Tag Archives: United States

Global Research TV: How the Syrian Chemical Weapons Videos Were Staged

 

In the wake of the Syrian chemical weapons attack, shocking footage of the victims of that attack were widely circulated in an effort to raise the ire of the public and spur support for military intervention.

Now, a new report on that footage finds troubling inconsistencies and manipulation with the video that calls the official narrative of the attack and its victims into question.

 

 

You can download the complete ISTEAMS report here.

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The Ambassadors Of Terror: The Deadly Hypocrisy Of Western “Diplomacy”

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As the puppet leaders of the US, Britain and France exploit every opportunity to spin the UN chemical weapons inspectors’ report into a web of undeniable proof that Bashar Al Assad holds the smoking gun that gassed his own people perhaps we should step back and take a long look at the recent history of Western behind-the-scenes involvement in bringing down inconvenient governments.

Before-serving-your-country-first-learn-who-your-government-is-serving The following article by Professor Michel Chossudovsky goes a long way in explaining the current situation in Syria and provides us with more than enough reasons to have grave doubts about what our vainglorious leaders are insisting is the truth about the infamous gassing of civilians in Damascus on 21st August and why we should believe their fervent claims to care about the welfare of Syrian refugees.

call_of_america__iraqi_death_squad_ii_by_lackingincharm-d673xyk   Sansalvador-1981

 

Terrorism with a “Human Face”: The History of America’s Death Squads: Death Squads in Iraq and Syria. The Historical Roots of US-NATO’s Covert War on Syria.

The recruitment of death squads is part of a well established US military-intelligence agenda. There is a long and gruesome US history of covert funding and support of  terror brigades and targeted assassinations going back to the Vietnam war.

As Syria’s government forces continue to confront the self-proclaimed “Free Syrian Army” (FSA),  the historical roots of  the West’s covert war on Syria –which has resulted in countless atrocities– must be fully revealed.

From the outset in March 2011, the US and its allies have supported the formation of death squads and the incursion of  terrorist brigades in a carefully planned undertaking.

The recruitment and training of terror brigades in both Iraq and Syria was modeled on the “Salvador Option”,  a “terrorist model” of mass killings by US sponsored death squads in Central America. It was first applied in  El Salvador, in the heyday of resistance against the military dictatorship, resulting in an estimated 75,000 deaths.

The formation of death squads in Syria builds upon the history and experience of US  sponsored terror brigades in Iraq, under the Pentagon’s “counterinsurgency” program.

death squad met wit  NEGROPONTE

The Establishment of Death Squads in Iraq

US sponsored death squads were recruited in Iraq starting in 2004-2005 in an initiative launched under the helm of the US Ambassador John Negroponte, [image: right] who was dispatched to Baghdad by the US State Department in June 2004.

Negroponte was the “man for the job”. As US Ambassador to Honduras from 1981 to 1985. Negroponte played a key role in supporting and supervising the Nicaraguan Contras based in Honduras as well as overseeing the activities of the Honduran military death squads.

“Under the rule of General Gustavo Alvarez Martinez, Honduras’s military government was both a close ally of the Reagan administration and was “disappearing” dozens of political opponents in classic death squad fashion.”

In January 2005, the Pentagon, confirmed that it was considering:

” forming hit squads of Kurdish and Shia fighters to target leaders of the Iraqi insurgency [Resistance] in a strategic shift borrowed from the American struggle against left-wing guerrillas in Central America 20 years ago”.

Under the so-called “El Salvador option”, Iraqi and American forces would be sent to kill or kidnap insurgency leaders, even in Syria, where some are thought to shelter. …

Hit squads would be controversial and would probably be kept secret.

The experience of the so-called “death squads” in Central America remains raw for many even now and helped to sully the image of the United States in the region.

Then, the Reagan Administration funded and trained teams of nationalist forces to neutralise Salvadorean rebel leaders and sympathisers. …

John Negroponte, the US Ambassador in Baghdad, had a front-row seat at the time as Ambassador to Honduras from 1981-85.

Death squads were a brutal feature of Latin American politics of the time. …

salvadordeathsquad      In the early 1980s President Reagan’s Administration funded and helped to train Nicaraguan contras based in Honduras with the aim of ousting Nicaragua’s Sandinista regime. The Contras were equipped using money from illegal American arms sales to Iran, a scandal that could have toppled Mr Reagan.

The thrust of the Pentagon proposal in Iraq, … is to follow that model …

It is unclear whether the main aim of the missions would be to assassinate the rebels or kidnap them and take them away for interrogation. Any mission in Syria would probably be undertaken by US Special Forces.

Nor is it clear who would take responsibility for such a programme — the Pentagon or the Central Intelligence Agency. Such covert operations have traditionally been run by the CIA at arm’s length from the administration in power, giving US officials the ability to deny knowledge of it.  (El Salvador-style ‘death squads’ to be deployed by US against Iraq militants – Times Online, January 10, 2005, emphasis added)

While the stated objective of the “Iraq Salvador Option” was to “take out the insurgency”, in practice the US sponsored terror brigades were involved in routine killings of civilians with a view to fomenting sectarian violence. In turn, the CIA and MI6 were overseeing “Al Qaeda in Iraq”  units involved in targeted assassinations directed against the Shiite population. Of significance, the death squads were integrated and advised by undercover US Special Forces.

fordrobert3           Robert Stephen Ford –subsequently appointed US Ambassador to Syria– was part of Negroponte’s team in Baghdad in 2004-2005. In January 2004, he was dispatched as U.S. representative to the Shiite city of Najaf which was the stronghold of the Mahdi army, with which he made preliminary contacts.

