......

em·pire
ˈemˌpī(ə)r/
noun
an extensive operation or sphere of activity controlled by one person or group

Which country has more foreign military bases than any country in world history?

Which country spends more on violence and domination than the rest of the world combined?

Which country has overthrown or attempted to overthrow some 60 governments, most of them democracies?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Prof. Zunes Details, Easily Debunks Near Unanimous, Crude US Gov. Lying in Service of US/Israeli Terrorism

US/Israeli Terrorist Attack against Palestinian Refugee Camp, Gaza
US/Israel Terror-Bomb Densely Populated Palestinian Refugee Camp, Gaza
This report is posted today in Counterpunch.  It is written by Stephen Zunes, “a professor of Politics and coordinator of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco.”
He explicitly details not only that US government lying (ie propaganda) in favor of US/Israeli terrorism is near unanimous and in opposition to US public opinion, but that the lies are incredibly transparent and cannot withstand the slightest scrutiny…
Terror Tunnels and Other Lies

Gaza and the Bi-Partisan War on Human Rights

by STEPHEN ZUNES
Israel’s seven weeks of attacks this summer on heavily populated civilian neighborhoods in Gaza has led to unprecedented concern among Americans who, while still broadly supportive of Israel, found the attacks to be disproportionate and unnecessary.
Close to 1,500 Palestinian civilians in Gaza were killed in the Israeli attacks—more of 500 of whom were children—and 18,000 homes were destroyed, leaving over 100,000 people homeless. Despite this devastating civilian toll, leading Democrats in Washington have joined Republicans in claiming that Israel’s actions were legitimate acts of self-defense against military targets, dismissing reports by reputable Israeli and international human rights groups saying otherwise.
In July and August, the two houses of Congress passed four resolutions and forwarded a series of letters providing unqualified backing for the massive Israeli air and ground assault, echoing the Israeli government’s justifications for the war and directly contradicting findings by United Nations officials on the ground, as well as investigations by both Israeli and international human rights groups.
What is particularly shocking is not just the vehemence with which the vast majority of congresspersons so enthusiastically supported a military operation condemned by most of the international community, but that they went on record making demonstrably false accusations despite being repeatedly confronted with evidence directly contradicting their claims.
The resolutions and letters seem to assume that while Hamas was guilty of terrorism in the deaths of the five civilians killed by Hamas rockets inside Israel, the Israeli government bore absolutely no responsibility for the deaths of nearly 1,500 Palestinian civilians killed by Israeli ordnance inside the Gaza Strip. Indeed, members of Congress have repeatedly asserted that the Palestinian side was somehow responsible for the deaths of its own people at Israel’s hands.
On July 25, Amnesty International reported that “Israeli forces have carried out attacks that have killed hundreds of civilians, using precision weaponry such as drone-fired missiles, as well as munitions such as artillery, which cannot be precisely targeted, on very densely populated residential areas.” Israeli forces “directly attacked thousands of homes,” including high-rise apartment blocks, killing whole families. Observing that civilians in the Gaza Strip had “nowhere to escape military operations by Israeli forces,” Amnesty provided ample evidence that Israeli forces were engaging in “indiscriminate attacks on urban areas using artillery and bombs.” In a particularly serious breach of international law, Amnesty further reported that “ambulances and medical personnel on their way to collect the wounded appear to have been deliberately targeted on several occasions, and hospitals have been destroyed by shelling from tanks and missiles.”
The congressional reaction to reports like Amnesty International’s was swift.
On July 29, the U.S. House of Representatives, with more than 100 co-sponsors from both parties, passed a resolution by unanimous consent insisting that the Israeli attacks were exclusively “focused on terrorist targets” and that Israel “goes to extraordinary lengths to target only terrorist actors.” Co-sponsors included such prominent Democrats as Alan Grayson (FL), Jared Polis (CO), Eric Swalwell (CA), Richard Neal (MA), Joseph Kennedy (MA), Tulsi Gabbard (HI), Jan Schakowsky (IL), Brad Sherman (CA), Elliot Engel (NY), and Debbie Wasserman-Schulz (FL). Two days later, Senate majority leader Harry Reid introduced a resolution, also pushed through by unanimous consent, claiming that “the Government of Israel has taken significant steps to protect civilians in Gaza” and that “Israel’s attacks have focused on terrorist targets.”
These were just two in a series of similar bipartisan resolutions and public letters that went through Capitol Hill as part of a concerted campaign to discredit human rights groups, journalists, medical workers, UN officials, and any other eyewitness who discredited the Israeli government’s talking points.
Amnesty International certainly wasn’t alone in implicating Israeli forces in war crimes. Human Rights Watch cited evidence of Israel “blatantly violating the laws of war designed to spare civilians,” including by attacking heavily populated neighborhoods, bombing UN-run schools, and shooting at fleeing civilians. The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem challenged its government’s claims that it had “no intention of harming civilians,” noting that “after more than three weeks of lethal bombardments by Israel in the Gaza Strip which have killed hundreds of civilians and wiped out dozens of families, this claim has become meaningless.” UN officials also charged Israeli forces with engaging in serious violations of international law following a series of attacks against UN schools where Palestinians were seeking refuge, prompting a bipartisan letter signed by 149 House members to the UN secretary general insisting that “Israel practices the greatest caution trying to prevent civilian casualties.”
