Archive | February 13th, 2015

The Ultimate Enemy of ISIS

NOVANEWS

The president’s request for the authorization to use military force against the Islamic State has landed in a Congress as divided as the country.

That division was mirrored in the disparate receptions Obama’s resolution received from The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

To the Times, Obama’s AUMF is “alarmingly broad. It does not limit the battlefield to Syria and Iraq.”

Moreover, Obama “seeks permission to attack ‘associated persons or forces.'” This would give the White House “virtually unrestricted power to engage in attacks around the globe as long as it can justify a connection, however tenuous, to the Islamic State.”

To the Journal, Obama’s resolution ties America down the way the Lilliputians tied down Gulliver. It authorizes war on ISIS for only three years. It would prevent another U.S. army from being sent to Iraq or Syria.

“Rather than put shackles on his generals,” says the Journal, “Mr. Obama should be urging them to mount a campaign to roll back ISIS as rapidly as possible from the territory it holds.”

But the country seems nowhere near this hawkish.

Viewing nightly on cable news the hardships endured by the Wounded Warriors of our two latest and longest wars has cooled the arbor for new crusades.

About the character of the Islamic State, there is no disagreement.

“A brutal, vicious death cult,” Obama called it.

But about whether ISIS is an “existential threat” to us, or if this war is really our war, there is no agreement.

North of Syria, along 500 miles of border, sits a Turkish army of half a million with 3,000 tanks that could cross over and annihilate ISIS in a month. Former Secretary of State James Baker suggests that the U.S. offer air, logistics and intelligence support, if the Turks will go in and snuff out ISIS.

But not only have the Turks not done so, for a time they looked the other way as jihadists crossed their border to join ISIS.

If the Islamic State, as Ankara’s inaction testifies, is not viewed as a threat to Turkey’s vital interests, how can it be a threat to ours?

There are reports that the Saudis and the Gulf Arabs would be more willing to participate in a war on ISIS if we would first effect the ouster of Bashar Assad.

Everyone in the Middle East, it appears, wants the United States to fight their wars for them.

But as they look out for their interests first, it is time we started looking out for ours first.

Foremost among those interests would be to avoid another $1 trillion war, with thousands of U.S. dead and tens of thousands of wounded, and a situation, after a decade of fighting, as exists today in Afghanistan and Iraq, where those we leave behind in power cannot hold their own against the enemies we defeated for them.

That an Iraqi army we equipped and trained at a cost of tens of billions would disintegrate and desert Iraq’s second city, Mosul, when confronted by a few thousand fanatics, was a debacle.

Why should Americans have to recapture Mosul for Baghdad?

And why do these “democrats” we install in power seem to perform so poorly?

Under Saddam, Iraq fought an eight-year war against a nation three times as large and populous, Iran. Yet, Saddam’s army did not run away as the Iraqi army we trained and equipped ran away from Anbar.

What did Saddam Hussein have to motivate men that we do not?

What is it that makes some people in the Middle East volunteer and fight to the death, while others refuse to fight or run away from battle?

For, as the Journal writes, “The Associated Press reported Tuesday that U.S. intelligence officials now say foreign fighters are joining Islamic State ‘in unprecedented numbers,’ including 3,400 from western nations out of 20,000 from around the world.”

Why is this?

The Islamic State has plugged into the most powerful currents of the Middle East. It is anti-American, anti-Zionist, anti-West, Islamic and militantly Islamist. It promises to overthrow the old order of Sykes-Picot, to tear up the artificial borders the West imposed on the Arabs, and to produce a new unity, a new dispensation where the Quran is law and Allah rules and all Sunnis are united in one home whence all infidels — Jews, Shia, Christians — have been driven out. Hateful as it is, ISIS has a vision.

Hezbollah, Iran, Assad, the Houthi rebels, all Shiites, understand this.

They know they are in a fight to the death. And they fight.

But it is the Sunni Arabs, the royals on the Arabian Peninsula and the sheiks on the Gulf, to whom this should be a fire bell in the night.

For ISIS is out to dethrone these perceived royal puppets of a detested America and to reclaim rightful custody of Mecca and Medina.

The Shiites are already in the field. The Sunni are going to have to fight and win this war against ISIS, or lose it all.

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NSA Spy Program So Secret Judge Can’t Explain Why It Can’t Be Challenged

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Consumer advocacy group which brought the case vows to ‘continue to fight to end NSA mass surveillance’

Image result for NSA PHOTO

A federal judge ruled in favor of the National Security Agency in a key surveillance case on Tuesday, dismissing a challenge which claimed the government’s spying operations were groundless and unconstitutional.

Filed in 2008 by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the lawsuit, Jewel v. NSA, aimed to end the agency’s unwarranted surveillance of U.S. citizens, which the consumer advocacy group said violated the 4th Amendment.

The lawsuit also implicated AT&T in the operations, alleging that the phone company “routed copies of Internet traffic to a secret room in San Francisco controlled by the NSA.” That charge was based off of a 2006 document leak by former AT&T technician and whistleblower Mark Klein, who disclosed a collection program between the company and the NSA that sent AT&T user metadata to the intelligence agency.

US District Judge Jeffrey White on Tuesday denied a partial summary judgment motion to the EFF and granted a cross-motion to the government, dismissing the case without a trial. In his order, White said the plaintiff, Carolyn Jewel, an AT&T customer, was unable to prove she was being targeted for surveillance—and that if she could, “any possible defenses would require impermissible disclosure of state secret information.”

Offering his interpretation of the decision, EFF senior staff attorney David Greene explained in a blog post:

Agreeing with the government, the court found that the plaintiffs lacked “standing” to challenge the constitutionality of the program because they could not prove that the surveillance occurred as plaintiffs’ alleged. Despite the judge’s finding that he could not adjudicate the standing issue without  “risking exceptionally grave damage to national security,” he expressed frustration that he could not fully explain his analysis and reasoning because of the state secrets issue.

