to hold back from condemning the ongoing war crimes that occur on a nearly daily basis in Syria today. Bloodshed and conflict are occurring in a number of places around the globe. But in its scope of violence, its years of unceasing slaughter, its extent of civilian suffering, Syria arguably leads the pack. Syria should be very high on the agenda of peace and justice organizations.

Focus: U.S. and Russia on Syria, Trump and Clinton on Nice terror attack - July 16, 2016


Putin-Kerry talks made no progress on Syria deal, Kremlin says - Bloomberg Politics


Kremlin spokesman says Putin, Kerry did not discuss Syria military cooperation, 'unfortunately, we are not much closer' - Almanar


U.S., Russia extend talks in search for Syria cooperation deal - washpost.bloomberg.com


Kerry: World 'waiting' for U.S.-Russia cooperation on terrorism - Washington Examiner


Kremlin: Moscow ready for coordinated anti-terrorist efforts with US, Putin regrets over our American partners’ rejecting cooperation - TASS


Russian Defense Minister urges US to joint action to normalize situation in Aleppo - TASS


US, Russia talk Syria military coordination despite Pentagon concerns - CNNPolitics.com


Pentagon resists Obama’s new plan to work with the Russians in Syria - The Daily Beast


Obama’s Syria plan teams up American and Russian forces - The Washington Post


Text of the U.S. Syria plan: Terms of reference for the Joint Implementation Group - The Washington Post


While the Obama administration works to shift its Syria policy away from pressuring the Assad regime, Congress launches Syria sanctions drive - The Washington Post


Interview: Bashar Al-Assad says U.S. is ‘not serious' about defeating ISIS (VIDEO) - NBC News


Assad: No talks with Russia about leaving power - BBC News


Journalist Colvin responsible for own death: Syria s Assad - Yahoo7


Syrian troops aided by Russian jets recapture 586 settlements: defense minister - TASS


Syrian Arab Coalition troops move toward center of Manbij in Syria - U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE


Death of Islamic State's ‘minister of war’ Shishani may damage foreign recruitment, Pentagon says that he has been the target of an attack near Mosul - defenceWeb

 

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Trump says he would ask Congress to declare war on terrorism - The New York Times


Trump on Nice attacks: 'Extreme vetting' of immigrants; 'A different world and we're trying to be politically correct’ (VIDEO) - RealClearPolitics


VIDEO: Donald Trump: Use NATO ‘for a purpose’, to destroy ISIS - Fox News


Clinton on Nice: We need to launch an ‘intelligence surge' in war against ‘radical jihadist groups’ (VIDEO) - RealClearPolitics


Hillary: Europeans not cooperating with US on terrorism - newsmax.com


VIDEO: Donald Trump full interview on Nice, France terrorist attack - Fox News


VIDEO: Hillary Clinton full interview on Nice, France terrorist attack - Fox News


Debate rages in Clinton camp over Syria policy - TheHill


Hillary Clinton’s likely Defense Secretary Michelle Flourney wants more US troops fighting ISIS and Assad (and Michelle Flourney reply) - Defense One


Defeating the Islamic State: A bottom-up approach - Center for a New American Security


Admiral Fabuloso: Hillary, Syria and the destructive career of James G. Stavridis - counterpunch.org


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Intel Vets Take The State Dept. 51" to Task

 

 

 

 


Intel Vets Call ‘Dissent Memo’ on Syria ‘Reckless’

 

 

 

 

Editor Note: A group of U.S. intelligence veterans urges President Obama to resist the “reckless” call for a wider Syrian war from 51 State Department officials in a recent “dissent memo.”

MEMORANDUM FOR:  Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

Subject:  Beware Foggy Bottom Dissent

Syria News - June 19, 2016


U.S. backed Kurdish and Arab forces advance two km from center of Islamic state-held Manbij: source - Reuters


US Special Forces active in Manbij offensive, says YPG official - Rudaw


Islamic State mounts fierce defence of besieged Syrian bastion Manbij, launches a wave of suicide and car bombings - Daily Mail


Hundreds of Kurdish villagers near Manbij taken by ISIS as human shield - Rudaw


SDF forces break ISIS defense lines and reach trapped civilians in Manbij (VIDEO) - Rudaw


ISIS extremists execute whole family for trying to escape Manbij city - ARA News


'I felt liberated': Syrian girl reveals joy removing niqab after US backed Syrian forces expel ISIS - Reuters


Kurdish commander: ISIS no longer able to cross the border, send terrorists from Syria to the outside world - ARA News


Federal plan for Syrian Kurdistan advances with U.S.-backed forces - ekurd


Syrian government forces impose heavy losses on ISIS military hardware in Raqqa province - alalam.ir


UN human rights panel concludes ISIS is committing genocide against Yazidis - United Nations News Centre


REPORT: “They came to destroy”: ISIS crimes against the Yazidis - UN Human Rights Council

 

Why the Islamic State Is Weaker Than It Seems - Stratfor


ARCHIVE: Islamic State sees sharp drop in its revenue - Jerusalem Post

 

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Russia bombs U.S.-backed Syrian rebels near Jordan border - CNNPolitics.com


Images suggest that Russia cluster-bombed U.S.-backed Syrian fighters - The Washington Post


Pentagon chief Carter hits Russia for attacking U.S.-backed Syrian rebels - AP


U.S. seeks answers over Russian strikes on Syrian rebels - Reuters


Statement by Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook on U.S.-Russia Video Conference - U.S. Department of Defense


Russian defense minister meets Assad, inspects Khmeimim airbase in Syria (VIDEO) - RT News


Russia says Syria campaign death toll moves into double figures - THE DAILY STAR


Syrian rebel groups, including Nusra Front, capture government-held areas, dozens dead - ABC News


Islamist group kills seven members of a Kurdish family in Aleppo (VIDEO) - Rudaw


Syrian forces stop al-Nusra Front offensive near Turkish border - Sputnik


Iran’s Qods Force general vows to fight in Iraq and Syria until the last jihadist is killed - The Long War Journal


John Kerry is said to side with diplomats’ critical memo on Syria - The New York Times


Brain-dead diplomats: Why did 51 American State Dept. officials ‘dissent' against Obama and call for bombing Syria? - Alternet


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51 US Diplomats Are Wrong--Assad Regime Change by Force Would Result in Uncontrollable Anti-American Anger

By Ann Wright

 51 mid-level U.S. diplomats have written a dissent cable to Secretary of State John Kerry urging the Obama administration to conduct military strikes against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to stop its "persistent violations of a cease-fire in the country’s five-year-old civil war."

Unreported Mass Killing Leaves Thousands Dead

In what's being called the worst mass killing by the United States in the past six months, numerous mentally disturbed individuals, with the extensive backing of a well-financed terrorist organization, and support from a growing circle of allied gang members, have gruesomely slaughtered 1,110 to 1,558 innocent men, women, and children.

This incident, which has left shocked and speechless a handful of people who've heard and thought about it, took place between December 1, 2015, and May 31, 2016, during which interval the killers got off 4,087 airstrikes, including 3,010 over Iraq and 1,077 over Syria.

Aiding and abetting the slaughter, and now also being sought by law enforcement, are France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Netherlands, Australia, Denmark, and Canada. In what is widely understood as an appeal for judicial mercy, Canada has expressed remorse. None of the other alleged perpetrators has done so. Several have openly acknowledged their participation, including by displaying the gang symbol of a U.S. flag tattooed on their glutei maximi.

An offshoot terrorist group said to have been inspired by the United States and going by the name of "Russia," during the same period has brutally murdered 2,792 to 3,451 innocents using similar techniques apparently copied from those of the U.S. gang.

Despite being well documented, these murders have gone largely unreported in U.S. media outlets working overtime to focus on a smaller slaughter in Orlando, Florida. The death counts are imprecise but highly selective, as they intentionally exclude all casualties deemed to be those of combatants.

In a coincidental connection, the Orlando killer blamed the U.S. bombings in Iraq and Syria for his own murderous rampage.

Adding to the bizarre connections, members of the U.S. public have been heard blaming the Orlando slaughter for additional airstrikes to come.

Commented an alien in a ship approaching the planet earth: "Reverse engines! Get us out of here! Let's try back in 10 years and see if anyone is left."

Let's Back All Moderates in Syria and the World

I've come around in favor of backing all moderates. The question appeared to me for a long time as a difficult one. Should one give anti-aircraft weaponry, for example, to al Qaeda fighters in Syria in order to better combat ISIS (which could some day develop the airplane)?

The answer is yes, if, and only if, those fighters are moderates.

Now, who's a moderate? Some people get confused on this part, but it's not really that difficult to get straight. Fighters who want to blow up buildings and airplanes and cars and pedestrians and playgrounds can be either moderates or extremists, since war has nothing to do with their categorization. After all, we're picking which people to arm in the war.

