Archive | February 27th, 2011

Coming Home: The Scars of War


Andy Sawyer On the end table in Leslie Stump-Milam’s home sit a photo of her son, Dustin Stump, a Bible and a letter he sent to her from Yakima County Jail, where he is awaiting trial for armed robbery. While in Iraq, Stump suffered traumatic bring injury, PTSD, and was hit by the impact of IED’s several times.

From War Hero to Jail Inmate

by Phil Ferolito

YAKIMA, Wash. — From behind a visitor’s window in the Yakima County jail, decorated Iraq War veteran Dustin Stump vividly recalls the firefights, explosions and killings in and around Baghdad.

He proudly remembers the time he provided cover fire for his fellow soldiers, an act of bravery that earned him the Army Commendation Medal.

“Everyone said, ‘Stump, you were out in the middle of that field and rounds were going off all around you,’” the 24-year-old recalls with a subtle laugh. “They said, ‘Man, you crazy.’”

But since those glory days, life has taken a sharp turn for the slim war hero from Satus. He’s been in jail since September on charges of armed robbery, leaving his mom, Leslie Stump-Milam, devastated.

“It’s very gut-wrenching,” Stump-Milam says tearfully. “A mom never wants to see her son do this, especially after he’s gotten back from where he came from.”

A good country boy who always made his mom proud, Stump went off to war with his head held high, only to return with the kind of physical and mental scars that would test the bravest of soldiers.

He’s been diagnosed with traumatic brain injury from an explosion that knocked him unconscious for four hours. One of his ankles was shattered after he stepped on an improvised explosive device. And he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, an anxiety illness with symptoms as varied as flashbacks, insomnia, agitation and unexplained anger.

He receives no help from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and he’s not getting any disability from the military.

On top of all this, Stump finds himself deep in the criminal justice system.

While most of the 2.1 million service members who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan readjust to life at home with a minimum of stress, many do not. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, one in five service members returning from the wars report symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression. That amounts to 420,000 service members deployed in both wars since 2001.

Statistics on the number of injured vets who turn to crime are nearly impossible to come by, and those that are reported are disputed.

But experts say vets who end up committing crimes have fallen into a black hole between the time they are discharged and when they break the law. And it’s in that critical time that many don’t seek help and end up in jail, homeless or suicidal.

It’s a gap that U.S. Sen. Patty Murray hopes to close. As the new chairwoman of the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, she said in a recent telephone interview that she will seek legislation requiring all branches to link a service member with a military officer who would be their advocate at the VA before discharge.

Because once they’re out, Murray says, it’s nearly impossible for the VA to locate them.

“When you go into the service, the service worries about what you can do for them, not what they can do for you when you get out,” the Washington Democrat says. “We need to change that culture.”

Dave Brown, who heads the Yakima County Veterans Program, says he sees about 15 veterans a month jailed in the Yakima Valley, mostly for drunken driving and other charges related to substance abuse.

“They don’t seek help a lot of times until the crisis point,” Brown says. “A lot of times they don’t even know they need help. A lot of them come out (of combat) and look normal.”

From FFA to armed robbery

Growing up, Stump stayed out of trouble, played sports and presided over his high school’s FFA club, his mother says.

“How does the president of the FFA go from being such a good kid doing the things he did to an armed robber?” Stump-Milam asks. “He was a good kid. He was a hard worker. He had good morals and ethics.”

Court records show her son had no prior criminal history.

Combat has changed him, she admits.

Following in his grandfather’s footsteps, Stump enlisted in the Army three months after graduating from Mabton High School in 2005. About a year later, he was deployed to Iraq.

He came home four years later, angry, short-tempered and easily irritated, she says.

“He was secretive — he didn’t trust anybody,” she says. “We didn’t laugh about things anymore. Everything was a serious matter with him down to the minute things.”

Stump agrees that his troubles began after he returned from Iraq.

He had his pay taken away for more than a month and performed extra duty after the military prosecuted him for two drunken driving charges while stationed at Fort Richardson in Alaska.

Things got worse at Fort Richardson. The ankle shattered by a bomb rendered him unable to serve, and he was medically discharged last April.

“I wanted the military to be the career of my life — get out in 20 years, you know,” he says. “But I got into all the trouble I did. I had mood swings really bad. I’d get really angry, then depressed and then at times I just wanted to kill myself.”

He says painkillers, whisky and beer became the answer to the night terrors, episodes of anger, depression and pain in his back and ankle.

“I was snorting any kind of pills you can find,” he says. “I was trying to get out of reality. I was having so many dreams I couldn’t sleep.”

His family also felt his pain.

Friendly wrestling matches and basketball games with his little brothers, Josh, 11, and Quinn, 6, would sometimes turn rough.

“Thank God nobody got hurt,” says his mother.

And it was tricky trying to wake him. She tried once, and startled him: “I ended up in a headlock on the ground.”

Stump suffers frequent headaches, episodes of blurred vision, memory loss and often loses feeling in his hand and the leg he had ankle surgery on. He can’t be around loud, ongoing noises.

“He’d always say, ‘I got to get out of here, Mom, I’ve got to get out of here.’ And if he didn’t, he’d blow,” Stump-Milam says. “He was aggravated, he was paranoid, he just wasn’t Dustin.”

Out of painkillers on Sept. 23, 2010, Stump grew desperate. Armed with a large knife and his face hidden behind a black hooded sweatshirt and mask, he walked into a Mabton convenience store and ordered the clerk to open the cash register. He took an undisclosed amount of money and left with an accomplice in a blue Subaru.

Later that day, he confessed to the crime after being stopped by police. Now he’s awaiting trial, set for early May.

“I needed money so I could get drugs,” he says. “The way I was selling it, I could keep using it.”

War scars

Many Iraq and Afghanistan veterans come home without knowing they are suffering from traumatic brain injury caused by explosions. Although new lightweight armor offers better protection, the shock can still violently jar the brain.

A wide range of physical, mental and behavioral problems are associated with traumatic brain injury, including blurred vision, memory loss, violent mood swings, irritability and even paralysis.

Of the roughly 2,400 known Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in Northern Idaho, Eastern Oregon and most of Central Washington, about 100 receive treatment for traumatic brain injury and nearly 500 have been diagnosed with post- traumatic stress disorder, says Veterans Affairs service program manager Dave Beebe in Walla Walla.

A good chunk of them are also suffering from depression and substance abuse, he says.

Stump felt the impact of explosions more than once. On his first mission in late October 2006, he was walking with his unit along a dusty road outside Baghdad, a hot spot for roadside bombs and other explosive devices.

Silence was broken by the thunder of a mortar, shaking Stump. Shrapnel dented his helmet. He remembers standing dizzily with a loud ringing in his ear.

Roughly eight months later, he was in a convoy of military vehicles on patrol when an IED took out the rear of his Humvee and the front of another following closely.

Stump, who was manning a gun atop the vehicle, vaguely recalls the blast. He was slammed into the vehicle so hard that his helmet bounced from his head. Blood spilled from one of his ears. He was hospitalized for 12 hours. His medical records say he was unconscious for more than four hours.

About a month later, he was on foot patrol when he stepped on an IED. “It was a toe-popper,” he says. “It had glass, nails, rocks, stuff like that.”

After a few surgeries and repeated injury to the ankle, he was given a medical discharge.

Unseen wounds

But not all wounds are physical.

Stump’s mom says he’s haunted by what he did in Iraq. She says he talked about being ordered to assassinate combatants by shooting them in the head.

He also talked about a street fight in which a 6-year-old boy — the same age as his youngest brother — was riddled with gunfire. Medics took the boy, but Stump didn’t know if he survived, his mother says.

“The things he would tell me, I’d stop him,” she says. “I couldn’t listen to it.”

His former sergeant, Kuwayne Davis, who is now stationed in California, says when Stump was injured, his inability to serve weighed heavily on him, especially because he lost friends in their second deployment.

“A lot of stuff could have contributed to what was going on in his head,” Davis says. “But I can tell you he had a lot to deal with and he didn’t always have someone to talk to. I was kind of that relief valve for him.”