The EFF later Tweeted:

NSA Internet surveillance is so secret, the court refused to even consider whether it’s constitutional.

11:15 PM – 10 Feb 2015

Calling the ruling “frustrating,” Greene said the EFF “disagree[s] with the court’s decision and it will not be the last word on the constitutionality of the government’s mass surveillance of the communications of ordinary Americans.”Jewel v. NSA is the EFF’s longest-running case. Despite the decision, the EFF said it would not back down from its pursuit of justice and was careful to note that the ruling did not mean that the NSA’s operations were legal.

“Judge White’s ruling does not end our case. The judge’s ruling only concerned Upstream Internet surveillance, not the telephone records collection nor other mass surveillance processes that are also at issue in Jewel,” said Kurt Opsahl, deputy legal council at EFF. “We will continue to fight to end NSA mass surveillance.”

The issue is similar to the 2013 Supreme Court decision in Clapper v. Amnesty International, which found that plaintiffs who had reason to believe they were being spied on could not provide substantial proof of surveillance, and thus could not bring their case.

Jewel v. NSA stems from the EFF’s 2006 case, Hepting v. AT&T, which was dismissed in 2009 after Congress, including then-Senator Barack Obama, voted to give telecommunications companies immunity from such lawsuits.

“It would be a travesty of justice if our clients are denied their day in court over the ‘secrecy’ of a program that has been front-page news for nearly a decade,” Opsahl added.

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Over 90% of Naziyahu’s Campaign Contributions Come From The US

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Image result for Netanyahu CARTOON

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White House: ISIS War Authorization ‘Intentionally’ Vague

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The bill would allow Obama to expand at powers at will in the fight against ISIS.

 

With people expressing concern about the large number of wiggle words in the draft authorization for the ISIS war, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest today confirmed that the language was made “intentionally” vague.

While officials tried to present the authorization as not including a ground war, the language actually only limits “enduring offensive ground combat operations,” meaning a ground war that officials could argue was either not “enduring,” which Earnest refused to define, or “offensive,” which is likely meaningless given the narrative of the war to “liberate” ISIS territory from ISIS.

Earnest says the bill was drawn up that way because it would allow President Obama to “be able to respond to contingencies that emerge in a chaotic military conflict,” meaning it is littered with opportunities to escalate the war.

The closest thing to an explicit limit on the war within the resolution, the three year deadline, itself includes a ready-made out, allowing Congress to just keep reauthorizing the war an unlimited number of times.

The administration had express objections to every other Congressional alternative war authorization, some with explicit limits and some without, seemingly entirely because they’ve spent the last several months drafting a version to gives the impression of limits while allowing truly limitless war.

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UK Taxpayers Have Spent Over $15M To Police Julian Assange

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It’s cost over $15 million to keep cops watching the Ecuadorean Embassy in London where the wanted WikiLeaker has holed up for nearly three years.
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British police officers stand guard outside the Ecuadorian Embassy, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is taking refuge, in London. Photo: Alastair Grant/AP

You can do a lot with 10 million British pounds in London.

It’s equal to over $15 million. Here that’s a year’s worth of public education for roughly 1,000 kids. Or a year’s worth of street policing by more than 300 officers. Or just one really nice one-bedroom apartment.

It’s also the amount of money the British taxpayer has spent so far keeping Metropolitan Police officers stationed 24/7 for almost three years outside the Embassy of Ecuador, on the off chance that one high-profile occupant strolls out.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been holed up in the brick building since June 20, 2012. Ecuador granted him asylum after he lost an appeal at the UK Supreme Court against extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning on sex crime allegations.

The police have orders to arrest Assange as soon as he sets foot on British soil. So every day for almost 1,000 days, officers with not much to do have stood outside the building in London’s Knightsbridge neighborhood, just across the street from Harrods’ department store.

There, a crystal-encrusted bottle of Robert Piguet perfume sells for 10,000 pounds — just under the 10,500-pound ($16,000) daily cost of the embassy’s police detail.

To the best of anyone’s knowledge, Assange — who looked like a man who hadn’t seen the sun in a while, even before his asylum claim — hasn’t been outdoors in more than two and a half years.

Sometimes he peeks out the window, said an officer stationed in front of the building on Wednesday afternoon.

“A personal trainer’s been around lately,” the officer said. “We can see him doing his boxercizing.”

The Met, as London’s police force is known, is facing massive budget cuts as a result of austerity measures, as is virtually every public institution in Britain.

Playing an extended game of cat-and-mouse with an eccentric Australian may not be the ideal use of public money.

“There’s no doubt that it’s a drain,” Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe told London’s LBC Radio, which broke the cost story last week.

“We’re gonna have to look to see what other opportunities we have, how we can do that differently in the future, because it’s sucking our resources in.”

Sweden issued an international warrant for Assange’s arrest in November 2010 so he could be questioned about sexual assault claims made by two different women.

Assange has said publicly he believes that going to Sweden would lead to his being extradited to the United States to face charges related to WikiLeaks’ publication of secret US military files and diplomatic cables.

On Aug. 18, Assange held a press conference where he said he expected to leave the embassy “soon.”

That was almost six months ago. There is no sign that he’s going anywhere.

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Thousands Expected To Attend Funeral Of Slain Muslim Student In Chapel Hill In Show Of Solidarity

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About 2,000 people attended a candlelight vigil for the victims Wednesday evening at UNC.
By  

Yusor Mohammad

Mourners gather in The Pit on UNC’s campus to memorialize Deah Shaddy Barakat, Yusor Mohammad and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha.

