Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘War on Terror

Cash rolls?
PATRICK COCKBURN. Tuesday 15 January 2013

As long as the cash rolls in, the West appears untroubled by Gulf monarchies’ ideology

Note: Remember this article was published in 2013. The world parties engaged in the war in Syria all knew the financial resources of the funding for terrors. The Western nations just delivered the purchased weapons and training and logistical support.

The West has portrayed Gulf leaders as natural allies in promoting democratic revolutions.

France is expecting the “Arab” monarchies of the Gulf to help the campaign against jihadi Islamist rebels in Mali, its Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (a Zionist) said today.

On a visit to the UAE, Mr Fabius outlined different ways of helping; through materials, or through financing – an ironic request given that private donors from these countries are believed to be the main supporters of  al-Qa’ida in Iraq and Syria.

The US and Western states have long looked to the Gulf monarchies to fund their actions in the Muslim world and beyond. Sometimes the funding has been direct, such as the financial and material aid Qatar gave the Libyan rebels in 2011.

At others, it has been indirect subsidies to groups, such as the Afghan mujahideen who were fighting the Soviets, with whom the West did not want to be quite so publicly associated.

Mr Fabius said that donors would meet towards the end of January in Addis Ababa, to finance an African push against al-Qa’ida. He said: “Everybody has to commit to fighting against terrorism. We are pretty confident that the Emirates will go in that direction as well.”

Relations between the US and its West European allies on the one side and the absolute monarchies of the Gulf on the other have been highly contradictory since the “Arab” Spring began two years ago. The West has portrayed the kings and emirs of the Gulf, ruling some of the most undemocratic states in the world, as natural allies in promoting and financing democratic revolutions in Libya and Syria.

A further contradiction is that Saudi Kingdom and the Sunni rulers have encouraged the salafis across the Muslim world – fundamentalist militants advocating a literal interpretation of the Koran – through paying for schools and mosques. While most of the salafi are non-violent, their ideology is similar to that of al-Qa’ida. (From where did Cockburn get this statement?)

Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya was an important donor and investor in sub-Saharan Africa and it is unlikely that the Gulf Arabs will be prepared to spend as much money.

Even Syrian rebels say the funds they receive come episodically and are inadequate, leading to widespread looting by rebel commanders.

While France is justifying its intervention in Mali by claiming it is all part of the “war on terror” its action may stir up further turmoil in the region. Interestingly, one rebel group in the north, the separatist MNLA that wants a homeland for Tuareg in northern Mali, is reported to have backed the French intervention

Note: As the Syrian army has practically re-conquered most of Syria and reached the Golan Heights and all the southern border with Jordan, Qatar, The Emirates and even Saudi Kingdom are conducting secret negotiations to re-open their embassies in Damascus.

Part 9. Ten Myths on Israel: Not how a “Democratic State” behave (by Ian Pappe)

No, Israel Is Not a Democracy

Destroying Palestinians’ Houses Is Not Democratic

Imprisoning Palestinians Without Trial Is Not Democratic (A mandated British law of administrative detention applied by Israel since its inception)

By lan Pappe

From Ten Myths About Israel, out now from Verso Books.

June 12, 2018 “Information Clearing House” –  Israel is not the only democracy in the Middle East. In fact, it’s not a democracy at all.

In the eyes of many Israelis and their supporters worldwide — even those who might criticize some of its policies — Israel is, at the end of the day, a benign democratic state, seeking peace with its neighbors, and guaranteeing equality to all its citizens.

Those who do criticize Israel assume that, if anything went wrong in this democracy, then it was due to the 1967 war.

Imprisoning Palestinians Without Trial Is Not Democratic

Another feature of the “enlightened occupation” is imprisonment without trial. Every fifth Palestinian in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip has undergone such an experience.

(Actually 60% of youths have gone through this humiliating revolving prison door. As most Black people in the USA can testify to this apartheid treatment)

It is interesting to compare this Israeli practice with similar American policies in the past and the present, as critics of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement claim that US practices are far worse.

In fact, the worst American example was the imprisonment without trial of one hundred thousand Japanese citizens during World War II, with thirty thousand later detained under the so-called “war on terror.

(In Israel, it is a systematic practice. Every night, a dozen Palestinian youths are hoarded out of their bed)

Neither of these numbers comes even close to the number of Palestinians who have experienced such a process: including the very young, the old, as well as the long-term incarcerated.

Arrest without trial is a traumatic experience.

Not knowing the charges against you, having no contact with a lawyer and hardly any contact with your family are only some of the concerns that will affect you as a prisoner.

More brutally, many of these arrests are used as means to pressure people into collaboration.

Spreading rumors or shaming people for their alleged or real sexual orientation are also frequently used as methods for leveraging complicity.

As for torture, the reliable website Middle East Monitor published a harrowing article describing the 200 methods used by the Israelis to torture Palestinians. The list is based on a UN report and a report from the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem.

Among other methods it includes beatings, chaining prisoners to doors or chairs for hours, pouring cold and hot water on them, pulling fingers apart, and twisting testicles.

