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US runs amok: if only, as Oborne conjectured, Jeremy Corbyn had directed British foreign policy over the past 15 years . . .

Oborne’s question is called to mind as our unrestrainable psychopathic ‘friend’ bombs a hospital run by Médecins Sans Frontières killing 22 people – targetted by a US plane that returned repeatedly to the scene, dropping bombs on a building from which staff and patients were trying to escape.

Extracts from George Monbiot’s Guardian article:

The strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility.” This is how an anonymous Nato spokesperson described Saturday’s disaster in Afghanistan.

The lies and euphemisms add insult to the crime. Nato’s apparent indifference to life and truth could not fail to infuriate, perhaps to radicalise, people who are currently uninvolved in conflict in Afghanistan.

Of course the Taliban, Isis and Al Qaeda not only kill civilians carelessly, but also murder them deliberately. But this surely strengthens, rather than weakens, the need for a demonstration of moral difference.

An analysis published last year by the human rights group Reprieve revealed that attempts by United States forces to blow up 41 men with drone strikes killed 1,147 people. Many were children. Some of the targets remain unharmed, while repeated attempts to kill them have left a trail of shattered bodies and shattered lives. Because the US still does not do body counts, or not in public at any rate, the great majority of such deaths are likely to be unknown to us.

As the analyst Paul Rogers points out, the US Air Force dropped 1800 bombs while helping Kurdish fighters to wrest the town of Kobane in northern Syria from Isis. It used 200 kg bombs to take out single motorbikes.

Sometimes (Ed: always?) this professed battle for civilisation looks more like a clash of barbarisms.

An air force major involved in the bombing enthused that “to be part of something, to go out and stomp those guys out, it was completely overwhelming and exciting”.

Every misdirected bomb, every brutal night raid, every non-combatant killed, every lie and denial and minimisation is a recruitment poster for those with whom the US is at war. For this reason and many others its wars appears to be failing on most fronts. The Taliban is resurgent. Isis, far from being beaten or contained, is growing and spreading: into North Africa, across the Middle East, and in the Caucasus. The more money and munitions the West pours into Syria and Iraq, the stronger the insurgents appear to become.

The US, with Britain’s help, created Isis

By invading Iraq in 2003, destroying its government and infrastructure, dismantling the army and detaining thousands of former soldiers, the US, with Britain’s help, created Isis. Through bombing, it arguably helps to sustain the movement. Everything it touches now turns to dust, either pulverised directly by its drones and bombers, or destroyed through blowback in the political vacuums it creates.

Unstoppable? The obstacles:

  • A vast intelligence and military establishment that no president since Carter has sought to control;
  • the tremendous profits to be made by weapons companies and military contractors and
  • a propaganda machine that portrays these conflicts in the media as necessary and even heroic.

And – Monbiot ends: here comes the UK government, first operating covertly, against the expressed will of parliament, now presenting the authorisation of its bombing in Syria as a test of manhood.

Always clear in his parliamentary strategy, never clear in his military strategy, David Cameron seeks to join another failed intervention that is likely only to enhance the spread of terrorism.

Barbarians clash indeed – both ‘sides’ are abhorrent!


“Has the Government adopted a ‘Kill Policy’ in secret – without Parliamentary debate?

Thanks to a Moseley reader for the two leads.

The Argus reports that MP Caroline Lucas and Jenny Jones (now in the Lords) are calling for answers on whether the Government has formulated a targeted policy and if so, what that policy is, and whether it is legal. Supported by human rights charity Reprieve and law firm Leigh Day, they are highlighting the lack of parliamentary approval for the Government’s adoption of the American style programme.

A Letter Before Action (LBA) was sent to the firm on behalf of the MP and the baroness highlighting a lack of consistency in justifications for the strikes and a lack of transparency.

Caroline Lucas said: “The Government appears to have adopted a ‘Kill Policy’ in secret –without Parliamentary debate or the prospect of proper independent scrutiny.

drone firing missilesSanctioning lethal drone attacks on British citizens is a significant departure from previous policy, as well as potentially unlawful, and it’s deeply concerning that it has occurred without appropriate oversight. By refusing to publish the legal basis for these attacks, the Government has created a legal and accountability vacuum. We need to be able to determine whether the attacks – and what they signify in terms of Government policy – meet the robust conditions set out in international and domestic law.”

us coalition strike kobani syriaUS coalition air-strike on Kobani, Syria

They point out that the war will be carried out with the cruellest, most destructive and strategically most useless of weapons, the airborne bomb which is “now the all-purpose totemic answer to ‘something must be done’.

The futility of such interventions in Iraq, Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq again and Libya is pointed out by Simon Jenkins. He writes:

“There is no evidence of the drones’ strategic effectiveness. The killing of Pashtun militants has done nothing to halt the Taliban’s path back to power in Afghanistan. It has merely replaced possibly moderate elders with tribal hot-heads. Obama’s first drone attack in Yemen killed one al-Qaida suspect, 14 women and 21 children.

children drone killed

“In a six-year period to 2011 an estimated 3,000 innocents were killed in Pakistan alone, including 176 children. Such casual slaughter would have an infantry unit court-martialled and jailed. Drones are immune.

“For the past year, the skies over Syria and Iraq have seen the most devastating deployments of air power in recent times. There have been a reported 6,000 coalition air strikes, manned and unmanned. Some 20,000 bombs have been dropped.