Stump has the medical records to prove what he endured, but still, he hasn’t been able to access the VA system.

A roughly 4-inch-thick stack of documents describes his hallucinations, headaches, dizzy spells, night tremors and suicidal thoughts. At one point, he was hospitalized on suicide watch, according to the records.

But breakdowns in communication between the military — where he was receiving some help for all of his problems — and the VA left him without services after he left the Army.

He says he submitted paperwork to the VA office in Walla Walla and spoke with someone over the phone. But when he went to Comprehensive Mental Health in Yakima for counseling, there was no referral or any other paperwork from the VA.

Beebe, the Veterans Affairs service program manager in Walla Walla, says Stump is not on file in the VA system.

“His case, it looks like he made an appointment, but who he talked to and what happened, I don’t know,” he says. “I know some guys slip through the cracks. On the other hand, they could have lost it. They could have spelled his name wrong or didn’t fill out his Social Security number correctly.”

Davis says Stump was trying to get disability from the military.

“Every time I saw him, he was always trying to get his paperwork together so he could get his disability started,” he recalls.

Stump’s mom says the impacts of war and lack of help became too much for him.

“Unfortunately, I don’t think Dustin got a fair shake when he got out, and now he’s in trouble,” she says. “This is a kid who laid his life on the line numerous times for his country, and he needs help.”

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Humanitarian War vs. Humanity


By David Swanson

The idea that wars are waged out of humanitarian concern may not at first appear even worthy of response. Wars kill humans. What can be humanitarian about that? But look at the sort of rhetoric that successfully sells new wars:

“This conflict started Aug. 2, when the dictator of Iraq invaded a small and helpless neighbor. Kuwait, a member of the Arab League and a member of the United Nations, was crushed, its people brutalized. Five months ago, Saddam Hussein started this cruel war against Kuwait; tonight, the battle has been joined.”

Thus spoke President Bush the Elder upon launching the Gulf War in 1991. He didn’t say he wanted to kill people. He said he wanted to liberate helpless victims from their oppressors, an idea that would be considered leftist in domestic politics, but an idea that seems to create genuine support for wars. And here’s President Clinton speaking about Yugoslavia eight years later:

“When I ordered our armed forces into combat, we had three clear goals: to enable the Kosovar people, the victims of some of the most vicious atrocities in Europe since the Second World War, to return to their homes with safety and self-government; to require Serbian forces responsible for those atrocities to leave Kosovo; and to deploy an international security force, with NATO at its core, to protect all the people of that troubled land, Serbs and Albanians alike.” Look also at the rhetoric that is used to successfully keep wars going for years:

“We will not abandon the Iraqi people.”
Secretary of State Colin Powell, August 13, 2003.

“The United States will not abandon Iraq.”
President George W. Bush, March, 21, 2006.

If I break into your house, smash the windows, bust up the furniture, and kill half your family, do I have a moral obligation to stay and spend the night? Would it be cruel and irresponsible for me to “abandon” you, even when you encourage me to leave? Or is it my duty, on the contrary, to depart immediately and turn myself in at the nearest police station? Once the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq had begun, a debate began that resembled this one. As you can see, these two approaches are many miles apart, despite both being framed as humanitarian. One says that we have to stay out of generosity, the other that we have to leave out of shame and respect. Which is right?

Prior to the invasion of Iraq, Secretary of State Colin Powell reportedly told President Bush “You are going to be the proud owner of 25 million people. You will own all their hopes, aspirations, and problems. You’ll own it all.” According to Bob Woodward, “Powell and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage called this the Pottery Barn rule: You break it, you own it.” Senator John Kerry cited the rule when running for president, and it was and is widely accepted as legitimate by Republican and Democratic politicians in Washington, D.C.

The Pottery Barn is a store that has no such rule, at least not for accidents. It’s illegal in many states in our country to have such a rule, except for cases of gross negligence and willful destruction. That description, of course, fits the invasion of Iraq to a T. The doctrine of “shock and awe,” of imposing such massive destruction that the enemy is paralyzed with fear and helplessness had long since been proven as hopeless and nonsensical as it sounds. It hadn’t worked in World War II or since. Americans parachuting into Japan following the nuclear bombs were not bowed down to; they were lynched. People have always fought back and always will, just as you probably would. But shock and awe is designed to include the complete destruction of infrastructure, communication, transportation, food production and supply, water supply, and so forth. In other words: the illegal imposition of great suffering on an entire population. If that’s not willful destruction, I don’t know what is.

The invasion of Iraq was also intended as a “decapitation,” a “regime change.” The dictator was removed from the scene, eventually captured, and later executed following a deeply flawed trial that avoided evidence of U.S. complicity in his crimes. Many Iraqis were delighted with the removal of Saddam Hussein, but quickly began to demand the withdrawal of the United States military from their country. Was this ingratitude? “Thank you for deposing our tyrant. Don’t let the doorknob hit you in the ass on your way out!” Hmm. That makes it sound as if the United States wanted to stay, and as if the Iraqis owed us the favor of letting us stay. That’s quite different from staying reluctantly to fulfill our moral duty of ownership. Which is it?


How does one manage to own people? It’s striking that Powell, an African American, some of whose ancestors were owned as slaves in Jamaica, told the president he would own people, dark skinned people against whom many Americans held some degree of prejudice. Powell was arguing against the invasion, or at least warning of what would be involved. But did owning people necessarily have to be involved? If the United States and its fig-leaf “coalition” of minor contingents from other nations had pulled out of Iraq when George W. Bush declared “mission accomplished” in a flight suit on an aircraft carrier in San Diego Harbor on May 1, 2003, and not disbanded the Iraqi military, and not laid siege to towns and neighborhoods, not inflamed ethnic tensions, not prevented Iraqis from working to repair the damage, and not driven millions of Iraqis out of their homes, then the result might not have been ideal, but it almost certainly would have involved less misery than what was actually done, following the pottery barn rule.

Or what if the United States had congratulated Iraq on its disarmament, of which the U.S. government was fully apprised? What if we had removed our military from the area, eliminated the no-fly zones, and ended the economic sanctions, the sanctions Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had been discussing in 1996 in this exchange on the television program 60 Minutes:

“LESLEY STAHL: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

ALBRIGHT: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price — we think the price is worth it.”

Was it? So much was accomplished that a war was still needed in 2003? Those children couldn’t have been spared for seven more years and identical political results? What if the United States had worked with the demilitarized Iraq to encourage a demilitarized Middle East, including all its nations in a nuclear-free zone, encouraging Israel to dismantle its nuclear stockpile instead of encouraging Iran to try to acquire one? George W. Bush had lumped Iran, Iraq, and North Korea into “an axis of evil,” attacked unarmed Iraq, ignored nuclear-armed North Korea, and begun threatening Iran. If you were Iran, what would you have wanted?

What if the United States had provided economic aid to Iraq, Iran, and other nations in the region, and led an effort to provide them with (or at least lifted sanctions that are preventing the construction of) windmills, solar panels, and a sustainable energy infrastructure, thus bringing electricity to more rather than fewer people? Such a project could not possibly have cost anything like the trillions of dollars wasted on war between 2003 and 2010. For an additional relatively tiny expense, we could have created a major program of student exchange between Iraqi, Iranian, and U.S. schools. Nothing discourages war like bonds of friendship and family. Why wouldn’t such an approach have been at least as responsible and serious and moral as announcing our ownership of somebody else’s country just because we’d bombed it?

Part of the disagreement, I think, arises over a failure to imagine what the bombing looked like. If we think of it as a clean and harmless series of blips on a video game, during which “smart bombs” improve Baghdad by “surgically” removing its evildoers, then moving on to the next step of fulfilling our duties as the new landlords is easier. If, instead, we imagine the actual and horrific mass-murder and maiming of children and adults that went on when Baghdad was bombed, then our thoughts turn to apologies and reparations as our first priority, and we begin to question whether we have the right or the standing to behave as owners of what remains. In fact, smashing a pot at the Pottery Barn would result in our paying for the damage and apologizing, not overseeing the smashing of more pots.


