Friday, September 12, 2014

Obama's New Syria Tack a Neo-Con Job

Neocons Revive Syria ‘Regime Change’ Plan

by Robert Parry  - Consortium News

Official Washington’s ever-influential neoconservatives and their “liberal interventionist” allies see President Barack Obama’s decision to extend U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State terrorists into Syria as a new chance to achieve the long-treasured neocon goal of “regime change” in Damascus.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with members of the National Security Council in the Situation Room of the White House, Sept. 10, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) 

 On the surface, Obama’s extraordinary plan to ignore Syrian sovereignty and attack across the border has been viewed as a unilateral U.S. action to strike at the terrorist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), but it could easily evolve into a renewed effort to overthrow Bashar al-Assad’s government, ironically one of ISIS’s principal goals.

ISIS began as part of the Sunni resistance to George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq which had elevated Iraq’s Shiite majority to power. Then known as “al-Qaeda in Iraq,” the terrorist group stoked a sectarian war by slaughtering Shiites and bombing their mosques.

Changing its name to ISIS, the group shifted to Syria where it joined with U.S.-backed rebels seeking to overthrow Assad’s regime which was dominated by Alawites, a branch of Shiite Islam. Then, this summer, ISIS returned to Iraq where it routed Iraqi government forces in a series of battles and conducted public executions, including beheading two U.S. journalists.

In his national address Wednesday, Obama said he will order U.S. air attacks across Syria’s border without any coordination with the Syrian government, a proposition that Damascus has denounced as a violation of its sovereignty. Thus, the argument will surely soon be heard in Washington that Assad’s government must be removed as a military prerequisite so the attacks on ISIS can proceed. Otherwise, there could be a threat to U.S. aircraft from Syria’s air defenses.

That would get the neocons back on their original track of forcing “regime change” in countries seen as hostile to Israel. The first target was Iraq with Syria and Iran to follow. The goal was to deprive Israel’s close-in enemies, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Palestine’s Hamas, of crucial support. The neocon vision got knocked off track when Bush’s Iraq War derailed and the American people balked at the idea of extending the conflict to Syria and Iran.

But the neocons never gave up on their vision. They simply kept at it, clinging to key positions inside Official Washington and recruiting “liberal interventionists” to the “regime change” cause. The neocons remained focused on Syria and Iran with hopes of getting U.S. bombing campaigns going against both countries. [See’s “The Dangerous Neocon-R2P Alliance.”]

The neocons’ new hope has now arrived with the public outrage over ISIS’s atrocities. Yet, while pushing to get this new war going, the neocons have downplayed their “regime change” agenda, getting Obama to agree only to extend his anti-ISIS bombing campaign from Iraq into Syria. But “regime change” in Damascus has remained a top neocon priority.

In a New York Times op-ed on Aug. 29, neocon Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham avoided the “r-c” phrase couching their words about Syria’s civil war in the vague language of resolving the conflict, but clearly meaning that Assad must go.

The hawkish pair wrote that thwarting ISIS “requires an end to the [civil] conflict in Syria, and a political transition there, because the regime of President Bashar al-Assad will never be a reliable partner against ISIS; in fact, it has abetted the rise of ISIS, just as it facilitated the terrorism of ISIS’ predecessor, Al Qaeda in Iraq.”

Though the McCain-Graham depiction of Assad’s relationship to ISIS and al-Qaeda is a distortion at best – in fact, Assad’s army has been the most effective force in pushing back against the Sunni terrorist groups that have come to dominate the Western-backed rebel movement – the op-ed’s underlying point is obvious: an initial step in the U.S. military operation against ISIS must be “regime change” in Damascus.

Neocon Sleight-of-Hand

The neocons are also back to their old sleight-of-hand conflating the terrorists fighting the Assad government with the Assad government. In the op-ed, McCain and Graham cite Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson supposedly calling “Syria ‘a matter of homeland security’” – when he actually said in the linked speech from last February:

“We are very focused on foreign fighters heading to Syria. Based on our work and the work of our international partners, we know individuals from the U.S., Canada and Europe are traveling to Syria to fight in the conflict. At the same time, extremists are actively trying to recruit Westerners, indoctrinate them, and see them return to their home countries with an extremist mission.”

In other words, “Syria” was not the problem cited by Johnson but rather the “foreign fighters heading to Syria” and the possibility that they might “return to their home countries with an extremist mission.” The distinction is important, but McCain and Graham want to blur the threat to confuse Americans into seeing “Syria” as the problem, not the extremists.

A similar approach was taken by Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, one of the Obama administration’s top liberal war hawks. On Sept. 4, she sought to conflate recent allegations that Assad may not have surrendered all his chemical weapons with the possibility that any remaining weapons might fall into the hands of ISIS terrorists.

“Certainly if there are chemical weapons left in Syria, there will be a risk” that they could end up in the hands of ISIS, Power said. “And we can only imagine what a group like that would do if in possession of such a weapon.”

If any of these rhetorical tactics are ringing a bell, it’s because they are reminiscent of how the neocons frightened the American people into supporting the Iraq War in 2002-03. Back then, Bush administration officials blended unsubstantiated claims about Iraq’s WMDs with the prospect of them being shared with al-Qaeda.

In both cases – Iraq then and Syria now – the existence of those dangerous chemical weapons was in serious doubt and, even if they did exist, the two governments – of Saddam Hussein then and Bashar al-Assad now – were hostile to the Sunni fundamentalists in al-Qaeda and now its spinoff, ISIS.

Yet, this effort to confuse the American public – by manipulating their lack of knowledge about the power relationships in the Middle East – might work once more, by putting “black hats” on both Assad and ISIS and blurring the fact that they are bitter enemies.

In the weeks ahead, Assad also will surely be portrayed as obstructing the U.S. attacks on ISIS. He likely will be blamed for a lack of cooperation with the airstrikes even though it was the Obama administration that refused to coordinate with Assad’s government.


Among anti-neocon “realists” inside the U.S. intelligence community, the concern about how these airstrikes into Syria might lead to dangerous mission creep is so great that I’m told that some senior analysts are even suspicious of President Obama’s repeated use of the acronym “ISIL” – for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant – instead of the more common “ISIS,” referring only to Iraq and Syria.

The concern is that “the Levant” suggests a larger area including all “Mediterranean lands east of Italy,” that theoretically could include everything from Turkey to Palestine and Jordan to parts of Egypt. One source said inclusion of the phrase “ISIL,” instead of “ISIS,” in any “use of force” resolution could be significant by creating a possibility of a much wider war.

In his speech to the nation on Wednesday, Obama continued to use the acronym “ISIL” but his references to U.S. military operations were limited to Iraq and Syria.

The most controversial part of Obama’s speech was his open declaration to conduct cross-border attacks into Syria in clear violation of international law. He also vowed to increase military support for rebels fighting to overthrow the Assad government.

Obama declared that “we have ramped up our military assistance to the Syrian opposition” and he requested additional resources from Congress. He added: “We must strengthen the opposition as the best counterweight to extremists like ISIL, while pursuing the political solution necessary to solve Syria’s crisis once and for all,” a further suggestion that “regime change” is again in play.

Exactly what Obama thinks he can get from the Syrian opposition is a mystery, since he himself stated in an interview just last month that the notion that arming the supposedly “moderate” rebels would have made a difference in Syria has “always been a fantasy.”

He told the New York Times’ Thomas L. Friedman: “This idea that we could provide some light arms or even more sophisticated arms to what was essentially an opposition made up of former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth, and that they were going to be able to battle not only a well-armed state but also a well-armed state backed by Russia, backed by Iran, a battle-hardened Hezbollah, that was never in the cards.”

Nevertheless, Obama has now trotted out that old “fantasy” in connection with his plan to extend the war against ISIS into Syria. Obama also knows that many of the previous Syrian “moderates” who received U.S. weapons later unveiled themselves to be Islamists who repudiated the U.S.-backed opposition and allied themselves with al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, al-Nusra Front. [See’s “Syrian Rebels Embrace Al-Qaeda.”]

What’s Up?

Given that record – and Obama’s knowledge of it – what is one to make of the deceptive formulation that he presented to the American people on Wednesday night?

One explanation could be that Obama plans a more direct – albeit secretive – U.S. role in removing Assad and putting a new regime into power in Damascus. Or Obama might be simply pandering to the neocons and liberal hawks who would have gone berserk if he had acknowledged the obvious, that the smart play is to work quietly with Assad to defeat ISIS and al-Nusra Front.

The other smart play might be for Obama to resume his behind-the-scenes cooperation with Russian President Vladimir Putin who helped engineer Syria’s agreement to surrender its chemical weapons arsenal last year and who could presumably broker a quiet agreement between Obama and Assad to allow the U.S. airstrikes now.