Also, the question of whom a fighter is fighting for or against is completely irrelevant. The CIA and the Department of Defense have armed and trained forces that are fighting against each other in Syria. Obviously, both are moderate.

The answer to "Who is a moderate?" actually comes down to this: What sort of an ideal world would they like to see in the future, and is there anyone else who would like to see some sort of world that sucks worse than theirs? That's it. Simple. And you have to keep it simple. Don't go looking into whether they're actually creating that ideal world. That's not relevant. Both the moderates and the extremists are obviously creating a world of death, injury, trauma, bitterness, vengeance, rubble, starvation, and toxic pollution. The moderates, again, are the ones who are doing this while envisioning a utopia that's not as grotesque as someone else's.

This is also why I'm routing for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA playoffs. All the teams dribble and pass (well, except Oklahoma City) and shoot. But if you survey the players as to what sort of society they'd like to live in, the Cleveland players have the best answers -- or at least that's what my 18 intelligence agencies guess without actually, you know, asking them.

I believe we should be applying this policy to rapists as well. Just as fighters in a war all murder people, rapists all rape. But some of them must be moderates, and those are the ones we should support. We just need to determine their political ideologies. The same goes, I think, for sweatshop owners, and ought to be a guide to ethical investment and shopping. One need only keep up on the political views of the new owners after every sale.

The U.S. government has been distributing military weapons to local police forces in a rather haphazard manner heretofore. Some have asked that police departments that murder too many unarmed citizens not receive free military weapons any longer. This misses the point entirely. The departments that should be cut off are those whose members envision the worst future society.

You see the universality of this? All things in moderation, as the saying goes.

I'm personally delighted to have discovered this guide to life's difficult decisions. I plan to use it in voting come November, and to abandon all active thought processes immediately.

What about violence from the Clinton campaign?

hrcwecame

By Michael Collins

Some rough housing at a Democratic Party convention in Nevada over the weekend shocked party leaders and the mainstream media. The official custodians of propriety demand that Sanders control his followers and denounce their actions. The double standard on this issue is simply appalling since the Clinton campaign represents failed policies that got 350,000 killed and future plans (the “no fly zone” for Syria) that will cost even more lives. (Image)

To be specific, Hillary Clinton’s policies, as secretary of state, helped launch the Libyan regime change operation. To date, 100,000 Libyans are dead due to that foreign policy fiasco. Clinton was the tip of the spear for the “Assad must go” movement resulting in major support for extremist jihadist fighters attacking the sovereign state of Syria. Why? Because Assad didn’t just amble off when then Secretary of State Clinton commanded him to he leave his office and nation. The death toll in Syria is 250,000.

In sum, Hillary Clinton’s past policies and efforts resulted in 350,000 dead people. She is the only remaining presidential candidate with a major death toll.

Seymour Hersh Erases Public's Role on Syria

By David Swanson, American Herald Tribune

Seymour Hersh 8891d

We once again owe the great reporter Seymour Hersh a serious debt for his reporting, in this case for his London Review of Books articles on President Barack Obama's war making, now published as a book called The Killing of Osama bin Laden. Despite the title, three of the four articles are about Syria.

But there is a shortcoming in how Hersh tells history, as in how many reporters do. I've watched Hersh do interviews about the topic on Democracy Now and never once heard him mention the U.S. public. In his book, the public gets one mention: "The proposed American missile attack on Syria never won public support, and Obama turned quickly to the UN and the Russian proposal for dismantling the Syrian chemical warfare complex." Taken in isolation, that sentence suggests what I think is an important causal relationship. Taken in the context of a book that spends many pages offering other explanations for Obama's decision, that one sentence seems to be simply stating two unrelated incidents in chronological order.

A few sentences later, Hersh writes that Obama had claimed to have evidence of Bashar al Assad's guilt in a chemical weapons attack, but then turned to Congress for a vote and accepted Assad's offer to give up chemical weapons. From this, Hersh concludes that Obama must have been made aware of evidence contradicting his claim. (In fact, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper supposedly rather pointedly told Obama that his claim was "not a slam dunk.") Elsewhere Hersh credits Obama's decision not to bomb Syria to "military leaders who thought that going to war was both unjustified and potentially dangerous." Hersh writes that a report contradicting Obama's chemical weapons claims led the joint chiefs of staff to warn Obama that attacking Syria could be "an unjustified act of aggression."

You may be wondering which of the seven wars Obama is now engaged in isn't an unjustified act of aggression, or how a chemical weapons attack would make a war into a justified act of aggression, but Hersh also cites a DIA assessment in 2013 that overthrowing Syria could create a Libya-like disaster -- something that a 2012 DIA assessment also warned was in the making. But, one might ask, where is the public uproar or any other sort of consequence for the White House from the fact that Obama blatantly lied about a Libyan threat to massacre civilians in Benghazi and used that lie to create the current disaster in Libya? What has been the downside to the president of having lied about a mountaintop rescue in order to get into more warmaking in Iraq and Syria? How have endless lies about Ukraine or drone strikes come back to bite the prevaricator in chief? What would have been different about getting caught lying about a chemical weapons attack in Syria? And with those lies having in fact been told and being now well-exposed by Hersh and others, is it possible to find a dozen Americans and a dog who give a damn?

The difference was this. Public pressure had made the 2003 U.S. attack on Iraq illegal and shameful, powerful enough to toss out Congressional majorities in 2006 and to deny Hillary Clinton a nomination in 2008. Syria 2013 resembled Iraq 2003 in too many ways. WMD lies were still unstable ground. Other types of lies were much preferred. Secretive wars and slow buildups would be better tolerated. A new shock and awe over WMD lies, entering a new war on the side of al Qaeda, with the strongest supporters of such madness actually opposed in this case because the president was a Democrat -- all of this was just too weak a proposal for the public. Once the question was made a public debate, with true war mongers screaming for Obama to uphold his "red line," the public made more phone calls, sent more emails, and challenged more Congress members at public meetings over this question than over any other question ever before in history. And Congress members were heard saying they didn't want to go on record as having voted for "another Iraq."

Now, that may explain why Congress made clear it would vote No if forced to vote. But what determined the emperor's decision to tell Congress to take a vote (a role not actually assigned to presidents in the U.S. Constitution)? Here's where it helps to read Chapter 1 of Hersh's bin Laden book, the chapter on the killing of bin Laden. This is a chapter largely dedicated to President Obama's mad and reckless rush to violate various policies, outrage various bureaucrats, burn Pakistani relations, endanger sources, and generate various falsehoods that would have to be corrected, in order to as quickly as possible announce to the public that he had slain the terrible dragon. Obama falsely claimed that bin Laden was engaged in running a major terrorist organization and had been armed and killed in a shoot out. In fact, bin Laden was an irrelevant old invalid, unarmed, unguarded, and murdered in cold blood. Obama also lied about how bin Laden had been found, which facilitated lies to the effect that torture had accomplished something, a lie put into the movie Zero Dark Thirty by the CIA. Never directly mentioned in this saga is the looming presence of the U.S. public, the entity to which Obama went running head over heels to blurt out his news and plead for a triumphal arch to be built in his honor.

U.S. politicians have a very odd and corrupt relationship with the public, as has that public with itself. Numerous actions are taken on behalf of donors in stark opposition to the public will. But public opinion remains a major focus for politicians. Perhaps Hersh considers the point too obvious to mention, or perhaps he considers it false. He doesn't say. But he should be aware that much of the public considers it false, that even peace activists who try to pressure politicians for peace often believe they have no impact. Hersh must also be aware that politicians go out of their way to pretend that the public has no impact.

Hersh is clear that the decision to proceed with eliminating Syria's chemical weapons came after the decision not to bomb. But he paints the decision not to bomb as an internal decision focused on picking the policy that would have the best results and be based on accurate information. He cannot be unaware that most U.S. government policies are not shaped around those criteria.

The general view of the U.S. public is that "democracy" should be spread around the globe and that any politician who changes their position in response to public demand is shameful and disreputable. Politicians in the United States are applauded for claiming to ignore opinion polls and to act on principle, which they universally claim. "There is probably a perverse pride in my administration," said President Obama, "and I take responsibility for this; this was blowing from the top — that we were going to do the right thing, even if short-term it was unpopular." The identical sentiment has been articulated by nearly every U.S. politician for many years.

In the late 1990s, Lawrence Wittner was researching the anti-nuclear movement of decades past. He interviewed Robert "Bud" McFarlane, President Ronald Reagan's former national security advisor: "Other administration officials had claimed that they had barely noticed the nuclear freeze movement. But when I asked McFarlane about it, he lit up and began outlining a massive administration campaign to counter and discredit the freeze -- one that he had directed. . . . A month later, I interviewed Edwin Meese, a top White House staffer and U.S. attorney general during the Reagan administration. When I asked him about the administration's response to the freeze campaign, he followed the usual line by saying that there was little official notice taken of it. In response, I recounted what McFarlane had revealed. A sheepish grin now spread across this former government official's face, and I knew that I had caught him. 'If Bud says that,' he remarked tactfully, 'it must be true.'"

