“US and its allies” usually equals NATO

US, Allies Drop 46 Bombs Per Day for 20 Years, New CODEPINK Research Reveals
Alan Macleod, MintPress News, Mar 5 2021

US airstrikes strike the Old City a day after Iraq’s prime minister declared “total victory” in Mosul, Jul 11 2017. Photo: Felipe Dana/AP

VENICE, CALIFORNIA — The US and its allies have dropped at least 326k bombs and missiles on countries in the greater MENA region since 2001. That is the conclusion of new research by Medea Benjamin and Nicolas Davies of anti-war group CODEPINK. Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen are the countries that have felt the worst of the violence, but Lebanon, Libya, Pakistan, Palestine and Somalia have also been targeted. The total amounts to an average of 46 bombs dropped per day over the last 20 years. CODEPINK’s numbers are based primarily on official US military releases, as well as data from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the Yemen Data Project, and the New America Foundation. As striking as the figure of 326,000 is, it is an underestimate, as the Trump administration ceased publishing figures of its bombing campaigns in 2020, meaning there is no data for Iraq, Syria or Afghanistan for either of the previous two years. Also not counted are bombs or missiles used in helicopter strikes, AC-130 gunship attacks, strafing runs from US bombers, or any counter-insurgency or counter-terrorism operations in other parts of the world.

Tough but nice?

Last week, Biden gave the order to attack Iraqi militias in Syria, dropping 1.75 tons of bombs on a border village and killing 22 people (? – RB), something that brought cheers from Washington insiders and corporate media pundits alike. The move was reportedly in response to strikes on US military bases in Iraq; bases that, last year, the Iraqi parliament unanimously demanded be closed. Yesterday, anonymous administration officials claimed that Biden called off a second Syria strike after being warned that women and children were in the area. Though no evidence was offered and the officials refused to go on record, corporate media diligently parroted the State Dept line, allowing the new administration to simultaneously present itself as getting tough on its enemies and as a champion of human rights.

War, war, and more war

The US has been at war for nearly every year of its existence as an independent nation, fighting in 227 years of its 244-year history. While both Obama and Trump offered up anti-war rhetoric when they were on the campaign trail, both moved steadfastly away from that position once in office. By 2016, Obama was bombing seven countries simultaneously and had earned the moniker “Drone King.” Trump, meanwhile, escalated the war in Yemen and even carried out the targeted assasination of Iranian leader Qassem Soleimani while he was in Iraq for regional peace talks. The 45th president also authorized the use of the “Mother of All Bombs,” a 21k lb (9.5 Mg) explosive dropped on Afghanistan’s Nangarhar Province in Apr 2017. Many of the Biden administration’s early moves signal that there will be more continuation of than rupture with previous US foreign policy in the Middle East. While Biden had pledged to end the US role in Yemen, the State Dept’s qualifying language makes it clear that the US is merely returning to Obama’s position on the conflict. Biden promised only to end support for “offensive” Saudi campaigns and limit “relevant” arms sales. Yet his administration immediately began emphasizing and denouncing Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia, and reaffirming its commitment to help Riyadh “defend” itself from Houthi aggression. US envoy Timothy Lenderking even went so far as to praise Saudi Arabia for its “generous support over the decades for the people of Yemen.”

A resident carries the bodies of six people killed during fights between Iraq security forces and Daesh on the western side of Mosul, Iraq, Mar 24 2017.
Residents of the Iraqi city’s neighborhood known as Mosul Jidideh at the scene say that scores of residents are believed to have been killed by airstrikes
that hit a cluster of homes in the area earlier this month. (Photo: Felipe Dana/AP)

On Israel, Biden has fully supported Trump’s decision to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem, a controversial move effectively approving the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Today, Kamala Harris had a meeting with Netanyahu in which she reaffirmed the White House’s “unwavering commitment” to Israel and its security. Meanwhile, on Iran, Biden has dragged his feet on lifting sanctions and returning to the negotiating table to bring the US back to the nuclear deal Trump abandoned. He also framed his Syria attack as a “message” to Iran. Despite its spending almost as much as every other country combined on defense, the impact of war is largely unfelt in the US. As Benjamin and Davies write:

The American public and the world are left almost completely in the dark about the death and destruction our country’s leaders keep wreaking in our name.

