Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 31, 2013

Rabbis: Zionism Is Racism

Recently I wrote:
Zionism is an ideology that is based on racial discrimination. It is thereby, like antisemitism, a form of racism and racism is hardly ever a base of peace.
It seems that a bunch of Zionist rabbis agree with that statement.

Haaretz: Top rabbis move to forbid renting homes to Arabs, say 'racism originated in the Torah'

A number of leading rabbis who signed on to a religious ruling to forbid renting homes to gentiles – a move particularly aimed against Arabs – defended their decision on Tuesday with the declaration that the land of Israel belongs to the Jews.
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"We don't need to help Arabs set down roots in Israel," Rabbi Shlomo Aviner of the Beit El settlement, said on Tuesday. Aviner explained that he supported the move for two reasons: one, a Jew looking for an apartment should get preference over a gentile; and two, to keep the growing Arab population from settling too deeply. "Racism originated in the Torah," said Rabbi Yosef Scheinen, who heads the Ashdod Yeshiva. "The land of Israel is designated for the people of Israel. This is what the Holy One Blessed Be He intended and that is what the [sage] Rashi interpreted."

A bunch of east Europeans steal Arab land based on old fairytales and pure racism. They even acknowledge it. This should not be supported in any way. Yes, people differ and differing cultures may live in different ways. But racism used as justification for crimes is a crime in itself and should be punished.

These Rabbis are public employees of the state of Israel. Their opinions are official policy. Fortunately history tells us that such fascism seldom survives. Racist people tend to devour their own:
"The neighbors and acquaintances [of a Jew who sells or rents to an Arab] must distance themselves from the Jew, refrain from doing business with him, deny him the right to read from the Torah, and similarly [ostracize] him until he goes back on this harmful deed," the letter reads.

Posted by b on March 31, 2013 at 6:43 UTC | Permalink | Comments (91)

March 30, 2013

A "NATO Mandate" For War Would Be Illegal

Daniel Larison quotes from a (paywalled) Wall Street Journal report on the discussions inside the U.S. administration on a more open war on Syria. This point sticks out:
Lawyers at the White House and departments of Defense, State and Justice debated whether the U.S. had a “clear and credible” legal justification under U.S. or international law for intervening militarily. The clearest legal case could be made if the U.S. won a U.N. or NATO mandate for using force. Neither route seemed viable: Russia would veto any Security Council resolution, and NATO wasn’t interested in a new military mission.
There can be no legal NATO mandate for using force. NATO is not an organization that can wage war if some committee decides to do so. Unless a NATO member is illegally attacked NATO has exactly zero legal authority to fight a war. While a case can certainly be made that Turkey is attacking Syria by harboring, training and supplying illegitimate forces that fight the Syrian state, no case can be made that Turkey is attacked by Syria.

Asides from the natural right of self-defense there is only one other source that could legitimize a war. That is, and only under certain circumstances, the UN Security Council.

That U.S. administration lawyers would even consider something like a "NATO mandate" shows that there are still a lot of neoconned minds with a quite false understanding of international law.

Posted by b on March 30, 2013 at 14:55 UTC | Permalink | Comments (29)

March 29, 2013

Whoes "Provocative Action"?

March 29 2013 - Hagel says U.S. has to take North Korean threats seriously
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Thursday that North Korea's provocative actions and belligerent tone had "ratcheted up the danger" on the Korean peninsula, ...
March 28 2013 - US sends nuclear-capable B-2 bombers to SKorea
The U.S military says two nuclear-capable B-2 bombers have completed a training mission in South Korea ...
...
The U.S. says the B-2 stealth bombers flew from a U.S. air base and dropped munitions on a South Korean island range before returning home.
March 26 2013 - U.S. Army learns hard lessons in N. Korea-like war game
The Unified Quest war game conducted this year by Army planners posited the collapse of a nuclear-armed, xenophobic, criminal family regime that had lorded over a closed society and inconveniently lost control over its nukes as it fell. Army leaders stayed mum about the model for the game, but all indications — and maps seen during the game at the Army War College — point to North Korea.
March 20 2013 - U.S. flies B-52s over South Korea
The U.S. Air Force is breaking out some of its heaviest hardware to send a message to North Korea.

A Pentagon spokesman said Monday that B-52 bombers are making flights over South Korea as part of military exercises this month.

March 19 2013 - S. Korea, U.S. carry out naval drills with nuclear attack submarine
South Korean and U.S. forces have been carrying out naval drills in seas around the peninsula with a nuclear attack submarine as part of their annual exercise, military sources said Wednesday, in a show of power against North Korea's threat of nuclear attack.