“If ever in the past quarter century there was a clear humanitarian case for intervening to pacify, reorder and restore good governance to a failed state, it must be in Syria. Dropping bombs is politically cosmetic. It is trying to look good to a domestic audience; a cruel delusion, a pretence of humanity, ostentatious, immoral, stupid”.

Corbyn a threat? He would have left the Middle East – and us – in relative peace

David Cameron has claimed that Jeremy Corbyn will be a security threat. Is he referring to economic security – the threat to the arms trade?

american hubris2If peacemakers like Corbyn have their way, the profits which flow to the richest individuals and into Britain and American mainstream party coffers would be decimated – the economic security of arms manufacturers and dealers and sympathetic politicians would be threatened.

Starting with the anger aroused by their illegal Iraq war in 1991, the Anglo-Saxon alliance claims to be more at risk from terrorism than ever – but rising tension and conflict opens profitable avenues.

As Sir Simon Jenkins recently wrote, the West’s last seven wars – in Iraq, former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone and Libya – have ended in disaster; he asks: “Will our messianic leaders ever learn?” But do they want to learn? Their arms companies have made a packet’ (Ed)!

Over the past 15 years, he records that their wars have left an estimated 250,000 people dead, few of whom had any quarrel with the West. It left many more maimed, tortured, impoverished and driven into exile – fear driving mass migrations of peoples into Europe.

Drone strikes damageAnd yet, despite colossal military expense, as Jenkins states, the menace of ISIS in Syria and Iraq is worse than anything posed by the Taliban, Saddam Hussein or Colonel Gaddafi in Libya: “None of the ‘victorious powers’ dare walk the streets in the capitals they claimed to have freed from oppression”.

Revulsion at these policies is leading thousands to sign this open letter to Ban-ki Moon, UN Secretary General – extracts:

  • After 70 years isn’t it time for the United Nations to cease authorizing wars and to make clear to the world that attacks on distant nations are not defensive?
  • The danger lurking in the “responsibility to protect” doctrine must be addressed. Acceptance of murder by armed drone as either non-war or legal war must be decisively rejected.
  • To fulfill its promise, the United Nations must rededicate itself to these words from the U.N. Charter: “All Members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered.”
  • To advance, the United Nations must be democratized so that all people of the world have an equal voice, and no single or small number of wealthy, war-oriented nations dominate the UN’s decisions.

Has this revulsion also been one of the major factors in sweeping Corbyn, a peacemaker, to power?

Media 45: BBC did NOT report US judgement that Ahmad was not ‘interested in or involved with what is commonly known as terrorism’

It has been announced (very quietly) that Babar Ahmad has been released. No reference to the eleven years of solitary confinement and isolation in ten different prisons – or Judge Hall’s favourable assessment of Ahmad’s character and motivation.

babar ahmed2Ahmad, a computer expert from London, spent eight years in British custody without charge.

In a 2012 press release, campaigners seeking the release of Babar Ahmad recorded that nine years ago , officers from the Metropolitan Police broke down the door of Babar Ahmad’s house in a pre-dawn anti-terror raid.

Despite the Commissioner for the Metropolitan Police admitting in the High Court that his officers also carried out “a serious, gratuitous and prolonged attack” on Babar in the manner he described, a jury found all four officers charged with the assault ‘not guilty’.

He was then extradited to the US which claimed Ahmad’s alleged crimes fell under their jurisdiction because a website he ran in support of the Afghan Taliban used a server based in the US.

From the 171 page transcript of the judgment – making several other points – well worth reading:

Judge Janet Hall said in her ruling “There was never any aid given by these defendants to effectuate a plot. By plot, I mean a terrorist plot …neither of these two defendants were interested in what is commonly known as terrorism . . .

“This is not an operational case. I believe the government agrees that there were never any plots even discussed by these defendants. There was never any aid given by these defendants to effectuate a plot. By plot, I mean a terrorist plot. A plot to go out and purposely harm civilians.

What these defendants did is that they gave material support, or they sought to raise and get material support, they wanted material support to flow to the Taliban at a time when the Taliban was protecting Osama bin Laden”.

Her investigation was hampered, as she said in her ruling:

“There either are no transcripts or the transcripts were not turned over for various security reasons, or because the UK government wouldn’t turn them over to the United States, and they, therefore, could not turn them over to the defense.

“What we do have, and which the government properly turned over given they finally got access to them, are the summaries by law enforcement of what was said by this witness in various debriefings”.

In Judge Hall’s summing up:        

Janet_Hall judge“I should find first that Mr. Ahmad has no criminal history personally. He has never been convicted of a crime. But the guidelines call for him to be treated as if he’s in a Category VI, which typically is a person who has committed, at a minimum, three and up, could be more, serious felonies . . .

“I don’t think it’s right to act on what I would call an unfounded fear that a defendant might do something, like a terrorist act, and therefore we should just lock that person up forever . . .

“Maybe I’m influenced by the fact that I believe that at various times, the U.S. supported the rebels against the Russians in Chechnya, that we spoke about how the Chechens were not terrorists at the time they were trying to expel the Russians, which is the time that Mr. Ahmad was doing what he was doing on the web with respect to Chechnya.

“There’s nothing on the web to extol the terrorist acts that the splinter group engaged in in ’03. And I don’t find that Al-Qaida was any part of the Chechen rebels”.