January 26, 2016
“The responsibility of intellectuals is to speak the truth and expose lies.”
– Noam Chomsky
“In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
– George Orwell
According to a February 2015 Gallup poll, a majority of Americans consider the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant — abbreviated as ISIS or ISIL — and the international terrorism they support to be the greatest threat to the United States’ vital interests.
This is really quite amazing, when you think about it. Not global warming, not record droughts and crop failure, not de-industrialization, massive and rising unemployment and poverty, soaring inequality and the demolition and razing of the middle class, not catastrophic ecological destruction, not the poisoning of our food, air, water, soil, our bodies and children, not disastrous “trade” deals (read, corporate rights deals), not a ravenous and criminal Wall Street cabal that rules the nation and is pillaging and plundering the middle class and the poor – no, it’s a few armed thugs half a world away, with no tanks, no battle ships, no air force, no ICBMs, and the military power of one ten thousandth, at best, of that of the US, which is the greatest threat to “America’s vital interests.”
Former National Security Adviser, and chief intellectual and geopolitical strategist in residence to the Western elite, Zbigniew Brzezinski, recently scoffed at such delusions, and said, “What are they going to do, swim here?” But the hysteria has been manufactured, and fear is a powerful weapon, as the BBC documentary, The Power of Nightmares, clearly showed, and Orwell and other observers have also recognized and noted.
The “war on terror” is a campaign that is being used to justify wars over oil, and geopolitical power and empire abroad, and a full frontal assault on democracy, freedom and civil liberties at home, in order silence the people, and to protect and consolidate the powers and the interests of the currently ruling corporate elite. It has nothing to do with fighting terrorism.
It’s time we got real. We are being lied to.
The US wants to impose a regime change in Syria – and that is flatly in defiance of international law, and is defined as a war crime under international law. As Chomsky said, if the Nuremberg trials were held today, every US president since WWII would be hanged for war crimes – and the war crimes continue to this day. And they are war crimes, regardless of how they may be justified.
Because the US is trying to topple the Assad government in Syria, the CIA has been arming, funding and training terrorist groups in that country – just as it did in Libya, Afghanistan and other countries. So we’re fighting terrorism by arming terrorists. That makes sense.
And why does the US want to topple the Assad government? Is it because Assad heads a brutal regime? No – the US was friends and allies with Saddam Husein when it suited their interests, even though Saddam headed an even more brutal regime.
Saddam was targeted for regime change only when he stopped obeying orders from Washington. The same has happened many times, and always for the same reasons: brutal regimes are fine – so long as they cooperate with the masters in Washington; and when they don’t, they are either brought under control, or taken out: either through bribery, economic and financial extortion, or by covert, or overt use of violent force.
And why does the US want to take out the Assad regime, if it’s not for human rights reasons? For oil, most likely – as with Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan…. There is a proposed Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline that “could radically alter Europe’s energy supplies, diminishing Russia’s fossil fueled prowess in Europe” – and Assad opposes it. So he has to go.
“These strategic concerns [of the US, to control oil and gas in the Middle East], motivated by fear of expanding Iranian influence, impacted Syria primarily in relation to pipeline geopolitics. In 2009 – the same year former French foreign minister Dumas alleges the British began planning operations in Syria – Assad refused to sign a proposed agreement with Qatar that would run a pipeline from the latter’s North field, contiguous with Iran’s South Pars field, through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and on to Turkey, with a view to supply European markets – albeit crucially bypassing Russia. Assad’s rationale was “to protect the interests of [his] Russian ally, which is Europe’s top supplier of natural gas.”
It is this – the problem of establishing a pliable opposition which the US and its oil allies feel confident will play ball, pipeline-style, in a post-Assad Syria – that will determine the nature of any prospective intervention: not concern for Syrian life.”
– The Guardian, August 30, 2015, Syrian intervention plans fuelled by oil interests, not chemical weapon concerns, by Dr Nafeez Ahmed, executive director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development and author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilisation: And How to Save It
Now, not only is Syria spiraling further into crisis and chaos, with the US intervention only making matters worse, but it has also generated a refugee crisis in Europe, with refugees pouring out of Syria, and 4.5 million people displaced – a refugee crisis that the US and its allies actively helped to create. All for the sake of oil and gas profits for the US and its allies – and the corporate interests which they serve.
Russia on the other hand, wants to protect the Assad government, because Assad is a Russian ally, and because Assad opposes the pipeline deal which would radically reduce Russia’s fossil fuel super-power status in Europe – which is most likely the real reason Russia just started bombing in Syria, and not because it wants to fight terrorism.
With the US and its allies fighting and bombing in Syria, and Russia now entering the conflict, and bombing in Syria, and for the other team, the US trying to oust Assad, and Russia trying to prop him up, we are now literally faced with the very real threat of an outbreak of WWIII. And all this, for the control of oil and gas money. This is clearly insane.
