Posts Tagged ‘terror’

The Terror Card: Fear is the Key to Obedience

February 1, 2010

The Terrorism Industrial Complex (TIC)

By Rev. Richard Skaff

Global Research
, January 31, 2010

Webster’s dictionary defines terrorism as the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion. [1].

However, the United States code defined terrorism as “(An) act of terrorism means an activity that (A) involves a violent act or an act dangerous to human life that is a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or any State, or that would be a criminal violation if committed within the jurisdiction of the United States or of any state, and (B) appears to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population: (ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by assassination or kidnapping.” [2].

Continued >>

Terror is the price of support for despots and dictators

January 7, 2010

Egypt’s complicity in the Gaza’s siege underlines the role of western support for such regimes in the spread of war

Seumas Milne, The Guardian/UK, Jan 7, 2010

An an 85-year-old Holocaust survivor had gone on hunger strike in support of a besieged people in another part of the world, and hundreds of mostly western protesters had been stoned and beaten by police, you can be sure we’d have heard all about it. But because that is what’s been happening in western-backed Egypt, rather than Iran, and the people the protesters are supporting are the Palestinians of Gaza instead of, say, Tibetans, most people in Europe and north America know nothing about it.

For the last fortnight, two groups of hundreds of activists have been battling with Egyptian police and officials to cross into the Gaza Strip to show solidarity with the blockaded population on the first anniversary of Israel’s devastating onslaught. Last night, George Galloway’s Viva Palestina 500-strong convoy of medical aid was finally allowed in, minus 50 of its 200 vehicles, after being repeatedly blocked, diverted and intimidated by Egyptian security – including a violent assault in the Egyptian port of El Arish on Tuesday night which left dozens injured, despite the participation of one British and 10 Turkish MPs.

That followed an attempted “Gaza freedom march” by 1,400 protesters from more than 40 countries, only 84 of whom were allowed across the border – which is what led Hedy Epstein, both of whose parents died in Auschwitz, to refuse food in Cairo, as the group’s demonstrations were violently broken up and Israel’s prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu was feted nearby. Yesterday, demonstrations by Palestinians on the Gazan side of the border against the harassment of the aid convoy led to violent clashes with Egyptian security forces in which an Egyptian soldier was killed and many Palestinians injured.

But although the confrontation has been largely ignored in the west, it has been a major media event in the Middle East which has only damaged Egypt. And while the Egyptian government claims it is simply upholding its national sovereignty, the saga has instead starkly exposed its complicity in the US- and European-backed blockade of Gaza and the collective punishment of its one and a half million people.

The main protagonist of the siege, Israel, controls only three sides of the Strip. Without Egypt, which polices the fourth, it would be ineffective. But, having tolerated the tunnels that have saved Gazans from utter beggary, the Cairo regime is now building a deep underground steel wall – known as the “wall of shame” to many Egyptians – under close US supervision, to make the blockade complete.

That’s partly because the ageing Egyptian dictator, Hosni Mubarak, fears cross-border contamination from Gaza’s elected Hamas administration, whose ideological allies in the banned Muslim Brotherhood would be likely to win free elections in Egypt.

But two other factors seem to have been decisive in convincing Cairo to bend to American and Israeli pressure and close the vice on Gaza’s Palestinians, along with those who support them. The first was a US threat to cut hundreds of millions of dollars of aid unless it cracked down on arms and other smuggling. The second is the need for US acquiescence in the widely expected hereditary succession of Mubarak’s ex-banker son, Gamal, to the presidency. So, far from protecting its sovereignty, the Egyptian government has sold it for continued foreign subsidy and despotic dynastic rule, sacrificing any pretence to its historic role of Arab leadership in the process.

From the wider international perspective, it is precisely this western embrace of repressive and unrepresentative regimes such as Egypt’s, along with unwavering backing for Israel’s occupation and colonisation of Palestinian land, that is at the heart of the crisis in the Middle East and Muslim world.

Decades of oil-hungry backing for despots, from Iran to Oman, Egypt to Saudi Arabia, along with the failure of Arab nationalism to complete the decolonisation of the region, fuelled first the rise of Islamism and then the eruption of al-Qaida-style terror more than a decade ago. But, far from addressing the natural hostility to foreign control of the area and its resources at the centre of the conflict, the disastrous US-led response was to expand the western presence still further, with new and yet more destructive invasions and occupations, in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. And the Bush administration’s brief flirtation with democratisation in client states such as Egypt was quickly abandoned once it became clear who was likely to be elected.

