John Kerry gave a very good speech and made a very “compelling” case yesterday. In fact, he made such a good case against stockpiling of chemical weapons and killing innocent people, including children, that I think the US should go ahead and bomb its own military installations and stockpiles of chemical weapons. He referred to Assad as “murderer” and “thug”. It always baffles me when US officials call others such things and complain that they kill innocent people and how they themselves value human lives. But, it gets really comical when they speak of respect for international laws and the will of the international community.
Nevertheless, the US has reportedly asked UN inspectors to leave Syria while it gets ready to attack the country alleging that the regime has used chemical weapons, bringing to mind the events of ten years ago when Bush asked UN inspectors to leave Iraq before the invasion of that country alleging the regime possessed weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). We now know why they didn’t want the inspectors to conclude their inspections and testing: because the whole WMD issue was a lie.
It begs the question, now: why would Assad use chemical weapons at a time when the UN inspectors are already in Syria? I’m not saying that he didn’t. I’m not because I don’t know if he did or not. He very well may have. But, why would he do it now? The war has been going on for a while and he’s not losing. In fact, he seems to be “winning”, as former US ambassador to the United Nations, Bill Richardson said yesterday on MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hays. I could understand if he were losing his grip and made the attack in desperation, not caring that the inspectors are in the country and knowing that doing that would give the US the pretext to intervene and change the balance of forces to benefit the “rebels”, but now, when the “rebels” are losing ground? It would however make more sense if the rebels or the CIA or Israel were behind those attacks to give the US a reason to intervene.
I’m not saying that is the case, but, it’s at least as likely, if not more, as the official US version, especially given the fact that US officials tell lies before, during and after every military intervention they commit. You may doubt if they will go ahead with an attack, but, you can always count on them to lie about the reasons for and circumstances around their attack. They couldn’t stick to a single story even about the assassination of Bin Laden and dumping his body into the sea, let alone their wars and military interventions. I can say “with high level of confidence”, as John Kerry put it, that they have lied about every single military aggression they have committed, all some 130 of them undertaken since WWII in some 70 different countries. Assad may be a “murderer” and a “thug” and he may be lying when he denies the allegation, but, the lying world record is sure held by the US.
John Kerry stressed that the UN inspectors can determine that chemical weapons have been used, but not who used them. Therefore, it would make sense for the US to claim that the regime was the one who used it even if it were done by the rebels or the CIA or Israel. The fact is it could be either party and we simply don’t know who did it, and the US claim that “we know” with “high level of confidence” means as much as when they said Saddam had weapons of mass destruction or that the NSA does not spy on the American people.
We must keep in mind also the why and when of US military interventions. If there is a silver lining to US military operations, which on average occurs about twice a year, it would have to be the fact that we can study them and draw some definitive conclusions since there are so many of them. The most important one I think is that their interventions are never based on humanitarian considerations, but rather on cold, pragmatic and business-like geopolitical and strategic calculations. They will intervene if they figure it’s beneficial for the long term interests of the Empire or profitable for some corporation or group of corporations that are part of the Empire.
The war in Syria created a pretext, an opening or opportunity, for the US to try and bring about a regime change, just as they did in Libya, not from the dictatorship of Assad to a democratic government answering to people’s needs, but to a dictatorship of their own, answering to Washington and US multinational corporations. In Iraq, they didn’t have the same alibi, but they had 9/11 and the (manufactured) weapons of mass destruction scare.
The point is: it doesn’t matter what they say or what their excuse is. What matters and what is a much clearer indicator as to what guides their actions is their long term plan for world domination, accomplished by taking out any obstacle on their way, with all means necessary.
What started in Syria, I believe, was a genuine movement for democracy, as in other places, but it soon morphed into a proxy war by
the “rebels” who include in their ranks pro-Al Qaeda mercenaries and Salafist fighters who descended on Syria from several Arab nations to fight the regime, with support from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Britain and the US, pushing away, undermining and detailing the original movement for democracy. What we see in Syria, today, resembles nothing like a revolution or even a civil war, given all the foreign forces involved there.
