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MAYDAY: Assange extradition decision tomorrow – get there if you can, watch live if not

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 20/05/2024 - 7:36am in

Wikileaks founder faces court tomorrow to find out if UK will give in to disgraced US extradition case – supporters have asked for you to join them at the High Court if possible and will be streaming live from London

Julian Assange faces the High Court tomorrow in London to find out whether judges will agree a disgraced US request to extradite the Wikileaks founder to the US to face 175 years in maximum-security jail. The US case fell apart when its main witness admitted he had been lying the whole time, but the UK state has continued to hold and punish Assange pending extradition for revealing US war crimes, despite known US plots to kill him – plots that the court has already refused to admit as new evidence.

His campaign has asked anyone who can get there to gather tomorrow at the High Court by 8.30am and will also be running a live-stream of developments from 6.30am, which will run below as soon as it goes live:

Video will go live from 6.30am on Monday 20 May

Freedom for Assange is a moral imperative, but it is also essential for all our freedom, as governments try to increase suppression of information vital to democracy and justice and to make Assange an example to intimidate other journalists into silence.

If you wish to republish this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.

US refuses to say it won’t kill Assange

Wikileaks journalist remains imprisoned as US continues to pursue discredited extradition case – and refusal to give binding guarantee would result in his immediate release if UK justice system was fit for purpose

The US has refused to give a specific, binding guarantee to a UK court that it will not execute journalist and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Assange has been held for years in solitary confinement in Belmarsh prison while he fights the US government’s attempt to extradite him so it can imprison him for years beyond his lifespan, after Assange exposed war crimes in Iraq by the US military.

The case should have been laughed out of court three years ago, when the main US witness admitted he had been lying all along in his claim that Assange induced him to hack US systems. Instead, Assange has been submitted to what former UN Special Rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer described as sustained psychological torture – and still faces the likelihood of imprisonment for more than a century.

His recent appeal was adjourned to give the US time to affirm properly that it would not kill him if he was extradited, a sick joke when there has been longstanding evidence of US plans to murder him outside the US.

The judges even refused to admit fresh evidence of the US’s plans to assassinate Assange, instead offering the US another opportunity to have him in their hands if they would promise not to put him to death. The US.

But Assange’s wife Stella has revealed that the US has refused to say that it will not kill him and has offered only a boilerplate statement about the death penalty, while denying Assange the free speech protections it would offer to any US citizen:

The United States has issued a non-assurance in relation to the First Amendment, and a standard assurance in relation to the death penalty.

It makes no undertaking to withdraw the prosecution’s previous assertion that Julian has no First Amendment rights because he is not a U.S citizen. Instead, the US has limited itself to blatant weasel words claiming that Julian can “seek to raise” the First Amendment if extradited.

The diplomatic note does nothing to relieve our family’s extreme distress about his future – his grim expectation of spending the rest of his life in isolation in US prison for publishing award-winning journalism.

The Biden Administration must drop this dangerous prosecution before it is too late.

The US statement says the death penalty will be ‘neither sought nor imposed’, but this is non-binding and meaningless given its previous attempts to kill him. The refusal to guarantee there will be no death penalty in Assange’s specific case should mean under UK and European human rights laws that the extradition is immediately refused by the UK court and Assange should already be free. Even if the assurances had been given, the likelihood that the US’s treatment of Assange would lead to his death should be enough to quash the bid.

The fact that he is not yet free of the threat of extradition, let alone walking around in the freedom he should have, is a damning indictment of the state of UK justice and democracy.

If you wish to republish this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.

The US and ISIS: It’s Complicated

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 03/04/2024 - 1:30am in

While ISIS-K has claimed responsibility for the Moscow shooting, Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested that the United States might have been behind the attack.

Although he provided no evidence for his claim, it is true that ISIS and the United States government have a long and complicated relationship, with Washington using the group for its own geopolitical purposes and that former ISIS fighters are active in Ukraine, as MintPress News explores.

 

A Brutal Attack

On March 22, gunmen opened fire at the Crocus City Hall in Moscow, killing at least 143 people. Authorities apprehended four suspects who they claim were fleeing towards Ukraine. The attack was only one of a number planned. After receiving international tip-offs, Russian police foiled several other operations.

ISIS-K, the Islamic State’s Afghanistan and Pakistan division, immediately took responsibility for the shooting, with Western powers – especially the United States – treating the matter as an open and shut case. Vladimir Putin, however, felt differently, implying that Ukraine or even the United States might have been somehow involved. “We know who carried out the attack. But we are interested in knowing who ordered the attack,” he said, adding: “The question immediately arises: who benefits from this?”