The two-month field training, called Foal Eagle, has been in full swing to test the combat readiness of the allies, amid high tension on the Korean Peninsula in light of a torrent of bellicose rhetoric by North Korea. It kicked off on March 1 and runs through April 30.

March 17 2013 - Troops remember sacrifices of Cheonan sailors
Halfway through the around-the-clock Key Resolve drills Friday, 8th U.S. Army Commander Lt. Gen. John D. Johnson remained full of energy as he underscored that the allied forces were ready to cope with North Korean threats.
...
Despite their hectic schedule, the troops gathered early in the day to pay respects to the 46 deceased crewmembers of South Korean corvette Cheonan, which was sunk by North Korea’s torpedo attack on March 26, 2010.
March 12 2013 - First day of SK-US military exercises passes without provocation
Around 10,000 ROK troops and 3,000 US soldiers, including 2,500 reinforcements from US Pacific command in Hawaii, are taking part in the military exercise, which will continue through Mar. 21. Another 10,000 US soldiers will be deployed by the end of this month for the Foal Eagle exercises. Also flown in to participate in the exercises were B-52 bombers and F-22 stealth fighters, which boast the world’s highest levels of performance. These two kinds of aircraft can maneuver throughout Korean airspace without landing. In addition, the 9750t Aegis destroyers USS Lassen and USS Fitzgerald arrived in South Korea.
March 8 2013 - Air Assault Course increase 2ID capabilities
For the first time in 15 years, 2nd Infantry Division and Eighth U.S. Army soldiers tackled the rigorous Air Assault Course at Camp Hovey, South Korea.

The course, held Feb. 25 to March 3, 2013, at Camp Hovey, began with 312 soldiers ready to compete for the course’s 250 slots. The course qualifies soldiers to conduct air assault and helicopter sling-load operations and proper rappelling and fast-rope techniques.

March 8 2013 - “Frozen Chosen” Marines
Marines from I Company, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, slog through wind and snow during a joint training exercise with Japanese troops at the Hokkaido-Dai Maneuver Area in northern Japan last week.
...
The Hokkaido training area is located across the Sea of Japan from the Korean Peninsula, where Marines fought an epic winter battle at the Chosin Reservoir in opening year of the Korean War.
March 6 2013 - S. Korea says it will strike against North’s top leadership if provoked
[T]he rhetoric sets up an especially tense period on the Korean Peninsula, with the U.S. and South Korean militaries planning joint training drills that the North considers a “dangerous nuclear war” maneuver, and with the U.N. Security Council deliberating new sanctions to limit Pyongyang’s weapons program.

Posted by b on March 29, 2013 at 4:11 UTC | Permalink | Comments (58)

March 27, 2013

The Muddled UN Mali Mission

French and Chadian troops in Mali are mopping up "planet Mars", the desert mountain retreat, of the Jihadis who had taken over north Mali.

But the overall situation is far from resolved. The Mali state is broken with the current unelected government incapable of controlling the country. Three days ago some Jihadi suicide commando attacked in Gao hundreds of miles south of the current French main operation area.

The French claim they want to leave soon and asked for the UN to take over. But the new UN plan just released by the Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon is seriously muddled and seems to give the French an opening for further unsupervised meddling:

In a report to the 15-member Security Council, Ban recommended that the African force, known as AFISMA, become a U.N. peacekeeping force of some 11,200 troops and 1,440 police - once major combat ends.

To tackle Islamist extremists directly, Ban recommended that a so-called parallel force be created, which would work in close coordination with the U.N. mission.

Diplomats have said France is likely to provide troops for the smaller parallel force, which could be based in Mali or elsewhere in the West Africa region.

These would be two forces on the ground. One under UN command and bound to UN rules for peacekeeping. Another force would be under French command and only bound to self imposed French rules.

That is the same construct that, even after ten years, has shown no progress in Afghanistan. There the ISAF force under NATO command was supposed to be on a stabilization and support mission while a separated U.S. led "Operation Enduring Freedom" force was hunting for Al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters under its own rules.

Politicians had hoped that the enemy would somehow distinguish between those two forces. That did of course not happen. Both forces were soon seen as aggressive occupiers. When the OEF forces under their loose rules created massacers the blame was put on ISAF. Such constructs of double forces and disunited command never make sense.

