America, the threatened?

By Jonathan Power

September 6th 2016

The French ambassador to the US from 1902 to 1924, Jean-Jules Jusserand, observed that distant powers could not easily threaten the US because “On the north, she has a weak neighbour; on the south, another weak neighbour; on the east fish and on the west, fish”.

The coming of the submarine-based nuclear missile has not changed that. Apart from the fact that no enemy would dare use them for fear of retaliation, and that there is no country in the world that feels that hostile to America (accept North Korea), the fact is America is too big and too far away to be invaded and dominated. There could not be a blitzkrieg by a foreign army across the mid-west or a Vichy America.

The real tragedy of 9/11 is just as a majority of the US electorate had settled into a post-Cold War comfort zone with the new president, George W. Bush, not being overly pushy or confrontational in foreign affairs, America was jolted so badly that a large proportion of its electorate – maybe half – has been paranoid ever since. Enemies are once again seen under the bed.

Enough of the electorate have persuaded themselves that they are insecureRead More »

Over-hyping ISIS

By Jonathan Power

Politicians have it in their DNA to hype our supposed present dangers. So do journalists. So does the military-industrial complex. So do certain think tanks and university professors who depend on sounding the alarm about this and that to gain grants from foundations.

When Leon Panetta was defence secretary under President Barack Obama he was not atypical when he said that any defence cuts would undermine the military’s “ability to protect the nation” and reductions would “invite aggression”.

Yet today’s wars tend to be low-intensity conflicts that on average kill 90% fewer people than the wars of the 1950s. The first decade of this century had fewer war deaths than any decade of the last century.

As for terrorism nothing is more over-hyped.

Of the 13,186 people killed in terrorist attacks in 2010 only 15 were American citizens. Unless you live in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia or Syria the chance of dying from a terrorist attack today has fallen to just above zero. Even the latest spate of bomb attacks in France and Belgium barely affect this world percentage.

The US is almost Islamic terrorist-free. What terrorism there is comes from right wing white men. Read More »

The Unlikely AMEXIT: Pivoting away from the Middle East

By Richard Falk

The Case for Disengagement

A few years ago Barack Obama made much of an American pivot to East Asia, a recognition of China’s emergence and regional assertiveness, and the related claim that the American role in Asia-Pacific should be treated as a prime strategic interest that China needed to be made to respect.

The shift also involved the recognition by Obama that the United States had become overly and unsuccessfully engaged in Middle Eastern politics creating incentives to adjust foreign policy priorities. The 2012 pivot was an overdue correction of the neocon approach to the region during the presidency of George W. Bush that reached its climax with the disastrous 2003 intervention in Iraq, which continues to cause negative reverberations throughout the region.

It was then that the idiocy of ‘democracy promotion’ gave an idealistic edge to America’s military intervention and the delusion prospect of the occupiers receiving a warm welcome from the Iraqi people hit a stone wall of unanticipated resistance.

In retrospect, it seems evident that despite the much publicized ‘pivot’ the United States has not disengaged from the Middle East. Its policies are tied as ever to Israel, and its fully engaged in the military campaigns taking place in Syria and against DAESH.

In a recent article in The National Interest, Mohammed Ayoob, proposes a gradual American disengagement from the region. He makes a highly intelligent and informed strategic interest argument based on Israel’s military superiority, the reduced Western dependence on Gulf oil, and the nuclear agreement with Iran.

In effect, Ayoob convincingly contends that Read More »

Tony Blair- Evil big enough to be charged for war crimes

By Jonathan Power

The crime of aggression (“planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression”) was described by the Nuremberg Tribunal that tried Nazi leaders as “the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole”.

President George W. Bush and British prime minister, Tony Blair, have been accused by many as war criminals for starting the war against Iraq and, second, for not watching carefully enough to make sure that war crimes carried out by individual soldiers were not covered up, and for the torture that Bush initiated and Blair appeared to tolerate.

Did Blair lie over the reason for going to war with Iraq – the supposed stockpile of weapons of mass destruction that Iraq possessed? It depends how you define lie. If you define lie as saying this cat is black when in fact it’s white he didn’t on the big issues. But what he did do was to give the impression the cat was assuredly white when in fact it was a sort of greyish.

