Tag Archives: Warmongering

Canadian high schoolers paid $2,000 to take military training course

By Ashley Tseng
April 25, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

With the enthusiastic support of the Saskatchewan government, the Canadian military is partnering with Regina’s Public and Catholic school boards to provide basic military training to high school students.

Students who complete the new Canadian Army Primary Reserve Co-op Program will receive $2,000 and two high school credits. According to a Saskatchewan government press release, upon completion of the program students will be eligible to be enrolled in the regular Canadian Army Reserve, which the Canadian military describes “as a part-time, fully integrated component of the Canadian Army.”

Currently the “Reserve Co-op Program” is only offered in Regina. But there are plans to extend it to other cities and towns in Saskatchewan.

The introduction of what is for all intents and purposes a military recruitment campaign as part of Saskatchewan’s school curriculum exemplifies the Canadian elite’s embrace of militarism. Until recently, the Canadian Armed Forces was popularly presented as “peacekeepers.” Now Prime Minister Harper describes Canada as a “warrior nation” and routinely advances the reactionary and patently false claim that Canadians owe their “liberty” to the military.

Since the end of the last century, Canada, under Liberal and Conservative governments has joined one US-led war after another, including against Yugoslavia in 1998, Afghanistan and Libya. Currently, Canadian warplanes are bombing Iraq and Syria. And last week, the Conservative government, which has already deployed planes to Eastern Europe and ships to the Black Sea to join in the NATO build-up against Russia, announced it would be sending 200 Canadian military trainers to Afghanistan.

The $2,000 incentive for participating in Coop the program is primarily targeted at low-income, working-class youth who would otherwise have no interest in joining the military, but find it increasingly difficult to find a career path or a way out of low-paying part-time jobs. While Saskatchewan’s right-wing government, a close ally of the Conservative government in Ottawa, is lavishing resources on military training, parents in Regina complain that they are forced to pay hundreds of dollars extra so that their children can take instruction in enriched classes like “Media and Communications” or “Environmental Studies.”

Colonel Ross Ermel, a commander of the 38th Canadian Brigade Group, which comprises reserve units from Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario, told reporters, “We’re always looking for innovative ways to expand our ability to connect with Canadians, to find new recruits and make sure we remain sustainable in the long term.”

He touted a career in the Reserves as an “excellent opportunity” to gain skills and “experience service to Canada.” As the Canadian military’s website notes, “Since the year 2000, more than 4,000 Primary Reservists have been deployed in Canadian Armed Forces operations in Afghanistan, Haiti, and other international expeditionary operations.”

Colonel Ermel went on to provide his own chilling perspective of never-ending war. “We live in a world where conflict is perennial,” he said. “Operations that the military conducts run the gamut from full, high intensity conflicts, to humanitarian operations and domestic operations.” The last reference is especially ominous. While this is little discussed publicly, one of the core functions of the military is to “provide aid to civil power,” i.e. suppress civil unrest.

The Co-op Reserve program, which took in its first cohort in February, gives its high school student participants the opportunity to earn two credits: a core credit in Canadian history and an elective credit for the military training part of the program.

While the core credit is listed as a Canadian history course, the curriculum will be integrated with the Reserve agenda so that it buttresses militarist thinking by glorifying Canada’s military interventions over the past century, including its role as a major belligerent in the two imperialist world wars. The military training course will involve 23 full days of basic training, including how to handle a firearm, physical fitness, military drills, and first aid.

Military officials are justifying the program by framing it as a leadership-training program and by emphasizing the Reserves’ role in responding to natural disasters. However, what is termed as a leadership-training opportunity for youths can more accurately be described as a crass tool used to condition them to submit to Canada’s role in waging imperialist war and to uncritically obey their authorities.

Further exposing themselves as proponents of Canada’s growing militarism, Saskatchewan’s social-democratic NDP backed the program when it was presented to the legislature. “Certainly the NDP is supportive and proud and eternally grateful for the Canadian Armed Forces. The program presents an opportunity for students to learn about the Canadian Armed Forces first hand,” gushed NDP MLA (Member of the Legislature) Trent Wotherspoon.

Despite the program having gone forward, various pacifist organizations have expressed their opposition. PeaceQuest Regina and the Regina Peace Council started a petition in favour of withdrawing the program from the public high school system. Peace activists criticised the program’s role in endorsing violence as an appropriate method for conflict resolution, arguing that respect and discipline can be taught in ways that don’t involve endorsing militarism. Many remember the days, prior to the growth of the anti-Vietnam War movement in the United States and Canada, when it was common in Canadian high schools for students to be required to participate in military “cadet” training.

Resistance to the program has also come from parents and teachers of the Catholic school board. In mid-February, the Regina Catholic School Division annual elector’s meeting passed a motion informing Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall that it does not want a military training program in its high schools. Those who were against the program argued that peace studies should replace the current military curriculum, stating that a program that teaches students how to handle firearms, and submit unquestionably to authority has the opposite effect of teaching students how to become leaders. However, despite resounding opposition from the school community, the board is not legally obliged to enforce the expressed will of its constituents.