Thousands of people are expected to attend a prayer service for three young adults gunned down in North Carolina in what police call a long-running dispute over parking spaces.

Family and friends gathering for Thursday’s funeral and burial services for the newlywed couple and the wife’s sister are grappling with questions about whether the violence had some connection to their Muslim faith. The father of the two slain women says hatred of Muslims might explain why the dispute erupted into death. Officials have said they are still investigating any possibilities the crime was hate-motivated.

Charged with three counts of first-degree murder is Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, who has described himself as a “gun toting” atheist. Neighbors said Wednesday that he always seemed angry and confrontational. His ex-wife said he was obsessed with the shooting-rampage movie “Falling Down” and showed “no compassion at all” for other people.

His current wife, Karen Hicks, said that her husband “champions the rights of others” and that the killings “had nothing do with religion or the victims’ faith.” She then issued another brief statement, saying she’s divorcing him.

Officers were summoned when a neighbor called 911 Tuesday evening to report hearing multiple gunshots and people screaming.

Found dead at the scene were Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23; his wife, Yusor Mohammad, 21; and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19. In a brief court appearance Wednesday, Hicks, who lived in the same apartment building as the victims, pleaded indigence and was appointed a public defender.

The women’s father, Mohammad Abu-Salha, said police told him each was shot in the head in the couple’s apartment and that he’s convinced it was a hate crime.

“The media here bombards the American citizen with Islamic, Islamic, Islamic terrorism and makes people here scared of us and hate us and want us out. So if somebody has any conflict with you, and they already hate you, you get a bullet in the head,”

– Psychiatrist Abu-Salha

The killings are fueling outrage among people who blame anti-Muslim rhetoric for hate crimes. A Muslim advocacy organization pressed authorities to investigate possible religious bias. Many posted social media updates with the hashtag #MuslimLivesMatter.

“We understand the concerns about the possibility that this was hate-motivated, and we will exhaust every lead to determine if that is the case,” Chapel Hill police Chief Chris Blue said in an email.

Chapel Hill Police asked the FBI for help, and Ripley Rand, the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina, said his office was monitoring the investigation. Rand said the crime “appears at this point to have been an isolated incident.”

About 2,000 people attended a candlelight vigil for the victims Wednesday evening at UNC. Several people who knew them spoke about their selflessness as friends recounted kindnesses they had extended to others through the years.

Barakat and Mohammad were newlyweds who helped the homeless and raised money to help Syrian refugees in Turkey. They met while helping to run the Muslim Student Association at N.C. State before he began pursuing an advanced degree in dentistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Mohammad, who graduated in December, planned to join her husband in dentistry school in the fall.

Abu-Salha was visiting them Tuesday from Raleigh, where she was majoring in design at N.C. State.

“This was like the power couple of our community,” said Ali Sajjad, 21, the N.C. State association’s current president.

Many of the condominiums in the complex are rented or owned by students and recent graduates at UNC — campus is 3 miles away.

Hicks had less success. His wife said Hicks, unemployed and driving a 15-year-old car, had been studying to become a paralegal.

A Second Amendment rights advocate with a concealed weapons permit, Hicks often complained about organized religion on Facebook. “Some call me a gun toting Liberal, others call me an open-minded Conservative,” Hicks wrote.

Imad Ahmad, who lived in the condo where his friends were killed until Barakat and Mohammed were married, said Hicks complained about once a month that the two men were parking in a visitor’s space and their assigned spot.

“He would come over to the door, knock on the door and then have a gun on his hip saying, ‘You guys need to not park here,’” said Ahmad, a graduate student at UNC. “He did it again after they got married.”

Hicks and his neighbors complained to the property managers, who apparently didn’t intervene. “They told us to call the police if the guy came and harassed us again,” Ahmad said.

“This man was frustrated day in and day out about not being able to park where he wanted to,” said Karen Hicks’ attorney, Robert Maitland.

The killings were “related to long-standing parking disputes my husband had with various neighbors regardless of their race, religion or creed,” Karen Hicks said.

Police haven’t said how Hicks got in the condominium. There were no visible signs Wednesday of damage to the door, affixed with orange stickers warning of biohazardous material inside. A wooden placard bearing Arabic script that translates to “Thanks to God” hung over their doorbell.

A woman who lives nearby described Hicks as short-tempered.

“Anytime that I saw him or saw interaction with him or friends or anyone in the parking lot or myself, he was angry,” Samantha Maness said. “He was very angry, anytime I saw him.”

Hicks’ ex-wife, Cynthia Hurley, said that before they divorced about 17 years ago, his favorite movie was “Falling Down,” the 1993 Michael Douglas film about a divorced unemployed engineer on a shooting rampage.

“That always freaked me out,” Hurley said. “He watched it incessantly. He thought it was hilarious. He had no compassion at all.”

A probable cause hearing is scheduled for March 4. Police said Hicks was cooperating.

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Lynching and Jeff Davis Highway

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A Civil War-era African-American soldier and his family. (Photo credit: Encyclopedia Virginia)

Exclusive: Many parts of the South, including Arlington, Virginia, just outside the U.S. capital, still honor Confederate President Jefferson Davis by attaching his name to important roadways. But a recent study on lynching puts the motive for honoring that white supremacist in a sickening new light, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

A new study of Southern lynching of blacks, sharply raising the total to nearly 4,000 victims, adds some context to the decision in 1920 to attach the name of Confederate President Jefferson Davis to parts of Route One, including stretches near and through African-American neighborhoods. That period was a time when the number of lynchings surged across the South and whites were reasserting their impunity.

According to the study by the Equal Justice Initiative, the use of lynching – mob killings and mutilations of blacks by hanging, burning alive, castration, torture and other means – was nearly as high around 1920 as it was in the latter part of the Nineteenth Century. There was a gradual decline in lynchings in the early Twentieth Century, but the pattern reversed and the use of lynching surged to about 500 during a five-year period heading into 1920.