In January 2005, Robert S. Ford’s was appointed Minister Counselor for Political Affairs at the US Embassy under the helm of Ambassador John Negroponte. He was not only part of the inner team, he was Negroponte’s partner in setting up the Salvador Option.  Some of the groundwork had been established in Najaf prior to Ford’s transfer to Baghdad.

John Negroponte and Robert Stephen Ford were put in charge of recruiting the Iraqi death squads. While Negroponte  coordinated the operation from his office at the US Embassy, Robert S. Ford, who was fluent in both Arabic and Turkish, was entrusted with the task of establishing strategic contacts with Shiite and Kurdish militia groups outside the “Green Zone”.

Two other embassy officials, namely Henry Ensher (Ford’s Deputy) and a younger official in the political section, Jeffrey Beals, played an important role in the team “talking to a range of Iraqis, including extremists”. (See The New Yorker, March 26, 2007).  Another key individual in Negroponte’s team was James Franklin Jeffrey, America’s ambassador to Albania (2002-2004). In 2010, Jeffrey was appointed US Ambassador to Iraq (2010-2012).

Negroponte also brought into the team one of his former collaborators Colonel James Steele (ret) from his Honduras heyday:

Under the “Salvador Option,” “Negroponte had assistance from his colleague from his days in Central America during the 1980′s, Ret. Col James Steele. Steele, whose title in Baghdad was Counselor for Iraqi Security Forces supervised the selection and training of members of the Badr Organization and Mehdi Army, the two largest Shi’ite militias in Iraq, in order to target the leadership and support networks of a primarily Sunni resistance. Planned or not, these death squads promptly spiralled out of control to become the leading cause of death in Iraq.

jd061128       Intentional or not, the scores of tortured, mutilated bodies which turn up on the streets of Baghdad each day are generated by the death squads whose impetus was John Negroponte. And it is this U.S.-backed sectarian violence which largely led to the hell-disaster that Iraq is today. (Dahr Jamail, Managing Escalation: Negroponte and Bush’s New Iraq Team,. Antiwar.com, January 7, 2007)

“Colonel Steele was responsible, according to Rep. Dennis Kucinich for implementing  “a plan in El Salvador under which tens of thousands Salvadorans “disappeared” or were murdered, including Archbishop Oscar Romero and four American nuns.”

steele  Upon his appointment to Baghdad, Colonel Steele was assigned to a counter-insurgency unit known as the “Special Police Commando” under the Iraqi Interior Ministry” (See ACN, Havana,  June 14, 2006)

Reports confirm that “the US military turned over many prisoners to the Wolf Brigade, the feared 2nd battalion of the interior ministry’s special commandos” which so happened to be under supervision of  Colonel Steele:

“US soldiers, US advisers, were standing aside and doing nothing,” while members of the Wolf Brigade beat and tortured prisoners. The interior ministry commandos took over the public library in Samarra, and turned it into a detention centre, he said.  An interview conducted by Maass [of the New York Times] in 2005 at the improvised prison, accompanied by the Wolf Brigade’s US military adviser, Col James Steele, had been interrupted by the terrified screams of a prisoner outside, he said. Steele was reportedly previously employed as an adviser to help crush an insurgency in El Salvador.” (Ibid, emphasis added)

Another notorious figure who played a role in Iraq’s counter-insurgency program was Former New York Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik  [image: Bernie Kerik  in Baghdad Police Academy with body guards] who in 2007 was indicted in federal court on 16 felony charges.

kerik3                                                                                        Kerik had been appointed by the Bush administration at the outset of the occupation in 2003 to assist in the organization and training  of the Iraqi Police force. During his short stint in 2003, Bernie Kerik –who took on the position of interim Minister of the Interior– worked towards organizing terror units within the Iraqi Police force: “Dispatched to Iraq to whip Iraqi security forces into shape, Kerik dubbed himself the “interim interior minister of Iraq.” British police advisors called him the “Baghdad terminator,” (Salon, December 9, 2004, emphasis added)

Under Negroponte’s helm at the US Embassy in Baghdad, a  wave of covert civilian killings and targeted assassinations had been unleashed. Engineers, medical  doctors, scientists and intellectuals were also targeted.

Author and geopolitical analyst Max Fuller has documented in detail the atrocities committed under the US sponsored counterinsurgency program.

The appearance of death squads was first highlighted in May this year [2005], …dozens of bodies were found casually disposed … in vacant areas around Baghdad. All of the victims had been handcuffed, blindfolded and shot in the head and many of them also showed signs of having been brutally tortured.  …

The evidence was sufficiently compelling for the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS), a leading Sunni organisation, to issue public statements in which they accused the security forces attached to the Ministry of the Interior as well as the Badr Brigade, the former armed wing of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), of being behind the killings. They also accused the Ministry of the Interior of conducting state terrorism (Financial Times).

The Police Commandos as well as the Wolf  Brigade were overseen by the US counterinsurgency program in the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior:

The Police Commandos were formed under the experienced tutelage and oversight of veteran US counterinsurgency fighters, and from the outset conducted joint-force operations with elite and highly secretive US special-forces units (Reuters, National Review Online).

…A key figure in the development of the Special Police Commandos was James Steele, a former US Army special forces operative who cut his teeth in Vietnam before moving on to direct the US military mission in El Salvador at the height of that country’s civil war. …

Another US contributor was the same Steven Casteel who as the most senior US advisor within the Interior Ministry brushed off serious and well-substantiated accusations of appalling human right violations as ‘rumor and innuendo’. Like Steele, Casteel gained considerable experience in Latin America, in his case participating in the hunt for the cocaine baron Pablo Escobar in Colombia’s Drugs Wars of the 1990s …

Casteel’s background is significant because this kind of intelligence-gathering support role and the production of death lists are characteristic of US involvement in counterinsurgency programs and constitute the underlying thread in what can appear to be random, disjointed killing sprees.

