Archive for the US drone strikes Category

Hillary Clinton’s fake feminist branding [FAIR / Sweet & Sour Socialism Essential Archives]

Posted in Afghanistan, Corporate Media Critique, Gaza, Honduras, Israel, Pakistan, Palestine, State Department, Sweet and Sour Socialism Essential Archives, US drone strikes, USA, Yemen, Zelaya coup on April 29, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

“Hillary Clinton and the Feminism of Exclusion” – Media don’t ask which women she crusades for

By Rania Khalek
Jan 1, 2015

GENDER FOCUS

As the 2016 US presidential election nears, Hillary Clinton, the projected frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, is painting herself as a champion of women’s rights. As a result, she is being lionized in the corporate press as a feminist crusader across the globe.

On International Women’s Day, Clinton proclaimed that “the rights of women and girls is the unfinished business of the 21st century.” The New York Daily News (3/7/14) summed up, “Clinton has made women’s issues a centerpiece of her agenda.”

Clinton boasts of having incorporated feminism into US foreign policy. As Time (6/12/14) reported:

As the former US Secretary of State, Clinton discussed how feminism plays a key role in the US’s foreign policy. “Women and girls … [are] central to our foreign policy,” she said, explaining that nations that support women are more stable and “less likely to breed extremism.”

“Clinton has focused much of her career as first lady, senator and then secretary of State on issues affecting women and girls,” asserted NBCNews.com (9/18/14), citing comments she made about the “glass ceiling.” Even the progressive American Prospect (6/25/14) labeled Clinton’s tenure as secretary of State “unabashedly feminist.”

None of these outlets bothered to compare Clinton’s statements with her actual record, choosing instead to act as stenographers and at times cheerleaders for Clinton’s feminist branding campaign. This suggests a definition of feminism so shallow as to be virtually empty, attaching automatically to any woman who wields power of any kind, toward any end.

An established foreign policy hawk, Clinton has vociferously defended the US drone strikes that terrorize, maim and kill women and girls in Pakistan, Yemen and Afghanistan (Reuters, 6/7/12). As 9-year-old Nabila Rehman (Truthout, 11/1/13) — whose grandmother was obliterated before her eyes by a US drone strike in Pakistan’s North Waziristan — told a US congressional briefing, “Now, I am always scared.”

Following Israel’s merciless bombing campaign in the besieged Gaza Strip last summer — which killed nearly 2,200 Palestinians, 70 percent of them civilians, including 287 women and 190 girls (UNOCHA, 10/31/14, 10/3/14) — Clinton blamed Palestinians, telling the Atlantic (8/10/14) that “Israel did what it had to do,” accusing Hamas of “stage-managing” the slaughter of children to gain international sympathy.

Apparently Clinton’s version of female empowerment doesn’t extend to Palestinian women and girls living under the fanatical rule of Israeli lawmakers like Ayelet Shaked, a senior partner in the governing coalition Clinton vehemently defends. Just before the Gaza onslaught, Shaked called for the slaughter of Palestinian mothers to prevent them from birthing “little snakes” (Electronic Intifada, 7/7/14).

Another group of women and girls unworthy of Clinton’s empowerment agenda are those escaping violence in a nation she helped destabilize. As tens of thousands of unaccompanied children fleeing Central American violence were detained while crossing the US/Mexico border, Clinton told CNN (6/17/14) that “they should be sent back” to “send a clear message” to their parents that “just because your child gets across the border, that doesn’t mean the child gets to stay.”

The media generally fail to mention (Extra!, 9/14) that over 13,000 of the estimated 47,000 children detained between October 2013 to May 2014 came from Honduras, more than from any other country. This was more than 13 times as many Honduran children as were detained in 2009, the year a US-backed military coup ousted democratically elected Honduran President Manuel Zelaya (Pew Research Center, 6/10/14)

In her book Hard Choices, Clinton acknowledged playing a key role in solidifying the coup leadership’s grip on power by preventing Zelaya’s return to office (to “render the question of Zelaya moot,” as she put it) — a move that helped plunge Honduras in further violence, causing children to flee for their lives (Al Jazeera America, 9/29/14).

If this suggests to some that Clinton’s feminism necessarily takes a back seat to foreign policy goals, her history on the domestic front is no better.

In her memoir, she brags about working tirelessly “to round up votes” in 1996 for her husband’s welfare reform bill (New York Times, 4/11/08), legislation that saw the number of households with children living in deep poverty skyrocket (National Poverty Center, 2/12). It was especially disastrous for single mothers (New York Times, 4/8/12).

No wonder Wall Street is prepared to shower this pro-austerity feminist hawk with an endless stream of cash to get her elected in 2016 (Politico, 11/11/14). Clinton’s version of feminism is one of exclusion, serving state power and capital under the banner of gender equality. It is the kind of feminism that Wall Street, US empire and corporate media outlets can get behind precisely because of who it shuts out.

