Monday, January 30, 2012

Mikhail Gorbachev: Is the World Really Safer Without the Soviet Union?

A man waves a Russian flag during a rally November 21, 1988 (MF/AA/REUTERS Pictures)

Virtually all American commentary about the end of the Soviet Union extols what the West is believed to have gained from that historic event. On this twentieth anniversary of the breakup, The Nation presents three writers who focus instead on what may have been lost. Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet Union’s last leader and first constitutional president, argues that a chance for a more secure and just world order was missed. Stephen F. Cohen, a historian and longtime Nation contributor, reminds readers of the political, economic and social costs to Russians themselves. And Vadim Nikitin, a US-educated Russian journalist, presents a new interpretation of pro-Soviet nostalgia.   —The Editors

Since the breakup of the Soviet Union twenty years ago, Western commentators have often celebrated it as though what disappeared from the world arena in December 1991 was the old Soviet Union, the USSR of Stalin and Brezhnev, rather than the reforming Soviet Union of perestroika. Moreover, discussion of its consequences has focused mostly on developments inside Russia. Equally important, however, have been the consequences for international relations, in particular lost alternatives for a truly new world order opened up by the end of the cold war.

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pentagon Requests Mightier Bomb to Attack Iran

The 30,000-pound bunker-busters are designed to penetrate Iran’s underground nuclear facilities

by John Glaser,, January 28, 2012

The Pentagon has decided that its largest conventional bomb isn’t capable of destroying Iran’s underground nuclear enrichment facilities and has ordered efforts to make it more powerful.

The 30,000-pound “bunker-buster” bomb, known as the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, was designed to penetrate deeply buried targets, like some of Iran’s nuclear facilities. But tests of the bomb led the Pentagon to believe it may not fully destroy the facilities, and so this month they secretly submitted a request to Congress additional for funding to build a bigger, more destructive bomb.

Already more than $330 million has been spent to develop about 20 of the bombs, which are built by Boeing Co. The Pentagon is now seeking about $82 million more to enhance it.

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Stephen Lendman: Profile of a Rogue State

by Stephen Lendman,, Jan 27, 2012

America’s unmatched globally. However, pound for pound, based on size, its policies, and regional threat, Israel stands out.

Daily, its crimes against humanity continue. On January 23, Jerusalem police arrested two Palestinian officials, Khaled Abu Arafeh and Mohammed Totah.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said both men were wanted for unspecified “Hamas activities” with no further comment.

Hamas, of course, is Palestine’s legitimate government. Israel and America spuriously call it a terrorist organization. Hamas spokesman Mushir al-Masri said arresting both men was a “Zionist crime.” Palestine’s parliament hasn’t functioned since Hamas and Fatah split in 2007.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Barghouti sent to isolation after Israel comments

Ma’an News, Jan 26, 2012
Marwan Barghouti pictured during an interview from his prison cell in
2006. (MaanImages/file)

RAMALLAH (Ma’an) — Jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti was sent to solitary confinement on Wednesday after making critical comments about Israel to journalists.
After testifying in a Jerusalem court on Wednesday the Fatah leader briefly spoke to reporters.

Upon returning to Hadarim prison in Israel, Barghouti was not allowed back into his regular cell and was instead put in isolation, the Palestinian Prisoners’ Society said Thursday.

Detainees in the prison protested the move and asked prison authorities to explain their decision.

Israeli authorities have not responded.

Barghouti, the former secretary-general of Fatah in the West Bank, told journalists that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would only be resolved when the occupation comes to an end and Israel withdraws to the pre-1967 borders.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society condemned the Israeli decision to isolate him and called on human rights organizations to stop violations against Palestinian leaders in jail.
The Fatah leader has been serving a life sentence since 2004 and has been widely viewed as a contender to succeed Mahmoud Abbas as president.

Pups on Parade: EU Obediently Pushes Toward War with Iran

By Chris Floyd, Empire Burlesque, Jan 23, 2012

This week, the warlords of the West took yet another step toward their long-desired war againt Iran. (Open war, that is; their covert war has been going on for decades — via subversion, terrorism, and proxies like Saddam Hussein.) On Monday, the European Union obediently followed the dictates of its Washington masters by agreeing to impose an embargo on Iranian oil.

The embargo bans all new oil contracts with Iran, and cuts off all existing deals after July. The embargo is accompanied by a freeze on all European assets of the Iranian central bank. In imposing these draconian measures on a country which is not at war with any nation, which has not invaded or attacked another nation in centuries, and which is developing a nuclear energy program that is not only entirely legal under international law but is also subject to the most stringent international inspection regime ever seen, the EU is “targeting the economic lifeline of the regime,” as one of its diplomats put it, with admirable candor.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

US Media Iraq Reporting: See No Evil

by Dave Lindorff, This Can’t Be Happening, Jan 23, 2012
The Iraq war may be over, at least for US troops, but the cover-up of the atrocities committed there by American forces goes on, even in retrospectives about the war. A prime example is reporting on the destroyed city of Fallujah, where some of the heaviest fighting of the war took place.

