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‘Dark Moment of Shame’: With Explicit US Backing, Saudi Attack on Yemen’s Humanitarian Lifeline Begins


By Jake Johnson, staff writer | Common Dreams

With a “green light” from the Trump administration and essential military support from the U.S. government, Saudi-led forces plowed ahead with an assault on the Yemeni port city of Hodeida on Wednesday, brushing aside dire warnings from international humanitarian organizations and a small group of American lawmakersthat an attack on the key aid harbor could spark a full-blown famine and endanger millions of lives.

Responding to the early stages of the attack—which began with an estimated 30 Saudi airstrikes within half an hour, guided by U.S. military intelligence—Win Without War wrote on Twitter that the attack is “a dark moment of shame for the United States. We could have stopped this.”

Hodeidah is currently home to around 600,000 civilians, and around 80 percent of all humanitarian aid that flows into Yemen arrives at the city’s port, which is currently controlled by Houthi rebels. International observers have warned that a military fight over the port city could halt life-saving food and medicine and cause the starvation of millions.

“Some civilians are entrapped, others forced from their homes,” Jolien Veldwijk—acting country director for the humanitarian group CARE, which is still operating in Yemen—told Reuters on Wednesday as the U.S.-backed Saudi assault on Hodeida began. “We thought it could not get any worse, but unfortunately we were wrong.”

As Common Dreams reported earlier this month, the Trump administration has been considering deepening U.S. military involvement in the Saudi bombardment of Yemen, which has pushed eight million Yemenis to the brink of famine. In a report on Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal confirmed that the U.S. is providing the Saudis with “intelligence to fine-tune their list of airstrike targets” in Hodeida.

Martin Griffiths, United Nations special envoy to Yemen, wrote on Wednesday that he is “extremely concerned” with the Saudi-led military escalation and said he is working with both parties to avert further disaster.

In a statement responding to the potentially catastrophic attack on Hodeidah, Lindsey German, convenor of the Stop the War Coalition, took aim at both the U.S. and the United Kingdom for providing crucial political and military support for the Saudi-led assault, arguing that such complicity reveals “the true face of their foreign policy.”

“Trump and his close ally, [U.K. Prime Minister] Theresa May, have been escalating military involvement in Yemen without pushing for a political settlement to the Saudi-led war,” German said. “Their total support for Saudi Arabia and its allies is making the world’s worst humanitarian crisis even more severe. It gives an even greater urgency to those in favor of peace to build the biggest possible protest to Trump when he visits the U.K. in July.”


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The Notorious Council On Foreign Relations Says Domestic Propaganda is Necessary

By Tyler Durden | * Nexus News

 

Though it currently receives little commentary or attention, it must be recalled that Obama administration lifted the prohibition on domestic propaganda in 2013. Tyler Durden

One year ago, a State Department press event included quite possibly the most epic “deer in the headlights” moment in all of government press briefing history.

During the final press briefing in May of 2017, the State Department put high level official Stuart Jones at the podium to give the daily briefing, and he was asked how the US could call for democracy in Iran while ignoring the fact that one of Washington’s closest Middle East allies is an oppressive autocratic state with an opaque legal system run by strict Islamic sharia courts.

Here’s how Newsweek‘s Tom O’Connor set the scene at the time:

Stuart Jones, who was appointed as U.S. Ambassador to Iraq by former President Barack Obama in 2014 before assuming the title of assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs in January, took a long, silent pause after an Agence France-Presse reporter asked the official how President Donald Trump could criticize Iran’s democracy, while standing next to Saudi Arabian officials.

Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy, where every position of power is appointed by either the king or other members of the Al Saud royal family from which the nation derives its name. Trump recently visited Saudi Arabia, a close ally of the U.S., and took the opportunity to deeply criticize the two nations’ mutual foe, Iran, and its commitment to democracy weeks after it held its presidential election.

Though clearly hilarious and at the same time appropriately awkward, the incident highlighted the fact that mainstream journalists rarely ask the obvious questions that might so easily expose the glaring hypocrisy of US foreign policy and its leaders.

As Wide Asleep in America blog so aptly described: “In lieu of delivering an actual answer, Jones became visibly uncomfortable, signed audibly, stared blindly into nothingness and said nothing for roughly 18 seconds. You could see the squeaky gears laboring to rotate in his head. You hear the faint trickle of urine run down his thigh. You could feel Jones praying to be suddenly whisked away by a dragon-drawn chariot sent to him by the sun god Helios.”

It’s so beautiful and epic we thought it deserved its own anniversary of remembrance.

But on a more serious note, about six months after Stuart Jones’ internal meltdown moment, a leaked State Department memo obtained by Politico spelled out how Washington merely values the concept of human rights insofar as it can be molded toward propaganda ends.The leaked government memo, made public for the first time in December 2017, instructed top State Department leadership that “Allies should be treated differently — and better — than adversaries.”

“For this reason,” the leaked internal State Department memo argued“we should consider human rights as an important issue in regard to US relations with China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran. And this is not only because of moral concern for practices inside those countries. It is also because pressing those regimes on human rights is one way to impose costs, apply counter-pressure, and regain the initiative from them strategically.”

As the May 2017 Stuart Jones presser demonstrated, this means countries like Saudi Arabia or Qatar will always be let off the hook in spite of — for example — US ally Saudi Arabia executing over 50 people so far this year, half of them related to nonviolent drug chargesaccording to HRW. Or this might further translate into government officials choosing to look the other way when allies illegally possess or pursue nuclear or other banned weapons.

Politico explained that the memo encourages government leadership, on up to the level of the Secretary of State, “that we should do exactly what Russian and Chinese propaganda says we do — use human rights as a weapon to beat up our adversaries while letting ourselves and our allies off the hook.”

More recently, one year after the incredible and embarrassing State Department scene, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) has delivered an even more astounding propaganda fail which went largely unnoticed in the media. The CFR is among America’s oldest and most establishment think tanks, with a who’s who of government insiders filling up its ranks, and has often played an advisory role on important policy questions to elected officials.

The CFR’s Richard Stengel, a former editor of TIME magazine, told an audience at a CFR event in late April called Political Disruptions: Combating Disinformation and Fake News that governments “have to” direct “propaganda” toward their own populations.

Stengel, himself a former high level official who headed the US office for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs at the State Department from 2013 to 2016, is also a regular pundit on MSNBC.

He explained:

Basically, every country creates their own narrative story and, you know, my old job at the State Department was what people used to joke as the ‘chief propagandist’ job. We haven’t talked about propaganda… I’m not against propaganda. Every country does it, and they have to do it to their own population, and I don’t necessarily think it’s that awful.

Stengel’s personal bio site notes that he “helped create and oversee” the Global Engagement Center at the State Department whose official mission is to “counter propaganda and disinformation from international terrorist organizations and foreign countries” (with a “special focus on Russia“).

The full CFR event. Stengel openly argues in favor of propaganda against US citizens starting at 1:15:26 of the video.

But more worrisome for a guy who openly expresses views clearly implying that he’s “not against propaganda” on the US government’s “own population” is that he was recently named a “distinguished fellow” as part of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab).

