November 29th, 2008 - by admin
Al Jazeera and Sources – 2008-11-29 21:34:24
Japan to End Air Mission in Iraq
Al Jazeera and Sources
(November 29, 2008) — Japan has announced that it will end its air support for US-led coalition forces in Iraq by the end of the year because the mission had achieved its goal.
Taro Aso, the prime minister, said the national security council issued the order, which was anticipated for months, because there was progress in Iraq’s security situation and its move towards democracy.
“Iraq has demonstrated a steady effort to install a democratic government and the country’s security has improved while the Iraqi people are now making their own effort to rebuild their country,” he said in a statement.
Japan has airlifted equipment and troops since 2006 from Kuwait to Iraq, including Baghdad, in support of the US-led forces.
Aso said that Japan will continue economic aid and technology support to Iraq.
The UN Security Council resolution authorising the presence of US troops in Iraq expires later this year.
Iraq is also reviewing the activities of multinational forces in the country.
Japan is now debating whether to continue its anti-terrorism maritime mission in the Indian Ocean, which also expires in December.
The refuelling mission began in 2001 to support US-led forces in Afghanistan but Japan had to suspend it late last year after the political opposition blocked its extension in parliament.
The Iraq and Afghan missions have tested the limits of Japan’s pacifist constitution and divided public opinion. Critics oppose them as a violation of the nation’s charter written in 1947 by the US, which bans Japan from engaging in warfare.
Japan to End Iraq Deployment
TOKYO (September 11, 2008) — Japan says it is planning to withdraw the last of its troops deployed in Iraq by the end of the year.
The recall would affect about 210 Japanese air force personnel who have been used to transport supplies and staff for US-led forces and the United Nations.
Masahiko Komura, Japan’s foreign minister, said the personnel and Japanese aircraft which have been stationed in Kuwait would return to Japan by the end of the year.
Speaking to reporters in Tokyo on Thursday he said the purpose of the mission had been achieved and attention was now turning to the conflict in Afghanistan.
“After continued consultations with Iraq, we have come to believe that the situation in Iraq has gradually improved and that we are gradually achieving the purpose,” he said.
“The Iraqi side is reaching out to countries concerned to co-ordinate what it wants to ask of multinational forces from the next year,” he added. “I believe Iraq is showing its understanding for Japan’s thinking.”
The mission was the last Japanese military operation in Iraq after Japan, which has been officially pacifist since the end of the Second World War, pulled out its ground troops in 2006.
The deployment was the first by the Japanese military to a combat zone since 1945.
Komura said the government would continue with another controversial mission in the Indian Ocean, in which Japanese naval forces provide fuel for US-led forces in Afghanistan.
The deployments in the Indian Ocean and Iraq have been heavily criticised by Japanese opposition politicians who argue that Japan should not be part of “American wars”.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
November 29th, 2008 - by admin
Steve Weissman / t r u t h o u t | Perspective – 2008-11-29 21:29:40
(November 29, 2008) — The terrorist attacks in Mumbai call out to President-elect Barack Obama and his advisors to rethink the signature blunder of George W. Bush’s eight years in office – the so-called War on Terror.
As US intelligence reports have made clear, the centerpiece of the supposed campaign against terror, the military occupation of Iraq, has increased the likelihood of more attacks like those in Mumbai, Madrid, London and Manhattan. The new escalation in Afghanistan will similarly increase terrorist attacks there, in neighboring India and Pakistan, in disputed Kashmir, and throughout the world.
Bush and Cheney chose the word “war” with malice aforethought. From the start, they intended a military response, first against Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, and then against Saddam Hussein in Iraq. And, as Barton Gellman shows so brilliantly in his book “Angler,” Dick Cheney and his team consciously wanted to create a wartime presidency with enormous unchecked power and scant regard for basic American liberties.
By contrast, Obama’s advisors openly acknowledge that military force alone will never bring victory over terrorism. They would, in addition, provide more economic aid, use counter-insurgency tactics to pacify local populations, and work with surrounding regional powers, including Iran.
But Obama and his people still talk far too much about using military force and delude themselves into believing that the physical defeat of Al-Qaeda will significantly weaken the current terrorist threat.
Though it’s still too early to know who staged the attacks in Mumbai, they were most likely militant jihadis, possibly with links to Kashmiri rebels and renegade elements of Pakistan’s military intelligence service, the ISI. Al-Qaeda may or may not have played a role in the planning.
But even if Al-Qaeda did, how would killing Osama bin Laden – if he’s still alive – or hanging all of his top aides, or hammering the Taliban in any way defuse the toxic brew of often justified grievances and outrageous religious fanaticism that we now face? The enemy is not a single man, and not a single group. It is a movement of shared ideas and beliefs, all too often encouraged by Washington’s pursuit of policies that are both unjust and counter-productive.
The terrorist bloodshed started long before bin Laden and will continue long after his dialysis machine packs up. No magic bullet will end it, but military boots on other people’s ground will almost always make matters worse. That’s what they did in Iraq. That’s what they are doing in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
What bin Laden added to the mix was the well-articulated idea that terrorist attacks could promote a clash of civilizations, or holy war. With his War on Terror, George W. Bush, the Crusader-in-Chief, responded exactly as bin Laden wanted, turning moderate Muslims around the world into terrorist supporters, funders, and enablers. Why would Obama want to continue the madness?
To gain perspective, Obama might ask his advisers to brief him on the very different wave of terrorism that spread from Russia, through Europe, and into the United States between 1881 and 1914. The terrorists were mostly anarchists, and they killed, among others, Czar Alexander II, King Umberto I of Italy, the president of France, the prime minister of Spain, and the president of the United States, William McKinley.
The assassinations shook the established powers throughout the Western world. One terrorist, a Bosnian nationalist, even triggered War I when he assassinated the Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in historic Sarajevo.
The new media of the time, the daily newspaper, naturally exaggerated the threat, spreading the terrifying specter of the crazed anarchist bomb-thrower. Just as naturally, the papers gave considerably less coverage to another image of the age – that of the government-paid agent provocateur.
In time, the anarchists themselves saw that their violence, their propaganda of the deed, was not sparking the revolutionary movement they wanted, and they turned instead toward organizing workers into unions. But, even at the time of the greatest murder and mayhem, I can think of no government that ever went anywhere near as far as the Bush administration in making the fight against terrorism a question of military force.
Today’s terrorists have far more deadly weapons at their disposal, as Dick Cheney always told us. But today’s police and intelligence services have more than enough technology to meet the threat. What they need is far greater international cooperation, which a reliance on the military makes more difficult.
Similarly, Islamic societies around the world have more than enough creativity to see the dead end into which terrorism leads. What they need is time and space to adapt to a changing world.
Barack Obama is in a unique position to build cooperation and encourage Muslims everywhere to find their own way forward. Happily, he has made a good start by announcing that he will close Guantánamo and end the horrors of torture. He has also raised the hope, however faint, that he will work toward a just settlement between Israelis and Palestinians and between India and Pakistan over Kashmir.
Even more to the point, his pledge to build a green economy will reduce any argument for continuing American support of despotic governments in countries with large reserves of oil and natural gas.
All this is promising. But it remains only a promise, and all of it will come to naught if Obama gives the orders to continue killing people and breaking things wherever and whenever the United States wants.
A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
Comments — From the Truthout Web site
Sun, 11/30/2008 – 02:52 — Anonymous (not verified)
Obama will not be able to end this war. Only those who attacked Mumbai will end the war when they discover as Hitler did that such murder leads to self destruction. Steve Weissman’s perspective is naive and if his advice is followed, we will all witness US communities coming under attack like that of Mumbai.
The phrase “peace for our time” was spoken on 30 September 1938 by British prime minister Neville Chamberlain in his speech concerning the Munich Agreement. Often misquoted as “peace in our time”, it is primarily remembered for its ironic value. The Munich Agreement gave the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia to Adolf Hitler in an attempt to satisfy his desire for Lebensraum or “living space” for Germany.
The German occupation of the Sudetenland began on the next day, 1 October. Now Steve Weissman believes it is time to give–as he describes them–the militant jihadis their “living space”. His analogy of the anarchism of 1881 to 1914 is misleading. Today’s militant jihadis are not anarchists and their belief is tied to world domination through a worldwide Caliphite. A very similar concept the Nazi’s held on 1 October 1938.
Sun, 11/30/2008 – 02:29 — Anonymous (not verified)
NO ONE SHOULD FORGET the prophetic premise from Orwell’s novel 1984, where the government needed fear to keep itself in power and rationalize it own authority and exploitations. They even dropped bombs on themselves to give their manufactured terms and repressions credibility. Reopening investigations around 911 is relevant if only for the fact that so much of the testimony around the “investigation” was not given under oath.
Who benefits from the war on terrorism is the question to ask. None of us are safer with less democratic transparency or fewer rights. Those “Representatives” who have voted for such measures do not deserve our trust because they have violated the very democratic contract by which they hold office.
