Washington Escalates Intervention in Region-wide Middle East War
by Bill Van Auken - WSWS With nearly 600 Green Beret “advisors” and other US troops in or set to be sent to Iraq over the coming days, the Pentagon announced Friday that it is negotiating rules of engagement that the regime in Baghdad rejected two-and-a-half years ago, before the final pullout of the American military.
Key among these provisions, according to Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby, is blanket immunity from Iraqi or international law relating to the slaying of Iraqi civilians or other war crimes.
It was the refusal of the government headed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to accept such provisions in 2011 that scuttled negotiations on a status of forces agreement that would have kept some 10,000 US troops indefinitely deployed at a number of strategic Iraqi bases.
The Pentagon spokesman attempted to deflect suggestions that the Obama administration is exploiting the debacle in Iraq to blackmail the teetering regime headed by Maliki into submitting to US terms, thus paving the way for the permanent bases that Washington initially sought.
“What we were talking post-2011 was a fairly sizable force of American troops that would remain in Iraq for a long period of time,” Kirby said.
“What we are talking about here is a very small number, up to 300, whose mission will be of a limited duration.”
by Dave Lindorff - CounterPunch The rat, among mammals, is one of the most successful animals on the planet. Cunning, ruthless, competitive and above all adaptable — it is able to change its habits quickly as needed to accommodate the situation it finds itself in.
When it comes to foreign policy, the US government is swarming with rats.
Just look at the situation in Iraq. The US invaded the country in 2003, claiming it was a rogue nation that had, or was trying to develop, “weapons of mass destruction.” When it became clear that this was a lie, or at best, simply not true, the stated motive for the invasion was changed to “regime change,” and the goal became “bringing democracy to Iraq.”
“It is no longer plausible to argue that ISIS was a result of unintentional screw ups by the US. It is a clear part of a US strategy to break up the Iran-Iraq-Syria-Hezbollah alliance. Now that strategy may prove to be a total failure and end up backfiring, but make no mistake, ISIS IS the strategy.” - Lysander, Comments line, Moon of Alabama
“US imperialism has been the principal instigator of sectarianism in the region, from its divide-and-conquer strategy in the war and occupation in Iraq, to the fomenting of sectarian civil war to topple Assad in Syria. Its cynical support for Sunni Islamist insurgents in Syria, while backing a Shiite sectarian regime across the border in Iraq to suppress these very same forces, has brought the entire Middle East to what a United Nations panel on Syria warned Tuesday was the “cusp of a regional war.” - Bill Van Auken, Obama orders nearly 300 US troops to Iraq, World Socialist Web Site
Barack Obama is blackmailing Nouri al-Maliki by withholding military support until the Iraqi Prime Minister agrees to step down. In other words, we are mid-stream in another regime change operation authored by Washington. What’s different about this operation, is the fact that Obama is using a small army of jihadi terrorists –who have swept to within 50 miles of Baghdad–to hold the gun to Mr. al Maliki’s head. Not surprisingly, al Maliki has refused to cooperate which means the increasingly-tense situation could explode into a civil war. Here’s the scoop from the Guardian in an article aptly titled “Iraq’s Maliki: I won’t quit as condition of US strikes against Isis militants”:
“A spokesman for the Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, has said he will not stand down as a condition of US air strikes against Sunni militants who have made a lightning advance across the country.
Iraq’s foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari, on Wednesday made a public call on al-Arabiya television for the US to launch strikes, but Barack Obama has come under pressure from senior US politicians to persuade Maliki… to step down over what they see as failed leadership in the face of an insurgency…
Obviously, the White House can’t tell al Maliki to leave point-blank or it would affect their credibility as proponents of democracy. But the fix is definitely in and the administration’s plan to oust al Maliki is well underway.
Will ISIS Create al-Sham Caliphate & Liberate Palestine?
by Franklin Lamb - CounterPunch Ein el Helwe Palestine camp - One need not be prescient to understand the unfolding “Jihadi Spring” is fueling the plans and perhaps destiny of ascendant Islamists in this region with the increasing help of in-country nationalists, including remnants of the Iraqi Baath Party.
This, according to more than a dozen ardent supporters of The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), known locally as DAASH whose representatives allowed this observer over the past six months to interview some of its supporters to discuss what they found inaccurate in a piece I wrote about DAASH actions in Raqqa, Syria. In that article I claimed that DAASH was selling Syria’s archeological treasures, just as they are selling Syria’s oil and in some instances, food warehouse contents, to the highest foreign bidder. There is no paucity of the latter.
The final “S” in the acronym “ISIS” relates to the Arabic word “al-Sham” which itself is variously used to refer to the Levant, Syria or even Damascus. But DAASH (ISIS) means the Levant or Eastern Mediterranean including Cyprus, Palestine, Jordan, Syria, and southern Turkey. ISIS has just announced that Raqqa, the only one of 14 Governorates it controls in Syria, is now the “Capital” of their emerging “Caliphate” which so far is a swathe of territory encompassing much of eastern and northern Syria and western and northern Iraq.
The Emir is to be their military strategist and leader and successor of Abu Mus‘ab Zarqawi, Dr. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
China Might Be Winning The Race To Reduce Solar Costs
by Martin Tillier - Oilprice.com Many people, even fanatical advocates of solar power, are unaware quite how close we are to reaching a critical milestone in the industry. Within a fairly short space of time, solar generated electricity will be fully cost competitive with coal-powered electricity -- at least if the governments of the world's two largest energy consuming nations have their way.
Both the U.S. and China have a stated goal of reducing the cost of solar generated electricity to that level, and quickly. How they are going about it says a lot about how each economic system works.
In the U.S., despite the complaints of some that a drift toward government control is taking place, private initiative and free markets still rule.
Answering Monbiot's Ounce of Hope Worth a Ton of Despair
by Michael Major
The 18th century american revolution harnessed citizenship, personal freedom, can-do community empowerment, humane aspirations, open debate and a deep appreciation for the pervasive shared wonderment and democratizing influence of accessible and compulsory public education. But it also gave free rein to resourcism, environmental exploitation, capitalism and colonialism.
Environmentalism rightly finds its source and inspiration in appreciation of nature, the appreciation of complex natural systems and in the revolutionary values which animated our best characteristics in the last 200 years of search for a way to live in peace and comfort with the world, its species, its nations and peoples and in genuine shared stewardship of our environment, our lives and our scarcest resources.
But according to Monbiot in order to gain political traction with the aristocrats, plutocrats, patriarchs, financiers, generals, industrialists, pragmatists and other would be rulers of the universe, our culture embraced the jargon of industrial efficiency, class entitlement and financial necessity and then we manufactured elite consent for a little green window-dressing on the expansionary fabrication of illusory fossil fueled progress.
by Chris Floyd - Empire Burlesque Sami Ramadani, an Iraqi writer who fled persecution by Saddam’s regime but who was also a powerful voice against the Anglo-American aggression against his country in 2003, exposes one of the many lies about Iraq that have infected both sides of the interventionist argument: that it is a land seething with ancient, irrepressible sectarian hatreds that can only be put right by separation.
Regardless of what you may have heard, the Enbridge pipeline is doomed. Coastal First Nations say no, the people of BC say no, and we plan to make it stick. Join us tonight in Victoria, Vancouver and Prince George.
Victoria, 7 pm at CTV News,
corner of Pandora & Broad
- Victoria: We'll be meeting at the CTV News Building, on the corner of Pandora and Broad street, at 7pm. (Meeting at the media station allows us to amplify our voice.)
- Vancouver: 5:30 at Georgia & Hamilton.
- Prince George: 5:30 WED at the Civic Centre.
- Bring drums and noisemakers to demonstrate how loud our opposition is. Now is the time to make sure they can't ignore us. - Come prepared to brainstorm and organize to stop this pipeline. We support the decisions of dozens of frontline and First Nations communities.
Sectarian Monster Reawakened: Redrawing the Map of Iraq, Again
by Ramzy Baroud - Middle East Eye “Labeiki ya Zaynab,” chanted Iraqi Shia fighters as they swayed, dancing with their rifles before TV news cameras in Baghdad on June 13. They were apparently getting ready for a difficult fight ahead.
For them, it seemed that a suitable war chant would be answering the call of Zaynab, the daughter of Imam Ali, the great Muslim Caliph who lived in Medina 14 centuries ago. That was the period through which the Shia sect slowly emerged, based on a political dispute whose consequences are still felt until this day.
That chant alone is enough to demonstrate the ugly sectarian nature of the war in Iraq, which has reached an unprecedented highpoint in recent days. Fewer than 1,000 fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) advanced against Iraq's largest city of Mosul on June 10, sending two Iraqi army divisions (nearly 30,000 soldiers) to a chaotic retreat.
Blowing the whistle on wrongdoing creates a moral frequency that vast numbers of people are eager to hear. We don’t want our lives, communities, country and world continually damaged by the deadening silences of fear and conformity.
I’ve met many whistleblowers over the years, and they’ve been extraordinarily ordinary. None were applying for halos or sainthood. All experienced anguish before deciding that continuous inaction had a price that was too high. All suffered negative consequences as well as relief after they spoke up and took action. All made the world better with their courage.
Whistleblowers don’t sign up to be whistleblowers. Almost always, they begin their work as true believers in the system that conscience later compels them to challenge.
“It took years of involvement with a mendacious war policy, evidence of which was apparent to me as early as 2003, before I found the courage to follow my conscience,” Matthew Hoh recalled this week.
“It is not an easy or light decision for anyone to make, but we need members of our military, development, diplomatic and intelligence community to speak out if we are ever to have a just and sound foreign policy.”
What We've Lost Since 9/11: Taking Down the First Amendment in Post-Constitutional America
byPeter Van Buren - TomDispatch America has entered its third great era: the post-constitutional one. In the first, in the colonial years, a unitary executive, the King of England, ruled without checks and balances, allowing no freedom of speech, due process, or privacy when it came to protecting his power.
In the second, the principles of the Enlightenment and an armed rebellion were used to push back the king’s abuses. The result was a new country and a new constitution with a Bill of Rights expressly meant to check the government's power. Now, we are wading into the shallow waters of a third era, a time when that government is abandoning the basic ideas that saw our nation through centuries of challenges far more daunting than terrorism. Those ideas -- enshrined in the Bill of Rights -- are disarmingly concise. Think of them as the haiku of a genuine people's government.
Deeper, darker waters lie ahead and we seem drawn down into them. For here there be monsters.