Admitting to public influence is usually the last thing an elected official wants to do. It's viewed by them and by the public alike as the exact equivalent of admitting to the influence of campaign bribery, . . . er, I mean, contributions. Even well-meaning activists see elections as exactly as corrupting a factor of pure principled politics as lobbyist meetings, proposing as a result such "reforms" as longer terms in office and term limits. And yet, when it comes to the decision not to bomb Syria in 2013 (and instead merely to keep arming and training proxies and searching for other means of more slowly making a bad situation worse), the White House admits to public influence.

This was not merely reading polls, in which the U.S. public opposed arming proxies even more than dropping bombs. But neither was it "doing the right" wonky thing, and the public be damned. Remember, Obama asked the CIA for a report on whether arming proxies had ever "worked," and the report said no it hadn't -- except for that time in Afghanistan (blowback not included). Obama was intent on doing what both the public and the military warned against. But he wouldn't do it in too big and dramatic a manner under a public spotlight with the words "Iraq Part II" flashing on the marquee. Here's a bit of Obama's self-portrait as Saint Francis in The Atlantic:

"But the president had grown queasy. In the days after the gassing of Ghouta, Obama would later tell me, he found himself recoiling from the idea of an attack unsanctioned by international law or by Congress. The American people seemed unenthusiastic about a Syria intervention; so too did one of the few foreign leaders Obama respects, Angela Merkel, the German chancellor. She told him that her country would not participate in a Syria campaign. And in a stunning development, on Thursday, August 29, the British Parliament denied David Cameron its blessing for an attack. John Kerry later told me that when he heard that, 'internally, I went, Oops.'"

Obama is also quoted as listing the House of Commons vote as one of the major factors in his own decision. And then there's Joe blurt-it-out Biden, in the same article:

"When I spoke with Biden recently about the red-line decision, he made special note of this fact. 'It matters to have Congress with you, in terms of your ability to sustain what you set out to do,' he said. Obama 'didn't go to Congress to get himself off the hook. He had his doubts at that point, but he knew that if he was going to do anything, he better damn well have the public with him, or it would be a very short ride.' Congress's clear ambivalence convinced Biden that Obama was correct to fear the slippery slope. 'What happens when we get a plane shot down? Do we not go in and rescue?,' Biden asked. 'You need the support of the American people.'"

Do you? Do these characters care about or want that support on corporate trade agreements or healthcare or climate destruction, on banker bailouts or super delegates or military spending? No, they're happy to ignore minor levels of public activism disempowered by a belief in its own impotence, by the pretense of politicians that it is ignored, and by the partisanship that usually provides cover for roughly half of office holders on any given topic. But when the public is united and energized, when it feels empowered to hold somebody accountable, politicians do still sit up and pay attention.

The influence of the public on the 2013 Syria decision began with the 2003 public uprising that made the United Nations refuse legal cover to attacking Iraq. After Russia and China went along with the pretense of UN cover for attacking Libya in 2011, they refused to do the same on Syria in 2013. This was going to have to be an Iraq-like war without any UN fig leaf.

Public pressure came through the governments of the UK and Germany, and it came principally through Congress. It also poured into the White House directly. It also came through the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and others in the military machinery of Washington who knew what the public response to Iraq had been. None of these people operate in a vacuum. None of them even aspire to be good representatives of majority opinion, either. But it shapes their actions nonetheless, and we should be aware of how it does so. And good reporting, reporting so good that it can no longer even be published in the United States and must find an outlet in London, should not neglect to include mention of the U.S. public -- even if the public's actions are secrets that are by definition sitting right out in the open.

Obama Admits US Military Policy Responsible for Terrorist Attacks in Europe

By Gar Smith

On April 1, 2016 President Barack Obama addressed the closing session of the Nuclear Security Summit and praised "the collective efforts that we've made to reduce the amount of nuclear material that might be accessible to terrorists around the world."

"This is also an opportunity for our nations to remain united and focused on the most active terrorist network at the moment, and that is ISIL," Obama said. Some observers might argue that the US, itself, now represents the world's "most active terrorist network." In doing so, they would merely be echoing the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. who, on April 4, 1967, railed against "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today, my own government."

While Obama hyped the fact that "a majority of the nations here are part of the global coalition against ISIL," he also noted that this same coalition was a major recruiting conduit for ISIS militants. "Just about all of our nations have seen citizens join ISIL in Syria and Iraq," Obama admitted, without offering any thoughts as to why this situation exists.

But Obama's most remarkable comment came with his public admission that US foreign policy and military actions were directly linked to the spike in terror attacks against Western targets in Europe and the US. "As ISIL is squeezed in Syria and Iraq," the president explained, "we can anticipate it lashing out elsewhere, as we've seen most recently and tragically in countries from Turkey to Brussels."

Having established that US-led attacks against ISIS fighters were "squeezing" the jihadists to abandon the besieged cities in Syria and Iraq to wreak havoc inside the cities of NATO's member states, Obama seemed to directly contradict his assessment: "In Syria and Iraq," he declared, "ISIL continues to lose ground. That's the good news."

"Our coalition continues to take out its leaders, including those planning external terrorist attacks. They are losing their oil infrastructure. They are losing their revenues. Morale is suffering. We believe that the flow of foreign fighters into Syria and Iraq has slowed, even as the threat from foreign fighters returning to commit acts of horrific violence remains all too real." [Emphasis added.]

For most Americans, the Pentagon's military assaults on countries thousands of miles from the US border remain little more than a dim and distant distraction—more like a rumor than a reality. But the international monitoring organization, Airwars.org, provides some missing context.

According to Airwars estimates, as of May 1, 2016—over the course of an anti-ISIS campaign that has lasted more than 634 days—the coalition had mounted 12,039 air strikes (8,163 in Iraq; 3,851 in Syria), dropping a total of 41,607 bombs and missiles.



US military reveals 8 civilians died in airstrikes against ISIS between April and July 2015 (Daily Mail).

A Jihadist Links US Killings to Growing Resentment and Revenge Attacks
Obama's link between attacks on ISIS and the bloody blowback on Western streets recently was echoed by British-born Harry Sarfo, a one-time UK postal worker and former ISIS fighter who warned The Independent in an April 29 interview that the US-led bombing campaign against ISIS would only drive more jihadists to launch terror attacks directed at the West.

"The bombing campaign gives them more recruits, more men and children who will be willing to give their lives because they've lost their families in the bombing," Sarfo explained. "For every bomb, there will be someone to bring terror to the West…. They've got plenty of men waiting for Western troops to arrive. For them the promise of paradise is all they want." (The Pentagon has admitted responsibility for several civilian deaths during the period Sarfo says he was in Syria.)

ISIS, for its part, has frequently citied air strikes against its strongholds as the motivation for its attacks on Brussels and Paris—and for its downing of a Russian passenger plane flying out of Egypt.

In November 2015, a group of militants staged a series of attacks that killed 130 people in Paris followed by twin bombings on March 23, 2016 that claimed the lives of another 32 victims in Brussels. Understandably, these attacks received intense coverage in the Western media. Meanwhile, equally horrendous images of civilian victims of US attacks in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq (and US-backed Saudi airstrikes against civilians in Yemen) are seldom seen on front pages or evening news broadcasts in Europe or the US.

By comparison, Airwar.org reports that, in the eight-month period from August 8, 2014 to May 2, 2016, "an overall total of between 2,699 and 3,625 civilian non-combatant fatalities had been alleged from 414 separate reported incidents, in both Iraq and Syria."

"In addition to these confirmed events," Airwars added, "it is our provisional view at Airwars that between 1,113 and 1,691 civilian non-combatants appear likely to have been killed in 172 further incidents where there is fair reporting publicly available of an event—and where Coalition strikes were confirmed in the near vicinity on that date. At least 878 civilians were also reportedly injured in these events. Some 76 of these incidents were in Iraq (593 to 968 reported deaths) and 96 events in Syria (with a reported fatality range of 520 to 723.)"

'Nuclear Security' = Atomic Bombs for the West
Back in Washington, Obama was wrapping up his formal statement. "Looking around this room," he mused, "I see nations that represent the overwhelming majority of humanity -- from different regions, races, religions, cultures. But our people do share common aspirations to live in security and peace and to be free from fear."