Such centrally planned genocides are entirely consistent with what is taking place in Iraq today [2005] …It is also consistent with what little we know about the Special Police Commandos, which was tailored to provide the Interior Ministry with a special-forces strike capability (US Department of Defense). In keeping with such a role, the Police Commando headquarters has become the hub of a nationwide command, control, communications, computer and intelligence operations centre, courtesy of the US. (Max Fuller, op cit)

This initial groundwork established under Negroponte in 2005 was implemented under his successor Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.  Robert Stephen Ford ensured the continuity of the project prior to his appointment as US Ambassador to Algeria in 2006,  as well as upon his return to Baghdad as Deputy Chief of Mission in 2008.

Operation “Syrian Contras”: Learning from the Iraqi Experience

The gruesome Iraqi version of the “Salvador Option” under the helm of Ambassador John Negroponte has served as a “role model” for setting up the “Free Syrian Army” Contras. Robert Stephen Ford was, no doubt, involved in the implementation of the Syrian Contras project, following his reassignment to Baghdad as Deputy Head of Mission in 2008.

The objective in Syria was to create factional divisions between Sunni, Alawite, Shiite, Kurds, Druze and Christians. While the Syrian context is entirely different to that of Iraq, there are striking similarities with regard to the procedures whereby the killings and atrocities were conducted.

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A report published by Der Spiegel pertaining to atrocities committed in the Syrian city of Homs confirms an organized sectarian process of mass-murder and extra-judicial killings comparable to that conducted by the US sponsored death squads in Iraq.

People in Homs were routinely categorized as   “prisoners” (Shia, Alawite) and “traitors”.  The “traitors” are Sunni civilians within the rebel occupied urban area, who express their disagreement or opposition to the rule of terror of the Free Syrian Army (FSA):

“Since last summer [2011], we have executed slightly fewer than 150 men, which represents about 20 percent of our prisoners,” says Abu Rami. … But the executioners of Homs have been busier with traitors within their own ranks than with prisoners of war. “If we catch a Sunni spying, or if a citizen betrays the revolution, we make it quick,” says the fighter. According to Abu Rami, Hussein’s burial brigade has put between 200 and 250 traitors to death since the beginning of the uprising.” (Der Spiegel, March 30, 2012)

The project required an initial program of recruitment and training of mercenaries. Death squads including Lebanese and Jordanian Salafist units entered Syria’s southern border with Jordan in mid-March 2011.  Much of the groundwork was already in place prior to Robert Stephen Ford’s arrival in Damascus in January 2011.

Ford’s appointment as Ambassador to Syria was announced in early 2010. Diplomatic relations had been cut in 2005 following the Rafick Hariri assassination, which Washington blamed on Syria. Ford arrived in Damascus barely two months before the onset of the insurgency.

syriafree-army1-e1357355444924                                    The Free Syrian Army (FSA)

Washington and its allies replicated in Syria the essential features of the “Iraq Salvador Option”, leading to the creation of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and its various terrorist factions including the Al Qaeda affiliated Al Nusra brigades.

While the creation of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) was announced in June 2011, the recruitment and training of foreign mercenaries was initiated at a much an earlier period.

In many regards, the Free Syrian Army is a smokescreen. It is upheld by the Western media as a bona fide military entity established as a result of mass defections from government forces.  The number of defectors, however, was neither significant nor sufficient to establish a coherent military structure  with command and control functions.

The FSA  is not a professional  military entity, rather it is a loose network of separate terrorist brigades, which in turn are made up of numerous paramilitary cells operating in different parts of the country.

Each of these terrorist organizations operates independently. The FSA does not effectively exercise command and control functions including liaison with these diverse paramilitary entities. The latter are controlled by US-NATO sponsored special forces and intelligence operatives which are embedded within the ranks of selected terrorist formations.

These (highly trained) Special forces on the ground (many of whom are employees of private security companies) are routinely in contact with US-NATO and allied military/intelligence command units (including Turkey). These embedded Special Forces are, no doubt, also involved in the carefully planned bomb attacks directed against government buildings, military compounds, etc.

The death squads are mercenaries trained and recruited by the US, NATO, its Persian Gulf GCC allies as well as Turkey.  They are overseen by allied special forces (including British SAS and French Parachutistes), and private security companies on contract to NATO and the Pentagon. In this regard, reports confirm the arrest by the Syrian government of some 200-300 private security company employees who had integrated rebel ranks.

nusra                              The Jabhat Al Nusra Front

 

The Al Nusra Front –which is said to be affiliated to Al Qaeda– is described as the most effective “opposition” rebel fighting group, responsible for several of the high profile bomb attacks. Portrayed as an enemy of America (on the State Department list of terrorist organizations), Al Nusra operations, nonetheless, bear the fingerprints of US paramilitary training, terror tactics and weapons systems. The atrocities committed against civilians by Al Nusra (funded covertly by US-NATO) are similar to those undertaken by the US sponsored death squads in Iraq.

In the words of Al Nusra leader Abu Adnan in Aleppo: “Jabhat al-Nusra does count Syrian veterans of the Iraq war among its numbers, men who bring expertise — especially the manufacture of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) — to the front in Syria.”

