Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’
Obama at the UN: The arrogant voice of imperialism
By Bill Van Auken
24 September 2010
President Barack Obama used his speech at the United Nations General Assembly Thursday to defend US wars and state terror abroad and to proclaim that the economic crisis has been resolved thanks to his Wall Street bailout.
The US president received a noticeably tepid response from the assembled UN delegates. While in his first address to the body last year, he was able to pose as a fresh alternative to the crimes carried out by the Bush administration, by now it has become clear to most on the international stage that his administration’s policies are largely in continuity with those of its predecessor.
In its tone and its content, the Obama speech was the authentic and arrogant voice of US imperialism.
Parroting remarks delivered by George W. Bush from the same podium, Obama began by invoking September 11, 2001, once again exploiting the terrorist attacks of that day to justify the acts of military aggression committed by both US administrations in the intervening nine years.
In the same breath, he referred to Wall Street’s financial meltdown of September 2008, as an event that “devastated American families on Main Street,” while “crippling markets and deferring the dreams of millions on every continent.”
These two events were presented as the source of the core challenges confronting the US administration. Supposedly in response to the first, the Obama administration has continued and escalated wars in Iraq and Afghanistan-Pakistan, while reaffirming Washington’s “right” to carry out unilateral military aggression anywhere on the planet.
In response to the second, the administration continued the massive bailout begun under Bush, committing more than $12 trillion to propping up the US banks and financial institutions, while holding none of those involved responsible for the criminal forms of speculation practiced on Wall Street.
Obama claimed that the so-called Wall Street reform legislation passed by his administration would ensure “that a crisis like this never happens again.” It does nothing of the kind, placing no serious limits on the speculative activities and profitability of the big banks and leaving Wall Street to continue with “business as usual.”
“The global economy has been pulled back from the brink of a depression,” Obama told his UN audience. This statement flies in the face of the grim conditions confronting working people on every continent. This includes the US itself, where the official unemployment rate remains near 10 percent, the unemployed and underemployed account for 17 percent of the workforce, some 30 million people, and one out of every seven Americans is living below the poverty line.
While profits have returned to pre-crisis levels, the reality is that none of the underlying contradictions that have given rise to the deepest world economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s has been resolved. They have only grown in intensity. The response of the ruling classes throughout the world has been to redouble their attacks on the working class in an attempt to force it to pay for this crisis.
Obama followed his assertion about the economy being pulled back from “the brink” with an even more absurd claim that he would not “rest until these seeds of progress grow into a broader prosperity, not only for all Americans, but for peoples around the globe.”
In the US, throughout Europe and in much of the rest of the world, governments are pursuing unprecedented austerity policies that are ripping up basic social rights and dramatically lowering the living standards of working people. Meanwhile, Obama himself spoke before a global poverty summit the day before his speech, warning the world’s poorest that Washington was determined to break their cycle of “dependency.”
The US president’s lies about the economy were followed by the fraudulent claim that the military operations his administration is pursuing abroad are aimed at upholding “our common security.”
Obama said that he is “winding down the war in Iraq” and will pull out all of its occupation troops by the end of next year. At the same time, he declared Washington’s intention to forge “a lasting partnership with the Iraqi people,” by which he means maintaining a US protectorate over the oil-rich country in order to advance the geo-strategic interests of American capitalism.
He said that the drawing down US troops in Iraq had allowed the US military to be “refocused on defeating al Qaeda and denying its affiliates a safe haven” in Afghanistan. This is another lie. US military and intelligence officials acknowledge that there are no more than 100 al Qaeda members in all of Afghanistan. The nearly 100,000 US troops deployed in that country are not combating “terrorism,” but asserting US neo-colonial control in a bid to advance Washington’s quest for hegemony in Central Asia.
In one of the speech’s more chilling passages, Obama bragged that “from South Asia to the Horn of Africa, we are moving toward a more targeted approach” in the war on terror, that did not require “deploying large American armies.” In other words, while constrained in its ability to carry out another major military occupation, US imperialism is pursuing its policies by means of assassinations, drone missile attacks and the deployment of elite killing squads, and has arrogated to itself the right to target and kill its perceived opponents anywhere on the planet.
Obama used the speech to once again threaten Iran. Only days before his appearance at the UN, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a speech urging elements within the Iranian ruling elite to carry out regime change in the country. He reiterated the vow made in his speech last year that Iran “must be held accountable” for its alleged violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
At least a quarter of Obama’s address was dedicated to the US-brokered Israeli-Palestinian “peace talks” that appear to be on the brink of yet another breakdown in the face of Israeli intransigence and provocation.
