Category Archives: International Law

War in Ukraine: Provocations, Belligerents and Their Objectives, Spurious Arguments, Outcomes, Our Task

Since Russia’s military operation commenced on Feb 24, the socialist left has been divided in its response to the armed conflict in Ukraine.  On one side are those who align with the US, NATO, and their client state in Kyiv in denouncing Russia as the only real villain.  On the opposing side are those who recognize the conflict as the outcome of the West’s new cold war against Russia and the post-coup regime in Ukraine as a willing pawn of the West in that new cold war.  There are also many who condemn both: Russia for its February 24 action and the US and NATO for their provocations against Russia’s national security concerns.

Purpose herein.  This critique neither endorses nor condemns Russia’s action.  It does, however, take issue with arguments proffered by those leftists who have evaded, or failed to ascertain, the relevant facts and context of the event.  In fact, much of the liberal left has responded by joining the US and its NATO allies in portraying the Kyiv regime as an innocent victim of “unjustified” or even “unprovoked” Russian aggression.  Actually, the key fact is that the war in Ukraine would not have occurred but for the machinations and provocations by Western imperialism using the Kyiv regime as a pawn against Russia which (with China) had become an obstacle to Western imperialism’s pursuit of total domination of the world.

Unprovoked?  Some of the evaded facts. 

The US and NATO violated their promise that NATO would not expand into central and eastern Europe, promise given in 1990 in order to obtain needed Soviet consent to the reunification of Germany.

The US placed nuclear-capable missiles (capable of striking Moscow, St Peterburg, et cetera) in Poland and Romania (planned from 2008, installed in 2018).  Not a provocation?  Do we remember how the US pushed the world to the brink of nuclear apocalypse when the USSR placed such missiles in Cuba after the US had placed similar missiles in Turkey?

NATO has repeatedly conducted war games, practicing for war against Russia, in the Baltic states on Russia’s border.

The US and NATO consistently responded to the past 25 years of Russian protests (of the foregoing NATO threats to Russian national security) with an arrogant intransigence; continued diplomacy was clearly not a viable means for obtaining redress.

The US, especially through its National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which has been funding and training anti-Russia pro-West political organizations in Ukraine (also in Belarus) since the collapse of the USSR.  It funds and trains pro-Western media and civil society organizations in scores of countries (including Russia itself).  NED was created in 1983 to replace the CIA as the principal US agency for surreptitiously promoting regime-change in countries (including democracies) which refuse to comply with US dictates.

The US incited and abetted the 2014 coup which, spearheaded by violent neo-Nazi militias, ousted the democratically elected government of Ukraine because said government had chosen to keep Ukraine neutral between Russia and the West.

The post-coup regime (far from innocent) has consistently pursued anti-Russia policies:

The US had been arming and training Ukrainian military forces, including the neo-Nazi Azov regiment, for military operations against the Donbas rebels.

There clearly was a great deal of provocation: by the US, by NATO, and by the post-coup regime in Ukraine.

The belligerents and their objectives.  To reduce this war to a case of evil Putin-Russia preying upon innocent Ukraine is simplistic to the point of ridiculous.  The current war is not simply between Russia and Ukraine.  The US and NATO, with their economic siege (draconian sanctions) against Russia and their supplying of huge amounts of lethal arms to Kyiv, are very much belligerents even though not putting their own soldiers into the fight.  The belligerents’ objectives.

  • The US-NATO objective (since the 2014 coup) has been to weaken Russia, to strip it of its limited sphere of influence, and to effectuate a regime change to replace Putin with someone who will be submissive to Western imperial dictates.
  • The post-coup Kyiv regime wanted and wants to impose ethnic Ukrainian dominance throughout the country, to eliminate Russian influence, to impose its absolute rule over predominantly-minority regions seeking autonomy or independence, and to integrate Ukraine into the West both economically and militarily.
  • Russia has been striving: to prevent the presence of hostile military bases (including nuclear-capable missiles) in neighboring Ukraine, and to protect the rights of ethnic Russians and Russia-friendly political factions in Crimea and Ukraine.

International law? The Russophobe part of the left is condemning Russia for its alleged “violations of international law” and “of the UN Charter.”  This oversimplifies and worse.

Firstly, it evades the fact that the Kyiv regime, with US encouragement and deliveries of ever more-lethal arms, remained intransigent in response to appeals by Russia and the breakaway Donbas Republics to resolve the Donbas conflict peacefully.  Kyiv was refusing to even talk to the leaders of said Republics and was evidently intent upon crushing them through brute military force.  Moreover, it was the coup regime in Kyiv which first resorted to violence when (in 2014) it sent armed forces, including neo-Nazi militias, to crush Donbas resistance to said coup.  Russia insists that its military action against Ukraine is, at least in part, a response to Kyiv’s aggression in Donbas, and, in fact, it was the Kyiv regime which first resorted to armed force.  Thus, Russia makes its case that its military action in Donbas was a justified response to Kyiv’s continued military aggression against the breakaway Donbas Republics, and therefore allowed under the UN Charter.  As for Russia’s invasion of the rest of Ukraine, Putin regards Kyiv’s collaboration with NATO’s increasing moves to threaten Russian national security as providing his justification; and, although some may regard that as an implausible stretch, it is not a clear-cut case of all right versus all wrong.

Secondly, in their legalistic diatribes against Russia, the US-NATO-aligned leftists generally say not one word regarding the repeated and massive violations of the UN Charter and of international law whenever said laws have stood in the way of the unjust aggressions by their own imperialist states:

  • arming violent reactionary insurgencies (such as the Mujahidin in Afghanistan and the Contras in Nicaragua) in resistant countries;
  • murderous economic sieges (Cuba, Iraq, Venezuela, Iran, …);
  • threatening war games (Baltic states, south Korea);
  • inciting and abetting coups, even against democratically-elected governments (Syria in 1949, Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, and dozens more);
  • assassinations and attempts (Lumumba, Castro, Qasim, Allende, Gaddafi, …);
  • interference in many other countries’ elections (beginning with Italy in 1948);
  • devastating murderous military interventions on the side of repressive reactionary regimes in other countries’ civil wars (China, Korea, Vietnam, Laos, …);
  • regime-change military invasions (Dominican Republic, Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Libya, …).

Many of those racist imperial interventions (scores of them since 1945) have left several tens of millions impoverished, displaced, injured, or dead.

Finally, none of those victims of Western imperial violations of international law were able to have it enforced against their oppressors.  In fact, the US and its major allies routinely violate the Charter and international law; and, given the lack of any authority with the power to enforce said law against them, they (its major violators) are never held accountable.  Nevertheless, our Russophobe leftists are now echoing the US-NATO one-sided application and misapplication of international law in order to justify their backing for the West’s new cold war against Russia.  They may argue that US crimes are a separate case and therefore irrelevant.  That is wrong because that argument is, in effect, calling for the worst outlaw in a lawless world to enforce the law against a lesser alleged offender notwithstanding that it is doing so solely in furtherance of its own crime.  This is giving de facto allegiance to the worst criminal gang in the world.

“Imperial Russia”?  Our Russophobe leftists make much of Putin’s Russia as an “autocratic,” “anti-democratic,” “imperialist” state.  Certainly, Putin’s ideology is highly reactionary; and there is much to fault in Russia’s domestic policies.  As for Russian imperialism, although striving to preserve its limited sphere of influence; it is primarily defensive.  It pales to insignificance in comparison with Western imperialism which dominates and oppresses most of the world and is led by the world’s only current superpower.  Moreover, Russia’s grievances against US-NATO imperialism and against the post-coup regime in Ukraine are real and valid.  Making an issue of Russia’s deficiencies, while evading that reality, is simply an irrelevant pretext embraced by those in need of an excuse for aligning with Biden, Stoltenberg, and the Kyiv regime against Putin’s Russia.

The national question?  Some Russophobe “Marxists” allege that Russia is violating the Leninist principle that nations such as Ukraine have the right to self-determination and separate existence as an independent nation-state.  Certainly, Putin’s statement, challenging the legitimacy of Ukraine as a country separate from Russia and expressing his romantic notion of a grandiose east Slavic nation, must be condemned.  However, substituting Putin’s fantasies for his actual deeds, and evident intentions, in order to justify siding with Western imperialism is both illogical and deceitful.  The relevant facts.

Firstly, Putin has clearly acknowledged the impossibility of resurrecting the Soviet Union.  He has evidenced no intent to deprive Ukraine of its existence as a separate independent country as long as it does not become a threat to Russian security; and he persisted for nearly 8 years in seeking Ukraine’s implementation of autonomy within Ukraine for the Donbas regions (as Kyiv had agreed to do in the 2014 and 2015 Minsk agreements) even though popular sentiment in said regions was for unification with Russia.  Nothing, that Russia did, prevented Kyiv from implementing the promised autonomy.

Secondly, these “Leninists” echo the US and NATO by branding Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its assistance to the breakaway Donbas regions as “violations of Ukrainian national sovereignty.”  So doing necessitates a gross oversimplification and misapplication of the national question as applied here.  These “Leninists,” like the US and NATO, insist upon the right of Ukrainians to have an independent country separate from Russia; but (contrary to Lenin) they deny the self-determination rights of smaller ethnic populations to even have autonomy within regions wherein they predominate.

Moreover, some of these “Leninists” try to justify their one-sided application of national rights by questioning whether the peoples of Crimea and Donbas actually wanted independence from, or autonomy within, Ukraine.  They have evidently rushed to judgment without bothering to ascertain the relevant factual evidence.

