7.06.2016 In Depth Look


war afghanistanhttps://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jul/07/blair-chilcot-war-in-iraq-not-blunder-crime – A mere handful of the thousands of accounts that have already appeared about the just-released Chilcot Inquiry, not even a significant fraction of a significant fraction of the tens of thousands of reports still to come, but a few assessments that seek to make sense of the noisome rackets that govern the world now and act on their own behalf with the pretense of providing security, when what they deliver is megadeath and profiteering plunder, beginning with a briefing from The Guardian that makes the crucial point that–whether one is accounting for the Iraq war or the most recent police butchery in the United States–these developments are never accidental or mistaken, they are conscious gangster enterprises that are nothing less than crimes against humanity–something for which capital punishment is perhaps the only remedy in some people’s views–an initial take that Global Research follows up with the absolutely essential historical component  that proves the century-long, and longer, proclivity to invade and conquer so as to maximize monopoly and optimize imperial rule; a first pass that Salon continues by presenting the indisputable analytical point that all analysts and experts and investigators knew, or should have known but for having their heads up their asses so as both to avoid confronting reality and to make self-interested hypocrisy less putrid, that the Project for a New American Century plan to invade country after country would cause an absolute unhinging of the world, knowledge that the world’s imperial masters ignored as they invaded anyhow; a number-one look that Common Dreams amplifies with the critical awareness  that this sort of ultimately tepid rebuke–scolding for ‘tragic mistakes’ instead of indictments and gallows for mass murderers–hardly merits more than disgust inasmuch as the Iraqi, or Afghan, or Palestinian, or Fergusonian, or Baton Rougean point of view is all but altogether absent from the calculations and calculus of Sir John Chilcot and his ilk; the sum total of which illuminates what a new essay from Countercurrents illuminates, that the systematic and preferential and viciously purposeful nature of this vast web of lucrative activity, at once gainful and commercially central to capital’s continuation, is only possible to address, and if we are to survive overcome, if citizens organize across borders and among divergent ‘identity groups’ to get rid of the underlying causes of these ever-increasing, and ultimately ecocidal, methodologies, which is to say transnational finance capital’s imprimatur over everything in existence: “Tony Blair is damned.  We have seen establishment whitewashes in the past: from Bloody Sunday to Hillsborough, officialdom has repeatedly conspired to smother truth in the interests of the powerful.  But not this time.  The Chilcot inquiry was becoming a satirical byword for taking farcically long to execute a task; but Sir John will surely go down in history for delivering the most comprehensively devastating verdict on any modern prime minister.rect3336 space
Those of us who marched against the Iraq calamity can feel no vindication, only misery that we failed to prevent a disaster that robbed hundreds of thousands of lives – those of 179 British soldiers among them – and which injured, traumatised and displaced millions of people: a disaster that bred extremism on a catastrophic scale.  One legacy of Chilcot should be to encourage us to be bolder in challenging authority, in being sceptical of official claims, in standing firm against an aggressive agenda spun by the media.  Lessons must be learned, the war’s supporters will now declare.  Don’t let them get away with it.  The lessons were obvious to many of us before the bombs started falling.

This, as Chilcot puts it, was no war of ‘last resort:’ this was a war of choice, unleashed ‘before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted.’  (Labour M.P. Alan) Simpson said: ‘We appear to produce dossiers of mass deception, whose claims are dismissed as risible almost as soon as they are released.’  And now Chilcot agrees that the war was indeed based on ‘flawed intelligence and assessments’ that were not ‘challenged, and they should have been.’  Nelson Mandela was among those who, in the runup to war, accused Blair and Bush of undermining the United Nations. Mandela lies vindicated.  As Chilcot says: ‘We consider that the UK was … undermining the security council’s authority.’

GWB : 0930-1250 North Atlantic Council (NAC) Summit. Prague, Czech Republic
GWB : 0930-1250 North Atlantic Council (NAC) Summit. Prague, Czech Republic

So many warnings. …Consider this, from the anti-war Dissident Voice website a month before the conflict: ‘A US attack and subsequent occupation of Iraq will provide new inspiration – and new recruitment fodder – for al-Qaida or other terrorist groups, and will stimulate a long-term increased risk of terrorism, either on US soil or against US citizens overseas.’  It is not to belittle the authors to point out this was a statement of the obvious, except to those responsible for the war and their cheerleaders.  Then read Chilcot: ‘Blair was warned that an invasion would increase the terror threat by al-Qaida and other groups.’

