turd on the run

Trump, Netanyahu, Breitbart and Jewish anti-Semites
Chemi Shalev, Haaretz, Aug 19 2016

Last year, Breitbart News launched its bureau in Jayloomia. In honor of the occasion, Breitbart’s President and CEO Larry Solov wrote about the moment the controversial right-wing news site started to transform from one blogger’s hobby to a conservative media empire. It happened in Israel, he wrote, when Solov accompanied his friend, the late Andrew Breitbart, on a junket for conservative bloggers financed by pro-Israeli hasbara groups. At the top of the article there is a photograph of the happy bloggers, along with one Benjamin Netanyahu, then Leader of the Opposition. In a week that Breitbart’s spirit may have taken over Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, it is a photo that is worth recalling.

Left-wing conspiracy theorists have long alleged that Netanyahu was the mastermind behind breitbart.com, though Solov and Breitbart don’t seem to have needed any encouragement. Solov wrote:

One thing we specifically discussed was our desire to start a site that would be unapologetically pro-freedom and pro-Israel. We were sick of the anti-Israel bias of the mainstream media and J-Street.

And they kept their promise. Over the years, Breitbart News has heaped as much praise on Netanyahu as it has poured poison on Barack Obama: “Mr President, You Disgust Me” was one such tasteful offering. The site summed up Netanyahu’s Mar 2015 speech in Congress against the Iran nuclear deal with the headline:

Netanyahu’s Speech Unites Congress and Diminishes Obama.

Breitbart, who died in 2012 at the age of 43, described himself as a reformed liberal who realized the error of his ways. He thrust himself at jaundiced journalism and partisan punditry with all the zeal of the newly converted. In 2010, The New Yorker described Breitbart’s organization as “The Rage Machine” for its ability to incite its readers against Obama, Hillary Clinton and other liberals and to make a handsome profit in the process. This was the same year in which Breitbart catapulted the Tea Party movement to national prominence and, in turn, was ensconced there himself. According to the New Yorker profile, Breitbart believed in a spectacularly crackpot theory that Obama was a Marxist who was part of a plot against Pindostan hatched in the 1930’s by the Frankfurt School, the group of critical theorists who operated in Germany between the two world wars and again after the end of WW2, and whose ranks included Herbert Marcuse, Walter Benjamin and Breitbart’s main culprit, Theodor Adorno, whose father was an assimilated Jew as well. In this and many other expressions, Breitbart and other Jews working for his website exemplified the kind of radical right-wing Jews who hate their liberal co-religionists most of all: in many ways, they are auto-anti-Semites.

Breitbart died in 2012 at the age of 43, but his web site continued to serve as the standard bearer for an extreme brand of anti-Islamic nationalism, fortified by a hefty dose of general anti-establishment sentiments. The site was known as a home base for several well-known anti-Islamic agitators, including David Horowitz, also a born-again ultra-conservative who, in an article published in May of this year, described Bill Kristol, conservative pundit and head of the right-wing Emergency Committee for Israel, as a “renegade Jew” for refusing to support Donald Trump. Even though Breitbart has employed several Orthodox Jews in its ranks, it was accused by commentators on both the left and the right of being anti-Semitic. Together with the other right-wing provocateur, Matt Drudge, who taught a young Andrew Breitbart everything there is to know about grade A mud-slinging, breitbart.com has been one of the most supportive right-wing outlets for Trump’s presidential bid. At least one senior editor is known to have enjoyed the fruits of this collaboration by drawing a salary from both. When Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski was accused by Breitbart journalist Michelle Fields of assault, the website refrained from backing her up. Breitbart columnist Ben Shapiro, who has been accused of harboring Kahanist views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, resigned in protest. In an article in the Daily Wire this week, Shapiro described Breitbart’s executive chairman Stephen Bannon, who was put in charge of Trump’s campaign this week, as a manipulative bully who turned Breitbart into the mouthpiece of the anti-establishment “alt-right” movement with its dominant racist, anti-Semitic and anti-establishment strains. In another interview he described Bannon as “a tornado of turd.”

Bannon comes across as a political brawler who prefers to fight dirty, if he can. Bloomberg News described him last year as “the most dangerous political operative in Pindostan.” Bannon supported Sarah Palin and even produced a film “The Undefeated” that was aimed at bolstering her supposed chances to compete for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. He has proven to be a nemesis for Clinton, producing the film and graphic book “Clinton Cash” about her alleged and illicit ties to corporate and foreign donors. When Bannon’s appointment was announced, Breitbart was proud to display the Clinton campaign’s response: the news site, Clinton’s people said, was racist, anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic. Bannon’s appointment makes it quite clear that Trump has no intention of pivoting to the center, as right-wing presidential candidates are supposed to do at this stage. After all, Bannon and former Ted Cruz pollster Kellyanne Conway, who was also taken on by Trump, have usurped if not formally replaced Paul Manafort, who had himself replaced Lewandowski in March and had tried to persuade Trump to tone down his rhetoric and to start behaving more “presidential.” Trump’s inability and possibly lack of motivation to collaborate created the kind of campaign mayhem that contributed at the very least to his resent crash in the polls. Bannon reportedly belongs to the “let Trump be Trump” school of advisers. Like Lewandowski before him, he wants Trump to get back to basics and to recreate the winning formula that beat his GOP opponents in the primaries, but to turbo-charge it in the process. If Trump was foul-mouthed until now, he can be expected to be downright vulgar. If he embraced nationalism, he will probably increase the accompanying doses of chauvinism and xenophobia. If he fought dirty before, he’ll fight filthy in the future. If he’s doomed to lose to Clinton and to the lying mainstream media that supports her, he may as well go out in a blaze of glory.