These human rights groups and UN officials also strongly denounced Palestinian militants for firing rockets into civilian areas in Israel and for keeping armaments and soldiers in close proximity to civilian areas in Gaza, as well as for their refusal to accept several ceasefire proposals that could have ended the carnage earlier. Congress had no problem with that. By contrast, since Israel is considered an important strategic ally of the United States and a lucrative market for U.S. arms manufacturers, both major political parties made it a priority to lie and cover up for Israel’s war crimes, effectively insisting that Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, B’Tselem, and the United Nations were simply wrong and that they—from the comfort of their air-conditioned offices in Washington, DC—somehow knew better.
The Human Shields Myth
The Israeli government has repeatedly claimed that the large number of civilians killed by its forces were a result of Hamas using “human shields,” defined under international law as “Utilizing the presence of a civilian or other protected person to render certain points, areas, or military forces immune from military operation.”
No eyewitnesses in the Gaza Strip during the war found any evidence of this, however. For example, in late July, New York Times reporters in Gaza noted, “There is no evidence that Hamas and other militants force civilians to stay in areas that are under attack.” Likewise, Jeremy Bowen of the BBC that he saw “no evidence” for “Israel’s accusation that Hamas uses Palestinians as human shields.” According to reporters from The Independent and The Guardian, it was a “myth” that Hamas forced civilians to stay in their neighborhoods during Israeli attacks. Contrary to accusations by members of Congress, the Gazans who failed to heed Israeli warnings to evacuate did so because areas Israel had declared safe were being attacked as well.
Similarly, on July 25, Amnesty International noted that it had no evidence “that Palestinian civilians have been intentionally used by Hamas or Palestinian armed groups during the current hostilities to ‘shield’ specific locations or military personnel or equipment from Israeli attacks.” Preliminary investigations by the United Nations, Human Rights Watch, and other groups—while noting that Hamas had illegally engaged in hostilities in close proximity to populated areas and had stored weaponry in unoccupied homes and schools—found no evidence that Hamas had actually engaged in actions that met the widely accepted legal definition of using human shields.
Again, the response in Congress was swift: In less than a week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) pushed through a Senate resolution claiming that “Hamas intentionally uses civilians as human shields” and condemning the United Nations Human Rights Council for not saying so. Similarly, Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA)—who serves, ironically, as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee focusing on human rights—drafted a letter to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, signed by 34 of her colleagues, insisting that “Hamas is using Palestinian men, women, and children as human shields to deter Israeli attacks.” When I contacted them, neither senator’s office was able to provide any evidence backing their claims, nor did they explain how they were able to somehow locate information that journalists, UN officials, and human rights monitors in Gaza were unable to find.
House resolution went one step further, claiming that Hamas had “encouraged Palestinians to gather on the roofs of their homes to act as human shields.” Without any regard for the evidence, the resolution—also adopted by unanimous consent—put the House on record calling on “the international community to recognize and condemn Hamas’ breaches of international law through the use of human shields.” A letter signed by 149 members even insisted, in reference to rockets targeting Israel (and without any supporting evidence), that Hamas “publicly declares it the duty of every Palestinian to put his or her life on the line to protect them.”
Protocol I of the Fourth Geneva Convention makes it clear that even if one party to a conflict is in fact shielding itself behind civilians, such a violation “shall not release the [other] Parties to the conflict from their legal obligations with respect to the civilian population and civilians.” In other words, even if Hamas actually had used civilians as shields, it would still have been a war crime for Israel to kill them. To use a domestic example: if bank robbers were holding tellers and customers hostage while shooting at the police, the police could not get away with killing the hostages along with the criminals. Indeed, the implications of such broad bipartisan support in Congress for such a concept are chilling, given that this rationale could be replicated by law enforcement officials here in the United States—particularly given the militarization of local police forces in the name of fighting terrorism.
There is little question that these broadly supported bipartisan efforts were designed not just to defend Israel’s war on Gaza, but to discredit empirical investigations by human rights organizations overall. For example, one of the House resolutions passed this summer—in addition to making unsubstantiated claims about Hamas—also claimed that “throughout the summer of 2006 conflict between the State of Israel and the terrorist organization Hezbollah, Hezbollah forces utilized human shields in violation of international humanitarian law.”
In reality, empirical investigations during and following the conflict by several reputable investigative bodies found absolutely no evidence supporting this charge. A detailed study by Human Rights Watch published at the end of the fighting in Lebanon found “no cases in which Hezbollah deliberately used civilians as shields to protect them from retaliatory IDF attack.” Similarly, Amnesty International, in a well-documented report of its own, observed that “While the presence of Hizbullah’s fighters and short-range weapons within civilian areas is not contested, this in itself is not conclusive evidence of intent to use civilians as ‘human shields’, any more than the presence of Israeli soldiers in a kibbutz is in itself evidence of the same war crime.” In addition, Amnesty reported that while Hezbollah did store weapons and fire from civilian areas, it was only long after most of the civilian population had been evacuated. Subsequent reports for the U.S. Army War College and elsewhere also failed to find any evidence for the charge, which was nonetheless repeated by the House resolution years later.
