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How Europeans Are Opposing Drone and Robot Warfare: An Overview of the Anti-Drone Movement in Europe

By Elsa Rassbach, Drones Campaign | Truthout

So far only three countries are known to have used armed combat drones to carry out attacks: Israel, the US, and the UK. But this could soon change.

Analysts see demand for military UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones) quadrupling over the next decade. Global spending on drone technology is expected to jump from an estimated $6.6 billion this year to $11.4 billion in 2022. Israeli weapons manufacturers have long been actively marketing military drones to other countries, and in the fall of 2012, the US announced that as many as 66 countries would be eligible to buy US drones under new Defense Department guidelines. However, the US Congress and State Department have final approval of drone exports on a case-by- case basis and have denied the request of NATO-partner Turkey to purchase Predator drones because of ongoing tensions between Turkey and Israel. Soon, however, countries that cannot obtain US or Israeli drones may be able to purchase them from weapons manufacturers in other countries such as China and South Africa.

European weapons manufacturers also seek a share of the drone market, not only for European military use, but also for export to other countries. Though it will likely be many years before a European-made combat drone will be operable, defense departments of several European countries are seeking to acquire for their arsenals US or Israeli combat drones capable of carrying weapons for targeted killing.

Italy requested US permission to weaponize the Italian fleet of six US Reaper two years ago. In May 2012, the Obama administration announced that it would soon notify the US Congress of plans to sell Italy "weaponization" kits, a move that, according to the Wall Street Journal, "could open the door for sales of advanced hunter-killer drone technology to other allies." But so far there have been no reports that approval to Italy has yet been granted.

In May 2013, France announced the purchase two unarmed US Reaper drones for the intervention in Mali, and the drones could later be armed. Holland is already using drones extensively for domestic police surveillance and is reportedly considering purchase of US Reaper drones for military purposes. And the German Bundeswehr, which some years ago leased three Israeli Heron drones for surveillance in Afghanistan, is now negotiating with the US and Israel to acquire armed combat drones.

Read the rest at Truthout.

UK government refusing to grant visa for drone strike victims

From Reprieve
 
The British government is refusing to grant visas to three Pakistani drone strike victims, including Noor Khan, who is suing the UK over its role in intelligence-sharing with the CIA. All three men had been invited to speak at a Parliamentary meeting on drones that was scheduled to take place today. Last week, the Rehman family - whose grandmother was killed in a drone strike - travelled to the US to speak at a drone strike having been granted visas.
 
Noor Khan has launched legal action over the British Government’s refusal to come clean on its policy of providing intelligence to support the CIA’s covert drone war. Reports have stated that GCHQ shares intelligence with the US in support of their drone programme, which is considered to violate international law. 

Noor Khan was to be accompanied by Kareem Khan, whose son and brother were killed in a strike on News Year’s Eve 2009. Kareem Khan is, along with his lawyers the Foundation for Fundamental Rights and Reprieve, suing Jonathan Banks, the former CIA Station Chief in Pakistan, and John Rizzo, former CIA General Counsel, for the murder of his son and brother. Noor Behram, a journalist who has been investigating and photographing drone strikes in the tribal areas of Pakistan for almost six years, was also scheduled to attend.
 
Mr Khan, Mr Behram, and Mr Khan were due to speak at a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on drones hosted by MP Tom Watson, who had written letters supporting their visa applications. They were to be joined on a panel by Robert Greenwald, a US documentary filmmaker whose new film, Unmanned, profiles the men’s stories.
 
Cori Crider, Reprieve’s Strategic Director, said: "It is an unfortunate coincidence that David Cameron is refusing to grant a visa to the very same man who is suing his government over its role in the drone strike that killed his father. Just last week the Rehman family were able to tell their story to the US yet the UK seems unwilling to extend a similar courtesy to these three victims of the drone programme. The British government must reconsider and grant the men visas." 
 
MP Tom Watson, said: "It's very disppointing that visas have not been granted in time for the drone victims invited by the APPG on drones to speak today. Last week the Rehman family travelled to the US and testified to Congress about their grandmother who was killed by a CIA drone. The UK must allow Noor Khan and other survivors into the country so that we too can hear these lost voices."

What’s done abroad can be done at home too...: Is NSA spying really about blackmail?

By Dave Lindorff


A revealing page-one article in today’s New York Times (“Tap on Merkel Provides Peek a Vast Spy Net”) reports on how the NSA’s global spying program, dating back at least to early in the Bush/Cheney administration, was vacuuming up the phone conversations (and no doubt later the internet communications) of not just leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, but opposition leader Merkel before her party took power in Germany.


War Is A Crime

Johan Galtung | Inter Press Service
 

Nobody has brought this simple message to the world like the Perdana Global Peace Foundation in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. As the leader, Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s fourth prime minister, says: “Peace for us simply means the absence of war. We must never be deflected from this simple objective”.
 
In this column, Johan Galtung, rector of the TRANSCEND Peace University and author of "50 Years - 100 Peace and Conflict Perspectives", writes that waging war turns states into criminals
 
So they organise compelling exhibitions and conferences to highlight the atrocities and horrors of war, starting with World War I, often in cooperation with the Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta University in Indonesia.

A very clear message from the Southeastern part of the world to the Northwestern part: Stop It! All your rules of war add up to its legitimation: wars get ever worse as measured by the percentage of non-combatant, civilian casualties – from about 10 percent in World War I to 90 percent in the Vietnam war and other wars at the end of the 20th century. They dare refer to crimes as “unintended consequences” or “collateral damage”.

Take Norway, a “peace nation”, as an example, not the United States and Israel with their concept of being chosen, and their exceptionalism. See what Norway does against the spirit of U.N. Security Council resolution 1973 aimed at protecting civilians, promoting a cease-fire and mediating a political solution in Libya. And against U.N. Charter Article 2 outlawing the use of war.

According to testimony given by pilots to the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, 25 percent of the bombing was planned with targets selected in advance. The rest were chosen by the pilots who, 40,000 feet up, decided that buildings, roads and people they saw were targets: “We were told to fly into an enormous area the size of Southern Norway and search for targets ourselves. We were used to clearance from somebody on the ground, but did not get it.”

But they did get regime change. Norway obeyed orders, doing its part.

This is criminal activity, like mass murderers gone amok shooting wildly, killing whatever moves. Who ordered it? The Labour Party prime minister, foreign minister and defence minister in a “red-green” (meaning brown) coalition. Who did it? The pilots.

According to the Nuremberg Tribunal, the latter cannot claim they only followed orders; and according to the Tokyo Tribunal the former cannot claim that they were unaware of what happened. It is the duty of the pilots to assess the legality of what happens, and of the politicians to know what happens.

The case is now being made at the European Human Rights Court in Strasbourg, the International Criminal Court (where Norway does not enjoy U.S. protection), and the Norwegian Constitutional Court.

They will encounter incomprehension in Norway: We, the perfect ones? Crimes?

But we must globalise crimes against humanity – a crime committed somewhere is a crime committed everywhere, like in the case of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

A criminal can in the future be arrested in any state in the world, extradited or tried where he is arrested. The Mother of parliaments in London showed the way as it also did for the war in Syria; a solvable crisis.

This would limit their freedom of travel as it already does for some top U.S. and Israeli politicians. But beyond that there is another approach: excommunicating such states from the inter-state system and the U.N., breaking or downgrading bilateral diplomatic relations.

Trade is not the issue; state legitimacy, unless that state itself takes action indicting the “warlords”, is. The present system gives a U.S. president the right almost single-handedly to press the nuclear button.

Where does this madness come from? From the Westphalia 1648 “peace” giving states the right to declare war?

That does not explain the concentration of the “right” to engage in mass murder at the top of the state pyramid.

The Abrahamic god kills massively – more in the Torah and the Bible than in the Qur’an; to be a King Dei gratia, by the grace of god, bestows the same right on kings, transferred to their successors – the presidents and prime ministers.

Not strange that we find most belligerence in the West. Democracy or not, it does not matter. The “grace of god” was transferred to the people, in vox populi vox Dei, leading to the grotesque idea that democracies have more of a mandate to kill. As if democracy was about killing and not about the non-violent transfer of power and resolution of conflicts. The exact opposite of, and the remedies, to war and killing.

We are moving in this direction. As inter-state war become more rare, wars will stand out as exceptional, illegitimate, and illegal under the U.N. Charter.

The old laws of nations applied to inter-state wars, but that distinction loses its significance as the world evolves. R2P – “responsibility to protect” (which authorises military intervention as a last resort) – kills in the territory of other states, unlike self-defence by defensive military in one’s own.

Could ulterior motives be behind the dubious idea of killing people to save people? Have all other means really been used? Not diplomats trained in promoting the interests of their own nation, but massive non-violent invasion from the outside as a buffer, protecting some while impeding others?