(Actually, the majority of these torture techniques were borrowed from the British mandated power that applied them during the first Palestinian civil disobedience (Intifada) in 1935 and that lasted 3 years. The Palestinians have been demanding democratic elections in municipalities. Britain had to dispatch 100,000 troops and enlisted the Jews in that horror campaign)

A reflection on the Prince’s (Harry) version of a boy’s own adventure in Afghanistan
The author refused to serve a second tour in Afghanistan on legal and moral grounds, reflects on the Prince’s version of a boy’s own adventure. He later spending five months in military prison. His book, ‘Soldier Box‘, is published by Verso in May

Winter has come and over the last few days leading figures in the War on Terror, unwilling to wait for Season Three of Game of Thrones to hit screens, have been re-watching past episodes to the point that it’s colored their rhetoric.

Between Cameron’s assurances of a war against sundry evil-doers that will last ‘decades’ and French Defence Minister Le Driand’s frankly crackpot calls for a ‘total reconquest’ of Mali, the only question is: how long until we replace drones with halberds?

Joe Glenton published in The Independent on Jan. 22,  2013 under “Prince Harry was positively tame when talking about the brutal reality of war in Afghanistan”

Martial cant

The latest bit of martial cant has come from one dashing Captain Harry Wales; fighter, lover, occasional exhibitionist and warrior-prince of the House of Saxe-Gotha-Coburg.

Having had his first tour of Afghanistan cut short, he has just finished his latest stint, where he has been fighting astride Apache helicopters: the British Army’s multi-million pound engines of destruction.

The poor lad’s been having a hard time, even Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar – a man whose admirable turn of phrase just can’t make up for his human rights records – called him a ‘shameless, drunken jackal’ recently.

In all honesty, and I include a younger version of myself in this, that’s not a completely inaccurate description for young soldiers out on the town: hit the bars and clubs of Colchester on a Saturday night if you doubt me.

We didn’t generally take our disco-dancing shoes on operational tour, and Harry doesn’t kill Afghans while intoxicated as Hekmatyar suggested.

Apaches are too precious and expensive to be flown by drunkards, regardless of their pedigree. In fact, given that we aren’t doing at all well in Afghanistan, even with our potent technology, Apache may be even more of a burden on taxpayers then Harry himself.

While a number of Household Cavalry veterans have informed me that young Mr Wales was okay ‘as officers go’, which is a pretty glowing assessment in soldier-speak, his latest public comments do make him sound for the all the world like a gun-horny adolescent playing a pricey version of Call of Duty.

Mind you that squaddie culture and humour is close to the bone because the tasks soldiers are given are the grimmest imaginable and are often carried out, as in Afghanistan, without a mandate and with little public support.

Brutal humour is often the only kind of armour a soldier can get hold of easily, I recall an expression brought back from Bosnia by older members of my own unit that seems to capture it: If you don’t laugh you’ll only cry.

Captain Wales does come across as fairly casual when he talks about taking lives to save lives, stopping people doing ‘bad stuff’ and ‘taking people out of the game’.

In his defence though, and given his much publicized record as the royal social hand grenade, he may be politically naïve, or it could be that he’s a young man who’s been strapped into an attack helicopter for 20 weeks.

One of the best arguments against war is the effects it has on the people fighting – though clearly Harry is, unlike many of the infantrymen he’s supporting, a soldier by way of choice not economics, I would not wish sleepless nights on anyone, even as a republican.

Just a job

This trivialisation of violence is not new thing; it is part of the process of dehumanisation which is central to modern warfare. It seems to have taken on new forms in the post 9/11 campaigns.

During his short-lived first tour as a tactical air controller – calling in air strikes – Wales and his colleagues watched the bombs hit from their bunker on a live-feed monitor nicknamed ‘Kill TV’.

This notion of a kind of professional distance from the killing you are involved in is also expressed in the US military term for an Afghan, Pakistani or whoever is killed by a drone strike; a kill is referred to humorously – and officially – as a ‘bugsplat’ after a children’s computer game.

Harry’s comments are hardly revelatory and are tame compared to those I’ve heard from soldiers away from the media. To operate against and kill other humans, it helps to view this process as simply a job, however intellectually dishonest that is.

Military training is sophisticated social engineering and wartime experience has the effect of ingraining a certain type of callousness.

While war is a toxic institution, for a few of those who conduct it, particularly privileged young princes who find themselves in the vanguard of US power, it can appear to be a latter-day boy’s own adventure.

The author refused to serve a second tour in Afghanistan on legal and moral grounds, later spending five months in military prison. His book, ‘Soldier Box‘, is published by Verso in May

Note: Prince Harry married lately. He seems more at peace with himself and very well liked in Britain

Is it true that All revolutions are born in terror?

How can current terror attacks be stopped?

‘Virtue, without which terror is destructive; terror, without which virtue is impotent. Terror is only justice prompt, severe and inflexible; it is then an emanation of virtue…’  Maximilien Robespierre, On the Principles of Political Morality (1794)

(We can justify anything with resounding nonsense)

As pundits and politicians stoked the recent shootings in California into an existential threat; as French troops were deployed in Paris; as Belgian police locked down Brussels, and US and Russian planes intensified air attacks in Syria following yet another slaughter perpetrated in the name of the so-called Islamic State, it was easy to lose sight of a central fact.

