Joe Biden Didn’t Just Vote for the Iraq Invasion
He Helped Lead the March to War
By Branko Marcetic, In These Times Magazine, July 8, 2019
As the Trump administration’s saber-rattling toward Iran threatens another disastrous war in the Middle East, foreign policy has gained newfound focus in the 2020 presidential race. And former Vice President Joe Biden’s 2002 vote in favor of the Iraq War leaves him with a particularly glaring vulnerability.
A recent POLITICO/Morning Consult poll showed more than 40 percent of respondents between 18 and 29 were less likely to back Biden because of it.
But to say the now-Democratic frontrunner voted for the Iraq War doesn't fully describe his role in what has come to be widely acknowledged as the most disastrous foreign policy decision of the 21st century.
A review of the historical record shows Biden didn't just vote for the war—he was a leading Democratic voice in its favor, and played an important role in persuading the public of its necessity and, more broadly, laying the groundwork for Bush's invasion.
As President Bush attempted to sell the U.S. public on the war, Biden became one of the administration’s steadfast allies in this cause, backing claims about the supposed threat posed by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and insisting on the necessity of removing him from power.
In the months leading up to and following the invasion, Biden would make repeated, contradictory statements about his position on the issue, eventually casting himself as an unrepentant backer of the war effort just as the public and his own party began to sour on it.
Biden hadn't always been a hawk on Iraq.
In 1996 Biden criticized Republican claims that then-President Bill Clinton wasn’t being tough enough on Iraq amid calls to remove Saddam Hussein from power, labeling an ouster “not a doable policy.”
Before the War on Terror drove U.S. foreign policy, Biden criticized Bush during his first year in office for the then-president’s hawkish position on missile defense.
September 11th changed all this.
Bush’s approval rating shot up to a historic 90 percent, and any elected officials who failed to match the president’s zeal for military retribution became vulnerable to accusations of being “soft on terror.”
“Count me in the 90 percent,” Biden said in the weeks after the attack. There was “total cohesion,” he said, between Democrats and Republicans in the challenges ahead. “There is no daylight between us.”
In November 2001, Biden had batted away suggestions of regime change, saying the United States should defeat al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden before thinking about other targets.
By February 2002, he appeared to have creaked opened the door to the possibility of an invasion.
“If Saddam Hussein is still there five years from now, we are in big trouble,” he told a crowd of 400 Delaware National Guard officers that month at the annual Officers Call event.
“It would be unrealistic, if not downright foolish, to believe we can claim victory in the war on terrorism if Saddam is still in power,” he said around the same time, echoing the language of hawks like Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman.
“There is overwhelming support for the proposition that Saddam Hussein should be removed from power,” he said in March 2002, while noting that divisions remained about how exactly that would be done...
During frequent television appearances, Biden didn’t just insist on the necessity of removing Hussein from power, but appeared to signal to the Bush administration on what grounds it could safely seek military action against Iraq.
When Bush’s directive to the CIA to step up support for Iraqi opposition groups and even possibly capture and kill Hussein was leaked to the Washington Post in June, Biden gave it his approval.
By July Biden appeared to rule out a diplomatic solution to the conflict. “Dialogue with Saddam is useless,” he said.
On September 12, almost a year to the day of the terrorist attacks that had sparked the march to war, Bush went before the UN to make a case for an invasion directly to the international community.
Biden praised him for doing “a very good job” in making that case with a “brilliant” speech, and again stressed that “this is the world’s fight,” though cautioning that “the worst option is going it alone, but it is an option.”
On October 11, Biden was one of 77 senators who voted to give Bush the authorization to wage war on Iraq, joining fellow Democrats such as Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, Harry Reid and Dianne Feinstein. Twenty-one Democratic senators, including Dick Durbin, Ron Wyden and Patrick Leahy, voted against it.
On November 11, 2002, Biden gave a speech at a meeting of the Trotter Group, an organization of African-American columnists. Perhaps owing to strong black opposition to the war, including the NAACP board’s October 28, 2002, adoption of a resolution opposing the invasion, Biden sounded very different notes in front of the audience. He denied there was a direct link between Hussein and al-Qaeda (“I don’t consider the war on Iraq the war on terror”) and struck a less hawkish note (“My hope is that we don’t need to go into Iraq”).
After chairing hearings filled with pro-war testimony, Biden told the Trotter Group crowd that “the guys who have to fight this war don't think it's a good idea,” and that doing so would be “the dumbest thing in the world.”
Yet even as he painted himself as a war opponent, Biden’s role in making the war happen wasn’t finished.
In December 2002, Biden embarked on a trip to Germany and the Middle East with Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel to cobble together a coalition for the impending war.
He first flew to Germany to meet with an Iraqi resistance leader, then headed to Jordan to meet with its monarch, before stopping in Israel and Qatar.
As Colin Powell prepared to present supposed evidence of Iraq’s WMD program to the UN in February—a factually flawed address that Powell two years later would call a “blot” on his record—Biden hyped the presentation to the press, saying the administration “has evidence now that can change people's minds.”
“I know there's enough circumstantial evidence that if this were a jury trial, I could convict you,” he said. After Powell’s address, Biden called his case “very powerful and I think irrefutable,” and told him, “I am proud to be associated with you.”
As Bush issued an ultimatum to Hussein on March 17—leave or be invaded—Biden was behind him.
“I support the president,” he said after meeting with Bush and other officials before the ultimatum. “Diplomacy over avoiding war is dead. ... I do not see any alternative. It is not as if we can back away now.”
Months after the war was launched and Hussein was deposed, any reservations Biden claimed to have had about the war appeared to melt away.
“I voted to go into Iraq, and I'd vote to do it again,” he said at a July 2003 hearing.
Regime Change In Iraq
chronological overview 2002-2003
"The United States is busy redrawing the map of this region to serve its interest and that of its Israeli ally. President Bush is serving Israel’s interests by bringing all Arab countries to their knees. For all Arabs, the campaign against Iraq will herald a regional catastrophe." Osama El-Sherif, PalestineChronicle 19-7-2002
Turkey's Kalın, Russia's Syria envoy Lavrentiev
discuss Idlib, safe zone, terror fight
Daily Sabah [Turkey], 10.07.2019
Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalın met with Russia's Special Envoy to Syria Alexander Lavrentiev on Wednesday, as both discussed the Syrian Constitutional Committee, latest developments regarding Idlib and the safe zone, as well as the fight against terror.
In the meeting, in which Turkey's concerns and priorities regarding its national security were underscored, Turkish and Russian delegations discussed the preservation of the Idlib de-escalation agreement, the establishment of the Syrian Constitutional Committee, and the fight against terror throughout Syria.
The meeting also underlined the importance of fighting against all terrorist groups, including Daesh, the PKK and its branches the YPG and PYD, and reaching a political solution within the framework of the territorial integrity of Syria and rebuilding the war-torn country.
The importance of maintaining cooperation between the two countries with trust and transparency as well as the continuance of the effective and continuous communication on Syria between Turkish and Russian leaders was also underlined by both delegations.
The meeting vowed to alleviate Turkey's security concerns and rid the region of all terrorist elements.
Uncertainty has become a distinctive feature of our lives in the 21st century.
Even Werner Heisenberg, who formulated the principle of uncertainty, would have been surprised by the degree to which things have become unstable and uncertain. This is rather ironic because this is supposed to be the age of enlightened rationalism, science and freedom. But the realities of the post-modern and post-industrial world tell a different story.
The ironies of the present age are not limited to the principle of uncertainty.
This was supposed to become the age of high humanism... The promise of modernity was justice, freedom and equality for all. But we witness some of the most inhuman and barbaric atrocities taking place before our eyes in the 21st century.
The global refugee crisis alone is sufficient to show the level of hypocrisy and double standards in the face of the lofty ideals of the current global order.
Syrian, Libyan, Afgan, Somalian and Rohingya refugees, among others, tell a shameful story of indifference and disrespect. The fact that they happen to be Muslims says something about the ethno-centric perceptions of the human condition in the present age.
Uncertainty underlies much of the current global order.
But uncertainty is not always a bad thing. It may teach us a thing or two about the human condition and the limitations of our imagined powers.
It induces us to be prepared for the unexpected. It keeps us fresh and agile in the face of good or bad surprises. It forces us to take extra caution against complex set of problems in ways that are inclusive rather than exclusive.
But above all, uncertainty can teach us humility – a key virtue that we have forgotten in the modern world.
[Modern] men did think of themselves as the new masters of the world. It did not take too long for this "master" to turn into an exploiter and spoiler.
Playing God does not serve human beings.