Sun, 11/30/2008 – 02:04 — Anonymous (not verified)
In 2003, before the attack on Iraq, I wrote letters to my representatives in the Congress and in the Senate, and I wrote letters to the President. It was clear to me that a war in Iraq would create chaos in the Middle East, and would stir up more anger and hatred toward the United States, encouraging young militants to join terrorist organizations. I am not a brilliant political expert on international affairs. I am just a citizen of this country.
For the past eight years, the government has not represented me. Not the adminstrative, legislative or the judicial branch of the government made any move to stop the madness. We have elected a new president who has inspired the world to hope that reason and intelligence will set the policy of this country. If he is persuaded by those who advise him, to continue our militant actions in Afganistan and Iran, we will be walking on the path set before us by the Bush administration.
We will continue to encourage young people to join terrorist organizations. If we find and murder Bin Ladin, we may be justified in the eyes of the civilized world, but we will stoke more hatred in the hearts of those who would do us harm. It is time to turn the page, to make diplomacy the core of our foreign policy. We will win support and good will by offering our intention to walk a peaceful path in the world. We need to win hearts and minds, not wars.
Sun, 11/30/2008 – 01:46 — Andrew Winkler (not verified)
What nonsense!!! 9/11, 7/7, Madrid, Mumbai have all been performed by Mossad on behalf of the local governments, not by some understandably disgruntled Muslims. Mumbai is about creating a pretext to destroy and disarm Pakistan.
Sun, 11/30/2008 – 01:45 — KS Nayar (not verified)
It always surprises me why the voice of people like Steve Weissman is not heard in Capitol Hill, and acted upon by the government. If America had a democracy that worked, it would not have seen its troops deployed in other countries. No people would like to see foreign military boots in their countries.
As their presence increases, so is the resentment. Ask Bush and his advisers to read history. The Bush administration is spending $12 billion of American taxpayer’s money every month in Iraq. It benefits only a clutch of arms makers, contractors, and dealers. It does not help the American citizen, neither the Iraqi people.
Can this happen in a democracy? No never. It means the US democracy is a façade, where not only popular opinion is never heard, nor even the sane voice of people like Weissman. America is failed democracy. Hope Obama will make it work.
Sun, 11/30/2008 – 01:33 — EDGEOFNOWHERE (not verified)
Obama’s administration will be nothing more than an empty husk unless it can address the reality of 9/11, the incident that gave rise to the “war” on terror. Until the true perpetrators of this atrocity are unmasked and prosecuted, it is all just dust in the wind.
Sun, 11/30/2008 – 01:32 — SlidingHomeInOregon (not verified)
There are several reasons the cost of oil (gas at the pump) is dropping: one reason is oil producing countries know if the price stays high, we will turn green faster, not something they want. We must not turn from alternative energy sources research no matter how far oil prices fall.
Sat, 11/29/2008 – 23:45 — Hugh Jones (not verified)
The article describes the overall situation very well. The immediate terrible threat to which the terrorists are responding may be the presence of drones and hellfire missiles over their heads. Try to imagine fighting with rudimentary weapons against an enemy who probably has an unmanned drone over your head. Hugh Jones Toronto Canada
Sat, 11/29/2008 – 23:20 — Anonymous (not verified)
Bush’s outward policy did no good to ease the hate that terrorist organisations feed on. His inward policies were even more disasterous. Terrorism is expensive, and the high stakes money games that characterized his administration provided jobs, money, and arms to terrorists while starving regular honest folks.
No regime as corrupt, compromised, and stupid as Bush’s could ever hope to stop terror nor the fear that feeds it. Deliberately or unwittingly, he played the enabler. Personal vigilance is the best defense against terror. Instead of obscuring the facts, a well informed public is the safest public. As far as carrying out an offensive on terrorism, the organization of gov and people should be streamlined and efficient, like Scotland Yard was famed for.
The Bush years did not improve a thing even in this ‘information age’. Things can and WILL get better I am sure, but it will take a while. War looms yet again for central Asia, and I can comprehend WHY the Indian government is going to investigate this last offense VERY carefully. I think that once Bush is out and Obama in, there willbne a drastic improvement in our own intelligence, and can fairly hope that this will cross all lines to promote worthy police actions.
Sat, 11/29/2008 – 20:38 — Bruce (not verified)
When the press uses words that have been carefully selected by the government to shape public perception and sentiment, they become tools of that government. Whether it is calling someone fighting an much large occupying army an “insurgent” or people who return the death and destruction wrought on their families back to the civilians that support that army, and are then labeled as “terrorists”, it is all the same.
When a pilot drops a bomb on a hospital or sends rockets into a family’s home or into a hotel where journalists are residing it is considered an unfortunate accident and collateral damage and not a war crime. The media continues to do a disservice to their so-called profession and the people of the world when they refuse to acknowledge or report on state acts of terrorism and continue to refer to torture as “harsh interrogation.”
Terror has always been a aspect of warfare, and when it is used by the US government it is simply called “shock and awe” and considered an acceptable military strategy where the ends justify any means.
© 2008 truthout
November 29th, 2008 - by admin
Maya Schenwar / t r u t h o u t – 2008-11-29 21:25:41
(November 28, 2008) — Iraq’s Parliament passed the US-Iraq security pact by a slim majority on Wednesday, requiring that US troops withdraw from Iraq by 2011, unless the Iraqi people vote for a quicker withdrawal next year. The agreement is a muddle of triumphs and disappointments.
The pact — termed a status of forces agreement (SOFA) — has seen considerable revision since its early stages. To the rejoicing of activists on both sides, it now sets a timetable for withdrawal, a provision the Bush administration previously refused to consider.
However, as some in Parliament have pointed out, a three-year timetable is twice as long as the one suggested by President-elect Obama, and under the pact, either side needs to give a one-year warning before canceling it. So, when Obama takes office, he couldn’t nix the SOFA by command.
Added to Wednesday’s version of the SOFA was a provision important to many in Parliament: the requirement of a public referendum. In July 2009, the Iraqi people will vote on whether the pact should stay in place. If they reject it, though, it will still remain valid for another year — until mid-2010 — due to the one-year-warning clause.
Iraqis are quite likely to vote the pact down, preferring a quicker withdrawal, according to Raed Jarrar, Iraq consultant to the American Friends Service Committee. Although some in the government may try to “play games” and prevent the referendum from moving forward as planned, many in Iraq will push for a timely public vote, according to Jarrar. Polls in Iraqi media have shown that most Iraqis oppose the pact’s three-year time frame.
The SOFA has gotten as far as it has largely because the government’s executive branch, led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and backed by the Bush administration, has pushed ardently for its passage, and itself approved the agreement almost unanimously two weeks ago.
“The vast majority of Iraqis are against it,” Ali al-Fadhily, an independent correspondent living in Baghdad, told Truthout. “But those in power realize that it is the US existence in Iraq that keeps them in power, and so they [were] keen on signing it as soon as possible regardless of its conflict with the interests of Iraq and its people.”
The legislature was a tougher fight: Since Iraq’s Parliament is more representative of the people than the cabinet, controversy over the agreement raged on until the moment of the vote — especially since the proceedings did not follow the guidelines prescribed by Iraq’s Constitution. The pact vote was taken without first passing Iraq’s “law to ratify international treaties and agreements,” which would have governed how the SOFA was considered and voted on.
Also, Jarrar notes that when the cabinet passed the pact, it agreed to send it to Parliament “in accordance with Article 61 of the Constitution,” which requires a two-thirds majority for passage. However, Thursday’s vote in Parliament was determined by simple majority — a procedure that follows a now-obsolete “Saddam-era law,” according to Jarrar.
If Parliament’s leaders would have followed current law and required a two-thirds majority — 183 votes — for passage, the security pact would have failed.
However, says Jarrar, the referendum mandate mitigates the impact of the Constitutional violations.
Despite the addition of the referendum, some groups in Parliament, including followers of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, remained opposed to any occupation-legitimizing agreement. Sadr’s followers vowed to protest the pact’s passage.
On the US side, negotiations on the pact have been cloaked in secrecy. The official English version of the final agreement was withheld — from the public and from Congress — throughout most of the past few weeks’ negotiations. At a recent House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing on the pact, testifiers had to use a translated version supplied by Jarrar. Congressman Bill Delahunt, chairman of the subcommittee, criticized the administration’s covert handling of the pact.
“We must not forget that this agreement has just been provided to Congress – and that there has been no time to conduct the analysis required by such a significant document,” Delahunt said at the hearing. “Even now, the National Security Council has requested that we do not show this document to our witnesses or release it to the public – a public that for over five years has paid so dearly with blood and treasure … But this is typical of the Bush administration and its unhealthy and undemocratic obsession with secrecy.”
Foreign Policy in Focus Fellow Erik Leaver sees a jarring disconnect between the processes of SOFA consideration in Iraq and in the US.
“How ironic it is that a country we sought to bring democracy to is reading and debating the agreement, while in the US there isn’t even an official translation of the document for the public,” Leaver told Truthout.
