cruise missile

According to NBC, the United States and Arab partner nations launched massive airstrikes in Syria against ISIS targets for the first time Monday, the Pentagon said. In a major escalation of the U.S. war against ISIS, the U.S. military plans to strike up to 20 targets in and around Raqqa, Syria — logistics, fuel and weapons depots; training sites; troop encampments; command and control sites; and headquarters for the Sunni fighters. The bombing began at approximately 8:30 p.m. ET Monday, a senior U.S. defense official told NBC News.

Read more here http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/isis-terror/u-s-arab-allies-strike-isis-syria-n209286

photo credit: Defence Images via photopin cc

The Power of Nightmares

Directed by Adam Curtis

BBC (2003)

Part 3 Shadows in the Cave

Film Review

Part 3 concerns the mythology the neoconservatives created around international terrorism to justify the US wars against Afghanistan and Iraq.

The US Invents al Qaeda

The final video starts with the car bombing of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998. These were the first attacks Bin Laden and Zawahiri organized against US interests as part of their new international jihad (see How the CIA Funds Jihad). They recruited four bombers from training camps Abdullah Azzam started during the Soviet occupation.

Contrary to the myth promoted by the neocons, these camps were exclusively dedicated to training Muslims to conduct jihad in their own countries (e.g. Uzbekistan and Chechnya). Their leaders wanted absolutely nothing to do with international terrorism or Bin Laden’s jihad against the US. They allowed Zawahiri and Bin Laden to recruit from these camps because he was financing them. Nevertheless, even members of Islamic Jihad opposed what they were doing.

In Jan 2001 the US government brought the embassy bombers to trial in the US. They also tried Bin Laden in absentia. To charge him under existing US law, federal prosecutors had to prove an organized group he commanded carried out the bombings. Because no such group existed, they invented one. The name al Qaeda came from a paid FBI informant.

9-11

Immediately following his election George W Bush, like his father, totally rejected the neoconservative’s insistence that the US should invade other nations and “dictate how to run their countries.”

9-11 would change all this, propelling Richard Perle, Wolfowitz, Cheney and Rumsfeld to international power with four terrifying myths:

  1. That Bin Laden was responsible for the 9-11 attacks (according to official FBI accounts, Khalid Sheik Mohammed was responsible for the “plane operations).”*
  2. That “al Qaeda,” a phantom organization the neocons latched onto for propaganda purposes, was a genuine international entity running sleeper cells in 50-60 countries.
  3. That “al Qaeda’s” ultimate goal was to force the US to live under Islamic fundamentalism.
  4. That the invasion of Afghanistan was essential to destroy the heart of “al Qaeda.”

During the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, the US and NATO allied themselves with the Afghan Northern Alliance. The latter hated the foreign Muslims who came to came to Afghanistan for training and received a generous bounty for handing them over to US troops. Nearly all of them ended up in Guantanomo, despite having no connection with bin Laden or international terrorism.

The Role of Hollywood

Following the US invasion, the neocons invested two new myths. The first was that bin Laden was hiding out in a sophisticated bunker built into the Torah Borah caves on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The second was that the US was harboring a vast network of terrorist sleeper cells preparing a new attack on US soil. Although both were totally discredited by mid-2003, these myths would be solidified in the public mind by dozens of TV dramas about hidden terrorist sleeper cells in major US cities.

A popular theme of these dramas was the dirty bomb*, which according to actual DD tests was unlikely to kill anyone because the radiation produced by a dirty bomb was so dispersed.

So-called “dirty bombs** featured prominently in most of these productions, despite numerous Pentagon tests demonstrating dirty bomb radiation is too widely dispersed to kill anyone.

World Leaders Rush to Sign On

Inspired by the immense power this ideology of fear gave political leaders, other western leaders quickly signed on to the terror agenda. When the neocons began circulating the new mythology in mid-2002 that Saddam Hussein was linked to al Qaeda and 9-11, British Prime Minister Tony Blair became one of its most vocal proponents. Despite knowing from the outside that the war on Iraq was based on fabricated evidence.