Article link: http://fair.org/home/hillary-clinton-and-the-feminism-of-exclusion/

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Casualties mount in U.S. proxy war in Yemen [Workers World]

Posted in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bourgeois parliamentary democracy, CIA, Egypt, EU, European Union, Genocide, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Obama, Pentagon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, US "War on Terror", US drone strikes, US imperialism, USA, Wall Street, Yemen on April 17, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Abayomi Azikiwe posted on April 12, 2015

Despite daily airstrikes by Saudi Arabia since March 26, the Ansurallah (Houthis) fighters seized the presidential palace in the southern city of Aden the following week.

Subsequent reports claim that the Houthis occupying the palace were forced to retreat by military forces still loyal to ousted leader President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. Saudi bombing of the area and air drops to Hadi loyalists are designed to halt the advances and consolidation of power by the Shiite Islam movement that is supported politically by Iran.

Casualty figures have increased as fighter jets deployed by Riyadh pound residential sections of cities and villages throughout the Middle Eastern state. Officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross say that the humanitarian situation is worsening daily; they describe horrendous conditions on the ground. Civilian residents are fleeing for shelter, further aggravating the overall social and economic crisis in the country.

Contested neighborhoods and commercial areas in Aden are littered with corpses, while the wounded flood into hospitals and clinics. Yemeni officials estimate that at least 185 people have been killed in Aden, while some 1,282 are wounded. Hospitals there have counted the figures of noncombatants since March 26, says al-Kheder Lassouar, Aden’s health department director. (BBC, April 5) Not counted are Houthis and loyalist forces who are also victims of aerial bombardments and gunshot injuries.

According to the BBC, casualties are much higher in various regions of the country. Clashes across Yemen have led to more than 500 deaths and some 1,700 injured since March 26, said United Nations humanitarian administrator Valerie Amos…

…In addition to the struggle between the Houthis and Hadi supporters, Al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamic State have reportedly entered the fray, seeking to carve out territory for further expansion.

* U.S. imperialism’s strategy in the region *

The Obama administration has said little about the current situation in Yemen. One hundred Special Forces along with diplomatic personnel were evacuated weeks ago.

Yemen was championed as a so-called “counter-terrorism success story” just months ago. Pentagon and CIA-backed airstrikes and drone attacks have killed many targeted Islamic leaders and civilians, who have been in the vicinity of Washington-ordered aerial assaults.

President Hadi’s ascendancy to power was the result of Washington’s direct intervention in 2011 and 2012, which sought to manage the transition from Ali Abdullah Saleh’s rule. Nonetheless, in today’s struggle, forces allied with Saleh have joined the Houthis in opposition to the Saudi air strikes and interference in Yemen’s internal affairs.

The U.S. military has its hands full in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan where wars of regime change and purported “democracy building” have gone awry. In 2011, the Obama administration initiated the destabilization and massive bombing of Libya, displacing Col. Muammar Gadhafi’s Jamahiriya political system, destroying national institutions, and causing dislocation and economic decline there.

Corporate media report that counterattacks by forces loyal to the Saudi-backed, ousted Hadi regime were bolstered by arms drops from Riyadh. They structure the struggle in Yemen as a proxy war with Saudi forces on Hadi’s side battling Iranian influence.

In fact, Washington is using its regional pro-Western allies to carry out bombings intended to bolster U.S. corporate, financial and strategic interests in the region.

Moreover, most of the weapons, including fighter aircraft utilized by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council, made up of reactionary oil-rich monarchies, come from the U.S. and EU member states. The political independence exerted by Yemen’s Houthi movement is a concern of Washington and Wall Street, given their overall aim is to secure and expand U.S. interests on behalf of the super-rich.

Yemen is the poorest country in the Arabian Peninsula, but it borders wealthier oil-rich Persian Gulf states. The waterways surrounding Yemen, including the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, have strategic significance for U.S. imperialism regarding commercial shipping as well as military dominance.

* ‘Humanitarian’ interventions debunked *

Developments in Yemen, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Libya illustrate clearly that there is no such thing as a “humanitarian” imperialist intervention. Conditions in all these states have worsened as a result of the so-called “war on terrorism” and disingenuous efforts to “build demo­cracies” in Africa and the Middle East.

Although majority-Democratic Party congresses elected in 2006 and 2008 and the Obama administration were sent to Washington with a mandate to end wars of aggression and work toward a sustainable economic revitalization in the U.S., they have failed to do so.

This starkly reveals the imperialist character of both dominant parties. Consequently, in the 2010, 2012 and 2014 elections, the Democratic Party’s electoral base among the working class and nationally oppressed expressed their opposition to these failed promises by staying away from the polls, with the exception of the re-election of Obama in 2012.

The peoples of the Middle East and Africa must rebuild their societies and national and regional institutions independent of imperialism. So, too, the working class and the oppressed inside the U.S. have no alternative other than to break with the Democrats and construct an independent movement, based on their political and class interests.

