Archive | March 16th, 2017

Operation Crimson Mist, Electronic Slaughter in Rwanda

 

NOVANEWS

Spooks now use technology in Baghdad that was “proven” on one-million dead Africans in Rwanda

By Joe Vialls

Original title: American Mind Control in Baghdad

Operation Crimson Mist
During the late afternoon of 6 April 1994, a hail of cannon shells tore through the fuselage of a commercial airliner flying overhead central Rwanda. Several seconds later the blazing plane exploded on impact with the ground, killing President Habyarimana of Rwanda, President Ntaryamira of Burundi, and most of their senior government officials. In that fatal millisecond of time, the entire political command structure of central Africa was decapitated, leaving the way open for “Operation Crimson Mist”, the most obscene terminal mind control experiment ever mounted by the United States of America against a sovereign nation. That “Crimson Mist” has been used again recently on a smaller scale in Iraq, is now beyond doubt.

As Habyarimana and his colleagues made their death dive, a small group of American men and women lounged around in a large hut at the edge of a discreet gravel airstrip a few miles from the Rwandan capital Kigali, temporary home for their three unmarked C-130 Hercules transport planes. All crewmembers carried forged credentials showing them as “atmospheric researchers” employed by an authentic civilian American agency, but these were only for emergency identification if one of the aircraft was forced to make an unscheduled landing on unfriendly territory. For all practical security purposes, neither they nor their three large aircraft were even in Africa.

When news of the presidential crash came in over the VHF radio, one of the
Hercules planes was swiftly preparedfor take off. The flight engineer checked the attachment of the RATO [Rocket Assisted Takeoff] packs, while the scientists made final adjustments to a large microwave dish mounted on the rear loading ramp of the aircraft. It was this strange and esoteric piece of equipment alone that would directly contribute to the deaths of more than one million African civilians during the hundred days that followed. Though completely silent in operation, the single microwave dish had more killing potential than a whole squadron of AC-130 Spectre gunships armed with fifty Gatling cannons.

Willing to Commit Mass Murder
Though officially tagged an “experiment”, none of those present had any doubt that this was merely a cosmetic cover for the gruesome operational work ahead. Each member had been carefully vetted and then vetted again by US Intelligence to ensure they had the “right stuff”, and were philosophically committed to two objectives.

First was the evolving need to control or eliminate political dissent by remote means in the run up to the 21st Century, and second was the need to stem or reverse massive population increases across the world, which threatened to overwhelm existing natural resources, especially water and food. Intrinsically this required a willingness to commit mass murder, and everyone present had passed this critical test with flying colors.

As the Hercules’ engines started with a roar, American agents in Kigali were
working alongside local civil servants and members of the Rwandan security service, ramping up public suspicion about foul play in the presidential air crash. Urged on by corrupt officialdom, Hutu tribesmen started marching on Tutsi tribesmen and threw a few rocks at them. Innocent enough at the outset, although with a few nasty machete cuts here and there. But then the C-130 Hercules made a carefully-calculated pass directly over the advancing Hutu, and they suddenly went berserk. Eyes glazed, the mood of the Hutu crowd went from simple anger to uncontrollable rage, and within minutes, hundreds of assorted Tutsi body parts were flying through the air.

Creating Electronic Rage
What the Hercules crew had just achieved has been an open secret since the late fifties, when researchers accidentally discovered that there is a precise “control” brain wave for literally everything we do, and for everything we feel. The problem back then was that each of these control brain waves [rage, fear, panic, lethargy, vomiting and so on] had to be transmitted with an accuracy taken out to three decimal places, or they simply did not work at all. But as the years rolled by, and with the advent of transistors and microprocessors, the operational application of precise control brain waves became practical reality.

It is important to note here that the lethal trick repeated hundreds of times by the C-130 Hercules in Rwanda during April – July 1994, was not “classic mind control” in the ultimate conspiratorial meaning of the term, i.e. where people claim to hear complicated messages inside their heads, or where it is feared that the NSA [or similar] intend to turn everyone into helpless Zombies by implanting electronic chips in their arms or necks. What the C-130 crew were actually engaged in was “electromagnetically augmenting” a pre-existing state. Remember that the agents and security service personnel first had to point the Hutu tribesmen in the direction of the Tutsi, induce reasonable anger, and make sure they were appropriately armed. Only then could the C-130 go to work with the precise control brain wave of “rage”, augmenting and thus upgrading crowd behavior from that of angry demonstrators to uncontrollable genocidal maniacs. Although not “classic”, this was and is unquestionably mind control, for the simple reason that external means were being used to force an irresistible change in behavior.

For those who really want to know how governments or agencies change public behavior on a whim, the explanation is not too complicated, though obtaining details of the classified control brain frequencies is all but impossible. Various academics have actually demonstrated some of these effects quasi-publicly over the years, which provides hard reality for skeptics.

One of the leading lights in this field is Dr. Elizabeth Rauscher-Bise, who was a nuclear scientist and researcher at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and at Stanford Research Institute, Professor of Physics at John F. Kennedy University of California, research consultant to NASA and the U.S. Navy, and a member of IEEE, APS, AAAS, MAA, ANA, AAMI. Elizabeth Rauscher-Bise identified specific frequency effects to induce nausea, happiness and many other behavioral states decades ago. Clearly, Dr. Rauscher-Bise is an enthusiast: “Give me the money and three months”, she boasts, “and I’ll be able to affect the behavior of 80 per cent of the people in this town without their knowing it. Make them happy – or at least they’ll think they’re happy. Or aggressive.”

Unlike many researchers in this field, Elizabeth Rauscher-Bise tends to be open about her work, has demonstrated the effects many times in quasi-public forums, and claims to experiment only on fully informed people. Many years ago during one memorable demonstration in California, she turned a specific brain wave on all students in the left-side of her auditorium, whereupon their teeth started chattering collectively and uncontrollably. When the unaffected students on the right-side of the auditorium suggested this might be some sort of trick, Elizabeth Rauscher-Bise calmly turned the specific brain wave on them instead. The right-side now suffered exactly the same fate, watched by the stunned, but no longer affected students on the left-side.

Extra Low Frequencies (ELF)
The main problem lies in the delivery of the these brain waves to the target, because they all lie in the extremely low spectrum, between 0.1 and 25 Hertz [Cycles], with all control brain waves in an even narrower central band between 0.6 and 10.2 Hertz. These are effectively the same as “earth” frequencies, meaning that they are very hard to direct via conventional radio transmission. Remember that in order to be effective in selective crowd behavior augmentation, you must be able to restrict delivery to clearly defined crowds in clearly defined areas. This is achieved by using an extremely high frequency microwave beam, which is then amplitude modulated at exactly the same rate as the desired control brain wave. This is much easier to explain with pictures, so take a good look at the diagram below.

Microwaves in the 1.0 to 3.0 Gigahertz range travel in perfectly straight lines, like light, making them easy to control in terms of direction, regardless of power output. In most cases microwaves are transmitted by a dish aerial of the sort you frequently see located low down on a tall television transmitter mast. These are designed to transfer high volume electronic data between the television studio and transmitter, and vice versa.

Where the American “Mind Controllers” score with their airborne and truck mounted equipment is by using microwave aerials that can be adjusted, in exactly the same way as you would adjust the focus on a variable beam flashlight. How this is done is shown in the second diagram to the right.

In the Rwandan Hutu tribesmen example shown near the start of this report, the crew of the C-130 Hercules only needed to know the width of the target crowd on the ground, and the width of their own microwave beam at any given true altitude in feet [as read directly from the radar altimeter]. With those two values available, it is then a simple matter to adjust beam width to accurately bracket the target crowd from any altitude chosen.

Baghdad ‘Looting
But this equipment is not just deployed in large lumbering Hercules transport planes. During recent weeks, European security experts have concluded that smaller versions of Crimson Mist were recently deployed on the street of Baghdad, designed in part to augment the media propaganda line that Iraqi citizens are dangerous savages, all badly in need of direct supervision by “democratic” American authorities. One classic example of this was the “looting” of the Baghdad Museum, apparently by a crowd of undisciplined rabble, but video footage tells a very different story. To pull off this stunt the American authorities needed to assemble a crowd, managed quite easily with a promise of free food. Then they needed to place the crowd outside the museum, which again was easy because they located the free food outside the museum itself. Next up, the attention of the crowd had to be drawn to the museum itself, which was achieved in spectacular fashion by firing two 120-mm shells from an Abrams tank gun straight through the main doors.

Fine so far, but how to get them inside? The video shows two soldiers gesticulating to the crowd, urging them to go in and help themselves, thereby clearly identifying the target “Rwanda-style”. Then it starts to get really interesting! The two soldiers rapidly withdraw, leaving the Iraqis standing leaderless outside the open doors, and then CLICK, just like flicking a light switch, the entire crowd goes nuts absolutely simultaneously, which never happens in real life. In the real world there is always a leader visibly stirring up the crowd and preparing them for action, but not outside the Baghdad Museum. One second these folk are dull hungry Iraqis, next second they are instant uncontrollable maniacs streaming in though the museum doors.

It is also suspected that the same equipment was used to augment the “looting attacks” on various hospitals around central Baghdad, though this claim seems to be based as much on logic as it is on video footage. These so-called “looters” are Iraqi citizens who received essentially free health care in the hospitals under Saddam Hussein. Not only that, but their wives and children are being bombed and shot by Americans, meaning that their free hospitals are absolutely essential to them, and thus the very places they would normally defend in the first instance. Bearing this logic in mind, it seems likely that the European security experts are also correct in this claim.

Homeland ‘Security
While there is unlikely to be very much concern in America, Britain, and Australia for the plight of Iraqis on the streets of Baghdad, it may be time to examine what is likely to happen in our own “democratic” countries if things get more out of control than they are at present. Remember that the 2.2-million-strong demonstration in London just before the illegal invasion of Iraq, had little if anything to do with English folk liking Saddam Hussein. Iraq was merely an excuse for this unprecedented mass of human beings to migrate to London waving banners that mostly read “Not in Our Name” at corrupt politicians.

The bottom line is that the next time 2.2 million British citizens descend on the capital to have a go at the politicians [their real targets], they might be carrying something far more dangerous than banners. Every policeman and military man knows very well that a 2.2 million strong mass with hostile intent, simply cannot be stopped by standard riot control techniques, and they cannot be stopped by bullets fired by soldiers on the streets. Even if British soldiers could be persuaded to open fire on their own neighbors [most unlikely], the entire Army would be powerless to act. So what then?

Across the Atlantic in America, and in Australia, things are really no better. As I write, the American dollar is heading straight for basement levels, which in turn will lead to a depression and increased anger on the part of all Americans, aimed largely at corrupt politicians on Capitol Hill. Naturally the politicians will try to put the people down as usual, but what if this time it is a step too far. What if a few hundred or few thousand of the 260 million private weapons in American hands are brought into play, what then?

The chances are that in all affected western countries, politicians and their real masters will try to invoke the use of highly unconventional weapons in order to try and save their own worthless hides. How successful they might be when that day comes, as it surely will, is largely up to you.