Another major source of the disagreement between pro- and anti-potterybarners, I think, comes down to a powerful and insidious force known as racism. Remember President McKinley’s proposing to govern the Philippines because the poor Filipinos couldn’t possibly do it themselves? William Howard Taft, the first American Governor-General of the Philippines, called the Filipinos “our little brown brothers.” In Vietnam, when the Vietcong appeared willing to sacrifice a great many of their lives without surrendering, that became evidence that they placed little value on life, which became evidence of their evil nature, which became grounds for killing even more of them.

If we set aside the pottery barn rule for a moment and think, instead, of the golden rule, we get a very different sort of guidance. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” If another nation invaded our country, and the result was immediately chaos; if it was unclear what form of government, if any, would emerge; if the nation was in danger of breaking into pieces; if there might be civil war or anarchy; and if nothing was certain, what is the very first thing we would want the invading military to do? That’s right: get the hell out of our country! And in fact that’s what the majority of Iraqis in numerous polls have told the United States to do for years. George McGovern and William Polk wrote in 2006:

“Not surprisingly, most Iraqis think that the United States will never withdraw unless forced to do so. This feeling perhaps explains why a USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll showed that eight out of every ten Iraqis regarded America not as a ‘liberator’ but as an occupier, and 88 percent of the Sunni Muslim Arabs favored violent attacks on American troops.”

Of course, those puppets and politicians benefitting from an occupation prefer to see it continue. But even within the puppet government, the Iraqi Parliament refused to approve the treaty that Presidents Bush and Maliki drew up in 2008 to extend the occupation for three years, unless the people were given a chance to vote it up or down in a referendum. That vote was later repeatedly denied precisely because everyone knew what the outcome would have been. Owning people out of the kindness of our hearts is one thing, I believe, but doing it against their will is quite another. And who has ever willfully chosen to be owned?


Is generosity really a motivator behind our wars, whether the launching of them or the prolonging of them? If a nation is generous toward other nations, it seems likely it would be so in more than one way. Yet, if you examine a list of nations ranked by the charity they give to others and a list of nations ranked by their military expenditures, there’s no correlation. In a list of the wealthiest two-dozen countries, ranked in terms of foreign giving, the United States is near the bottom, and a significant chunk of the “aid” we give to other countries is actually weaponry. If private giving is factored in with public giving, the United States moves only slightly higher in the list. If the money that recent immigrants send to their own families were included, the United States might move up a bit more, although that seems like a very different kind of giving.

When you look at the top nations in terms of military spending per- capita, none of the wealthy nations from Europe, Asia, or North America make it anywhere near the top of the list, with the single exception of the United States. Our country comes in eleventh, with the 10 nations above it in military spending per capita all from the Middle East, North Africa, or central Asia. Greece comes in 23rd, South Korea 36th, and the United Kingdom 42nd, with all other European and Asian nations further down the list. In addition, the United States is the top exporter of private arms sales, with Russia the only other country in the world that comes even remotely close to it.

More importantly, of the 22 major wealthy countries, most of which give more to foreign charity than do we in the United States, 20 haven’t started any wars in generations, if ever, and at most have taken small roles in U.S.-dominated war coalitions; one of the other two countries, South Korea, only engages in hostilities with North Korea with U.S. approval; and the last country, the United Kingdom, primarily follows the U.S. lead.

Civilizing the heathen was always viewed as a generous mission (except by the heathen). Manifest destiny was believed to be an expression of God’s love. According to anthropologist Clark Wissler, “when a group comes into a new solution to one of its important cultural problems, it becomes zealous to spread that idea abroad, and is moved to embark upon an era of conquest to force the recognition of its merits.” Spread? Spread? Where have we heard something about spreading an important solution? Oh, yes, I remember:

“And the second way to defeat the terrorists is to spread freedom. You see, the best way to defeat a society that is — doesn’t have hope, a society where people become so angry they’re willing to become suiciders, is to spread freedom, is to spread democracy.” — President George W. Bush, June 8, 2005.

This isn’t a stupid idea because Bush speaks hesitantly and invents the word “suiciders.” It’s a stupid idea because freedom and democracy cannot be imposed at gunpoint by a foreign force that thinks so little of the newly free people that it is willing to recklessly murder them. A democracy that is required beforehand to remain loyal to the United States is not a representative government, but rather some sort of strange hybrid with dictatorship. A democracy imposed in order to demonstrate to the world that our way is the best way is unlikely to create a government of, by, and for the people.

U.S. commander Stanley McChrystal described a planned but failed attempt to create a government in Marja, Afghanistan, in 2010; he said he would bring in a hand-picked puppet and a set of foreign handlers as “a government in a box.” Wouldn’t you want a foreign army to bring one of those to your town?

With 86 percent of Americans in a February 2010 CNN poll saying our own government is broken, do we have the know-how, never mind the authority, to impose a model of government on someone else? And if we did, would the military be the tool with which to do it?


Judging from past experience, creating a new nation by force usually fails. We generally call this activity “nation-building” even though it usually does not build a nation. In May 2003, two scholars at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace released a study of past U.S. attempts at nation building, examining — in chronological order — Cuba, Panama, Cuba again, Nicaragua, Haiti, Cuba yet again, the Dominican Republic, West Germany, Japan, the Dominican Republic again, South Vietnam, Cambodia, Grenada, Panama again, Haiti again, and Afghanistan. Of these 16 attempts at nation building, in only four, the authors concluded, was a democracy sustained as long as 10 years after the departure of U.S. forces.

By “departure” of U.S. forces, the authors of the above study clearly meant reduction, since U.S. forces have never actually departed. Two of the four countries were the completely destroyed and defeated Japan and Germany. The other two were U.S. neighbors — tiny Grenada and Panama. The so-called nation building in Panama is considered to have taken 23 years. That same length of time would carry the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq to 2024 and 2026 respectively.

Never, the authors found, has a surrogate regime supported by the United States, such as those in Afghanistan and Iraq, made the transition to democracy. The authors of this study, Minxin Pei and Sara Kasper, also found that creating lasting democracies had never been the primary goal:

“The primary goal of early U.S. nation-building efforts was in most cases strategic. In its first efforts, Washington decided to replace or support a regime in a foreign land to defend its core security and economic interests, not to build a democracy. Only later did America’s political ideals and its need to sustain domestic support for nation building impel it to try to establish democratic rule in target nations.”

Do you think an endowment for peace might be biased against war? Surely the Pentagon-created RAND Corporation must be biased in favor of war. And yet a RAND study of occupations and insurgencies in 2010, a study produced for the U.S. Marine Corps, found that 90 percent of insurgencies against weak governments, like Afghanistan’s, succeed. In other words, the nation-building, whether or not imposed from abroad, fails.

In fact, even as war supporters were telling us to escalate and “stay the course” in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010, experts from across the political spectrum were in agreement that doing so couldn’t accomplish anything, much less bestow generous benefits on Afghans. Our ambassador, Karl Eikenberry, opposed an escalation in leaked cables. Numerous former officials in the military and the CIA favored withdrawal. Matthew Hoh, a senior U.S. civilian diplomat in Zabul Province and former marine captain, resigned and backed withdrawal. So did former diplomat Ann Wright who had helped reopen the embassy in Afghanistan in 2001. The National Security Advisor thought more troops would “just be swallowed up.” A majority of the U.S. public opposed the war, and the opposition was even stronger among the Afghan people, especially in Kandahar, where a U.S. Army-funded survey found that 94 percent of Kandaharis wanted negotiations, not assault, and 85 percent said they viewed the Taliban as “our Afghan brothers.”

Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and funder of the escalation, John Kerry noted that an assault on Marja that had been a test run for a larger assault on Kandahar had failed miserably. Kerry also noted that Taliban assassinations in Kandahar had begun when the United States announced a coming assault there. How then, he asked, could the assault stop the killings? Kerry and his colleagues, just before dumping another $33.5 billion into the Afghanistan escalation in 2010, pointed out that terrorism had been increasing globally during the “Global War on Terror.” The 2009 escalation in Afghanistan had been followed by an 87 percent increase in violence, according to the Pentagon.

