Saturday, April 28, 2012

Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control
Medea Benjamin: Drones kill innocent civilians and antagonize whole populations   Go to story | Go to homepage

1st International Drone Summit:  
Killing and Spying by Remote Control

The peace group CODEPINK and the legal advocacy organizations Reprieve and the Center for Constitutional Rights are hosting the first international drone summit.   
Saturday April 28 and Sunday April 29.

Ed Kinane, anti-drone interview  
with Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!, Nov 4, 2011 

Friday, April 27, 2012

By Joe Glenton:
Why I Refused to Return to Fight in Afghanistan's Brutal Occupation

The Taliban clearly has broad support from Afghan people. 
Conscientious objection is a right and obligation in a failed war.

April 27, 2012 "The Guardian" - - 

Recent attacks in Kabul confirm the occupation is falling to pieces. Claims about "decisive years" and "turned corners" are little more than cant. Instead for all their lack of air power, drones and high-tech equipment, the Taliban are gaining ascendancy.
The ability to attack up to seven different locations, to hold one for 20 hours, and to attack the fortified compounds of the occupiers and local supporters cannot sensibly be read as a sign that the insurgency is losing ground. Fighting in Afghanistan is seasonal and the Kabul attacks were the season's opening game.

No insurgency can survive without broad support from the local population. The insurgent relies upon the people for intelligence, support, safety and more. 

The fact that insurgents now control great swaths of the country virtually unchallenged tells us the people have been lost, partially due to the occupiers' bumbling efforts. The argument that Afghans are rejecting the Taliban falls flat.

Let's not forget there is no mandate in law for aggression nor any mention of – or authority for – brutally occupying Afghanistan in the UN resolutions regarding it. 

Which is why I refused to serve a second tour in Afghanistan. 

I was sentenced to five months in military prison for it but other soldiers too have refused and are refusing to serve in Afghanistan – as is their right.

The Daily Mail published an excellent article about an anonymous British major's despair at being deployed into what he – and many soldiers I know – consider a lost cause. They are increasingly unwilling, as the officer said, to die for "a war of choice already lost halfway across the world" For all the clarity of the article, it ends in jingoism: dutifully, he will fight on, the writer asserts.

Yet conscientious objection is a legal and contractual right. In fact, it is more than that – it is a legal and moral obligation. 

This is why we must not accept the debate about serving in Afghanistan to be to narrowed down to an exchange about a soldier's heroism or cowardice. 

Instead, I would encourage servicemen to explore their right to refuse, be aware of it and to act upon their conscience. You will find you are not obliged to go; contracts, remember, bind multiple parties, not just one.

Naturally, the military and government will make it hard. Their oft-repeated fear is that if refusing to serve is allowed, "the floodgates will open". They are correct and that is all the more reason to inform servicemen and servicewomen of their rights.

At the same time as the Taliban attacks there has been a rise in atrocities. 

We have recently seen British soldiers arrested on suspicion of abusing children, as well as the stabbing by a squaddie of a 10-year-old Afghan boy. A multinational operation in all respects, the US has done its share; kill teams, SS flag-waving, photographing bodies, urinating on corpses and the Panjwai massacre carried out, according to the witnesses, by 15 to 20 US troops. 

When young men are shaped for war and sent to fight there are consequences – even in "just" wars. The training involves two-way dehumanisation – both of our soldiers and of the enemy – as Giles Fraser highlighted lately. These acts are coming thick and fast at the end of a long, dehumanising, failed war.

Conscientious objection was a hard road for me, but while I was in military prison I received 200 letters a day, which helped. As did the support of my fellow soldiers.

Those sending our young men and women to die or be mutilated for nothing have no authority to say what is honourable, courageous, heroic, or cowardly. 

You can volunteer, and you can un-volunteer. It's in the contract. 

Then perhaps our cynical, diamante-poppy-wearing political class will stop using the last dead kid to justify the next dead kid – insisting we must fight on so they have not died in vain. By refusing, I clawed back some honour from an honourless war.