So why is the UN coming up with this nonsense? One would probably have to ask the UN Undersecretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations (GPKO), Hervé Ladsous. He is the third French in a row to occupy that position and is said to get his orders directly from Paris. The construct he introduces for Mali is the same that led to a mess elsewhere:

The parallel UN and French force proposed for Mali by Ladsous' DPKO is reminiscent of what France obtained in Cote d'Ivoire, with the Force Licorne running -- in short shorts -- alongside the UN Mission which it also through DPKO controlled.

Recently Inner City Press asked Amnesty International's West Africa expert to assess the performance on human rights and accountability in Cote d'Ivoire, for crimes committed by the side the France favored and favors. AI called it appalling.

Why think it would be better in Mali?

Indeed.

Any military in this world can explain that unity of command and common rules of engagement are a precondition for a successful operation. To have two forces under two commands with two set of rules in one area of operations is guaranteed to result in chaos.

And why is a UN force needed at all. Why can't AFISMA, the common African force do the task under African rules and supervison?

Maybe China or Russia can object to the planned lunatic construct. If the French want to continue their colonial ambitions in Africa they should at least be pressed to do so under UN or, even better, African supervision.

 

 

Posted by b on March 27, 2013 at 14:12 UTC | Permalink | Comments (11)

Pundits Start To See The Syrian Danger

This is the extraordinary occasion in which I at least partitially agree with "flat word" Thomas Friedman:
We know what kind of Syria we’d like to see emerge, and we have a good idea of the terrible costs of not achieving that and the war continuing. But I don’t see a consensus inside Syria — or even inside the opposition — for the kind of multisectarian, democratic Syria to which we aspire. In this kind of situation, there are three basic options:
  • We and some global coalition can invade Syria, as we did Iraq, sit on the parties and forge the kind of Syria we want. But that hasn’t succeeded in Iraq yet, at huge cost, and there is zero support for that in America. Forget it.
  • We can try to contain the conflict by hardening Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel, wait for the Syrian parties to get exhausted and then try to forge a cease-fire/power-sharing deal.
  • Or we can let the war take its course with the certainty of more terrible killings, the likelihood of its spreading to neighboring states and the possibility of its leading to the fracturing of Syria into Sunni, Alawite and Kurdish mini-states.
I’m dubious that just arming “nice” rebels will produce the Syria we want; it could, though, drag us in in ways we might not want.
While Friedman's diagnosis is right, i.e. if the opposition wins the resulting situation would be catastrophic, his choices leave out the fourth option which I suggested over a year ago:
A Syrian state crumbling under terror followed by large sectarian slaughter and refugee streams with certain spillover of fighting into all neighboring countries. That can not be in anyone's interest.

It is time for the west to not only step back from this cliff but to turn around and to help Assad to fight the terrorists that want to bring down his country.

Some western commentators are slowly, slowly coming around to reach that point. Former Foreign Service Officer Henry Precht is nearly making it:
[T]he end of the track of the Syrian war could be a conflict that will work severe damage for American interests far beyond the Middle East.

We can only hope that Obama and his team will find the vision to foresee the unintended wreck that may lie ahead. To be sure, there will be tough congressional and media criticism and active opposition against any American move to relieve the pressure on Assad and join the Russians in promoting compromise between the two sides. The Administration can argue that the overthrow of Assad will mean al Qaeda rule in Damascus, but many will reject that argument. There are no easy choices: ending Syria’s war will mean applying strong pressure on Saudi Arabia and Turkey to cease and desist. It will be messy, but a negotiated truce will slow down the killing and end the drift towards a major war.

The ultimate stakes for regional stability are too high and the continued suffering of the Syria people too great for America to allow the war to continue and probably escalate. The President will have to show uncustomary political courage. We can only hope he will.

U.S. pressure on Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to stop the weapon and personal flow to Syria would be the first step towards a solution. The alternative is indeed handeling Syria to AlQaida. That is not in anyone's interest. Why is it so difficult for Washington to understand this?

We can certainly hope that this realist viewpoint will gain further ground and that Obama finds some backbone and pushes for a non-military resolution of the conflict. But this hopy changy president has so far shown zero of the needed political courage. The mess is thereby likely to continue until the Friedman's of this world acknowledge the real solution.

Posted by b on March 27, 2013 at 13:15 UTC | Permalink | Comments (61)

March 26, 2013

They Plan To Occupy Aleppo

The Syrian army recaptured Baba Amr district in Homs after it had been again infiltrated by insurgents two weeks ago. This seems to again be a significant and symbolic loss for the insurgents. This Syrian army is still holding quite well despite the enormous amount of weapons and foreign personal that is fed to the insurgency.

