Thursday, July 25, 2013

Camouflaging the Vietnam War:
How Textbooks Continue to Keep the Pentagon Papers a Secret

Bill Bigelow    
Zinn Education Project
June 18, 2013

In the Academy Award-winning documentary Hearts and Minds, Daniel Ellsberg, who secretly copied and then released the Pentagon Papers, offers a catalog of presidential lying about the U.S. role in Vietnam: Truman lied. Eisenhower lied. Kennedy lied. Johnson “lied and lied and lied.” Nixon lied.

Ellsberg concludes: “The American public was lied to month by month by each of these five administrations. As I say, it’s a tribute to the American public that their leaders perceived that they had to be lied to; it’s no tribute to us that it was so easy to fool the public.”

The Pentagon Papers that Ellsberg exposed were not military secrets. They were historical secrets— a history of U.S. intervention and deceit that Ellsberg believed, if widely known, would undermine the U.S. pretexts in defense of the war’s prosecution. 

Like this one that President Kennedy offered in 1961: “For the last decade we have been helping the South Vietnamese to maintain their independence.” No. This was a lie. The U.S. government’s Pentagon Papers history of the war revealed how the United States had sided with the French in retaking its colony after World War II, ultimately paying for some 80 percent of the French reconquest. By the U.S. government’s own account, from Truman on, Vietnamese self-determination was never an aim of U.S. foreign policy.

Like today’s whistle-blowers Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden, Daniel Ellsberg knew the consequences for his act of defiance. Ultimately, he was indicted on 11 counts of theft and violation of the Espionage Act. If convicted on all counts, the penalty added up to 130 years in prison. This story is chronicled dramatically in the film The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, and in Ellsberg’s own gripping autobiography, Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers.

In June of 1971, Ellsberg surrendered to federal authorities at Post Office Square in Boston. Forty-two years later, few of the historical secrets that Ellsberg revealed— especially those that focus on the immediate post-World War II origins of U.S. involvement in Vietnam— appear in the school curriculum.

Corporate textbook writers seem to work from the same list of must-include events and individuals. Thus, all the new U.S. history textbooks on my shelf mention the Pentagon Papers. But none grapples with the actual import of the Pentagon Papers. None quotes Ellsberg or the historical documents themselves, and none captures Ellsberg’s central conclusion about the United States in Vietnam: “It wasn’t that we were on the wrong side; we were the wrong side.”

Textbooks resist telling students that the U.S. government consistently lied about the war, preferring more genteel language. Prentice Hall’s America: History of Our Nation includes only one line describing the content of the Pentagon Papers: “They traced the steps by which the United States had committed itself to the Vietnam War and showed that government officials had concealed actions and often misled Americans about their motives.” The textbook offers no examples.

Teaching students a deeper, more complete history of the American War— as it is known in Vietnam— is not just a matter of accuracy, it’s about life and death. 

On the third anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States, spoke bluntly about what it means when we fail to confront the facts of our past wars: “If we don’t know history, then we are ready meat for carnivorous politicians and the intellectuals and journalists who supply the carving knives.”

The “we” in Zinn’s quote refers especially to the young people who will be convinced or tricked or manipulated— or lied— into fighting those wars, even if it is only “fighting” by guiding remote assassination drones from bases in a Nevada desert.

For almost 30 years, I taught high school U.S. history. I began my Vietnam unit with a little-remembered event that happened on Sept. 2, 1945. 

I showed students a video clip from the first episode of PBS’s Vietnam: A Television History, in which Dr. Tran Duy Hung, a medical doctor and a leader of the resistance to French colonialism, recounts the massive end-of-war celebration with more than 400,000 people jammed into Hanoi’s Ba Dinh Square. Japan had surrendered. The seemingly endless foreign occupation of Vietnam— Chinese, then French, then Japanese— was over.

Dr. Hung remembers: “I can say that the most moving moment was when President Ho Chi Minh climbed the steps, and the national anthem was sung. It was the first time that the national anthem of Vietnam was sung in an official ceremony. Uncle Ho then read the Declaration of Independence, which was a short document. As he was reading, Uncle Ho stopped and asked, ‘Compatriots, can you hear me?’ This simple question went into the hearts of everyone there. After a moment of silence, they all shouted, ‘Yes, we hear you!’ And I can say that we did not just shout with our mouths, but with all our hearts.” Dr. Hung recalls that, moments later, a small plane began circling and then swooped down over the crowd. When people recognized the U.S. stars and stripes on the plane, they cheered, imagining that its presence signaled an endorsement for Vietnamese independence. “It added to the atmosphere of jubilation at the meeting,” said Dr. Hung. [The plane was conducting military intelligence for the coming war. --A.B.]