But as the just published government commissioned report made by a distinguished civil servant, John Chilcot, has made clear the caveats were left out of intelligence briefings and the presentation was polished by the prime minister’s office.

We in the public didn’t have the pre-polished version but Blair did and he must have known in his mind, if not his heart, he was taking a gamble with the evidence. Read More »

The Chilcot Report and the basic question: Why?

By Gunnar Westberg

After the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre in New York on the 11th of September 2001 President George W. Bush felt the need for revenge. Since years back, the US had developed plans to attack Iraq. Its dictator Saddam Hussein had been left in power after the First Gulf War in 1991, a war which the father of George W. Bush had left unfinished.

The real reasons for this renewed war on Iraq are not known.

Saddam Hussein had previously had a program to produce nuclear weapons. After thorough investigations lead by the UN representatives Rolf Ekéus and Hans Blix it became clear that all weapons of mass destruction had been eliminated. There were no nuclear weapons.

However, Saddam Hussein could of course start the production of nuclear weapons at some point in the future. And the US leaders choose to disregard the reports by the UN inspectors. “I do not want the smoking gun to be a nuclear detonation over Manhattan” said Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State, and on the TV screen a mushroom cloud rose over New York. That picture spoke more strongly than the reports by Hans Blix.

The UN Security Council did not support an attack on Iraq. There were demonstrations against the war, in the USA and in the world, probably the biggest peace and pre-war demonstrations in the world at any time. But the decision to go to war seems to have been taken, unchangeable.Read More »

The Chilcot Inquiry must tell the truth

By Mairead Maguire

The long awaited Chilcot report (5 years) on the Invasion of Iraq will finally be released on 6th July, 2016.

The Report is to be welcomed and the hope expressed that this inquiry will tell the truth of what happened to the Iraqi people and clarify the UKs involvement, through an official Government recognition of facts of the wars, sanctions and invasion of Iraq and for transparency, accountability and reparation to be paid to the Iraqi people by the UK Government who participated in these illegal and immoral genocidal wars.

The story of what was done to the Iraqi people by UK and Western allies is shocking and deeply disturbing.

The two wars, the imposition of economic sanctions, causing the slow deaths of thousands of people, were indeed crimes against humanity, war crimes, breaking all international obligations and conducted with no respect for human life or the Iraqi people’s rights.

The UK/USA acted unilaterally ignoring the principal of multilateralism and irrespective of the enormous opposition to war against Iraq, articulated by millions of people around the world.

The invasion was carried out by US/UK NATO forces on the basis of a ‘lie’ that Iraq had nuclear weapons and was a threat to the US.

The foreign policy of the US/UK governments were for regime change and about Iraqi oil; the methods used were Read More »

Is ISIS on the wane?

By Jonathan Power

Within a matter of days a self-appointed ISIS “lone wolf”, Omar Mateen, with no actual links to home office Isis has created mayhem in Orlando, Florida, with his killing of 49 people in a gay club, and the Iraq army has pushed Isis troops out of most of the important city of Falluja.

Maybe it is an exaggeration to say that ISIS is on the run its bailiwicks of Iraq and Syria but it is certainly taking very bad hits. Two years after sweeping through northern Iraq and capturing the oil city of Mosul in 2014 they are now on the defensive. ISIS has lost nearly half of the Iraqi territory it held. (i.e. an area about half that of the UK). It has lost much of its oil infrastructure.

It is taking lots of casualties. In Syria it is fighting on two contradictory fronts – the regime in Damascus, supported by Iran and Russia and against the non-Islamist rebels, supported by the US and the Arab states.

Meanwhile the flow of foreign fighters on which it has depended is slowing up and large numbers are returning home. Funding is drying up.

This indeed is why Mateen, the lone wolf, is so important to ISIS. ISIS spokesman, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, has asked ISIS sympathisers to stay where they are. “The smallest action you do in the heart of [your] land is better and more enduring to us than what you would do if you were with us.”

Is this a switch in tactics? We do not know yet.

