Posts Tagged ‘America’

Nuclear Carriers on the Move

August 10, 2010

An Open Letter to President Barack Obama

By Arno J. Mayer, Counterpunch, August 9, 2010

Dear Mr. President:

As Commander-in-Chief you have ordered the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier U.S.S. George Washington to carry out major naval exercises off the coast of Japan and the Korean Peninsula before proceeding, most likely, to other exercises in the Yellow Sea, an inlet of the Pacific Ocean between mainland China and the Korean Peninsula to the east. One of the world’s largest warships, the George Washington is accompanied by some 20 armed vessels and submarines, scores of aircraft and helicopters along with thousands of naval, ground, and air personnel.

You have also ordered the deployment of the nuclear-powered U.S.S. Dwight Eisenhower and U.S.S. Harry Truman to cruise or patrol in an open-ended theater of naval operations in the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, and the Persian Gulf. Both these carriers likewise are hubs of large strike forces consisting of numerous warships, military aircraft, units of the armed services, including special commandos and amphibious landing craft.

Given the scale and reach of this projection of raw military power—reminiscent of the comparatively paltry gunboat diplomacy of a not-so-distant past—I was wondering, Mr. President, whether it wouldn’t be wise for you to give the American people, the United Nations, and the rest of the world a reasoned statement of the need for such an oceanic display of America’s naval, air, soldierly, and electronic might at a time when the United States seems bent on continuing to act as a global policeman in the four corners of the world.

Should you clarify the objectives of American policy it might also be helpful if you could indicate how your policies are in harmony with the letter and spirit of the Nobel Peace Prize, awarded for your “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” which you humbly accepted. Such a reflection would stave off the question as to when and on which of America’s 12 nuclear-powered super-carriers you expect to declare “Mission Accomplished.”

Respectfully yours,
Arno J. Mayer

Arno J Mayer is emeritus professor of history at Princeton University. He is the author of The Furies: Violence and Terror in the French and Russian Revolutions.and Plowshares Into Swords: From Zionism to Israel (Verso).

Advertisements

The Unchallenged Power of the Israel Lobby in America

July 14, 2010

On Being Led By the Nose

By James  Abourezk, Counterpunch, July 12, 2010

I picked up a copy of a memoir written by the long-gone CIA Director, George Tenet.   On the first page of the book’s preface, Mr. Tenet described what it was like on the day after the World Trade Towers had exploded as a result of the terrorists’ actions on 9-11-01.

I quote Mr. Tenet here:

“All this weighed heavy on my mind as I walked beneath the awning that leads to the West Wing and saw Richard Perle exiting the building just as I was about to enter.  Perle is one of the godfathers of the neoconservative movement and, at the time, was head of the Defense Policy Board, an independent advisory group attached to the Secretary of Defense.  Ours was little more than a passing acquaintance.  As the doors closed behind him, we made eye contact and nodded.  I had just reached the door myself when Perle turned to me and said, ‘Iraq has to pay a price for what happened yesterday.  ‘They bear responsibility.’ (Italics added).

“I was stunned but said nothing.  Eighteen hours earlier, I had scanned passenger manifests for the four hijacked airplanes  that showed beyond a doubt that al-Qa’ida was behind the attacks.  Over the months and years to follow, we would carefully examine the potential of a collaborative role for state sponsors.  The intelligence then and now, however, showed no evidence of Iraqi complicity.”

The idea that George W. Bush’s neocon advisers–Perle included–convinced him that the U.S. should invade Iraq received some attention after the Iraqi war started.  But to my knowledge, no one, either in politics or the media, pressed the case too hard, lest they discover that those who wanted to invade Iraq had, not America’s interest, but Israel’s interest in mind.

Continues >>

America’s War Disease

May 8, 2010
Truthdig.com,  May 7, 2010
U.S. soldier in Afghanistan
Flickr / U.S. Army
Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Wire stands atop Ghar Mountain at Kabul Military Training Center in Afghanistan in February 2008.

By Bill Boyarsky

The Afghanistan war, along with Iraq, has become a chronic illness that America has learned to ignore.

News of the sick economy, natural and human-made disasters and momentary sensations like the Tiger Woods sex scandal flashes across cable news screens and the Internet, leaving hardly any space for the war. Financially strapped news organizations employ few of the talented war correspondents who could bring the conflicts to the public’s attention, as an earlier generation of journalists did with Vietnam. At home, the anti-war movement is barely covered. In late March, neither Afghanistan nor Iraq made the top 10 stories on cable, network television or online news, and they finished in seventh place among newspapers.

