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   The US foreign policy regarding Iran is foolish.  Noam Chomsky analyzes the situation:

 

“The most dangerous immediate foreign policy crisis is the conflict with Iran, which has been deemed the official source of all evil. Iran must end its “aggression” and become a “normal country” — like Saudi Arabia, which is making rapid progress in Trump’s fantasy world, even “a great job in Saudi Arabia from the standpoint of women,” he explained at G20.

The charges against Iran resonate through the media echo chamber with little effort to assess the validity of the accusations — which hardly withstand analysis. Whatever one thinks of Iranian international behavior, by the miserable standards of U.S. allies in the region — not to speak of the U.S. itself — it is not much of a competitor in the rogue state derby.

In the real world, the U.S. unilaterally decided to destroy the well-functioning nuclear agreement (JCPOA), with ludicrous charges accepted by virtually no one with the slightest credibility, and to impose extremely harsh sanctions designed to punish the Iranian people and undermine the economy. The [U.S. government] also uses its enormous economic power, including virtual control of the international financial system, to compel others to obey Washington’s dictates. None of this has even minimal legitimacy; the same is true of Cuba and other cases. The world may protest — last November, the UN General Assembly once again condemned the U.S. embargo on Cuba, 189-2 (only the U.S. and Israel voted against the resolution). But in vain. The weird idea of the founders that one might have “decent respect to the opinions of mankind” has long vanished, and the pained bleatings of the world pass in silence. On Iran as well.

This is not the place to pursue the matter, but there is a good deal more to say about the U.S. specialty of resorting to sanctions (with extraterritorial reach) to punish populations — a form of “American exceptionalism” that finds its place within what Nick Turse calls “the American system of suffering” in his harrowing expose of the U.S. assault on the civilian population of South Vietnam. The right to engage in this malicious practice is accepted as normal in the U.S. doctrinal system, with little effort to analyze the actual motives in individual cases, the legitimacy of such policies, or in fact even their legality. Matters of no slight significance.

With regard to Iran, within the government-media doctrinal system, the only question that arises is whether the victim will respond in some way, maybe by “violating” the agreement that the U.S. has demolished, maybe by some other act. And if it does, it obviously will be deemed to deserve brutal punishment.

In commentary made by U.S. officials and media, Iran “violates” agreements. The U.S. merely “withdraws” from them. The stance is reminiscent of a comment by the great anarchist writer and Wobbly activist T-Bone Slim: “Only the poor break laws — the rich evade them.”

Watch what happens when you mix broken foreign policy with religion…

“One of Pakistan’s most influential clerics has renounced his support for polio immunisation, claiming that the programme is a cover for American spies.”

Pakistan needs less of this particular brand of religious stupidity.   The stupid is compounded by the bullshite American cloak and dagger games being played in Pakistan.

“But now he says he cannot back the policy after it emerged that the CIA had used a fake hepatitis drive to hunt for Osama bin Laden last year.

Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani doctor who organised the vaccination campaign, has been sentenced to 33 years in prison and his actions caused a wave of paranoia about foreign aid workers.”

Thank you America your botched war is screwing up yet another county in your drive to be the imperial power of this century as well.  Newsflash – China isn’t going to let you; get over yourself and stop killing brown people for not agreeing to be vassals.

“Pakistan is one of three countries where the disease remains endemic. Only 22 cases have been reported this year – compared with 59 in the same period in 2011 – and hopes were high that it could soon be declared polio free.

However, hard-line clerics have long opposed what they suspect is a Western conspiracy against Muslims. As a result health workers carefully cultivated moderate leaders, who issued fatwas – or religious rulings – declaring vaccination to be in line with Islamic teaching.”

There is just so much wrong going on here.  Vaccinations to eradicate polio are a fundamentally good idea.  This fundamentally good idea is trumped though when Western spy agencies use them to further their foreign policy goals.  Then you get backlash like this:

But Haq said that it made no sense for foreign agencies to keep children free from disease while bombing Pakistan.

“If you people are that much curious about the health of people living over there, it means that you are keeping these people alive just to kill them by drones,” he said.

The sad fatalism of marginalized people.  Wrong, but understandable given the circumstances.  Never forget that we are categorically *not* the good guys for much of the world.  If we’d taken the time and effort simply not to perpetuate misery and destruction on poor coloured folk we might actually have some respect in the world.

