Archive for the On War and Peace in the Mid East! Category

SAUDI GOVERNMENT KILLS JOURNALIST!

Posted in On Donald Trump, On Foreign Affairs, On War and Peace in the Mid East! with tags , , on January 16, 2019 by playthell

Jamal Kahshoggi

DID TRUMP’S POLICIES HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH IT?

Waddling along like an overstuffed porcine pugnacious Panda, Mike Pompeo huffs and puffs as he romps around the Middle-East visiting the Trump Administration’s partners in crime. In the land of the Pharoah’s he dutifully dished dirt on the legacy of President Barack Obama at the behest of his jealous master, Devious Donald. The basis of this disdain was Obama’s emphasis on the protection of human rights and the expansion of democratic freedoms for the Egyptian people and other Arab populations that opposed autocratic leaders during the mass upheaval of “The Arab Spring.”

Conversely, the major theme of Trump’s speeches when he visited Arabia and spoke to the Sheikhs of the Gulf area fiefdoms was that America would not interfere in their internal affairs the way President Obama had done; so long as they protect American interests in the region. This is also the major theme in the pronouncements of Secretary Pompeo, who is, after all, Trump’s messenger boy.

Tis a pity that a content analysis of the speeches given by Pompeo and Barack Obama in Egypt is beyond the boundaries of this essay; it would tell us much about dramatic differences in the character and intellect of Barack and his defamers: Dastardly Don and Mikey Mouse. But, alas, the objective of this commemtary is to interrogate the facts around the Murder of Jamal Kashoggi, and try to divine their meaning.

Now that we know Jamal Kashoggi- Saudi citizen, permanent US resident and Washington Post columnist – was the victim of a grotesque murder and dismemberment by agents of the Saudi government in their Turkish embassy, and the CIA has concluded it was ordered by the ruling sovereign, prince Muhammad bin Salman: What is the US government going to do about it?

Well, Donald Trump’s response makes it abundantly clear that he plans to do nothing. Trump is perfectly willing to accept the Saudi government’s bogus exoneration of the Crown Prince over the claims of the CIA, just as he has done with their assessment of Russian interference in the presidential election. Indeed, in a shameless display of moral depravity, Trump threw up his hands in mock despair and said we will probably never know the truth about who was behind the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

It is obvious that Trump has made a Faustian bargain with the Saudi royals, in which he openly bartered the reputation and moral standing of the United States for petro-dollars, Saudi support for Israel, and promotion of hostile US policies against the neighboring Shiite state of Iran.

In a written statement on the gruesome murder Trump first attacked Iran with a deluge of propaganda – although the Iranians have nothing to do with the issue at hand – then he had this to say regarding the Saudi murderers:

After my heavily negotiated trip to Saudi Arabia last year, the Kingdom agreed to spend and invest $450 billion in the United States. This is a record amount of money. It will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth for the United States. Of the $450 billion, $110 billion will be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and many other great U.S. defense contractors.

If we foolishly cancel these contracts, Russia and China would be the enormous beneficiaries – and very happy to acquire all of this newfound business. It would be a wonderful gift to them directly from the United States!..Representatives of Saudi Arabia say that Jamal Khashoggi was an “enemy of the state” and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but my decision is in no way based on that – this is an unacceptable and horrible crime.
King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder of Mr. Khashoggi…In any case, our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They have been a great ally in our very important fight against Iran. The United States intends to remain a steadfast partner of Saudi Arabia to ensure the interests of our country, Israel and all other partners in the region. It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world!”

This statement raises so many troubling questions that it will require a separate essay to adequately discuss them. Yet even from the excerpts cited here, Devious Donald’s concerns are abundantly clear. There is no shame in his game as he brazenly elevates money above principle, letting the world know that corporate and personal profits mean more than truth, justice, freedom or life to the Trump administration.

After all, Trump has bragged about the enormous sums of money the Saudi royals have spent with his companies, even pulling several of his hotels out of the red. And the President’s bad judgment in citing the Saudi ruling clique’s claim that Mr. Khashoggi was an “enemy of the state” calls to mind his repeated accusation that American journalists are “enemies of the people.”

Hence it is entirely reasonable to assume that this shared attitude toward journalists is what led Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salmam – whom the CIA has fingered as ordering the horrendous hit “with high confidence” – to conclude that there would be no American sanctions for his crime. And if it is left up to his buddy “Dirty Donald” he is right.

However several US Senators have endorsed the conclusion that the crown prince ordered the murder after attending a CIA briefing conducted by by agency Director Gina Haspel. Senator Lindsay Graham, the shifty Carolina charlatan whose moral commitments appear to be negotiable, was unambiguous in his view of the Prince’s role: “I think he’s complicit in the murder of Mr. Khashoggi to the highest level possible.” Another Southern Republican Senator, Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, co-signed Lindsay’s views:”All evidence…leads back to the crown prince.” Senator Shelby went on to declare, “This is conduct that none of us in America would approve of in any way.” This is a significant development because these senators represent the most avidly pro-Trump sections of the country.

Members of Congress who are inclined to support Trump’s amoral coddling of the Royals might view the matter differently when they realize that Trump’s cavalier attitude toward the sins of the Saudi’s – while attacking Iran and pledging unqualified support for Israel – confirms the widely held suspicion among the Arab masses that the Jihadist are right when they say “America is the Great Satan!” This will push many who are ambivalent into the camp of the Jihadists and nullify Trump’s claim that “It is our paramount goal to fully eliminate the threat of terrorism throughout the world!”

Indeed, one need not be a great strategic thinker, or an expert on the Middle East, in order to recognize that Trump’s policies will revitalize anti-American radicalism among the youths in the Islamic world; for it takes away the most powerful weapon the US has in the battle for the hearts and minds of young people from whom the Jihadist recruit their soldiers: The argument that “America stands for freedom, truth and justice.”

Despite the American government’s despicable collaboration with the Saudi murderers, members of the journalistic profession and folks who treasure democracy everywhere, are shocked and appalled as we mourn the death of Jamal Khashoggi, whose only transgression was that he dared to criticize the Saudi Royal family in his writings. To fully understand the true character of the Islamo-fascist Saudi regime, it is essential to understand who Jamal Khashoggi was and the nature of his relationship to the Royals that rule the Kingdom with absolute power. While he has been portrayed as an uncompromising hero of the dissident democratic movement in the Arab world by journalists in the western press, that characterization has been challenged by some radical Arab intellectuals who felt that his criticism of the Saudi royals was milquetoast at best.

For instance, David Hirst of the London Guardian argues Khashoggi was a committed advocate of “truth, democracy, and freedom.” While the Director of Human Rights Watch, which monitors the activities of repressive governments around the world says Khashoggi was a paragon of “outspoken and critical journalism.” However As’ ad AbuKhalil – a lebonese Arab intellectual who is a professor of political science at the California State University at Stanislaus and author of “The Battle for Saudi Arabia” – takes a different view of Khashoggi. Recounting his career as a “journalist” in Saudi Arabia Dr. Abukalil tells us:

“Khashoggi was an ambitious young reporter who knew that to rise in Saudi journalism you don’t need professionalism, courage, or ethics. In Saudi Arabia, you need to attach yourself to the right prince. Early on, Khashoggi became close to two of them: Prince Turki Al-Faysal (who headed Saudi intelligence) and his brother, Prince Khalid Al-Faysal, who owned Al-Watan (The Motherland) where Khashoggi had his first (Arabic) editing job. Khashoggi distinguished himself with an eagerness to please and an uncanny ability to adjust his views to those of the prevailing government. In the era of anti-Communism and the promotion of fanatical jihad in Afghanistan and elsewhere, Khashoggi was a true believer. He fought with Osama bin Laden and promoted the cause of the Mujahideen.”

Hence Abukhalil believes far too much as been made of Khashoggi as a fearless defender of democracy, and he challenges the widely influential columnist David Ignatius, a colleague of Khashoggi’s at the Washington Post, who describes Khashoggi’s stint with the Moujahidin during the anti-Russian Jihad as “an embedded reporter.” According to Abukhalil, Osama bin Laden – a dogmatic theocrat who was no fan of democracy – would never “invite independent journalists to report on their war efforts.” Instead “The entire project of covering the Afghan Mujahideen and promoting them in the Saudi press was the work of the chief of Saudi intelligence, Prince Turki, Khashoggi’s principal patron-prince.”
Abukhalil argues that there is no real honest Journalism or “free press” in Saudi Arabia, where all media is owned or controlled – like everything else – by senior Princes of the House of Saud. Thus, all positions of influence in the Kingdom depends upon sucking up and gaining the favor of one of those princes. Hence the principal cause of Khashoggi’s fall from grace was due to his choice of the “wrong princes” to suck up to, not an uncompromising fight for democracy as we understand it in the US – which professor Abukhalil claims is amply verified by his writings in the Arabic language media, which his defenders like David Ignatious does not read.

Alas, Khashoggi chose two princes who have now fallen from grace with the new absolute ruler Muhammad Salman. According to this analysis, the Saudi government is even more repressive than many western observers of Khashoggi’s fate believed! However this critique of Khashoggi must not be confused with attempts by the Republican right to smear him and besmirch his character. They cite Khashoggi’s participation in the Afghanistan Mujaheddin as part of the Arab contingent in order to associate him with Osama bin Ladin, a leader of the “Afghan-Arabs who went on Jihad against the Russians in Afghanistan, an effort encouraged and supported by the US and Saudi governments.

