Hillary Clinton and State Dept. to Celebrate War Criminal Henry Kissinger, While the White House Repeats His Deadly Mistakes

When you are a war criminal, part of an administration full of war criminals, prosecuting a criminal war, its only natural that you would want to minimize the war crimes of your predecessors. It is kind of a game of I won't prosecute you if you won't prosecute me. And it is what is wrong with politics in the U.S. and Canada. Peacenik says prosecute them all. Now. And bring the troops home now.

Future historians will marvel at how U.S. leaders failed to learn from their horrific crimes in Indochina, and are instead repeating many of them today.

Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger addresses a keynote on the theme of power shifts and security at the opening day of the eighth Annual IISS Global Strategic Review conference in Geneva.
Photo Credit: AFP - Fabrice Coffrini

Nothing more symbolizes how the temptations of power can corrupt youthful values and idealism than Secretary Hillary Clinton's invitation to Henry Kissinger and Richard Holbrooke to keynote a major State Department conference on the history of the Indochina war. As an idealistic college student, Clinton protested Kissinger's mass murder of civilians in Indochina. She knows full well that had the international laws protecting civilians in war been applied to Kissinger's bombing of civilian targets in Indochina he would have been indicted for crimes of war.

But on Sept. 29 she will introduce Kissinger at the State Department Historian's conference, giving him a platform to continue 40 years of Orwellian deception in which he has sought to blame Congress for the fall of Indochina rather than accepting responsibility for his massive miscalculations and indifference to human suffering.

Read on...


We've Been Here Before: The FBI Raids in Context

punditman says... 
Just like we saw in Toronto with the G20 Summit, here is yet another disturbing sign of the downward spiral into quasi-fascism that seems to be creeping into our daily lives. Arbitrary state power, and the criminalization of dissentlike that being exercised by the Obama Administrationis the hallmark of dictators not democrats.
repeats the old adage that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance and thus Punditman also echoes the words of Bob Marley and says "Stand up for your rights"!


On September 24, 2010 the FBI raided several houses and a couple of offices in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Chicago and North Carolina  under the guise of looking for proof that the people living in those houses were involved with organizations that "lent material support to terrorists."  Ironically (or perhaps presciently) the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) also released an 88-page document titled The Policing of Political Speech: Constraints on Mass Dissent in the U.S on that day.  Not content with criminalizing the representation provided by  attorneys to those accused of fomenting terrorism, as in the case of Lynne Stewart, with these raids the Obama administration has stepped up the repression that became quite commonplace under George Bush.

In short, the government is attempting to criminalize the organizing of antiwar protests.  Furthermore, it wants to make opposition to the government’s assistance in repressing struggles for self-determination illegal.  Other repressive actions by law enforcement against US citizens, including the sentencing of a videographer to 300 days in jail for trespass ing after he tried to film an unauthorized talk in Chicago and the acknowledgement by the Pittsburgh FBI office that it had spied on peace activists and used a private agency to help out, makes it clear that the PATRIOT Act and its excesses are alive and well under the Obama administration.  Repression is a bipartisan activity, especially when it comes to the repression of the left.

These raids are a clear and vicious attempt to intimidate the antiwar movement.  The grand jury is a fishing expedition, as evidenced (for example) by the warrant asking for papers from no determined time.  This intimidation is a continuation of the harassment of the Twin Cities left/anarchist community that began before the 2008 Republican National Convention.  As I recall, several organizers had their homes and offices raided prior to the convention.  In addition, hundreds of protesters were arrested and many more were beaten by law enforcement thugs.  Eight organizers were eventually charged with a variety of charges including conspiracy.  As of September 25, 2010, three of those charged had all of their charges dropped and the rest face trial on October 25, 2010. 

The American Way: Spreading Democracy to Afghanistan, One Journalist’s Arrest at a Time

Can someone tell Peacenik again why Canada is involved in a corrupt, pointless, never -ending war in Afghanistan? No freedom of the press in Afghanistan. Corrupt elections. Drug production going through the roof. Innocent civilians getting killed all over the place. And war crimes that are shrugged off like it was just kids having a bit of harmless fun. Oh yeah, and Canada can't afford to pay the tab.

