Archive for August, 2013

Shock and Awful, Redux

August 31, 2013

August 29, 2013

 

By Kathy Malloy

The hypocrisy over US outrage over the use of chemical weapons by Syria’s Assade regime aside, our leaders in Washington persist in their purported moral authority to strike a nation which has not taken any provocative action against us. And this time, they’re not even bothering with the UN Security Council.

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Source: Mike Malloy

    

Here we go again, Truthseekers. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have painted themselves into a corner and now we are poised to attack yet another Mideast nation.

The hypocrisy over US outrage over the use of chemical weapons by Syria’s Assade regime aside, our leaders in Washington persist in their purported moral authority to strike a nation which has not taken any provocative action against us. And this time, they’re not even bothering with the UN Security Council.

John Kerry will be spared his Colin Powell moment, and overwrought descriptions of aluminum tubes, mushroom clouds, and vials of pretend anthrax. But our battered global reputation will not be spared from further recrimination over our coming military action.

The Washington Post has more:

“The Obama administration appeared Wednesday to be forging ahead with preparations to attack Syria. It dismissed a Syrian request to extend chemical weapons inspections there as a delaying tactic and said it saw little point in further discussion of the issue at the United Nations.

“President Obama said that ‘there need to be international consequences’ for the Aug. 21 chemical strikes he said he has concluded were carried out by the Syrian government.

“‘I have no interest in any kind of open-ended conflict in Syria,’ Obama said in an interview with the PBS NewsHour, stressing that he has not decided to order a military attack.

“‘But we do have to make sure that when countries break international norms on chemical weapons they are held accountable,’ he said.

“A closed-door meeting of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, called to consider a British-drafted resolution authorizing the use of force to prevent any further use of chemical weapons in Syria, adjourned without action after Russia and China opposed the measure.

“In response, U.S. officials made clear they considered such initiatives irrelevant to Obama’s decision on military action. Although officials gave no indication of when a U.S. attack might occur, they said they expect U.N. inspectors to leave Syria on Saturday.

Isn’t the Bush Doctrine grand? The precedent is set for preemptive strike, anytime, anywhere, without oversight by Congress, the UN, or any other international body.

Mel Brooks once said “it’s good to be the king.” Perhaps. But is it good to live in this kingdom?

Submitters Website: www.mikemalloy.com

Submitters Bio:

Kathy never expected a career in radio as a talk show producer. Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Kathy was completing her nursing degree when in 2001 – in an emergency – she was asked to fill in as the producer of Mike’s program. Within a few weeks she knew she’d found more than a temporary job. Since that beginning, Kathy has steadily grown more comfortable behind the control console, editing, engineering, and assisting in topic selection for the program while also retaining a fairly sizeable chunk of her sanity. Oh, and did we mention the utter (joyful) chaos of raising a daughter who, for some odd reason, only stops talking when she’s asleep. Strange, that.

A life-long “talk radio junkie,” Kathy takes her job with all the seriousness required, and thoroughly enjoys producing a talk show that’s intelligent, factual, informative, and most of all entertaining. She takes great pride in — and has great fun with — the two biggest joys in her life: Their daughter Molly, and producing one of the most dynamic talk programs in radio.

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To What End Do We Kill?

August 31, 2013
August 29, 2013

 

By William Boardman

There is no good reason to make a bad situation worse. It’s likely to get worse all on its own, and unimaginably worse if the government starts to fall.

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In Syria, Answering Atrocity With Atrocity Should Achieve More Atrocity

By William Boardman — Reader Supported News


Syria is not a real country. by [online.wsj.com]

Are you saying that doing nothing in Syria is the best option? 

The unpleasant reality in Syria is that there are no good choices, for the U.S. or much of anyone else.  But the crushing reality is that, comparatively, the U.S. and perhaps the world will be better off keeping Assad in power for the nonce, rather than coping with the likely chaos flowing uncontrollably from any other outcome.

There is no good reason to make a bad situation worse. It’s likely to get worse all on its own, and unimaginably worse if the government starts to fall.

But wouldn’t it be good if the “rebels” won? 

Not likely. No one knows who the “rebels” are with any certainty, except that we know they are anything but a united, coherent force. We don’t even know if any of them have goals worthy of support. There are many rebel groups with as many interests, most of them lethal — to each other, to their neighbors, to everyone.

But getting rid of Assad is good all by itself, isn’t it? 

Oh, of course, just like getting rid of Saddam Hussein was good all by itself. Have you no memory?

Unfortunately, we have been cursed with leadership that chooses to ignore the reality that nothing exists “all by itself.”  Everything is interconnected, which should be obvious to anyone.  But Obama/Kerry don’t seem to get it any better than Bush/Cheney did.  Their common assumption, that they can control reality and determine outcomes, is a hallmark of hubris (also madness, also bloodthirsty recklessness).

For all the mindless destruction the Iraq war has visited on everyone involved (except the insulated commanders), the indefensible result today is an Iraq that has suffered and continues to suffer far more than it would have had Saddam remained in power.  War crimes tend to turn out badly.

So we should leave Assad in power? 

The first problem with that question is the assumption that it’s up to “us,” whoever “us” is. Unquestionably “we” can intervene in any horrific way we choose, and no one can stop us.  But that’s where our control of events ends, and the benefits of any intervention are hard to identify — most likely because they are nil.

Of course an attack might briefly satisfy the mindless impulse to “do something,” even if all we accomplished was showing that we were tough, by teaching Syrians they better not kill Syrians unless they want us to come in and kill more Syrians.

But chemical weapons are evil, aren’t they? 

That’s really a religious question. But eve if they ARE evil, so what?  Foreign policy doesn’t involve itself with questions of good and evil.