In a statement that points to the strong backing for the military training program at the highest levels of the Saskatchewan government, Catholic School Board Chair Rob Bresciani told the Regina Leader- Post that the motion had put the board in an “awkward” position, because it needs a good working relationship with the provincial government.

The Wall government’s inviting of the military into schools is part of a broader initiative in which school boards are being instructed to partner with industry and other employers.

At the same time, citing the fall in oil prices and government oil royalties and tax revenues, the provincial government has slashed education funding and social spending geared towards youths and families. In the budget tabled last month, the government reduced eligibility to a program that supplements the incomes of low-income families and cut the “active families benefit” which provided subsidies for parents to enrol their children in sport and art programs. Support for postsecondary students has also been slashed.

‘God Told Me to Do It’: The Dangers of America’s Lunatic Right

By Peter Sterry
April 20, 2015
21st Century Wire

 

Christian Fundamentalism Permeates the Republican Party: Sarah Palin’s links to the Christian RightThese are truly insane times.

Aside from the odd grumblings about being a “Christian nation,” here in Britain we are mostly divorced from strong religious themes in our politics. Not so in the US, and I’m not talking about Prayer in Schools here either.

Something big is brewing in America, and it’s not all good. It’s not just the usual war hawk talk from the rank and file Rambo crowd like John McCain, Lindsey Graham and new baby hawks like Senator Tom Cotton. We understand them and their desire to act on behalf of the military industrial complex to sell more Apaches, planes, bombs, boats and missiles. Men such as these can be found everywhere throughout history. They love and want war, and always will.

That’s not it though. There is something else. There exists a rather ugly anti-Arab, or more specifically – anti-Islam wave which is being pushed along, gradually building up into a Zeitgeist in US right-wing political and ‘Christian’ discourse. Presently, this is threatening to go mainstream in America. This is partly due to 15 years of the West’s war against Arabs, and a classically conditioned Pavlovian western anxiety surrounding Muslims. This is not just traditional bigotry, or even racism. It is both disturbing – and frightening, not unlike similar Nazi rhetoric which ushered in Germany’s modern dark age. The same patterns are now being mirrored in certain side-shows within the US political circus.

1-Crusades-Iran-IsraelIMAGE: ONWARD CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS!

This is exactly how Hitler gathered steam in the early days of the Third Reich – by employing an overtly jingoistic, and even genocidal, racist party line – in order to invigorate his hard core supporters whom he knew would form the phalanx of his foot soldiers later on. In this kind of jagged political environment, facts do not matter at all, but FEAR is everything. If a politician or a street agitator can instil fear into the crowd, then he, or she, knows that power is well within their grasp.

To super charge the political narrative, and rally the remaining foot soldiers who don’t necessarily understand politics too well but are still eager to follow, a leader must evoke fundamentalist religious, mythological, or occult-based belief systems. To make this ideological jump, nogoosestep is required. Here, fellow travelers Adolph Hitler, Rudolf Hess and Heinrich Himmler were able to quietly coordinate a masterful mix, establishing a popular and potent cocktail of reactionary politics and derivative occult and mythological lore and corresponding symbology.

The soil for this kind of convergence has never been more fertile in the US as it is today. Since the early 1980’s, when the Republican Party discovered how important the Evangelical and Christian Zionist right-wing movements were in providing a strong political base, ‘End of Times’ mythology has steadily propagated throughout the United States. With that, a collection of bizarre, yet well-organized movements and sub-movements have evolved, and in each instance, these have provided universal backing to US wars and interventions in the Middle East and elsewhere, seeing these as ‘Holy Wars’ – in a Clash of Civilisations – rather than geopolitical maneuvers. As writerDaniel Spaulding explains,

“The United States has long been the home of a wide assortment of bizarre and eccentric sects and cults, most being harmless, or at least lacking the ability to do any serious harm outside of their immediate proximity without large-scale followings nor serious political access. But there are always exceptions, and one of the more prominent and influential ones is the highly politicised and well-funded Dispensationalist movement, a vocal and well-represented faction among fundamentalist Protestants. Not only do Dispensationalists have a large scale following, but they also manage to wield considerable influence in Washington, especially on US foreign policy.”

Within this contrived ‘End Times’ meets the Crusader, or Samuel P. Huntington’s ‘Clash of Civilisations’ dialectic, Arabs and Muslims are almost universally characterized as terrorists and generalised as a universal threat which “must be dealt with”. Given enough time, these same preachers will be eventually craft a similar ‘End Times’ narrative around Russia, or China (some already have).

Throughout the usual paranoid rhetoric (from the usual suspects) on this subject, no specific mention is made as to how exactly the millions of  Arabs and ‘potential’ radical Islamic terrorists – should be “dealt with”. So say the hawks and the zealots. The only thing missing from this 21st century remix of Nuremberg’s Greatest Hits is talk of a “final solution” – even though this is what is clearly being inferred by certain politicians and American talk radio hosts who relentlessly pander to their highly lucrative, but helplessly terrified audiences. Some right-wing American pundits have even come out openly advocating a nuclear final solution to this ‘problem’.

