Category Archives: U.S. Politics
In May of this year, the United States violated an international agreement made with Russia, China, France, Germany, the European Union and Iran when it withdrew from the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). The thrust of this agreement, which was certified by the United Nations, regulated Iran’s nuclear development program in exchange for the lifting of international sanctions against that country.
The U.S. had included domestically that the president must certify to Congress every six months that Iran was in compliance, based on the findings of U.N. inspectors. During the last year of Barack Obama’s presidency, he advised Congress officially that Iran was in compliance.
During President Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency, he often maligned the JCPOA, calling it the ‘worst deal ever’ and vowing to withdraw from it. Despite the pleas of the other nations that are a party to the JCPOA, he finally did so, after certifying compliance during the first year of his administration.
It must be noted that Trump didn’t withdraw as a result of any violation of the terms by Iran; U.N. inspectors, and the other nations involved, all agree that Iran is in complete compliance. It is the U.S., not Iran, that has violated the terms of the agreement.
As a result, the U.S. is re-imposing the sanctions that were to have been lifted with the signing of the agreement. On June 6, 2018, a lengthy article by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform – Subcommittee on National Security, was released, entitled, Protecting America from a Bad Deal: Ending U.S. Participation in the Nuclear Agreement. In it, the writers describe how it was non-binding on the U.S., and ending it was necessary for U.S. national security.
These fictions, put into a slick presentation, do not change the fact that they are fictions. An international agreement entered into by the United States, as represented by the president, is binding. If this was a bad deal, it was only so for Iran, since the U.S. was not bound to remove the sanctions it issued, despite what the deal said. So while the other nations involved were honest and direct, the U.S., as is its custom, was not.
In proposing additional sanctions, this document once again singles out the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order (EIKO). In establishing this organization, the Ayatollah said this: “I’m concerned about solving problems of the deprived classes of the society. For instance, solve problems of 1000 villages completely. How good would be if 1000 points of the country are solved or 1000 schools are built in the country; prepare this organization for this purpose.”
Well, is it any wonder that a society that has an ever-increasing poor population would resent another society that seeks to help the poor? By sanctioning the EIKO, the U.S. will only succeed in doing what it does best: hurting innocent people.
The rationale behind this seems to be that if things get bad enough in Iran due to U.S. sanctions, the people of Iran will rise up against their own government. This underestimates the Iranian people; again, such behavior is typical for U.S. government officials. It is, and will continue to be, clear to the people of Iran that it is not their government that is causing them problems; rather, it is the same government that supported the brutal regime of the Shah until a popular movement overthrew him.
One paragraph from the U.S. document mentioned above is instructive:
“Regular briefings by Treasury Department officials to review potential sanctions targets, including companies owned or controlled by the IRGC and Iran’s defense industry (which represent 20 percent of the total market capitalization of the Tehran Stock Exchange) and the supreme leader’s $200-billion business conglomerate, including EIKO and the bonyads (charitable trusts) where the mullahs store their money.”
Apparently, the U.S., which is so concerned about its national security that it spends more on its military than the next eight countries combined, and which is currently bombing seven countries, and attempting to destabilize at least three others, wants to deprive Iran, a country that hasn’t invaded another country since 1798 (yes that is 220 years ago), of its means of defense. The IRGC, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, is a highly-respected military organization responsible for, among other things, protecting the nation from outside forces.
Additionally, without any supporting evidence, the article states that Iran’s Supreme Leader has a “$200 billion dollar business conglomerate”, and states that the EIKO is part of it! The EIKO is an independent charitable organization.
Finally, in just this one short paragraph, the writers say that the mullahs store their money in charitable trusts. Would not these writers perhaps want to look a little closer to home, to see the way former President Bill Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, use their ‘charitable organization’ for their own purposes?
A resent ‘tweet’ by one Mark Dubowitz reads the following:
It’s delusional to believe there’s legitimate business with regime & its instrumentalities including Iranian financial sector, other strategic sectors dominated by the IRGC, EIKO, foundations & other malign actors. CBI governor used his central bank to finance QF!
The effort is to erase the difference between legitimate and corrupt business links, and to make all business with #Iran illegal. Economic warfare, in other words. https://twitter.com/mdubowitz/status/1000058822768189443 …
But where is his evidence? Couldn’t one say, in reference to the U.S., that “it’s delusional to believe” there’s any legitimate reason for bombing seven countries, caging children, prevented Muslims from travelling to the U.S., and a myriad of other activities? Isn’t it ‘delusional’ to spend more on the military than that of the next eight countries combined? Is there a ‘legitimate’ reason to have nearly 1,000 military bases across the globe, including several surrounding Iran?
The U.S. will continue to malign Iran and its democratically-elected government, despite the fact that the U.S. is an oligarchy, so far removed from being a democracy that it’s farcical to refer to it as such. It will attempt to destabilize Iran through interference in its internal workings; fortunately, the IRGC is strong, and will defeat such attempts. The U.S. may even invade Iran at Israel’s insistence, regardless of the disaster that that would be for Israel, the U.S. and much of the world.
But for now, the mighty U.S., a world power with declining international influence, will attempt to strong-arm its allies to mirror its own actions, and violate the JCPOA. Thus far, those allies are not in agreement, and are encouraging continued and expanded trade with Iran. For the good of Iran and the world, it is hoped that they, and not the U.S., prevail.
