PAUL BUCHHEIT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Every clear-thinking American knows that education and jobs are needed more than armed guards in poor neighborhoods. But average Americans are led to believe in a terrorist threat that may or may not exist, and that in any case is greatly exaggerated, while the corporate/military/political complex creates new forms of terror to safeguard the assets of the rich.
1. War Terror
It started with our leaders comparing notes on Iraq:
Cheney 08/26/02: There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.
Cheney 09/14/03: We never had evidence that he had acquired a nuclear weapon.
Powell 02/05/03: Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agents.
Powell 09/13/04: I think it's unlikely that we will find any stockpiles.
Bush 05/29/03: We found the weapons of mass destruction.
Bush 10/08/04: I wasn't happy when we found out there wasn't weapons.
In the first Iraqi war, two air missions per minute were conducted over 43 days, with the equivalent of seven Hiroshima bombs dropped on a largely defenseless country. Much of the slaughter was caused by "dumb bombs" that fell on civilian areas. U.S. troops attacked retreating Iraqi soldiers with cluster bombs and napalm as American pilots, adopting metaphors such as 'turkey shoot' and 'fish in a barrel,' conducted target practice from above. Some Iraqis were buried alive by bulldozers that spread tons of sand over them.
WILL DURST FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Got to forgive Presidential and Congressional staffers for covering their ears and singing “la la la” at the top of their lungs, as everyone pretends not to be knee deep in the icky tricky sticky Syria situation. You might say Washington is in a Semi- Syrious mode right now. And a Semi- Not- So- Syrious mode. Simultaneously.
Because this whole affair is riddled with enigmas and mysteries enough to make Winston Churchill spin his conundrums right off. And rumor has it, he harbored huge conundrums.
Demonstrating resolve in the face of chemical weapons, Barack Obama weaves through the media like Gumby’s drunken brother in a wind tunnel. Unfamiliar territory for a Chief Executive who never learned how to play both sides against the middle. For four and a half years, he’s been a facilitator with nothing and nobody to facilitate. All he needed was a facilitatee.
And now there’s a war. Not a leftover war. His war. A new war. Good Obama. Bad Obama. Boots. No boots. Barefoot. 30 days. 300 days. 3000 days. He loves us. He loves us not. Yes. No. Maybe. Better be prepared to give that Nobel Peace Prize back.
The Pied Piper of the Potomac is blowing a patriotic tune, dancing figure 8s up and down the MC Escher staircase that is Capitol Hill. Deadly determined to do the right thing; if only he knew what it was.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported this week that the Pentagon is likely to replace or augment current CIA support teams on the ground in Syria. The goal is to have a more direct US military involvement in aiding the contingent of rebels who are pro-Western in a two-pronged battle against the Syrian army as well as the Islamic Fundamentalist rebels:
The Obama administration is considering putting the Pentagon in charge of arming and training moderate rebel forces in Syria, a move that could help expand the effort significantly beyond the limited scope of the current Central Intelligence Agency program, U.S. officials said.
These internal discussions come as Congress begins a debate over a resolution to authorize limited strikes against Syria in response to the alleged use of chemical weapons last month.
The move would substantially revamp one of the administration's most secretive and controversial undertakings in the 2½-year-old civil war. President Barack Obama authorized the CIA program in June after Hezbollah's large-scale entry into the conflict on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's side and a U.S. determination that Syrian forces had used chemical arms in small amounts in earlier clashes.
As the US and world is being assured by President Obama that he is only seeking to prevent Syria from using chemical weapons, efforts appear to be underway to expand US involvement in the conflict in a more direct military fashion, according to the WSJ and other sources. In short, as BuzzFlash at Truthout has been predicting, the chemical weapons incident is being used as a Casus belli (cause of war).
JANE STILLWATER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Yeah, I know. The Bible says that there needs to be four horsemen involved if we are actually going to have a truly genuine Apocalypse -- so having only three horsemen arrive at our doorstep doesn't really count. Or does it? It certainly looks to me like only three lone riders, by working overtime and really putting their hearts and minds into the job, will actually be able to put it off all by themselves!