In apparent anticipation of the U.S. bombing in Syria and Iraq, which would commence soon thereafter, the bipartisan House majority also went on record saying that Islamic State forces “typically use innocent civilians as human shields.” Following the logic from this and other resolutions supporting Israel’s attacks on Palestinian civilians in Gaza, this appears to have been a preemptive effort to exempt U.S. forces from any moral or legal culpability for the deaths of Syrian and Iraqi civilians caused by the imminent bombing of urban areas in those countries as well.
Attacks on the United Nations
Attacking the United Nations used to be the reserve of right-wing Republicans. Under the current congressional leadership, however, it has become a bipartisan affair, at least when concerns are raised about war crimes by a right-wing ally of the United States.
A particular target of the bipartisan attacks was UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who on July 20 condemned Israel’s devastating bombing and shelling of the Shijaiyah neighborhood in Gaza—which resulted in scores of civilian casualties, including journalists and health care workers—as “atrocious.” In response, Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) drafted a strongly worded letter, signed by a bipartisan group of colleagues, insisting that the Shijaiyah massacre was a “measured response of a nation-state trying to defend its citizens” and that Israel was actually “undertaking extraordinary efforts to avoid civilian casualties while Hamas cynically uses other Palestinians as human shields.” The letter went on to claim that Ban’s expression of concern about civilian deaths “undercuts the legitimate right of nation-states to defend their citizens.”
Another UN official targeted by Capitol Hill was Navi Pillay, the highly regarded UN High Commissioner for Human Rights who criticized Israeli forces for their “disregard for international humanitarian law and for the right to life.” Senator Boxer and her allies accused Pillay and the United Nations of having a “clearly political and biased agenda,” despite the fact that Pillay had made similar accusations against Hamas for failing to distinguish between civilian and military targets. During her tenure at the United Nations, Pillay had also roundly condemned war crimes and other human rights abuses by North Korea, Syria, Sudan, Sri Lanka, and other countries, raising no objections from Congress. According to 35 senators, however, the objections raised by Pillay and other UN officials were not due to evidence that Israel had also committed war crimes, but to the UN’s supposed opposition to “The fact that Israel has effective defenses against the rockets aimed at its citizens.”
Another target of congressional wrath has been the United Nations Refugee and Works Agency (UNRWA), the relief and development agency that provides education, health care, social services, and other assistance for Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip and elsewhere in the Middle East. UNRWA Commissioner General Pierre Krahenbuhl has repeatedly condemned Hamas for a number of illegal activities, including storing weapons in two unoccupied UN schools, and called for an end to the indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza aimed at Israel. But when Krahenbuhl also noted that Israeli forces were acting “contrary to international humanitarian law” in attacking UN schools housing refugees, Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) co-authored a bipartisan letter to Secretary of State John Kerry calling for an investigation into the allegedly “one-sided statements from UNRWA leadership that unjustly condemn Israel.” The six Israeli attacks on UNRWA schools—which killed 46 civilians, including 10 UN staff members—took place after UNRWA officials notified the Israelis of their exact locations and the absence of any Hamas military equipment or activity.
The primary target of Congress was the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), which had been praised by many in Congress only months earlier for its efforts to expose war crimes by the Assad regime in Syria. The UNHRC found itself the target of bipartisan wrath when it voted to establish a commission of inquiry looking into “all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law” in the hostilities in Gaza. The United States was the only one of the UNHRC’s 47 members to vote against establishing the commission.
While unfortunately only mentioning Israel by name in establishing the commission, the language of the resolution condemned “all violence against civilians wherever it occurred,” explicitly including the killing of Israeli civilians as a result of Hamas rocket fire. Commission chair William Schabas, a respected Canadian human rights lawyer, noted that the mandate is “clear that violations of international humanitarian law by all participants in the conflict would be covered.” Similarly, Pillay noted that “resolution S-21/1 of the Human Rights Council mandates the independent, international commission of inquiry to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.” She added that there was “increasing evidence of incidents that may constitute war crimes on both sides.”
In response to the establishment of the commission, nearly 150 members of the House signed a July 25 letter to Pillay protesting the UNHRC’s decision “to unjustly probe alleged war crimes” by a nation simply “defending its citizens from rocket attacks and terror tunnels” while failing to condemn Hamas’ fictitious “continuing use of human shields.” Similarly, the July 31 Senate letter to Ban denounced the UNHRC for investigating possible Israeli war crimes, insisting that Israel has “worked assiduously to minimize civilian casualties” and claiming that the UN had allegedly “turned a blind eye to Hamas’ brazen and depraved use of civilians as human shields.”
The full chambers of both the House and Senate went on record condemning the UN investigation as well, with Democratic leader Reid, on the Senate floor, declaring he was “disgusted” that the UNHRC would adopt a resolution “accusing Israel of human rights violations in the ongoing Gaza conflict,” calling such accusations “anti-Israel.” The desperation with which both political parties in Congress have rushed to block a UN inquiry exemplifies their determination to minimize the availability of data that would expose how their previous resolutions and letters were essentially efforts to hide the truth.
