Monday, August 27, 2012

I just signed this petition, and hope you can sign it too!:

PROTECT OUR CITIZEN - JULIAN ASSANGE - Petition
To: Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Attorney General Nicola Roxon, and Foreign Minister Bob Carr - Australia
PROTECT OUR CITIZEN! - JULIAN ASSANGE - PETITION

From Biannca Pace - Chair Ministry for Peace - Australia (Ltd):
"I believe what Noam Chomsky said, that  "he is a true Democrat and a courageous person"
I also think that if his rights as an Australian are not granted him, then any Australian's rights (yours and mine too) can be rescinded at anytime and at the whim of those whom WE elect to act for Us!
The more support we can get behind this campaign, the better chance we have of ensuring that all Australians rights are protected, including Julian Assange, who is a reporter of news, the news that those in power would keep from an unsuspecting public.

You can read more and sign the petition here:    
http://www.communityrun.org/petitions/protect-our-citizen-julian-assange

Can you also take a moment to share the petition with others?

In the spirit of peace,
Biannca Pace - Chair
Ministry for Peace - Australia (Ltd) www.mfpa.org.au


A nonprofit organisation part of a global initiative to establish Ministries or Departments of Peace worldwide.
AGENT ORANGE - NEWS FROM AUSTRALIA . . . 

Art show exposes Agent Orange disaster

By John Percy
(
Direct Action — August 26, 2012)

The Agent Orange Justice art exhibition held in Sydney August 7-11 has been hugely successful, contributing significantly to raising consciousness about this important but all too neglected issue.

Australian, Vietnamese and Vietnamese Australian artists donated paintings, posters, cartoons, installations and sculpture to expose the ongoing horror of the Agent Orange chemical warfare inflicted on the Vietnamese people by the US and Australian war in the 1960s and ’70s. 

August 10 was the 51st anniversary of the beginning of the spraying of Agent Orange in Vietnam.

The works were sold by a silent auction, raising more than $25,000 for the victims, which will go to a facility for Agent Orange children initiated by VAVA, the Vietnamese Association for Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin.  Bids came from supporters of the campaign, artists, art collectors, art dealers and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and the Australian War Memorial.

The exhibition, organised by Agent Orange Justice — Australia Vietnam Solidarity Network, was launched on August 7 before nearly 300 people by NSW Governor Marie Bashir and Vietnamese Consul-General Mai Phuoc Dzung. It was held at the Mori Gallery, 168 Day Street, Sydney, kindly donated by gallery director Stephen Mori.

Actor and playwright Kate Mulvany — an Agent Orange survivor — performed extracts from her award-winning play, The Seed, about the daughter of an Australian Vietnam veteran who was damaged by Agent Orange.

 

Toxic atrocity


Eighty million litres of “herbicide” were sprayed on the forests, fields and people of Vietnam from 1961 to 1971, to deny shelter to the Vietnamese freedom fighters, and to deny them food and support from the local community. Most of this was Agent Orange, contaminated with high levels of dioxin, probably the most toxic chemical known.

More than 3 million people were killed or affected, with horrible birth defects inflicted up to the third and fourth generations. US and Australian service men and women and their children have also been terribly affected.

The exhibition was in aid of Vietnamese children suffering horrific birth defects as a consequence of Agent Orange/dioxin remaining in the soil, water and food chain in some parts of Vietnam and the consequential genetic damage continuing for generations.

The exhibition also launched a petition to the Australian parliament calling for support of the Vietnamese victims, land remediation and recognition of Agent Orange health issues for all veterans, and calling for the governments involved to acknowledge their responsibility. The US government has acknowledged responsibility for its own veterans suffering the effects of Agent Orange, and gives a limited amount of compensation to some of them, but still persists in denying a scientific connection for the Vietnamese victims.

A US effort to start addressing the problem in the Da Nang airbase, one of the 30 worst “hotspots” and one of the places where the deadly chemical was stored and where the spraying was organised from, has just begun, to much fanfare in the bourgeois media, engineered to hit the press on the eve of the 51st anniversary, no doubt a PR exercise seeking to drown out the AO survivors’ voices. But given the extent of the disaster and the real needs of the victims, this is clearly a token effort.

 

Raising awareness


Apart from raising a modest amount of money to go directly to the Vietnamese victims, the main gain of the event was raising consciousness among Australians about the severity and ongoing impact of the Agent Orange disaster.  

Articles about the Art Exhibition and the AO issue appeared in the Daily Telegraph, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Inner West Courier.

ABC Radio Australia gave a very good Vietnamese language report, with photos and video interviews. There were also extensive reports in the Vietnamese media.

In the month leading up to the exhibition, we held AOJ stalls at the Addison Road Centre markets, warmly greeted by the crowds, collecting nearly 1000 signatures for our petition. We also organised a raffle with prizes donated by Le Tran Vietnamese restaurant, New Internationalist magazine and Gould’s Bookshop, raising $1500.