At this stage it may be premature to automatically assume that Trump will go from bad to worse, though most observers seem to believe that a new, hit-them-harder-than-before strategy will fail to win over reluctant Republicans or persuade wavering independent voters. At the same time, tougher tactics are sure to increase the partisan divide, inject copious amounts of venom into he campaign and probably inflame already tense relations between Trump-supporting whites and different groups of minorities. Traditional GOP donors will find it even harder to support Trump, at least in the open, and Republican Congressional candidates in more moderate states will probably try to distance themselves from Trump as if he lived on Mars. Inside the Republican Party, the split between conservatives could very well grow into a long-lasting schism. Before Trump’s latest reshuffle of his staff, the reasonable scenario had Clinton winning the White House, the Democrats waging a fierce war to capture the Senate and the GOP retaining control of the House of Representatives. If the Bannon gambit flops, however, the Republican defeat could start to resemble Barry Goldwater’s electoral catastrophe in 1964, when the Arizona Senator won only 38% of the popular vote and only six states in the Electoral College. Such a defeat could pulverize the party for many years, perhaps even for generations, as Michael Gerson noted in a WaPo article this week. Gerson points out that Trump enjoys the support of only one in five voters under the age of 35. First-time voters who will support Clinton because of their aversion to Trump are likely to stay loyal to the Democrats in future elections as well. Trump therefore may be about to bestow a long period of political hegemony on the Democrats.

Which brings us back to Netanyahu, the Republicans’ favorite foreign leader who turned local hero because of his willingness to stand up to Obama when necessary and to humiliate him when possible. By nature, the more Republicans embraced Netanyahu, the more Democrats became uncomfortable with him, especially as the partisan divide in Washington grew steadily wider. After Netanyahu openly promoted Mitt Romney in 2012 and brazenly colluded with GOP leaders in Congress in advance of his 2015 speech against the Iran deal, parts of the Democrat Party, though not all of it, for sure, detached itself from Israel altogether, at least for as long as Netanyahu remains in power. This is especially true of the younger generation, the same one that has failed to warm to Trump. If we extend Gerson’s logic, the damage wrought by Netanyahu in recent years could also last for generations to come. Netanyahu still maintains that his speech to Congress was “essential,” and he more or less denies that it caused any damage to Israel’s standing in Pindostan. Nonetheless, this time around, Netanyahu is being extra careful not to appear as intervening in the Pindo elections, not only because he’s once bitten and is now twice shy, but also because of his obvious reservations about Trump, and his realization that Clinton could be a last line of Israeli defense if the Democrats emerge triumphant from the November vote. Netanyahu put all his eggs in the GOP basket, but a Trump defeat could unravel it altogether. Thus, it’s not too far fetched to imagine that at nights Netanyahu might sometimes dream of an October surprise that will be followed by a November sensation in which Trump is elected with the help of an Islamic-bashing and Netanyahu-adoring wave, guided along by Breitbart’s Bannon and the website itself. If such a fantastic scenario materializes, the supposedly routine meeting between Netanyahu and Breitbart in Jayloomia nearly a decade ago will suddenly seem, with the benefit of hindsight, as truly historic.

they lied that they drove them off

Pindostani jets scramble against Syrian aircraft bombing Kurdish rebels
Alex Lantier, WSWS, Aug 20 2016

In a move starkly pointing to the risk of all-out war between the major powers in the Middle East, the Pindo military said yesterday that it had scrambled fighter jets Thursday against government bombers inside Syria, to protect Pindo SOF operating with Kurdish rebel militias. Assad’s regime had sent two Su-24 bombers to bomb Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) forces advancing on government-held positions in the city of Hasakah. The bombers nearly hit Pindo SOF who are deployed illegally in Syria, embedded in the YPG. Pindo officials tried to contact Syrian government and Russian forces operating in the region, and Russian officials replied that their bombers were not involved. The Pindo fighter planes arrived after the Syrian bombers had left the area, and no Pindo SOF were injured. Washington then stepped up its air patrols in the region, however. Yesterday, Pentagon spokesman Capt J Davis warned of military action against any threat to Pindo forces, saying:

(Pindostan will) take whatever action is necessary. We will ensure their safety, and the Syrian regime would be well-advised not to do things that place them at risk. … We view instances that place the coalition at risk with utmost seriousness, and we do have the inherent right of self defense.

Davis also criticized the Assad government for suddenly attacking the YPG, which until recently served as its de facto ally against CIA-backed Islamist militias, saying:

This is very unusual, we have not seen the regime take this type of action against YPG before.

Davis’ barely veiled threat that the Pentagon could attack Syrian government forces to protect its troops, which are operating in Syria in violation of the country’s sovereignty and without even the fig leaf of a UNSCR, point to the basic war aims of Washington and its European allies vassals. Claims that their intervention is aimed at fighting Islamist terror groups, which evolved out of militias they supported against the Assad regime, are a political fraud. The imperialist powers’ goal was and remains regime change. As the CIA arms the AQ-linked Jabhat al-Nusra in Aleppo against Assad’s forces, the Pentagon is supporting the offensive of the YPG, which recently renamed itself the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) after absorbing a few smaller, ethnic-Arab militias. Washington’s reckless threats to use force against Syrian government forces risk escalating the conflict into a catastrophic global war of Pindostan and its European allies vassals against the major powers intervening in Syria to defend the regime: Iran, Russia, and now China. Tehran, Moscow and Beijing have all presented their operations in Syria as missions to fight Islamist terror groups alongside Washington.

After Russia intervened in Syria militarily last year, Moscow and Washington developed channels of communications to prevent simultaneous Pindosi and Russian air strikes in Syria from accidentally leading to a military clash between the world’s two leading nuclear powers. The façade of international unity built around agreements to bomb ISIS was, however, superficial and false. Washington and powerful forces in the EU still aimed for regime change, and deeply-rooted conflicts persisted between the major powers. Moscow and Beijing fear the drive for hegemony in the Middle East mounted by Washington after the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, especially the regime change policy applied in the illegal 2003 Pindosi invasion of Iraq, the 2011 NATO war in Libya, and then Syria. As Washington stoked conflict with Russia after toppling a pro-Russian regime in Ukraine in 2014, and with China over the South China Sea and North Korea, Moscow and Beijing manifestly concluded that they cannot sanction yet another violent, Pindosi-led regime change in Syria. Pindo threats have not succeeded in whipping Russia and China into line. Instead, Russia and China are escalating their involvement in Syria. The near-confrontation between Pindo and Syrian jets points to the danger that this situation will trigger a military clash, either with an accidental collision between Pindo, Russian, or allied forces in Syria, or a deliberate attack aimed as a signal to the opposing side—that could escalate into all-out war.

