Posts Tagged ‘Libya’

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Las Vegas Mass Shooting/NATO Russia Military Exercise/ Russia Gold Reserves All Time High. Commentary by Chris Anthony

 

By Jacob G. Hornberger

One thing is certain about the U.S. mainstream media’s memorialization of the 9/11 attacks. They are not about to mention, much less emphasize, that the attacks were among the rotten fruits of U.S. interventionism, the foreign-policy philosophy that continues to hold the United States in its grip. Given the ongoing debacles of death, destruction, tyranny, torture, ISIS, and refugee crises arising from U.S interventionism in Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria, and Afghanistan, the last thing interventionists want Americans to focus on is that interventionism gave us 9/11 as well.

The 9/11 attacks were not the first time the World Trade Center came under a terrorist attack. The first attack came 8 years before, in 1993. When one of the terrorists, Ramzi Yousef, was brought before a federal judge for sentencing (because terrorism is a federal criminal offense, not an act of war), he angrily told the judge something to the effect of: Go ahead and call me a terrorist if you will. But the truth is that you all are “butchers.”

What he was referring to was the U.S. government’s intentional use of sanctions to kill thousands of children in Iraq prior to the 1993 terrorist attack on the WTC. In fact, it was the intentional killing of those children that partly motivated Yousef to attack the WTC in 1993. That’s why he called U.S. officials “butchers” prior to his sentencing — because they were intentionally killing children — lots of children, not one of whom had ever initiated any violence against the United States.

After Yousef was sentenced, U.S. officials continued their sanctions on Iraq knowing that there were killing even more children and knowing full well that Yousef had been motivated to attack the WTC by such killings.

Three years after Yousef’s sentencing — in 1996 — Madeleine Albright, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, was asked if the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the U.S. sanctions were worth it. Albright said that it was not an easy call but that, yes, the deaths were “worth it.” Not one single U.S. official, as far as I know, issued any condemnation or even mild criticism of Albright’s statement. That’s undoubtedly because they agreed with her.

By “it” Albright meant regime change in Iraq. During the 1980s, U.S. officials had helped Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to kill Iranians in his war on Iran. By 1990, however, the U.S. government had turned against its former partner and ally because his army had invaded Kuwait as a result of an oil-drilling dispute between Iraq and Kuwait. U.S. officials decided that they wanted Saddam ousted from power and replaced with a pro-U.S. regime.

That’s what the deadly sanctions that killed all those Iraqi children were intended to do — bring regime change, which has long been a core element in U.S. interventionism. The idea was that as Iraqi parents saw their children dying from infectious illnesses and malnutrition (the Pentagon had intentionally destroyed Iraq’s water and sewage treatment plants with that purpose in mind), they would overthrow Saddam and install a pro-U.S. regime. Alternatively, U.S. officials figured that Saddam might abdicate rather than watch all those Iraqi children die.

It didn’t work. By the time of the 9/11 attacks, the sanctions were still in place, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children were dead and more were still dying, and Saddam Hussein was still in power.

Prior to the 9/11 attacks, there were those who said: Stop the sanctions and stop killing those children because if you don’t, you’re going to have terrorist retaliation, just like the 1993 terrorist attack on the WTC. FFF was among them. Before the 9/11 attacks, we published op-eds and commentaries saying that if U.S. interventionism in the Middle East continued, there was the likelihood of terrorist retaliation on American soil. The noted scholar Chalmers Johnson said the same thing, especially in his excellent pre-9/11 book Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire.

U.S. officials ignored the warnings, just as they scoffed when high UN officials resigned in protest against what they called the genocide that U.S. sanctions were committing against innocent children. Not surprisingly, Osama bin Laden cited the U.S. government’s massive killing of Iraqi children in his pre-9/11 declaration of war against the United States.

