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Was Foley’s head really cut off? Hard to tell. We have been fed so much fake government war propaganda in recent decades – from Kuwaiti babies thrown from incubators to Saddam’s hidden nukes – that we must be very cautious.
James Foley was either a very unlucky journalist or is a very lucky government agent according to reporter, Eric Margolis.
I'd like to think that he's alive as the video I saw did not look real and seemed too staged and emotionless to be a real-time event.
We won't know for sure until his body is delivered home to his anguished parents.
The horror, however, forever ongoing it now seems in Iraq is far worse than one man's death.
By Eric Margolis
August 23, 2014
The alleged beheading of freelance journalist James Foley by the shadowy ISIS (or Islamic State) has sparked outrage and horror around the globe.
I say “alleged” because we are not sure if the decapitation was real or faked.
After three decades of covering wars in the Mideast, Africa, Latin America, and Afghanistan, my reaction as a journalist was also outrage – but cautious outrage.
We westerners have a charming and quaint belief that killing people from the air by using bombs, rockets, shells, napalm and cluster munitions – or even nuclear weapons – is somehow not really as bad as ramming a bayonet into an enemy, blowing him to pieces with heavy artillery, or slashing his throat the way sheep are killed.
Air warfare is clean. Air warfare is the American way of war.
Furthermore, on the same day Foley was allegedly being decapitated, 19 people in Saudi Arabia, a close US ally, were publicly beheaded for various crimes. One of the men was executed for witchcraft.
There was no outcry at all over this medieval horror. Saudi Arabia is suspected of charging political opponents of the monarchy with drug offenses, which carry the penalty of beheading by a sword-wielding executioner. Not a peep about this in the US media trumpeting the Foley story.
I’ve long travelled the same road as this courageous young man and countless other field journalists, covering extremely dangerous places all on my own, with no backup or support system. It’s very lonely and often demoralizing work.
When I was in the southern Angola bush covering pro-western UNITA forces fighting the Soviet-backed Angolan Marxists, I accepted the risk of being killed. But what, I asked myself, would I do if wounded or become desperately ill? The answer: crawl out 200 kms to South African Army lines.
As I relate in my book War at the Top of the World, I had to run Afghanistan’s Khyber Pass at night in a Toyota Land Cruiser, headlights off, pistol in hand, dodging roadblocks raised by Afridi tribesmen hired by the Communist regime in Kabul to kidnap me. Had I been taken, I would have been thrown into a 10-meter deep hole in the ground filled with snakes and ferocious biting insects until transferred to be tortured and likely killed in Kabul.
In this and a score of other hair-raising adventures in scary places like Syria, Albania, Kashmir, Iraq, Libya, or Burma, no one would have been able to get me out if I was jailed. No one really cared because I was on my own, working for numerous newspapers. Even al-Jazeera can’t get its jailed journalists out of Egypt.
Newspapers used me, and other young, reckless beginner journalists like Foley, to cover the really dangerous places. No medical or pension coverage for us: we were expendable.
I was usually more scared of dieases like hepatitis or meningitis than of bullets.
Meanwhile, pampered correspondents from the TV networks reported from four-star hotels, surrounded by a support staff and gophers.
Was Foley’s head really cut off? Hard to tell. We have been fed so much fake government war propaganda in recent decades – from Kuwaiti babies thrown from incubators to Saddam’s hidden nukes – that we must be very cautious.
Look at the horrifying pictures of victims from Gaza: babies with heads blow open and bodies torn into pieces by heavy 155mm shells. What’s the difference between this and a decapitation? Only distance between killer and victim.
Of course I’m outraged that any journalist would be kidnapped and held for ransom, a specialty of ISIS and other jihadist gangs in the Sahara region. Europe has paid ransom and got many of its hostages back.
The US apparently refuses to do so. “We’ll never deal with terrorists,” goes Washington’s mantra, though it deals with plenty of terrorist governments.
Problem is, any group today that opposes the US abroad is likely to be branded terrorists. No wonder terrorists are popping up everywhere.
Having myself come close to being taken hostage, I would have hoped to have been ransomed in the event I was captured. That seems a more civilized and effective way to deal with hostage takers and bandits, distasteful as it may be.
