Archive | June 19th, 2014

The Root of Our Foreign Policy Blunders


(Credit: The U.S. Army/cc/Flickr)And so the inevitable is unfolding: a possible collapse of the U.S.-imposed Iraqi state, the apparent triumph of the most brutal extremists in the world, and more to come in Syria, Afghanistan, and possibly Jordan, Mali, Libya, and who knows where else. The first step to recovery — if recovery is even feasible — is an honest reckoning of why this is happening.

The discourse in Washington, as always, will be superficial, partisan, and knowledge-free. The blaming of Obama for leaving Iraq in 2011 will be the Fox News mantra of coming days and weeks (and, judging from the Benghazi flap, for years). Even the New York Times on Wednesday morning — reporting that the forces of the extremists, the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq, or ISIS, had overrun Mosul and were headed toward Baghdad — mentioned that this was another blow to the White House’s faltering foreign policy. But while Obama has his share of missteps, the responsibility for this catastrophe rests with the neocons of the George W. Bush years and the liberal hawks who can’t help but propose war when they see a wrong that needs righting.

Middle East historian Juan Cole explains the tumultuous history in his excellent blog, and makes the useful point that the Iraqi Parliament had rejected the U.S. proposal to keep a residual force in Iraq beyond 2011. Their rejection was rooted in eight years of mayhem that the U.S. invasion wrought. As I have argued exhaustively, the scale of killing was enormous — likely 600,000 or more Iraqis died in those years as a direct result of the war. That and displacement and impoverishment create and sustain bitterness that no amount of training and equipping the Iraqi army can salve. Many people would ask me why the mortality figures were so important (and a source of contention). This is why. The country was left a ruin, torn by sectarian politics and crippled by mistrust and fear and death. It is easy prey for the jihadists.

The second charge against Obama is that he failed to arm the moderate rebels in Syria, thereby giving the extremists an advantage. Obama should not have encouraged rebellion. The human-rights lobby has been at the center of the Arab Spring fiasco, egging on the rebels and feeding the media narrative of despicable despots that needed deposing. That the likes of Al Qaeda has appeared at virtually every newly created power vacuum to wreak its own special havoc seems to have escaped the notice of every do-gooder from San Francisco to Oslo. The same thing happened in Afghanistan 13 years ago, when prominent feminists argued for war to liberate Afghan women. As my colleague Anna Badkhen points out in her brilliant on-the-ground account, The World Is a Carpet, Afghan women don’t need such patronizing attitudes. And, in any case, the Taliban will be back in power in two to three years: war for human rights is increasingly being exposed as an oxymoron.

The question of whether arming the “moderates” among the rebels in Syria would have made a difference in dealing with Assad is anyone’s guess. The argument is that it would put pressure on Assad and his supporters, and enable the “moderates” to defeat ISIS. A bigger civil war might unseat Assad (and might not), but the only certainty of that course is more civilian deaths, already at 200,000, and more immiseration of ordinary Syrians. Meanwhile, our longtime buddies in the Gulf, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar, have been pouring their oil treasures into ISIS and other extremists. Why the U.S. has not used its leverage to stop that is a more important question than why Obama has been reluctant to arm rebels. It is that Gulf pipeline of oil lucre and weapons that has enabled ISIS to win Mosul and Fallujah, march toward Baghdad, and possibly threaten the next obvious target, Jordan.

That all of this was spurred by the invasion of Iraq in 2003 is a truism, though one often smothered by the blame-Obama meme. Much else has contributed to this fiasco, including the Clinton-imposed sanctions on Iraq that weakened society irreparably, the failure to leverage Israel to settle with the Palestinians (which would have isolated Assad), and the absence of an energy policy that would diminish the political and social power of the petro-states. And lest we forget: the arming of the mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 1980s, Reagan’s gift to jihadism that keeps on giving. Arming dodgy rebels has enabled enormous scales death and instability, yet we continue to treat “rebels” as if they were the loyalists in 1930s Spain — a trope much beloved by Christopher Hitchens and other would-be Orwells. The American news media is enamored of this brave narrative too, framing a debate in which a small liberal cohort can shame the president for not arming the Syrians and now will blame him for the disaster in Iraq.

The fundamental lesson here — though much more needs to be explored — is that the root of our blunders is the heavy reliance on military solutions, whether invading countries, imposing sanctions, arming proxies, or propping up authoritarians. The authors of these “solutions” have not all retreated to right-wing think tanks; many are in powerful posts at the UN, the White House, and the presidential campaigns of the future. If we and they don’t grapple with this failure of common sense, the catastrophe will continue to unfold.

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Dear America: It’s Over (Rulers of the World Era)


Photo: From an anti-war protest rally in Dallas Texas in 2003 (Credit: Dean Terry/cc/Flickr)Reinvade, reoccupy, and redestroy Iraq. That’s the solution to the inevitable civil war that happens when the US pulls out? Will we do it until either Iraq is remade in our image or until the US economy, political environment, and culture is also destroyed?