The military had developed, or rather revived from Vietnam days, a strategy for Iraq four years into that war that was also applied to Afghanistan, a kind-hearted strategy known as Counter-Insurgency. On paper, this required an 80 percent investment in civilian efforts at “winning hearts and minds” and 20 percent in military operations. But in both countries, this strategy was only applied to rhetoric, not reality. Actual investment in non-military operations in Afghanistan never topped 5 percent, and the man in charge of it, Richard Holbrooke, described the civilian mission as “supporting the military.”

Rather than “spreading freedom” with bombs and guns, what would have been wrong with spreading knowledge? If learning leads to the development of democracy, why not spread education? Why not provide funding for children’s health and schools, instead of melting the skin off children with white phosphorous? Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi proposed, following the September 11, 2001, terrorism, that instead of bombing Afghanistan, the United States could build schools in Afghanistan, each named for and honoring someone killed in the World Trade Center, thus building appreciation for generous aid and understanding of the damage done by violence. Whatever you think of such an approach, it’s hard to argue it wouldn’t have been generous and perhaps even in line with the principle of loving one’s enemies.


The hypocrisy of generously imposed occupations is perhaps most apparent when done in the name of uprooting previous occupations. When Japan kicked European colonialists out of Asian nations only to occupy them itself, or when the United States liberated Cuba or the Philippines in order to dominate those countries itself, the contrast between word and deed jumped out at you. In both of these examples, Japan and the United States offered civilization, culture, modernization, leadership, and mentoring, but they offered them at the barrel of a gun whether anyone wanted them or not. And if anyone did, well, their story got top play back home. When Americans were hearing tales of German barbarity in Belgium and France during World War I, Germans were reading accounts of how dearly the occupied French loved their benevolent German occupiers. And when can you not count on the New York Times to locate an Iraqi or an Afghan who’s worried that the Americans might leave too soon?

Any occupation must work with some elite group of natives, who in turn will of course support the occupation. But the occupier should not mistake such support for majority opinion, as the United States has been in the habit of doing since at least 1899. Nor should a “native face” on a foreign occupation be expected to fool people:

“The British, like the Americans,…believed that native troops would be less unpopular than foreigners. That proposition is…dubious: if native troops are perceived to be puppets of foreigners, they may be even more violently opposed than the foreigners themselves.” Native troops may also be less loyal to the occupier’s mission and less trained in the ways of the occupying army. This soon leads to blaming the same deserving people on whose behalf we’ve attacked their country for our inability to leave it. They are now “violent, incompetent, and untrustworthy,” as the McKinley White House portrayed the Filipinos, and as the Bush and Obama White Houses portrayed Iraqis and Afghans.

In an occupied nation with its own internal divisions, minority groups may truly fear mistreatment at the hands of the majority should the foreign occupation end. That problem is a reason for future Bushes to heed the advice of future Powells and not invade in the first place. It’s a reason not to inflame internal divisions, as occupiers tend to do, much preferring that the people kill each other than that they unite against foreign forces. And it’s a reason to encourage international diplomacy and positive influence on the nation while withdrawing and paying reparations.

The feared post-occupation violence is not, however, usually a persuasive argument for extending the occupation. For one thing, it’s an argument for permanent occupation. For another, the bulk of the violence that is depicted back in the imperial nation as a civil war is still usually violence directed against the occupiers and their collaborators. When the occupation ends, so does much of the violence. This has been demonstrated in Iraq as troops have reduced their presence; the violence has decreased accordingly.

Most of the violence in Basra ended when the British troops there ceased patrolling to control the violence. The plan for withdrawal from Iraq that George McGovern and William Polk (the former senator and a descendant of former President Polk, respectively) published in 2006 proposed a temporary bridge to complete independence, advice that went unheeded:

“The Iraqi government would be wise to request the short-term services of an international force to police the country during and immediately after the period of American withdrawal. Such a force should be on only temporary duty, with a firm date fixed in advance for withdrawal. Our estimate is that Iraq would need it for about two years after the American withdrawal is complete. During this period, the force probably could be slowly but steadily cut back, both in personnel and in deployment. Its activities would be limited to enhancing public security.…It would have no need for tanks or artillery or offensive aircraft .…It would not attempt…to battle the insurgents. Indeed, after the withdrawal of American and British regular troops and the roughly 25,000 foreign mercenaries, the insurgency, which was aimed at achieving that objective, would lose public support.…Then gunmen would either put down their weapons or become publicly identified as outlaws. This outcome has been the experience of insurgencies in Algeria, Kenya, Ireland (Eire), and elsewhere.”


It’s not just the continuation of wars that is justified as generosity. Initiating fights with evil forces in defense of justice, even while it inspires less than angelic sentiments in some war supporters, is generally also presented as pure selflessness and benevolence. “He is keeping the World safe for Democracy. Enlist and Help Him,” read a U.S. World War I poster, fulfilling President Wilson’s directive that the Committee on Public Information present the “absolute justice of America’s cause,” and the “absolute selflessness of America’s aims.” When President Franklin Roosevelt persuaded Congress to create a military draft and to allow the “lending” of weaponry to Britain before the United States entered World War II, he compared his Lend-Lease program to loaning a hose to a neighbor whose house was on fire.

Then, in the summer of 1941, Roosevelt pretended to go fishing and actually met with Prime Minister Churchill off the coast of Newfoundland. FDR came back to Washington, D.C., describing a moving ceremony during which he and Churchill had sung “Onward Christian Soldiers.” FDR and Churchill released a joint statement created without the peoples or legislatures of either country that laid out the principles by which the two leaders’ nations would fight the war and shape the world afterwards, despite the fact that the United States was still not in the war. This statement, which came to be called the Atlantic Charter, made clear that Britain and the United States favored peace, freedom, justice, and harmony and had no interest whatsoever in building empires. These were noble sentiments on behalf of which millions could engage in horrible violence.

Until it entered World War II, the United States generously provided the machinery of death to Britain. Following this model, both weapons and soldiers sent to Korea and subsequent actions have for decades been described as “military aid.” Thus the idea that war is doing someone a favor was built into the very language used to name it. The Korean War, as a U.N.-sanctioned “police action,” was described not only as charity, but also as the world community’s hiring a sheriff to enforce the peace, just as good Americans would have done in a Western town. But being the world’s policeman never won over those who believed it was well intentioned but didn’t think the world deserved the favor. Nor did it win over those who saw it as just the latest excuse for war. A generation after the Korean War, Phil Ochs was singing:

Come, get out of the way, boys
Quick, get out of the way
You’d better watch what you say, boys
Better watch what you say
We’ve rammed in your harbor and tied to your port
And our pistols are hungry and our tempers are short
So bring your daughters around to the port
‘Cause we’re the Cops of the World, boys
We’re the Cops of the World

By 1961, the cops of the world were in Vietnam, but President Kennedy’s representatives there thought a lot more cops were needed and knew the public and the president would be resistant to sending them. For one thing, you couldn’t keep up your image as the cops of the world if you sent in a big force to prop up an unpopular regime. What to do? What to do? Ralph Stavins, coauthor of an extensive account of Vietnam War planning, recounts that General Maxwell Taylor and Walt W. Rostow,

“. . . wondered how the United States could go to war while appearing to preserve the peace. While they were pondering this question, Vietnam was suddenly struck by a deluge. It was as if God had wrought a miracle. American soldiers, acting on humanitarian impulses, could be dispatched to save Vietnam not from the Viet Cong, but from the floods.”

For the same reason that Smedley Butler suggested restricting U.S. military ships to within 200 miles of the United States, one might suggest restricting the U.S. military to fighting wars. Troops sent for disaster relief have a way of creating new disasters. U.S. aid is often suspect, even if well-intended by U.S. citizens, because it comes in the form of a fighting force ill equipped and ill prepared to provide aid. Whenever there’s a hurricane in Haiti, nobody can tell whether the United States has provided aid workers or imposed martial law. In many disasters around the world the cops of the world don’t come at all, suggesting that where they do arrive the purpose may not be entirely pure.