  • 1954.  Khrushchev orchestrated the decision (of dubious legality) to transfer Crimea from the Russian Soviet Republic to the Ukrainian SSR without the consent or approval of the people of Crimea.
  • 1991.  At the breakup of the USSR, Crimea’s elected leaders attempted to obtain recognition of Crimea as an independent Republic separate from Ukraine.
  • 1992.  After disputes between Kyiv and Crimea over the scope of Crimea’s autonomy, Kyiv agreed to a compromise recognition of Crimea as an Autonomist Republic within Ukraine.
  • 1995.  Kyiv abolished the Constitution of Crimea, abolished its office of President, made the elected Crimean parliament’s choice of its Prime Minister subject to veto by Kyiv, and imposed other severe limits upon its authority (largely negating its autonomy).
  • 2008.  Polling by the Ukrainian Center for Economic and Political Studies (not an agent of Moscow) found that 64% of Crimeans would like Crimea to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.
  • 2009—11.  The UN Development Programme (not an agent of Moscow) conducted periodic opinion polls in Crimea.  Each time, at least 65% of Crimeans favored Crimea leaving Ukraine and joining Russia.
  • Crimea’s break with Ukraine was a direct popular response to the US-backed 2014 coup in Kyiv.  Although Russia’s authorized military forces already based in Crimea assisted local forces in effectuating the independence referendum and the subsequent secession and reunion with Russia, those actions were welcomed by a huge majority of Crimeans most of whom were already so inclined.  Moreover, given the history of past denials of their self-determination rights by both Moscow (1954) and Kyiv (after breakup of the USSR); the people of Crimea had more than ample justification for seceding and reuniting with Russia.  Lenin, insisting that socialists are “the most consistent enemies of oppression,” would have agreed.

Our Russophobe “Leninists” have joined the US and NATO in insisting upon national rights for Ukrainians but denying such rights for the peoples of Crimea and Donbas.

Trap?  Some genuinely anti-imperialist analysts believe that the US, with its intransigence regarding Russian security concerns, deliberately set a trap for Russia; and there is precedent for that proposition.  Jimmy Carter (beginning in 1979) armed the reactionary Mujahidin insurgency against the Soviet-allied revolutionary government in Afghanistan: in order to provoke Soviet military intervention in defense of that government, and (as his national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski has stated) draw the USSR into a Vietnam-like quagmire.  A 2019 report titled “Overextending and Unbalancing Russia” by the US-military-funded think tank, Rand Corporation, proposed that the US goal should be “to undermine Russia just as it did the Soviet Union in the cold war.”  Until there is access to the internal communications of Biden’s national security team, we cannot say with certainty that they intended to trap Russia into a self-destructive war in Ukraine.  However, there was apparent advocacy for that policy within the US foreign-policy establishment.  That aside, our Russophobe “socialists” refuse to even acknowledge the clear fact that the US and NATO were acting to isolate and weaken Russia.  Why?  Because, with their distaste for Putin’s Russia, these “socialists” evidently share that objective.  Thus, they have all-too-willingly fallen into the trap of misdirected “anti-imperialism.”  So, when should anti-imperialists target Russia?  How about when, and if, Russia makes truly unprovoked attacks upon an independent country which is not allied with, or a pawn of, a hostile scheming Western imperialism.

Should imperial-state foreign military action ever be supported?  To insist upon opposing such military interventions, regardless of context, is dogmatic and wrong.  In exceptional events, socialists have appropriately supported such interventions.  Example: US and British empires against Nazi Germany (1939—45).  A recent case where it may be argued that such support was justified is US military assistance to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in their fight against the Islamic State (IS) Caliphate which was subjecting people in Syria and Iraq to horrendous persecutions pursuant to its medievalist perversion of Islam.  The US left was mostly silent with respect to US action in that event.  Had socialists expressed conditional support for that US military intervention (as I believe they should have), they would have been obligated at the same time to explain: (1) that the US was acting for its own interest and would otherwise not have cared about the victims of IS oppression, and (2) that the US would likely become a treacherous ally (as indeed it did in 2019 when it abandoned the SDF to attack by NATO ally Turkey).  The SDF is a popular revolutionary organization fighting for social justice.  The Kyiv regime is a repressive chauvinistic state and a willing pawn of US-NATO imperialism in the latter’s new cold war against Russia.  Huge difference.

Domestic politics.  Socialists, whatever their views of the war in Ukraine, are rightly concerned about the rise of bigoted reactionary political factions in the US and many other countries.  However, it is wrong to portray the capital-serving centrist-dominated supposedly “center-left” political parties as saviors of progress and “democracy”.  Those parties are thoroughgoing supporters of the imperialist military alliances and policies to which their governments are committed.  In fact, centrists have no progressive principles which they will not jettison whenever it becomes politically expedient to do so.  Actually, the increased influence of bigoted reaction and the electoral weakness of the center-left parties is a result of the latter’s subservience to capital and of their consequent failure, for the past 4 decades, to use their capacity, when in power, to improve conditions for most of their base working-class constituencies.  With growing homelessness, increasing inequality, declining labor unions, decreased job security, mushrooming debt bondage, and ever more disruptions of lives by climate disasters; conditions have actually worsened for much of that constituency.  Consequently, there is an increased tendency for many potential supporters to stay home on election day.

In the US, many liberal-reformist “socialists” give their allegiance to the Democrats despite the latter’s” longstanding betrayal of their working-class electoral base.  Although it is appropriate to tactically ally with centrist Democrat politicians when they actually fight for social justice and to support their election at the federal level in 2022 and 2024 in hope of reversing Trump-Republican attacks on voting and other democratic rights; it is necessary at the same time to educate the people as to the perfidy and betrayals of social justice by said Democrats.  Failure to so educate is: to tail after the agents of capital, and to perpetuate existing ignorance and prejudices within the populace.  Sadly, many liberal “socialists” downplay Democrat betrayals domestically, and they almost completely avoid challenging the Democrats’ allegiance to US hegemony over the world and the consequent imperial crimes in US foreign policies (especially when under Democrat Presidents).  Biden promised to end Trump’s new sanctions against Cuba; he has not.  He has also continued the economic sieges against Venezuela and other countries resisting US dictates.  He promised a non-racist and more humane policy on migrants; but he then summarily deported some 20,000 Haitians to hellish conditions in Haiti, and he now welcomes white European refugees from Ukraine.  Also, there are Biden’s past flip-flops on school bussing and tough-on-crime legislation as he pandered to racial prejudices among his voters.  For more on Democrat betrayals of social justice, see here.  Hence: temporary limited tactical alliances, yes; allegiance, no.

Those “socialists”, who give their allegiance to the Democratic Party, can only give lip-service to anti-imperialism.  So, when Democrats are in control, they mostly remain silent with respect to US imperial crimes against peoples in foreign lands.  They even become willfully blind to some of said crimes, as they ask people to vote for said Democrats (nearly all of whom subscribe to US interventionism based upon the notion of the US being the world’s “indispensable nation” and champion of “freedom” and “democracy”).

Outcomes.  While the US and NATO send ever increased and ever more lethal weapons which serve to prolong the horrors of this war, it is Ukrainian and Russian (not NATO-country) fighters and civilians who suffer and die.  This despite the reality that Russia’s peace terms (neutrality and no hostile bases in Ukraine plus respect for the self-determination rights of Donbas and Crimea), both before and since its invasion, are entirely reasonable.  Regardless of who prevails, both Russia and Ukraine will have paid a huge price.  Meanwhile, transnational capital, especially in the arms industry and fossil fuel companies, will reap increased profits.  If Russia obtains its objectives, that will weaken a defeated Western imperialism.  If Russia is ultimately compelled to give up in defeat and humiliation: the US hold over Europe will be solidified, Western imperialism will be greatly emboldened to intensify its new cold against China, and it will have a freer hand as it perpetrates its crimes against other resistant countries.  Yet, our Russophobe leftists refuse to oppose more arms to Ukraine.

Principal contradiction.  Portside (a very moderately left-leaning online publication) published a solidly anti-imperialist analysis of the Ukraine war by the US Peace Council (USPC), subsequently indicating that it did so in order to present an alternative viewpoint with which Portside did not agree.  Shortly thereafter, Portside published 11 comments in response to the USPC statement, all but one opposing the USPC analysis, several in very condemnatory words.  Two of those joined a number of other Russophobe leftist commentators in denouncing the anti-imperialist analysis as the “anti-imperialism of fools” or “idiots”.  A third, namely prominent “Marxist” (Carl Davidson), commented that the principal contradiction in this conflict is “the Russian invasion of a sovereign nation and Ukraine’s defense of their sovereignty”.  Evidently, Russophobe “socialists” such as Davidson have decided that the contradiction between Western imperialism and its victims throughout most of the world is no longer the principal one for anti-imperialists.  Being in sync with the US and NATO in this Ukraine conflict, they have become social patriots.  A social patriot is any avowed socialist who supports and whitewashes the predatory imperial aggressions of his/her own imperialist state against another state and justifies so doing by branding the opposing state as the sole villain.

Our task.  We may consider Russia’s Ukraine response to be an inappropriate excess or imprudent or both, and we may fault Russian methods in its military operations; but we have no capacity to influence Russia’s decisions.  Our job, as anti-imperialists in the West, is to condemn and vigorously oppose US-NATO imperialism (including arms to Ukraine and sanctions against Russia) as well as the mainstream media’s grossly one-sided and extremely deceptive portrayals.  It is not to tail after the misinformed public and the Democrat politicians (who are all too eager to support: the bipartisan imperialistic foreign policy consensus, the massive military spending, and the cold wars against the peoples of countries which resist US dictates).  We should recognize that said Democrats (with very few exceptions) readily jettison their anti-racist and other progressive pretensions whenever it becomes politically expedient to do so.  “Anti-imperialists,” who evade the reality of the Ukraine War being the result of Western imperial machinations and provocations so as to simplistically blame it solely upon Putin’s Russia (while exonerating the US, NATO, and the Kyiv regime), become social patriots serving the real imperialist enemy of peoples throughout the world.  We must avoid shifting our focus onto the faults (real and imagined) of Russia; we must persist in supporting the fight against that real enemy, even though we will be defamed as “Putin apologists,” “fools,” and “idiots.”