Eight years ago a group of Portland peace activists raised the funds to bring together a number of experts to produce an exit strategy from Iraq. Ours was done, as it turns out, at the same time that the Iraq Study Group did their work. We were just unaware that the government had at long last decided maybe it was time to think Exit Plan. Duh. I expect we were all simply inspired and challenged by the insightful and cogent strategy published shortly before in the widely cited peer-reviewed journal, The Onion.

Still, despite the obvious–and our group, which was informed by military experts and conflict transformation experts alike, noted well that no matter when the US left the Iraqis would have a bloody civil war and settle on a new autocratic government that shot its way to power and repressed its citizenry–it took the US three more years to begin to leave, longer to finish leaving, and now the correctly predicted violent settling-out process is happening in earnest.

Naturally, the US conflict industry is dismayed when the US isn’t spending every last centavo on weaponry and other military profiteering contracts. Time to respond! Go bomb! Send in “advisers.” No-fly attacks, hunt down insurgents with drones and war jets. Remobilize U.S. troops because if there is one glaringly blatant truth, proxy troops no longer work in this post-Cold War era. They seemed to be Just Fine and a great way to drain the American taxpayer when their loyalty was fairly dependable. But the era of “he may be a son of a bitch but he’s our son of a bitch” (ascribed a bit dubiously to FDR about our boy Somoza, the Nicaraguan dictator) is over. Our SOBs are now routinely driven from power by the ballot, the bullet, or the bodies–that is, by the elections we no longer control, by violent insurgencies, or by civil society nonviolent revolution.

Stop it. Stop interfering in other countries. Stop sending arms. Stop the drones. Just support civil society with helpful and requested aid, never guns or tanks or war jets or anti-insurgent helicopters or anti-government rocket-propelled grenade launchers. And for any chance of success, keep US troops at home. Let Iraqis work it through and then try to be a friend to their citizenry with our goods of life. It may not be as fast as the “I’ve got a gun to your head so go vote!” model of spreading “democracy” that is favored by our leaders and our military industrial congressional complex, but it is the only one that actually works. Can we please start now?

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Iraq may ask Iran help against ISIL, says Iraqi foreign minis


Iraq’s Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari

Iraq’s Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari

Iraq’s Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari says the Iraqi government may request Iran’s assistance to counter the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants.

Speaking at a press conference on the sidelines of the 41st session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in the Saudi city of Jeddah on Wednesday, the Iraqi foreign minister said that “everything is possible” in view of Iran’s assistance in the Iraqi battle against terrorists, Reuters reported.

The remarks come as Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has said that the Iraqi nation will push back terrorists and their supporters, stressing that the Islamic Republic will spare no effort to protect holy shrines in Iraq.

“These terrorist groups and those who are supporting them, both in the region and across the world, are no match for the Muslim people of this land (Iraq) and they (Iraqis) will repel them, God willing,” Rouhani said on Wednesday.

The Iranian president also stated that all superpowers, mercenaries and terrorists should know that the great Iranian nation would make every effort to safeguard holy shrines in the Iraqi cities of Karbala, Najaf, Kadhimiya and Samarra.

On June 10, militants from the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant took control of the city of Mosul, the capital of Iraq’s Nineveh Province. They later took control of the city of Tikrit, located some 140 kilometers northwest of the capital, Baghdad.

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people have been forced out of their homes ever since.

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This exchange of Facebook comments is an  excellent  example of how
the filthy Zionist lobby, through his agents, controls all aspects of our media.