In 1995 the cops of the world stumbled into Yugoslavia out of the goodness of their hearts. President Clinton explained:

“America’s role will not be about fighting a war. It will be about helping the people of Bosnia to secure their own peace agreement.…In fulfilling this mission, we will have the chance to help stop the killing of innocent civilians, especially children….”

Fifteen years later, it’s hard to see how Bosnians have secured their own peace. U.S. and other foreign troops have never left, and the place is governed by a European-backed Office of High Representative.


Women gained rights in Afghanistan in the 1970s, before the United States intentionally provoked the Soviet Union to invade and armed the likes of Osama bin Laden to fight back. There has been little good news for women since. The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) was established in 1977 as an independent political/ social organization of Afghan women in support of human rights and social justice. In 2010, RAWA released a statement commenting on the American pretense of occupying Afghanistan for the sake of its women:

“[The United States and its allies] empowered the most brutal terrorists of the Northern Alliance and the former Russian puppets — the Khalqis and Parchamis — and by relying on them, the US imposed a puppet government on Afghan people. And instead of uprooting its Taliban and Al-Qaeda creations, the United States and NATO continue to kill our innocent and poor civilians, mostly women and children, in their vicious air raids.”

In the view of many women leaders in Afghanistan, the invasion and occupation have done no good for women’s rights, and have achieved that result at the cost of bombing, shooting, and traumatizing thousands of women. That’s not an unfortunate and unexpected side effect. That is the essence of war, and it was perfectly predictable. The Taliban’s tiny force succeeds in Afghanistan because people support it. This results in the United States indirectly supporting it as well.

At the time of this writing, for many months and likely for years, at least the second largest and probably the largest source of revenue for the Taliban has been U.S. taxpayers. We lock people away for giving a pair of socks to the enemy, while our own government serves as chief financial sponsor. WARLORD, INC.: Extortion and Corruption Along the U.S. Supply Chain in Afghanistan, is a 2010 report from the Majority Staff of the Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs in the U.S. House of Representatives. The report documents payoffs to the Taliban for safe passage of U.S. goods, payoffs very likely greater than the Taliban’s profits from opium, its other big money maker. This has long been known by top U.S. officials, who also know that Afghans, including those fighting for the Taliban, often sign up to receive training and pay from the U.S. military and then depart, and in some cases sign up again and again.

This must be unknown to Americans supporting the war. You can’t support a war in which you’re funding both sides, including the side against which you are supposedly defending Afghanistan’s women.


Senator Barack Obama campaigned for the presidency in 2007 and 2008 on a platform that called for escalating the war in Afghanistan. He did just that shortly after taking office, even before devising any plan for what to do in Afghanistan. Just sending more troops was an end in itself. But candidate Obama focused on opposing the other war – the War on Iraq — and promising to end it. He won the Democratic primary largely because he was lucky enough not to have been in Congress in time to vote for the initial authorization of the Iraq war. That he voted over and over again to fund it was never mentioned in the media, as senators are simply expected to fund wars whether they approve of them or not.

Obama did not promise a speedy withdrawal of all troops from Iraq. In fact, there was a period in which he never let a campaign stop go by without declaring “We have to be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in.” He must have mumbled this phrase even in his sleep. During the same election a group of Democratic candidates for Congress published what they titled “A Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq.” The need to be responsible and careful was premised on the idea that ending a war quickly would be irresponsible and careless. This notion had served to keep the Afghanistan and Iraq wars going for years already and would help keep them going for years to come.

But ending wars and occupations is necessary and just, not reckless and cruel. And it need not amount to “abandonment” of the world. Our elected officials find it hard to believe, but there are ways other than war of relating to people and governments. When a petty crime is underway, our top priority is to stop it, after which we look into ways of setting things right, including deterring future crimes of the same sort and repairing the damage. When the largest crime we know of is underway, we do not need to be as slow about ending it as possible. We need to end it immediately. That is the kindest thing we can do for the people of the country we are at war with. We owe them that favor above all others. We know their nation may have problems when our soldiers leave, and that we are to blame for some of those problems. But we also know that they will have no hope of good lives as long as the occupation continues.

RAWA’s position on the occupation of Afghanistan is that the post-occupation period will be worse the longer the occupation continues. So, the first priority is to immediately end the war. War kills people, and there is nothing worse. As we will see in chapter eight, war primarily kills civilians, although the value of the military- civilian distinction seems limited. If another nation occupied the United States, surely we would not approve of killing those Americans who fought back and thereby lost their status as civilians. War kills children, above all, and horrifically traumatizes many of the children it does not kill or maim. This is not exactly news, yet it must be constantly relearned as a corrective to frequent claims that wars have been sanitized and bombs made “smart” enough to kill only the people who really need killing.

In 1890 a U.S. veteran told his children about a war he’d been part of in 1838, the forced relocation of Cherokee Indians:

“In another home was a frail Mother, apparently a widow and three small children, one just a baby. When told that she must go, the Mother gathered the children at her feet, prayed a humble prayer in her native tongue, patted the old family dog on the head, told the faithful creature goodbye, with a baby strapped on her back and leading a child with each hand started on her exile. But the task was too great for that frail Mother. A stroke of heart failure relieved her suffering. She sunk and died with her baby on her back, and her other two children clinging to her hands.

“Chief Junaluska who had saved President [Andrew] Jackson’s life at the battle of Horse Shoe witnessed this scene, the tears gushing down his cheeks and lifting his cap he turned his face toward the heavens and said, ‘Oh my God, if I had known at the battle of the Horse Shoe what I know now, American history would have been differently written.”

In a video produced in 2010 by Rethink Afghanistan, Zaitullah Ghiasi Wardak describes a night raid in Afghanistan. Here’s the English translation: “I am the son of Abdul Ghani Khan. I am from the Wardak Province, Chak District, Khan Khail Village. At approximately 3:00 a.m. the Americans besieged our home, climbed on top of the roof by ladders.… They took the three youngsters outside, tied their hands, put black bags over their heads. They treated them cruelly and kicked them, told them to sit there and not move.

“At this time, one group knocked on the guest room. My nephew said: ‘When I heard the knock I begged the Americans: “My grandfather is old and hard of hearing. I will go with you and get him out for you.”‘ He was kicked and told not to move. Then they broke the door of the guest room. My father was asleep but he was shot 25 times in his bed.…Now I don’t know, what was my father’s crime? And what was the danger from him? He was 92 years old.”

War would be the greatest evil on earth even if it cost no money, used up no resources, left no environmental damage, expanded rather than curtailed the rights of citizens back home, and even if it accomplished something worthwhile. Of course, none of those conditions are possible.

The problem with wars is not that soldiers aren’t brave or well intentioned, or that their parents didn’t raise them well. Ambrose Bierce, who survived the U.S. Civil War to write about it decades later with a brutal honesty and lack of romanticism that was new to war stories, defined “Generous” as follows: “Originally this word meant noble by birth and was rightly applied to a great multitude of persons. It now means noble by nature and is taking a bit of a rest.”

Cynicism is funny, but not accurate. Generosity is very real, which is of course why war propagandists falsely appeal to it on behalf of their wars. Many young Americans actually signed up to risk their lives in the “Global War on Terror” believing they would be defending their nation from a hideous fate. That takes determination, bravery, and generosity. Those badly deceived young people, as well as those less befuddled who nonetheless enlisted for the latest wars, were not sent off as traditional cannon fodder to fight an army in a field. They were sent to occupy countries in which their supposed enemies looked just like everyone else. They were sent into the land of SNAFU, from which many never return in one piece.

SNAFU is, of course, the army acronym for the state of war: Situation Normal: All Fucked Up.

Posted in USAComments Off on Humanitarian War vs. Humanity

Gaddafi Raved & Cursed, but he Faces Forces he Cannot Control



“I will die as a martyr,” Gaddafi said last night. Almost certainly true.

by Robert Fisk”— The Independent

So let’s erase all the YouTubes and Facebooks and the shooting and blood and gouged corpses from Benghazi, and pretend it didn’t happen. Let’s pretend that the refusal to give visas to foreign correspondents has actually prevented us from hearing the truth. Gaddafi’s claim that the protesters in Libya – the millions of demonstrators – “want to turn Libya into an Islamic state” is exactly the same nonsense that Mubarak peddled before the end in Egypt, the very same nonsense that Obama and La Clinton have suggested. Indeed, there were times last night when Gaddafi – in his vengefulness, his contempt for Arabs, for his own people – began to sound very like the speeches of Benjamin Netanyahu. Was there some contact between these two rogues, one wondered, that we didn’t know about?