Image credit: Marxist-Leninism Today

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Not by Bread Alone, but Mainly by Platitudes

Unlike many who seem to believe that freedom of movement (since 2020 extinguished in the EU) must mean an end to national borders, I have only felt that borders should be recognised as the product of political will and history.

In the entrance to the museum at the Invalides in Paris there is a quote attributed to Charles de Gaulle, “France was made with the sword.” The idea that anywhere in Europe especially borders are natural or that they are defined by some innate qualities is absurd.1

However, following the principles first proposed in international law (by the British, speaking through their ventriloquist Woodrow Wilson) that nations were to be recognised based on ethnic or language “self-determination”, the only peoples permitted to exercise such political will were granted their “patent” by the British Empire after the Great War. This was consistent with British policy of dismembering all its competitors; e.g., Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. The October Revolution seemed to offer Britain and its US partner the opportunity to redesign the Russian Empire too.

In order to defeat those forces, a brutal war had to be waged and the system of soviet republics was created both to endow many non-Russian populations with elements of self-determination and to defend the territorial integrity of the Russian Revolution.2 We know that Ukraine emerged as a modern state in this context. War, civil war, and negotiation created a state out of the eastern remnants of Austria-Hungary, Poland and Russia. Such configurations have always benefitted British (today Anglo-American) imperial interests. Precisely those qualities were to promote the use of Ukraine against Russia, in the way Croatia has been used against Serbia but on a far greater scale.

In the entrance to the museum at the Invalides in Paris there is a quote attributed to Charles de Gaulle, “France was made with the sword.”

British objectives have always been to use “cultural” weapons to create or maintain internally fragmented states which can be manipulated through federal structures dependent upon external arms and finance. All of the white dominions of the British Empire were created as federations ruled from above.3 There was clearly legitimate fear among those who supported nationalism in the US that the British would subvert the federal system to their advantage, especially during the Civil War. In fact, they obtained this goal in 1913 and consolidated it by 1918 through the “Bank of England” model of public-private partnership.4 But that is another story.

A major source of confusion in the debate about Ukraine and Russia’s incursion is the question of Ukrainian sovereignty, on which a wide range of people oppose Russia’s actions because it should not attack a sovereign state (naively drawing on the prohibitions of the UN Charter). Moreover, the claim that Russia should not have violated Ukrainian sovereignty is based on the erroneous belief that Ukraine was invaded. This assertion is based on ignorance. Quite aside from the international-law issues posed by the sovereign claims of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR), and hence whether they could exert sovereign rights to conclude treaties and hence invite military aid, there is the long-standing original threat and active aggression of NATO in and through Ukraine’s governments. The recognition of sovereignty does not outweigh the right of self-defense.5 The fact that the Russian Federation has not engaged in military retaliation for multiple violations of its territory does not mean that it has waived or forfeited those territorial rights. 6

That is the ultimate premise upon which most of the critique and attack on Russian military action has been based. There is a principle of English common law by which the convention of traversing private property can create a prescriptive easement – a right of way – which the titular owner of the property can no longer obstruct.7 Title must be actively and conspicuously asserted to remain enforceable. This is augmented by the concept of adverse possession whereby a party may assert title to land occupied for a given period and have that title sustained against the original owner by virtue of that owner’s failure or neglect to challenge the possession. In other words, there is no such thing as absolute title: it must always be effectively asserted.

Common law, while not necessarily enshrined in statutes, can be seen as an expression of the underlying social and psychological conventions prevailing in a regime. Although a nation-state would not appear comparable with a private home or farm, the material beliefs held and practiced in daily life do shape the prejudices of those who debate politics and political concepts. That is what makes this kind of law “common” – as opposed to the details of statutes or treaties.

The Anglo-American view of sovereignty is implemented by people for whom such fluid ideas of property, title and boundaries are conventional. This can be seen throughout the 19th and 20th centuries in every aspect of international-law practice. Even the so-called international judiciary has been formed or deformed by such assumptions, with some contradictory concessions to continental jurisprudence. The extremes to which disputes in Britain and the US lead to litigation are also an indication of the operational instability of legal conventions and norms – and of the level of aggression in everyday violation of whatever norms may be created by statute or courts.

NATO often appears absurd because its continental European bureaucrats utter pronouncements wholly at odds with their own cultural and legal traditions in order to articulate the policies generated by their Anglo-American principals. On the other hand this is part of the Anglo-American sleight of hand: framing their imperial designs in the alien terms of continental European politics. No amount of fealty or obsequy can conceal the fact that neither Stoltenberg nor Von der Leyen are natural “common law” politicians.8 That is one reason their insincerity is so blatant. They both try to present essentially Anglo-American imperial objectives as if they were continental peninsular. Their statements are incredulous and can be dismissed on their face. The real issue — which they are employed to conceal — is the anti-Russian policy of the Anglo-American Empire. To rectify the name of this policy and the actions derived from it would openly deny any pretense of sovereignty in occupied Germany and the vassal monarchies that comprise the core of NATO.9

So to return to the debate about the war that continued with Russia’s military response in the Ukraine, the issues ought to be described in the way the antagonists actually see them and not using the distorted language of professional propagandists.

The world has been at war no later than when behind the pretext of a constructive “emergency of international concern” — an asset of the Anglo-American international organisation cartel — presented the fictive requirements for a global state of martial law.10 Let us call it what it is. Martial law is imposed for a state of war. The enemy in this case was the world’s ordinary population — the 99% some would say. As I wrote two years ago, the WHO exercised implied authority to empower the Anglo-American Empire to commence a global counter-insurgency.11 Like similar counter-insurgency wars fought by that Empire, the focus of operations has been the global drug-weapons-energy cartel. This cartel is managed by the espionage organisations and organised criminal gangs shielded by US-UK forces and those of their closest allies.12

Under these conditions of global counter-insurgency, the Anglo-American Empire has intensified its operations (war) against its historical enemies/competitors Russia and China. The guiding principle by which this war is fought in the saturation propaganda of the biggest psychological operation since the founding of the Roman Catholic Church can be stated simply: Use it or lose it. There are no human rights, civil rights or sovereign rights which the Anglo-American Empire is obliged to respect. The only rights anyone has are those that the person or nation actually exercises. That exercise must be “open and notorious” (the words comes from common law meaning generally known and as such undeniable).

Beginning in March 2020 most of the world’s citizenry was tricked and bullied into surrendering all their natural rights.13 Now, two years later, they are finding just how difficult it is to counter adverse possession of all they surrendered under martial law. At the same time, “astute” observers have failed to take seriously the trespass of NATO and other forces of the Anglo-American Empire’s cartels. They have willfully ignored the conspicuous assertion of sovereign rights and privileges by Russia (and China). They have downplayed or ignored – when not apologising for – the violations committed since 1991 (at least).

The Russian Federation, pursuant to the decisions of its highest legislative and executive bodies, ordered deployment of military force to actively and conspicuously assert its sovereign rights against a government controlling a territory adjacent to it which has collaborated in attacks on its territory and people, violating those sovereign rights. Thus, consistent with the more general (as opposed to Anglo-American) concepts of international law, it is engaged in the right to self-defense. This claim is not diminished or forfeited either by failure to so act earlier or by the refusal of the opposing party to acknowledge violations committed.

The end of the military operations by forces of the Russian Federation in Ukraine can only be considered in the context of a resolution (dare anyone say “end”) of the world war commenced by the Anglo-American Empire in 2020. Threats by agents and assets of that regime to continue guerrilla war against Russia in Ukraine only amplify the necessity of grasping the Russian actions in Ukraine as a response to Anglo-American aggression. Until the subjects of that Empire are capable of grasping that and accepting responsibility for that aggression (not only against Russia) and reasserting those human rights they forfeited to their criminal oligarchs two years ago, (not only) central Europe will remain a very messy place indeed.

