Archive | May 19th, 2016

Obama Disastrously Backed The Saudis In Yemen, Now He’s Deploying US Troops To Deal With The Fallout

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The Obama administration has said little about its fresh deployment of American troops to Yemen, where the U.S. has spent the past year backing the ruthless Saudi Arabia-led military intervention by shipping weapons, identifying bomb targets and sending its warships to assist the naval blockade.

In fact, when he briefed reporterslast week, Pentagon spokesperson Navy Capt. Jeff Davis would not even say how many U.S. troops had been deployed, for what exact length of time and under what legal authority (Obama has not held a congressional vote over the Yemen war). Davis only said the U.S. is sending a “very small number” of forces to support United Arab Emirate’s ground combat against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

This development goes hand-in-hand with an escalation in U.S. intelligence and aerial refueling to back the UAE, as well as the deployment of U.S. assault ships off the coast of Yemen. Meanwhile, Central Command announced last week that the American military “has conducted four counterterrorism airstrikes against the [AQAP] terrorist organization in Yemen in recent weeks.” At least a dozen countries (Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Pakistan, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, the United States and Britain) are participating in or backing the military coalition.


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Barack Obama And A Quarter-Century Of US Wars

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In a front-page article published on May 15, the New York Times calls attention to a significant milestone in the presidency of Barack Obama: “He has now been at war longer than Mr. Bush, or any other American president.” Obama overtook his predecessor on May 6. But with eight months still to go in the White House, he is on target to set yet another record. The Timeswrites: “If the United States remains in combat in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria until the end of Mr. Obama’s term—a near-certainty given the president’s recent announcement that he will send 250 additional Special Operations forces to Syria—he will leave behind an improbable legacy as the only president in American history to serve two complete terms with the nation at war.”

On the way to setting his record, Mr. Obama has overseen lethal military actions in a total of seven countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. The list is expanding rapidly, as the United States escalates its military operations in Africa. The efforts to suppress the Boko Haram insurgency involve a buildup of US forces in Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad.

Mark Landler, the author of the Times article, notes Obama’s status as a Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2009 without any sense of irony. Rather, he portrays the president as “trying to fulfill the promises he made as an antiwar candidate…” Obama “has wrestled with this immutable reality [of war] from his first year in the White House…”

Landler informs his readers that Obama “went for a walk among the tombstones in Arlington National Cemetery before giving the order to send 30,000 additional troops into Afghanistan.” Landler recalls a passage from his 2009 speech accepting the Nobel Prize in which Obama wearily lamented that humanity needed to reconcile “two seemingly irreconcilable truths—that war is sometimes necessary, and war at some level is an expression of human folly.”

During the Obama years, folly has clearly held the upper hand. But there is nothing that Landler’s world-weary hero can do. Obama has found his wars “maddeningly hard to end.” He has been unable to fulfill his pledge that American military involvement in Iraq would be brought to an end.

The recent death of Special Warfare Operator First Class Charles Keating IV in a firefight with ISIS forces has contradicted Obama’s account of what the US forces are doing in Iraq. The Times, choosing its words carefully, writes that Keating’s death “made the administration’s argument that the Americans were only advising and assisting Iraqi forces seem ever less plausible.” To state the matter bluntly, Obama has been lying to the American people.

Aside from its intrinsic dishonesty, the Times’ portrayal of Obama lacks the essential element required by genuine tragedy: the identification of the objective forces, beyond his control, that determined the actions of the president. If Mr. Landler wants his readers to shed a tear for this peace-loving man who, upon becoming president, made drone killings his personal specialty and turned into something akin to a moral monster, the Timescorrespondent should have attempted to identify the historical circumstances that determined Obama’s “tragic” fate.

But this is a challenge the Times avoids. It fails to relate Obama’s war-making record to the entire course of American foreign policy over the past quarter-century. Even before Obama entered office in 2009, the United States had been at war on an almost continuous basis since the first US-Iraq War of 1990-91.

The pretext for the first Gulf War was Iraq’s annexation of Kuwait in August 1990. But the violent US reaction to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s dispute with the emir of Kuwait was determined by broader global conditions and considerations. The historical context of the US military operation was the imminent dissolution of the Soviet Union, which was finally carried out in December 1991. The first President Bush declared the beginning of a “New World Order.”

The product of the first socialist revolution in 1917, the Soviet Union had functioned—especially following the conclusion of World War II in 1945—as a restraint on the deployment of American military power. Moreover, the victory of the Chinese Revolution in 1949—which, in historical terms, was bound up with the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia—placed further obstacles in the path of US imperialism.

The Stalinist regimes pursued essentially nationalistic policies, and systematically undermined and betrayed working-class and anti-imperialist movements all over the world. But to the extent that the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China provided limited political and material support to anti-imperialist movements in the “Third World,” it denied the US ruling class a free hand in the pursuit of its own interests. These limitations were demonstrated—to cite the most notable examples—in the US defeats in Korea and Vietnam, the compromise settlement of the Cuban missile crisis, and the acceptance of Soviet domination of the Baltic region and Eastern Europe.

In the final analysis, the existence of the Soviet Union and an anti-capitalist regime in China deprived the United States of the possibility of unrestricted access to and exploitation of the human labor, raw materials and potential markets of a large portion of the globe—including, and especially, much of the Eurasian land mass. It also compelled the United States to compromise to a degree greater than it would have preferred in negotiations over economic and strategic issues with its major allies in Europe and Asia, as well as with smaller countries that exploited the tactical opportunities provided by the US-Soviet Cold War.

The dissolution of the Soviet Union, combined with the unrestrained restoration of capitalism in China following the Tiananmen Square massacre of June 1989, was seen by the American ruling class as an opportunity to carry out a massive restructuring of global geopolitics with the aim of establishing the hegemony of the United States. The overwhelming support for this operation within the elites arose from the belief that the United States could reverse the protracted erosion of its global economic position through the ruthless utilization of its overwhelming military power.

The Defense Policy Guidance drafted by the Department of Defense in February 1992 unambiguously asserted the hegemonic ambitions of US imperialism: “There are other potential nations or coalitions that could, in the further future, develop strategic aims and a defense posture of region-wide or global domination. Our strategy must now refocus on precluding the emergence of any potential future global competitor.”

The 1990s saw a persistent use of US military power, most notably in the dissolution of Yugoslavia. The brutal restructuring of the Balkan states, which provoked a fratricidal civil war, culminated in the US-led 1999 bombing campaign to compel Serbia to accept the secession of the province of Kosovo. Other major military operations during that decade included the intervention in Somalia (which ended in disaster), the military occupation of Haiti, the bombing of Sudan and Afghanistan, and repeated episodes of bombing attacks on Iraq.