Though the U.S. neocons and “liberal interventionists” exploited the Ukraine crisis to drive a wedge between the two leaders, Obama might want to reconsider that estrangement and accept the help of Russia – as well as Iran – in achieving a goal that they all agree on: defeating ISIS and other Sunni terrorist groups. [See’s “What Neocons Want from Ukraine Crisis.”]

Yet, in Wednesday’s speech, Obama seemed to go out of his way to insult Putin by decrying “Russian aggression” in Ukraine where the U.S. government has accused Moscow of violating Ukraine’s sovereignty by crossing the border into eastern Ukraine and aiding ethnic Russian rebels.Obama claimed that Washington’s own intervention in Ukraine was “in support of the Ukrainian peoples’ right to determine their own destiny.”

Yet the realities in Kiev, whose government is backed by the U.S., and in Damascus, whose government is despised by Washington, have eerie parallels. In Syria, Assad, a longtime dictator, won a recent election that was truncated by civil strife. In Ukraine, the current government was established by a February coup d’etat that overthrew an elected president and is now headed by a president elected by only a portion of the population, excluding much of the rebellious east.

Yet, in one country – Ukraine – the United States says outside intervention even by a neighbor to protect a population under military assault is illegal “aggression,” while in the other country – Syria – it is entirely okay for the United States to send its military halfway around the world, cross Syria’s borders to carry out bombing raids while also arming militants to overthrow the internationally recognized government.

Typically, neither Obama nor the U.S. mainstream press made note of the hypocrisy. But the bigger question now is will the neocons hijack Obama’s bombing campaign against ISIS in Syria to achieve one of their most beloved goals, regime change in Damascus.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

Talk Softly and Carry On Bombing: Obama's ISIL Syria Gambit

Obama Declares War on Syria

by Mike Whitney - CounterPunch

Invoking the same ominous language as his predecessor, Barack Obama used a prime time presidential address on Wednesday to announce the beginning of a war on Syria. And while there’s no doubt that many Americans will be confused by Obama’s misleading focus on the terrorist organization named ISIL, the real purpose of the speech was to garner support for another decade of homicidal conflicts in the Middle East.

The administration is as determined as ever to plunge the region into chaos, erase existing borders, and install its puppets wherever it can.

ISIL – which is mainly an invention of western Intel agencies and their treacherous counterparts in the Gulf – conveniently creates the justification for another bloody invasion followed by years of occupation, subjugation, and revolt.

Barack Obama: “My fellow Americans — tonight, I want to speak to you about what the United States will do with our friends and allies to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL. As commander-in-chief, my highest priority is the security of the American people…..

Thanks to our military and counterterrorism professionals, America is safer.

Still, we continue to face a terrorist threat. We cannot erase every trace of evil from the world, and small groups of killers have the capacity to do great harm. That was the case before 9/11, and that remains true today. That’s why we must remain vigilant as threats emerge.”

Get it? We are all in great peril and only our loving father, Obama, can save us. Where have we heard that before?

Obama: “In a region that has known so much bloodshed, these terrorists are unique in their brutality. They execute prisoners. They kill children. They enslave, rape, and force women into marriage…..If left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region — including to the United States.”

This is pure demagoguery, the likes of which we haven’t heard since Bush’s ”The Axis of Evil” speech. The truth is, ISIL poses NO threat to US national security at all. It’s a joke. Readers should mull that over before they throw their support behind Obama’s proposed crusade in Syria..

More Obama: “First, we will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists…..I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven…..”

Okay, so borders don’t matter, international law doesn’t matter, national sovereignty doesn’t matter. What matters is oil, money and power. Isn’t that what he’s saying? He’s asking the American people to support another millennia of killing so he can pad the bank accounts of corrupt US oil magnates while strengthening America’s tenuous grip on global power. Would you be willing to sacrifice your son’s life for such a cause?

Obama: “Across the border, in Syria, we have ramped up our military assistance to the Syrian opposition. Tonight, I again call on Congress to give us additional authorities and resources to train and equip these fighters.”

So, now Obama wants to arm and train the same terrorists which the CIA and our enlightened friends in the Gulf States recruited from around the world. Sounds like a good plan, doesn’t it? What could go wrong?

Obama: “This is our strategy….. Secretary Kerry was in Iraq today meeting with the new government and supporting their efforts to promote unity, and in the coming days he will travel across the Middle East and Europe to enlist more partners in this fight.”

So, Senator Botox and his gaggle of neocons are going to fix everything, just like they did in Kiev. Now I am worried.

Obama: “But I want the American people to understand how this effort will be different from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil. This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground.”

No American “boots on the ground”?? Is that what he said? What he meant to say was no boots on the ground until after the midterms. After that, the sky’s the limit!

Don’t kid yourself, the Obama claque is as determined to topple Assad as Bush was determined to remove Saddam. That’s why Obama’s public relations team decided to use the prestige of a primetime presidential speech –with all the pompous trappings of high-office–to make their case. It’s because their real target is the American people who are being led by the nose into another hellish bloodbath.

Obama: “American leadership is the one constant in an uncertain world. It is America that has the capacity and the will to mobilize the world against terrorists.”

Oh boy. American troublemaking is the “one constant” in this world, even death and taxes take a back seat to that. America started the war on terror. (Blowback) America perpetuated the war on terror. (check the globe. The US is fighting wars everywhere.) And America is entirely responsible for the war on terror. (Afghanistan, Mujahedin) And now–after 13 years of unlawful detentions, black sites, Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, death squads, waterboarding, illegal surveillance, drone attacks, and a mountain of carnage that stretches halfway to the moon– Obama is re-launching the War on Terror under the opaque sobriquet “ISIL”. Haven’t we had enough of this garbage yet?

As always, the media seems entirely mystified as to the administration’s real intentions. In contrast, analyst Patrick Martin at the World Socialist Web Site sees through the hoax and sums it up like this in an article titled “Obama announces open-ended war in Iraq and Syria”. Here’s an excerpt:

“It was only 12 months ago that Obama tried and failed to create the political conditions for US air strikes against the Assad regime, making allegations of the use of nerve gas weapons that were later discredited. Now Obama is seeking to achieve the same goal by a different route, using ISIS as a pretext to get American military forces into Syria, where they will become the spearhead of the campaign to oust Assad and install a pro-US stooge regime in Damascus.”

Bingo. The ISIL canard is nothing but a pretext for war.

Write to your Senators and Congressmen: NO WAR IN SYRIA.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at

Non Stop Non Sequitur: War Logic from Bush to Obama

The Giant Gaps in Obama’s ISIS Strategy

by Shamus Cooke - CounterPunch

Obama’s ISIS speech would have provoked outrage if Bush gave it. Now, however, Democrats and Republicans are united over foreign war to such an extent that a prolonged military campaign without congressional approval barely raises an eyebrow. So one year after an attack on Syria was rejected by the American public bombs will be dropping after all.

More surprising than the bi-partisan escalation of Middle East war is the complete absence of strategy. Obama’s speech ignored the fundamental causes of ISIS’ rise, while putting forth a military strategy of pure fantasy. The only guarantee of Obama’s war strategy is the unnecessary prolonging of the Syrian conflict and the further growth of Islamic extremism. It’s as if President Obama hasn’t figured out the ABC’s of terrorism: the more you bomb, the more extremists you create. It isn’t rocket science.

The 13-year “war on terror” has fundamentally failed, creating an exponential growth in Islamic extremism, now sprawling across the very epicenter of the Middle East where its presence before was miniscule.

The president’s speech ignored how his strategy to fight the secular Syrian government — funding, training, and arming the Syrian rebels — has directly contributed to creating giant militias of Islamic extremists, filled with money and jihadists from Obama’s Gulf state allies of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait. If not for the U.S.-backed rebels in Syria, the conflict would have ended long ago, and ISIS would have remained marginal.

But instead of admitting that this failed approach helped create ISIS, Obama has doubled down on his ludicrous plan to further arm and finance the “moderate” opposition in Syria. The New York Times discussed the holes in Obama’s strategy:

“… Mr. Obama is still wrestling with a series of challenges, including how to train and equip a viable ground force to fight ISIS inside Syria, how to intervene without aiding President Bashar al-Assad, and how to enlist potentially reluctant partners like Turkey and Saudi Arabia.”

None of these issues are to be resolved, only compounded. Of course President Assad will benefit if Obama attacks his enemy ISIS, in the same way that ISIS has been benefitting the last two years from the U.S.-backed proxy war against President Assad.

Further exposing these issues is the highly regarded Middle East journalist Patrick Cockburn, who predicted Obama’s foolish speech with precision:

“So far it looks as if Mr. Obama will dodge the main problem facing his campaign against Isis. He will not want to carry out a U-turn in U.S. policy by allying himself with President Assad, though the Damascus government is the main armed opposition to Isis in Syria. He will instead step up a pretense that there is a potent “moderate” armed opposition in Syria, capable of fighting both Isis and the Syrian government at once. Unfortunately, this force scarcely exists in any strength and the most important rebel movements opposed to Isis are themselves jihadis such as Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar al-Sham and the Islamic Front. Their violent sectarianism is not very different to that of Isis.”

