Confronting the lies about the Iraq invasion March 18, 2013Posted by rogerhollander in Dick Cheney, George W. Bush, Iraq and Afghanistan, Media, War.
Tags: anti-war, anti-war movement, anti-war protests, brian becker, cheney, George Bush, history, Iraq, Iraq invasion, Iraq war, liberals, Media, roger hollander, saddam hussein, U.S. imperialism, us empire, wmd
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Please circulate this message widely among your friends and family.
Statement by Brian Becker, national coordinator of the ANSWER Coalition, on the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq
Confronting the lies about the Iraq invasion
Ten years ago, the United States and Britain invaded Iraq. The history of how this invasion came about has been largely falsified by both the right-wing supporters of the invasion and the liberal commentators who opposed the war.
500,000 rally against looming war on Jan 18, 2003
The core argument of the professional liberal commentators and historians is that Bush hoodwinked the country and the general public, with the help of a supplicant media, by scaring people into thinking that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and the Bush administration had to invade to defend America and its people.
The fallacious handwringing liberal position was typified in the recent 10th-anniversary account of the war by Micah Sifry, published by the National Memo.
“But 10 years ago, it was not a good time to be a war skeptic in America. It rarely is. The vast majority of ‘smart’ and ‘serious’ people had convinced themselves that in the face of Saddam Hussein’s alleged stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction, the prudent thing to do was to go to war to remove him from power,” writes Sifry.
This is a fanciful and false account.
The “country” was not hoodwinked. There was no general feeling that the U.S. must strike first or be engulfed by Saddam Hussein’s military.
The opposite was true. The people of this country—and the world—mobilized in unprecedented numbers prior to a military conflict under the banner: “Stop the War Before it Starts.”
An unprecedented, massive anti-war movement
In the months prior to the invasion, I was the central organizer of the mass anti-war actions in Washington, D.C., that brought many hundreds of thousands of people into the streets of the capital in repeated demonstrations—on Oct. 26, 2002; Jan. 18, 2003; and March 15, 2003.
The Jan. 18, 2003, demonstration filled up a vast expanse of the Mall west of the Capitol building, which houses the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. The Washington Post described the Jan. 18 demonstration as the largest anti-war protest since the end of the Vietnam War.
In addition to the Washington demonstrations, there were mass anti-war protests in cities throughout the United States, on both the east and west coasts and nearly everywhere in between.
Thousands of organizations and millions of individuals were participants and organizers in this grassroots global movement.
On Feb. 15, 2003, there were coinciding demonstrations in more than 1,000 cities in almost every country—including many hundreds of cities and towns in the United States.
The rise of a global anti-war movement of such magnitude—before the actual start of military hostilities—was without precedent in human history. Mass anti-war movements and even revolutions have occurred inside one or more of the warring countries at the time of their defeat or perceived defeat, but the Iraq anti-war movement of 2002-2003 was in anticipation of a war and before the gruesome impact of the slaughter could be seen and felt.
The depth of the movement was breathtaking for the organizers and the participants. Millions went into the streets over and over and over again. They knew that they were in a race against time. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld were likewise racing to go to war, not because Iraq was getting stronger or closer to having weapons of mass destruction but because this global grassroots anti-war movement had the potential to shake the political status quo to its very foundations
In February 2003, The New York Times described the global anti-war movement as the world’s “second super-power.”
Why the race toward war
It was under these circumstances that the “mass media” went into overdrive to promote the war. Anti-war voices on television were booted off the air. The airwaves were filled up with the obviously bogus imagery that Iraq in league with unspecified “Muslim terrorists” was about to engulf the United States in a nuclear mushroom cloud. The message was that war was inevitable and that protests were futile.
Bush rushed hundreds of thousands of troops to Kuwait in a race to launch the invasion that they knew was likely to destroy the Iraqi military in a few weeks.
The Democratic Party leaders in Congress had already acquiesced to Bush and Cheney’s war demands. Even though the calls and letters to Congress against the war were running 200 to 1, both the Senate and the House of Representatives, by lopsided margins, passed resolutions on Oct. 11, 2002, authorizing Bush to use the armed forces of the United States against Iraq.
The Iraq invasion was a criminal enterprise. Millions of Iraqis died, more than five million were forced into the miserable life of refugees, thousands of U.S. troops were killed and tens of thousands of others suffered life-changing physical and mental injuries.
Today, Bush and Cheney are writing books and collecting huge speaking fees. They are shielded from prosecution by the current Democratic-led government.
The war in Iraq was not simply a “mistake” nor was it the consequence of a hoodwinked public. It was rather a symptom of the primary reality of the modern-day political system in the U.S. This system is addicted to war. It relies on organized violence, or the threat of violence, to maintain the dominant position of the United States all over the world. The U.S. has invaded or bombed one country after another since the end of the so-called Cold War. It has military bases in 130 countries and spends more on lethal violence than all other countries combined. Yes, in the United States the adult population is encouraged to vote every two or four years for one of two ruling-class parties that enforce the global projection of U.S. empire with equal vigor when they take turns at the helm. And this is labeled the exercise of “democracy” and proof that the United States is indeed the land of the free.
The invasion of Iraq succeeded in creating mass human suffering and death. What Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld failed to anticipate was that the Iraqi people, like all people everywhere, would never willingly accept life under occupation. It was the unanticipated resistance of the Iraqi people that eventually forced the withdrawal of the occupation forces nine long years later.