While there are 193 member states in the United Nations, the Nuclear Security Summit was attended by representatives of 52 countries, seven of which possess nuclear weapons arsenals—despite the existence of long-standing international treaty agreements calling for nuclear disarmament and abolition. The attendees also included 16 of the 28 members of NATO—the nuclear-armed military juggernaut that was supposed to have been dismantled after the end of the Cold War.

The purpose of the Nuclear Security Summit was a narrow one, focused on how to prevent "terrorists" from acquiring the "nuclear option." There was no discussion of disarming the world's major existing nuclear arsenals.

Nor was there any discussion of the risk posed by civilian nuclear power reactors and radioactive waste storage sites, all of which pose tempting targets for anyone with a shoulder-mounted missile capable of turning these facilities into "home-grown dirty bombs." (This is not a hypothetical scenario. On January 18, 1982, five Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPG-7s) were fired across France's Rhone River, striking the containment structure of the Superphenix nuclear reactor.)

"The fight against ISIL will continue to be difficult, but, together, we are making real progress," Obama continued. "I'm absolutely confident that we will prevail and destroy this vile organization. As compared to ISIL's vision of death and destruction, I believe our nations together offer a hopeful vision focused on what we can build for our people."

That "hopeful vision" is difficult to perceive for residents in the many foreign lands currently under attack by Hellfire missiles launched from US aircraft and drones. While video footage of the carnage in Paris, Brussels, Istanbul and San Bernardino is horrifying to behold, it is painful but necessary to acknowledge that the damage done by a single US missile fired into an urban setting can be even more devastating.

War Crime: The US Bombing of Mosul University
On March 19 and again on March 20, US planes attacked the University of Mosul in ISIS-occupied eastern Iraq. The airstrike came in the early afternoon, at a time when the campus was most crowded.

The US bombed the University headquarters, the women's education college, the science college, the publishing center, the girls' dormitories, and a nearby restaurant. The US also bombed the faculty members' residential building. Wives and children of faculty members were among the victims: only one child survived. Professor Dhafer al Badrani, former Dean of the university's Computer Sciences College, was killed in the March 20 attack, along with his wife.



According to Dr. Souad Al-Azzawi, who sent a video of the bombing (above), the initial casualty count was 92 killed and 135 injured. "Killing innocent civilians will not solve the problem of ISIL," Al-Azzawi wrote, instead "it will push more people to join them to be able to revenge for their losses and their beloved ones."

The Anger that Stokes ISIS
In addition to civilian-killing airstrikes, Harry Sarfo offered another explanation for why he was driven to join ISIS—police harassment. Sarfo bitterly recalled how he had been forced to surrender his British passport and report to a police station twice a week and how his home was repeatedly raided. "I wanted to start a new life for me and my wife," he told The Independent. "The police and the authorities destroyed it. They made me become the man they wanted."

Sarfo eventually abandoned ISIS because of the mounting burden of atrocities he was forced to experience. "I witnessed stonings, beheadings, shootings, hands chopped off and many other things," he told The Independent. "I've seen child soldiers—13-year-old boys with explosive belts and Kalashnikovs. Some boys even driving cars and involved in executions.

"My worst memory is of the execution of six men shot in the head by Kalashnikovs. The chopping off of a man's hand and making him hold it with the other hand. The Islamic State is not just un-Islamic, it is inhuman. A blood-related brother killed his own brother on suspicion of being a spy. They gave him the order to kill him. It is friends killing friends."

But as bad as ISIS may be, they do not, as yet, girdle the world with more than 1,000 of military garrisons and facilities nor do they threaten the planet with an arsenal of 2,000 nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles, half of which remain on "hair-trigger" alert.

Gar Smith is the co-founder of Environmentalists Against War and author of Nuclear Roulette.

Their Mouths Are Moving, or How Can You Tell a Politician Is Lying About War?

By David Swanson, American Herald Tribune

Stop Bombing Syria 4ad41

Someone asked me to find war lies during the past few years. Perhaps they had in mind the humanitarian pretenses around attacking Libya in 2011 and Iraq in 2014, or the false claims about chemical weapons in 2013, or the lies about an airplane in Ukraine or the endlessly reported Russian invasions of Ukraine. Maybe they were thinking of the "ISIS Is In Brooklyn" headlines or the routine false claims about the identities of drone victims or the supposedly imminent victory in Afghanistan or in one of the other wars. The lies seem far too numerous for me to fit into an essay, though I've tried many times, and they are layered over a bedrock of more general lies about what works, what is legal, and what is moral. Just a Prince Tribute selection of lies could include Qadaffi's viagra for the troops and CNN's sex-toys flag as evidence of ISIS in Europe. It's hard to scrape the surface of all U.S. war lies in something less than a book, which is why I wrote a book.

So, I replied that I would look for war lies just in 2016. But that was way too big as well, of course. I once tried to find all the lies in one speech by Obama and ended up just writing about the top 45. So, I've taken a glance at two of the most recent speeches on the White House website, one by Obama and one by Susan Rice. I think they provide ample evidence of how we're being lied to.

Focus: Syria News - Apr 5, 2016


Syrian opposition says no place for Assad in Syria, ahead of a meeting in Saudi Arabia before the third round of Geneva negotiations - alaraby.co.uk


Hijab: Syrian opposition will not go further in the negotiations unless a transitional governing body formed without Assad and his clique - etilaf


Syrian opposition's High Negotiations Committee warns truce on verge of total collapse - etilaf


Syria opposition says US 'ambiguity' on Assad future is very damaging - AFP


Obama vetoed 50 plans by the CIA to engineer the downfall of the Assad regime in Syria: former agent - The Telegraph


No compromise with US over fate of Syria President Assad: senior Russian diplomat - RT


Russia ships more equipment to Syria than it removes - Business Insider


Video of military convoy new evidence Russia not pulling out of Syria (VIDEOS) - Fox News


Russian aircraft carrier to go to Mediterranean Sea carrying new fighters: source - TASS

 

Missile corvette joins Russian naval group in Mediterranean - TASS

 

Russia's Mi-28N helicopter's combat debut is Syria - TASS


Russia’s secret weapon of the Islamic State war: Mi-28 attack helicopter - The Daily Beast


Russian nuclear ballistic missile "Iskander" spotted in Syria - Zero Hedge


Moscow's campaign in Syria leads to arms sale windfall, Russian weapons exports expected to receive $6bn boost as result of ‘marketing effect’ of bombing - The Guardian

 

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Ceasefire broken: Over the weekend Nusra Front with other Islamist groups and US-armed FSA rebels attack Syrian army in Aleppo - LA Times


Nusra Front and other armed groups attacks positions of Syrian army, Kurds on Monday: Russian Defense Ministry - TASS


Groups breaking ceasefire in Aleppo included Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham, FSA Division 13, Turkestani Islamic Party, Levant Brigade - Juan Cole


Eight Hezbollah fighters killed in Aleppo clashes over weekend - THE DAILY STAR


Three senior Iranian officers killed in confrontations with Syrian rebels in Aleppo - ARA News


VIDEO: Syrian rebels mount offensive against government forces in Aleppo - Al Jazeera


VIDEO (Arabic) - Syrian rebels’ footage of the operations in Aleppo - YouTube


VIDEO (Arabic): Free Syrian Army units moving into Khalidyah village - YouTube

 

VIDEO: State Department: U.S. unsure of ceasefire violations but Assad is the biggest violator - YouTube


Two senior intelligence analysts at U.S. Central Command say the military has forced them out of their jobs because of their skeptical reporting on U.S.-backed rebel groups in Syria - The Daily Beast

 

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U.S. behind strike that killed Nusra Front's prominent leader Abu Firas: officials - Reuters


U.S weighs more special ops for Syria - CNNPolitics.com


Russia, U.S. discussing coordination to liberate Syria's Raqqa: Interfax - Reuters


Putin's Russian air force bombing Islamic State effectively, Pentagon concedes - Washington Times


DoD Report: Operations against Islamic State costing average of $11.4M per day - cnsnews.com


After Palmyra Syrian troops take another Islamic State-controlled town, Qaryatain is crucial for securing oil and gas pipelines and for blocking militant supply routes - AP


Destruction, razed monastery left behind by Islamic State in Syria town Qaryatain (PHOTOS) - AP


Syria: About 40 bodies reportedly found in mass grave in Palmyra, 23 of them women and children - FOX 11 Los Angeles


Islamic State fights back in Deir Zor, advances on Syrian airbase - ARA News


Islamic state militants use mustard gas in attack on Deir Zor airport: Syrian state TV - Reuters


Islamic State executes and crucify eight people in Syria's Raqqa for deserting its ranks or violating regulations - ARA News


Russian UN envoy says Turkey is key supplier of weapons to Islamic State - TASS


Turkish officers recruiting fighters for Nusra Front in Syria: Russian Defense Ministry - sputniknews.com


Erdogan uses closed-door meeting to blast Obama administration, the Turkish president says that the White House is wrong to back the Kurds in the fight against the Islamic State - Foreign Policy


Syrian Kurds proceed with federal structures despite Turkish threats - Al-Monitor


Turkish court releases all 96 Islamic State suspects who are now on trial - clarionproject.org

 

US orders diplomatic, military families out of south Turkey due to 'increased threats from terrorist groups' - AP


To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

 

U.S. State Department: Don't Hurt ISIS

So Many Enemies, So Little Logic
By David Swanson, teleSUR

Islamic State Group fighters

The U.S. State Department does not want the government of Syria to defeat or weaken ISIS, at least not if doing so means any sort of gain for the Syrian government. Watching a recent video of a State Department spokesperson speaking on that subject might confuse some U.S. war supporters. I doubt many residents of Palmyra, Virginia, or Palmyra, Pennsylvania, or Palmyra, New York could give a coherent account of the U.S. government's position on which enemy should control the ancient Palmyra in Syria.