We are not the masters but rather the guardians and trustees of the universe. The world of nature has been given to us as "trust" (amanah) and we are charged with the duty of taking care of this trust.
Acting as a trustee of the universe does not mean pacifism or an attitude of indifference toward the world. To the contrary, it establishes a more balanced, humane and productive relationship between human beings and the world of nature. It means serving human needs and interest while protecting the natural environment...
By destroying the universe of which we claim to be the masters, we are destroying our present and future. I hope we realize this simple but fundamental fact before it is too late.
A person with a God Complex may refuse to admit the possibility of their error or failure, even in the face of irrefutable evidence, intractable problems or difficult or impossible tasks. The person is also highly dogmatic in their views, meaning the person speaks of their personal opinions as though they are unquestionably correct. Someone with a god complex may exhibit no regard for the conventions and demands of society, and may request special consideration or privileges.
Israel: New Likud ad campaign rails against
Blue & White's new American strategist Joel Benenson.
Sara Rubenstein, Arutz Sheva, 12/07/2019
In a somber but dramatic tone, the video narrator lists the anti-Israel actions of Blue and White's new campaign strategist and implores the center-left party to fire him, in a new Likud campaign ad published on Friday.
"Meet the new strategist of Gantz and Lapid, Joel Benenson, a far-left politician in the United States," the narrator says on the Likud campaign video.
"Let's go over his resume. He told Hillary Clinton to refrain from inviting Israel to public events. He was active in advancing the dangerous nuclear agreement with Iran. How does a man like this get work in Israel? Gantz and Lapid, fire him."
"Gantz and Lapid, have you gone crazy?" is written below the video, which was published on Prime Minister's Benjamin Netanyahu's Twitter account.
Blue and White announced earlier this week that they recruited Benenson as a campaign strategist with a focus on data analysis.
Benenson, 66, is known for serving as the political strategist for both of former President Barack Obama's campaigns as well as serving as the chief strategist for Hillary Clinton's failed campaign for president in 2016. He has served as a strategist for many - mostly Democratic - political campaigns.
"Fire him!": Benjamin Netanyahu, Twitter, july 2019
Flashback: The Hill, august 2018:
Former Obama strategist Joel Benenson said that the emergence of secular, young people in politics is frightening to Republicans and conservatives.
"These generations are more diverse. They are more tolerant of others. They come to the table with a set of values that are not rooted in a religious foundation in their household," Benenson said to Hill.TV's Joe Concha on "What America's Thinking."
"They are closer to liberation theology than they are to white, evangelical philosophy. But their approach to life is to be accepting of others," he continued.
"They're the generation that drove the discussion in their households frequently about marriage equality, which ultimately had a majority of Americans, including a fair number of white, Christians supporting it," Benenson said.
"So you've got a generational change taking place. This isn't just a religious change, and I think that generational change is part of what's scaring Republican practitioners."
Joel Benenson warned 2018 midterms candidates against running from the extremes.
"This is a centrist country. We don't live at the extremes. And you don't win elections, and you can't govern from either extreme. You need to win people in the middle and persuade them to your side in order to create a majority..."
The problematic nature of Saudi-US relations
Fethi Özbey, Anadolu Agency [Turkey], 05.07.2019
U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent habit of addressing Saudi Arabia in a manner that violates long-established diplomatic practices and courtesy, even bordering on mockery sometimes, has sparked fresh interest in the nature of Saudi-U.S. relations.
Listen to public statements the U.S. president recently made about Saudi Arabia: “We protect Saudi Arabia. Would you say they’re rich? And I love the King ... King Salman but I said, ‘King, we’re protecting you. You might not be there for two weeks without us. You have to pay for your military’ ”, and “They [Saudis] have nothing but cash, right?”.
The Saudi administration’s continued indifference to this undiplomatic manner adopted by the U.S. president raises certain questions.
From its establishment in 1932 to the present day, Saudi Arabia has attached great importance to developing good relations with the U.S., which has been its most crucial security guarantor.
The security guarantor role that the U.S. plays in the Gulf region commenced on Feb. 14, 1945 at a meeting the then U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt had with King Abdulaziz ibn Saud on the USS Quincy anchored in the Red Sea, and it continues to the present day.
But despite all the years that have since passed, no regional or global power has had the capacity and motivation to ensure the security of the Gulf region, and by extension, that of Saudi Arabia. This forces the Saudis to maintain their alliance with the United States at any cost.
That the close relations between the two countries are based on interests rather than common values often forces the weaker ally to make serious concessions to ensure the continuity of the alliance.
A brief overview of the political systems of the two countries would be sufficient to understand that the U.S. and Saudi Arabian states do not share common values. We are talking about two allies, one of which is a democratic country that has adopted liberal and libertarian values, and the second one being a country where the ruling family exclusively possesses the privilege of running the state, has a monopoly on the distribution of power and wealth, and a political system in which the people being ruled have limited political and civil rights.
And this very fact --that the relations are based on interests and not values-- gives rise to occasional disruption in the relations between the two countries.
While statements and attitudes that violate diplomatic courtesy against the Saudi Arabian administration seem to be uniquely Trumpian, they also serve to reveal the weak position of the Saudis in the U.S.-Saudi alliance.
As Trump has made it crystal clear, “they [Saudis] have nothing but cash”, and this alliance is based on the Saudis buying security guarantees from the U.S. with their petro-dollars.
The fact that the Saudi administration remains silent in the face of Trump’s statements although it never fails to respond in kind to the slightest criticism from any other country should be seen as a major sacrifice that the Saudis have had to make for the continuation of this alliance.
For example, the Saudi administration strongly rejected the statements that the Canadian foreign minister last year made about Saudi Arabia, and responded to Canada with harsh economic and diplomatic sanctions, whereas they prefer to remain silent against Trump’s increasingly disturbing tone.
In fact, a closer look at the Middle East policy of the U.S. after the Cold War shows that the policy it has been pursuing in regard to Saudi Arabia is one intended to continually isolate the oil-rich nation in the region in order to compel it to seek refuge under the U.S. security umbrella.
All in all, it is none other than the U.S. that has increased the Saudis’ threat sensitivity by doing things such as giving the green light to Saddam’s entry into Kuwait in 1990 , invading Iraq in 2003 and then withdrawing its troops only to leave the country vulnerable to Iranian influence, providing direct/indirect support to the street movements during the Arab Spring after 2010, thereby contributing to the collapse of the regimes that were Saudi allies (Egypt, Yemen, Tunisia), and signing a nuclear deal with Iran in 2015.
The increased security concerns of the Saudis during all these periods mentioned above invariably resulted in the ordering of more and more weapons at exorbitant prices from the U.S. defense industry.
As long as Saudi Arabia does not take the path of strengthening the ties between the government and Saudi citizens at home, does not give up the meaningless competitions with the major powers of the region, and, overall, does not reduce the number of its enemies and increase the number of its friends, there will be no change in its security dependence on the U.S., or in the disturbing tone of U.S. state officials.
The world is not a slave of the United States of America
Andre Vltchek, Dissident Voice, July 10th, 2019
The United States believes that it is so invincible, exceptional and so frightening that no one would ever dare to protest, let alone defend its people against constant humiliation, economic embargos and military threats.
It used to be like this for quite some time. In the past, the colonialists used to bully the world before and after each well-planned assault. Also, well-crafted propaganda used to be applied.
It was declared that things are done ‘legally’ and rationally. There were certain stages to colonialist and imperialist attacks: “define your goals”, “identify your victim”, “plan”, “brainwash your own citizens and people all over the world”, and then, only then, “bomb some unfortunate country back to the stone ages”.
Donald Trump & His Friends
Now, things are slightly different. “The leader of the free world” wakes up in the middle of the night, and he tweets... He does not seem to plan; he shoots off from the hip.
Today, as I am writing this essay, he has declared that he has “five strategies for Venezuela”.
Earlier, as he was about to land outside London, he embarked on insulting the Mayor of the British capital, calling him names.He has been regularly offending Mexico, and, of course, Iran, China and Russia.
Anyone, at any time, could easily land on the proverbial hit list of President Trump and the hawks of his United States of A.
The world had been converted into an entity which appears to be run by a bloodthirsty and unpredictable dictatorship.
It was always like this, at least in the modern history of the planet. Colonialism, neo-colonialism, imperialism..., often hidden deep under the surface. But this time it is all in the open, raw and brutally honest.
Both George W. Bush and Donald Trump have one thing in common: they are honest.
Bill Clinton and Barrack Obama were both ‘suave’ presidents. They were loved in Europe, as they knew how to speak politely, how to dine elegantly, and how to commit mass murder in a ‘rational, righteous way’; ‘old-fashioned, European-style’.