And yes, paying ransom will encourage more kidnappings. Hobson’s choice. But I prefer bad choices that have happy endings.
Democracies should not allow themselves to be provoked by malefactors. But that’s just what ISIS members are now doing by mounting its video horror show. We must ask, why? Why are they trying to goad the US into broader and deeper military intervention into Iraq and Syria, where they live?
Could it be part of Osama bin Laden’s clearly expressed plan to drive the US out of the Mideast by luring it into a number of small wars, slowly bleeding the American colossus? So far, by invading Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, and parts of Pakistan, the US may have stumbled right into Osama’s carefully laid trap.
Or is the orchestrated outrage over Foley the media prelude to direct US intervention in Syria where the jihadists backed by Washington are losing.
It’s all very confusing. In Iraq, ISIS are demon terrorists. But across the border in Syria, they are on our side, fighting against the “terrorist” regime of Basher Assad.
We are tripping over our terrorists. Osama must be smiling.
As well as the whole brigade of NeoCons.
Al-Qaeda in Iraq? Something that would only happen after the American Invasion of 2003.
So carefully planned by such cautious strategians.
Many of us said it at the time: It doesn't matter how the war against Iraq ends up, the Neocons' dream-come-true of perpetuating total and permanently ongoing (defense-budget-skyrocketing) war in the Middle East will have been achieved.*
Thus, it was worth every lie they told to start it.
And after the lies were exposed, and the wasted lives and dollars recounted mournfully by the media mavens (including the political leaders), no blame could ever be allowed to be personally assessed because the purpose of it all . . . was to continue.
And it has.
Soon, more medals will be awarded to these architects.
George Tennant was merely the first poster boy of American War Madness - 21st Century.
The simple fact is that the Iraq War was a smashing success – at least for the neocons – because it smashed the keystone in the arch of the region’s stability. By removing Saddam Hussein, his government and the Republican Guard, neocons removed a bulwark against the very jihadism that has policymakers and pundits forever wringing their hands raw, military contractors ringing their cash registers, and the denizens of the national security state resting assured under a blanket of secrecy.Read the whole essay here and below.
Considering the persistent ubiquity of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf, their growing presence around the Horn of Africa and extension into Sub-Saharan Africa, Wolfowitz’s declaration of victory may not be ironic or delusional; it may have some measure of truth – at least from his perspective – but for a reason most would not consider victorious.
That “victory” achieved something the neocons could only dream of during a fitful slumber brought on by counting the media’s sheep, i.e., a permanent war in the Middle East.
* Drone warfare in 8+ nations, 3 coups, regime change in Libya, Ukraine, Mali, Honduras, Iraq, Egypt, Sudan (forming South Sudan, more chaos created by US government).
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
From left: former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and President George W. Bush. (Photo: Dept. of Defense)
Neocons do like to declare victory, especially regarding the Iraq War. So it came as no surprise that Paul Wolfowitz, apparently unimpressed by Iraq’s mounting crisis, regaled a recent panel discussion at the U.S.-Africa Summit with the blunt proclamation, “We have won it — in 2009.” Unsurprisingly, that’s when Team Bush left the White House — and approximately 150,000 troops behind in Iraq.
Perhaps also not surprisingly, war-weary Americans didn’t pay much attention to Paul’s pronouncement. No doubt they are as tired of Wolfowitz as they are of the war he helped to start. It probably rang as hollow as the faint echo of his earlier pitch for a quick, all-expenses-paid war against 2003’s Hitler of the Moment — Saddam Hussein.
But it’s not quite as simple as that. The issue got more complicated shortly after the Africa summit when President Barack Obama — who had pinned his legacy on extricating the United States from Iraq — suddenly found himself at a podium to announce limited, but open-ended military action to halt the dreaded march of The Islamic State (often called ISIS or ISIL) through the repeatedly rocked Cradle of Civilization.
Many have explained the organization’s plan for creating a fundamentalist caliphate and its reliance on shockingly brutal tactics that make ISIS something that even al-Qaeda could never be, nor perhaps ever wanted to be. Many others have prodded the dying corpse of Iraq to assign blame here, there and everywhere. But the most basic reason for more bombing is found right there in the self-aggrandizing quip by Paul Wolfowitz.