Am I the only one to find repeated use of this page to plug a site that equates Israel with Nazism objectionable?Let me make it clear that I abhor the brutal treatment of Palestinians by successive Israeli governments, and favour a democratic secular state in I/P.But the comparison of the current situation with the Holocaust is hyperbolic, politically illiterate and in itself anti-semitic.
  • David Osler Is Mr Phoenix an NUJ member? Or even a leftist of any description? If not, wny is he allowed to spam this Facebook page?
  • David Osler Oh, and I see the site is posting ‘New World Order’ ramblings. That would locate it on the conspiracy theory wingnut right.
  • Christina Zaba aaargh x
  • David Osler The odd thing is, a lot of those who equate Israel’s undoubted repression of the Palestinians with the Holocaust don’t believe the Holocaust happened anyway.
  • John Phoenix i do believe Holocaust happen no moor lies
  • John Phoenix ” anti-semitic it’s a trick we always use it ” See Shulamit aloni Democracy Now may 12, 2013 Can you not delete my cooment please. Yes im let wing but not Zionist lift Wing and i’m NUJ member i get the same righr to post her as you if you do not like it you must start your own face book and i will not post any this is not spam this s posting . you zionist cant handel the truth ever but is this not my problem.The palestinians is the jews of yesterday and the Zionist is the Nazi of today that is nothing to do with the Jews or Anti-semitic
  • Becky Branford Constant spamming without any mediating comment or purpose in initiating discussion should be against the rules of NUJ Left, and this guy should be barred as he has carried on regardless of repeated protests
  • Christina Zaba I agree with you Becky. He can’t spell or punctuate, he can’t write – there’s no way he could be an NUJ member.
  • Mark Whitehead He should be barred in my view. I go to a local philosophy group where we faced the same sort of problem: someone who persistently intervened at great length with his rambling, incoherent, conspiratorial views, mainly based around middle-east politics. We gave him repeated opportunities to change his ways and contribute to the group but in the end we excluded him. You can waste a lot of time wondering what to do about people like this.
  • Becky Branford Except that he has posted again since you first suggested his profile had been deleted?
  • Mark Whitehead Sorry, Donnacha, does that mean he will no longer appear on this site?
  • Becky Branford Facebook is still inviting me to friend him…
  • Mark Whitehead thanks Donnacha DeLong
  • Christina Zaba Thank goodness for that. Cheers Donnacha DeLong
  • David Osler Thanks also. I’d like NUJ Left to be a Froot Loop-free zone if I get involved.
  • Christina Zaba Oh! Who are the remaining admins?
  • Mark Whitehead Dear Donnacha, it would have been very helpful if you had explained this earlier, for the benefit of us non-techies
  • Miles Barter Does anbody want to argue against blocking John Pheonix from the group?


  • John Phoenix Hey from reading all your comments you sound like a right wing gang who controls the so called ‘NUJ’.
  • John Phoenix Just to answer your questions I am a member of NUJ Birmingham branch whatever I posted are articles to do with the freedom of speech. As a member, I do have equal rights to publish articles and it is up to the readers to comment. If you think you can control the Facebook group, I advise you to open your own Facebook group. I see your comment as so disgraceful. Your problem with my posts is not that I spam the page with articles but it is what I publish. One of your colleagues started calling my website as an anti-Semitic website. This is an old Zionist trick to bully those who criticize the racist Zionist regime of Isreal.
    • Mark Whitehead Please will the admins block this person as soon as possible before makes any more ridiculous comments.
    • Christina Zaba I agree.
    • David Osler I repeat, I am *not* a Zionist. I have no problem whatsoever with legitimate criticisms of the actions of the state of Israel.Indeed, I frequently express them myself. But you have yet to demonstrate the existence of an Israeli Auschwitz or Treblinka. …See More
    • Christina Zaba …and I bet he’s not a journalist as he can’t spell (even when he tries quite hard).
      ” Oh This is really RACIST comment ”  Sammi
    • Tom Davies I posted a couple of weeks back warning that I would start deleting posts if they continued at the same volume and in the same manner – ie links, without explanation or comment, to the same site. This person appears to have paid no attention to this. Also, this page has no connection to the official NUJ one – indeed if you’ve paid any attention to the recent debates on here on actual NUJ matters, you’ll see that a wide range of critical opinions exist among members of this group. But you’ve made no call on the NUJ to adopt a policy on anything, other than some bizarre and untrue assertions of what NUJ policy is, so given the mood of the group I’ll let no more of these types of post through
    For Zionist trick see: Shulamit Aloni: ” Anti-Semitics a trick we always use it, ‘  Democracy now May 12, 2013
    Hi Stalingrad,
    Any chance of getting that Zionist Left page taken down please? He was posting under false pretences, brother – this is against NUJ rules and codes and stuff. Please could you sort this out as it’s malicious to take this and plaster it all over people’s google profiles (just like it was malicious to bait people under a false name in the first place). I don’t want to get heavy but this needs to be done. Please help as you’re the best contact. Cheers, Christina

    Stalingrad ONeill

    To Me
    Today at 1:33 PM
    Will you please sort this, like you said you would the other week I’m getting tired of taking the flack for you. It’s not going to go away.
    I find myself irritated I continue to be involuntary involved in your ill advised facebook adventure which continues to rumble on.
    I wish to extradite myself from something that is not of my making and failing your co-operation I will be forced to look for an unilateral alternative


    To Stalingrad ONeill
    Today at 5:04 PM
    Dear Tom,
    Thank you for your e-mail. I can see that copy of your e-mail from Christina to pressure you to ask me to take down my Facebook post. In response to her e-mail I would like to clarify that:
    firstly I did not use a false name (this is a right wing typical lie).
    Secondly, it would be useful if you would advise her to contact Shoah if she wishes, at
    Thirdly, she did not involve you when they illegally breached the data protection procedures in regard to my personal information and
    finally I think that she has no right to dictate what I should and shouldn’t publish.
    Best wishes,


    Sammi for what its worth…..