To a lesser degree, and only on paper (so far anyway), Minnesota’s Michele Bachmann represents a mixture of these. Ever since her exit from politics last year, Tea Party favorite Bachmann has since been flirting with media regarding a possible 2016 Presidential run, although many believe she is already a spent force. Now she is urging more pastors around the country to speak from their pulpits about the coming “end of times”, which Bachmann insists is just around the corner. She believes that America’s ‘Christian believers’ are now in competition with Muslims, who themselves are already speedily preparing their own ‘end times’ pathway, in what she describes as, “the coming of their twelfth imam.”

Daniel Spaulding adds,  “Indeed, the late American intellectual Gore Vidal whimsically observed that the practical result of this Dispensationalist theology was a “military buildup that can never, ever cease until we have done battle for the Lord”.

Not by coincidence, the Dispensationalist theological narrative also happens to feed directly into the State of Israel’s own geopolitical and territorial expansion goals and objectives. As a mantra for geographical and cultural expansion, modern Zionism is not so different from the “Glory of Rome”, 19th century America’s ‘Manifest Destiny’, Britain’s Empire on which “the sun never sets”, or Nazi Germany’s Lebensraum” (living space). Israel desires and is actively pursuing its own Lebensraum too, which is called the Greater Israel Project (see their map here).

This is where the American Christian and evangelical right-wing, along with the Israeli Zionist lobby crossover with America’s Republican and Tea Party wings, and the glue which keeps it all together is money – lots and lots of money – for anyone willing to get up in public and sell this bizarre, albeit antiquated, pre-Medieval doctrine of the ‘Tribe of Israel’, the ‘Israelites‘ or ‘God’s chosen people’. According to this new doctrine, any threat to go off script, in other words, any threat to the Jewish State of Israel – is a threat to ‘destiny’ as prescribed by the End Times religious movement. You could go even further into depth and dig into the Anti-Christ and Jesus returning etc, but we’ll hit pause there. Some Islamic branches are also pushing a similar End Times narrative (including ISIS). Notice also how this plugs directly into the current fictional narrative (invented by the very same parties) that “Iran wants to wipe Israel off the map”. And there you have it – a potent religious justification for a preemptive military strike against Iran, as the centre piece for World War III.

Preachers and snake oil salesmen are one thing, but heads of state are another. When God speaks to political leaders these days, it seems that all God wants to talk about is war. On this count, both the US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair claimed that, ‘God told me to bomb and occupy Iraq.’ We should all understand the dangers of mixing religion with geopolitics by now.

Even though US President Barack Obama is on the way out with only a year and half to go in office before he retires to a predictable life of opening libraries, foundations, speeches and travel around the globe brokering peace deals – Bachmann and her fellow ‘Christian Soldiers’ (onward!) are convinced that Obama is reciting the Koran in the Oval Office and secretly organising ISIS training seminars over the border in Mexico. The big question is: what will they do when Obama finally leaves office? Will they blame him for all of America and the world’s ills for the next 8 years (exactly as the Democrats have done for the last 6 years, same show, different channel)?

Her recent remarks only reinforce what we already suspectedthat Obama is the least of worries….  In an article in the Christian Post, entitled Michele Bachmann Says Jesus’ Second Coming is ‘Imminent;’ Obama’s Nuclear Negotiations With Iran Are ‘Pro Islamic Jihad’, author  Samual Smith acknowledges that:

1-Michelle-Bachmann

Former congresswoman and 2012 Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has accused President Barack Obama of being “pro the goals of Islamic jihad,” which she explains includes welcoming the “hidden imam” to bring on the apocalypse.

In appearing on the “Understanding the End Times” radio program with Jan Markell last weekend, the 59-year-old Minnesotan bashed the president’s foreign policy goals as being aligned with the goals of Islamic extremists, who she argues have the ultimate goal of bringing about the end of the world and paving the way for the Islamic Messiah.

“Our president, who is as consistent in his foreign policy world view, which is to be anti-Israel and pro, and I’ll say it in my own words, pro the goals of Islamic jihad, because that is what we are seeing,” Bachmann asserted. “These are the goals of Islamic jihad.”

She explained that in February, Obama tried to justify the potential nuclear agreement with Iran by saying that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said it was against Islam to obtain a nuclear weapon.

Bachmann decried that “myth” and stated that Obama is either “ignorant of Islamic scripture” or he is trying to perpetuate a lie to the American public.

“Not only is there any such fatwa, he said that the supreme leader issued a fatwa, issuing a religious opinion, that it said that it was against Islam to obtain a nuclear weapon. Only there has ever been this fatwa found, nobody has ever seen it or heard it. It has never been published,” Bachmann said. “But, it reveals that our president is as ignorant of Islamic scripture as he is at Islamic history. Or, he is trying to intentionally lie to the American people. We don’t know which it is.”

Bachmann also called out the fact that Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani labeled Iran’s diplomacy with the United States as an “active jihad” in early March.

“Our negotiations with the world powers are a source of national pride,” Rouhani said in March. “Yesterday. your brave generals stood against the enemy on the battlefield and defended their country. Today, your diplomatic generals are defending [our nation] in the field of diplomacy — this, too, is jihad.”

Bachmann goes on to further explain Iran’s Shia Muslim goals by stating that they foresee and eventual world were only Islam reigns.