Once many Americans bought into the “they hate us for our freedom and values” line after the 9/11 attacks, it became easy for U.S. officials to use the 9/11 attacks to justify their invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. The invasion of Iraq was intended to accomplish what the 11 years of sanctions had failed to accomplish — regime change in Iraq. The war on Afghanistan was initiated because the Taliban regime refused to comply with President Bush’s unconditional extradition demand for Osama bin Laden, notwithstanding the fact that there was no extradition treaty between Afghanistan and the United States.

In the process, by using the 9/11 attacks to double down with more U.S. interventionism, America ended up with a perpetual threat of terrorist blowback and the never-ending “war on terrorism,” not to mention ever-increasing budgets and totalitarian-like powers for the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA.

That’s how it that we now live in a society of forever wars, out-of-control federal spending and debt, assassination, kidnappings, regime change, coups, alliances with dictatorial regimes, and foreign aid for dictators.

Obviously this was not the type of system envisioned by the Framers when they called the federal government into existence. Our American ancestors would never have ratified the Constitution if they had known that it was going to bring a federal government into existence that wielded totalitarian-like powers, intentionally killed children, and engaged in foreign interventionism.

Unfortunately, later generations of Americans decided to abandon our nation’s founding principles of non-interventionism and a constitutional, limited-government republic. Americans who would prefer a society based on peace, prosperity, harmony, morality, and freedom would be wise to reflect on that decision today, the anniversary date of the 9/11 attacks, and beyond.

“Nation state as a fundamental unit of man’s organized life has ceased to be the principal creative force: International banks and multinational corporations are acting and planning in terms that are far in advance of the political concepts of the nation-state.”

— Zbigniew Brzezinski, “Between Two Ages: The Technetronic Era”, 1971

“I’m going to continue to push for a no-fly zone and safe havens within Syria….not only to help protect the Syrians and prevent the constant outflow of refugees, but to gain some leverage on both the Syrian government and the Russians.”

Why is Hillary Clinton so eager to intensify US involvement in Syria when US interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya have all gone so terribly wrong?

The answer to this question is simple. It’s because Clinton doesn’t think that these interventions went wrong. And neither do any of the other members of the US foreign policy establishment. (aka–The Borg). In fact, in their eyes these wars have been a rousing success. Sure, a few have been critical of the public relations backlash from the nonexistent WMD in Iraq, (or the logistical errors, like disbanding the Iraqi Army) but–for the most part– the foreign policy establishment is satisfied with its efforts to destabilize the region and remove leaders that refuse to follow Washington’s diktats.

This is hard for ordinary people to understand. They can’t grasp why elite powerbrokers would want to transform functioning, stable countries into uninhabitable wastelands overrun by armed extremists, sectarian death squads and foreign-born terrorists. Nor can they understand what has been gained by Washington’s 15 year-long rampage across the Middle East and Central Asia that has turned a vast swathe of strategic territory into a terrorist breeding grounds? What is the purpose of all this?

First, we have to acknowledge that the decimation and de facto balkanization of these countries is part of a plan. If it wasn’t part of a plan, than the decision-makers would change the policy. But they haven’t changed the policy. The policy is the same. The fact that the US is using foreign-born jihadists to pursue regime change in Syria as opposed to US troops in Iraq, is not a fundamental change in the policy. The ultimate goal is still the decimation of the state and the elimination of the existing government. This same rule applies to Libya and Afghanistan both of which have been plunged into chaos by Washington’s actions.

But why? What is gained by destroying these countries and generating so much suffering and death?

Here’s what I think:  I think Washington is involved in a grand project to remake the world in a way that better meets the needs of its elite constituents, the international banks and multinational corporations. Brzezinski not only refers to this in the opening quote, he also explains what is taking place: The nation-state is being jettisoned as the foundation upon which the global order rests. Instead, Washington is  erasing borders, liquidating states, and removing strong, secular leaders that can mount resistance to its machinations in order to impose an entirely new model on the region, a new world order. The people who run these elite institutions want to create an interconnected-global free trade zone overseen by the proconsuls of Big Capital, in other words, a global Eurozone that precludes the required state institutions (like a centralized treasury, mutual debt, federal transfers) that would allow the borderless entity to function properly.

