Although this is somewhat off topic, nevertheless, Buncrana Together will print articles which need to be seen. None more so than the articles below which dwell on what has been happening and continues to happen in the Middle east.
The articles are taken from Mick Wallace TD web page and Counterpunch Volume 8, which you may be able to view here on Issuu.com. Somehow the articles are cathartic. Although the annihilation of people and countries is utterly depressing, making us feel a sense of hopelessness, however, through the bravery and tenacity of some people, like these authors, we can gain knowledge and insight and in so doing we will see that there are things that we can do.
The first thing is open our minds to the facts and read these articles. Another simple thing we can do is ask all the prospective candidates in the forthcoming election what they intend to do. Ask them exactly what Mick Wallace is asking the Irish Government.
There is a European Council meeting next week, so there was speaking time allotted in the Dáil chamber, this week, giving members an opportunity to challenge the Government on issues which are likely to be discussed. I addressed the ongoing refugee crisis, and the causes of same, which our Government have a strong tendency to ignore. No rational person is going to believe that the Government really care about the refugees, as long as we continue to allow the US Military use Shannon airport as a Military air base, to facilitate their endless wars, bombing the homes and villages of innocent civilians, making refugees of them. The arms business is now one of the biggest industries in the world, and it has developed into a self-perpetuating business, which cares nothing for the lives and communities they destroy, as long as they continue to improve their profit margins. And sadly, the Irish Government is complicit. Here’s my short 3 minute Dáil contribution + video of same. -
“When the Minister of State, Deputy Dara Murphy, and his colleagues are in Europe, they might remind the various European leaders that things are getting worse rather than better. I have seldom seen as little opposition in Europe to the militarisation of the Middle East and beyond. All of them seem almost to have bought into the philosophy that this is the way things are done now. France and Britain were initially pretty reluctant to take in refugees. Obviously, they and many others, including ourselves, have been shamed into it by Germany at this stage. They actually want to bomb Syria now, as if that is going to improve things. It is bad enough that the Russians have started. The whole thing is getting worse. They are all engaged in mindless nonsense. The devastation is incredible. George Monbiot described it accurately in The Guardian today:
There are no simple solutions to the chaos and complexities western firepower has helped to unleash, though a good start would be to stop making them worse. But a vast intelligence and military establishment that no president since Jimmy Carter has sought to control, the tremendous profits to be made by weapons companies and military contractors, portrayals of these conflicts in the media that serve only to confuse and bamboozle: they all help to ensure that armed escalation, however pointless and counter-productive, appears unstoppable.
He also refers to NATO's description of the bombing of the hospital in Kunduz:
"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. Let's translate it into English. "We bombed a hospital, killing 22 people." But "people", "hospital" and "bomb", let alone "we": all such words are banned from Nato's lexicon.
The plane came back repeatedly to bomb the people trying to escape from the building. We are sitting at the table with these people. We have troops from our Defence Forces over there. Seven Irish defence personnel are working with these fellows in Afghanistan. What is wrong with us? This is a war crime. We have been told that the Americans are going to do an internal investigation. I suggest that is like getting the fox to investigate a raid on the chicken house. Can the Minister of State and his colleagues start calling the truth the truth and challenging war crime when they see it?"
Below Mick Wallace TD discussing the bombing of Yemen and use of Shannon airport by US military planes in the Dail Oct. 2015
Meurtriers sans Frontières
By Chris Floyd
When I heard of the deadly U.S. strike on the Médecins Sans Frontières facility in Kunduz on October 3, I thought of this fragment of ancient history, written by a lowly scribe years ago:
“One of the first moves in this magnificent feat of arms was the destruction and capture of medical centers. Twenty doctors—and their patients, including women and children—were killed in an airstrike on one major clinic, the UN Information Service reports, while the city’s main hospital was seized in the early hours of the ground assault. Why? Because these places of healing could be used as ‘propaganda centers,’ the Pentagon’s ‘information warfare’ specialists told the NY Times. Unlike the first attack on Fallujah last spring, there was to be no unseemly footage of gutted children bleeding to death on hospital beds.”
