Sixteen years after 9/11: lies, hypocrisy and militarism

12 September 2017

The sixteenth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks that killed more than 2,900 people in the United States were marked once again on Monday with ceremonies at the site of the World Trade Center’s demolished Twin Towers, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania where one of four hijacked planes crashed as passengers fought to regain control of the aircraft.

Thousands gathered in New York City for the solemn reading of the names of those who lost their lives to a criminal and reactionary terrorist attack that served only the interests of US and world imperialism, which ever since have exploited the events to justify wars of aggression and attacks on democratic rights the world over.

The genuine emotions of sorrow and remembrance shared by those who lost loved ones on 9/11 once again stood in sharp contrast to the banality and hypocrisy of the official commemorations staged by US officials.

This longstanding dichotomy reached a new level with the main speech of the day delivered by the fascistic billionaire con-man President Donald Trump at the Pentagon Monday. Trump, whose first reaction on the day of the attacks was to brag—falsely—that the toppling of the Twin Towers had made his own property at 40 Wall Street the tallest building in lower Manhattan, delivered remarks that consisted of barely warmed-over platitudes from previous addresses, repeated tributes to the American flag and a vow to “defend our country against barbaric forces of evil and destruction.”

Trump repeated the well-worn cliché that on September 11 “our whole world changed.” The phrase is meant to suggest that the unending wars, police state measures and sweeping changes in American political life over the past 16 years have all been carried out in response to the supposedly unforeseen and unforeseeable events of September 11, having nothing to do with anything that came before.

That this is a cynical and self-serving lie becomes clearer with every passing year.

On the eve of the anniversary, new revelations emerged linking Saudi Arabia, Washington’s closest ally in the Arab world, to the preparation of the September 11 attacks, in which 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens. The corporate media, which published nothing of any significance on the anniversary, largely blacked out this new evidence. The New York Timesmarked the anniversary with an editorial detailing efforts by the New York City medical examiner to identify human remains.

A federal lawsuit on behalf of the families of some 1,400 of the 9/11 victims has presented evidence that the Saudi embassy in Washington financed what was apparently a “dry run” for the 9/11 attacks in 1999. Two Saudi agents posing as students boarded an America West flight from Phoenix to Washington, D.C. with tickets paid for by the Saudi embassy. The lawsuit states that both men had trained in Al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan with some of the 9/11 hijackers. While on the flight, the two asked flight attendants technical questions about the plane that raised suspicions and twice attempted to enter the cockpit, leading the pilot to carry out an emergency landing in Ohio. Both men were detained and questioned by the FBI, which decided not to pursue any prosecution.

This is only the latest in a long series of revelations that have made it abundantly clear that the events of 9/11 could never have taken place without substantial logistical support from high places. Despite the repeated claims that the attacks “changed everything,” there has never been an independent and objective investigations into how they were carried out. And, despite being what is ostensibly the most catastrophic intelligence failure in American history, no one was ever held accountable with so much as a firing or a demotion.

What evidence has emerged makes it clear that the 9/11 hijackers were able to freely enter the country and attend flight schools despite the fact that a number of those involved had been subjects of surveillance by the CIA and FBI for as long as two years before the attack. Two of them actually lived in the home of an FBI informant.

Twenty-eight pages of heavily redacted documents released in 2016 after being concealed from the public for 13 years established that Saudi intelligence officers funneled substantial amounts of money to the hijackers in the run-up to the 9/11 attacks, while assisting them with finding housing as well as flight schools to attend.

While Saudi Arabia was the government most active in carrying out the September 11 attacks, the involvement of Saudi intelligence really means the involvement of a section of the American state apparatus. This is not a matter of conspiracy theories, but established fact. It is bound up with very real conspiracies involving the CIA, Afghanistan and Al Qaeda going back to the Islamist group’s founding as an arm of Washington’s dirty war against the Soviet-backed government of Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Far from the attacks having “changed everything,” they provided the pretext for acts of military aggression long in preparation. In the wake of the dissolution of the Soviet Union a decade earlier, the ruling class initiated a policy developed to use US military might to offset the decline of American capitalism on the world arena. Afghanistan and Iraq were targeted to secure military dominance over two major oil- and gas-producing regions on the planet, the Caspian Basin and the Middle East.

This thoroughly criminal enterprise, justified in the name of 9/11’s victims, has claimed the lives of over 1 million Iraqis and hundreds of thousands of Afghans and unleashed the greatest refugee crisis since the Second World War.

The invocation of a “war on terror”—passed down from Bush to Obama and now to Trump—to justify these crimes has become not only threadbare, but patently absurd. The results of 16 years of uninterrupted US wars of aggression have included an unprecedented growth of Al Qaeda and related Islamist militias, largely as a result of US imperialism’s utilization of these elements as proxy ground forces in wars for regime change in Libya and Syria.

Moreover, the multiple wars and interventions conducted by the Pentagon and the CIA, from North Africa to Central Asia, can quickly metastasize into a global conflagration, with Washington simultaneously threatening nuclear war against North Korea and pursuing increasingly dangerous confrontations with its principal geo-strategic rivals, Russia and China.

September 11 did not “change everything,” but it did mark the beginning of an escalation of what George W. Bush called the “wars of the twenty-first century,” that is, escalating imperialist aggression that is leading mankind toward a third world war.

Bill Van Auken

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/09/12/pers-s12.html

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Washington’s love affair with tyrants

Besides the appearances, Donald Trump’s open embrace of dictators isn’t a break with U.S. policy, writes Robert Narai, in an article written for Red Flag.

Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet exchanges greetings with then President George H.W. Bush (Library of the National Congress of Chile | Wikimedia Commons)

Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet exchanges greetings with then President George H.W. Bush (Library of the National Congress of Chile | Wikimedia Commons)

THE U.S. liberal media seem to be suffering from amnesia.