  1. The cultural historian Morse Peckham was fond of saying that “man does not live by bread alone, but mainly by platitudes.” Historically Ukraine has been a “bread basket”. Germany has certainly been able to turn much of its arable land into fields of biomass because Western domination of the Ukrainian economy permits importation of cheap grain from Ukrainian fields. Many of the strategic goals of Unternehmen Barbarossa (the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union) lay in Ukraine: grain, oil, access to the Black Sea, etc. historically, the West has only paid lip service to Ukrainian sovereignty.
  2. In his address to the Russian people on 21 February 2022, Vladimir Putin credited Lenin with the creation of the Ukraine as a republic. He argued that this—as part of Lenin’s policy for the nationalities issue—was intended to assure Bolshevik control over Russia. Putin presents himself as an opponent of the Soviet Union, hence he considers such a policy negative and a violation of Russian sovereignty. However, Lenin was not immune to the problems of suppressing foreign intervention in the Russian civil war—of which the US was a part with troops in Russia until 1921. Lenin had to accommodate both the Wilsonian ideology and the threatened disintegration of Russia through foreign invasion. The Soviet Union would not have been the first federal state to factually deny the formal conditions of federation; e.g. the US Civil War.
  3. The “white dominions” were those constituents of the empire covered by the Statute of Westminster (1931): Australia, Canada, Irish Free State, Newfoundland (which was not yet part of Canada), New Zealand, and the Union of South Africa. Conspicuously absent was India. Along with India, the rest of the British Empire was not “self-governing”.
  4. The Federal Reserve Act (1913) was based on the Aldrich Plan conceived secretly at the so-called Jekyll Island conference (1910). The design of the Federal Reserve System was based on many key features of the Bank of England, a privately owned bank with monopoly powers over the country’s money. Coherence with the BoE model was assured by the participation of the Warburg and Morgan interests. Although the Aldrich Plan failed in Congress, a modified version was adopted. The key element was the private control of the nation’s monetary system—as in the UK.
  5. The US circumvented the  ostensible intent of the UN Charter to enshrine the prohibition of war (the 1928 ”Kellogg-Briand Pact”, General Treaty for Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy) and establish the UN as the sole venue for international disputes, with the Security Council responsible for the use of force by including provisions that permitted so-called “collective security” arrangements. This sleight of hand was used to justify the creation of NATO outside the UN framework. NATO has commonly been portrayed as a defence against the Soviet-led “Warsaw Pact”. This too is propaganda. NATO was founded before the Warsaw Pact. The Soviet Union only initiated its own collective security agreement after US bombing of the Soviet Union while the US was waging war against Korea and China (1951-53).
  6. In Putin’s address to the Russian nation on 24 February 2022, he detailed the NATO transgressions which Russia had endured since 1991. Many of these went unreported or under-reported at the time. Rick Rozoff (Anti-Bellum) has been posting blow-by-blow reports of NATO actions all along Russia’s border for years using NATO press releases and official publications for operations from Estonia to Kazakhstan.
  7. The inception of a prescriptive easement can be prevented by appropriately defending the ownership rights. A well-known example is the closure of the central court of Rockefeller Plaza in New York City (where the ice rink is) for one day in the year to interrupt the period of otherwise continuous public access that would create such a prescriptive easement.
  8. Jens Stoltenberg is the Norwegian NATO General Secretary. Ursula von der Leyen is the President of the European Commission, the junta that runs the European Union on behalf of its multi-national corporate cartels.
  9. While it is tempting to assume that NATO is comprised of democracies, the fact is that core members are monarchies; e.g., United Kingdom, Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Norway, and Spain. Until 1974, NATO included outright dictatorships like Portugal, Spain, Greece and Turkey. Constitutionalism notwithstanding, monarchy has been an essential part of NATO’s political culture.
  10. The declaration of a “health emergency of international concern“ by the Gates-dominated, Rockefeller-founded World Health Organization in 2020 was only possible by regulatory manipulation and statutory deception perpetrated after the 2009 “Swine Flu pandemic“. The definition of “pandemic” was changed. This bureaucratic fraud has been discussed everywhere except by the general public which is still misled by official deceit.
  11. In Dissident Voice: From Rags to Riches (2 April 2020) “The First Circle” (24 April 2020), “Economic Epidemic” (2 May 2020), “The Fourth Circle” (29 September 2020). See also “The Military and Intelligence  Origins of Public Health” (1 October 2021) and The Real Anthony Fauci, reviewed there.
  12. Douglas Valentine, The CIA as Organised Crime, also  reviewed by this author.
  13. George Carlin rendered a very sober summary of the problem of rights, as popularly understood in the West –“Rights and Privileges”.
The post Not by Bread Alone, but Mainly by Platitudes first appeared on Dissident Voice.

“Honest mistakes”: How the US and Israel justify the targeting and killing of civilians

An “honest mistake” is buying your partner the wrong perfume or copying someone into an email chain by accident. It is not firing a drone missile at a car, killing 10 civilians – and doing so when a small child was clearly visible moments earlier.

And yet, a supposedly “independent” Pentagon inquiry this month claimed just such a good-faith mistake after US commanders authorised a drone strike in late August that killed an Afghan family, including seven children. A US air force general concluded that there was no negligence or misconduct, and that no disciplinary action should be taken.

At the weekend, the Pentagon exonerated itself again. It called a 2019 air strike on Baghuz in Syria that killed dozens of women and children “justified”. It did so even after an investigation by the New York Times showed that the group of civilians who were bombed had already been identified as fleeing fighting between US-backed militias and the Islamic State group.

A US military lawyer, Dean Korsak, flagged the incident at the time as a potential war crime but the Pentagon never carried out an investigation. It came to public attention only because Korsak sent details to a Senate oversight committee.

In announcing the conclusions of its Afghanistan inquiry, the Pentagon made clear what its true priorities are in the wake of its hurried, Saigon-style exit from Afghanistan following two decades of failed occupation. It cares about image management, not accountability.

Contrast its refusal to take action against the drone operators and commanders who fired on a civilian vehicle with the Pentagon’s immediate crackdown on one of its soldiers who criticised the handling of the withdrawal. Veteran marine Stuart Scheller was court-martialled last month after he used social media to publicly berate his bosses.

Which of the two – Scheller’s comment or the impunity of those who killed an innocent family – is likely to do more to discredit the role of the US military, in Afghanistan or in other theatres around the globe in which it operates?

Colonial narrative

The Pentagon is far from alone in expecting to be exempted from scrutiny for its war crimes.

The “honest mistake” is a continuing colonial narrative western nations tell themselves, and the rest of us, when they kill civilians. When western troops invade and occupy other people’s lands – and maybe help themselves to some of the resources they find along the way – it is done in the name of bringing security or spreading democracy. We are always the Good Guys, they are the Evil Ones. We make mistakes, they commit crimes.

This self-righteousness is the source of western indignation at any suggestion that the International Criminal Court at The Hague should investigate, let alone prosecute, US, European and Israeli commanders or politicians for carrying out or overseeing war crimes.

It is only African leaders or enemies of Nato who need to be dragged before tribunals and made to pay a price. But nothing in the latest Pentagon inquiry confirms the narrative of an “honest mistake”, despite indulgent coverage in western media referring to the drone strike as “botched”.

Even the establishment of the inquiry was not honest. How is it “independent” for a Pentagon general to investigate an incident involving US troops?

The drone operators who killed the family of Zemerai Ahmadi, an employee of a US aid organisation, were authorised to do so because his white Toyota Corolla was mistaken for a similar vehicle reported as belonging to the local franchise of Islamic State. But that make is one of the most common vehicles in Afghanistan.

The head of the aid organisation where he worked told reporters pointedly: “I do not understand how the most powerful military in the world could follow [Mr Ahmadi], an aid worker, in a commonly used car for eight hours, and not figure out who he was, and why he was at a US aid organisation’s headquarters.”

The decision was, at best, recklessly indifferent as to whether Ahmadi was a genuine target and whether children would die as a result. But more likely, when it attacked Ahmadi’s vehicle, the entire US military system was in the grip of a blinding thirst for revenge. Three days earlier, 13 American soldiers and 169 Afghan civilians had been killed when a bomb exploded close to Kabul airport, as Afghans massed there in the hope of gaining a place on one of the last evacuation flights.

That airport explosion was the final military humiliation – this one inflicted by Islamic State – after the Taliban effectively chased American troops out of Afghanistan. Revenge – even when it is dressed up as restoring “deterrence” or “military honour” – is not an “honest mistake”.

Pattern of behaviour

But there is an even deeper reason to be sceptical of the Pentagon inquiry. There is no “honest mistake” defence when the same mistakes keep happening. “Honest mistakes” can’t be a pattern of behaviour.

And yet the long years of US occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, and meddling in Syria, have been pockmarked with air strikes that obliterated families or slammed into wedding parties. That information rarely makes headlines, eclipsed by the Pentagon’s earlier, faulty claims of the successful “neutralisation of terrorists”.

But just such “mistakes” were the reason why the US occupation of Afghanistan ultimately imploded. The Pentagon’s scatter-gun killing of Afghans created so many enemies among the local population that US-backed local rulers lost all legitimacy.

Something similar happened during the US and UK’s occupation of Iraq. Anyone who believes the Pentagon commits “honest mistakes” when it kills civilians needs to watch the video, Collateral Murder, issued by WikiLeaks in 2012.

It shows the aerial view of helicopter pilots in 2007 as they discuss with a mix of technical indifference and gruesome glee their missile strikes on a crowd of Iraqis, including two Reuters journalists, moving about on the streets of Baghdad below.

When a passing van tries to come to the aid of one of wounded, the pilots fire again, even though a child is visible in the front seat. In fact, two children were found inside the van. US soldiers arriving at the scene made the decision to deny both treatment from US physicians.

As the pilots were told of the casualties, one commented: “Well, it’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle.” The other responded: “That’s right.”

Before the video was leaked, the military claimed that the civilians killed that day had been caught in the crossfire of a gun battle. “There is no question that coalition forces were clearly engaged in combat operations against a hostile force,” a statement read.

The video, however, shows that there was nothing honest or mistaken about the way those Iraqis died, even if there was no specific intention to kill civilians. They were killed because US commanders were uninterested in the safety of those it occupied, because they were indifferent to whether Iraqis, even Iraqi children, lived or died.

Killing innocents

The states that cry loudest that they kill innocents “by accident” or “unintentionally” or because “the terrorists shield behind them” are also the ones that keep killing innocents.

Israel’s version of this is the “tragic mistake” – the excuse it used in 2014 when its navy fired two precision missiles at a beach in Gaza at exactly the spot where four boys were playing football. They were killed instantly. In seven weeks of pummelling Gaza in 2014, Israel killed more than 500 Palestinian children and more than 850 adult civilians. And yet all were apparently “honest mistakes” because no soldiers, commanders or politicians were ever held to account for those deaths.

Palestinian civilians keep dying year after year, decade after decade, and yet they are always killed by an “honest mistake”. Israel’s excuses are entirely unconvincing for the same reason the Pentagon’s carry no weight.

Both have committed their crimes in another people’s territory to which they have not been invited. Both militaries rule over those people without good cause, treating the local population as “hostiles”. And both act in the knowledge that their soldiers enjoy absolute impunity.