The brutal, vulgar ways of W. Bush and Donald Trump, have been consistently shocking all those individuals who are pleased when things are done ‘stylishly’ and ‘politically correctly’...
The entire world now resembles a brutal ghetto, or a slum, where a heavily armed gang controls the streets, and, in fact, every corner and alley.
Now, a horrible reality is flying directly into all directions: “You will do as you are told!” “It is us who will decide.” “Obey, because we said so”.
Entire proud nations are being reduced into states of slaves or even worse – lap dogs.
So far, the world is doing nothing.
All this may change, soon. If you provoke the entire world, something very terrible may happen!
The world is not a slave of the United States. It is not a latrine.
Andre Vltchek is a [left-wing, socialist] philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Four of his latest books are 'China and Ecological Civilization', 'Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism', a revolutionary novel Aurora and a bestselling work of political non-fiction: 'Exposing Lies Of The Empire'. (Autobio-Info: How I became a revolutionary and internationalist)
Russia, China, Iran & Venezuela developing crypto
to challenge US financial control
RT [Russia], 12-7-2019
trump-mnuchin: "sanctions are coming"
A new report by the American Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) says the US’ geopolitical adversaries are deploying blockchain technology to help avoid sanctions and counter US financial power.
According to the FDD, with the increase of adoption of cryptocurrencies around the world, efforts are underway to build new systems for transferring value that work outside of conventional banking infrastructure.
Governments in Russia, China, Iran, and Venezuela are experimenting with the technology that underpins the crypto market, said the report. They are prioritizing blockchain technology as a “key component of their efforts to counter US financial power.”
US waterboards Iran then asks for talks: former IAEA head
Mehr News, TEHRAN, 13 july 2019
Washington is waterboarding Iran then asks for talks, said former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohamed ElBaradei:
"I ask: What's wrong with [..] surrender?" "Surrender is the recognition that in a contest, staying the course will prove costlier than submission." Danny Danon, june 2019
“They are applying a waterboarding method to Iran, drowning Iran and then looking and then asking them: let’s have a dialogue without any preconditions …
No country is going to cooperate under these humiliating conditions,” he told BBC Radio 4, The Telegraph reported on Friday. “If they (the US) want to go to war they are doing a perfect job,” he also added.
The United States unilaterally pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal in May 2018 and imposed sanctions on Iran...
The move was politically condemned by the international community, yet, during the next one year, no practical measure was taken to shield Iran’s economy from harsh US sanctions.
ElBaradei went on to say that Iran’s actions are a ‘cry for help’ noting that ‘they are not an imminent threat’. He said that Iran is too far from 90% uranium enrichment needed for a nuclear bomb while Iran has always reiterated that nukes have no place in its defense doctrine and that uranium enrichment is solely done for peaceful purposes.
“It’s a symbolic reaction from a country that can’t even import medicines because of sanctions imposed by the US,” he said.
An act of diplomatic vandalism
Trump scrapped Iran nuclear deal 'to spite Obama'
BBC News, 14-7-2019
Donald Trump abandoned the Iran nuclear deal to spite Barack Obama, according to a leaked memo written by the UK's former ambassador to the US.
Sir Kim Darroch described the move as an act of "diplomatic vandalism", according to the Mail on Sunday. The paper says the memo was written after the then Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson appealed to the US in 2018 to stick with the nuclear deal.
The latest leak came despite the Met Police warning against publication.
The first memos criticising Trump's administration, which emerged a week ago, prompted a furious reaction from the US president and resulted in Sir Kim resigning from his role.
In the Mail's most recent revelation, it reports Sir Kim wrote that Republican President Donald Trump appeared to be abandoning the nuclear deal for "personality reasons" because the pact had been agreed by his Democrat predecessor, Barack Obama.
Under the deal, Iran agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities in return for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions. However, President Trump said he did not think that the deal went far enough and reinstated US sanctions after withdrawing from the deal in May 2018.
The British ambassador is said to have highlighted splits amongst US presidential advisors and that the White House did not have a "day-to-day" strategy of what to do following withdrawal from the deal.
The paper reports that Sir Kim wrote a memo to Mr Johnson, saying: "The outcome illustrated the paradox of this White House: you got exceptional access, seeing everyone short of the president; but on the substance, the administration is set upon an act of diplomatic vandalism, seemingly for ideological and personality reasons - it was Obama's deal.
"Moreover, they can't articulate any 'day-after' strategy; and contacts with State Department this morning suggest no sort of plan for reaching out to partners and allies, whether in Europe or the region."
Joe Biden: 'Occupation is a real problem'
"The settlements are unnecessary"
Arutz Sheva Staff, 14-7-2019
During one of the recent election rallies, a Jewish activist approached US presidential candidate Joe Biden and said: "I'm an American jew, who is very concerned about what Netanyahu's government is doing to Palestinians currently".
Biden answered briefly: "There's no answer but a two state solution".
The young man continued and asked: "I am wondering if you think that the occupation is a human rights crisis, and if you'll pressure Israel when you're president"...
"The answer is I think the settlements are unnecessary", Biden answered, "The only answer is two state solution, number one. Number two: the Palestinians have to step up to stop the hate. So, it's a two way street".
Asked by the young man whether he believes "the occupation is a human rights crisis", Biden answered: "I think occupation is a real problem, a significant problem".
"And will you pressure Israel to end the occupation as president?" the young man asked. "You know I have", Biden answered.
Israeli teachers slam education minister
for backing conversion therapy
Reuters, Ynet, 14-7-2019
Israeli teachers from the LGBTQ community on Sunday sent a letter to the education minister, voicing their strong disapproval of his support for so-called gay “conversion therapy" and were to hold a demonstration calling for him to be fired.
Rafi Peretz on Saturday voiced support on Saturday for the controversial practice of trying to change an individual's sexual orientation, drawing a disavowal from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose government’s religious-rightist tilt has worried liberals a home and backers abroad.
"We will use all legal means at our disposal to protest the education minister’s dangerous and offensive statements," said the teachers, who are expected to hold a protest on Sunday evening, urging the government to dismiss Peretz from his position.
“Support for conversion therapy endangers students from all sectors of Israeli society,” the teachers said in the letter. “We call on the education minister to retract his statement, to apologize and to prove that he is indeed worthy of being entrusted with educating our children.”
Peretz, an Orthodox rabbi and head of the ultranationalist United Right party who assumed the education portfolio in the Netanyahu-led coalition last month, said in a television interview he believed conversion therapy can work.
“I have a very deep familiarity with the issue of education, and I have also done this,” he told Israel’s Channel 12 TV.
Shortly after the interview aired at the end of the Jewish Sabbath, Netanyahu said he spoke to Peretz for “clarification”.
“The education minister’s remarks regarding the pride community are unacceptable to me and do not reflect the position of the government that I head,” the premier said in a statement.
The Loss Of Innocence
Gender Bending with Jesus
Rev. Madison Shockley, Pilgrim Church, March 11 , 2018
Today’s reading comes from the gospel of Thomas. It is one of the earlier Christian documents but was not discovered until 1945. We had only hints of its existence.
Thomas traveled to the east and settled in the area of Edessa where he wrote a collection of sayings. This area was outside the influence of the Roman Empire.
Most Christian writings in the official canon were written within the Roman Empire. The Gospel of Thomas is not part of the official canon.
The early Christians who used this gospel did not face death or serious persecution due to their faith. They did not spend time meditating on Jesus’s death. They just concentrated on Jesus’s teachings.
There, a Christian wanted only to follow the wisdom of Jesus, escape the shallowness of a worldly life, and find dignity and value as a child of God.
This message resonates with us today. Thomas wrote about living wisely and knowing thyself. According to Thomas, in order to be fit for the Kingdom of God, we must return to the original androgyny of our creation from the story of Genesis.
The creation story takes on a different meaning concerning gender. The ultimate expression of humanity was in the oneness, not the duality.
God possessed all the necessary qualities to be a creator God. A opposite sex deity was not necessary. All members of Thomas’s community were equal. There was not gender inequality or stereotypes.
The ancient world was typically a patriarchal society. In Edessa, there was no such discrimination.
Jerusalem’s Upper City, claimed by Palestinians and Jews
by Jonathan Cook, June 20th, 2019
Israel has controlled East Jerusalem and the walled Old [Upper] City since the 1967 war in which it also occupied the adjacent West Bank. It has effectively treated them as annexed territory ever since.
To consolidate its grip on the Old City, Israel has demolished homes and expelled Palestinian residents, empowered Jewish settlers, and imposed sweeping restrictions that make it virtually impossible for most Palestinians to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem, including the Old City, as the capital of a future state, while Israeli leaders have claimed Jerusalem as the state’s “eternal capital” since 1949.