Amid the bullets, bombs and bluster, we are not only failing to stop the spread of radical Islam, but our efforts often appear to contribute to it.

(That’s exactly the purpose of the US, France and England: to extend terrors overseas)

“The war with ISIS is a battle of ideas and values. The youth that radicalise seek to be subsumed in something bigger than themselves and a world they’ve come to see as meaningless and material.

Fomenting violence and belittling their rhetoric only fuels the fire.

In this sweeping essay, Scott Atran, the foremost expert on the psychology of radicalisation, analyses ISIS in the context of past revolutions. An absolute must-read: ow.ly/VSgjr

World-altering revolutions are born in danger and death, brotherhood and joy.…
aeon.co|By Aeon

What accounts for the failure of ‘The War on Terror’ and associated efforts to counter the spread of violent extremism?

The failure starts with reacting in anger and revenge, engendering more savagery without stopping to grasp the revolutionary character of radical Arab Sunni revivalism.

(If we have to fool ourselves by calling Wahhabism as an Islamic revival)

This revival is a dynamic, countercultural movement of world-historic proportions spearheaded by ISIS, (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).

In less than two years, it has created a dominion over hundreds of thousands of square kilometres and millions of people. And it possesses the largest and most diverse volunteer fighting force since the Second World War (And spreading everywhere people have felt subjugated and treated with indignity).

What the United Nations community regards as senseless acts of horrific violence are to ISIS’s acolytes part of an exalted campaign of purification through sacrificial killing and self-immolation:

Know that Paradise lies under the shade of swords, says a hadith, (third parties hearing of what the Prophet might have said); this one comes from the Sahih al-Bukhari, a collection of the Prophet’s sayings considered second only to the Qu’ran in authenticity and is now a motto of ISIS fighters.

(Almost most Islamic teaching are extracted from the collection of Hadith stories, and most of these stories are unreliable)

This is the purposeful plan of violence that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the Islamic State’s self-anointed Caliph, outlined in his call for ‘volcanoes of jihad’: to create a globe-spanning jihadi archipelago that will eventually unite to destroy the present world and create a new-old world of universal justice and peace under the Prophet’s banner.

A key tactic in this strategy is to inspire sympathisers abroad to violence: do what you can, with whatever you have, wherever you are, whenever possible.

To understand the revolution, my research team has conducted dozens of structured interviews and behavioural experiments with youth in Paris, London and Barcelona, as well as with captured ISIS fighters in Iraq and members of Jabhat al-Nusra (Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria).

We also focused on youth from distressed neighbourhoods previously associated with violence or jihadi support – for example, the Paris suburbs of Clichy-sous-Bois and Épinay-sur-Seine, the Moroccan neighbourhoods of Sidi Moumen in Casablanca and Jamaa Mezuak in Tetuán.

While many in the West dismiss radical Islam as simply nihilistic, our work suggests something far more menacing: a profoundly alluring mission to change and save the world.

In the West, the seriousness of this mission is denied.

Olivier Roy, usually a deep and subtle thinker, wrote last month in Le Monde that the Paris plotters represent most who flock to ISIS; they are marginal misfits largely ignorant of religion and geopolitics, and bereft of real historical grievances.

They ride the wave of radical Islam as an outlet for their nihilism because it’s the biggest and baddest countercultural movement around. And how else could one explain a mother who abandons her baby to die butchering innocents in San Bernadino who never did her harm?

But the worldwide ISIS revolution is hardly just a bandwagon for losers.

Although attacked on all sides by internal and external foes, the Islamic State has not deteriorated to any appreciable degree, while rooting ever stronger in areas it controls and expanding its influence in deepening pockets throughout Eurasia and Africa.

Despite recent White House reassurances, US intelligence tells us that ISIS is not being contained. Repeated claims that ISIS is being degraded and on the way to inevitable defeat ring hollow for almost anyone who has had direct experience in the field.

Only Kurdish frontline combatants and some Iranian-led forces have managed to fight ISIS to a standstill on the ground, and only with significant French and US air support. (Trying to forget the Russian massive engagement?)

Despite our relentless propaganda campaign against the Islamic State as vicious, predatory and cruel – most of which might be right – there is little recognition of its genuine appeal, and even less of the joy it engenders.

The mainly young people who volunteer to fight for it unto death feel a joy that comes from joining with comrades in a glorious cause, as well as a joy that comes from satiation of anger and the gratification of revenge (whose sweetness, says science, can be experienced by brain and body much like other forms of happiness).

But there is also a subliminal joy felt across the region for those who reject the Islamic State’s murderous violence yet yearn for the revival of a Muslim Caliphate and the end to a nation-state order that the Great Powers invented and imposed.

It is an order that has failed, and that the US, Russia and their respective allies are trying willy-nilly to resurrect, and it is an order that many in the region believe to be the root of their misery.