    That’s brilliant, Stalingrad. I wrote you a message about this earlier, and it seems to have vanished? So here it is again – thanks so much, and it’s good to know that there’s such a human relationship between you. I know Palestinian people find it agonising – as a child of a father who endured two years in a concentration camp and a mother who was deported by cattle truck to Siberia aged just 12, I know a bit about loss and all the anger and fear that go with it. We have a Palestinian refugee journalist in Bristol Branch as well and she’s taught us a lot and it’s not been easy to learn. I would never have made the comments I did if he hadn’t hidden behind a false name and I’d known a bit of the background or who he was, but I’m sorry I did. Thanks again for helping.

    No point in bending me ear about “False names” I am aware and agree with your insistence that Christina’s assertion is wrong, but that’s her logic
    There was a large debate some time previously on NUJ (whichever) contentioniously arguing for and against the use of alias nome de plume’s, nome de gure’s, facebook status names etc. However the nature of these debates, inevitably results in the whole question remaining suspended in the air, with both sides withdrawing to their previously held opinion
    And really I have not got the time or wish to rekindle such a debate with Christina

    Jews do control the media, Hollywood, U.S. foreign policy and the government, in a program akin to the “Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion,” and Jews are a distinct people and have a right to set the world’s agenda on moral issues, a new article in the Jewish newspaper The Times of Israel has announced.

    The article, titled “Jews DO control the media” was written by New York-based Jewish Supremacist Elad Nehorai, who guest writes on that paper and the Huffington Post.

    In it, Nehorai admonishes his fellow Jews for being coy about their power over the media, Hollywood and the U.S. government, in this way:

    “We Jews are a funny breed. We love to brag about every Jewish actor. Sometimes we even pretend an actor is Jewish just because we like him enough that we think he deserves to be on our team. We brag about Jewish authors, Jewish politicians, Jewish directors. Every time someone mentions any movie or book or piece of art, we inevitably say something like, “Did you know that he was Jewish?” That’s just how we roll.

    We’re a driven group, and not just in regards to the art world. We have, for example, AIPAC, which was essentially constructed just to drive agenda in Washington DC. And it succeeds admirably. And we brag about it. Again, it’s just what we do.

    But the funny part is when any anti-Semite or anti-Israel person starts to spout stuff like, “The Jews control the media!” and “The Jews control Washington!”

    Suddenly we’re up in arms. We create huge campaigns to take these people down. We do what we can to put them out of work. We publish articles. We’ve created entire organizations that exist just to tell everyone that the Jews don’t control nothin’. No, we don’t control the media, we don’t have any more sway in DC than anyone else. No, no, no, we swear: We’re just like everybody else!

    Does anyone else (who’s not a bigot) see the irony of this?

    Let’s be honest with ourselves, here, fellow Jews. We do control the media. We’ve got so many dudes up in the executive offices in all the big movie production companies it’s almost obscene.

    Just about every movie or TV show, whether it be “Tropic Thunder” or “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” is rife with actors, directors, and writers who are Jewish. Did you know that all eight major film studios are run by Jews?

    But that’s not all. We also control the ads that go on those TV shows.

    And let’s not forget AIPAC, every anti-Semite’s favorite punching bag. We’re talking an organization that’s practically the equivalent of the Elders of Zion. I’ll never forget when I was involved in Israeli advocacy in college and being at one of the many AIPAC conventions.

    A man literally stood in front of us and told us that their whole goal was to only work with top-50 school graduate students because they would eventually be the people making changes in the government. Here I am, an idealistic little kid that goes to a bottom 50 school (ASU) who wants to do some grassroots advocacy, and these guys are literally talking about infiltrating the government. Intense.

    Now, I know what everyone will say. That everyone tries to lobby. Every minority group and every majority group. That every group has some successful actors and directors. But that’s a far call from saying that we run Hollywood and Madison Avenue. That the Mel Gibsons of the world are right in saying we’re deliberately using our power to take over the world. That we’ve got some crazy conspiracy going down.

    Okay. Fine. So some of that is kooky talk.

    But let’s look at it a bit deeper.

    Maybe it’s true: everyone lobbies. Maybe it’s true there are actors of every ethnicity out there. But come on. We’re the ones who are bragging about this stuff all the time. Can’t we admit that we’re incredibly successful? Can’t we say it to the world?

    I’ll give my theory for why Jews don’t want to talk about their control of the media.

    First of all, as much as Jews like to admit that so many of them are successful, and that so many of them have accomplished so much, they hate to admit that it has to do with they’re being Jewish. Maybe they’ll admit that it has something to do with the Jewish experience. But how many Jews will admit that there is something inherently a part of every single one of them that helps them to accomplish amazing things?

    The ADL chairman, Abe Foxman, was interviewed in a great article about the subject and he said that he “would prefer people say that many executives in the industry ‘happen to be Jewish.’” This just about sums up the party line.

    The truth is, the anti-Semites got it right. We Jews have something planted in each one of us that makes us completely different from every group in the world.

