Tag: Barack Obama

Israeli Terrorism In International Waters: Explaining Obama’s Silence

In the early hours of Monday May 31 Israeli forces attacked a flotilla of ships carrying 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid to the besieged Gaza strip. Dubbed the Freedom Flotilla, the ships were aiming to break Israel’s illegal 3-year blockade of Gaza.

At least 15 people were killed and dozens injured when Israeli troops attacked the lead ship in the convoy–the Turkish “Mavi Marmara”. The attack happened in international waters, 75 miles off the coast of Israel and Gaza.

The media were quick to depict the atrocity as one that was of the activists making by repeating various official Israeli government statements suggesting that the Israeli military – the IDF – after having descended on the lead ship, reacted in self-defence to the violent actions of those on board. The media aligned these official pronouncements with Israeli edited video footage that purported to show activists repeatedly striking members of the IDF with rods and batons.

But as the dust has begun to settle, a different reality has slowly started to emerge. Witnesses on board have stated that it was the IDF who initiated the violence firing live bullets prior to embarking the vessel and then continuing with what is described as “disproportionate” and “indiscriminate” acts of violence against unarmed activists.

“The ship turned into a lake of blood,” Turkish activist Nilufer Cetin told reporters in Istanbul. She had been seized after the attack on the convoy, held in Israel and then returned to Turkey because she had a child with her. She said Israelis attacked at around 4am on Monday, using “smoke bombs followed by gas canisters. They started to descend onto the ship with helicopters” (http://www.socialistworker.co.uk/art.php?id=21412).

More detailed eye-witness accounts can be accessed here: (http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/conte…0/s2916676.htm) and here:(http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/06/20106193546785656.html).

The victims interpretation of the sequence of events that unfolded on the vessel was almost completely absent from media analysis. Further, media parroting of Israel’s staged version of events which inverted blame for the violent actions of the perpetrators onto the victims, followed Israeli claims that they had uncovered a weapons cache on board the impounded ship.
In fact, the so-called cache consisted of chains, knives and an assortment of tools of the kind usually found on similar vessels (see photograph below).

The supposed cache of weapons – grenades, pistols and rifles which the Israeli’s accused the activists of hiding – did not in fact exist. The Turkish authorities confirmed as much prior to the ship setting sail after they undertook routine checks (http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=who-the-hell-does-israel-think-she-is-2010-06-01).

Needless to say, the ludicrous Israeli claims and the related accusations of guilt by association went unchallenged by the media.

More importantly, journalists failed to mention the ‘elephant in the room’ – the significant question as to why it was that a ship containing humanitarian supplies intended for starving and impoverished people, was attacked in international waters.

Israel justified this illegal attack by claiming that “terrorists” were aboard the vessel. But if this was indeed the case, why was it that the Israeli’s had in the past given permission for similar vessels to dock in Gaza unhindered? And why if the Israeli’s believed “terrorists” were aboard as they claimed, did they not wait until the time the boat either reached Israeli territorial waters or alternatively wait until it arrived at its destination before apprehending it?

In addition, the Israeli government has rejected requests for an international investigation of its conduct (www.focus.de/politik/ausland/…id_515363.html) and its army has been criticised by the Foreign Press Association for what it called “a selective use of videos confiscated from journalists on the ships to justify its deadly raid at sea” (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100603/…tleWhvbm9ycw–).

All this strongly points to Israel’s guilt, and suggests that the official Israeli line is a smokescreen.

So what were the real reasons for the attack? And why, given the near universal international condemnation of Israel, did US president, Barack Obama, remain silent – particularly as the rest of the permanent members of the Security Council not only condemned the attack, but explicitly called for Israel’s three-year blockade of the Gaza Strip to be lifted?

For the answers we need to examine what is widely considered to be a “special relationship” between the two countries. It is a relationship that can be characterized as one in which Israel acts as a “bulldog” and proxy for the US as a means to cement the latters geopolitical and economic strategic interests throughout the middle east. This is a situation, in other words, where the US dog wags the Israeli tail as a method of divide and control (http://www.newdemocracyworld.org/War/Why%20Politicians.htm).

The current situation—not only but especially in the Middle East—is defined by the imperialist offensive mounted by the United States and its closest allies (notably Israel and Britain) since 11 September 2001. Carried out under the slogan of the “war on terrorism”, the real aim of this offensive is to perpetuate the global domination of US capitalism (hence the title of the neocon ‘Project for the New American Century’) (http://www.isj.org.uk/?id=241).

Domination in this way requires the control of the world’s land, air, maritime and space – a military concept known as “Full-Spectrum dominance” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Full-spectrum_dominance). In return, Israel by virtue of its strategic importance, receives favoured nation status by way of preferential “aid” amounting to 3 billion dollars annually, effectively allowing Washington de facto control.