So the motives are all twisted, when we’re talking about the major players, in both the West and in Russia, and it is the people who are suffering, while the military actions, the bombings and the regime changes simply serve to foster ever greater hatred and ever more terrorism – exactly as the US intelligence services warned they would do.
“Let’s see…. The resort to violence, to war, bombing, and forced regime changes – read, coups – didn’t work, and has instead sown chaos, hatred, further hostilities, greater instability, and more terrorism. So let’s redouble our efforts, and try the same methods again.
As Einstein said, “Repeating the same actions and expecting a different outcome is the very definition of insanity.”
But fighting terrorism and creating peace were never the objectives. It’s about controlling the flow of oil and gas, and the astronomical profits, and power, that derive from it.
The Guardian is quite unreliable in terms of the consistency of its quality of reporting and commentary – sometimes it does a great job, and sometimes a poor one, or even a terrible one – but they got it right here, with regards to Syria and war in the Middle East:
“The 2011 uprisings, it would seem – triggered by a confluence of domestic energy shortages and climate-induced droughts which led to massive food price hikes – came at an opportune moment that was quickly exploited. Leaked emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor including notes from a meeting with Pentagon officials confirmed US-UK training of Syrian opposition forces since 2011 aimed at eliciting “collapse” of Assad’s regime “from within.”
So what was this unfolding strategy to undermine Syria and Iran all about? According to retired NATO Secretary General Wesley Clark, a memo from the Office of the US Secretary of Defense just a few weeks after 9/11 revealed plans to “attack and destroy the governments in 7 countries in five years”, starting with Iraq and moving on to “Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.” In a subsequent interview, Clark argues that this strategy is fundamentally about control of the region’s vast oil and gas resources.
Much of the strategy currently at play was candidly described in a 2008 US Army-funded RAND report, Unfolding the Future of the Long War (pdf). The report noted that “the economies of the industrialized states will continue to rely heavily on oil, thus making it a strategically important resource.” As most oil will be produced in the Middle East, the US has “motive for maintaining stability in and good relations with Middle Eastern states”:
“The geographic area of proven oil reserves coincides with the power base of much of the Salafi-jihadist network. This creates a linkage between oil supplies and the long war that is not easily broken or simply characterized… For the foreseeable future, world oil production growth and total output will be dominated by Persian Gulf resources… The region will therefore remain a strategic priority, and this priority will interact strongly with that of prosecuting the long war.”
– The Guardian, August 30, 2015, Syrian intervention plan fueled by oil interests, not chemical weapon concerns
If we are serious about reducing hate, violence, war, conflict and human suffering, then we should, among other things, be racing to get the world off its deadly addiction to fossil fuels, and end the wars over oil, pipelines, and the politics of fossil fuel addiction, and switching as rapidly as possible to clean, renewable energy.
How about diverting half or three-quarters of the obscenely bloated US military budget to massive investments in solar, wind and other renewable energy industries and technologies, and kick-starting the economy and providing millions of jobs in the process?
Nope. Can’t do. The oil and arms corporations require that we continue with business as usual, so that is simply not possible. The wars, therefore, must continue – and the people and the earth be damned.
How about this for a proposal? End the wars in the Middle East, and use the money saved to buy a fully electric Tesla Model S for every home in the United States over the next 20 years. That would cost approximately $5 trillion. By comparison, the wars in the Middle East have cost an estimated $6 trillion – so far. So this is completely feasible.
There are probably better, more effective ways to invest in clean, renewable energy, and to break our addiction to oil and fossil fuels, but this was meant simply to make a point. How about ending the wars and spending the war budget to install solar, wind and geothermal heating, cooling and power systems for every home in America, making them fully off-grid and energy self-reliant, as well as being powered by clean energy? This would cost about the same amount, roughly $5 trillion, and could be done over the next 20 years, if the wars are ended now. That would also cause the economy to soar, and millions of jobs to be created. And this is not even mentioning the lives that would be saved and the suffering averted by ending the bombing and the wars.
By ending the wars, we would do more to halt terrorism – by not participating in it, and not fueling it – than by anything that has been done so far. Certainly the “bomb-em-to-bits” strategy has been a complete disaster, and has only increased terrorism, exactly as US intelligence services said it would do. And the money saved could be used to rebuild the US economy, create full employment, shift the nation to renewable energy, break the dependency on oil and other fossil fuels, and halt our race toward ecological cataclysm and collective suicide.
But we can’t do that, because the oil and arms corporations are making a killing, both literally and figuratively, off our addiction to fossil fuels and war.
