Archive | August 8th, 2011

It Is Time to Listen To King Hussein


King Hussein was betrayed by both Israel and the US, as Israel continued “colonizing the occupied territory, and the Palestinians were left without a state.”

by James M. Wall

This betrayal was the price Hussein paid “to find out that the Israelis preferred land to peace and that the Americans didn’t care which of the two the Israelis chose.”

From time to time, just as the Middle East political cauldron reaches one of its major boiling points, the New York Times‘ Thomas Friedman sits down to write an open letter to the leaders of a particular Middle Eastern state, offering sage advice on what action Friedman thinks the leader should take.

Thus far, I have resisted following the Friedman letter-writing format. But the time has come for me to do my own version of Friedman speaking truth to the powerful.

I do not expect my communiqué to have the impact of a Friedman letter (his readership is larger), but I do have a suggestion that I think would be helpful to the six-member Palestinian delegation that will soon request full membership in the United Nations General Assembly.

I propose that they each read, very carefully, a new book, by Jack O’Connell, King’s Counsel: A Memoir of War, Espionage, and Diplomacy in the Middle East

Here is why I believe this book is important:

Jack O’Connell was a young CIA agent who was sent to Jordan by the agency to help preserve the monarchy of King Hussein, the father of the current King Abdullah. O’Connell was 37 and King Hussein was 22 when they first met.

This book was the memoir that King Hussein wanted to write. O’Connell relied on his own notes and records, and on long interviews with the King over the years that O’Connell worked as Amman CIA station chief.

Paul R. Pillar , a former national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia at the CIA, wrote a review of King’s Counsel for the Washington Post. Pillar teaches at Georgetown University and is the author of the forthcoming “Intelligence and U.S. Foreign Policy.” He describes O’Connell’s role as station chief:

O’Connell was heavily involved as an intermediary between Hussein and senior U.S. officials in the negotiation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, the framework for what was supposed to have been Israel’s withdrawal from territories it occupied in the 1967 war. O’Connell’s account makes it clear that the United States promised Hussein that withdrawal meant a full pull-out subject only to “minor reciprocal border rectifications.”

This paragraph alone should be marked and absorbed by the Palestinian delegation, before its members make its case to the 193-member UN General Assembly. In talking to other nations’ delegates, the Palestinians will want to insist that Israel’s claim to any West Bank land  along the 1967 borders must be rejected in any future agreement, except for “minor reciprocal border rectifications”.

Har Homa, for example, is not a “minor reciprocal border” adjustment.  It is rather, a colonial housing development that destroyed the forests which covered the Palestinian mountain once known as Jebel Abu Ghneim.

The 2011 General Assembly that meets to discuss a Palestinian request for membership should be reminded that on March 12, 1997, the GA passed the first of several resolutions by a margin of 130 to 2, with the two negatives votes cast by the United States and Israel. The initial resolution expressed “deep concern at the decision of the Israelis to initiate new settlement activity in the Jebel Abu Ghneim area,” using the Arabic name for Har Homa.”

The initial resolution also labeled all settlement activity “illegal and a major obstacle to peace,” and urged that Israel “refrain from all actions or measures, including settlement activities, which alter the facts on the ground, preempting the final status negotiations, and have negative implications for the Middle East Peace Process.”

This Har Homa project, now a massive colonial housing development along the highway between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, was built after King Hussein renounced any Jordanian claim to the West Bank and signed its peace treaty with Israel in 1994.

O’Connell makes it clear in his book that King Hussein was betrayed by both Israel and the US, as Israel continued “colonizing the occupied territory, and the Palestinians were left without a state.”

This betrayal was the price Hussein paid “to find out that the Israelis preferred land to peace and that the Americans didn’t care which of the two the Israelis chose.”

O’Connell adds that “in the king’s mind, no good would come” from this situation”. He was right.

This book contains other remarkable examples of American resistance to Israel’s conduct. O’Connell writes at one point of a telegram from President Jimmy Carter to Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in which Carter told Begin that unless he stopped using US military equipment to shell PLO units, he would stop US military aid to Israel.

O’Connell writes that he personally doubted that Carter could carry out his threat because of the congressional support behind Begin.  But the Israeli leader could not be sure, so he stopped the raids.

Then there was speculation from O’Connell that when Carter said in a speech that the Palestinians had “the right of self-determination”, Israel began immediately to link all things Palestinian to “terrorist”. The label worked with the American media and the American public.

I will write more about the “self-determination” incident in a later posting, but for the purpose of this Friedman-style suggestion to the Palestinian six-member delegation that travels to the UN General Assembly in September, I will save that story for a second installment on O’Connell and King Hussein.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian delegation should listen to King Hussein and acknowledge what has long been obvious: Israel has never wanted to negotiate for any fair agreement with the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.  Israel wants it all.

The UN General Assembly should recognize this reality and give Palestine a proper statehood with contiguous, realistic borders that will not hand over large Palestinian land masses to Israel.

ABOUT  THE AUTHOR: James Wall is currently a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois.  From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine.  He has made more than 20 trips to that region as a journalist, during which he covered such events as Anwar Sadat’s 1977 trip to Jerusalem, and the 2006 Palestinian legislative election. He has interviewed, and written about, journalists, religious leaders, political leaders and private citizens in the region.  Jim served for two years on active duty in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF (inactive) reserve. Jim launched his new personal blog Wallwritings, on April 24, 2008. He can be reached at:

Also see:

King Hussein’s grandfather King Abdullah Addresses an American Audience in 1947

“As the Arabs see the Jews”
His Majesty King Abdullah,
The American Magazine

November, 1947

I am especially delighted to address an American audience, for the tragic problem of Palestine will never be solved without American understanding, American sympathy, American support. Read here

Posted in JordanComments Off on It Is Time to Listen To King Hussein

Drone Attack on Outskirts of Tripoli Serious flaw in identifying targets


By: Moeen Raoof

Dear Friends,

You may recall, on Monday, 16 May 2011, right after our visit to the mother of the 19-year old Army recruit, a few hours after leaving the district outside Tripoli (estimate 20-30 Miles or so), when we returned to Tripoli for our meeting with the Fact Finding Commission, NATO Planes circled this location outside of Tripoli and let behind a layered trail of smoke circles. You may also recall it was a cloudy day as the photos attached show clearly. 