During the exhibition we screened informative DVDs over three evenings: In the Year of the Pig, the 1968 Oscar-nominated documentary by Emile de Antonio chronicling the historical roots of the war on Vietnam; documentaries on Agent Orange, including two from VAVA: Agent Orange /Dioxin and the Right to Life and The Path to Justice; Agent Orange, Agent Blue, the short yet powerful documentary by David Bradbury, using the poem by the late Denis Kevans,which was screened multiple times.

On August 11, we held a seminar that explored the impact of Agent Orange in Australia and Vietnam . Speakers were actor and playwright Kate Mulvany, Greens MP John Kaye, and Eva To from AOJ. It was followed by a party to celebrate the very successful event, drawing the raffle and thanking the many volunteers, who had also provided tasty Vietnamese food for the launch and the party.

 

Australian and Vietnamese artists


There was beautiful art by Vietnamese-Australian artists (some of whom are victims of Agent Orange), Vietnamese artists and well-known Australian artists, including a Dobell winner, an Archibald finalist and artists whose work is in state and national galleries and international collections. 

Participating artists included:

Suzanne Archer, Ray Beattie, Zanny Begg, Anna Bishop, Elizabeth Cummings, Carol Dance, Carleen Devine, Vuong Trong Duc, Bonita Ely, George Gittoes, Dominic Nguyen Hong Golding, Pamela Griffith, Kevin Hegerty, Johanna Hildebrandt, Astra Howard, Dot Kolentsis, Geoff Levitus, Carlie Lopez, Tobjorn Lundmark, Euan Macleod, Kelly Manning, Nerine Martini, Reg Mombassa, Nguyen Thi Chinh Le, Khue Nguyen, Ezster Maarosszeky, Mai Nguyen-Long, Nguyen Nghia Cuong, Nguyen Nghia Phuong, Nguyen Van Hien, Nguyen The Hung, Susan Norrie, Phi Phi Oanh, Peter O'Doherty, Sue Pedley, Ambrose Reisch, Erik Royds, Van Rudd, Greg Shapley, Wendy Sharpe, Maia Sinclair-Ferguson, Feyona van Stom, My Le Thi, Mark Tippett, Sophie Verrechia, Carla and Lisa Wherby, Fiona White, Simon Yates.

There were also posters and contemporary art from 20 Vietnamese artists, plus drawings by cartoonists Robert Carter, Rod Emmerson, Wayne Fleming, Eric Lobbecke, Alan Moir, Bruce Petty, Larry Pickering, David Pope and Nik Scott.

There were also photographs of Agent Orange victims by Hoai Thanh Pham, displayed in an impressive installation (4 x 15 metres), explaining the various diseases and conditions caused by the poison.

We also put up posters from the campaign against the war in Vietnam , Vietnamese political posters and information displays.

 

Justice when?


AOJ was established in June 2011, with a launch meeting addressed by Mai Phuoc Dzung, the Vietnamese consul-general, Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon, green bans activist Jack Mundey and Mike Karadjis from AOJ.

AOJ is the Australian section of the international campaign to hold the US government responsible for the disaster it created for millions of Vietnamese people as a result of its decade-long spraying of Agent Orange in Vietnam. 

This international campaign is spearheaded by VAVA, and aims to pressure the US government and the chemical companies that produced Agent Orange, including Dow and Monsanto, to pay to clean up the toxic mess still contaminating parts of Vietnam ’s environment and to provide adequate compensation to the Vietnamese affected.

Since its launch, AOJ has had encouraging success. It has set up a very informative website and a Facebook page. AOJ member Senator Lee Rhiannon presented a speech to parliament on the issue on November 8. Trade unions and other organisations have affiliated or provided statements of support.


AOJ has ambitious plans to develop the campaign in the coming year.   
Contact AOJ to build or contribute to our events, or to join or affiliate: 
 info@agentorangejustice.org.au .


Friday, August 24, 2012

Getting Rid of George W. Bush Wasn't Enough. 
 The US Remains a Bully

By Owen Jones

The issue isn't Obama, any more than it was Bush before him. 

The issue is US power.

August 23, 2012 "The Independent" --  

How easy it was to scrutinise US power when George W. Bush was in office. After all, it was difficult to defend an administration packed with such repulsive characters, like Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, whose attitude towards the rest of the world amounted to thuggish contempt.

Many will shudder remembering that dark era: the naked human pyramids accompanied by grinning US service personnel in Abu Ghraib; the orange-suited prisoners in Guantanamo, kneeling in submission at the feet of US soldiers; the murderous assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah. By the end of Bush's term in office, favourable opinion of the US had plummeted even in allied countries, and those desperate for a Republican rout in the presidential elections ranged from resolute socialists to committed Tories.

It was a bad dream that went on for eight years, and no wonder much of the world is still breathing a sigh of relief. But US foreign policy these days escapes scrutiny. In part, that is down a well-grounded terror of the only viable alternative to Barack Obama: the increasingly deranged US right. 

A deliberate shift to a softer, more diplomatic tone has helped, too. But it is also the consequence of a strategic failure on the part of many critics of US foreign policy in the Bush era. As protesters marched in European cities with placards of Bush underneath "World's No 1 Terrorist", the anti-war crusade became personalised. Bush seemed to be the problem, and an understanding of US power – the nature of which remains remarkably consistent from president to president – was lost.

This week, the UN's Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism, Ben Emmerson QC, demanded that the US allow independent investigation over its use of unmanned drones, or the UN would be forced to step in. 

These drones target militants, it is claimed, but according to a study by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, between 282 and 585 civilians have died in Pakistan as a result. In one such attack in North Waziristan in 2009, several villagers died in an attempt to rescue victims of a previous strike.

According to Pakistan's US Ambassador, Sherry Rehman, the drone war "radicalises foot soldiers, tribes and entire villages in our region". After the latest strike this week, Pakistan's foreign ministry said the attacks were "a violation of its sovereignty and territorial integrity and are in contravention of international law". Its Parliament has passed a resolution condemning the drone war. 

It is armed aggression by the Obama administration, pure and simple.  If it was happening under the Bush presidency, the opposition would be vociferous and widespread.   But while there were 52 such strikes in Pakistan in eight years of Bush, there have been over 280 in three and a half years of Obama. Numbers have soared in Yemen and Somalia, too.

Two months ago, former US President Jimmy Carter described drone attacks as a "widespread abuse of human rights" which "abets our enemies and alienates our friends". He's not wrong: the Pew Research Center found just 7 per cent of Pakistanis had a positive view of Obama, the same percentage as Bush had just before he left office.

But, in the West, Obama can get away with acts that Bush would rightly be pilloried for. 

Indeed, he seems to think it's all a bit of a laugh: in 2010, he jokingly threatened the Jonas brothers with a Predator drone strike if they came near his daughters. How droll, Barack.

Guantanamo was iconic of Bush's brutality, and after his election Obama signed executive orders mandating its closure. The camp remains open for business, pledged to take new "high-value" detainees if captured. The same goes for Obama's pledge to shut down CIA-run "black site prisons" in Afghanistan. 

At least 20 secret temporary prisons remain in place, with widespread allegations of ill-treatment. US involvement in a senseless, unwinnable war in the country – ruled by a weak, corrupt government that stole the 2009 presidential election with ballot stuffing, intimidation and fraud – continues.

Under Obama, the US role in the Middle East remains as cynically wedded to strategic self-interest as ever. 

Despotic tyrannies like Saudi Arabia are armed to the teeth: in 2010, the US signed an arms deal with the regime worth $60bn, the biggest in US history. Obama has resumed sales of military equipment to Bahrain's dictatorship as it brutally crushes protesters struggling for democracy. 

Last year, Saudi Arabia invaded Bahrain with tacit US support. And even when the US-backed Mubarak dictatorship was on the ropes in Egypt, Obama's administration remained a cheerleader, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arguing that the "Egyptian Government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people".

Coupled with the US's ongoing failure to pressure Israel into accepting a just peace with the Palestinians, no wonder there is rising global anger at Obama. 

But of course, the issue isn't Obama, any more than it was Bush before him. The issue is US power. But despite its best efforts – and as menacing as it can be for Pakistani villagers and Bahraini democrats – its power is in decline. 

The US share of global economic output was nearly a quarter in 1991; today, it represents less than a fifth. The financial crash has accelerated the ongoing drain in US economic power to the East. Latin America, regarded as the US's backyard since the 1823 Monroe Doctrine claimed it for the US sphere of influence, is now dominated by governments demanding a break from the free-market Washington Consensus. And the Iraq war not only undermined US military prestige and invincibility, it perversely boosted Iran's power in the Middle East.

With the last remaining superpower at its weakest since World War II, there is an unmissable opening to argue for a more equal and just world order, restricting the ability of Great Powers to throw their weight around.

And a word of warning: if we don't seize this opportunity now, one superpower will simply be replaced by another – and our world will be as unequal and unjust as ever.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012



And what have the FUKUS countries  (France, UK, US)  
given Libya and Africa in return? . . .


*

Don't Lose Sight of Why the US is Out to Get Julian Assange

By Seumas Milne

. . .They disgorged devastating evidence of US war crimes and collusion with death squads in Iraq on an industrial scale, its illegal US spying on UN officials – as well as a compendium of official corruption and deceit across the world. . .   Continue


*

War Fever As Seen From Iran

By Pepe Escobar

. . . So it's time for something completely different - and totally absent from Western corporate media - sound Iranian minds rationally analyzing what's really going on behind the drums of war . . .   Continue


Amnesty International is US State Department Propaganda

Amnesty run by US State Department representatives, funded by convicted financial criminals, and threatens real human rights advocacy worldwide.
by Tony Cartalucci

August 22, 2012 -  Mistakenly considered by many as the final word on human rights worldwide, it might surprise people to know that Amnesty International is in fact one of the greatest obstacles to real human rights advocacy on Earth.  

In its most recent 2012 annual report (page 4, .pdf), Amnesty reiterates one of the biggest lies it routinely tells:
"Amnesty International is funded mainly by its membership and public donations. No funds are sought or accepted from governments for investigating and campaigning against human rights abuses. Amnesty International is independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion."
This is categorically false. Amnesty international is indeed funded and run by not only governments, but also immense corporate-financier interests, and is not only absolutely entwined with political ideology and economic interests, it is an essential tool used for perpetuating just such interests. . . .


Image: Same lies, different podium. Suzanne Nossel previously of the US State Department, is now executive director of Amnesty International USA. Her primary function of dressing up aspirations of corporate-financier global hegemony as "human rights advocacy" has not changed. 

Read the complete article here:   
http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2012/08/amnesty-international-is-us-state.html
 

  *

US Desperation Surfaces in Syria

Obama's bizarre threats indicative of losing strategy and increasing desperation. 
by Tony Cartalucci

August 21, 2012 - US-led NATO forces armed, funded, trained, and even provided air support for Libyan terrorists emanating out of Libya's eastern Cyrenaica region - most notably Benghazi which had served as the premier international terrorist recruiting ground in the world, according to the US Army's Combating Terrorism Center, producing a percentage per capita of militants outstripping even that of Saudi Arabia.

Operating under the banner of the "Libyan Islamic Fighting Group" (LIFG), a US State Department, British Home Office, and United Nations-listed international terrorist organization, and officially merged with Al Qaeda in 2007, its commanders including Abdul Hakim Belhaj and Mahdi al-Harati led NATO's military proxy forces on the ground as US, French, and British planes destroyed the nation from the air.

These very same commanders of this very same listed-terrorist organization would then turn its cash, weapons, and fighters on Syria, as early as November 2011, arriving on the Turkish-Syrian border to enjoy yet another NATO safe haven and logistical networks overseen by Western intelligence along with US funding and arms laundered through Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC) members such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia. . . . 

Read the complete article here: 


 *

'Veterans For Peace'  Appeals to Non-Alignment Movement Leaders:  

Stop War, Stop Sanctions on Iran 

Peaceful Action Urged on Iran Crisis

August 19, 2012

This is an urgent appeal from Veterans For Peace. We are an organization of U.S. veterans formed in 1985 to try to bring an end to war. VFP is a nonprofit organization recognized by the U.N. as an NGO.
 
We are appealing to the leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement to do everything in your power to head off a military attack on Iran in the coming weeks. 

Israel’s leaders regard the period between now and the U.S. election on Nov. 6 as the most opportune time to virtually guarantee U.S. support for such an attack. And the continuing buildup of U.S. forces in the area of the Persian Gulf strengthens the impression of U.S. readiness to provide it.

As you non-aligned leaders meet later this week in Tehran, it seems time for plain speaking — and warning. Official statements by Israel and the U.S. assert, with cavalier nonchalance, that the “military option” against Iran is “on the table.”

Thus, Israel and the U.S. are, de facto, in open violation of Article 2(4) of the U.N. Charter, which prohibits not only the use of force but also the threat to use force against a country from which there is no imminent danger. 

Sadly, after such threats it can be a short step to the actual use of force, as we observed in the lead-up to the illegal attack on Iraq in March 2003. . .




Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Why the hell does the world tolerate this?!

In my opinion, the US-led sanctions against Iran should be absolutely condemned as a criminal act of aggression and a monstrous war crime against Iran.

I think it is also important to not simply link the sanctions to the Iran nuclear programme.  As we all should know, there is absolutely no evidence that Iran has a nuclear WEAPONS programme, or even the intention of developing nuclear weapons.  Iran's peaceful nuclear development is entirely legal. 

I believe the sanctions have little or nothing to do with Iran's nuclear programme at all - that is just for PR propaganda purposes – so we should not be assisting in this public deception.

The real reason for the sanctions is simply to destroy Iran as an independent, regional power, and thus remove another irritant to Israeli and US interests, by wreaking havoc on the economic and social life of its people.  The nuclear issue is simply a smokescreen to hide their crimes behind.

These criminal sanctions against the innocent Iranian people are just further evidence of how imperialism is the supreme international vandal, and still “the greatest purveyor of violence” in the world today, as described all those years ago by Martin Luther King.  
(Bruce)

Killing Iran’s Children
Are the Sanctions "Worth It?"


By Dave Lindorff

Iranians suffering from cancer, MS, kidney disease or other diseases — many of them children — are reportedly being prevented from getting needed medicines because of US sanctions.

August 13, 2012 "Information Clearing House" --  

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright should be a happy camper: Another campaign of sanctions and embargoes by the US is about to start killing children, this time in Iran.

Albright, as President Bill Clinton’s Secretary of State, when interviewed on CBS’s news magazine program “60 Minutes” back in 2000, was asked by reporter Lesley Stahl about reports that US sanctions on Iraq had led to the deaths of some 500,000 Iraqi children because of shortages of medicine and things like chlorine for treating water supplies. Stahl asked Albright if such a dreadful toll was “worth it.” Albright famously responded, “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.”

Albright must be happy then that apparently the same kind of heartless logic is at work once more, this time orchestrated by the Obama administration and the current Secretary of State, It Takes a Village author and self-styled child advocate Hillary Clinton.

