Archive | September 14th, 2019

The Catastrophic Tenure of John Bolton

Trump created the storm, but Bolton aimed it expertly. An aerial view of the White House post-Bolton would reveal a devastated landscape.

by: Joseph Cirincione

The National Security Council had been the principal forum for consideration of key policies for 72 years. Bolton destroyed it in 17 months. (Christopher Halloran via Shutterstock)

The National Security Council had been the principal forum for consideration of key policies for 72 years. Bolton destroyed it in 17 months. (Christopher Halloran via Shutterstock)

John Bolton’s tenure was a complete disaster. The national security architecture after Bolton looks like the Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian.

Seventeen months ago, before Bolton became Donald Trump’s third national security advisor, the United States still had a deal that had stopped Iran’s nuclear program in its tracks. More, it had rolled it back to a fraction of its original size and boxed it into the most intrusive inspection regime ever negotiated. It was a deal for the ages. All of Trump’s military, intelligence and security advisors and our closest allies urged Trump to stay in the accord. Bolton destroyed it in two months, pushing Trump to violate it and impose draconian sanctions on Iran

“Withdrawing from the Iran Nuclear Deal should be a top Donald Trump administration priority,” Bolton tweeted in July 2017, months before his appointment. “The declared policy of the United States should be the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime in Tehran,” he shouted at an MEK rally in July 2017, promising them that they would all celebrate in Tehran “before 2019.”

Today, Iran is slowly pealing away from the deal, too, taking baby steps towards restarting capabilities that someday could allow it to make the material for a bomb, should it decide to do so. No new deal. No better deal. No regime change. No celebration in Tehran. “Trump has spent years making a mess of Iran policy for no reason other than right wing politics and incompetence,” tweeted former Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes as news of Bolton’s sacking spread.

Before Bolton, the United States had kept Russia from building a particularly dangerous class of missiles for over 30 years. Bolton blew apart the landmark Intermediate Nuclear Forces Agreement that President Ronald Reagan had painstakingly negotiated with then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The treaty had broken the back of the nuclear arms race. For the first time, the two nuclear superpowers agreed to destroy, not just limit, nuclear weapons. It paved the way for other sweeping nuclear reductions treaties and big unilateral cuts—most done under Republican presidents.

Bolton could not have wreaked this destruction if he had not been chosen, empowered and tolerated by Donald Trump, who must bear ultimate responsibility for Bolton’s legacy.

Bolton hated these agreements. In 1999, he ridiculed the liberal “fascination with arms-control agreements” and blustered about “the Church of Arms Control,” insisting that America could rule the world through force of arms, not pieces of paper. In a classic Bolton move, he used the real fact of Russian violations of the INF treaty, not to insist on their compliance with the pact, but to destroy it entirely. “Violations give America the opportunity to discard obsolete, Cold War-era limits on its own arsenal and to upgrade its military capabilities to match its global responsibilities,” Bolton wrote in 2014.

The U.S. abrogation of the treaty was a gift to Vladimir Putin. It did not reverse the Russian violations; it permitted them. Today, there are no limits whatsoever on what missiles of this range Putin can deploy.

Bolton was also on course to destroy the last remaining nuclear reduction treaty, the New START agreement that limits US and Russian long-range nuclear weapons. Again using the phony right-wing tactic of blasting agreement because they do not cover all possible threats, Bolton trashed the accord as “flawed from the beginning” because it only limited long-range weapons (hence the name, “strategic arms reduction treaty”) and not short-range weapons as well.

Before Bolton, there were also fragile negotiations with the Afghanistan Taliban. Bolton “waged a last-minute campaign to stop the president from signing a peace agreement at Camp David,” reports The New York Times.

Before Bolton, there was the real possibility of a deal with North Korea that would have traded sanctions relief for serious nuclear dismantlement. Bolton killed it at the Hanoi summit by convincing Trump that Democrats would criticize him if he did not bring home Kim Jung-un’s complete surrender of all his nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. “John Bolton appears to have locked the U.S. administration into a policy death spiral,” I wrote at the time. The spiral has now dragged Bolton to his political death.

Finally, and very seriously, before Bolton there was a functioning national security interagency process where leaders and experts from all agencies and departments could vet policies and build consensus. The National Security Council had been the principal forum for consideration of key policies for 72 years. Bolton destroyed it in 17 months.

“There was no process under John Bolton,” Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power told Rachel Maddow the night of Bolton’s firing. Bolton halted meetings, restricted access to Trump and packed the staff with loyal Boltonites. “The national security adviser’s principal responsibility has traditionally been to oversee a disciplined policymaking process that includes the State Department, the Pentagon and intelligence agencies, and to tee up big decisions for the president,” editorialized The Washington Post the same night, “Mr. Bolton didn’t do that.”

Bolton could not have wreaked this destruction if he had not been chosen, empowered and tolerated by Donald Trump, who must bear ultimate responsibility for Bolton’s legacy — what the Post summarized as “chaos, dysfunction and no meaningful accomplishments.” It was Trump who allowed Bolton to come within ten minutes of getting the war with Iran Bolton had sought for two decades, before halting the strikes. Trump created the storm, but Bolton aimed it expertly. An aerial view of the White House post-Bolton would reveal a devastated landscape.

“Any jackass can knock down a barn,” former House Speaker Sam Rayburn said, “It takes a carpenter to build one.” Bolton was the biggest jackass in the administration. There are no carpenters in sight.

