Category Archives: International Criminal Court

US Alliance-imposed Afghan Holocaust

The serial war criminality and immense cruelty of the US Alliance has been enabled by the extraordinary mendacity, genocidal racism and  resolute exceptionalism of US Alliance governments and Western Mainstream media (MSM). Summarized  below are the horrendous realities of the US Alliance-imposed Afghan Holocaust and Afghan Genocide that are ignored by deeply racist, genocide-complicit and genocide-ignoring Western leaders and MSM.

(1). Massive US lying enabled the 9/11 false flag excuse for the invasion  and devastation of Afghanistan, Iraq and other Muslim countries. I.F. Stone: “Governments lie” and Gore Vidal: “Unlike most Americans who lie all the time, I hate lying”. Numerous science, engineering, architecture, aviation, military and intelligence experts conclude that the US Government was responsible for the 9-11 atrocity (3,000 people killed) with some asserting Israeli and Saudi involvement, but US-beholden Western Mainstream media are united in  blind belief in the “official version” of  mendacious George W. Bush whose administration told 935 lies about Iraq between 9/11 and the invasion of Iraq. Detailed scientific reports from the University of Copenhagen and the University of Alaska Fairbanks reject the lying Bush “official version of 9/11” and evidence the explosive demolition of the 3 WTC skyscrapers on 9/11 (that necessarily implies US Government  involvement in that atrocity). Asserted “terrorism” is to the Zionist-subverted US Alliance state terrorists as asserted “antisemitism” is to the genocidally racist, Islamophobic,  anti-Arab anti-semitic, anti-Jewish anti-semitic, holocaust-complicit and holocaust-ignoring  Zionists and Apartheid Israel. Re state terrorism, the British have invaded 193 countries, Australia 85, France 82, the US 72 (52 after WW2), Germany 39 and Canada 25, as compared to Japan 30, Russia 25, Apartheid Israel 12, China 2, Afghanistan zero since 1760,  Iran zero since the 7th century CE, and India and nearly all of the Developing World zero (0).

(2). The Afghan Holocaust and Afghan Genocide has been associated with 3.6 million under-5 infant deaths, 5.2 million  avoidable deaths from deprivation ,  an estimated 1.6 million violent deaths, and 6.8 million deaths from violence and deprivation  in US-, Australia- and NATO-occupied Afghanistan in 2001-2021. US-backed removal of a secular Afghan government in 1978 precipitated the USSR invasion and war involving US-backed Islamists (avoidable deaths from deprivation 2.9 million, 1979-1989) followed by civil war won by the Taliban  (avoidable deaths from deprivation 3.3 million, 1989-1999).  The variously US-implicated and US-imposed 1979-2021 Afghan Holocaust has been associated with 13.0 million untimely Afghan deaths.

(3). Global Opiate Holocaust. The  US rapidly restored the Taliban-destroyed Afghan  opium industry from 6% of world market share in 2001 back to 90%  by 2007,  and caused 5.8 million opiate-related deaths world-wide since 9/11. The US Government has been successively involved in the opiate scourge in Turkey, South East Asia, Afghanistan and Latin America. US-threatened and US-sanctioned Iran leads the world in interdiction of  US-protected Afghan opiates that presently kill about 0.3 million people annually. For religious reasons  the Taliban banned alcohol, prohibited smoking for government  employees, and banned opium production. Each year smoking, alcohol and illicit drugs kill about 8 million, 2.8 million and 0.8 million people each year  for  total of about 11.8 million people worldwide. In contrast, 7.4 million people presently die annually from deprivation on Spaceship Earth with the First World, notably the US, in charge of the flight deck.

(4). The US-imposed Iranian Holocaust has been associated  with 4 million Iranian deaths in the 4-decade US-imposed Iranian Holocaust, comprising 1 million Iranian deaths in the 1980-1988 US-backed Iran-Iraq War, and 3 million avoidable deaths from US sanctions from 1979 onwards. Iran suffered huge famines associated with British and Russian occupation in WW1  (up to 8-10 million dying in the  1917-1919 famine) and  in WW2 (up to 3-4 million dying in the 1942-1943 famine). Following US withdrawal from devastated Afghanistan, a nervous  world asks: which impoverished country  is next? Iran heads the list followed by Venezuela and Cuba (all subject already to unsuccessful armed US invasions). Iran has zero (0) nuclear weapons as compared to the US (5,800-6,185), Russia (6,372-6,490), China (300-320), France (290), UK (200-215), Pakistan (160), India (150), Apartheid Israel (90), and North Korea (30-40).

(5). The post-9/11 Muslim Holocaust and American Holocaust. The 2001-2021 Afghan Genocide and Afghan Holocaust (6.8 million deaths from violence and imposed deprivation) is part of a US-imposed, post-9/11 Muslim Holocaust and Muslim Genocide (32 million Muslim deaths from violence, 5 million, and imposed deprivation, 27 million, in 20 countries invaded by the US Alliance since the US Government’s 9/11 false flag atrocity that killed 3,000 people). 1.7 million Americans die preventably each year from “lifestyle choice reasons” and from “political choice reasons”. Thus 1.7 million per year x 20 years = 34 million Americans have died thus since 9/11. Since 9/11 Zionist-beholden US Administrations have spent $6 trillion on killing over 30 million Muslims abroad rather than trying to keep over 30 million Americans alive at home. 30% of Biden’s Cabinet are Jewish Zionists and the remainder are “moderate” Christian Zionists as opposed to the fervently Trumpist  Evangelical Zionists.

(6). There have been 7,000 post-9/11 US combat deaths versus 146,000  US veteran deaths from suicide. About 7,018 American soldiers died in the post-9/11 US War on Terror in Occupied Iraq (4,566) and Occupied Afghanistan (3,452), but vastly more US veterans have died from suicide. The US Veterans Administration has found that an average of about 20 US veterans have suicided daily in the past few decades, and thus post-9/11 US veteran suicides have totalled (20 suicides per day) x (365.25 days per year) x 20 years = 146,100.

(7). China observes but the US Alliance grossly violates the  Fourth Geneva Convention and the UN Genocide Convention. Killing in war occurs not just through violence (active killing) but also through avoidable deaths from imposed deprivation (passive killing). Mass mortality in a Subject population occurs in gross Occupier violation of Articles 55 and 56 of the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (the Fourth Geneva Convention) that unequivocally demands that the Occupier must supply its conquered Subjects with life-sustaining food and medical requisites “to the fullest extent of the means available to it”. Infant mortality (under-1 infant deaths per 1,000 live births) is 12 (China), 16 ([Chinese province] Tibet), 6 (USA) and 111 (US Alliance-occupied Afghanistan). The Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) (maternal deaths per 100,000 live births) is 20-27 (China), 100 ([Chinese province] Tibet), 14 (USA) and 400-1,200 (US Alliance-occupied Afghanistan). Contrary to US Alliance claims of  a “Uighur Genocide,” in Xinjiang (50% Uighur and 50% Han Chinese) the maternal mortality rate was 27 per 100,000 in 2018, the infant mortality rate was 14 under-1 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, the average life expectancy was 74.8 years in 2015, and there has been no mass sterilization in the region. That said, China is legitimately criticized for harsh treatment of Uighurs (mass imprisonment of 1 million for re-education) [Harsh treatment? Evidence? Is deradicalization against Uyghur terrorists not legitimate? — DV Ed], dissidents and Hong Kong democracy protestors. Genocide is defined by Article 2 of the UN Genocide Convention as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.” In relation to “the fullest extent of the means available to it” the GDP (nominal) per capita (US dollars, 2021) is as follows (in brackets) for Afghanistan ($592), China ($11,819), US ($68,309), UK ($46,344), Germany ($51,860), France ($44,995) and serial war criminal US lackey Australia ($62,723).

(8). Nazi and US Alliance  Occupied/Occupier death ratios of 10 and 1,970, respectively. In 1944 the Nazi Germany dictator Adolph Hitler ordered reprisals involving 10 Italian men and boys executed for every German soldier killed by Partisans (effected in the subsequent Ardeatine Caves Massacre). The Occupied/Occupier death ratio for the 2001-2021 Afghan War is accordingly 6,800,000/ 3,452 = 1,970 or about 200 times greater than the 10 advocated by Nazi mass murderer Adolph. Hitler. Ignoring violent Afghan deaths,  the Occupied/Occupier death ratio for the 2001-2021 Afghan War is 5,200,000/3,452 = 1,506 or about 1,500 and thus 150 times greater than the 10 advocated by Hitler. The post-9/11 Muslim Holocaust deaths/ 9/11 death toll = 32 million/3,000 = 10,667, 1,067 times greater than  the Them/Us reprisals ratio of 10 ordered by Hitler.

(9). Vital post-war aid provision for tens of millions of Afghans versus extraction of tens of thousands of  US Alliance personnel, collaborators and other anti-Taliban people fearing reprisals. Occupied Afghanistan was heavily dependent on international aid and Biden has threatened  to hamper such aid and hence post-liberation recovery if the new regime  doesn’t play ball. Biden has already frozen the assets of impoverished Afghanistan, a move that will entrench Afghan mass mortality from dire deprivation. The Taliban  have declared Amnesty for its opponents and proper treatment of  women “under Islamic law” but many remain fearful based on harsh Taliban rule 20 years ago. For Occupied Afghanistan in 2020, under-5 infant deaths totalled 76,000 and avoidable deaths from deprivation totalled 106,000. In 2020 the “under-5 infant mortality as a percentage of total population” for Afghanistan (0.1950%) was a shocking 118.5 times greater than for Japan (0.00145%), evidence of gross violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention by the occupying US Alliance countries. To this carnage we must add the infant mortality and avoidable deaths from deprivation among  the circa 3.3 million internally displaced Afghans and the 2.5 million registered refugees in Iran and Pakistan from Afghanistan (present population 39 million, half requiring aid). Those rightly supporting all human rights for all as set out in the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) should also spare a thought for the  undoubted right of millions of ordinary Afghan women to see the survival of their children.

(10). Exposure of the perpetrators of the Afghan Holocaust and Afghan Genocide. This is an immense crime that demands war crimes trials of the  perpetrators before the International Criminal Court (ICC). That is not going to happen because the US does not recognize the authority of the ICC whereas the ICC cravenly accepts the authority of the US. However international and intra-national war crimes trials by  eminent humanitarians are feasible and urgently required. Establishment of the truth is more important than punishment of the guilty (the more so since the latter is unlikely to ever happen). Inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in post-Apartheid South Africa, war crimes trials should be legislatively constituted on the basis that there should be no punishment for truth telling accompanied by sincere apology (see Gideon Polya , “Afghan Holocaust – The Awful Truth Versus US Alliance Lies,” Countercurrents, 22 August 2021).

The post US Alliance-imposed Afghan Holocaust first appeared on Dissident Voice.

W’s Chickens Coming Home to Roost, yet the Media Cocks Aren’t Crowing

Censorship comes in many forms. One of [them] is a colossal moral indifference to official crimes at the highest levels of our government.

— Ralph Nader, April 17, 2021, Ralph Nader Radio Hour

Disclaimer: This is not a traditional mainstream or even left-stream book review. However, Steven C. Markoff’s book does play as the impetus and linchpin to my essay, more of an analysis/reaction to his book.  I give The Case Against George W. Bush, high marks. Read Steve’s book. Press your respective legislators to push for an investigation of W.’s crimes. Markoff sets out in the book about how those crimes were committed. I reference those. He completes his case: The evidence is there to prosecute and find guilty the 43rd President of the USA, George W. Bush.