Islam is a flame because they see to that their scripture is being fulfilled. If you are a Shia, you believe that we are going to see the hidden imam soon come back and we will have an apocalypse and we will have an all-out war and then peace will come with only Islam reigning,” she said. “If you are Sunni Islam, you also believe that it is the end of the age. As Christians, we know that the word of God is true. Let’s preach the true living word of God from every pulpit so that believers can know what God’s time clock is.”… Christian Post 

Netanyahu Insists Iran Deal Includes His Demands

By Stephen Lendman
April 05, 2015
Global Research

 

NetanyahuThey want final say over any future agreement. Ideally, they want none at all. They want Iran isolated and weakened. They want its government ousted.

They want Israel’s main regional rival eliminated. They’re willing to wage war to achieve their objectives.

Netanyahu said any deal with Iran must include “a clear and unambiguous Iranian recognition of Israel’s right to exist.”

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf dismissed his demand out of hand saying:

Agreement with Iran “is only about the nuclear issue…(It) doesn’t deal with any other(s), nor should it.”

On April 3, The New York Times headlined “With Iran Deal in Hand, White House Makes Sales Pitch to Preserve It.”

Saying Obama briefed Republican and Democrat leaders by phone before agreement was announced.

He promised more updates as talks continue. Senior administration officials began promoting the deal.

“The intensity of the campaign reflects the steep challenge Mr. Obama faces in building support among lawmakers…skeptic(al about” any deal with Iran.

Fierce anti-Iranian sentiment may kill any eventual agreement. Congressional opposition could undermine months of administration efforts to achieve something it considers successful – true or false.

The Wall Street Journal reported cracks in the Democrat/Jewish alliance over any Iran deal and Obama’s dispute with Netanyahu.

Saying “(m)any US Jewish leaders are unnerved both by the new Iran nuclear agreement and the public falling out between President Barack Obama and his Israeli counterpart, developments that are creating a rift in the durable alliance between Jews and the Democratic Party in the run-up to the 2016 elections.”

They continue warning about a nonexistent Iranian threat to Israel. They want Obama’s relationship with Netanyahu softened.

They want US/Israeli relations strengthened – regardless of its permanent war on Palestine and outrageous human rights violations.

Some want Iran held hostage to Israeli demands. Expect Tehran to face enormous obstacles ahead to achieve any kind of fairness.

Expect Israeli and US-controlled IAEA chief Yukiya Amano to invent fake claims of Iranian backtracking to obstruct lifting sanctions.

Expect things Washington accepted to be reinterpreted otherwise. Expect Iran to face an uphill battle ahead achieving much less than it deserves, including:

  • lifting all sanctions straightaway on completing a final deal with no triggering mechanism for reinstating them based on likely bogus backtracking claims;
  • ending the charade once and for all about an Iranian nuclear weapons program the whole world knows doesn’t exist – stating publicly there’s none now, earlier or likely ahead;
  • normalizing ties with Washington and other Western countries – including reestablishing diplomatic relations; and
  • recognition of Iran’s sovereign independence and right to be accepted like Western nations treat other countries.

It’s hard imagining any deal ending 36 years of intense US anti-Iranian sentiment.

Not as long as Congress, Israel and its Lobby maintain strong opposition to dealing with Iran fairly.

Or Obama demanding much more than he’ll give – on top of America’s duplicitous history of violating treaties, conventions and deals it agreed to.

It remains to be seen if business as usual continues. Odds strongly favor it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.

Is US the “Good Guy” Imposing Sanity on Iranian “Bad Guy”?

By Robert Barsocchini
April 2, 2015
Washingtons Blog

 

Ex CIA analyst Ray McGovern today points out that “The mainstream U.S. media portrays the Iran nuclear talks as ‘our good guys’ imposing some sanity on ‘their bad guys.’”

Does this portrayal make any sense?  Or is it another “laboriously constructed” effort by what Physicians for Social Responsibility notes is an incredibly biased information system that leads people to believe wild fantasies, as in: “U.S. citizens believe that only 9,900 Iraqis were killed during the [US] occupation … [while] the actual number is likely to be more than a hundred times higher” (1 million +).

A brief review of US treatment of Iranians may shed some light.

In 1953, US-Iranian relations began: US oil magnates used the US government to overthrow Iran’s democracy and replace it with a tyrannical “king”.  Amnesty International said the king’s “history of torture … is beyond belief” and “no country in the world has a worse record in human rights” (p. 13).  With a puppet firmly set to enforce their will, the US oil magnates began looting 40% of Iran’s oil extractions, with the remaining 60% looted by Western Europe.

While working towards developing nuclear energy with US support, the Iranian puppet-king imprisoned, beat, tortured and/or murdered countless journalists, authors, educators, students, union organizers, and others.  A trademark move of the king was amputating a person’s limbs and sending the torso to the family (more).  The International Commission of Jurists reported that the king’s secret police “permeate Iranian society … especially where there are concentrated numbers of students” (ibid, p. 13).  One student recalled being shackled in a rancid cell and watching cockroaches, attracted by the open wounds inflicted on him by the king’s terrorists, eat him alive.

The US, always closely involved, was good enough to produce special instructional film for the king’s secret police on such topics as “how to torture women”.