Some public comments on this article I like!:

the vietnam War only came slowly to an end when the soldiers realised the hopelessness of the war and acted as Joe suggested, and some even killed their own commanders. Desperate times, desperate actions.  [rosemerry]

A failed war? If it had been carried out to achieve the goals used as a pretext to start it, then it failed, but these were lies. If one of the aims was to overhaul and improve the heroin producing industry after the Taliban practically stopped it, then that was a resounding success. If it was to get a better foothold in the region with a view to securing access to the Caspian basin, with also a view to extracting the oil via Afghanistan, then perhaps more work is needed, in Pakistan too, but some inroads have been made by the criminal western bankster alliance. A failed war? not completely.   [ianR]

"a war of choice already lost"  Terrorizing million of people is not a war. It's terrorism. Terrorism cannot be lost. It is a series of crimes against humanity.  [Pat]

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Read these important and insightful words.  
They are not just relevant to Americans. . .

A fish rots from the head
Trials Without Crimes Or Evidence

By Paul Craig Roberts

April 25, 2012 "Information Clearing House" ---  

Andy Worthington is a superb reporter who has specialized in providing the facts of the US government’s illegal abuse of “detainees,” against whom no evidence exists. 

In an effort to create evidence, the US government has illegally resorted to torture. Torture produces false confessions, plea bargains, and false testimony against others in order to escape further torture.

For these reasons, in Anglo-American law self-incrimination secured through torture has been impermissible evidence for centuries. So also has been secret evidence withheld from the accused and his attorney. Secret evidence cannot be confronted. Secret evidence is distrusted as made-up in order to convict the innocent. The evidence is secret because it cannot stand the light of day.

The US government relies on secret evidence in its cases against alleged terrorists, claiming that national security would be threatened if the evidence were revealed. This is abject nonsense. It is an absurd claim that presenting evidence against a terrorist jeopardizes the national security of the United States.

To the contrary, not presenting evidence jeopardizes the security of each and every one of us. Once the government can convict defendants on the basis of secret evidence, even the concept of a fair trial will disappear. Fair trials are already history, but the concept lingers.

Secret evidence murders the concept of a fair trial. It murders justice and the rule of law. Secret evidence means anyone can be convicted of anything. 

As in Kafka’s The Trial, people will cease to know the crimes for which they are being tried and convicted.

This extraordinary development in Anglo-American law, a development demanded by the unaccountable Bush/Obama Regime, has not resulted in impeachment proceedings; nor has it caused an uproar from Congress, the federal courts, the presstitute media, law schools, constitutional scholars, and bar associations.

Having bought the government’s 9/11 conspiracy theory, Americans just want someone to pay. They don’t care who as long as someone pays. To accommodate this desire, the government has produced some “high value detainees” with Arab or Muslim names.

But instead of bringing these alleged malefactors to trial and presenting evidence against them, the government has kept them in torture dungeons for years trying to create through the application of pain and psychological breakdown guilt by self-incrimination in order to create a case against them.

The government has been unsuccessful and has nothing that it can bring to a real court. So the Bush/Obama Regime created and recreated “military tribunals” to lend “national security” credence to the absolute need that non-existent evidence be kept secret.

Andy Worthington in his numerous reports does a good job in providing the history of the detainees and their treatment. He deserves our commendation and support. But what I want to do is to ask some questions, not of Worthington, but about the idea that the US is under terrorist threat.

By this September, 9/11 will be eleven years ago. Yet despite the War on Terror, the loss of Americans’ privacy and civil liberties, an expenditure of trillions of dollars on numerous wars, violations of US and international laws against torture, and so forth, no one has been held accountable. Neither the perpetrators nor those whom the perpetrators outwitted, assuming that they are different people, have been held accountable. Going on 11 years and no trials of villains or chastisement of negligent public officials. This is remarkable.

The government’s account of 9/11 implies massive failure of all US security and intelligence agencies along with those of our NATO puppets and Israel’s Mossad.
The government’s official line also implies the failure of the National Security Council, NORAD and the US Air Force, Air Traffic Control, Airport Security four times in one hour on the same morning. It implies the failure of the President, the Vice President, the National Security Adviser, the Secretary of Defense.

Many on the left and also libertarians find this apparent failure of the centralized and oppressive government so hopeful that they cling to the official “government failure” explanation of 9/11. However, such massive failure is simply unbelievable. How in the world could the US have survived the cold war with the Soviets if the US government were so totally incompetent?

If we attribute superhero powers to the 19 alleged hijackers, powers in excess of V’s in V for Vendetta or James Bond’s or Captain Marvel’s, and assume that these young terrorists, primarily Saudi Arabians, outwitted Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, The Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Tony Blair, along with the CIA, FBI, MI5 and MI6, Mossad, etc., one would have expected for the President, Congress, and the media to call for heads to roll. 

No more humiliating affront has ever been suffered by a major power than the US suffered on 9/11. Yet, absolutely no one, not even some lowly traffic controller, was scapegoated and held accountable for what is considered to be the most extraordinarily successful terrorist attack in human history, an attack so successful that it implies total negligence across the totality of the US government and that of all its allies.

This just doesn’t smell right. Total failure and no accountability. 

The most expensively funded security apparatus the world has ever known defeated by a handful of Saudi Arabians. How can anyone in the CIA, FBI, NSA, NORAD, and National Security Council hold up their heads? What a disgraced bunch of jerks and incompetents.

What do we need them for?

Consider the alleged hijackers. Despite allegedly being caught off guard by the 9/11 attacks, the FBI was soon able to identify the 19 hijackers despite the fact that apparently none of the alleged hijackers’ names are on the passenger lists of the airliners that they allegedly hijacked.

How did 19 passengers get on airplanes in the US without being on the passenger lists?

I do not personally know if the alleged hijackers were on the four airliners. Moreover, defenders of the official 9/11 story claim that the passenger lists released to the public were “victims lists,” not passenger lists, because the names of the hijackers were withheld and only released some four years later after 9/11 researchers had had years in which to confuse victims lists with passenger lists. This seems an odd explanation. 

Why encourage public misinformation for years by withholding the passenger lists and issuing victims lists in their place? It cannot have been to keep the hijackers’ names a secret as the FBI released a list of the hijackers several days after 9/11. Even more puzzling, if the hijackers’ names were on the airline passenger lists, why did it take the FBI several days to confirm the names and numbers of hijackers?

Researchers have found contradictions in the FBI’s accounts of the passenger lists with the FBI adding and subtracting names from its various lists and some names being misspelled, indicating possibly that the FBI doesn’t really know who the person is. The authenticity of the passenger lists that were finally released in 2005 is contested, and the list apparently was not presented as evidence by the FBI in the Moussaoui trial in 2006. 

David Ray Griffin has extensively researched the 9/11 story. In one of his books, 9/11 Ten Years Later, Griffin writes: “Although the FBI claimed that it had received flight manifests from the airlines by the morning of 9/11, the ‘manifests’ that appeared in 2005 had names that were not known to the FBI until a day or more after 9/11. These 2005 ‘manifests,’ therefore, could not have been the original manifests for the four 9/11 flights.”

The airlines themselves have not been forthcoming. We are left with the mystery of why simple and straightforward evidence, such as a list of passengers, was withheld for years and mired in secrecy and controversy.

We have the additional problem that the BBC and subsequently other news organizations established that 6 or 7 of the alleged hijackers on the FBI’s list are alive and well and have never been part of any terrorist plot.

These points are not even a beginning of the voluminous reasons that the government’s 9/11 story looks very thin.

But the American public, being throughly plugged into the Matrix, are not suspicious of the government’s thin story. Instead, they are suspicious of the facts and of those experts who are suspicious of the government’s story. Architects, engineers, scientists, first responders, pilots, and former public officials who raise objections to the official story are written off as conspiracy theorists. 

Why does an ignorant American public think it knows more than experts? 

Why do Americans believe a government that told them the intentional lie that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction despite the fact that the weapons inspectors reported to President Bush that Hussein had no such weapons? 

And now we see the same thing all over again with the alleged, but non-existent, Iranian nukes.

As Frantz Fanon wrote, the power of cognitive dissonance is extreme. It keeps people comfortable and safe from threatening information. 

Most Americans find the government’s lies preferable to the truth. They don’t want to be unplugged from the Matrix. The truth is too uncomfortable for emotionally and mentally weak Americans.

Worthington focuses on the harm being done to detainees. They have been abused for much of their lives. Their innocence or guilt cannot be established because the evidence is compromised by torture, self-incrimination, and coerced testimony against others. They stand convicted by the government’s accusation alone. These are real wrongs, and Worthington is correct to emphasize them.

In contrast, my focus is on the harm to America, on the harm to truth and truth’s power, on the harm to the rule of law and accountability to the people of the government and its agencies, on the harm to the moral fabric of the US government and to liberty in the United States.

As the adage goes, a fish rots from the head. As the government rots, so does the United States of America. 

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Click here to support his work.


Bradley Manning: A Show Trial of State Secrecy
By Michael Ratner
The US government's suppression of all accountability and transparency in prosecuting the WikiLeaks suspect is totalitarian. Continue


No Thanks!

By Gary D. Barnett

April 25, 2012 "Information Clearing House" ---  

It would be very difficult for me to think of any term that disgusted me more than those words uttered continuously in the presence of virtually any soldier in the United States: "Thank you for your service."
What service is actually being praised by those conditioned to say these empty words? Why are they thanking and praising nearly every soldier they see?
  • Is it because hatred of the U.S. is increasing, and new enemies are being created in the Middle East and all around the rest of the world? 
  • Is it because thousands and thousands of innocent people are being killed now in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and many more are being threatened?
  • Is it because 20,000,000 to 30,000,000 foreigners, mostly innocent civilians, have died just since World War II due to U.S. interference and war?
  • Is it because indefinite detention without due process, torture, assassination, and rendition are now common and accepted practices?
  • Is it because suicide rates among American soldiers have increased 80% since the Iraq War began?
  • Is it because mental problems now send more military personnel to the hospital than any other cause?
  • Is it because destruction and separation of military families is rampant?
    • Is it because civil liberties have all but disappeared due to so-called terrorism legislation? (terror legislation would be more accurate) 
    • Is it because of the creation of the USA PATRIOT Act, Military Commissions Act, NDAA, TSA, and Department of Homeland Security (DHS)? 
    • Is it because of the massive buildup of killer drones abroad and at home?
    • Is it because the huge deficit spending to support multiple aggressive wars is causing economic chaos?
    • Is it because of the surging number of double amputees of American soldiers? 
    • Is it because of increasing energy costs due to the United States unwarranted presence in the Middle East region?
    • Is it because the domestic police have now become a brutal militarized force, bent on controlling the entire population?
    I could of course go on, but the picture is clear. Those who continue to believe the propaganda about all U.S. wars leading to the protection of freedom, and to our national security, are blinded by ignorance, and consumed by pathetic false patriotism. 

    No U.S. wars have ever served the purpose of freedom; they have only served to destroy it.

    Due to these wars of aggression and occupation, our freedoms are virtually non-existent today. We are spied upon, tracked, searched without warrant, sexually assaulted, and radiated. 

    There are now checkpoints in many parts of the country where it is demanded that we "show our papers," and killer spy drones are filling our skies. Government agents and the military are patrolling all U.S. borders, and Blackhawk war helicopters sporting heavily armed soldiers hanging on tethers are flying over our cities.

    Because of these wars, the government has gained enormous power, and continues its assault on liberty. A police state environment has taken hold, and if not curbed soon, will lead to Martial Law in the near future. 

    The DHS has purchased enough killing ammunition to murder more than twice the population, and on the say so of one man, Americans can and are being assassinated. Why?

    In order for our national security to be defended, we first have to be attacked. That has not happened. In order to protect freedom here at home, all foreign wars must cease, and all the government agencies and "terrorism" legislation created since 9/11 should be abolished immediately! 

    Every U.S. base on foreign soil should be closed, and every troop stationed in another country should come home and enter the private sector. At least that would be a good start.

    There is a reason that the young are sent as cannon fodder to die in the wars of the politicians, bankers, and corporations. They are less likely to challenge the orders they are given; orders meant to be obeyed regardless of the immoral nature of those demands, and regardless of the horrible consequences they will most certainly face. 

    Those who "serve" do not serve the people who falsely praise them; they only serve one master, and that master is the nation state and its benefactors. It is not "we the people."

    Thank you for your service? Absolutely not! We can’t afford any more of this kind of service!

    Gary D. Barnett is president of Barnett Financial Services, Inc., in Lewistown, Montana. Visit his website

    This article was first published at Lew Rockwell
    Copyright © 2012 by 



Saturday, April 21, 2012

Vets, active-duty service members respond to new photos from Afghanistan

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The statement below was issued by March Forward!, an organization of anti-war veterans and active-duty service members. 

Please circulate it among friends, family and co-workers via email and social networks.
March Forward! is an affiliate organization of the ANSWER Coalition. We urge you to make a donation to March Forward!

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Vets, active-duty service members
respond to new photos from Afghanistan

Release of photos a service to all
who suffer from the war and foot the bill

Abuse of corpses in Afghanistan by U.S. soldiers
"In a war directed against an entire population that overwhelmingly opposes the foreign occupation, where every Afghan is considered 'fair game,' grotesque conduct as revealed in the most recent photos is inevitable."
Again, people are shocked by what is a normal, everyday occurrence in the Afghanistan war. Again, Pentagon officials act surprised and appalled, condemning an act as “isolated” and “out-of-character,” when they are responsible for creating the conditions for such acts and know full well these are part and parcel of the brutal war they are waging.

Again, the focus of the discourse is on what is done with the bodies of the dead—a crime against humanity—but not at all on why there is such carnage in Afghanistan—also a crime against humanity.

Nobody is asking why countless Afghans have decided to sacrifice their own lives to expel the U.S. occupation. The photos themselves do a lot to help answer that question.

In a war directed against an entire population that overwhelmingly opposes the foreign occupation, where every Afghan is considered “fair game,” grotesque conduct as revealed in the most recent photos is inevitable. No condemnation from Pentagon officials will put an end to it. No token punishment of rank-and-file soldiers will prevent further crimes from taking place. No public relations campaign by the White House will change the reality on the ground in Afghanistan.

There is no “good conduct” in a colonial-type war. There is no such thing as a “kinder, gentler” occupation by the most destructive military machine on the planet, attempting to subjugate an impoverished population that stands in strong, determined opposition to foreign troops on their soil. This is the reality of the war, and will be until all U.S. forces have left.

The Los Angeles Times, which first published the photos, is coming under fire from the Pentagon. Pentagon officials contacted the LA Times prior to the photos being released to pressure them into not releasing them.

The Pentagon asserted that the release of the photos would “incite violence and perhaps cause needless casualties.” This absurd doublespeak attempts to deflect the fact that the incitement of violence in Afghanistan, and constant needless casualties, are a result of their continued violent occupation of the country—not a few photos that simply reveal daily life in Afghanistan under occupation.

The Afghan people do not need to be incited to oppose U.S. forces by a few photos. They witness it and live it firsthand every single day, and have been for over a decade. That is why the resistance has grown exponentially as the occupation continues.

Pentagon does not care about needless loss of life
The Pentagon is angry about the release of the photos not because they care about “needless loss of life.” They’ve been sending thousands of American soldiers and Afghan civilians to their graves needlessly for 10 years. They are angry because they want to control the narrative of the war; they want to decide what the U.S. public sees and thinks about the war; they want to paint a pretty picture to maintain the public complacency that allows them to continue conducting the bloodbath in Afghanistan with impunity. 

The Pentagon is angry about the release of the photos because it shows the true face and true reality of the war. And they don’t want anyone to know the truth. If they told the truth about why we are being made to endlessly kill and die in Afghanistan, and what the reality of life is like for the Afghan people, they would be exposed as the biggest terrorists on the planet, causing unmatched suffering for the private profits of the 1%. 

