War

The Drums of War in the Gulf

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 18/01/2020 - 8:09am in

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imperialism, Iran, UK, USA, War, Yemen

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The article which follows is taken from the new edition of Revolutionary Perspectives (#14) which is just out. It was obviously written before the events which followed the British Navy’s seizure of the Iranian tanker, the Grace 1, off the coast of Gibraltar, but the substance of the analysis has not changed.

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Spanish for Vietnam

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 17/01/2020 - 7:49am in


Today, rather than serving as a model for conservatives, the memory of El Salvador and the solidarity movement it generated may be increasingly relevant on the other side of the political spectrum. For those contemplating how to fill in the foreign policy missing from a newly resurgent left, it is a conflict with lessons worth reviving.

Other Countries Using Drones to Kill Our President? That’ll Never Happen

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 15/01/2020 - 6:47pm in

Nothing embodies the law of unintended consequences more than weapons systems. When drones were first introduced as possible battlefield tools, contractors said that there was nothing to worry about in terms of them being converted into weapons systems. They would only be used for surveillance. Now we’re using them to kill top government officials.

Failure of Hague’s and Jolie’s Scheme to Combat Use of Rape in War

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 14/01/2020 - 2:43am in

It’s not just the people of Britain that the Tories are failing. Last Friday’s I carried a piece by Hugo Gye, ‘Hague and Jolie’s sexual violence scheme ‘let down survivors’, about the failure of an international initiative by Willliam Hague and Angelina Jolie to raise awareness of and fight the use of rape as a weapon of war. This was well-funded right up to the moment Hague stopped being responsible for it. As soon as that happened, its budget was drastically cut, and the scheme may have ended up doing more harm than good. The article ran

A UK Government effort to curb the use of rape as a weapon of war did not succeed and may even have harmed victims, a report suggests.

The Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative (PSVI) was launched in 2012 by the then foreign secretary, William Hague, and the actress Angelina Jolie in her role as a United Nations special envoy.

Its aim was to “raise awareness of the extent of sexual violence against women, men, girls and boys in situations of armed conflict and rally global actions to end it”. But as soon as the Conservative politician left office a few months later, work on the scheme was drastically scaled back.

A report by the Independent Commission for Aid Impact says that withdrawing support for victims of violence may have left them worse off than if it had never been offered. The PSVI’s budget fell from £15m to just £2m with only four full-time civil servants working on it.

The aid watchdog concluded that the project had helped to make Britain a “leading voice in the international effort to address conflict-related sexual violence” but fell short of the ambitions originally set for it.

It said: “The initiative lacks a clear strategy and overall vision to guide its activities, and the lack of a shared understanding of the problem has inhibited cross-departmental collaboration on addressing conflict-related sexual violence.

“There is little monitoring and reporting on how outputs translate into lasting outcomes, making it difficult to access [its] effectiveness.”

Last night, the Foreign Office said that the report failed to “fully recognise the impact of the UK’s leadership on PSVI, which has mobilised the international community and brought real change for survivors.”

I’d like to believe that Hague was sincere about this scheme when he set it up, but it does look very much like a typical Tory plan: inaugurated with great hoo-hah and fanfare, but lacking substance and immediately cut the moment it loses the public’s attention. Like Boris Johnson’s plan to build forty more hospitals, most of whom have no more than seed funding to sort out legal problems.

And I’m not sure how successful a scheme to suppress sexual violence in war is going to be when some of the worst offenders are the Tories’ Fascist friends. Rape was used by Thatcher’s friend, General Pinochet to torture his regime’s political prisoners. The building used for it within the concentration camp in which they were interned was nicknamed ‘the discotheque’ because of the thugs’ use of disco music when they raped their victims.

No matter how well Hague or Jolie meant, that policy was definitely going to be scrapped if it got in the way of good relations with their real Fascist mates.

Right, Guido Fawkes?

When Private Eye Stood Up to Zionist Bullying

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 11/01/2020 - 9:31pm in

Yesterday I bought a copy of Patrick Marnham’s The Private Eye Story: The First 21 Years (London: Andre Deutsch/Private Eye 1982). This was partly because I still have some affection and respect for the magazine for the really good work it has done exposing the effects of austerity and privatisation. But it’s also because I’m still really perplexed at it continuing to push the anti-Semitism smears. And there was a time when it actually stood up to Zionist bullying and accusations of anti-Semitism.

The book tells how the Israelis attacked Private Eye as anti-Semitic because of its reports of Israeli atrocities during the 1967 war. They also caught the Zionist Federation attempting to close down criticism of Israel in the Guardian by threatening to withdraw Marks and Spencer’s advertising. Marnham writes

In the first half of 1966, sales were 39,868. In the first half of 1972, when Paul Foot left, they were 98,047. Not all the readers were equally pleased about this success. Among the least enchanted were Zionist sympathisers who objected to Private Eye reporting Israeli atrocities after the 1967 war.

In fact that war found Private Eye, with the rest of the press, generally sympathetic to Israel. But the balance quickly shifted as news of events behind the Israeli publicity screen began to reach Greek Street. An article about Moshe Dayan’s political ambitions (‘One Eyed Man for King’) in July 1967 led to many cancelled subscriptions. By November the novelist Mordechai Richler had become so offended by Private Eye’s line that he complained in The Observer that the paper was making jokes worthy of the Storm Trooper, the organ of the American Nazi party. Shortly afterwards two Labour MPs who were ardent Zionists followed this up by likening Private Eye to Der Sturmer, the organ of the German Nazi party in the thirties. Unlike Der Sturmer, Private Eye published these letters, although at that time it had no regular readers’ letter column.

In 1972 Private Eye was able to show how Zionists brought pressure on more orthodox publications. It revealed that Lord Sieff, then president of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and chairman of Marks and Spencer, had written to The Guardian in 1967 to protest against reports of the Middle East war, while threatening to withdraw all Marks and Spencer advertising unless there was an improvement. After the editor of The Guardian had been confronted by the source of the Eye’s story, he agreed that the letter had indeed been written. (pp. 127-9).

Marnham also gives the magazine’s reply to accusations that it is anti-Semitic. Former editor Richard Ingrams felt that Jews were now too sensitive, and many of those accusing the magazine of anti-Semitism were Jews, who had been caught in wrongdoing. This passage contains a nasty racial epithet for Jews, which I’ve censored. It is, however, in full in the original.

To the criticism that Private Eye is anti-semitic Ingrams replies that it is no more anti-semitic than it is anti-any other minority. He told Ann Leslie of the Daily Mail that he thought the Jews had ‘become much too sensitive; they should be more tolerant of criticism, as they used to be.’ Anne Leslie interpreted this to mean that he yearned for a Golden English Age, ‘when Jews knew their place and laughed bravely when called “***s”; not a word Private Eye has ever used, though quite a useful one for adding a little read racialist meat to Miss Leslie’s article.

Others, apart from Zionists, who accuse Private Eye of anti-semitism are those who are attacked by it. Esther Rantzen once seriously claimed that Private Eye only wrote about her husband, Desmond Wilcox, because she herself was ‘both a successful woman and a Jew’. Sir James Goldsmith also tried to explain the Eye’s hostility on the grounds that he was a Jew. The Jewish Chronicle was not very impressed. Its columnist Ben Azai wrote on 13 May 1977: ‘Apart from an intermittent concern about Israel, Goldsmith was only vaguely aware of his Jewishness until Private Eye began what he regarded as a personal vendetta against him. Scratch a semi-Jew and one will discover a full one.’ (p. 205).

The Eye has also been accused of anti-Semitism for its ‘In The City’ column, where many of the crooks and fraudsters it has exposed have been Jewish. The magazine also strongly rebuts this accusation.