In response to Donald Trump’s praise for Vladimir Putin and his crawling visit to Saudi Arabia, numerous establishment doyens have complained that the U.S. tradition of championing democracy and freedom throughout the world is being seriously endangered by Trump’s uncritical embrace of despots and dictators.

An editorial in the New York Times recently claimed: “The United States has long seen itself as a beacon of democracy and a global advocate of human rights and the rule of law…Mr. Trump erodes American’s reputation when he uncritically embraces those who show the least regard for [those traditions].”

This must come as a shock to all those who have lived under U.S.-backed dictatorships past and present. The truth is that U.S. foreign policy has always involved overthrowing democratically elected governments and propping up brutal dictatorships.

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IN HER 1979 essay “Dictatorships and Double Standards,” Jeane Kirkpatrick, a future Reagan administration adviser and U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, attempted to articulate what had always been dominant ruling class opinion in the U.S.:

[Dictatorships] do not disturb the habitual rhythms of work and leisure, habitual places of residence, habitual patterns of family and personal relations. Because the miseries of traditional life are familiar, they are bearable to ordinary people who, growing up in the society, learn to cope…

[Revolutionary regimes] claim jurisdiction over the whole life of the society and make demands for change that so violate internalized values and habits that inhabitants flee by the tens of thousands.

Kirkpatrick concluded that the U.S. should encourage democracy in dictatorial regimes only if it would not lead to the threat of revolution; where that threat exists, it is necessary to support violence, terror and dictatorship.

This opinion was hardly new–it simply articulated the U.S. foreign policy practice of the 20th century.

In response to the Russian Revolution of October 1917–an event in which the majority of Russian workers and peasants put an end to the mass killing of the First World War–President Woodrow Wilson ordered U.S. troops to join invading forces from Great Britain and France.

Their mission was to kill and maim as many Russian workers and peasants as possible and eventually starve the population to death. At the height of the mass murder in December 1919, Wilson announced: “Let those beware who would take the shorter road of disorder and revolution.”

During the Second World War, Harry Truman, who was then a senator, but would later become president, said: “If we see that Germany is winning, we ought to help Russia, and if Russia is winning, we ought to help Germany, and that way, let them kill as many as possible.” At home, the war effort was used by President Franklin Roosevelt to ban the right to strike and violently suppress those who did not obey.

After hundreds of thousands of workers overthrew Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime in the north of Italy at the end of the war, the U.S. State Department ensured that the police, courts, military and civil service in the South remained in the control of former Mussolini supporters. They were seen as reliable figures as a workers’ revolution became an imminent threat.

The U.S. would go on to help Greek military generals and conservative politicians, with the support of fascist paramilitary gangs, systematically murder hundreds of thousands of unionists, Communist Party members and anti-fascist sympathizers during the Greek Civil War.

And during the Arab revolutions of 2011, the Obama administration maintained support for pro-U.S. dictators until it seemed no longer possible to do so. Obama called on Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak to step down, only to support Gen. Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi’s military coup in 2013. As el-Sisi’s regime became increasingly repressive, the Obama administration increased the supply of money and weapons to him.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

THE U.S. ruling class frequently expresses admiration for anti-democratic practices and dictators.

For example, the response of every leading newspaper to the Russian Revolution was horror and dismay. In November 1917, the editorial of the Washington Evening Star bemoaned: “It is a new revolution. The most serious aspect of the situation is that the new power in Russia declares for ‘an immediate just peace.'”

Their tune changed, however, at the height of Stalin’s forced industrialization. This resulted in the rollback of material gains achieved by workers during the revolution. The New York Times drew a positive comparison between U.S. business practices and Stalin’s ideas: “Improvement of the organization of labor in industry in order to distribute the proper strength among factories and to end ‘irresponsible’ methods.”

Mussolini’s U.S. admirers ranged from the mainstream media to Presidents Hoover and Roosevelt. After his regime had overturned all democratic institutions, and jailed and murdered hundreds of thousands of trade unionists, socialists and communists, U.S. media tycoon William Randolph Hearst wrote: “Mussolini is a man that I have always greatly admired, not only because of his astonishing ability, but because of his public service.”

When Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet died in 2006, the Washington Post editorial board hailed “the free-market policies that produced the Chilean economic miracle.” Pinochet had seized power in 1973 through a military coup and murdered tens of thousands of trade unionists and political opponents under his rule.

When a right-wing coup momentarily removed Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez in 2002, the editorial board of the New York Times hailed it as “a victory for democracy.” Chávez had been democratically elected and enjoyed overwhelming support from workers and the poor.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had this to say about murderous Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak not long before he was overthrown: “I really consider president and Mrs. Mubarak to be friends of my family”. After the coup of 2013, Clinton’s successor John Kerry hailed Sisi for “restoring democracy.”

While Obama refused to meet with Sisi, he had no qualms when it came to Saudi King Abdullah. After the latter’s death in 2015, Obama canceled all his appointments to attend the funeral, at which he eulogized the dictator’s achievements: “At home, King Abdullah’s vision was dedicated to the education of his people and to greater engagement with the world.” This was in reference to a despot who routinely beheaded dissidents and denied women basic democratic rights.

Lenin described well the hypocrisy of such politicians and their media shills, who mouth democratic rhetoric while supporting barbarity:

All your talk about freedom and democracy is sheer claptrap, parrot phrases, fashionable twaddle or hypocrisy. It is just a painted signboard. And you yourselves are whited sepulchers. You are mean-spirited boors, and your education, culture and enlightenment are only a species of thoroughgoing prostitution.