The people of the United States deserve to know the truth about the war. 

They deserve to know what a shocking $2 billion a week of their tax dollars is being used to fund.

They deserve to know why their social services are being slashed, why their education system is crumbling, why there is “not enough money” to create jobs. They deserve to know what their loved ones are being sent to see and do. The release of the photos is an essential service to all of us who suffer from the war and who foot the bill.

The people of the United States, like the people of Afghanistan, by all polls, already overwhelmingly oppose the war. But that opposition has not yet materialized into a mass grassroots people’s movement fighting to end it. This is the Pentagon’s biggest fear, because it challenges their attempt to carry out the war endlessly against the will of the people. 

Exposure of the truth, as seen in these photos, can act as a catalyst for resistance.
There is no more important time than now to light that spark.

Veterans and active-duty troops in March Forward! have been fighting to expose the reality of the war, mobilize others against it, and reach out to other active-duty troops with the message that they have the absolute right to refuse to take part in the war. We welcome the glimpses of truth that have surfaced, and call on all people of conscience to join us in fighting to end this decade-long atrocity.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

'Len Aldis vs. Dow Chemical'

Len Aldis and his nemesis
Len Aldis and his nemesis

(LONDON) - Many of you have expressed an interest in the current controversy surrounding Dow Chemical Sponsorship of the 2012 Olympics. 

Len Aldis has received substantial worldwide support for his campaign to stop Dow from wrapping the Olympic Stadium with 336 panels of corporate advertising.

Dow Chemical was a major responsible party involved in the American Agent Orange campaign against the people of Vietnam.  

The front page of Len's website contains the correspondence Len has written in support of the millions of Vietnamese Victims of Agent Orange. I urge you to forward this material to colleagues and the media. 

It's 'business as usual' for the United States as they move on from one tragic war to another. But we must not forget the terrible tragedy of the American War in Vietnam and the Victims who through four generations continue to suffer through no fault of their own as companies like Dow Chemical look to hide the facts and bury the truth in search of more profit as their Victims continue to suffer. 

And let's not forget Napalm, another Dow product and one of the most quoted passages of a U.S.Army source:

‘We sure are pleased with those backroom boys at Dow. The original product wasn’t so hot - if the gooks were quick they could scrape it off. So the boys started adding polystyrene - now it sticks like shit to a blanket. But if the gooks jumped under water it stopped burning, so they started adding Willie Peter (white phosphorous ) so’s to make it burn better. And just one drop is enough, it’ll keep on burning right down to the bone so they die anyway from phosphorus poisoning.’ 

"The Vietnam war memorial in Washington is 492 feet long. If a similar war memorial had been made for the Vietnamese who died, with the same density of names, it would be nine miles long."

Dow should be ashamed of itself! 
Justice for the Victims of Agent Orange!

Mark Shapiro
London UK

Curiously 58 years ago,  on April 7 1954, US President Dwight D Eisenhower gave his (so called) 'famous' domino theory speech. Little did he know what a positive, progressive, democratic country Vietnam would become.


Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Irrationality of the Case against Iran’s Nuclear Program
"The Stupidest Idea I Ever Heard"

By Gary Leupp

But what is the logic of offering Iran a “last chance” to stop doing what it is legally entitled to do? 

The only logic I can see here–and it is a perverse form–resides in the assumption that as the bombs start to fall Washington will be able to say, “We were patient, we went that last mile, and gave them their opportunity, but they defied the international community and so we (or Israel) had to attack.” 

It is 2003 all over again...Preparations for an attack on Iran have been made, like those for the Iraq War, through a media campaign involving terrifying phrases and accusations...

What if mainstream journalists made it a point to constantly reiterate the following?

• The Iranians have consistently stated that they do not have or want a nuclear weapons program. They want to enrich uranium for nuclear medicine and for electrical power. They are not necessarily doing anything other than what Brazil, Argentina, Japan and other countries have done under IAEA investigation, and as signatories to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, they are absolutely entitled to do so. (The language of the treaty is clear: signatory nations have the “inalienable right” to develop civilian Nuclear programs.) 