The only remark made about ‘Slicker’ by Richard which I really object to is his line over Jews. When he is asked why people say Private Eye is anti-semitic he usually says that there just happen to be a lot of Jews in the City and so we happen to expose a lot of Jewish crooks. In ‘Slicker’ has attacked more non-Jews than Jews. If Jews are there it is because they are crooks, not Jews. And we have twice run stories in ‘Slicker’ attacking the City for being anti-Semitic’. (pp. 135-6).

The Eye still runs some excellent articles criticising Israel. In last fortnight’s issue, for example, it ran a story about how the Israeli authorities were not releasing the bodies of Palestinians they’d shot as ‘terrorists’ for burial. But this has not stopped it pushing the line with the rest of the press that Corbyn and his supporters are anti-Semitic, and that the very credible, authenticated allegations of Israeli involvement in the smear campaign is nothing but ‘conspiracy theories’.

I intend to talk about this in greater depth in another article, but I think there are several reasons for it. Firstly, while the Eye was first left-wing, that shifted during the Wilson era, as the book says, when it attacked the Labour governments of the day. Its network of contacts extends into the political establishment. American left-wing commenters and activists like Jimmy Dore have said that it’s because of this that the American media simply regurgitates the material they’ve been fed by establishment politicos. They’re afraid that if they criticise the people giving them this information and granting interviews, it’ll all dry up. I think the same is probably true of the Eye. I’ve also pointed out how the magazine’s founders were all very definitely members of the establishment, as is its current editor, Ian Hislop. And while there was a time when the magazine was disreputable – so much so that the Monday Club once accused it of being an organ of Commie subversion – it’s now very respectable. And I also think another strong motive is fear. Hislop and the rest may well be afraid that if they step out of line, they will suffer the same treatment as Corbyn and Momentum. And one of the accusations against the Eye is that it is the victim of its success. Other magazines were able to pursue a solid left-wing line, because they didn’t have the Eye’s assets. But the Eye isn’t poor, and so successful libel actions against it are profitable. Hislop and the others may simply feel that supporting the people – including Jews – who’ve been falsely accused simply isn’t worth it.

Moyers and Bacevich on “The Age of Illusions”

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 11/01/2020 - 10:37am in

Bacevich: "It is past time for us to have a serious conversation about what freedom means, what freedom entails, what obligations or duties freedom imposes. We’ve avoided that, and I think, in particular after the Cold War, we didn’t want to talk about that."
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The post Moyers and Bacevich on “The Age of Illusions” appeared first on BillMoyers.com.

Lee Camp: The War in Afghanistan Is a Fraud (and Now We Have Proof)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 11/01/2020 - 4:37am in

Bombs have numbers. Humans have names. Our American military boasts a skill and passion for using numbers to turn names into yet more numbers. But these numbers have grown so gargantuan and out of control that one struggles to comprehend them.

In just 10 months in 2018—the latest numbers made available—our military dropped 5,982 munitions on Afghanistan, turning many thinking, living and loving names into cold, lifeless numbers. Over the span of the war, 43,000 Afghan civilians have been numberized. We, as Americans, essentially never even notice when it happens. Statistically speaking, it will happen again many times today, and no one in America will really care. (At least not while the game is on.)

64,000 Afghan security forces have been numberized since 2001.

Our government has known for years that the war in Afghanistan is a jaw-dropping disaster on the level of “Cats”: the movie. How do we know they knew? The Washington Post actually just published some impressive reporting, taking a step back from its lust for pro-war propaganda. (The last time it achieved such a feat was during the O.J. Simpson trial. The first one. The one with the glove.) The Post unearthed a trove of thousands of internal government documents that expose the catastrophic war. And it turns out there are Tinder dates between a young neo-Nazi and an old Jewish lady that have gone better than this war.

[The document trove] reveals that senior US officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable,” the paper reported.

Let me translate The Washington Post’s fancy-pants language: U.S. officials didn’t “fail to tell the truth”; they fucking lied. The phrase “failed to tell the truth” oozes around the brain’s neural pathways, strategically dodging the anger receptors. “Failed to tell the truth” sounds like veracity is a slippery fish U.S. officials just couldn’t catch.

424 humanitarian aid workers have been numberized.