The Old City has huge historic, economic, religious and now national symbolism for both Palestinians and Israelis, particularly because of the Al-Aqsa compound [Mount Moria-Antonia citadel], known as Haram al-Sharif to Muslims and Temple Mount to Jews. This is the most explosive issue in an already incendiary conflict.
At talks in 2000 between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, hosted by US President Bill Clinton at his Camp David residence, US mediators proposed dividing sovereignty over the Old City.
According to the US proposal, Israel would take the Jewish and Armenian quarters, with the Palestinians getting the Muslim and Christian quarters.
Israel, however, demanded exclusive sovereignty over East Jerusalem, with the Palestinians having merely administrative authority over the Old City’s Muslim and Christian Quarters.
Seven years later, at Annapolis, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert evaded the sovereignty issue by proposing instead a temporary international trusteeship administered by Israel, a Palestinian state, the US, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
Over the years, Israel has made it even harder for Palestinians to access the Old [Upper] City.
Despite Al-Aqsa’s central place in Islamic worship, almost none of the two million Palestinians from Gaza have been able to reach Jerusalem since the mid-1990s, when the coastal enclave was sealed off by Israel with a fence.
Israel’s wall and checkpoints have separated Palestinians in the West Bank from Jerusalem, leaving most struggling to reach the Old City too.
Israeli access to the Old City, traditionally via the Jaffa Gate on the western side between the Christian and Armenian quarters, has been facilitated by the new luxury Mamilla shopping mall, which effectively serves as a bridge from West Jerusalem’s city centre.
Israel is now seeking to turn Dung Gate, on the south-eastern side and leading into the Jewish Quarter, into the main entrance. The difficulty is that Dung Gate abuts the Palestinian neighbourhood of Silwan [Lower city-City of David].
Israel is therefore building a cable car that will carry visitors from West Jerusalem over Silwan directly to a settler-run compound. From there, visitors will be able to enter above ground through Dung Gate or underground through tunnels running below the Old City walls to surface at the foot of the Western Wall [Wall of the Roman Fort Antonia].
Peres: "We need to learn 'how to learn'"
Unesco & The Temple
Fort Antonia: Symbol of Roman Power,
or symbol of Jewish Megalomania?
megalomania: an unnaturally strong wish for power and control,
or the belief that you are very much more important and powerful than you really are
The illustration to the left pictures the “Temple Mount” or Haram esh Sharif as envisioned by most scholars.
Note especially—in the upper left hand corner—the standard depiction of Fort Antonia as a modest, diminutive, annex-sized structure, awkwardly connected to the northern “temple” wall.
To the right you will see a depiction of a standard Roman Fortress. The size (generally 50 acres or more), shape and layout were uniform throughout the Empire. You will notice immediately the striking similarity in the shape, character and dimensions to the Temple Mount (at 45 acres) enclosure.
A Roman Fortress housed a standard Roman Legion of 5,200 soldiers. A typical fort would also accommodate additional specialized buildings for blacksmiths, carpenters, butchers, shoemakers, storage for grain and stables for horses.
Other specialized buildings were the Praetorium for the commander, the principia for the administration and hospital.
Outside of each Fort, a Roman style bath was built. A broad avenue for parades and drills, the Via Principalis, would generally bisect the encampment. The walls were massive, and generally made of stone.
The design, pattern and size was standard throughout the Empire, and the encampment that a complete roman legion would need to keep Israel under Roman control would have been no different.
Thus, it is little wonder that eyewitness Josephus referred to Fort Antonia as a “city within a city.” (centuryone.com)
PM candidate Johnson: I would not back
U.S. military action against Iran
The leading candidate to become Britain’s next Prime Minister, lawmaker Boris Johnson, said on Monday he would not currently back the United States if it took military action against Iran.
“Were I to be prime minister now, would I be supporting military action against Iran? Then the answer is no,” Johnson told a leadership debate organised by the Sun newspaper and TalkRadio.
U.S.-Iranian tensions have escalated since U.S. President Donald Trump decided last year to abandon the nuclear deal under which Iran agreed to curtail its atomic programme in return for relief from economic sanctions crippling its economy.
Foreign minister Jeremy Hunt said he did not think the United States was looking for war with Iran, nor Tehran looking for war with Washington.
“The risk we have is something different, which is an accidental war, because something happens in a very tense and volatile situation,” Hunt told the same debate.
Boris Johnson - Flashback
Arming the Syrian rebels would be “pressing weapons into the hands of maniacs and Al-Qaeda thugs,” London’s mayor has warned. His is the latest call in a wave of rhetoric urging the UK prime minister not to provide the Syrian rebels with weapons.
Writing for British publication The Telegraph, Boris Johnson wrote that the UK must not use Syria as “an arena for muscle flexing.” “We can’t use Syria as an arena for geopolitical point-scoring or muscle-flexing, and we won’t get a ceasefire by pressing weapons into the hands of maniacs,” wrote Johnson.
'Blair has finally gone mad’: London mayor
London Mayor Boris Johnson has launched a stinging attack on former British prime minister Tony Blair over his claims that the current conflict in Iraq is not linked to the West's 2003 invasion.
Johnson’s strong condemnation is a reaction to the arguments made in the former British Prime Minister’s piece entitled 'Iraq, Syria and the Middle East,' where claims range from placing blame on the Iraqi government to Syria for allowing the recent attack on Mosul to take place from within its borders, to explain why militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have launched major attack on Iraqi cities.
But perhaps the most off-the-wall remark that has sent everyone over the edge was Blair’s claim that Britain should be thanked, not blamed, for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Lashing out at the former Prime Minister, Johnson wrote for The Telegraph on Sunday that “I have come to the conclusion that Tony Blair has finally gone mad.”
His essay “struck me as unhinged in its refusal to face facts....
When it comes to the question of why the Iraq invasion happened in the first place, the London mayor says that the former British leader’s whole campaign arose out of a desire to achieve personal “grandeur.”
Boris Johnson: "We cannot make the world a better place
unless we are at least honest about our failures..."
The Telegraph 15-6-2014
The truth is that we destroyed the institutions of authority in Iraq without having the foggiest idea what would come next. As one senior British general has put it to me, “we snipped the spinal cord” without any plan to replace it...
That is the truth, and it is time Tony Blair accepted it. When we voted for that war – and I did, too – we did so with what now looks like the hopelessly naive assumption that the British and American governments had a plan for the aftermath; that there was a government waiting in the wings; that civic institutions would be preserved and carried on in the post-Saddam era...
I fondly imagined that there would be a plan for the transition... I felt so nervous (and so guilty) about this assumption, that I went to Baghdad in the week after the fall of Saddam, to see if I was right. I was not.
It would be wrong and self-defeating to conclude that because we were wrong over Iraq, we must always be wrong to try to make the world a better place. But we cannot make this case unless we are at least honest about our failures...
UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson says Britain has changed its stance and now believes Syrian President Bashar Assad could potentially be allowed to run for president if there was a peaceful settlement of the conflict.
There is a need to be “realistic about the way the landscape has changed” and to take a fresh look at the situation, Johnson said.
“We are getting to the stage where some sort of democratic resolution has got to be introduced,” he added.
Johnson stressed that cooperation with Russia would most certainly mean cooperation with Iran, Syria’s ally, which is likely to be “a good thing.”
“We think that trying to improve relations with Iran through this deal, and it’s a pretty cautious thing, is on the whole a good thing and we regard that as one of the achievements of the (former US President Barack) Obama administration.”
On the other hand, the foreign minister said that they “do not want to see a further extension of Iranian policy and influence in the region.”
Likud's Word War 3:
Iran (supported by Russia, China, EU)
declared war on America 40 years ago
Kenneth S. Abramowitz, Arutz Sheva [Israel], 16/07/2019
We unfortunately now find ourselves in World War 3, which is far more complex and confusing than World War 2.
A good example is our principal enemy, Iran (supported by Russia, China, EU), which declared war on America 40 years ago, and continuously preaches genocide against America ("Death to America") and Israel ("Death to Israel"):
Numerous U.S. federal courts also ruled that Iran’s leaders “provided material support” to Al Qaeda for the purpose of carrying out the 9/11 attacks, imposed judgments of tens of billions of dollars on them, and ordered U.S.-based properties owned by the Islamic republic to be seized and auctioned off to pay off these and other judgments, for its incessant anti-American terrorism.
As the aggressor, Iran relatively successfully uses all six forms of modern warfare: physical, cultural, economic, legal, demographic, and cyber space.