"And the greatest of these is..." war. Ever since mankind invented the machine gun, it's been all downhill for us human beings. From the trenches of World War I to the jungles of Rwanda and the halls of Columbine and Sandy Hook, war has been the curse of the modern world.
Oops, my bad. Most of the killing in Rwanda was done with machetes. And school shootings can't be considered real wars -- just kids using adult methods to solve problems. Plus World War I was supposed to be "The war to end all wars." Fat lot of good it did there.
In any case, War, our first Horseman of doom, has been doing pretty damn good for himself in the last 100 years, systematically killing hundreds of millions of people and polluting the Earth in the process. And yet people still keep falling for his sweet siren song, time after time -- and then always end up crashed to death on the rocks.
WILLIAM RIVERS PITT FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The pro-war talking points have been passed out to the Obama-uber-alles people, so I penned this little note to them on a different website regarding their rhetorical nonsense on attacking Syria. If you're having similar problems with these drillbit brainfails, feel free to copy and paste...and, P.S., if you're offended by this, find a mirror and have a long think about why.
I don't give a damn about Rand Paul, or Obama's political standing, or House GOP motivations. If this Syria nonsense makes for strange bedfellows, so be it.
Stop trying to tell me I'm allied with Rand Paul, or screwing the president, or assisting the House GOP because I think attacking Syria is dangerous, foolish madness.
You're wrong, we're right. Period, end of file.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
In a rare moment of diplomatic candor, US Secretary of State John Kerry told a congressional hearing Wednesday that oil sheiks have offered to pay the United States to unseat Bashar al-Assad as Syrian strong man. The surprising admission came in response to congressional pressure on the administration to explain how yet another military operation would be paid for during a period of prolonged budgetary sequestration.
Apparently trying to assuage concerns about billions and billions of taxpayer dollars financing a "punishment strike" that most legislators know in their guts is the opening salvo in another Libyan style war of degrading the Syrian military (while untold numbers of civilians are also killed in the process), Kerry, according to The Washington Post, revealed more than he probably meant to:
Secretary of State John Kerry said at Wednesday’s hearing that Arab countries have offered to pay for the entirety of unseating President Bashar al-Assad if the United States took the lead militarily.
“With respect to Arab countries offering to bear costs and to assess, the answer is profoundly yes,” Kerry said. “They have. That offer is on the table.”
Asked by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) about how much those countries would contribute, Kerry said they have offered to pay for all of a full invasion.
“In fact, some of them have said that if the United States is prepared to go do the whole thing the way we’ve done it previously in other places, they’ll carry that cost,” Kerry said. “That’s how dedicated they are at this. That’s not in the cards, and nobody’s talking about it, but they’re talking in serious ways about getting this done."
The conundrum for Kerry is that you can't say "nobody's talking about it" when you've just said that an offer is on the table in case the Syrian conflict becomes a full-fledged Libyan style regime replacement operation.v
JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden has leaked a new top-secret document that for the first time ever publicly discloses how the United States spends tens of billions of dollars annually on clandestine spy programs.
The Washington Post revealed the so-called "black budget" on Thursday and reports that $52.6 billion was set aside for operations in fiscal year 2013.
Call it a "war on terrorism" and the White House will instantly allocate billions of tax dollars. Call it a "war on wildfires" and, well, you're flat out of luck...
While the president signs off on more surveillance-drone contracts, vast acres of forests through the western states of Idaho, Colorado, Oregon, and California are going up in flames. Watch this video of Colorado's raging fires. And Yosemite Fire Threatens San Francisco Water and Power.
As of last week, 51 uncontained fires spread uncontrollably, making demands on fire crews extremely challenging primarily because the feds are running out of money to fight wildfires at the peak of the season. The U.S. Forest Service is diverting $600 million from timber, recreation and other areas to fill the gap. $50 million is only enough to pay for a few days.
