Archive | June 16th, 2014

Iraq: Advancing Zio-Wahhabi Rat’s seize northwest town in heavy battle

NOVANEWS

Terrorist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the world’s richest terrorist group, now controls large portions of both Iraq and Syria. Even though al-Qaida ended formal association with the Islamic extremists in February, they’ve grown large enough to seize areas with particularly lucrative oil resources. By transporting and selling oil to and throughout their regime, ISIS is becoming even wealthier and expanding their power.

The faction’s agenda includes money, armed forces, religion and, now increasingly, oil. And it’s that last one that poses the largest threat in taking down the Syrian government and creating the proto state they want.

Aaron Zelin, an analyst with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, recently discovered a 2006 map where ISIS projected their potential control.

 

Image Credit: Aaron Y. Zelin 

To get a clearer understanding of the region, this current map illustrates where attacks have occurred and shows the controlled provinces in detail.

Image Credit: The Economist 

By comparing the two, ISIS starts to look like a fine-tuned group with the ability to achieve their ambitious goals. They plotted out regions to control in Syria and northern Iraq with oil in mind.

The New York Times reported that so far ISIS has taken over oilfields in Syria and resumed pumping. On Wednesday, forces gained control of Iraq’s largest oil refinery and power plant, Baiji. Even worse, the insurgents have “secured revenue by selling electricity to the government from captured power plants.”

In January the Telegraph reported that ISIS was being financed “by selling oil and gas from wells under their control to and through the regime,” proving that they’ve taken very deliberate steps in securing power.

What will the money be used for? Essentially, power. But after robbing Mosul’s central bank on Wednesday and walking away with $425 million, you have to wonder why ISIS needs more money.

The insurgents want the money to pay their members. And the group is attracting more members by paying higher salaries. This is in addition to the group’s already luring qualities such as extremist ideology, highly skilled armed forces and an ability to consolidate power. So they are bringing in more man-power and paying them much better than the Iraq and Syrian armies, who have seen high a number of deserters recently.

What does this all mean? ISIS has been carving out stringent parameters since the beginning of the year. Their first set of new rules impose strict standards on the occupied territory: No guns, alcohol or cigarettes will be allowed, women must dress modestly and all Muslims are to pray on time.

In a rough count, ISIS only has 7,000 troops, far smaller than the Iraq army’s 250,000 troops, not including armed police forces. While the Islamic group does have U.S.-supplied humvees and weaponry, despite many commentators’ fears, they don’t have the manpower likely needed to seize Baghdad. But even without Baghdad, the group’s premeditated tactics have already given them the huge advantage of being able to maintain enough capital to sustain its growing members.

It is still unclear if ISIS will be able to operate and run all of the Syrian and Iraqi oilfields down the line. Though their strategic vision is telling enough about how they operate — enough to worry the rest of the world anyway.

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Krakow chief rabbi panned for remarks against non-Jews

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Polish Jewish leaders criticize Eliezer Gurary’s statements that all gentiles hate Jews.

Times of Israel

Several Polish rabbis and Jewish lay leaders criticized Krakow’s new chief rabbi for saying all non-Jews do not like Jews — a statement he was recorded making in an interview and then denied uttering.

On Friday, six members of the Association of Rabbis in Poland said in a statement that they “firmly oppose” remarks made by Rabbi Eliezer Gurary in an interview published June 9 on the Hebrew and English editions of inn.co.il, the news website of Israel’s Arutz Sheva internet radio station.

In another statement published Friday, five Polish Jewish lay leaders wrote they were “disturbed and deeply concerned” by Gurary’s statement, which they said “essentially painted all non-Jews as anti-Semites.”

In the published interview, which was conducted in Hebrew, Gurary was quoted as saying: “Let’s state it very clearly: those who are not a Jew – do not like Jews. Everyone understands and knows it.”

An alternative translation substitutes “like” for “love.”

In their statement, the Association rabbis wrote: “We are hoping that Rabbi Gurary will withdraw his harmful declaration.” They added that “the generalization that Gurary made is simply not true.” In Poland, they wrote, “We are fighting prejudice and we are working on good relations with our countrymen regardless of their religion or ethnicity.”

Contacted by JTA, Gurary, a Chabad rabbi who has been living in Krakow for eight years, denied making the statement during his interview with journalist Nissan Tzur.

He said the statement was a misquote and accused critics of targeting him personally in “a vicious and lowly blood libel.”
But in the recording of the interview, which JTA obtained, Gurary is heard making the generalization and adding: “This shouldn’t come as news, anyone who lives out [of Israel] can tell you the history of non-Jews’ attitude. Of course, there are places where this is more felt, and there are places where this is less felt. In some places sympathy to Jews is more felt; in others, hatred to Jews is more felt.”