That’s not the cavalier response it may look like — the answer is “so what?” because pretty much everyone uses chemical weapons one way of another and almost all the time no one does anything about it.  The cry of “chemical weapons” is mindless emotionalism designed to eliminate thought, not illuminate it.

What does that mean? 

Depleted Uranium (DU) is a toxic heavy metal with lethal properties.  The U.S. and other countries have used and continues to use depleted Uranium weapons, DU WMDs.  Our depleted Uranium still poisons country from the Balkans to Iraq. Logically, we should have been sending Tomahawk missiles against ourselves for the past 20 years, to teach ourselves a lesson we’re clearly having a hard time learning.

So ignore the pseudo morality of a near-hysterical Secretary of State who thought the illegal war in Iraq was a good idea, or at least too popular to resist.  When Kerry calls chemical weapons in Syria a “moral obscenity” (as he did on August 26), remind yourself that he has never objected to DU WMDs.  Ever.

There is no principle at stake in the current Syrian situation, there is no articulable goal that justifies intervention except intervention for its own sake.  All that’s at stake in the unprincipled use of power for its own sake.

Are you saying we should just stand by and watch people die? 

Get over yourself.  We do it all the time when it suits us.

That’s how the world has been for a long time, probably even before we intervened with Native American populations by giving them blankets laced with smallpox.

 Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

Submitters Bio:

Vermonter living in Woodstock: elected to five terms (served 20 years) as side judge (sitting in Superior, Family, and Small Claims Courts); public radio producer, “The Panther Program” — nationally distributed, three albums (at CD Baby), some runner-up awards; reporter and columnist (Rutland Herald, Valley News, Vermont Standard, others); teacher at Woodstock Country School, for which I was commissioned to write the history, “Institutional Denial”; TV writer (“That Was The Week That Was,” “Captain Kangaroo,” others). Guiding principle: “nobody really knows anything.”

An Appeal to Gen. Dempsey on Syria

August 31, 2013
August 30, 2013

 

By Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

Gen. Martin Dempsey, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, has spoken soberly about the dangers from any military strike on Syria, but press reports indicate President Obama is still set on launching cruise missiles in the coming days, an action that former U.S. intelligence professionals say should prompt Dempsey’s resignation.

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Original published at Consortium News


Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

MEMORANDUM FOR: General Martin Dempsey, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

SUBJECT: Syria and Our Oath to Defend the Constitution

Dear Gen. Dempsey:

Summary:  We refer to your acknowledgment, in your letter of July 19 to Sen. Carl Levin on Syria, that a “decision to use force is not one that any of us takes lightly. It is no less than an act of war.” It appears that the President may order such an act of war without proper Congressional authorization. 

As seasoned intelligence and military professionals solemnly sworn to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, we have long been aware that — from private to general — it is one’s duty not to obey an illegal order. If such were given, the honorable thing would be to resign, rather than be complicit.

The options your letter addressed regarding potential use of military force included five being considered at the time:

(1) Train, Advise, Assist the Opposition;(2) Conduct Limited Stand-off Strikes;

(3) Establish a No-Fly Zone;

(4) Establish Buffer Zones;

(5) Control Chemical Weapons.

You were quite candid about the risks and costs attached to each of the five options, and stressed the difficulty of staying out of the Syrian civil war, once the U.S. launched military action. In responding to questions on military options voiced at your re-nomination hearing on July 18, your letter to the chair of the Committee on Armed Services reflects that you acknowledge Congress’s Constitutional role with respect to U.S. “acts of war.” Equally important, you addressed these words to Sen. Levin: “You deserve my best military advice on how military force could be used in order to decide whether it should be used.” (emphasis in your letter).

“Tailored, Limited” Strike Option

Presumably, there has not been enough time to give Sen. Levin’s committee an equivalent assessment of the implications of the new option described by the President Wednesday evening as a “tailored, limited” response to the chemical weapons attack on August 21 that he has been told was carried out by Syrian government forces. President Obama said, without elaboration, that a retaliatory strike is “needed … to protect U.S. security.”

It is precisely this kind of unsupported claim (so embarrassingly reminiscent of the spurious ones used more than a decade ago to “justify” attacks on Iraq) that needs to be subjected to rigorous analysis by both the Pentagon and Congress BEFORE the President orders military action. For some unexplained reason of urgency, that order may come within the next day or two. With no wish to prejudge the results of analysis presumably under way, we feel it our responsibility to tell you now that, speaking out of several hundred years of collective experience in intelligence and national security matters, we strongly believe that the President’s reference to a military strike on Syria being “needed to protect U.S. security” cannot bear close scrutiny.

In all candor, the credibility of his chief national security advisers — and his own credibility — have been seriously damaged in recent months, giving all the more urgency and importance to the need for Congress to exercise its Constitutional role regarding war. And, as usual, there are serious problems with the provenance and nature of the “intelligence” that is being used to support the need for military action.

In your July 19 letter to Sen. Levin you emphasized: “As we weigh our options, we should be able to conclude with some confidence that the use of force will move us toward the intended outcome. ” Once we take action, we should be prepared for what comes next. Deeper involvement is hard to avoid. We should act in accordance with the law, and to the extent possible, in concert with our allies and partners.” (emphasis supplied)

This last sentence raises, first and foremost, the question of what the Constitution says of the role of Congress in authorizing a military attack that, in your words, “is no less than an act of war” (further discussed below).

It also raises the important issue of how seriously we should take the result of democratic Parliamentary procedures among our allies. Although not legally required to do so, British Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday sought Parliamentary approval for military action against Syria and was rebuffed. With as much grace as he could summon, Cameron said the British people had expressed their will and he would not flout it (even though he could do so, legally in the British system):

“It is clear to me that the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that, and the government will act accordingly,” a tense-looking Cameron said immediately after the vote.

French President Francois Hollande has said his country may still strike Syria to “punish” it for allegedly using chemical weapons, despite the British Parliament’s failure to endorse military action. If Fiji can be lined up again, that would make a coalition of at least three.

The Fundamentals: Congress’ Role

Before the President spoke on Wednesday, the ranking member on the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice, Jerrold Nadler issued a formal statement titled: Constitution Requires Congressional Authorization on Use of Force Against Syria. Nadler wrote:

“The Constitution requires that, barring an attack on the United States or an imminent threat to the U.S., any decision to use military force can only be made by Congress — not by the President. The decision to go to war — and we should be clear, launching a military strike on another country, justified or not, is an act of war — is reserved by the Constitution to the American people acting through their elected representatives in Congress.”Since there is no imminent threat to the United States, there is no legal justification for bypassing the Constitutionally-required Congressional authorization. ‘Consultation’ with Congress is not sufficient. The Constitution requires Congressional authorization. 

“The American people deserve to have this decision debated and made in the open, with all the facts and arguments laid out for public review and debate, followed by a Congressional vote. If the President believes that military action against Syria is necessary, he should immediately call Congress back into session and seek the Constitutionally-required authorization.”

As of Thursday, more than a third of the House of Representatives have spoken out against being marginalized, as they were before Libya, many insisting that there be Congressional debate and a vote before any military strike on Syria.

In addition, Republican House Speaker John Boehner sent Obama a letter Wednesday urging him to “make the case to the American people and Congress for how potential military action will secure American national security interests, preserve America’s credibility, deter the future use of chemical weapons, and, critically, be a part of our broader policy and strategy.”

The President called Boehner on Thursday to brief him “on the status of deliberations over Syria,” according to a Boehner spokesman, who added that, “during the call, the speaker sought answers to concerns outlined in his letter, including the legal justification for any military strike.” After the call, Boehner reportedly complained that his questions had not been answered.

Holding Congress in Contempt

Elementary school children learn that, in view of the Founders’ experience with English kings, it was not by chance that, in crafting the Constitution, they took care to give to our elected representatives in Congress the exclusive “Power To declare War [and] To raise and support Armies.” (Article 1, Section 8). The somber historical consequences of letting this key power of Congress fall into disuse after WWII — in effect, allowing Presidents to act like Kings — speak eloquently to the folly of ignoring Article 1, Section 8.

And yet, there is no sign that President Barack Obama intends to request Congressional authorization (as opposed to “consultation” with chosen Members) before he orders military action against Syria. Indeed, he and his top appointees have been openly contemptuous of the Constitutional role of Congress in such matters.

Obama’s former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was smoother and more wise-old-handish than his predecessors in emasculating Congressional power. Thanks to Panetta, we have direct insight into how the Obama administration may strike Syria with very little consultation (not to mention authorization) from Congress.

Several of us remember watching you in some distress sitting next to your then-boss Panetta as he tried to put Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) in his place, at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 7, 2012. Chafing belatedly over the unauthorized nature of the war in Libya, Sessions asked repeatedly what “legal basis” would the Obama administration rely on to do in Syria what it did in Libya.

Panetta stonewalled time after time, making it abundantly clear that the Obama administration does not believe it needs Congressional approval for wars like the one in Libya. “I am really baffled,” said Sessions. “The only legal authority that’s required to deploy the U.S. military [in combat] is the Congress and the President and the law and the Constitution.”

Panetta’s response did nothing to relieve Sessions’s bafflement: “Let me just for the record be clear again, Senator, so there is no misunderstanding. When it comes to national defense, the President has the authority under the Constitution to act to defend this country, and we will, Sir.”

You will remember Panetta’s attitude, which Sen. Sessions called “breathtaking.” You said nothing then, and we can understand that. But, frankly, we are hoping that you had that awkward experience in mind when you reminded Sen. Levin that, “We should act in accordance with the law.”

Clearly, there is an important Constitutional issue here. The question is whether you will again choose to be silent, or whether you will give Secretary Chuck Hagel and the President notice that your oath to support and defend the Constitution precludes complicity in end-running Congress on Syria.

If, Resign

We do not understand why the White House has so far been unwilling to await the results of the UN inspection in Damascus, but we are all too familiar with what happens once the juggernaut starts rolling to war. However, if despite Thursday’s vote in the British Parliament and the increased opposition in Congress to war without the authorization of Congress, the President decides to order an attack on Syria, we urge you to act in accordance with your solemn oath to support and defend the Constitution, as well as your own conscience.

In such circumstances, we believe strongly that you should resign and explain your reasons at once to the American people.

Very Respectfully,

For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

William Binney, Senior Scientist, NSA (ret.)

Thomas Drake, Senior Executive, NSA (former)

Dan Ellsberg, VIPS Member Emeritus

Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)

Larry Johnson, CIA & State Department (ret.)

W. Patrick Lang, Senior Executive and Defense Intelligence Officer, DIA (ret.)

David MacMichael, National Intelligence Council (ret.)

Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Middle East (ret.)

Todd Pierce, US Army Judge Advocate General (ret.)

Coleen Rowley, Division Council & Special Agent, FBI (ret.)

Larry Wilkerson, Col., US Army (ret); Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell

Ann Wright, Col., US Army (ret); Foreign Service Officer (ret.)

Submitters Website: http://

Submitters Bio:

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity  ( VIPS ) is a group of current and former officials of the  United States Intelligence Community , including some from the  Central Intelligence Agency  (CIA), the  U.S. State Department ‘s  Intelligence Bureau  (INR), and the  Defense Intelligence Agency  (DIA). It was formed in January 2003 as a “coast-to-coast enterprise” to protest the use of faulty intelligence “upon which the US/UK invasion of Iraq was based.” [1][2][3]  The group issued a letter before the  2003 invasion of Iraqstating that intelligence analysts were not being listened to by policy makers. In August 2010 it issued a memorandum to the White House warning of an imminent Israeli attack on Iran.

More at wikipedia

Who Blocked Syrian Peace Talks?

August 31, 2013

August 30, 2013

 

By Robert Parry

Though the international press reported earlier this year that it was the Syrian opposition blocking peace talks, that reality has disappeared in recent U.S. articles which blame lack of negotiations on President Bashar al-Assad, all the better to build a propaganda framework for a wider war.

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Source: Consortium News


Syrian opposition leader Ahmad al-Jarba.

Painful experiences of recent years should have taught the American people the danger that comes when the government and the mainstream press adopt a pleasing but false narrative, altering the facts to support a “good guy v. bad guy” scenario, such as is now being done regarding the history of Syrian peace talks.

The preferred narrative now is that American military force against Syria is needed not only to punish President Bashar al-Assad for allegedly using chemical weapons but to compel his participation in peace talks aimed at ending the civil war. That is a storyline that has slipped into U.S. “news” articles in recent days.

Gordon wrote: “State Department officials initially said the peace conference might occur before the end of May, but plans became bogged down in differences between the United States and Russia, and the conference has yet to be held. For instance, on Friday, the New York Times’ Michael Gordon stripped out the actual history of why the opposing sides of the Syrian civil war have not come together for planned meetings in Geneva. Instead, Gordon placed the blame on Assad and on obstacles partly the fault of the Russians, leaving out the fact that it was the U.S.-supported Syrian opposition that has repeatedly torpedoed the talks.

“And the Obama administration [regarding its expected missile strike against Syrian government positions] did not articulate a comprehensive military strategy that would — in concert with allies — be certain to weaken the Assad government to the point that it would be willing to cede power and negotiate.”

So, you are supposed to believe that “our” side — the brave “opposition” in league with the U.S. State Department — is ever so reasonable, wanting peace and eager to negotiate, but that “their” side — both the evil Assad and his troublemaking Russian allies — is unwilling to take difficult steps for peace.

Except that this storyline from Gordon and other mainstream journalists isn’t accurate. Indeed, from May to July. the U.S. news media, including the New York Times, reported a different scenario: that Assad had agreed to participate in the Geneva peace talks but that the opposition was refusing to attend.

On July 31, for example, Ben Hubbard of the New York Times reported that “the new conditions, made by the president of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, Ahmad al-Jarba … reflected a significant hardening of his position. He said that the opposition would not negotiate with President Bashar al-Assad or ‘his clique’ and that talks could begin only when the military situation in Syria was positive for rebel forces.”

The opposition has spelled out other preconditions, including the need for the United States to supply the rebels with more sophisticated weapons and a demand that Assad’s Lebanese Hezbollah allies withdraw from Syria. The most recent excuse for the rebels not going to Geneva is the dispute over Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons.

Yet, even if Gordon and other mainstream journalists sympathize with the opposition’s reasons for staying away from the peace talks, reporters shouldn’t alter the narrative to shape U.S. public opinion. That is a case of journalistic malfeasance reminiscent of the way the Times and other news outlets manufactured a case for war with Iraq in 2002-2003.

Indeed, Gordon played a key role in that propaganda effort as well, co-authoring with Judith Miller the infamous Times article on Sept. 8, 2002, touting the false claim that Iraq was purchasing aluminum tubes for use in building nuclear weapons, the story that gave rise to the memorable refrain from President George W. Bush and his aides that they couldn’t let “the smoking gun” be “a mushroom cloud.”

Though Miller eventually was forced to resign from the Times — after her level of collaboration with the Bush administration’s neocons was exposed — Gordon escaped any serious accountability, remaining the newspaper’s chief military correspondent.

But Gordon is far from alone these days in spinning a more pleasing black-and-white narrative about Syria. It apparently seems to many mainstream U.S. journalists that it’s nicer to portray “our” side as favoring peace and going the extra mile to negotiate a cease-fire and “their” side as intransigent and eager for more bloodshed.

And, if the facts don’t support that scenario, you just leave out some and make up others.

Submitters Website: http://www.consortiumnews.com

Submitters Bio:

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It’s also available at Amazon.com, as is his 1999 book, Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth.’

Will Obama Doom Himself As A War Criminal?

August 31, 2013

August 30, 2013

 

By Paul Craig Roberts

Unless the world is prepared to flush international law, arrest orders for the War Criminal will have to come from the Hague. Obama will have to be handed over and put on trial. He will have no more leg to stand on than did the Nazis. The evil neocons are telling Obama that he must prove that he is a man and go it alone. If Obama does, he will prove that he is a War Criminal.

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Source: Paul Craig Roberts

Obama, pushed by his Israeli and neocon masters, especially his National Security Advisor, Susan Rice, who, in effect, functions as an Israeli agent, crawled far out on the limb, only to have it sawed off by the British Parliament.
In response, the “socialist” president of France, Hollande, who lacks French support for  France’s participation in a US/Israeli orchestrated military attack on Syria, has crawled  back off the limb, saying that, while everything is still on the table, he has to see some evidence first.
As Cameron and Obama have made clear, there is no evidence. Even US intelligence has declared that there is no conclusive evidence that Assad used chemical weapons or even has control over the weapons.
Even the US puppet government in Canada has disavowed participating in the Obama/Israeli war crime.
This leaves Obama with support only from Turkey and Israel. Recently, the Turkish government shot down in the streets more of its own people — peaceful protesters, not  imported mercenaries trying to overthrow the Turkish government — than were killed in  the alleged use of chemical weapons by Assad.
As the entire world is aware, the Israeli government has been committing crimes against the people in Palestine for decades. A distinguished Jewish jurist concluded in an official report that the Israeli government committed war crimes in its attack on the civilian population of Gaza.
No country regards the criminal states of Turkey and Israel as cover for a war crime. If Obama is pushed by Susan Rice and the evil neocons, who are strongly allied with Israel, into going it alone and conducting a military strike on Syria, Obama will have made himself an unambiguous War Criminal under the Nuremberg Standard created by the US Government. Unprovoked military aggression is a war crime under international law. That is completely clear. There are no ifs or buts about it.
If Obama now strikes Syria, when he has no cover from the UN, or from NATO, or from the American people, or from Congress, having ignored the House and Senate, Obama  will stand before the entire world, starkly, as a War Criminal.
Unless the world is  prepared to flush international law, arrest orders for the War Criminal will have to come from the Hague. Obama will have to be handed over and put on trial. He will have no  more leg to stand on than did the Nazis.
The evil neocons are telling Obama that he must prove that he is a man and go it alone.  If Obama does, he will prove that he is a War Criminal.

Submitters Website: http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/

Submitters Bio:

Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan Administration. He was associate editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal, columnist for Business Week and the Scripps Howard News Service. He is a contributing editor to Gerald Celente’s Trends Journal. He has had numerous university appointments. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is available here:  http://www.amazon.com/Failure-Capitalism-Economic-Dissolution-ebook/dp/B00BLPJNWE/ref=sr_1_17?ie=UTF8&qid=1362095594&sr=8-17&keywords=paul+craig+roberts

Assad Should Be Arrested and Charged with Crimes Against Humanity

August 31, 2013

August 31, 2013

 

By Joel Joseph

Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria, Should be Tried by the International Criminal Court for Crimes Against Humanity

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Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria, Should be Tried by the International Criminal Court for Crimes Against Humanity

By Joel D. Joseph

Rather than attacking Syria, and risking the lives of countless civilians, the United States and other nations should charge Syrian President Bashar al-Assad with crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court.  The United States, after charges are filed, could arrange for the arrest of Mr. Assad, by U.S. Rangers or Navy Seals.

The United States should not take the law into its own hands and unilaterally attack Syria.  We are not the world’s policeman.  We should support the rule of law and see to it that Assad is charged, arrested and convicted of crimes against humanity for using poison gas on his own citizens.

Bashar Hafez al-Assad is the President of Syria  and Regional Secretary of the Syrian-led branch of the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party. He has served as President since June 10, 2000, when he succeeded his father, Hafex al-Assad, who ruled Syria for 30 years prior to his death.

Bashar al-Assad personally signed the Rome Statute for Syria on November 29, 2000.  The Rome Statute created the International Criminal Court.  Although the Syrian parliament never ratified the Rome Statute, the fact that Assad himself signed it should give the International Criminal Court jurisdiction over Mr. Assad.

The International Criminal Court is a permanent tribunal  to prosecute individuals for genocide , crimes against humanity , war crimes  and the crime of  aggression .  The Court is located inThe Hague , Netherlands, The Office of the Prosecutor is responsible for conducting investigations and prosecutions. It is headed by the Chief Prosecutor,

One of the great innovations of the Statute of the International Criminal Court and its Rules of Procedure and Evidence is the series of rights granted to victims.  For the first time in the history of international criminal justice, victims have the possibility under the Statute to present their views and observations before the Court.

The Court has established an Office of Public Counsel for Victims, to provide support and assistance to victims and their legal representatives Article 79 of the Rome Statute establishes a Trust Fund to make financial  reparations  to victims and their families.

According to the Human Rights Watch,  “the ICC has one of the most extensive lists of due process guarantees ever written,” including “presumption of innocence; right to counsel ; right to present evidence and to confront witnesses; right to remain silent ; right to be present at trial; right to have charges proved beyond a reasonable doubt; and protection against double jeopardy.” Unlike the International Court of Justice , the ICC is legally independent from the United Nations. However, but the United Nations can refer criminal matters to the court.

If the United States “arrests” President Assad, there will be a power vacuum in Damascus.  This could present an opportunity to have a peace agreement and hopefully lead to the establishment of a constitution and free elections in Syria.

Our violent overreaction (shock and awe come to mind) to the claims of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq gravely harmed the reputation and of the United States.   Many observers believe that we invaded Iraq for its massive oil reserves.  If the United States handles this grave situation in Syria with minimal injuries to civilians, it will increase respect for America in the Arab world and reinforce the rule of law.

Submitters Bio:

Chairman, Made in the USA Foundation, economist and lawyer, author of ten books and hundreds of articles.

Obama: You Cannot Start a War by Yourself

August 31, 2013

August 31, 2013

 

By Ralph Nader

Dear President Obama: Before you decide to attack Syria, yet another Arab or Islamic country that does not threaten U.S. security, there are certain constitutional “niceties” that you should observe. Chronically violating the Constitution overturns the rule of law and can produce costly blowbacks.

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August 30, 2013

Dear President Obama:

Before you decide to attack Syria, yet another Arab or Islamic country that does not threaten U.S. security, there are certain constitutional “niceties” that you should observe. Chronically violating the Constitution overturns the rule of law and can produce costly blowbacks.

From http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:US_Navy_100415-N-8863V-143_Capt._Jay_Kadowaki%2C_commanding_officer_of_Naval_Surface_Warfare_Center_%28NSWC%29%2C_Corona_Division%2C_reads_the_Navy%27s_mandate_from_the_U.S._Constitution.jpg: US Navy 100415-N-8863V-143 Capt. Jay Kadowaki, commanding officer of Naval Surface Warfare Center Corona Division reads the Navy's mandate from the U.S. Constitution

On August 28, you stated that bombing Syria “is not about war, it’s about accountability,” obviously referring to the brutal gassing of neighborhoods outside of Damascus. What about your accountability to receive authorization from Congress which, under Article 1, Section 8, has the sole and exclusive power to declare war? Spare Americans the casuistry of your lawyers who “legalized” your war on Libya, with no declaration, authorization or appropriation of funds from Congress, and pushed the envelope of the “unitary presidency” beyond the unlawful and brazen extremes advocated by George W. Bush and his lawyers.

