Archive | May 24th, 2011

Pickering Won’t Apologize for U.S. Policy Toward Egypt; Or Admit IsraHell Has Nukes

NOVANEWS

by Sam Husseini

 

Thomas Pickering is a former U.S. ambassador to the UN. He’s also been ambassador to Russia, Israel and Jordan, among others. He was ambassador to El Salvador during the Iran-Contra affair. He has lately been focusing on the U.S. approach to Iran’s nuclear program.

Husseini: “What can the Obama administration do in a positive way? The Egyptian people have been oppressed and it’s been perceived as as U.S. back[ed]. The tear gas canisters are ‘Made In the USA,’ the jet fighters — could the U.S. apologize now?”

Pickering: “The U.S. should continue to do what I think it’s done very well till now, is to make sure the people of Egypt know that we’re on the side of change. … The U.S. I think doesn’t need to apologize, I think we need to support the positive shifts that are taking place.”

Husseini: “You’ve been focusing on the whole question around Iran’s nuclear program. … Egypt has been calling for a nuclear free and weapons [of mass destruction] free zone in the Mideast. … Don’t you think the U.S. needs to acknowledge that Israel has nuclear weapons as a starting point?”

Pickering: “It’s a decision for Israel to make about its nuclear policy. …”

Husseini: “But isn’t honesty the beginning point? … We’re not even saying that Israel has nuclear weapons, so how can this be a serious process?”

Pickering: “My own view is that that’s a much less important question than can we find a) a solution to the current conflict which I hope can lead to b) a nuclear free Middle East that you and I and everyone knows we all seek.”

Haven’t transcribed the whole thing, if you can do so, please email me, but Pickering used the term “change” about a half dozen times at the beginning of this short exchange. A regret here is that it adopt this language of things being a perception of U.S. backing Mubarak, it’s a reality.

– Sam Husseini

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Indyk Won’t Apologize for U.S. Policy Toward Egypt; Or Admit Israel Has Nukes

 

The new activist group RootsAction put out an alert this week calling on the U.S. government to apologize for its policy of backing a dictator in Egypt for 30 years.

Washington Stakeout today questioned Martin Indyk (currently director of foreign policy at Brookings, senior adviser to U.S. government envoy George Mitchell. He has worked in the past at Washington Institute for Near East Policy and American Israel Public Affairs Committee [AIPAC]):

Sam Husseini: “Does the U.S. foreign policy establishment owe the Egyptian people an apology for having backed a dictator for all these years? …”

Indyk: “What the Egyptian people want to see is that the U.S. is supporting their demand now for democracy and accountable government. That’s what the U.S. upholds as universal values. And I think President Obama has made clear that he is with them — with the protesters in Tahrir Square — when it comes to their demands for democracy.”

Husseini: “But if that’s to be really understood rather than rhetorical, how do we apply those ‘universal values’? Do they apply to people in Saudi Arabia? …”

Indyk: “…as a result of what’s happened in Cairo you can see American policy stepping up its focus. Things that have always been there, but now with much greater emphasis.”

Husseini: “There’s a question in the region as to the sincerity of U.S. policy. For example, do you know that Israel has nuclear weapons?”

Indyk: “What does that got to do with it, sir?”

Husseini: “It has to do with whether or not the U.S. just makes rhetorical pronouncements in favor of things that it [says] it’s in favor of — ‘universal principles’ — and doen’t acknowledge that, say, Israel has nuclear weapons — empirical facts.”

Indyk: “I think you underestimate the power of Obama’s bully pulpit. … I think that they [the Egyptian people] appreciate that he’s [Obama] come out very strong for their call for democratic change.”

Actually, if anything I’m overestimating the relevance of Obama’s “bully pulpit.” The protesters in Egypt don’t much seem to care what he’s saying. And what I’m asking about is why Obama doesn’t simply acknowledge that Israel has nuclear weapons, simply a use of the “bully pulpit.”

Says LobeLog: “Indyk is a smart analyst, evenhanded of late. But evasiveness about admitting Israel has nukes is silly.”

I think they give him too much credit, how could someone who is evenhanded not agree that the U.S. establishment owes the Egyptian people an apology?

As for Indyk’s claim that Obama clearly stand with the protesters in their call for democracy, I wish I’d asked about the nature of the “transition” that the U.S. actually pushing for given that it’s backing Omar Suleiman, Hosni Mubarak’s designated successor (and CIA-allied torturer).

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Questioning Shoukry, McCain and Gingrich on Egypt

NOVANEWS

by Sam Husseini

 

Asking Egyptian Regime Ambassador: “Mubarakism without Mubarak?”

Shortly before questioning Egyptian regime’s ambassador to the U.S., Sameh Shoukry, we received the following email from Aida Seif El Dawla (with the Nadeem Center for Victims of Torture) in Cairo:

Mubarak has fallen. The regime didn’t. We still have the same cabinet appointed by [Mubarak]. The emergency state is still enforced. Old detainees are still in detentions and new ones since the 25th of January remain missing. There is no public apology for the killing. We hear several executives are being prosecuted, including minister of Interior Habib El Adly. Process not transparent. Parliament has not been dissolved. Nor has the Shura council. etc.

We read the quote to Shoukry and asked: “Mubarakism without Mubarak — is that what the Egyptian people are going to have now?”

Among his many claims, Shoukry said that the current cabinet is one of technocrats. This seems to the party line of Mubarak appointed officials. A technocratic government of cabinet ministers? Hardly. The Interior Minister and Minister of Defense are generals and the others were appointed by Mubarak before stepping down.

McCain: Claims Iran More Prone to Violence than Egyptian Regime; Won’t apologize for list of dictators U.S. government has backed

In response to a question from another reporter, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) claimed that Iranian government has a “more oppressive, repressive police state that knows no restrictions. We saw last time, they don’t hesitate to shoot and kill people in streets. Obviously, Egyptian military was not ready to do that.”

(Infact, in Iran, during the protests in 2009, Human Rights Watch documented about 10 people killed. In Egypt, there have been over 300.)

We also read Aida Seif El Dawla’s statement to McCain; noting that hundreds of protesters were infact killed by Egyptian regime forces.

He called for a “transition government” inclusive of “pro-democratic” forces.