According to Jarrar, working from a leaked copy of the English version of the agreement, some “discrepancies in translation” exist, which could lead to misunderstandings. Discrepancies also exist between the US and Iraqi interpretations of the pact: While an Iraqi government spokesman stated last week that the agreement would ensure that all American troops leave by December 2011, American commanders said otherwise.
“Three years is a long time. Conditions could change in that period of time,” Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stated at a Defense Department briefing last week. When asked whether the agreement’s absolute 2011 deadline could be extended, Mullen replied, “Well, clearly that’s theoretically possible.”
The language of the agreement is vague enough that it could be bent to allow such “possibilities.” One clause states that, according to joint decisions, the US may respond militarily to “security threats” against Iraq, and will continue its “close collaboration” in supporting, training and maintaining the Iraqi army — all of which could keep US troops in Iraq beyond 2011.
Moreover, some of the pact’s security commitments are surprisingly broad and vague, according to Leaver. It states that the US will defend Iraq against “external or internal danger … against Iraq or an aggression upon … its sovereignty, its political stability, the unity of its land, water, and airspace … [and] its democratic system or its elected establishments.”
“This is a pretty wide open commitment,” Leaver said. “For example, if Sadr was made Prime Minister, would the US protect him? Iraq’s upcoming elections could leave Iraq fairly politically unstable.”
Beyond its consequences in Iraq, the approval of the pact sets a dangerous precedent for the expansion of executive power in the United States. The agreement far overreaches the bounds of typical executive-only SOFAs: it grants US troops the “authority to fight,” and Congress is the branch vested with the power to declare war. Yet the Bush administration drafted and negotiated the pact with the Iraqi government without consulting Congress. Bush’s actions carve out a whole new arena of presidential power for history to soak up, according to Steve Fox, director of the American Freedom Campaign.
“The Bush administration has effectively expanded the scope of what a SOFA covers, and since there has been no formal objection from Congress, future presidents will now claim they have the same power to unilaterally negotiate far-reaching international agreements,” Fox told Truthout.
The American Freedom campaign proposes that Congress pass a “signing statement resolution,” asserting that since the Iraq SOFA is unconstitutional, Congress need not provide funding to carry it out.
“Such a resolution, which would still allow Congress to fund the agreement if they feel compelled by the Obama administration to do so, could be passed by both the House and the Senate the week of December 8,” Fox said. “If congressional leaders cannot bring themselves to take that one minor step, then the damage to their institution may be irreversible.”
Maya Schenwar is an editor and reporter for Truthout.
© 2008 truthout
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
November 29th, 2008 - by admin
Jeremy R. Hammond / Global Research – 2008-11-29 21:18:51
(November 24, 2008) — There’s been no shortage of controversy surrounding what has been termed the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the governments of the United States and Iraq. After battling away for most of the year at what the terms of the agreement should be, the text was at last finalized this month.
The terms of the agreement effectively allow the US to continue to control billions of dollars of proceeds from the sale of exported Iraqi oil held in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It also contains numerous loopholes that could allow the continuing long-term presence of US military forces and would effectively maintain US jurisdiction over crimes committed by American soldiers.
Iraq’s cabinet approved the agreement a week ago with 27 members voting in favor, out of 28 ministers who were present, with nine ministers absent. It is now being debated in the Parliament.
Abdul Qadir al-Obaidi, Iraq’s minister of defense, issued a dire warning that without the agreement and continued presence of US forces, “then what happened in the Gulf of Aden will happen in the Arabian Gulf too. Pirates will start in these ports in a way you can’t even imagine.”
Governments often use fear tactics to push through controversial legislation. Before the US invasion, members of the Congress were told that if they didn’t authorize the President to use military force against Iraq, Saddam Hussein might attack the east coast of the United States with biological weapons from unmanned aerial vehicles, for example. More recently, members of Congress were warned that if they did not pass the highly unpopular bill taking taxpayers’ dollars to bail out banking and investment corporations, there would be martial law in America.
While painting an imaginary threat to frighten the public into supporting the agreement, Obaidi criticized opponents as being conspiracy theorists. The New York Times reported today that Obaidi “batted down conspiracy theories about the agreement”, theories fueled by “anti-American Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr” about “the existence of secret deals for a longer American presence.”
And yet Obaidi at the same time seemed to lend credence to the fears of opponents. As the Times noted, without comment on the contradiction, he “held open the possibility that some Americans might be needed after” the deadline of the withdrawal of US troops by the end of 2011.
The agreement has been protested by large popular demonstrations in the streets of Baghdad. Thousands protested during a rally on Friday against the deal in Firdaus Square, where in 2003 US soldiers toppled a statue of Saddam Hussein in a staged publicity event that has since been hailed by the mainstream media as “an iconic moment”.
At the rally, demonstrators burned an effigy of President George W. Bush. A man who helped erect the effigy was quoted by the London Times as saying, “Just like Saddam’s statue was brought down, Mr Bush has fallen as well.”
The demonstrations were reportedly organized by Moktada al-Sadr, a highly influential figure whose father was murdered in 1999, most likely by the regime of Saddam Hussein. Following the US invasion of Iraq, he organized a resistance to the occupation consisting of both political and military elements. He commands the al-Mahdi Army, which has threatened to resume armed resistance if the agreement is passed by the Iraqi government.
While the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki initially claimed it could make an agreement unilaterally with the Bush administration, it has since conceded that the measure must obtain Parliamentary approval.
Under the US Constitution, the agreement would also need to be agreed to by the Senate to have the force of law, but the Bush administration has claimed that no Senate approval is necessary, essentially declaring its intention to violate Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution. This is not the first time the Executive Branch under Bush has declared for itself the power to govern by fiat, and it is likely to continue to be met with little resistance by the complacent US Congress.
The SOFA agreement, which now has the official lengthy title of “Agreement Between the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq On the Withdrawal of United States Forces from Iraq and the Organization of Their Activities during Their Temporary Presence in Iraq”, while addressing a number of the Iraqi concerns, contains a number of loopholes that would allow, among other things, a US military presence in Iraq beyond the given deadline for withdrawal.
It states in the preamble that both parties recognize the importance of “contributing to world peace and stability, combating terrorism in Iraq”, and “thereby deterring aggression and threats against the sovereignty, security, and territorial integrity of Iraq”. The agreement affirms that cooperation between the two countries “is based on full respect for the sovereignty of each of them in accordance with the purpose and principles of the United Nations Charter”.
This must be considered rather Orwellian language, given the fact that the invasion of Iraq was an act of aggression, defined at Nuremberg as “the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole”; and that the invasion was itself a breach of the peace in violation of the U.N. Charter and other applicable international treaties comprising the body of international law, resulting in instability and bringing terrorism to Iraq. It’s also quite meaningless language given some of the actual contents of the agreement itself.
Article 3 of the agreement contains a clause apparently intended to prevent the US from including Iraqis in its extraordinary renditions programs by barring the US from transferring any non-US persons into or out of the country “unless in accordance with applicable Iraqi laws and regulations, including implementing arrangements as may be agreed to by the Government of Iraq.”
There is thus a loophole that might allow the US to do precisely that, and any such “arrangements” could be interpreted, if the record of the Bush administration is any gauge, to mean approval from the Iraqi President without advice of consent of the Parliament. The US could also, of course, simply violate the agreement and spirit disappeared persons out of the country as it has under the CIA renditions program.
Article 4 states that the US military presence is requested “for the purposes of supporting Iraq in its efforts to maintain security and stability in Iraq”, which is belied by the fact that most Iraqis want the American troop presence to end and consider the continuing occupation to be the most significant causal factor of the violence that, while having ebbed over the past two years, continues to plague the country.
A survey taken last yearfor the US military, for example, revealed that “Iraqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups believe that the US military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences among them, and see the departure of ‘occupying forces’ as the key to national reconciliation”, as reported by the the Washington Post.
The agreement states that any such operations “shall be fully coordinated with Iraqi authorities” and “overseen by a Joint Military Operations Coordination Committee (JMOCC)”, and that it is “the duty of the United States Forces to respect the laws, customs, and traditions of Iraq and applicable international law.” It then adds that both nations “retain the right to legitimate self defense within Iraq, as defined in applicable international law.”
This itself represents a major loophole because, of course, the right to “self defense” under international law is very broadly interpreted by the US For example, the invasion of Iraq itself was painted by the Bush administration as an act of self defense against a perceived threat and thus, according to the administration, legitimate. As another example, the US continues to bomb Pakistan despite growing protests from both the public and the government. In one incident that is particularly revealing as to the US interpretation of “self-defense” under international law, a US airstrike in June targeted and killed 11 members of the Pakistani Frontier Corp within Pakistan. Despite having killed allied forces within their own borders, the Pentagon described the attack as a “legitimate” act of self-defense.
