‘Spilling American blood’ to whip up the public and trap the President

It can happen anytime and anywhere. It can be civilians or military. Americans are poor in reflective capacity and quick to ‘support America’, whatever that means. The worsening narcissism, functional illiteracy, societal disconnection and dis-cohesion, and lack of moral grounding converge with extreme levels of U.S. militarism. Are Americans capable of sanity?

From David Swanson

Has Van Jones Lost His Mind, Or Are Sane People Missing the Point?

March 1, 2017

A rational and moral person might think of the recent U.S. raid in Yemen this way. Here’s one small incident out of a war consisting primarily of a massive bombing campaign that has slaughtered innocents by the thousands and is threatening to lead to the starvation of hundreds of thousands. In this one incident some 30 people were murdered, some 10 of them women and children, one of them the 8-year-old sister of a 16-year-old American boy whom President Obama had earlier murdered just after having murdered his father. There wasn’t some Very Important Thing accomplished, such as learning the cell phone number of someone suspiciously Muslim or whatever, that an immoral hack could try to claim justified this incident. This was mass murder.

In the course of this mass murder, one American taking part in it was killed.

The first paragraph above is of virtually no interest to the U.S. media. The second paragraph above is of intense and passionate interest. But there is a very different point that this interest misses. Much of the media coverage suggests that the One American being killed was a very negative thing for Donald Trump. I’d suggest that it was a very negative thing for the man killed and his family and loved ones, but not necessarily a bad thing for Donald Trump or Lockheed Martin. Here’s why.

When Van Jones appeared to lose his mind and declare Trump some sort of deity because of his Very Solemn treatment of the death of the One Person Who Mattered, Van Jones was following a long tradition of treatment of the sacred sacrificing of lives to the God of War, the feeding of troops to the Holy Flag. Only lives that matter can be used in this ritual. Only lives that have been lost and that mattered can be used to justify hurling more lives after them. President Polk knew this when he got U.S. troops killed in Mexico. So did those war propagandists who remembered the Maine.The mast of the Maine still stands at the Naval Academy in Annapolis as a monument to the fundamental rite of lying about dead people who mattered, in order to remove all constraints on behavior.

As Richard Barnet explains, in the context of Vietnam:

The sacrifice of American lives is a crucial step in the ritual of commitment. Thus William P. Bundy stressed in working papers the importance of spilling American blood not only to whip up the public to support a war that could touch their emotions in no other way, but also to trap the President.[i]

Who was William P. Bundy? He was in the CIA and became an advisor to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. He was exactly the kind of bureaucrat who succeeds in Washington, D.C. In fact he was considered a dove by the standards of those in power, people like his brother McGeorge Bundy, National Security Advisor to Kennedy and Johnson, or William Bundys father-in-law Dean Acheson, Secretary of State for Truman. The war makers do what they do, because only aggressive war makers advance through the ranks and keep their jobs as high-level advisors in our government. While resisting militarism is a good way to derail your career, no one seems to have ever heard of a D.C. bureaucrat or CNN news reader being sidelined for excessive warmongering. Pro-war counsel may be rejected, but is always considered respectable and important — even proposals to murder Americans directly, like Operation Northwoods or Dick Cheney’s scheme for Iran.

How can being responsible for getting People Who Matter killed trap a president into killing lots more of them?

This is not about logic. You have to stop thinking, and start observing the behavior of Van Jones’ audience. When People Who Matter have been killed, it becomes important to kill more of the Enemy even — or perhaps necessarily — through means that also kill many more of the People Who Matter. The flag’s appetite has awakened.

This is not the only way in which the U.S. media is treating this Death That Matters. Some commentators are even suggesting that it was a life lost in vain. Not in mass murder, but in vain. We should be aware, however, that the insanity Van Jones is tapping into is a powerful current with a long record of horror and destruction behind it.

http://davidswanson.org/node/5462


[i] Stavins et alia, Washington Plans an Aggressive War, p. 206.

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The “beatification” of Barack Obama. The “good guy” storyline is set…

By Kit
Global Research, January 16, 2017
Off Guardian 15 January 2017
Obama's farewell speech tear, one more than he ever shed for Libya, Syria or Yemen.
Obama’s farewell speech tear, one more than he ever shed for Libya, Syria or Yemen.

As the eight-year term of America’s first black President draws to a close, the media are already in the process of myth-making. There’s room for an honest autopsy of a man who promised a new kind of world, and delivered merely warmed-over soundbites and a few fake tears.

