“Stop Watching Us”: Who Get Pardoned?

The maligned Warren Harding commuted Eugene V. Debs’ prison sentence and then invited the socialist anti-war felon to join him for breakfast in the White House. Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon, who otherwise might have landed in Leavenworth. George H.W. Bush pardoned Elliott Abrams after Iran-Contra. Bill Clinton, neither moralist nor saint, pardoned the fugitive crook Marc Rich. Barack Obama, who forgave all our chicken hawks, neocons, and torture lovers who lied us into Iraq, has offered not one word of understanding about the hard choices taken by Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning except to say he didn’t “think Mr. Snowden was a patriot” and that Manning “broke the law.” Continue reading ““Stop Watching Us”: Who Get Pardoned?”

Frankensteinian Hubris: Bush’s “Redirection” and the Rise of ISIS

Monster and maker meet again.

As the ISIS Sunni radicals, after proclaiming a new Caliphate, continue to conquer Iraqi towns, and the Al Nusra Front Sunni radicals proclaim a new Emirate in Syria, it is good to remember that the policy that led to this mess was initiated under the Bush Administration, with full cognizance of the possibility that it could result in severe terroristic and destabilizing blowback. It was in 2007 that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia launched what Seymour Hersh, who broke the story in The New Yorker, called “the Redirection.” Under this policy revolution, the U.S. and the Saudis (with Israel’s blessing and prodding) began trying to bolster Sunni radicals in an effort to “contain” the “Shiite resurgence” brought about by the U.S. empowerment of the Shiites in Iraq. It all started in Lebanon (emphasis added):

In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda. (…)

The new strategy “is a major shift in American policy—it’s a sea change,” a U.S. government consultant with close ties to Israel said. The Sunni states “were petrified of a Shiite resurgence, and there was growing resentment with our gambling on the moderate Shiites in Iraq,” he said. “We cannot reverse the Shiite gain in Iraq, but we can contain it.”

“It seems there has been a debate inside the government over what’s the biggest danger—Iran or Sunni radicals,” Vali Nasr, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, who has written widely on Shiites, Iran, and Iraq, told me. “The Saudis and some in the Administration have been arguing that the biggest threat is Iran and the Sunni radicals are the lesser enemies. This is a victory for the Saudi line.”

(As it turns out, as reported by Patrick Cockburn, not all of the Saudis embraced such a blowback-inviting policy, so it would be more accurate to call it a victory for the Prince Bandar bin Sultan line.) The fact that U.S. policymakers concluded that beleaguered Iran, with its long track record of not attacking a single country, is more of a danger than Sunni radicals, like the ones responsible for 9/11 and every other Al Qaeda attack, is an indication of just how little our overlords care about actually protecting us, as compared to pursuing regional power politics.

Continue reading “Frankensteinian Hubris: Bush’s “Redirection” and the Rise of ISIS”

Was it the promise or was it the SOFA?

On Friday, October 21, 2011, Mr. Obama, invoking one of his campaign promises, announced the complete withdrawal of all U.S. Troops from Iraq by "the [Christian] holidays." Over the weekend, he and his media arm further spun the story, claiming the deadline had been negotiated by G.W. Bush.

Behind the scenes — later paragraphs — we discover that the Pentagon wanted to keep at least 3,000 to 5,000 troops on Iraqi soil. The true number was significantly larger. But they’re all leaving. Why?

It was almost certainly the S.O.F.A., the acronym for "Status Of Forces Agreement."

Obama’s announcement signals that US officials have been unable to negotiate with Iraq’s leaders a renewal of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) governing the stationing and mission of American troops on Iraqi soil. Pentagon officials in particular, backed by a number of congressional leaders, had called for leaving a force of between 3,000 and 5,000 in Iraq for an extended period. –Iraq withdrawal: With US troops set to exit, 9-year war draws to close – CSMonitor.com

A key provision of any SOFA is exempting occupying soldiers from the laws of the country being occupied. It was this provision that Iraqi negotiators refused to renew. Thus, for example, once the old SOFA expired, U.S. soldiers who killed an Iraqi could be tried for murder under Iraqi law.

The Iraqis, it seems, found the back door to get rid of occupying U.S. troops.

This would likely work in other countries as well.

But that still leaves the drones.

Collateral Damage: The Equations

ALLAN NAIRN: Well, now, as the U.S. is losing its edge economically, it has one clear comparative advantage. And that’s in killing. And it’s using it. Obama has increased the attacks on Afghanistan, Pakistan. Brookings Institution last year estimated that for every one militant, as they put it, killed in Pakistan, the U.S. drones kill 10 civilians. –Allan Nairn: As U.S. Loses Its Global Economic Edge, Its “One Clear Comparative Advantage is in Killing, and It’s Using It,” Democracy NOW!, December 29, 2010

How does the “one militant per ten civilians killed” Drone Equation compare to other approved “collateral damage” equations? Well, during the Bush Administration, if a bombing strike was expected to kill more than 29 innocent men, women and children, the White House had to approve it. What would that be like . . . .