For all the hackneyed rhetoric about the “Holy Land” and “our common humanity,” the Obama administration is pursuing these negotiations as a means of solidifying support among the Arab regimes for its escalating threats of aggression against Iran and to further its domination of the Middle East.
The content of the speech made clear the US administration’s unwavering complicity in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people. Obama urged that a limited moratorium declared by the Israeli government be extended beyond September 26, when it is set to expire. He said Israel should do this because it “improved the atmosphere for talks,” not because the entire settlement activity in the Israeli-occupied West Bank is a violation of international law and multiple UN resolutions. In the same breath, the US president asserted that “talks should press on until completed,” presumably regardless of what Israel does.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has insisted that his government will not extend the moratorium, while Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had initially insisted that his delegation would be forced to walk out if it does not. An ever-pliant servant of Washington, Abbas has since indicated that he might back down on this threat.
The rest of Obama’s remarks on the Israeli-Palestinian question had an Orwellian flavor, in which Israel was presented as the victim. “The slaughter of innocent Israelis is not resistance—it’s injustice,” Obama declared. He made no mention of the slaughter of 1,400 Palestinians in the US-backed siege of Gaza in 2008-2009 or the criminal attack on the Gaza aid flotilla that killed nine Turkish civilians last May. The day the US president spoke, the UN issued a report charging that Israel’s actions were illegal and employed an “unacceptable level of brutality,” meriting war crimes prosecution.
The US president concluded his speech with an exaltation of “democracy” and “human rights,” which again echoed similar language employed by his predecessor, George W. Bush.
In Bush’s case, this phony democratic rhetoric was employed to justify US imperialism’s drive for dominance in the Middle East, where Washington demonstrated its commitment to “human rights” by carrying out mass killings, the detention of tens of thousands without charges or trial, and the infamous acts of torture at Abu Ghraib, Bagram and Guantánamo.
In Obama’s case, the posturing as the global champion of democratic rights is no less contemptible. The target, however, appears to have shifted.
The Council on Foreign Relations, the establishment thinktank that enjoys close ties to the administration and the State Department, spelled this out. Noting Obama’s “full-throated endorsement of democracy as the best form of government,” it commented: “Yet the appeal of such an idea faces challenges at bodies like the UN. This is not, for example, the future world that Chinese leaders envision.”
Indeed, Obama followed his celebration of democracy by calling attention to his upcoming trip to Asia, ticking off the countries he will visit—India, Indonesia, Korea, Japan—and praising each for having promoted “democratic principles in their own way.” The itinerary includes the four largest countries that US strategists envision as bulwarks against the expansion of Chinese influence.
On the same day that Obama delivered his speech, the New York Times published a front-page article on the increasingly tense US-China relationship that was clearly based on the perspective of the US administration. The Times reported that “rising frictions between China and its neighbors in recent weeks over security issues have handed the United States an opportunity to reassert itself—one the Obama administration has been keen to take advantage of.”
It noted that Washington has inserted itself into territorial disputes between China and Southeast Asian countries, organized provocative joint military exercises with South Korea near Chinese waters and has solidified its alliance with Japan, largely in opposition to China’s influence.
Under conditions of rising conflicts between Washington and Beijing over currency and trade relations, Obama’s praise for “democracy” at the UN represents a thinly veiled threat of new and far more catastrophic eruptions of American militarism.
Bells tolling for humanity: BP oil catastrophe, Times Square bomb plot, and the folly of imperial oil agenda
By Larry Chin
Online Journal Associate Editor
May 17, 2010, 00:22
Faced with the end of the age of oil and systemic collapse, the leaders of the Anglo-American empire have engaged in increasingly violent and transparently futile zero-sum games to salvage what is left of a corrupt governmental and economic milieu.
Empire in crisis
From the BP-Deepwater Horizon catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, crashing stock markets, and the bloody consequences of manufactured wars, it clear that the empire has lost control of its own criminal system.
As Michael C. Ruppert wrote in his 2004 book Crossing the Rubicon:
There are many factors that the rulers of the American empire now have to manage as they read their own delusional map of the world. They have to:
- Apportion dwindling resources among competitors, some of whom possess nuclear weapons;
- Maintain and expand their control over enough of the oil and gas remaining to ensure their global dominance and maintain order among the citizens of the Empire;
- Simultaneously manage a global economic system, made possible by hydrocarbon energy that is collapsing and in which the growing population is demanding more things that can only be supplied by using still more hydrocarbon energy;
- Acknowledge that they cannot save their own economy without selling more of these products;
- Control the exploding demand for oil and gas through engineered recessions and wars that break national economies;
- Hide the evidence that they are systematically looting the wealth of all the people on the planet—even their own people—in order to maintain control;
- Maintain a secret revenue system to provide enough off-the-books capital for military advantage; improving their technological posture, and funding covert operations;
- Repress any dissent and head off any exposure to their actions;
- Convince the population that they are honorable;
- Kill off enough of the population so that they can maintain control after oil supplies have dwindled to the point of energy starvation.”