A US attack which would result in the loss of more lives, possibly in the thousands, coming at a time when the rebels are losing the war, is meant, at the maximum, to reverse the trend and enable the rebels to overthrow the regime. And, in the event it doesn’t, its minimum goal is to weaken the country, especially militarily. That’s why they will be targeting their defensive capabilities, including radar, anti-aircraft and surface to air missiles, communication equipment, command and control, weapons caches that have nothing to do with chemical weapons, and possibly even infrastructure, water treatment facilities, etc.
Even liberals who have misgivings about the looming attack and criticize US militarism that has become ever so frequent are guilty of a big misrepresentation. They say the US can’t be the world’s policeman anymore. The implication is that they try to keep the peace, prevent violence and punish violators of international laws. Making such gross misrepresentation by the same liberals who commemorate the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s speech and the March on Washington is extreme hypocrisy and fraud. Do these liberals really forget what Dr. King thought of this government or do they wish we’d forget? “The greatest purveyor of violence in the world”, has now taken the level of violence it commits around the world to such new highs that Dr. King could not have fathomed when he made that speech, 50 years ago. And these are liberals who stop short of supporting Obama’s wars and militarism. Others, such as the shameless Rev. Al Sharpton and Melissa Harris-Perry, following their leader, Obama, have taken on neocon policies and positions and defend every action Obama takes, no matter what. If the Reverend of BS disagrees with that part of Dr. King whom he pretends to admire, then he should have the gull to come out and say it. But, they won’t because these so-called liberals-turned-neocon are cowards and frauds. Their job is to deceive the public for which they get compensated by NBC. But, putting aside such garbage TV personalities, the farthest liberals will go is to say “we can’t continue to be the policeman of the world”, instead of the truth which is that the US heads a bunch of international terrorist gangsters who bully, extort, bribe, murder, and commit the most vile acts of violence, terror and mass murder humanity has ever known for profit and wealth.
How ironic or should I say hypocritical that Obama commemorates Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, on the same day that he prepares to attack yet another country. I’m sure Dr. King would be proud.
In light of the Administration’s plans to take military action against Syria which could start as soon as today, despite UN inspections currently going on at the site of the alleged chemical weapons attack, parallels are being drawn between now and the run up to the war on Iraq in 2003. Then, too, the US did not, for obvious reasons, wait for UN inspectors to finish their work before commencing its attack.
Liberals keep telling us that the US government, from President Bush to his aides to the National Security Agency and the different spy agencies, including the CIA, truly believed that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and was on its way or had plans to also acquire nuclear weapons, and that if not stopped, would pose a serious threat to US and to the world. Rachel Maddow of MSNBC said on her show yesterday that the Bush Administration was so sure they were right about it that they didn’t see the need to wait for the UN inspection team to conclude its inspections, told them to leave Iraq and went ahead to invade the country which resulted in the death of close to a million people, according to some reports and several hundred thousands, according to others and homelessness and dislocation of countless others. So, basically, we’re told, it was a mistake on the part of the previous administration.
Lies have consequences and are told for a purpose. The lie that the war was based on wrong information and an error serves the specific purpose of allowing the “mistake” to happen again. They had the wrong information, but we now have it right. The emphasis is on the veracity of the intelligence, rather than the intention and long term strategic plans and goals which are really what matter. As long as we believe they have the right intentions and try to do good and are driven by compassion for other human beings, we will tend to give them the benefit of the doubt and let them repeat those “mistakes”.
They also have us believe that if they happen to make a “mistake” based on some “false intelligence”, they can be more careful next time, especially if it’s a different Administration. That was Bush and his team; this is Obama. This is different. Indeed, the Iraq war was one of the factors that contributed to Obama’s election. And, herein lies the second lie: not only the government has good intentions and when it commits war crimes, it’s just a mistake, such mistakes are committed by an individual president who can be replaced with another. Problem solved.
Changing administrations is, in fact, a perfect way of hiding the continuity of the government and its policies to give people the false impression that the government can change policies that are deemed “mistaken”. Had there been a single ruling party or junta in the US that stayed in power for decades (there actually is, though not in form or appearance) – which is what the US supports in nations under its influence – they couldn’t create such impression and hide the fact that despite changing administrations, the government remains essentially unchanged and pursues the same policies with unmistakable continuity. The US government does not change in nature and policies because a new president has been elected. It is, in fact, one unchanging junta of corporate rule. That’s because, by and large, corporations remain in the driving seat, no matter who becomes the next president. Moreover, none of the military, intelligence, spy and security institutions are changed with a new president.