Excerpted by Zuo Shou

Article link: http://www.workers.org/articles/2015/04/12/casualties-mount-in-u-s-proxy-war-in-yemen/

‘Spring Rising’ Protests decry 12 years of U.S. wars abroad [Workers World]

Posted in Afghanistan, Cuba, DPR Korea, Genocide, Haiti, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Mexico, Obama, Pakistan, Palestine, Pentagon, Philippines, Police brutality, Police State, Russia, Ukraine, US drone strikes, US imperialism, USA, Venezuela, War crimes on March 26, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

March 23, 2015

Antiwar actions called Spring Rising, focusing on the 12th anniversary of the criminal U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq and continued war in Afghanistan, were held in Washington, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Minneapolis and other cities around the United States. Spring Rising was initiated by Cindy Sheehan, anti-war activist and mother of U.S. Army Specialist Casey Sheehan who was killed in Iraq.

In Washington there were four days of actions, including a teach-in, political lobbying and a bus tour of sites of war contractors. The culminating action was on March 21, with a rally of several hundred people, some carrying U.S.-flag-draped coffins, that gathered in front of the White House and marched to the Capitol, with stops at the offices of defense contractors.

Groups that sent delegations to D.C. included Code Pink, Answer Coalition, United National Antiwar Coalition, Veterans for Peace, World Can’t Wait, World Beyond War, Fight Imperialism, Stand Together and the International Action Center.

IAC participants came from New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Durham, N.C., and linked the continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the U.S support of armed fascist, right-wing and mercenary forces in Ukraine, Venezuela and Syria, as well as to racist and militarized police repression at home.
San FranciscoPhoto: Alyssa Eisenberg

San Francisco
Photo: Alyssa Eisenberg

Anti-war demonstrators rallied March 21 at Powell and Market streets in San Francisco and then marched through the downtown area to commemorate the 12th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Demonstrators raised a number of demands: “Stop President Obama’s AUMF” (the proposed new three-year authorization for the use of military force); “End U.S. war and occupation;” “In the Middle East and Central Asia — U.S. out!;” “No to U.S. sanctions and intervention” against Iran, Venezuela, Korea, Cuba, Mexico, Russia, Philippines, Haiti and everywhere; and “Free Palestine — End U.S. Aid to Israel — Fund People’s Needs, Not Endless War.”

The protest was initiated by the Answer Coalition and endorsed by many groups, including the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, the Bay Area Latin America Solidarity Coalition, BAYAN USA, Haiti Action, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, the Middle East Children’s Alliance, the Palestine Youth Movement and Workers World Party.

Indicting ‘Hellfire Reaper’ brass

Two actions in central New York protested the anniversary of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. On the morning of March 19, seven members of the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars were arrested after trying to deliver a “citizen’s indictment” for war crimes to Hancock Air Base commanders. Demonstrators also blockaded the main gate of the base with giant books, including “Living under Drones: Death, Injury, and Trauma to Civilians from U.S. Drone Practices in Pakistan,” a report from New York University and Stanford law schools.

Soldiers dragged the books away as “evidence,” opening the possibility that their anti-U.S. war information could be introduced at future activist trials.

“Hellfire” Reaper drones targeting Afghanistan are piloted out of Hancock by soldiers in the 174th Attack Wing of the New York Air National Guard. Drone pilots, sensor operators and maintenance technicians are also trained at the base. Common Dreams estimates that over 2,500 people have been killed by U.S. covert drone attacks in Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. (commondreams.org)

On Feb. 17, the Obama administration okayed the widespread export of U.S. armed drones, as U.S. defense corporations push for bigger profits in the global drone market.

The Upstate Coalition has waged a nonviolent campaign against drone warfare at the base since 2010; there have been over 160 anti-Reaper arrests at Hancock in the last five years.
Syracuse, N.Y.Photo: Ellen Grady

Syracuse, N.Y.
Photo: Ellen Grady

In the afternoon people assembled at a downtown Syracuse, N.Y., street corner and held up signs protesting past and present wars, including Obama’s request for new war powers from Congress. One speaker talked of being in Baghdad in 2003 as part of a U.S. peace delegation and confronting U.S. Marines who entered the city during the U.S. “Shock-and-Awe” offensive.

A Syracuse University student denounced extensive military funding at the school, including the new Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism and the drone-radar defense contractor, Syracuse Research Corporation.

As a steady stream of workers driving home honked in support of the rally, a military veteran spoke of the dreadful effects of war on U.S. soldiers. In addition to post-traumatic stress disorder, he named sexual assaults on 25 percent of women soldiers by other U.S. soldiers and homelessness. Twenty-five percent of homeless people are vets, who are disproportionately people of color.

From reports by Sara Flounders, Terri Kay and Minnie Bruce Pratt.