• The chief decision-maker in Iran is Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. His religious edicts (fatwa) are considered binding law by Shiite Muslims. In 2005 he issued a fatwa banning the production, stockpiling or use of nuclear weapons as un-Islamic.

• The entire U.S. intelligence community (CIA, FBI, military intelligence, etc.) in two National Intelligence Estimates (in 2007 and 2010) concluded with a high degree of confidence that Iran does not have an active nuclear program.

• Israeli intelligence has concluded the same thing.

• The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has never found any evidence for a nuclear weapons program...

 • Iran has not attacked another country in several hundred years. It has no territorial claims on its neighbors and enjoys good relations with Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Iraq. It spends less than two percent of its GDP on military spending, as compared to Israel’s over six percent, and just about half as much in dollar terms as Israel. Iran spends $89 per capita per year on military spending, as opposed to $1,882 in Israel and $2,141 in the U.S. (the highest in the world).

• U.S. and Israeli military and intelligence officials agree that the Iranian leadership is rational and not reckless. The chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, recently told CNN that “the Iranian regime is a rational actor.” Meir Dagan, another former Mossad chief (Halevy’s successor, from 2002 to 2009), recently told CBS, “The regime in Iran is a very rational regime… No doubt that the Iranian regime is maybe not exactly rational based on what I call Western-thinking, but no doubt they are considering all the implications of their actions.” Dagan meanwhile calls an Israeli attack on Iran “the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard.”...

• There are over 30 operating synagogues in Iran, kosher stores and restaurants and Hebrew schools.

• While by law there is one member of parliament elected per 150,000 people, the Jewish community of 25,000 is guaranteed one seat....

Attacking Iran is “The stupidest idea I ever heard,” says the former Mossad chief.  Still, the U.S. government headed by “hope” and “change” candidate Obama is telling Iran to submit to U.S. diktat while it has the chance, or get bombed.
It is all, as the Iranian diplomats observe, irrational. 

Gary Leupp is a Professor of History at Tufts University, and author of numerous works on Japanese history. He can be reached at:
This article was first published at Dissident Voice

Thursday, April 05, 2012

It is Easter Weekend. . . 
so a perfect time for "Christians" to reflect on their beliefs, and the real world we live in, and all the hypocrisy. . .

The Drone and the Cross, a Good Friday Meditation

By Brian Terrell

"Were Jesus to preach today as he preached in Jerusalem two millennia ago, instead of a cross of wood the instrument of his passion might be a hellfire missile fired from a predator drone.

April 05, 2012 --- 

Were Jesus to preach today as he preached in Jerusalem two millennia ago, instead of a cross of wood the instrument of his passion might be a Hellfire missile fired from a Predator drone.

Over Holy Week, the days before celebrating the resurrection of Jesus on Easter, Christians are called to meditate on Jesus' last days. On Good Friday, in churches and often in city streets, it is customary to retrace the "Way of the Cross," symbolically following Jesus from his trial before the Roman procurator Pontius Pilate to his torture, crucifixion, death and burial. 

For American Christians in Holy Week, 2012, news headlines of wars in far-away places must not be seen as distractions from our meditations and liturgical observances but rather as a necessary means to realize the implications of Christ's passion for us here and now.

The Roman Empire employed crucifixion as its preferred method of executing suspects deemed threatening to its imperial power and to the "Pax Romana" it imposed on the known world. The history of empires is banal and predictable even in its cruelty. 

The United States is more clearly than ever the successor of this imperial tradition. Empire will always be on the technological cutting edge, from bronze swords to nuclear missiles, with each advance extending the reach and the catastrophic potential of successive imperial powers, but the history of empires is really one single tragic story told over and over again with incidental variations.

Today those deemed threats to the U.S. Empire and its "Pax Americana" are increasingly targeted by Predator and Reaper drones armed with missiles and bombs.  

Just as Rome considered Jesus a "high value target" for execution, it is unlikely that today's world empire would view Jesus' life and teaching with any less suspicion. Were Jesus to preach today as he preached in Jerusalem two millennia ago, instead of a cross of wood the instrument of his passion might be a hellfire missile fired from a predator drone.

While the revolution Jesus preached was nonviolent, this did not matter to Rome and such distinctions are equally lost on the U.S. Empire, whose military, Homeland Security and FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force are at least as zealous in persecuting unarmed advocates for economic and political justice as they are in pursuing terrorists. 

Jesus called for a jubilee abolition of debt, for redistribution of wealth and for freedom to those in prison. His nonviolent stance did not keep him from engaging in dialogue with the Zealots, who advocated violent revolution. This would be all the evidence the U.S. Empire needs to detain an "enemy combatant" indefinitely at Guantanamo or indeed, to put him on a CIA hit list.

Mouthpieces for the present empire defend assassination by drone citing the fact that arresting some suspected threats would be difficult to impossible - they travel the desolate reaches of the empire, passing in and out of porous borders. When they do enter populated areas, they are surrounded by crowds of supporters, which translates in U.S. parlance as despicably using civilians as human shields.

The military and law enforcement authorities of Rome and its colonial client states were likewise frustrated in their attempts to track and arrest Jesus. When things got hot in Judea, Jesus and his disciples were known to slip out of the Roman Province of Judea into Herod's Tetrarchy of Galilee and from there, hop a boat to the jurisdiction of the Decapolis. 

The mightiest military force on the planet in the year 33 of the current era could not arrest Jesus in Jerusalem "for fear of the crowds," the Gospels tell us.  In order to bring him to "justice," Rome needed to recruit and bribe one of Jesus' inner circle for inside information and then wait to find him alone in a dark garden. That empire required a sham trial before their governor could sentence Jesus to die. 

Today's mightiest empire uses unmanned drones to find and kill threats to its power with no trial and from long distances. Victims are named by the military or the CIA on evidence that is kept secret from any court.  

Rather than being hounded by spies and dragged to a cross by mercenary boots on the ground, threats to the U.S. Empire are now hunted by drones high in the sky, scanning the cities and the wilderness, sending high-resolution video feed to their "pilots" thousands of miles away in Nevada, California or New York and it is from that safe distance that the trigger is pulled to launch the fatal missile.

While drones are touted as weapons of precision, their Hellfire missiles and 500 pound bombs are not surgical instruments. Weddings and funerals, when attended by "high value targets," are fair game and hundreds of celebrants and mourners have been killed by drone strikes on these events in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Villages and urban neighborhoods where such "targets" are suspected to be residing or visiting are devastated along with their inhabitants. War is hell, it is admitted in moments of candor, and an empire cannot allow itself to be deterred by fear of "collateral damage" from pursuing its objectives.

With the flexibility that drones offer the present empire, Rome would not have needed to wait for Jesus to surface in Jerusalem at Passover, but could have killed him at its leisure along with anyone incidentally in his vicinity. If they had drones, the Romans might have taken out Jesus at Cana along with the other wedding guests. A hellfire missile might have found him welcoming the children or at the funeral of his friend, Lazarus. The hit might have come as a 500 pound bomb dropped on the upper room, annihilating all at the last supper.

U.S. drones, it is reported, hover over the aftermath of an attack and target rescue workers and those who attempt to give the dead dignified burial. Had Rome the technical capability and lack of compunction of the U.S., Joseph of Arimathaea might have paid with his life for his work of mercy, laying the tortured corpse of Jesus in his own tomb. Mary and the women who later brought ointments to bathe and anoint Jesus' body might never had made it to the tomb; or they might have been burned beyond recognition themselves before they could deliver the good news that the tomb was empty.

Of course this meditation is the result of wild and perhaps irresponsible speculation. I wonder, though, if it is so far off as it seems even to me. 

More than this I wonder what it means for me as a privileged citizen of an empire, to venerate the holy cross and to worship the tortured messiah who died on it while my government unleashes hellish droves of machines into the sky to spy and to torture and kill in my name.

Brian Terrell
lives in Maloy, Iowa and is a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence. He spent Good Fridays of 2009 and 2011 in jails in Nevada and New York after protesting at U.S. Air Force drone operation centers.