For the U.S. ruling class, the lie that they are committed to spreading freedom and democracy throughout the world helps legitimize the barbarity of imperialism. A whole network of institutions exists to reproduce this fiction daily–elected representatives, policy “experts,” administrators, advisers, journalists, etc. From the editorial board of the New York Times to the halls of the State Department, this is a narrative that they tell the world to justify their position as arbiter of the behavior of other populations.

When Trump doesn’t stick to that narrative, the fiction starts to break down. The problem is not that Trump is embracing dictators–Obama did that as well. The problem is that Trump openly embraces despots precisely because of their authoritarianism.

First published at Red Flag.

https://socialistworker.org/2017/06/07/washingtons-love-affair-with-tyrants

Understanding the geopolitics of terrorism

8 June 2017

The latest in a long series of bloody terrorist attacks attributed to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) unfolded in Iran early Wednesday with coordinated armed assaults on the Iranian Parliament (Majlis) and the mausoleum of the late supreme leader of the Islamic Republic, Imam Khomeini. At least 12 people were killed and 43 wounded.

The reactions of the US government and the Western media to the attacks in Tehran stand in stark contrast to their response to the May 22 bombing that killed 22 people at the Manchester Arena and the London Bridge attacks that claimed nine lives last Saturday.

The Trump White House released a vicious statement that effectively justified the killings in Iran, declaring, “We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote,” an attitude that found its reflection in the relative indifference of the media to the loss of Iranian lives. It is clearly understood that terrorism against Iran serves definite political aims that are in sync with those of US imperialism and its regional allies.

For its part, Tehran’s reaction to the attacks was unambiguous. It laid the responsibility at the door of the US and its principal regional ally, Saudi Arabia. “This terrorist attack happened only a week after the meeting between the US president (Donald Trump) and the (Saudi) backward leaders who support terrorists,” Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) said in a statement, published by Iranian media. The attack was understood in Tehran as a political act carried out in conjunction with identifiable state actors and aimed at furthering definite geostrategic objectives.

The same can be said of the earlier acts of terrorism carried out in Manchester and London, as well as those in Paris, Brussels and elsewhere before them.

The Western media routinely treats each of these atrocities as isolated manifestations of “evil” or religious hatred, irrational acts carried out by madmen. In reality, they are part of an internationally coordinated campaign in pursuit of definite political objectives.

Underlying the violence on the streets of Europe is the far greater violence inflicted upon the Middle East by US, British and French imperialism, working in conjunction with right-wing bourgeois regimes and the Islamist forces they promote, finance and arm.

ISIS is itself the direct product of a series of imperialist wars, emerging as a split-off from Al Qaeda, which got its start in the CIA-orchestrated war by Islamist fundamentalists against the Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan. It was forged in the US war of aggression against Iraq that killed close to a million Iraqis, and then utilized in the 2011 war to topple Libya’s leader Muammar Gaddafi. Fighters and arms were then funneled with the aid of the CIA into the war for regime change in Syria.

The latest round of terror has its source in growing dissatisfaction among Washington’s Middle Eastern allies and its Islamist proxy forces over the slow pace of the US intervention in Syria and Washington’s failure to bring the six-year war for regime change to a victorious conclusion.

The people giving the orders for these attacks live in upper-class neighborhoods in London, Paris and elsewhere, enjoying close connections with intelligence agencies and government officials. Far from being unknown, they will be found among the top ministers and government officials in Damascus if the US-backed war in Syria achieves its objectives.

Those who carry out the terrorist atrocities are expendable assets, foot soldiers who are easily replaced from among the broad layers enraged by the slaughter carried out by imperialism in the Middle East.

The mass media always presents the failure to prevent these attacks as a matter of the security forces failing to “connect the dots,” a phrase that should by now be permanently banned. In virtually every case, those involved are well known to the authorities.

In the latest attacks in the UK, the connections are astonishing, even given the similar facts that have emerged in previous terrorist actions. One of the attackers in the London Bridge killings, Yousseff Zaghba, was stopped at an Italian airport while attempting to travel to Syria, freely admitting that he “wanted to be a terrorist” and carrying ISIS literature. Another was featured in a British television documentary that chronicled his confrontation with and detention by police after he unfurled an ISIS flag in Regent’s Park.

The Manchester suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, was likewise well known to British authorities. His parents were members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), who were allowed to return to Libya in 2011 to participate in the US-NATO regime-change operation against Muammar Gaddafi. He himself met with Libyan Islamic State operatives in Libya, veterans of the Syrian civil war, and maintained close connections with them while in Manchester.

What has become clear after 16 years of the so-called “war on terrorism”—going all the way back to the hijackers of 9/11—is that these elements move in and out of the Middle East, Europe and the US itself not only without hindrance, but under what amounts to state protection.

When they arrive at passport control, their names come up with definite instructions that they are not to be stopped. “Welcome home, sir, enjoy your vacation in Libya?” “Bit of tourism in Syria?”

Why have they enjoyed this carte blanche? Because they are auxiliaries of US and European intelligence, necessary proxies in wars for regime change from Libya to Syria and beyond that are being waged to further imperialist interests.

If from time to time these elements turn against their sponsors, with innocent civilians paying with their lives, that is part of the price of doing business.

In the aftermath of terrorist actions, governments respond with stepped-up measures of repression and surveillance. Troops are deployed in the streets, democratic rights are suspended, and, as in France, a state of emergency is made the overriding law of the land. All of these measures are useless in terms of preventing future attacks, but serve very well to control the domestic population and suppress social unrest.

If the mass media refuses to state what has become obvious after more than a decade and a half of these incidents, it is a measure of how fully the linkage between terrorism, the Western intelligence agencies and the unending wars in the Middle East has become institutionalized.

Innocent men, women and children, whether in London, Manchester, Paris, Tehran, Baghdad or Kabul, are paying the terrible price for these imperialist operations, which leave a trail of blood and destruction everywhere.