Article link: http://www.workers.org/articles/2015/03/23/protests-decry-12-years-of-u-s-wars-abroad/

US stokes conflict with DPR Korea over Sony hacking [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Anti-China propaganda exposure, Anti-communism, Assassination, China, CIA, Corporate Media Critique, DPR Korea, Iran, Israel, Kim Jong Un, Korean War, Media smear campaign, NSA, Obama, Saudi Arabia, US drone strikes, US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War on December 20, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Patrick Martin

19 December 2014

The US government is preparing to retaliate against [DPR] Korea for its alleged role in the hacking attack on Sony Pictures, Obama administration officials said Thursday. While declining to go on the record placing responsibility on [DPR] Korea for the hacking — likely in part because they can produce no evidence — several top officials suggested that US cyberwarfare countermeasures were already in preparation.

White House press spokesman Josh Earnest said Thursday that he would not name North Korea as the perpetrator of the Sony hacking in advance of investigations by the FBI and Justice Department, but added that the cyberattack was an example of “destructive activity with malicious intent that was initiated by a sophisticated actor.” US officials considered the hacking a “serious national security matter” and “would be mindful of the fact that we need a proportional response,” he said.

The secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, told a television interviewer Thursday morning that the administration was “actively considering a range of options that we’ll take in response to this attack.” He did not rule out military force, although Earnest’s reference to a “proportionate response” was portrayed by the US media as a threat of some form of electronic sabotage, rather than a direct military attack on North Korea.

The last two days have seen the transformation of the Sony incident from a corporate scandal — with the private information of tens of thousands of current and former employees dumped onto the Internet — into a far more sinister affair, involving US threats against both [DPR] Korea and China.

Beginning November 24, anonymous hackers, calling themselves “Guardians of Peace,” have made several dumps of internal Sony information on the Internet, demanding the studio shelve its film The Interview, a comedy whose plot is based around the CIA hiring two American journalists (played by Seth Rogen and James Franco) to assassinate Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

This week the affair escalated with vague threats of violence against theaters that showed the film, scheduled to open on December 25. On Wednesday morning, the four largest US theater chains cancelled the premieres, citing the threats, and Sony then withdrew the film from circulation entirely.

The US National Security Council then issued its first formal statement, not naming [DPR] Korea, but noting that the White House had offered Sony Pictures its support against the apparent cyberattack. The statement declared: “We know that criminals and foreign countries regularly seek to gain access to government and private sector networks — both in the United States and elsewhere … The US government is working tirelessly to bring the perpetrators of this attack to justice and we are considering a range of options in weighing a potential response.”

Obama administration officials made unattributed statements to the US media Wednesday asserting that [DPR] Korea was responsible for the attacks on Sony, setting off a media frenzy, including speculation about possible cyberwarfare or military responses against the regime in Pyongyang. This was accompanied by suggestions that Iran was a co-conspirator in the cyberattacks, in retaliation for US and Israeli cyberwarfare against Iran’s nuclear energy facilities.

No evidence of any kind has been produced, with press reports limited to suggestions that some of the code in the malware used to infect Sony’s corporate computer system had been written in Korean, and that the code resembled that used in previous cyberattacks in South Korea and Saudi Arabia.

The United States, moreover, is heavily invested in cyberwarfare measures, particularly targeting China. Earlier this year, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed extensive offensive cyberwarfare measures, including attacks on government and military targets.

There is evidence as well that the US is whipping up conflict with [DPR] Korea in several arenas simultaneously. The escalation of the Sony Pictures affair coincided with the issuance of a report Tuesday by a United Nations committee recommending that…Korean officials be referred to the International Criminal Court for human rights violations.

On Thursday, just as the White House spokesman was threatening a “proportionate response” to the Sony hacking, the UN General Assembly approved the referral of [DPR] Korea to the ICC, sending it on to the UN Security Council, where Russia and China are expected to block further action.

The role of Sony Pictures also deserves serious scrutiny. The studio has a documented close relationship with the CIA, having made the film Zero Dark Thirty in 2012, in direct collaboration with the agency, portraying CIA torture of prisoners as vital to the targeting of Osama bin Laden by a Navy Seals death squad the previous year. The film served as a sort of video rebuttal-in-advance of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture, which was completed in the summer of 2012 but delayed for two years by the Obama White House, until it was made public, in heavily redacted form, last week.

The decision to make a film that climaxed in the assassination of Kim Jong-un was peculiar, to say the least. As the New York Times wrote, “To depict the killing of a sitting world leader, comically or otherwise, is virtually without precedent in major studio movies, film historians say.” If North Korea, Iran or Russia had produced a similar film about a plan to murder Obama, complete with grisly images of the president being obliterated by a missile (the final scene in The Interview ), the US government and media would have raised an uproar.

Moreover, given the Obama administration’s claim that the president has the right to order drone missile assassination of any individual on the planet, including US citizens, at his own discretion, the depiction of such an attack by a major American film studio could well be seen as a veiled threat. There is no doubt that there were elements in the American government, aware of the mounting crisis and isolation of the North Korean dictatorship, who fully expected the film to be interpreted in that way in Pyongyang…

Excerpted/edited by Zuo Shou

Full article link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/12/19/nkor-d19.html

Obama’s West Point speech – “Psycho Politics” of a dangerous nationalist [TFF Associates & Themes Blog]

Posted in 9/11, Afghanistan, China, Egypt, Germany, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Obama, Pentagon, Russia, Ukraine, US drone strikes, US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War, War crimes on June 6, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

May 29, 2014

by Jan Oberg

Lund, Sweden – May 29, 2014

In a speech by the President of the United States of America – read by millions in all corners of our world in minutes – rest assured that every single word has been weighed with utmost care.

With this in mind, Obama’s speech can be analysed as both offending to the rest of us and – exceptionally – weak.

It caused no enthusiasm among the future army officers he spoke to and no enthusiasm among leading Western media.

I will argue that

• Intellectually and morally the speech doesn’t have the basics – full of contradictions and imbued with unbearable self-praise.

• While there is a recognition of ”mistakes” such as ”our” war in Iraq and a potential step-back from interventionism, there is neither an adequate analysis of the past nor of what the future may need in terms of leadership.

• Little had I anticipated that my analysis in the TFF PressInfo on ”Psycho politics in the age of imperial decline” just a few days ago would be confirmed so quickly and so strongly.

This PressInfo is longer than usual. I have wanted to do justice to the speech by quoting its texts at length and commenting.

”By most measures, America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world…Think about it. Our military has no peer.”

Most measures? Wrong. Take trade and investment, political, economic and cultural power relative to the rest of the world; take perceived legitimacy worldwide, take moral/values and take adherence to international law – the U.S. is a shadow of what it was, say, 50 years ago.

True, militarily it is second to none. But that is exactly the problem when you are getting weaker on all other indicators.

”And when a typhoon hits the Philippines, or girls are kidnapped in Nigeria, or masked men occupy a building in Ukraine – it is America that the world looks to for help.”

Even if it were true that the world sees the U.S. as the benign helper, Obama ought to have deplored that countries don’t turn to the multilateral or regional institutions.

The U.S. has, since Yugoslavia, done about everything it could to undermine the U.N. Later he says that ”the UN provides a platform to keep the peace in states torn apart by conflict.”

But is it that really the task of the world’s normatively most important organisation: to make peace where others, including the U.S. itself, has ravaged countries?

The U.S. as a great helper is not a perception shared by many enlightened people – see the failure in the Israel-Palestinian mediation and the handling of Syria. Btw. he doesn’t even mention the Middle East.

”The United States is the one indispensable nation. That has been true for the century passed, and will likely be true for the century to come.”

What in effect Obama is saying here is that every other nation – peoples of the earth – can be dispensed with. Why offend everybody? Why make yourself so good that it becomes pathetic, laughable?

And 100 years more? Just how stupid do the speechwriters in the White House think we are? Regrettably, there is more where it comes from:

”The question we face – the question you will face – is not whether America will lead, but how we will lead, not just to secure our peace and prosperity, but also to extend peace and prosperity around the globe.”

The obsession with leadership that goes through his speech reveals a deep fear of not being a leader for much longer.

But people with little sense of history and young West Point patriots may believe such nonsense – including the stated but unfounded unity between America’s and the world’s peace and prosperity. And peace is extended from the U.S. – it is not something we create together.

”Regional aggression that goes unchecked – in southern Ukraine, the South China Sea, or anywhere else in the world – will ultimately impact our allies, and could draw in our military.”

Here Obama ignores the brilliant opportunity to reach out as a true world leader would to Russia and China at this important moment. And who can talk convincingly about what aggression is and how unacceptable it is?

”Here’s my bottom line: America must always lead on the world stage. If we don’t, no one else will.”

Again the leadership obsession – ”must always lead”. ”If we don’t, no one else will” – well, that could be a much much better world for all humankind! But President Obama believes that only the U.S. can lead.

It is extremely interesting that he does not see the obvious coming: the multipolar world where others contribute in leading the world.

One can only wonder how amusing the people to be lead by Washington the next century in Beijing, Moscow, Delhi, Cape Town, Brasília and other capitals around the world find this?

”First, let me repeat a principle I put forward at the outset of my presidency: the United States will use military force, unilaterally if necessary, when our core interests demand it – when our people are threatened; when our livelihood is at stake; or when the security of our allies is in danger.”

Gone is suddenly the idea of common interests and action with allies. When U.S. interests are at stake – like they were in the ”mistake” called Iraq – the U.S. will do what it has always done: Use the hammer.

”For the foreseeable future, the most direct threat to America at home and abroad remains terrorism. But a strategy that involves invading every country that harbors terrorist networks is naïve and unsustainable.”

What criteria does the intellectuals in his White House team use to conclude that terrorism is the largest threat?

Any 10-year old child could tell about other things to worry about – nuclear weapons, global warming, poverty, cyber warfare, emerging fascism, etc. It hasn’t got anything to do with reality but with his next sentence: ”I am calling on Congress to support a new Counter-Terrorism Partnerships Fund of up to $5 billion”. On top of history’s largest security budget? Enough is never enough!