[Read more here]

*Originally entitled: “The Council On Foreign Relations says domestic propaganda is necessary”

Robert O’Leary, JD BARA, has had an abiding interest in alternative health products & modalities since the early 1970’s & he has seen how they have made people go from lacking health to vibrant health. He became an attorney, singer-songwriter, martial artist & father along the way and brings that experience to his practice as a BioAcoustic Soundhealth Practitioner, under the tutelage of the award-winning founder of BioAcoustic Biology, Sharry Edwards, whose Institute of BioAcoustic Biology has now been serving clients for 30 years with a non-invasive & safe integrative modality that supports the body’s ability to self-heal using the power of the human voice. Robert brings this modality to serve clients in Greater Springfield, Massachusetts and New England (USA) & “virtually” the world. He can also be reached at romayasoundhealthandbeauty@gmail.

 




Iraq 2.0: New US Secretary of State Setting the Stage for Regime Change in Iran – Threatens to ‘Crush’ Iran

By Jake Johnson | Common Dreams

In a speech at the right-wing Heritage Foundation on Monday that critics said should put to rest all lingering illusions that the Trump White House wants anything other than regime change in Iran, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo outlined a “wildly unrealistic” list of demands that Iran must meet if it wants nuclear talks with America and warned that the U.S. will “crush” Tehran with sanctions if it doesn’t comply.

“If you maximize pressure and set unachievable demands, you solely pave the way for war.”
—Trita Parsi, National Iranian American Council

“Pompeo has not outlined a strategy, but rather a grab bag of wishful thinking that can only be interpreted as a call for regime change in Iran,” Suzanne Maloney, a senior fellow at the Brookings Center for Middle East Policy, wrote on Twitter in response to the secretary of state’s remarks. “This speech could have been given word-for-word by [national security adviser John] Bolton.”

Echoing Maloney’s assessment of Pompeo’s newly unveiled “Plan B” for nuclear negotiations—which comes around two weeks after President Donald Trump violated the Iran nuclear accord and placed the U.S. on the path to yet another war in the Middle East—National Iranian American Council (NIAC) president Trita Parsi arguedthat the Trump administration’s demands are intentionally unrealistic and “clearly designed to ensure there cannot be any new negotiation.”

“If you maximize pressure and set unachievable demands, you solely pave the way for war,” Parsi wrote. “That is the objective of Trump, and that’s been the objective of his cheerleaders in Saudi and Israel.”

https://twitter.com/thekarami/status/998556250936823808?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.commondreams.org%2Fnews%2F2018%2F05%2F21%2Firaq-war-playbook-returns-pompeo-replaces-diplomacy-threat-crush-iran&tfw_creator=commondreams&tfw_site=commondreams

If Iran refuses to comply with this laundry list of demands—which includes a complete halt to uranium enrichment—Pompeo threatened that the U.S. will quickly move to impose “the strongest sanctions in history.” Iran has said repeatedly that its enrichment of uranium is solely for domestic energy purposes and that it has no interest in pursuing nukes, whether or not the international nuclear accord remains in place.

“Taking a page straight from the Iraq war playbook,” as NIAC’s Ryan Costello put it, Pompeo also asserted without evidence that Iran is serving as a “sanctuary for al-Qaeda” and other terrorist organizations, further bolstering criticism of his speech as “more tantrum than policy.”

In light of the speech’s factual inaccuracies and outlandish demands, foreign policy analyst David Rothkopf characterized Pompeo’s remarks as “more tantrum than policy.”

Reacting to Pompeo’s remarks on Monday, Suzanne DiMaggio, a senior fellow at New America, argued that in addition to dramatically increasing the possibility of military conflict with Iran, the speech “will not be well-received by the North Koreans.”

“Reneging on a deal that Iran is complying with is bad enough,” DiMaggio noted. “Coupling this with what comes across as an insistence on Iran’s full capitulation will set off ‘regime change’ alarm bells in Pyongyang.”

Read more great articles at Common Dreams.




If Any Other Country Was Shooting Civilians Like Israel, The US Would Be Calling For Invasion By Now

By Rachel Blevins | Activist Post

The death toll in Gaza increased dramatically on Monday as Israeli Defense Forces opened fire on thousands of Palestinian civilians, killing 41 and injuring at least 1,700, and the United States’ response served as a reminder that if the governments in Iran, Syria, North Korea or Russia had done the same thing, the U.S. would be calling for a full-scale invasion right now.

It is hypocrisy at its finest, especially considering the fact that the U.S. has a history of cheering on and aiding protests against foreign governments. In fact, when the mainstream media began sharing reports of protests in Iran in December 2017, President Trump took to Twitter to cheer on the dissidents.

“The people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism,” Trump wrote, claiming that the United States was “watching very closely for human rights violations!

https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/947453152806297600?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.activistpost.com%2F2018%2F05%2Fif-any-other-country-was-shooting-civilians-like-israel-the-us-invasion.html

Does that same logic not apply when thousands of Palestinians are standing up for their rights on the Gaza Strip, and the Israeli government is committing human rights violations? Trump’s silence is deafening, and it also serves as a reminder he has fallen into line with the same U.S. foreign policy standards that have been adopted and expressed by his predecessors.

When the U.S. launched its campaign to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, it went beyond just cheering on protesters, and it began launching multi-million-dollar programs to arm and trainthe protesters, even with the knowledge that many of them were extremists who would go on to strengthen radical groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

The U.S. has also looked the other way in Saudi Arabia where the government is accused of a host human rights violations—including fueling genocide in the poorest country in the Middle East—and it regularly executes civilians who have been accused of protesting, after denying them a fair trial.

The United States only seems to care about oppressive governments who commit human rights violations when those governments are not considered “close allies.” The double-standard is painfully evident in Gaza as the bloodiest day in months comes to a close.

Reports from the Health Ministry in Gaza claimed that several of the 41 Palestinians killed on Monday were teenagers, and as many as 1,700 civilians are now left suffering from injuries after Israeli Defense Forces opened fire on protests near Israel’s border fence.

This comes in addition to the dozens of Palestinians who have been killed and the thousands who have been wounded by Israeli sniper fire in recent weeks. While Israel has falsely claimed that every man or teenage boy who participated in the protests was a “militant” for Hamas, and deserved to die, there was one civilian death that was particularly notable.

Yaser Murtaja, a Palestinian photojournalist, was wearing a jacket that clearly said “PRESS” when he was shot in the chest and killed by an Israeli sniper on Friday. As The Intercept noted,

Either the Israeli sniper could not clearly see who was in the rifle scope—in which case the claim that the use of live fire is precise is shown to be untrue—or the soldier intentionally fired at a journalist, which is a war crime.

While Israel has justified the killings by claiming that their soldiers opened fire because the suspects “attempted to infiltrate” the Israel-Gaza border, a disturbing video was leaked last month that showed multiple Israeli men celebrating after a sniper targeted and shot a non-threatening man who was standing in a field on the other side of their border fence.

A man is seen standing motionless on the other side of the barrier as another man and a small child walk past him. Another man remarked, “I can’t see because of the wire” and then said, “there’s a little boy there,” noting the presence of the child.

The sniper then pulled the trigger and fired one shot, striking the Palestinian man who was standing still and was making no attempt to do anything that could have threatened the soldiers who had been observing him from a distance.

Cheers erupted from the Israelis after the Palestinian man was shot and then collapsed on the ground. The man filming the shooting can be heard saying, “Wow, what a video! Yes! Son of a bitch. What a video, here, run and get him out of there. Of course, I filmed it.”

Rachel Blevins is an independent journalist from Texas, who aspires to break the false left/right paradigm in media and politics by pursuing truth and questioning existing narratives. Follow Rachel on Facebook,TwitterYouTubeSteemit and Patreon. This article first appeared at The Free Thought Project.