Let’s take a moment to consider the motivations and goals of the war in Afghanistan. The U.S. ostensibly invaded the country to stop al-Qaida from attacking us in any way, namely by flying large planes into our buildings. We achieved this goal within the first couple months. With al-Qaida essentially decimated, it seems logical that we should have left the country, reserving the right to return if any other big passenger airplanes came after us.

But we didn’t leave. We never leave. Rule No. 1 of the American empire is “Never Truly Leave a Country After Invading.” In order to explain our continued presence, we had to move the goal post. To what? We weren’t sure. We’re still not sure. Nearly 20 years later, if you ask a U.S. general or president (any of them) what the goal is in Afghanistan, they’ll feed you a word salad so large it’ll keep you regular for months. In fact, we now know that even during some of the earliest years of the war, the Pentagon and the Bush administration didn’t know who the bad guys were. (Right now you’re thinking it’s rather juvenile and uninformed of me to refer to enemy forces as “bad guys,” but, as you’ll see in a moment, our government literally spoke about them in those terms. Side note: This is because murderous rampages by war criminals are always juvenile. Murder, by definition, is unevolved.)

According to the Post’s Afghanistan Papers, an unnamed former adviser to an Army Special Forces team said, “They thought I was going to come to them with a map to show them where the good guys and bad guys live. It took several conversations—[a]t first, they just kept asking: ‘But who are the bad guys, where are they?’ 

Yet we Americans were instructed in the early years that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had everything under control. To imply otherwise was to make a mockery of tens of millions of yellow ribbons. But in reality, Rumsfeld, too, had a sizable bad-guy problem.

I have no visibility into who the bad guys are,” he said behind closed, locked, soundproof doors. Meanwhile, Rumsfeld publicly and boldly led the nation in a well-defined and decisive victory in the land of the Afghans.

In 2003, he said, during a press conference alongside Afghan President Hamid Karzai, “General Franks and I … have concluded that we’re at a point where we clearly have moved from major combat activity to a period of stability and stabilization and reconstruction and activities.”

Yep, no more major combat—just 17 years of reconstruction (and activities). Apparently, most U.S.-backed “reconstruction” is done from the air, via bombs. Let that be a lesson to you, rest of the world: You better not screw with us or we’ll reconstruct you and your whole family!

67 journalists have been reconstructed during the war in Afghanistan.

Is two decades too long for an utter, unmitigated disaster? Maybe we can stretch it to three? We’ve been funding warlords and extremist jihadis and hoping they will play nice. Yet American presidents have continually told us we’re making progress. “Douglas Lute, a three-star Army general who served as Afghanistan war czar during the Bush and Obama administrations, told government interviewers in 2015, ‘What are we trying to do here? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking.’ 

I imagine that quote particularly upsets many Americans, because if there’s one thing we’re good at, it’s having a foggy idea of what we’re doing.

Vietnam: foggy idea.

Iraq: very strong foggy idea.

Libya: one hell of a foggy idea.

Unfettered capitalism: the foggiest idea.

To put it simply, we are the best at bad ideas. But these Afghanistan Papers unveil a pretty terrible picture. One we need to confront as a nation and not just sweep under the rug (and not just because the rug would have to be the size of the Pacific Rim).

Upon hearing these revelations, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer did his best impersonation of someone who gives a shit. He said:

A bombshell series of investigative reports from The Washington Post exposing heartbreaking truths about the U.S. war in Afghanistan, which has claimed some 2,400 U.S. lives and cost nearly a trillion dollars. The Post says … officials routinely lied to the American people about the war. … This is truly a bombshell.

Yes, it’s a bombshell—despite the fact that much of the information in the Afghanistan Papers has been known for a decade or more. Back in 2012, I myself was doing poorly written standup comedy bits about how our government funded both sides of the war in Afghanistan. This goes to show that the mainstream media has two priorities—one is to spout the U.S. government’s talking points, and the other is to distract us all from the whitewashing of history.