The United Nations has been busy attempting, with little efficacy, to address Israeli violence toward Palestine. On June 1, ten members of the Security Council voted in favor of a resolution that would have helped protect Palestinians from Israeli violence, and would have criticized that violence. Four members abstained, and the United States, of course, vetoed the resolution. Later that same day, the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., the incompetent and clown-like Nikki Haley, introduced legislation that would have condemned Hamas for its purported violence. The only nation that voted to support that resolution was the United States; this may have been the first time in U.N. history that a resolution was introduced in the Security Council that gained only a single vote, and that by the nation that introduced it.
On the very day that the U.S. opened its embassy to Israel in Jerusalem, in defiance of nearly the entire international community, Israel killed at least 60 unarmed Palestinian protestors. Haley has made a variety of statements concerning the protests, which are worth examining. We will look at just a few here.
“Those who suggest the violence has anything to do with the embassy in Jerusalem is sorely mistaken….”
Palestinians have been protesting at the border since March, demanding that they be granted the internationally-recognized right of return; this means that those Palestinians who were driven from their homes at any time since the Nakba (catastrophe; the expulsion of three-quarters of a million Palestinians and the slaughter of thousands more to establish the ‘nation’ of Israel) have the legal right to return to their homes, or be compensated for the loss if the homes are no longer standing. The protestors planned to culminate their protest on the day that the U.S. violated international law and opened its embassy in Jerusalem. On that day, Israelis killed dozens and dozens of unarmed protestors. The violence perpetrated by Israel upon defenseless Palestinians is very much connected with the embassy move. The source of that violence is Israel.
“…rather it comes from people who will not accept Israel in any part of Israel.”
One must ask if Haley has absolutely no concept of reality. Does she really believe this? Does she think that Palestinians are living in freedom and prosperity, but demonstrate against Israel because they “will not accept Israel in any part of Israel”? It isn’t even that Palestinians will not accept Israel in any part of Palestine. It is that Palestinians will not accept a brutal occupation; the continuing demolition of their homes and theft of their lands. They will not accept arrests and long detentions of men, women and children without charge. They will not accept being denied access to their own farmlands for planting and harvesting; they will not accept countless checkpoints, arbitrarily opened and closed by Israeli soldier-terrorists. They will not accept rationing their water, while Israel accesses Palestinian water sources to fill their swimming pools. They will not accept electricity for only a few hours a day, because Israel has bombed their power plants.
“They light kites to cause as much destruction as possible.”
If it were possible for anyone to take Haley seriously before, surely she is now dismissed universally as an ignorant buffoon. Palestinians are lighting fire to “kites to cause as much destruction as possible.” This is in response to Israeli sharpshooters, shooting medics who are clearly marked as such. Flaming kites are in response to drones, tear gas, sniper fire and all the violence that Israel seems to take such pleasure in raining down on the Palestinians. Does Haley believe that the sight of a burning kite causes mass terror among Israeli soldiers? Does she believe that the entire city of Tel Aviv is in grave dangers, because a kite that has been set on fire approaches, or even crosses, Israel’s border?
Does she not see that Palestinians might feel terror when, in the West Bank, Israeli soldiers break into their homes at any hour of the day or night, ransack and loot them, and carry away all the males over the age of 12? Does she have no empathy or sympathy for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip whose homes are periodically bombed by Israel? Does she feel nothing for those who flee to clearly-marked United Nations refugee centers, only to be bombed there? Has she no compassion when Israeli soldiers attempt to arrest children under the age of ten?
Is she without any knowledge of international law, human rights, or even basic human decency?
The world has grown tired of all this, even if Israel and the U.S. seem to relish it. While the recent resolution passed by the General Assembly is non-binding, it does serve to further tarnish Israel’s already blackened reputation, and further isolate it, and the United States, on the world stage.
Sadly, however, the worldwide condemnation of Israel changes nothing on the ground for Palestinians. In the Gaza Strip, Palestinians still live in abject poverty; they are unable to export their goods, or import much needed building and medical supplies. They continue to be shot at, and sometimes killed, and have their boats ‘confiscated’ (read: stolen), by Israeli terrorists, when fishing well within the internationally-recognized Palestinians waters. In the West Bank, they still must deal with checkpoints, brutal and often fatal harassment by illegal Israeli settlers, and all the horror that accompanies the actions of the brutal Israeli apartheid regime.
Change will only come for the Palestinians when the world’s people finally say ‘Enough!’. When those in the U.S. defeat elected officials who are owned by Israeli lobbies, and when either one of the two major political parties supports the Palestinians, or another party grows in sufficient strength to effectively do so.
The U.S. and Israel are losing influence in the world; the actions of their two heads of state, the erratic and delusional U.S. President Donald Trump, and the violent and racist Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, are accelerating this. Unfortunately, like a once-powerful animal that has been mortally wounded, their violence may increase in direct proportion to their waning influence. Cooler heads of state must work to prevent a worldwide catastrophe at the hands of these two rogue, violent regimes.
In the last several days, Israeli barbarity against the Palestinians has been featured in the news like never before. The U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem, in violation of international law, assisted in publicizing Israel’s crimes. It’s important to understand why this change in favor of Palestine is so important, not only for Palestinians, but for human rights and international law.
In 1948, the newly-minted United Nations gave over 50% of the nation of Palestine to establish Israel. Over 750,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes, with no decision in their own displacement, and no recompense. Thousands were killed.