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A Morning in Afghanistan

Amidst political posturing, aerial terrorism, and street bombings, Afghan citizens pursue their daily work toward peace.

by: Kathy Kelly

Habib (standing, left) serves fruit at a meeting for parents at a “Street Kids School” meeting. Six years ago, Afghan Peace Volunteers members befriended Habib after his father had been killed when a bomb exploded in Kabul. His colleague Masoma is in the background. (Photo: Kathy Kelly)

Habib (standing, left) serves fruit at a meeting for parents at a “Street Kids School” meeting. Six years ago, Afghan Peace Volunteers members befriended Habib after his father had been killed when a bomb exploded in Kabul. His colleague Masoma is in the background. (Photo: Kathy Kelly)

n a very warm September morning in Kabul, several dozen men, women, and children sit on the carpeted floor of a room at the Afghan Peace Volunteers’ Borderfree Center. The women cluster together. All wear burqas, but because of the heat they push the steel blue veils back, revealing their faces. Most of the men wear traditional tunics and pakol hats.

Parents and children alike listen intently to Masoma, a young Afghan woman who coordinates the Center’s “Street Kids School.” She explains the importance of steady attendance, and parents nod in agreement. Most of the 100 students come on time for their Friday classes, but a handful had recently skipped, showing up only on the day when the center distributes monthly food rations for the Street Kids families.

The previous Friday, those who had missed more than two classes prior to the food distribution day walked away empty-handed—a hard lesson, but the volunteer teachers felt they must abide by the short list of rules governing the center. Anyone who misses classes two or more times in a month won’t receive the ration.

Then Masoma’s colleague, Dr. Hakim, stands and poses two blunt requests. “Please raise your hand,” he says, “if you and your family have at least enough resources to meet your basic needs.”

About six hands are raised. Next he asks people to raise a hand if they couldn’t make ends meet. Seven hands go up. Hakim says his organization wants to help families become self-reliant so that after their children leave the Street Kids School they will have another way to acquire essentials like beans, rice, and cooking oil.

Hakim now asks people to raise their hands if they could send one family member, like an older brother, to a three-month course on how to repair mobile phones. The idea is well-received. Notebook papers are circulated to gather parents’ names, and, if possible, mobile phone numbers. Several women seek Masoma’s help to write their names. She assures them she will stay in touch.

A tall young man, Habib, carrying a large tray of bananas and apples, politely offers fruit to each guest. Six years ago, Afghan Peace Volunteers members had befriended Habib when they met him in a busy market-place. His father had been killed when a bomb exploded in Kabul. I remember watching him work on a dusty, crowded street during a chilly afternoon shortly after he and his family had taken up residence in a miserable shack in Kabul. His little brother walked alongside him, holding his hand, while Habib carried a scale and asked people to weigh themselves on it. Habib looked forlorn and worried. The shy, anxious youngster had been regularly beaten by an uncle who tried to force him to join a militia; he now recognizes that Habib was wise to run away from the militia. 

Today, Habib towers over me. Yesterday, he spoke eagerly at a small group meeting he had helped plan about ways to build caring relationships. Over the past three years, he has learned to read and write and has been at the top of his classes at a government school. He has also developed some construction skills. When I remark that several walls at the center were repaired and newly painted, Masoma smiled happily. “Habib!” she says. “He was a big help.”

Over the past three years, Habib has learned to read and write and has been at the top of his classes. He has also developed some construction skills

A few adults linger alongside the center’s shady garden, filled with fruit trees, grapevines, herbs, and flowers. Some of the Afghan Peace Volunteers used permaculture methods to design and cultivate the space. Others recently dedicated themselves to a “renewable energy team.” Last year, the team helped forty-four families acquire solar energy. This year they hope to expand the effort.

Over the past week, young volunteers have gathered to plan for an upcoming “On the Road to Peace” conference. This will be the Afghan Peace Volunteers’ third annual gathering of participants from each of Afghanistan’s thirty-four provinces. The conference offers four days of intensive learning and discovery about cross-cultural understanding, nonviolence, and ways to abolish war.

Yesterday, Dr. Hakim and I asked for complete quiet inside the center’s “office”—a large room lined with bookcases, file cabinets, mats, and sturdy pillows. In the center of the room, a jumble of cords and power strips are connected to a solar power battery, a fan, a router, and a collection of  cell phones and laptops.

Earlier, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! had invited Dr. Hakim and me to participate in interviews regarding President Trump’s sudden decision to call off a secret meeting he claimed to have arranged between himself, Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani, and representatives of the Taliban who have been meeting with United States envoy Zalmay Khalilzad. Sitting on the floor, we huddled over Dr. Hakim’s well-worn laptop waiting for Democracy Now! engineers to contact us by Skype.

Hakim and I suggested that neither Trump nor any of the negotiators in Doha were participating in a genuine peace process. Rather, it was a cruel charade, with each side seeking greater leverage by demonstrating their willingness to kill innocent people.

Many people living in Afghanistan greatly fear increased Taliban power over their cities, villages, roadways, and crumbling infrastructure. Taliban war crimes are frequently covered in global media. Less obvious to people in the U.S., but horribly real for people in Afghanistan, are acts of aerial terrorism regularly waged by the United States military.

Writing for The Daily Beast earlier this year, Andrew Quilty described how one Afghan family in the Helmand province suffered a vicious attack on their home last November. Two Taliban fighters had come to their home, insisting that Obaidullah, the householder, let them in. He pleaded with them to leave, but instead the Taliban fighters fired on a joint United States and Afghan military convoy. Shortly thereafter, a United States A-10 Warthog plane strafed Obaidullah’s home.

“Hundreds of rounds of ammunition—bullets the size of large carrots—fired by a weapon designed to disable armoured tanks, poured out of the plane’s Gatling gun,” Quilty wrote. “The two Taliban fighters had fled. Instead, Obaidullah and his fifteen-year-old son Esmatullah were killed; thirteen others suffered broken bones and shrapnel injuries from head to toe. One boy, fourteen-year-old Ehsanullah, lost both his eyes.”

