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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Selling the Next War- Iran • Matt Damon on Obama • US Military Massacres • Creating Terrorism • Iraqis Say They are Worse Off After War • Bradley Manning • Ron Paul the Racist • Libertarianism is a Fraud • Climate Change • Mitt Romney and War • more

- Iran and the Terrorism game By Glenn Greenwald
    In the few venues which yesterday denounced as “Terrorism” the ongoing assassinations of Iranian scientists, there was intense backlash against the invocation of that term. That always happens whenever “Terrorism” is applied to acts likely undertaken by Israel, the U.S. or its allies — rather than its traditional use: violence by Muslims against the U.S. and its allies — because accusing Israel and/or the U.S. of Terrorism remains one of the greatest political taboos (even when the acts in question involve not only assassinations but also explosions which kill numerous victims whose identities could not have been known in advance).
- Courage in high places in short supply
    Look at the President, Barrack Obama, who rode the demand for change into the White House and then neutered his own promises while never encountering a demoralising compromise he wouldn't embrace for political purposes. And what about the Supreme Court - they will show you why we have reverted to corporations ruling the land. Will they bring back formal slavery next? It’s already returned to the economy in the form of debtor prisons.
- Matt Damon Slams Obama, Democrats: 'One Term President With Some Balls Would Have Been Better'
    "I've talked to a lot of people who worked for Obama at the grassroots level. One of them said to me, 'Never again. I will never be fooled again by a politician,'" Damon tells the magazine. "You know, a one-term president with some balls who actually got stuff done would have been, in the long run of the country, much better."Referring to the Occupy Wall Street movement, Damon continued: "If the Democrats think that they didn't have a mandate -- people are literally without any focus or leadership, just wandering out into the streets to yell right now because they are so pissed off ... Imagine if they had a leader."
- Politics Over Principle
    The trauma of Sept. 11, 2001, gave rise to a dangerous myth that, to be safe, America had to give up basic rights and restructure its legal system. The United States was now in a perpetual state of war, the argument went, and the criminal approach to fighting terrorism — and the due process that goes along with it — wasn’t tough enough. President George W. Bush used this insidious formula to claim that his office had the inherent power to detain anyone he chose, for as long as he chose, without a trial; to authorize the torture of prisoners; and to spy on Americans without a warrant. President Obama came into office pledging his dedication to the rule of law and to reversing the Bush-era policies. He has fallen far short.

    Mr. Obama refused to entertain any investigation of the abuses of power under his predecessor, and he has been far too willing to adopt Mr. Bush’s extravagant claims of national secrets to prevent any courthouse accountability for those abuses. This week, he is poised to sign into law terrible new measures that will make indefinite detention and military trials a permanent part of American law.
- Video Brings Accusations of War Crimes: Marines Urinating on Corpses
    A video posted online Wednesday shows four U.S. Marines urinating on three corpses in Afghanistan.... If verified, the marines could face war crimes charges.
- Junkyard Gives Up Secret Accounts of Massacre in Iraq
    The documents — many marked secret — form part of the military’s internal investigation, and confirm much of what happened at Haditha, a Euphrates River town where Marines killed 24 Iraqis, including a 76-year-old man in a wheelchair, women and children, some just toddlers.
    Haditha became a defining moment of the war, helping cement an enduring Iraqi distrust of the United States and a resentment that not one Marine has been convicted.
- POLL: Iraqis Say They’re Worse Off After War, View Iran Unfavorably
    Iraqis, overall, feel that their country is “worse off” because of the U.S.-led war there...So, if not themselves, who do Iraqis think became better situated vis-à-vis their country?   
      When asked who benefited the most from the war in Iraq, Iraqis most frequently point to Iran (54%), the United States (48%), and Iraqi elites (40%). Additionally, more than one-quarter of Iraqis see al-Qaeda as a chief beneficiary of the war. Only 4% think the Iraqi people benefited the most from the war.
    Majorities in five of the six other countries surveyed — “Egypt (88%), Lebanon (86%), Tunisia (81%), Jordan (66%), Saudi Arabia (58%), and Iran (50%)” — agreed with the plurality of Iraqis who saw the U.S. benefiting the most, with nearly half (47%) of respondents from the United Arab Emirates sharing this view.
- The Forgotten Wages of War
    More than 10 years after the war in Afghanistan began, we have only the sketchiest notion of how many people have died as a consequence of the conflict. The United Nations office in Kabul assembles some figures from morgues and other sources, but they are incomplete. The same has been true for Iraq, although a number of independent efforts have been made there to account for the dead.
    But such numbers, which run into the hundreds of thousands, gain scant attention. American political and military leaders, like the public, show little interest in non-American casualties.
- Fallujah residents blame US for birth defects Al Jazeera news video
    The United States has fully withdrawn all combats troops from Iraq, ending its occupation after nearly nine years. The chemical effects of US bombardments, however, continue to harm people living in some areas of Iraq.
- Western oil firms remain as US exits Iraq
    While the US military has formally ended its occupation of Iraq, some of the largest western oil companies, ExxonMobil, BP and Shell, remain.
- US drone strikes in Pakistan claiming many civilian victims [and creating MORE anti-American sentiment]
    For the past three years, Noor Behram has hurried to the site of drone strikes in his native Waziristan. His purpose: to photograph and document the impact of missiles controlled by a joystick thousands of miles away, on US air force bases in Nevada and elsewhere. The drones are America's only weapon for hunting al-Qaida and the Taliban in what is supposed to be the most dangerous place in the world.
- Why US soldier Bradley Manning is my Man of the Year
    If US soldier Bradley Manning had committed war crimes rather that exposing them, he wouldn't be in so much bother.
    He might even be hailed as an American hero. Instead, he's held at a Marine Corps prison in Virginia, facing 22 charges, including aiding the enemy and violating the US Espionage Act.

