It seems that Pres. Trump could very well have made the largest foreign policy miscalculation in the Mid-East region since Pres. Bush II invaded Iraq in 2003. The assassination of Quds Force Comdr. Suleimani last night in Baghdad via a missile fired from a drone upon his motorcade could be just it.
Here’s a clip from the NYT today showing how the Trump administration is going to try and justify this destabilizing attack in the world’s most volatile (and resource rich) area :
“Suleimani was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel, but we caught him in the act and terminated him,” [Trump] said, speaking to reporters from his resort in West Palm Beach, Fla. “We took action last night to stop a war, we did not take action to start a war.”
At this point the people have not been told by the administration what “imminent attack” Suleimani was “plotting.” Did they “cherry pick” the intelligence to justify the attack, just like the Bush II administration did so to justify the invasion of Iraq in 2003? Are they using this assassination as a ploy to rally American popular support beneath Trump’s approval numbers and divert attention from the Dem’s primary race for President in 2020?
I can’t wait to see what kind of justification Secy State Pompeo and Trump reveal to the American people for this foolish, foolish act. We remember Iraq’s WMD’s. We won’t be fooled again…
There is a myth that our airstrikes are so surgical do to laser targeting, advanced intelligence abilities, and other technologies that civilian deaths (or, “collateral damage”) are rare.
But these reports from Amnesty International and Airwars report differently due to better investigation techniques and a lack of U.S. PR concerns.
Also notice how quoted military leaders say these reports are aiding ISIS. Unreal…
Amnesty International and Airwars offer the most methodical estimate to date of the death toll from the U.S.-led battle to retake the city from ISIS.
— Read on theintercept.com/2019/04/25/coalition-airstrikes-in-raqqa-killed-at-least-1600-civilians-more-than-10-times-u-s-tally-report-finds/
If you have not seen Pontecorvo’s 1966 masterpiece, The Battle of Algiers, I both admonish you and, yet, envy you.
I admonish you in that you have not done enough research into revolutionary art to have found this film. Yet, I envy you because you have yet to get that first breath of excitement when viewing the film the first time you only have once.
TBA is an intentionally grainy, black and white film shot in documentary style with a revolutionary heart.It is directed by Gillo Pontecorvo dramatizing the Algerian urban guerilla fighters during the fight for independence against the French colonialists. It concerns the guerilla tactics used by the NLF (FLN) and French paratroopers sent to quash the violent uprising which lasted for those three years.
Independence would finally be won by the Algerians in 1962, but this film centers around three years of bombings, assassinations, and torture allowing the French forces to end the most violent phase of the fighting.
Below are two links you can use to view the film. Watch Now!:
The ugly head that conflates the criticism of Israel’s actions towards the dislodged people of Palestine with anti-Semitism, has risen again. And most of it surrounds a few statements from a Muslim-refugee, who wears a head scarf within the Capitol building, representing Minnesota’s 5th District, Rep. Ilhan Omar.
Rep. Omar is a freshmen Rep who has joined the caucus of new female House members setting the U.S. political and cultural norms on fire. Along with others, such as Rep. Alexandria Ocazio-Cortez (D-NY), and Rep, Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich), she supports new progressive proposals like the Green New Deal and the BDS movement. But what really caught the ire of Republicans and most Democratic leaders, are a few comments that Omar made recently criticizing Israel. For example, referring to AIPAC,
“I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country. And I want to ask, Why is it ok for me to talk about the influence of the NRA, of fossil fuel industries, or Big Pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobby … that is influencing policy
Statements like these have people screaming anti-Semitism. They say Omar is reinforcing anti-Semitic tropes, such as that Jews have dual-loyalty to both America and Israel, and that Jews are controlling the world with their money. But this couldn’t be more untrue. A criticism of lobbying groups such as AIPAC, and America’s fanatical loyalty to Israel, are true concerns. In the U.S., if you say or do anything out of line regarding Israel’s foreign policy, you are labelled as a bigot towards Jews.