The events of September 11, 2001 provided the opportunity for the launching of the “War on Terror,” a propaganda slogan that provided an all-purpose justification for military operations throughout the Middle East, Central Asia and, with increasing frequency, Africa. The military strategy of the United States was revised in line with the new doctrine of “preventive warfare,” adopted by the US in 2002. This doctrine, which violated existing international law, decreed that the United States could attack any country in the world that was judged to pose a potential threat—not only of a military, but also an economic character—to American interests.

The administration of the second President Bush ordered the invasion of Afghanistan in the autumn of 2001. In speeches that followed 9/11, Bush used the phrase “wars of the twenty-first century.” In this case, Bush spoke with great precision. The “War on Terror” was, from the beginning, conceived as an unending series of military operations all over the globe. One war would necessarily and inevitably lead to another. Afghanistan proved to be a dress rehearsal for the invasion of Iraq. The scope of military operations continuously widened. New wars were started while the old ones continued. The cynical invocation of human rights was used to wage war against Libya and overthrow the regime of Muammar Gaddafi. The same hypocritical pretext was employed to organize a proxy war in Syria. The consequences of these wars, in terms of human lives and suffering, are incalculable.

The strategic logic of the US drive for global hegemony has led to conflicts that extend beyond bloody neocolonial operations in the Middle East and Africa. The geopolitical ambitions of the United States have led to increasingly dangerous confrontations with China and Russia. In fact, the ongoing regional wars are becoming transformed into component elements of the rapidly escalating conflict of the United States and its European and Asian allies with Russia and China.

The New York Times provides not so much as a hint of the deeper objective causes, lodged in the contradictions of American and world imperialism, that made the Obama presidency a time of unending war. Nor does it forewarn its readers that the next administration, regardless of who occupies the White House—whether the president’s name is Clinton, Trump or, for that matter, Sanders—will offer not only more of the same, but much worse. The issue of war remains the “great unmentionable” in this election year.

But this silence must be broken. The alarm must be sounded. The working class and youth within the United States and throughout the world must be told the truth. If war is to be stopped and a global catastrophe averted, a new and powerful mass international movement, based on a socialist program and strategically guided by the principles of revolutionary class struggle, must be built.

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Blue On Blue: Tory Infighting Intensifies 6 Weeks Before Brexit Vote

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Tory infighting has escalated this week with increasingly bitter ‘blue on blue’ attacks in the debate on whether Britain should vote to leave the EU in just six weeks’ time.

Despite Prime Minister David Cameron urging his party not to tear itself apart, recent exchanges show the referendum campaign is causing a split among senior members of the Conservative Party.

Whatever the outcome of the referendum on June 23, it seems Cameron will have to consider some delicate party reshuffling to keep a grip on power.

RT delves into the divisions bubbling among the Conservatives.

Treasury ‘the worst thing in Britain’ – Iain Duncan Smith

Iain Duncan Smith, a former Conservative leader and long-time Euroskeptic, has fueled his long-standing feud with Chancellor George Osborne this week by saying the Treasury should be broken up.

Duncan Smith called the department “the worst thing in Britain,” claiming it is characterized by a “lack of vision” and a “short-term” obsession with cuts, Politico reports.

The Brexit campaigner resigned as work and pensions secretary in March over proposed disability cuts by Osborne.

One of the things when I left government was the sigh of relief that I never have to deal with those people again,” Duncan Smith says.

Britain’s influence ‘diminished’ by Cameron’s EU deal – Michael Gove

The Justice Secretary has launched an attack on the “disappointing” deal Cameron struck to keep Britain in the EU, claiming that voting to stay in the EU under terms agreed by the PM would leave the UK “diminished.”

Gove told the House magazine there are “fundamental problems” with Cameron’s deal.

“Even though the Prime Minister tried incredibly hard, the deal itself is disappointing. It doesn’t take any powers back, it doesn’t fundamentally alter the shape or direction of the EU. It doesn’t end the perverse movement of the European Parliament between Brussels and Strasbourg, which we said we were going to alter. It doesn’t change the common agricultural policy, it doesn’t change EU structural funds, it doesn’t have a particularly powerful break on migration.

“But more than that, it has involved us surrendering our veto. One of the most worrying things about the deal from my point of view is that our capacity to influence what happens in the future is diminished by the deal – because we’ve said that we won’t stand in the way of further integration.”

Brexiteers ‘morphing into UKIP’ – Sir John Major

Former Tory Prime Minister Sir John Major is accusing Brexiteers of “morphing into UKIP” with their emphasis on immigration, claiming they are stoking fears and prejudices.

“This is their trump card. I urge them to take care. This is dangerous territory that, if handled carelessly, can open up long-term divisions in our society,” IBT reports.

“We must not let emotions be stirred by false fear, nor allow that false fear impair our judgment on the future of the country,” Major, who is vehemently pro-EU, says.

His comments are believed to be thinly-veiled criticisms of ‘leave’ campaigners Boris Johnson and Michael Gove.

Major’s first intervention on the debate comes after claims from the Office for National Statistics that there are a million more long-term immigrants from the EU than recorded in official statistics, which did not take into account short-term migration.

Charles Lewington, Major’s former press secretary, told the Times the divide reminded him of the ill-feeling in the party in the 1990s following the rebellions over EU’s Maastricht treaty.

He says even if Cameron wins the referendum and conducts a unifying ministerial reshuffle, “there will still be a lot of bad blood” running through the party.

Sandy Higgs: Boris v David debate heats up

The Tory civil war escalated earlier in the week when opposing camps clashed over Cameron’s claim a Brexit could make conflict in Europe more likely.

Johnson responded, suggesting the claim was “wholly bogus” and argued that far from keeping the peace, the EU had stoked tensions in Ukraine.

“I don’t think the prime minister can seriously believe that the EU would trigger war on the European continent, given that he was prepared only a few months ago to urge people should vote leave if they failed to get a substantially reformed European Union.”

PM refuses to debate fellow Tories

Cameron has this week refused to take part in a TV debate with pro-Brexit Conservatives Boris Johnson or Michael Gove, saying he doesn’t want a ‘blue on blue’ attack.

He has agreed instead to appear on an EU debate program with United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage, a move which has drawn the ire of Vote Leave campaigners.

Johnson has however vowed to debate with “anybody,” as he continued his tour of the country to promote a Brexit.

 

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Queen Elizabeth Reveals She Is Ready To Flee Britain  

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The Queen was overheard saying that military intelligence suggests that if Britain doesn’t leave Europe then World War 3 will occur.
Queen Elizabeth II says she is ready to leave the UK if Britain vote to remain in the EU
Queen Elizabeth stunned BBC production staff yesterday while preparing to deliver the Queen’s Speech at the State Opening of Parliament, hinting that she is planning to abdicate the throne and flee the UK, a BBC insider claims.

‘One is making the necessary preparations to abandon ship,’ Her Majesty said. ‘A violent storm is coming, the likes of which Britain has never seen.‘

BBC staff ‘stunned’

Her Majesty was speaking to her advisors while taking on the Parliament Robe of State and Imperial State Crown in the Robing Chamber, however she was already wearing a microphone and her comments were heard by the whole gallery.