Brian Becker was the lead organizer of the largest anti-war demonstrations in Washington, D.C., between Oct. 26, 2002, and the start of the Iraq invasion on March 19, 2003. The October demonstration drew 200,000 people. Less than two months later, on Jan. 18, 2003, approximately 500,000 demonstrated again in what the Washington Post called the “largest anti-war demonstration” in Washington, D.C., since the end of the Vietnam War. On Feb. 15, 2003, millions of people demonstrated in nearly 1,000 cities around the world, including several hundred cities and towns in the United States. On March 15, just four days before the start of the invasion, 100,000 demonstrated once gain in Washington, D.C.
The Lyndon Johnson tapes: Richard Nixon’s ‘treason’ March 16, 2013Posted by rogerhollander in History, War.
Tags: 1968 democratic convention, anna chennault, charles wheeler, chicago 1968, david taylor, history, hubert humphrey, lbj, Lyndon Johnson, richard daley, Richard Nixon, roger hollander, vietnam peace talks, Vietnam War
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16 March 2013 Last updated at 01:09 BBC GMT
By David Taylor
Declassified tapes of President Lyndon Johnson’s telephone calls provide a fresh insight into his world. Among the revelations – he planned a dramatic entry into the 1968 Democratic Convention to re-join the presidential race. And he caught Richard Nixon sabotaging the Vietnam peace talks… but said nothing.
After the Watergate scandal ta ught Richard Nixon the consequences of recording White House conversations none of his successors have dared to do it. But Nixon wasn’t the first.
He got the idea from his predecessor Lyndon Johnson, who felt there was an obligation to allow historians to eventually eavesdrop on his presidency.
“They will provide history with the bark off,” Johnson told his wife, Lady Bird.
The final batch of tapes released by the LBJ library covers 1968, and allows us to hear Johnson’s private conversations as his Democratic Party tore itself apart over the question of Vietnam.
- Charles Wheeler was the BBC’s Washington correspondent from 1965 to 1973
- He learned in 1994 that LBJ had evidence of Richard Nixon’s sabotage of the Vietnam peace talks, and interviewed key Johns on staff
- Wheeler died in 2008, the same year the LBJ tapes were declassified
- David Taylor was his Washington-based producer for many years
The 1968 convention, held in Chicago, was a complete shambles.
Tens of thousands of anti-war protesters clashed with Mayor Richard Daley’s police, determined to force the party to reject Johnson’s Vietnam war strategy.
As they taunted the police with cries of “The whole world is watching!” one man in particular was watching very closely.
Lyndon Baines Johnson was at his ranch in Texas, having announced five months earlier that he wouldn’t seek a second term.
The president was appalled at the violence and although many of his staff sided with the students, and told the president the police were responsible for “disgusting abuse of police power,” Johnson picked up the phone, ordered the dictabelt machine to start recording and congratulated Mayor Daley for his handling of the protest.
The president feared the convention delegates were about to reject his war policy and his chosen successor, Hubert Humphrey.
So he placed a series of calls to his staff at the convention to outline an astonishing plan. He planned to leave Texas and fly into Chicago.
He would then enter the convention and announce he was putting his name forward as a candidate for a second term.
It would have transformed the 1968 election. His advisers were sworn to secrecy and even Lady Bird did not know what her husband was considering.
On the White House tapes we learn that Johnson wanted to know from Daley how many delegates would support his candidacy. LBJ only wanted to get back into the race if Daley could guarantee the party would fall in line behind him.
They also discussed whether the president’s helicopter, Marine One, could land on top of the Hilton Hotel to avoid the anti-war protesters.
Daley assured him enough delegates would support his nomination but the plan was shelved after the Secret Service warned the president they could not guarantee his safety.
The idea that Johnson might have been the candidate, and not Hubert Humphrey, is just one of the many secrets contained on the White House tapes.
They also shed light on a scandal that, if it had been known at the time, would have sunk the candidacy of Republican presidential nominee, Richard Nixon.
By the time of the election in November 1968, LBJ had evidence Nixon had sabotaged the Vietnam war peace talks – or, as he put it, that Nixon was guilty of treason and had “blood on his hands”.
The BBC’s former Washington correspondent Charles Wheeler learned of this in 1994 and conducted a series of interviews with key Johnson staff, such as defence secretary Clark Clifford, and national security adviser Walt Rostow.
We now know…
- After the Viet Cong’s Tet offensive, White House doves persuaded Johnson to end the war
- Johnson loathed Senator Bobby Kennedy but the tapes show he was genuinely devastated by his assassination
- He feared vice-president Hubert Humphrey would go soft on Vietnam if elected president
- The BBC’s Charles Wheeler would have been under FBI surveillance when he met administration officials in 1968
- In 1971 Nixon made huge efforts to find a file containing everything Johnson knew in 1968 about Nixon’s skulduggery
But by the time the tapes were declassified in 2008 all the main protagonists had died, including Wheeler.
Now, for the first time, the whole story can be told.
It begins in the summer of 1968. Nixon feared a breakthrough at the Paris Peace talks designed to find a negotiated settlement to the Vietnam war, and he knew this would derail his campaign.
He therefore set up a clandestine back-channel involving Anna Chennault, a senior campaign adviser.
At a July meeting in Nixon’s New York apartment, the South Vietnamese ambassador was told Chennault represented Nixon and spoke for the campaign. If any message needed to be passed to the South Vietnamese president, Nguyen Van Thieu, it would come via Chennault.
In late October 1968 there were major concessions fro m Hanoi which promised to allow meaningful talks to get underway in Paris – concessions that would justify Johnson calling for a complete bombing halt of North Vietnam. This was exactly what Nixon feared.
Chennault was despatched to the South Vietnamese embassy with a clear message: the South Vietnamese government should withdraw from the talks, refuse to deal with Johnson, and if Nixon was elected, they would get a much better deal.
So on the eve of his planned announcement of a halt to the bombing, Johnson learned the South Vietnamese were pulling out.