Terror Tunnels and Other Lies
Other mistruths abound.
For example, Senate Resolution 526 justified Israel’s war in part on the alleged necessity “to destroy the matrix of tunnels Hamas uses to smuggle weapons and Hamas fighters into Israel to carry out terrorist attacks.”
However, most reports seem to indicate that while the tunnels—which were primarily used to smuggle civilian goods into the besieged enclave—have at times been used to attack Israeli soldiers, no Israeli civilians have been subjected to attacks through the tunnels. [It is perfectly legal to attack soldiers of an occupying army.] For example, an Israeli magazine’s investigation concluded that in all six Hamas attacks launched through the tunnels, “Hamas’ targets were IDF soldiers, not the communities.” Leading Israeli military correspondent Alon Ben-David explicitly said that “there is no doubt their goal is to hurt and capture soldiers—not civilians.” Similarly, a senior military source told Israel’s Army Radio that “all tunnels were aimed towards military targets and not Gaza-perimeter communities.”
None of the resolution cosponsors I contacted could cite any terrorist attacks carried out from those tunnels, yet none of these senators who supported the resolution have thus far distanced themselves from this claim.
Another misleading statement came in Senate Resolution 498, co-sponsored by 79 out of 100 members of the Senate, which accused Hamas’ secular Fatah rivals of sharing responsibility for attacks on Israel, despite the consensus that the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority desperately wanted to prevent another Gaza war. Working on the absurd assumption that the rival parties in the newly formed Palestinian coalition government were somehow responsible for each other’s actions, the resolution insisted that “the unity governing agreement implies Fatah’s and the Palestinian Authority’s support for Hamas’ belligerent actions against Israel” and called on “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve the unity governing arrangement with Hamas.”
In reality, the cabinet of the technocratic “unity” government does not have a single Hamas member, and the Palestinian Authority has maintained its commitment to past agreements, including non-belligerence and full recognition of Israel. As the New York Times observed, those “who oppose a two-state solution understand that a unified Palestinian leadership is a prerequisite for any lasting peace” and would thus seek to undermine it. (Ironically, Congress has been willing to spend billions of dollars propping up the disparate coalition government of Iraq, which has included in its ruling coalition members affiliated with the radical Islamist Mahdi Army, notorious for acts of terrorism and attacks on U.S. personnel.)
Additional misleading information has concerned the alleged role of outside actors in supporting the Hamas attacks. For example, one of the House resolutions contains the bizarre claim that the Syrian government was providing “material support and training to Hamas” in its “rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza.” Not only is there no evidence for this charge, but Hamas and the Syrian regime are now bitter rivals; Hamas has not even had a diplomatic office in the Syrian capital of Damascus since 2011. Indeed, the Palestinian Islamist group has denounced the Assad regime and thrown its support to armed rebel groups seeking its overthrow. Hamas is on much friendlier terms with other Middle Eastern governments—such as Turkey and Qatar—that are considered U.S. allies. Again, requests to congressional offices to back up this claim were unanswered.
The Broad Agenda
When it comes to Israel, both parties allow ideology to trump the facts. A majority of both Democrats and Republicans are determined to attack the United Nations and discredit human rights groups if they dare document war crimes by the right-wing Israeli government.
This is nothing new, however. Back in the 1980s, members of Congress (primarily Republicans, but some Democrats as well) also tried to undermine the credibility of the UN and human rights organizations when they provided evidence of war crimes by U.S. allies in the Central America. In recent decades, leaders in both parties have also covered for atrocities committed by allied governments in Indonesia, Turkey, Colombia, Rwanda, and beyond.
What’s different today is that liberal and progressive groups that used to expose “Death Squad Democrats” along with Republicans who defended such governments are now giving unconditional support to Democratic defenders of Israel’s war crimes.
Barbara Boxer, perhaps the most outspoken Democratic supporter of Israel’s actions in the Senate, has been named a “progressive hero” by such groups as MoveOn and Democracy for America. Peace Action has endorsed Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley, whom—despite his co-sponsorship of Senate Resolution 498—they label as a “peace leader.” Backers of these and other resolutions covering up for Israeli war crimes—including Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) and Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Al Franken (D-MN), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI)—have been labeled “bold progressives” by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which is raising money for their re-election. Meanwhile, MoveOn has endorsed Sens. Mark Udall (D-CO), Kay Hagan (D-NC), and other unconditional supporters of Israel’s actions.
While most Americans are still broadly supportive of Israel, only a minority agree that Hamas was mostly responsible for this summer’s violence. Even in the early weeks of the conflict, when sympathy for Israel was strongest, only 29 percent of Democrats surveyed agreed Hamas was mostly at fault, a demonstration that the vast majority of Democrats in Congress—who have gone on record insisting that Hamas was solely responsible—are at odds with their constituents. This gap is particularly apparent among the core Democratic constituencies, such as liberals, minorities, women, and young people, whose enthusiasm is needed to get the vote out in November. Already, there are signs that the strident support by most congressional Democrats in defense of Israeli war crimes has alienated some of the party’s base—particularly among young people, who tend to trust human rights groups over politicians.