Read more great articles at Activist Post.




Americans Bear Direct Responsibility for the Horrific Reality in Gaza

By 



Freedom of Information Act Release Mistakenly Includes US Gov’t. Mind Control Documentation

By Aaron Kessel | Activist Post

Accidental FOIA reveals mind control documents; here’s further evidence this technology exists

Journalist Curtis Waltman filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Washington State Fusion Center (which is partnered with Department of Homeland Security) to obtain information about Antifa and white supremacist groups; instead of getting information on how the agency targets the groups, he got way more than the information he was looking for – Curtis was accidentally sent a mysterious file with the label “EM effects on human body.zip.” The file included methods of “remote mind control,” MuckRock reported.

According to MuckRock, the mind control documents came from the Department of Homeland Security-linked agency in the form of a file called “EM effects on human body.zip.” The file reportedly contained various diagrams detailing the horrors of “psycho-electronic weapon effects.”

One document lists the various forms of torment made possible by using “remote mind control” methods, from “forced memory blanking” and “sudden violent itching inside eyelids” to “wild flailing” followed by “rigor mortis” and a remotely induced “forced orgasm.” It was not immediately clear how the documents wound up in the agency’s response to a standard FOIA request, but there was reportedly no indication the “remote mind control” files stemmed from any government program.

According to Popular Mechanics, the documents are not official documents but are rather documents captured by the Fusion Center.

The federal government has absolutely experimented with mind control in a variety of methods, but the documents here do not appear to be official.

Waltman had no idea why these documents were included in his request and isn’t sure why the government is holding them. The WSFC did not respond to requests for more information.

The documents themselves are quite bizarre and, honestly, despite reports dismissing them, it is worth remembering that this is exactly what the CIA was working on for years during MKULTRA. That program was supposed to have been shut down after the Church Hearings and other congressional hearings exposed all of the CIA’s clandestine activities at the time many that violated human rights including experimentation on patients and the American population without their knowledge.

Last year, it was revealed that mainstream science had caught up with the black project world (CIA) and had successfully weakened or strengthened particular memories from the brain or outright deleted inherited memories from mice, Activist Post reported.

There was a series of CIA mind control programs including BLUEBIRD, ARTICHOKE, MKULTRA, MKSEARCH and MKNAOMI during the ’50s to ’90s. The CIA sought to blank-slate test subjects wiping memories through drugs, electric shock, high-pitched sound and other torture techniques.

The Project Bluebird/Artichoke document below was kept hidden and under wraps and distracted from other subprojects in MKULTRA through Operation Dormouse for a reason; just read the documents it’s literally the CIA suggesting to create mind-controlled slaves that can covertly commit murder in the 1950s-’60s.

[Read more here]

*Originally entitled: “Accidental FOIA Reveals Mind Control Documents; Here’s Further Evidence This Technology Exists”

Robert O’Leary, JD BARA, has had an abiding interest in alternative health products & modalities since the early 1970’s & he has seen how they have made people go from lacking health to vibrant health. He became an attorney, singer-songwriter, martial artist & father along the way and brings that experience to his practice as a BioAcoustic Soundhealth Practitioner, under the tutelage of the award-winning founder of BioAcoustic Biology, Sharry Edwards, whose Institute of BioAcoustic Biology has now been serving clients for 30 years with a non-invasive & safe integrative modality that supports the body’s ability to self-heal using the power of the human voice. Robert brings this modality to serve clients in Greater Springfield, Massachusetts and New England (USA) & “virtually” the world. He can also be reached at romayasoundhealthandbeauty@gmail.




The Average American Taxpayer Sent $3,456 to the Pentagon Last Year for Military

“A 10 percent cut in spending on military contractors would provide enough money to hire 395,000 elementary school teachers or provide health insurance for 13 million children,” Lindsay Koshgarian of the National Priorities Project observed. (Photo: National Priorities Project)

By Jake Johnson | Common Dreams

As Americans rushed to pay their taxes on Tuesday before the official deadline, peace groups reminded the public of the uncomfortable fact that an “astronomical amount” of the money sent to the IRS each year goes not to funding education or a single-payer healthcare system the U.S. supposedly can’t afford, but straight into the bloated coffers of the Pentagon.

“Arms industry executives make out like bandits while programs that provide essential services for most Americans remain drastically underfunded.”
—Paul Kawika Martin, Peace Action

“Congress appropriates more for U.S. military spending than the next eight countries combined, but year after year refuses to adequately invest in access to quality education and healthcare for millions of Americans, infrastructure spending, and alternative energy,”  Paul Kawika Martin, senior director for policy and political affairs at Peace Action, said in a statement late Monday.

“As a result, arms industry executives make out like bandits while programs that provide essential services for most Americans remain drastically underfunded, as do development and diplomacy programs that help end wars and prevent them in the first place,” Martin added.

Highlighting America’s uniquely exorbitant military spending in a blog post on Tuesday, Lindsay Koshgarian of National Priorities noted that it is particularly important to keep in mind who funds U.S.-led endless wars overseas following President Donald Trump’s illegal attack on Syria—an attack that “added nearly $5 billion to missile-makers’ stock value.”

“It’s devastating to know who paid for it: we did,” Koshgarian observed.

“The average taxpayer contributed $3,456 to the military in 2017,” she noted, compared to $80 that went to welfare programs and “just $39 to the Environmental Protection Agency.”

In an analysis published last month, National Priorities estimated that 23.8 cents of every dollar in taxes paid in 2017 went to Pentagon and military spending.

“Meanwhile, 11 cents goes to military contractors, including 1.7 cents for the Pentagon’s biggest contractor and maker of the F-35 jet fighter, Lockheed Martin,” the group found.

“A 10 percent cut in spending on military contractors would provide enough money to hire 395,000 elementary school teachers or provide health insurance for 13 million children.”
—Lindsay Koshgarian, National Priorities Project

Writing for Truthout on Tuesday, Koshgarian pointed out that the political choice to devote such massive sums of taxpayer money to the Pentagon and corporate war profiteers has very “real consequences.”

“A 10 percent cut in spending on military contractors would provide enough money to hire 395,000 elementary school teachers or provide health insurance for 13 million children,” Koshgarian observed.

If Trump and Republican lawmakers have their way, Americans could soon be dumping even more tax money into the American war machine while healthcare, food stamps, education, and other public programs are slashed.

As Common Dreams reported last month, Trump signed an omnibus spending bill that contained $700 billion in Pentagon funding, and he has asked for an even bigger military budget for next year.

Massachusetts Peace Action highlighted a breakdown of the president’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2019:

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Read more great articles at Common Dreams.




7 Questions About the Syria Airstrikes That Aren’t Being Asked by Corporate Media

By Richard Escow | Common Dreams

Mission accomplished,” says the President. What, exactly, was the mission? And what exactly was accomplished?

Donald Trump is being mocked for using this phrase in a tweet to praise what he claims was a “perfectly executed” airstrike against chemical weapons facilities in Syria. This recalls George W. Bush’s egregious evocation of the phrase in 2003 to claim an early end to the U.S. entanglement in Iraq, which is still ongoing fifteen years later.

History made a fool of Bush for that proclamation, which was printed on a banner behind the President as he delivered his speech proclaiming an end to the Iraqi conflict on the deck of an aircraft carrier.

But Bush’s foolish and lethal incursion to Iraq had the backing of virtually the entire national-security establishment. So did Donald Trump’s bombing attack on Syria, as did the bombing attack he ordered last year.