The agreement sets the date of June 30, 2009 as the deadline for “the withdrawal of combat forces from the cities, villages, and localities.” US forces would then be located on bases within Iraq and would ostensibly only be able to leave those bases on combat operations executed with the full cooperation of the Iraqi government. Use of such bases would be granted to the US for the purpose of the ongoing foreign military presence within Iraq.
The agreement states that its implementation must be “consistent with protecting the natural environment and human health and safety” and that “Each Party shall provide the other with maps and other available information on the location of mine fields and other obstacles that can hamper or jeopardize movement within the territory and waters of Iraq.”
But it’s highly unlikely that the US will engage in efforts to clean up areas contaminated with depleted uranium (DU), a still radioactive and chemically toxic isotope that is leftover from the process of enriching uranium. The dense metal is used as a weapon for penetrating armor by the US military, but aerosolizes upon impact, and thus presents the risk that DU particles could be spread by the wind or contaminate drinking water. While the Pentagon has denied publicly that DU poses a health risk, it has privately acknowledged in internal documents and studies that inhalation of DU represents a serious health risk and may lead to cancer.
The Pentagon acknowledged after the Gulf War that at least 320 tons of DU remained on the ground from that conflict. Cancer rates in southern Iraq rose significantly after that war, with many Iraqi doctors attributing the increase to DU, claims that have been dismissed by the Pentagon as “propaganda”. Dr. Doug Rokke, a former US army colonel sent to the Gulf by the Army as a health physicist in 1991 to advise on cleanup procedures involving depleted uranium, has said that 30 members — nearly a third of his entire team — are now seriously ill, himself included, and that several have since died from cancer.
One estimate puts the amount of DU used in the first couple months of the Iraq war following the March 19, 2003 invasion at 1,100 to 2,200 tons.
It’s equally unlikely that the US will make any effort to clean up “dud” cluster munitions that still litter Iraq from both wars. Estimates from the Gulf War put the number of unexploded submunitions, which effectively become landmines, at more than one million. These weapons continued to kill a decade after the war. According to a Human Rights Watch estimate, in 2001, cluster submunitions caused an average of 30 casualties per month. In its World Report 2004, the group reported that the US and U.K. “dropped nearly 13,000 cluster munitions, containing an estimated 1.8 to 2 million submunitions” in just the first three weeks of combat. Even assuming only a conservative 5% “dud” rate for the weapons (many of which were not bombs but ground-launched munitions with a dud rate of up to 16%), that would translate into 100,000 unexploded munitions.
Another controversial aspect of the SOFA agreement has been the question of jurisdiction for crimes committed by US forces in Iraq. While the US has backed down from its insistence that private Pentagon contractors, such as mercenaries from the infamous Blackwater group, be under US jurisdiction, the final agreement still maintains that US soldiers themselves will primarily be.
The agreement states that “Iraq shall have the primary right to exercise jurisdiction over members of the United States Forces and of the civilian component”, but only for “premeditated felonies” and only “when such crimes are committed outside agreed facilities and areas and outside duty status.” Thus, for Iraq to have jurisdiction, any crimes committed by American soldiers would have to be shown to be “premeditated” and committed while off duty.
Were a soldier to kill an Iraqi civilian, for example, while not on duty, it would have to be shown that he had contemplated the killing in advance and acted with intent to kill. If the soldier therefore claimed that he had been threatened by other Iraqis and discharged his weapon only to deter an assault, and that any collateral damage that resulted was accidental, then the case would fall not under Iraqi, but US jurisdiction.
Moreover, the pact adds that any member of the US armed forces who is found to have committed a premeditated crime while off duty would “be entitled to due process standards and protections consistent with those available under United States and Iraqi law.” Any such incident would thus still fall under US legal jurisdiction, with only what might perhaps be described as special consideration for Iraqi law — but not full Iraqi legal jurisdiction, as has been misreported by some of the mainstream media.
On top of that, the text adds that “United States Forces authorities shall certify whether an alleged offense arose during duty status”, which essentially gives the US the power to define any service member’s “duty status” at the time of any given incident — yet another loophole that might prevent Iraq from having jurisdiction over crimes committed against its own people by foreign occupying military forces.
The agreement also stipulates that “each Party shall waive the right to claim compensation against the other Party for any damage, loss, or destruction of property, or compensation for injuries or deaths that could happen to members of the force or civilian component of either Party arising out of the performance of their official duties in Iraq.”
In other words, if the US destroys Iraqi property or injures or kills Iraqis, the Iraqi government may not seek any compensation or reparations. Of course, this clause is mostly one-sided since there is no risk of Iraqis destroying the homes of US citizens. Iraq isn’t bombing US cities, towns, and villages, and Iraqis aren’t killing US civilians within their own borders. So this clause may in effect be read as an Iraqi waiver of any right of the government to seek reparations from the US for damages, injuries, or deaths resulting from the continuing foreign military occupation.
There is a recourse for “third party claims” — meaning from Iraqi citizens as opposed to the government — under which the US would “pay just and reasonable compensation” for “meritorious” claims. But the US apparently gets to decide what claims are “meritorious” or not, and all such claims “shall be settled expeditiously in accordance with the laws and regulations of the United States.” In other words, claims of damages, injuries or deaths from Iraqi citizens seeking compensation for actions of the US military would not fall under Iraqi jurisdiction.
The SOFA agreement stipulates that detentions must be carried out only with Iraqi cooperation and that detained individuals must be turned over to Iraqi authorities within 24 hours of their arrest, which represents a shift from the US’s earlier position that it be able to detain Iraqi citizens when and however it chooses.
The most commonly reported statement in the agreement, reflected in many headlines, is that which reads, “All the United States Forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory no later than December 31, 2011.”
In addition, “All United States combat forces shall withdraw from Iraqi cities, villages, and localities no later than the time at which Iraqi Security Forces assume full responsibility for security in an Iraqi province, provided that such withdrawal is completed no later than June 30, 2009.”
The agreement also states, “The United States recognizes the sovereign right of the Government of Iraq to request the departure of the United States Forces from Iraq at any time.” (Notice it doesn’t recognize the sovereign right of the People of Iraq, who overwhelmingly want the US forces gone and whose government is seen by many as a puppet regime for colluding with the US in arranging for its occupying forces to remain. Of course, Iraqis who recognize this have fallen prey to “conspiracy theories” — at least according to the Iraq’s minister of defense.)
In return, the US does offer a few incentives for the Iraqi government. It pledges, for example, to “Support Iraq to obtain forgiveness of international debt resulting from the policies of the former regime”, which the US supported throughout the 1980s.
The agreement also states: “Recognizing and understanding Iraq’s concern with claims based on actions perpetrated by the former regime, the President of the United States has exercised his authority to protect from United States judicial process the Development Fund for Iraq and certain other property in which Iraq has an interest. The United States shall remain fully and actively engaged with the Government of Iraq with respect to continuation of such protections and with respect to such claims.
“Consistent with a letter from the President of the United States to be sent to the Prime Minister of Iraq, the United States remains committed to assist Iraq in connection with its request that the UN Security Council extend the protections and other arrangements established in Resolution 1483 (2003) and Resolution 1546 (2003) [sic] for petroleum, petroleum products, and natural gas originating in Iraq, proceeds and obligations from sale thereof, and the Development Fund for Iraq.”
Resolution 1483 noted “the establishment of the Development Fund for Iraq to be held by the Central Bank of Iraq” and that funds “shall be disbursed at the direction of the [Coalition Provisional] Authority”.
The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), then headed up under Paul Bremer, proceeded to establish the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) in an account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. To get around the terms of 1483, the DFI was held on the books of the Central Bank of Iraq and a portion of the fund located in Baghdad. But the US nevertheless remained in control of the money and held most of it in New York.
The fund consists of assets seized from Iraq under the regime of Saddam Hussein as well as proceeds from the export of Iraqi oil.
While 1483 stipulates that these funds should be used “to assist the people of Iraq in the reconstruction and development of their economy and to facilitate assistance by the broader donor community”, the system has been plagued with charges of corruption and lack of accountability, with billions of dollars reportedly unaccounted for. Billions more have been paid out to corporations contracted by the Pentagon for ostensible reconstruction. One such corporation has been Halliburton. Vice President Dick Cheney was CEO of Halliburton from 1995 until 2000.
A further resolution on June 8, 2004, Resolution 1446, stated that “upon dissolution of the Coalition Provisional Authority, the funds in the Development Fund for Iraq shall be disbursed solely at the direction of the Government of Iraq”, but that proceeds from export sales of oil and natural gas would continue to be deposited in the fund.
As a January 2004 report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York noted, in March 2003, “President Bush issued an executive order directing the transfer of funds controlled by the Iraqi government and its financial and oil institutions to the US Treasury.” The Federal Reserve Bank then created a “Special Purpose Account” for the funds on behalf of the Treasury.
According to a Congressional Research Service report from October, about $10 billion is currently still being held in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, accounting for a third of Iraq’s total reserves of foreign currency and gold.