Still, it’s important to note that not everyone in Congress supported these right-wing initiatives. Scores of House and Senate members, particularly progressive Democrats and libertarian-leaning Republicans, refused to do so. Though four of these resolutions were adopted by a parliamentary procedure known as “unanimous consent,” it does not mean they had unanimous support. While technically anyone present could block it by demanding a roll call vote, such resolutions are often pushed through without advance warning when hardly anyone is on the floor. Indeed, the very fact that the party leadership went to some lengths to avoid virtually any roll call votes on the war may have stemmed from an awareness that a growing number of members from both sides of the aisle are reluctant to go on record supporting war crimes.
The bottom line, though, is that there is currently a large majority of both parties willing to undermine and discredit UN agencies and reputable human rights groups in their investigations of war crimes and suppress the reporting and enforcement of international humanitarian law.
The bipartisan implication that, in the name of fighting terrorism, a government can legitimately engage in the massive bombardment of urban areas where 70 percent of the casualties are civilians goes well beyond Israel and Palestine. Unfortunately, the willingness of supposedly “progressive” activist groups to provide unconditional support for the re-election campaigns of those pushing this kind of agenda shows these politicians that they have little to lose when they do.
Stephen Zunes is a professor of Politics and coordinator of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco.
This essay was originally published by Foreign Policy in Focus.
Robert Barsocchini is a researcher focusing on global force dynamics.  He also writes professionally for the film industry.  Here is his blog.  Also see his free e-book, Whatever it Takes – Hillary Clinton’s Record of Support for War and other Depravities.  Click here to follow Robert and his UK-based colleague, Dean Robinson, on Twitter.

Monday, October 20, 2014

On Newsweek’s Finding that a Major US Ally Cuts Off More Heads than ISIS

Newsweek has an article out called “When It Comes to Beheadings, ISIS has Nothing on Saudi Arabia”.
The article accurately illustrates that Saudi Arabia is essentially an established version of ISIS; in fact it was established the same way, which is also how Britain established its colonies like the USA, how US/Israel was, and is being, established, how the Afghan Taliban was established in a joint venture with the USA that lasted until 2001, and so on.
Newsweek details how the Saudis behead more people than ISIS (not to mention Saudis are big supporters of ISIS, and, according to leaked 2009 US documents, are the world’s overall biggest supporters of Sunni terror groups such as the formerly US-backed Taliban.)
The Saudi theocracy doesn’t just behead people or crucify people.  They slice your head off in public then crucify you.  Newsweek:
…if you were accused of banditry or drug smuggling, like seven Yemenis who were beheaded last year, your corpse will also be crucified.
There are different methods of crucifying the headless … while the headless corpse is mounted, your head is placed in a plastic bag… Your head is then raised above your body and appears to be floating and detached. Your corpse might be kept in that position for up to four days, as a grotesque warning to others of what might happen if they stray outside the law.
The article documents how this is done to people accused of being “sorcerers”, adulterers, people who plead not guilty to crimes (and, the article suggests, are likely innocent), and political dissidents (though Israel has the most political prisoners in the region, and it should also be noted that the USA puts people in cages for the rest of their lives for pretty crimes like shoplifting, while almost no one else does this.)
Noam Chomsky pointed out in a talk this month that Saudi Arabia is the single most radical Islamic state, and makes Iran look moderate by comparison (even though Iran also executes people; the top three countries for executing their own people are always Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the USA.  China’s numbers are likely higher, but unknown.)  And Saudi Arabia, exactly unlike Iran, has been pursuing, and has in fact obtained access to, nuclear weapons, via a deal with nuclear Pakistan, another Islamic fundamentalist US ally and distant runner up to Obama’s USA for greatest threat to world peace at the start of 2014.
Newsweek likewise points out that Iran has “a far more democratic political process than Saudi Arabia.”  Iran, like the USA, China, and others, has a kind of fake democracy wherein candidates must be supported by religious authorities; in China, it is state authorities, and in the US, financial authorities, or oligarchs.
Newsweek then documents how the USA demonizes and criticizes not Saudi Arabia, but rather the more moderate and “democratic” country, Iran.  When US politicians visit Saudi Arabia, as Kerry, Obama, Hillary Clinton, and others regularly do, they “do not publicly condemn the country”; human rights violations are “not mentioned”.
Indeed, though the USA cages more women than any other country in the world, Saudi Arabia is the only country where women are not allowed to operate cars.
Newsweek then points out that this behavior – criticizing a relatively moderate country but not a far more extremist ally – reveals a blatant double-standard by the US.
However, Newsweek then asks “why” the USA has this double-standard, and doesn’t explore the question beyond offering a couple of incidental hints throughout the article.
Perhaps the Newsweek author doesn’t know, thinks the answer is unknowable, or has some other motive for not exploring the topic further, but it should be pursued and the article presents a good opportunity.