Later in the article Cockburn explains that the negligible moderate force is dominated by the CIA.

Obama dared not say explicitly that his plan to fight ISIS included a plan to fight the Syrian government, but that’s exactly what he implied by continuing to arm, fund, and train a “moderate” Syrian opposition that is fighting both ISIS and Assad.

Obama’s bombing campaign against ISIS can thus rapidly transition into a regime change bombing of the Syrian Government, as happened in the U.S.-led NATO bombing campaign in Libya that began as “humanitarian intervention” and veered into regime change after the first bomb dropped.

Before he announced the expansion of the war Obama claimed legal authorization to bomb without Congressional approval. The U.S. House Judiciary Chair issued a different opinion. And Democrats, too, had a different opinion when Bush was in office.

But now many congressmen from both parties would like Obama to act without Congress, since midterm elections are nearing and no congressman wants to be on record voting for war, since Americans are fed up with it. Better to skip democracy and have the president declare war unilaterally, war weary voters be damned.

Lastly, Obama failed to mention that perpetual war is the new normal for the U.S. government, no matter which party is elected. By not addressing any of the above-mentioned issues, a serious analysis was shelved in favor of the Bush Jr. circular logic that can be used to rationalize war forever, creating new generations of Islamic extremists that will justify permanent war.

There can be only one real solution: remove the U.S. military from the Middle East.

Shamus Cooke is a social service worker at writer for Workers Action ( He can be reached at

Weasel Wording and Camoflage: "Dutch MH17 Report Not Worth the Paper It Was Printed On" - Pilot

Camouflage and Coverup: The Dutch Commission Report on the Malaysian MH17 Crash is “Not Worth the Paper it’s Written On”

by Peter Haisenko - Global Research

One thing must be stated outright: This report does not lie. It just can’t lie since there is nothing new in it. I myself have never seen such a meaningless plane crash report. What comes as a surprise, however, is the report’s diplomatic, sophisticated choice of words, which loses itself in ambiguous terminology.

“Weasel wording” consists in using “words and phrases aimed at creating an impression that a specific and/or meaningful statement has been made, when in fact only a vague or ambiguous claim has been communicated, enabling the specific meaning to be denied if the statement is challenged.” … “Some weasel words may also have the effect of softening the force of a potentially loaded or otherwise controversial statement through some form of understatement.” (Gary Jason 1988) 

It was probably planned this way, so each party can continue to defend their version of what happened with zeal.

Let’s take a closer look at this report.

At the beginning we find, as usual, detailed statements about the plane, who it belonged to, that it was in perfect condition and details about the crew. Technical issues or weather conditions are excluded as causes for the crash. Then, it confirms that the flight recorders were virtually undamaged and that they have not been tampered with.

The report continues with the description of the debris scattered over a vast area and from this observation is drawn the amazing conclusion that this aircraft had blown up in the air.

I apologize for the slight sarcasm, but I will have no choice but to continue to make some sarcastic remarks about this “report”.

14 minutes of silence in the cockpit is absolutely impossible

It is reported that the cockpit section was probably completely broken off from the aircraft because it fell almost vertically from the point of shelling to the ground and was found at some distance from the rest of the debris.

The report indicates that the damages done by external forces were recorded almost exclusively in the front of the plane, namely the cockpit, and this led to the breakup of the aircraft.

So far so good, nothing new. Then there is a transcript of the radio communication between MH017 and air traffic control taken from the voice recorder.

At this point the expert starts to ask himself questions.

The transcript of the radio communication starts at 13:08:00 and ends at 13:22:02, a 14 minute time frame.

From my experience as an aircraft captain I cannot imagine that during 14 minutes no other dialogues or sounds were picked up in the cockpit by the voice recorder.

When the cockpit receives radio transmissions from other aircraft, those are also recorded by the device. As I said, there are no lies, but in all likelihood, not everything is being said. The published conclusion points out that:

“Crew communication gave no indication that there was anything abnormal with the flight.”

Everything was normal, but the possible (and very probable) conversation in the cockpit is concealed, as well as radio transmissions from other aircraft.

High Energy Objects – and other hazy formulations

The conclusion of this report is a prime example of a situation in which one knows something with certainty, but the facts are presented in such a way that nothing is revealed:

“The damage observed in the forward section of the aircraft appears to indicate that the aircraft was penetrated by a large number of high-energy objects from outside the aircraft. It is likely that this damage resulted in a loss of structural integrity of the aircraft, leading to an in-flight break up.”

Aha! says the astonished reader. We knew that already. We must take a closer look at this conclusion. In fact, it is not a conclusion.

The report speaks of possibilities and probabilities: “appears to indicate”, “it is likely”. But this is the less enigmatic part.

The wordings “penetrated” and especially “high-energy objects” are interesting. It remains unclear how far these “objects” entered, or even if they went through the entire cockpit and came out on the other side of it, thus completely “penetrating” the cockpit. The background picture of the cockpit section shown in this report is of lower quality and in smaller scale than the one I provided myself and published in my analysis.

“Weasel Wording”

Again it must be noted: The report does not lie, but the Commission shows less information than it has at its disposal.

The term “high-energy objects” is totally “original”. What is this?

I myself know this term from astrophysics or quantum physics. Otherwise, I have not commonly seen it in the context of aviation or plane accidents. So how should this concept be understood? I asked English speakers about this. They spontaneously replied bullets, projectiles from a cannon or fast moving freight trains. They also noted that this term is unusual in “normal”, colloquial terms, except in astrophysics or quantum physics. This strange wording leaves everything open.

License to interpretations – The explanation appears different

Those who want to follow the Western description can conclude that a surface-to-air missile discharges “high-energy-objects”. This is precisely the interpretation that I observed in the German media today.

Our newspapers are reciting like a creed the American version of the cause of the disaster, issued immediately after the MH 017 crash, by claiming that the present report confirms that the Boeing 777 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile.

That is not exactly what the report states, but it allows this interpretation – and that’s probably the point of this very flexible choice of words. Everybody can interpret what they want to believe according to their own taste. Especially if they are not native English speakers who spontaneously think of bullets.

This “report” is not worth the paper it is written on.

This is not surprising, because the Kiev Maidan government had to give their OK to what could be published.

The report leaves open everything which could actually contribute to an explanation. The MH 017 could have been hit by a missile, whether surface-to-air or air-to-air. It could have been shot down by a fighter jet or, sarcastically, according to the astrophysics or quantum physics terms, by a large number of “high-energy objects” that rained down on the cockpit from the far reaches of the universe.

You can download the report in the original PDF here to make up your own mind.

More articles on MH 017: Read Peter Haisenko’s earlier article:

Shocking analysis for launching the Malaysian MH 017 - Here you will find the high resolution image of the cockpit section, of which only a portion is shown in the report.

German pilot and author Peter Haisenko
Original in German; translation: Julie Lévesque for Global Research

Truce or Trojan Horse: Ukraine's Next Move

Ukraine – Truce or Trojan Horse: Retreat, Re-Armament and Relaunch

by James Petras

The NATO proxy war in the Ukraine started with the violent US-EU-sponsored overthrow of the elected government via a mob putsch in February 2014. This was well financed at $5 billion, according to President Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland.

The result was a junta, composed of neo-liberal puppets, rightist nationalists and fascists, which immediately proceeded to purge the Ukrainian legislature of any politicians opposed to the coup and Kiev’s submission to the European Union and NATO. The NATO-sponsored client regime then moved swiftly to extend its control by centralizing power and overturning the official policy of bilingualism (Russian and Ukrainian) in the southeastern regions. It was preparing to break its long-standing agreement over the huge Russian naval base in Crimea and renege on its massive debts to Russia for gas and oil imports.

These extremist measures by a violent coup regime amounted to a radical break with existing economic, cultural and political institutions and, naturally, provoked a robust response from large sectors of the population. The overwhelmingly Russian speaking majority in Crimea convoked a referendum with 90% voter participation: 89% voted to secede and rejoin Russia. The ethnic Russian and bilingual, industrialized southeast regions of Ukraine organized their own referenda, formed popular militias and prepared for an armed response from what they viewed as an illegal junta in Kiev. Threatened by the new measures against their language and traditional and economic ties with Russia, the resistance drew its fighters from the vast reservoir of skilled industrial workers, miners and local business people who understood that they would lose thousands of jobs and access to the Russian markets as well as cultural and family links under the boot of the EU-NATO puppet in Kiev.

For critical sections of Ukraine, the Kiev junta was illegitimate, so the NATO overseers, cooked up an election with a pre-selected candidate, Petro Poroshenko, a millionaire oligarch, willing to serve as a ‘reliable’ proxy, despite his history of dubious ‘business’ deals, who would implement the Euro-US agenda. Despite large sectors boycotting the sham elections, the ‘victorious President’ Poroshenko immediately joined the EU, shredding the heavily subsidized and generous gas and oil agreements with Russia as well as cutting Ukraine off from its main export markets. He proposed to join NATO and convert Ukraine into a launching pad aimed at Russia. He eagerly signed an IMF agreement ending critical subsidies for low income Ukrainians, privatizing public enterprises and raising the cost of basic public services and food. He launched an all-out military campaign against the Donbass region, using missiles, air strikes, artillery and ground forces while assuring his masters in Washington and Brussels that he could easily smash all resistance to his dictatorial fiats and impose their radical retrograde agenda.

The scope and depth of the changes and the unilateral manner in which they were formulated and implemented provoked a widespread popular uprising in the southeast that cut across the entire social spectrum. The popular democratic nature of the opposition in the east attracted support throughout the region, reaching beyond the borders of Ukraine. The resistance easily captured Ukrainian military outposts while conscripted soldiers, ex-soldiers and local police units joined the resistance, bringing their arms with them.

The Kiev regime and its increasingly fascist shock troops responded with terror tactics, bombing civilian infrastructure and neighborhoods. In the ethnically-mixed city of Odessa, with its substantial Russian-speaking population, Kiev-based fascists torched the city’s main trade union building where civilian protesters had sought refuge, burning alive or later slaughtering over 40 trapped citizen demonstrators.

The terrorist tactics of the Kiev government spurred thousands more to join the resistance. Horrified and demoralized Ukrainian conscripts, who had been told they were fighting ‘Russian invaders’ defected or surrendered in large numbers. The spectacle of surrender and demoralization among its armed forces and police undermined this phase of Kiev’s offensive and led to a ‘legitimacy’ crisis.

The US-EU propaganda campaign intensified denying civilian resistance in the southeast any authenticity as an independent, democratic, national force by labeling them as ‘Russian separatists’ and ‘invaders’. Together with their puppet-‘President’ Petro Poroshenko, the US-EU tried to discredit the popular resistance via a major provocation: Ukrainian government air controllers in Kiev re-directed a civilian air liner, Malaysian Airlines Flt. 17, to fly directly over the war zone, shot it down killing almost 300 passengers and crew. The puppet in Kiev and their masters in Brussels and Washington then blamed the resistance, as well as Russia, for the crime!

The NATO-backed proxy regime’s tactic of terror boomeranged and caused even more outrage! More Ukrainian troops refused to fire on the own compatriots .The puppet regime in Kiev had to rely on the special fascist battalions eager to kill ‘Russians’. Many ordinary soldiers deserted rather than obey orders to fire heavy artillery shells into densely populated urban neighborhoods full of trapped civilians. Other troops crossed over into the safety of neighboring Russia where they surrendered and turned their arms over to the resistance.

The incredible strength of the southeast regional resistance came from several sources: First and foremost, they were defending home turf: their families, relatives, friends, neighbors, homes, workplaces, transport systems, hospitals and schools and they increasingly saw themselves as a nation confronting the ravages of a foreign-imposed dictatorship arbitrarily selling their principle economic enterprises and means of livelihood while submitting to the dictates of the US-EU controlled International Monetary Fund. This popular resistance was bolstered morally and materially by pro-democracy activists and militants from Euro-Asia, who understood that a NATO victory in Ukraine would lead to more coups in sovereign countries, more civil wars and brutal conquests throughout the region – a formula for economic and social disaster affecting tens, if not hundreds, of millions of people.

NATO’s heavy-handed presence behind the putsch in Kiev spurred a national liberation struggle in Ukraine and the growth of anti-NATO internationalism regionally. The battle was joined. The Kiev blitzkrieg halted in confusion. The battles for Donetsk and Lugansk turned the tide. The Resistance went on the offensive. Over 800 Kiev soldiers were killed. Thousands more were wounded, captured or deserted.

The Resistance was advancing westward and to the south threatening to create a land bridge to the Crimea and encircle an entire regiment. The puppet regime in Kiev panicked and pleaded for its EU and US patrons to intervene directly. Divisions within the junta deepened: the fascists demanded an all-out war against the Russian-speaking population and total mobilization. The neo-liberals, for their part, begged for direct NATO intervention.

Meanwhile, the EU and US imposed wide economic sanctions against Russia, unwilling to believe that the citizens in the Donbass region of southeast Ukraine would successfully resist their puppet in Kiev. They drank their own propaganda swill and blamed ‘Putin’, the Russian President, for the debacle. The increasing economic sanctions against Russia had no effect on the popular resistance in Ukraine as it took on the character of a national liberation struggle. However, the sanctions did provoke painful counter-measures from Russia, which slapped major embargos on EU and US agricultural products, deepening Europe’s economic recession. And there was a build up of NATO troops and joint military exercises on Russia’s borders in Poland, the Baltic States and over the Black Sea.

Finally the NATO powers realized that their puppet’s military conquest of the East was not going to be another ‘cake walk’, indeed it was turning into a brutal farce. From top to bottom, the junta’s armed forces were in shambles. The continued advance of the popular resistance and the onset of winter without Russian oil and gas could topple the regime in Kiev and force new elections free from NATO, the CIA and the machinations of US Assistant Secretary ‘F… the EU’ Victoria Nuland, Obama’s key strategist for Eastern Europe.

With NATO’s and Washington’s fears in mind, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed a ‘compromise’ for Poroshenko, an immediate ceasefire and negotiations leading to a political settlement between Kiev and the rebels. In the face of a military debacle in the East and growing internal fissures, the puppet in Kiev agreed to the ceasefire.

Prospects for Peace with Justice

Poroshenko and his NATO overseers eagerly grabbed onto Putin’s peace plan to stave off the advance of the popular resistance and gain time to re-group, rebuild and re-supply Kiev’s armed forces. NATO leaders are counting on a ‘political’ settlement where they trade easily-broken political promises in exchange for the resistance demobilizing and disarming under Kiev’s authority. There is no indication that the NATO-Kiev axis intends to abandon their strategic goal of turning Ukraine into a NATO base and vassal state of the EU.

As the cease fire comes into effect, the NATO powers have organized two sets of military exercises within Ukraine and on its immediate border – clearly undermining Russia’s strategic interests. The ongoing military build-up is a sign that NATO intends to participate directly in crushing the popular resistance in the next round. It is just a matter of time for NATO and Kiev to trot out some pretext to end the ceasefire. Meanwhile, NATO is increasing the flow of arms, advisers and contract mercenaries to Kiev. The oligarch in Kiev, Poroshenko is attempting to bolster his ground forces by imposing a highly unpopular universal conscription. Even the citizens in the west of Ukraine can see the war is going badly with the return of wounded soldiers and caskets holding their sons and brothers.

Tactically Poroshenko/NATO may offer paper concessions, greater ‘autonomy’ . . . under the rule of the Kiev junta, and the acceptance of bilingualism, but political, administrative, legal and fiscal powers will not devolve to the democrats in Donesk and Lugansk to design and implement their own policies and protect their rights. The regime will demand the re-entry of ‘its army’ on the pretext of guarding borders against Russia. There will be no reparations for the massive loss of life and infrastructure in the region. Kiev will seek to surround and fragment the Resistance and eliminate the key cross-border sanctuary with Russia. The ultimate goal would be to squeeze and oust resistance-led regional self-government.

The prolongation of negotiations will be used to build-up Kiev’s military capabilities. Meanwhile more US-imposed EU economic sanctions against Russia give Washington greater power to expand its influence in Europe and deepen political and trade polarization between the EU and Moscow. The Ukraine crisis is only one part of the Obama regime’s strategy of global military escalation, which includes re-entry into Iraq, direct bombing of Syria (including Damascus) and increased sanctions against companies and banks trading with Iran and Cuba, as well as the encirclement and provocation of China.

An independent Russia is the real target and the annexation of the Ukraine is a mere stepping stone on the way to Moscow. Under this strategic (and insane) vision, the US and EU will never accept a neutral (NATO-free), independent, democratic Ukraine. The popular resistance in the country’s southeast must clearly understand this strategic vision and continue the fight. They must recognize that the only means to establish democracy and self-rule, free from NATO and IMF dominance, and free from the marauding gangs of Kiev-led Nazi thugs – the terrorist Azov, Aidar and Donbass battalions – is via a plebiscite for total national independence.

The current cease fire is a Trojan horse: within the bowels of these negotiations, Kiev warlords are busily preparing to unleash more of their military excrement - fascist hordes and the oligarchs’ private armies, the monstrous spawn of the NATO-armed Azov battalion under Nazi banners, sporting swastika tattoos and hate-filled insignias. The choice is clear.

Who Would Defend Israel's Actions - And Why?

Into the Mind of a Defender of Israel’s War Crimes Against Palestinians

by Jeremy R. Hammond

I’ve been active on Twitter lately challenging apologists for Israel’s war crimes against the civilian population of Gaza.

One of them, “Clay”, no doubt feeling Twitter’s 140-character limit too constrictive, sent me an email accusing me of “anti-Israel propaganda using fellow pro Hamas sources as the foundation or your pretty much worthless arguments.” Clay adds, “I have no doubt you are a smart guy and know the subject matter but unfortunately bro you aren’t as smart as me.” He then lists a number of what he calls “irrefutable facts”.

There’s no point replying to this guy privately. Waste of time trying to teach sight to the willfully blind. But others may benefit from the discourse, so here’s his “facts” and my replies.

How Was Israel Established?

1. As a consequence of Ottoman Turkey’s foolish decision to join the Central Powers in World War I the empire was dismembered and Palestine was made a British mandate. Turkey’s foolish decision also likely led to the Balfour declaration in which Britain promised the Jews a homeland in the Middle East. The UN split the British Palestine mandate into an Arab state, Jordan, and a Jewish state, Israel, circa 1949.

This is false; complete nonsense. The UN created Israel, including the West Bank and Gaza as Israeli territory, in 1949? Clay is delusional. No more need be said about it. But if you aren’t familiar with the history, here is a brief rundown:

The League of Nations following WWI established the Palestine Mandate with Great Britain as the Mandatory Power. This was essentially an official recognition of Britain as the Occupying Power. The territory of the Mandate included Palestine (which was the area today comprised of Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip) and Transjordan (Jorday today).

The Balfour Declaration was a statement of Britain’s policy in Palestine. It was in the form of a private letter sent from Lord Arthur Balfour to Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild. It stated that Britain supported “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” with the caveat that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”.

It goes without saying that the Occupying Power had no authority to take land by force from the Arabs and redistribute it to the Jews. Nor did Great Britain claim such authority with the Balfour Declaration.

When the League of Nations was dissolved, the UN took over some of its roles with regard to Mandated territory. One often hears that the UN “partitioned” Palestine with General Assembly Resolution 181 (1947), which was how Israel was established. This is false. I won’t go into it; you can read about it here.

Israel was established in 1948 by unilateral declaration by the Zionist leadership on May 14, as the British occupation officially expired with the end of the Mandate. By that time, 300,000 Arabs had already been ethnically cleansed from Palestine. By the end of the war that ensued, three-quarters of a million Palestinians had been displaced, never permitted to return, and their villages destroyed and replaced by Jewish municipalities.

The hostilities ceased in 1949 with a series of armistice agreements. These established the “Green Line”, so named for the color with which it was drawn on the map, and alternatively known as the 1949 armistice lines or the pre-June 1967 lines. In 1967, Israeli invaded and occupied the areas beyond those lines, known as the West Bank and Gaza. All of Gaza and the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are under international law “occupied Palestinian territory”. Most of the world’s countries recognize this territory as the independent state of Palestine. Since 2012, the UN has recognized the state of Palestine, as well.

For more on the historical roots of the conflict, including fuller discussion of the Balfour Declaration and other relevant documents, read my book The Rejection of Palestinian Self-Determination: The Struggle for Palestine and the Roots of the Israeli-Arab Conflict. (If you have a Kindle, you can download it right now for less than three bucks.)

Do Civilized Human Beings Still Accept Racist Colonialism?

2. The King-Crane Commission report did rightly determine that the Jewish people were not a majority, nor were they a majority land owner. It also rightly assumed their presence in the region would not be welcome. But, with respect to the report, what was the world supposed to do with the Jewish people Jeremy? So yes, the traditional colonial powers jammed them into the area between the river and the sea. But that was about 100 years ago. Get over it Muslims.

There’s nothing of substance to address here. Clay is simply expressing his opinion that since the colonization and ethnic cleansing of Palestine is a fact of history, the “Muslims” should forget about it, accept the injustice, and move on. One wonders if Clay would maintain this opinion of it was his family who was ethnically cleansed from their homeland and living under a brutal military occupation.

As for his question about what the world “supposed to do with the Jewish people”, he asks as though there was no other option but to send them all to colonize Palestine. This just begs the question of why the nations of the West didn’t help the Jews by opening their own borders to the Jewish refugees. Why were the Palestinians instead made to pay the cost for the Holocaust, for crimes against European Jews by a European state, by having a grave injustice perpetrated against them by the Zionists and their Western benefactors? Why should any self-respecting Palestinian simply accept this and “Get over it”?

(If you want to learn more, the King-Crane Commission report is among the documents I discuss in The Rejection of Palestinian Self-Determination.)

Were the Palestinians Responsible for the Holocaust?

3. Middle Eastern Muslims supported Nazi Germany – no more so than the Palestinian Arab leader the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in fact – making loss of the permanent territories that are now Israel a just punishment. So Israel has just as much right to the land that it occupies as its Arab neighbors.

Clay’s argument here is that since Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, sought an alliance with Nazi Germany in exchange for Germany’s support for Palestine’s independence, therefore the colonization and ethnic cleansing of 750,000 Arabs who had nothing to do with the Mufti, much less with Nazi Germany or the Holocaust, was “a just punishment”. When he speaks of Israel’s “right to the land”, what he means is that might makes right. It’s the law of the jungle. This goes hand in hand with his “Get over it” remark. Again, one wonders whether he’d apply the same standard if it was his family expelled from their homeland on account of being the wrong ethnicity.

Do Today’s Jews Have a 2,000-Year-Old Birthright to Palestine?

4. Muslims should be smart enough to recognize that Israel was there before they were there. It is referenced as much in their own book of worship. And, BTW, Muslims also hold the Bible in high regard which clearly details a long and dynamic Israeli presence in that area of the world.

Clay refers to the Kindgom of Israel of Biblical times. He doesn’t actually make a point here, but it is clear enough in the context that what he means is that since there was once a place populated by Hebrews called “Israel” there thousands of years ago, therefore the land still belonged to the people of the Hebraic tribe of Judah circ 1948, hence the “Muslims” ought to just “Get over it” and accept that their expulsion from their homes and the land their families had lived in and worked for generations was somehow okay.

He earlier mentioned the US King-Crane Commission, which addressed that talking point of the Zionists, so let’s refer to it. In the Commission’s discussions with the Zionist leadership, “the fact came out repeatedly . . . that the Zionists looked forward to a practically complete dispossession of the present non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine, by various forms of purchase.”

President Wilson had expressed a policy of support for people’s right to self-determination, expressing that support for this right was one of the war aims of the Allied Powers. With regard to this right, the Commission stated, “If that principle is to rule, and so the wishes of Palestine’s population are to be decisive as to what is to be done with Palestine, then it is to be remembered that the non-Jewish population of Palestine—nearly nine tenths of the whole—are emphatically against the entire Zionist program. . . . [T]here was no one thing upon which the population of Palestine were [sic] more agreed than upon this. To subject a people so minded to unlimited Jewish immigration, and to steady financial and social pressure to surrender the land, would be a gross violation of the principle just quoted, and of the people’s rights, though it kept within the forms of law.”

Coming back to Clay’s point, the Commission stated that the claim of the Zionists “that they have a ‘right’ to Palestine, based on an occupation of 2,000 years ago, can hardly be seriously considered.”

Indeed, it cannot.

Is Israel Really David Against an Arab Goliath?

5. Israel has not once “started” a conflict with its neighbors. This is likely a statement you will disagree with because your writings suggest Israel’s mere presence in the region is enough of an affront to the Muslim population that the nearly constant state of war that is going on is Israel’s fault. That is a ridiculous assumption but one that Hamas and the other Arab nations have relied on historically to continue the onslaught and aid to those continuing the conflict.

Let’s look at 1948 some more. The Zionist narrative is that the Arab states launched a war of aggression on the state of Israel upon its founding in May 1948. But as already noted, by the time the neighboring Arab states were able to muster some kind of military response, more than a quarter million Arabs had already been ethnically cleansed from Palestine.

Or take 1956, when Israel conspire with Britain and France to invade Egypt. The European powers’ interest was in teaching Egypt a lesson for nationalizing the Suez Canal. Israel sought conquest of the Sinai. Israel started that war that October 29.

Or take the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, the so-called “Six Day War”. It began on the morning of June 5, 1967 with a surprise Israeli attack on Egypt that obliterated its air force while most of its planes were still on the ground. The Zionist narrative is that this was a “preemptive” attack, but the CIA had assessed that Egypt’s military forces in the Sinai had taken up defensive positions and Israel’s own intelligence assessed that Nasser had no interest in bloodshed and was not insane, as he would have to be to make the decision to launch a first-strike on Israel, which had a vastly superior military.

Or take 1983, when Israel launched a devastating war on Lebanon.

Or take December 27, 2008, when Israel launched Operation Cast Lead, a full-scale military assault on the civilian population of Gaza after having broken a ceasefire with Hamas. It employed what it dubbed the “Dahiya Doctrine”, referring to its flattening of the Dahiya district of Lebanon in 2006, a policy of deliberate use of disproportionate force.

Or take November 14, 2012, when Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense a day after Egypt had brokered a ceasefire agreement with Hamas that Hamas had honored, but which Israel used as a ruse to lull Hamas into a false sense of security to draw out a Hamas official that it then assassinated in an airstrike upon the launch of its operation.

One could go on, but this is sufficient to illustrate Clay’s delusion that Israel has not once started a conflict with its neighbors.

Is Israel’s Massacre of Civilians Justified?

6. Hamas is using schools and hospitals to hide its weapons and draw Israeli fire to areas populated by civilians. The UN has said as much. I’m sure you think the U.N. is not telling the truth but there is actually video that was released a week ago of a Finnish reporter detailing rocket fire from behind a hospital and there are UN leaders on the record stating that weapons have been found in UN schools so go ahead and doubt that but it pretty much makes you look stupid.

The claim that Hamas uses civilians as “human shields” is a constant one made by Israel. It made the same claim to justify its killing of civilians during Operation Cast Lead. Numerous investigations by UN bodies and human rights organizations uncovered no evidence to support this claim.

It is true that on three occasions during Israel’s most recent operation against Gaza, vacant UN schools were found to have arms stored inside by Palestinian militants. However, Israel has several times bombed UN schools where civilians were sheltering. No arms were being stored in these schools. Nor is there any evidence that Hamas was firing from the immediate vicinity of these schools. In fact, when Israel bombed the UN school in Jabaliya, it killed children sleeping inside. When it bombed the UN school in Rafah, it killed civilians in the street just outside the gates who were shopping at local market stands.

It is often said by Israel’s defenders that Hamas deliberately targets civilians while Israel does its best to avoid them. It is striking, then, that 96% of Israeli casualties in this latest round of violence were soldiers while most of the Palestinians killed by Israel — at least 68% — have been civilians, including 377 children and 196 women (as of August 4). The ratio is also nearly 26 Palestinians killed for every one Israeli, with Palestinian deaths surpassing 1,700 — more than were killed during Operation Cast Lead.

What Does Religion Have to Do With It?

7. If the Arab nations would stop attacking Israel this whole thing would be over but they won’t do that because the Koran mandates that they must continue to try to destroy Jews…and Christians by the way. I’ve read the Koran Jeremy. It’s in there so please don’t try and argue that it is not. As a postscript to this bullet point, I’d like to point out that Islam was founded on a book written by a single man who claimed to have written it after chilling in a cave, talking to God. The book is supposed to be the incontrovertible words of God himself but throughout the years had to be edited for grammar and spelling. The religion also had to be furthered pretty much with threats and violence and continues to be furthered in that fashion today…see Al Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, et, al.

His first point goes back to his delusion that it has always been the Arabs who have started each round of violence, that Israel has not once started a conflict with its neighbors.

Against his wishes, I am going to have to go ahead and point out that the Koran does not mandate that Muslims must try to destroy Jews and Christians. On the contrary, it describes Jews and Christians as being “People of the Scripture” who are included with Muslims as those who “believeth in Allah and the Last Day” (i.e., Judgement Day), who “doeth right” and whose “reward is with their Lord”.

It describes Jews as the “Children of Israel” and recognizes the covenant between the God of Abraham and his descendants.

It recognizes the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, as “Scripture”, the God of Abraham (Yahweh to the Hebrews, Allah to the Mulsims) having “revealed the Torah and the Gospel”. It recognizes the prophets of the Bible, such as Moses, who received the Ten Commandments “that ye might be led aright.”

It states that those “who forsaketh the religion of Abraham” are those who “befooleth” themselves; where it criticizes Jews and Christians, it is on the grounds that they have strayed from observance of “the Torah and the Gospel” that was “revealed unto you from your Lord.”

Jesus, we may recall, made the same criticism of his people.

Where Muslims are commanded by Allah in the Koran to slay Jews or Christians, it is in the context of battle. When it says in Surah 9:5, for example, to “slay the idolaters wherever ye find them…”, it refers to a time when Muhammed and his followers had made a treaty with the tribes of non-believers who controlled Mecca, only to have that treaty broken when the opponents of Islam attacked and massacred a tribe allied with the Muslims. Verse 4 states explicitly that those who have kept their treaty are excepted from the command of violence. As for the call to arms, it is explicitly a call to self-defense, not aggression. As verse 13 reads, “Will ye not fight a folk who broke their solemn pledges, and purposed to drive out the messenger and did attack you first?”

For further examples, see here.

See, I’ve read the Koran, too. Only when I read it, I didn’t do so with a mind to cherry-pick verses out of context to support my preconceived notions of Islam as a manifestation of evil. Clay’s suggestion that the practices of al-Qaeda, etc. represent what is actually written in the Koran can’t be taken seriously — any more than the behavior of Christians during the Crusades or Inquisition can be said to reflect the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament.

It should also be pointed out that there is nothing comparable in the Koran to the commandment in the Bible for the Hebrews to commit genocide and to slay the defenseless women and children along with the men.

Should Palestinians Just Accept Their Ethnic Cleansing?

8. If Israel presence is so awful and unwelcome than shouldn’t that apply to all of us. Should white people vacate the U.S. and go back to Europe and give the lands back to the Native Americans? Should the Spanish and Portuguese go back home and leave South America? I suppose Australians should go back to Britain and let the Aboriginal peoples have it? That’s not how it works. For the most part, all those groups have decided to live and let live…why can’t the Muslims? And remember…the Jews were there first anyway…around 1100 B.C. most likely.

This is really remarkable. Clay obviously hasn’t thought through his logic here very thoroughly, as he contradicts himself. On one hand, he argues that the Palestinians should just accept having been ethnically cleansed from Palestine. It’s his “Get over it” attitude again. Why? Because throughout history, groups of people have been displaced by other groups of people, and we accept today that what’s done is done. So the Palestinians, by this logic, have no more claim to the land that they were ethnically cleansed from just a couple generations ago.

Yet he just got finished suggesting that the Jews had some kind of right to Palestine and were justified in using force to take it back based on a presence in the region over 2,000 years ago. He even alludes to this previous argument of his again with his “the Jews were there first anyway” remark. Not a very “live and let live” attitude.

Suffice to say this isn’t so much an argument as an illustration of Clay’s hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance.

It should also be noted that the ethnic cleansing of Palestine isn’t history. It is ongoing. 1948 was just the beginning. Further cleansing occurred in 1967. And a slow ethnic cleansing of Palestine has continued since then under Israel’s occupation regime, with its continuous demolitions of Palestinian homes and establishment in occupied Palestine of Jewish colonies in violation of international law. We are not talking here about some historical event and some injustice for which there ought to be a statute of limitations. Again, we are talking about a refugee crisis stemming from the initial crime of ethnic cleansing just a couple generations ago — there are Palestinians still alive today who went through it — as well as ongoing injustices.

Is Israel a Diamond in the Rough?

9. Last point… the Arab nations that don’t have ludicrous amounts of oil are a complete joke economically and politically Jeremy? Why is that? Maybe because they spend all of their time trying to figure out how to kill Jews and convert the populous instead of focusing on growing their respective economies and working with other nations – including Israel – to achieve said economic growth. Why is Israel so successful and the other nations are not? Maybe because they don’t spend all their time trying to blow up their neighbors.

If Clay is expecting me to defend the Arab states — including authoritarian regimes propped up by the US — he will be sorely disappointed. This is really just a repetition of his previously asserted delusion that Israel has never attacked its neighbors and that Muslims are inherently bigoted and violent.

Classic psychological projection.

As for his opinion that Israel is a “successful” nation, this is certainly arguable, dependent entirely upon what criteria one accepts for the “success” of a state. I personally would include criteria such as respect of the equal rights of all its citizens, upholding the rule of law, respecting the body of international conventions and treaties comprising international law to which it is party, respect for customary international law and civilized behavior, etc. I’m not sure what criteria Clay is using but he would obviously reject my own.

Is Criticism of Israel ‘Anti-Semitism’?

To wrap this up…my thoughts on your problem(s) with Israel is not that you care so much for Hamas but that you hate the Jews and you wish that the body count would be equal on both sides. Not going to happen bro because the U.S. government stands with Israel or at least it did at one time. You probably also think the Jews are to blame for 9-11 BTW. You probably also think if you went over to that region they’d love you because you are so pro Hamas. Your head would end up on a stick. They are killers.

Naturally, a weak mind such as Clay’s will resort to the old charge of “anti-Semitism” in response to any criticism of the actions of the government of Israel. In lieu of a valid argument, just launch the old standby accusation against the others’ character. Every critic of Israel is familiar with this charge.

Clay is right, though, that as long as the US government “stands with Israel” and supports its crimes against the Palestinians, the injustices will continue. This is the subject of my forthcoming book Obstacle to Peace. (Subscribe to my free newsletter below to keep updated.)