I want my students to recognize the hugeness of this historical could-have-been. One of the “secrets” Ellsberg risked his freedom to expose was that the United States had a stark choice in the fall of 1945: support the independence of a unified Vietnam, led by Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Minh, which had spearheaded the anti-fascist resistance during World War II; or support the French as they sought to reimpose colonial rule.

Think about all the suffering that might have been avoided had the U.S. government taken advantage of this opportunity.  

Howard Zinn quotes from the Pentagon Papers in A People’s History of the United States:
   
“Ho [Chi Minh] had built the Viet Minh into the only Vietnam-wide political organization capable of effective resistance to either the Japanese or the French. He was the only Vietnamese wartime leader with a national following, and he assured himself wider fealty among the Vietnamese people when in August/September 1945, he overthrew the Japanese . . . established the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, and staged receptions for incoming allied occupation forces. . . . For a few weeks in September 1945, Vietnam was— for the first and only time in its modern history - free of foreign domination, and united from north to south under Ho Chi Minh.…”

In class, I brought this historical choice point to life with my students through a role play, in which some students portrayed members of the Viet Minh and others represented French business/government leaders arguing before “President Truman” about the future of Vietnam. (A fuller description and materials for the activity can be found at the Zinn Education Project website.) The role play depicted a make-believe gathering, of course, because the United States never included any Vietnamese in its deliberations on the future of Vietnam. Nonetheless, the lesson offers students a vivid picture of what was at stake at this key juncture.

In this and other activities, I want my students to see that history is not just a jumble of dead facts lying on a page. History is the product of human choice— albeit in conditions that we may not choose.  

Tragically, the United States consistently chose to side with elites in Vietnam, first French, then Vietnamese, as our government sought to suppress self-determination— perhaps most egregiously in 1954, when the United States conspired to stonewall promised elections and to prop up the dictator Ngo Dinh Diem.

Forty-two years ago this month, Daniel Ellsberg allowed himself to be taken into custody, with no clear outcome in sight. A reporter asked Ellsberg whether he was concerned about the possibility of going to prison. 

Ellsberg replied: “Wouldn’t you go to prison to help end this war?”

No one expects that kind of integrity from textbook corporations. But educators needn’t confine ourselves to the version of history peddled by giant outfits like Pearson and Houghton-Mifflin-Harcourt. 

Right now, every high school student is learning either to accept or to question the premises that lead our country to wage war around the world. 

As Howard Zinn suggested, if students don’t know their history, then they are “ready meat” for those who will supply the carving knives of war. Fortunately, more and more teachers around the country recognize the importance of teaching outside the textbook, of joining heroes like Dan Ellsberg to ask questions, to challenge official stories.



Bill Bigelow taught high school social studies in Portland, Ore. for almost 30 years. He is the curriculum editor of Rethinking Schools and the co-director of the Zinn Education Project. This project offers free materials to teach people’s history and an “If We Knew Our History” article series. Bigelow is author or co-editor of numerous books, including A People’s History for the Classroom and The Line Between Us: Teaching About the Border and Mexican Immigration.



Zinn Education Project – 
Teaching A People’s History


Howard Zinn



Wednesday, July 24, 2013

During the 'Vietnam War', chemicals containing deadly Dioxin, such as Agent Orange, affected millions of Vietnamese, and many US troops, and US-allied troops, including from Australia. Dangerous dioxins continue to be widely used in herbicides today, according to this 'Four Corners' investigation on Australian Television.