The primacy of this lesson can not be overstated. The lovey-dovey notion that the US spreads democracy and peace throughout the world exists only within the borders of the US to keep its population ignorant of the injustice and violence committed in their name.  The US, as with every great power, is largely imperialistic by nature and therefore promoting democracy and its associated freedoms is not particularly high on the US’s foreign policy agenda.  Al-Jazeera, unlike the corporate media in North America, actually reports critically on the West’s policy decisions.  Educating people on important topics though, is also a ways down the list for most of North America’s corporate media as well, so we will have to continue to look to independent media organizations for critical views of our policies.

“It’s incredible, really. The president of the United States can’t bring himself to talk about democracy in the Middle East. He can dance around it, use euphemisms, throw out words like “freedom” and “tolerance” and “non-violent” and especially “reform,” but he can’t say the one word that really matters: democracy.”

Of course not.  Government for the people tends to make policies, well, for the people and that dear friends is most certainly not business friendly policy.

“How did this happen? After all, in his famous 2009 Cairo speech to the Muslim world, Obama spoke the word loudly and clearly – at least once.

“The fourth issue that I will address is democracy,” he declared, before explaining that while the United States won’t impose its own system, it was committed to governments that “reflect the will of the people… I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.”

“No matter where it takes hold,” the president concluded, “government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power.”

Simply rhetoric?

Of course, this was just rhetoric, however lofty, reflecting a moment when no one was rebelling against the undemocratic governments of our allies – at least not openly and in a manner that demanded international media coverage.

Now it’s for real.”

Obama just speaking to hear the sound of his lovely words, I’m completely shocked.

“And “democracy” is scarcely to be heard on the lips of the president or his most senior officials.

In fact, newly released WikiLeaks cables show that from the moment it assumed power, the Obama administration specifically toned down public criticism of Mubarak. The US ambassador to Egypt advised secretary of state Hillary Clinton to avoid even the mention of former presidential candidate Ayman Nour, jailed and abused for years after running against Mubarak in part on America’s encouragement.

Not surprisingly, when the protests began, Clinton declared that Egypt was “stable” and an important US ally, sending a strong signal that the US would not support the protesters if they tried to topple the regime. Indeed, Clinton has repeatedly described Mubarak as a family friend. Perhaps Ms Clinton should choose her friends more wisely.

Similarly, president Obama has refused to take a strong stand in support of the burgeoning pro-democracy movement and has been no more discriminating in his public characterisation of American support for its Egyptian “ally”. Mubarak continued through yesterday to be praised as a crucial partner of the US. Most important, there has been absolutely no call for real democracy.”

Well of course not, real democracy is a messy people-centric process that does not ensure a business friendly stable environment.

“Rather, only “reform” has been suggested to the Egyptian government so that, in Obama’s words, “people have mechanisms in order to express legitimate grievances”.

“I’ve always said to him that making sure that they are moving forward on reform – political reform, economic reform – is absolutely critical for the long-term well-being of Egypt,” advised the president, although vice-president Joe Biden has refused to refer to Mubarak as a dictator, leading one to wonder how bad a leader must be to deserve the title.

Even worse, the president and his senior aides have repeatedly sought to equate the protesters and the government as somehow equally pitted parties in the growing conflict, urging both sides to “show restraint”. This equation has been repeated many times by other American officials.

This trick, tried and tested in the US discourse surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is equally nonsensical here. These are not two movements in a contest for political power. Rather, it is a huge state, with a massive security and police apparatus that is supported by the world’s major superpower to the tune of billions of dollars a year, against a largely young, disenfranchised and politically powerless population which has suffered brutally at its hands for decades.

The focus on reform is also a highly coded reference, as across the developing world when Western leaders have urged “reform” it has usually signified the liberalisation of economies to allow for greater penetration by Western corporations, control of local resources, and concentration of wealth, rather than the kind of political democratisation and redistribution of wealth that are key demands of protesters across the region.”

Damn, but is nice to see geopolitical reality being espoused by a major news outlet.

“An Al Jazeera English interview on Thursday with US state department spokesman PJ Crowley perfectly summed up the sustainability of the Obama administration’s position. In some of the most direct and unrelenting questioning of a US official I have ever witnessed, News Hour anchor Shihab al-Rattansi repeatedly pushed Crowley to own up to the hypocrisy and absurdity of the administration’s position of offering mild criticism of Mubarak while continuing to ply him with billions of dollars in aid and political support.

When pressed about how the US-backed security services are beating and torturing and even killing protesters, and whether it wasn’t time for the US to consider discontinuing aid, Crowley responded that “we don’t see this as an either or [a minute later, he said “zero sum”] proposition. Egypt is a friend of the US, is an anchor of stability and helping us pursue peace in the Middle East”.