Less obvious to people in the U.S., but horribly real for people in Afghanistan, are acts of aerial terrorism regularly waged by the United States military.

In a report on civilian casualties, the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan attributed a rise in civilian deaths in 2019 to an escalation of the U.S. air war in the country. In addition, countless night raids carried out by joint U.S./Afghan forces have struck terror in families whose loved ones were killed in front of them. Ordinary Afghans whom I have met with in the past week are acutely aware of the night raids and link the gruesome pattern of killing civilians to United States trainers and the CIA.

Before Donald Trump pulled back U.S. participation, there had been nine rounds of talks, and the United States special envoy Zalmay Khalilzad was supposedly edging closer to a “peace” deal with the Taliban.

A genuine peace process would hold all warring parties accountable for crimes against humanity and would call for an immediate end to U.S. and NATO militarism in Afghanistan. It would urge the United States to humbly acknowledge the recklessness of its invasion and occupation. 

Reliable non-governmental parties would be asked to develop ways for Afghans to receive reparations from all countries who’ve participated in the past eighteen years of war. Those responsible for pursuing a genuine peace process would need mentors and advisors. I recommend the Afghan Peace Volunteers.

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US Forces May Have Committed War Crimes in Syria: UN Report

The conflict, now in its ninth year, “continues to torment civilians who bear the brunt of hostilities”

by: Andrea Germanos

A picture taken on July 4, 2019 shows a blood-stained stretcher following a reported airstrike on a hospital in the village of Kafr Nabl, in the southern Idlib province.

A picture taken on July 4, 2019 shows a blood-stained stretcher following a reported airstrike on a hospital in the village of Kafr Nabl, in the southern Idlib province. (Photo: Omar Haj Kadour/AFP/Getty Images)

A new report out Wednesday from United Nations investigators says that U.S. forces may have committed war crimes in Syria.

Released by the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic, the report catalogs how the eight-year conflict “continues to torment civilians who bear the brunt of hostilities,” as operations carried out by the U.S.-led international coalition, militants, and Russia-backed pro-government forces have left essential infrastructure obliterated, civilians killed, maimed, and uprooted, and communities in “near complete destruction.”

HRC SECRETARIAT@UN_HRC

#HRC42 COI on Syria in their latest report: Having entered its ninth year, the conflict in #Syria, characterized by intensifying levels of #violence, continues to torment #civilians who bear the brunt of hostilities. Full report & press release: https://bit.ly/2PtaqXH  @UNGeneva

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The powers providing support for the warring parties, the report says, “bear a shared responsibility for the crimes committed against millions of Syrian women, men, and children.”

The commission’s findings are based on investigations conducted from January to July this year, including satellite imagery, interviews, and medical records.

Among the specific actions scrutinized in the report was the Al-Jazeera Storm operation in Hajin carried out by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and international coalition. One strike in the operation targeted a residential building and killed 16 civilians, the majority of whom were less than 5 years old. The commission said its investigation turned up no evidence of an ISIL presence or military target in the area.

From the report:

The evidence obtained regarding this incident indicated that international coalition forces failed to employ the necessary precautions to discriminate adequately between military objectives and civilians. The commission finds that there are reasonable grounds to believe that international coalition forces may not have directed their attacks at a specific military objective, or failed to do so with the necessary precaution. Launching indiscriminate attacks that result in death or injury to civilians amounts to a war crime in cases in which such attacks are conducted recklessly.

Actions by terrorist groups and pro-government forces were also identified as possible war crimes.

“The commission finds that there are reasonable grounds to believe that members of the armed groups in Afrin continued to commit the war crimes of hostage-taking, cruel treatment, torture, and pillage,” the report states.

The document cites evidence of pro-government forces having used cluster bombs on a residential area in southern Idlib.

It also say pro-government forces launched air strikes on at least three hospitals in Idlib. The “pattern of attack strongly suggests that pro-government forces systematically targeted medical facilities,” says the report. “Such attacks may amount to the war crime of deliberately attacking protected objects and intentionally attacking medical personnel.”

The report also laid out a number of recommendations, including for the Syrian government to ensure unconditional access to medical and humanitarian aid and to ensure protection of health workers.

The U.N. body also urged the U.S.-led coalition to strengthen protections to avoid civilian casualties and to carry out transparent post-operation investigations “following allegations of civilian casualties from aerial and night search operations, with a view to identifying broader patterns of harm, improving operational practice and promoting accountability, and ensuring adequate and prompt reparations.”

Advocacy groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have previously pointed to the ongoing tally of Syrian civilian deaths at the hand of the U.S.-led coalition, and said the true death toll is likely far higher that what the coalition acknowledges.

In their detailed exposé on the 2017 U.S.-led bombing campaign of Raqqa, Amnesty and transparency group Airwars captured the voices of some of the Syrians living through the deadly attacks.

“The shells struck one after the other,” said Ahmad, a resident of Raqqa’s Darai’ya neighborhood. “It was indescribable, it was like the end of the world—the noise, people screaming. If I live 100 years I won’t forget this carnage.”

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Reject Modinomics and Lift India out of the Morass of Economic Recession

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THE first 100 days of Modi 2.0 are over. Propagandists of the regime are busy enumerating the amazing ‘achievements’ of the Modi-Shah order – triple talaq, Kashmir, moon mission. They are talking about everything except the one thing the whole country is discussing – the economic slowdown. They thought they would be able to brush it off as a temporary, cyclical affair, but now comparative figures for every quarter and for every parameter indicate a clear and alarming decline. The GDP growth rate has officially come down to 5% and if we adjust it for inflation, it would virtually come down to zero. Production is declining, domestic sales and exports are dropping; our currency is weakening in international market; only the prices of essential goods and services are going upward along with figures of unemployment and retrenchment.