What the ISIS revolution is Not, is a simple desire to return to the ancient past. The idea that ISIS seeks a return to medieval times makes no more sense than the idea that the US Tea Party wants to return to 1776.

‘We are not sending people back to the time of the carrier pigeon,’ Abu Mousa, ISIS’s press officer in Raqqa, has said. ‘On the contrary, we will benefit from development. But in a way that doesn’t contradict the religion.’

(Total nonsense: The results on the ground are not promising that development is on the rise)

The Caliphate seeks a new order based on a culture of today. Unless we recognise these passions and aspirations, and deal with them using more than just military means, we will likely fan those passions and lose another generation to war and worse.

Treating the Islamic State as merely a form of terrorism or violent extremism masks the menace. All novel developments are ‘extremist’ compared with what was the norm before.

What matters for history is whether these movements survive and thrive against the competition.

For our singularly self-predatory species, success has depended on willingness to shed blood, including the sacrifice of one’s own, not merely for family and tribe, wealth or status, but for some greater cause. (Mostly deep belief in myths)

This has been especially true since the start of the Axial Age more than two millennia ago. At that time, large-scale civilisations arose under the watchful gaze of powerful divinities, who mercilessly punished moral transgressors – thus ensuring that even strangers in multiethnic empires would work and fight as one.

Call it ‘god’ or whatever secular ideology one prefers, including any of the great modern salvational -isms: colonialism, socialism, anarchism, communism, fascism and liberalism.

In Leviathan (1651), Thomas Hobbes deemed sacrifice for a transcendent ideal ‘the privilege of absurdity to which no creature but man is subject’. Humans make their greatest commitments and exertions, for ill or good, for the sake of ideas that give a sense of significance.

In an inherently chaotic universe, where humans alone recognise that death is unavoidable, there is an overwhelming psychological impetus to overcome this tragedy of cognition: to realise ‘why I am’ and ‘who we are’.

In The Descent of Man (1871), Charles Darwin cast this devotion as the virtue of ‘morality… the spirit of patriotism, fidelity, obedience, courage, and sympathy’ with which winning groups are better endowed in history’s spiralling competition for survival and dominance.

It is the sacred values, immune to material tradeoffs, that bind us most.

In any culture, an unwillingness to sell out one’s kin or religious and political brotherhoods and motherlands is the line we usually will not cross. Devotion to these values can drive successes which are out of all proportion to expected outcomes.

Asymmetric operations involving spectacular killings to destabilise the social order is a tactic that has been around as long as recorded history

Often these values, tethered to beliefs such as our ‘God is great, bodiless but omnipotent’ or our ‘free markets are always wise’, are attributed to Providence or Nature.

They can never be verified by empirical evidence, and their meaning is impossible to pin down.

The term ‘sacred values’ intuitively denotes religious belief, as when land is holy, but can also include the ‘secularised sacred’ such as the ‘hallowed ground’ of Gettysburg or the site of the attacks on New York City of 11 September 2001 (9/11).

The foundational beliefs of the great ideologicalisms and the quasi-religious notion of the Nation itself have been ritualised in song and ceremony and sacrifice.

‘Nothing human is alien to me,’ said Terence, the Roman slave who became a playwright and gave my own field of anthropology an enduring credo: to empathise with those most different from one’s own moral culture, without necessarily sympathising.

This is our call to comprehend. If we can only grasp why otherwise normal humans would want to die killing masses of other humans who have harmed no one, we might ourselves better avoid killing and being killed.

In our liberal democracy, intentional mass bloodshed is considered evil, an expression of human nature gone awry. But across most of human history and cultures, violence against other groups was considered a moral virtue, a classification necessary for killing masses of people innocent of harming others.

Besides, brutal terror scares the hell out of enemies and fence-sitters.

Kurdish leaders told my research group that when 350-400 Islamic State fighters came in a convoy of some 80 trucks to free Sunni captives (and massacre more than 600 Shia inmates) from Badoush prison in Iraq’s second largest city Mosul, a relatively well-equipped Iraqi army of some 18,000 troops under US-trained leaders immediately disappeared or ran away.

When I asked one Arab Sunni soldier embedded with a Kurdish Peshmerga force on the Mosul-Erbil front why fellow soldiers fled, he simply said: ‘They wanted to keep their heads.’ (Head beheading practices by ISIS and Saudi Kingdom)

The shutdown of Brussels in the wake of the Paris attacks, or of Boston in the aftermath of the marathon bombings in 2013, speaks to a comparable fear, and contributes to an underlying lack of faith in our own societies and values, something that terror attacks are designed to promote.

During the Second World War, not even the full might of the German Luftwaffe at the height of the Blitz could compel the UK government and the people of London to cower so (falling into the propaganda trap again: They cowered but Hitler spared them the indignity by stopping the bombing campaign).

Today, mere mention of an attack on New York in an ISIS video has US officials scurrying to calm the public.

Media exposure, which is the oxygen of terror in our age, not only amplifies the perception of danger but, in generating such hysteria, makes the bloated threat to society real.

