Importance of the march against Iraq attack

14 February 2003
It is not possible to overstate the significance and urgency of the march and demonstration against an unprovoked British and American attack on Iraq, a nation with whom we have no quarrel and who offer us no threat.

The urgency is the saving of lives. First, let us stop calling it a “war”. The last time “war” was used in the Gulf was in 1991 when the truth was buried with more than 200,000 people. Attacking a 70-mile line of trenches, three American brigades, operating at night, used 60-ton armoured earthmovers to bury alive teenage Iraqi conscripts, including the wounded and those surrendering and retreating. Survivors were slaughtered from the air. The helicopter gunship pilots called it a “turkey shoot”.

Of the 148 Americans who died, a quarter of them were killed by Americans. Most of the British were killed by Americans. This was known as “friendly fire”. The civilians who were killed, whose deaths were never recorded by the American military because it was “not policy”, were “collateral damage”.

Today, after 13 years of an economic blockade that has been compared with a medieval siege, Iraq is defenceless, no matter the discovery of an odd missile that can reach barely 90 miles. Its ragtag army is woefully under-equipped and awaiting its fate, along with a civilian population of whom 42 per cent are children. They are stricken. Even the export of British manufactured vaccines meant to protect Iraqi infants from diphtheria and yellow fever has been restricted. The vaccines, say the Blair government, are “capable of being used in weapons of mass destruction”.

This is the nation upon which the Bush gang says it will rain down 800 missiles within the space of two days. “Shock and awe” the Pentagon calls its “strategy”. Meanwhile the weapons inspectors and their morose Swedish leader go about their treasure hunt and a cartoon show is hosted in the UN by General Colin Powell (who rose to the top by covering up the notorious My Lai massacre in Vietnam).

It is all a charade. The Americans want Iraq because they want to control and reorder the Middle East. Their once-favourite dictator, Saddam Hussein, made the mistake of misreading the signals from Washington in 1990 and invading another favourite American oil tyranny, Kuwait. So belatedly, Saddam must be replaced, preferably by another Saddam, though more reliable and less uppity. There is no issue of “weapons of mass destruction”. That is a distraction for us and the media.

The wider significance of the promised attack is the rapacious nature of the American state. As Tony Blair has confirmed, North Korea is likely to be “next”. I think he is wrong and that Iran will be next. That is what the Israeli regime wants and Israel’s wishes are as important to influential members of the Bush gang as oil. Thereafter, there is China. Says Anatol Lieven of the Carnegie Institute in Washington: “What radical US nationalists have in mind is either to ‘contain’ China by overwhelming military force or to destroy the Chinese Communist state.”

ONE of the Bush gang’s planners, Richard Perle, has said: “If we let our vision of the world go forth and we embrace it entirely, and we don’t try to piece together clever diplomacy but just wage a total war … our children will sing great songs about us years from now.”

September 11 2001 was their big opportunity. On September 12 Donald Rumsfeld wanted to use the Twin Towers tragedy as an excuse to attack Iraq, which was temporarily spared only because Colin Powell argued that “public opinion has to be prepared”. Afghanistan was the easier option and they were planning to attack it anyway.

The subsequent American endeavour to encircle al-Qaeda in the eastern mountains of Afghanistan was a fiasco and more than 20,000 people, estimates Jonathan Steele in the Guardian, paid the price of that country’s “liberation”.

Since September 11 America has established bases at the gateways to all the major sources of fossil fuels. The Unocal oil company is to build a pipeline across Afghanistan. Bush has repudiated the Kyoto treaty on greenhouse gas emissions, with the war crimes provisions of the International Criminal Court and the anti-ballistic missile treaty. He has said he will use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states “if necessary” – incredibly Geoffrey Hoon, on Blair’s behalf, has said exactly the same.

Assassination is now legal. Virtually before our eyes, prisoners have been tortured to the point of suicide in an American concentration camp in Cuba. Under Donald Rumsfeld a secret group with the Orwellian name of the Proactive Pre-emptive Operations Group has the job of provoking terrorist attacks, which would then require “counter-attack” by the United States. You have to keep reminding yourself this is not fantasy: that the enemy to all our security is not a regional tyrant – there are plenty of those, many created by America and Britain.

And what of Blair? Do he and his craven Ministers understand any of this? It is difficult to know. Such is Blair’s evangelical obsession with Iraq, and perhaps his desperation in the face of overwhelming public opposition, that he is prepared to mislead and deceive not only the public but the armed forces he has sent to pursue his and the mad Perle’s “vision”.