On March 31, 2004, four armed mercenaries working for the firm then known as Blackwater (now Xe), were captured in Fallujah, Iraq’s third largest city and a hotbed of insurgent strength located in Anbar Province about 40 miles west of Baghdad. Reportedly killed in their vehicle, which was then torched, their charred bodies were strung up on a bridge over the Euphrates River.

Pictures and videos of Fallujah residents mocking the bodies, which, unlike the images of burned and mutilated Iraqi victims of American forces, were broadcast on American television and displayed on the front pages of American newspapers, created a wave of indignation and outrage in the U.S., and led the Bush/Cheney administration and the Pentagon to decide they needed to punish the city of over 300,000.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

New York Times Continues to Conceal U.S. Role in 1965 Indonesia Coup

By Conn Hallinan, ZNet, Jan 24, 2012

Why is the New York Times concealing the key role that the United States played in the 1965 coup in Indonesia that ended up killing somewhere between 500,000 and 1 million people? In a story Jan. 19—“Indonesia Chips Away At the Enforced Silence Around a Dark History”—the Times writes that the coup was “one of the darkest periods in modern Indonesian history, and the least discussed, until now.”

Indeed it is, but the Times is not only continuing to ignore U.S. involvement in planning and carrying out the coup, but apparently doesn’t even bother to read its own clip files from that time that reported the Johnson administration’s “delight with the news from Indonesia.” The newspaper also reported a cable by Secretary of State Dean Rusk supporting the “campaign against the communists” and assuring the leader of the coup, General Suharto, that the “U.S. government [is] generally sympathetic with, and admiring of, what the army is doing.”

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Fidel Castro: World Peace Hanging by a Thread

By: Fidel Castro Ruz, Cuba Debate, Jan 14, 2012   

 Editor's Note: In his usual all-comprehensive fashion, Comrade Fidel Castro warns of the dangers of nuclear war, which can obliterate the human civilisation. American aggressive foreign policy and its criminal wars of aggression in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan and its mobilising of propganda war against Iran with a view to prepare public opinion in favour of an attack on Iran show the real danger United States poses to the world. All peace-loving people and organisations should oppose the militaristic policies of the  American Empire.
                                                           ---Nasir Khan, Editor
 Yesterday I had the satisfaction of having a pleasant conversation with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I had not seen him since 2006, more than five years ago, when he visited our country to participate in the 14th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement of Countries in Havana. During the summit, Cuba was elected for the second time as president of the organization for a three-year term.

I had become gravely ill on July 26, 2006, a month and a half prior to the summit, and could barely sit up in bed. Many of the most distinguished leaders who participated in the event were kind enough to visit me. Chavez and Evo visited me several times. One afternoon four visitors came by whom I will always remember: UN Secretary General Kofi Annan; an old friend, Abdelaziz Buteflika, the president of Algeria; Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran; and the vice minister of Foreign Affairs and current Foreign Minister of China, Yang Jiechi, on behalf of the leader of the Communist Party and the president of China, Hu Jintao. It was really an important time for me; I was in the midst of intense physiotherapy on my right hand that I had seriously injured when I fell in Santa Clara.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Noam Chomsky: US Terrorism (video)

 Noam Chomsky delivers the 5th Annual Edward Said Memorial Lecture, Dec 3, 2009


Richard Falk: Stop Warmongering in the Middle East

By Richard Falk, MWC News, Jan 20, 2012
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Iran’s nuclear program

The public discussion in the West addressing Iran’s nuclear program has mainly relied on threat diplomacy, articulated most clearly by Israeli officials, but enjoying the strong direct and indirect backing of Washington and leading Gulf states.  Israel has also engaged in covert warfare against Iran in recent years, somewhat supported by the United States, that has inflicted violent deaths on civilians in Iran. Many members of the UN Security Council support escalating sanctions against Iran, and have not blinked when Tel Aviv and Washington talk menacingly about leaving all options on the table, which is ‘diplospeak’ for their readiness to launch a military attack. At last, some signs of sanity are beginning to emerge to slow the march over the cliff.

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Korea Shows All That Is Wrong With U.S. Foreign Policy

by Laurence M. Vance,, January 18, 2012

The tension on the Korean peninsula escalated late last year when South Korea began live-firing drills off its coastline. That was after North and South Korea shelled each other for the first time since the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War. U.S. forces in the area went on high alert even as the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington joined South Korean naval forces in exercises in the Yellow Sea. That carrier had just concluded drills with Japan involving 400 aircraft, 60 warships, and more than 40,000 U.S. and Japanese troops. South Korea was an official observer during the drills.

Korea shows all that is wrong with U.S. foreign policy.

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The Guantanamo Legacy – Ten Years of Criminality go beyond this one base and one state

Dr Abdul Wahid, New Civilisation, Jan 17, 2012

Last week I attended an event in London marking the 10-year anniversary of the American gulag at Camp Delta, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, organised jointly by Cage Prisoners, Islamic Human Rights Commission and Reprieve.

It was also the launch of a project by Cage Prisoners called “Laa Tansa –(Never Forget)”, a campaign aimed so that people do not forget the 779 victims of Guantanamo Bay. 171 men remain under detention despite President Obama’s 2009 promise to close the camp. Of these 89 have already been cleared for release, 46 have been cleared for Stalin-style indefinate detention and 32 earmarked for ‘prosecution’ – most likely in closed, military courts.