Never has this agenda, its tragic consequences and ultimate futility, been more obvious than with the unprecedented events of the past weeks.
BP-Deepwater Horizon: an “extinction event”
The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and the resulting oil super spill in the Gulf of Mexico is the worst man-made disaster, and the largest and most heinous act of environmental destruction in history.
This floating super-bomb remains completely out of control, spewing hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil into the Gulf, spreading in directions that cannot be predicted, becoming exponentially worse by the second. It threatens to dwarf the entire Gulf of Mexico, the entire southern and southeastern coast of the United States and Mississippi River, and is poised to spread into all of the world’s oceans. Wildlife, human life, industries, economies and livelihoods, all potentially face permanent damage and destruction. It is even possible that the Gulf will be rendered impossible to navigate.
What is certain is that this catastrophe, made possible by the oil agenda of the Anglo-American empire — will continue to kill for generations, potentially rendering the entire Gulf of Mexico a dead zone.
For weeks, BP, government officials, and the corporate media have been engaged in a massive cover-up, lying about the unspeakable actual scale of the disaster, and lying about its clean-up and containment efforts. According to a spokesperson for Greenpeace, there has never been a successful response to an oil spill, and that what BP is doing at present is nothing but “response theater.” All attempts to contain the geyser — each of them a series of failed experiments and theories — have been futile and ineffective.
BP’s use of toxic chemical dispersants has been, at least in part, an attempt to obscure the visual horror of the spill from news cameras. The highly toxic dispersants themselves have further added to the toxicity of the spill, without actually removing any of the oil.
According to this frightening analysis by an experienced expert, what is visible on the surface, already the size of the state of Maryland may be as little as 20 percent of the actual scale of the spewing manmade volcano of toxic sludge being reported. Gigantic emissions of natural gas threaten to deplete the oxygen of the water in the Gulf.
The unprecedented amount of oil bursting out — perhaps as much as four barrels of oil per second — also raises questions about the actual size of the reservoir itself. Quoting the same analysis: “This is an out of control volcano of oil spewing up with 70,000 psi behind it, from a reservoir nearly the size of the Gulf, with an estimated trillions of barrels of oil and gas tucked away. It is this deposit that has me reminding people of what the Shell geologist told me about the deposit. This was the quote, ‘Energy shortage . . . , Hell! We are afraid of running out of air to burn.’ The deposit is very large. It covers an area off shore something like 25,000 square miles. Natural Gas and Oil is leaking out of the deposit as far inland as Central Alabama and way over into Florida and even over to Louisiana almost as far as Texas. What we are seeing now could be small compared to what may yet unfold if things break apart, as they can do under such circumstances. If this thing blew, it could be like the Yellowstone Caldera, except from below a mile of sea, with a 1/4-mile opening, with up to 150,000 psi of oil and natural gas behind it.
“That would be an extinction event.”
Leaked memos suggests that government officials were aware of a potential for a nightmare scenario. Will it simply be “allowed to happen” as the days, weeks and months pass?
Both the Bush-Cheney and Obama administrations, the Minerals Management Service (MMS) directly involved with allowing BP to operate Deepwater Horizon in reckless fashion, sheltering BP from regulatory requirements. This despite the fact that BP has ahistory of recklessness and disaster known throughout the energy industry.
The case implicates Dick Cheney and the National Energy Policy Development Group (NEPDG), Cheney’s secret “energy task force,” which may have provided BP and other oil giants with the license to “fast track” into production without proper safeguards, and without proper regard to potential catastrophic spills or permanent environmental damage.
What, if any, punishment will BP face for turning the entire Gulf of Mexico into a dead zone; for threatening all of humanity? A series of useless hearings in which corrupt and feckless members of Congress help the directors of BP, Halliburton and Transocean maintain their innocence, conceding “mistakes”? Fines? Promises that “it will never happen again” while an apocalypse is happening?
Transocean has in fact, already profited from the disaster. The corporation was just paid $401 million in insurance, while petitioning to cap its liability for the disaster.
The economic cost alone can potentially bring down a world economy already teetering on the brink of collapse. Oil prices will bedisrupted for decades.