Can US policy makers make mistakes? Of course. But, waging a war and killing hundreds of thousands of people can hardly be considered a mistake. If it could, none of the Nazi war criminals would have been tried, let alone found guilty of war crimes. And, serial killers would be freed on the basis that the murders were a mistake. At the time of the murder, they had the wrong information. There is a very vile and racist mindset behind this kind of thinking that can attribute waging an unprovoked war of aggression against a people and causing so many deaths and so much misery to a mere mistake. And those who defend such actions and their perpetrators have the same mindset, plans and intentions. Obama’s Justice Department asked a federal judge in San Francisco, the other day, to dismiss a lawsuit, filed by an Iraqi woman who has become a refugee, against Bush and several others in his Administration for waging a war of aggression against her country, arguing it violated international law just as was argued at Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals.
A government that defends, protects and answers to corporations will also make policies that are driven by and in the interests of those corporations. If you believe that corporations make their decisions based on what’s good for people or the environment, then you should also believe their government will also make its policies based on what’s good for people and the environment.
As far as the Syrian civil war is concerned, the US did have a chance to help resolve the situation peacefully, long before the death of so many, through diplomatic means which they repeatedly rejected. Their insistence that Assad must step down, long before any attack with chemical weapons and before so many deaths, was in stark contrast with their arming and supporting the governments of Bahrain and Yemen where US backed dictators have also been killing their own people. And, if it’s the chemical weapons that bother them, they were fine with it and, in fact, supported its use by Saddam’s regime in his war on Iran in 1980’s.
The decision by US to attack Syria is not over its use of chemical weapons, any more than the decision to attack Iraq was based on their concern for weapons of mass destruction. That’s the excuse. Their decision to wage war, which such an attack will clearly be, is never based on morality or protecting innocent people. Their outrage is selective and fake and their decision to attack based solely on cold and pragmatic calculations for the long term interests of their empire. If they decide to attack, it just means they figured that it’s in their strategic interests to attack and attack now, not due to any moral outrage over gassing innocent people. All the condemnations and moral protest is part of the big lie.
The attack with chemical weapons, whether it was ordered by Assad or not, though deplorable, to US policy makers is just a pretext to do what has been in US play book for a long time, ironically, at a time when they “celebrate” the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. So much for change we can believe in.
Today, US Secretary of State, John Kerry said that, despite UN inspections currently taking place on the site of the alleged chemical weapons use in Syria, the US has reached its own conclusion that the Assad regime has indeed used chemical weapons against the opposition, including civilians. He passionately condemned the attack and said that the US cannot remain silent or indifferent about such brutal and inhuman atrocity.
But, as is usually the case when it comes to US fake outrage and crocodile tears, there is more than meets the eye. Recently, the CIA declassified formerly classified documents citing clear and irrefutable evidence that Iraq was using chemical weapons against Iranians in its war on Iran, as early as in 1983 and through the end of the war in 1988. Not only did the US know about it and raised no objection and remained completely silent, it even helped the Saddam regime with its chemical attacks through intelligence and technical assistance.
The war began when in 1980, shortly after the Iranian revolution of 1979, Saddam Hussein, hoping to take advantage of the chaos, initiated an invasion to occupy Iranian territory in the South. When Iran complained to the UN about the chemical weapons use by Iraqis, the US said nothing, even though they knew and had clear evidence that that was indeed the case. In a UN meeting, the Iranian representative even held up evidence he had brought from Iran and asked the UN to test it for chemical weapons use. Then, he quickly excused himself to go wash his burning hands. The US dismissed the Iranians’ plea even though they knew at the time, according to declassified documents and former top national security officials interviewed by Foreign Policy journal that the Iranians were telling the truth. Not only the US was siding with Iraq which was the aggressor in that war, they were giving them satellite intelligence and know-how enabling them to continue to use chemical weapons.