Newsweek journalist John Barry has seen and described some of the taped Iranian/US sessions, which he refers to as “un-erasable pornography”.  Barry notes of the films:

Even now, on bad nights, images surface.

It seemed endless. I have no words to convey the horror.

The film showed sequences of torture on living victims, men and women, all naked and shackled to what looked like a bed frame. A variety of techniques were demonstrated: cigarette burns to sensitive parts of the body, the effects of electricity, and then on into other savageries I shy from recalling. One technique shown on the film used water. The film was clearly professionally made. There was a commentary … explaining, among other things, the varying sensitivities of men and women to different techniques, with a filmed example to illustrate each lesson. This was an instructional film. These torture sessions were not even designed to elicit information. The film was intended to teach Savak [Iranian secret police] recruits.

Barry does not mention the US role in producing these films, but documentation is readily available.  Here is Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk in London’s The Independent, on August 9, 1998:

American intelligence … taught the Shah’s SAVAK secret police how to torture women; after the revolution, the Iranians found CIA film of these lessons.

Historian William Blum notes that SAVAK was “created under the guidance” of the US and Israel and, “according to a former CIA analyst on Iran”, the US instructed SAVAK in torture.

(Dan Mitrione is one US terrorist who became personally notorious for demonstrating torture on live victims – homeless people – though his particular sessions served to maintain and expand the USA’s Latin American iron curtain.)

As an example of the “notoriously savage” techniques used by the Iranian/US regime, Barry, reporting in Newsweek, continues:

…an Iranian exile … had gone from Jordan into Iran to try to organize unions. Savak caught him, surgically amputated his arms and legs, and sent his living trunk back to his family in Amman as a warning.

Once they cast off the iron curtain, Iranians discovered certificates documenting people who had been tortured all the way to death by the US-supported implant:

…hundreds and hundreds of forms.

The USA’s man in Iran committed so much terrorism against secular opposition to the monarchy that the Islamic resistance took the lead once the tyranny was overthrown.

After being kicked out of its prime position for torturing, repressing, looting, and pillaging, the US swiftly teamed up with Saddam Hussein and some European countries, re-invaded Iran using Hussein as proxy (providing him with advanced and chemical weaponry), and killed some one million Iranian citizens (US per-capita equivalent of over 4 million citizens):

The death toll, overall, was an estimated 1 million for Iran… (The Guardian).

The US/Iraqi/Euro axis also slaughtered thousands of Kurds, many with gas weapons, arguably an act of genocide.  (The US soon thereafter, under Clinton, teamed up with Turkey for another genocide against the Kurds.)

In 1988, US pirates, thousands of miles from “their” own turf, shot down an Iranian civilian airliner in commercial airspace, killing almost 300 people.  A nearby US commander who witnessed the shoot-down wrote an article saying he couldn’t believe what he was seeing – an unprovoked US attack on an obviously civilian plane.  But when the pirates returned home, they, including the one who demanded the crime, were given a hero’s welcome and awarded medals, and VP Bush Sr. said specifically of the attack, exhibiting signature class, “I’ll never apologize for America, ever.  I don’t care what the facts are…”

Today, the US and its clients proudly assassinate Iranian scientists, and US sanctions against Iran, like the illegal US sanctions against Cuba, are intended to, and do, harm Iranian civilians for political reasons – the textbook definition of terrorism.

The US-EU sanctions have crippled Iran’s economy and caused tens of thousands of deaths by denying Iranians access to pharmaceuticals and medical equipment. (Keith Jones)

Iran sanctions now causing food insecurity, mass suffering … the US and its allies spread mass human misery… intensifying suffering of 75 million Iranian citizens as a result of the sanctions regime being imposed on them by the US and its allies… That sanctions on Muslim countries cause mass human suffering is not only inevitable but part of their design [producing] horrific … human suffering…

…”terrorism” means the use of violence aimed at civilians in order to induce political change from their government… (Glenn Greenwald)

On July 9, 2012, Muhammad Sahimi noted for Antiwar.com that “tens of thousands of them [Iranians], if not more, will also lose their lives if the sanctions continue, even without being tightened further.”

On July 31, 2012, the Christian Sicence Monitor headlined: “New Iran Sanctions: Why President Obama is Tightening the Screws”.

During this, as even neo-con Christopher Hitchens admitted, Iran has invaded no one, and in fact hasn’t invaded another country for over two hundred years, as noted by the Professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University.

In the “talks” the US is imposing on Iran, is the US the “good guy” and Iran the “bad guy”, or is this another wild distortion “laboriously constructed” by a Western media that leads us to believe the number of people killed due to a major US act of aggression is a hundred times lower that it actually is?

(The above are acts committed, often secretly at the time and later declassified, by the US oligarchy. US citizens, as Washington’s Blog noted today, want peace.)

Author and UK-based colleague on Twitter

Canada’s Political Mainstream Backs War in Ukraine

The Threats Against Russia

By Roger Annis
March 31, 2015
Counter Punch

 

Canadians will go to the polls next October in the first national election since the Conservative Party won a majority government in 2011. There is intense concern among progressive people in the country about the prospects of the Conservatives winning another term in office.