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Money-for-divorce video latest scandal for French rabbinate

NOVANEWS

Interim chief rabbi filmed saying $120,000 check was ‘price’ for a woman’s ‘liberty’

Haaretz

A month ago, Michel Gugenheim seemed to have succeeded in helping France’s rabbinate recover from the scandal that ended the tenure of its previous chief rabbi.

One of France’s two interim chief rabbis and the president of the Paris rabbinic court, Gugenheim had helped advance an ambitious restructuring plan to address redundancies within French Orthodox institutions.

He also kept his office mostly out of the news — a reprieve much needed after the resignation last year of a former chief rabbi, Gilles Bernheim, amid revelations that he had committed plagiarism and used a false academic title.

The sense was that Gugenheim had paved the way for the smooth election of a successor.
But then a video emerged that reportedly shows Gugenheim ordering the family of a woman seeking a divorce to write a $120,000 check to a religious charity in exchange for securing a Jewish divorce certificate, or “get,” from her husband.

Dubbed by French media as “L’affaire du Guet,” the scandal broke just weeks before the June 22 election for chief rabbi — a vote that many hoped would help salvage the rabbinate’s reputation following the Bernheim debacle.

Now the rabbinate and its parent organization, the Consistoire — an Orthodox body established as the representative of French Jewry by Napoleon in 1808 — are mired again in controversy and facing emboldened critics demanding reforms.

“While Bernheim’s plagiarisms exposed his own personal shortcomings and failures, the get affair undermines the credibility of the French rabbinate much more profoundly because it flags a systemic failure that touches the lives of ordinary French Jews,” said Jean-Claude Lalou, who heads a group, Future of Judaism, that is pushing for reform of the Consistoire and knew in advance of the family’s plan to record the divorce discussion.

The get affair comes amid a continuing erosion in the prestige of chief rabbis across the Jewish world.

In Israel, a former Ashkenazi chief rabbi, Yona Metzger, was the subject of several fraud investigations while in office, and a former Sephardic chief rabbi, Eliyahu Bakshi-Doron, was indicted in 2012 for allegedly issuing fake rabbinical ordination certificates.
It’s unclear how the latest scandal will affect the race for chief rabbi in France, home to Europe’s largest Jewish community. Ten candidates are vying for the votes of the 300 Consistoire delegates charged with electing the chief rabbi.

Gugenheim is not among the candidates, but the man with whom he was sharing interim chief rabbi duties, Olivier Kaufmann, was considered a leading contender before the get affair exploded.

The current scandal concerns a 28-year-old woman named Anaelle whose family left a check for $120,000 made out to a French Jewish charity with Gugenheim’s Paris beit din, or rabbinic court, on March 18.

Journalists who have seen the video reported that under an arrangement that the beit din helped broker, the money was to be funneled through the charity, with one-third going to the husband and the charity pocketing the difference. The family, in turn, would receive an $80,000 credit from the French government for making a charitable donation.

Annaelle’s family secretly recorded the court proceedings on video and has threatened to file a complaint with police unless the check is returned. The video has not been made public, but journalists who have seen it reported that Gugenheim is heard saying, “This is the price of her liberty.”

Another rabbinical judge, Betsalel Levy, is also heard on the recording saying, “I’m not giving a get until we have the check.”

Gugenheim says the video creates a false impression that he and other rabbinical judges pocketed the money. The demand for funds came from the husband, he said, not the court.
“None of the rabbis received the money, but people read the headlines and think there is graft,” Gugenheim told the news site JSS news.

The Consistoire’s defenders accuse those behind the leaking of the video to the media of trying to damage the institution.

“I strongly deplore these unacceptable attempts to destabilize the Consistoire and discredit the rabbinate of France and its tribunal,” said Sammy Ghozlan, the vice president of the Consistoire.

But Lalou says the next chief rabbi will have to carry out major reforms to both the Consistoire and the rabbinate if he is to salvage their reputations and regain French Jewry’s trust.

“These centralist bodies know no oversight, no transparency and no accountability,” Lalou said. “This is driving away Jews from institutional life precisely at a time of great external challenges.”

Reform needs to happen on four major points, said Martine Cohen, a prominent researcher on French Jewry.

“We are talking about women’s place in religious life; a policy of openness on conversions to Judaism; an overhaul of the rabbinical ordination process and, finally, last but not least, the opening of dialogue with other streams of religious Judaism,” Cohen wrote in an article on the French-language version of The Huffington Post.

Some critics of the Consistoire doubt that it has the capacity to carry out such reforms.
Rabbi Yeshaya Dalsace, a well-known Masorti, or Conservative, rabbi from Paris, cites Bernheim — whom many hoped would bring new openness to the rabbinate and the Consistoire — as an example of French Orthodoxy’s difficulty with change.
“Bernheim wanted change, but all he did was talk. He encountered too much resistance,” Dalsace said.

The reason, according to Dalsace, is that “like the rabbinate in Israel, the Consistoire in France is hostage to radical forces and Hasidic courts whose rabbis make up the Consistoire electorate. It’s like trying to lobby for change within the Communist Party during Bolshevism.”