The Costs of Intervention

U.S. media, for the most part, reinforce the idea that intervention by our military is the preferred solution to global conflicts. Some of the same reporters who now mock Trump for saying “Mission Accomplished” cheered on Bush’s invasion of Iraq. They remember Bush’s errors, but not their own.

The media’s job, we are told, is to ask skeptical questions about the people in power. That didn’t happen much in the runup to the invasion of Iraq, and it’s not happening now. Here are the questions that should be asked – not just on the eve of a bombing attack, but every day we continue our disastrous and drifting military intervention in the Middle East.

1. Why couldn’t the military wait for inspectors to do their jobs?

Inspectors from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, an international non-proliferation organization, were scheduled to arrive in Douma, Syria on Saturday, April 15 to begin investigating the reported chemical attack on civilians there. The airstrikes took place on Friday, April 14.

This is a disturbing echo of the 2003 Iraq invasion. There, too, the United States was unwilling to wait for international inspectors to discover the facts before beginning the attack. Fifteen years on, we know that didn’t work out very well. Why couldn’t the bombing of Syria wait for inspectors to do their work?

2. How do we know we’re being told the truth?

“We are confident that we have crippled Syria’s chemical weapons program,” said U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. That statement was echoed by military leaders. But a report from Agence France Presse suggests that one destroyed building, described by attacking forces as a chemical-weapons facility, was actually a pharmaceutical and research facility specializing in food testing and antivenoms for scorpion and snake bites.

“If there were chemical weapons, we would not be able to stand here,” said someone who identified himself as an engineer who worked at the facility.

Given our country’s long history of public deception from military and civilian officials, why aren’t we demanding independent confirmation of the airstrikes’ effectiveness?

3.Have strikes like these ever really “punished” a country’s leader – or “sent them a message,” for that matter?

We keep hearing the cliché that airstrikes like these are meant to “punish” leaders like Assad. This time was no different. And yet, it’s unlikely that Assad personally suffered as a result of this attack.

So who, really, are we punishing?

Then there’s this comment, from Defense Secretary James Mattis: “Together we have sent a clear message to Assad and his murderous lieutenants that they should not perpetrate another chemical weapons attack.”

That was also the presumed purpose of Trump’s last missile attack on Syria, less than a year ago. Trump supporters claimed that attack sent a forceful “message,” too – to Assad, to Putin, the Chinese, and others. “With just one strike that message was sent to all these people,” claimed former Trump advisor Sebastian Gorka.

The situation in Syria did not perceptibly change after that attack. And the day after this latest airstrike, Assad launched a new round of airstrikes of his own.

These airstrikes seem more performative than tactical – warfare as theater, but with real lives at stake. There must be better ways to send a message.

4. Why isn’t the full range of U.S. activity in Syria getting more coverage?

Thanks to widespread under-reporting of U.S. involvement in Syria, commentators can complain about “years of unmasterly inactivity by the democracies” with a straight face, wrongly blaming that nation’s disasters on a failure to intervene.

In a paragraph that was subsequently deleted from its website, the Washington Postwrote that the latest airstrikes “capped nearly a week of debate in which Pentagon leaders voiced concerns that an attack could pull the United States into Syria’s civil war.” As of this writing, that language can still be found in syndicated versions of the article.

We were pulled into that civil war a long time ago.  The United States has more than 2,000 troops in Syria, a fact that was not immediately revealed to the American people. That figure is understated, although the Pentagon will not say by how much, since it excludes troops on classified missions and some Special Forces personnel.

Before Trump raised the troop count, the CIA was spending $1 billion per yearsupporting anti-government militias under President Obama.  That hasn’t prevented a rash of commentary complaining about U.S. “inaction” in Syria before Trump took office. It didn’t prevent additional chaos and death, either – and probably made the situation worse.

5. Where are the advocates for a smarter national security policy?

There’s been very little real debate inside the national security establishment about the wisdom of these strikes, and what debate there has been has focused on the margins. Anne-Marie Slaughter, a senior State Department official under Secretary Hillary Clinton in the Obama administration, tweeted:

I believe that the U.S., U.K, & France did the right thing by striking Syria over chemical weapons. It will not stop the war nor save the Syrian people from many other horrors. It is illegal under international law. But it at least draws a line somewhere & says enough.

In other words: This attack will not achieve any tactical goals or save any lives. And it is illegal – just as chemical weapons attacks are illegal – under international law. It’s illegal under U.S. law, too, which is the primary focus of Democratic criticism.

But, says Slaughter, the amorphous goals of “drawing a line” and “saying enough” make it worthwhile, for reasons that are never articulated.

Michèle Flournoy, who served as Under Secretary of Defense under President Obama and was considered a leading Defense Secretary prospect in a Hillary Clinton Administration, said:

  • What Trump got right: upheld the international norm against [chemical weapon] use, built international support for and participation in the strikes, sought to minimize collateral damage — Syrian, Russian, Iranian.
  • What Trump got wrong: continuing to use taunting, name-calling tweets as his primary form of (un)presidential communication; failing to seriously consult Congress before deciding to launch the strikes; after more than a year in office, still no coherent Syria strategy.

6. How can a country uphold international norms by violating international law?

If Trump lacks a coherent Syria policy, he has company. Obama’s policy toward Syria shifted and drifted. Hillary Clinton backed Trump’s last round of airstrikes and proposed a “no-fly” policy for Syria that could have quickly escalated into open confrontation with Russia.

The country deserves a rational alternative to Trump’s impulsivity and John Bolton’s extreme bellicosity and bigotry. When it comes to foreign policy, we need a real opposition party. What will it take to develop one?

Commentators have been pushing Trump to take aggressive military action in Syria, despite the potential for military conflict with nuclear-armed Russia. MSNBC’s Dana Bash accused Trump of “an inexplicable lack of resolve regarding Russia” – leaving the audience to make its own inferences – adding, “We have not been willing to take them on.”

In the same segment, reported by FAIR’s Adam Johnson, Bash complained that “the U.S. hasn’t done “a very good job pushing Russia out of the way,” adding that “we’ve let Russia have too free a hand, in my view, in the skies over Syria.”  Her colleague Andrea Mitchell responded that “the criticism is that the president is reluctant to go after Russia.”

The Drum Beats On

“Mission accomplished.”

This drumbeat of political pressure has forced Trump’s hand. He has now directed missiles against Syria, twice. Both attacks carried the risk of military confrontation with the world’s other nuclear superpower.

That risk is greater than most people realize, as historian and military strategist Maj. Danny Sjursen explained in our recent conversation.

Trump has now adopted a more aggressive military posture against Russia than Barack Obama. Whatever his personal involvement with the Russian government turns out to have been, it is in nobody’s best interests to heighten tensions between two nuclear superpowers.

The national security establishment has been promoting a confrontational approach, but they’ve been unable to explain how that would lead to a better outcome for the US or the world – just as they’ve been unable to explain how unilateral military intervention can lead to a good outcome in Syria.

7. Did the airstrikes make Trump “presidential”?

“Amid distraction and dysfunction,” wrote Mike Allen and Jonathan Swan for Axios, “Trump looked and acted like a traditional commander-in-chief last night.”

The constitutional phrase, “Commander in Chief,” was originally understood to underscore the fact that the military is under civilian control. It has devolved into a title that confers a quasi-military rank on the president.  That’s getting it backwards. The fetishization of all things military is one of the reasons we can’t have a balanced debate about military intervention.

