Categorized | Middle East

A.LOEWENSTEIN ONLINE NEWSLETTER

NOVANEWS

 

US: $10k for killed Iraqi civilians

Posted: 04 Jan 2011 04:56 AM PST

Victor’s justice and an insight into the occupier’s attitude towards “inconveniences” (aka murdered Iraqi civilians courtesy of Blackwater):

Just how much is an Iraqi life worth? I don’t know but, in the aftermath of the killing of 17 Iraqi civilians by Blackwater employees at Nisoor Square in September 2007, apparently Iraq and the United States, had very different ideas, according to one of the recently released Wikileaks cables. (Note: One can find all the Wikileaks cable concerning Blackwater here.

The cable shows, not surprisingly, that the Iraqi and U.S. governments were magnitudes of order apart on what an Iraqi life was worth.

According to the cable the U.S. Embassy in Iraq obtained a copy of the Government of Iraq’s investigation report of the September 16 incident at Nisoor Square. The report recommended payments of $8 million and $4 million for each death and injury respectively, and called for the USG to replace Blackwater within six months of the incident.

At that time the Embassy had begun accepting claims from victims of the incident and approved payments of $10,000 for each death, $5,000 for each injury, (800 times less than the Iraqi figure for both death and injury) and $2,500 for property damage.

The cable said the Iraqi government report stated “the conduct of the PSD violated Iraqi law and a number of CPA [Coalition Provisional Authority] orders and that therefore the incident is a pre-meditated murder for which the Blackwater personnel must be held accountable. It also claims that the Ministry of Interior has information on seven other instances in which Blackwater personnel killed 10 Iraqis and wounded 15 others.”

Perhaps the most interesting part of the cable is at the end:

 

Numerous editorial cartoons have been published depicting Blackwater as bloodthirsty mercenaries. While the escalation of the Turkish border issue has been dominating the media, the Blackwater incident will likely remain a prominent issue for editorials and political cartoons as the unpopularity of private security firms makes it an easy target.

 

This seems to indicate that the embassy regarded criticism of private security contractors as just an image problem, and not a serious oversight and accountability concern.

 

Earth to DC; world doesn’t want your piece of web imperialism

Posted: 04 Jan 2011 03:33 AM PST

In my book The Blogging Revolution I explain with examples how the internet isn’t simply a tool that brings democracy and freedom in the Western style.

Shock, horror, the US government isn’t listening to advice that aims to show how America remains viewed as a coloniser across the world (that’s a bad thing, by the way). Here’s Evgeny Morozov:

…The [Obama administration’s] Internet Freedom Agenda’s woes extend far beyond a few botched projects. The State Department’s online democratizing efforts have fallen prey to the same problems that plagued Bush’s Freedom Agenda. By aligning themselves with Internet companies and organizations, Clinton’s digital diplomats have convinced their enemies abroad that Internet freedom is another Trojan horse for American imperialism.

 

Chomsky on the need for effective BDS

Posted: 04 Jan 2011 03:24 AM PST

Noam Chomsky wonders when the US will ditch its Zionist ally. Only when US businesses think a true anti-apartheid struggle catches on.

It’s coming:

While intensively engaged in illegal settlement expansion, the government of Israel is also seeking to deal with two problems: a global campaign of what it perceives as “delegitimation” – that is, objections to its crimes and withdrawal of participation in them – and a parallel campaign of legitimation of Palestine.

The “delegitimation,” which is progressing rapidly, was carried forward in December by a Human Rights Watch call on the U.S. “to suspend financing to Israel in an amount equivalent to the costs of Israel’s spending in support of settlements,” and to monitor contributions to Israel from tax-exempt U.S. organizations that violate international law, “including prohibitions against discrimination” – which would cast a wide net. Amnesty International had already called for an arms embargo on Israel. The legitimation process also took a long step forward in December, when Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil recognized the State of Palestine (Gaza and the West Bank), bringing the number of supporting nations to more than 100.