Again, the question is, why does the otherwise wonderful USA have this confusing and seemingly nonsensical “double standard”, wherein it criticizes countries (like Iran) that are moderate compared to US ally Saudi Arabia (not to mention scores of others)?
US Relationship with Saudi Arabia
“…starting in the 1930s, the Americans would come to displace the British as the chief ally of the Saudis, especially after the American-aided discovery of vast reserves of oil in Saudi lands. [Murray] Rothbard spelled out the military and crony connections involved:
The Rockefeller interest and other Western Big Oil companies have had intimate ties with the absolute royalties of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia ever since the 1930s. During that decade and World War II, King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia granted a monopoly concession on all oil under his domain to the Rockefeller-control-led Aramco, while the $30 million in royalty payments for the concession was paid by the U.S. taxpayer.
The Rockefeller-influenced U.S. Export-Import Bank obligingly paid another $25 million to Ibn Saud to construct a pleasure railroad from his main palace, and President Roosevelt made a secret appropriation out of war funds of $165 million to Aramco for pipeline construction across Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, the U.S. Army was obligingly assigned to build an airfield and military base at Dhahran, near the Aramco Oilfields, after which the multi-million dollar base was turned over, gratis, to Ibn Saud.”
In the 1940s, US planners confirmed that the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia, contained the greatest material prizes in world history, and set about ensuring that the US could control these resources (just as the US had previously worked to control the formerly most important resource, cotton, in order to bring Britain “to its knees”.  Britain then was holding profitable colonies and enticing lands that ambitious US slave-owning empire-builders were drooling over.)
In the 1950s, Dwight Eisenhower asked his staff, privately, the question asked again decades later, publicly, by Bush Jr.: Why do people in the Middle East seem to hate us?  His staff investigated and determined that it was because the USA prevented democracy and supported repressive regimes in the Middle East so the US could control the region’s energy resources, and that the US should continue doing that.
The cozy gift-based US relationship with Saudi Arabia continues up to today, under Obama, who brown-noses the Saudis by, for example, sending them the biggest shipment of lethal weapons in US history, which Obama did in 2013.  The shipment included internationally banned cluster bombs, one of the personal favorite toys of Obama, as well as the Boston Bombers.
Professor Chalmers Johnson concludes from his extensive research that if Saudi Arabia were to become too upset with the USA, stopped dealing its oil in dollars and switched to some other currency (as did Saddam prior to the US invasion, after which the US switched Iraq back to dollars), then the entire US empire would collapse.
So, quite clearly, the USA refrains from criticizing Saudi Arabia because it is a cornerstone of the extremely profitable (for people like the Rockefellers and Bushes) US empire, but that is only one reason.
Tradition of Excellence
Another reason, one that people go to astounding lengths to avoid saying or even thinking, but which is plain to those looking from outside, is that the USA™ is a vicious, extreme country.  Since its inception, it has killed, enslaved, conquered, raped and tortured uncountable millions of people, continuing up to this second and projected far into the future.  Countries don’t have to do that.  China, for example, sailed to Africa before any western country.  The difference was China didn’t then enslave the people it found living there.  China still has zero foreign military bases.  Switzerland, during the same period in which the USA has been taking innumerable lives, expanding its living-space, and putting the entire world under garrison with 1,000 or so terrorist training camps, has never entered one war.  Instead, the Swiss developed an actual, highly effective defense policy (which partly hinges on not going around killing, torturing, and repressing people), and invented the Red Cross.
Beheading people is obviously not good, and it’s bad that the USA participates in it by backing Saudi Arabia to the literal hilt, but, as Chomsky pointed out this month, smashing the bodies of children into unrecognizable pieces like a sadistic giant, as the USA and its friends do constantly, makes beheading look “kind of polite”.  And the act, mostly carried out by Bill Clinton, of knowingly killing (way) over 500,000 kids (and many innocent others) simply has no contemporary equivalent, and constitutesmore murders than all people to have ever been slain by WMD in human history.
Of the US invasion of Vietnam to uphold Western colonial domination, “David Hackworth, a retired colonel and the most decorated officer in the Army, commented in 2003:”
”There were hundreds of My Lais. You got your card punched by the numbers of bodies you counted.”
As a reminder, at My Lai, a bunch of US terrorists strolled into town and machine-gunned hundreds of women and kids.  US soldiers also collected Vietnamese ears, noses, virginity, and so on, as trophies during the invasion.
Here’s Jimmy Carter, considered to be the absolute extreme end of US “human rights advocacy”, speaking about the US invasion of Vietnam:
The destruction was mutual.
I don’t feel that we ought to apologize or castigate ourselves or to assume the status of culpability.
I guess that’s why, rather than paying reparations to Vietnam, the USA is, to this day, making Vietnam pay reparations to the USA.  That, or it’s just bully’s justice.