Putting a stop to terrorist attacks begins with a fight to put an end to the so-called “war on terrorism,” the fraudulent pretext for predatory wars in which Al Qaeda and its offshoots are employed as proxy ground forces, operating in intimate collaboration with imperialist intelligence services and military commands.

Bill Van Auken

 

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/06/08/pers-j08.html

Can Trump Salvage His Presidency in Syria’s War?

The political noose is tightening around Trump’s neck, and he’s got only one way out: war. The U.S. involvement in the Syrian war is accelerating as Trump’s talons dig deeper into the conflict.  If he successfully clutches his prey he stands a chance of clinging to the presidency.

The Democrats, now circling a wounded Trump, will happily feast instead on a rotting Syria: the only thing that can keep the Democrats from destroying Trump is if Trump destroys Syria.

Trump’s strategy is based on how Democrats reacted after his first attack on the Syrian government on April 6th: they paused their toothless “resistance” to celebrate his bombing. Trump, at his most dangerous, exposed the Democrats at their weakest.

Now Trump has struck the Syrian government again: on May 18th U.S. fighter jets attacked the Syrian military in Eastern Syria, from a new U.S. military base functioning inside Syrian territory controlled by the Syrian Kurds, where there are at least 1,000 U.S. active troops.

Although the U.S. media underplayed Trump’s recent attack —— or ignored it completely — legendary U.K. Middle East journalist Robert Fisk explained the significance:

“…what was described by the Americans as a minor action was part of a far more important struggle between the US and the Syrian regime for control of the south-eastern frontier of Syria…”

Yes, the U.S. is already at war with the Syrian government for control of Syrian territory. The U.S. war on ISIS in Syria was never about ISIS, but about gaining a foothold directly inside Syria. Many pundits dismissed Trump’s initial attack on the Syrian government as “symbolic,” when in fact it began a new war. The New York Times confirms the motive of Trump’s war:

“Two competing coalitions that aim to defeat the Islamic State — one [Kurdish and U.S. fighters] backed by American air power, the other [the Syrian government] by Russian warplanes — are racing to the same goal.”

What is this goal?

“…[there is an] urgency among the competing coalitions fighting the Islamic State to be the first in southeast Syria to defeat the group [ISIS] and to occupy the power vacuum that its defeat would leave….Eastern Syria and the area around Deir al-Zour are mostly unpopulated desert, but they have Syria’s modest oil reserves…The area is strategically important to the United States, which wants to stabilize Iraq where it has a long-term military and political investment, and to Russia, which wants to strengthen the Syrian government’s control of as much territory as possible.”

In summary: the U.S. military wants to “occupy” the “power vacuum” left by ISIS, because Syrian territory is “strategically important” to the United States.

The war isn’t about ISIS because the U.S. military isn’t needed to defeat ISIS in Syria, since the group was doomed the day that Turkey decided to close ranks against them — by sealing their border with Syria — instead of openly supporting them as they had for several years.

Consequently, the Syrian government — with Russian and Iranian support — has no problem mopping up ISIS in Syria, and they’re racing to do it first before the U.S.-Kurdish alliance claims the territory for itself.

Establishment Democrats are cheer-leading Trump’s war goals in private, which is why they’re not denouncing them in public.  The Democrat-friendly New York Times published a revealing op-ed entitled “A Trump Doctrine for the Middle East?” In it the writer applauds Trump’s war aims:

“Despite the controversies at home, Mr. Trump may come away with a legacy-cementing achievement: a Trump Doctrine for the Middle East…it is false that American ‘soft power’ is the key to stabilizing the [middle east] region. Our ideals, such as promoting democracy, will work to our advantage only if we first restore order — a project that rests on American hard power [military intervention]. What’s more, the use of force is not inherently counterproductive…”

The article explains that Obama’s “soft power” (the Syrian proxy war) failed and that Trump aims to “restore order” with “hard power” (direct military intervention). As Trump’s bombs fall heavier Democrats will scramble to support a wider war that, crazily, increasingly threatens direct confrontation with Russia.  The Russian government loudly denounced Trump’s most recent bombing against the Syrian government, and sent more Russian troops to the region in response.

The U.S. war against ISIS in Syria has always been a pretext to undermine the Syrian and Iranian governments. Robert Fisk explains:

“Cutting Syria off from Iraq – and thus from Iran – appears to be a far more immediate operational aim of US forces in Syria than the elimination of the [ISIS] Sunni ‘Caliphate’ cult that Washington claims to be its principal enemy in the Middle East.”

How might this “race to defeat ISIS” end? Trump’s ominous trip to Saudi Arabia gives some insight into the Trump Doctrine. Trump made an enormous arms deal with Saudi Arabia worth $350 billion over 10 years, and wants the Saudis to use the money to co-lead an “Arab NATO” [military alliance]. Who will this alliance be aimed against? The Trump administration made it known that Iran was the main target, and thus Syria is the appetizer.

In a separate article Robert Fisk discussed Trump’s Saudi visit:

“The aim, however, is simple: to prepare the Sunni Muslims [the gulf monarchy U.S. allies and others] of the Middle East for war against the Shia Muslims [Iran, Syria, Hezbollah]. With help from Israel, of course.”

This is the real reason Trump prioritized Saudi Arabia as the always-important first stop on his initial trip abroad: Trump is clearly stating his commitment to the totalitarian monarchies, who main priorities are the destruction of its regional enemies:  Yemen, Syria, and Iran.

This “Arab NATO” is meant to act as a U.S. puppet army in the way that ‘official’ NATO does in Europe,  and the African Union’s “Standby Force” does in Africa, where U.S. allies share the responsibility of repressing neighbor states who defy U.S. interests, i.e. they refuse to abandon their political-economic self determination.

