Category Archives: Terrorism (state and retail)

The Escalating War on Syria and Need for International Law

On Tuesday 4 April there were reports of children and other civilians killed by chemical poisoning in the town of Khan Sheikhoun, Syria. There were contradictory reports, some saying they smelled the gas; others claiming it caused immediate death like odorless sarin.

On Wednesday 5 April, President Trump blamed the Syrian government despite conflicting reports and contradictory information and accusations. He said, “Yesterday’s chemical attack in Syria [was] against innocent people including women, small children and even beautiful little babies. Their deaths was an affront to humanity. These heinous actions by the Assad regime cannot be tolerated … my attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much.” 

On Thursday, 6 April, Trump ordered a ‘targeted military strike’ on Syria with 50 tomahawk missiles attacking the primary Syrian air base near Homs. This base is used to support the combat with ISIS in eastern Syria and Nusra/Al Qaeda in Idlib province.

As I will show below, it is likely the deaths in Khan Sheikhoun were caused by an armed opposition faction, not the Syrian government. The goal was precisely what has happened: a media firestorm leading to direct U.S. aggression against Syria.

What Happened and How?

On April 4 news broke of a ‘chemical weapon’ attack in Syria. Western media and governments quickly blamed the Syrian government. Just as quickly, neoconservatives such as Sen. John McCain recalled the 2013 crisis when Pres Obama ultimately decided not to attack Syria. Israeli PM Netanyahu chimed in with a not-too-subtle renewed call for war on Syria. He tweeted that it’s time for the international community to “fulfill its obligations from 2013.”

Basic facts include:

– On 22 March, the government controlled town of Khattab was over-run by militants with some civilians kidnapped and taken to the nearby opposition controlled town of Khan Sheikhoun.

– On 4 April, up to 80 persons, including many children, died at Khan Sheikhoun. Some showed signs of chemical poisoning.  Photographs, videos, analyses and other sources are documented at “A Closer Look At Syria”.

– one of the videos features a UK born and raised Dr. Shajul Islam.  He received his UK medical license in 2012 but had the license suspended due to reports he was involved in the kidnapping in Syria of journalist John Cantlie.

– Many of the video scenes depict an area set into a limestone quarry with apparent caves and storage depots. There are flat bed trucks with bodies scattered on the ground in this semi-industrial area.  Other video show scenes in medical clinic.

– Photographs show “White Helmet” individuals handling bodies without gloves which is very strange if they died or were dying from chemical poison.

Who is responsible?

There are three theories about what happened:

– The western government narrative is that the Syrian “regime” is responsible. They fired illegal chemical weapons into the town, primarily killing innocent civilians and many children.

– The Syrian army acknowledges firing air strikes but deny using chemical weapons at this or any time. This area was the base for militant attacks against government areas in Hama province in the preceding weeks. The Russian Ministry of Defense says that militants had a weapons production factory including chemical weapon ingredients, and that may have been hit and caused the chemical weapon deaths.

– A third theory is the kidnapped civilians from Khattab were killed or poisoned by the militants as part of a staged event.

Evidence Pointing to the Militants

Looking at the facts, history and overall circumstances, it is far more likely the armed opposition is responsible for this event. Here is why:

(1) The incident and publicity help the opposition and hurt the government.

Crime investigations usually begin with the question: Who has a motive? In this case, it’s strikingly clear that the armed opposition and their supporters benefit from this event. They have used the story to further demonize the Assad government and make renewed calls for US and “the world” to intervene.

The Syrian government is making steady advances in many parts of the country. They have no reason to use chemical weapons; they have every reason to NOT use chemical weapons. They know very well that the armed opposition has immediate access to major media.

Accusations that the Syrian government intentionally attacks civilians is contradicted by their policies and actions. As demonstrated last December in Aleppo, civilians are welcomed from opposition areas into government controlled areas. Even Syrian militants are welcomed after they sign an agreement to lay down arms.

It is also relevant to consider timing. There is a pattern of sensational events helpful to the armed opposition occurring simultaneous with critical international meetings or actions.  In this case, the events in Khan Sheikhoun occurred the day before an important conference on Syria in Brussels. The conference titled “Supporting the future of Syria and the region” has been effectively sidetracked by news about the chemical weapons attack and the Syrian government being blamed.

(2) Extremists were responsible for the August 2013 Chemical Weapon attack in Damascus. 

Western supporters of the armed opposition were quick to blame the Syrian government for the chemical attack in Ghouta on 21 August 2013. However, subsequent investigations by the most credible investigative journalists and researchers concluded the Syrian government was probably NOT responsible. Seymour Hersh and Robert Parry concluded the attack was most likely carried out by militants with support from Turkey. The in-depth examination titled Who Ghouta concluded “The only plausible scenario that fits the evidence is an attack by opposition forces.” An MIT study made a detailed trajectory analysis, concluded that the missile could not have been fired from government territory and warned “Faulty intelligence could have led to an unjustified US military action.”

(3) Armed Opposition Groups have a history of Staging Incidents

From the start, the Syrian conflict has included an information war. Hillary Clinton boasted of “training for more than a thousand activists, students and independent journalists.”  In December 2012, NBC journalist Richard Engel was reportedly kidnapped and abused by “shabiha” supporters of the Syrian government. Engel and his film crew were “liberated” by Free Syrian Army rebels after a gunfight with the Assad supporting kidnappers. In reality, the entire episode from kidnapping to rescue was a hoax designed to demonize Assad supporters and glorify the “rebels”. The true story emerged years later after the actual events were leaked. When it was going to be made public, Engel finally admitted the truth.

(4) Supporters of the armed opposition have a history of fabricating stories which demonize the Syrian Government.

In February 2014, it was announced that a defecting Syrian military photographer, who was anonymous but code named “Caesar”, had 55 thousand photos showing the torture and murder of 11 thousand innocent Syrian civilians.  This news received sensational media attention with live interviews on CNN and front page coverage throughout the western world. The news relied on the judgment of legal prosecutors who “verified” the story and produced a “Caesar Report”. This was released the day before the start of Geneva negotiations. It effectively disrupted the talks and facilitated the “rebels” refusal to negotiate and walk away. In reality, the “verification” and report was commissioned by the government of Qatar which has been a major funder of the armed opposition. Since then it has been discovered that nearly half the 55 thousand photos show the opposite of what was claimed: they show dead Syrian soldiers and victims of explosions NOT tortured civilians. That is just one of the findings confirming the fraud involved in this sensational story. A concise expose of “Caesar” is here.

How the Public has been Misinformed on Syria

Historian and journalist Stephen Kinzer has said, “Coverage of the Syrian war will be remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the American press.” Here are a few examples showing the bias, half-truths and outright false statements regarding the events at Khan Sheikhoun:

– The PBS Newshour typically features two guests who are questioned by the host. The problem is that their guests consistently share the same basic viewpoint. On 4 April, one guest was from the Soros funded Physicians for Human Rights. She claimed, “We know that sarin has been used before by the Assad regime.” In fact that has NOT been confirmed by any credible organization. On the contrary, the most thorough investigations point to sarin being used by the armed opposition NOT the Syrian government. The other guest was Andrew Tabler from the neoconservative Israeli associated “Washington Institute”.  His editorial from last Fall makes clear what he wants: “The case for (finally) bombing Assad.”  The discussion on Syria at PBS Newshour is consistently biased.

The New York Times feature story on 4 April was “Worst Chemical Attack in Years in Syria; U.S. Blames Assad“. One of the authors, Michael Gordon, was an influential proponent for “weapons of mass destruction in Iraq” that justified the 2003 invasion. But that has apparently not hurt his career. In this story on Syria, he and co-author Anne Barnard claim that “American intelligence agencies concluded” the 2013 attack was carried out by the Syrian government. That is false. The intelligence agencies did NOT agree and the “assessment” came from the White House not the intelligence agencies. It is astounding that they either do not know this or they are intentionally misleading the public.  Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity explained the significance in their memorandum “A Call for Syria – Sarin Proof”.

DemocracyNow is a popular television/radio show. It is widely considered to be “progressive” but is also highly biased in its presentation on Syria. It almost solely promotes the perspective of those who support the armed opposition and/or western intervention in Syria. On April 5, they interviewed Dr. Rola Hallam. She is infamous for being the key player in the documentary “Saving Syria’s Children” which purports to show a chemical weapon attack in Aleppo but was actually staged. The “documentary” was then broadcast at a critical time trying to influence the 2013 vote in British parliament for an attack on Syria.  On April 6, DemocracyNow interviewed another “Syrian” who lives in the West and promotes western intervention: Lina Sergie Attar. Viewers of DemocracyNow have no idea that the majority of Syrians support the government and especially the national Army in their struggle against invasion and terrorism.

Public understanding about what’s happening in Syria has been seriously confused by the bad analysis of prominent analysts.  Some have suggested that Israel was content to live with Assad. Former Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren clarified the truth as he said “we always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to those who were backed by Iran.”  In short, Israel prefers Al Qaeda or ISIS or, better yet, the conflict to continue so that both sides are destroyed.

Before the conflict began, in 2010, Secy of State Hillary Clinton made demands to Damascus that all revolved around Israeli interests. She wanted Syria to end its alliance with Hezbollah, to reduce its interactions with Iran and to come to an agreement with Israel. In contrast with what some analysts have said, Israeli interests have been a major factor driving and maintaining the conflict. With the liberation of Aleppo and prospect of a victory by Syria and allies, Israeli demands to escalate the war have probably increased.

Some of the world’s most famed political analysts have contributed to the confusion and lack of resistance as the war on Syria has continued. For example, Noam Chomsky on Democracy two days ago said “The Assad regime is a moral disgrace, the Russians with them.” Evidently he believes all or most of the accusations which have been said about the ‘regime’.  In sharp contrast with Chomsky’s assessment, it’s remarkable that Syria has held together as well as it has in the face of attack by some of the most powerful and rich countries on earth.  Over 100 thousand Syrians have given their lives defending their country against the onslaught. Russia has supported their ally in compliance with international law, continually trying to work with the U.S. coalition as a “partner” against terrorism. Evidently Chomsky is unaware or does not believe the extent of lies that have been created around Syria. Evidently he does not recognize the distorted and shameful media coverage mentioned by Kinzer. Everyone makes mistakes but Chomsky’s poor analysis here is a whopper. If he was to visit Syria and talk with real Syrians I think his perception would be dramatically changed just as described by the PBS Frontline crew here. With consummate hypocrisy, both Syrian and Russian governments are now demonized by western neoconservatives and liberals who have done little or nothing to stop their own government’s collusion with terrorists raining havoc and destruction in Syria.

The need to restore International Law

International law has been undermined and replaced by “humanitarian law”. This has contributed to the current disastrous situation whereby the U.S. and NATO are waging aggression under a humanitarian pretext.

International law regarding attacks on sovereign states is clear: it is illegal unless authorized by the UN Security Council or in legitimate self defense. It is clear that Syria poses no threat to any of its neighbors or any other nation. It is also clear that Syria has been the victim for six long years of aggression by foreign states which have funded and promoted a proxy army of fanatics and mercenaries from around the world.

As the former Nicaraguan Foreign Minister and President of the UN General Assembly, Father Miguel D’Escoto, has said: “What the U.S. government is doing in Syria is tantamount to a war of aggression, which, according to the Nuremberg Tribunal, is the worst possible crime a State can commit against another State.” 

There has been a sustained attempt to derail Trump’s campaign pledge to stop the US “regime change” policy. This has been accompanied by a semi-hysterical demonization of Syria’s ally Russia. Liberals have been willing accomplices in this campaign which serves the interests of the U.S. military security complex, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

It looks like the foreign policy hawks and neocons have succeeded. Yesterday’s attacks on Syria mark an escalation in the war of aggression and violation of international law against Syria. This could lead to WW3 unless there is sufficient outcry and opposition.

Toronto’s Jewish Defence League Fascists

We live in strange and dangerous times. While Toronto thugs export their violence and extremist ideology to the USA and the Jewish Defence League works with neo-fascists to bash Muslims, the dominant Canadian media has placed a cone of silence over these disturbing developments.

At the recent American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference in Washington, D.C., a mob organized by JDL Toronto attacked counter-protesters. In the worst incident, a 55-year-old Palestinian-American teacher was punched, kicked and hit with flagpoles. Bruised across his body, Kamal Nayfeh needed 18 stitches around his eye.