Now, we know that the blind allegiance to Israel is based on three reasons:
Zionism (Jewish nationalist movement that has had as its goal the creation and support of a Jewish national state in Palestine, the ancient homeland of the Jews (Hebrew: Eretz Yisraʾel, “the Land of Israel”) is exceptionally strong among American Christians, and especially Evangelicals. They believe that the second-coming of Christ will not take place until Jews return to their homeland in Palestine.
Secondly, according to In These Times, America got mixed up in the Cold War in the region when most Arab states were loyal to the U.S.S.R.
And lastly, according to Chomsky (Who Rules The World, 2016), Israel serves as an available landing station for American forces if their were to be a catastrophic conflict in the Mid-East.
It has nothing to do with all that nonsense about being the only democratic state in the Middle East, or having some sort of special relationship between us and Israel.
another quote from the ITT’s March 4th piece sums it up in one statement:
“…(F)alse accusations of anti-Semitism—usually linked to criticism of Israel or Israel’s supporters in the United States—are on the rise as well. And we need to be clear: It is not anti-Semitic to support Palestinian rights, demand a change in U.S. policy towards Israel, expose the kind of pressure that the pro-Israel lobby brings to bear on elected officials, or call out Israel’s violations of human rights and international law. “
So get out there to support Rep. Omar, support the BDS movement, and form an activist group in your locality to contribute to the cause. And remember, critiques of Israeli crimes against humanity do not equate you with being anti-Semitic. That’s just a convenient and false construction used to silence the cries of the Palestinians. Don’t let it stop you. You are not a white supremacist.
As the peaceful negotiations over a nuclear deal with Iran happily make their way to a resolution, many opponents of the current deal (or any deal with Iran) raise irrelevant alarm bells over some of the rhetoric that emanates from the Iranian leadership. A recent example was Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s agreement with a crowd chanting “Death to America” during one of his public appearances and the ensuing backlash from Western opponents over the situation. While it may not be the most pleasing thing to hear, it should be taken for what it is in the grand scheme of things: empty rhetoric to please his people and nothing more.
In fact, if we were to step back from the situation and look at it objectively, it’s a perfectly rational thing for him to say. It’s what leaders and politicians do. They talk tough and make promises they have no intention or capability of keeping in order to keep their people behind them. What would it look like if he did anything else? What would he be saying? I’m guessing it would go something like:
“People of Iran. This is your Supreme Leader announcing to you that we will be letting the U.S. and Israel run our country however they please. I know. I know. They were directly involved in the military overthrow of our democratically elected leader in 1953 and installed a ruthless dictatorship that we had to overthrow. They were also responsible for the Stuxnet cyber attack, an action one of these countries has officially and hypocritically declared is an act of war. But we can totally trust them now and I’m sure we will be the best run Western colony in the history of the world!”
Yeah, it would be completely ridiculous.
But hey, let’s remember that all spoken rhetoric eventually comes true. Just look at all the things Iranian leaders have said in the past and then carried out that have been 100% prophetic, such as “Death to Russia”, “Death to England”, “Death to France”, “Death to Israel”, and “Death to Saddam” (not Iraq). Oh, the overwhelming nostalgia! Remember France before Iran destroyed it? So much culture and fancy paintings. It was almost like being in modern day Paris!
The point is, rhetoric is just talk and it should be expected to be tough and reflect a self-interest for whoever is speaking. The actions Iran is taking by negotiating with the P5+1 and seeking a peaceful resolution is what truly matters. And just to drive the point home that Khamenei’s rhetoric should not be taken too literally, here are some more examples from history of rhetoric that either never came true or did not match the actions taken by the speaker.
President Rios Montt is a man of great personal integrity and commitment…I know he wants to improve the quality of life for all Guatemalans and to promote social justice. (1982)
Uncle Ronny was clearly a great judge of character. Montt was, at the time, in the process of committing genocide in his own country, a crime he would eventually be found guilty for conducting (he is currently awaiting a new trial after the conviction was overturned in what appears to be a scheme to keep him out of prison until he dies). Nicely done, Mr. Reagan!
No…just, no. Kim was a bit of a recluse, as most know, but the state-run news agency did release direct statements that threatened to “wipe out” the United States while he was in charge. Just another successfully unsuccessful bit of rhetoric.