As for the destruction being “mutual”, I’m not really sure why Carter thinks Vietnam invaded the USA, raped and machine-gunned countless women and children, carried out massive chemical warfare and land-mining that’s mutating and killing swathes of US citizens right now, took people’s ears and noses as trophies, and so on, but, uh… okay…
Anyway, the Western tradition of barbarism is old.  Europe is so outstandingly brutal that it has taken over essentially the entire world at one time or another, and has dug in like ticks (ticks with ICBMs) in the places where it was able to exterminate most of the previous inhabitants: the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.  Those great nations, along with the homeland of Britain, have formed an illegal, global privacy-invasion, big-brother racket that creepily refers to itself as the “five eyes”, and is part of the ongoing domination expansion campaign of these groups.
For one specific example of traditional Western terrorism, British conquerors in India would slaughter people en masse and sew the skins of their Hindu and Muslim victims into the corpses of cows and pigs, as a form of religious humiliation, then fire them out of cannons!  This is how the Brits went about trying to convert people to Christianity.  It was a “convert or die and then get sewn into a sacred or forbidden animal and fired out of a cannon” kind of thing. ISIS makes people convert or die, but the Brits took it to another level of perversion.  Maybe it was the famous dry British sense of humor.
The Brits also beheaded people, but seemed to look happier about it (though maybe ISIS guys are smiling under their masks):
beheading
A British Royal Marine in April 1952 grins proudly as he displays the severed heads of a young man and woman who may have or may not have exercised their legal right to resist foreign occupation.
The classy Brits would also, a la Game of Thrones, line the roads with rotting corpses of people they had slaughtered, as a terror-warning to anyone thinking about resisting the Empire.  This is how the Brits were, as was often claimed in the West, establishing their global empire in a “fit of absent-mindedness.”  Just absent-mindedly displaying slaughtered corpses and sewing people into animals like in Silence of the Lambs.  Hm?  What’s that?  Sorry, I nodded off while I was doing my sewing.  So absent-minded.
As the world’s overall most extreme and dangerous terrorist group, there is no reason the driving forces of the USAwould want to criticize Saudi Arabia as long as it is acceptably cooperative.  Sure, some individuals within the USA (though not role models like Obama, Hillary) see reason to strongly criticize the Saudi practices; so do individuals in Saudi Arabia.  But the dominant barbarism of the USA prevails, and thus Saudi Arabia not only gets more US weapons in one 2013 shipment from Obama than any other country ever, but remains backed by Obama when it invades places like Bahrain to back up dictators who are carrying out repression by “systematically torturing children”, as documented by Amnesty.  The USA not only participates in what Saudi Arabia does to its own people, but goes far beyond that and slaughters millions of people thousands of miles from US shores.
So, to pick up where Newsweek left off with a question, it would certainly seem that the reasons for the USA’s apparent “double-standard” (which is really just a crude, very basic propaganda tactic) are that the US doesn’t care what allies do as long as they don’t present an obstacle to US government/corporate domination, and that US controllers are themselves the world’s leading extremists: If you don’t pay enough tribute or cooperate sufficiently, we’ll kill you slowly by cutting you off from the world, kill you quickly by detonating a million explosives in your cities, drench you with toxic chemicals, and send hundreds of thousands of impoverished US kids to kill you.
If Iran suddenly decided to give control of its resources and space back over to the USA, virtually all criticisms of Iran’s human rights issues emanating from the US would end, as in the case of Saudi Arabia, where they never began.  And if Saudi Arabia switched its oil-dealings to a non-US currency, the USA would, if it didn’t launch an outright terrorist invasion or proxy war, quickly start criticizing human rights issues in Saudi Arabia, just as the Bush regime used criticism of Israeli human rights abuses to make Israel cancel a weapons deal with China.
There are endless illustrations of this dynamic going back forever, but let’s look at one more crucial contemporary example:
Turkey
In August of last year, someone carried out a chemical weapons attack in Syria, intentionally killing room-fulls of kids, as well as innocent adults.
Obama intentionally lied and said Assad, president of Syria, did it because only he could have done it, and, based on that lie, stated that he was going to punish Assad, because such an attack warranted a punishment.  (That part is obviously true – such an attack certainly warrants punishment; legal punishment decided by an international tribunal, not ridiculous war criminal Barack Obama.)
Here, thanks to leaked information given to Seymour Hersh and reported in the London Review of Books, is what Obama determined was the correct punishment for the chemical attack:
Obama ordered the Pentagon to draw up targets for bombing. Early in the process, the former intelligence official said, ‘the White House rejected 35 target sets provided by the joint chiefs of staff as being insufficiently “painful”…
The original targets included only military sites and nothing by way of civilian infrastructure.Under White House pressure, the US attack plan evolved into ‘a monster strike’: two wings of B-52 bombers … navy submarines and ships equipped with Tomahawk missiles … ‘Every day the target list was getting longer,’ …
…two B-52 air wings with two-thousand pound bombs were assigned to the mission. Then we’ll need standby search-and-rescue teams to recover downed pilots and drones for target selection. It became huge.’ The new target list was meant to ‘completely eradicate any military capabilities…’,
The core targets included electric power grids, oil and gas depots, all known logistic and weapons depots, all known command and control facilities, and all known military and intelligence buildings.
‘…a massive assault…’
That’s what Obama says is the necessary punishment for carrying out this chemical weapons attack against civilians.  Remember that.