According to a letter sent to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon by the head of Iran’s Charity Foundation for Special Diseases, the current US-led sanctions campaign against Iranian financial institutions and efforts to prevent western banks from doing business with Iran have made it next to impossible for Iranian doctors and hospitals to obtain medicines from abroad for such relatively rare but serious diseases as hemophilia, Multiple sclerosis (MS), various cancers, kidney failure and thalassemia.

The tightening of international screws on Iranian financial transactions has also made it hard for domestic makers of some of these medicines in Iran to obtain the raw materials needed to manufacture needed medicines locally, according to the letter.

Fatemeh Hashemi Rafsanjani, the author of the letter, called on the secretary general to act to prevent the sanctions campaign from harming an estimated 6 million Iranians who suffer from these diseases. She said that the sanctions had already “directly affected the lives and well-being of thousands of patients.”

The US-led campaign to squeeze Iran economically is an effort to pressure the Iranian public to make their country’s leaders shut down a completely legal effort to develop a domestic nuclear fuel enrichment program. 

Iranians suffering from cancer, MS, kidney disease or other diseases — many of them children — are reportedly being prevented from getting needed medicines because of a fear by Israel and its backer, the US, that Iran’s nuclear program might lead in the future to Iran’s developing a nuclear bomb capability, becoming the second nuclear nation in the Middle East, ending Israel’s nuclear monopoly.

Although US intelligence services concede that there is no evidence that Iran is currently trying to develop a nuclear bomb, the possibility that this might happen in the future is apparently justification enough for threatening the lives of critically ill Iranian citizens.

The US sanctions on Iran will no doubt also create problems for victims of Iran’s latest disaster — a pair of earthquakes, 6.4 and 6.3 on the Richter Scale, which struck in the country’s northwestern region Saturday, killing several hundred people and leaving over 16,000 homeless. Hospitals, some of them damaged, were reportedly overcrowded and were struggling to obtain medicines. 

The US, through its USAID program, sent in a planeload of supplies–bottled water, blankets “personal hygiene kits” — to Tehran, which Washington valued at $350,000, and also provided another $50,000 through the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, but that aid is a pittance compared to the supplies that are being deliberately blocked by sanctions-related constraints on Iranian international payments.

No one should be surprised by this ruthless victimization of children and the sick by Washington in the name of realpolitik. In Cuba, following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, there was an epidemic of blindness and vision damage among children because of the inability of Cuba, the subject of a decades-long US trade embargo, to obtain necessary food and especially vitamin A.


Secretary Albright probably thinks that disaster was also “worth it.”

This article was originally published at Counterpunch


Tuesday, August 07, 2012

From beginning to end, this article by Michael Parenti is a most brilliant analysis of our world. I have copied it here in its entirety. 

If only every human being on the planet could read Michael's words!

It spoke to me on many levels, and brought tears to my eyes by the end!  

I urge you to read it, think about it, and see if it speaks to you as well.
 
Thank you Michael, and please keep writing!

Bruce McPhie


Iran and Everything Else

By Michael Parenti

Occasionally individuals complain that I fail to address one subject or another. One Berkeley denizen got in my face and announced: "You leftists ought to become aware of the ecological crisis." In fact, I had written a number of things about the ecological crisis, including one called "Eco-Apocalypse." His lack of familiarity with my work did not get in the way of his presumption.

Years ago when I spoke before the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in New York, the moderator announced that she could not understand why I had "remained silent" about the attempt to defund UNESCO. Whatever else I might have been struggling with, she was convinced I should have joined with her in trying to save UNESCO (which itself really was a worthy cause).

People give me marching orders all the time. Among the most furiously insistent are those fixed on 9/11. Why haven’t I said anything about 9/11? Why am I "a 9/11 denier." In fact, I have written about 9/11 and even spoke at two 9/11 conferences (Santa Cruz and New York), raising questions of my own.

Other people have been "disappointed" or "astonished" or "puzzled" that I have failed to pronounce on whatever is the issue du jour. No attention is given by such complainers to my many books, articles, talks, and interviews that treat hundreds of subjects pertaining to political economy, culture, ideology, media, fascism, communism, capitalism, imperialism, media, ecology, political protest, history, religion, race, gender, homophobia, and other topics far too numerous to list. (For starters, visit my website: www.michaelparenti.org)

But one’s own energy, no matter how substantial, is always finite. One must allow for a division of labor and cannot hope to fight every fight.

Recently someone asked when was I going to "pay some attention" to Iran. Actually I have spoken about Iran in a number of interviews and talks---not to satisfy demands made by others but because I myself was moved to do so. In the last decade, over a five year period, I was repeatedly interviewed by English Radio Tehran. 

My concern about Iran goes back many years. Just the other day, while clearing out some old files, I came across a letter I had published over 33 years ago in the New York Times (10 May 1979), reproduced here exactly as it appeared in the Times:


To the Editor of the New York Times:

For 25 years the Shah of Iran tortured and murdered many thousands of dissident workers, students, peasants and intellectuals. For the most part, the U.S. press ignored these dreadful happenings and portrayed the Shah as a citadel of stability and an enlightened modernizer.