It is bitterly ironic that the Deepwater Horizon, which just weeks ago was viewed as the empire’s last greatest hope, will instead serve as its suicide.
Yet, even as the mega-volcano of toxic sludge relentlessly dwarfs more geography over the coming weeks and months, the empire’s leaders still refuse to stop.
The Obama administration has granted 27 new waivers to big oil companies since the BP explosion, allowing them to engage in yet more drilling and exploration, without proper environmental review — in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Kerry-Lieberman energy bill, pushed through Congress in recent days, establishes yet more offshore drilling around the country, along with “clean coal” (a fraud and myth, perpetrated by the coal industry, that Congress and the Obama administration continue to push).
More “war on terrorism” for more oil
As an unintended oil calamity unfolds in the Gulf of Mexico, the planned oil chaos in the Middle East and Central Asia continues.
It is not clear if the foiled Times Square bombing was an attempted act of “real” terrorism or revenge, a false flag incident, a military-intelligence double or triple cross carried out by competing intelligence agencies, or a complete fabrication.
While the specifics of the case against alleged bomber Faisal Shahzad remain in the hands of deceptive US officials and law enforcement, the foiled plot provides the Obama administration with a twofold propaganda bonanza. The administration now has the pretext with which it can expand the “war on terrorism” into Pakistan, Waziristan and Iran, and further strengthen the foothold on the largest remaining oil and gas supplies of the Middle East and Central Asia. It was also a “wag the dog” diversion from the BP cataclysm in the Gulf of Mexico and crashing world stock markets.
Shazad’s connections to the CIA and MI6 raise immediate suspicions: “A man arrested in Pakistan in connection with the Times Square car bombing attempt who had traveled with accused bomber Faisal Shahzad is a member of a terrorist organization that is controlled by British MI6 and the CIA.
“Jaish-e-Muhammad, the group now emerging in connection with the Times Square incident, was founded by Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, the 9/11 bagman who delivered $100,000 from the United Arab Emirates to Mohammed Atta at the behest of General Mahmud Ahmed, then head of the ISI. Mahmud Ahmed, the man who ordered Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh to bankroll the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, was meeting with Republican Congressman Porter Goss and Democratic Senator Bob Graham in Washington DC on the morning of 9/11. In the days before and after the attack, Ahmed also met with CIA Head George Tenet as well as current Vice-President Joe Biden, then Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“In a report on Jaish-e-Muhammad’s involvement in the murder of Daniel Pearl, who was investigating the ISI, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that the Pakistani government, ‘Believe that Saeed Sheikh’s power comes not from the ISI, but from his connections with our own CIA.’”
Other suspicious factors include the presence of Special Forces immediately on scene, and the “mysterious white men” captured onvideo initially believed to be part of the bomb plot. According to an early CNN report, “a video obtained from a tourist in the area shows a person apparently running north on Broadway, while another video shows a balding man with dark hair removing a shirt and putting it in a bag before walking out of view of the camera, which was inside a restaurant.”
Regardless of how the Times Square bombing case develops, “war on terrorism” is a perpetual covert operation designed to justify perpetual war, and endless new resource conflict.
As noted in Michel Chossudovsky’s America’s “War on Terrorism,” “the significant development of ‘radical Islam’ in the wake of September 11, in the Middle East and Central Asia, is consistent with Washington’s hidden agenda. The latter consists of sustaining rather than combating international terrorism, with a view to destabilizing national societies . . .” Virtually all of the world’s “Islamic terror” fronts — Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, etc.—are manipulations by the CIA and Pakistan’s ISI (a branch of the CIA) and nurtured for years with US government support.
The initial reporting of the Times Square plot in the mainstream corporate media linked Shahzad to Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud, brother of slain former Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud.
Subsequent reporting has been rife with conflicting information, from quotes of Mehsud promising new attacks on the US, denials, counter-denials, speculation, and confusion that becomes even more complicated when one traces recent events involving the Mehsuds and the Taliban going back two years.
Qari Zainuddin, Mehsud’s Taliban rival, was shot dead in late 2009. Zainuddin, who had split from Mehsud’s Taliban faction, was accused of being a top Al-Qaeda asset.
In early 2010, seven CIA agents were killed by militants supposedly avenging Baitullah Mehsud, who was believed by many to be an Al-Qaeda ally and a CIA asset, linked to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.
Other Pakistani men alleged to have direct connections to Shahzad have been arrested in Massachusetts Although it is “unclear whether they were witting accomplices or simply innocent money dealers,” the connection to Pakistan itself may prove enough to serve the purposes of war hawks in Washington.