He was also told why. The FBI had bugged the ambassador’s phone and a transcripts of Anna Chennault’s calls were sent to the White House. In one conversation she tells the ambassador to “just hang on through election”.
Johnson was told by Defence Secretary Clifford that the interference was illegal and threatened the chance for peace.
In a series of remarkable White House recordings we can hear Johnson’s reaction to the news.
In one call to Senator Richard Russell he says: “We have found that our friend, the Republican nominee, our California friend, has been playing on the outskirts with our enemies and our friends both, he has been doing it through rather subterranean sources. Mrs Chennault is warning the South Vietnamese not to get pulled into this Johnson move.”
He orders the Nixon campaign to be placed under FBI surveillance and demands to know if Nixon is personally involved.
When he became convinced it was being orchestrated by the Republican candidate, the president called Senator Everett Dirksen, the Republican leader in the Senate to get a message to Nixon.
The president knew what was going on, Nixon should back off and the subterfuge amounted to treason.
Publicly Nixon was suggesting he had no idea why the South Vietnamese withdrew from the talks. He even offered to travel to Saigon to get them back to the negotiating table.
Johnson felt it was the ultimate expression of political hypocrisy but in calls recorded with Clifford they express the fear that going public would require revealing the FBI were bugging the ambassador’s phone and the National Security Agency (NSA) was intercepting his communications with Saigon.
So they decided to say nothing.
The president did let Humphrey know and gave him enough information to sink his opponent. But by then, a few days from the election, Humphrey had been to ld he had closed the gap with Nixon and would win the presidency. So Humphrey decided it would be too disruptive to the country to accuse the Republicans of treason, if the Democrats were going to win anyway.
Nixon ended his campaign by suggesting the administration war policy was in shambles. They couldn’t even get the South Vietnamese to the negotiating table.
He won by less than 1% of the popular vote.
Once in office he escalated the war into Laos and Cambodia, with the loss of an additional 22,000 American lives, before finally settling for a peace agreement in 1973 that was within grasp in 1968.
The White House tapes, combined with Wheeler’s interviews with key White House personnel, provide an unprecedented insight into how Johnson handled a series of crises that rocked his presidency. Sadly, we will never have that sort of insight again.
It’s time to end the Korean War March 13, 2013Posted by rogerhollander in Asia, North/South Korea, War.
Tags: history, korea, korea armistice, korea ceasefire, korea history, korea nuclear, korea peace treaty, korea sanctions, korea truce, korean war, north korea, roger hollander, south korea, thomas walkom
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Roger’s note: it is refreshing to see a columnist in a mainstream publication give a relatively balanced analysis of the situation on the Korean peninsula. Unfortunately, I don’t expect we are likely to see this kind of reporting in the North Korea demonizing US media.
Forget sanctions against Pyongyang. Until a real peace treaty is signed with North Korea, nothing will be solved.
Hulton Archive / GETTY IMAGES file photo
The ceasefire of 1953 called for all foreign troops to be withdrawn from the Korean peninsula. The Chinese withdrew, as did the Canadians, British and most other UN forces. But the Americans, at the behest of the South Korean government, stayed.
There is a way to defuse the standoff with North Korea. It will not be easy. But short of going to war again in the Korean peninsula, it is probably the only solution.
That solution is to negotiate and sign a real peace treaty with Pyongyang.
The great secret of the Korean War is that it has never ended. An armistice was signed in 1953 to halt the fighting and let belligerents begin talks on a final peace treaty.
But those talks never occurred.
This history — of what happened and what did not happen in 1953 — is crucial for an understanding of North Korea’s almost pathological approach to the world.
It also helps to explain why North Korea announced Monday that it is, in effect, tearing up the armistice.
The ceasefire of 1953 was not a deal between North and South Korea. South Korean president Syngman Rhee refused to sign on.
Rather it was an arrangement signed by commanders of the main military forces at war in the peninsula — the Americans on behalf of the United Nations Command (which included Canadian troops) and the North Koreans on behalf of their own soldiers and so-called Chinese volunteers.
The armistice set the demarcation line between territory controlled by the North Koreans and territory controlled by the UN Command.
That dividing line was supposed to be temporary. The armistice called for negotiations to begin within three months on a comprehensive political settlement for the peninsula.
And it called for all foreign troops — UN and Chinese — to be eventually withdrawn.
The Chinese did withdraw, as did the Canadians, British and most other UN forces. But the Americans, at the behest of the South Korean government they had set up, stayed. They are still there.
In violation of the armistice, the U.S. arbitrarily set the maritime boundary between the two Koreas. Between 1958 and 1991, the U.S. armed its forces in South Korea with nuclear weapons, another violation.
So when Pyongyang says, as it did this week, that the terms of that armistice have been breached by the UN side, it is not entirely inaccurate.
To assign blame for the standoff on the Korean peninsula is a mug’s game. Most historians agree that the Northern troops did invade the South in 1950. But they also agree that both North and South had been conducting raids into one another’s territory during the months before.
During the war, both sides committed unspeakable atrocities. Both lost hundreds of thousands of civilians although, thanks to UN bombing raids, the North lost markedly more.
The North has been a dictatorship since its inception. The South, while a military dictatorship for most of the post-war period, embraced democracy in 1987.
The UN side may have broken the armistice by keeping U.S. troops in the South. But the North broke the ceasefire in even more outrageous ways — from its assassination forays to its 2010 shelling of South Korean civilians.
The real question now is what to do next.
Washington’s insistence that the North give up its nuclear weapons is almost certainly a non-starter. The North’s leaders saw what happened when Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Libya’s Moammar Ghadafi abandoned their nuclear programs. They are unlikely to make the same mistake.
