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Posts Tagged ‘UNITED NATIONS’

SELF-DEFENSE FOR TEENS AND NATIONS

In History, Law, Military, Politics, Social commentary on July 30, 2014 at 11:36 am

The dictionary defines “self-defense” as: “The act of defending one’s person when physically attacked, as by countering blows or overcoming an assailant.”

Apparently, some schools and nations have a very different idea of what constitutes self-defense.

In May, A 16-year-old girl at Santa Rosa High School was suspended for fighting on campus–after she was attacked by two other girls from another school.

The May 16 fight was recorded on cell phone video by a third student.

Mia Danley, the girl’s mother. claims her daughter was jumped by two girls who had been cyber-bullying her for months.  The reason: she was dating one of their former boyfriends.

Reacting to the cellphone footage of her daughter being assaulted, she said: “I see my baby being attacked viciously and I see her defending herself like we taught her to.”

Allen Danley, the girl’s father, showed school officials the cellphone texts that one of his daughter’s assailants sent threatening a fight.

But this made no difference to school authorities.

Santa Rosa High School has a strict no-fighting policy.  But Allan Danley pointed out to school officials that their  own student handbook states that “a student cannot be arrested or suspenced for defending themselves.”

They, in turn, claimed that his daughter didn’t cry out for help during the fight.  So she was considered a willing participant.

Click here: Parents of Santa Rosa High School Student Suspended for Fighting Say Daughter Was Defending Herself from Bullies 

Now let’s turn to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Hamas has been designated a terrorist organization by Israel, Canada, Japan, the European Union,  Jordan, Egypt and the United States.

On July 8, it began launching hundreds of missiles at Israel.

Hamas rocket blasts toward Israel

And Israel, to stop the attacks, responded in kind.

As a result, Israel has come under repeated verbal attacks by Hamas-sympathetic nations.

The charge: Israel is being too effective at defending itself, killing more Palestinians than Hamas is able to kill Israelis.

Reuven Berko, a former soldier in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) recently addressed this charge in a guest column in the online newsletter, the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT).

A major reason for so many civilian deaths among Palestinians, writes Berko, is that Hamas turns them into human shields by hiding its missiles in heavily-populated centers.

On July 17, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Far East (UNRWA) discovered approximately 20 rockets hidden in a vacant UN school in the Gaza Strip.

“UNRWA strongly condemns the group or groups responsible for placing the weapons in one of its installations,” said the agency in an announcement.  “This is a flagrant violation of the inviolability of its premises under international law.”

UNRWA claimed that “this incident…is the first of its kind in Gaza.”   But Israel counters that this is just one of many proven instances of Hamas hiding its fighters and munitions among a heavily civilian population.

Click here: UNRWA Strongly Condemns Placement of Rockets in School | UNRWA

At the heart of Berko’s editorial is the subject of “proportionality.”

Writes Berko: “Israel is held to an impossible moral double standard.

“Israelis, proportionality advocates seem to believe, should be killed by Hamas rockets instead of following Home Front Command instructions and running to shelters, to say nothing of Israel’s blatant unfairness in protecting its civilians with the Iron Dome aerial defense system….

“Anyone who demands that Israel agree to a life of terror governed by a continuous barrage of rockets and mortar shells on the heads of its women and children in the name of restraint and ‘proportionality’ would never agree to risk the safety of their own families in a similar situation.”

Berko points out that during World War 11, the Allies didn’t hesitate to retaliate for the Nazi blitz of London.  In February, 1945, British and American planes firebombed Dresden, killing about 25,000 people.

Nor did America feel guilty about dropping two atomic bombs on Japan, killing about 250,000 civilians.

Summing up his argument, Berko writes: “The ridiculous demand for proportionality contradicts every basic principle of warfare.

“According to American strategist Thomas Schelling, you have to strike your enemy hard enough to make it not worthwhile for him to continue….

“In the Western world, killing someone in self-defense is considered justifiable homicide.”

Click here: Guest Column: The Double Standard of Proportionality :: The Investigative Project on Terrorism

Berko could just as easily have ended his column with the words of Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman, whose Union forces cut a swath of destruction across the South in his famous “March to the Sea.”

William Tecumseh Sherman

Wrote Sherman: “Those people made war on us, defied and dared us to come south to their country, where they boasted they would kill us and do all manner of horrible things.

“We accepted their challenge, and now for them to whine and complain of the natural and necessary results is beneath contempt.”

GETTING HELP FROM YOUR ENEMIES: PART TWO (END)

In History, Military, Politics on January 7, 2014 at 12:15 am

Here’s another reason to welcome the coming of the New Year:

Al-Qaeda and Hezbollah have gone to war–with each other.

Al-Qaeda terrorists–now taking aim at Hezbollah terrorists

This is an event the United States could not have predicted or instigated.  But it is definitely one in which Americans can take hope.

In Part One, two of those reasons were outlined.  Here are the remaining eight:

Third, the United States is still fighting a brutal war in Afghanistan. By early 2012, the United States had about 90,000 troops in Afghanistan, with 22,000 of them due home by the fall.