The US considered the unprovoked Iraqi war on Iran a win-win for the US and Israel, in that no matter which side won, they would be killing each other’s people and that was considered a good thing, though not as good as Iraq defeating Iran and creating conditions for reversing the revolution. The mindset and policy in Washington towards Iran was still the same as in 1953 when the CIA overthrow a democratically elected Prime Minister and put the notorious dictator, the Shah, back on throne to rule with absolute tyranny for the next 25 years.
That the Iranian people, after all that the US government has done to them for the sake of corporate profits, still hold no grudge against the American people is amazing. I believe, if the situation was the reverse, most Americans would call for nuking Iran out of existence.
I don’t know if the Syrian military has used chemical weapons. It well may have. But, what I do know is that anything the US government does or says is strictly political and for its own political/strategic ends and expediency and depends on its objectives and interests at the time. If it’s politically and militarily possible to drop the atom bomb and kill hundreds of thousands of people to ensure Japan does not surrender to the Soviets, they will do it. If Israel bombing Lebanon as they did in 2006 or Gaza as they did in 2012 is in accord with their strategic plans, they will welcome it. And if a government using chemical weapons is in line with their goals, they will support that. Same goes for assassinations, acts of terror and sabotage, wars, occupations, coups and support for brutal dictators around the world. Their decision is always and strictly based on cold political and strategic calculations.
Today is the 50th anniversary of the historic March on Washington “for Jobs and Freedom” with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. But, be careful not to mention the “jobs” part; otherwise you’ll be embarrassing President Obama who’s celebrating the achievements of African Americans in the last 50 years. Just say the march was for racial equality and then mention the fact that we now have a black president and cheer and applaud and say: “we’ve come a long way!”. Isn’t that what the wealthy white elites are reminding us?
And don’t ever mention that Dr. King spoke of the “moral doom” of “a nation that spends more money on its military than on social programs for its people”. And don’t remind people that he connected “bigotry” with “economic exploitation” and “economic injustice”; or that he criticized societies where “profit motives and property rights are more important than people”.
Would Obama or other carefully screened speakers mention the speech he gave in 1967 titled: “Where do we go from here?”, Where he said: “Today, we must ask the question: why are there fifty million poor people in this country? Because when you ask that question you are asking about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth. When you ask that question you begin to question the capitalistic economy”?. Will he mention his speech talking about “individual capitalists in the West investing huge amounts of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the betterment of the countries”? Will he talk about “restructuring” “an edifice that produces beggars”, as Dr. King did? Of course, not. He’d never want to offend his corporate bosses. What would the Wall Street or Monsanto officials in his cabinet say to him if he did that?
And that’s why Dr. King would have no part in this commemoration. He would instead be marching with fast food and Walmart workers for living wages which Obama completely ignores and disregards on behalf of his corporate bosses. He would be marching against hunger which – get this – is higher now than at the time of that historic march 50 years ago. Hunger in this country is at a 52 year high.
You want to talk about racial equality? Let’s do it: 50 years ago, the unemployment among African Americans was twice as much as for whites. Today, the unemployment among African Americans is twice as much as for whites. Poverty among African Americans is a little shy of being three times as much as among whites and includes more than one out of every three blacks. Among black families with children under 18 headed by a single mother, poverty is at 46.5%. African Americans are given jail sentences that are 50% longer than whites for the same violation. And they are 30 times more likely to be stopped and searched than white people.
So, are we supposed to cheer and celebrate our President’s skin color or should we look at his actions and real racial and class alliances? Are we supposed to focus on rhetoric and nice sounding sound bites, or actions and results? Are we to believe our President and his liberal followers that Dr. King’s dream has come true?
Speaking of liberals, Dr. King said in 1963: “Over the past few years, I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s greatest stumbling block in his stride towards freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counsellor or the Ku-Klux-Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to ’order’ than to justice, who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice”.
And I would add the biggest stumbling block the poor – black, brown and white – face is not the far right or the crazies in Republican Party or the Tea Party, but the white moderate, also known as the white liberals and their treasonous (anti)black president because it is they who use compassionate sounding words, pretend to be on the side of the working poor and minorities and deceive and lead people into numbed and bamboozled acquiescence and inaction, leaving them confused and disempowered.