Indeed, at the time they were engaged in a Cold War with the Soviet Union and the Jihadists were hailed as heroes by the US government and supported by the CIA, who trained Osama bin Ladin in terrorist tactics! Hence the Republican effort to smear him for those activities is based on disinformation that flies in the face of historical fact.

As I write the story the evidence that has been examined by the CIA confirms the Trukish government’s version of what happened. According to Turkish intelligence the Saudi government, presently headed by Crown Prince Salman aka “The Notorious MBS,” sent a hit team to Turkey that murdered and dismembered the Washington Post columnist inside their embassy while he was on an official visit to get documents he needed to get married, as his fiancee waited on him outside.

What the world must do now is demand that the Trump administration release the tapes of the torture and murder of Jamal Khashoggi provided by the Turks. By some accounts we can hear his fingers being cut off before he is beheaded. They say the forensic pathologist who headed the team can be clearly heard telling his ghoulish gang of cowardly assassins – with whom Donald Trump has now cast his lot – to play music as they butcher the journalist’s body for disposal.

Aside from the horror of it all this is an outrageous, reckless display of hubris. A respected American journalists is murdered in cold blood because the Crown Prince was offended by something he said? Although Lindsay Graham is feigning outrage, if you listen closely to his protestations Graham makes it clear that our outrage should be aimed solely at the Crown Prince not the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia; a sophistic statement which offers a distinction without a difference.

Alas, this atrocity was predictable given Donald Trump’s assurance to the Saudi royal Family – and all of the Arab despots of the gulf region – that so long as they keep the oil flowing at a cheap price and support his policies in the region, the US government will turn a blind eye to the oppression of dissenters struggling to democratize their societies. In May 2017 Trump spoke to a gathering of Arab leaders in Saudi Arabia, and he left no doubt about his stance on their repressive policies.

“I stand before you as a representative of the American People, to deliver a message of friendship and hope. That is why I chose to make my first foreign visit a trip to the heart of the Muslim world, to the nation that serves as custodian of the two holiest sites in the Islamic Faith. In my inaugural address to the American People, I pledged to strengthen America’s oldest friendships, and to build new partnerships in pursuit of peace. I also promised that America will not seek to impose our way of life on others, but to outstretch our hands in the spirit of cooperation and trust….And so this historic and unprecedented gathering of leaders—unique in the history of nations—is a symbol to the world of our shared resolve and our mutual respect.”

When you add to this license for governments to abuse their power should they deem in in their interest, Trump’s constant charge that a critical oppositional press is “THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE,” this is the result! Alas, shameless, souless, megalomaniacal charlatan that he is; Dirty Donald is unrepentant! In fact, he not only continues to cling to an absurd version of events obviously concocted to shield the Crown Prince from culpability in this treacherous crime, but it appears that the Trump administration may be that co-author of this absurd charade.
Their version, which is as believable as the murder was committed by women from Venus, is clearly designed to provide plausible deniability to the Saudi Crown Prince. Despite the CIA’s conclusion that the order to murder Jamal Khashoggi came straight from the top, the Saudi’s insist the prince was clueless about the entire episode and the American President muses:”it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!…That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi.” Then Devious Donald quickly reaffirms the solidity of the US-Saudi alliance:

“After the United States, Saudi Arabia is the largest oil producing nation in the world. They have worked closely with us and have been very responsive to my requests to keeping oil prices at reasonable levels…As President of the United States I intend to ensure that, in a very dangerous world, America is pursuing its national interests… Very simply it is called America First!”

Partners in Crime!

A Faustian Bargain

Fred Ryan, Publisher and Executive Editor of the Washington Post, responded in a November 21 Editorial in which he wrote:

“A clear and dangerous message has been sent to tyrants around the world: Flash enough money in front of the president of the United States, and you can literally get away with murder…Failing to demand accountability for these crimes does not make the United States more secure. Stable, peaceful societies, governed by leaders who respect the rights of their people, need journalists who can expose wrongdoing and hold the powerful to account. It is no mere coincidence that many of the worst abusers of press freedom are also some of the world’s most dangerous actors. The CIA has thoroughly investigated Khashoggi’s murder and concluded with high confidence that it was directed by the crown prince. If there is reason to ignore the CIA’s findings, the president should immediately make that evidence public.”

There is an urgent lesson for American journalists in all this, because the way Trump is whipping the highly armed, half baked Republican base into a frenzy against Democrats; the “liberal leftist” and their partners in the “fake news” media, ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN! In fact, just recently Dirty Donald was speaking in Montana, whipping a Republican crowd into a frenzy by singing the praises of a congressman that attacked a reporter for the London Guardian. And this was after a Trump fanatic mailed bombs to his critics in Congress, the press and private citizens.

Who knows what will happen if the Democratic controlled House of Representatives – the legislative branch that best expresses the will of the people – initiates impeachment proceedings against Trump and he whips his base into a state of paranoid hysteria by denouncing it as a conspiracy to bring down his presidency by the lying Press, the Democrats, and the “Deep State” intelligence forces.

It is abundantly clear that the greatest danger to the free press and the personal safety of reporters in America, and around the world, is Donald Trump! If Journalists are assaulted here on American soil by right-wing fanatics it would come as no surprise to me.

***********************

Listen to Kashoggi Discuss the problems of Saudi Leadership

https://www.c-span.org/video/?437464-1/jamal-khashoggi-discusses-saudi-leadership-2017

Did the Soviet Union Fall Due to Afghan War?

Posted in On Donald Trump, On Foreign Affairs, On War and Peace in the Mid East! with tags on January 10, 2019 by playthell

Russian Troops Retreating from Afghanistan

Donald Trump Thinks So

Foreign policy wonks around the world were aghast at the version of the Afghan/Russian war spouted by Donald Trump as he answered reporters questions off the cuff during a cabinet meeting held the day after New Year’s break. Although the fact that Trump is a verbose ignoramus and compulsive liar with an unvarnished contempt for facts has now become conventional wisdom for those who know enough to recognize it, he somehow still manages to say things that astonish us. Given the fact that many Americans already believe that Devious Donald is a Russian puppet at the pinnacle of our government – some even call him “The Moscow Candidate” – it is astonishing that he could take the favorable positions he took regarding the motive and consequences of the 1979 Russian invasion of Afghanistan.

Jimmy Carter, who was President at the time, thought it was such an outrageous act he canceled American participation in the Moscow Olympics! The US government didn’t take this severe action even during the NAZI Olympics Games in Berlin. This was no easy decision for Carter because he understood that he was dashing the hopes and dreams of young American athletes who had labored a life time for a chance at their moment of Olympic glory. Yet Donald J. Trump enthusiastically endorsed the Russian invasion, declaring it the just and wise thing to do. Dumb Donnie opined:

“Russia used to be the Soviet Union, Afghanistan made it Russia, because they went bankrupt fighting in Afghanistan. Russia … the reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there. The problem is, it was a tough fight. And literally they went bankrupt; they went into being called Russia again, as opposed to the Soviet Union. You know, a lot of these places you’re reading about now are no longer part of Russia, because of Afghanistan.”

Aside from revealing a deep ignorance of his subject, part of his statement sounds like it was written by a Russian intelligence officer tasked with conducting a disinformation campaign designed to obfuscate rather than clarify events. This passage would be considered a big victory for whoever was managing the disinformation campaign: “the reason Russia was in Afghanistan was because terrorists were going into Russia. They were right to be there.”

Here we have the President of the United States justifying the Russian Invasion of Afghanistan, a major triumph for Russian propaganda. It is almost a verbatim recitation of the new resolution that the Russians have crafted justifying their invasion of Afghanistan.  It is these kind of things that has alarmed some Americans to the point that they are openly calling for the US military to arrest Trump for treason! As crazy and alarming as it is, you can find an abundance of these calls in the comments below You Tube news videos that address Trump’s relationship with Russia!

Yet, given the absurdity of Trump’s claim that the Russia invasion was a response to the “terrorist” threat, it does not require a dramatist’s imagination to envision Putin laughing out loud. For it is obvious that Trump has no clue how the US government’s response to the Russian invasion of Afghanistan led to the 9/11 attack, in response to which his Republican predecessor launched a disastrous war of choice in Iraq and invaded Afghanistan; falling into the quagmire the Russians had left. These wars continue as I write, albeit on a reduced scale, and are now America’s longest wars. And at a price of four trillion dollars they are also the most costly! Yet the “terrorists” we are fighting were created by the American Central Intelligence Agency, including Osama bin Laden, who organized and directed the devastating 9/11 attack!

What Putin, a former KGB intelligence officer, understands well is that it was the USA who equipped the Taliban with the modern weapons they later used wreak havoc on US forces a few years after the Russian retreat from Afghanistan. There is even a major movie about it featuring Tom Hanks, Charlie Wilson’s War, which details how the Texas Republican Congressman Charlie Wilson persuaded the US government to supply the Afghan Rebels with Stinger Missiles, a high tech shoulder held surface to air missile that can bring down a heavily armored attack helicopter. Although the claim that the introduction of this weapon was a game changer in the Russian/Afghan War is in dispute, there is no doubt they were deployed to great effect against American forces in the war against the Taliban after 9/11.