Shortly afterwards Drones launched missiles on a target that was almost dead centre of the smoke circles during the afternoon of the day.
While the significance of this is not immediately apparent, it begs the question why would NATO send in Four Manned Aircraft at considerable cost to its budget for the attack to take place about half an hour after the smoke circles are placed to indicate the location of the target, by unmanned Drones (UAV’s). Note that the smoke circles are layered one on top of the other in 4-rings. This means manned aircraft which presumably were fully armed with two making the rings while two kept watch and in support of the ring-makers, then left presumably returning to base in Southern Italy (most likely or a carrier off Libyan
International waters), without firing any missiles at any target on the day.
The only conclusion to reach in this case is that there is a very serious flaw with the operation of the unmanned Drones and the ability of the Operator sitting thousands of miles away to identify a target and to carry-out a successful attack without a “X” marks the spot indicator most at approximately 10,000 feet above. This means that Drones are a redundant asset in warfare and NATO is trying to justify it by ensuring targets are being identified prior to the Drone reaching the targeted area.
Can I please ask everyone to approach their Members of Parliament (MP’s), Congressmen, Senators, Politicians, etc., particularly in the NATO Member States to ask the crucial question as to why are manned aircraft being sent over a conflict zone only to return without firing any weapons, and marking the targets for Drone attacks, this is a waste of money and probably a justification for the (illegal), drones to be discarded once and for all as they are not reliable.
Kindly let me have your comments as I feel this is a very crucial issue and one we must address urgently, please study the photos carefully and reach your own conclusions of course but do act with haste, lives of many innocents in Libya, Pakistan, Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq and other nations depend on our actions or non-actions.
Many thanks.

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By: Moeen Raoof

June 19, 2011

During this past week a number of articles have reported on the use of Twitter to provide Target Acquisition information to NATO:

“How social media users are helping NATO fight Gadhafi in Libya” *1)
“Libya air strikes: Nato uses Twitter to help gather targets” *2)
“NATO draws on Twitter for Libya strikes” *3)

This means NATO is using YOUR DOMAIN to target civilian sites to destoy and cause mass casualties and deaths of Libyan civilians!!!

A random check made clear NATO gets their information, i.e. latitude and longitude information of Libyan government forces and other strategic/logistic information, from tweets like these:

which information is tweeted to: @NATO@NATOpress@NATOlibrary,@NATOchannel@NATOSource@AndersFoghR@SteveMcCluskey@UKMilOps and/or @HMS_Nonsuch.

The war on Libya is widely regarded as ILLEGAL, both under international law and under US statutes including the War Powers Resolution. (see

Therefore, anyone collaborating in acts of violence connected to this war is arguably a criminal conspirator; his/her actions are analogous to those of a gang member using online communication to inform a contract killer of the location of his victim.

Under US federal law, transmitting information containing threats of injury or death is a criminal offense:

“Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication containing … any threat to injure the person of another, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.”
18 U.S.C. § 875 (c)

Courts have held that this statute applies, not only to the person sending the illegal communication, but also to any Internet Service Provider that transmits the communication. See

Simply by transmitting bombing coordinates posted by its users, therefore, Twitter may be in violation of federal criminal law.

Moreover, Twitter’s Terms of Service – the so-called “Twitter Rules” *4) – clearly state:

“You may not publish or post direct, specific threats of violence against others”
as well as
“You may not use our service for any unlawful purposes or for promotion of illegal activities.”

Therefore Twitter appears to be in VIOLATION, not only of the law, but also of its own Terms of Service.

We therefore urgently request you to take action against twitter accounts that directly contribute to the destruction of Libya and the casualties and deaths of thousands of Libyan people.



*1) (June 14, 2011)

*2) (June 15, 2011)

*3) (June 16, 2011)



Over 1000-Children Missing in Libya


Dear All,

A new and very disturbing development has come to light about children missing in Libya, there is growing public and government concern in Western Libya about the whereabouts of 53 female and 52 male children aged one to 12 years and another group ranging from 12 to 18 years, both part of a government-run home for orphans and abused children that until February was operating in Misrata, now under rebel control.

According to several reports over the past three months and testimony presented last Thursday evening to the international media gathered at the Tripoli Rexis Hotel, by the General Union for Civil Society Organizations:

The 105 children, part of more than 1000 missing, were “kidnapped” by rebel forces as they entered Misrata and went on a killing spree, some of which has been documented by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International among other groups.

There is no question that the children are no longer in their sheltered facility. But from there what became of them remains a mystery.

The Libyan government claims the youngsters were kidnapped by rebels who went on a rampage in late February. Several reports from eyewitnesses claim that the children were last seen being put onto either a Turkish, Italian, or French boat.

More than one witness claimed to have witnessed some of the children being sold in Tunisia. On his tweeter page, the local Russian Telesur reporter said that “several sources have affirmed that the 105 children were taken out of the country in a ship that could be Turkish, French or Italian.”
Libyan Social Affairs Minister Ibrahim Sharif told reporters in Tripoli this week that, “We want the truth and we hold those countries responsible for the well-being of these children who are neither soldiers nor combatants.” Sharif added that a rebel doctor captured by government troops testified that some of the orphans had been taken to France and Italy?

Given Misrata’s history as a main North African slave trading port, a fact that today partially explains tensions among the one third of Libya’s population that is black and who are descendants of slaves and many of whom live in western Libya in villages now fighting the Misrata and Benghazi based rebels, concern is acute.

While Libya has had perhaps the most strictly enforced child protection laws in the Middle East and Africa, people here remember clearly that France was at the center of a scandal in 2007 when aid workers from the Zoe’s Ark charity attempted to fly 103 children out of Chad, to the south of Libya, who they said were orphans from neighboring Sudan. International aid staff later found that the children were in fact Chadian and had at least one living parent. People here fear a similar fate for the Libyan youngsters.

Also on people’s minds in Libya is what happened two years ago in Haiti when “orphans,” according to local authorities, were kidnapped. Given the epidemic of human trafficking in this region, especially of children, fears are well founded.
NATO has not replied to inquiries demanding information about the disappeared children nor has UNICEF, Save the Children or Secretary of State Clinton’s office. Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich has agreed to demand that the White House order an immediate investigation and of course any human rights advocate could raise this issue in the West and demand an urgent inquiry from her/his government.

The Libyan government as well as both the Roman Catholic Papal representative Bishop Giovanni Martinelli, and Father Daoud of the Anglican Church of Christ the King, in Tripoli have demanded that the UN investigate and find the children.

As for the National Transition Council, its spokesman denied charges that they have sold the children and claim that the Libyan government in Tripoli have all the children and that they are using them as human shields at the now five times bombed Bab al Azizya complex in central Tripoli. No known human rights organization or journalist who has investigated this claim has reported seeing any sign of the children at Bab al Azizya.

The General Union, noted above, has photos and names and ages of all the missing children and have widely publicized them.

More than a dozen social welfare organizations, women’s groups and Libya’s Lawyer syndicates have launched an intensive media and public involvement campaign to find the children who have now been missing for nearly six months.

Please highlight this issue as widely as possible.

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Wars conveniently ignored



by Amy Goodman

President Barack Obama touted his debt-ceiling deal Tuesday, saying, “We can’t balance the budget on the backs of the very people who have borne the biggest brunt of this recession.” Yet that is what he and his coterie of Wall Street advisers have done.

In the affairs of nations, Alexander Hamilton wrote in January 1790, “loans in times of public danger, especially from foreign war, are found an indispensable resource.” It was his first report as secretary of the treasury to the new Congress of the United States. The country had borrowed to fight the Revolutionary War, and Hamilton proposed a system of public debt to pay those loans.