President Obama goes on to justify drone warfare and liquidation of presumed terrorists without trial without even noticing that fighting terrorism and killing terrorists are two vitally different things.

And then he squares the circle for the umpteenth time:

”In taking direct action, we must uphold standards that reflect our values. That means taking strikes only when we face a continuing, imminent threat, and only where there is near certainty of no civilian casualties. For our actions should meet a simple test: we must not create more enemies than we take off the battlefield.”

OK, I’d like to believe that from today everything will be done differently from every day since 9/11. But I can’t. It is not credible…

…”I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being. But what makes us exceptional is not our ability to flout international norms and the rule of law; it’s our willingness to affirm them through our actions.”

Consider the falseness of this statement. Washington’s ability to flout has, for decades, been second to none.

Furthermore, President Obama again offends all other people around the world by saying that they don’t affirm international norms and the rule of law since they are not exceptional (or are exceptional only for their evil doings).

Now to human rights, dignity, democracy and American idealism! Please read the next two paras together:

”The fourth and final element of American leadership: our willingness to act on behalf of human dignity. America’s support for democracy and human rights goes beyond idealism – it’s a matter of national security. Democracies are our closest friends, and are far less likely to go to war. Free and open economies perform better, and become markets for our goods. Respect for human rights is an antidote to instability, and the grievances that fuel violence and terror /…/

In Egypt, we acknowledge that our relationship is anchored in security interests – from the peace treaty with Israel, to shared efforts against violent extremism. So we have not cut off cooperation with the new government. But we can and will persistently press for the reforms that the Egyptian people have demanded.”

Intellectually and morally this does not make sense. One, the idealist struggle for human rights can not be subordinate to national security. Secondly, Abdel al-Sisi, heading for the Presidency these very hours, is a military junta leader with rampant repression and death penalties in the hundreds on top of his agenda.

Here Obama puts the security argument before the ethics and applies the both/and principle of having no principles. This is not – moral – leadership. It’s profit-making militarism.

What the speech lacks – and the audacity of fear

These are some of the things President Obama wants us to know and believe. But he simply isn’t able to convince. His muddled speech is offending to the rest of the world and every moral principle.

Had any other leader spoken like this Western media commentaries would say that here speaks a dangerous nationalist.

What is conspicuously lacking in the President’s West Point speech?

• Any reasonably accurate appraisal of the world and the role of other nations.

• A sense of humility and respect for allies and other countries in this world.

• Every element of a grand strategy for America, for its foreign and security policy and some kind of vision of what a better world would look like. This speech with all its tired, self-aggrandising rhetorics is a thin cover-up for the fact that there is no such vision or overall strategy.

• Some little hint of reforms of existing institutions or new thinking about globalisation and global democratic decision-making.

• Ideas and initiatives – stretched-out hands – to help the world move towards conflict-resolution in crisis areas such as Ukraine, Syria, Libya, China-Japan and Iran. Not a trace of creativity.

In short – it lacks the essence and practice of exactly the leadership Obama mistakenly believes he and the U.S. today stand for.

In its reality-defying arrogance and self-praise it leaves little hope for those of us who have always been fascinated by the American cultural and other creativity and – earlier – leadership while loathed its empire’s arrogance, exceptionalist militarism and insensitivity to the victims of its policies.

The audacity of hope is crushed. Regrettably, with this speech one has to think more in terms of the audacity of fear to begin to perceive the potentially catastrophic combination of militarism, hubris, a decreasing sense of reality and silly self-praise.

© TFF, The Transnational Foundation 2014

Excerpted; full article link: http://blog.transnational.org/2014/05/tff-pressinfo-why-obamas-speech-should-make-us-think/

Original blog article title: “TFF PressInfo – Why Obama’s speech should make us think”

The firing of the New York Times’ Jill Abramson [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Afghanistan, Anti-China media bias, Anti-China propaganda exposure, Black propaganda, China, China-bashing, CIA, Fascism, George W. Bush, Julian Assange, National Security Agency / NSA, Nazism, New York Times lie, NSA, Obama, Pentagon, Psychological warfare, State Department, Syria, Ukraine, US drone strikes, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, Wall Street, War crimes, Wikileaks on May 28, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By David Walsh
21 May 2014

The firing of Jill Abramson as executive editor of the New York Times May 14 lifted the lid on the US media establishment. Displayed for all to see was the money-grubbing, careerism and egotism that dominates this filthy little world.

The New York Times is a principal mouthpiece of the American corporate elite. It has become one of the most dishonest publications on earth, since its editors and reporters are assigned an impossible task: framing the interests of a predatory, crisis-ridden elite in the vestiges of traditional liberal terminology.

One makes sense of many articles in the Times these days either by reading between the lines and calculating what has been deliberately omitted, or through a process of deciphering that involves reading backward from the obvious ideological slant and a priori conclusions of the author to the details and arguments offered as “unbiased” facts. The unsubtle hand of the State Department, the Pentagon or the CIA — or some combination thereof — can often be perceived in the Times’ news gathering and commentary.

