Category Archives: Osama Bin Laden

Despite its exit, the US will continue to wage war on Afghanistan

The United States has always been a bad loser. Whether it has viewed itself as an imperial power, a military superpower or, in today’s preferred terminology, the “world’s policeman”, the assumption is that everyone else must submit to its will.

All of which is the context for judging the outcry in western capitals over the US army’s hurried exit last month from Kabul, its final hold-out in Afghanistan.

There are lots of voices on both sides of the Atlantic lamenting that messy evacuation. And it is hard not to hear in them – even after a catastrophic and entirely futile two-decade military occupation of Afghanistan – a longing for some kind of re-engagement.

Politicians are describing the pull-out as a “defeat” and bewailing it as evidence that the US is a declining power. Others are warning that Afghanistan will become a sanctuary for Islamic extremism, leading to a rise in global terrorism.

Liberals, meanwhile, are anxious about a renewed assault on women’s rights under the Taliban, or they are demanding that more Afghans be helped to flee.

The subtext is that western powers need to meddle a little – or maybe a lot – more and longer in Afghanistan. The situation, it is implied, can still be fixed, or at the very least the Taliban can be punished as a warning to others not to follow in its footsteps.

All of this ignores the fact that the so-called “war for Afghanistan” was lost long ago. “Defeat” did not occur at Kabul airport. The evacuation was a very belated recognition that the US military had no reason, not even the purported one, to be in Afghanistan after Osama bin Laden evaded capture.

In fact, as experts on the region have pointed out, the US defeated itself. Once al-Qaeda had fled Afghanistan, and the Taliban’s chastened fighters had slunk back to their villages with no appetite to take on the US Robocop, each local warlord or tribal leader seized the moment. They settled scores with enemies by informing on them, identifying to the US their rivals as  “terrorists” or Taliban.

US commanders blew ever bigger holes through the new Pax Americana as their indiscriminate drone strikes killed friend and foe alike. Soon most Afghans outside the corrupt Kabul elite had good reason to hate the US and want it gone. It was the Pentagon that brought the Taliban back from the dead.

Deceitful spin

But it was not just the Afghan elite that was corrupt. The country became a bottomless pit, with Kabul at its centre, into which US and British taxpayers poured endless money that enriched the war industries, from defence officials and arms manufacturers to mercenaries and private contractors.

Those 20 years produced a vigorous, powerful Afghanistan lobby in the heart of Washington that had every incentive to perpetuate the bogus narrative of a “winnable war”.

The lobby understood that their enrichment was best sold under the pretence – once again – of humanitarianism: that the caring West was obligated to bring democracy to Afghanistan.

That deceitful spin, currently being given full throat by politicians, is not just there to rationalise the past. It will shape the future, too, in yet more disastrous ways for Afghanistan.

With American boots no longer officially on the ground, pressure is already building for war by other means.

It should not be a difficult sell. After all, that was the faulty lesson learned by the Washington foreign policy elite after US troops found themselves greeted in Iraq, not by rice and rose petals, but by roadside bombs.

In subsequent Middle East wars, in Libya, Syria and Yemen, the US has preferred to fight more covertly, from a greater distance or through proxies. The advantage is no American body bags and no democratic oversight. Everything happens in the shadows.

There is already a clamour in the Pentagon, in think tanks, among arms manufacturers and defence contractors, and in the US media, too, to do exactly the same now in Afghanistan.

Nothing could be more foolhardy.

Brink of collapse

Indeed, the US has already begun waging war on the Taliban and – because the group is now Afghanistan’s effective government – on an entire country under Taliban rule. The war is being conducted through global financial institutions, and may soon be given a formal makeover as a “sanctions regime”.

The US did exactly the same to Vietnam for 20 years following its defeat there in 1975. And more recently Washington has used that same blueprint on states that refuse to live under its thumb, from Iran to Venezuela.

Washington has frozen at least $9.5bn of Afghanistan’s assets in what amounts to an act of international piracy. Donors from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund to the European Union, Britain and the US are withholding development funds and assistance. Most Afghan banks are shuttered. Money is in very short supply.

Afghanistan is already in the grip of drought, and existing food shortages are likely to intensify during the winter into famine. Last week a UN report warned that, without urgent financial help, 97 percent of Afghans could soon be plunged into poverty.

All of this compounds Afghanistan’s troubles under the US occupation, when the number of Afghans in poverty doubled and child malnutrition became rampant. According to Ashok Swain, Unesco’s chair on international water cooperation, “more than one-third of Afghans have no food, half no drinking water, two-thirds no electricity”.

That is an indictment of US misrule over the past two decades when, it might have been assumed, at least some of the $2tn spent on Afghanistan had gone towards Washington’s much-vaunted “nation-building” project rather than guns and gunships.

Now Afghans’ dire plight can be used as a launchpad for the US to cripple the Taliban as it struggles to rebuild a hollowed-out country.

The real aspiration of sanctions will be to engineer Afghanistan’s economic collapse – as an exemplar to others of US power and reach, and vindictiveness, and in the hope that the Afghan people can be starved to the point at which they rise up against their leaders.

Deepen existing splits

All of this can easily be framed in humanitarian terms, as it has been elsewhere. Late last month, the US drove through the United Nations Security Council a resolution calling for free travel through Kabul airport, guarantees on human rights, and assurances that the country will not become a shelter for terrorism.

Any of those demands can be turned into a pretext to extend sanctions to the Afghan government itself. Governments, including Britain’s, are already reported to be struggling to find ways to approve charities directing aid to Afghanistan.

But it is the sanctions themselves that will cause humanitarian suffering. Unpaid teachers mean no school for children, especially girls. No funds for rural clinics will result in more women dying in childbirth and higher infant mortality rates. Closed banks end in those with guns – men – terrorising everyone else over limited resources.

Isolating the Taliban with sanctions will have two entirely predictable outcomes.

First, it will push the country into the arms of China, which will be well-positioned to assist Afghanistan in return for access to its mineral wealth. Beijing has already announced plans to do business with the Taliban that include reopening the Mes Aynak copper mine.

As US President Joe Biden’s administration is already well-advanced in crafting China as the new global menace, trying to curtail its influence on neighbours, any alliance between the Taliban and China could easily provide further grounds for the US intensifying sanctions.

Secondly, sanctions are also certain to deepen existing splits within the Taliban, between the hardliners in the north and east opposed to engagement with the West, and those in the south keen to win over the international community in a bid to legitimise Taliban rule.

At the moment, the Taliban doves are probably in the ascendant, ready to help the US root out internal enemies such as the ISKP, Islamic State group’s offshoot in Afghanistan. But that could quickly change if Washington reverts to type.

A combination of sanctions, clumsy covert operations and Washington overplaying its hand could quickly drive the hardliners into power, or into an alliance with the local IS faction.

That scenario may have already been given a boost by a US drone strike on Kabul in late August, in retaliation for an ISKP attack on the airport that killed 13 US soldiers. New witness testimonies suggest the strike killed 10 Afghan civilians, including seven children, not Islamic militants.

Familiar game plan

If that weren’t bad enough, Washington hawks are calling for the Taliban to be officially designated a “foreign terrorist organisation“, and the new Afghan government a state sponsor of terrorism, which would make it all but impossible for the Biden administration to engage with it. Others such as Lindsey Graham, an influential US politician, are trying to pile on the pressure by calling for troops to return.

How readily this mindset could become the Washington consensus is highlighted by US media reports of plans by the CIA to operate covertly within Afghanistan. As if nothing has been learned, the agency appears to be hoping to cultivate opponents of the Taliban, including once again the warlords whose lawlessness brought the Taliban to power more than two decades ago.

This is a game plan the US and Britain know well from their training and arming of the mujahideen to oust the Soviet army from Afghanistan in the 1980s and overthrow a few years later Afghanistan’s secular communist government.

Biden will have an added incentive to keep meddling in Afghanistan to prevent any attacks originating from there that could be exploited by his political opponents and blamed on his pulling out troops.

According to the New York Times, the CIA believes it must be ready to “counter threats” likely to emerge from a “chaos” the Taliban will supposedly unleash.

But Afghanistan will be far less chaotic if the Taliban are strong, not if – as is being proposed – the US undermines Taliban cohesion by operating spies in its midst, subverts the Taliban’s authority by launching drone strikes from neighbouring countries, and recruits warlords or sponsors rival Islamic groups to keep the Taliban under pressure.

William J Burns, the CIA’s director, has said the agency is ready to run operations “over the horizon“, – at arm’s length. The New York Times has reported that US officials predict “Afghan opponents of the Taliban will most likely emerge who will want to help and provide information to the United States”.

This strategy will lead to a failed state, one immiserated by US sanctions and divided between warlords feuding over the few resources left. That is precisely the soil in which the worst kind of Islamic extremism will flourish.

Destabilising Afghanistan is what got the US into this mess in the first place. Washington seems only too ready to begin that process all over again.

• First published in Middle East Eye

The post Despite its exit, the US will continue to wage war on Afghanistan first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Forget Wars on Covid and Terror: War on Climate Collapse Is the Only War of Necessity for Human Survival

Mythology of humans’ natural impulse for empathy

Warfare has been a plague haunting the human species ever since our evolution to become Homo Sapiens, finally, around 300,000 years ago in Africa. Etymologically, homo means human and sapiens means wise or knowledgeable. One can see that in this 18th century anthropocentric characterization of our species, the notion of wisdom was highly overrated. What made our common Homo sapiens ancestors any wiser than the Neanderthals that they would eventually invade and annihilate? History is narrated by victors, therefore we were told that Homo sapiens were highly superior to the so-called brutal Neanderthals. It could be true in territorial ambitions, and some technological aspects, but it remains questionable in other area of social activity.

Ultimately, a taste for adventure and conquest is what drove Homo sapiens to expand their territories on Earth. It would be utterly naive to think that this progressive form of colonization was accomplished through peaceful means. No, unfortunately for our species, a propensity for aggression, for domination through warfare was always present in Homo sapiens DNA.

Wars of necessity or of choice: all wars are for profit

Warfare in the 20th century was rather simple compared to today’s predicaments. Either during World War I or World War II, nations had traditional alliances which were usually respected and recognized by treaties. Usually formal declarations of wars were issued before a military action — with the exception of Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl-Harbor. The two wars were sold by leaders to their respective populations as wars of necessity. In both cases, they were still wars fought by conscripts, as professional soldiers, a euphemism for mercenaries, are usually not eager to become cannon fodder.

While the United States cautiously, one could say cowardly, stood on the sideline during World War I until 1917, the conflict unquestionably triggered the Russian revolution, as poor Russians conscripts refused to fight the tsar’s war. As Marxist ideas were quickly spreading elsewhere in Europe, many French soldiers refused to fight their German brothers for the sake of capitalism. Many conscripts then knew that the so-called war of necessity was a scheme of war for profit. At the Versailles treaty, Germany was forced to pay an enormous amount to France, in gold, as war compensation. In the Middle East, in an even more substantial perennial spoils of war story, the two dominant empires of the time, the United Kingdom and France had grabbed for themselves the bulk of the Ottoman empire through the secret 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement.