Since that time, Israel has had no regard for Palestine’s borders, constantly stealing land, demolishing Palestinian homes, displacing more Palestinians, and building illegal settlements for Israelis. International law clearly states that an occupying power cannot move its citizens permanently onto the occupied territory. Yet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated clearly that not one of the over 500,000 illegal settlers will ever be removed.
In the West Bank, there are roads on which only Israelis can drive. If a newly-build Israeli road crosses one used by Palestinians, the Palestinians are not permitted to even cross it.
Palestinian farmers must obtain permission from Israel to farm their own lands. That permission is often only granted after a long waiting period, after the time for planting or harvesting has passed. When farmers are able to plant on time, their crops often rot in the fields, because Israel refuses permission to harvest them.
In Israel, there is one set of laws governing Israelis, and another governing Arabs. Penalties for crimes committed by Arabs are far more severe than those for the same crimes committed by Israelis. Palestinian children who are accused of throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers can spend 15 years in prison. Israeli soldiers, filmed shooting unarmed Palestinian teens in the back, face no consequences whatever.
The West Bank is full of checkpoints, staffed by Israelis and arbitrarily opened and closed. These arbitrary openings and closings turn what should be a short commute to school or work into an hours-long ordeal. Women in labor have been blocked from crossing, resulting in dozens of babies being born at checkpoints, without medical assistance. Many babies requiring medical attention have died because Israeli soldiers refuse to allow their mothers to take them through a checkpoint to a medical facility.
Israel has a powerful military, provided by the United States. Palestine has no army, no navy and no air force. The media is quick to report any ‘rockets’ fired into Israel by Palestine. Dr. Norman Finkelstein, son of Holocaust survivors and a strong supporter of Palestinian rights, describes those rockets as ‘enhanced fireworks’. Calling them rockets, he says, serves a purpose for both Palestine and Israel. For Palestinians, they at least feel that their government is doing something on their behalf (please remember that, according to international law, an occupied people has the right to resist the occupation in any way possible); for Israel, calling them ‘rockets’ conjures up a picture of deadly missiles raining down on defenseless people.
The facts, however, tell their own story. In the last 18 years, 242 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians. During that same time, nearly 10,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis. These tolls include 134 Israeli children, and 2,167 Palestinian children.
Much criticism is directed toward Hamas, the democratically-elected government of the Gaza Strip. The United States has decreed this to be a terrorist organization. Yet after Hamas’ election, the government in the Gaza Strip worked to improve conditions there.
Hamas is criticized for not recognizing the existence of Israel. Yet Israel has been slowly destroying Palestine for decades. Hamas does not have the power to destroy Israel, yet by ‘appropriating’ more and more Palestinian land for Israeli-only housing, Israel is slowly destroying Palestine.
Israel has blockaded the Gaza Strip since the election of Hamas. Shortly after Hamas’ electoral victory, an Israeli official describe Israel’s response: “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.” By restricting the amount of food that is able to be imported, and blocking Palestinian efforts to grow their own, Israel further oppresses the people of Palestine.
The Gaza Strip is blocked by air, sea and land, on all sides. Palestinians in Gaza wanting to visit friends or relatives in the West Bank, part of their own country, are not allowed to do so. Leaving the Strip for medical attention which isn’t available in Gaza, mainly due to Israeli restrictions on medical imports, is next to impossible.
These facts have been concealed by the U.S. and Israel for decades, partly due to the power of Israeli lobbies in the U.S. Yet as U.S. citizens learn the truth, sympathy for the Palestinians is growing. This is shown in a variety of ways. International condemnation of Israeli soldiers shooting unarmed Palestinians, even killing members of the press, is increasing. In the U.S. there is a sea change; not a single Democrat attended the recent opening of the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.
Israel’s existence as a nation is an accepted reality, despite the fact that it is only 70 years old. Palestinians, whose country predates Biblical times, fight for that same recognition. Increasingly, the world is siding with Palestine, justice, international law and human rights.
Originally published by AHTribune.
Despite the myth perpetrated by United States spokespersons, the country is not, and never has been, a beacon of peace and freedom, the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave’, or a democracy that is the envy of the word. It is, and always has been, a racist, imperialist society, an oligarchy and, as the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.
Today it is living up to violent, bloody truths that comprise its existence. We will look at just a few of the circumstance today that embody that violence.
The U.S. has just violated an international treaty, by withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), an agreement also signed by Russia, China, England, France, Germany, the European Union and Iran. The purpose of this agreement was to regulate Iran’s nuclear ambitions (such as they are), in return for the lifting of sanctions imposed upon that country. The JCPOA was signed by the U.S under President Barack Obama, but it was not an agreement between him and the other nations; it was a binding agreement under international law. By violating it, the U.S. has send a strong message to the world that its word cannot be relied upon; has betrayed some of the country’s closest and oldest allies, and may even sanction them if they continue to do business with Iran, which each of the other signatories says they will do, since Iran is and has been in complete compliance with the agreement.
Additionally, the U.S., which has been at war for 225 years of its 242 year history, and which is currently bombing seven countries and supporting terrorist groups in Syria, accuses Iran, which has not invaded another country since 1798, of being the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism. This is Orwellianism at its best.