It has created three worldwide terror arms, specializing in physical terror, narco terror, and cultural terror, totaling an estimated 450,000 terrorists/operatives in over 30 countries, worldwide.
Reacting defensively, the U.S. is fighting back with primarily economic war, some cyber-war, and very limited physical war, mostly through a passive shows of force. The U.S. has yet to use cultural war, legal war or demographic war against Iran.
Iran’s goal is to take over the world, and convert everyone to Islam, particularly its Shiite version, using all forms of warfare.
America’s goal, in contrast, is to live in peace and prosperity...
There is no compatibility between these two national objectives. Either one or the other can prevail, but not both.
Therefore, we find ourselves in WW3... The trick now is to create a winning strategy.
Kenneth Abramowitz serves on the boards of Friends of Likud, Zionist Organisation of America, Americans for a Safe Israel, The Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP), and Bible Lands Museum.
Sourcewatch info: Kenneth S. Abramowitz is a New York businessman. He is a major funder for extreme right-wing causes in Israel and the United States. Abramowitz has also contributed funds for stealing Palestinian land.
Abramowitz appears on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's "list of millionaires" − i.e., potential donors to Likud's primaries/campaigns.
Lavrov: The US is flexing muscles, blames Iran for all sins,
Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post, July 18, 2019
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that the US could ignite the Middle East with its dogged focus on Iran, and hinted that Israel is also responsible for regional unrest.
“The increased tensions in the region are a direct result of the anti-Iranian policy pursued by the US and some of its allies,” Lavrov said in an interview published Wednesday in the Argumenty i Fakty newspaper.
“The US is flexing muscles, blames Iran for all sins,” Lavrov said. “This creates a dangerous situation. It can only take one match to light a fire.”
He spoke less than one month after Israel worked to create a united front against Iran in Syria, at a trilateral meeting in Jerusalem between Israel, Russia and the US.
“Relations with Iran, Israel, as well as other states of the Middle East are valuable to Russia,” Lavrov said.
“Our foreign policy is multipronged, we don’t ‘ally’ against anybody. We guide our partners toward peaceful solutions to problems.”
Lavrov bashed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for making a comparison between European appeasement of Nazi Germany prior to World War II and Europe’s actions with regard to Iran.
“It’s inappropriate to compare Europe in the 1930s with the modern regional reality,” Lavrov said. “[Neville] Chamberlain, [and Édouard] Daladier tried to ‘pacify’ Hitler, send its military machine to the USSR. Nothing like this is seen now. Iran regularly confirms its interest in regional stability.”
At the United Nations on Wednesday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif continued to speak out against crippling US economic sanctions...
“Our people are also subjected the most brutal form of economic terrorism, deliberately targeting innocent civilians to achieve illegitimate political objectives,” Zarif said...
The US’s “unlawful extraterritorial sanctions are a violation of UN Security Council Resolution 2231,” and represent a great threat to the development goals of Tehran and its neighbors, Zarif said.
Lavrov slams silence towards presence
of thousands of terrorists in Idleb
Syrian Arab News Agency, 18 July 2019
Berlin, SANA- Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that there shouldn’t be an endless silence towards the presence of thousands of terrorists in Idleb, asserting that eliminating terrorism is in the interest of all.
Lavrov, interviewed by the German Newspaper Rheinische Post, said “Eliminating terrorism hotbeds in Syria is considered in the interest of the European Union as it will decrease the level of the terrorist threat from the region and will reduce the flow of immigrants.”
Earlier on Wednesday [..] Lavrov affirmed that the US and some Western states are trying to prolong the crisis in Syria and to protect Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist organization in order to achieve certain geopolitical goals.
During the interview, Lavrov asserted that the presence of the Russian forces in Syria aims at combating terrorism upon a request by the Syrian Government.
He indicated that changing any regulatory rules of the presence of these forces will be done by the competent authorities in the two countries.
Russia has been participating in the war against terrorism by the side of the Syrian Arab Army since 2015 upon a request by the Syrian Arab Republic and over that period heavy losses have been inflicted upon the terrorist organization.
Flashback 2013: There's no such thing called FSA anymore.
They're all Islamist brigades - YouTube Vid, 13-10-2013
Mousa al-Omar, a Syrian opposition newscaster for al-Ghad TV (Tomorrow TV) broadcasting from London, explains briefly how the "Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) became strong in Syria and shoots down idiotic conspiracy theories made by some in the Syrian opposition that ISIL is connected to Syrian or Iranian intelligence services.
He also states that there's no such thing as the "Free Syrian Army" (FSA) in Syria anymore. He confirms that all the fighting rebel forces on the ground are, in fact, Islamist brigades.
Cartoonist slams Guardian for spiking illustration
RT [Russia], 18 Jul, 2019
Guardian cartoonist Steve Bell has written an angry email to staff after the newspaper declined to publish his latest cartoon, allegedly over worries about “anti-Semitism” and a possible “legal challenge.”
In a leaked letter posted to Twitter by BuzzFeed journalist Mark Di Stefano, Bell refers to a “bizarre telephone conversation” he had – presumably with an editor – about his latest cartoon.
Bell was told that the paper’s lawyers “were concerned” about the cartoon, which features the Labour Party’s deputy leader Tom Watson as a witchfinder on the hunt for “unholy anti-Semitic tropes,” as well as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
One of the panels shows Netanyahu with two plush puppets he calls “Trumpy Wumpy” and “Bozzy Wozzy” – clearly referring to US President Donald Trump and current candidate for Tory leader and UK prime minister, Boris Johnson.
“Sorry,” says the cartoon Watson, backing down. “I thought you were members of the Labour Party.”
Watson has recently criticized Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of accusations of anti-Semitism within the party. Corbyn’s defenders, however, accuse his political opponents of launching a witch hunt against him to serve a political agenda.
Bell said he “cannot understand” why the cartoon in question would be more open to a legal challenge from Watson than his two previous illustrations, which the Guardian had already published. Those cartoons labelled Watson the “anti-Semite finder general.”
“Does the Guardian no longer tolerate content that counters its editorial line?” he asked. “Is it that you don’t want to offend poor Tom but are quite happy to offend poor Jeremy?”, he added, referring to a “highly partisan and personally insulting” advert against Corbyn published in the paper on the same day it refused to publish his cartoon.
Last month, the New York Times announced it would discontinue all political cartoons, after receiving backlash for “anti-Semitism” over a caricature of Netanyahu, who was portrayed as a dog leading a blind Donald Trump.
steve bell cartoons: 2001-2003
The Israel lobby
The pro-Israel special interest group is one of the most significant and pervasive special interest groups in the United States.
It consists of numerous institutions and individuals that work to influence Congress, the president, academia, the media, religious institutions, and American public opinion on behalf of Israel. It has been active in the U.S. for many decades.
The lobby works to propagandize people of all faiths, races, and political backgrounds. It tries to claim that those who disseminate facts they dislike are “antisemitic” – even the many Jewish and Israeli individuals and organizations who work for peace.
Flashback: Israel’s Lobbyists Pushing Hard for
another War in the Middle East
By Jeremy Salt, Palestine Chronicle, 8-9-2013
Two million refugees out of Syria, some of them Palestinian refugees from 1948 and 1967 and some Iraqi refugees from 2004. They are the consequences of war and yet the raging beast that is devouring the Middle East is still not satiated.
George W. Bush: an American Sisyphus
Another war looms. Another country already devastated is to be shattered by missile attacks. Who wants this war: who could want it? Who could even think of avenging the dead by calling for more killing?
It is not the people of the world. All polls show they are against it....It is only the politicians who want this war...
The only country in which the government and the people are clearly united in their support for an attack on Syria is Israel.
Polls show that nearly 70 per cent of Jewish Israelis are in favor of the US striking Syria... The same lines of attack and support were duplicated by Israel’s formal and informal lobbyists in the US.
In Greek mythology Sisyphus or Sisyphos was the king of Ephyra (now known as Corinth). He was punished for his self-aggrandizing craftiness and deceitfulness by being forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill only for it to roll down when it nears the top, repeating this action for eternity. |
Through the classical influence on modern culture, tasks that are both laborious and futile are therefore described as Sisyphean... (Wkipedia info)
Great nations & Endless Wars
Patrick Buchanan, 18-7-2019
In this new century, leaders of both parties have plunged our country into at least five wars in the Middle and Near East.
In 2001, after ousting the Taliban and driving al-Qaida out, we decided to use our power and ideas to build a new democratic Afghanistan. In 2003, we invaded and occupied Iraq to create a pro-Western bastion in the heart of the Middle East.