Posted in AfricaComments Off on Operation Crimson Mist, Electronic Slaughter in Rwanda

Is Alan Hart Running Cover For AIPAC??

NOVANEWS

By Brother Nathanael Kapner

“Is Alan Hart Running Cover For AIPAC? IS ALAN HART A JEW?… “asked Brother Nathanael Kapner, “I don’t know if he is or not but he sure sounds like one.” he answered.

Like Brother Nathanael Kapner, idon’t know if Alan Hart is a Jew, but taking into consideration Alan’s claim that he probably the “only person on Planet Earth who enjoyed intimate access to, and on the human level friendship”with, both Arafat, “Father Palestine”, and Golda Maer, “Mother Israel”, I would agree with brother Nathanael Kapner, Mr. hart sounds like a Jew.

Mr. Hart has devoted his time and energy to get “Father Palestine” and “Mother Israel together”. For many, many years, as typed under the above picture obtained from Alan’s site, he was Arafat’s LINKMAN with Peres, and I claim that Arafat is a Jew and his  mission was nothing but liquidation the Palestinian cause as the Arab’s central cause under the banner of “Palestinian Independent decision”, then,  under the bannar of “O’ we are alone (YA WAHDANA)” he, in OSLO, sold out 78% of Palestinian land and ended the first Intifada. Read my full comment here 

Moreover, as written under the second picture signed by Golda Meir. Mr. Hart is a good friend of Golda, “Mother Israel”. For thirty two years Mr. hart used the above signed picture as a protective shield against anti-Semitism accusation.

When I was accused of anti-Semitism, I would hold up the picture, read out Golda’s inscription, and say to my accuser – “Do you think that old lady was so stupid that she couldn’t have seen through me if I was anti-Jew!” That always won me the applause of the audience and its contempt for my accuser.”

Many Pro-Palestinians Activists consider Mr. Hart as a “great friend” of Palestine, yes a “great friend”, who don’t dare to say Israel or Zionism is a cancer, Instead he wrote The Israeli-Palestinian crisis is a cancer at the heart of international affairs that has the potential to consume us all unless it’s cured. Every man, woman and child has a stake in it.”

Thirty two years ago, at a point frightened, Alan interrupted Mother Israel to say:

“Prime Minister, I want to be sure I understand what you’re saying… You are saying that if ever Israel was in danger of being defeated on the battlefield, it would be prepared to take the region and even the whole world down with it?” “Without the shortest of pauses for reflection, and in the gravel voice that could charm or intimidate American Presidents according to need, Golda replied, “Yes, that’s exactly what I am saying.” “

Therefor, to save the world, actually to save the dommed Zionism Enterprise, Palestinians and Arabs should surrender.  Surrender or face the Samson option

Israeli nuclear plant at Dimona, left. Two Mordechai Vanunu photos at right.

“In his article Palestine does not have to be a lost cause, Alan Hart advices Palestinian that the only way to save their “lost cause” is by declaring to their occupiers “… we will never accept anything less than a complete end to Israel’s 1967 occupation, as required by UN Security Council resolutions and international law.”

WRONG MR Alan Hart … WRONGNothing short of FULL LIBERATION of Palestine is acceptable to us, Palestinians” cried Nahida, the exiled Palestinian.

“Our friend wants the Palestinians to attest their good-intention publicly, once and for all and demonstrate to the world and to the occupiers of their lands that they are only interested in peace, they “should” reassure their rapist murderers, “in the most explicit terms” that they want to “live in permanent peace” with a “Jewish state” encroached over 80% of their land!! In other words, Palestinians are strongly advised by our friend to pull their acts together, organize, unite and hurry up, sign the statement he prepared for them in which they sign off permanently their RIGHTS to their OWN historic land of Palestine.Furthermore, he wants the Palestinians to declare publicly and permanently that they are giving up their right of return!
These are precisely the demands of our enemy!
Total Surrender, nothing less nothing more, and that’s at a time when the Palestinian struggle and resistance are finally gaining global support and momentum.
By doing so, Mr. Hart reflects better his domain of interest and expertise; namely zionists and “israelis”, but not Palestine or Palestinians.
Had he any real knowledge of Palestinians, he would’ve known that Palestinians do NOT surrender.Nahida the exiled  Palestinian
I disagree with sister Nahida, Mr. Hart have real knowledge of Palestinians, moreover he is an expert in Zionism, the real enemy of the Jews.
In his “own” Gentile take”, or may be his own Jewish take, Mr. Hard quoted Vladimir Jabotinsky saying:

“Zionism is a colonizing adventure and therefore it stands or it falls by the question of armed force. It is important to speak Hebrew but, unfortunately, it is even more important to be able to shoot – or else I am through with playing at colonization.

“To the hackneyed reproach that this point of view is unethical, I answer – absolutely untrue. This is our ethic. There is no other ethic. As long as there is the faintest spark of hope for the Arabs to impede us, they will not sell these hopes – not for any sweet words nor for any tasty morsel, because this (the Palestinians) is not a rabble but a people, a living people. And no people makes such enormous concessions on such fateful questions, except when there is no hope left, until we have removed every opening visible in the Iron Wall.”

Having read almost all Articles written by Alan Hart, I would say he is doing his best “to kill the faintest hope for the” Palestinians, and “remove every opening in the Iron Wall”. He like, Jabotinsky, knows that the zionist project “stands or it falls by the question of armed force”, and that is exactly what Nasser said: “What was taken byforce can only be restored by force

Therefore, for Mr. Hart, the armed resistance is not an option, and Alan hart will never stop bluffing Palestinians.

Alan, the fake friend of Palestine and the good friend of Israel as “Mother Israel” called him, has shown his true face, he was for two state solution and when the “UN General Assembly recognized of Palestine as a non-member state, he found it, it does’t fit.

As  “the Palestinians are never going to surrender to Zionism’s will by accepting crumbs from its table,”Alan made a U-turn, and to avoid “a final Zionist ethnic cleansing of Palestine” Abbas should announcewinding up the Palestine Authority and handing responsibility for the occupation back to Israel, “ he could say to the world something like this”:

 “We are truly grateful for this recognition of our rights and claim for justice, but we must also be realistic. Zionism has no interest in a two-state solution so we must move on. One state with equal rights for all is the only way of preventing a catastrophe for all.”

 Finally, it seemes that Brother Nathanael Kapner hit the nail and explained the nightmare of Mr. Hart, and why he is desperate to educate the “brain washed Jews”, why he issists to call anti-zionism, anti-Israelism, and explains his panic of“the rising global tide of anti-Israelism” will turn into “classical anti-Semitism, setting the stage for Holocaust II, shorthand for another great turning against Jews everywhere, and starting quite possibly in America.”

=========

IS ALAN HART A JEW?…I don’t know if he is or not but he sure sounds like one.
In his latest piece, “Obama’s Hegel Test,” Hart just can’t bring himself to identify AIPAC as a “Jewish Lobby” but rather a group of individuals “made up of all faiths.”
I never knew that AIPAC was an ‘Inter-Faith Movement.’ Not once did I ever see an Episcopal priest or a Presbyterian minister pandering to the Jews on an AIPAC podium.
Hart would also have us believe that AIPAC enjoys the membership of Baptist Zionists, for these are the REAL so-called “Christian Zionists.”

What a joke! The Jews who fund, lead, and make up the operating body of AIPAC actually DESPISE Baptists dear Alan. I never saw Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson headlining a single AIPAC Conference.

And any ‘GOYS’ associated with AIPAC (believe me, they’re NOT part of the funding or operating body) are either useful idiots, Gentile window dressing, or CRASS opportunists.

ALAN HART is an inconsequential author who penned the book, “Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews.”

My immediate response to the title was, “Is Alan Hart running cover for the Jews?” For MOST would agree that Zionism is the enemy of the Palestinians, NOT Jews.

This is why I suspect that Alan Hart is a Jew himself.

For those few Jews who oppose Zionism, (Gilad Atzmon is an exception who has the guts to NAME the “Jewish Lobby” as a pernicious force), seem to care more about what’s good or bad for the Jews and NOT what’s good or bad for the Gentiles. (Gilad Atzmon recently did an article on this very theme.)

Hart’s central argument is that ‘Zionism is not Judaism.’ Again, is Hart running cover for the Jews?

Believe me, for I grew up as a Jew, Zionism IS Judaism and Judaism IS Zionism. If not, then why did we declare at every Passover meal, “Next Year in Jerusalem!”

And why did we sing, “Hatikvah,” Israel’s national anthem, at EVERY Sabbath service?

Was it because Judaism is NOT Zionism? No way! Mr Hart is fooling us all.

Alan Hart’s piece revolves around Obama’s pending nomination of Chuck Hegel as Secretary of Defense who once said, “the Jewish Lobby intimidates a lot of people in Congress.”

Hart quotes Jewish shill, Senator McCain, who in response to Hagel replied, “I know of no Jewish Lobby.” And neither does Hart. For Hart argues that AIPAC does not represent all Jews.

FACT IS, (for I grew up as a Jew), MOST Jews DO INDEED support AIPAC, if not overtly, then tacitly.

Your run of the mill Jew (if there is such a thing) is very careful not to let the Goyim know that his allegiance is FIRST to Israel and NOT to America.

And those few Jews who don’t agree with AIPAC’s agenda would rather keep their views to themselves.
Why offend their fellow tribe members? Why get kicked out of the synagogue? You can count on one hand courageous Jews like Gilad Atzmon who vociferously oppose the power of AIPAC, that is, the JEWISH Lobby.

BOTTOM LINE: The intimidating power of BILLIONS of dollars, media influence, and the organizational track, finds JEWS at the very center.

To advance the lie that AIPAC is only marginally connected to the Jewish community is a deceptive ploy to let American Jewry, whose loyalty is to a foreign nation, off the hook.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Corbett Report Radio – How to outgrow the government with Andrew Gavin Marshall
http://www.corbettreport.com/corbett-report-radio-245-how-to-outgrow-the-government-with-andrew-gavin-marshall/

Posted in ZIO-NAZI, UKComments Off on Is Alan Hart Running Cover For AIPAC??

Reading Elisabeth Weber’s KILL BOXES

NOVANEWS

by Dr: Richard Falk

[Prefatory Note: The purpose of this post is to recommend highly a book by Elisabeth Weber addressing the interrelated issues of torture, indefinite detention, and drone warfare from a perspective that is both humanistic and deeply steeped in European philosophical thought, treating especially the work of Jacques Derrida as illuminating and situating these complex questions of state violence and technology in the special circumstances that unfolded after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Appearing below is a review of the book that appeared in a recent issue of The Huffington Post followed by my Afterword that is printed at the end of Weber’s important book. Kill Boxes can be ordered in the normal ways, including by Amazon, which these days I mention reluctantly as it remains one of the few respected companies that continue to advertise on the Breitbart alt-right website. The publisher’s website with information about how to obtain the book can be found at https://punctumbooks.com/titles/kill-boxes-facing-the-legacy-of-us-sponsored-torture-indefinite-detention-and-drone-warfare/

 

Book Review: “Kill Boxes: Facing the Legacy of US-Sponsored Torture, Indefinite Detention, and Drone Warfare,” by Elisabeth Weber

Rebecca Tinsley, Contributor

Journalist and human rights activist

In her timely book, “Kill Boxes,” Elisabeth Weber ironically notes the “long history of images uniting figures of torture and sacredness or divinity.” She explores the use of “no touch” “positional” torture in which the terrified victims are forced to inflict suffering on themselves, leaving no marks. When the Abu Ghraib photos emerged, the media focused on the pornographic aspects and the exploitation of cultural sensitivities. Most commentators accepted that “a few bad apples were to blame,” rather than seeing it as standard CIA and military practice. Yet, despite the 2014 Senate report on the use of torture, those responsible have enjoyed almost total impunity. What’s more, torture is back on the political agenda, and with popular backing, according to opinion polls.