The poisonous logic of this imperial quagmire is now leading inexorably to the spread of war under Barack Obama. Following the failed bomb attack of a Detroit-bound flight on Christmas Day, the US president this week announced two new fronts in the war on terror, faithfully echoed by Gordon Brown: Yemen, where the would-be bomber was allegedly trained; and Somalia, where al-Qaida has also put down roots in the swamp of chronic civil war and social disintegration.

Greater western military intervention in both countries will certainly make the problem worse. In Somalia, it has already done so, after the US-backed Ethiopian invasion of 2006 overthrew the relatively pragmatic Islamic Courts Union and spawned the more extreme, al-Qaida-linked Shabab movement, now in control of large parts of the country. Increased US backing for the unpopular Yemeni government, already facing armed rebellion in the north and the threat of secession from the restive south – which only finally succeeded in forcing out British colonial rule in 1967 – is bound to throw petrol on the flames.

The British prime minister tried this week to claim that the growth of al-Qaida in Yemen and Somalia showed western strategy was “working”, because the escalation of the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan had forced it to look for sanctuaries elsewhere. In reality, it is a measure of the grotesque failure of the entire war on terror. Since its launch in October 2001, al-Qaida has spread from the mountains of Afghanistan across the region, to Iraq, Pakistan, the horn of Africa, and far beyond.

Instead of scaling down the western support for dictatorship and occupation that fuels al-Qaida-style terror, and concentrating resources on police action to counter it, the US and its allies have been drawn inexorably into repeating and extending the monstrosities that sparked it in the first place. It’s the recipe for a war on terror without end.

The New York Times and the Gaza crisis: Israeli war propaganda in the guise of news

January 14, 2009
By Tom Eley |World Socialist Web Site,  13 January 2009

The New York Times is the leading media organ of US liberalism and is closely aligned to the Democratic Party. In recent days it has planted a series of propaganda pieces disguised as news articles, which aim to justify Israel’s war crimes in Gaza.

These articles appear in the context of worldwide revulsion at the criminal methods Israel is using in the densely populated Gaza strip, home to 1.4 million people. So far, more than 900 Palestinians have been killed, about half of them civilians, and thousands more have been wounded in an Israeli air, sea and ground assault that is utilizing advanced weapons supplied by the United States against a virtually defenseless population.

On January 9, the New York Times published a brief article on its front page, “Fighter Sees His Paradise in Gaza’s Pain,” written by Taghreed El-Khodary, reporting from Gaza. The article describes a horrific scene of suffering and death in the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City. But it focuses on a wounded fighter for Islamic Jihad, who is depicted as welcoming the killing of Palestinian civilians as a form of martyrdom and a boon to his organization’s aims. According to El-Khodary, this shows “the way ordinary people are squeezed between suicidal fighters and a military behemoth.”

What cynicism! The article feigns sympathy for the Palestinian victims of Israeli mass murder in order to suggest that any resistance to the perpetrators is illegitimate.

The population of Gaza is not being “squeezed” between Israel and those who are fighting its onslaught. As more and more evidence makes clear, the Palestinians are the target—not the “collateral damage”—of a campaign of bloodletting and collective punishment designed to terrorize the population.

In a January 11 article by Steven Erlanger entitled “A Gaza War Full of Traps and Trickery,” the Times offers a more elaborate defense of the war crimes Israel has already perpetrated—and others that will follow.

The article’s first full paragraph lays out the argument: “Hamas, with training from Iran and Hezbollah, has used the last two years to turn Gaza into a deadly maze of tunnels, booby traps and sophisticated roadside bombs. Weapons are hidden in mosques, schoolyards and civilian houses, and the leadership’s war room is a bunker beneath Gaza’s largest hospital, Israeli intelligence officials say.” (Emphasis added.)

The Times serves up, as if it were uncontestable fact, Israel’s unsubstantiated claims that the “mosques, schoolyards, and civilian houses” which it continues to destroy—killing hundreds of civilians in the process—double as weapons stores, and therefore deserve to be destroyed, civilian casualties notwithstanding.

Even were Israel’s assertions of weapons stores true, from the standpoint of international law, not to mention an elementary respect for human life, this would not justify the deliberate bombing of civilian targets. Where, in any case, are the Palestinians supposed to place their weapons? Perhaps Erlanger thinks they should be stored in a clearly labeled warehouse. Or, more to the point, that the Palestinians should be totally and permanently disarmed.