Are any of the reasons trotted out by politicians true? Can any politician make a cogent case for why Canada should be involved in Afghanistan? But the worst thing about Canada's involvement is that not one politician will stand up and say "Bring the troops home now." Peacenik doesn't know which is worse: this pointless war being covered by a kowtowing  corporate media or having Canada governed by the biggest bunch of gutless, chickenshit politicians imaginable. Bring the troops home now. There. Peacenik said it again. Why won't any politician?

by Dave Lindorff

US-led forces in Afghanistan sure did a bang-up job this week at promoting the concept of Western "democracy."
The so-called International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the puppet intelligence agency of the Afghan government, between them, arrested and held three journalists, Rahmatullah Nekzad, a freelance reporter for Al Jazeera and the Associated Press, Mohammed Nader, a staff correspondent and cameraman for Al Jazeera, and Hojatullah Mojadadi, an Afghan local radio station manager, and held them all without charge for the "crime" of allegedly having developed contacts with the Taliban. Nekzada and Nader were held for three days. Mojadadi was held by Afghan authorities for six days.
The three were ultimately released following international pressure and following demands for the release of the two NATO-held journalists made by Afghan President Hamid Karzai.


False Reality vs. Iraq and Afghan Facts

punditman says...

According to Richard Gwyn, in today's Toronto Star, the Americans have "gone" from Iraq. This of course is wrong; Gwyn surely knows it and Punditman will email him and ask why he planted this falsehood in an otherwise insightful piece about how insiders blabbed to Bob Woodward about Afghanistan in Woodward's new book, Obama's Wars.

We are led to believe that Iraq, while perhaps not Disneyland (for example, torture continues unabated), is a much better place now that Saddam is dead and the Americans have gone stayed on in large numbers and are still participating in combat. Of course they have not gone. Just as there is no way that they intend on leaving Afghanistan. As an example of how false reality becomes news, journalist John Pilger recently wrote a revealing article entitled Flying the Flag, Faking the News. He cites the Iraq example as follows:
False reality: The last US combat troops have left Iraq "as promised, on schedule", according to President Barack Obama. TV screens have filled with cinematic images of the "last US soldiers" silhouetted against the dawn light, crossing the border into Kuwait.

Fact: They are still there. At least 50,000 troops will continue to operate from 94 bases. American air assaults are unchanged, as are special forces’ assassinations. The number of "military contractors" is currently 100,000 and rising. Most Iraqi oil is now under direct foreign control. 

The difference is that with Afghanistan, at least for the time being, the US and NATO are publicly stating they have no way of leaving and no intention of doing so. Quoting from Woodward's book, Gwyn notes that General David Patreus certainly isn't anticipating some near time exit, “I don't think you win this war...You have to stay after it. This is the kind of fight we're in for the rest of our lives, and probably our kids' lives.”

But look for that storyline to change. Punditman says that at some point, for political reasons, the propagandists of our era will decide to "engineer public consent" for the greater good by creating yet another "false reality," which will then become a "news event" (i.e., "we are now leaving Afghanistan"). Will a reality-TV, celebrity-obsessed, distracted populace believe them? Punditman won't. Peacenik won't. Stay tuned.


Punditman's email to Mr. Gwyn has gone unanswered. Meanwhile, for an army that has "gone" from Iraq, the US military sure continues to do a lot of damage: US Combat Continues in ‘Post-Combat’ Iraq Despite Claims of 'End of Combat' in Iraq, Rules of Engagement Never Changed.


Puke Time

Our county fair put me in mind of that American classic, Moby Dick, this year. So many white whales among the try-pots bubbling with rendered blubber, where crews of savages from all corners of the world toiled to bring forth batter-dipped Mars bars, Pop Tarts, corn dogs, funnel cakes, and other rarities of the deep fryer... and then the whales ventured a little further down the midway where they mounted the engines of swirling cosmic death, and were flung about in the centrifugal pods of fate on the ingenious mechanical arms of innovation, until their sickened souls gave forth with a mighty spewage of corn byproducts that rained down upon the moiling innocents below....
Like most metaphors, this one limps a bit, as did Captain Ahab himself, with his whale-bone peg-leg. But when everyday life gets detached from reality, metaphor is all you've got left. And in this ridiculous, sickening culture, with its toxic stream of electronic simulacrum politics sucking all the oxygen out of the collective brain-space, the mind is left wandering numbly across a kind of wilderness where twisted sign-posts point to mutant evangelists, freakish ideologies, false prophets, deadly miracle cures, phantoms on horseback, angels with bat-wings, and the ghost of Spotted Elk lying dead in the snow with his stiffened arm beckoning the way to extinction like Melville's Ahab corded to the hump of his sounding white whale. Oh, America, pull your head out of your electronic ass while you still can! And look out below!


Michael Moore & Paul Laverty criticize the Harper government's treatment of U.S. Iraq War resisters

punditman says...Polls indicate most Canadians would welcome US war resisters into Canada. The Canadian government should allow them to apply for citizenship rather than sending them back where they face potential prison sentences. Shame on Stephen Harper and his government for lacking an ounce of common decency. Americans who have deserted from this criminal war are great Americans.