 

Weber, a professor at UC Santa Barbara, explores the writing of Jean Amery, a survivor of the Gestapo during World War Two. He described torture as being let down by one’s own flesh, and experiencing death while still alive, prompting Weber to draw parallels with the paintings of Francis Bacon. With the first blow received from an agent of the state, Amery wrote, a person’s trust in the world broke down irreparably, and with it any expectation of help. Disturbing as some might find torture, evidently the producers of the “24” phased out torture from the show’s plots because it had become “trite” and was no longer a novelty.

 

“Kill Boxes” also traces the post-Abu Ghraib shift from capturing and interrogating suspects to extrajudicial drone assassinations. The NGO Reprieve has counted 4,700 attacks on Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, all places where the US is not, officially, at war. Weber writes of the post-traumatic stress experienced by people living in places where the hum of drones overhead is constant, and where concentrating on school lessons or work is impossible if one fears attack at any moment.

 

Drawing on Kafka’s “Metamorphosis,” in which the protagonist, Gregor Samsa, is transformed into an insect, Weber cites the term “bug splat,” used by drone operators to describe those they kill. As the leading interpreter of Jacques Derrida, she also examines his “two ages of cruelty;” scientifically and technologically sophisticated, and allegedly surgical and precise, as opposed to archaic, indiscriminate and bloody. As Derrida concluded, “One does not count the dead in the same way from one corner of the globe to the other.”

 

“Kill Boxes” concludes with a scorching essay by human rights authority Richard Falk. He recalls Henry Kissinger’s post-Vietnam aim to maximize effectiveness while minimizing the risk to Americans, enjoying invulnerability while the enemy is completely vulnerable. It is, Falk, warns, the surest way to convince young Muslims that only violent resistance can protect their cultural space from American aggression.

********************************************

Afterword

 Richard Falk

The United States emerged from World War II with a triumphal sense that its military power had defeated evil political forces in Europe and Asia, and should not be subject to scrutiny despite causing massive civilian casualties along the way to victory. There were few tears shed as a result of the firebombing of Dresden, an occurrence given a long literary life thanks to Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five or in reaction to the firebombing of Tokyo, or even in reaction to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These two Japanese cities were selected because they had not been previously bombed in the war as they contained no important military targets and would be ideal sites to convey the extent of devastation caused by this new hyper-weapon.

 

There is little doubt that if Germany or Japan had developed the bomb and used it in a similar fashion, and then despite this, lost the war, their leaders would have certainly been charged with crimes and held accountable. What the United States learned from this major wartime experience was that military superiority ensured the triumph of justice as well as gained for the country diplomatic ascendancy and enormous economic benefits. The unpleasant fact that the vehicle for such success included recourse to genocidal tactics of warfare was put aside as irrelevant, or worse, a demeaning of a just war and those who fought it. Ever since World War II there has been this psychotic doubling of moral consciousness that fractures the coherence of law by violating its essential imperative: treating equals equally. The contrary approach of ‘victor’s justice’ is to grant impunity to the victor while imposing accountability on the loser as by way of the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials.

 

Visiting North Vietnam in June of 1968 to view what the American Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, had described as the most ‘surgical’ bombing campaign in all of history, I was shocked by the indiscriminately devastated cities that had been targeted from air. I was even more shocked by the awareness of total vulnerability of Vietnamese society to the onslaught of what was then almost limitless high tech superiority in weaponry, which translated into total American domination of air, sea, and land dimensions of the Vietnam War. One aspect of this vulnerability of this essentially peasant society, which disturbed me deeply at the time, was the relative helplessness of the Vietnamese to do anything by way of retaliation. In this respect, the war was relatively one-sided, with war thinkers at such think tanks as RAND openly advocating a gradual escalation of the pain being inflicted on Vietnamese society until the political leadership in Hanoi came to their senses and surrender as Germany and Japan had finally done two decades earlier. After lesser forms of punishment failed to achieve their desired result, American political and military leaders pondered whether to bomb the dikes in the Red River Delta that would cause flooding in heavily populated areas, thus likely producing several million civilian casualties, or use nuclear weapons with even worse results, but held back, not because of moral or legal inhibitions, but because they feared a severe political backlash and home and internationally.

 

It would be misleading to suppose that the Vietnamese were entirely helpless. The Vietnamese had the capacity to rely on relatively low tech weaponry and the advantages of fighting in their territorial homeland against a foreign enemy, to inflict significant casualties on American ground forces and even to shoot down American planes now and then, often capturing and imprisoning the pilot. Unable to overcome this Vietnamese resilience and faced with a growing political discontent at home, the U.S. Government began as early as 1968 to search for an exit strategy to cut their losses in Vietnam. The highest priority of American diplomacy was to cover up the startling reality that despite the American military juggernaut, the United States still lost the Vietnam War. This effort also failed as the outcome in Vietnam eventually became clear enough for all to see, although Washington’s effort to save face prolonged the combat for seven long years, causing tens of thousands of superfluous casualties on both sides. Of course, this was not the first time that the political resolve of a mobilized native population shifted the balance against a Western state that enjoyed a decisive military superiority. All the colonial wars after 1945 exhibited a similar pattern, perhaps most spectacularly in India, where Gandhi led a massive nonviolent movement to induce the United Kingdom to abandon its most prized colonial possession.

 

Unlike the European colonial powers that came to understand that the imperial age was over, the United States was not prepared to cut back on its global security role. Instead it made three sets of adjustments to the Vietnamese experience so that it might carry on as previously: (1) it did its best to undermine citizen opposition to non-defensive wars of choice by professionalizing the armed forces, eliminating the draft, and managing the media to minimize adverse comment during the course of a war; (2) it worked hard to find tactics and weaponry that enabled one-sided warfare, avoiding battlefield casualties for American troops while inflicting heavy damage on the adversary; (3) it struggled politically to demonstrate to the American people that its military power could again be efficiently used to achieve geopolitical goals (disguised as ‘security’) and by so doing overcome what Washington policymakers derisively referred to as ‘the Vietnam Syndrome,’ that is a post-Vietnam reluctance by the citizenry to back a distant overseas war that had nothing to do with self-defense. The United States finally found an ideal war in 1991 to rehabilitate militarism when with UN blessings it restored Kuwaiti sovereignty by forcing an Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait in the First Gulf War, experiencing more American casualties due to ‘friendly fire’ than from enemy resistance. This reinstatement of American military credibility was further reinforced, again rather brutally, by the Kosovo War (1999) in which NATO achieved its political goals entirely through air power without suffering a single casualty, while causing substantial civilian casualties on the ground in Kosovo. After Serbia withdrew from Kosovo Washington think tanks began boasting about the new tactical wonders of ‘zero casualty wars,’ seeming not to be aware of the vast differences between types of warfare, thus paving the wave for frustrating repetitions of Vietnam in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya.

 

When approaching Elisabeth Weber’s extraordinary group of essays on how war is being waged beneath the shadows cast by the 9/11 attacks, I find this background relevant. It especially shows how reliance on one-sided warfare was being achieved by technological and tactical innovations at the close of World War II and later by a series of adjustments to the American defeat in Vietnam. There were two important changes between the wars that occurred before and after 9/11. Perhaps, the most important of these changes was the determination and capacity of the militarily inferior enemy to retaliate in ways that inflicted important symbolic harm on their militarily superior adversary and gave rise to fear and anger among the civilian population.

 

In the period between 1945 and 2001 the wars fought could be described as ‘Westphalian Wars,” that is, wars either between territorial sovereign states or within one such state, and mainly wars involving Northern countries seeking to retain their positions of dominance in the South. In these wars the combat zone was confined to the South. After 9/11 the ensuing wars were more properly understood as North/South with reactive violence in the South directed at targets in the North, sometimes with great effect, as in the 9/11 attacks. True, the military superiority, although taking new forms thanks to technological and tactical innovations, remained in the North, particularly the United States, but the other side developed the will and capacity to retaliate, although in a manner that was accurately perceived as immoral and illegitimate, and characterized as ‘terrorism.’

 

The second fundamental change in the nature of warfare, also of a post-Westphalian character, was to make the whole world a potential battlefield including, or even particularly, the homeland. In effect, the United States developed weapons and tactics to hunt for the prey wherever on the planet they might be hiding, including within ‘sleeper cells’ in its own society. Similarly, the adversary used what ingenuity it possessed to find soft spots in ‘homeland security’ and deliver violent blows wherever it might inflict harm and cause fear, a kind of low tech ‘shock and awe.’ The entire world, without much respect for boundaries and sovereign rights, has become a global battlefield in which the so-called ‘War on Terror’ is being waged between two non-Westphalian political entities. On one side is the United States as the first ‘global state’ in history with its network of hundreds of foreign military bases, navies in all oceans, militarization of space, and its many allies among foreign countries. On the other side are a variety of non-territorial extremist networks (Al Qaeda, ISIS) spread across the globe, and capable of attracting followers in the heartland of its enemies who are willing to undertake suicide missions either by following orders or spontaneously.

 

Weber’s brilliant essays shine the bright light of philosophical, cultural, and psychological interpretation on these new patterns of violent conflict that have completely overwhelmed the outmoded Westphalian political consciousness. Her approach is heavily influenced by the complex illuminations of Jacques Derrida, especially his electrifying insights into the inevitability of living together on this planet, his profound application of the auto-immune mechanism to the kind of monstrous political behavior that these post-9/11 shockwaves have produced, and his depictions of the unnerving equivalencies between the sophisticated cruelties of the ‘civilized’ countries and the ‘barbaric’ cruelties of their supposedly primitive enemies.

 

These are fundamental realities that elude the conscience, and even the consciousness, of the political class that devises the war policies for the West, which, above all claims the high moral and legal ground for its counterterrorist campaigns. It is helpful to remember that the consciousness of the politicians and decision-makers has been shaped for centuries by a form of cynical realism misleadingly attributed to Thucydides and Machiavelli that allegedly adopts the simplistic amoral formula of ‘might makes right,’ which has the secondary effect of marginalizing considerations of law. Henry Kissinger, the arch realist of our era, makes no secret in various writings of his annoyance with ill-tutored aides that remind him of legal or moral constraints that should be considered when contemplating policy choices. For the Kissingers of this world, the only considerations that count are effectiveness and the minimization of risks, underpinned by the idea that the principal agency of history is military power the results of which tended to be mostly vindicated by nationally oriented historians, although also challenged by a few historians with revisionist interpretations.