Let’s laud the Chilcot inquiry for giving the official seal to the truths we have always known, but be aware that this is all it has done.  The truths it has exposed were there already, long before the gates of hell had been opened – as the secretary general of the Arab League warned would happen, before the invasion. …And the horror continues, the 250 Iraqis killed by car bombings this weekend a devastating reminder of the chaos for which Blair must take responsibility.  This was not a blunder, not an error, not a mistake: whatever the law decides, this was – from any moral standpoint – one of the gravest crimes of our time.  Those responsible will be for ever damned.  After today, we can single them out – and call them by name.”The Guardian
Bundesarchiv Potsdamer_Konferenz,_Churchill,_Truman,_Stalin

“Churchill invented Iraq.  The end of World War I left Britain and France in command of the Middle East and the allies carved up the region as the defeated Ottoman Empire fell apart.  Winston Churchill convened the 1912 Conference in Cairo to determine the boundaries of the British Middle Eastern mandate.  After giving Jordan to Prince Abdullah, Churchill, gave Prince Abdullah’s brother Faisal an arbitrary patch of desert that became Iraq.

Churchill’s imperial foreign policy has caused a century of instability in Iraq by arbitrarily locking together three warring ethnic groups that have been bleeding heavily ever since.  In Iraq, Churchill bundled together the three Ottoman vilayets of Basra that was predominantly Shiite, Baghdad that was Sunni, and Mosul that was mainly Kurd. rect3336 space
Britain set up a colonial regime in Iraq. British oppression in Iraq intensified and an uprising in May 1920 united Sunni and Shia against the British.  Winston Churchill, the responsible cabinet minister, took almost a decade to brutally quash the uprising leaving 9,000 Iraqis dead.  Churchill ordered punitive village burning expeditions and air attacks to shock and awe the population.  The British air force bombed not only military targets but civilian areas as well.  British government policy was to kill and wound women and children so as to intimidate the population into submission.

(Moreover), (i)n 1919 Churchill remarked, ‘I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas.  I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes… It will cause great inconvenience and spread a lively terror.’  Churchill, saw Iraq as an experiment in aerial technological colonial control as a cheaper way to patrol the over-extended empire.  Almost one hundred years since Churchill sought the use of aerial technology to cling onto influence over a restive Iraq, Blair’s government began flying deadly drones over Baghdad and Helmand Province in Afghanistan.

Britain’s relationship with Iraq has always revolved around the issue of oil.  Churchill viewed Iraq as an important gateway to Britain’s Indian colony and oil as the lifeblood for Britain’s Imperial Navy.  Britain established the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC) as the vehicle through which Iraqi oil would be exploited.  British Petroleum (BP), or the Anglo-Persian Oil Company as it was known back then, was also heavily involved in plundering Iraqi oil.rect3336 space
British oilmen benefited incalculably from Iraq’s puppet regime until the Iraqi masses rose up against British influence. T his led to the Iraq revolution of 1958 and the rise and eventual Presidency of Saddam Hussein.  British and US intelligence helped Saddam’s Ba`ath Party seize power for the first time in 1963.  Ample new evidence shows that Saddam was on the CIA payroll as early as 1959, when he was part of a failed assassination attempt against Iraqi leader Abd al-Karim Qassem.  During the 1980s, the United States and Britain backed Saddam in the war against Iran, providing Iraq with weapons, funding, intelligence, and even biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction.”—Global Research