Thousands more were killed by the Shah’s police and military during the popular uprisings of this past year. Yet these casualties received only passing mention even though Iran was front-page news for several months. And from 1953 to 1978 millions of other Iranians suffered the silent oppression of poverty and malnutrition while the Shah, his family, and his generals grew ever richer.

Now the furies of revolution have lashed back, thus far executing about 200 of the Shah’s henchmen—less than what the Savak would arrest and torture on a slow weekend. And now the U.S. press has suddenly become acutely concerned, keeping a careful account of the "victims," printing photos of firing squads and making repeated references to the "repulsion" and "outrage" felt by anonymous "middle-class" Iranians who apparently are endowed with finer sensibilities than the mass of ordinary people will bore the brunt of the Shah’s repression. At the same time, American commentators are quick to observe that the new regime is merely replacing one repression with another.

So it has always been with the recording of revolutions: the mass of nameless innocents victimized by the ancien régime go uncounted and unnoticed, but when the not-so-innocent murderers are brought to revolutionary justice, the business-owned press is suddenly filled with references to "brutality" and "cruelty."
That anyone could equate the horrors of the Shah’s regime with the ferment, change and struggle that is going on in Iran today is a tribute to the biases of the U.S. press, a press that has learned to treat the atrocities of the U.S.-supported right-wing regimes with benign neglect while casting a stern self-righteous eye on the popular revolutions that challenge such regimes.

Michael Parenti
Washington, D.C.


There is one glaring omission in this missive: I focused only on the press without mentioning how the White House and leading members of Congress repeatedly had hailed the Shah as America’s sturdy ally---while U.S. oil companies merrily plundered Iran’s oil (with a good slice of the spoils going to the Shah and his henchmen).

A few years before the 1979 upheaval, I was teaching a graduate course at Cornell University. There I met several Iranian graduate students who spoke with utter rage about the Shah and his U.S.-supported Savak secret police. They told of friends being tortured and disappeared. They could not find enough damning words to vent their fury. These students came from the kind of well-off Persian families one would have expected to support the Shah. (You don’t make it from Tehran to Cornell graduate school without some money in the family.)

All I knew about the Shah at that time came from the U.S. mainstream media. But after listening to these students I began to think that this Shah fellow was not the admirably benign leader and modernizer everyone was portraying in the news.

The Shah’s subsequent overthrow in the 1979 revolution was something to celebrate. Unfortunately the revolution soon was betrayed by the theocratic militants who took hold of events and created their Islamic Republic of Iran. These religious reactionaries set about to torture and eradicate thousands of young Iranian radicals. They made war upon secular leftists and "decadent" Western lifestyles, as they set about establishing a grim and corrupt theocracy.

U.S. leaders and media had no critical words about the slaughter of leftist revolutionaries in Iran. If anything, they were quietly pleased. However, they remained hostile toward the Islamic regime. Why so? Regimes that kill revolutionaries and egalitarian reformists do not usually incite displeasure from the White House. 

If anything, the CIA and the Pentagon and the other imperial operatives who make the world safe for the Fortune 500 look most approvingly upon those who torture and murder Marxists and other leftists. Indeed, such counterrevolutionaries swiftly become the recipients of generous amounts of U.S. aid.

Why then did U.S. leaders denounce and threaten Iran and continue to do so to this day? The answer is: Iran’s Islamic Republic has other features that did not sit well with the western imperialists. Iran was-—and still is---a "dangerously" independent nation, unwilling to become a satellite to the U.S. global empire, unlike more compliant countries. 

 Like Iraq under Saddam Hussein, Iran, with boundless audacity, gave every impression of wanting to use its land, labor, markets, and capital as it saw fit. Like Iraq---and Libya and Syria---Iran was committing the sin of economic nationalism. And like Iraq, Iran remained unwilling to establish cozy relations with Israel.

But this isn’t what we ordinary Americans are told. When talking to us, a different tact is taken by U.S. opinion-makers and policymakers. To strike enough fear into the public, our leaders tell us that, like Iraq, Iran "might" develop weapons of mass destruction. And like Iraq, Iran is lead by people who hate America and want to destroy us and Israel. And like Iraq, Iran "might" develop into a regional power leading other nations in the Middle East down the "Hate America" path. So our leaders conclude for us: it might be necessary to destroy Iran in an all-out aerial war.

It was President George W. Bush who in January 2002 cited Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as an "axis of evil." Iran exports terrorism and "pursues" weapons of mass destruction. Sooner or later this axis would have to be dealt with in the severest way, Bush insisted.

These official threats and jeremiads are intended to leave us with the impression that Iran is not ruled by "good Muslims." The "good Muslims"---as defined by the White House and the State Department---are the reactionary extremists and feudal tyrants who ride high in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirate, Bahrain, and other countries that provide the United States with military bases, buy large shipments of U.S. arms, vote as Washington wants in the United Nations, enter free trade agreements with the Western capitalist nations, and propagate a wide-open deregulated free-market economy.

The "good Muslims" invite the IMF and the western corporations to come in and help themselves to the country’s land, labor, markets, industry, natural resources and anything else the international plutocracy might desire.