A U.S.-led “Arab NATO” wasn’t previously impossible because the U.S. is universally hated across the Middle East, for its longstanding alliance with Israel combined with its recent annihilation of Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. The openness in which the Gulf monarchies are trying to form this alliance shows just how distanced from and hated by their own residents, who are prevented from expressing their hatred through elections or public protest.

The Trump-led alliance is especially foreboding because U.S. allies in the region feel deeply betrayed by Obama’s Middle East approach; they want concrete assurances the betrayal won’t be repeated, since U.S. allies risked a lot in regime change in Syria after Obama ensured them that regime change would be a safe bet.  Trump’s visit means, in practice, a fresh commitment to Assad’s downfall and renewed hostilities with Iran, nuclear deal be damned.

Trump’s current war strategy in Syria is similar to President Bush Sr.’s experiment in Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War: he used a no-fly zone in Kurdish-majority northern Iraq that de-facto partitioned the country, allowing the Kurds to take power where they remain in power today, as an important U.S. puppet. The partitioning of Iraq helped weaken the country prior to the 2003 U.S. invasion.

The Syrian Kurds are now being armed with U.S. weaponry and given similar promises as their Iraqi counterparts received, but the Syrian Kurds are rightfully nervous about their new alliance.

In their desperate fight against ISIS the Kurds have accepted an alliance with the world’s military superpower: the Kurdish homeland is infested with rats and they invited a tiger to deal with the problem; but once the rats are dead the tiger will stay hungry.  The Kurds also live next to another starving Tiger, the Turkish Government.

The history of the Kurds is one of constant betrayals by larger powers. And now they are pleading on the pages of The New York Times not to be betrayed again, since they see the writing on the wall:

“…[President Trump] give us your word that even after Raqqa’s liberation [in Syria] you will prevent attempts by Turkey to destroy what we’ve built here.”

Of course Trump’s “word” is meaningless (and even this he won’t give publicly). The Kurds are being used as battlefield pawns in a greater game. As Trump aligns with the Kurds in Syria, he simultaneously calls the Turkish Kurds “terrorists,” even though the Turkish and Syrian Kurds are closely aligned ideologically and militarily.

Like all “boots on the ground,” the Kurds are most useful to the U.S. as cannon fodder, while more powerful people profit from the fighting. The political power of the Kurds pales in comparison to their enemy Turkey, whose government has long-term interests (the destruction of the Kurds) that will outlast the short-term military objectives Trump.

The above contradictions are sharpening across the Middle East, nearing the point of yet another explosion. The Trump Doctrine is a flamethrower at a gas station that can instantly spark an even greater conflagration, beyond the horrors we’ve already witnessed across the Middle East. If the Trump resistance movement in the United States doesn’t quickly prioritize a real anti war strategy, there will be little resistance left to speak of as we descend into war.

Leaked Clinton email admits Saudi, Qatari government funding of ISIS in Syria

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By Bill Van Auken
12 October 2016

An email exchange between Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her campaign manager John Podesta, posted Monday by WikiLeaks, frankly acknowledges that the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) is funded and supported by Washington’s chief allies in the Arab world.

The September 2014 exchange was contained in one of the 2,086 documents posted by WikiLeaks Monday, following up on the release a week ago of over 2,000 more of Podesta’s emails and attachments.

At the time of the exchange on ISIS, Podesta was a White House counselor to President Barack Obama. One of the most powerful figures in the Democratic Party establishment, he is the former White House chief of staff to Bill Clinton, the former chairman of the Obama transition and a corporate lobbyist for corporations like WalMart, BP and Lockheed Martin. For her part, Clinton had left her post as secretary of state over a year earlier.

The email acknowledges that the sources for the assessment of the Saudi and Qatari support for ISIS “include Western intelligence, US intelligence and sources in the region.”

The document calls for increased reliance upon the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga as a key proxy force for combating ISIS in Iraq, pointing to the Kurdish militia’s “long standing relationships with CIA officers and Special Forces operators.”

It adds: “While this military/para-military operation is moving forward, we need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL [ISIS] and other radical Sunni groups in the region.”

The email continues: “This effort will be enhanced by the stepped up commitment in the [Kurdish Regional Government]. The Qataris and Saudis will be put in a position of balancing policy between their ongoing competition to dominate the Sunni world and the consequences of serious US pressure.”

The Obama administration has publicly embraced Saudi Arabia as its closest Arab ally and the ostensible leader of an “Islamic alliance” against terrorism. The Saudi regime is the patron of the High Negotiations Committee (HNC), which purportedly represents the so-called “moderate” opposition that is also supported by Washington in the more than five-year-old war for regime change against the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Officially, the US administration has maintained that, while wealthy individuals in Saudi Arabia and Qatar had helped finance ISIS, the despotic governments of these oil monarchies were blameless.

This pretense was blown in October 2014, barely a week after the Podesta-Clinton email, when Vice President Joe Biden told an audience at Harvard University that the Saudi regime, along with other Gulf sheikdoms and Turkey, had “poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad. Except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.”

“We could not convince our colleagues to stop supplying them,” Biden added.

The US State Department subsequently “clarified” the vice president’s remarks and Biden himself apologized for “any implication that Turkey or other Allies and partners in the region had intentionally supplied or facilitated the growth of ISIL [ISIS] or other violent extremists in Syria.”

The contents of the Clinton-Podesta email are supplemented by a separate email released by WikiLeaks that includes an excerpt from a secret speech delivered by Clinton in 2013 that was flagged as problematic by her staff. In it she claimed that US attempts to “vet, identify, train and arm cadres of rebels” in Syria had been “complicated by the fact that the Saudis and others are shipping large amounts of weapons–and pretty indiscriminately–not at all targeted toward the people that we think would be the more moderate, least likely, to cause problems in the future.”