I did not wait for my inauguration to begin my quest for peace (in Vietnam). (1969)
An absolute lie. We now know that Nixon actually sabotaged peace talks with Vietnam in 1968 while still a candidate for the presidency and did so to help his own political campaign at home. Just a disgusting moment in history.
The point of all this is to simply note that rhetoric can frequently mean little while the actions of the speaker can be something very different. This reality should be particularly considered in the case of Iran as they have been logically talking tough against the West at times but, according to U.S. and Israeli intelligence, shut down their nuclear weapons program years ago. We should always remember that the phrase “all politics is local” doesn’t just apply to the United States and it should be no surprise when we hear some foreign leaders score points with their people by taking shots at us. In fact, if you don’t expect that to happen, you should really tone down the hubris a bit.
Bottom line, Iran has come to the negotiating table and is making a deal. If the GOP warfare queens in Congress decide to kill the deal and the situation eventually disintegrates into military actions, the blood of every American and Iranian that dies will be on their hands and history should properly place the blame squarely on each and every politician that turned away from peace.
The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.
And what in the spectrum of acceptable opinion has been so strictly limited regarding American foreign policy? The opinions on the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians.
In America, within those limits the Israeli’s are just defending themselves from rabid savages, infected with Jihad, bent on slaughtering every non-Muslim around the globe. And the acceptable, lively debate is between with what and with how much force should the Israeli’s use.
But maybe something is changing.
The Associated Press (AP) on Friday reported on an investigation they conducted into the homes bombed by Israeli jet-fighters during the Summer’s “50-day” war. The AP investigated the vast majority of home-bombing sites, interviewed witnesses, collected death certificates, and worked with both Palestinian and Israeli human rights groups. And, amazingly, it is a damning report on Israeli actions so well thought-out and thorough it is impossible not to be struck by the findings. Here are some:
– Children younger than 16 made up one-third of the total: 280 killed, including 19 babies and 108 preschoolers between the ages of 1 and 5.
– In 83 strikes, three or more members of one family died.
– Among those killed were 96 confirmed or suspected militants – or just over 11 percent of the total – though the actual number could be higher since armed groups have not released detailed casualty lists.
– The remainder of the 240 dead were males between the ages of 16 and 59 whose names did not appear in connection with militant groups on searches of websites or on street posters honoring fighters.
Unlike other coverage found in the American mainstream media, the report gives hard numbers and anecdotes from survivors and witnesses explaining the disregard for Gazan life shown by the Israelis. The piece also discusses the nature of the war crimes committed by the Israelis and how they break international law, as did, it seems, Hamas with their rocket attacks.
But that’s beside the point.
The issue here, in this post, is not the tragic and maddening findings but the fact that a major and extremely respectable American media outlet reported outside of the spectrum.
Rise up over the study’s findings. Applaud and champion those who exposed them.
On Dec. 30th, the UN Security Council voted down a proposal submitted by Jordan on behalf of the Palestinians that would have:
1) Set a one-year deadline for negotiations with Israel;
2) Established targets for Palestinian sovereignty, including a capital in East Jerusalem;
3) Called for the “full and phased withdrawal of Israeli forces” from the West Bank by the end of 2017.
Only 8 of the total of 15 nations voted for the resolution when at least 9 supporting members are needed for adoption. Oh, and that is irrelevant for the United States would have vetoed the resolution if it were to get the 9 votes anyways as the U.S. is a permanent member of the Security Council with veto power. Just saying… But the Palestinian Authority, led by Pres. Mahmoud Abbas, says it will apply again when members of the revolving Security Council are more sympathetic to the Palestinian cause.
Also, this past Wednesday Abbas moved to join the International Criminal Court in a symbolic step to put Israel on notice regarding prosecution for violations of international law, e.g., war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity. In response the Israelis have frozen $127 million in tax revenue which supports the Palestinian Authority (PA). These funds are provided to the PA under the Oslo Accords agreement to maintain stability. Israel collects $1 billion annually in customs and taxes on behalf of the PA and the money goes to the organization. It would probably collapse without it.
In light of the above actions by the Israeli government, a great analysis in the NYT yesterday explains the momentum is actually on the Palestinians’ side. And according to a couple of quotes from rank-and-file Palestinians in the article shows they may be able to live on their feet instead of their knees.