Deep state powerbrokers who set policy behind the smokescreen of our bought-and-paid-for congress think that one world government is an achievable goal provided they control the world’s energy supplies, the world’s reserve currency and become the dominant player in this century’s most populous and prosperous region, Asia. This is essentially what Hillary’s “pivot” to Asia is all about.

The basic problem with Washington’s NWO plan is that a growing number of powerful countries are still attached to the old world order and are now prepared to defend it. This is what’s really going on in Syria, the improbable alliance of Russia, Syria, Iran and Hezbollah have stopped the US military juggernaut dead in its tracks. The unstoppable force has hit the immovable object and the immovable object has prevailed…so far.

Naturally, the foreign policy establishment is upset about these new developments, and for good reason. The US has run the world for quite a while now, so the rolling back of US policy in Syria is as much a surprise as it is a threat. The Russian Airforce deployed to Syria a full year ago in September, but only recently has Washington shown that it’s prepared to respond by increasing its support of its jihadists agents on the ground and by mounting an attack on ISIS in the eastern part of the country, Raqqa. But the real escalation is expected to take place when Hillary Clinton becomes president in 2017. That’s when the US will directly engage Russia militarily, assuming that their tit-for-tat encounters will be contained within Syria’s borders.  It’s a risky plan, but it’s the next logical step in this bloody fiasco. Neither party wants a nuclear war, but Washington believes that doing nothing is tantamount to backing down, therefore, Hillary and her neocon advisors can be counted on to up the ante. “No-fly zone”, anyone?

The assumption is that eventually, and with enough pressure, Putin will throw in the towel. But this is another miscalculation. Putin is not in Syria because he wants to be nor is he there because he values his friendship with Syrian President Bashar al Assad. That’s not it at all. Putin is in Syria because he has no choice. Russia’s national security is at stake. If Washington’s strategy of deploying terrorists to topple Assad succeeds, then the same ploy will be attempted in Iran and Russia. Putin knows this, just like he knows that the scourge of foreign-backed terrorism can decimate entire regions like Chechnya. He knows that it’s better for him to kill these extremists in Aleppo than it will be in Moscow. So he can’t back down, that’s not an option.

But, by the same token, he can compromise, in other words, his goals and the goals of Assad do not perfectly coincide. For example, he could very well make territorial concessions to the US for the sake of peace that Assad might not support.

But why would he do that? Why wouldn’t he continue to fight until every inch of Syria’s sovereign territory is recovered?

Because it’s not in Russia’s national interest to do so, that’s why. Putin has never tried to conceal the fact that he’s in Syria to protect Russia’s national security. That’s his main objective.  But he’s not an idealist, he’s a pragmatist who’ll do whatever he has to to end the war ASAP. That means compromise.

This doesn’t matter to the Washington warlords….yet. But it will eventually. Eventually there will be an accommodation of some sort. No one is going to get everything they want, that much is certain. For example, it’s impossible to imagine that Putin would launch a war on Turkey to recover the territory that Turkish troops now occupy in N Syria. In fact, Putin may have already conceded as much to Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan in their recent meetings. But that doesn’t mean that Putin doesn’t have his red lines. He does.  Aleppo is a red line. Turkish troops will not be allowed to enter Aleppo.

The western corridor, the industrial and population centers are all red lines. On these, there will be no compromise. Putin will help Assad remain in power and keep the country largely intact. But will Turkey control sections in the north, and will the US control sections in the east?

Probably. This will have to be worked out in negotiations, but its unlikely that the country’s borders will be the same as they were before the war broke out. Putin will undoubtedly settle for a halfloaf provided the fighting ends and security is restored. In any event, he’s not going to hang around until the last dog is hung.

Unfortunately, we’re a long way from any settlement in Syria, mainly because Washington is nowhere near accepting the fact that its project to rule the world has been derailed. That’s the crux of the matter, isn’t it? The bigshots who run the country are still in denial. It hasn’t sunk in yet that the war is lost and that their nutty jihadist-militia plan has failed.