The simple fact is that the Iraq War was a smashing success – at least for the neocons – because it smashed the keystone in the arch of the region’s stability. By removing Saddam Hussein, his government and the Republican Guard, neocons removed a bulwark against the very jihadism that has policymakers and pundits forever wringing their hands raw, military contractors ringing their cash registers, and the denizens of the national security state resting assured under a blanket of secrecy.
Considering the persistent ubiquity of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf, their growing presence around the Horn of Africa and extension into Sub-Saharan Africa, Wolfowitz’s declaration of victory may not be ironic or delusional; it may have some measure of truth – at least from his perspective – but for a reason most would not consider victorious. That “victory” achieved something the neocons could only dream of during a fitful slumber brought on by counting the media’s sheep, i.e. a permanent war in the Middle East.
No Walking Away
The Iraq War made it functionally impossible for the United States to ever fully walk away from Iraq, the Persian Gulf or anywhere Muslims and oil mix. And for Wolfowitz, Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and William Kristol, it’s a dream come true. Regime change in Iraq created a power vacuum that was and is too strong to resist.
In fact, that vacuum allowed a wandering Jordanian jihadist named Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his group of international also-rans to run amok in the chaos of post-Saddam Iraq. After a series of suicide attacks and a pledge to al-Qaeda, the anti-Shi’ite, anti-American, anti-almost-everything group became “al-Qaeda in Iraq,” and, as Bobby Ghosh explains, eventually metastasized into ISIS.
ISIS’s regional road show took off after Zarqawi was killed in June 2006 and a tenuous stability was literally bought by the U.S. during the Sunni Awakening and the much-ballyhooed Surge.
The Sunni Awakening was a cash-incentivized purchase of cooperation from just enough angry Iraqis to force interlopers and internecine adversaries to retreat, retool or retire.
And that cash made it safe to hang the trappings of democracy over a vacuum that would eventually suck America back in again. And did it ever suck.
Although Team Obama was content to let ISIS grow in war-torn Syria’s radicalized incubator, ISIS’s unimpeded advance onto the doorstep of Erbil — the shining oil metropolis at the heart of the Kurdish semi-state — could not be tolerated.
While Chevron and ExxonMobil evacuated employees, Obama sent in tactical assistance for the Yazidi religious minority trapped on a mountain. While the humanitarian crisis and looming “genocide” came and went quickly — perhaps a little too quickly for credulity’s sake — the all-too predictable chaos unleashed by the legacy of regime change and left behind by a legacy-minded Obama made this latest action almost inevitable.
Hillary Clinton’s Protests
Alas, the policy of regime change has been replicated — with many thanks to the “stupid stuff” both Obama and Hillary Clinton have done in Libya and Syria. After having wrung the traditional idea of diplomacy out of the State Department – i.e. advancing your country’s interests without warfare – Hillary has climbed atop a growing stack of her unsold books so everyone can hear some classic Clintonian “triangulation” and pre-election posturing.
It’s still early. Maybe she can create distance between herself, her former boss and her rumored, if perpetually disproved, ideals.
Since Obama didn’t go as far as Hillary now says she wanted to go in smashing Syria, it’s even more likely that she played a significant role sucking two more secular regimes down the jihadist rabbit hole, Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya and Bashar al-Assad’s Syria (although “regime change” has come up a little short in Damascus).
True enough, some Syrian rebels were only helped covertly through her State Department’s Conflict Bureau (and the CIA) and, although never officially linked to the U.S., through Libyan weapons transferred to the fight against Assad, another Hitler du jour, reportedly via a little-known port at a place called Benghazi.
But now there is little doubt Clinton was present at the creation of yet more reasons for Muslim radicals to organize and arm themselves against U.S. aims, allies and proxies — from drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan to Muslim persecution after the “foreign policy success” of Myanmar.
However, the Mother of All Sucking Sounds is still the powerful vacuum created by destroying an entire country under false pretenses. That Iraq vacuum sucked trillions of dollars out of the U.S. Treasury, sucked hundreds of thousands of Americans into a vortex of deployments and redeployments, and created the impetus for millions of Muslims around the world to quite rightly think that they were being targeted by America.
As if decades of dances with dictators and America’s oil-slicked machinations weren’t enough evidence, the neocon agenda for Rebuilding America’s Defenses established once and for all through facts on their sandy ground, through pictures from Abu Ghraib and with extrajudicial imprisonment at Gitmo that Muslims make easy targets (in more ways than one).
Perhaps by taking out a contract on Saddam’s uncooperative regime, they were, in effect, taking out a “bridge loan” for their corporate sponsors until another wave of neocon-men and con-women could breathe life into the long-since dead Cold War with their chess moves in Ukraine. But the real action was and is still at the “other” Ground Zero — in Iraq and around the oil-enriched Persian Gulf.
The bait-and-switch of 9/11 for Saddam, of Colin Powell’s show-stopping vial of fake anthrax for actual evidence of chemical weapons, of aluminum tubes as proof for non-existent nuclear centrifuges — it all set a trap that, in the final analysis, America cannot really free itself from, no matter how rabidly Uncle Sam gnaws at the exposed bone of his blood-soaked leg.
Unbloodied and Unbowed
And somehow, the planners of the Great Remaking of the Middle East have been surprisingly unbowed in spite of the colossal failures and the supposed “blunder” of a strategy gone wrong.
Their lack of penance has made them the butt of jokes, but the joke may be on us.
These were not stupid men. They knew that the only way to keep their version of “the peace” was to keep America trapped in Middle East wars in perpetuity. They planned on it.
Sure, Obama’s pull-out provided momentary relief from the trap, but with each passing month the death and destruction and body count mounted in a “free” and “democratic” Iraq until it predictably collapsed upon itself, unable to make whole what American indifference to facts, law and human life tore asunder.
Now that vacuum has sucked in the detritus of his Obama administration’s own failed policy of regime changes. In Syria and in Libya and, somewhere outside the news media’s bubble, in Yemen, a supposedly feckless Obama has played the same damnable game with the targeted “smashing” of drones, airstrikes and anti-terrorism initiatives.
Meanwhile, the result of illegally smashing Iraq still speaks for itself. So maybe, just maybe, Wolfowitz is, technically speaking, correct when he said “we won.”
The problem is that the “we” is not America or even most Americans.
The “we” is the quirky cabal of desk jockeys, chicken-hawks and Sunday showmen who, through their interconnected web of think tanks and political appointments and corporate connections, ensnared the United States into a conflagration that is beginning its second act.
And if the U.S. somehow avoids getting sucked into a long-term battle against disaffected, dislocated and disenfranchised Muslims? Cold War 2.0 ensures that the perpetual machine designed to continually “rebuild” America’s defenses has a never-ending supply of financial fuel and antagonistic grist for its multi-generational mill.
Either way, the neocon mission has truly been accomplished.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _
The National Guard Protects Ferguson's Police, Not Its People...
Deep Justice in Ferguson
Robert C. Koehler
The Double Identity of an "Anti-Semitic" Commenter
. . . how the “oxymoronic” term “majority-minority” is another “clear indicator” of how white people continue to perceive themselves as a “majority” even when statistically they no longer are, in many respects. Public education, in particular, is now one of those “majority-minority” arenas. As numerous recent reports have recently conveyed, this new school year will be the first in which white students are no longer a majority in public schools.
Why I Oppose Anti-Semitism
By Pam Martens and Russ Martens
August 20, 2014
According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word cartel can mean either businesses that seek to restrict competition or a coalition “intended to promote a mutual interest.” Under at least the second definition, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, a key regulator of the biggest Wall Street banks’ holding companies, has been sponsoring (yes, sponsoring) a cartel for decades.
To grasp the sheer insanity of what the New York Fed is doing, imagine going to the Securities and Exchange Commission’s web site (another Wall Street regulator) and finding that it has loaned out its web site and its imprimatur to multiple Wall Street cartels writing their own rules of conduct. It sounds Orwellian doesn’t it.
And yet this is the web site address for the New York Fed-sponsored Foreign Exchange Committee: http://www.newyorkfed.org/fxc/ which has been operating for the past 36 years and whose three key members, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Morgan Stanley, are likely to be charged this fall, according to press reports, with involvement in rigging the very foreign exchange market they are engaged in writing best practices for under sponsorship by the New York Fed.
According to the current member list at the New York Fed’s Foreign Exchange Committee’s web site, Troy Rohrbaugh of JPMorgan Chase chairs the group; Senad Prusac of Morgan Stanley is a member as is Jose Luis Yepez of Citigroup.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but JPMorgan Chase is currently on a two-year probation (deferred prosecution agreement) imposed by the U.S. Justice Department for committing two felonies in aiding and abetting the Bernie Madoff fraud over decades. Should it be involved in writing best practices for, uh…anything?
But it gets worse. The lawyers that will likely be involved in defending the Wall Street banks and or discussing settlements with the Federal Reserve over rigging the foreign exchange markets have their own sponsored wing of the New York Fed. It’s called the Financial Markets Lawyers Group and its web site, an extension of the New York Fed’s web site, is http://www.newyorkfed.org/fmlg/
Included among the current members of the Financial Markets Lawyers Group are: Lisa A. Shemie, Executive Director and Assistant General Counsel, JPMorgan Chase; Maria Douvas-Orme, Managing Director, Morgan Stanley; and Robert F. Klein, Managing Director and Counsel, Citigroup Global Markets – all firms implicated in foreign exchange market rigging.
In its first annual report for 1979, the Foreign Exchange Committee wrote:
“A year ago, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York announced that, in response to urging of bankers in the U.S. foreign exchange community, it would sponsor the establishment of a Foreign Exchange Committee…
“To some extent, this first year was one in which the Committee worked out its specific procedures and established working relationships with the other institutions that take an interest in the foreign exchange and international money markets.” [Italics have been added because under anti-trust law it is typically considered illegal to have “working relationships” with competitors involved in the same market.]
Among the charges that will likely be brought by regulators this fall is that foreign exchange traders from multiple banks had “working relationships” with competitors where they rigged markets in chat rooms or instant-message groups that they named “The Cartel” and “The Bandits Club.”
In August 1976, the Committee on Banking, Currency and Housing released a report titled: Federal Reserve Directors: A Study of Corporate and Banking Influence. The report drills down to the core of the ongoing problem today:
“The big business and banking dominance of the Federal Reserve System cited in this report can be traced, in part, to the original Federal Reserve Act, which gave member commercial banks the right to select two-thirds of the directors of each district bank. But the Board of Governors in Washington must share the responsibility for this imbalance. They appoint the so-called ‘public’ members of the boards of each district bank, appointments which have largely reflected the same narrow interests of the bank-elected members. The parochial nature of the boards affects the public interest across a wide area, ranging from monetary policy to bank regulation. These are the directors, for example, who initially select the presidents of the 12 district banks—officials who serve on the Federal Open Market Committee, determining the nation’s money supply and the level of economic activity. The selection of these public officials, with such broad and essential policymaking powers, should not be in the hands of boards of directors selected and dominated by private banking and corporate interests.”
On January 15 of this year, the New York Fed formally chartered a new cartel – the Treasury Market Practices Group. The charter reads:
“The Treasury Market Practices Group (‘TMPG’ or the ‘Group’) is a private-sector organization sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The TMPG is a group of market professionals committed to supporting the integrity and efficiency of the Treasury, agency debt, and agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS) markets. The TMPG is composed of senior business managers and legal and compliance professionals from a variety of institutions.”
The TMPG has been functioning for some time. Just when it came under the New York Fed’s sponsorship is unclear. Its current members include executives from JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Citigroup.
Is the New York Fed Too Deeply Conflicted to Regulate Wall Street?
New York Fed’s Strange New Role: Big Bank Equity Analyst
As Criminal Probes of JPMorgan Expand, Documents Surface Showing JPMorgan Paid $190,000 Annually to Spouse of the Bank’s Top Regulator
At Last We Know the Real Purpose of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York: It’s a Confessional for Traders Gone Rogue