Moscow has long accused Ukrainian intelligence services of recruiting ISIS fighters to join forces against their common enemy. Far-right paramilitary group Right Sektor is believed to have trained and absorbed a number of ex-ISIS soldiers from the Caucuses region, and Ukrainian militias have been seen sporting ISIS patches. However, there are no clear and official links between the Ukrainian government and ISIS, and the suspects – all Tajiks – have no publicly known connections to Ukraine.

This is not the first time that ISIS has targeted Russia. In 2015, the group took responsibility for the attack on Metrojet Flight 9268, which killed 224 people. It was also reportedly behind the January 2024 attacks on Iran that killed more than 100 people, commemorating the assassination of Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian general responsible for crushing ISIS as a force in Iraq and Syria.

 

Giving Birth To A Monster

A host of U.S. adversaries have claimed that ISIS enjoys an extremely close working relationship with the U.S. government, sometimes acting as a virtual cat’s-paw of Washington. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, for instance, has accused the U.S. of ferrying ISIS fighters around the Middle East, from battle zone to battle zone. Former Afghan President Hamid Karzai stated that he considers ISIS to be a “tool” of the United States, saying:

I do not differentiate at all between ISIS and America.”

And just this week, the Syrian Foreign Ministry demanded:

the U.S. should end its illegitimate presence on Syrian territory, and end its open support and fund for Daesh [ISIS] and other terrorist organizations.”

It was in Syria that the goals of ISIS and the United States most closely aligned. In 2015, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (D.I.A.), lamented that ISIS arose out of a “willful decision” by the U.S. government. A declassified D.I.A. report says as much, noting that the “major forces driving the insurgency in Syria” were ISIS and Al-Qaeda. “There is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in Eastern Syria,” the report noted excitedly, adding that “[T]his is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition [i.e., the U.S. and its allies] want.”

US Dod ISIS AQA now-declassified DoD document shows US military officials believed backing AQ and ISIS in Syria could help defeat Assad

Throughout the 2010s, images of ISIS’ brutality consistently went viral and led to news bulletins around the world, providing the United States with a convenient enemy to justify keeping its troops in Iraq and Syria. And yet, throughout the decade, the U.S. and its allies were also using ISIS to weaken the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. As then-Vice President Joe Biden said, Turkey, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia were:

 [S]o determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tonnes of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad.”

This included ISIS, Biden said. He later apologized for his remarks after they went viral. Nevertheless, the U.S. also supported a wide range of radical groups against Assad. Operation Timber Sycamore was the most extensive and most expensive C.I.A. project in the agency’s history. Costing more than $1 billion, the agency attempted to raise, train, equip and pay for a standing army of rebels to overthrow the government.

It is now widely acknowledged that large numbers of those trained by the C.I.A. were radical extremists. As National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in an email published by WikiLeaks:

AQ [Al-Qaeda] is on our side in Syria.”

US ISIS

Clinton herself was well aware of the situation in Syria, noting that Qatar and Saudi Arabia were:

providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL [ISIS] and other radical Sunni groups in the region.”

While ISIS regularly attacked a wide range of enemies in the Middle East, it actually apologized to Israel in 2017 after its fighters mistakenly launched a mortar attack on the IDF in the occupied Golan Heights region of Syria.

That same year, the United States launched a significant attack on ISIS-K in Afghanistan, dropping the GBU-43/B MOAB bomb on a network of tunnels in Nangarhar Province. The bomb was the largest non-nuclear strike ever recorded and reportedly killed at least 96 ISIS operatives. Yet ISIS did not appear particularly interested in striking back at the U.S. Instead, it waited until the American departure from Afghanistan to launch a series of devastating attacks on the new Taliban government. This included a bombing at Kabul International Airport, killing more than 180 people, and the Kunduz Mosque Bombing two months later. The Taliban accused ISIS of carrying out a U.S.-ordered campaign of destabilization.

 

Global Terror Network

While the precise relationship between ISIS and the United States will surely never be known, what is clear is that, for decades, Washington has armed and trained terrorist groups around the world. In Libya, the U.S. joined forces with jihadist militias to topple the secular leader Muammar Gaddafi. Not only was Libya transformed from North Africa’s most prosperous country into a political and economic basket case, but the fighting unleashed a wave of destabilization across the entire region – something which continues to this day.

In Nicaragua, the U.S. sponsored far-right death squads in an attempt to overthrow the leftist Sandinistas. Those forces killed and tortured vast numbers of men, women and children; U.S.-trained groups are thought to have killed around 2% of the Nicaraguan population. The Reagan administration justified their intervention in Nicaragua by stating that the country represented a “mounting danger in Central America that threatens the security of the United States.” Oxfam retorted that the real “threat” Nicaragua posed was that it was a “good example” for other nations to follow.