*This video was produced in 2003, when it was still widely believed that 19 Muslim hijackers were responsible for the attack on the Twin Towers. This version of events is now totally discredited.
**A dirty bomb is an explosive device made from nuclear waste combined with conventional explosives – with the intent of spreading radioactive material over a widely populated area
***This revelation is all the more remarkable given that Curtis made this documentary prior to Dr David Kelly’s so-called “suicide” in 2003. Kelly worked for the British Ministry of Defense and was a former UN weapons inspector in Iraq. He came to public attention in July 2003, when a BBC journalist published an-off-the record discussion about the British role in fabricating evidence about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. He died under extremely suspicious circumstances in later that month. A group of British doctors is demanding a fresh investigation into Kelly’s death: Doctors Claim Cover Upl

The Power of Nightmares

Directed by Adam Curtis

BBC (2003)

Part 2 The Phantom Victory

Film Review

Part 2 focuses on the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan between 1979 and 1989 – and how the CIA funded and trained the Islamist Mujahideen to combat the occupation.

Both Carter’s National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and the neoconservatives claim credit for the hare-brained and incredibly short sighted scheme to recruit, fund and train a jihadist army in Afghanistan. In addition to providing sophisticated weaponry, the CIA trained the Mujahideen in terror techniques, such as assassination, car bombs and improvised explosive devices (IDEs).

Abdullah Azzam, the Palestinian who led the Mujahideen, put out a call for all Muslims to join Afghanistan’s holy war. He believed that victory in Afghanistan would inspire foreign fighters to return to their homelands and overthrow corrupt secular dictators the US was propping up.

One Saudi who answered this call was a phenomenally wealthy construction contractor named Osama bin Laden. He, too, provided funding for the Mujahideen.

Arab governments, recognizing a unique opportunity to expel their own jihadist troublemakers, opened their jails and exiled their Islamic extremists to Afhanistan. Egypt released Islamic Jihad founder Dr Zawahiri and his followers.

Gorbachov Orders Soviet Withdrawal

In 1987 when Gorbachov came to power, the Soviet Union was on the brink of economic collapse. Believing he could still save it through political reform, Gorby quickly commenced Soviet troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. He also reached out to the Bush senior administration to help install a stable government in Kabul. He warned that failure to do so would allow the Mujahideen to install an Islamic dictatorship. The neoconservatives who ran the Pentagon and State Department refused. With Pakistani support, the Mujahideen (renamed the Taliban) took control of Afghanistan and installed a brutal fundamentalist regime.

Both the neoconservatives and the Taliban/Mujahideen would claim sole credit for victory over the Soviets in Afghanistan. Both groups (and Zbigniew Brzezinski) would also credit US intervention in Afghanistan for the demise of the Soviet Union. In reality the USSR collapsed due to gross economic mismanagement and internal decay.

The Split Between Azzam and Zawahiri

Following the Soviet withdrawal, a major rift occurred between Zawahiri and Azzam. As it turned out, torture also radicalized Zawahiri. Who now proclaimed that politicians who were in bed with the Americans – and their civilian supporters – were legitimate targets for assassination.

Azzam, in contrast, compelled Islamic freedom fighters to swear an oath not to kill innocent civilians. Osama Bin Laden, former deputy to Azzam, joined forces with Zawahiri shortly before the latter’s assassination in 1989.

By the early nineties, powerful movements the Islamic Jihad (and related groups) had built in Egypt and Algeria were on track to win national elections. Aided by the US and France, the Algerian military launched a coup and cancelled the Algerian elections. Egypt, in turn, banned the Muslim Brotherhood and arrested and tortured their leadership.

Islamic Jihad responded by attempting to launch violent jihad in both countries. Owing to their failure to attract a mass following, in May 1998 Zawahuri and Bin Laden would announce a new strategy: taking jihad to their real enemies: the US and Israel.

Meanwhile Back in Washington

Following the fall of the Soviet Union, the neoconservatives were more committed than ever to promoting the myth that the US was the sole force for good in a world of evil regimes. Fingering Saddam Hussein as the next satan to be overthrown, in 1990 they put immense pressure on Bush senior to overthrow the Iraqi government during the first Gulf War. Bush wisely took the sage advice of Pentagon advisers who warned that a full scale invasion of Iraq would result in a hopeless quagmire.