“Al-Qaeda was weak before the U.S.-led, U.K.-backed war in Iraq.  Top British intelligence officials, however, repeatedly cautioned that a foreign military invasion of Iraq would strengthen extremist groups like al-Qaeda, and bring more into the country.  Prime Minister Tony Blair had been informed of this threat numerous times before 2003, but he ignored the warnings and supported the war effort anyway.  These revelations are among the findings of the Chilcot report, the nickname for the British government’s massive, 2.6 million-word Iraq Inquiry, which concluded that the U.S.-led, U.K.-backed invasion of Iraq was neither justified nor necessary.
Intelligence agencies knew before the war that dictator Saddam Hussein did not pose a threat to Western countries, the Chilcot report shows, but an invasion of Iraq threatened to empower Islamist militants that actually did pose a threat.  In fact, the inquiry documents how the U.K.’s Joint Intelligence Committee clearly and persistently warned the Blair administration in the months leading up to the war that, in the words of the Chilcot report, ‘an invasion of Iraq was expected to increase the threat to the UK and UK interests from Al Qaida and its affiliates.’ …
Al-Qaeda in Iraq eventually morphed into the Islamic State of Iraq, which later became the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIS.  Prime Minister Blair admitted in October 2015 that the invasion of Iraq that he co-led gave birth to ISIS, a genocidal fascist group that still controls swaths of the war-torn country.  Yet, in the early 2000s, Blair was actively ignoring intelligence that foreshadowed the rise of groups like ISIS.

John Chilcot, a senior politician who sits on the British government’s Privy Council advisory board and who was appointed as chair of the Iraq Inquiry, implied in his public statement on the report that Blair was exaggerating a non-existent threat while denying the real one.  ‘There was no imminent threat from Saddam Hussein,’ Chilcot stated bluntly.  He cited a March 2003 speech in the House of Commons in which Prime Minister Blair insisted that the possibility of extremist groups getting their hands on Hussein’s supposed weapons of mass destruction’ was ‘a real and present danger to Britain and its national security.

‘ …
Even if the WMD intelligence had been correct, however, the Chilcot report shows that the American and British governments were actually compounding the threats to their citizens, not protecting them, by invading Iraq.  The Iraq Inquiry’s 150-page executive summary has an entire section titled ‘The predicted increase in the threat to the UK as a result of military action in Iraq.’  It shows how the Blair administration ignored the warnings of its own top intelligence officials.”Salon

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“(Tony Blair’s promise to George Bush fourteen years ago, July 28, to stand by the imperial Yankee thugs, has) got deeper roots than (loyalty). I have a hunch this was the Blair version of the infinitely more powerful words of Harry Hopkins, Roosevelt’s personal representative to wartime Britain, who – exhausted, but asked to speak to an audience in Glasgow – looked down the room at Churchill and tried to express his love for the great man’s stand against Hitler and Roosevelt’s support for Britain as she stood alone against Nazi Germany.   Hopkins quoted the Bible.  Churchill wept as he spoke.  ‘Whither thou goest,’ Hopkins said, ‘I will go… Even unto the end.”’

And the best our little Tony could say was:’“I will be with you, whatever.’  It’s the ‘whatever’ bit that gives the game away, of course; a kind of tossed-out line, the midget’s version of ‘even unto the end,’ an ‘aw-shucks come-hell-or-high-water, you can rely on me(no matter what the British people may think or desire).’ …
(In any case), I’m already tired of the ‘lessons’ of the Chilcot report.  We must learn from what we did wrong, we mustn’t do it again – Cameron repeated the same doggerel, although he might apply it to his own knavish Brexit tricks – and we really, really must get it right before we blunder into more wars that cost hundreds of British lives, millions of dollars and tens of thousands of other chaps who got in the way but don’t feature as human beings in the Chilcot report.

That’s the real problem, I fear, with the flagellation of Lord Blair.   Yes, he sure was a nasty piece of work, lying to us Brits and then lying to us again after Chilcot was published, and then waffling on about faith and ‘the right thing to do’ when we all know that smiting vast numbers of innocent people – and even bringing about the smiting of a vaster number of the very same Muslims, Christians and Yazidis up to this very day – was a very, very bad thing to do.  For these victims – anonymous and almost irrelevant in the Chilcot report – we cannot say ‘even unto the end,’ because they are dying unto the present day.  The real ‘end’ for these victims cometh not even yet.