The attack on the MSF facility might well be an unintended consequence of the “fog of war,” as the Americans claim. (Although just before the strike, Pentagon massagers were opining to their media mouthpieces how awful the Russians were for bombing Syria without the super-duper-ultra-advanced “precision” technology and high-tech intelligence that the USA uses. So why did they strike the Kunduz hospital, having been carefully and continually informed of its location beforehand? And why did they keep bombing even after they’d been told of the supposed error?
But whatever happened in Kunduz, America’s Terror Warriors certainly have form, as the Brits say, when it comes to deliberately targeting medical centers. The passage above was from a column I wrote in 2004 about one of the most brazen war crimes of the 21st century: America’s decimation of Fallujah in Iraq. The city was marked for destruction after four mercenaries were killed there in the early days of the occupation. The incident was depicted as an act of pure evil by the brutal natives; left unreported in almost every story was the fact that the occupying forces had slaughtered more than a dozen civilians before the reprisal against the mercenaries. An initial punishment assault against the city failed, partly due to the bad PR generated by footage of the horrific civilian casualties, and US forces backed off for a few months. But just after the 2004 election, the Pentagon gave their warrior chief, George Bush, a human sacrifice to celebrate his victory, and launched their second attack on the city. As I noted at the time:
“So while Americans saw stories of rugged ‘Marlboro Men’ winning the day against Satan, they were spared shots of engineers cutting off water and electricity to the city—a flagrant war crime under the Geneva Conventions, as CounterPunch notes, but standard practice throughout the occupation. Nor did pictures of attack helicopters gunning down civilians trying to escape across the Euphrates River—including a family of five—make the TV news, despite the eyewitness account of an AP journalist. Nor were tender American sensibilities subjected to the sight of phosphorous shells bathing enemy fighters—and nearby civilians – with unquenchable chemical fire, literally melting their skin, as the Washington Post reports. Nor did they see the fetus being blown out of the body of Artica Salim when her home was bombed during the ‘softening-up attacks’ that raged relentlessly – and unnoticed – in the closing days of George W. Bush’s presidential campaign, the Scotland Sunday Herald reports.”
I don’t know if the carnage in Kunduz was “collateral” or, as in Fallujah, carefully planned. But in many ways, it doesn’t matter. Since the days when Jimmy Carter joined his Saudi allies in creating the worldwide network of violent jihadis, through the expansion of extremist jihad by Ronald Reagan (who called the extremists “the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers”) and the systematic campaign to destroy secular governments throughout the Muslim world and empower violent sectarians (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc.) to fill the vacuum, the bipartisan military imperialists in charge of the American state bear the responsibility for an untold—and ever-growing —number of atrocities, committed on every side. Without the invasion of Iraq, no ISIS. Without America’s arming of a global jihad movement to overthrow the secular government in Afghanistan, no al Qaeda. Without 70 years of American protection of the pushers of the most violent, extremist, retro grade off-shoot of Islam, the corrupt Saudi tyrants—coupled with 70 years of America’s relentless destruction and undermining of every single non-sectarian political movement in the Middle East in favor of tyrants, satraps and puppets—no worldwide “radicalization” of repressed and threatened Muslims. But don’t get me wrong: I don’t want to be seen as part of the “Blame America First” crowd on this. I don’t hold with such a reductive stance, especially in the face of the vast complexities and nuances of geopolitics. No, when it comes to fixing the primary guilt for the dark thunderclouds of fear, war, madness, extremism, instability, tyranny and chaos that loom over our time, I don’t “blame America first.” I blame America first, second, third, fourth, fifth and last. And I damn the bipartisan leaders who have made this so.
Grasping at Straws. The Peace Plan You’ve Never Heard Of
By Mike Whitney
Russian President Vladimir Putin has made every effort to de-escalate tensions in Syria and to find a reasonable way to end the hostilities. What he opposes now, and what he has rejected from the very beginning, is removing Syrian President Bashar al Assad through force-of-arms. On this point, Putin remains inflexible. As he stated in a recent interview with Charlie Rose, “At no time in the past or in the future will Russia take part in actions aimed at overthrowing a legitimate government.”
As far as Putin is concerned, regime change is a non-starter. The Obama administration, on the other hand, has made it quite clear that it wants to remove Assad by any means possible. In a speech he delivered to the United Nations General Assembly on September 28, Obama underlined this point saying: “When a dictator slaughters tens of thousands of his own people, that is not just a matter of one nation’s inter- nal affairs—it breeds human suffering on an order of magnitude that affects us all ... The United States is prepared to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran, to resolve the conflict. But we must recognize that there cannot be, after so much bloodshed, so much carnage, a return to the pre-war status quo.”
Obama’s comments were followed shortly after by other members of the political establishment who signaled their support for the president’s position by reiterating the all-too-familiar refrain, “Assad must go.” What’s shocking about Obama’s statement is that it’s nearly identical to statements made by George W. Bush prior to the inva sion of Iraq. The “evil dictator” meme factored heavily into Bush’s rationale for launching Operation Enduring Freedom, the lethal foray that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians and displaced millions of others. Now Obama is invoking the same language to plunge yet another Muslim country into chaos and ruin. Why? Clearly, the policy has nothing to do with fighting terrorism, spreading democracy or ending state repression. Regime change is a way of achieving U.S. geopolitical objectives; securing resources in the oil-rich Middle East, establishing forward-operating bases across the region, and reinforcing US
global hegemony. These are the real goals that are driving the policy. The blather about humanitarian concerns is merely public relations pabulum Putin has a good grasp of what the U.S. is up-to in Syria. In a recent in terview he said, “President Obama frequently mentions the threat of
ISIS. Well, who on earth armed them? And who created the political climate that facilitated the current situation? Who delivered arms to the area? Do you really not know who is fighting in Syria? They’re mercenaries mostly. They are paid money. Mercenaries work for whatever side pays more. We even know how much they are paid. We know they fight for awhile and then see that someone else pays a little more, so they go there...
“The U.S. says ‘We must support the civilized, democratic opposition in Syria.’ So they support them, arm them, and then they join ISIS. Is it impossible for the U.S. to think one step ahead? We do not support this kind of policy at all. We think it’s wrong.”
The point is that Putin knows what Washington is doing and is determined to put an end to it. He’s not going to let Assad be removed from power, and he is going to exterminate as many militants as possible. But that’s just part of his plan. Putin’s also promoting a framework agreement for ending the hostilities and re-establishing security. The plan is called the Geneva communiqué of 2012, although many in the west have never heard of it before. Geneva is the peace plan the United States will eventually agree to when they have exhausted all other options.
Unfortunately, that could take some time since Washington is bound to be upset about not getting its way. And that, of course, is going to be a problem, because when Washington is angry, bad
things happen. In fact, the administration will probably edge closer and closer to a nuclear conflagration before it backs off and agrees to negotiations. What’s important is that Putin hold his ground and refuse to budge. He mustn’t give in to U.S. threats or coercion. Regime change must be defeated before peace can prevail.
The basic provisions in Geneva are fairly straightforward. It allows for the “establishment of a transitional governing body” that must be acceptable to both the government and opposition. It requires the “participation of all groups ... of society in a meaningful national dialogue process.” And it calls for “free and fair multi-party elections for the new institutions and offices that have been established.”
This doesn’t resolve the central issue of whether Assad goes or stays, but it does put the matter in the hands of the people who should decide such things, the Syrian voters. Internationally monitored elections will make sure that the will of the people is fairly reflected in the counting of ballots.
If the Obama administration is sincere about “democracy promotion” it should stop arming and training jihadis, abandon the plan for regime change, and throw its support behind the Geneva initiative. This is the only way there’s going to be peace in Syria.