Nader’s Raiders of the Lost Warriors

I was hitting the old Ralph Nader podcast a week ago when I stumbled upon Steven C. Markoff’s book, The Case Against George W. Bush. Nader had Markoff on his podcast, and both talked about the crimes of W Bush, and even more pertinently, the lack of a criminal case against George W. Bush, as well as the crickets in the so-called liberal media (SCLM) as well in the left press concerning Steve’s book.

I quickly emailed Steve for a copy of his book to review, and he came back at me with a PDF of this book which, as I have stated, has been iced out of mainstream media: no interviews, no reviews let alone getting Steve into a room one-on-one, or onto a Zoom call with other guests to parse his well-researched, well-quoted book on the crimes of George W. Bush.

The Case Against George W. Bush by Steven C. Markoff, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble®

Of course, those crimes are more than crimes of omission, or crimes of secret rendition and torture sites, or the crimes of Abu Ghraib “prison” and Guantanamo. The crime was more than just all the lies about WMD’s and Saddam murdering babies. The big crime was Bush and his Regime of psychotic sociopaths of the neocon variety completely derailing valid, active and clear intelligence that Osama bin Laden was about to make a huge fiery asymmetrical splash on the world stage.

Markoff lays out the daily briefs, the back and forth communiqués, the speeches Bush and others on his team made which all provides evidence of what “we” know about Osama bin Laden. The entire gambit goes back to the Soviet Union’s role in Afghanistan, then with Carter, Reagan, Bush Senior, Clinton and leading up to the ex-governor of Texas, W Bush.

Carter Doctrine 25 years before 9/11

Unfortunately, Jimmy Carter’s man  got the Soviet Union and then USA, all tangled up in Afghanistan.

The best way for us to understand Afghanistan is to look at the record of American involvement going back four decades and to look at the record requires a reexamination of President Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski. From the start, U.S. policy formation surrounding Afghanistan has lived in a realm of magical thinking that has produced nothing but a catastrophe of nightmarish proportions. Brzezinski impacted the future of American foreign policy by monopolizing the Carter administration in ways that few outside the White House understand. In his role as national security advisor he put himself in a position to control information into and out of the White House and when it came to Afghanistan – to use it for whatever purposes he saw fit.

“Brzezinski was an obsessive Russia-hater to the end. That led to the monumental failures of Carter’s term in office; the hatreds Brzezinski released had an impact which continues to be catastrophic for the rest of the world.” Helmer wrote in 2017, “To Brzezinski goes the credit for starting most of the ills – the organization, financing, and armament of the mujahedeen the Islamic fundamentalists who have metastasized – with US money and arms still – into Islamic terrorist armies operating far from Afghanistan and Pakistan, where Brzezinski started them off.”

— ‘Magical Thinking’ has Always Guided the US Role in Afghanistan by Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould

The Clinton “team” briefed the incoming George W. Bush “team” before his January 2001 inauguration about al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. For the younger Bush, he repudiated the evidence trail from so many intelligence sources. His eyes were on Operation Iraqi Freedom, but first called, O.I.L,  which was propagated by Jay Leno incessantly after it was blurted out from the source:

On the afternoon of March 24, 2003 days after the U.S launched missiles at Baghdad to start the illegal war, White House press secretary Ari Fleischer held a press briefing. After a few minutes, a couple of sentences into the briefing, he verbally stumbled on the name of Bush’s war, stating, “Operation Iraqi, uh, Liberation.”

Calling it “Operation Iraqi Freedom” officially is just more War is Peace, Lies are Truth bullshit. And that 2001 invasion of Afghanistan ― “Operation Enduring Freedom” – is yet more of the PT Barnum spin, all catalogued in the annals of United States Central Command and U.S. Army War College.

Trail of Tears, Trails of Evidence

Markoff’s book is a straightforward record of myriad published records – taped speeches, newspaper articles/Op-Eds, sections from books, redacted memos and top secret records. As a buttress to the asymmetrical history of what happened leading up to and during the September 11, 2001 attacks and subsequently all that went wrong in the Middle East, this upcoming 20th anniversary of 9/11, Markoff’s book should be required reading.

But reading isn’t enough for just consuming Markoff’s book, and reading it is not enough for those of us who have been fighting the wars, those in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as all the others. What we need is a truth and reconciliation hearing for all those murdered in the September 11 attacks (around 3,000) as well as the countless hundreds of thousands (several million some estimates determine up to today) killed when the USA bombed and razed Iraq.

The deep links between terror attacks and Southwest Florida - News - Sarasota Herald-Tribune - Sarasota, FL

Remember that famous photo of Bush reading about a goat to kids in Florida:

On the morning of September 11, 2001, Bush was at Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota County, Florida, reading “My Pet Goat.”

Oh, his dedication to inner-city first graders and listening to them recite the goat story is golden. Earlier, Bush had been on the way from his hotel to the school in his motorcade when it was reported to him a passenger jet had crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m. Old commander in Chief Bush believed the crash was an accident caused, perhaps, by pilot error.

That old goat, man, what a story, so much so that when Andrew Card, the White House chief of staff, entered the classroom at 9:06 to tell this president a second airplane had struck the South Tower and that the nation was under attack, Bush stayed on his duff for seven more minutes, following along as the children finished reading the book.

“Class Goat”

Goat may be an old West Point term for the man/woman graduating last in his/her class, but one infamous George the Goat from the Army Academy is none other than George Armstrong Custer.

Unfortunately, the proverbial goat in America’s eyes is the million people murdered and millions more suffering because of the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq. Steve’s book lays out the three legal frameworks or cases for prosecuting Bush (and solely Bush, not Bush and Company LLC) for crimes against humanity (in Iraq and Afghanistan) and Bush’s own responsibility for those several thousand who died on that fateful day, September 11, 2001.

Mathematician Finally Solves Goat Problem: Here's the Answer

Here’s part of a blurb on the book’s web site, Rare Bird Lit:

Steven C. Markoff presents sourced evidence of three crimes committed by George W. Bush during his presidency: his failure to take warnings of coming terror attacks on our country seriously; taking the United States, by deception, into an unnecessary and disastrous 2003 war with Iraq; costing the lives of more than 4,000 Americans and 500,000 others; and breaking domestic and international laws by approving the torture as means to extract information. While Markoff lays out his case of the crimes, he leaves it up to the reader to decide the probable guilt of George W. Bush and his actions regarding the alleged crimes.

Casualties of War — Truth, Honor, Duty to Protect 

I had cut my teeth as a reporter in El Paso and elsewhere covering and following that other container ship of lies – Reagan’s crew of felons and thugs who philandered the American public with their special form of Murder Incorporated in Central America, and notably, Nicaragua. Or the illegal invasion of Panama under George H. W. Bush. Oh, those invasions, coups, clandestine bombings, proxy wars, incursions, secret operations, PsyOps.

I even ended up “down south,” in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Nicaragua running into all sorts of odd fellows in the “drugs for guns” continuing criminal enterprise involving some of this country’s more nefarious “diplomats” and “generals” and CIA/NSA scum. Oh, those yellow belly Contras, murdering civilians and bombing schools and clinics for Reagan and Company. Those freedom fighters, AKA, the biggest lying cheats in recent times in Central America, Los Contras.

And the dead horse isn’t dead, and another author, like Markoff, just couldn’t buy the bs on those Contras:

Thus, in his 2012 book, The Manufacturing of a President, Wayne Madsen claims, based upon his numerous intelligence sources, that the CIA and Mossad have both been funding these rearmed Contras, and that they have been shipping these Contras arms over both the Honduran and Costa Rican borders.  He claims also that the Honduran government which came to power through the 2009 coup – a coup which the Obama Administration actively aided and abetted to unseat a leftist government which, by the way, happened to be friendly to Daniel Ortega – has been key to helping both support the Contras as well as to provide a staging ground for the covert operations to bring down the Sandinista government.  In other words, Honduras is playing the very same role it did in the 1980s, and the US-backed coup in 2009 – a mere 2 years after Ortega was elected – was crucial to this role.

Dan Kovalik

Of course, the Bush Family Legacy was also all written over that fiasco, and again, it was easy for me to continue my penchant for understanding how rotten the United States is as I am the son of a Vietnam War regular army veteran, who put in 31 years in uniform.

Lords of War, the Racket that is General Smedley Butler’s war warnings. Or Gary Webb, killing the messenger, the same CIA-infused Washington Post, New York Times and LA Times, to just name a few of the publications that corrupted the real work of Webb uncovering that entire drugs for guns Mafiosi.

Robert Parry, deceased now, but a journalist who started Consortium News in 1994, with Webb as one of his big stories on how bad the US government is, and how bad the mainstream media has become.

Here, Parry:

So what I was seeking by the mid-1990s was some solid ground in which to plant a flag for honest journalism, rather than constantly being forced into retreat, pulled by nervous editors and producers looking over their shoulders out of fear of right-wing retaliation. From solid ground, I thought, we could produce journalism that simply assessed the facts and made independent judgments regardless of who might be offended.

In 1995, it was my oldest son, Sam, who suggested the then-novel idea of “a Web site.” I didn’t fully understand what a Web site was and Sam was no techie but he demonstrated extraordinary patience in building our original Internet presence. (Back then, there were no templates; you had to start from scratch.) We married old-fashioned investigative reporting with the new technology of the Internet and began publishing groundbreaking investigative articles.

We followed evidence where it went, even when it flew in the face of the conventional wisdom, such as our work on the 1980 October Surprise issue of whether Reagan and Bush went behind President Jimmy Carter’s back during his Iran-hostage negotiations, much the way Nixon had in sabotaging Johnson’s Vietnam peace talks in 1968.

Not only did we present our own original work but we buttressed investigations by other serious journalists, such as Gary Webb of the San Jose Mercury News when, in 1996, he revived Ronald Reagan’s Contra-cocaine scandal. When the major newspapers set out to destroy Webb and discredit his revelations, Consortiumnews was one outlet that took on the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.

Yes, we were outgunned. Despite showing that Webb was not only right but actually understated the problem of Contra-cocaine trafficking, we still could not save Webb from having his career destroyed and then watching the big newspapers essentially high-five each other for having helped cover up a serious crime of state.

The Three Crimes of the POTUS #43 (Secret Service called him Trailblazer)

I am not going astray here, kind reader. What Steven talked a lot about on the Ralph Nader podcast was how that same media, the So-called Liberal Press, has virtually gone silent on his book, a type of passive censorship that can eat at the soul of any author.

In reality, the “case against Bush” is the case against mainstream media/press and their close ties to not just the chambers of power, but within their “embeddedness,” inside the ranks, as well as their allegiance to, and participation in, the national security state’s various bureaus of hit men and hit women.

When I finished the book, I offered the book to everybody that I had quoted, which was… around ninety authors. I offered it to Condoleezza Rice, I offered it to Dick Cheney, I offered it to the [George W.] Bush [Presidential] Library. I haven’t heard from one person about the book.

— Steven Markoff stated on Nader’s show.

Interestingly, Markoff incorporates Richard Clarke’s words as a preface to this book. Clarke actually strips culpability from Rumsfeld, Cheney, and others laying the blame on Bush personally. Here, early in Markoff’s book, Clarke puts it clearly in his mind.

While I may be considered by some to be prejudiced in my judgment, there are facts that any objective observer must accept.

• First, Bush ignored warnings about the serious threat from Al Qaeda prior to 9/11.
• Second, Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq in violation of international law, when Iraq had been uninvolved in 9/11 and offered no imminent threat to the United States.
• Third, Bush authorized the use of torture and denied prisoners due process, both acts in violation of international law.

Note that in each case I say that Bush did these things, not the Bush administration. There is a revisionist school that seeks to place the blame on Bush’s vice president, Richard B. Cheney. While there can be little doubt that Cheney encouraged Bush to take many of these actions, it is not true that the president was merely a tool of a mendacious and scheming subordinate.

The evidence is now clear that Bush agreed with his vice president and knew full well what he was doing. He was an enthusiastic participant, a believer in the war on terror and the war on Iraq. It is true, however, that he did not master or manage the details of either war until the last few years of his eight-year presidency.

— Richard A. Clarke, in the Forward of Markoff’s book.

[In 1992, President George H. W. Bush appointed Richard A. Clarke to chair the Counterterrorism Security Group and to a seat on the United States National Security Council. President Bill Clinton retained Clarke and in 1998 promoted him to the National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection, and Counterterrorism. Under President George W. Bush, Clarke initially continued in the same position and later became the special advisor to the president on cyber security. He left his government position prior to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.]

Markoff uses Clarke’s book, Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror, as a touchstone of sorts. That was in 2007.

Importantly, Clarke had the necessary government background, involvement, and position to know about what he wrote. When I finished Clarke’s book, I was shocked. Could Bush have really disregarded threats of bin Laden and Al-Qaeda prior to 9/11? If so, was there a compelling reason that Bush spent his political capital and energy going after Hussein? Could it be that George W. Bush’s Iraq War was about oil?

It occurred to me that while Clarke seemed knowledgeable about terrorists, 9/11, and the run up to our 2003 invasion of Iraq, he was just one person, and his knowledge was limited to what he had personally seen and learned.

I thought that if I combined details from Clarke’s book with related information from other diverse sources with inside or special knowledge of those times and places, that combined information could produce new and clearer insights about 9/11 and the Iraq War. I then set out to find what additional facts and information were available on those and related topics.

— Steven Markoff, The Case Against George W. Bush

Torture, Rendition, Yellow Cake, WMD’s

I remember protesting U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales June 27, 2007, in Spokane, when he showed up to talk about his department under Bush. Many of us were there to protest publicly Gonzales and the Bush administration, for many things, including that 2002 memo written by Gonzales that said Bush had the right to waive anti-torture laws and treaties that protect prisoners of war.

Oh, the long arm of the “law” that Wednesday afternoon took a good friend down to the ground, arborist Dan Treecraft. He did nothing wrong, but Dan along with another person, was arrested for public disturbance.

I was there with students of mine from two community colleges where I taught, and alas, even those two respective presidents and chairs of the department where I taught thought they had the right to tell a faculty member what he could and couldn’t do as part of a class assignment on “what it’s like to come out and protest a representative of your/our government who states torture is okay.”

Ironically, he was in Spokane to talk about “gang enforcement,” and Gonzales  wasn’t alluding to the biggest continuing criminal enterprise Gang called the United States of America.

Steve’s book is a guide, a probable pathway for lawmakers, voters, and others, including the Press, to ratchet up the attention on George W. Bush the War Criminal, and to put to rest the fawning and ameliorating reputation of Bush as The Painter (sic) Friend of Michelle Obama and Ellen.

The kicker in Markoff’s book, says it all, quite damningly, but the reality is that the War is a Racket machine is a very fine tuned complex – Big Business Complex: Burger King, et al; Home Depot, et al; Mercenaries ‘R Us, et al; paint, air conditioning, roads, drywall, vehicles, depleted uranium, fuel, water, food suppliers, et al; all those financial products, that medical complex et al; Big Ag, Big Oil, Big Chemical, Big Prison et al, all in the manner of the for-profit system that is subsidized – welfare-ized – by the US taxpayer. Insanity we have already seen in other wars, and that War on Vietnam, not enough lessons learned there? I’ve been up close and personal with that war, in Vietnam as a civilian, and as a son of a wounded regular Army officer, social worker for wounded veterans, homeless vets and their families, instructor of college writing for Vietnam veterans.

There is no urban legend attributed to those $200 hammers and $600 toilet seats and $2000 each bolts holding the shrouding of Patriot missiles. War is graft central, and how many millionaires and billionaires were created after World War I? Read General Butler’s, War is a Racket.

Evidence of Crimes as Eight Bullet Points

This shit is personal to me, as well, since I have had friends and students coming back from Bush’s wars, full of trauma, fucked up beyond repair, walking PTSD warriors with all that resentment, anger and physical outbursts, and nowhere to go. Here is Steve’s book, again, near the end:

Could the following quote from Payback, a book by David P. Barash and Judith Eve Lipton, in part on the strategy of redirected aggression, explain Bush’s taking our country to war on his misleading and false premises?

“George W. Bush and his Administration were not stooges at all, but quite brilliant. They read the need of most Americans at the time: to hit someone, hard, so as to redirect their suffering and anger [from 9/11]. The evidence is overwhelming that for the Bush Administration’s ‘neocons,’ the September 11 attacks were not the reason for the Iraq War; rather, it was a convenient excuse for doing something upon which they had already decided. Their accomplishment—if such is the correct word—was identifying the post-9/11 mood of the American people, and manipulating this mood, brilliantly, toward war.”

It’s difficult to fathom the extent of the death and destruction caused by George W. Bush’s three crimes, but his legacy of death and destruction are of Olympic proportions.

  •  An estimated 2,977 people killed by the attacks on 9/11, and thousands more injured or incapacitated that day. In addition, hundreds if not thousands have died and will die early from the toxic air from the collapse of the Twin Towers and its aftermath.
  • By one count, there were 4,400 United States personnel killed and 30,000 wounded in the Iraq War as of August 31, 2010; tens of thousands more wounded physically and emotionally crippled by participating in that war; millions of Americans and their families destroyed, devastated, and/or traumatized by 9/11 and Bush’s 2003 Iraq War.
  •  As many as 650,000 deaths or more from Bush’s Iraq War, deaths that wouldn’t have occurred but for that war.
  •  Many of our civil rights, and the civil rights of others around the world, were curtailed due to the fear created by 9/11, a fear used by some as an opportunity to weaken our liberties.
  •  Three to seven trillion dollars in costs to our country from 9/11 and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Those unnecessary trillions were and will be added to our national debt, a sum burdening our future, the future of our children, and perhaps of generations to come.
  •  Bush’s torture of prisoners puts American soldiers captured in future wars at greater risk of being tortured.
  •  The loss of America’s prestige and moral authority from Bush’s unnecessary Iraq War and torturing prisoners will hurt our country in the years ahead.
  •  Sixteen different US spy agencies on September 24, 2006, concluded that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq since March 2003 has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicals— effectively increasing the terror threat in the years after 9/11—and that the Bush administration tortured detainees and that torture wasn’t effective in securing intel otherwise unavailable.

Because America invaded a sovereign country without credible reason and tortured prisoners, how can we say without hypocrisy that other countries shouldn’t do the same to other nations or to us? What moral authority do we have to tell others it is wrong to torture?

— Steven Markoff, The Case Against George W. Bush

Pretty damning, and as I file this review/analysis/rant, that W is at it again, and his stupidity is the stunt, no, smart as a fox, or pet-painting war criminal?

George W Bush shakes hands with Condoleezza Rice in Washington DC on 5 January 2006.

In a People interview, the former president said he told his former secretary of state he had written for her. “She knows it,” said Bush, 74, “But she told me she would refuse to accept the office.”

Bush has been doing press to support the release of his book, Out of Many, One, which features his painted portraits of American immigrants and the stories of their lives.

He called current-day Republicans “isolationist, protectionist, and, to a certain extent, nativist.”

“Really what I should have said — there’s loud voices who are isolationists, protectionists and nativists, something, by the way, I talked about when I was president,” Bush said. “My concerns [are] about those -isms, but I painted with too broad a brush … because by saying what I said, it excluded a lot of Republicans who believe we can fix the problem.”

Shadow of War — Ghosts of the Dead

We’ll see if People magazine interviews Markoff, and gets a bit under the skin of his fine book, all 360 pages, with a decent bibliography and works cited section.

His conclusion:

Regardless of how I or others see what I submit are Bush’s criminal acts, some will continue to argue that while he wasn’t a perfect president, at least he rid the world of the tyrant, Hussein. Yes, he did, but for what reason, by what method, and at what cost?

In addition to the unnecessary deaths and wounding of thousands of brave Americans, hundreds of thousands of others died and were injured from Bush’s unnecessary Iraq invasion. The trillions of dollars Bush’s war has cost has and will continue to be added to our national debt. A debt saddling our future.

In conclusion, I believe the evidence in this book shows Bush’s three crimes were reckless, dishonest, and tragically unnecessary.

I rest my case.

— Steven Markoff, The Case Against George W. Bush

Of course, there are gross inaccuracies when it comes to US-induced casualties, and the first casualty of war is truth, for sure:

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

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

Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies, March 19, 2018

main article image

[Civil protection rescue teams work on the debris of a destroyed house to recover the body of people killed in an airstrike during fighting between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State militants on the western side of Mosul, Iraq. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)]

For Markoff, it’s the lives that were destroyed by Bush. That is the echo in his words, and the ghosts of those murdered are the shadows between the lines in The Case Against George W. Bush. 

Roots of Zionism and U.S. Liberty to Iraq and Now Iran

Alas, I am ending this analysis/response to Markoff’s book, The Case Against George W. Bush, by slogging through another quagmire, and then some reference to books on just who was lobbying to attack Iraq. We have Markoff trying to open up a case against W. Bush, and his book is clear, focused, not one we’d expect in the pantheon of history books or investigative research/journalistic screeds.

Some writers, thinkers, educators and journalists (such as myself), however, were already looking into the scope of this terror campaign, the implications of US Patriot Act, the entire mess that is Israel’s murderous mucking about in the Middle East with Israel-Firster American corporate heads, administration wonks, politicians and more clandestine and nefarious actors behind the scenes, supreme puppet masters and Svengali types.

All those Israeli wars led to the destruction of Lebanon, Syria and the biggest obstacle at the time, Iraq.

And, here I go again, tangentially putting more fuel into the fires that immolated Iraq and which have blazed through the Middle East before and during and since W. Bush and his Klan invaded the Middle East.

Here, I reference a recent piece by Timothy Alexander Guzman who briefly alludes to the AIPAC/Israel/Israel-firster connection to the invasion(s) of Iraq in his piece, “The Prospect of a Major False-Flag Operation in the Middle-East Grows by the Day: Remembering June 8th, 1967 the Day Israel Attacked the USS Liberty: “It’s was all part of the long-term plan and Iraq was part of that plan, in fact, the most powerful lobby in Washington is AIPAC and the Bush neoconservatives including Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Bill Kristol, Elliot Abrams and others who pushed Washington into a war with Iraq. According to John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, authors of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee)  was a major supporter for the War on Iraq”:

AIPAC usually supports what Israel wants, and Israel certainly wanted the United States to invade Iraq. Nathan Guttman made this very connection in his reporting [in Haaretz, April 2003] on AIPAC’s annual conference in the spring of 2003, shortly after the war started: “AIPAC is wont to support whatever is good for Israel, and so long as Israel supports the war, so too do the thousands of the AIPAC lobbyists who convened in the American capital.” AIPAC executive director Howard Kohr’s statement to the New York Sun in January 2003 is even more revealing, as he acknowledged “‘quietly’ lobbying Congress to approve the use of force in Iraq” was one of “AIPAC’s successes over the past year.” And in a lengthy New Yorker profile of Steven J. Rosen, who was AIPAC’s policy director during the run-up to the Iraq war, Jeffrey Goldberg reported that “AIPAC lobbied Congress in favor of the Iraq war.”

— John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt, authors of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy

 

Liberty Survivors Say US Still Downplays Israel's Attack on Ship | Military.com

[Oh, that anniversary, of the attack by Israel on the Liberty, June 8th (1967)]

I suppose this entire mess that Markoff catalogues in his book, as a triumvirate of crimes by George W. Bush, could for me, personally, be summed up, in my mind, with President George W. Bush, speaking at the annual AIPAC conference in May of 2004:

You’ve always understood and warned against the evil ambition of terrorism and their networks. In a dangerous new century, your work is more vital than ever.

Steven Markoff doesn’t go there, for sure, and that is what makes Markoff’s book unique, too:  a clean record of the mess and blunder and murderous trail George W. Bush left in his wake as leader of the so-called “free world.”

The post W’s Chickens Coming Home to Roost, yet the Media Cocks Aren’t Crowing first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Israel Rejects ICC Investigation: What Are the Possible Future Scenarios?

The Israeli government’s position regarding an impending investigation by the International Criminal Court of alleged war crimes committed in occupied Palestine has been finally declared by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“It will be made clear that Israel is a country with rule of law that knows how to investigate itself,” Netanyahu said in a statement on April 8. Subsequently, Israel “completely rejects” any accusations that it has committed war crimes.

But it won’t be so easy for Tel Aviv this time around. True, Israel is not a party to the Rome Statute, according to which the ICC was established, but it can still be held accountable, because the State of Palestine is a member of the ICC.

Palestine joined the ICC in 2015, and the alleged war crimes, which are under investigation, have taken place on Palestinian soil. This grants the ICC direct jurisdiction, even if war crimes were committed by a non-ICC party. Still, accountability for these war crimes is not guaranteed. So, what are the possible future scenarios?

But first, some context …

‘Blatant Impunity’

On March 22, the Palestinian Ambassador to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, declared that “the time has come to stop Israel’s blatant impunity”. His remarks were included in a letter sent to the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, and other top officials at the international body.

There is modest – albeit cautious – optimism among Palestinians that Israeli officials could potentially be held accountable for war crimes and other human rights violations in Palestine. The reason behind this optimism is a recent decision by ICC to pursue its investigation of alleged war crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Mansour’s letter was written with this context in mind. Other Palestinian officials, such as Foreign Minister, Riyad al-Maliki, are also pushing in this direction. He, too, wants to see an end to Israel’s lack of accountability.

Till Netanyahu’s official position, the Israeli response has been most predictable. On March 20, Israeli authorities decided to revoke Al-Maliki’s special travel permit in order to prevent him from pursuing Palestinian diplomacy that aims at ensuring the continuation of the ICC investigation. Al-Maliki had, in fact, just returned from a trip to The Hague, where the ICC is headquartered.

Furthermore, Israel is openly attempting to intimidate the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah to discontinue its cooperation with the ICC, as can be easily gleaned from the official Israeli discourse. “The Palestinian leadership has to understand there are consequences for their actions,” an Israeli official told The Jerusalem Post on March 21.

Despite years of legal haggling and intense pressure on the ICC’s outgoing Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, to scrap the investigation altogether, the legal proceedings have carried on, unhindered. The pressure was displayed in various forms: direct defamation by Israel, as in accusing the ICC of anti-Semitism; unprecedented American sanctions on ICC officials and constant meddling and intervention, on Israel’s behalf, by member states that are part of the ICC, and who are described as amici curiae.

They did not succeed. On April 30, 2020, Bensouda consulted with the Court’s Pre-trial Chamber regarding whether the ICC had jurisdiction over the matter. Ten months later, the Chamber answered in the affirmative. Subsequently, the Prosecutor decided to formally open the investigation.

On March 9, a spokesman for the Court revealed that, in accordance with Article 18 in the Rome Statute, notification letters were sent by the Prosecutor’s office to ‘all parties concerned’, including the Israeli Government and the Palestinian leadership, notifying them of the war crimes probe and allowing them only one month to seek deferral of the investigation.

Expectedly, Israel remains defiant. However, unlike its obstinacy in response to previous international attempts at investigating war crimes allegations in Palestine, the Israeli response, this time, appears confused and uncertain. On the one hand, Israeli media revealed last July that Netanyahu’s government has prepared a long list of likely Israeli suspects, whose conduct can potentially be investigated by the ICC. Still, the official Israeli response can only be described as dismissive of the matter as being superfluous, insisting that Israel will not, in any way, cooperate with ICC investigators.

Though the Israeli government continues to maintain its official position that the ICC has no jurisdiction over Israel and occupied Palestine, top Israeli officials and diplomats are moving quickly to block what now seems to be an imminent probe. For example, Israeli President, Reuven Rivlin, was on an official visit to Germany where he, on March 18, met with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier, thanking him on behalf of Israel for opposing the ICC’s investigation of Israeli officials.

After lashing out at the Palestinian leadership for attempting to “legalize” the conflict, through an international investigation, Rivlin renewed Israel’s “trust that our European friends will stand by us in the important fight on the misuse of the International Criminal Court against our soldiers and civilians.”

Unlike previous attempts at investigating Israeli war crimes, for example, the Jenin massacre in the West Bank in 2002, and the various investigations of several Israeli wars on Gaza starting in 2008-09, the forthcoming ICC investigation is different. For one, the ICC investigation targets individuals, not states, and can issue arrest warrants, making it legally incumbent on all other ICC members to enforce the Court’s decisions.

Now that all attempts at dissuading the Court from pursuing the matter have failed, the question must be asked: What are the possible future scenarios?

The Next Step

In the case that the investigation carries on as planned, the Prosecutor’s next step would be to identify suspects and alleged perpetrators of war crimes. Dr. Triestino Mariniello, member of the legal team that represents the Gaza victims, told me that once these suspects have been determined, “the Prosecutor will ask the Pre-trial chamber to issue either arrest warrants or subpoena, at least in relation to the crimes already included in the investigation so far.”

These alleged war crimes already include Israel’s illegal Jewish settlements, the Israeli war on Gaza in 2014 and Israel’s targeting of unarmed civilian protesters during Gaza’s Great March of Return, starting in 2018.

Even more ideally, the Court could potentially widen the scope of the investigation, which is a major demand for the representatives of the Palestinian victims.

“We expect more crimes to be included: especially, apartheid as a crime against humanity and crimes against Palestinian prisoners by Israeli authorities, especially torture,” according to Dr. Mariniello.

In essence, this means that, even after the investigation is officially underway, the Palestine legal team can continue its advocacy to expand the scope of the investigation and to cover as much legal ground as possible.

‘Narrow Scope’ 

However, judging from previous historic experiences, ideal scenarios in cases where Israel was investigated for war crimes rarely transpired. A less than ideal scenario would be for the scope of the investigation to remain narrow.

In a recent interview with former UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Occupied Palestinian Territories, Professor Richard Falk, he told me that even if the narrow scope remains in effect – thus reducing the chances of all victims seeing justice – the investigation is still a “breakthrough”.

The reason why the investigation may not be broadened has less to do with justice and much to do with politics. “The scope of the investigation is something that is ill-defined, so it is a matter of political discretion,” Professor Falk said.

In other words, “the Court takes a position that needs to be cautious about delimiting its jurisdiction and, therefore, it tries to narrow the scope of what it is prepared to investigate.”

Professor Falk does not agree with that view but, according to the seasoned international law expert, “it does represent the fact that the ICC, like the UN itself, is subject to immense geopolitical pressure.”

Still, “it’s a breakthrough even to consider the investigation, let alone the indictment and the prosecution of either Israelis or Americans that was put on the agenda of the ICC, which led to a pushback by these governments.”

Israel’s Missed Opportunity

While the two above scenarios are suitable for Palestinians, they are a non-starter as far as the Israeli government is concerned, as indicated in Netanyahu’s recent statement in which he rejected the investigation altogether. According to some pro-Israeli international law experts, Netanyahu’s decision would represent a missed opportunity.

Writing in the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, international law expert Nick Kaufman had advises Israel to cooperate, only for the sake of obtaining a “deferral” from the Court and to use the ensuing delay for political maneuvering.

“It would be unfortunate for Israel to miss the opportunity of deferral which could provide the ideal excuse for reinitiating peace talks with the Palestinians,” he wrote, warning that “if Israel squanders such an opportunity it should come as no surprise if, at a later date, the Court will hint that the government has no one but itself to blame for the export of the judicial process to The Hague.”

There are other scenarios, such as even more intense pressures on the Court as a result of ongoing discussions between Israel and its benefactors, whether in Washington or among the amici curiae at the Court itself.

At the same time, while Palestinians remain cautious about the future of the investigation, hope is slowly rising that, this time around, things may be different and that Israeli war criminals will eventually be held accountable for their crimes. Time will tell.

  • Romana Rubeo contributed to this article
The post Israel Rejects ICC Investigation: What Are the Possible Future Scenarios? first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Elections under Fire: Palestine’s Impossible Democracy Dilemma  

Many Palestinian intellectuals and political analysts find themselves in the unenviable position of having to declare a stance on whether they support or reject upcoming Palestinian elections which are scheduled for May 22 and July 30. But there are no easy answers.

The long-awaited decree by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas last January to hold legislative and presidential elections in the coming months was widely welcomed,  not as a triumph for democracy but as the first tangible positive outcome of dialogue between rival Palestinian factions, mainly Abbas’ Fatah party and Hamas.

As far as inner Palestinian dialogue is concerned, the elections, if held unobstructed, could present a ray of hope that, finally, Palestinians in the Occupied Territories will enjoy a degree of democratic representation, a first step towards a more comprehensive representation that could include millions of Palestinians outside the Occupied Territories.

But even such humble expectations are conditioned on many “ifs”: only if Palestinian factions honor their commitments to the Istanbul Agreement of September 24; only if Israel allows Palestinians, including Jerusalemites, to vote unhindered and refrains from arresting Palestinian candidates; only if the US-led international community accepts the outcome of the democratic elections without punishing victorious parties and candidates; only if the legislative and presidential elections are followed by the more consequential and substantive elections in the Palestinian National Council (PNC) – the Palestinian Parliament in exile – and so on.

If any of these conditions is unsatisfactory, the May elections are likely to serve no practical purpose, aside from giving Abbas and his rivals the veneer of legitimacy, thus allowing them to buy yet more time and acquire yet more funds from their financial benefactors.

All of this compels us to consider the following question: is democracy possible under military occupation?

Almost immediately following the last democratic Palestinian legislative elections in 2006, the outcome of which displeased Israel, 62 Palestinian ministers and members of the new parliament were thrown into prison, with many still imprisoned.

History is repeating itself as Israel has already begun its arrest campaigns of Hamas leaders and members in the West Bank. On February 22, over 20 Palestinian activists, including Hamas officials, were detained as a clear message from the Israeli occupation to Palestinians that Israel does not recognize their dialogue, their unity agreements or their democracy.

Two days later, 67-year-old Hamas leader, Omar Barghouti, was summoned by the Israeli military intelligence in the occupied West Bank and warned against running in the upcoming May elections. “The Israeli officer warned me not to run in the upcoming elections and threatened me with imprisonment if I did,” Barghouti was quoted by Al-Monitor.

The Palestinian Basic Law allows prisoners to run for elections, whether legislative or presidential, simply because the most popular among Palestinian leaders are often behind bars. Marwan Barghouti is one.

Imprisoned since 2002, Barghouti remains Fatah’s most popular leader, though appreciated more by the movement’s young cadre, as opposed to Abbas’ old guard. The latter group has immensely benefited from the corrupt system of political patronage upon which the 85-year-old president has constructed his Authority.

To sustain this corrupt system, Abbas and his clique labored to marginalize Barghouti, leading to the suggestion that Israel’s imprisonment of Fatah’s vibrant leader serves the interests of the current Palestinian President.

This claim has much substance, not only because Abbas has done little to pressure Israel to release Barghouti but also because all credible public opinion polls suggest that Barghouti is far more popular among Fatah’s supporters – in fact all Palestinians – than Abbas.

On February 11, Abbas dispatched Hussein al-Sheikh, the Minister of Civilian Affairs and a member of Fatah’s Central Committee, to dissuade Barghouti from running in the upcoming presidential elections. An ideal scenario for the Palestinian President would be to take advantage of Barghouti’s popularity by having him lead the Fatah list in the contest for the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). Hence, Abbas could ensure a strong turnout by Fatah supporters, while securing the chair of presidency for himself.

Barghouti vehemently rejected Abbas’ request, thus raising an unexpected challenge to Abbas, who now risks dividing the Fatah vote, losing the PLC elections, again, to Hamas and losing the presidential elections to Barghouti.

Between the nightly raids and crackdowns by the Israeli military and the political intrigues within the divided Fatah movement, one wonders if the elections, if they take place, will finally allow Palestinians to mount a united front in the struggle against Israeli occupation and for Palestinian freedom.

Then, there is the issue of the possible position of the ‘international community’ regarding the outcome of the elections. News reports speak of efforts made by Hamas to seek guarantees from Qatar and Egypt “to ensure Israel will not pursue its representatives and candidates in the upcoming elections,” Al-Monitor also reported.

But what kind of guarantees can Arab countries obtain from Tel Aviv, and what kind of leverage can Doha and Cairo have when Israel continues to disregard the United Nations, international law, the International Criminal Court, and so on?

Nevertheless, can Palestinian democracy afford to subsist in its state of inertia? Abbas’ mandate as president expired in 2009, the PLC’s mandate expired in 2010 and, in fact, the Palestinian Authority was set up as an interim political body, whose function should have ceased in 1999. Since then, the ‘Palestinian leadership’ has not enjoyed legitimacy among Palestinians, deriving its relevance, instead, from the support of its benefactors, who are rarely interested in supporting democracy in Palestine.

The only silver lining in the story is that Fatah and Hamas have also agreed on the restructuring of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which is now largely monopolized by Abbas’ Fatah movement. Whether the democratic revamping of the PLO takes place or not, largely depends on the outcome of the May and July elections.

Palestine, like other Middle Eastern countries, including Israel, does have a crisis of political legitimacy. Since Palestine is an occupied land with little or no freedom, one is justified to argue that true democracy under these horrific conditions cannot possibly be achieved.

The post Elections under Fire: Palestine’s Impossible Democracy Dilemma   first appeared on Dissident Voice.

“Is This Who We Are?”: Gitmo is America’s Enduring Shame

“That’s certainly our goal and our intention.” This was the non-committal answer given by White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, when, on February 12, she was asked by a reporter whether the new Joe Biden Administration intends to shut down the notorious Guantánamo Bay Prison by the end of the president’s first term in office.

Psaki’s answer may have seemed reassuring, that the untold suffering experienced by hundreds of men in this American gulag – many of whom were surely innocent – would be finally coming to an end. However, considering the history of Guantánamo and the trail of broken promises by the Barack Obama Administration, the new administration’s pledge is hardly encouraging.

Compare the new language with that of Obama’s impassioned diatribes about humanity, justice and American values, which he utilized whenever he spoke of Guantánamo. “Gitmo has become a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law,” Obama said at a speech at the National Defense University in May 2013.

Enamored with his every word, Obama’s audience clapped with enthusiasm. When he delivered that particular speech, Obama was then serving his second term in office. He already had ample opportunity to shut down the prison which operated with no international monitoring and entirely outside the realms of international and US laws.

Obama is likely to be remembered for his words, not his actions. Not only did he fail to shut down the prison which was erected by his predecessor, George W. Bush, in 2002, but the Guantánamo industry continued to thrive during his terms. For example, in his speech, Obama made  reference to the high cost of “a hundred and fifty million dollars each year to imprison 166 people.” According to the New Yorker, reporting in 2016, Guantánamo’s budget had morphed to “$445 million last year,” when Obama was still in office.

Yet, as the budget grew by leaps and bounds, the number of Guantánamo prisoners dwindled. Currently, there are only 40 prisoners still residing in that massive edifice of metal, concrete and barbed wire located at the eastern tip of Cuba, built atop a piece of land ‘leased’ by the US in 1903.

It is easy to conclude that the US government keeps the prison open only to avoid international accountability and, arguably, to extract information by torture, an act that is inconsistent with American laws. But this cannot be it. On the one hand, the entire wars against Afghanistan and Iraq were illegal under international law. Such a fact hardly stopped the US and its allies from savagely invading, humiliating and torturing entire populations with no regard whatsoever to legal or moral arguments.

On the other hand, Guantánamo is merely one of many American-run prisons and detention centers throughout the world that operate with no manual of rules and according to the most ruthless tactics. The tragedy of Abu Ghraib, a US military detention center in Baghdad, only became famous when direct evidence of the degrading, and incredibly violent conduct that was taking place within its walls was produced and publicized.

In fact, many American officials and members of Congress at the time used the Abu Ghraib scandal in 2004 as an opportunity to whitewash and rebrand American crimes elsewhere and to present the misconduct in this Iraqi prison as if an isolated incident involving “a few bad apples”.

The ‘few bad apples’ argument, made by G. W. Bush was, more or less, the same logic utilized by Obama when he championed the closure of Guantánamo. Indeed, both Presidents insisted that neither Abu Ghraib nor Guantánamo should be made out to represent what America is really all about.

“Is this who we are?” Obama animatedly and passionately asked, as he made a case in favor of the closure of Guantánamo, speaking as if a human rights advocate, not a Commander-in-Chief who had direct authority to shut down the entire facility. The truth is that the Abu Ghraib tortures were not ‘a few bad apples’ and Guantánamo is, indeed, a microcosm of exactly what the US is, or has become.

From Bagram, Afghanistan, to Abu Ghraib, Iraq, to Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to the many ‘floating prisons’ –  news of which was leaked by US media in 2014 – the US government continues to make a mockery of international and humanitarian laws. Many American officials, who genuinely advocate the closure of Guantánamo, refuse to acknowledge that the prison is a symbol of their country’s intransigence and refuse to accept that, like any other country in the world, it is accountable to international law.

This lack of accountability has exceeded the US government’s insistence to ‘act alone’, as in to launch wars without international mandates. One US Administration after another has also made it clear that, under no circumstances, would they allow accused war criminals to be investigated, let alone stand trial, before the International Criminal Court (ICC). The message here is that even America’s ‘bad apples’ can potentially walk free, regardless of the heinousness of their crimes.

Just months after the Trump Administration imposed sanctions on ICC judges to punish them for the potential investigations of US crimes in Afghanistan, it freed the convicted criminals who carried out horrific crimes in Iraq. On December 22, Trump pardoned four American mercenaries who belonged to the private military firm, Blackwater. These convicted murderers were involved in the killing of 14 civilians, including two children, in Baghdad in 2007.

What became known as the ‘Nisour Square massacre’ was another example of whitewashing, as government officials and mainstream media, though expressing outrage at the unlawful killing, insisted that the massacre was an isolated episode. The fact that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, mostly civilians, were killed as a result of the American invasion seems irrelevant in the country’s skewed logic in its never-ending ‘war on terror’.

Whether Biden fulfills his promise of shutting down Guantánamo or not, little will change if the US remains committed to its condescending attitude towards international law and to its undeserved view of itself as a country that exists above the universal rights of everyone else.

That said, Guantánamo, on its own, is a crime against humanity and there can never be any justification to rationalize why hundreds of people are held indefinitely, without trial, without due process, without international observers and without ever seeing their families and loved ones. The explanation often offered by the pro-Guantánamo pundits is that the prison inmates are dangerous men. If that was, indeed, the case, why were these supposed criminals not allowed to see their day in court?

According to a report by Amnesty International published in May 2020, of the 779 men who were taken to that facility, “only seven have been convicted.” Worse, five of them were convicted “as a result of pre-trial agreements under which they pleaded guilty, in return for the possibility of release from the base.” According to the rights group, such a trial by ‘military commission’ “did not meet fair trial standards”.

In other words, Guantánamo is – and has always been – a fraudulent operation with no real inclination to holding criminals and terrorists accountable and to preventing further crimes. Instead, Guantánamo is an industry, and a lucrative one. In many ways, it is similar to the American prison military complex, ironically dubbed the ‘criminal justice system.’  Referring to the unjust ‘justice system’, Human Rights Watch derided the US for having “the largest reported prison population in the world”.

“The (US) criminal justice system – from policing and prosecution, through to punishment – is plagued with injustices like racial disparities, excessively harsh sentencing and drug and immigration policies that improperly emphasize criminalization,” HRW stated on its website.

The above, too, can be considered an answer to Obama’s rhetorical question, “Is this who we are?”. Yes, Mr. Obama, in fact, this is precisely who you are.

While offering the world’s most miserable detention conditions to hundreds of potentially innocent men, Guantánamo also offers career opportunities, high military perks and honors, and a seemingly endless budget for a small army to guard only a few shackled, gaunt-looking men in a far-away land.

So, even if Biden is able to overcome pressure from the military, from the CIA and from Congress to shut Guantánamo down, justice will still be absent, not only because of the numerous lives that are forever shattered but because America still refuses to learn from its mistakes.

The post “Is This Who We Are?”: Gitmo is America’s Enduring Shame first appeared on Dissident Voice.

“Engaging the World”: The “Fascinating Story” of Hamas’s Political Evolution

On February 4, representatives from the Palestinian Movement, Hamas, visited Moscow to inform the Russian government of the latest development on the unity talks between the Islamic Movement and its Palestinian counterparts, especially Fatah.

This was not the first time that Hamas’s officials traveled to Moscow on similar missions. In fact, Moscow continues to represent an important political breathing space for Hamas, which has been isolated by Israel’s Western benefactors. Involved in this isolation are also several Arab governments which, undoubtedly, have done very little to break the Israeli siege on Gaza.

The Russia-Hamas closeness is already paying dividends. On February 17, shipments of the Russian COVID-19 vaccine, Sputnik V, have made it to Gaza via Israel, a testament to that growing rapport.

While Russia alone cannot affect a complete paradigm shift in the case of Palestine, Hamas feels that a Russian alternative to the blind and conditional American support for Israel is possible, if not urgent.

Recently, we interviewed Dr. Daud Abdullah, the author of ‘Engaging the World: The Making of Hamas’s Foreign Policy’, and Mr. Na’eem Jeenah, Director of the Afro-Middle East Center in Johannesburg, which published Dr. Abdullah’s book.