As a result, peace candidates such as Southern California’s Marcy Winograd find it difficult to break through the news media clutter to reach the public. And the nation is denied a debate on an Afghanistan war that has lasted eight years.

Winograd is a Democratic anti-war insurgent challenging Rep. Jane Harman, who supports President Obama’s war policy and voted for the resolution authorizing the Iraq war. They are competing in a district that has long reflected middle-class views. It reaches from Los Angeles suburbs through beach cities and inland cities. Harman represented the district from 1993 to 1998, when she ran for governor and lost, and was elected to the seat again in 2000. Her personal wealth and campaign contributions make it a tough race for a challenger like Winograd.

Winograd ran against Harman in 2006 and lost by a big margin. She says she lost badly because she entered the race too late. This time, she started early. There’s much that separates them in politics, policies and personality. Most important, if Winograd were to upset Harmon or even come close, it would be a sure sign of Democratic discontent with the president’s stand on Afghanistan.

Winograd told me she would have voted for Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s resolution forcing Obama to withdraw troops within 30 days of passage of the Kucinich measure.

“We should start bringing our troops home and ending the air war,” she said. She added that she would have conditioned her vote on a provision that the nation also “invest resources in … bringing peace and prosperity” to Afghanistan. “We have a commitment to invest in the country and not to simply say we are done, period,” she said.

Harman, chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, voted against the resolution, although she had previously opposed Obama’s decision to increase the number of troops in Afghanistan. “Like Mr. Kucinich, I want the United States out of Afghanistan at the earliest reasonable date,” she said during the debate on his resolution. “But accelerating the Obama administration’s carefully calibrated timetable could take grievous risks with our national security.”

The Kucinich resolution provided a rare debate on the war. It was defeated 356 to 65 on March 11, as expected. But, as Julian E. Barnes observed in his story in The Los Angeles Times, “antiwar lawmakers welcomed the debate as a chance to express pent-up frustration with the continued buildup in Afghanistan, and to express their view that the original mission of U.S. forces, defeating Al Qaeda, had been lost.”

We Americans are ready for such a debate. And there is plenty of discontent around the country. A Quinnipiac University poll in April showed only 49 percent of those surveyed approved of Obama’s handling of the war, while 39 percent disapproved. A CNN/Opinion Research survey found that 48 percent favored the war and 49 percent opposed it.

“Our country is deeply polarized,” Winograd said in an interview with the Tehran Times. “I wish our president had immediately used his victory, his political capital, to fight for transformative change, a transition from a permanent war economy to a new green economy,” she told the Iranian newspaper. “In the end, one man can’t make change all by himself; there needs to be a movement on the streets.”

Winograd also disagrees with the administration and the Jewish establishment on Israel. She told the Tehran Times, “I am a non-Zionist Jew who believes in equality and dignity for all in the Middle East. I hope my candidacy and convictions will give courage and strength to others who dare to question.”

In my interview with her, she said, “I’m not a Zionist. I am a realist, though. I support two states, [or] one state, whatever incarnation will put an end to the misery and suffering on both sides.”

We need a public debate on these issues, and Winograd is forcing one, at least in her corner of California. Scattered peace candidates are doing the same in other parts of the country.

Search them out. Give them a hand—or a few dollars. Bug the news media for attention. Guilt-trip the media bosses. Nag the reporters. It has worked for the tea party. Why not try it for a good cause? Otherwise, the United States will continue to be mired in this fruitless war.

Islamophobia – Now in American Children’s Textbooks?

April 20, 2010

Middle East Online, April19, 2010

True, the demonizing of Arabs and Muslims in America began well before the terrible tragedy of September 11, 2001 but, what is new post-9/11, is that now demonizing Muslims and Islam is not only more widespread but also considerably more mainstream and respectable. In short, Muslim-bashing has become socially acceptable in the United States, notes Abdus Sattar Ghazali.
As if the adult media’s vitriol wasn’t enough, the seven-million strong American Muslim community, is now being faced by the alarming publication of a series of ‘children’s books’, containing misleading and inflammatory rhetoric about the Islamic faith. The 10-book series – entitled the “World of Islam,” – is published by Mason Crest Publishing in collaboration with the Philadelphia-based pro-Israel and pro-war Foreign Policy Research Institute.

Anti-Islamic sentiment pervades the entire series, portraying Muslims as inherently violent and deserving suspicion. It encourages young readers to believe Muslims are terrorists, who seek to undermine US society.

Continues >>

Israeli Settlements: What Are They, Really?