Besides, saying that an act of war makes Trump “presidential” – that’s so 2017!

Here’s a suggestion: In 1963, John F. Kennedy rejected his generals’ advice to strike Soviet installations during the Cuban missile crisis.

Rejecting reckless calls to military action: Now that’s a “presidential” act worth bringing back.

Richard Eskow

Richard (RJ) Eskow is Senior Advisor for Health and Economic Justice at Social Security Works and the host of The Zero Hour with RJ Eskow on Free Speech TV.

Read more great articles at Common Dreams.




The War in Syria was a US Intervention Since “Day 1”

By Tony Cartalucci | Activist Post

In the aftermath of US-led missile strikes on Syria, the Western media has attempted to continue building the case for “US intervention.”

However, before the first agitators took to the streets in Syria in 2011, the US was already involved.

The New York Times in its 2011 article, “U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings,” would admit (emphasis added):

A number of the groups and individuals directly involved in the revolts and reforms sweeping the region, including the April 6 Youth Movement in Egypt, the Bahrain Center for Human Rights and grass-roots activists like Entsar Qadhi, a youth leader in Yemen, received training and financing from groups like the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House, a nonprofit human rights organization based in Washington, according to interviews in recent weeks and American diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks. 

The work of these groups often provoked tensions between the United States and many Middle Eastern leaders, who frequently complained that their leadership was being undermined, according to the cables.

The financing of agitators from across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) before the so-called “Arab Spring” was meant to stampede targeted governments from power – paving the way for US client states to form. Nations that resisted faced – first, US-backed militants – and failing that, direct US military intervention – as seen in Libya in 2011.

After the US funded initial unrest in 2011 – the US has armed and funded militants fighting in Syria ever since.

The same NYT would publish a 2013 article titled, “Arms Airlift to Syria Rebels Expands, With Aid From C.I.A.,” admitting (emphasis added):

With help from the C.I.A., Arab governments and Turkey have sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters in recent months, expanding a secret airlift of arms and equipment for the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, according to air traffic data, interviews with officials in several countries and the accounts of rebel commanders.

The airlift, which began on a small scale in early 2012 and continued intermittently through last fall, expanded into a steady and much heavier flow late last year, the data shows. It has grown to include more than 160 military cargo flights by Jordanian, Saudi and Qatari military-style cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and, to a lesser degree, at other Turkish and Jordanian airports.

As the proxy war the US waged against Damascus began to fail, multiple attempts were made to justify direct US military intervention in Syria as the US and its allies did in 2011 against the Libyan government.

This includes repeated attempts to enforce the “responsibility to protect” doctrine, multiple false-flag chemical attacks beginning with the Ghouta incident in 2013 and the emergence of the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS) which helped the US justify the deployment of ground troops now currently occupying eastern Syria.

The notion of the US currently “contemplating intervention” in Syria attempts to sidestep the fact that the Syrian conflict itself – from its inception – has been a US intervention.

Long Before “Day 1” 

Even before the most recent attempt at US-led regime change in Syria, the US has pursued campaigns of violent subversion aimed at Syria and its allies.

In 2007, veteran journalist Seymour Hersh would write in his article, “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?,” that (emphasis added):

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

Hersh’s words would become prophetic when, in 2011, the US would begin arming and backing militants – many with overt affiliations to Al Qaeda – in a bid to destabilize Syria and overthrow the government in Damascus.

The article would also lay out preparations that – even in 2007 – were clearly aimed at organizing  for and executing a wider conflict.

Yet, published CIA documents drawn from the US National Archives illustrate how this singular agenda seeking to overthrow the government of Syria stretches back even earlier – by decades.

A 1983 document signed by former CIA officer Graham Fuller titled, “Bringing Real Muscle to Bear Against Syria” (PDF), states (their emphasis):

Syria at present has a hammerlock on US interests both in Lebanon and in the Gulf — through closure of Iraq’s pipeline thereby threatening Iraqi internationalization of the [Iran-Iraq] war. The US should consider sharply escalating the pressures against Assad [Sr.] through covertly orchestrating simultaneous military threats against Syria from three border states hostile to Syria: Iraq, Israel and Turkey.

The report also states:

If Israel were to increase tensions against Syria simultaneously with an Iraqi initiative, the pressures on Assad would escalate rapidly. A Turkish move would psychologically press him further.

The document exposes both then and now, the amount of influence the US exerts across the Middle East and North Africa. It also undermines the perceived agency of states including Israel and NATO-member Turkey, revealing their subordination to US interests and that actions taken by these states are often done on behalf of Wall Street and Washington rather than on behalf of their own national interests.

Also mentioned in the document are a variety of manufactured pretexts listed to justify a unilateral military strike on northern Syria by Turkey. The  document explains:

Turkey has considered undertaking a unilateral military strike against terrorist camps in northern Syria and would not hesitate from using menacing diplomatic language against Syria on these issues.

Comparing this signed and dated 1983 US CIA document to more recent US policy papers and revelations of US funding of so-called activists prior to 2011,  reveals not only continuity of agenda – but that attempts to portray the 2011 “uprising” as spontaneous and as merely exploited by the US are disingenuous.

Breaking the Cycle 

The current stalemate in Syria is owed to Russia’s involvement in the conflict. This began in 2013 when Moscow brokered a political deal preventing US military intervention then – and again in 2015 when the Russian military – upon Damascus’ request – built up a presence within the nation. Today, it is the threat of Russian retaliation that has hemmed in US options and plunged American special interests into increasing depths of desperation.

The recent missile strikes by the US and its tentative holdings in eastern Syria reflect geopolitical atrophy amid a conflict that was initially aimed at quickly stampeding the Syrian government from power back in 2011.

Washington’s inability to achieve its objectives leave it in an increasingly desperate position – attempting to reassert itself in the region or face the irreversible decline of its so-called “international order.” However, a desperate hegemon in decline is still dangerous.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook”, where this article first appeared.

Read more great articles at Activist Post.




World Leaders Condemn Attack on Syria as US Threatens Additional Airstrikes

By Julian Conley | Common Dreams

As foreign policy experts denounced the missile strikes ordered by President Donald Trump Friday night, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley further troubled critics on Saturday when she warned that the U.S. is prepared to attack the war-torn country again.

“I spoke to the US president this morning and he said that if the Syrian regime uses this poisonous gas again, the United States is locked and loaded,” Haley intoned at an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council, referring to a suspected chemical attack that Trump has accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of carrying out last weekend.

https://twitter.com/RealEagleWings/status/985185388703690752?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Her statement came before the Security Council voted against a Russian resolutionthat would have condemned the missile strikes, with eight nations rejecting the resolution, four abstaining, and three countries—Bolivia, China, and Russia—voting in favor of it.

Haley’s declaration was denounced by some of her counterparts at the UN, with Bolivian ambassador Sacha Sergio Llorenty Soliz expressing hope that international law would “prevail.”

“Her country is ready, is ‘locked and loaded,'” said Soliz. “Of course, we clearly heard her words with a great deal of concern and a great deal of sadness. We know that the United States has aircraft carriers, that they have satellites, that they have ‘intelligent missiles, smart bombs,’ they have a huge arsenal of nuclear weapons.”

Holding up the U.N. charter, which allows the use of military force for members only when necessary for self-defense or with the approval of the Security Council, Soliz concluded, “And we also know that they have nothing but scorn for international law, but we have this.”