International lawyer John Whitbeck estimates that 80-90 percent of the world’s population live in states that recognize Palestine, while 10-20 percent recognize the Republic of Kosovo. The U.S. recognizes Kosovo but not Palestine. Accordingly, as Whitbeck writes in Counterpunch, media “act as though Kosovo’s independence were an accomplished fact while Palestine’s independence is only an aspiration which can never be realized without Israeli-American consent,” reflecting the normal workings of power in the international arena.

Given the scale of Israeli settlement of the West Bank, it has been argued for more a decade that the international consensus on a two-state settlement is dead, or mistaken (though evidently most of the world does not agree). Therefore those concerned with Palestinian rights should call for Israeli takeover of the entire West Bank, followed by an anti-apartheid struggle of the South African variety that would lead to full citizenship for the Arab population there.

The argument assumes that Israel would agree to the takeover. It is far more likely that Israel will instead continue the programs leading to annexation of the parts of the West Bank that it is developing, roughly half the area, and take no responsibility for the rest, thus defending itself from the “demographic problem” – too many non-Jews in a Jewish state – and meanwhile severing besieged Gaza from the rest of Palestine.

When President Reagan took office in 1981, he lent full support to South Africa’s domestic crimes and its murderous depredations in neighboring countries. The policies were justified in the framework of the war on terror that Reagan had declared on coming into office. In 1988, Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress was designated one of the world’s “more notorious terrorist groups” (Mandela himself was only removed from Washington’s “terrorist list” in 2008). South Africa was defiant, and even triumphant, with its internal enemies crushed, and enjoying solid support from the one state that mattered in the global system.

Shortly after, U.S. policy shifted. U.S. and South African business interests very likely realized they would be better off by ending the apartheid burden. And apartheid soon collapsed. South Africa is not the only recent case where ending U.S. support for crimes has led to significant progress. Can such a transformative shift happen in Israel’s case, clearing the way to a diplomatic settlement? Among the barriers firmly in place are the very close military and intelligence ties between the U.S. and Israel.

 

Fight GM crops and face US payback

Posted: 04 Jan 2011 01:35 AM PST

There is a price to be paid for challenging the US. Moreover, working for American multinationals making mutant products is seemingly in the job description at the State Department:

The US embassy in Paris advised Washington to start a military-style trade war against any European Union country which opposed genetically modified (GM) crops, newly released WikiLeaks cables show.

In response to moves by France to ban a Monsanto GM corn variety in late 2007, the ambassador, Craig Stapleton, a friend and business partner of former US president George Bush, asked Washington to penalise the EU and particularly countries which did not support the use of GM crops.

“Country team Paris recommends that we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU since this is a collective responsibility, but that also focuses in part on the worst culprits.

“The list should be measured rather than vicious and must be sustainable over the long term, since we should not expect an early victory. Moving to retaliation will make clear that the current path has real costs to EU interests and could help strengthen European pro-biotech voices,” said Stapleton, who with Bush co-owned the St Louis-based Texas Rangers baseball team in the 1990s.

In other newly released cables, US diplomats around the world are found to have pushed GM crops as a strategic government and commercial imperative.

Because many Catholic bishops in developing countries have been vehemently opposed to the controversial crops, the US applied particular pressure to the pope’s advisers.

Cables from the US embassy in the Vatican show that the US believes the pope is broadly supportive of the crops after sustained lobbying of senior Holy See advisers, but regrets that he has not yet stated his support. The US state department special adviser on biotechnology as well as government biotech advisers based in Kenya lobbied Vatican insiders to persuade the pope to declare his backing. “… met with [US monsignor] Fr Michael Osborn of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, offering a chance to push the Vatican on biotech issues, and an opportunity for post to analyse the current state of play on biotech in the Vatican generally,” says one cable in 2008.

“Opportunities exist to press the issue with the Vatican, and in turn to influence a wide segment of the population in Europe and the developing world,” says another.