The government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper is moving further and further to the right. It has aligned itself tightly with U.S. foreign policy, including being ‘holier than thou’ in its unconditional support of Israel. It joined the U.S.-led air war in Iraq six months ago and now it is joining the U.S. in expanding that to Syria. It has cemented Canada’s role as a leading climate vandal in the world. It has attacked civil and social rights across the board and is now deepening that attack with the proposed, ‘police-state Canada’ Bill C-51.

This leaves many Canadians favorable to the idea of an electoral and governing alliance between the two, large opposition parties in Parliament—the Liberal and New Democratic parties—in order to defeat the Conservatives. NDP leader Tom Mulcair says he is open to a governing coalition with the Liberals if neither party wins an electoral majority.

But on the increasingly dangerous issue in world politics—the war in eastern Ukraine and accompanying military threats and expansion of NATO in eastern Europe—there is an astonishing unanimity in the Canadian political and media establishment. NATO is embarked on a drive to weaken Russia, with all the risk and folly that entails—including a nuclear danger. The people and territory of Ukraine are being used as war proxies to get at Russia. Yet, there is nary a peep of disagreement in the Parliament in Ottawa.

Liberals in lock-step with Conservatives over Ukraine/Russia

Is it possible for opposition parties in Ottawa to promise big change from Conservative rule when they share the Conservative–and NATO–ambition for a ‘long war’ with Russia? It is not. Canadians are seriously mistaken if we believe that a country embarked on confrontation with the peoples of Russia and elsewhere in eastern Europe can simultaneously tackle the important issues of our times such as climate change, political rights and social justice (particularly as concerns Indigenous peoples).

The website The New Cold War: Ukraine and beyond is writing and publishing extensively about the ‘blame Russia’ group think in government and mainstream media in Canada and other NATO countries over the war in Ukraine. With few exceptions, mainstream media in the NATO countries is acting as an echo chamber of government policy. The ‘blame Russia’ narrative says that the governing coalition in Ukraine of billionaire neo-conservatives and right-wing extremists are brave defenders of Ukraine worthy of support against ‘Russian aggression’, end of discussion.

It gets worse in Canada. Two of the country’s leading newspapers—the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail—have been publishing articles promoting the fundraising efforts in Canada of Ukraine’s extreme-right paramilitaries for the purchase of weapons and other military equipment.

The Liberal Party, supposedly a party of the mainstream center, is proving every bit as hawkish and warlike as the Conservatives. A key voice of the party on Ukraine and Russia is Chrystia Freeland. She is an author, former editor of the Globe and Mail, and the star candidate of the Liberals who won the hotly contested by-election race in 2013 for the Parliamentary seat of Toronto Centre , narrowly defeating the candidate of the NDP, Linda McQuaig, a left-wing journalist.

One of Freeland’s parents was Ukrainian and she is fluent in the language.

Freeland spoke bluntly to a gathering of Ukrainian Canadian women on March 8 at an event in Toronto marking International Womens Day. A brief portion of her remarks (in English) was broadcast in a Ukrainian language news program here (at the 7′ mark).

She told the gathering, “This conflict with Russia is not going to end in one day. Our community, our country, the entire Western world needs to really be prepared for a new environment. This is not something that can end quickly, and we need to adjust the way we think. We need to understand this is a very profound ideological battle going on.

She went on, “It’s actually a conflict even bigger than Ukraine. This is about the rule of law and democracy in Europe and the Western world. That’s why it is being fought so fiercely.”

She gave an interview to a Ukrainian-Canadian publication at the same event in which she said, “Having said that [the West has been valiantly aiding Ukraine], I think we need to be prepared that right now this Minsk-2 [ceasefire] moment is a pause, not the end. And we need to be prepared for this conflict to be a very, very long conflict.”

Yvan Baker, the Liberal member for Etobicoke Center (Toronto) in the Ontario Legislature (an electoral district with a large number of Ukrainian-Canadians), is another of the Liberal hawks on Ukraine. He gave a statement to the Legislature on March 11 in which he said, “Today, Ukraine is at war and the situation is dire. Russian-backed forces have occupied part of Eastern Ukraine and continue to advance. The soldiers I met [while visiting Ukraine in November 2014] are fighting against state-of-the-art equipment with outdated weapons, some from World War II.”

“The invasion is a global threat. It is a violation of international law and order established at such great cost during WWII.”

“Efforts at peace have failed. For months, Ukraine’s president has been asking for defensive [sic] weapons so that his nation stands a chance against the larger and more advanced Russian military. Others such as [U.S. Senator] John McCain and John Boehner [Republican Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives] have echoed his call and the U.S. Congress has passed authorization for the U.S. to arm Ukraine.

“I urge our federal government to act on the Ukrainian Canadian Congress’s Feb. 21st statement which calls for Canada to, and I quote: ‘dramatically increase sectoral sanctions’, ‘increase the provision of communications and intelligence capabilities’ and ‘provide Ukraine with the defensive weapons, equipment and training it needs to defend its territorial integrity’.”

Liberal Party Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne joined the pro-war chorus last August when she appeared at a Ukraine Independence Day event in Toronto. It was organized by the extremist Ukrainian Canadian Congress and it featured a fundraising booth of the fascist Right Sector party of Ukraine. Funds were directed to the purchase of military equipment.