If you analyze the war of necessity versus war of choice, and correlation of war for profit during World War II, in the case of the United States, first you wonder what took the US so long to enter the war alongside their allies France and England? The answer is often murky, as many major US corporations such as Ford Motor and General Motors, as well as policymakers such as Joe Kennedy (father of JFK), had either vested economic interests in Nazi Germany or were upfront in their support for Adolf Hitler.

Photo Credit:  from the archive of Recuerdos de Pandora

Further, once the United States was attacked by Japan and finally committed to the European part of the conflict against Germany, a large part of Detroit’s manufacturing sector was converted to military purposes. In the United States, it is arguably more this massive war effort than FDR’s New Deal which turned the US economy into a juggernaut, in a dramatic recovery from the Great Depression, which the Wall Street crash of 1929 had started. Warfare writes human history using blood and tears for ink, but the merchants of death of the military-industrial complex and their financial market affiliates always profit handsomely.

If slavery or slave labor is the ideal structure for capitalism, any war, under any pretext, is the perfect business venture, as it provides a fast consumption of goods (weapons and ammunition), cheap labor force using the leverage of patriotism — defend the motherland or fatherland — and infinite money to rebuild once capitalism’s wars for profit have turned everything to ruins and ashes. After World War II, the US Marshall Plan was painted as some great altruistic venture, but, in fact, it justified a long-term occupation of Germany and incredibly lucrative contracts, some of them aimed at controlling West Germany’s economy and government.

Photo Credit:  Gilbert Mercier

Rise of conceptual wars: war on terror and war on Covid

If the wars of the 20th century were conventional as they either opposed sovereign nations or were in the context of imperial-colonial setback, like the French war in Indochina, Algeria’s independence war against France, some were specifically defined by the Cold War era, like the Korea war. From World War II at the Yalta conference, two new empires had emerged as dominant: the United States and the USSR. The world had then the predictability of this duality. The collapse of the Soviet Union altered this balance, but it took a bit more than a decade to make a quantum leap.

Almost exactly 20 years ago, an event, the September 11, 2001 attack, radically changed the dynamic, as it marked the start of the conceptual war on terror. Terror is an effect, an emotion. How can one possibly wage war against an emotion? However absurd conceptually, this turning point in history allowed more or less all governments worldwide to embark into surveillance, obsession for security and a crackdown on personal liberties. Using the shock and fear in the population, which followed the collapse of the New York City Twin Towers in the US, a form of police state was almost immediately born using new administrative branches of government like the Department of Homeland Security. We still live in the post 9/11 world, as that coercive apparatus keep dragging on.

Photo Credit: US Army archive

Just like in standard, more conventional warfare, capitalism doesn’t create crises like 9/11, but seems always to find ways to benefit from it. In the war-on-terror era, a narrative also popular with Russia’s leader Vladimir Putin, the beneficiaries were and still are the global military-industrial complex, private security apparatus more like small private armies, and layers of police forces. How can one go wrong in terms of maximum profit?

In complete haste, and with a massive international support, using the trauma to influence worldwide public opinion, an attack on Afghanistan was launched by NATO’s invincible armada. Were the Taliban governing the country at the time responsible for 9/11? Not so. Their fault was to host the man who was arguably the architect of the attack: enemy-number-one Osama bin-Laden, of course. The fact that most of the pilots who flew the planes into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were Saudi Arabian nationals was not even dismissed, it wasn’t even publicly considered by governments or the corporate controlled mainstream media.

As matter of fact, many families of the 9/11 Twin Towers attack victims are still trying to get a sense of closure on a potential involvement of Saudi Arabia, at the highest level, in the tragedy to this day without much success, as a form of foreign policy Omerta seems to prevail in the US with the Saudis royal family. This was certainly not a war of necessity, it barely qualified as a war of choice, as it was a pure fit of anger against an individual and his relatively small organization, not even against a state.

Photo Credit: US Army archive

Twenty years later, back to square one, with the Taliban in control of Afghanistan affairs, but NATO, the military coalition of the impulsive and ill informed, are still not candidly making mea culpa, and admitting their gross ineptitude and almost criminal negligence. Colossal failure was always written all over Afghanistan’s bullets ridden walls, mosques and even modest fruit stands! Quagmires were also perfectly predictable in the war on terror sequels in Iraq; Libya (using French/Anglo/UAE proxies); Syria (using proxy good Jihadists), then ISIS (once many of the good Sunni Jihadists somehow decided to turn bad). Described like this the 20-year war on terror’s horrendous fiascos sound like the theater of the absurd! Absurd for the successive policy makers and incompetent or corrupt planners, but tragic for the almost one million dead and their surviving families, the 38 million refugees or internally displaced, and countries like Libya, turned into wrecked failed states. Meanwhile the military-industrial complex, including the private contractors, has become more powerful than ever.

The tragically failed policies of the past 20 years have to be quantified. According to Brown University Watson Institute, and this is a conservative estimate, the human cost of post 9/11 wars is around 800,000 in direct deaths; 38 million people worldwide is the number of war refugees and displaced persons collateral victims of the war on terror; and finally, the US war on terror spending from 2001 to 2020 was $6.4 trillion. All this money extracted from the US taxpayers, and enthusiastically approved in Congress by both Democrats and Republicans, was injected into the private corporations of the military-industrial complex, the Pentagon, of course, to a lesser extent, and ultimately as a billionaire-making cash bonanza into Wall Street and all global financial markets. How it works is rather simple: below are two prime examples, among countless other similar schemes, to profit from the war machine.

Photo Credit: from the Christopher Dombres archive

One quick example of war for mega-profit comes to mind. Before he accepted to be George W. Bush’s running mate in 2000, Dick Cheney was the CEO of the giant construction, oil and mineral extraction firm Halliburton. Right before he started to campaign, he, of course, resigned from his CEO function and sold his huge Halliburton stock portfolio to avoid conflict of interests. Fast forward to 2003, and guess which firm is getting the lion share of private contracts for the Iraq war? Halliburton, of course. Coincidence? Hard to believe. Such example of vast sums of money being recycled from the taxpayers’ pocket book to the coffers of private companies war profiteers are countless.

The other example is the major weapon systems manufacturer Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin manufactures fighter jets like F-15, F-16, F-35, and F-21; helicopters like Blackhawks and Cyclone, as well as Drones. On January 19, 2000 the share value for Lockheed Martin was $12.10. By January 17, 2020 Lockheed Martin stock traded at $408.77 a share. The bottom line: who in the US Congress would dare to say no to funding the military-industrial complex via the US Defense Department budget? Basically nobody. It would be deemed unpatriotic and bad for the job market, considering that the military-industrial complex employs a lot of people.

Terror is out, global pandemic is in

One cannot help making an analogy between the war on terror and the new global war for profit, which is the war on Covid. As the war on terror is being exposed as a complete fiasco and receding in history’s rear view mirror, global capitalism needed something else. It magically materialized as a global biological warfare against a virus.What a golden opportunity! Since March 2020 — a bit later in the crisis actually — the beneficiaries of the war on Covid have been, not only pharmaceutical companies, but also digital giants that benefit from remote-location work due to measures like lockdowns, online commerce; and, finally, the global financial markets.

France’s President Macron was, to my knowledge, the very first world leader to use the bellicose semantic of war on Covid. He did it in March 2020. We have seen previously that the war on terror has been immensely profitable for the nexus of global corporate imperialism, but the recent war on Covid could be even more profitable, as its protagonists/profiteers appear to be benevolent, even altruistic. The current push worldwide, and Macron was once again ahead of the game, is either to make vaccination mandatory, or blackmail the population with coercive measures like the Pass Sanitaire in France, to obey and comply.

This is the calculus and assumption that all governments and biotech affiliates are likely making. Let’s say that they manage to make vaccination mandatory. Worldwide, you would have a captive market of around 7.8 billion people. Even if 800 million people globally resist vaccination, we are talking about an extraordinarily profitable market. At around $15 per dose for the best-adopted vaccines on the market, which are from Pfizer and Moderna, multiplied by two, or even better by three, as is now recommended by pharmaceutical companies and some governments, because of the Delta variant, we are talking about some serious cash flow. With booster jabs likely recommended down the line every nine months or so, we are talking about a biotech Eldorado!

Photo Credit:  Jeremy Hunsinger

As an example of the heavenly jolt of joy vaccines have already injected into the arms of the Masters of the Universe of global finance, Moderna stock on January 2, 2020 traded at $19.57 a share. On August 11, 2021, Moderna stock traded on Wall Street at $440.00 a share. It is rather obvious, besides various stimulus package schemes applied in all countries to boost economies and prevent a massive Covid economic recession, global financial markets, with the big hedge funds pulling the strings, have become addicted to vaccines. It is no wonder that all major Wall Street firms such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have already made vaccination mandatory for their employees. It is no wonder either, why stock markets, like the CAC40 in France, have reached record high despite a severe contraction of the real economy.

I previously mentioned the real cost of the 20-year war on terror as being $6.4 trillion for the United States alone. It is not yet possible to quantify the real cost of the so-called global war on Covid. One can suspect it will be very high as well, and its human cost higher in term of diminished personal liberties. The negative side effects of the war on Covid are mainly sociological and psychological, as it has already increased human isolation and fragmented communities. This 18-month old pseudo war on a virus has also withdrawn global resources and focus from the only war of necessity, the one critical for our species survival: namely the war on climate collapse.

War on climate collapse is a war against capitalism

The war on Covid could even last longer than the war on terror. Cynically, the reason for this is that the war on Covid has worked wonders for the benefit of corporations and the super-rich. It has also allowed for governments that are supposed to be neoliberal economically and progressive socially to become paradoxically authoritarian. A prime example, in this instance, is again Emmanuel Macron’s government in France. As long as wars, invented or not, either conventional or conceptual, can be used to extract a profit, they will remain the modus operandi for the billionaire class and their political surrogates. It might sound Utopian, but let’s just imagine for a moment what humanity could do collectively to address the climate crisis existential threat, if we were going to implement a global policy of massive cuts in military spending and security apparatus.

Trillion of dollars could be allocated to the true emergency that will determine our survival or extinction. What could be more critical than this for our children and grandchildren? Climate collapse is on its way. During this entire summer, large areas of Earth were on fire, and others were flooded. Killer storms will keep coming relentlessly at us. Before 2050 many coastlines will be submerged, causing more than 1 billion people worldwide to become the climate collapse refugees. This is not a projection or speculation, it is documented by the scientific community.

Unfortunately, the reason why our Banana Republic styles of governments are not willing to fight this war of necessity, the war on climate change, is because it can only be really fought by getting rid of the capitalist system altogether. Radical approaches are needed, such as scrapping capitalism’s holy precept of permanent economic growth and its correlation of population growth. The remedies to try to mitigate the unfolding climate collapse would be many tough pills to swallow, because it’s about drastic systemic changes. Such as a zero-growth, sometime called negative-growth, economic model, which even Green parties at large do not embrace. The notion of Green New Deal is ludicrous. Green politicians either do not get it or are complete hypocrites if they are not also staunch anti-capitalists.