Thornhill JDL member Yosef Steynovitz was charged with assault causing significant injury and a hate crime.

Despite video of JDL thugs assaulting protesters in the US capital, no Canadian media except the Canadian Jewish News reported on the confrontation. Also ignored are JDL’s efforts to parlay Donald Trump’s xenophobia into a bigger presence down south. In January, JDL Toronto organized a meeting in the Big Apple. “We are trying to get something off the ground in New York. We have to resurrect it in other states in the US, in LA, Chicago, Florida, Philadelphia, I get emails from all over the US, we have to get this thing going,” JDL-Toronto leader Meir Weinstein told the New York meeting, according to a Ha’aretz story headlined “Drawing Inspiration From Trump, Far-right Kahane Movement Seeks U.S. Revival”.

The US JDL was labelled “a right-wing terrorist group” by the FBI in 2001. Its members were convicted of a series of acts of terror, including the killing of the regional director of the American Arab Anti-discrimination Committee and a plot to assassinate a congressman. A member of the JDL’s sister organization in Israel killed 29 Palestinian Muslim worshipers in the Cave of the Patriarchs Massacre two decades ago.

Most people involved in Palestinian solidarity activism in Toronto have experienced JDL thuggery. During Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza in 2014, I was shoved, had my bike damaged and lock stolen by members of the JDL at a protest on the grounds of the Ontario legislature. The following day at Queen’s Park, a JDL member who worked with children at the Schwartz/Reisman Jewish Community Centre and was on a B’nai Brith softball team, Isaac Ezra Nacson, knocked a pro-Palestinian counter demonstrator to the ground and kicked him in the face. Half an hour after Nacson’s attack, a JDL member walked some 50 metres around a barricade to where I was standing alone chanting at the pro-war rally and spat on me three times. Both incidents were caught on tape by major media outlets, but little was done.

In 2014 the JDL sparked a violent confrontation at Palestine House in Mississauga. Three years earlier the RCMP launched an investigation against a number of JDL members who were thought to be plotting to bomb Palestine House.

While they’ve organized with the far right English Defence League and Pegida UK in the past, JDL has deepened its coordination with other local white supremacists in recent months. They’ve joined the Soldiers of Odin at Nathan Phillips Square on a couple of occasions to protest M-103, the anti-Islamophobia parliamentary motion.

Despite its racism and violence, the JDL finds support from much of the organized Jewish community and other powerful institutions. JDL has cosponsored demonstrations with B’nai B’rith and provided “security” for pro-Israel rallies. Canadian Jewish News coverage of the group has often been sympathetic, including publishing video of a speech by Meir Weinstein. Two years ago Barbara Kay penned a National Post column titled “In defence of the Jewish Defence League” and six weeks ago the Toronto Sun published an article headlined “Jewish Defence League alleges hate crime”. In 2014 former Prime Minister Stephen Harper even included a JDL member in his official delegation when he traveled to Israel.

Tacitly accepted or actively supported by much of the establishment, the JDL is probably the most powerful far right group in Toronto. The group is now using its influence to build neo-fascist alliances in the city and export its toxic politics south of the border.

People should be concerned.

Westminster Attack: Courage, Cowardice and Double Standards

The attack outside and inside London’s Westminster Parliament just before 4 pm local time on Wednesday 22nd March resulted in five deaths, including the assailant and forty injured. The confirmed British-born attacker, Adrian Elms – but with a number of alias’ including the much quoted Khalid Masood – drove a grey Hyundai SUV over Westminster Bridge, which spans the River Thames as it flows past Parliament, mounting the pavement and mowing down pedestrians crossing the great span, with it’s panoramic city views.

Some forty people were injured, twenty nine treated in hospital, with seven initially in a critical condition. Speaking in Parliament the next morning Prime Minister Theresa May listed the injured including twelve Britons, three of whom were police officers returning from an Award ceremony, three French children, two Romanians, four South Koreans, one Pole, one Irish, one Chinese, one Italian, an American and two Greeks.

Killed was American Kurt Cochran who ran a recording studio from his home in Utah who, with his wife, Melissa, had been touring Germany, Scotland and Ireland before arriving in London to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary.  It was the last day of their visit. Melissa was seriously injured. Also killed was Aysha Frade, originally from the municipality of Betanzos, Spain, an administrator and Spanish teacher at a nearby College, on her way to collect her daughters, aged eight and eleven, from school. Seventy five year old Londoner, Leslie Rhodes also died from his injuries the following night.

The car turned left at the end of the bridge, driving outside the Parliament building, crashing in to the wrought iron railings. The driver then ran through gates in to the New Palace Yard entrance, just below Big Ben, reportedly armed with two knives, fatally wounding unarmed Parliamentary Protection Officer and former soldier, PC Keith Palmer who attempted to stop him.

An act of courage and compassion came from MP Tobias Ellwood, Minister for Middle East and Africa, who gave CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to PC Palmer, in spite of the chaos breaking out after the attacker was shot, ignoring possible threat to his own safety. Ellwood’s attempts failed and his bent body as he looked down at Keith Palmer, his mouth and face smeared with Palmer’s blood as the cuffs of his formerly immaculate shirt and suit are both a haunting image of grief and a tribute to one who gave no thought but to trying to save a familiar face. There was courage from countless police, paramedics, doctors and nurses who rushed unhesitatingly towards potential danger with emergency equipment from the nearby hospital to help the injured.

Ellwood himself is no stranger to violent tragedy having lost his brother Jonathan in the 2002 Bali bombing. He wrote a searing account of dealing with the seemingly endless official bureaucratic “red tape” involved in both countries in trying to bring his brother’s body home whilst stricken with grief. “I actually ended up nailing the lid of the coffin down myself,” he said. “That can’t be right.”

Not everyone showed the courage of Mr. Ellwood and others. As Parliament went in to total lockdown with MPs and all staff trapped inside for hours, The Guardian reported:

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, was rushed into a car 40 yards from the gates outside Parliament where shots were fired minutes after the incident occurred, according to footage filmed by a member of staff.

She was ushered by at least eight armed undercover police, some with their firearms drawn, into a waiting black vehicle in Speaker’s Court, the footage seen by The Guardian shows. Loud bangs can be heard in the background as she is ushered into the car, but it is unclear whether the bangs were gunshots.

Safely back in her official residence, behind Downing Street’s fortified walls and soaring iron gates, guarded by colleagues of PC Palmer, she paid tribute to the emergency services: “ … these exceptional men and women ran towards the danger even as they encouraged others to move the other way.”

She talked of terrorists targeting Parliament because they hated the “values our Parliament represents – democracy, freedom, human rights, the rule of law” and the “spirit of (it’s engendered) freedom that echoes in some of the furthest corners of the globe.”

It has to be wondered whether those still under bombardment from the UK or its ally the US, in Afghanistan after sixteen years, Iraq after fourteen years, in Libya, Syria, Yemen; Palestinians remembering the decimation the Balfour Declaration has wrought on them for generations – when May had declared that in this, its centenary year, it is to be remembered in special UK “celebrations” – share quite such a starry eyed view of the “values”, “human rights” and “freedoms” etc., emanating from ”the Mother of Parliaments.”

She concluded:

Any attempt to defeat those values through violence and terror is doomed to failure.

Tomorrow morning, Parliament will meet as normal. We will come together as normal.

And Londoners – and others from around the world who have come here to visit this great City – will get up and go about their day as normal.

They will board their trains, they will leave their hotels, they will walk these streets, they will live their lives.

And we will all move forward together. Never giving in to terror.

Breathtaking stuff from the woman who gave in instantly, running away, protected by eight armed guards, in a bullet proof limo, rather than remaining in solidarity with her colleagues and the extensive staff who were in lockdown, not knowing whether further unhinged potential assassins were prowling Parliament.

No doubt if challenged she would say that such an emergency demanded she convened the COBRA group – another silly acronym which refers to the crisis response committee that meets in instances of national or regional crisis. However, there are plenty of telephones in Parliament and an on line conference is not exactly rocket science.

The following morning she told MPs:

Yesterday an act of terrorism tried to silence our democracy, but today we meet as normal, as generations have done before us and as future generations will continue to do, to deliver a simple message: ‘We are not afraid and our resolve will never waver in the face of terrorism’.

Her “resolve” it seems not so much “never wavered”. It collapsed in a pile of dust.

What a contrast to President Bashar al Assad and his wife, who with their children, have never fled in terrorist attacks on their country ongoing since March 2011, terrorist attacks which include entirely illegal, massive bombings by UK and US air power. See, for example, for just one month’s UK decimation from the UK government’s very own horse’s mouth.

A week before the Westminster attack a suicide bomber blew himself up in the Syrian capitol, Damascus, Palace of Justice killing reportedly thirty nine people. President al-Assad and his wife stayed put in their residence in the city. Their “resolve” has absolutely “never wavered in the face of terrorism”, indeed “never giving in to terror”, plotted from inside the US Embassy in Damascus in 2006 and in Washington well before.  He has been called by the US, UK and their allies a tyrant, a despot and a war criminal.

The Western backed “moderate” head choppers are now a mere several kilometres distance from Damascus, still the first family remain.

“I was born in Syria and I will die in Syria”, the President has stated. Given that Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi also refused to abandon their people in the face of Western onslaughts and remembering their terrible fates, whatever observers varying views, it is undeniable Assad shows a particular kind of towering courage seemingly rare in the West. George W. Bush, of course, on 9/11, although already over 1,000 miles away in Florida, was rushed to a top-secret military bunker in Louisiana.

Not alone the standards but the language differs in the West. Attacks in Paris, Brussels, Nice, London, are undoubtedly “terrorism.” In Syria attacks of enormity are declared “a rebel offensive” usually quotes provided by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights which is allegedly funded by the EU and another government, thought to be the UK. The founder, Rami Abdulrahman, with a couple of other aliases “… has direct access to former (UK) Foreign Minister William Hague, who he has been documented meeting in person on multiple occasions at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London and shares (Abdulrahman’s) enthusiasm for removing Assad from power.”

The reaction to an attack in the West also differs. The UK Prime Minister’s office received condolences from Heads of State across the globe. The lights of the Eiffel Tower were shut off at midnight, Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate was lit, in marks of sympathy. President Putin also conveyed his condolences, in spite of the street level insults he has received from the British parliamentary establishment.

The UN Security Council observed a minute’s silence in respect of a tragic, horrific incident, but nevertheless one which would be an unusually quiet day in any of the countries the UK is enjoining in occupying, bombing or has invaded.

A friend also commented succinctly: ‘If “terrorists will not succeed” in the UK and other Western countries, why should the West expect the Syrian government and its allies to allow the Western, GCC, Israeli-backed terrorists, to succeed in Syria and seize control of the country after six years of global terror?’ Terrorists from up to ninety countries gaining access via the borders left open by the occupiers of Iraq from the time of the 2003 invasion and via NATO ally Turkey’s borders and blind eyes.

Coincidentally, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had said on the morning of the Westminster attack, after a series of verbal spats with European countries, that: “If Europe continues this way, no European in any part of the world can walk safely on the streets. Europe will be damaged by this.” A few hours later he stated that: “Turkey feels and shares deeply in the United Kingdom’s pain” and that it stood in “solidarity” with Britain “in the fight against terrorism.”

If “a week is a long time in politics”, so, clearly, is six hours.

In Iraq in just two “catastrophic” “liberation” assaults on Mosul’s ancient, beautiful city, US “coalition” bombings killed up to three hundred and fifty souls, wiping out entire families in the week before London’s one man attack: “Journalists saw children and a pregnant woman among at least 50 bodies recovered from the rubble, with limbs and shoes protruding from destroyed houses.” No condolences from world leaders, no Eiffel Tower or Brandenburg Gate markings for them.

A spokesman for the US led Mosul slaughter:

Operation Inherent Resolve”, responded with: “The coalition respects human life, which is why we are assisting our Iraqi partner forces in their effort to liberate their lands from ISIS brutality.

He has clearly forgotten what the US has demonstrated in Iraq – with a brief break – fourteen years of their “respect for human life” – and the comment from a bewildered senior US military man to Major General Antonio Taguba during his investigation into the horrors, torture and death inflicted by US forces at Abu Ghraib: “But they were only Iraqis.”