Here are some startling figures to contemplate. Official terrorism – which means, terrorism carried out by official enemies, and not by Washington and its allies in Canada, the UK and France – accounts for roughly 20,000 deaths a year. Meanwhile, over 20,000 children die every day from hunger. Poverty is the far greater killer, but where is our war on poverty? There is lip service, rhetoric, but no serious action, as poverty continues to rise globally, and also in the United States, the richest country in the history of the world.
But even more people now die from over-eating and obesity than from hunger – with millions dying every year from heart disease and stroke alone, primarily due to poor eating habits. But are we launching a war on MacDonalds and fast food? No, we’re fighting ISIS – supposedly – even though the fast food industry kills far more people every year than ISIS could ever dare to dream.
We should be launching major public health campaigns, and anti-poverty campaigns, and stopping the Wall Street war on the middle class and the poor, because the death toll from that, and the toll in terms of human suffering, is vastly greater than that caused by official terrorism, which is positively dwarfed by comparison.
The real terrorists are in Wall Street and Washington, where the financial and conventional bombings are coordinated, and the global looting is orchestrated and carried out. You want to fight terrorism? Start at home, and start with Wall Street.
Please see my recent essay, also on my blog, entitled, Danger and Delusion, from ISIS To Ebola, for a deeper look and some critical perspective on the real dangers that face the United States and the world today. It’s time for a reality check.
We need to remember that the media are overwhelmingly controlled either by corporations or the government. In the US, six corporations control 90% of the media. We should not expect anything other than propaganda, considering these facts.
Fortunately, according to another recent Gallop poll, roughly 40% of the people have virtually no faith left in the media – and the corporate and government controlled media continue to lose credibility, and their audience, at a rapid and accelerating pace.
So while the majority of the people, a slim majority, continue to believe the lies and the propaganda, the tide is changing, and the people are waking up. This is happening none too soon. All we can say is, we had better accelerate the awakening, because the world is in serious peril – and peril, above all, due to the lies and illusions which are being propagated daily, and which need to be cut through, and demolished.
J. Todd Ring,
October 3, 2015
And this just in:
U.S. Military Bombs Doctors Without Borders Hospital, Killing At Least 19.
Doctors Without Borders’ statement suggests more than just collateral damage. The Afghan trauma center “was hit several times during sustained bombing and was very badly damaged.” The hospital reportedly had 105 patients and caretakers, and more than 80 staffers from all over the world.
According to the aid group, U.S. forces continued bombing for 30 minutes after receiving phone calls telling them the hospital was being bombed. “All parties to the conflict, including in Kabul and Washington, were clearly informed of the precise location [GPS Coordinates] of the M.S.F. facilities – hospital, guesthouse, office,” the statement said.
October 3, 2015
Who is fighting terrorism? And who are the terrorists? Are we really so certain?
As Chomsky has repeatedly said, the leading terrorist centre in the world is Washington, DC – and global polls show that the great majority of the people around the world agree.
Noam Chomsky: US, Not Iran, [Nor ISIS] Poses Greatest Threat To World Peace
I was going to write a short thought on seeing an amazing little creature in my garden just now – a humming bird no bigger than a bumblebee, which made me almost shudder with joy at the sight. But then I read more on the genocide being waged against the people of Gaza by the Israeli military, and my heart is filled with pain. So much joy and beauty, and so much horror and suffering in one world – the contradictions are extreme, and dizzying.
Yesterday, the Israeli military shelled a refugee centre in Gaza – the only remaining place that had seemed safe. It was a UN school. They shelled the school and the playground. Women and children were the primary casualties, with over 200 wounded and 17 dead, blood covering the playground.
“UN school attacked in North Gaza. 13 at least killed. Bloody desks. Blood on ground. Terrified children.”
– Richard Engle, NBC News correspondent on the scene yesterday, via twitter
This was the fourth UN school to be shelled or bombed by the Israeli military in the past four days. The people of Gaza are being hunted down, even inside of UN refugee shelters. There are no words strong enough to condemn these acts of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
“There were approximately 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza before the current siege of Gaza and 750+ have been slaughtered in the last few days. A Palestinian child has died every hour, and with the death of the children goes the future of …the Palestinian people. The children who survive are traumatized with PTSD. A six year old child will have already experienced three wars in his or her lifetime. Unlike other people who flee war, Gazans are trapped. They have nowhere to go. And Palestinians in the West Bank, if they are able to leave, have no right of return.”
– The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)
“The incursion and bombardment of Gaza is not about destroying Hamas. It is not about stopping rocket fire into Israel. It is not about achieving peace. The Israeli decision to rain death and destruction on Gaza, to use lethal weapons of the modern battle field on a largely defenseless civilian population is the final phase in the decades long campaign to ethnically cleanse Palestinians.” – Chris Hedges
“The US-Israeli assault on Gaza escalated in January 2006, a few months after the formal withdrawal, when Palestinians committed a truly heinous crime: they voted “the wrong way” in a free election. Like others, Palestinians learned that one does not disobey with impunity the commands of the master, who never cease to orate about his “yearning for democracy” without eliciting ridicule from the educated classes, another impressive achievement.