Sanctions against the North haven’t worked. And even with China agreeing to enforce them, they are unlikely to work in the future. North Korea has proven itself both stubborn and resilient.
Only two choices are left: Reignite the war that never ended or make peace. War against a nuclear-armed North Korea is madness. Peace talks on the basis of the 1953 armistice would surely make more sense.
North Korea has long insisted it wants normal relations with the U.S. and others. Why not call Pyongyang’s bluff?
As a country that, in a roundabout way, was a party to the 1953 armistice, Canada is in a good position to make the case.
Thomas Walkom’s column appears Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.
Manning: Before Wikileaks, Leaked Docs Offered to NYT, WaPo February 28, 2013Posted by rogerhollander in Civil Liberties, Democracy, Foreign Policy, Iraq and Afghanistan, Media, War.
Tags: Afghanistan War, bradley manning, davide coombs, denise lind, foreign policy, Iraq war, journalism, Media, military commission, roger hollander, war, whistle blower, whistleblower, wikileaks
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Roger’s note: it is impossible not to compare Bradley Manning’s heroic act with that of Daniel Ellsberg’s Vietnam era release of the Pentagon Papers. Ellsberg was acquitted of the charges the government laid against him, and was vindicated both morally and legally. Unfortunately, we live in and era that is even more repressive than it was in the 1960s, and era where torture and extra-judicial murder are normalized (or should I say sanctified?). Bradley Manning has already and will continue to suffer for his brave and patriotic action. Big Brother wants us all to know that he is watching and will show no mercy.
Published on Thursday, February 28, 2013 by Common Dreams
Whistleblower reads prepared statement: Wanted documents to reveal “true costs of war”
(Credit: Reuters)In what The Guardian‘s correspondent Ed Pilkington describes as a “bombshell” revelation, Bradley Manning on Thursday revealed that prior to reaching out to Wikileaks with a trove of government and military documents, the whistleblower first contacted more established media outlets, including the New York Times and Washington Post, but was brushed off by editors.
As Pilkington, present in the courtroom for the reading of Manning’s statement, reports:
While he was on leave from Iraq and staying in the Washington area in January 2010 he contacted the Washington Post and asked would it be interested in receiving information that he said would be “enormously important to the American people”. He spoke to a woman who said she was a reporter but “she didn’t seem to take me seriously”.
The woman said, according to Manning’s account, that the paper would only be interested subject to vetting by senior editors.
Despairing of that route, Manning turned to the New York Times. He called the public editor of the paper but only got voicemail.
He then tried other numbers on the paper but also got put through to voicemail, and though he left a message with his Skype contact details, nobody called him back. Manning added he had also contemplated going to the website Politico, but harsh weather prevented him.
Such testimony belies the US government’s ongoing insinuation that Wikileaks—which specifically describes itself as a “not-for-profit media organization”—somehow played a role in compelling Manning to leak the documents. It further provides evidence that Manning was acting in the capacity of a true government or military whistleblower by proactively seeking out the media in hopes of bringing to light what he considered information vital to the public interest.
“I believed if the public, particularly the American public, could see this it could spark a debate on the military and our foreign policy in general as it applied to Iraq and Afghanistan. It might cause society to reconsider the need to engage in counter terrorism while ignoring the human situation of the people we engaged with every day.” –Bradley Manning
Manning also explained his deeper motivations, which included hopes that the leaks documents would expose the “true costs of war”. According to Pilkington’s account, Manning stated:
“I felt we were risking so much for people who seemed to be unwilling to cooperate with us leading to frustration and hostility on both sides. I began to get depressed about he situation we were mired in year after year.
“We were obsessed with capturing and killing human targets on lists and ignoring goals and missions. I believed if the public, particularly the American public, could see this it could spark a debate on the military and our foreign policy in general as it applied to Iraq and Afghanistan. It might cause society to reconsider the need to engage in counter terrorism while ignoring the human situation of the people we engaged with every day.”
Thursday’s courtroom proceedings were covered best on Twitter:
Thursday’s revelations came as Manning read a prepared statement—reportedly handwritten over 35 pages—before a packed military courtroom. The statement is Manning’s first complete account of what government and military information he leaked to Wikileaks, and an explanation of why he chose to do so.
Manning pled guilty to a series of charges, including providing Wikileaks with confidential military information, but denied the most serious charge against him, that of “aiding the enemy.”
According to FireDogLake’s Kevin Gosztola, reporting live from the courtroom, Manning’s plea makes possible two rulings by the presiding judge: “guilty to lesser-included offenses pursuant to the plea” or “guilty of the greater offenses in the original charges.” The court cannot find him “not guilty” based on his plea.
Pilkington also reported that Manning “confirmed he wants to be tried by military judge [Colonel Denise Lind] alone,” with no military equivalent of a jury.
In addition to revealign his attempts to contact other outlets first, Manning also told the courtroom that once he’d established communication with Wikileaks, “No one associated with [the outlet] pressured me into sending more information.”
In regards to his leak of the collateral murder video, Manning said, “I was disturbed by the response to injured children” and that the soldiers captured in the video “seemed to not value human life by referring to [their targets] as ‘dead bastards.’”
He also said that he released the intelligence because he wanted to “spark a domestic public debate about our foreign policy and the war in general,” and added: “At the time I believed, and I still believe, these are … [among] … the most significant documents of our time.”
Through his lawyer, David Coombs, the soldier pleaded guilty to 10 lesser charges that included possessing and wilfully communicating to an unauthorised person all the main elements of the WikiLeaks disclosure. That covered the so-called “collateral murder” video of an Apache helicopter attack in Iraq; some US diplomatic cables including one of the early WikiLeaks publications the Reykjavik cable; portions of the Iraq and Afghanistan warlogs, some of the files on detainees in Guantanamo; and two intelligence memos.