Yesterday the New York Times had a well researched report on the massive weapon pipeline the CIA has set up to feed the insurgents:

With help from the C.I.A., Arab governments and Turkey have sharply increased their military aid to Syria’s opposition fighters in recent months, expanding a secret airlift of arms and equipment for the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, according to air traffic data, interviews with officials in several countries and the accounts of rebel commanders.

The airlift, which began on a small scale in early 2012 and continued intermittently through last fall, expanded into a steady and much heavier flow late last year, the data shows.

The U.S. ambassador to Libya, who was working on the weapon pipeline from Libya through Turkey to Syria, was killed on September 11 2012. It seems that the Libya pipeline was closed after that incident and a new pipeline opened which hauls weapons from Croatia through Turkey and Jordan to Syria.
It has grown to include more than 160 military cargo flights by Jordanian, Saudi and Qatari military-style cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and, to a lesser degree, at other Turkish and Jordanian airports.
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From offices at secret locations, American intelligence officers have helped the Arab governments shop for weapons, including a large procurement from Croatia, and have vetted rebel commanders and groups to determine who should receive the weapons as they arrive, according to American officials speaking on the condition of anonymity.
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“A conservative estimate of the payload of these flights would be 3,500 tons of military equipment,” said Hugh Griffiths, of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, who monitors illicit arms transfers.

“The intensity and frequency of these flights,” he added, are “suggestive of a well-planned and coordinated clandestine military logistics operation.”
...

In Obama's words the organizing of 3,500 tons of weapons is "non-lethal" aid. Adding to the foreign stream of weapons are also hundreds of European fighters and several thousands from other countries involved. Their use of chemical weapons should disqualify them from any support. But the U.S. still continues to favor them.

In Jordan the U.S. is also training "secular" troops that deserted from the Syrian army force. I find it likely that these are supposed to later capture any WMD side should the Syrian government fall. The report includes this quote from a U.S. spokesperson:

"But the bottom line is what we're looking for is unity," Ventrell said. "We continue to support the coalition's vision for a tolerant, inclusive Syria. We want them to continue to work together to implement that vision."
There is no "coalition's vision for a tolerant, inclusive Syria". To assume there is is self defeating. The various exile groups that were assembled were all led or at at least heavily influenced by Muslim Brotherhood. They want a Islamic state in Syria that, by definition, can not be tolerant and/or inclusive. This false view of the Islamic insurgency against the Syrian government is the primary reason why Obama's Syria policy is in shambles.

Moaz Khatib, the U.S. supported opposition leader who resigned after Qatar managed to put up a Muslim Brotherhood guy as exile prime minister, is himself an Islamist. He once led prayers at the Umayyad mosque in Damascus but was soon removed from that office for being too radical.

Khatib, despite having resigned as exile leader, spoke today at the Arab League conference in Doha. He is an effective speaker but comes around (video) as angry. He seemed not to make friends with the assortment of dictators at the Arab League. They listened quite stone faced to his tirade and the applause at the end was very short.

Khatib said that when he talked with Secretary of State Kerry he had requested to move NATO Patriot batteries to cover north Syria. That is not going to happen.

His request though makes sense if this is indeed the plan for the next stage:

A central military objective has been defined: to fully occupy Aleppo as a prelude to proclaiming the new Syrian state in the north.
I do not believe that the insurgency is capable of fully occupying Aleppo. But it seems that some folks in Washington and elsewhere want to give it a try. A new attempt for a political solution is likely only to come after the new attack on Aleppo, like earlier plans to get into Damascus, failed.

Posted by b on March 26, 2013 at 15:11 UTC | Permalink | Comments (30)

March 24, 2013

More Disarray In The Syrian Opposition

Moaz Khatib, who was installed by Hillary Clinton to head the Syrian opposition, just resigned. In his resigning statement he explained:
[T]there is a bitter reality [to] tame the Syrian people and besiege their revolution and attempting to control it.
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Those who are willing to obey [outside powers] will be supported, those who disobey will offered nothing but hunger and siege. We will not beg for help from anyone.

If there is a decision to execute us as Syrians, then let’s die as we want.
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Our message to everyone is that Syrians decisions will be taken by Syrians, and Syrians only.

I had promised our people, and vowed to God on that, to resign if the situation reaches certain red lines. Today, I honour my promise and I resign from the National Coalition to be able to work with freedom not available through official institutions.
...

Khatib is clearly pissed that Qatar installed the U.S. citizen and Muslim Brotherhood favorite Ghassan Hitto as prime minister of a Syrian exile government.