As in Iraq, factional violence and ethnic cleansing were actively promoted. In Syria, the Alawite, Shiite and Christian communities have been the target of the US-NATO sponsored death squads.  The Alawite and the Christian community are the main targets of the assassination program. Confirmed by the Vatican News Service:

Christians in Aleppo are victims of death and destruction due to the fighting which for months, has been affecting the city. The Christian neighborhoods, in recent times, have been hit by rebel forces fighting against the regular army and this has caused an exodus of civilians.

Some groups in the rugged opposition, where there are also jiahadist groups, “fire on Christian houses and buildings, to force occupants to escape and then take possession [ethnic cleansing] (Agenzia Fides. Vatican News, October 19, 2012)

“The Sunni Salafist militants – says the Bishop – continue to commit crimes against civilians, or to recruit fighters with force. The fanatical Sunni extremists are fighting a holy war proudly, especially against the Alawites. When terrorists seek to control the religious identity of a suspect, they ask him to cite the genealogies dating back to Moses. And they ask to recite a prayer that the Alawites removed. The Alawites have no chance to get out alive.”  (Agenzia Fides 04/06/2012)

Reports confirm the influx of Salafist and Al Qaeda affiliated death squads as well as brigades under the auspices of the Muslim Brotherhood into Syria from the inception of the insurgency in March 2011.

Moreover, reminiscent of  the enlistment of  the Mujahideen to wage the CIA’s jihad (holy war) in the heyday of the Soviet-Afghan war, NATO and the Turkish High command, according to Israeli intelligence sources, had initiated”

“a campaign to enlist thousands of Muslim volunteers in Middle East countries and the Muslim world to fight alongside the Syrian rebels. The Turkish army would house these volunteers, train them and secure their passage into Syria. (DEBKAfile, NATO to give rebels anti-tank weapons, August 14, 2011).

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Private Security Companies and the Recruitment of Mercenaries

According to reports, private security companies operating out of Gulf States are involved in the recruiting and training of mercenaries.

Although not specifically earmarked for the recruitment of mercenaries directed against Syria, reports point to the creation of  training camps in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

In Zayed Military City (UAE), “a secret army is in the making”  operated by Xe Services, formerly Blackwater.  The UAE deal to establish a military camp for the training of mercenaries was signed in July 2010, nine months before the onslaught of the wars in Libya and Syria.

In recent developments, security companies on contract to NATO and the Pentagon are involved in training “opposition” death squads in the use of chemical weapons:

“The United States and some European allies are using defense contractors to train Syrian rebels on how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, a senior U.S. official and several senior diplomats told CNN Sunday. ( CNN Report, December 9, 2012)

The names of the companies involved were not revealed.

Behind Closed Doors at the US State Department

Robert Stephen Ford was part of a small team at the US State Department team which oversaw the recruitment and training of  terrorist brigades,  together with Derek Chollet  and Frederic C. Hof, a former business partner of Richard Armitage, who served as Washington’s “special coordinator on Syria”. Derek Chollet has recently been appointed to the position of Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (ISA).

This team operated under the helm of  (former) Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman.

Feltman’s team was in close liaison with the process of recruitment and training of mercenaries out of Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Libya (courtesy of the post-Gaddafi regime, which dispatched six hundred Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) troops to Syria, via Turkey in the months following the September 2011 collapse of the Gaddafi government).

Assistant Secretary of State Feltman was in contact with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, and Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim. He was also in charge of a  Doha-based office for “special security coordination” pertaining to  Syria, which included representatives from Western and GCC intelligence agencies well as a representative from Libya. Prince Bandar bin Sultan. a prominent and controversial member of Saudi intelligence was part of this group. (See Press Tv, May 12, 2012).

In June 2012, Jeffrey Feltman (image: Left) was appointed UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, a strategic position  which, in practice, consists in setting  the UN agenda (on behalf of Washington) on issues pertaining to “Conflict Resolution” in various “political hot spots” around the world (including Somalia, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Mali). In a bitter irony, the countries for UN “conflict resolution” are those which are the target of  US covert operations.

In liaison with the US State Department, NATO and his GCC handlers in Doha and Riyadh, Feltman is Washington’s man behind UN special envoy Lakhdar Brahmi’s “Peace Proposal”.

Iraq_war_cost_to_US_taxpayers

Meanwhile, while paying lip service to the UN Peace initiative, the US and NATO have speeded up the process of recruitment and training of  mercenaries in response to the heavy casualties incurred by “opposition” rebel forces.

The US proposed “end game” in Syria is not regime change, but the destruction of Syria as a Nation State.

The deployment of “opposition” death squads with a mandate to kill civilians is part of this criminal undertaking.

“Terrorism with a Human Face” is upheld by the United Nations Human Rights Council, which constitutes a mouthpiece for NATO “Humanitarian Interventions” under the doctrine of “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P).

The atrocities committed by the US-NATO death squads are casually blamed on the government of Bashar Al Assad. According to UN Human Rights Council High Commissioner Navi Pillay:

“This massive loss of life could have been avoided if the Syrian Government had chosen to take a different path than one of ruthless suppression of what were initially peaceful and legitimate protests by unarmed civilians,” (quoted in Stephen Lendman, UN Human Rights Report on Syria: Camouflage of US-NATO Sponsored Massacres, Global Research, January 3, 2012)

Washington’s “unspeakable objective” consists in breaking up Syria as a sovereign nation –along ethnic and religious lines– into several separate and “independent” political entities.

 

 

Alternative Media News Making It Hard For Western Leaders To Fool The Public Over Need For Military Intervention In Syria

fbz_023078ac9cb3c1f1e7441c6d96248243  Zbigniew Brzezinski, one time National Security advisor to US President Jimmy Carter and the man behind the US financing of the mujahideen in Afghanistan and arming them against the Soviet invasion back in 1979, has recently gone on record as saying that growing political awareness among the public is making it hard for the powers that be to realise their plan for a military strike in Syria. This statement by the man who now acts as Obama’s foreign advisor sounds very much like an admission that our glorious leaders have been in the habit of peddling us lies and propaganda in order to get their way…surely not?!!

zbigniew-brzezinski-with-Osama-bin-Laden  The following story can be found on the StoryLeaks website

BRZEZINSKI: ‘GLOBAL POLITICAL AWAKENING’ MAKING SYRIAN WAR DIFFICULT

by Mikael Thalen

August 29th, 2013

Updated 08/29/2013 at 2:47 pm

During a short interview with Germany’s DW News last Monday, former US National Security Adviser and Trilateral Commission co-founder Zbigniew Brzezinski commented on the growing inefficiency of war due to the increased political knowledge of the public.

“Given the contemporary reality of what I have called in my writings ‘Global Political Awakening,’ a policy of force based primarily on Western and in some cases former colonial powers does not seem to me a very promising avenue to an eventual solution to the regional problem,” said Brzezinski, referring to the situation in Syria.

Despite Brzezinski’s noted long-term relationship with Obama which included a top foreign policy adviser position, Brzezinski denied any specific knowledge of his plans regarding Syria, saying that if the administration has a strategy, it’s a “very well-kept secret.”

Obama’s Middle Eastern strategy has been a mere continuation of the policies seen under Bush, exemplified by former four star general and NATO commander Wesley Clark’s admission of the Bush-era Pentagon plan to overthrow several countries including Libya and Syria.

Although Brzezinski at times attempts to appear opposed to military interventionism, President Obama’s actions in Syria, which include the support of admitted Al Qaeda fighters, closely mirrors several of Brzezinski’s previous policies, most notably the opposition to the Soviet Union in 1979, where decisions made by Brzezinski led to the creation of Al Qaeda through the CIA funding of the Afghan Mujaheddin.

Brzezinski’s call of warning to the “global political awakening” has only intensified in recent years. Last year during a speech in Poland, Brzezinski noted that it has become “increasingly difficult to suppress” and control the “persistent and highly motivated populist resistance of politically awakened and historically resentful peoples.” Brzezinski also blamed the accessibility of “radio, television and the Internet” for the “universal awakening of mass political consciousness.”

“[The] major world powers, new and old, also face a novel reality: while the lethality of their military might is greater than ever, their capacity to impose control over the politically awakened masses of the world is at a historic low. To put it bluntly: in earlier times, it was easier to control one million people than to physically kill one million people; today, it is infinitely easier to kill one million people than to control one million people,” said Brzezinski during a 2010 Council on Foreign Relations speech in Montreal.

Despite attempts by both the Republican and Democratic leadership to gain support for a war in Syria, a new Reuters poll revealed that only 9 percent of Americans support military intervention in Syria. If the United States intervenes, it will be the least popular war in American history.

The massive and growing evidence forced out by the alternative media, which points to a US backed chemical attack by Al Qaeda led rebel forces to be blamed on Assad, has only accelerated the inevitable downfall of the corporate press that is now only trusted by 23 percent of the public.

cartoon  The alternative media news website, Infowars, run by the now infamous and outspoken Alex Jones has been very influential when it comes to giving space for counter arguments against Obama’s now desperate attempts to convince the people of America and the wider world that a military strike against Syria is the right thing to do. The latest story to be aired by Infowars is pretty scary.

The History of The Red Line That America Was The Last Nation In The World To Sign Up To.

Dwight-D-Eisenhower-aircraft-carrier-300x199    As the world continues to hold its breath and Obama and his cohorts desperately bend ears about the crossing of red lines, the ordinary folk of Syria fortunate enough to still have them ,sleep uneasily in their beds waiting for the humanitarian missiles from the West.

So what is this ‘red line’ that Obama correctly pointed out was drawn, not by him, but by the world? When did that happen? And who exactly signed up to it? Given the fervour with which Obama has been pounding his pulpit you could be forgiven for thinking the US were one of the first countries to put their name to it. If so you would be wrong. The Geneva Protocol , to give the ‘red line’ its official title, came into being in 1925 but the US didn’t sign up to it until 50 years later in 1975 and then only with the reservation that the Protocol would cease to be binding upon them if “any enemy state does not observe the prohibitions of the protocol”. What this means, ironically, for the current situation is that now that Obama is claiming that Assad has failed to observe the prohibitions on chemical weapons – Syria having signed up to it in 1968 – the protocol is no longer binding on the US and thus they could ‘legitimately’ use them against him should they so choose.

136722_600     Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting here that the United States would resort to such a foolish and reckless act. I merely make the point to further illustrate the depth of hypocrisy which underlies Obama’s argument for military action against Syria and the US position generally on the use of chemical weapons.  And there is, of course, a further international agreement in force which militates against the use of chemical weapons, the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction  which the US signed in 1993. This agreement is administered by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is an independent organization based in the Hague, in the Netherlands. This convention augments the Geneva Protocol of 1925 and includes extensive verification measures such as the on-site inspections we’ve seen in Syria and previously in Iraq. There are currently 189 signatories to this agreement.