Another friend provided me unwittingly with the conclusion for this inadequate piece on towering double standards. Thank you:

Do we not all bleed the same?

8/3 Kabul, Afghanistan – 49 dead. Silence

9/3 Tikrit, Iraq – 30 dead. Silence

11/3 Damascus, Syria – 74 dead. Silence

15/3 Damascus, Syria – 40 dead. Silence

16/3 Al-Jineh, Syria – 46 dead. Silence

21/3 Raqqa, Syria – 33 dead. Silence

21/3 Westminster, London – 5 dead.

22/3 Mosul, Iraq – 240 dead. Silence

They say we are all born equal.

But only the (Western deemed) “worthy” die as humans.

The others are simply forgotten.

UK residents have responded with generosity to funds for Westminster’s injured and grieving families with large sums being raised including £500,000 for the family of PC Palmer. Muddassar Ahmed set up the Muslims United for London page after witnessing the attack from Parliament’s Portcullis House: “I happened to be trapped inside the building yesterday, and saw the carnage …” His appeal raised £3,000 in the first hour.

Last weekend hundreds of Muslim women joined hands along Westminster Bridge in memory and solidarity – as the UK continues to bomb or threaten many of their countries. Their gesture should both humble and shame.

And since the perpetrator of the London attack is dead, it will likely never be known whether it was a coincidence that the attack was on the first anniversary of three suicide bombers killing thirty-two people and injuring three hundred and sixteen in Brussels on 22nd March 2016.

In another coincidence, on 19th March, armed anti-terror police carried out “a terrifyingly realistic” boat drill a little further down the Thames:

A sightseeing vessel became the scene of a fierce mock-gun battle between armed officers and police volunteers posing as terrorists shortly after 11am on Sunday …

At least one “body”, played by a police volunteer, was cast overboard, and officers were deployed in an effort to assess the effectiveness of rescue operation tactics in life-like conditions.’

The multi-agency operation was carried out between the Met, the Port of London Authority, London Coastguard, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), London Ambulance Service and London Fire Brigade.

Police stressed that there was no specific threat but with London on high alert for two years: “I do hope there is a deterrent effect in this when they see how effective our people are.”

After last Wednesday’s attack Romanian architect Andreea Cristea was pulled from the Thames, alive but badly injured. It is uncertain whether she jumped to escape the car or fell off in the chaos.

On the day of the 7th July 2005 London tube and bus bombings, Visor Security were running a live exercise outside every tube station affected. Managing Director Peter Power told the BBC:

At half past nine this morning we were actually running an exercise for a company of over a thousand people in London based on simultaneous bombs going off precisely at the railway stations where it happened this morning, so I still have the hairs on the back of my neck standing up right now.

Tragic fact really can truly be stranger than fiction.

The Choice: Traitor to Empire, or Traitor to Mankind

I envy you. You North Americans are very lucky. You are fighting the most important fight of all. You live in the belly of the beast.

— Dr. Ernesto “Che” Guevara

A birth certificate from somewhere between the beast’s belly and its beating heartland condemns me to the dubious distinction of being among the privileged 5% of humans who claim United States Citizenship. A population which demands the right to consume 25% of earth’s resources while billions of our fellow-humans go hungry. A shame it was wasted on me, for I’ve never been one to make my country proud. Basically, I’ve always been a bad American. Cases in point: I never stand for The Star-Spangled Banner, nor do I Pledge Allegiance to the Flag of Retroperistalsis. I no longer believe in, nor vote in sham, mockery-of-democracy U.S. elections. I make no investments in Wall Street, for fear of inadvertently supporting The Military-Industrial Complex. If I happen to turn on the evening so-called news, I can’t resist calling Lester Holt “America’s House Negro”, for Holt’s Nightly Lies loudly confirm what Chris Hedges tells us: “No real journalist makes $5 million a year…Those in power fear and dislike real journalists.” And I pray regularly to whatever gods may be that Empire dies with a whimper, rather than a bang…and soon. There is little doubt that I am, and have for many years, been a traitor to Empire and its agendas of Neo-colonialism and wars for profit.

Fifty years ago, while Che Guevara was being summarily executed by the C.I.A. and its Bolivian Military stooges, my lifelong battle against Empire was just beginning. Che’s last words were some of the most prophetic ever spoken, as he looked his assassin in the eyes and said: “Shoot coward. You are only going to kill a man.” Only the good die young, they say. It is said that Che is much more powerful in death than he was in life, as a half century later, his legacy lives on and grows. Two years after his demise, he’d lit fire of discontent beneath a whole generation of Americans, and stood posthumously by my side as I gave the U.S. Army my very best middle-fingered salute, thereby refusing induction into the most over-funded, offensive, aggressive, killing force the world has ever known.

My neighbors and acquaintances are not evil or bad people. They’re simply oblivious to what George Carlin lovingly called “the big red, white, and blue dick” being shoved up their asses by the likes of Lester Holt and his cadres in criminal propaganda on a nightly basis. Americans are to be pitied for their willful ignorance. If I were a Christian, I’d ask God to forgive them, for they’re a bunch of clueless jackasses who know not what they do. But not being a believer in the imaginary bearded man in the stratosphere, I write. Not that I have any delusions of being omniscient, but my moderate level of enlightenment has been reached, one step at a time, one book or article at a time, and Che’s sword is now my pen. Che’s rifle, my Hewlett-Packard. The pen (in certain circumstances) is mightier than the sword. If Che had fought the Revolution, in the belly of the beast, with bullets, he would have been eliminated long before 1967. Lucky for me, thus far, Empire only executes the highest-level truth-talkers and traitors to the Military-Industrial agenda.

NBC demoted Brian Williams for the high crime of telling his own personal lies, instead of just the official ones, then replaced him with Mr. Holt. I’d seriously doubt whether either of these corporate whores, or any of their collaborating competitors give a rat’s ass whether their thousand-dollar-a-sentence blather bears any resemblance to the truth. Truth is the enemy of the overlords they serve, and has no place in the nightly news agenda, nor in any facet of Empire’s Disinformation Network. Truthful coverage of Empire’s latest wars for profit: Forbidden. Questioning the basic good intentions of our exceptional government: Not allowed. Tow the line, learn and regurgitate the fabrications du jour, read all recent directives from the C.I.A., keep your nose clean, your Armani Suit pressed, and God Bless America.

My insouciant neighbors and acquaintances have never heard of Noam Chomsky, and know nothing of Manufactured Consent. They have never seen a copy of Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of The United States. They have no idea that “War (really) is a Racket” (Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler). They’d likely not even blink an eye at the atrocities wrought against the Southern half of The Western Hemisphere by the U.S.A. and its European counterparts, as artfully reported by Eduardo Galeano in Open Veins of Latin America. Hugo Chavez gave a copy to Barack Obama shortly before his mysterious and suspicious demise. Too bad Barack never read it. Not that he would have cared, being well programmed by the C.I.A.

When I’ve tried to explain to mainstream Americans the dastardly scheming of the C.I.A. in foreign countries; its economic hit men and jackals, bribery, coup d ‘etat, assassination, and finally bombs and bullets…as exposed by ex-C.I.A. Operative John Perkins in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, the responses are glazed, dazed expressions. I might as well be talking to four-year-olds when explaining that 9-11 was an inside job, as proven beyond a shadow of a doubt by such sources as Michael C. Ruppert’s Crossing the Rubicon, or that the C.I.A. and other branches of our government eliminated J.F.K. for choosing the path of peace, as explained by James W. Douglass in his masterpiece, J.F.K. and the Unspeakable. The subtitle of the J.F.K. volume is “Why He Died and Why it Matters”, but what really matters to my adult four-year-olds is whatever professional gladiator games happen to be in season.

Americans don’t want to hear that “terrorism” is nothing but the direct result of Empire’s overreach and military incursions into every little resource-rich, under-militarized country on earth. Who, outside a few conspiracy theorists like me could give a shit about Chalmers Johnson’s trilogy, which includes “Blowback”, and exposes The U.S. Military’s Empire of Bases and aspirations for complete world domination? If I happen to mention The Great American Holocaust (the most deadly in earth’s history), as graphically illuminated in Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s An Indigenous Peoples’ History of The United States, in oblivious company, white faces gaze at me in wonder…wondering why I’d care about the slaughter of a few tens of millions of inferior beings. One of the biggest secrets in the U.S.A. is the mystery of the most enduring, morally upstanding, and advanced civilization in earth’s history; a story expertly told by my friend Jeff J. Brown in China Rising: Capitalist Roads, Socialist Destinations. After 100 years under the heavy hand of Empire, the sleeping dragon is once again rising. Empire knows it…thus the so-called Pivot to Asia Strategy, and another $60 billion gift for The Pentagon.

The few of us who’ve come to understand the intrinsic evil, and violence on every level, of the United States of America, reach a point where a choice must be made. As U.S. Citizens, we can choose denial and ignore our own enlightenment, thus remaining part of the problem. Or we can cross The Rubicon, as Caesar did, and by doing so becoming traitors to Empire, enemies of the state, and strangers in our own land. If we choose the latter, alea iacta est; the die is cast, and there is no going back. Ignorance may be bliss, but the truth shall set ye free.

Empire is on a collision course with destiny. It’s a runaway train, carrying enough Weapons of Mass Destruction to turn our fading blue planet into shades of smoldering gray, and end life on earth as we know it. Never underestimate the blind, ignorant greed and mindless dreams of dominance of the sociopaths in the cab of Empire’s Engine. You know it. I know it. We are soldiers in Empire’s Underground Army, armed only with words, ideas, brilliance, open eyes, and hope. Those bearing arms need not apply. The battlefield of this war is for the minds of the insouciant. Somehow we must awaken an entire population which only pretends to sleep, and has no interest in buying what we’re selling. Always remember how lucky we are. We’re fighting the most important fight of all. Here in the belly of the beast.

Hasta la victoria siempre!

The Korea Problem

South Korea — As an occupied country, the successive governments of South Korea — occupied since 1950 with between 326,000 US soldiers (during the Korean War) and 28,500 US soldiers (today) and the war that divided the peninsula and the people of Korea — has seen massive human rights violations, repression and state terrorism, and has also perpetrated atrocities in other countries.  This is a so-called “member of the international community.”  Will the real war criminals please stand up?

South Korea — Seoul, 10 May 1990: Student pro-democracy and anti-US imperialism demonstrations rocked Seoul for two days on 9 May and 10 May 1990. (Keith Harmon Snow)

The Central Intelligence Agency under Allen Dulles launched covert operations in South Korea by 1950 — utilizing South Korean police and other secret agents to serve the imperial “pro-democracy” agenda. The ever touted claim that North Korea launched a very clear war of aggression by crossing the 38th parallel — an arbitrary line of demarcation between Soviet Russian and US/allied forces after WW-2 — and invading South Korea is not born out by the facts that existed on the ground in the Korean peninsula in June of 1950.  Not only are there credible reports of death squads crossing into the northern territory and committing atrocities, but the diplomatic record shows a pattern of belligerence and war-mongering that has become de rigeur for the United States all over the world since then.

Massive post-WW-2 repression and murder (extrajudicial summary executions) by South Korean troops, with US military oversight, occurred against their own people in the south, including such horrible massacres as occurred on Je Ju island 1948-1949 and were white-washed by the western propaganda and intelligence apparatus (see the documentary film “The Ghosts of Je Ju“).  The somewhat more well-known “Koch’ang incident” in February 1951 involved some 600 men and women, young and old, that were reportedly herded into a narrow valley in south Korea and mowed down with machine guns by a South Korean army unit on the loosely applied claim that they were “suspected of aiding guerrillas” — these being Korean people who resisted the overt terrorism that the Korean people (north and south) were subjected to by the southern forces and US troops.

South Korea – May 1990:  A map posted in the northern zone just south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) showing the DMZ and major dams contstructed on both sides of the illegal border.  (Keith Harmon Snow)

“The Governor of Je Ju at the time admitted that the repression of the Island’s 300,000 residents led to the murder of as many as 60,000 Islanders,” wrote S. Brian Wilson, “with another 40,000 desperately fleeing in boats to Japan. Thus, one-third of its residents were either murdered or fled during the “extermination” campaign. Nearly 40,000 homes were destroyed and 270 of 400 villages were leveled.”