But in a setback, the US embassy found that its closest ally on GM, Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the powerful Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the man who mostly represents the pope at the United Nations, had withdrawn his support for the US.

“A Martino deputy told us recently that the cardinal had co-operated with embassy Vatican on biotech over the past two years in part to compensate for his vocal disapproval of the Iraq war and its aftermath – to keep relations with the USG [US government] smooth. According to our source, Martino no longer feels the need to take this approach,” says the cable.

In addition, the cables show US diplomats working directly for GM companies such as Monsanto. “In response to recent urgent requests by [Spanish rural affairs ministry] state secretary Josep Puxeu and Monsanto, post requests renewed US government support of Spain‘s science-based agricultural biotechnology position through high-level US government intervention.”

It also emerges that Spain and the US have worked closely together to persuade the EU not to strengthen biotechnology laws. In one cable, the embassy in Madrid writes: “If Spain falls, the rest of Europe will follow.”

The cables show that not only did the Spanish government ask the US to keep pressure on Brussels but that the US knew in advance how Spain would vote, even before the Spanish biotech commission had reported.

 
Not trusting Sweden

Posted: 03 Jan 2011 10:50 PM PST

No wonder Wikileaks doesn’t trust Sweden:

The secret cables, seen by The Daily Telegraph, disclose how Swedish officials wanted discussions about anti-terrorism operations kept from public scrutiny.

They describe how officials from the Swedish Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Foreign Affairs had a “strong degree of satisfaction with current informal information sharing arrangements” with the American government.

Making the arrangement formal would result in the need for it to be disclosed to Parliament, they said.

They disclose officials’ fear that intense Swedish Parliamentary scrutiny could place “a wide range of law enforcement and anti-terrorism” operations in jeopardy.

Under the heading “teams visits to discuss terrorist screening information exchange with Sweden”, they show Dr Anna-Karin Svensson, Director of the Division for Police Issues, saying the Swedish government would strike controversy if its intelligence methods were disclosed.
The cable claimed that the “current Swedish political climate makes any formal terrorist screening information agreement highly difficult”. Swedish citizens are said to place high value on the country’s neutrality.

“The MOJ team expressed their appreciation for the flexibility of the U.S. side in regards to memorialising any agreement,” said the cable.

“They expressed a strong degree of satisfaction with current informal information sharing arrangements with the U.S., and wondered whether the putative advantages of an HSPD-6 agreement for Sweden would be offset by the risk that these existing informal channels, which cover a wide range of law enforcement and anti-terrorism co-operation, would be scrutinised more intensely by Parliament and perhaps jeopardised.

“Dr. Svensson reiterated MFA concerns about the current political atmosphere in Sweden.”

It continued: “She believed that, given Swedish constitutional requirements to present matters of national concern to Parliament and in light of the ongoing controversy over Sweden’s recently passed surveillance law, it would be politically impossible for the Minister of Justice to avoid presenting any formal data sharing agreement with the United States to Parliament for review.

“In her opinion, the effect of this public spotlight could also place other existing informal information sharing arrangements at jeopardy.”

The publication of the new cables, sent to Washington from the American embassy in Stockholm in 2008, came after Julian Assange, the Wikileaks founder, was granted bail on Tuesday over sexual assault claims in Sweden.

 

The Tzvangirai, Mugabe, MSM and Wikileaks dance

Posted: 03 Jan 2011 09:49 PM PST

The deluge of Wikileaks cables bring moral considerations. What is released? Is anybody at risk? Who takes responsibility?

This discussion at WLCentral examines the issues in Zimbabwe and Morgan Tzvangirai’s meetings with US embassy officials. He is potentially facing treason charges. Where does Wikileaks fit into all this?