Meanwhile, in Colombia, successive administrations helped to arm and train conservative paramilitary forces that prosecuted a brutal war against not only leftist guerilla forces but the civilian population as a whole. The extraordinary violence led to the internal displacement of more than 7.4 million Colombians.

Donald Trump once quipped that Barack Obama was “the founder of ISIS.” While this is not true, there is no doubt that the United States did indeed nurture the group, watching it expand into the force it is today. It has, at the very least, turned a blind eye to its operations and abetted it in its attack against their common enemies. In this sense, at least, with every ISIS attack, there is some blood on Washington’s hands.

Feature photo | A US-backed anti-government fighter mans a heavy machine gun next to a US soldier in al Tanf. Hammurabi’s Justice News | AP | Modification: MintPress News

Alan MacLeod is Senior Staff Writer for MintPress News. After completing his PhD in 2017 he published two books: Bad News From Venezuela: Twenty Years of Fake News and Misreporting and Propaganda in the Information Age: Still Manufacturing Consent, as well as a number of academic articles. He has also contributed to FAIR.orgThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin Magazine, and Common Dreams.

The post The US and ISIS: It’s Complicated appeared first on MintPress News.

Nhận định soi kèo Iraq vs Philippines lúc 02h00 ngày 22/3/2024

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 20/03/2024 - 5:20pm in

Tags 

Iraq, philippines

Soi kèo Châu Á Iraq vs Philippines

Đội tuyển Iraq đang có phong độ thi đấu khá ổn định trong thời gian gần đây. Theo thống kê soi kèo Iraq vs Philippines từ trang kèo Xoi Lac TV cho thấy, mặc dù để thua trong lần ra quân gần nhất, họ vẫn có được 3 chiến thắng sau 4 trận gần nhất. Do đó, nếu chơi đúng phong độ, tuyển Iraq hoàn toàn có thể dễ dàng giành chiến thắng trong trận này.

Soi kèo Iraq vs PhilippinesSoi kèo Iraq vs Philippines

Hơn nữa, được chơi trên sân nhà trong trận đấu này sẽ là một lợi thế đối với Iraq. Thống kê cho thấy, phong độ trên sân nhà của họ ở thời điểm hiện tại là khá ổn định. Với việc Iraq đã giành được 3 chiến thắng sau 4 trận gần nhất. Do vậy, cơ hội thắng trận của đội tuyển Iraq đang được đánh giá khả quan hơn nhiều.

>> Xem lại bóng đá mới nhất <<

Trong khi đó. với việc không giành chiến thắng sau 3 trận gần nhất, tuyển Philippines đang có phong độ thi đấu thiếu ấn tượng. Do vậy,,phải làm khách trên sân của đối thủ Iraq, đây thực sự là một thử thách khó khăn với họ. Nhất là khi tuyển Philippine chỉ thắng 1/5 chuyến hành quân xa nhà trước đó.

Chọn: Iraq

Soi kèo tài xỉu Iraq vs Philippines

Những trận đấu của hai đội tuyển đang có tỷ lệ nổ Tài cao hơn. Theo thống kê cho thấy, trong 4 lần ra quân liên tiếp gần nhất của tuyển Iraq đã nổ Tài. Thêm vào đó, những trận sân khách của Philippine cũng thường nổ Tài. Với việc có 3/5 trận gần nhất đã nổ Tài. Do đó, các chuyên gia dự đoán, kèo Tài sẽ thắng kèo trong trận này.

Chọn: Tài cả trận

Soi kèo Iraq vs PhilippinesSoi kèo Iraq vs Philippines
Soi kèo hiệp 1 Iraq vs Philippines 

Trước khi trận này diễn ra, tuyển Iraq thường nhập cuộc khá chủ động. Khi mà có 4/6 trận gần nhất, họ đã ghi được bàn trong hiệp 1. Mặc dù, tuyển Philippines lại đang chơi phòng ngự khá tốt. Với việc có 4/5 trận gần nhất, họ không để thủng lưới trong 45 phút đầu tiên. Tuy nhiên, tuyển Iraq vẫn sẽ sớm ghi bàn dẫn trước và thắng kèo hiệp 1 trận này.

Chọn Iraq thắng kèo hiệp 1

>> Cập nhật kết quả bóng đá hôm nay <<

Đội hình dự kiến Iraq vs Philippines

Iraq: Jalal Hassan, Suad Natiq, Ali Adnan, Hussein Ali Haidar, Osama Rashid, Amir Al Ammari, Inraheem Bayesh, Zidane Iqbal, Merchas Doski, Ali Jasim, Mohanad Ali.

Philippines: Etheridge, Sato, Murga, Rota, Tabinas, Schrock, Manny Ott, Ingreso, Mike Ott, Reichelt, Daniels.