 

What Weber’s essays of exploration help us understand is that this Kissinger worldview directly leads to torture, kill boxes, indefinite detention, and drone attacks in response to the post-Westphalian non-territorial reconfiguration of conflict that currently controls the political imagination in the West. Put more explicitly, the conventional Westphalian geopolitical constructs of deterrence, defense, and retaliation do not work in non-territorial struggles in which the combat soldiers of the enemy engage in suicide missions, lack high value targets to destroy, and do not threaten invasion or occupation. What works, then, is gaining information as to the intentions and location of the potential attackers, places of refuge, and the leaders. Given this understanding, normalized recourse to torture was an irresistibly attractive option for those who saw the world through a realist optic. As well, preventive war and preemptive tactics of taking out anyone deemed by word or deed to pose a threat to compensate for the absence of an effective reactive option; this circumstance contrasts with Westplalian patterns of warfare where the stonger side militarily always retained a retaliatory capability even if the adversary struck first. An exemplary victim of a drone strike was the extra-judicial, presidentially approved killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, accused of delivering extremist radio broadcasts from his Yemen hideout that allegedly inspired ‘homegrown terrorists’ to launch lethal attacks against Americans. The realist mentality has a hard time accepting social science findings that question the utility of torture as the preferred means to gather information, and since there is only lip service given to normative considerations, it is not surprising that torture persists despite being unconditionally criminalized internationally. True, torture is sanitized to some extent for the sake of modern liberal sensibilities by leaving the victim unscarred or transferring the suspect to a CIA ‘black site’ or to a torture-friendly foreign government by way of ‘extraordinary rendition.’ We are perceptively reminded in two of the prior essays how the CIA relied extensively on the secret use torture during the Cold War, having made a great effort to develop methods of torture that did not leave the victim physically disfigured.

 

Another puzzle of these post-Westphalian challenges involves figuring out how to retain the strategic and tactical benefits of military superiority in essentially non-territorial contexts of conflict and political inhibition. The main goal becomes how to find and destroy the enemy while losing as few lives as possible on the technologically advanced side. Drone warfare, at first glance, seems like the ideal solution, a technology that puts to ‘battlefield’ use the information procured through torture and bribery, in a manner that identifies and locates suspects in the most remote parts of the planet, and delivers precise lethal blows with supposedly minimal collateral damage to those nearby. Yet as Weber so well shows the reader, the real circle of devastation is far broader than the ‘kill box’ within which the targeted individuals are closeted. Studies have now shown that the entire surrounding communities are literally terrorized and so acutely alienated as to be receptive to extremist recruitment efforts. It is revealing that a mainstream film, Eye in the Sky, claimed to address the morality of drone strikes by limiting the civilian collateral damage to one young female street vendor in an African town while the use of the drone was justified to avoid a terrorist attack on the local market that would have killed 80 persons. What was occluded from the movie watcher was the realization that the entire community would be indefinitely traumatized by this attack launched from the sky.

 

On further reflection, drone warfare may turn out to be a Pandora’s Box for the United States. Already there are reports of ISIS making use of drone, and unlike nuclear weaponry the idea of a nonproliferation regime for drones is generally dismissed as utterly fanciful. But the seductive short-term appeal of drone warfare seems irresistible even to a Nobel Peace Prize recipient like Barack Obama. What drones offer is a way of ignoring sovereignty and geography without provoking widespread protests likely to erupt if either lots of civilians died (civilian casualties were not even counted in Iraq and Afghanistan by the Rumsfeld Defense Department as a matter of policy and if deaths do not result, while the Obama presidency ignores completely the community terrorization caused by drone strikes) or American pilots were occasionally shot down or captured. It also avoids the Guantánamo range of problems. Drone operators can sit comfortably in their Nevada office complex thousands of miles from the target, and yet have an eerily intimate relationship to the human damage done due to remote visualization technology. Weber’s commentary here tells us much about the paradoxically unnerving relationship between distance and proximity in this new era.

 

The greatest blow to our Westphalian sensibilities is undoubtedly what Derrida describes as the dynamics of the ‘auto-immune response.’ It is here that horror is reproduced by adopting methods to protect the threatened political organism, the homeland, that are no less cruel than what has been experienced. In effect, terrorism begets terrorism, and humane values, always precarious and subject to rights of exception, are explicitly subordinated to the alleged requirements of ‘security.’ The post-Westphalian turn encroaches upon the rights of the threatened society by making everyone a potential suspect, and especially implicates those who share a religious and ethnic identity with the assailants, and become too often designated as secondary targets. Weber shows the rather grotesque equivalence between the suicide bomber and the drone operator, simultaneously inflicting death and situating their bodies outside the zone of retaliatory violence.

 

One of the greatest contributions made by Weber takes the form of indicating the extreme censorship imposed on the publication of poems written by those detained at Guantánamo. The justification given was that poems might transmit coded messages, although it is hard to imagine what useful information could be conveyed by those held in conditions of prolonged captivity. A better explanation might be the reluctance of Guantánamo officials to give these prisoners an opportunity to bear witness to their sufferings and often personal and spiritual aspirations, which would undermine security by ‘humanizing’ terrorists that need to be thought of as ‘the worst of the worst’ to sustain homeland morale. Such a line of interpretation adds weight to Weber’s central claim that the humanist sensibility poses a real challenge, if not a threat, to the militarized mentality that allows the modern forms of cruelty to pass undetected through the metal detectors of ‘civilized societies.‘

 

I think a reading of Kill Boxes is particularly valuable at this time to unmask the inhumane features of post-Westphalian forms of violent conflict. We are left to ponder whether it is too late to wish for a humane future in which there is respect for and deference to the dynamics of self-determination in the non-West. We need also to seek to have the deadly mechanisms of the post-9/11 auto-immune reactive politics pass through ethical filters before carrying out their deadly missions, sometimes in foreign countries that are even remote from the declared combat zones. At the very least, the challenges posed throughout this book point to an urgent need to reconstruct international humanitarian law in light of the realities of these non-territorial patterns of transnational conflict.

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PCHR Calls upon PA to Respect Right to Peaceful Assembly

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The Palestinian Center for Human rights (PCHR) condemns the Palestinian security services’ forcible dispersal of a peaceful protest in Ramallah yesterday. The dispersal was accompanied with arresting and attacking participants, including journalists, with sticks, heavily firing of tear gas canisters and shooting in the air. PCHR calls for a serious investigation into such attacks and bringing perpetrators to justice. PCHR further stresses that the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are ensured under the Palestinian Basic Law and international human rights instruments.

According to PCHR’s investigations, at approximately 12:00 on Sunday, 12 March 2017, Palestinian activists organized a protest in front of the Courts Complex in al-Balou’a neighborhood in al-Bireh as the court was considering the case of Basel al-‘A’raj, who was killed by Israeli forces a week ago, and five others. The protestors stood on the pavement holding pictures of Basel and chanting slogans against the security coordination.

The number of protestors then increased, and journalists started to arrive.  The street was then closed from both directions, so Palestinian officers arrived at the area and threatened by force the protestors and journalists to stay away and break up the protest.  After a short time, 20 police cars carrying out masked security officers with batons arrived.  When the officers stepped out of the cars, altercations occurred between them and the protestors.

The security officers then beat up the journalists and protestors and fired sound bombs and tear gas canisters.  During this, special police officers and a person dressed in civilian clothes attacked the father of Basel al-A’araj.  Moreover, a number of lawyers, including Farid al-Atrash who is a lawyer in the Independent Commission for Human Rights (ICHR), were attacked.  Many journalists were attacked as well, including Mohammed Abu Shoushah, a photojournalist at Roya Television, and cameras belonging to some satellite channels were broken, including a camera belonging to Jihad Barakat, a reporter at Palestine Today. Furthermore, 6 persons were arrested in the Balou’a Investigation office and an hour later released after taking their personal data.  In general, 16 persons were wounded by the security officers, but only 5 of whom were taken to the Palestine Medical Complex.

 

In this context, PCHR stresses that the right to peaceful assembly is constitutionally guaranteed under Article 26 (5) of the Palestinian Basic Law and in Public Meetings Law No. 12 /1998. Accordingly, PCHR:

  1. Calls upon the Attorney General to investigate those incidents, including attacking civilians and firing tear gas canisters at them, inspect the security officers’ violations, and hold those responsible accountable; and
  2. Calls upon the government in Ramallah to respect law and civilian’s dignity, stop the security services’ interference into the civil life and to take all necessary measures to respect public and press freedoms that are constitutionally ensured under the international human rights standards.

 

 

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Globalization Is Just a Contemporary Word for Financial Colonialism

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By Mark Karlin

The collapsed remains of the Rana Plaza garment factory in near Dhaka, Bangladesh, June 30, 2013. The police in Bangladesh filed formal murder charges June 1, 2015, against 41 people accused of involvement in the 2013 collapse of a building that housed several clothing factories, leaving more than 1,100 people dead in the worst disaster in garment industry history. (Photo: Khaled Hasan / The New York Times)

The collapsed remains of the Rana Plaza garment factory in near Dhaka, Bangladesh, June 30, 2013. The police in Bangladesh filed formal murder charges June 1, 2015, against 41 people accused of involvement in the 2013 collapse of a building that housed several clothing factories, leaving more than 1,100 people dead in the worst disaster in garment industry history. (Photo: Khaled Hasan / The New York Times)

The “have” nations increase profits for their corporations at the expense of grievously underpaid workers in developed nations. The developed nations call this globalization, John Smith argues in his book Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century: Globalization, Super-Exploitation, and Capitalism’s Final Crisis. In this interview with Truthout, Smith discusses his contention that globalization is just neocolonialism by another name.

Mark Karlin: Why did you choose to begin your book with the collapse of Rana Plaza in 2013, which killed more than one thousand exploited garment workers in Bangladesh?

John Smith: Three reasons. First, the Rana Plaza disaster — a heinous crime, not an accident — aroused the sympathy and solidarity of hundreds of millions of people around the world, and reminded us all of just how intimately connected we are to the women and men who make our T-shirts, trousers and underwear. It epitomized the dangerous, exploitative and oppressive conditions endured by hundreds of millions of workers in low-wage countries whose labor provides firms in imperialist countries with much of their raw materials and intermediate inputs and working people with so many of our consumer goods. I wanted to bring these legions of low-wage workers “into the room” from the very beginning; to confront readers with the fact of our mutual interdependence and also with facts about the great differences in wages, living conditions and life chances that we are aware of but too often choose to ignore.

This brings me to the second reason. Fidel Castro, the greatest revolutionary of our times, explained Cuba’s unparalleled international solidarity as repayment of its debt to humanity. We who live in imperialist countries have an enormous debt of solidarity to our sisters and brothers in nations that have been and are being ransacked by our governments and transnational corporations! There can be no talk of socialism or progress of any sort until we acknowledge this debt and begin to repay it! We need to redefine — or better, rediscover — the real meaning of socialism: the transitional stage of society between capitalism and communism in which all forms of oppression and discrimination which violate the equality and unity of working people are progressively and consciously overcome. It is indisputable that the greatest violation of this equality and greatest obstacle to our unity arises from the division of the world between a handful of oppressor nations and the rest; working people in imperialist nations must seize political power and wrest control of the means of production in order to heal this mutilating division. This is what informed my decision to begin Imperialism in the Twenty-First Century with the Rana Plaza disaster.

Finally, Rana Plaza and Bangladesh’s garment industry is an extremely useful case study which exemplifies features shared with other low-wage manufactures-exporting nations. These include the centrality of ultra-low wages, the predilection of employers for female labor, and the growing preference of firms based in imperialist countries for arm’s-length relations with their low-wage suppliers, as opposed to foreign direct investment. Furthermore, analysis of Bangladesh’s garment industry poses a series of questions and paradoxes which mainstream economics cannot resolve and which Marxist economists have barely begun to tackle. Chief amongst them is the mainstream doctrine that wages reflect productivity, and that if Bangladeshi wages are so low it means the productivity of its workers are correspondingly low — but how can this be true when they work so intensely and for such long hours? Another is this: what is the relation between the global shift of production to low-wage countries and the global economic crisis, still in its early stages? This question is absent from mainstream and most Marxist accounts of the crisis, rendering them, in my opinion, completely redundant. The study of the Rana Plaza disaster and of Bangladesh’s garment industry therefore generates a list of issues and paradoxes which provide the themes for each subsequent chapter, and so serves to organize the whole of the rest of the book.

John Smith. (Photo: Monthly Review Press)

John Smith. (Photo: Monthly Review Press)

How has uber-capitalism, asserted globally by developed nations, replaced the need to control colony nations through direct political power?

Uber-capitalism signifies the supremacy of the law of value, which now rules uber alles. In other words, markets — in particular, capital markets and the capitalists who wield their social power through these markets– rule the world to a greater extent than ever before. This doesn’t mean there’s nothing else under the sun — pre-capitalist communal societies and subsistence economies still survive in parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America, as do the post-capitalist economic relations manifested in the welfare states in imperialist democracies (a major concession won by workers in those countries, financed to a large extent by the proceeds of super-exploitation in low-wage nations), the post-capitalist economic relations in Cuba defended by the revolutionary power of its working people and the remnants of China’s socialist revolution which have yet to be reversed by this country’s ongoing transition to capitalism. However, as capitalist social relations have extended their grip on the oppressed nations of the global South, and as the transition back to capitalism of the former socialist countries gathers pace, so these remaining redoubts of non-capitalism have shrunk, and today exist in highly antagonistic contradiction to rampant “market forces,” a euphemism for capitalist power.

The social power of capital is enforced through the so-called rule of law, which exalts the sanctity of private property and negates the sanctity of human life. Any people that dares to defy laws protecting capitalist property, e.g. by defaulting on debts or by expropriating assets, is subject to the most severe economic penalties, and, if that is not sufficient, is threatened with subversion, terrorism and invasion. The transition from colonialism of yesteryear to the neocolonialism of today is analogous to the transition from slavery to wage-slavery, and merely signifies that capitalism has largely dispensed with archaic, precapitalist forms of domination and exploitation, while taking great care to preserve its monopoly of military force for use in cases of revolutionary challenge to its rule.

What is the “GDP illusion?”

GDP — gross domestic product — measures the monetary value of all the goods and services produced for sale within a national economy. It is often criticized for what it excludes — goods and services that aren’t produced for sale, such as those produced by domestic labor and those provided for free by the state; and so-called “externalities,” i.e. the social and environmental costs which don’t appear in the accounts of private firms, such as pollution, damage to workers health, etc. However, it has never, to the best of my knowledge, been criticized for what it includes. The problem can be illustrated by considering the mark-up on a T-shirt made in Bangladesh and consumed in the US. Leaving aside, for simplicity’s sake, the cost of transport and of the raw materials used up in production, up to $19 of the $20 final sale price will appear in the GDP of the US, the country where this commodity is consumed, while the GDP of Bangladesh will be expanded by just $1, made up of the factory-owner’s profits, taxes levied by the state, and a few cents paid to the workers who actually made the T-shirt. The $19 mark-up can be broken down into the “value-added” by wholesalers and retailers and by the advertisers, owners of commercial property, etc. who provide services to them. This strongly suggests that much, most or all of the value-added that is captured by US wholesalers and retailers was actually generated in Bangladesh, not in the US.

GDP is simply the aggregate of all of the value-added of all the firms in a national economy. Taxes, and the government services financed by these taxes, are accounted for by assuming that the value of these services is exactly equal to the taxes used to pay for them — and so GDP can therefore be calculated by summing firms’ income before the deduction of taxes.

What is critical, therefore, is the nature of so-called “value-added.” For an individual firm, this is obtained by subtracting the cost of inputs from the monetary value of its output. At this point, mainstream economic theory and standard accounting practice makes a crucial and wholly arbitrary assumption: a firm’s value-added is identical to the new value created by the production process within that firm and does not include any value generated elsewhere and captured by that firm in circulation, i.e. in markets, where titles to value are circulated but none is generated. This conflation of the value generated in the production of a commodity and the price received for it is the basis of the ruling economic doctrine in all its forms. On the other hand, recognition that the value generated in production and the value captured in the marketplace are two entirely different quantities which bear no necessary relationship to each other is the starting point of Marxist value theory, one implication of which is that activities, such as advertising, security services and banking produce no value whatsoever and are instead overhead costs, forms of social consumption of values generated in productive sectors of the economy — much of which have been relocated to low-wage countries like Bangladesh.

This, then, is what I call the GDP illusion, whereby the value generated by low-wage labor in poor countries appears to be generated domestically in rich countries. In this way, the parasitic and exploitative relationship between imperialist countries and low-wage countries is veiled by supposedly objective raw economic data, considered as such even by many Marxist and other radical critics of the system who should know better.

How do you define “global labor arbitrage”?

This term was popularized in the early 2000s by Stephen Roach, a senior economist at Morgan Stanley, who described global labor arbitrage as the replacement of “high-wage workers here with like-quality, low-wage workers abroad,”  adding that “extract[ing] product from relatively low-wage workers in the developing world has become an increasingly urgent survival tactic for companies in the developed economies.” Yet this only offers a superficial description of the phenomenon, while the mainstream theory that Roach subscribes to does not adequately explain it. Before I give my definition of global labor arbitrage, I should first explain its meaning in terms of the mainstream economic theory. Simply, it means moving production to where labor costs are lowest. “Labor costs” doesn’t just refer to wages — from the capitalist’s point of view, what matters as well as the cost of labor (i.e., the wage) is the monetary value of the goods or services produced by this labor — in other words, unit labor cost, defined as the cost of the labor required to produce an extra unit of output. According to mainstream theory, efficient, unimpeded markets equate workers’ wages with their “marginal product,” i.e. their contribution to total output, and from this two important consequences flow. First, workers are not exploited — they receive in wages no more and no less than they contribute. Second, free markets equalize unit labor costs between industries and countries — if wages are higher for some workers, it means they are more productive.

So, if, in the real world, (unit) labor costs are actually lower in some countries than in others, it means that workers in those countries receive wages which are lower than their marginal product — in other words, even according to mainstream economic theory, they are being exploited. And, secondly, it means that the functioning of the labor market is impeded by extra-economic factors that depress wages, namely restrictions on the free movement of labor across borders. In mainstream economic theory, “arbitrage” means profiting from market imperfections that result in the same commodity fetching a different price in one place than in another. No other market suffers from imperfections on anything like the same scale as those encountered by the sellers of living labor, creating enormous opportunities for corporations to profit at their expense.

While none of this can be disputed by mainstream economists, the norm is to obfuscate these issues for what might be called public relations reasons, and it is to his credit that Stephen Roach spoke so plainly. But the mainstream explanation is inadequate, for several reasons. First, workers don’t just replace their wages; their unpaid labor is the source of all of the capitalists’ profits, and also pays for economic activities that do not add to social wealth, such as advertising, security, finance, etc. In other words, the exploitation of living labor is fundamental to capitalism and does not depend on market imperfections. Second, suppression of the free movement of labor cannot be regarded as an incidental, exogenous factor; instead, we need a concept that recognizes this to be an intrinsic part of contemporary global capitalism. And the same goes for the compulsion mentioned by Stephen Roach that has obliged capitalists in imperialist countries, on pain of extinction, to shift production to low-wage countries.

My definition of so-called global labor arbitrage is, therefore, that the division of the world between a handful of oppressor nations and a great number of oppressed nations, “the essence of imperialism,” as Lenin said, is now an intrinsic property of the capital/labor relation and is manifested in the racially- and nationally-stratified global workforce; and that the super-exploitation this makes possible is a central factor countering the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, postponing the eruption of systemic crisis until the first decade of the 21st century.

What is the relationship between imperialism as currently practiced and mass migration?
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Decolonization has emancipated the national bourgeoisies of the oppressed nations, giving them a place for their snouts in the trough, but the working peoples of the oppressed nations, whose hard-fought struggles achieved decolonization, still await their day of liberation. The division of the world between a handful of oppressor nations and a great majority of oppressed nations is today manifested in the racial and national hierarchy that constitutes the global working class; maintaining these divisions plays an absolutely central political as well as economic role in capitalism’s continued survival. Violent suppression of free movement of labor across national borders, especially those between imperialist and low-wage nations, is a key factor producing and perpetuating wide international wage differentials; these in turn propel both the migration of production processes to low-wage countries and the migration of low-wage workers to imperialist countries, which are therefore two sides of the same coin.

How is gender discrimination built into the capitalist workforce?

Capitalists utilize all forms of division and disunity amongst working people in order to reap super-profits from doubly-oppressed layers and to bear down on the wages of all workers. Since hunger for cheap labor is the main force driving the global shift of production, it’s no surprise this is manifested in a preference for the cheapest labor in those countries, namely that of women (and children); and as Bangladesh illustrates, this is no less true of countries where patriarchal culture has hitherto excluded women from life and labor outside the home. Conferring the status of wageworkers and breadwinners on young women and concentrating them in large numbers in factories tends to transform their social status and self-image, never more so than when fighting street battles with baton-wielding cops and company goons. To temper the subversive consequences of their greed, capitalist politicians crank up promotion of obscurantist, patriarchal ideologies, aimed at impeding the growth of militant class consciousness among these doubly-oppressed layers of the working class, performing a similar function to the promotion of sexiest celebrity culture and the cosmetics and fashion industries in other parts of the world.

More generally, the wealth gap between men and women is much greater than the income gap, reflecting the cumulative results of centuries and millennia of patriarchal class society. Patriarchy, like imperialism, predated capitalism and was a condition for its rise. Frederick Engels explained, in Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, that women’s oppression originated in the transition from primitive communism to class society, when a layer of the male population used their superior physical strength and aggression to seize possession of the social surplus and live at the expense of the rest of society. To pass accumulated wealth down the male line, they seized control of women’s fertility, resulting in what Engels called the “world-historic downfall of the female sex.” This implies that social revolution, opening the door to the abolition of class division, is a prerequisite for uprooting women’s oppression, which can only be accomplished by building a society that places human beings and children at its center, in place of profit and private wealth accumulation.