Wynne’s speech was a vigorous call to continue Kyiv’s war in eastern Ukraine. At the time, the war was at one of its bloodiest stages. Rockets and mortars were raining down relentlessly on civilian targets, including school and hospitals, while residents, including children, were living months on end in makeshift bomb shelters.

Wynne told the gathering that Ukraine armed forces “are defending the very independence that we are here to commemorate”. She declined to speak to journalists afterward.

It is unusual, to say the least, for a provincial premier in Canada to pronounce vigorously on a foreign policy issue, particularly so when it concerns a brutal war against a civilian population. But such is the group-think support for Kyiv’s war that Wynne’s call to arms raised little attention or controversy.

A Liberal member of Parliament in Montreal, Irwin Cotler, succeeded on March 25 in gaining unanimous support for a motion in Parliament to extend sanctions against Russian officials deemed to be involved in the death in prison custody of a Russia lawyer more than five years ago.

The official opposition party, the NDP, has not been as vigorously outspoken as the Liberals (excepting an appearance by MP Peggy Nash at an event in Toronto last November where she shared a stage with a Right Sector guest speaker). But it supports the government/NATO drive.

The one Green Party member in Parliament has been in lock-step on Ukraine, notwithstanding her divergence from the government on the bombings in Iraq and on civil liberties issues. Elizabeth May put an innocuous question to the government in the House of Commons on March 25 in which she assured, “We all join the Prime Minister in condemning Putin’s aggression [sic]…”

Police-state laws

Ironically, the opposition parties in Ottawa are voicing discomfort and even some opposition to a new set of police-state laws in Canada which resemble an awful lot those which have come into force in Ukraine during the past year. Bill C-51 contains several new “national security” provisions which will make it easier for Canada’s political police and other police agencies to spy on, disrupt and pre-emptively arrest people deemed to be a threat to vaguely denied “national interests” and “national security” in Canada. The bill has been condemned by human rights lawyers and advocates, environmentalists and trade union leaders, among many others, who say its provisions are aimed squarely at critics of government and industry such as them. (See a full explanation of Bill C-51 here.)

Indeed, the political policing to which Bill C-51 gives further legitimacy has been on full display in the streets of Montreal and Quebec City in the past ten days as tens of thousands of post-secondary students have gone on strike in Quebec against hikes to tuition fees and other antisocial, austerity policies. Last week, police in Montreal and Quebec City assaulted several large student demonstrations and arrested hundreds. In Quebec City on March 24, 274 protesters were arrested and detained by police during an evening protest and street march. Two days later during another evening march, some students were shot point-blank in the face by Quebec City police with tear gas canisters.

The police actions in Quebec should concern every Canadian and they raise the obvious spectre of the cruel, war policies in Ukraine coming home to roost in Canada. And in an eerie replication of the pattern of mainstream news reporting of Ukraine, the news of police actions in Quebec has largely gone unreported elsewhere in the country.

Illegal war in the Middle East

Another taste of the new, Ukraine-inspired law and order in Canada is the federal government’s decision to extend to Syria the aerial bombing campaign it has been conducting in Iraq alongside its U.S. big brother. The bombings are purportedly targeting “terrorists”. On what legal basis is Canada going to war in Syrian territory? Roughly the same as in Iraq, namely, ‘the U.S. is doing it, so we should join them’.

Harper told Parliament that Canada is “pursuing this action on exactly the same legal basis as its allies”. But he did not answer what, exactly, is that basis.

Foreign affairs minister Rob Nicholson told the chamber, “The Americans have operated in there [Syria] for six months without resistance from the Syrian government.”

Minister of Defense Jason Kenny says Canada is acting at the behest of the discredited and U.S. puppet government in Iraq. He said, Iraq has asked Canada and allied countries to help them defend their innocent civilians from terror attacks being launched out of eastern Syria in a part of that country the Syrian government either is unwilling or unable to control.”

When pressed by opposition parties and journalists, the Conservatives agreed to send a letter to the United Nations to inform it of its plans.

The Liberals and the NDP agreed to the bombings in Iraq when they were launched six months ago but are uneasy over extending this to Syria. Both voted against the Syria adventure, though a section of the Liberals disagrees with party leader Justin Trudeau.

There is an atmosphere of intellectual intimidation prevailing in Canada whereby criticism of the war and of NATO is said to amount to uncritical support of the Russian government (or what they call “Putin’s regime”). As a consequence, some alternative media is silent. Academia and antiwar groups are largely quiescent. In 2003, the advocates of war against Iraq did not get very far with accusations against antiwar forces of “appeasing” Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein. Today, a parallel argument against Russia has been effective in quieting voices that would otherwise be expected to be critical.

The NATO confrontation with Russia is a reckless and dangerous course that is corroding politics in Canada. It threatens the capacity to forge a progressive alternative to the governing warmakers if it is not challenged. That’s why it is important to speak and act against the war in Ukraine and its wider implications.

Roger Annis is an editor of the website The New Cold War: Ukraine and beyond.