The FBI has sent agents into Pakistan. The Obama administration and members of Congress, such as Senator Dianne Feinstein, are, in typical post-9/11 fashion, complaining about “intelligence failures” and vowing yet more aggressive domestic security. The “certain” ties to Pakistan, Waziristan, Iran, etc. will be used as fodder towards the next military attack. .
The final hour
The signs are unavoidable and clear: the Anglo-American empire has run out of time, and oil, and humanity itself has paid the steepest cost.
From war and chaos, catastrophic financial meltdowns, or the mega-disaster in the Gulf of Mexico that could ultimately render all else moot, events are well beyond the empire’s ability to control or hide any of it.
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Wikileaks hero, American whistleblower Bradley Manning has been arrested; Pentagon hunting WikiLeak’s Assange
Phillip Shenon, The Daily Beast
The State Department and American embassies around the world are bracing for what officials fear could be the massive, unauthorized release of secret diplomatic cables in which U.S. diplomats harshly evaluate foreign leaders and reveal the inner-workings of American foreign policy.
Diplomatic and law-enforcement officials tell The Daily Beast their alarm stems from the arrest of a 22-year-old Army intelligence analyst based in Iraq who has reportedly admitted that he downloaded 260,000 diplomatic cables from government computer networks and was prepared to make them public.
Specialist Bradley Manning of Potomac, Maryland, who is now under arrest in Kuwait, is also accused of having leaked—to Wikileaks, a secretive Internet site based in Sweden—an explosive video of an American helicopter attack in Baghdad in 2007 that left 12 people dead, including two employees of the news agency Reuters. The website released the video in April.
“If he really had access to these cables, we’ve got a terrible situation on our hands,” said an American diplomat. “We’re still trying to figure out what he had access to. A lot of my colleagues overseas are sweating this out, given what those cables may contain.”
He said Manning apparently had special access to cables prepared by diplomats and State Department officials throughout the Middle East regarding the workings of Arab governments and their leaders.
The cables, which date back over several years, went out over interagency computer networks available to the Army and contained information related to American diplomatic and intelligence efforts in the war zones in Afghanistan and Iraq, the diplomat said.
He added that the State Department and law-enforcement agencies are trying to determine whether, and how, to approach Wikileaks to urge the site not to publish the cables, given the damage they could do to diplomatic efforts involving the United States and its allies.
Wikileaks, a website based in Sweden, that promotes itself as a global champion of whistleblowers, did not reply to emails from The Daily Beast.
In a comment on the social networking website Twitter, Wikileaks said that allegations that “we have been sent 260,000 classified U.S. embassy cables are, as far as we can tell, incorrect.” Wikileaks said it did not know the identity of the source who provided it with the 2007 video from Iraq. If Manning did leak the video, the site said, he is “a national hero.”
The State Department’s chief spokesman, Philip J. Crowley, said Monday that the department was involved in the Pentagon-led investigation to try to track down any cables that Manning may have stolen from interagency computer networks.
“These are classified documents,” he said. “We take their release seriously.” He said the public release of diplomatic cables could do damage to national security since they could reveal the “source and methods” used by the United States to gather intelligence overseas.
As feds hunt for Wikileaks’ Julian Assange in hopes of preventing him from publishing diplomatic secrets, Samuel P. Jacobs talks with Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg about why he should stay out of America—and why some things should be kept secret.
Government officials tell The Daily Beast that they are searching for Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, whom they believe is in possession of State Department secrets leaked to him by an Army intelligence specialist now under arrest. As Assange, the Australian champion of whistleblowers cancelled a public appearance in Las Vegas Friday night, The Daily Beast talked with Daniel Ellsberg, the legendary leaker of the Pentagon Papers about Assange’s safety and what he would do if he were in possession of the State Department’s confidential traffic. Since standing trial for providing state secrets to newspapers—he was acquitted in 1973—Ellsberg has become an author and activist.
The Daily Beast: Could the release of the diplomatic cables said to be in the possession of Wikileaks endanger national security?
Daniel Ellsberg: Any serious risk to that national security is extremely low. There may be 260,000 diplomatic cables. It’s very hard to think of any of that which could be plausibly described as a national security risk. Will it embarrass diplomatic relationships? Sure, very likely—all to the good of our democratic functioning. The embarrassment would be our awareness that we are supporting and facilitating dictators and corrupt and murderous governments, and we are quite aware of their nature.
leak from Ambassador Eikenberry. He describes him as irredeemably corrupt, not an appropriate partner for a pacification program, and cannot change.An example would be surrounding a visit of Hamid Karzai to this country…where he is given a special audience with the president. We know that privately he is seen realistically. We know that because of the leak, which I think started out of this investigation. We know that because of the
They would regard this as very embarrassing, [since publicly they’ve been] saying, he is a perfectly suitable partner for pacification, working on corruption…Ha ha….Bullshit.