March 24, 2010

Richard Greener, The Huffington Post, March 24, 2010

As citizens of the United States, whose government provides essential support to the State of Israel and also supports a two-state settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we must ask ourselves this important question: If we were Palestinians could we start our own nation in 2010 while 500,000 citizens of another country occupy our land and could we agree to watch helplessly as they grow in number to almost two million before the year 2050?

Americans know that the issue of Israeli settlements is an obstacle in the way of Middle East peace. But do we properly comprehend what Israeli settlements really are?

Continues >>

Israel and American Aid

March 24, 2010
by Ralph Nader, CommonDreams.org, March 23, 2010

On July 10, 1996, at a Joint Session of the United States Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received a standing ovation for these words: “With America’s help, Israel has grown to be a powerful, modern state. …But I believe there can be no greater tribute to America’s long-standing economic aid to Israel than for us to be able to say: we are going to achieve economic independence. We are going to do it. In the next four years, we will begin the long-term process of gradually reducing the level of your generous economic assistance to Israel.”

Continues >>

Mercenary Soldiers on Sale… Who’s In Charge of These Hired Killers?

March 23, 2010

Eric S. Margolis, Khaleej Times Online, March 22, 2010

A fascinating scandal has erupted in Washington over the use of mercenaries (‘private contractors’ in US terminology) that is exposing the dark underbelly of America’s foreign wars. It has been that the Pentagon and other US intelligence agencies secretly fielded mercenaries in Afghanistan, Pakistan (aka “Af-Pak”), and Iraq to assassinate tribal militants.

US law forbids murder or using mercenaries.  But, as the Roman jurist Cicero said, “laws are silent in times of war.”

A former senior Pentagon official specialising in clandestine operations, Mike Furlong, set up a shell company, International Media Ventures (IMV), to supposedly provide the US military with “cultural information” about Afghanistan’s Pashtun tribes.  Two obscure Pentagon outfits, the “Cultural Engineering Group” in Florida, and “Counter-Narco-terrorism Technology Programme” of Virginia funded Furlong with $24.6 million. Furlong hired a bunch of former Special Forces types and assorted thugs. These rent-a-Rambos’s real mission was to assassinate Pashtun leaders in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and target tribal compounds for strikes by US Predator drones. Welcome to the modern version of the Mafia’s infamous contract killers, “Murder Inc.”

Thickening this plot, retired CIA types, including the flamboyant Dewey Clarridge, whom I well recall from the 1980’s Afghan war, were involved. So were other would-be bounty-hunters, eager to cash in one the Pentagon’s cash bonanza. It is uncertain if Furlong’s Murder Inc had time to go operational.  But its exposure is causing uproar.  In best US government tradition, the Pentagon denied backing Furlong and cut him adrift. He is now under criminal investigation. Shades of former CIA agent Edwin Wilson, whose frightful case I long followed. Wilson was set up as a deniable “independent” by CIA to supply arms and explosives to Libya and Angola in the 1980’s. When this intrigue blew wide open, Wilson was kidnapped by US agents and buried alive in federal prison for 27 years.

The Furlong scandal comes at a time of growing criticism of the US government’s use of over 275,000 mercenaries in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.   These hired gunmen and logistics personnel operate without any accountability, legal structure, or oversight. Lack of command and control of such free-lancers infuriates traditional military men, who detest US Special Forces and these hired gunmen as ‘cowboys.’

It certainly is no way to win over Muslim hearts and minds.

Private mercenary firms like Xe (formerly Blackwater) and DynCorp have raked in fortunes running private armies for the US. They are major donors to the far right of the Republican Party. Deeply worried civil libertarians call these private armies potential Brownshirts, after the Nazi Party’s private army in the late 1920’s.

Amazingly, US Special Forces in Af-Pak have not until this month been under the control of supreme commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal. They apparently reported to his rival, Central Command chief Gen. David Petraeus in Tampa, Florida.

To the Pentagons’s anger, CIA runs its own killer paramilitary units and drone assassination operations, 90 per cent of whose victims are civilians, according to Pakistani media investigations.   CIA’s paramilitaries report only to HQ in Langley —which does not talk to the Pentagon. Pakistan’s feeble government is not even informed in advance of Predator strikes and assassinations on its own territory.   How many of the 15 other US intelligence agencies and NATO forces are running their own little illegal private armies? US mercenaries are responsible for a growing number of civilian deaths. It’s only a matter of time before all these cowboys begin shooting at one another.  Reliable sources in Pakistan report that US-paid mercenaries are staging bombings there and in Afghanistan in an attempt to incite popular anger against Islamic or tribal militants, and draw Pakistan’s army deep into the fray.