Does anyone believe the Prime Minister any more? During his interview last Thursday with the BBC’s Jeremy Paxman, Blair lied once again that UN weapons inspectors were “thrown out” of Iraq by the regime in 1998. He knows the truth: that they were withdrawn when it was discovered the CIA had planted spies among them in order to gather intelligence for the subsequent Anglo-American bombing of Iraq in December 1998.

I MEAN,” said Blair last week, “(the threat of Iraq’s undiscovered weapons of mass destruction) is what our intelligence services are telling us and it’s difficult because, you know, either they’re simply making the whole thing up …”

Making it up, indeed. On February 7 Downing Street had to apologise when it was revealed that its latest dossier seeking to justify war – “Iraq: its infrastructure of concealment, deception and intimidation” – was lifted word for word, including the grammatical and spelling mistakes, from an article written by an American student 10 years ago. As David Edwards of Media Lens has pointed out, “the only changes involved the doctoring of passages to make the report more ominous: a claim that Iraq was ‘aiding opposition groups’ was changed to a claim that Iraq was ‘supporting terrorist organisations’.” Like Bush, Blair lies that “we do know of links between al-Qaeda and Iraq”. An investigation by America’s National Security Council, which advises Bush, “found no evidence of a noteworthy relationship” between Iraq and al-Qaeda. On February 5 a Ministry of Defence document, leaked to the BBC, revealed that British intelligence had told Blair there was “no current link” between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda. Blair has even denied seeing this crucial report.

As a Christian, Blair says be is helping to build a “secure and hopeful world for all our children”.

The Labour MP Llew Smith recently asked the Education Secretary to explain “how we can find billions of pounds to increase our defence budget and go to war with Iraq but cannot find the money to scrap tuition fees?”

There was no intelligible reply.

LAST November a report by the School of Public Policy, University of College London, disclosed that “53 per cent of children in inner London are living in income poverty”. Yet Chancellor Gordon Brown puts aside “at least a billion pounds” as “a war chest” with which to attack not poverty but an impoverished people half a world away.

A peaceful solution in the Middle East is only possible when the threat of an attack is lifted and a total ban on so-called weapons of mass destruction and arms sales is imposed throughout the region, on Israel as well as Iraq. The economic blockade on the people of Iraq should end immediately and justice for the Palestinians become a priority.

The power of public opinion, both moral and political power, is far greater than many people realise. That’s why Blair fears it and why, through the inept Tessa Jowell, he tried to ban tomorrow’s demonstration. He fears it because if the voice of the people threatens the house of cards he has built on his obsession with Iraq and America, it may well threaten his political life and make mockery of the Anglo-American “coalition” and deny the Bush gang its fig leaf.

Should that happen, American public opinion, now stirring heroically after the most sustained brainwashing campaign for half a century, may even stop the Bush gang in its tracks. As of yesterday 42 American cities had passed resolutions condemning an attack.

Is all that a cause for optimism? Yes it is. Look at how this week’s French and German “rebellion” almost seemed to change everything; and remember that those governments are speaking out only because of overwhelming pressure from their people.

Now that has to happen in Britain. Tomorrow you can begin to make it happen.

— source johnpilger.com

Civil disobedience is the sole path

17 March 2003

Civil disobedience is the sole path left for those who cannot support the Bush-Blair pact of aggression. Only then will politicians on both sides of the Atlantic be forced to recognise the folly of their ways.

How have we got to this point, where two western governments take us into an illegal and immoral war against a stricken nation with whom we have no quarrel and who offer us no threat: an act of aggression opposed by almost everybody and whose charade is transparent?

How can they attack, in our name, a country already crushed by more than 12 years of an embargo aimed mostly at the civilian population, of whom 42 per cent are children – a medieval siege that has taken the lives of at least half a million children and is described as genocidal by the former United Nations humanitarian co-ordinator for Iraq?

How can those claiming to be “liberals” disguise their embarrassment, and shame, while justifying their support for George Bush’s proposed launch of 800 missiles in two days as a “liberation”? How can they ignore two United Nations studies which reveal that some 500,000 people will be at risk? Do they not hear their own echo in the words of the American general who said famously of a Vietnamese town he had just levelled: “We had to destroy it in order to save it?”

“Few of us,” Arthur Miller once wrote, “can easily surrender our belief that society must somehow make sense. The thought that the State has lost its mind and is punishing so many innocent people is intolerable. And so the evidence has to be internally denied.”

These days, Miller’s astuteness applies to a minority of warmongers and apologists. Since 11 September 2001, the consciousness of the majority has soared. The word “imperialism” has been rescued from agitprop and returned to common usage. America’s and Britain’s planned theft of the Iraqi oilfields, following historical precedent, is well understood. The false choices of the cold war are redundant, and people are once again stirring in their millions. More and more of them now glimpse American power, as Mark Twain wrote, “with its banner of the Prince of Peace in one hand and its loot-basket and its butcher-knife in the other”.