The slump in automobile sales has become the biggest talking point for the business press. With sales dropping, major auto manufacturers have all begun to cut down production. It is not difficult to imagine the impact of this slowdown on the huge chain of ancillary industries. In fact, every economic activity around the Maruti plant in Manesar – from vegetable vendors and roadside hotels to clothes and groceries shops – is reporting a major drop in business. Encouraged by the BJP IT cell propaganda which seeks to explain away recession as changing patterns of business models, the Finance Minister has attributed the decline in automobile sales to the changing ‘millennial mindset’. According to the minister, the preference of young professionals to use public transport like metro rail or hired cabs like Ola and Uber is adversely affecting automobile sales. She is conveniently forgetting that trucks and tractors are also selling less and there are no Ola and Uber services for trucks and tractors!

It is not just big ticket items like automobiles and expensive consumer goods like air-conditioners and refrigerators or televisions and washing machines which are reporting a major drop in sales, even five rupee biscuit packets are selling less, and biscuit companies like Parle and Britannia are also retrenching workers. The slowdown is truly comprehensive. We should also note that this slowdown is mostly ‘made in India’; it is not an extension of the global financial or economic crisis to India. In fact, India managed to stay reasonably insulated during the Asian meltdown of 1990s or the global financial crisis a decade ago, emanating from the US. The recession that we are facing today in India is a cumulative impact of the agrarian crisis which has eroded the income and purchasing power of the vast majority of India’s rural population and economic policies and disastrous measures like demonetisation and the hasty imposition of an arbitrary GST regime.

The rise of information technology and the resultant rise of an upwardly mobile middle class had served to veil the underlying economic crisis for some time, but that superficial consumer boom cannot pull the economy of a vast country like India for long. The lack of purchasing power of the vast majority of Indians limits the growth of our domestic market and we now have a recession that cuts across all sectors of the economy and all segments of the market. For long the Modi government lived in a state of total denial about the recession. Today the government is forced to partially acknowledge the problem, but the response of the government is highly inadequate and misplaced. Basically the government is only trying to revive bank lending to big companies which are already sitting atop a mountain of unpaid loans. Banks which had been debarred from further lending as a precautionary measure have been merged with relatively stronger banks to circumvent the lending ban. The government has also tapped into the RBI surplus to pump money back into the banks. The GST council is also contemplating cuts in GST rates for automobiles and expensive consumer goods ostensibly to boost demand.

The entire approach revolves around promoting luxury consumption and extending more loans to corporate defaulters. Nearer home we have the example of China which managed to withstand the global financial crisis and a slump in exports by raising wages to increase the purchasing power of the working people and thus boosting domestic demand and mass consumption. The Modi government is treading just the opposite path landing the country deeper into a protracted and comprehensive recession. The only way out of the crisis is to force the government to reverse the strategy, raise wages and increase public expenditure for social welfare and labour intensive sectors and activities. A renewed focus on the economy of the common people however demands a paradigm shift in our current political environment, away from the disastrous politics of hate and destruction to the basic needs and interests of the people. In other words, India needs an urgent course correction, in the realms of both economics and politics.

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AIPF Press Meet on Kashmir Lockdown

KAVITA Krishnan, Campaign Committee Member of the All India People’s Forum (AIPF) and Politburo member of CPIML addressed a Press Meet on 6 September at the Kolkata Press Club on the continuing Kashmir lockdown. Between 9-13 August, she had visited the Kashmir Valley along with economist Jean Dreze, Maimoona Mollah of CPIM, and Vimal Bhai of NAPM. A booklet including this team’s report was released at the Press Meet, and a video-report prepared by the team, titled ‘Kashmir Caged’ was screened.

Kavita Krishnan said that the Modi Government must be held accountable for military dictatorship in Kashmir. In Kashmir now, there is no elected representation, no free press, no free speech; there is indefinite illegal arrest and detention of political leaders and activists as well as of young children and men; foreign journalists are prevented from reporting from the Valley; doctors speaking of the crisis of life-saving medicine and treatment in the Valley are arrested; and torture is rampant.

The lockdown on communications (phone and internet) is not a “minor inconvenience” – it is a grave violation not only of India’s own Constitution but of international human rights conventions. It violates the right to life and the right to dignity. Cutting off phone and internet connectivity in the 21st century is akin to cutting off water and electricity. It is a crime against humanity. Lack of internet has prevented poor patients from availing of subsidised dialysis in hospitals; the clampdown has resulted in shortage of medicines.

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She added that what should also concern us as citizens of India is also the attitude of the Supreme Court. The refusal of the Supreme Court to admit a petition challenging the unconstitutional nature of the lockdown is of grave concern. The SC which passed urgent orders on frivolous and mundane matters relating to parking in Delhi, took 5 days to hear a habeas corpus petition – and then, instead of demanding the production of the detained person and verifying if the detention was legal and constitutional, chose to ask a Left leader to go to the Valley and imposed restrictions on political activity during the visit! Of course, in Kashmir, this has been the manner in which habeas corpus cases have routinely been handled. The SC’s conduct is reminiscent of the infamous ADM Jabalpur case where the apex court chose to justify the restrictions on civil liberties during Emergency.

She noted that as part of India’s diplomacy campaign on Kashmir, the Indian Ambassador to the USA Harsh Shringla met far-right racist and islamophobic ideologue Steve Bannon, and even tweeted calling Bannon a “Dharma Warrior”. This tweet (later deleted) indicates the growing connections between the RSS brand of fascism, and international white-supremacist, racist, and Islamophobic networks.  