I hear it from my father for the first time: Even if we will not get our salaries and the economic situation will be worse, at least we can say we will get our rights,” Rula Salameh said of her father, who is 70 and relies on a Palestinian Authority pension.
Ms. Salameh said her sister, who is on the government payroll, “hears it also from her friends, her colleagues — they said even if we will not get our salaries, we need to feel like something is going on, tomorrow will be better than today.
On Thursday, three journalists working for Al Jazeera’s English-language network were ordered a retrial ain Egypt after a sham proceeding in which they were given between 7-10 years in prison for “…conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood to broadcast false reports.” The reason for this is two-fold:
1) Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, like all new strongmen, wants to possess as much control over the press as he can. He is afraid that a currently tumultuous political climate may sweep him out of power just as quickly as it brought him in. This is why the three were arrested in the first place.
2) Al-Jazeera is based in Qatar, a state that has long shown favor towards the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. But the Brotherhood was also former President Mohamed Morsi’s movement, who was brought in after democratic elections that resulted from the Arab Spring. Now since the ouster of Morsi, and the installation of el-SiSi, Al-Jazeera has been leading a critical viewpoint against el-SiSi for the last 18 months. But under pressure from Egypt, the Saudis, and the UAE, Qatar has put an end to its anti-el-SiSi campaign. Therefore these latest events may lead to the release of the three A-Jazeera reporters as a quid pro quo for the less critical look at el-SiSi.
So all in all, these three men were fulfilling their obligations to the essential ingredient of a functioning democracy, namely, the freedom of the press. We cannot make informed decisions without the information pertaining to the matter at hand.
The Mid-East region demanded more rights in the streets and squares just a few years ago and yet these events come right out of the old ways.
Also, for more on this cause, checkout the website for the CPJ (Committee to Protect Journalists) where you can find a good graphic entitled “2014 prison census: 220 journalists jailed worldwide.” It is a worldwide map of states currently imprisoning journalists with the offending countries highlighted and the number of prisoners being held. The page also includes some good charts and even a listing, nation by nation, of each journalist known two be serving time their.
Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, had some comments for the United States government regarding Syria and the Islamic State that deserve acknowledgement. While the future of this situation can be debated, the past cannot. And the truth sometimes hurts.
“I think Western politicians are already realising the growing and fast-spreading threat of terrorism,” Lavrov said, referring to Islamic State advances in Syria and Iraq.
“And they will soon have to choose what is more important, a [Syrian] regime change to satisfy personal antipathies, risking deterioration of the situation beyond any control, or finding pragmatic ways to unite efforts against the common threat.”
In comments likely to irritate Washington, Lavrov said the US had made the same mistake with Islamic State as it had with al-Qaeda, which emerged in the 1980s when US-backed Islamist insurgents were fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. (Emphasis added)
“At the start the Americans and some Europeans rather welcomed [Islamic State] on the basis it was fighting against Bashar al-Assad. They welcomed it as they welcomed the mujahideen who later created al-Qaeda, and then al-Qaeda struck like a boomerang on September 11, 2001,” Lavrov said.
“The same thing is happening now.”
We have to accept, for the moment, there is no perfect solution from the U.S. government’s perspective where both the Syrian regime and the Islamic State can be ousted from the situation immediately. At this point, the best case scenario is to only have to deal with one or the other while trying to push for the quelling of one.
And the lesser of two evils is without a doubt the Assad regime in Syria. This, of course, means working as a partner with Russia in order to exert as much pressure as possible on Assad to hope for eventual regime change while making sure the Syrian government is stabilized enough to fight the Islamic State.
In fact, hindsight being 20/20, one has to wonder if working with Russia from the beginning on Syria would have been the better solution for the Syrian people. While living under Assad has certainly been no picnic, it’s very likely the casualties from the fighting, now closing in on 200,000, would have been significantly less had a heavy UN peacekeeping presence been placed in the country when the violence broke out. And in order to have done this, the U.S. would have had to accept not initially ousting Assad, with the hope change could have come later and more peacefully.
We’ll never know whether that solution would have turned out better. One thing, however, is clear: not choosing that path has been an absolute disaster.