Deep mediation applied to all parties to the conflict, not only two chosen to fit the Abrahamic search for God vs Satan, translated into People vs Hitler and his likes; readily issuing Hitler-certificates?

Not strange if patriarchy and patriotism are yielding to parity and globalism. The Fifth Commandment, Thou shalt not kill, was for in-group only. But today we are ever more one big in-group.

Using states to kill makes the killers outlaws. Criminals. Stop it.

International anti-war conference - 30 November



1) International anti-war conference - 30 November
2) White poppies for Remembrance Day
3) No Glory: The Real History of the First World War
 


International anti-war conference - 30 November

10am (registrations from 9am) Emmanuel Centre, Westminster, London

The year 2013 will be remembered as the year when a British prime minister was defeated in his attempt to launch another war. The historic parliamentary vote in August which narrowly opposed air strikes on Syria forced David Cameron onto the back foot and has forced imminent overt military intervention there off the agenda.

What implications does this have for questions of war and peace? The declining superpower, the United States, is facing growing military and economic challenges, but will respond with more militarism and war.
Obama is sending more military resources to encircle China, and while the Middle East remains a key US preoccupation, the West is ramping up its military presence on the African continent.

Imperialism and war are the themes of this Stop the War conference. We have campaigners and speakers from across the globe who will be in London on 30th November. We will discuss NATO's wars, the history of British imperialism, the wars in Africa, what's happening in the Middle East and much more. This conference is a vital opportunity to analyse and debate the fast changing and dangerous situation and plan how best to step up opposition to the West's imperial wars.

Speakers include:

Jeremy Scahill | Diane Abbott MP | Tariq Ali | Tony Benn | Jonathan Steele | Owen Jones | Manik Mukherjee | Lindsey German | Mitra Qayoom | Kate Hudson | Andrew Murray | Sami Ramadani

Tickets cost £15/£10
 

White poppies for Remembrance Day

Why I won't wear a red poppy on Remembrance Day
By Lindsey German

It's that time of year again. The poppy appeal has been launched in the run up to Remembrance Day. But I won't be wearing one. Instead my poppy will be white, as a symbol of peace.

Remembrance Day is on November 11th, to mark the date on which the carnage of the First World War ended. The red poppy was adopted as the symbol of remembrance because of the large numbers of those flowers that flourished in some of the most deadly battlefields ever seen.

For much of the nearly 100 years since remembrance began, the symbol and associated ceremonies have been low key, without much wider political significance. All that has changed in recent years. It's hard not to see the present poppy appeals as highly politicised. The events are organised by the British legion. The slogan this year is 'Shoulder to Shoulder with all who serve.'

Stop the War is now selling white poppies for remembrance day through the Stop the War web site


No Glory: The Real History of the First World War

Available now: a new 36-page pamphlet by historian Neil Faulkner looks at the real reasons for the outbreak of the First World War. This pamphlet is part of the No Glory campaign.

No Glory in War 1914-1918 is a national campaign of political, cultural, and educational activities that aim to tell the truth about the First World War, to oppose ‘nationalist’ interpretations of the conflict, and to use the occasion to remember the dead, learn the lessons, and promote international solidarity and peace. For more information, go to www.noglory.org

Contents:

  1. The First World War today
  2. Their history and ours
  3. How it started
  4. Could it have been stopped?
  5. Were the generals to blame?
  6. Total war
  7. How it ended
  8. A peace to end all peace
  9. A century of war (and counting)
  10. Open letter

Cost: £4 (the monthly wage of a married World War One soldier, with three children - and the cost of a pint of beer today). Postage is £1.

ISBN: 970-0-9927166-0-8
For wholesale enquiries please call Stop the War on 020 7561 4830.

Mayor Kang from Jeju speaks about the struggle against the US naval base

From CNDUK.org

Written by Dong-Kyun Kang (guest post)

Mayor Kang from Jeju addresses CND Conference 2013"I am Dong-Kyun Kang, the Mayor of a small village called Gangjeong in Jeju. I am so grateful for this opportunity to speak to you. It’s very meaningful. So far, I’ve heard many stories from around the world which make me very scared and worried for our descendants.

Given that fresh spring water is such a precious and scarce resource on Jeju island, the 450 year old village of Gangjeong situated in the southern part of the island was always the envy of other villages as its possession of an abundant spring water supply which always flowed freely ensured it was always ranked first among Jeju’s villages.

During the construction of the naval base, many international activists have visited Gangjeong and others in the process have been denied entry and deported. Other peace activists have been prevented from leaving the country. I’m keenly aware and saddened that many have suffered from many forms of repression and for their sacrifice I feel so grateful and promise to stand with you in solidarity.

You’ve now seen that in recent history there have been two major events in Korea – in 1948 and 1950. As you are aware there was the major upheaval of the 1950 Korean War which broke out in June 25 – a tumultuous national tragedy. One could be forgiven for thinking that this was a family feud that led to the country being divided but the reality was that the war was the result of an ideological battle between the major powers at the time and Korea was its victim. This continues until the present time.

The April 3, 1948 Jeju uprising led to the brutal suppression of the population by state security forces which resulted in the massacre of the islanders of Jeju and behind the slaughter was the US government, the self-proclaimed keeper of the peace! A conservative estimate puts the number who died from the mass killings at over 30,000 out of a population of 280,000 people at that time.

Fortunately, in 2005 President Roh apologized on behalf of the state to the people of Jeju and acknowledged for the very first time the states brutal suppression and massacre of the people of Jeju. He went on to declare Jeju as an ‘island of world peace’.

Peace can only be sustained through peaceful means. Peace obtained through force and violent means is not sustainable and in time will be forced to surrender to a larger force or power. However, I believe that dialogue and mutual understanding between people who work together in mutual respect to build a sustainable future is the key to a sustainable peace.

The location of Korea positioned in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and particularly the strategic location of Jeju Island is key to understanding its strategic importance to the world’s major powers. However, behind the construction of the naval base in Jeju is the US government. Will Jeju genuinely remain an island of peace or an island of military bases heightening tensions between the world’s major powers? This is a central question that needs addressing.

The naval base project is a national security project. I think one defines genuine national policy as seeking to put the interests of its citizens and their happiness and genuine well-being first and foremost. Likewise national security is not only about the state’s administration and its military but should seek to ensure genuine human security for all its citizens. Genuine national policy and national security should seek to secure the confidence and trust of all its citizens which in turn forms the true pillar and foundation for its policies. Working together hand in hand with the people should be the central tenet of its policies.

Aside from the naval base construction creating the strong possibility of a situation of crisis for Korea and Jeju into the future, the village community of Gangjeong is being destroyed with its people being evicted. With the construction of the naval base the navy claims that the national security of the state is its primary objective followed by the economic development of the region and its third objective – the navy and residents coexisting in mutual cooperation and to the benefit of all. However, the construction of the naval base rather than enhancing and bolstering national security will have the opposite effect of increasing already existing tensions between global powers in the region resulting in Jeju being caught in the crosshairs of conflict in the future. How therefore can the building of a naval base bolster regional economic development in such a tense and dangerous environment?

The state in implementing its policies should first consult the people who will likely be impacted the most and endeavour to seek the consent of its citizens through due process which is the most important consideration and an important building block of any democratic society. Even with the project underway listening courteously to and reflecting on the opinions of the other is surely important in trying to achieve real cooperation. The need for transparency in implementing state projects is paramount. However, the naval base has been enforced from the beginning without any consultation on the decision making process and devoid of any semblance of transparency leaving the Gangjeong villagers in the dark about what was going on. Those villagers opposed to the base are in the process of having their lands expropriated without any dialogue or due process of consultation. The villagers are completely perplexed and dismayed by the conflict that has arisen in their village with the naval base decision having separated families and divided parents with siblings becoming enemies and yesterday’s friends becoming today’s enemies resulting in the collapse of the community.

Fully aware of the stark implications of proceeding with plans to build the base the central government and navy planned and designed the base together with the backing of the US government. As a means of promoting the base and quashing any form of dissent, protestors have been treated with great hostility and denounced as leftists and North Korean sympathizers by the military. The brutal enforcement of the base with complete disrespect and arrogance has resulted in the military losing whatever respect it may once have had.

Together with the mobilization of the police and state power is the major issue of the lack of due legal process and the arrests of over 700 activists, charges having been filed against 400 activists with 25 cases of activists having been imprisoned to date. There has to be a fair way to resolve such conflicts but the legal system and court process has failed to provide this.

With the full power of the police state brought to bear on villagers and activists alike it is undeniable that people will get hurt as they are literally being dragged away like animals battered and bruised. However the courageous and brave efforts of so many over the course of a 7 year long struggle are not in vain but are the source of a precious groundwork that is the basis for a bright future for Gangjeong and Korea alike. These continuing efforts will continue to bear fruit long into the future.