And previously, WikiLeaks posted a secret State Department memo signed by Clinton in 2009 that affirmed: “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qa’ida, the Taliban, LeT, and other terrorist groups.”

The Clinton camp has responded to the latest release of emails by ratcheting up its virulently anti-Russian campaign, claiming that WikiLeaks was acting as a pawn of the Kremlin and that the material released may have been altered to serve Moscow’s foreign policy purposes.

In her debate Sunday with her Republican rival Donald Trump, however, Clinton herself acknowledged the authenticity of the documents, attempting to defend a statement quoted in one of them from a speech to real estate investors in which she declared that in politics “you need both a public and private position.” She claimed that her inspiration for this approach was Abraham Lincoln.

The method of the “public and private” position is clearly in force in relation to Saudi Arabia, and for good reason.

Saudi Arabia remains a key pillar of political reaction and imperialist domination in the Middle East, with its ruling monarchy constituting the world’s chief customer of the American arms industry. Some $115 billion in US weapons and military support have poured into the kingdom since Obama took office in 2009.

More importantly, the Saudi government support for Al Qaeda, ISIS and similar Islamist militias has developed in close collaboration with the CIA, which coordinated the flow of arms, money and foreign fighters into Syria from a station in southern Turkey.

Moreover, such collaboration began long before the Syrian civil war, dating back to the US-orchestrated war against the Soviet-backed regime in Afghanistan in the 1980s, where Al Qaeda got its start under the leadership of Osama bin Laden, who collaborated closely with the CIA and Pakistani intelligence.

The determination of the US ruling establishment to maintain a veil of secrecy over this collaboration was underscored by Obama’s veto–subsequently overridden–of legislation allowing Americans to sue foreign governments alleged to be responsible for terrorist attacks in the US. The clear target of the bill was Saudi Arabia, based on ample evidence of Saudi government involvement in the September 11, 2001 attacks that claimed nearly 3,000 lives.

The overriding fear within the administration and US ruling circles is that any serious probing of the Saudi role in these attacks would uncover the complicity of elements within the US intelligence agencies themselves in the events of 9/11.

Another significant element of the Clinton-Podesta email is its welcoming of the ISIS 2014 offensive in Iraq. It states that “the advance of ISIL [ISIS] through Iraq gives the U.S. Government an opportunity to change the way it deals with the chaotic security situation in North Africa and the Middle East. The most important factor in this matter is to make use of intelligence resources and Special Operations troops in an aggressive manner.”

In other words, ISIS provided a pretext for launching a renewed US military intervention aimed at furthering the strategic goal of American hegemony in the Middle East under the guise of a struggle against terrorism.

The email exchange further exposes Hillary Clinton’s deep involvement in all of these crimes.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2016/10/12/wiki-o12.html

Hillary and the War Party

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You haven’t heard much from the Democrats lately about foreign policy or global agendas – indeed virtually nothing at the Philadelphia convention and little worthy of mention along the campaign trail. Hillary Clinton’s many liberal (and sadly, progressive) supporters routinely steer away from anything related to foreign policy, talk, talk, talking instead about the candidate’s “experience”, with obligatory nods toward her enlightened social programs.   There is only the ritual demonization of that fearsome dictator, Vladimir Putin, reputedly on the verge of invading some hapless European country.   Even Bernie Sanders’ sorry endorsement of his erstwhile enemy, not long ago denounced as a tool of Wall Street, had nothing to say about global issues.   But no one should be fooled: a Clinton presidency, which seems more likely by the day, can be expected to stoke a resurgent U.S. imperialism, bringing new cycles of militarism and war. The silence is illusory: Clintonites, now as before, are truly obsessed with international politics.

A triumphant Hillary, more “rational” and “savvy” than the looney and unpredictable Donald Trump, could well have a freer path to emboldened superpower moves not only in Europe but the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Pacific. While the candidate has not revealed much lately, she is on record as vowing to “stand up” to Russia and China, face off against Russian “aggression”, escalate the war on terror, and militarily annihilate Iran the moment it steps out of line (or is determined by “U.S. intelligence” to have stepped out of line) in its nuclear agreement with global powers.   Under Clinton, the Democrats might well be better positioned to recharge their historical legacy as War Party. One of the great political myths (and there are many) is that American liberals are inclined toward a less belligerent foreign policy than Republicans, are less militaristic and more favorable toward “diplomacy”. References to Woodrow Wilson in World War I and Mexico, Harry Truman in Korea, JFK and LBJ in Indochina, Bill Clinton in the Balkans, and of course Barack Obama in Afghanistan (eight years of futile warfare), Libya (also “Hillary’s War”), and scattered operations across the Middle East and North Africa should be enough to dispel such nonsense. (As for FDR and World War II, I have written extensively that the Pearl Harbor attacks were deliberately provoked by U.S. actions in the Pacific – but that is a more complicated story.)

In something of a political twist, the “deranged” Trump candidacy – with its almost daily flow of bizarre utterances and proposals – actually serves Clinton’s neoliberal/neocon mission nicely, providing a foil to her outwardly more sane persona. Trump, of course, is far too irrational, too narcissistic, too unstable to assume the role of Commander-in-Chief. Who knows what might happen once his shaky hands get near the “nuclear trigger”? Worse yet, here is a bona fide challenger for the White House who has reportedly cozied up to that imperialist dictator, that great enemy of national sovereignty, Putin!   No need for any discussion or debate here. It follows that Hillary will be more reliable (even if more “untrustworthy”), more in command – clearly the best option to manage imperial affairs. Why else would all those neocons and Republican super-hawks be so happy to sign on to the Clintonite project.   The alliance of Hillary and foreign-policy hard-liners has, however, scarcely dampened the enthusiasm of her phalanx of liberal and progressive boosters, who endlessly talk, talk, talk about her amazing “pragmatism”, her ability to “get things done”. (That she can “get things done” in the realm of foreign policy is beyond question.)