There has been no schedule set for the pace of the withdrawal of the 68,000 American troops who will remain, only that all are to be out by the end of 2014.

The initial goal of this war was to quickly destroy Al Qaeda–especially its leader, Osama Bin Laden–and its Taliban protectors.

But, over time, Washington policy-makers embarked on a “nation-building” effort.  And U.S. forces wound up occupying the country for the next ten years.

This increasingly brought them into conflict with primitive, xenophobic Afghans, whose mindset remains that of the sixth century.

On February 21, 2013, protests erupted throughout Afghanistan as reports emerged that NATO personnel at Bagram Air Base had burned copies of the Koran.

The books had been confiscated from suspected insurgents and inadvertently marked for incineration.

The incident sparked rabid anti-American demonstrations. At least 30 people, including four American troops, were killed, and many were wounded.

Two American military officers were murdered by a trusted member of the Afghan military.

As a result, American forces no longer trust their “brothers” in the Afghan army to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them against the Taliban.

One American officer stated that he would no longer meet with his Afghan counterparts unless there were five armed U.S. troops in the same room.

Fourth, intervening in Syria could produce similar unintended consequences for American forces–and make the United States a target for more Islamic terrorism.

Fifth, since 1979, Syria has been listed by the U.S. State Department as a sponsor of terrorism. Among the terrorist groups it supports are Hezbollah and Hamas.

For many years, Syria provided a safe-house in Damascus to Ilich Ramírez Sánchez–the notorious terrorist better known as Carlos the Jackal.

Sixth, according to U.S. defense reports, Syria has weapons of mass destruction–and the ballistic missiles to deliver them. Syria has an active chemical weapons program, including significant reserves of the deadly nerve agent sarin.

The recent destruction of much of Syria’s WMD stockpile–at the demand of President Barack Obama–doesn’t erase its ability to create more.  And this is likely to re-occur as soon as the United States becomes preoccupied with other concerns.

Seventh, the United States had no part in creating the Assad regime. Thus, Americans have no moral obligation to support those Syrians trying to overthrow it.

Eighth, China and Russia are fully supporting the Assad dictatorship–and the brutalities it commits against its own citizens. This reflects badly on them–not the United States.  America should focus world outrage against these longtime Communist dictatorships for propping up another one.

Ninth, the United States could find itself in a shooting war with Russia and/or China.

The Russians sent two warships to Syria in 2013 in response to President Obama’s threat to “punish” Assad for using chemical weapons against insurgents.

What happens if American and Russian warships start trading salvos?  Or if Russian President Vladimir Putin orders an attack on Israel, in return for America’s attack on Russia’s ally, Syria?

It was exactly that scenario–Great Powers going to war over conflicts between their small-state allies–that triggered World War l.

Tenth, while Islamic nations like Syria and Egypt wage war within their own borders, they will lack the resources–and incentive–to launch attacks against the United States.

Every dead Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda member makes the United States that much safer.  Every dead supporter of Hezbollah or Al-Qaeda makes the United States that much safer.

The peoples of the Middle East have long memories for those who commit brutalities against them.  In their veins, the cult of the blood feud runs deep.

When Al-Qaeda blows up civilians in Beirut, it’s certain that their relatives will urge Hezbollah to take brutal revenge.  And it’s equally certain that Hezbollah will do so.

Similarly, when Hezbollah does, those who support Al-Qaeda will demand even more brutal reprisals against Hezbollah.

No American could instill such hatred in Al-Qaeda for Hezbollah–or vice versa.  This is entirely a war of religious and sectarian hatred.

This conflict could easily become the Islamic equivalent of “the Hundred Years’ War” that raged from 1337 to 1453 between England and France.

When Adolf Hitler invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, then-Senator Harry Truman said: “I hope the Russians kill lots of Nazis and vice versa.”

That should be America’s view whenever its sworn enemies start killing off each other.  Americans should welcome such self-slaughters, not become entrapped in them.

GETTING HELP FROM YOUR ENEMIES: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In History, Military, Politics on January 6, 2014 at 12:37 am

Sometimes your worst enemies aid you in ways you could never help yourself.

From July 10 to October 31, 1940, hundreds of badly-outnumbered pilots of the British Royal Air Force (RAF) fought off relentless attacks by Germany’s feared Luftwaffe.

For Germany’s Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, it was a major setback.

He was forced to concede that he lacked the strength to destroy the British air force–thus making it possible for his navy to land German troop on English soil.

But Hitler wasn’t prepared to give up.  He believed he could so terrorize Britons that they would demand that their government submit to German surrender demands.

From September 7, 1940 to May 21, 1941, the Luftwaffe subjected England–and especially London–to a ruthless bombing campaign that became known as The Blitz.

The undamaged St. Paul’s Cathredal, December, 1940

More than 100 tons of high explosives were dropped on 16 British cities.  During 267 days (almost 37 weeks):

  • London was attacked 71 times;
  • Birmingham, Plymouth and Liverpool were attacked eight times;
  • Bristol was attacked six times; Glasgow, five; Southampton four; and
  • There was also at least one large raid on another eight cities.

Between 40,000 and 43,000 British civilians were killed.  About 139,000 others were wounded.