Each part of this statement is manifestly false; the fact that in the midst of intensifying protests senior officials feel they can spin the events away from openly calling for a real democratic transition now reveals either incredible ignorance, arrogance, or both.”

Ah yes, stability.  We kill and torture to maintain it, and if we are doing it, it simply must be just and interests of the “greater good”.  The world really is a nice place when you are at the friendly end of the sharp stick.

“Moreover, Crowley, like his superiors, refused to use the word democracy, responding to its use by anchor al-Rattansi with the word “reform” while arguing that it was unproductive to tie events in Egypt to the protests in other countries such as Tunis or Jordan because each has its own “indigenous” forces and reasons for discontent.

That is a very convenient singularisation of the democracy movements, which ignores the large number of similarities in the demands of protests across the region, the tactics and strategies of protest, and their broader distaste and distrust of the US in view of its untrammelled support for dictatorships across the region.

Of course, autocracies are much more stable than those messy democracies, no?

“The most depressing and even frightening part of the tepid US response to the protests across the region is the lack of appreciation of what kind of gift the US, and West more broadly, are being handed by these movements. Their very existence is bringing unprecedented levels of hope and productive activism to a region and as such constitutes a direct rebuttal to the power and prestige of al-Qaeda.

Instead of embracing the push for real democratic change, however, surface reforms that would preserve the system intact are all that’s recommended. Instead of declaring loud and clear a support for a real democracy agenda, the president speaks only of “disrupting plots and securing our cities and skies” and “tak[ing] the fight to al-Qaeda and their allies”, as he declared in his State of the Union address.

Obama doesn’t seem to understand that the US doesn’t need to “take the fight” to al-Qaeda, or even fire a single shot, to score its greatest victory in the “war on terror”. Supporting real democratisation will do more to downgrade al-Qaeda’s capabilities than any number of military attacks. He had better gain this understanding quickly because in the next hours or days the Egypt’s revolution will likely face its moment of truth. And right behind Egypt are Yemen, Jordan, Algeria, and who knows what other countries, all looking to free themselves of governments that the US and its European allies have uncritically supported for decades.”

Ah yes, but then what external enemy could the US scapegoat to cover its domestic failures at home?  I mean, actually decreasing the amount of terrorist activity would mean resources could be used to make life better for the average American rather than the military industrial complex and other conglomerates that make a goodly amount of profit on war and strife.

“If president Obama has the courage to support genuine democracy, even at the expense of immediate American policy interests, he could well go down in history as one of the heroes of the Middle East’s Jasmine winter. If he chooses platitudes and the status quo, the harm to America’s standing in the region will likely take decades to repair.”

I believe that for Obama supporting any genuine democracy will happen right after denouncing  the corrosive effects of religion , declaring his atheism, and then re-regulating the business sector.

Honest.

Like every US president to date, Ronald Reagan is responsible for prosecutable war crimes.  Of course, we being the “good-guys” do not apply the same standards to ourselves that we expect the rest of the world to follow.   It is little wonder you see the ironic smirks in the UN and other international bodies when the US is discussing “law and order” and commitment to human rights, because outside of the memory hole that defines our imperial culture the picture is quite clear cut.  The national interest of the US trumps human rights, justice and law almost every time.  We just do not get to hear about it here in fortress North America.   What we also do not get to easily see is how we sow the seeds of our own discord, as in the case of Afghanistan and the current imperial war taking place there.

Here is what Rasil Basu, UN Developmental Program, senior advisor to the Afghan government for women’s development (1986 – 88) had to say.

“She reported “enormous strides” for women under the Russian occupation:

“Illiteracy declined from 98% to 75%, and they were granted equal rights with men in civil law, and in the Constitution… Unjust patriarchal relations still prevailed in the workplace and in the family with women occupying lower level sex-type jobs.  But the strides [women] took in education and employment were very impressive…  In Kabul I saw great advances in industry, factories, government offices, professions and the media.  With large numbers of men killed or disabled, women shouldered the responsibility of both family and country.  I met a woman who specialized in war medicine with dealt with trauma and reconstructive surgery for the war wounded. This represented empowerment to her.  Another woman was a road engineer.  Roads represented freedom – an escape from the oppressive patriarchal structures.”