A new Clinton presidency can be expected to further boost the U.S./NATO drive to strangle and isolate Russia, which means aggravated “crises” in Ukraine and worrisome encounters with a rival military power in a region saturated with (tactical, “usable”) nuclear weapons.   Regime change in Syria?   Hillary has indeed strongly pushed for that self-defeating act of war, combined with an illegal and provocative no-fly zone — having learned nothing from the extreme chaos and violence she did so much to unleash in Libya as Secretary of State. There are currently no visible signs she would exit the protracted and criminal war in Afghanistan, a rich source of blowback (alongside Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Israel). Increased aerial bombardments against ISIS in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and elsewhere? More deployments of American troops on the ground?   Such ventures, with potentially others on the horizon, amount to elaborate recipes for more blowback, followed by more anti-terror hysteria, followed by more interventions. Uncompromising economic, diplomatic, and military support of Israeli atrocities in Palestine?   Aggressive pursuit of the seriously mistaken “Asian Pivot”, strategy, a revitalized effort to subvert Chinese economic and military power – one of Clinton’s own special crusades? No wonder the Paul Wolfowitzes and Robert Kagans are delighted to join the Hillary camp.

No wonder, too, that billionaire super-hawk Haim Saban has pledged to spend whatever is needed to get the Clintons back into the White House, convinced her presidency will do anything to maintain Palestinian colonial subjugation. Meeting with Saban in July, Hillary again promised to “oppose any effort to delegitimate Israel, including at the United Nations or through the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement.” She backs legislative efforts begun in several states to silence and blacklist people working on behalf of Palestinian rights. For this her celebrated “pragmatism” could work quite effectively.

Democratic elites say little publicly about these and other imperial priorities, preferring familiar homilies such as “bringing jobs back” (not going to happen) and “healing the country” (not going to happen).   Silence appears to function exquisitely in a political culture where open and vigorous debate on foreign-policy is largely taboo and elite discourse rarely surpasses the level of banal platitudes.   And Hillary’s worshipful liberal and progressive backers routinely follow the script (or non-script) while fear-mongering about how a Trump presidency will destroy the country (now that the Sanders threat has vanished).

Amidst the turmoil Trump has oddly surfaced to the left of Clinton on several key global issues: cooperating instead of fighting with the Russians, keeping alive a sharp criticism of the Iraq war and the sustained regional chaos and blowback it generated, ramping down enthusiasm for more wars in the Middle East, junking “free trade” agreements, willingness to rethink the outmoded NATO alliance. If Trump, however haphazardly, manages to grasp the historical dynamics of blowback, the Clinton camp remains either indifferent or clueless, still ready for new armed ventures – cynically marketed, as in the Balkans, Iraq, and Libya, on the moral imperative of defeating some unspeakable evil, usually a “new Hitler” waging a “new genocide”. Who needs to be reminded that Hillary’s domestic promises, such as they are, will become null and void once urgent global “crises” take precedence?   The Pentagon, after all, always comes first.

Trump is of course no great bargain, a combative warrior looking to slay dragons lurking about in a dark, menacing world – something of a high-level Rambo figure – and this he happily and repeatedly advertises. Like the mythic Rambo, he is also an uncontrollable maverick, eccentric, prone to hare-brained “solutions” — much to the dismay of even Republican officialdom. And he is emphatically and unapologetically Islamophobic.   At the other extreme, Clinton emerges in the media as the most “rational” and “even-tempered” of candidates, ideally suited to carry out the necessary imperial agendas. A tiresome mainstream narrative is that Hillary is “one of the best prepared and most knowledgeable candidates ever to seek the presidency.” And she is smart, very smart – whatever her flaws.   All the better to follow in the long history of Democrats proficient at showing the world who is boss.  The media, for its part, adores these Democrats, another reason Trump appears to have diminished chances of winning. Further, the well-funded and tightly-organized Clinton machine can count on somewhat large majorities of women, blacks, and Hispanics, not only for the march to the White House but, more ominously, to go along with the War Party’s imperial spectacle of the day. Most anything – war, regime change, bombing raids, drone strikes, treaty violations, JFK-style “standoffs” – can escape political scrutiny if carried out by “humanitarian”, peace-loving Democrats.  Bill Clinton’s war to fight “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing” in the Balkans, cover for just another U.S./NATO geopolitical maneuver, constitutes the perfect template here.

There is a special logic to the Clintonites’ explosive mixture of neoliberalism and militarism. They, like all corporate Democrats, are fully aligned with some of the most powerful interests in the world: Wall Street, the war economy, fossil fuels, Big Pharma, the Israel Lobby. They also have intimate ties to reactionary global forces – the neofascist regime in Ukraine, Israel, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf states. Against this corporatist and imperialist backdrop, the “deluded” and “unhinged” Trump becomes far too unreliable for entrance to the Oval Office; he could too easily bungle the job of managing U.S. global supremacy. In March 121 members of the Republican “national security community”, including the warmongers Wolfowitz, Robert Kagan, and Brent Scowcroft, signed a public letter condemning Trump for not being sufficiently dedicated to American (also Israeli?) interests. Trump compounded his predicament by stubbornly refusing to pay homage to the “experts” – the same foreign-policy geniuses who helped orchestrate the Iraq debacle. A more recent (and more urgent) letter with roughly the same message has made its way into the public sphere.   Predictably, Trump’s “unreliability” to oversee American global objectives has been an ongoing motif at CNN, theNew York Times, the Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal.

Returning to the political carneval that was the Democratic convention, amidst all the non-stop flag-waving and shouts of “USA!” Hillary made what she thought would be an inspiring reference to Jackie Kennedy, speaking on the eve of her husband’s (1961) ascent to the White House. Jackie was reported as saying “that what worried President Kennedy during that very dangerous time was that a war might be started – not by men with self-control and restraint, but by little men, the ones moved by fear and pride.”   We can surmise that JFK was one of those “big men” governed by “restraint”.   History shows, however, that Jackie’s esteemed husband was architect of probably the worst episode of international barbarism in U.S. history – the Vietnam War, with its unfathomable death and destruction – coming at a time of the Big Man’s botched CIA-led invasion of Cuba and followed closely by the Cuban Missile Crisis, where the Big Man’s “restraint” brought the world frighteningly close to nuclear catastrophe. As for “fear” and “pride” – nothing permeates JFK’s biography of that period more than those two psychological obsessions.

Could it be that Hillary Clinton, however unwittingly, was at this epic moment – her breakthrough nomination – revealing nothing so much as her own deeply-imperialist mind-set?

Carl Boggs is the author of The Hollywood War Machine, with Tom Pollard (second edition, forthcoming), and Drugs, Power, and Politics, both published by Paradigm.   

Hillary and the War Party

The 9/11 cover-up continues

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3 May 2016

Speaking Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” talk show, Central Intelligence Agency Director John Brennan categorically denied the involvement of Saudi Arabia in the September 11 terror attacks, while demanding that documents pointing to its complicity remain hidden from the American people.

Brennan was referring to 28 pages of the joint congressional inquiry report on the attacks, completed in 2002. The section on Saudi involvement has been kept secret for 14 years, despite calls from some sections of the US political establishment for their release.

The statements of Brennan, who wields enormous power as the head of the Obama administration’s CIA and is personally implicated in countless crimes of the state, are intended to intimidate and threaten anyone who questions the official cover-up of the 9/11 attacks. The White House itself has also opposed legislation that would mandate the release of the documents.

Brennan sought to paint the section of the report on Saudi Arabia as “inaccurate,” declaring without substantiation that subsequent investigations found that there is “no evidence that indicated that the Saudi government as an institution, or Saudi officials individually, had provided financial support for the 9/11 attacks.”

While acknowledging that the documents “point to Saudi involvement,” he nevertheless claimed that the reports were “uncorroborated, un-vetted, and basically just a collation of this information that came out of FBI files.”

He added, “I think some people may seize upon” this information to conclude that Saudi Arabia was involved, “which I think would be very, very inaccurate.” At the same time, he argued that the documents were being kept hidden because of the “sensitive methods” and “investigative action” used in collecting them.

These self-contradictory statements reek of a cover-up, and are refuted by what is already publicly known about the extent of Saudi Arabia’s involvement.

The evidence of Saudi involvement includes the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals and several of them received financing from Saudi officials. Moreover, Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person convicted of participation in the plot to hijack airplanes and fly them into the World Trade Center and other US targets, has testified in court that he worked as a courier between Osama bin Laden and the Saudi royal family, including Prince Salman, who is today the King of Saudi Arabia.

Moussaoui also asserted that high-level Saudi officials and members of the Saudi royal family, including Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the long-time Saudi ambassador to Washington, directly financed Al Qaeda.

Democratic Senator Robert Graham, co-chair of the Joint Congressional inquiry into the 9/11 terrorist attacks, said earlier this year that there is “a pervasive pattern of covering up the role of Saudi Arabia in 9/11, by all of the agencies of the federal government, which have access to information that might illuminate Saudi Arabia’s role in 9/11.”

At issue is not only the role of Saudi Arabia, but of sections of the US state. Brennan’s statements are clearly dictated by fears that exposure of Saudi Arabia’s relationship with the hijackers would shed light on the involvement of US intelligence agencies themselves in the events of 9/11. After all, the CIA has had long-standing and close ties with its counterparts in Saudi Arabia. The 9/11 hijackers, despite being under surveillance, were able to freely travel in and out of the country and attend flight schools, despite repeated warnings from other countries and from individuals within US intelligence.

“We have a very strong relationship with Saudi Arabia,” including “intelligence,” Brennan said in his interview, adding, “I have very close relations with my Saudi counterparts.” In addition to being the largest customer of the US military-industrial complex, having purchased over $100 billion in weapons from the US, Saudi Arabia has been the nexus for every clandestine and criminal alliance between the United States and Islamist forces for nearly four decades.

Under the CIA’s Operation Cyclone, conducted between 1979 and 1989, the United States and Saudi Arabia provided $40 billion worth of financial aid and weapons to the mujahedeen “freedom fighters” waging war against Soviet forces in Afghanistan, an operation in which then-US ally Osama bin Laden played a key role. The proxy war in Afghanistan was pivotal in the later creation of Al Qaeda.

More recently, Saudi Arabia has been a key player, along with Turkey and Qatar, in funneling US money and weapons to Islamic fundamentalist groups in Syria beginning in 2011 as part of the civil war targeting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The entire narrative of the “war on terror,” rests on the claim that the September 11 attacks were masterminded by a single man, Osama bin Laden, and the policy of the state—under first Bush and then Obama—has been guided by the overriding aim of preventing another attack.

The truth about what happened on September 11 cannot be told because it would expose as a lie the official account of an event that has been used as the catch-all pretext by the American ruling class at home and abroad. On the basis of the events of that day—and subsequent attacks that have followed a similar pattern—the US and other imperialist countries have waged a series of wars that have killed millions, while erecting the framework of a police state.

Fifteen years after the beginning of the war on terror, the American people still do not know the truth about what actually happened on 9/11. The tragic event, which directly cost the lives of nearly 3,000 people, remains shrouded in secrets and lies.

Andre Damon

 

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2016/05/03/pers-m03.html