“London can take it” went the British slogan.  But, in the United States, Americans–including President Franklin D. Roosevelt–wondered: For how much longer?

Clearly, what Great Britain desperately needed most was a miracle.

Exactly that happened on June 22, 1941.

With 134 Divisions at full fighting strength and 73 more divisions for deployment behind the front, the German Wehrmacht invaded the Soviet Union.

German tank commander

Joseph Stalin, the longtime Soviet dictator, was stunned.  The invasion had come less than two years after Germany had signed a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union.

Hitler had turned on his partner-in-crime.  The two dictators had greedily split Poland between them when Hitler launched his invasion on September 1, 1939.

Now they were locked in a fight to the death.

People in England were also surprised–but also suddenly hopeful.   Britain now had an ally whose resources might tip the balance against Hitler.

In the United States, then-Senator Harry S. Truman spoke for many Americans when he said: “I hope the Russians kill lots of Nazis and vice versa.”

Today the United States faces just such an opportunity.

In Syria, two of America’s most deadly enemies are now waging war–with each other.

Yes, it’s Hezbollah (Party of God) vs. Al-Qaeda (The Base).

United Nations officials estimate that more than 70,000 people have died in Syria’s civil war since conflict began on March 15, 2011.  The trigger: Protests demanding political reforms and the ouster of dictator Bashar al-Assad.

Hezbollah is comprised of Shiite Muslims, who form a minority of Islamics.  A sworn enemy of Israel, it has  kidnapped scores of Americans suicidal enough to visit Lebanon and truck-bombed the Marine Barracks in Beirut in 1983, killing 299 Americans.

Flag of Hezbollah

Al-Qaeda, on the other hand, is made up of Sunni Muslims, who form the majority of that religion.  It is intolerent of non-Sunni Muslims and has instigated violence against them.  It denounces them as “takfirs”–heretics–and thus worthy of extermination.

Al-Qaeda has attacked the mosques and gatherings of liberal Muslims, Shias, Sufis and other non-Sunnis.   Examples of sectarian attacks include the Sadr City bombings, the 2004 Ashoura massacre and the April, 2007 Baghdad bombings.

Flag of Al-Qaeda

On one side is the Ba’ath regime of Bashir al-Assad, whose allies include Russia, Iran, Hezbullah, and elements in the Iraqi government.

On the other side are a host of Syrians and thousands of foreign Sunni fighters some of whom have affiliated with Al-Qaeda.

And now that civil war has spread into neighborhing Lebanon.

On January 2, at least four people were killed and 77 injured when a car bomb exploded in a residential  neighborhood in southern Beirut.

The Shiite-dominated district, Haret Hreik, is known as a Hezbollah stronghold.

Two days later, an Al-Qaeda linked group claimed responsibility for the attack.

At a press conference for President Barack Obama on March 20, 2013, a reporter asked:

“Morally, how is it possible that for the last two years, tens of thousands of innocent civilians [in Syria] are being massacred and no one–the world, the United States and you–are doing anything to stop it immediately?”

That is entirely the wrong way to view this conflict.

There are solidly practical reasons why the United States should avoid this bloodfest–while cheering on each of its mortal enemies to do its worst.

First, the United States recently disengaged from Iraq.  On Dec. 15, 2011, the American military formally ended its mission there. The war–begun in 2003–had cost the lives of 4,487 service members, with another 32,226 wounded.

Second, the war in Iraq fell victim to the law of unintended consequences. The Bush administration invaded Iraq to turn it into a base–from which to intimidate its neighboring states: Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey, Syria and Iran.

But while Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had been a counter-weight to the regional ambitions of Iran, the destruction of the Iraqi military created a power-vacumn.  Into this–eagerly–stepped the Iranian mullahs.

MIND OUR OWN BUSINESS

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics on March 27, 2013 at 12:01 am

At a joint press conference for President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on March 20, a reporter asked Obama:

“Morally, how is it possible that for the last two years, tens of thousands of innocent civilians [in Syria] are being massacred and no one–the world, the United States and you–are doing anything to stop it immediately?”

President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at press conference

United Nations officials estimate that more than 70,000 people have died in Syria’s civil war since conflict began on March 15, 2011.  The trigger: Protests demanding political reforms and the ouster of dictator Bashar al-Assad.

But Israelis aren’t the only ones demanding that America “do something” to end the carnage in Syria.  So are members of Congress and the national news media.

TV reporters from ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and other networks are eagerly training their cameras on the carnage.  As they say in television journalism: “If it bleeds, it leads.”

And this, in turn, causes members of Congress and the Obama administration to fear for their jobs. They dread that voters will blame them for not “doing something” to end the fighting.

Like sending in American armed forces to somehow stop it.

True, most of these officials never spent a day in military service. But it’s always easier to send someone else into combat than to take that risk yourself.

And this is a risk that–emphatically–the United States has absolutely no business taking.

First, the United States just disengaged from Iraq.  On Dec. 15, 2011, the American military formally ended its mission there. The war–begun in 2003–had cost the lives of 4,487 service members, with another 32,226 wounded.