The event did something powerful insofar as it humanised the men who were kidnapped, tortured, murdered (in some cases) and imprisoned after being arbitrarily labelled ‘terrorist suspects’ and ‘enemy combatants’. It reminded us they were fathers, husbands, and sons of other innocent victims who were their family members. It gave sobering testimony to the complexities after release and the guilt feelings about those left behind – like Shaker Aamer, the last British resident who remains in abominable conditions with 170 others.

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Americans Fed Up with Neocon Wars?

By Lawrence S. Wittner, Consortium News,  January 17, 2012
Mitt Romney and other Republican presidential hopefuls (with the exception of Ron Paul) are touting tough-guy global strategies that sound like George W. Bush, circa 2002. But recent public opinion polls suggest that Americans are leery of new neocon adventures, Lawrence S. Wittner reports.

Are American politicians out of sync with the public when it comes to foreign policy? There is considerable reason to believe so.

Throughout the scramble for the Republican presidential nomination, the major candidates have certainly been rabidly nationalistic. In a major foreign policy address on Oct. 7, 2011, Mitt Romney proclaimed that “the twenty-first century can and must be an American Century.”
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney
Championing a vast military buildup, he argued that, to secure this “American Century,” the United States should have “the strongest military in the world.” By contrast, he assailed the “shameful” role of the United Nations and other international institutions and declared that he did not see any reason to obey them — or the international law they represented — when it did not suit the U.S. government.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Open Marxism volume 1: dialectics and history

First volume of Bonefeld, Gunn and Psychopedis’ ‘Open Marxism’ collection.
This volume contains the following articles:
  • Introduction - Werner Bonefeld, Richard Gunn, Kosmas Psychopedis
  • Dialectical Theory: Problems of Reconstruction - Kosmas Psychopedis
  • Between Philosophy and Science: Marxian Social Economy as Critical Theory - Hans-Georg Backhaus
  • Social Constitution and the Form of the Capitalist State - Werner Bonefeld
  • The Global Accumulation of Capital and the Periodisation of the Capitalist State Form - Simon Clarke
  • The Bourgeois.State Form Revisited - Heide Gerstenberger
Edited by Werner Bonefeld, Richard Gunn and Kosmas Psychopedis, 1992.

Bonefeld, Gunn and Psychopedis - Open Marxism - Volume 1 - Dialectics and History.pdf17.94 MB

Chris Hedges: Why I’m Suing Barack Obama

By Chris Hedges,,  Jan 16, 2012

AP / Dusan Vranic
Detainees pray at the U.S. military detention facility known as Camp Bucca in Iraq in this 2009 photo. 

Attorneys Carl J. Mayer and Bruce I. Afran filed a complaint Friday in the Southern U.S. District Court in New York City on my behalf as a plaintiff against Barack Obama and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to challenge the legality of the Authorization for Use of Military Force as embedded in the latest version of the National Defense Authorization Act, signed by the president Dec. 31.

The act authorizes the military in Title X, Subtitle D, entitled “Counter-Terrorism,” for the first time in more than 200 years, to carry out domestic policing. With this bill, which will take effect March 3, the military can indefinitely detain without trial any U.S. citizen deemed to be a terrorist or an accessory to terrorism. And suspects can be shipped by the military to our offshore penal colony in Guantanamo Bay and kept there until “the end of hostilities.” It is a catastrophic blow to civil liberties.

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Marjorie Cohn: Close the Guantánamo Gulag

by Marjorie Cohn, ZNet, Monday, January 16, 2012
Travelers to Cuba and music lovers are familiar with the song “Guantanamera”— literally, the girl from Guantánamo. With lyrics by José Martí, the father of Cuban independence, Guantanamera is probably the most widely known Cuban song. But Guantánamo is even more famous now for its U.S. military prison. Where “Guantanamera” is a powerful expression of the beauty of Cuba, “Gitmo” has become a powerful symbol of human rights violations—so much so that Amnesty International described it as “the gulag of our times.”

That description can be traced to January 2002, when the base received its first 20 prisoners in shackles. General Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned they were “very dangerous people who would gnaw hydraulic lines in the back of a C-17 to bring it down.”  We now know that a large portion of the 750 plus men and boys held there posed no threat to the United States. In fact, only five percent were captured by the United States; most were picked up by the Northern Alliance, Pakistani intelligence officers, or tribal warlords, and many were sold for cash bounties.