“With Barack Obama’s exit the US is losing a saint.” writes Simon Jenkins in the Guardian, whilst Ann Perkins praises his “grace, decency and defence of democracy”. Lola Okolosie rhapsodises on his legacy of “warmth, love, resilience”.

Already the storyline is set – Obama was a good man, who tried to do great things, but was undone by a Republican senate, and his own “sharp intelligence”.

These people, as much as anybody, reflect the cognitive dissonance of the modern press. “Liberals”, to use their own tortured self-descriptor, now assign the roles of good guy and bad guy based purely on aesthetics, convenience and fuel for their vanity. Actions and consequences are immaterial.

For the sake of balance, here is a list of Saint Obama’s unique achievements:

  • Obama is the first President in American history to be at war for every single day of an 8 year presidency.
  • Obama has carried out 10x more drone strikes than Bush ever did. Every Tuesday a military aide presents Obama with a “kill list”, and the “decent, gracious” Obama picks a few names off a list…and kills them. And their families. And their neighbours. These illegal acts of state-sanctioned murder have killed hundreds of civilians in 5 different countries in 2016 alone. The only reason that number isn’t higher, is that the Obama administration re-classified all males over 18 as combatants, regardless of occupation.
  • After declaring he wanted to build a “nuclear free world”, Obama committed to spending $1 TRILLION dollars on rebuilding America’s nuclear weapons.
  • Under Obama, the NSA et al. were able to spy on, essentially, the whole world. When this was revealed, not a single intelligence officer or government official was prosecuted. Instead…
  • Obama’s administration declared a “war on whistleblowers”, enacting new laws and initiating what they call the “Insider Threat Program”. Manning was prosecuted, Snowden sent into exile and Assange was set-up, discredited and (they hoped) extradited. It has never been more dangerous to be a government whistle-blower, than under Barack Obama
  • In terms of foreign policy, despite his press-created and non-sensical reputation as a non-interventionist, American Special Forces are currently operating in over 70% of the world’s 195 countries. The great lie is that, where Bush was a warmonger, Obama has sought to avoid conflict. The truth is that Obama, in the grand tradition of the CIA and American Imperial power, has simply turned all America’s wars into covert wars.
  • Before Obama came into office, Libya was the richest and most developed nation in Africa. It is now a hell-hole. Destroyed by war, hollowed-out by corruption. The “liberal” press allow him to agonise over this as his “greatest mistake”, and then gently pardon him for his good intentions. The truth is that Libya was not a mistake, or a misjudgment, or an unforeseen consequence. Libya is exactly what America wanted it to become. A failed state where everything is for sale, a base to pour illegal CIA weapons south into Africa and east into the ME. When war is your economy, chaos is good for business. When secrecy is your weapon, anarchy is ammunition. Libya went according to plan. A brutal plan that killed 100,000s and destroyed the lives of millions more. Libya, like Iraq, is a neocon success story. Syria on the other hand…
  • Syria, probably the word that will follow Obama out of office as “Iraq” did his predecessor, is a total failure. Both of stated intent and covert goals. Where the press will mourn Obama’s “indecisive nature” and wish he’d “used his big stick”, the real story is one of evil incompetence, so great that it would be almost comical…if it hadn’t destroyed an ancient seat of civilisation and killed 100,000s of people. Syria (along with Libya, Iraq, Somalia, Iran and Sudan) was on the list of the 7 countries America intended to destroy, famously “leaked” by General Wesley Clark. After the fall of Libya, Syria was (essentially) surrounded by American military on all sides. Iraq, Israel, Turkey and America operating out of Libya could pour “freedom fighters” into Syria to bring down “the regime”. When that didn’t work they deployed the trusty “WMD” method, to demand “humanitarian intervention”…the Russians saw that off. Then “ISIS” was created by the CIA, as al-Qaida were before them, and their manufactured barbarism was used as a pretext for invasion. The Russians, again, saw to it that this would not happen.
  • Perhaps in the hope of distracting Russia from the ME, or perhaps merely as a short-sighted punitive measure, the Obama’s administration next foreign policy target was Ukraine. Victoria Nuland’s own voice proves how much that “color revolution” was an American creation. Ukraine is broke, even more broke than it was, its people starve and freeze through the winter. The new “democratic government” has shelled 10,000 people to death in the East of the country….using American weapons.
  • In Yemen, the poorest country in the ME is being bombed to shreds by the richest….again, using American (and British) weapons. Obama’s “defense of democracy” doesn’t extend to criticising, or even discussing, the abhorrent Human Rights record of America’s Saudi Arabian allies, and in an act of brazen hypocrisy, even supported their chairing of the Human Rights Council of the UN.

