Two-Second Atrocity: A Sick Society Exudes Its Stench

Written by Chris Floyd 30 December 2015 5928 Hits

Tamir Rice, 12, carrying a toy gun, was shot two seconds after the officer arrived. It's overwhemingly obvious that the officer went on the call intending to kill the "suspect" immediately. No warning, no talk, just an instantaneous draw-and-fire. But he faces no charges at all for what was obviously an intent to kill, regardless of the circumstances. Contrast the treatment of Dylann Roof -- an adult mass murderer on the run, subject to an "armed and dangerous alert" (which means that officers should expect to face an immediate and deadly threat).

When Roof was found by police, he was politely asked to surrender his weapon -- then taken for a hamburger by the officers before being carried to jail. An armed cold-blooded killer on the run, approached with reasonable but nonviolent caution, treated with respect and compassion (as all suspects should be). But a 12-year-old boy, in a park, with a toy, suspected of nothing other than being "suspicious" by some random fearful caller, is killed in two seconds -- in two seconds -- a 12-year-old killed in two seconds.

The reason for the different treatment is obvious -- and a searing indictment of a nation that arrogantly preaches to others about values and morals and rights and democracy. Preachments accompanied, of course, by missiles, bombs, hospital raids, regime change, weapons sales to tyrants and extremists and other instances of high morality and universal values. The killer of Tamir Rice bears his own individual guilt -- but in our sick society, the fish rots from the head.

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STW Head Joins Cameron & Blairites in Twisting Truth on "Whirlwind" Post

Written by Chris Floyd 12 December 2015 7131 Hits

An open letter to Andrew Murray, chair of the Stop the War coalition: In your Guardian interview with John Harris, you joined David Cameron and the pro-war Blairites in completely mischaracterising my “Reaping the Whirlwind” blogpost. You said you objected to it because it did not “completely condemn the Paris massacres.” This is absolutely untrue — as you would know if you had actually read the article which your own organisation posted on its website (without asking me) then removed. I ask you now to read this passage from the blogpost: “I write in despair. Despair of course at the depravity displayed by the murderers of the innocents in Paris tonight.” Is that not “complete” enough for you?

Yet your statement to Harris is, in many ways, even more egregious than the twistings of the article made by the Tories and Blairites to attack your organisation. You say, falsely, that I did not “completely condemn” the attacks. So what does that mean? That I partially approved them? Is there a certain wording — a ritual incantation, a party line — that must be followed in order to qualify for “full” condemnation? Perhaps you could post it on your website, so we can all sing from the same hymn sheet.

Your statement is not only false and near-libellous, it is ludicrous on its face. The entire article is about the despair and anguish so many of us were feeling about evil of the Paris attacks — and our further despair that the policies of our own nations, particularly the US and UK, have been instrumental in creating a world where such self-evident evil can flourish. Jeremy Corbyn — and many other people associated with Stop the War — have made these very same points, both before and after the Paris attacks. In what way is it “extremely insensitive,” as you put it, to speak of this element of our despair over the Paris atrocity, along with the specific, complete condemnation of it as the “depravity [of] the murderers of the innocents in Paris”?

Let me point out, for the nth time, that it was your organisation that put “Paris” in the headline of the article, therefore skewing perceptions of its actual content and giving an opening to your enemies among the warmongers and the seething factionalists in the Labour Party. Yet instead of simply saying, “We did not want this post by someone outside the organization to represent the official position of Stop the War” — which would have been fair enough — you instead decided to join Cameron and the Blairites in twisting the post’s clear meaning, and painting me as someone who didn’t “fully condemn” the attacks; again, leaving behind the imputation that there was some element of this horrific crime that I did not condemn, or perhaps even approved.

It was no great shock to see how the Tory-Blairite pro-war coalition seized on my article to bash your organisation; but it is very surprising — and very disheartening — to see you do the same thing. I “completely condemn” the Paris attacks, Mr Murray. I completely condemned them in the article which your organisation posted without my permission. I don’t know why you wish to compound the problems that the article has caused you by continuing to misrepresent it just as Cameron and others have done.

Oh, by the way: do feel free to post this piece on your website.

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Gutless Wonders: America Gladly Thrusts Its Neck Under the Jackboot

Written by Chris Floyd 11 December 2015 5202 Hits

Just a quick thought: when did America become a nation of such gutless, frothing cowards? Induced panics -- political, 'moral,' financial, etc. -- are an endemic feature of American history, of course. But to see people positively revelling in their cowardice -- proud of it, boasting of it, building their lives around it -- as they are today seems like something new, in degree if nothing else. Certainly since the McCarthy days, at least.