Unlike the "good Muslims," the "bad Muslims" of Iran take an anti-imperialist stance. They try to get out from under the clutches of the U.S. global imperium. For this, Iran may yet pay a heavy price. 

Think of what has been happening to Iraq, Libya, and now Syria. For its unwillingness to throw itself open to Western corporate pillage, Iran is already being subjected to heavy sanctions imposed by the United States and its allies. Sanctions hurt the ordinary population most of all. Unemployment and poverty increase. The government is unable to maintain human services. The public infrastructure begins to deteriorate and evaporate: privatization by attrition.

Iran has pursued an enriched uranium program, same as any nation has the right to do. The enrichment has been low-level for peaceful use, not the kind necessary for nuclear bombs. Iranian leaders, both secular and theocratic have been explicit about the useless horrors of nuclear weaponry and nuclear war.

Appearing on the Charlie Rose show when he was visiting the USA, Iranian president Ahmadinejad pointed out that nuclear weapons have never saved anyone. The Soviet Union had nuclear weapons; was it saved? he asked. India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons; have they found peace and security? Israel has nuclear weapons: has it found peace and security? And the United States itself has nuclear weapons and nuclear fleets patrolling the world and it seems obsessively preoccupied with being targeted by real or imagined enemies. 

Ahmadinejad, the wicked one, sounded so much more rational and humane than Hillary Clinton snarling her tough-guy threats at this or that noncompliant nation.

(Parenthetically, we should note that the Iranians possibly might try to develop a nuclear strike force---not to engage in a nuclear war that would destroy Iran but to develop a deterrent against aerial destruction from the west. The Iranians, like the North Koreans, know that the western nuclear powers have never attacked any country that is armed with nuclear weapons.)

I once heard some Russian commentators say that Iran is twice as large as Iraq, both in geography and in population; it would take hundreds of thousands of NATO troops and great cost in casualties and enormous sums of money to invade and try to subdue such a large country, an impossible task and certain disaster for the United States.

But the plan is not to invade, just to destroy the country and its infrastructure through aerial warfare. The U.S. Air Force eagerly announced that it has 10,000 targets in Iran pinpointed for attack and destruction. Yugoslavia is cited as an example of a nation that was destroyed by unanswerable aerial attacks, without the loss of a single U.S. soldier. 

I saw the destruction in Serbia shortly after the NATO bombings stopped: bridges, utilities, rail depots, factories, schools, television and radio stations, government-built hotels, hospitals, and housing projects---a destruction carried out with utter impunity, all this against a social democracy that refused to submit to a free-market capitalist takeover.

The message is clear. It has already been delivered to Yugoslavia, Libya, Syria, and many other countries around the world: overthrow your reform-minded, independent, communitarian government; become a satellite to the global corporate free-market system, or we will pound you to death and reduce you to a severe level of privatization and poverty.

Not all the U.S. military is of one mind regarding war with Iran. While the Air Force can hardly contain itself, the Army and Navy seem lukewarm. Former Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, actually denounced the idea of waging destruction upon "80 million Iranians, all different individuals."

The future does not look good for Iran. That country is slated for an attack of serious dimensions, supposedly in the name of democracy, "humanitarian war," the struggle against terrorism, and the need to protect America and Israel from some future nuclear threat.

Sometimes it seems as if U.S. ruling interests perpetrate crimes and deceptions of all sorts with a frequency greater than we can document and expose. So if I don’t write or speak about one or another issue, keep in mind, it may be because I am occupied with other things, or I simply have neither the energy nor the resources. Sometimes too, I think, it is because I get too heavy of heart.


Michael Parenti is an internationally known award-winning author and lecturer. He is one of the USA’s leading progressive political analysts. His highly informative and entertaining books and talks have reached a wide range of audiences in North America and abroad. http://www.michaelparenti.org/



Monday, August 06, 2012

In Hiroshima's Shadow

By Noam Chomsky


August 6, the anniversary of Hiroshima, should be a day of somber reflection, not only on the terrible events of that day in 1945, but also on what they revealed: that humans, in their dedicated quest to extend their capacities for destruction, had finally found a way to approach the ultimate limit. . .



























. . .There is much to think about on August 6. . . 

The war against Iran is already well underway, including assassination of scientists and economic pressures that have reached the level of, "undeclared war," in the judgment of the Iran specialist Gary Sick.

Great pride is taken in the sophisticated cyberwar directed against Iran. The Pentagon regards cyberwar as, "an act of war," that authorizes the target, "to respond using traditional military force," The Wall Street Journal reports. With the usual exception: not when the U.S. or an ally is the perpetrator. . . 

The current escalation of the, "undeclared war," against Iran increases the threat of accidental large-scale war. Some of the dangers were illustrated last month when a U.S. naval vessel, part of the huge deployment in the Gulf, fired on a small fishing boat, killing one Indian crew member and wounding at least three others. It would not take much to set off a major war.

One sensible way to avoid such dread consequences is to pursue, "the goal of establishing in the Middle East a zone free from weapons of mass destruction and all missiles for their delivery and the objective of a global ban on chemical weapons," the wording of Security Council resolution 687 of April 1991, which the U.S. and U.K. invoked in their effort to provide a thin legal cover for their invasion of Iraq 12 years later.