Abdullah’s volume on Hamas is a must-read, as it offers a unique take on Hamas, liberating the discussion on the Movement from the confines of the reductionist Western media’s perception of Hamas as terrorist – and of the counterclaims, as well. In this book, Hamas is viewed as a political actor, whose armed resistance is only a component in a complex and far-reaching strategy.

Why Russia? 

As Moscow continues to cement its presence in the region by offering itself as a political partner and, compared with the US, a more balanced mediator between Israel and the Palestinians, Hamas sees the developing Russian role as a rare opportunity to break away from the US-Israel imposed isolation.

“Russia was a member of the Quartet that was set up in 2003 but, of course, as a member of the (United Nations) Security Council, it has always had an ability to inform the discourse on Palestine,” Abdullah said, adding that in light of “the gradual demise of American influence, Russia realized that there was an emerging vacuum in the region, particularly after the (Arab) uprisings.”

“With regard to Hamas and Russia the relationship took off after the (Palestinian) elections in 2006 but it was not Hamas’s initiative, it was (Russian President Vladimir) Putin who, in a press conference in Madrid after the election, said that he would be willing to host Hamas’s leadership in Moscow. Because Russia is looking for a place in the region.”

Hamas’s willingness to engage with the Russians has more than one reason, chief among them is the fact that Moscow, unlike the US, refused to abide by Israel’s portrayal of the Movement. “The fundamental difference between Russia and America and China … is that the Russians and the Chinese do not recognize Hamas as a ‘terrorist organization’; they have never done so, unlike the Americans, and so it made it easy for them to engage openly with Hamas,” Abdullah said.

On Hamas’s ‘Strategic Balance’

In his book, Abdullah writes about the 1993 Oslo Accords, which represented a watershed moment, not only for Hamas but also for the entire Palestinian liberation struggle. The shift towards a US-led ‘peace process’ compelled Hamas to maintain a delicate balance “between strategic objectives and tactical flexibility.”

Abdullah wrote:

Hamas sees foreign relations as an integral and important part of its political ideology and liberation strategy. Soon after the Movement emerged, foreign policies were developed to help its leaders and members navigate this tension between idealism and realism. This pragmatism is evident in the fact that Hamas was able to establish relations with the regimes of Muammar Gaddhafi in Libya and Bashar al-Assad in Syria, both of whom were fiercely opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood.

In our interview, Abdullah elaborated:

From the very beginning, Hamas adopted certain principles in respect to its international relations and, later on, in the formation of a foreign policy. Among these, there is a question of maintaining its independence of decision-making; non-alignment in conflicting blocks, avoidance of interference in the affairs of other states.

Mr. Jeenah, an accomplished writer himself, also spoke of the “delicate balance.”

“It is a delicate balance, and a difficult one to maintain because, at this stage, when movements are regarded and regard themselves as liberation movements, they need to have higher moral and ethical standards than, for example, governments,” Jeenah said.  “For some reason, we expect that governments have to make difficult choices but, with liberation movements, we don’t, because they are all about idealism and creating an ideal society, etc.”

Jeenah uses the South Africa anti-apartheid struggle which, in many ways, is comparable to the Palestinian quest for freedom, to illustrate his point:

When the liberation movement in South Africa was exiled, they took a similar kind of position. While some of them might have had a particular allegiance to the Soviet Union or to China, some of them also had strong operations in European countries, which they regarded as part of the bigger empire. Nevertheless, they had the freedom to operate there. Some of them operated in other African countries where there were dictatorships and they got protection from those states.

Hamas and the Question of National Unity

In his book, which promises to be an essential read on the subject, Abdullah lists six principles that guide Hamas’s political agenda. One of these guiding principles is the “search for common ground.”

In addressing the question of Palestinian factionalism, we contended that, while Fatah has failed at creating a common, nominally democratic platform for Palestinians to interact politically, Hamas cannot be entirely blameless. If that is, indeed, the case, can one then make the assertion that Hamas has succeeded in its search for the elusive common ground?

Abdullah answers:

Let me begin with what happened after the elections in 2006. Although Hamas won convincingly and they could have formed a government, they decided to opt for a government of national unity. They offered to (Palestinian Authority President) Mahmoud Abbas and to (his party) Fatah to come into a government of national unity. They didn’t want to govern by themselves. And that, to me, is emblematic of their vision, their commitment to national unity.

But the question of national unity, however coveted and urgently required, is not just controlled by Palestinians.

The PLO is the one that signed the Oslo Accords,” Abdullah said, “and I think this is one of Hamas’s weaknesses: as much as it wants national unity and a reform of the PLO, the fact of the matter is Israel and the West will not allow Hamas to enter into the PLO easily, because this would be the end of Oslo.

On Elections under Military Occupation

On January 15, Abbas announced an official decree to hold Palestinian elections, first presidential, then legislative, then elections within the PLO’s Palestine National Council (PNC), which has historically served as a Palestinian parliament in exile. The first phase of these elections is scheduled for May 22.

But will this solve the endemic problem of Palestinian political representation? Moreover, is this the proper historical evolution of national liberation movements – democracy under military occupation, followed by liberation, instead of the other way around?

Jeenah spoke of this dichotomy:

On the one hand, elections are an opportunity for Palestinians to express their choices. On the other hand, what is the election really? We are not talking about a democratic election for the State, but for a Bantustan authority, at greater restraints than the South African authority.

Moreover, the Israeli “occupying power will not make the mistake it did the last time. It will not allow such freedom (because of which) Hamas (had) won the elections. I don’t think Israel is going to allow it now.”

Yet there is a silver lining in this unpromising scenario. According to Jeenah, “I think the only difference this election could make is allowing some kind of reconciliation between Gaza and the West Bank.”

Hamas, the ICC and War Crimes 

Then, there is the urgent question of the anticipated war crime investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Yet, when the ICC agreed to consider allegations of war crimes in Palestine, chances are not only alleged Israeli war criminals are expected to be investigated, but the probe could potentially consider the questioning of Palestinians, as well. Should not this concern Hamas in the least?

In the Israeli wars on Gaza in 2008, 2012 and 2014, Hamas, along with other armed groups had no other option but to “defend the civilian population,” Abdullah said, pointing out that the “overriding concept” is that the Movement “believes in the principle of international law.”

If Hamas “can restore the rights of the Palestinian people through legal channels, then it will be much easier for the Movement, rather than having to opt for the armed struggle,” Abdullah asserted.

Understanding Hamas

Undoubtedly, it is crucial to understand Hamas, not only as part of the Palestine-related academic discourse, but in the everyday political discourse concerning Palestine; in fact, the entire region. Abdullah’s book is itself critical to this understanding.

Jeenah argued that Abdullah’s book is not necessarily an “introductory text to the Hamas Movement. It has a particular focus, which is the development of Hamas’s foreign policy. The importance of that, in general, is firstly that there isn’t a text that deals specifically with Hamas’s foreign policy. What this book does is present Hamas as a real political actor.”

The evolution of Hamas’s political discourse and behavior since its inception, according to Jeenah, is a “fascinating” one.

Many agree. Commenting on the book, leading Israeli historian, Professor Ilan Pappé, wrote,

This book challenges successfully the common misrepresentation of Hamas in the West. It is a must-read for anyone engaged with the Palestine issue and interested in an honest introduction to this important Palestinian Movement.

• (Dr. Daud Abdullah’s book, Engaging the World: The Making of Hamas’s Foreign Policy, is available here.)

The post “Engaging the World”: The “Fascinating Story” of Hamas’s Political Evolution first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Ecocide!  

Ecocide is the destruction of large areas of the natural environment as a consequence of human activity.

That destruction of “large areas” has grown so conspicuously large, so threatening to all species, including human existence, that a group of international legal experts is working to submit a draft of a new law “Ecocide” to the International Criminal Court (“ICC”) at The Hague.

Stop Ecocide is the group supporting this initiative. The Stop Ecocide website mission statement says:

Protecting the future of life on Earth means stopping the mass damage and destruction of ecosystems taking place globally. We call this serious harm to nature ‘ecocide’. And right now, in most of the world, it is legally permitted. It’s time to change the rules. We’re working to make it an international crime at the International Criminal Court.

It’s no small undertaking. The European Parliament supports the effort, the Canadian government is closely following it, President Macron of France champions it, and Belgium has already raised the issue at the ICC in its official 2020 statement. Meanwhile, a drafting panel of powerful legal minds plans to complete its work for submission to the ICC in June 2021.

There’s something horribly disturbing about this effort to label Ecocide alongside (1) Genocide (2) Crimes Against Humanity (3) War Crimes and (4) Crimes of Aggression, all four within the auspices of the International Criminal Court. More on that later, but first the genesis of ICC goes back to recognition of the necessity of such a court via UN Resolution #260 in December 1948, in response to the fascists of the prior decade. Thereafter, the UN adopted the Rome Statute, providing for the ICC on July 17, 1998. That statute at The Hague, Netherlands is enforced as of December 2015.

The ICC, after way too many years of consideration and procedural moves, is now officially recognized by approximately 123 states; however, that recognition is a moving target, as today’s brand of fascism doesn’t necessarily buy into it. Some signatories have withdrawn, like the Philippines (2019) and some countries have signed but not ratified the Rome Statute and four signatory states have informed the UN Secretary General that they no longer want to play ball. These are Israel, Sudan, the U.S. and Russia. Prompting the query: What’s the common interest in degrading the effectiveness of the ICC? Answer: The distinct likelihood of being nailed as a defendant.

The Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte withdrew as soon as the ICC opened preliminary investigations into its drug war. The Trump administration (fascism-lite), assuming it can be called an administration, which is likely a misnomer, went so far as to threaten prosecutions and financial sanctions on ICC judges and staff as well as imposing visa bans in response to any American charged, especially regarding crimes against humanity in Afghanistan. Of course, the U.S. did not ratify the Rome Statute in the first instance, and under Trump it went even further down the rabbit hole, openly challenging “the honesty, the integrity, the truthfulness” of the ICC in addition to various harsh (juvenile) threats to the international organization. The world community was not blind-sided by that rogue behavior, not in the least. They expected it. (Footnote: As of January 26th the Biden administration is “thoroughly reviewing” U.S. sanctions imposed on ICC officials.)

Still, in all, the most disturbing aspect of the Ecocide movement is the simple fact that it is necessary. The initiative speaks volumes about the broken-down status of various ecosystems, which are starting to crumble, as some are starting to disintegrate right before humanity’s eyes, especially in the far north. In fact, the brutal truth is the Ecocide movement may be too late. After all, the planet’s already wobbly.

The earmarks of a lost planet in its final throes of life support are abundant; for example, complex life forms such as wild mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians nowadays only constitute 5% of the planet’s total biomass with the remaining 95% livestock and humans. As such, cows, chickens, pigs, and humans huddle together in a vast free-for-all, chasing nature’s leftovers.

Two-thirds (67%) of all wild vertebrate species are gone in only 50 years. Poof!  That’s only 3-points off the Permian-Triassic extinction event of 252MYA when 70% of terrestrial vertebrate species (and 95% of marine species) went extinct in the planet’s worst-ever extinction, aka: The Great Dying. Clearly, today’s Anthropocene Era is already “in the thick of it.” What of the next 50 years?

And, global wetlands have been hammered, badly destroyed, plowed under to only 13% of 300 years ago, as some insect populations have been decimated by up to 80%, just ask Krefeld Entomological Society (est. 1905) Germany about insect abundance plummeting in 63 nature preserves, where the environment is protected.