Scary People, Scary Times

Yes the scary people are coming out of the woodwork in the U.S.A., aided and abetted by right wing media. The most wild accusations about Obama, whether he was born in the U.S., whether he is a socialist, whether he is a muslim, whether he is a christian, etc., etc., all get major play. Is Obama afraid of the scary people? Peacenik thinks so. Obama is afraid to put solar panels on the roof of the White House for fear of offending the nutjobs. Obama is afraid to fight for extended unemployment benefits. Obama is afraid to fight for social security. Obama is afraid to fight for fair taxation. Obama is afraid to close Guantanamo. Obama is afraid to end the wars and bring the troops home. Yes the scary people are in charge. It is laughable that someone who has offered so little to the public discourse, such as John Boehner, can rise to be the Speaker of the House. But when the president is a scardy cat, when the supposed leader of the progressive movement is a scardy cat, this is what happens. Sarah Palin as president, becomes imaginable.

In that order. The scary people have already started coming out of the woodwork. The times lately have been mostly uncertain, but soon they'll turn scary, too, as it becomes clearer that the people running things in the USA have no idea what's going on or what they're going to do about it -- and what's going on is an involuntary permanent re-set of the terms of everyday life, from a wet-dream robotic "consumer" techtopia to something more like the first chapter of Tobacco Road, with a family of half-wits reduced by hard times to fighting over a sack of turnips in a roadside ditch. That's the story-arc anyway, and lots of people won't like it. But the theme of dwindling resources is not a pretty one.
The most striking feature of the current scene is the absence of a coherent vision of our multiple related predicaments and how they add up to a valid picture of reality. To be precise, I mean our predicaments of 1.) energy resources, 2.) vanishing capital, and 3.) ecocide. This inability to decode the clear and present dangers to civilized life is a failure of leadership and authority without precedent in the American story.

Read on...


US soldiers 'killed Afghan civilians for sport and collected fingers as trophies'

punditman says...Lovely. Another sure way to win hearts and minds. Now, what were those idiots saying about the great progress being made in Afghanistan?

Chris McGreal in Washington
The Guardian

Soldiers face charges over secret 'kill team' which allegedly murdered at random and collected fingers as trophies of war

Twelve American soldiers face charges over a secret "kill team" that allegedly blew up and shot Afghan civilians at random and collected their fingers as trophies.

Five of the soldiers are charged with murdering three Afghan men who were allegedly killed for sport in separate attacks this year. Seven others are accused of covering up the killings and assaulting a recruit who exposed the murders when he reported other abuses, including members of the unit smoking hashish stolen from civilians.

In one of the most serious accusations of war crimes to emerge from the Afghan conflict, the killings are alleged to have been carried out by members of a Stryker infantry brigade based in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan.


The Elephant in the Room: Just don't mention Foreign Policy!

punditman says...

Punditman has never been all that interested in trying to figure out the root causes of terrorism, specifically, “jihadism” or “Islamic terrorism.” Clearly, the reasons are historically based, complex, multifaceted, controversial and infinitely debatable. While the research and ideological infighting is interesting, Punditman recognizes the phenomenon as the obvious threat that it is and is therefore interested in supporting actions that don’t make it worse while opposing those that dosuch as invading Muslim countries and killing Muslim kids. A simple and slipshod approach, perhaps, but no more feeble-minded or intellectually lazy than some of our esteemed mainstream commentators.  

In a recent Globe and Mail commentary, Margaret Wente attempts to tackle domestic terrorism, global jihad and Canadian foreign policy. Uh oh. Punditman always knows what is coming when she ventures outside her soapbox’s comfort zone: shallow analysis supporting the neo-con status quo.

She does not disappoint. As always, she makes a valid point or two. Wente notes that terrorism suspect Dr. Khurman Sher, one of the suspects arrested last week in Canada on terrorism charges is, "not a hate-filled product of poverty and disadvantage. He’s not even a second-class citizen...Instead, Dr. Sher’s the product of Canada’s uniquely successful multicultural meritocracya homegrown, ball-hockey-playing, fun-loving fellow who zipped through one of the toughest med schools in the country and made fun of religious Muslims on Canadian Idol

In other words, just a regular guy who happens to be Muslimand a successful one too. But I beg to differ on one point: he must hate something. Wente continues,” The depressing truth is that radicalized Muslims in the West often work in medicine, engineering or computer science. According to terrorism expert Marc Sageman, they’re typically highly educated family men. They’re quite sane. And they may not even be particularly religious."

Quite sane. Not particularly religious (and darned if punditman didn't always think that docs, engineers and computer geeks should be required to take more ethics courses to avoid turning into bomb-making mad scientists).