The majestic natural environment of Jeju is commonly referred to as beauty inherited from the gods and is home to the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and three UNESCO World Natural Heritage sites. In 2012 The New Wonders Foundation voted Jeju Island as one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World. In September 2012 the World Conservation Congress opened in Jeju where it was hoped that it would promote the international consensus of Jeju as a ‘World Environmental Capital City’. However, this ideal is being undermined by the destruction of the environment caused by the building of the naval base which is a grave threat to genuine national security.

Some concluding remarks.

The 7 year long struggle has left many exhausted and bruised after enduring much pain and suffering along the way. There have been moments of despair but the determination to struggle and defend our village and home and pass it on to future generations has been the enduring legacy and mainstay of the struggle and has been a sacred calling. A new hope springs from the end of despair. This new hope comes from people seeking their true human fulfilment as beings living in harmony with nature, living together in peace.

Instead of Jeju being designated an island of military installations we will work to ensure that it will be known as an island of peace, an island of natural beauty and conservation. Also, together with all the villagers of Gangjeong and the people of Jeju we truly desire that global citizens and true lovers of nature and world peace will have the freedom to gather in this beautiful place without the impediment of a ghastly and ugly military base which aggravates existing tensions between global powers. Therefore, what I truly wish is for everyone around the world to sing the peace song of Gangjeong and to keep it in their hearts. Ladies and Gentlemen, Please join together in solidarity and help us.

Please help us!

No Naval Base!

Thanks so much for your attention."

International anti-war conference




On 30 November Stop the War is organising an International Anti-War Conference.
 
Activists will be attending from around the world. Speakers include Jeremy Scahill from the US, Explo Nani Kofu from Ghana, Manik Mukherjee from India, Sami Ramadani from Iraqi Democrats against War and Occupation, Mitra Qayoom from Afghans for Peace, Tariq Ali, Tony Benn, Owen Jones, Lindsey German, Kate Hudson, Seamus Milne and more.
 
The conference will be taking place in the run up to next year's NATO summit to be held in Britain and after a major setback for the Western powers who tried but failed to launch a major intervention against Syria. The anti-war movement played a major role in this defeat for Obama, Cameron and their allies. 
 
Recent raids into Somalia and Libya show that the western powers are ready to go back on to the attack. Obama is sending more military resources to encircle China, and while the Middle East remains the US's main preoccupation, the West is ramping up its military presence on the African continent.
 
This event will be a chance to analyse and debate the fast moving and dangerous situation and to discuss how to respond including plans to protest at next year's NATO conference.
 
Please book your places here: http://bit.ly/19MK775
 
Stop the War Steering Committee
Stop the War's steering committee is taking place this Saturday at 1pm at the 52 Club, 52 Gower Street, London WC1E 6EB.
 
The meeting will examine the situation since the Syrian debacle and work out campaigning priorities. There will be discussion of local campaigning and the fantastic growth of Stop the War in the colleges.
 
Each local group - including university groups - is encouraged to send one delegate and bring observers if possible.
 
No Glory campaign launch
Remembering World War One: Campaigning for peace in music and words
 
With Billy Bragg, Elvis McGonagall, Kika Markham, Roger Lloyd Pack, George Hlawiczka, John Landor, I Maestri, Sally Davies, Jeremy Corbyn MP and others.
 
Performances include Vaughan Williams' the Lark Ascending played by George Hlawiczka, violin, with I Maestri and London Musical Arts Orchestra conducted by John Landor.
 
Friday 25 October, 7.30pm, St James's Church, Piccadilly, London.
 
Tickets £13/£6 concessions. Call 020 7561 4830 or book online: http://bit.ly/1dWpzui

The U.S. Has Turned Vicenza, Italy, into a Military Camp

How the Pentagon Is Using Your Tax Dollars to Turn Italy into a Launching Pad for the Wars of Today and Tomorrow
By David Vine
http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175755/

The Pentagon has spent the last two decades plowing hundreds of millions of tax dollars into military bases in Italy, turning the country into an increasingly important center for U.S. military power. Especially since the start of the Global War on Terror in 2001, the military has been shifting its European center of gravity south from Germany, where the overwhelming majority of U.S. forces in the region have been stationed since the end of World War II. In the process, the Pentagon has turned the Italian peninsula into a launching pad for future wars in Africa, the Middle East, and beyond.

At bases in Naples, Aviano, Sicily, Pisa, and Vicenza, among others, the military has spent more than $2 billion on construction alone since the end of the Cold War -- and that figure doesn’t include billions more on classified construction projects and everyday operating and personnel costs. While the number of troops in Germany has fallen from 250,000 when the Soviet Union collapsed to about 50,000 today, the roughly 13,000 U.S. troops (plus 16,000 family members) stationed in Italy match the numbers at the height of the Cold War.  That, in turn, means that the percentage of U.S. forces in Europe based in Italy has tripled since 1991 from around 5% to more than 15%.

Last month, I had a chance to visit the newest U.S. base in Italy, a three-month-old garrison in Vicenza, near Venice. Home to a rapid reaction intervention force, the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), and the Army’s component of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), the base extends for a mile, north to south, dwarfing everything else in the small city. In fact, at over 145 acres, the base is almost exactly the size of Washington’s National Mall or the equivalent of around 110 American football fields. The price tag for the base and related construction in a city that already hosted at least six installations: upwards of $600 million since fiscal year 2007.

There are still more bases, and so more U.S. military spending, in Germany than in any other foreign country (save, until recently, Afghanistan). Nonetheless, Italy has grown increasingly important as the Pentagon works to change the make-up of its global collection of 800 or more bases abroad, generally shifting its basing focus south and east from Europe’s center. Base expert Alexander Cooley explains: “U.S. defense officials acknowledge that Italy’s strategic positioning on the Mediterranean and near North Africa, the Italian military’s antiterrorism doctrine, as well as the country’s favorable political disposition toward U.S. forces are important factors in the Pentagon’s decision to retain” a large base and troop presence there. About the only people who have been paying attention to this build-up are the Italians in local opposition movements like those in Vicenza who are concerned that their city will become a platform for future U.S. wars.

Base Building

Most tourists think of Italy as the land of Renaissance art, Roman antiquities, and of course great pizza, pasta, and wine. Few think of it as a land of U.S. bases. But Italy’s 59 Pentagon-identified “base sites” top that of any country except Germany (179), Japan (103), Afghanistan (100 and declining), and South Korea (89).

Publicly, U.S. officials say there are no U.S. military bases in Italy. They insist that our garrisons, with all their infrastructure, equipment, and weaponry, are simply guests on what officially remain “Italian” bases designated for NATO use. Of course, everyone knows that this is largely a legal nicety.  

No one visiting the new base in Vicenza could doubt that it's a U.S. installation all the way. The garrison occupies a former Italian air force base called Dal Molin. (In late 2011, Italian officials rebranded it “Caserma Del Din,” evidently to try to shed memories of the massive opposition the base has generated.) From the outside, it might be mistaken for a giant hospital complex or a university campus. Thirty one box-like peach-and-cream-colored buildings with light red rooftops dominate the horizon with only the foothills of the Southern Alps as a backdrop. A chain link fence topped by razor wire surrounds the perimeter, with green mesh screens obscuring views into the base.

If you manage to get inside, however, you find two barracks for up to 600 soldiers each. (Off base, the Army is contracting to lease up to 240 newly built homes in surrounding communities.) Two six-floor parking garages that can hold 850 vehicles, and a series of large office complexes, some small training areas, including an indoor shooting range still under construction, as well as a gym with a heated swimming pool, a “Warrior Zone” entertainment center, a small PX, an Italian-style café, and a large dining facility. These amenities are actually rather modest for a large U.S. base. Most of the newly built or upgraded housing, schools, medical facilities, shopping, and other amenities for soldiers and their families are across town on Viale della Pace (Peace Boulevard) at the Caserma Ederle base and at the nearby Villaggio della Pace (Peace Village).

A Pentagon Spending Spree

Beyond Vicenza, the military has been spending mightily to upgrade its Italian bases. Until the early 1990s, the U.S. air base at Aviano, northeast of Vicenza, was a small site known as “Sleepy Hollow.” Beginning with the transfer of F-16s from Spain in 1992, the Air Force turned it into a major staging area for every significant wartime operation since the first Gulf War. In the process, it has spent at least $610 million on more than 300 construction projects (Washington convinced NATO to provide more than half these funds, and Italy ceded 210 acres of land for free.) Beyond these “Aviano 2000” projects, the Air Force has spent an additional $115 million on construction since fiscal year 2004.