But, when we say that, they retort that we’re extremists. “The question is not whether we will be extremists or not”, Dr. King answers them. “The question is what kind of extremists will we be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love. Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or the extension of justice?”.
What is extreme is sentencing a young whistle blower private to 35 years in prison after keeping him in solitary confinement for over a year, or a black single mother of two to 20 years for firing a rifle into the air to scare away his abusive ex-husband. What is extreme is spying on all citizens without a cause in order to preempt and stifle dissent before it even begins. What is extreme is killing 221 children with drones on the order from the President. What is extreme is locking up innocent men without a charge or trial for over a decade in Guantanamo and force feeding through their nose twice a day. What is extreme is capitalism gone wild with a black president as its staunch defender, who ignores and remains silent on what the economic system is doing to hundreds of millions of people here and abroad.
And what is hypocrisy and duplicity in the extreme is his addressing the commemoration of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom when millions, especially among blacks remain either jobless or in prison. That’s what’s extreme and as Dr. King said, it’s “extremism for hate”, not for love or for justice.
I stand for “extremism for love and justice”. I stand with “disciplined non-conformists who fight for justice”, as articulated by Dr. King. I stand with the true meaning and message of Dr. King, something the two-faced “white moderates” and their (anti)black president do not do. They pick and choose parts of his speeches, cutting out the rest, in order to pretend they love and respect him and agree with him while at the same time not letting his true message to reach and echo among the people and incite them to rise up and fight, as their beloved and fallen leader did and would continue to do.
Two simultaneous things happened on August 20 that, though very different, were in some way related. While a military judge in Ft. Meade, Maryland, sentenced Bradley Manning to a 35 year prison term for sharing classified documents with WikiLeaks which exposed US atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan and embarrassed the US government, Obama’s Justice Department asked a federal judge in San Francisco on that same day to grant procedural immunity to George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Colin Powell for illegally waging a war on Iraq. The case was filed in March 2013, by Sundus Shaker Saleh, an Iraqi single mother and refugee now living in Jordan, alleging that the planning and waging of the war constituted a “crime of aggression” against Iraq, a legal argument that was used by the Nuremberg Tribunal to convict Nazi war criminals after World War II. The DOJ claimed that in planning and waging the Iraq War, Bush and key members of his Administration were “acting within the legitimate scope of their employment” and are thus immune from suit,” That same “employment” argument was made by Nazi war criminals during the Nuremberg trials and duly rejected by the Tribunal.
The arrest, detention without charges for three years, mostly in solitary confinement, accompanied with abuse which according to Amnesty International amounted to torture, and finally, sentencing of Bradley Manning, which was harsher than what most violent rapists, first degree murderers and child molesters get, was conducted by the same Obama Administration that, in a historic and ironic twist, argued, on that very same day, for the immunity for the perpetrators of the war crimes that Bradley Manning had exposed. The picture this dual act on that single day paints of this Bush-Cheney-Obama Administration could not have been more telling. War crimes deserved no arrest or trial. Their revelation to the public did.
On the day before the 2008 presidential elections, in his last campaign rally in North Carolina, candidate Obama stood in front of thousands of his supporters and said: “We are now one day away from changing this country”. Why did he say that? Why did his campaign make “change” its motto? Why so much emphasis on change? Because that’s what people wanted. It wasn’t hard to figure that out. Campaigns do polling, all the time. In fact, even Obama’s Republican opponent, John McCain, promised change. But, who better than the first African American President to deliver it?
But, change was being implemented, and implemented religiously, even before Obama’s presidency – just not the change people had in mind or hoped for. In fact, what people wanted and what actually was being implemented behind the scenes could not have been more divergent and discordant. The change US policies were going through represented nothing qualitatively new and was merely the acceleration of its old strategy of world domination, brought about by a new sense of invincibility and freedom, after the breakup of Soviet Union, which opened the door for the US imperialism to new and less restricted militarism. The corporate government saw an opportunity to ramp up its drive to expand and strengthen its world hegemony, including and especially in oil rich and strategically and militarily important region of Middle East and North Africa, which not only represented an opportunity for huge profits for US oil companies and control of its flow and access, but also as a base for expanding US military dominance in the direction of China and Russia. The new strategy for aggressively forging ahead unchallenged in the coming 21st century was best described before the turn of the Century in a document aptly titled “Strategy For New American Century” which basically boiled down to removing, with all means necessary, any obstacle in the way of such expanded and total hegemony. Iraq was soon identified as a target, not in 2001 after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but as early as in 1998.