It’s going to take a long time before Washington gets the message that the world is no longer its oyster. The sooner they figure it out, the better it’ll be for everyone.

Libya’s Gen. Khalifa Haftar, who leads forces loyal to the Tobruk-based Council of Deputies, has requested Russia to end its arms embargo on Libya and begin supplying weapons and military equipment to eastern Libyan forces, a Russian diplomatic source said Wednesday.
 

Haftar has addressed the request to both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu via his special representative Abdel Basset Badri, who also serves as Libya’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Badri visited Moscow on Tuesday, meeting with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, the Russian Izvestia newspaper reported, citing a diplomatic source familiar with the situation.

“The meeting really did take place. Badri came to Moscow for one day. During talks with Bogdanov, they discussed the issue of lifting the embargo on arms supplies. Libyans are asking us to send them small arms, but also equipment, including planes. Also, they asked Moscow to start an anti-Islamist military operation in Libya that is similar to the one in Syria,” the source told the newspaper.

Haftar visited Russia in late June, discussing a number of issues, including weapons deliveries, with Shoigu and Russia’s Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev.
Russia joined the UN Security Council arms embargo on Libya in 2011, when the country was gripped by an uprising against longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi, who was overthrown the same year after several months of civil war. The country was later contested by two rival governments, the internationally-recognized Council of Deputies and the Tripoli-based General National Congress.
On March 31, the long-anticipated UN-backed Government of National Accord in Libya started to perform its duties. The government has so far failed to unite the country.
Daesh, which is a militant jihadist organization outlawed in many countries, including Russia, also maintains significant presence in the country, especially in and round Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte.

In a column mocking the political ignorance of the “dumbed-down” American people and lamenting the death of “objective fact,” New York Times columnist Timothy Egan shows why so many Americans have lost faith in the supposedly just-the-facts-ma’am mainstream media.

Egan states as flat fact, “If more than 16 percent of Americans could locate Ukraine on a map, it would have been a Really Big Deal when Trump said that Russia was not going to invade it — two years after they had, in fact, invaded it.”

But it is not a “fact” that Russia “invaded” Ukraine – and it’s especially not the case if you also don’t state as flat fact that the United States has invaded Syria, Libya and many other countries where the U.S. government has launched bombing raids or dispatched “special forces.”  Yet, the Times doesn’t describe those military operations as “invasions.”

Nor does the newspaper of record condemn the U.S. government for violating international law, although in every instance in which U.S. forces cross into another country’s sovereign territory without permission from that government or the United Nations Security Council, that is technically  an act of illegal aggression.

In other words, the Times applies a conscious double standard when reporting on the actions of the United States or one of its allies (note how Turkey’s recent invasion of Syria was just an “intervention”) as compared to how the Times deals with actions by U.S. adversaries, such as Russia.

Biased on Ukraine

The Times’ reporting on Ukraine has been particularly dishonest and hypocritical. The Times ignores the substantial evidence that the U.S. government encouraged and supported a violent coup that overthrew elected President Viktor Yanukovych on Feb. 22, 2014, including a pre-coup intercepted phone call between Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt discussing who should lead the new government and how to “midwife this thing.”

The Times also played down the key role of neo-Nazis and extreme nationalists in killing police before the coup, seizing government building during the coup, and then spearheading the slaughter of ethnic Russian Ukrainians after the coup. If you wanted to detect the role of these SS-wannabes from the Times’ coverage, you’d have to scour the last few paragraphs of a few stories that dealt with other aspects of the Ukraine crisis.

While leaving out the context, the Times has repeatedly claimed that Russia “invaded” Crimea, although curiously without showing any photographs of an amphibious landing on Crimea’s coast or Russian tanks crashing across Ukraine’s border en route to Crimea or troops parachuting from the sky to seize strategic Crimean targets.