Another issue almost never addressed by Green politicians anywhere is the one of overpopulation. The rapid growth of the human population is a fundamental factor for capitalism as it provides two critical elements: plenty of cheap labor as well as a continuously growing consumption base. Case in point, in 1850 or at the start of the industrial revolution, the global world population stood at around 1 billion people; currently, or 171 years later and not much time in term of human history, it stands at around 7.8 billion. Some demographic projections forecast that it will reach between 10 to 13 billion by 2100. Needless to say, from a purely physical standpoint, this is entirely unsustainable as the surface of Earth’s landmass has gone unchanged. The problem with overpopulation, as an issue, is that almost everyone in every culture rightly views his or her ability to procreate as a fundamental right. My News Junkie Post partner, Dady Chery, and I, we know that even to bring up overpopulation as an issue is extremely unpopular. However, it has to be done.

Without a massive reduction in carbon emissions, we are on track to pass the fatal mark of a 2-degree Celsius global warming, not by 2050 but by 2035. In other words, a wrench has to be jammed into the gear of the infernal machine created by humans since the mid-19th century’s industrial revolution. Carbon emitting fossil fuels, of any kind, have to stay in the ground. Combustion vehicles should be banned promptly, and massive subsidies should be given to produce extremely affordable and fully electrical cars immediately.

Photo Credit: US Army archive

Many in the West point the finger at the big carbon emitters, which are China, India and Brazil. But they are not the only culprits for the nearly criminal inaction of our governing instances. The populations of countries that rely heavily on extraction must put a severe pressure on their politicians or vote them out of office. One thinks, of course, of the Gulf’s usual suspects like Saudi-Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, but other major players are almost as nefarious as far as having an economy built on energy or mineral extraction. A short list of the main countries heavily involved in the fossil fuel extraction business, either for domestic consumption or exports, would be: Russia, The United States, Canada, Iraq, Libya, Venezuela, and Iran.

Would the various radical changes – including capping human population growth- which seem to be objectively needed be painful? Certainly. But the alternative option, which is basically to keep the course of this giant high-speed bullet train without a pilot that is global capitalism, amounts to a medium-term collective suicide.

The post Forget Wars on Covid and Terror: War on Climate Collapse Is the Only War of Necessity for Human Survival first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Afghanistan:  The Abomination of “White Man’s Burden” and Fake Feminist Narratives

Take up the White Man’s Burden, send for the best ye breed,
Go bind your sons to exile, to serve your captives need – new-caught, sullen peoples, Half-devil and half-child…
Take up the White Man’s burden, the savage wars of peace.

— Rudyard Kipling (1899)

The 2011 UK census recorded that Asian groups together numbered roughly 7% of Britain’s population, Black people 3% and mixed-race 2%, making a BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) total of 12%.  In various combinations they are the decedents of people who’ve once been owned, colonised, lost their lands, original culture, languages etc, and in modern societies have little or no collective institutional or financial power, to combat their ghettoisation in the lower reaches the UK class system.  The reason they are here, subject to western structural racism, is because the Tony Blairs of the 18th and 19th C slaughtered and enslaved their ancestors.  Throughout this period of the slavery and racist-imperialist gravy-train – and as Rudyard Kipling’s famous sentiments demonstrate – this oppression was represented as doing indigenous peoples some sort of service or favour.

Elites abandoning the post-war decolonisation consensus in our era, returned to this racist faked foreign policy benevolence, force-feeding the public the narrative, that from intrusive Iraq, Afghanistan wars and elsewhere, ‘America is spreading democracy’.  The extent to which America is itself a democracy is up for debate, but this marketing is simply a rehash, of the 19th C ‘Onward march of western civilisation’ expansionist ideology. When asked, Ghandi is reputed to have mocked the notion of western civilisation saying ‘I think it would be a good idea’.

Modern racist-imperialists – prominently Blair, his former ministers and his media enablers – blatantly reuse tropes of the same racist propaganda.  As the US project in Afghanistan grinds to a halt and tragedy overtakes the country, this propaganda practice has again gone into overdrive.  The BBC and most of the corporate media continue to re-spin the years of western domination of Afghanistan as about, educating its women and children.  In light of the new US withdrawal position, this is not just last year’s Orwell-like Ministry of Truth-style propaganda, but also a racist narrative that’s again hundreds of years old.  During the period of the 18th/19th C imperialist gravy-train, western conquest was similarly represented as ‘civilising the primitive savage’ and justified by narratives of supposedly ‘teaching the ‘w*gs/ darkies Christianity’.  Obscuring the slurs of implied ethnic primitivism from modern media presentation, hardly changes the truth of the material and ideological dynamic.

The ‘educating Afghan women and children’ narrative would, as public discourse, be treated with the shocked incredulity it deserves, were indigenous Afghan casualties, from western conquest and occupation, not as a editorial agenda frequently media played down, effaced and censored from representation,   No matter how many Afghan mothers protest the western killing of their children, this phenomenon has been mainly absented from prominence in news agendas.

When the UK Times unusually broke ranks reporting a 2009 US atrocity, it was left to campaigning scrutiny site Media Lens to follow up in 2010, writing… “American-led troops dragged Afghan children from their beds and shot them during a night raid on December 27 last year, leaving ten people dead. Afghan government investigators said that eight of the dead were schoolchildren, and that some of them had been handcuffed before being killed.”

The extent of the problem meant in 2011 after a further nine children died in a NATO air strike, even President Karzai – an ambitious local politician in effect, simply a western satrap – was forced against potential self-interest, to embarrass General Petraeus publicly stating   “On behalf of the people of Afghanistan I want you to stop the killings of civilians” and the subsequent apology was “not enough”.   The France 24 news site covering Karzai’s statement, also referred to the similar indigenous 65 non-combatants killed during operations in Kunar province’s Ghaziabad district; six civilians killed in neighbouring Nangarhar province, and the hundreds who took to the streets of Kabul protesting the killing of children, all by western forces.

The brutal Taliban shooting of Malala Yousafzai was used as a propaganda boost to the ‘advancing civilisation’ narrative by western media and political elites.  But it is perhaps significant that the Taliban who are hardly public relations sophisticates, felt they need only appeal to the lived experience of indigenous people in Afghanistan and the bordering area of Pakistan – in a 2013 response to the surviving Malala, publicly questioning…

if you were shot but [by] Americans in a drone attack, would world have ever heard updates on your medical status? Would you be called ‘daughter of the nation’? Would the media make a fuss about you? Would General Kiyani have come to visit you and would the world media be constantly reporting on you?… Would a Malala day be announced?… More than 300 innocent women and children have been killed in drones attacks but who cares… (numbers unverified).

Even career politician former President Karzai was similarly in line with grassroots experiences, after this year’s withdrawal announcement, telling Russia’s RT (UK) “The US has lost the war in Afghanistan…years ago, when it bombed Afghan homes”.  And that this western violence had recruited for the indigenous Afghan Taliban and enabled them. “Things went wrong. They (Taliban) began to re-emerge and the part of the population went with them.”

Given that women and their children are most often the first victims of war, there has never been a significant grassroots pro-imperialism feminist movement.  In fact, in contrast to the attempts by pro-war neoliberals to camouflage their atrocities in the clothing of women’s concerns, a generational spanning tradition of anti-war feminists exists, including figures like Jane Adams, Ruth Adler, Vera Brittain, Betty Reardon, and Sylvia Pankhurst who opposed the Italian conquest of Ethiopia.  Current media spin about supposedly helping women in Afghanistan also deliberately side-lines significant figures like CodePink’s Medea Benjamin who recently commented…“A shout out to all who joined CODEPINK and other peace groups to oppose the invasion of Afghanistan. From Bush to Obama, we called for our troops to come home. Now we have to stop the military-industrial complex from dragging us into new wars.”

Another issue is can altruism – particularly with regard to educating indigenous women and children – be remotely believed as a motivation for those responsible for the West’s conquest of Afghanistan? Education has been comodified in George W. Bush’s America, and resulting student debt is at record levels.  Similarly, in contradiction to previous UK Labour Party traditions, the governments comprising PM Tony Blair, Chancellor Gordon Brown and their cabinets abolished the mandatory student support grant and even introduced fees for what had previously been free education.  Consequently, the marketing of the state education policies of Blair et al were frequently parodied by Party grassroots supporters as instead ‘Exploitation, Exploitation, Exploitation’.  Blair’s New Labour cuts to lone parent benefits – primarily harming single mothers and their children – is frequently cited as the moment Labour’s traditional support realised they had been betrayed by neoliberal entryism.  Would Britain’s neoliberal political elite attacking domestic lone mothers and working-class opportunities, really expend financial resources just to help Afghan women and their children?

Historian David Stannard has documented 100 million dead indigenous people of the Americas as victims of the largest holocaust in human history, occurring as a result of the overall conquest of the continent. For its part the US currently has a population of 331+ million people.  There are only 6+ million Native Americans left as part of this population, whose life chances are largely limited by the constraints of the Reservation system. Native Americans are practically un-findable, excluded, in most US cities, and invisible on film and TV.  If President George W Bush wanted to help indigenous people, he could have started at home.

If Bush simply wanted to ‘do good’, given former manufacturing city powerhouses like Detroit are wastelands, suffering from the export of US manufacturing jobs to global sweatshop economies, he could have fought poverty and the resulting homelessness crisis.  Perhaps most significantly he could have tackled the economic underpinnings of the ongoing post-19th C Black human rights crisis.  Are then we really supposed to believe his US conquest of Afghanistan was about some sort of ‘white man’s burden’ altruism?

In contradiction to the western white man’s burden narrative, both Bush and Blair presided over torture programs victimising Muslim people-of-colour.  One victim of the UK Blair torture regime – Fatima Boudchar – was actually pregnant when kidnapped along with her husband for rendition.  In Afghanistan torture was carried out at Bagram which corporate news outlets largely misrepresent as simply an airbase.  Most of the news outlets now pretending to be outraged by human rights concerns under the new Taliban, spun western torture under the entirely new invented term ‘water boarding’ as if it were akin to harmless surfing.  For decades prior to this it was simply known as a Nazi torture technique.  Not particularly a secret given it was represented even in popular film culture.  In Battle of the V1 (1959), a Polish female partisan subjected to Nazi water torture dies after her heart gives out.  In Circle of Deception (1960), it’s features, similarly used on a Canadian officer played by Bradford Dillman.  Yet, when the victims are simply Muslim people-of-colour, the status of the torture technique suddenly changes.

So what are the real incentives behind the US-led conquest of Afghanistan?  On 9/11 the Pentagon and Twin Towers were attacked by 15 violent Sunni Whabbist Saudi Arabians and four other Muslims.  It was suggested that Saudi Whabbists had used the Afghanistan wilderness as a training ground.  The extent of cultural collusion between the Pashton Afghan Taliban and Whabbist Saudi Arabs is often disputed.  In any case Osama Bin Laden was found in neighbouring Pakistan.  The question is if you want to combat violent Saudi Arabian Whabbists, why not stop their export and go to source – Saudi Arabia itself? Saudi Arabia is not only the source of the 9/11 attackers but its appalling human rights on the oppression of women and judicial punishment arguably exceeds that of pre-invasion Afghanistan.  In fact, since 9/11 the US instead of dealing Saudi Arabia which coincidentally is also its long term regional ally and oil supplier, has attacked or militarily threatened numerous countries that either have nothing to do with the country, or even in ethnic terms have an adversarial relationship to the Saudis – among these predominantly Shia Iraq, Syria, Iran and Berber Libya.