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US Holocaust: Dumped tons of radioactive material on the Middle East ” VIDEO 3 ”

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The Fundamental Lie of the Afghan War

NOVANEWS
The Bergdahl Swap and Beyond

by GARY LEUPP

As a general rule, U.S. wars are based on lies. Some of these are soon exposed; the lies about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction and al-Qaeda links used to justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq were exposed (to anyone paying attention) within a few months, or at least by the end of 2003. The lie that Spaniards mined the USS Maine in Havana Harbor in 1898, used to justify U.S. war and the colonization of Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, Hawaii and the Philippines, was exposed much later. The lies about the Gulf of Tonkin Incident of 1964, used to justify the escalation of the Vietnam War, were only exposed in the 80s and 90s. The Big Lie surrounding the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan has not yet been adequately exposed and discussed.

The lie was hinted at, rather than expressed outright. The lie was there that was no distinction between the Taliban and al-Qaeda. “We make no distinction between terrorists and those who harbor them,” declared George W. Bush. This is the heart of the Bush Doctrine. The point was to justify the overthrow of a regime by actively confusing distinctions, encouraging people to see the Taliban as actively in cahoots with al-Qaeda plots, hence enemies of America and “terrorists” by definition.

Most people in the U.S. initially bought Barack Obama’s differentiation between the second Iraq War as “war of choice” and “strategic blunder” and the Afghan War as a “necessary war” to punish and crush al-Qaeda.. (That’s what the polls suggested; they never, unfortunately, allowed those polled to describe either conflict as neither a necessary war nor a war of choice but as a “criminal war.”)

But now (or as of February, according to a Gallop poll) 49% of people in this country consider the war beginning in 2001 as a “mistake,” while 48% disagree. If there was once a consensus that Iraq was a mistake, but Afghanistan a good cause, there is a growing realization that there is no “good war,” or at least little likelihood that U.S. troops will enter one on the right side anytime soon. Look at the splendid results of the U.S./NATO assault on Libya, and the ongoing agony of an Iraq wrecked by its encounter with would-be “liberators.”

Sen. John McCain, who is not one to apologize for any war or acknowledge the lies behind them, recently called the five Taliban leaders released from Guantanamo “hard-core military jihadists who are responsible for 9/11.” This is patently false; there is no evidence that any of these men even knew what bin Laden was up to, or had any stake in or desire for attacks on the U.S. Only if you believe that al-Qaeda and the Taliban are one, the distinctions between them unworthy of your attention, can you blithely assign responsibility for the attacks on the released men.

It needs to be repeated again and again: the Taliban is not al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda is not the Taliban.

Al-Qaeda is an Islamist global terror outfit that wants to provoke and intensify conflict between the Muslim world and the West (and Israel). It had bases in Afghanistan dating back to the 1980s, when Osama bin Laden was cooperating with the CIA to overthrow the pro-Soviet regime. Bin Laden returned to Afghanistan in 1996, having been expelled at U.S. order from Sudan; he was welcomed by anti-Taliban friends. When the Taliban swept to power later that year, they allowed bin Laden to remain out of appreciation for his role in the mujahedeen efforts in the 1980s, and in accordance with the Pashtunwali code of hospitality. They accepted funds and other assistance from al-Qaeda but neither steered the other. In all likelihood the regime of Mullah Omar knew nothing about an al-Qaeda attack on the U.S. and subsequent U.S. attack.

The Taliban is a xenophobic Pashtun-nationalist movement rising out of the disorder of the period from 1978 to 1996. It is dedicated to the implementation of Sharia law in Afghanistan, which it thinks the only way to maintain peace and order. For better or worse it has a broad social base, rooted in the traditional religiosity of the culture.

(Of course the Taliban is not alone in implementing Sharia law. Saudi Arabia, once one of the Taliban regime’s major supporters—with Pakistan—also cuts off thieves’ hands and stones adulterers. But are administrators of a system of draconian punishment, specified according to the Qur’an or to their interpretation it by God Himself, necessarily “terrorists”? Does the word retain any utility when applied so broadly?)

Afghan-born U.S. State Department official Zalmay Khalilzad, who served as ambassador to both Afghanistan (2003-5) and Iraq (2005-7)—a neocon close to Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle—once welcomed the overthrow of the Northern Alliance regime and the ascension of the Taliban to power. “The Taliban does not practice the anti-US style of fundamentalism practiced by Iran,” he wrote in a Washington Post op-ed in 1996. “It is closer to the Saudi model.” As a UNOCAL executive after temporarily leaving government Khalilzad attempted to negotiate with Taliban members to construct an oil pipeline from the Caspian Sea through Afghanistan to the Indian Ocean. He entertained Taliban with a barbeque at his Texas ranch. Should he be detained for consorting with terrorists?