Back in 1969, before the US had signed up to the Geneva Protocol and in the midst of their involvement in the conflict in Vietnam, Russia accused them of war crimes because of their use of Agent Orange. The US strongly denied this claiming Agent Orange was a herbicide, not a chemical weapon and anyway they were not bound by the Geneva Protocol. Nonetheless, there were many in America who were very concerned about this and felt that the fact they were not a signatory to the protocol did not put them above the law. Professor George Bunn, writing in the Wisconsin Law Review, made the case for signing up to the Geneva Protocol and in so doing provided a  detailed history of the world’s ‘red line’ which has provided much of the factual content of this post.

no-war       The first treaty dealing specifically with poison gas was the 1899 Hague Gas Declaration which contained an agreement “to abstain from the use of projectiles the sole object of which is the diffusion of asphyxiating or deleterious gases.”  Twenty-seven states became parties to this declaration, including all participants in the Hague conference except the United States. The American representative, Navy Captain Alfred T. Mahan, refused to agree because gas projectiles were not yet in practical use or fully developed and because he thought gas warfare was just as humane as other forms of warfare. Unfortunately, the language of this declaration was so limited that it had little if any effect on gas warfare during the First World War. In the first major poison gas attack of that War, at Ypres in 1915, the chlorine gas used by the Germans came from large cylinders, and not the “projectiles” described in the declaration. The French used projectiles containing tear gas, which they said was not an “asphyxiating or deleterious” gas within the meaning of the declaration. Similarly, a projectile used by Germany did not have “as its sole object” the diffusion of poison gas because, the Germans argued, it was also used for shrapnel.  With these and other arguments, the existing limitations on poison gas were brushed aside in the First World War.

Then came the  1919 Versailles Treaty. This treaty contained the following provision:

“The use of asphyxiating, poisonous, or other gases and of analogous liquids, materials or devices being prohibited, their manufacture and importation are strictly forbidden in Germany.”

While the United States failed to give its consent to the ratification of the Versailles Treaty primarily because of its provisions establishing a League of Nations, the quoted language was incorporated by reference in the 1921 Treaty of Berlin between the United States and Germany. But the United States regarded it as only applicable to Germany.Then in 1922 came The Washington Treaty on Submarines and Noxious Gases. Drawing on the language of former peace treaties, the Washington Treaty stated:

“The use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, and all analogous liquids, materials or devices, having been justly condemned by the general opinion of the civilized world and a prohibition of such use having been declared in treaties to which a majority of the civilized Powers are parties, The Signatory Powers, to the end that this prohibition shall be universally accepted as a part of international law binding alike the conscience and practice of nations, declare their assent to such prohibition, and agree to be bound thereby between themselves and invite all other civilized nations to adhere thereto.’

Iraq-vs-Syria-WMD     This provision, being drawn up at a conference in Washington,  was based upon a United States proposal and was adopted at the urging of Secretary of State Hughes. Its been said that in order to help achieve later Senate consent, Senator Elihu Root was asked to represent the United States at this conference. In addition Secretary Hughes took pains to have an advisory committee of prominent citizens appointed by President Harding and attempted to mobilize popular opinion behind the treaty. As a result, the Senate gave its consent without a single dissenting vote. French ratification was necessary, however, and sadly  the treaty failed because of French objections to its provisions on submarines even though there was consensus on the issue of chemical weapons.

Three years later in 1925 The Geneva Protocol,  of which we now hear so much from Obama, was born. This protocol added to the poison gas prohibition of the Washington Treaty an additional ban on bacteriological warfare. The relevant wording reads :-

“Whereas the use of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, and of all analogous liquids, materials or devices, has been justly condemned by the general opinion of the civilized world; and

Whereas the prohibition of such use has been declared in Treaties to which the majority of Powers of the world are Parties; and

To the end that this prohibition shall be universally accepted as part of International Law, binding alike the conscience and the practice of nations:

Declare: That the High Contracting Parties, so far as they are not already Parties to Treaties prohibiting such use, accept this prohibition, agree to extend this prohibition to the use of bacteriological methods of warfare and agree to be bound as between themselves according to the terms of this declaration.”

download         So the Geneva Protocol was adopted at the insistence of the United States. However, probably because of the ease with which the Washington Treaty had sailed through the Senate, Secretary of State Kellogg did not make the effort to gain the same support for the Geneva Protocol that Secretary Hughes had made earlier for the Washington Treaty.  Although Congressman Burton was the head of the United States delegation, no Senator was included. No advisory committee was enlisted and as a result the Army’s Chemical Warfare Service was not prevented from mobilizing opposition to the protocol.

The Chemical Warfare Service duly enlisted  the help and support of the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Chemical Society, and the chemical industry itself. Senator Wadsworth, Chairman of the Military Affairs Committee, led the Senate opponents of the protocol and argued that it would be torn up in time of war, once more echoing the US view of chemical weapons that existed back at the 1899 Hague convention,  that poison gas was in any event more humane than many other weapons.

Senator Borah, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, finally withdrew the treaty from Senate consideration, presumably because he and the Senate majority leader had concluded that they did not have the votes.

The Geneva Protocol , therefore, came into force without the United States signing up to it, despite the fact it was their insistence on it that led to others doing so. An America emerges from this as a nation that sees itself to be above international law; a nation that now holds a huge arsenal of weapons of mass destruction yet doggedly persists in denying those weapons to other states; a nation with the military potential to commit massive crimes against humanity yet refuses to subject itself to the International Criminal Court. If such a nation were characteristically peaceful and non-interventionist this wouldn’t be such a problem, but the US is quite the opposite despite the sickly sweet moral rhetoric that drips from its jaws.

as                                                                              By the time the US was heavily involved in the Vietnam War the Geneva Protocol had over 60 adherents, every member of NATO except the United States, and all Warsaw Pact members, including the Soviet Union, were parties. Indeed, all European states except Albania joined the protocol. Of the major industrial countries, only Japan and the United States had failed to become parties by the end of the 1960s.