Why did the US do it, why did the American government go down a road that has cost this nation so much blood and treasure? It was a classic case of folly that should be a crime. In a Pulitzer Prize winning book, The March of Folly, historian Barbara Tuckman analyzes elites across time and place that pursued self-defeating policies, despite the fact that all the observable evidence suggested that it would lead to disaster. And she labeled this class of phenomenon “Folly!”

A careful examination of the facts, viewed in retrospect, leaves no doubt that the decision to arm and train the Afghan Jihadists who came from all over the Islamic world to answer the call to Jihad against the Russians, was a classic case of folly! They called themselves Mujaheddin, “Holy Warriors,” and the US government celebrated them as “heroes,” with little skepticism, and no public opposition from the American media. Instead the media were willing mouth pieces for the government’s point of view…which is what happens when objectivity is overwhelmed by the passions of patriotism.

Alas, US policymakers should have know better. After all, the experience of Iran offered compelling evidence of the dangers of intervening in the affairs of a Muslim nation and helping to overthrow a secular government that that the US disliked. In 1953 the CIA engineered a military coup that toppled Muhammad Mossedeh – the democratically elected Swiss educated liberal secular leader – because he wanted to nationalize Iran’s vast oil resources and demand a fair price from the US and British companies. This nefarious covert action set forces in motion that would radically change Iranian society.

In President Mossedeh’s place the Eisenhower Administration installed the arrogant, oppressive, autocrat Shah Reza Palevi, whose excesses led to the first Islamic Revolution in the modern world and put the Ayatollah’s in power.  And they declared America “The Great Satan!” All of our present troubles with Iran stemmed from this misbegotten decision to overthrow their secular elected government.

Having witnessed the myriad problems posed by a radical Islamic state, prudence dictated that we avoid empowering Muslim Fundamentalists elsewhere. It was easy to see as a white elephant in a crowd of pigs. So why did wise men rush in where fools feared to tread?

It is impossible to understand the folly of America’s decision to arm the Muslim fundamentalists in Afghanistan, unless we view it from the perspective of the Cold War – the term of art employed to describe the struggle for global dominance between the US and the Soviet Union short of direct military confrontation between these nuclear armed nations check mated by the MAD – Mutually Assured Destruction – doctrine. Aside from psychological warfare designed to win the hearts and minds of the hundreds of millions in emerging Third World Nations, the US supported “proxy wars” against pro-Russian forces all over the globe.

Based on this strategic view of the relationship of forces in the world, it made perfect sense for the US government to promote a militant Islamic Jihad in Afghanistan so long as they were willing to kill Russians! It was a short sighted view; the definition of Folly. Had US policymakers viewed the Afghan struggle from the Jihadists point of view they would have known their efforts would eventually backfire, because it is clear in the theology which guides their actions that the Jihadists found American beliefs as odious as Russia’s.

To the Muslim Jihadists who eventually overthrew the Marxist pro-Russian government of President Mohammad Najibullah in 1991, two years after the departure of Russian forces, both democratic Christian American Capitalism and totalitarian atheistic Russia communism are abominations; the work of barbaric apostates contemptuous of Sharia Law, Allah’s divine plan for man. Their alliance with the US in the Holy War against Russia was based on the old Muslim adage: “The enemy of my enemy is a friend.”

Hence, when the Saudi government called upon the US to oust Sadam Hussein from Kuwait, and offered to provide a base for American operations on Saudi soil, Osama bin Laden, a leader of the “Afghan -Arab” contingent that answered the call to Jihad in Afghanistan, pleaded with them not to station swine eating liquor drinking American barbarians on the sacred soil of Arabia where Mecca and Medina – the holiest cities in the Islamic world – are located. He begged the king to support his veterans from the Afghan war that had played a decisive role in their “victory” over a European super power.

The king chose to rely on American armed forces instead, and when US forces put boots on the ground in Arabia both the Royal Family and the US became targets of the Jihadists; resulting in the 9/11 attack on the US homeland. Planned and ordered by the former CIA apprentice in terrorist tactics Osama bin Laden, who had returned to Afghanistan to build Al Qaeda, the spectacular terrorist assault was carried out by 15 Saudi citizens and four from Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon. All counties that enjoyed good relations with the US. And, contrary to conventional wisdom on the subject, the Jihadists were not all from the poorer classes, some were quite well to do. Osama’s personal fortune was put at nearly 300 million dollars.

In retaliation George Bush ordered the invasion of Afghanistan, and was also talked into invading Iraq by the neo-con clique of warmongers from the Project For a New American Century that “Dirty Dick “ Chaney had installed in the Bush National Security establishment.* The overthrow of Sadam Hussein, a secular military strongman, who had prevented the rise of a militant Muslim movement in Iraq, opened the floodgates for a host of Jihadists to enter Iraqi territory.

This development was a major factor in creating the conditions for Al Qaeda to operate on Iraqi territory and gave rise to ISIS, a new militant Jihadist formation. All of these developments have their roots in the American intervention on behalf of the Mujaheddin in Afghanistan. That is the lesson that is not being discussed in the hail of rhetoric being banded about regarding Trump’s musings on the causes and consequences of the Russian- Afghan War.

Of course Trump’s claims about the central role of that war in the collapse of the mighty Soviet Union stray even further from reality, and thus offer no useful insights. The remembrances of Robert Gates and Morton Abramowitz are far more valuable in helping us understand what actually happened. Although Gates is primarily known as the Secretary of Defense during the Administration of George W. Bush, and was held over by President Obama, he was a CIA officer in 1979.

Hence Gates was present at the meeting when the CIA decided to arm and train the Mujahideen. Gates recalls that their objective was “sucking the Soviets into a Vietnamese quagmire.”  In other words, they hoped Afghanistan would become for Russia what Vietnam was for the USA, a historic blunder in which they would expend massive amounts of blood and treasure in a futile war.

However in an interview with the London Guardian Morton Abramowitz, who was the Director of the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence recalls: “In 1985, there was a real concern that the Mujahideen were losing, that they were sort of being diminished, falling apart. Losses were high and their impact on the soviets was not great.”

The first hand testimony of these principle players in the Afghan drama Trumps the fallacious fables of dumb devious Donald.
The reasons for the fall of the Russian Communist Party are complex- which is really what we are talking about- are far beyond the scope of this essay. Yet I feel compelled to address the issue since Trump was so emphatic in his views. The best way to sum up the problem that led to the collapse of the Communist experiment in Russia is to reiterate the views of the official Ideologist to soviet leader Andropov, who confessed in a PBS interview: “When reality contradicted our ideology, we dismissed reality.”

That’s why they were able to ignore flaws in the system that were baked in at the beginning. Things like the lack of economic incentives for excellence; the growing evidence that government bureaucrats cannot manage a large industrial economy efficiently, and the “dictatorship of the proletariat” had degenerated into the Dictatorship” of the Communist Party.

This critical flaw in the leadership model was noted by the seasoned revolutionary anarchist Emma Goldman, a Russian born naturalized American citizen who returned to Russia in January 1920, after the triumph of the communist led 1917 revolution that overthrew the Romanovs. A brilliant and careful student of revolutions, Emma was a sympathizer with the Russian revolution;  yet she would later write searing a book – “My Disillusionment  In Russia” –  richly detailing her disappointment at what she found:

“The Russian workers, like the peasants, also employed direct action.  They possessed themselves of the factories, organized their own shop committees, and were virtually in control of the economic life of Russia.  But soon they were stripped of their power and placed under the industrial yoke of the Bolshevik regime…Just because I am a revolutionist I refuse to side with the master class, which in Russia is called the Communist party.”

Yet upon reflection it is clear that the situation could not have been otherwise.  For despite the ideal of a “dictatorship of the proletariat,” the true proletariat does not possess the education or the leisure that’s required to read and comprehend the complex texts of Karl Marx; hence the great Russian “proletarian” revolution was led by de-classe intellectuals like Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin.

Alas the “workers paradise” became something of a nightmare when the need for internal peace and economic stability became the paramount objectives of the Communist Party, who considered any independent workers organizations to be counter-revolutionaries because the party represented the interests of revolutionary workers. And when attempts to criticize these arrangements resulted in harassment, prison and even death, the seeds of the system’s eventual destruction were sown…it was just a matter of time. When compared to these unresolved issues Afghanistan was a sideshow.

Dumb Donald Holding Forth on the Afghan War

****************

Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
1/10/2019

Mr. Cameleon and the Arabs

Posted in On Donald Trump, On Foreign Affairs, On War and Peace in the Mid East!, Trump and the Arabs with tags , on May 28, 2017 by playthell

Chillin with the King

Whatever Happened to Radical Islamic Terrorism?