The history of the U.S. national debt is inexorably tied to its many wars. The resolution this week of the so-called debt-ceiling crisis is no different. Not only did a compliant Congress agree to fund President George W. Bush’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with emergency appropriations; they did so with borrowed money, raising the debt ceiling 10 times since 2001 without quibbling.

 So how did the Pentagon fare in the current budget battle? It looks like it did fine. Not to be confused with the soldiers and veterans who have fought these wars.

 “This year is the 50th anniversary of (Dwight) Eisenhower’s military-industrial complex speech,” William Hartung of the Center for International Policy told me while the Senate assembled to vote on the debt-ceiling bill. Speaking of the late general turned Republican U.S. president, Hartung said: “He talked about the need for a balanced economy, for a healthy population. Essentially, he’s to the left of Barack Obama on these issues.”

Michael Hudson, president of the Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends, explained the history of the debt ceiling’s connection to war:

 “It was put in in 1917 during World War I, and the idea was to prevent President Wilson from committing even more American troops and money to war. In every country of Europe – England, France – the parliamentary control over the budget was introduced to stop ambitious kings or rulers from waging wars. So the whole purpose was to limit a government’s ability to run into debt for war, because that was the only reason that governments ran into debt.”

 The Budget Control Act of 2011 assures drastic cuts to the U.S. social safety net. Congress will appoint a committee of 12, dubbed the “Super Congress,” evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, to identify $1.2 trillion in cuts by Thanksgiving.

If the committee of 12 fails to meet that goal, sweeping, mandatory, across-the-board cuts are mandated. Social services would get cut, but so would the Pentagon.

 Or would it? The Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Progressive Caucus opposed the bill. Congressional Black Caucus chair Emanuel Cleaver called it “a sugarcoated Satan sandwich.” For fiscal years 2012 and 2013, the discretionary funding approved is split between “security” and “nonsecurity” categories. “Nonsecurity” categories like food programs, housing, Medicare and Medicaid (the basis of any genuine national security) will most likely be cut. But the “security” budget will get hit equally hard, which Democrats suggest would be an incentive for Republicans to cooperate with the process.

The security category includes “Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Nuclear Security Administration, the intelligence community (and) international affairs.” This sets up a dynamic where hawks will be trying to cut as much as possible from the State Department’s diplomatic corps and foreign aid, in order to favor their patrons at the Pentagon and in the weapons industry.

 Hartung explained that the contractors, in addition to having the support of Speaker of the House John Boehner, “had Buck McKeon, the head of the House Armed Services Committee, whose biggest contributor is Lockheed Martin, who’s got big military facilities in his district, (and) Randy Forbes, whose district is near the Newport News Shipbuilding complex, which builds attack submarines and aircraft carriers. They used their influence to get people on the inside, their allies in the House, to push their agenda.”

 President Obama’s debt-ceiling deal is widely considered a historic defeat for progressives, a successful attack on the New Deal and Great Society achievements of the past century. Congresswoman Donna Edwards, D-Md., summed up the disappointment, in which half the Democrats in the House voted against their president, tweeting: “Nada from million/billionaires; corp tax loopholes aplenty; only sacrifice from the poor/middle class? Shared sacrifice, balance? Really?”

 The Project on Government Oversight says of the “Super Congress” that “the creation of the committee doesn’t come with many requirements for transparency.” Who will be the watchdog? With the 2012 election coming up, promising to be the most expensive ever, expect the committee’s deficit-reduction proposal, due by Thanksgiving and subject to an up-or-down vote, to have very little to give thanks for.

Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column. Amy Goodman is the host of “Democracy Now!”

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After Chopper Deaths, Taliban Claims New Weapon


Drone killings make locals loathe occupiers, boost Taliban

by Jeremy Sapienza

Wardak province isn’t a friendly one for foreign troops: the locals loathe the foreign presence and credit the the brutal drone attacks that often kill civilians for the Taliban’s popularity. This past Saturday in the province, the Taliban shot down a helicopter and killed 30 US troops, a translator, and seven Afghan troops on their way to reinforce other troops under fire in a nearby position.

Now the Taliban is claiming a new weapon against the occupying forces’ helicopters, which if true, says a security expert, “would be a game changer.”

Chinooks are said to be “vital and vulnerable” — their troop-ferrying capacity is large, but they are slow, easy targets when they are taking off or landing. Like the Soviet occupation in the 80s, the American one, also based on air power, could be crippled if insurgents find a silver bullet.

And civilian populations seem to support the insurgency; America’s drone-bombing campaign kills many civilians and sows hatred, McClatchy reports.

“The Americans are committing barbaric acts in the area and this is the reason that the Taliban have influence,” a local doctor said.

Nearly 150 NATO troops have been killed in helicopter crashes and shootdowns since the 2001 invasion, some 100 of whom have been American.

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Who Inspired Anders Breivik?


The evidence is in

Justin Raimundo

In the wake of the horrific   Oslo bombing and subsequent mass murder at a Norwegian Labor party youth  camp, the ideological motivation of Anders Behring Breivik has come  under some very close scrutiny, and a debate is in progress about how  much the anti-Muslim bloggers who supposedly inspired the killer have  to take responsibility. Robert Spencer, an associate of David Horowitz and hismisnamed “Freedom Center,” has come under the media microscope,  along with Pamela “Shrieking Harpy” Geller – who used the killings  as an opportunity to promote her new book – and in particular the “Gates of Vienna” (GoV) blog, which published many essays by the  now-infamous blogger known as “Fjordman.” All of these charming  folks were cited in Breivik’s manifesto [.pdf], which was released hours  before the crime.

Naturally, the GoV types have  have been jumping up and down in a frenzy of denial and refuse to take  any responsibility for Breivik. SpencerGeller, and “Baron Bodissey,” proprietor of GoV, are all now crying “persecution” over the media  frenzy surrounding their ideas and activities, and denouncing the whole  thing as a plot to discredit “freedom fighters” like themselves.  Do they have a point?

In spite of the fact that my previous columns on the Norway massacre clearly assigned them their share  of guilt in this matter, I thought it best to reexamine the issue in  light of their vigorous denials, especially in view of their argument  that most of their accusers hadn’t even read their various essays  and blog posts and are unfamiliar with the various web sites cited numerous  times by Breivik’s cobbled together “manifesto.”

Okay, I thought, let’s give  them the benefit of a doubt. After all, although I am – unfortunately – all too familiar with the web sites of both Geller and Horowitz,  I hadn’t done anything but skim the contents of “Gates of Vienna,” which is co-published by a couple in Fairfax, Virginia. So I went to  the site, and the top  post was indeed  a plea for reason in an atmosphere of hysteria:

“Non-violent  people who support lefty causes are not required to denounce or repudiate  those who commit violence on behalf of causes they share. Nobody ever  blames them for inspiring the violence. They are not described in the  popular press as “indirectly responsible” for it.”And that’s because they aren’t. Nobody who sincerely opposes  violence and works for change solely through peaceful means is responsible  for violence committed in the name of a cause they otherwise support.”Only people who advocate, promote, incite, or commit violence are  responsible for that violence. Period.”