For example, I lived through an era when a global superpower had a vast nuclear arsenal on hair-trigger alert aimed directly at the US -- yet there was nothing remotely like the level of quivering fear we see today over the extremely remote threat of some isolated terrorist incident here or there. (A threat more remote than, say, being killed by a right-wing extremist, a disturbed person with easy access to guns, a local policeman -- or even your next of kin.)

There are many factors behind this, I suppose -- not least the frenzied and mendacious fearmongering of that nation-poisoning trash-merchant, Rupert Murdoch. But all of our corporate media have moved in that direction. Because fear serves more than just Fox's bottom line or the political fortunes of sinister clowns like Trump (and Cruz and Rubio and the Bush Boys and the whole sick crew). I think fear is being promoted across the board to "justify" an entire political-economic system that is now geared almost entirely to rampant militarism and rapacious financial elitism. No system of such vast and growing inequality -- coupled with an ever-expanding military-security-war profits complex that is bankrupting the national treasury, stripping away constitutional liberties, and fomenting extremism and violence around the world -- can long survive, unless it keeps people in a constant, chaotic whirl of fear and panic: fear which must be directed outward, toward one sort of alien OTHER or another (Mexicans, Muslims, Commies, Russkies, Chinese, radicals, etc.). Anything to divert attention from the crimes and corruption of our own power structures, which are wreaking more destruction on "the American way of life" than any terrorist organization could ever do.

It's not surprising that people would be influenced by such a relentless barrage of fearmongering lies, distortions and exaggerations pouring down on their heads every minute of the day from the "commanding heights" of our society. But is disheartening to see how eagerly and zealously so many Americans are rushing to embrace the degradation and servitude our "betters" are striving to impose.

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Broken Record: The "Whirlwind" of Mendacity in Labour Plotting Goes On

Written by Chris Floyd 07 December 2015 3834 Hits

[NEW UPDATE. The Guardian has just published the letter below, so I've edited the intro here.] As the ersatz angst over Jeremy Corbyn’s links to Stop the War UK flares up once more in the endless plotting of Labour factionalists, my post-Paris blog post about “reaping the whirlwind” has raised its “disreputable” head again. With the latest mentions continuing the universal misrepresentation of the post, I wrote the letter below to the Guardian, in yet another wan attempt to set the record straight:

To the Editor:
As the author of the original "reaping the whirlwind" blog that was briefly reposted (without my knowledge and with a tweaked headline) by Stop The War UK, I can assure Tristram Hunt and all the other MPs who have used the piece as a political football that it did not say or imply that the people of France or "French policy" were to blame for the Paris attacks. Every public reference to the post has been a complete mischaracterisation of its content.



The post states clearly that we in the West, all of us, are paying for the consequences of many decades of collusion with and manipulation of religious extremism by our leaders in order to advance various geopolitical goals. Is this even a controversial — much less "disreputable" — statement? For example, does anyone, even the prime minister, dispute that the rise of ISIS stems directly from 2003 invasion of Iraq by the US and UK? The post also dealt with other historical follies, such as creating an international jihad army to draw the Soviets into Afghanistan (a ploy that Zbigniew Brzezinski has proudly admitted), and the decades-long support of religious extremists such as Saudi Arabia.



Even some supporters of bombing Syria say that our past crimes and follies in the region make us responsible for taking action now to rectify their horrific consequences. One can argue whether new military action is the best way to do this; I don't think it is. But the views in the blog post are not beyond the pale of human decency, to be shunned at all cost. On the contrary, they have been part of mainstream political debate for years.



I'm not a member of the Labour Party or STW or Momentum or any other political group. It has been disheartening — though highly instructive — to see how the opinions of a private citizen can be so twisted by a political system that puts the struggle for petty partisan advantage above all else.

Sincerely yours,
Chris Floyd

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Racist Compassion: The Magical Pigmentation Protection Against "Terrorism"

Written by Chris Floyd 29 November 2015 3400 Hits

Look, here’s how it is: a white man dressed in Klan robes and a Nazi armband could shoot up a kindergarten shouting, “I’m a racist fascist terrorist deliberately committing terrorist acts to terrorize society!!!”, and the New York Times would still characterize him as “troubled soul, struggling with personal issues, an imperfect but a good man.” That’s just how it is. There is literally nothing — nothing — that a white killer can do in America that will cause him to be labelled a “terrorist.” Even if, like Dylann Roof, he explicitly states that he is committing an overt act of terror in order to instigate a race war and overthrow American society as it is now constituted. Even then, he’s not a “terrorist;" he's troubled young man, a "lone wolf" who wandered down the wrong path. It is simply impossible in the current American political discourse — even in “sophisticated” up-market media outlets like the New York Times —for a white man to be a terrorist.