I asked: “Do we owe the Egyptian people an apology for having backed a tyrant for 30 years?”

McCain: “Hindsight is 20/20. … There’s many ways this government has been helpful to us,” specifically citing Israeli politics toward the Palestinians, like the siege of Gaza that the Mubarak regime coordinated with Israel.

McCain added: “I can’t apologize for what happened in Indonesia, for what happened in the Philippines, for what happened Romania.”

This was a rather remarkable comment. In part because it highlights that McCain recognizes that this backing dictators is a pattern in U.S. policy, that he refuses to apologize for, virtually guaranteeing its continuation.

It also mirrors recent comments by Noam Chomsky: “The United States, so far, is essentially following the usual playbook. I mean, there have been many times when some favored dictator has lost control or is in danger of losing control. There’s a kind of a standard routine—Marcos [Philippines], Duvalier [Haiti], Ceausescu [Romania], strongly supported by the United States and Britain, Suharto [Indonesia]: keep supporting them as long as possible; then, when it becomes unsustainable—typically, say, if the army shifts sides—switch 180 degrees, claim to have been on the side of the people all along, erase the past, and then make whatever moves are possible to restore the old system under new names. That succeeds or fails depending on the circumstances. …”

We challenged McCain’s endorcement of embracing dictators until they are no longer useful, after an exchange, he declined to meaningfully respond, simply saying he “understood your view on it.”

He also stated that for years he’s been aware of the abuses in Egypt, backing a process with Russ Feingold, somewhat contradicting an earlier claim that “hindside is 20/20.”

Gingrich: Do we back dictators like Mubarak so we can attack Iraq and Israel can dominate the Palestinians?

Earlier in the morning, we questioned Newt Gingrich. He had just been interviewed on ABC by Christiane Amanpour, who played a 1995 clip of Gingrich with Mubarak:

Can I just say that we’re very, very glad to have President Mubarak here. He is a very, very important ally, friend, and adviser. And many things that we’ve done, including Desert Shield, would not have been possible without the help of Egypt.

Later in the interview, Gingrich stated: “Egypt has been a staging area for us for a long time now. And Egypt has been vital to Israeli security.”

So, I asked: “We back dictators like Mubarak, who oppress their own people, so that we can attack Iraq and the Israelis can dominate the Palestinians. Why isn’t that a fair summary of what’s happened over the last 30 years?”

Gingrich called this a “fairly grotesque summary.”

Gingrich, initially when asked if he knew Israel had nuclear weapons said “of course.” However, he later backtracked, saying it was a “guess” since the Israeli nuclear weapons program could be a “Potemkin village.” [Addition: a friend comments that perhaps Gingrich would care to join one of the “9/11 Truth” groups.]

Should the U.S. apologize the the Egyptian people for materially backing a tyrant for 30 years? Gingrich: “I don’t think the U.S. has much to apologize for, I think we’ve been a force, basically for good in most of the planet.”

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McCain’s “Interesting Time” w/Gadafi, Ignores Manning || Kerry on No-Fly Zone, Justifies Manning Treatment, “Yes” on Israeli Nukes

NOVANEWS

by Sam Husseini

 

McCain Says Human Rights Concerns Were Behind his “Interesting Time” with Gadafi as he Refuses Questions on Torture and Manning

Q: “You tweeted in 2009: ‘Late evening with Col. Qadhafi at his “ranch” in Libya – interesting meeting with an interesting man.’ What did you find interesting about Qadhafi?”

McCain: “Well I found it interesting that he was one of the more erratic individuals I have ever seen. He reacted very unfavorably to our conversations concerning human rights. And it was at that time that there was the talk of the release of the fellow [an apparent reference to Abdelbaset al-Megrahi] who was apparently almost dead, he’s had a miraculous recovery apparently. We’ve made it clear, as we have in other countries, our advocacy and support of human rights.”

This claim of concern for human rights led directly to my second question, about the apparent torture of Bradley Manning (the alleged source for the WikiLeaks cables that have helped destabilize tyrannical regimes) who is being subjected to solitary confinement and forced nudity. But McCain refused to take the question — “I’d like to take the next question. I’d like to take the next question. I’d like to take the next question” — insisting on giving the floor to another reporter. I attempted repeatedly to ask about Manning, but McCain refused. He schmoozed with tourists and a Ben Franklin look-alike at the Newseum as I periodically asked “Is Private Manning being tortured?” I talked briefly to McCain’s assistant, noting the irony of McCain’s silence given that he has written regarding his experience in Vietnam: “It’s an awful thing, solitary. … It crushes your spirit and weakens your resistance more effectively than any other form of mistreatment.” The assistant confirmed that McCain has said nothing about Manning.

(As for the claim that the U.S. was pressuring Gaddafi on human rights, see Andy Worthington’s recent piece: “Revolution in Libya: Protestors Respond to Gaddafi’s Murderous Backlash with Remarkable Courage; US and UK Look Like the Hypocrites They Are,” where he writes about the al-Libi case and other cases pointing to collusion between the U.S. and Libya on torture. Stakeout had asked Colin Powell about the al-Libi case in May 2009 — a few months before McCain met with Gaddafi: “Powell Denies Knowledge of Torture-War Link.”)

Kerry: Authorization for No-Fly Zone “Would be Better”

Following up on another reporters question on Libya and no-fly zones, Stakeout asked Kerry: “Does the U.S. need authorization by the Security Council or by the Congress to do a no-fly zone?”

Kerry: “It would be better to have that authorization. It’s always better to have some sort of international approval. And frankly to have allies and others taking part in the effort, I hope that can be achieved.”

Kerry Backs Claims that Manning’s Treatment for His Own Good

Noting that Kerry promised constituency to look into the Manning’s treatment, Stakeout asked: “What are you doing on the Bradley Manning case?”

Kerry: “There are concerns about what is happening, but a strong argument is being made that they’re trying to preserve his safety, they don’t want him harming himself, and using his own clothing to hang himself, or do something like that. That’s happened in prison before.”

Q: “Why the solitary confinement, if they’re –?” (See: Glenn Greenwald’s “Bradley Manning’s forced nudity to occur daily.”)

Kerry: “To protect him, I think, and there are some legitimate reasons to believe that that may be true also. But I think that a lot of people are now reviewing this very, very closely, people have weighed in, myself included, I think that analyses are being made. There was a big article in the newspapers today examining it. And I’m convinced that there will be real scrutiny with respect to that issue.”

Question: “Are you planning to visit him, he’s like 30 miles from here.”

Kerry: “It’s not my job, no. I’m not planning to visit him.”

Kerry Acknowledges Israel’s Nuclear Weapons

Kerry claimed regarding the Iraq war: “I didn’t vote for the Iraq war. I voted to give the president authority that he misused and abused. And from the moment he used it, I opposed that.” [If true, this would mean that Kerry is claiming that he opposed Bush’s use of force in Iraq in March of 2003. Well worth confirming as it would have been politically devastating to do so at that time.]

Q: “Do you know that Israel has a nuclear weapons program?”

Kerry: “Sure. Everybody — it’s common knowledge and commonly understood.”

Q: “Why won’t the administration acknowledge that?”

Kerry: “I don’t know what the administration policy is on that.”

Stakeout has asked a number of officials about Israel’s nuclear weapons. Negroponte, Edwards, Pawlenty, Cornyn, Indyk, Pence, Pickering all refused to answer meaningfully. Finegold and Gingrich gave affirmative responses, but wavered. Kerry is the first to outright acknowledge that Israel has nuclear weapons, but it’s rather remarkable that he states he doesn’t know what the administration policy is given that he is chair of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.

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The Absurd U.S. Stance on IsraHell’s Nukes: A Video Sampling of Denial

NOVANEWS

 

On Tuesday, at a rare joint session of Congress for a foreign leader, members of Congress will clap hands raw for Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel — a nation many members of congress are incapable of speaking simple truths about.

The upshot of the professional wrestling “fight” between Obama and Netanyahu the last several days is that they both want the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to be decided by “negotiations between the parties.” These “negotiations” are between a nuclear armed Goliath Israel and largely defenseless Palestinians. It’s like “negotiations” between the Corleone family and a bandleader — except we’re not even supposed to notice the Corleone family comes to the table with huge guns drawn.

Yesterday at AIPAC Obama spoke of the “existential fear of Israelis when a modern dictator seeks nuclear weapons and threatens to wipe Israel off the face of the map — face of the Earth.” He spoke of “our commitment to our shared security in our determination to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.” Obama said to applause from the attendees at the pro-Israel group: “So let me be absolutely clear — we remain committed to preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. … Its illicit nuclear program is just one challenge that Iran poses.” Of course, Netanyahu is ever more vociferous in his accusations regarding Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.

 

But at his first news conference at the White House in February of 2009, Obama was asked by Helen Thomas if he knew of any country in the Middle East that has nuclear weapons. Obama replied that he didn’t want to “speculate.”

 

It’s simply not a credible position to have.

 

Obama is accusing Iran of having an “illicit nuclear program” (which seems to exaggerate the National Intelligence Estimate findings) while refusing to acknowledge the Israeli nuclear weapons arsenal. Mordechai Vanunu definitively exposed Israel’s nuclear weapons program in 1986 and was tossed into prison for 18 years, most of it in solitary confinement, for doing so. The Federation of American Scientists estimates that Israel has between 70 and 400 nuclear weapons. These weapons pose a real — not a potential or an imagined — threat to millions upon millions of people in and beyond the region. As do nuclear weapons held by other countries, but at least they are acknowledged.

 

But the U.S. and Israeli governments have maintained a stance of “deliberate nuclear ambiguity” since Richard Nixon and Golda Meir made a deal on the matter and stopped nuclear inspections in Israel in 1970.

 

The U.S. government stance is particularly absurd given that the main pretext for invading Iraq was false claims about that country’s alleged possession of WMDs.

 

As part of WashingtonStakeout, where I ask tough questions of politicians as they leave the Sunday morning chat shows, I’ve asked a host of politicians about Israel’s nuclear arsenal. Though they’ve varied somewhat in their answers, none has actually been straightforward.

 

John Negroponte, who when I questioned him was Director of National Intelligence, outright refused to engage on the issue: “I don’t want to get into a discussion about Israel’s nuclear powers.” While they were in office, Cheney and Rice wouldn’t stop for stakeout questions at all.

 

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told me that “there is no comparison between Israel and Iran and those who would draw a comparison ignore the fact that Israel is our ally,” virtually defining what hypocrisy is. Similarly, I asked John Edwards “doesn’t Israel have nuclear weapons?” and he responded by voicing his concern about “Iran having a nuclear weapon” and the proliferation that would allegedly cause: “odds are high that if Iran goes nuclear that the Saudis will go nuclear, the Egyptians will go nuclear, the Jordanians may go nuclear” — all without acknowledging that Israel has nuclear weapons.

 

Which raises a central question: If Iran is going nuclear, why would that be? One possible answer is because Israel has nuclear weapons. Contrary to conventional wisdom, that seems to have been the case with Iraq. Imad Khadduri, who worked on the Iraq nuclear weapons program beginning in 1981 — after Israel bombed an Iraqi nuclear reactor — told me that the Israeli attack actually drove him and others to work on a weapons program: “I worked on the pre-1981 nuclear program and I was certain it would not be used for military purposes. But after the 1981 bombing, we were so angry that we were ready to work on a military program.” (Before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Khadduri argued that, contrary to what the Bush administration was claiming, the Iraqi nuclear weapons program had been dismantled.)

 

Another reason that regimes might get weapons of mass destruction is self-preservation. That is certainly a lesson one could draw looking at Iraq and Libya the last ten years: Both disarmed and both were attacked. Viewing U.S. policy in that light, it would seem rather suicidal for the Iranian government to not develop nuclear weapons. Of course, we don’t know that they are, but if anything, militarized U.S. policy seems to be pushing them in that direction.

 

Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), who is vice-chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, paused when I asked him if he knew that Israel had nuclear weapons, then said “I’m aware that Israel is our most cherished ally…” I followed up: “Do you think it increases or decreases U.S. credibility around the world when U.S. government officials can’t even acknowledge that Israel has a massive nuclear arsenal?” Pence stuck to his line: “The American people support Israel. I call Israel our most cherished ally…” He was utterly incapable of engaging on the issue.

 

Somewhat similarly, former Amb. Martin Indyk replied: “What does that got to do with it, sir?”

 

Newt Gingrich, initially when asked if he knew Israel had nuclear weapons, said “of course,” but then backtracked, saying it was a “guess” since the Israeli nuclear weapons program could be a “Potemkin village.” My friend Jabari Zakiya retorted that perhaps Gingrich would be inclined to question the reality of the moon landings. Carl Levin (D-Migh.), when I questioned him, was chair of the House Armed Services Committee. He similarly said he “thought” Israel had nuclear weapons, but didn’t “know,” because “I’m not the government.”

 

I questioned Russ Feingold in 2010, shortly before he lost his seat, and he initially said “I’m not free to comment on that.” I asked: “Why can you not say that Israel is a nuclear power, Senator?” Feingold replied: “I basically think it is, but I’m not somebody who is privy to all the details on that.” But Finegold was on the Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the time of this exchange. In any case, the necessary information on Israel’s nuclear weapons is public.

 

This year, I questioned Kerry: “Do you know that Israel has a nuclear weapons program?” Kerry: “Sure. Everybody — it’s common knowledge and commonly understood.” Question: “Why won’t the administration acknowledge that?” Kerry: “I don’t know what the administration policy is on that.” It was good to get a “sure,” but it’s rather remarkable that Kerry states he doesn’t know what the administration policy is given that he is chair of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.

 

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty — and presidential aspirant: “It’s a determination for Israel. … If it’s been established as a matter of fact, it speaks for itself.” Thomas Pickering, former U.S. ambassador to the UN: “It’s a decision for Israel to make.”

 

In April, 2007 I asked former president Jimmy Carter at the National Press Club about why no administration would acknowledge Israel’s nuclear weapons. He responded: “When I was president, I did not comment on Israel’s nuclear arsenal. But it’s generally known throughout the diplomatic and scientific world that Israel does have [a] substantial arsenal. … It’s [Israel’s nuclear power] well known anyway to every diplomat, scientist involved in nuclear affairs, it doesn’t make it incumbent or important that the president of the United States announces that another nation does have nuclear arsenal. … I don’t think it’s up to the U.S. government, president or officials to announce that another country does indeed have or have not nuclear arsenal if they themselves don’t acknowledge it. I don’t think it’s helpful to do that, but … it’s not harmful either because everybody knows it.” (The Press Trust of India, April 5, 2007)

 

Finally, in 2008 Carter acknowledged the obvious truth somewhat more forthrightly: “The U.S. has more than 12,000 nuclear weapons; the Soviet Union [sic] has about the same; Great Britain and France have several hundred, and Israel has 150 or more.” Perhaps, when he is years out of office, Obama will tell the truth about things like Israel’s nukes.

 

In 2006, in what were described as “slips,” Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and then-incoming Secretary of Defense Robert Gates referred to Israel’s nuclear arsenal.

 

Similar to anticipated moves at getting the Palestinian issue seriously before the United Nations in September of this year (a move Obama is denouncing), in 2009, the U.S., Canada and other Western nations attacked and tried to block a vote by the International Atomic Energy Agency calling on Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. After 18 years of trying the measure finally passed.

In his widely-heralded 2009 speech in Cairo, Obama emphasized the need for truth. It’s long past time to stop the games and get real about the Mideast and have a fact-based discussion. A good place to start is an acknowledgement of the threatening elephant in the room that is Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal.


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Libya: on track to be Britain’s £1 billion war

NOVANEWS

We were told it would cost “tens, not hundreds of millions”, but after two months the war on Libya is already over £100 million, and by September it’s likely to top £1 billion.

By Richard Norton-Taylor and Simon Rogers

 

 

Britain’s involvement in the Libya conflict will cost the taxpayer as much as £1bn if it continues into the autumn as expected, according to expert analysis and data gathered by the Guardian.

Two months after western powers began bombing Libyan targets to protect civilians in Operation Unified Protector, the cost to Britain so far of the dozens of bombs dropped, hundreds of sorties flown and more than 1,000 service personnel deployed is estimated at more than £100m, according to British defence officials.

But defence economists have told the Guardian the costings are conservative. Francis Tusa, editor of the Defence Analysis newsletter, estimates that by the end of April Libyan operations had already cost the UK about £300m and that the bill was increasing by up to £38m a week.

Military chiefs have acknowledged that the air campaign would last six months. At this rate, the Ministry of Defence’s own estimates will put the cost of war at about £400m, but the expert view is that the figure will top £1bn by September.

Another defence analyst told the Guardian £1bn was probably at the top end of the scale, but that it would not be a complete surprise in Whitehall if this was the final bill for six months of operations.

“A lot of what they are doing out there is a substitute for training that would have cost anyway,” he said.

“The final cost will depend on whether the Treasury is prepared to pay for replacements for all the bombs and missiles that have been used so far.”

British warplanes are increasingly involved along with the French and Italians. According to data collected by the Guardian for the six weeks of aerial operations up to 5 May, the British have flown 25% of nearly 6,000 sorties over Libyan skies – second only to the Americans. The US total was inflated by an early surge, and it has now scaled back its operations. For the five weeks to 5 May , Britain flew more sorties than any other country. But British planes have been dropping far fewer bombs than their allies, relative to the number of flights .

So far, they have attacked about 300 targets, perhaps only 10% of the few thousands destroyed by Nato aircraft.

Norway and Denmark have by some distance the highest ratio of bombs dropped in relation to population.

The true cost of the operation will not be announced for weeks, according to defence officials. It is certain to be significantly more than the “tens of millions” stated in parliament by the chancellor, George Osborne, shortly after the bombing started. One other thing is certain: the cost of the bombs has been significantly more than the targets they have destroyed.

The Nato operation was designed to implement a UN security council resolution authorising force to defend civilians. But after stopping Muammar Gaddafi‘s forces wresting back chunks of the east of the country, the campaign has had little discernible impact in recent weeks on Gaddafi’s stronghold in the capital.

Tripoli has been heavily bombed for the past 10 days, with all Libyan fighting ships either sunk or damaged and many command posts and bunker complexes also hit. However, demonstrations in support of Gaddafi are still common and dissident groups are unwilling to engage his loyalist army, which still controls the west of the country. Defence chiefs in the UK and US are also said to be concerned that some Nato countries are unwilling to commit air power to the campaign.

It is not only the cost that is worrying the Ministry of Defence, and, indeed, defence chiefs in the Pentagon.The reluctance of most countries to commit their air forces to action – Norway, which has dropped about 300 bombs, is to pull out at the end of June.– is causing serious concern among military commanders throughout the alliance about whether Nato countries have the political will and military capability to continue operations that now have the stated aim of removing power from Gaddafi, his sons, and closet advisers.

For Britain, the Libyan conflict has also presented military commanders and ministers alike with an uncomfortable reminder of the perilous state of the defence budget. As Paul Cornish, head of the international security programme at the thinktank Chatham House, has observed, many of the military capabilities used in and around Libya – HMS Cumberland, the Nimrod R1 eavesdropping plane, the Sentinental surveillance aircraft, and Tornado jets – are among the first casualties to be scrapped or their numbers reduced (in the case of Tornados) as a result of last year’s strategic defence and security review.

“The obvious question to ask,” Cornish writes in the latest issue of The World Today, “is whether Britain could have made a contribution to the intervention in Libya had the crisis developed later in 2011 when most of the decommissionings, disbandments, and retirements would otherwise have taken place.”

The US led the assault, during the first week flying more than 800 sorties in Libya, of which over 300 were strike sorties. It fired more than 200 Tomahawk cruise missiles from its ships. Britain has fired fewer than 20 Tomahawks, costing an estimated £1m each, from the submarine HMS Triumph.

Britain, which has accounted for some 25% of all sorties, was so worried about the gap left by the US when it ceded command to Nato, and stood down its aircraft – including low-flying A10 tankbusting “Warthogs” and C130 gunships

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Helen Thomas and Move Over AIPAC

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Setting the Record Straight on Helen Thomas and Move Over AIPAC

by Alison Weir

I had not been planning to write about the controversy inside the Move Over AIPAC coalition that occurred awhile ago, but I’ve discovered that an inaccurate statement was published by Mondoweiss about this.  I’m surprised this statement was sent to Weiss, since most people had sought to keep this discussion only within the coalition itself. However, now that this has become public, it seems important to set the record straight:

Awhile ago Move Over AIPAC organizers issued a press release, which they didn’t send to the coalition but which was published by a number of Israeli and pro-Israel publications.

It said:

“Helen Thomas was invited to speak, as a journalist who is fearless about questioning power and unnecessary wars, but because some of her comments have sparked controversy, several members of the coalition and our grassroots community had concerns about her appearance.”
As a member of two coalition organizations, I was extremely concerned about this. I felt it was important that Helen not be pushed out of our conference as she had been pushed out of numerous other speaking engagements by the ADL and Israel partisans, and I tried to contact the organizers about the situation by phone and email.

Unfortunately, I received no response.

I then contacted some other coalition members, endorsers, and panelists, who looked into the situation more.

Two individuals managed to speak to Helen Thomas directly. Thomas told them that she “did not withdraw voluntarily,” that she had been “pressured into it,” and that she had been “disinvited.”

James Abourezk wrote an article containing information on this.

We also learned that Jewish Voice for Peace had objected to Thomas. We were unable to discover who else (if anyone) objected.

It seemed extremely inappropriate to us that in a coalition of about 100 groups, only one or two had been involved in an important discussion about a prominent speaker.

While JVP has often done excellent work and many of its members are exemplary human rights defenders, the organization also, by its own admission, includes members who support Israel’s right to discriminate. Jeffrey Blankfort has occasionally written about this.

It’s perhaps indicative that JVP’s media monitoring website had carried an article that, while it criticized the media’s handling of Thomas, stated: “It’s impossible to defend Grande Dame of White House journalists Helen Thomas’ recent off the cuff statement …. It was deeply offensive and wrong.”

My article on Thomas provided an entirely different perspective, as did that by Ralph Nader.

A number of prominent endorsers and panelists, among these James Abourezsk, Paul Findley, Hatem Bazian (founder of American Muslims for Palestine), Hedy Epstein, Hassan Fouda, and a number of others (there were eventually about 20 signatories) sent a statement to coalition members saying:

Dear fellow Move Over AIPAC endorsers,

 

We are deeply concerned that Helen Thomas has said that she was pressured into withdrawing from speaking at the upcoming Move Over AIPAC conference. This was apparently done at the behest of two anonymous groups, one of which threatened to leave the conference if Helen spoke at the event. It appears that none of the other close to 100 groups endorsing the conference were part of this discussion. Since the Lobby prefers to work in darkness, the objecting parties should not be allowed to remain invisible.  Granting them anonymity enables exactly what we oppose.

We are appalled that conference organizers caved to pressure to remove Thomas from the agenda and we call on them to reconsider this decision.

The ADL and associated organizations and individuals have pushed Helen out of numerous previously scheduled lectures, pressured organizations to rename or dissolve journalistic scholarships in her name, and have otherwise committed a sustained assault on one of the nation’s only top journalists willing to oppose the Israel Lobby. Please see the recent CounterPunch article on Helen Thomas by James Abourezk and the article last year by Ralph Nader denouncing the smears and bigotry of anti-Semitism against Arab American, Helen Thomas, that led to the dictated firing of this legendary journalistic pioneer.

We will not stand by and allow this to be done at a conference we are endorsing and whose stated goal is to oppose this very lobby.

We call on Move Over AIPAC to affirm the invitation to Helen Thomas to speak at the upcoming event. As a veteran White House correspondent, Helen has had many years to observe the workings of the Lobby from the inside and can undoubtedly make uniquely salient contributions to the event.

Alison Weir — President of Council for National Interest (CNI)

We invite all conference endorsers of commitment and principle who refuse to see Helen Thomas silenced once again – this time by a project of which we are a part – to join us.

I am pleased that the organizers then re-invited Helen Thomas to speak. I am not surprised that she declined to do so.

Now most of us are moving forward as positively as possible. I am pleased that a number of excellent op-eds relating to the conference have been successfully placed (including by the Washington Report‘s Janet McMahon and by Hedy Epstein), and that the event will most likely be a success.