This is the world Saint Obama has created. Guantanamo is still open, and terrorist “suspects” are still held there without trial or charge (they are probably still tortured). Other “suspects” can be simply declared guilty, and unilaterally executed…anywhere in the world. The NSA and CIA are illegally monitoring the communications of half the world. If any other leader in the world claimed even 1% of this power, they would be decried as “autocratic”, and their country denounced as a “pariah state”.

The Middle-East is ablaze from Libya to Afghanistan, and from Yemen to Turkey. Relations with Russia are as precarious as at any time since WWII, thanks to America’s efforts to break Russia economically and shatter their global influence. There is no sign that America intends to back-down (see the recent red-scare style hysteria in the American press). Likewise America has positioned itself to have a massive conflict with China in the South China Sea. Obama is, in terms of influence, nothing more than a used-car salesman. His job is not to create policy, but to sell neocon ideas to the general public, but his lack of agency cannot excuse his lack of vision or morals. Under Obama’s notional leadership the world has moved to the very brink of self-immolation in the name of protecting American hegemony. Domestically America still crumbles.

He had a nice smile, and a good turn of phrase. He was witty, and cool, and looked good in a suit…but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t just more of the same. He could say the right things, and sound like he meant them, but he was still a monster. As he moves out to pasture, the press will try to spit-shine Obama’s tarnished halo, to try to convince us that he was a good man at heart and that, as politicians go, we can’t do any better.

But yes, we can.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-beatification-of-barack-obama-the-good-guy-storyline-is-set/5568823

Saudi-led coalition demands removal from ‘wildly exaggerated’ UN blacklist of child-killers in Yemen; UN caves to pressure

From RT

© Khaled Abdullah

UN adds Saudi-led coalition to blacklist for ‘killing & maiming’ children in Yemen

From RT

June 3, 2016

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People walk on the rubble of an electronics warehouse store after a Saudi-led air strike destroyed it in Yemen’s capital Sanaa February 14, 2016. © Khaled Abdullah / Reuters

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has slammed the Saudi-led coalition for “killing and maiming” children in Yemen, adding it to an annual blacklist of countries and armed groups that have violated children’s rights in conflict.

“Grave violations against children increased dramatically as a result of the escalating conflict,” a report released by Ban on Thursday states.

“In Yemen, owing to the very large number of violations attributed to the two parties, the Houthis/Ansar Allah and the Saudi Arabia-led coalition are listed for killing and maiming and attacks on schools and hospitals,” the secretary-general stated in the document.

According to the report, the coalition was responsible for 60 percent of child deaths and injuries in Yemen last year, killing 510 people and wounding 667 others.

The coalition was also behind half of the attacks carried out on schools and hospitals in Yemen.

The UN report added the coalition to its blacklist of groups that “engage in the recruitment and use of children, sexual violence against children, the killing and maiming of children, attacks on schools and/or hospitals and attacks or threats of attacks against protected personnel, and the abduction of children.”

The coalition began a military campaign against Houthi rebels in March 2015. It sides with the exiled President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, while the Houthis are aligned with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who resigned in 2012 following a popular uprising against his rule. The conflict has left nearly 4,300 dead since March, half of them civilians, according to UN figures.

The Houthis have been on the UN blacklist for at least five years, and are considered “persistent perpetrators.”

The UN report also named armed groups in other countries, including in Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Iraq, Mali, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Colombia, Nigeria and the Philippines.

Government forces in Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, Myanmar, South Sudan, Sudan and Syria were also named on the blacklist.

But although the UN’s report cited a deadly US airstrike on a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Kunduz, Afghanistan, it said the attack was carried out by “international forces” and did not add the US to the blacklist.

Ban did, however, urge all 193 UN member states to ensure their engagements in conflicts comply with international law.

“It is unacceptable that the failure to do so has resulted in numerous violations of children’s rights,” he said.

https://www.rt.com/news/345333-saudi-coalition-un-blacklist/

White House U-turns on Pakistan drone deaths. “Deaths by CIA strikes not included in the numbers” now will be

Global Research, May 29, 2016
Reprieve 26 May 2016

droneThe Obama Administration has reversed its position on which countries will be included in its upcoming estimate of the civilian deaths caused by the US drone program, according to a report in yesterday’s Washington Post.

Earlier this week, a report in the Post – based on briefings from anonymous Administration officials – stated that strikes taken in Pakistan by the CIA would not be included in the numbers. However, an article in yesterday’s Post – also based on anonymous US government sources – now suggests that the White House has changed its position, and will include strikes taken in Pakistan in its tally.

The exclusion of Pakistan would have meant that as many as two-thirds of known US drone strikes – including some of the worst reported errors – would have been left out of the US tally of deaths. Strikes in Pakistan have included an attack on a funeral in June 2009 that killed as many as 50 civilians, and a strike on a meeting of tribal elders in March 2011 that killed 41. Pakistan has reportedly seen the use of some of the most controversial aspects of the US drone program, such as ‘signature strikes’, where individuals are targeted on the basis of patterns of behavior.

The absence of the Pakistan numbers would also have avoided any need to address controversial claims made in June 2011 by John Brennan, now Director of the CIA. At the time, Brennan said that no civilians had been killed during a yearlong period from 2010 to 2011. However, in August that year, he altered his position slightly, saying there was no “credible evidence” of such deaths. The Administration has never publicly disputed or corrected his statement.

Recent research by the human rights organization Reprieve – which assists the civilian victims of drone strikes – has found that the US is frequently unable to identify those killed by covert strikes in countries including Pakistan and Yemen. Reprieve has found that, in targeting 41 named individuals, US strikes killed 1,147 unknown men, women and children – often leaving the original target still alive.

Commenting, Jennifer Gibson, staff attorney at Reprieve, said:

It’s been three years since President Obama promised long-overdue transparency over the most dangerous legacy of his Presidency – a drone programme that has reportedly killed thousands in countries where the US is not at war. In that time, we have been inundated with repeated and contradictory claims about the program from ‘anonymous’ sources who cannot be held accountable for their claims.

This week, the Administration’s spin machine was once again in action, first leaking that the government’s numbers would not include Pakistan – a country that accounts for three-quarters of all strikes – and then absurdly walking back that position. Enough panicked legacy spinning – the Administration must reveal the true scale of the civilian deaths it has caused, and at the very least, offer an apology to the victims.

Notes 

1. Reprieve is an international human rights organization. Reprieve’s London office can be contacted on: communications [at] reprieve.org.uk / +44 (0) 207 553 8140. Reprieve US, based in New York City, can be contacted on Katherine [dot] oshea [at] reprieve.org / +1 917 855 8064.

2. The US Government’s claim that Pakistan will be included in its tally was reported by the Washington Posthere, while the previous claims can be found in the Post’s earlier report, here.

3. The 2011 comments by John Brennan can be found here.

4. Reprieve’s recent research into deaths under the US drone program is available here.

The Drone Papers: Leaked military documents expose U.S. ‘assassination complex’

Global Research, October 15, 2015

A stunning new exposé by The Intercept, which includes the publication of classified documents leaked by an intelligence source, provides an unprecedented look at the U.S. military’s secretive global assassination program.

The series of articles, titled The Drone Papers, follows months of investigation and uses rare primary source documents and slides to reveal to the public, for the first time, the flaws and consequences of the U.S. military’s 14-year aerial campaign being conducted in Yemen, Somalia, and Afghanistan—one that has consistently used faulty information, killed an untold number of civilians, and stymied intelligence-gathering through its “kill/capture” program that too often relies on killing rather than capturing.

“The series is intended to serve as a long-overdue public examination of the methods and outcomes of America’s assassination program,” writes the investigation’s lead reporter, Jeremy Scahill.

“This campaign, carried out by two presidents through four presidential terms, has been shrouded in excessive secrecy. The public has a right to see these documents not only to engage in an informed debate about the future of U.S. wars, both overt and covert, but also to understand the circumstances under which the U.S. government arrogates to itself the right to sentence individuals to death without the established checks and balances of arrest, trial, and appeal.”

The source of the documents, who asked to remain anonymous due to the U.S. government’s aggressive prosecution of whistleblowers, said the public has a right to know about a program that is so “fundamentally” and  “morally” flawed.

“It’s stunning the number of instances when I’ve come across intelligence that was faulty, when sources of information used to finish targets were misattributed to people,” he told The Intercept. “And it isn’t until several months or years later that you realize that the entire time you thought you were going after this target, it was his mother’s phone the whole time. Anyone caught in the vicinity is guilty by association – it’s a phenomenal gamble.”

As outlined by The Intercept, the key revelations of the reporting are:

  • Assassinations have depended on unreliable intelligence. More than half the intelligence used to track potential kills in Yemen and Somalia was based on electronic communications data from phones, computers, and targeted intercepts (know as signals intelligence) which, the government admits, it has “poor” and “limited” capability to collect. By the military’s own admission, it was lacking in reliable information from human sources.
  • The documents contradict Administration claims that its operations against high-value terrorists are limited and precise. Contrary to claims that these campaigns narrowly target specific individuals, the documents show that air strikes under the Obama administration have killed significant numbers of unnamed bystanders. Documents detailing a 14-month kill/capture campaign in Afghanistan, for example, show that while the U.S. military killed 35 of its direct targets with air strikes, 219 other individuals also died in the attacks.
  • In Afghanistan, the military has designated unknown men it kills as “Enemies Killed in Action.” According to The Intercept’s source, the military has a practice of labeling individuals killed in air strikes this way unless evidence emerges to prove otherwise.
  • Assassinations hurt intelligence gathering. The Pentagon study finds that killing suspected terrorists, even if they are legitimate targets, “significantly reduce[s]” the information available and further hampers intelligence gathering.
  • New details about the ‘kill chain’ reveal a bureaucratic structure headed by President Obama, by which U.S. government officials select and authorize targets for assassination outside traditional legal and justice systems, and with little transparency. The system included creating a portrait of a potential target in a condensed format known as a ‘Baseball Card,’ which was passed to the White House for approval, while individual drone strikes were often authorized by other officials.
  •  Inconsistencies with publicly available White House statements about targeted killings. Administration policy standards issued in 2013 state that lethal force will be launched only against targets that pose a “continuing, imminent threat to U.S. persons,” however documents from the same time reveal much more vague criteria, including that a person only need present “a threat to U.S. interest or personnel.”
  • New details of high-profile drone kills, including the 2012 killing in Somalia of Bilal al-Berjawi, which raise questions about whether the British government revoked his citizenship to facilitate the strike.
  • Information about a largely covert effort to extend the U.S. military’s footprint across the African continent, including through a network of mostly small and low-profile airfields in Djibouti and other African countries.

The investigation comes as the Obama administration announced plans on Thursday to delay withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Administration officials told CNN that troops may conduct “counterterrorism operations” against Islamic State (ISIS) militants there.

But as the documents reveal, assurances from the Obama administration that drone strikes are precise and used only in cases of “imminent” threats are themselves based on intentionally vague definitions of “imminence.”

“Privately, the architects of the U.S. drone program have acknowledged its shortcomings,” said Betsy Reed, editor-in-chief of The Intercept. “But they have made sure that this campaign, launched by Bush and vastly expanded under Obama, has been shrouded in secrecy. The public has a right to know how the US government has decided who to kill.”

As the source himself said, “We’re allowing this to happen. And by ‘we,’ I mean every American citizen who has access to this information now, but continues to do nothing about it.”

Russian consulate bombed and looted in Yemen; Saudis prohibit Russian plane to evacuate embassy staff

Posted on Fort Russ

Aden, Yemen
April 2, 2015

Translated by Kristina Rus
The Shiite rebels attacked and looted the Russian Consulate in Aden. They broke down the door of the Consulate building, and looted the consulate property and office equipment. The militants loaded the equipment and documents into cars and fled in an unknown direction. At the time of the attack there were no workers in the Russian Consulate.

Earlier the Russian Consulate in Aden was damaged in the bombing of the largest city in the South of Yemen by Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia. This was reported by the Russian Embassy in Yemen.

The source admitted that there was not a single window left in the building. He added that the Russian Consulate may be closed and Russian citizens evacuated.

On Wednesday, April 1, a Russian plane was not allowed to board on the territory of Yemen in order to evacuate the citizens of the Russian Federation. In early March the UN international staff was evacuated from Yemen. Germany, Japan, USA and Turkey already announced about suspending embassy operations.

A Russian plane is waiting at Cairo airport for permission to land in Sana’a. It has to evacuate Russian diplomats and Russian women who are married to the Yemenis. Despite the prior agreement, Saudi Arabia still does not allow the Russian plane to land in Sana’a.