She also touched on the massive humanitarian crisis created by the NRC list in Assam. She said the Assam experience, where millions of poor persons, especially women and children, are facing statelessness due to the bureaucratic and cruel NRC exercise, must serve as a warning. We must strongly resist the extension of NRC to West Bengal and the rest of India.

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9/11: A Day that Changed the World

One of the lessons to be drawn from that tragedy is that violence begets violence and intolerance breeds intolerance.

by: César Chelala

While it is easy to create enemies, it is much harder to understand the “other", a necessary approach if we wish to eliminate conflict and honor the desire for peace and security of all people in the world. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

While it is easy to create enemies, it is much harder to understand the “other”, a necessary approach if we wish to eliminate conflict and honor the desire for peace and security of all people in the world. (Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

A new anniversary of a catastrophe brings back strong feelings and sad memories. Such is the case of the 9/11 attacks on New York’s World Trade Center, a tragedy that had long-lasting effects. New York, and the world, has not been the same since the events of September 11, 2001.      

The attacks on the Twin Towers produced the most concentrated response to an emergency in the history of the United States. It is estimated that at least 100 emergency units and dozens of private ambulances headed to the scene to pick up the wounded and take them to nearby hospitals. At the same time, more than 2,000 police officers searched the towers and rescued survivors. But the weight of the response fell to the New York Fire Department, whose response to the events was truly heroic.

The attacks on the towers led to a surge in national pride and public expressions of patriotism and a strong commitment to help those that survived and the families of those who were killed. But there was also an increase of harassment incidents and hate crimes against South Asians, Middle Easterners and even those who looked like them. Several Indian Sikhs were attacked and killed because they were erroneously believed to be Muslims. 

Health effects

The attacks were particularly disturbing to children, who saw the images of destruction replayed relentlessly on television. For years after the attack children suffered fom post-traumatic stress disorder. More than 2,500 contaminants, many of them dangerous carcinogens, were present in thousands of tons of toxic debris resulting from the collapse of the towers. It is estimated that over 18,000 people have become sick as a result of the toxic dust. 

Economic consequences

There was a wide range of economic losses after the attacks. It is estimated that the city suffered economic losses estimated in more than $90 billion. They were the consequence of lost productivity, wide-ranging insurance claims against the city, loss of real state and art objects, and impaired tourism and trade, among many other effects.

Security and military actions

Security and protective services suffered significant changes due to the attacks. Congress passed Aviation and Transportation Security Act which affected air travel and security policies, as well as guidelines to be followed before getting on board. The Department of Homeland Security required pilots to carry firearms on board, and pilots were obliged to undergo training to prevent other terror attacks.

The USA Patriot Act was also passed, which broadened the powers of law enforcement agencies for the purpose of identifying terrorist activities. The government was given wide powers to search people’s records. Through the program called Total Information Awareness special technology was developed to allow the collection and analysis of information about every individual in the United States, and detect unusual behaviors that could lead to terrorist attacks.

International

The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have ravaged those countries, and resulted in a permanent state of instability and destruction.

Using the attacks as an excuse, the U.S. conducted wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that would have serious consequences on the U.S. economy and the world rule of law. Many people throughout the world believe that the U.S. squandered a wave of world goodwill resulting from the attacks. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have ravaged those countries, and resulted in a permanent state of instability and destruction. “The war –never the choice of the Afghan people- has done great harm to our people for all sorts of different local, national, regional and international reasons. Widespread corruption, the massive arming of militias, the fuelling of war by neighboring countries, the civilian losses and night raids and deterioration of security have all undermined our children’s education, our women’s ability to work, our ability to provide basic social services to the neediest part of the population,” said Orzala Ashraf Nemat, an Afghan human rights activist.

Lesson

One of the lessons to be drawn from that tragedy is that violence begets violence and intolerance breeds intolerance. Unless there is a new approach to preventing terrorist acts we will continue to live under the threat of terror. Permanent confrontation is not the answer. While it is easy to create enemies, it is much harder to understand the “other”, a necessary approach if we wish to eliminate conflict and honor the desire for peace and security of all people in the world.

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White Nationalism and Crony Capitalism Are the Sparks That Started Fires in the Amazon

The right only denies global warming because its climate ‘science’ has surrendered to capitalists.

by: Prabir Purkayastha

The loss of forest cover in the Amazon would affect not only the world’s climate, but also the local climate in Brazil and neighboring countries, leading to less rainfall, and adversely affecting its agriculture. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The loss of forest cover in the Amazon would affect not only the world’s climate, but also the local climate in Brazil and neighboring countries, leading to less rainfall, and adversely affecting its agriculture. (Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The man-made Amazon fires are for clearing the land of its forests and indigenous people. The benefits are for Jair Bolsonaro’s cronies, while producing a climate disaster for the world.

The Amazon fires in Brazil have become worldwide news. Explaining the fires recently, Douglas Morton, chief of the Biospheric Sciences Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said that “August 2019 stands out” as a month with a far higher number of fires than any preceding year since 2010.

This is similar to what Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research (INPE) had reported earlier. The head of INPE, Ricardo Galvao, was fired on August 2 this year after INPE came out with figures based on satellite imagery that showed that deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon had increased by 40 percent in two months over a similar period last year.

That it is largely man-made can be seen from looking at where the fires have started in Brazil: mostly along the major highways and spreading into the forest. Clearly, it is an attempt to clear the forests for economic exploitation—logging, cattle ranching, commercial farming and mining—that lies at the heart of President Bolsonaro’s policies.

Speaking to reporters in the last week of August, Bolsonaro said, “It is too much land for so few Indians.” While he has declared a temporary moratorium on land-clearing due to the fires, the thrust of his policies is still to dismantle all obstacles to handing over the Amazon to big corporate and landed interests in Brazil.