Of course, anyone whose mind and psyche breaks down to such an extent that they open themselves to evil ideas and kill innocent people actually should be looked upon as a “troubled soul.” Something has gone wrong somewhere with them; something, or many things, have bent them and twisted them toward such a malevolent destiny. But in our media, in our public discourse, this kind of nuanced understanding is never, ever, in any circumstances, accorded to anyone but white male murderers. Therefore, we can only conclude that it is the white skin of the killers that evokes this careful, even compassionate understanding of what could and should be seen as part of our universal human tragedy: the brokenness that afflicts so many of us, that corrodes our humanity and drives us to horrific acts. And thus we can further conclude from the media treatment of these incidents that our society — even high on its most ‘enlightened’ commanding heights, like the NYT — believes that anyone who is not a white man is less than human. That's how it is. That's how we are, as a society and a civilization. To deny this fact is to live in delusion -- a delusion that, indeed, corrodes one's humanity and bends toward malevolent destinies.

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Word Games: False Premises Fuel Bogus Debate on Bombing Syria

Written by Chris Floyd 27 November 2015 3265 Hits

The debate over bombing ISIS in Syria rests on what one can only assume is a deliberate misapprehension. The imputation of this "debate" is that we "must do something" to quell and defeat ISIS; and the essential, imperative thing we must do to accomplish this vital goal is to bomb Syria. But of course the UK is already bombing ISIS. It bombs ISIS nearly every day -- in the group's heartland, Iraq. It has flown "thousands of missions" against ISIS, dropped tons of bombs, killed many people. Has this quelled or defeated ISIS, or curtailed its reach? Obviously not.

The origins, core strength and power centers of ISIS are all in Iraq. Syria, for all its inherent horrors, is a sideshow, a minor front for ISIS. As Patrick Cockburn notes, in Syria ISIS holds large tracts of desert territory but only one substantial city; in Iraq, it controls several major cities, rich oil fields, and strategic routes that make it a constant threat to the capital itself. The UK has been bombing ISIS in this core for some time: "thousands of missions," Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said this summer. Obviously, these continual bombings in the group's core have not affected its ability to wage war in the region or strike elsewhere in Europe. Why would bombing its hinterland in Syria have any effect?

The rush to bomb Syria is a cynical ploy to exploit the murderous tragedy in Paris for the benefit of the Washington-led agenda of regime change in Damascus. Bombing ISIS can help clear the way for the other militant Islamist rebels (including al Qaeda affiliates, now miraculously transformed into "moderates") whom the West and its Saudi allies favor. What is wanted is an acquiescent regime in Damascus, unaligned with Iran and Russia, and controlled by Sunnis. The West wants the former, the Saudis want the latter. It's part of their "long war" to finally vanquish Shiite Islam. This was the explicit statement of Prince Bandar, the long-time Saudi ambassador to the US (who grew so close to one of America's ruling family that he was affectionately known as "Bandar Bush") and later head of Saudi intelligence. Here is what he told Richard Dearlove, the then-head of the UK's intelligence agency, MI6:

"The time is not far off in the Middle East, Richard, when it will be literally 'God help the Shia'. More than a billion Sunnis have simply had enough of them."

This "chilling" conversation took place before 9/11, Dearlove notes.

The strident call to "bomb Syria" -- without any genuine strategic plan or aim behind it -- thus dovetails with geopolitical and theopolitical agendas that have absolutely nothing to do with the "safety and security of the British people" or "defeating terrorism" or "securing the freedom of the Syrian people to determine their own destiny" or "bringing peace and stability to the strife-torn Middle East." These are demonstrably NOT the overriding strategic concerns of Western leaders and their Middle Eastern allies. (Nor of the Russians, who are intervening in Syria to counter the West's geopolitical moves there and advance their own.)

Thus the "debate" over bombing Syria -- like all the other earnest public broils over government policy in the "War on Terror" -- is based on false premises. There are indeed an array of contentious factors in play, but these have to do with more mundane concerns: the struggle over control of the production and distribution of oil, gas and other natural and economic resources; attempts by various national governments and corporate interests to extend influence and exercise dominance over strategically important regions and markets; and the preservation and extension of power structures in various national governments. (The latter includes the vast and ever-expanding military-security-war profiteering complexes that now play such a commanding role in the politics and economies of major nations.) These are the enduring priorities of our power players, to be pursued by any means available.

Concerns about the safety, security and freedom of ordinary people play little or no role in the actual decisions of the policymakers involved -- unless those concerns can be usefully exploited to advance elite agendas. Abject fear -- or dulled, distracted indifference: these are the preferred states for public opinion. Any attempts at actual engagement, at genuine debate are swiftly marginalized, mocked and crippled, with the policing done by the establishment media and members of the dissenters' own party, eager to prove their loyalty to the greater power structure. This is what we are seeing in the UK right now, as Labour rips its own leader to shreds over his resistance to more war, fear, terror and exploitation.