Second, the war in Iraq fell victim to the law of unintended consequences. The Bush administration invaded Iraq to turn it into a base–from which to intimidate its neighboring states: Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Turkey, Syria and Iran.

But this demanded that the United States quickly pacify Iraq. The Iraqi insurgency totally undermined that goal, forcing U.S. troops to focus all their efforts inward.

Another unintended result of the war: Whereas Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had been a counter-weight to the regional ambitions of Iran, the destruction of the Iraqi military created a power-vacumn.  Into this–eagerly–stepped the Iranian mullahs.

Third, the United States is still fighting a brutal war in Afghanistan. By early 2012, the United States had about 90,000 troops in Afghanistan, with 22,000 of them due home by the fall. There has been no schedule set for the pace of the withdrawal of the 68,000 American troops who will remain, only that all are to be out by the end of 2014.

The initial goal of this war was to quickly destroy Al Qaeda–especially its leader, Osama Bin Laden–and its Taliban protectors. But, over time, Washington policy-makers embarked on a “nation-building” effort.  And U.S. forces wound up occupying the country for the next ten years.

This increasingly brought them into conflict with primitive, xenophobic Afghans, whose mindset remains that of the sixth century.

On February 21, protests erupted throughout Afghanistan as reports emerged that NATO personnel at Bagram Air Base had burned copies of the Koran. The books had been confiscated from suspected insurgents and inadvertently marked for incineration.

The incident sparked rabid anti-American demonstrations. At least 30 people, including four American troops, were killed, and many were wounded. Two American military officers were murdered by a trusted member of the Afghan military.

As a result, American forces no longer trust their “brothers” in the Afghan army to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them against the Taliban. One American officer stated that he would no longer meet with his Afghan counterparts unless there were five armed U.S. troops in the same room.

Fourth, intervening in Syria could produce similar unintended consequences for American forces–and make the United States a target for more Islamic terrorism.

Fifth, since 1979, Syria has been listed by the U.S. State Department as a sponsor of terrorism. Among the terrorist groups it supports are Hezbollah and Hamas. For many years, Syria provided a safe-house in Damascus to Ilich Ramírez Sánchez–the notorious terrorist better known as Carlos the Jackal.

Sixth, according to U.S. defense reports, Syria has weapons of mass destruction–and the ballistic missiles to deliver them. Syria has an active chemical weapons program, including significant reserves of the deadly nerve agent sarin.

Seventh, the United States had no part in instigating revolt against the Assad regime. Thus, Americans have no moral obligation to support those Syrians trying to overthrow it.

Eighth, China and Russia are fully supporting the Assad dictatorship–and the brutalities it commits against its own citizens. This reflects badly on them–not the United States.  America should focus world outrage against these longtime Communist dictatorships for propping up another one.

Ninth, while Islamic nations like Syria and Egypt wage war within their own borders, they will lack the resources–and incentive–to launch attacks against the United States.

When Senator Harry S. Truman learned that Nazi Germany had turned on its ally, the Soviet Union, in June, 1941, he said: “I hope the Russians kill lots of Nazis and vice versa.”  We should welcome these self-slaughters, not become involved in them.

* * * * *

All of this adds up to one, overwhelming conclusion: America should mind its own business–and let the Syrians attend to their own.

FOREGIVABLE–AND UNFORGIVABLE–TRAGEDIES: PART FIVE (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics on December 3, 2012 at 12:10 am

When Germany’s Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler, wanted to invade Poland in 1939, he mounted a propaganda campaign to “justify” his intentions.

Adolf Hitler

German “newspapers”–produced by Joseph Goebbels, the club-footed Minister of Propaganda–carried fictitious stories of how brutal Poles were beating and even murdering their helpless German citizens.

In theaters, German audiences saw phony newsreels showing Poles attacking and raping German women living in Poland.

For a time, Hitler not only deceived the Germans but the world.

Just before German tanks and troops invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, members of Hitler’s dreaded SS rounded up a number of prisoners from German concentration camps.

They inmates were dressed in Polish Army uniforms and driven to a German radio station at Gleiwitz, on the German/Polish border.  There they were shot by SS men.  Then Polish-speaking SS men “seized” the station and broadcast to Germany that a Polish invasion was now under way.

Leaders of Britain and France were taken in by this ruse.  They had pledged to go to war if Hitler attacked Poland–but they didn’t want to take on Germany if Poland had been the aggressor.

By the time the truth became known, Poland was securely in German hands.

On August 22, Hitler had outlined his strategy to a group of high-ranking military officers:

I shall give a propagandist cause for starting the war.  Never mind whether it is plausible or not.  The victor will not be asked, later on, whether he told the truth or not.  In starting and waging a war, it is not Right that matters, but Victory.

President George W. Bush followed a similar strategy while he prepared to invade Iraq:  He ordered the topmost members of his administration to convince the American people of its necessity.

George W. Bush

Among their arguments–all eventually revealed as lies–were:

  • Saddam had worked hand-in-glove with Bin Laden to plan 9/11.
  • Saddam was harboring and supporting Al Qaeda throughout Iraq.
  • Saddam, with help from Al Qaeda, was scheming to build a nuclear bomb.
  • Iraq possessed huge quantities of chemical/biological weapons, in violation of UN resolutions.
  • American Intelligence agencies had determined the precise locations where these weapons were stored.