Not to be outdone, the Navy laid out more than $300 million beginning in 1996 to construct a major new operations base at the Naples airport. Nearby, it has a 30-year lease on an estimated $400 million “support site” that looks like a big-box shopping mall surrounded by expansive, well-manicured lawns. (The base is located in the Neapolitan mafia’s heartland and was built by a company that has been linked to the Camorra.) In 2005, the Navy moved its European headquarters from London to Naples as it shifted its attention from the North Atlantic to Africa, the Middle East, and the Black Sea. With the creation of AFRICOM, whose main headquarters remain in Germany, Naples is now home to a combined U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa. Tellingly, its website prominently displays the time in Naples, Djibouti, Liberia, and Bulgaria. 

Meanwhile, Sicily has become increasingly significant in the Global War on Terror era, as the Pentagon has been turning it into a major node of U.S. military operations for Africa, which is less than 100 miles away across the Mediterranean. Since fiscal year 2001, the Pentagon has spent more on construction at the Sigonella Naval Air Station -- almost $300 million -- than at any Italian base other than Vicenza. Now the second busiest naval air station in Europe, Sigonella was first used to launch Global Hawk surveillance drones in 2002. In 2008, U.S. and Italian officials signed a secret agreement formally permitting the basing of drones there. Since then, the Pentagon has put out at least $31 million to build a Global Hawk maintenance and operations complex. The drones provide the foundation for NATO’s $1.7 billion Alliance Ground Surveillance system, which gives NATO surveillance capabilities as far as 10,000 miles from Sigonella.

Beginning in 2003, “Joint Task Force Aztec Silence” has used P-3 surveillance planes based at Sigonella to monitor insurgent groups in North and West Africa. And since 2011, AFRICOM has deployed a task force of around 180 marines and two aircraft to the base to provide counterterrorism training to African military personnel in Botswana, Liberia, Djibouti, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Tunisia, and Senegal.

Sigonella also hosts one of three Global Broadcast Service satellite communications facilities and will soon be home to a NATO Joint Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance deployment base and a data analysis and training center. In June, a U.S. Senate subcommittee recommended moving special operations forces and CV-22 Ospreys from Britain to Sicily, since “Sigonella has become a key launch pad for missions related to Libya, and given the ongoing turmoil in that nation as well as the emergence of terrorist training activities in northern Africa.” In nearby Niscemi, the Navy hopes to build an ultra high frequency satellite communications installation, despite growing opposition from Sicilians and other Italians concerned about the effects of the station and its electromagnetic radiation on humans and a surrounding nature reserve.

Amid the build-up, the Pentagon has actually closed some bases in Italy as well, including those in Comiso, Brindisi, and La Maddalena. While the Army has cut some personnel at Camp Darby, a massive underground weapons and equipment storage installation along Tuscany’s coast, the base remains a critical logistics and pre-positioning center enabling the global deployment of troops, weapons, and supplies from Italy by sea. Since fiscal year 2005, it’s seen almost $60 million in new construction.

And what are all these bases doing in Italy? Here’s the way one U.S. military official in Italy (who asked not to be named) explained the matter to me: “I’m sorry, Italy, but this is not the Cold War. They’re not here to defend Vicenza from a [Soviet] attack. They’re here because we agreed they need to be here to do other things, whether that’s the Middle East or the Balkans or Africa.” 

Location, Location, Location

Bases in Italy have played an increasingly important role in the Pentagon’s global garrisoning strategy in no small part because of the country’s place on the map. During the Cold War, West Germany was the heart of U.S. and NATO defenses in Europe because of its positioning along the most likely routes of any Soviet attack into Western Europe. Once the Cold War ended, Germany’s geographic significance declined markedly. In fact, U.S. bases and troops at Europe’s heart looked increasingly hemmed in by their geography, with U.S. ground forces there facing longer deployment times outside the continent and the Air Force needing to gain overflight rights from neighboring countries to get almost anywhere.

Troops based in Italy, by contrast, have direct access to the international waters and airspace of the Mediterranean. This allows them to deploy rapidly by sea or air. As Assistant Secretary of the Army Keith Eastin told Congress in 2006, positioning the 173rd Airborne Brigade at Dal Molin “strategically positions the unit south of the Alps with ready access to international airspace for rapid deployment and forced entry/early entry operations.”

And we’ve seen the Pentagon take advantage of Italy’s location since the 1990s, when Aviano Air Base played an important role in the first Gulf War and in U.S. and NATO interventions in the Balkans (a short hop across the Adriatic Sea from Italy). The Bush administration, in turn, made bases in Italy some of its “enduring” European outposts in its global garrisoning shift south and east from Germany. In the Obama years, a growing military involvement in Africa has made Italy an even more attractive basing option. 

“Sufficient Operational Flexibility”

Beyond its location, U.S. officials love Italy because, as the same military official told me, it’s a “country that offers sufficient operational flexibility.” In other words, it provides the freedom to do what you want with minimal restrictions and hassle.

Especially in comparison to Germany, Italy offers this flexibility for reasons that reflect a broader move away from basing in two of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful nations, Germany and Japan, toward basing in relatively poorer and less powerful ones. In addition to offering lower operating costs, such hosts are generally more susceptible to Washington’s political and economic pressure. They also tend to sign “status of forces agreements” -- which govern the presence of U.S. troops and bases abroad -- that are less restrictive for the U.S. military. Such agreements often offer more permissive settings when it comes to environmental and labor regulations or give the Pentagon more freedom to pursue unilateral military action with minimal host country consultation.

While hardly one of the world’s weaker nations, Italy is the second most heavily indebted country in Europe, and its economic and political power pales in comparison to Germany's.  Not surprisingly, then, as that Pentagon official in Italy pointed out to me, the status of forces agreement with Germany is long and detailed, while the foundational agreement with Italy remains the short (and still classified) 1954 Bilateral Infrastructure Agreement. Germans also tend to be rather exacting when it comes to following rules, while the Italians, he said, “are more interpretive of guidance.”

War + Bases = $ 

The freedom with which the U.S. military used its Italian bases in the Iraq War is a case in point. As a start, the Italian government allowed U.S. forces to employ them even though their use for a war pursued outside the context of NATO may violate the terms of the 1954 basing agreement. A classified May 2003 cable sent by U.S. Ambassador to Italy Melvin Sembler and released by WikiLeaks shows that Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government gave the Pentagon “virtually everything” it wanted. “We got what we asked for,” wrote Sembler, “on base access, transit, and overflights, ensuring that forces... could flow smoothly through Italy to get to the fight.”

For its part, Italy appears to have benefited directly from this cooperation. (Some say that shifting bases from Germany to Italy was also meant as a way to punish Germany for its lack of support for the Iraq War.) According to a 2010 report from Jane’s Sentinel Security Assessment, “Italy’s role in the war in Iraq, providing 3,000 troops to the U.S.-led effort, opened up Iraqi reconstruction contracts to Italian firms, as well as cementing relations between the two allies.” Its role in the Afghan War surely offered similar benefits. Such opportunities came amid deepening economic troubles, and at a moment when the Italian government was turning to arms production as a major way to revive its economy. According to Jane’s, Italian weapons manufacturers like Finmeccanica have aggressively tried to enter the U.S. and other markets. In 2009, Italian arms exports were up more than 60%.

In October 2008, the two countries renewed a Reciprocal Defense Procurement Memorandum of Understanding (a “most favored nation” agreement for military sales). It has been suggested that the Italian government may have turned Dal Molin over to the U.S. military -- for free -- in part to ensure itself a prominent role in the production of “the most expensive weapon ever built,” the F-35 fighter jet, among other military deals. Another glowing 2009 cable, this time from the Rome embassy’s Chargé d'Affaires Elizabeth Dibble, called the countries’ military cooperation “an enduring partnership.” It noted pointedly how Finmeccanica (which is 30% state-owned) “sold USD 2.3 billion in defense equipment to the U.S. in 2008 [and] has a strong stake in the solidity of the U.S.-Italy relationship.”

Of course, there’s another relevant factor in the Pentagon’s Italian build-up. For the same reasons American tourists flock to the country, U.S. troops have long enjoyed la dolce vita there. In addition to the comfortable living on suburban-style bases, around 40,000 military visitors a year from across Europe and beyond come to Camp Darby’s military resort and “American beach” on the Italian Riviera, making the country even more attractive.

The Costs of the Pentagon’s Pivots

Italy is not about to take Germany’s place as the foundation of U.S. military power in Europe. Germany has long been deeply integrated into the U.S. military system, and military planners have designed it to stay that way. In fact, remember how the Pentagon convinced Congress to hand over $600 million for a new base and related construction in Vicenza? The Pentagon’s justification for the new base was the Army’s need to bring troops from Germany to Vicenza to consolidate the 173rd brigade in one place.