The U.S. government has been arming Al Qaeda in Syria. I doubt many people in the United States, of whatever political extraction, could explain why. In my experience, having just begun a tour of speaking events, very few in the United States can even name the seven nations that President Barack Obama has bragged about bombing, much less explain which parties he is or is not bombing in those countries. No nation in the history of the world has had so many enemies to keep track of as the United States has now, and bothered so little about doing so.

The particular problem with Syria is that the U.S. government has prioritized one enemy, whom it has utterly failed to scare the U.S. public with, while the U.S. government has made a distant second priority of attacking another enemy that most people in the United States are so terrified of they can hardly think straight. Consider what changed between 2013 and 2014. In 2013, President Obama was prepared to heavily bomb the Syrian government. But he did not claim that the Syrian government wanted to attack the United States, or even to attack a handful of white people from the United States. Instead he argued, unpersuasively, that he knew who was responsible for killing Syrians with chemical weapons. This was in the midst of a war in which thousands were dying on all sides from all kinds of weapons. The outrage over a particular type of weapon, the dubious claims, and the eagerness to overthrow a government, were all too close to U.S. memories of the 2003 attack on Iraq.

Congress Members in 2013 found themselves at public events confronted with the question of why the U.S. would overthrow a government in a war on the same side as al Qaeda. Were they going to start another Iraq War? U.S. and British public pressure reversed Obama's decision. But U.S. opinion was even more against arming proxies, and a new CIA report said that doing so had never worked, yet that was the approach Obama went with. The overthrow, which Hillary Clinton still says should have happened, would have quickly created the chaos and terror that Obama set about developing slowly.

In 2014, Obama was able to step up direct U.S. military action in Syria and Iraq with virtually no resistance from the public. What had changed? People had heard about videos of ISIS killing white people with knives. It didn't seem to matter that jumping into the war against ISIS was the opposite side from what Obama had said in 2013 the U.S. needed to join. It didn't even seem to matter that the U.S. clearly intended to join in both sides. Nothing related to logic or sense mattered in the least. ISIS had done a little bit of what U.S. allies in Saudi Arabia and Iraq and elsewhere did routinely, and had done it to Americans. And a fictional group, even scarier, the Khorasan Group, was coming to get us, ISIS was slipping across the border from Mexico and Canada, if we didn't do something really big and brutal we were all going to die.

That being why the U.S. public finally said yes to open-ended war again -- after really not falling for the lies about a humanitarian rescue in Libya, or not caring -- the U.S. public naturally assumes that the U.S. government has prioritized destroying the evil dark force of Islamic Terror. It hasn't. The U.S. government says to itself, in its little-noticed reports, that ISIS is no threat to the United States. It knows perfectly well, and its top commanders blurt it out upon retirement, that attacking terrorists only strengthens their forces. The U.S. priority remains overthrowing the Syrian government, ruining that country, and creating chaos. Here's part of that project: U.S.-backed troops in Syria fighting other U.S. backed troops in Syria. That's not incompetence if the goal is to destroy a nation, as it seems to be in Hillary Clinton's emails - (the following is a draft of this article):

"The best way to help Israel deal with Iran's growing nuclear capability is to help the people of Syria overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad. ... Iran's nuclear program and Syria's civil war may seem unconnected, but they are. For Israeli leaders, the real threat from a nuclear-armed Iran is not the prospect of an insane Iranian leader launching an unprovoked Iranian nuclear attack on Israel that would lead to the annihilation of both countries. What Israeli military leaders really worry about -- but cannot talk about -- is losing their nuclear monopoly. ... It is the strategic relationship between Iran and the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria that makes it possible for Iran to undermine Israel's security."

ISIS, Al Qaeda, and terrorism are far better tools for marketing wars than communism ever was, because they can be imagined using knives rather than nukes, and because terrorism can never collapse and vanish. If (counterproductively) attacking groups like al Qaeda were what motivated the wars, the United States would not be aiding Saudi Arabia in slaughtering the people of Yemen and increasing the power of Al Qaeda there. If peace were the goal, the U.S. would not be sending troops back into Iraq to use the same actions that destroyed that country to supposedly fix it. If winning particular sides of wars were the main objective, the United States would not have served as the primary funding for both sides in Afghanistan for all these years, with decades more planned.

Why did Senator Harry Truman say the United States should help either the Germans or the Russians, whichever side was losing? Why did President Ronald Reagan back Iraq against Iran and also Iran against Iraq? Why could fighters on both sides in Libya exchange parts for their weapons? Because two goals that outweigh all others for the U.S. government often align in the cause of sheer destruction and death. One is U.S. domination of the globe, and all other peoples be damned. The second is arms sales. No matter who's winning and who's dying, the weapons makers profit, and the majority of weapons in the Middle East have been shipped there from the United States. Peace would cut into those profits horribly.

Syria/Iraq News - Mar 28, 2016


Syrian army retakes ancient Palmyra in major victory over Islamic State, the town is known as the 'Pearl of the Desert' - Yahoo News


Encircled: Syrian army poised to storm key Christian town Qariatein near Palmyra - Sputnik International


Russian air force made 40 flights over Palmyra in last 24 hours, destroyed 8 terrorist command centers - Sputnik International


Palmyra Liberation: Syrian army officer reveals details of operation - Sputnik International


Retaking of Palmyra a huge morale boost for Syrian army - irishtimes.com


VIDEO: Liberation of Palmyra: Awesome footage from drone - liveleak.com


List of Syrian army advances since Russian intervention - AFP


President al-Assad: Palmyra achievement proves army strategy more effective than US-led coalition efforts – Syrian Arab News Agency


Putin congratulates Assad on Palmyra liberation - Sputnik International


UN chief Ban hails removal of Islamic State from Syria's Palmyra - AFP


Why is David Cameron so silent on the recapture of Palmyra from the clutches of Islamic State? - The Independent


Syria antiquities chief: Palmyra ruins generally 'in good shape', Islamic State destroyed the grand Temple of Bel, the shrine of Baal Shamin and several funerary towers - AFP


Palmyra National Museum completely plundered, artifacts partly destroyed - Sputnik International


Preserving Syria's threatened treasures in digital - France 24


In Syria, militias armed by the Pentagon fight those armed by the CIA - LA Times


Book review: ‘Syria Burning’ suggests U.S. stoked the flames - freep.com

 

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Thousands of Iraqis flee fighting south of Mosul in new front by the Iraqi army against Islamic State - AFP


VIDEO(English Subtitles): People leave homes in Mosul by car - YouTube


VIDEO (English Subtitles): Men, women and children fleeing the Islamic State-controlled areas to the Kurdistan Region's capital Erbil - Liveleak


Iraqi forces make slow progress south of Mosul - Reuters


Tentative push for Mosul reveal's Iraq army's failings - The National


VIDEO (English Subtitles): Makhmour clashes fail to achieve Iraqi army objectives to capture key villages before any thrust into Mosul - Rudaw


The Pentagon is planning to send more combat troops into Iraq to enable operations in Mosul - militarytimes.com


Air force moves to replenish bomb stockpile drained by Islamic State fight - defensetech.org


Iraq: Islamic State imposes curfew on residents of Mosul - AhlulBayt News Agency


Islamic State executes 12 of its members’ relatives in Mosul over intel links: report - Al Arabiya English


Islamic State executioner killed by assassins in occupied Iraqi city of Mosul - ibtimes.co.uk


The Battle for Mosul and the Future of Islamic State - huffingtonpost.com


Trump would consider halting U.S. oil purchases from Saudi Arabia unless it provides troops to fight Islamic State - yahoo.com


VIDEO: Obama weekly address: Defeating Islamic State - YouTube


Islamic State chief executioner says Brussels was ‘just a taste' of what terrorists are planning in horrifying new video - Mirror Online