This is especially true today because the media is mostly designed to titillate the public rather than inform it. Thus, it has become child’s play for ISIS to turn our own propaganda machine, the world’s mightiest, into theirs – boosting a novel, highly potent jujitsu style of asymmetric warfare that we could counter with responsible restraint and straight-up information, but we won’t.

The outcome is dangerous and preposterous. The US Justice Department, with overwhelming support from Congress and the media, now considers the common kitchen pressure cooker to be a ‘weapon of mass destruction’ if used for terrorism.

This ludicrously levels a cooking pot with a thermonuclear bomb that has many billions of times greater destructive power. It trivialises true weapons of mass destruction, making their acceptance more palatable and their use more conceivable.

In this present hyper-reality, messaging is war by other means. ISIS’s manipulation of our media creates a sense of foreboding of mass destruction where it isn’t really possible, and at the same time obscures any real future threat.

Asymmetric operations involving spectacular killings to destabilise the social order is a tactic that has been around as long as recorded history. Violent political and religious groups routinely provoke their enemies into overreacting, preferably by committing atrocities to get the others to drive in the sheep and collect the wool.

When the Romans occupied Judea following the death of Christ, the first revolts involved Jewish youths throwing stones.

The Jewish Zealots and especially their most extreme variant, the Sicarii (‘dagger men’), amped things up, attacking Roman soldiers and Greek underlings in self-sacrificial acts during public ceremonies, cranking the wheels of revenge and retribution.

(The occupied Palestinians are adopting the only weapon they have: kitchen knives)

 

Empire’s Election Extravaganza

Noam Chomsky & Abby Martin

World renowned linguist and philosopher, Noam Chomsky, joins Abby Martin to discuss the so-called War on Terror, the warped political spectrum in the United States, and how power functions in the Empire.

Chomsky argues that both the Democratic and Republican party have shifted to the right, with Republicans going “off the spectrum”, dedicating themselves to the interests of the extremely wealthy and powerful, and today’s Democrats becoming what used to be called moderate Republicans.

“What right do we have to kill somebody in another country we don’t like?”

ICYMI ‪#‎NoamChomsky‬ debunks the absurd logic of the “War on Terror” and dissects The Empire’s fascist shift on Media Roots: http://bit.ly/1IbUSlR

Media Roots is a citizen journalism project that reports the news from outside of party lines while providing a collaborative forum for conscious citizens, artists and…
mediaroots.org

Delving into libertarianism and the role of predatory capitalism, Chomsky discusses the institution of neoliberal policies, which have pushed for things like major financial institution bailouts, and government subsidies to energy corporations.

The contention that markets provide choices is farcical, argues Chomsky, as the market focuses you on individual consumption of consumer goods.

“New libertarians”, according to Chomsky, are deeply confused as to the meaning and history behind classical libertarianism, and what they propose would lead to society collapsing,

Describing the Iraq war as of one of the last century’s greatest atrocities, Chomsky asks what right the United States has in bombing or invading a country, for whatever reason. (And encouraging Israel to launch successive pre-emptive wars since 1956)

While there is a lot of criticism in regards to the US killing civilians inside Kunduz hospital, “what about killing [Taliban members]”, asks Chomsky. “What right do we have to kill somebody in some other country?”

Abby Martin once again takes up beyond the headlines and brings us to the very heart of the issues in this episode of The Empire Files.

posted on November 7, 2009

‘US foreign policy is straight out of the mafia’

Noam Chomsky is the closest thing in the English-speaking world to an intellectual superstar. A philosopher of language and political campaigner of towering academic reputation, who as good as invented modern linguistics, he is entertained by presidents, addresses the UN general assembly and commands a mass international audience.

When he spoke in London last week, thousands of young people battled for tickets to attend his lectures, followed live on the internet across the globe, as the 80-year-old American linguist fielded questions from as far away as besieged Gaza.

But the bulk of the mainstream western media doesn’t seem to have noticed.

His books sell in their hundreds of thousands, he is mobbed by students as a celebrity, but he is rarely reported or interviewed in the US outside radical journals and websites. The explanation, of course, isn’t hard to find. Chomsky is America’s most prominent critic of the US imperial role in the world, which he has used his erudition and standing to expose and excoriate since Vietnam.

Like the English philosopher Bertrand Russell, who spoke out against western-backed wars until his death at the age of 97, Chomsky has lent his academic prestige to a relentless campaign against his own country’s barbarities abroad – though in contrast to the aristocratic Russell, Chomsky is the child of working class Jewish refugees from Tsarist pogroms.

Not surprisingly, he has been repaid with either denunciation or, far more typically, silence. Whereas a much slighter figure such as the Atlanticist French philosopher Bernard Henri-Lévy is lionised at home and abroad, Chomsky and his genuine popularity are ignored.

Indeed, his books have been banned from the US prison library in Guantánamo. You’d hardly need a clearer example of his model of how dissenting views are filtered out of the western media, set out in his 1990’s book Manufacturing Consent, than his own case. But as Chomsky is the first to point out, the marginalisation of opponents of western state policy is as nothing compared to the brutalities suffered by those who challenge states backed by the US and its allies in the Middle East.