In 2011, Barack Obama ordered U.S. planes to attack Colonel Gadhafi’s forces in Libya. We brought him down. Obama then backed Syrian rebels to overthrow the dictator Bashar Assad. In 2015, U.S. forces supported a Saudi war to roll back the Houthi rebels’ victory in Yemen’s civil war.
None of these wars has produced a victory or success for us.
But taken together, they did produce a multitrillion-dollar strategic and human rights disaster. Meanwhile, China gained much from having its great rival, the world’s last superpower, thrashing about ineffectually in the forever wars of the Middle East.
“Great nations do not fight endless wars,” said Trump.
Yes, they do. As the British, French, Germans, Japanese and Russians showed in the last century, that is how they cease to be great nations.
Mapping a future for Libya
Ahmed Eleiba, Ahram online [Egypt], 19 Jul 2019
Eighty Libyan parliamentary representatives spent three days in Cairo this week.
In addition to a visit to parliament and a meeting at the Arab League, on the third day of their visit some of them took part in a conference held under the title “The Future of Libya: Opportunities and Challenges in Building the Nation State”.
Green became the national color of Libya under Gaddafi. It symbolized the predominant religion of Islam as well as Gaddafi’s “Third Universal Theory” as expounded in his Green Book, his book of political writings, published in 1975.
"Nationalism is the basis for the survival of nations. Nations whose nationalism is destroyed are subject to ruin. Minorities, which are one of the main political problems in the world, are the outcome. They are nations whose nationalism has been destroyed and which are thus torn apart." (More info)
The conference was organised by the Egyptian Centre for Strategic Studies (ECSS).
According to participants the purpose of the event was to reinstate the Libyan parliament as the legitimate elected legislative authority in Libya, the body naturally charged with the task of devising a roadmap for resolving the Libyan crisis.
In hosting the conference Egypt hoped to help resolve the Libyan crisis rather than intervene in Libya’s domestic affairs....
The Libyan-Libyan dialogue at the ECSS addressed several fundamental issues related to security deterioration and the concomitant rise in violence and terrorism, porous borders, the proliferation of weapons, illegal migration and drug smuggling — the “five challenges”, as one participant put it. All are exacerbated by foreign intervention which aims to prolong the crisis.
Participants agreed that the security breakdown that set in eight years ago and the successive rounds of instability and flare-ups in violence derive impetus from outside meddling in Libya’s domestic affairs.
NATO military intervention in 2011 paved the way for subsequent foreign meddling that fuelled the conflict and continues to do so.
As one of the speakers pointed out, the NATO operation which was ostensibly launched to help the revolution in Libya instead left the country in ruins. As the international community stepped back other outside parties stepped in, each seeking to win the greatest piece of the Libyan pie.
A chief motive behind the foreign interventions is the Libyan petroleum sector and other natural resources,said one of the parliamentary representatives.
In her opinion, if Libyans are to end the cycle of conflict they need to stop relying on the international community to solve the crisis and rely, instead, on internal dialogue within the framework of a national agenda that activates mechanisms of transitional justice, a general amnesty and awareness-raising among the public.
Conference attendees underscored the role played by long entrenched corruption which has acquired extremely dangerous proportions as a result of the fragile political and security conditions.
“Corruption is the root of the problems in Libya. Libyan money is being extorted and the largest thefts occur in the petroleum sector,” said one participant.. The problem of illegal migration is another concern. As one of the speakers pointed out, “Libya could tackle the problem of illegal migration if security is restored. But there are beneficiaries who want to maintain the status quo.”
Many of the contributions stressed that the Libyan House of Representatives should be the body charged with designing any roadmap out of the current crisis.
nato-backed islamic revolution - libya 2011
The Muslim Brotherhood as members of the
National Security Council of the White House
Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network, Damascus, 19-7-2019
Thierry Meyssan (in his new book 'Right Before Our Eyes, Fake Wars and Big Lies') takes us back to the first semester of 2011, during which, supported by the United States and the United Kingdom, the Muslim Brotherhood approached or won power in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.
Zarif: US presence destabilizing every part of world
IRNA -Tehran, July 20, 2019
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad-Javad Zarif told reporters upon arrival in Caracas [Venezuela] that presence of the United States in every part of the world is destabilizing and that US sanctions put pressure on people hampering the economic development and paving the way for extremism and terrorism.
"The resistance of the people of Venezuela against the interventionist behaviors of the US is very important for us and the people of the world", said Zarif, expressing happiness for going to "friendly and brotherly" country Venezuela to attend the Non-Alignment Movement meeting.
"Venezuelans can live together without US intervention."
Asked about the claim made by US Vice-President Mike Pence about Zarif's visit to Venezuela has destabilizing impacts, he said that the US brings about instability and insecurity wherever it sets foot, which is clearly seen in the Persian Gulf, the Middle East, Latin America and South America.
"One can find no place in the world that US presence has given it stability. Presence of the United States in any point of the world causes destabilization, pressure on people, and growth of extremism and terrorism."
Earlier, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said Zarif is scheduled to hold talks with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and some other officials like Venezuelan Foreign Minister and speaker of Venezuela parliament.
Pompeo: "We want the Venezuelan people
to control their own destiny"
RT [Russia], 20-7-2019
In an interview to Argentina’s Infobae website on Friday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is currently on a four-day tour of Latin America, said the nations that continue to stand by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro (Russia, China, Iran, and Cuba) should “leave.”
“We want the Venezuelan people to control their own destiny. We think that would be best. In the end, I’m confident that the Venezuelan people will take back their country,” Pompeo said when asked about the role that Russia, China, and Iran play in the region.
One name was conspicuously absent from his list of "every foreign power" though – the one power with a very clear-cut idea on which way Venezuelans should "control their own destiny."
The US has been openly calling for regime change in Venezuela, applying layers of sanctions and telling President Maduro to step down and make way for US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido.
Pompeo took the opportunity of Friday’s interview to repeat it.
“They [Maduro and his allies] need to leave Venezuela, and then we can begin to do the work to rebuild that country democratically...”, he said.
Speaking on the ongoing talks between the Maduro government and the Venezuelan opposition in Barbados, Pompeo said that any conversation “can only be about one thing, that Maduro must leave.”
Hawkish US National Security Advisor John Bolton reinforced the push for the overthrow of Maduro, tweeting that the US “will not rest” until he is gone, while announcing a new batch of sanctions against Venezuela’s military intelligence officials.
America’s Economic Blockades and International Law
Jeffrey D. Sachs, Project-Syndicate, 28-6-2019
US President Donald Trump has based his foreign policy on a series of harsh economic blockades, each designed to frighten, coerce, and even starve the target country into submitting to American demands.
While the practice is less violent than a military attack, and the blockade is through financial means rather than the navy, the consequences are often dire for civilian populations.
As such, economic blockades by the United States should be scrutinized by the United Nations Security Council under international law and the UN Charter.
When Trump campaigned for office in 2016, he rejected the frequent US resort to war in the Middle East.
During the years 1990-2016, the US launched two major wars with Iraq (1990 and 2003), as well as wars in Afghanistan (2001), Libya (2011), and Syria (2012). It also participated in many smaller military interventions (Mali, Somalia, and Yemen, among others).
While the Syrian War is often described as a civil war, it was in a fact a war of regime change led by the US and Saudi Arabia under a US presidential directive called Timber Sycamore.
Timber Sycamore was a classified weapons supply and training program run by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and supported by some Arab intelligence services, such as the security service in Saudi Arabia.
Launched in 2012 or 2013, it supplied money, weaponry and training to rebel forces fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian Civil War. According to US officials, the program has trained thousands of rebels.
President Barack Obama secretly authorized the CIA to begin arming Syria’s embattled rebels in 2013.
Friends of the interventionists
KSA – USA partnership dinner: High-level speakers, including Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, Lindsey Graham, James Baker, William Cohen, Cindy Schwarzkopf, daughter of the late General Norman Schwarzkopf, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and Ambassador Khalid bin Salman... (23-3-2018)
None of these US-led wars (and others in recent history) achieved their political objectives, and the major conflicts have been followed by chronic violence and instability.
The attempt to force Syria’s Bashar al-Assad from power led to a proxy war – eventually involving the US, Syria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran, Turkey, Israel, and the United Arab Emirates – that displaced over ten million Syrians and caused around a half-million violent deaths.
While Trump has so far eschewed a new war, he has continued US regime-change efforts by other means. Trump is often called an isolationist, but he is as interventionist as his predecessors.
His strategy, at least so far, has been to rely more heavily on US economic power than military might to coerce adversaries, which creates its own kind of cruelty and destabilization.