VIDEO: Official Islamic State threat video says Brussels is 'just a taste' - YouTube


To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

Syria News - Mar 26 , 2016


Palmyra: Syrian government forces 'retake citadel’ from Islamic State, a strategic medieval castle on the hill overlooking the city - BBC


VIDEO: Footage shows Syrian Army entering Palmyra - LiveLeak.com


VIDEO: Syrian Army retaking the citadel castle - LiveLeak.com


VIDEO: Drone footage of Palmyra castle earlier today - YouTube


Islamic State launches counteroffensive against Syrian army in Palmyra: commander - sputniknews.com


IS video claims to show group still in control of Palmyra (VIDEO) - Middle East Eye


Russian warplanes flew 41 sorties to support Syrian offensive against Islamic State near Palmyra, destroyed 146 targets - Reuters


Russia warplanes in Syria attack IS militants carrying weapons to Palmyra from Raqqah and Deir ez-Zor: source - TASS

 

Russian general says military special forces active in Syria - ABC News


Spotted and surrounded by IS, Russian special forces officer called for fire on himself - RT News


U.S. State Department: Replacing Islamic State with Syrian troops in the city of Palmyra is not a 'great trade-off', The Syrian people should not have to decide between IS and Assad - Fulton News


VIDEO: U.S. State Department: Replacing Islamic State with Syrian troops in the city of Palmyra is not a 'great trade-off' - YouTube


UNESCO Director-General welcomes the liberation of Palmyra - UNESCO World Heritage Centre


VIDEO (starts at 2:25 min): Interview with UNESCO official: ’Palmyra is not just an archaeological site, it is a symbol of Syria’ - YouTube


VIDEO: Drone footage captures ancient Palmyra after Syrian army enters the city, what is left of the archelogical sites destroyed by Islamic State - YouTube

 

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US, Russia push for new Syrian Constitution by August - VOA


Russia says U.S. agrees not to discuss Assad's future for now: Ifax - Reuters


US says it hasn't changed position on Syria's Assad - AP


TRANSCRIPT: Press conference of Kerry and Lavrov on Syria - state.gov


UN envoy De Mistura: Syria peace talks to resume April 9 - AP


VIDEO: De Mistura touts 'essential principles' as latest Syria talks conclude - YouTube


TRANSCRIPT: Press conference by UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura - ReliefWeb


Moscow insists Kurds participation in Syria peace talks - Kurdpress News Aganecy


Russia admits to training Syria Kurds - Kurdpress News Aganecy


U.S. emphasizes 'YPG and PKK are separate entities' - Kurdpress News Aganecy


IS ‘second in command’ killed by US raid in Syria, Sec. Carter says - Yahoo News


Profile of senior Islamic State leader killed by US - The Long War Journal


Jordan begins covert operations against IS in Syria - Middle East Eye


Jordan's king accuses Turkey of sending terrorists to Europe - Middle East Eye


Turkish journalists face secret trial for revealing Ankara arms deliveries to Syria Islamist rebels - The Guardian


IS, oil & Turkey: What RT found in Syrian town liberated from jihadists by Kurds - RT News


Iran deploys Army Special Forces to Syria and Iraq - The Long War Journal


Iraqi army says border area with Syria taken from IS - Al Arabiya English


Iraqi Shiite fighters in Syria boon to Assad, bane to Abadi’s authority - Al Arabiya English


Are North Koreans fighting in Syria? It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. - The Washington Post


Syrians describe horrific torture in jails run by militants of Army of Islam - huffingtonpost.com


Why many jihadi terrorists are criminals before they turn to extremism - huffingtonpost.com

 

To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

Syria News - Mar 14 , 2016


Ahead of peace talks Syria government says the future of Bashar Assad is nonnegotiable, his ouster is a 'red line' - AFP


VIDEO: Syria FM: "We will not negotiate with anyone on the presidency. Bashar [Assad] is red line and belongs to the Syrian people” - YouTube


Syria's opposition leader says Assad must go in a political transition, dead or alive - Business Standard News


VIDEO: Assad must go dead or alive: Syrian opposition leader - YouTube


Kerry accuses Syria FM of 'disrupting' peace talks over Bashar al-Assad red line - The Independent


VIDEO: Kerry claims Syrian FM’s comments on Assad transition ‘disruptive’ - YouTube


UN envoy de Mistura says Kurds must be able to give views on Syria's future even if they are not invited to the peace talks in Geneva - ekurd.net


The PYD says it will not accept any other format for the Kurds' participation in the peace process but the UN Geneva talks  - sputniknews.com


U.S. supports 'proper consultations' with Syrian Kurds in Geneva peace talks, says final decision to invite the PYD left to U.N envoy Staffan de Mistura - ekurd.net


US secretly backs federal future, say Syria's Kurds - Kurdpress News Aganecy


Russia insists on UN sending invitation to Kurds for Syrian peace talks, notes that their participation was blocked by Turkey - sputniknews.com


Russia: Turkish troops in Syria for operation against Kurds - ABC News


Russia asks EU to clarify position on Turkey’s plans for Syrian safe zones - sputniknews.com


Syrian FM praises Kurdish role against IS ahead of Geneva talk - rudaw.net


Disagreement emerges between the Syrian regime and PYD over future of Afrin - BasNews

 

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Al-Qaida affiliated Nusra Front seizes weapons and bases from U.S.-backed Syrian rebels, seven FSA fighters dead and other arrested - AP


More on Nusra Front attack on FSA Division 13 headquarters in Idlib - The Long War Journal


In a nutshell, FSA group Division 13 no longer exists in Maaret AlNoman. City now fully under Nusra - Jenan Moussa on Twitter


Seems main factions Faylaq al-Sham & Ahrar al-Sham haven't done anything to help FSA Division 13 against Nusra - Al-Tamimi on Twitter

 

Nusra Front broke up opposition protest in Idlib last Friday - NOW


VIDEO: Syrian pro-democracy protesters attacked by Jabhat al-Nusra in Maaret AlNoamm last Friday as they return to streets during ceasefire - The Independent


VIDEO: Maaret AlNoamn residents protesting against Nusra - liveuamap.com


VIDEO: Women’s demonstration against Nusra in Maaret AlNoamn - Aghiad Al Kheder on Twitter


Nusra threatened to fire on anti-government protesters last Monday - Yahoo News


Nusra deflects blame for protest suppression, says ‘mandate flag…sows division’ - Syria Direct


MAP: Al-Nusra strongholds in Idlib - washingtoninstitute.org


A jihadi crackdown on demonstrators in Idlib is testing the alliance between two of the insurgency’s most powerful factions, Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham - Syria Deeply


To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

How Would Knowing the Truth Change U.S. Policy on ISIS?

By David Swanson, American Herald Tribune

Scholars have documented the consistent pattern. What makes a country far more likely to be invaded, attacked, "intervened in," or in other words, bombed, is not its lack of democracy or its government's crimes and abuses, or the crimes and abuses of some non-governmental group, but its possession of oil. Yet, with each new war, we are told to imagine that this one is different.

Fight War Not Wars ddf9e

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., is to be applauded for publishing an article headlined "Syria: Another Pipeline War." The very idea that "doing something" about ISIS (which, let's face it, at this point in the imperialization of the U.S. republic means bombing) could be driven by oil might strike many as outrageous. I'm not suggesting that it's rational. U.S. corporations could buy Middle Eastern oil for about the same price without all the wars. The United States would save trillions of dollars and millions of lives that way. It could also avoid some destruction of the earth's climate by, instead, leaving that oil in the ground. I'm also not suggesting that because the real driver of U.S. militarism is an insane passion for oil, the crimes and abuses of ISIS or of Assad or Russia or Iran or Saudi Arabia or Israel or Turkey or anyone else are not real, or are of less concern or more concern than they actually merit, or that well-justified nonviolent opposition to Assad in Syria has never existed, or any similar inanity. Nor am I denying that there are employees of the U.S. government who are actually driven by humanitarian concerns, only that they aren't the employees who have risen to such heights that anyone's ever heard of them.

Senator Bernie Sanders is to be applauded for repeatedly bringing up the CIA's disastrous 1953 overthrow of democracy in Iran, 1954 in Guatemala, etc. But why is that the beginning? What about 1949 Syria? Does that not count because the U.S. president was a Democrat? Like Iran and Vietnam and so many other nations that the United States has attacked, Syria had worked to establish a democracy in line with U.S. rhetoric. But its democracy wasn't supporting a U.S.-proposed oil pipeline between Saudi Arabia and Lebanon. So, the CIA overthrew the president of Syria and installed a dictator.

