News Release Archive - 2015

“Elephant in the Room” — Terrorism and the U.S.-Gulf States Alliance

TOBY C. JONES, tobycjones at yahoo.com
Jones is an associate professor of history at Rutgers University and author of the book Desert Kingdom: How Oil and Water Forged Modern Saudi Arabia. See his interview on The Real News, “Al Qaeda and the Saudi Agenda.”

HASAN HAFIDH, mlhh at leeds.ac.uk, @hashafidh
Hafidh is working on his Ph.D. at the University of Leeds in comparative politics of the Middle East focusing on civil society networks and sectarianism in Gulf States.

He said today: “When it comes to existing discourse on efforts to counter radicalization and the subsequent extremism that arises, it appears that Western policymakers and media outlets want to address everything but the actual long-term causes. The elephant in the room being Gulf states (namely Saudi Arabia and Qatar) whose state institutions have acted as an ideological incubator for extremist sentiment to flourish both domestically and abroad.

“It is rarely talked about in a sensible way since the Saudis continue to hire a spree of U.S. lobbyists and PR experts, one of which is the PR powerhouse Edelman. The largest privately owned PR agency in the world, Edelman is known for helping clients with favorable media coverage on mainstream outlets. Meanwhile, a Saudi-led coalition is continuing to bomb the poorest country in the Middle East (Yemen), violating international law in the process, which like many of their activities has Western approval due to lucrative arms deals, in turn, affording Gulf states impunity for any of their actions. This explains the notable media blackout and minimal coverage on events in Yemen across Western media outlets.

“If you look at the relationship extremist movements have with these countries, you find they will employ various discrete or indirect methods of both financing and arming. A prime example being Al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria — Jabhat Al-Nusra. GCC states along with NATO member Turkey have effectively armed them through the guise of arming a so-called moderate coalition ‘Jaysh al-Fatah,’ which itself is already comprised of hardline Sunni Islamist groups such as Ahrar al-Sham.

“Qatar in particular, are known to finance such groups by way of paying ransoms; acting as a mediator in hostage situations. The most recent example being in Arsal, Lebanon, where Qatar mediated on a prisoner exchange deal for the release of Lebanese soldiers held captive by the group. Using this method enables them to deflect any charges of culpability for financing what are effectively al-Qaeda insurgents.

“In modern times, much of the extremism we witness today can be traced back to the U.S. and Saudi backing in the 1980s when they built up the Afghan Mujahideen to battle the Soviets; who we come to know today as the Taliban. It just goes to show how such policies of arming the ‘moderate Islamist’ has come back around to bite the U.S., having to invest in conflicts just to get rid of a problem they themselves aided and abetted in creating. We see a similar process taking place in Syria today.

“As part of this process, the Saudis would go on to utilize their petrodollars in order to finance and build fanatical religious schools. In the Punjab region alone, (which today witnesses extremism on a regular basis) has seen Salafi madrassas (or religious seminaries) increase threefold over the last few decades. This links back to a more recent case with the San Bernadino shooting, as U.S. officials found links between the infamous Lal Masjid in Islamabad and the woman [Tashfeen Malik] who took part in the ISIS-inspired massacre. This mosque is notorious for its links to past extremism and its leader (Maulana Abdul Aziz) who has gained a reputation in Pakistan for his hateful rhetoric. In the past, he has expressed support for ISIS, named a library after Osama Bin Laden and refused to condemn a massacre of schoolchildren in Rawalpindi (much to the dismay even of many of his own followers).

“In light of both the San Bernardino shooting and the Paris attacks, it is almost inevitable that despite concerted efforts by intelligence services, terrorist attacks will only become more frequent on Western soil. What remains to be seen, however, is whether Western governments will ever re-evaluate their stance with their allies in the Middle East; if they continue to grant them impunity, this means that any efforts to seriously tackle extremism are all but disingenuous, but it will be civilians who will continue to pay the price for governments which remain in denial as to the ideological roots of extremism.”

See by Lee Fang: “Saudi Arabia Continues Hiring Spree of American Lobbyists, Public Relations Experts” and “Inside Saudi Arabia’s Campaign to Charm American Policymakers and Journalists.”

See from the Daily Pakistan: “San Bernardino female shooter linked to Islamabad’s Laal Masjid.”