‘She seemed angry that she had to remain neutral in her speech.  She said there is solid intelligence from military top brass that if we don’t Brexit there is an inevitable World War 3 scenario that will play out,’ the insider said.

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DEEP HISTORY AND THE GLOBAL DRUG CONNECTION, PART 4: ENTER AL-QAEDA

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President Reagan, Afghan fighters

President Reagan meeting with Afghan Freedom Fighters in 1983.  Photo credit: White House / Reagan Library
Professor Peter Dale Scott sees what the rest of us miss. His decades-long investigation of the connections between the hugely lucrative and unstoppable global drug trade and the national security apparatus is unparalleled. The details are also highly complex and a challenge to absorb. Nevertheless, they demand our attention.

In this excerpt from his new book, Scott focuses on the troubling relationship between Ronald Reagan’s CIA director, William Casey, and BCCI, a still-mysterious “outlaw bank” with tentacles everywhere, and extensive ties to the drug economy.

This is Part 4 of a 5-part series. To see Parts 1, 2, and 3, please go here, here, and here.

Excerpt from American War Machine: Deep Politics, the CIA Global Drug Connection, and the Road to Afghanistan ( Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2014), Introduction. Deep History and the Global Drug Connection:

Creating an International Islamist Army: Casey, BCCI, and the Creation of al-Qaeda

The other most significant case in which the CIA became a front for sanctioned violence was CIA Director William Casey’s use of the CIA in the 1980s to promote his own plans for Afghanistan. Casey’s Afghan initiatives aroused the concern of the CIA’s professional operatives and analysts, including his deputy directors, Bobby Ray Inman and John McMahon.(35) But this did not deter Casey from making high-level decisions about the Afghan campaign outside regular channels when meeting in secret with foreigners.

One man Casey dealt with in this fashion was Agha Hasan Abedi, a close adviser to General Zia of Pakistan and, more important, the head of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI):

Abedi helped arrange Casey’s sojourns in Islamabad and met with the CIA director during visits to Washington. Typically, Abedi would stay in a hotel and Casey would go to his suite. The two men, who met intermittently over a three-year period, would spend hours talking about the war in Afghanistan, the Iran-Contra arms trades, Pakistani politics, and the situation in the Persian Gulf. (36)

Members of Senator John Kerry’s staff, who investigated this relationship, concluded that Casey in his dealings with Abedi may have been acting not as CIA director but as an adviser to President Reagan, so that his actions were“undocumented, fully deniable, and effectively irretrievable.” (37) (Casey’s dealings with BCCI may not have been at arm’s length: the weapons pipeline to Afghanistan allegedly involved funding through a BCCI affiliate in Oman, in which Casey’s close friend and business associate Bruce Rappaport had a financial interest. (38)

Unquestionably BCCI offered Casey an opportunity to conduct off-the-books operations, such as the Iran-Contra arms deal, in which BCCI was intimately involved. But the largest of these operations by far was the support to the Afghan mujahideen resistance against the Soviet invaders, where once again BCCI played a major role. Casey repeatedly held similar meetings with General Zia in Pakistan — arranged by Abedi (39)— and with Saudi intelligence chiefs Kamal Adham and Prince Turki al-Faisal (both BCCI shareholders).

As a result of such conclaves, Prince Turki distributed more than $1 billion in cash to Afghan guerrillas, which was matched by another billion from the CIA. “When the Saudis provided the funding, the administration was able to bypass Congress.” (40)Meanwhile “BCCI handled transfers of funds through its Pakistani branches and acted as a collection agency for war matériel and even for the mujahideens’ pack animals”:(41)

To access the CIA money was relatively easy. Bags of dollar bills were flown into Pakistan and handed over to Lieutenant General Akhtar Abdur Rahman, the ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence] director. Rahman banked the cash in ISI accounts held by the National Bank of Pakistan, the Pakistan-controlled Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) and the Bank of Oman (one-third owned by the BCCI).(42)

Yet there is not a word about BCCI in Ghost Wars, Steve Coll’s otherwise definitive history of the CIA’s campaign in Afghanistan. Similarly there is no mention of BCCI in Coll’s excellent book The Bin Ladens, even though he provides an extended description of how Prince Turki arranged for “transfers of government cash to Pakistan.” (43)

C-5 air cargo plane

Tons of drugs and billions of dollars were moved around the world
Photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from  (US Air Force)

Casey’s involvement with BCCI was not just a backdoor operation with a bank; it was a multi-billion-dollar backdoor operation with a criminal bank accused, even by its own insiders, of:

Global involvement with drug shipments, smuggled gold, stolen military secrets, assassinations, bribery, extortion, covert intelligence operations, and weapons deals. These were the province of a Karachi-based cadre of bank operatives, paramilitary units, spies, and enforcers who handled BCCI’s darkest operations around the globe and trafficked in bribery and corruption. (44)

There were huge and lasting historical consequences from Casey’s apparently unilateral decision to work with BCCI. One was that BCCI’s drug clients in Pakistan and Afghanistan, notably Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, emerged in the 1980s, with protection from General Zia, as dominant figures in an expanded Afghan heroin drug traffic that continues to afflict the world. (45) (According to McCoy, BCCI “played a critical role in facilitating the movement of Pakistani heroin money that reached $4 billion by 1989, more than the country’s legal exports.”(46)

A second consequence was that many of the CIA funds intended for the Afghan mujahideen were instead siphoned off by ISI and redirected to Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) for the successful development of Pakistan’s atomic bomb. “Although the European intelligence community frequently warned of fraudulent activities between BCCI, the BCCI Foundation and KRL, the Reagan administration continually denied there was a problem.”(47)

In turn the head of the labs, Abdul Qadeer Khan, “created a vast network that has spread nuclear know-how to North Korea, Iran and Libya.”(48) In 2008 the Swiss government allegedly seized and destroyed, from the computers of just one network member, nuclear bomb blueprints and manuals on how to manufacture weapons-grade uranium for warheads, but investigators feared that these might nonetheless still be circulating on the international black market. (49)

A third consequence was that Casey could help build up the foreign legion of so-called Arab Afghans in Afghanistan, even though the CIA hierarchy in Langley rightly “thought this unwise.” (50) It was this foreign legion which in 1988 redefined itself as al-Qaeda.(51)

Such can be the consequences of ill-considered covert operations conceived by very small cabals!

US Responsibility for the Flood of Heroin in the World

Here is yet another fact that is so alien to our normal view of reality that I myself find it hard to keep in mind: US backdoor covert foreign policy has been the largest single cause of the illicit drugs flooding the world today.