McCain calls the Taliban Five “the worst of the worst, the hardest of the hardest” and “the hardest and toughest of all.” He wants us to think that Obama has just unleashed five Osama bin Ladens intent on striking America at the earliest opportunity. Who are they really?

There are three considered “first tier”: one Taliban cabinet minister (former Minister of the Interior, Khalrullah Khairkhwa), and two deputy ministers (former Deputy Minister of Intelligence Abdul Haq Wasiq, and Deputy Minister of Defense Mullah Mohammed Fazl). The other two are considered “second tier” in terms of importance, both senior military commanders: Muhammed Nabi Omari and Mullah Horullah Noori.

Guantanamo documents indicate that they all had (or might have had) some connection to al-Qaeda, mostly following the U.S. invasion when the Taliban united with other, including rival, groups to resist. Wasiq, Fazl and Omari are accused of al-Qaeda ties, but also of ties to Hezb-e-Islami, a formerly a bitter foe of al-Qaeda but willing, from October 2001, to join a sort of coalition. One should not imagine that every attack on U.S./NATO forces that occurs in Afghanistan today is staged by the Taliban. Many others oppose occupation as well.

Wasiq as intelligence minister reportedly sought al-Qaeda assistance to train his ministry’s staff in “intelligence methods” at some point. But he was also in contact with Hezb-e-Islami. Khairkhwa is accused in a 2006 “threat assessment” of probable association with the mysterious al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, but he is also identified as a member of a delegation that met with Iranian officials to discuss Iranian aid to the Taliban and a possible Tehran-brokered alliance between the Northern Alliance (which Iran had supported) and the Taliban against the U.S. (This came to naught.) He is also accused of narco-trafficking. (A number of warlords governing parts of Afghanistan and some of Karzai’s relatives are accused of this as well.)

In one document Noori is described as “associated with…senior al-Qaeda members and other extremist groups.” He “fought alongside al-Qaeda as a Taliban general” versus the Northern Alliance. This makes it sound like the Taliban played a supporting role to al-Qaeda. But the conflict then was principally between the Northern Alliance (the former rulers, who’d toppled the pro-Soviet regime) and the Taliban, with al-Qaeda playing a supporting role.

The worst of the worst? Kate Clark of the Kabul-based Afghanistan Analysts Network disagrees. “Fazl,” she declares, “is the only one of the five to face accusations of explicit war crimes… ” But these are crimes (against Shiite Hazzara civilians) that occurred in Afghanistan before the U.S./NATO invasion. They have nothing to do with the U.S. and were not a cause for that invasion. They are simply grounds to declare Fazl some sort of “terrorist” hoping the public paying attention assumes his terror was somehow directed at the U.S. (and thus the justification for his long confinement).

Defending the Bergdahl-Taliban Five trade, State Department spokesperson Marie Harf explains that “being, you know, mid-to-high-level officials in a regime that’s grotesque and horrific also doesn’t mean they themselves directly pose a threat to the United States.” (She is perhaps thinking of the grotesque and horrific regimes that are dear friends of Washington.)

The former chief military prosecutor at Guantanamo, Air Force Col. Morris Davis from 2005 to 2007, says, “I wasn’t familiar with any of these [Taliban Five] names … we had more than 12 years. If we could have proven that they had done something wrong that we could prosecute them for, I’m confident we would have done it, and we didn’t.” The unprosecutable detainees languished as hostages until they were exchanged for Bergdahl. I doubt they were sent off with apologies for years of detention and torture, during which they were not found guilty of any crimes in any court.

For years U.S. military commanders have acknowledged that the Taliban cannot be defeated militarily. There will have to be a negotiated settlement. Current Afghan president Hamid Karzai, while wary of U.S.-Taliban talks that sideline his weak government, favors negotiations with the Taliban (and even occasionally, when piqued by the U.S., threatens to join the group again, as he had in 1996 as their first foreign minister). As negotiations take place, likely in Qatar, U.S. representatives will have to treat the Taliban with some modicum of respect. (A Taliban report on the handover of Bowe Bergdahl expresses contempt for one of the three U.S. Special Forces involved for refusing to shake hands.)

Respect for reality requires that we clearly distinguish forces and resist such simplistic thinking as that represented by Sen. McCain’s remarks. You cannot tell yourself, “Well, the Taliban and al-Qaeda were aligned at the time of 9/11, so it’s true enough to say these freed men were responsible for 9/11. Or if not, there’s no harm done by saying it—since they’re all evil. You’re either for us or against us.” Such is the culture of lies that continues to churn out wars.