    Manning is the private who leaked sheaves of classified material to WikiLeaks while working as an army intelligence analyst in Iraq.

    The information included documents revealing details of crimes committed by US soldiers in Iraq and State Department cables showing that, far from promoting peace and democracy in the world, the Bush and Obama administrations, when it suited their interests, encouraged war and supported dictatorship.
- Ron Paul’s flaws show up in the fish bowl
    Paul may be the most entertainingly embarrassing candidate to receive airtime since George Wallace in 1968. Like Wallace, Paul’s base consists of millions of disaffected whites who see Paul as their savior.Apparently, many of his supporters are not offended by the file-cabinet load of ridiculous statements published in the Ron Paul Political Report. These include saying that 95 percent of black Washingtonians were criminally inclined, referring to Martin Luther King Jr. as a pedophile and the national holiday honoring him as “The Hate Whitey Day” and calling the great Congresswoman Barbara Jordan a “half-educated victimologist.”His first inclination was to say that things had been taken out of context. In what context could any of this sound even remotely intelligent, factual and above reproach?
- This Bastardized Libertarianism Makes 'Freedom' an Instrument of Oppression
    Freedom: who could object? Yet this word is now used to justify a thousand forms of exploitation. Throughout the right-wing press and blogosphere, among thinktanks and governments, the word excuses every assault on the lives of the poor, every form of inequality and intrusion to which the 1% subject us. How did libertarianism, once a noble impulse, become synonymous with injustice?
    In the name of freedom – freedom from regulation – the banks were permitted to wreck the economy. In the name of freedom, taxes for the super-rich are cut. In the name of freedom, companies lobby to drop the minimum wage and raise working hours. In the same cause, US insurers lobby Congress to thwart effective public healthcare; the government rips up our planning laws; big business trashes the biosphere. This is the freedom of the powerful to exploit the weak, the rich to exploit the poor.

    Right-wing libertarianism recognizes few legitimate constraints on the power to act, regardless of the impact on the lives of others. In the UK it is forcefully promoted by groups like the TaxPayers' Alliance, the Adam Smith Institute, the Institute of Economic Affairs, and Policy Exchange. Their concept of freedom looks to me like nothing but a justification for greed.

    Modern libertarianism is the disguise adopted by those who wish to exploit without restraint.
- Iraq War Officially Ends, Leaving Thousands Dead, Millions Displaced, Strong Contractor Presence
    Al Jazeera notes that "the withdrawal ends a war that left tens of thousands of Iraqis and nearly 4,500 American soldiers dead [true numbers are much higher], many more wounded, and 1.75 million Iraqis displaced, after the US-led invasion unleashed brutal sectarian killing."
    Yet is this a full withdrawal? And is the war really over?

    Spencer Ackerman observes that while Panetta may have signed the official order, this is not a finale to the US presence in Iraq.
- NASA: Climate Change May Flip 40% of Earth’s Major Ecosystems This Century
    “While warnings of melting glaciers, rising sea levels and other environmental changes are illustrative and important, ultimately, it’s the ecological consequences that matter most,” says John Bergengren from Caltech, who led the study.It is not just species that have slowly evolved around specific climatic values, the same goes for ecosystems.
- Floods, heat, migration: How extreme weather will transform cities
    The report, "Climate: Observations, projections and impacts," examined how climate change will modify the weather in 24 countries around the world.While findings vary from region to region, it forecasts an overall increase in this century of coastal and river floods, extreme weather events and a global temperature rise of between 3-5C, if emissions are left unchecked.