The current Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, previously oversaw the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the U.S.’s major torture apparatus. His assistant, one Gina Haspel, who actually directed and oversaw the torture of political prisoners, and then destroyed the evidence, is just about to be confirmed by Congress to head the CIA. This tells volumes about Congress’s disregard for international law, civil rights and even common human decency.
Against the advice of nearly the entire international community, and again in violation of international law, President Donald Trump has established the U.S. embassy in Israel in Jerusalem. As this was planned, demonstrations were being held every Friday in Gaza, demanding the internationally-recognized right of return, on the border of Gaza and Israel, but on the Palestinian side. Hundreds of unarmed Palestinians have been killed by Israeli sniper fire; thousands more have been injured. Israel has dropped endless amounts of tear gas on peaceful demonstrators. Yet Trump has said nothing, and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, the incompetent and clown-like Nikki Haley has blamed the Palestinians for the violence. To add to her endless stupidity, when the Palestinian ambassador to the U.N. began addressing that body, she walked out!
Let’s look at all this from an international perspective. Every other nation that is a party to the JCPOA attempted to convince Trump to maintain the agreement. The only two nations on the planet that praised his decision are Saudi Arabia and Israel, two nations with human rights records that are among the most dismal in the world. Hardly the company any respectable country would want to keep.
When the shocking information of Bush-era torture was first revealed, the world recoiled in horror. President George Bush’s Attorney General determined that what the rest of the world, and international law, defined as torture was not so if the U.S. did it. This was a crock that no other nation was willing to buy.
And let’s look at the situation in Palestine. Finally, nearly the entire international community has condemned Israeli violence in Gaza. The U.S. vetoed a resolution calling for an independent investigation of that violence. One must wonder why that is: if Israel did, in face, exercise the great restraint that Haley proclaims it did, and if Israel has nothing to hide, why not have an independent investigation? Wouldn’t such an investigation exonerate Israel, and immediately silence all its critics? Perhaps the U.S., an extremely violent society itself, knows, as well as the rest of the world, that Israel is in violation of countless international laws, and even the most cursory investigation would clearly reveal and officially determine what the world already knows.
Even in the hallowed halls of the U.S. Congress, there seems to be more than a little disquiet about Israel’s apartheid regime. As Trump moved the embassy to Jerusalem, the ceremony was attended by a variety of U.S. members of Congress, yet not a single Democrat showed up. This is a seismic shift in Congress, and one that bodes well for Palestine.
While three, current atrocities that the U.S. is committing on the international stage have been discussed herein, they are not the only ones. Unarmed people of color continue to be gunned down in the streets by the racist police force, with nearly complete impunity. The U.S., with its increasing number of for-profit prisons, incarcerates its citizens at a higher rate than any other country on earth. Tax dollars feed the bloated military budget, as more and more people fall into poverty, where they find decreasing government services available to them. The government serves the needs of powerful lobbies over constituents. Political scientists Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, after studying thousands of policy decisions, said this: “When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preference of the average American appears to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”
This is the United States today. This is the much-touted ‘democracy’ of which its ignorant and uninformed citizens are so proud. This is the model to which, we are told, the whole world aspires.
Many lies are believed for years; the lies of the U.S. are finally being exposed, showing the nation for what it really is. As its power declines, it will go through a period where it is more dangerous than it has ever been, and this seems to be what the world is now experiencing. One hopes the trigger-happy, war-mongering U.S. doesn’t destroy the entire world as it quickly loses power, influence and international legitimacy.
Originally published by AHTribune.
‘Damascus Time’ is an exceptional story that takes place in current, war-ravaged Syria. A humanitarian flight, taking besieged people from the city of Palmyra to Damascus, piloted by an Iranian father and son, is hijacked by ISIS prisoners on board. What follows is a tragic story, demonstrating the barbaric cruelty of ISIS, and that organization’s equally barbaric perversion of Islam.
Although there are terrifying scenes of the carnage of war sprinkled throughout the movie, they help to set the scene, but the story is far more than a war story; it has many levels that are extremely timely today. The sometimes complicated relationship between fathers and sons, the deeply-felt need to respond to the call of duty, and the concept of sacrificing for the greater good are all interwoven in this story.
The viewer sees the fanaticism of ISIS members, who believe they are sent by God to establish a society molded after their perverse interpretation of Islam. Their irrationality is on full display throughout much of the movie.
The fear that innocent people suffer in any war is realistically portrayed, far beyond the sanitized versions that are so often a product of Hollywood. Blood, violent death and desperation all bring the viewer into the reality of war, to the extent possible for someone not directly involved.
Above all, the heroism that is sometimes demonstrated when ordinary people answer the call to accomplish extraordinary things is a defining feature of this movie.
Evidence today is far more than sufficient to indicate that the United States has supported ISIS in various parts of the world. Its motivation in doing so seems to be ultimately to protect Israeli hegemony in the Middle East, which is currently threatened by Iran’s growing power and influence.
While any individual or small group may take any religion and twist its teaching to serve some perverse goal – witness how the Christian ‘right’ glorifies money and war, and condemns such ‘evils’ as health care – without someone financing them, they will remain a small minority without power or influence. However, backed by the wealth of the U.S., any group can become powerful, as is witnessed by the Muhajadeen in Afghanistan and ISIS in Syria. Yet with the assistance of Iran and Russia, ISIS is losing ground in Syria, even as the U.S. bombs that nation for a suspected chemical weapons attack that was more likely done by U.S. – financed ISIS than the Syrian government.