Amazon forests are the world’s biggest store of carbon as well as its largest global sink. If it goes up in smoke, it will produce climate change on a scale not seen before.

Amazon forests are the world’s biggest store of carbon as well as its largest global sink. If it goes up in smoke, it will produce climate change on a scale not seen before. And this change could soon become irreversible, as once a forest starts dying, after a point, it becomes almost impossible to stop its downward plunge.

Apart from acting to fix atmospheric carbon, Amazon forests also help in the hydrological cycle that produces rainfall. The loss of forest cover in the Amazon would affect not only the world’s climate, but also the local climate in Brazil and neighboring countries, leading to less rainfall, and adversely affecting its agriculture.

While Brazil has taken the lead in a direct attack on the Amazon, with Bolsonaro adding a racial element to his attack on indigenous people, the pressure to open the Amazonian forests to agriculture, logging and mining is not just limited to Brazil. Obviously, why should other countries, which have finished their forests, argue that countries with forests keep them permanently for global benefit? Who pays and who gains is very much a part of the climate change negotiations—the Paris Accord—from which Trump and the United States have walked out.

This pitch—who pays and who gains—could indeed be a nationalist pitch for Brazil. But this is not Bolsonaro’s argument. For him, the only issue is that fires lit for clearing the Amazon should not burn without control: he must be shedding tears about all those logs that could have been sold for money going up in smoke.

He is asking President Trump, a fellow climate change disbeliever and another white nationalist, for help with dousing the fires. He has no sympathy for Brazil’s indigenous people—“Indians,” he calls them—bemoaning the failure of the Brazilian cavalry in “clearing” its indigenous people, unlike the U.S. cavalry, which was so much more efficient in its “extermination of the Indians.”

Before we address the complex issue of climate justice, indigenous rights and economic development, we need to address one misunderstanding on the role of Amazon forests. Amazon forests do not produce 20 percent of the oxygen the world needs, as is commonly said. It is the largest producer of oxygen on land, producing about 6-9 percent of the total oxygen that is produced globally, including from the oceans. Still, we cannot talk of producing oxygen without also asking how much of it the Amazon consumes. So we must see the net oxygen that the Amazon produces, meaning, subtract the oxygen consumed by it from what it produces. Once we do that, we find that the Amazon’s net output of oxygen is near zero, as it is also the largest consumer of oxygen. The Amazon’s value is in fixing atmospheric carbon, and its loss will mean the release of stored carbon into the atmosphere with devastating consequences.

Is it possible to use the forest lands economically such that we do not have deforestation with both local and global consequences? The argument is yes, this can be done using scientific methods and technology, such that we can get short-term developmental benefits as well as meet long-term goals. This would be different from the colonial models promoting mono-cultures and claiming forests on behalf of the Crown, but would mean involving the forest communities in protecting forests. It would mean culling forests, but within limits of its regeneration and using a mix of trees that are natural to the Amazonian environment. It would mean, if mines and other projects are allowed in them, to minimize their impact and leave large areas as untouched natural reserves.

Of course, this would require a policy for indigenous people that respects their identity while allowing them to choose how they integrate themselves; not as living museum pieces, but as communities living in harmony with nature and the rest of Brazilian society. These are complex issues and there is no one answer to these questions. Their answer would mean a democracy that allows for dialogue and a way to reconcile the goals of development and maintains peoples’ identities and cultural diversities.

Instead of taking this complex, democratic path, the logic of capital is quite simple. It prioritizes the interest of the capitalists—not capital but capitalists—over other sections of the people. For the capitalist, there is a simple way of looking at any issue: what return can I get if I can get the state to follow a certain policy? Giving away of land, forests and mineral resources to capitalists by the state is what Marx called primary—or primitive—accumulation. In the language of the commons, it is “enclosure” of the commons, and in this case, the Amazon forests are the commons.

If Bolsonaro can hand over forest lands—its trees, its minerals and their use after clearing forests for cattle-ranching or soybean-farming—to his capitalist cronies, they make big bucks. This is the crux of Bolsonaro’s policies. This is similar to what Prime Minister Narendra Modi is doing in India with the recent modification to the Forest Rights Act.

Both Brazil and India are expropriating the people’s rights over natural resources on a grand scale. This is what capital and their ideologues call releasing the animal spirits of capital.

Capitalism not only has the Trumps, Modis and Bolsonaros determine that what is good for capital is good for the people, but also other ideologues. One of them, American economist William Nordhaus, has built an economic model that essentially “shows” that it is better to spend money, not on preventing climate change today, but mitigating it in the future. There are two fallacies in this approach. One is that those producing climate change—either directly, through their emissions, or by consuming products that produce carbon emissions—are going to be impacted far less than those who produce much lower carbon emissions.

Unfortunately, the impact of such climate change is going to be far more adverse in tropical and equatorial regions of the world, where the bulk of the poor live. They also produce much less carbon emissions. The other flaw in Nordhaus-type models is that they privilege benefits received today over adverse effects in the future, the same way a capitalist looks at his profits: this quarter’s profits matter more than the long-term sustainability of capitalism itself.

Are other approaches and models possible? Yes, of course. A number of approaches that address both these issues exist. But climate science today has little to do with science; it is politics and the interests of capital that are deciding our climate future. Upton Sinclair, the American writer, had written in the 1930s, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”

Denying global warming is not a scientific mistake that the global right makes; it is simply who is paying the bill that determines their belief.

Posted in USA, BrazilComments Off on White Nationalism and Crony Capitalism Are the Sparks That Started Fires in the Amazon

Progressives ‘Overjoyed’ as John Bolton Leaves White House

“Best news of this past few weeks, if not longer!!!!”

byEoin Higgins

Former national security advisor John Bolton listens to President Donald Trump talk to reporters during a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington on Feb. 12.