What is heartening is the apparent demise of “anti-Americanism” as a respectable means of stifling recognition and analysis of American Imperialism. Intellectual loyalty oaths, similar to those rife during the Third Reich, when the abusive “anti-German” was enough to silence dissent, no longer work. In America itself, there are too many anti-Americans filling the streets now: those whom Martha Gellhorn called “that life-saving minority who judge their government in moral terms, who are the people with a wakeful conscience and can be counted upon”.

Perhaps for the first time since the late 1940s, Americanism as an ideology is being identified in the same terms as any rapacious power structure; and we can thank Bush and Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice for that, even though their acts of international violence have yet to exceed those of the “liberal” Bill Clinton.

“My guess,” wrote Norman Mailer recently, “is that, like it or not, or want it or not, we are going to go to war because that is the only solution Bush and his people can see. The dire prospect that opens, therefore, is that America is going to become a mega-banana republic where the army will have more and more importance in our lives. And, before it is all over, democracy, noble and delicate as it is, may give way . . . Indeed, democracy is the special condition that we will be called upon to defend in the coming years. That will be enormously difficult because the combination of the corporation, the military and the complete investiture of the flag with mass spectator sports has set up a pre-fascist atmosphere in America already.”

In the military plutocracy that is the American state, with its unelected president, venal Supreme Court, silent Congress, gutted Bill of Rights and compliant media, Mailer’s “pre-fascist atmosphere” makes common sense. The dissident American writer William Rivers Pitt pursues this further. “Critics of the Bush administration,” he wrote, “like to bandy about the word ‘fascist’ when speaking of George. The image that word conjures is of Nazi storm troopers marching in unison towards Hitler’s Final Solution. This does not at all fit. It is better, in this matter, to view the Bush administration through the eyes of Benito Mussolini. Dubbed ‘the father of fascism’, Mussolini defined the word in a far more pertinent fashion. ‘Fascism,’ he said, ‘should more properly be called corporatism, since it is the merger of state and corporate power.’ ”

Bush himself offered an understanding of this on 26 February when he addressed the annual dinner of the American Enterprise Institute. He paid tribute to “some of the finest minds of our nation [who] are at work on some of the greatest challenges to our nation. You do such good work that my administration has borrowed 20 such minds. I want to thank them for their service.”

The “20 such minds” are crypto-fascists who fit the definition of William Pitt Rivers. The institute is America’s biggest, most important and wealthiest “think-tank”. A typical member is John Bolton, under-secretary for arms control, the Bush official most responsible for dismantling the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, arguably the most important arms control agreement of the late 20th century. The institute’s strongest ties are with extreme Zionism and the regime of Ariel Sharon. Last month, Bolton was in Tel Aviv to hear Sharon’s view on which country in the region should be next after Iraq. For the expansionists running Israel, the prize is not so much the conquest of Iraq but Iran. A significant proportion of the Israeli air force is already based in Turkey with Iran in its sights, waiting for an American attack.

Richard Perle is the institute’s star. Perle is chairman of the powerful Defence Policy Board at the Pentagon, the author of the insane policies of “total war” and “creative destruction”. The latter is designed to subjugate finally the Middle East, beginning with the $90bn invasion of Iraq.

Perle helped to set up another crypto-fascist group, the Project for the New American Century. Other founders include Vice-President Cheney, the defence secretary Rumsfeld and deputy defence secretary Paul Wolfowitz. The institute’s “mission report”, Rebuilding America’s Defences: strategy, forces and resources for a new century, is an unabashed blueprint for world conquest. Before Bush came to power, it recommended an increase in arms spending by $48bn so that America “can fight and win multiple, simultaneous major theatre wars”. This has come true. It said that nuclear war-fighting should be given the priority it deserved. This has come true. It said that Iraq should be a primary target. And so it is. And it dismissed the issue of Saddam Hussein’s “weapons of mass destruction” as a convenient excuse, which it is.

Written by Wolfowitz, this guide to world domination puts the onus on the Pentagon to establish a “new order” in the Middle East under unchallenged US authority. A “liberated” Iraq, the centrepiece of the new order, will be divided and ruled, probably by three American generals; and after a horrific onslaught, known as Shock and Awe.