It is worth contemplating for a moment the legacy of CIA-supported drug proxies in just two areas — the Golden Triangle and the Golden Crescent. In 2003, according to the United Nations, these two areas accounted for 91 percent of the area devoted to illicit opium production and 95 percent of the estimated product in metric tons. [Add in Colombia and Mexico, two other countries where the CIA has worked with drug traffickers, and the four areas accounted for 96.6 percent of the growing area and 97.8 percent of the estimated product.(52)]

The CIA’s covert operations were not the sole cause for this flood of opium and heroin. But the de facto protection conferred on sectors of the opium trade by CIA involvement is clearly a major historical factor for the world crime scourge today.

When the CIA airline CAT began its covert flights to Burma in the 1950s, the area produced about 80 tons of opium a year. In ten years’ time, production had perhaps quadrupled, and at one point during the Vietnam War the output from the Golden Triangle reached 1,200 tons a year. By 1971, there were also at least seven heroin labs in the region, one of which, close to the CIA base at Ban Houei Sai in Laos, produced an estimated 3.6 tons of heroin a year. (53)

Afghan opium production has been even more responsive to US operations in the area. It soared from 200 metric tons in 1980, the first full year of US support for the drug-trafficking mujahideen Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, to 1,980 metric tons in 1991, when both the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to terminate their aid. (54)  After 1979 Afghan opium and heroin entered the world market significantly for the first time and rose from roughly 0 to 60 percent of US consumption by 1980. (55) In Pakistan there were hardly any drug addicts in 1979; the number had risen to over 800,000 by 1992.(56)

In 2000-2001, the Taliban virtually eliminated opium production in their area of Afghanistan. Thus total production for 2001 was 185 metric tons. Nearly all of this was from the northeastern corner controlled by the drug trafficking Northern Alliance, which in that year became America’s ally in its invasion.

Once again production soared after the US invasion in 2001, in part because the United States recruited former drug traffickers as supporting assets in its assault. From 3,400 metric tons in 2002, it climbed steadily until “in 2007 Afghanistan produced an extraordinary 8,200 tons of opium (34 percent more than in 2006), becoming practically the exclusive supplier of the world’s deadliest drug (93 percent of the global opiates market).” (57)

References

35. Steve Coll, Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 (New York: Penguin, 2004), 90; cf. Prados, Safe for Democracy, 489.

36. Peter Truell and Larry Gurwin, False Profits: The Inside Story of BCCI, the World’s Most Corrupt Financial Empire (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1992), 133.

37. Truell and Gurwin, False Profits, 133n.

38. US Congress, Senate, The BCCI Affair, a Report to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations from Senator John Kerry, Chairman, and from Senator Hank Brown,Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Terrorism, Narcotics, and International Operations, December 1992, 102nd Cong., 2nd sess., Senate Report No. 102-140, “BCCI, the CIA, and Foreign Intelligence,” 320,http://www.fas.org/irp/congress/1992_rpt/ bcci/11intel.htm; Alan A. Block and Constance A. Weaver, All Is Clouded by Desire: Global Banking, Money Laundering, and International Organized Crime (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2004), 27–33, 83–85; Wall Street Journal, October 23, 1991; Scott, The Road to 9/11,95, 108, 325.

39. In 1978, when the United States terminated economic assistance to Pakistan because of its nuclear program, Abedi had come to Zia’s rescue with emergency loans from BCCI (Truell and Gurwin, False Profits, 80–81).

40. Truell and Gurwin, False Profits, 153.

41. Truell and Gurwin, False Profits, 133.

42. Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark, Deception: Pakistan, the United States, and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons (New York: Walker and Co., 2007), 125.

43. Steve Coll, The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century (New York: Penguin, 2008) 249.

44.Jonathan Beaty and S. C. Gwynne, The Outlaw Bank: A Wild Ride into the Secret Heart of BCCI (New York: Random House, 1993), 66. Those interested in BCCI should also read the defense of the bank by Abid Ullah Jan, From BCCI to ISI: The Saga of Entrapment Continues (Ottawa: Pragmatic Publications, 2006).

45. Beaty and Gwynne, The Outlaw Bank, 48–50; McCoy, The Politics of Heroin, 479–80. Fazle Haq was the governor of Pakistan’s North-West Frontier province; at the same time he was also an important CIA contact and supporter of the Afghan mujahideen, some of whom—it was no secret—were supporting themselves by major opium and heroin trafficking through the North-West Frontier province. By 1982, Fazle Haq would be listed by Interpol as an international narcotics trafficker. However, after lengthy correspondence with Fazle Haq’s son, I am persuaded that there are no known grounds to accuse Fazle Haq of having profited personally from the drug traffic. See “Clarification from Peter Dale Scott re Fazle Haq,” 911Truth.org, http://www.911truth.org/article.php?story=20090223165146219.

46. M. Emdad-ul Haq, Drugs in South Asia: From the Opium Trade to the Present Day (New York: Palgrave, 2000), 204–5, quoted in McCoy, The Politics of Heroin,480.

47. Levy and Scott-Clark, Deception, 128.

48. Washington Post, November 11, 2007, B01.

49. Guardian, May 31, 2008, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/may/31/nuclear.internationalcrime. According to David Albright, a former UN weapons inspector in Washington, the network member, Urs Tinner, was recruited by the CIA from 1999 to 2000 and “was on the CIA payroll for a very large sum of money.”

50. Ahmed Rashid, Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia(New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001), 129 (Casey); Prados, Safe for Democracy, 489 (Langley).

51. Lawrence Wright, The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (New York: Knopf, 2006), 131–34.

52. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, World Drug Report, 2004,http://www.unodc.org/pdf/WDR_2004/Chap3_opium.pdf.

53. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin, 162, 191, 286–87. McCoy’s estimate of the Kuomintang’s impact on expanding production is extremely conservative. According to Bertil Lintner, the foremost authority on the Shan states of Burma, “The annual production increased from a mere 30 tons at the time of independence [1945] to 600 tons in the mid-1950s” (Bertil Lintner, “Heroin and Highland Insurgency,” in Alfred W. McCoy and Alan A. Block, War on Drugs: Studies in the Failure of US NarcoticsPolicy [Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1992], 288). Furthermore, the Kuomintang’s exploitation of the Shan states led thousands of hill tribesmen to flee to northernThailand, where opium production also increased.

54. State Customs Committee of Azerbaijan, “Opium Production in Afghanistan (1980–2005),” http://www.az-customs.net/en/hq15.htm.

55. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin, 464.

56. Beaty and Gwynne, The Outlaw Bank, 295.

57. Council on Foreign Relations, “Afghanistan Opium Survey, 2007,” August 2007 http://www.cfr.org/publication/14099/afghanistan_opium_survey_2007.html.

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General Golan’s Holocaust Remembrance Day Speech

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An Iranian cartoon of the Holocaust. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

by Dr: Richard Falk

The Holocaust Remembrance Day Speech of Major General Yair Golan

There are many reasons to lose sleep over the kind of leadership that has risen to the surface in almost every important sovereign state, and this dark generalization pertains as much to democracies as to authoritarian polities. As an American confronting the almost certain presidential choice in November between Clinton and Trump, the issue has assumed an immediacy that is not limited to what happens to the country after Americans voters choose between evils. This election affects the entire world. It should not be overlooked that the United States is the first global state in history. As such, it projects military, diplomatic, cultural, and political power globally, and yet the people impacted, sometimes protected but often victimized, have no vote. Those several billion foreign residents are disenfranchised from an election that may be as important as votes cast within their homeland, and thus if America goes badly wrong in coming years the price will be paid globally.