What we do know is Read More »

Mass migration, the EU and European nationalisms

By Johan Galtung

Antwerpen & Alfaz

We are dealing with mass migration, basically into EU, and European nationalisms, many in favor of exits from the EU.

Why this mass migration, maybe to the point of Völkerwanderung, mainly into EU – but then what kind of EU? – and why the European nationalisms now found one way or the other in many member states?

The forecast for migration from Africa into Italy in 2016 is about 100,000; 28,000 already arrived in the first quarter, with 1,000 drowning in the Mediterranean (INYT, 6 May 2016). Big numbers. They knew the risks they were taking, so the push away from Africa and the pull towards Italy, and beyond, must have been considerable.

Better think in terms of 50 million migrants over 50 years, from regions considered uninhabitable to inhabitable regions. There seem to be five major causes underlying this basic world asymmetry:

Slavery, four centuries, depriving societies particularly of able-bodied males, by Arabs, then Westerners, cross-Atlantic transportation mainly by the English (Liverpool);

Colonialism, by Muslims after the death of the prophet in 632, from Casablanca to Southern Philippines, till the end of the 15th century, close to nine centuries, then by Christians close to five centuries, till colonialism was officially ended in the 1960s;

Robbery Capitalism, stealing or paying next to nothing for resources processed into manufactured goods, pocketing the value added;

Wars, mainly initiated by the West, killing millions (the USA more than 20 million in 37 countries after WWII), destroying property;

Ecological Factors, like depletion-pollution, often toxic for humans or nature, erratic climate partly due to climate gases, NOX, CO2, CH4.

These are the causes of poverty in some parts of the world but also of wealth in others; Read More »

Danmark skal heller ikke bombe i Syrien – 6 artikler

Af Jan Øberg

Posted on 18 April, 2016 on Jan Oberg’s blog

Den 19. april 2016 havde Folketinget 2. behandling af forslaget om også at bombe og indsætte specialstyrker i Syrien.

Jeg mener at sagen er fundamentalt vigtig for Danmark, danskerne og vor fremtidige rolle og ‘image’ ude i verden.

Desuden finder jeg at beslutningsgrundlaget, mediedækningen og den offentlige debat giver anledning til den største bekymring.

At gå i krig er den vigtigste beslutning en regering kan tage og en befolkning bakke op om. Men det er som om dette at deltage i krig stort set rager både ministre, folketingsmedlemmer, journalister og befolkning en forårsblomst.

Med en vis fortvivlelse skrev jeg derfor 6 artikler med forskellige temaer og producerede en video, der også foreslår hvad vi kunne gøre i stedet.

Jeg ville have disse ting sagt og spredt inden beslutningen blev taget.

Herunder findes de én for én som jeg har skrevet dem med en lille kommentar til publiceringsprocessen, som også i et vist omfang vidner – for mig i hvert fald – om mærkelige prioriteringer hvad angår tidspunkt og længde.

Alt andet lige bliver redaktionerne ikke oversvømmet af kvalificerede, kritiske og konstruktive artikler af denne type – men det er dog kun meget korte ting, man kan få ind. Om overhovedet…

1. Dansk krigsdeltagelse i Syrien vil være landsskadelig

Politiken 16. april 2016. Problemfri publicering.

Den 19. april skal folketinget have 2. behandling af forslaget om at Danmark skal deltage i krigen over Syrien og endog have specialstyrker på landjorden.

Det vil i så fald være sjette krigsdeltagelse siden 1999 – Serbien, Afghanistan, Irak 2003-2007, Libyen, Irak igen.

Der synes desværre at være flertal for krigspolitikken uanset det faktum at samtlige krige har været fiaskoer på deres egne præmisser og ud fra et fredsskabende synspunkt.

Politikere og andre mennesker, der støtter det krigsførende Danmark gang på gang, må vel efterhånden kunne blive stillet til ansvar for deres holdning til massedrab på uskyldige. Kan det være rigtigt at dette er så uproblematisk som den ringe offentlige debat tyder på at det er så let at beordre mord på andre mennesker?

Internationale rapporter gør gældende at den vestlige verden kan have dræbt op til 4 millioner muslimer siden 1990.Read More »