Dự đoán tỷ số trận đấu Iraq vs Philippines

4-0 (Chọn Iraq, chọn Tài cả trận)

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Video: protests for Assange as British justice goes on trial in extradition case

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 21/02/2024 - 10:31am in

Up to 2,000 gather for ‘last chance’ to stop disgraced US case allowed so far by courts – but system seems stacked against Wikileaks founder, press freedom and public’s right to know

Protestors outside the court on Tuesday

Up to two thousand protesters gathered to demonstrate outside the Royal Courts of Justice today in London, where Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and his legal team are fighting in what may be their last chance to avoid his extradition to the US, where the Biden administration wants to lock him in a high-security prison for the rest of his life for the ‘crime’ of exposing the actions of the US military.

Wikileaks embarrassed the US by revealing the wanton slaughter of Iraqi civilians – and the US wants its vengeance. To the UK’s shame, successive UK governments and courts have been all too eager to let the Americans have their way, despite the US case collapsing in disgrace when its main witness to Assange’s supposed ‘hacking’ of US systems admitted he had been lying the whole time – and plots by senior US officials to assassinate him. The admission should have seen the US laughed out of court, but UK judges granted its request anyway.

Protesters massed to show their solidarity with the Australian journalist, who has been imprisoned in Belmarsh prison since 2019 after a long effective incarceration in the Ecuadorian embassy while the UK and US governments conspired against him and even bugged supposedly sacrosanct meetings with his lawyers:

Wikileaks Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson gave the protest crowd a lunchtime update on the ‘absurd’ proceedings, which kept observers down to a handful despite the importance of the case, preventing even human rights groups from attending:

As with all the hearings so far, the case against Julian Assange appears to be stacked. After the farce of the collapsed US case being granted anyway, Assange’s appeal was denied by a judge with deep security service connections.

In the current case, one of the two judges was a lawyer for the Secret Intelligence Service and the Ministry of Defence, with clearance for access to ‘top secret’ information – and the other judge is the twin sister of right-wing former BBC chair Richard Sharpe, who resigned after an inquiry into his arrangement of an £800,000 loan for Boris Johnson before his appointment.

Activist Steve Price, who represented Skwawkbox at the demo, summarised the day:

On a cold day thousands gathered to lobby the court and raise public awareness of this situation. This morning at the RCJ, the chant of the day was “There’s only one decision – no extradition!” The demo was noisy, very colourful, with a visible but low-key police presence and many passing drivers honking horns in solidarity.

Speakers included three Labour MPs – Richard Burgon, Zara Sultana and Apsana Begum, alongside Chris Hedges, Andrew Feinstein, Stella Assange and Julian’s brother and father, as well as lawyers, Reporters without Borders (RwB) and Wikileaks’ editor-in-chief. John Pilger, the great Australian journalist, was remembered with great affection.

Julian’s brother said the Australian Parliament voted by two thirds criticising the UK and USA and demanding he be released and returned to his home country. Two of the lawyers, as well as RwB noted that this case has enormous implications for freedom of the press globally and there are obvious parallels with how journalists have been deliberately targeted by Israel in Gaza.

The magistrate back in January 2021 decided Julian should be released solely on the grounds that he might kill himself, but this was overturned by the Home Secretary. There are a number of legal grounds his team will advocate for refusing the extradition. He has been detained in Belmarsh (in solitary confinement) for nearly 5 years, spent 7 years before that confined in the Ecuadorian Embassy. His health has deteriorated, it’s a form of torture, they’re slowly killing him. He is believed to be too ill to attend court today?

They want to extradite him for the crime of journalism, for exposing their hypocrisy, their dirty secrets, their war crimes.

Keir Starmer, the ‘human rights lawyer’, as he never tires of reminding everyone, has never spoken in Assange’s defence. As Director of Public Prosecutions, his actions are murky – because the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) destroyed its records of them and destroyed notes of what it destroyed. However, it is known that in the case of another extradition the US wanted – that of autistic hacker Gary McKinnon – Starmer flew in a rage to the US to apologise to his US government contacts as soon as then-PM Theresa May quashed the extradition on humanitarian grounds. The CPS and Sweden also destroyed records of their communications when the CPS was pressuring Sweden to continue to pursue Assange’s extradition there – no doubt a stepping stone to getting him to the US – on discredited rape allegations. Despite the destruction of evidence, it is known that the CPS told Swedish counterparts not to ‘dare’ drop its request and refused Sweden’s offer to come and interview Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy.

Assange’s family and team have asked everyone who can make it to the court to continue demonstrating throughout the duration of the hearing to try to keep up pressure on the authorities. The Establishment’s relentless assault on Julian Assange is a war not just against him, but against press freedom and the right of the public to know what its supposed representatives are doing and to hold them to account.

The UK justice system has a last chance to show it is fit for purpose. If it happens, it looks as though justice will have to be wrung out of it. Absolute solidarity with Julian Assange and all persecuted journalists everywhere.

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Journalist shreds Campbell’s denial he derided young people for Gaza outrage

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 07/02/2024 - 10:57am in

Cockerell posts video of Campbell’s speech after WMD ‘dodgy dossier’ architect tries to deflect criticism

Alastair Campbell during his speech

A journalist has shredded former Blair adviser Alastair Campbell’s denial that he derided young people outraged at Keir Starmer’s support for Israel’s war crimes – by the simple step of posting video of his speech.

Campbell had taken exception to a post by left activist @ToryFibs pointing out his mockery of young people:

But Claudia Cockerell, who authored the article to which ToryFibs had referred, politely shot down Campbell by posting the video of the section of his speech in which he said young voters should ‘get off their high horse and vote’ for the so-called ‘Labour leader’ whose only unbroken promise has been his support for Israel even when it is buys slaughtering tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians in its genocide in Gaza:

In fact, Cockerell’s comments didn’t go far enough. Campbell, the architect of the false ‘weapons of mass destruction’ claims under Blair that led to the deaths of a hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq, claimed that Keir Starmer was right to refuse to call for a ceasefire – when hundreds are being added daily to the 100,000+ people, mostly women and children, murdered and maimed by Israel – because he should save his ‘political capital’ and that’s why young people should ‘get off their high horse’.

There are much pithier things that could be said in response to that kind of cynical, sneering nonsense.

If you wish to republish this post for non-commercial use, you are welcome to do so – see here for more.

Universal Failure

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 05/01/2024 - 12:30am in

The long afterlife of Universal Camouflage Pattern.

Joe Biden championed the Iraq war. Will that come back to haunt him now? | Mark Weisbrot

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 18/02/2020 - 12:01pm in

The Iraq war has been a prominent, even decisive issue, in recent US presidential elections. That will make Biden’s history a liability

Joe Biden has an issue that hasn’t played out yet in this election: his role in the launch of the Iraq war.

The Iraq war has been a prominent, even decisive issue, in some recent US presidential elections. It played a significant role in the surprise presidential primary victory won by a freshman senator from Illinois named Barack Obama in 2008. His heavily favored Democratic primary opponent, Hillary Clinton, had voted in the US Senate to authorize the war, and Obama didn’t let her forget it during that contest.

Mark Weisbrot is co-cirector of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC. He is the director of Worth the Price? Joe Biden and the Launch of the Iraq War (2020)

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Empire of Destruction: Mosul reveals Myth of Precision Bombing

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 21/07/2017 - 3:39pm in

By Tom Engelhardt | (Via Tomdispatch.com ) | – –

You remember. It was supposed to be twenty-first-century war, American-style: precise beyond imagining; smart bombs; drones capable of taking out a carefully identified and tracked human being just about anywhere on Earth; special operations raids so pinpoint-accurate that they would represent a triumph of modern military science.  Everything “networked.”  It was to be a glorious dream of limited destruction combined with unlimited power and success.  In reality, it would prove to be a nightmare of the first order.

If you want a single word to summarize American war-making in this last decade and a half, I would suggest rubble. It’s been a painfully apt term since September 11, 2001. In addition, to catch the essence of such war in this century, two new words might be useful: rubblize and rubblization. Let me explain what I mean.

In recent weeks, another major city in Iraq has officially been “liberated” (almost) from the militants of the Islamic State.  However, the results of the U.S.-backed Iraqi military campaign to retake Mosul, that country’s second largest city, don’t fit any ordinary definition of triumph or victory.  It began in October 2016 and, at nine months and counting, has been longer than the World War II battle of Stalingrad.  Week after week, in street to street fighting, with U.S. airstrikes repeatedly called in on neighborhoods still filled with terrified Mosulites, unknown but potentially staggering numbers of civilians have died.  More than a million people — yes, you read that figure correctly — were uprooted from their homes and major portions of the Western half of the city they fled, including its ancient historic sections, have been turned into rubble.

This should be the definition of victory as defeat, success as disaster.  It’s also a pattern.  It’s been the essential story of the American war on terror since, in the month after the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush loosed American air power on Afghanistan.  That first air campaign began what has increasingly come to look like the full-scale rubblization of significant parts of the Greater Middle East. 

By not simply going after the crew who committed those attacks but deciding to take down the Taliban, occupy Afghanistan, and in 2003, invade Iraq, Bush’s administration opened the proverbial can of worms in that vast region. An imperial urge to overthrow Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein, who had once been Washington’s guy in the Middle East only to become its mortal enemy (and who had nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11), proved one of the fatal miscalculations of the imperial era.