In the case of The Obama Administration, the acceptable “collateral damage” kill number has, apparently, been increased to 50 innocent civilians.

On the bright side, if you stay with groups larger than 50, the U.S. militaryindustrialcongressional complex may at least need a presidential order before it can kill you by mistake.
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The latest reported drone strike: –US Drone Strike Kills at Least Six in North Waziristan, House, Vehicle Hit in Attack, Identities of Victims Unknown, by Jason Ditz, January 07, 2011

Dubya was right??

From film-maker Oliver Stone’s interview with former Argentine President Nestor Kirchner, we discover:

Oliver Stone: "Were there any eye-to-eye moments with President Bush that day, that night?"

Nestor Kirchner: "…I said that a solution to the problems right now, I told Bush, is a Marshall Plan. …He said the best way to revitalize the economy is war and that the United States has grown stronger with war."

Stone: "War. He said that?"

Kirchner: "He said that. Those were his exact words."

Stone: "Was he suggesting that South America go to war?"

Kirchner: "Well, he was talking about the United States. …All of the economic growth of the United States has been encouraged by the various wars. He said it very clearly. –Fmr. Argentine President Kirchner Dies of Heart Attack, Democracy Now!, Oct. 28, 2010

So, WAS Dubya right?

"War" [1] is indeed a key part of the U.S. economy. Some folks call this "military keynesianism."

Consider: Despite one of the most defensible geographic situations on earth — unless you fear the Canadians — the U.S. Government spends more on "defense" than almost the rest of the world combined. AND, not surprisingly, U.S.A. is the biggest arms merchant in the world.

So, Mr. Bush was exactly right.

If you’re a U.S. Citizen, approximately 43% of your income taxes go to pay for wars, past and present. And that’s before Uncle Sam is forced, kicking and screaming, into officially admitting PTSD is nearly universal in combat veterans, lasts a lifetime, and is expensive to treat. According to former IMF Chief Economist and Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz, the two current "wars" will eventually cost U.S. taxpayers between four and six trillion dollars. That’s trillion. With a "T."

And don’t fret about the militaryindustrial budget. While Mr. Obama isn’t yet responsible for killing as many men, women and children as Mr. Bush — and hasn’t spent as much doing so, give him a chance — he’s not even two years into his presidency and he’s already sent at least 60,000 new U.S. troops into Afghanistan and has plans to escalate the U.S. presence in Pakistan, and the largely ignoredU.S. presence in Yemen too.

With these kinds of numbers — that 43% of your income tax spent for “wars” for example — maybe a bit of money invested in antiwar.com to stop them might be a good investment, not only for you, but for your kids, grand kids and the yet unborn. What do you say?


[1] The U.S. Government hasn’t been at war according to its Constitution since the end of World War II. That would require the U.S. House of Representatives to vote for war, which it hasn’t done. This means the so-called "wars" — the Korean "War," the Vietnam "War," The Iraq "Wars," the "War" in Afghanistan, etc. — must be something else. Or, since they insist on calling them "wars" anyway, unconstitutional. But as George W. Bush is reported to have claimed, "The constitution is just a damned piece of paper." So, who cares? return

Mass murder: Monkey see monkey do?

JUAN GARCÉS: "… Hitler asked his generals to be ready to invade Poland, and to exterminate the population in those territories, because German population should replace this population. Some generals say, "My Führer, there will a provoking of cry in the world. Thousands of people will be killed, and there will be blame for us." And the answer from Hitler was, "Why? Twenty years ago was a massacre of Armenians. More than one million Armenians were massacred by the Turkish, in the Turkish Empire. Who remembers now the Armenians?" So, the forgiveness of the first big massacre in the twentieth century was the pretext for encouraging a second wave of massacre that was in World War II." –Another 9/11 Anniversary: September 11, 1973, When US-Backed Pinochet Forces Took Power in Chile

That’s why they MUST be prosecuted!

You know who they are.

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Who’s JUAN GARCÉS, you ask?

AMY GOODMAN: Our next guest, Juan Garcés, was a personal adviser to Salvador Allende. Juan Garcés was with the president when revolting troops bombed the presidential palace and found himself the sole survivor among Allende’s political advisers when the coup had run its course.

More than twenty years later, Juan Garcés has led a legal effort to sue Augusto Pinochet for crimes against humanity in the Spanish courts. Juan Garcés is now focused on getting the Spanish courts to investigate for the first time the crimes against humanity committed under General Franco’s dictatorship.