So there is little point in earnest disquisitions over whether the bellicose policies being proposed will be effective in "confronting the scourge of terrorism." We know they won't. But that is not their intention.

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Bleaters and Tweeters: On Briefly Being a Political Football

Written by Chris Floyd 17 November 2015 3193 Hits

(UPDATED BELOW) (UPDATED AGAIN) For the past few days, I’ve had the curious experience of being — peripherally, indirectly — a political football. The original piece I wrote on the Paris bombing got picked up by StopTheWar UK, an organization associated with Jeremy Corbyn, and was then used by Labour Blairites and Tory twits to bash Corbyn for the “sickening” article, which showed what an ungodly radical he really was. He was later asked about it by the BBC.

Of course, I was not and am not associated with STW in any way. Without my knowledge or permission, someone at the organization put my piece on their website. (Not that I would have minded if I’d known, or refused permission if asked.) Then at some point later, someone removed it from the website. This too became cause for controversy, as it was “proof” of a radical conspiracy to hide what Corbyn and STW really believed, etc. etc.

Needless to say, I knew nothing of any of this as I sat at home reading the torrent of news about the attacks. The first I heard of it was when someone came onto my Twitter timeline demanding that I confirm that my article had been the original “official position” of STW before it was later, dastardly pulled. This tweet was hooked to others — a whole gaggle of Blairites raging at the “despicable” article and how it showed the urgent need to purge Holy Tony’s party of Corbynite filth. A couple of MPs were apparently on the case as well, busily tweeting away about this all-important issue in the midst of the crisis. I must say, this petty, point-scoring exploitation of the attacks for political game-playing seems more “sickening” than anything I wrote.

As for the article itself — written as the opinion of a private citizen, not on behalf of any organization or institution — I honestly didn’t see what was so controversial about it. Is it really controversial to say that without the US invasion of Iraq, there would be no ISIS? I don’t think even the supporters of that war dispute this fact. Is it controversial to say that the NATO intervention in Libya has turned that country into a chaotic spawning ground for violent extremism? Is that a disputed fact in any way? Is it disputable that the United States and Britain overthrew a secular democracy in Iran in 1953 with the help of religious fundamentalists that US/UK spies helped organize and promote? I mean, I read it in the New York Times, so it must be true.

Is it disputable that the United States and Saudi Arabia helped organize a worldwide network of violent jihadis in order to provoke the Soviet Union into intervening in Afghanistan, then trying them down there for years, in order to “give them their own Vietnam?” This is the proud and open claim of one of the chief architects of that policy, former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. Did not Ronald Reagan sit down in the White House with the forerunners of the Taliban and al Qaeda, and praise them as “freedom fighters” and moral paragons, even as his administration supplied them with textbooks extolling violence and terrorism, thus indoctrinating a whole new generation? (The Taliban continuned to use the US textbook after taking over the country.) Has the West not plied the Saudis with money, weapons and kowtowing respect, even as they exported their retrograde Wahhabi sectarianism all over the world?

Finally, is it disputable in any way that these historical facts — and many others like them — have played a decisive role in forming the unstable and violent world we live in today? Is this controversial? I grant that it might be “sickening” — but it is still the truth.

Later, a couple of people wrote to say that although they agreed with the piece and “thought it needed to be said,” they objected to the phrase “reaping the whirlwind” in the headline. Somehow, a phrase encapsulating a process which — as I clearly wrote — has been taking place over many decades was somehow read as “blaming the victims.” Well, what can I say? I was raised a Southern Baptist by a Southern Baptist deacon; the Bible's tropes and cadences are in my head. “Reaping the whirlwind” is a good biblical phrase, well-known in the wider culture. It means just what it says — and just what I was trying to say: you sow violence, you reap violence. You spend decades destroying secular political movements in Middle Eastern countries, spend decades deliberately and openly fostering sectarian extremists as your proxies, spend decades in an open military alliance with the world’s chief peddler of retrograde Islamic extremism, spend years invading and destroying whole nations, leaving sinkholes of violence and ruin behind — and guess what? You’ll have a world crawling with violent sectarian groups that have the means to strike back at you when you strike them. Again, I made the specific point that what we were seeing was the result of decades of policies and actions. It was in no way “blaming the victims” on the Paris streets; it was saying — very clearly — that there would have been no victims on the Paris streets if not for these actions and policies.

But I’m sure very few of the Blairite bleaters and Tory twit-tweeters actually read the article. Certainly none of them took issue with its substance. They saw a headline that set their hive-mind going, in a setting — the STW website — that could be exploited to make partisan hay, and off they went. Of course, except for that first Tweeter, no one ever contacted me to find out if I actually was a STW “activist” or member, as they happily and witlessly repeated around the country.