These lesser charges each carry a two-year maximum sentence, committing Manning to a possible upper limit of 20 years in prison.
Manning also pleaded not guilty to 12 counts, including to the largest charge of “aiding the enemy,” which would have supposed that he knowingly gave help to al-Qaida either by leaking secret intelligence directly or via its publication on the internet. He also denied that at the time he gave the information to Wikileaks, he had “reason to believe such information could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation”.
According to Gosztola, Manning pled guilty to “all that was anticipated except he did not plead guilty to releasing the Granai air strike video.”
U.S. drones out of Africa, the Middle East, Asia and everywhere! February 28, 2013Posted by rogerhollander in War.
Tags: answer coalition, drone missiles, drones, political protest, roger hollander
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Be part of the action on Saturday, April 13 at the White House
U.S. drones out of Africa, the Middle East, Asia and everywhere!
National and local organizations are coming together for a major protest on April 13 at the White House to Say NO to U.S. Drone attacks in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and everywhere.
The Coalition sponsoring the demonstration is growing rapidly as new organizations join the effort.
ANSWER Coalition; Cynthia McKinney, former Congressperson; Akbar Muhammad, International Rep. of Nation of Islam; Revival of Pan Africanism Forum; African Diaspora for Democracy and Development; CRI-Panafricain; Democratic Union of Gambian Activists – D.C.; Ramsey Clark, former U.S. attorney general; Veterans for Peace; Col. Ann Wright; CODEPINK; CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations); CAIR-MD; Nisa Muhammad, writer, Final Call newspaper; Jared Ball, radio host, WPFW (Pacifica); Rev. Graylan Hagler, Senior Minister, Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ; Imam Mahdi Bray, Freedom Coalition; Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director, Partnership for Civil Justice Fund; Zaki Baruti, Universal African Peoples Organization; American-Iranian Friendship Committee (AIFC); Peta Lindsay, Party for Socialism and Liberation; Haiti Liberte; Political Education and Action Committee-Howard University; Students for Justice in Palestine-Temple U.; Conflict Free Campus Initiative–Temple U.; and many more.
Join the rising tide of support for the April 13 demonstration and start mobilizing from your area to be at the White House on as we take our message straight to the war makers!
Buses, vans and car caravans will be coming from New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and other cities.
As U.S. forces have begun to deploy to Niger to expand the deadly drone warfare program, now more than ever the importance of the April 13 demonstration is becoming clear. 100 armed U.S. troops are heading to Niger to set up a drone base aimed at assisting the French-led intervention in that country. This is on top of the 4,000 troops currently training in various war-fighting tactics to serve as a fast-response and “training” force for Africom. On every level and in a number of countries, the United States is expanding its drone program and deepening its military presence on the African continent.
On April 13 at the White House a growing coalition of groups and individuals will be coming together to say NO to this expansion of imperialist military power with drones at the tip of the spear. Endless war and hostility to the peoples of Africa and around the world is a policy that is totally contrary to the interests of the broad mass of American people. On the eve of the massive budget cuts of the so-called sequester, and despite all the hype about “Pentagon cuts,” the machine of war still rolls on in the African continent and across the world, as working and poor people in America will be made to suffer more hardship.
The message from the Obama administration, Congress, the Pentagon and the entire elite establishment is more war, less for people’s needs, here and across the globe. Add your name to the growing list of endorsers. Organize from your cities and towns to be in Washington, D.C., on April 13 to demand U.S. Imperialist Drones Out of Africa and Everywhere!
Obama Inherits and Normalizes the Arrogance and Impunity of Nixon, Reagan and Both Bushes February 26, 2013Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Civil Liberties, Criminal Justice, Democracy, War.
Tags: bruce a. dixon, constitution, democracy, drones, george h.w. bush, George W. Bush, history, kill list, nixon, presidents, reagan, roger hollander, rule of law, terror tuesday, war president
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When Republican presidents Nixon, Reagan and Bush waged secret wars based on mountains of lies and deceit, they were nearly impeached, but in each case Democrats in control of Congress could not pull the trigger. As a result, the Obama White House basks in a presidential culture of murderous arrogance and lawless impunity.
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Bruce A. Dixon
Back in the early seventies, when Richard Nixon secretly bombed Laos and Cambodia, two countries the US was not at war with, and concealed it from Congress and the public, the crime was serious enough to be the fourth article of impeachment drawn up against him. A dozen years later, when Ronald Reagan defied Congress to wage a bloody contra war in Central America funded by running drugs into the US from Central America and selling arms to Iran, Reagan only avoided impeachment by pretending he just couldn’t remember much of it any more and letting his henchmen take the fall. George W. Bush too was widely reviled as a murderous fraud for his lies about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and more, with millions of Americans and millions more around the world protesting his invasion of Iraq before it even began.
But in the end, none of these Republican warmongers were impeached while in office or indicted afterward because Democrats, in control of Congress every time, could never bring themselves to pull the trigger. So Tricky Dick Nixon stepped down. Reagan doddered off to the ranch, and Dubya’s at home right now watching American Idol. Barack Hussein Obama may be a different color and from a different party but he inherits their arrogance, their immunity, their impunity.
This White House openly brags about its “Terror Tuesday” meetings in which US special forces and drones have been dispatched to and from dozens of undisclosed countries to kidnap, torture or murder thousands of people, in the case of drone strikes mostly innocents, to the cheers and jokes of cruise missile liberals like Ed Schulz and Bill Maher, who calls Obama the “black ninja president.” The potent symbol of a black face in that high place has normalized the conduct of lawless aggressive war and secretive state murder among parts of the population which had no trouble calling a crime a crime when committed by a white Republican. In that sense, the First Black President is a little bit unlike, but mostly very much like his nefarious predecessors.