We meet in a break between a schedule of lectures and talks that would be punishing for a man half his age. At the podium, Chomsky’s style is dry and low-key, as he ranges without pausing for breath from one region and historical conflict to another, always buttressed with a barrage of sources and quotations, often from US government archives and leaders themselves.

But in discussion he is warm and engaged, only hampered by slight deafness. He has only recently started travelling again, he explains, after a three-year hiatus while he was caring for his wife and fellow linguist, Carol, who died from cancer last December.

Despite their privilege, his concentrated exposure to the continuing injustices and exorbitant expense of the US health system has clearly left him angry. Public emergency rooms are “uncivilised, there is no health care”, he says, and the same kind of corporate interests that drive US foreign policy are also setting the limits of domestic social reform.

All three schemes now being considered for Barack Obama’s health care reform are “to the right of the public, which is two to one in favour of a public option. But the New York Times says that has no political support, by which they mean from the insurance and pharmaceutical companies.”

Now the American Petroleum Institute is determined to “follow the success of the insurance industry in killing off health reform,” Chomsky says, and do the same to hopes of genuine international action at next month’s Copenhagen climate change summit.

Only the forms of power have changed since the foundation of the republic, he says, when James Madison insisted that the new state should “protect the minority of the opulent against the majority”.

Chomsky supported Obama’s election campaign in swing states, but regards his presidency as representing little more than a “shift back towards the centre” and a striking foreign policy continuity with George Bush’s second administration.

“The first Bush administration was way off the spectrum, America’s prestige sank to a historic low and the people who run the country didn’t like that.” But he is surprised so many people abroad, especially in the third world, are disappointed at how little Obama has changed. “His campaign rhetoric, hope and change, was entirely vacuous. There was no principled criticism of the Iraq war: he called it a strategic blunder. And Condoleezza Rice was black – does that mean she was sympathetic to third world problems?”

 The veteran activist has described the US invasion of Afghanistan as “one of the most immoral acts in modern history”, which united the jihadist movement around al-Qaida, sharply increased the level of terrorism and was “perfectly irrational – unless the security of the population is not the main priority”.
Which, of course, Chomsky believes, it is not. “States are not moral agents,” he says, and believes that now that Obama is escalating the war, it has become even clearer that the occupation is about the credibility of Nato and US global power.

This is a recurrent theme in Chomsky’s thinking about the American empire. He argues that since government officials first formulated plans for a “grand area” strategy for US global domination in the early 1940s, successive administrations have been guided by a “godfather principle, straight out of the mafia: that defiance cannot be tolerated. It’s a major feature of state policy.” “Successful defiance” has to be punished, even where it damages business interests, as in the economic blockade of Cuba – in case “the contagion spreads”.

The gap between the interests of those who control American foreign policy and the public is also borne out, in Chomsky’s view, by the US’s unwavering support for Israel and “rejectionism” of the two-state solution effectively on offer for 30 years. That’s not because of the overweening power of the Israel lobby in the US, but because Israel is a strategic and commercial asset which underpins rather than undermines US domination of the Middle East.

“Even in the 1950s, President Eisenhower was concerned about what he called a campaign of hatred of the US in the Arab world, because of the perception on the Arab street that it supported harsh and oppressive regimes to take their oil.”

Half a century later, corporations like Lockheed Martin and Exxon Mobil are doing fine, he says: America’s one-sided role in the Middle East isn’t harming their interests, whatever risks it might bring for anyone else.

Chomsky is sometimes criticised on the left for encouraging pessimism or inaction by emphasising the overwhelming weight of US power – or for failing to connect his own activism with labour or social movements on the ground. He is certainly his own man, holds some idiosyncratic views (I was startled, for instance, to hear him say that Vietnam was a strategic victory for the US in southeast Asia, despite its humiliating 1975 withdrawal) and has drawn flak for defending freedom of speech for Holocaust deniers.

He describes himself as an anarchist or libertarian socialist, but often sounds more like a radical liberal – which is perhaps why he enrages more middle-of-the-road American liberals who don’t appreciate their views being taken to the logical conclusion.

But for an octogenarian who has been active on the left since the 1930s, Chomsky sounds strikingly upbeat. He’s a keen supporter of the wave of progressive change that has swept South America in the past decade (“one of the liberal criticisms of Bush is that he didn’t pay enough attention to Latin America – it was the best thing that ever happened to Latin America”).

He also believes there are now constraints on imperial power which didn’t exist in the past: “They couldn’t get away with the kind of chemical warfare and blanket B52 bombing that Kennedy did,” in the 1960s. He even has some qualified hopes for the internet as a way around the monopoly of the corporate-dominated media.

But what of the charge so often made that he’s an “anti-American” figure who can only see the crimes of his own government while ignoring the crimes of others around the world? “Anti-Americanism is a pure totalitarian concept,” he retorts. “The very notion is idiotic. Of course you don’t deny other crimes, but your primary moral responsibility is for your own actions, which you can do something about. It’s the same charge which was made in the Bible by King Ahab, the epitome of evil, when he demanded of the prophet Elijah: why are you a hater of Israel? He was identifying himself with society and criticism of the state with criticism of society.”