In reaching its decision on the killing of the Afghan family this month, the Pentagon stated that it had not “broken the law“. That verdict too is not honest. What the US military means is that it did not break its own self-serving rules of engagement, rules that permit anything the US military decides it wants to do. It behaves as if no laws apply to it when it invades others’ lands, not even the laws of the territories it occupies.

That argument is dishonest too. There are the laws of war and the laws of occupation. There is international law. The US has broken those laws over and over again in Afghanistan and Iraq, as has Israel in ruling over the Palestinians for more than five decades and blockading parts of their territory.

The problem is that there is no appetite to enforce international law against the planet’s sole military superpower and its allies. Instead it is allowed to claim the role of benevolent global policeman.

No scrutiny

Both the US and Israel declined to ratify the Rome Statute, which established the International Criminal Court (ICC) that judges war crimes. That refusal was no “honest mistake” either. Each expected to avoid the court’s scrutiny.

US and Israeli leaders know their soldiers commit war crimes, and that they themselves commit war crimes by approving either the wars of aggression these soldiers are expected to wage or the messy, long-term belligerent occupations they are supposed to enforce.  But whatever they hope, the failure to ratify the statute does not serve as a stay-out-of-jail card. US and Israeli leaders still risk falling under the ICC’s jurisdiction if the countries they invade or occupy have ratified the statute, as is the case with Afghanistan and Palestine.

The catch is that the Hague court can be used only as a last resort – in other words, it has to be shown first that any country accused of war crimes failed to seriously investigate those crimes itself.

The chorus from the US and Israel of “honest mistake” every time they kill civilians is just such proof. It demonstrates that the US and Israeli legal systems are entirely incapable of upholding the laws of war, or holding their own political and military officials to account. That must be the job of the ICC instead.

But the court is fearful. The Trump administration launched a mafia-style campaign against it last year to stop its officials investigating US war crimes in Afghanistan. The assets of the court’s officials were blocked and they were denied the right to enter the US.

That is the reason why the court keeps failing to stand up for the victims of western war crimes like Zemerai Ahmadi and his children. The ICC had spent 15 years dragging its feet before it finally announced last year that it would investigate allegations of US war crimes in Afghanistan. That resolve quickly dissolved under the subsequent campaign of pressure.

In September, shortly after Ahmadi’s family was killed by US drone operators, the court’s chief prosecutor declared that investigations into US actions in Afghanistan, including widespread claims of torture of Afghans, would be “deprioritised.” The investigation would focus instead on the Taliban and Islamic State.

Once again, enemies of the US, but not the US itself, will be called to account. That too is no “honest mistake”.

• First published in Middle East Eye

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US undercuts the rules-based order

The US has been targeting China by expressing a concern that China does not or will not act according to a ‘rules-based’ order. This column examines how well the US follows the rules, especially international laws, it played a key role in developing. For example, two key articles in the United Nations Charter stress the importance of non-intervention.

UN Charter

Among other points in Article 2 in Chapter I states:

The Organization is based on the principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members.


Chapter VII of the UN Charter also states that any intervention requires the approval of the UN Security Council. Article 51 of this chapter does allow a nation to promptly act in self defense against an armed attack until the Security Council can act.

These are some crucial planks of international law describing how nations should relate to one another. The sovereign equality of all nations helps to protect smaller nations from attacks by more powerful nations.

Shameful US Record

Unfortunately we have seen numerous occasions when the US has failed to comply with international law, and this failure has often led to disastrous results for the victims of US crimes. William Blum’s powerful and informative 2004 book Killing Hope: US Military and C.I.A. Interventions Since World War 11 documents over 50 US interventions since 1945. The 2003 US-led attack on Iraq, without support of the UN Security Council, is one of the more egregious 21st-century war crimes committed by the US. This attack led to the destabilization and devastation of much of the Middle East.

Besides this devastation, US violations have greatly undercut international law and made a mockery the idea of a rules-based order. Making matters worse, the US has faced no punishment for its war crimes, including no requirement to pay just reparations for its wanton destruction of nations.

Undermining Responsibility to Protect

Another piece of international law adopted in 2005 is the responsibility to protect people at risk of genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. This principle calls upon international intervention to pressure an offending nation into stopping the abuses. Unfortunately the legitimacy of the implementation of this law has been weakened due to its politicization by the US and its NATO allies as well as by the horror at the level of devastation wreaked on the targeted nations. Libya and Syria are two appalling 21st-century examples of nations that have been targeted and devastated.

Unilateral Sanctions

Even if US forces and drones were not continuing to terrorize peoples around the world, the US would still be at war, conducting lethal and illegal economic warfare through the use of its unilateral sanctions. The US began employing unilateral sanctions before the demise of the Soviet Union, and it continues to commit these crimes with little-to-no concern about the suffering they cause. In fact, 39 countries with about 1/3 of the world’s population are currently sanctioned by the US.

To sell its sanctions to the public, the US usually claims a humanitarian reason for imposing sanctions against other nations. The US corporate-controlled media dutifully plays its role in the public relations campaign. In addition, due to media dereliction, the public seldom discovers that the real goal of the sanctions program is often to coerce a change in policy or the overthrow of a government that is not sufficiently subservient to US corporate interests.

Sanctions are often the weapon of choice of the US policy elite. The imposition of sanctions doesn’t require a military intervention and thus it is wrongly viewed as being a peaceful alternative to war. US soldiers don’t get killed and, as a result, the US media and public generally pay little attention to the imposition. In addition, the US public is also kept in the dark about the enormous price civilians in these other nations are paying as a result of the illegal sanctions.

For example, UN Special Rapporteur Alfred De Zayas visited Venezuela soon after the imposition of U.S. financial sanctions in 2017. “Modern-day economic sanctions and blockades are comparable with medieval sieges of towns,” De Zayas wrote. “Twenty-first century sanctions attempt to bring not just a town, but sovereign countries to their knees.”  De Zayas’s report recommended that the International Criminal Court should investigate U.S. sanctions against Venezuela as a crime against humanity.

From an article in the March 18, 2020 Lancet, the authors wrote about the sanctions against Iran during the covid crisis:

Although sanctions do not seem to be physical warfare weapons, they are just as deadly, if not more so. Jeopardising the health of populations for political ends is not only illegal but also barbaric. We should not let history reAlthough sanctions do not seem to be physical warfare weapons, they are just as deadly, if not more so. peat itself; more than half a million Iraqi children and nearly 40 000 Venezuelans were killed as a result of UN Security Council and US sanctions in 1994 and 2017–18, respectively.

The global health community should regard these sanctions as war crimes and seek accountability for those who impose them.

Complicity of Western Media and Human Rights Groups

The US and other Western media play vital roles in these crimes by hyping US claims of alleged human rights abuses in an attempt to create popular support for these interventions. Disappointingly, human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International also have a very spotty record of calling out alleged abuses of nations the US views as enemies while often downplaying those of the US and its allies.

As a result of this complicity, the US public in particular is kept in the dark about US war crimes and crimes against humanity. If the US public believes anything, it’s that the US is acting for a good cause in its interventions, whether they be the use of military force, the use of sanctions, the use of threats, or the plotting and implementing coups against non-compliant leaders of other nations.

People of other nations understand better the criminality and reality of US actions. They also are concerned about the stationing of US troops in a large number of nations around the world. Thus when US political and military leaders and pundits pontificate about the rules-based order, people around the world are not taken in by US hypocrisy. Instead, they view the US as the biggest threat to world peace and as the biggest threat to democracy according to surveys.

Unless the US public finally learns the truth and forces our leaders to join the community of nations working collaboratively on climate change and the prevention of nuclear war, the future is incredibly bleak.

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Free Alex Saab Delegation at the African Bar Association

An international Free Alex Saab delegation attended the October 3-7 annual meeting of the African Bar Association in Niamey, Niger. Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab has been under arrest in Cabo Verde since June 2020 by orders of the US and is fighting extradition to Miami. His “crime” is organizing humanitarian missions to procure food and medicine for Venezuela in violation of the illegal US blockade.

The Free Alex Saab delegation was composed of Canadian John Philpot, a lawyer specializing in international law, who represented the American Association of Jurists and regularly attends AFBAR conferences; Cabo Verdean-American Bishop Filipe Teixeira, who traveled to Cabo Verde in June in support of Mr. Saab; Venezuelan Laila Taj El Dine, a diplomat to the United Nations, lawyer, university professor, and international analyst; and Venezuelan Pedro Carvajalino, media specialist.

African Bar Association welcomes the international Free Alex Saab delegation

The Free Alex Saab delegation was well received by the conference, attended by many honored African leaders, including President of Niger Mohamed Bazoum along with the former presidents of Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. Some conferees were already familiar with the egregious US judicial over-reach, which resulted in Mr. Saab being seized from his airplane, when it made a fuel stop in Cabo Verde on its way from Caracas to Tehran.

The fifty-year-old African Bar Association (AFBAR) is as a professional body uniting individual lawyers and national legal associations in Africa. The association brings together the five African sub-regional associations spread over the continent. AFBAR seeks to foster policies to better the continent’s socio-economic and political development.

AFBAR President Hannibal Uwaifo delivered the opening address on respecting the Rule of Law in strong opposition to military coups. A theme running through the conference was the importance of resolving African problems in Africa free from western interference. For example, AFBAR will not support cooperation with the International Criminal Court investigation of the Nigerian military and Boko Haram unless the investigation includes how Boko Haram is financed.

One participant, a young lawyer, explained that independence requires full national economic and military control. In his opinion, with French and especially US military presence in many countries, politicians may take their orders from the outside powers.

Some African countries are independent such as Algeria, which rigorously controls its own borders and its economy without neo-colonial control. Evidently Cabo Verde, one of the smallest and poorest countries in the world, finds it difficult to resist US pressure regarding Mr. Saab.