If the agreement is approved by the Iraqi Parliament, it will thus effectively acquiesce to continued control over these proceeds from the export of Iraqi oil by the US, with merely a recognition of Iraqi “concern” over this money and a veil of Iraqi control over only the disbursement of the money for reconstruction and development. This aspect of the proposed pact has received little — if any — attention in US mainstream media reports that have focused instead on the date set for withdrawal.
Jeremy R. Hammond is the editor of Foreign Policy Journal, a website dedicated to providing news, critical analysis, and opinion commentary on US foreign policy from outside of the standard framework offered by government officials and the mainstream corporate media, particularly with regard to the “war on terrorism” and events in the Middle East. He has also written for numerous other online publications. You can contact him at email@example.com.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on Globalization. The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article. www.globalresearch.ca
© Copyright Jeremy R. Hammond, Information Clearing House, 2008
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November 29th, 2008 - by admin
Voice of America (VOA) News – 2008-11-29 00:16:13
(27 November 2008) — The human rights group, Amnesty International, has warned that thousands of Iraqis now detained by US forces face torture or execution if handed over to Iraqi authorities.
The group issued the statement on Thursday, after Iraq’s parliament approved a security deal with the United States that extends the US troop presence in the country until 2011.
Amnesty said the deal provides no safeguards for transferred prisoners, a situation one Amnesty official said moves them “from the frying pan to the fire.”
Amnesty also expressed concern about more than 2,000 Iranians linked to the Iranian opposition group, People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, who remain in northern Iraq under US protection. The rights group says the Iranians would be at risk of serious human rights violations if forcibly returned to Iran.
Separately, a council of European Union interior ministers says EU nations should help re-settle nearly 10,000 refugees from Iraq, many of them currently living in precarious conditions in Syria and Jordan.
During a meeting on Thursday, the ministers invited EU member nations to take in the most vulnerable refugees, including those with medical needs, trauma or torture victims, members of religious minorities, and women on their own with family responsibilities.
Germany agreed to take in about 2,500 Iraqi refugees.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
November 29th, 2008 - by admin
uk.news.yahoo.com – 2008-11-29 00:13:12
(November 27, 2008) — European Union nations agreed Thursday to try and accept 10,000 of the most vulnerable refugees from war-torn Iraq, with Germany ready to take a quarter of them.
“The objective could be to take in up to around 10,000 refugees,” many of them living in precarious conditions in neighbouring Syria and Jordan, EU interior ministers said in conclusions from a meeting in Brussels.
They would include “refugees in a particularly vulnerable situation such as those with particular medical needs, trauma or torture victims, members of religious minorities or women on their own with family responsibilities.”
“This has to be done on a voluntary basis and in light of the reception capacities of member states,” the ministers said.
Six EU countries, mainly Sweden and the Netherlands but not Germany, currently accept Iraqi refugees. German Interior Minister Wolfgang Schauble said Berlin was ready to accept 2,500 refugees.
Germany has focused mainly on refugees from Iraq’s Christian minority.
In 2007, 18,559 Iraqis requested asylum in Sweden. In total some 100,000 Iraqis currently live in the Scandinavian country, making it the second-biggest foreign community behind Finns.
The United States, still embroiled in conflict almost six years after it launched the war, said Tuesday that it expects to meet the “tall order” of admitting a total of 12,000 Iraqi refugees by the end of this fiscal year.
In the last fiscal year, just 3,040 were admitted.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
November 28th, 2008 - by admin
Stephen Lendman / Global Research – 2008-11-28 23:09:34
Fate of Lakotahs Highlights America’s Failed Native American Policies
(November 21, 2008) — On November 6, South Dakota’s governor Michael Rounds declared a state of emergency as heavy snow blanketed the state and threatened all parts of it — including Native American reservations.
They, however, were excluded from his declaration. They’ll get no badly needed help, and it’s an all too familiar story for our nation’s original inhabitants. They’ve been abused and slaughtered for over 500 years. At Mabila, Acoma Mesa, Conestoga, the Trail of Tears, Pamunkey, Mystic River, Yellow Creek, Sand Creek, Gnadenhutten, and Wooded Knee. At far too many other places as well at a cost of many millions of lives, now forgotten and erased from memory.
Worst still, our Native people continue to be systematically repressed and mistreated. They live in poverty and despair. They’re mocked and demonized in films and society as drunks, beasts, primitives, savages, and people to be Americanized or warehoused on reservations and forgotten.
Their cultures are willfully denigrated. Their legacy is one of millions slaughtered, betrayal, treaties made and broken, stolen lands, rights denied, and welfare criminally ignored to this day.
The Lakotahs are one of many examples, and the Republic of Lakotah web site highlights their plight. It welcomes “all self-sufficient People who come with an open Heart, a Passion for Freedom and a Love for Grand Mother Earth.”
In a commentary titled “Broken Promises & Laws,” it describes a Broken People whose lands were stolen, buffalo massacred, people slaughtered, and who were herded onto reservations in violation of Treaties successive US governments signed and then abrogated.
The Treaty of 1851, for example, in which the government requested a right-of-way for a road through Lakotah lands to the newly-discovered Montana gold fields. It became known as the Bozeman Trail to be used only until all gold was removed. By the Civil War it was gone and the government reneged. Forts were erected on its right of way. Lakotahs demanded they be removed. The US refused, war ensued, and it ended with the Treaty of 1868.
It stated that “The government of the United States desires peace, and its honor is hereby pledged to keep it.” It also re-affirmed all rights the Indians were granted under the 1851 Treaty. Those rights and all others were abrogated and denied.
Western North and South Dakota Lakotahs are one of seven Sioux tribes comprising the Great Sioux Nation and are best known by their redoubtable leaders — Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Red Cloud and Black Elk, among others. Names even young school children know but not their heroic feats and the great price they and their people paid.
Before the 1770s, Sioux held territories from Minnesota to the Rocky Mountains and from the Yellowstone to the Platte Rivers. Until the Treaty of 1868, they were the richest Native American nation of the northwestern plains, but years earlier their lives were irrevocably changed. Treaties were made and broken. Settlers, railroads, and mining interests took their lands and resources.
In 1874, General George Custer invaded the most sacred Lakotah territory, the Black Hills (Paha Sapa), and with him came gold seekers. An illegal occupation followed along with billions of dollars of stolen resources and great numbers of lives lost. All in the name of progress to colonize the continent’s West. All at the expense of our Native peoples who lost everything as a result.
The earlier 1787 Northwest Ordinance was deceptive on its face. Supposedly to afford Indians “justice (and) humanity,” it, in fact, expanded the nation to admit new states on stolen Native American lands. Wars followed. Broken promises and treaties as well in violation of Article 6 of the Constitution that states:
“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land” — binding without qualification on the executive, legislature and judiciary.
The Sioux acted in good faith to avoid confrontation, but in vain. The executive, Congress, and judiciary denied them their lands, vital resources, and basic rights through a succession of repressive laws:
— Homestead Acts — for settlers only that gave them title to 160 acres of “underdeveloped” land outside the original 13 colonies; 1.6 million in all got around 270 million acres, or 10% of all US land between 1862 — 1886;
— Allotment Acts — various “act(s) to provide for the allotment of land in severalty to Indians on the various reservations and to extend the protection of the laws of the United States over the Indians, and for other purposes;” for example, the 1887 Dawes Act that distributed mostly unwanted and unviable land in Oklahoma; it was done by dividing reservations into privately-owned parcels to destroy Native cultures, impose western values, and achieve forced assimilation;
— the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 to force citizenship on all Native Americans; the words of one spoke for many: “United States citizenship was just another way of absorbing us and destroying our customs and government; how could these Europeans come over and tell us we were citizens in our country; we had our citizenship;” it’s “in our nations;” forcing their citizenship on us “was a violation of our sovereignty;”
— the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act (aka the Wheeler-Howard Act or the Indian New Deal); it reversed Dawes provisions and created what Native Americans call the first Apartheid Act that still applies; the 1964 Bantu Development Act copied this law and institutionalized black and white separation in South Africa; the same practice exists now in Occupied Palestine, in US inner cities, and wherever else white supremicists want unwanted people kept out of their restricted spaces;
— forced relocations continued during the 1950s and 1960s;
— Supreme Court rulings against Native American religious practices; in City of Boerne v. Flores (June 1997), the Court ruled against the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act that prohibited the government from “substantially burdening” a believer’s religious practices; the Court held that this act attempted to overturn its own First Amendment interpretation; in Employment Division v. Smith (April 1990), the Court ruled that Oregon could deny unemployment benefits to a person fired for violating a state prohibition on the use of peyote, even for a religious ritual; in other words, this and similar practices aren’t protected under the First Amendment freedom of religion provision; and
— Native Americans on reservations aren’t entitled to the same constitutional rights (like free speech, religion, assembly, and due process, etc.) as other Americans even though they’re legal citizens; non-Indian people when on reservations (so-called “tribal trust status lands”) also relinquish these rights while there; in addition, “tribal sovereignty” benefits leaders alone, not their people, and tribal chiefs get their authority from the Interior Secretary and US-run Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).