US troops fired on crowds, conducted mass arrests, combed the hills for suspects, and organized posses of Korean rightists, constabulary and police for mass raids (reported at the time by correspondent Mark Gwyn for the Chicago Sun: see in William Blum Killing Hope).

South Korea – May 1990: A partially camouflaged military encampment in the northern region of South Korea a few miles south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates the Korean people at the 38th parallel (Keith Harmon Snow)

Said one British scholar Jon Halliday at the time: “After all, if civilians could be mowed down in the South on “suspicion” (italics on the original) of aiding (not even “being” {italics on original}) guerrillas — what about the North, where millions could reasonably be assumed to be Communists, or political militants?” (See: Killing Hope p. 51).

The US military carpet bombing and use of napalm against the northern Koreans during the Korean War was murderous and unprecedented (though rivaled by the bombing of Dresden) and set the stage for similar repeat operations in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in the 1960’s and early 1970’s.  Entire villages were wiped off the map and the Korean peninsula.  Some 3 million Koreans north of the 38th parallel were killed, with 1 million Korean people killed in the south and over 1 million Chinese deaths.

South Korea – Seoul, 10 May 1990: Student pro-democracy and anti-US imperialism demonstrations rocked Seoul for two days on 9 May and 10 May 1990.  (Keith Harmon Snow)

Note that the *United Nations* were involved in the war: UN troops were commanded by general Douglas McArthur and committed egregious atrocities all over the place — and these atrocities were always blamed on the “North” Korean forces — a particularly poignant tactic (blaming the victims) ever exercised by the pro democracy forces of the New World Order in the process of exercising our military freedoms and exorcising anyone deemed to be undemocratic (meaning: opposed to predatory capitalism, the IMF and the World Bank, multinational corporate destruction, and the feeding, housing, clothing, educating and taking care of the people).

Under then US-installed puppet dictator Syngman Rhee the allied (US/UN/south Korean) troops confiscated massive tracts of land and other “spoils of war” (confiscated property of the former brutal Japanese occupiers) and doled them out, for example, to ultra-right wing former sympathizers and collaborators with the former Japanese occupation, the most wealthy, and other conservative elements. This further set the stage for widespread resentment amongst the Korean population — whose ancestors saw and who did not forget the first massacres in Korea at the hands of invading US forces in 1871.

South Korea – May 1990: A military jeep carries soldiers along a remote road in the northern region of South Korea a few miles south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates the Korean people at the 38th parallel. (Keith Harmon Snow)

The arbitrary and illegal line of demarcation drawn at the 38th parallel became the de facto border separating the Korean people due to US/UN/NATO/South Korean military aggression and refusal to compromise with the northern power structure (the northerners  made many overtures and granted many concessions toward reunification).

Subsequent to the war, the Republic of Korea military under its US tutelage did not limit the atrocities against innocent civilians to the domestic arena.  Some 300,000 South Korean troops joined the NATO war in Indochina, and committed serious atrocities there: at least several major massacres are well documented. Examples include:

Bình Hòa massacre
Binh Tai massacre
Hà My massacre
Phong Nhị and Phong Nhất massacre

— all being located in South Vietnam and all being massacres of hundreds of unarmed non-combatant children, pregnant women, and the elderly.  The South Korean troops committed brutal atrocities — such as cutting the breasts off women and bayonetting pregnant women in the bellies and bulldozing shallow graves for summary burials to cover up the evidence.  Some of the villages and people so targeted were known to be very sympathetic and supportive of the US military, but after these atrocities many survivors joined the Viet Kong.

South Korea – May 1990:  The northern region of South Korea a few miles south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates the Korean people at the 28th parallel (Keith Harmon Snow)

There is no doubt the South Korean forces were trained in brutal “counter-insurgency” techniques now well-documented to include the most horrible crimes that people have ever committed against people — all under the watchful eyes and logistical coordination of the United States and our intelligence apparatus (e.g. the Phoenix Program  — a campaign of absolute terror and egregious crimes against humanity and war crimes conducted in Indochina during the US wars there).

For example: at Binh Hoa village (December 1966) in South Vietnam the South Korean “Blue Dragon Brigade” slaughtered over 400 mostly children, women and elderly; ROK troops then burned the village to the ground and slaughtered the people’s buffaloes.

South Korea – May 1990: Camouflaged cement structures ready to be deployed as barricades on the roads in northern South Korea, a few miles south of the DMZ that separates the Korean people at the 38th parallel. (Keith Harmon Snow)

Over the past 60 years the people of South Korea have been subject to egregious curtailment of freedoms under certain “National Security” directives (laws) including: the (repeated) jailing of thousands of “dissidents” who have, in one form or another, protested imperialist US involvement and occupation in South Korea; people who have organized against US imperialism; students and other civilians that have maintained contacts with people in North Korea; civil society groups and individuals that have contacted foreign organizations seeking help against repression; the censoring and destruction of truth in education and educational materials.

South Korea – Seoul, 10 May 1990: Some 40,000 riot police were deployed on 9 May and 10 May to crush demonstrations involving over 100,000 people.  (Keith Harmon Snow)

There have been suspicious deaths of student activists, and attempts to get outside help to demand proper investigations of such deaths have led to further repression of the petitioners (seeking help).

On 9 May 1990, some 100,000 Koreans marched and demonstrated against the then latest US/UK/EU-backed dictatorship of president Roh Tae-Woo (1988-1993); over 40,000 South Korean storm troopers (riot police) were mobilized and over 1900 people detained.  Some of the perceived organizers were jailed for several years.  Torture has been selectively used on political prisoners, but was routinely deployed against certain segments of the population during particular periods since the 1950’s, such as the run-up to the 1988 Seoul Olympics, where thousands of “vagrants” were rounded up off the streets, most of them small children, and were sent to a “welfare facility” called “Brothers Home,” where they were subject to several years of brutality and/or including fatal beatings and routine rape — all this under orders of the then-president Park Chung-hee (father of President Park Geun-hye who was recently impeached in December 2016) and whose successor, President Chun Doo-hwan, suppressed any investigation into the atrocities.

South Korean labor unions and struggles have in the past been infiltrated and co-opted by gangs of thugs hired by / for multinational corporations like Daewoo, Samsung and Hyundai.  The bribery, influence peddling, hired thuggery, and other forms of corruption by the “chaelbol” — giant family run multinational conglomerates — rival those of the Japanese Sogo Shosha (trading houses) and the Japanese mafia (Yakuza) and their western corporate criminal counterparts (CIA/FBI/NSA/DIA/USAID and the 1 percent) — where anything and everything can be bought and sold with reckless abandon and near zero accountability and the corruption and criminals are shielded by the judiciary.

South Korea – Seoul, 10 May 1990: Some 40,000 riot police were deployed on 9 May and 10 May to crush demonstrations involving over 100,000 people (Keith Harmon Snow)

The corporate Goon Squads have often used various forms of torture, including beatings and kidnappings, and the thuggery by corporate gangs has in many cases been supported by state security and police — who have furthered the extrajudicial punishments and torture against labor organizers and employees of the large corporations targeted, for example, for exercising their freedom of expression.  Public and private school teachers have also suffered retaliation and repression for their involvement in activities that the “state” deemed a threat to “national security” — such as labor and pro-democracy organizing.

South Korean people lived under more than 30 years of military dictatorship from 1960s-1993 but given the corruption and absence of freedoms the situation under “democratically elected” presidents has not been particularly encouraging, to say to least, for the average South Korean — repressive laws instituted under military dictatorship continued to serve a repressive state security apparatus, including arbitrary arrests and detentions — and so “democracy” has been an absolute farce.

South Korea – Seoul, 10 May 1990: Riot police searched shop to shop door to door hunting down demonstrators and arresting some 1900 people.  (Keith Harmon Snow)

As S. Brian Wilson discusses, the current inhabitants of Je Ju Island have been opposed to the construction of a deep water port that would serve US/ROK military objectives enabling guided missile equipped AEGIS class destroyers access to port facilities at the village of Gangjeong. The ROK’s CIA-like Korean National Intelligence Service has spied on and raided citizens and organizations that are opposed to the deep water port that would be built by the criminal Samsung Corporation.  Samsung has a history of more than 50 years of environmental pollution, trade union repression, corruption, tax flight and tax evasion.

South Korea – One photo of just one of the many Je Ju Island massacres that occurred in South Korea and were committed by US-backed South Korean forces in 1948 and 1949. (Photo credit unknown)

South Korean civilians have also been persecuted from the 1950s to the present day, including arrests, kidnappings, beatings and torture, for advocating reunification with North Korea.  Millions of Koreans were separated from family members by the illegal US-enforced bifurcation of the Koreas before and after the Korean War (1950-1953) and, as we can imagine, reunification is blocked by powerful political interests whose motivations (power, control, private profit) do not serve the greater common interest of the Korean people (north and south) or the rest of us.  Further, South Korean militarization has benefited US, UK, Canadian, EU and Israeli corporations — further wagging the dog of war and serving the powerful interests that will never move toward a peaceful equitable reunification serving the interests the people (north and south).

South Korea is effectively run by an organized crime syndicate with deep ties to the United States power structure (see, for example, the notes on The Cohen Group below).  Beyond a repressive security apparatus and pro-imperialist international foreign policy, South Korea suffers very high and increasing rates of suicides, alcoholism, sexual and domestic violence.

South Korean corporations have also run roughshod over the environment domestically and abroad and slavery conditions have historically prevailed for their labor forces while sweatshop conditions still do.

South Korea – Seoul, 10 May 1990: Riot police occupied all major subway stations and train stations in the search for demonstrators. (Keith Harmon Snow)

While the South Korean government has offered an “aggressive” public face to the issue of “calling for reunification”, this is mere lip service as they have simultaneously increased military spending, maintained a compulsory draft (with severe penalties for any conscientious objector), and moved to the front of the line as a leading arms exporter.  In recent years South Korea has purchased scores of billions of dollars worth of warplanes, anti-missile systems and other weapons (of mass destruction), and the ROK has annual defense budgets of over $30 Billion.

Meanwhile, South Korea and its western allies (including Japan) have escalated aggressive military posturing and rhetoric targeting North Korea, including deployments of troops and weaponry (e.g. battleships) in “joint military exercises” within striking distance of North Korea. The escalation of tensions and probability of war — on the Korean peninsula — are due to the duplicitous and sociopathic criminal hegemony and aggression by the United States *government* and its closest allies and their *leaders*.

South Korea – Seoul 10 May 1990: Riot police search shops and restaurants for demonstartors. (Keith Harmon Snow)

South Korea sealed its biggest-ever — until then — arms purchase in September 2015 with a U.S. $7.04 billion deal for 40 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets.  South Korea has also been stocking up on spy satellites and drones — courtesy of US weapons manufacturers like Northrup Grumman.  South Korea also sports a large number of Apache Attack helicopters, and it has more than “capable” air force and navy.

Who benefits from all this war making? Who are the directors of Lockheed Martin? Northrup Grumman? Don’t miss that retired US Air Force General and former director of the profoundly secretive National Reconnaissance Office on Lockheed’s board.  The NRO plans, builds and operates North America’s spy satellites, and they specialize in intelligence-gathering and information warfare — and the NRO coordinates the analysis of aerial surveillance and satellite imagery from several intelligence and military agencies, including the Defense Investigative Agency (DIA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Oh, and don’t miss that retired US Admiral and Commander of the US Strategic Command, also on Lockheed’s board, who is also a director of the highly dishonest and destructive Institute for Nuclear Power (INPO).

Oh, and don’t miss the Lockheed directors that are also directors of The Cohen Group — founded and run by former U.S. Secretary of War (1997-2001) and bona fide war criminal William S. Cohen.  According to his own The Cohen Group web site: “Under his leadership, the US military conducted the largest air warfare campaign since World War II, in Serbia and Kosovo, and conducted other military operations on every continent” — including the U.S. proxy wars in Congo and Sudan — and “The Cohen Group principals have decades of experience working with The Republic of Korea (ROK) government and military and with ROK industry.”

I bet they do!

Now, let’s talk about North Korea.