It’s worth noting that in the debates between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, kill-at-will drone wars, the militarization of Africa, Wall Street’s immunity from prosecution, and the push to privatize and charterize public education were points upon which both candidates were in complete agreement. But if Mitt Romney were president today wouldn’t many more of us be in the street about these things? Black apologists, as Davey D notes, try to shut criticism of this president down in the misguided name of black unity, and some white activists stay home because they don’t want to be seen as racist whites hating on the black president.
A Facebook friend in Atlanta remarked last week that whenever George Bush was rumored coming to town, his inbox would be full of emergency mobilization notices. But with the current War President about to visit, he said, it looked like his only correspondent might be the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
It’s going to be a long, long four more years.
For Black Agenda Radio, I‘m Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.
Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report, and a member of the state committee of the Georgia Green Party. Contact him via this site’s contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.
Tags: al-Qaeda, Anwar al-Awlak, civilian casualties, drone attacks, drone missiles, drone strikes, enemy combatant, jon queally, lindsey graham, roger hollander
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Republican from South Carolina becomes first elected official to impart government’s estimate of civilians killed by US drones abroad
Becoming the first elected government official to publicly state an estimated number of “innocent people” killed in US drone attacks overseas, Sen. Lindsey Graham told a local crowd in his home state of South Carolina that “We’ve killed 4,700.”
“Sometimes you hit innocent people, and I hate that, but we’re at war,” said Sen Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
Speaking to a group of Rotarians at a forum in Easley, South Carolina, Graham responded to a question about drones by saying, “Sometimes you hit innocent people, and I hate that, but we’re at war, and we’ve taken out some very senior members of Al-Qaeda.”
His remarks, reported by the local Easley Patch, included a defense of the use of drones despite their propensity to kill innocent bystanders, including women and children.
“I didn’t want him to have a trial,” Graham stated, refering to a US citizen, Anwar Al-Awlaki, who was assassinated in Yemen by a missile from a US drone in 2011.
“We’re not fighting a crime, we’re fighting a war,” Graham said. “I support the president’s ability to make a determination as to who an enemy combatant is. It’s never been done by judges before. I support the drone program.”
Graham’s remarks have since been picked up by national and international media due to the fact that he appears to be the first high-ranking US government official to put an exact number of the number civilians killed by the US practice.
As Al-Jazeera reports:
Several organizations have tried to calculate how many militants and civilians may have been killed in drone strikes since 2004 but have arrived at a wide range of numbers.
The figure cited by Graham matches the high end of a tally by the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism. It says the number killed in drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia is between 3,072 and 4,756.
The Washington-based New America Foundation says there have been 350 US drone strikes since 2004, most of them during Barack Obama’s presidency. And the foundation estimates the death toll at between 1,963 and 3,293, with 261 to 305 civilians killed.
US intelligence agencies and the White House have refused to divulge details about the strikes, which are officially termed classified, but officials have suggested that few if any civilians have been killed inadvertently.
The comments by Graham set off speculation about whether or not the senator mistakenly cited official government estimates, and human rights advocates and civil liberty groups would be pleased to discover that such numbers actually exist given the Obama administration’s refusal to release any details about the program which was initiated under President Bush but escalated over the course of the current president.
Micah Zenko, credited by many for breaking the story of Graham’s comment at his CFR blog, said it’s notable that Graham’s publicly stated estimate “nearly matches” the Bureau of Investigative Journalism’s.
“Either Graham is a big fan of TBIJ’s work,” wrote Zenko, “or perhaps he inadvertently revealed the U.S. government’s body count for nonbattlefield targeted killings.”
And Anti-War‘s John Glaser adds:
It should be noted also that TBIJ, despite their rigorous methodology, was for a long time shunned by a mainstream media that refused to cite their casualty estimates, simply because it recorded the highest ones available. Newspapers and TV typically used the middle-of-the-road estimate, which was New America Foundation. Graham – with his seat on the Senate Armed Services Committee – is almost certainly privy to some secret government numbers on drone war casualties. The fact that he might of let it slip here – and the fact that it’s way higher than virtually anybody in the mainstream reports – should be something of a lesson, I think.
Graham also noted in his comments that in addition to his support for the drone war overseas, he supported further use of the technology within the US.
“I don’t want to arm them, but we need drones along the border so we can really control illegal immigration,” Graham told his constituents.
Drone U February 20, 2013Posted by rogerhollander in War.
Tags: abby zimet, drone, drone missiles, roger hollander, unmanned vehicle
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by Abby Zimet
Touting unprecedented education “for the benefit of mankind,” Unmanned Vehicle University, America’s only school offering postgraduate engineering degrees in unmanned systems – ie: drones – is thriving. Since opening in Arizona in July with five students taking its largely online courses for an annual fee of $64,000, it now has 300 graduate drone wannabees, a number expected to double next fall. And the future otherwise looks bright: A trillion-dollar global industry with the U.S. market likely accounting for 77% of spending; three U.S. universities offering primary drone degrees and dozens of other colleges with aviation programs offering minor UAV courses; a possible 10,000 commercial drones operating in the US once domestic regulations are put in place. From Drones for America, a great new animated video, “Welcome to Your Future.”
Why The Canadian Right’s ‘Defence Lobby’ Wants Another War February 19, 2013Posted by rogerhollander in Canada, War.
Tags: afghnaistan war, Canada, canada government, canada military, canadian forces, defence lobby, f-35 fighter, Jack Granatstein, mali civil war, redeau iinstitute, roger hollander, steven harper, steven staples, war profiteers
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By Steven Staples
February 18, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – The generals have a big problem. The fighting in Afghanistan is over for Canada, and the thousands of recruits they armed, and the fleets of planes, helicopters and tanks they bought, have nowhere to go but home.