Vladimir Slipchenko, one of the world’s leading military analysts, says the testing of new weapons is a “main purpose” of the attack on Iraq. “Nobody is saying anything about it,” he said last month. “In May 2001, in his first presidential address, Bush spoke about the need for preparation for future wars. He emphasised that the armed forces needed to be completely high-tech, capable of conducting hostilities by the no-contact method. After a series of live experiments – in Iraq in 1991, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan – many corporations achieved huge profits. Now the bottom line is $50-60bn a year.”

He says that, apart from new types of cluster bombs and cruise missiles, the Americans will use their untested pulse bomb, known also as a microwave bomb. Each discharges two megawatts of radiation which instantly puts out of action all communications, computers, radios, even hearing aids and heart pacemakers. “Imagine, your heart explodes!” he said.

In the future, this Pax Americana will be policed with nuclear, biological and chemical weapons used “pre-emptively”, even in conflicts that do not directly engage US interests. In August, the Bush administration will convene a secret meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, to discuss the construction of a new generation of nuclear weapons, including “mini nukes”, “bunker busters” and neutron bombs. Generals, government officials and nuclear scientists will also discuss the appropriate propaganda to convince the American public that the new weapons are necessary.

Such is Mailer’s pre-fascist state. If appeasement has any meaning today, it has little to do with a regional dictator and everything to do with the demonstrably dangerous men in Washington. It is vitally important that we understand their goals and the degree of their ruthlessness. One example: General Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani dictator, was last year deliberately allowed by Washington to come within an ace of starting a nuclear war with India – and to continue supplying North Korea with nuclear technology – because he agreed to hand over al-Qaeda operatives. The other day, John Howard, the Australian prime minister and Washington mouthpiece, praised Musharraf, the man who almost blew up west Asia, for his “personal courage and outstanding leadership”.

In 1946, Justice Robert Jackson, chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, said: “The very essence of the Nuremberg charter is that individuals have international duties which transcend national obligations of obedience imposed by the state.”

With an attack on Iraq almost a certainty, the millions who filled London and other capitals on the weekend of 15-16 February, and the millions who cheered them on, now have these transcendent duties. The Bush gang, and Tony Blair, cannot be allowed to hold the rest of us captive to their obsessions and war plans. Speculation on Blair’s political future is trivia; he and the robotic Jack Straw and Geoff Hoon must be stopped now, for the reasons long argued in these pages and on hundreds of platforms.

And, incidentally, no one should be distracted by the latest opportunistic antics of Clare Short, whose routine hints of “rebellion”, followed by her predictable inaction, have helped to give Blair the time he wants to subvert the UN.

There is only one form of opposition now: it is civil disobedience leading to what the police call civil unrest. The latter is feared by undemocratic governments of all stripes.

The revolt has already begun. In January, Scottish train drivers refused to move munitions. In Italy, people have been blocking dozens of trains carrying American weapons and personnel, and dockers have refused to load arms shipments. US military bases have been blockaded in Germany, and thousands have demonstrated at Shannon which, despite Ireland’s neutrality, is being used by the US military to refuel its planes en route to Iraq.

“We have become a threat, but can we deliver?” asked Jessica Azulay and Brian Dominick of the American resistance movement. “Policy-makers are debating right now whether or not they have to heed our dissent. Now we must make it clear to them that there will be political and economic consequences if they decide to ignore us.”

My own view is that if the protest movement sees itself as a world power, as an expression of true internationalism, then success need not be a dream. That depends on how far people are prepared to go. The young female employee of the Gloucestershire-based top-secret Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), who was charged this month with leaking information about America’s dirty tricks operation on members of the Security Council, shows us the courage required.

In the meantime, the new Mussolinis are on their balconies, with their virtuoso rants and impassioned insincerity. Reduced to wagging their fingers in a futile attempt to silence us, they see millions of us for the first time, knowing and fearing that we cannot be silenced.

— source johnpilger.com

Obama’s Bombing Legacy

President Obama has joked he still doesn’t know why he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, but his record of waging war was no joke to thousands at the receiving end of U.S. bombs

As President Obama leaves office, much of his foreign policy record remains shrouded in the symbolism that has been the hallmark of his presidency. The persistence of Obama’s image as a reluctant war-maker and a Nobel Peace Prize winner has allowed Donald Trump and his cabinet nominees to claim that Obama has underfunded the military and been less than aggressive in his use of U.S. military power.

Nothing could be further from the truth, and their claims are clearly designed only to justify even more extravagant military spending and more aggressive threats and uses of force than those perpetrated under Mr. Obama’s “disguised, quiet, media-free” war policy.

The reality is that Obama has increased U.S. military spending beyond the post-World War II record set by President George W. Bush. Now that Obama has signed the military budget for FY2017, the final record is that Obama has spent an average of $653.6 billion per year, outstripping Bush by an average of $18.7 billion per year (in 2016 dollars).