Do you think Assange is in danger?
I happen to have been the target of a White House hit squad myself. On May 3, 1972, a dozen CIA assets from the Bay of Pigs, Cuban émigrés were brought up from Miami with orders to “incapacitate me totally.” I said to the prosecutor, “What does that mean? Kill me.” He said, “It means to incapacitate you totally. But you have to understand these guys never use the word ‘kill.’”
Is the Obama White House anymore enlightened than Nixon’s?
We’ve now been told by Dennis Blair, the late head of intelligence here, that President Obama has authorized the killing of American citizens overseas, who are suspected of involvement in terrorism. Assange is not American, so he doesn’t even have that constraint. I would think that he is in some danger. Granted, I would think that his notoriety now would provide him some degree of protection. You would think that would protect him, but you could have said the same thing about me. I was the number one defendant. I was on trail but they brought up people to beat me up.
You believe he is in danger of bodily harm, then?
Absolutely. On the same basis, I was….Obama is now proclaiming rights of life and death, being judge, jury, and executioner of Americans without due process. No president has ever claimed that and possibly no one since John the First.
What advice would you give Assange?
Stay out of the U.S. Otherwise, keep doing what he is doing. It’s pretty valuable…He is serving our democracy and serving our rule of law precisely by challenging the secrecy regulations, which are not laws in most cases, in this country.
He is doing very good work for our democracy. If [the alleged leaker, Bradley Manning] has done what he is alleged to have done, I congratulate him. He has used his opportunities very well. He has upheld his oath of office to support the Constitution. It so happens that enlisted men also take an oath to obey the orders of superiors. Officers don’t make that oath, only to the Constitution. But sometimes the oath to the Constitution and oath to superiors are in conflict.
|The Accomodationists: Memo to Liberals on the White House Death Warrants|
|WRITTEN BY CHRIS FLOYD|
|THURSDAY, 08 APRIL 2010 16:12|
Let us hear no more excuses for Barack Obama. Let us hear no more defenses, no more special pleading, no more extenuations. Let us have no more reciting of the “pressures” he is under, of the “many obstacles” that balk him in his quest to do us good, of the “bad advisors” who are swaying him to unworthy acts against his will. Let us be done at last with all these wretched lies, these complicitous self-deceptions that are facilitating atrocity and tyranny on a monstrous scale.
Barack Obama has ordered the murder of an American citizen, without trial, without due process, without the production of any evidence. All it takes to kill any American citizen in this way is Barack Obama’s signature on a piece of paper, his arbitrary designation of the target as a “suspected terrorist.” In precisely the same way — precisely the same way — Josef Stalin would place a mark by a name in a list of “suspected terrorists” or “counterrevolutionaries,” and the bearer of that name would die. This is the system we have now, the same as the Soviets had then: a leader with the unchallengeable power to kill citizens without due process.
That this power has not been used on the same scale in the American system as in the Stalinist state — yet — does not alter the equivalence of this governing principle. In both cases, the leader signs arbitrary death warrants; the security services carry out the task; and the ‘great and good’ of society accept this draconian power as necessary and right.
This is what you support when you support Barack Obama. It does not matter if you think his opponents in the factional infighting to control a bloodsoaked empire and its war machine are “worse” than he is in some measure. When you support him, when you defend him, when you excuse him, it is arbitrary murder that you are supporting. It is the absolute negation of every single principle of enlightenment and human rights professed by liberals, progressives — indeed, by honorable people of every political stripe — for centuries.
There is nothing particularly remarkable about Obama’s order to kill an American citizen without trial or evidence, of course. George W. Bush claimed the same powers. As I have noted here and elsewhere for many years, our American presidents now claim the right to kill any person on earth whom they arbitrarily designate as an enemy — or even a suspected enemy — of the United States. Barack Obama embraced this power as soon as he took office, ordering a “surge” in the “targeted killings” on “suspected terrorists” in Pakistan. Hundreds and hundreds of innocent human beings have been murdered in these drone attacks; many thousands more have been driven from their homes, and terrorized into lives of mental anguish, their psyches lamed by trauma, upheaval and the ever-present dread of death raining down on them from the skies.