Nearly 200 members of both parties of Congress — now on its August recess — demanded there be no attack on Syria without Congressional authorization. These signers have so far included 72 Democrats. Merely secretly consulting with some lawmakers on the Intelligence Committees does not substitute for formal Congressional authorization. The framers of our Constitution — whatever their other differences — were unanimous in writing Article 1, Section 8, so that no president could go to war on his own. To do so, as you have already done in the past, would be a major impeachable offense.

The media have reported that your lawyers are searching for legal justification for Tomahawk Missiling Syria. They need look no more — the Constitution clearly rests the power to engage in war with Congress and Congress only. You cannot start another war! You cannot continue to be the prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner anywhere, and at any time.

You may think the foregoing cautious and mere formalities. But the framers held the war-making power in Congress for another reason than just thwarting a latter-day King George III tyranny. They wanted a deliberative open process to avoid reckless presidential decisions that were bad for our country and produced entanglements with warring foreign nations. Remember George Washington’s farewell address on this point — truer today than in his day.

Remember what the nearly 200 members of Congress said to you — “engaging our military in Syria with no direct threat to the United States and without prior Congressional authorization would violate the separation of powers that is clearly delineated in the Constitution.” Congressional deliberations would ask the following questions in the open:

1. Assuming the veracity of the regime as the cause, how could a U.S. attack not make a horrible situation even more horrible, both inside Syria and in the volatile region?
2. Why are so many in the U.S. military privately opposed to such an action — though they defer to civilian authority? Could it be due to the lack of any strategic purpose and the violent plethora of uncontrollable consequences? See the oppositional stands, reported in the August 30th Washington Post, “from captains to a four-star general.”
3. How are you going to avoid the kind of awful continual civilian casualties that were produced in the first Iraq war in 1991? U.S. bombings broke chemical warfare containers and led to sickness (called the Gulf War Syndrome) for tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers — many continue to suffer to this day.
4. How are you going to deal with the overwhelming majority of Muslims in the Middle East and at least 70 percent of Americans here who are opposed to you bombing Syria? Do you think that lack of domestic public support and even deeper hatred abroad are inconsequential? Your empire mentality seems to say yes.

One would think that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), of all people, who just sent you a detailed letter of inquiry and caution, citing Congressional authority, should give you pause. Increasingly, you are coming across, even to your hardcore political supporters, as impulsively aggressive, too quick to order killing operations and too slow to contemplate waging of peace.

The Syrian civil war — riven by fighting rebel factions, sectarian revenge cycles, outside arms suppliers and provocations, and a spreading al-Qaeda force fighting the dictatorial Assad regime — can only get worse following a violent attack by your Administration.

Listen to Hans Blix, the former United Nations head of the weapons inspection team in Iraq during 2002-2003 that was aborted by George W. Bush’s criminal invasion that led to the continuing loss of over a million Iraqis, many more injuries, five thousand U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of injured Americans.

Mr. Blix, former Swedish minister for foreign affairs, urges an international peace conference under the UN Security Council’s auspices attended by all governments supporting the various sides in Syria’s civil war. Since all fighters in Syria are receiving their weapons from outside nations, these “supplier countries have leverage,” Blix writes, to support the demand “that their clients accept a ceasefire — or risk losing further support.”

Achieving this goal will require strong leadership. While it is difficult for you to move from waging war to waging peace, history documents that the latter brings better outcomes and forestalls worse slaughter and blowbacks that security experts fear could reach our country.

When your own military believes you are moving into dangerous terrain and possible points of no return, you’d better start to rethink. You’d better reread the warnings in the measured memoranda given to you by Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, and the chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey.

More publically, retired Lt. Gen. Gregory S. Newbold, who directed operations for the Joint Chiefs during the run-up to the Iraq war, told the Washington Post: “There’s a broad naiveté in the political class about America’s obligations in foreign policy issues, and scary simplicity about the effects that employing American military power can achieve.” He said that many of his fellow officers share his views.

General Newbold’s words seem like a rebuke not just to the Bush Neocons (pro-Vietnam war, draft dodgers) who pushed the Iraq invasion, but also to you and your immediate circle of hawkish civilian advisors.

All weapons of violence — chemical, biological, nuclear, drones, conventional munitions — are used to destroy lives and habitats. The fact that using some weapons constitutes international war crimes per se is hardly consoling to the victims of other mass weapons systems.

Aggressive arms controls should be the priority of the leading superpower in the world. Why haven’t you made U.S. ratification of the small arms, the landmines, and the cluster munitions treaties, adhered to by most nations, a priority?

Before you violently embroil our country into yet another Mid-East country’s tragic turmoil, visit the government supported U.S. Institute of Peace for intensive tutorials. Then read again Article 1, Section 8, and its originating history, which says that going to war is not your decision but the exclusive decision of the Congress. That may help you accept the imperative of your moral and legal accountability.

Sincerely,

Ralph   Nader

 

Mapped: Every Protest on the Planet Since 1979

August 31, 2013

August 30, 2013

By Meryl Ann Butler

The Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone (GDELT) tracks news reports and codes them for 58 fields, from where an incident took place to what sort of event it was (these maps look at protests, violence, and changes in military and police posture) to ethnic and religious affiliations, among other categories. The dataset has recorded nearly 250 million events since 1979, according to its website, and is updated daily.