    We’re talking about a group of people that just got put in death camps, endured pogroms, their whole families decimated. And then they came to America, the one place that ever really let them have as much power as they wanted, and suddenly they’re taking over.

    Please don’t tell me that any other group in the world has ever done that. Only the Jews. And we’ve done it before. That’s why the Jews were enslaved in Egypt. We were too successful. Go look at the Torah — it’s right there. And we did it in Germany too.

    This ability to succeed, this inner drive, comes not from the years of education or any other sort of conditional factors, but because of the inner spark within each Jew.

    Now, the reason groups like the ADL and AIPAC hate admitting this is because, first of all, they are secular organizations. Their whole agenda is to prove that every Jew is the same as every other person in the world. I cannot imagine a more outlandish agenda. No, we’re different. We’re special.

    Of course, people hate when anyone says this. They assume that if you’re saying that Jews are special, it somehow implies that they’re better.

    To be honest, I’m not really sure what the word “better” even means. What I do know is that being special simply means a person has a responsibility to do good.

    I think that’s the real reason most Jews are so afraid to admit that there’s something inherently powerful and good about them. Not because they’re afraid of being special. But because they’re afraid of being responsible. It means that they’re suddenly culpable when they create dirty TV shows that sully the spiritual atmosphere of the world. It means that things can’t just be created for the sake of amusement or fun or even “art.”

    Suddenly, we can’t screw up the world.

    The interesting thing is that Jews have done so much for the world in so many other ways. They’ve moved forward civil rights; they’ve helped save lives in Darfur, Haiti and just about everywhere else.

    But that’s not enough. Fixing the world physically is only half the battle.

    Our larger battle, the harder battle, is elevating the world spiritually. And this is what the people that fight with every inch of their soul to prove that Jews are just the same as everyone else are afraid of. It means that we can no longer just “express ourselves.” We’ll have to start thinking about the things we create and the way we act. It means we’ll have to start working together. It means we’ll have to hold one other, and ourselves, to a higher standard.

    The time has come, though. We no longer have to change our names. We no longer have to blend in like chameleons. We own a whole freaking country.

    Instead, we can be proud of who we are, and simultaneously aware of our huge responsibility — and opportunity.”

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The Forgotten Fight Against Fascism


In late 1944 as a high school senior I rushed off to a U.S. Navy recruiting station ready to take on world fascism. Cooler heads insisted I wait until my graduation in June. After boot camp I served in “The Pacific Theater”—Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Hawaii, Saipan, Japan, and the China Sea.

Anyone who has gone through school in the United States knows that history textbooks devote a lot of attention to the so-called “Good War”: World War II. A typical textbook, Holt McDougal’s The Americans, includes 61 pages covering the buildup to World War II and the war itself. Today’s texts acknowledge “blemishes” like the internment of Japanese Americans, but the texts either ignore or gloss over the fact that for almost a decade, during the earliest fascist invasions of Asia, Africa, and Europe, the Western democracies encouraged rather than fought Hitler and Mussolini, and sometimes gave them material aid.

From Hitler’s rise to power, the governments of England and France, with the United States following their lead, never tried to prevent, slow, or even warn of the fascist danger. They started by greeting Japan’s attack on Manchuria with disapproving noises, and continued to trade with Japan. It was a prelude to Japan’s 1937 invasion of China.

Mussolini, seeking an “Italian Empire” in Africa, threw his army and air force against Ethiopia in October 1935. Fascist planes bombed and dropped poison gas on villages. Emperor Haile Selassie turned to the League of Nations and speaking in his native Amharic described fascist air and chemical attacks on a people “without arms, without resources.” “Collective security,” he insisted, “is the very existence of the League of Nations,” and warned “international morality” is “at stake.” When Selassie said, “God and history will remember your judgment,” governments shrugged.

However, in the midst of a worldwide “Great Depression,” citizens in the distant United States were aroused to help Ethiopia. Black men trained for military action—an estimated 8,000 in Chicago, 5,000 in Detroit, 2,000 in Kansas City. In New York City, where a thousand men drilled, nurse Salaria Kea of Harlem Hospital collected funds that sent a 75-bed hospital and two tons of medical supplies to Ethiopia. W. E. B. Du Bois and Paul Robeson addressed a “Harlem League Against War and Fascism” rally and A. Philip Randolph linked Mussolini’s invasion to “the terrible repression of black people in the United States.” A people’s march for Ethiopia in Harlem drew 25,000 African Americans and anti-fascist Italian Americans.

In Chicago on Aug. 31, 1935, as the fascist noose on Ethiopia tightened, Oliver Law, a black Communist from Texas, organized a protest rally in defiance of a ban by Mayor Edward J. Kelly. Ten thousand people gathered and so did 2,000 police. Law began to speak from a rooftop, and was arrested. Then one speaker after another appeared on different rooftops, to shout their anti-fascist messages, and all six were arrested.