Trump: Making Muslim Bias “Explicit”

9781781685587_Muslims_Are_Coming_NIP-0d7c65bcca3a726c6f0e6f6d719fa2faARUN KUNDNANI, arun at kundnani.org, @ArunKundnani
Available for a limited number of interviews, Kundnani is the author of The Muslims are Coming! Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror and a lecturer at New York University. His articles include “The belief system of the Islamophobes.” He appeared on CNN on Tuesday along side two rightwing Republicans, see video.

On CNN, Kundnani said: “What I think Trump is doing with his comments yesterday is making explicit in rhetoric what is already implicit in policy terms. Right, so we already have had a situation since 9/11 where thousands of Muslims were rounded up and deported, simply because they were Muslim. We already have had a situation where mosques are being spied on, simply because they are mosques. We already have a situation where we have politicians saying ‘We won’t allow Syrians to come in and claim refugee status,’ simply because they are Syrian. So, you know, we already are in this situation. What Trump is, is a symptom of a wider political culture of Islamophobia, and the rhetoric that he’s coming out with yesterday, you know, it does have effects. So today, people are saying today that Trump is brave for speaking out, to me the people who are brave are the Muslim woman riding on the subway this morning worried about all the suspicious looks she’s getting, or the Muslim cab driver who’s worried he’s going to have an aggressive passenger attack him, people trying to get on with their daily lives in the face of hostility, that’s bravery.”

Kundnani said today: “The standard liberal response has been that his statements further ISIS’s agenda since they inflame Mideast opinion against us. But the stance against Trump’s comments should be a principled one.

“The notion that one shouldn’t be so explicit about biases — again, very similar biases have been expressed by other political figures and have been part of policy — also presumes that Muslims have not been paying attention to actual U.S. government domestic and foreign policies for decades.”

Kundnani recently wrote: “Among the policymakers, scholars and ideologists of the ‘war on terror,’ there are two broad approaches to making sense of ‘Islamic extremism’: there are conservatives who regard Islam as an inherently violent culture defined essentially by its founding texts, and liberals who think the enemy is a totalitarian perversion of Islam that emerged in the twentieth century. On a deeper level, both of these ways of thinking operate together with an implicit solidarity, producing a flexible and adaptive discourse of a ‘Muslim problem.’ …

“What radicalization theories ignore is that violence in the ‘war on terror’ is relational: the individuals who become ISIS volunteers are willing to use violence; so too are our own governments. We like to think our violence is rational, reactive and normal, whereas theirs is fanatical, aggressive and exceptional. But we also bomb journalists, children and hospitals. A full analysis of radicalization needs to account for us radicalizing too, as we have become more willing to use violence in a wider range of contexts — from torture to drone strikes to proxy wars.”

Glenn Greenwald writes in “Donald Trump’s “Ban Muslims” Proposal Is Wildly Dangerous But Not Far Outside the U.S. Mainstream“: “Professional political analysts have underestimated Trump’s impact by failing to take into account his massive, long-standing cultural celebrity. … It’s important not to treat Trump as some radical aberration. He’s essentially the American id, simply channeling pervasive sentiments unadorned with the typical diplomatic and PR niceties designed to prettify the prevailing mentality. …

“Beloved Democratic Gen. Wesley Clark, while on MSNBC earlier this year, explicitly called for ‘camps’ for radicalized American Muslims. CNN’s role in all this is legion.

“The imposition of this sort of collective responsibility — telling Muslims, as CNN anchors did after the Paris attacks, that they are all legitimately regarded with suspicion when individual Muslims engage in violence — is unthinkable for almost any other group.”

Will Victims of U.S. Hospital Bombing be Heard?

Former MSF Kunduz Hospital pharmacist, Khalid Ahmad, recuperating at Emergency Hospital in Kabul. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Hakim)

The British newspaper the Independent reports: “International medical charity, Doctors Without Borders, on Monday submitted a petition to the White House requesting an independent investigation into the U.S.’s October 3 attacks on a trauma center in Afghanistan.