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New case of neonatal herpes caused by Jewish circumcision

NOVANEWSNew case of neonatal herpes caused by Jewish circumcision
New case of neonatal herpes caused by Jewish circumcision
New case of neonatal herpes caused by Jewish circumcision

The city Health Department has reported a new case of neonatal herpes caused by a controversial ritual Jewish circumcision.The ancient practice — known as metzitzah b’peh — requires a mohel, the person performing the circumcision, to suck blood from the incision on an infant’s penis.

It has long been linked to neonatal herpes and has consistently raised red flags in the medical community.

The practice continues without restriction in the city after Mayor de Blasio made a pledge to the ­Hasidic community during his 2013 campaign to lift a requirement of written parental consent.

Health officials sent out an alert to doctors Wednesday about the latest case and urged them to be vigilant.

The infant in the new case was hospitalized for 14 days and was reported to be ­recovering.

According to the Health Department, 24 cases of herpes have been linked to circumcision since 2000. Two of the infants died and two others suffered brain damage.

Last year, there were two cases. In 2015, there were three cases.

Since 2006, 22 percent of all male neonatal herpes cases were linked to ritual circumcision.

Leaders of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community have opposed any restrictions on the centuries-old ritual as an infringement on religious freedom.

Mohels who perform the circumcisions are not even required to be tested for herpes, according to Health Department rules.

In a bid to restrict the risky procedure, the Bloomberg administration required parents to sign a consent form.

But de Blasio and the city Board of Health scrapped the requirement in 2015.

As part of a compromise, the Health Department distributes pamphlets to doctors, hospitals and parents warning that “some babies can get herpes, which can even lead to death” following metzitzah b’peh.

Health officials fretted that many parents haven’t seen the brochures.

“Despite these efforts, parents of case-patients infected have not reported seeing the pamphlet or poster,” the department alert to doctors said.

De Blasio said Wednesday the city was “now in the process of identifying the mohel and we expect full cooperation from the community.”

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One hundred years of the Balfour Declaration

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Balfour, Britain and the Israeli flag

By Lawrence Davidson

The Balfour Declaration

British Prime Minister Theresa May has announced that Britain will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration later this year. The Conservative Party leader addressed her party’s “Friends of Israel” faction and declared that the Balfour Declaration was “one of the most important letters in history” while pledging that her government would celebrate itwith pride.”

Her determination to do so is a clear indication that those who control national politics also control official interpretations of history. In the case of the Balfour Declaration’s centenary, it is the ongoing alliance of Zionist special interests and British political power that is about to turn what has been a disaster for Britons, Jews and Palestinians alike, into a source of national pride.

I have told the story of the Balfour Declaration in documented detail in my book America’s Palestine. Here is a brief synopsis:

The November 1917 declaration was a World War I expedient undertaken by the then British government to enlist the aid of worldwide Jewry (mistakenly believed to be led by the fledgling World Zionist Organisation) to the British side. In exchange the British government promised to create a “Jewish national home” in Arab Palestine after the war. In so doing it sought to buy Jewish assistance with someone else’s currency – that is, with territory then belonging to the Ottoman Empire.

In the case of the Balfour Declaration’s centenary, it is the ongoing alliance of Zionist special interests and British political power that is about to turn what has been a disaster for Britons, Jews and Palestinians alike, into a source of national pride. 

Key members of the war cabinet in London, such as the foreign secretary, Arthur Balfour, were believers in the myth of worldwide Jewish power, and on that basis were convinced that Jewish influence in Washington could help bring the United States into the war as a British ally, and at the same time keep their eastern front ally, the Russians, from leaving the war. Though the US did soon enter the war, it had nothing to do with Jewish influence, and the Russians, now led by the Bolsheviks, proceeded to make a separate peace with the Germans.

At the end of World War I the Ottoman Empire collapsed and Britain found itself in military control of Palestine. The government in London then proceeded to follow up on its promise to the Zionists. It did so by allowing the massive immigration of European Jews into Palestine. At this point the policy was driven by a blend of religious and racist beliefs, along with imperial ambitions. First, there was the fact that the Jews were seen as European allies who would allegedly help secure a strategic part of the Middle East for the British Empire, and second there was a mesmerising mythic belief that a Jewish national home was somehow in line with the fulfilment of biblical prophecy. In the end none of this played out well for the British. In 1948 they were driven out of Palestine by both violently hostile Zionists and Arab nationalists. They left with their tails between their legs.

It appears that Prime Minister May and her party’s “Friends of Israel” reject this history. Or, perhaps they don’t care about documented facts because all that now matters is keeping for the Conservative Party the financial backing of the Zionist lobby. Such is democratic politics in the West.

A disaster all around

It is worth repeating that the consequences of the Balfour Declaration have proven to be disastrous. British hegemony lasted but 30 years and, as just mentioned, ended in an ignominious withdrawal. The Palestinians have suffered decades of dispossession and ethnic cleansing. And the Jews, religious and secular, of the resulting state of Israel, now officially tied to the Zionist ethos, have been politically seduced and culturally converted to a racist ideology. Today, for many Jews, Zionism and Judaism are two sides of the same coin. One way you can demonstrate this latter point is by calling the ideology of Zionism into question. In doing so you will be labelled an anti-Semite.

Why has this situation come to pass? Certainly, the history of European anti-Semitism, culminating in the holocaust, has a lot to do with it. Anti-Semitism always constituted a threat for the Jews of the West. However, traditionally, that threat was mostly local. That is, even as the Jews of a particular shtetl in, say, southern Russia were being slaughtered, those elsewhere might be prospering. So, the danger was always there but only sporadically realised. But then came the Nazis and the dimensions of the threat changed radically. As a result, there was a total breakdown of European Jewish life. And, for a significant number, the old Torah-based insights and philosophies that explained the world no longer sufficed.

So what did those Western Jews who managed to survive do in such circumstances? Their customary social order was gone. They were adrift in a world which did not make sense except in terms of its mortal danger. Under such conditions an applicable single idea that appeared to be historically logical could serve as a life preserver, and that idea was Zionism.

Zionism seemed historically logical because it melded the historical success of the nation-state, which was after all the dominant political system of the age, with a biblical myth that rationalised a “Jewish state” in the Arab land of Palestine. To both the survivors of the holocaust and to those Jews who had watched the destruction of European Jewry from afar (i.e., from such places as the US), the whole package must have had an internal logic that was irresistibly comforting – promising permanent security in a Jewish national home.

Conclusion

While one can understand the seductive power of Zionism, it, like other exclusively racial or ethnic political ideologies, only led to predictable disaster. The truth is that it is impossible to create a state exclusively for one people (call them people A) in a territory already populated by another people (call them people B) without the adoption of racist policies by A and serious resistance on the part of B. Under such circumstances, for A, there can be no real security nor can there be anything like a healthy national culture.

The whole process has proved remarkably self-corrupting for Zionist Jews. It is ironic that now most Zionists are themselves anti-Semites. In this case the Semite targets are the Palestinians and the growing number of Western Jews who have come to support their cause.

Thus, the plans to celebrate the centenary of the Balfour Declaration is based on an illusion that something awful is really something prideful. The only way you can pull this off is if you have the power to twist the entire historical episode into something it is not – and that is what Theresa May is planning to do.

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Beverly Bell on Berta Cáceres: “There Will Not Be Change as Long as the US Sends Military Aid to Honduras”

NOVANEWS

By Janine Jackson, FAIR

Image result for Honduras ARMY PHOTO

Janine Jackson:  March 2 marks a year since the killing of Honduran indigenous rights and environmental activist Berta Cáceres. The private and state actors believed responsible for her murder never made any secret of the threat they saw from Cáceres and her group COPINH, the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras — the threat to the ability of extractive industries to steal land and water out from under indigenous people with state sanction. Such predations and the accompanying violence have been exacerbated by the 2009 coup in Honduras, a coup that the US, critically, supported.

If history is guide, what coverage you may see of the anniversary of Cáceres’ death will acknowledge her as a human rights leader but won’t discuss US complicity in her fate, and that of many others killed, attacked or jailed in Honduras for standing up for themselves and their communities.

Beverly Bell is coordinator of the group Other Worlds Are Possible, and associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. She worked and traveled with Berta Cáceres and COPINH for many years. Welcome back to CounterSpin, Beverly Bell.

Beverly Bell: Thank you, Janine.

Well, in May of 2015, when we spoke to you last, corporate media in the US were largely overlooking Berta Cáceres and COPINH being awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize, a sort of “green Nobel.” And we talked about that as a missed chance to bring to light connections between US-based corporations and US aid dollars, and the violence against indigenous communities and environmental advocates, among others, in Honduras. I remember that at the time, you said that because of her work, Berta’s life “hung by a thread.”

Well, that missed opportunity to talk became an ominous silence, it seems, just as it’s been made painfully clear how important it is to make just those connections. I’d like to ask you to tell us about Honduras since the assassination, and what still stands in the way of justice for Berta Cáceres and for all of those others.

The first thing that stands in the way of justice is that the Honduran government continues to be an imposed government, and completely unaccountable. It reigns with full impunity, as have the administrations which preceded it, ever since 2009 — when, as you say, the US very strongly backed a coup d’etat against Manuel Zelaya, who was the last elected government of Honduras. Since then, there have been two other elections, and both have been total shams. They were certified by both the US and Canada, but very few other governments. And so the government pretends to be a democracy, and is certainly touted as such up here, but it is in fact a dictatorship, and acts like one.

The group Global Witness, a very well-known and well-respected international human rights group, just put out another report saying that Honduras continues to be the most dangerous country in the world to be an environmental activist, and certainly the record of the last year proves that to be true. There have been dozens and dozens of assassination attempts, and at least six high-level indigenous activists — just indigenous activists — have been killed or almost killed, just in the past year since Berta Cáceres was killed.

The most recent was on February 20, when José de los Santos Sevilla, who was a leader of the Tolupan indigenous people, who are fighting their own battles against the theft of their land and resource extraction, was killed. So he is only the last. I don’t even have all the figures; they haven’t even all been tracked.

But what we know is that until there is a change in the actions of the Honduran government, and a respect for lives, human rights and democracy, indigenous and other environmental actors will not be safe. And we know, furthermore, that there will not be this change, vis-a-vis the Honduran government, as long as the US continues to send many, many, many millions of dollars of military aid to Honduras every year.

When Berta Cáceres was killed, papers like the New York Times covered it, and they talked about how the coup, in fact, had made Honduras more dangerous for activists, but then they left out the US role in the coup. Well, since then, US media have gone, if you will, further. They’ve actually worked to sell a whole different idea to US citizens about the role that the US has played and is playing in Honduras. What can you tell us about that?