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Rosa Luxemburg: Reform or Revolution (1900)


Reform or Revolution (1900)

Written: 1900, 1908
Source: Social Reform or Revolution, by Rosa Luxemburg
Publisher: Militant Publications, London, 1986 (no copyright)
First Published: 1900 (revised second edition 1908)
Translated: Integer
Online Version: Rosa Luxemburg Internet Archive ( 1999
Transcription/Markup: A. Lehrer


The Opportunist Method
The Adaptation of Capitalism
The Realisation of Socialism through Social Reforms
Capitalism and the State
The Consequences of Social Reformism and General Nature of Reformism
Economic Development and Socialism
Co-operatives, Unions, Democracy
Conquest of Political Power
Opportunism in Theory and Practice

Spain: Garzón Trial Threatens Human Rights

Spanish Judge Challenged Amnesties in Spain, Worldwide 

Human Rights Watch, January 13, 2012
  • Judge Baltasar Garzón leaves the Spanish High Court in Madrid on April 14, 2010.
    © 2010 Reuters

What bitter irony that Garzón is being prosecuted for trying to apply at home the same principles he so successfully promoted internationally. Thirty-six years after Franco’s death, Spain is finally prosecuting someone in connection with the crimes of his dictatorship – the judge who sought to investigate those crimes.
—Reed Brody, counsel for Human Rights Watch

(Madrid) – The upcoming trial of the Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón for investigating abuses from Spain’s past threatens the concept of accountability in Spain and beyond, Human Rights Watch said today.

Garzón’s prosecution in a second case, for issuing a judicial instruction to intercept lawyer-client communications in a corruption scandal, raised questions as to whether the judge is facing retaliation for his actions in controversial cases.

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Barack Obama Worked For The CIA - John Pilger

 Some hard facts about  Barack Obama

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Boycott the Colonial-Settler-Apartheid State!

Photo by Michael Letwin, January 14, 2012

Editor's Comment: In many European countries products from the Zionist-European entity called ‘Israel’ are openly sold. The power of Zionists and their right-wing sympathisers in Europe and North America is incredible. But some trade unions and political organisations have tried to mobilise people to boycott such products from the colonial-settler State.

It is important for democratic people to clarify what this Israel is and how its agricultural products are in fact from the stolen land that belonged to the people of Palestine. Under criminal law, buying stolen good from a criminal is a crime. The same thing applies to products from this colonial-settler State. Thus many people, inadvertently though, are aiding and abetting a criminal State and thus become accomplices in an international crime.
                                                                                      Nasir Khan, Editor

Iraq – What was done in our name?

Phil Shiner, one of the UK’s leading human rights lawyers, argues we shouldn’t forget that everything the world community abhors about US military actions, from Guantanamo Bay to this week’s US Marines video scandal, is of a piece with UK policies and practices in Iraq, including, as he documents, the abuse, torture of killing of detainees.

Phil Shiner, Ceasefire Magazine,  Jan 13, 2012

Baha Mousa, 26, with his wife and two children. He was detained by the British army for 36 hours and died on 15 September 2003 (Photograph: Reuters)
Two million people marched in London against an invasion of Iraq on 15 February 2003. I doubt if any of the protesters could have imagined in their wildest dreams the serious human rights violations about to be committed by UK Armed Forces and intelligence personnel in our name. Our worst nightmares might have included the use of cluster munitions causing indiscriminate deaths of Iraqi civilians, or disproportionate bombardments of civilian areas, or even the use of depleted uranium, but not what actually happened.

The UK’s detention and interrogation policies in Iraq were not only completely unlawful but outrageously contaminated by the fact that our co-author in this illegal war, soon to become our Joint Co-Occupier subsequently, was the United States. Everything the world community associates with US practices and techniques, whether at Guantanamo Bay, Bagram Air Base, Abu Ghraib, secret sites or rendition is of a piece with UK policies and practices in Iraq. This is not my subjective opinion or idle speculation. It is a matter of publicly available evidence.

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Stephen Lendman: Waging Covert War on Iran

By Stephen Lendman,  MWC News, 13 January 2012
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Washington, Israel

Washington and Israel plan regime change in Iran and Syria. Israel wants regional supremacy. Washington wants global hegemony and control of the world’s strategic resources.

America tolerates no independent states. Making them client ones is prioritized.
Insurgent infiltrators ravaged Syria for months. Libya’s model was replicated short of NATO intervention perhaps to follow.

Washington, Israel, and rogue allies use many destabilization tactics. They include fake accusations, political and economic sanctions, isolation, covert and direct confrontation, cyberwar, targeted assassinations, and other provocations short of war perhaps planned.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Israeli Source: Assassination of Iranian Nuclear Scientist Joint Mossad-MEK Operation

Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam, Jan 10, 2011

 iranian scientist assassinated 
Remains of car in which Iranian nuclear scientist was killed
An Iranian news agency reports that a fourth Iranian nuclear scientist has been assassinated.  Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan was a professor specializing in petroleum engineering at a technical university and director of  Natanz’s uranium enrichment facility.  Mehr news agency said he was “deputy director of the commercial department of the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility.”  He was killed by a bomb attached to the side of his car by two men on a motorcycle.  My own confidential Israeli source confirms today’s murder was the work of the Mossad and MEK, as have been a number of previous operations I’ve reported here.

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Alan Hart: The Zionization of American politics and how it could be terminated

By Alan Hart, Veterans Today, Jan 9, 2012

The first headline I thought of for this article was The Zionization of American democracy and how it could be terminated, but then I said to myself: “Don’t be silly, Alan, there’s no democracy in the ‘Land of the Free.’”