Hitler never regretted his decision to invade Poland–although he was taken aback by the reaction of Britain and France to it.  Both countries shortly declared war on Germany–just as they had warned they would do.

Similarly, Bush never regretted his decision to invade Iraq, which occurred on March 29, 2003.

Even as American occupying forces repeatedly failed to turn up any evidence of “weapons of mass destruction” (WMDs), Bush and his minions claimed the invasion a good thing.

In fact, Bush–who hid out the Vietnam war in the Texas Air National Guard–even joked publicly about the absence of WMDs.

He did so at a White House Correspondents dinner on March 24, 2004–one year after he had started the war.

To Bush, the non-existent WMDs were nothing more than the butt of a joke that night. While an overhead projector displayed photos of a puzzled-looking Bush searching around the Oval Office, Bush recited a comedy routine.

“Those weapons of mass destruction have gotta be somewhere,” Bush laughed, while a photo showed him poking around the corners in the Oval Office.

“Nope–no weapons over there! Maybe they’re under here,” he said, as a photo showed him looking under a desk.

Meanwhile, an assembly of wealthy, pampered men and women–the elite of America’s media and political classes–laughed heartily during Bush’s performance.

Ultimately, the war that Bush had deliberately provoked would take the lives of 4,486 Americans.

Click here: Bush laughs at no WMD in Iraq – YouTube

Contrast all this with the letter almost 100 right-wing Republicans sent President Barack Obama on November 19:

“Dear Mr. President,” the letter opens. “We, the undersigned, are deeply troubled by your current comments that you are considering Ambassador Susan Rice to succeed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.

“Though Ambassador Rice has been our representative to the U.N., we believe her misleading statements over the days and weeks following the attack on our embassy in Libya that led to the deaths of Ambassador [Christopher] Stevens and three other Americans caused irreparable damage to her credibility both at home and around the world.”

Add it all up:

  • From January to August, 2001, President Bush and the topmost officials of his Cabinet smugly ignore warnings about a coming terrorist attack by Al Qaeda.
  • On September 11, 3,000 Americans die, needlessly and horrifically, when that attack occurs.
  • The Bush administration launches a year-long, lie-strewn campaign to convince Americans that Iraq has WMDs.
  • After America invades Iraq, no WMDs are found.
  • Bush finds this hilarious, openly joking about it.
  • All of that is instantly justified by Republicans.
  • Susan Rice repeats what American intelligence agencies told her–that the Libya attack was triggered by an anti-Muslim video.  Only later does the CIA call it a terrorist attack.
  • Republicans say they are “deeply troubled” by this.

Clearly there is a highly political–and hypocritical–double-standard at work here.

FORGIVABLE–AND UNFORGIVABLE–TRAGEDIES: PART FOUR (OF FIVE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics on November 30, 2012 at 12:00 am

On September 11, 2001, the criminally negligent behavior of senior members of the George W. Bush administration led to the deaths of 3,000 Americans.

Yet even worse was to come.

On the evening after the September 11 attacks, President Bush held a private meeting with Richard Clarke, the counter-terrorism advisor to the National Security Council.

“I want you, as soon as you can, to go back over everything, everything,” said Bush.  “See if Saddam [Hussein, the dictator of Iraq] did this.  See if he’s linked in any way.”

Clarke was stunned: “But, Mr. President, Al Qaeda did this.”

“I know, I know,” said Bush.  “But see if Saddam was involved.  I want to know.”

On September 12, 2001, Bush attended a meeting of the National Security Council.

“Why shouldn’t we go against Iraq, not just Al Qaeda?” demanded Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense.

Vice President Dick Cheney enthusiastically agreed.

Secretary of State Colin Powell then pointed out there was absolutely no evidence that Iraq had had anything to do with 9/11 or Al Qaeda.  And he added: “The American people want us to do something about Al-Qaeda”–not Iraq.

In 1940, Adolf Hitler had salivated for a war against the Soviet Union even while he was locked in mortal combat with England.  Now, 61 years later, Bush couldn’t wait to invade Iraq even before his armies had pacified Afghanistan.

On November 21, 2001, only 10 weeks after 9/11, Bush told Rumsfeld: It’s time to turn to Iraq.

Bush and his war-hungry Cabinet officials knew that Americans demanded vengeance on Al Qaeda’s mastermind, Osama bin Laden, and  not Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein,.  So they repeatedly fabricated “links” between the two:

  • Saddam had worked hand-in-glove with Bin Laden to plan 9/11.
  • Saddam was harboring and supporting Al Qaeda throughout Iraq.
  • Saddam, with help from Al Qaeda, was scheming to build a nuclear bomb.

Yet as early as September 22, 2001, Bush had received a classified President’s Daily Brief intelligence report, which stated that there was no evidence linking Saddam Hussein to 9/11.

The report added that there was scant credible evidence that Iraq had any significant collaborative ties with Al Qaeda.