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U.S. Nearly Used Nukes During Viet Nam War

NOVANEWS
The Forever War


by MARJORIE COHN

We came dangerously close to nuclear war when the United States was fighting in Viet Nam, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg told a reunion of the Stanford Anti-Viet Nam War Movement in May 2014. He said that in 1965, the Joint Chiefs assured President Lyndon B. Johnson that the war could be won, but it would take at least 500,000 to one million troops. The Joint Chiefs recommended hitting targets up to the Chinese border. Ellsberg suspects their real aim was to provoke China into responding.  If the Chinese came in, the Joint Chiefs took for granted we would cross into China and use nuclear weapons to demolish the communists. Former President Dwight D. Eisenhower also recommended to Johnson that we use nuclear weapons in both North and South Viet Nam. Indeed, during the 1964 presidential campaign, Republican nominee Barry Goldwater argued for nuclear attacks as well. Johnson feared that the Joint Chiefs would resign and go public if Johnson didn’t follow at least some of their recommendation and he needed some Republican support for the “Great Society” and the “War on Poverty.” Fortunately, Johnson resisted their most extreme proposals, even though the Joint Chiefs regarded them as essential to success. Ellsberg cannot conclude that the antiwar movement shortened the war, but he says the movement put a lid on the war. If the president had done what the Joint Chiefs recommended, the movement would have grown even larger, but so would the war, much larger than it ever became.

“The Most Dangerous Man in America”

Ellsberg, a former U.S. military analyst and Marine in Viet Nam, worked at the RAND Corporation and the Pentagon. He risked decades in prison to release 7,000 top-secret documents to the New York Times and other newspapers in 1971. The Pentagon Papers showed how five Presidents consistently lied to the American people about the Viet Nam War that was killing thousands of Americans and millions of Indochinese. Ellsberg’s courageous act lead directly to the Watergate scandal, Nixon’s resignation, and helped to end the Viet Nam War. Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s National Security Advisor, called Ellsberg “the most dangerous man in America,” who “had to be stopped at all costs.” But Ellsberg wasn’t stopped. Facing 115 years in prison on espionage and conspiracy charges, he fought back. The case against him was dismissed due to egregious misconduct by the Nixon administration. Ellsberg’s story was portrayed in the Oscar-nominated film, “The Most Dangerous Man in America.” Edward Snowden told Ellsberg that film strengthened his intention to release the NSA documents.

The April Third Movement

On April 3, 1969, 700 Stanford students voted to occupy the Applied Electronics Laboratory (AEL), where classified (secret) research on electronic warfare (radar-jamming) was being conducted at Stanford. That spawned the April Third Movement (A3M), which holds reunions every five to ten years. The sit-in at AEL, supported by a majority of Stanford students, lasted nine days, replete with a printing press in the basement to produce materials linking Stanford trustees to defense contractors. Stanford moved the objectionable research off campus, but the A3M continued with sit-ins, teach-ins, and confrontations with police in the Stanford Industrial Park. Many activists from that era continue to do progressive work, drawing on their experiences during the A3M. This year, we discussed the political economy of climate change, and the relationship between the counterculture of the 1960’s and the development of Silicon Valley. Highlights of the weekend included three keynote addresses – Ellsberg’s; one delivered by Stanford political science Professor Terry Karl; and a talk by Rutgers Professor of English and American Studies, H. Bruce Franklin.

“Accountability for war crimes: from Viet Nam to Latin America”

Terry Karl is a Stanford professor who has published widely on political economy of development, oil politics, Latin America and Africa, and human rights. She also testifies as an expert witness in trials against Latin American dictators and military officers who tortured, disappeared and killed civilians in the 1970’s and 1980’s, when their governments were supported by the United States. Karl’s testimonies have helped to establish guilt and accountability for the murders of El Salvador’s Archbishop Romero, the rape and murders of four American churchwomen, and other prominent cases.

Karl quoted President George H. W. Bush, who announced proudly after the first Gulf War in 1991, “The specter of Viet Nam has been buried forever in the desert sands of the Arabian peninsula.” Nevertheless, Karl observed, we have been involved in  “permanent war” since Vietnam, in part because there had been no accountability, abroad or at home, for each of our past wars. The U.S. global military presence around the world, according to Karl, is not there for defense, but rather to maintain the United States “at the top.” No defense can be based on having soldiers in 150 countries.

Beginning with Vietnam, we stopped paying taxes for the wars we fight, Karl said. The Korean War was financed with taxes, but the Viet Nam War was paid for through inflation. This helped to produce the recession that was the basis for the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. Wars in Central America, Iraq and Afghanistan have been “paid for” through debt.  In this respect, permanent war not only threatens our democracy, Karl pointed out, but also our economic future. In one example, Karl noted that the United States fights wars to secure oil and gas; yet the largest consumer of oil in the world is the Department of Defense because of those very wars.