A different  standard, however, applies to conservatives, says “Baron Bodissey.” So  answering the charges being hurled by “the left” is “a  mug’s game,” and the Baron “refuses to participate,” as should  all “counter-jihadists.”

I absolutely  agree that “only those who advocate, promote, incite, or commit violence  are responsible for that violence.” The critics of the “counter-jihadists” have argued, however, that the ideas advocated and promoted by such  sites as GoV are inherently violent, and, furthermore, that is  their intent. Or, as I put it in one of my columns, “Spencer  and Geller are the theory, Breivik is the practice.” But is this argument  really fair? After all, libertarianism says that all governments everywhere  are nothing less (or more) than criminal gangs, the enemies of freedom  and progress – and so, given this premise, isn’t libertarianism  the theory, and, say, Tim McVeigh the practice?

When it is  put like that, the question is a real clarifier: after all, as Gore  Vidal showed in his essay on McVeigh, the perpetrator of the Oklahoma  City bombing, which killed and maimed innocent people, was an opponent  of Big Government with decidedly libertarian leanings. So aren’t libertarians  responsible, in some sense, for the death and destruction he wreaked?

Well, no – because no libertarian with any standing has ever advocated violence  against the State. Instead, libertarians have sought to educate the  publicrun for office, and engage in constitutionally protected peaceful activities to promote their ideas. At the time, libertarians  answered attacks by the left (and others) by pointing this out, to little  avail. President Bill Clinton and his supporters in the Democratic party  went out of their way to demonize anyone who could be tagged as “anti-government’ to smear their political opponents. I even wrote a pamphlet attacking  this propaganda campaign, and trying to set the record straight. So  I can sympathize, at least to some extent, with a similar effort on  the part of sincere “counter-jihadists” to separate themselves from  a clearly deranged “comrade” gone astray. So I continued to read  the post at GoV, which invited me to discover the truth for myself:

“I realize  that asking people not to believe what they read in the papers is like  asking sheep not to eat grass. But here goes… ”Many of you have been pointed to this “hate blog” by various media sources. Your newspapers and TV outlets  have described what we are all about, and have told you what you must  think of us. Then they sent you here so that you could gaze at the monster  yourself.”But now that you are actually here, you don’t have to take their  word for it. You can read it for yourself. Check out the links on the  sidebar …”

Okay, so I  did just that – and what did I find?

I found, prominently  displayed, “On  Vigilantism, Part I,” an essay by someone who calls himself (herself?) “El Inglés,” dated  April 5, 2010. It starts out with an amazingly accurate prediction:

I  have argued in an earlier series of essays, appropriately titled ‘On the Failure of Law Enforcement’, that the law enforcement institutions  of European countries faced with ever-larger Muslim populations are  incapable, in a deep, structural sense, of  adequately addressing the criminality of those populations while they  continue to operate under extant paradigms. If this conclusion is accepted,  then one arrives without particular difficulty at a further conclusion:  that vigilante activity is likely to emerge in response. This being  the case, I propose to present in this essay a speculative initial analysis  of the likely characteristics of the vigilantes and vigilantism that  will soon be seen in Europe as a consequence of pressures we are all  too familiar with.”

How interesting: Breivik’s  inspirers anticipated his actions, on some level, and wrote about it  a full year before they occurred. However, what I thought would be a  polemic against vigilantism turned out to be anything but.

Instead, what followed was,  as the subtitle put it, an examination of “strategic options, realistic  and unrealistic.” The author argues that one could engage in mass  violence aimed at, say, “Somali gang members in the UK” but this  would have certain disadvantages in the absence of “a complete breakdown  of civil order.” The “apparatus of state” – which is depicted as  unwilling to “enforce the law with respect to criminal minorities”  – is the major obstacle (and major enemy) of would-be anti-Muslim  vigilantes, and given this kind of powerful adversary, “El Inglés” asks, “what  objectives are serious vigilantes likely to set themselves?”

The chilling  answer is clear enough. The author lists several “realistic” objectives  that vigilantes might achieve, first being a modification of the State’s  response (or lack of it) to alleged “Muslim criminals”:

“Altering  the response of the apparatus of state to Muslim crime may well emerge  as one of the most obvious motivations for vigilante activity. If one  is concerned about Somali drug-dealing and the lack of effective response  by the state, then executing a few Somali drug-dealers and then calling  a national newspaper with a) the justification for the killing and b)  the calibre of the handgun used in the executions (for purposes of establishing  one’s identity) will be likely to focus a certain amount of attention  on the problem. Governments seem to be very good at pretending that  certain types of crime do not exist apart from in the imaginations of  bigots and meanies like the current author, but there are undoubtedly  ways of suggesting the opposite that will be difficult for them to ignore.”

Scary, yes, but it gets scarier.  Another “realistic” objective of anti-Muslim vigilantes is “polarization”:

I  have argued in past essays that it is extremely unlikely that extant  political elites and mainstream political parties will be up to the  task of dealing with the existential problems Islam and Muslims pose  to Europe. If this argument proves to be correct, then it is highly  probable that non-state actors will emerge who believe they can do so.  Should such an organization exist in embryonic form in some European  country (and if they do not, they soon will), then polarizing the situation  beyond the point of repair and trying to force a confrontation while  the demographic situation favours natives to the greatest extent possible  may come to be seen as a valid objective.”

Like the ultra-left  of the 1960s, in both the US and Europe, the ultra-rightists of the  new millennium want their violence to signify the advent of a Manichean  struggle of Good vs. Evil. They want to force the attention of the sleeping  West on the “problem” of Islam by shocking them out of their torpor  before it’s too late. Like the Narodniks of Tsarist Russia, or the Weathermen of Nixon’s America, they hope their violence will produce  a crisis in which the old regime will be toppled – and they’ll come  out on top.

This is an  old story: extreme ideologists have often resorted to this strategy,  with predictably disastrous results, both for them and for their innocent  victims. However, what’s new about this particular story is that a  blogger on GoV, well in advance of Breivik’s monstrous act, predicted  with near absolute certainty that organizations such as Breivik’s “Knights Templar” would spring up and commit “polarizing” crimes.  Not only that, but they would do so in the context of Breivik’s insistencethat time is not on the counter-jihadists’ side, and that a demographic  time bomb is about to go off – if bombs like the one Breivik planted  didn’t detonate first.

I have no doubt  that Norwegian law enforcement, if and when they become aware of this  particular blog post on GoV, would be very interested to learn the author’s  identity. For it certainly seems that if anyone had a clue as to the  existence of Breivik’s plot before he went on his rampage, then surely “El Inglés” is a prime suspect.