Former national security advisor John Bolton listens to President Donald Trump talk to reporters during a cabinet meeting at the White House in Washington on Feb. 12. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

This is an updating story

John Bolton, the fiery nationalist who served as President Donald Trump’s national security advisor, was fired Tuesday due to disagreements over Iran, North Korea, and Afghanistan. 

In a statement, the Council on Islamic American Relations celebrated the decision and said the group hoped for a more reasoned and rational replacement. 

“CAIR always welcomes the firing of notorious Islamophobic hate mongers like John Bolton, a man who has strong ties to anti-Muslim extremists and organizations,” the group said. “Let’s hope Trump’s next National Security Adviser isn’t a white supremacist or anti-Muslim bigot.”

The dismissal opens the door for peace, National Iranian American Council president Jamal Abdi said in a statement.

“The timing of this move is fortuitous given recent French efforts to facilitate dialogue between the U.S. and Iran,” said Abdi. “Bolton was a major obstacle to any resumption of diplomacy and, now that he has been dismissed, the Trump administration should take proactive steps to enable dialogue and a diplomatic resolution with Iran.”

Bolton, a notorious warhawk whose extreme views made him virtually unconfirmable in any position in the Trump administration, was appointed by the president on April 9, 2018. Before serving in the Trump administration, Bolton was then-President George W. Bush administration’s representative to the U.N.—a position he got through recess appointment as, again, he would not have been confirmed by the Senate due to his views.  

As ACLU Human Rights Project director Jamil Dakwar pointed out in a statement, Bolton’s extreme views weren’t an issue before now. 

“John Bolton threatened International Criminal Court judges and prosecutors for investigating the United States’ war crimes in Afghanistan,” said Dakwar. “He celebrated when victims of torture were denied the opportunity to hold their torturers accountable. He abdicated on our country’s responsibility to its international human rights commitments. None of this was apparently disagreeable enough to the president.”

According to The New York Times, Bolton had become increasingly sidelined in the administration:

His departure comes as Mr. Trump is pursuing diplomatic openings with two of the United States’ most intractable enemies, efforts that have troubled hard-liners in the administration, like Mr. Bolton, who view North Korea and Iran as profoundly untrustworthy.

The president made the announcement Tuesday via his Twitter account. 

“I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House,” Trump tweeted. “I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the administration.”

Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House. I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore….102K4:58 PM – Sep 10, 2019

Yet Bolton, in a tweet, said that he offered to resign, a point the former official repeated in texts to news anchors covering the unfolding drama. 

“I offered to resign last night,” Bolton tweeted, “and President Trump said, ‘Let’s talk about it tomorrow.'”

Bolton reaffirmed that version of events in a text to Fox News host Brian Kilmeade. 

Lis Power@LisPower1

BOLTON IS TEXTING FOX HOSTS WHO ARE ON AIR TO DISPUTE TRUMP’S ACCOUNT OF HIS FIRING

Kilmeade: “John Bolton just texted me, just now, he’s watching. He said, ‘let’s be clear, I resigned.'”13.5K5:20 PM – Sep 10, 2019

No matter how it happened, the news that the hawkish Bolton was out of the White House and away from the president’s ear was welcomed by anti-war advocates. 

“I’m overjoyed,” tweeted CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin. 

 Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft co-founder Trita Parsi rejoiced in the announcement, tweeting that the “chance of diplomacy went up” in the wake of Bolton’s firing. 

“Best news of this past few weeks, if not longer!!!!” said Parsi. 

Paul Kawika Martin, the senior director for policy and political affairs at Peace Action, said that the choice to fire Bolton was one of the few Trump decisions that were acceptable. 

“There’s a few decisions of Trump’s that I agree with: diplomacy with NorthKorea, end the Afghanistan War, and there’s no place for someone like John Bolton anywhere near a president,” said Martin.

Paul Kawika Martin #NoWarWithIran@PaulKawika

There’s a few decisions of @POTUS that I agree with: diplomacy with #NorthKorea, end the Afghanistan War and there’s no place for someone like @AmbJohnBolton anywhere near a President. Bolton perpetuated lies to get the US in the disastrous #Iraq War and clearly wanted more wars. https://twitter.com/realdonaldtrump/status/1171452880055746560 …Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrumpI informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House. I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore….

Some Twitter users, like @UweBollocks, opined on the internal White House drama that could have precipitated Bolton’s dismissal. 

“Just keep thinking of Trump telling Bolton to shave his sideburns until he finally had to let him go,” @UweBollocks tweeted.

The Young Turks reporter Emma Vigeland imagined the scene as Bolton left 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. 

“John Bolton wipes tears out of his matted mustache, lovingly stroking the framed illustration of dead Iranians he kept in his office as he packs it away into a singular cardboard filing box,” Vigeland said.

While Bolton’s future is unclear, a number of cynical observers made the prediction that the longtime right-wing advocate would continue to fail upward. 

“Can’t wait for John Bolton’s transition to cable and inevitable book deal,” said journalist Walker Bragman. 

Walker Bragman@WalkerBragman

Can’t wait for John Bolton’s transition to cable and inevitable book deal…485:31 PM – Sep 10, 2019

That was a point echoed by Daily Beast editor-in-chief Noah Shachtman. In a tweet, Shachtman referred to the impulse by the country’s so-called “liberal” cable news network to feature anyone on the right who disagrees with the president. 

“Four words,” said Shachtman. “MSNBC contributor John Bolton.”

Even if he doesn’t make it on as a contributor, Splinter deputy editor Jack Mirkinson said, Bolton will likely be the subject of positive coverage at the channel going forward.

“Someone on ‘Morning Joe’ will be pushing for Bolton to primary Trump by morning,” said Mirkinson. 