Leaving aside the fact that any American can now be arrested and detained without due process, there’s no mystery about why. There’s much more to democracy than voting every few years for the lesser of two or three evils or in America’s case naked political whores (with the exception among the would-be Republican presidents of Ron Paul).

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Guantánamo: A decade of damage to human rights

Amnesty International, Jan 11, 2012

The Guantánamo detention facility has become a symbol of tortureThe Guantánamo detention facility has become a symbol of torture© US DoD
“Guantánamo has come to symbolize 10 years of a systematic failure by the USA to respect human rights”

—Rob Freer, Amnesty International’s USA researcher
Wed, 11/01/2012

The failure of the US government to close the detention facility at Guantánamo Bay is leaving a toxic legacy for human rights, Amnesty International said on the 10th anniversary of the first detainees being transferred to this notorious US prison.

In a report published ahead of the anniversary, Guantánamo: A Decade of Damage to Human Rights, Amnesty International highlights the unlawful treatment of Guantánamo detainees and outlines the reasons why the detention centre continues to represent an attack on human rights.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bigoted Republicans, Deceptive Democrats and the onward march of a police state

by Rupen Savoulian, January 8, 2012

Editors Comment: In this rather exhaustive article, Rupen Savoulian has shown in a remarkably clear-sighted way how the American two-party system functions in practice and what sort of policies the two parties follow domestically and in foreign affairs. With the sort of power yielded by  special interest groups, especially the military-industrial complex, the candidates of the two parties vying to reach the  White House devise their strategies  and manipulations tailored to meet the  powerful backers.  The author has   a   clear perception of  how such political gimmicks translate into practice in forming policies of the  Savage Empire in these times. In discussing  the Bush-Cheney regime and the present  administration of Obama, he provides a general political context before dealing with the specifics of the topic under discussion.

What  emerges from Rupen Savoulian’s article is a clear picture of the deceptive nature of Obama’s polices in contrast to his initial false promises that played fraud upon  ordinary citizens. But this was nothing  of a hat-trick but rather  a systemic prerequisite  in the inherent power politics of the  United States.  Therefore, when Obama used anti-war feelings of the people against the Bush-Cheney’s wars of aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan, he was  simply adhering to the common practice of  deception that  defines the American political system. Once in power, he not only carried on the polices of his predecessor, but also extended the imperial wars of aggression. In reality, this oily-tongued demagogue has been more cunning a  president than Bush!

The author  has presented his views in a candid and clear fashion. He has shown how the US imperialism under Bush and now under Obama has been instrumental in keeping the people of the Middle East in bondage to the U.S. imperial interests by supporting dictators, kings and despots. I view this article as an important contribution to  exposing the role of  American war-mongering power elite and  the weapon producers. US imperialism’s global power and its  Savage Empire exists on two wings: military power  and  false propaganda.  An honest observer of American imperialism  cannot combat the U.S. military power; but he or she  has the moral power to  expose the  false  propaganda and  global deception played by the imperialists. This, the author does so well; his exposure of  the  militarists and war criminals in this article  is splendid.
                                                                                        –Nasir Khan, Editor

Bigoted Republicans, Deceptive Democrats and the onward march of a police state

by Rupen Savoulian, Antipodean Atheist, January 8, 2012

It is easy to attack the US Republicans, because they openly express their bigotry, hatred and their woeful incompetence is plain for all to see.  One of the previous frontrunners for the Republican party nomination, Herman Cain, demonstrated his terrible ineptness when attempting to answer a simple question about US policy towards Libya, an important issue given the Libyan uprising and subsequent NATO intervention in 2011. Add to that the expression of racist ignorance by Newt Gingrinch who contemptuously called the Palestinians an ‘invented people’, the ‘brain freeze’ of Rick Perry, and the homophobic rantings of Rick Santorum, and it is easy to see that the US Republicans are a pack of floundering buffoons. Sherry Wolf, socialist activist, public speaker and associate editor of the International Socialist Review, said it best when she wrote that this parade of ultra-reactionary Republican dinosaurs proves that in US politics “you could walk into any bar in Brooklyn and find 7 drunks more qualified to run the country.”

It is obvious to any political observer that the US Republicans will cut social expenditure, cut back education, health care and public transportation, all the while increasing funding for the US military-industrial complex. The current speaker of the US House of Representatives, John Boehner, Republican from Ohio, is in the pocket of the large tobacco companies, maintains close relations with big tobacco company executives, and has fought for the interests of the tobacco companies in Washington. In other words, the Republicans are backed by very wealthy supporters, and will use their money and connections to roll back any gains made by working people.

Obama and his supporters will highlight the ignorant, reactionary ravings of his opponents to garner support for his reelection campaign. The Obama Democrats will emphasize any difference, however minuscule, to co-opt the electorate and win a second term in office. What is harder to recognise is the role of the US Democrats, particularly under Barack Obama, in continuing the Bush-Cheney policies, whether it be on the issue of civil liberties, challenging the untrammeled greed and pervasive financial corruption of Wall Street, or on the big questions of US wars overseas.