His 9/11 comment is humorous. I’ll have to disappoint him once again, though. As for his “pro Hamas” label, this is just the standard euphemism for “critical of Israel’s war crimes and human rights violations against the Palestinians”.

As for my head ending up on a stick, I’d be more than happy to test Clay’s hypothesis. He can back up his words by paying my travel expenses. I’d be happy to visit the West Bank and Gaza. I look forward to doing so one day when circumstances allow it.

Does Zionist Propaganda Still Work?

Violence and death sucks but one side picks the fight with Israel and then Israel responds and folks like you try and control the message. Your propaganda doesn’t work though. All it takes is someone smarter than you (me) and some time on the Interweb to gather resources to refute your ridiculous claims. And, BTW, should you want to settle this with a little action out by the bike racks come to Denver anytime and I’m quite sure I would beat your ass.

God Bless!

Clay is trapped in another age. Zionist myths and propaganda about the conflict have long dominated Western narratives. This includes the idea of Israel as the David against the Arab Goliath, the idea that Israel was somehow lawfully established by the international community, the claim that the Arabs left Palestine voluntarily, and so on. Standard debate tactics include dismissing critics of Israel’s crimes as anti-Semites in lieu of addressing the facts. (Never mind that Arabs are also Semites.) But the world has changed.

Contemporary scholarship continues to decimate the standard Zionist narratives of the conflict. What no longer works is Israel’s propaganda. A very significant example of this is the US response this time to Israel’s bombing of UN schools. Five years ago, when Israel bombed UN facilities during Operation Cast Lead, the US defended it. It knows it is just not politically feasible to do so anymore. The world is awakening to the realities of the conflict.

As a final note, since Clay is from Denver, by his own logic, he should have no problem being forced out of his home and having his land given back to native Americans. By his own logic, he could be expelled from the borders of Colorado, and he should be just fine with that. He should be perfectly content to “Get over it” were this to occur. It’s also instructive how he wails on and on about the violent nature of the “Muslims” while himself boasting how he could “beat” my “ass”.

I hate to disappoint him a final time, but moral and intellectual cowards like Clay just do not intimidate me. If he sends me his address and pays my travel expenses, I’ll be happy to hand deliver him a copy of my forthcoming book Obstacle to Peace: The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict once its published.

This book completely demolishes the standard mainstream narratives of the conflict. I’ll just leave it at that.

Stay tuned!

Subscribe below and follow me @jeremyrhammond.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Meeting the New Enemy: US Foreign Policy Goes Back to Wack-a-Mole Strategy

American Bombs Will Not Defeat ISIS


Vijay Prashad says the Saudis and Iran must be part of a regional solution that includes ending support for jihadists in Syria.

Vijay Prashad is the George and Martha Kellner Chair in South Asian History and Professor of International Studies at Trinity College. He is the author of sixteen books, including The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South (Verso, 2013), Arab Spring, Libyan Winter (AK, 2012) and (co-edited with Paul Amar) Dispatches from the Arab Spring (2013). He writes regularly for The Hindu, Frontline, Jadaliyya, Counterpunch, Himal and Bol.

BP Deepwater Comedy Routine Lays Egg

BP and the Three Stooges Defense

by Greg Palast - Truthdig

Forget Stephen King. If you want scary, read U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier’s 150-page Findings of Fact released Thursday in the Deepwater Horizon case.

Although the judge found BP liable for “gross negligence,” some U.S. media failed to mention that Barbier let BP off the hook on punitive damages. And that stuns me, given that the record seems to identify enough smoking guns to roast a sizable pig.

Here’s a standout example:

Every rig operator knows that, before a rig can unhook from a drill pipe, the operator has to run a “negative pressure test” to make sure the cement has properly sealed the drill pipe. If the pipe is safely plugged, the pressure gauge will read zero. The amount of pressure BP measured at 5 p.m. on April 20, 2010, the day of the explosion? 1400 psi (see the findings, pages 62-65).

1400 psi is not zero. Stick a balloon in your mouth with zero pressure and nothing happens except that you look silly. Replace the balloon with a hose delivering a 1400 psi blast and it’ll blow your skull apart.

So, how could the company record zero? Answer: BP’s crew re-ran the test measuring the pressure in something called the “kill line,” which is definitely not the drill pipe.

By reporting that the pipe had no pressure and all was safe, BP could begin to unhook the Deepwater Horizon from the pipe—and sail away. Why would BP do that? In my view, there were three motives: money, money and money. It costs BP a good half million dollars each extra day the rig stays on top of the drill hole. It seems that BP wanted the rig gone and quickly.

So, instead of halting the disconnection process, BP appears to have lied and recorded the pressure reading as “zero.” The rig’s owner, Transocean of Switzerland, went along with BP’s actions.

So how did BP get away with mere “gross negligence” as opposed to the more serious claim of fraud? Because the court found that the blowout, explosion, fire and oil spill were caused by “misinterpretation of the negative pressure test.”

Misinterpretation? If a woman says “thanks” when you say she’s dressed nicely and you think she wants a kiss, that’s “misinterpretation.” But on the Deepwater Horizon, the drill pipe gauge read 1400 psi and BP picked a different pipe that gave the company the magic zero. That’s not, I contend, “misinterpretation.”

Maybe the judge thought he was pretty tough by calling out BP for “gross” negligence (rather than plain-vanilla negligence, the finding against Transocean and contractor Halliburton). But, in fact, it seems Barbier fell for the Three Stooges defense.

Throughout the 150-page decision, the judge cites one instance after another of bone-headed, buffoonish, slapstick decisions, and plenty of pratfalls and banana-peel slips by BP, Transocean and Halliburton. You have to wonder how these schmucks even found their drill hole. It was a corporate Larry-Moe-and-Curly-Joe routine that would provide a lot of belly laughs if 11 men hadn’t died as a result.

I’ve seen the Three Stooges defense before in federal court. In 1988, the corporate owner and the builder of the Shoreham nuclear plant were on trial on accusations they bilked their New York customers out of $1.8 billion. In court, they pleaded stupidity and incompetence as a defense against deliberate deception. As the government’s investigator, I didn’t buy it—billion-dollar corporations can’t be that stupid—and neither did the jury. (The racketeering charges were settled after trial for $400 million.)

And here is a new set of Stooges: BP plays Larry, Transocean puts on Moe’s wig and Halliburton makes “Nyuk! Nyuk! Nyuk!” sounds like Curly Joe. Halliburton, the judge found, failed to test the final cement mix and BP bitched about it—“[Halliburton engineer Jesse Gagliano] isn’t cutting it any more,” reads an email between two BP managers on the rig—but BP went ahead and used the bad cement anyway (see pages 57-58, paragraphs 227-228).

When the pressure in the drill pipe read 1400 psi, BP and Transocean managers should have stopped the rig departure immediately. They didn’t. Nevertheless, other systems should have prevented a blowout. According to Barbier, other safety systems were jacked with to save a penny here, a penny there (or, a million here, a million there). Example: BP used leftover cement (see pages 52-53, paragraphs 209-211) that contained chemicals that destroyed the integrity of the new cement, because using the old stuff saved some serious cash.

And this leads to the question of punitive damages.

Barbier had the power to levy a fine big enough to make BP plc, BP America’s London-based parent corporation—a company with revenue of a quarter of a trillion dollars a year—go “ouch.” But to slam BP with a fine that would hurt, the judge needed to hear from the Justice Department about corporate-wide perfidy. He pointed out that the case would have to be made against BP plc, the international parent, if he were to level a fine that would punish the corporation.

Against BP there is evidence aplenty. For years BP plc has played fast and loose with safety—from Asia to Alaska.

Chasing BP across five continents, I’ve found that “gross negligence” could be BP’s corporate motto. In 2010, I was arrested in Azerbaijan hunting down evidence of another BP/Transocean offshore blowout that occurred 17 months before the Deepwater Horizon explosion. The cause of the Caspian blowout was the same as in the Gulf disaster: mishandling of “foamed” cement. Had BP not covered up the prior blowout off the coast of Azerbaijan, the deaths in the Gulf, I’m certain, would have been avoided.

Yet on this and other examples of BP’s transcontinental penny-pinching negligence, the Justice Department was silent.

The ugly truth is that the U.S. State Department knew of the Caspian disaster and kept its lips sealed. Our own government wasn’t going to admit that in the Deepwater Horizon trial.

Furthermore, the U.S. government can’t tag BP as an endemically rogue, dangerous operator without casting doubt on the administration’s recent grant to the corporation of new deep tracts to drill in the Gulf of Mexico.

So maybe it was not the judge but the public that was blinded by the government and media crowing about a possible $18 billion fine for gross negligence. Eighteen billion dollars may sound like a lot to us mere mortals, but to a trillion-dollar behemoth like BP, it is not a punishment, but a reasonably priced permit for plunder.