Conference upholds ECOWAS Court decision to free Alex Saab

The regional Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) Court had ordered Cabo Verde to not only release but pay $200,000 in damages to Mr. Saab. That was on March 15, 2021, and Cabo Verde has still not complied with the court order. Nevertheless, Cabo Verde had signed and ratified the treaty creating the court, attended the hearings, is a full member of ECOWAS, and has at least one judge on the court.

As the AFBAR conference reaffirmed, it is the duty of the bar associations to advocate for the ECOWAS Court. The conference session on the ECOWAS Court explained clearly that it was not an appeal court, but an international court of primary jurisdiction created by treaty. The Saab delegation was afforded full status at the session, where delegates Felipe Teixeira and Laila El Dine spoke with AFBAR President Uwaifo in attendance.

Free Alex Saab press conference and Sanctions Kill report

The international Free Alex Saab Delegation held a press conference, presenting the case to local media for freeing the Venezuelan diplomat.

John Philpot presented and distributed copies of the “We don’t deserve this – the impact and consequences of US Sanctions” report, which addresses more broadly the unilateral coercive measures imposed on some three dozen countries – 15 of which are in Africa – comprising a third of humanity. Philpot, along with Rick Sterling and David Paul, authored the comprehensive report for the Sanctions Kill Coalition. A free PDF of the report is available online.

At a session on contemporary legal problems and the Rule of Law, Laila El Dine and John Philpot presented the Alex Saab case, raising issues which go to the substance of his illegal detention. AFBAR President Uwaifo once again spoke of the need to take positive action to ensure respect for March 15 ECOWAS Court decision.

John Philpot stressed that these critical cases can be won, citing the recent campaign release of Meng Wanzhou. She had been illegally detained by Canada for more than 1000 days on an attempt to extradite her concerning a transaction between a Chinese bank and Iran, allegedly in violation of US sanctions against Iran. US judicial overreach can threaten diplomats and businesspersons worldwide if this tendency is not terminated.

The closing session included resolutions followed by two press conferences, where the Free Alex Saab issue was further discussed and supported. The AFBAR press conferences, presided by Mr. Uwaifo, presented the Alex Saab defense issues including respect for the ECOWAS Court decision. International delegates El Dine, Philpot, and Teixeira spoke at the second press conference.

AFBAR has taken the issue of the ECOWAS Court seriously, although the vice president of the court lamented the lack of enforcement mechanisms. Proposals were offered such as imposing sanctions against Cabo Verde officials, which would be legally constructed as a function of the regional ECOWAS community and not illegally as with the unilateral US sanctions. Other measures considered were expelling Cabo Verde from the ECOWAS and special legal procedures. A committee was formed to take this issue on actively, presided by Chief Prosecutor of Liberia Sayma Syrenius Cephis.

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Britannia Turns Back The Boats

Pushing people back across borders; turning asylum seekers away from shores.  When such tactics were openly adopted and used with impunity by Australia’s navy and border force, it caused outrage and concern in the maritime community and pricked the interest of border protectionists the world over.

Disgust and outrage have, in time, been replaced by admiration at the sheer chutzpah of Australian governments such as Tony Abbott’s, who introduced a turn-back-the-boats policy as part of an electoral promise to better secure borders. This meant that vessels heading for Australia could be literally turned back towards Indonesia without a care in the world.  The drownings would not stop, nor would the danger to the passengers be alleviated; they would simply take place in international waters or the waters of another country.

Other countries duly followed.  Greece and Italy fashioned their own turn-back policies at sea.  The UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants Felipe González Morales spoke despairingly in June this year that the practice should end.  “In the absence of an individualized assessment for each migrant concerned and other procedural safeguards,” he told the Human Rights Council, “pushbacks are a violation of the prohibition of collective expulsion and heighten the risk of further human rights violations, in particular refoulement.”

He also stated what all pupils of international human rights know: “States have an obligation to respect, protect and fulfill the human rights of everyone on their territory or within their jurisdiction or effective control, irrespective of migration status and without discrimination of any kind.”

The concept of control is important in matters of interception, rescue and forcible return.  As the European Court of Human Rights found in Hirsi Jamaa v Italy, which saw the forcible return by Italian authorities of migrants to Libya, the applicants remained under the “continuous and exclusive de jure and de facto control of the Italian authorities” during the course of their transfer, triggering the obligation to protect their human rights.  “Speculation as to the nature and purpose of the intervention of the Italian ships on the high seas would not lead the Court to any other conclusion.”

The International of the Law of the Sea 1982 outlines the obligation of every state’s vessels to “render assistance to any person found at sea in danger of being lost”.  The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea and the International Convention on Maritime Research and Rescue affirm the obligation.

The LOSC also has a range of other relevant provisions on incursions of foreign vessels.  Innocent passage into the state’s territorial sea is permitted under Article 17; in cases where such passage is not innocent – for instance, the breach of domestic immigration laws – states may take measures to halt passage.  But under Article 18, a vessel, if deemed in distress, can also enter the territorial sea of the state in question even if migration laws have been breached.

Such thinking is bound to come across as soppily legal for the UK’s Home Secretary Priti Patel, who has been coming up with her own turn back the boats model.  This has formed part of an arsenal of hostile measures against migrants including the proposed Nationality and Borders Bill (Bill 14 of 2021-22), introduced on July 6.  Having gone through two readings of the House of Commons, it now rests with the Public Bill Committee, which is due to release a report on November 4.

In moving that the Bill be read a second time, Patel told Members that Britons had “had enough of open borders and uncontrolled immigration; enough of a failed asylum system that costs the taxpayer more than £1 billion a year; enough of dinghies arriving illegally on our shores, directed by organised gangs; enough of people drowning on these dangerous, illegal and unnecessary journeys […].”

The Bill came into being despite warnings from various Australian lawyers, doctors and former civil servants that their country’s refugee model was hardly the sort of thing that should inspire imitations.  In the view of Australian Greens Senator Nick McKim and Benali Hamdache of the UK Green Party, the “New Plan for Immigration imports all the worst parts of the Australian government policy.”  This includes the possible establishment of offshore processing (read detention) centres to places ranging from Rwanda to the Isle of Man and the creation of a temporary protection scheme.

The Bill takes the battering ram to a range of maritime practices, proposing to criminalise the practice of offering voluntary assistance at sea by targeting “those assisting persons to arrive in the UK without a valid clearance”.  That good Samaritan service provided by such bodies as the Royal Lifeboat Institution, which has been accused of being a “migrant taxi service” by its detractors, promises to be roped in.

Last month, it was revealed that Patel was already busily urging the Border Force to get into the pushback business in ways that would pass muster under maritime law.  According to “sources” within the Home Office, as reported by The Guardian, Patel had effectively become “the first home secretary to establish a legal basis for the sea tactics, working with attorney general Michael Ellis and expert QCs”.

Pushing back boat arrivals is not only lacking in humanitarian spirit but filled with monstrous danger.  The Straits of Dover, for instance, is the busiest shipping route in the world. One suggestion moving its way through the ranks is the targeting of certain boats, keeping the issue of safety in mind.  Dinghies are unlikely to fall within the scope of expulsion, as tempting as these might be.  Larger, sturdier migrant vessels are likelier prospects.

France, being the country where most of the migrants depart from, has been particularly vocal on the issue.  Pierre-Henri Dumont, the MP for Calais, has suggested that Patel’s policy “tears apart the UN Geneva conventions giving the right to everyone to apply to any country for asylum.”

Interior Minister Gérald Darminin also expressed his displeasure at the new approach, warning Patel that his country “will accept no practices contrary to the Law of the Sea, and no blackmail.”  Righteously, Darminin also claimed that “safeguarding human lives at sea takes priority over considerations of nationality, status and migratory policy”.  While this is very much in the spirit of protection, it is an attitude that is looking worn and tired.  Patel, for her part, hopes her cross Channel colleagues will see good sense and take up a promise of UK funding to prevent the migrant crossings taking place.  They may well do just that.

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New Report Exposes the US’ Brutal and Illegal Economic War

NOTE: In April of this year, my family had a medical emergency that required most of my time and attention. The result is that I am now the sole legal and physical guardian of two young children with significant needs. I hope to return to writing a regular newsletter now that they are in school. There is a lot going on and a lot to do. Solidarity, Margaret Flowers

This month, the Sanctions Kill coalition (Popular Resistance is a member) released its report: “The Impact and Consequences of US Sanctions.” The 35-page report was written in response to the Biden administration’s January call for a review of the US sanctions to determine if they ‘unduly hinder’ the ability of targeted nations to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

To date, there is no word on whether that review has been conducted, but given that the State Department and Treasury are tasked with conducting it, the same institutions that impose sanctions, the Sanctions Kill coalition had no confidence their report would challenge the US’ current foreign policy path of escalating economic war on 39 countries, or a third of the world population.

The Sanctions Kill report found that sanctions, which are being increasingly imposed by the United States in lieu of or in addition to military aggression, cause tremendous suffering and death, violate international laws, harm US industries, place the US in a position of civil and criminal liability and are isolating the US from the community of nations. The corporate media are silent on these harmful effects and criticism of sanctions.

Venezuelan UN Ambassador Samuel Moncada described the impact of sanctions this week at The People’s Forum (view the event here):

Sanctions are killing us…. They are homicidal. One of the awful effects of sanctions as a weapon, because it’s a kind of war, is that you don’t feel it here. You don’t even realize that sanctions are acting abroad…. You don’t feel it in any way. But we feel them…. That’s why they are so insidious and dangerous. [The US] is waging economic war against millions of people.

The sanctions imposed by the United States include restrictions on financial transactions, trade and travel, blockades on foreign loans and aid and the seizure of assets. The Sanctions Kill report found these measures violate the human rights of people in affected countries because they block access to basic necessities such as food, medicines and fuel and they prevent maintenance of important infrastructure such as water services, power generation and transmission and transportation. The so-called humanitarian exceptions that are supposed to prevent sanctions from blocking food and medicine don’t work – banks won’t allow the sales and shipping companies won’t transport the goods.