One explanation for the silence surrounding this incident is how quickly it failed. The Syrian people tossed out their U.S. puppet in 14 weeks. The U.S. government then spent 65 years learning absolutely nothing from the experience. It has spent those years arming and supporting Middle Eastern dictators and religious fighters, while rejecting out of hand all Soviet proposals to leave the region free to govern itself. In 1956, the CIA tried another coup in Syria, arming and funding Islamic militants, but without success. For years, the CIA kept trying -- perhaps less comically than with its efforts to assassinate Fidel Castro, but certainly with greater consequences.

This history is relevant not only as a guide to what not to do, but also because the people of Syria and the region know this history, so it illuminates how they view current events.

Wesley Clark says Syria was on a Pentagon list of governments to overthrow in 2001. Tony Blair says it was on Dick Cheney's list around that time. But Syria had already been on that list for decades.  WikiLeaks has let us know that in 2006, the U.S. government was working to create a civil war in Syria. And we hardly need WikiLeaks when people like Senator John McCain have been openly and repeatedly saying on television that Syria must be overthrown to weaken Iran which must be overthrown. But WikiLeaks does confirm that the U.S. strategy was to incite Assad into a brutal crackdown that would inflame opposition to his rule, and that the U.S. has been arming Islamists in Syria since 2009 when Assad rejected a pipeline from Qatar that would have supplied Europe with Middle Eastern rather than Russian climate-destroying poisons.

At the root of the new U.S. priority for overthrowing Syria is then, once again, the desire to run an oil pipeline through Syria. The heart of the U.S. plan has been, again, arming and training Islamic militants. Two years before any of us heard about ISIS, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) noted that "the Salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood and AQI (now ISIS), are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria. . . . If the situation continues unravelling, there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria (Hasakah and Deir ez-Zor) and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want in order to isolate the Syrian regime." This is why the United States spent years thwarting U.N. efforts for peace in Syria, and dismissed out of hand a 2012 proposal from Russia for peace in Syria. The U.S. government had dreams of a violent overthrow of the Syrian government, and viewed the rise of ISIS as a price worth paying.

There were glitches in the plan. First the British, and U.S., and world populations said no to bombing Syria in 2013 on the same side as al Qaeda. Then al Qaeda (ISIS) released beheading videos that, as intended, motivated U.S. Americans to back war -- against them rather than with them. ISIS saw its potential for growth in appearing to be the leading enemy of the United States, not a U.S. tool for another overthrow. It produced videos imploring the United States to attack it. But in so doing, it didn't isolate the Syrian government; rather it united the world with the Syrian government. The U.S. government began denying it had ever met ISIS, or blaming Saudi Arabia and Turkey for supporting ISIS (while doing little to cut off that support).

But the origins of ISIS are not really in dispute. "ISI[S] is a direct outgrowth of al-Qaeda in Iraq that grew out of our invasion," admitted President Obama. The U.S. military destroyed Iraq and disbanded without disarming its military. Then it divided Iraq along sectrarian lines and brutalized people for years in prison camps where they were able to organize and plot vengeance. The U.S. armed Iraq, and al Qaeda/ISIS seized those weapons. The U.S. overthrew the government of Libya, and its weapons spread all over the region. And the U.S. armed and trained fighters for Syria, playing into Saudi Arabia's desire for overthrow and now its newfound desire to fight more wars, as well as Turkey's desire to attack Kurds. Secretary of State John Kerry admitted to Congress on September 3, 2013, that Saudi Arabia had offered to foot the bill for a U.S. invasion of Syria -- which sounds a lot like the foreign policy vision of candidate Bernie Sanders when he's compelled to present one. In fact, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar financed the U.S. arming of Syrian fighters including ISIS (Sanders dreams of Saudi Arabia financing a war against ISIS). The Pentagon dumped a half billion dollars into arming and training fighters, something the CIA had long been doing at a cost of billions. "Four or five" loyal fighters were the Pentagon's result. The rest had apparently ceased to be "moderate" murderers and become "extremist" murderers. How many got themselves armed and "trained" more than once, as Afghans have had a habit of doing, we don't know.

Why was the U.S. public willing to tolerate new U.S. war-making in Iraq and Syria in 2014–2015, after having opposed it in 2013? This time the advertised enemy was not the Syrian government, but terrorists scarier than al Qaeda, and supposedly unrelated to al Qaeda, called ISIS. And ISIS was shown to be cutting the throats of Americans on videos. And something switched off in people's brains and they stopped thinking—with a few exceptions. A few journalists pointed out that the Iraqi government bombing Iraqi Sunnis was in fact driving the latter to support ISIS. Even Newsweek published a clear-eyed warning that ISIS would not last long unless the United States saved it by bombing it. Matthew Hoh warned that the beheadings were bait not to be taken.

The public and the media swallowed it whole, and the U.S. government almost choked. It had wanted to enter the war on the same side as ISIS. Now it had an opportunity to enter against ISIS. It viewed this as a means of entering on both sides by making a case for arming fighters who would oppose both ISIS and Assad, even if such fighters didn't exist.

To make the new war more respectable, along came the supposed need to rescue civilians trapped on a mountaintop and awaiting death at the hands of ISIS. The story wasn't completely false, but its details were murky. Many of the people left the mountain or refused to leave the mountain where they preferred to stay, before a U.S. rescue mission could actually be created. And the U.S. seemed to drop bombs more with a goal of protecting oil than protecting people (four air strikes near the mountain, many more near oil-rich Erbil). But, whether it helped those people or not, a U.S. war was created, and the war planners never looked back.

The world, as represented at the United Nations, didn't completely fall for it and didn't authorize this war any more than the proposed attack a year earlier, in large part because the UN had authorized a supposed humanitarian rescue in Libya in 2011 and seen that authorization predictably and swiftly misused to justify a wider war and the overthrow of a government.

In addition to the dubious claims about people needing to be rescued on a mountain, the United States also pulled out that old standby of saving U.S. lives, namely the lives of Americans in the oil-rush town of Erbil, all of whom could have been put onto a single airplane and flown out of there had there been a real need to rescue them.

Completely false, on the other hand, was another story about evil. Just in case people were not sufficiently scared, the White House and Pentagon actually invented a non-existent terrorist organization, which they named the Khorasan Group, and which CBS News called "a more immediate threat to the U.S. Homeland." While ISIS was worse than al Qaeda and al Qaeda worse than the Taliban, this new monster was depicted as worse than ISIS and plotting the immediate blowing up of U.S. airplanes. No evidence of this was offered, or apparently required by "journalists." One U.S. war makers were safely into a new war, all mention of the Khorosan Group ended.

If you weren't frightened enough, and if you didn't care enough about people on a mountain to drop bombs on people in a valley, there was also your patriotic duty to overcome "intervention fatigue," of which U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power began writing and speaking, actually warning that if we paid too much attention to what bombing places like Libya had done to them we'd fail in our obligation to support the bombing of new places like Syria. Soon enough, the U.S. corporate media was hosting debates that ranged from advocacy for launching one type of war all the way to advocacy for launching a little bit different type of war. A study by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting found that inclusion of antiwar guests in the major U.S. media was even more lacking in the 2014 buildup to war than it had been in the 2003 run-up to the Iraq invasion.

U.S. interest in war in Syria and Iraq since 2014 has taken on this new guise of unavoidable opposition to Evil. But U.S. interest in overthrowing the government of Syria has remained front and center, despite the disasters created in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other "liberated" nations. As in each of those other wars, this one has U.S. weapons on both sides, and U.S. interests on both sides. As in the "war on terror" as a whole, this war is creating more terrorism and fueling more anti-U.S. hatred, not protecting the United States, to which ISIS is not a serious threat. More people have been hurt at Donald Trump rallies and far more killed by cigarettes or automobiles than by ISIS in the United States. What attracts disturbed people in the United States and the world to ISIS is, in large part the counterproductive U.S. attacks on ISIS.

If U.S. motives were humanitarian, it would cease fueling the violence, and it would not be arming wars and crackdowns by vicious governments around the globe including in the Middle East, perhaps most prominently right now Saudi Arabia, the leading purchaser of U.S. weapons which bombs civilians in Yemen using those weapons, murders far more individuals at home than ISIS has, and which has actually sponsored significant terrorism in the United States.

Tim Clemente told Robert F. Kennedy Jr. that he saw a major difference between the 2003- war on Iraq and the more recent war on Syria: "the millions of military aged men who are fleeing the battlefield for Europe rather than staying to fight for their communities. 'You have this formidable fighting force and they are all running away. I don't understand how you can have millions of military aged men running away from the battlefield. In Iraq, the bravery was heartbreaking—I had friends who refused to leave the country even though they knew they would die. They'd just tell you it's my country, I need to stay and fight,' Clemente said. The obvious explanation is that the nation's moderates are fleeing a war that is not their war. They simply want to escape being crushed between the anvil of Assad's Russian backed tyranny and the vicious Jihadi Sunni hammer that [the U.S. government] had a hand in wielding in a global battle over competing pipelines. You can't blame the Syrian people for not widely embracing a blueprint for their nation minted in either Washington or Moscow. The super powers have left no options for an idealistic future that moderate Syrians might consider fighting for. And no one wants to die for a pipeline."