Even more important: Saddam had tried to monitor Al Qaeda through his intelligence service–because he saw Al Qaeda and other theocratic radical Islamist organizations as a potential threat to his secular regime.

Bush administration officials repeatedly claimed that Iraq possessed huge quantities of chemical and biological weapons, in violation of UN resolutions.  And they further claimed that US intelligence agencies had determined:

  • the precise locations where these weapons were stored;
  • the identities of those involved in their production; and
  • the military orders issued by Saddam Hussein for their use in the event of war.

Among other lies stated as fact by members of the Bush administration:

  • Iraq had sought uranium from Niger, in west Africa;
  • Thousands of aluminum tubes imported by Iraq could be used in centrifuges to create enriched uranium;
  • Iraq had up to 20 long-range Scud missiles, prohibited under UN sanctions;
  • Iraq had massive stockpiles of chemical and biological
  • Iraq had massive stockpiles of chemical and biological agents, including nerve gas, anthrax and botulinum toxin;
  • Saddam Hussein had issued chemical weapons to front-line troops who would use them when US forces crossed into Iraq.

Consider the following:

August 26, 2002: Cheney told the Veterans of Foreign Wars, “There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies and against us.”

September 8, 2002: National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice said on CNN: “There is certainly evidence that al Qaeda people have been in Iraq. There is certainly evidence that Saddam Hussein cavorts with terrorists.”

September 18, 2002: Rumsfeld told the House Armed Services Committee, “We do know that the Iraqi regime has chemical and biological weapons. His regime has amassed large, clandestine stockpiles of chemical weapons—including VX, sarin, cyclosarin and mustard gas.”

October 7, 2002:  Bush declared in a nationally televised speech in Cincinnati that Iraq “possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons.”

January 7, 2003: Rumsfeld told a Pentagon news briefing, “There’s no doubt in my mind but that they currently have chemical and biological weapons.” This certainty was based on contemporary intelligence, he said, not the fact that Iraq had used chemical weapons in the 1980s.

January 9, 2003: White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said, “We know for a fact that there are weapons there.”

February 8, 2003: Bush said in his weekly radio address: “We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons—the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have.”

March 16, 2003: Cheney declared on NBC’s “Meet the Press”: “We believe [Saddam Hussein] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.”

March 17, 2003: In his final prewar ultimatum, Bush declared, “Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.”

March 30, 2003:  On ABC’s “This Week” program, 10 days into the war, Rumsfeld said: “We know where they [weapons of mass destruction] are.”

FORGIVABLE–AND UNFORGIVABLE–TRAGEDIES: PART THREE (OF FIVE)

In Bureaucracy, History, Politics on November 29, 2012 at 12:01 am

Republicans claim to be “deeply troubled” by the conduct of Susan Rice, the American ambassador to the United Nations, after the Benghazi tragedy, which left four dead Americans in its wake.

But they showed no such concerns when the George W. Bush administration refused to seriously address the mounting evidence that Al Qaeda intended to strike at the United States.

And when that refusal snuffed out the lives of 3,000 Americans.

Nigel Hamilton is the bestselling author of American Caesars: Lives of the Presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to George W. Bush. 

In his chapter on George W. Bush, he chronicles the futile struggles of counter-terrorism chief Richard Clarke to warn his superiors of an upcoming Al Qaeda attack.

As chef counter-terrorism advisor to President Bill Clinton, he had held cabinet-level access. But now he faced a serious handicap:  Although he retained his position under Bush, he was now denied such access.

This put him at a severe disadvantage when dealing with higher-ranking Bush officials–-who refused to believe that Al-Qaeda posed a lethal threat to the United States.

National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice initially refused to hold a cabinet-level meeting on the subject.  Then she insisted the matter be handled only by a more junior Deputy Principals meeting in April, 2001.

Paul Wolfowitz, the number-two man at the Department of Defense, said: “I don’t understand why we are beginning by talking about this one man, bin Laden.”

Even after Clarke outlined the threat posed by Al-Qaeda, Wolfowitz–whose real target was Saddam Hussein–said: “You give bin Laden too much credit.”

Wolfowitz insisted that bin Laden couldn’t carry out his terrorist acts without the aid of a state sponsor–namely, Iraq.

Wolfowitz, in fact, blamed Iraq for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Clarke was stunned, since there was absolutely no evidence of Iraqi involvement in this.

“Al-Qaeda plans major acts of terrorism against the United States,” Clarke warned his colleagues.

He pointed out that, like Adolf Hitler, bin Laden had actually published his plans for future destruction.

And he added: “Sometimes, as with Hitler in Mein Kampf, you have to believe that these people will actually do what they say they will do.”

Wolfowitz heatedly traded on his Jewish heritage to bring Clarke’s arguments to a halt: “I resent any comparison between the Holocaust and this little terrorist in Afghanistan.”

Writing in outraged fury, Hamilton sums up Clarke’s agonizing frustrations:

  • Bush’s senior advisors treated their colleagues who had served in the Clinton administration with contempt.
  • President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz seemed content to ignore the danger signals of an impending al-Qaeda attack.
  • This left only Secretary of State Colin Powell, his deputy Richard Armitage, Richard Clarke and a skeptical Treasury Secretary, Paul O’Neill, to wage “a lonely battle to waken a seemingly deranged new administration.”