Karl also observed that we have not “won” all of these unpaid wars – if measured against their original objectives. The United States fought in Viet Nam to prevent communist reunification of the country; yet that is exactly what happened. The Reagan administration decided to “draw the line” in El Salvador to prevent FLMN rebels from coming to power; yet the FMLN is the government today.  And the Reagan administration  supported the contras in Nicaragua to prevent the Sandinistas from governing that country;  the Sandinistas are now in control. She predicted we would see similar “victories” in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The cultural memory of the Viet Nam War in the epoch of Forever War”

H. Bruce Franklin was the first tenured professor to be fired by Stanford University, and the first to be fired by a major university since the 1950’s.  Franklin, who was a Marxist and an active member of A3M, was terminated because of things he said at an anti-war rally, statements that, according to the ACLU, amounted to protected First Amendment speech. Franklin, a renowned expert on Herman Melville, history and culture, has taught at Rutgers University since 1975. He has written or edited 19 books and hundreds of articles, including books about the Viet Nam War. Before becoming an activist, Franklin spent three years in the U.S. Air Force, “flying,” he said, “in operations of espionage and provocation against the Soviet Union and participating in launches for full-scale thermonuclear war.” Franklin told the reunion about myths the U.S. government has promulgated since the Viet Nam War. “One widespread cultural fantasy about the Viet Nam War blames the antiwar movement for losing the war, forcing the military to ‘fight with one arm tied behind its back’,” Franklin said. “But this stands reality on its head,” he maintains. Franklin cited the American people’s considerable opposition to the war. “Like the rest of the movement at home,” he noted, “the A3M was inspired and empowered by our outrage against both the war and all those necessary lies about the war coming from our government and the media, as well as the deceitful participation of institutions that were part of our daily life, such as Stanford University.” The war finally ended, Franklin thought, because of the antiwar movement, particularly opposition to the war within the military.

The other two myths Franklin debunked are first, that the real heroes are the American prisoners of war (POW’s) still imprisoned in Viet Nam; and second, that many veterans of the Viet Nam War were spat upon by antiwar protestors when they returned home. The black and white POW/MIA (missing in action) flag has flown over the White House, U.S. post offices and government buildings, the New York Stock Exchange, and appears on the right sleeve of the official robe of the Ku Klux Klan, according to Franklin. “The flag now came to symbolize our culture’s dominant view of America as the heroic warrior victimized by ‘Viet Nam’ but then reemerging as Rambo unbound,” he said. After talking to several Japanese scholars he met on a trip to Japan, Franklin realized he had missed the “most essential and revealing aspect” of the POW/MIA myth. The scholars told him, “When militarism was dominant in Japan, the last person who would have been used as an icon of militarism was the POW.  What did he do that was heroic?  He didn’t fight to the death.  He surrendered.” Franklin told the reunion: “Both the POW and the spat-upon vet become incarnations of America, especially American manhood, as victim of ‘Vietnam,’ which is not a people or a nation but something terrible that happened to us.” He also said that there is absolutely no evidence that any Viet Nam vet was spat upon by an antiwar protestor. “These two myths turned ‘Vietnam’ into the cultural basis of the forever war,” Franklin said. He quoted George H. W. Bush who proclaimed in 1991, “By God, we’ve kicked the Viet Nam Syndrome once and for all.”

The legacy of the Viet Nam War

But, as Karl and Franklin observed, we are now engaged in a “permanent war” or “forever war.” Indeed, the U.S. government has waged two major wars and several other military interventions in the years since Viet Nam. And in his recent statement on U.S. foreign policy, President Barack Obama said: “The United States will use military force, unilaterally if necessary, when our core interests demand it – when our people are threatened; when our livelihoods are at stake; when the security of our allies is in danger.” Obama never mentioned the United Nations Charter, which forbids “unilateral” intervention – the use or threat of military force unless carried out in self-defense or with the consent of the Security Council.

The U.S. military, Karl noted, teaches that the Viet Nam war was a success. And, indeed, during the next eleven years, leading up to the 50th anniversary of that war, the U.S. government will continue to mount a false narrative of that war. [See http://www.vietnamwar50th.com/]. Fortunately, Veterans for Peace has launched a counter-commemoration movement, to explain the true legacy of Viet Nam. [See http://www.vietnamfulldisclosure.org/]. It is only through an accurate understanding of our history that we can struggle against our government’s use of military force as the first, instead of the last, line of defense.

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What Palestinian Unity Is All About

NOVANEWS
The Real Task Ahead


by RAMZY BAROUD

Palestinians are yet to achieve national unity despite the elation over the ‘national unity government’ now in operation in Ramallah.

One has to be clear in the distinction between a Hamas-Fatah political arrangement necessitated by regional and international circumstances, and Palestinian unity. What has been agreed upon in the Shati’ (Beach) refugee camp in April, which lead to the formation of a transitional government in the West Bank in June, has little to do with Palestinian unity. The latter is a much more comprehensive and indispensable notion. Without it, the Palestinian people risk losing more than a unified political platform, but their ability to identify with a common set of national aspirations wherever they are in the world.

Thus, a hurried agreement in Gaza that left many points of contention to be discussed and settled by various sub-committees with uncertain chances of succeeding is hardly the prerequisite to true and lasting national unity.