Technically what the United States is doing are not sanctions but are unilateral coercive measures (UCMs), which violate international law because they operate outside the structure provided by the United Nations. Legal sanctions are used as a punishment after a legal process determines a country violated a law. Unilateral coercive measures are imposed by the US and its western imperialist allies based on lies and without due process in order to effect a desired political outcome, such as regime change or retaliation.

For example, following the failed US-backed coup attempt in 2018 against Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega, the United States Congress passed the NICA Act, which began an economic war against socialist Nicaragua. With presidential elections being held this November, the United States has ramped up both a propaganda campaign against the popular Ortega, who is expected to win, and Congress is in the process of passing the RENACER Act, which will impose more UCMs against Nicaragua.

Here is what US activists are saying about the RENACER Act and what you can do to stop it. If you want to learn more, BreakThrough News recently interviewed Jill Clark-Gollub of Friends of Latin America about the RENACER Act.

The Sanctions Kill report also found that the US is imposing secondary sanctions on countries that do business with sanctioned countries, another violation of international law, and is using sanctions to target business people, such as Meng Wanzhou of Huawei, and diplomats, such as Alex Saab. Saab is being held in Cabo Verde where he stopped last year on his way to Iran to negotiate the purchase of food and medicines for Venezuela. The US is working to extradite him while international support for Saab, whose imprisonment violates the Vienna Convention, is growing. Clearing the FOG spoke earlier this year with Roger Harris of Task Force on the Americas after he traveled with a delegation to Cabo Verde to visit Alex Saab. Click here to take action.

In front of the United Nations after the People’s Mobe rally and march.  (September 2019. By Yuka Azuma)

Clearing the FOG spoke with two of the authors of the report, international lawyer John Philpot and Latin American solidarity activist David Paul. Philpot predicts a day of reckoning is coming for the United States because the UCMs violate multiple international laws, including the United Nations charter. They are a form of collective punishment, which is a crime against humanity.

As the United States’ status as a global hegemon declines, targeted countries are finding ways to work together to resist the brutal economic wars being waged by the US and build power. For years now, countries have worked on alternative financial instruments to bypass US sanctions in order to do business. One example is INSTEX, a trading mechanism developed by European nations and Iran.

One of the first major acts of defiance against US UCMs was in the spring of 2020 when Iran sent four tankers of oil and equipment to Venezuela despite a large US military presence in the surrounding waters. Recently, Iran defied US UCMs again when it sent a convoy of oil trucks through Syria to Lebanon, which is suffering greatly from an economic crisis and fuel shortage.

Cuba has been under a US economic blockade for more than 60 years but it continues to be a model of international solidarity, especially during the pandemic. Henry Reeves Medical Brigades have been sent to numerous countries to assist them in caring for COVID-19 patients. Now Cuba is in need of aid and Mexico is stepping up to provide it using its naval ships since commercial ships face many barriers due to the UCMs. People and organizations outside Cuba also worked to supply millions of syringes so Cubans can receive vaccinations against COVID-19.

Mexico was the host of the recent CELAC (the community of Caribbean and Latin American states) meetings where leaders openly criticized the Organization of American States as a tool of US imperialism and called for its reform or the creation of a new body. CELAC countries are working on ways to practice greater solidarity in the face of the pandemic, climate crisis and debt.

Similarly, the first African/CARICOM summit was held virtually earlier this month. A third of the countries being targeted by the US’ economic war are in Africa. In fact, almost all of the countries being sanctioned by the US are majority black or brown. Don Rojas covered the summit for Black Agenda Report, writing:

“The Summit was also a recognition of the political and economic imperative that the governments of Africa and the Caribbean must succeed in restructuring if our black and brown people and nations are ever going to assume their rightful place in the world.”

And this week, during the United Nations general assembly meetings, the foreign ministers of 18 countries met as the Group of Friends in Defense of the Charter of the United Nations and released a statement pledging to work together. They wrote, “…we convey our support to nations and peoples subjected to unilateral and arbitrary approaches that violate both the purposes and principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and the basic norms of international law, and renew our call for the full respect to the inalienable right of peoples to self-determination, as well as the territorial integrity and political independence of all nations.”

By Medea Benjamin

Those of us who live in the United States and its allied imperialist nations that enable these serious violations of human rights and international law have a responsibility to act to stop the use of economic warfare through unilateral coercive economic measures. Global power is shifting and we face multiple worldwide crises. It is imperative that imperialist nations change their foreign policy from death and destruction to diplomacy, solidarity and cooperation.

An important step is education so people understand that UCMs are as lethal as bombs and that they affect the whole world, including people living in countries that wage economic war. The website contains numerous resources to help with this including a toolkit that provides you with a power point and script so anyone can give a presentation on sanctions. The toolkit informs about what UCMs are and the specific harms they do.

You can also send the new Sanctions Kill report to your members of Congress and demand they end them now or publicize the report in any way you can – use social media, local or independent media outlets, your organization’s website, etc. We must break through the media blockade and demand the truth be told about the illegality of UCMs and their devastating impact on people in targeted countries. Write letters to the editor when you see articles about sanctions.

Take action to stop the RENACER Act and join the call to free Alex Saab. There are many solidarity organizations that are working to support people in countries attacked through economic measures. One example is the Saving Lives Campaign, a joint effort by people in the US and Canada to provide aid to Cuba.

Ending sanctions will save millions of lives and move us forward on the path toward a world of cooperation, peace and solidarity. Nations like the United States use sanctions because their deadly impacts are not as visible as dropping bombs. We must expose this brutal economic warfare and demand an end to it.

The post New Report Exposes the US’ Brutal and Illegal Economic War first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Emperor’s New Rules


The world is reeling in horror at the latest Israeli massacre of hundreds of men, women and children in Gaza. Much of the world is also shocked by the role of the United States in this crisis, as it keeps providing Israel with weapons to kill Palestinian civilians, in violation of U.S. and international law, and has repeatedly blocked action by the UN Security Council to impose a ceasefire or hold Israel accountable for its war crimes.

In contrast to U.S. actions, in nearly every speech or interview, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken keeps promising to uphold and defend the “rules-based order.” But he has never clarified whether he means the universal rules of the United Nations Charter and international law, or some other set of rules he has yet to define. What rules could possibly legitimize the kind of destruction we just witnessed in Gaza, and who would want to live in a world ruled by them?

We have both spent many years protesting the violence and chaos the United States and its allies inflict on millions of people around the world by violating the UN Charter’s prohibition against the threat or use of military force, and we have always insisted that the U.S. government should comply with the rules-based order of international law.

But even as the United States’ illegal wars and support for allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia have reduced cities to rubble and left country after country mired in intractable violence and chaos, U.S. leaders have refused to even acknowledge that aggressive and destructive U.S. and allied military operations violate the rules-based order of the United Nations Charter and international law.

President Trump was clear that he was not interested in following any “global rules,” only supporting U.S. national interests. His National Security Advisor John Bolton explicitly prohibited National Security Council staff attending the 2018 G20 Summit in Argentina from even uttering the words “rules-based order.”

So you might expect us to welcome Blinken’s stated commitment to the “rules-based order” as a long-overdue reversal in U.S. policy. But when it comes to a vital principle like this, it is actions that count, and the Biden administration has yet to take any decisive action to bring U.S. foreign policy into compliance with the UN Charter or international law.

For Secretary Blinken, the concept of a “rules-based order” seems to serve mainly as a cudgel with which to attack China and Russia. At a May 7 UN Security Council meeting, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov suggested that instead of accepting the already existing rules of international law, the United States and its allies are trying to come up with “other rules developed in closed, non-inclusive formats, and then imposed on everyone else.”

The UN Charter and the rules of international law were developed in the 20th century precisely to codify the unwritten and endlessly contested rules of customary international law with explicit, written rules that would be binding on all nations.

The United States played a leading role in this legalist movement in international relations, from the Hague Peace Conferences at the turn of the 20th century to the signing of the United Nations Charter in San Francisco in 1945 and the revised Geneva Conventions in 1949, including the new Fourth Geneva Convention to protect civilians, like the countless numbers killed by American weapons in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Gaza.

As President Franklin Roosevelt described the plan for the United Nations to a joint session of Congress on his return from Yalta in 1945:

It ought to spell the end of the system of unilateral action, the exclusive alliances, the spheres of influence, the balances of power, and all the other expedients that have been tried for centuries – and have always failed. We propose to substitute for all these a universal organization in which all peace-loving nations will finally have a chance to join. I am confident that the Congress and the American people will accept the results of this conference as the beginning of a permanent structure of peace.

But America’s post-Cold War triumphalism eroded U.S. leaders’ already half-hearted commitment to those rules. The neocons argued that they were no longer relevant and that the United States must be ready to impose order on the world by the unilateral threat and use of military force, exactly what the UN Charter prohibits. Madeleine Albright and other Democratic leaders embraced new doctrines of “humanitarian intervention” and a “responsibility to protect” to try to carve out politically persuasive exceptions to the explicit rules of the UN Charter.

America’s “endless wars,” its revived Cold War on Russia and China, its blank check for the Israeli occupation and the political obstacles to crafting a more peaceful and sustainable future are some of the fruits of these bipartisan efforts to challenge and weaken the rules-based order.

Today, far from being a leader of the international rules-based system, the United States is an outlier. It has failed to sign or ratify about fifty important and widely accepted multilateral treaties on everything from children’s rights to arms control. Its unilateral sanctions against Cuba, Iran, Venezuela and other countries are themselves violations of international law, and the new Biden administration has shamefully failed to lift these illegal sanctions, ignoring UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ request to suspend such unilateral coercive measures during the pandemic.

