foreign policy

Obama administration continues its march towards WWIII

The mess in Syria is the starkest example of why a Clinton II administration, sure to continue to ramp up tensions with Russia and pursue an even more belligerent version of the brutal and stupid foreign policy status quo, could be more damaging to the world than even a Trump administration.

That status quo is actually inching us towards war with Russia.

War. With. Russia. You know, the country some experts believe has us outgunned when it comes to nukes.

Growing up in the Reagan era, I always thought it would be a Republican who brought about nuclear annihilation. Well, given that Hillary Clinton is a old "Goldwater Girl" who gets her foreign policy from Henry Kissinger, maybe that intuition wasn't too far off...the woman most likely to destroy the world is a Republican at heart. So if it comes to it, I'll have that bit of comfort that my instincts weren't completely off as I wait for incineration.

Warmongering in Washington, Preparation for War in Moscow (The Nation)

 Cohen argues that we should be “shocked” less by Donald Trump’s sex talk or by Hillary Clinton’s misdeeds as secretary of state than by the entire political-media establishment’s indifference to Washington’s drift toward war with Russia. Since the breakdown of the Obama-Putin agreement to cooperate militarily against terrorists in Syria, which Cohen blames primarily on the Obama administration, Washington has escalated its warfare rhetoric against the Kremlin and Russian President Putin in particular. The man with whom the Obama administration proposed to partner with in Syria only two weeks ago is now denounced as a “war criminal” for Russia’s fight against terrorists in Aleppo, which was to be “liberated” by the now aborted US-Russian military alliance. The Washington Post was more specific, publishing a leaked account of how Putin might be arrested outside of Russia and put on trial. But the first victim might have been Secretary of State Kerry, who negotiated and advocated the proposed alliance and who now must level against Russia the same charges of “war crimes,” dealing a devastating blow to his own reputation. Putting another nail in the coffin of its jettisoned cooperation with the Kremlin, the White House officially accused the Putin leadership of trying to undermine the American electoral system through systematic hacking, even though it presented no real evidence for the allegation. Meanwhile, the mainstream media continues to base their coverage of US national security in this regard solely on unrelenting vilification of Putin, not on US national interests. Any talk of partnership with Russia, as still advocated by Donald Trump, is traduced as “insanity” (Rachel Maddow on MSNBC).

Clinton approved drone murder by cellphone e-mail

So 1) These e-mails were by no means about inconsequential matters, and 2) Clinton was heavily involved in the Obama administration's war crimes. Jill Stein is right: the things we fear Trump might do, Clinton has already done.

FBI criminal investigation emails: Clinton approved CIA drone assassinations with her cellphone, report says (Salon)

An explosive new report reveals just what it is that the FBI is looking to: emails in which then-Secretary of State Clinton approved CIA drone assassinations in Pakistan with her cellphone.

Survivor of Obama's first drone war crime: "What he has done...is an act of tyranny"

Why do they hate us? Oh yeah, because we kill and maim them.

Victim of Obama's first drone strike: 'I am the living example of what drones are' (the Guardian)

It took nearly 40 days for Qureshi to emerge from a series of hospitals, all of which he spent in darkness. Shrapnel had punctured his stomach. Lacerations covered much of his upper body. Doctors operated on the entire left side of his body, which had sustained burns, and used laser surgery to repair his right eye. They could not save his left.

1950s US plans to nuke Soviet civilians revealed

As an 80s kid, I grew up with the possibility of nuclear armageddon in thirty minutes or less always in the background, but my parents generation had to possibility of a version that might take hours or days to play out via bomber. And both our generations grew up with the idea that the USSR was paranoid and aggressive, that the US was just responding to the Soviet threat...it wasn't until later that I figured out that it was mostly the other way around. (Times Russian or Soviet troops have invaded the US: 0. Times US troops have invaded Russia: 1. Nuclear attacks by USSR to intimate US: 0. Nuclear attacks by US to intimate USSR: 2.)