Imagine, a country like North Korea, which, in fact, there is no other country like, that does not have the stellar record of committing massive war crimes that the United States, Britain, Canada, Germany, Japan or Israel do, and that had the audacity to develop a missile (capability) of their own…to defend themselves against the world’s leading military aggressor(s), one(s) with long and unpretty records of massacres, tortures, double-dealing and back-stabbing, amounting to a lot more than just massive and gross war crimes, crimes against humanity and mass murder in one country after the next.

Will the real war criminals please stand up?  If you are reading the New York Times, you are contributing to your own mental illness.

South Korea – May 1990: Scores of military vehicles (background) at a military base in the north of South Korea a few miles south of the DMZ that separates the Korean people at the 38th parallel. (Keith Harmon Snow)

P.S. I have also provided some (amateur) photos of the South Korea’s northern zone — where I was able to use my mountain bicycle to gain access to the area just south of the DMZ.  At the time (May 1990) it was highly militarized and I used my camera judiciously, though I always suspected that the ROK patrols that saw me assumed I was US military and gave me a certain carte blanche to bike freely.  The landscape there, it seems to me, was highly “manicured” devoid of almost all wildness. Other than the soldiers and police, the only people I saw were universally lower class farmers — warm, kind and friendly. I imagine that this northern region has been substantially more militarized since 1990, but really I have no idea.

South Korea – May 1990: Camouflaged cement structures ready to deployed as barricades on the roads in northern South Korea, a few miles south of the DMZ that separates the Korean people at the 38th parallel. (Keith Harmon Snow)

The Korea Problem

South Korea — As an occupied country, the successive governments of South Korea — occupied since 1950 with between 326,000 US soldiers (during the Korean War) and 28,500 US soldiers (today) and the war that divided the peninsula and the people of Korea — has seen massive human rights violations, repression and state terrorism, and has also perpetrated atrocities in other countries.  This is a so-called “member of the international community.”  Will the real war criminals please stand up?

South Korea — Seoul, 10 May 1990: Student pro-democracy and anti-US imperialism demonstrations rocked Seoul for two days on 9 May and 10 May 1990. (Keith Harmon Snow)

The Central Intelligence Agency under Allen Dulles launched covert operations in South Korea by 1950 — utilizing South Korean police and other secret agents to serve the imperial “pro-democracy” agenda. The ever touted claim that North Korea launched a very clear war of aggression by crossing the 38th parallel — an arbitrary line of demarcation between Soviet Russian and US/allied forces after WW-2 — and invading South Korea is not born out by the facts that existed on the ground in the Korean peninsula in June of 1950.  Not only are there credible reports of death squads crossing into the northern territory and committing atrocities, but the diplomatic record shows a pattern of belligerence and war-mongering that has become de rigeur for the United States all over the world since then.

Massive post-WW-2 repression and murder (extrajudicial summary executions) by South Korean troops, with US military oversight, occurred against their own people in the south, including such horrible massacres as occurred on Je Ju island 1948-1949 and were white-washed by the western propaganda and intelligence apparatus (see the documentary film “The Ghosts of Je Ju“).  The somewhat more well-known “Koch’ang incident” in February 1951 involved some 600 men and women, young and old, that were reportedly herded into a narrow valley in south Korea and mowed down with machine guns by a South Korean army unit on the loosely applied claim that they were “suspected of aiding guerrillas” — these being Korean people who resisted the overt terrorism that the Korean people (north and south) were subjected to by the southern forces and US troops.

South Korea – May 1990:  A map posted in the northern zone just south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) showing the DMZ and major dams contstructed on both sides of the illegal border.  (Keith Harmon Snow)

“The Governor of Je Ju at the time admitted that the repression of the Island’s 300,000 residents led to the murder of as many as 60,000 Islanders,” wrote S. Brian Wilson, “with another 40,000 desperately fleeing in boats to Japan. Thus, one-third of its residents were either murdered or fled during the “extermination” campaign. Nearly 40,000 homes were destroyed and 270 of 400 villages were leveled.”

US troops fired on crowds, conducted mass arrests, combed the hills for suspects, and organized posses of Korean rightists, constabulary and police for mass raids (reported at the time by correspondent Mark Gwyn for the Chicago Sun: see in William Blum Killing Hope).

South Korea – May 1990: A partially camouflaged military encampment in the northern region of South Korea a few miles south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates the Korean people at the 38th parallel (Keith Harmon Snow)

Said one British scholar Jon Halliday at the time: “After all, if civilians could be mowed down in the South on “suspicion” (italics on the original) of aiding (not even “being” {italics on original}) guerrillas — what about the North, where millions could reasonably be assumed to be Communists, or political militants?” (See: Killing Hope p. 51).

The US military carpet bombing and use of napalm against the northern Koreans during the Korean War was murderous and unprecedented (though rivaled by the bombing of Dresden) and set the stage for similar repeat operations in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in the 1960’s and early 1970’s.  Entire villages were wiped off the map and the Korean peninsula.  Some 3 million Koreans north of the 38th parallel were killed, with 1 million Korean people killed in the south and over 1 million Chinese deaths.

South Korea – Seoul, 10 May 1990: Student pro-democracy and anti-US imperialism demonstrations rocked Seoul for two days on 9 May and 10 May 1990.  (Keith Harmon Snow)

Note that the *United Nations* were involved in the war: UN troops were commanded by general Douglas McArthur and committed egregious atrocities all over the place — and these atrocities were always blamed on the “North” Korean forces — a particularly poignant tactic (blaming the victims) ever exercised by the pro democracy forces of the New World Order in the process of exercising our military freedoms and exorcising anyone deemed to be undemocratic (meaning: opposed to predatory capitalism, the IMF and the World Bank, multinational corporate destruction, and the feeding, housing, clothing, educating and taking care of the people).

Under then US-installed puppet dictator Syngman Rhee the allied (US/UN/south Korean) troops confiscated massive tracts of land and other “spoils of war” (confiscated property of the former brutal Japanese occupiers) and doled them out, for example, to ultra-right wing former sympathizers and collaborators with the former Japanese occupation, the most wealthy, and other conservative elements. This further set the stage for widespread resentment amongst the Korean population — whose ancestors saw and who did not forget the first massacres in Korea at the hands of invading US forces in 1871.

South Korea – May 1990: A military jeep carries soldiers along a remote road in the northern region of South Korea a few miles south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates the Korean people at the 38th parallel. (Keith Harmon Snow)

The arbitrary and illegal line of demarcation drawn at the 38th parallel became the de facto border separating the Korean people due to US/UN/NATO/South Korean military aggression and refusal to compromise with the northern power structure (the northerners  made many overtures and granted many concessions toward reunification).

Subsequent to the war, the Republic of Korea military under its US tutelage did not limit the atrocities against innocent civilians to the domestic arena.  Some 300,000 South Korean troops joined the NATO war in Indochina, and committed serious atrocities there: at least several major massacres are well documented. Examples include:

Bình Hòa massacre
Binh Tai massacre
Hà My massacre
Phong Nhị and Phong Nhất massacre

— all being located in South Vietnam and all being massacres of hundreds of unarmed non-combatant children, pregnant women, and the elderly.  The South Korean troops committed brutal atrocities — such as cutting the breasts off women and bayonetting pregnant women in the bellies and bulldozing shallow graves for summary burials to cover up the evidence.  Some of the villages and people so targeted were known to be very sympathetic and supportive of the US military, but after these atrocities many survivors joined the Viet Kong.

South Korea – May 1990:  The northern region of South Korea a few miles south of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates the Korean people at the 28th parallel (Keith Harmon Snow)

There is no doubt the South Korean forces were trained in brutal “counter-insurgency” techniques now well-documented to include the most horrible crimes that people have ever committed against people — all under the watchful eyes and logistical coordination of the United States and our intelligence apparatus (e.g. the Phoenix Program  — a campaign of absolute terror and egregious crimes against humanity and war crimes conducted in Indochina during the US wars there).

For example: at Binh Hoa village (December 1966) in South Vietnam the South Korean “Blue Dragon Brigade” slaughtered over 400 mostly children, women and elderly; ROK troops then burned the village to the ground and slaughtered the people’s buffaloes.

South Korea – May 1990: Camouflaged cement structures ready to be deployed as barricades on the roads in northern South Korea, a few miles south of the DMZ that separates the Korean people at the 38th parallel. (Keith Harmon Snow)

Over the past 60 years the people of South Korea have been subject to egregious curtailment of freedoms under certain “National Security” directives (laws) including: the (repeated) jailing of thousands of “dissidents” who have, in one form or another, protested imperialist US involvement and occupation in South Korea; people who have organized against US imperialism; students and other civilians that have maintained contacts with people in North Korea; civil society groups and individuals that have contacted foreign organizations seeking help against repression; the censoring and destruction of truth in education and educational materials.

South Korea – Seoul, 10 May 1990: Some 40,000 riot police were deployed on 9 May and 10 May to crush demonstrations involving over 100,000 people.  (Keith Harmon Snow)

There have been suspicious deaths of student activists, and attempts to get outside help to demand proper investigations of such deaths have led to further repression of the petitioners (seeking help).

On 9 May 1990, some 100,000 Koreans marched and demonstrated against the then latest US/UK/EU-backed dictatorship of president Roh Tae-Woo (1988-1993); over 40,000 South Korean storm troopers (riot police) were mobilized and over 1900 people detained.  Some of the perceived organizers were jailed for several years.  Torture has been selectively used on political prisoners, but was routinely deployed against certain segments of the population during particular periods since the 1950’s, such as the run-up to the 1988 Seoul Olympics, where thousands of “vagrants” were rounded up off the streets, most of them small children, and were sent to a “welfare facility” called “Brothers Home,” where they were subject to several years of brutality and/or including fatal beatings and routine rape — all this under orders of the then-president Park Chung-hee (father of President Park Geun-hye who was recently impeached in December 2016) and whose successor, President Chun Doo-hwan, suppressed any investigation into the atrocities.

South Korean labor unions and struggles have in the past been infiltrated and co-opted by gangs of thugs hired by / for multinational corporations like Daewoo, Samsung and Hyundai.  The bribery, influence peddling, hired thuggery, and other forms of corruption by the “chaelbol” — giant family run multinational conglomerates — rival those of the Japanese Sogo Shosha (trading houses) and the Japanese mafia (Yakuza) and their western corporate criminal counterparts (CIA/FBI/NSA/DIA/USAID and the 1 percent) — where anything and everything can be bought and sold with reckless abandon and near zero accountability and the corruption and criminals are shielded by the judiciary.

South Korea – Seoul, 10 May 1990: Some 40,000 riot police were deployed on 9 May and 10 May to crush demonstrations involving over 100,000 people (Keith Harmon Snow)

The corporate Goon Squads have often used various forms of torture, including beatings and kidnappings, and the thuggery by corporate gangs has in many cases been supported by state security and police — who have furthered the extrajudicial punishments and torture against labor organizers and employees of the large corporations targeted, for example, for exercising their freedom of expression.  Public and private school teachers have also suffered retaliation and repression for their involvement in activities that the “state” deemed a threat to “national security” — such as labor and pro-democracy organizing.

South Korean people lived under more than 30 years of military dictatorship from 1960s-1993 but given the corruption and absence of freedoms the situation under “democratically elected” presidents has not been particularly encouraging, to say to least, for the average South Korean — repressive laws instituted under military dictatorship continued to serve a repressive state security apparatus, including arbitrary arrests and detentions — and so “democracy” has been an absolute farce.

South Korea – Seoul, 10 May 1990: Riot police searched shop to shop door to door hunting down demonstrators and arresting some 1900 people.  (Keith Harmon Snow)

As S. Brian Wilson discusses, the current inhabitants of Je Ju Island have been opposed to the construction of a deep water port that would serve US/ROK military objectives enabling guided missile equipped AEGIS class destroyers access to port facilities at the village of Gangjeong. The ROK’s CIA-like Korean National Intelligence Service has spied on and raided citizens and organizations that are opposed to the deep water port that would be built by the criminal Samsung Corporation.  Samsung has a history of more than 50 years of environmental pollution, trade union repression, corruption, tax flight and tax evasion.