With studies such as this one, CODEPINK hopes to change that fact.

NATO Video Talks ‘Diversity, Respect, Embrace’ But Critics See Through the Wash Job
Alan Macleod, Mar 5 2021

BRUSSELS — Earlier this week, NATO put out a promotional video celebrating their diversity. The heavily-produced video featured a range of smiling people of all ages, genders and races, painting the international military alliance as a progressive force. The advertisement said:

At NATO, diversity is our strength. We speak many languages. We have different skills, our own unique personalities. We come from all over the world, from every walk of life. No two of us are the same. We work together. Respect our needs. Embrace our differences. Because we all have one thing in common: we are NATO.

Few on social media appeared to be impressed. The Grayzone’s Ben Norton reacted:

Journalist Richard Medhurst was similarly unmoved. He tweeted:

Other responses included “We might bomb innocent civilians but at least we’re not bigots;” “NATO will foist superficial diversity on our graves;” and “Imperialism, but make it woke.” The video is part of a wider rebranding exercise for the alliance of European and North American nations. On NATO’s official YouTube page, it also has a video titled “NATO celebrates Human Rights Day,” as well as ones dedicated to celebrating female service members, Sikh soldiers, and military dogs. All feature the slogan #WeAreNATO, a public relations attempt to market the organization domestically in the face of mounting skepticism. The campaign dates back to 2017 in an apparent effort to counter then-President Donald Trump’s criticism of the organization, and was created by MHP Communications and Agenda, two corporate PR firms based in London and Washington respectively.

NATO was founded in 1949 with the goal of being a defensive organization dedicated to stopping a possible Soviet invasion of Europe. In this role, it joined forces with many regressive elements in post-war Europe, indeed promoting a number of prominent Nazis to senior positions. For example, in 1961, Hitler’s chief of staff, Adolf Heusinger, was made chairman of its military committee. However, with the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, NATO moved from guard dog to attack dog, expanding its domain from Europe to across the world, taking part in attacks on Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan. It has also expanded into cyber warfare. At its 70th birthday celebrations in 2019, the former supreme allied commander of NATO, James Stavridis, declared that in 10 years NATO would be “far more engaged in… cyber security” and would have much greater “offensive cyber capability.” NATO’s semi-official think tank, the Atlantic Council, already works closely with Facebook on content curation.

Last month, the Atlantic Council published a 26k-word report arguing that it should move closer to war with China. The US, it advises, must use the power of its military to draw a number of red lines around the Asian nation. If China crosses these, then the US must respond militarily or suffer international “humiliation.” The Atlantic Council has also been at the forefront of pushing for increased hostilities with Russia. In recent years, public support for NATO has been falling in many of its key member states. The organization is far less popular with Europeans who place themselves on the left of the ideological spectrum. In Sweden, for instance, only 38% of leftists see NATO in a favorable light, compared to 79% of those on the right. This move towards using inclusive, progressive rhetoric appears to be part of an appeal to a more liberal audience.

NATO is far from the only organization attempting to rebrand itself as woke. The FBI, which spied on Dr Martin Luther King and even sent him a letter advising that he kill himself, celebrates the reverend every January, attempting to position itself as on the same side of the fight for justice as was the noted civil rights campaigner. Look out, too, for corporations and government entities celebrating International Women’s Day on Monday, Mar 8, presenting themselves as bastions of feminist thought. Last year, petroleum giant Shell even rebranded to “She’ll” for the day, in an effort to pink-wash its poor public image. Other giant corporations, such as Dow Chemical, have attempted to present themselves as LGBT-friendly businesses. Meanwhile, Israel has tried to “vegan-wash” its international image by promoting itself as a land of tolerance and compassion towards animals. Members of its armed forces are able to illegally occupy its neighbors while wearing cruelty-free boots and uniforms made of entirely synthetic or plant-based materials. Ultimately, NATO’s latest video is another example of how superficially progressive language is used to put a gloss on fundamentally regressive institutions. Selling war as woke, however, might be a bridge too far, judging by the response to it.

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