In many ways, Gaddafi’s ravings were those of an old man, his fantasies about his enemies – “rats who have taken tablets” who included “agents of Bin Laden” – were as disorganised as the scribbled notes on the piece of paper he held in his right hand, let alone the green-covered volume of laws from which he kept quoting. It was not about love. It was about the threat of execution. “Damn those” trying to stir unrest against Libya. It was a plot, an international conspiracy. “Your children are dying – but for what?” He would fight “until the last drop of my blood with the Libyan people is behind me”. America was the enemy (much talk of Fallujah), Israel was the enemy, Sadat was an enemy, colonial fascist Italy was the enemy. Among the heroes and friends was Gaddafi’s grandfather, “who fell a martyr in 1911″ against the Italian enemy.

Dressed in brown burnous and cap and gown, Gaddafi’s appearance last night raised some odd questions. Having kept the international media – the “dogs” in question – out of Libya, he allowed the world to observe a crazed nation: YouTube and blogs of terrible violence versus state television pictures of an entirely unhinged dictator justifying what he had either not seen on YouTube or hadn’t been shown. And there’s an interesting question here: dictators and princes who let the international press into their countries – Messrs Ben Ali/Mubarak/Saleh/Prince Salman – are permitting it to film their own humiliation. Their reward is painful indeed. But sultans like Gaddafi who keep the journos out fare little different.

The hand-held immediacy of the mobile phone, the intimacy of sound and the crack of gunfire are in some ways more compelling than the edited, digital film of the networks. Exactly the same happened in Gaza when the Israelis decided, Gaddafi-like, to keep foreign journalists out of their 2009 bloodletting: the bloggers and YouTubers (and Al Jazeera) simply gave us a reality we didn’t normally experience from the “professional” satellite boys. Perhaps, in the end, it takes a dictator with his own monopoly on cameras to tell the truth. “I will die as a martyr,” Gaddafi said last night. Almost certainly true.

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President Obama Speaks on the Turmoil in Libya


by Jesse Lee

“This Violence Must Stop”

Speaking from the White House, the President says the violence in Libya is “outrageous” and “unacceptable,” and that his Administration is looking at the “full range of options we have to respond to this crisis.”  His full remarks below:

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.  Secretary Clinton and I just concluded a meeting that focused on the ongoing situation in Libya.  Over the last few days, my national security team has been

working around the clock to monitor the situation there and to coordinate with our international partners about a way forward.

First, we are doing everything we can to protect American citizens.  That is my highest priority.  In Libya, we’ve urged our people to leave the country and the State Department is assisting those in need of support.  Meanwhile, I think all Americans should give thanks to the heroic work that’s being done by our foreign service officers and the men and women serving in our embassies and consulates around the world.  They represent the very best of our country and its values.

Now, throughout this period of unrest and upheaval across the region the United States has maintained a set of core principles which guide our approach.  These principles apply to the situation in Libya.  As I said last week, we strongly condemn the use of violence in Libya.

The American people extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of all who’ve been killed and injured.  The suffering and bloodshed is outrageous and it is unacceptable. So are threats and orders to shoot peaceful protesters and further punish the people of Libya.  These actions violate international norms and every standard of common decency.  This violence must stop.

The United States also strongly supports the universal rights of the Libyan people.  That includes the rights of peaceful assembly, free speech, and the ability of the Libyan people to determine their own destiny.  These are human rights.  They are not negotiable.  They must be respected in every country.  And they cannot be denied through violence or suppression.

In a volatile situation like this one, it is imperative that the nations and peoples of the world speak with one voice, and that has been our focus.  Yesterday a unanimous U.N. Security Council sent a clear message that it condemns the violence in Libya, supports accountability for the perpetrators, and stands with the Libyan people.

This same message, by the way, has been delivered by the European Union, the Arab League, the African Union, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and many individual nations.  North and south, east and west, voices are being raised together to oppose suppression and support the rights of the Libyan people.

I’ve also asked my administration to prepare the full range of options that we have to respond to this crisis.  This includes those actions we may take and those we will coordinate with our allies and partners, or those that we’ll carry out through multilateral institutions.

Like all governments, the Libyan government has a responsibility to refrain from violence, to allow humanitarian assistance to reach those in need, and to respect the rights of its people.  It must be held accountable for its failure to meet those responsibilities, and face the cost of continued violations of human rights.

This is not simply a concern of the United States.  The entire world is watching, and we will coordinate our assistance and accountability measures with the international community.  To that end, Secretary Clinton and I have asked Bill Burns, our Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, to make several stops in Europe and the region to intensify our consultations with allies and partners about the situation in Libya.

I’ve also asked Secretary Clinton to travel to Geneva on Monday, where a number of foreign ministers will convene for a session of the Human Rights Council.  There she’ll hold consultations with her counterparts on events throughout the region and continue to ensure that we join with the international community to speak with one voice to the government and the people of Libya.

And even as we are focused on the urgent situation in Libya, let me just say that our efforts continue to address the events taking place elsewhere, including how the international community can most effectively support the peaceful transition to democracy in both Tunisia and in Egypt.

So let me be clear.  The change that is taking place across the region is being driven by the people of the region.  This change doesn’t represent the work of the United States or any foreign power.  It represents the aspirations of people who are seeking a better life.

As one Libyan said, “We just want to be able to live like human beings.”  We just want to be able to live like human beings.  It is the most basic of aspirations that is driving this change.  And throughout this time of transition, the United States will continue to stand up for freedom, stand up for justice, and stand up for the dignity of all people.

Thank you very much.

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Posted in USAComments Off on President Obama Speaks on the Turmoil in Libya





Video:  By Joe Mowry and Tony Lawson (of Veterans Today)

Foreword by Gordon Duff

Few Americans remember Operation Cast Lead.  Jews in America were told Israel had to finish off Hamas in order to protect itself.  We can’t get into exactly how fanciful and utterly false everything American Jews are told or even the childishly ignorant statements President Obama and Secretary Clinton make on a regular basis.  They make me cringe.  They should make all of us here in America ashamed, Jews and non-Jews alike.

Every TV show that presents Palestinians as terrorists is the same.  Wait for the credits.  The people who are responsible for the devastation and butchery that you will see in this video, made these television shows.  Israeli-Americans produce up to 400 TV shows each year with absurd racist depictions of Muslims, cartoonish propaganda meant to terrorize and mislead and cover their tracks.

American sponsors, automobile companies, soft drinks, sexual enhancement products finance this propaganda.  Everyone involved knows they are doing something wrong but they do it anyway.  We call this a “double standard.”  What it is, more accurately, is complicity in war crimes.

Former President George W. Bush can no longer travel outside the United States for fear of arrest nor can many members of his administration.  The reason is that they face arrest for war crimes.  Is Gaza about war crimes?  You decide.  Others have been talking but money and power drowns them out.  Those who speak out lose their jobs as with  Helen Thomas or become ill and die under mysterious circumstances.

Those who lie, the media, our politicians, our pundits,  get stem cell treatments in Israel, their companies get fat contracts, their TV shows get huge sponsors, great time slots and can never be cancelled.  Their internet sights get top ratings from Google and are never hacked.

Write a book that endorses the lie and watch it go “best seller” before it hits print.

What Israel is doing, we are told from so many places today, not just the Middle East, but Europe, Canada, Australia, is “just like Hitler and the Nazis.”

Watch the video.  If it fits, then use it, but you decide.  What you will see is true.  Little else you see is true, this is true, this is fact, this is fair, this is balanced, this is honorable.

YouTube – Veterans Today –

Watch this and start to be an American, “walk the walk.” Do something, don’t just talk, don’t just sit and complain and, especially, stop watching television and reading newspapers.  What kind of people actually pay money to be lied to?