1950s U.S. Nuclear Target List Offers Chilling Insight (www.nytimes.com)

For the first time, the National Archives and Records Administration has released a detailed list of the United States’ potential targets for atomic bombers in the event of war with the Soviet Union, showing the number and the variety of targets on its territory, as well as in Eastern Europe and China.

It lists many targets for “systematic destruction” in major cities, including 179 in Moscow (like “Agricultural Equipment” and “Transformers, Heavy”), 145 in Leningrad and 91 in East Berlin. The targets are referred to as DGZs or “designated ground zeros.” While many are industrial facilities, government buildings and the like, one for each city is simply designated “Population.”

ISIS isn't the worst terrorist group

All the campaign talk about ISIS...and they're not top of the threat list. But we don't care about Nigeria as much as we do about the Middle East, for oily reasons.

The World’s Deadliest Terrorist Group (The Atlantic)

The 2015 Global Terrorism Index, published by the Institute for Economics & Peace, found that Boko Haram, the Nigerian jihadist group, was responsible for 6,644 deaths in 2014, compared with 6,073 at the hands of ISIS. Boko Haram, which was founded in 2002 as an Islamist movement against Western education and morphed into an armed insurgency in 2009, has rapidly expanded its scope and ambitions over the past two years, achieving international notoriety in the spring of 2014 by kidnapping more than 200 schoolgirls. Much like ISIS, the organization controls territory in Nigeria (although it has lost some of it over the past year) and has declared a caliphate in that territory.

How Empathy Makes People More Violent (The Atlantic)

Pete Seeger wrote years ago:

Well if you want to have great love, you're gonna have great anger
If you want to have great love, you're gonna have great anger
When I see innocent folks shot down,
Should I just shake my head and frown?
Oh, Pacem in Terris, Mir, Shanti, Salaam, Hey Wa.

Well if you want to hit the target square, you better not have blind anger
If you want to hit the target square, you better not have blind anger
Or else it'll just be one more time
The correction creates another crime.
Oh, Pacem in Terris, Mir, Shanti, Salaam, Hey Wa.

How Empathy Makes People More Violent (The Atlantic)

We start by giving people a simple test that measures their degree of empathy. Then we tell them some awful stories, about journalists kidnapped in the Middle East, about child abuse in the United States. And then we ask them how best to respond to those responsible for the suffering....Just as with the genetic study, we found that the more empathic people are, the more they want a harsher punishment.

Politicians are comfortable exploiting this dark side of empathy. Donald Trump likes to talk about Kate—he doesn’t use her full name, Kate Steinle, just Kate. She was murdered in San Francisco by an undocumented immigrant, and Trump wants to make her real to his audience, to make vivid his talk of Mexican killers.... Trump and Coulter use these stories to stoke our feelings for innocent victims, to motivate support for policies against the immigrants who are said to prey upon these innocents.

There is a history of this sort of thing. Lynchings in the American South were often sparked by stories of white women who were assaulted by blacks, and anti-Semitic attacks prior to the Holocaust were often motivated by tales of Jews preying on innocent German children. Who isn’t enraged by someone who hurts a child?

Similar sentiments are used to start wars.

27 killed in three suicide bombings in Chad

Let's face it: we tend to focus more on people like us. We think about the attacks in Paris and California more than we think about attacks in Africa or the Middle East.

Maybe -- and I know this is a radical idea, literally, but hear me out -- if we thought more about violence in Africa and the Middle East, we could find the common root and solve the problem.

At Least 27 Killed, 90 Injured In Triple Suicide Bombing In Chad (BuzzFeed)

Three suicide bombings on an island in Lake Chad have killed at least 27 people and injured 90, sending the African nation into a state of emergency, according to the multiple reports.

...

Director General Banyaman Cossingar said that no group has claimed responsibility for the fatal blasts, but that authorities suspected it to be the work of Boko Haram, according to the AP.

If mass killings disturb you, I've got bad news about American foreign policy.

Wednesday's mass shooting was horrific.

America's brutal and stupid foreign policy -- a bipartisan endeavor -- is about two orders of magnitude worse.

Do Mass Killings Bother You? (www.counterpunch.org)

We now know this. A young man who had successfully killed on a large scale went to his religious leader with doubts and was told that mass killing was part of God’s plan. The young man continued killing until he had participated in killing sprees that took 1,626 lives — men, women, and children.

I repeat: his death count was not the 16 or 9 or 22 lives that make top news stories, but 1,626 dead and mutilated bodies. Do such things bother you?

What if you learned that this young man’s name was Brandon Bryant, and that he killed as a drone pilot for the U.S. Air Force, and that he was presented with a certificate for his 1,626 kills and congratulated on a job well done by the United States of America?

Obama leans on Yemen to keep journalist who exposed US war crimes in jail

Journalist exposes a US air strike that kills innocents and that was hidden as a Yemeni opeation. Journalist is roughed up, threatened, finally arrested by the Yemeni government. When the Yemeni government is about ready to release him, Obama leans on the administration to keep him locked up.

And we wonder why they hate us over in the Middle East...

Why Is President Obama Keeping a Journalist in Prison in Yemen? (The Nation)

On February 2, 2011, President Obama called Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. The two discussed counterterrorism cooperation and the battle against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. At the end of the call, according to a White House read-out, Obama “expressed concern” over the release of a man named Abdulelah Haider Shaye, whom Obama said “had been sentenced to five years in prison for his association with AQAP.” It turned out that Shaye had not yet been released at the time of the call, but Saleh did have a pardon for him prepared and was ready to sign it. It would not have been unusual for the White House to express concern about Yemen’s allowing AQAP suspects to go free. Suspicious prison breaks of Islamist militants in Yemen had been a regular occurrence over the past decade, and Saleh has been known to exploit the threat of terrorism to leverage counterterrorism dollars from the United States. But this case was different. Abdulelah Haider Shaye is not an Islamist militant or an Al Qaeda operative. He is a journalist.

...

While Shaye, 35, had long been known as a brave, independent-minded journalist in Yemen, his collision course with the US government appears to have been set in December 2009. On December 17, the Yemeni government announced that it had conducted a series of strikes against an Al Qaeda training camp in the village of al Majala in Yemen’s southern Abyan province, killing a number of Al Qaeda militants. As the story spread across the world, Shaye traveled to al Majala. What he discovered were the remnants of Tomahawk cruise missiles and cluster bombs, neither of which are in the Yemeni military’s arsenal. He photographed the missile parts, some of them bearing the label “Made in the USA,” and distributed the photos to international media outlets. He revealed that among the victims of the strike were women, children and the elderly. To be exact, fourteen women and twenty-one children were killed. Whether anyone actually active in Al Qaeda was killed remains hotly contested. After conducting his own investigation, Shaye determined that it was a US strike. The Pentagon would not comment on the strike and the Yemeni government repeatedly denied US involvement. But Shaye was later vindicated when Wikileaks released a US diplomatic cable that featured Yemeni officials joking about how they lied to their own parliament about the US role, while President Saleh assured Gen. David Petraeus that his government would continue to lie and say “the bombs are ours, not yours.”

Former DAESH captive Nicolas Henin tells how to defeat them

The man who was held captive by Isis for 10 months says how they can be defeated (The Independent)

A French journalist who was held hostage by Isis for 10 months has spoken out against air strikes in Syria, saying they represent “a trap” for Britain and other members of the international community.

...

Mr Henin has previously spoken about how he was held for seven months in Syria itself, and how British national Mohammed Emwazi – known as Jihadi John – was among the jailors who subjected him to physical and psychological torture.

"Strikes on Isis are a trap,” he said.

“The winner of this war will not be the party that has the newest, the most expensive or the most sophisticated weaponry, but the party that manages to win over the people on its side.”

...

Coalition bombing was not hurting the militants, Mr Henin said in the interview before British MPs voted in favour of RAF strikes in Syria, but rather “pushing people into the hands of Isis”.

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