In historical terms, after adjusting for inflation, Obama’s military spending has been 56 percent higher than Clinton’s, 16 percent higher than Reagan’s, and 42 percent more than the U.S. Cold War average, when it was justified by a military competition with a real peer competitor in the Soviet Union. By contrast, Russia now spends one-tenth of what we are pouring into military forces, weapon-building and war.

What all this money has paid for has been the polar opposite of what most of Obama’s supporters thought they were voting for in 2008. Behind the iconic image of a hip, sophisticated celebrity-in-chief with strong roots in modern urban culture, lies a calculated contrast between image and reality that has stretched our country’s neoliberal experiment in “managed democracy” farther than ever before and set us up for the previously unthinkable “post-truth” presidency of Donald Trump.

Obama’s Model

Obama’s doctrine of covert and proxy war was modeled on the Phoenix Program in Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s and Ronald Reagan’s proxy wars in Central America in the 1980s. It involved a massive expansion of U.S. special operations forces, now deployed to 138 different countries, compared with only 60 when Obama took office.

As senior military officers told the Washington Post in June 2010, the Obama administration allowed, “things that the previous administration did not,” and, “They are talking publicly much less but they are acting more. They are willing to get aggressive much more quickly.”

Wherever possible, U.S. forces have recruited and trained proxy forces to do the actual fighting and dying, from the Iraqi government’s Shiite death squads to Al Qaeda splinter groups in Libya and Syria (supporting “regime change” projects in those countries) to mercenaries serving Arab monarchies and seemingly endless cannon fodder for the war in Afghanistan.

Obama’s ten-fold expansion of drone strikes further reduced U.S. casualties relative to numbers of foreigners killed. This fostered an illusion of peace and normality for Americans in the homeland even as the death toll inflicted by America’s post-9/11 wars almost certainly passed the two million mark.

The targets of these covert and proxy wars are not just guerrilla fighters or “terrorists” but also the “infrastructure” or “civilian support mechanism” that supports guerrillas with food and supplies, and the entire shadow government and civil society in areas that resist domination.

As a U.S. officer in Iraq explained to Newsweek in 2005, “The Sunni population is paying no price for the support it is giving the terrorists. From their point of view, it is cost-free. We have to change that equation.”

In previous decades, the victims of similar operations in Central America included the grandfather of a young lady I met in Cotzal in Guatemala – he was beheaded by an Army death squad for giving food to the Guerrilla Army of the Poor. The Catholic Church has now named Father Stanley Rother from Oklahoma, who was killed by a Guatemalan Army death squad in Santiago Atitlan in 1981, as a martyr and candidate for sainthood.

Bloody Iraq

In Iraq, the targets of such operations have included hundreds of academics and other professionals and community leaders. Just last week, U.S. air strikes targeted and killed three senior professors and their families in their homes at Mosul University. The victims included Dr. Mohamad Tybee Al-Layla (Ph.D. Texas), the highly respected former Dean of the College of Engineering.

In 2004, after the assassination of Dr. Abdul-Latif Ali Al-Mayah in Baghdad, a senior police officer explained who killed him and why to British journalist Stephen Grey: “Dr. Abdul-Latif was becoming more and more popular because he spoke for people on the street here. … You can look no further than the Governing Council. They are politicians that are backed by the Americans and who arrived to Iraq from exile with a list of their enemies. I’ve seen these lists. They are killing people one by one.”

As Obama’s murderous proxy wars in Iraq and Syria have spun further out of control, U.S. special operations forces and U.S.-trained death squads on the ground have increasingly been backed up by U.S. and allied air forces. Four years ago, as Obama was inaugurated for a second term, I wrote that the U.S. and its allies dropped 20,000 bombs and missiles in his first term. In his second term, they have dropped four times that number, bringing the total for Obama’s presidency to over 100,000 bombs and missiles striking seven countries, surpassing the 70,000 unleashed on five countries by George W. Bush.

Obama inherited a massive air campaign already under way in Afghanistan, where the U.S. and its allies dropped over 4,000 bombs and missiles every year for six years between 2007 and 2012. Altogether, U.S.-led air forces have dropped 26,000 bombs and missiles on Afghanistan under Obama, compared with 37,000 under Bush, for a total of 63,000 bomb and missile strikes in 15 years.

But the new U.S.-led bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria since 2014 has been much heavier, with 65,730 bomb and missile strikes in 2 1/2 years. Iraq has now been struck with 74,000 bombs and missiles, even more than Afghanistan: 29,200 in the “Shock & Awe” assault of 2003; 3,900 more before the invasion and during the U.S. occupation; and now another 41,000 in “Shock & Awe II” since 2014, including the current siege and bombardment of Mosul.