What could possibly be making these Muslim men so secretly angry that they would want to kill their fellow Canadians? Well, for Wente, it has little to do with Canadian or Western foreign policy. Moreover, those that point to this elephant in the room are to be dismissed and dissed: "Some people have the answer. It’s our foreign policy, stupid! If only we stopped waging war in Afghanistan, kowtowing to the imperialist Americans and sucking up to Israel, then people wouldn’t get so riled up they’d want to blow up Parliament. “The solution is … to stop being in denial that there is no connection between the wars we wage and the terrorist mayhem that they trigger,” pronounced the Toronto Star’s Haroon Siddiqui (among others). In other words, it, too, is our fault." 

No, he never said terror plots are our fault; Siddiqui merely makes the same connection that many security experts make. For instance, in 9-11’s aftermath, the late Bill Christison, former Senior CIA officer, outlined six root causes of terrorism, all connected in some way to US foreign policy. It's a complex, interconnected world out there. But the more she delves into it, the more Wente gets downright befuddling. "The trouble is, lots of people hate our foreign policy. Some of them even go to Afghanistan to fight on the other side. These people are usually Muslims who’re convinced they’re engaged in a worldwide war of jihad. " 

Then Wente goes seriously off the rails. "And I suspect that our foreign policy has far less to do with inciting their murderous fantasies than does the seductive ideology of Islamism–widely available via the Internet and disseminated through radical Muslim groups at many of our finest universities. Far too many young Muslim Canadians, especially Pakistanis, are being whipped up into a frenzy to hate the very society that sustains them." 

That's an interesting "suspicion." But reporters should not "suspect." They should dig up facts. For example, last Thursday, RCMP Chief Supt. Serge Therriault, head of criminal operations for the capital region, explained at an Ottawa news conference that police were forced to arrest these latest terror suspects when they learned that funds were about to be transferred from Canada for weapons to attack western coalition forces in … wait for it … Afghanistan! Of all places. But forget about foreign policy or Afghanistan because Wente "suspects" otherwise. She then goes on to blame domestic Muslim communities for not doing enough to stop the brainwashing of their youth (presumably in mosques, universities and on the internet) but then cites one religious Muslim man in Toronto who runs programs aimed at deradicalizing Muslim youth. Fair enough.

But Punditman "suspects" that these latest terrorism suspects have seen pictures of dead Iraqi and Afghan children killed by Western bombs and they know of US army death squads and Predator drones that routinely kill innocent civilians. Punditman "suspects" that they know of the blind spot in our media when it comes to war crimes and a generally passive Western populace who acquiesce in the invasion and occupation of Muslim lands. Punditman does not know if these terror suspects are "religious" or not or if they are much interested in violently reestablishing the caliphate or have fantasies about instating Sharia law in Canada. Time may tell. But punditman does "suspect" that they want to lash out because violence begets violence. Unfortunately, Wente refuses to take off her blinders long enough to at least acknowledge this plain reality.

Instead, by attempting to debunk the Western foreign policy is a factor in terrorism argument, Wente ends up in  la la land. Her "logic" goes something like this: many Muslims hate our foreign policy but domestic terror plots have little to do with our foreign policy. Instead, seductive Islamism simply whips these well adjusted successful, assimilated Muslim men into a frenzy. So they hate us, because they are whipped into a frenzy to hate us. Punditman "suspects" this is what she was actually trying to say.


Obama Wants Us To Forget the Lessons of Iraq

Peacenik couldn't even bring Peacenik to watch Obama's speech last night. This overview of the debacle is ok.....but no overview can really capture the folly of the Iraq war. It was/is a waste of lives, money and honour. And to suggest that it is over is simply bullshit.

by Andrew Bacevich

The Iraq war? Fuggedaboudit. "Now, it is time to turn the page." So advises the commander-in-chief at least. "[T]he bottom line is this," President Obama remarked last Saturday, "the war is ending." Alas, it's not. Instead, the conflict is simply entering a new phase. And before we hasten to turn the page-something that the great majority of Americans are keen to do-common decency demands that we reflect on all that has occurred in bringing us to this moment. Absent reflection, learning becomes an impossibility.

For those Americans still persuaded that everything changed the moment Obama entered the Oval Office, let's provide a little context. The event that historians will enshrine as the Iraq war actually began back in 1990 when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, Iraq's unloved and unlovable neighbor. Through much of the previous decade, the United States had viewed Saddam as an ally of sorts, a secular bulwark against the looming threat of Islamic radicalism then seemingly centered in Tehran. Saddam's war of aggression against Iran, launched in 1980, did not much discomfit Washington, which offered the Iraqi dictator a helping hand when his legions faced apparent defeat.

Read on...