Along the way, human population grows like a weed whilst spraying or implanting toxic insecticides on to everything in sight. In fact, not much remains that hasn’t been directly or indirectly lathered in toxins, including humans and domestic animals based upon, mostly untested, chemicals; in fact, 80,000 in the U.S. alone. Meantime, one-half of the U.S. population suffers from a chronic disease (Rand study, 2017): (1) arthritis (2) asthma (3) cancer (4) ALS (5) cystic fibrosis (6) Alzheimer’s (7) other dementias (8) osteoporosis (9) heart disease and (10) diabetes, any one of which could have been environmentally induced.

Toxins tyrannize the planet, found everywhere, from the top of Mount Everest, 29,032 feet, where climbers discovered arsenic and cadmium in the snow exceeding EPA guidelines, to the bottom of the Mariana Trench -36,069 feet below, where undersea explorers discovered crustaceans with toxin levels 50 times greater than crustaceans that live within China’s most heavily polluted rivers, and that takes some doing!

All of which brings to mind a proper description for a planet that’s deadening, on its last leg, with natural resources of kelp forests (-40%) coral reefs (-50%) and all plant life (-40%) widely decimated, including 103,000 wildfires in the Brazilian rainforest alone in only one year (2020) almost entirely (90%) of human origin?

This is deadly serious stuff that gets posted in articles like this, read by a designated number of people (thx), but regrettably, not much gets done about it, as the horrors continue to worsen by the year. We’re gonna run out of years!

For significantly deeper concern, look to wetlands, disappearing three times faster than forests, which are at the heart of the biosphere, the wetlands are colloquially known as the “kidneys of the world”: (a) cleanse water, (b) mitigate flooding (Midwest and Houston), (c) recharge aquifers (Middle East dilemma) and (d) support habitat for biodiversity, only 13% remains after a 300-year span. Ergo: “We are in a crisis!”1

How does the planet continue supporting life with only 13% of original wetlands whilst world human population grows by 200,000 newborns per day? Nobody has an answer for that all-important aspect of survival. Do the math! Then, must it be reduced to Darwin’s survival of the fittest? Maybe, but the big truth/lie is: Nobody knows what to do other than pretend that growth to infinity, the hallmark of capitalism, is just fine and dandy. Is it? Really, is it?

Doughnut Economics may be a good, solid sustainable alternative? (For planet-friendly relief, Google: “Doughnut Economics Boots Capitalism Out!”)

All of which helps explain why some really smart people are drafting a new law for the ICC to stop ecocide. Honestly though, it’s already so obvious that it prompts an important question, which is: How could concerned parties not be incited to draft a law to prevent what’s already happened? Hmm! Nevertheless, will it be soon enough to make a difference? For certain, it’ll require a helluva lot more than drafting a new law!

Postscript: There is a real danger of losing our tenure on the planet altogether… Earth is in dire trouble.

— James Lovelock, The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning, Publ. Allen Lane/Basic Books, 2009

Additionally:  You cannot plant an ecosystem. An ecosystem includes: Bacteria or haematids, insects, invertebrates and all kinds of stuff, all the way up to big trees. You cannot plant ecosystems… it has to come naturally. (Lovelock, at 101-years, walks 3-5 miles daily and has planted over 2,000 trees, motto: “Keep walking – that’s the secret to longevity. And keep interested.”)

  1. Martha Rojas Urrego, head of Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
The post Ecocide!   first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Despite Ambiguity in International Law, Palestinians are Winning the ‘Legitimacy War’

‘International law’ remains one of the most discussed terms in the context of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. It is almost always present, whether the discussion pertains to the Israeli wars and siege on Gaza, the expansion of illegal Jewish settlements in the West Bank or the encroaching apartheid throughout Israel and the Occupied Territories.

Despite the importance and relevance of the term, however, it rarely translates into anything tangible. The Israeli siege on Gaza, for example, has continued, unabated, for nearly 14 years, without international law serving as a protector of Palestinian civilians against Israeli violations of human rights. More recently, on September 13, the Israeli government approved 1,000 illegal settlement units in the West Bank, in stark violation of international law. It is likely that Israel will go ahead with it, anyway.

With regard to violating international law, Israel is in a unique category of its own, for Israel’s behavior is always governed by its military strength and the backing of its Western allies.

To gain more insight into the relationship between international law, conflict resolution and accountability, I spoke with Professor Richard Falk, one of the world’s leading experts on international law and former UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian Human Rights.

Of particular relevance to our discussion are the current Palestinian efforts at pursuing international action to hold alleged individual Israeli war criminals accountable at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The fact that the Court has agreed to investigate alleged war crimes in occupied Palestine has generated an angry response from Israel and unprecedented sanctions from Washington, targeting ICC judges and staff, including Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda.

I asked Professor Falk about the ‘limited scope’ of the ICC investigation, as the Court will only be looking into Israeli war crimes, thus, for now, excluding crimes against humanity, among other illegal practices that should be applicable in the case of Israel.

“The scope of the investigation is something that is ill-defined, so it is a matter of political discretion,” Professor. Falk said, adding that “the Court takes a position that needs to be cautious about delimiting its jurisdiction and, therefore, it tries to narrow the scope of what it is prepared to investigate.”

“I don’t agree with this view  …  but it does represent the fact that the ICC, like the UN itself, is subject to immense geopolitical pressure,” Falk told me. Still, the seasoned international law expert described the ICC investigation as a “breakthrough”.

“It’s a breakthrough even to consider the investigation, let alone the indictment and the prosecution of either Israelis or Americans that was put on the agenda of the ICC, which led to a pushback by these governments  … Israel has denounced the Court as if it is improper to examine any State that claims the matter of geopolitical impunity. So you have a core denial of the rule of law.”

Undeniably, this breakthrough and the advanced position of international institutions regarding the illegitimacy of the Israeli occupation are the outcome of the insistent effort put in by Professor Falk and other champions of international law throughout the years. In fact, the relentless attempts aimed at silencing Falk — and others like him — were carried out so that their criticism of Israel’s violations did not, eventually, lead to such dreaded investigations, like that of the ICC.

“There are very militant Zionist-oriented NGOs, like UN Watch, that engage in defamatory kinds of activities and use all their resources and energy to persuade people, including the UN Secretary-General, to criticize me and urge my dismissal or some type of sanctions,” Falk reflected on the challenges he faced during his term at the UN between 2008-14.

Fortunately, but also tellingly, “in the end, the role of Special Rapporteur was respected  … and there was so much support for my activity, including foreign ministries and also from outside the Islamic world. I felt that it was an important kind of presence to maintain.”

“The Zionist groups were, of course, very frustrated and they didn’t try to respond to my reports on the violations of human rights in the Occupied Territory; instead, they concentrated on defaming and smearing the messenger rather than addressing the message,” Falk said, identifying the very essence of the strategy used by pro-Israel groups, whether at the UN or elsewhere.

I also asked Professor Falk about the term ‘Israeli occupation’ as, in my limited understanding, the term has been devised by the Geneva Conventions — and previous international definitions — to regulate a transitional period during which an Occupying Power is in charge of the welfare and well-being of the civilian population living in an Occupied Territory.

“International law is quite ambiguous about the duration of a military occupation and Israel has made a kind of specious argument that the Geneva Conventions and the normal law governing belligerent occupation doesn’t apply here, because this is disputed sovereignty rather than a case where another country has been occupied,” Falk said.

Coupled with US-western support and vetoes at the Security Council, Israel has historically exploited this ambiguity to entrench — instead of ending — its occupation of Palestine.

Since international law “doesn’t provide an endpoint to the Occupation, the most effective way of challenging it from an international law perspective is that Israel has committed so many fundamental breaches of the obligations of an Occupying Power — the establishment of the settlements, the incremental annexation, the integration of Jerusalem into the sovereign State of Israel..”

“They are all fundamental violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention and they represent an effort to make the end of Occupation not possible in the sense that it was meant: turning the society back to the civilian population that is occupied,” Falk continued, describing this situation as a “serious flaw, legally and politically.”

“But is there a reason for optimism?” I asked Professor Falk, whose energy and tireless work continue to define this indefatigable warrior of human rights.

“As colonialism and oppression lost their acceptance as forms of legitimate political behavior, the political balance shifted and the perseverance of national struggles turned out to be more formidable than the weaponry at the disposal of the colonial powers,” Falk said.

According to Professor Falk, history is clearly on the side of Palestinians, who are already “winning the legitimacy war”.

The post Despite Ambiguity in International Law, Palestinians are Winning the ‘Legitimacy War’ first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Neverending Holocausts of the Neoliberal Order

Biochemist, writer, humanitarian activist, and artist, Gideon Polya has had a selection of his essays gathered into a compendium titled US-Imposed Post-9/11 Muslim Holocaust & Muslim Genocide (Korsgaard Publishing, 2020). The compendium is important because it brings to the forefront, for anyone who cares an iota for peace and social justice, the horrible crimes of the “mendacious and politically dominant neoliberal One Percenters” wreaking holocausts and genocides. Polya draws a distinction between the two in that while both involve a massive number of killings, genocides are carried out with an “intent to destroy.” For me, these two are synonymous and interchangeable because, where it concerns militarism, who ever heard of an unintentional holocaust? When the fatalities become so huge, it must be that the killers are aware of what they are doing; ergo, there is intent in the killings.1

Polya does not write in euphemistic niceties. He speaks straight to the matter and sees it as crucial to honesty, and such honesty is needed to bring to an end the holocausts. Accordingly, he is highly critical of the state and corporate media for lies of commission and lies of omission. The latter he considers more insidious because what is unstated cannot be refuted. Effectively, the state and corporate media is complicit in the history of genocides up to today.

The genocides are many. Some are arcane and while enormous, many people will never have heard of them; e.g., the Bengali Holocaust where, from 1943 to 1945, 6-7 million Indians perished under the auspices of the racist genocidaire Winston Churchill, and the WWII Chinese holocaust whereby Japanese invaders put 35 million Chinese to death.

Polya examines the genocides in separate chapters from Bengal to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, Palestine, India, and of the Rohingya forced out of Myanmar — and many more in the text. A superfluity of the genocides are targeted at Muslims. Genocides are not merely carried out through warring and physical violence. Polya also addresses the opiate holocaust, the air pollution holocaust, and the climate genocide. Polya also finds that the International Criminal Court is complicit as a bystander to genocides, describing it as “a cowardly, racist, degenerate and look-the-other-way organization… a holocaust-ignoring and genocide-ignoring organization…” (p 143)

Polya addresses global avoidable mortality: “The post-1950 excess mortality has been 1.3 billion for the World, 1.2 billion for the non-European World and 0.6 billion for the Muslim World…” (p 10) Polya does not shirk from criticizing his home country of genocide in the millenial homeland of Aborigines (“Australia — a nation that has exterminated all but 50 of 250 Indigenous languages and Aboriginal nations, with the rest at great risk” [p 32]) and abroad, along with much of the West. The author identifies the lead war criminal as “the Zionist-backed US War on Muslims (aka the US War on Terror)…” (p 19)

Readers are informed that the United States, which was born out of a genocide against Indigenous nations, has invaded 70 countries since independence in 1776. The current US-waged genocide against Muslims, argues the professor, is rooted in the US false flag of 9-11. In Iraq, this led to 1.5 million violent deaths and another 0.8 million avoidable deaths from war-imposed deprivation. Polya calculates 34 million avoidable deaths in 20 countries post-9-11.