If this is actually the method by which the cables are published, then it will be important to find which media partner first published 09HARARE1004. A glance at the datestamp for 09HARARE1004 reveals it was published on the 8th of December, 2010. The only publication making reference to 09HARARE1004 as early as this, is a publication of the full cable in The Guardian. The Guardian’s title for the cable is “US embassy cables: Tsvangirai tells US Mugabe is increasingly ‘old, tired and poorly briefed’“. It identifies gossip about Mugabe at the salient content of the cable, and entirely fails to identify the importance of the material on international sanctions against Zimbabwe, which is the material which allegedly incriminates Tsvangirai.

7. (C) On the subject of Mugabe himself, Tsvangirai said that in his recent meetings, though Mugabe seems mentally acute, he appears old and very tired. He comes to many meetings unbriefed and unaware of the content. It appears that he is being managed by hardliners. Tsvangirai said his goal now is to find a way to ‘manage’ Mugabe himself. One way, perhaps, would be to give him something to give his hardliners. Precisely what that something is, he said, is something he is still wrestling with.

If the procedure for publication outline above is accurate, and the dates seem to suggest it is, the cable was published in full on the Guardian website before it was ever published by Wikileaks. It was released as part of a group of cables in support ofan article in the Guardian by Xan Rice, which treats the Harare cables merely as a quote mine for salacious opinions voiced in diplomatic confidence about Mugabe. The article is called “WikiLeaks cables reveal differing views of ‘crazy’, ‘charming’ Robert Mugabe“. This batch of cables, and the Guardian’s choice of emphasis in their release, actually helped contribute to the pernicious article of common wisdom that “the cables disclose only gossip about world leaders.”

  

 

Wikileaks is dead?

Posted: 03 Jan 2011 09:29 PM PST

A Wikileaks backlash was almost inevitable, even from those who generally share the belief of a transparent world.

Cryptome unloads and makes some valid points (but seemingly ignores the speed with which Wikileaks has become a cultural phenomenon; this requires constant tending on multiple fronts):

The original Wikileaks initiative is dead, replaced by a bloated apparatus promising 260,000 cables at slower than a snail’s pace. At the rate of 20 cables a day it will take 13,000 days to finish — some 35 years.

The original merits of Wikileaks have been lost in its transformation into a publicity and fund-raising vehicle for Julian Assange as indicated in the redesign website which billboards him.

Its once invaluable, steady stream of documents, packaged in its own, no-frills format, is now a tiny dribble of documents apparently regulated by a compact with a few main stream media which amplify the material well beyond its significance. Days go by when nothing new is offered except outpouring of manufactured news about Assange and a slew of trivial news and bombastic commentaries for and against the initiative.

Will Wikileaks once again deliver its original promise or stay imprisoned in bombshells so beloved by the main stream media?

What happened to the back-log of submissions to Wikileaks? Thousands a week coming in, Assange claimed, for which he said there is no staff to process. What staff is needed to process a 3-20 cables a day?

OpenLeaks is said to be preparing release of the backlog, but it too is moving very slowly, its opening first scheduled in December 2010, now April 2011. Perhaps it too is short of staff and financial resources but it has not publicly stated that.

A lasting benefit of the death of Wikileaks is that other initiatives have learned from its experience to do better and not settle for the comfortable entombment of Wikileaks disembodied by Julian Assange on a country estate perfect for mourning in luxurious high style.

 

 

Global silence over 7000 Palestinian prisoners

Posted: 03 Jan 2011 09:19 PM PST

More here.

 

 

Who will teach Israeli Jewish kids that the world hates them?

Posted: 03 Jan 2011 09:10 PM PST

This is a witty skit from the Israeli comedy show “Eretz Nehederet” (“Wonderful Country”) on Channel 2. It depicts a joint education program devised by the right-wing (yet mainstream) organization Im Tirtzu with the Ministry of Education that helps kindergarten children be prepared for the “complicated” life in Israel:

 

 

Some positive feelings for the New Year

Posted: 03 Jan 2011 08:07 PM PST

Comments are closed.

Shoah’s pages

www.shoah.org.uk

KEEP SHOAH UP AND RUNNING

January 2011
M T W T F S S
« Dec   Feb »
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31