Listening to the accolades heaped upon Donald Trump’s attempt at Middle-East diplomacy, I am reminded of the apocryphal tale of the talking dog.  It didn’t matter what the dog was saying; the fact that the dog was talking at all was cause for praises.  This story could serve as a metaphor or allegory for the low standard set for Trump’s performance as president.  So long as he does not utter some incoherent nonsense, make an outrageous claim, or tell a blatant lie, his public performances are declared a success and thoughtful Americas can comfortably exhale.

Yet even when the bar is set that low, a candid assessment of the President’s performance results reveals a mediocre performance at best and   a soulless, transparent charade at worse; with the President reading speeches prepared for him by others and trying to look deep.  What I saw on the podium was a clueless con-man trying to sell an impossible dream of peace and mutual friendship while choosing sides in the contentious disputes that have shaped the political realities of the contemporary Middle-East – a region rife with wars and rumors of war based on ancient disputes.

Trump’s speech was preceded by comments from King Salman, the Saudi Sovereign, which put forth their vision of the contemporary situation in the region, and appended a wish list for the US President to ponder.  The 50 heads of Muslim nations which supplied the raison d’etre for Trump’s visit, sat stiff as stuffed owls as the respectfully listened to the King while anxiously waiting to hear what Mighty Whitey – leader of the richest and most powerful military nation on earth – had to offer to their collective defense.  For the sad truth is that all of them have a Fatwa – a religious death warrant – issued by Caliph Ibrahim, the Supreme Ruler of the ISIS Caliphate.  Hence they were all dead men living on borrowed time, because their assassins will be seen as instruments of the will of Allah by the Jihadists who view them as apostates, for which the penalty is death!

Under Caliph Ibrahin….the Spawn of Saudi Whabbism

This is the Fate of Apostates!

King Salman, the absolute ruler of Saudi Arabia, presented a fawning speech that often sounded like panegyric to Trump and cast America in the role of Savior of the Saudi’s – indeed the entire Sunni Muslim world – from their enemies, whether Sunni Jihadists or the Persian Shiites of Iran.

Our meeting with His Excellency President of the United States of America, a country enjoying strong bonds of friendship and relationship with many of our countries, does reflect His Excellency’s keenness on enhancing cooperation and coordinating stances in various fields… our 55 Arab and Islamic countries attending the summit today with a population exceeding 1.5 billion, are an important partner in fighting the forces of extremism and terrorism and achieving world peace, security and stability. His Excellency holds many hopes and aspirations for cooperation with the Arab and Muslim worldAs we extend our thanks to and appreciation of His Excellency for his response to attend and participate in this summit, we reaffirm our happiness and gratitude for His Excellency’s choice of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and this summit as His Excellency’s first trip and external participation since assuming office.

As the Saudi King went on to address the issue of Islamic extremism and the scourge of terrorism, which was the central issue of the summit conference, his remarks took on a surreal quality that bore little resemblance to the facts. He declared: “We have to stand united to fight the forces of evil and extremism whatever their source, in compliance with the orders of our true Islamic religion. Islam was and will remain the religion of mercy, tolerance and coexistence..” 

To listen to the mutterings of the King, one would never suspect that Whabbism, the most extreme interpretation of Islam, was born in Saudi Arabia and spread throughout the Islamic world through the financing of Mosques and Islamic education by the Saudi government.  Hence it is no accident that Osama bin Laden, the founder of Al Qaeda, and the majority of the terrorists who launched the devastating 9/11 attack on the US were Saudi Citizens.  Yet, according to the Saudi Monarch: “The Iranian regime spearheads the global terrorism since Khomeini revolution until today. Since 300 years ago, we, in this country, did not witness terrorism or extremism until Khomeini revolution emerged in 1979.”

The fact is that the use of terrorism and mass murder as a means of spreading Islam goes back to the time of the Prophet.  The Jihad, or “holy war,” was the dominant means by which Islam was spread in the middle ages.  And the modern Jihad was hatched in Egypt during the mid-20th century through the theology of the Muslim Brotherhood and was relocated in Saudi Arabia after the Egyptian nationalist leader and military strongman Abdel Gamal Nasser hung the principal theologian of the movement Sayeed Guthb in 1966, and his brother Muhammad Guthb fled to Saudi Arabia, where he was provided the means to establish an Islamic Studies department in King Faisal University.  One of his most enthusiastic students was Osama Bin Ladan!

Hence the Saudi King’s diatribe is a lie, what he accuses Iran of is true Saudi Arabia.  There have been no terrorist attacks sponsored by Iran against the US, or any other Western country.  The Islamist terror attacks on France, Belgium, Amsterdam, and Britain, which has just experience a devastating attack by a terrorist affiliated with ISIS, were all carried out by Sunnis whose radical theology grows out of the fanatical fundamentalism propagated by the Saudis.  King Salman’s speech was self-serving propaganda, disinformation, blatant lies designed to stroke the misguided and none too bright American President, who is clueless on these questions and does not appear eager to learn because it confirms his hostile view of Iran. It is a view of Iran that has gained wide currency among Americans despite the fact that all the terrorist groups that have launched attacks in western nations are Sunnis.

Trumps long and rambling speech that followed the Kings Tirade – a strange mixture of hyperbole, fantasy, historical amnesia, denial of present realities and outright lies – Trump extended the theme of Iran as the focus of evil and source of terrorism in the Middle-East.

Starving terrorists of their territory, their funding, and the false allure of their craven ideology, will be the basis for defeating them.  But no discussion of stamping out this threat would be complete without mentioning the government that gives terrorists all three—safe harbor, financial backing, and the social standing needed for recruitment. It is a regime that is responsible for so much instability in the region. I am speaking of course of Iran.

From Lebanon to Iraq to Yemen, Iran funds, arms, and trains terrorists, militias, and other extremist groups that spread destruction and chaos across the region. For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror. It is a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room”.

This Condemnation of Iran, which has just held a democratic election to choose its leader, was preceded by abundant praise for the Kleptocratic Islamic Fascist Saudi Regime which is chosen by a medieval process of monarchal sucession:

“I want to thank King Salman for his extraordinary words, and the magnificent Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for hosting today’s summit. I am honored to be received by such gracious hosts. I have always heard about the splendor of your country and the kindness of your citizens, but words do not do justice to the grandeur of this remarkable place and the incredible hospitality you have shown us from the moment we arrived.

You also hosted me in the treasured home of King Abdulaziz, the founder of the Kingdom who united your great people. Working alongside another beloved leader — American President Franklin Roosevelt — King Abdulaziz began the enduring partnership between our two countries. King Salman: your father would be so proud to see that you are continuing his legacy — and just as he opened the first chapter in our partnership, today we begin a new chapter that will bring lasting benefits to our citizens.”

Nowhere in Trump’s speech does he mention the fact that all protest against the Saudi government is banned by law, and carries severe penalties ranging from mutilations to death!  The Saudi’s claim that this prohibition of dissent, which is a complete denial of democratic expression, is based on Sharia Law.  Hence the Saudi government cite chapter 4, verse 83 of the Koran to legitimize their police state tactics.  The text reads “And when it comes to them a concern for security or fear they divulge it, but if they had referred [their concern] to the Apostle and to those in a position of authority among them, those who are able to draw the right conclusion would have known [what to do]; and had it not been for the grace and mercy of God upon you, you would have followed Satan, except for a few” 

This passage was cited in a declaration of March 10, 2011 – three months after the commencement of the “Arab Spring” uprisings that swept several Arab tyrants from power – issued by the Council of Senior Religious Scholars, giving religious sanction to the Saudi government to suppress all “deviant and partisan connections and anything that leads to disunity and fragmentation of the nation.”  Which in effect means all protest against government policy.  Since unlike Catholicism or the Anglican Church there is no Pope or Arch Bishop, the “Senior Scholars” are the final arbiters of what Koranic text says. Just as the US Constitution means whatever the majority of the nine sitting Justices at the time says it means.

This is why the Saudi’s rejoiced at Trump’s statement:

I stand before you as a representative of the American People, to deliver a message of friendship and hope. That is why I chose to make my first foreign visit a trip to the heart of the Muslim world, to the nation that serves as custodian of the two holiest sites in the Islamic Faith. In my inaugural address to the American People, I pledged to strengthen America’s oldest friendships, and to build new partnerships in pursuit of peace. I also promised that America will not seek to impose our way of life on others, but to outstretch our hands in the spirit of cooperation and trust….And so this historic and unprecedented gathering of leaders—unique in the history of nations—is a symbol to the world of our shared resolve and our mutual respect.”

In other words, you can do whatever you want to your citizens and not to worry about American interference. Before Trump could even return to American soil, the results of this new-found license from the “Insane Clown President,” as crack US journalist Matt Taibbi titled his recent book about Trump, the Sunni tyrant king Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifah of Bahrain, unleashed a violent attack on some Shiite demonstrators who were peacefully protesting the arrest of Imam Sheikh Isa Qassim, the spiritual leader of the Shiite majority for performing religious duties.  Thus far there are reports that several protestors were injured in the attack and at least two have died!  The Iranian government has issue a statement blaming Trump for the murders.  That Trump envisions this as the path to peace in the Middle-East is another sign of his cluelessness; the Editor of Foreign Policy magazine calls Trump’s shameless embrace of these autocrats “un-American.”