The approach Julian Assange and Wikileaks took to the issue in 2011 was to follow the money, and consequently put some flesh on the notion of a ‘Forever War’ that President Biden is currently citing in justifying US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The goal is to use Afghanistan to wash money out of the tax bases of the US and Europe through Afghanistan and back into the hands of a transnational security elite. The goal is an endless war, not a successful war.

What Assange and Wikileaks are alluding to is a form of ‘Military Keynesianism’.  Keynesian economics originated as a method of circumventing the dictatorship of the marketplace, for societies to instead allocate value to things deemed socially functional – sometimes this is augmented by printing money to maintain particular activities. It was supposed to help society’s poor and working-class.  In our era it has been a way of redirecting money to the corporate rich – here particularly the military industries.  The money printing supporting this – like so many things – has been relabelled, and now termed ‘Quantitative Easing’, but condemned as Welfare or Socialism for the Rich by working-class activists.

This is not the end of the incentives Afghanistan offers.  The corporate media are now suggesting the indigenous Afghan Taliban might be motivated by the country’s wealth in Lithium – vital for cell phone products – and Copper deposits.  Strange in two decades of coverage, it has never been suggested this was a motivation for the US to go halfway around the world.

It is also worth looking at how Afghanistan fits into the entire Neo-Con agenda.  Globalised capitalism is very good at internalising its profits, while externalising its costs onto the general public and society at large.  Economically, globalised capitalism doesn’t’ actually work unless subsidised by unfeasible levels of fossil fuel supply at therefore unfeasible low cost levels.  The general public has to bear the social cost, the environmental cost, the cost of wars for oil and the potential national security cost of not having localised manufacturing production.

In keeping with this and in contrast to any genuine post-9/11 agenda, US Neo-Con wars have predominantly had two functions – attacking oil rich and/or Russian allied nations.  It only takes a casual look at the regional map to show that a US military presence in Afghanistan provides a useful jumping off point for a war or simple military intimidation of Iran.  It also gives access to gas powerhouse Turkmenistan and potentially moves America’s military ever closer to Russia’s borders.  Predictably, despite Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, and Libya, at no time during the US-led occupation did the corporate media query the military’s relationship to the country’s borders in the manner that they are doing now the indigenous Taliban are in charge.

Fuel prices are close to record highs, something that is regarded as a detriment to global trade.  As Biden announced his intention to go through with the troop withdrawal in Afghanistan, OPEC said they were willing to increase global supply.  Iran seeing the knife about to taken from its throat seemed believe they were about to be let back into the global oil market, and boasted of being able to boost production.  Israel contrived a dispute with Iran over a tanker, apparently believing that this might have a negative effect on any potential ongoing US/Iran negotiations, designed to bring the country in from the cold.

If this conjunction plays-out the way it appears, then Biden ironically for equally capitalist materialistic and environmental hazardous reasons, is going to be the first prominent Democrat in decades, to open up clear blue water between himself and the Republican pro-war Neo-Con agenda, but at least hopefully we will be avoiding attacks on Iran and other future wars.

In the meantime those like Tony Blair who have hitched their careers to the Neo-Con imperialist wagon train will continue to impotently stamp their rhetorical feet, while demanding that their ridiculous white saviour narrative be believed.  While aided and abetted by the BBC and corporate media, seemingly unaware they are doing last year’s Ministry of Truth propaganda, and repeating century old racisms.

Afterword:

In reaction to Tony Blair’s latest media temper tantrum, Peter Galbraith, former UN deputy special representative for Afghanistan, said:

In terms of what was imbecilic, frankly it was the strategy that was followed for 20 years, which was to try to build a highly centralised state in a country that was as diverse – geographically and ethnically – as Afghanistan, and to engage in a counterinsurgency strategy without a local partner and the local partner was corrupt, ineffective, illegitimate.

The post Afghanistan:  The Abomination of “White Man’s Burden” and Fake Feminist Narratives first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The United States Does Not Learn from its Past Mistakes

It is said that Afghanistan is the grave yard of Empires. Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, the Empire of Great Britain, the Soviet Union and now the American Empire and its NATO allies have all suffered defeat at the hands of the fiercely independent Afghans.

As the World watches in disbelief, the American-backed government in Afghanistan, and its American-trained army, has melted away before the advances of the insurgent Taliban forces. For many, the chaotic American evacuation of South Vietnam in 1975 has obvious parallels to today’s events.

The American occupation of Afghanistan has lasted 20 years and has cost the American tax payer more than $2 trillion on war and reconstruction. This information is according to the office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, set up to monitor the situation in Afghanistan.

According to SIGAR there also is the human cost of 2,443 U.S. troops killed and 20,666 more injured in the conflict. In addition there were 1,144 allied troops who died. It has been even worse for Afghans, with at least 66,000 members of its military dead and more than 48,000 civilians have been killed, and thousands more injured. The Agency estimates that these statistics are both likely far below the actual figures. The destruction of Afghanistan and the environmental damage to the country will affect Afghanistan’s future for decades to come.

Many informed observers have been predicting the disaster that we are witnessing today. It is only the public statements of the American military, American politicians which are dutifully reported by the American corporate press that has promoted the myth of winning the war in Afghanistan. The result is that the American taxpayer, and voter, has been fed a barrage of lies and half-truths in order to justify a policy that had little or no merit and little chance of success.

The only people who benefited from the Afghan War were the United States Military Industrial complex, its paid lobbyists, the American Generals who get well paid jobs with arms manufacturers after they retire and the politicians who depend upon political donations from the corporations that profit from the system of endless war.

The rational for invading Afghanistan “reportedly” was the attacks on 9/11 and America wanted to avenge those terrorist crimes.

The problem is that preparations for invading Afghanistan were taking place long before the 9/11 terrorist incidents. The politicians and the corporate media repeated the mantra that Osama bin Laden was behind the attacks and America demanded revenge.

The second major problem is that the United States and Britain trained and armed the Islamic resistance against the Soviet presence in the country. This Islamic resistance evolved into the Taliban who imposed Islamic rule on the country. It was this Islamic resistance that defeated the liberal and socialist elements that were trying to modernize Afghanistan.

The United States issued an ultimatum to the Taliban to turn over bin Laden to the Americans. Bin Laden had been trained and armed by the CIA and Britain’s MI6. Bin Laden was a hero to Afghans because of the role he played in liberating the country from Soviet Occupation. The Taliban did not refuse the request but asked for proof that bin Laden had been involved in 9/11.

The Americans did not provide any proof, instead they started bombing Afghanistan and then invaded it, driving the Taliban from power and starting a 20-year-long insurgency against the American and NATO invasion.

According to the FBI, Osama bin Laden was not behind the attacks on 9/11. They report that Khalid Sheik Mohammad was the architect behind the 9/11 attacks. He confessed after being water boarded more than 160 times. In terms of actual attackers identified by the FBI, 15 were citizens of Saudi Arabia, two were from Lebanon and one was from Egypt. No Afghans were directly involved.

Immediately after the attacks on 9/11, US Vice-President Dick Cheney said that the United States had to invade Iraq. US Secretary of State General Colin Powell responded that Iraq had nothing to do with the attacks on 9/11 and Saddam, who ideologically was an Arab nationalist, was a mortal enemy of the Islamic ideology espoused by Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda, and the Taliban.

There was no talk of bombing or invading Saudi Arabia, and, in fact, there was no serious investigation into who was behind the 9/11 attacks. Once bin Laden was accused there was no need to investigate further. Afghanistan and Iraq were invaded as the United States launched its war on terrorism. Other countries that were in America’s cross hairs included Libya, Yemen, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria and Iran.

There is no credible evidence that any of these countries were involved with the 9/11 attacks. Countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates that were funding the Islamic insurgents against the countries targeted by the US as “supporters of terrorism” were not investigated for involvement in the 9/11 attacks.

There is an ongoing court case in the United States that is suing Saudi Arabia for its “alleged” involvement with the 9/11 attacks. However, the United States government has been fighting the case and not co-operating with the judicial proceeding.

Now after 20 years of occupation and failed “State making,” the United States and its allies are fleeing Afghanistan and leaving in their wake a destroyed country. The cost in human terms has been terrible. Perhaps as many as one million Afghans have been killed and injured and millions were turned into refugees.

Can you imagine what you could do with the two trillion dollars in the United States where there is a desperate need to build infrastructure, to address income inequalities, fix a failing education system and create a publically funded health care system for all Americans?

The United States is not really a democracy but a plutocracy, or even an oligarchy, where money controls the political system and dictates policy. Only a tiny percent directly profit from the War economy. Similar arguments can be made about the money wasted and lost lives as a result of the War in Vietnam. It seems that that the United States does not learn the lessons from its own history and realistically assess the reasons for its decline.

The post The United States Does Not Learn from its Past Mistakes first appeared on Dissident Voice.

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

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

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

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

Nader’s Raiders of the Lost Warriors

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

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

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

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

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

Carter Doctrine 25 years before 9/11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trail of Tears, Trails of Evidence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Class Goat”

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

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

Mathematician Finally Solves Goat Problem: Here's the Answer

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

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

Casualties of War — Truth, Honor, Duty to Protect 

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

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

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

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

Dan Kovalik

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

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

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

Here, Parry:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Steven Markoff stated on Nader’s show.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Steven Markoff, The Case Against George W. Bush

Torture, Rendition, Yellow Cake, WMD’s

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Evidence of Crimes as Eight Bullet Points

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Steven Markoff, The Case Against George W. Bush

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shadow of War — Ghosts of the Dead

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

His conclusion:

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

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

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

I rest my case.

— Steven Markoff, The Case Against George W. Bush

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

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

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

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

main article image

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Biden Government Running True to Form

The least surprising news item in the past week was that the United States government under President Biden had decided that American troops would after all, despite Ex- President Trump’s order, remain in Afghanistan. This breaks an agreement that had been reached by the Trump administration and the Taliban that US troops would all be gone by May 20 21.

It was unclear in the Trump agreement whether the withdrawal of “US Forces” included the United States mercenaries who for at least the past year have outnumbered formal US troops. What Trump’s negotiated agreement meant for the other “allied” forces in Afghanistan remained unclear at the time of the announcement and remains equally unclear today. The mainstream media persist in referring to those troops as NATO forces, but they include Australian troops who are not members of NATO.

The Australian government has been strangely silent in the light of Trump’s original announcement that US troops would be leaving, and they remain quiet in the light of the new administration’s revision of the Trump plan. It is a safe bet that whatever the Americans finally do will be agreeable to the Australians. There has not been the least hint of an independent Australian position. The actual role of the Australian troops remains a non-topic of discussion in the Australian media.  Even the recent scandal of Australian troops abusing and killing locals was a five-day wonder and has now disappeared from media coverage.