The Trump administration currently is engaged in three attempts at comprehensive economic blockades, against North Korea, Venezuela, and Iran, as well as several lesser blockades against countries such as Cuba and Nicaragua, and an intensifying effort to cut off China’s access to technology.
The US is attempting to isolate the three countries from almost all international trade, causing shortages of food, medicines, energy, and spare parts for basic infrastructure, including the water supply and power grid.
US sanctions against Iran have been in place more or less continuously since 1979.
The most recent and by far most draconian measures, introduced in August 2018 and intensified in the first half of this year, aim to cut Iran off from foreign trade. The US sanctions are in direct contravention of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran.
The US blockades have been carried out by presidential decree, with almost no public debate and no systematic oversight by Congress.
This has been a one-man show, even more so than in the case of president-led wars, which trigger vastly more public scrutiny.
It is time for the Security Council to take up the US sanctions regimes and weigh them against the requirements of international law and peacekeeping.
Jeffrey D. Sachs, Professor of Sustainable Development and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University, is Director of Columbia’s Center for Sustainable Development and of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network.
Sayyed Nasrallah calls on Jews
not to fall for Zionist policies
AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA), 20-7-2019
Secretary General of the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah differentiated between the followers of Judaism and Zionists, and called for the religious community not to be a pawn in the hand of land expansionists.
Hezbollah bears no grudge against Jews, Nasrallah said in a meeting with the visiting Advisor to the Iranian Parliament Speaker Hossein Amir Abdollahian in Beirut on Friday, warning members of the religious community not to play in the hands of Zionists’ land grab policies.
He lauded Iran’s political and democratic plan for a referendum among all historic residents of Palestine, inclusive of Muslims, Christians and Jews, as realistic and logical.
“The occupying Zionists, however, are the most irrational creatures on the earth, and do not understand anything other than the discourse of resistance,” the Hezbollah chief noted.
Nasrallah & Syrian refugees in Lebanon
UNHCR 23-10-2018: 88% of Syrian Refugees Want to Return Home
He termed Trump’s controversial proposal for “peace” between the Israeli regime and Palestinians as hollow, stating that the Zionists are the root cause of corruption and insecurity in the region.
The Hezbollah secretary general emphasized that the anti-Israel resistance front is now in its best form, even though the US and the Israeli regime continue with their fiendish moves in the region.
“Americans are seeking to impede the purge of the last remnants of terrorists in Syria, and they are prolonging the (Syrian) crisis through various means in a bid to prevent the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland...”
As of October 2016, Lebanon hosted 1.5 million Syrian refugees, half of them children (below 18 years old), along with 31,502 Palestine Refugees from Syria, 35,000 Lebanese returnees, and a pre-existing population of more than 277,985 Palestine Refugees.
They constitute in total 30% of the Lebanese population (estimated at 5.9 million), or 25% for the Syrian refugees alone, making Lebanon the country with the highest number of refugees per inhabitant.
Because the government of Lebanon has increasingly made it difficult for refugees from Syria to renew their residency permits, the number of households in which all members are legally in the country has dropped from 58% in 2014 to 29% in 2015.
Refugee households living below the poverty line increased from 49% in 2014 to 70% in 2015. Families survive by borrowing money whenever they can. The percentage of refugee households with debt jumped from 70% in 2013 to 89% in 2015. (Wikipedia: Refugees of the Syrian 'Civil' War)
President al-Assad receives letter from Pope Francis
Syrian Arab News Agency, 22 July 2019
Bashar al-Assad on Monday received a letter from
Pope Francis, delivered by Cardinal Peter Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
In his letter, the Pope reiterated his support for restoring stability in Syria and ending the suffering of the Syrian people caused by war and what resulted from it.
Talks during the meeting with Cardinal Turkson and the accompanying delegation focused on recent developments in Syria, with President al-Assad pointing out to the crimes and attacks against civilians that are still being committed by terrorists..., as well as the support that is still being sent to terrorist organizations by some regional and Western countries.
The talks also touched on political efforts and how to support them, with President al-Assad stressing that the most important thing that can be done to help the Syrian people is pressuring the states which support terrorists, seek to prolong the war, and impose sanctions on the Syrian people, so that these states would change this approach and move towards bolstering peace and stability instead.
SANA: Daraa City throbbing with life again after liberation from terrorism
Flashback: Secular Democracy
Syrian Youth Dialogue Sessions
Dp-news - Sana - 26-9-2011
In Daraa city, participants in the dialogue session discussed the mechanism of activating the constitutional articles and amending them to go in harmony with the national principles and self-determination and suit the current political developments in Syria.
Participants considered the current constitution as having numerous positive points; however, some of its articles should be amended to suit the current stage in Syria. Participants called for preserving general freedoms and political pluralism.
In al-Raqqa city, participants in the youth dialogue session on the constitution saw that some articles in the constitution can be amended to suit the current developments.
Washington holds secret talks with Muslim "Brotherhood"
WASHINGTON — American media reports on Tuesday said that the administration of President Barack Obama has been quietly consulting with the "Islamic opposition" in Syria.
Within this context, the American "World Tribune" Newspaper revealed that senior U.S. officials have been meeting with the "Muslim Brotherhood" of Syria as well as its lobbyists in the United States.
The US officials said the two sides have convened several times over the last three months to discuss the Brotherhood's role after the "ouster" of President Bashar Assad's regime.
The Reform Party in Syria (RPS) has protested the US administration's meetings with the "Brotherhood".
RPS, regarded as one of the most pro-Western elements in the Syrian opposition, said Washington was signaling its endorsement of the "Brotherhood's" goal to make Syria into an Islamic state rather than a democracy that would foster its large minority communities.
Iran: champion of the anti-imperialist struggle
For Thierry Meyssan, the rise of tension in the Gulf has nothing to do with an alleged Iranian threat. In fact, it is the second round of Mossadegh’s anti-imperialist policy, before the mollahs. Just as in 1952, London is ready to go to war to defend its undeserved economic advantages.
London defends the shreds of its Empire
by Thierry Meyssan, Voltaire Network, 23 July 2019
At the end of the Second World War, the United Kingdom balked at the idea of abandoning its Empire.
It created independent central banks everywhere in order to continue to plunder its ex-colonies once they became independent, and companies poised to grab half of the national wealth.
The Shah’s Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, could not accept that London should confiscate his country’s oil and steal 50% of its profits via the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (AIOC). He therefore nationalised the company.
But the AIOC was the property of the British Ministry for the Marine, and London feared that this example may spread to all of the third world.
Defending his Empire, Prime Minister Winston Churchill convinced his US partner, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, to overthrow Mossadegh.
Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf sits next to General Colin Powell and a much younger Paul Wolfowitz during the first US invasion of Iraq.
This was Joint Operation AJAX, implemented by MI6 and the CIA and directed by Kermit Roosevelt and Herbert N. Schwarzkopf.
The former was the grandson of President Theodor Roosevelt, who colonised Latin America, and the latter was the father of General Norman Schwartzkopf, who directed the Gulf War against Saddam Hussein.
Then the Anglo-US bloc set up General Fazlollah Zahedi as Prime Minister, and created a cruel political police, the SAVAK, by recycling ex-Nazi Gestapo criminals.
The Iranian people paid a bloody tribute for its desire for true independence.
Operation AJAX was a success for the Anglo-US. It supplied the model for false revolutions aimed at changing recalcitrant régimes, but above all, it set back the liberation of colonised people by 35 ans.
When the same USA overthrew Shah Reza Pahlevi, who was preparing a world increases in oil prices via the OPEC, they thought they were making a smart choice by organising his succession with France – the return of Imam Rouhollah Khomeini.
But the cowboys never attained the same levels of subtlety as their English mentors. BOOM!
Iran once more became the champion of the anti-imperialist struggle, as it had been before the Islamic régime.
This is the conflict which is resurfacing today....
Flashback 2015: Iranians celebrating oil industry nationalization
By Hamid Shamlou, Tehran, March 19, IRNA
Greenblatt: Peace plan won’t be based on
‘fictions of international consensus’
Raphael Ahren, Times of Israel, 23-7-2019
The forthcoming US peace plan will not be based on “fictions of international consensus” or on international law, the Trump administration’s Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt said Tuesday.
Addressing the United Nations Security Council, Greenblatt flatly rejected the notion that international law must serve as the foundation of any future peace deal, arguing that the two sides differ in their interpretation of it.
Likewise, a final-status treaty cannot be based on past UN resolutions that are “vague” and have failed to produce a result until today, the Trump envoy maintained.
“International consensus is not international law. So let’s stop kidding ourselves,” he said..