It’s a telling analogy. Chomsky is a studiedly modest man who would balk at any such comparison. But in the Biblical tradition of the conflict between prophets and kings, there’s not the slightest doubt which side he represents

More war on Terror? Why is  that the only recurring alternative for mankind?

Call me selfish, but I don’t want to get killed in a terrorist attack at a gig.

So perhaps we could try something different from the War on Terror spiral?

After all, it’s not going so well.

In 2001, when 9/11 happened, the jihadis were a small group of Saudi ex-pats in the mountains of Afghanistan. Now jihadi groups control more than half of Syria, a third of Iraq, and large swathes of Libya. They’re fighting in Yemen, in Afghanistan (still), in Pakistan, in Somalia and in Nigeria.

They’ve attacked in Paris (twice), Sousse (Tunisia), Sharm el-Sheikh, Beirut and other places just this year.

If the West has been trying to stop jihadis since 9/11, it hasn’t worked. (It created ISIS)

But it’s much worse than that. The aim of jihadis is to shock Muslims in order to wake them up and get them to join their struggle.

Bin Laden was explicit about it. One tactic to do that is to provoke an over-reaction from the West – and the West has been willing to oblige.

Invading and occupying Iraq is the most obvious example, which led directly to the formation of the Islamic State of Iraq in 2007.

But terrorist attacks also provoke increased government surveillance on all of us, the targeting of Muslim communities and social division.

The jihadis’ great allies are the politicians and journalists who shut down any attempt to understand this.

The airwaves are full today of facile people saying that what happened in Paris is an attack on Western freedom and culture, so there’s no point in thinking any more deeply about it. But on Thursday ISIS killed 43 people in Beirut with two suicide bombs – because they hate Arab culture?

 Andrew Bossone shared this link

“I know people’s first impulse when a terrorist attack happens is to want to hit back in a direct way, to punish the people who did it and deter others.

But that impulse has been tested to destruction since 2001. Jihadis bank on it, it’s a central part of their strategy.

I don’t know why we always go along with it. It’d be better to do things that might work instead.”

Provoking retaliation is a key part of the jihadists’ strategy, writes Alex Nunns

Pulling up the roots

I expect we’ll carry on acting out the cycle that has worked so successfully for the jihadis since 2001.

But personally, out of a sense of self-interest, I’d prefer it if we tried something different.

Like: tackling the problem of Saudi Arabia, where the jihadi ideology comes from, and which prefers ISIS and the other jihadi groups to succeed if it means Shia Muslims can’t live.

Like: withdrawing support from Turkey while its intelligence agencies help the Nusra Front and turn a blind eye to ISIS, all because it hates the Kurds more than the jihadis and bombs them with NATO’s blessing.

Like: trying to refrain from destroying countries, their infrastructure, their institutions like in Iraq and Libya, both now overrun by jihadis.

Like: actually attempting to end the war in Syria, which is complicated and difficult, but Britain could help by at least not blocking negotiations as it did in the Geneva I and II peace conferences in 2012 and 2014.

The British, French and American governments thought for a few years that it was in their strategic interests for the Syrian war to go on, weakening Syria’s ally Iran and knocking out an enemy of Israel.

But it wasn’t in the interests of us, the people, and certainly not of the thousands of Syrians who have died as a result.

Like: helping refugees who are fleeing from horror, mostly because we should obviously help people in need but also because it’s not wise to have millions of people languishing in squalid camps building up resentment.

I know people’s first impulse when a terrorist attack happens is to want to hit back in a direct way, to punish the people who did it and deter others. But that impulse has been tested to destruction since 2001. Jihadis bank on it, it’s a central part of their strategy. I don’t know why we always go along with it. It’d be better to do things that might work instead.

U.S. State Department “Welcomes” News That Saudi Arabia Will Head U.N. Human Rights Panel

On the basis that this worst State in Human Rights records will desist and improve?

Last week’s announcement that Saudi Arabia — easily one of the world’s most brutally repressive regimes — was chosen to head a U.N. Human Rights Council panel provoked indignation around the world.

That reaction was triggered for obvious reasons.

  1. Not only has Saudi Arabia executed more than 100 people already this year, mostly by beheading (a rate of 1 execution every two days), and
  2. not only is it serially flogging dissidents,
  3. but it is reaching new levels of tyrannical depravity as it is about to behead and then crucify the 21-year-old son of a prominent regime critic, Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who was convicted at the age of 17 of engaging in demonstrations against the government.
Glenn Greenwald posted this Sept. 23 2015

Most of the world may be horrified at the selection of Saudi Arabia to head a key U.N. human rights panel, but the U.S. State Department most certainly is not.

Quite the contrary: its officials seem quite pleased about the news.

At a State Department briefing yesterday afternoon, Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner was questioned by the invaluable Matt Lee of AP, and this is the exchange that resulted:

QUESTION: Change topic? Saudi Arabia.