While Khatib had offered talks with the Syrian government Hitto has rejected them.

There is more disarray. As predicted the so called Free Syrian Army has also rejected the premiership of Hitto saying that his nomination was not consensus based. Meanwhile Iraq, Algeria and Lebanon vetoed Qatar's attempt to give the Syrian seat in the Arab League to the exile government.

Qatar's plans to install the Muslim Brotherhood as the new authority in Syria are clearly not welcome.

Secretary of State Kerry is on a visit in Iraq where he rather comically "warned" Prime Minister Maliki to stop flights from Iran over Iraq to Syria. Maliki will of course not do so.

Kerry also said that U.S. lawmakers and the American people are watching what Iraq is doing and "wondering how it is a partner."
Maliki, and likely all Iraqis, will show Kerry the finger over such statements.

What is Kerry threatening to do? Invade Iraq again? Arrange for a coup by some Sunni strongman? Hold back weapon sales to Iraq so Moscow can make the big deals with an again rich Iraq?

Kerry clearly has no leverage over Iraq. Maliki will of cause help Syria wherever he can. It is necessary for his own survival. Is Kerry too stupid to see that?

Posted by b on March 24, 2013 at 14:01 UTC | Permalink | Comments (71)

March 23, 2013

The Turkish Kurd Ceasefire

The Turkish president Erdogan made a deal with the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) Abdullah Öcalan. The first part of the deal is a ceasefire that will stop attacks by the PKK on Turkish state security entities and vice versa. The PKK will pull out its fighters from Turkey and move them into north Iraq. The Turkish army will not interfere with this retreat.

The second part of the deal is political and will be enshrined in a new constitution. Erdogan promises some political autonomy for Kurdish parts of the country instead of today's much centralized state. The mayors the Kurds elect in their cities will in future be able to act on their own and without interference from today's centrally appointed governors. As their part of the deal the Kurds will support Erdogan's dream of changing Turkey in a presidential republic with himself taking the then much more powerful presidency.

As previous negotiations with other political parties have shown,  Erdogan would not be able to change the constitution to fit his personal plans without the votes of the Kurd and their Peace and Democracy Party (BDP).

This plan may work but there are significant potential spoliers. When a letter from Abdullah Öcalan announcing the ceasefire was read to a million Kurds who came together in Diyarbarkir there was not one Turkish flag visible but thousands of Kurdish flags.

To the Turkish nationalist this proves their suspicion that the Kurds plan to split from Turkey and, together with north Iraq and parts of Syria, form their own state. They will do their best to sabotage any autonomy deal.

For some of the Kurdish nationalist the steps envisioned in todays plan are no enough. They do not want autonomous mayors but their own state and they want it now. It is quite possible that parts of the PKK and other groups they will not follow Öcalan ceasefire order and continue their terror campaign.

Nationalist on both sides have proven their ability to spoil any deal. Both sides are capable of attacks on the other side but both may also use false flag attacks to spoil the ceasefire and renew clashes. Two earlier attempts of ceasefires did not work out.

When Kemal Attatürk formed the modern Turkish state out of the ruins of the Ottoman empire he disenfranchised two social groups because he believed they would endanger the secular and united state he attempted to create. Those two groups were the Islamists and the Kurds. With the recent developments in Turkey Attatürk's fears might now come true.

Posted by b on March 23, 2013 at 17:44 UTC | Permalink | Comments (16)

March 22, 2013

The Pathetic Media - Part CXXIV

An African journalist interviewing the President of the United States and then writing about "President Obama Barack Hussein" would be laughed out of town by the Washington media establishment.

"How can such an unintelligent amateur attempt to write about the United States?" "Don't they have editors in their pathetic media?"

But when the Washington Post's Craig Whitlock writes about a new imperial drone base in Niger details like the Niger presidents name do not matter at all (screenshot):

Government officials in Niger, a former French colony, were slightly more forthcoming. President Issoufou Mahamadou said his government invited Washington to send surveillance drones because he was worried that the country might not be able to defend its borders from Islamist fighters based in Mali, Libya or Nigeria.

“We welcome the drones,” Mahamadou said in an interview at the presidential palace in Niamey.

For the record. The name of Niger's president is Mahamadou Issoufou with Mahamadou being his first name and Issoufou his family name.

That "Whitlock Craig" conflates the name of Niger's president, even after interviewing the man, is just a symptom of the rather provincial reporting the Washington media do with regards to Africa and foreign countries in general. According to the report the bribed president and his justice minister say that U.S. drones are very welcome in Niger. Yeah, sure. Why bother then to ask real people.