It gets more  blood-curdling as one wades through the miasma of hate and eagerly-anticipated  violence, especially as the author’s style tries to mimic the “objective” prose of a scientific study or scholarly research paper. Thus the most  disturbingly violent acts are examined, one by one, as “tactical options – suicidal and homicidal.” They include, in order of escalating  violence, “warnings” – “Of course, in the absence of a willingness  to resort to the other options we will consider below, this will be  a hollow threat indeed” – “property damage,” “beatings/maimings,” and  “executions.”

The author’s  advice to would-be vigilantes engaged in damaging the property of Muslim “criminals” in their midst is to “pick one’s target well.” The first rule of vigilantism, Gates of Vienna-style, is don’t pick  on anyone likely to fight back: “The objective of vigilante behaviour  is to prevent repetitions of the undesirable behaviour,” but

“Smashing  the windscreen of the neighbourhood [presumably Muslim] drug lord is likely to have slightly different  effects, as a drug lord is a) unlikely to mend his wicked ways over  a broken windscreen, and b) very likely to search out the vigilante(s)  in question and seek redress for the damage to his vehicle.”

Beatings and  maimings, in the view of the author, are much more likely to advance  the vigilante’s goals and the counter-jihadist cause. “El Inglés” cites the example of the IRA, which “kneecapped” “serious criminals  and recidivists” in areas where they were strong. However, the big  problem was that they existed in those communities on the sufferance  of local residents: “Brutality cannot be inflicted arbitrarily on  the members of a community whose favour one needs.”

Fortunately,  in the author’s view, such brutality can be inflicted arbitrarily  on Muslim immigrants, who can be separated out from the general population:

“In contrast,  any group of European vigilantes intent on taking the law into their  own hands vis-à-vis Muslim crime would not suffer this restriction.  Exceptional brutality will always have the potential to repel supporters  and potential supporters, but it stands to reason that vigilantes in,  say, Denmark, visiting impromptu justice on Arab street thugs in Copenhagen  will have a much higher threshold of violence they have to cross before  such revulsion starts to work against them. Indeed, everyday Danes tired  of the Muslim crime now contaminating their country may  well look to such people as their saviours, affording them support of  various types. This will open up the potential for exceptional  violence.”

One doesn’t  have to interpret this, because there is no doubt where the author – and the editors of Gates of Vienna, who have published dozens of similar  essays by “El Inglés” – stand. They seek to advance the threshold  of violence, step by step, from the street thuggery of the English Defense  League to the “exceptional violence” epitomized by Breivik’s mass  execution of “traitors.” Speaking of which, the final “tactical  option” entertained by “El Inglés” is, indeed, “executions.”

I know, this  is gross, but bear with me a bit longer.

After a few  preliminaries about the ineffectiveness of dealing with Muslim “criminals” in nonviolent ways, the author concludes

“The efficacy  of non-lethal violence in persuading these people to behave themselves  in a more civilized manner is likely to be close to be zero. This leaves  vigilantes with only one obvious option, which is to kill off the people  in question. This will have the twin effects of a) making it impossible  for them to engage in further crime, and b) creating at least some possibility  that others like them might decide on a change of career.”

Let us stop,  here, catch our breath, and note how this fits in with the tactics employed  by Breivik: he chose as a target a youth camp run by the ruling Norwegian  Labor party, which he considers a party of Quislings. The camp was traditionally  attended by the most promising of the Labor Party’s future leaders:  in planning his atrocity, did Breivik hope such an act might make others  like them “decide on a change of career”? I’d be unsurprised to  learn that this particular passage inspired Breivik in his choice of  targets, but, in any case, it looks very much like the folks at Gates  of Vienna and Breivik are on exactly the same wavelength.

What is shocking  about the writing of “El Inglés” is the supremely casual, cold-blooded  way in which the most violent acts are discussed: it is a terrorist  tract written in the style of the directions on a box of Stovetop Stuffing.  Executions are “the nuclear option for vigilantes,” avers “El  Inglés,” but

This  should not be taken to imply that it will be a last resort for anti-Muslim  vigilantes. It seems likely that any serious would-be vigilante  will think his options through carefully enough in advance to realize  that certain types of action are likely to be ineffective. Those who  think that knocking on the door of the local Pakistani heroin-dealer’s  door and advising him to see the error of his ways will constitute effective  vigilante action will not last long enough to have much of an effect  on the proceedings either way. People of good faith can only hope that  such folk recognize their lack of suitability for vigilante action in  advance, and support the struggle against the Islamization of their  countries in other ways.”

If you aren’t  a warrior, like the author, or Breivik, then don’t bother with half-way  measures. To the Gates of Vienna crowd, why should murder – even mass  murder of children – be a last resort, when the future of Europe is  at stake? It was Breivik’s first resort: in spite of his statements  about how he wasmaneuvered out of running for office on the Progress  Party ticket – an anti-immigrant, anti-libertarian grouping – news  reports have him only attending five or six meetings of the party’s  youth group, where he is barely remembered.

This essay  by “El Inglés” seems to be an eerie premonition of Breivik’s  murderous crime, not as a warning but as an encouragement. And it gets  eerier as we progress through the morass of hateful verbiage, in its  presentiment of Breivik’s meticulous preparations – particularly  when it comes to his manifesto, released hours prior to the massacre,  and accompanying video.

In the third  and final section of his essay, entitled “Image is Everything,”  “El Inglés” advises the potential anti-Muslim terrorist that “The  likely importance of a good PR campaign to serious vigilantes cannot  be overestimated.” Don’t beat, maim, and murder without issuing “a robust, well-argued, and entirely unapologetic presentation of  the vigilante case against both the disproportionate criminality of  Muslims and the neglect of the issue by the government.”

Breivik surely  took this lesson to heart, supposedly spending years compiling his manifesto.  At 1,500-plus pages it is certainly “robust,” although I don’t  know how one could call it well-argued: its theme of imminent Muslim  victory over the West is simply asserted. It is, however, certainly  as unapologetic as its author. Breivik clearly hoped his manifesto would  give him the kind of good public relations envisioned by “El Inglés” as entirely possible:

“If the  actions of vigilantes can successfully be presented as mindless acts  of tribally-motivated violence, then the response of the apparatus of  state will simply be to crack down on them with its full resources.  If, on the other hand, they can effectively engage in counter-PR, then  everything will change.”

Here is where  Breivik – and “El Inglés” – miscalculated. The response to  Breivik’s heinous act has been near-universal revulsion, a reaction  that has only been heightened by his vigorous efforts to justify it.  But when you’re so trapped inside a self-constructed ideological box  that you can’t see any moral problem in beating, maiming, and murdering  people, then your mental processes soon go the way of your long-lost  moral sense.