Nevertheless, the fact that one or two individuals/organizations played a major behind-the-scenes  role in the unfortunate episode with Helen Thomas (and probably continue to do so on other aspects) is disturbing.

Once again, very few Palestinian organizations – who probably have the valid worry that they are being used as tokens – are taking part. Even those who have publicly remained as endorsers have withdrawn their active participation.

I am looking forward to a future conference and a movement in which this type of thing doesn’t occur; in which groups with partial commitment do not call the shots, and in which the full diversity of this movement for justice is integrally represented. I feel that time is coming.

Alison Weir, President, If Americans Knew

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Reporter Goes “Psycho” at AIPAC

NOVANEWS

 

Tempers Fly as Israel Takes a Beating for Spying, Rights Abuses

By Gordon Duff, Senior Editor

Several years ago, Steve Rosen, top Bush security advisor, had been arrested for spying for Israel.  Charges were mysteriously dropped, even though the nations most vital nuclear secrets had been handed over.  Blackmail was suspected involving Bush and male “overnight visitors” at the White House.  A few years before, “they” used Monica Lewinsky to go after Clinton, who reacted differently.  Bush surrendered to Israel.  Clinton held out and was impeached, an unsuccessful attempt by Israel to remove the most popular American president of our era.

Sources indicate that Dick Cheney’s problem was Chandra Levy.  She fell victim to a mysterious street crime.  “They” is AIPAC and half our government is attending “their” convention in Washington this week.  If that could be done to presidents, who could stand against them?

Israel had made lightning “strike twice.”  In truth, it has struck hundreds of times, enough to keep congress and most of Washington in a state of terror, fearful of offending Israel.  Ever see one of those lists of mysterious deaths, Washington insiders who are shot, blown up, beaten to death or simply disappear?

Rosen became poison, no decent employer would touch him anymore. Thus he went to work for AIPAC, an Israeli organization that claims to “lobby.”

Rosen, a funny, rather charming and quite independent guy, for an accused spy, was fired.  Charm and AIPAC don’t get along well.  AIPAC claimed they couldn’t have spies working for them, although he had been accused before they hired him.  AIPAC is famous for lying.  AIPAC is also famous for something else, spying.

Rosen sued.  His rationale?  “How can I be fired for spying when I was working for a spy organization.  They do nothing else, other than look at pornography on computers all day.”

AIPAC does far more than simply bribe congress and organize spies.  The greatest part of their spying operations is getting dirt on members of congress, the State Department, CIA, FBI and military.  With an army of “rent boys,” hotel maids and call girls on the payroll along with Chandra Levy and Monica Lewinsky types that sometimes end up dead, getting information can be very easy.  Watch a modern day “kapo” in action;


YouTube – Veterans Today –

Phil Giraldi, formerly of the CIA, spent much of his life watching America’s national security undermined by traitors, some in the CIA, but more in congress and certain, almost all of the mainstream press with the exception of Helen Thomas.  The video above is good reason for Helen Thomas’ “meltdown” on camera.  AIPAC employs hundreds of violent and unstable types as seen in the video above, petty criminals, thugs and moral reprobates to ply their trade.  If one were to be brutally honest, AIPAC is a combination of Himmler’s GESTAPO with more than a touch of Barnum and Bailey.

Few understood Obama’s speech.  When he mentioned “September,” and how the world would be wasting its time condemning Israel, few Americans understood the reference.

What he meant, of course, is that the United Nations is scheduled to vote to condemn Israel as a criminal apartheid state.  Israel has been named such and voted by the United Nations as such dozens of times.  Each time the United States vetoes passage but Israel gets two votes only, their own and the American veto.

Another video going around shows a small demonstration inside Israel.  This is a minor incident, in fact there are more IDF there than demonstrators.  There are more people filming than demonstrators.  The real question is why was the army called out to deal with a couple of women who became quite hysterical when punched and kicked by Israeli soldiers.

The real point, for those of us who served in the military, is the quality of the troops themselves.  We saw the films of the Israeli “commandos” that murdered unarmed civilians on the Mavi Marmara.  Former Marine and Veterans Today correspondent, Ken O’Keefe disarmed and captured 3 of them himself.


YouTube – Veterans Today –

We can see the troops are very well equipped.  What those of us who have experience in this area notice, however, is that they are poorly trained, and by American standards, unfit.  These are weaklings, part of an army that has not seen real combat for 30 years except for an unsuccessful foray against Hizbollah.  Israel is protected by a third rate military grown dependent on the “overkill” of advanced American technology which they use, quite generously, on unarmed civilians on a daily basis.

CAPTURED AFTER EXECUTING JOURNALIST

Last week, O’Keefe and his film crew were with peaceful demonstrators inside Gaza.  They were fired upon by Israeli snipers shooting from the cover of concrete towers across the border.  The week before, Colonel Gaddafi was charged with war crimes at the International Tribunal for Justice at the Hague for the exact same thing.  Check out the live combat footage including an American donated Apache helicopter firing Depleted Uranium munitions into civilian demonstrators.


YouTube – Veterans Today –

Reports from Israel indicated that the group in the video above were armed, had missiles and rocket launchers and were in uniform.  Israel listed this incident, officially, as a massive terror attack.

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Zionist Clinton: More NATO nations must join Libya mission

NOVANEWS

 

 

LONDON – U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Monday urged more NATO nations to take an operational role in the air campaign in Libya, and defended her own country’s contribution to the mission.

Speaking ahead of President Barack Obama’s scheduled two-day visit to Britain, Clinton acknowledged that additional support would help put military pressure on Moammar Gadhafi’s regime.

“We have a lot of confidence in what our joint efforts are producing. We would like to see some other of our NATO friends and allies join in with us, in order to make sure that the pressure is maintained consistently,” Clinton told reporters, following talks with British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Clinton also defended the contribution of the U.S. — which handed control of the mission to NATO in late March — following questions over Obama’s commitment.

“Even today, the United States continues to fly 25 percent of all sorties, we continue to provide the majority of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets,” Clinton said.

NATO said that 13 of its 28 member nations are offering equipment to the 17-nation strong alliance carrying out the air campaign in Libya.

Some British lawmakers have claimed that the U.K. and France have shouldered an unfair burden in the Libya campaign, and called on the U.S. to deploy additional jets in an attempt to increase the pace of airstrikes.