Most media pundits are mixing up between Palestinian national unity and the ‘unity’ government of 14 ministers which were sworn-in in Ramallah. Most of the supposed technocrats are recognized for their overt or subtle loyalty to Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas. The transitional government is tasked with administering areas in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza.

The PA is allowed to operate in the West Bank under the watchful eye of the Israeli army. In return for allowing the PA a space of operation, PA forces are involved in ‘security coordination’ aimed at securing illegal Jewish settlements, reigning in Palestinian resistance and offering a line of defense for the Israeli army, which in reality is the one and only ruler of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

It is unclear as of yet how the security coordination will affect the way Israel controls Gaza, which thus far has been secured through a hermetic siege intensified since the Hamas election victory in 2006 and the brief Hamas-Fatah civil war in 2007.

Hamas is unlikely to allow a similar security coordination arrangement like the one that is underway in the West Bank, or through which Gaza itself was controlled – by 10 separate PA security branches – before 2006.

In fact, Gazan’s grew resentful of Fatah – then under the control of Mohammed Dahlan and a few notorious Fatah officials – namely because of such practices. Despite the unity agreement, Abbas still sees collaboration with the Israeli army as sacred.

But even if some alternative arrangement is found to prevent another split until the next elections that are scheduled for early next year, what has taken place has hardly qualified as unity.

In recent weeks, the word ‘unity’ has been used in many ways, some erroneous and others quite disingenuous. Hamas and Fatah party officials – all operating with expired mandates – have repeatedly infused a more sentimental meaning of ‘unity’, with few exceptions including that of Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal. The latter, although optimistic about the future potential of the agreement, understands that the transitional government is merely a first step in a long program aimed at the unification of the Palestinian body politic.

Even the New York Times, known for its resolute support of successive Israeli governments, is also urging unity. “If there is ever to be an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement … the Palestinians must be united,” read its editorial, signed by the editorial board, on June 6.

If one evaluates the times vision for Palestinian unity based on its editorial, one is to discover that such ‘unity’ is mainly aimed at serving the joined interests of Israel and the United States. “The United States has to be careful to somehow distinguish between its support for the new government and an endorsement of Hamas and its violent, hateful behavior .. To have some hope of doing that, the United States and Europe must continue to insist that Mr. Abbas stick to his promises and not allow Hamas to get the upper hand.”

The times insists that Hamas cannot play “a more pronounced role” in the future.

Unity tailored towards Israeli interests and American funds is hardly what millions of Palestinians have been wishing for in the last seven years. Needless to say, ensuring that one party dominates another is barely a democratic overture.

But Hamas and Fatah are also at fault. Their absurd infighting and allowing themselves to serve other parties’ agendas is both inexcusable and unforgivable. To think that both parties will continue to dominate the Palestinian leadership landscape for the coming years is not encouraging.

Palestine is not Hamas and Fatah, and Palestinian disunity didn’t start with both of these parties but has been an integral part of the Palestinian national struggle. The fragmentation of the Palestinian political identity is decades-old. It was perhaps the departure of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) from Lebanon in 1982 that accentuated the split between the Palestinian people’s struggle for freedom and their leadership. It was then that Palestinian elitism truly rose to prominence.

Palestine then was reduced to factions, each with its own symbols, mantras, slogans, agendas and funders. The PLO served as a political platform whose sole purpose, at times, seemed to validate the ruling Fatah party, and a particular Tunisia-based branch of that party. The Palestinian parliament in exile – The Palestinian National Council – was later delegated to rubber stamp the political initiatives of Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas, Ahmed Qore and a few others.

The age of Palestinian democracy was mostly over, and became confined to elections held by Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails and local student union elections in the occupied territories.

With a self-imposed mandate, unchallenged by any democratic platform, and validated by the Israeli occupation, the PA ruled the occupied territories as it pleased. The rich became richer, and the poor lined up in front of ATM machines at the end of every month praying that their salaries made it to their bank accounts on time. On many occasions, that was not the case.

On June 5, Hamas and Fatah government employees scuffled with each other and at times with the police because Hamas workers didn’t get paid, while their Fatah counterparts did.

This is hardly the kind of scene that would accompany a state of national unity. For true unity to take place, it has to be shaped entirely by Palestinian national priorities. It cannot be linked to aid, and tribal political allegiances. It should not be aimed to please the US and the EU or to accommodate Israeli security.

True unity would have to go back to the original questions that split Palestinian communities in Palestine and around the world in the first place. It has to contend with important questions concerning Palestinian identity, national aspirations, resistance and the outlook of an entire generation that was born after the signing of the Oslo accords in 1993.

Palestinian unity is not a logistical question, but a major undertaking that requires new faces, new names, new thinking, and dare one says, a new leadership.

