The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

Iraq and the Persistence of American Hegemony

… With history being but mere ‘opinion’ in U.S. political debate the aggressively misleading ‘division’ over whether it was the war on Iraq (2003) or the forced withdrawal of U.S. troops (2011) that is responsible for Iraq’s recent dissolution is so much chatter coming from a group that should rightly be in prison or already hung for their war crimes. Following from the SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) penned by Mr. Bush that committed the U.S. to quit Iraq by 2011, and against his campaign promise to end the war there, Mr. Obama did everything in his power to persuade the Iraqi government to allow a large U.S. troop presence to remain after the date for withdrawal had passed. The central sticking point was the refusal of the Iraqi government to give blanket immunity to U.S. troops for crimes committed against the people of Iraq. In other words, Mr. Obama could have continued the U.S. war if he had been willing to let the Iraqis prosecute criminal acts committed by Americans in Iraq. Apparently unwilling to risk murder, rape and torture prosecutions against U.S. troops, Mr. Obama reluctantly settled for withdrawal of all but the tens of thousands of troops now ‘guarding’ the U.S. embassy in Iraq. Democrat partisans could rightly point to the rank hypocrisy of the central architects of the Iraq war blaming Mr. Obama’s reluctant withdrawal for current circumstance if there hadn’t existed a bi-partisan front in favor of war against Iraq for most of the last quarter-century.

The question of how a relatively small group of cloistered gangsters can so consistently destroy everything they touch (except the bank accounts of their benefactors) and still remain in power gets to the heart of the American conundrum. As with oil company profits, international finance and ‘outsourced’ environmental devastation, perpetual chaos and destruction is the American business model. Iraq was destroyed so that U.S. munitions manufacturers could sell their wares, so that U.S. infrastructure builders could ‘reconstruct’ the country, so that multi-national oil companies could profit from rising oil prices and so that the U.S. polity could be distracted from careful examination of who ‘their’ government actually works for. Lest this seem unduly conspiratorial, what precisely was the reason the U.S. attacked and occupied Iraq in the 2000s? Iraq had no relationship with Al-Qaeda prior to 2003, WMDs supplied by the U.S. had already been removed long before the start of the war, the idea of ‘democratization’ at the point of a gun is a non sequitur and elimination of the ‘madman’ Saddam Hussein requires overlooking the relationship senior U.S. leadership had with him from the early 1960s through prosecution of the war in the mid-2000s. As there were no ‘good’ reasons for war on Iraq perhaps it is time to look at the bad reasons for it. […]

The American sectarian approach has created the civil war [in Iraq]. We saw Iraqis as Sunnis, Shias, Kurds. We designed a governing council based on a sectarian quota system and ignored Iraqis (not exiled politicians but real Iraqis) who warned us against it. We decided that the Sunnis were the bad guys and the Shias were the good guys. These problems were not timeless. In many ways they are new, and we are responsible for them.

-Reporter Nir Rosen, 2006

Startlingly accurate predictions about U.S. involvement in Iraq here.

(via bostonreview)

1 month ago

State and local law enforcement agencies are relying on a wide range of databases of facial imagery, including driver’s licenses and Facebook, to identify suspects. The F.B.I. is developing what it calls its “next generation identification” project to combine its automated fingerprint identification system with facial imagery and other biometric data. … The State Department has what several outside experts say could be the largest facial imagery database in the federal government, storing hundreds of millions of photographs of American passport holders and foreign visa applicants. And the Department of Homeland Security is funding pilot projects at police departments around the country to match suspects against faces in a crowd. … The N.S.A., though, is unique in its ability to match images with huge troves of private communications. N.S.A. Collecting Millions of Faces From Web Images | NYTimes.com

Ukraine: the Waiting Game | Pepe Escobar

Everything one needs to know about mediocre political elites allegedly representing the “values” of Western civilization has been laid bare by their reaction to the referendums in Donetsk and Lugansk.

The referendums may have been a last-minute affair; organized in a rush; in the middle of a de facto civil war; and on top of it at gunpoint – supplied by the Kiev NATO neo-liberal neo-fascist junta, which even managed to kill some voters in Mariupol. An imperfect process? Yes. But absolutely perfect in terms of graphically depicting a mass movement in favor of self-rule and political independence from Kiev.

This was direct democracy in action; no wonder the US State Department hated it with a vengeance.

Turnout was huge. The landslide victory for independence was out of the question. Same for transparency; a public vote, in glass ballot boxes, with monitoring provided by Western journalists – mostly from major German media but also from the Kyodo News Agency or the Washington Post.

What should come after the Donetsk People’s Republic proclaimed itself a sovereign state, and asked Moscow to consider its accession into Russia, is not secession, nor outright civil war, but a negotiation.

That’s clear by the Kremlin’s measured official reaction: “Moscow respects the will of the people in Donetsk and Lugansk and hopes that the practical realization of the outcome of the referendums will be carried out in a civilized manner.”

The cautious tone is also reflected by the Kremlin urging the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to help broker the negotiation.

Yet once again, there’s concrete proof that the NATO neo-liberal neo-fascist junta does not want to negotiate anything. Farcical “acting” President Oleksandr Turchynov labeled the exercise in direct democracy a “farce, which terrorists call the referendum”; and Washington and Brussels branded it “illegal”.

And all this after the Odessa massacre; after the deployment of neo-nazi paramilitaries disguised as a “National Guard” (the goons US corporate media calls “Ukrainian nationalists”); dozens of CIA and FBI agents on the ground; plus 300 of the inevitable Academi – former Blackwater – mercenaries. What else to expect when the current Ukrainian Secretary for National Security is neo-nazi Andriy Parubiy, the previous commander of the Maidan’s “self-defense forces” and a cheerleader of World War II nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera.

Banderastan – with its remix of 1980s Central American-style death squads – doesn’t do referendums; they’d rather burn to death ethnic Russian civilian “insects” who dare to occupy buildings.

So this is the key message of the referendums. We reject the Kiev NATO neo-liberal neo-fascist junta. It’s an illegal “government” of putschists. We are not “pro-Russian” separatists. We don’t want to secede. What we want is a unified, federal and civilized Ukraine, with strong autonomous provinces.

… The Empire of Chaos wants – what else – chaos. Crucially, the Empire of Chaos now blatantly supports the deployment of an “army against their own population”; this was strictly verboten – punishable by NATO bombs or NATO-enabled jihad – in Libya and Syria, but now is just the new normal in Ukraine. [continue]

A federal judge late Friday ordered the Obama administration to halt the force-feeding of a Guantanamo prisoner and to preserve more than 100 videos that show the captive being forcibly removed from his cell and force-fed.

U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler’s unprecedented ruling also temporarily barred military officials at the detention facility from subjecting the prisoner, Abu Wa’el Dhiab, to so-called forced cell extractions “for the purposes of” tube-feedings until May 21, the date of the next hearing in the case.

Dhiab has been cleared for release or transfer out of Guantanamo since 2009. His attorneys have been waging a lengthy legal battle to permanently end his force-feeding.

'This is a major crack in Guantanamo’s years-long effort to oppress prisoners and to exercise total control over information about the prison,' said Cori Crider, one of Dhiab’s attorneys who works for UK-based charity Reprieve.

'Dhiab is cleared for release and should have been returned to his family years ago,' Crider added. 'He is on hunger strike because he feels he has no other option left. I am glad Judge Kessler has taken this seriously, and we look forward to our full day in court to expose the appalling way Dhiab and others have been treated.'

Judge orders government to stop force-feeding Guantanamo prisoner

This current epic of finance capitalism will either be resolved in disorderly or catastrophic fashion but it will come to an end. By design it is too deeply embedded in broad political economy for orderly resolution to be a high probability. The economic mainstream that wants to stay relevant should ‘fess up to its role in current circumstance and admit that it knows little to nothing of what to do about it. What is wholly evident in retrospect is that the powers that be took what it wanted from the liberal economic mainstream with no intention of assuaging the economic dislocations that antique-revival trade policies were sure to produce. Nonsense about the problem being a failure to predict the financial crisis of 2008 requires dissociating it from those of the early 1990s and early 2000s and the associated economic dislocations broadly considered. The common link is finance. At this point in history empty blather about income ‘inequality’ that fails to address the role of finance looks a lot like determined misdirection. Economics, Finance and Crisis

2 months ago