Anyone interested in the mood of other countries, especially with regard to U.S. involvement in their affairs, should look for other sources than those pathetic colonial court writers who dominate U.S. mainstream media.

Posted by b on March 22, 2013 at 9:04 UTC | Permalink | Comments (101)

March 20, 2013

Another Syrian Chalabi

Parts of the Syrian exile opposition installed a new leader. That must be the tenth by now. It is again a Muslim Brotherhood guy, but this time one who has not lived in Syria for over 30 years. But that will not matter. His American and Qatari handlers will certainly tell him "what the Syrians want".

As is usual after any repetition of this act parts of the coalition immediately dissented and left:

At least 12 key members of Syria's National Coalition said Wednesday they had suspended their membership in the main opposition body amid a row over the deeply divisive election of the first rebel prime minister.

The group of 12 included the Coalition's deputy Soheir Atassi and spokesman Walid al-Bunni.

These futile attempts to create another Ahmed Chalabi group aren't even funny anymore. It is obvious that the fighters on the ground are to various degrees extreme Islamists who do not and never will care what those exiles say or do.

From my realist point of view I still do not understand this. Why is the U.S. supporting these schemes? Why is the U.S. so much interested in creating a Sharia law state in Syria? Did it, like the Russians seem to believe, really went insane?

Posted by b on March 20, 2013 at 18:21 UTC | Permalink | Comments (80)

March 19, 2013

War On Iraq - 10 Years On

Ten years ago I watched on TV how the first bombs exploded in Baghdad. The fireballs were bigger than I had expected. "What are they dropping there?" I asked. "And why?" asked my then girlfriend. "Oil," I replied.

It was obvious that Iraq had neither any weapons of mass destruction nor any connection to terrorism. There was no doubt about that. Every piece of false evidence that had been put out by the U.S. government had been debunked. Everyone with a bit of interest and a bit of time could have known that. Knight Ridder's Washington Bureau (today McClatchy) journalists Warren Strobel and Jonathan Landay had writen piece after piece about that, as had several blogs and alternative media, Billmon's Whiskey Bar being on of them. Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradai and their experts on the ground said there were no WMD in Iraq.

The Bush government was a government of oil executives. When they came to power they were determined to get their hands on Iraq's resources. 9/11 only made it easier for them but they would have made the same flimsy case against Iraq even without that event. Greed for Iraq's oil was their motivation.

There is no excuse for anyone who publicly made the case for the war on Iraq. There is no excuse for anyone who wrote, edited or published WMD bullshit. Everyone who did so has lost all credibility.

The best case one can make for those people is that they could have known but were too lazy to learn the facts. In the worst cases they knew they were lying but fully intended to commit the crime. In most cases the propagandists just willingly drunk the Kool-Aid (recommanded reading!). They do so again and again.

The war on Iraq is still ongoing. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states are still financing and supporting the Sunni insurgents against the Iraqi government. Today more than a dozen car bombs exploded in Baghdad killing at least 60 people and wounding many more. It will take another ten years and more fighting before Iraq will find some state of peace.

The same people who pressed for the Iraq war are now pressing for war on Syria and for war on Iran. It is important to fight them and to debunk their lies again and again. It is the most important reason to keep this blog going.

Posted by b on March 19, 2013 at 17:24 UTC | Permalink | Comments (70)

March 17, 2013

NYT Publishes "Pro-Palestinian Manifesto"

Shortly before Obama's visit to Israel the normally very pro-Zionist New York Times publishes a long-read piece describing the life of Palestinians who try to peacefully resist the Israeli occupation. The headline is Is This Where the Third Intifada Will Start?. Haaretz calls the piece a "pro-Palestinian manifesto". Well, any realistic and factual description of Israel's occupation is indeed a "pro-Palestinian manifesto". What else does Haaretz think could it be?

The author of the piece is Ben Ehrenreich, who earlier pointed out that Zionism is the problem that rejects peace with the Arabs. Zionismus is an ideology that is based on racial discrimination. It is thereby, like antisemitism, a form of racism and racism is hardly ever a base of peace.

This week's Economist also takes a longer look at the Palestinian-Israeli situation and finds a bleak future for the "Jewish state".

I do not agree with the conclusions of either piece but recommend to read both.

Are these pieces part of a concerted Obama campaign to push for some change of opinion, if not in Israel then at least in the Anglo-sphere?