Nothing underscores  this better than the bizarre manner in which “El Inglés” illustrates  his point by positing two different hypothetical examples of anti-Muslim  terrorist acts. Both involve storming and taking a house of prostitution  run by Pakistani pimps, who are holding British girls in white slavery  on British soil:

“Both  groups pick the same house, storm it in identical fashion, kill exactly  the same people in exactly the same way, and make a successful getaway.  Here though, they part company. Group A, in response to the consequent  furore and police investigation, issue a video statement to the effect  that all Pakistanis are scum and have to be destroyed. Government and  police officials are quietly delighted. … [T]hey pull out all the stops in pursuing the vigilantes. Soon thereafter,  an acquaintance of one of the vigilantes who has had some doubts about  said vigilante and his respect for the law contacts the police with  his concerns. The police devote themselves to this new lead and eventually  convict the members of the group for murder and other crimes.”

Obviously not the “professional” way to go about executing one’s  political enemies, now is it? Ah, but Group B – now these guys  are real pros all the way:

“Group  B, in contrast, is much more thoughtful than Group A about how exactly  it should present itself and its activities to the world. Its members  wait for a week after the killings, observing the debate, seeing what  is said about them, about the probable motivations for their actions,  and their probable identities. Throughout this  week, they are putting the final touches to an official statement, a  lengthy explanation and justification of their actions. The statement  is burnt onto a number of CDs, and copies are sent to every major newspaper  in the country, all major TV channels, the local police force, the BBC,  the Home Office, and Scotland Yard. The content of the statement is  as follows…”

What follows is a detailed  list of the appropriate contents for a manifesto such as was written  and compiled by Breivik, calling for a “general description of the criminality  and dysfunctionality” of Muslims in Europe, “including analysis  of their crime and incarceration rates (both disproportionately high),  their seditious and terrorist tendencies, and  social pathologies….” Also recommended: “A description of the repeated, consistent, and  long term attempts of politicians, journalists, and police officers  to deny there was a problem.” Also required: “A declaration to the  effect that the current unofficial tolerance” of Muslim subversion “will no longer be endured.” In short, this reads like a summary  of Breivik’s manifesto [.pdf], entitled “2083: A European Declaration of  Independence.”

I won’t dwell on the horrific  rhetoric and “strategic” prescriptions of “El Inglés” much  longer, except to say this is pretty conclusive evidence of the complicity  of “counter-jihadists” in Breivik’s crime, and not just in the  indirect sense. The positively spooky conjuring of some group of anti-Muslim “vigilantes” who will come into existence “soon” is no doubt  something the Norwegian (and British) authorities will want to investigate:  if they haven’t already interviewed the editors of the Gates of Vienna,  my guess is they soon will.

I would also note that, in  the comments section to “On Vigilantism, Part I,” the very first  comment is by the now infamous blogger known as “Fjordman,” who  was rumored to be somehow involved, and has since revealed his true  identity and gone into hiding. Does he condemn the casual references  to beating, maiming, and killing? Not at all. Instead he writes:

“A thought-provoking  essay from Inglés, as usual. May I also suggest that we cultivate a  form of pan-European ethnic solidarity when it comes to stopping and  reversing Third World immigration and removing the Globalist traitor  class. Perhaps we can call it “white Zionism.” Since European  group solidarity appears to be what the powers-that-be fear the most,  perhaps that’s what we should give them.”An initial step might be boycotting the World Cup in South Africa,  in response to the ongoing slaughter of whites there.”

No one on that  thread raised any objections, either: there was some discussion of the  value of “random bombings” of mosques, and various other targets.  The last comment was a simple question:

“Where  is Part Two, Inglès??”

There is no “Part Two” posted on Gates of Vienna – unless, of course, it is  the news of Breivik’s massacre.

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Junta, Parties Fume as US Millions Bankroll Egypt NGOs


US Envoy Says Mass Grants ‘Will Serve as a Model’ for Other Nations

With Egypt’s first post-Mubarak elections drawing ever closer, both the nation’s interim military junta and opposition political leaders are expressing growing disquiet about the massive amounts of US grants being provided to key NGOs across the nation.

Reports have the US already committing some $200 million in grants to “assist with their participation in the political life of the country.” Many see this as an attempt by the US to buy the election or at least to exert undue influence on it.

US Ambassador Ann Patterson has defended the moves, saying that they “will serve as a model for the rest of he Arab world,” but it is not just the junta complaining. Reports have both Islamist and liberal factions complaining that the junta should ensure that the first “free elections” in the nation’s history be free of foreign intervention.

Faced with the complaints, the junta has set up a committee to investigate the funding as well as ordering all banks to keep on eye on a list of NGOs and would-be political movements known to have asked USAID for funds, eager to see which are being granted a bankroll and what impact it might have on the vote.

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Abu Ghraib abuse Racist Ringleader Released


Racist Charles Graner Jr set free after serving six and a half years of a 10-year sentence.

The convicted ringleader of detainee abuses at Abu Ghraib has been released from a US military prison, an army spokeswoman said.

Racist Charles Graner Jr was released on Saturday from the US Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, after serving more than six and a half years of a 10-year sentence, spokeswoman Rebecca Steed said.

Racist Graner, 42, will be under the supervision of a probation officer until December 25, 2014, she said.

Steed said she could not release any information about Graner’s whereabouts or his destination after release. Graner’s wife was a fellow Abu Ghraib defendant.

Racist Graner was an Army Reserve corporal when he and six other members of the Maryland-based 372nd Military Police Company were charged in 2004 with abusing detainees at the prison in Iraq.

The strongest evidence was photographs of grinning US soldiers posing beside naked detainees stacked in a pyramid or held on a leash.

The pictures complicated international relations for the US and provoked debate about whether harsh interrogation techniques approved by the Pentagon amounted to torture.

Ex-prison guard

Racist Graner was convicted of offenses that included stacking the prisoners into a pyramid, knocking one of them out with a head punch and ordering prisoners to masturbate while soldiers took pictures.

He maintained that the actions were part of a plan directed by military intelligence officers to soften up prisoners for interrogation.

Racist Graner is the last Abu Ghraib defendant to be released from prison and received the longest sentence.

Steed said Graner’s obligation to the military ends at the end of 2014. Until then, his supervised release could be suspended.

She said Graner, who was a civilian correctional officer, was released before serving his maximum sentence under rules that include days off for good behaviour.

The spokeswoman said Graner had lost some good conduct time for institutional rule infractions while incarcerated, but did not provide details.

Eleven convictions

During his deployment, Racist Graner fathered a son with former Army Private Lynndie England. England was given a three-year sentence for her role in the scandal.

After his conviction, Racist Graner married another member of his unit, former Specialist Megan Ambuhl.

Ambuhl. was discharged from the army after pleading guilty to dereliction of duty for failing to prevent or report the maltreatment.

Seven guards and four other low-ranking soldiers were convicted of crimes at Abu Ghraib.

Former army prosecutor Christopher Graveline portrayed Racist Graner in his 2010 book, “The Secrets of Abu Ghraib Revealed”, as a manipulative bully with the bad-boy charm to draw others into his sadistic games.