Clarke alerted Federal Intelligence agencies that “Al-Qaeda is planning a major attack on us.” He asked the FBI and CIA to report to his office all they could learn about suspicious persons or activities at home and abroad.

Finally, at a meeting with Rice on September 4, 2001, Clarke challenged Rice: 

“Picture yourself at a moment when in the very near future Al-Qaeda has killed hundreds of Americans, and imagine asking yourself what you wish then that you had already done.”

Apparently Rice couldn’t imagine such a scenario, because she took no action to prevent it. Nor did she urge anyone else to do so.

Seven days later, Al-Qaeda struck, and 3,000 Americans died horrifically–and needlessly.

Neither Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld nor Wolowitz ever admitted their negligence.  Nor would any of them be brought to account.

Disgustingly, these are the same officials who, afterward, posed as the Nation’s  saviors-–and branded anyone who disagreed with them as a traitor, practices Republicans continue to use to this day.

Only Richard Clarke-–who had vainly argued for stepped-up security precautions and taking the fight to Al Qaeda–gave that apology.

On March 24, 2004, Clarke testified at the public 9/11 Commission hearings. Addressing relatives of victims in the audience, he said: “Your government failed you, those entrusted with protecting you failed you, and I failed you.”

Yet even worse was to come.

On the evening after the September 11 attacks, Bush took Clarke aside during a meeting in the White House Situation Room:

“I want you, as soon as you can, to go back over everything, everything.  See if Saddam [Hussein, the dictator of Iraq] did this.  See if he’s linked in any way.”

Clarke was stunned: “But, Mr. President, Al Qaeda did this.”

“I know, I know,” said Bush.  “But see if Saddam was involved.  I want to know.”

FORGIVABLE–AND UNFORGIVABLE–TRAGEDIES: PART TWO (OF FIVE)

In Bureaucracy, Politics, Social commentary on November 28, 2012 at 12:00 am

Republicans claim to be “deeply troubled” by the conduct of Susan Rice, the American ambassador to the United Nations, after the Benghazi tragedy, which left four dead Americans in its wake.

But they showed no such concerns when the George W. Bush administration refused to seriously address the mounting evidence that Al Qaeda intended to strike at the United States.

And when that refusal snuffed out the lives of 3,000 Americans.

It’s important to remember those who made 9/11 not simply possible but inevitable.

And that does not mean only the 19 hijackers who turned those planes into fuel-bombs. It means those officials at the highest levels of the administration of President George W. Bush.

Officials who profited economically and/or politically from the tragedy but were never accountable for the resulting death and destruction. Starting with the former President himself.

Even at the Republican National Convention in Tampa in August, Bush was hailed as the man “who kept us safe.”  Except, of course, for that small matter of 3,000 dead Americans on 9/11.

British historian Nigel Hamilton has dared to lay bare the facts of this outrage. Hamilton is the author of several highly acclaimed political biographies, including JFK: Reckless Youth, and Bill Clinton: Mastering the Presidency.

In 2007, he began research on his latest book: American Caesars: The Lives of the Presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to George W. Bush.

The inspiration for this came from a classic work of ancient biography: The Twelve Caesars, by Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus–known as Suetonius.

Suetonius, a Roman citizen and historian, had chronicled the lives of the first twelve Caesars of imperial Rome: Julius Caesar, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, Vespasian, Titus and Domitian.

Hamilton wanted to examine post-World War II United States history as Suetonius had examined that of ancient Rome: Through the lives of the 12 “emperors” who had held the power of life and death over their fellow citizens–and those of other nations.

For Hamilton, the “greatest of American emperors, the Caesar Augustus of his time,” was Franklin D. Roosevelt, who led his country through the Great Depression and World War II.

His “”great successors” were Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy–who, in turn, contained the Soviet Union abroad and presided over sustained economic prosperity at home.

By contrast, “arguably the worst of all the American Caesars” was “George W. Bush, and his deputy, Dick Cheney, who willfully and recklessly destroyed so much of the moral basis of American leadership in the modern world.”

Among the most lethal of Bush’s offenses: The appointing of officials who refused to take seriously the threat posed by Al-Qaeda.

And this arrogance and indifference continued–right up to September 11, 2001, when the World Trade Center and Pentagon became targets for destruction.

Among the few administration officials who did take Al-Qaeda seriously was Richard Clarke, the chief counter-terrorism adviser on the National Security Council.

Clarke had been thus appointed in 1998 by President Bill Clinton. He continued to hold this role under President Bush, but with a major difference: The position was no longer given cabinet-level access.

This put him at a severe disadvantage when dealing with other, higher-ranking Bush officials–such as:

  • Vice President Dick Cheney
  • Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld
  • Rumsfeld’s deputy, Paul Wolfowitz and
  • National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice.

These turned out to be the very officials who refused to believe that Al-Qaeda posed a lethal threat to the United States.

