Archive | August 24th, 2014

‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot’: A Call For Nation-Wide Action in Face of Rising ‘Epidemic’


Dream Defenders: “Police are literally killing our communities and we must take action”

(Image: Screen Shot / Dream Defenders)

“The murders of unarmed people in our communities has reached epidemic numbers.”

This is the warning that kicks off a national call (via video) from the Dream Defenders—the group that grabbed the national media spotlight last year when its members launched protests against Stand Your Ground Laws, including by occupying the office of Florida Governor Rick Scott.

Now, to honor the lives of Mike Brown, John Crawford, Eric Garner, Ezell Ford, and others across the country who have fallen victim to deadly violence at police hands, they are calling for a national campaign—Hands Up, Don’t Shoot. “We are prisoners of a war being waged on communities of color and the poor,” states the campaign website. “We are filled to the brim with frustration, passion and anger as we stand on the frontlines. Police are literally killing our communities and we must take action.”

The Dream Defenders are demanding, in their own words:

1. Obama: “Do the right thing.” Go to Ferguson and meet with local black and brown youth.

2. Eric Holder: Meet with local black and brown youth across the country who are dealing with “zero tolerance” and “broken windows” policing.

3. Ensure transparency, accountability, and safety of our communities by requiring front-facing cameras on police departments with records of racial disparity in stops, arrests, killings, and excessive force complaints.

4. Cops need consequences too. Police officers who discharge their weapon on an unarmed person should be suspended without pay pending further investigation, and their name and policing histories should be made available to the public.

5. Tanks and tear gas don’t ever belong in our communities. America should not be going to war with its citizens. Demilitarize all police departments.

6. Police should be representative of the communities they are tasked to protect and serve and community members should have real power in citizen review boards.

What does it take to work towards these goals? Watch this video to find out.

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IfTheyGunnedMeDown: Twitter Users Criticize Media Portrayals of Minority Deaths


Hashtag protests media depiction of black shooting victims as stereotypes

Twitter users start campaign #IfTheyGunnedMeDown to criticize media portrayal of black youth (Photo: Twitter)

In the wake of Michael Brown’s shooting death at the hands of a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri last weekend, a new movement on Twitter is criticizing media portrayals of young black Americans as thuggish and violent with the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown.

Started by Twitter user @CJ_Musick_Lawya, #IfTheyGunnedMeDown is populated by users posting two pictures of themselves, side by side, showing them in contrasting images — one clean-cut and accomplished, the other appearing stereotypically “thuggish.” The hashtag accompanying the photos questions which image the media would use, out of context, in the case of their death.


The movement started as a way to draw attention to numerous news outlets’ use of an image of Brown holding his fingers outspread in a peace sign, which many referred to as a “gang sign.” The social media response to the photo, as well as to the larger trend of the publication of photos that show black victims of violence as “violent thugs with gang and drug affiliations”, went viral quickly; the New York Times reports that #IfTheyGunnedMeDown has been used on Twitter more than 168,000 times.

Tyler Atkins, a 17-year-old student at the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston, joined the campaign by posting a photo of himself in a tuxedo, holding a saxophone, next to an image that showed him stone-faced with a bandana tied around his head and his finger pointed at the camera. Atkins told the Times that “Had the media gained ahold of this picture, I feel it would be used to portray that I was in a gang, which is not true at all… This affects me deeply because the stories of Mike Brown, Renisha McBride, Trayvon Martin, Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo and many more could have been me.”

“They’re portrayed as if they deserved it, cop versus robbers, good guys versus bad guys,” Jeremy Connally, a University of Texas computer science student, told the Times.

Trayvon Martin’s depiction in the media was also highly criticized; like Brown, he was implied to be a thug, with news outlets circulating images of him shirtless, wearing gold grills on his teeth, and blowing smoke into the camera.

In the same way that Brown is being portrayed as a negative stereotype, “[t]here were no photos of Trayvon smiling with his family members or being just your average happy teen, which his family members said he was,” writes Yesha Callahan of The Root.

Callahan continues:

You’d be hard-pressed to find mainstream media showing Brown at his high school graduation or with members of his family. Ironically, all of those photos exist courtesy of Brown’s Facebook page. Unfortunately, because of Ferguson police, we’ll never be able to see a photo of Brown attending his first day of college today.

Headlines as well as images have been culpable in perpetuating negative portrayals of the deaths of minorities, say critics. Many Twitter users admonished the Associated Press last week for publishing an article on the Renisha McBride trial titled, “Suburban Detroit homeowner convicted of second-degree murder for killing woman who showed up drunk on porch.”

Fueled by the large Twitter base of black users often referred to collectively as “Black Twitter,” a campaign emerged to satirize insensitive media headlines. “Police Officer Shoves Black Woman To The Ground; Ground Survives,” reads one message. “Black youth charged with stealing police bullets: Found hidden in torso,” reads another. “Overly Friendly New York City Police Hug Drug Dealing Man To Death.” “[M]illions of Africans complain after free cruise to the Americas; slave traders find them ‘ungrateful’.”

On Tuesday, President Barack Obama called Brown’s death “heartbreaking.”

“I know the events of the past few days have prompted strong passions, but as details unfold, I urge everyone in Ferguson, Missouri, and across the country, to remember this young man through reflection and understanding,” Obama said in a press statement. “We should comfort each other and talk with one another in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.”

The St. Louis chapter of the NAACP also encouraged people on Twitter to use  #blacklivesmatter, another hashtag quickly becoming viral in blogs and on social media.

Ferguson police chief Thomas Jackson had told reporters on Monday that the department would release the name of the officer who killed Brown by 12pm the next day. But in a sudden announcement Tuesday, Jackson reneged, claiming that he feared for the officer’s safety after alleged threats on social media.

#IfTheyGunnedMeDown is the second message to emerge from the protesters marching against police brutality in the St. Louis suburb this week. Protesters have also been addressing the armed forces descending on their peaceful demonstrations with the simple request of, “Don’t shoot me!” They write it on t-shirts and chant it in unison, holding their hands in the air to show they are unarmed.

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Following I$raHell Assault on Gaza, ‘Freedom Flotilla’ to Sail Against Siege


‘It is the responsibility of civil society worldwide to sail to Gaza.’

Freedom flotilla Gaza’s Ark shown partially submerged in Gaza Port following an April attack. The boat was completely destroyed by Israeli air strikes in July. But this week the Freedom Flotilla Coalition announced plans to set sail to break the siege from an undisclosed location. (Photo courtesy of Gaza’s Ark)

Following Israel’s latest military assault on Gaza, civil society groups from around the world say they are moving forward with plans to break the blockade on this besieged strip by sailing a “freedom flotilla” into Gaza Port.

At a meeting in Istanbul, Turkey this week, the international Freedom Flotilla Coalition (FFC) and numerous other groups came to the conclusion that “it is the responsibility of civil society worldwide to sail to Gaza,” according to a press statement. They committed to making the voyage during 2014, which has been coined by the United Nations as the “International Year of Solidarity With the Palestinian People.”

While the group did not publicly disclose a launch location or date, they announced that they expect participation from civil society organizations across the globe — from Greece to South Africa to Jordan to Malaysia—as a counter to “the complicity of world governments” in the blockade on Gaza.

“Calls to end the blockade of Gaza need to move from words to actions,” said Ann Ighe, chairperson of Ship to Gaza and member of the FFC. “We invite all interested citizens worldwide to participate in this initiative in any way you can.”

Israel’s month-long military assault on Gaza, currently stalled by a tenuous ceasefire, has left at least 1,939 Palestinians dead, 9,886 wounded, over 200,000 displaced, and more than 10,000 Palestinian housing units destroyed or severely damaged. United Nations officials estimate that at least three-fourths of Palestinians killed in Gaza are civilians and one third are children.

Another freedom flotilla—Gaza’s Ark, which Palestinians planned to sail from the Gaza Port to break the siege—was one of the many civilian targets hit by Israeli air strikes in July. The shelling, which destroyed the boat, followed a previous attack that partially sunk the boat in April. David Heap, Canada-based spokesperson for Gaza’s Ark, told Common Dreams that Palestinian organizers on the ground plan to continue the campaign “once they are able to concentrate on something other than surviving another day.”

The 1.7 million residents of Gaza — one of the most densely populated areas on earth—were already living under a U.S.-backed military and economic siege, which has escalated since 2007, cutting off residents from public goods including clean water and medical supplies.

“We are sailing against the sea blockade because there is no possibility of a peaceful future without freedom of movement for Palestinians,” said Heap.

Previous attempts to sail against the siege have been met with violent attacks, including a2010 Israeli assault on the Mavi Marmara ship sailing from Turkey that killed nine people and injured dozens, sparking global condemnation.

“We urge all governments to defend Human Rights and the right of the Palestinian people to freedom of movement, to facilitate the sailing of our ships to Gaza,” said Ehab Lotayef of the FFC. “It is their responsibility.”

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Cold Warrior Criticizes Cold War and Drug War, Hires Cold Warrior to Promote Drug War


“Forum Debate: Winning the War on Drugs: Otto Perez Molina” (Photo: World Economic Forum)

After penning an op-ed which blames the U.S. backed cold war and drug war for leading to the recent surge in migration from Central America, the Guatemalan President has hired a cold warrior to lobby the U.S. for increasing drug war cooperation. Confused yet? Okay, let’s start over.

Last week, Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina wrote an op-ed in the Guardian arguing that the U.S. shared responsibility for a legacy that has spurred the current migration crisis involving the surge of unaccompanied Central American children arriving at U.S. borders:

…the so-called cold war had one of its hot spots in Guatemala…Communist and anti-communist ideologies created in Guatemala one of the bloodiest conflicts in Latin America, with weapons and money mostly from countries outside the region. More damaging was that for decades governments diverted resources from social and economic programs to security and defense.

Nonetheless, after the curse of the cold war, we faced another war: the war on drugs. Again based on ideological motivations, this new war diverted scarce funding from policies to foster education, health and employment to programs to block the flow of drugs from producer countries in South America to the consumer countries in the north. The failure of the war on drugs is widely recognized today, both for its limited capacity to stop drug flow, and its terrible consequences, expanding violence, corrupting institutions and weakening the rule of law.

While Perez Molina makes some fine points in his op-ed, he also completely leaves out his own role in the exact policies he’s criticizing. During the Cold War, Molina was a Guatemalan military officer involved in a “scorched earth” campaign that resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and he has even been personally linked to serious human rights violations from this time period. Pot, meet kettle.

The situation took a turn for the ironic this week when O’Dwyers reported that Guatemala had hired notorious and far-right cold-warrior Otto Reich to lobby on the government’s behalf in Washington. Reich, who’s also been pretty much at the center of every lousy U.S. policy in the region since the Cold War, will be paid over $100,000 to, among other things:

Design a strategy to move forward on the change of narrative from Guatemala to Washington, D.C., allowing representatives in the North American political parties that are willing to abandon the reference to Guatemala of the 1970’s and 1980’s, as well as the last century, and are eager to talk about the present and future of Guatemala of the 21st century.

Yeah, let’s forget that whole time period where the current president of Guatemala was out there (allegedly) committing human rights abuses. It’s all about the future, where Guatemala cares more about economic and social programs, right?

But then there’s this: according to the lobbying disclosure document, Reich will help, “[d]evelop a strategy that can advance military cooperation between the United States of America and Guatemala…” In other words, Reich will help bolster support for increasing military support for those failed drug war policies that, according to Molina, “diverted scarce funding from policies to foster education, health and employment…”

The lobbying contract between Guatemala and Reich was signed in mid-July, so when Molina wrote that Op-ed, Reich was already his lobbyist. Here’s the disclosure document so you can go see what other lovely things Reich will be doing on behalf of Guatemala.

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The Militarization of Law Enforcement in America: Blowback in Ferguson


Global Research

The fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager and the ensuing protests in Ferguson, Missouri has rocked America. Even the mainstream media with its aversion to the truth, has been forced to address the militarization of the police in America – albeit years too late.

This is a short call from informing the mainstream media that the country has been living under pseudo martial law for decades.

On April 13, 2013, the ACLU (Shasta Chapter) invited me to be their keynote speaker to talk about government secrecy, drones and militarization of America. The Ferguson shooting and its coverage it the media prompted me to highlight some of the points made during that talk as they relate to today’s events.

Historians and political scientists have warned about dangerous war fever sweeping the United States. America’s entanglements overseas, its imperial ambitions, and the more recent “global war on terror”, a war of indefinite duration against an ill-defined shifting enemy, with no specific definition of victory, poses a grave danger to the very character of American government and society, unraveling the fabric of the Constitution.

The framers of the Constitution recognized such dangers when they carefully subordinated the military to civilian authority and attempted to limit the power of the President to initiate war. Gregory Foster, a former Army officer and West Point graduate who now teaches national security studies at the National Defense University in Washington said that the principle of civilian control of the military—an early building block of American democracy- has been reversed and become the civilian subjugation to the military.

Over half a century ago, Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson concluded “by giving way to the passion, intolerance and suspicions of wartime, it is easy to reduce our liberties to a shadow, often in answer to exaggerated claims of security.”

That day is here. Aside from constant surveillance, and the notorious “kill list”, war has been internalized and the militarization of the police force has put every American in danger. The biggest threat to Americans now comes from those who are paid to protect them. A threat which has been building for decades.

During the Clinton administration Congress passed what’s now known as the “1033 Program. The 1033 Progam formalized Reagan administration’s directive to the Pentagon to share surplus military gear with domestic police agencies. Since then, millions of pieces of military equipment designed for use on a battlefield have been transferred to local cops — SWAT teams and others — including machine guns, tanks, and armored personnel carriers. The Pentagon’s 1033 program has exploded under Obama.

Clinton also created the “Troops to Cops” program, which offered grants to police departments who hired soldiers returning from battle, contributing even further to the militarization of the police force. But what is most alarming about the militarize police their training.

Althuogh the role of the police is to ‘protect and to serve’, they are being taught to kill. Lt. Col David Grossman (retired U.S. Army) is one such teacher. Grossman, unapologitacally, told Front Line:

“Prior preparation is the heart of what I do. I teach law enforcement. Today I just came from a conference where I trained 700 SWAT cops. And most of what I do is I train military and law enforcement in what I call the bulletproof mind. Just as today we have body armor that the guys in World War II didn’t have, the same way we can have mental preparation that they didn’t have. And this bulletproof mind is vital. Prior preparation is that one variable in the equation that we can control ahead of time, and one of the key things is embracing the responsibility to kill.”

“I tell my soldiers, I tell my cops: “You’ve got the most difficult decision any human being will ever face. You have to decide whether or not to kill another human being.”

Well equipped, trained, and encouraged by the likes of [now former] Mayor Michael Bloombergand New York City police commissioner Raymond Kel who proudly brag of “hav(ing) my own army in the NYPD” and who used that army to spy on peaceful Occupy Wall Street protestors.”, it should come as no surprise that aSWAT team should blow a hole in a 2-year old, or the police kill an unarmed teenager, and all other horrific acts of violence we witness every day being committed by the cops.

So why has the media been silent on the militarization of police up to this point? Well, they are the watchdogs of acceptable ideological messages, responsible for manufacturing consent – Their goal is to control the news and information available to society by using censorship and propaganda. Big media is not designed to serve the welfare of the public.

So why break the silence now? The internet has made it virtually impossible to hide facts, and quite possibly, mainstream media has decided to do some damage control and take over the reins in order to control the flow of information. Regardless of what big media wants us to believe, what we witness is a blowback. Our wars have come home to roost.

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I$raHell Real Target is Not Hamas

It’s Any Possibility of Palestinian Statehood

All colonial settler states are based on the violent dispossession of the native peoples – and as a result, their fundamental and overriding aim has always been to keep those native peoples as weak as possible. Israel’s aim for the Palestinians is no different.

Palestinian statehood is clearly an obstacle to this goal; a Palestinian state would strengthen the Palestinians. Genuine sovereignty would end Israel’s current presumed right to steal their land, control their borders, place them under siege, and bomb them at will. That is why Netanyahu’s Likud party platform “flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river.”; that is why Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated for even suggesting some limited self-governance for the Palestinians; and that is why every proposal for Palestinian statehood, however limited and conditional, has been wilfully sabotaged by successive Israeli governments of all hues.

Within three years of the 1993 Oslo declaration, for example, which promised self-governance for Palestinian areas, foreign minister Ariel Sharon was urging “everyone”  to “grab as many hilltops as they can” in order to minimise the size and viability of the area to be administered by Palestinian Authority. The 1999 election of a Labour Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, made no difference, ushering in “a sustained commitment by Israel’s government to avoid full compliance with the Oslo agreement”, according to Jimmy Carter, most notably in the form of the greatest increase in illegal Israeli settlements that had yet taken place. The popular story that Barak had made a ‘generous offer’ on Palestinian statehood at negotiations in Taba in 2001, turned out to be a complete myth.

In the 2000s, the stakes were raised by the discovery of 1.4trillion cubic metres of natural gas in Gaza’s territorial waters, leading Israel to immediately strengthen its maritime blockade of Gaza to prevent Palestinian access to the reserves. But Palestinian sovereignty over this gas would obviously enormously strengthen the economic position of any future Palestinian state – and thus made the Israelis more determined than ever to prevent such a state from coming into being.

The Saudi peace plan, then, in 2002, turned out to be something of a problem for Israel. Accepted by 22 members of the Arab League, and offering complete normalisation of Israeli-Arab relations in exchange for a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders (just 22% of historic Palestine), it was welcomed by the US, and followed up with a statement by George W. Bush in support of a Palestinian state – the first such statement by any US president. This does not imply that the US is in any way committed to genuine Palestinian sovereignty. What the US seeks is rather a thoroughly compromised entity, devoid of all significant attributes of statehood (border control, airspace control, etc) and dependent on Israel, but which it would call a state – and thus would provide the Arab states with a pretext for overt collaboration with Israel . As Jeff Halper has explained, for the US, as for the Saudis, the idea behind the Saudi peace was actually to strengthen Israel, by facilitating Arab support for Israeli-US action against Iran, and thus establishing solid Israeli hegemony across the entire Middle East. In other words, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states wanted a (feeble) Palestinian state to come into existence, in order to justify the collaboration with Zionism being demanded of them by their US masters. But Israel does not particularly want or perceive the need for Arab support. Indeed, the image of the plucky little victim, besieged by ‘hostile enemies’ on all sides, is a fundamental plank of the Israeli national psyche, necessary to ensure the continued identification of the population with the militaristic state and its expansionist policies. And more importantly, in the zero-sum game of settler-vs-native politics, any Palestinian state, however toothless, represents an intolerable retreat for the Zionists.

This problem – of a growing consensus in support of a Palestinian state – was compounded for Israel in 2003, when the so-called “Quartet” (US, the UN, Russia and the EU) produced their ‘roadmap’ for peace, based, like the Saudi plan, on the principle of a Palestinian state being a fundamental prerequisite for lasting peace. Whilst the Israelis publicly accepted the ‘roadmap’, behind the scenes they listed 14 ‘caveats’ and preconditions which rendered it meaningless and unworkable –divide-and-ruin-book-cover

effectively refusing to make any concessions whatsoever until the Palestinians were completely disarmed and their major organisations dissolved, whilst other caveats stripped any ‘state’ that might somehow emerge of all major attributes of statehood and sovereignty, just in case.

Since then, there have been various attempts by the US at restarting ‘negotiations’ on this roadmap, despite Israel’s obvious hostility to its declared aim of Palestinian statehood. In the latest round, beginning in July 2013, the Palestinians – who had already conceded the 78% of historic Palestine conquered before 1967 – even agreed to drop their demand that talks should be based on the 1967 borders. Yet none of this made any difference to Israel, who worked hard to scupper the negotiations as best they could. As historian Avi Shlaim put it, “During the nine months of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks orchestrated by secretary of state John Kerry, Netanyahu did not put forward a single constructive proposal and all the while kept expanding Israeli settlements on the West Bank. Kerry and his adviser, General John Allen, drew up a security plan that they thought would enable Israel to withdraw from most of the West Bank. Israel’s serial refusnik dismissed it contemptuously as not worth the paper it was written on.” After nine months of this futile enterprise in self-humiliation, John Kerry threw in the towel in desperation, saying the two sides would have to work it out between themselves.

Israel’s excuse for its reluctance to take negotiations seriously has always rested on two planks: a) Palestinian ‘terrorism’ and b) Palestinian ‘disunity’. Both of these, Israel claims, means it has no ‘partner for peace’; no one to negotiate with – either because they are terrorists, or because there is no single entity representing the Palestinian population who they can talk to. In 2006, following the election of Hamas, the US and EU effectively supported this line, and joined forces with Israel in refusing to recognise Hamas as the governing body of the Palestinian Authority. Likewise, when a unity government was formed with Fatah the following year (combining the two parties who together represented 86% of the popular vote), it was not recognised as legitimate by Israel’s international backers who instead supported a government led by Salam Fayyad, whose party had gained just 2% in the previous year’s election.

However, reaction to the recent unity government announced in April this year was very different. A government of ‘technocrats’ – comprising not a single Hamas member – was endorsed by both Fatah and Hamas in an attempt to end the isolation and strangulation of the Gaza strip. As noted in the Independent at the time, this “new government would “adhere to the conditions of the Middle East Quartet [the EU, UN Russia and US], recognise Israel, ratify all signed agreements and renounce violence” according to a “senior Palestinian official” quoted on the Times of Israel site. As such, it was welcomed by both the US and the EU. Israel no longer had ‘Palestinian disunity’ as an excuse for refusing to engage in peace talks. Nor did they have ‘terrorism’ as an excuse, as Hamas had steadfastly stood by the terms of the 2012 ceasefire, not only ceasing their own rocket fire, but also successfully preventing rocket attacks by other Palestinian groups in Gaza. And all this despite continuous violations of the ceasefire by Israel beginning before the ink was even dry – from a refusal to lift the blockade (as required by the ceasefire terms), to continued attacks on Palestinians, killing 4 and maiming nearly 100 within the first three months of the ‘ceasefire’ alone. Even after Israeli attacks were stepped up over the past year, with four Palestinian children shot dead by Israeli forces between December 2013 and May 2014, including a 15 year old shot in the back from 100m, Hamas held their fire.

Netanyahu’s narrative of negotiations being impossible due to Palestinian terrorism and disunity was being increasingly undermined by reality – and crucially, his US-EU backers were not buying it. The Israeli government responded to the unity government by “what can only be described as economic warfare. It prevented the 43,000 civil servants in Gaza from moving from the Hamas payroll to that of the Ramallah government and it tightened siege round Gaza’s borders thereby nullifying the two main benefits of the merger” (Avi Shlaim). Still Hamas held their fire.

What Netanyahu really needed was a provocation against Hamas to which they would be forced to respond. Such as response would again allow him to paint them as the bloodthirsty terrorists with whom one can never negotiate, would provide the opportunity for another wave of devastation in Gaza, and would exacerbate tensions within the unity government between Fatah and Hamas.

Nine days after the swearing in of the unity government, on June 11th, the IDF made a raid on Gaza in which they killed a 10 year old boy on a bicycle. But still Hamas held their fire.

The following day, however, the apparent kidnapping of three Israeli settlers in the West Bank provided the opportunity for a provocation on an altogether larger scale. Having blamed the kidnapping on Hamas (without ever producing a scrap of evidence), Netanyahu used it as an excuse for an attack on the entire Hamas leadership in the West Bank, while his economy minister Naftali Bennett announced that “We’re turning the membership card for Hamas into a ticket to hell”. Operation Brother’s Keeper did precisely that, with 335 Hamas leaders arrested (including over 50 who had only just been released under a prisoner exchange scheme), and well over 1000 house raids (which left them looking “like an earthquake had taken place” according to one Palestinian activist). Noam Chomsky notes: “The 18-day rampage….did succeed in undermining the feared unity government, and sharply increasing Israeli repression. According to Israeli military sources, Israeli soldiers arrested 419 Palestinians, including 335 affiliated with Hamas, and killed six Palestinians, also searching thousands of locations and confiscating $350,000. Israel also conducted dozens of attacks in Gaza, killing 5 Hamas members on July 7. Hamas finally reacted with its first rockets in 19 months, Israeli officials reported, providing Israel with the pretext for Operation Protective Edge on July 8.” Thus having killed eleven Palestinians in under a month, Israel then used retaliatory rocket attacks which killed no one as an excuse to launch the biggest slaughter of Palestinians in decades.

Operation Protective Edge went on to kill or maim over 12,000 Palestinians over the course of the month that followed. But for Israel, it allowed it to push forward its key aim – prevention the formation of a functioning Palestinian state – on a number of fronts. Firstly, it helped to rekindle tensions between Fatah and Hamas that the unity government had threatened to heal. Fatah’s existing co-operation agreements with Israeli security obliged them to cooperate with the crackdown on Hamas in West Bank that was supposedly a ‘hunt for kidnappers’, which obviously led to suspicion and mistrust between the two parties. Furthermore, as Fadi Elhusseini has pointed out, ““Protective Edge” gave the new Palestinian unity government that irked Israel a heavy blow. Any plans of this new government to implement the reconciliation deal and prepare for national elections have gone by the wayside as priorities have changed in the face of Israeli aggression. Also, Israel bet — as it has always done — on contradictory positions among Palestinians on how to deal with its aggression, increasing the chances for setback in Palestinian reconciliation.” A breakdown in the unity government, of course, would once again provide Israel with the pretext for avoiding negotiations with the Palestinians on the grounds that they are not united.

Secondly, even as it enraged global public opinion, Israel’s blitzkrieg succeeded in getting Western governments back in line behind its ‘Hamas terrorists can never be trusted’ propaganda line: Elhusseini wrote that “Tellingly, whereas most of the actors in the international community started to accept the Palestinian position and reprimand the adamant stands of Israel, which became a quasi-loner state, the rockets fired from Gaza brought them back to the Israeli fold, announcing that Israel has the right to defend itself, regardless of its excessive use of force and the horrifying death toll among the Palestinians.” Indeed, having in April faced a US government supporting the unity government, once the massacre of Gazans (and corresponding rocket fire) was under way, the US Senate instead voted unanimously in support of Israeli aggression against Gaza while condemning “the unprovoked rocket fire at Israel” by Hamas and calling on “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve the unity governing arrangement with Hamas and condemn the attacks on Israel.”

Third, the onslaught was an opportunity to destroy as much as possible of the infrastructure that would provide the basis for a Palestinian state. Of course, as the Israelis openly stated, this includes the military defence infrastructure, primitive as it is, but also all the economic infrastructure necessary for a functioning society. Thus, Israeli shelling destroyed Gaza’s only power plant, cutting off electricity for 80% of Gaza’s 1.6 million inhabitants, as well as dozens of wells, reservoirs and water pipelines, according to a recent report by Oxfam. A summary by Middle East Monitor notes that  Oxfam “estimate that 15,000 tons of solid waste is rotting on the streets, wastewater pumping stations are on the verge of running out of fuel and many neighbourhoods have been without power for days, due to Israel’s bombing of the only power plant in Gaza. Oxfam said it was working in an environment that has a completely destroyed water infrastructure that prevents people in Gaza from cooking, flushing toilets, or washing hands, emphasising that the huge risk to public health. “Gaza’s infrastructure will take months or years to fully recover,” the head of Oxfam in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel reported.” The head of UNICEF’s field office in Gaza, Pernille Ironside, added that “There is a very limited amount of water available and it is used for drinking which means that there is no enough water for sanitary purposes. We see children who come from shelters infected with scabies, lice and all kinds of infectious diseases. The worst thing is that most people outside the shelters did not receive water for several weeks now. It is horrible that they have not been able to receive any clean drinking water that is not contaminated by sewage which can lead to diarrhoea and increases child mortality, especially among those under five years old”.

In addition to attacks on water and electricity infrastructure, the private economy has also come under attack. The biggest factory in Gaza, a biscuit factory that had just won the contract to supply the UN in Gaza, was completely obliterated by Israeli shellfire, and even conservative British daily the Telegraph notes that “anecdotal evidence of the systematic destruction of Gaza’s civilian economy and infrastructure is compelling”. The report continues: “Outside central Gaza City, a string of businesses with no obvious links to militant activities lie in ruins after being demolished by missiles or shells. They include a plastics factory, a sponge-making plant and even the headquarters of the territory’s main fruit distribution near the northern town of Beit Hanoun, much of which has been levelled in the Israeli land invasion.

A few miles north of the Alawada plant, the headquarters of the El Majd Industrial and Trading Corporation – producing cardboard boxes, cartons and plastic bags – was reduced to a heap of concrete and twisted metal.

It had taken two direct hits from missiles fired by an Israeli war plane in the early hours of Monday morning, according to Hassan Jihad, 25, the factory caretaker, who survived fortuitously because he had moved to the company’s administrative headquarters outside the main factory for the duration of the conflict.

He too had little doubt about the reason behind the strike. “The Israelis are trying to destroy the economy and paralyse Gaza,” he said. “This is the only factory in the Gaza Strip producing cardboard containers. We don’t have any rockets in the place.”

Roward International, Gaza’s biggest dairy importer and distribution company, met a similar fate on Thursday afternoon. Its plant in the al-Karama neighbourhood was totally flattened by a missile after an Israeli army operator phoned in a warning in time for its 60 workers to be evacuated.

Majdi Abu Hamra, 35, accounts manager in the family-run business, said the firm bought milk from producers in the West Bank, before importing it into Gaza via Israel.

The territory’s main power plant – also on Salaheddin Road, not far from the Alawada factory – went up in flames last Tuesday after being struck by Israeli shells. Israel denied targeting the plant but experts say it is now out of commission for the next year, leaving Gaza virtually without any electricity other than that supplied by generators. The resulting shortage has already affected the water supply, with power now insufficient to pump water to homes located above ground level.

In addition, a public health crisis may be looming after two sewage pumping stations – one in the crowded Zeitoun area, the other near Gaza’s coastal road – were damaged in strikes on neighbouring targets, prompting UN officials to warn that raw sewage could flow onto the streets in the coming days.

Trond Husby, head of the UN’s development programme in Gaza, was non-committal when asked if he believed Israeli forces were deliberately targeting private businesses in Gaza.

But about the effects of the damage, he was unequivocal. “This is a humanitarian disaster,” he said. “I was in Somalia for two years, Sierra Leone for five, and also South Sudan and Uganda, and this beats them all for the level of destruction.””

Finally, as many commentators have noted, even if Israel were successful in its stated aim of destroying or weakening Hamas, this would only result in even more militant groups emerging, perhaps even Al Qaeda type groups such as ISIS, gaining support from a traumatised population by promising revenge attacks and uncompromising armed jihad. Whilst many have argued that this would somehow be against Israel’s interests, the reverse is likely to be true. Groups such as ISIS have played a key role in facilitating US and British policies in the Middle East in recent years, by weakening independent regional powers (or potential regional powers) such as Libya, Syria and now Iraq. They would likely have the same effect on Palestine, and would certainly set back the prospects for the emergence of a Palestinian state: they would never countenance, for example, unity with Fatah, and would rather serve to provide a permanent pretext for savage Israeli attacks which Western Europe and North America would be obliged to support. Moreover, if Gaza became an ungoverned and ungovernable disaster zone – which is what Israel is in the process of creating – there would of course be no question of its gaining sovereignty over its territory, and even less over its waters and gas reserves. Israel would remain free to bomb at will, just as the US and Britain remain free to bomb at will in the failed states they have created in Somalia, Libya, Yemen and Iraq.

The desire to destroy any potential for Palestinian statehood, then, explains why Israel have launched their latest round of bloodletting. But to understand how it has become emboldened enough to launch their most destructive attack in decades requires an understanding of the regional context.

The Palestinian struggle for independence rises and falls with the overall Arab struggle for independence. Whilst many commentators have focused on the fall of President Morsi in Egypt to explain Hamas’ weakness and relative isolation, in fact the Western-sponsored wars against Libya, Syria and Hezbollah are of greater significance. These wars have respectively destroyed, weakened and preoccupied three of the major independent and anti-Zionist forces in the region, and thus strengthened Israel’s ability to act with impunity. As George Friedman explains, “Currently, Israel is as secure as it is ever likely to be….Israel’s economy towers over its neighbours….Jordan is locked into a close relation with Israel, Egypt has its peace treaty and Hezbollah is bogged down in Syria. Apart from Gaza, which is a relatively minor threat, Israel’s position is difficult to improve.” Clearly, the transformation of Libya into a failed state at the hands of Western-sponsored sectarian militias, and the attempt to do the same to Syria, serves the long term Israeli goal of dividing and weakening all its regional foes (real or potential). Recognising this obvious point, an incendiary 1982 journal piece by Israeli academic Oded Yinon (notable not so much for its originality as for its blunt honesty) explicitly called for the region’s balkanisation: “Lebanon’s total dissolution into five provinces serves as a precedent for the entire Arab world including Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Arabian peninsula and is already following that track. The dissolution of Syria and Iraq later on into ethnically or religiously unique areas such as in Lebanon, is Israel’s primary target on the Eastern front in the long run, while the dissolution of the military power of those states serves as the primary short term target. … This state of affairs will be the guarantee for peace and security in the area [sic – he means Israel] in the long run, and that aim is already within our reach today”. He goes on to describe the coming break-up of Iraq with remarkable prescience: “Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other, is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel’s targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria. Iraq is stronger than Syria. In the short run it is Iraqi power which constitutes the greatest threat to Israel….Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon. In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, and Shi’ite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north.” Thus, the Western-backed offensive in Syria, and its current spillover into Iraq, directly serves Israeli goals by weakening all potential counterweights to Israeli dominion in the region – and thus directly facilitates Israel’s current slaughter.

In this respect, the overthrow of Egyptian President Morsi by the Egyptian army actually strengthened the Arab position, ending the divisive policies which were causing huge religious rifts internally, and ending the prospect of Egypt gratuitously tearing itself apart through direct military involvement in the Syrian civil war. Indeed, Morsi’s policies had been well on the way to realising Yinon’s dream of a balkanised Egypt. In 1982, he wrote that “Egypt, in its present domestic political picture, is already a corpse, all the more so if we take into account the growing Moslem-Christian rift. Breaking Egypt down territorially into distinct geographical regions is the political aim of Israel in the Nineteen Eighties on its Western front.”By thoroughly alienating the country’s Christian communities, Morsi was paving the way for precisely such a scenario to unfold. Regardless of Hamas’ relationship with Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood organisation, the army’s move against Morsi, by ending Egypt’s trajectory towards state breakdown and failure, strengthened Egypt’s ability to act as a counterweight to Israeli domination in the region – a necessary precondition for any advance on the Palestinian front.  As Ali Jarbawi put it after the Egyptian Presidential elections of April this year, “Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s election as the new Egyptian president has given Palestinians a sliver of hope that their cause will return to the forefront of Arab affairs — or that, at least, there will be a slight adjustment in the balance of power with Israel. This has nothing to do with any value judgments about the Egyptian revolution. It is a purely pragmatic stance, based on the fact that Mr. Sisi’s election will influence Palestinian affairs” positively, particularly by restoring the stability necessary for Egypt to act as a counterweight to Israeli power, but also by realigning Egypt more towards Russia and thus towards a less dependent relation with the US. Indeed, the desire on the part of Israel to destroy as much as possible of Gaza before Egypt fully regains its strength and independence may well have added urgency to their latest attack.

In sum, despite its current ability to rip thousands of Palestinians to shreds on the flimsiest of pretexts, all is not well for Israel. Even their short term goals have not been met in this latest attack. Despite everything, the unity government has not broken, and Fatah and Hamas are currently presenting a united front in the ceasefire negotiations. Likewise, Hamas has not been defeated, even militarily (let alone politically) by this attack, and has been able to continue its military resistance right up until the beginning of the various ceasefires that have taken place. If Kissinger is right that in asymmetrical warfare, “The conventional army loses if it does not win [whilst] the guerrilla wins if he does not lose”, then this is not a war that Israel has won. For all its delaying tactics, the Israelis cannot postpone forever Palestinian citizenship in some form or other – and if the Israelis make the creation of a separate Palestinian state impossible, they should not be surprised if demands shift instead to citizenship in a single state comprising the entirety of historic Palestine.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI, GazaComments Off on I$raHell Real Target is Not Hamas

The Shortest Distance Between Palestine and Ferguson

Under Occupation

The superficially coincidental images coming from both Gaza and Ferguson this month have created some surprising and sudden currents of solidarity. Many have looked on with amazement, for example, as Gazans offer tips via twitter to those who have been involved in the uprising and faced the absurd and excessively militarized response to it by Ferguson police. And participants in “peaceful” vigils and more militant confrontations in Ferguson have invoked Gaza by now a dozens times.

Few have looked at images coming out of Ferguson and not been tempted to draw the same allusions between the 2/3 Black suburb policed by a nearly all-white police force, and Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. It would be difficult not to draw that comparison at the moment given the spectacle of the massive armory gifted to the FPD by the federal government in the name of stopping “terror”–which has so often been given a Palestinian face in the US–and the revelation that the former police chief of Ferguson studied “counter-terror” measures in Israel in 2011Ironically, it seems Black Americans are now the target of anti-terror funding and training, which was ostensibly meant to target those from the Muslim and Arab world.

While there is nothing happening within the US anything like the now-cyclical Israeli slaughter of thousands of Gazans, the reality is that life for Black Americans in places like Ferguson does not vary in much from blockaded Gaza, and West Bank Bantustans in off-attack times . The similarities are not just coincidental in terms of the timing of the events–they are in fact, concurrent and historical.

Ferguson is a majority Black, segregated community, run almost entirely by white people. Almost all of its political representatives, and all but 3 of it’s 53 person police force, are white. Such areas, populated by the disenfranchised, are growing throughout the US, as the white and associated enfranchised classes move back to the cities and to ex-urbs or new white suburbs, leaving geographically isolated and service-poor communities behind. The result has been, as is on display in Ferguson, an easy to lock-down community full of people the mainstream has forgotten–policed by an authority trained from birth to distrust and marginalize Black people with the full backing of the Federal government. Unbelievably, the FAA declared a no-fly zone over Ferguson and FPD mounted roadblocks at its city limits as it began its peace-keeping operation of its own citizens–chillingly reminiscent of the media-blockade conducted during Cast Lead and during other Israeli operations.

While the struggle in Palestine is often painted in ideological, ethnic and religious terms, it too is becoming not so different than those in the US, wedded as much to economic concerns as white supremacist structures. As Haaretz recently reported, the larger settlements of the West Bank—which have grown astronomically since the signing of the Oslo Agreement with the Palestinian Authority—are now in the midst of a housing bubble that is outstripping prices in Tel Aviv and its suburbs. Young urban professionals, with no interest in ideology or perhaps even in Zionism, flock to these well-financed and subsidized cities, where the attendant express highways spirit them quickly back and forth from Tel Aviv. Israel’s military industrial complex gives them security from the tenants of the land they’ve stolen.

As these suburbs, grow, perhaps, and as the twisted “peace process” between the compliant Palestinian Authority and Israel evolves, we may in decades to come see a Palestine—or what is left of it—not unlike the US’s black underclass cities and towns. Perhaps it may yet become a broken and discontiguous economic-ethnic series of hamlets—segregated underemployed communities of service workers kept under lock and key by a less visible series of cages and walls, no less violent than military occupation. Given the current state of negotiations, with Israel shaping a Palestinian Authority take-over of the rubble of Gaza, perhaps one tiny wall separating these two territories will be lifted, and Gaza allowed to enjoy the slightly less onerous open-air prison system of the West Bank.

Perhaps then people will also wonder what the Palestinian’s problem is. Why they can’t keep out of trouble with the authorities. Why their men line the halls of the entity’s prisons. Why they cannot simply learn to stop being racists and love their oppressor. Why they are rioting. This is, in fact, the reality that Israel is striving for in the West Bank, institutional apartheid that becomes so well-camouflaged and accepted over time that it begins to look like the US’s honed version of it—an “unfortunate” remnant of the past that is always explainable, always the victim’s fault, and is always in the midst of being fixed, with, not surprisingly, little success. Between the decimation of Gaza and the continued madcap pace of colonization in the West Bank and Jerusalem, they are closer than ever to this goal.

Which brings us to a final, and perhaps most alarming, similarity between Ferguson and Palestine. Both places nominally have a president who superficially represents them, from a similar ethnic and economic background, the product of a historic and unprecedented process. It was an event that overturned years of conventional wisdom that claimed the disenfranchised would never know representative state leaders.

The last dispiriting likeness is the betrayal of that hope–that leader who works for the very structure oppressing the people he seems to most represent, who is revealed to be only the latest trick for a white supremacist system of violence and dispossession that can superficially change, but will not budge. The leader that arms the enemy, kills for them, lies for them, and prevents racial and economic justice for his own ostensible people. For the people of Palestine, it is Abbas. For the people of Ferguson, Sanford, Oakland and other cities, this is Obama–whose bloodless and offensive commentary on the murder of Mike Brown shocked a nation of angry people perhaps as much as the FPD response did. They couldn’t seem any more different superficially, of course, but more and more, we see they have the same white supremacist, capitalist boss.

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Intervention? More like Ceaseless Escalation

Iraq, Again

While visiting Baghdad last year, I was struck by what Iraqis said every time I tried to apologize for the 2003 invasion: “Don’t apologize for that. We needed an invasion to get rid of Saddam Hussein.” And then they would add, “But you do need to apologize for the occupation.”

Each person then went on to tell me their occupation horror stories. Like the ubiquitous stories of ‘the night when US soldiers broke into our house.’ “Unlike the secret police of the Baathist regime,” they’d say, “US soldiers would go upstairs. They’d go through our bedrooms, can you believe that?” People told me stories of near-death experiences on the streets with trigger-happy occupation troops. People told me terrifying anecdotes of harrowing encounters, like the one about the produce truck at the American checkpoint, and the military linguist who translated the word “pomegranates” as “grenades,” and nearly got two men killed in the process. Oftentimes—too routinely to be mere coincidence—the electricity would suddenly go out as they were narrating some traumatic detail, and I would listen to them in the darkness. Somehow, it was fitting.

This week, I remembered how my Iraqi friends had somehow managed to distinguish between invasion and occupation. I still do not understand how they did it, especially since the latter was so obviously the natural outgrowth of the former. Of course, they were so eager to see the end of Saddam Hussein that they could accept intervention, even if they could not accept all its consequences.

What reminded me of this distinction was listening to how American political elites are talking now (again) about intervention.  Like the people I met in Baghdad, they also seem to imagine intervention without consequence. But there is a difference: barring a significant shift in power, American elites will not pay the costs of this American intervention just as they did not pay for the last one. Nor will they suffer any meaningful consequences. Herein lies the magical power of interventionism as an ideology in American life.

The architects of the invasion sought to remake Iraqi society and they did. In our name and with our tax-dollars, American politicians and generals pursued an unpopular war with gusto. The Iraq intervention may have been invented by neo-cons but it wouldn’t have happened without the support of liberals. Forget the millions who protested in the streets: intervention was one of the very few points on which the two parties, their corporate sponsors, and their pundits, could agree during a long decade of nasty partisan fights. The list of cheerleaders is as long as it is illustrious—for every Dick Cheney, there were two Thomas Friedmans and a George Packer. Together, Democrats and Republicans gave the world a living example of what the free-market, withered-state American dream would look like. And the picture has only grown uglier with age.

The corruption, criminal neglect, torture, indiscriminate violence, murder and manslaughter perpetrated under American auspices deeply injured an Iraqi society already poisoned by the totalitarian violence of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party, not to mention years of war and sanctions. By deliberately collapsing the Baathist state while also increasing the level of violence on Iraq’s new mean streets, the Americans pushed ordinary Iraqi citizens to find and create new sources of safety and security. With no local or state governance to support or protect them, Iraqis did what people will always do in such situations: they abandoned abstract, complex and state-dependent notions of open community (like a civic nation) in favor of concrete, austere and immediate notions of closed community (like family). As Fanar Haddad,Sinan Antoon and Zaid al-Ali have shown, the security vacuum our interventionism created gave rise to the sectarianism and tribalism we see today.

Ceaseless Escalation

After creating Hell once, you might think Americans would hesitate before doing it again. But our interventionists have never paused and never blinked. In 2011, before the last troops had even left Iraq, we began bombing Libya to liberate the people there from the tyranny of another dictator. Of course, once the Qaddafi regime collapsed, it was chaos—not freedom—that broke out. The next year, a bi-partisan alliance of interventionists demanded action against Iran. In 2013, another popular front of interventionists clamored for action, this time in Syria—and all while repeated their favorite mantra: “We can’t just stand by and let this happen, can we?”

It is on this point that we need to correct our language. For it was common knowledge that in 2013, like in 2011 and 2012, “we” were not just “standing by and letting things happen” in Libya or Iran. And with regard to Syria, “we,” like the Saudis and Qataris, had already been intervening—with covert action and diplomatic support—to overthrow the Asad regime.

Similarly, against the backdrop of American covert action against the Baathist regime, and the bombing campaigns that began during the buildup to the Gulf War of 1991 and continued unabated for more than a decade, it is not accurate to think of the 2003 invasion as an “intervention,” if by that term we mean an extraneous force suddenly inserted into Iraqi history. Rather, the invasion was the culmination—and escalation—of a long history of American military involvement in Iraq. Likewise, the 2001 intervention in Afghanistan was itself the culmination of more than a decade of covert action and military involvement. What proponents of intervention call for now, as before, is not intervention in the sense of a one-time action from outside.


What they demand is an escalation of an already existing military entanglement. And, once the operation is underway, they can be counted on to demand that the military be given support until victory is accomplished, as if that were a possibility.

The term “intervention” implies that an action is discrete rather than ongoing, and that it marks a break in a chain of history, rather than a continuation of an existing routine or an expansion of  an old repertoire.  But that is not what American interventionists call for. A more accurate term for them would be escalationist. How else should we refer to people who only ever reach for one blunt tool—military action—whenever they encounter any of the many vexing problems of the modern world? When it becomes clear, as it always does, that intervention has not resolved the issue (or that it has exacerbated it) the escalationists will always be there to say, “Of course, any military campaign needs to be coordinated with a political/economic/humanitarian strategy.” But by then, it is already too late. Escalationism is the ideological platform for militarizing every policy issue that arises.

It is a truism that escalationists are inconsistent, arguing in favor of intervention against weak states and against it when status quo alliances and interests might be disturbed. It is also true that the hypocrisy and selectivity of escalationists debases whatever values and norms—human rights, humanitarianism, even regional stability—they touch. Yet these debasements pale in comparison to what escalationism does to policy debate in this country. While military intervention has a very poor track record of resolving real-world social and political emergencies, arguments for intervention always transform the process by which such issues are addressed in government. Escalationists know, as anyone knows, that on balance American military intervention has caused far more intractable problems in the world than it has ever solved. However, intervention does ensure that generals, intelligence agencies, and the public-private security industry have a privileged place at the table when policies are debated and decisions are taken. Indeed, the history of the last fifty years is one in which the center of gravity for American foreign policy has shifted from the State Department to the Department of Defense and NSA.

This is a horrendous development for American democracy for the following reasons: when escalationists demand militarized solutions to the problems of the world, they are effectively arguing that military and intelligence officers and businessmen—not elected officials—should be the ones making the critical decisions when it comes to foreign policy. When elected officials clamor for intervention, they are, in effect, forfeiting their right and duty to address how these issues impact the lives of American citizens. Given the restriction on information in military operations, and the secrecy of intelligence institutions and security corporations, arguments for intervention are also effectively demands that policy deliberations take place far from public scrutiny and that decisions have only an oblique relation to public accountability. Admittedly, it is doubtful that most escalationists think of themselves as hostile to the basic principles of democratic governance but in essence, their position is fundamentally at odds with the values of transparency and accountability.


To his credit, Obama ignored the war drums in 2012-13, a real feat in a town where interventionism is pumped directly into the water supply along with fluoride. But when the Syrian conflict spilled across Sykes-Picot lines this June, it became hard for Obama to ignore the escalationists. True, it is not that America has been sitting and watching Iraq from outside. On the contrary, American involvement in the Iraqi military and intelligence has remained sizeable. And even if American occupation troops were withdrawn in 2011, American advisors—and military contractors—have never left. The bombing campaign that Obama initiated last week is not an intervention, but an escalation of a direct military involvement that goes all the way back to 1991.

Again, we are bombing Iraq to save it. Again, our bombs are humanitarian. Again, they will save lives. Again, they will protect national interests. Again, the engagement will be short, limited to airstrikes, no boots on the ground. Time will tell what the scope of this escalation will actually be, but if recent history is any indication, we should not think aerial bombardments will meaningfully change the nature of the civil war(s) now linking Syria to Iraq, nor should we expect to learn the true scope of the intervention anytime soon, nor should we be surprised if it escalates into something that was never initially advertised.

It is disconcerting that this escalation takes place in the shadow of a widespread consensus—that unites experts the American public and the Iraqi public—that the last American escalation in Iraq was such a complete failure.

Given this dismal history, it is hard to interpret the bombing campaign as anything more serious than a we-have-got-to-do-something gesture. Even if this smaller intervention promises to be more of the same, only less so, the Obama administration is speaking (again) as if intervention has no cost or consequence. In that regard, we might remind ourselves of some of the more salient costs of the last decade of intervention in Iraq:

* 150,000 – 600,000 + Iraqi deaths directly caused by the US invasion and occupation. The number is likely higher.

2 ± million Iraqi refugees. Many more internally displaced.

* 4,400 + American military deaths. Another 5000 violent deaths among foreign contractors and coalition military personnel.

$2 – 4 trillion expense to US taxpayers. The final amount will grow over time.

Obviously, the costs of the war cannot be measured solely in bodies and dollars. The well documented (but largely unprosecuted) accounts of torture and human rights abuse in US detention centers and prisons in occupied Iraq also need to figure into any reckoning, as do the long list of documented cases of negligent and criminal violence on the part of occupation forces and security contractors. Similarly, there has been no deep accounting for the corruption that ran rampant through the occupation administration, nor for the widespread profiteering and fraud on the part of defense contractors and development firms. Only a fraction of these cases have been prosecuted. When Obama’s Justice Department decided not to pursue Bush administration officials for torture, lying, and malfeasance, they sent a clear message that the past was to be forgotten, the slate wiped clean.

Escalationism is a frail ideology that cannot survive without a steady diet of indemnity and recklessness. But in Washington, that greenhouse of unaccountability, it thrives like a weed. We have yet to reckon with the costs, mistakes and crimes of a decade-long US occupation in Iraq, and yet we are starting another round. It is not just that we have failed to learn from the past or have forgotten to pay the piper. We haven’t even bothered to look at the last bill because we imagine someone else will clear the dishes and pay the check. Someday, the escalationists will be forced to live with the consequences of their ideology, but for now, it will be—once again—the Iraqis who will have to suffer and survive.

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Global Police State Calls for Globalization of Dissent and Protest

Despair is Not an Option

A report from The International Network of Civil Liberties Organizations presents alarming case studies of protest suppression and criminalization of political and social dissent around the world. Ironically, the name of the report, Take Back the Streets,” came from an order from Toronto’s police commander to his force in June 2010, when more than 100,000 Canadians took to the street to protest the G20 summit. Despite the fact that the anti-G20 summit were peaceful, within 36 hours, more than a 1,000 people — protesters and journalists alike — were arrested and detained.

The report, which is the result of a collaboration between nine civil rights organizations, exposes disturbing worldwide governmental policies and law enforcement practices where the fundamental democratic right to protest publicly is viewed as a threat that requires a brutal police response. Countless cases of unnecessary legal restrictions, discriminatory responses, criminalization of leaders and unjustifiable use of force are documented. There are nine case studies from nine countries: Argentina, Canada, Egypt, Israel and the Occupy Territories, Kenya, Hungary, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. All of the cases reflect instances of repression of democratic rights through the legal system, criminalization of leaders, and excessive use of force by police resulting in injuries or deaths. “These cases collectively illustrate the use of lethal and deadly force in response to largely peaceful gatherings seeking to express social and political viewpoints,” says the report. In most of the cases mentioned in the report, the deaths and injuries are caused by firearms with live ammunition: for example, against protesters in Egypt; but some are also caused by so-called non-lethal weapons such as tear gas or rubber bullets fired directly into crowds.moral02-4

In a case involving police brutality in Puerto Rico, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) mentions violent beating and low-flying helicopters spraying toxic chemicals over crowds of protesters. The Puerto Rico Police Department (PRPD) is huge: one of the largest police department in the US and second only to the NYPD. The PRPD regularly applies excessive force with pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets, stinger rounds, sting-ball grenades, high-power Taser guns, and batons. According to the ACLU, police in Puerto Rico have routinely used 36-inch batons in riot control to jab, strike and beat protesters.

In the Israeli Occupied Territories of the West Bank, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel documents the persecution and arrest of leaders and organizers such as Bassem Tamimi who was jailed by Israel for more than 13 months for organizing peaceful protests. “These cases demonstrate how the justice system not only frequently fails to provide accountability for the illegal acts committed by law enforcement, but can also, at times, act as a repressive force towards demonstrators and social organizations,” says the report. In Egypt, in November 2011, the police shot thousands of gas canisters directly into the crowds resulting in many deaths by asphyxiation in addition to deaths by live ammunition. In one instance, Egyptian police fired many gas canisters into a building where protesters had found refuge, then proceeded to seal the building.

The document also points to 9/11/2001 as a turning point that allowed governments to crack down on social dissent using the subterfuge of broad anti-terrorist laws. There are alarming signs, perfectly illustrated by the nine case studies, that these “legal” structures concocted by most governments worldwide are, in effect, tools of repression and oppression. They manifest themselves in law enforcement actions such as arrests, random searches, detentions without probable cause or right to a trial, and have been already redirected to suppress peaceful political activities such as street protest and political dissent. Further, police forces are getting militarized globally, and global military organizations such as the UN “peacekeepers” can be used for police purposes when they come back home. Police organizations in Europe are being gathered into multinational military structures like the European Gendarmerie Force (EuroGenFor, or EGF). Brazil’s favelas are undergoing a “pacification” process administered in large part by former UN “peacekeepers” who have been recalled from Haiti. In general, soldiers from all over the world return from occupation missions overseas, habituated to urban warfare, to serve at home in newly militarized police or private mercenary forces such as Xe (formerly Blackwater).

The erosion of our civil and basic democratic rights, such as dissent and protest, is obvious and global. Despair is not an option, global solidarity is. Perhaps the only hope to stop the final rise, confirmed by this report, of an Orwellian world under the boots of a global police state where protest and dissent are virtually illegal, is for citizens of the world to unite in fighting to take back our streets. Some will pay a heavy price, but we must “take back the streets” from the police at any cost and without fear. Then we might regain control of our respective governments before it is too late. Power belongs to the people, but it must be regularly reclaimed. Historically troubled times, such as the rise of fascism in Europe during the 1930s, have proven that people must remain vigilant and watchful of basic human rights being swept away by tyranny. Globalization of policing calls for global vigilance about human-rights abuses and a massive and coordinated globalization of outrage and protest.

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The Guns of August 2014


Background to a Tragedy Foretold in Iraq, Syria, Gaza and Ukraine

WASHINGTON —President Obama, welcoming Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq to the White House on Monday, said that after nearly nine years of war, Iraq had become a “sovereign, self-reliant and democratic” country that could serve as a model for aspiring democrats across the Middle East.

New York Times, December 12, 2011

Doubts about the sincerity of Americans in Iraq probably began when President Ronald Reagan dispatched his former national security advisor Robert C. “Bud” McFarlane to Tehran in 1986 with a cake and a Bible and proposed swapping arms for American hostages in Lebanon.

Until that moment, in the long war between Iran and Iraq, Saddam was our man, a bulwark against Shiite expansion in the Gulf, a non-fundamental (i.e., someone not adverse to girls or gin) Muslim willing to do the West’s bidding.

Bud’s cake and Bible alerted Saddam to the fickleness of Western support, and he repaid the favor in 1990 when he invaded Kuwait and let his troops drive all those looted Mercedes back to Baghdad.

The Iraqi occupation of Kuwait led to the first Gulf War and Saddam’s alleged death threat against President George H.W. Bush, cited in 2003 when his son, President George W. Bush, decided to overthrow Saddam’s regime.

Driving Saddam into a hole near Tikrit (where he was captured and later hanged) wasn’t the hard part of the blitzkrieg. The biggest challenge was deciding who should run Iraq once Saddam was swinging from the gallows.

Remembering the Mesopotamia, Churchill had faced the same conundrum in 1921, and at the Cairo Conference he went with an invented, cereal-box monarchy, an air campaign to subdue rebels, and a cadre of loyal Sunnis to keep the majority Shiite population on their knees.

In one form or another, that unholy coalition lasted until the 2003 American invasion, when the Bush administration decided to turn the country over to the Shiite majority.

Never mind that such a government would align Iraq more closely with Antichrists in Tehran.

*   *   *

By suppressing the Sunnis, the U.S. hoped to keep al-Qaida sympathizers in Iraq away from the oil fields. Under this partition, Shiites would get the government, the U.S. would get the oil, and Sunnis, especially those with Osama bin Laden posters on their kitchen walls, would get the shaft.

The problem with this division of Iraqi spoils is that it required the Bush administration to disband the Iraqi army and Saddam’s Baathist party infrastructure, two centers of power not solely identified with either Sunni or Shiite interests.

At the same time (mid-2000s) the U.S. army withdrew its forces into frontier stockades.  Iraq fell into anarchy until Gen. David Petraeus took time out from his amorous counter-insurgencies and paid Sunni warlords, especially in western Iraq, some $300 million to fight on the American side.

The rent-an-army surge worked until the Obama administration stopped payment on the Petraeus incentive compensation and left it to the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to explain to the opposition the fine print of the American victory, what in the Vietnam War President Nixon called “peace with honor.”

President Barak Obama put it this way in December 2011:

But we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self reliant Iraq with a representative government that was elected by its people. We’re building a new partnership between our nations and we are ending a war not with a final battle but with a final march toward home. This is an extraordinary achievement. . . .

. . . what we have now achieved is an Iraq that is self-governing, that is inclusive and that has enormous potential.

Meanwhile, with a diminished voice in the government, the Sunnis found themselves squeezed between Shiites to the south, Kurds to the north, and Assad’s Syria (sympathetic to Shiite Iran) to the West.

*   *   *

In reality, Iraq was never more than a political campaign prop.

For Obama, Iraq was a holdover problem from the Bush presidency, a straw man that could be dragged out whenever voters got nostalgic about Bushisms (“Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?”).

Obama had campaigned for the presidency against the war in Iraq and, once in office, decided—for political, not military reasons—to time the American troop withdrawal between the 2010 mid-term elections (when he needed to appear tough on terror) and his reelection campaign in 2012 (when it worked better to say we were done with “those folks”).

As president, Obama kept up the bizarre tradition of visiting American troops in Baghdad on unannounced visits in the dead of night, although he spared them the photo-op with Bush’s plastic Thanksgiving turkey.

On these stealth visits, however, Obama had no time for Prime Minister Maliki (who was told to write to his congressman whenever he had problems).

By 2011, the U.S. president was wishing away the legacy of the American war in Iraq, even though it included more than 100,000 civilian casualties and the puppet government left behind preferred to have its strings pulled in Tehran more than from Washington.

Come the 2012 election, Obama could run on the delivered promise of successfully ending the Iraq war, when all he had done was to close down the Baghdad production and open the tragedy on a new stage in Syria (with all the props the Americans left behind in the desert).

*   *   *

In its early phases, Arab Spring demonstrators in Daraa, Syria, were opposing the brutal dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad and undoubtedly had the support of American and Israeli covert operatives, who saw in Arab flower power a chance to detach Syria from the Iranian axis of evil and, by so doing, letting Hezbollah die on the vines of southern Lebanon.

What saved Assad from the alliance of the C.I.A., Mossad, and aggrieved rebels across Syria was the intervention of President Putin’s Russia, which decided to support Assad as a way to blow smoke in the direction of the Obama administration.

In Putin’s mind, the U.S. had rubbed out his man in Libya and enlisted Neo-fascists in Georgia and Ukraine in the containment of Russia’s global aspirations. He was also still smarting from the air campaign against Belgrade, to liberate Kosovo from the Serbs.

The unintended consequences of Russia’s support for Assad was to broaden the rebel coalition in Syria to include jihadis who had been operating in western Iraq and now came to Syria, together with their death threats and surplus American armament.

*  *  *

Little did General David Petraeus know, when he was funding the Sunni Awakening in western Iraq, that his initial public offering would later pay dividends in the Syrian civil war, which among the rebels now included the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, now simply the Islamic State or IS).

Usually hooded, always carrying machine guns and flying black banners, the Islamic State mixes seventh century theology with Sharia and crucifixions for shopkeepers who give Allah bad service.

Just as anti-Russian American operatives in Afghanistan funded the nascent Taliban in the 1980s, so the deathly lab culture of the Islamic State incubated in the violence that the Bush and Obama administrations visited on Iraq.

In addition, many of the weapons that have been used to establish the caliphate between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers came either directly from the Americans or by way of the Iraqi army, which has a habit of throwing down its guns when it is under attack or surrendering bases.  (New Yorkers might ask:  “Whaddaya want for a trillion bucks?”)

Likewise, some Islamic State military training and competence has come from disenfranchised soldiers and Baathists who the Bush administration dismissed when Saddam’s statue was pulled down in 2003.

These Baathist military officers might not share the fondness in the caliphate for hashtagging beheadings and adultery stonings, but they have sided with the Islamic State for now, on the assumption that Maliki’s Iraq will fracture into constituent Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish states.

In that great divide they would prefer to end up in the Sunni sector—and later fight the fundamentalists for control.

*  *  *

The biggest reason that the Islamic State and other rebels have turned Iraq and the surrounding area into a bloodbath is because once the artificial borders around Iraq are removed, other neighboring countries will likewise see their own jurisdictions come under challenge.  As Iraq goes, so goes the Middle East.

The borders around Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan (not to mention other Middle Eastern states) were drawn during or after the Paris peace conference that settled the First World War, and those lines in the sand ignored patterns of nationalism, history, geography, race, ethnicity, or commerce.

Lawrence of Arabia thought he had promised the Arabs one big magic kingdom; instead his overlords delivered the Balkans of the Near East.

—Iraq, for example, was created as a filling station for the British Navy, not because Shiites in the south wanted to be joined to Sunnis or Kurds in the north.

—Lebanon and Syria were created (thanks to those wily WW I diplomats, Sykes and Picot, who cut the secret deal between Britain and France) to satisfy the colonial dreams of Frenchmen who had suffered in the Verdun mud, not because they corresponded to normal standards of statehood.  Otherwise, why mix crusader Christians together with Sunnis and Shiites.

—The same geographic confusion describes the territory of Israel, which emerged from the mandate of Palestine to inherit borders that make those once drawn around the Holy Roman Empire look exact.

—Greater Israel, in which I would include the West Bank and Gaza Strip, is the Jewish equivalent of Lebanon and Syria, states that include several powerful minorities sworn to the destruction of the central government.

In the coming realignment of the oil-rich Middle East, none of the outside patrons of this violence—Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran, Russia, Turkey, and the United States—want to find that they are backing losers, or what the rock band America (not the superpower) called “a horse with no name.”

*   *   *

Although I have never read about it in the newspapers, I believe that there is a strong correlation between the rise of the Islamic State and the recent war in Gaza, and that it may have dictated Israel’s timetable in attacking Hamas.

Because Jerusalem misplayed its hand in thinking the U.S. was serious about taking out Assad, Israel’s existential fear now is that extremists will control large parts of Syria and Iraq, and that together with Gulf states’ billions they will turn their rage and violence against the Jewish state.

With Syria under the Assads (père et fils), Israel only had to fear the arming of Hezbollah in south Lebanon.  With the Islamic State in Damascus, however, it would be looking at a holy war coming over the Golan Heights.  (With a sense of history, Islamic State militants like to say, as they clear away border crossings:  “We’ve broken the Sykes-Picot Agreement.”)

Hence Israel may have decided to move against Hamas now so that it can turn more of its military preparations against any developments across the Syrian border.

Nor does the government of Benjamin Netanyahu have any confidence that President Obama has Israel’s interests at heart, even though the U.S. president turned a blind eye to the Gaza massacres, backed the military coup in Egypt against the Muslim Brotherhood, and let the C.I.A. go after Assad as if he were Iran’s Prime Minister Mossadegh in 1953. As they say, “What have you done for me lately?”

*   *   *

The interests of other Middle Eastern powers with a stake in these great games have also contributed to the escalation of violence in Iraq, Syria and Gaza.

In Syria, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are among those Sunni states that have funded the rebels against Assad, hoping to remove his pro-Iranian, Shiite sympathizers from power.

Backing Assad, along with the Russians, are the Iranians, who look at Assad and Hezbollah the way the czars used to view warm-water ports.  Without their trigger men in Damascus or Beirut (and now with a corridor across Shiite southern Iraq), Iran could well be landlocked and squeezed.

And no one should dismiss the strategic ambitions of Turkey in this regional witches’ brew.

Modern Turkey is opposed to the creation of a Kurdish state, as it would claim strategic mountains in eastern Turkey. Nevertheless, given the chaos in Iraq and Syria, Turkey might support an independent Kurdistan (provided it is carved out of Syria, Iran and Iraq) as a buffer between Turkey and the extraordinary popular delusions of the Islamic State.

Egypt also has its markers in this great game.  Needing U.S. support for its stillborn economy and dubious legitimacy, the Egyptian government of quickly retired generals is content to let the Israelis “finish” with Hamas, if it pleases the Americans and gets the world to overlook the death sentences handed out en masse to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Before this realigned Middle East, who would have thought that the U.S. would side with Iran in opposing the Islamic State, that Egypt would tolerate an Israeli massacre in the Gaza Strip, or that Turkey might look favorably on an independent Kurdistan?

*   *   *

Although, geographically, eastern Ukraine has no connection with the events across the Middle East, the Russian seizure of Crimea and its saber-rattling around the People’s Republic of Donetsk have much to do with American policies in Iraq.

From the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 through the invasion of Iraq (historically a Soviet client), American-Russian relations were absent many Cold War tensions.

That era of good feeling changed when the Americans and British unilaterally invaded Iraq in 2003 and dispatched Saddam with the hangman’s noose.

Next came the no-fly zone over Libya, ostensibly to protect innocent civilians, but which was used to consign Colonel Gaddafi to his sewage-canal execution.  The Russians signed off on the mission, thinking they were protecting civilians, not approving a NATO coup de main.

After Libya, despite all the president’s high-blown rhetoric about the Arab Spring and the rights of man, Washington backed the Egyptian generals over the Brotherhood—yet another former Russian ally—and aimed its daggers at Russia’s satrap in Damascus.

A man schooled in KGB intrigue, President Putin figured it was time to push back against the expansionist American administrations, and he chose Ukraine, beginning in Crimea, as the place to move ahead with the Soviet Risorgimento.

Ukraine has the advantage of being on Russia’s doorstep, with the bonus of a muddled history and a weak, often corrupt government.  Furthermore, like Prime Minister Netanyahu, Putin doesn’t have much respect for the Obama administration.  Game on.

*  *  *

In looking for winners in the current chaos, I would choose the Islamic State, Vladimir Putin, and the Kurds.

The jihadis, clearly, are on a roll, and they have Gulf money, American arms (lots of them), and a deep bench of martyrs.  Its commanders are not squeamish about shedding blood, and its recruiting posters include small boys holding aloft severed heads.

Although Putin looks defeated in eastern Ukraine—his rebel proxies have run out of ammunition and gas—my guess is that he will deploy his relief columns across the border under the guise of “humanitarianism,” perhaps quoting from the same press releases that the U.S. has issued on Mount Sinjar.

Will it lead to war with Ukraine?  It might, but Putin established his predilection for border wars in Georgia in 2008.  With the U.S. distracted in Iraq—if not with tricky lies at Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs—my guess is that he will accept further sanctions (levied against his clique) for a freer hand in eastern Ukraine.

The Kurds are also winners in the current Iraq fighting because they can finally make a case for independence in front of the international community, and perhaps overcome the opposition of the Turks.  Already the U.S. is directly supplying them with weapons.

Without Kurdish peshmerga fighters, the Islamic State would be hoisting its Jolly Roger in the autonomous region’s capital, Erbil, and with it, laying claim to billions of dollars in oil revenue, all of which can be invested in expanding the caliphate and underwriting its death sentences.

*   *   *

The country with the least return on its investments in the Middle East is the United States, which has dumped $2 trillion and thousands of lives fighting from Libya to Afghanistan in what Rudyard Kipling in The White Man’s Burden calls “the savage wars of peace.”

For now all it has to show for these efforts are cancelled checks to groups that feel more like enemies than friends.  As Kipling adds: “And when your goal is nearest/The end for others sought/Watch sloth and heathen Folly/Bring all your hopes to nought.”

Even the Islamic State leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is himself a mid-2000 graduate of the American detention system in Iraq (and continuing education for the nurturing and development of radical fundamentalism?).  A father (abu) of Ghraib, indeed.

Can the news get any worse for the U.S.?  In the last several weeks, as the Islamic State has approached the outskirts of Baghdad, American diplomats have withdrawn from Libya, Afghanistan has showed little enthusiasm for its American-brokered presidential election, and U.S. weaponry, in the hands of Israeli soldiers, has been used to slaughter Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

In Iraq, the U.S. nominee for prime minister to replace Maliki, Haider al-Abadi, got a welcoming shout-out from the Iranians, while in the Syrian civil war, even former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton—herself the architect of many of its policies—decided to break with the Obama administration over its failure to support the struggles for freedom. (Conversely, in defending the Gaza atrocities, the dissing also allowed her to curry favor with Israel.)

In response, the Obama administration went on vacation or took to the road. President Obama went to Martha’s Vineyard and Vice President Joe Biden is in the Hamptons while Secretary of State John Kerry was on a diplomatic junket to Burma and Australia.  Each packed into their luggage enough soundbites to make it appear that the U.S. could still control world events from the beach.

From Sydney, Secretary Kerry warned the outgoing Maliki government: “There should be no use of force, no introduction of troops or militias into this moment of democracy for Iraq,” while at the same time, from his seaside lectern, President Obama was dispatching American bombers and troops, to prolong Iraq’s “moment of democracy” at least for a few more weeks or, better yet, through the U.S. fall elections.

*   *   *

The problems of the Obama administration are not, simply, that its senior officials get on airplanes the way normal people head to the mall, or that they have the self-absorption of talk-show hosts; the bigger problem is that no one—not even the articulate president—can explain why and for what the U.S. has been fighting a string of permanent wars in the Middle East since 1982, if not before.

In recent years American troops or missiles have been deployed in Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somali, Kuwait, and Libya, not to mention the entangling alliance with Israel.  This week its bombers were dispatched to northern Iraq.  Next week?

Are these wars to protect Israel from destruction?  Are they to guard the oil supply lines? Are they to spread democracy, with the zeal that once had those onward Christian soldiers marching as to war?  Are they to kill terrorists on location?

Just one of these goals would be more than full-time job for most countries or empires, but the U.S. has all of them as its concurrent war aims, and this leads to confusion, blunders, and endless rounds of violence.

In northern Iraq, for example, the U.S., along with Iran, opposes the Islamic State and its patrons in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, while in its oil businesses, the U.S. is one with the Saudis and Qataris, who are among its biggest suppliers. Maybe when IS gets Iraq’s oil, they will slash prices as they do pickpockets’ hands?

In Kabul and Baghdad, the U.S. recites the homilies of democracy (President Obama said this week from the Vineyard: “Today, Iraq took a promising step forward in this critical effort…”), although when the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hamas in Gaza won elections, the U.S. refused to recognize the winners and has even helped to marginalize them.

Just as confusing, the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Islamic State in Iraq have used American money and arms in their rise to power. If you have any doubts, watch the excellent online reporting of VICE News on the Islamic State in control of Raqqa, Syria. With its American weaponry, the caliphate has the look of a Pentagon client state.

Maybe when the Islamic State takes Baghdad, and American diplomats crowd the rooftop of the $750 million U.S. embassy in the Green Zone to await helicopter evacuation, the entering rebels will carry aloft banners of Gen. David Petraeus.  The Sunnis certainly owe him one for their subsidized Awakening.

Posted in IraqComments Off on The Guns of August 2014

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