South Korea – One photo of just one of the many Je Ju Island massacres that occurred in South Korea and were committed by US-backed South Korean forces in 1948 and 1949. (Photo credit unknown)

South Korean civilians have also been persecuted from the 1950s to the present day, including arrests, kidnappings, beatings and torture, for advocating reunification with North Korea.  Millions of Koreans were separated from family members by the illegal US-enforced bifurcation of the Koreas before and after the Korean War (1950-1953) and, as we can imagine, reunification is blocked by powerful political interests whose motivations (power, control, private profit) do not serve the greater common interest of the Korean people (north and south) or the rest of us.  Further, South Korean militarization has benefited US, UK, Canadian, EU and Israeli corporations — further wagging the dog of war and serving the powerful interests that will never move toward a peaceful equitable reunification serving the interests the people (north and south).

South Korea is effectively run by an organized crime syndicate with deep ties to the United States power structure (see, for example, the notes on The Cohen Group below).  Beyond a repressive security apparatus and pro-imperialist international foreign policy, South Korea suffers very high and increasing rates of suicides, alcoholism, sexual and domestic violence.

South Korean corporations have also run roughshod over the environment domestically and abroad and slavery conditions have historically prevailed for their labor forces while sweatshop conditions still do.

South Korea – Seoul, 10 May 1990: Riot police occupied all major subway stations and train stations in the search for demonstrators. (Keith Harmon Snow)

While the South Korean government has offered an “aggressive” public face to the issue of “calling for reunification”, this is mere lip service as they have simultaneously increased military spending, maintained a compulsory draft (with severe penalties for any conscientious objector), and moved to the front of the line as a leading arms exporter.  In recent years South Korea has purchased scores of billions of dollars worth of warplanes, anti-missile systems and other weapons (of mass destruction), and the ROK has annual defense budgets of over $30 Billion.

Meanwhile, South Korea and its western allies (including Japan) have escalated aggressive military posturing and rhetoric targeting North Korea, including deployments of troops and weaponry (e.g. battleships) in “joint military exercises” within striking distance of North Korea. The escalation of tensions and probability of war — on the Korean peninsula — are due to the duplicitous and sociopathic criminal hegemony and aggression by the United States *government* and its closest allies and their *leaders*.

South Korea – Seoul 10 May 1990: Riot police search shops and restaurants for demonstartors. (Keith Harmon Snow)

South Korea sealed its biggest-ever — until then — arms purchase in September 2015 with a U.S. $7.04 billion deal for 40 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets.  South Korea has also been stocking up on spy satellites and drones — courtesy of US weapons manufacturers like Northrup Grumman.  South Korea also sports a large number of Apache Attack helicopters, and it has more than “capable” air force and navy.

Who benefits from all this war making? Who are the directors of Lockheed Martin? Northrup Grumman? Don’t miss that retired US Air Force General and former director of the profoundly secretive National Reconnaissance Office on Lockheed’s board.  The NRO plans, builds and operates North America’s spy satellites, and they specialize in intelligence-gathering and information warfare — and the NRO coordinates the analysis of aerial surveillance and satellite imagery from several intelligence and military agencies, including the Defense Investigative Agency (DIA) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Oh, and don’t miss that retired US Admiral and Commander of the US Strategic Command, also on Lockheed’s board, who is also a director of the highly dishonest and destructive Institute for Nuclear Power (INPO).

Oh, and don’t miss the Lockheed directors that are also directors of The Cohen Group — founded and run by former U.S. Secretary of War (1997-2001) and bona fide war criminal William S. Cohen.  According to his own The Cohen Group web site: “Under his leadership, the US military conducted the largest air warfare campaign since World War II, in Serbia and Kosovo, and conducted other military operations on every continent” — including the U.S. proxy wars in Congo and Sudan — and “The Cohen Group principals have decades of experience working with The Republic of Korea (ROK) government and military and with ROK industry.”

I bet they do!

Now, let’s talk about North Korea.

Imagine, a country like North Korea, which, in fact, there is no other country like, that does not have the stellar record of committing massive war crimes that the United States, Britain, Canada, Germany, Japan or Israel do, and that had the audacity to develop a missile (capability) of their own…to defend themselves against the world’s leading military aggressor(s), one(s) with long and unpretty records of massacres, tortures, double-dealing and back-stabbing, amounting to a lot more than just massive and gross war crimes, crimes against humanity and mass murder in one country after the next.

Will the real war criminals please stand up?  If you are reading the New York Times, you are contributing to your own mental illness.

South Korea – May 1990: Scores of military vehicles (background) at a military base in the north of South Korea a few miles south of the DMZ that separates the Korean people at the 38th parallel. (Keith Harmon Snow)

P.S. I have also provided some (amateur) photos of the South Korea’s northern zone — where I was able to use my mountain bicycle to gain access to the area just south of the DMZ.  At the time (May 1990) it was highly militarized and I used my camera judiciously, though I always suspected that the ROK patrols that saw me assumed I was US military and gave me a certain carte blanche to bike freely.  The landscape there, it seems to me, was highly “manicured” devoid of almost all wildness. Other than the soldiers and police, the only people I saw were universally lower class farmers — warm, kind and friendly. I imagine that this northern region has been substantially more militarized since 1990, but really I have no idea.

South Korea – May 1990: Camouflaged cement structures ready to deployed as barricades on the roads in northern South Korea, a few miles south of the DMZ that separates the Korean people at the 38th parallel. (Keith Harmon Snow)

Hastening the Downfall of the Neocons

Neocons, whose name fits almost every mainstream politician and commentator, say America is destined to rule the world through violence, intimidation and the belief in its own moral superiority. Unfortunately, despite losing wars, their variant of fascism evades condemnation and trial thus far.

It is saddening to see politicians responsible for maintaining our catastrophic, failed foreign policies in the United States and the United Kingdom continue to evade justice since their illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003. Such neocons, including Tony Blair in Britain, have even been taken back from the sewer and polished by the press for us, almost as if they had not committed war crimes and bathed in the blood of innocent people.

For the press to present Tony Blair’s face to us, let alone allow him to assert his judgments and advise us, after he lied to us all and bloodied his hands with the children of Iraq, is an assault on human intelligence and dignity. For any journalist to present George W. Bush in a fond way because he isn’t Donald Trump is a disgusting attack on the memory of the women he massacred and the welfare of the children he orphaned.

A madness driven by the bizarre US Presidential Election of 2016 has overtaken much of the political left, who are realigning themselves to be primarily anti-Donald Trump and generally favorable towards anyone else. This has driven them into openly siding with Hillary Clinton and even George Soros, proclaiming that the CIA, the billionaire world elite and the reactionary warmongers of 2003 are now heroes of progressivism because of their opposition to Donald Trump.

What the strange theater of the Election has succeeded in doing was to twist minds and fragment the political left, not only in the United States but across the West. Many on the so-called center left are convinced the only thing to do with left wing activism over the next decade is to oppose Donald Trump, and that means they want to even support nationalist, neoliberal and neoconservative authority figures and even deep state thugs who might want to assassinate and overthrow the foolish President.

In truth, what Donald Trump represents is the same for the world as Hillary Clinton, Tony Blair and George W. Bush. Anyone freshly aligned against Donald Trump and the “alt right”, who now looks back in adoration at the murderers Barack Obama and George W. Bush, has been deceived and led on like a donkey. These war criminals are all identical, as far as world human welfare is concerned. They have no goal other than to position the United States as the moral chieftain over humanity, held up by the chauvinists on one side and the cowards terrified of America’s military strength on the other. According to one approach, people in either category must be named and shamed endlessly until their evil views are exposed and met with as much revulsion as Nazism.

The troubling reality, something few American readers are likely to accept here, is that the United States cannot be fixed. The same can be declared about the Western political system in its entirety, meaning all the other supposedly “exceptional” countries bragging at the top of all the lists of free and democratic states.

When modern democratic republics were new, their purity was thwarted by acts of betrayal. We were told the values of the French Revolution, the American Revolution and the transition away from absolute monarchy in Britain had prevailed. In fact, such attempts to form true republics were all corrupted, sabotaged and kept from completion by reactionaries within years of taking place, and only the ideals remained alive in desperate hearts. What was intended in the French Revolution, in taking the ax to the root of power, was kept from completion by the Thermidorian Reaction. In the centuries following such betrayals, we inherited this parody we see, a hollow shape of splendor cut from the vilest corruption, lies and moral sewage. This shape is what people are today mistaking for “democracy”, while it is used as an excuse to wage crusades and massacre other nations when we are told they are inferior.

One might strike back against the arguments made here by accusing me of being too forceful in deciding what is best for Americans without being one of them, but not one shred of any argument here is concerned with the future of the American people. The American people have shown too little regard for anyone else in their short but violent history to be the concern of the rest of the world. The only thing that should matter to us is neutering this destructive regime and ending the unprecedented evil it now embodies. As the only country to have used nuclear weapons, no crime is too great for Americans to commit. No injury to America’s interests could mean anything other than saving civilians from the regime’s endless war of terror.

What happens in the United States is not the concern of Americans foremost, but the concern of others. The US has committed global crimes and invaded the lives of everybody in the world, leaving the entire world with a supreme responsibility to stop the destructive aggressor. The fate of the United States must be decided by non-Americans first and by Americans second, because it has imposed itself so egregiously on the rest of the world. If the rest of humanity were to choose that this destructive regime should be destroyed, no attempt by Americans to appeal against justice can be allowed.

Mass murder will be the hobby of every Western government until there is a punishment for the neocon mentality. Since the neocons are invaders, they should be punished according to whatever laws exist in the land they helped invade. Neocons should be subjected to native justice, because to use our Western laws in punishing those of us who invaded oppressed nations would only be another arrogant policy against the oppressed.

The future contains great peril for the neocons. America’s behavior has proven it will never voluntarily give up its criminal designs, and will have to be physically defeated or rendered much weaker before it can be brought to justice. Until that day arrives, everything that immobilizes the American political system, confounds their deranged politics further, or leaves America vulnerable to foreign threats will be part of the regime’s collapse. For those who doubt this collapse, see the history of prior empires, and be aware that surviving longer only increases the horror and violence to descend on them in the end. It means less suffering to collapse now than later

Palestinian Women: One for All, All for One

Palestinian women have always stood side by side with their fathers, brothers, husbands, comrades to resist the Zionist occupation, to fight for freedom and legitimate rights. They are the first to go to the streets to protest the brutality of the Israeli military occupation, the first to organize sit-ins and marches demanding the release of their children, brothers and fathers from Israeli prisons. They are the protectors, the supporters, but most of all they are the comrades in the fight for a free Palestine.

— Reham Al Helsi

The Pietas of Palestine bear the pain full weight of the vicious Israeli occupation made crueller for its illegality and impunity that is shielded by Western betrayal of international law and morality.

While the world looked the other way during the 70 years since the Nakba, the Catastrophe of Zionist terrorism that established parasitic Israel, no Palestinian woman has been spared grief, terror and trauma because every family has been torn apart by tragedies of a beloved murdered, or incarcerated, or denied desperate medical attention, or a family home demolished, or livelihoods destroyed as unemployment emasculates their men or when life-giving olive trees and orchards are laid waste by bulldozers and the Annexation Wall. Or all of the above.

You, who casually turn your taps and light switches on and off, consider the everyday stress of barely sufficient water for the family that trickles from the Israeli Mekorot company and the systematic electricity blackouts in summer and winter extremes metered out through Israel’s covert system of slow-motion genocide.

Ask yourself, how does a Gazan mother ensure her children’s health when the Israelis deliberately, as means of illegal collective punishment, calculate “the minimum caloric intake necessary for Palestinians to avoid malnutrition so Israel could limit the amount of foodstuffs allowed into Gaza without causing outright starvation.”

In Palestine mothers are sacred. Every one of us has several mothers: the mother that gave birth to us, the olive tree, the land and the mother of all: Palestine. And a Palestinian mother isn’t just a mother to the children she gives birth to, she is mother to all Palestinians.

Reham Alhelsi

Every Palestinian mother knows when her children leave the house there is no guarantee of a safe return. A child throwing a stone against the soldiers, jeeps and tanks of the world’s 4th largest nuclear military may be buried that afternoon with a bullet in his/her back, or left to bleed to death on the street as the occupation forces prevent the ambulance from attending. Or that brave stone may effect 15 years in prison for her teenage child while Israel’s military killers, like Elor Azaria who point blank murdered a wounded Palestinian youth lying unarmed on the road, gets 18 months for ‘manslaughter’! If that. The only assurance for the Palestinian mother is the killer’s promotion will be forthcoming.