In a perverse travesty of justice, Condoleeza Rice appeared as a featured speaker at the 2012 Republican National Convention that nominated Mitt Romney for President.

Without a hint of apology for her own neglectful role in making 9/11 not only possible but inevitable, she said on August 29:

“I will never forget the bright September day, standing at my desk in the White House, when my young assistant said that a plane had hit the World Trade Center–and then a second one–and a third, the Pentagon.

“And then the news of a fourth, driven into the ground by brave citizens that died so that many others would live. From that day on our sense of vulnerability and our understanding of security would be altered forever.”

Hamilton noted that Richard Clarke was certain that Osama bin Laden had arranged the [USS.] Cole bombing in Aden on October 12, 2000.

For months, Clarke tried to convince others in the Bush Administration that Bin Laden was plotting another attack against the United States–either abroad or at home.

During the first eight months of the Bush Presidency, Clarke was forbidden to brief President Bush, despite the mounting evidence that al-Qaeda was planning to strike.

Even more vexing for Clarke: During his first eight months as President before September 11, Bush was on vacation 42% of the time, according to the Washington Post.

FORGIVABLE–AND UNFORGIVABLE–TRAGEDIES: PART ONE (OF FIVE)

In Uncategorized on November 27, 2012 at 12:05 am

Republicans in the Senate and House of Representatives are once again on a witch hunt.

This time, their intended victim is Susan Rice, United States ambassador to the United Nations, and a possible successor to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

With the re-election of President Barack Obama, Clinton is not expected to stay on during his second term.

And the reason for the witch hunt?

On September 11, a terrorist attack on the United States diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, left four Americans dead–including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

Hours before the Benghazi violence, a mob had attacked the U.S. Embassy in Cairo in response to a “blasphemous” anti-Muslim video posted on YouTube.

Appearing on several political talk-shows just days after the attack, Rice attributed the attacks to the video. Later investigation showed it was the work of an Al Qaeda terrorist cell.

The Benghazi attack came on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., which killed about 3,000 Americans.

Republicans–and especially then-Presidential candidate Mitt Romney–charged that the Libya assault was clearly a terrorist attack aimed at the anniversary.

Republicans have since demanded that President Obama abandon any plans he might have to nominate Rice as Clinton’s replacement as Secretary of State.

Responding to her critics, Rice held a press conference outside the U.N. Security Council on November 21:

“As a senior U.S. diplomat, I agreed to a White House request to appear on the Sunday shows to talk about the full range of national security issues of the day, which at that time were primarily and particularly the protests that were enveloping and threatening many diplomatic facilities, American diplomatic facilities around the world, and Iran’s nuclear program.

“When discussing the attack against our facilities in Benghazi, I relied solely and squarely on the information provided to me by the intelligence community. I made clear that the information was preliminary, and that our investigations would give us the definitive answers.

“Everyone, particularly the intelligence community, has worked in good faith to provide the best assessment based on the information available.

“…I knew Chris Stevens.  I worked closely with him and had the privilege of doing so as we tried together, as a government, to free the Libyan people from the tyranny of [Libyan leader Moammar] Kadaffi.

“He was a valued colleague, and his loss, as well as the loss of his three colleagues, is a massive tragedy for all of us who serve in the U.S. government, and for all the American people,” said Rice.

Rice is no diplomatic lightweight.  She is a former Brookings Institute fellow, and served on the staff of the National Security Council and as Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs during President Bill Clinton’s second term.

She was confirmed by unanimous consent of the Senate as America’s ambassador to the UN on January 22, 2009.

Yet, on November 19, almost 100 House Republicans sent President Barack Obama a letter, urging him to not nominate her as Secretary of State.

They argued that Rice’s credibility had been irreparably damaged by her statements coming after the Libya attacks.

“Dear Mr. President,” the letter opened.  “We, the undersigned, are deeply troubled by your current comments that you are considering Ambassador Susan Rice to succeed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State.

“…We believe [Rice's] misleading statements over the days and weeks following the attack on our embassy in Libya that led to the deaths of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans caused irreparable damage to her credibility both at home and around the world.

“In her interviews over that time, Ambassador Rice propagated a falsehood that the attacks were ‘spontaneous,’ the outcome of a protest ‘spun out of control’ and the result of a YouTube video.

“Only on September 19–eight days after the attack–did the American people learn from National Counterterrorism Director Matthew Olson that the intelligence services quickly considered the attack an act of terrorism and that Al Qaeda may have played a role.

“We believe that making her the face of U.S. foreign policy…would greatly undermine your desire to improve U.S. relations with the world,” the letter concluded.

Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic U.S. Senator from California and chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Rice had solid reason to not label the Benghazi attack a terrorist mission.

That view, said Feinstein, was based on information that had not yet been cleared by intelligence officials for public release.

But that didn’t make any difference to Rice’s critics.

Republicans claim to be “deeply troubled” by Rice’s behavior after a tragedy that left four dead Americans in its wake.

But they showed no such concern when the George W. Bush administration refused to seriously address mounting evidence that Al Qaeda planned to strike inside the United States.

And when that refusal snuffed out the lives of 3,000 Americans.

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