 

Four Corners investigation finds dangerous dioxins in widely used herbicide 24D


An urgent review is underway after a Four Corners investigation found elevated levels of dangerous dioxins in a generic version of 24D, one of Australia's most widely used herbicides.
Dioxins are one of the most deadly chemical compounds in the world, but Australian authorities do not routinely test for them.
One scientist said the product tested by Four Corners, which was imported from China, had one of the highest dioxin readings for 24D in the last 10 to 20 years, and could pose potential health risks.
The regulator – the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) – has urgently referred the Four Corners test results to the Office of Chemical Safety for assessment.
"The APVMA is always concerned about allegations of undeclared impurities found in registered products," APVMA chief executive Kareena Arthy said.
However, a spokesperson for the company which owns the product tested by Four Corners said the APVMA did not have any guidelines for dioxins in 24D.

Common product used to combat weeds

To help combat Australia's $4 billion weed problem, more than $100 million worth of 24D products are sold each year in Australia.
Many now have their active ingredient imported from countries like China, India and Argentina.
It was assumed that because of improved manufacturing processes that there were no longer any dangerous dioxins in 24D.
Matthew Cossey, the spokesperson for Croplife Australia, a peak chemical body which represents many major chemical companies, says a regulatory system should have an independent testing regime for substances like dioxins.
Mr Cossey says he is concerned about reports of cheaper generic substandard 24D products coming into Australia.
"I'd be concerned that in fact the regulator is not maybe paying enough attention to the new players in the industry to imports and ensuring that they're coming from reliable, accredited, recognised suppliers," he said.

Researcher says results should be a wake-up call

Lee Bell, a researcher with the National Toxic Network, says it is a wake-up call for the regulator.
"We've been told many, many times over the years that industry has cleaned up its act, that they have new processing equipment, new techniques, new technology that will eliminate dioxin from their herbicides and therefore from our environment," he said.
He said the results show that the industry has not come clean about dioxins in 24D and the Government should act immediately to protect human health.
Watch Four Corners (July 22) for more on the legacy of herbicides 245T and 24D, which reportedly killed many Australians who sprayed the dioxin-contaminated chemicals in the 1970s and 1980s.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Why the U.S. Executive Branch Is a Clear and Present Danger to Our Democracy

By Fred Branfman


Congress, judiciary and the mass media no longer provide constitutionally mandated checks and balances; they are largely extensions of Executive power.

Some brief extracts here, but the whole article is worth reading.

Edward Snowden's revelations have illuminated the most critical political issue facing America today: how an authoritarian U.S. Executive Branch which has focused on war abroad for the last 50 years now devotes increasing resources to surveillance, information management, and population control at home, posing a far greater threat to Americans' liberties than any conceivable foreign foe...

Although those who suggest the U.S. Executive Branch is subverting democracy are often maligned as radicals, alarmists, unpatriotic, or worse, it was one of America's most respected generals and popular presidents who first brought this issue to public attention 52 years ago.

On January 17, 1961, Dwight David Eisenhower famously warned that the "conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence by the military industrial complex. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes."

The man who embodied patriotism itself warned us that our liberties were threatened at home by the "military-industrial complex" which we call here the U.S. Executive Branch, meaning the powerful Executive agencies and private corporations which lobby for and benefit from Executive funding, and have today morphed into one entity of mutual self-interest operating behind a wall of secrecy...

Given their decades-long record of misleading the American public about life-and-death issues, from the Tonkin Gulf to Iraq's fictional weapons of mass destruction, it is naive to give Executive officials the benefit of the doubt when they respond to charges of abuses. 

It is only logical to assume they are lying unless they provide evidence to the contrary. This is why they need to be sworn in and indicted for perjury when they lie to Congress.

The Pentagon Papers is the gold standard for understanding how Executive officials think since they have rarely written down their inner thoughts since. The Pentagon Papers reveal that Executive Branch leaders were not only indifferent to Vietnamese life, they were even willing to betray American youth for their own political ends. 

While the Johnson administration publicly claimed it was sending U.S. troops to help the people of Vietnam, Deputy Defense Secretary John McNaughton described U.S. Executive Branch objectives as "70% to avoid a humiliating U.S. defeat. 20% to keep SVN (South Vietnam) from Chinese hands. 10% to permit the people of SVN to enjoy a better, freer way of life."

And while Robert McNamara was publicly claiming the U.S. never killed civilians, he privately wrote that "the picture of the world's greatest superpower killing or seriously injuring 1000 noncombatants a week, while trying to pound a tiny backward nation into submission (might) produce a costly distortion in the American national consciousness and in the world image of the United States."

McNamara did not express concern about his mass murder. He focused only on keeping it secret from the world and the American citizens he claimed to represent.