The problem posed extends beyond the morbidity of declining empire, and beyond the alarming prospects of further global warming and even the nuclear catastrophe that has waited decades to happen. This global embrace of disastrous governmental leadership exhibits the unleashing of self-destructive passions of peoples throughout the world in the form of wild-eyed support for demagogues and aspiring autocrats. We seem to be experiencing a global nihilistic mood that is engulfing politics in our time, causing widespread despair and alarm. This political trend is abetted by massive displacements brought about by masses of people fleeing from war torn and drought-stricken countries, especially in the Middle East and Africa. For this reason alone when voices shout bravely into the winds of disorder and depravity, we should listen intently, and respond with expressions of solidarity and gratitude.

The anti-democratic trends and leadership failures cannot be associated with the United States alone. Similar negative tendencies toward the militarism, corruption, and the autocratic consolidation of power are evident in Russia, China, Brazil, India, Japan, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and elsewhere. In effect, there is a looming crisis of legitimacy pertaining to governance throughout the entire world, as particularized by crises of legitimate political leadership and of democratic governance.

I write these words as background for an expression of appreciation for the Holocaust Remembrance Day Speech earlier this month of Major General Yair Golan, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Speaking at Tel Yitzak Kibbutz, where the Massuah Institute for Holocaust Studies is located, General Golan urged that this very special day of observance in Israel be treated as an occasion for soul-searching. He placed this call in an extraordinary context by suggesting that conditions in Israel were disturbing in ways relevant to the Holocaust, horror of horrors. In Golan’s words, “[i]t is scary to see horrifying developments that took place in Europe as a whole, and in Germany in particular, some 70, 80 and 90 years ago and finding evidence of those trends here among us, in 2016.” With obvious reference to the abuse of Palestinians the general observed: “It must bring us to some soul-searching as to responsibility of leadership and the quality of our society. It must lead us to fundamentally rethink how we, here and now, behave toward the other.” This barbed thought is reinforced with the observation, “[t]here is nothing easier than hating the stranger, nothing easier than to stir fears and intimidate.”

Golan concretized these abstractions calling for self-scrutiny through a reference to the recent incident in Hebron involving an IDF soldier, Elor Azarya, who shot in the head at point blank range a young Palestinian, Abd al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif, who was lying helpless on the ground after having been already shot, allegedly in reaction to have attempted a stabbing. Even more disturbing than this extra-judicial execution itself, has been the upsurge of grassroots support for Azarya in Israel based on the claim that he did the right thing.

General Golan made clear in his speech that he was speaking as a loyal Israeli who was intent on reviving a sense of higher national purpose that he felt to be in jeapardy. As he put it, “[w]e believe in the justice of our cause but not everything we do is just.” And more grandiosely, “[m]ost of all, we should ask how is that we are to realize our purpose as a light unto the nations and a model for our own people.”

Despite these closing assertions General Golan was immediately slammed by prominent leaders and in the mainstream media, including by Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett, a rightest party leader and Minister of Education who was in the audience. Netanyahu called the remarks of General Yalon ‘outrageous’ with an effect that ‘cheapened’ the Holocaust. Miri Regev, Minister of Culture and Sport, insisted that Golan should resign his commission as it was unthinkable to have the “deputy chief of staff, a uniform-wearing officer, be a part of the delegitimation against Israel.”

It is important to acknowledge that up until now Israel remains enough of a democracy that a prominent military leader like Golan can raise serious concerns about deeply distressing national trends, specifically a failure to treat Palestinians with due regard for law and their dignity, and the uncomfortable reminder to the Jews of Israel that this was how the Nazis treated Jews in the period leading up to the Holocaust. Of course, such a comparison is obviously meant to be provocative, especially so I would suppose on the day of solemn remembrance set aside to recall Jewish suffering and victimization, as well as given the still raw memories of the grotesque behavior of Nazi Germany. General Golan’s basic ‘wrong’ was to invoke the wider resonance of such a past in the context of Israel’s own disregard of law and morality with respect to the Palestinian people, with particular emphasis on the victimization of those who have endured the draconian occupation for almost 50 years or have led wasted lives in refugee camps in neighboring countries.

It is encouraging to those of us that believe that the only tolerable future for both Israelis and Palestinians is a just peace that someone of General Golan’s profession and stature can engage so deeply in this treacherous work of self-scrutiny. The hostile reaction of Israeli leaders is to be expected given their extreme rightwing outlook. I found more disappointing and somewhat surprising the totally unconvincing statement of General Golan that his remarks never intended a comparison with Nazi Germany nor did he mean to criticize the current leadership of Israel. Considering the unmistakable meaning of his remarks, elaborated in ways that left no reasonable doubt in his audience as confirmed by the immediate high-level denunciations that his speech received. It is a great pity that pressures and critical reactions apparently led him to make this retreat. It is also surprising as the Haaretz columnist Chemi Shalev noted that General Golan would have spoken as he did without anticipating a hostile reaction. As Shalev put it, either Golan was “brave or stupid or possibly both.”

As often is the case, the original understanding and plain meaning of General Golan’s speech will generate debate and reflection, and his retraction will be properly discounted as backing down in the face of aggressive pushback by the powers that be In Israel. Those in Israel most angered by General Golan oppose the slightest undermining of the Israeli remembrance of the Holocaust as challenging the Zionist portrayal of the Jew as eternal victim. Any words of critical self-scrutiny are unacceptable, especially if made by the country’s second most important military officer.

The question presented is whether this kind of commentary on Israel should be viewed as some serious crack in the Israeli establishment, considering that

remarks of this nature have come from dissident Israeli intellectuals and journalists for some years, including those who have emigrated in despair such as Ilan Pappé and Daniel Levy. Other Israel military officers and retired intelligence chiefs have said harsh politically incorrect things in recent years.

And on the government side there have been many signs of rightest extremism Perhaps none is more relevant than the rise of the Ayelet Shaked to prominence by being named Minister of Justice in the Netanyahu cabinet. It was Shaked who endorsed, if not advocated, a genocidal approach to the Palesetinians in a long Facebook posting during the 2014 Israeli attack on Gaza, a notorious posture that received over a thousand ‘likes’ before being withdrawn. Shaked is also a staunch advocate of moving toward the formal designation of Israel as ‘a Jewish state,’ fostering ethnocracy at the expense of democracy through its disempowering of its 20% non-Jewish minorities.