‘Damascus Time’ shows what it is that the U.S. has wrought. Innocent men, women and children are suffering and dying because of the U.S.’s bizarre geopolitical goals, and there seems to be no end in sight to U.S. financing of such terrorism.
This viewer was quickly drawn in to the movie, caring about the main characters, wanting and hoping for the best for them. The rivalries between different factions of ISIS, and the unspeakable cruelty common to all of them, was brought home for him repeatedly throughout the move.
Yet it was the main character, the Iranian pilot, that drew him in most of all; a devoted husband and father-to-be, dedicated to his wife but also to assisting the suffering people in Syria, Ali could be the gentleman next door who finds himself in a unique but extremely risky position, unable to turn his back on people who needed him.
It is hoped that in the United States, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will recognize the astounding greatness of this movie, and give it its highest honor, the Academy Award for Best Picture. That, of course, will depend on how the political wind is blowing when the nominees are selected, but this is a movie that will stay with this viewer for a long time. He hopes that it will be widely viewed, especially within the United States.
Originally published by Counterpunch.
While Syria makes progress in freeing areas of the country from foreign-supported terrorist groups, with invaluable assistance from Iran and Russia, the United States is seeking alternate ways to maintain its own presence there. The defeat of ‘rebel’ groups is not good news for the U.S., since it arms and supports them, and has done so for years.
Now it is being reported that an agreement between the U.S. and Turkish governments, that seeks to give some semblance of legitimacy to continued U.S. presence in Syria, has been reached.
Turkey, like the U.S., is seeking to remove Kurds from Syrian areas, such as Afrin, where the Kurds gained control after ISIL was driven out. A Russian news outlet reported that U.S. and Turkish forces would occupy that area of Syria, once the Kurds are removed, and that Turkey will be represented in Afrin by the so-called Free Syrian Army, a western-financed terrorist group that was established with the sole purpose of overthrowing the legitimately-elected government of Bashar al-Assad. If the U.S. and Turkey do take control of Afrin, it will become the center of terrorist activity in Syria.
It is puzzling to consider how two nations can come to any kind of agreement on the partial occupation of another nation. U.S. presence in Syria violates the internationally-recognized sovereignty of the Syrian nation. U.S. support for groups in Syria that seek the overthrow of that government does the same. Yet government officials from Turkey and the U.S. discuss Syria as if it is theirs to divide however they choose.
Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon, in December, said this: “We are going to maintain our commitment on the ground as long as we need to, to support our partners and prevent the return of terrorist groups.” This is typical of the black-is-white and white-is-black rhetoric of U.S. government spokespeople. Which partners are they supporting? They are supporting those, such as Israel, who seek to destabilize the Middle East. And the best thing the U.S. could do to “prevent the return of terrorist groups” is to remove all U.S. support for those groups, remove all U.S. soldiers from Syria, and assure that none ever set foot there again. It can also stop bombing Syria, and cease all efforts to overthrow the government of Syria. U.S. actions in and toward Syria are classic examples of the worst kind of terrorism.
U.S. spokespeople had been saying that the U.S. will maintain a presence in Syria, even after ISIL is defeated, proclaiming that it must do so to counter Iran’s growing influence in the region. Yet the government of Syria has in no way agreed to allow the U.S. to be there today, let alone to remain in Syria at any time in the future. And there is no reason to think that Syria’s government will ever do so, considering the destruction, death and unspeakable suffering that the U.S. has caused, and continues to cause, in Syria.
The U.S. is forever declaiming Iran’s growing influence, as if that is a dangerous and negative thing for the Middle East and the world. Nothing could be further from the truth. Unlike the U.S., which has been at war for 225 years of its 242 – year existence, Iran has not invaded another nation since 1798. The U.S. has invaded and/or otherwise destabilized several nations in the Middle East, and is currently at war with Afghanistan, and still has troops in Iraq, which it invaded and occupied early in the current millennium, destroying the infrastructure, ushering that nation to the brink of civil war, and killing at least 2,000,000 people. The U.S. is currently bombing at least seven countries. Nowhere on the planet does any nation want U.S. ‘influence’.
A partial list of independent nations victimized by U.S. violence is the following: Syria, Iran, Guatemala, Tibet, Indonesia, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Vietnam, Brazil, Ghana, Chile, Afghanistan, Turkey, Poland, Nicaragua, Cambodia, Angola, Philipp9ines, Iraq, Venezuela, Palestine, Somalia, Libya. Please note that this is not a complete list, only covers U.S. aggression from 1949 to the present, and several of the countries listed have been targeted multiple times by the U.S. since the second half of the twentieth century.
Compare and contrast that record to that of Iran, a nation which has successfully defended itself from its enemies, and which aids its allies, as it is doing in Syria today. Iran does not have military bases around the world; the U.S. has close to 1,000 of them, often in countries where the people do not want them. The U.S. uses its military and intelligence to thwart free elections; foment rebellion; overthrow governments and bring death and suffering wherever it is, including within its own borders. Its contempt for international law is matched by no other nation, with the exception of Israel.
The spokesman referenced above also reiterated, incredibly, that the U.S. is assisting its allies in fighting ISIL.
That the U.S. supports ISIL and other terrorist groups can no longer be denied; the evidence is far too overwhelming. The U.S. arms and trains ISIL, and that organization also gets assistance from Israel. Using fighting ISIL as a reason to remain in Syria, against the wishes of the sovereign Syrian government, is a bold-faced lie.