Mainstream Republicans Back Clinton

In 1992, mainstream Republicans, frightened by the religious fundamentalism that had overtaken the Republican Party, voted for Clinton in droves. The neocons, in turn, latched onto Clinton as the new evil. They began a vicious propaganda campaign against him, spearheaded by the conservative American Spectator. The campaign widely disseminated spurious allegations that the Clintons had committed financial fraud in Whitewater*, murdered their friend Vince Foster and participated in drug smuggling at the Mena Airport in Arkansas.**

Under immense pressure, Clinton agreed to appoint Kenneth Starr as special prosecutor to investigate these allegations. Starr couldn’t find any evidence of Clinton wrongdoing until he stumbled onto the President’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.

Following their failure to impeach Clinton, the neocons became as marginalized in the US as Bin Laden, Zawahiri and their ragtag followers in the Arab world.

All this would change with 9-11, which would propel both the Islamists and the neocons.


*The Whitewater controversy involved a questionable real estate deal Clinton engaged in while he was attorney general of Arkansas. The Whitewater investigations would result in criminal convictions for several of Clinton’s associates. Although there was insufficient evidence to file criminal charges against the President, his conduct was clearly unethical: see Whitewater Scandal

**While there’s no evidence Governor Clinton was directly involved in cocaine smuggling, he was unresponsive to strong grassroots demand that he investigate the CIA’a drug-gun smuggling operation at the Mena Airport – and to Ross Perot’s (presidential candidate in 1992 and 1996) request that Clinton back the Internal Revenue’s investigation of Menta.

The Power of Nightmares

Directed by Adam Curtis

BBC (2003)

Part 1 Baby It’s Cold Outside

Film Review

This final series of Adam Curtis documentaries is the oldest and, in my view, the best. It has special relevance given the current western crusade against evil incarnate (and CIA creation) ISIS.*

The Power of Nightmares traces the parallel movements of radical Islam and neoconservativism – how both rose to power by inventing terrifying fantasies which they promise to protect us from them.

Curtis begins by tracing the roots of radical Islam, which dates back to 1949 when Egyptian scholar Sayed Qutb attended college briefly in Greely Colorado. Qutb was instantly repelled by the pervasive decay, crassness and vulgarity stemming from America’s fanatical devotion to individualism (an ideology perpetuated by saturation pro-consumption messaging by Edward Bernays’ public relations industry – see The Science of Thought Control).*

The Americans Qutb met were unbelievably selfish and materialistic and lived lonely, sterile lives surrounded by perfectly manicured lawns.

Returning to Egypt in 1950, he was horrified to see that that western individualism, materialism and moral degradation had corrupted his own country, thanks to the invasion of American pop culture.

Believing Islam provided a moral framework to protect Egypt from this selfish individualism, in 1952 he joined the Muslim Brotherhood and supported Gamal Nasser in overthrowing British rule in Egypt.

The CIA Teaches Egypt How to Torture

As Nasser’s vice president, Anwar Sadat (who would become president in 1970) invited the CIA to set up Egypt’s security services and train them how to torture members of the growing Muslim Brotherhood.

As often happens, torture radicalized Qutb. He came to believe that individualism unleashes a barbarous violence and that Muslims infected by materialism cease to be true Muslim. This, in turn, makes them legitimate targets for assassination.

Following Qutb’s execution for treason in 1966, Dr Ayman Zawahari assumed leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood. After Sadat signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, Zawahiri founded the Islamic Jihad (IJ). The treaty was taken as evidence that Sadat was no longer a true Muslim and thus a legitimate assassination target. In 1981, IJ members of his military guard would assassinate him.

Leo Strauss: Father of Neoconservatism

Leo Strauss, German-American political philosopher and Zionist, is considered the father of neoconservatism. Refusing to give interviews or publish articles, Strauss spread his ideas by surrounding himself with a dedicated band of students at the University of Chicago.

Like Qutb, Strauss was horrified by the moral degeneration and social decay he witnessed in the fifties and sixties. He blamed it on liberalism, with its claims hat morality his relative ( i.e. that each individual is entitled to set their own standards of morality). He taught that political leaders had an obligation to set strong moral standards by creating powerful myths for the masses to live by.

In the early seventies, his students, Irving and William Kristol, Paul Wolfowitz and Francis Fukyama, would formally launch the neoconservative movement to disseminate the myth that the US is the only force for good in a world full of evil.

According to this world view, any country or individual that opposes US policies is satanic. The neoconservatives were perfectly aware they were deliberately creating a fear-inducing myth. Yet according to their Straussian belief system, this was a necessary myth and a necessary fear for the overall good of society.

