You couldn’t really get a better – or more tragic – illustration than this of the continuity of agenda when it comes to US foreign policy and of how it doesn’t actually matter what administration happens to be in the White House.
It’s all about perspective, of course: but if you’re a child in Yemen, for example, it makes little difference to you whether you’re being murdered by US soldiers under a Donald Trump administration or by US soldiers under a Barack Obama or George W. Bush administration (or by Saudi airstrikes).
The striking story that illustrates this point came to my notice initially via the Free Thought Project, primarily citing Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept and the work of Jeremy Scahill: it involves two children from the same family, both having been murdered by American actions – one of them during the Obama administration and the other now in the Trump administration.
One of the new White House’s first acts in the manufactured War On Terror it has inherited from previous administrations was a raid in Yemen, targeting a compound that was claimed to have housed Al-Qaeda officials. Both President Trump and sections of the US media mourned the death of a SEAL Team member killed in the assault (who was hailed a ‘hero’ in that same strange way that Iraq War sniper/assassin Chris Kyle was): but most media outlets didn’t bother noting the women and children – as many as 10, according to on-the-ground reports in Yemen – also killed in the raid.
Official US military statements denied any civilian casualties at first, but even the largely anti-Trump media outlets either downplayed or entirely omitted reference to civilian deaths until days later. Even the Fake News, Anti-Trump CNN reports neglected to mention civilians.
Yemeni reports suggested that up to 30 people were killed, some of these being – presumably – Al-Qaeda-related individuals, others being civilians caught up in the situation.
And among those killed was the 8-year-old granddaughter (see here) of Nasser al-Awlaki. What was particularly striking – and illustrative – about this murder is that her (American) 16-year-old brother had also been previously killed by US military action in Yemen (under Obama).
Which perfectly illustrates the ‘continuity of agenda’ when it comes to foreign policy and military activity, which pre-dates and transcends party politics or the government of the day.
Award-winning investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill – who extensively interviewed the grandfather, Nasser al-Awlaki, in Yemen for his book and award-winning film Dirty Wars – reported that the girl’s grandfather said she was “was shot in the neck and killed” and subsequently bled to death for two hours.
If the child was shot in the neck, it rather rules out the popular notion (which video games and movies have helped desensitize people to) of “collateral damage” via drone strike (which happens a lot in Yemen, like this and this). This was an on-the-ground, face to face killing.
Not that the type of killing matters as much as the fact that innocent people are being killed: but Yemen is well used to this by now.
The United Nations’ humanitarian aid official in Yemen has recently announced that the civilian death toll since the start of the conflict two years ago has reached 10,000, and that some 10 million civilians are in need of ‘urgent assistance’.
Over a year ago, even at the point where it was being (under) reported that some half-a-million children in Yemen were starving and on the brink of death, US support for the Saudi-led bombing campaign and humanitarian blockade continued.
The UN has accused both sides of the conflict of having committed war crimes, but has also specified that the Saudi-led coalition has killed three times as many civilians as the Houthi rebels. Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of US weaponry is being used by Saudi-led forces in their Yemen campaign, despite some of President Obama’s scaling back of US arms support (due to the excessive civilian casualties). The US is also still providing logistical support.
Not that there is necessarily any ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ side in this conflict (though the sheer scale of the Saudi-led devastation serves to single them out as the worst perpetrator) – there appears to be no real ‘moral’ victor or cause, just a conflict of interests that has spiraled out of control – but it is the civilian population of the poorest country in the Middle East that has paid and is still paying the price.
Events like this SEAL Team 6 attack – and the very selective way in which they are reported – are also echoed across conflicts. This one is particularly reminiscent of three of Muammar Gaddafi’s infant grandchildren being wiped out in a NATO bombing in 2011, with no official statement or acknowledgement from NATO officials or Western leaders (with the implication therefore being that they were somehow legitimate targets).
The civilian deaths in an operation like this one could still be waved away as ‘collateral damage’: but we should also ask questions about who these people were carrying out the operation. Weeks ago, in a report for The Intercept, Matthew Cole characterised this SEAL Team (SEAL Team 6 – also known as the Naval Special Warfare Development Group) as being notorious for engaging in “revenge ops, unjustified killings, mutilations, and other atrocities.”
There is a danger that this type of cut-throat special ops activity might prove to be something the current White House administration goes to as a first – and not a last – resort.
The presence in the Trump/Bannon circle, as previously reported, of the infamous Blackwater mercenary firm founder Erik Prince could indicate the kind of direction the new administration wants to go in. Prince got his hands bloody in both Iraq and Libya and he is now advising the Trump administration, as well as having his sister, Betsy DeVos, in Trump’s Cabinet.
It has been reported elsewhere recently that Trump’s hand-picked national security advisers (including Steve Bannon and, until recently, Michael Flynn) have been pushing him to lift or loosen current restrictions that are designed to minimise civilian casualties: the idea being that such ‘restrictions’ make tactical or military objectives more difficult than they should be.
How significant this raid was in ‘War On Terror’ terms is unclear; though of course Donald Trump and the White House spokesman have celebrated it as a great ‘victory’.
Of course, one of the key things that revealed to most intelligent observers that the ‘anti establishment’ aspect of the Trump campaign was a fraud is that – at no point – did Trump or anyone associated with Trump acknowledge the fraudulent nature and origins of the ‘War on Terror’.
In fact, if you track most ‘Alt-Right’ media, you will also note that those outlets too no longer talk about the War on Terror in terms of false-flag ops or manufactured crises but purely in terms of a ‘Clash of Civilisations’. Which suggests that they’re no longer interested in investigating or understanding 9/11, intelligence agency psy-ops and false-flags or the cultivation of jihadists and extremism as proxies for foreign policy objectives, but are firmly focused instead on creating or amplifying the divide-and-conquer meme instead.
It is also a little perverse that the US-backed Saudi bombing campaign in Yemen has been perceived by some analysts to have actually strengthened Al-Qaeda’s position – something that I predicted would be the case as soon as the campaign started back in March 2015. As was noted back then, the Saudi assault against Houthi rebels in Yemen seemed to happen at a point where Al-Qaeda in Yemen were reportedly on the brink of defeat by Houthi-led forces.
In terms of this specific SEAL Team 6 assault, I’m not suggesting they didn’t genuinely take out some actual Al-Qaeda operatives or terrorists (or that the Obama administration wouldn’t have green-lit the exact same mission). But when we look at events like this – particularly when we look at the civilian cost in life – we have to look at it in its much broader context.
The 8-year-old girl murdered by SEAL Team 6 was the daughter of the notorious Anwar al-Awlaki.
Anwar al-Awlaki, the Al-Qaeda ‘figurehead’ (already assassinated by US drones in Yemen some years ago) who these latest killings center around, was long held to have been a US/CIA/Pentagon asset or agent in the Cheney/Rumsfeld regime. A chief Al-Qaeda propagandist, he was regarded to have been involved in 9/11, had a pre-existing relationship with the FBI, and was even invited to dine at the White House just months after the 9/11 attack.
He was allegedly connected to numerous terror activities and foiled plots and is generally thought to have been a major handler for intelligence-agency patsies (including the failed underpants bomber, the Fort Hood Shooter and even the Charlie Hebdo patsies), as well as a recruiter and motivator of extremists and would-be terrorists. More than all of that, he was a major extremist preacher, whose sermons and videos are credited with having inspired or radicalised scores of young men all over the world (including the Boston Marathon brothers) – all the while, he was most likely an actor in the complex fraud that was the ‘War on Terror’.
Just like Al-Qaeda itself was a manufactured fraud that eventually became a reality, as was the phony ‘hunt for Bin Laden’ that lasted ten years, Anwar al-Awlaki was simply a US intelligence asset playing a scripted part like Ben Kingsley as the Mandarin.
As Tom Burghardt suggested, back in 2011, al-Awlaki’s unlawful execution (an American citizen executed with no trial and with no proof provided of his crimes – because a trial and all the accompanying ‘evidence’ would’ve been too damaging to American agencies and institutions) was – along with the raid to kill Osama bin Laden – probably ‘part of a larger CIA/Pentagon operation to remove inconvenient participants and witnesses from the scene who might have a thing or two to say about the crimes and intrigues hatched by the imperialist Empire.’
In other words, they were wiping out their own assets once those assets had outlived their usefulness or could’ve become a liability.
I am not, by any means, proposing sympathy for the likes of Anwar al-Awlaki – I am, however, proposing a great deal of sympathy for his family members and the 8-year-old girl that was shot in the neck and left to die for two hours.
Was she simply in the ‘wrong place at the wrong time’? Was it death by association? Yemen, by the way, is on the travel ban list – so she couldn’t have come to America for a safer life even if she had wanted to… despite the sterling work her father did with his American sponsors in helping manufacture the ‘Clash of Civilisations’.
The whole thing – Al-Qaeda, 9/11, the War on Terror – was a fraud every step of the way. It is odd – perhaps even telling – that Donald Trump, during the presidential campaign, was willing to talk about Hillary and Obama and the role they played in the creating of ‘ISIS’ or the so-called Islamic State in Syria, Iraq and Libya, but never said a word about the pre-Obama creation of Al-Qaeda and the phony ‘War On Terror’ from which the current ‘ISIS’ phenomenon came.
A phony, unending conflict created in 2001 to service geo-political, corporate and military-industrial agendas, and which has by now claimed millions of lives. With more being added to that toll every day.