Ebony and ivory live together in perfect harmony

Back in 1982, Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder released a single called ‘Ebony and Ivory.’ It was a corny, superficial song, ostensibly meant to demonstrate that people of different skin colour can and should work together. Noble sentiments, even if it was expressed in a simplistic, juvenile touching sort of way. The lyrics speak of how people of all colours can all live and work together. Subsequent history has proven them to be correct – but not in the way the songwriters intended. The vicious, snarling ‘ivory’ of the Bush-Cheney cabal has been replaced by the smiling, touchy-feely ‘ebony’ Obama. The faces have changed, but the underlying course remains the same.

The Bush-Cheney regime was widely despised by the US working class (and governments overseas) as an administration ruling in the interests of the financial-industrial oligarchy. Its propaganda was exposed as war-mongering, and geared towards provoking confrontations with recalcitrant regimes in developing countries, intended to start expansionist wars and advance US imperial objectives. Growing opposition to these imperialist wars, and the steady erosion of civil liberties and democratic safeguards, prompted a change of tactics by the governing military-industrial-financial complex. Obama dutifully exploited the growing antiwar sentiment, and general revulsion against a narrow cabal that ruled to promote the interests of a super-rich elite to get elected. He made many promises to end wars, stop the indefinite detentions and renditions of suspects, and generally promote socially progressive economic policies domestically.

Now we can see that Obama posed as an antiwar candidate only to coopt the antiwar movement, and he quickly exposed his true colours soon after taking office. The election of Obama was a tactical shift by the US ruling class from open warfare to more covert forms of intervention, including Predator drone strikes, escalating anti-terrorism laws to lock up an ever increasing number of suspects, cracking down on insurgencies by using private security contractors (ie mercenaries), redesigning the Iraqi and Afghani occupations to make them less conspicuous but no less intrusive, and making cosmetic changes to the US economy while promoting the interests of the Wall Street elite. Not only has Obama started more imperialist wars overseas, he has nullified the Nuremberg laws by promoting the doctrine of ‘pre-emptive war’, a doctrine that was considered a war crime at the end of World War Two. He has refined the Bush-era doctrine of ‘regime change’, and he has promoted/coopted internal opposition groups to instigate covert regime change in the targeted countries. When that tactic fails, Obama has employed direct and lethal force.

Attack on civil liberties

Obama, the ‘yes we can’ president, promised a wave of changes after the Bush-Cheney regime was exposed as a corrupt, malignant, war-mongering administration.  Yet, since taking office after the 2008 elections, Obama has escalated the Bush-era attacks on civil liberties. The recently passed National Defence Authorisation Act, signed into law by President Obama in December 2011, contains clauses  1031 and 1032 that empower the US military to indefinitely detain any person – US citizens or otherwise – any person suspected of terrorism offences, or providing support for terrorist groups. This law repeals the fundamental human right of habeas corpus, and provides more scaffolding for an emerging police state structure in the United States. And this act also provides another $662 billion dollars for the US military to continue its predatory wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia and elsewhere. Obama has failed to close Guantanamo, and has overseen the construction of another Guantanamo-style secret prison in Bagram airbase, Afghanistan. The courageous journalist Anand Gopal investigated the existence of secret prisons, who stated that “there is a vast complex network of prisons across Afghanistan, mostly situated on US military bases.”

When accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in December 2009, Obama repudiated the international law laid down at Nuremberg more than 60 years ago, by advocating preemptive war. The Nuremberg trials, held in the immediate aftermath of World War Two, established the precedent that heads of state who plan and execute aggressive wars of expansion are guilty of war crimes and crime against humanity. Senior government leaders were held accountable for their decisions that cost the lives of millions of people. The international community expressly repudiated ‘preventive’ war in the context of German imperialism’s drive to establish economic and political domination in Europe. The US ruling class, seeking to dominate vast areas of the globe, escalated its drive to achieve economic supremacy in the early 1990s with the breakup of the Soviet Union. Obama, the allegedly ‘liberal’ Democrat President, extended the policy of establishing US economic hegemony by invoking the outlawed policy of ‘preventive war’. In so many words, aggressive and predatory wars are now an official part of US foreign policy, as elaborated by the fictional ‘anti-war’ President Obama.

The assassination of people overseas – euphemistically called ‘targeted killings’ – is an innovation for which Obama deserves full credit. Killings by unmanned Predator drones have been a characteristic feature of Obama’s administration. Rather than capture Osama Bin Laden and put him on trial, thus demonstrating the evidence of his guilt for all the world to see, Obama deemed it more appropriate to kill him. Bin Laden, a nonentity rendered obsolete by the forward-currents of history in the words of Robert Fisk, was sheltered in Pakistan, a solid US client state. Killing Bin Laden ensured that whatever secrets he had, died with him. Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Yemeni cleric was assassinated on Obama’s orders back in September 2011. His status as a US citizen, and all the constitutional protections afforded by that status, did not matter to the Obama administration.
Targeted killings were authorised by the Obama administration in February 2010 by then director of national intelligence, Admiral Dennis C Blair (retired). Obama knew that Blair had ties to the Indonesian military, a force guilty of serious human rights abuses including mass murder, rape and torture during Indonesia’s occupation of East Timor. In 1999, as the Indonesian forces went on a murderous rampage killing thousands of East Timorese, Blair as commander-in-chief of US forces in the Pacific, was ordered to convey to Indonesian general Wiranto to close down the pro-Indonesian militias. Blair meet with Wiranto, but offered further US military assistance to Indonesia. Wiranto continued to direct the militias that were murdering thousands of East Timorese.