What the United States government will do next, domestically or on the international stage, is unknown. The erratic and unpredictable Donald Trump seems to have few deeply held convictions, but those he does hold appear to be fraught with danger. He believes in U.S. supremacy in all areas; the need to use violent force to assure that the world is ordered to his liking is another core belief. He seems to think that wealth and power are better ‘virtues’ than fairness and equality, as is demonstrated by his full and uncompromising support of apartheid Israel. The concepts of human rights and international law have no importance to him, because of his belief that the U.S. way is sperior to every alternative.
Domestically, he governs for the rich, white class that supports him from the top, caring noting for civil rights, public education, affordability of higher education, assistance to the poor, universal health care or national infrastructure.
As the economies of China, India and other nations grow, and as the military power of Iran, and its influence around the world, continue to increase, the U.S. finds itself in the position of a world power in decline. This is always dangerous, like a wounded animal that knows it is vulnerable, and therefore lashes out at anything nearby. Add to that an unqualified, violent, egotistical president, and the formula for international catastrophe is very great.
With the demonstrations that began on Land Day ongoing, and Israel continuing its brutal, illegal, inhumane repression of the Palestinians, much of the world remains silent. Even other mainly Muslim, Arab countries seem to look the other way, as another Arab country suffers at the hands of its Zionist oppressor.
This tragic and criminal situation was addressed recently by the Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran. He stated that “One grave danger, which is threatening the world of Islam today, is undermining the important issue of Palestine and consigning it to oblivion”.
Why is this? Why is the brutal, decades-long, criminal occupation of Palestine by the Zionist entity a threat to the world of Islam?
People and nations need to know their enemies, and Zionism has demonstrated itself to be the enemy of Islam. As the Ayatollah said: “An Islamic country has been completely occupied, not a small strip of land, city or village, but an entire country!” Not only is it occupied, but the people of Palestine are oppressed unlike any others, and have been for generations.
Where is the international outrage from these Arab countries, as the Land Day demonstrations have been disrupted by Israel, wherein at least 18 innocent, unarmed Palestinians have been killed? Palestinians are demonstrating on their own land (we will assume, for the sake of discussion, that Israel has some international legitimacy), not in Israel. Yet Zionist-entity terrorists murder them, and drop tear-gas on peaceful protestors, who are simply demanding rights guaranteed to them by international law.
But Arab nations are mostly, although not completely, silent. Most of them, to again quote the Ayatollah, “… behave, speak and act, in ways that culminate with the issue of Palestine being ignored and consigned to oblivion”. If the Zionist entity is allowed to so victimize Palestine, will it stop there? Or will Syria and Iraq be next? Will Turkey be safe?
Saudi Arabia may believe itself to be safe because of its support of the Zionist regime. Its current leader, Mohammed bin Salman, speaks disparagingly of Palestine, Iran and even the Ayatollah, while it praises Israel. Yet Israel, aligned so closely with the United States, cannot be trusted any more than the violent, brutal, terrorist regime of the U.S. can be trusted. Israel has set its sights on dominating the Middle East, and any current rapprochement with Saudi Arabia will only be temporary.
In his recent speech, the Ayatollah also said that “Palestine is the primary issue of the Islamic world”. If Palestine is allowed to be occupied out of existence, the rest of the Islamic world is not safe. Israeli government officials and spokespeople are forever proclaiming that any opposition to Israel or its racist, apartheid policies is a threat to its very existence. Yet, for decades, it has been stealing Palestinian land, bulldozing Palestinian homes to make room for the construction of Israel-only residences, stealing Palestinian natural resources, and killing innocent, unarmed Palestinian men, women and children. It is Palestine’s existence that is under threat, not Israel’s.
The actions of U.S. President Donald Trump should also alarm the leaders of all Arab, mostly Muslim nations. He has attempted to ban Muslims from entering the U.S., and that may be the most benign of his hateful and hate-filled actions. In opposition to international law, and the consensus of the international community, he has declared that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. This decision has been condemned around the world, in the seats of nearly all the governments of the world except that of Israel.
The U.S. government gives Israel $4 billion in aid every year, more than it gives to all other nations combined. This, while schools in the U.S. are crumbling, the infrastructure is failing, one major city has been without clean water for at least three years, and at least 20% of its own population lives in poverty. It’s partiality to Israel should alarm other nations in the Middle East.
Additionally, Trump is expected to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), an international agreement that regulates Iran’s nuclear development (not that such an agreement was ever needed; Iran’s spokespeople have always said that their nuclear development program is for peaceful purposes, unlike the nuclear development programs of the U.S. and Israel). In exchange for signing the agreement, unjust sanctions issued against Iran were lifted. Now, again in defiance of the international community, Trump is threatening to withdraw from this agreement.
Trump’s hostility to Arab nations, and to Islam, is on full display. The U.S. is bombing several, mostly-Islamic nations. Those nations being so victimized are well aware of U.S. violence and evil, as that nation’s bombs kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people, mostly ‘non-combatants’. Other nations, not currently feeling the deadly impact of U.S. bombs, must understand the potential peril to themselves, as they witness all that the U.S. currently perpetrates.