Anyway, the dogs have barked and the caravan, as they say, has already moved on, to other witless and inaccurate game-playing and partisan hackery. And our leaders continue down the same path — more bombing, more repression, more fearmongering and hate-fomenting — which they well know will only lead to more death and destruction across the world. Unfortunately for the rest of us, their murderous folly is not a game.

UPDATE: Now (Tuesday) it seems that the article is being brought up in Parliament, as David Cameron -- and several blood-eyed Labour MPs -- rail at Corbyn for "the "Stop the War" tweet" about “reaping [the] whirlwind of western support for extremist violence in Middle East”. Again, it is patently obvious that no one involved in this entirely manufactured moral apoplexy has actually read the article in question. The fake outrage is being used both as a stick to stir up the poisonous brew of political gaming, and as a diversion from any serious, measured -- and above all, informed -- discussed of the situation, and the best ways to deal with it. A very instructive episode all around.

UPDATE 2: After a long day of seeing the article egregiously mischaracterized not only by the giants of statesmanship in Parilament but also by the founts of savvy wisdom throughout the UK press, I sent the brief statement below to a couple of reporters in the national media. Needless to say, naught came of it. But I append the statement below just for, as they say, the hell of it.

Just for the record: I wrote the original blog post behind the controversy over the "Stop the War tweet" mentioned in Parliament today. I wrote it for my own political blog, Empire Burlesque. I have nothing to do with Stop the War UK. Someone there picked it up from my blog, altered the headline, then later removed the post, all without my knowledge. I knew nothing of it until someone tweeted me about it. My original article did not say the attack was "the fault of the French" nor did my headline mention "Paris". Given the broad historical context of the piece, the reference was clearly that we, the whole world, are all reaping the whirlwind of the policies and actions described in the article — going back several decades, not just to the interventions and approaches of the recent past.

There is very little that is controversial or disputable about the historical facts I noted in the post; for example, even Tony Blair admits that the Iraq War was instrumental in the rise of ISIS. But I doubt very seriously that any of the people now pouncing on the article to make great shows of moral outrage have actually read the piece. I'm sorry to see that they would rather indulge in petty political game-playing than engage in a serious, measured discussion about the best response to the Paris atrocities.

Again, I am not a member of Stop the War. I am not a member of the Labour Party. I was speaking as a private citizen -- an American citizen with a British family. The article dealt almost wholly with US, and to a lesser degree, UK policy. It did not "blame the French." It did not "blame the victims." Nothing absolves the perpetrators of the Paris massacres; this is so self-evident that it seems insulting or condescending to have to spell it out. They chose to do evil, and the responsibility is their own. But neither can we keep pretending that these horrific eruptions spring out of nowhere, or that the proper response to them is to continue the policies of violent intervention and supporting extremism for geopolitical purposes that have brought us to this hell in the first place.

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A Game Worth the Candle: Terror and the Agenda of our Elites

Written by Chris Floyd 14 November 2015 2476 Hits

People see the carnage in Paris, and cry, “When will this end?” The hard answer is that it is not going to end, not any time soon. We are living through the horrific consequences of decisions and actions taken long ago, as well as those of being taken right now. The currents and movements set in motion by these actions cannot be quelled in an instant — not by wishing, not by hashtags of solidarity or light shows on iconic buildings … and certainly not by more bombing, destruction, repression and lies, which are the main drivers of our present-day hell.

There will be no end to rampant terrorism soon because our leaders are not really interested in quelling terrorism. This is simply not a priority for them. For example, in the past 12 years they have utterly destroyed three largely secular governments (Iraq, Libya and Syria) and turned them into vast spawning grounds for violent sectarianism. They did this despite reports from their own intelligence services and military analysts telling them that the spread of violent extremism would almost certainly be the outcome of their interventions. But for our leaders — both the elected ones and the elites they serve — their geopolitical and macroeconomic agendas outweighed any concerns over these consequences. Put simply, to them, the game was worth the candle. They would press ahead with their agenda, knowing that it would exacerbate extremism and terrorism, but doubtless hoping that these consequences could be contained — or better yet, confined to nations seen as rivals to that agenda, or to remote places and peoples of no worth to our great and good.

Our leaders are not opposed to terrorism, neither as a concept nor as a practical tool. Over the past several decades, our leaders and their allies and puppets around the world have at times openly supported terrorist violence when it suited their aims. The prime example is in Afghanistan, where Jimmy Carter and his Saudi allies began arming and funding violent jihadis BEFORE the Soviet incursion there. In fact, as Carter’s own foreign policy guru, Zbigniew Brzezinski, has openly stated, the United States began supporting Islamist terrorism in Afghanistan precisely in order to draw the Soviet Union into the country. Despite fierce internal opposition in the Kremlin, the Soviets finally took the bait, and sent in troops to save the secular government it was backing from the fundamentalist rebellion.