Since the terms “aggression” and “terrorism” are inadequate, some new term is needed for the sadistic and cowardly torture of people caged with no possibility of escape, while they are being pounded to dust by the most sophisticated products of US military technology – used in violation of international and even US law, but for self-declared outlaw states that is just another minor technicality.”
– Noam Chomsky
The Israeli government of course rationalizes its actions, as all aggressors do. The Israeli aggression is rationalized by invoking the claim of self-defence. But it was the Israeli government who annexed, which is to say, stole Palestinian lands by military force and aggression. Unsurprisingly, the Palestinian people tried to defend themselves, and a few fought back, with what tiny means they had. And when the victims try to defend themselves, then the aggressors claim they are only acting in self-defence. Every aggressor from Stalin to Hitler has invoked the same self-deceiving, Orwellian logic – and it has no end. We attacked; they acted in self-defence: now we have the right to escalate our attacks and our aggression.
When some of the European settlers in America decided that the continent was theirs by divine right, and decided to push out the native peoples who happened to already be living there, and to kill those who refused to leave, it was not surprising that some of the native peoples decided to defend themselves. The acts of native self-defence were then taken as justification for a policy of extermination and genocide. The same pattern is playing out now in Gaza. And the aggressors are always delusional, mired in self-deceit and double-think, as Orwell so aptly called it.
“When Israel, in the occupied territories now, claim that they have to defend themselves, they are defending themselves in the sense that any military occupier has to defend itself against the population that they’re crushing.” – Noam Chomsky
How does Israel get away with such blatant, long-standing violations of international law and human rights, and such acts of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and flagrant aggression, which have now clearly escalated to the level of genocide? The answer is that Israel is a US client state. The US government views control over the Middle East as strategically critical to the maintenance of the American empire and its corporate interests – oil being the most obvious one. So the US in turn needs client states in the region, vassals to the Empire. For decades, Israel and Turkey have been the two leading US client states in the region, and have been massively provided with military backing. So when Israel defies international law, breaches human rights on a grotesque and recurring scale and manner, and commits war crimes and crimes against humanity, this cannot be criticized. Israel is our thug, and our thugs are always in the right. Our thugs are above the law, and above criticism.
When Saddam Hussein was a loyal puppet of Washington, he was our friend. When he disobeyed orders, he had to be taken out. But so long as the hired goons remain subservient to the master, they are beyond questioning – whatever they do is good and right.
It has to end somewhere. Even the pawns to empire are treated as expendable, we should bear in mind. Stalin made that lesson vividly clear, and it is the same with every empire.
The people of Israel, Palestine and the entire region are suffering and paying a high price for the imperial hubris and meddling of Washington, with increasing international blowback that is now global in its ramifications.
The madness has to stop. This is a beautiful world. Let us stop destroying it, and stop tormenting and killing one another. Let us live in peace. And if we are going to do that, we will need every ounce of our courage to stand up, speak out, and make peace, justice, freedom and ecological sanity a reality.
Stand now. Speak up for the people of Gaza, and for anyone, anywhere, who is under attack.
Listen, for a moment, to the words of one courageous Jewish woman, whom I admire greatly:
“Challenged below for why I am mourning genocide in Gaza. I mourn genocide in Gaza because I am the granddaughter of a family half wiped out in a holocaust and I know genocide when I see it. People are asking why I am taking this ‘side’. There are no sides. I mourn all victims. But every law of war and international law is being broken in the targeting of civilians in Gaza. I stand with the people of Gaza exactly because things might have turned out differently if more people… had stood with the Jews in Germany. I stand with the people of Gaza because no one stood with us. I went to synagogue last Friday night and had to leave because I kept waiting for the massacre of Gaza to be addressed. ..nothing. where is god? God is only ever where we stand with our neighbor in trouble and against injustice. I turn in my card of faith as of now because of our overwhelming silence as Jews…I don’t mean Israelis, a separate issue…about the genocide now in Gaza.. I want no other religion than this, that is, seeing rather than denying my neighbor under fire and embracing rather than dismissing those targeted with annihilation and ethnic cleansing.”
– Naomi Wolf
In Gaza, the children, women and men do not have the luxury of admiring a beautiful bird in a beautiful little garden. They are facing bombs and machine gun blasts, and are barely hanging on. We need to stand with them, and speak out now.
J. Todd Ring,
July 25, 2015
UK Jewish MP Decries Israeli Government For Behaving Like Nazis: