the War on Terror is a malignant outgrowth of the Terror of War | Chilcot report: War on Iraq

Much is in the news about the recently released Chilcot report by Sir John Chilcot, chairman of the United Kingdom’s Iraq war inquiry. He was one of the bureaucrats in office during the time the United States and subsequently Great Britain governments’ decided to go to war on Iraq in 2003. The Chilcot report exposes the fact that there were no grounds to go to war on Iraq. There were lies, confounded by more lies that lead to this grave decision, which has subsequently ignited ISIS (whatever acronym you wish to call it), unleashing an insurmountable backlash of violence by groups coping with their own destabilization and horrors. Violence fueled by hatred in ever swirling spirals.

Carne Ross wrote for the New York Times July 6, 2016 Chilcot Report: How Tony Blair Sold the War

“Thus the invasion that was justified by an imaginary threat in Iraq helped create a crisis of global insecurity that will endure for a generation, at least.

The ministers and officials who enabled Mr. Blair to perpetrate this catastrophe must also bear blame. Brave after the event, many testified before Mr. Chilcot that they knew the war was a mistake — yet they went along with it. But without them, it could not have happened. The “threat” of weapons of mass destruction was repeated by many diplomats and officials even when they, like me, were well aware that the scant intelligence we had could not substantiate the claim.”

Matthew Schweitzer on the 8th of July 2016 writes in Mondediplio – the English version of Le Monde Diplomatique, Iraq’s trauma: the Chilcot inquiry

Schweitzer describes the history leading up to this, which has already been destabilizing the area years before. He mentions,

“In 1991, over 10 years before the events described by the Chilcot inquiry occurred, a United Nations report concluded that ‘the children of Iraq up to the ages of puberty are the most traumatized children of war ever described.’ The report arrived at the end of the first Gulf war, in which 20,000-35,000 Iraqi soldiers perished along with nearly 3,700 civilians.”

On July 7th, George Monbiot published on the Guardian’s website The Judgement of History: The Chilcot report is utterly damning; but it’s still not justice

“Mr Blair, the co-author of these crimes, whose lethal combination of appalling judgement and tremendous powers of persuasion made the Iraq war possible, saunters the world, picking up prizes and massive fees, regally granting interviews, cloaked in a force field of denial and legal impunity.

The crucial issue – the legality of the war – was, of course, beyond Sir John Chilcot’s remit…Justice is inseparable from democracy. If a prime minister can avoid indictment for waging aggressive war, the entire body politic is corrupted. In the Chilcot report, there is a reckoning, firm and tough and long overdue. But it’s still not justice.”

George W. Bush,  Tony Blair, Guardian, Chilcot report, Trevor Timm

George W. Bush and Tony Blair the Guardian The US needs its own Chilcot report Trevor Timm

As a United States citizen born and raised in this country, who protested going to war in the streets back then, it occurred to me that I had read an indictment a few years ago from someone within the United States government exposing the US government’s ill conceived decision to go to war in Iraq. I googled, and came up with this article The US needs its own Chilcot report, written by Trevor Timm

“The former US president most responsible for the foreign policy catastrophe has led a peaceful existence since he left office. Not only has he avoided any post-administration inquiries into his conduct, he has inexplicably seen his approval ratings rise (despite the carnage left in his wake only getting worse).”

And in the politics of injustice, in which corpocrisy rules, it is really up to all of us to actually make a difference.

I beckon comments and suggestions regarding answers on ways to deal with the conundrum of hatred and violence. Perhaps if a large part of the citizens of the United States and Great Britain – for starters – would have the will and courage to make our voices heard and actually demand prosecution for the Crime of War, the consequences could be felt worldwide. That is, rather than passively watching this, actively making clear that you are behind persecuting these criminals – behind which are a bunch of corporations whose goal certainly was to invade Iraq for their own profit motives.

If the message sent to the rest of the world is that we care about other peoples lives who are embroiled in war and the injustice of it – rising above the political veil of democracy – to actually send clear messages of humanitarian love and peace, this in itself could begin wakening quite different responses from people who have only felt desperation and experienced hopelessness and horror.

I will promptly write in my digesthis blog about the concept of ‘othering’ (distancing oneself); a concept of Edward Said, mentioned by Naomi Klein in a larger context, together with the inspiring words of Akala regarding status quo racism built into Empire.

Another means of extracting ourselves from the rather undemocratic government we are in which is ensconced in the politics of money, as politicians are placed by corporate powers to parlay their wishes, is to have a GREEN SUSTAINABILITY REVOLUTION.

Perhaps as one person recently commented, the more that we involve ourselves in our own communities in DIY Doing it Ourselves: to grow our own food, actively engage in community building, build inexpensive systems to collect your own rain water, collect energy from the sun with solar, build community projects such as community gardens and windmills or whatever renewable technology is available and adaptable to the climate and geography of place…the more we will be energizing ourselves without paying into a corrupt system that is bent on continually receiving fees. And the more that people grow their own food and acquire energy from their own self sustaining systems, the healthier and happier and more independent they will be, so that they won’t need to support industries which are reaping huge monetary gains while delivering little. As people take responsibility for their own health and happiness, they will less and less need to buy into a system that keeps them locked into it: i.e. pharmaceutical industry.

Here I go again. Moved to create a blog, pulling together content from a variety of sources by established journalists who have done their rigorous investigative journalism, scrutinizing information to put it out there. I float these out to consecrate their points and add some of my own. I considered researching which print or online publication I could send a query to, to submit an article for which I’m paid, and I guess two factors are dissuading me.

The first, that I want to immediately get this information out there. Secondly, I realize that I am for the most part reading and re-circulating other peoples’ dredging labor involved in investigative journalism. Nevertheless, the more the information is circulated, the better.

Carol Keiter in Tucson, AZ

Carol Keiter in Tucson, AZ

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Two sides to the (TPP) Trans-Pacific Partnership | Diplomatic Outreach or Corporate Steal

On the 21st of January, in the Southwestern corner of Berlin, Germany, I attended a lecture at the American Academy, an organization created to augment cultural and intellectual relations between the United States and Germany.

The American Academy in Berlin, Germany

The American Academy in Berlin, Germany

It was founded in 1994 by the U.S. Diplomat and Ambassador to Germany at the time Richard C. Holbrook, to encourage a transatlantic dialogue between the U.S. and German corporate, political, academic and cultural communities. This particular talk featured the American diplomat Richard N. Haass, who is the current President of the Council on Foreign Relations for the United States. Haass was formerly Special Assistant to President George H.W. Bush (Sr.).

Haass spoke to a cozy room of diplomats, academics, journalists and students. His talk specifically aligned to foreign policy, outlining some of the points of his recently published book “Foreign Policy Begins at Home”. He stressed that the United States has had an over-reach abroad and under-performance at home. Perhaps suffering, In his opinion, from ‘intervention fatigue’.

Besides emphasizing the need to put diplomacy over military, he also stressed that our current biggest challenge is to come up with a political and intellectual consensus. He mentioned that quality of education is the most important investment. A proponent of ‘investment partnerships’, he prefaced his discussion of global trade agreements by saying that the United States has had a growth of isolationism. He talked of the need to develop partnerships, saying that Asia is the fastest growing region with which the U.S. should specifically concern themselves. With this in mind, he spoke favorably of the TPP as an obvious strategic tool, essential for strengthening ties. The (TPP) Trans-Pacific Partnership is an extension of the 2005 (TPSEP) Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement. As of August 2013, the countries included are: Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam – listed in alphabetical order, not by measure of the implicit hierarchical power structure.

Pacific Rim Countries

His words ‘made perfect sense’ in light of his persuasive argument. Following his talk, the Executive Director of the American Academy, Dr. Gary Smith closed with the profound words that “Ideas Matter” and “Ideas Migrate”. It was the following day that I noticed that quite a different perception of the TPP had migrated into my inbox. 350.org, an environmental action movement, was on ‘high alert’, corresponding with the onset of the 2014 World Economic Forum, fortressed within the mountains of Davos, Switzerland.

World Economic Forum 2014 Davos

World Economic Forum 2014 Davos

Mentioning that though they don’t typically speak out about political affairs, 350.org nevertheless could not disregard the need to send out their timely message ‘the TPP is shaping up to be the worst kind of corporate power grab’ imaginable, with grim repercussions for the earth’s environment. Wikileaks had just leaked documents confirming that the United States TPP negotiating team is walking away from supporting strong environmental safeguards; protections from land use, logging and climate pollution. According to 350.org – an environmental organization and international grassroots movement founded by Bill McKibben aimed to reduce the CO2 emissions to 350 ppm – “the TPP would empower corporations to directly sue governments over laws and policies that they claim would reduce their profits. Legislation designed to address climate change, curb fossil fuel expansion and reduce air pollution, could all be subject to attack as a result of the TPP, cloaked as a free-trade agreement. In response, 350.org assembled an online activist form enabling people to contact their representatives, encouraging them not to support this highly secretive and expansive free-trade agreement between the United States and eleven Pacific Rim countries.

Davos, Switzerland location of 2014 World Economic Forum

Davos, Switzerland location of 2014 World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum taking place in the secluded mountains of Switzerland, even drew criticism from one of their speakers, referring to the forum’s inherent elitist exclusivity. Kavita Ramdas, stating the ‘Tiny Elite’ Shouldn’t Run an Inequality Discussion’. It was the butt of jokes, by Jon Stewart on Comedy Central’s “the Daily Show”; referring to ‘Mountain Few’ and the ‘Money Oscars’, since Davos is not only elusive (to get to physically) but also exclusive, fabulously expensive.

And an even more scathing and hard-hitting idea migrated into my inbox from the Tomdispatch blog. With respect to the corporate grab, read the Tomgram by Greg Grandin about the “Terror of our Age” and “The Two Faces of Empire”. This view pretty much 180 degrees, diametrically opposed from the U.S. diplomat’s words that first alerted my ears to the TPP.

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Carol Keiter the blogger

Carol Keiter the blogger

Too Potent to Pass | TomDispatch feat. Peter Van Buren: What They Won’t Talk About in the Foreign Policy Debates

I’ve only recently been exposed to Tom DisPatch; self described antidote to the Mainstream Media. It was a referral from the online Utne Reader, an alternative press magazine which I’ve valued as a source of information for years. Peter Van Buren’s style of delivery and content emphatically blows open the doors of perception. I felt compelled to re post his blog, in awe of his insights and frankly, because I believe we all need to be shaken out of our presumptions.

re-post:

Don’t Ask and Don’t Tell
Six Critical Foreign Policy Questions That Won’t Be Raised in the Presidential Debates
By Peter Van Buren

We had a debate club back in high school. Two teams would meet in the auditorium, and Mr. Garrity would tell us the topic, something 1970s-ish like “Resolved: Women Should Get Equal Pay for Equal Work” or “World Communism Will Be Defeated in Vietnam.” Each side would then try, through persuasion and the marshalling of facts, to clinch the argument. There’d be judges and a winner.

Today’s presidential debates are a long way from Mr. Garrity’s club. It seems that the first rule of the debate club now is: no disagreeing on what matters most. In fact, the two candidates rarely interact with each other at all, typically ditching whatever the question might be for some rehashed set of campaign talking points, all with the complicity of the celebrity media moderators preening about democracy in action. Waiting for another quip about Big Bird is about all the content we can expect.

But the joke is on us. Sadly, the two candidates are stand-ins for Washington in general, a “war” capital whose denizens work and argue, sometimes fiercely, from within a remarkably limited range of options. It was D.C. on autopilot last week for domestic issues; the next two presidential debates are to be in part or fully on foreign policy challenges (of which there are so many). When it comes to foreign — that is, military — policy, the gap between Barack and Mitt is slim to the point of nonexistent on many issues, however much they may badger each other on the subject. That old saw about those who fail to understand history repeating its mistakes applies a little too easily here: the last 11 years have added up to one disaster after another abroad, and without a smidgen of new thinking (guaranteed not to put in an appearance at any of the debates to come), we doom ourselves to more of the same.

So in honor of old Mr. Garrity, here are five critical questions that should be explored (even if all of us know that they won’t be) in the foreign policy-inclusive presidential debates scheduled for October 16th, and 22nd — with a sixth bonus question thrown in for good measure.

1. Is there an end game for the global war on terror?

The current president, elected on the promise of change, altered very little when it came to George W. Bush’s Global War on Terror (other than dropping the name). That jewel-in-the-crown of Bush-era offshore imprisonment, Guantanamo, still houses over 160 prisoners held without trial or hope or a plan for what to do with them. While the U.S. pulled its troops out of Iraq — mostly because our Iraqi “allies” flexed their muscles a bit and threw us out — the war in Afghanistan stumbles on. Drone strikes and other forms of conflict continue in the same places Bush tormented: Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan (and it’s clear that northern Mali is heading our way).

A huge national security state has been codified in a host of new or expanded intelligence agencies under the Homeland Security umbrella, and Washington seems able to come up with nothing more than a whack-a-mole strategy for ridding itself of the scourge of terror, an endless succession of killings of “al-Qaeda Number 3” guys. Counterterrorism tsar John Brennan, Obama’s drone-meister, has put it this way: “We’re not going to rest until al-Qaeda the organization is destroyed and is eliminated from areas in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Africa, and other areas.”

So, candidates, the question is: What’s the end game for all this? Even in the worst days of the Cold War, when it seemed impossible to imagine, there was still a goal: the “end” of the Soviet Union. Are we really consigned to the Global War on Terror, under whatever name or no name at all, as an infinite state of existence? Is it now as American as apple pie?

2. Do today’s foreign policy challenges mean that it’s time to retire the Constitution?

A domestic policy crossover question here. Prior to September 11, 2001, it was generally assumed that our amazing Constitution could be adapted to whatever challenges or problems arose. After all, that founding document expanded to end the slavery it had once supported, weathered trials and misuses as dumb as Prohibition and as grave as Red Scares, Palmer Raids, and McCarthyism. The First Amendment grew to cover comic books, nude art works, and a million electronic forms of expression never imagined in the eighteenth century. Starting on September 12, 2001, however, challenges, threats, and risks abroad have been used to justify abandoning core beliefs enshrined in the Bill of Rights. That bill, we are told, can’t accommodate terror threats to the Homeland. Absent the third rail of the Second Amendment and gun ownership (politicians touch it and die), nearly every other key amendment has since been trodden upon.

The First Amendment was sacrificed to silence whistleblowers and journalists. The Fourth and Fifth Amendments were ignored to spy on Americans at home and kill them with drones abroad. (September 30th was the one-year anniversary of the Obama administration’s first acknowledged murder without due process of an American — and later his teenaged son — abroad. The U.S. has similarly killed two other Americans abroad via drone, albeit “by accident.”) [Here’s a link I’ve added for a quick view of the Amendments to the United States Constitution]

So, candidates, the question is: Have we walked away from the Constitution? If so, shouldn’t we publish some sort of notice or bulletin?

3. What do we want from the Middle East?

Is it all about oil? Israel? Old-fashioned hegemony and containment? What is our goal in fighting an intensifying proxy war with Iran, newly expanded into cyberspace? Are we worried about a nuclear Iran, or just worried about a new nuclear club member in general? Will we continue the nineteenth century game of supporting thug dictators who support our policies in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Libya (until overwhelmed by events on the ground), and opposing the same actions by other thugs who disagree with us like Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad? That kind of policy thinking did not work out too well in the long run in Central and South America, and history suggests that we should make up our mind on what America’s goals in the Middle East might actually be. No cheating now — having no policy is a policy of its own.

Candidates, can you define America’s predominant interest in the Middle East and sketch out a series of at least semi-sensical actions in support of it?

4. What is your plan to right-size our military and what about downsizing the global mission?

The decade — and counting — of grinding war in Iraq and Afghanistan has worn the American military down to its lowest point since Vietnam. Though drugs and poor discipline are not tearing out its heart as they did in the 1970s, suicide among soldiers now takes that first chair position. The toll on families of endless deployments is hard to measure but easy to see. The expanding role of the military abroad (reconstruction, peacekeeping, disaster relief, garrisoning a long necklace of bases from Rota, Spain, to Kadena, Okinawa) seems to require a vast standing army. At the same time, the dramatic increase in the development and use of a new praetorian guard, Joint Special Operations Command, coupled with a militarized CIA and its drones, have given the president previously unheard of personal killing power. Indeed, Obama has underscored his unchecked solo role as the “decider” on exactly who gets obliterated by drone assassins.

So, candidates, here’s a two-parter: Given that a huge Occupy Everywhere army is killing more of its own via suicide than any enemy, what will you do to right-size the military and downsize its global mission? Secondly, did this country’s founders really intend for the president to have unchecked personal war-making powers?

5. Since no one outside our borders buys American exceptionalism anymore, what’s next? What is America’s point these days?

The big one. We keep the old myth alive that America is a special, good place, the most “exceptional” of places in fact, but in our foreign policy we’re more like some mean old man, reduced to feeling good about himself by yelling at the kids to get off the lawn (or simply taking potshots at them).

During the Cold War, the American ideal represented freedom to so many people, even if the reality was far more ambiguous. Now, who we are and what we are abroad seems so much grimmer, so much less appealing (as global opinion polls regularly indicate). In light of the Iraq invasion and occupation, and the failure to embrace the Arab Spring, America the Exceptional, has, it seems, run its course.

America the Hegemonic, a tough if unattractive moniker, also seems a goner, given the slo-mo defeat in Afghanistan and the never-ending stalemate that is the Global War on Terror. Resource imperialist? America’s failure to either back away from the Greater Middle East and simply pay the price for oil, or successfully grab the oil, adds up to a “policy” that only encourages ever more instability in the region. The saber rattling that goes with such a strategy (if it can be called that) feels angry, unproductive, and without any doubt unbelievably expensive.

So candidates, here are a few questions: Who exactly are we in the world and who do you want us to be? Are you ready to promote a policy of fighting to be planetary top dog — and we all know where that leads — or can we find a place in the global community? Without resorting to the usual “shining city on a hill” metaphors, can you tell us your vision for America in the world? (Follow up: No really, cut the b.s and answer this one, gentlemen. It’s important!)

6. Bonus Question: To each of the questions above add this: How do you realistically plan to pay for it? For every school and road built in Iraq and Afghanistan on the taxpayer dollar, why didn’t you build two here in the United States? When you insist that we can’t pay for crucial needs at home, explain to us why these can be funded abroad. If your response is we had to spend that money to “defend America,” tell us why building jobs in this country doesn’t do more to defend it than anything done abroad.

Now that might spark a real debate, one that’s long, long overdue.

Peter Van Buren, a 24-year veteran Foreign Service Officer at the State Department, spent a year in Iraq. Now in Washington and a TomDispatch regular, he writes about Iraq, the Middle East, and U.S. diplomacy at his blog, We Meant Well. Following the publication of his book We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People (the American Empire Project, Metropolitan Books), the Department of State began termination proceedings, stripping him of his security clearance and diplomatic credentials. Through the efforts of the Government Accountability Project and the ACLU, Van Buren instead retired from the State Department with his full benefits of service.

Copyright 2012 Peter Van Buren