So, too, did the deeply engrained fantasy of Bush administration officials that they controlled a high-tech, precision military that could project power in ways no other nation on the planet or in history ever had; a military that would be, in the president’s words, “the greatest force for human liberation the world has ever known.”  With Iraq occupied and garrisoned (Korea-style) for generations to come, his top officials assumed that they would take down fundamentalist Iran (sound familiar?) and other hostile regimes in the region, creating a Pax Americana there.  (Hence, the particular irony of the present Iranian ascendancy in Iraq.)  In the pursuit of such fantasies of global power, the Bush administration, in effect, punched a devastating hole in the oil heartlands of the Middle East.  In the pungent imagery of Abu Mussa, head of the Arab League at the time, the U.S. chose to drive straight through “the gates of hell.”

Rubblizing the Greater Middle East

In the 15-plus years since 9/11, parts of an expanding swathe of the planet — from Pakistan’s borderlands in South Asia to Libya in North Africa — were catastrophically unsettled. Tiny groups of Islamic terrorists multiplied exponentially into both local and transnational organizations, spreading across the region with the help of American “precision” warfare and the anger it stirred among helpless civilian populations.  States began to totter or fail.  Countries essentially collapsed, loosing a tide of refugees on the world, as year after year, the U.S. military, its Special Operations forces, and the CIA were increasingly deployed in one fashion or another in one country after another.

Though in case after case the results were visibly disastrous, like so many addicts, the three post-9/11 administrations in Washington seemed incapable of drawing the obvious conclusions and instead continued to do more of the same (with modest adjustments of one sort of another).  The results, unsurprisingly enough, were similarly disappointing or disastrous.

Despite the doubts about such a form of global warfare that candidate Trump raised during the 2016 election campaign, the process has only escalated in the first months of his presidency.  Washington, it seems, just can’t help itself in its drive to pursue this version of war in all its grim imprecision to its increasingly imprecise but predictably destructive conclusions.  Worse yet, if the leading military and political figures in Washington have their way, none of this may end in our lifetime.  (In recent years, for example, the Pentagon and those who channel its thoughts have begun speaking of a “generational approach” or a “generational struggle” in Afghanistan.)

If anything, so many years after it was launched, the war on terror shows every sign of continuing to expand and rubble is increasingly the name of the game.  Here’s a very partial tally sheet on the subject:

In addition to Mosul, a number of Iraq’s other major cities and towns — including Ramadi and Fallujah — have also been reduced to rubble. Across the border in Syria, where a brutal civil war has been raging for six years, numerous cities and towns from Homs to parts of Aleppo have essentially been destroyed. Raqqa, the “capital” of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, is now under siege. (American Special Operations forces are already reportedly active inside its breached walls, working with allied Kurdish and Syrian rebel forces.) It, too, will be “liberated” sooner or later — that is to say, destroyed.

As in Mosul, Fallujah, and Ramadi, American planes have been striking ISIS positions in the urban heart of Raqqa and killing civilians, evidently in sizeable numbers, while rubblizing parts of the city.  And such activities have in recent years only been spreading.  In distant Libya, for instance, the city of Sirte is in ruins after a similar struggle involving local forces, American air power, and ISIS militants.  In Yemen, for the last two years the Saudis have been conducting a never-ending air campaign (with American support), significantly aimed at the civilian population; they have, that is, been rubblizing that country, while paving the way for a devastating famine and a horrific cholera epidemic that can’t be checked, given the condition of that impoverished, embattled land.

Only recently, this sort of destruction has spread for the first time beyond the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa. In late May, on the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines, local Muslim rebels identified with ISIS took Marawi City. Since they moved in, much of its population of 200,000 has been displaced and almost two months later they still hold parts of the city, while engaged in Mosul-style urban warfare with the Filipino military (backed by U.S. Special Operations advisers). In the process, the area has reportedly suffered Mosul-style rubblization.

In most of these rubblized cities and the regions around them, even when “victory” is declared, worse yet is in sight. In Iraq, for instance, with the “caliphate” of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi now being dismantled, ISIS remains a genuinely threatening guerilla force, the Sunni and Shiite communities (including armed Shiite militias) show little sign of coming together, and in the north of the country the Kurds are threatening to declare an independent state. So fighting of various sorts is essentially guaranteed and the possibility of Iraq turning into a full-scale failed state or several devastated mini-states remains all too real, even as the Trump administration is reportedly pushing Congress for permission to construct and occupy new “temporary” military bases and other facilities in the country (and in neighboring Syria).