Posted in USAComments Off on Progressives ‘Overjoyed’ as John Bolton Leaves White House

“Trump’s Racism and Cruelty Knows No Bounds”: Outrage as President Smears Dorian Victims Fleeing Bahamas as Gang Members

“The survivors of Hurricane Dorian are climate change refugees fleeing disaster, and they deserve compassion and support, not isolation and exclusion,” said the Sunrise MovementbyJake Johnson, staff writer

Marsh Harbor residents wait at Leonard M. Thompson International Airport while trying to evacuate the island on September 5, 2019 in Great Abaco Island, Bahamas. (Photo: Jose Jimenez/Getty Images)

Echoing the racist and dehumanizing rhetoric he has repeatedly deployed against Mexican immigrants, Muslims, and others, President Donald Trump on Monday told reporters—without offering a shred of evidence—that there may be “very bad gang members” and “drug dealers” among those fleeing the Bahamas in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.

The president’s comments sparked outrage, with the Sierra Club responding that “Donald Trump’s racism and cruelty knows no bounds.”

“He needs to do his job and respond to the ongoing humanitarian crisis,” the group tweeted. “We rise in solidarity with the Bahamian people.”

Trump’s remarks came hours after hundreds Bahamian refugees were ordered off a ferry headed for Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, purportedly because they did not have U.S. visas. Brian Entin, a reporter for WSVN 7 News in Miami who was on the vessel, said “this is not normal” and noted Bahamians can usually travel to the U.S. with just a passport and a printout of their police record.

“We have to be very careful,” Trump told reporters Monday, defending the decision to remove hurricane victims from the ferry and warning that “very bad people” could be attempting to enter the U.S. after Dorian devastated the Bahamas, killing dozens and destroying tens of thousands of homes.

Watch:

In a statement Monday night,  Varshini Prakash, co-founder of the youth-led Sunrise Movement, said the move to deny hurricane victims entry is “disgraceful and goes against everything we are supposed to stand for as a nation.”

“These are people whose homes and livelihoods have been totally destroyed, who have lost family members,” said Prakash. “But instead of welcoming them with open arms and offering support, we’re sending them back to an island with little shelter, no food, and no access to basic necessities.”

Prakash said Sunrise and allies are planning to rally outside Customs and Border Protection (CBP) offices in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday to demand that the Trump administration “stop turning away people fleeing destruction.”

“As the climate crisis makes storms like Dorian stronger and deadlier, will we build bigger walls and keep polluting and making the crisis worse, or will we give the most vulnerable a safe haven in their time of most dire need and commit ourselves to tackling this crisis?” added Prakash. “The survivors of Hurricane Dorian are climate change refugees fleeing disaster, and they deserve compassion and support, not isolation and exclusion.”

Posted in USAComments Off on “Trump’s Racism and Cruelty Knows No Bounds”: Outrage as President Smears Dorian Victims Fleeing Bahamas as Gang Members

Ahead of Nazi Election, Naziyahu Vows to Annex Large Swathes of illegally occupied West Bank ‘In Maximum Coordination With Trump’

Ahead of Israeli Election, Netanyahu Vows to Annex Large Swathes of West Bank ‘In Maximum Coordination With Trump’

“A reminder that Israel is a state where apartheid policies are used to appeal to voters.”

by: Jake Johnson

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks before a map of the Jordan Valley as he gives a statement in Ramat Gan, near the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv on September 10, 2019. (Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Tuesday that he plans to annex large segments of the occupied West Bank if he wins reelection next week.

It’s a move advocacy groups said would violate international law and the human rights of Palestinians.

“Give me the power to guarantee Israel’s security. Give me the power to determine Israel’s borders,” Netanyahu said during a nationally televised speech, in which he unveiled a map detailing his proposal.

Netanyahu said he hopes to carry out the annexation “in maximum coordination with [U.S. President Donald] Trump.”

Palestinian officials were outraged by the Israeli Prime Minister’s speech.

Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian negotiator, said if Netanyahu’s plan is implemented, he will “have succeeded in burying even any chance of peace between Palestinians and Israelis.”

“Israel’s plan to annex the Jordan Valley, an integral part of occupied Palestine, is manifestly illegal and merely adds to Israel’s long history of violations of international law,” said Ereka. “We need to end the conflict, and not to keep it for another 100 years.”

Here’s the map of Netanyahu’s proposed annexation. It would essentially slice off the entire eastern edge of the West Bank and mean Jericho is a Palestinian island inside Israel territory.

Very hard for anyone to pretend Two States is still viable if this happens. pic.twitter.com/lfJp2PutW7

— Raf Sanchez (@rafsanchez) September 10, 2019

The announcement comes just a week before Israeli voters head to the polls Tuesday for the second time in 2019 after Netanyahu failed to form a government following April’s razor-close election.

The U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, a coalition of hundreds of advocacy groups working to secure freedom and justice for the Palestinian people, tweeted Tuesday that Netanyahu’s vow to annex large swathes of the West Bank “is a reminder that Israel is a state where apartheid policies are used to appeal to voters.”

Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, a liberal-leaning American Jewish advocacy group, warned in a statement that Netanyahu’s plan would “make the occupation permanent and condemn millions of Palestinians to a future of living under unending Israeli rule, without basic civil rights or self-determination.”

“Responsible lawmakers and presidential candidates must make clear that they will not give the Israeli government a blank check to violate U.S. interests and democratic values,” said Ben-Ami. “They must make clear that annexation of any portion of the West Bank will lead to major consequences for the future of the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

Posted in ZIO-NAZIComments Off on Ahead of Nazi Election, Naziyahu Vows to Annex Large Swathes of illegally occupied West Bank ‘In Maximum Coordination With Trump’


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