Washington brands all Al Qaeda and Taleban “illegal combatants,” denying them due process of law and the Geneva Convention’s prisoner protections.  Murdering or torturing such “terrorists,” says Washington, is lawful.  So what about all the US mercenary Rambos running amok, who wear no uniform, kill at will, and have no legal oversight and, as we saw in Iraq, get away with murder?

Eric Margolis is a veteran US journalist who reported from the Middle East and Asia for nearly two decades

Wars sending United States into ruin

February 10, 2010

by Eric Margolis, Toronto Sun/Canada, Feb 10, 2010

U.S. President Barack Obama calls the $3.8-trillion US budget he just sent to Congress a major step in restoring America’s economic health.

In fact, it’s another potent fix given to a sick patient deeply addicted to the dangerous drug – debt.

More empires have fallen because of reckless finances than invasion. The latest example was the Soviet Union, which spent itself into ruin by buying tanks.

Continues >>

Howard Zinn, historian who challenged status quo, dies at 87

January 28, 2010

By Mark Feeney and Bryan Marquard, The Boston Globe, Jan 27, 2010

Howard Zinn, the Boston University historian and political activist who was an early opponent of US involvement in Vietnam and whose books, such as “A People’s History of the United States,” inspired young and old to rethink the way textbooks present the American experience, died today in Santa Monica, Calif, where he was traveling. He was 87.

His daughter, Myla Kabat-Zinn of Lexington, said he suffered a heart attack.

Continues >>

From the River to the Sea

November 13, 2009

By Gilad Atzmon, Information Clearing House, Nov. 12, 2009

Let’s once and for all stop getting excited about America mounting pressure on Israel to  freeze West Bank settlements. The entire fascination with the topic is a product of  Zionist spin. It is there to divert attention from the root cause of the conflict: The robbery of Palestine and Palestinians in the name of a ‘Jewish home coming’. The call to stop Israeli construction in the West Bank is there to leave us with the false impression that the robbery of Palestine started in 1967. The facts are known to many of us, but not to all. The vast majority of Palestinians were expelled from their towns, villages, fields and orchards in 1948.

What seems as an American peace initiative putting pressure on Israel to halt its expansion into the West Bank is in fact an agenda that is promoted by Zionists within the US Administration who realise like the late Sharon, that the only chance for the Jewish state to survive the next decade, is to shrink into a little Jewish shtetle (ghetto). The Two state solution is indeed the last effort to keep Zionism alive.

Netanyahu is far from being stupid. He understands it all. He knows that his Zionist Revisionist father’s dream of ‘greater Eretz Yisrael’ is unattainable.

Haaretz reported today that the Israeli PM admitted in Washington that he was committed to ‘two states living side by side’. However, he stressed that the “the right of Palestinian refugees to return to the homes from which they were expelled, would not be on the table.” Seemingly, an Israeli hawkish PM is voluntarily confronting the Israeli original sin namely the expulsion of the vast majority of the Palestinians people. However, the fact that he insists that it won’t be ‘on the table’ can only mean that it is on the  table already.  “They”, continues Netanyahu, “must abandon the fantasy of flooding Israel with refugees, give up irredentist * claims to the Negev and Galilee, and declare unequivocally that the conflict is finally over”.

Clearly, Netanyahu expresses here a wish that is shared by most if not all Israelis. They all dream to open their eyes in the morning just to find out that all Goyim, Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims just left the region.

I am here to advise Netanyahu and every Israeli who is willing to listen that this is not going to happen. As much as being flooded by ‘refugee’ Palestinians is a deep Israeli nightmare, it is far from being a Palestinian fantasy. It is actually a reality waiting to happen. Israel has lost its opportunity to reconcile with its neighbours. It failed to settle its conflict with the indigenous people of the land. The fate of Israel will be determined by ‘facts on the ground’ namely demography. In terms of reconciliation, Israel has past the no return Zone. Its fate is doomed. One Palestine from the river to the sea is not any more a matter of ‘if’ but rather a question of ‘when’.

Unlike most Israelis who dismiss the Palestinian cause, Netanyahu admitted today that Palestinians were indeed expelled. For the first time Palestinians’ “irredentist claims” are being addressed by an Israeli PM. And yet, Netanyahu should stop deluding himself and his people. It is not just the Negev and Galilee. It is actually every piece of land between the river and the sea: Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Haifa, Be’er Sheva and every village, orchard, field, river and tree in between. The only question that is left open is how long will it take for the Shekel to drop? How long will it take before Israelis grasp that they dwell on stolen land? How long will it take before the Israelis realise that the battle is lost? How long will it take for the Israelis to internalise the obvious fact that they have once again managed to get on the wrong side of their Neighbours?

*Irredentist: One who advocates the recovery of territory culturally or historically.