The reason such evidence of an “invasion” was lacking is that Russian troops were already stationed in Crimea as part of a basing agreement for the port of Sevastopol. So, it was a very curious “invasion” indeed, since the Russian troops were on scene before the “invasion” and their involvement after the coup was peaceful in protecting the Crimean population from the depredations of the new regime’s neo-Nazis. The presence of a small number of Russian troops also allowed the Crimeans to vote on whether to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia, which they did with a 96 percent majority.

In the eastern provinces, which represented Yanukovych’s political base and where many Ukrainians opposed the coup, you can fault, if you wish, the Russian decision to provide some military equipment and possibly some special forces so ethnic Russian and other anti-coup Ukrainians could defend themselves from the assaults by the neo-Nazi Azov brigade and from the tanks and artillery of the coup-controlled Ukrainian army.

But an honest newspaper and honest columnists would insist on including this context. They also would resist pejorative phrases such as “invasion” and “aggression” – unless, of course, they applied the same terminology objectively to actions by the U.S. government and its “allies.”

That sort of nuance and balance is not what you get from The New York Times and its “group thinking” writers, people like Timothy Egan. When it comes to reporting on Russia, it’s Cold War-style propaganda, day in and day out.

And this has not been a one-off problem. The unrelenting bias of the Times and, indeed, the rest of the mainstream U.S. news media on the Ukraine crisis represents a lack of professionalism that was also apparent in the pro-war coverage of the Iraq crisis in 2002-03 and other catastrophic U.S. foreign policy decisions.

A growing public recognition of that mainstream bias explains why so much of the American population has tuned out supposedly “objective” news (because it is anything but objective).

Indeed, those Americans who are more sophisticated about Russia and Ukraine than Timothy Egan know that they’re not getting the straight story from the Times and other MSM outlets. Those not-dumbed-down Americans can spot U.S. government propaganda when they see it.

By Ian Sinclair

“The sinister fact about literary censorship in England is that it is largely voluntary”, George Orwell noted in his censored preface to his 1945 book Animal Farm. “Unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without the need for any official ban”. Orwell went onto explain that “at any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that or the other, but it is ‘not done’ to say it”.

The corporate media’s ‘coverage’ of Syria adds a twist to Orwell’s dictum – inconvenient reports and facts do occasionally appear in respected newspapers and on popular news programmes but they are invariably ignored, decontextualised or not followed up on. Rather than informing the historical record, public opinion and government policy these snippets of essential information are effectively thrown down the memory hole.

Instead the public is fed a steady diet of simplistic, Western-friendly propaganda, a key strand of which is that the US has, as Channel 4 News’s Paul Mason blindly asserted in January 2016, “stood aloof from the Syrian conflict”. This deeply ingrained ignorance was taken to comical lengths when Mason’s Channel 4 News colleague Cathy Newman interviewed the former senior US State Department official Anne-Marie Slaughter, with both women agreeing the US had not armed the insurgency in Syria.

In the real world the US has been helping to arm the insurgency since 2012, with US officials telling the Washington Post in last year that the CIA’s $1bn programme had trained and equipped 10,000 rebel fighters. “From the moment the CIA operation was started, Saudi money supported it”, notes the New York Times. According to the former American Ambassador to Syria, the US “has looked the other way” while fighters it has backed have “coordinated in military operations” with the Al-Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria. The UK, of course, has obediently followed its master into the gates of hell, with the former UK Ambassador to Syria recently explaining the UK has made things worse by fuelling the conflict in Syria.

And if they are not playing down the West’s interference in Syria, journalists and their political masters are presenting Western actions as having benign, peaceful motives. For example, in his official response to the Foreign Affairs Select Committee report on UK military action in Syria, British Prime Minister David Cameron argued “since the start of the crisis the UK has worked for a political solution in Syria”. The Guardian’s foreign affairs specialist Simon Tisdall echoed this idea of the West’s “basic benevolence” in 2013 when he noted in passing that President Obama “cannot count on Russian support to fix Syria”.