“Tribal sovereignty” is a profound misnomer. It belies any sense that Indians on reservations are self-governing. They are not. There are no checks and balances, no separation of powers, no constitutional protections, and the US government owns the lands as federal territories — under “plenary power” in trust status. In 1978, the Supreme Court ruled that Indian tribal chiefs and councils (not US law) have full authority over their people, and these “governments” are empowered by Washington.
Indian tribes are beholden to the government for help and need permission for most everything they do. Their people on reservations remain warehoused, abused and forgotten. The notion of “sovereignty” is another indignity, a charade, and silent outrage against our proud original inhabitants. Out of sight and mind in tribal “homelands,” no different than South Africa’s former bantustans and equally oppressive.
The Republic of Lakotah Today — A Broken People the Result of Broken Promises and Broken Laws
To this day, Native Americans and the Lakotah people are victims of what Ward Churchill calls “A Little Matter of Genocide” that he explained in his book by that title. It’s from American Indian Movement founder, Russell Means, who spoke of “a little matter of genocide right here at home” by which he meant a process still ongoing.
In 1944, jurist Raphael Lemkin first defined the term to mean:
“the destruction of a nation or of an ethnic group” that corresponds to other terms like “tyrannicide, homocide, infanticide, etc.” Genocide “does not necessarily mean the….destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings….It is intended….to signify a coordinated plan (to destroy) the essential foundations of the life of national groups” with intent to eradicate or substantially weaken or harm them. “Genocidal plans involve the disintegration….of political and social institutions, culture, language, national feelings, religion….economic existence, personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and” human lives.
The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (adopted December 1948 and took effect in January 1951) defines genocide in legal terms as follows:
“any (acts like those Lemkin cited) committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, the national, ethnical, racial or religious group (by) killing (its) members; causing (them) serious bodily or mental harm; (or) deliberately inflicting (on them) conditions” that may destroy them in whole or in part.
Destroying peoples’ cultures, preventing them from practicing their religion, speaking their language, and/or passing on their traditions to new generations are acts of genocide.
Nowhere does the Constitution let government abuse its people or deny them their rights. Nowhere does it authorize genocide, either in or outside the country, or permit the theft and occupation of their lands or any others.
Nowhere does it say “We the People” are the chosen few or that the minimum function of government is less than to insure the “general welfare” as stated in the Preamble and Article I, Section 8 as follows:
“The Congress shall have power to….provide for….(the) general welfare of the United States” — the so-called welfare clause for all its citizens.
Nowhere does it sanction rampant crime, unequal justice, political or corporate corruption, dishonest officials, raging social problems, the right to ignore the law, or to be able to slaughter and abuse its Native people. Nonetheless, it happens. Most egregiously to native Indians for over 500 years and counting.
Before early Europeans arrived, the Americas (North and South by expert estimates) were home to over 100 million indigenous peoples. From 1492 to 1892, US Census Bureau figures showed less than 250,000 survived. Or put another way — white Europeans committed the greatest ever genocide that was rivaled only, but not equaled, by the one against black Africans who were stolen into slavery for the “new world.” Millions of them died during capture and the Middle Passage.
Our Native peoples in even greater numbers — victimized by ritual slaughter. By being hacked apart, buried alive, trampled under horses, hunted as game and fed to dogs, shot, beaten, stabbed, and even scalped for bounty or as trophies. They were also hung on meathooks like beef, thrown into the sea from ships (the way blacks were), worked to death as slaves, starved, frozen to death during forced marches and internments, and infected with deadly diseases.
Our disturbing “civilization” that’s untaught in American schools, and when it is Indians are the villains and the settlers their victims. History on its head the way Hollywood portrays it and still does.
Ward Churchill recounts otherwise about what he calls “the American holocaust” and compares it to the Jewish one under the Nazis. He explains that:
“Distinctions….between right, center, left and extreme left in the US are quite literally nonexistent on the question of genocide of indigenous peoples. From all four vantage points, the historical reality is simultaneously denied, justified, and in most cases celebrated (or just forgotten.
But preposterous as these arguments are, all of them are) outstripped by a substantial component of zionism which contends not only that the American holocaust never happened, but that no ‘true’ genocide has ever occurred, other than the Holocaust suffered by the Jews” in Nazi Germany.
It’s an all too familiar pattern of historical revisionism or denial to view one people’s ordeal as important, preeminent or unique and another’s as non-existent — depending, of course, on who suffered and who caused it. After WW II, Zionist Jews copyrighted Hitler’s genocide, rebranded it “The Holocaust,” framed it as a one-off event, and created the myth of unique Jewish suffering.
The Plight of the Lakotah People
The Republic of Lakotah web site recounts it from the first official political and diplomatic contacts “between Lakotah and the (US) government began in earnest after the United States (completed) the (so-called) Louisiana Purchase in 1803.”
It refers to “fantasy” US history about the purported French sale of 530 million acres for a mere $15 million — part of which belonged to Lakotahs who weren’t consulted or consented to the transaction. The first “peace and friendship” treaty followed in 1805. Like others later on, it was systematically ignored and violated as settlers invaded, encroached, and occupied Lakotah lands.
Throughout the 19th century, the US government “engaged in multiple military, legal and political strategies….to deny Lakotah our right to freedom and self-determination.” Even after the Supreme Court’s 1883 Ex Parte Crow Dog decision, it persisted.
The Court recognized Lakotah freedom and independence in ruling that tribes held exclusive jurisdiction over their internal affairs. It didn’t matter as in 1885 Congress passed the Major Crimes Act to extend US jurisdiction into Lakotah territory, and more egregious actions followed.
One was the 1903 Supreme Court Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock decision that recognized near absolute plenary congressional power over Indian affairs, virtually exempt from judicial oversight. It was an outrageous ruling to let the government freely expropriate tribal lands and resources on the pretext of fulfilling its federal trust responsibilities. Quite simply, it empowered Washington and rendered Indians impotent over their own internal affairs, with no rights of any kind without Washington’s permission.
This ruling was then used to violate hundreds of treaties between the government and indigenous peoples, including Lakotahs. As a result, the sacred Black Hills were stolen along with billions of dollars of resources from them. America was on the move. Lakotahs were in the way, so they were shoved aside through all the various ways described above.
Today, the Republic of Lakotah explains the “Genocidal Results of the Failed American Indian Policies of the United States” under the following headings:
— Lahotah men have the world’s lowest life expectancy at 44 years;
— the Lakotah death rate is the highest in America;
— the Lakotah infant mortality rate is three time the US average;
— one-fourth of Lakotah children are fostered or adopted by non-Indian households — a willful Americanization policy to destroy their culture and existence;
— Lakotahs have epidemic levels of disease and illness; and
— teenage Lakotah suicide is 150% higher than the US national average.
— median income is a shocking $2600 — $3500 a year;
— 97% of Lakotahs live below the poverty line — unmatched anywhere in the world except by other indigenous peoples; and
— most families can’t afford heating oil, wood, propane or any way to heat homes.
— it’s at 80% or higher; and
— government funding for job creation is lost through cronyism and corruption.
— it’s so inadequate that many elderly die each winter from hypothemia (freezing to death);
— one-third of homes lack clean water and sewage;
— 40% have no electricity;
— 60% no telephone;
— 60% are infected with potentially fatal black molds; and
— an estimated 17 people on average live in each family home — many with only two or three rooms; some homes built for six to eight people have up to 30 living in them.
Drugs and Alcohol
— drug addiction afflicts over half of Lakotah adults; two known meth-amphetamine labs are allowed to operate; and
— alcoholism affects 90% of families.
— the tuberculosis rate for Lakotahs is about 800% higher than the US national average;
— cervical cancer is 500% higher;
— diabetes 800% higher; and
— the Federal Commodity Food Program provides sugar-rich foods that cause high rates of diabetes, heart disease, and other preventable illnesses and diseases.
— the rate for Indian children is 40% higher than for whites;
— 21% of South Dakotan prisoners are Indians yet they comprise 2% of the population;
— Indians have the second largest state prison incarceration rate in the nation after blacks; and
— most Indians live on reservations that are supposed to be self-governing — in principle, that is; around 2% of Indians live under state jurisdiction.
— only 14% of Lakotahs speak their native language;
— it’s not being taught inter-generationally; the average age of fluent Lakotah speakers is 65; thus the language is endangered and on the verge of extinction; and
— the Lakotah language is forbidden to be taught in US government schools — a further indignity inflicted on the people.
A Final Comment
In September 2007, the UN General Assembly adopted the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It passed 143 — 4 with only Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US voting “no.” Eleven nations abstained.
This document enumerates the “collective rights of the world’s 370 million native peoples, calls for the maintenance and strengthening of their cultural identities, and emphasizes their right to pursue development in keeping with their own needs and aspirations.”