They help Americans believe that we just found out about the failures in Afghanistan; that we just started McCarthyism, and it didn’t happen before in the 1950s to horrific consequences; that we just now discovered the breathtaking environmental consequences of factory farming. (I’m kidding—corporate media will never report on that. You could have a CNN anchor tied up in a sack in Gitmo, and he would still refuse to admit factory animal farming is killing the planet at an aggressive pace.)

But Blitzer wasn’t content pretending to be shocked that the Afghanistan War isn’t going well, so he put his acting chops to the test by further postulating that there also might be flaws with the war in Iraq. He said, “I can only imagine and brace for a similar report about the long U.S. war in Iraq as well. I suspect that could be some horrifying news as far as that is concerned also.”

That’s right: As of last month, Blitzer thinks there might be some problems with the war(s) in Iraq. (Blitzer strikes me as the type of guy who wouldn’t notice if you stole his pants off him in negative-10-degree weather.) Yes, Wolf, not only has there been similar mismanagement and mass war crimes committed in our invasion of Iraq, but you, in fact, helped manufacture consent for that war as well. You are complicit in the deaths of millions of people who will never come back from numberization.

Throughout the past 20 years, the mainstream media reiterated the lies told by our various presidents. They beat those lies into our heads with impressive frequency. Lies like those told by President Obama, when, in 2012, he said on national television: “Over the last three years, the tide has turned. We broke the Taliban’s momentum. We’ve built strong Afghan security forces. … Our troops will be coming home. … As our coalition agreed, by the end of 2014 the Afghans will be fully responsible for the security of their country.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty thrilled for the war to be over in 2014—whenever 2014 may come.

3,800 contractors have died in Afghanistan for these lies.

The Afghanistan Papers show that not only has the 20-year war been wasteful of human life, it’s also been wasteful of money. Of course, this is the point when you think, “The military— wasteful?! Well, paint my nipples and call me Phyllis Diller; that’s the damnedest thing I ever did hear!”

Yes, this is hardly shocking, since $21 trillion has gone unaccounted for at the Pentagon over the past 20 years. That’s two-thirds of the amount of money wrapped up in the entire stock market. Money has been flowing into Afghanistan so fast that officials aren’t even able to waste it quick enough! (I wish that were a joke.)

From the Post’s report, again: “One executive at USAID guessed that 90 percent of what they spent was overkill: ‘We lost objectivity. We were given money, told to spend it and we did, without reason.’ … One contractor said he was expected to dole out $3 million daily for projects in a single Afghan district roughly the size of a US county.”

The contractor said he couldn’t conceive of how to spend $3 million a day for people literally living in mud huts. Well, I guess USAID should start handing out furniture built out of blocks of shrink-wrapped hundred-dollar notes. Maybe fill bean bag chairs with small bills. (If you aren’t yet outraged enough, please keep in mind that, according to The New York Times, adjusting for today’s dollars, it would take less than eight days of the Pentagon’s stated budget to give the entire world clean water for a year, thereby saving millions of lives and turning the U.S. into the most beloved nation on earth.)

But rather than accept our own corruption and war profiteering, our military placed the blame squarely on the Afghan people. Per The Washington Post, “The U.S. military also accused Afghan commanders of pocketing salaries—paid by U.S. taxpayers—for tens of thousands of ‘ghost soldiers.’ 

Although ghost soldiers sound like an incredible and tough-to-defeat resource, I think they meant the Afghan commanders claimed they had a certain number of soldiers, but most weren’t real. So America can’t fund the health care of our own goddamn real soldiers who get home and wait in line for months to secure any semblance of care, but we can fund ghost soldiers half a world away?!

Donald Trump just cut food stamps to 700,000 people, impacting more than a million children, but we’re funding fucking ghosts? Maybe we could start a campaign asking the ghost soldiers to donate some of their supper to the starving kids of America.

Ghosts seem to be an ongoing difficulty for the U.S. In the same issue of The Washington Post containing the Afghanistan Papers, there was an unrelated article titled, “The U.S. Wasted Millions on Charter Schools” that said, “A report found that [during the Obama Administration] 537 ‘ghost schools’ in America never opened but received more than $45.5 million in federal start-up funding.”