The Neocons Target Henry Kissinger

Their initial target in their crusade against evil was Nixon’s National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger. In 1972, Kissinger was trying to reduce fear and instability through world cooperation, détente with the Soviets and propping up fascist dictators (he called this Realpolitik).

Recruiting Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney (Secretary of Defense and Chief of Staff under Gerald Ford) to the neoconservative cause, they blanketed the media with claims that the Russians were cheating on the nuclear test ban treaty. This directly contradicted CIA evidence that Soviet air defenses were on the verge of collapse, owing to the sorry state of the Soviet economy. So the neocons claimed the Soviets had devised methods of cheating the CIA was incapable of detecting.

When Carter assumed the presidency in 1976, they would revive the Committee on the Present Danger to promote their mythology that the Soviet Union posed a growing threat to the US. Ronald Reagan would be their most prominent recruit.

Politicizing Christianity

Simultaneously, like the Muslim Brotherhood, the neocons embraced fundamentalist Christianity as a vehicle for enforcing socially redeeming moral values. Fundamentalist pastors had always discouraged their congregations from participating in the political process. Guided by the neocons, they reversed themselves, transforming millions of fundamentalists into popular force to lobby for the neoconservative world view.

In 1980, millions of them voted for the first time for Ronald Reagan.


*See excellent article by British historian Nafeez Ahmed tracing the history of ISIS: How the West Created ISIS

** As I am. What emotionally balanced rational being wouldn’t be repulsed by the empty sterile lives Americans lead?

 

oil tanker

WTF? How can the EU call for air strikes against ISIS when they’re backing them financially by buying their oil?

From Press TV :

A senior European Union official has revealed that some EU member states have purchased oil from ISIL Takfiri militants despite their rhetoric against the group.
**

In a briefing to the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee, EU Ambassador to Iraq Jana Hybas-kova said some European countries have purchased crude from the ISIL.

She, however, refused to disclose any names despite pressure by some Parliament members to do so.

The EU official also warned against any support by the West for separatist Kurdish groups who, she said, would destabilize the Middle East.

Earlier reports accused Turkey of buying and transporting oil from both the ISIL and Qaeda-linked Nusra Front. According to the reports, Western intelligence agencies could track ISIL oil shipments as they moved across Iraq and Turkey.

ISIL reportedly controls eleven oil fields in northern Iraq as well as Syria’s Raqqa province.

US intelligence officials estimate that the Takfiri militants earn more than USD 3 million a day from oil profit, theft, human trafficking and ransom. They say the militants sell oil and other products via established networks in Turkey, Jordan and Iraq’s Kurdistan region. Turkey has denied reports of involvement in ISIL’s oil smuggling operations.

 

photo credit: aad.born via photopin cc

Trapped: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom

Adam Curtis

BBC (2007)

Film Review

Part 3 We Will Force You to be Free

Part 3 is about the philosophy of revolution, as articulated by the Algerian psychiatrist Frantz Fanon (author of Wretched of the Earth and Black Faces, White Masks). Fanon, who studied in Paris, was strongly influenced by French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre. Sartre, who viewed economic equality as essential to personal freedom, believed true freedom was only possible through the overthrow of bourgeois society via violent revolution. Fanon was convinced that the western elites got into people’s heads and turned them into zombies devoid of the ability to think critically or act altruistically for the collective welfare of the community. He also believed that the mere act of organized violence freed people from their competitive individualistic conditioning.

Fanon’s ideas had major influence over numerous third world revolutionaries, including Che Guevara in the 1952 Cuban revolution, Pol Pot in the 1975 Cambodian revolution and Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in the 1979 Iranian revolution.

Pol Pot believed the only way to rid society of bourgeois self-interest was to kill the entire bourgeoisie – all 3 million of them.

Positive and Negative Liberty

The documentary goes on to discuss the work of British political philosopher Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997). Berlin believed only two types of freedom, which he called positive and negative liberty, were possible. He labeled Fanon’s type of freedom “positive liberty,” as it involved a new elite forcing the masses to adopt a new way of thinking through violence. In contrast, “negative liberty,” allowed individuals to do whatever they want so long as they don’t infringe on the rights of anyone else.