Compare, this propagandistic framing with what Andrew Mitchell, the former British Secretary of State for International Development, had to say about the West’s role in the 2012 United Nations peace plans on the BBC Today Programme earlier this month:

“Kofi Annan, the very distinguished former General Secretary of the United Nations, came forward with his plan, asked by the UN General-Secretary to do so. Part of that plan was to say that [Syrian President Bashar] Assad is part of the problem here and, therefore, by definition, is part of the solution, and therefore he must be included in negotiations. And that was vetoed by the Americans and, alas, by the British Government too.”

Mitchell’s astonishing revelation is backed up by two highly respected Middle East experts. In September 2015 Avi Shlaim, Professor Emeritus of International Relations at Oxford University, noted that Western insistence that Assad must step down sabotaged Annan’s efforts to set up a peace deal and forced his resignation. Professor Hugh Roberts, the former Director of the North Africa Project at the International Crisis Group, concurs, writing “the Western powers… sabotaged the efforts of the UN special envoys, Kofi Annan and then Lakhdar Brahimi, to broker a political compromise that would have ended the fighting”. Indeed, the US Secretary of State himself conceded this reality when he recently noted that demanding Assad’s departure up front in the peace process was “in fact, prolonging the war.”

A quick survey of recent history shows this warmongering isn’t an unfortunate one-off but a longstanding US policy of blocking peace initiatives in times of conflict.

In 1999 the US used Serbia’s rejection of the Rambouillet Agreement to justify its 78-day bombing campaign. However, the proposed agreement included the military occupation and political control of Kosovo by NATO, and gave NATO the right to occupy of the rest of Yugoslavia. It was a document “that no sovereign country on earth would have signed”, reporter Jeremy Scahill noted.

Two years later as the US geared up to bomb and invade Afghanistan, the Taliban raised the idea of handing over Osama bin Laden if the US produced evidence of his involvement in the attack on 9/11. According to the New York Times “the White House quickly rejected the move” because “it did not ‘meet American requirements’ that Afghanistan immediately hand over the prime suspect in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon”

Several months into the 2003 Iraq War, the Guardian reported that “in the few weeks before its fall, Iraq’s Ba’athist regime made a series of increasingly desperate peace offers to Washington, promising to hold elections and even to allow US troops to search for banned weapons.” Like Afghanistan, the Guardian noted “the advances were all rejected by the Bush administration, according to intermediaries involved in the talks.”

And finally, in January 2015 the Washington Times highlighted the various attempts made by the Libyan government to push for a negotiated settlement during the 2011 NATO intervention. Citing secret audio recordings between an intermediary working for the US Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Libyan government, the newspaper noted the head of the US African Command attempted to negotiate a truce but was ordered to stand down by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s State Department. This account resonates with other reports that show how NATO ignored peace initiatives coming from the Libyan Government and the African Union.

Of course, some or perhaps all of these peace overtures may have been disingenuous and/or unworkable. However, we will never know because they were never seriously considered or explored by the West in its rush to war.

Turning back to Syria, the facts clearly show the West, by blocking the UN’s peace initiative while continuing to arm the insurgency, played a key role in prolonging and escalating a conflict that has killed hundreds of thousands of people and led to a staggering 11 million refugees.

Of course, Russia and Iran, by backing the Assad Government, have also played a central role in prolonging and escalating the war but as a British citizen whose taxes fund the British government my primary concern is the actions of the UK and its allies. As Noam Chomsky has noted “You’re responsible for the predictable consequences of your actions. You’re not responsible for the predictable consequences of somebody else’s actions.”

Roberts clearly understands what the predictable consequences of the US and UK actions in Syria have been: “Western policy has been a disgrace and Britain’s contribution to it should be a matter of national shame.”

As always, the government prefers to treat the public like mushrooms – keeping them in the dark and feeding them bullshit. And with our supposedly crusading, disputatious, stroppy and difficult fourth estate unable or unwilling to report basic facts and to connect some very simple dots, what chance does the general public have of ever gaining even a basic understanding of what the West is doing in Syria?