The executive branch of government is now judge, jury and executioner. Awlaki was never convicted, or even charged, with any crime. He was accused by the corporate press as a hate-mongering preacher, and that seemed to be enough to condemn him.  Well, the US is renowned for producing hateful preachers – Pat Robertson, the late Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, John Hagee – but they are Christian hate-mongers so that is okay.

Yemen, Saudi Arabia and undermining democracy

The killing of Awlaki occurred in Yemen, soon after the return from temporary exile of the Yemeni dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh. Yemen has been convulsed by a courageous, continuing uprising that began in January 2011. The dictator Saleh has been a solid ally of the United States since he took power in 1978. The anti-regime protests, like similar uprisings throughout the Arab world, have shaken the regime, and the US is seeking a way to engineer an outcome that protects its interests while mollifying the protesters with some concessions. While Saleh has safeguarded US interests in Yemen, and has cooperated wholeheartedly with that other US client regime Saudi Arabia, the US intends that any post-Saleh regime will not harm US interests. The Obama administration has worked to moderate the demands of the protesters, encouraging the Yemeni regime to make cosmetic changes while preserving the main repressive state and economic apparatus intact. Obama is no friend of democracy and human rights in the Middle East, and as if to underscore the point, Obama approved a multi-billion dollar arms deal with the dictatorship of Saudi Arabia. Rather than encourage democratisation and support the brave people who have risen up in the Middle East, Obama has sought to maintain the repressive status quo, make certain limited concessions, and direct any political change towards a social outcome friendly to US interests.

We saw the same realpolitik calculations applied by the United States in the case of the Libyan uprising. Qadhafi’s regime had started as a pan-Arab, semi-socialist project that considerably developed the country’s infrastructure and improved the education and health care of the population. In the 1970s and 1980s Qadhafi provided an Arab Nasserist model of development. From the early 1990s, he began a Sadat-style reversal, opening up the country to pockets of private investment. By the early 2000s, he joined the US ‘war on terror’ and his regime had deteriorated into a Western-friendly dictatorship with ties to big European capital. The uprising that began in early 2011 resembled the similar protests in Tunisia and Egypt. Qadhafi waged a brutal counterinsurgency war to stamp out the rebels. Initially, the US was tepid in its response to the uprising – it was essentially playing a waiting game to see if Qadhafi, whose weapons had been supplied by the West, could defeat the insurgents. After all, the Western powers’ intelligence agencies were cooperating with the Qadhafi regime, the latter a useful ally in the ‘war on terror’.

However, once it became clear that the Qadhafi loyalists could not comprehensively defeat the rebels, the Obama administration moved swiftly to support setting up a ‘no-fly zone’, on the excuse that it was motivated by humanitarian considerations in preventing a genocide of Libyan people. Qadhafi’s counterinsurgency was brutal and savage – no less brutal and savage than the countless counterinsurgency wars launched by the US and its proxies in El Salvador, Guatemala, Chile, Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries where the US has supported dictatorial regimes in suppressing popular uprisings. NATO intervention in that conflict has meant that any post-Qadhafi regime will be beholden to the interests and needs of big European and American capital. Tariq Ali described it as ‘selective vigilantism’, bombing Libya to install a pro-Western Transitional National Council, while shoring up the despots in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Yemen. As the Socialist Worker magazine explained, the ‘noble aims’ of the West, ‘preventing massacres’ in Libya, is always exposed as a fraud by the greater crimes and atrocities of the imperial powers and their proxies, such as the NATO siege and obliteration of the town of Sirte, and the ethnic-cleansing of black African townships by the rebel forces which amount to crimes against humanity. Just to be clear about the real victors in Libya, the New York Times documented that while profit-making opportunities have receded in Iraq and Afghanistan, they have opened up exponentially in post-Qadhafi Libya.

Fake withdrawal

At the end of 2011, Obama announced that all American combat troops have left Iraq, thus fulfilling a campaign promise of 2008 to end that conflict. But upon closer inspection, that withdrawal was just as fake as the Bush-era ‘Mission Accomplished” theatrics. Not only is the US leaving behind 50 000 residual troops in the country, the largest US embassy in the world happens to be in Baghdad. Hundreds of thousands of private security contractors, ie. mercenaries, will continue to carry out counter-insurgency operations. Remaining American forces in Iraq will be rebranded as ‘advisors’ and ‘trainers’, obscuring their role as an occupying force. Obama exerted tremendous pressure on his proxy in Baghdad, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, to provide legal immunity for all US troops in Iraq. Maliki and the Iraqi government did not provide such a blanket exemption, because that measure would have meant political suicide for the fragile coalition headed by Maliki. With the Iraqis refusing to grant blanket immunity from prosecution, the US had no choice but to stage a withdrawal for public consumption and hide the scale of the US debacle in that country.