Then ask questions, why are we hunting Osama bin Laden when he died in 2001.  Check on this please.  Even Fox News says 9/11 was an inside job.  Why isn’t there an investigation?  Who has the power to keep covering it up even when it managed, nearly a decade later, to get on mainstream news?  You didn’t see it?  It was there, just the same and is all over the internet.  Check the Jesse Ventura story as well.

All this means one more thing.  Not only is America supplying weapons that Israel uses to bomb a concentration camp where 800,000 people live behind barbed wire and machinegun towers, what we are doing in Afghanistan and Iraq, what most Americans no longer believe is morally correct and was certainly never legal, is still going on and only a few people are standing up and saying “no.”

This is because Americans are fighting a war of aggression on behalf of the State of Israel.  Why is 9/11 being covered up, even after Fox News proved it was an “inside job?”

As former Soviet intelligence officer Dimitri Khalezov told me a few days ago:

“On September 12, 2001, I had breakfast with Mike Harari, Operations Chief of Israel’s Mossad.  Harari had his 16 year old son with him.  He asked me to pick up bottles of wine as it was a celebration of a successful operation.  That operation was 9/11.”

In 2007, the FBI flew a team to Bangkok to meet with Dimitri.  He says the privately admitted to knowing Israel’s role in 9/11.  Dimitri Khalezov has volunteered to take a lie detector test.  Fox News has an audio tape of Khalezov’s two hour debriefing on this.

Let us see if they have the courage to go this far.


The Narcissism of the iPad Imperialists who want to invade Libya




Brendan O’Neill

 In a modern political sphere that has its fair share of narcissists and ignoramuses, no one is quite as narcissistic or as ignorant as the liberal interventionist. From the comfort of his Home Counties home, possibly to the sound of birds tweeting on the windowsill, the liberal interventionist will write furious, spittle-stained articles about the need to invade faraway countries in order to topple their dictators. As casually and thoughtlessly as the rest of us write shopping lists, he will pen a 10-point plan for the bombing of Yugoslavia or Afghanistan or Iraq and not give a second thought to the potentially disastrous consequences.Now, having learned nothing from the horrors that they cheer-led like excitable teenage girls over the past 15 years, these bohemian bombers, these latte-sipping lieutenants, these iPad imperialists are back.

This time they’re demanding the invasion of Libya. In the Guardian Ian Birrell brushes aside the eight-year nightmare of Iraq in one sentence – we shouldn’t be “scarred by the foolishness of the Iraq invasion”, he says – as he calls on the international community to spearhead a “rapid intervention” to save the people of Libya. It’s like an “apocalyptic Hollywood film” and there are even “rumours of systematic male rape”, he says, proving once again that there is no situation so bad that it cannot be made to sound even worse by hacks seeking to emotionally blackmail NATO into dropping a couple of tonnes of bombs.

Over at Slate, a headline sums up the outlook of Libya-concerned liberals: “It’s time to intervene.” Apparently world leaders can send a message to the broader Arab world by getting a grip on the Libyan crisis now. “Before the region descends into protracted civil conflict, the international community has the opportunity, in Libya, to set an important precedent and save thousands of lives in the process.” Meanwhile, a gaggle of human rights groups is calling on the UN and the EU to intervene to “protect Libyan civilians from government killings”. The White Man’s Burden is alive and well, it seems, though it has been thoroughly de-Kiplingised and turned into a super-liberal, PC endeavour.

The ignorance of liberal interventionists is captured in the fact that they seem to have wilfully forgotten the disastrous interventions of the past 15 years, all of which, from Yugoslavia to Afghanistan to Iraq, exacerbated local tensions and led to more, not less, bloodshed. It takes a special kind of arrogance to be able to demand yet another international military venture when the terrible consequences of your last one are still plain to see. And their narcissism is contained in the fact that the real reason they are making these demands for war is to make themselves feel good, to demonstrate that they care with a capital C. They know nothing of the countries that they want to see invaded, and care little about the potential of such invasions to destabilise things further. No, all that matters is that in saying “Forget Iraq, let’s now attack Gaddafi!”, they can publicly demonstrate their own moral indefatigability.

Yes, what is happening in Libya is of great cause for concern. But it is also exciting. A people is liberating itself, city by city, and in the process is creating the foundations for a new kind of society and even a potential democracy. To invade now in order to satisfy Western politicians’ and hacks’ lust for a bit of purpose in their humdrum lives would be to turn this fledgling democracy into a moral protectorate of the West – and store up more war for the future.

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Dorothy Online Newsletter



Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem

Chair of West Midland PSC

Dear All,

Today’s initial report of the 3 below is infuriating.  In 2002 an Israeli air force pilot dropped a one-ton bomb on a building to catch a single man.  Not one but 15 people (I don’t know why it says 13 in the article) were killed.  Among the 9 children and others killed, was a mother of 12 children in her 9th month of pregnancy.

The act shocked many, including media reporters.  But Dan Halutz, at that time Commanding Officer of the air force, told his pilots that they should sleep well, and when queried on what he felt when he bombed he responded ‘a click as the bomb leaves the plane.’  So much for the ‘most moral army in the world’!!!

But of course in Israel air force pilots are untouchables.  And so the panel that ‘investigated’ the incident whitewashed the affair.  Well why not?  After all the civilians killed were merely ‘collateral damage’ (as Bush the younger disgustingly termed such events).

It is not clear whether the building on which the bomb fell was an apartment building or a house (reports differ on this), but the bomb was dropped in a crowded neighborhood—of that there is no doubt.  It must have been anticipated that many innocents would die.  But obviously innocent lives did not matter.

Item 2 is a brief report on 2 cases in which, apparently, there has been negligence in medical care in prison.

Item 3 invites students and faculty to come to an INTERNSHIP FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND JUST PEACE.

All the best,



1.  Haaretz,

February 27, 2011

‘Israel’s 2002 hit of Hamas leader was justified, despite civilian casualties’

While criticizing decision makers for underestimating the risk of civilian injuries, probe panel says Israel’s Gaza assassination of Salah Shehadeh was a necessary part of its war on ‘murderous terrorism.’

By Barak Ravid

Israeli military and political officials should not be forced to assume personal responsibility for the 2002 Gaza assassination of a Hamas strongman which resulted in the death of 13 innocent Palestinians, a panel probing the incident said in its report on Sunday.

On July 22, 2002 an Israeli plane dropped a 1-ton bomb on a house in Gaza City in which Hamas military wing commander Salah Shehadeh was staying. In addition to Shehadeh and his aide, 13 civilians, including eight children were killed in the incident.

A committee was appointed by former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008 to investigate the incident, following a High Court appeal by left-wing activist and member of Yesh Gvul, Yoav Hass.

In their appeal, Hass and other Yesh Gvul members insisted that criminal investigations be initiated against then Israel Air Force chief Dan Halutz, then Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon, then Defense Minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer and former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

In the report culminating the panel’s probe submitted to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, committee members justified the strike, saying that the “preventive strike against Shehadeh was a direct result of the intensification of terrorist group activity since 2000, which had reached war-like proportions.”

The panel added that the Hamas strongman had been the motivational, ideological, and operational force of Hamas and was aware of being wanted by Israel.

Referring to the massive collateral fatalities brought upon by the bombing, the report said that the “side effects had been unintentional, involuntary, and unpredictable,” adding that the civilian deaths were not the result of a “disregard for human life.”

According to the panel’s conclusions, all those involved in the operation were aware of the possibility that civilians could be hurt, ensuring that civilian injuries and casualties would be kept at a minimum.

“Despite all these, a discrepancy had formed between the expected results and those on the ground,” the report surmised, adding that the main reason for that gap was “insufficient, unfocused, and uneven intelligence on whether or not the houses adjacent Shehadeh’s were populated, the location of most of the subsequent casualties.”

The report was critical of defense establishment officials, criticizing their estimates and judgment, as well as pointing out miscommunications in regards to the pass of intelligence between the security forces involved.

“Weight was given to the strike on Shehadeh, while not enough weight was given to the possibility of civilian casualties,” the report said.

