Skepticism is always warranted in the face of government claims, but some folks seem unable to apply the same level of skepticism to claims by Syria's dictator as they do to those of the U.S. government. This will not help us in waging a sustained effective campaign against U.S. military action against Syria; to rest our case on acceptance of Assad's claims weakens our argument. We need to explain why a U.S.-led war on Syria is not the solution, whether or not Assad is responsible for the horrific chemical weapons attack in the Ghouta suburbs of Damascus.
The killing of Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen on Friday by a U.S. drone has elicited cheers from most mainstream politicians and pundits. Civil libertarians, however, have noted the terrible precedent this sets: here an American citizen has been targeted for assassination and executed solely on the say-so of the president, with no need to indict him, or present open evidence of his guilt. If the U.S. government had wanted to tap al-Awlaki’s phone, judicial review would have been required.
The left discussion on Libya has been informed by very few of the Middle East’s anti-imperialist voices. In an article posted on ZNet, I present extended excerpts from a March 19 speech by Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon’s Hizbullah, on the Libyan uprising, the Arab revolts, and the role of the West.
The Libyan intervention has challenged many on the Left. Of course there are those who cheer U.S. foreign policy everywhere and those who think Qaddafi is a left hero. But for those who reject both these points of view, the Libyan situation has still been very difficult to sort out. Mike Albert and I wrote a question and answer offering our views.
According to the Israeli government, two Iranian warships plan to sail through the Suez canal en route to Syria. Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, declared that “this is a provocation that proves that Iranian audacity and insolence are increasing.” The international community, warned Lieberman, “must understand that Israel cannot forever ignore these provocations.”
The New York Times ran a truly despicable story on its front page today. The article, by Scott Shane, argues that Pfc. Bradley Manning is not being treated so badly. But what moves this piece from the category of apologetics to contemptible is its opening paragraphs that try to contrast the plush circumstances of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with the grim conditions under which Manning is being held:
Alan Dershowitz has suggested that to be effective Israeli propaganda should support 80 percent of what Israel does, and be critical of the other 20 percent. So I expected that Dershowitz would only approve 80% of the Israeli killings on the Gaza flotilla, while expressing some mild criticism regarding the IDF’s other victims. Silly me.
Phil Ochs was, until his untimely death in 1976, one of the great American folksingers and songwriters, whose powerful lyrics — political and poetic — helped to inspire a generation. His sister Sonny Ochs has worked to keep Phil’s memory and his message alive by organizing concerts bringing together current-day folk singers, offering a mix of their own material and Phil’s.
Since George Bush launched Operation Enduring Freedom in October 2001 — the unjust, illegal, and unnecessary attack on Afghanistan — there have been constant US and NATO strikes on Afghan civilians, along with constant denials that such strikes have taken place.
Conspiracy theorists often take evidence of government cover-ups as proof that a conspiracy occurred. Sometimes a conspiracy may indeed have occurred, but often the cover-up was designed to hide not some grand conspiracy, but malfeasance, incompetence, or wrong-doing.
In his speech justifying his escalation of the war in Afghanistan, President Obama reminded us why the US was fighting there in the first place. After 9-11, he recalled, the United Nations Security Council "endorsed the use of all necessary steps to respond to the 9/11 attacks." And then, "only after the Taliban refused to turn over Osama bin Laden," did the United States send its troops into Afghanistan. This account is doubly wrong.
October 11, 2009 — Mexican Federal Police last night and early this morning seized the plants of the Central Light and Power Company of Mexico (LyF) which provides electricity to Mexico City and several states in central Mexico. The government of President Felipe Calderón also announced the liquidation of the company, the termination of the workers, and thereby the elimination of the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME) which has opposed the government's policies.
The Mexican Preventive Police (PFP) are preparing to occupy the facilities of the Central Light and Power Company in Mexico City in an attempt to break the militant Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME), according to a union press release. The union warns that the quasi-military occupation of the plants could come within a week. The PFP have been used in the last three years to attempt to break strikes of miners and steelworkers as well as to try to crush popular social movements.
There’s an AP story today that the U.S. commander in Afghanistan “will soon order U.S. and NATO forces to break away from fights with militants hiding among villagers.” The order is expected to reduce “the use of air strikes, mortars and artillery in villages.” There are three points to note here: 1. The order does not prohibit U.S. troops from using massive force when civilians are nearby if the troops are in “imminent danger,” and indeed, the order allows massive force if necessary to avoid “undue danger” to the troops.
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