Over the past decade, the Times has defended the neo-colonial operations of the Bush and Obama administrations, while firmly backing the onslaught against constitutional and elementary democratic rights carried out by the American state, with an inevitable degree of handwringing and the occasional caveats. All the time it has cheered on the stock market boom, the parasitism and swindling of the financial aristocracy and the resulting immiseration of wide layers of the US population.

The newspaper’s leading personnel, including Jill Abramson, her predecessor and her successor at the helm of the Times, have all emerged out of these profoundly reactionary social and economic processes.

Controversy surrounds the immediate circumstances of Abramson’s dismissal. Her defenders claim that Abramson recently discovered she was receiving less in pay and benefits than Bill Keller, the executive editor before her, and had “pushed” to remedy that situation. In this scenario, Abramson is a martyr to the cause of equal pay for women.

The Times ’ publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger, Jr., insisted in an email on May 15 that, in fact, in 2013, Abramson’s “total compensation package was more than 10 percent higher than that of her predecessor, Bill Keller, in his last full year as Executive Editor, which was 2010. It was also higher than his total compensation in any previous year.”

The pay in question, equal or otherwise, put Abramson (and Keller) in the top fraction of income earners in the US. According to Ken Auletta of the New Yorker: “As executive editor, Abramson’s starting salary in 2011 was $475,000, compared to Keller’s salary that year, $559,000. Her salary was raised to $503,000, and—only after she protested—was raised again to $525,000.” In addition to her salary, Abramson was eligible for “bonuses, stock grants, and other long-term incentives.”

Sulzberger, in a statement, asserted that Abramson’s departure had “nothing to do with pay or gender.” Rather, he insisted, the firing resulted from “a series of issues, including arbitrary decision-making, a failure to consult and bring colleagues with her, inadequate communication and the public mistreatment of colleagues.”

According to Auletta’s account, the final straw involved Abramson’s offering a position to Janine Gibson of Britain’s Guardian newspaper as a second managing editor of digital operations at the Times without consulting Dean Baquet, the first managing editor and now Abramson’s successor.

Whatever the circumstances, Abramson’s firing instantly became an immense and powerfully felt issue for certain small circles in the US.

Her dismissal was followed by much lamentation and gnashing of teeth by feminist and left-liberal critics of the move. Was she fired “because she was a woman?” The “ugliness of being a woman boss” or “a woman leader” was on certain minds. “We’re back to square one” as far as women in the upper echelons of journalism are concerned, suggested another commentator.

Frida Ghitis, writing at CNN.com, observed, “You can draw your own conclusions about why Jill Abramson was fired, but as we look at the history of her tenure as executive editor of The New York Times, the world’s most prestigious and influential newspaper, and learn details about how it came to an end, women everywhere are shaking their heads.”

Really? Women everywhere were shaking their heads?

“The departure of Jill Abramson,” commented Rebecca Traister of the New Republic, “is a bigger and far grimmer story about a uniquely powerful woman, whose rise and whose firing will now become another depressingly representative chapter in the story of women’s terribly slow march toward social, professional and economic parity.”

Michelle Goldberg, of the Nation, headlined her comment, “Jill Abramson was right,” although the reader discovers that Abramson was “right,” according to Goldberg, about relatively trivial internal issues at the Times. The Nation columnist takes note of the claim that Abramson was fired for being “pushy,” and goes on: “The Times denies this, but unless it’s disproven, women across the country have reason to find it chilling.”

Again, which women?

At the Progressive, Ruth Conniff assured us in the headline of her comment that the “NY Times Firing of Abramson Hurts Women.” She concluded the piece by arguing that the manner of Abramson’s firing by the Times is “not good for women as a group.”

How so? Is there the slightest proof that the employment of a female executive editor by the New York Times, for somewhere between $525,000 and one million dollars a year (or more), had the slightest impact on the conditions of women “as a group”?

On the contrary, there is considerable evidence that the gap between the Abramsons and others in her income group, on the one hand, and the vast majority of women, on the other, is growing ever wider…

…According to a review in the New York Review of Books, Alison Wolf in The Women at the Top, a study of upper middle class “professional women” across the globe, argues that “couples at the top lead very different lives, not only from the lower classes, but from previous generations. Within the households, husbands and wives are virtually interchangeable. Both tend to be high earners, and both tend to be equally competent at childcare and household tasks. … They now have more in common with each other than either has with members of their own sex in the lower classes.”

Of course, upper middle class members of both sexes have always had “more in common” with each other than with anyone in the “lower classes,” but the exacerbation of this situation is clearly a noteworthy social phenomenon, with definite political and ideological implications.