Apparently we’re funding ghost schools and ghost soldiers, and almost nobody in our government seems to give a shit! I guess you could say they give a ghost shit—it’s not really there.

Yet the problems in our forever war don’t stop at the walking dead. The Post says, “The US has spent $9 billion to fight the problem [of opium] over the past 18 years, but Afghan farmers are cultivating more opium poppies than ever. Last year, Afghanistan was responsible for 82 percent of global opium production.”

But what The Washington Post doesn’t tell you is that a lot of that opium was for use inside the U.S., to fuel our opioid epidemic.

An American becomes a number every 11 minutes from an opioid overdose.

So how does our government respond when revelations like the Afghanistan Papers come out? A few senators pause in the middle of their T-bone steaks and red wine to say, “This needs to be looked into, I daresay.” But then a few days pass and they just give the Pentagon more money to sink into a black hole.

The spending bill just passed by Congress sends $738 billion to the Pentagon. And, as RootsAction stated, it contains “almost nothing to constrain the Trump administration’s erratic and reckless foreign policy. It is a blank check for endless wars, fuel for the further militarization of U.S. foreign policy, and a gift to Donald Trump.”

To put it mildly, asking the Democrats to stand up against endless war is like asking Anne Hathaway to bench-press a Chevy Tahoe. It’s not going to happen, and she has no interest in even trying.

42,000 Taliban and insurgents have been numberized.

That may sound like a successful war to some, but keep in mind that the U.S. military likes to categorize anyone it kills “an insurgent.” The Pentagon goes by the theory that if it kills you, then you’re an insurgent—because if you weren’t an insurgent, then why did it kill you? A great many of the 42,000 were truly innocent civilians.

If there’s one thing we should learn from the Afghanistan Papers, which the mainstream corporate media have already ceased talking about, it’s that ending these immoral, illegal, repulsive wars cannot be left to our breathtakingly incompetent and corrupt ruling elite, who have probably been lying to us about them for decades. So it’s up to you and me to stop them.

Lee Camp’s new book “Bullet Points and Punch Lines” with a foreword by Chris Hedges is available for pre-sale at LeeCampBook.com.

This column is based on a monologue Lee Camp wrote and performed on his TV show “Redacted Tonight.”

Feature photo | Blank military dog tags hang in a memorial honoring fallen soldiers from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, on the grounds of Old North Church, in Boston, Nov. 7, 2018. Steven Senne | AP

Lee Camp is an American stand-up comedian, writer, actor and activist. Camp is the host of the weekly comedy news TV show “Redacted Tonight With Lee Camp” on RT America. He is a former comedy writer for the Onion and the Huffington Post and has been a touring stand-up comic for 20 years.

This article was published with special permission from the author. It originally appeared at Truthdig.

The post Lee Camp: The War in Afghanistan Is a Fraud (and Now We Have Proof) appeared first on MintPress News.

Cartoon: Big dumb war cycle

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 07/01/2020 - 11:50pm in

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Follow me on Twitter at @JenSorensen

Military Contractors Raytheon, Lockheed Martin See Stock Prices Soar Amid Iran Crisis

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 07/01/2020 - 6:38am in

War. Motown singer Edwin Starr claimed it was nothing but a heartbreaker and good news only for the undertaker. But another group rubbing their hands at increased tensions with Iran are military contractors, who saw their stock prices soar at the increased chance of conflict.

Lockheed Martin, famous for its fighter planes, helicopters and missiles, saw its stock price spike to over $416, a jump of seven percent almost overnight. Other defense corporations like Raytheon and General Dynamics saw similar increases in their companies’ value. Meanwhile, Northrop Grumman saw a nine percent rise in its share price, as the stock market rushed to buy a piece of a highly profitable company.