Three comrades in the fight for freedom, Hanin Zoabi, Ahed Tamimi, Samah Sabawi hailing from the fractured body of Palestine — 1948 occupied Palestine, the 1967 occupied Palestine — West Bank and Gaza/diaspora respectively – represent the sumoud (steadfast resilience), the courage, the integrity defining the spirit of Palestinian women.

Hanin Zoabi

Hanin Zoabi was born in Nazareth and in 2009 became the first Palestinian woman to become, via the Arab Balad party, a member of the Knesset; the Israeli government.

As Israel has severe anaphylaxic reactions to Truth, Hanin’s blunt truthfulness, calling an Uzi an Uzi, challenges the media monopoly on Israel propaganda hence drawing hellfire from the zionists.

She has compared Zionist Occupation Forces to ISIS-  a fair comparison given both aim to set up exclusive political entities through violence: a Jewish State from the river to the sea, and a wide sweeping Islamic Caliphate. She was slammed and urged to apologise for calling Israeli commandoes ‘murderers’ for killing 9 unarmed Turkish humanitarian workers on the Gaza flotilla vessel, Mavi Marmara, on which she was a passenger.

Au contraire, she demanded in parliament, “Those who murdered need to apologize, you need to apologize.”. Shrugging off the Holocaust taboo, she stated “During Kristallnacht thousands of Jewish businesses and synagogues were burned, while the Germans remained silent. Today, as the homes of Palestinians are burned, as churches and people are burned alive- the majority in Israel remains silent.”

For her feisty principled outspokenness on Israel’s violent transgressions against Palestinians and democratic delinquency….

“Rather than seeing democracy as equality and human rights, now the only meaning of democracy in Israel is the rule of the – Jewish – majority.”

…. Hanin has been bullied and reviled by Israeli parliamentarians, denigrated  as ‘terrorist’, ‘neofascist,’ “Haneen Zoabi is not a circus, she isn’t even worthy of being used as lion food.” (Avi Dichter) and repeatedly threatened with the revocation of her citizenship, suspension and expulsion from the Knesset.

Undaunted, the formidable Hanin unswervingly demands a one state with equality for all its citizens and in the meantime she fights for equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel, challenges Zionism and its recent law that legalised theft of Palestinian land through settlement expansion, and serves the rights of women.

Ahed Tamimi

Ahed, 15, was born with the Tamimi DNA of resistance and was suckled on Israeli tear gas and Palestinian sumoud in the weekly protests of her village, Nabi Saleh.

Nabi Saleh has 500 residents whose daily view across the valley is an army base alongside  the Jewish settlement, Halamish, built on their stolen land. They began weekly protests in 2009 organised by Ahed’s parents Bassem and Nariman, when the settler militia took over their village spring. Bassem, a grassroots nonviolent advocate has been described by the EU as a human rights defender. He has been arrested, tortured and incarcerated at least 4 times, once for 3 years. More than 13% of Nabi Saleh protestors have been in Israeli detention.

The first time I saw Ahed was on You-tube. Then all of 11, she was doggedly confronting with her little fist Israeli soldiers armed to the hilt, demanding the release of her brother. Like Justin King, her courage had a profound impact on me,

It wasn’t just the defiance in her eyes. It was the fact that it wasn’t new to her. She had obviously seen more carnage and violence than most. She was a veteran. The world is becoming more and more accustomed to female warriors, so why did this veteran’s battle have the impact it did? She was 13 years old. I say “woman” because she isn’t a “child” and she isn’t a “girl”. Not anymore. She’s a hardened veteran. We bought her childhood at the price tag of $10 million dollars per day in military aid to Israel.

Justin King

The next time I saw this teenage warrior, she was fiercely locked, along with her  mother, aunt and cousin, onto an armed army thug that was attempting to arrest her 12 year old brother. The soldier was no match for these Tamimi lionesses and Mohamed was released. The big bad Israelis are so afraid of young Ahed, that pressure erupted to deny the 15 year old a visa to enter the USA  for a speaking tour. While David and Goliath are myths, Ahed versus the Goliath Zionist army is reality.

One day, Ahed may succeed Hanin Zoabi as President of Palestine: both have more integrity and courage in one eyelash than all the traitors in the Palestinian Authority.

Samah Sabawi

Samah Sabawi is a Palestinian-Australian-Canadian poet, playwright, editor, PhD student, powerful orator, political commentator and spokesperson for Palestinian freedom. She was born in Gaza to Suhailah and Abdul Kareem Sabawi, a distinguished poet, author and non-violence revolutionary. The Sabawi family’s forced wrench from Gaza is characteristic of Palestinian exiles in the diaspora and Samah’s passion for justice and love for her homeland is the gravitational pull of her activism and art:

I stand dispossessed of everything but my words
They are words of truth
Of fire and steel
I use them deliberately
Not to incite hatred
Not to frighten
But to lighten up this darkness
That tore me into 11 million pieces
And scattered me across the earth
Words tell my story
Nakba
Naksa
Forced exile
Ethnic cleansing
Apartheid
Words
Carefully chosen
Purposely uttered
These are the words that lay the foundation
Of the language of my liberation

Samah is a sought after spokesperson whose sharp intellect lit with poetic flair and reconciliatory grace makes her a powerful ambassador for Palestine in the diaspora. Yet, like Hanin, Samah too has been a target of controversy; the tentacles of the zionist lobby have no boundaries in the west. In 2014, Samah was dropped  from a panel debating the two-state solution at the Wheeler Centre Melbourne because of her support for BDS. When she was reinstated, Jewish panellists Geoff Bloch, Dvir Abramovich and the Head of the General Delegation of Palestine to Australia, Izzat Salah Abdulhadi withdrew from the event. In 2016, Abramovich reared his Zionist head to strike with the faux accusatory venom of anti-semitism at Samah’s play, Tales of a City by the Sea, a love story set in Gaza, which was included in the  Victorian school curriculum and has since gone on to win literary awards.

On this 2017 International Women’s Day, I close with Samah’s poem, published in I remember my name,

Imra’a
(For my sisters in the Arab World and beyond)
Feb 17, 2013

I
am
woman
Imra’a
Whole
Not a fragment of your shadow
Not a rib torn out of your torso
Not a mail order
Not a house slave
Not a fairy-tale princess
Not a damsel in distress
Not a genie in a bottle
Not a devil
Nor a saint
Not scattered
not arranged
Not lacking in brain or piety
Not a fountain of propriety
I am eternity
Lived in an instant
I am constant randomness
I am chaos in stability
In songs you ache for me
I am your refuge and your refugee
Your barren desert and your fertile field
Your homeland…your ‘watan’
My womb yields the fruit of life
I am your Mother
Daughter
Sister
Wife
A prince of poetry wrote of me
“Alommo madrasaton…”
A mother is a school if well prepared
You prepare a well-mannered nation
For a thousand and one Arabian nights
I am inspiration
In the Holy Scriptures
I am temptation
I am your Eve in the Garden of Eden
My qualities revealed in the holy Quran
‘inna kaydahonna azeem’
I am your dream
our ‘hoor alayn’
Your seduction
Your redemption
Your struggle
Your salvation
I am strength and weakness
Rolled into one
I am your lived reality
And all that you refuse to see
I am what you cannot define
Cannot confine
To a fantasy
am human
Of flesh and blood
My faults monumental
My virtues unquantifiable
I am neither a reflection of you nor on you
Your ticket to paradise does not begin with my virtue
Your peace of mind does not begin with my conformity
Your redemption does not begin with my submission
Your honor is not defined by my chastity
Your fantasies are your own
Your vice is yours alone
For I carry my own
Burden alone
I am woman
Imra’a
Whole

Only the Israeli Dead Matter

At a glance, Israel appears a true democracy. Take a closer look, and that facade of democracy will soon dissipate, turning into something else entirely.

Tuesday, February 28 was one of those moments. The chain of events was as follows:

An official Israeli State Comptroller issued another report on the Israeli government’s handling of the July 2014 war on Gaza; it chastised Israeli Prime Minister, Banjamin Netanyahu, and then-Defense Minister, Moshe Ya’alon –  among others – for the lack of preparedness and for their mishandling of the subsequent 50-day conflict; Netanyahu reacted angrily; Ya’alon took to Facebook to defend his record; the opposition in the Israeli Knesset (parliament) went on the offensive; politicians lined up, taking sides; a media frenzy followed; the country was in an uproar.

This is not a precedent. It is a repeat of a recurring scenario that often follows Israel’s military plunders.

When such reports are issued, Israelis sort out their differences in fierce parliamentary and media battles.

While Israelis begin to examine their failures, demanding accountability from their government, western mainstream media finds the perfect opportunity to whitewash its own record of failing to criticize Israel’s military onslaught at the time.

(Over 2,200 – of whom over 70 percent were Palestinian civilians – were killed and thousands more wounded in Israel’s so-called ‘Operation Protective Edge’ in 2014.)

According to US media logic, for example, Israel’s investigation of its own action is a tribute to its thriving democracy, often juxtaposed with Arab governments’ lack of self-examination.

When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, instigating a war that resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians, culminating in the Sabra and Shatilla Massacres, a familiar scenario ensued: The United States did its utmost to prevent any international intervention or meaningful investigation, while Israel was allowed to investigate itself.

The outcome was the Kahan Commission Report, the conclusion of which was summarized by international law expert, Professor Richard Falk, as such: “The full measure of Israel’s victory is rather its vindication, despite all, as a moral force in the region—as a superior state, especially as compared to its Arab rivals.”

The US media touted Israel’s ‘moral victory’, which, somehow, made everything okay, and with a magic wand, wiped the record clean.

The Washington Post editorial led the congratulatory chorus: “The whole process of the Israeli reaction to the Beirut massacre is a tribute to the vitality of democracy in Israel and to the country’s moral character.”

This sorry state of affairs has been in constant replay for nearly 70 years, ever since Israel declared its independence in 1948.

International law is clear regarding the legal responsibility of Occupying Powers but since Israel is rarely an enthusiast of international law, Israel has forbidden any attempt at being investigated for its actions.

In fact, Israel abhors the very idea of being ‘investigated’. Every attempt by the United Nations, or any other organization dedicated to upholding international law, has either been rejected or failed.

By Israeli logic, Israel is a democracy and democratic countries cannot be investigated over their army’s involvement in the death of civilians.

This was, in fact, the gist of the statement produced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin’s Netanyahu’s office in June 2010, soon after Israeli army commandos intercepted a humanitarian aid flotilla on its way to Gaza and killed ten unarmed activists in international waters.

Israel is an Occupying Power under international law and is held accountable to the Fourth Geneva Convention. The international community is legally obliged to examine Israel’s conduct against Palestinian civilians and, needless to say, against unarmed civilians in international waters.

Israel’s record of investigating itself, aside from being spun to praise Israel’s moral superiority, has never been of any help for Palestinians.

In fact, the entire Israeli justice system is systematically unjust to occupied Palestinians.

The Israeli rights group Yesh Din reported that out “of the 186 criminal investigations opened by the Israeli army into suspected offenses against Palestinians in 2015, just four yielded indictments.” Such indictments rarely yield prison sentences.

The recent indictment of Israeli army medic, Elor Azarya, sentencing him to (now postponed) a term of 18 months in prison for the killing in cold blood of an alleged Palestinian attacker is an exception, not the norm. It has been years since an Israeli soldier was sentenced. In fact, several thousand Palestinian civilians have been killed between the last time a ‘manslaughter’ conviction of an Israeli soldier in 2005 and Azarya’s indictment.

Azarya, now perceived by many Israelis as a hero, has received such a light punishment that it is less than that of a Palestinian child throwing rocks at an Israeli occupation soldier.

Some United Nations officials, although powerless before the US backing of Israel, are furious.

The 18-month verdict “also stands in contrast to the sentences handed down by other Israeli courts for  other less serious offenses, notably the sentencing of Palestinian children to more than three years’ imprisonment for throwing stones at cars,” UN human rights spokeswoman, Ravina Shamdasani, said in response to the Israeli court decision.

While pro-Israel social media activists and media pundits went on to praise the supposedly unmatched Israeli democracy, a campaign in Israel to pardon Azarya continues to garner momentum. Prime Minister Netanyahu is already on board.

