The cruel farce of ‘humanitarian intervention’

April 8, 2017

Simon Jenkins: “It is a war crime to disable, maim or poison a victim by chemical or biological means, yet it is permissible to blow them to bits. Dropping chlorine evokes howls of horror. Dropping bunker busters does not. Cluster munitions, the most horrible of delayed action weapons, remain in the arsenals of NATO armies.

Many of us are now applauding this ‘aid to Syria’

Jenkins reflects that not a week passes without some new horror emanating from the vortex of the Middle East: “So called ‘wars among the peoples’ are, like all civil wars, distinctively terrible. Cities deaden the impact of an infantry advance. Reckless bombing takes over and accidents happen. Saudi Arabia bombs a funeral party in Sanaa. Russia bombs an aid convoy and a hospital in Aleppo. Western planes bomb friendly troops outside Mosul. There is no appetite for British troops on the ground. All talk is of bombing, intervention lite”.

Britain has already contributed too much to Syria’s hell:

  • It helped America create a power vacuum in neighbouring Iraq where Isis could form and flourish.
  • It then encouraged and gave material support to the rebels against Assad in 2012, ensuring that he would need support from Russia, Iran and Hezbollah.
  • American and RAF aircraft killed 80 Syrian soldiers protecting the town of Deir Ezzor from Isis.
  • British ‘intelligence’ has given America information, enabling them to kill many civilians alongside their stated targets.

Syria and the cruel farce of ‘humanitarian intervention: “Affecting to save people by bombing them from a great height is not just ineffective but immoral”

 Walking through Aleppo now

Jenkins gave many examples of this immorality and ineffectiveness – just four follow: ”Some 12,000 coalition bombing sorties have been directed at Isis in northern Iraq in the past two years. Tens of thousands of civilians have died in the ‘collateral’ carnage. In Syria, the human rights network estimates that Russian bombs have killed more Syrian civilians than Isis. Last year the Americans bombed an MSF hospital in Afghanistan. Bombs are unreliable. Stuff happens”.

He explains the appeal of airborne weapons to politicians down the ages

“For rich aggressors against poorly armed foes, they have glamour and immunity to counterattack, and have found new life in so called precision targeting and unmanned drones. In reality they have proved almost useless against fanatical soldiers with mortars and AK 47s. But they look good on television back home. They are ‘something being done’ “.

Jenkins describes the disintegration of the Middle East as a tragedy for Islam, but not the West’s business. Here we disagree, seeing it as a result of Anglo-Saxon West intervention, using soft and hard power.

The Scotsman reports that Alex Salmond, the SNP’s foreign affairs spokesman, joined Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn who is calling for greater effort to achieve a negotiated end to the conflict: “The British government should urge restraint on the Trump administration and throw its weight behind peace negotiations and a comprehensive political settlement.”

Corbyn: “Reconvene the Geneva peace talks and exert unrelenting international pressure for a negotiated settlement”

The Labour leader said: “Tuesday’s horrific chemical attack was a war crime which requires urgent independent UN investigation and those responsible must be held to account. But unilateral military action without legal authorisation or independent verification risks intensifying a multi-sided conflict that has already killed hundreds of thousands of people.

“What is needed instead is to urgently reconvene the Geneva peace talks and exert unrelenting international pressure for a negotiated settlement of the conflict.”

Jenkins: Nations and peoples do have a humanitarian obligation to aid those afflicted by war, to relieve suffering, not add to it, to aid those trying to comfort war’s victims and offer sanctuary to its refugees, not to take sides, guns blazing, in other people’s civil wars:

“British politicians would do better to spend their time organising relief than shouting adjectives, banging drums and dropping bombs”.

 

 

 


Army chaplain condemns U.S. policy of preventive war, permanent military supremacy and global power projection

May 19, 2016

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Mark Shapiro has forwarded a link to an article by Andrea Germanos reporting the resignation of an Army chaplain with the 354th Transportation Battalion at Fort Totten, New York. The Army Times relates his growing unease here.

In a letter to President Barack Obama, Rev. John Antal, now a Unitarian Universalist Church minister in Rock Tavern, New York, wrote:

“The Executive Branch continues to claim the right to kill anyone, anywhere on earth, at any tie, for secret reasons, based on secret evidence, in a secret process, undertaken by unidentified officials.”

Zubair gran pakistan usaidIronically, as a USAID-funded program enables a grandmother in Pakistan to learn to grow vegetables and preserve food, US drone strikes kill another over the border.

Antal served as a chaplain from September 2012 to February 2013 at the Kandahar Airbase in southern Afghanistan. “While deployed,” he wrote in February last year, a the Times Herald-Record, “I concluded our drone strikes disproportionately kill innocent people.

Less than a month after I deployed to Afghanistan, on October 24th, 2012, a grandmother who lived over the hill from our base camp was out gathering okra in a field when she was killed by a U.S. drone strike . . . I didn’t see her, or anyone else, die. All I saw were the drones, taking off, landing, and circling around. I did not even hear the explosion . . .

At a US congressional briefing 13-year-old Zubair Rehman described how he saw his grandmother blown to bits by two hellfire missiles on the day in question, asking his American audience: “Why?” They didn’t have an answer”. Official sources claimed they killed “militants” that day. Rev. John Antal continues:

Zubair gran okra“From the perspective of both religious wisdom and military values, drone warfare, as conducted by the United States today, is a betrayal of what is right.

“Military leadership has a responsibility to advocate for a method of war-fighting consistent with military values like respect, integrity, and personal courage. Too often, I worry, our program of drone warfare falls short of these ideals.

“I resign because I refuse to support U.S. policy of preventive war, permanent military supremacy, and global power projection”.

His letter of resignation may be seen on the Portside website

 

 


Iraq and Libya and semi-destruction of Syria — western foreign policy disasters

February 16, 2016

In 2002 a state visit: – welcomed by Queen Elizabeth and the Blairs:

syria assad queen

Truth in the words of a ‘prophet without honour’

“Whatever one thinks of Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy, might we agree that the destruction of two states — Iraq and Libya and semi-destruction of Syria — have been western foreign policy disasters?

“When you destroy a state the gates to every corner of hell are opened — no frontiers, no police, no law, no education, no infrastructure, no government, a Hobbesian war of all against all. After Iraq one might have thought western policymakers would have paused before turning Libya into a 1000km breach in the previously reasonably solid southern Mediterranean border through which refugees and Islamist jihadis now pour or export weapons and Islamist ideology”.

And now:

alleppo destruction

The Times reports that the five year conflict in Syria has claimed at least 250,000 lives.

Continued (minus anti-Russian bias):

“Of course we all celebrate an uprising against nasty authoritarians and there are no end of them to chose from in the Middle East, the Gulf, parts of Africa and further afield. It is so easy to start fuelling a conflict but so hard to say it is time to end it, hold our noses and let death and internal politics take the place of external intervention. Restoring state authority in Iraq, Libya and Syria should now be the supreme object of statecraft . . . “

Instead of the destroyed or semi-destroyed states and tsunamis of refugees that have been the main fruits of western policy this decade, we could build a stable Euro-Mediterranean region where investment can replace intervention on its southern and eastern littorals and return the EU to growth, prosperity and confidence.

Source: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d7db9bc6-d18b-11e5-92a1-c5e23ef99c77.html#ixzz40KQVHPTg

 

 


Max Hastings: the military historian who hates war

January 23, 2016

Sir Max Hastings has been called the leading voice in the anti-war sentiment: “(War) can cost an enormous number of lives and a lot of those people haven’t been killed by al-Qaeda or the Taliban but by our bombs and our guns.”

max hastings 2He describes the drone strikes as ‘pred porn’. “The military get seduced by watching live images and being able to say ‘take him out’ from their armchairs.

Everyone seems to think that the First World War in the trenches were awful but all wars are ghastly; the drone business can kid people there is a clean nice way of winning but there isn’t. You have to go in, get your hands dirty, see young men being maimed if you want war, the idea that you can push a few buttons in Lincolnshire and fire a few missiles from a drone is insane.”

Both his parents were journalists and he was determined to succeed in their world, becoming editor of two newspapers and author of 25 books.

“I was brought up to believe that the first duty of a journalist is to be a troublemaker, though I hope one is never an iconoclast doing it for the sake of doing it.”

Alice Thomson and Rachel Sylvester writing for the Times, see him as the leading voice in the anti-war sentiment.

He believes the prime minister was wrong to join the bombing campaign in Syria: “People like me have a responsibility to say, ‘Look there is no plan here, there is no coherent strategy.’ If we don’t say it, who will? . . . I’ve seen so many wars it makes me very wary that military action without purpose is a good idea.

“Cameron is not being correct to say it will keep our streets safe, this isn’t part of a coherent policy, we are making it up as we go along. I would focus far harder on what to do about Islamic radicalisation in this country and not just be thinking about making a gesture by dropping bombs in Syria . . .

“What worries me is his short-termism — his idea of strategy is how to get through until Tuesday. He doesn’t think through what he says, he once described Isis as an existential threat. He’s a clever man, he ought to know better”.

He also believes it is “nonsense” for the prime minister to suggest that 70,000 moderate Syrians are ready to fight. “We just don’t know. The prime minister should be leading a proper debate rather than chucking out spurious figures. There are three threats, Isis, migration and the Syrian war. We can try to combat Isis and treat the refugee crisis seriously but we should not take sides in Syria. There is no point in getting rid of tyrants if we replace them with anarchy or something worse.”

Sir Max, who has just written his first book on military intelligence, The Secret War: Spies, Codes and Guerrillas, 1939-1945, says: “It has been a huge mistake to run down our Foreign Office so our diplomatic presence is weakened. A lot of our best information has come not from spies with moustaches but diplomats in suits . . .In peacetime the best brains don’t need to waste their minds in intelligence but during difficult times and wars intelligence is the front line. Instead of buying the F-35 [fighter jet] we would do much better to spend a fraction of that money identifying and employing really clever people to work in analysis and cybersecurity . . . we need to give up some freedom so we can monitor these people.”

On social media Isis is winning, he thinks: “I would love to scrap the aircraft carriers and run a social media offensive against Isis that destroyed their propaganda machine. Isis is just a ludicrous death cult with no coherent vision to offer rational people. They are absurd.”

What is lacking is people who understand the nuances of battle. “The recent debate in the Commons was preposterous . . . Hilary Benn’s speech was passionate but juvenile, we need to be pragmatic. Politicians can’t give all the answers but they have to pose the questions. The public aren’t as stupid as most politicians think.”


Responding to terrorism: a statement from Quakers in Britain

November 25, 2015

News Release: 24 November 2015

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C3000 logo 3 medium.

As Parliament prepares to debate next steps in Syria, Quakers in Britain have made this statement.

The attacks in Paris on 13 November were deeply shocking and our hearts continue to go out to those killed, injured, bereaved and traumatised.

It is human nature that the closer suffering comes to us, the more acutely we feel the pain and grief. But that experience should sensitise us to the suffering caused repeatedly by acts of war and violent crime in more distant places, including Beirut, Sinai, Bamako and Aleppo. It should strengthen our determination to build a safer world together.

Terrorism is a deliberate attempt to provoke fear, hatred, division and a state of war. War – especially war with the West – is what ISIS/Daesh wants. It confirms the image they project of the West as a colonialist ‘crusader’ power, which acts with impunity to impose its will overseas and especially against Muslims.

The military actions of Western nations recruit more people to the cause than they kill. Every bomb dropped is a recruitment poster for ISIS, a rallying point for the young, vulnerable and alienated. And every bomb dropped on Syrian cities drives yet more people to flee and seek refuge in safer countries.

Our political leaders seem determined that Britain should look strong on the world stage. Quakers in Britain believe our country should act with wisdom and far-sighted courage. A wisdom that rises above the temptation to respond to every problem with military might. A wisdom that looks back at our failures in Libya and Iraq and Afghanistan and learns from experience. The courage – and strength – to think through the likely consequences of actions to find a long term, lasting solution.

The courageous response of ordinary people who refuse to give up their way of life and refuse to be driven by fear is one that politicians could learn from.

Although there are no quick or easy answers, there are things we can do, all of us together, which will defeat the terrorists more assuredly than military action. Quakers in Britain commit to playing our part in these actions.

We can quieten ourselves and listen to the truth from deep within us that speaks of love, mutual respect, humanity and peace.

We can and will refuse to be divided. By bridge-building among faiths and within our local communities we can challenge and rise above the ideologies of hate and actively love our neighbour.

By welcoming refugees, we can not only meet the acute needs of those individuals but also undercut the narrative of those who seek to create fear and mistrust.

And we can ask our political leaders to:

  • Treat terrorist acts as crimes, not acts of war
  • Stop arming any of the parties fighting in Syria
  • Observe international law and apply it equally to all parties
  • Build cooperation among nations, strengthening those international institutions which contribute to peace
  • Export peace rather than war, so that we can create the conditions the world needs to address its most serious problems, including climate change.

The statement concludes with this extract from a statement made by Quakers in Britain in 1943 (Quaker Faith and Practice 24.09):

“True peace cannot be dictated, it can only be built in co-operation between all peoples. None of us, no nation, no citizen, is free from some responsibility for this.”


Would the proposals made after the Paris atrocities actually help? And would they be consistent with the frequently asserted British values?

November 18, 2015

 

Now thrive the armourers

As the FT reports that US defence stocks rise after the Paris attack, one of its columnists, legal eagle David Allen Green asks these two questions following the Paris attacks, in his Jack of Kent blog:

david allen green 2- jack kent“In the aftermath of the Paris atrocities there are demands for action: dropping bombs and air-strikes, shoot-to-kill policies, more special interrogation techniques (ie, torture), less freedom of movement, more intrusion and less privacy, more powers for the security services, and so on.

“What seems to be a feature of many of these demands is that there is no attempt to explain the supposed cause-and-effect. It is almost as if the merit of the proposals is self-evident, a sign of virility: something bad has happened, and so something must be done in return.

“But each such demand raises two issues: one of practicality, and one of principle. That is: would the proposal actually help, and does the proposal conflict with the supposed principles, and way of life, we are presumably seeking to defend”.

  • Practice: ‘just doing “something” does not mean you are doing the right thing. It may make no difference, or it may make things worse’.
  • Principle: there appears to be a genuine risk that we could end up undermining – even subverting – the very principles of personal autonomy, the rule of law and freedom of expression which the West can and should be defending and asserting.

Read the article here:

http://jackofkent.com/2015/11/two-questions-about-something-must-be-done-following-the-paris-attacks/


More about the author: http://www.hampshireskeptics.org/?page_id=1638


The best memorial to Hashem al-Azzeh – highlighting Arab Israeli peace initiatives which do not get mainstream coverage in Britain

October 22, 2015

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dr hashemA couple of hours ago, as the following news of Arab Israeli peace initiatives was being drafted, a reader sent a link giving news of the death of Hashem al-Azzeh, a 54-year-old Palestinian doctor and peace activist in the city of Hebron on Wednesday.

Local media reported that he died after excessive tear gas inhalation during clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces. A post-mortem will be held.

Hashem has been described as Hebron’s unofficial spokesperson. Even after being sentenced by the IDF to house arrest for several years, a punishment that caused him to lose his job with the UN, Hashem continued to campaign for his people.

Last Saturday, October 17, he was quoted in Middle East Eye, describing the impunity with which settlers in the Old City have been killing young Palestinians: “The settlers feel confident that they have a free pass to kill Palestinians here,” he said. “We have asked the soldiers to help stop the settlers but they said it’s not their role and that we should leave the city.”

Hashem’s work will not end with his life. There are tens of thousands of people in Palestine and many in Israel who will carry it forward. His memory will live through them.

RIP

                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AGQoPGBbso

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A hummus café owner in Israel hopes to bring people together

hummus and arab israel

We read that a hummus cafe in Israel is giving a 50% discount to tables mixing Jewish and Arab diners, in a campaign the owner hopes will bring people together as dozens of people have been killed in Israeli-Palestinian violence this month.

Kobi Tzafrir, the owner of Hummus Bar in the town of Kfar Vitkin, initially posted the offer on Facebook: “With us we don’t have Arabs! But we also don’t have Jews… With us we’ve got human beings! Real excellent Arab hummus! Excellent Jewish falafel!”

Givat Haviva, an educational organization promoting Arab-Jewish coexistence

The Times of Israel reports that approximately 700 Jews and Arabs held hands in a chain in the central Galilee to call for reconciliation amidst a wave of violence throughout Israel over the past few weeks. The symbolic gathering on Friday afternoon was organized by Givat Haviva, an educational organization that promotes Arab-Jewish coexistence.

arab israel human chain discussion

The group of Arabs and Jews assembled and held hands on both sides of Route 65, near the Megiddo Junction in Wadi Ara, an area in the Galilee with a large Arab population.

Organizers called the event “a symbol of coexistence and shared life, specifically at this tense period.” After the event, entitled “Choosing to Engage,” Givat Haviva held a small ceremony with discussions.

Givat Haviva issued a declaration before the event titled “Call for a Secure and Shared Life in Israel” that condemned “any attack on body, soul or property, as well as any expression of physical or verbal abuse . . . We appeal to the leaders of both peoples to refrain from incitement and the ferment of emotions. Our task at this time is to inspire calm and ensure public safety.” The declaration was signed by seven mayors of Jewish and Arab municipalities in the Wadi Ara area.

A joint Jewish-Arab demonstration against violence was set to take place in Jerusalem Saturday evening. “Arabs and Jews want to live in security,” organizers wrote on Facebook. “Real security, without occupation and without killing. We know that only with a just solution to the conflict will we be able to stop the killing and the hatred, to build a different reality. A reality of security.”

Other Arab-Israeli peace initiatives include:

Parents: http://www.theparentscircle.com/

Neve Shalom http://www.nswas.com/

Phone http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6948034.stm

Surf     http://www.surfing4peace.org/s4pindex/Welcome.html

Olive https://www.canaanfairtrade.com/

Comedy http://www.ipcomedytour.com/

Circus http://www.israeltoday.co.il/default.aspx?tabid=137&view=item&idx=834

Combatants for peace http://www.combatantsforpeace.org/aboutus.asp

Radio   http://middleeasternaffairs.suite101.com/article.cfm/middle_east_peace_radio

Science http://www.ipso-jerusalem.org/

Health  http://www.hadassahuk.org/information.asp?content=WhatIsHadassah

Textbooks http://traubman.igc.org/textbook.htm

Water http://www.alternet.org/water/100057/the_middle_east’s_water_crisis:_will_the_jordan_river_run_dry/

Israeli peace activists return to streets (2010) http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/81ec01c2-4ee9-11df-b8f4-00144feab49a.html