Hence it is easy to see why these Arab tyrants prefer Trump to President Obama, who persistently criticized their record on human rights and insisted that the extension of democratic rights to their citizens was essential to peace and prosperity in the region.  Whereas Obama emphasized the Golden Rule, Trump stressed the rule of gold:

“Now, there is even more blessed news I am pleased to share with you. My meetings with King Salman, the Crown Prince, and the Deputy Crown Prince, have been filled with great warmth, good will, and tremendous cooperation. Yesterday, we signed historic agreements with the Kingdom that will invest almost $400 billion in our two countries and create many thousands of jobs in America and Saudi Arabia.”

Upon hearing of the US-Saudi deal, Iran’s Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, sneeringly tweeted “Iran—fresh from real elections—attacked by @POTUS in that bastion of democracy & moderation. Foreign Policy or simply milking KSA of $480B?”

Trump also stressed a willingness to supply Saudi Arabia, and by implication the other tyrants in the room, with state of the art American weaponry:

This landmark agreement includes the announcement of a $110 billion Saudi-funded defense purchase — and we will be sure to help our Saudi friends to get a good deal from our great American defense companies. This agreement will help the Saudi military to take a greater role in security operations. We have also started discussions with many of the countries present today on strengthening partnerships, and forming new ones, to advance security and stability across the Middle East and beyond.  Later today, we will make history again with the opening of a new Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology — located right here, in this central part of the Islamic World. This groundbreaking new center represents a clear declaration that Muslim-majority countries must take the lead in combating radicalization, and I want to express our gratitude to King Salman for this strong demonstration of leadership.”

There was much frippery about the will of God in Trump’s speech, which I am certain the conferees took with a grain of salt from this ungodly man. “Will we be indifferent in the presence of evil? Will we protect our citizens from its violent ideology? Will we let its venom spread through our societies? Will we let it destroy the most holy sites on earth?”  And judging from their blasé body language, Trump’s recounting of Islam’s glorious past in grand gluttonous phrases fared no better:

?The Middle East is rich with natural beauty, vibrant cultures, and massive amounts of historic treasures…Saudi Arabia is home to the holiest sites in one of the world’s great faiths. Each year millions of Muslims come from around the world to Saudi Arabia to take part in the Hajj. In addition to ancient wonders, this country is also home to modern ones—including soaring achievements in architecture.  Egypt was a thriving center of learning and achievement thousands of years before other parts of the world. The wonders of Giza, Luxor and Alexandria are proud monuments to that ancient heritage.  All over the world, people dream of walking through the ruins of Petra in Jordan. Iraq was the cradle of civilization and is a land of natural beauty. And the United Arab Emirates has reached incredible heights with glass and steel, and turned earth and water into spectacular works of art.”

In a room full of murderous Sunni tyrants with a death warrant on their heads, Trump could have quit after he promised American might would aid them in their fight against Shitte Iran; supply American arms; and join them in the fight against their fellow Sunni Jihadist. And most important is what Trump didn’t say.

No mention of the vicious oppression of women and gay people.  Not a hint that the Jihadist movement is fueled by a lack of democracy and the squandering of their countries wealth by avaricious rulers whose actions are unchecked by a free press. Independent secular courts, or popular dissent.  And not one reference to the phrase “Radical Islam,” for which Barack Obama was severely criticized by Trump and his Republican comrades!  It was the most dramatic about face I have yet witnessed in an American President on foreign soil.  Hence where many in the US press are waxing eloquent about the success of Trump’s parley with the Arabs, I am reminded of the old radio detective “Mr. Chameleon.”  If I had to characterize the gathering I’d sum it up as a meeting between the Joker and the thieves.

Dead Men Standing!
Trump Closing Ranks with the Sunni Tyrants

Anyone who wishes to take the time to read my essays on the Invasion of Iraq – see “The Prophetic Commentary on Iraq,” The Arab Spring, “Sleeping in the Same Bed Dreaming Different Dreams, or the 12 essays on the Occupy Wall Street Movement, especially “Will Wall Street Rebels End up Like Jack the Bear” – will recognize that they now read like PROPHECY!  I point this out not to merely boast about my prescient powers, but to offer a good reason why you should take the prediction I am offering now seriously.

I am certain that when future historian examines the results of the policies Trump announced on this trip, they will conclude that its main affect was to help solidify and grow the Jihadist movement.  I say this because – as Professoe Luther P. Gerlach pointed out in his seminal study of mass movements “People,Power, Change” – the most powerful stimulus to a mass transformative movement for change is a real and clearly identifiable enemy who opposes their goals.  Hence I predict that the open embrace of Trump – whom many on the “Arab Street” view as the great Satan – by the tyrannical Arab regimes, will prove to be a colossal blunder that could exceed that of the Bush invasion of Iraq!

 *******************

Witness Trump’s Speech at the Saudi Summit
https://youtu.be/BoYDP2cWH-A
Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
May 28, 2017
 

 

 

 

Arabian Knights

Posted in Barack's Second Inaugaration, On Donald Trump, On Foreign Affairs, On War and Peace in the Mid East!, Trump and the Arabs with tags , on May 21, 2017 by playthell

Donnie Dancing with the Sheiks

 Building Mid-East Policy on Sinking Desert Sands

The Donald’s moves in the Saudi Sword dance were as awkward and out of step as his evolving Middle East policy. Which is a lot like building your castle on sinking sands.  If the paramount objective of US policy in the region is to promote peace, Trump could not have made a worse beginning.  Alas, the House of Saud, whose 3000 princes control everything and own most of the vast wealth created from oil revenues is one of the world’s most corrupt, anti-democratic regimes.  And unless you happen to believe that “Allah” bequeathed his “gift” of oil to the Royal Family the Saudi regime is also a kleptocracy.

It is a regime with a medieval conception of the relation of the people to the monarchy and the official religion, and it is enforced with the iron fist of the police state – all things that Englishmen in America overthrew in a war with their mother country Great Britain in the 18th century that created the United States!   And while Donald Trump genuflects before the Arabian King, his regime is widely despised by many of the King’s subjects, as well as militant young Muslims throughout the Middle East.  I believe that this Newfound relationship with the House of Saud will prove more costly to the US than it is worth.

For instance, Trump was practically giddy about signing a deal with the corrupt Saudi regime for 110 billion dollars and he says the Saudis have pledged to spend another 300 billion dollars in the US.  And while the US quietly sold even more weapons to the Saudi’s under the eight years of the Obama Administration – due to the long standing US-Saudi alliance – Trump’s slavish genflection before the King of a regime that is hated by both the secular progressive intellectuals and the Islamic Jihadist among the Sunnis, while expressing hostile intent toward Iran, the giant Shiite nation who share a border with the Saudis, is a prescription for armed conflict throughout the mid-east region… and we have yet to see what he will promise the Israelis.

Donnie Genuflecting Before the Tyranical Saudi King

Selling American Integrity for Petro dollars

After signing the arms deal Trump turned to the camera and announced that it would create “JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!   However that is problematic since the Saudi’s want many of these Americans weapons to be manufactured in Arabia. Yet it is a good bet that showering arms on the reactionary Saudi’s with no restrictions on their use could ignite a wider war than we have yet seen in the Middle-East.  And it will surely involve direct engagement of US forces in a war that could pit the US against Iran and all the anti-Saudi forces in the Sunni world, including anti-royalists’ insurgents within Saudi Arabia!   In this scenario, the 400 billion dollars that the Saudi’s have pledged to spend in the US will prove to be chump change when we subject it to a cost/benefit analysis.

We need only consider the fact that the war against Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, plus the war of choice in Iraq, is projected to cost a total of four trillion dollars by Dr. Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Noble Prize winning economist at Columbia University.  To put this enormous sum in perspective, it is twice the amount of money that the American Society of Civil Engineers estimated it would have cost to completely rebuild the entire infrastructure of the US: roads, bridges, power grid, create a high-speed train system, etc.  And it is four times the paltry trillion dollars that Trump has request for infrastructure development. Trump has asked for.  Alas, the war that could result from the US arming the backward House of Saud with advanced US weaponry will make the conflict spawned by the invasion of Iraq look like a dress rehearsal for the real thing.

On the eve of America’s invasion of Iraq I wrote a 3,000 word critical essay titled “The Iraq Attack: Bushes March of Folly,” warning against the aggressive action and pointing out that it was based on a bogus analysis of the role Iraq supposedly played in the 9/11 attack on US soil.  That essay now reads like prophecy and can be read on this site under the title: “The Prophetic Commentary on Iraq” at https://commentariesonthetimes.me/2009/08/07/the-prophetic-commentary-on-iraq/.

My careful analysis of the real reason for the Iraq invasion, How the Iraq War Was spawned in a Think Tank,” can also be read on this site at https://commentariesonthetimes.me/2011/05/06/the-iraq-war-was-spawned-in-a-think-tank/.  Furthermore, my essays on the Arab Spring, which were written in real time as events unfolded, are also posted on this site under different titles, are full of accurate predictions.  Hence, I have a solid and easily verifiable record of analysis and prediction of developing conflicts in the Middle East.