The Declaration affirms the right of native peoples “to the recognition, observance and enforcement of treaties concluded with States or their successors. It also prohibits discrimination against indigenous peoples and promotes their full and effective participation in all matters that concern them.”
This document concluded 25 years of “contentious negotiations over the rights of native people to protect their lands and resources, and to maintain their unique cultures and traditions.” In that and the above stated respects, it’s historic and important.
Nonetheless, America has its own “traditions” over and above those of others it disdains and abuses — the poor, non-whites, the disadvantaged, labor, non-Jews and Christians, virtually everyone outside its white supremacists elites, and clearly its Native peoples from the earliest settlers to the present day.
Nothing’s changed from then to now — Broken Promises, Broken Laws, Broken Treaties, and Broken Hope for a Broken People suffering hugely in the United States of America — out of sight and mind and not an issue for the dominant news media. Very much one for people who care.
Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at www.lsjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to The Global Research News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM — 1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions on world and national topics with distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening.
© Copyright Stephen Lendman, Global Research, 2008
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
November 28th, 2008 - by admin
John Two-Hawks / Native American Issues & Causes & NDN News & The Black Commentator – 2008-11-28 23:05:45
The Thanksgiving Myth
John Two-Hawks / Native American Issues & Causes & NDN News
Let me begin by stating that thousands of years before the ‘official’ Thanksgiving Day was proclaimed by Governor Winthrop of the Massachussetts Bay Colony in 1637, North American Indigenous people across the continent had celebrated seasons of Thanksgiving.
‘Thanksgiving’ is a very ancient concept to American Indian nations. The big problem with the American Thanksgiving holiday is its false association with American Indian people. The infamous ‘Indians and pilgrims’ myth.
It is good to celebrate Thanksgiving, to be thankful for your blessings. It is not good to distort history, to falsely portray the origin of this holiday and lie about the truth of its actual inception. Here are some accurate historical facts about the true origin of this American holiday that may interest you
• Continue Reading at:
Thanksgiving Is a Celebration of Genocide
The End of American Thanksgivings
The Black Commentator — Issue 66
Nobody but Americans celebrates Thanksgiving. It is reserved by history and the intent of “the founders” as the supremely white American holiday, the most ghoulish event on the national calendar. No Halloween of the imagination can rival the exterminationist reality that was the genesis, and remains the legacy, of the American Thanksgiving. It is the most loathsome, humanity-insulting day of the year — a pure glorification of racist barbarity.
We at [Black Commentator] are thankful that the day grows nearer when the almost four centuries-old abomination will be deprived of its reason for being: white supremacy. Then we may all eat and drink in peace and gratitude for the blessings of humanity’s deliverance from the rule of evil men.
Thanksgiving is much more than a lie — if it were that simple, an historical correction of the record of events in 1600s Massachusetts would suffice to purge the “flaw” in the national mythology. But Thanksgiving is not just a twisted fable, and the mythology it nurtures is itself inherently evil. The real-life events — subsequently revised — were perfectly understood at the time as the first, definitive triumphs of the genocidal European project in New England.
The near-erasure of Native Americans in Massachusetts and, soon thereafter, from most of the remainder of the northern English colonial seaboard was the true mission of the Pilgrim enterprise — Act One of the American Dream. African Slavery commenced contemporaneously — an overlapping and ultimately inseparable Act Two.
• Continue reading at:
Thanksgiving, Celebration of Genocide
Native American Holocaust Absolution by Pilgrims
Skipping past the signing of the Mayflower Compact, the first concerns of the new arrivals were finding something to eat and a place to settle. After anchoring off Cape Cod on November 11, 1620, a small party was sent ashore to explore. Pilgrims in every sense of the word, they promptly stumbled into a Nauset graveyard where they found baskets of corn which had been left as gifts for the deceased.
The gathering of this unexpected bounty was interrupted by the angry Nauset warriors, and the hapless Pilgrims beat a hasty retreat back to their boat with little to show for their efforts.
Shaken but undaunted by their welcome to the New World, the Pilgrims continued across Cape Cod Bay and decided to settle, of all places, at the site of the now-deserted Wampanoag village of Patuxet.
There they sat for the next few months in crude shelters — cold, sick and slowly starving to death. Half did not survive that terrible first winter. The Wampanoag were aware of the English but chose to avoid contact them for the time being.
In keeping with the strange sequence of unlikely events, Samoset, a Pemaquid (Abenaki) sachem from Maine hunting in Massachusetts, came across the growing disaster at Plymouth. Having acquired some English from contact with English fishermen and the short-lived colony at the mouth of the Kennebec River in 1607, he walked into Plymouth in March and startled the Pilgrims with “Hello Englishmen.”
Samoset stayed the night surveying the situation and left the next morning. He soon returned with Squanto. Until he succumbed to sickness and joined his people in 1622, Squanto devoted himself to helping the Pilgrims who were now living at the site of his old village. Whatever his motivations, with great kindness and patience, he taught the English the skills they needed to survive, and in so doing, assured the destruction of his own people.
• Continue reading at: http://www.tolatsga.org/wampa.html
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.
November 27th, 2008 - by admin
Palestinian Center for Human Rights – 2008-11-27 23:11:47
Position Paper — December 2007
When we think of crimes against humanity, we must be aware that governments and governmental groups can be more dangerous than individuals in this regard. Governments have the most power to inflict harm and are most likely to be recidivist. This kind of terrorism is the most dangerous brand.
Extra-judicial killing or physical liquidation is the most prevalent practice of the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) against the Palestinians. It reveals the immoral nature of the Israeli government.
Extra-judicial execution is a policy, which is not new or exclusively used since 2000. It is an old, bloody policy that had been implemented by the Israeli army against Palestinian civilians for decades. The list of the victims of this practice is too long to mention here.
Extra-judicial executions “targeted killing” (as Israeli politicians like to define the practice), is clear evidence of state terrorism. It is execution without trial. It is a policy of killing outside the boundaries of any legal framework. The practice gained unprecedented momentum during the last Intifada, beginning in 2000 and experienced an ongoing escalation until it peaked in 2007. Moreover, these crimes closely follow geopolitical developments.
The Israeli government has built its policy of extra-judicial executions on a specific understanding of the political situation. Indeed, they have clear political objectives by conducting these cruel crimes of extra-judicial killing—objectives based on having no Palestinian partner for peace. It means they have hidden objectives not as they claim combating Palestinian terror. They are trying to exploit the general international atmosphere of combating terrorism and depict the Palestinian activists as terrorists. These crimes are questioning the morality and judicial system of the State of Israel.
The killing of civilians, and those who are involved with the Palestinian resistance, without trial is amoral and an affront to any just legal system. Sadly, these crimes have been openly endorsed by many Israeli leaders. On June 4, 2001, Israeli daily newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, published a statement from the IOF’s spokesman: “We set up a list of Palestinian names of individuals whom the Israeli government has approved for physical liquidation, among the names are included members of Hamas, Fatah, Popular Front and Islamic Jihad activists.” This statement reflects the bloody nature and the discriminatory mentality of Israeli officers and leadership.
Between the eruption of the second Palestinian Intifada on 28 September, 2000 and June 2006, the IOF attempted 252 extra-judicial killing operations. According to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), the IOF killed 603 Palestinians during these crimes. Statistically, the victims of this policy constitute 20% of the entire Intifada’s Palestinian fatalities. They are classified as follows:
• Extra-judicial killings produced 603 victims total.
• 319 of the victims were intentionally targeted by the IOF.
• 212 were civilians and passersby unintentionally killed in the process. They constitute 35% of all victims.
• 68 children were among the victims. Presumably, they were also unintentionally killed during the execution of these crimes, whether they were playing in the streets, passing by, or with their families in targeted houses or vehicles.
However, These cases were escalated to bring the overall number of people killed by such actions to 664 since December 2000, to June 2007, 434 of these people were specifically targeted by (IOF), the other 230 having been killed in the process of the attacks.
It worthy to recount some recent Israeli attempts of extra-judicial killing crimes against Palestinian inhabitants in the OPT to demonstrate the IOF’s disregard for Palestinian civilian lives:
At approximately 21.25 on Sunday, 20 May 2007, an IOF warplane lunched guided missiles at a residential compound belonging to al-Haya family in al–Shojaeya neighborhood in the east of Gaza City. The targeted missiles hit the al-Haya tribe’s hall, killing seven members of a single family. Two children were among those murderd.
The hall is adjacent to Dr. Khalil Isma’il al-Haya, a member of PLC and important Hamas figure. At the time of the attack, Dr. al-Haya was not at home. He was in a meeting with Fatah leaders trying to reach an agreement to end the Palestinian crisis.
Israel’s stubborn insistence to continue this policy of killing and to continue intimidating Palestinian civilians in this way is a grave violation to the international human rights law. The international community regularly expresses deep concerns over this policy.
Prof. John Dugard, the United Nations special Rapporteur of Human Rights sharply criticizes the Israeli government for its actions in the POT. He regards the Israeli practices against the Palestinian as grave violations to article 27 and 38 of the Fourth Geneva Convention relevant to the protection of civilians at a time of war.