Since 9/11 the military budget has ballooned to its highest level since the Second World War, surpassing the height of the Cold War in adjusted dollars.
How much longer will Canadians be willing to keep picking up the military’s enormous tab with no war to fight or troops in harm’s way to support?
This might explain why celebrated war historian Jack Granatstein, a well-known supporter of the war in Afghanistan and military interests, used the pages of the Ottawa Citizen recently to berate what he described as “the pacifist left” for not supporting the Harper government’s military role in the war-torn West African country of Mali, the military’s newest mission.
Mr. Granatstein argued that “the Canadian Forces’ role has been a minor one.” The Harper government deployed one of our newest and largest transport planes to aid the French military fighting minority ethnic rebels and al-Qaeda affiliated fighters in Mali. “Prime Minister Stephen Harper made clear that there will be no members of the CF in combat in Mali,” he added, and “Islamist terrorism is a threat to democracies everywhere.”
But it comes down to this: who can the public trust?
The fact is the public knows there is a group of people in Canada who benefit from war. It’s ugly, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
Prime Minister Chrétien once referred to them as the “defence lobby”: the CEOs and their hired lobbyists, the associations of hawkish academics and retired military officers, even some members of the media. They all benefit when Canada goes to war, through either money, career advancement, or both.
In my 20 years as a defence analyst, I have come to know them well.
Many generals retire from the military to take up well-paid lobbying positions with large, mostly foreign, corporations seeking multi-billion-dollar contracts. Recently one such retired air force general was quoted by the Canadian Press, commenting on the need to replace Canada’s fighter planes. Sounds reasonable, but the reporter neglected to identify him as a registered lobbyist for Lockheed Martin, the maker of the F-35 stealth fighter which was in line for the sole-sourced replacement contract.
It gets worse. Many reporters, including the one mentioned above, accept an annual journalism award and cash prize from the Conference of Defence Associations, a group of retired military officers whose funding has come from the Department of National Defence. Mr. Granatstein himself has received a similar award from the CDA. In an unusual twist, their half-million-dollar funding deal with National Defence was contingent on their spokespeople being quoted in the media a specified number of times.
Canadians are right to be wary. Conflicts have been used to justify military projects in the past. The Libya conflict was used by the government to justify their disastrous deal for the underperforming F-35 stealth fighter. The air force tried to use the Libya conflict to fast-track their plan to buy attack drones, the same kind the U.S. is using to carry out assassination missions and kill innocent civilians by the houseful.
Would another conflict like Mali, or the next crisis, provide the political momentum to the defence lobby to advance the military’s floundering weapons projects, and avoid the budget cuts that other departments are experiencing?
Sadly, Mali has many of the hallmarks of Afghanistan: a post–Cold War civil war where tribal and regional grievances are infused by Islamic extremists with their own agenda, both battling a corrupt and illegitimate Western-backed government whose own forces are marginally less abusive than those they are fighting.
Canada could either be engaged in helping the suffering people of Mali, or lured into another fiasco claiming soldiers’ lives, by those with a vested interest in another war. The stakes could not be higher.
Mr. Granatstein noted that both the NDP leader Thomas Mulcair and Bob Rae of the Liberals were supporting the government’s actions. “How fortunate that the Opposition parties had better sense in this instance than the Rideau Institute and Ceasefire.ca,” he wrote, naming two organizations I am intimately involved with.
If opposition parties are indeed supporting the Conservatives, then it seems to me that the “pacifist left” is needed now more than ever to inform the public about the choices this government is making, to end wasteful military spending, and to keep the defence lobby from luring Canada into another reckless war.
Steven Staples is the President of the Rideau Institute and co-founder of Ceasefire.ca, a network of 20,000 people who want Canada to be a peace leader.
This article was originally posted atRabble.ca
The White House Un-Reality Show January 24, 2013Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Criminal Justice, Economic Crisis, War.
Tags: austerity, black unemployment, climate change, democrtic party, drone wars, gay rights, Immigrant Rights, kill list, libor, militarize africa, mlk, obama wars, one percent, pakistan war, robo=signing, roger hollander
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by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
Despite the fact that “it was Barack Obama who began the current austerity offensive in the weeks before delivering his first inaugural address,” the president was allowed to pose as a champion of the social safety net. Having redefined war, he once again claims to be a peacemaker. “By cheering the inaugural speech, progressives are only encouraging Obama’s gaming and mendacity.”
The White House Un-Reality Show
by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
“He merely peppered the speech with progressive buzzwords and references – just enough notes to get the faithful to fill in the empty spaces with their own internal music.”
Like an abusive spouse who preys on the emotional desperation and dependency of his domestic victim, Barack Obama knows that all he need do is offer some cheap street corner flowers and a few sweet words, and the previous nights and months and years of beatings will be forgiven. Just hum a bar or two of an old, shared song, and the battered partner will supply a full symphony of Barry White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra – because she needs to hear it, if only inside her own head.
After four years of chasing Republican skirts in search of a grand austerity bargain; of debauching himself in marathon binges of global lawlessness and aggressive war; of defiling the Bill of Rights through preventive detention and massive domestic spying; of callous neglect of the jobs and lost wealth crisis afflicting the most loyal members of his political family; and of brazen cavorting with the vile and filthy rich, sheltering them from incarceration for crimes against the national and global economy, Barack Obama slunk home on the morning of January 21, to be smothered with kisses.
Much of what passes for the Left, and for traditional African American leadership, agreed with the New York Times’ assessment that Barack Obama’s second inaugural address represented a firm embrace of “a progressive agenda centered on equality and opportunity.” Significantly, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell echoed the sentiment: ”The era of liberalism is back…the speech certainly brings back memories of the Democratic Party inages past.”