Posted by b on March 17, 2013 at 18:33 UTC | Permalink | Comments (28)

March 16, 2013

Cluster Bomb Propaganda

The Associate Press propagandizes: Syrian regime expands use of widely banned cluster bombs against civilians, rights group says. As we will see that claim the cluster bombs are "widely banned" is simply wrong.

The "rights group" claiming Syrian government use of such bombs is Human Rights Watch which has a rather dubious record of correctly identifying cluster bombs and their origin. It seems that HRW claims of such identification always finds that the side ideological opposed to U.S. mainstream is guilty of such use. The Syrian government denies that its uses cluster ammunition.

The AP piece asserts:

Cluster bombs open in flight, scattering smaller bomblets. They pose a threat to civilians long afterwards since many don’t explode immediately. Most countries have banned their use.
This is simply wrong. Out of 193 UN member states only 78 countries, mostly European and African ones, have joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions. Missing are many of the big ones including the United States, Russia, China, India, Brazil, Canada, Israel, Syria and others. Most countries have NOT banned the use of cluster munitions and especially most military strong countries have not and have no intention to do so.

That AP is wrongly asserting otherwise is likely intended to hype Human Rights Watch dubious claims against the Syrian government.

Posted by b on March 16, 2013 at 12:45 UTC | Permalink | Comments (58)

March 15, 2013

Open Thread 2013-05

News & views ...

Posted by b on March 15, 2013 at 17:19 UTC | Permalink | Comments (56)

March 14, 2013

Those Reuters Sources

In an Exclusive Reuters reports of regular weapon transfer from iran to Syria: Iran steps up weapons lifeline to Assad

How does Reuters know this you might ask. Here are its sources:

... Western diplomats said ... Western officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity. Iraqi and Turkish officials denied the allegations. ... the envoys said ... envoys say ... A Western intelligence report seen by Reuters in September said ... Iraq denied that report ... diplomats say ... a senior Western diplomat said this week ... the senior diplomat said ... He added ... Ali al-Moussawi, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's media adviser, strongly denied the allegations ... diplomats said ... The diplomats cited by Reuters made clear ... They also said ... intelligence report .. seen by Reuters in September ... One Western diplomat cited intelligence reports ... said the Western intelligence report ... the report said ... the report said ... Other Western officials confirmed ... the source told Reuters ... Western diplomats say ...
All allegations in the report come from anonymous western sources. It must have been a lot of work to stenograph than many dictations. Five journalist and editor and "others" worked on that report.

I once thought that journalism takes more than just writing down what anonymous government sources say. Alas. I was wrong.

Posted by b on March 14, 2013 at 13:54 UTC | Permalink | Comments (44)

March 13, 2013

Pope Francis

Some thoughts:
  • an old man his turn is unlikely to be long
  • from Latin America, giving that huge part of the church a bigger voice
  • a conservative, which is within the catholic church rather middle of the road, but with a social mind
  • strongly against liberal hype stuff like homosexual marriage
  • the name he chose has real meaning for catholic folks and can be understood as a promise of a less pompous church
Altogether a relative good choice in my view though not the tall black African woman I would have liked. Maybe next time?

Posted by b on March 13, 2013 at 19:31 UTC | Permalink | Comments (70)

Why Do They Report "Offense" As "Defense"?

How can any journalist or even any conscience writer mix up the "defense" "offense" vocabulary like in this piece?

Pentagon creating teams to launch cyberattacks as threat grows

The Pentagon’s Cyber Command will create 13 offensive teams by the fall of 2015 to help defend the nation against major computer attacks from abroad, Gen. Keith Alexander testified to Congress on Tuesday, a rare acknowledgment of the military’s ability to use cyberweapons.
"Offensive teams" are obviously created to attack a foes computersystems, not to "defend" ones own. To "defend" ones computersystems requires no offensive capability. It only requires to close off ones networks and to carefully scrutinize the hard- and software one is using. Then there is the attribution problem. In today's internet it is nearly impossible to find the source of a competent attack if the attacker is willing to hide its identity. Any "offensive team" is thereby by definition not to "defend" but, as its name says, to attack. Why is the reporter trying to obfuscate that?

And the writing gets even worse:

Alexander said the 13 teams would defend against destructive attacks. “I would like to be clear that this team . . . is an offensive team,” he said.
How can the reporter summarize what the General says as to "defend against attacks" when the General is quoted saying the very opposite in the very next sentence? Have the writer and the readers internalized newspeak so much that the glaring contradiction in that paragraph is acceptable as "truth"?
Twenty-seven other teams would support commands such as the Pacific Command and the Central Command as they plan offensive cyber capabilities.
General Alexander is clearly emphasizing the unilateral offensive side of his plans. But the reporter still subsumes it all under "defense". What kind of cool-aid do they serve in Washington to lower cerebral capabilities to such a level?