According to the Human Rights Bill, and international humanitarian law, the Palestinians are entitled to significant rights aimed at protecting them from the unnecessary bloodshed committed daily by IOF. Among the rights applicable to the Palestinians, are those listed in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and therefore they include the right to life, security and property.
Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “[e]very one has the right to life, liberty and security of person”. Article 6 (1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966 states that “[e]very human being has the inherent right to life”.
The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and the Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War is particularly relevant to extra-judicial killing. Article 3 of the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits any kind of assaults on life or physical security. Article 32 specifically prohibits murder, torture and corporal punishment.
PCHR is deeply concerned over the Israeli government’s crimes of extra-judicial killing in the OPT, and:
• Condemns these crimes of extra-judicial killing by the IOF in the OPT, which disregards for the lives of Palestinian civilians, and considers them grave violations of article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.
• Condemns the IOF’s disregard for civilians’ lives and careless lack of attention to the principles of necessity and proportionality in using excessive force against Palestinian activists, many of whom are often present in densely populated areas.
• Call upon the international community to immediately intervene to stop these crimes which contradict international human rights law and international humanitarian law.
Call upon the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to fulfill their obligations under article 1 of the Convention to ensure respect for the Convention in all circumstances, and their obligation under article 146 to search for and prosecute those responsible for committing grave breaches of the Convention.
PCHR also calls on the High Contracting Parties to uphold their responsibilities as signatories to the protocol Additional to the Convention, such as breaches which constitute war crimes according to article 147 of the convention.
Fact Sheet No. 1: Extra-Judicial Executions Committed by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) against Palestinian Civilians September 29, 2000 — December 31, 2006
Fact Sheet, No. 2: Extra-Judicial Executions in the OPT Committed by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Between January 2007and March 2007.
Fact Sheet No. 3: Extra-Judicial Executions in the OPT committed by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF), Between April 2007— June 2007.
Facts Sheet, No. 4: Extra –Judicial Executions in OPT by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF), between July to September 2007
Facts Sheet, No. 5: Extra-Judicial executions of Palestinians by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) from September- December 2007.
Facts Sheet, No. 6: Extra-Judicial Executions of Palestinians by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) January– March 2008.
“This publication has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication is the sole responsibility of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.”
November 27th, 2008 - by admin
Window on Palestine & Haaretz – 2008-11-27 23:08:51
Campaign: End Israeli Assassination Policy …End It Now!
(September 2, 2008) — On the seventh anniversary of the assassination of Comrade Leader Abu Ali Mustafa by a US-made occupation missile shot from a US-made helicopter through the window of his office in Ramallah, the Zionist state continues to pursue its policy of assassinations — a policy that reflects and is part of the fundamental character of the state, a colonial settler state determined to eradicate, dispossess and attempt to destroy the Palestinian people and their national movement by any means.
This policy of assassinations has stolen from our people many of our most distinguished leaders — from political leaders, to trade unionists and labor leaders, to writers and cultural exemplars — as well as hundreds upon hundreds of our community activists, local leaders, young people, courageous fighters, student organizers; the sons and daughters of the Palestinian people, targeted for killing by the bullets and missiles of the occupation, bought and paid for by the United States.
From the earliest days of the Zionist project,
assassinationhas always been a mechanism both for depriving the Palestinian people of their leaders and activists, and sending a message to future potential leaders and activists that the path of resistance leads to assassination, and for promoting concessions and collaboration with Zionism as an alternative. Israel has sought to present three alternatives to Palestinians: assassination, imprisonment, or concessions.
Much as Israel relies heavily on its over $3 billion in annual support from the United States, and much as the United States relies on its strategic alliance with the Zionist colonial-settler state in order to extend its influence and present a constant and ever-present threat and settler presence against the Arab nation, Israeli assassinations are financed and armed by the United States. Increasingly, the Israeli assassination policy has relied on US-made missiles shot from US-made helicopters in the sky in order to carry out its deadly policy, that has seen the number of assassinations skyrocket during this Intifada. Over 700 Palestinians have been killed due to the occupation’s assassinations during this Intifada. Every one of these assassinations was paid for by US tax dollars, and it is a responsibility of people in the US to demand an end to the funding of Israel and its assassinations.
It is clear that an end to the policy of assassinations can come only through the power of the resistance making it clear to the occupier that the costs of its policy will be enormous and prohibitive. For example, the response to the assassination of Abu Ali Mustafa by the Front on October 17, 2001, and the killing of the racist Zionist tourism minister Rehavam Ze’evi made a strong statement with clear costs to the occupier of its continued assassinations. Such a response is a necessary and needed action on the part of the resistance, emphasizing that our leaders, activists, our sons and daughters cannot be taken from us, nor can the threat of assassination be held above all of our heads in an attempt to force us into collaboration and concessions.
However, it is also important, and, indeed, critical that a popular campaign to end the assassination policy be taken up around the world. Every day, the policy of assassination is not only a direct threat to Palestinian and Arab lives. It also works hand in hand with political imprisonment as a constant threat against any and all activity to free ourselves from the Zionist occupation, and proves that Israel’s supposed abolition of executions in its injustice system is nothing more than a lie and a false pretext of human rights, when it practices a mass assassination policy against the same Palestinian people whom it targets for mass political imprisonment. Indeed, many victims of the assassination policy are former prisoners, and Israeli officials have routinely threatened former prisoners with assassination. Assassination is aimed like a missile at Palestinian organizing, Palestinian communities, and Palestinian society.
It is imperative that the eyes of the world must be turned toward these crimes committed by the Zionist enemy. It has been the funds and weaponry of the United States, and the silence and complicity of the so-called international community that has allowed this policy of murder to take place with little recourse, penalty or punishment except for that exacted by the Palestinian resistance for over sixty years. Countless Palestinian and Arab national leaders, cultural workers and activists — from Ghassan Kanafani to Kamal Udwan to Abu Jihad(Khalil al-Wazir) to Fathi Shikaki to Sheikh Ahmad Yassin to Yasser Arafat to Jamal Samhadanah to Imad Mughniyyeh — hundreds upon hundreds of martyrs, killed by guns, bombs and helicopter-fired missiles, tracked by spies and targeted via cell phones — call out for justice and demand an end to the murderous assassination policy.
These assassinations have not only targeted Palestinian and Arab leaders and activists; indeed, they have killed numerous children, passers-by, family members and other Palestinians and Arabs. The Zionists have stopped at nothing to pursue their assassination policy. In July 2002, in an assassination attack against Salah Shehadeh, a Hamas leader, the occupation forces dropped a one-ton bomb in the middle of the most crowded residential neighborhood in Gaza, one of the world’s most crowded locations, killing fourteen others — including children — and destroying apartment buildings. From Ghassan Kanafani’s 17-year-old niece, Lamis, killed by the car bomb planted by the Zionist intelligence agency, the Mossad, to the hundreds of victims in this intifada of missiles fired into cars as they walked down the street or drove in nearby vehicles, the “targeted killings” of the occupation forces have seen all Palestinians and Arabs as acceptable and legitimate targets.
Indeed, the Zionists have even relied on using forged passports and the soil of their Western allies in order to carry out their assassination missions against Palestinians — utilizing forged Canadian, Swedish and other passports and carrying out assassinations in Paris, Rome, Cyprus, and in various states in the Arab world.
Despite clear prohibitions in international law against assassinations and extra-judicial killings, particularly in the Geneva Conventions regarding occupied territories, Israel’s High Court has deemed such assassinations to be acceptable and indeed, they continue unabated. It is necessary that people around the world raise their voices to demand an end to the policy of assassinations — to demand that the international community take action against the occupier state for its ongoing crimes, to demand prosecution of Israel’s war criminal leadership for its ongoing crimes against the Palestinian people, including the assassination policy, to demand Israeli officials be sought for their crimes by the International Criminal Court and arrest warrants be issued around the world for these criminals. It is key that news and media articles and stories be published and broadcast, exposing the brutal and bitter reality of the murderous assassination policy to the world.
Please join us in this campaign. The assassination policy targets Palestinians of all factions and political identities, unified by one key factor — their commitment to the freedom of the Palestinian people and the liberation of Palestine and their refusal to compromise these fundamental principles in exchange for their lives. All of our voices around the world — through legal actions, the courts, parliaments and the public squares of the world, through media broadcasts and news stories, through actions and meetings — must be raised together to demand an end to the policy of assassinations.
Below are several research and human rights documents that should be of assistance in advocacy to end the assassination policy. Please contact us and choose “End Assassinations Campaign” to discuss how we can work together to end this murderous policy and support the Palestinian struggle for liberation!
Position Paper: Extra-Judicial Executions (Palestinian Centre for Human Rights)
# Fact Sheet: Extra-Judicial Executions, September 2000-December 2006 (PCHR)
# Report: Extra-Judicial Executions, August 2006-June 2008 (PCHR)
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