Ronald Reagan continued and expanded this policy. The same type of men now in charge of ISIS and al Qaeda were welcomed to the Oval Office and praised by Reagan as “the moral equivalent of our founding fathers.” They were given arms, money and training in terrorist tactics by our military and intelligence services. They were given textbooks — prepared, financed and distributed by the US government — to indoctrinate schoolchildren in violent jihad. The creation of this worldwide network of Islamic extremists was aimed at weakening the Soviet Union. This was the overriding geopolitical concern of the time. Any other consequences that might flow from this policy — creating a global infrastructure of sectarian extremism, seeding a radical minority with arms, funds and innumerable contacts and connections with state were considered unimportant. But we are now living with those consequences.

These are not the only examples of course. For instance, the United States supported — and went to war for — the KLA in Kosovo, a group that it had earlier condemned as terrorists for years. The cultish terror group MEK —which not only carried out deadly terrorist attacks in Iran but also murdered American government officials — is now honored and supported by top politicians from both parties in Washington. The United States now calls al Qaeda associates in Syria “moderate rebels” and provides arms to their allies. The United States is deeply involved in Saudi Arabia’s horrific attack on Yemen against the Houthis, who had been bottling up al Qaeda in the country. Now, thanks to US bombs and guidance — and participation in a blockade of Yemen that is driving the country to starvation — al Qaeda is thriving there again. The violent extremists that the West knowingly and openly helped in NATO’s destruction of Libya are now exporting weapons and terrorists throughout Africa and the Middle East.

Again, in almost all of these cases, Western leaders were specifically warned by their own experts that their actions would exacerbate extremism and violence. And again, with this knowledge, they decided that their geopolitical agendas were more important than these consequences. This agenda — maintaining and expanding their political and economic dominance, and preserving the power and privileges that a militarist empire gives to those at the top — was more important than the security and welfare of their own people.

In this, they are as one with the leaders of ISIS and al Qaeda. They too know that the chief victims of their actions will not be the elites of the West but the ordinary Muslims going about their lives in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India and elsewhere. But their own similar agenda — power, privilege, domination — outweighs any concerns for innocent human lives.

This is the abysmal, despairing tragedy of our times. Our lives, and the lives of our children and descendants, do not really matter to our leaders; certainly not more than the agendas they pursue. And so despite the horrors we’ve seen in the past few weeks — and yes, the bombing of the Russian airliner, the mass murders in Beirut and Baghdad are every bit as horrific and grievous as the attack on Paris — nothing is likely to change. Our leaders are not even beginning to take the steps necessary to even begin addressing the consequences of their morally demented agenda and at last begin the long process of reversing the current of violence and extremism that assails us. Instead, at every turn, they are adding to the flow of death and madness, despite the stark, undeniable evidence of the consequences of their actions.

They say they are at war with terrorism. It’s a lie. They use terrorism and terrorists when it suits their agenda. They say they are “at war” with ISIS, an enemy which they tell us represents an existential threat to human civilization, and whose destruction is now our “highest priority.”  It’s a lie. In a real war against such a threat, you would make common cause against the common enemy, even if you find your allies distasteful. Thus the mutually loathing capitalists of the West and communists of the Soviet Union (and elsewhere) made common cause against Nazi Germany.

If we were really “at war” with ISIS, if its military defeat really was an overriding concern, then the West would form a military coalition with Iran, Russia, Turkey, the Syrian government and others to carry out this goal. It is obvious that for the West, the overthrow of the Assad government is far more important than defeating ISIS or bringing the conflict in Syria to an end by diplomatic means.

Instead, our leaders give every indication that they will continue the policies that have brought us to this dark and evil place. With the near-total ignorance and amnesia of our media class, there is little hope that public opinion can be mobilized to insist on a new course. And so, at some point soon, we will see more iconic buildings bathed in the colors of a Western nation (but never one from the Middle East, whose peoples suffer more, by several orders of magnitude, from the decades of extremism fostered by the West). And this will go on, year after year, until we decide that human life, human dignity, human freedom are more important than our leaders’ agendas of greed and domination.

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Age of Despair: Reaping the Whirlwind of Western Support for Extremist Violence

Written by Chris Floyd 14 November 2015 4166 Hits

We, the West, overthrew Saddam by violence. We overthrew Gadafy by violence. We are trying to overthrow Assad by violence. Harsh regimes all — but far less draconian than our Saudi allies, and other tyrannies around the world. What has been the result of these interventions? A hell on earth, one that grows wider and more virulent year after year.