 

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http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/08/22/mapped_what_every_protest_in_the_last_34_years_looks_like

By Meryl Ann Butler

The Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone (GDELT) tracks news reports and codes them for 58 fields, from where an incident took place to what sort of event it was (these maps look at protests, violence, and changes in military and police posture) to ethnic and religious affiliations, among other categories. The dataset has recorded nearly 250 million events since 1979, according to its website, and is updated daily.

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The Global Database of Events, Language, and Tone (GDELT) tracks news reports and codes them for 58 fields, from where an incident took place to what sort of event it was (these maps look at protests, violence, and changes in military and police posture) to ethnic and religious affiliations, among other categories. The dataset has recorded nearly 250 million events since 1979, according to its website, and is updated daily.

Submitters Website: http://www.merylannbutler.com

Submitters Bio:

Meryl Ann Butler is an artist, author, educator and OpedNews Managing Editor who has been actively engaged in utilizing the arts as stepping-stones toward joy-filled wellbeing for over 25 years. She studied art with Harold Ransom Stevenson in Sea Cliff NY for seven years before opening her own art school. Stevenson had been a student of Norman Rockwell. Her art in a wide variety of media can be seen on her YouTube video, “Visionary Artist Meryl Ann Butler on Creativity and Joy” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcGs2r_66QE A NYC native, her response to 9-11 was to pen an invitation to healing through creativity, entitled, “90-Minute Quilts: 15+ Projects You Can Stitch in an Afternoon” (Krause 2006), which is a bestseller in the craft field. The sequel, MORE 90-Minute Quilts: 20+ Quick and Easy Projects With Triangles and Squares was released in April, 2011. Her popular video, How to Stitch a Quilt in 90 Minutes with Meryl Ann Butler can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrShGOQaJQ8 She has been active in a number of international, arts-related projects as a citizen diplomat, and was arts advisor to Baltimore’s CIUSSR (Center for Improving US-Soviet Relations), 1987-89. She made two trips to the former USSR in 1987 and 1988 to speak to artists, craftpeople and fashion designers on the topic of utilizing the arts as a tool for global wellbeing. She created the historical “First US-Soviet Children’s Peace Quilt Exchange Project” in 1987-88, which was the first time a reciprocal quilt was given to the US from the former USSR. Her artwork is in collections across the globe. Meryl Ann is a founding member of The Labyrinth Society and has been building labyrinths since 1992. “Creativity and Healing: The Work of Meryl Ann Butler” by Burl Hall is at http://www.opednews.com/articles/Creativity-and-Healing–T-by-Burl-Hall-130414-18.html Burl and Merry Hall interviewed Meryl Ann on their BlogTalk radio show, “Envision This,” at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/envision-this/2013/04/11/meryl-ann-butler-art-as-a-medicine-for-the-soul She has written for Opednews since 2004. Archived articles http://www.opednews.com/author/author1820.html Older archived articles, from before May 2005 are here.,

11 Reasons Why We Should Not Attack Syria

August 31, 2013

August 30, 2013

By Sarah van Gelder

Policy analyst Phyllis Bennis points out the obvious: Strike with bombs and missiles, and, whatever your intent, civilians with no involvement in the conflict — including children and the elderly — will be harmed. We need “all the forces on the two sides coming together to talk,” she says, “rather than fighting to the last Syrian child, to resolve these wars.”

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Reprinted from Yes! Magazine

Remember the last time we were told military strikes were needed because a Middle Eastern despot had used weapons of mass destruction?

Syrian children photographed in June 2013 in a refugee camp in Lebanon. Photo by  Patrick Nicholson Caritas Internationalis/CAFOD/Flickr .

As U.S. political and media leaders prepare for military strikes against Syria, the parallels to the lead-up to the war with Iraq should give us pause. Weapons of mass destruction, we are told, are being used by a cruel Middle Eastern despot against his own people. A military strike is inevitable, media voices say; we must respond with missiles and bombs. The arguments sound all too familiar.

There are a great many differences between circumstances in Syria and Iraq, of course. Nonetheless, critics warn that, much as it did in Iraq, a military incursion here could have disastrous consequences. Here are 11 reasons the United States should stay clear of military action: Meanwhile, weapons inspectors from the United Nations are on the ground investigating evidence of chemical weapons. But U.S. and European leaders are looking at an immediate strike anyway — although Britain’s Labor Party, still smarting from popular opposition to its leading role in the invasion of Iraq, has successfully pressed for a hold on military action until the results of the U.N. investigation are in.

1. We don’t actually know who is behind the chemical weapons attack. An attack employing chemical weapons took place in the suburbs of Damascus on August 21 and killed 355 people, according to Doctors Without Borders. Obama administration officials say the attack was carried out by the Syrian regime, but Institute for Policy Studies analyst Phyllis Bennis points out we haven’t actually been given evidence that this is the case. And, while it’s unlikely that the opposition was behind the attack, NPR has pointed out that the rebels have an incentive to use such weapons to trigger outside intervention and end the stalemate they’ve been stuck in since late 2011.

2. A military strike would be illegal under the U.S. Constitution and the War Powers Resolution. U.S. military attacks can only be carried out by an act of Congress, unless there is national emergency created by a direct attack upon the United States. The fact that Congress has adjourned doesn’t change that. “There is no provision in the Constitution or the War Powers Resolution for a ‘recess war,'” says Robert Naiman, writer for Just Foreign Policy. If it was a true emergency, Congress could be called into session to pass a declaration of war.

3. It would violate international law, too. Syria has not attacked the United States, and there is no U.N. Security Council authorization for a strike on Syria. It wouldn’t be the first time the United States has violated international law, but doing it again adds to a damaging precedent and contributes to a lawless world.