Greenblatt also dismissed statements about an international consensus on the status of Jerusalem, saying that no resolution will ever get the US to deny that the city will forever be Israel’s capital.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict will not be resolved by references to international law, which is “inconclusive,” Greenblatt went on.
“We have all heard cogent arguments claiming international law says one thing or another about this or that aspect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict..."
It is impossible to determine whose interpretation of international law is correct, he argued.
“There is no judge, jury, or court in the world that the parties involved have agreed to give jurisdiction in order to decide whose interpretations are correct.”
One could either argue endlessly about the law and prolong the suffering of the people in the region, Greenblatt said, or “acknowledge the futility” of such an approach.
In his speech, Greenblatt criticized those who call Israel’s hold on the West Bank an “illegal occupation”.
Danny Danon's Bible Speech
International law and Israeli settlements
The international community considers the establishment of Israeli settlements in the Israeli-occupied territories illegal under international law, violating Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 which states:
"The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."
Israel maintains that it is not in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention since, in its view, Israeli citizens were neither deported nor transferred to the territories, and they cannot be considered to have become "occupied territory" since there had been no internationally recognized legal sovereign prior.
The United Nations Security Council, the United Nations General Assembly, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Court of Justice and the High Contracting Parties to the Convention have all affirmed that the Fourth Geneva Convention does apply.
Numerous UN resolutions and prevailing international opinion hold that Israeli settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are a violation of international law, including UN Security Council resolutions in 1979, 1980, and 2016.
UN Security Council Resolution 446 refers to the Fourth Geneva Convention as the applicable international legal instrument, and calls upon Israel to desist from transferring its own population into the territories or changing their demographic makeup... (Wikipedia info)
The Similarities Between Boris Johnson And Donald Trump
Frank Langfitt, NPR, July 23, 2019
At a time of polarization and political chaos, the United Kingdom and the United States are about to be led by two remarkably similar figures.
On Tuesday, Britain's ruling Conservative Party elected Boris Johnson as their leader by an overwhelming margin, sending him to No. 10 Downing Street.
Like Trump, Johnson is a larger-than-life populist who has made controlling immigration and restoring his nation's standing in the world key issues in recent years. (Unlike Trump, he is given to speaking in Latin, making ancient historical allusions and has written a biography of Winston Churchill).
Last week, Trump predicted Johnson would "do a great job" and that they would get along well. "He's a different kind of guy, but they say I'm a different kind of guy, too," Trump said.
Like Trump, Johnson has emphasized his unease with the changing face of his homeland, using language that plays well with much of his white base but angers minorities and urban liberals.
Paul Whiteley, a professor of government at the University of Essex, says Johnson's message was clear: "The 'other,' in very broad terms, is a threat," Whiteley says.
Both Johnson and Trump have pledged to return their countries to a mythical, better age. Trump speaks fondly of what he calls the "old days," when Detroit ruled the auto industry, when most people said "Merry Christmas" during the holidays and — as Trump recalls it — people could just beat up protesters at a political rally.
Johnson describes Brexit as an opportunity for the United Kingdom to forge an independent future, unshackled from the European Union....
How long Trump and Johnson will lead their countries is another question. But whatever these leaders' political fate, the populist forces that propelled Johnson and Trump to power are likely to endure.
Is Boris Johnson really Britain's Trump?
Cas Mudde, The Guardian, Wed 24 Jul 2019
The United Kingdom has a new prime minister. The new PM is Boris Johnson, one of the many European politicians to be portrayed as a local equivalent of US president Donald Trump in the US media.
This time, however, the similarities are indeed striking.
Both are loudmouthed man-children, with a history of adultery and other scandals, whose professional success is a combination of immense privilege, unscrupulous opportunism, and relentless self-promotion, all happily promoted by a complicit media environment.
They share an “unorthodox” approach to politics as well as a “tell it like it is” communication style – media euphemisms for reckless opportunism and a combination of homophobia, racism and sexism.
Like Trump, Johnson’s “gaffes,” another media euphemism almost exclusively reserved for upper-class white men, include a litany of racist, homophobic, and sexist statement, from referring to Africans as “piccaninies” with “watermelon smiles”, to Muslim women wearing burqas as “bank robbers” and “letter boxes”, to gay men as “tank-topped bumboys” and to female Labor MPs as “hot totties”...
In short, Boris Johnson is probably as close to a European Trump as you can find – just as Britain is the most American country in Europe.
But Johnson is ultimately British, just as Trump is essentially American. He is a product of a specific elitist class culture, steeped in privilege and tradition, to which he has both an allegiance and responsibility.
It is this rootedness in Britain’s elite culture and society that propelled him to power but that will also lead to his downfall...
US: House Overwhelmingly Passes Anti-BDS Bill
Jason Ditz, antiwar.com, July 23, 2019
In a 398-17 vote, the House of Representatives on Tuesday passed H. Res 246, a bill which expresses opposition to the BDS movement targeting Israel.
The language of the bill presents BDS as contrary to US policy, and the bill claims that BDS is harmful to the two-state solution that the US supports.
BDS, which stands for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, is a campaign founded to try to pressure Israel over the occupation of Palestine, The intention was to apply economic pressure on Israel for certain activities with respect to the occupation.
While boycotting countries over behavior isn’t that unusual, the US government’s pro-Israel bias meant that in 1977, the US started passing laws trying to prevent American citizens and companies from specifically participating in BDS against Israel, forming the Office of Antiboycott Compliance.
In the past couple of years, Israel has sought to attack BDS on a global scale by present it as de facto anti-Semitism.
As usual, US officials were eager to get on the record with being very anti-BDS, even if these bills don’t formally outlaw participating in the BDS on an individual level.
This comes as Israel is increasingly a political issue in the US as well, with President Trump trying to present the Democrats as anti-Semites for not being as pro-Netanyahu as he personally is.
What is BDS?
Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) is a Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice and equality. BDS upholds the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity.
Israel is occupying and colonising Palestinian land, discriminating against Palestinian citizens of Israel and denying Palestinian refugees the right to return to their homes. Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement, the BDS call urges action to pressure Israel to comply with international law.
There are now approximately 650,000 Israeli settlers living in more than 200 colonies or settlements in the West Bank (including in East Jerusalem). Around half of the West Bank is allocated to the settlements or otherwise off limits to Palestinians.
The illegal Israeli settlements on stolen and forcibly vacated Palestinian land are financed by and built under the direct control of the Israeli government. (Info: BDS website)
Iran president: Iran is ready to negotiate
but not if negotiations mean surrender
Reuters, July 24, 2019
Iran is ready for “just” negotiations but not if they mean surrender, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said on Wednesday, without saying what talks he had in mind.
Rouhani seemed to be referring to possible negotiations with the United States.
U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran last year but has said he is willing to hold talks with the Islamic Republic.
“As long as I have the responsibility for the executive duties of the country, we are completely ready for just, legal and honest negotiations to solve the problems,” Rouhani said, according to his official website.
“But at the same time we are not ready to sit at the table of surrender under the name of negotiations.”
Flashback: Franklin D. Roosevelt, 8-12-1942
Meeting of Jewish Leaders with Roosevelt
There are 17 million Moslems in North Africa, and there is no reason why anyone should enjoy greater rights than they.
It is not our purpose to fight for greater rights for anyone at the expense of another group. We are for the freedom for all and equal rights for all.
We consider the attack on the Jews in Germany, in Poland, as an attack upon our ideas of freedom and justice, and that is why we oppose it so vehemently."
Iran means so much to my son: Boris Johnson's dad
Press TV [Iran], Thu Jul 25, 2019
New UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s father is confident his son has what it takes to end the ongoing tensions between Iran and Britain, as the two sides continue to trade barbs after impounding each other's oil tankers.
Speaking to Press TV shortly after his son won the race for Britain’s new PM on Wednesday, Stanley Johnson said he was looking forward to see Boris “building bridges with Iran.”
Johnson said his son understood history and adored Iran, given the country’s long history.
“Boris is a man who has this great sense of history,” he said. “Iran to him means Darius, Xerxes...”
“Iran means so much to him..., the chance to have long-standing relationship with a country with such a fantastic history...”
Asked what he thought he son would do to resolve the tanker standoff, Johnson remained optimistic and offered an amicable exchange: “I think the best thing would be to say, look, we let your ship go you let our ship go… easy peasy,” he added.
Earlier this month, the UK seized Iranian tanker Grace 1 in Gibraltar on charges that it was carrying oil to Syria in breach of European Union sanctions against Damascus.
On July 19, when Iran seized British oil tanker “Stena Impero” after it collided with a small fishing boat and badly injured its crew -- some of whom remain in critical condition. Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) intervened and took the ship and its crew into custody...