Thursday, June 20, 2013

Mideast Wars: Fool Us Once, Shame on You, Fool Us Twice…

Susan Rice at the UN: Deja Vu All Over Again?

By Carl Bloice

Beaver County Peace Links via

June 20, 2013 - Susan Rice and Colin Powell have more than one thing in common, but if things continue to move as they are now, the most historically significant one may be that they both went to the United Nations with “evidence” that got our country involved in a military conflict in a volatile part of the world,  resulting in massive death and destruction – all for no good reason.

On February 5, 2003, then-Secretary of State General Colin Powell told the United Nations Security Council that Iraq possessed dangerous weapons of mass destruction and the country’s then ruler, Saddam Hussein, was hoodwinking U.N. inspectors by hiding them. It was, as Democracy Now! said last week, “a defining moment “in the Bush administration’s push to invade Iraq.

On February 6, 2003, Rice, then a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told NPR Powell “has proved that Iraq has these weapons and is hiding them, and I don’t think many informed people doubted that.”

What we know now is that what the then highest-ranking African American official in the Bush Administration said was not true. I recall the day NBA great Charles Barkley was asked what was the question of the day and answered “Where are the weapons of mass destruction?”

Turned out there were none.

It was what the New York Times last week termed, “the fiasco of nonexistent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq”

In the end it didn’t matter much. It was the U.S. public and much of the international community that had been hoodwinked. The U.S. invaded Iraq, overthrew Hussein and set in motion a decade-long war that resulted on 0ver 4,440 U.S. troops deaths, over 32,000 seriously. Over 235 are reported to have taken their own lives while deployed. More than 100,000 Iraqi civilians lost their lives and 1.6. million were displaced from their homes. All at the cost of over $I trillion.

Last week, Powell’s former aide, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who prepared the U.N. speech, told Democracy Now!, “I don’t believe the hype about that presentation having been the ultimate presentation... that led us to war with Iraq…George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and others had decided to go to war with Iraq long before Colin Powell gave that presentation.”

“Frankly, we were all wrong,” said Wilkerson. “Was the intelligence politicized in addition to being wrong at its roots? Absolutely.”

When Powell gave his UN presentation there were already serious questions raised, even in the mainstream mass media, about the sources of the evidence for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, including shadowy figures in the world of international intrigue, like Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi, aka “Curveball,” who later admitted he lied.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Yes, We Make a Difference. Domestic Dissent Can Change US Foreign Policy for the Better

From the Vietnam era to the Iraq war, it's clear that the moral authority of protest has altered US government behavior

Medea Benjamin of Code Pink

Medea Benjamin of Code Pink protests in Florida where the group says the company Raytheon builds drones. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

By Mark Weisbrot

Beaver County Peace Links via The Guardian UK

June 17, 2013 - Several years ago, I had lunch with a US government official who told me about a trip that I had taken, that almost nobody knew about. I didn't have to ask him where he got the information. For as long as I can remember, our government has been spying on dissidents, especially those who oppose crimes committed in the name of "national security".

When I was a student at the University of Michigan, the FBI took down the license plates numbers of the people who drove to our meetings of the local Latin American Solidarity Committee, which was trying to end the US-sponsored terrorism and wars in Central America. This we learned from documents released under the Freedom of Information Act. The surveillance of our local, peaceful, and law-abiding group – long before the Patriot Act or the "war on terror" – was so extensive that one of our members who wrote a history of the group had to thank the FBI for keeping such a complete and detailed record of our activities.

The current revelations of a vast, secret NSA surveillance program are, of course, a continuation of what our government has been doing for the past century – the main difference being that the dragnet has gotten much larger due to change in communications technology. But there is an often-overlooked political reason for this mass intrusion on our personal communications: the government is gathering actionable intelligence in order to use it against those who oppose unpopular, unjust, and often criminal policies of that same government. And it has good reason to do so, because that opposition can be quite effective.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Can Public Opinion Stop U.S. War in Syria?

Smoke rises over a battle-scarred Saif Al Dawla district in Aleppo, Syria, on October 2, 2012. (Photo: Manu Brabo)

By Tom Hayden

Beaver County Peace Links

June 14, 2013 - We are edging closer to the neo-conservative dream of total conflagration in the Muslim Middle East. Despite only 11 percent public support for US military intervention in Syria, a reluctant President Barack Obama is being pushed into escalation. 

The given reason is that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons “on a small scale multiple times in the past year,” according to the White House. Intelligence officials say 100-130 people died from the attacks. Even if the chemical testing proves accurate, that can only be a pretext in a conflict, which has claimed at least 93,000 lives and seen barbarism on both sides.

The real reason appears to be that the balance of forces has changed somewhat in Assad’s favor since the recent victory at Qusayr by his troops and their Hezbollah allies. Fearing the collapse of rebel forces, the US is stepping onto the treadmill of escalation. Whatever steps are taken now by the US and NATO, of course, if they choose, can be countered by Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah. 

Obama’s reluctance is reflected in a statement by his adviser Ben Rhodes, responding to hawks like Senator John McCain:

“People need to understand that not only are there huge costs associated with a no-fly zone, not only would it be difficult to implement, but the notion that you can solve the very deeply rooted challenges on the ground from the air are not immediately apparent.”

Rarely has a call to escalation been so muted.