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on What Palestinian Unity Is All About

U.S ZIONIST HOLOCAUST IN IRAQ ” VIDEO 2 ”

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The Syrian Vote

NOVANEWS
The People Reject Regime Change


by CHANDRA MUZAFFAR

If one is sincere about resolving the bloody three year-old conflict in Syria, one would regard the outcome of the presidential election held on the 3rd of June 2014 as an opportunity for working out a viable solution.

The election was a genuine endorsement of the leadership of Bashar al-Assad. 73% of eligible voters cast their ballots in the first ever multi-candidate direct presidential election in Syria. Assad secured 88.7 % of the votes. There were no allegations of electoral fraud or manipulation. It is significant that Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan — hosts to the majority of refugees from the on-going war in Syria — voted overwhelmingly for Assad.

It is of course true that those parts of the country which are still in rebel hands could not vote. This would be mainly some parts of rural Syria and one medium-sized city. But all the other cities — and they account for the majority of the population — went to the ballot-box. US officials and the Western media have dismissed the election result contemptuously because a portion of the electorate could not vote, ignoring the fact that the vast majority participated enthusiastically in the polls. They have conveniently forgotten that in the presidential election in Ukraine on the 25th of May millions of Russian speaking voters in the eastern part of the country refused to participate and yet the verdict was endorsed by the centres of power in the West. This is yet another example of blatant double standards.

Instead of rubbishing the election result, Western leaders and commentators should try to find out why the Syrian people showed so much enthusiasm for the election and why they gave so much support to Assad.

One, for the vast majority of Syrians, the election was their repudiation of the war and the killings that have claimed tens of thousands of lives since March 2011. It was their way of affirming their commitment to peace and stability. The proud and dignified Syrian citizen had chosen the ballot-box to appeal to the world to end the war and to usher in peace.

Two, the Syrians know that the only leader who can bring peace and stability to their land is Bashar al-Assad since he has always commanded the support of the majority of his people. The election proved his popularity. In spite of what the Western and most of the West Asian media have been telling us about how the majority Sunnis are revolting against a minority Alawite-Shia leader, most of the Sunnis voted for Assad, as did various minority groups, from Shias to Christians. Assad also has the backing of the armed forces, the public service and the business community.

Three, there is also a great deal of appreciation among the people for the way in which the Assad government has managed to ensure that essential goods and services are available to a broad cross-section of the people in spite of the terrible devastation and destruction caused by the war.

Four, the election result is also a show of appreciation of the role played by the armed forces which has lost at least sixty-one thousand men in the war and which in the eyes of the people has succeeded in protecting the innocent and preventing some brazen massacres. It in no way justifies, it should be emphasized, some of the excessescommitted by the armed forces which a number of us have condemned from the outset.

Five, if Assad won so convincingly it is also partly because the opposition is hopelessly divided. The different armed groups are pitted against each other. There is no common platform. They were not even able to put forward a common candidate in the election.

Six, more than the opposition’s utter disarray it is the barbaric brutality of some of the armed groups revealed in so many episodes in the war that turned a lot of Syrians against them and indirectly increased support for Assad. What has caused even greater revulsion among the people is the claim of these groups that they are the true representatives of Islam.

Seven, since some of these groups are foreign and the foreign hands behind the war are so obvious to most Syrians, rallying around Assad in the election was the people’s response to what they perceive as a massive foreign conspiracy to break Syria’s principled resistance to US helmed hegemony — hegemony that serves the interests of Israel. Ousting Assad is central to the goal of breaking resistance. This is why the people sought through the ballot-box to foil a determined push to achieve regime-change in Damascus.

This, in the ultimate analysis, is the real significance of Assad’s electoral triumph. The Syrian people have defeated a violent, aggressive attempt at achieving regime-change as part of that perpetual plan to ensure US and Western hegemony, especially in a region which is pivotal to their quest for global domination. Apart from Israel which launched a number of air-strikes against Syria in the course of the war, some of the West’s other regional allies like Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey have also played a major role in pursuit of this diabolical agenda.

Given that the US and some of its allies are democracies, will they now concede that since the Syrian people have spoken, they will respect their wishes and cease their pursuit of regime change? It is most unlikely that they would. After all, hegemony has always taken precedence over democracy. Hegemony trumps everything else. Does it matter to the hegemon and its allies that if they continue along this path, thousands more are going to die or become refugees in some other land?

Perhaps one should reach out to ordinary American citizens in the hope that they would persuade their government to put an end to the war and create the conditions for peace in Syria. It may be worthwhile trying this approach. A Pew Research Centre poll conducted in 2013 showed that “70% of Americans oppose arming the Syrian rebels.”  Can they now be convinced that arming rebels against a democratically elected president nullifies everything that a democracy stands for? Can we expect American citizens to share the dream of their Syrian counterparts for an end to war in their land? Will they act to make that dream come true?

Posted in SyriaComments Off on The Syrian Vote

U.S ZIONIST HOLOCAUST IN IRAQ ” VIDEO 1 ”

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