It is in the mutual interest of corporate media and rightwing Republicans tomove the bar of “progressive” politics ever rightward. However, for African Americans and white progressives, it amounts to erasing their own political legacies from history.
“There is no agreement to end U.S. combat involvement in Afghanistan, and no intention of achieving one.”
Actuality, Obama embraced nothing: he merely peppered the speech with progressive buzzwords and references – just enough notes to get the faithful to fill in the empty spaces with their own internal music. It was classic Obama.
“A decade of war is now ending,” said the Second Incarnation of Obama, sounding a false “peace” note. If he was talking about Afghanistan, that’s a damnable lie. There is no agreement to end U.S. combat involvement in Afghanistan, and no intention of achieving one – only the stated goal to lower troop levels. The Pentagon is fielding contingencies to reduce U.S. troop strength to between 6,000 and 20,000. (When Obama entered office there were 30,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, which he raised to about 100,000 in the “surge” of 2011.) Although the administration line is that most of the remaining Americans will be “trainers,” they will include thousands of Special Forces troops to continue “counterinsurgency” and “counterterrorism” operations. Special Forces are “trainers” and “force multipliers” by U.S. military definition, “training” native troops while engaged in combat missions. U.S. air forces, drone and manned, will continue to pound targets. Obama’s nearly completed “codification” of U.S. drone policies exempts the CIA from any clear rules for “targeted-killing” drone operations in neighboring Pakistan for at least a year, to allow them to do as much damage as possible in the quest for Obama’s version of peace.
But history may record Obama’s greatest crime against peace as changing the definition of war. According to his unique doctrine, the U.S. cannot be in a state of war, or even “hostilities” with another people or country, unless Americans are killed in the process. Thus, Obama refused to report to the U.S. Congress under the War Powers Act following eight months of bombardment of Libya, claiming no state of war had existed since no Americans had died. By this logic, the U.S. is empowered to bomb anyone, anywhere on the planet at will, without the constraints of national or international law, as long as care is taken to protect the lives of U.S. personnel.
“History may record Obama’s greatest crime against peace as changing the definition of war.”
Obama rhetorically abolishes war while promulgating a doctrine of general immunity from the rules of war. Armed with such a concept and vocabulary, he can proceed with the militarization of Africa policy, his “pivot” to contain the Chinese in the Pacific, the terror campaign in Syria, the virtual state of war against Iran, and update of his Kill List in perpetuity. What, then, is the president’s meaning when he tells hundreds of thousands on the National Mall that “enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war?” This, from a man who makes war on language, itself.
“An economic recovery has begun,” said Obama. Not for Blacks, whose official 14 percent unemployment rate is more than twice that of whites (6.9 percent), and whose median household wealth has fallen to one-twentieth that of white families – a catastrophe of historical proportions. The “recovery” is mainly confined to Wall Street, which is awash in cash, thanks to more than four years of free money (for banks, only). This administration’s jobs policy, like the Republicans’, consists almost entirely of tax incentives to business: trickle down. The One Percent’s “rising tide” has lifted only their yachts.
Obama admits that “a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it,” but has done nothing to curtail the hegemony of Wall Street, the mighty engine of economic inequality. Quite the opposite. His Justice Department has granted blanket immunities from prosecution in both “Scandals of the Century” – the LIBOR interest rate rigging scheme and mortgage robo-signing – letting the mega-crooks off with fines. Nevertheless, liberals were heartened when Obama fixed his lips to say “the free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play” – as if there were even a hint of substance in the verbal exercise.
“His Justice Department has granted blanket immunities from prosecution in both ‘Scandals of the Century.’”
As much as 80 percent of the public supports Social Security and Medicare, including the entirety of the president’s Democratic base. Yet, it was Barack Obama who began the current austerity offensive in the weeks before delivering his first inaugural address, informing the New York Times and Washington Post editorial boards that all entitlements would be on the table for chopping during his administration. He followed through by appointing a Deficit Reduction Commission chaired by a far-right Republican and the farthest-right Democrat he could find (Simpson and Bowles), who crafted the blueprint for austerity that became Obama’s model for a grand bargain with the GOP. The deal fell through in 2011 when Republicans balked at even “modest” tax increases on the rich, but there is not a scintilla of evidence that the president has abandoned his long, ideologically-based opposition to the safety net as presently constituted.
Only last month, he offered to alter the way Social Security benefits are calculated – as an opener to negotiations. Obama has shown, by word and deed, that he poses the greatest threat to Social Security in its history – far greater than George W. Bush, whose assault on the New Deal program met ferocious Democratic resistance. Obama will carry much of the Party with him – which is why we at Black Agenda Report call the First Black President “the more effective evil.”
“There is not a scintilla of evidence that the president has abandoned his long, ideologically-based opposition to the safety net as presently constituted.”
So, when Obama uses a ceremonial occasion to declare that: “The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us” and “…a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune,” it is only cheap rhetoric, signifying nothing. Obama claims he wants to “reform” entitlements in order to “strengthen” them – which is precisely the Republican line. By cheering the inaugural speech, progressives are only encouraging Obama’s gaming and mendacity.
And so it goes. The Great Deporter becomes the great protector of immigrant rights. The man who killed the Kyoto Agreement is heralded as a champion of the environment because he expresses respect for “science” and pledges to somehow “respond to the threat of climate change.” The mention of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s name signifies…what? Nowadays, not a thing.
It is true: Obama is the most gay-friendly president to date. I don’t think U.S. imperialism and Wall Street hegemons have a fundamental problem with that, either.
Apparently, being gay-friendly is all it takes to be considered a champion of a “progressive agenda” in 2013.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.