The ostensible reason for Australian troops remaining in Afghanistan is to “train” the Afghan forces. This was always a singularly unconvincing reason, not least because such “training” has been spectacularly unsuccessful with the high death rate of those troops, their even higher rate of defections, and a singular unwillingness to actually fight being their dominant characteristic.

The ostensible reasons for the Biden administration’s change of heart about withdrawing US troops was the unsettled nature of the government and their inability to control the countryside which is variously described as overrun with foreign ISIS fighters; not under Afghanistan government control (certainly true); or uncertainty about the political directions of a Taliban government, including protecting the rights of women in the country.

What never ceases to amaze one is the inability of the western media, and the Australian version are a classic example, to even hint at the real reasons for staying, when the foreigners who occupy Afghanistan are manifestly unwelcome. The protestations of the Afghan “government” that they appreciate the presence of foreign troops on their soil is manifestly self-serving. Their survival rate post liberation could be counted in days.

The real reasons for the American intention to stay were concealed from the very beginning. United States president Bush justified the invasion on the alleged refusal of the Taliban government that then ruled the country, to give up Osama bin Laden, the alleged mastermind of the attacks in New York City and Washington DC on 11 September 2001.

Even if that was a legitimate reason, and it manifestly was not, the refusal to surrender bin Laden surely disappeared the day he died, which was in December 2001 from natural causes. His obituary was even published in the New York Times. We were later treated to the charade of an American foray into Pakistan to “capture” bin Laden with the body then being buried at sea. The troops responsible for this charade were later all killed in a helicopter crash. The mainstream media remained singularly incurious about the amazing sequence of events.

The real reasons for the invasion, and the continuing occupation nearly 20 years later, and the reason the Americans and their lackies will stay as long as they can are twofold: drugs and geography.

One of the real reasons the Taliban government had to be deposed in 2001 was that they had drastically reduced the growing of the poppy in the areas of Afghanistan they actually controlled.

That poppy production in turn was processed into heroin, for which Afghanistan is once again the major source in the world. It provides the CIA with their greatest “off the books” revenue. They are not going to relinquish that money and the multiple benefits of controlling the world’s largest source of heroin it gives them, without putting up a major fight.

It is one of the enduring disgraces of the western mainstream media that this factor is almost completely ignored. When the importance of heroin to the world is acknowledged it is almost always totally bereft of any discussion of the CIA’s crucial role. One can read more about the role of heroin in UN reports than one can in the mainstream media.

The other major reason that the United States is reluctant to leave Afghanistan is its geography. Afghanistan shares borders with seven nations, including China. It has friendly relations with none of the seven, all of whom look to either Russia or China or both as their most important friends. All of those countries belong to one or more of the various organisations set up in recent years to facilitate their development, including the Shanghai Corporation Organisation.

During the latter months of the Trump administration the appalling Mike Pompeo tried very hard to woo some of those nations to his anti-China crusade. That he failed to make much headway is a matter of record, but that failure does not mean that the Americans have given up on their ambitions for the region. One can expect similar efforts to be made by the Biden administration, whose antipathy to China took very little time to become apparent.

One can hardly be surprised at the stances being taken by the Biden administration. He, like much of the senior people he has surrounded himself with, are essentially reruns from the Obama years. The old saying goes that one cannot teach an old dog new tricks, and that is becoming more true with each day of the Biden administration.

The positive point is that while the United States administration looks more and more like a rerun of the Obama years, the world has moved on, and nowhere more so than in the Asian – Europe landmass.

It is already economically the most dynamic region in the world and that is expected to continue. Fortunately for the world Eurasia is reasserting itself. The big question is: will the Americans recognise that and scale down their ambitions. Frankly, the signs are not promising.

The post The Biden Government Running True to Form first appeared on Dissident Voice.

The Leopard Doesn’t Change its Spots: US Foreign Policy Under Biden

It is a great pity that the Australian mainstream media is so narrow in its choice of sources for stories to appear on its pages and in its telecasts. This point was vividly brought home to me when I read in the English language version of the Russian website Pravda.ru (truth) about the alleged killing of Al Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden. The story was written by Larry Romanoff and entitled The Death of Osama bin Laden 10 January 2021).

Mr Romanoff details at some length the whole sorry saga of the alleged raid by six United States helicopters on a house in Pakistan we were told was where bin Laden was living with his three wives. A total of 77 marines literally travelled on these helicopters, crossing Pakistan airspace for nearly 3 hours. They then spent 40 minutes engaged in an intense fire fight with the occupants of the house, before returning to their ship with bin Laden’s body.

The body is then carefully tended to before being disposed of at sea. The world was treated to the whole episode being watched by Hillary Clinton and others. Mr Romanoff carefully documents the whole sorry saga, including the multiple versions offered by the United States as a response to the various improbabilities of the whole saga being revealed by reporters in the United States and elsewhere.

The scepticism was well founded. Not a word of the original version was true, from the long helicopter flight to bin Laden’s alleged hideaway, to the equally fictional burial at sea. As different parts of the story were progressively destroyed by the application of logic, common sense, well-founded scepticism about military truthfulness and a host of other reasons to doubt the original version, so it was progressively changed. It has now reached a point where almost none of the original version survives.

Romanoff was not the first author to raise serious questions about the alleged death in American hands of bin Laden. In 2008 the American author David Ray Griffin published a book Osama bin Ladin: Dead or Alive in which he sceptically reviewed the claims that bin Laden lived beyond his originally reported death date of December 2001. This was the last date upon which any messages from bin Laden had been intercepted.

Griffin’s cautious conclusion was that bin Laden had, in fact, died in December 2001 from the effects of the long-standing illness that he had suffered from for many years. This raises the obvious question: why then did the Americans go to such lengths to convey to the world that this “dangerous man” was still alive and plaguing American efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan?

The answer to that question is that the United States invasion and occupation of Afghanistan was based on a series of lies, of which the alleged role of bin Laden in the events of 11 September 2001 was but one of many tales fed to a gullible public to justify United States geopolitical ambitions. The United States invasion of Afghanistan took place in October 2001, literally because of Afghanistan’s refusal to surrender bin Laden. If bin Laden had been the mastermind behind the events of 11 September 2001 and his liberty was a major motive justifying the invasion, then it would have been very difficult to continue to justify the invasion if (a) he was, in fact, living in Pakistan, and (b) he died less than two months after the invasion. Keeping bin Laden alive for a further decade served multiple purposes, not the least of which was justifying the invasion of Afghanistan.

The bin Laden saga causes one to think of other occasions where the Americans have lied to justify their going to war against some unfortunate country. Before bin Laden had ever been heard of, the Americans had mounted a full-scale attack on Vietnam. The alleged justification was said to have been a North Vietnamese attack upon an American warship during the reign of President Lyndon Johnson.

That also turned out to be a complete lie, but not before the Americans and their allies, including Australia, had spent more than a decade waging war on the North Vietnamese. Millions of people died in that war before the Americans, somewhat rarely, were forced out in 1975.

Similarly, big lies were told in 2002 to justify the attack upon Iraq. On this occasion the ostensible reason was Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction”. No such weapons existed. One of the major real reasons for the war was control of Iraq’s oil resources. That and its geography are the major reasons the Americans and their allies, again including Australia, are still there more than 18 years later. This is despite a specific demand by the Iraqi parliament in January 2020 that all foreign troops should leave.

A similar situation applies in Syria where the Americans did not even bother to lie about the reason for being there. To this day they have been stealing Syrian oil. Were it not for Russia’s intervention at the request of the legitimate Syrian government in 2015, Syria would undoubtably have suffered “regime change” at the hands of the Americans.

The big question now is, will the incoming Biden administration be any different, not just from Trump, but from all United States presidents who since Kennedy have waged war in multiple venues around the world. The answer to that question has to be a resounding No.

If anything, the incoming Biden administration will be even more aggressive than Trump who despite his inflammatory rhetoric and multiple acts of aggression against various foreign leaders from Venezuela to North Korea never actually invaded any other country. His apparent refusal to do so was undoubtably one of the reasons he was so disliked by the United States deep state, for whom waging war is such a tremendously profitable exercise.

It is difficult to see Biden resisting such pressure. He was after all vice president under Obama until only four years ago. During his previous reign in office the United States was engaged in multiple wars and regime change operations. It is unlikely that the leopard has changed its spots. Statements made by Biden in recent weeks, and those of his equally hawkish Vice President Harris  give one no confidence at all that the United States leopard has in any way changed its spots.

Biden has not made any secret of his desire for a more assertive United States role, making hawkish statements about a “return” to Europe (from where they never left) and making no signs of any willingness to disengage from the ill-judged intervention in Syria. If he has made any statements about his intentions in Iraq, I have not heard them.

Although more conciliatory on Iran than Trump, Biden nonetheless wants to renegotiate the deal signed when he was vice president (the JCPOA). The Iranians have made it clear they are not interested in renegotiating the JCP0A.  In this they have the support of both Russia and China, both of whom see Iran as a valuable link in the multiple trade deals being constructed under the BRI and other arrangements.

Biden will also find that Europe has changed in the past four years, not least because of the relentless America-first policies pursued by Trump. The Europeans have just signed a huge trade deal with China that was seven years in gestation. That agreement infuriated the Americans and it is difficult to envisage the attitude of the new administration differing markedly from that pursued by Trump and his appalling secretary of state Pompeo.

While one is hopeful that the United States will show a more mature vision toward China and the European Union than has been apparent for the past four years, it would be unwise to expect too much by way of real change in United States foreign policy.

The post The Leopard Doesn’t Change its Spots: US Foreign Policy Under Biden first appeared on Dissident Voice.

Obama: the Greatest War President

Jeremy Kuzmarov has written a seminal book, Obama’s Unending Wars: Fronting the Foreign Policy of the Permanent Warfare State (Clarity Press, August 2019), on the US Military Empire led for eight years by a black-faced president residing in the African slave-constructed White House.

The author peals the imperial white mask off the black skin in an analogy to Frantz Fanon’s classic work. Racism, colonization and contemporary neo-colonialization have distorted the psyches of many people of all colors. Barak Obama’s black Kenyan roots allowed him to do the white man’s bidding throughout Africa, and many other nations. While George Bush founded the US African Command (AFRICOM), in 2007, it was Obama, who set about implementing military (and economic) domination over African governments and lands.

Kuzmarov’s impeccable and extensive research reveals the reality of Obama’s eight presidential years favoring the rich class’ economic and military-warring interests. Like a few other seminal books about the US Military Empire—Oliver Stone/Peter Kuznick The Untold History of the USA and Douglas Valentine The CIA & Organized Crime—this historian has read, skimmed through and compiled thousands of books and pertinent articles about his subject. One might dispute the author’s analysis or conclusions but an honest reader cannot dispute the facts with which he shows how jingoist, brutal and unjust US foreign policy is.

Obama, the drone president, stood for seven aggressive wars at once, more than any other US president. In my view, he was the worst president in US history, because he hypocritically offered hope to the downtrodden, the discriminated against and the general working population, all the while doing the rich white man’s dirty deeds. He beguiled these folks, and he could get away with it, namely, because he had black skin and a Harvard voice, which he used to cheat people of all colors and nations.1

Speaking to white and black readers sans condescension, Kuzmarov shows how many white progressives, who, in their anxiety to reject any racist appearance, embraced this warmongering president. Obama also convinced most African-Americans to give him leeway to do them justice, which he never did. Deluded African-American men joined the military in greater numbers than at any other time in history, and so they too fight for the weapons industry’s wars for profits.