By May 1936 before many volunteers or help could reach Ethiopia, Mussolini triumphed and Haile Selassie fled into exile. The Americans devotes a puny two paragraphs of its 61 pages of war coverage to this pre-Pearl Harbor conflict. And the drama of democracyversus fascism in Spain merits another whispered two paragraphs in The Americans.

In July 1936 pro-fascist Francisco Franco and other Spanish generals in Morocco launched a military coup against Spain’s new Republican “Popular Front” government. By early August, Hitler and Mussolini provided vital assistance. In the world’s first airlift, Nazi Germany dispatched 40 Luftwaffe Junker and transport planes to ferry Franco’s army from Morocco to Seville, Spain. Italy’s fleet in the Mediterranean sank ships carrying aid or volunteers to Republican Spain, and 50,000 to 100,000 Italian fascist troops began to arrive in Spain. Hitler and Mussolini had internationalized a civil war—and revealed fascism’s global intentions.

But one of the first lessons learned from Spain was fascist aggressors had nothing to fear from the Western democracies. The Luftwaffe destroyed cities such as Gernika in the Basque region of Spain, and Nazi gestapo agents interrogated Republican prisoners. But English and French officials, and their wealthy corporations with financial ties to Nazi Germany, greeted the fascist march with a shrug, quiet appreciation, or offers of cooperation. In England, Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin prodded Germany and Italy to march east toward the Soviet Union. The British ambassador to Spain told the U.S. ambassador, “I hope they send in enough Germans to finish the war.”

The Nazi Luftwaffe overhead, Franco’s legions rolled toward Madrid and Franco expected a fast victory. But at the gates of Madrid everything changed. Under the slogan “They shall not pass,” members of unions and political and citizen groups formed military units and headed toward the front carrying lunch and a rifle. Madrid’s women, wearing pants and carrying rifles, took part in early skirmishes. Other women ran the first quartermaster corps.

A scattering of foreign volunteers began to arrive: Jewish and other refugees fleeing Nazi Germany or Mussolini’s Italy, some British machine gunners, and athletes fresh from an anti-Nazi Olympics in Barcelona.

By November the volunteer rush became a torrent: An estimated 40,000 men and women from 53 nations left home to defend the Republic. For the only time in history, a volunteer force of men and women from all over the world came together to fight for an ideal: democracy. The volunteers brought a message that ordinary people could resist fascist militarism.

Though most volunteers had little military experience, they hoped their commitment, courage, and sacrifice would persuade the democratic governments to unite against the fascist march, and head off a new world war.

But the Western governments ignored Spain’s plea for “collective security.” And some countries outlawed travel to Spain. France closed its border to Spain so volunteers faced arrest and had to scale the Pyrenees at night. England formed a Non-Intervention Committee of 26 nations that blocked aid to the Republican government, but not to Franco’s rebels.

U.S. policy followed England and France. The United States stamped passports “Not Valid for Spain.” The State Department tried to prevent medical supplies and doctors from reaching Spain. The Texas Oil Company sent almost 2 million tons of oil, most of Franco’s oil needs. Four-fifths of rebel trucks came from Ford, General Motors, and Studebaker. U.S. media outlets, isolationist and wealthy groups, and the Catholic Church cheered Franco’s fight against “Godless Communism.”


In the United States some 2,800 young men and women of different races and backgrounds formed the “Abraham Lincoln Brigade.” Seamen and students, farmers and professors, they hoped that their bravery could turn the tide, or at last alert the world to the fascist drive for world domination. Most made their way to Spain illegally as “tourists” visiting France.

In a time of massive unemployment, lynching, segregation, and discrimination, 90 of the volunteers were African American. “Ethiopia and Spain are our fight,” said James Yates, who fled Mississippi. The United States had only five licensed African American pilots, and two came to join the Republic’s tiny air force (one brought down two German and three Italian planes).

Most of the African American volunteers had marched with white radicals to protest lynching, segregation, and racism, and to demand relief and jobs during the Great Depression. These men and women of color—one was nurse Salaria Kea—formed the first integrated U.S. army.Oliver Law became an early commander of the Lincoln Brigade.

The brave young men and women of the Lincoln and other International Brigades slowed but did not stop fascism. In 1938, fascism’s overwhelming land, sea, and air power defeated the Republic. Many volunteers had died, including half of the Americans, and others suffered serious wounds.

What is remembered as World War II began the next year in 1939, when Germany attacked Poland. It would take a massive, multinational effort to defeat Hitler, Mussolini, and Imperial Japan, and cost tens of millions of lives.

In 1945, world fascism was finally defeated. But for a crucial decade the democracies did not oppose and often emboldened the fascist advance into Manchuria and China, Ethiopia and Spain. But students today don’t learn this. Instead, texts present World War II as an inevitability and the Allies as anti-fascists and saviors of democracy. A fuller history of the failure of the United States to fight fascism at its outset—and even its multifaceted support of fascism—would help students rethink this supposed inevitability. Today’s students deserve more than a few textbook paragraphs describing the fight against fascism before 1939 while the governments of the United States, England, and France encouraged its aggressions.