Worse yet, across the Greater Middle East, “reconstruction” is basically not even a concept. There’s simply no money for it. Oil prices remain deeply depressed and, from Libya and Yemen to Iraq and Syria, countries are either too poor or too divided to begin the reconstruction of much of anything. Nor — and this is a given — will Donald Trump’s America be launching the war-on-terror equivalent of a Marshall Plan for the region.  And even if it did, the record of the post-9/11 years already shows that the highly militarized American version of “reconstruction” or “nation building” via crony warrior corporations in both Iraq and Afghanistan has been one of the great scams of our time.  (More American taxpayer dollars have been poured into reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan alone than went into the whole of the Marshall Plan and it’s painfully obvious how effective that proved to be.)

Of course, as in Syria’s civil war, Washington is hardly responsible for all the destruction in the region. ISIS itself has been a remarkably destructive and brutal killing machine with its own impressive record of urban rubblization.  And yet most of the destruction in the region was triggered, at least, by the militarized dreams and plans of the Bush administration, by its response to 9/11 (which ended up being something like Osama bin Laden’s dream scenario).  Don’t forget that ISIS’s predecessor, al-Qaeda in Iraq, was a creature of the American invasion and occupation of that country and that ISIS itself was essentially formed in an American military prison camp in that country where its future caliph was confined.

And in case you think any lessons have been learned from all of this, think again.  In the first months of the Trump administration, the U.S. has essentially decided on a new mini-surge of troops and air power in Afghanistan; deployed for the first time the largest non-nuclear weapon in its arsenal there; promised the Saudis more support in their war in Yemen; has increased its air strikes and special operations activities in Somalia; is preparing for a new U.S. military presence in Libya; increased U.S. forces and eased the rules for air strikes in civilian areas of Iraq and elsewhere; and sent U.S. special operators and other personnel in rising numbers into both Iraq and Syria.

No matter the president, the ante only seems to go up when it comes to the “war on terror,” a war of imprecision that has helped uproot record numbers of people on this planet, with the usual predictable results: the further spread of terror groups, the further destabilization of state structures, rising numbers of displaced and dead civilians, and the rubblization of expanding parts of the planet.

While no one would deny the destructive potential of great imperial powers historically, the American empire of destruction may be unique.  At the height of its military strength in these years, it has been utterly incapable of translating that power advantage into anything but rubblization.

Living in the Rubble, a Short History of the Twenty-First Century

Let me speak personally here, since I live in the remarkably protected and peaceful heart of that empire of destruction and in the very city where it all began.  What eternally puzzles me is the inability of those who run that imperial machinery to absorb what’s actually happened since 9/11 and draw any reasonable conclusions from it.  After all, so much of what I’ve been describing seems, at this point, dismally predictable.

If anything, the “generational” nature of the war on terror and the way it became a permanent war of terror should by now seem too obvious for discussion.  And yet, whatever he said on the campaign trail, President Trump promptly appointed to key positions the very generals who have long been immersed in fighting America’s wars across the Greater Middle East and are clearly ready to do more of the same.  Why in the world anyone, even those generals, should imagine that such an approach could result in anything more “successful” is beyond me.

In many ways, rubblization has been at the heart of this whole process, starting with the 9/11 moment.  After all, the very point of those attacks was to turn the symbols of American power — the Pentagon (military power); the World Trade Center (financial power); and the Capitol or some other Washington edifice (political power, as the hijacked plane that crashed in a field in Pennsylvania was undoubtedly heading there) — into so much rubble.  In the process, thousands of innocent civilians were slaughtered.

In some ways, much of the rubblization of the Greater Middle East in recent years could be thought of as, however unconsciously, a campaign of vengeance for the horror and insult of the air assaults on that September morning in 2001, which pulverized the tallest towers of my hometown.  Ever since, American war has, in a sense, involved paying Osama bin Laden back in kind, but on a staggering scale.  In Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere, a shocking but passing moment for Americans has become everyday life for whole populations and innocents have died in numbers that would add up to so many World Trade Centers piled atop each other.

The origins of TomDispatch, the website I run, also lie in the rubble. I was in New York City on that day. I experienced the shock of the attacks and the smell of those burning buildings.  A friend of mine saw a hijacked plane hitting one of the towers and another biked into the smoke-filled area looking for his daughter.  I went down to the site of the attacks with my own daughter within days and wandered the nearby streets, catching glimpses of those giant shards of destroyed buildings.

In the phrase of that moment, in the wake of 9/11, everything “changed” and, in a sense, indeed it did.  I felt it.  Who didn’t?  I noted the sense of fear rising nationally and the repetitious ceremonies across the country in which Americans hailed themselves as the planet’s most exceptional victims, survivors, and (in the future) victors.  In those post-9/11 weeks, I became increasingly aware of how a growing sense of shock and a desire for vengeance among the populace was freeing Bush administration officials (who had for years been dreaming about making the “lone superpower” omnipotent in a historically unprecedented way) to act more or less as they wished.