Posted by b on March 13, 2013 at 7:03 UTC | Permalink | Comments (31)

March 11, 2013

Rejecting Karzai's Order Killed Eight People

Mid February the Afghan president Karzai ordered that U.S. special operation forces leave Wardak province. These special operation forces were training some gangs of bandits which ended up threatening and killing the civilian population:
In a statement Sunday, a spokesman for Karzai said, "after a thorough discussion, it became clear that armed individuals named as U.S. special force stationed in Wardak province engage in harassing, annoying, torturing and even murdering innocent people."
The U.S. ignored the demand. The U.S. military also rejected the demand to finally hand over control of the Bagram prison to Afghan police and justice.

These are the reasons why Karzai yesterday said that the U.S. has in effect a common goal with the Taliban, creating instability to justify a prolonged stay.

Today two U.S. special operation soldiers, three Afghan policeman and three women were killed when an Afghan policeman opened fire on a meeting. Dozens were wounded:

The shooting, at a joint military base in Wardak Province, happened shortly after a security meeting between the police and American and Afghan forces, the officials said.
Had the U.S. military followed Karzai's order and closed shop in Wardak eight people who are now dead would still be alive.

Posted by b on March 11, 2013 at 16:57 UTC | Permalink | Comments (22)

Syria: The Battle Is Still In Balance

The Islamist Syrian insurgent group that had kidnapped some Philippine UN peacekeepers and is also responsible for murdering a number of captured Syrian army soldiers has evidently received modern weapons through the U.S. led additional arming of the insurgency.

That such a group received such weaponry is proof that the plan to deliver weapons only to non-radical groups is not working at all. The myriad of militant groups and criminal gangs fighting in Syria are only gradually distinguishable in their sectarian mindset.

A large amount of weapons reached the insurgents through 75 planeloads from Croatia. These were delivered through Jordan and Turkey where British, French and U.S. forces train more insurgents. The British government, in breaking the EU embargo on weapons delivery to any side in Syria, has reportedly delivered another batch of weapons from its own stock.

The exiled political opposition has postponed a meeting it had planned to from an exile government. The attempts to install some pliant secular technocrat as the front man was sabotaged by the Muslim Brotherhood members of the opposition.

Last week the Jihadists of Jabath al-Nusra overran the eastern city of Raqqa where they are now killing government functionaries. Yesterday the insurgents attempted to reconquer Baba Amr in Homs. That offense seem to have failed. Overall the military conflict still seems to be in balance with little movement at the various fronts.

Posted by b on March 11, 2013 at 12:07 UTC | Permalink | Comments (59)

March 10, 2013

Predictions Of A Changing China Fail

On February 12 the NYT claimed that North Korea's Nuclear Test Poses Big Challenge to China’s New Leader. It set off with a false choice:
The nuclear test by North Korea on Tuesday, in defiance of warnings by China, leaves the new Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, with a choice: Does he upset North Korea just a bit by agreeing to stepped up United Nations sanctions, or does he rattle the regime by pulling the plug on infusions of Chinese oil and investments that keep North Korea afloat?
I rejected the speculations in that piece and explained that while China might join some mild UN sanctions, as it later did, it has no interest in really pressing North Korea:
China needs North Korea as a buffer against U.S. troops at its borders. It will not do anything to ruin North Korea as a chaotic and dissolving neighbor would be a huge security problem for Beijing.

As nothing in those circumstances changed, I reasoned, China's policy on North Korea would not change.

Now China is saying exactly that:

China’s foreign minister said Saturday that Beijing would not abandon North Korea, reiterating China’s longstanding position that dialogue, not sanctions, is the best way to persuade the North to abandon its nuclear weapons.

At a news conference during the National People’s Congress, the foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, suggested that Chinese support for tougher United Nations sanctions against North Korea should not be interpreted as a basic change in China’s attitude.

China has always seen North Korea as a buffer zone and it will continue to do so as long as needed. Besides that it also likes the coal and iron ore it imports from North Korea at favorable prices. Even if North Korea again starts some clashes with South Korea, as it seems likely to do soon, China will not overtly interfere unless North Korea's existence in endangered.

The permanent speculation of a "western" turn of China's policies is nonsense. China has its own interests, often divert from "western" ones, and China is capable of pursuing its interests with its own policies.

Posted by b on March 10, 2013 at 18:39 UTC | Permalink | Comments (15)