What this pattern cumulatively expresses is the outcome of Israeli settler expansionism and prolonged occupation that has become calcified as an instance of apartheid, as well as severe and lengthy reliance on collective punishment in the aftermath of the 2005 disengagement from Gaza. The widely admitted collapse of Israeli-Palestine diplomacy, within the Oslo framework, is part of Israeli turn toward militarist unilateralism in addressing Palestinian claims. I would contextualize General Golan’s remarks as a desperate outburst of concern, perhaps not consciously intended, as to what has become of the Zionist project, and fright as to where Israel is heading given trends in the treatment of Palestinian and their rights. Regardless of intentions, this is a message worth heeding.

In contrast to General Golan’s call for self-scrutiny, was the display of the dominant Israeli mood conveyed by the remarks made by Netanyahu, also on Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Holocaust Museum, Yad Vashem. As is his usual point of departure, Netanyahu insisting on Israeli identity as eternal victim. He went on to consider the recent rise of anti-Semitism, particularly in Europe. With typical hyperbole, Netanyahu compares current European anti-Semites to “Nazis who slandered Jews before destroying them.” Not content with such a frightening arousal of fear among Jews, Netanyahu lays the blame for this development on radical Islam without even a reference to the Christian neo-fascist resurgence in Europe, mainly reflecting nativist, xenophobic, and Islamophobic sentiments. Instead, Netanyahu, without naming the offenders, blames “British parliamentarians, senior Swedish officials, and opinion-makers in France” for entering into “odd pairings” with “barbaric fundamentalists, the persecutors of gays, destroyers of cultural treasures.” This is truly inflammatory rhetoric that exhibits total refusal to recognize the degree to which anti-Semitism, to the extent that it is genuinely increasing in Europe, derives not from radical Islam but from the perceived abuse of the Palestinian people and a denial of their rights. At the core of Netanyahu’s diatribe is an effort, now common among Zionist militants around the world, to act as if any serious criticism of Israeli policies and practices should be automatically treated as an embrace of anti-Semitism. Such an outlook has practical goals, especially to demonize the BDS campaign, and even to criminalize BDS and enact punitive measures against those that take part in this nonviolent transnational movement seeking justice and sustainable peace. It is shocking that United States politicians at the state and federal level are playing Netanyahu’s game, and thereby using the muscle of state power to weaken, if not destroy, the moral impulses of people of good will and active conscience who are seeking to oppose injustice and the denial of human rights by recourse to nonviolent initiatives.

There are two intertwined domains of radical concern: (1) the worldwide trend toward autocratic government in various forms, coupled with antipathy toward strangers and ‘others’; (2) the particularization of this trend as it is unfolding in the United States and Israel. There are nationalist variations that will be considered in future commentaries, as well as systemic explanations for why at a time of unprecedented global challenges, creative and progressive political energies are mainly in retreat, and being marginalized. It would seem that the kind of political imagination that would generate hope for the future of humanity is currently on life-support.

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Brazil’s Coup d’état Explained in this Ten Minute Video

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An intense corporate media propaganda campaign against Brazil President Rousseff has resulted in her suspension from office, only to be replaced by neo-liberals brought in to impose austerity.

Brazil’s President has been suspended from office, and now faces trial for breaking “budget laws”.

Yes, you read that correctly, the democratically elected President of Brazil is being ousted from office for fiscal incompetence, not corruption.

Cenk Uygur, from the popular ultra-liberal and progressive media outlet, The Young Turks, presents a very fresh and straightforward breakdown of what is really unfolding in Brazil.

Can someone say coup d’état!

Via: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC1yBKRuGpC1tSM73A0ZjYjQ

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Making the Most of Obama’s Hiroshima Visit

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Message to President Barack Obama with respect to forthcoming Hiroshima visit

[Prefatory Note: I sent the following message to the White House today, and encourage readers of this blog to do the same <www.whitehouse.gov>This symbolic visit by Obama creates a major opportunity to advance a denuclearization agenda, and we should take as much advantage as possible. I am against the mainstream advice that suggests that the best way to give meaning to the event would be to announce the adoption of arms control measures such as suspending development of a new nuclear cruise missile. These measures, while intrinsically valuable, have the downside of stabilizing the nuclear weapons status quo. What would be most helpful would be a step, as suggested below, that gives primacy to nuclear disarmament instead of continuing the deceptive practice of taking prudent steps to cut risks of accidental use and curtail provocative developments and deployments. These steps take the public eye off the supposed target of nuclear disarmament. The only was to honor the memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is by moving toward Nuclear Zero, and President Obama is one of the few persons on the planet that has this precious chance to aim at the true target. Of course, it would be appropriate, and long overdue, to apologize to the Japanese public for the ghastly suffering inflicted by the atomic attacks, but that is more than we can reasonably expect a cautious president to do.]

 

Message to President Barack Obama upon the announcement of his intended

                                                Visit to Hiroshima

Mr. President:

I applaud your decision to visit Hiroshima during your upcoming visit to Japan.

I would encourage you to supplement your acknowledgement of a MORAL responsibility of the U.S. in your 2009 Prague Speech with an acknowledgement of a LEGAL responsibility to seek in good faith nuclear disarmament, a point unanimously asserted by the International Court of Justice in its Advisory Opinion of 1996. Such a move would also recognize the legal obligation embedded in Article 6 of the NPT.

Making such an historic affirmation would give new life to the pledge to give real meaning to the vision of a world without nuclear weapons, and

act to heighten your legacy in this vital area of your presidency. It would put legal, as well as moral, pressure on all nine nuclear weapons states to comply with their obligations under international law, and in the American case, since the since the NPT is a duly ratified treaty, to act in accordance with the Constitution’s recognition of treaties as ‘the supreme law of the land.’

Respectfully,

 

Richard Falk

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Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Daniel Berrigan

NOVANEWS

by Dr:  Richard Falk

Remembering Daniel Berrigan

 

I was privileged to know Daniel Berrigan in the last stages of the Vietnam War, not well, but well enough to appreciate his quality of moral radiance and to admire the spiritual dedication that he exhibited in opposing the Vietnam War, and later nuclearism. I also knew Dan’s brother, Phil, who shared these remarkable qualities, although Phil exuded an earthy embrace of life while Dan seem to keep his distance from quotidian pursuits by living a meditative life as a poet and devoted member of the Jesuit order, as well as being inspirational anti-war activist. In contrast, Phil gave up the priesthood to marry Elizabeth McAlister, herself a former nun and a deeply committed lifelong partner with respect to social and political engagement. Together they established Jonah House (community nonviolence center) in Baltimore that continues to serve the poor and stand for peace and justice in our society and in the world. Despite leaving the Church in a formal sense, Phil never departed from his religious vocation and Christian commitment, to help the poor and struggle against abuses of state power. As I recall when I was in contact with them, because of their parental and community responsibilities, Phil and Liz took turns engaging in the kind of political actions likely to land them in prison, both exhibiting this extraordinary willingness to sacrifice their freedom to exhibit the seriousness and depth of their engagement in the struggle against injustice and evil.