Lawyer Charles W Gittins, who represented Graner in an appeal to the military’s highest court last year, described Graner in court as “a political prisoner of the failed United States Iraq policy and unnecessary

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WikiLeaks Cables Show US Strategy for Regime Change in Syria as Protesters are Massacred


By Kevin Gosztola

 In the aftermath of a massacre in Hama, Syria state media broadcasted images of “burnt, buildings, makeshift barricades and deserted streets strewn with rubble,” according to the New York Times and claimed the revolt in Syria has ended. Meanwhile, The Guardian reports tens of thousands have taken to the streets all over the country and are continuing a five-months old uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke at a press conference and said the Syrian government has killed more than 2,000 people in its brutal crackdown on protests in the past months. She told the press the US was extending sanctions against a “prominent businessman and MP,” who allegedly has close ties to Assad. This marked the “fourth round of US sanctions against Syria aimed at pressuring Assad’s government to ease its bloody crackdown against unarmed protesters,” according to The Guardian. However, numerous Syrian protesters and some US senators are dissatisfied, as the sanctions do not target Syria’s oil and gas sector.

As protests continue and the brutal crackdown on protests wears on, US State Embassy cables released by the media organization WikiLeaks provide a greater understanding of the Washington power politics that have led to this moment.

For the past five to six years, the US policy toward Syria has used what could be called a two-pronged strategy to push for regime change. The US has supported “civil society” activists or external opposition organizations. It has also worked to delegitimize, destabilize and isolate the country through the application of sanctions and various other measures, which could be applied to exploit vulnerabilities.

A cable from December 13, 2006, opens with the conclusion that the Syrian government has ended 2006 “in a position much stronger domestically and internationally than it did [in] 2005.” It features a collection of possible actions that could be taken to undermine the Assad regime.

The vulnerabilities listed include: the Rafiq Hariri investigation and tribunal (Hariri was a Lebanese Prime Minister who was assassinated in a major car bombing); the alliance with Tehran; the regime’s “inner circle”; divisions in the military-security services; the corrupt Baathist elites; previous failures of reform; the economy; the Kurds; extremists and the “Khaddam factor” (Abdul Halim Khaddam is an exiled former Syrian Vice President, whose name appears in a number of the cables released thus far.)

Some of the proposed actions for exploiting these vulnerabilities are outlined in the cable:

The regime is intensely sensitive to rumors about coup-plotting and restlessness in the security services and military.  Regional allies like Egypt and Saudi Arabia should be encouraged to meet with figures like Khaddam and Rifat Asad as a way of sending such signals, with appropriate leaking of the meetings afterwards.  This again touches on this insular regime,s paranoia and increases the possibility of a self-defeating over-reaction.


…We should continue to encourage the Saudis and others to allow Khaddam access to their media outlets, providing him with venues for airing the SARG,s dirty laundry.  We should anticipate an overreaction by the regime that will add to its isolation and alienation from its Arab neighbors…

HIGHLIGHT KURDISH COMPLAINTS: Highlighting Kurdish complaints in public statements, including publicizing human rights abuses will exacerbate regime,s concerns about the Kurdish population.  Focus on economic hardship in Kurdish areas and the SARG,s long-standing refusal to offer citizenship to some 200,000 stateless Kurds.  This issue would need to be handled carefully, since giving the wrong kind of prominence to Kurdish issues in Syria could be a liability for our efforts at uniting the opposition, given Syrian (mostly Arab) civil society’s skepticism of Kurdish objectives.

PLAY ON SUNNI FEARS OF IRANIAN INFLUENCE:  There are fears in Syria that the Iranians are active in both Shia proselytizing and conversion of, mostly poor, Sunnis.  Though often exaggerated, such fears reflect an element of the Sunni community in Syria that is increasingly upset by and focused on the spread of Iranian influence in their country through activities ranging from mosque construction to business. Both the local Egyptian and Saudi missions here, (as well as prominent Syrian Sunni religious leaders), are giving increasing attention to the matter and we should coordinate more closely with their governments on ways to better publicize and focus regional attention on the issue.

This is clearly manipulative and underhanded. It shouldn’t be surprising that the Assad regime would want to crack down violently on any protests. The shadiness of US relations with Syria is only amplified if you look at the other aspect of the US push for regime change: the public funding of opposition groups.

The US Doesn’t Undermine Countries, It Transforms Them

In April, the Washington Post reported on the funding of opposition groups revealed in the cables and highlighted a group called the Movement for Justice and Development (MJD). It noted it was closely affiliated with the London-based satellite channel Barada TV, which started broadcasting in April 2009 but “ramped up operations to cover the mass protests in Syria.” The cables showed “as much as $6 million” had been “funneled” to the group “since 2006 to operate the satellite channel and finance other activities inside Syria.”

A cable from March 11, 2009, shows why the US might want to work with the MJD:

MJD’s effort to expand its base in Syria is noteworthy in that it is a moderate Islamist organization that publicly eschews any ideological agenda aside from ending the Asad regime through democratic reform. XXXXXXXXXXXX That said, we have heard numerous unconfirmed rumors by very nervous democracy-reform advocates that the SARG may have penetrated the MJD. XXXXXXXXXXXX MJD’s role in organizing an opposition television platform for broadcasting into Syria would make it a high priority target for Syria’s security services.
At the time that the cable was written, the group had been banned from Syria. But, that didn’t hurt the allure of cooperating with such a group to bring “democratic change” to Syria.

According to the cable, the group “doesn’t believe in Sharia law.”  Throughout 2008, it “participated in symposiums” in Europe in the United States. It is a member of the Damascus Declaration, a unity statement made by Syrian opposition in 2005 that called the Assad regime, “authoritarian, totalitarian and cliquish,` and called for peaceful reform through dialogue. They did not have a cooperative relationship with the Muslim Brotherhood. And they were working with the Middle East Partnership Initiative, run by the US State Department, on a satellite channel that the Ford Foundation was allegedly helping to finance.

It is unclear how much of a role the MJD has had in the current protests in Syria, especially since they were mostly a group of exiles in 2009, however, the National Salvation Front of Syria founded by Khaddam has been organizing support for the Syrian opposition. Through conferences held in Istanbul, Turkey and lobbying efforts, which have been aimed at getting the US to impose greater sanctions on Syria, this group has been working to keep the opposition from being entirely crushed by Assad’s regime.

Syrian Dissident Unhappy with US Foreign Policy

While the Arab Spring has been viewed as a spontaneous moment in history that spurred a domino effect leading multiple populations in the Middle East and North Africa to mount uprisings against repressive dictatorial regimes, the cables show that opposition had been looking for the right moment to topple Assad for at least the past five years. But, US diplomatic efforts to undercut Assad only hurt the opposition the US was claiming to support.

As the Syrian government became aware of US funding of non-governmental organizations and opposition groups, the regime only turned more repressive. A figure in Syria, whose name is redacted from a cable sent out on November 25, 2008, criticized the US policy saying it had “united Islamist nationalists and secular Arab nationalists,” exactly what the US had not planned. And, Syrian opposition chided US foreign policy.