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Iraq Crisis: Created by Bush & Blair and Bankrolled by Saudi Arabia


Bush and Blair said Iraq was a war on Islamic fascism. They lost

Young men in Baghdad chant slogans against Isis outside the main army recruiting centre yesterday, where they are volunteering to fight the extremist group. (Credit: Karin Kadim/AP)So after the grotesquerie of the Taliban and Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 suicide killers of 9/11, meet Saudi Arabia’s latest monstrous contribution to world history: the Islamist Sunni caliphate of Iraq and the Levant, conquerors of Mosul and Tikrit – and Raqqa in Syria – and possibly Baghdad, and the ultimate humiliators of Bush and Obama.

From Aleppo in northern Syria almost to the Iraqi-Iranian border, the jihadists of Isis and sundry other groupuscules paid by the Saudi Wahhabis – and by Kuwaiti oligarchs – now rule thousands of square miles.

“Bush and Blair destroyed Saddam’s regime to make the world safe and declared that Iraq was part of a titanic battle against ‘Islamofascism.’ Well, they lost.”

Apart from Saudi Arabia’s role in this catastrophe, what other stories are to be hidden from us in the coming days and weeks?

The story of Iraq and the story of Syria are the same – politically, militarily and journalistically: two leaders, one Shia, the other Alawite, fighting for the existence of their regimes against the power of a growing Sunni Muslim international army.

While the Americans support the wretched Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his elected Shia government in Iraq, the same Americans still demand the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad of Syria and his regime, even though both leaders are now brothers-in-arms against the victors of Mosul and Tikrit.

The Croesus-like wealth of Qatar may soon be redirected away from the Muslim rebels of Syria and Iraq to the Assad regime, out of fear and deep hatred for its Sunni brothers in Saudi Arabia (which may invade Qatar if it becomes very angry).

We all know of the “deep concern” of Washington and London at the territorial victories of the Islamists – and the utter destruction of all that America and Britain bled and died for in Iraq. No one, however, will feel as much of this “deep concern” as Shia Iran and Assad of Syria and Maliki of Iraq, who must regard the news from Mosul and Tikrit as a political and military disaster. Just when Syrian military forces were winning the war for Assad, tens of thousands of Iraqi-based militants may now turn on the Damascus government, before or after they choose to advance on Baghdad.

No one will care now how many hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been slaughtered since 2003 because of the fantasies of Bush and Blair. These two men destroyed Saddam’s regime to make the world safe and declared that Iraq was part of a titanic battle against “Islamofascism.” Well, they lost. Remember that the Americans captured and recaptured Mosul to crush the power of Islamist fighters. They fought for Fallujah twice. And both cities have now been lost again to the Islamists. The armies of Bush and Blair have long gone home, declaring victory.

Under Obama, Saudi Arabia will continue to be treated as a friendly “moderate” in the Arab world, even though its royal family is founded upon the Wahhabist convictions of the Sunni Islamists in Syria and Iraq – and even though millions of its dollars are arming those same fighters. Thus does Saudi power both feed the monster in the deserts of Syria and Iraq and cosy up to the Western powers that protect it.

We should also remember that Maliki’s military attempts to retake Mosul are likely to be ferocious and bloody, just as Assad’s battles to retake cities have proved to be. The refugees fleeing Mosul are more frightened of Shia government revenge than they are of the Sunni jihadists who have captured their city.

We will all be told to regard the new armed “caliphate” as a “terror nation.” Abu Mohamed al-Adnani, the Isis spokesman, is intelligent, warning against arrogance, talking of an advance on Baghdad when he may be thinking of Damascus. Isis is largely leaving the civilians of Mosul unharmed.

Finally, we will be invited to regard the future as a sectarian war when it will be a war between Muslim sectarians and Muslim non-sectarians. The “terror” bit will be provided by the arms we send to all sides.

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Ruby Dee on the Psyche of Black America


The actress and civil rights activist passed away yesterday at the age of 91

The award-winning actress and civil rights activist Ruby Dee died today [yesterday, June 12] at the age of 91. Dee’s career spanned seven decades, and her film credits include The Jackie Robinson Story (1950), A Raisin in the Sun (1961), Do the Right Thing (1989) and American Gangster (2007).

In 1984, Dee and her late husband Ossie Davis joined Bill for a two-hour special, The Second American Revolution, about the civil rights struggle, an issue the couple knew well. They were master and mistress of ceremonies at the 1963 March on Washington, and were friends with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.