Many people have credited  the Geneva Protocol with a major role in preventing gas warfare in Europe during World War 11. It came to symbolise the abhorrence for gas which even military men felt after World War I and this abhorrence contributed to restraints imposed by both civilian and military leaders.

Retaliation was the primary sanction acting to deter the use of poison gas and germs and so the protocol established the norm of conduct. Unlike World War I, no gas warfare occurred among the industrial states of Europe during World War 11 on the battlefield at least. It could and has been argued that Hitler’s gassing of millions of Jews constitutes such conduct.

So at the time of the Vietnam War when they were using Agent Orange and napalm as weapons,  the United States was not a party to any treaty which expressly prohibited it from engaging  in gas or  bacteriological warfare.  However the principles of the protocol appear to form a rule of customary international law applicable even to the United States at that time.

download (1)         Custom is the older and the original source of international law. . . . International jurists speak of a custom when a clear and continuous habit of doing certain actions has grown up under the aegis of the conviction that these actions are, according to international law, obligatory and right.

To determine the existence of a customary rule of international law, state practice with respect to the use of poison gas and biological weapons in war should be examined. Where that practice indicates non-use, the question must still be answered whether this was based on a belief that a rule of international law existed even for those not parties to the protocol. The then practice and official views of the United States and Japan appear to be most relevant as they were the only major industrial states which had not, at that time, ratified the protocol.

The United States did not engage in gas warfare during World War II although it could have been to their military advantage in the Pacific in 1945. At the beginning of United States’ participation in World War II, the State Department became concerned that the Japanese, not being parties to the Geneva Protocol, would engage in chemical warfare .

The British, French, Italian, and German governments had exchanged pledges to observe the protocol; the British had made the same offer to Japan, although it replied evasively. The US  State Department proposed that a declaration be made to Japan that the United States would comply with the protocol if others did. Secretary of War Stimson, however, opposed any acceptance of the protocol by declaration. In February of 1942 he urged that the US “keep our mouths shut,” apparently because he was concerned about their preparedness to retaliate if the Japanese should use gas.

0907-syria-war-protests.jpg_full_380      In June 1942, President Roosevelt was persuaded by the Chinese to issue a statement concerning reported Japanese use of noxious gases in China. Without referring to the protocol, Roosevelt threatened “retaliation in kind and in full measure” if Japan persisted “in this inhumane form of warfare” against China or any other American ally.

A year later the United States was better prepared to retaliate, if necessary, and Roosevelt issued a more comprehensive statement. Again, however, he did not refer to the Geneva Protocol when he said:-

“From time to time since the present war began there have been reports that one or more of the Axis powers were seriously contemplating use of poisonous or noxious gases or other inhumane devices of warfare. Use of such weapons has been outlawed by the general opinion of civilized mankind. This country has not used them, and I hope that we never will be compelled to use them. I state categorically that we shall under no circumstances resort to the use of such weapons unless they are first used by our enemies. As President of the United States and as Commander in Chief of the American armed forces, I want to make clear beyond all doubt to any of our enemies contemplating a resort to such desperate and barbarous methods that acts of this nature committed against any one of the United Nations will be regarded as having been committed against the United States itself and will be treated accordingly. We promise to any perpetrators of such crimes full and swift retaliation in kind. …. “

After Germany was defeated, consideration was given to using poisonous gas on Japanese forces in the Pacific in order to bring the war swiftly to an end. However, the joint chiefs never recommended its use to the President. Personal and institutional distaste for chemical warfare among military men probably played a major role. The military view that gas was an insidious and dishonourable weapon did not necessarily mean that all military decision makers agreed with President Roosevelt that the use of gas had been “outlawed by the general opinion of civilized mankind.” But some did. President Roosevelt’s statement would, in any event, have been a hurdle to overcome even though his death left any final decision to President Truman.

images         The United States did not use gas warfare in Korea although authority to do so was requested by some of their commanders in the field. US preparedness was greater than that of the North Koreans or mainland Chinese, and the gas was thought by some to be useful in flushing the enemy out of entrenched positions. When the North Koreans accused United States forces in Korea of germ warfare, American representatives denied the charges, maintaining that such warfare was abhorrent. Although not decisive,  American failure to use gas in Korea and their defence against the germ warfare charge are evidence that they believed the use of poison gas and germ warfare to be wrong.

During the period between the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, Wisconsin’s Democrat Congressman Kastenmeier  precipated a debate on the use of chemical and biological warfare by introducing a draft concurrent resolution which would have reaffirmed the longstanding policy of the United States that in the event of war the United States shall under no circumstances resort to the use of biological weapons or the use of poisonous or obnoxious gases unless they are first used by their enemies.

Congressman Kastenmeier deduced from public statements and articles that the Defence Department was attempting to relax policy strictures on chemical and biological warfare.When asked whether his administration was contemplating changing United States policy against initial use of chemical and biological weapons, President Eisenhower said that “no official suggestion has been made to me, and so far as my own instinct is concerned, it is not to start such a thing first.”

images (1)     Fast forwarding  to the Vietnam War, in replying to Communist charges of violation of the Geneva Protocol , United States representatives excepted tear gases and  herbicides from the provisions of the protocol, thus  implying a conviction that they had to observe those provisions. Similarly, Secretary Rusk insisted that the US were not “embarking upon gas warfare in Vietnam …. We are not talking about gas that is prohibited by the Geneva Convention of 1925 or any other understandings about the use of gas.” In other words they were splitting hairs.