And of course, thousands of innocent people continue to die in the wars of dominion and profiteering that Obama has so eagerly embraced. In Afghanistan, they die directly at the hands of American forces — including secret assassins who raid villages by night, often slaughtering civilians, even those cooperating with the military occupation. As Obama’s hand-picked commander in the region, Stanley McChrystal, has openly admitted: “We have shot an amazing number of people [at checkpoints and on the roads], but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat.” And in Iraq — the scene of the abominable, Nazi-like war crime of military aggression whose continuation by Bush’s “surge” was hailed by Obama as “an extraordinary achievement” — innocent people continue to die in droves at the hands of the vicious and violent forces unleashed and empowered by the American invasion and occupation, while they wait to see which brutal “hard man” will seize power over their riven and ruined society.
No, the only remarkable thing about Obama’s direct order to murder his fellow American citizen, Anwar al-Alwaki, is its openness. A few weeks ago, he sent his intelligence chieftain, Dennis Blair, to Congress to openly proclaim the president’s “right” to kill American citizens arbitrarily. Bush had kept this claimed power obscured, letting it out in dribs and drabs of directed leaks, and hints and winks in public statements; but Obama has taken us beyond that, to the open declaration and institutional entrenchment of the principle of death without due process for citizens. This indeed is “change” — with a vengeance.
(And to think that only a few years ago, capital punishment — with its vast and cumbersome legal machinery — was banished in America as too unjust and arbitrary in its application; now a president need not trouble himself with the slightest bit of legal process if he wants to have someone killed. I suppose this too is “progress”: more streamlined, more efficient, quicker, more modern — like wireless broadband. It’s simply there all the time at the president’s pleasure.)
Now, there can be no shuffling, no waffling on the matter. Obama has made it crystal clear for even the most avidly self-duping progressive: He will murder his fellow citizens without trial or evidence if he sees fit. The state can murder whom it pleases. This is the system we have. This is what you support when you support Barack Obama. You cannot escape this logic, this judgment. If you support Obama now, in this, then there is no crime he can commit that you will not support.
And thus you become one of those people that we all used to puzzle over, the accomodationists to brutal tyranny: “How did all those people go along with the Nazis? Why wasn’t there more opposition to Stalin? How could they countenance all those obvious abominations? What kind of people were they?”
Now you know. They were you. You are them.
NOTE 2: While I was writing this piece, I got the welcome news that Arthur Silber was back, after a long hiatus due to his chronic ill health. And, as usual, his insights cut straight to the heart of the matter. As I noted here the other day, Silber was one of the very few writers who saw through the shining cloud that surrounded the Obama campaign to the corroded core within. He also noted the greatest danger of an Obama presidency: that it would confirm, entrench, expand — and normalize — the worst aspects of the American imperium, precisely because the system’s crimes and atrocities would now be presented in a more pleasing package, with all “progressive” opposition to them completely disarmed by partisan adherence to their standard-bearer.
Ironically, one of Silber’s most incisive pieces on this subject was provoked by what many people — and almost all “progressives” — still consider Obama’s finest moment during the campaign: his speech calling for a “national dialogue on race” — part of a particularly brutal effort to knife his long-time friend, mentor and pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, deeply and repeatedly in the back.
Go read the new piece now, and follow the links, which provide chilling chapter and verse to underscore the insights. But here is brief excerpt, one of the conclusions that Silber draws today from that early speech:
UPDATE: David Swanson at Counterpunch nails the situation well: “Murder is the new torture,” indeed. As Swanson notes, now that torture — always with us, but previously shrouded — has been mainstreamed, acceptance of outright murder is the logical next step. And as Swanson observes, it is actually a much more efficient tool of imperial policy:
Posted By Mark Perry Saturday, March 13, 2010 – 11:05 PM
On Jan. 16, two days after a killer earthquake hit Haiti, a team of senior military officers from the U.S. Central Command (responsible for overseeing American security interests in the Middle East), arrived at the Pentagon to brief Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The team had been dispatched by CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus to underline his growing worries at the lack of progress in resolving the issue. The 33-slide, 45-minute PowerPoint briefing stunned Mullen. and that Mitchell himself was (as a senior Pentagon officer later bluntly described it) “too old, too slow … and too late.”
The January Mullen briefing was unprecedented. No previous CENTCOM commander had ever expressed himself on what is essentially a political issue; which is why the briefers were careful to tell Mullen that their conclusions followed from a December 2009 tour of the region where, on Petraeus’s instructions, they spoke to senior Arab leaders. “Everywhere they went, the message was pretty humbling,” a Pentagon officer familiar with the briefing says. “America was not only viewed as weak, but its military posture in the region was eroding.” But Petraeus wasn’t finished: two days after the Mullen briefing, Petraeus sent a paper to the White House requesting that the West Bank and Gaza (which, with Israel, is a part of the European Command — or EUCOM), be made a part of his area of operations. Petraeus’s reason was straightforward: with U.S. troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military had to be perceived by Arab leaders as engaged in the region’s most troublesome conflict.