“We know that the United States has aircraft carriers, that they have satellites, that they have ‘intelligent missiles, smart bombs,’ they have a huge arsenal of nuclear weapons. And we also know that they have nothing but scorn for international law.” —Bolivian ambassador Sacha Sergio Llorenty Soliz

Russia’s ambassador, Vasily A. Nebenzia, added that the airstrikes, carried out by the U.S. as well as the U.K. and France, amounted to “aggression against a sovereign state” without allowing the U.N. to investigate the suspected poison gas attack. A probeby the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons was set to begin Saturday.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged  “restraint” at the meeting, and asked all nations “to avoid any acts that could escalate matters and worsen the suffering of the Syrian people.”

The British and French officials at the meeting joined Haley in defending their countries’ actions, calling the strikes “limited, targeted and effective” and claiming they had evidence of Assad’s responsibility for the chemical attack, with French ambassador François Delattre saying the gas attack tested “the threshold of the international community’s tolerance.”

“You can’t combat the alleged violation of international law by violating international law,” Soliz countered.

In the Middle East, the missile strikes were met with condemnation and anxiety over what the escalation could mean for the region.

“Such action could have dangerous consequences, threatening the security and stability of the region and giving terrorism another opportunity to expand after it was ousted from Iraq and forced into Syria to retreat to a large extent,” said the Iraqi foreign ministry in a statement  Saturday.

Read more great articles at Common Dreams.




There’s a Good Chance We’re Being Lied to About the Chemical Attack in Syria

By Darius Shahtahmasebi | The Anti-Media

(ANTIMEDIA Op-ed)  If you’re feeling an unnerving sense of deja vu amid recent global developments, it’s because we have been here before — many times.

The United States and its allies have been accusing the Syrian government of committing chemical weapons attacks in Syria almost since the conflict began in 2011. In August 2012, then-President Barack Obama publicly warned the Assad government that the red line for his administration was “a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized,” which would prompt a U.S. intervention. (Additionally, after Obama successfully had Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi assassinated in 2011, he also indicated to Assad that he would be next.)

Since Obama drew his red line, the official narrative went something along these lines: Assad decided to give Obama the international political middle finger and routinely massacred civilians with banned nerve agents such as sarin gas, even in the face of these warnings and hawkish calls for intervention. The latest alleged attack took place over this past weekend in a Damascus suburb in Eastern Ghouta known as Douma, just days after Trump called for the withdrawal of U.S. forced from Syria.

But before the powers-that-be drag us all into what could easily spiral into one of the greatest world conflicts of our time, perhaps we should double-check this narrative and examine the available evidence.

A Brief History of Lies

While there have been indications of repeated chemical gas attacks in Syria, the mainstream media has pounced on four major incidents in order to justify military action against the Syrian state.

The first alleged incident, or set of incidents, took place between March and April 2013. Shortly after they occurred, then-U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon announced the United Nations would conduct an investigation into the alleged use of chemical weapons. While the U.S. continued to use these accusations to put pressure on the Syrian government and garner support for an international intervention, two things happened that quickly unraveled the narrative.

First, at the end of April 2013, the U.S. intelligence community sent a letter to Senators Carl Levin (D-Mich) and John McCain (R-Ariz) saying the Assad government “may” have used the nerve agent sarin on a “small scale” but that the U.S. needed more evidence to provide “some degree of certainty” for taking any action against the Syrian government as “intelligence assessments alone are not sufficient.

Second — and most important — is that U.N. investigator Carla Del Ponte came out publicly in May 2013 to state that while she could not rule out the possibility that government forces may have used chemical weapons, the evidence actually suggested Syrian rebels had deployed sarin gas. The allegations of chemical weapons use swiftly disappeared from the mainstream narrative. For her part, Del Ponte later expressed that before resigning in September last year she had collected enough evidence to trial Assad for war crimes, as well as the use of sarin gas at some stage during the conflict, including in April last year. We will turn to this incident further below.

The second major attack took place in August 2013. This incident was given immense media coverage as the Obama administration made plans to prepare for an extensive strike plan to weaken the Syrian government. However, this was a shoot-first-ask-questions-later approach to the incident considering the evidence regarding Assad’s culpability still had not been established.

In the London Review of Books (LRB), Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh published his own investigation into the incident in which he concluded that the U.S. had deliberately attempted to frame the evidence in order to justify a strike on Assad without even considering that al-Nusra (then Syria’s official al-Qaeda branch) could also have been a prime suspect given its known access to nerve agents and its ability to use them. Hersh also noted that al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) – now referred to as ISIS – also had the scientific knowledge required to produce sarin. ISIS has reportedly used chemical weapons at least 52 times in Iraq and Syria.

Further, both former U.N. weapons inspector Richard Lloyd and Theodore Postol, a former scientific adviser at the Department of Defense and current professor emeritus at MIT, also cast serious doubt on the incident, explaining that the rockets were much too short-range to have been fired from government-controlled areas. U.N. weapons inspector Ake Sellström came to a similar conclusion.

According to phone calls intercepted by German intelligence, Assad did not personally order the August chemical attack. He also blocked numerous requests from his military commanders to use chemical weapons against opposition forces in the months that preceded the incident.

In the years that followed, the United States’ focus turned instead to ISIS, which inevitably gave the U.S. military backdoor access to bomb Syrian territory without resorting to any form of democratic oversight. It wasn’t until Donald Trump was elected president that the U.S. decided to re-enact Obama’s longstanding hostility to what – on the face of it – appears to be unsubstantiated allegations of chemical weapon usage. Of course, we were also told that Assad had already destroyed his stockpile of chemical weapons, which was supposedly confirmed by the U.N. in 2014.

In April of last year, Donald Trump ordered a barrage of missiles at a Syrian government airbase in response to what was alleged to have been yet another chemical weapons attack. Trump ordered the response well before any investigation was even conducted; in fact, by bombing the airbase allegedly responsible for the incident, Trump was effectively bombing the evidence required for such an investigation.

This chemical weapons attack was disputed by notable experts, including former weapons inspector Scott Ritter and Theodore Postol, as well as Seymour Hersh, who, again, conducted an investigation of his own. Postol told the Anti-Media by email last year that after analyzing a New York Times report that sought to bolster the claims against Assad, Postol’s assessment was that “there is absolutely no evidence of bomb damage at any of the three alleged sites.”

Then, in February of this year, U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis confirmed that the U.S. government had no evidence that the Syrian government used sarin gas on its own people.

The most recent chemical weapons attack is no different. Reuters already reported that U.S. government officials told the outlet the U.S. had “not yet conclusively determined whether the attack was carried out by President Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian government forces.”

Even the hawkish U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May actually told the U.S. that they would need more evidence before they considered joining in U.S.-led airstrikes on the Syrian government.

And yet, without this evidence, the U.S. government and its allies are already preparing for a military response.  On both occasions under the Trump administration, the U.S. was actively discussing leaving Syria alone in the days leading up to the event only for Assad to respond in kind by gassing civilians. Are we to believe he really is a moron or that he really is that evil?

Even if Assad is responsible for the chemical weapons attacks, what next?

Unless we are missing something, the available evidence doesn’t even come close to proving the Assad government has used sarin gas in the major incidents referred to above. Remember, these incidents are the prime focus of the mainstream media and warmongering politicians who capitalize on these incidents to pursue a neoconservative agenda written in stone over a decade ago.