“It’s not our business this week to criticize the role of the United States, which has clearly been crucial — the military tempo has increased in recent weeks and in recent days,” Hague said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and Obama planned talks Tuesday and Wednesday, including on Libya, Syria and the future of the conflict in Afghanistan.

Cameron told British lawmakers last week that about 400 of the 9,500 British troops in Afghanistan will be withdrawn over the coming year.

Clinton said Britain and the U.S. were in harmony over their approach to Syria after the European Union on Monday imposed an assets freeze and a visa ban on President Bashar Assad and nine other members of his regime. It followed similar action taken by the United States.

“The cruelty must end and the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people must be honored,” Clinton told reporters.

She said London and Washington were “both absolutely consistent on our message to the Assad government: Stop the killings, the beatings, the arrests. Release all political prisoners and detainees. Begin to respond to the demands that are upon you for a process of credible and inclusive democratic change.”

Hague said that until Assad halted his violent crackdown on protesters Britain would work with the U.S. to ratchet up pressure on his regime.

Clinton also insisted that the U.S. was continuing to pursue terrorist targets across the globe following the killing of Osama bin Laden.

“We are determined to continue to press al-Qaida and its affiliates on all fronts, even after killing its leader Osama bin Laden,” she said.

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Dominique Strauss-Kahn: The Colonial Predator Legacy

NOVANEWS

 

By James Petras

 

The attempted rape and sexual abuse of an African cleaning woman by the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) embodies, in microcosm, the entire historical and contemporary legacy of colonial neo-colonial relations. Efforts to portray this criminal act as an individual obsession or a personal failing or a “Latin idiosyncrasy” fail to take account of the ‘deep history’ in which these psychological pathologies are embedded.

The first clue is evident on the very surface – skin deep – of the antagonists: On the one-hand, a powerful white European politician representing the collective will of an organization representing the global capitalist class, one with the financial resources to severely punish poor and indebted countries that disobey its prejudicial economic fiats; on the other, a single mother, a black working woman from a former French colony in West Africa (Guinea), which was ‘stripped clean’ by the departing French colonial officials for daring to assert its independence and subsequently forced to submit to endless ‘neo-colonial’ economic impositions ensuring its stagnation and subordination.

Was it “lunacy”, as Martin Wolf of the Financial Times would claim, that DSK would throw over a powerful, prestigious post and likely the Presidency of France, for a moment of violent sex? Or was it the playing out, and living through, the historical roles, deeply embedded in the psyche and cultural mores of a descendant and practioner of colonial realities: imposing his sexual demands on a ‘black servant’. No doubt the fact that the cleaning woman spoke French and came from a former French colony, one which had suffered numerous subsequent ‘French’ and IMF impositions, gave the powerful predator the sense of ‘entitlement’ to prey on black flesh, just as so many of his compatriot predecessor officials had done to ‘their’ servants in the course of administrating the colony. No doubt, in more recent times , it is common for top officials from international financial institutions visiting Africa to pad their expense accounts by hiring hookers to “service them,” while they impose austerity policies impoverishing countries and forcing millions to flee overseas in search of menial labor … as cleaning workers in luxury hotels. “Colonial familiarity”, the ‘shared’ language of oppressor and victim – perhaps excited the perverse sexual obsession.

The Colonial Legacy: The Social Psychology of Rape

The history of the European, and later US, colonial conquests, imperial wars and military occupations is a story of plunder, enslavement, exploitation and, above all, assertion of supremacy and power. Profits and pleasure accrue to the big mining and banking executives as well as colonial officials, especially among those in the upwardly mobile middle class who see in their new found power a chance to satisfy the whims and fancies denied them in their ‘home’ cities and among their domestic families and friends.

The absolute power of the colonial administrators allows them to secure total submission from those who are powerless – the single African women isolated from family, friends – before the Courts of Justice and denied equality .The latter is subject to firing, blacklisting, unemployment, intimidation, humiliation and insults for daring to denounce their colonial superiors. These circumstances and relations are reproduced today in all the countries subject to the dictate of the IMF, the Central Bank of Europe and the US Treasury.

Contemporary Neocolonialism: They Come, They Plunder, They Rape

The IMF and their imperial financial accomplices take advantage of the debts and crises of corrupt and complicit rulers to dictate terms for loans. The top officials seize sovereignty and impose economic policies, which privatize and de-nationalize the entire economy, reduce wages and pensions, worsen working conditions and retain a veto on all local economic appointees. The IMF and Central Banks re-colonize the debtor country: All earnings from trade and investment are primarily directed outward and upward. The neo-colonial division of labor involves imperial capital and black labor.

Embedded in this world-historic system of power, the powerful officials of international organizations have the financial and military backing of the US and the EU: the Directors are appointed by Euro-Americans and they enforce the rules of the game by which they prosper. As close collaborators and past and future partners of the private corporate wealthy, and likely political leaders in imperial regimes, the ‘international officials’ live and share the power, wealth, luxury and perks of the very wealth. They fly first class and they stay at the most luxurious suites in 5-star hotels. They are treated by their debtor ‘hosts’ as royalty. Above all, they are used to being obeyed: They expect submission. They believe their whims and perversions are ‘natural outgrowths’ of their ‘healthy appetites’ stimulated by their high-energy travels, frequent meetings and forcible dictates. If the top local officials of a debtor nation submit, who are the cleaning women to object? They should be honored to be chosen “to serve” the makers and breakers of entire economies and the livelihoods of millions.

The Resistance

DSK, the imposing ruler over the major global financial institution, did not expect his sexual advances to be resisted by an immigrant, a former French colonial subject. Initially denied submission, DSK relied on force and violence. Just as when workers and the unemployed launch general strikes and mass protests against IMF-dictated austerity programs, the regimes order the police and armed forces to impose subjection through violence. The black cleaning worker did not struggle and then submit, as too often is the case with workers’ movements. She made her outrage a public issue – she un-masked the violent criminal behavior that lay behind the respectable, affluent facade. She confronted the ruler before the larger democratic public. The public face of international finance capital, the head of the same predatory institution that rapes entire working populations in the name of vacuous euphemisms (“financial stabilization”) is nothing less than a crude crotch grabber – a sleazy lecher.