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Wake Up America: US Detains Thousands of Young Migrants Seeking Safety, Family Reunification


U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports over 47,000 unaccompanied children have been detained so far this year after crossing the border, almost double the number for all of 2013 and almost five times the number from 2009. President Obama has described the situation as a “humanitarian crisis.” Some of the children have been detained in shocking conditions. Over 1,000 children are reportedly being held at a warehouse in Nogales, Arizona, some sleeping in plastic containers. Democracy Now! speaks to Jose Luis Zelaya, who fled Honduras in 2000 at the age of 13 in search of his mother. He traveled unaccompanied through Central America and finally reached Texas four months later. Zelaya is now a Ph.D. student at Texas A&M in the Department of Education. Democracy Now! also speaks to Sonia Nazario in Los Angeles, California. She is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of “Enrique’s Journey: The Story of a Boy’s Dangerous Odyssey to Reunite with His Mother.”

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Under Cover of Secrecy, Detainees Moved From Afghanistan’s ‘Forgotten Guantanamo’


Estimated 38 detainees left to languish in Bagram prison notorious for torture and abuse

– Sarah Lazare

Multi-bed housing at Bagram prison (Photo: US State Department / Creative Commons)

The United States has moved a dozen people held at Afghanistan’s notorious Bagram prison to their countries of origin, leaving approximately 38 non-Afghan detainees to languish behind bars, Reuters revealed Friday.

President Obama informed U.S. Congress of the transfers in a letter delivered on Thursday. Information about the repatriations was not disclosed to the public, in keeping with the intense secrecy surrounding this detainee population.

According to an anonymous U.S. defense official who spoke to Reuters, detainees were returned to France, Kuwait, and Pakistan at the end of May. The conditions of their repatriation, the length of their incarceration, and the identities of those moved were not immediately clear.

While the U.S. ostensibly handed partial control over the prison to Afghan authorities last year, it continues to detain non-Afghans held at the facility, which has been referred to as the Forgotten Guantanamo.” The men are believed to have been detained in Afghanistan or transferred by the CIA to the prison, where they are stripped of their legal rights and, in many cases, held in legal limbo without charge or trial.

The prison is known for torture and abuse, including sleep deprivation, beatings, sexual assault, rape, and humiliation.

The fate and identities of the remaining detainees, who hail from Yemen, Tunisia, Pakistan, and Russia according to Reuters, are still unknown.

As Spencer Ackerman recently pointed out in the Guardian, President Obama’s announcement last month that he will extend the U.S. war in Afghanistan for at least another two years could force many of those held at Bagram prison to face longer incarceration.

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Hillary Clinton Sides with NSA over Snowden Disclosures


Likely presidential candidate criticizes whistleblower for not going through proper channels and defends US global surveillance practices

By: Sarah Lazare

Hillary Clinton (Photo: Wikimedia / Creative Commons)Likely 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has taken a firm stance against the actions of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, denying his revelations have brought any positive impacts and slamming him for accepting asylum in Russia.

Speaking with NPR‘s Terry Gross on Thursday, Clinton claimed Snowden could have “expressed his concerns” in other ways “by reaching out to some of the senators or other members of Congress or journalists in order to convey his questions about the implementation of the laws surrounding the collection of information concerning Americans’ calls and emails.”

Her comments sparked criticism from progressives, journalists and civil liberties advocates.

“[Clinton] is just piling on with others who criticized Snowden, not recognizing that if it were not for him and his courageous disclosures, we wouldn’t even know our government is routinely violating our 4th amendment rights,” Matt Rothschild, senior editor of The Progressive magazine, told Common Dreams.

The former U.S. Secretary of State defended U.S. mass surveillance, stating, “collecting information about what’s going around the world is essential to our security.” She added, “The pieces about the metadata collection, the other impacts on Americans, is a small sliver of what was stolen. Most of what was stolen concerned the surveillance that the United States undertakes, totally legally, against other nations.”

Clinton condemned Snowden for leaving “first to China, then to Russia—taking with him a huge amount of information about how we track the Chinese military’s investments and testing of military equipment, how we monitor the communications between al-Qaida operatives.”

While the high-profile Democrat condemned the wiretapping of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone, and claimed that she favors a discussion of spying through the appropriate channels, she refused to acknowledge positive development from Snowden’s revelations.

According to Rothschild, “To say that he should have gone to elected officials or other members of the media is to say he should have just gone through the safest channels for the establishment. As it is, he went to legitimate journalists who are doing what journalists are supposed to do, which is to tell the American people what our government is up to.”

And Kevin Gosztola, writing for on FireDogLake on Friday, challenges Clinton’s assertions about the choices available to Snowden:

Clinton does not even begin to fathom the possibility of retaliation for talking to members of Congress. She does not recognize that he would have received no “independent due process hearing or day in court” and it would have been very easy for the NSA to push him out of his job or fire him and ensure he never worked another position in government in which a security clearance was required.

Twitter commentators also jumped into the debate.


Rothschild adds, “This isn’t surprising from Hillary Clinton, who is more hawkish on foreign policy and national security than President Obama. People should not be deluded about who she is and what kind of president she would really be.”

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