However, despite the flaws mentioned by the report, the committee established that there were no grounds to pursue a criminal investigation of officials involved in the incident, whether in the military or in the government.

“The committee does not recommend taking personal action against those involved in the operation,” the report said.

As for the reasons behind that decision, the report cited “the many years that had passed since the operation,” as well as “the fact that decision makers, including Shin Bet head Avi Dichter and IDF chief of staff Moshe Ya’alon culminated their duties.”

Dichter currently serves as a Kadima MK, while Ya’alon is a Likud minister and deputy premier.

According to the report, Israel had weighed “more moderate steps geared at terminating Shehadeh’s activities,” such as a ground-troops operation, but those measures were not implemented since they put the operation’s success at risk as a result of the possible injury of both IDF soldiers and uninvolved civilians.

“Therefore, the bombing was chosen as a course of action that would result in a what was expected to be proportionate civilian injury,” the report said.

The report concluded by saying that “despite the results of this incident, the preventive hit was and remains a legitimate tool in the war on murderous terror, if and only the operation takes place in accordance to the principles and regulations determined in both international and Israeli regarding those operations’ ethical and moral foundations.”

More on this topic

Israeli pilot describes ‘good strike’ that killed 15 Gazans in 2002


2.  Deteriorating Health Conditions of Palestinian Prisoners

Date : 27/2/2011


RAMALLAH, February 27, 2011 (WAFA) – The Palestinian Prisoner’s Club report Sunday showed that two Palestinian prisoners suffer from severe health conditions inside Israeli prisons.

Prisoner’s Club lawyer Mohammad Safiya said during a visit to Israeli Shatta prison that prisoner Mazuz Bisharat from Tubas, north of the West Bank, suffered from an explosion in a part of his stomach as a result of medication prescribed by the prison doctor. Bisharat is suffering serious complications since then.

He added that Bisharat underwent critical surgery and needs another due to escalations in his condition.

Bisharat was arrested in 2003 and is married with 3 children.

Raed Tarabay, another prisoner from Jabalia refugee camp north of Gaza who was arrested in 2002, has cancer and needs immediate treatment, according to Safiya.

The number of prisoners who have cancer is increasing in Israeli prisons.

Through the Prisoner’s Club, prisoners appealed to legal institutions to follow up their health conditions, pointing out the heavy deterioration in their health situation in Israeli prisons due to medical negligence.



3.  Dear student/faculty and friends,

We want to invite you to join one of FFIPP educational programs in Palestine/Israel this summer.

For students:


This is the internship program for university and college students. It includes a weeklong educational course and tour of Palestine/Israel, and a month interning at a grassroots, research and/or human rights organization in Palestine/Israel. Previous placements include the Freedom Theater in Jenin, the Alternative Information Center, B’Tselem, OCHA, Al Quds University, Tent of Nations, Palestinian Hydrology Group, and Palestinian Farmers Union, among others. The program fee is $1500, and includes housing, tuition, and the educational tour. It does not include airfare or food and transportation during the volunteer period.

For faculty and students:


This is a weeklong educational delegation for faculty and students around Palestine/Israel. Previous sited visited include East Jerusalem with ICAHD, a meeting with Omar Bhargouti in Ramallah, Yad Vashem, al Quds University, Dheishe refugee camp, the villages of Bilin and Beit Omar, Hebron, Tel Aviv University, and Haifa. The cost is $150/day. FFIPP will provide transportation, guides, make hotel reservations, and arrange all meetings. Airfare, food, and hotel are not covered by FFIPP.

TO APPLY: Visit to download an application and view application instructions. APPLICATIONS ARE BEING ACCEPTED ON A ROLLING BASIS.

We strongly encourage accepted applicants to fundraise from their communities, and we can offer assistance with fundraising. Additionally, we offer moderate need-based financial aid, and we have a new group discount offer this year:
To encourage students from the same university to join the internship program, we have the following discounts:
2 accepted students from the same university will receive a $100 discount each.
3 accepted students from the same university will receive a $150 discount each.
4 or more accepted students from the same university will receive a $200 discount each.

Please pass along this information and the brochure to any people or groups who might be interested. Thank you.

FFIPP-France Newsletter
FFIPP Summer 2011 Brochure

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us at

Best wishes,

Maggie Young, for the FFIPP-USA Summer 2011 Team
UC Berkeley


P.O. Box 2091
Amherst, MA 01004
United States

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The Last Word On Terrorism


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by crescentandcross  



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Ahmadinejad warns on imperialist plots



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Who is calling for American intervention in Libya?



History is being re-written in front of our eyes, but not by the usual suspects. I remember the debates over the Balkan Wars and whether America should have a “right” to “humanitarian intervention” there as classic moments when the touchstone of leftist ethics – do not intervene – was the most reliable guide to political thinking. Liberals like David Reiff, the pathetic Samantha Power, and Thomas Friedman, theNYT court jester, supported “humanitarian intervention” in the Balkans, sometimes in a tacit alliance with “conservatives,” although it was the latter more than the former who opposed the war and especially the intervention in Kosovo.

Jim Lobe informs us (this is why I don’t read Jim Lobe anymore):

In a distinct echo of the tactics they pursued to encourage U.S. intervention in the Balkans and Iraq, a familiar clutch of neo-conservatives appealed Friday for the United States and NATO to “immediately” prepare military action to help bring down the regime of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and end the violence that is believed to have killed well over a thousand people in the past week.

Those actions set the pattern for the 1990s. To the end of the decade, neo-conservatives, often operating under the auspices of a so-called “letterhead organisation”, such as PNAC, worked – often with the help of some liberal internationalists eager to establish a right of humanitarian intervention – to press President Bill Clinton to take military action against adversaries in the Balkans (in Bosnia and then Kosovo) as well as Iraq.

Those of us familiar with these debates remember something a little different about the 1990s: we recall that it was a Democratic administration that tore into Kosovo, Bosnia, Haiti, and Somalia, and a Democratic administration that supported the nearly genocidal sanctions regime against Iraq. Democrats don’t need the advice of neo-conservatives to rip apart the planet. They do that fine on their own. Lobe later gets to that, but it’s not the point of his post. He writes that

Anne-Marie Slaughter, until last month the influential director of the State Department’s Policy Planning office, cited the U.S.-NATO Kosovo campaign as a possible precedent. “The international community cannot stand by and watch the massacre of Libyan protesters,” she wrote on Twitter. “In Rwanda we watched. In Kosovo we acted.”

(Put to the side the claims about the US “watching” in Rwanda).* Of the many reasons for intervention in Kosovo, one of them was to further embed in Western political culture the R2P – the Responsibility to Protect – to justify future interventions, a bit of ideological spadework that laid the ground for the US aggression into Iraq and Afghanistan. It takes liberals to initially mouth these murderous bromides, and then they can provide ideological cover for the “conservatives” to undertake nearly identical policies when the latter are in power.

What is at stake here? Lobe is re-writing the history of empire so as to make it an affair of Republicans. Not just Republicans: neo-conservatives. But self-interested violent intervention under the cover of helping the natives is not merely the history of American empire but the history of every empire. In colonizing Ireland, English apologists said that “Again, his majesty may take this course in conscience because it tendeth to the good of the inhabitants many ways.” We stole the land to make it better. We bombed Libya to save it. The interests lining up behind particular policies need to be looked at carefully. As Herzl, Max Nordau, and others planned, the presence of Israel in the Middle East contributes to regional militarization. But we have a 1 trillion dollar military budget. When you have a hammer in each hand, the varied problems of the world do tend to take on the appearance of nails. But you want to just blame it on AIPAC? Really?


* Herman and Peterson write: “What the United States and its Western allies (Britain, Canada, and Belgium) really did was to sponsor the U.S.-trained Kagame; support his invasion of Rwanda from Uganda and the massive ethnic cleansing prior to April 1994; weaken the Rwandan state by forcing an economic recession and the RPF’s penetration of the government and throughout the country; and then press for the complete removal of UN troops. They did this because they didn’t want UN troops to stand in the way of Kagame’s conquest of the country, even though Rwanda’s Hutu authorities were urging the dispatch of more UN troops.”

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