Obama’s launch day came, but, seemingly inexplicably, Obama didn’t go through with his planned “massive assault”.  What happened?
It turned out the chemical attack was almost 100% certainly not carried out by Assad, and was almost 100% certainly carried out by major US ally and NATO member, Turkey:
‘We now know it was a covert action planned by [Turkish president] Erdoğan’s people to push Obama over the red line,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘They had to escalate to a gas attack in or near Damascus when the UN inspectors’ – who arrived in Damascus on 18 August to investigate the earlier use of gas – ‘were there. The deal was to do something spectacular. Our senior military officers have been told by the DIA and other intelligence assets that the sarin was supplied through Turkey – that it could only have gotten there with Turkish support. TheTurks also provided the training in producing the sarin and handling it.’ Much of the support for that assessment came from the Turks themselves, via intercepted conversations in the immediate aftermath of the attack. ‘Principal evidence came from the Turkish post-attack joy and back-slapping in numerous intercepts. Operations are always so super-secret in the planning but that all flies out the window when it comes to crowing afterwards. There is no greater vulnerability than in the perpetrators claiming credit for success.’ Erdoğan’s problems in Syria would soon be over: ‘Off goes the gas and Obama will say red line and America is going to attack Syria…
Obama’s staff began warning him not to attack Syria, though apparently without giving him this specific information (they self-censored since they were afraid to contradict Obama’s lies).
But after a while, the excuse no longer flies.  Certainly, once Hersh’s article was released and the whole world found out that it was Turkey who carried out the chemical terror attack, the NSA-expanding president could not credibly claim to be in the dark while the world is in the light.
The point is, look at what Obama did when he was saying that Assad was the one who carried out the attack: he went on TV and said we need to punish him with massive illegal violence.
But when it got out that Turkey was the one who carried out the attack, did Obama go on TV and say we need to teach the Turks a lesson by detonating tons of explosives in their cities?
No.  And now Obama is bombing Syria, anyway, just using a better propaganda pretext.
But why is he also not detonating explosives in Turkey?  The crime didn’t change.  Only the perpetrator changed.  How does that make a difference?
What kind of POS “global policeman” and “protector of the innocent” stops wanting to punish a gas attack intentionally targeting kids when he finds out his friends did it?
The evil, corrupt kind, that doesn’t care about terrorism, genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes at all, and in fact commits them constantly, because what he really cares about is maintaining and expanding a global profit racket, or empire.  It couldn’t be much more clear.
Which takes us back to the beginning: as the record illustrates, the US corporate state is not bombing ISIS for any reason (including killing US citizens, which the US doesn’t care about outside of the implications for expansionism) except to try to nurture its profits racket.  The USA is not a human rights organization - in fact it spies on human rights organizations, like Amnesty.  The US does not bomb people for humanitarian purposes, and its bombings are illegal and virtually always make thingsmuch worse, regardless.  If we buy that the US corporate state bombs for humanity (just like how Chevron dumps toxic waste into the Amazon for humanity), we are being duped into embodying the precise desired response to the propaganda of the world’s biggest and most extreme terrorist network, which tells us: “Think that we are doing this to help you (even though we can’t stand you), and pay no attention to our personal enrichment and your impoverishment, mutilation, and death.  Those are also for your good.  We just don’t subject ourselves or our families to those parts because… uh… uh… Look over there!”
Don’t like referring to the blood-soaked venom excreted by Obama and the USA as “propaganda”?  Check out this video game created and released by the US army, which it uses as a propaganda tool to try to radicalize US children into becoming militants who will die and kill people to secure profits for US companies:
Virtually everyone you kill in the game is unshaven, and there is almost no blood, unlike every other one of these games.  This one is sanitized.  When you shoot someone, the person just falls down, lies still, and is no longer a “target”.
The US Army advertises this in gaming magazines so it can, like cigarette companies, target and hook children when they are young and impressionable.
In corporate news style (i.e. Fox’s “bomb them bomb them keep bombing them!” refrain) I’ll offer some ideas for what we can do, without using Fox’s suggested mass, illegal violence. 1) To stop crimes, stop being the world’s biggest perpetrator of crimes.  2) To achieve a more just and peaceful world than what he have now, let’s focus our efforts on balancing (otherwise known as “democratizing”)  the distribution of world power –  exactly what the USA and its integrated mega-corporations like Foxdon’t want, and forcefully block and prevent, so you know it’s the right track.  Here’s why this would help.
(Note on Newsweek: In the late 80s, Newsweek referred to then senator John Kerry as a “randy conspiracy buff” for investigating what was a completely true allegation: that the USA wasprotecting cocaine dealers in the US so it could illegally finance an illegal US terrorist operation against Nicaragua, with staging grounds in Honduras.)
Robert Barsocchini is a researcher focusing on global force dynamics.  He also writes professionally for the film industry.  Here is his blog.  Also see his free e-book, Whatever it Takes – Hillary Clinton’s Record of Support for War and other Depravities.  Click here to follow Robert and his UK-based colleague, Dean Robinson, on Twitter.
Also published in Washington's Blog and Global Research.