Curtis contends that both types of so-called liberty involve violence and coercion. As examples, he offers the “shock therapy” the US corporate elite carried out in Russia in 1992 and in Iraq in 2003. While on the surface, both instances of “shock therapy” looks like pure exploitation by US banks and corporations, both were examples of the neoconservative doctrine of spreading “democracy” via armed force.

Shock Therapy in Russia

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, US vulture capitalists invaded Russia and pressured the new regime to abandon its centrally controlled economy virtually overnight. All subsidies for food, energy and other basic necessities were discontinued and most of Russia’s state owned industries were privatized. Millions of Russians lost their jobs and were plunged into abject poverty, as Russian oligarchs and American venture capitalists stripped the newly privatized industries of their wealth. Face with the loss of government subsidies, ordinary Russians lined up on the street and traded everything they owned for food.

In 1993, with the economy on the verge of collapse, Boris Yeltsin dissolved Parliament and launched a military coup to install himself as absolute ruler. He had to borrow money from the oligarchs to run his government, for which he handed over the remaining state-owned industries.

By 1998, the oligarchs and their American investors had bled Russia dry and the currency collapsed. Yeltsin was forced to resign and the Russian people elected Putin as president. The latter moved quickly to strip the oligarchs of their wealth and jailed them or forced them into exile. The vast majority of the Russian people adored him. They didn’t care if they lost basic freedoms (e.g. of speech, the press and assembly) because it was a better alternative than starvation.

Shock Therapy in Iraq

The Americans applied similar shock therapy during their occupation of Iraq, privatizing all the state owned industries (selling them for a pittance to US investors) and writing a new constitution that allowed foreign companies to expatriate 100% of their profits tax free.

In Iraq, the brutal US occupation would enhance the rise of a radical Islamist movement violently opposed to both western colonization and exploitation and the selfish, hedonistic and morally bankrupt lifestyle that seemed to be the driving force behind US foreign policy.

The US and Britain, in turn, responded to the threat of Islamic terrorism by severely restricting the freedom of their own citizens.

Both Fanon and Berlin Were Wrong

The two conclusions Curtis draws is that 1) both the so-called positive and negative liberty Berlin describes lead to violence and coercion and 2) Berlin was wrong in claiming that all attempts to change the world for better lead to tyranny.

My own perspective is that both Fanon and Berlin are wrong. As educated members of the upper middle class, they both made the mistake of assuming that the working class thinks the same way they do, i.e. that the working class is afflicted to the same extent as the middle class by individualism and competitive self interest.

Both failed to appreciate or understand that working class people share a distinct culture with its own values, language and world view. In fact, the issue of working class culture received little attention in academic circles prior to the 1970s.* Basic to this culture are the loyalty and group allegiance based on shared hardship.

Both are deeply ingrained values stemming from early childhood experience, which makes them difficult to reverse with mass media messaging, no matter how pervasive it is.

This is certainly my experience in working with blue collar families for 33+ years. It’s also born out by working class patterns of charitable giving.**


* Some of the better known authors on working class culture include Lillian Breslow Rubin (Worlds of Pain), Richard Sennett (Hidden Injuries of Class), Jake Ryan and Charles Sackrey (Strangers in Paradise: Academics from the Working Class), and Alfred Lubrano (Limbo: Blue Collar Roots and White Collar Dreams).

**Studies of working class charitable giving:

 

Free link to Part 3: The Trap 3 We_Will_Force_You_To_Be_Free_BBC/

stuartbramhall:

 

 

Tony Blair at it again.

Originally posted on Pride's Purge:

(satire?)

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has urged the UK government to consider military action against Scotland in the event of a vote for independence.

Mr Blair, who was prime minister between 1997 and 2007, broke his silence in the debate over Scottish independence to urge air strikes – including the use of the Trident independent nuclear deterrent – against Scottish strategic targets in the event of a ‘Yes’ victory next Thursday.

Interviewed in Kiev, Mr Blair said on Saturday that he hoped Scots would vote against independence, but warned that if Scotland voted to break up the United Kingdom then military intervention would be inevitable:

Obviously I hope that Scotland votes to stay part of the United Kingdom. But Scotland should prepare itself for a full-scale invasion by ground forces if it doesn’t.

Mr Blair’s comments came just weeks after the former PM called for NATO leaders to agree a joint campaign of targeted…

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