“More than 545,000 people worldwide signed the petition calling on President Barack Obama to approve a International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission (IHFFC) investigation into the attack on the hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan that killed 31 civilians and injured dozens more. IHFFC, which investigates violations of humanitarian law, has agreed to conduct the investigation if Washington and Kabul offer their consent.”
“’While the U.S., NATO, and the Afghan government have launched investigations, it is impossible to rely only on the parties involved in the conflict in Afghanistan to carry out independent and impartial investigations of acts in which they are implicated,’ a Doctors Without Borders press release said. ‘Perpetrators cannot also be judges.'”

BRIAN TERRELL, brian at vcnv.org
Terrell was in Afghanistan last month and is a co-coordinator for Voices for Creative Nonviolence. He has written several pieces including “Life Under Helicopters: Dispatch From Kabul.”

KATHY KELLY, kathy at vcnv.org
Kelly is co-coordinator of the group Voices for Creative Nonviolence. Her most recent piece is “Killing Blindly in the Endless War.”

Dr. HAKIM, hakimoryoung at rediffmail.com
Dr. Hakim is a medical doctor from Singapore who has done humanitarian and social enterprise work in Afghanistan for the past nine years, including being a friend and mentor to the Afghan Peace Volunteers, an inter-ethnic group of young Afghans dedicated to building non-violent alternatives to war. He is the 2012 recipient of the International Pfeffer Peace Prize.

He just wrote the piece “Kunduz MSF Hospital U.S. Bombing Survivor: ‘I Want my Story to be Heard’” — which states: “’I feel very angry, but I don’t want anything from the U.S. military,’ said Khalid Ahmad, a 20-year-old pharmacist who survived the U.S. bombing of the Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) / Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Kunduz on the 3rd of October, ‘God will hold them accountable.’

“The actions of the U.S. military elicit the same contempt from Khalid and many ordinary Afghans as the actions of the Taliban or the ISIS.

“Khalid was a little wary when Zuhal, Hoor and I were introduced to him in a ward of Emergency Hospital in Kabul, where he has been recuperating from a U.S. shrapnel injury to his spine that nearly killed him.

“But, immediately, I saw his care for others. ‘Please bring a chair for him,’ Khalid told his brother, not wanting me to be uncomfortable in squatting next to him, as we began our conversation in the corridor space outside the ward.

“Having just recovered strength in his legs, he had walked tentatively to the corridor, making sure his urinary catheter bag wasn’t in the way as he sat down.

“The autumn sun revealed tired lines on his face, as if even ‘skin’ can get permanently traumatized by the shock of bomb blasts.

“’The Taliban had already taken control of all areas in Kunduz except the MSF Hospital and the airport. I felt I could still serve the patients safely because neither the Afghan /U.S. military forces nor the Taliban would bother us. At least, they’re not supposed to.’ Khalid paused imperceptibly. …”

Why Lower Standards for Teachers?

U.S. News reports: “After three failed attempts since 2007 to replace No Child Left Behind, this week the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a compromise bill — the Every Student Succeeds Act — by a bipartisan vote of 359-64.”

The Maryland Capital Gazette reports: “More than 30 teachers from about a dozen county schools participated in a demonstration for higher pay Friday at Westfield Annapolis mall. Teachers graded assignments, tests and projects in the food court to show county residents and school officials the amount of work they do outside of contract hours.”

KENNETH ZEICHNER, kenzeich at uw.edu
Zeichner, a professor of teacher education at the University of Washington at Seattle, has written a piece on the Every Student Succeeds Act, highlighted by Valerie Strauss at the Washington Post, in which he says: “The most troubling aspect of the new legislation in regard to teacher preparation is its attempt to lower standards for teacher education programs that prepare teachers for high-poverty schools. It does this by exempting teacher preparation academies from what are referred to as ‘unnecessary restrictions on the methods of the academy.’ Here the federal government is seeking to mandate definitions of the content of teacher education programs and methods of program approval that are state responsibilities.”

KATHY SCHULTZ, kschultz at mills.edu, @kathyschultz22
Schultz, dean of the School of Education at Mills College, said today: “Most coverage of the ESSA has focused on its new regulations about high-stakes tests as the centerpiece of education reform and accountability. This is good news. In addition, the new regulations prevent the federal government from insisting on the use of the Common Core State Standards as a prerequisite for funding. Again, this is good news, especially in the emphasis throughout the new bill on local or state, rather than federal, control of education. A critical component of the law that has drawn much less attention is its support for non-university-based teacher education programs and, in particular, its circumvention of state standards for teacher education. The new legislation would sanction the placement of teachers with minimal preparation in classrooms and would go as far as counting a certificate of completion from one of these programs as the equivalent of a master’s degree. Instead of encouraging innovation, this provision denigrates the profession of teaching and works against the goal of increasing the prestige and desirability of teaching. Even worse, it makes it more likely that poorly prepared teachers, oftentimes in the midst of learning to teach, are assigned to the highest poverty and most challenging schools.”

Read the full Every Student Succeeds Act here.

* Obama Speech Translated * AP’s NSA “Propaganda”

NORMAN SOLOMON, solomonprogressive at gmail.com, @normansolomon
Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and co-founder of RootsAction.org. He is the author of War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.

He just wrote the piece “Obama’s Speech, Translated into Candor,” which states: “Here is a condensed version of President Obama’s speech from the Oval Office on Sunday night, unofficially translated into plain English:

“I kind of realize we can’t kill our way out of this conflict with ISIL, but in the short term hopefully we can kill our way out of the danger of a Republican victory in the presidential race next year.

“As a practical matter, the current hysteria needs guidance, not a sense of proportion along the lines of what the New York Times just mentioned in passing: ‘The death toll from jihadist terrorism on American soil since the Sept. 11 attacks — 45 people — is about the same as the 48 killed in terrorist attacks motivated by white supremacist and other right-wing extremist ideologies…. And both tolls are tiny compared with the tally of conventional murders, more than 200,000 over the same period.’

“While I’m urging some gun control, that certainly doesn’t apply to the Pentagon. The Joint Chiefs and their underlings have passed all the background checks they need by virtue of getting to put on a uniform of the United States Armed Forces.”

MARCY WHEELER, emptywheel at gmail.com@emptywheel
Wheeler writes widely about the legal aspects of the “war on terror” and its effects on civil liberties. She blogs at emptywheel.net. She just wrote the piece “6 Responses to Why the AP’s Call Record Article Is So Stupid,” about the NSA’s monitoring of San Bernardino shooting suspect Tashfeen Malik which states: “The AP engaged in willful propaganda yesterday, in what appears to be a planned cutout role for the Marco Rubio campaign. Rubio’s campaign immediately pointed to the article to make claims they know — or should, given that Rubio is on the Senate Intelligence Committee — to be false, relying on the AP article. That’s the A1 cutout method Dick Cheney used to make false claims about aluminum tubes to catastrophic effect back in 2002.

“And because editor (and author of the article) Ted Bridis has ignored the multiple people pointing out the errors in the article, I’m going to take the effort to explain how stupid it is.”

Wheeler’s other recent pieces include “Yes, Calling Only Muslims Terrorists Does Result in Disparate Treatment of Muslims” and “Metadata Surveillance Didn’t Stop the Paris Attacks.”

“The Muslims Are Coming!”

ARUN KUNDNANI, arun at kundnani.org, @ArunKundnani
Kundnani is the author of The Muslims are Coming! Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror and a lecturer at New York University. His articles include “The belief system of the Islamophobes.”

He tweeted last night: “Glaring contradiction at heart of #ObamaSpeech: we mustn’t discriminate against Muslims but they’re responsible for stopping terrorism.”

He said in a recent piece: “The promise of the ‘war on terror’ was that we would kill them ‘over there’ so they would not kill us ‘over here.’ Hence mass violence in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Palestine, Yemen, and Somalia — in the name of peace in the west. The ‘Authorization to Use Military Force’ that the U.S. Congress passed in the days after 9/11 already defined the whole world as a battlefield in the ‘war on terror.’ President Obama continues to rely on the authorization to give his drone-killing program a veneer of legality. …

“We all know the ‘war on terrorism’ kills more civilians than terrorism does; but we tolerate this because it is ‘their’ civilians being killed in places we imagine to be far away. Yet colonial history teaches us that violence always ‘comes home’ in some form. …

“For Muslim citizens in western states, these dynamics bring an enormous burden: they are reduced to the false choice of moderate or extremist, good Muslim or bad Muslim. The question that hovers over their very being is whether they will detach themselves from their connections to zones of violence abroad or channel that violence within the west. But this question is not posed directly; it is always displaced onto the plane of culture: do you accept western values?

“This framework imposes itself relentlessly on Muslim public expression, rendering suspicious anyone who refuses to engage in rituals of loyalty to western culture. Meanwhile, ISIS casts these Muslims as living in the ‘grey zone’ between western imperialism and the claim of a revived caliphate.

“What results is a mutual reinforcing of the militarized identity narrative on both sides: the jihadists point to numerous speeches by western leaders to support their claim of a war on Islam; and western leaders legitimize war with talk of a ‘generational struggle’ between western values and Islamic extremism.”

 

Is “War on Terror” Fueling Terror?

Last night, President Obama gave a speech on terrorism, vowing to defeat ISIS. This morning, the Independent reports: “Syria calls U.S.-led coalition air strike on Assad regime forces an ‘act of aggression.’” Reuters reports: “Four Syrian soldiers die in suspected U.S. coalition strike: group.”

The following analysts are available for interviews:

JEAN BRICMONT, [in Belgium], jean.bricmont at uclouvain.be
Bricmont is author of Humanitarian Imperialism: Using Human Rights to Sell War. He is also a mathematical and statistical physicist at the University of Louvain, and he is the co-author of Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals’ Abuse of Science. He said in a recent interview with The Real News: “If they want to defeat ISIS they should coordinate with the Russians and the Syrian state. … The United States has been fighting terrorism supposedly in Afghanistan since 2001, and what has happened there? … Where is the victory? I don’t see the victory. And terrorism is, ISIS-like terrorism, is spreading in Africa. … What I find remarkable is, for example in Paris, there [are] demonstrations about climate change. But there is no demonstration whatsoever about war and peace.” See his piece on Syria from 2013: “The Wishful Thinking Left.”

PAUL GOTTINGER, paul.gottinger at gmail.com, @paulgottinger
Gottinger is an independent journalist. He recently wrote an analysis of the”war on terror”: “Despite 14 Years of the U.S. War on Terror, Terror Attacks Have Skyrocketed Since 9/11,” which states: “Terror attacks have jumped by a stunning 6,500 percent since 2002, according to a new analysis by Reader Supported News. The number of casualties resulting from terror attacks has increased by 4,500 percent over this same time period. These colossal upsurges in terror took place despite a decade-long, worldwide effort to fight terrorism that has been led by the United States.

“The analysis, conducted with figures provided by the U.S. State Department, also shows that from 2007 to 2011 almost half of all the world’s terror took place in Iraq or Afghanistan — two countries being occupied by the U.S. at the time.

“Countries experiencing U.S. military interventions continue to be subjected to high numbers of terror attacks, according to the data. In 2014, 74 percent of all terror-related casualties occurred in Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Syria. Of these five, only Nigeria did not experience either U.S. air strikes or a military occupation in that year.

“The U.S. invasion of Iraq destabilized Iraq and Syria, creating the conditions for the emergence of ISIS, which now controls large parts of the two countries. The invasion of Afghanistan has not been able to wrestle large sections of the country from the Taliban, leaving Afghanistan in state of perpetual war. And the air war to oust Muammar Gaddafi has left Libya in a state of chaos.

“The instability caused by these wars, along with the atrocities perpetrated by U.S.-led forces, which can be exploited for terrorist recruitment, have played a significant role in the increase of terrorism worldwide.”

Under “Terrorism” Pretext, South Korea Set to Crack Down on Protests

Tim Shorrock reports in The Nation: “Following in the footsteps of her dictator father, South Korea’s President, Park Geun-hye, is cracking down on labor and citizens groups opposed to the increasingly authoritarian policies of her ruling ‘New Frontier’ party known as Saenuri.

“The situation could reach a critical point this weekend, when tens of thousands of workers organized by the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) join forces with farmers, students, and other civic organizations in a national action in Seoul to protest Park’s conservative labor, education, and trade policies.

“On Saturday, the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency banned the march, with Park’s Justice Minister Kim Hyun-Woong vowing to ‘uproot illegal and violent demonstration…no matter how much sacrifice is required.’ Meanwhile, the president herself equated the protesters — some of whom wear masks as protection from riot police — to terrorists.”

See New York Times “Tens of Thousands March in Seoul, Calling for Ouster of President” on last round of protests in November.

The following analysts and activists are available for interviews:

HYUN LEE, hyunlee70 at gmail.com
Lee recently wrote the piece “South Korean Labor Strikes Back.” She said today: “The KCTU is forging a broad united front with farmers and the urban poor not only to oppose the labor market reform but to mount a challenge to Park’s broader pro-corporate, pro-free trade agenda. It has called for a series of mass convergences in Seoul to build momentum for a potential general strike in the coming months. But it’s a risky fight, since Park has shown that she is willing to take extraordinary measures to silence her opposition.”

WOLSAN LIEM, kptu.intl at gmail.com
Liem is director of International Affairs, Korean Federation of Public Services and Transport Workers Union and said today: “The administration of President Park Geun-hye of Korea has repeatedly sought to weaken the rights of workers and their unions since taking office in 2013, including mobilizing police to disrupt protests and to arrest trade union leaders.”

MINJUHWA and DORAJI BAEK, veget100 at gmail.com
Daughters of Baek Nam-ki, a 69-year old farmer in critical condition after being doused with water cannons and tear gas on November 14, said,  “My father is not a terrorist; he has led a good, honorable, respectful, and decent life. We sincerely wish for justice.” See video of South Korean police firing water cannons at fallen protesters on November 14, 2015.

See: New York Times editorial: “South Korea Targets Dissent.”

9/11 Whistleblower Coleen Rowley

COLEEN ROWLEY, rowleyclan at earthlink.net, @ColeenRowley
Rowley, a former FBI special agent and division counsel whose May 2002 memo to the FBI Director exposed some of the FBI’s pre-9/11 failures — was named one of TIME magazine’s “Persons of the Year” in 2002. Rowley wrote to the FBI Director again in February 2003 with some hard questions about the reliability of the evidence being adduced to “justify” the impending invasion of Iraq. She now warns of terror attacks being used as pretexts for official agendas. She also warns that bulk collection of personal data by government, like military interventions, is not only counter to liberty, but counterproductive to the alleged goal of stopping attacks.

She just wrote the piece “Visa Waiver Program Has Same Weak Links; Mass Surveillance and Terrorist Watchlisting Don’t Work,” which states: “Politicians are scoring points with a frightened U.S. population by hyping the supposed danger of letting in up to 10,000 Syrian refugees, but a much greater or actual risk exists in the current gaps in a visa-waiver program. Yesterday’s massacre in San Bernardino again underscores the ineffectiveness of relying upon bulk data collection and intelligence agencies’ watch-listing processes to ‘keep us safe from terrorism.’

She wrote a piece for the Star Tribune, “Coleen Rowley: Ten years after Iraq,” which in 2013 gave an overview of major issues: “Ten years ago, I made the ultimately futile effort of writing to FBI Director Robert Mueller warning that he needed to tell the truth about the Bush administration’s unjustified decision to preemptively invade Iraq and the likelihood it would prove counterproductive. …

“My letter compared Bush-Cheney’s rush to war with the impatience and bravado that had led to the FBI’s disastrous 1993 assault at Waco, where ‘the children [the FBI] sought to liberate all died when [David] Koresh and his followers set fires.’ On a much more tragic scale, hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians were killed and millions more were wounded or displaced. Iraq’s infrastructure was destroyed. Severe problems remain with lack of clean drinking water, electricity and a lack of professionals in Iraq to help rebuild.

“Even worse, the flames of sectarian hatred were ignited, based on religious and ethnic differences, leading to violent civil strife, ethnic cleansing and terror bombings. Those fires continue to burn.”

Opposition to Both “Wholesale and Retail Terrorism”

SAM HUSSEINI, samhusseini at gmail.com, @samhusseini
Husseini is communications director for the Institute for Public Accuracy. He recently wrote the pieces, “From Planned Parenthood to Madrid: What Can Paris, London and Washington Learn?” and “The Left and Right Must Stop the Establishment’s Perpetual War Machine.”

He said today: “Ritualistic denouncements of ‘violence’ are ubiquitous after the murderous shooting Wednesday afternoon in San Bernardino, Calif. They come from many — including U.S. officials in an administration conducting bombing campaigns as well as from grassroots Muslim activists affiliated with groups backing bombing campaigns.

“It’s remarkable that Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman’s notion, which goes back at least to the 1980s, that the U.S. government participates in ‘wholesale terrorism’ is so rarely invoked in progressive, to say nothing of mainstream, discussions of ‘terrorism,’ even as many note hypocrisies like Christian and Muslim suspects being treated quite differently.” See: “Noam Chomsky: Obama’s Drone Assassination Program Is ‘The Most Extensive Global Terrorism Campaign The World Has Yet Seen,’” and “The Real Terror Network,” by Edward S. Herman; see below for excepts.

“This massive oversight obscures all discussions of terrorism, as the elephant in the room of U.S. government violence is not meaningfully discussed. Under those conditions, discussions are not going to lead to solutions.

“As I write, there’s endless media discussion along the lines of ‘Police have not identified a motive for the shooting. They have not ruled out terrorism.’ (NPR) But terrorism is not a motive. It’s a tactic to pursue a political motive or goal, like to dominate the Mideast (an apparent U.S. government motive) or violently coerce the people of the U.S. to stop their government from dominating the Mideast (an apparent al-Qaeda motive).

“Nor should the word ‘radicalized’ be demonized. Radicalized can and should mean to gain a greater political understanding, to see root causes of problems; it’s antithetical to someone who decides meaningful solutions lay in slaughtering 14 civilians.

“Restrictions on information often seem designed to make officialdom appear prescient, or at least have that effect. For example, a name of one of the suspects, Syed Farook (or, rather, a mangled form of it) was mentioned on Twitter at 2:00 p.m. Wednesday — some seven hours before it was made public by officialdom and major media, but well before President Obama suggested — apparently for the first time — that people on the quite problematic no-fly list should be particularly restricted from buying guns.”

DAVID SWANSON, davidcnswanson at gmail.com, @davidcnswanson
Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie and When the World Outlawed War. His most recent piece is “War with Russia or with ISIS: What ever happened to peace?

He said today: “One of the least likely causes of death for people to fear in the United States is violence, and among the types of violence that could cause your death one of the least likely is terrorist blowback from U.S. wars in Western Asia. More likely than that is violence from the homegrown (if sometimes trained in foreign wars) rightwing, or violence from homegrown (if sometimes trained in Israel) police. One of the most likely causes of death in a nation being ‘liberated’ or having recently been ‘liberated’ by the U.S. military (Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan) is violence. And among the types of violence that could cause your death there, some of the most likely involve U.S. weaponry.

“The same weapons profiteering that many in the United States struggle to oppose in efforts to ban or regulate guns at home drives much of the killing in the world to which we often pay far less attention. By last count, 79 percent of weapons shipped to Middle Eastern nations were from the United States. Then you have to add gifts to ‘moderates,’ and the weapons in the hands of the U.S. military itself. We’ve armed our disgruntled employees and kicked them when they were down by stripping away services to pay for wars. We’ve armed the oil-rich Middle East and bombed and occupied people’s countries. Thomas Piketty points to economic inequality in the Middle East as a cause of violence. I would add that the violence is heavily armed by someone. I would point to the same pair of problems in the United States, and point the finger of blame at the same government. The fact that the U.S. media doesn’t make these connections does not, of course, mean that angry Americans haven’t learned from their government’s foreign policy that the way to handle grievances is to kill lots of people.”

Background:

Herman wrote the book, The Real Terror Network with explanatory text on the cover: “The broad purpose of this book is to show the nature, roots and vast scope of the real terror network – the U.S.-sponsored authoritarian states – and to examine the ways in which the magnificent propaganda machinery of the west has covered this over and substituted in its place a lesser, and frequently concocted, network that includes — by careful definition and selectivity — only those terrorists who are challenging important western interests or who can be plausibly linked to its enemies.”

Chomsky writes in “Terrorism: The Politics of Language“: “My book about it, Pirates and Emperors, takes its title from a rather nice story by St. Augustine in his City of God. St. Augustine describes a confrontation between King Alexander the Great and a pirate whom he caught. Alexander the Great asks the pirate, ‘How dare you molest the sea?’ The pirate turns to Alexander the Great and says, ‘How dare you molest the whole world? I have a small boat, so I am called a thief and a pirate. You have a navy, so you’re called an emperor.’ St. Augustine concludes that the pirate’s answer was elegant and excellent and that essentially tells the story. Retail terrorism directed against our interests is terrorism; wholesale terrorism carried out for our interests isn’t terrorism.”