Actually, I knew Liz socially before she and Phil were publically together, finding her an astonishingly lively, warmly challenging, and playfully serious personality; Eqbal Ahmed was our close common cherished friend responsible for our initial meetings, and Eqbal and Liz were both Harrisburg defendants being accused of dreaming up the kidnapping caper, which was a fanciful caper that was taken seriously only by our paranoid government security services that had planted an informer in Phil’s prison cell and then proceeded to act as if phantasy was plot. At the same time, it was not so fanciful if international law was taken as seriously as it deserves to be, and the dangers of allowing Henry Kissinger to remain at large were as understood as they ought to be.

It is perverse how our government continues to prosecute as criminals those who are its most loyal patriots (for instance, Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning) and rewards with the highest offices of the land and the greatest honors those who degrade the nation by rampant militarism responsible for massive suffering in distant lands.

My contact with Dan, Phil, and Liz, as well as other Catholic anti-war activists, resulted from my participation in several criminal trials, acting on their behalf as an expert witness. Two trials stand out in my mind—the Harrisburg 7 trial in 1971 held in Harrisburg Pennsylvania of seven defendants, including Phil and Liz (Dan was noted in the government complaint as an unindicted co-conspirator); and the Plowshares 8 case in the early 1980s that resulted from an action damaging the nose cones of the Mark 12A missile and pouring blood on documents while trespassing on the General Electric Nuclear Re-entry Division, located at King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. My main contribution was to visit Ramsey Clark in his Washington office, shortly after he had resigned at Attorney General, and persuade him to represent the Harrisburg defendants, which he did in an effective and deeply committed manner that changed him forever.

I also testified in both trials. My line of testimony was along two major lines: first, that it was reasonable to believe that the conduct of the Vietnam War and the development of nuclear weapons were contrary to international law; and secondly, since the Nuremberg Judgment against surviving Nazi leaders after World War II it was reasonable for individuals to believe that they had a right, and possibly, a duty, to act nonviolently in an effort to oppose internationally unlawful behavior on the part of the government.

It was apparent to me that the motivation for the actions undertaken by the Berrigans derived from their profound devotion to pre-Constantine Christian ethics, and was coupled with an ambivalence toward institutionalized Christianity. At the same time I felt that both Dan and Phil, in their separate styles, welcomed the legal reinforcement that my testimony attempted to provide. It overcame the widely voiced liberal objection that such disruptive behavior as burning draft cards or damaging potential nuclear weapons was unacceptable in a democratic society as it claimed the right to take the law into one’s own hands, and thus warranted indictment, prosecution, and punishment, and at best, represented ‘civil disobedience’ in the Thoreau sense of exposing the immorality of the law on the books but at the same time backing the governmental responsibility to uphold the law as it existed.

Reliance on international law and what I called ‘the Nuremberg obligation’ offered an objective platform upon which to rest such symbolic challenges to lawlessness on the part of the state. In effect, the defense rested on the necessity of such exceptional acts of obstruction as part of a wider effort to halt this lawlessness in view of the failure of governmental institutions to uphold what they believed the law required with respect to war and peace. In this regard, what the Berrigans did was more radical than civil obedience, contending that the government and political leaders were engaged in criminal activities that needed to be stopped by all possible nonviolent means. In this fundamental sense, what the Berrigans di should not be confused with the challenge to the morality of law mounted by Thoreau. The Nuremberg tradition provides a normative foundation for engaged citizenship, and claims that the sovereign state is itself constrained by law, which if it disobeys in matters of war and peace should politicallyempower citizens to act as enforcers of this higher law.

In a manner similar to whistleblowing, these kinds of anti-war actions undertaken by citizens should be appreciated as a populist check on war making and criminality by the state. We the people should support such defiance with gratitude and celebrate its occurrence as signs of democratic vitality and vigilance. This post-modern supplement to republican constitutionalism, distinguished by its reliance on checks and balances, seems currently more necessary than ever given the failure of Congress to fulfill its constitutional responsibility to agree upon a declaration of war as a prerequisite to lawful war making and even more so, given the regulation of recourse to war that is part of contemporary international law and is the core undertaking of the UN Charter, an international treaty, that by virtue of Article VI of the US Constitution is ‘the supreme law of the land.’ In this respect, what Dan and Phil believed with their whole being was the sacred importance of repudiating aggressive war making and reliance on weapons of mass destruction, and holding the state and its representatives, including in relation to their own country, fully accountable if they fail to uphold and respect obligations under international law. This is their moral, political, and legal legacy that should be reminding all of us that passivity in a constitutional democracy should be condemned as a form of lethal complicity in the nuclear age. That such a message seems ‘radical’ is itself a sign of democratic entropy and fatigue. The degree to which the citizenry of this country has been pacified at the very moment when it desperately needs to be awake and vigilant should alarm us all.

In these respects, honoring our remembrance of Daniel Berrigan, including being attentive to his poetry that was an organic dimension of his moral and spiritual witnessing, is both a gift and a challenge. What I find most enduring about the lives of the Berrigan brothers is its call to all of us to act as engaged citizens if we want to save our planet from depravities of war, injustice, and avoidable ecological collapse.

By highlighting the significance of Dan’s personal resistance to abuses of state power, I would not want to leave the impression that this signified all that made him special. Even aside from such public contributions, it was apparent to all whom Dan touched in the course of his long life that he was an exceptional human being, transparent in moral and spiritual coherence, mindful in his attentiveness to the suffering and wellbeing of others, a powerful and unforgettably vivid and loving presence, a challenge to our daily complacency. In the end, I will keep remembering Dan and Phil as an inspiration and as a challenge, as well as appreciating Liz for all that she continues to achieve by way of spiritual community.

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W Post’s new Jerusalem correspondent married to pro-Nazi propagandist

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Washington Post’s new Jerusalem correspondent married to pro-Israel propagandist
Ruth Eglash at the 2010 United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) Rio Forum (Flickr)

Ruth Eglash, the Washington Post’s recently hired Jerusalem correspondent, has what could be a serious conflict of interest – her husband’s political and business ties to the Israeli government and its overseas propaganda apparatus.

The newspaper, however, refuses to say if Eglash disclosed her husband’s activities to her bosses as company policy demands.

Her own reporting and activities indicate that Eglash has difficulties providing fair and dispassionate coverage regarding Palestinians.

Eglash, who joined the Washington Post in April, was previously deputy managing editor of the far right-wingJerusalem Post.

Close ties to Israeli government, army and anti-Palestinian propaganda

Ruth Eglash’s husband, Michael Eglash is president of the marketing firm Upstart Ideas.

Michael Eglash, who hails from Milwaukee, has been deeply involved in efforts to promote Israel and Israeli government policy for years and this is now his main business.

His firm lists among its past and present clients and close partners numerous Israeli government and Israeli-government backed entities including the the Ministry of Tourism, Taglit-Birthright Israel and the Jewish National Fund (JNF).