Without the American crime of aggressive war against Iraq — which, by the measurements used by Western governments themselves, left more than a million innocent people dead — there would be no ISIS, no “Al Qaeda in Iraq.” Without the Saudi and Western funding and arming of an amalgam of extremist Sunni groups across the Middle East, used as proxies to strike at Iran and its allies, there would be no ISIS. Let’s go back further. Without the direct, extensive and deliberate creation by the United States and its Saudi ally of a world-wide movement of armed Sunni extremists during the Carter and Reagan administrations (in order to draw the Soviets into a quagmire in Afghanistan), there would have been no “War on Terror” — and no terrorist attacks in Paris tonight.

Again, let’s be as clear as possible: the hellish world we live in today is the result of deliberate policies and actions undertaken by the United States and its allies over the past decades. It was Washington that led and/or supported the quashing of secular political resistance across the Middle East, in order to bring recalcitrant leaders like Nasser to heel and to back corrupt and brutal dictators who would advance the US agenda of political domination and resource exploitation.

The open history of the last half-century is very clear in this regard. Going all the way back to the overthrow of the democratic government of Iran in 1953, the United States has deliberately and consciously pushed the most extreme sectarian groups in order to undermine a broader-based secular resistance to its domination agenda.

Why bring up this “ancient history” when fresh blood is running in the streets of Paris? Because that blood would not be running if not for this ancient history; and because the reaction to this latest reverberation of Washington’s decades-long, bipartisan cultivation of religious extremism will certainly be more bloodshed, more repression and more violent intervention. Which will, in turn, inevitably, produce yet more atrocities and upheaval as we are seeing in Paris tonight.

I write in despair. Despair of course at the depravity displayed by the murderers of innocents in Paris tonight; but an even deeper despair at the depravity of the egregious murderers who have brought us to this ghastly place in human history: those gilded figures who have strode the halls of power for decades in the high chambers of the West, killing innocent people by the hundreds of thousands, crushing secular opposition to their favored dictators — and again, again and again — supporting, funding and arming some of the most virulent sectarians on earth.

And one further cause of despair: that although this historical record is there in the open, readily available from the most mainstream sources, it is and will continue to be completely ignored, both by the power-gamers and by the public. The latter will continue to support the former as they replicate and regurgitate the same old policies of intervention, the same old agendas of domination and greed, over and over and over again — creating ever-more fresh hells for us all to live in, and poisoning the lives of our children, and of all those who come after us.

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Murderers Without Frontiers: An American Tradition

Written by Chris Floyd 29 October 2015 1808 Hits

This is my latest column for CounterPunch Magazine, written earlier this month: When I heard of the deadly U.S. strike on the Médecins Sans Frontières facility in Kunduz on October 3, I thought of this fragment of ancient history, written by a lowly scribe years ago:

"One of the first moves in this magnificent feat of arms was the destruction and capture of medical centers. Twenty doctors – and their patients, including women and children – were killed in an airstrike on one major clinic, the UN Information Service reports, while the city's main hospital was seized in the early hours of the ground assault. Why? Because these places of healing could be used as ‘propaganda centers,’ the Pentagon's ‘information warfare’ specialists told the NY Times. Unlike the first attack on Fallujah last spring, there was to be no unseemly footage of gutted children bleeding to death on hospital beds."

The attack on the MSF facility might well be an unintended consequence of the "fog of war," as the Americans claim. (Although just before the strike, Pentagon massagers were opining to their media mouthpieces how awful the Russians were for bombing Syria without the super-duper-ultra-advanced "precision" technology and high-tech intelligence that the USA uses. So why did they strike the Kunduz hospital, having been carefully and continually informed of its location beforehand? And why did they keep bombing even after they'd been told of the supposed error? As the MSF tweeted: “Bombing continued for 30 minutes after American & Afghan military officials in Kabul & Washington first informed of proximity to hospital.”)

But whatever happened in Kunduz, America’s Terror Warriors certainly have form, as the Brits say, when it comes to deliberately targeting medical centers. The passage above was from a column I wrote in 2004 about one of the most brazen war crimes of the 21st century: America’s decimation of Fallujah in Iraq.