That period also marked a determination by many Southern whites to reaffirm the rightness of the Confederate cause and to reassert white supremacy. Thus, in 1920, to drive home the point of who was in charge, the Daughters of the Confederacy had Southern states name portions of Route One after Jefferson Davis, who was hailed as the “champion of a slave society” when he was chosen to lead the Confederacy in 1861.

Besides honoring a dyed-in-the-wool white supremacist who favored keeping African-Americans in chains forever, the Daughters of the Confederacy saw these designations of Route One as a counterpoint to plans in the North for a Lincoln Highway in honor of assassinated President Abraham Lincoln.

But bestowing this honor on Jefferson Davis was also a political message of pro-Confederate defiance that was not limited to the brutal era of 1920. The Jefferson Davis designation was extended to parts of Route 110 near the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, in 1964 as Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement were pressing for landmark civil rights legislation to end segregation and as white Virginian politicians were vowing to resist integration at all costs.

A year or so ago, I wrote to the five members of the Arlington County Board and urged them to seek an end to this grotesque honor bestowed on a notorious white racist. When my letter went public, it was treated with some amusement by the local paper, the Sun-Gazette, which described me as “rankled,” and prompted some hate mail.

One letter from an Arlington resident declared that it was now her turn to be “RANKLED by outsiders like Mr. Parry who want to change history because it is not to his liking. … I am very proud of my Commonwealth’s history, but not of the current times, as I’m sure many others are.”

I was also confronted by a senior Democratic county official at a meeting about a different topic and urged to desist in my proposal to give the highway a new name because the idea would alienate state politicians in Richmond who would think that Arlington County was crazy.

But the new study on the terrorism of lynching reminds us that attaching Jefferson Davis’s name to roadways wasn’t just some romantic gesture to honor an historical figure beloved by Southern whites who in 1920 still pined for the ante-bellum days when they could own black people and do to them whatever they wished.

The years around 1920 marked a violent revival of the carnival-like scenes in which whites treated the lynching of blacks as a moment for community hilarity and celebration, often posing with their children for photographs next to the mutilated corpses. Stamping Jefferson Davis’s name on a highway that passed near and through black neighborhoods was another way to send a chilling message to African-Americans.

In my 37 years living in Virginia, I have always been struck by the curious victimhood of many Southern whites. Because of the Civil War, which some still call “the War of Northern Aggression,” and the Civil Rights Movement, which finally ended segregation, they have been nursing grievances, seeing themselves as the real victims here.

Not the African-Americans who were held in the unspeakable conditions of bondage until slavery was finally ended in the 1860s and who then suffered the cruelties of white terrorism and the humiliation of segregation for another century. No, the whites who lorded over them were the real “victims” because the federal government finally intervened to stop these practices.

Yet, while some white Virginians remain “very proud” of that history, there has been a studied neglect of other more honorable aspects of Arlington’s history, including the role played by Columbia Pike as an African-American Freedom Trail where thousands of former slaves, freed by Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, traveled north to escape slavery.

Many were given refuge in Freedman’s Village, a semi-permanent refugee camp along Columbia Pike on land that now includes the Pentagon and the Air Force Memorial. Some of the men joined the U.S. Colored Troops training at nearby Camp Casey before returning to the South to fight for freedom, to end the scourge of slavery once and for all.

As blacks joined the Union Army, Confederate President Jefferson Davis ratified a policy that refused to treat black men as soldiers but rather as slaves in a state of insurrection, so they could be executed upon capture or sold into slavery.

In accordance with this Confederate policy, U.S. Colored Troops faced summary executions when captured in battle. For instance, when a Union garrison at Fort Pillow, Tennessee, was overrun by Confederate forces on April 12, 1864, black soldiers were shot down as they surrendered. Similar atrocities occurred at the Battle of Poison Springs, Arkansas, in April 1864, and the Battle of the Crater in Virginia. Scores of black prisoners were executed in Saltville, Virginia, on Oct. 2, 1864.

Yet, while Jefferson Davis’s name remains on roadways through Arlington — and as the Confederate president is effectively honored whenever people have to use his name — there is still no commemoration of Freedman’s Village (though something is supposedly being planned) and no one apparently even knows the precise location of Camp Casey, arguably one of Arlington’s most significant and noble historical sites. (Camp Casey is believed to have been located close to where today’s Pentagon now is, an area that in the 1860s was called Alexandria County before being renamed Arlington County in the Twentieth Century.)

Apparently, recognizing the place where free African-Americans were trained and armed to defeat the Confederacy and end slavery might “rankle” some white Arlington residents.

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Rev. Wright’s Star Pupil

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“A steady patriot of the world alone, “The friend of every country — but his own.”George Canning’s couplet about the Englishmen who professed love for all the world except their own native land comes to mind on reading Obama’s remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast.After listing the horrors of ISIS, al-Qaida and Boko Haram, the president decided his recital of crimes committed in the name of Islam would be unbalanced, if he did not backhand those smug Christians sitting right in front of him.

“And lest we get on our high horse … remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.”

Why did he do it? He had to know that dredging up and dragging in real or imagined crimes of Christianity from centuries ago would anger Christians and obliterate whatever else he had to say.

Was it Edgar Allen Poe’s “Imp of the Perverse” prodding him to stick it to the Christians? Was it the voice of his old pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah “God damn America!” Wright muttering in his ear?

I believe this betrays something deeper. Obama revels in reciting the sins of Christianity and the West because he does not see himself as a loyal son of the civilization Christianity produced.