On January 3, the United States carried out a successful assassination attempt of Lt. General Qassem Soleimani via drone, as the Iranian officer and statesman left Baghdad airport to join a peace mission between Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq. Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi revealed that President Trump had personally thanked him for organizing peace efforts, even as he was planning the assassination attempt, giving him the mistaken belief that the U.S. gave its blessing to the event and would not attack the Iranian General. Soleimani, respected and admired as a capable and dynamic soldier, was widely considered to be one of the most powerful and influential men in Iran behind Ayatollah Khamenei. The move is almost universally expected to increase tensions in the Middle East, prompting potential wars or other “chaos.”

Millions of mourners came out for Soleimani’s funeral, turning the occasion into a show of strength and an act of collective defiance against Trump’s moves against Iran. Meanwhile, after the government of Iraq voted to expel American forces from its country as a response to the drone strike, the president announced he would send thousands of extra troops to the region. Iran is currently considering its response, but the hashtags #ww3 and #wwIII trended for over a day on Twitter, suggesting the global public was extremely worried the action could spark a worldwide conflict. Over the weekend the United States saw over 70 antiwar demonstrations across the country.

However, economist and co-founder of the Center for Economic Policy Research Dean Baker pointed out that Lockheed Martin’s stock went up by over two percent and Northrop Grumman by nearly four percent on Thursday, the day before Soleimani’s killing. “Looks like a lot of people should go to jail,” he remarked, suggesting there was some serious insider trading afoot. (MintPress recently spoke to Baker about how pharmaceutical corporations are withholding life saving drugs from the public for profit.)

The biggest beneficiaries of an unfair stock market are often politicians, whose portfolios, for decades, have done far better than is statistically plausible. Using the financial disclosures of politicians, Professor Alan Ziobrowski of Georgia State University found that members of the House earn “abnormal returns” on their stocks, outperforming the market by six percentage points. Senators, in higher office than House members, perform even better, “showing some of the highest excess returns ever recorded over a long period of time, significantly outperforming even hedge fund managers,” in Ziobrowski’s study’s words. “It’s not rational to assume that they are just plain dumb-lucky,” he concluded. In the five years to 1998, senators’ stock portfolios beat the market by an average of 12 percent a year.

The global wave of right-wing populism has been very good for weapons producers. Despite presenting himself as an antiwar candidate, Trump has greatly increased the military budget and expanded the U.S. role in Yemen. More than half of all discretionary spending goes to the military, with America spending almost as much on arms as the rest of the world combined, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. The president often likes to remind the country that the stock market is at an all time high. Military contractors are among the best performing of those; Yahoo! Finance notes that if you had bought Northrop Grumman stock five years ago, you would have seen a 146 percent gain today. Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, nine of the ten largest weapons manufacturers saw their stock prices increase immediately after Conservative Boris Johnson defeated socialist antiwar candidate Jeremy Corbyn in December’s General Election.

The recent rocketing of military contractors’ stock values highlights the growing contrast between the profit motive of capitalism and human survival. So often, what is bad news for the world is good news for the military-industrial complex.

MintPress is covering the Iran conflict closely. For more content, click here.

Feature photo | President Donald Trump talks with Lockheed Martin president and CEO Marilyn Hewson, right, and director and chief test pilot Alan Norman in front of a F-35 as he participates in a “Made in America Product Showcase” at the White House, July 23, 2018, in Washington. Evan Vucci | AP

Alan MacLeod is a 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. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

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Trump Threats of Cultural Genocide Against Iran Violate US, International Law

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 07/01/2020 - 6:20am in

On Saturday U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted a not so cryptic threat that he was planning to attack over 50 important Iranian cultural sites if Iran continued to threaten to retaliate for the U.S. assassination of Iranian Gen. Qasem Solemani. “Let this serve as a WARNING” he wrote, that if Iran struck any American “assets” in retaliation for the assassination of its top General Qasem Soleimani, “we have targeted 52 Iranian sites” of historic and cultural importance, that will “BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD” in his signature mix of upper and lower case text.