The cause of Palestine is the human rights issue of this generation. Around the world, the Boycott, Divest and Sanction (BDS) movement grows in strength, even as the U.S. and other nations attempt to ban it (in the U.S., such a ban violates the U.S. Constitution). It is long past time for other Arab nations to follow the lead of Iran in supporting the struggles of the Palestinian people. They must look to Palestine as an example of their own future. They can control that future by assisting the Palestinian people in shedding the oppressive hand of occupation, and becoming, once again, a free and prosperous nation. If they ignore Palestine, than a future of war, occupation and genocide awaits them, all at the hands of Israel and the U.S. The choice is there; the time to act is now.
It seems impossible to under-estimate the ignorance and gullibility of the United States populace. Was is such a long time ago that the U.S. government was scaring the life out of the citizenry by saying that Iraq had ‘weapons of mass destruction’, thus putting every man, woman and child in the U.S. in grave, mortal danger? What was the result of that lie? The U.S. invaded Iraq; about 4,000 U.S. soldiers died, along with at least a million Iraqis. Another 30,000 U.S. soldiers were injured, and millions of Iraqis became refugees, either in Iraq or neighboring countries. Iraq’s infrastructure was destroyed, and today, fifteen years after the invasion, the Iraqi people continue to suffer because of it.
And what of those horrifying ‘weapons of mass destruction’? Well, it turns out, there weren’t any.
Now, one might say that this was just a tragic error in U.S. intelligence, although even for government officials, dismissing that much death and destruction as an “Oops! Sorry!” is a bit much. Yet United Nations’ weapons inspectors were gaining unprecedented access to any site in Iraq that they wanted; they were combing the country and finding nothing. Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s leader at the time, swore up, down and sideways that his country had no such weapons. But the mighty U.S. knew better, and so it brought death and destruction to Iraq, for no reason at all.
Well, at least no reason related to U.S. ‘national security’. But there was oil there that the U.S. coveted, and once the country was destroyed, U.S. companies stood to make a fortune in rebuilding it. Haliburton, founded by Dick Cheney, who just happened to be vice president when Iraq was invaded, made billions upon billions of dollars as a result. And thirteen years after the invasion, the ever-practical Hillary Clinton, while running for president, said that “It’s time for the United States to start thinking of Iraq as a business opportunity.” Add to that the fact that any Middle Eastern countries in chaos helped strengthen apartheid Israel, the lobbies of which U.S. elected officials bow down to, so that was, at the very least, an added bonus, if not a prime reason for the invasion.
And now the great orange U.S. leader, President Donald Trump, is threating another Middle Eastern country, this time Syria. He, along with the leaders of England and France, want to punish the government of Syria for a chemical attack that Syrian leaders, and the United Nations, say Syria didn’t commit. England’s Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for restraint, and wants to await the evidence, and he is condemned as a traitor for wanting to adhere to due process. Russia’s Vladimir Putin is seen as complicit in the attack, but he, too denies Syrian government involvement, and wants to see the incident investigated. It is also worth noting that, after Trump bombed Syria following another such attack, even his military spokesman said there was no evidence the Syrian government was behind it.
But in the U.S., Congress is united in demanding action, and there seems to be little resistance coming from the populace, not that that makes any difference to the oligarchs anyway.
Does it take a particularly insightful reader to see some parallels here? This writer thinks not. Another false flag is being hoisted up the pole, and U.S. citizens are rallying around it.
To whom does it make sense that the Syrian government, with the U.S. just looking for some excuse to bomb it, and while it is continually freeing areas of its nation from U.S.-supported terrorists, would commit war crimes against its own people?
If the Syrian government isn’t behind the recent chemical attack, who, we must ask, is?
Let’s look at the usual suspects, of which there is actually only one. The U.S. has been supporting terrorists in Syria for years, and seeks the overthrow of that government, as it sought the overthrow of Iraq fifteen years ago. And, as with Iraq, there need be no plan for the governance of Syria; a Syria in chaos is better, in the U.S. view, than a peaceful Syria aligned with Iran. So by arranging a chemical attack on Syrian people, Trump, filled with righteous indignation, can bomb that nation.
Is there any benefit to apartheid Israel in all this? One must remember that Jared Kushner, another close advisor to Trump, and his son-in-law to boot, who seems to have disappeared from the radar these last few weeks, has close ties to illegal settlements, and is a personal friend of Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu. And Syria is closely allied with Iran, Israel’s most bitter enemy, which is assisting the government of Syria in ridding itself of U.S.-backed terrorists. Iran is growing in power and influence in the Middle East, and Netanyahu cannot countenance any threat to Israel hegemony in that part of the world. So some reason to attack Syria, any reason, even a completely fabricated one, will do just fine for the U.S.
Is it possible that some cooler heads surrounding Trump might prevail? When pigs fly. His new National Security Advisor, the unhinged and unstable John Bolton, has described himself as ‘not much of a carrot guy’, indicating that he prefers the use of the stick. That apparently means that he would rather use bombs than diplomacy. He disdains international law, saying it is designed to constrain U.S. power (he might actually be right there; anything that can be done to constrain U.S. power is beneficial to the world).
Trump needs to tread cautiously, however, although he probably won’t. Russia and Iran will not take kindly to any U.S. attack on Syria, and there are rumours that such an action would also displease the government of China. While Trump may consider each of these countries an enemy to the U.S., he will be much better served by tiptoeing around them, rather than provoking them. But Trump never tiptoes, and he always provokes. The consequences of doing so this time around could be cataclysmic.
Originally published by AHTribune.