In 1966, the United States sponsored and voted for a United Nations General Assembly resolution which called for “strict observance by all states of the principles and objectives of the Protocol” and condemned “all actions contrary to those objectives.”

A United States delegate stated that “while the United States is not a party to the Protocol, we support the worthy objectives which it seeks to achieve.” Following this resolution, the State Department took the view that, by voting for the resolution, “the United States reaffirmed its long-standing support for the principles and objectives of the Protocol.” In this view, the “basic rule” set forth in the protocol “has been so widely accepted over a long period of time that it is now considered to form a part of customary international law.”

images (2)                                                                                 When the US finally ratified the Geneva Protocol on 22nd January 1975 it was the last major industrial nation to do so. Since that time, and notably in the case of the war against Serbia, the notions of ‘just war’ and ‘humanitarian war’ have emerged along with the concept that the mighty America is the ‘world’s policeman’ in order to justify military action. But these arguments provide increasingly flimsy cover for the real reasons America and its allies have invaded and plundered the lands of others.

Given the massive lack of popular support across the world for Obama’s proposed military strike against Syria it could be said the world has drawn another red line and maybe the President of the United States should beware of stepping over it.

Get Down From Your Pulpit, Obama, And Smell The Napalm.

napalm-girl  0605-napalm2

June 8th 1972,  Trang Bang village, South Vietnam. Villagers fleeing after napalm attack.

download Watching yesterday’s press conference with Obama at the close of the G20 Summit in St Petersburgh I was struck by just how frighteningly good he is at persuasion. Unlike the wooden performance of Cameron who often sounds like he’s reciting a speech written for him off by heart, Obama’s conversational style sounds spontaneous and unrehearsed. He’s a superb actor with a presence designed to disarm and he masterfully kept the Syrian focus on an emotional and moral agenda, refusing to engage with more material questions about tactics or outcomes.

I wonder why it is, then, that while he’s stomping around up there on the moral high ground so beloved by American Presidents and other Western leaders, that no journalist thought to take advantage of his exposed position to take a determined shot at him by bringing up the question of US military use of napalm and Agent Orange in Vietnam? Why, when he so righteously emphasises the atrocity of Syrian children attacked by chemical weapons, did no-one remind him of the countless Vietnamese children running for their lives from their napalmed villages with their skin hanging off? Why did no-one have the courage to remind him of the many Vietnamese children born in the last forty years horribly disfigured because of their parents’ exposure to Agent Orange? And why did no-one ask him why those parents are still trying to get compensation through US courts, not from the US military who sprayed the stuff all over their country, but from the US companies that manufactured it?

Napalm is nasty stuff.  U.S. troops used it from about 1965 to 1972 in the Vietnam War; napalm is a mixture of plastic polystyrene, hydrocarbon benzene, and gasoline. This mixture creates a jelly-like substance that, when ignited, sticks to practically anything and burns up to ten minutes. The effects of napalm on the human body are unbearably painful and almost always cause death among its victims. “Napalm is the most terrible pain you can ever imagine” said Kim Phúc, a survivor from a napalm bombing. “Water boils at 212°F. Napalm generates temperatures 1,500°F to 2,200°F.” Kim Phúc sustained third degree burns to portions of her body. She was one of the only survivors of such extreme measures

Napalm was first used in flamethrowers for U.S. ground troops; they burned down sections of forest and bushes in hopes of eliminating any enemy guerrilla fighters. Later on in the war B-52 Bombers began dropping napalm bombs and other incendiary explosives. Air raids that used napalm were much more devastating than flamethrowers; a single bomb was capable of destroying areas up to 2,500 square yards. Throughout the duration of the war, 1965 – 1973, eight million tons of bombs were dropped over Vietnam; this was more than three times the amount used in WWII.

Agent Orange, on the other hand, is more like the sarin claimed to have been used in Syria. It’s a toxic chemical herbicide that was used from about 1965 – 1970 in the Vietnam War. It was one of the main mixtures used during Operation Ranch Hand. Operation Ranch Hand was intended to deprive Vietnamese farmers and guerilla fighters of clean food and water in hopes they would relocate to areas more heavily controlled by the U.S. By the end of the operation over twenty million gallons of herbicides and defoliants were sprayed over forests and fields.

Agent Orange is fifty times more concentrated than normal agricultural herbicides; this extreme intensity completely destroyed all plants in the area. Agent Orange not only had devastating effects on agriculture but also on people and animals. The Vietnam Red Cross recorded over 4.8 million deaths and 400,000 children born with birth defects due to exposure to Agent Orange.

The use of Agent Orange was later determined to be in violation of the Geneva Contract yet no-one launched a military strike at the US as a result of this violation. The would-be punishers remain unpunished for their crime.

The US lost the long ‘never ending’ war in Vietnam. There has been no victory in Iraq or Afghanistan. The ‘threat’ to American interests is not in doing nothing in Syria. When you count the cost to Americans in lives lost and billions wasted on losing them, the real threat to ordinary Americans lies in yet another futile flexing of their military muscle in the Middle East.

 

 

 

How To Be A Sceptic

critical_thinking When we’re faced with conflicting views on what’s happening in Syria, when we’re being asked by our politicians to accept on trust their assertions that Assad attacked his own people with chemical weapons and when we’re being bombarded with  insidious propaganda designed to make us believe these accounts without seeing a scrap of real, verifiable evidence of the truth of them, this is when we need, more than ever, the faculty of critical thought. We need to become sceptics. You might think you already are pretty sceptical but are you sure you really know what that is?

This short video is a good place to start questioning and improving our powers of reasoning…