Iran is one of the cradles of civilization, where organized human society is believed to have first arisen, and possesses some of the most ancient cities and artifacts in the world. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognizes 24 sites in Iran (more than almost any other country in the world) that are of such critical cultural and historical importance that they belong to all of humanity. Among them are the ancient city of Persepolis and the citadel of Bam, both dating back to over 500 years before Christ, and the Sassanid archeological landscape of the Fars region. Today the large country is home to over 81 million citizens. 

The threats to erase humanity’s history and culture evoked a distinctly fundamentalist tone that many people commented on. In 2001, the Taliban blew up the Buddhas of Bamyan in Afghanistan, enormous stone structures carved into sandstone 1,500 years ago, while in 2015 ISIS destroyed the Temple of Bei at Palmyra, Syria. Both were also UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez responded that:

The Trump administration pulled the U.S. out of UNESCO, owing $600 million to the organization after it admitted Palestine as a full member. On January 3, the U.S. military carried out a successful drone strike in Baghdad, killing Lt. General Qasem Soleimani, something it has been attempting to do for two years. Soleimani was a key figure in Iran, one of the country’s most capable, influential and popular leaders. Millions of Iranians came out to his funeral to demonstrate and show solidarity against the U.S. action.

The United States has a longstanding policy of regime change against Iran. However, the Trump administration has taken further aggressive steps towards that goal of late. The U.S. pulled out of the Iran Nuclear Deal, effectively crippling negotiations. It also increased its sanctions against the country, causing economic dislocation inside Iran. And in response to the Iraqi government demanding that all U.S. military leave the country, the president vowed to place sanctions on that country. On Sunday the Iranian government announced that it too would stop abiding by the terms of the nuclear treaty.

Article 2 of the UN Charter, the bedrock of international law, states:

All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.

Likewise, Trump’s statements are also in violation of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, which states that any international agreement made under duress or threat of force is null and void. Targeting cultural sites is also specifically recognized as a major war crime under the 1954 Hague Convention. In response to ISIS’ actions in the Middle East, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated in 2015 that, “The deliberate destruction of our common cultural heritage constitutes a war crime and represents an attack on humanity as a whole.” The destruction of cultural artifacts are illegal under U.S. law as well. Section 5.16.2 of the Department of Defense Law of War Manual prohibits threats to destroy cultural objects for the express purpose of deterring enemy operations, meaning Trump’s action directly contravene American codes of war.

However, it is unlikely that any action will be taken, just as it is unlikely that Trump will be removed from Twitter for breaking its terms of service on threatening or harassing behavior, despite many times threatening enemy states with nuclear annihilation. At the same time, antiwar voice, Daniel MacAdams of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity was permanently banned from the platform for describing Fox News’ Sean Hannity as “retarded.”

While speculating on others’ mental state is generally unadvisable, over 350 mental health professionals recently signed a letter stating that Trump’s is “deteriorating dangerously” due to the impeachment hearings, something that the psychiatrists warned could lead to potentially ‘catastrophic outcomes.”

This weekend, antiwar demonstrations were held across the United States in over 70 locations protesting Trump’s escalation of violence against Iran and Iraq. At a protest in Washington, D.C. journalist Max Blumenthal claimed that Soleimani was assassinated precisely because of his success in fighting back against ISIS and Al-Qaeda in the region, reducing these “moderate rebels” to spent forces. Thus, without Soleimani’s leadership, many of the Middle East’s most sacred religious and cultural sites may have already been destroyed before Trump’s most recent Twitter proclamations. Billionaire Republican backer Sheldon Adelson has already advised that the U.S. should drop an atomic bomb on the Iranian desert. Perhaps he will get his wish with Trump in the White House.

Feature photo | In this Saturday, May 18, 2019 photo, a couple takes photos with bas reliefs of ancient Persian soldiers in an old neighborhood in downtown Tehran, Iran. Vahid Salemi | AP

Alan MacLeod is a 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. He has also contributed to Fairness and Accuracy in ReportingThe GuardianSalonThe GrayzoneJacobin MagazineCommon Dreams the American Herald Tribune and The Canary.

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