Firefighters work sixteen hour work shifts. Exhausted, they need more workers and equipment than what is normally expected. Firefighters are paid on the cheap, and insurance benefits have been significantly and unfairly reduced. Last month, 19 firefighters in Arizona fires burned to death.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
When he started singing "Shut the F**k Up" upon his return to The Daily Show on Tuesday night, with pictures of Donald Rumsfeld, L. Paul Bremer, and William Kristol prominently displayed in the background, it was clear that it didn't take long for Jon Stewart to be back in mid-season form. Stewart, who spent the summer in Jordan directing his first feature film called Rosewater, composed his "Shut the F**k Up" one-line song/chant (which he repeated several times) for a segment titled "Uncle Jonny Stew's Good Time Syria Jamboree."
"Shut the F**k Up" was surgically focused on the pack of neoconservatives -- former George W. Bush Administration officials and apologists -- that have managed to insert themselves into the debate over how to respond to the situation in Syria.
As Buzzfeed reported, "After running through the similarities between the arguments made to justify striking in Syria and Iraq, Stewart compared our foreign policy to seventh-grade bullying; then he eviscerated cable networks for having "The Idiot Parade" — Donald Rumsfeld, Bill Kristol, and L. Paul Bremer — discussing the conflict on TV."
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR AT BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
After 12 years of US executive branch deceit, the US Congress is on the verge of backing another war in the Middle East -- this time with a vote.
Make no mistake about it. Obama doesn't mean a word of limiting his actions as commander in chief to a limited strike to punish the Syrians for allegedly using Weapons of Mass Destruction. (As to who dispersed them in a rather primitive fashion it is still not clear, despite alleged definitive statements from White House representatives.)
The odds of the US launching a combined sea-based and airforce bombing attack on the Syrian military command and elite forces, but not provoking some sort of counter-action from Syria, Iran, Hezbollah or even the Al Qaeda rebels who are fighting the Assad regime are about zero. Remember how long it took NATO and the US to degrade the Libyan armed forces before the fall of Gaddhafi? Does anyone anywhere truly believe that Obama intends to stop at one strike as compared to using the strike as the kindling wood.
So we can assume the White House and the pentagon are aware that the counterattack will result in Obama authorizing a full-scale military assault on Syria, although without infantry on the ground (but you can be sure special forces and paramilitary intelligence units are already in Syria as they were in Libya). Needless to say, an attack on US interests or Israel will quickly see NATO nations, including the now sidelined UK, fall in line with a "coalition of the reluctant" to force regime change.
As we noted yesterday in "The White House Keeps Us in Fear to Preserve Military Dominance Over Oil," fear has, since 9/11, been the main emotional manipulator of Americans, allowing the executive branch to project military power without interference. Put simply, the use of fear allows the White House to act militarily to manage regional interests in the Middle East to allow for continued and unimpeded access of the West to its vast oil reserves.
Just remember this: the US military is the largest consumer of petroleum in the world. In one respect, the war machine acts to preserve its own supply of oil without which it could not function, whatever the reserves in the US and elsewhere.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The videos of the deadly gruesome impact of chemical weapons on humans is visceral, ghastly and horrifying. In the modern technological age, we see visuals from mobile cameras, smart phones, video cameras, and we share the horror of writhing bodies, babies and children lined up in coarse linen shrouds, half-buried corpses.
We are, as humans, appalled, feeling an emotion that dredges up a physiological, primeval disgust, an embarrassment at being a member of a species capable of this.
So when President Obama vows the vaguest of retaliatory attacks, he evokes a sense of humanity that we are at home with.
This part, the disgust, the desire for retribution, the empathy we can all share.
But remember this, sear it upon your brains so that your thoughts can put your emotions in balance: Like 9-11 the thirst for revenge turned into a cudgel of fear, like the excuse in Libya of Omar Ghadaffi slaugthering civilians allegedly supporting rebels, like starting a war that has killed tens and tens of thousands in civilians over unfound WMDs in Iraq.