Sectarian violence has been incited by the Bush and Obama administrations, in order to divide and rule. 40 000 thousand American troops are stationed at bases in Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, supported by the US air force and navy aircraft carriers – all in close proximity to Iraq. As Michael Schwartz, professor of sociology at the State University of New York Stony Brook, has commented, Obama has reduced the ambitious scope to transform Iraq into an aggressive ally of Israel (an objective inherited from the Bush-Cheney days), but he has redesigned the Iraqi occupation to make it less conspicuous and placate his critics, and pursue the vast oil and natural gas reserves in the country. The US occupation has destroyed a functioning society, ruined the health care, electricity, medical and educational services, and left sectarian enclaves under the control of a US-controlled dictatorship in Baghdad.

Embracing Wall Street

Obama has been accused by his Democrat supporters, like veteran journalist Robert Scheer, of abandoning his electoral base by failing to tackle the predatory criminality of the Wall Street financial elite. However, Obama has consistently advocated the cause of the Wall Street bankers and financial speculators whose corrupt practices led to the global financial crash of 2008. He has done nothing to bring those responsible for that financial ruin to account, and instead has opted to shift the cost of that crisis onto working people. While it is obvious that the US Republicans oppose regulations for the financial sector and intend on continuing the policies of reckless financial speculation, Obama packed his cabinet with Wall Street representatives and economists with strong connections to the Wall Street bankers. Back in 2008, Obama (with agreement from Republican John McCain) gave the Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson the authority to supply $700 billion from federal funds in order to bail out the big banks, buying up the worthless mortgage-supported securities thus acquiring the debts accumulated by the private sector. In other words, the private sector can rack up an enormous debt, but the public will be required to foot the bill. In 2008, Obama appointed Mary Schapiro to head the Securities and Exchange Commission. Schapiro is a long-term Wall Street insider, and a solid representative of the big investment banks and financial institutions. This demonstrates that Obama is a servant of the financial plutocracy, and is not going to confront the people responsible for the financial crisis.

In September 2010, Obama made it perfectly clear that his government was no enemy of big business. In a speech entitled ‘Investing in America’ given to a CNBC-organised event broadcast by that channel from Washington, Obama dropped all the rhetoric against ‘fat cats’ and openly praised the ‘free market’ as the answer to the country’s economic problems. He talked about ‘partnering with Wall Street’ to revive the economy, and declared that “”In every speech, every interview that I have made, I’ve constantly said what sets America apart, what has made us successful over long term, is we’ve got the most dynamic free-market economy in the world.” A clear statement of an entrepreneur’s fantasy-philosophy.

It is time to occupy wall street, and remove the pretense that the US Democrats represent some kind of labour-friendly alternative. The Occupy movement, having spread to Australia, focuses on the malignant influence of the corporate hierarchy in subverting political democracy. The defence of jobs, health care, education, social services and our democratic rights needs to focus on the immense concentration of wealth in the hands of a tiny financial oligarchy. Socialists, activists, and all those concerned about the growing criminality of the US ruling class need to merge with and strengthen the Occupy movement, and reject the danger of falling into the trap of tailing the Democrat party.
Glenn Greenwald has stated that Obama is abandoning the basic principles of the Democrat party, leading the charge to cutback social security, health care, continuing to promote Bush-era policies on indefinite detention, torture of rendition suspects, assassinating US citizens (and others) without any regard for due process, and building secret prisons. It is time to bluntly state that  Obama is a mass murderer and war criminal, and belongs in the dock with Bush and Cheney.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Western oil firms remain as US exits Iraq

Dahr Jamail, Aljazeera, Jan 7, 2012

The end of the US military occupation does not mean Iraqis have full control of their oil.

(Click the pic to enlarge it)

Baghdad, Iraq - While the US military has formally ended its occupation of Iraq, some of the largest western oil companies, ExxonMobil, BP and Shell, remain.

On November 27, 38 months after Royal Dutch Shell announced its pursuit of a massive gas deal in southern Iraq, the oil giant had its contract signed for a $17bn flared gas deal.
Three days later, the US-based energy firm Emerson submitted a bid for a contract to operate at Iraq’s giant Zubair oil field, which reportedly holds some eight million barrels of oil.

Earlier this year, Emerson was awarded a contract to provide crude oil metering systems and other technology for a new oil terminal in Basra, currently under construction in the Persian Gulf, and the company is installing control systems in the power stations in Hilla and Kerbala.

Continues >>

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Marwan Barghouti: Prisoner of Conscience

MWC News, Sunday, 08 January 2012

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Marwan Barghouti
From March 29 – May 3, 2002, during the second Intifada, Israel conducted Operation Defensive Shield. Before Cast Lead, it was its largest military operation since June 1967 when Israel occupied Palestine.On September 23, 2001, a warrant was issued for Barghouti’s arrest.

On April 14, 2002, he was arrested on spurious charges of murder, aiding and abetting murder, promoting murder, criminal conspiracy, and being an active member of a terrorist organization.

At the time he said:

“I am a political leader, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, elected by my people. Israel has no right to try me, to accuse me, to judge me. This is a violation of international law. I have a (legal) right to resist occupation.”

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