As for myself, I was overcome by a sense that the period to follow would be the worst of my life, far worse than the Vietnam era (the last time I had been truly mobilized politically).  And of one thing I was certain: things would not go well. I had an urge to do something, though no idea what.

In early October 2001, the Bush administration unleashed its air power on Afghanistan, a campaign that, in a sense, would never end but simply spread across the Greater Middle East. (By now, the U.S. has launched repeated air strikes in at least seven countries in the region.) At that moment, someone emailed me an article by Tamim Ansary, an Afghan who had been in the U.S. for years but had continued to follow events in his country of birth.

His piece, which appeared at the website Counterpunch, would prove prescient indeed, especially since it had been written in mid-September, just days after 9/11.  At that moment, as Ansary noted, Americans were already threatening — in a phrase adopted from the Vietnam War era — to bomb Afghanistan “back to the Stone Age.”  What purpose, he wondered, could possibly be served by such a bombing campaign since, as he put it, “new bombs would only stir the rubble of earlier bombs”?  As he pointed out, Afghanistan, then largely ruled by the grim Taliban, had essentially been turned into rubble years before in the proxy war the Soviets and Americans fought there until the Red Army limped home in defeat in 1989.  The rubble that was already Afghanistan would only increase in the brutal civil war that followed. And in the years before 2001, little had been rebuilt.  So, as Ansary made clear, the U.S. was about to launch its air power for the first time in the twenty-first century against a country with nothing, a country of ruins and in ruins.

From such an act he predicted disaster. And so it would be. At the time, something about that image of air strikes on rubble stunned me, in part because it felt both horrifying and true, in part because it seemed such an ominous signal of what might lie in our future, and in part because nothing like it could then be found in the mainstream news or in any kind of debate about how to respond to 9/11 (of which there was essentially none). Impulsively, I emailed his piece out with a note of my own to friends and relatives, something I had never done before. That, as it turned out, would be the start of what became an ever-expanding no-name listserv and, a little more than a year later, TomDispatch.

A Plutocracy of the Rubble?

So the first word to fully catch my attention and set me in motion in the post-9/11 era was “rubble.”  It’s sad that, almost 16 years later, Americans are still obsessively afraid for themselves, a fear that has helped fund and build a national security state of staggering dimensions.  On the other hand, remarkably few of us have any sense of the endless 9/11-style experiences our military has so imprecisely delivered to the world. The bombs may be smart, but the acts couldn’t be dumber.

In this country, there is essentially no sense of responsibility for the spread of terrorism, the crumbling of states, the destruction of lives and livelihoods, the tidal flow of refugees, and the rubblization of some of the planet’s great cities.  There’s no reasonable assessment of the true nature and effects of American warfare abroad: its imprecision, its idiocy, its destructiveness.  In this peaceful land, it’s hard to imagine the true impact of the imprecision of war, American-style. Given the way things are going, it’s easy enough, however, to imagine the scenario of Tamim Ansari writ large in the Trump years and those to follow: Americans continuing to bomb the rubble they had such a hand in creating across the Greater Middle East.

And yet distant imperial wars do have a way of coming home, and not just in the form of new surveillance techniques, or drones flying over “the homeland,” or the full-scale militarization of police forces. Without those disastrous, never-ending wars, I suspect that the election of Donald Trump would have been unlikely. And while he will not loose such “precision” warfare on the homeland itself, his project (and that of the congressional Republicans) — from health care to the environment — is visibly aimed at rubblizing American society. If he were capable, he would certainly create a plutocracy of the rubble in a world where ruins are increasingly the norm.

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He is a fellow of the Nation Institute and runs TomDispatch.com. His latest book is Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, John Dower’s The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War II, as well as John Feffer’s dystopian novel Splinterlands, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt’s Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2017 Tom Engelhardt

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: There’s no way I can thank you enough for your remarkable response to my recent summer appeal for funds to keep TomDispatch rolling along. You are simply the best! If any of you meant to send in a few dollars but forgot, check out our donation page. I’m 73 years old today and still going reasonably strong. That is, I suppose, a miracle of sorts. I’m planning to take the weekend off, so the next TD post will appear on Tuesday, July 25th. In the meantime, I’m expecting TomDispatch to accompany me not just into my 74th year, but my 75th as well thanks to the continuing generosity of all of you! Tom]

Via Tomdispatch.com

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

Democracy Now!: “Amnesty Accuses U.S. Coalition of War Crimes in Mosul: Scale of Death Much Higher Than Acknowledged”

World Vision Welcomes Abbott’s Iraq Funding

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 06/01/2015 - 9:11am in

Tags 

Iraq, Tony Abbott