He sees himself as a citizen of the world who rejects the idea that our cradle faith Christianity is superior or that our civilization is superior. For he seems to seize every opportunity to point up the sins of Christianity and the West and the contributions of other faiths and civilizations.

Consider the bill of particulars in Obama’s indictment of crimes committed “in the name of Christ.”

Slavery was not invented by Christians. It existed when Christ was born. Fifth century Athens and the Roman republic had slaves. African slaves were brought not only to the New World in the 17th and 18th centuries but to Arabia and the Islamic world. Black African chieftains produced the captives for the slave trade.

Why then does Obama single out Christianity for indictment, when it was Christians and their teachings about human dignity, and Christian moral leaders and Christian nations that abolished the slave trade and slavery itself, which endured in the Islamic world into the 20th century?

Though he brought up crimes committed “in the name of Christ,” Obama did not mention the name of Muhammad.

An oversight?

As for the Crusades, there were indeed atrocities on both sides during these expeditions and wars from the end of the 11th to the end of the 13th century, with the fall of Acre in 1291.

But were the Crusades, military expeditions by Christian knights to liberate Jerusalem from the Muslims who had overrun these lands where Jesus had walked, preached, and died, unjust wars?

Obama seems to see the Crusades from the Saracen point of view.

But does he really believe that when Pope Urban II preached the First Crusade at Clermont in 1095 to have Christian knights relieve the siege of Byzantium and liberate the Holy Land, this was the moral equivalent of Bin Laden declaring war to rid the Islamic Middle East of Americans?

Not long go, our popular culture portrayed Crusaders as heroes, their cause as noble. Among the most famous was Richard the Lionhearted who led the Third Crusade. Gen. Eisenhower entitled his war memoirs “Crusade in Europe.”

Like his derisive remarks about Middle Pennsylvanians, that they cling with bitterness to their bibles, guns and antipathy to immigrants, Obama’s Prayer Breakfast digression reveals much more about who the man is.

He dragged in the Inquisition. Yet, as Alexander Solzhenitsyn noted, Vladimir Lenin ordered more people executed in his first days in power than did the Spanish Inquisition in 300 years.

In drawing parallels between Christianity and Islam, Obama misses a basic point. Unlike Islam, which, in one century, conquered Arabia, the Middle and Near East, the Holy Land, North Africa and Spain, until the Muslim advance was halted by Charles Martel at Poitiers in France, Christianity did not conquer with the sword, but with the Word.

Only after 300 years of persecution and martyrdom were the Christians, through the Edict of Milan, allowed to practice their faith.

Christianity was not imposed on the Old World, but embraced.

America’s problem: With Islamic fanaticism surging, with ISIS using the term “Crusader” as a curse word equivalent to “Nazi,” we have as leader of the West a man who partly shares the enemy’s views about the Christian Crusades, and who seems at best ambivalent about the superiority of the civilization that he leads.

Again, Canning’s words come to mind:

“No narrow bigot he; — his reason’d view

“Thy interests, England, ranks with thine, Peru!

“France at our doors, he sees no danger nigh,

“But heaves for Turkey’s woes the impartial sigh;

“A steady patriot of the world alone,

“The friend of every country — but his own.”

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NYT Whites Out Ukraine’s Brown Shirts

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Nazi symbols on helmets worn by members of Ukraine’s Azov battalion. (As filmed by a Norwegian film crew and shown on German TV).

Exclusive: The New York Times has been more biased on the Ukraine crisis – endlessly promoting State Department propaganda – than when it published false Iraqi WMD stories last decade. Case in point: a story from Mariupol hailing the Azov battalion without noting its neo-Nazi fighters, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

In covering the Ukraine crisis, the New York Times continues its descent into becoming little more than a propaganda organ for the U.S. State Department and the Kiev regime, again refusing to acknowledge the role of neo-Nazi militias in the civil war against ethnic Russians in the east.

On Wednesday, the Times published a long article by Rick Lyman that presented the situation in the port city of Mariupol as if the advance by ethnic Russian rebels amounted to the arrival of barbarians at the gate while the inhabitants were being bravely defended by the forces of civilization. But then the article cites the key role in that defense played by the Azov battalion.

Though the article provides much color and detail – and quotes an Azov leader prominently – it leaves out one salient and well-known fact about the Azov battalion, that it is composed of neo-Nazis who display the Swastika, SS markings and other Nazi symbols.

But this inconvenient truth – that neo-Nazis have been central to Kiev’s “self-defense forces” from last February’s coup to the present – would presumably disrupt the desired propaganda message. So the New York Times just ignores it and refers to Azov as simply a “volunteer unit.”

What’s particularly egregious about this omission is that the connections between the Azov battalion and Nazism have been well-documented for months and even acknowledged by officials of the Kiev regime, who knowingly sent these and other extremists into the battle because they are the fiercest fighters.

Even the Times itself has included at least one brief reference to this reality, though buried deep inside an article. On Aug. 10, 2014, a Times’ article mentioned the neo-Nazi Azov battalion in the last three paragraphs of a lengthy story on another topic.

“The fighting for Donetsk has taken on a lethal pattern: The regular army bombards separatist positions from afar, followed by chaotic, violent assaults by some of the half-dozen or so paramilitary groups surrounding Donetsk who are willing to plunge into urban combat,” the Times reported.

“Officials in Kiev say the militias and the army coordinate their actions, but the militias, which count about 7,000 fighters, are angry and, at times, uncontrollable. One known as Azov, which took over the village of Marinka, flies a neo-Nazi symbol resembling a Swastika as its flag.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s NYT Discovers Ukraine’s Neo-Nazis at War.”]

Not a Mistake

The conservative London Telegraph offered more details about the Azov battalion in an article by correspondent Tom Parfitt, who wrote: “Kiev’s use of volunteer paramilitaries to stamp out the Russian-backed Donetsk and Luhansk ‘people’s republics’… should send a shiver down Europe’s spine.

