Sunday, February 28, 2016

Stuff worth a read

Peter Koenig at MyCatbirdSeat
Syria – Peace Talks and an Empire Running Amok 

Constant western-biased anti-Russia, anti-Assad propaganda is not offering the friendly neutral environment needed to talk seriously about peace.
February in Geneva. It is utterly frustrating living the daily lie and slander propaganda against Russia and against President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, of this ‘neutral’ country, Switzerland, where soon peace talks are expected to begin. The UN hub in Geneva has in the past often served for peace negotiations, for mediation talks, but also failed more often than not, always when the American interests were not accommodated by an agreement.

How could it be different in the case of Syria? – Switzerland, like Brussels, has become the epicentre of European neoliberal politics with a broadcast system emitting half-hourly Putin and Assad bashing news.........
The first being labelled as a human rights abuser responsible for the Ukrainian war, for the ‘annexation’ of Crimea, for thousands of Syrian deaths and tens of thousands of refugees, as a result of Russia bombarding Syria; refugees stranded and starving at the Turkish border and eventually invading Europe. Mr. Assad is being called a ferocious dictator, who does not shy from killing his own people and has to be removed for the good of the world. There is constant talk about a ‘transition government’, meaning without Mr. Assad, not even remotely considering that Syria is a sovereign nation, and that the Syrian people should have a say in who will be their president – and not at all foreign forces, who are responsible for the criminal massacres and war in the first place.

Mr. Assad and his secular Arab Socialist Ba’ath party is indeed not convenient for the neo-colonial interests of the west. Never mind that he had been re-elected with more than 80% majority by Syrians, just about 20 months ago. Mr. Gadaffi, who intended with the riches of Libya to free Africa from the continuous ....

Stephen Kinzer at BostonGlobe
The media are misleading the public on Syria

Coverage of the Syrian war will be remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the American press. Reporting about carnage in the ancient city of Aleppo is the latest reason why.

For three years, violent militants have run Aleppo. Their rule began with a wave of repression. They posted notices warning residents: “Don’t send your children to school. If you do, we will get the backpack and you will get the coffin.” Then they destroyed factories, hoping that unemployed workers would have no recourse other than to become fighters. They trucked looted machinery to Turkey and sold it.
This month, people in Aleppo have finally seen glimmers of hope. The Syrian army and its allies have been pushing militants out of the city. Last week they reclaimed the main power plant. Regular electricity may soon be restored. The militants’ hold on the city could be ending.......

....Americans are being told that the virtuous course in Syria is to fight the Assad regime and its Russian and Iranian partners. We are supposed to hope that a righteous coalition of Americans, Turks, Saudis, Kurds, and the “moderate opposition” will win.

This is convoluted nonsense, but Americans cannot be blamed for believing it. We have almost no real information about the combatants, their goals, or their tactics. Much blame for this lies with our media.

Under intense financial pressure, most American newspapers, magazines, and broadcast networks have drastically reduced their corps of foreign correspondents. Much important news about the world now comes from reporters based in Washington. In that environment, access and credibility depend on acceptance of official paradigms. Reporters who cover Syria check with the Pentagon, the State Department, the White House, and think tank “experts.” After a spin on that soiled carousel, they feel they have covered all sides of the story. This form of stenography produces the pabulum that passes for news about Syria.....

....Reporters who cover Syria check with the Pentagon, the State Department, the White House, and think tank “experts.” After a spin on that soiled carousel, they feel they have covered all sides of the story. This form of stenography produces the pabulum that passes for news about Syria....

From The Burning Platform:
....It appears there is an existential shortage of paint, hammers, garbage bags,
wedding rings, and employed upstanding men taking responsibility for the children they father in West Philly. There is plenty of yellow crime scene tape, as West Philly accounts for a significant portion of Philadelphia’s 280 annual murders (up 13% in 2015). Houses originally well built in the 1950s and with some upkeep would still be fine homes, are in disrepair, with collapsing porches, dilapidated gutters and roofs, crumbling sidewalks, boarded up windows, and satellite dishes on every one. The lucky end units usually have a mural of black people doing great things, with trash, garbage and overgrown weeds underneath and black people not doing great things shuffling along the streets.....

As you witness the crumbling infrastructure of West Philly, with water mains bursting on a regular basis, streets sinking, houses falling down during heavy rainstorms, boarded up rat infested hovels housing drug addicts, and schools resembling prisons, it leaves you pondering how it came to this and why the fifty year War on Poverty left the people in these neighborhoods mover impoverished. I don’t blame the people stuck living in West Philly. I blame the corrupt politicians who have run the city for the last sixty years.

Liberal solutions based upon welfare handouts, union government workers, idiotic solutions sold by slimy politicians and high taxes have combined to create a morass of uneducated, unmotivated, unmarried people who live in squalor created by the very politicians they have been voting for over the last six decades. The city has been under the complete control of the Democratic Party the entire time.....

Robert F Kennedy,Jr. at Politico
In part because my father was murdered by an Arab,
I've made an effort to understand the impact of U.S. policy in the Mideast and particularly the factors that sometimes motivate bloodthirsty responses from the Islamic world against our country. As we focus on the rise of the Islamic State and search for the source of the savagery that took so many innocent lives in Paris and San Bernardino, we might want to look beyond the convenient explanations of religion and ideology. Instead we should examine the more complex rationales of history and oil—and how they often point the finger of blame back at our own shores.

America’s unsavory record of violent interventions in Syria—little-known to the American people yet well-known to Syrians—sowed fertile ground for the violent Islamic jihadism that now complicates any effective response by our government to address the challenge of ISIL. So long as the American public and policymakers are unaware of this past, further interventions are likely only to compound the crisis. Secretary of State John Kerry this week announced a “provisional” ceasefire in Syria. But since U.S. leverage and prestige within Syria is minimal—and the ceasefire doesn’t include key combatants such as Islamic State and al Nusra--it’s bound to be a shaky truce at best. Similarly President Obama’s stepped-up military intervention in Libya—U.S. airstrikes targeted an Islamic State training camp last week—is likely to strengthen rather than weaken the radicals. As the New York Times reported in a December 8, 2015, front-page story, Islamic State political leaders and strategic planners are working to provoke an American military intervention. They know from experience this will flood their ranks with volunteer fighters, drown the voices of moderation and unify the Islamic world against America.

To understand this dynamic, we need to look at history from the Syrians’ perspective and particularly the seeds of the current conflict. Long before our 2003 occupation of Iraq triggered the Sunni uprising that has now morphed into the Islamic State, the CIA had....

Jonathan Marshall at ConsortiumNews
Exclusive: The Obama administration, eager to assuage
 Saudi Arabia’s anger over the Iran nuclear deal and the failure to achieve “regime change” in Syria, has turned a blind eye to Riyadh’s savaging of Yemen, even though that is helping Al Qaeda militants expand their territory, writes Jonathan Marshall.

By Jonathan Marshall
For nearly a year, the Obama administration has turned a blind eye to the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen since Saudi Arabia invaded in March 2015 to crush an Iranian-supported insurgency and restore a discredited former president to power. But Washington cannot so easily ignore the rapid resurgence of a dangerous branch of Al Qaeda that is thriving on the chaos to take control of much of southern Yemen.

The war between indigenous Houthi rebels and Saudi-backed supporters of former President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi has cost more than 6,000 lives and caused more than 35,000 casualties.
What a United Nations report called “widespread and systematic” attacks against civilians by Saudi and Gulf emirate pilots, armed with U.S.-made aircraft and cluster bombs that are banned by international treaty, account for the bulk of civilian deaths and for the wholesale destruction of ancient cities and cultural centers.

In addition, a Saudi-imposed blockade on Yemen, supported by Washington, has allowed only a trickle ....

Patrick L Smith at Salon
This is how we spooked Putin:
What the New York Times won’t tell you about the American adventure in Ukraine
The failure of Washington’s most adventurous power assertion in post-Cold War period can no longer be papered over ....

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