Let us all take a quick look at the news:
- The White House is in chaos.
- The investigation into possible Trump campaign collusion with Russia drags on.
- The U.S. won some Olympic medals.
Is there anything else? Oh yes:
- Seventeen people were killed in a school shooting, the eighth such shooting in the U.S. this year (and it is only mid-February), making it hardly newsworthy.
One might think that politicians in the U.S. would take note of this last item. This is not a ‘one-of’, but an ongoing pattern in schools across the country. This latest shooting happened in Parkland, Florida, named ‘Florida’s Safest City’ in 2017.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio offered his thoughts and prayers for the victims; very nice, indeed, but he is one of 50 people who could make changes that might have prevented this, and the seven other such shootings that have occurred this year. Yet he has consistently opposed any kind of gun control. Perhaps the fact that he’s accepted over $3,000,000.00 in campaign contributions from the National Rifle Association (NRA) over the course of his career may have something to do with his opposition to sensible gun laws. Following this latest tragedy, he said that it was too early to discuss gun control, “…because people don’t know how this happened.”
This writer is puzzled by Rubio’s pearls of wisdom. ‘How this happened’ seems quite clear; he will explicate it for the good senator: A man with a semi-automatic weapon, designed to shoot many bullets quickly, thus enabling the person operating it to kill many people quickly if he so chooses, walked into a school, activated the fire alarm so students would come running out of their classrooms, and began doing with his gun exactly what it was built do to. As a result, seventeen people are dead, and dozens more are injured. Seventeen families now must bear unimaginable grief. Thousands of students are now at risk of post -traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); whether or not they will return to that school, or if they will need to be relocated is yet to be determined. School administrators now face a situation they should never have had to experience. But Rubio doesn’t know how this happened.
A year and a half earlier, in June of 2016, Florida had another massacre, this one at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando. Fifty people, including the assailant, were killed and 58 wounded by an assassin using the same kind of gun that was used in Parkland. Republican Governor Rick Scott, another darling of the NRA, said at that time that “…the Second Amendment didn’t kill anybody.” He implied that that shooting was somehow related to ISIS and terrorism, although the perpetrator was U.S. born. And in Florida, it’s easier to purchase an AR-15 than it is to buy a pistol. But the governor, like Rubio, sees no point in doing anything more than offering ‘thoughts and prayers.’
Just this year, there have been at least 31 mass shootings, causing 58 deaths and 124 injuries. These have occurred in high-crime areas and well-to-do neighborhoods. No one is exempt, even people living in the ‘safest city’ in the country.
Also this year, 123 people have been killed by the police, another group for whom guns and gun violence are a way of life.
As of this writing, we are 46 days into the new year. That means that there is a mass shooting in the U.S. every day and a half. It means that more than one person per day dies as a result of a mass shooting. It means that the police in the U.S. kill nearly 3 people every day.
This does not occur in any other nation on the planet. Rich or poor, democratic, socialist, or any other form of government, the U.S. leads in gun deaths.
It is simplistic to say that the availability of guns is the cause; that is merely one of many, and reasonable, sensible gun laws would certainly reduce this tragic number of deaths. But there is an acceptance of violence that permeates U.S. society, and is glorified within it.
In the media and through the words and actions of government officials, soldiers, who are trained to kill, are revered. The more they kill, the greater their respect. A soldier named Chris Kyle, the most deadly sniper in U.S. history, was the subject of a movie showing his ‘heroics’ in killing people. It is ironic that, in 2013, he was shot to death by a fellow soldier suffering from PTSD, who used a gun Kyle owned.
This attitude of reverence for killers is nothing new in the U.S. After Lieutenant William Calley was convicted of murdering hundreds of people in My Lai, Vietnam, he was sentenced to life in prison. Surveys in the U.S. indicated that 79% of the U.S. public thought the verdict was too harsh. He wound up serving for less than four years under house arrest.
Parents, when speaking of their grown children in the military, speak proudly of their ‘service’. Veterans, those who do not regret their time in the military, talk about how they helped ‘keep America free’. Police officers appear to have little concern about their countless victims, or the suffering and grief of the loved ones of those victims. That they act as judge, jury and executioner cannot be denied. Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot and killed the unarmed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in August of 2014 described his victim as a demon. He testified thusly: “I looked at his face. It was just, like, intense; was very aggravated, aggressive, hostile.” This is a significant amount of information to be gleaned from a look on a person’s face. He further stated: “You could tell he was looking through you. There was nothing he was seeing.” What this means is anyone’s guess, but it was sufficient for Wilson to determine that Brown had sufficiently bad intentions to warrant his immediate death.
The U.S. movie industry differs from that of many European nations in how it rates films. In the U.S., movies with explicit sex scenes receive R and X ratings, but explicit violence tends to garner a PG-13 or R rating. In many other nations, the reverse is true; younger audience are permitted to see movies with some sex, but are prevented, at least according to the ratings systems, from seeing those with excessive violence.
For these nearly constant acts of violence to end, the U.S. must recognize that killing is not beneficial; U.S. wars only increase hatred towards the U.S., glorifying soldiers only begets violence, and granting impunity to the police for their murders only intensifies hostility towards all police officers.
This mindset will not be easy to change, and will be impossible under the current government. Republicans and Democrats alike share the blame, and as long as it is legal for them to be bribed by ‘campaign contributions’, nothing will change.
Originally published by Counterpunch.