I have cited my record of successful prediction in the turbulent Mid-East not to brag, but to point out why you should pay attention to what I am saying on the present issue.  And my paramount point here is to say that the direction American foreign policy is taking under our clueless President, Donald Trump, should be questioned not applauded, and anxiety not jubilation is the proper response.  After all, despite the attempt at an instant makeover, Trump is an ignorant buffoon with no independent understanding of the critical issues in the Middle-East.  In truth, he is an embarrassing airhead and pugnacious anti-muslim bigot who just a few weeks ago was advocating killing the families of terrorists – which would have included several prominent Saudi families such as the Bin Ladins, who are very close to the Royal Families.

So what is the reason why Trump is being embraced by the House of Saud?  Well, Trump is interested in making big arms deals with the Saudi’s without any moral restraints on how or where they are deployed, and he is foolishness enough to wade into an 1800 year old conflict between the Sunnis and Shiites based on an obscure theological dispute. President Barack Obama, a brilliant and highly moral man with an in-depth understanding of the complex problems of the Middle-East, who had promised those of us who voted for him to withdraw American forces from the region, did impose moral constraints on US dealings with the Saudi’s and pursued a more balanced policy in the region to the extent that vital American interests would allow.

The difference between President Obama’s knowledge of the critical contemporary issues and their historical evolution, and Trump’s ignorance of them, explains why Trump’s first trip to the Middle East was to Saudi Arabia and President Obama went to Egypt. For a better understanding of this see: “Of All the Places in the Muslim World, Why Egypt” at https://commentariesonthetimes.me/2009/09/17/of-all-the-places-in-the-muslim-world/. Just as Bush’s failure to understand the issues around the historical reasons why Osama bin Ladin and Saddam Hussein could not possibly be allies, caused him to buy a rationale for the disastrous invasion of Iraq.  And Trump’s ignorance of the history and present conflicts in the Middle East threatens to lead us into an even wider war into the region.

A gaggle of TV talking heads are making much of how well Trump and the Saudi Royals are hitting it off.  But there is no mystery here, it can be summed up in the old addage: “Birds of a feather flock together.”  The House of Trump and the House of Saud have a lot in common.  Both revere unchecked power and a disdain for a free press, independnt courts, and protest from the people.

Both Trump and the Saudi Royals worship personal wealth, dwell in vulgar opulence without a care for the impoverished multitudes beyond self-serving lip service, and both view women as basically the property of men.  And both want to keep America on a petroleum based economy.  In view of these realities, it is wise to view “The Donald’s” diplomacy with a jaundiced eye: skepticism not jubliation should guide our conclusions.

******************

The Vulgar Opulence of The House of Saud

 

******************

*******************

How the King’s Subjects Live

*****************

******************

The House of Trump

***************

******************

******************

Trump’s Voters

She believes Donald Trump is her Savior

But other Poor Folks know better!

Detroit: The Decaying Post Industrial City

Urban Warriors: The Boggs Institute:

*************

Watch Donnie Do the Sword Dance with Saudi Shieks
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f35TUFmCtYY
 Watch Trump Sing the 110 Billion Arms Deal
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y0Vu6djvsPk
Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
May 21, 2017

Was Sarin Gas Used in Syrian Attack?

Posted in Guest Commentators, On Foreign Affairs, On War and Peace in the Mid East! with tags , , on April 18, 2017 by playthell
  At the Scene of reported Sarin Gas Attack
 A Brief Clinical and Epidemiologic Comparison with the Japan Attacks

The June 27, 1994 sarin terrorist attacks in Matsumoto, Japan, and on March 20, 1995, in the Tokyo subway, provide the most through epidemiologic and pathologic case reports currently available for the evaluation of mass poisonings with this extremely toxic gas. The facts regarding the Japanese attacks are as follows.

  • In Matsumoto members of the Aum Shinrikyo group released sarin in a residential area. It was a) an attempt to murder magistrates deliberating a real estate dispute; and b) an assessment of the poison’s efficiency for mass murder. The logistics of the crime included a refurbished refrigerator truck containing a heater for vaporization of twelve liters of liquid sarin, and powerful fans to diffuse a thick cloud of gas near the residencies of the involved judges. The sarin was 70 percent pure.
  • Over six hundred residents and rescuers were poisoned, fifty-eight were hospitalized, and seven were killed. The calculated mortality-morbidity ratio was approximately 1.16 percent (7/600). (“Sarin Poisoning in Matsumoto, Japan, The Lancet 7/29/1995)
  • On March 20, 1995, during the peak of morning rush hour a second sarin attack disrupted several Tokyo subway lines. This attack was focused on the stations close to the Tokyo National Police Agency and other central government centers. Aum Shinrikyo members punctured plastic bags of liquid sarin in subway cars jammed with workers headed to government offices. The liquid sarin was 30 percent pure.
  • More than six thousand passengers and rescue workers were injured—eight hundred required hospital treatment or evaluation and twelve died. The mortality/morbidity ratio was 0.18 percent. (Yanagisawa, N. “Sarin Experiences in Japan,” Journal of Neurologic Science.
Sarin Victims in Tokyo Subway

****************

II – On April 4th, helicopters or airplanes of the Syrian Arab Army dropped airborne ordnance over the village of Khan Sheikhun, Idlib Provence, Syria. The village was under the supervision of several groups currently in armed opposition to the government of President Bashar Al-Assad. Mr. Assad’s government has secured the support of the Russian armed forces, the Lebanese Hezbullah, and Iranian forces under the command of the Iranian revolutionary guard.

  • Casualty reports were extremely variable. Injury numbers ranged from three hundred to more than five hundred, and reported deaths ranged from early accounts of fifty-eight to eighty-seven. Later sources reported fatalities in excess of one hundred, with children’s deaths ranging from ten to twenty-seven. Many of the major world journals, such as the New York Times have reported mortalities in the ranges above.
  • Thus the reported mortality-morbidity would range from approx 72/500 to 100/300. This gives a range of 14.4 percent and 33 percent. Expressed in percentages, this represents an increase between 1,241 percent and 16,666 percent. The purity was not reported. However, earlier studies of weaponized sarin, in this region, particularly in the Iran-Iraqi War, had a purity in the 30-60 percent range.

Discussion:

The reported Iblid mortality-morbidity ratios are incompatible with sarin use as the etiological agent in the attacks of April 4, 2017 Khan Sheikhoun, Iblid Provence, Syria.

This could be due to several reasons:

  1. Another unidentified chemical agent was used.

2- Differing mortality-morbidity due to the differing mechanisms of gas dissemination. However, the two Japanese poisonings had, markedly, more intensive, prolonged exposures, which should have produced higher mortality-morbidity rates.

3-The differing availability of treatment and evacuation? While the Japanese civil defense was better equipped overall, the organizations involved in Syrian rescue operations had basic response preparations for the gas attacks and were able to evacuate injured patients to better-equipped Turkish medical facilities.

4- The casualty count was exaggerated.

5- The 1994-95 Japanese studies were unreliable.

 

Conclusion:

Currently no credible evidence exists confirming sarin as the etiologic agent responsible. Hence the claim that sarin was the etiologic agent is highly unlikely.

Sources:

“At Least 58 Killed in Alleged Chemical Weapons Attack in Syria.” April 4, 2017.www.independent.co.uk, accessed April 4, 2017

Khaddar, Kareem, Schams Elwazer, et al. “Suspected Gas Attack in Syria Reportedly Kills Dozens.” CNN. April 7, 2017.

“Worst Chemical Attack in Years in Syria; U. S. Blames Assad.” April 4, 2017. New York Times.

Seto, Yasuo. “The Sarin Gas Attack in Japan and the Related Forensic Investigation.”www.opcw.org, accessed April 11, 2017.

“Scores Reported Killed in Gas Attack on Syrian Rebel Area.” April 4, 2017. Reuters.

Yanagisawa, N. “Sarin Experiences in Japan: Acute Toxicity and Long-term Effects.” Journal of Neurologic Science. November 1, 2006.

——. “Sarin Poisoning in Matsumoto, Japan” The Lancet, July 29, 1995.

********************

By: Dr. Joseph Harris, MD
April, 2017
Harlem, New York
Note: Dr. Harris has worked as a physician in Rawanda and other war zones. he was participant at Doctor’s Without Borders when the were awarded  the Nobel Peace Prize.

 

April Fools?

Posted in On Donald Trump, On Foreign Affairs, On War and Peace in the Mid East!, Uncategorized with tags , on April 7, 2017 by playthell

Dumb and Dumber

Trump Strikes Syria!

“All Motion is Not Progress” observed Mao Tse Tung, a revolutionary philosopher and leader of the great Chinese Revolution.  Americans who are applauding the strike on Syria with 59 Cruise missiles, at a cost of nearly 30 million dollars for the missiles alone, should take a pause and consider the implications of this action by our government.  The paramount questions that begs an answer is: what is the strategic objective of US policy in Syria, and what role does this strike play in achieving that goal?

Based upon the public pronouncements of Donald Trump, who ordered the strike, and his surrogates the answers to these questions are elusive.  This is because we have a President for whom the complexities of international relations are at best a mystery, as is the art and science of governing in general.  Hence for years he has been an ardent opponent of the US taking any action against the Assad government.  The comments of this tweeting twit on Twitter are prolific on this question.