So is Blinken’s “rules-based order” a recommitment to President Roosevelt’s “permanent structure of peace,” or is it, in fact, a renunciation of the United Nations Charter and its purpose, which is peace and security for all of humanity?

In the light of Biden’s first few months in power, it appears to be the latter. Instead of designing a foreign policy based on the principles and rules of the UN Charter and the goal of a peaceful world, Biden’s policy seems to start from the premises of a $753 billion U.S. military budget, 800 overseas military bases, endless U.S. and allied wars and massacres, and massive weapons sales to repressive regimes. Then it works backward to formulate a policy framework to somehow justify all that.

Once a “war on terror” that only fuels terrorism, violence and chaos was no longer politically viable, hawkish U.S. leaders—both Republicans and Democrats—seem to have concluded that a return to the Cold War was the only plausible way to perpetuate America’s militarist foreign policy and multi-trillion-dollar war machine.

But that raised a new set of contradictions. For 40 years, the Cold War was justified by the ideological struggle between the capitalist and communist economic systems. But the U.S.S.R. disintegrated and Russia is now a capitalist country. China is still governed by its Communist Party, but has a managed, mixed economy similar to that of Western Europe in the years after the Second World War – an efficient and dynamic economic system that has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty in both cases.

So how can these U.S. leaders justify their renewed Cold War? They have floated the notion of a struggle between “democracy and authoritarianism.” But the United States supports too many horrific dictatorships around the world, especially in the Middle East, to make that a convincing pretext for a Cold War against Russia and China.

A U.S. “global war on authoritarianism” would require confronting repressive U.S. allies like Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, not arming them to the teeth and shielding them from international accountability as the United States is doing.

So, just as American and British leaders settled on non-existent “WMD”s as the pretext they could all agree on to justify their war on Iraq, the U.S. and its allies have settled on defending a vague, undefined “rules-based order” as the justification for their revived Cold War on Russia and China.

But like the emperor’s new clothes in the fable and the WMDs in Iraq, the United States’ new rules don’t really exist. They are just its latest smokescreen for a foreign policy based on illegal threats and uses of force and a doctrine of “might makes right.”

We challenge President Biden and Secretary Blinken to prove us wrong by actually joining the rules-based order of the UN Charter and international law. That would require a genuine commitment to a very different and more peaceful future, with appropriate contrition and accountability for the United States’ and its allies’ systematic violations of the UN Charter and international law, and the countless violent deaths, ruined societies, and widespread chaos they have caused.

The post The Emperor’s New Rules first appeared on Dissident Voice.

US Trying to Extradite Venezuelan Diplomat for the “Crime” of Securing Food for the Hungry: The Case of Alex Saab v. The Empire

The case of Alex Saab raises dangerous precedents in terms of extraterritorial judicial abuse, violation of diplomatic status, and even the use of torture to extract false confessions. This is according to Montréal-based international human rights lawyer John Philpot. He spoke on May 19 at a webinar sponsored by the Alliance for Global Justice and other groups about this example of the long reach of the US empire enforcing its deadly sanctions on some one third of humanity.

US sanctions Venezuela for being sovereign

Stansfield Smith of Chicago ALBA Solidarity commented that the Saab case is part of a larger US effort to use “lawfare” to impose its illegal sanctions, which the United Nations condemns as “unilateral coercive measures.” The US employs sanctions to discipline countries that attempt to develop independent of its dominion.

The US is able to extend its imperial reach through its domination of the international financial system, which is US dollar denominated and meditated through the monetary exchange known as SWIFT. By controlling the international financial system, Smith explained, Washington can demand banks in foreign countries to accept US restrictions or face sanctions themselves.

Venezuela’s resistance to US interference, starting with Hugo Chávez’s Bolivarian Revolution two decades ago, has been punished by the US with mounting sanctions so extreme that they now amount to an asphyxiating blockade, causing severe shortages of food and medicine. William Camacaro of the Alberto Lovera Bolivarian Circle attested to the impact on the people of Venezuela. This US effort to achieve regime change is, in effect, collective punishment to coerce the Venezuelans to reject their elected government.

Even a report from the US government readily admits that “sanctions, particularly on the state oil company in 2019, likely contributed to the steeper decline of the Venezuelan economy.” This crippling blow to its oil industry has impacted Venezuela’s capability to generate electricity, conduct agriculture, and generate income from oil sales to fund social programs and import vital necessities, all of which have negatively impacted the lives of ordinary Venezuelans.

Once a leading oil exporter, Venezuela’s ability to import equipment components for its oil refineries and light oil to mix with its heavy crude has been cut off by the US, devastating its productive capacity. The US has even blocked international oil-for-food swaps by Venezuela.

US targets humanitarian mission

 Special envoy and ambassador to the African Union for Venezuela, Alex Saab, was on a humanitarian mission flying from Caracas to Iran to procure food and gasoline for the Venezuelan CLAP food assistance program. Saab was detained on a refueling stop in the African nation of Cabo Verde and has been held in custody ever since June 12, 2020.

Saab’s “crime,” according to the US government, which ordered the imprisonment, was money laundering. That is, Saab conducted perfectly legal international trade, but his circumventing the US sanctions – which are designed to prevent relief to the Venezuelans – is considered by Washington to be money laundering.

The Swiss government, after a two-year investigation into Saab’s transactions with Swiss banks, concluded on March 25 that there was no money laundering. The real reason Saab is being persecuted is because he is serving his country’s interest rather than that of the US. Saab was born in Colombia but now holds Venezuelan citizenship.

The US mandate for the arrest and extradition of Saab would be like Saudi Arabia demanding the arrest and extradition of a British citizen visiting Italy for wearing short-shorts. In essence, the US does not have legal jurisdiction over a Venezuelan in Cabo Verde on his way to Iran.

As Indhriana Parada wrote in the webinar chat: “Greetings from Venezuela. We support the release of Alex Saab. It is a totally political case, and we want him back. Alex Saab did not launder money. Alex Saab bought food and medicine for Venezuela.”

The legal fig leaf for what amounts to a kidnapping was an INTERPOL “red notice,” which was not issued until a day after Saab’s arrest and was subsequently dropped. Saab has specified, “they tortured me and pressured me to sign voluntary extradition declarations and bear false witness against my government.”

Saab’s distinguished African defense team

Saab’s attorney in Cabo Verde, Geraldo da Cruz Almeida, explained to the webinar the absurdity of the politically motivated legal case against his client. Alex Saab has violated neither Cabo Verdean nor Venezuelan law. Moreover, Saab’s diplomatic status should have given him immunity from arrest.

The US does not recognize Saab’s diplomatic status. But then again, Biden maintains the fiction that the self-appointed and Trump-anointed Juan Guaidó is president of Venezuela.

Femi Falana, former President of the West African Bar Association, spoke to the webinar from Nigeria. Attorney Falana represented Saab before the regional Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court. On March 15, the court ordered Saab’s release and cancellation of the extradition.

Under US pressure, Cabo Verde continues to hold Saab. Attorney Falana has called on President Biden to respect the rule of law and human rights in Africa. Sara Flounders of the International Action Center pointed out that 15 of the 39 countries under the illegal US sanctions are African.

Ranking 175th and 185th among the countries of the world in terms of geographic area and economic size, respectively, resource poor, and dependent on tourism and remittances from abroad, the Republic of Cabo Verde is vulnerable to US strong-arm tactics. Shortly after Saab’s arrest, the US gifted $1.5 million to private sector entities in Cabo Verde on top of some $284 million total US aid in the last 20 years.

The US State Department describes Cabo Verde as “an important partner” where the “current administration has prioritized relations with the United States and Europe.” The US Bureau for International Narcotics Law Enforcement funds and supports activities in Cabo Verde, while the Boston Police Department works with Cabo Verde police.

Cabo Verde, it should be noted, is important in the history of African liberation. Marxist Amílcar Cabral led the liberation movement of Guinea-Bissau and Cabo Verde Islands and was assassinated in 1973, only months before independence was declared from Portugal.

Setting a precedent

Meng Wanzhou, a Chinese national doing business in Canada, is under arrest for “bank fraud” and is fighting extradition to the US. North Korean Mun Chol Myong has already been extradited to the US from Malaysia on similar charges to those used against Saab for doing business according to international law rather than abiding by the US’s illegal measures.

In short, Saab’s is not an isolated case of US misconduct around enforcing its illegal sanctions but an emerging pattern. Anyone of us working to get needed goods to a US-sanctioned country is at risk of the US pushing to get us arrested and jailed in some country we pass through, which is subservient to the US.

That the US can engineer the arrest of a diplomat – someone who has immunity by international law even in the time of war – is a dangerous precedent. That the arrest was extraterritorial is worse; and especially so because Saab is an ambassador to the African Union. This harkens back to the flagrantly illegal and inhumane US practice of extraordinary rendition, which was used to populate the Guantánamo torture chambers.

The award-winning movie The Mauritanian is about the true story of crusading lawyer Nancy Hollander, who successfully freed a tortured innocent man from the made-in-the-USA hell of Guantánamo. The Hollander character, played in the movie by Jodie Foster, says: “I am not just defending him, I am defending the rule of law.”

The real-life Nancy Hollander attended the webinar and announced she will help defend Saab if he is extradited to the US. A lawyer’s delegation to Cabo Verde in solidarity with Saab is being planned and a petition campaign on his behalf is underway. These efforts recognize that the defense of Alex Saab is a defense of the rule of international law against illegal US sanctions (#FREEAlexSaab).

The post US Trying to Extradite Venezuelan Diplomat for the “Crime” of Securing Food for the Hungry: The Case of Alex Saab v. The Empire 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 |

[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.