The Bush presidency, not so much provided the opportunity or resolve, but rather coincided with the empire’s new aggressive plans for the world. Iraq, as I mentioned, was already in the empire’s plans when Bush became president. The change was officially on the way. And, it wasn’t just in new and aggressive militarism which came to be ironically called “war on terror” – ironically because it was itself nothing but a strategy of terror – but also an aggressive plan for curbing civil liberties and stifling dissent. The upheavals of the 40 years ago were not to be tolerated in this new era of new wars and new take backs from working people.
The change being implemented at the top also included an aggressive drive for deregulation and empowerment of large multinational corporations and a new push against the working class and their unions. Conditions were set for new massive profits on the back of working people in the US and beyond.
The change was well on its way and had been in the works for years when Obama stood on that last day before elections and promised “change”. But, the change he had in mind and was committed to could not have been more different from the change people applauding his every word were hoping to see with his presidency.
When he took office, he wasn’t just given the keys to the White House, but also the plans for continuing the policies of the empire. All those billionaires, company CEO’s, large shareholders and money managers who gave to his campaign – more than they gave to McCain and Romney – expected a return on their political investment. He could talk of change and new direction and could distance himself from the policies of Bush all he wanted when campaigning, but, like his predecessor and like other politicians and all the other hired hands of the military industrial complex, from the employees of National Security Agency (NSA) to the Pentagon officials, he had a job to do. Those who expected a different direction from Obama didn’t understand this and were therefore surprised by the glaring continuity of policy from one president to another: from bailing out banks and insurance companies to suing farmers on behalf of Monsanto, from drone attacks and continuing the wars and occupations to disregard for climate change, from implementing laws curbing civil liberties to punishing whistle blowers and threatening and bullying journalists.
It’s like expecting better odds from jackpot machines after a new boss has been hired to manage the casino. The boss’ job is to maximize profit for the casino. Though he’s officially also the boss of the team of security guards, they all collectively have the job of ensuring smooth and profitable operation of the casino for the owners. Bankers that defrauded home buyers and small investors are part owners of the casino. The laws of the casino don’t apply to them. Nor do they apply to other owners like Monsanto for poisoning the food people eat or to gas companies for poisoning the water or to oil companies that profit from wars. The laws also don’t apply to other administrators and managers of the casino who served the interests of the owners before being replaced by new administrators, in smoothly and well run elections. And so will the crimes of the new administrators be similarly forgiven by the next team that takes the White House. What is however not tolerated and will be dealt with severely are crimes against the interests of the owners of the casino or their fraudulent and criminal operation.
I would have expected nothing less or different from that military court in Ft. Meade, MD, and nothing less from the Justice Department that argued on behalf of Bush and his team and nothing less than the effort they have made to get Snowden to pay for his “treason”.
Bradley Manning was sentenced today to 35 years in military prison by the military judge for downloading and sending to WikiLeaks classified US government documents that embarrassed the government. That’s a longer sentence than some former spies received for transferring data to the former Soviet Union which was considered an enemy, and longer than what some first degree murderers get for multiple premeditated murders, including US soldiers who massacred a couple dozen unarmed and innocent Iraqi or Afghan men, women and children, and longer by the whole 35 years than any banker received for defrauding borrowers, investors, local governments and municipalities and tanking the economy (they were not even tried).
Meanwhile, news keep coming out everyday revealing that the breadth, scope and scale of NSA’s spy program on US citizens is much greater and much more clearly illegal than admitted by the Administration, including Obama himself. All This come after they originally denied that such program even existed, not only to reporters, but also to US Congress, under oath, which is a crime – a crime no one was even questioned for, let alone tried and sentenced.