“Recently formed battalions such as Donbas, Dnipro and Azov, with several thousand men under their command, are officially under the control of the interior ministry but their financing is murky, their training inadequate and their ideology often alarming. The Azov men use the neo-Nazi Wolfsangel (Wolf’s Hook) symbol on their banner and members of the battalion are openly white supremacists, or anti-Semites.”

Based on interviews with militia members, the Telegraph reported that some of the fighters doubted the reality of the Holocaust, expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler and acknowledged that they are indeed Nazis.

Andriy Biletsky, the Azov commander, “is also head of an extremist Ukrainian group called the Social National Assembly,” according to the Telegraph article which quoted a commentary by Biletsky as declaring: “The historic mission of our nation in this critical moment is to lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade for their survival. A crusade against the Semite-led Untermenschen.”

In other words, for the first time since World War II, a government had dispatched Nazi storm troopers to attack a European population – and officials in Kiev knew what they were doing. The Telegraph questioned Ukrainian authorities in Kiev who acknowledged that they were aware of the extremist ideologies of some militias but insisted that the higher priority was having troops who were strongly motivated to fight. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Ignoring Ukraine’s Neo-Nazi Storm Troopers.”]

But a rebel counteroffensive by ethnic Russians last August reversed many of Kiev’s gains and drove the Azov and other government forces back to the port city of Mariupol, where Foreign Policy’s reporter Alec Luhn also encountered these neo-Nazis. He wrote:

“Blue and yellow Ukrainian flags fly over Mariupol’s burned-out city administration building and at military checkpoints around the city, but at a sport school near a huge metallurgical plant, another symbol is just as prominent: the wolfsangel (‘wolf trap’) symbol that was widely used in the Third Reich and has been adopted by neo-Nazi groups. …

“Pro-Russian forces have said they are fighting against Ukrainian nationalists and ‘fascists’ in the conflict, and in the case of Azov and other battalions, these claims are essentially true.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s Seeing No Neo-Nazi Militias in Ukraine.”]

SS Helmets

More evidence continued to emerge about the presence of Nazis in the ranks of Ukrainian government fighters. Germans were shocked to see video of Azov militia soldiers decorating their gear with the Swastika and the “SS rune.” NBC News reported: “Germans were confronted with images of their country’s dark past … when German public broadcaster ZDF showed video of Ukrainian soldiers with Nazi symbols on their helmets in its evening newscast.

“The video was shot … in Ukraine by a camera team from Norwegian broadcaster TV2. ‘We were filming a report about Ukraine’s AZOV battalion in the eastern city of Urzuf, when we came across these soldiers,’ Oysten Bogen, a correspondent for the private television station, told NBC News. “Minutes before the images were taped, Bogen said he had asked a spokesperson whether the battalion had fascist tendencies. ‘The reply was: absolutely not, we are just Ukrainian nationalists,’ Bogen said.”

Despite the newsworthiness of a U.S.-backed government dispatching neo-Nazi storm troopers to attack Ukrainian cities, the major U.S. news outlets have gone to extraordinary lengths to excuse this behavior, with the Washington Post publishing a rationalization that Azov’s use of the Swastika was merely “romantic.”

This curious description of the symbol most associated with the human devastation of the Holocaust and World War II can be found in the last three paragraphs of a Post lead story published in September 2014. Post correspondent Anthony Faiola portrayed the Azov fighters as “battle-scarred patriots” nobly resisting “Russian aggression” and willing to resort to “guerrilla war” if necessary.

The article found nothing objectionable about Azov’s plans for “sabotage, targeted assassinations and other insurgent tactics” against Russians, although such actions in other contexts are regarded as terrorism. The extremists even extended their threats to the government of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko if he agrees to a peace deal with the ethnic Russian east that is not to the militia’s liking.

“If Kiev reaches a deal with rebels that they don’t support, paramilitary fighters say they could potentially strike pro-Russian targets on their own — or even turn on the government itself,” the article stated.

The Post article – like almost all of its coverage of Ukraine – was laudatory about the Kiev forces fighting ethnic Russians in the east, but the newspaper did have to do some quick thinking to explain a photograph of a Swastika gracing an Azov brigade barracks.

So, in the last three paragraphs of the story, Faiola reported: “One platoon leader, who called himself Kirt, conceded that the group’s far right views had attracted about two dozen foreign fighters from around Europe.

“In one room, a recruit had emblazoned a swastika above his bed. But Kirt … dismissed questions of ideology, saying that the volunteers — many of them still teenagers — embrace symbols and espouse extremist notions as part of some kind of ‘romantic’ idea.”

So, why did the New York Times excise this well-documented history as it touted the Azov battalion to its readers on Wednesday? Isn’t the role of neo-Nazis newsworthy? In other contexts, the Times is quick to note and condemn any sign of a Nazi resurgence in Europe. However, in Ukraine, where neo-Nazis, such as Andriy Parubiy served as the coup regime’s first national security chief and neo-Nazi militias are at the center of regime’s military operations, the Times goes silent on the subject.

It can’t be because the Times is unaware of what has been extensively reported about the Azov battalion. The Times could even find a brief reference in one of its own prior stories. The only logical answer is that the Times is committed to a propaganda position on the Ukraine crisis and doesn’t want the facts to get in the way of its preferred storyline.