Obama followed a traditional American Exceptionalism war-making approach with Woodrow Wilson as his principle idol. Wilson sent 13,000 US troops to invade Russia as the young revolution started, and set the tone for permanent bellicosity against this nation. Obama liked to be compared with him as he did with John F. Kennedy, who oversaw the Bay of Pigs invasion against Cuba, in 1961, who brought the world close to a world war nuclear catastrophe the next year, and who backed multiple coups and right-wing regimes under the benign sounding Alliance for Progress.

Like Kennedy, Obama provided a liberal front for policies that exacerbated internal inequalities and setback movements for progressive change, keeping us locked in the Cold War, and setting the basis for a new Cold War. Kuzmarov points out that the ramping up of police training and other alleged security measures had a “disturbingly negative impact on public safety, human rights, violence against women and democratic institutions,” quoting from an NGO study.

Obama was also a terrible manager of tax monies. Kuzmarov wrote:

The Obama administration is estimated to have added as much as $10 trillion to the U.S. national debt, the largest total of any president in history, and oversaw an increase in the debt to GDP ratio from 64.8% to 104.7% and a balance of payments deficit of $463 billion in 2015. China’s ownership of over one trillion of the U.S. debt helped to shift the economic balance in its favor as the U.S. dollar began losing its appeal as a global currency exchange, further undercutting the claim that Obama was a deft manager of empire. His administration wasted taxpayer money on billion dollar boondoggles like Lockheed Martin’s F-35 fighter jet, which military analyst Pierre Sprey called ‘an inherently terrible airplane,’ while adversaries like Russia began to develop greater electronic and cyberwarfare capabilities and long-range missiles capable of threatening U.S. military bases.

In chapter two, using lies to market Obama, Kuzmarov wrote:

Strategically casting himself in Dreams from My Father as an heir to the early 1960s organizing tradition, Obama underplays the significance of his employment for a Manhattan-based consulting house to multi-national corporations, Business International Corporation (BIC)… Headed by a close friend of former vice president Hubert Humphrey, BIC had functioned as a CIA front with a subspecialty in recruiting left-wing organizers to use as assets, and in infiltrating foreign labor unions with the goal of promoting disruptions in targeted economies.

Instead of real community organizing, he worked for the Gamaliel Foundation, a satellite of the Ford Foundation. Once Obama became president, he closed down the only child welfare office in Chicago’s south side ghetto, and cut funds to black colleges. He made political friendships with other major capitalists such as Henry Crown and his son Lester, billionaires who merged their Material Service Corporation with the world’s sixth largest weapons company, General Dynamics. The Crowns own one-fifth of GD. Throughout his presidency, General Dynamics always benefited from the wars Obama oversaw.

In “Black Skin, White Masks” chapter, we read Frantz Fanon’s warning that the deep psychological effects of colonialism,

would yield a breed of post-independence leaders in Africa, who were submissive to white Western interests, and willing to keep their own people subordinate not just because they were cynically out for themselves but, because they believed in their own inferiority.

[Obama] status as a civil rights icon was undercut by many of his policies and aloofness from the plight of the black underclass. Obama’s yearning for peace was also a mirage and only apparent when he thought it might benefit him politically.”

He convinced 53 of 54 African nations to accept this militarization for neo-colonial profiteering. Obama’s agricultural policy promoted genetic engineering and chemical intensive agriculture at the urging of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, DuPont and Monsanto, whose former executives served in his administration.

Obama’s “Power Africa initiative” relied heavily on US-Europe-African private sector investment. Obama also aided oil and mineral corporations in taking natural resources through massive bloodshed in many countries. The U.S. had amassed over 60 military outposts and was running one and a half military missions per day. Obama “intervened” in Yemen, Somalia, Uganda, Niger, Rwanda & Congo, Sudan & South Sudan internal conflicts on the side of right-wing factions and governments. He sent them military equipment, bombs and specially trained killer Special Forces.

“The Libyan intervention in particular shows Obama to be the kind of leader Frantz Fanon warned about: a black who served the interests of the white masters and helped legitimize their exploitative practices. Muammar Gaddafi was a long-time foil of the American Empire,” Kuzmarov wrote.

Gaddafi led a bloodless revolution, in 1969, against the Sanussi King Idris, a corrupt U.S. and British ally who gave concessions to Western oil companies in return for military and technical aid. Under Gaddafi, no Libyan went to bed hungry. Every newly-weds received $50,000 to start a family. Full education and health care were paid for out of the national oil income and taxes.

A Pan-Arab and African supportive of the Palestinian cause, Gaddafi kicked out the U.S. military when he came to power in 1969 and placed Libya’s high quality, light sweet crude oil under national control, reinvesting profits in health and education. Life expectancy increased from fifty-four to seventy-one years under his rule, the literacy rate went from six to 88 percent, and homelessness was eliminated. Through its state-owned bank which did not charge interest, Libya also financed an African satellite that slashed communications costs and became a world leader in hydrological engineering due to development of a man-made river that won a major UNESCO award for ‘remarkable scientific research work on water usage in arid areas.’

Obama and NATO invaded Libya in 2011 to protect “innocent civilians”.

“The Obama administration spent about $1 billion on Libya’s ‘revolution,’ and helped NATO with everything from munitions to surveillance aircraft, carrying out roughly 20 percent of the over 26,000 bombing sorties in the seven-month NATO mission that included dropping cluster munitions, phosphorus and Fuel Air Explosives which are outlawed under international law.”

“Hillary Clinton jubilantly told a reporter. ‘We came, we saw, he died,’”. “CIA director John Brennan told speechwriter Ben Rhodes that Qaddafi’s death ‘marked a fitting end for one of the biggest rats of the 20th century.’” Brennan later became the architect for fake news “russiagate.”

The tremendous progress for the entire population that the Qaddafi government had accomplished was destroyed by various terrorist factions backed by US/NATO. Since their “human rights victory”, estimates run at 600,000 killed and more displaced. Today, Libya is a haven for Al Qaeda and Islam State torturous warriors (numbering upwards to 10,000). They traffic in arms and international terrorism, make slaves of workers, sex slaves of women, and force African refugees to flee to Europe on boats that sink, causing the deaths of many thousands of people.

Re-colonializing Africa entailed Obama’s personal delivery of drones to murder Africans, also people in the Middle Eastern, whom he and his buddy, CIA chief John Brennan, considered enemies. The pair poured over “mug shots and biographies of presumed terrorists that looked like they came from a ‘high school yearbook’… One official termed them the ‘macabre baseball cards of unconventional war.’”

Sensitive to macho critiques that he wasn’t tough enough to be a Real American President, Obama sent out a press release, May 29, 2012, to the effect that he was the best drone president killer. Eighty-three of American Exceptionalists polled loved him for it.

Behind the scenes, one of 17 US intelligence services, the Defense Intelligence Agency, warned that this droning of weddings and other public events would backfire, and would create more terrorists than it kills.

During his eight years at the helm, Obama ordered 563 drone strikes against Middle Eastern and African peoples plus more than 1000 in Afghanistan. Internal communications leaked by Wikileaks shows that at least 1100 civilians were killed, plus some US soldiers, and that 90% hit were not the intended target. Obama’s favorite capitalist, Lester Crown, owns large shares in drone technology, and Obama’s second Secretary of State John Kerry owns such stocks as well.

Obama increased the war in Afghanistan, in order, he claimed, to decrease the war. In two separate waves, he sent in 51,000 additional troops (plus 117,000 civilian mercenaries). Just as his predecessors’ wars against the Indo-Chinese people, this warmonger knew this war can’t be won. Yet there is the advantage of opium. When in power, Taliban wiped out most of the opium. Since the US took over, 90% of the world’s opium comes from there, and the CIA has control over much of it. Thus millions of its enemies who border Afghanistan—Iran, China, Russia—are introduced to opium-heroin and become addicted.

Eighteen years into this war, Obama’s weapons industry donor friends also have the advantage of getting many new weapons tested for future use.

The alleged murder of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, on Mayday 2011, by two dozen Navy Seal Team 6 raiders under the direct command of the CIA probably did not take place, Kuzmarov wrote.

US American and Pakistan officials, and US sailors, differ about what took place.

No photos of the body, and others allegedly killed in the house that day, were made public nor were DNA tests allegedly conducted by CIA/DOD and Homeland Security. No independent sources were allowed to see test results, which the government said proved bin Laden was killed that day. They also said they buried him within hours, according to Muslim custom. His body was supposedly thrown from the US warship carrier Carl Vinson. Sailors spoken with said they saw nothing.

Kuzmarov cites expert sources that believe bin Laden had long been dead from an incurable renal failure requiring constant dialyses. Furthermore, how could it be that 30 of these special killer Navy Seal Team 6 were killed three months later when Taliban forces shot down a transport helicopter in which they were traveling? Obama spokespersons said they had not been at bin Laden’s death, but family members asserted the US government turned this elite force into a target by revealing their role in the bin Laden raid. They might have talked?

I skip over the war against Iraq (space limits), which Obama continued from George Bush period, to come to the “Pivot to Asia”.

“The Asia Pivot was symbolically introduced by Hillary Clinton on a U.S. naval destroyer in Manila Bay, the location for America’s original pivot in the 1898 Spanish-American Philippines War. The carefully choreographed event implied a proud continuity from an era most historians consider to be shameful since U.S. soldiers committed heinous atrocities, and at least 200,000 Filipinos were killed,” Kuzmarov wrote.

Resistance against continued US interference in both domestic and foreign policies has increased in many Asian countries since the Asian Pivot began. Islanders on Guam and many other islands dominated by US military are weary of its war games and pollution and want the Yankees to Go Home. This is the case as well for many South Koreans and Japanese.

China is not any military threat but the US has 200 military bases and many other military facilities in the Asian area. China has one outside its own territory (in Djibouti Africa). Yet China, just as Russia, must now spend funds and time building more weapons of defense as the US encroaches closer and closer.

Obama’s pivot failed to get his Trans-Pacific Partnership passed. China’s constructive development projects, such as the “Great Wall of Sand” in the South China Seas, its “one belt, one road initiative,” a massive infrastructural development project aiming to connect the Pacific and Baltic Seas, helps bring it supporters and prestige while the US loses its.

As the United States and Western Europe were mired in growing debt, corruption, and economic and moral decline, China was gradually forging an effective counter-pole to Washington’s New World (dis-)order in conjunction with Putin’s Russia. In April 2015, China took a major step in their campaign to supplant the dollar as the world’s dominant reserve currency when European members of the IMF embraced China’s demand to include the yuan as a unit of IMF currency.

Again, US foreign policy is all about oil/money/dominance. It is estimated that the South China Sea, which the US wants to control, contains 213 billion barrels of oil and 190 trillion cubicle feet of natural gas.