The city was marked for destruction after four mercenaries were killed there in the early days of the occupation. The incident was depicted as an act of pure evil by the brutal natives; left unreported in almost every story was the fact that the occupying forces had slaughtered more than a dozen civilians before the reprisal against the mercenaries. An initial punishment assault against the city failed, partly due to the bad PR generated by footage of the horrific civilian casualties, and US forces backed off for a few months. But just after the 2004 election, the Pentagon gave their warrior chief, George Bush, a human sacrifice to celebrate his victory, and launched their second attack on the city. As I noted at the time:

“So while Americans saw stories of rugged ‘Marlboro Men’ winning the day against Satan, they were spared shots of engineers cutting off water and electricity to the city – a flagrant war crime under the Geneva Conventions, as CounterPunch notes, but standard practice throughout the occupation. Nor did pictures of attack helicopters gunning down civilians trying to escape across the Euphrates River – including a family of five – make the TV news, despite the eyewitness account of an AP journalist. Nor were tender American sensibilities subjected to the sight of phosphorous shells bathing enemy fighters – and nearby civilians – with unquenchable chemical fire, literally melting their skin, as the Washington Post reports. Nor did they see the fetus being blown out of the body of Artica Salim when her home was bombed during the ‘softening-up attacks’ that raged relentlessly – and unnoticed – in the closing days of George W. Bush's presidential campaign, the Scotland Sunday Herald reports.”

I don’t know if the carnage in Kunduz was “collateral” or, as in Fallujah, carefully planned. But in many ways, it doesn’t matter. Since the days when Jimmy Carter joined his Saudi allies in creating the worldwide network of violent jihadis, through the expansion of extremist jihad by Ronald Reagan (who called the extremists “the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers”) and the systematic campaign to destroy secular governments throughout the Muslim world and empower violent sectarians (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc.) to fill the vacuum, the bipartisan military imperialists in charge of the American state bear the responsibility for an untold — and ever-growing — number of atrocities, committed on every side.

Without the invasion of Iraq, no ISIS. Without America’s arming of a global jihad movement to overthrow the secular government in Afghanistan, no al Qaeda. Without 70 years of American protection of the pushers of the most violent, extremist, retrograde off-shoot of Islam, the corrupt Saudi tyrants — coupled with 70 years of America’s relentless destruction and undermining of every single non-sectarian political movement in the Middle East in favor of tyrants, satraps and puppets — no worldwide “radicalization” of repressed and threatened Muslims.

But don’t get me wrong: I don’t want to be seen as part of the “Blame America First” crowd on this. I don’t hold with such a reductive stance, especially in the face of the vast complexities and nuances of geopolitics. No, when it comes to fixing the primary guilt for the dark thunderclouds of fear, war, madness, extremism, instability, tyranny and chaos that loom over our time, I don’t “blame America first.” I blame America first, second, third, fourth, fifth and last. And I damn the bipartisan leaders who have made this so.

***

UPDATE: Since this piece was written there has been another American-assissted attack on an MSF facility, this time in Yemen, where with American bombs guided by American intelligence, an MSF clinic was hit repeatedly, for two hours, by America's favorite violent sectarians, the Saudis. (Although of course al Qaeda -- one of the chief beneficiaries of the US-Saudi berskerking in Yemen, and also an increasingly important, and increasingly open ally in Syria -- runs a close second. The Independent has more here.)

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Windsor Knot: Confirmation of UK Royal Treason with Nazis

Written by Chris Floyd 22 October 2015 2105 Hits

While we're all going back in time to talk about bigwigs who supported and/or collaborated with the Nazis, let's take a look at this smoking gun that recently appeared in the London Review of Books: documentary proof of the former King of England's treason with the Nazis, supplying them with top-secret info from high-level war strategy meetings. (Of course, I suppose the Mufti of Jerusalem talked the Duke of Windsor into this treachery; as we all know, thanks to Benjamin Netanyahu, the Mufti had magical powers that could make even a good guy like Hitler do bad things.)

This was a letter to the editor in the 8 October issue of the LRB:

The Duke of Windsor’s War

The Duke of Windsor appears also to have been a traitor (Letters, 10 September and Letters, 24 September). At the outbreak of war in 1939, he was made a major-general attached to the British Military Mission in France. In that capacity he would have attended Allied War Council meetings. It became known after the war that he had made a visit to The Hague in January 1940 (the Netherlands was still neutral then) and paid a visit to the German Embassy there. The following extract is from the German Foreign Policy Documents 1918-45, Series D, Vol. VIII, No. 621. These can be found online.

    124/122669

    Minister Zech to State Secretary Weizsäcker

    SECRET

    THE HAGUE, February 19, 1940.

    DEAR WEIZSÄCKER: The Duke of W., about whom I wrote to you in my letter of the 27th of last month, has said that the Allied War Council devoted an exhaustive discussion at its last meeting to the situation that would arise if Germany invaded Belgium. Reference was made throughout to a German invasion plan said to have been found in an airplane that made a forced landing in Belgium. On the military side, it was held that the best plan would be to make the main resistance effort in the line behind the Belgian-French border, even at the risk that Belgium should be occupied by us. The political authorities are said to have at first opposed this plan: after the humiliation suffered in Poland, it would be impossible to surrender Belgium and the Netherlands also to the Germans. In the end, however, the political authorities became more yielding.

    Heil Hitler!

    Zech

Andrew Richardson
Bournemouth

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