4. The American people oppose it. Sixty percent of Americans oppose intervention in Syria, according to a recent Reuters poll. Just nine percent support intervention. Even if the use of chemical weapons is proven, just 25 percent of Americans would support intervention.

5. Violence begets violence. According to Stephen Zunes, chair of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco, military interventions actually worsen and lengthen violence in the short term. “Countries whose dictatorships are overthrown by armed groups … are far more likely to turn into new dictatorships, often accompanied by ongoing violence and factionalism,” Zunes says in an article in Foreign Policy in Focus. In the long term, he writes, interventions only reduce violence if they are impartial, which would certainly not be the case in any upcoming conflict in Syria.

6. Foreign intervention will deepen nationalist support for the Syrian Baath Party and the Assad regime. Zunes also reports that hundreds of members of the Syrian Baath Party, a key source of support for Assad, have left the party in outrage over the regime’s killing of nonviolent protesters. But, he says, “few defections could be expected if foreigners suddenly attacked the country.” U.S. intervention would play into the hands of the Syrian regime, triggering an outpouring of nationalist support for Damascus. The same thing happened in 1983-84 following U.S. Navy air attacks on Syrian positions in Lebanon, he says, and in 2008 after U.S. army commando raids in eastern Syria.

7. There are no logical targets. Bombing stockpiles of chemical weapons would be untenable, since many would release poison gases into densely populated neighborhoods, according to Zunes. And there are too many ways of delivering chemical weapons — planes, missiles, mortars, and so on — to eliminate all of them.

8. It will be impossible to control who benefits from Western interventionamong the rebels. The Pentagon estimates that there are between 800 and 1,200 rebel groups currently active in Syria, according to USA Today. Among them are ones with avowed affiliations with Al Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra, and other groups the United States considers to be terrorists. While the House Intelligence Committee has said it’s ready to accept the risk of providing weapons to such groups, a look at the Iraq and Afghanistan shows how such plans can easily unravel.

9. Civilians will be killed and maimed. Policy analyst Phyllis Bennis points out the obvious: Strike with bombs and missiles, and, whatever your intent, civilians with no involvement in the conflict — including children and the elderly — will be harmed.

10. There is no apparent exit strategy. Once we are involved, it is unclear how we will extract ourselves from a massive, ugly civil conflict that could spread to involve nearby countries such as Lebanon, Israel, and Iran.

11. Yes, there is a better way. Tried, true, and boring though it may be, diplomacy often works. As Bennis told Democracy Now! this week, Syria has become a venue for a war between the United States and Russia, and between Iran and an allied United States and Israel.

What’s needed, she says, are peace talks involving not only the parties who are fighting, but their backers as well. We need “all the forces on the two sides coming together to talk,” she says, “rather than fighting to the last Syrian child, to resolve these wars.”

Submitters Bio:

Sarah van Gelder is co-founder of YES! Magazine and has been its executive editor since it began publication in 1996. Her focus at YES! is on the solutions and innovations that address the most profound issues of our time. Each issue of YES! reframes a crisis of today’s world — a broken health care system; the travesty in Iraq; excessive corporate power; global warming — showing how a radically different approach can bring about a more just and sustainable world. And each issue highlights the leadership coming from grassroots communities, social movements, and activists who are building a future that can work for all. Sarah has interviewed Pete Seeger, Winona LaDuke, George Shultz, Harry Belafonte, Vandana Shiva, Chris Hedges, Danny Glover, and many other known and unknown leaders who are working to create a better world.

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Comment: The Buddha told the parable of king Adassa, Mirror, summoning many blind men for groping for an animal and, due to different parts they groped, finding them entering into fighting each other.

Humans are blinded by their karmas, blinded by self-centeredness, partial and power-oriented. They should first be awakened to the ultimate truth and peace and put them into practice always.

Botany and Health: Very Small Chemical Changes to Dietary Flavonoids Cause Very Large Effects On Human Immune System

August 31, 2013

Aug. 30, 2013 — Scientists at the University of York have discovered that very small chemical changes to dietary flavonoids cause very large effects when the plant natural products are tested for their impact on the human immune system.

Plants are capable of making tens of thousands of different small molecules — an average leaf for example, produces around 20,000. Many of these are found in a typical diet and some are already known to have medicinal properties with effects on health, diseases and general well-being.

Now plant biologists and immunologists at York have joined forces to examine a very closely related family of these small molecules (flavonoids) to establish how tiny changes to their chemical structures affect their bio-activity.

The research, published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry, has important implications for diet and in the development of new pharmaceuticals from plant natural products.

Researchers from the Centre for Novel Agricultural Products (CNAP) and the Centre for Immunology and Infection (CII) in the University’s Department of Biology designed experiments to test the bioactivity of plant-derived flavonoids.

Professor Dianna Bowles, a plant biochemist and founding Director of CNAP, led the research with Professor Paul Kaye, the Director of CII, who developed the robust assay system involving human cells to assess the impacts of the different structures.

Professor Bowles, who referred to the research in a panel discussion on ‘Nature’s Marvellous Medicines’ at the recent Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition, said: “We were measuring how flavonoids affected the production of inflammatory mediators by cells stimulated by microbial products. We found that the way in which a flavonoid scaffold was decorated had massive effects on how the cells responded. If a methyl group was attached at one site, there would be no effect; methylate another site, and the cells would produce far greater amounts of these inflammatory mediators. Therefore, the site of attachment on the structural scaffold was all-important in determining the bioactivity of the small molecule.

“Plant products in our diet have immense molecular diversity and consequently also have a huge potential for affecting our health and well being. We are only at the beginning of discovering the multitude of their effects.”

Professor Kaye added: “The research demonstrates the level of control that the shape of a molecule can have on its recognition by our immune system cells. This is really important since we can use information such as this to design new drugs for clinical use, as novel immunomodulators, for example.”

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