Warrant less and illegal wiretapping and spying on all US citizens by the government, including reading their emails and listening in on their chat or phone conversations without any cause or suspicion is not a prosecutable offense in the US which has a special claim on “rule of law” and “due process” and other such nice sounding claims. The violation of the law is not prosecutable, its revelation is – by a 35 year prison sentence.
And you know what else is becoming a prosecutable offense, or at least an offense deserving intimidation by the judicial powers of the government? Reporting such government wrongdoing and abuse. This Administration has prosecuted and persecuted more whistle blowers and leakers and has tried to intimidate more journalists who report such government abuse, than any other administration.
Some American journalists writing on such stories are afraid to work on US soil out of fear their computers and equipment will be confiscated. Just yesterday, the British authorities detained and interrogated, for 9 hours, Glen Greenwald’s partner at London airport and confiscated his computer, phone, thumb drives and video game console, on behalf of US government. And what was the legal basis for such egregious abuse of someone who did nothing but being a journalist’s partner who reported things they didn’t like published? An anti-terrorist law. In other words, journalism is now being equated with terrorism and subjected to the same kind of detention, confiscation and interrogation, and soon maybe even prosecution. Greenwald is the Guardian reporter who interviewed Edward Snowden and wrote the story about the NSA spy program.
Not only do they go after whistle blowers and reporters to intimidate them and discourage others who might dare report on news other than tomorrow’s weather and traffic, they keep the focus on the messengers and away from their illegal and unconstitutional acts. In the end, the so-called spy scandal or the “scandal” of massacring innocent Iraqis from an Apache helicopter which Bradley Manning courageously exposed to the world does end with someone going to jail – just not the right people. Those killings were supposed to stay as US government secret, as was the act of spying on hundreds of millions of people. So those who reveal these secrets must go to jail. Yes, in the end he who reveals the killing goes to prison for 35 years, while the perpetrators of the massacres he exposed remain free.
Why? Why are they doing all this? If you think “terrorism”, you’ve watched too much corporate TV. Actually, in a way you’re right. It does have to do with terrorism: the terrorism unleashed upon the poor peoples of the world on behalf of giant multinational corporations which make more profit in a single quarter than a billion people get to feed their families in an entire year. Such plunder of the world and absurd concentration of wealth requires terrorism: the terror of wars, occupations, coups, drone attacks and assassinations. And with the package also come spying on citizens, intimidating journalists, persecuting whistle blowers, secrecy, National Defense Authorization Act, and the making of a police state to eliminate voices of dissent. And, what an irony that this state of terror – domestic and foreign – is justified by nothing but “war on terror”!
As is true about everything else, there are different views on the situation in Egypt. Some glorify and support the actions of the military that’s committing massacres on the streets, and some do the opposite: they glorify the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) and absolve them of any wrongdoing, calling millions of people who oppose them conned or even treasonous. One such author is Eric Walberg who writes frequently for Counterpunch who was interviewed by LHV News about the situation in Egypt. The link for that interview is included here.
Needless to say, glorifying a current such as the MB would require a very one-sided analysis, full of half-truths and falsehoods. His comments were in fact not full of half-truths, but flat falsehoods.
He mentions: “the 2011 uprisings”, which “soft-pedaled by western media as the ‘Arab Spring’, but which is in fact overwhelmingly inspired by Islam, and harks directly to Iran’s 1979 revolution, Algeria’s 1990 revolution, and the Palestinian Intifadas (1987, 2000), where liberals and secularists played no part”. Really? Liberals and secularists played no part in Iran’s revolution? Liberals and secularists played no part in Egypt’s revolution? They played no part in Palestinian Intifadas? So all the people who were protesting in Egypt were Islamists? There were no secularists or Christians or others among them? All those tens of millions who demonstrated against Morsi in late June were former MB supporters who in the course of one year turned against them? Does that even make any logical sense? There weren’t any People’s Fedayeen or Tudehi or Nehzate Melli or others in Iranian revolution? There was no PFLP presence in Palestinian Intifadas? Even the communists and socialists of the 1960’s who were leading the struggle against colonialism throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America made no such claim that it was only they who were fighting against Western imperialists. There is no doubt, and I’ve said this in the past, as have authors such as Tareq Ali, that in the absences of the secular left which was decimated in different countries in the past few decades, the Islamists have taken up the fight against imperialism. Chris Hedges, too, alluded to this in the article he wrote two days ago which I posted on my Facebook wall. But, to say secularists played no role in these revolutions, especially in Egypt, is flatly false.