[UPDATE: A senior military officer denied Sunday that Petraeus sent a paper to the White House.
“CENTCOM did have a team brief the CJCS on concerns revolving around the Palestinian issue, and CENTCOM did propose a UCP change, but to CJCS, not to the WH,” the officer said via email. “GEN Petraeus was not certain what might have been conveyed to the WH (if anything) from that brief to CJCS.”
(UCP means “unified combatant command,” like CENTCOM; CJCS refers to Mullen; and WH is the White House.)]
The Mullen briefing and Petraeus’s request hit the White House like a bombshell. While Petraeus’s request that CENTCOM be expanded to include the Palestinians was denied (“it was dead on arrival,” a Pentagon officer confirms), the Obama administration decided it would redouble its efforts — pressing Israel once again on the settlements issue, sending Mitchell on a visit to a number of Arab capitals and dispatching Mullen for a carefully arranged meeting with the chief of the Israeli General Staff, Lt. General Gabi Ashkenazi. While the American press speculated that Mullen’s trip focused on Iran, the JCS Chairman actually carried a blunt, and tough, message on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: that Israel had to see its conflict with the Palestinians “in a larger, regional, context” — as having a direct impact on America’s status in the region. Certainly, it was thought, Israel would get the message.
Israel didn’t. When Vice President Joe Biden was embarrassed by an Israeli announcement that the Netanyahu government was building 1,600 new homes in East Jerusalem, the administration reacted. But no one was more outraged than Biden who, according to the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, engaged in a private, and angry, exchange with the Israeli Prime Minister. Not surprisingly, what Biden told Netanyahu reflected the importance the administration attached to Petraeus’s Mullen briefing: “This is starting to get dangerous for us,” Biden reportedly told Netanyahu. “What you’re doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That endangers us and it endangers regional peace.” Yedioth Ahronoth went on to report: “The vice president told his Israeli hosts that since many people in the Muslim world perceived a connection between Israel’s actions and US policy, any decision about construction that undermines Palestinian rights in East Jerusalem could have an impact on the personal safety of American troops fighting against Islamic terrorism.” The message couldn’t be plainer: Israel’s intransigence could cost American lives.
There are important and powerful lobbies in America: the NRA, the American Medical Association, the lawyers — and the Israeli lobby. But no lobby is as important, or as powerful, as the U.S. military. While commentators and pundits might reflect that Joe Biden’s trip to Israel has forever shifted America’s relationship with its erstwhile ally in the region, the real break came in January, when David Petraeus sent a briefing team to the Pentagon with a stark warning: America’s relationship with Israel is important, but not as important as the lives of America’s soldiers. Maybe Israel gets the message now.
Mark Perry’s newest book is Talking To Terrorists
[UPDATE 2–from Mark Perry: A senior military officer told Foreign Policy by email that one minor detail in my report, “The Petraeus Briefing” was incorrect: a request from General Petraeus for the Palestinian occupied territories (but, as I made clear, not Israel itself), be brought within CENTCOM’s region of operation was sent to JCS Chairman Mullen – and notdirectly to the White House. My information was based on conversations with CENTCOM officials, who believed they were giving me correct information. It is significant that the correction was made, not because it is an important detail, but because it is was inconsequential to the overall narrative. In effect, the U.S. military has clearly said there was nothing in this report that could be denied.]
News Item! May 9, 2010. Obama decides to EXPAND drone attacks. Whatta guy! What a murderer!
Watch the Slide Show… then click on the photo links below it.
The starving, mutilated orphans of Afghanistan salute you! You are a real hero! So do patriotic Americans!
Americans should bear in mind: this is where our tax dollars are going — not to schools, roads, bridges, health care, jobs programs or housing in the US, but to create weapons of mass destruction to be deployed anywhere in the world that needs a new dictator, new weapons and new death squads. The rest of our public monies are going to massacre poor people in Afghanistan, to burn and mutilate them, and destroy their homes and villages. And just in case we don’t like it, the shock doctrine and its military backup is coming directly into our own communities.
Of course, most of the US Treasury’s funds were plundered and given to the top BANKS, the same BANKS that are robbing us with interest rates, fees and collections, and taking our homes and farms away. Who gets our tax dollars? The top 1/2 of 1% of the population. Screw everyone else….US citizens have no more rights… And they call this democracy. That’s a sick joke.
Pretty damn heroic, Obama!
Watch the Slide Show… and click on the photo links below it.
Then, if you can, donate to RAWA.