The goal has been an Arab-Iranian objective since 1974, regularly re-endorsed, and by now it has near-unanimous global support, at least formally. An international conference to consider ways to implement such a treaty may take place in December.

Progress is unlikely unless there is mass public support in the West. Failure to grasp the opportunity will, once again, lengthen the grim shadow that has darkened the world since that fateful Aug. 6.

Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate,
 © 2011 Noam Chomsky

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We Americans are taught it in school. The propaganda put out by Voice of America repeats the idea ad nauseum around the globe. Politicians refer to it in every campaign speech with the same fervor that they claim to be running for office in response to God’s call: America is a model of democracy for the whole world. 

But what kind of democracy is it really that we have here?

Forget that only half of eligible voters typically vote in quadrennial presidential elections... Forget that the government is increasingly trampling on the Constitution and its Bill of Rights, with a burgeoning surveillance program and a growing militarization of the police.

The US government doesn’t even do what the majority of the citizens want. In fact, these days it flat out ignores what we the people want.

Consider the polls, and what they show public sentiment to be on key issues, and then look at what the government, composed of supposedly elected representatives and an elected president, actually does: . . . 

Certainly Americans have the right and the ability to vote for candidates, but that alone appears not to produce what President Abraham Lincoln, back in 1865, called a government “of the people, by the people and for the people.”




Dave Lindorff is an award-winning American investigative journalist. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 1972 with a BA in Chinese language. He then received an MS in Journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1975. He served for five years as a correspondent for Hong Kong and China. He is a founder of the online newspaper www.ThisCantBeHappening.net

This article was originally published at PressTV

*

Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy.

By Glenn Greenwald

Why don't American oligarchs fear the consequences of their corruption, and how can that be changed?

August 05, 2012 "Salon" -- 

  
The Nation‘s Editor-at-Large and MSNBC’s weekend host, Chris Hayes, recently published a book documenting the fundamental failure of America’s elite institutions and exploring the causes and solutions: Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy

What makes this book genuinely outstanding, and so rare, is that it is actually difficult to decide whether one agrees with many of its arguments. That’s because, as is typical of Hayes, he is more interested in grappling with complex questions in novel, non-obvious ways than he is in eliciting pat answers and easy agreement.
 
The highest compliment one can give a writer is not to say that one wholeheartedly agrees with his observations, but that he provoked — really, forced — difficult thinking about consequential matters and internal questioning of one’s own assumptions, often without quick or clear resolution. 

That achievement, at its core, is what defines Twilight of the Elites, and it’s what makes it so genuinely worth your time to read and think about. 

Provoking that type of questioning in people is a much more difficult task, and a much more valuable one, than inducing clear-cut, unequivocal agreement (which is often, though not always, accomplished by simply validating someone’s already held convictions). 

For that reason, Hayes’ book stays with you long after you are done reading it. . . .


Saturday, August 04, 2012

Some recent words of wisdom from an American man who knows exactly how the war machine operates.

Doug Valentine is a former insider of the US military and an expert on the CIA's notorious "Operation Phoenix" - a torture and assassination programme in south Viet Nam in the 60s which claimed the lives of tens of thousands of innocent Vietnamese. 

He now writes and speaks out against the madness and criminality of war. . . 


"War propaganda, namely media lies, constitutes the most powerful instrument of warfare. Without media disinformation, the US-NATO led war agenda would collapse like a deck of cards. The legitimacy of  the war criminals in high office would be broken. 

It is therefore essential to disarm not only the mainstream media but also a segment of the self proclaimed "progressive" alternative media, which has provided legitimacy to NATO's "Responsibility to protect" (R2P)  mandate, largely with a view to dismantling the antiwar movement.   

The road to Tehran goes through Damascus. A US-NATO sponsored war on Iran would involve, as a first step, the destabilization of Syria as a nation state. Military planning pertaining to Syria is an integral part of the war on Iran agenda.  

A war on Syria could evolve towards a US-NATO military campaign directed against Iran, in which Turkey and Israel would be directly involved. 

It is crucial to spread the word and break the channels of media disinformation. 

A critical and unbiased understanding of what is happening in Syria is of crucial importance in reversing the tide of military escalation towards a broader regional war.

Spread the word. Our objective is ultimately to dismantle the US-NATO-Israeli military arsenal and restore World Peace."
 - Doug Valentine


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"This is the New York Times at work, sponsoring massacres and the beheading of civilians, and then saying that the Syrian regime did it, when, in fact, CIA-sponsored terrorists are doing it."  - Doug Valentine

German Intelligence: "al-Qaeda" All Over Syria

By John Rosenthal

July 24, 2012 "
Asia Times" -- German intelligence estimates that "around 90" terror attacks that "can be attributed to organizations that are close to al-Qaeda or jihadist groups" were carried out in Syria between the end of December and the beginning of July, as reported by the German daily Die Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ). This was revealed by the German government in a response to a parliamentary question. . . 




Learn more about the work and writings of Doug Valentine: