Archive for September, 2013

Chemical weapons arsenals and the hidden truths about the ‘Convention’ [Workers World]

Posted in Corporate Media Critique, Egypt, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Libya, Media cover-up, Media smear campaign, Nukes, Psychological warfare, Russia, Syria, U.K., US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, USSR, Vietnam on September 22, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Manlio Dinucci

September 13, 2013

The hammering by politicians and the corporate media about chemical weapons use in Syria, which, according to secret CIA “evidence” was used by government forces, has generated the widespread false impression that it is only Syria that now possesses such weapons and threatens the rest of the world with them. That’s the power of the weapon of mass distraction, which is able to focus public attention on a single point, making everything else vanish.

Germany, in 1915-1917, was the first to use chemical weapons: first liquid chlorine and phosgene, later the asphyxiating and blistering agent, mustard gas. In response, Britain and France also produced this deadly gas. The nerve gas Tabun, which causes death by suffocation, was discovered in 1936 by researchers from the German company IG Farben (the same company that produced Zyclon B, used in gas chambers). In 1936, Italy used chemical weapons in Ethiopia, and had already used them in Libya in 1930.

Germany produced the even more lethal chemical agents Sarin and Soman. They were not used by Adolf Hitler, probably because at first he feared retaliation by the United States and Great Britain, which had major chemical arsenals, and in the last phase of the war, because not enough planes remained to carry out such an attack.

During the Cold War, the chemical arms race accelerated with the discovery of the most toxic nerve gas, VX, whose production began in the U.S. in 1961. Then, the first binary chemical weapons were produced in the U.S.: These are bullets, bombs and missile warheads that contain two separate chemical components, which when separate are relatively harmless, but which during the trajectory are combined into a toxic mix. The U.S. and the USSR amassed the largest and most lethal chemical weapons, but the “chemical club” rapidly expanded to include other countries.

After the Cold War ended, the Chemical Weapons Convention came into force in 1997, banning the use of chemical weapons and establishing the destruction of existing stockpiles. Now 16 years later, however, neither the U.S. nor Russia has completely destroyed its stockpiles, since they have not observed the established deadlines. According to official data, the U.S. still holds approximately 5,500 tons of chemical weapons.

Russia has much more, about 21,500 tons, inherited from Soviet arsenals. A simple quantitative comparison, however, is misleading: the U.S., Russia and other technologically advanced countries retain the ability to build sophisticated binary chemical weapons and always combine their nuclear war exercises with those of chemical warfare.

According to one dimension, which is also quantitative, the U.S., which is leading the campaign against chemical weapons in Syria, owns approximately six times what Syria does. According to an estimate by French intelligence, probably inflated, Syria is supposed to have about 1,000 tons of chemical agents and substances suitable for producing chemical weapons.

Why hasn’t Syria signed the Chemical Weapons Convention? The answer basically is that the Syrians need to counter Israel’s nuclear weapons and not only that. In the 1960s, Israel had also built a sophisticated arsenal of chemical weapons. But just as with Israel’s nuclear weapons, this remains secret because Israel has signed, but not ratified, the Chemical Weapons Convention.

According to a report by Foreign Policy magazine, based on a 1983 CIA document, advanced research on chemical weapons was conducted in the Israeli Center for Biological Research, and these weapons were produced and stored in the Negev Desert, at Dimona, where Israel also produces its nuclear weapons. Even the Sept. 10 Jerusalem Post reports this.

Even if Israel has not maintained such an arsenal, writes the journal Jane’s, it has the ability to “develop an offensive chemical weapons program within several months.” (Jane’s CBRN Assessments, 23 July 2009, http://www.janes.com) It is understandable then why even Egypt has not signed the Chemical Weapons Convention.

The U.S. and Israel have never officially violated the rule prohibiting the use of chemical weapons, since the chemical dioxin (Agent Orange), used extensively by the U.S. in Vietnam, and the chemical white phosphorous bombs used by the U.S. in Iraq, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Libya, and by Israel in Gaza, are not considered chemical weapons. This is not much of a consolation for the families who have seen children born deformed from Agent Orange or burned to death by white phosphorus.

(This article was written by Manlio Dinucci and published in Il Manifesto on Sept. 12, and was translated into English by Workers World Managing Editor John Catalinotto.)

Full article link: http://www.workers.org/articles/2013/09/13/chemical-weapons-arsenals-hidden-truths-convention/

Articles copyright 1995-2013 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

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White House’s war lies may backfire on beleaguered administration [People’s Daily]

Posted in George W. Bush, Iraq, Obama, Pentagon, Syria, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA on September 22, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Clifford A. Kiracofe (Global Times)
September 12, 2013

Although US President Barack Obama said…that diplomatic options suggested by Russia to solve the Syrian chemical weapon crisis would be pursued, the damage done by the US beating the drums of war has already been done.

The use of propaganda in wartime is nothing new. From experience with Washington’s lies during former president George W. Bush’s Iraq War, the international community knows the US cannot be trusted…

The author is an educator and former senior professional staff member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Full article link: http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90777/8397501.html

From Pinochet to Suharto, U.S. supported dictators who ‘killed their own people’ [Workers World]

Posted in Allende, Anti-communism, Capitalist media double standard, Chile, CIA, Corporate Media Critique, Cuba, Fascism, Indonesia, Iran, Obama, Pinochet, Psychological warfare, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, Vietnam on September 19, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Deirdre Griswold on September 9, 2013
23

“He is killing his own people.” How many times have we read and heard that?

It is the endlessly repeated phrase that is supposed to make us hate the head of Syria enough to justify the killing of many more Syrians with U.S. cruise missiles.

Do the people who sprinkle such phrases in their “news” reports even think about them?

When did the U.S. government suddenly decide that governments which kill their own people should be “taken out”?

This Sept. 11 is the 40th anniversary of the 1973 fascist coup in Chile that brought down the social democratic government of Salvador Allende, who had been trying to narrow the big gap between rich and poor in that country through a variety of social reforms. Allende was killed in the coup, along with thousands of other Chileans. Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who led the coup, was therefore responsible for “killing his own people” many times over.

Did Washington go to the United Nations to condemn the coup? Did it institute sanctions against Pinochet’s brutal military regime? Did it do anything about it, other than make sanctimonious, toothless statements about human rights?

On the contrary. Pinochet was Washington’s man. He was a staunch anti-communist. But it didn’t matter that Allende was not a communist. U.S. corporations still wanted to get rid of him. Pinochet was their answer to the wave of progressivism that swept Latin America after the Cuban Revolution.

The role played by U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in installing and protecting Pinochet is on the public record. The book “Nixon, Kissinger, and Allende: U.S. Involvement in the 1973 coup in Chile” gives many of the details.

After Pinochet had buttressed his rule through killings, torture and mass detentions, the path was cleared for U.S. corporations and banks to get back “their” property, which had been nationalized under Allende. Anaconda and Kennecott copper companies had squeezed fabulous profits out of Chile before Allende; once the generals were in power, they were welcomed back to do business as usual.

– Indonesian bloodbath of 1965-66 –

The 1973 Chile coup was not the first time that the U.S. government helped install dictators who seized power by killing “their own” people. There is a very, very long list of them.

One of the grisliest of all was the 1965 coup in Indonesia, which led to a bloodbath of epic proportions. (See the pamphlet “Indonesia 1965: The Second Greatest Crime of the Century” at workers.org.)

The 1965 coup in Indonesia ushered in a slaughter of unarmed people that has not been equaled since. Some estimates put the number of those killed by the military and paramilitary bands at one million. The population of the beautiful island of Bali — today a high-priced tourist destination — was reduced by 10 percent as soldiers went from village to village, killing those singled out as leftists and progressive nationalists: activists in unions, student groups, and women’s and peasants’ associations. The Indonesian Communist Party, which had been the largest in the world outside the socialist bloc, was decimated.

Again, there were no condemnations from Washington. No sanctions. Not a thought of U.S. intervention against the generals.

On the contrary, editorials and articles in leading bourgeois newspapers showed how the ruling class here welcomed the carnage. James Reston, associate editor of the New York Times at the time, wrote a column on June 19, 1966, about the massacres entitled “A Gleam of Light in Asia.” The “savage transformation” of Indonesia, he said, was “one of the more hopeful political developments” in Asia.

“There was a great deal more contact between the anti-communist forces in that country and at least one very high official in Washington before and during the Indonesian massacre than is generally realized,” wrote Reston. “It is doubtful if the coup would ever have been attempted without the American show of strength in Vietnam or been sustained without the clandestine aid it has received indirectly from here.”

Just as in Chile, the coup threw open the doors to Western corporations — mostly U.S.-based — to reap vast profits from Indonesia’s abundant natural resources and low wages, made even lower by the destruction of the unions. When you read today about the mowing down of Indonesia’s great rain forests for their precious hardwoods, think of the coup and its million victims.

– Bipartisan support for coups –

These two examples — and there are many more, from the coup that installed the Shah of Iran to the massacre of Salvadorans and Guatemalans by U.S.-armed military dictators — show how both the two big pro-capitalist political parties backed U.S. imperialist foreign policy.

The Indonesian coup took place during the Democratic Lyndon Johnson administration . His “liberal” vice president, Hubert Humphrey, personally handled relations with the blood-stained regime of General Suharto. Humphrey was the “very high official in Washington” referred to in Reston’s column.

The Chilean coup was under the Republican Richard Nixon administration. His secretary of state, Kissinger, was the point man for relations with Pinochet.

We now have a Democratic administration, headed by Barack Obama, who actually lived in Indonesia from 1967 to 1971 after his mother married an Indonesian geographer, Lolo Soetoro, who worked for the Indonesian army and later for the Unocal oil company. In his book “Dreams from My Father,” Obama speaks of his years as a child in Indonesia and mentions the role of the CIA in supporting the generals. That book was written before he was elected to any political office.

Presidents come and go, but the think tanks funded by the wealthy corporate families of the U.S. shape policies, domestic and foreign, as well as the politicians who will articulate them. It takes more than elections to change these bloody-handed policies. It takes the building of a mass movement that rejects imperialist wars and fights in the interests of the workers and all the oppressed.

Article link: http://www.workers.org/articles/2013/09/09/pinochet-suharto-u-s-supported-dictators-killed-people/

Articles copyright 1995-2013 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

NSA shares raw intelligence including Americans’ data with Israel [Guardian]

Posted in Israel, National Security Agency / NSA, NSA, US Government Cover-up, USA on September 19, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

• Secret deal places no legal limits on use of data by Israelis
• Only official US government communications protected
• Agency insists it complies with rules governing privacy

11 September 2013

Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Ewen MacAskill

The National Security Agency routinely shares raw intelligence data with Israel without first sifting it to remove information about US citizens, a top-secret document provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals…

Full article link: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/11/nsa-americans-personal-data-israel-documents

Obama pushes war on Syria with new tactic [Workers World]

Posted in Bill Clinton, Bourgeois parliamentary democracy, CIA, France, Germany, Hillary Clinton, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Lenin, Media smear campaign, NATO, Obama, Pentagon, Russia, Sarkozy, Syria, Tony Blair, U.K., UNSC, US imperialism, USA, USSR, Zionism on September 8, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Fred Goldstein
Sept. 9, 2013

* Another step to war *

On Sept. 3, Republican senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham, brokers for the Pentagon hawks, met with President Obama and came away saying that they now support plans for missile strikes against Syria. Graham said the attacks were going to be “a little more robust” than he had thought. There was talk of attacks on Syrian aircraft, artillery and rockets, and assurances from Obama that the attacks would be aimed at “shifting the momentum on the battlefield.” McCain called the meeting “encouraging” and said it would be “catastrophic” not to support the strikes.

This message signifies a convergence between the Obama administration and the aggressive militarists in the Pentagon and the ruling class. It is another dangerous step toward a military adventure.

+ Mass skepticism +

Sept. 2 — President Barack Obama and his administration are demanding that Congress underwrite a military adventure that will bring death and destruction to the Syrian masses, despite all the smooth, sanitizing phrases about so-called precision cruise missile “surgical strikes,” “limited targets,” and “deter and degrade.”

The intended attack on Syria holds the potential to trigger a much wider conflict, which will bring suffering and hardship not only to the people of the Middle East but to the workers and the oppressed in the U.S.

The whole world expected Obama to announce missile strikes on Syria on Aug. 31. But at the last minute he decided to opt for the tactic of dragging Congress into an endorsement intended to legitimize an act of imperialist aggression that has already been decided upon.

The fact that his move to take it to Congress has become controversial is a measure of the degree to which the Pentagon and previous presidents have obliterated constitutional legality, which says clearly that only Congress can declare war. But in his speech, Obama did not formally surrender the right to make war without congressional authority, he only said it would produce a “stronger” mandate — if the Congress does what it is legally required to do and votes on the question.

This stratagem of pressuring Congress into becoming an open accomplice to a military strike was made necessary when the attempt to drum up support for war with a battery of lies alleging Syrian government chemical warfare “atrocities” flopped.

+ Danger signals from London +

A powerful signal of impending U.S. isolation came when the British Parliament voted against participating in the attack. The British capitalist government, which during the Iraq war was called a “U.S. poodle” by the British masses, backed away from being drawn into the U.S. military adventure.

In addition, the German imperialists distanced themselves from the adventure. NATO will not go along. The normally docile Arab League did not endorse the strikes. The U.N. Security Council would not endorse the strikes. And the ruling class in the U.S. is divided over what to do.

Only the French imperialists, the former colonial rulers of Syria with strong interests in the country, were willing to endorse the attack.

This time around, the imperialist allies are afraid of being dragged into a U.S. military adventure at a time when the working classes of the capitalist world are suffering mass unemployment, declining wages, growing poverty and inequality. The U.S. has engaged in at least three major wars in the last decade and the population knows that trillions of dollars have been spent on these military adventures. Yet austerity for the workers is deepening as the criminal bankers and bosses pile up record profits and incomes.

Still in the minds of the masses are images of former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell standing before the United Nations on Feb. 5, 2003, pointing to charts, reports and satellite photos that allegedly proved the existence of “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq. They also haunt the minds of bourgeois politicians, like former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose reputations and/or careers were ruined because they hitched themselves to the fraudulent deceptions of the U.S. imperialist establishment. Ten more years of war followed the Powell speech.

Flash forward to today. The allies all know that U.S. charges defy all logic and they fear future exposure. The Syrian government would not gas its own people — right in the suburbs of the capital, Damascus — at the very moment that it welcomed U.N. inspectors on to the site of the alleged attack. Nor would it resort to such weapons at the moment when it is making military progress against the counterrevolutionary forces.

In the struggle for world support, it would be suicidal for the government in Damascus to risk alienating world opinion by carrying out such an act. No one in the Middle East, except for the puppet governments of the Arab League and other allies of U.S. imperialism, even pretends to believe it.

The only ones to benefit from such an act, if it took place, would be Washington, which has long planned to overthrow the government in Damascus and now feels it necessary to carry out direct military aggression, after all else failed.

+ Masses suffering from ‘intervention fatigue’ +

The Wall Street Journal of Sept. 2 aptly quoted James Lindsay, a former Clinton administration official: “The public has a clear case of intervention fatigue after 12 years of engagement overseas, the longest stretch in U.S. history.”

In fact, a Reuters/Ipsos poll taken the week that all the horrific reports of alleged Syrian atrocities were headlined in the capitalist media said that only 9 percent of respondents were for military intervention.

Rumors about a difficult upcoming vote for the strikes in Congress are being attributed to partisanship, factionalism, etc. But politics aside, in spite of the pressure for war, the politicians still need to get elected and many may not want to be tied to another disastrous military adventure.

For the anti-imperialist movement, the most significant political development to emerge from this crisis is this: The material basis of popular support for imperialist war has been eroded by previous wars and by the devastating global economic crisis.

This greatly strengthens the long-term prospects for mobilizing the masses against the Pentagon’s adventures, in Syria or elsewhere. The hawks in the Pentagon are moving in the opposite direction than the masses of people, and a clash is inevitable.

+ ‘Chemical weapons’ frame-up long in making +

There is a tendency in the capitalist media to call Obama inept for getting the U.S. into a bind. The fact is that the foundation of this crisis was laid back in March 2011, when Washington decided to foment an anti-government opposition in Syria with the aim of overthrowing the sovereign government of Bashar al-Assad.

In August 2011, after consultations at the highest level, with the hawkish secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, playing a leading role, Obama announced that President Assad had to go. In quick succession, British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Nikolas Sarkozy and German President Angela Merkel followed suit, calling for Assad to step down.

This was a definitive signal that U.S. imperialism intended to go all the way with “regime change” in Syria.

Washington and the Pentagon undoubtedly thought this was going to be easily achieved. But exactly one year after saying Assad must go, the government in Damascus was still there and fighting off the imperialist-sponsored counterrevolutionaries as well as the al-Nusra jihadists.

Thus, on Aug. 20, 2011, the Obama administration rolled out the “chemical weapons” frame-up plan. Obama, based on nothing, announced out of the blue that if Damascus used chemical weapons, it would have crossed a “red line” and changed his “calculus.” Such warnings and subsequent lies about the use of chemical weapons were repeated over and over by the administration and in the capitalist media, laying the groundwork for this latest frame-up.

What triggered this talk of chemical weapons was the military progress that the Assad forces were making against the reactionary forces, who were also suffering splits on the ground. This frame-up was prepared long in advance, and it is part of a larger goal of destroying the government of Syria.

+ War against Syria as preparation for wider war +

But the war against Syria and the preparation for intervention must be seen as part of a broader Pentagon strategy. Syria is the front line of a de facto alliance of the forces of resistance to imperialism in the Middle East, including Hezbollah and Iran.

Many hawks in the Pentagon and in the capitalist government have wanted to attack Iran ever since it announced its nuclear program. Hezbollah delivered a defeat to the Israeli Zionist state and has played a key role in helping the Syrian government take back territory from the so-called “Free Syrian Army,” which is an instrument of the Pentagon and the CIA.

Russia has supported Syria diplomatically and militarily. Furthermore, Syria is Russia’s primary ally in the Middle East and, with Iran, one of only two countries in the region where Russian warships can dock. This relationship goes back to the days of the USSR and has been continued by the present reactionary capitalist leaders of Russia on a pragmatic basis since the overthrow of the Soviet Union.

In addition to supporting Syria, Russia, in defiance of Washington, has given refuge to Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who exposed the global spy network of the National Security Agency. In addition, President Vladimir Putin has been persecuting pro-U.S. businessmen and politicians in Russia. There has also been antagonism over the U.S. anti-ballistic missile systems and other issues.

On different levels, the war against Syria is both a war and an opener for a wider war, a proxy war against Iran, Hezbollah and Russia. The aim is to overthrow the Syrian government, break up the nexus of resistance which centers on Damascus, set up a regime that would threaten Hezbollah, close down Russia’s naval facility and port privileges, and drive the Russians out of the country. And this could set the stage for U.S. aggression against Iran.

This is the broader geopolitics of the struggle against Syria.

+ Syria and post-Soviet era of ‘reconquest’ +

This broader struggle must be understood in terms of the nature of imperialism. It is a permanently aggressive, war-like and expansionary system, as Vladimir Lenin described in his classic work, “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism,” written in 1916.

Syria is one of a number of countries that achieved independence and were able to partially or fully break with imperialism during the Soviet era. With all its contradictions, the Soviet Union was an alternative socialist system that was antagonistic to imperialism and gave varying degrees of economic, political and military support and protection to oppressed countries struggling for independence. The very existence of the USSR made it possible for hundreds of millions of people to break with imperialism.

The collapse of the USSR set the stage for the imperialists to try to take back all the territory and influence that they had lost during the three-quarters of a century marking the Soviet era.

The post-Soviet era has been the era of reconquest. This is what has driven imperialist war and intervention since the collapse of the USSR and Eastern Europe — just as the Cold War and the struggle between the two antagonistic social systems drove imperialist war and militarism after World II. And it was the struggle among the imperialist powers for domination of the globe that drove the two world wars in the first half of the 20th century.

This is what accounts for the wars against Yugoslavia, Iraq, Yemen and Libya, the permanent threats to Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and now the war against Syria.

+ Capitalist politics as the art of deception +

Capitalist politics is the art of deception and, above all, deceiving the masses. W hen the decision to go to war approaches, the level of deception reaches staggering heights.

No one should be deceived for a moment by the lies told by Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and the entire capitalist media, which are beginning to march in lock step towards war.

Every word uttered by the administration is designed to conceal its predatory aims. The claim that cruise missile strikes — launching powerful warheads that can cause massive destruction — is not aimed at “regime change” is a complete falsehood. That is the fundamental U.S. government goal and has been since March 2011, when the counterrevolutionary campaign began.

Minimally, the strikes are aimed at helping the U.S.-supported forces on the ground regain the military initiative they have lost to government forces. Strikes would also be aimed at pushing back al-Nusra. But the main aim of regaining the military initiative is the overthrow of the Assad government, pure and simple — i.e., “regime change.” Washington has to deny this.

A time-tested part of capitalist pre-war deception is the attempt to create war fever by framing up the intended target of aggression as the aggressor. This “aggressor” invariably then carries out “atrocities,” possesses “weapons of mass destruction” or commits other acts that require imperialism to wage war.

Before or during every war since the invasion of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Philippines in 1898, down to the Gulf of Tonkin frame-up of the Vietnamese in 1964 that resulted in the deployment of 500,000 troops to Vietnam, to the wars against Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya, the victims of U.S. aggression have been put in the dock by the politicians and propagandists of the war machine.

But they haven’t succeeded this time around. The attempt to drum up international and domestic war fever to get approval for an attack on Syria has fallen flat. Washington has been growing more and more isolated.

Whatever the immediate outcome of the vote in Congress, and whether the strikes are carried out as planned, Washington and the Pentagon will not give up their designs on ruling the entire Middle East.

Nor will the system change its nature. Under imperialism, periods of peace are only interludes between wars. And the last two decades, since the collapse of the USSR, have been a period of perpetual war and intervention.

The only way to stop war is to destroy imperialism root and branch and the monopoly capitalist system on which it rests.

Fred Goldstein is the author of “Low-Wage Capitalism” and “Capitalism at a Dead End,” which has been translated into Spanish as “El capitalismo en un callejón sin salida.”

Articles copyright 1995-2013 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.