And then, last March, one week after getting access to the first completed building at Dal Molin and with construction nearly finished, the Army announced that it wouldn’t be consolidating the brigade after all. One-third of the brigade would remain in Germany. At a time when budget cuts, unemployment, and economic stagnation for all but the wealthiest have left vast unmet needs in communities around the United States, for our $600 million investment, a mere 1,000 troops will move to Vicenza.

Even with those troops staying in Germany, Italy is fast becoming one of several new pivot points for U.S. warmaking powers globally. While much attention has been focused on President Obama’s “Asia pivot,” the Pentagon is concentrating its forces at bases that represent a series of pivots in places like Djibouti on the horn of Africa and Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, Bahrain and Qatar in the Persian Gulf, Bulgaria and Romania in Eastern Europe, Australia, Guam, and Hawai’i in the Pacific, and Honduras in Central America.

Our bases in Italy are making it easier to pursue new wars and military interventions in conflicts about which we know little, from Africa to the Middle East. Unless we question why we still have bases in Italy and dozens more countries like it worldwide -- as, encouragingly, growing numbers of politicians, journalists, and others are doing -- those bases will help lead us, in the name of American “security,” down a path of perpetual violence, perpetual war, and perpetual insecurity.

David Vine, a Tom Dispatch regular, is associate professor of anthropology at American University, in Washington, DC. He is the author of Island of Shame: The Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia. He has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian, and Mother Jones, among other places. He is currently completing a book about the effects of U.S. military bases located outside the United States. For more of his writing, visit www.davidvine.net.

Copyright 2013 David Vine

Save the Nobel Peace Prize from Itself

On October 11, we'll learn whether the Norwegian Nobel Committee is interested in reviving the Nobel Peace Prize or putting another nail in its coffin.

Alfred Nobel's vision for the Nobel Peace Prize created in his will was a good one and, one might have thought, a legally binding one as well. 

The peace prize is not supposed to be awarded to proponents of war, such as Barack Obama or the European Union. 

It is not supposed to be awarded to good humanitarians whose work has little or nothing to do with peace, such as most other recent recipients.  As with the Carnegie Endowment for Peace which works for almost anything but, in violation of its creator's will, and as with many a "peace and justice" group focused on all sorts of good causes that aren't the elimination of militarism, the Nobel has become a "peace" prize, rather than a peace prize.

The peace prize was not supposed to be given even to war reformers or war civilizers.  The peace prize is for: "the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses."  The prize is not a lifetime award, but goes, along with the other Nobel prizes, "to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind."

Nobel laureates are not even asked whether they support the abolition of standing armies.  Few have taken the approach of Barack Obama, who praised wars and militarism in his acceptance speech, but many others would almost certainly have to respond in the negative; they do not support and have not worked for the abolition of standing armies.  Nor do they plan to put the prize money to work for that goal.

Norwegian author and lawyer Fredrik Heffermehl has for years now been leading an effort to enforce Alfred Nobel's will.  "Letters Nobel wrote confirm," says Heffermehl, "that he established his prize to fulfill a promise to Bertha von Suttner," a promise to create a prize to fund work toward war abolition. In March 2012 the Swedish Foundations Authority ordered the Nobel Foundation to examine the will and ensure compliance.  When the next award was given to the European Union in blatant violation of the will, former recipients -- including Adolfo Esquivel, Mairead Maguire, and Desmond Tutu -- protested.  The Nobel Foundation has defied the order to comply with the will and applied for a permanent exception from such oversight.

This year there are 259 nominees, 50 of which are organizations.  (Even Heffermehl does not object to the practice of giving the prize meant for a "person" to an organization.)  The list of nominees is kept secret, but some are known.  In Heffermehl's view, none of the favorites for this year's prize legally qualifies. That includes Malala Yousafzai, whose work for education certainly deserves a prize, just not this one.  And it includes Denis Mukwege, whose work to aid victims of sexual violence should be honored, just not with the prize intended for those working to abolish armies.  Civil rights in Russia, freedom of the press in Burma, and many other great causes could end up being awarded with a prize for opposition to war next week. 

The name Steve Pinker has been mentioned along with the proposal that he be given the peace prize as reward for having written a grossly misleading and deceptive book falsely arguing that war is going away on its own.  That would at least be a new twist on the abuse and degradation of this prize, although with Bill Clinton on the nominees list the options for truly disgusting outcomes are not exactly limited.

Heffermehl has found some names on the list that do actually qualify.  They include American professor Richard Falk, Norwegian ambassador Gunnar Garbo, American David Krieger of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, the former director general of UNESCO Federico Mayor of Spain, Swedish peace scientist and organizer Jan Oberg, and American professor of peace education Betty Reardon. "These clearly are," says Heffermehl, "the kind of 'champions of peace' described in Nobel's will, working for global disarmament based on global law." I would include Gene Sharp, from among the list of nominees, as someone who probably qualifies, although there are certainly arguments against it. Among qualified organizations nominated for 2013, in Heffermehl's view, are the International Peace Bureau, the Transnational Foundation, UNESCO, and the Womens' International League for Peace and Freedom.

Other indivuals and organizations on the list, Heffermehl thinks, are "dedicated peacemakers or have courageously exposed the dangers of militarism, but they may not pursue the vision of general and complete disarmament that Nobel saw as essential for world peace."  These include Norwegian Steinar Bryn, Americans Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning and Edward Snowden (the latter not nominated by the 2013 deadline), Israeli Mordechai Vanunu, and Abolition 2000. 

Many of us have urged that Manning be given the prize, arguing with Norman Solomon that "the Nobel Peace Prize needs Bradley Manning more than Bradley Manning needs the Nobel Peace Prize."  There are, however, many options for the Norwegian Nobel Committee to begin to redeem itself, and many options for its continued desecration of a noble ideal.

French were 'hours' from military strikes on Syria before phone call from Obama

From The Independent:

French President Francois Hollande called off military strikes against Syria on 31 August following a phone call from the US President only hours before fighter jets were set to take off, a French weekly magazine has revealed.

The report in the Nouvel Observateur shows how close the West came to launching a war on Syria over the Syrian regime’s presumed use of chemical weapons in a Damascus suburb, before Washington backed down. President Obama announced in a televised speech on 31 August, after informing a “stunned” Mr Hollande, that he would seek a Congressional vote, effectively lifting the military threat.

Rafale aircraft were readied that Saturday for take-off and official statements prepared in anticipation of the strikes, according to the Nouvel Observateur. “Everything made us think that D-Day had arrived,” a French official is quoted as saying. The magazine said that “this incredible misunderstanding lasted until the end of the afternoon,” at 6.15pm, when President Obama telephoned Mr Hollande, who was expecting to confirm the military orders just after the phone call. The strikes had been intended to start at 3am later that night, targeting missile batteries and command centres of the 4th Armoured Division in charge of chemical weapons.

Cut War Not Welfare - Sunday 29 - Manchester


September 2013 | stopwar.org.uk

1) Cut War Not Welfare - Sunday 29 - Manchester
2) Public rally: we stopped the bombing of Syria. 12 years on, end the War on Terror
3) Stop the War fundraising dinner with Guardian foreign correspondent Jonathan Steele
4) International Anti-War Conference
 


1) Cut War Not Welfare - Sunday 29 - Manchester

This Sunday 29 September tens of thousands will join the TUC march on the Tory Party conference in Manchester to defend the NHS and challenge austerity. Stop the War is organising an anti-war block with CND on the demonstration.

We will be in block J on the demo which assembles at 11am, Sunday 29 September Liverpool Road, Manchester M3 4FP.

Look for the 'cut war not welfare' placards!


2) Public rally: we stopped the bombing of Syria. 12 years on, end the War on Terror

7 October is the twelfth anniversary of the invasion of Afghanistan. Stop the War is organising a London public rally on the day to discuss the disarray of the War on Terror.

Speakers include Tariq Ali, Sami Ramadani, Lindsey German, and Mitra Quayoom.
 

7pm - Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, London - nearest tube: Holborn

3) Stop the War fundraising dinner with Guardian foreign correspondent Jonathan Steele

A reminder about the celebratory fundraising dinner on Monday October 14th. Please come, we would love to see you at Ev Turkish restaurant near Southwark tube for 7pm.

Three delicious courses, a flash art auction, raffle prizes, plus after dinner speech by Jonathan Steele, foreign correspondent of the Guardian.

Tickets are going fast and we have a special price of £35 for members or £30 for Friends.  If you can get a table of 8 or 10 together, it will be £35 for non members too.


4) International Anti-War Conference

The killings in Nairobi - a product of Kenya's involvement of the western backed invasion of Somalia by Kenya and others - underline the way that the War on Terror continues to destabilise whole swathes of the world.

On the 30 November, Stop the War is hosting an international conference to discuss the state of the War on Terror and strategise for the global struggle against the West's wars.

Speakers include Jonathan Steele, Manik Mukherjee, Owen Jones, Kate Hudson, Tariq Ali, Lindsey German, Mitra Quayoom.
 

10am-5pm - 30 November -  Emmanuel Centre, Marsham Street, London - nearest tube: Westminster

Remarks for Acceptance for US Army Private Chelsea Manning for the Sean MacBride Peace Award from the International Peace Bureau

By Ann Wright

Photo: This is the Sean MacBride Peace award given to Chelsea Manning by the International Peace Bureau.  the medal was minted before Bradley Manning made the announcement that she wants to be<br />
 known as Chelsea Manning.  
<p>Sean MacBride was a Nobel Peace Laureate, founding member of Amnesty International, Asst Sec Gen of the UN and President of the International Peace Bureau.  He was also jailed for his political ideas.

 
On behalf of US Army Private Chelsea Manning (previously known as Bradley Manning), I want to thank the International Peace Bureau for its award of the Sean MacBride Peace Award to Private Manning.  When Chelsea was told by her lawyer that IPB had selected her as the recipient of this year’s award, she was overwhelmed that such an organization would recognize her actions as actions for peace.  She knows the history of the MacBride Peace Award, in honor of Sean MacBride, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, founding member of Amnesty International and a tireless advocate for peaceful resolution of conflict.  Private Manning recognizes the works of previous awardees and is deeply honored to be included in their ranks.

As you know, Private Manning is not here to receive the award in person as she is incarcerated in the US military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas after she was sentenced on August 21, 2013 to 35 years in prison for giving over 800.000 pages of government documents known as the Iraq,  Afghanistan, Guantanamo and Diplomatic files to the online publishing organization Wikileaks.  Materials Private Manning provided documented human rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian law by US military, by Iraqi and Afghan military forces operating alongside US forces, and by military contractors. The files included reports on illegal and inhumane battlefield actions and previously unseen footage of journalists and other civilians being killed in US helicopter attacks, information which should  have been made available to the public. 

Private Manning said she acted on the belief that she could spark a meaningful public debate on the cost of war, and specifically on the conduct of the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan.  She said she did not intend to harm the United States, but wanted to have information about the wars more transparent to the American public. In her February 28, 2013, 10,000 word statement to the court, Private Manning said, “I believed that if the general public, especially the American public, had access to the information contained within the [Iraq and Afghan War Logs] this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as well as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan.” http://www.bradleymanning.org/news/bradley-mannings-statement-taking-responsibility-for-releasing-documents-to-wikileaks

 
Private Chelsea Manning’s sentence of 35 years is one that we would have expected for someone who disclosed information in order to harm the United States or who disclosed information for monetary game. Private Manning did neither.

Private Manning’s attorney David Coombs, wrote in a letter to the Secretary of the Army for a pardon and/or commutation of Chelsea’s sentence that, “Although the government is entitled to protect sensitive information, the documents in this case did not merit protection. Many of the documents released by Private Manning were either unclassified or contained information that the public had a right to know. None of the disclosed documents caused any real damage to the United States. Instead, these documents simply embarrassed our country by revealing misconduct by the Department of Defense and unethical practices by the Department of State.  We rely upon whistleblowers, even in those instances that might cause embarrassment, to keep our government accountable to its people. Private Manning is a military whistleblower. She disclosed documents that were vital for a public healthy public debate about our conduct in Iraq and Afghanistan, our detention policies in Guantánamo, and our diplomatic activities around the world. The sentence given to her by the military judge grossly exaggerates the seriousness of her conduct. It will undoubtedly have a chilling effect on future whistleblowers and damage the public’s perception of military justice.”

Civil rights organizations have criticized the harsh sentence given to Pvt. Manning.  Lisa Clayton, who co-directs the Brennan Center for Justice, Liberty and National Security program, called the 35 year sentence unprecedented and stated “it is dramatically longer than the longest sentence previously ever received for disclosing classified information to the media, which was two years."
Ben Wisner, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology project, said  "a legal system that does not distinguish between leaks to the press in the public interest and treason against the nation will not only produce unjust results, but will deprive the public of critical information that is necessary for democratic accountability."

Ana Fitzgerald, the director of Amnesty International's Research and Crisis Response, said "Chelsea Manning should be shown clemency in recognition of her motives for acting as she did, the treatment she endured in her early pretrial confinement, and the due process shortcomings during her trial."

While Chelsea Manning faces many years in prison for the public disclosure of documents to WikiLeaks, numerous high-level officials have never been held accountable for the grave human rights violations committed during the United States war on terror including kidnapping, extraordinary rendition, indefinite detention and torture.

Documents released by Wikileaks were published in numerous national newspapers as Chelsea had hoped, citizens around the world  read how many of their governments cooperated with the United States in kidnapping, imprisonment and torture in US war on terror—and were outraged as she had been.  

Private Manning has already paid a heavy price for her whistleblowing. She has been held for more than three years in military confinement. A substantial portion of that confinement was spent an unlawful solitary confinement at Marine Corps base Quantico. She endured a three-year protracted legal process and faced a meritless charge of aiding the enemy, which the court dismissed for lack of evidence.

The MacBride Award will encourage and hearten Private Chelsea Manning while she is in prison.
I urge everyone to write Chelsea while she is in prison and to donate to the Chelsea Manning educational fund that the Private Manning Support Group has set up to provide money for her to attend college when she returns to our community. http://www.privatemanning.org/learn-more/write-to-bradley-manning

Again, on behalf of Private Chelsea Manning, I want to thank the International Peace Bureau for selecting her as the recipient of the 2013 Sean MacBride Peace Award.

Photo
 
(NOTE: Ann Wright was asked to receive the Sean MacBride on behalf of Private Manning. She spent 29 years in the US Army/Army Reserves and retired as a Colonel.  She also was a U.S. diplomat for 16 years and resigned in March, 2013 in opposition to the war on Iraq.  She is a member of the Private Manning Advisory Board.)

'Video: James Marriott presents Platform's new book: The Oil Road'

Tuesday, Sept. 10, Charlottesville, VA: In a unique journey from the oil fields of the Caspian to the refineries and financial centres of Northern Europe, Platform tracks the concealed routes along which the lifeblood of our economy is pumped. The stupendous wealth of Azerbaijani crude has long inspired dreams of a world remade. From the revolutionary Futurism of Baku in the 1920s to the unblinking Capitalism of modern London, the drive to control oil reserves -- and hence people and events -- has shattered environments and shaped societies. Sponsored by Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, Charlottesville Sierra Club, WarIsACrime.org, and Charlottesville Amnesty International.

A people’s victory over Syrian attack plan: In Historic First, American Empire is Blocked at the Starting Line

By Dave Lindorff


Let’s be clear here. The people of the US and the world have won a huge victory over a war-obsessed US government and an administration that was hell-bent on yet again launching a criminal war of aggression against a country that poses no threat to the US or its neighbors. Overwhelming public opposition in the US and the nations of Europe, as well as most of the rest of the world to a US strike on Syria have forced the US to falter and to accept the idea of a compromise deal offered by Russia.


Obama the Laughingstock

These floats were part of the annual
Carnival Parade in Germany watched
by an estimated three million people in

three German cities including Düsseldorf .


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Doesn't it make you so proud that the whole world is laughing at the U.S.A.?

PROTEST: Tell John Kerry world says no to war on Syria

Inline<br />
      images 2
7 September 2013 |
stopwar.org.uk

EMERGENCY PROTEST
TELL JOHN KERRY NO WAR ON SYRIA
Monday 9 September 8am
Foreign Office
Whitehall
London SW1

US secretary of state John Kerry is touring Europe trying to drum up support for a war on Syria that opinion polls around the world show is opposed by majorities in most countries. Two thirds of Americans say no to war. Close to 75% of people in Britain are opposed, which no doubt was what motivated MPs in parliament to stop David Cameron taking this country into yet another war in the Middle East on the coat-tails of US foreign policy.

Barack Obama was isolated at the recent G20 meeting, at which only the French government was prepared to commit to a military attack on Syria. Latest polls show that most people in France are opposed to president Hollande's backing of Obama's drive to war, saying they feared it could "set the entire region ablaze".

The attack Barack Obama is planning is illegal under international law without the backing of the United Nations security council. It will not help to solve the civil war in Syria which is causing such suffering for the Syrian people, but will only further inflame the conflict, as we have seen happen in all the US-led interventions in the region over the past decade -- in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. What is needed in Syria is not more devastation and death at the end of a barrage of US Cruise missiles, but serious moves towards a negotiated political settlement.

On Monday 9 September, John Kerry will be in London banging his drums for more war, as his boss Obama prepares a national address he will make on Tuesday trying to persuade the American people and US Congress that yet more war is what's needed to help bring peace to Syria.

Stop the War has called a protest on Monday 9 September, at 8am, when John Kerry will be meeting British foreign secretary William Hague at the Foreign Office in Whitehall. If you can, please join us to tell Kerry that the world says no to war on Syria.

* A new motion that has now been been tabled in Parliament urging US representatives in Congress to reject war. Please use Stop the War's lobbying tool to urge your MP to support this motion: http://act.stopwar.org.uk/lobby/58.

* Stop the War will call a protest at the US embassy in Grosvenor Square, London on the day the of the debate in the US Congress, which is likely next week. Details will be publicised on the Stop the War website and through our Facebook and Twitter.

* No Attack on Syria
Public Meeting
Wednesday 11 September
Conway Hall, Red Lion Square on Wednesday 11 September at 7pm.
More details here:
http://stopwar.org.uk/events/rally-no-to-war-on-syria

.

US embassy: protest against intervention in Syria


 


1) US embassy: protest against intervention in Syria




Public opinion and the anti-war movement stopped UK military intervention in Syria. Now we have to stop Obama. Join us at the US Embassy.
 

Tuesday 3 September, 5.30 - 7pm
US embassy, Grosvenor Square, London W1A 2LQ

9th September - Day of Action: Next Monday we will hold a second protest at the US embassy as the US Congress debates intervention in Syria. More details soon.

Read more


2) Parliamentary briefing: The Case Against Intervention in Syria
Hosted by Jeremy Corbyn MP
with Diane Abbot MP

Stop the War Coalition is supporting a parliamentary briefing organised by the office of Jeremy Corbyn MP to discuss intervention in Syria. An invitation has been sent to all MPs.

The briefing is open to the public. We recommend you arrive shortly before half six as there is a short security check at the main entrance. Just tell the security staff which room you are going to and they will let you in.
 

Wednesday 4 September 6.30pm - 8pm,
Thatcher Room, Portcullis House, SW1A 2LW

 


UK Peace Movement Stopped Cameron, Continues to Help Us Try to Stop Obama


Stop the War bulletin | August 2013 | stopwar.org.uk


We stopped Cameron, but Obama still plans war: demonstrate tomorrow

The defeat of Cameron's war plans last night was a historic moment.

It represented the victory of mass anti-war opinion over the interests of the UK elite that has been enthusiastically participating in US-led wars over the last decade and more.

There can be no doubt that the hundreds of demonstrations, protests, rallies and pickets of the last twelve years  have been central to bringing the war makers low and making it impossible for Cameron to join in another catastrophic attack.

Congratulations to every single person who has taken action against war over those years. Protest has been successful.  We have made a difference.


Obama and the US remaining allies are still committed to an attack on Syria. Britain was the key US ally. Forcing Cameron out of the war is a big blow to the west's war plans. Now we must redouble our efforts to stop any attack on Syria.

The world will be watching London tomorrow, we need the biggest possible turnout to send a message around the globe that the anti war majority is staying in the streets.

Please do everything to spread the word there is a facebook event here.

To keep the pressure up we are calling a picket of the US embassy on Tuesday 3 September at 5.30pm. More details to be announced shortly.

Parliament Says No to War! Congress Considers Saying Something.

Great work by our UK friends at StopTheWar.co.UK

And great work in the USA: On Aug. 31 Obama said he will seek Congressional authorization.

Now we need to move Congress along to ensure that Obama doesn't get it.

Obama has released a dodgy dossier.

“Wag the Dog” – The Sequel Set in Syria

By George Galloway

Over the last couple of weeks a western-backed (and armed) military junta slaughtered many hundreds of Egyptians in broad daylight live on television. The death toll, still concealed, may have been thousands.

The west confined itself to disapproving words and calls for “restraint” on “both sides” – even though the victims were unarmed.

In Syria hundreds of people have just been slaughtered in circumstances which are entirely unclear, and the west is about to launch (in our case without parliamentary approval with the prime minister acting from a beach in Cornwall) a military attack with entirely unforseen consequences on Damascus.

There is a “Wag the Dog” element about this, and indeed the war of President Clinton’s penis satirised in that masterful award-winning movie has already proved a handy diversion from Egypt before its even started.

It is entirely implausible that the Syrian regime chose the moment of the arrival of a UN chemical weapons inspection team to launch a chemical attack on an insurgency already suffering reverse after reverse on the battlefield and steadily losing international support with each new video showing them eating the hearts of slain soldiery and sawing of the heads of Christian priests with bread knives.

In the absence of conclusive evidence one would have to believe that the Assad regime was mad as well as bad to have launched such a chemical attack at a time when it is in less danger than it has been for almost a year. I do not believe that Bashar is mad.

There is ample evidence that the Syrian rag-tag-and-bobtail insurgency, dominated by the most extreme fanatic franchises of Al Qaeda, has access to chemical weapons, indeed any weapons the rag-tag-and-bobtail coalition behind them can get to them.

The US has a long history of using such weapons – and worse – and not just in SE Asia. In the destruction of Fallujah in next door Iraq they slaughtered thousands with the same kind of cocktails.

Israel regularly shares its own chemical weapons stockpile with their neighbours in Gaza. Check the pictures of phosphorous gas raining down upon the UN schools and hospitals in Operation Cast Lead if you don’t believe me.

Britain introduced chemical weapons to the middle east in the first place, dropping gas on the “uncivilised tribes” of Iraq in the 1920s and wondering in parliament “what all the fuss was about”.

Does anyone believe that the foul dictatorships of the Gulf – like Saudi Arabia – wouldn’t give the Syrian rebels some of their chemical weapons? Especially if the purpose was to draw the big powers into the war?

Does anyone believe that a Syrian rebel army whose vile atrocities abound on YouTube wouldn’t use them, for the same purpose?

So now we wait for the summer-surprise attack on yet another Arab country by the former colonial powers. Another summer, another Muslim country under murderous bombardment by the last people on the planet whose motives are trusted by anyone in the Muslim world.

Meanwhile, the money, and the weapons, keep on flowing to the Egyptian junta. The blood of some people, as always, turning out to be of far greater consequence than the blood of others…

George Galloway MP
House of Commons
London.

Design by Gayatri

Memo from Oslo: If Peace Is Prized, a Nobel for Bradley Manning

By Norman Solomon
 
The headquarters of the Nobel Committee is in downtown Oslo on a street named after Henrik Ibsen, whose play “An Enemy of the People” has remained as current as dawn light falling on the Nobel building and then, hours later, on a Fort Meade courtroom where Bradley Manning's trial enters a new stage -- defense testimony in the sentencing phase.

Ibsen’s play tells of mendacity and greed in high places: dangerous threats to public health. You might call the protagonist a whistleblower. He's a physician who can't pretend that he hasn't seen evidence; he rejects all the pleas and threats to stay quiet, to keep secret what the public has a right to know. He could be content to take an easy way, to let others suffer and die. But he refuses to just follow orders. He will save lives. There will be some dire consequences for him.

The respectable authorities know when they've had enough. Thought crimes can be trivial but are apt to become intolerable if they lead to active transgressions. In the last act, our hero recounts: “They insulted me and called me an enemy of the people.” Ostracized and condemned, he offers final defiant words before the curtain comes down: “I have made a great discovery. … It is this, let me tell you -- that the strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone.”

Alone Bradley Manning will stand as a military judge proclaims a prison sentence.

As I write these words early Monday, sky is starting to lighten over Oslo. This afternoon I'll carry several thousand pages of a petition -- filled with the names of more than 100,000 signers, along with individual comments from tens of thousands of them -- to an appointment with the Research Director of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. The petitionurges that Bradley Manning be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Like so many other people, the signers share the belief of Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Corrigan-Maguire who wrote this summer: “I can think of no one more deserving.”

Opening heart and mind to moral responsibility -- seeing an opportunity to provide the crucial fuel of information for democracy and compassion -- Bradley Manning lifted a shroud and illuminated terrible actions of the USA's warfare state. He chose courage on behalf of humanity. He refused to just follow orders.

“If there’s one thing to learn from the last ten years, it’s that government secrecy and lies come at a very high price in blood and money,” Bradley Manning biographer Chase Madar wrote. “And though information is powerless on its own, it is still a necessary precondition for any democratic state to function.”

Bradley Manning recognized that necessary precondition. He took profound action to nurture its possibilities on behalf of democracy and peace.

No doubt a Nobel Peace Prize for Bradley Manning is a very long longshot. After all, four years ago, the Nobel Committee gave that award to President Obama, while he was escalating the war in Afghanistan, and since then Obama's dedication to perpetual war has become ever more clear.

Now, the Nobel Committee and its Peace Prize are in dire need of rehabilitation. In truth, the Nobel Peace Prize needs Bradley Manning much more than the other way around.

No one can doubt the sincere dedication of Bradley Manning to human rights and peace. But on Henrik Ibsen Street in Oslo, the office of the Nobel Committee is under a war cloud of its own making.
__________________________________

Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.”

Is America playing its last card?: Pissing Off Friends is a Doomed Strategy

By Dave Lindorff


Like an obnoxious drunk harassing everyone and spilling drinks at a party, the US has continued to make itself both loathed and laughed at in the wake of the revelations about the National Security Agency’s global spying program as revealed by NSA leaker Edward Snowden. 


War and Whistleblowers - Why Bradley Manning Should be Free



Stop the War bulletin | stopwar.org.uk

Public Meeting Friday 9 August
War and Whistleblowers - Why Bradley Manning Should be Free

Bradley Manning faces a prison sentence of up to 136 years after being found guilty of 20 charges for revealing the war crimes carried out in our name. This public meeting, with speakers including Tariq Ali, Peter Tatchell, and Norman Solomon from the USA, will discuss the courage and sacrifice of truth-tellers like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, who have exposed how the secret state wages perpetual war behind our backs. How can we protect whistleblowers from persecution by war-addicted governments? How can we campaign for the freedom of Bradley Manning?

War and Whistleblowers - Why Bradley Manning Should be Free
Friday 9 August 7pm
Hilda Porter Room, TheWesley
81-103 Euston Street London NW1 2EZ

(2 minute walk from Euston Station)
For updates see: http://bit.ly/19ztF9N

Speakers:
Tariq Ali writer and activist, Peter Tatchell human rights campaigner
Norman Solomon US author and activist, Kate Hudson CND
Chris Nineham Stop the War Coalition


Norman Solomon, will speak at the meeting on his way from the USA to present to the Nobel committee in Oslo a petition with over 100,000 names calling for Bradley Manning to be awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

Read more:
• Norman Solomon: Why Bradley Manning deserves the Nobel Peace Prize http://bit.ly/13vmjNi
• Owen Jones: What would be the ultimate show of gratitude to Bradley Manning? http://bit.ly/15uKa2U
• John Pilger: We have all been made witnesses to crimes against humanity" http://bit.ly/12Xs5gn
• Gary Younge: If Bradley Manning is an enemy of the state then so too is truth http://bit.ly/15wKpKr


Stop the War Coalition | office@stopwar.org.uk | 020 7561 4830

European Parliamentarians call on President Obama to free Bradley Manning

http://www.bradleymanning.org

Open Letter from Members of the European Parliament
to President Barack Obama and US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel

Pfc. Bradley Manning (photo credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Pfc. Bradley Manning (photo credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

As Members of the European Parliament, who were elected to represent our constituents throughout Europe, we are writing to express our concerns about the ongoing persecution of Bradley Manning, the young U.S. soldier who released classified information revealing evidence of human rights abuses and apparent war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The U.S. Army has charged Private First Class Manning with 21 different crimes, including ‘Aiding the Enemy’; a capital charge. To convict a person who leaked information to the media of “Aiding the Enemy” would set a terrible precedent. Although we understand the US government is not seeking the death penalty for Bradley Manning, there would be nothing to stop this from happening in future cases.  As it is, PFC Manning faces the possibility of life in prison without parole, recently rejected as “inhuman and degrading treatment” by the European Court of Human Rights.

On July 2nd , Army prosecutors closed their arguments in the case without having provided any real evidence that Bradley Manning aided the enemy, or that he intended to do so. In his defense against those charges to which he pleaded not guilty, PFC Manning was not permitted to bring any evidence of motivation. And in a statement calling on the court to allow a ‘public interest’ defense, Amnesty International said that this was ‘disturbing…as he has said he reasonably believed he was exposing human rights and humanitarian law violations.  Moreover, the prosecution provided no evidence that PFC Manning caused harm to U.S. national security or to US and NATO troops.

We agree with Amnesty International that the U.S. government should immediately drop the most serious charges against PFC Bradley Manning, and that to charge Bradley Manning with ‘aiding the enemy’ is ‘ludicrous’ – a ‘travesty of justice’ which ‘makes a mockery of the US military court system’.

“We’ve now seen the evidence presented by both sides, and it’s abundantly clear that the charge of ‘aiding the enemy’ has no basis,” said Widney Brown, Senior Director for International Law and Policy at Amnesty International.  “The prosecution should also take a long, hard look at its entire case and move to drop all other charges that aren’t supported by the evidence presented.”

Rather than causing harm, Bradley Manning’s release to WikiLeaks of the Iraq War Logs and the Afghan War Diaries shone much needed light on those occupations, revealing, amongst other abuses, the routine killing of civilians. The bleak picture painted by these war diaries contrasts greatly with the rosy progress reports being provided to the public by military and political leaders. PFC Manning has said he felt that if the American public had access to this information, this could ‘spark a domestic debate’ on American foreign policy ‘as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan’. Far from being a traitor, Bradley Manning had the best interests of his country in mind. 

The Iraqi people continue to suffer the consequences of this war, even after the withdrawal of foreign troops, with millions of homeless refugees and the resumption of sectarian violence. Meanwhile, eleven and a half years after the U.S invaded Afghanistan, that nation has yet to form a functioning democracy or to free itself from the Taliban and fundamentalist warlords. 

Bradley Manning:  ‘I felt that we were risking so much for people that seemed unwilling to co-operate with us, leading to frustration and anger on both sides. I began to become depressed with the situation that we found ourselves increasingly mired in year after year.’

Bradley Manning was witness to the wrongdoing of the U.S. military.  He says this ‘troubled’ and ‘disturbed’ him. But instead of ‘passing by on the other side’ like so many others, he acted in accordance with international law and with a strong commitment to truth, transparency and democracy. He wrote at the time that he hoped his actions would lead to “worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms.” 

Bradley Manning also released information about the men who continue to be wrongly held in indefinite detention at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo, Cuba.  Over one hundred of these prisoners have been carrying out a long, indefinite hunger strike, and 45 of them are being force-fed by U.S. soldiers.  This intolerable situation continues to undermine U.S. claims to promote freedom and democracy, compromising the standing of the US in the world and diminishing US moral authority.

Bradley Manning’s courageous action, for which he has three times been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, was an inspiration to others, including Edward Snowden, who recently revealed massive U.S. government surveillance in the U.S. and also against European governments and citizens. 

We are concerned that the U.S. administration’s war on whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning is a deterrent to the process of democracy in both the United States and Europe. 

We hereby urge you to end the persecution of Bradley Manning, a young gay man who has been imprisoned for over three years, including ten months in solitary confinement, under conditions that the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez deemed “cruel and abusive.”  Bradley Manning has already suffered too much, and he should be freed as soon as humanly possible.

Signed,

Marisa Matias, Member of the European Parliament, Portugal
Christian Engström, Member of the European Parliament, Sweden
Ana Maria Gomes, Member of the European Parliament, Portugal 

Gabi Zimmer, Member of the European Parliament, Germany 
Paul Murphy,  Member of the European Parliament, Ireland 

Sabine Wils, Member of the European Parliament, Germany

Jacky Henin, Member of the European Parliament, France
Alda Sousa, Member of the European Parliament, Portugal
Martina Anderson, Member of the European Parliament, Ireland
Nikola Vuljanić, Member of the European Parliament, Kroatia
Sabine Lösing, Member of the European Parliament, Germany
Lothar Bisky, Member of the European Parliament, Germany
Helmut Scholz, Member of the European Parliament, Germany 

Willy Meyer, Member of the European Parliament, Spain

Mikael Gustafsson, Member of the European Parliament, Sweden

Marie-Christine Vergiat, Member of the European Parliament, France

Patrick Le Hyaric, Member of the European Parliament, France

His 'Crime' is Patriotism, not Betrayal Like Hale's Philip Nolan, Snowden has Become a 'Man Without a Country'

By  Dave Lindorff

 

In Edward Everett Hale's short story "The Man Without a Country," US Army Lt. Philip Nolan, following a court-martial, is exiled from his country, his citizenship snatched away, leaving him doomed to sail the seven seas confined to a Navy vessel, unable to make any country his home. His crime: being seduced by a treacherous leader to betray the US of A, the country of his birth.

In Obamaland, ‘Rule of Law’ is for the Other Suckers: US (and French) Courts Have Ruled Head-of-State Immunity is Absolute

By Dave Lindorff


It is clear that the entrapment and forced landing in Austria of the official airplane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales was the work of the US, which was obviously behind the decision by France and Portugal to deny air rights to the flight, and which also was obviously behind the Austrian government’s demand to be allowed to search the jet after it landed. After all, those countries have no interest themselves in capturing US National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, who is only Obama’s and the NSA’s quarry. 


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