The JNF is deeply involved in the ongoing forced removals of Palestinian Bedouins from their ancestral lands in the Naqab (Negev) region.

Eglash’s company provides “marketing analysis, strategic recommendations and full service implementation of marketing campaign and recruitment strategy for a range of Israel programs,” according to its website.

Upstart Ideas says that it “helped to establish the wildly successful ‘Hasbara Fellowships’ organization and … worked extensively with JNF’s Caravan for Democracy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Jewish Agency for Israel and Hillel.”

The company also claims that “Our marketing strategies have turned small Israel-based educational tour organizers into the biggest players with the Taglit-Birthright Israel market.”

Taglit-Birthright, partly funded by the Israeli government, gives free trips to young North American Jews, to bolster their support for Israel and encourage them to move there.

Eglash was also co-founder of the advocacy group Upstart Activist, which appears to be an earlier incarnation of the work he now does through Upstart Ideas.

According to its website:

Upstart Activist’s speakers have delivered hundreds of lectures, workshops, and seminars on over 50 North American campuses and in communities since 2001. Upstart Activist speakers have been sponsored by Caravan for Democracy, Hillel groups, AIPAC chapters, Hasbara Fellowships, Hadassah groups, synagogues and Jewish Federations.

The speakers in Upstart Activist’s roster include members of the Israeli army, among them representatives of its propaganda wing, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.

Ruth Eglash herself has been on speaking gigs sponsored by her husband’s clients or partners although there’s no indication that the appearances were brokered by him.

She is listed as a member of the speakers bureau of the Jewish National Fund.

Last year, she spoke in Milwaukee at an event sponsored by the Milwaukee chapter of Hadassah, the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Israel Center of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation – a member of the Jewish Federations of North America.

Several of these sponsors are members of the “Israel Action Network,” a multi-million dollar initiative set up specifically to counter the growing movement for Palestinian rights.

The Jewish Federations of North America, chief sponsor of the Israel Action Network, is also listed as one of Upstart Ideas’ clients.

Washington Post conflict of interest policy

The Washington Post’s conflict of interest policy states:

This newspaper is pledged to avoid conflict of interest or the appearance of conflict of interest, wherever and whenever possible. We have adopted stringent policies on these issues, conscious that they may be more restrictive than is customary in the world of private business.

Having established this high standard, the policy adds:

Relatives cannot fairly be made subject to Post rules, but it should be recognized that their employment or their involvement in causes can at least appear to compromise our integrity. The business and professional ties of traditional family members or other members of your household must be disclosed to department heads.

There is no doubt whatsoever that Michael Eglash has been personally committed to promoting the cause of Israel for all of his adult life, and has helped establish and works closely with official entities dedicated to that cause.

There is also no doubt that the commercial interests of Eglash’s marketing firm, and therefore his livelihood, depend on favorable portrayals of Israel and negative portrayals of Palestinian rights advocates, especially for such clients as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Tourism or Taglit-Birthright.

Washington Post’s response

I wrote to Washington Post foreign editor Douglas Jehl to ask two questions: did Ruth Eglash disclose her husband’s professional and business activities; and did the newspaper believe that these activities could at least appear to compromise the newspaper’s integrity?

Jehl did not respond to either question, but sent the following statement by email, copied to the newspaper’s Jerusalem bureau chief William Booth and deputy foreign editor Griffe Witte:

The Post is committed to its stringent policy on avoiding conflict of interest, which cover the entire newspaper, including foreign bureaus and among the contract employees who work for the foreign staff.

Ruth Eglash’s apparent biases

This response is less than satisfactory, especially given the indications from Ruth Eglash’s own work and activities.

On 4 March, soon before joining the Washington Post, Ruth Eglash appeared on a panel titled Telling Israel’s Story,” alongside Jewish Agency social media director Avi Mayer and Israeli army spokesperson Avital Leibovitch.

The panel was chaired by Aryeh Green, a former advisor to the Israeli government, but the panel included no one known to be critical of Israel’s policies toward Palestinians who could provide a balancing viewpoint.

Criticisms of Zionism are “sick”

Last year Ruth Eglash wrote an outraged Huffington Post column condemning a YouTube video called Shit Zionists Say – part of a spate of such spoofs with such titles as “Shit Girls Say,” “Shit Arab Girls Say,” and “Shit Gay Guys Say.”

The lighthearted video featured numerous persons associated with the Palestine solidarity movement, including Rae Abileah, Dalit Baum, Anna Baltzer, Abraham Greenhouse, Jesse Bacon, Sherry Wolf, Max Blumenthal and myself.

Eglash refused to include a link to the video, claiming:

Shit Zionists Say, (does not deserve a link) is a clip made by a group calling itself “Existence is Resistance.” Disturbingly, they have turned a creative and entertaining genre into a very unfunny and failed attempt to make an extreme political point about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Their video does not feature one single Zionist, but a stream of anti-Zionist individuals expounding deep hatred in sick and very unconstructive way [sic].

While the video is highly offensive, it also does nothing to promote the very real and serious need for Israelis to recognize the rights of Palestinian people as human beings and the need for everyone in the region to work towards peace.

Anyone watching the video would see that it is a spoof of arguments and statements that Palestinians and Palestine solidarity activists hear from Zionists on a daily basis, although often expressed in violent, Islamophobic and racist terms that were absent from the spoof.

Eglash’s intolerance of even this sort of mild satire of Zionism, and her characterization of people engaged in solidarity work in such sweeping terms — imputing to them “deep hatred” and “sick” language — suggests she is incapable of dispassionate reporting.

Biases in The Washington Post

Biases are also clearly visible in The Washington Post. In a recent article on Israel’s efforts to impose its curriculum on children in occupied East Jerusalem, Eglash and her colleague William Booth wrote:

Israel has declared Jerusalem its undivided capital. Yet East Jerusalem is sought by the Palestine Liberation Organization as the capital of a future state. There are about 360,000 Palestinians living in East Jerusalem. A large but unknown number consider themselves Palestinian residents of “Occupied East Jerusalem,” others choose the term “permanent residents,” and a small but growing number are seeking Israeli citizenship.

This euphemistic passage fails to point out that eastern Jerusalem is considered occupied territory under international law, and Israel’s annexation is universally considered illegal.

No country in the world, not even the United States, recognizes Israel’s claims to Jerusalem. Yet Eglash places “Occupied East Jerusalem” in quotation marks, demoting these incontrovertible facts to the mere opinion of an “unknown number” of Palestinians.

Moreover it is not Palestinians who deem themselves “permanent residents.” Rather it is the Israeli occupation that treats Palestinian Jerusalemites as if they were immigrants in their own city, often using this as a pretext to withdraw or deny their residency cards, effectively expelling them from their native city.

Such skewed reporting ought to be deeply worrying to anyone who wishes to turn to the Washington Post as a reliable source on the situation in Palestine.

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