What began with Ben-Gurion’s Plan D – the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian’s – is now in its final stages, termed “Operation Cast Lead”. The F-16 jet fighters, the 250-pound “smart” GBU-39 bombs supplied on the eve of the attack on Gaza during December 2008, which killed 1,4oo Palestinian’s, is part of the wider grand US imperial control of countries’ resources in the region.

Lord Curzon, viceroy of India in 1898 likened this imperial coming together as “pieces on a chessboard upon which is being played out a great game for the domination of the world” (http://revcom.us/a/089/iran-en.html).

Brzezinski, adviser to several presidents, has written virtually those same words. In his book The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives, he writes that the key to dominating the world is central Asia, with its strategic position between competing powers and immense oil and gas wealth (http://sandiego.indymedia.org/media/2006/10/119973.pdf).

In 2001, the authoratitive Janes Weekly revealed that Israel needed a “trigger” of a suicide bombing to attack the West Bank with the aim of adhering to this strategic game (http://www.iags.org/n0124051.htm). On 23 November, 2001, Israeli agents assassinated the Hamas leader, Mahmud Abu Hunud, and got their “trigger”; the suicide attacks resumed in response to his killing.

Something uncannily similar happened seven years later on 5 November 2008 when Israeli special forces attacked Gaza, killing six people. Once again, they got their propaganda “trigger”. A ceasefire initiated and sustained by the Hamas government – which had imprisoned its violators – was shattered by the Israeli attack and home-made rockets were fired into what used to be Palestine before its Arab occupants were “cleansed”.

On 23 December, Hamas offered to renew the ceasefire, but Israel’s charade was such that its all-out assault on Gaza had been planned six months earlier (http://www.palestinemonitor.org/spip/spip.php?article1146).

The seven years to 2008 have resulted in the deaths of 14 Israeli’s by mostly homemade rockets fired from Gaza as against 5,000 Palestinians killed in Israeli attacks (www.guardian.co.uk/ commentisfree/2008/dec/30/israel-and-the-palestinians-middle-east).

Washington was fully aware of the nature, as well as the likely consequences of the IDF naval operation in international waters, including the killings of civilians (http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=19447).

There are indications that the decision was taken in consultation with Washington. Indeed the Obama administration had given the green light to the deadly raids in international waters (http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=19447).

As with the previous examples highlighted above, this current Israeli atrocity will likely provide the catalyst for the “trigger” for further Israeli incursions into Gaza.

The killing of unarmed civilians was part of the mandate of the Israeli naval commando. It was an integral part of the logic of  Dagan’s “Operation Justified Vengeance”, which presents Israel as the victim rather than the perpetrator and uses civilian deaths “on both sides” to justify a process of military escalation.

Operation “Cast Lead” was part of a broader military-intelligence operation initiated at the outset of the Ariel Sharon government in 2001. But it was under Sharon’s “Operation Justified Vengeance” that F-16 fighter planes were initially used to bomb Palestinian cities.

The strike on the Freedom Flotilla is part of the logic of transforming Gaza into an urban concentration camp. “Operation Justified Vengeance” was also referred to as the “Dagan Plan”, named after General (ret.) Meir Dagan, who currently heads Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency (http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=1868).

It should be understood that the raid on the Flotilla also coincided with NATO-Israel war games directed against Iran. According to the Sunday Times “three German-built Israeli submarines equipped with nuclear cruise missiles are to be deployed in the Gulf near the Iranian coastline” (http://www.zerohedge.com/article/israel-deploys-three-nuclear-cruise-missile-armed-subs-along-iranian-coastline).

Meir Dagan, in coordination with his US counterparts, had been put in charge of various military-intelligence operations. It is worth noting that Meir Dagan as a young Colonel had worked closely with then defense minister Ariel Sharon in the raids on Palestinian settlements in Beirut in 1982.

The 2009 ground invasion of Gaza, in many regards, bear a canny resemblance to the 1982 military operation led by Sharon and Dagan.

Dagan as head of Israeli intelligence, no doubt also took part in the decision to launch the strike on the Freedom Flotilla. Moreover, it seems inconceivable that Obama did not personally authorize the strike also(http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=1868).

Copyright: Daniel Margrain

United States: The Unmentionable Dictatorship

“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist” (1).

As US president Barack Obama became the latest in a long line of former US president’s in denial, by blaming China for the Copenhagen climate change talks fiasco (2) (3), many in the informed world looked on incredulously at the audicity of the man (4).

It was clear that no government in the world would have ceded to the unreasonable demands the US put on the table, particularly as they was offering nothing tangible in return (5).

But one would have had difficulty in arriving at this conclusion from reading the the vast majority of a compliant corporate media’s parroting of Obama who was clearly trying to convince the rest of the world of his innocence whilst deflecting blame on to China. 

Obama’s attempt at shifting the blame was therefore a conjuring trick – a deception.

The historical reality is the US’s role post WW2 has been one of imperialist overseer that characterizes and demonises all of its potential competitors and “enemies” as “dictatorships” (or derivations thereof) as the basis for its propaganda of control (6).

This has, for example, involved the US characterizing the Vietnamese nationalist struggle for self-determination and independence as “communist” (7).

Similarly, more recently, the US has characterized the resistance in Afghanistan under the umbrella term “Taliban”, and routinely attempts to undermine the legitimate results of democratic elections throughout the world if they happen not to coincide with global US geopolitical and economic strategic interests (8).

The Western media was up to its usual tricks in reproducing US government propaganda in their attempts to undermine China during the 2008 Olympic Games. During this time, the Western media sensationalized stories about pollution and the murder of a US citizen in Beijing (9), and then accused the Chinese of attempting to censor them (10). 

The media also focused a disproportionate amount of attention on Obama’s predecessors’ comments emphasizing China’s alleged human rights record whilst ignoring the US’s. Bush was widely reported as saying the following shortly before he arrived in Beijing for the Games:

“America stands in firm opposition to China’s detention of political dissidents, human rights advocates and religious activists. We speak out for a free press, freedom of assembly, and labour rights not to antagonise China’s leaders, but because trusting its people with greater freedom is the only way for China to develop its full potential” (11).

But what the media rarely highlights is the US’s close ties to the regime in Egypt, whose respect for “freedom of assembly and labour rights” is shown by its internal repression, and to the Saudi royal family, who ruthlessly crush the slightest flickering of democratic sentiment (12).

They also ignore, with the odd exception, the continuing scandal of the US gulag at Guatanamo Bay which remains intact under Obama with at least 17,000 prisoners beyond the reach of justice (13). President Barack Obama speaks at the U.S. Marine Corps base in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, on Tuesday.President Barack Obama speaks at the U.S. Marine Corps base in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. (Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

Also unmentionable in the media is the fact that since coming to power, Obama has opposed habeas corpus, demanded more secret government and excused torture. One of his senior US intelligence officials in Latin America is accused of covering up the torture of an American nun in Guatemala in 1989; another is a Pinochet apologist (14). ibid.

In Pakistan, the number of civilians killed by US missiles called drones has more than doubled since Obama took office, and all over the world America’s violent assault on innocent people, directly or by agents, has been stepped up. (15).

In Afghanistan, the US “strategy” of killing Pashtun tribespeople (the “Taliban”) has been extended by Obama to give the Pentagon time to build a series of permanent bases right across the devastated country where, says Secretary Gates, the US military will remain indefinitely (16). ibid.

In Iraq, the country that has been reduced to a river of blood, as many as 70,000 troops will remain “for the next 15 to 20 years” (17).

US criticisms of China are therefore hypocritical.

What the media hides from the public, is the fact that the world’s imperial power, albeit a rapidly declining one, is representative of brutal form of dictatorship that US author Naomi Wolf argues is characteristic of fascism (18).

Some dictatorships are overt and others less so. Some, like the ex-Stalinist USSR, was totalitarian in nature, whilst others rely on a compliant media as a way to convince the populace that they are free and therefore not living in a dictatorship (19).

In this way, the idea is that the powerful within society who control what Karl Marx termed the “means of production”, convince  people within “democracies” that they are free, worthy and deserving, by virtue of the fact that they have the right to vote for either Tweedledee or Tweedledum once every five years, whilst simultaneously reinforcing the idea that other people who live in what the democratic world deem as “dictatorships” are not free, not worthy and are thus undeserving (20).

This illustrates that populations can be, and indeed are, controlled and manipulated to act on behalf of the rulers whose interests they ultimately serve.

Within the unspoken US dictatorship, vast armies of wage slaves toil for giant Western corporations who profit from the cheap labour that the other major dictatorship, China, delivers.

In this way, the US benefits from its relationship with China.

So why all the fuss?

The answer is that China isn’t just any old dictatorship, it is now an imperial rival to the US (21).

China’s rapid economic growth is destabilising the existing global balance of power. Measured by market exchange rates, China’s share of global national income has risen from 2.6 percent in 1980 to around 6 percent today (22).

On another measure that is better at capturing the absolute size of national economies, China’s share is more like 11 percent (23). ibid.

This is still way below that of the US which, on the same two measures, accounts for 25 and 21 percent of global economic output. Nevertheless, China’s economic rise is reshuffling the relations between states. For example, Third World states producing raw materials needed by China no longer need to go cap-in-hand to the US-dominated World Bank for loans and accept intrusive “conditionalities” that require them to reshape their economy and policies along neoliberal lines (24).

This doesn’t mean that Chinese investment in Africa or Latin America is benevolent or disinterested. It is a highly state-controlled capitalist country securing its supplies of natural resources (25). ibid.

But the fact remains that a lot of the hullaballoo about China is motivated less by concern for human rights, or Tibet or the environment for example, but by fear of Chinese power (26). ibid.

Obama’s stance in relation to China, as evidenced by his attitude at Copenhagen, appears to be one of engagement, but the real hidden message seems to be also – remember who’s boss and don’t throw your weight around (27).

In all this, it seems to be that Western powers are in denial. They behave as if things are still as they were immediately after the fall of the Soviet Union, when the US and its allies could do what they liked.

But things have changed. US power is now in decline. The West faces challengers increasingly confident of their own strength. If they’re pushed too hard, then, as the fighting in the Caucasus showed, they’ll bite back (28). ibid.

Vast swathes of central and South America are doing just that.

The days when the US could dismissively refer to central America as their back-yard to be exploited, are over.

A few years ago Donald Rumsfeld when describing Venezuela with all of the self-appointed arrogance of an imperial overseer, said: ” Why did God put our oil in other people’s countries?” No US politician will dare repeat such words.

Venezuela’s crime in the eyes of the US was that the people of that country democratically elected somebody who was prepared to stand up to US power and the economic imperatives and ideology that underpin it. The fact that the president of the country, Hugo Chavez, has been recalled for election on numerous separate ocassions and won every one of them, is largely unmentionable in the western corporate media.

Chavez, perceived by the US as a dictator, achieved his successive election victories despite a campaign of vilification within a privatized media largely controlled by oligarch’s sympathetic to US imperialism who openly backed a coup attempt against him in 2002 (29).

At the recent Summit of the America’s, Chavez, briefly came face-to-face with the devil who attempted to pursuade the rest of the world of his non-existence. During his brief meeting with Obama, Chavez proposed that the two men “work for peace” suggesting that they “get a team together to analyze the problem of the planned construction of US military bases in Colombia” (30).

The result of the meeting?

Obama plans to install seven military bases in that country (31). ibid.

In Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Pakistan, Obama continues Bush’s policies of war, domination and subjugation. Meanwhile, poverty, unemployment and inequality that grow daily in the land of the free, are unmentionables. But despite this, a compliant media continue to feed the myth that it is only the official enemies of the US which are the dictatorships.

Hugo Chavez’s respone to the US accusation that he is a dictator?

“I laugh. I laugh. It is the empire calling me a dictator. I’m happy. And I remember Don Quixote, Quixote who was with Sancho, you know, and the dogs start to bark, and Sancho says, “They are going to bite us.” And Quixote wisely answers, “Take it easy, Sancho, because if the dogs are barking, it is because we are galloping.” I will be very sad and worried if the imperialist government was calling me a great democratic man. No, it is them, the empire, who attack those who are truly contributing to the real democracy (32). ibid.

References

1. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0114814/quotes 

2. http://earthblips.dailyradar.com/story/dismal-outcome-at-copenhagen-fiasco/

3. http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/obama-accord-a-good-thing-amid-copenhagen-fiasco-20091221-l9yj.html

4. http://newsrealblog.com/2009/12/20/germans-blame-obama-for-copenhagen-failure/.

5. http://www.democracynow.org/2009/12/21/us_led_copenhagen_accord_decried_as

6. http://www.cdi.org/adm/Transcripts/923/

7. http://www.globalissues.org/article/402/media-propaganda-and-vietnam

8. http://www.johnpilger.com/page.asp?partid=6.

9. http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2008/aug/09/olympics2008.china3

10. http://sports.espn.go.com/oly/summer08/columns/story?id=3535638 

11. http://www.socialistworker.org.uk/art.php?id=15754

12. ibid.

13. http://www.johnpilger.com/page.asp?partid=530.

14. ibid.

15. http://www.johnpilger.com/page.asp?partid=530

16. ibid.

17. http://www.johnpilger.com/page.asp?partid=530

18. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/apr/24/usa.comment

19. http://www.wayneandtamara.com/manufacturingconsent.htm

20. http://www.medialens.org/alerts/07/071120_invasion_a_comparison.php

21. http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p_mla_apa_research_citation/0/7/0/9/5/p70953_index.html.

22. http://www.socialistworker.org.uk/art.php?id=15754

23. ibid.

24. http://www.socialistworker.org.uk/art.php?id=15754

25. ibid.

26. ibid.

27. http://www.socialistworker.org.uk/art.php?id=15754

28. ibid.

29. http://english.aljazeera.net/programmes/listeningpost/2009/08/2009814105043427586.html

30. http://www.democracynow.org/2009/12/21/venezuelan_president_hugo_chavez_on_how

31. ibid.

32. ibid.