Posted in UkraineComments Off on NYT Whites Out Ukraine’s Brown Shirts

‘Realists’ Warn Against Ukraine Escalation

NOVANEWS

Map of Ukraine

Exclusive: The neocons’ war-and-more-war bandwagon is loaded up again and rolling downhill as “everyone who matters” in Washington is talking up sending sophisticated weapons to Kiev to escalate Ukraine’s civil war, but some “realists,” an endangered species in U.S. foreign policy, dissent, notes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

In recent years, Official Washington – the politicians, the think tanks and the major news media – has been dominated by neoconservatives and their sidekicks, the “liberal interventionists,” with the old-school “realists” who favor a more measured use of American power largely marginalized. But finally, on the dangerous issue of Ukraine, some are speaking up.

Two of the few remaining “realists” with some access to elite opinion circles, Stephen M. Walt and John J. Mearsheimer, have written articles opposing the new hot idea in Washington to arm the Kiev regime so it can more efficiently kill ethnic Russians battling to expand their territory in eastern Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin during a state visit to Austria on June 24, 2014. (Official Russian government photo)

Russian President Vladimir Putin during a state visit to Austria on June 24, 2014. (Official Russian government photo)

As classic “realists,” these two academics do not argue so much the moral issue of whether the eastern Ukrainians should be slaughtered in the Kiev regime’s determination to crush all resistance to its authority or whether the U.S. support for last year’s overthrow of elected President Viktor Yanukovych was justified. Instead, they focus on whether arming the Kiev regime makes sense for U.S. interests.

But what is most remarkable about the two articles – one in Foreign Policy and the other in the New York Times opinion section – is that they deviate from the relentless pro-escalation “group think” that has dominated the U.S. policy debate, across the board, on Ukraine. It’s almost shocking to encounter two foreign policy experts who aren’t on the latest rush-to-war bandwagon.

Granted, their arguments are relatively narrow, focusing on the likely consequences of shipping weapons to the unstable Kiev regime, but still – such skepticism about the conventional wisdom is almost heretical these days.

In Foreign Policy, Walt notes that despite the emerging consensus to ship arms to Ukraine, “few experts think this bankrupt and divided country is a vital strategic interest and no one is talking about sending U.S. troops to fight on Kiev’s behalf. So the question is: does sending Ukraine a bunch of advanced weaponry make sense? The answer is no.”

Walt contends that many of the prominent Washington figures advocating weapons shipments have been wrong before about the results of expanding NATO eastwards in the 1990s, predicting that the move would not threaten Russia and contribute to enduring peace in Europe.

“That prediction is now in tatters, alas, but these experts are now doubling down to defend a policy that was questionable from the beginning and clearly taken much too far,” Walt wrote. “As the critics warned it would, open-ended NATO expansion has done more to poison relations with Russia than any other single Western policy.”

Misreading Moscow

Walt also notes that the arm-Kiev advocates were misinterpreting Russia’s posture regarding Ukraine and thus were applying a “deterrence model” to a “spiral model” situation, i.e., that Russia was not the expansive and aggressive power that Germany was in the 1930s but rather a cornered and weakened ex-superpower fearful of what it views as encroachment against its dwindling sphere of influence.

In the case of an emerging power like Nazi Germany, deterrence would be the strategy to block its expansion, but a declining power like Russia believes that it is the one on the defensive and thus its reaction to an aggressive military response would be to increase its paranoia and thus create a spiral toward a worsening conflict and greater hostility, not toward a peaceful solution.

“When insecurity is the taproot of a state’s revisionist actions, making threats just makes the situation worse,” Walt wrote.  “When the ‘spiral model’ applies, the proper response is a diplomatic process of accommodation and appeasement (yes, appeasement) to allay the insecure state’s concerns.

“Such efforts do not require giving an opponent everything it might want or removing every one of its worries, but it does require a serious effort to address the insecurities that are motivating the other side’s objectionable behavior.”

But the problem with Walt’s prescription is that it goes against the “group think” of Official Washington, which “knows” that Russian President Vladimir Putin is the new Hitler instigating the Ukraine crisis as part of some master plan to conquer much of eastern Europe and build a new Russian empire.

Though that scenario lacks any evidentiary support – and goes against the facts of the Ukraine crisis which was actually instigated by the European Union and neocons in the Obama administration – it is a storyline that nearly every important person in Washington believes. Which is what makes Walt’s accurate assessment so startling.

Walt describes the dominant view as: “Vladimir Putin is a relentless aggressor who is trying to recreate something akin to the old Soviet empire, and thus not confronting him over Ukraine will lead him to take aggressive actions elsewhere. The only thing to do, therefore, is increase the costs until Russia backs down and leaves Ukraine free to pursue its own foreign policy. …

“In addition to bolstering deterrence, in short, giving arms to Kiev is intended to coerce Moscow into doing what we want. Yet the evidence in this case suggests the spiral model is far more applicable. Russia is not an ambitious rising power like Nazi Germany or contemporary China; it is an aging, depopulating, and declining great power trying to cling to whatever international influence it still possesses and preserve a modest sphere of influence near its borders, so that stronger states — and especially the United States — cannot take advantage of its growing vulnerabilities.

“Putin & Co. are also genuinely worried about America’s efforts to promote ‘regime change’ around the world — including Ukraine — a policy that could eventually threaten their own positions. It is lingering fear, rather than relentless ambition, that underpins Russia’s response in Ukraine.

“Moreover, the Ukraine crisis did not begin with a bold Russian move or even a series of illegitimate Russian demands; it began when the United States and European Union tried to move Ukraine out of Russia’s orbit and into the West’s sphere of influence. That objective may be desirable in the abstract, but Moscow made it abundantly clear it would fight this process tooth and nail.

“U.S. leaders blithely ignored these warnings — which clearly stemmed from Russian insecurity rather than territorial greed — and not surprisingly they have been blindsided by Moscow’s reaction. The failure of U.S. diplomats to anticipate Putin’s heavy-handed response was an act of remarkable diplomatic incompetence, and one can only wonder why the individuals who helped produce this train wreck still have their jobs.”