MR. TONER: Saudi Arabia.

QUESTION: Yesterday, Saudi Arabia was named to head the Human Rights Council, and today I think they announced they are about to behead a 21-year-old Shia activist named Muhammed al-Nimr. Are you aware of that?

MR. TONER: I’m not aware of the trial that you — or the verdict — death sentence.

QUESTION: Well, apparently, he was arrested when he was 17 years old and kept in juvenile detention, then moved on. And now, he’s been scheduled to be executed.

MR. TONER: Right. I mean, we’ve talked about our concerns on the capital punishment cases in Saudi Arabia in our Human Rights Report, but I don’t have any more to add to it.

QUESTION: So you —

QUESTION: Well, how about a reaction to them heading the council?

MR. TONER: Again, I don’t have any comment, don’t have any reaction to it. I mean, frankly, it’s — we would welcome it. We’re close allies. If we —

QUESTION: Do you think that they’re an appropriate choice given — I mean, how many pages is — does Saudi Arabia get in the Human Rights Report annually?

MR. TONER: I can’t give that off the top of my head, Matt. (What does Toner keeps in his Top?)

QUESTION: I can’t either, but let’s just say that there’s a lot to write about Saudi Arabia and human rights in that report. I’m just wondering if you — that it’s appropriate for them to have a leadership position.

MR. TONER: We have a strong dialogue, obviously a partnership with Saudi Arabia that spans, obviously, many issues. We talk about human rights concerns with them. As to this leadership role, we hope that it’s an occasion for them to look at human rights around the world but also within their own borders.

QUESTION: But you said that you welcome them in this position. Is it based on [an] improved record? I mean, can you show or point to anything where there is a sort of stark improvement in their human rights record?

MR. TONER: I mean, we have an ongoing discussion with them about all these human rights issues, like we do with every country. We make our concerns clear when we do have concerns, but that dialogue continues. But I don’t have anything to point to in terms of progress.

QUESTION: Would you welcome as a — would you welcome a decision to commute the sentence of this young man?

MR. TONER: Again, I’m not aware of the case, so it’s hard for me to comment on it other than that we believe that any kind of verdict like that should come at the end of a legal process that is just and in accordance with international legal standards. (And if there is no such legal progress? No defense lawyers…)

QUESTION: Change of subject?

MR. TONER: Sure.

That’s about as clear as it gets.

The U.S. government “welcomes” the appointment of Saudi Arabia to a leadership position on this Human Rights panel because it’s a “close ally.”

As I documented two weeks ago courtesy of an equally candid admission from an anonymous “senior U.S. official”: “The U.S. loves human-rights-abusing regimes and always has, provided they ‘cooperate.’ …

The only time the U.S. government pretends to care in the slightest about human rights abuses is when they’re carried out by ‘countries that don’t cooperate.’”

It’s difficult to know whether Mark Toner is lying when he claims ignorance about the case of al-Nimr, the regime critic about to be beheaded and crucified for dissident activism, which he engaged in as a teen.

Indeed, it’s hard to know which would be worse: active lying or actual ignorance, given that much of the world has been talking about this case.

The government of France formally requested that the Saudis rescind the death penalty.

Is it really possible that the deputy spokesperson of the U.S. State Department is ignorant of this controversy?

Either way, the reluctance of the U.S. government to utter a peep about the grotesque abuses of its “close ally” is in itself grotesque.

But it’s also profoundly revealing. The close U.S./Saudi alliance and the massive amount of weapons and intelligence lavished on the regime in Riyadh by the West is one of the great unmentionables in Western discourse.

(The Guardian last week published an editorial oh-so-earnestly lamenting the war in Yemen being waged by what it called the “Saudi-led coalition,” yet never once mentioned the rather important fact that the Saudis are being armed in this heinous war by the U.S. and U.K.)

It took a letter to the editor from an Oxfam official to tell The Guardian that the West is not being “complacent” about the war crimes being committed in Yemen, as The Guardian misleadingly claimed, but rather actively complicit.

It’s not hard to understand why so many of the elite sectors of the West want everyone to avert their eyes from this deep and close relationship with the Saudis. It’s because that alliance single-handedly destroys almost every propagandistic narrative told to the Western public about that region.

As the always-expanding “War on Terror” enters its 14th year, the ostensible target — radical, violent versions of Islam — is fueled far more by the U.S.’s closest allies than any of the countries the U.S. has been fighting under the “War on Terror” banner.

Beyond that, the alliance proves the complete absurdity of believing that the U.S. and U.K.’s foreign policies, let alone their various wars, have anything to do with protecting human rights or subverting tyranny and fanaticism.

And it renders a complete laughingstock any attempts to depict the U.S. government as some sort of crusader for freedom and democracy or whatever other pretty goals are regularly attributed to it by its helpful press.

Note: over 1,000 Hajj died trampled and 2,000 injured. The real cause was that the son of the monarch was going counter to traffic in this narrow lane leading to Mena, escorted by 200 soldiers and 150 police officers. They had closed entrances and exits for the convoy safety.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

May 2020
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