Erlanger’s claim that the Gaza leadership is hiding in a “bunker beneath Gaza’s largest hospital” is especially chilling. He is all but justifying, a priori, the bombing of the hospital, where the maimed and dying are receiving desperately inadequate care due to Israel’s blockade and its targeting of ambulances, medical supplies and personnel. Do Erlanger’s unnamed sources in “Israeli intelligence” already have plans to destroy the hospital?

The article similarly presents as fact Israeli claims that Hamas has “training from Iran and Hezbollah.” The newspaper chooses not to point out that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) possess some of the most deadly military hardware in the world, courtesy of $3 billion in annual funding from Washington.

Erlanger then notes that Hamas militants are “unwilling to … come into the open” and are “fighting in civilian clothes; even the police have been ordered to take off their uniforms.”

Here the implicit argument is that the IDF’s killing of civilians, as well as its mass arrest of the male portion of the Palestinian population, to which Erlanger refers in passing, is justified because Palestinian fighters do not don uniforms and present themselves to the Israelis to be executed. Once again, the author fails to note that in the first hours of the Israeli attack, all Gazans wearing the uniforms of police or security personnel were targeted by missiles and bombs.

To bolster the Israeli lie that Hamas is responsible for the mounting toll of death and destruction in Gaza because it uses civilians as “human shields,” Erlanger cites “an Israeli journalist embedded with Israeli troops” to claim that “in one apartment building in Zeitoun, in northern Gaza, Hamas set an inventive, deadly trap,” placing “a mannequin in the hallway off the building’s main entrance.” He continues: “They hoped to draw fire from Israeli soldiers who might, through the blur of night vision goggles and split-second decisions, mistake the figure for a fighter. The mannequin was rigged to explode and bring down the building.”

Leaving aside the credibility of Erlanger’s source, what is the implication of this tale? Clearly, that Hamas is deliberately luring Israeli soldiers into blowing up apartment buildings and unwittingly causing civilian casualties.

The author then identifies the Israeli journalist as Ron Ben-Yishai, “a senior military correspondent for the newspaper Yediot Aharonot.” Erlanger does not let on that Ron Ben-Yishai is a right-wing journalist with longstanding ties to the IDF and the Likud Party.

The author’s choice of Zeitoun is no accident. In the neighborhood south of Gaza City, the IDF rounded up an extended family, forced it into a building at gun point and fired missiles on the building, killing at least 70 people—all civilians, mostly women and children. Then, for four days, the Israelis refused to allow the International Red Cross access to the neighborhood and stood by, offering no assistance to the dying. As aid workers finally made their way to the neighborhood during Israel’s three-hour pause in bombardment, they found unspeakable scenes of human suffering, including four young children, half-dead, clinging to the corpses of their mothers (see: Gaza: The massacre in Zeitoun)

Erlanger continues: “Israeli officials say that they are obeying the rules of war and trying hard not to hurt noncombatants but that Hamas is using civilians as human shields in the expectation that Israel will try to avoid killing them.

“Israeli press officers call the tactics of Hamas cynical, illegal and inhumane; even Israel’s critics agree that Hamas’s regular use of rockets to fire at civilians in Israel, and its use of civilians as shields in Gaza, are also violations of the rules of war.”

In reference to the now infamous IDF bombing of a schoolhouse and UN refuge in Jabalya, which killed more than 40 people, Erlanger writes: “The Israelis said they returned fire in response to mortar shells fired at Israeli troops [claims that have been rejected outright by the UN and other observers]. Such an action is legal…”

He goes on to hedge somewhat his legal brief for this particular war crime, adding that “there are questions about whether the force used was proportional under the laws of war, given the danger to noncombatants.” In fact, under international law, what the IDF did would be a crime even if its story about mortar shells were true, because such a grossly disproportionate response is illegal.

On the same day as Erlanger’s article, the Times’ public editor, Clark Hoyt, wrote a column citing complaints of biased reporting from both pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian readers. Noting in passing, without comment or criticism, Israeli censorship of the war, including a total ban on reporters entering Gaza, he concluded with a complacent and self-satisfied: “The Times … has tried its best to do a fair, balanced and complete job—and has largely succeeded.”

The New York Times’ dishonest and cynical defense of Israel’s slaughter in Gaza is a measure of its own moral and political degeneration and that of US liberalism as a whole. It underscores the complicity of the entire American media, liberal and conservative, in war crimes.