Kennedy proposes as a first U.S. step to resolve the crisis: cease consuming oil from the Middle East. I would simplify that to: cease consuming oil. Putting Europe onto Middle Eastern oil instead of Russian oil is not just about U.S. energy use. It's about rivalry with Russia. The United States needs to go renewable and sustainable in its energy use and its thinking. It owes the Middle East reparations and aid on a massive scale. It owes the world assistance in the greening of energy on a massive scale. Such projects would, of course, cost less financially and in every other way than continued counterproductive militarism.

This will not happen unless people learn history, including the history of the leadup to World War II, the myths about which sustain every U.S. loyalty to the institution of war. That means taking huge leaps beyond the discussions of this past Sunday's presidential debate regarding schools with mold and rats and mass shootings. It means a system of communication in which there is just no place for something like CNN. We will remake our media and our schools, or we will destroy ourselves and have no idea how we did it.

David Swanson is the author of War Is A Lie: Second Edition, to be published by Just World Books on April 5, 2016.

Syria News - Mar 5 , 2016


In its first week, Syria truce brings sharp drop in violence - AP


Syria accord lays ground for vital progress, say aid chiefs - aa.com


UN delivers aid to rebel towns east of Syria capital - Al Arabiya English


Water returns to Syria’s war-torn Aleppo - Al Arabiya English


Syrians resume peaceful anti-government street protests in rebel-held areas - DW.COM


VIDEO: Syria’s first major public protests in years - Fusion


Truce reached with Syria’s Jaysh al-Islam, opposition groups: Russian MoD - Sputnik International


Islamic State’s governor for Aleppo reportedly killed in airstrike - The Long War Journal


IS, al-Nusra declare mutual ceasefire in southern Syria, it comes after two days of fighting between the two organizations - The Times of Israel


Is ISIS going broke? - CNN


Is the Islamic State hurting? The President’s point man on ISIS speaks out - The New Yorker

 

------------------------------------------------

France, Britain, Germany urge Syrian opposition to attend peace talks - Yahoo News


Syria opposition: Circumstances not suitable for peace talks - AP


UN envoy optimistic about the ceasefire, says Syrians should decide Assad's fate - Yahoo News


VIDEO: UN envoy insists Syria peace talks have momentum - France 24


Assad: Syrian ceasefire a ‘glimmer of hope’ - VOA


Putin: Syrian regime poll ‘does not interfere’ with peace process - Al Arabiya English


Large landing warship to deliver supplies for Russian air task force in Syria: source - TASS


Underwater and underhanded: Russian submarines come to the Mideast - Observer


All hands on deck: Russian military sets up high-tech radar system in Syria - Sputnik International


Armenia pulled into Russia-Turkey clash in Syria - Washington Times


Russia has been 'helpful, and… cooperative' in Syria peace process: State Dept - sputniknews.com


GOP foreign policy hawks declare war on Trump, some say they could vote for Hillary Clinton - POLITICO

 

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Kurds receive no official invitation to join Next Syria peace talks - Sputnik


Syrian peace talks without Kurds 'incomplete', Russian FM says - ekurd.net


Kurdish YPG accuses Syrian Arab opposition in Aleppo of violating deal - ekurd.net


43 YPG, 140 IS forces were killed during clashes on Geri Spi: Kurdish official - Kurdpress News Aganecy


Kurd-led fighters take key hill from Nusra Front - Kurdpress News Aganecy


Turkey ‘protects & supplies’ Al-Nusra camps at its border: Syria’s YPG (VIDEO) - RT News


Russian MoD accuses Turkey of ongoing hostilities in Syria's Aleppo, Idlib as it ensures steady supply of weapons to terrorists and keeps shelling Kurdish militia - Sputnik


Turkey not shelled Syrian Kurdish YPG since truce: Ankara official - ekurd.net


Erdogan accuses Turkey's constitutional court of breaching Constitution, by releasing two journalists arrested for investigating the delivery of weapons from Ankara to radical groups in Syria - Sputnik


Erdoğan: Prosecutors may object to the release of the journalists who unveiled a story on MIT trucks delivering weapons to radical groups in Syria - todayszaman.com


Freed journalist says no response came after seeking MİT’s view on trucks story - Cihan


Turkey seizes control opposition Zaman newspaper linked to Gulen - BBC News


VIDEO: Turkish police raid Zaman HQs, fire tear gas on readers after gov’t takeover - todayszaman.com


Jordan foils Isis terror plot as Saudi Arabia calls for Syria's Arab neighbours to pick a side - ibtimes.co.uk


Saudis ready to give Syrian rebels missiles against Russian warplanes and tanks - debka.com


Newly translated WikiLeaks Saudi cable: Overthrow the Syrian regime 'by all means available', but play nice with Russia – Levant Report


To contact Bartolo email peaceloverblog[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

A Cease-Fire to Re-Load or to Build Peace?

A cease-fire, even a partial one by only some of the parties to the war in Syria, is the perfect first step -- but only if it's widely understood as a first step.

Almost none of the news coverage I've seen speaks to what purpose the cease-fire serves. And most of it focuses on the cease-fire's limitations and who predicts someone else will violate it, and who openly promises to violate it. The big outside parties, or at least Russia, plus the Syrian government, will go right on bombing selected targets, which will go right on shooting back, while Turkey has announced that ceasing to kill Kurds would just be taking the whole thing a bit too far (Kurds the United States is arming against other people the United States is arming, by the way).

The United States distrusts Russia on this, while Russia distrusts the United States, various Syrian opposition groups distrust each other and the Syrian government, everybody distrusts Turkey and Saudi Arabia -- the Turks and Saudis most of all, and U.S. neocons remain obsessed with Iranian evil. The predictions of failure could be self-fulfilling, as they seem to have been before.

Vague talk of a "political solution," which parties take to mean completely incompatible things, is not a second step designed to make a cease-fire succeed. It's a fifth or sixth or seventh step. The second step that is missing, after ceasing to directly kill people, is to cease facilitating the killing of people by others.

This was what was needed when Russia proposed peace in 2012 and the United States brushed it aside. This is what was needed after the chemical weapons agreement in 2013. Instead the United States held off on bombing, under public and international pressure, but escalated its arming and training of others to kill, and its winking at Saudi Arabia's and Turkey's and others' fueling of the violence.

Truth be told, this was what was needed when President Barack Obama was allowing Hillary Clinton to convince him to overthrow the government of Libya in 2011. Outside parties need an agreement to cease supplying weapons and fighters, and an agreement to supply unprecedented levels of humanitarian aid. The goal should be disarming those who would kill, supporting those who would join the violence out of economic need, and countering the highly successful propaganda of groups that live off the assaults on them by outside nations.

ISIS is thriving in Libya now and going after the oil there. Italy, which has a shameful history in Libya, is showing some reluctance to worsening the situation there by continuing to attack. The point is not that local forces can defeat ISIS but that nonviolence would do less harm than violence in the short, middle, and long term. Hillary Clinton, for her part, is bordering on the criminally insane, or at least the criminal, as she just spoke about Libya in her most recent debate on the model of a permanent occupation of Germany, Japan, or Korea. So much for hope and change.

The second step, the public commitment to which could make the first step work, would involve the United States withdrawing from the region and insisting on Turkey and Saudi Arabia and others ceasing to fuel the violence. It would involve Russia and Iran pulling out all forces and canceling backwards ideas like Russia's new proposal to arm Armenia. Russia should ship nothing but food and medicine to Syria. The United States should do the same and commit to no longer seeking the overthrow of the Syrian government -- not because it's a good government, but because it has to be overthrown nonviolently by forces that actually mean well, not by a distant imperial power.

Secretary of State John Kerry's already announced plan B is to partition Syria, meaning to continue to fuel the mass murder and suffering, while hoping to diminish the size of the state allied to Iran and Russia, in favor of empowering the terrorists that the United States empowered in Afghanistan in the 1980s and in Iraq in the 2000s and right now in Yemen. The U.S. delusion that yet another overthrow, yet again empowering small groups of killers, will fix things is a root cause of the conflict at this point. But so is the Russian delusion that bombing just the right people will bring peace and stability. Both nations have stumbled into a cease-fire, but seem to think of it as an opportunity to appease a bit of global outrage while reloading. If you want to know how the cease-fire is going, watch the weapons companies' stocks.

Speaking Events

David Swanson at St. Michael’s College, Colchester, VT, October 5, 2016.

David Swanson in Fairbanks, Alaska, October 22, 2016.

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