Yet when a chemical weapon was dropped on a group of Syrian civilians, some reports claim in was the deadly Sarin gas, Trump was quick to blame it on President Obama’s weakness in failing to act in 2013, when somebody launched a gas attack in Syria. The criticism of President Obama’s failure to take military action is based on the fact that he had drawn a “Red Line” in the sand that would prompt an American military response if Assad crossed it.

However, President Obama’s reluctance to act militarily in this case was based on several factors: Uncertainty as to who employed the gas; the fact that he had pledged to voters that he would end America’s protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and keep us out of new wars in the Middle-East, and failure of the US Congress to authorize a military attack on Syria which he requested.  Many people who voted for Obama did so based upon his promise of pursuing peace, I know I did.

Hence in my view, President Obama’s management of the Syrian situation displayed Solomonic wisdom. Furthermore, I would argue that this was characteristic of his approach to foreign policy in a turbulent time that witnessed the revolutionary outburst of mass movements collectively called the “Arab Spring,” the conflict in the Ukraine which could have thrown us into a military conflict with a nuclear armed Russia, and the rise of the militant Islamic Caliphate called ISIS, which arose from the ashes of the misbegotten US attack on Iraq.  How fortunate we would be if only Trump were only half as wise.

All objective observers of US foreign policy during the Obama administration agree that his actions were well thought out and based on a strategic vision of international relations; he sought to build effective alliances with concerned parties in troubled areas of the world, and acted deliberately not impulsively.   None of this is true of Donald Trump.  He has no strategic vision because he does not appear to have ever thought deeply about anything beyond his next real estate or branding deal.  His abdominal ignorance of the problems that he must now address is exemplified by his recent observation “Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated,” and his sudden discovery that there are atrocities being committed against children in Syria.

Trump’s ignorance and indifference to the enormity and complexity of the Syrian conflict was exemplified in the policy statement by his Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson: “The fate of President Assad will be determined by the Syrian people.”  To begin with, this was a repudiation of the Obama doctrine that the pre-condition for a permanent settlement which could bring peace to Syria was the removal of Assad from office. Tillerson’s announcement was no fluke; it was a restatement of a long-held belief of his boss, whose views on the matter are widely documented in the public record.

Hence Trump’s attempt to blame President Obama for the recent gas attack is the acme of hypocrisy! It is the pronouncement of a shameless charlatan and pathological liar. At the time, while others condemned Obama for his restraint in Syria, “The Donald” praised it!   His attempt to cast blame on Obama now is a transparent attempt to shift the blame from his ill-conceived policy of support for Assad expressed by Tillerson: Which is the real cause of the chemical attack. Since both Trump and Tillerson are novices at politics and foreign affairs, they failed to recognize that their statement was viewed by Assad as a green light to do whatever he wanted!

Viewed from this perspective, Trump’s attack on Syria must be seen as a smoke screen designed to deflect his responsibility for the horrendous gas attack on Syrian civilians; which the whole world viewed with stunned horror.  Hence, like the clueless scatter brain that he is, Trump acted on impulse and attacked Syria.  This is not part of any strategic plan because he has none.  This is verified by the fact that just a few days ago he had no problem with Assad’s leadership – as Tillerson’s policy statement nad Trump’s long record of support for the Syrian butcher will testify.

All observable evidence suggest that Trump gave no more thought to this assault on a sovereign country – with no attempt to get the support of the United Nations, the Arab League, the US Congress, or any of the regional powers – than his pre-dawn Twitter attacks.  It is an erratic, irrational, temper tantrum with no thought about its consequences.  And as the dawn of a new day approaches – Alas, I am writing this in the wee hours because the gravitas of the questions raised by this latest American military assault invades my dreams and destroys any attempt to sleep – we can only wonder what new dramas it will bring.

Just as when George W. Bush invaded Iraq with the spectacular bombing spree labeled “Shock and Awe,” millions of Americans are applauding this attack on Syria by American military forces.  I titled my essay on Bush’s attack “March Madness,” and I warned of its unintended consequences;which verily came to pass pretty much as I predicted.  I am titling this essay “April Fools?”  The title reflects my contention that this strike is not well thought out and the unintended consequences could prove disastrous.

Aside from the fact that we might have injured or killed some Russian military personnel, which would throw us into a crisis with a nuclear armed Russia that can reduce every city in the United States to a pile of radio-active rubble in a half hour from now, this attack on Syria is as illegal under international law as was the invasion of Iraq.  Yet after all is said and done, the most alarming thing about this attack is the real possibility that Trump launched it to improve his popularity in the opinion polls, where his approval rating is at a historic low.

As cynical as this sounds, when we consider the fact that Trump closed America’s doors to the children of war torn Syria seeking refuge in America, despite pictures every bit as horrible as those from the gassing, a thoughtful person cannot help but view his present concern for their welfare with a jaundiced eye, a cynical attempt to benefit from their tragedy.  As depraved as this seems, it is typical behavior for a “con man” with “no moral center;” which is how Donald J. Trump was routinely described by his fellow Republicans…..before he won the election, moved into the Oval Office, and promised to make all their right-wing dreams come true.

One of the most troubling questions raised by this attack is, if Trump can so quickly turn on a Head of State whom he has supported for years, what effect will this have on other nations at whom Trump has directed a steady stream of threats and invective such as North Korea, Iran and even China.

As I write the Chinese leader is visiting with Trump at his palatial estate in Florida, where he spends almost as much time as he spends in Washington, at great expense to American tax payers.  Although his home town, New York City, is much closer: he dare not come here.   In fact, Trump is so dispised in this city he may never be able to come home again!  It will be interesting to hear what Chinese President, Xi Jinpin, has to say about the attack on Syria.  Being a disciplined political actor skilled at the art of diplomacy I suspect his remarks will be restrained, respectful of the norms that mediate relations between nations.

Xi Jinping is here on a mission to improve relations with the US, China’s main trading partner.  As the leader of a nation with 20% of the world’s population, the Chinese are very careful to avoid military conflicts despite their formidable armed forces.  It is a policy that serves them well; it has allowed them to modernize at a rapid pace and grow the second largest economy in the world, which is predicted to surpass the US in GDP by 2050.

The paramount principle that guides Chinese foreign policy is non-interference in the affairs of other sovereign countries.  And they stick to this policy without significant deviation.  They have the largest army in the world but no foreign bases or troop deployments.  On the other hand, the US, with a fraction of China’s population have bases and soldiers all over the world and are fighting in multiple wars that seem unending.

The amount of blood and treasure we expend on foreign military adventures – along with the failure of the plutocrats to pay their fair share of taxes – is the principal reason why we cannot afford to rebuild our aging crumbling infrastructure, which is essential to our prosperity.  The Chinese see this all to clearly, and they are determined not to follow our example of meddling in everyone’s affairs as if the Gods gave America a mandate to rule the world.

This is why I am convinced that the Chinese will not play the role of disciplining North Korea for developing a nuclear weapons program that the US has assigned them. And given the US attack on Syria, the North Koreans are probably going on a war footing for real, imperiling the future of South Korea, which would be devastated if a war broke out on the Korean peninsula.

However listening to the pundits and the politicians on both sides of the aisle, as they raise their voices in something resembling victory cheers, I dispair for the prospects of peace.  The danger of perpetual war is real and is reflected in the comment of that old warmongering chameleon John McCain: “This is not the beginning of the end….but the end of the beginning.”  

History will judge Trump and his belicose confederates with unrelenting candor…and their deadly devious deeds will be duly noted.  But, alas, dealing with the unintended consequences of the Twittering Twit’s impulsive bombing of Syria, remains the burden of all Americans at this moment.

It’s On!

The US War on Syria has begun!
**************************

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard Dissents

Tellin it like it is!

There is an avalanche of opinions now being expressed on Trump’s attack on Syria, but none is more compelling than that of Congresswonam Tulsi Gabbard, a Democratic Representative from Hawaii.   Congresswoman Gabbard’s remarks are especially important because she is a former combat officer from the Afghan war,  Her experience in combat there has made he a passionate non-interventionists who is hostile to “Chicken Hawks” who promote wars for other’s to fight.  Like Donnie Trump . a notorious Vietnam era draft dodger, who avoided the war not for principled philosophical or religious reasons. but because he was a rich, entitled, cowardly party boy.  The great columnist and native New Yorker, who also hailed from Queens like Donnie, had this to say of his Homie: “Trump is a fake tough guy who couldn’t fight his way out of an empty lot!!!”
Athough celebrated corporate pudits such as Thomas Friedman, the three time Pulitzer Prize winning Foreign Affairs columnist at the New York Times, Joined by David Ignacious and Bob Woodward of the Washington Post, are gushing over the reckless bravado of Donald Trump,  I remain highly skeptical about the mission’s motive, utility and consequences.
Yet because he is such a pompous know-it-all the contrarian in my soul cannot resist pointing out that Tommy Friedman was grieveously mistaken about the Iraq War; he went so far off the beam in supporting Bush’s war of choice with spurious ahistorical arguments that he was forced to write a column apologizng to his readers for having led them astray  by “not asking the right questions.”  On the other hand my essay, written on the eve of the invasion, has withstood the test of time and been confirmed by history.   Titled “The Iraq Attack: Bush’s March of Folly,” it reads as if it were written by Nostradamus, and can be read on this site under the heading “The Prophetic Commentary on Iraq.”
What Friedman and other “major” corporate  mooks of both of both political pursuasions had to say on that subject is analyzed in my essay “How the Iraq War Was Hatched in a Think Tank.”   The fun part of this essay is when their views about the Iraq War is compared to mine!   Alas, what these same pundits had  to say on Trump’s bombing of Syria last night sounds like pompous American exceptionalist bullshit when compared to what  Tulsi Gabbad had this to say about the fake President’s military adventure:
 “It angers and saddens me that President Trump has taken the advice of war hawks and escalated our illegal regime change war to overthrow the Syrian government. This escalation is short-sighted and will lead to more dead civilians, more refugees, the strengthening of al-Qaeda and other terrorists, and a possible nuclear war between the United States and Russia.
This Administration has acted recklessly without care or consideration of the dire consequences of the United States’ attack on Syria without waiting for the collection of evidence from the scene of the chemical poisoning. If President Assad is indeed guilty of this horrible chemical attack on innocent civilians, I will be the first to call for his prosecution and execution by the International Criminal Court. However, because of our attack on Syria, this investigation may now not even be possible. And without such evidence, a successful prosecution will be much harder.”
A Decorated Combat Officer