Safety in Numbers

But the reason that people like Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt, who helped plot the overthrow of the Yanukovych government a year ago, is that they represent the neocon/liberal-interventionist dominance of Official Washington. That’s also why key media advocates for the Iraq War, like the Washington Post’s Fred Hiatt and the New York Times’ Thomas L. Friedman, still have their jobs; they ran with the powerful herd and are proof that there really is safety in numbers.

Citing the “spiral model,” Walt warns that the current popular idea of arming the Kiev forces “will only make things worse. It certainly will not enable Ukraine to defeat the far stronger Russian army; it will simply intensify the conflict and add to the suffering of the Ukrainian people.

“Nor is arming Ukraine likely to convince Putin to cave in and give Washington what it wants. Ukraine is historically linked to Russia, they are right next door to each other, Russian intelligence has long-standing links inside Ukraine’s own security institutions, and Russia is far stronger militarily. Even massive arms shipments from the United States won’t tip the balance in Kiev’s favor, and Moscow can always escalate if the fighting turns against the rebels, as it did last summer.”

Walt also saw danger signs around Washington’s take-it-or-leave-it style of negotiating, rather than trying to reach a solution that would work for both sides. He wrote:

“Instead of engaging in genuine bargaining, American officials tend to tell others what to do and then ramp up the pressure if they do not comply. Today, those who want to arm Ukraine are demanding that Russia cease all of its activities in Ukraine, withdraw from Crimea, and let Ukraine join the EU and/or NATO if it wants and if it meets the membership requirements. In other words, they expect Moscow to abandon its own interests in Ukraine, full stop.”

Though the facts and logic rest with Walt’s argument, he is confronting one of the most single-minded “group thinks” in modern U.S. history, even more unquestioning than the certainty of 2002-2003 that Iraq possessed WMDs and was about to share them with al-Qaeda.

A Second Voice

Similarly, Mearsheimer warns that the idea of shipping advanced weaponry to Ukraine “would be a huge mistake for the United States, NATO and Ukraine itself. Sending weapons to Ukraine will not rescue its army and will instead lead to an escalation in the fighting. Such a step is especially dangerous because Russia has thousands of nuclear weapons and is seeking to defend a vital strategic interest. …

“Because the balance of power decisively favors Moscow, Washington would have to send large amounts of equipment for Ukraine’s army to have a fighting chance. But the conflict will not end there. Russia would counter-escalate, taking away any temporary benefit Kiev might get from American arms. …

“Proponents of arming Ukraine have a second line of argument. The key to success, they maintain, is not to defeat Russia militarily, but to raise the costs of fighting to the point where Mr. Putin will cave. The pain will supposedly compel Moscow to withdraw its troops from Ukraine and allow it to join the European Union and NATO and become an ally of the West.

“This coercive strategy is also unlikely to work, no matter how much punishment the West inflicts. What advocates of arming Ukraine fail to understand is that Russian leaders believe their country’s core strategic interests are at stake in Ukraine; they are unlikely to give ground, even if it means absorbing huge costs.

“Great powers react harshly when distant rivals project military power into their neighborhood, much less attempt to make a country on their border an ally. This is why the United States has the Monroe Doctrine, and today no American leader would ever tolerate Canada or Mexico joining a military alliance headed by another great power.

“Russia is no exception in this regard. Thus Mr. Putin has not budged in the face of sanctions and is unlikely to make meaningful concessions if the costs of the fighting in Ukraine increase. … The possibility that Mr. Putin might end up making nuclear threats may seem remote, but if the goal of arming Ukraine is to drive up the costs of Russian interference and eventually put Moscow in an acute situation, it cannot be ruled out. If Western pressure succeeded and Mr. Putin felt desperate, he would have a powerful incentive to try to rescue the situation by rattling the nuclear saber.”

In other words, the dominant neocon-to-liberal-hawk axis of Washington is pushing the United States into a dangerous confrontation that could easily be avoided if traditional diplomacy were allowed to work – and the reasonable interests of the various parties were taken into account.

While the outer-limit endgame of the Ukraine crisis could be the ultimate endgame of nuclear war, the core issue in dispute is remarkably pedestrian – the pace of Ukraine increasing its economic ties to the EU while maintaining many of its traditional business ties to Russia.

This disagreement should have been resolved fairly easily within the political structure of Ukraine’s constitutional process. In November 2013, President Yanukovych – after learning that the cost of abruptly cutting ties to Russia would be a staggering $160 billion – asked for more time to work on the problem.

But, amid mass protests by western Ukrainians against Yanukovych’s decision, Nuland and other U.S. neocons saw an opportunity for another “regime change” – and some neocons, like National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman, hoped that Ukraine could be the route toward ousting Russia’s Putin, who had offended the neocons by opposing their “regime change” strategies for Syria and Iran. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Neocons’ Ukraine-Syria-Iran Gambit.”]

After the coup ousting Yanukovych last Feb. 22, ethnic Russians in southern and eastern Ukraine resisted the new right-wing regime in Kiev, which was backed by neo-Nazi militias. Crimea’s leaders and voters opted for secession from the Ukrainian madhouse and Putin agreed to take the strategic peninsula back into Russia.

Ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine also rose up and were targeted by the Kiev regime for an “anti-terrorist operation,” which involved shelling their cities and unleashing brutal neo-Nazi brigades to go door-to-door killing suspected separatists. Conservative estimates of the death toll – primarily among ethnic Russians – now exceed 5,000 and some estimates are many times that number.

But Official Washington views the conflict almost entirely through the neocon prism of “Russian aggression” and “everyone who matters” is now intent on escalating the bloodshed by upgrading the lethality of Kiev’s arsenal. That’s why it’s startling to hear a couple of rare and “realist” voices of dissent.

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