Bush’s Follies Will Destroy Obama If He Lets Them

November 28, 2008
Truthdig, Nov 25, 2008
USAF / Staff Sgt. Samuel Rogers

By William Pfaff

One might think that if Barack Obama believes he can make a success of his new administration by largely reconstituting the Clinton administration, Hillary Clinton included, he should know better than to take on the reckless ambitions and commitments of the George W. Bush administration as well: the government that gave America the Mideast and Asian crises, blunders and humiliations of the past 6 1/2 years.

The world has witnessed a futile, destructive and illegal American invasion of Iraq, a war conducted on false pretenses, supposedly against terrorists, accompanied by worldwide actions that have made American policy in Bush’s “global war on terror” seem to many Muslims an attack on Islamic society itself.

Obama is now taking on the quasi-impossible tasks of bringing to a successful and responsible conclusion the Bush government’s wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, as well as what shows signs of becoming another military intervention of grave and unforeseeable consequences in Pakistan. He is doing so without challenging the assumptions and goals of Bush administration policy.

It has been the mindset of the Bush administration—and, unfortunately, of much of the neoconservative-influenced foreign policy establishment in Washington—that international society’s problems are reducible to wars that American armies will win. They are wrong on both counts. But some still argue that this is the way to a better and more democratic world.

Obama has no choice but to accept responsibility for these American crises. But why should he accept them on the distorted and even hysterical terms by which the Bush administration has defined world affairs since 2001?

Iraq has been a victim of the United States. Washington had no legal or moral justification for invading the country and destroying its infrastructure, killing an uncounted number of Iraqis and displacing half a million or more to ruined lives while setting off the sectarian conflicts that have wracked the country since 2003.

There is a heavy American responsibility to do no more harm, however well-intentioned. The present volatile situation in the country is for the moment a largely political shoving match between the divided and possibly ephemeral Shiite government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his rivals, who include the Shiite radicals of Muqtada al-Sadr, and the Sunni, and largely ex-Baathist, Awakening Movement, sponsored by the U.S. Army to defend Sunni tribal regions against the foreigners of the fundamentalist al-Qaida. In addition, are the two Kurdish movements that together control, and plan to make independent and permanent, a Kurdistan nation incorporating—if they have their way—the oil-rich Kirkuk region.

One can make the political—and moral—argument that as the American invasion is responsible for the Iraqi upheaval, Washington should somehow settle it. The answer is that it’s impossible for Americans to do so. The U.S. cannot do it by continued military occupation and intervention in the country’s affairs.

Only the Iraqis themselves can settle this, and doing so may entail even more religious and ethnic struggle. The neighboring Shiite great power, Iran, will play its cards in the country. The Saudis will play theirs. Israel will do everything in its power to prevent an American withdrawal. All of this will probably add still more tragedies to those of the last six years, but at least the U.S. responsibility will have become only indirect, which is bad enough.

Barack Obama started off his presidential campaign by saying that he would get American troops out of Iraq by mid-2010. That was a strong, simple position that, if resolutely carried out, would make it clear to the Iraqis what they have to do to save themselves, and how long they have in which to do it.

Since the early campaign, the president-elect has been forced to qualify his position, weaken it, blur it, say that actually many U.S. troops probably will stay on, the dates may change, American involvement will continue, and so on. He has been forced back toward the Washington consensus opinion, the centrist and “responsible” position, close to the Bush opinion.

Nearly everyone is against his sticking to his original policy: The Iraq factions all plan to exploit American ambiguities to strengthen their own positions and maneuver the American command to favor them. The Kurds want time to make their proto-Kurdistan even more impregnable (while encouraging their reluctance to deal with Turkish and Iranian hostility to a sovereign Kurdistan, as well as deal realistically with their fellow Iraqis).

In Washington, the Pentagon is against withdrawal on Obama’s terms. It still wants permanent bases in Iraq. It claims Obama’s timetable is logistically impossible. The Republicans will shout “treason” and “betrayal.” American oil companies and the corporations that are already part of the occupation, as well as those that have big ambitions for moving into an American-secured Iraq, will demand that the U.S. stay.

All this must be resisted if Obama is to be his own man. He has to rid himself of George Bush’s folly. He must make Iraq truly independent. If he doesn’t, it could destroy his administration.

Visit William Pfaff’s Web site at

© 2008 Tribune Media Services Inc.

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