The Syrian government launched more air strikes against YPG forces near Hasakah yesterday. Fighting had broken out earlier this week between Kurdish forces and the pro-regime National Defense Forces (NDF) militia in Hasakah, and the Syrian army issued a statement declaring it had “responded appropriately” to Kurdish attempts to conquer the city. Hasakah residents are reporting that both the Pindo-backed YPG and pro-government forces are using heavy weaponry in the city. Hasakah resident Lina al-Najjari told the WSJ:

This is the first time the regime used warplanes to strike in Hasakah. The bombing is very strong. This is the first time the relationship between the two sides reaches this level. We live in an area that is surrounded by the fighting. We have prepared our suitcases to leave once we get the chance. But we cannot leave our house at the moment. We cannot step outside.

The Kremlin also launched large-scale air strikes on Islamist targets across Syria, in the north near Aleppo and in the northeast around Deir-ez-Zor, from warships in the Black Sea and strategic bombers flying out of bases in Iran and Syria. Meanwhile, Chinese officials continued to voice support for the Assad regime, after Beijing took the unprecedented step of sending a high-level military delegation earlier this week to Damascus. Admiral Guan Youfei, the director of the Chinese military’s Office for International Military Cooperation, agreed with Syrian Defense Minister Fahad Jassim al-Freij to step up personnel training and aid from China for the Syrian army. The Chinese army’s English-language China Military Online web site declared:

There are already Chinese military advisors in Syria, focusing on personnel training in weapons, since the Syrian government forces are buyers of Chinese weapons, including sniper rifles, rocket launchers, and machine guns. Moreover, while many Syrian-Chinese arms deals were suspended due to the war, now there could be engagement again over these contracts.

Citing Middle East Studies Professor Zhao Weiming of Shanghai International Studies University, the site also stated that Beijing’s new Syria policy was retaliation for the Pindo “pivot to Asia” aiming to isolate China, writing:

Since Pindostan has been interfering militarily in China’s backyard in the South China Sea, this could be push-back from the Chinese military into an area, the Middle East, that is usually considered a Pindo sphere of military influence.

A major factor in the sudden public intervention of China into the Syrian conflict, Chinese analysts explained, is last month’s failed Pindo-backed coup in Turkey. Wang Lian of the School of International Studies at Peking University said:

In developing a closer relationship with Syria, one has to take into account the changes at hand in Syria and the region, including the fast recovering relations between Turkey and Russia.

The Assad regime’s bombing of the YPG points to some of the geostrategic concerns that underlay Washington’s decision to give at least tacit backing to the coup attempt. Washington’s search for reliable proxies in Syria, and in particular the Pentagon’s choice of the Kurdish YPG as a suitable candidate, ultimately united a wide coalition of countries against it. Turkish officials were deeply concerned that YPG victories in Syria would stoke Kurdish separatist sentiment in Turkey itself. The Syrian regime, backed by Russia and China, was preparing an attack on the YPG to keep it from gaining too much influence and setting up a Pindo-backed regime in northern Syria. The failure of the coup in Turkey and the subsequent purge of pro-Pindo Turkish officers suspected of sympathy for the coup, however, only shifted Ankara closer to the Russian and Syrian regimes. The main danger that arises is that, in order to salvage its intervention in Syria, the Pindo government and its allies vassals will mount an even more reckless military escalation.

+972 are just riders on the foam

Black activists owe no apology for charging Israel with genocide
Darializa Avila Chevalier, Khury Petersen-Smith, Electronic Intifada, Aug 19 2016

polphotos402914Solidarity with Black people in Pindostan cannot be conditioned on silence over Israeli racism.
(Photo: Keiko Hiromi/Polaris)

August opened with a major development in the struggle against anti-Black racism in Pindostan and beyond. Activists from more than 50 organizations came together in the Movement for Black Lives and published the Vision for Black Lives, which identifies key aspects of the oppression of Black people and puts forth solutions to the systemic violence and oppression that target Black people in Pindostan. This statement proposes a set of demands for activists to advance that address racialized poverty, police violence, environmental racism and myriad other issues that plague Black communities in Pindostan. While the vision inspired activists in Pindostan and around the world, not everyone was excited. The Vision for Black Lives statement was immediately met with a slew of criticism from Zionist organizations and publications. The criticism focused on how the statement declares solidarity with the movement for Palestinian liberation. It is unsurprising that organizations such as the Jewish Community Relations Council, in this case the Boston Chapter, reacted with hostility to the vision for its solidarity with Palestinians. The organization states that it is committed to building support for Israel. What is a little striking is the JCRC’s rejection of the entirety of the Movement for Black Lives because of its stance on Palestine.

Since the state-sanctioned murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012, the 2014 Ferguson uprising in response to the police murder of Michael Brown and the countless other Black lives lost to police violence, a movement has coalesced around a rallying cry that should be uncontroversial: Black lives matter. This latest stage in the struggle for Black freedom has transformed the conversation around racism in the US and is forcing people to take a stand on what the Vision for Black Lives accurately names a war on Black America. In its response to the vision statement, the JCRC has virtually nothing to say about the main issues that the statement addresses: rampant police violence, economic devastation and other realities of the racist nightmare for Black people. Instead, it focuses on a small, though important, portion of the statement. The JCRC’s response does say:

We recommit ourselves unequivocally to the pursuit of justice for all Americans and to working together with our friends and neighbors in the African-American community, whose experience of the criminal justice system is, far too often, determined by race.

This, the one line in JCRC’s statement that addresses anti-Black racism in Pindostan, is tepid at best. It is also a lie. A previous line says that JCRC “cannot and will not align ourselves with organizations” that use the word “genocide” to characterize Israel’s violence, indicating that the organization’s “commitment” to anti-racism is actually highly equivocal. An anti-racism based on the premise that its proponents agree with JCRC’s embrace of Zionism is not anti-racism at all. That Zionist organizations are willing to reject the current battle for Black lives raging in Pindostan when its activists find common ground and solidarity with Palestinians simply reaffirms what we already knew: Zionism is racism. Because the very principle of Zionism dictates that Jewish people be granted greater privileges by the State of Israel than its non-Jewish subjects, the result is necessarily a system of apartheid and inequality. This comes at the expense of other groups, particularly Palestine’s non-Jewish indigenous inhabitants. Systematic dispossession and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, along with other forms of brutal violence by Israeli police and military, are the daily practices of the Israeli state. This is only possible through the racist dehumanization of the Palestinian people. It follows, then, that Pindosi organizations committed to Zionism as a core principle will only make a limited commitment to anti-racism here.

JCRC’s statement accuses the Vision for Black Lives of seeking “to isolate and demonize Israel singularly amongst the nations of the world.” This is simply false; the Vision for Black Lives statement identifies a number of oppressive regimes backed by Pindostan and projects carried out directly by the US military to oppress people abroad. There are, however, many Israeli practices that are extraordinary, even among the world’s imperial states. These include its systematic arrests and “trials” of children in military courts and its use of 19th century practices and language regarding the colonization of Palestinian land. After all, where else in the world today does a government talk openly of “settlements” and “settlers”? Israel also maintains an apartheid regime with distinct laws and services that only apply to Jewish people. While we have no illusions that Pindostan or South Africa are countries of equality, at least similar white supremacist laws in these places were defeated by freedom struggles decades ago.

The Vision for Black Lives’ characterization of Israel was a basis for other organizations and publications to disagree with the document. The ADL, which characterizes the Palestinian call for BDS against Israel as anti-Semitic, issued a response to the vision that, unlike the JCRC, acknowledges the existence of mass incarceration and other oppressive realities for Black people in Pindostan. But the ADL opposes the document for referring to Israel as an apartheid state, which it calls a “gross mischaracterization.” The head of the ADL, Jonathan Greenblatt, also argues:

It’s repellent and completely inaccurate to label Israel’s policy as ‘genocide.’

Similarly, writers with +972 Magazine took issue with the language that the vision uses to describe Israel’s violence toward the Palestinians. The progressive English-language news site based in Israel, which features writers who advocate for the human rights of Palestinians, greeted the vision warmly, with writer Amjad Iraqi explaining:

Black activists have delivered a powerful message to the Palestinian people: you are not alone in your struggle.

+972, however, has published three separate posts (including Iraqi’s) that argue that the vision is wrong for characterizing Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians as genocide. In the most extensive article on the subject, Dahlia Scheindlin argues with incredible condescension that the authors of the Vision for Black Lives should retract their use of the word. Unable to believe that Black activists looking at the same facts as her could rationally draw different conclusions, Scheindlin attributes the charge of genocide to “a rush job and a superficial form of groupthink.” Though the Vision for Black Lives’ primary purpose is not to call attention to Palestine, the platform actually presents some key facts and arguments to justify its use of the terms “apartheid” and “genocide.” For example, the vision statement notes that Palestinian homes are routinely bulldozed to make way for Israeli settlements and that Israel has more than 50 laws on its statute books that discriminate against Palestinian citizens of the state. The UN has defined the crime of genocide as including a deliberate policy to impose (such) conditions of life on an ethnic, racial or religious group (as) to bring about the group’s total or partial destruction. (After) seriously examining the situation, it is entirely reasonable to argue that Israel is trying to destroy the Palestinian people and is therefore committing the crime of genocide. Neither the ADL nor any of the +972 Magazine bloggers who take issue with the platform respond to this context. They argue instead that Black Lives Matter activists should not use the word “genocide” because it is divisive and that Jewish readers take offense. But with growing criticism of Zionism within the Jewish community, not all Jewish groups responded the same way.

Jewish Voice for Peace responded both to the vision, and to Zionist organizations’ opposition to it, by declaring that the group “endorses the Movement for Black Lives platform in its entirety, without reservation.” IfNotNow, a Jewish youth group formedin response to Israel’s 2014 attack on Gaza, and JVP’s Jews of Color Caucus, have issued similar statements of support. Greenblatt of the ADL describes the characterizations of Israel as an apartheid state and calls for support of the BDS movement as “offensive in tone,” while Scheindlin calls on the Movement for Black Lives to “correct” the “genocide language.” Sheindlin states that “adopting slogans of certain activists” contributes to “the inevitable and understandable emotional turmoil” and that therefore, “many now question the level of partnership and support that so many Jewish actors are eager to provide.” Scheindlin argues, and Greenblatt suggests, that the horrific truth of Israel’s Pindosi-backed practices should be obscured in the name of tactfulness. We reject this logic entirely. The pursuit of justice should be guided by that alone, even if it makes those unwilling to acknowledge the full depths of injustice uncomfortable. After all, there is nothing tactful about the act of genocide.

It may come as a surprise to see the ADL and +972 Magazine writers on the same side of this question. The ADL, while purporting to defend civil rights, contributes generously to anti-Muslim and anti-Arab racism in Pindostan and abroad and allies with the very Pindo urban police departments on the front lines of the war against Black Pindostan. Indeed, in 2015 it commended the St Louis Metropolitan Police Dept for participating in an ADL training, just shy of the first anniversary of the department’s repression of the Ferguson uprising. The ADL characterizes any critique of Israel as anti-Semitism. +972 Magazine, on the other hand, regularly publishes criticisms of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, publicizes egregious acts taken by the IOF and covers Palestinian protests with sympathy. Both camps seem to take for granted Israel’s constitution as a Jewish state, however, one that continues to uphold the legal privileges of Jews over the rights and equality of non-Jews. Many of the +972 bloggers criticize the worst violence of the IOF without acknowledging that the state’s reason for being, as a country that exists for Jewish people first and foremost, makes it incompatible with equality for Palestinians, or any non-Jews. The Vision for Black Lives proposes a movement that seeks to end global racism, with its mutually devastating effects on Palestinians, Black people in Pindostan and around the world. In their responses to that movement, some of these organizations and individuals are saying that the value they see in Black lives is predicated on their support for, complicity in, and toleration of the crimes the State of Israel commits against the Palestinian people.

While we understand the nuanced differences between these various arguments we are responding to, and that not all of them disavow the entirety of the vision statement, we find the many points of commonality that are of great cause for concern. They have shown that their support for our liberation is conditional; that so long as we, as Black people, remain silent or reserved in the face of ethnic cleansing, we may have a right to live free of fear and oppression. That is not the meaning of liberation. Our freedom cannot be bought at the expense of another’s oppression. Claiming solidarity to us so long as we remain silent on the oppression of our Palestinian sisters and brothers is insulting. As the Dream Defenders recently stated in their response to this Zionist backlash:

True solidarity does not come with strings attached.

And in these heavy days of racist violence in Pindostan and Palestine, we are inspired to see more people and organizations making the connection. We will continue to do our parts to build the struggle for Black lives and to support the fight for Palestinian freedom. We will build on efforts like the 2015 Statement of Black Solidarity With Palestine, and various delegations of Black activists to Palestine and Palestinian activists to Pindostan that foster solidarity between both movements for the mutual benefit of each, and the liberation of all oppressed people.

Darializa Avila Chevalier is a 2016 graduate of Columbia University, where she was an activist with Students for Justice in Palestine and Mobilized African Diaspora. She helped launch Columbia University Apartheid Divest. She lives in New York. Khury Petersen-Smith is one of the co-authors of the 2015 Statement of Black Solidarity With Palestine. He lives in Boston.

petraeus and o’hanlon

The Unbearable Awesomeness of the Pindo Military
David Swanson, Counterpunch, Aug 19 2016

Unrepentant, always wrong, Pindo warmongers Michael O’Hanlon and David Petraeus have authored “Pindostan’s Awesome Military And How to Make It Even Better” to explain to the rest of us that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the greatest Pindosi frack-yeah military ever AND that it is in such a pitiably weak state that if trillions more aren’t wasted on it we’re all going to die. Remember, this is the same military of which a single branch has just recently misplaced $6.5 trillion. And it needs more money. Why? Because it’s soooooooooo damn awesome! In fact it’s about to win the wars it’s embroiled in in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, and Libya, but if you don’t fork over trillions more it will lose badly and it’ll be all your fault and the ghosts of the betrayed and sacred troops will haunt you instead of haunting the admissions offices of broken down VA hospitals. Meanwhile Bill McKibben wants, as we’ve all long wanted, a “war” against the danger of climate destruction, only without taking the money out of the only place it can come from, the preparations for actual wars, and while hyping the awesomeness of the military to make sure the money stays there. But, back to our favorite warmongers. Petraeus and O’Hanlon fill us in on the following secrets (and we didn’t even have to have sex with them!):

Pindostan has the best military in the world today, by far. Pindo forces have few if any weaknesses, and in many areas, from naval warfare to precision-strike capabilities, to airpower, to intelligence and reconnaissance, to special operations, they play in a totally different league from the militaries of other countries. Nor is this situation likely to change anytime soon, as Pindo defense spending is almost three times as large as that of Pindostan’s closest competitor, China, and accounts for about one-third of all global military expenditures, with another third coming from Pindo allies and partners vassals.

This understates Pindo spending, while overstating the idea that it serves some purpose other than ginning up terrorism and suffering, but you get the idea. Here comes the “nevertheless”:

Nevertheless, 15 years of war and five years of budget cuts and Washington dysfunction have taken their toll. The military is certainly neither broken nor unready for combat, but its size and resource levels are less than is advisable given the range of contemporary threats and the missions for which it has to prepare. No radical changes or major buildups are needed. But the trend of budget cuts should stop and indeed be modestly reversed, and defense appropriations should be handled more rationally and professionally than has been the case in recent years.

This is based on the lie that Pindo military spending has been decreasing. It has not. It’s also based on denial of the existence of arms races and reverse arms races. Global spending follows Pindo spending up and could as easily follow it down. This is also based on denial of the Pindo role as not just far and away top spending on weaponry but also far and away top dealer of weaponry to the rest of the world, arming the hatred its own wars fuel, generating opportunities for more wars.

Most major elements of Pindo defense policy are on reasonably solid ground, despite innumerable squabbles among experts over many of the details. Through­out the post–Cold War era, some variant of a two-war planning framework (with caveats) has enjoyed bipartisan support and should continue to do so for many years to come.

Good thing that Pindostan is only in seven wars!

Those who worry about a Pindosi military supposedly in decline should relax. The current Pindo defense budget of just over $600b/yr exceeds the Cold War average of about $525b/yr in 2016 dollars and greatly exceeds the pre-9/11 defense budget of some $400b/yr. It is true that defense spending from 2011 through 2020 has been cut by a cumulative total of about $1 trillion, not counting reductions in war-related costs. But there were legitimate reasons for most of those reductions, and the cuts were made to a budget at a historically very high level.

Note that $1 trillion over 10 years is, in plain English, $100 b/yr, and in plainer English, false. Note also that the $600b/yr leaves out the Dept of so-called Homeland so-called Security, the Dept of Energy, the State Dept, the Veterans Administration, etc, etc. But why are we back to not worrying again? Can we just stop with that half of the propaganda and not switch back to fearmongering?

talking rubbish for the state dept is what they’re paid to do

Pindo State Dept: Peshmerga need to be under Iraqi government command
Rudaw, Aug 19 2016

WASHINGTON DC – Following a controversial statement by the Iraqi prime minister earlier this week that Kurdish Peshmerga forces must not advance towards Mosul when the battle for that city is launched, Mark Toner, deputy State Dept spox said that the Peshmerga must be under the command of the Iraqi government. Toner told Rudaw at a press briefing on Thursday:

I think it’s absolutely important, and we’ve emphasized this all along, that the Peshmerga and all the various fighting groups in Iraq need to be under the command and control of the Iraqi Government and the Iraqi military. I think that there just needs to be closer coordination between – and we’ve encouraged that and, indeed, it has taken place. Thus far, there have been these meetings as they look towards Mosul, and frankly, the next steps in liberating Iraq from ISIL. … There needs to be that coordination mechanism. But we certainly recognize, and we’ve said so many times, the vital role that these groups, including the Peshmerga, play and have played thus far and showed tremendous courage in liberating parts of Iraq that have been under the control of ISIL. … We engage regularly with Kurdistan Regional Government and Baghdad to advocate and encourage a unified front in the face of the continuing threat of Daesh or ISIL, and in fact, we hold and have held joint planning sessions between the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional President Barzani and the national security advisor for the Government of Iraq, and I think one took place last week. It was the second, I believe, of these meetings, and the intent here of those meetings is to try to build that kind of partnership and to work through some of the challenges as Iraqi forces writ large look towards the liberation of Mosul.

it’s not “saber-rattling” when we do it

Pindo Defense Contractors Tell Investors Russian Threat Is Great for Business
Lee Fang, Lee Fang, Aug 19 2016

The escalating anti-Russian rhetoric in the Pindo presidential campaign comes in the midst of a major push by military contractors to position Moscow as a potent enemy that must be countered with a drastic increase in military spending by NATO countries. Weapon makers have told investors that they are relying on tensions with Russia to fuel new business in the wake of Russian’s annexation of Crimea and modest increases in its military budget. In particular, the arms industry, both directly and through its arsenal of hired-gun, think-tank experts and lobbyists, is actively pressuring NATO member nations to hike defense spending in line with the NATO goal for member states to spend at least 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense. Army Gen (Retd) R Cody, a vice president at L-3 Communications, the seventh largest Pindosi defense contractor, explained to shareholders in December that the industry was faced with a historic opportunity. He said, according to a transcript of his remarks:

Following the end of the Cold War, peace pretty much broke out all over the world. The Wall came down. All defense budgets went south. Now, Russia is resurgent … Nations that belong to NATO are supposed to spend 2% of their GDP on defense. We know that uptick is coming and so we postured ourselves for it.

Speaking to investors at a conference hosted by Credit Suisse in June, Stuart Bradie, the chief executive of KBR, a military contractor, discussed “opportunities in Europe,” highlighting the increase in defense spending by NATO countries in response to “what’s happening with Russia and the Ukraine.” The National Defense Industrial Association, a lobby group for the industry, has called on Congress to make it easier for Pindosi contractors to sell arms abroad to allies in response to the threat from Russia. Recent articles in National Defense, NDIA’s magazine, discuss the need for NATO allies to boost maritime military spending, spending on Arctic systems, and missile defense, to counter Russia.

Many experts are unconvinced that Russia poses a direct military threat. The Soviet Union’s military once stood at over 4 million soldiers, but today Russia has less than 1 million. NATO’s combined military budget vastly outranks Russia’s, with Pindostan alone outspending Russia on its military by more than sevenfold, by $609b to less than $85b. And yet, the Aerospace Industries Association, a lobby group for Lockheed Martin, Textron, Raytheon, and other defense contractors, argued in February that the Pentagon is not spending enough to counter “Russian aggression on NATO’s doorstep.” Think tanks with major funding from defense contractors, including the Lexington Institute and the Atlantic Council, have similarly demanded higher defense spending to counter Russia. Stephen Hadley, the former National Security Advisor to Bush 43 now serving on the board of Raytheon, a firm competing for major NATO military contracts, has argued forcefully for hiking defense budgets and providing lethal aid to Ukraine. Hadley said in a speech last summer:

(We must) raise the cost for what Russia is doing in Ukraine … Even President Putin is sensitive to body bags.

The business press has noticed the development. The Washington Business Journal noted:

If anyone is benefiting from the unease between Russia and the rest of the world, it would have to be Bethesda-based Lockheed Martin Corp, which won a major contract from Poland, which is revamping its military in response to Russia.

Roman Schweizer, an analyst for the defense industry with Guggenheim Securities, predicted last year:

Eastern NATO countries will increase procurements in the wake of continued Russian activity in Ukraine.

At the Defence Security Exposition International, an arms dealer conference held in London last fall, contractors were quick to use Russia and rising defense budgets to hawk their products. A shoulder-fired-rocket touting representative from Saab told Defense One:

The tank threat is … much, much more closer to you today because Putin is doing something (in Ukraine).

William Hartung, director of the Arms & Security Project at the Center for International Policy, said:

Companies like Lockheed Martin and Boeing have pledged to increase the share of exports in their overall revenues, and they have been seeking major deals in East and Central Europe since the 1990s, when NATO expansion began. Pindo firms will be knocking at the door, looking to sell everything from fighter planes to missile defense systems. Russian saber-rattling (sic – RB) has additional benefits for weapons makers because it has become a standard part of the argument for higher Pentagon spending, even though the Pentagon already has more than enough money to address any actual threat to Pindostan.

no point asking the pindos to take responsibility like adults

Turkey points out CIA’s ‘more evidence’ on Gulen
Ilgın Karlıdağ, Anadolu, Aug 19 2016

ANKARA – Turkey’s justice minister has said that the CIA has more evidence than Turkey about Fetullah Gulen’s involvement in the Jul 15 deadly coup attempt. In remarks made during his address to members of the judiciary at an event in Ankara, Bekir Bozdag said:

(The Pindosi denial) ridicules the minds of people across the world and in Turkey. CIA knows Gulen’s heartbeat, how often he breathes, who enters and leaves. I am certain the CIA has more evidence than Turkey has, of Gulen instigating [and] directing the coup attempt.

In 1979, Pindostan and Turkey signed a treaty in Ankara entitled “The Return of Guilty and Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters.” Article 9 of the treaty said:

After the signing parties have received the information and documents relating to the extradition request, they must take all necessary measures, including searching the wanted person.

According to article 10 of the treaty, in urgent cases, before any of the signing parties request the prompt return of a person, they can also request the temporary arrest or detention of the wanted person. This means Turkey has the right to request the arrest of Gulen and failure by the Pindo authorities to do so could be is a violation of the treaty. Turkey’s government has repeatedly requested Gulen’s extradition, sending four dossiers to Washington to prove his involvement in the Jul 15 coup attempt, which left 240 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured. Described as a terror cult, Gulen’s Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) is accused of leading a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, particularly the military, police, and judiciary, forming what is commonly known as “the parallel state.” Bozdag added that several members of Turkey’s top judicial board, HSYK, and public prosecutors were carrying guns at a crisis center to suppress the violent putsch on the night of the deadly Juy 15 coup attempt, saying:

Justice stood up against the coup, tanks, helicopters and automatic weapons. This is an extremely important and historic event. Everyone came ready to die. Be certain of that.

victory in the air (ha ha ha)

Pindostan scrambles jets to protect Kurdish allies from Syrian warplanes
Deutsche Welle, Aug 19 2016

Pindostan scrambled fighter jets to protect Syrian Kurdish forces, the Pentagon said Friday, as Syrian warplanes bombed the northeastern city of Hasakeh for a second day. The Pindo-backed Syrian Kurdish YPG militia has been clashing with regime forces in the city since Wednesday, adding a new dimension to the country’s war as Syrian government troops and the YPG militia have seldom fought each other in a sustained manner. The latest round of fighting is some of the most intense and represents the first time the regime has used its air force against the Kurds, with which about 300 Pindo SOF are embedded. Pentagon spokesman Capt Jeff Davis said:

Pindo fighter jets were sent on Thursday to protect coalition forces, but Syrian warplanes had already left the area by the time they arrived. We did make clear that Pindosi aircraft would defend troops on the ground if threatened. We will ensure their safety, and the Syrian regime would be well-advised not to do things that place them at risk. We view instances that place the coalition at risk with utmost seriousness, and we do have the inherent right of self-defense.

The coalition is now conducting more air patrols in the area, Davis said. That didn’t appear to deter Syrian warplanes, which on Friday again carried out airstrikes. The fighting has forced thousands of civilians to flee north and killed dozens, Kurdish media and officials said. Most of Hasakeh city, the capital of the province with the same name, is under control of the YPG, but the regime has maintained control of other parts of the city during the five-year war. The two sides have mostly avoided direct fighting but have periodically clashed in Hasakeh and Qamishli, a city near the border with Turkey, where the regime also controls some neighborhoods and the airport. The Kurds and the regime have often cooperated against rebel factions, particularly in Aleppo. The Kurds control much of north-eastern and northern Syria along the Turkish border, where they have set up an autonomous administration since the regime withdrew in 2012 to focus on rebel groups seeking President Bashar al-Assad’s ouster. The clashes appear to be in response to a recent Kurdish demand that pro-government National Defense Forces militia leave Hasakeh. A government source in the city told AFP:

(The airstrikes were) a message to the Kurds that they should stop this sort of demand that constitutes an affront to national sovereignty.

Fighting in Hasakeh comes less than a week after the Pindo-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, an umbrella of Arab and Kurdish militia, retook the strategic city of Manbij from Da’esh. That victory opened the possibility that they may advance further west in a bid to completely seal the Turkish border. In a statement on Thursday, the YPG said the regime was trying to undermine SDF and YPG successes in Manbij. The Syrian military said in a statement released on Friday that the fighting resulted from Kurdish forces trying to take over the city. The statement said the military’s response was “appropriate” and that further attacks would be met with force.

more hillary’s neocons

Hillary’s Neoconservatives
Michael Tracey, American Conservative, Aug 19 2016

The Hillary Clinton campaign has recently been trumpeting endorsements from neoconservatives. The candidate’s embrace of figures such as Robert Kagan, Max Boot, and Eliot Cohen — all once regarded as anathema to the contemporary left — has engendered a wave of pushback from progressive critics. Jane Sanders, wife of Bernie, is the most recent high-profile objector, publicly expressing queasiness about Clinton’s perceived allying with “architects of regime change.” Now, predictably, the pushback has been met with its own pushback, including from Brian Beutler of The New Republic, who cautions progressives not to fret, writing:

There is no evidence yet — none — that conservative figures with blemished records are rehabilitating their reputations by endorsing Clinton, or that Clinton is cozying up to new advisers, or that together they’re doing anything other than insuring against the risk of a Trump victory.

Progressive skeptics of military interventionism, he posits, should take solace in the fact that despite her repeated entreaties to neoconservatives, Hillary has tangibly offered them and other bad actors “squat.” So there’s no reason, according to Beutler, to fear that they would exercise any meaningful influence in a Clinton administration. But this framing fundamentally misunderstands how neoconservatives customarily build networks and attain power. Because their political program has virtually no support among large blocs of voters, neoconservatives have historically been forced to forge coalitions with other movements. Often their ostensible affinities are only tangential. It was not a given, for instance, that neoconservative intellectuals should have had any mutual goals with Evangelical Christians or diehard Pindostani nationalists. But they nevertheless fostered partnerships with these groups in the late 1970s and early 1980s, figuring (correctly) that this path would eventually lead them to positions of state authority. By building what Beutler calls a “permission structure” prominently featuring neoconservatives, Hillary need not make any explicit “offer” to confer upon them tangible benefit. By the way, what form would an explicit “offer” even take? A press release announcing formal cooperation?

Rather, she provides neoconservatives with an opening to ingratiate themselves into power merely by welcoming them into her prospective governing coalition. Evidence that their catastrophic failures have been forgiven can be seen in the uncritical adulation showered on Kagan, Boot, Cohen, and similar operators by the liberal media, suggesting that their blemished reputations are undergoing undeserved rehabilitation. Furthermore, Beutler errs in asserting that there is no evidence of Clinton “cozying up to new advisers” who might envisage a role for themselves in a future administration. Kagan has given Hillary not only rhetorical praise, but material support. He even headlined an official campaign fundraiser on her behalf. Foreign-policy analyst Jim Lobe has suggested that Kagan is most likely angling for a job with Clinton. Kagan, who not so long ago was denounced by liberal Iraq War opponents, co-signed a June report with Michèle Flournoy, the likely candidate for defense secretary under Clinton, calling for escalated Pindo military presence in Syria, a policy that could lead to all-out ground war or direct confrontation with Russia. So it seems he may already be on Clinton’s hawkish team in waiting.

Few reputable critics would argue that Hillary is herself a neoconservative. Far more plausible is that she’ll enable the implementation of a neoconservative foreign-policy agenda by casting the neoconservatives’ goals in liberal-interventionist terms, thus garnering Democratic support for initiatives that would face widespread opposition were they spearheaded by a Republican president. Lobe has written that Hillary represents “the point of convergence between liberal interventionism … and neoconservatism,” and Hillary’s willingness to empower a foreign-policy establishment featuring neoconservatives shows that they have in fact received concrete reputational benefit from lining up behind her. Hillary may operate on the premise that anything that might conceivably garner her additional votes is justified on that basis alone. Yet even on that premise, heralding neoconservative ideologues doesn’t make sense. Again, neoconservatives have virtually no support in the electorate, as the recent Republican primary contest indicated. Their base is mostly among elites. Beyond that, there’s a serious chance that continuing to tout these people will actually damage her electoral fortunes by alienating left-wing voters who might be cajoled into voting for the Democratic ticket, but can’t countenance the possibility of ushering the Iraq-invasion architects of the Bush 43 era back into power. So if there’s no obvious electoral upside, the most likely reason why Hillary is reaching out to such characters is a deceptively simple one: she shares common interests with them, respects their supposed expertise, and wants to bring them into her governing coalition. For that, anyone interested in a sane foreign policy over the next eight years should be exceedingly worried.

could she do it? yes

Could a Russian-Led Coalition Defeat Hillary’s War Plans?
Gary Leupp, Counterpunch, Aug 19 2016

Joe Scarborough this morning on MSNBC was inveighing against the “ransom” that Pindostan supposedly paid to Tehran in return for the release of Pindo prisoners (“hostages”) in Iran. Two other talking heads also used that term “ransom” matter-of-factly to describe what happened while acknowledging that the money had been owed to Iran by Pindostan since the days of the Shah. Just more knee-jerk anti-Iran, anti-nuclear agreement rhetoric. Then Joe turned to Syria, bemoaning the Pindosi “silence” and lack of action to end the carnage, absolutely ignoring the fact that Pindostan has repeatedly tried and failed to recruit and train Syrian allies to fight the regime, is bankrolling rebel groups, and has provided them with arms that have wound up in the hands of Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIL. He acts as though further Pindo action in Syria (which he imagines the world cries out for, from this last best hope of mankind) would produce better results than it did in Iraq or Libya. It is frightening to see the mainstream media line up with the 51 State Dept “dissidents” and Hillary on Syria, while it continues to promote crude anti-Russian and anti-Iranian propaganda.

The representation of Russia as an “existential threat” to Pindostan is preposterous fantasy. Just like the depiction of Iran as a nuclear threat is preposterous, and the notion that Assad’s secular government in Syria is the cause for the emergence of ISIL is sheer delusion. Russia with 12% of the Pindo military budget has military bases in precisely 8 foreign countries: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan (all nations bordering Russia, and former soviet socialist republics) plus Syria and Vietnam. Its only foreign naval facilities are in the latter two countries. The Sevastopol base in Crimea used to be on Ukrainian territory, but Russia has of course annexed the Crimean Peninisula to ensure continued control of the headquarters of its Black Sea fleet. Pindostan in contrast has over 650 military bases abroad, and five naval bases on the Mediterranean coast alone, in Spain, Italy and Greece. There are 10,000 sailors stationed at NSA Naples. In that same region the Russians have only their resupply station in Tartus, Syria operative by treaty since 1971, typically with a tiny garrison. The Russian air force base in Latakia, Syria is a modest operation, incapable of supporting those Tupolev-22M3 long-range bombers and Sukhoi-34 fighter bombers used to bomb ISIL and al-Nusra targets a few days ago in Aleppo and elsewhere. Those took off instead from Sahid Nojeh air base near Hamadan, Iran, causing some Pentagon concern and (false) accusations that the mission somehow violated a UNSCR about arming Iran. Moscow is boasting of mission success. (Morning Joe’s upset about that true.)

Russian forces have already done more damage to ISIL, dismissed in Jan 2014 by Obama as a minor problem, than Pindostan, which started its bombing of ISIL months before the Russians but Russian strikes have turned the tide of battle in Syria. One is struck simultaneously with Russia’s relative weakness vis-a-vis the hyperpower, and its creativity in reacting belatedly (just since Sep 2015) to the Pindo-orchestrated destruction of the Middle East. Moscow is well aware that pro-Hillary forces in the State Dept are rallying in favor of short-term, Libya-like regime change in Syria. But everybody knows there will be no UN fig leaf this time, as there was in 2011. Russia, (and as looks likely, China also) active in the Syrian skies will not accept a “no-fly zone” unilaterally proclaimed by the Exceptional Nation, restricting a sovereign government’s right to deploy aircraft in its own air space. Moscow has basically carved out a coalition against regime change in Syria, united in abhorrence of ISIL and Jabhat al-Nusra (now Jabhat Fateh al-Sham) but pledged to the defense of the existing secular Syrian state and specifically to support for its professional, mostly Sunni and Sunni-led army. The pro-Assad forces now include the Syrian Arab Army and assorted militia, Lebanese Hizbollah fighters, Iraqi Shiite militia fighters, Russia, and Iran.  India has repeatedly offered support for the government, and China has just vowed to provide aid and military training.

The Kill Assad Now Coalition on the other hand consists of the Hillary wing of the Pindosi State Dept, absolute monarchs of Gulf nations where Sharia is the law, and some NATO allies including Turkey. They want to prioritize the destruction of the Assad regime over the destruction of terror groups in Syria.  However, Erdogan is reconsidering his foreign relations generally. After the recent coup attempt, in which he believes Pindostan was complicit, he has has met with Putin in Moscow and mended relations strained by the Turkish shooting down of a Russian fighter plane over Syria last November. Turkey’s foreign minister has intimated that a normalization of relations with Syria is also in the cards. Especially if Turkey shifts (perhaps in return for Russian help in preventing the establishment of a Syrian Kurdistan), it might become well nigh impossible for Hillary to bomb Assad out of power. Unless of course she wanted to show how strong she is and start WW3. That could be even worse than a Trump presidency, arguably, don’t you think?

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