Not only is the Israeli justice system unjust to Palestinians, it was never intended to be so. A careful reading of the recent comptroller’s remarks and findings would clarify that the intent was never to examine war against a besieged nation as a moral concept, but the government’s inability to win the war more effectively: the breakdown of intelligence; Netanyahu’s lack of political inclusiveness; the death of an unprecedented number of Israeli soldiers.

Israel’s appetite for war is, in fact, at an all-time high. Some commentators are arguing that Israel might launch yet another war so as to redeem its ‘mistakes’ in the previous one, as stated in the report.

But war itself is a staple for Israel. Hard-hitting Israeli journalist Gideon Levy’s reaction to the comptroller’s report says it best. He argued that the report is almost a plagiarized copy of the ‘Winograd Commission Report’ which followed the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

All wars since 1948 “could have been avoided”, Levy wrote in Haaretz, but they were not, frankly, because “Israel loves wars. Needs them. Does nothing to prevent them and, sometimes, instigates them.”

This is the only way to read the latest report, but also all such reports, when war is used as a tool of control, to ‘downgrade’ the defenses of a besieged enemy, to create distraction from political corruption, to help politicians win popular support, to play, time and again, the role of the embattled victim, and many other pretenses.

As for Palestinians, who are neither capable of instigated or sustaining a war, they can only put up a fight, real or symbolic, whenever Israel decides to go for yet another bloody, avoidable war.

No matter the outcome, Israel will boast of its military superiority, unmatched intelligence, transparent democracy and moral ascendancy; the US, Britain, France and other Europeans will enthusiastically agree, issuing Israel another blank check to ‘defend itself’ by any means.

Meanwhile, any attempt at investigating Israeli conduct will be thwarted, for Israel is a ‘democracy’ and, for some reason, self-proclaimed democracies cannot be investigated. Only their sham investigations matter; only their dead count.

The United States and the Russian Devil: 1917-2017

Conservatives have had a very hard time getting over President Trump’s much-repeated response to Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly’s calling Russian president Vladimir Putin “a killer”. Replied Trump: “There are a lot of killers. We have a lot of killers. You think our country is so innocent?”

One could almost feel a bit sorry for O’Reilly as he struggled to regain his composure in the face of such blasphemy. Had any American establishment media star ever heard such a thought coming from the mouth of an American president? From someone on the radical left, yes, but from the president?

Senator John McCain on the floor of Congress, referring to Putin, tore into attempts to draw “moral equivalency between that butcher and thug and KGB colonel and the United States of America.”1

Ah yes, the infamous KGB. Can anything good be said about a person associated with such an organization? We wouldn’t like it if a US president had a background with anything like that. Oh, wait, a president of the United States was not merely a CIA “colonel”, but was the Director of the CIA! I, of course, speak of George Herbert Walker Bush. And as far as butchery and thuggery … How many Americans remember the December 1989 bombing and invasion of the people of Panama carried out by the same Mr. Bush? Many thousands killed or wounded; thousands more left homeless.

Try and match that, Vladimir!

And in case you’re wondering for what good reason all this was perpetrated? Officially, to arrest dictator Manuel Noriega on drug charges. How is that for a rationalization for widespread devastation and slaughter? It should surprise no one that only shortly before the invasion Noriega had been on the CIA payroll.2

It’s the “moral equivalency” that’s so tough to swallow for proud Americans like O’Reilly and McCain. Republican Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell also chipped in with: “And no, I don’t think there’s any equivalency between the way the Russians conduct themselves and the way the United States does.”3 Other Senators echoed the same theme, all inspired by good ol’ “American exceptionalism”, drilled into the mind of every decent American from childhood on … Who would dare to compare the morals of (ugh!) Russia with those of God’s chosen land, even in Moscow’s current non-communist form?

The communist form began, of course, with the October 1917 Russian Revolution. By the summer of 1918 some 13,000 American troops could be found in the newly-born state, the future Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Two years and thousands of casualties later, the American troops left, having failed in their mission to “strangle at its birth” the Bolshevik state, as Winston Churchill so charmingly put it.4

US foreign policy has not been much more noble-minded since then. I think, dear students, it’s time for me to once again present my concise historical summary:

Since the end of World War 2, the United States has:

  • Attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically-elected.
  • Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries.
  • Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.
  • Attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries.
  • Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries.5
  • Though not as easy to quantify, has also led the world in torture; not only the torture performed directly by Americans upon foreigners, but providing torture equipment, torture manuals, lists of people to be tortured, and in-person guidance by American instructors.6

Where does the United States get the nerve to moralize about Russia? Same place they get the nerve to label Putin a “killer” … a “butcher” … a “thug”. It would be difficult to name a world-renowned killer, butcher, or thug – not to mention dictator, mass murderer, or torturer – of the past 75 years who was not a close ally of Washington.

So why then does the American power elite hate Putin so? It can be dated back to the period of Boris Yeltsin.

During the Western financial looting of the dying Soviet Union the US could be found meddling in favor of Yeltsin in the election held in 1996. Under Yeltsin’s reign, poverty exploded and life expectancy for men actually decreased by five years, all in the name of “shock therapy.” The US/Western-backed destabilization of the Soviet Union allowed global capitalism to spread its misery unfettered by any inconvenient socialism. Russia came under the control of oligarchs concerned only for their own enrichment and that of their billionaire partners in the West. The transition of power to Vladimir Putin in the 21st century led to a number of reforms that curbed the disastrous looting of the nation by the oligarchic bandits. Putin and his allies vowed to build an independent, capitalist Russia that was capable of determining its own affairs free from US and Western domination. Such an orientation placed Putin in direct confrontation with US imperialism’s plans for unipolar global hegemony.

Washington’s disdain for Putin increased when he derided US war propaganda leading up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Then, the Russian leader played a crucial role in getting Iran to curtail its nuclear program and arranging for Syria to surrender its stockpiles of chemical weapons. Washington’s powerful neo-conservatives had been lusting for direct US military strikes against those two countries, leading to regime change, not diplomatic agreements that left the governments in place.

Lastly, after the United States overthrew the Ukrainian government in 2014, Putin was obliged to intervene on behalf of threatened ethnic Russians in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. That, in turn, was transformed by the Western media into a “Russian invasion”.7

The same Western media has routinely charged Putin with murdering journalists but doesn’t remind its audience of the American record in this regard. The American military, in the course of its wars in recent decades, has been responsible for the deliberate deaths of many journalists. In Iraq, for example, there’s the Wikileaks 2007 video, exposed by Chelsea Manning, of the cold-blooded murder of two Reuters journalists; the 2003 US air-to-surface missile attack on the offices of Al Jazeera in Baghdad that left three journalists dead and four wounded; and the American firing on Baghdad’s Hotel Palestine, a known journalist residence, the same year that killed two foreign news cameramen.

The Trump honeymoon is over for me. It was never actually love; hardly more than an intriguing curiosity; mainly that he wasn’t Hillary Clinton; that he was unlikely to start a war with Russia or close down the Russia Today (RT) TV station in the US, which I and many others depend on daily; and that he was not politically correct when it came to fighting the Islamic State. Trump’s “moral equivalency” remark above gave me some hope. But this all vanished with his appointment to high office of one war-loving, bemedalled general after another, intermingled with one billionaire Goldman-Sachs official after another; his apparent confirmation of his Mexican Wall; and, worst of all, his increasing the military budget by $54 billion (sic, sick) … this will certainly be at the expense of human life and health and the environment. What manner of man is this who walks amongst us?

The word is “narcissism”. New York Times columnist Frank Bruni (February 28, 2017) captures this well: “Why do I get the sense that fighter jets are Donald Trump’s biceps, warships are his pectorals and what he’s doing with his proposed $54 billion increase for the Pentagon is flexing?”

Will there ever be an end to the never-ending American wars?

How should we react to terrorism?

I hadn’t planned on returning to this subject so soon, if ever, because of the distasteful experience of last summer when at least 50 of my subscribers canceled because I said that terrorism carried out by Islamics was to some extent motivated by their religion, an hypothesis rejected by what I see as the “politically correct” who took it to be an unjust attack upon an ancient and noble religion. The fact that I, a leftist, a comrade, would say such a thing was especially hard for them to take.

Since then I have regularly received emails pointing out that neither I nor the media have the right to categorically condemn brutal terrorist actions because the terrorists are reacting to decades of Western, particularly American, violence against the Muslims of the Middle East and elsewhere; and that if only the West would stop their bombing they would stop creating new terrorists. Liberal columnists often echo these sentiments, but at the same time cannot accept the role played by radical Islamic beliefs in instigating the Islamic terror.

Not every American soldier in World War II was a knowledgable and convinced anti-fascist; nor were all of those fighting in Vietnam knowledgable and convinced anti-communists; but they deeply believed in American exceptionalism. I proceed from the assumption that Islamic terrorists deeply believe in the leading tenets of Islam though many of them may have been drawn to ISIS for a variety of reasons and may have only a passing knowledge of the Koran and may only rarely enter a mosque.

Why is it that terrorists routinely shout “Allah Akhbar” (“God is great”) while carrying out a bloody attack?

Why is it that so much of Islam teaches that non-Muslims are the enemy, that “disbelievers” are to be executed?

Why do they speak of their duty to perform “jihad”, which is usually defined as a struggle against the enemies of Islam or against the “infidels”?

Why do they speak of “martyrs”, which is often used as an honorific for Muslims who have died fulfilling a religious commandment, especially those who die waging jihad, or historically in the military expansion of Islam?

Why do they speak of martyrs going to paradise after dying and receiving heavenly rewards? Even being resurrected on earth, to once again die as a martyr, going again to paradise.

Yes, yes, I know about the terrible crimes of the IRA Catholics and the Israeli Jews, but on the scale of human moral evolution they don’t compare to the routine cutting off of heads; the whippings; demolishing 2000-year-old monuments; sternly banning alcohol, music, gays and sex; covering up women’s faces; forcibly imposing religious law; and on and on, including the worst of all: the never-ending horrific suicide bombings. ISIS has done the impossible: It has made American foreign policy look almost halfway decent.

Occasionally I reply to critics with something to this effect: Even if I completely accepted your premises, I’d still feel that it was too late. We can’t undo the harm that US foreign policy and the West have caused. The barn door is wide open and all the horses have escaped. There is an entire generation, or two generations, in the Muslim world totally committed to gaining bloody revenge against the West. It appears to be that it’s either us or them.

Explaining the cause of terrorism is not the same as excusing it.

It might be different if the terrorists focused on killing only those in the West responsible for the horror carried out against their people, but their acts of violence are largely indiscriminate; they attack Westerners at random, often with Muslim victims included; often with only Muslim victims.

As I’ve pointed out in the past, we should consider this: From the 1950s to the 1980s the United States carried out all kinds of very harmful policies against Latin America, including numerous bombings, without the natives ever resorting to the uncivilized, barbaric kind of retaliation as employed by ISIS. Latin American leftists generally took their revenge out upon concrete representatives of the American empire: diplomatic, military and corporate targets – not markets, theatres, nightclubs, hospitals, schools, restaurants or churches.

France, the site of numerous terrorist attacks, has experimented with deradicalization centers in an attempt to combat homegrown extremism. The centers subjected those they housed to intense courses in French history and philosophy. But after five months the experiment has been abandoned as a complete failure.8 My guess is that one reason for the failure is that French officials, like their American counterparts, were too politically correct when it came to questions of religion. If I were a teacher at one of these centers I would ask the students how they know – I mean really know – that “martyrs” go to paradise. They are, after all, considering sacrificing their lives for this belief. Seriously confronting this question for perhaps the first time ever, the students’ minds may well become somewhat confused, leaving them open for other challenging questions and thoughts.

For the record: I don’t support the US fighting ISIS in Syria. I don’t trust the Pentagon’s motivation, or their choice of bombing targets. They’re probably still into regime change. I’d leave the job to Russia and its allies.

  1. Washington Post, February 9, 2017
  2. See William Blum, Killing Hope, chapter 50 for the details of the Panama intervention.
  3. Associated Press, February 6, 2017.
  4. Winston Churchill, The Second World War, Vol. IV(1951), page 428.
  5. William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, chapter 18.
  6. Ibid, chapter 5 (ends in 2005; much more is now known.).
  7. See Bob Parry, “The Politics Behind ‘Russia-gate”, Consortiumnews.com, March 4, 2017.
  8. Washington Post, February 25, 2017.