Throughout the book, Polya provides and explains statistics and footnotes (unfortunately, there is no index) to the wars, killings, and excess mortality in country after country. The statistics provide a revealing and necessary lens on imperialist insouciance to the lives of Others. At times the presentation of stats is irksome because of over-repetition, as is the excessive iteration of the Genocide Convention. Editing would have helped to eliminate repetitive reading of parts of the book.

By encouraging the cultivation of opium in Afghanistan, the US has unleashed addiction around the world, even in the US. Polya charged, “Presidents Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump have been the worst drug pushers in history since Great Britain’s Queen Victoria …” (p 127) Iran, which shares a long border with Afghanistan, has been particularly burdened by the opium trade. Yet it is responsible for 75% of the world’s opium seizures and 25% of the world’s morphine and heroin seizures. (p 126) Nonetheless, the US-imposed opiate holocaust has killed 33,000 Iranians and 5.2 million worldwide. (p 123)

Although the genocides are US-imposed, the Jewish/Celtic Australian author takes a harsh aim at his home country and the Jewish state. He writes of “the ongoing Aboriginal genocide in which some two million Indigenous Australians have died untimely deaths…” (p 233) In 1778, there were 350-759 different Aboriginal tribes whereas only 150 survive today with all except 20 endangered. (p 233)

The author decries “the ethnic cleansing of 90% of Palestine by a nuclear terrorist, racist Zionist-run, genocidally racist, democracy-by-genocide Apartheid Israel.” (p 340)

Polya notes Jewish-assisted genocide extends beyond killing Palestinians. “Apartheid Israel is intimately involved in Aung San Suu Kyi-led Myanmar’s Rohingya Genocide … the Maya Indian Genocide in Guatemala, the Sri-Lankan Tamil Genocide, the South Sudan Civil War, the Syrian Genocide, the Iraqi Genocide and the ongoing, endless Muslim Holocaust and Muslim Genocide.” (p 247)

Polya is scathing in his denunciation of Zionism: “Zionism is egregious, genocidal racism and racist Zionists and all their supporters should be sidelined from public life, as have other racists such as neo-Nazis, Nazis, Apartheiders and the Klu Klux Klan.” (p 248)

And, holy genocidal complicity Batman, the US taxpayers have bankrolled Israel to the tune of $40 trillion in today’s dollars! (p 302)

Polya offers solutions, among them enacting BDS, exposing journalists who omit genocides, a 4% annual global wealth tax that would wipe out avoidable deaths globally, mandatory inclusion of externalities in the pricing of goods and services, and replacing neoliberalism with social humanism. Neoliberalism, writes Polya, is a “ruthless ideology … ultimately responsible for the carnage of the ongoing, 21st century Muslim Holocaust and Muslim Genocide …” (p 356)

People genuinely in support of a world of peace and social justice should be informed of the horrendous crimes humans commit against other humans. Read US-Imposed Post-9/11 Muslim Holocaust & Muslim Genocide and become informed. Readers may be skeptical of the numbers that Polya presents and the methodology, but the killings are real.

Informed people must speak out about the evil, racist criminality of destroying swaths of humans. Polya exhorts readers: “Silence kills and silence is complicity.”

  1. Thus, while Polya differentiates, I will use either of the terms, holocaust and genocide, interchangeably in this review.

The post The Neverending Holocausts of the Neoliberal Order first appeared on Dissident Voice.

USA’s Strangulation of the International Criminal Court

On 2 September, 2020, the US sanctioned two officials of the International Criminal Court (ICC) for investigating into alleged war crimes by US forces and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Afghanistan since 2003.The officials are ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, and the ICC’s head of Jurisdiction, Complementary, and Cooperation Division, Phakiso Mochochok (sanctioned for having materially assisted Prosecutor Bensouda). Announcing this decision, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said, “the United States is taking action to protect Americans from unjust and illegitimate investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC), which threatens our sovereignty and poses a danger to the United States and our allies…The ICC’s recklessness has forced us to this point, and the ICC cannot be allowed to follow through with its politically-driven targeting of U.S. personnel.”

The sanctions have racially targeted the two African individuals among the five officials in the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor (OTP). Despite possible links to the Afghanistan investigation on account of their judicial positions, the US has chosen not to sanction Director of the Investigations Division Michel de Smedt, Deputy Prosecutor James Stewart, and Director of the Prosecutions Division Fabricio Guariglia.

Through the sanctions, Bensouda and Mochochok have been included in the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons list, maintained by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). The consequences of being designated include:

  • “any assets the person has in the United States are frozen;
  • the individual can no longer conduct transactions in U.S. dollars which may occur anywhere in the world;
  • persons, including financial institutions, cannot conduct transactions with or provide services to the designated individual;
  • the designated individual and their family members are barred from entering the United States; and
  • anyone who materially assists the designated individual can themselves be designated.”

American Hostility toward ICC

The US government’s hatred of the ICC boils down to one primary concern: the possibility that US citizens may be prosecuted and convicted by the court for grisly conduct supported by the American empire. As a result, the US has been in conflict with ICC from the start, trying to subvert its judicial capacities. One month after the ICC officially came into existence on July 1, 2002, US President George Bush signed the American Service members’ Protection Act (ASPA), which limited U.S. government assistance to the ICC; curtailed military assistance to countries that ratified the Rome Statute (the treaty establishing ICC); and authorized the President to use “all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the release” of certain U.S. and allied persons who may be detained or tried by the ICC.

As the US believes that ICC is a threat to its imperialist excesses, top officials of the country have never relented in their vituperation and destabilization of the intergovernmental organization. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called ICC a “kangaroo court”. Similarly, Attorney-General William Barr said that the US Justice Department had “received substantial credible information that raises serious concerns about a long history of financial corruption and malfeasance at the highest levels in the office of the prosecutor.” President Trump, while addressing UN General Assembly, stated, “United States will provide no support or recognition to the International Criminal Court. As far as America is concerned the ICC has no jurisdiction, no legitimacy, and no authority.” Such villificatory language reached its apogee when John Bolton gave a speech to the Federalist Society in Washington, D.C on 11 September, 2018. During the speech, he dubbed ICC as (1) a “supranational tribunal” that targeted “America’s senior political leadership” and (2) a “free-wheeling global organization claiming jurisdiction over individuals without their consent.” If that was not enough, he further said in a thuggish tone: “The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court. We will not cooperate with the ICC. We will provide no assistance to the ICC. We will not join the ICC. We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us.”

The Afghanistan Investigation

In November 2017, the currently sanctioned Prosecutor Bensouda asked for authorization from the ICC’s judiciary to investigate crimes against humanity and war crimes by the Taliban and their affiliated Haqqani Network; war crimes of ill-treatment by the Afghan intelligence agency National Directorate for Security and the Afghan National Police; and war crimes of torture by US military forces deployed in Afghanistan and in secret detention facilities operated by the CIA. Bensouda requested a full investigation because US administrations and courts have consistently chosen not to prosecute the torturers. While torture was banned in 2009 by former President Barack Obama, the torturers were allowed to get off scot-free. Talking about this decision to award impunity to the torturers, Obama had said, “You know, it is important for us not to feel too sanctimonious in retrospect about the tough job that those folks had. And a lot of those folks were working hard under enormous pressure and are real patriots.”

In response to this potential investigation, the US revoked Bensouda’s entry-visa on 4 April, 2019 and Pompeo hubristically stated, “I’m announcing a policy of US visa restrictions on those individuals directly responsible for any ICC investigation of US personnel…If you’re responsible for the proposed ICC investigation of US personnel in connection with the situation in Afghanistan you should not assume that you still have, or will get, a visa or that you will be permitted to enter the United States,”.

Facing the US-sponsored public campaign of defamation and aggressions, the Pre-Trial Chamber II of the ICC rejected Bensouda’s request on 12 April, 2019, – 8 days after the visa revocation- expressing concern over (1) the “availability of evidence for crimes dating back so long in time”; (2) the prospect of attaining meaningful cooperation from relevant actors; and (3) the “significant amount of resources” necessary to fund this sort of investigation considering the ICC’s budget. The Pre-Trial Chamber believed that there was no reasonable basis to believe the investigation served “the interests of justice” although it accepted that there was a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed in the territory of Afghanistan by various actors.

The rejection of Bensouda’s request was closely tied with USA’s attempts to prevent its imperialist cruelty from being fully exposed by a judicial body. Article 15 of the Rome Statute provides that “victims may make representations to the Pre-Trial Chamber either in support or opposition to the Prosecutor’s request for an investigation.” In Ms. Bensouda’s case, 680 out of 699 applications submitted to the court by victims and victims groups welcomed the requested investigation. Despite the support of the victims, the US unilaterally impeded the investigation, nakedly asserting the ruthlessness of its imperial power.

To contest the rejection of Bensouda’s Afghanistan investigation, the OTP and the legal representatives of 3 victims appeared before the Pre-Trial Chamber in June 2019. Six months later, the Appeals Chamber of the ICC held a three-day public hearing where the OTP, victims’ representatives, the defense lawyer of the Afghan government and several civil society members presented their arguments against or in support of the Pre-Trial Chamber’s decision. After this public hearing, the Appeals Chamber of the ICC decided unanimously on 5 March, 2020, to authorize the Prosecutor to commence the investigation into the crimes committed on the territory of Afghanistan since 1 May 2003, as well as other crimes that have a nexus to the armed conflict in Afghanistan and were committed on the territory of other States Parties, including Poland, Romania and Lithuania by the US army and CIA.

Enraged by ICC’s actions, President Donald Trump issued an executive order  on 11 June, 2020, that authorized asset freezes and family travel bans against ICC officials and potentially targeted others who assist ICC investigations. In the executive order, Trump said that the authorization of investigation into US war crimes in Afghanistan threatens “to infringe upon the sovereignty of the United States and impede the critical national security and foreign policy work of United States Government and allied officials”. Building upon these unfounded claims, he went on to say: “I therefore determine that any attempt by the ICC to investigate, arrest, detain, or prosecute any United States personnel…constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.” All these statements amount to an arrogant declaration of impunity for any American involved in war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. Furthermore, through these conceited declarations, the US is blatantly asserting that it is justified to kill people in pursuit of expansionist aims.

USA’s Contorted Arguments

In view of the audacity shown by the ICC in authorizing the Afghanistan investigation, new sanctions have been imposed on two ICC officials in the contemporary period. To legitimize its aggressive actions against the ICC, the US has relied on contorted legal arguments.

Repeatedly, the US has declared that it is not a party to the Rome Statute that created the ICC and, being a non-signatory national, is not bound by the norms created by the ICC. Contrary to this reasoning, the core crimes within the ICC’s jurisdiction-genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes-are crimes of universal jurisdiction and thus, the nationals of the US can be subject to prosecution before the court. Echoing this point, the UN General Assembly has declared: “States shall co-operate with each other on a bilateral and multilateral basis with a view to halting and preventing war crimes and crimes against humanity, and shall take the domestic and international measures necessary for that purpose.” Moreover, nationals of non-Party States have long been exposed to potential prosecution without the consent of their governments. The US itself has accepted this by becoming party to treaties such as the Geneva Conventions and the UN Convention against Torture which obligate the parties to pursue the malefactor regardless of whether they are a national of a state that is party to the treaty in question.

By punishing the ICC for attempting to expose the barbarism of its war on Afghanistan, the US has overtly outlined the coercive foundations upon which its empire is built. Slowly and steadily, it is becoming clear that the US is guided by imperialist interests and is willing to flout any law to expand its empire.

The post USA’s Strangulation of the International Criminal Court first appeared on Dissident Voice.