He says: “So far, the only Islamic revolution to succeed is the Iranian one, still going strong, though suffering from western intrigue, including the war with Iraq, economic crisis, subversion and sanctions”. Wow! What a glorious and perfect outcome to a people’s revolution! Makes you want to wish Islamic Republic for the entire world! The oppression against women and minorities, the executions and imprisonment of political dissidents, the vast and incredible epidemic of drug addiction and hopelessness among the youth and the plundering of the country’s wealth by a handful of big capitalists such as the former President Rafsanjani must all be Western propaganda. And I suppose the uprisings of 2009 which he makes no mention of which included large participation by women was all fabrication, too.
He calls Egypt’s secularists treasonous for coming out against the Morsi government. Over 22 million, up to 30 million, of people are treasonous? If those are the counterrevolutionaries, I guess it makes sense to claim the MB as the only revolutionaries. And why are they treasonous? Because they objected to MB’s version of the Constitution and the stifling of the opposition voices and wanted improvement in the economy? It’s one thing to call them impatient or mistaken, but treasonous? All those millions?
He goes on: “As the pressure on Morsi increased from the military and the secularists, the pro-Saudi Salafi demanded that Egypt support the rebels in Syria, and as the MB became desperate in the face of open treason by secularists, Morsi agreed to Salafi demands, a sad conclusion to an otherwise admirable record in office”. “Admirable record”? Just like the Islamic Republic of Iran, right? I, too, defend the Islamic Republic and more specifically Iran against imperialism and their and Israel’s threats, but, one doesn’t have to lie about it. In the single instance where he faults the MB, namely, aiding the rebels in Syria, he blames it on the “secularists’ treason” and pressure by pro-Saudi Salafis. With this approach, you can exonerate any regime of anything, just as US liberals do the Obama Administration when they say if he does anything wrong, it’s because of the pressure by Republicans and the treason by the progressives who refuse to support his reactionary policies.
He Compares the coup with: “1973 US-funded coup in Chile” which “was repeated in Egypt, right down to gasoline shortages and disruption of transportation.” Wrong again. In 1973 Chile, the US was actively supporting and aiding sabotage and disruptions and creating chaos. That was not the case in Egypt. In Egypt, as I’ve said before in my pieces, they hoped to work with the Muslim Brotherhood through neoliberal policies and by maintaining their influence through the military which MB left intact. Two very different times and very different situations. Not even close.
He has no explanation as to why the US and Europe are condemning the military’s actions and are even calling on them to return Morsi to presidency. Did the US take similar approach about the coup in Chile which they orchestrated? The answer should be clear to anyone familiar with that history.
He goes on to say: “The US wants to follow this tradition” (as in Indonesia and Haiti) in Egypt. That’s a very weak and unsubstantiated speculation for which he provides no basis or evidence. The US was fine with Morsi. They didn’t try to overthrow him. He turned out to be no revolutionary. He seemed to go along with neoliberal plans and peace with Israel, just as the US had hoped.
He continues: “This is clearly Washington’s new-old Middle East strategy: use accommodationist Islamists like the Saudis to con the masses into supporting the imperial agenda”. What con? Saudis are not being used to con anyone? They’re being used to directly and openly intervene in the region on behalf or in the interest of the empire which keeps them rich and in power. No conning here. It’s all in the open and obvious to everyone. He calls it that to imply that tens of millions of Egyptians were conned. By the Saudis? Really?
MB, not according to me, but, according to tens of millions of Egyptians, was not the answer to their demands and aspirations. They rejected him as they rejected Mubarak and in both cases, they had reasons.
What the military is now doing is clearly criminal and any support for their vicious crackdown is wrong and misguided. But, at least, some of the blame goes to the MB for the vast dissatisfaction with their policies and priorities. For millions of Egyptians, the end point of the revolution for which they had made sacrifices was not the MB regime. That was not what they bargained for. They wanted more. And who are we to decide for them that they should have been content with it and stayed in their homes?