XXXXXXXXXXXX expressed disappointment that the U.S. has driven Syria in a direction not good for the country, but very good for the regime.  The regime senses that the U.S. has played its hand very badly, using its war on terror in a counterproductive way.  Instead of isolating the Islamists and creating the kind of dynamic social ferment and gradual upheaval that was evident in the USSR and Eastern Europe in the mid- and late-1980′s, the U.S. has created conditions that have united, in Syria at least, Islamist nationalists and secular Arab nationalists.  According to XXXXXXXXXXXX , the U.S. has succeeded in making Syria a hero in the Islamic world.  U.S. support for the opposition has not been effective  The fact that Ba’ath Party thugs, with some security services support, could beat up a group of opposition activists, intellectuals, and cultural figures peacefully protesting the continuation of Emergency Law was a far more important signal than the USD five million that the U.S. set aside to support the opposition, noted XXXXXXXXXXXX
It’s Not “Regime Change” But Rather “Behavior Reform”

It is clear the Bush Administration was committed to bringing about regime change. Under President Barack Obama, it appears the US has not fully committed to the same of kind of destabilization efforts. The Obama Administration appears to have instead adopted a policy that is indicative of the sort of American exceptionalism rife within the Washington establishment.

On April 28, 2009, a cable describing a “new policy front” was sent out. US Chargé d’Affaires ad interim to Syria Maura Connelly suggested the “primary Syrian external opposition organization” had completely collapsed. Thus, the suggestion was put forth that the US do less work trying to foster “regime change” and more toward “encouraging ‘behavior reform.’”

…The U.S. attempt to politically isolate the SARG raised stumbling blocks to direct Embassy involvement in civil society programming. As a result, the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) and the Bureau of Human Rights and Labor (DRL) took the lead in identifying and funding civil society and human rights projects. Though the Embassy has had direct input on a few of these efforts, especially with DRL, most of the programming has proceeded without direct Embassy involvement…
The cable lists off Freedom House, American Bar Association, American University, Internews and work done by MEPI with the Aspen Strategic Initiative Institute, Democracy Council of California, Regents of the University of New Mexico and the International Republican Institute (IRI). It highlighted how the most sensitive MEPI-sponsored programs are funded and noted the Syria government would “view any US funds going to illegal political groups as tantamount to supporting regime change.”

It suggests concerns Syria could address if it wanted to be seen in a more positive light. This aspect of the US “behavior reform” strategy appears to be rather consistent with the rhetoric of the State Department during the current uprising. Then, Connelly wrote:

…Action on any one of the following five concerns might shift the SARG’s image into a more positive light. (1) The release of specific imprisoned high-profile civil society and human rights activists; (2) credible movement to resolve the citizenship status of stateless Kurds; (3) loosening media restrictions, including Internet censorship; (4) lifting travel bans on Syrian citizens; and (5) following up on promises to establish a “Senate” that would create a legislative space for opposition politicians to work in…
Finally, the cable on this Orwellian-sounding policy of “behavior reform” suggests further Americanization or Westernization could possibly help achieve US goals in Syria as well (like exporting more KFCs and Gap stores).

Sanctions Help Regime Control Political Opinion

Publicly, the State Department has claimed it is pressing a “message” both to Assad, his regime and to American partners that “the time for democratic change is already underway in Syria.” They have consistently indicated support for the protesters right to “peacefully assemble” (a phrase that each time uttered by a State Department spokesperson becomes even more meaningless).

They have proposed further sanctions, however, cables released by WikiLeaks indicate opposition groups have seen few benefits from sanctions. A cable from November 25, 2008, featuring the views of a Syrian dissident, suggests sanctions have been an easy justification for stifling political organizing in Syria:

Like many Syrians we have met, XXXXXXXXXXXX, XXXXXXXXXXXX, and XXXXXXXXXXXXi decried the U.S. sanctions against Syria as hurting the Syrian people more than anyone else. XXXXXXXXXXXX argued the sanctions had become a tool for controlling popular opinion in the SARG’s hands. The Asad regime held up the sanctions as an example of how the West opposed the people of Syria, thereby reinforcing the idea that Asad and the Ba’ath Party  alone had the Syrian people’s interests at heart, XXXXXXXXXXXX said.
XXXXXXXXXXXX added that the West demanded reform, but it actually prefered an Asad regime to an alternative government, primarily because the West feared any alternative would be Islamist and/or violent, or simply would not willingly follow the policies of the West. He argued the West was afraid of a fully democratic country anywhere in the Middle East. Both, who spent five years in prison for his role in the Damascus Spring and is now involved with the Damascus Declaration, and XXXXXXXXXXXX, who is XXXXXXXXXXXX’s lawyer and the president of the XXXXXXXXXXXX, echoed XXXXXXXXXXXX’s sentiments in their own comments.  XXXXXXXXXXXX argued the “regime always uses this relationship with the West to project an image of importance…It allows him  (Asad) to tell people: ‘see, I’m needed and the West isn’t interested in these (human rights) issues.’”

“We Cannot Stand Idly By When a Tyrant Tells His People That There Will Be No Mercy”

If one reads these cables and draws the conclusion that the US bears some responsibility for egging Assad on, then it appears the US might have an obligation to launch a “humanitarian intervention” into Syria, perhaps, one like the “humanitarian intervention” that continues to wear on Libya.

Recall, the American people were told we had a kind of moral duty to intervene in Libya. President Barack Obama declared on March 19:

I am deeply aware of the risks of any military action, no matter what limits we place on it.  I want the American people to know that the use of force is not our first choice and it’s not a choice that I make lightly.  But we cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy, and his forces step up their assaults on cities like Benghazi and Misurata, where innocent men and women face brutality and death at the hands of their own government.
More than 2,000 have died as a result of a “tyrant.” It certainly seems like the Assad regime has adopted a policy of “no mercy.” Yet, the Obama administration has yet to forcefullu call for Assad to step down.

As with Mubarak and President Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen, the administration supports “a transition” and hopes the dictator, who is actively brutalizing his people, will relinquish control voluntarily and step down. They seem to think they can through words and sanctions impose “behavior reform.” And so, there has not been, to use another Orwellian-sounding term, any indication that a “kinetic military action” will be launched.

That is not to say that the US should be arming any Syrian rebels. The rebels the US has supported (and possibly armed) are now dealing with “tribal hostilities” within their ranks, meaning they are now assassinating and killing one another.

What this shows is US diplomacy, which has included funding Syrian opposition groups and covertly supporting actions that could advance regime change in Syria, is a toxic elixir that not only has failed to give the opposition the support it needs to topple Assad but has also significantly influenced the regime’s decision to unleash its military and security forces on the Syrian people. In short, efforts to advance American hegemony through the buildup of “civil society” and the so-called advancement of “human rights” have failed and innocent civilians are paying the price.

Posted in Syria1 Comment

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