Clearly, there are indications that Assad’s forces may have used chemical weapons at some point in time — but why is it that the media and western governments only seem to advance the claims that have never been proven beyond any reasonable doubt? All four such over-hyped incidents have been seriously questioned either by the intelligence communities themselves or by experts in the area (and even by James Mattis).

However, for the sake of argument, let’s suppose that Syrian government forces were responsible for the heinous attack. What then?

Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned in 2012 that in order to take out Syria’s air defenses successfully, the U.S. would require 70,000 personnel on the ground. Remember, this was before Russia had intervened in the conflict, meaning the U.S. would now need a larger commitment than to actually defeat the Syrian government in any meaningful way.

“Assad’s monstrous crimes are not in doubt, and I don’t doubt that he’s capable of this,” Professor Noam Chomsky of MIT told Anti-Media via email on Tuesday. “But I don’t know any more than that. Even if it turns out that Assad was responsible, it’s hard to think of a military response that is not likely to make a horrendous situation even worse – maybe far worse – in contrast to other major atrocities in the region that we can do a great deal about, by withdrawing our participation in them, as in Yemen.

In other words, even if Assad is guilty of some of the worst crimes imaginable, the U.S. has no standing to criticize or do something about these actions, given its support for ongoing atrocities across the globe. Israel is currently sniping down unarmed protesters in the Gaza Strip, including journalists. Saudi Arabia continues to obliterate Yemen. All of these incidents are carried out with the full support of the United States, which is actively bombing and causing widespread civilian suffering in at least seven countries across the region (including and especially in Syria).

As Chomsky explained to Anti-Media:

“To borrow my late friend and collaborator Ed Herman’s typically pithy terms, there are worthy victims (theirs) and unworthy victims (ours), nefarious bloodbaths (theirs) and benign and constructive bloodbaths (ours)… And the natural corollary is that those who prefer the path that elementary morality dictates tend to be ignored or vilified.

Op-ed / Creative Commons / Anti-Media / Report a typo

Read more great articles at The Anti-Media.




Wake Up People! NOW Is the Time to Transform Our War Economy

By 

This piece is adapted from a speech given by Brock McIntosh at a mass meeting for the Poor People’s Campaign. 

I’m here to speak to you today about one of Dr. King’s triple evils: militarism. As an Afghanistan War veteran, I’d like to highlight an aspect of his warning about militarism, when he said, “This way of… injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane… cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love.”

I’d like to tell you all about the precise moment I realized there was poison in me. I’m the child of a nurse and a factory worker in the heartland of Illinois, the family of blue-collar and service workers. At the height of the Iraq War, military recruiters at my high school attracted me with sign up bonuses and college assistance that some saw as their ticket out—for me, I hoped it was my ticket up, providing opportunities that once felt out of reach.

Two years later, when I was 20 years old, I was standing over the body of a 16-year-old Afghan boy. A roadside bomb he was building prematurely detonated. He was covered in shrapnel and burns and now lay sedated after having one of his hands amputated by our medics. His other hand had the calloused roughness of a farmer or a shepherd.

As he lay there with a peaceful expression, I studied the details of his face and caught myself rooting for him. ‘If this boy knew me,’ I thought, ‘he wouldn’t want to kill me.’ And here I am, supposed to want to kill him. And feeling bad that I wanted him to live.That is the poisoned mind. That is the militarized mind. And all the opportunities afforded me by the military can’t repay the cost of war on my soul. It is poor folks who carry the burden of war for the elites who send them.

A working-class boy from Illinois sent halfway around the world to kill a young farmer. How did we get here? How did this crazy war economy come to be?

“We need a Poor People’s Campaign to amplify the voices of regular folks above the lobby of militarized industry, a poisoned economy, to demand jobs in industries other than war-making, to demand opportunities for working class folks that don’t require killing other working class folks.”




The Iraq Death Toll 15 Years After the US Invasion

Men load the bodies of people recovered from the rubble of a house in western Mosul, Iraq in 2017. More than 200 were killed in the U.S. bombing. (Photograph: Cengiz Yar)

By Medea Benjamin, Nicolas J S Davies | Common Dreams

March 19 marks 15 years since the U.S.-U.K invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the American people have no idea of the enormity of the calamity the invasion unleashed. The US military has refused to keep a tally of Iraqi deaths. General Tommy Franks, the man in charge of the initial invasion, bluntly told reporters, “We don’t do body counts.” One survey found that most Americans thought Iraqi deaths were in the tens of thousands. But our calculations, using the best information available, show a catastrophic estimate of 2.4 million Iraqi deaths since the 2003 invasion.

The number of Iraqi casualties is not just a historical dispute, because the killing is still going on today. Since several major cities in Iraq and Syria fell to Islamic State in 2014, the U.S. has led the heaviest bombing campaign since the American War in Vietnam, dropping 105,000 bombs and missiles and reducing most of Mosul and other contested Iraqi and Syrian cities to rubble.

An Iraqi Kurdish intelligence report estimated that at least 40,000 civilians were killedin the bombardment of Mosul alone, with many more bodies still buried in the rubble.  A recent project to remove rubble and recover bodies in just one neighborhood found 3,353 more bodies, of whom only 20% were identified as ISIS fighters and 80% as civilians. Another 11,000 people in Mosul are still reported missing by their families.

Of the countries where the U.S. and its allies have been waging war since 2001, Iraq is the only one where epidemiologists have actually conducted comprehensive mortality studies based on the best practices that they have developed in war zones such as Angola, Bosnia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala, Kosovo, Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda. In all these countries, as in Iraq, the results of comprehensive epidemiological studies revealed 5 to 20 times more deaths than previously published figures based on “passive” reporting by journalists, NGOs or governments.

Two such reports on Iraq came out in the prestigious The Lancet medical journal, first in 2004 and then in 2006. The 2006 study estimated that about 600,000 Iraqis were killed in the first 40 months of war and occupation in Iraq, along with 54,000 non-violent but still war-related deaths.

The US and UK governments dismissed the report, saying that the methodology was not credible and that the numbers were hugely exaggerated. In countries where Western military forces have not been involved, however, similar studies have been accepted and widely cited without question or controversy. Based on advice from their scientific advisers, British government officials privately admitted that the 2006 Lancet report was “likely to be right,” but precisely because of its legal and political implications, the U.S. and British governments led a cynical campaign to discredit it.

A 2015 report by Physicians for Social Responsibility, Body Count: Casualty Figures After 10 Years of the ‘War on Terror,” found the 2006 Lancet study more reliable than other mortality studies conducted in Iraq, citing its robust study design, the experience and independence of the research team, the short time elapsed since the deaths it documented and its consistency with other measures of violence in occupied Iraq.

The Lancet study was conducted over 11 years ago, after only 40 months of war and occupation. Tragically, that was nowhere near the end of the deadly consequences of the Iraq invasion.

In June 2007, a British polling firm, Opinion Research Business (ORB), conducted a further study and estimated that 1,033,000 Iraqis had been killed by then.

While the figure of a million people killed was shocking, the Lancet study had documented steadily increasing violence in occupied Iraq between 2003 and 2006, with 328,000 deaths in the final year it covered. ORB’s finding that another 430,000 Iraqis were killed in the following year was consistent with other evidence of escalating violence through late 2006 and early 2007.

Just Foreign Policy’s “Iraqi Death Estimator” updated the Lancet study’s estimate by multiplying passively reported deaths compiled by British NGO Iraq Body Count by the same ratio found in 2006. This project was discontinued in September 2011, with its estimate of Iraqi deaths standing at 1.45 million.