(Real holders of WMD’s, such as Israel and Pakistan, become ‘uninvadeable’).  (In that context), (w)e weep for our British military martyrs, for such is how the Arabs refer to their wartime dead, yet scarcely a single suffering Arab was to be heard in the aftermath of Chilcot.  The Iraqis were not allowed to give evidence; the dead Muslims and Christians of Iraq had no-one to plead for the integrity of their lives.  Had their case been made, Chilcot’s report would have gone on to the crack of doom.  It would have been longer than the Holy Bible, the Holy Koran, the entire corpus of Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, Chekhov, Proust, Shakespeare and Dante – though the latter’s circles of hell would certainly have caught the measure of the suffering of Iraq and Syria.  No. It was, in reality, a midget report on a midget man.  That’s why, if we brought in the real human beings called Iraqis, their evidence would have indeed been worth a Nuremburg trial.  And yet, in the end, weren’t the ranks of obsequious, strutting, lying and defeated Nazis on the bench at Nuremburg also midgets?  Even unto the end.  Whatever.”Common Dreams

“On July 5th Baton Rouge police killed Anton Sterling in a Louisiana parking lot.  Sterling was a 37-year-old Black father of five selling CDs outside of a local storage.  As captured on widely seen cellphone video, two officers tased him, held him with their hands and knees down on the ground and then shot him multiple times at close range.  The officers pulled a gun out of Sterling’s pocket after they had killed him but witnesses say Sterling was not holding the gun and his hands were never near his pockets.  The situation might have escalated further but clearly little concern was shown for the sanctity of a human life deemed a threat to officers.  In the witness-recorded video one officer promises, ‘If you f—ing move, I swear to God!’

And so it is abroad.  The week’s other chilling news (in addition to Sir John Chilcot’s lengthy condemnation of Tony Blair) involved the long-promised release of U.S. government data on drone strikes and civilian deaths.  The report covered four countries with which the U.S. is not at war.  From 2009 through 2015 in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya the U.S. admits to its drone strikes having killed between 64 and 116 civilians, although these numbers are only a small fraction of even the most conservative estimates on such deaths made by credible independent reporters and researchers over the same period.  With U.S. definitions of a ‘combatant’ constantly in flux, many of the 2,372 to 2,581 ‘combatants’ the government reports killed over the same period will have certainly been civilian casualties.  Few eyes in the U.S. watch for cellphone video from these countries, and so the executing officers’ versions of events are often all that matters.

As Philip Giraldi notes, a March 2015 Physicians for Social Responsibility report claims that more (perhaps far more) than 1.3 million people were killed during the first ten years of the ‘Global War on Terror’ in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.  Adding Syria, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, he finds the current total might easily exceed 2 million with some estimates credibly going to 4 or beyond.  He fears the data released July 1st will end up normalizing the drone program, writing: ‘The past 15 years have institutionalized and validated the killing process.  President Clinton or Trump will be able to do more of the same, as the procedures involved are ‘completely legal’ and likely soon to be authorized under an executive order.’ …
In the U.S. neighborhoods where people like Alton Sterling most risk summary execution, residents cannot be faulted for concluding that the U.S.’ government and society don’t mind treating their homes as warzones; that lives of innocent people caught up in these brutal wars do not matter provided the safety and property of the people outside, and of the people sent in to quell disorder, are rigorously protected.  My friends and sometime hosts in Afghanistan, the Afghan Peace Volunteers, run a school for street kids, and a seamstress program to distribute thick blankets in the winter.  They seek to apply Mohandas Gandhi’s discipline of letting a determination to keep the peace show them the difficult work needed to replace battlefields with community.  Their resources are small and they live in a dangerous city at a perilous time.  Their work does little, to say the least, to ensure their safety.  They aim to put the safety of their most desperate neighbors first.

It makes no-one safer to make our cities and the world a battlefield.  The frenzied concern for our safety and comfort driving so much of our war on the Middle East has made our lives far more dangerous.  Can we ask ourselves: which has ever brought a peaceful future nearer to people in Afghan or U.S. neighborhoods– weaponized military and surveillance systems or the efforts of concerned neighbors seeking justice?  Gigantic multinational ‘defense’ systems gobble up resources, while programs intended for social well-being are cut back.  The U.S. withholds anything like the quantity of resources needed for the task of healing the battle scar the U.S. and NATO have inflicted on so much of the Muslim world.  If our fear is endless, how will these wars ever end?  We have to face that when the U.S. acts as self-appointed ‘global policeman,’ what it does to poor nations resembles what those two officers did to Alton Sterling.  We must temper selfish and unreasonable fears for our own safety with the knowledge that others also want safe and stable lives.  We must build community by lessening inequality.  We must swear off making the world our battlefield and be appalled to hear the U.S. government seem to tell the world ‘I will kill you if you f—ing move.'”—Countercurrents