Obama’s total of 100,000 air strikes are rounded out by 24,700 bombs and missiles dropped on Syria, 7,700 in NATO and its Arab monarchist allies’ bombing of Libya in 2011, another 496 strikes in Libya in 2016, and at least 547 drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

Failed Policy

Donald Trump and his choices for secretaries of State and Defense, Rex Tillerson and Jim Mattis, respectively, are right to say that Obama’s war policy has failed. But they are wrong to insist that the answer is to spend even more on weapons and use them even more aggressively.

Obama’s failure was the result of his deference to generals, admirals, the CIA and hawkish advisers like Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, and of his blind faith in U.S. military power. But war was never a legitimate or effective response to terrorism.

The misuse of military force has only spread violence and chaos across the Muslim world and spawned an explosive mix of political disintegration, rule by militias and warlords, a dizzying proliferation of armed groups with different interests and loyalties and, ultimately, more blowback for the West.

Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Turkey, Israel, Qatar and other “allies” have been only too eager to exploit and redirect our aggression against their own enemies: Iran; Syria; Libya; and different ethnic groups, minorities and political movements in what was, for centuries, a diverse, tolerant region of the world.

The U.S. has become a blind giant stumbling through a thick forest of shadows and unseen dangers, striking out with its devastating war machine at the instigation of self-serving allies and the same dark forces in its own “intelligence” bureaucracy who have stirred up trouble, staged coups and unleashed war in country after country for seventy years.

The only consistent beneficiary in all this death, destruction and chaos is the “military industrial complex” that President Eisenhower warned us against in his farewell address in 1961.

In 2012, I researched and wrote about how General Dynamics CEO Lester Crown and his Chicago family backed and bankrolled the political career of Barack Obama. As manufacturers of Virginia class submarines, Arleigh Burke and Zumwalt destroyers and littoral combat ships (all programs saved, revived or expanded by Obama) as well as other types of munitions, the Crown family’s patronage of Barack Obama has proven to be a profitable investment, from the violence and chaos in the Muslim world to the New Cold War with Russia to the “pivot” to the South China Sea.

Now Mr. Trump has nominated General Dynamics board member, General James “Mad Dog” Mattis as Secretary of Defense, despite his responsibility for illegal rules of engagement and systematic war crimes in Iraq, an obvious conflict of interest with the millions he has earned at General Dynamics and clear laws that require civilian control of the military.

When will we ever learn to tell the difference between corrupt warmongers like Obama and Mattis and progressive leaders who will let us live in peace with our neighbors around the world, even at the expense of General Dynamics’ profits?

— source consortiumnews.com By Nicolas Davies

Unprecedented number of US drone and air strikes hit Yemen

In an unprecedented intensification of America’s counter-terrorism operations in Yemen, the US has confirmed it carried out 20 strikes across three central provinces. The strikes, which were carried out in the early morning, targeted fighters from the regional arm of al Qaeda, known as AQAP, their equipment and infrastructure, in the Yemeni provinces of Abyan, al Bayda and Shabwah, according to a press release from the US Department of Defense.

The attacks come a month after a botched US special forces raid ended in the deaths of 25 civilians, including nine children under the age of 13 as revealed by the Bureau, and a US Navy SEAL. In total, the Bureau has recorded at least 186 US air and drone strikes, and special forces raids, since the first in 2002.

— source thebureauinvestigates.com

Today is a day of shame for the British military

26 March 2003
Today is a day of shame for the British military as it declares the Iraqi city of Basra, with a stricken population of 600,000, a “military target”.

You will not read or hear those words in the establishment media that claims to speak for Britain.

But they are true. With Basra, shame is now our signature, forged by Blair and Bush.

Having destroyed its water and power supplies, cut off food supply routes and having failed to crack its human defences, they are now preparing to lay siege to Iraq’s second city which is more than 40 per cent children.

What an ignominious moment in British history. Here is an impoverished country under attack by a superpower, the United States, which has unimaginable wealth and the world’s most destructive weapons, and its “coalition” accomplice, Britain, which boasts one of the world’s best “professional” armies.

Believing their own propaganda, the military brass has been stunned by the Iraqi resistance.

They have tried to belittle the militia defending Basra with lurid stories that its fighters are killing each other.

The truth is that the Iraqis are fighting like lions to defend not a tyrant but their homeland. It is a truth the overwhelming majority of decent Britons will admire.

The historical comparison Tony Blair and his propagandists fear is that of the British defending themselves against invasion. That happened 60 years ago and now “we” are the rapacious invaders.