Taking ORB’s estimate of 1.033 million killed by June 2007, then applying a variation of Just Foreign Policy’s methodology from July 2007 to the present using revised figures from Iraq Body Count, we estimate that 2.4 million Iraqis have been killed since 2003 as a result of our country’s illegal invasion, with a minimum of 1.5 million and a maximum of 3.4 million.

These calculations cannot possibly be as accurate or reliable as a rigorous up-to-date mortality study, which is urgently needed in Iraq and in each of the countries afflicted by war since 2001.  But in our judgment, it is important to make the most accurate estimate we can.

Numbers are numbing, especially numbers that rise into the millions. Please remember that each person killed represents someone’s loved one. These are mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, sons, daughters. One death impacts an entire community; collectively, they impact  an entire nation.

As we begin the 16th year of the Iraq war, the American public must come to terms with the scale of the violence and chaos we have unleashed in Iraq. Only then may we find the political will to bring this horrific cycle of violence to an end, to replace war with diplomacy and hostility with friendship, as we have begun to do with Iran and as the people of North and South Korea are trying to do to avoid meeting a similar fate to that of Iraq.

Nicolas J S Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq and of the chapter on “Obama At War” in Grading the 44th President: A Report Card on Barack Obama’s First Term as a Progressive Leader.

Read more great articles at Common Dreams.




Popular American Journalist Explains How There Was No Sarin Gas Attack By Assad In Syria

By Arjun Walia | Collective Evolution

Russian president, Putin, within recent years, has given multiple speeches stating that this ‘global elite’ are and have been using “imaginary” and “mythical” threats to push forth their agenda. He began his speech at  the 13th annual meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club, whose theme  was “The Future in Progress: Shaping the World of Tomorrow.” by arguing that the oligarchic ‘1 percent’ that dominate our world “abandoned substantive and equal dialogue with other actors in international life, chose not to improve or create universal institutions, and attempted instead to bring the entire world under the spread of their own organisations, norms and rules. They chose the road of globalisation and security for their own beloved selves, for the select few, and not for all.”
It’s interesting for mainstream politicians to mention this, it’s trend that’s been happening for a long time and it raises an eyebrow because there is evidence to back it up.US Four Star General and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark once expressedthat the US is invading other countries for no good reason, but simply because they have “a good military and can take down governments.”
Perhaps the best example would be 9/11, where many believe that a powerful group of people orchestrated the event, in order to justify the invasion of the Middle East for ulterior motives. This means, if true, essentially every single thing we hear from the mainstream media and their perspective towards these types of events, is complete fake news.

Robert O’Leary, JD BARA, has had an abiding interest in alternative health products & modalities since the early 1970’s & he has seen how they have made people go from lacking health to vibrant health. He became an attorney, singer-songwriter, martial artist & father along the way and brings that experience to his practice as a BioAcoustic Soundhealth Practitioner, under the tutelage of the award-winning founder of BioAcoustic Biology, Sharry Edwards, whose Institute of BioAcoustic Biology has now been serving clients for 30 years with a non-invasive & safe integrative modality that supports the body’s ability to self-heal using the power of the human voice. Robert brings this modality to serve clients in Greater Springfield (MA), New England. Robert can be reached at romayasoundhealthandbeauty@gmail.com.




Media Silent as Congress Finally Debates America’s Endless Wars [VIDEO]

By Andrea Germanos | Common Dreams

Taking “an important step towards a long overdue debate and vote,” a bipartisan congressional hearing Tuesday afternoon put a spotlight on what is often dubbed a “blank check for war”—the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF).

For over 16 years—a time period spanning the George W. Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations—the executive branch has leaned on that AUMF to justify wars across the world—from the Philippines to Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia—in the name of defeating supposed terrorist organizations, without prior congressional approval.

“We cannot afford to wait any longer while these wars expand. For too long, Congress has ignored our duties on these ongoing wars,” said meeting co-chair Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) at the start of the hearing.

Rep. Lee, it should be noted, was the sole member of Congress to vote against the AUMF, which was passed in the wake of the Sept. 11 attack.

The “2001 AUMF has become a blank check for any president to wage war anytime, anywhere, anyplace without the consent or oversight of Congress,” she continued.

As the Congressional Progressive Caucus, which co-hosted the ad hoc hearing along with the House Liberty Caucus, tweeted, “It’s time to revisit the U.S. role in military operations around the globe.”

Among the experts offering testimony at the hearing was Rita Siemion, international legal counsel at Human Rights First, who noted that not only has the AUMF “been interpreted as authorizing military operations that Congress never intended,” it has also been used to justify “a range of human rights abuses from detention without charge or trial to extrajudicial killings via drone strikes far from any battlefield.”

Congress, she argued, “must discuss and debate the difficult question of whether the war-centered approach [to counterterrorism] of the past 16 and a half years has been effective.” If Congress does decide that continued military force is needed, she laid out what she believes a new AUMF should include:

First, any new AUMF should name the specific enemy that military force is authorized against and specify the permitted mission objectives to prevent the executive branch from overstepping Congress’s intent.

Second, any new AUMF should include robust reporting requirements to promote democratic accountability and enable Congress to fulfill its critical oversight functions.

Third, any new AUMF should require compliance with U.S. obligations under international law to demonstrate to our allies and enemies alike that the United States is a nation that complies with the rule of law and is committed to its obligations to respect state sovereignty, human rights  and the law of armed conflict.

Fourth, any new AUMF should include language that makes it clear that it is the sole source of statutory authority to use force against the enemy named in the authorization to avoid overlap, confusion, or loopholes.

And last, but perhaps most importantly, any new AUMF should include a sunset provision that sets a timetable for ensuring continued congressional approval and oversight as the conflict evolves, providing a safeguard against perpetual armed conflict or overly expansive executive interpretations

The executive director of Veterans for Peace, Michael McPhearson, spoke at the hearing as well. “The cost of war to people should compel us to rethink U.S. foreign policy and specifically these current wars,” he said, citing the suicide risk veterans face, the pain of “Gold Star families,” the pain felt by Iraqis whose children were killed at the hands of U.S. forces, and torture committed by U.S. forces at places like the Abu Ghraib prison.

Veterans for Peace, Human Rights First, and other groups as well as members of Congress took to Twitter to highlight comments from the hearing and the importance of repealing the AUMF:

In a press statement following the meeting, Lee asserted that the “critical hearing showed that a growing, bipartisan group of Members are calling for a debate and vote on our ongoing wars. We are saying that enough is enough. The 2001 AUMF is a blank check for war—plain and simple.”

“For far too long, our brave service members have risked their lives around the world, while Congress has failed to even debate these military operations,” her statement continued. “Every day that Congress delays, we become further entangled in these conflicts. We owe it to our men and women in uniform to hold a debate on these endless wars.”

Also on Tuesday, 106 members of Congress (including 10 Republicans) signed on to a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) calling on him to lead the chamber in allowing “a serious debate and vote on the use of military force (AUMF).”

“The debate should also allow members the opportunity to debate and vote on the long-term costs and consequences of and alternatives to military action,” the letter said.

While praising the signatories “for adding their voices to this critical issue,” Yasmine Taeb, director for human rights and civil liberties at Friends Committee on National Legislation, decried how “Congress has abdicated its constitutional duty to decide where and when the United States goes to war.”

Watch the hearing in its entirety below:

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