Well, you mentioned the investigation into the events of March 2 a year ago, which is when Berta Cáceres was assassinated. Also that night, also in her house, a guest from Mexico, a very powerful indigenous and environmental defender in his own right, Gustavo Castro Soto, was shot and was almost killed. One bullet just missed his skull by a millimeter, and took off part of his ear instead. He was also shot in the hand. He was then held illegally by the Honduran government and tortured for one month. And we do know, we actually have corroboration from the State Department in a written email, that they were part of that investigation. Gustavo escaped just by a hair with his life, and he and his family are now living in exile in Europe.

So both Gustavo and the family of Berta Cáceres have been trying to have a fair investigation. This investigation, much like Berta’s own killing, is really a window into the role of the United States government. And I’ll just spin that out for you a little bit, because it’s part of the story that has been kept from the US public, and certainly the Honduran public.

So these two entities, one of them a direct survivor — Gustavo Castro Soto from Mexico; he’s actually the director of Friends of the Earth Mexico in Chiapas — and then the family of Berta Cáceres, have been trying to gather evidence. The Honduran government has blocked them at all turns, and then last September actually disappeared every shred of evidence that those two parties had spent six months collecting. Every document, every photograph, every scrap of paper that had the name of a lead, all disappeared.

And, of course, the Honduran government said that it was a theft. Of course, we know that it wasn’t. Furthermore, the Honduran government has refused to share any information with these players, including with Berta’s very own daughters, and they have refused the offer of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to help out and to come in as a neutral player. That is not at all surprising.

And then what the US has done is only surprising in how far it goes. It’s so egregious; what the US did has been to arrest, through a special unit that is deployed to the Honduran government, the US has made arrests at strategic times of suspects, and then has gone to the US Congress — we know this for a fact — and said, oh, no no, you can’t cut off US military aid to Honduras, because then there will be no way to go forward with the investigation into Berta Cáceres’ killing, because the US is the only team that is doing anything serious.

The US began doing this immediately after Keith Ellison introduced into Congress last year the Berta Cáceres Human Rights Act, which called on all US military aid to be cut until there was significant improvement in human rights. And so it was immediately in response to this bill going into the US Congress that we then saw the US being so duplicitous, and convincing Congress that US aid had to continue flowing.

That would seem to dovetail nicely with the piece that some listeners may remember from August of last year in the New York Times, which was about how the US is involved in Honduras and making things safer in Honduras. I mean, “How the Most Dangerous Place on Earth Got Safer” was the headline over this Week in Review piece, and the subhead, I thought, was very interesting: “Programs Funded by the United States Are Helping Transform Honduras. Who Says American Power Is Dead?” This seems to me to fit precisely with this effort to fight back against any plans to stop aid by saying, no, no, no, the US is actually the force for justice here — including justice for Berta Cáceres.

Yes, that piece that you mentioned that came out last August is really extraordinary, and the same journalist did one the same week on National Public Radio. And both of them show one tiny little micro example of a little community where apparently — who knows if it’s true, I doubt it, but — where apparently US government funding helped one small community center. And so this journalist extrapolated, and said that all of Honduras is getting better — as you say, Janine — thanks to US funding.

What’s extra interesting about those two pieces is that they appeared just weeks after the president of Honduras, in response to the Berta Cáceres Human Rights Act moving forward in the Congress, the president had come up to Washington to do a big PR blitz to ramp up the Honduran government’s image, using the convenient tool of US media.

We’ve been speaking with Beverly Bell of the group Other Worlds. They’re online at OtherWorldsArePossible.org. Thank you so much, Beverly Bell, for joining us this week on CounterSpin.

Janine, I’m delighted to speak with you, and I hope that all US people listening will take responsibility for our government, such as it is, and get in touch with their congresspeople to push for this act that can truly make a difference for all Hondurans.

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Tortured and Wrongly Held at Guantánamo for 14 Years, Abdul Zahir Now Has Freedom, but No Justice

NOVANEWS

By Adam Hudson

Two protesters of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay look solemnly toward the White House.

Two protesters of the detention center at Guantánamo Bay look solemnly toward the White House. (Photo: Rebecca Nelson / Medill News Service)

Before Barack Obama left office, he released 10 detainees from Guantánamo to Oman. Among them was Abdul Zahir, a 45-year-old man from Afghanistan. Zahir was detained at Guantánamo for 14 years, even though the US government later admitted that he was wrongfully held. He was mistaken for another man who shared his nickname, Abdul Bari. Zahir’s story exemplifies the cruelty of Guantánamo and the policies of indefinite detention and torture, which will, in all likelihood, continue with Trump as president.

“I want to leave behind the bad things that happened to me while I have been imprisoned. I want to focus on the positive things ahead of me, seeing my family again, studying at university and perhaps being able to help others,” Zahir said, according a press release provided by his lawyers before he left Guantánamo. Zahir has three sons and speaks Arabic, Pashto and some Urdu, Farsi and English. Before his capture, he worked as a translator, shuttle driver and Arabic teacher.

US troops captured Zahir on July 11, 2002, during a raid in Afghanistan targeting another man named Abdul Bari — an alias also used by Zahir. The raid occurred at a compound in Hesarak village, which is a few miles east of Kabul and northeast of Gardez. Abdul Bari (not Zahir) allegedly helped produce and distribute chemical or biological weapons for al-Qaeda.

A day or two after the raid, US forces recovered “suspicious items,” according to a military intelligence assessment, including a white powder that they initially believed was a chemical or biological agent. However, on later examination, the substances turned out to be salt, sugar and petroleum jelly. When the Periodic Review Board determined, on July 11, 2016, that Abdul Zahir should be released, it also concluded that Zahir “was probably misidentified as the individual who had ties to al-Qaeda weapons facilitation.”

Zahir was not the only Guantánamo detainee detained because of a mistaken identity. In fact, another Guantánamo detainee among those released to Oman — Yemeni Mustafa al Shamiri — was also mistaken for another man with a similar name.

Torture and Assault in Guantánamo

Like every Guantánamo detainee, Zahir was tortured. His military defense lawyer, US Air Force Lt. Col. Sterling Thomas told Truthout that after Zahir’s capture, US forces “gave him the treatment that they thought every Brown person, every Muslim person they captured deserved — they tortured him.”

Zahir was tortured by US forces at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and at Guantánamo, where he was transferred on October 27, 2002.

Thomas explained that Zahir suffered beatings, exposure to cold temperatures, cramped confinement, stress positions, hog-tying and sexual assault. “He would be kept in very small rooms with the air conditioning unit running full blast without proper clothing — so, a pair of shorts — and an iron bed,” Thomas said. Zahir “would be placed in interrogation rooms right under the air conditioner and they would make the room as cold as possible, with his hands tied to his waist, and then he would be tied into a fetal position on the floor in that very cold room.” In addition, Zahir “spent a year in a room that he called ‘a cage for animals.’ And in that room, he had to eat, sleep, exercise and shower all in the same place. Including elimination of waste.”

During the time he spent in that small room, a group of US troops would come into the room “wearing outfits meant to make him frightened” and “would spray a burning gas above his head,” while he was shirtless. Those troops would “drop him to the floor and two people would sit on his lower back and tie his hands and feet behind him,” a practice known as “hog-tying.” They would “then pick him up like a sheep and take him elsewhere where they would quickly immerse him in water that was flowing fast from a very big pipe.” After that, they would “take him back to where he was and drop him from about one meter onto the ground still tied.” Guards also grabbed and pulled his testicles “violently, until he fell unconscious.”

As a result of his torture, Zahir “suffered physically and emotionally.” He experienced major depressive episodes that led him to attempt suicide. Zahir protested his treatment on numerous occasions. In one instance, after he protested, a group of guards in riot gear (Forced Cell Extraction team) tackled Zahir and “damaged his spine so badly that they had to conduct surgery,” said Thomas. Since then, Zahir has had to walk with a walker and experiences internal organ issues.

Zahir’s torture was par for the course at Guantánamo. As documented by human rights groups like the Center for Constitutional Rights, beatings, shackling, sexual assault and other forms of abuse have been standard practice at Guantánamo, particularly in its early years. During the 2013 hunger strike, striking prisoners were force-fed, which is also a form of torture. Torture violates international law, particularly the UN Convention Against Torture.

For years, defense lawyers tried to get Zahir released, or at least secure a fair trial. Vermont lawyer Robert Gensburg challenged Zahir’s confinement with a habeas corpus action but was unsuccessful. Zahir was then brought up for trial before a military commission, which is when fellow Vermont lawyer David Sleigh and military co-counsel Lt. Col. Sterling Thomas joined Zahir’s defense team.

In 2006, Zahir was charged with conspiracy, materially supporting terrorism and killing civilians in connection with a grenade attack that wounded Canadian journalist Kathleen Kenna. However, the military commission temporarily shut down, his case never went to trial, and charges were dismissed. According to Thomas, Zahir made numerous, contradictory statements under torture — statements that the US government tried to use against him — but there was no physical evidence tying him to the attack. Thomas also mentioned that part of the reason Zahir was held for so long is because the US government tortured him and did not want those details made public in a civilian court.

How Do Mistaken Identity Cases Occur?

New Guantánamo intelligence reveals that the vast majority of detainees are not the “worst of the worst” as the US government claimed, according to the Miami Herald. In fact, some of those who were captured and incarcerated at Guantánamo had nothing to do with al-Qaeda.

This reality has always been clear to some people within the US government. One of them is Mark Fallon, a retired 30-year federal investigator who, from 2002 to 2004, headed the Pentagon’s Criminal Investigation Task Force (CITF), established to investigate cases that would be brought before a military commission. In the early days, Fallon said it was clear to him and CITF that most of the people arriving at Guantánamo were not the super-villain terrorists portrayed by the US government. “We were frankly shocked at who wound up there going on the first plane loads. It was clear it wasn’t senior al-Qaeda leadership or main al-Qaeda men. It was just people who were kind of scooped up and a lot of them were paid bounties for. They were not very effectively, for the most part, screened very well in Afghanistan,” Fallon explained to Truthout.

Only 5 percent of Guantánamo detainees were captured by US forces. Meanwhile, 86 percent were captured by Afghan tribal allies or Pakistani security forces and handed over to US custody, according to a Seton Hall study. The detainees captured by Pakistan or Afghan tribal allies “were handed over to the United States at a time in which the United States offered large bounties for capture of suspected enemies.” Very few were actually al-Qaeda fighters. “Only 8% of the detainees were characterized as al Qaeda fighters,” according to the study, while 40 percent had “no definitive connection with al Qaeda” and 18 percent had “no definitive affiliation with either al Qaeda or the Taliban.”

It’s not a huge surprise that false charges and cases of mistaken identity occurred amid this race to incarcerate. Fallon said that JTF-GTMO (Joint Task Force Guantánamo), which runs the Guantánamo prison, was looking for anything to pin on detainees. For example, part of JTF-GTMO’s threat indication criteria was whether a detainee possessed a common item like a Casio F-91W or A159W wristwatch because it was “the sign of al-Qaida, [which] uses the watch to make bombs,” which Fallon called “sad” and “comical.” Fallon said CITF concluded “an overwhelming majority” of detainees had no intelligence or investigative value and should be released, while JTF-GTMO argued for further detention. However, it was JTF-GTMO’s assessments that caught the White House’s ear, while voices like Fallon’s were marginalized. Fallon shares his insider perspective on how the US government implemented torture in a book called Unjustifiable Means: The Inside Story of How the CIA, Pentagon, and US Government Conspired to Torture.