 

John Bolton’s call for war on Iran

By Bill Van Auken
March 27, 2015
World Socialist Web Site

 

The New York Times Thursday published a prominent opinion piece entitled “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.”

The author was John R. Bolton, a former State Department official and, for a brief period, US ambassador to the United Nations, under the administration of George W. Bush. He became an influential figure in the administration after serving as a lawyer in the Bush campaign’s successful operation to steal the 2000 election by stopping the vote count in Florida.

Bolton, it must be said, has been calling for an immediate military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities—by either Israel or the US, or both—for at least the last seven years. On each occasion, he has warned darkly that unless his prescription for intensive bombing followed by “regime change” was adopted within days, the world would face the threat of an Iranian nuclear attack.

Thursday’s column was no different. “President Obama’s approach on Iran has brought a bad situation to the brink of catastrophe,” Bolton writes. He is referring to the attempt by Washington, together with the other member nations of the UN Security Council plus Germany, to negotiate restrictions on a nuclear program that Iran insists is strictly for civilian purposes in return for easing punishing economic sanctions.

“Even absent palpable proof, like a nuclear test, Iran’s steady progress toward nuclear weapons has long been evident,” according to Bolton. Despite the lack of “palpable proof,” Bolton insists that Iran’s unwillingness to “negotiate away its nuclear program” and the inability of sanctions to “block its building of a broad and deep weapons infrastructure” constitute an “inescapable conclusion.”

He continues: “The inconvenient truth is that only military action like Israel’s 1981 attack on Saddam Hussein’s Osirak reactor in Iraq or its 2007 destruction of a Syrian reactor, designed and built by North Korea, can accomplish what is required. Time is terribly short, but a strike can still succeed.”

Bolton, who has made an entire career of suppressing “inconvenient truths,” allows that he would prefer an all-out US bombing campaign, but would accept a US-backed attack by Israel.

“The United States could do a thorough job of destruction, but Israel alone can do what’s necessary,” he writes. He adds that this military onslaught must be combined with US efforts “aimed at regime change in Tehran.”

What is involved here is an open appeal for the launching of a war of criminal aggression and incitement of mass murder. The unbridled militarism expressed in Bolton’s column would not be out of place in the writings of Hitler’s foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, the first to hang at Nuremberg after his conviction on charges of crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity for his role in organizing the Nazi regime’s wars of aggression.

The question arises, why has he been given a forum in the editorial pages of the New York Times, the supposed newspaper of record and erstwhile voice of American liberalism?

The obvious answer is that any differences the Times editorial board—or for that matter the Obama administration—have with Bolton over Iran are of an entirely tactical character. All of them stand by the principle that US imperialism has the unique right to carry out unprovoked “preemptive” war anywhere on the planet where it perceives a potential challenge to its interests.

Not so long ago, Bolton, who personifies this arrogant and criminal policy, and the Times were on the same page politically and on essentially the very same lines he presents in his latest column on Iran.

In 2002, Bolton was Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security and a point man in the Bush administration’s campaign to prepare a war of aggression against Iraq based upon the lies that Saddam Hussein was developing “weapons of mass destruction” and preparing to hand them over to Al Qaeda.

Bolton, described by one of his former colleagues at the State Department as “the quintessential kiss up, kick down kind of guy,” had been an advocate of aggression against Iraq at least since 1998, when he joined other right-wingers in signing an “Open letter to the president” demanding such a war.

In the run-up to war, he played a central role in manufacturing phony evidence of the existence of Iraqi WMD. This included the promotion of the crude forgeries indicating that Iraq was seeking to procure yellowcake (concentrated uranium) from Niger.

During this same period, the Times provided invaluable assistance to this propaganda campaign. Its senior correspondent Judith Miller was working in alliance with administration officials and right-wing think tanks to confirm and embellish upon the lies about WMD. Thomas Friedman, the paper’s chief foreign affairs columnist, was churning out column after column justifying what he readily acknowledged was a “war of choice” against Iraq, justifying it in the name of democracy, human rights and oil.

As the reputed newspaper “of record,” the Times set the tone for the rest of the corporate media, which together worked to overcome popular opposition to a war in the Middle East.

The results are well known. The war claimed the lives of over a million Iraqis, devastated an entire society and threw the whole region into chaos. In the process, some 4,500 US troops lost their lives, tens of thousands more were maimed and wounded and some $2 trillion was expended. A dozen years later, the Obama administration has launched a new war in Iraq, supposedly to halt the advance of ISIS, a force that it effectively backed in the war for regime change in Syria.

No one has ever been held accountable for these war crimes; not Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Bolton and others who conspired to drag the American people into a war of aggression based upon lies. And not the editors of the Times who produced the propaganda that facilitated their conspiracy.

On the other hand, those who oppose war—from Private Chelsea Manning, who exposed war crimes in Iraq, to Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who was sickened by the atrocities carried out against the people of Afghanistan—are submitted to a media lynching and then given the full measure of “military justice.”

In publishing Bolton’s column, the Times is making sure that it burns no bridges to the most right-wing and sociopathic layers of the American ruling establishment. While it may differ with them now over an imminent bombing of Iran, future US wars—including against Russia or China, where the propaganda mills of the Times are grinding once again—will undoubtedly bring them back into sync.