In the comments from many of Abramson’s defenders, one hears the angry collective voice of this layer of well-heeled women whose considerable gains have only made it more selfish, more rapacious and more envious of the male-dominated corporate and financial aristocracy to whose exalted realm it aspires. For this social grouping, the Times ’ executive editor was “a role model and beacon of hope,” in the words of Barbara Cochran, the Curtis B. Hurley Chair in Public Affairs Journalism at the Missouri School of Journalism.

This stratum of well-paid professional women is also one of the key constituencies of the pseudo-left, and helps explain the obsession of groups such as the International Socialist Organization (ISO) with gender and identity politics. A great deal of wealth and privilege is at stake in the struggle for “gender parity” in journalism, academia, unions, business and government.

Even a scoundrel, of course, can be the victim of an undemocratic attack and worthy of defense. But there is nothing progressive that attaches itself to Abramson’s case, nothing that elicits sympathy. Nor is there anything exceptional in her entire career — she has not been identified even by her defenders with any exposé or journalistic coup. To be blunt, she is a journalistic and intellectual zero.

The entire sordid affair at the Times is about money, with perhaps the added element of ferocious personal ambition and ego. Abramson is the product of right-wing feminism, the fitting progeny of Gloria Steinem and Margaret Thatcher…

As for the editorial content and reporting of the New York Times, Abramson’s reign marked the further integration of the newspaper into the misinformation apparatus of the White House, Defense Department and various intelligence agencies.

What was the record of the Times during her two years and eight months as executive editor? A brief recapitulation would have to include the newspaper’s vociferous backing for economic and military aggression against Iran, Syria and China; its defense of drone murder and the military lockdown of Boston; its contributions to the smear campaigns against Bradley (Chelsea) Manning, Julian Assange and Edward Snowden; its support for the privatization of Medicare, defense of Obamacare and continued campaign against “overtesting” (i.e., its indefatigable support for reducing health care costs at the expense of the working class population); and, most recently, the Times ’ especially vile cover-up of the fascist-led coup in Ukraine, its publication of fake photos supposedly claiming to prove Russian intervention in the eastern part of the country and its suppression of ultra-right atrocities in Odessa and elsewhere.

A record to be proud of … ! Of course Abramson wasn’t fired for any of this, no portion of which will hinder her from finding a new lucrative source of income.

She belongs to the wealthy, anti-democratic media and political establishment in the US, which has swung dramatically to the right in recent decades. The distasteful and unseemly squabble between Abramson, Baquet, Sulzberger and the rest will serve a useful purpose to the extent that it further discredits the state-run propaganda organ that the Times has become.

Excerpted; full article link: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/05/21/abra-m21.html

US collecting all cell phone calls in Afghanistan [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Afghanistan, Iraq, Julian Assange, Kenya, Mexico, National Security Agency / NSA, NATO invasion, NSA, Obama, Pakistan, Pentagon, Philippines, Somalia, US drone strikes, US foreign occupation, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, War crimes, Wikileaks, Yemen on May 24, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Thomas Gaist
24 May 2014

WikiLeaks on Friday revealed that the US has been surveilling all cell phone conversations in Afghanistan as part of its SOMALGET mass data collection program. SOMALGET is one component of a broader NSA effort, including a program called MYSTIC, which collect communications data in Mexico, Kenya, the Philippines, Iraq and elsewhere.

Millions of voice clips and reams of telephone metadata are collected and stored as part of the SOMALGET/MYSTIC program, which taps into entire national cellular networks. Three days ago, Glenn Greenwald’s The Intercept, revealed that SOMALGET was being used to collect phone calls made from the Bahamas and an unknown country, now revealed to be Afghanistan.

Greenwald said at the time that revealing the second country would “lead to deaths,” and complied with demands from top US security officials that he not publicize the information. The Washington Post also chose to preserve the secrecy of the surveillance against Afghanistan.

In a “statement on the mass recording of Afghan telephone calls by the NSA” published Friday, WikiLeaks rejected the “national security” rationale for concealing the country’s identity. A statement from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange stated, “The Intercept stated that the US government asserted that the publication of this name might lead to a ‘rise in violence’. Such claims were also used by the administration of Barack Obama to refuse to release further photos of torture at Abu Ghraib in Iraq… WikiLeaks has years of experience with such false or overstated claims made by US officials in their attempts to delay or deny publication.”

“WikiLeaks has confirmed that the identity of the victim state is Afghanistan. This can also be independently verified through forensic scrutiny of imperfectly applied censorship on related documents released to date and correlations with other NSA programs,” the statement said.

The mass spying against Afghanistan underscores that a primary function of the spying apparatus is to identify and target opponents of the neocolonial agenda being pursued by the US ruling elite, while terrorizing the civilian population into submission. As noted by the WikiLeaks statement, the US government’s targeted drone program relies heavily on information gathered from NSA surveillance operations.

“We know from previous reporting that the National Security Agency’s mass interception system is a key component in the United States’ drone targeting program. The US drone targeting program has killed thousands of people and hundreds of women and children in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia in violation of international law. The censorship of a victim state’s identity directly assists the killing of innocent people,” the WikiLeaks statement said…