Yesterday, Blair said that 400,000 Iraqi children had died in the past five years from malnutrition and related causes. He said “huge stockpiles of humanitarian aid” and clean water awaited them in Kuwait, if only the Iraqi regime would allow safe passage.

In fact, voluminous evidence, including that published by the United Nations Children’s Fund, makes clear that the main reason these children have died is an enduring siege, a 12-year embargo driven by America and Britain.

As of last July, $5.4billion worth of humanitarian supplies, approved by the UN and paid for by the Iraqi government, were blocked by Washington, with the Blair government’s approval. The former assistant secretary general of the UN, Denis Halliday, who was sent to Iraq to set up the “oil for food programme”, described the effects of the embargo as “nothing less than genocide”. Similar words have been used by his successor, Hans Von Sponeck.

Both men resigned in protest, saying the embargo merely reinforced the power of Saddam.

Both called Blair a liar.

And now Blair’s troops are firing their wire-guided missiles to “soften up” Basra.

I have walked the city’s streets, along a road blown to pieces by a US missile. The casualties were children, of course, because children are everywhere. I held a handkerchief over my face as I stood in a school playground with a teacher and several hundred malnourished youngsters.

The dust blew in from the southern battlefields of the 1991 Gulf War, which have never been cleaned up because the US and British governments have denied Iraq the specialist equipment.

The dust, Dr Jawad Al-Ali told me, carries “the seeds of our death”. In the children’s wards of Basra’s main hospital, deaths from a range of hitherto unseen cancers are common and specialists have little doubt that up to half the population of southern Iraq will die from cancers linked to the use of a weapon of mass destruction used by the Americans and British – uranium tipped shells and missiles.

ONCE again, the Americans are deploying what Professor Doug Rokke, a former US Army physicist, calls “a form of nuclear weapon that contaminates everything and everyone”.

Today, each round fired by US tanks contains 4,500 grams of solid uranium, whose particles, breathed or ingested, can cause cancer.

This, and the use by both the Allies of new kinds of cluster bombs, is being covered up.

Once again, the British public is being denied the reality of war.

Images of bandaged children in hospital wards are appearing on TV but you do not see the result of a Tornado’s cluster bombing.

You are not being shown children scalped by shrapnel, with legs reduced to bloody pieces of string.

Such images are “not acceptable”, because they will disturb viewers – and the authorities do not want that. These “unseen” images are the truth. Iraqi parents have to look at their mutilated children, so why shouldn’t those of us, in whose name they were slaughtered, see what they see?

Why shouldn’t we share their pain? Why shouldn’t we see the true nature of this criminal invasion?

Other wars were sanitised, allowing them to be repeated.

If you have satellite TV, try to find the Al Jazeera channel, which has distinguished itself with its coverage. When the Americans bombed Afghanistan, one of their “smart” bombs destroyed the Al Jazeera office in Kabul. Few believe it was an accident. Rather, it was a testimony to the channel’s independent journalism.

Remember, it is not those who oppose this war who need to justify themselves, regardless of Blair’s calls to “support our troops”. There is only one way to support them – bring them home without delay.

In 1932, Iraqis threw out their British colonial rulers. In 1958, they got rid of the Hashemite monarchy.

Iraqis have shown they can overthrow dictators against the odds. So why have they not been able to throw out Saddam?

Because the US and Britain armed him and propped him up while it suited them, making sure that when they tired of him, they would be the only alternative to his rule and the profiteers of his nation’s resources. Imperialism has always functioned like that.

The “new Iraq”, as Blair calls it, will have many models, such as Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Nicaragua, all of them American conquests and American ruled until Washington allowed a vicious dictatorship to take over.

Saddam only came to power after the Americans helped install his Ba’ath Party in 1979. “That was my favourite coup,” said the CIA officer in charge.

Keep in mind the cynicism behind these truths when you next hear Blair’s impassioned insincerity – and when you glimpse, if you can, the “unacceptable” images of children killed and mangled in your name, and in the cause of what the Prime Minister calls “our simple patriotism”.

It’s the kind of patriotism, wrote Tolstoy, “that is nothing else but a means of obtaining for the rulers their ambitions and covetous desires, and for the ruled the abdication of human dignity, reason and conscience.”

— source johnpilger.com

“We dropped a few civilians”, said Sgt Eric Schrumpf of the US Marines

5 April 2003

“We had a great day,” said Sgt Eric Schrumpf of the US Marines last Saturday. “We killed a lot of people.”

He added: “We dropped a few civilians, but what do you do?” He said there were women standing near an Iraqi soldier, and one of them fell when he and other Marines opened fire. “I’m sorry,” said Sgt Schrumpf, “but the chick was in the way”.

For me, what is remarkable about this story is that I heard almost the same words 36 years ago when a US Marine sergeant told me he had killed a pregnant woman and a child because they had “got in the way”.

That was in Vietnam, another country invaded by the US military machine, which left up to two million people dead and many more maimed and otherwise ruined. President Reagan called this “a noble cause”. The other day, President Bush called the invasion of Iraq, another unprovoked and piratical act, “a noble cause”.

In the years since Vietnam, the Americans have invaded and caused, directly and through stooges, great suffering in many other countries, but none tells us more about the current war than their enduring atrocity in Vietnam, known as the first “media war”.

Like their attack on Iraq, their invasion of Vietnam was accompanied by a racist contempt for the people. The Vietnamese were “gooks” and “slits” who would never fight, who would be crushed within weeks. As in Iraq today, the uncensored evidence of America’s killing was not shown on TV but covered up.

General Colin Powell, Bush’s “liberal” Secretary of State, was promoted swiftly because he was given the job of covering up the infamous My Lai massacre. In the end, the Vietnamese defied the Hollywood script and expelled their invader, but at great cost.

The Iraqis, up against two western air forces and a Disneyworld of weapons of mass destruction, are unlikely to share the same honour. And yet they, too, are not keeping to the script; and their extraordinary resistance against such overwhelming odds has required intensified propaganda in Washington and London: aimed not at them, but at us.

Unlike in Vietnam, this propaganda, lying that is both crude and subtle, is now dispensed globally and marketed and controlled like a new niche product. Richard Gaisford, an “embedded” BBC reporter, said recently: “We have to check each story we have with (the military). And the captain, who’s our media liaison officer, will check with the colonel, and they will check with Brigade headquarters as well.”

David Miller, a media analyst at Stirling University, calls it “public relations genius”. It works like this. Once the official “line” is agreed and manufactured at the Coalition Press Information Centre in Kuwait and the $1million press centre in Qatar, it is submitted to the White House, to what is known as the Office of Global Communications. It is then polished for British consumption by Blair’s staff of propagandists in Downing Street.

Truth, above all, is redundant. There is only “good” news or no news. For example, the arrival in Iraq of the British ship Sir Galahad with a miserable few hundred tons of humanitarian aid was a “good” story given wide coverage. What was missing was the truth that the Blair government continues to back Washington’s deliberate denial of $5.4billion worth of humanitarian aid, including baby milk and medical supplies. This is “aid” which Iraq has paid for (from oil receipts) and the UN Security Council has approved.

What was also missing from such a moving tale of Britain-to-the-rescue was that, under pressure from Bush and Blair, the United Nations has been forced to close down its food distribution system in Iraq, which barely prevented famine in the pre-war period.

BLAIR’S lies about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction and its alleged links with al-Qaeda have been exposed and rejected by the majority of the British people. He has since played his “conviction” card. Perhaps his last propaganda refuge is a call to support “our boys”.

On September 3, 1967, the Sunday Mirror published a dispatch of mine from Vietnam under the front page headline: “How can Britain approve a war like this?” Today’s Mirror asks the same question of the invasion of Iraq. The difference is that, unlike Blair, Prime Minister Harold Wilson denied an American president the use of British troops for his “coalition”. A poll in yesterday’s Mirror said that “78 per cent insist British forces must not be brought home until the war is over.” Polls themselves can make propaganda, with the question predetermining the answer. What if the question asked had been: “Do you support British forces being in Iraq given the absence of any ‘liberation’ and the rising number of civilian casualties?”

I doubt whether it would have been anywhere near 78 per cent. There is undoubtedly a traditional reserve of support for “the troops”, no matter the dirty work they are sent to carry out. Blair’s manipulation of this should not be allowed to succeed. British troops may be better trained than the Americans; but this does not alter the fact that they are part of, indeed essential to, a criminal invasion of a country offering us no threat.

Trained in media manipulation (“public relations”), British military spokesmen lie as frequently as the Americans; if anything, their nonsense about “uprisings” is too specious by half. The truth they don’t tell is that the British siege of Basra is strangling the civilian population, causing great suffering to innocent, men, women and children in their homeland.

Imagine if Iraqi troops were doing the same to Birmingham, a city of comparable size. Imagine the outrage: the popular resistance, regardless of who was in power in London. If we cannot imagine that, then we have fallen victim to a big lie that reverses right and wrong. If we cannot put ourselves in Iraqis’ shoes, in the shoes of the grieving family of the woman who was gunned down by Sgt Schrumpf, “the chick who got in the way”, then we have cause indeed to worry.

— source johnpilger.com