Greg Palast has been called the “most important investigative reporter of our time—up there with Woodward and Bernstein” (The Guardian). Palast has broken front-page stories for BBC Television Newsnight, The Guardian, The Nation, Rolling Stone and Harper’s Magazine.

Palast is the author of the New York Times best-sellers “Billionaires & Ballot Bandits,” “Armed Madhouse” and “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy” and the highly acclaimed “Vultures’ Picnic,” named Book of the Year 2012 on BBC Newsnight Review.

His books have been translated into two dozen languages.

Palast is known for complex undercover investigations spanning five continents, from the Arctic to the Amazon, from Caracas to California, using the skills he learned over two decades as a top investigator of corporate fraud.

13 Years Later and What Has Been Accomplished?

9/11 After 13 years

by Paul Craig Roberts

The tragedy of September 11, 2001, goes far beyond the deaths of those who died in the towers and the deaths of firefighters and first responders who succumbed to illnesses caused by inhalation of toxic dust. For thirteen years a new generation of Americans has been born into the 9/11 myth that has been used to create the American warfare/police state.

The corrupt Bush and Obama regimes used 9/11 to kill, maim, dispossess and displace millions of Muslims in seven countries, none of whom had anything whatsoever to do with 9/11.

A generation of Americans has been born into disdain and distrust of Muslims.

A generation of Americans has been born into a police state in which privacy and constitutional protections no longer exist.

A generation of Americans has been born into continuous warfare while needs of citizens go unmet.

A generation of Americans has been born into a society in which truth is replaced with the endless repetition of falsehoods.

According to the official story, on September 11, 2001, the vaunted National Security State of the World’s Only Superpower was defeated by a few young Saudi Arabians armed only with box cutters. The American National Security State proved to be totally helpless and was dealt the greatest humiliation ever inflicted on any country claiming to be a power.

  • That day no aspect of the National Security State worked. Everything failed.

  • The US Air Force for the first time in its history could not get intercepter jet fighters into the air.

  • The National Security Council failed.

  • All sixteen US intelligence agencies failed as did those of America’s NATO and Israeli allies.

  • Air Traffic Control failed.

  • Airport Security failed four times at the same moment on the same day. The probability of such a failure is zero.

If such a thing had actually happened, there would have been demands from the White House, from Congress, and from the media for an investigation. Officials would have been held accountable for their failures. Heads would have rolled.

Instead, the White House resisted for one year the 9/11 families’ demands for an investigation. Finally, a collection of politicians was assembled to listen to the government’s account and to write it down. The chairman, vice chairman, and legal counsel of the 9/11 Commission have said that information was withheld from the commission, lies were told to the commission, and that the commission “was set up to fail.” The worst security failure in history resulted in not a single firing. No one was held responsible.

Washington concluded that 9/11 was possible because America lacked a police state.
The PATRIOT Act, which was awaiting the event was quickly passed by the congressional idiots. The Act established executive branch independence of law and the Constitution. The Act and follow-up measures have institutionalized a police state in “the land of the free.”

Osama bin Laden, a CIA asset dying of renal failure, was blamed despite his explicit denial. For the next ten years Osama bin Laden was the bogyman that provided the excuse for Washington to kill countless numbers of Muslims. Then suddenly on May 2, 2011, Obama claimed that US Navy SEALs had killed bin Laden in Pakistan. Eyewitnesses on the scene contradicted the White House’s story. Osama bin Laden became the only human in history to survive renal failure for ten years. There was no dialysis machine in what was said to be bin Laden’s hideaway. The numerous obituaries of bin Laden’s death in December 2001 went down the memory hole. And the SEAL team died a few weeks later in a mysterious helicopter crash in Afghanistan. The thousands of sailors on the aircraft carrier from which bin Laden was said to have been dumped into the Indian Ocean wrote home that no such burial took place.

The fairy tale story of bin Laden’s murder by Seal Team Six served to end the challenge by disappointed Democrats to Obama’s nomination for a second term. It also freed the “war on terror” from the bin Laden constraint. Washington wanted to attack Libya, Syria, and Iran, countries in which bin Laden was known not to have organizations, and the succession of faked bin Laden videos, in which bin Laden grew progressively younger as the fake bin Laden claimed credit for each successive attack, had lost credibility among experts.

Watching the twin towers and WTC 7 come down, it was obvious to me that the buildings were not falling down as a result of structural damage. When it became clear that the White House had blocked an independent investigation of the only three steel skyscrapers in world history to collapse as a result of low temperature office fires, it was apparent that there was a coverup.

After 13 years people at home and abroad find the government’s story less believable.

The case made by independent experts is now so compelling that mainstream media has opened to it. Here is Richard Gage of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth on C-SPAN:

After years of persistence a group in New York has secured the necessary number of valid signatures to put on the ballot a vote to investigate the cause of the collapse of the three WTC buildings. The official account, if correct, means that existing fire and building codes are insufficient to protect the public and that all other steel high rise structures are subject to the same failure. The group has been clever to frame the issue in terms of public safety and not in terms of 9/11 truth.

New York authorities, of course, continue to oppose the initiative. The question now rests on a judge’s ruling. It is difficult to imagine a judge going against the government in such a major way, but the group will have made the point that the government has no confidence in the truth of its own story.

Over these 13 years, physicists, chemists, architects, engineers, and first responders have provided massive evidence that completely disproves the official account of the failure of the three skyscrapers. The response to experts has been for non-experts to call experts “conspiracy theorists.” In other words, the defenders of the government’s story have no scientific or factual basis on which to stand. So they substitute name-calling.

9/11 was used to fundamentally alter the nature of the US government and its relationship to the American people. Unaccountable executive power has replaced due process and the checks and balances established by the US Constitution. In the name of National Security, executive power knows no restraints. Essentially, Americans today have no rights if the government targets them.

Those Americans born after 9/11 were born into a different country from the rest of us. Having never experienced constitutional government, they will not know what they have lost.

The anthrax attacks of October 2001 have been forgotten, but Professor Graeme MacQueen in The 2001 Anthrax Deception (Clarity Press, 2014) shows that the anthrax attacks played an essential role in setting the stage for the government’s acquisition of unaccountable police state power. Two Democratic Senate committee chairmen, Thomas Daschle and Patrick Leahy, were disturbed by the Bush regime’s overreach for carte blanche power, and were in a position to block the coming police state legislation and the ability of the executive branch alone to take America to war.

Both senators received anthrax letters, as did major news organizations. The TV network news anchors, such as Dan Rather, who compared the collapse of WTC skyscrapers to buildings brought down by controlled demolition, had not yet been fired by Republicans on framed-up charges.

Initially, the anthrax letters, which caused the deaths of some USPS employees, were seen as the second stage of the 9/11 attack. Fear multiplied. The senators and media shut up. Then it was discovered that the anthrax was a unique kind produced only by a US government military facility.

The response to this monkey wrench thrown into the government’s propaganda, was the FBI’s frame-up of a dead man, Bruce Edwards Ivins, who had been employed in the military lab that produced the anthrax and was driven to suicide by the false charges. The dead man’s colleagues did not believe one word of the government’s false story, and nothing in the dead man’s past indicated any motive or instability that would have led him to such a deed.

Initially, the US government tried to frame up Steven Jay Hatfill, but despite the best efforts of the New York Times and Nicholas Kristof the attempt to frame Hatfill failed. Hatfill received $5 million from the US government for the false accusation that ruined his life. So the corrupt US government moved on to Ivins.

Ivins was dead and couldn’t defend himself, but his colleagues did.

The entire episode stinks to high heaven. Justice is something that exists outside the borders of the United States. Never expect to find justice within the United States.

Most Americans are unaware of the extent to which the federal government owns the experts who can contradict its fairy tales. For example, no competent physicist can possibly believe the official story of the destruction of the three WTC buildings. But physics departments in US universities are heavily dependent on federal money. Any physicist who speaks his mind jeopardizes not only his own career but also the career of all of his colleagues. Physicist Steven Jones, who first pointed to the use of thermite in the destruction of the two towers had to agree to having his university buy out his tenure or his university was faced with losing all federal financing.

The same constraints operate in the private sector. High rise architects and structural engineers who express doubts about the official explanation of the collapse of three skyscrapers are viewed by potential clients as Muslim apologists and conspiracy kooks. The clients, of course, have no expert knowledge with which to assess the issue, but they are indoctrinated with ceaseless, endless, repetition that 9/11 was Osama bin Laden’s attack on America. Their indoctrination makes them immune to facts.

The 9/11 lie has persisted for 13 years. Millions of Muslims have paid for this lie with their lives, the destruction of their families, and with their dislocation. Most Americans remain comfortable with the fact that their government has destroyed in whole or part seven countries based on a lie Washington told to cover up an inside job that launched the crazed neoconservatives’ drive for Washington’s World Empire.

See also:

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts' latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West and How America Was Lost.