How many millions of Indo-Chinese and Algerian working-class and peasant women and their descendants, who suffered similar indignities during the French colonial administrations, must now feel vindicated by the simple act of denunciation by the Guinean cleaning woman, so far from Africa, but so close to the hearts of rebellion against the universal injustices inflicted daily by the IMF and its local accomplices!

The Reactions of the Left: the French Socialists)

Not surprisingly, the majority of French “Socialist” opinion has defended DSK and accused his victim, the black African working woman, of being part of a sinister capitalist conspiracy against the principle chosen mouthpiece and enforcer of international capital.

The French Socialist Party has a long and sordid history of supporting bloody colonial wars: Indo-China, Algeria and dozens of military interventions in Africa. Today they support the wars against Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan. As always, there are “dissidents”, left-wingers, “critical” intellectuals and “Trotskyist” factions who speak for the “rights” of the accused, as well the victim, but who looked to DSK, the head of the IMF and his millionaire backers, as their ticket back to the Palace Elysee, the Presidency and the spoils of office.

“Colonial Socialism” in Europe, like “imperial liberalism” in the US, has a long and ignoble history: Both ‘trust’ the word of innocence of an indicted financier over the accusations of an immigrant black cleaning woman, which is not too surprising. They have a history of converting criminals into victims and the victims into criminal… conspirators.

One has only to look at the French Socialists and US Liberals support for Israeli colonialist over the Palestinians “terrorists”; or NATO occupiers against the Afghan resistance; or Tunisian autocrats over pro-democracy protestors.

The fact that sectors of the ‘left’ in France and America can claim DSK as a victim of some ‘elite conspiracy’ is a clear sign of their total and complete degeneracy and the perversion of any semblance of progressive sentiment. Under Strauss-Kahn’s dictates the IMF has imposed the most reactionary social cuts in recent history on Spain, Greece, and Portugal: Unemployment is 45% for under-30 year-olds in Spain and overall 22%; in Greece 16% and Portugal 13%. Pensions have been reduced by 15% and wages by a similar or greater amount. Vast sectors of the Greek economy, valued at 50 billion Euros are to be privatized, as DSK plays to the private multi-nationals. Under IMF austerity policies Southern European economies are regressing – as public investments and private consumption shrink and negative growth rates hover between 5% – 10% over the past 3 years with no end in sight.

If there is any ‘conspiracy’ to frame DSK it certainly does not come from any ‘elite’ or ‘banking cartel’. What is much more likely, is that after the initial jailing and indictment, the financial powers backing DSK will move into action – they have secured his conditional release under bail; the victim and accuser has been subject to intense police interrogation and more ‘media’ and legal pressure can be expected to force her to retract charges. The legal system rarely ever works in favor of working-class victims facing a high powered legal team backing a millionaire predator, especially one who speaks and works for the international capitalist class.

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France and Britain to use attack helicopters in Libya

NOVANEWS

 

23gg15998130.jpg

Reuters

 

France and Britain will deploy attack helicopters in Libya, French officials said on Monday, a step aimed at better targeting Muammar Gaddafi’s forces which could help rebels break the stalemate.

Continued shelling of the rebel-held western port of Misrata illustrated the problem facing rebel forces and NATO. Rebels said Gaddafi forces were trying to advance into the long-besieged city under cover of rocket and mortar shells.

Hospital officials said two people were killed and several wounded in Monday’s fighting in Misrata. Later in the day, explosions were heard outside the city, lasting about an hour.

A rebel spokesman said forces loyal to Gaddafi also shelled the rebel-held town of Zintan and massed troops close to another town in the mountainous region bordering Tunisia, intensifying operations on the war’s western front.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in an interview with CBS News, said pressure on Gaddafi was increasing.

“I think we are seeing slow but steady progress. The pressure on the Gaddafi regime has increased to the point that Gaddafi’s wife and daughter fled across the border into Tunisia in the last two days,” she said. “The oil minister has defected.”

“There is an enormous amount of increased messaging going to Gaddafi, not just because of the military strikes but from those who he thought were in his camp or at least wouldn’t try to push him to leave.”

Residents in the capital Libya have heard fewer planes overhead in the last day or two, but a NATO official said bad weather had temporarily hampered NATO air strikes.

Confirming the proposed use of helicopter gunships, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told reporters in Brussels the move was in line with a United Nations resolution to protect Libyan civilians and NATO’s military operations.

“What we want is to better tailor our ability to strike on the ground with ways that allow more accurate hits,” he said.

NATO bombing has damaged Gaddafi’s armour but not enough to break a deadlock between rebels and government forces. While helicopters could make it easier to strike urban targets, they would also be more vulnerable to ground fire.

Britain was also sending helicopters, French Defence Minister Gerard Longuet said, but no other nation planned to follow suit. London was tight-lipped. “We are not in the habit of talking about any new missions we undertake until they are in operation,” a British government spokeswoman said.

The French daily Le Figaro reported 12 helicopters were shipped to Libya on the French warship Tonnerre on May 17.

A U.N. Security Council resolution allows NATO to strike Gaddafi forces in defence of civilians, but it explicitly excludes any military occupation. Critics such as Russia accuse NATO of overstepping their mandate in prosecuting a systematic campaign to force an end to Gaddafi’s 41-year rule.

According to Le Figaro, French special forces, who have been in Libya to identify targets for NATO since the start of air strikes, could now be reinforced to guide helicopter attacks.

MORE RISKY

The use of helicopters would pose additional risks for NATO. Helicopters would fly lower and be more exposed than aircraft flying well above depleted air defences.The downing of helicopters could draw ground forces into rescue efforts.

Intensifying diplomatic activity ahead of a G8 meeting of world powers in France this week, the most senior U.S. diplomat to visit during the uprising arrived in the eastern city of Benghazi for talks with leaders of the rebellion.

Jeffrey Feltman, assistant secretary of state for the Near East, met members of the National Transitional Council formed to administer the eastern regions under rebel control.

Gaddafi describes his opponents as religious extremists, criminals and foreign-backed mercenaries. He says he has no intention of stepping down after the manner of Tunisian and Egyptian autocratic leaders overthrown in an “Arab Spring” of democratic protest that swept the Middle East.

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