Daniel Ellsberg, in Secrets, tells of accompanying McNamara on a plane trip from Saigon to Washington, during which McNamara privately stated "we've put more than a hundred thousand more troops into the country over the last year and there's been no improvement. Things aren't any better at all. That means the underlying situation is reallyworse!" 

But when McNamara deplaned he told a crowd of reporters:

"Gentlemen, I've just come back from Vietnam, and I'm glad to be able to tell you that we're showing great progress in every dimension of our effort. I'm very encouraged by everything I've seen and heard on my trip." (2)

Such countless lies betrayed a generation of American youth. Many volunteered to fight in Vietnam because they idealistically believed their leaders' public statements that the U.S. goal was to help the Vietnamese people. Others were forced to fight and die as their leaders concealed from them that they knew their strategy wasn't working. 

And U.S. Executive Branch leaders' lawless mass murder of the innocent fatally divided their nation at home, creating deep fissures which continue until today. Had Americans simply been told the truth by their leaders, had U.S. leaders said in public what they wrote in private, the war might well have ended years earlier, and thousands of American lives and tens of billions of dollars would have been saved.

As the Executive Branch now extends its operations in the U.S., its bureaucratic interests are similarly opposed to those of the American people. 

Huge sums given to the Pentagon, CIA and NSA diverts money from the public's top economic needs: investment in infrastructure, education and a high tech manufacturing base. And so the Executive must wage constant disinformation campaigns offering relief from exaggerated fear, false accomplishments and, above all, operations to defeat criticism...

...the U.S. military spends $4.7 billion a year to employ 27,000 "information operation specialists"—the equivalent of the army's largest division—as well as private P.R. firms. (5) Yes, a whole division of troops is deployed not to fight the "enemy," but to manipulate the American public.
 
The other Executive agencies—the CIA, NSA, FBI, Departments of Homeland Security, State and Defense—spend billions more to convince Americans to fund them. 

Every day Executive Agencies send out countless messages on an hourly basis, through briefings of journalists, press releases, press conferences, congressional testimony, appearances on radio and TV, etc., designed to build public support for its activities...

It is clear that anyone who genuinely cares about America's core values, not to mention its people, has no choice but to oppose the threat to democracy posed by the U.S. Executive Branch. 

The issue is not simply opposing any particular Executive injustice. It is recognizing that the Executive Branch itself is an antidemocratic, authoritarian institution which does not represent either the interests or values of the American people...


Fred Branfman's writing has been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Harper’s, and many other publications. He is the author of Voices From the Plain of Jars, and can be reached at fredbranfman@aol.com.


Sunday, July 14, 2013

From Agent Orange Justice (Australia). . .great news for the Agent Orange cause.
Vietnam dioxin story wins best documentary at New York film fest 



A film about the daily lives of Vietnamese Agent Orange victims in Ho Chi Minh City won the top prize for documentaries at the New York City International Film Festival Friday.
  
“The Tale of An Phuc House” by Bulgarian director Ivan Tankushev beat out four other entries to win Best Feature Documentary at the fourth annual edition of the film fest.Tankushev, known for his work on animation shows such as “Arthur” and “Family Guy,” also wrote the script. The documentary, which was produced by Canadia's Babel Entertainment and Vietnam's Créa TV, was filmed in Vietnam between late 2011 and March of this year.


The 91-minute film depicts the life of Mr. Quang and the 20 young adults under his care at An Phuc House, which he founded in 2006 to help provide a home and create jobs for victims of the chemical warfare used by the US during the Vietnam War. 



An Phuc means “peace and happiness” in Vietnamese.

Despite their physical limitations, the young victims’ lives are full of love, dignity and pride, according to a post by the festival website. The 54-year-old director, who is married to a Vietnamese woman, said he would donate all proceeds from the film to An Phuc and orphanages in Ho Chi Minh City.

Other contenders included two US films – “Girl Rising” about the strength of the human spirit and the power of education, “Jihad in America: the Grand Deception” about terrorism; the UK film “The Gun, the Cake and the Butterfly,” about the trials and tribulations of love; and the German-Israeli film “My German Children,” a multi-generational look at the makings of identity.

“The Tale of An Phuc House” premiered on June 17 during the festival and resulted in promises from many attendees to financially support its protagonists.

Chuck Palazzo, a former US veteran and now a member of the Agent Orange Action Group dedicated to seeking medical, financial, ecological and legal assistance for Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange, said in a post on the film’s blog that the award was “a huge win for the Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange.

“This is such an important achievement for all of us and will raise awareness of the ongoing plight of the victims to a new level,” Palazzo said.

The US Army sprayed nearly 80 million liters of herbicides and defoliants containing 366 kilograms of the highly toxic chemical dioxin over 30,000 square miles of southern Vietnam between 1961 and 1971.

Up to 4-8 million Vietnamese people were exposed to dioxin, according to the Vietnam Red Cross. Many of the victims have died, but their descendants are still being born with deformities and diseases.

The Vietnam Red Cross estimates that up to one million Vietnamese people are disabled or have health problems due to Agent Orange.

Experts have also identified at least 28 dioxin-contaminated hotspots within the country that need clearance. 


http://www.thanhniennews.com/index/pages/20130623-vietnam-ao-story-wins-best-documentary-at-new-york-film-fest.aspx



Agent Orange
Justice  
PO Box 290 ENMORE NSW 2042
  
We hope very much to screen this in Australia before long and if you are able to assist us in any way on this, do let us know.


Friday, July 12, 2013

US Activist and Iraq War Veteran Vincent Emanuele Speaks Out
  This VIDEO
"...should be required viewing for all..." 


In this stimulating address, US Iraq war veteran Vince Emanuele speaks out against the rape of Mother Earth, Climate Change, the corruption of Western culture and democracy, the extreme concentration of wealth in the hands of the few, the destructive US war machine, and blows the whistle on the reality of life in the United States today, and the pervasive culture of warfare.


Vince Emanuele is a former US Marine of two tours to Iraq who refused to go again by laying down his weapon. He is now organiser for the Michigan chapter of Veterans for Peace and serves on the national board of directors of Iraq Veterans Against War. He hosts the Veterans Unplugged program on Radio WMS, Michigan.

Vincent is on a speaking tour of Australia in July 2013.

"Vincent Emanuele is a dynamic speaker who is speaking his heart
and telling the truth when it becomes more and more dangerous in
our "Stazi" surveillance State. It's young men like him that give me hope.
Thank you Vincent."
- Bill


This talk was held after a screening of the documentary 'On the Bridge' at Victorian Trades Hall. Sponsored by Iraq Veterans against the War, Stand Fast, WikiLeaks Australian Citizens Alliance & Stop the War Coalition. 


Please share with those you feel need some enlightenment.




"On The Bridge"   
A full-length documentary by Olivier Morel:

When these U.S. soldiers left home, their patriotism was firm, their convictions intense.  As they return from Iraq, nothing is clear. They are in-between, they are on the bridge. Their bodies and souls have been wounded or broken. How can they re-learn what it means to be human and stay in the world of the living? 
Follow their stories >
 

More information here:









Please see the following exciting announcement from the Our Lives Our Rights campaign, a project led by Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. The ANSWER Coalition supports this important work and we encourage everyone to make a generous donation to fund the work of these courageous veterans and service members.
 
FORT HOOD SOLDIER SUCCESSFULLY
REFUSES DEPLOYMENT TO
AFGHANISTAN AFTER MASS
OUTREACH ON BASE
PV2 Chris Munoz sets example for U.S. service members







On April 1st, the Our Lives Our Rights campaign deployed veterans and active-duty soldiers to Fort Hood, TX, ahead of an impending deployment to Afghanistan with the message “You don’t have to go!”

OLOR organizers distributed thousands of leaflets on and off base, conducted high-profile visibility actions, and was covered in the local press.

As a result of this bold outreach campaign, one soldier at Fort Hood who is set to deploy to Afghanistan who was conflicted about his participation in the war saw that there was support and contacted Our Lives Our Rights.
Help us conduct many more such outreach deployments by clicking here.

Private (E-2) Christopher Munoz is 22 years old and married with a 3-year-old daughter. PV2 Munoz had long believed he was a conscientious objector after joining the military, and was dealing with intense stress and moral conflict about his pending deployment but was not aware that like-minded soldiers and a support network existed. 

Upon contacting the campaign, OLOR organizers worked with him for several weeks and found him legal counsel before he submitted his CO packet on June 25.


Despite filing as a Conscientious Objector, PV2 Munoz was still being threatened with deployment by his command.  

When ordered to report for duty with all of his gear for deployment, PV2 Munoz reported as ordered, but he bravely refused to bring his gear, asserting that any participation conflicted with his conscience. As a result, his chain of command was forced to back down and placed him on rear detachment. He is now no longer deploying to Afghanistan.

While PV2 Munoz still has a battle ahead to defend his right to be a Conscientious Objector, he has proven that soldiers can stand up, speak out publicly, and demand that they be exempt from being deployed—even within weeks of deployment. Like many other war resistors, PV2 Munoz is setting a heroic example to all U.S. service members.

“Christopher Munoz deserves all our support,” said Gerry Condon, a Vietnam war resister who serves on the Board of Directors of Veterans For Peace, a co-sponsor of the Our Lives Our Rights Campaign.  “We need to keep reaching out to tell soldiers the truth: they don’t have to deploy to Afghanistan or other illegal wars.  They have alternatives, and we are there to back them up.”

Please click here to read more about PV2 Munoz and his case.
Please click here to sign the petition in support of PV2 Munoz's stand.

The Our Lives Our Rights campaign was founded with the understanding that the Afghanistan war is nothing but a war for the expansion of big business and military interests in a resource-rich region, causing a great humanitarian catastrophe for the Afghan people, as well as U.S. service members and their families.

“The generals and politicians know their military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan are complete failures” said Mike Prysner, an Iraq war veteran with March Forward!, a group of young veterans who founded the Our Lives Our Rights campaign.  “But they continue to lie and send us on repeated bloody deployments just so they can avoid the embarrassment of a military defeat on their watch. “

OLOR affirms that the Afghanistan war is a war for the rich that is throwing away the lives and limbs of countless people, and that all U.S. service members have the right to use all means to refuse to participate in it. We will continue to engage in mass outreach campaigns on U.S. military bases to show service members like PV2 Munoz that there are alternatives, and a community to support them.


Click here if you are U.S. service member interested in receiving information about averting deployment to Afghanistan.
Click here to show your support for the Our Lives Our Rights campaign.



A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition 
 http://www.AnswerCoalition.org/
info@AnswerCoalition.org National Office in Washington DC: 202-265-1948
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Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Bounty Hunters Search for Tony Blair After Latest Sightings of UK's Most Wanted War Criminal

There are people the world over who are not prepared to wait for history to pass judgement on Blair, and who want to see him held to account now for his monumental crimes.

By Robin Beste
Stop the War Coalition
9 July 2013


Tony Blair has long had to duck and dive from public view for fear that he would face a citizen's arrest for his war crimes. 

There is a price on his head and there have been repeated attempts to feel his collar in the hope that Britain's most wanted war criminal will be held to account for his part in the mass murder of over one million Iraqis.
Appearing in public anywhere in the world is so risky for Blair that he is never seen in the company of the general public, but restricts his socialising to fellow war criminals, such as George W Bush and Benjamin Netanyahu. 

Or despots such as Kazakhstan's dictator Nazarbayev, who pays Blair  £8.5m a year. Or oil rich states like Kuwait which is reportedly paying him £27m for "advice". Or bankers like J.P. Morgan which pay him £2.5m a year for "consultation"

But Tony Blair is becoming increasing confident about posturing and warmongering in the corporate media. And the media, having played its own disreputable part in promoting the lies which Blair used to take Britain into an illegal and unjustified war, has no reservations about giving him free reign to spout equivalent lies and distortions, this time in urging war against Syria and Iran.

Here he is on the BBC Today programme advocating intervention in Syria, and once again allowed to get away without challenge when stating: 

There’s now been more people that have died in Syria in a civil war that shows absolutely no sign of ending than in the entirety of Iraq since 2003.

Blair knows only too well that this is simply not true. And the BBC should not have allowed him to get away with such a blatant distortion. The United Nations estimates that 100,000 have been killed in Syria. This figure includes troops from Syrian forces and rebels killed fighting them and yet this total is presented in the media as if they were all civilian casualties.

Compare this to Iraq, where the most compelling evidence shows that over the past ten years many hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians have died as a result of the Bush-Blair war, with the latest calculations putting the figure above one million.

And the slaughter in Iraq continues. Violence is escalating due to the decade of instability and division that the Bush-Blair intervention caused, with more than 2000 people killed in May 2013, making it the most deadly month in the country since the height of the sectarian war in 2007.

But Blair's capacity for hypocrisy and sanctimonious self-delusion can still shock when it is as blatant as this comment recently in The Observer (a newspaper that seems particularly enthusiastic about helping Blair's attempts at political rehabilitation):

I am a strong supporter of democracy. But democratic government doesn't on its own mean effective government. Today, efficacy is the challenge. When governments don't deliver, people protest... This is a sort of free democratic spirit that operates outside the convention of democracy that elections decide the government.

No occasion here for Blair to remember how he ignored the two million who filled London's streets on 15 February 2003 protesting against his drive for war against Iraq -- the largest political demonstration in British history.

And Blair is quite open about the objectives of that war. In the BBC series on the tenth anniversary of the Iraq invasion, Blair stated baldly, "We decided we were going to remake the Middle East". 

This was in effect an admission of participating in an international war crime -- regime change interventions being illegal -- but the BBC let it pass without comment. As Matt Carr wrote, "The BBC let Blair & Co say whatever they wanted without challenging them and never asked a single penetrating question, never offered any real alternatives to what they were saying."

These days, it is the prospect for war against Syria and Iran that really has Blair's mouth watering. “Personally," he says, "I think we should at least consider and consider actively a no-fly zone in Syria.” As for Iran, he adds, "We can't afford a nuclear-armed Iran."

The fact that there is no evidence that Iran has any intention of developing nuclear weapons is of no significance to Blair. Nor does his promotion of more war consider that western military intervention could be even more catastrophic in its regional implications than the Bush-Blair Iraq war. 

And of course, no mention by Blair, under his quite ludicrous title of Middle East peace envoy, that there is one country in the Middle East that already has nuclear weapons and which -- unlike Iran -- refuses to sign the international nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Unsurprisingly, Israel is -- like Blair -- chomping at the bit to go to war with Iran.

However much the Observer, the BBC and the rest of the corporate media continues to indulge Blair, he will never escape the stain of his Iraq war crimes. In the words of comedian Mark Steele:

Everywhere Blair goes, the chaos of the war he created follows him. During his latest interview for the BBC, he answered a question about Iraq by saying angrily: “Look, we’ve been through this before.” And he’ll have to go through it again, every day forever.
There are people the world over who are not prepared to wait for history to pass judgement on Blair, and who want to see him held to account now for his monumental crimes, which left one million dead, created over four million refugees and devastated the whole of Iraq. 

If you get close enough to Tony Blair to attempt a peaceful citizen's arrest, you will qualify for the reward which has already been paid a number of times. For details, see http://www.arrestblair.org/

Contact Stop the War    Address: 1B Waterlow Road, London N19 5NJ United Kingdom     E-Mail: office@stopwar.org.uk    Telephone: 020 7561 4830


Saturday, July 06, 2013

News from ANSWER:








June 28 - July 17, 2013


United Statement and Call for Action to Oppose
U.S./NATO AND ISRAELI WAR ON SYRIA

No more wars! U.S. out of the Middle East!

National Days of Action, June 28 - July 17, 2013



The White House’s June 13th announcement that it would begin directly supplying arms to the opposition in Syria is a dramatic escalation of the U.S./NATO war against that country. Thousands of U.S. troops and intelligence personnel are training opposition forces and coordinating operations in Turkey and Jordan. Israel, the recipient of more than $3 billion annually in U.S. military aid, has carried out heavy bombing raids against Syria. The Pentagon has developed plans for a “no-fly” zone over Syria, threatening a new U.S. air war.

The pretext for this escalation is the assertion, presented without any actual evidence, that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons in the conflict that has been raging for more than two years. Like their predecessors, President Obama and other top U.S. officials pretend to be concerned about “democracy” and “human rights” in Syria, but their closest allies in the campaign against Syria are police-state, absolute monarchies like Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Just as the false claim of “weapons of mass destruction” was used as justification for the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003, the allegations that chemical weapons were used by the Syrian military is meant to mask the real motives of Washington and its allies. Their aim is to carry out “regime change,” as part of the drive to create a “new Middle East.”. . .







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