    According to climate change experts, cities from New York in the U.S. to Dhaka in Bangladesh are likely to be heavily affected.
- Texas Tops 10 States Ravaged by Extreme Weather in 2011
    Severe weather across much of the nation has raised the question of whether global warming has already begun to influence shorter-term weather patterns, and the specter of even more extreme years to come as global temperatures continue to rise. According to climate studies, the short answer is yes: the new climate environment created by global warming is more conducive to some extreme events, particularly heat waves and heavy precipitation events: these are now more likely to occur and be more intense when they do take place.
- Mitt Romney embraces the Neocons
    Mitt Romney's newfound relations with the neocons could spell disaster for the United States, as the war drums begin.
- Tar Sands Pipeline Critics Hit Back at 'Radical' Claims
    In an open letter on Monday, Canada's Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver railed against "radical" groups for trying to stop Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline, which would deliver tar sands oil from Alberta to Kitimat, British Columbia, for shipment to Asia.... John Bennett, Sierra Club Canada Executive Director, scoffed at the charges of radicalism.

Herding Americans to War with Iran
Published on Friday, January 13, 2012 by
by Robert Parry

For many Americans the progression toward war with Iran has the feel of cattle being herded from the stockyard into the slaughterhouse, pressed steadily forward with no turning back, until some guy shoots a bolt into your head.

Any suggestion of give-and-take negotiations with Iran is mocked, while alarmist propaganda, a ratcheting up of sanctions, and provocative actions – like Wednesday’s assassination of yet another Iranian scientist – push Americans closer to what seems like an inevitable bloodletting.

Even the New York Times now acknowledges that Israel, with some help from the United States, appears to be conducting a covert war of sabotage and assassination inside Iran. “The campaign, which experts believe is being carried out mainly by Israel, apparently claimed its latest victim on Wednesday when a bomb killed a 32-year-old nuclear scientist in Tehran’s morning rush hour,” Times reporter Scott Shane wrote in Thursday’s editions.

Though U.S. officials emphatically denied any role in the murder, Israeli officials did little to discourage rumors of an Israeli hand in the bombing. Some even expressed approval. Brig. Gen. Yoav Mordechai said he didn’t know who killed the scientist but added: “I am definitely not shedding a tear.”

The latest victim, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, was the fifth scientist associated with Iran’s nuclear program to be killed in the past four years, with a sixth scientist narrowly escaping death in 2010, Fereydoon Abbasi, who is now head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization.
As might be expected, Iran has denounced the murders as acts of terrorism. They have been accompanied by cyber-attacks on Iranian centrifuges and an explosion at a missile facility late last year killing a senior general and 16 others.

While this campaign has slowed Iran’s nuclear progress, it also appears to have hardened its resolve to continue work on a nuclear capability, which Iran says is for peaceful purposes only. Iranian authorities also have responded to tightening economic sanctions from Europe and the United States with threats of their own, such as warnings about closing the oil routes through the Strait of Hormuz and thus damaging the West’s economies.

Target: USA

Another front in Israel’s cold war against Iran appears to be the propaganda war being fought inside the United States, where the still-influential neoconservatives are deploying their extensive political and media resources to shut off possible routes toward a peaceful settlement, while building support for future military strikes against Iran.

Fitting with that propaganda strategy, the Washington Post’s editorial page, which is essentially the neocons’ media flagship, published a lead editorial on Wednesday urging harsher and harsher sanctions against Iran and ridiculing anyone who favored reduced tensions.

Noting Iran’s announcement that it had opened a better-protected uranium enrichment plant near Qom, the Post wrote: “In short, the new Fordow operation crosses another important line in Iran’s advance toward a nuclear weapons capability.

“Was it a red line for Israel or the United States? Apparently not, for the Obama administration at least. In a television interview Sunday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said: ‘Our red line to Iran is: do not develop a nuclear weapon.’ He asserted that Tehran was not trying to develop a weapon now, only ‘a nuclear capability.’ The Revolutionary Guard, which controls the nuclear program, might well take that as a green light for the new enrichment operation.”

While portraying Panetta as an Iranian tool, the Post suggested that anyone who wanted to turn back from an Iran confrontation was an Iranian useful fool. The Post wrote:
“The recent flurry of Iranian threats has had the intended effect of prompting a new chorus of demands in Washington that the United States and its allies stop tightening sanctions and instead make another attempt at ‘engagement’ with the regime. The Ahmadinejad government itself reportedly has proposed new negotiations, and Turkey has stepped forward as a host.

“Almost certainly, any talks will reveal that Iran is unwilling to stop its nuclear activities or even to make significant concessions. But they may serve to stop or greatly delay a European oil embargo or the implementation of sanctions on the [Iranian] central bank — and buy time for the Fordow centrifuges to do their work.”

The Post’s recommended instead “that every effort must be made to intensify sanctions” and to stop Iranian sale of oil anywhere in the world. In other words, continue to ratchet up the tensions and cut off hopes for genuine negotiations.

A Vulnerable Obama

The escalating neocon demands for an ever-harder U.S. line against Iran — and Israel’s apparent campaign of killings and sabotage inside Iran — come at a time when President Barack Obama and some of his inner circle appear to be looking again for ways to defuse tensions. But the Post’s editorial – and similar neocon propaganda – have made clear that any move toward reconciliation will come with a high political price tag.

Already, a recurring Republican talking point is that Obama’s earlier efforts to open channels of negotiation with Iran and other foreign adversaries proved his naivete and amounted to “apologizing” for America. Obama also has faced resistance within his own administration, especially from neocon-lites such as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

For instance, in spring 2010, a promising effort – led by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Brazil’s then-President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva – got Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to agree to relinquish Iranian control of nearly half the country’s supply of low-enriched uranium in exchange for isotopes for medical research.

The Turkish-Brazilian initiative revived a plan first advanced by Obama in 2009 – and the effort had the President’s private encouragement. But after Ahmadinejad accepted the deal, Secretary Clinton and other U.S. hardliners switched into overdrive to kill the swap and insist instead on imposing harsher sanctions against Iran.

At the time, Clinton’s position was endorsed by editors at the Washington Post and the New York Times, who mocked Erdogan and Lula da Silva as inept understudies on the international stage. If anything, the Post and Times argued, the United States should take an even more belligerent approach toward Iran, i.e. seeking “regime change.” [See’s “WPost, NYT Show Tough-Guy Swagger.”]

As Clinton undercut the uranium swap and pushed instead for a new round of United Nations’ sanctions, Lula da Silva released a private letter from Obama who had urged the Brazilians to press forward with the swap arrangement. However, with Washington’s political momentum favoring another confrontation with a Muslim adversary, Obama retreated and lined up behind the sanctions.

Over the next nearly two years, the sanctions have failed to stop Iran’s work on enriched uranium which it claims is needed for medical research. Israel, the neocons and other American hardliners have responded by demanding still more draconian sanctions, while promoting anti-Iran propaganda inside the United States and winking at the murder of Iranian scientists inside Iran.

In this U.S. election year, Israel and the neocons may understand that their political leverage on Obama is at its apex. So, if he again searches for openings to negotiate with Iran, he can expect the same kind of nasty disdain that the Washington Post heaped on Panetta on Wednesday.

The Carter-Begin Precedent

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Likud leaders appear to fear a second Obama term – when he’d be freed from the need to seek reelection – much as their predecessors feared a second term for President Jimmy Carter in 1980. Then, Prime Minister Menachem Begin thought that Carter in a second term would team up with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in forcing Israel to accept a Palestinian state.

Begin’s alarm about that prospect was described by Israeli intelligence and foreign affairs official David Kimche in his 1991 book, The Last Option. Kimche wrote that Begin’s government believed that Carter was overly sympathetic to the Palestinians.

“Begin was being set up for diplomatic slaughter by the master butchers in Washington,” Kimche wrote. “They had, moreover, the apparent blessing of the two presidents, Carter and Sadat, for this bizarre and clumsy attempt at collusion designed to force Israel to abandon her refusal to withdraw from territories occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem, and to agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

Extensive evidence now exists that Begin’s preference for Ronald Reagan led Israelis to join in a covert operation with Republicans to contact Iranian leaders behind Carter’s back and delay release of the 52 American hostages then being held in Iran until after Reagan defeated Carter in November 1980. [For details, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege or’s “The Back Story on Iran’s Clashes.”]

Today, Obama’s relationship with Netanyahu seems as strained as Carter’s relationship with Begin was three decades ago. And already many American neocons have signed up with Obama’s Republican rivals, including with GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney whose foreign policy white paper was written by prominent neocons.

So the question now is: Will the President of the United States take his place amid the herd of cattle getting steered into the slaughterhouse of another war?
Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat. His two previous books are Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & 'Project Truth'.