For more on this remarkable woman search her name on this site.
Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem, New York
April 7, 2017

 

 

The World According to Hillary

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, On Israel, On War and Peace in the Mid East! with tags , , on April 3, 2016 by playthell
 Hillary Clinton at Stanford
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

 Hillary Clinton Reveals her Core Beliefs on Foreign Policy

Anyone who is listening to the contenders for the Democratic and Republican candidates for president will recognize that Hillary’s expertise cannot be matched by the Republican frontrunners.  Nevertheless, some of her policies make less sense that those of Donald Trump, a loose cannon whose misbegotten election to the US presidency most thoughtful observers of international relations around the world believe would be an unmitigated disaster.

The problem is that some of Hillary’s views on critical internationl issues are calcified relics of her history as a Cold War hawk.  She is committed to interventionist policies and says that NATO is America’s smartest investment.  For one who believes that the maintenance of NATO is a blunder of historical proportions that violates the spirit of the agreement with Russia ending the Cold War, and puts this nation in greater danger of a hot war with Russia than during the Communist era, a war which could go nuclear, the former Secretary of State sounds detached from political reality to me.

It is ironic that with her superior knowledge of foreign affairs Ms. Clinton should show less wisdom that Donald the Clown regarding the aims of US foreign policy.  For instance, Trump opposed the invasion of Iraq and correctly pointed out that the overthrow of Sadam Hussein would destabilize the region.  I had written the same thing on the eve of the invasion (See: “The Prophetic Commentary on Iraq,” on this site)   Today Trump went on the record stating his views on NATO, America’s most important and costly military alliance, and to my shock, surprise and profound disappointment  Trump’s ideas were decidedly more realistic and advanced than those of Clinton’s.

While Clinton champions NATO, Trump questions its continued existence, correctly pointing out that NATO is an anachronism that has outlived its original purpose.  In a recent “on the record” interview with the Editors of the Washington Post – where he first introduced his advisors on foreign policy and national security matters – Trump had this to say regarding America’s leadership of NATO:  “We certainly can’t afford to do this anymore, NATO is costing us a fortune, and yes, we’re protecting Europe with NATO, but we’re spending a lot of money.”  He also questioned the contributions of other members of the alliance “They are not doing anything,” he concludes.  On foreign policy Trump is like a broken clock that is wrong almost all the time but gets it right twice a day.

In order to point out the absurdity and danger of US commitment’s to NATO Trump had this to say regarding the conflict in the Ukraine, one of the most dangerous situations in the world: “

“Ukraine is a country that affects us far less than it affects other countries in NATO, and yet we’re doing all of the lifting. They’re not doing anything. And I say: ‘Why is it that Germany’s not dealing with NATO on Ukraine? Why is it that other countries that are in the vicinity of Ukraine, why aren’t they dealing? Why are we always the one that’s leading, potentially the third world war with Russia.’ “

A more accurate description would be to the second deployment of nuclear weapons in an international conflict, and this time it will be Dooms Day.  World wars are a phenomenon of the twentieth century, the next war between industrial nations will go nuclear and that will spell the end of the homo-sapiens species.  Although Trumps pronouncements lack elegance and are innocent of real erudition, despite their crudity some of them hit home.

His view of the Ukraine situation raises the fundamental questions that we should ask when evaluating America’s role there, a place where we could end up in an accidental war with a Russian military whose nuclear arsenal rivals our own.  And what is worse, because of our commitments to NATO we could become entangled in a military conflict with Russia should they have a military incident with Estonia!  Hence Trump is right to question both the relevance of this 20th century Cold War alliance designed to contain an enemy that has vanished from the face of the earth: The Soviet Union.

The fact that both Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz quickly attacked Trump’s position on NATO, and foreign interventionism in general, testifies to the truth of the axiom “Politics make strange bedfellows.”  The truth is that, despite differences in approach, both Clinton and Cruz deeply believe in the myth of “American Exceptionalism” and they also believe the United States is the rightful leader of the world and all nations must fall in line behind us and follow our wise counsel.  They were unambiguous on this point, and therein lies the problem.  Ironically, Bernie Saunders and Donald Trump are closer in their views of the US role in the world than they are with their party counterparts Clinton and Cruz….and Kaisch too.

Trump’s skepticism about US military involvement in foreign countries is greatly influenced by the amount of American treasure expended on the security of our allies.  For instance he says of South Korea, a country where the US still maintains military bases after 60 years – a blunder the Republican chicken hawks are eager to repeat in Iraq – and has never signed a treaty ending the war we fought on the Korean Peninsula all those decades ago.  “South Korea is very rich, great industrial country,” says Trump,  “and yet we’re not reimbursed fairly for what we do.  We’re constantly sending our ships, sending our planes, doing our war games — we’re reimbursed a fraction of what this is all costing.”

Yet despite these insights Trump often comes across as some sort of idiot savant when discussing national security issues; he is like the proverbial cow that gives a good bucket of milk then kicks it over.  For example his insane in the brain suggestion that South Korea and Japan should develop their own nuclear arsenals!    And his whacko plan to construct a wall on the Mexican border and coerce the Mexican government into paying for it; or his proposal to ban over a billion Muslims from the US, despite the fact that many are coming from countries America considers valued allies; or his call to attack the families of terrorists – a war crime reminicent of the Nazis!

Alas, to the horror of thoughtful people all over the globe, Trump took his animus toward Muslims to the point of utter madness in suggesting that he may nuke ISIS, and refused to take the option of firing nukes in Europe “off the table.”  Anybody who understands anything about nuclear weapons knows that they are weapons of mass genocide against civilian populations!  Hence, to even contemplate such a crime against humanity makes Trump unfit to be President – either because he is a dangerous ignoramus who does not understand the implications of what he is proposing, or he is the type of morally deformed cretin that would casually commit mass murder.  Next to this guy, and Teddy Cruz too, Hillary looks like a paragon of Solomonic wisdom…as dangerous and antiquated as some of her core beliefs are!

We need only examine her views on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians as expressed in her speech before AIPAC – American Israel Public Affairs Committee – the most important organization in the all-powerful Israel Lobby, which maintains an effective strangle hold over US Middle East Policy.  Her performance was a shameful genuflection before the policies of the Israeli government, no matter how outrageous those policies appear to thoughtful principled Americans interested in a just peace in that troubled region.

Hillary Goes Nuts at AIPAC!

Hillary Clinton speaks to AIPAC

The Beleagured Palestian People are Invisible to her
 While this is what the rest of the world is witnessing
Palestinian GirlA Palestinian town reduced to rubble with the advanced weapons supplied by the US

To hear Hillary tell it only the Israeli’s have justified grievances; she showed no objectivity at all and no empathy for the plight of the beleaguered Palestinian people.  It is hard to know how to evaluate her statements.

The Real World of Palestinian Children

Palestinia boy in the sights of Israeli Soldier

Forever in the Gunsights of armed Israeli Settlers and Soldiers!

If Hillary truly believes her version of the relations between Israel and the Palestinians she is a nincompoop who never should have been Secretary of State, because despite the voluminous intelligence reports available to her about the realities of the region she appears to have learned nothing alas.  On the other hand, if she does not believe this Barney and Bailey view of Israeli/Palestinian relations then she is a shameless charlatan.  Hence we are left to pick our poison: Charlatan or fool for president!

As I write Clinton is demonizing President Putin with a paranoid view of his designs on Europe  that is a relic of the Cold War era, while attacking Trump for his suggestion that the US greatly reduce its role in NATO.  Yet even a cursory interrogation into the nature of this alliance should raise a red flag for those who want to steer this country away from a policy of perpetual war – and the increasing possibility of a catastrophic war with Russia.   Alas, whatever the considerable virtues of Hillary Clinton, she is no dove in matters of war and peace.

*********************

 

Playthell G. Benjamin
Harlem New York
 March 25, 2016