Meanwhile, Abdul Zahir will be attempting to get back on his feet, reunite with his family and begin rebuilding a life that was all but shattered. Despite his torture and horrific treatment at the hands of the US government, Zahir says he does not hate the United States or harbor any bitter feelings. Rather, he is focused on moving his life forward. Sterling called Zahir’s resolve “remarkable” and said, “He’s been through things that no human being should have to suffer through. Regardless of what they did. And he had done nothing that was a crime.”

Moving on could be difficult for Zahir. Many former Guantánamo and CIA black sitedetainees continue to face mental health problems even after being released, such as depression and post-traumatic stress. That makes it difficult for them to readjust into normal society. This means true justice for Guantánamo detainees entails more than just releasing them to another country. It also must include redress for the torture inflicted upon them and the physical, mental and emotional problems resulting from that abuse.

However, true justice does not currently seem within reach for current and former Guantánamo detainees. There arecurrently 41 detainees in Guantánamo, including 26 held in indefinite detention — people whom the government does not have enough untainted evidence to prosecute but claims are too dangerous to release. Like torture, indefinite detention also violates international human rights law. While theTrump administration has dropped the idea of reopening secret prisons, it does want to keep the Guantánamo prison open and put new detainees there. According to the Miami Herald, the Guantánamo military prison could hold another 200 or so prisoners.

Posted in USA, Human RightsComments Off on Tortured and Wrongly Held at Guantánamo for 14 Years, Abdul Zahir Now Has Freedom, but No Justice

Should the Palestinians Seek Justice NOW at the International Criminal Court?

NOVANEWS

Image result for International Criminal Court LOGO

by Dr: Richard Falk

Should the Palestinians Seek Justice NOW at the International Criminal Court?

 

[Prefatory Note: This post is a modified version of an opinion piece published by Middle East Eye on February 20, 2017. It calls particular attention to the punitive treatment of recourse to international law tribunals to address perceived grievances that is meant to discourage Palestinians from seeking relief at the International Criminal Court. On one level this form of lawfare underscores the weakness and vulnerability of Israel when the conflict is shifted from the battlefield to the courtroom. On another level it is meant to deny the Palestinian people, and their representatives, all legitimate amd moderate options by which to pursue their claims and address their grievances. It signals that the ‘enforcers’ of world order repudiate their own accountability with regard to the rule of law, while purporting to hold others to account, for instance, by criminalizing all forms of violent resistance to prolonged and abusive occupation as ‘terrorism.’]

 

Weakening the Two-State Consensus

 There is little doubt that the mid-February Netanyahu/Trump love fest at the White House further dampened already dim Palestinian hopes for a sustainable peace based on a political compromise. The biggest blow was Trump’s casual abandonment of the two-state solution coupled with an endorsement of a one-state outcome provided the parties agree to such an outcome, which as so expressed is a result almost impossible to suppose ever happening in the real world. Israel would never agree to a secular one-state that effectively abandons the Zionist insistence on a Jewish state with deep historical roots and biblical validation. The Palestinians would never agree to live in such a Jewish one-state that essentially abandoned their long struggle to achieve national self-determination, thereby gaining liberation from the last major remnant of the colonial era.

 

With geopolitical bravado suitable for the real estate magnate that he remains, despite the presidential trappings of his formal role, Trump also vaguely promised to negotiate a grand deal for the region that evidently reached beyond the contested territory of Palestine so long locked in conflict, and thus encompassed neighboring countries or possibly the whole region. It is easy to speculate that such murmurings by Trump were not welcomed in either Jordan or Egypt, long favored by rightest Israelis as dumping grounds for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Such added ‘political space’ is attractive from an Israeli perspective, both to ensure that Israel maintains a comfortable Jewish majority if the one-state solution were ever forcibly implemented by Israel. At the same time the prospect of population transfer would allow Israel to achieve a higher degree of racial purity, a feature of the dominant Zionist imaginary long before Israel became internationally recognized as a state.

 

An inflammatory part of this new political environment is the accelerated expansion of the existing network of unlawful Israeli settlements located in occupied Palestine. Although near unanimously condemned in Security Council Resolution 2334 last December, Israel responded by defiantly announcing approval of thousands more settlement units, endorsing plans for an entirely new settlement, and by way of a Knesset initiative provocatively legalized settlement ‘outposts,’ 50 of which are distributed throughout the West Bank in direct violation of even Israeli law. It is possible that the Israeli Supreme Court will heed anticipated judicial challenges to this latest move, and eventually void this Knesset law, but even if this happens, the passage of such a law sends a clear message of iron resolve by the political forces currently steering Israeli policy never to permit the establishment of a viable Palestinian state.

 

In these circumstances, it becomes incumbent upon the Palestinian Authority to show the world that it is still alive, and it currently has few ways of doing this. Given these realities it would seem a no brainer for the PA to light up the skies of public awareness of the Palestinian plight by vigorously demanding justice at the International Criminal Court (ICC). After all there is a wide consensus on the global stage that all the settlements, and not just the outposts, are in violation of Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention. These settlements have for decades served as a major obstacle in the search for a satisfactory diplomatic solution of the conflict. Of course, it would be naïve to expect Israel to comply with an adverse judgment of the ICC, or to participate in such a proceeding in ways other than by challenging the competence of the tribunal, but a favorable outcome would still be of great value for the Palestinians. It would cast Israel in an unfavorable light in relation to the UN, international law, and world public opinion, and undoubtedly encourage the further development of the already robust global solidarity movement.

 

Yet, despite these circumstances that makes the ICC seem such an attractive option, a PA decision to take this path is far from obvious. The former Foreign Minister of the PA and member of Fatah’s Central Committee, Nasser al-Kidwa, effectively dismissed the ICC option by calling it ‘complicated’ without any further explanation, leaving the impression that the costs of taking such a step were too high. However, the issue is not yet settled as mixed signals are emanating from Palestinian leadership circles. For instance, the PLO Secretary General, Saeb Erekat, in contrast to Kidwa, minced no words in his insistence that the ICC investigate “the colonial settlement regime.”

 

It seems useful to speculate on why there should be this ambivalence among Palestinian leaders. After all, international law, international public opinion, and even most European governments are all supportive of Palestinian claims with regard to the settlements. Israel remains more defiant than ever, and shows every sign of further expansion, possibly with an eye toward soon unilaterally declaring an end to the conflict, a move that Washington might find temporarily awkward, but in the end, acceptable. At the core of this debate about recourse to the ICC is the tricky question as to whether deference to the muscular vagaries of geopolitics serves Palestinian interests at this time.

 

Recourse to the ICC: Pros and Cons

The argument favoring recourse to the ICC is almost too obvious to put forward. It would back Israel into a corner. The Netanyahu government is certain to react with anger and concrete expressions of hostility to any such move by the PA. Such a reaction would be widely seen as a convincing confirmation of Israel’s vulnerability to any impartial test as to whether its settlement policies meet the minimum requirements of international law. And most importantly for the PA it would demonstrate that despite recent political disappointments the Ramallah leadership was prepared to embark upon a controversial course of action that displayed political courage, including a willingness to endure expected vindictive acts of retaliation. Recourse to the ICC would play well with the Palestinian people, especially those living under occupation. They experience daily tensions with violent settler groups and see no future for themselves absent confrontation with Israel. If the PA chooses such a course, it would help restore support for the flagging claims of the PA to serve as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people at the global level. This is turn could lead finally to durable arrangements of unity as between Hamas and Fatah, which would raise confidence levels that the Palestinians were prepared for this latest, difficult stage of their national movement.

 

The arguments against going to the ICC are somewhat more elusive. There is no doubt that Palestine, recognized by the UN as a state now enjoys the jurisdictional qualifications to participate in ICC proceedings. What is less clear is whether the ICC would be responsive, and able to circumvent technical obstacles, such as finding suitable Israeli defendants. During its 15 years of operation the ICC has been very reluctant to be pro-active except in Africa, and even there it has been recently stung by an intense pushback by African governments and the African Union. The ICC has been reluctant to stir up political opposition in the West, which would certainly occur as soon as the ICC launched a full investigation of Palestinian criminal grievances against Israel.

 

There is also the reverse problem of ICC action that might disappoint the PA. To appear balanced, the ICC would probably extend its investigation to include allegations relating to indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza. It could then decide that a strong case of probable criminal responsibility attributable to Hamas existed, while allegations against Israel failed because of the inability to establish criminal intent. Although a setback for the PA, such an outcome at the ICC would be internationally criticized as contrary to reasonable interpretations of international law, and be widely regarded as a reflection of political pressures exerted by Washington.

 

Likely, the PA is most inhibited by the ‘lawfare’ campaign being waged by Israel and the United States. Already during the Obama presidency there was Congressional legislation terminating financial assistance to the PA in the event of any recourse to the ICC. Since Trump these warnings have escalated, including the total suspension of financial aid, the closing of the PLO offices in Washington, and threats to put the PLO and Fatah back on the US list of terrorist organizations. It is evident that the PA is taking these unseemly threats seriously.

 

There are also PA fears that any ICC initiative would induce Israel to move more quickly toward closure with respect to the underlying conflict, annexing most or all of the West Bank. Such a reaction would both be in keeping with Israel’s tendency to respond disproportionately to any formal action directed at the legality of its policies and practices. Israel is particularly sensitive about war crimes charges, and vows extraordinary measures should any of its citizens be so charged. Now that Netanyahu can count on unconditional support in the White House and the US Congress it would not be surprising to see him use the occasion of an ICC initiative to proclaim Israeli sovereignty over the whole of historic Palestine.

 

Conclusion

In light of the above, it seems almost certain that the PA will not act take advantage of the ICC option any time soon. The PA is likely to adopt a posture of neither/nor, that is, neither explicitly ruling out recourse to the ICC, nor activating the option. This reflects the reality that the PA is caught between the rock of US/Israel bullying tactics and the hard place of an increasingly restive Palestinian population, being acutely reminded of its ordeal by the grim realization that 2017 is the 50th anniversary of the Israeli occupation.

 

The United States posture, although somewhat more belligerently pro-Israel as a result of the Trump presidency, is really nothing new except in style. Even during the Obama presidency the US opposed every attempt by the PA to rely on international law or the UN to advance its national struggle. Instead of welcoming the use of law rather than weapons, the US Government castigated efforts of Palestine to gain membership in the UN System or to seek even symbolic relief for its grievances in international venues. This turn against international law, as well as against the UN, is clearly a signature issue for the Trump presidency, and not just in relation to Palestine, and this is not good news for the world.

Posted in Palestine AffairsComments Off on Should the Palestinians Seek Justice NOW at the International Criminal Court?

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