Chapters eight and nine—too many lies, the new cold war with Russia, and Obama’s betrayal of his Cairo vision—are the most detailed-researched of the ten chapters. They cover the war in Syria, the US-neo-fascist coup in Ukraine, the referendum of the Crimean people to join with Russia, Saudi Arabia/Yemen, Zionist Israel and Palestinians.

Obama sent his emissaries to Ukraine to back the right-wing factions against the duly democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych, who sought to trade and partner with both sides: Russia and US/EU. He would not join EU or NATO, so neo-fascists brought about the violent Maidan crisis in February 2014.

Three Georgian mercenaries told Italian TV journalist Glan Micalessin they were the snipers at Maidan on February 20, 2014 when 80-90 people were killed. They were ordered by Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili and paid $1000 each by his military advisor Mamuka Mamulashvilli. Former US 101 Airborn Iraqi war paratrooper Brian Christopher Boyenger accompanied them over several days of the Maidan violence leading up to the coup.

The three Georgians are: Koba Nergadze, Kvarateskelia Zalogi and Alexcander Revazishvilli.

Obama’s special envoy to Ukraine Victoria Nuland told the US ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt who would lead the coup government, and that is what happened. The pro-fascist Svobada party’s hero, Stepan Bandera, became the new government national hero. He supported the Nazis and helped murder 900,000 of Ukraine’s 1.5 million Jews. Svobada got several seats in the coup government.

The US government, and one of its major capitalist partners, George Soros, spent several billion dollars to boost the coup, and even proudly announced this as evidence that “America’s taxes go to humanitarian causes”. The fact that hundreds of workers and demonstrators were killed by pro-fascist groupings was not worth considering.

Forcing a right-wing coup caused the March referendum in the Crimea, in which 96% of the 83% voting cast their ballot to join with Russia. One year later, the very capitalist Forbes magazine, wrote: “The US and European Union may want to save Crimeans from themselves, but the Crimeans are happy right where they are…mostly all [are] in agreement: life with Russia is better than life with Ukraine.” 93% said the referendum was legitimate, only 2% said it was not.

Obama sent money and arms for coup government and neo-fascist mercenary attacks on Eastern Ukraine. Russia offered some support to Donetsk insurgents, but would not bring them into the Russian Federation, which was their desire.

Vice-president Joe Biden, and his son, made big money from the coup government, and its rich associates. This fact is quite relevant today. As I write this review, the House of Representatives has just started an impeachment process against President Donald Trump for, namely, suggesting that Biden and son cheated.

Kuzmarov wrote:

The Biden family was one of the major beneficiaries of America’s interference in Ukraine. While the Vice-President was overseeing U.S. policy toward Ukraine, his son, Hunter joined the board of one of Ukraine’s most profitable and corrupt energy companies, Burisma, which gave the potential to the Bidens of becoming billionaires. Journalist Peter Schweizer points out that Biden regularly consulted with [President Petro] Poroshenko by telephone and made five trips to the Ukraine between 2014 and 2017 while his son’s business partners prepared to strike a profitable deal with controversial and reportedly violent oligarchs Kolomoisky and Zlochevsky, who would benefit from his actions. Schweizer’s investigation further pointed to the disappearance of $1.8 billion in U.S. taxpayer guaranteed money to Ukraine. The IMF loans disappeared after going through Kolomoisky’s private bank.2

Kuzmarov’s chapter nine deals primarily with the countries where the US backed Arab Spring protestors in those countries where the US sought regime change. These protestors rapidly became violent and received US armed support. Where the US backed the governments, protestors were not aided: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, Tunisia.

The Arab Spring quickly turned into a long and dark winter, first in Libya, then in Bahrain, Yemen and Syria where America, promoting regime change, allied with jihadists who corrupted any hope of positive democratic transformation. Little progress was made in the Israeli-Palestine conflict as Obama increased arms shipments even as Israel pulverized Gaza in a murderous 51-day war. The double standards of U.S. foreign policy were vividly apparent in Obama’s copious arms sales to Saudi Arabia as it assaulted Yemen, and Obama’s support for other state sponsors of terrorism like Pakistan and Turkey under strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which no longer required a State Department license to import American weapons.

Supporting Zionism and apartheid against Palestinians in Israel and surrounding areas also led Obama to be tight with the six Sunni Muslim Gulf States.

Over eight years, he sanctioned a record $115 billion in arms sales to the Saudis in 42 separate deals and protected the kingdom by refusing to declassify 28 pages from the 9/11 report on Saudi Arabia, which could possibly detail their role in the terrorist attacks. Obama also vetoed legislation allowing 9/11 victims’ families to sue the Saudi government.

“The Obama administration further provided over $20 billion in new weapons transfers to Saudi Arabia after the Yemen war broke out and forty million pounds worth of jet fuel. Weapons included Apache and Black Hawk helicopters, F-15 jet fighters, cruise missiles, ‘smart bombs,’ white phosphorus, an incendiary that burns through the skin to the bone, and a $1.5 billion shipment of 152 Abrams battle tanks made by General Dynamics, twenty of which were destined to replenish vehicles from Yemen. Previously, the Obama administration sold cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia made by the Rhode Island Company, Textron, whose shell-casings were recovered at the site in Western Yemen.

Since Iran also demands to right to its sovereignty and is principally Shia, Zionist Israel and Sunni Gulf States attack it, the Shias in Yemen, and the multi-religious Baath government of Assad in Syria. Terrorist opponents to the Assad government attack Christians, while Assad’s government protect them. It is also a fact that the majority of Syrians living in Syria back the Assad government and view IS as backed by the US and its allies.3

US/NATO/Israel allowed terrorists IS and al Nursa to murder and expand its base until September 2014 when some effort to fight them began.

To cite one fact concerning such support, Kuzmarov wrote: “One group directly armed by the CIA, Nourredine al Zinki, formed a coalition with an outfit called ‘the bin Laden front.’ It was singled out by Amnesty International for carrying out gruesome atrocities in rebel-held Eastern Aleppo.”

That is why Russia had to come to Syria’s defense, to effectively crush these terrorists since enemy states of Syria would not. It was also Putin who convinced Assad to turn over whatever chemical weapons he had and did so to the world’s greatest producer and user of such horror weapons.

It was President Putin, again, who prevented a war against Iran by helping its government make a deal with the West not to develop atomic weapons, much to Obama’s surprise and perhaps chagrin.

“A key feature of the new Cold War has been the incessant demonization of Russian President Vladimir Putin and depiction of Russia as a neo-Soviet autocracy. Obama said that the main goal of U.S. policy was ‘to put him in a box to stop making mischief’. Such comments were part of Obama’s efforts to cast the new Cold War as a moral crusade against an evil dictator,” Kuzmarov wrote.

Obama began economic sanctions against the Russian government, in 2012, and expanded it many times—as has Donald Trump—to hurt the entire economy and population, all because President Vladimir Putin insists that Russia is sovereign and will not be dictated to. American Exceptionalism ideology will not accpt such rogue brashness.

I skip over the pathetic attempts to vilify Putin and Russia as responsible for the election of Donald Trump, russiagate, as there is so much information and evidence that it is a total lie. Kuzarmov covers it well using sources that know what they are talking about, including previous high-level NSA technicians and intelligence men who turned whistleblowers, William Binney and Edward Snowden.

The last chapter summarizes the many countries in Latin America that Obama “meddled” against, backing the far right and attempting to topple the progressive and pro-socialist oriented new governments, especially those in the ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the People of Our America) economic-political coalition.

This coalition began in 2004 on the initiative of Venezuela President Hugo Chavez and Cuba President Fidel Castro. The conservative Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya saw benefits for the people in joining it, and because of that, right-wing generals, backed by Obama and his Secretary of State Hilliary Clinton, overthrew Zelaya in a coup, June 28, 2009. Obama-Clinton immediately recognized the coup government while the rest of the Americas did not.

Just half a year later, I accompanied Bolivian President Evo Morales to the COP15 climate summit held in Copenhagen as one of two PR workers. I helped him, and sometimes President Chavez, meet the media. These two giants for Latin American sovereignty did not hold their tongues concerning the American Exceptionalist President Par Excellence. Kuzmarov opens thusly:

In December 2009, Venezuela’s leftist President Hugo Chavez gave a speech at the Copenhagen climate summit mocking President Obama, whom he referred to as having won ‘the Nobel Prize of War.’ Chavez considered Obama a phony who had won the peace prize ‘almost the same time as he sent 30,000 soldiers off to kill innocent people in Afghanistan.’ Referencing his famous 2006 speech at the UN when he had held up Noam Chomsky’s book Hegemony or Survival and referred to George W. Bush as the ‘devil,’ Chavez said he ‘still smelled sulfur’ coming from Obama as he was perpetuating many of the same inhuman policies.

Evo Morales, the first indigenous leader in Bolivia’s history, followed Chavez by excoriating Obama for being the only leader to leave the summit’s stage from a concealed door. If Obama genuinely wanted to promote positive social change, Morales said that he should ‘use the money you are spending for wars against the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq, for militarizing Colombia with seven military bases to save lives, to save the planet, our Mother Earth.’

It was exhilarating to see and hear these two real leaders tell it like it is!

Obama’s policies in Latin American were worse than Bush II, who concentrated on the Middle East. When Ecuador’s leftist president Rafael Correa closed U.S. military base at Manta, the rightist Colombian government granted the US five military bases on its territory, to help fight peasants, unionists, left-leaning organizations, political parties and progressive governments.

Obama continued the “war on drugs” in Mexico, which causes the killings of two dozen people daily—around 8000 a year—and an increase in drug and weapons trafficking.

In Paraguay, Obama supported a right-wing parliamentary coup against the progressive president and bishop, Fernando Lugo.

The one bright spot was Obama’s easing of the blockade against Cuba, and the release of the last three of five Cubans imprisoned for infiltrating Cuban exile terrorists groups in the US, in order to prevent their terrorist activities against Cuban people—also something the CIA was behind.

If opening up somewhat to Cuba can be judged as positive (bearing in mind that many major US capitalists such as the Rockefellers had been calling for an end of the blockade for decades), the only other one positive action he took (which I can recall anyway) was to release Chelsea Manning from prison. Nevertheless, it must be remembered that it was the Obama administration that put her in prison, and tortured her, in the first place.

Kuzmarov concludes:

Obama’s presidency in many ways shows how liberal-progressive politicians can be more dangerous than their conservative counterparts, who tend to be more truthful in their aspirations to dominate the world and earn profits in whatever ways, thus making them easier to mobilize against.

Journalist Glen Ford aptly described Obama and his wife Michelle as a ‘two cynical lawyers on hire to the wealthiest and the ghastliest’ who are ‘no nicer or nastier than the Romneys and the Ryans [opponents in 2012 election], although the man of the house bombs babies and keeps a kill list.’ He also had a Big Brother complex. Every day during Obama’s presidency, the NSA intercepted and stored more than 1.7 billion emails, phone calls and other forms of communications.

Glen Ford is Black Agenda Report’s chief editor. He wrote an excellent foreword to this book. Ford opens his foreword thusly, and so I close my long review.

“Barack Obama may go down in presidential history as the most effective—and deceptive—imperialist of them all.”

  1. See: “Obama: The Worst US President Ever.”
  2. Peter Schweizer wrote, Secret Empires: How the American Political Class Hides Corruption and Enriches Family and Friends (New York: Harper Collins, 2018)55-65. The NYT reported that Joe Biden threatened to withhold a $1 billion loan if Ukraine did not fire its top prosecutor who was mounting a case against Zlochevsky, the owner of Burisma. Kenneth P. Vogel and Iulia Mendel, “Biden Faces Conflict of Interest Questions That Are Being Promoted by Trump.”
  3. December 2015 poll taken by ORB, an affiliate of WIN/Gallup. The Guardian, 12/19/2015.

“Triumphant War Hero” Gets Re-elected?

A bit splattered by the blood of thousands of its “collateral” victims, the old, tattered “Re-election Playbook” is being actively consulted once again.  Back in 1787, Thomas Jefferson had adamantly insisted that the new U.S. Constitution stipulate only one presidential term, but his prescient warning was ignored.  (Fortunately his other requirement, that a Bill of Rights be appended, was approved.)  Like so many well-read 18th century politicians (including the young Napoleon), Jefferson looked to the history of the Roman Republic for cautionary precedents.  He knew well that political opportunists like Julius Caesar had won their early mass popularity through their exploits as military conquerors.  In the early stages of his political career, victorious general Caesar would march into Rome, leading a “Triumph” — an endless procession of chained war-captives and cartloads of plunder – before the admiring crowds of plebeians.  His renown was such that, when he was off on his Gallic campaign, he convinced the Senate to pass a special edict allowing him to run for election as Consul in absentia (successful).  His older rival Crassus, financier and slumlord (“the richest man in Rome”), even re-invented himself as a conquering general for political advantage (but he was fortunately, as Plutarch relates, led to his own destruction in Parthia–now Iraq).

Turning to U.S. political history, one could draw up quite a list of military generals who, celebrated by the public as heroes, sought greater political power by running for president (often successfully).  And, of course, such cynical manipulation of the electorate continues up to the recent present.  One major, if not the major, objective for waging war against non-threatening Iraq was to secure this, almost invariable, political advantage as the election year 2004 loomed ahead.  As far as the timing of the attack was concerned (March 19, 2003), the self-impressed Rumsfeld had assumed that “victory” would be attained in a matter of weeks. And such “victory,” in the aftermath of the vicious “Shock-and-Awe” bombing campaign, was indeed soon proclaimed, thus enabling Rove and his ilk to plan a gala, Roman-style “Triumph,” with the military-attired and swaggering Bush landing on the USS Abraham Lincoln, to a national frenzy of celebration and under a presumptuously boasting “Mission Accomplished” banner (May 1).  Allowing for such a hugely popular, “patriotic” kick-off for an 18-month re-election campaign, the timing of May 1 seemed advantageous. (That Iraq had never been a threat, and that the alleged WMDs were never found, barely moderated this wellspring of popular acclaim for the “war hero” — at least for some months.)

In any event, we may now jump exactly eight years hence — to on or about May 1, 2011.  Now it was Obama’s turn to play military hero — in his own kick-off for re-election!  So far, despite his escalation of the war in Afghanistan, as well as his well-publicized “kill list” (drones), he hadn’t yet demonstrated the kind of ruthlessly unprincipled crushing of a “foreign” people which the majority of potential voters seem to relish.  But he had a perfect, quicker, and far less expensive alternative: “take out” Osama bin Laden!  Although the majority of Americans passively or willingly understood little or nothing about the geopolitical distinctions between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, they had been certain that “Saddam Hussein” — this moniker repeated over and over by Bush! — was the personification of all-that-is-evil.  But by 2011 Saddam was dead — having been hanged after a kangaroo-court conviction — and Americans could once again redirect their hate toward an alternative Satan (“Goldstein” of Orwell’s 1984 being unavailable).  Obama’s political handlers, like Bush’s, agreed that an 18-month halo of heroic triumph would help considerably in the long march toward re-election–and they were right.  Of course, Obama, in announcing “the killing of Osama bin Laden” to an awestruck citizenry (May 1, 2011), lied about the actual circumstances, as Seymour Hersh and others have noted.  (E.g., the non-existent “fire-fight” which was claimed in order to re-sell the assassination team as heroic commandos.)  And, of course, with the universally impressed and fawning media adding to the “Triumph,” Obama virtually coasted, with only a few bumps, to re-election in November 2012.

As aforementioned, this “Re-election Playbook,” however old and frayed, has nonetheless proven its ongoing usefulness to the recent crop of lying, opportunistic and murderous presidents.  For Trump — as for virtually all insatiably ambitious presidents — political advantage will always trump any practical strategic (or even economic) considerations.  Thus, deceptively cooking up the usual “justifications” for imminent war, this time with Iran, a nation which, as attested by the EU and other agencies had abided by the signed agreement only to see the U.S. under Trump unilaterally withdraw.  Trump’s hand-picked “national security” advisers are offering him huge political dividends: immense re-election financing from the likes of billionaire casino-mogul Sheldon Adelson (AIPAC), as well as the usual Big Oil industry funders (such as the Kochs, conspicuously represented in policy by their protege Pompeo).

If May 1, 2019 has come and gone, Trump may still have ample time — with the enthusiastic support of his flag-waving base (and the reliably acquiescent media) — to ride the crest of a trumped-up Iranian war, into re-election in November of next year.  But if that scenario doesn’t quite materialize, there is always the tried-and-true fallback: the venerable “October Surprise”!

Islamic State Celluloid

Nothing turns on the charlatan class of terrorism expertise than a video from an elusive, unknown destination, adjusted, modified and giving all the speculative trimmings.  In reading, E.B. White suggested the presence of two participants: the author as impregnator; the reader as respondent.  In the terrorism video, the maker consciously penetrates the shallow mind of the recipient, leaving its gurgling DNA to grow and mutate.

When Islamic State began its gruesome foray into the world of terrorist snuff videos, experts resembled overly keen cinephiles seeking the underlying message of a new wave.  The burning of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh in a cage in 2015 caused a certain rapture amongst members of a RAND panel.  Was this, perhaps, a celluloid standoff with rival al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, whose affiliates had just slaughtered the staff of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in their Parisian offices?

Senior Adviser to the RAND President, Brian Michael Jenkins, could not “recall a single incident in modern terrorism where terrorists deliberately killed a hostage with fire.”  There was “no religious basis for it this side of 17th century witch burning.”  Senior political scientist Johan Blank turned to scripture, finding “at least one specific prohibition of death by fire in the ahadith literature” on “the grounds that it resembled hellfire.”  The inspiration had to stem from somewhere, and Blank’s judicious offering was Ibn Taymiyyah, “fountainhead of much current jihadi reinterpretation of longstanding Islamic orthodoxy.”  Andrew Liepman, senior policy analyst, saw the video as a lucid moment of proof. “I wonder how much more evidence we need to confirm that ISIS is acting outside the norms of Islam.” Not modish, it would seem.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic State, has begun to resemble, in no small part, previous heads of franchise terrorist groups who have become reproductions and simulacra of themselves.  Terrorism is big business, stage sets and props, all tweeted for good measure; it is bestial theatre that draws out the voyeurs, the google-eyed analysts, and the lunatic converts.  Whether such heads are dead or not is of little consequence past a certain point: Baghdadi had supposedly been dead yet his corpse seems more than capable of putting together a presentation for audiences.  It is also incumbent on those seeking his capture or death to claim his general irrelevance.  Everyone did know one thing: the last time he gave a public performance was the al-Nuri Mosque in Mosul in July 2014.

The video, aired on the Al Furqan network, is filmed in appropriately Spartan surrounds, but that is neither here nor there.  Iraq Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi thinks otherwise linking, erroneously, the making of the film with the current location of the protagonist.  “Regarding the location of Baghdadi, we can’t give intelligence information right now but it’s clear from the video that he’s in a remote area.”  As is the fashion, neither the date nor the authenticity of the recording is verifiable.  All else is a wonder, and even the Middle East Monitor is careful to suggest that the speaker was “a bearded man with Baghdadi’s appearance”.

Baghdadi lacks complexity in his message, never straying from the apocalyptic line.  “Our battle today is a battle of attrition, and we will prolong it for the enemy, and they must know that the jihad will continue until Judgment Day.” He is mindful of the fruitful carnage inflicted by the Easter Sunday bombers in Sri Lanka, and thanks them.  Such acts, he reasons, were retribution for the loss of Baghouz in Syria.

The speculations duly form a queue, and talking heads have been scrambled into studios and Skype portals.  This video may have been a retort, and reassurance, before the potential usurping moves of another ISIS figure of seniority, Abu Mohammed Husseini al-Hashimi.  Hashimi had staked a claim in stirring up discontent against Baghdadi’s more extreme tyrannical methods.  Not that he is averse to the application of hudud punishments (stoning for adultery excites him), and the quaint notion that the ruler of any Islamic State caliphate is bound to be a successor to the prophet Muhammed.  Modesty is a drawback in such line of work.

Colin P. Clarke, senior fellow at the Soufan Centre, aired his views that Baghdadi’s “sudden appearance will very likely serve as both a morale boost for ISIS supporters and remaining militants and as a catalyst for individuals or more groups to act.”  It was a reassurance that he remained the grand poohbah, atop “the command-and-control network of what remains of the group, not only in Iraq and Syria, but more broadly, in its far-flung franchises and affiliates.”

The teasing out and ponderings on minutiae are not far behind.  Resting upon a flowered mattress, and leaning against a cushion with an assault rifle by his side (nice touch for the old fox), it was bound to have an effect. The expansive beard caught the eye: The Washington Post noted that it “has greyed since his only other video appearance”. Previously, the paper noted, it had been “tinted with henna”.  Then there was the AK-74 prop, a rather popular Kalashnikov variant reprised from previous showings in the video work of Abu Musab Zarqawi and Osama bin Laden.

Such superficial renderings, the stuff of terrorism kitsch, lends itself to fundamental fact that Baghdadi might be somewhere, anywhere, or nowhere, a nonsense figure, to a degree, in a nonsense medium.  The modern terrorist franchise is fluid and far-reaching.  Followers need not feel estranged.  They can use social media, cosy-up and wait for eschatological endings.

The pioneer of this terror mania (global yet local) was al-Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden, a figure who, along with his sparring counterpart US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, formed a perfect symmetry of simulative nonsense, the gobbledygook of post-2011 security.  Each time US forces and their allies sought to target the slippery Saudi, he vanished.  The raid and bombing of the Tora Bora complex in Afghanistan yielded no returns; the man was nowhere to be seen, having escaped, possibly, in female garb. Sightings, and rumoured killings, remained regular till the penultimate slaying in Abbottabad in May 2011.  The man, declared dead on numerous occasions, was Lazarus in reverse.

Rumsfeld, for his part, insisted on those known knowns, known unknowns and “things we do not know we don’t know”. Unwittingly, he had given the age its aptly absurd epitaph, and with that, much work and fare for the witch doctors of terrorism keen to gorge upon the next video offering from their beloved subjects.  Ignorance in this case, not knowledge, is power.