By 1988, however, Basu “could see the early warning signals” as Russian troops departed and the fundamentalist Islamist extremists favoured by the Reagan administration took over, brushing aside the more moderate mujahideen groups.  Saudi Arabian and American arms and ammunition “have been vital in giving fundamentalist groups an edge over the moderates,” providing them with military hardware used,” according to Amnesty International, to target unarmed civilians, most of them women and children.”  Then followed much worse horrors as the U.S – Saudi favorites overthrew the Najibullah government.  The suffering of the population was so extreme that the Taliban were welcomed when they drove out Reagan’s freedom fighters.  Another chapter in the triumph of Reaganite reactionary ultranationalism, worshiped today by those dedicated to defaming the honourable term “conservative”.

– Noam Chomsky, Hopes and Prospects pages 245 – 246.

Hardly surprising considering the gross injustices wrought in Central America by Reagan and the United States.  The 1980’s were grim years for Central America plagued by torture, terrorism and death all sponsored by the US.

More people need to educate themselves and do the reading into what exactly their foreign policy entails, because the American populace would certainly not endorse the terror wrought in their name if it was properly publicized and discussed realistically.

Aerial Death for you Evil Doers!

It is really crappy when the people you are killing decide to return the favour, Hillary Clinton is outraged at the audacity of people who are being bombed a couple of times a week that they might want to strike back, how dare they:

“We’ve made it very clear that, if, heaven forbid, an attack like this, if we can trace back to Pakistan, were to have been successful, there would be very serious consequences,” Clinton said on CBS News’ 60 Minutes programme last week.

Yeppers, watch out.  It is the US who wields the stick, at all times.  Or the US Proxy forces that must be eager to toss their people into the gapping bloody maw of the neo-imperialist war machine.  Observe the pressure placed on Pakistan to get their people out there to die for US policy.

“And behind the scenes, the US is also reportedly pressuring Pakistan to launch a fresh military offensive in North Waziristan.”

Evil Doers are out there, and you need to go git’em!

“Many analysts say that recent history is not encouraging: Drone strikes and several major Pakistani army offensives have succeeded in inflaming public opinion, but they have failed to dislodge the Taliban or al-Qaeda.

Huh, accidentally killing innocent people inflames public opinion?  Who would have guessed? Of course it just the opinion of the people who are being bombed, if they have not read the US Foreign Policy handout telling them that this murderous war is officially a “good thing” then they simply need to get with the pogrom program.   Thankfully, the casualties are all foreigners, otherwise we would have a real problem stateside.

It is okay though, the US is consolidating the military gains made in Afghanistan securing large portions of the country as safe from harm.  Or not.

“The Swat Valley offensive last year displaced more than two million people from their homes. Most have returned, according to the Pakistani government – but many of the returnees say the government is not providing basic services, notably security and housing.

“Widespread insecurity has also allowed the Taliban to return to previously-cleared areas in the Swat Valley.

Even if Pakistan launches an offensive there is no guarantee it will be able to hold and consolidate its gains – particularly if eastern Afghanistan, just across the border from North Waziristan, remains insecure.

“The Pakistanis acknowledge that they haven’t been able to do [counterinsurgency]. But the Nato failure on the other side of the border is just as obvious,” said Hassan Abbas, a professor at Columbia University and a former Pakistani government official.”

Whoops!  Perhaps the US should begin establishing strategic hamlets so we can sort out who is good and who is evil.  It has worked effectively in the past, so why not now?

Of course, intensifiying the conflict will only make things better:

“The US, meanwhile, has already accelerated its aerial bombing campaign in the tribal regions: Suspected drone strikes have already occurred 35 times this year, compared with 53 attacks in all of 2009, according to the Washington-based New America Foundation, which maintains a comprehensive database of the strikes.

“That seems to be the alternative plan: In case the Pakistani army refuses to go into North Waziristan, the US will intensify its drone strikes,” said Abdul Basit, a researcher at the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies in Islamabad.

But the drone strikes have not decapitated the TTP; the group continues to terrorise Pakistan, and some US officials

Your home and relatives destroyed, love the War on Terror

acknowledge that the drone strikes have made the Taliban more determined to strike targets in the US.”

The blowback is festering and growing in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“It is too early to tell what caused his radicalisation, but there are reports that he was motivated – at least in part – by anger over US drone strikes.

A larger US military presence in Pakistan could have a similarly negative effect on public opinion.

“I don’t see what more boots on the ground will do … in terms of bolstering the military’s capacity to fight the TTP,” said Sameer Lalwani, a research fellow at the New America Foundation.”

Afghanistan will be yet another untimely end to an imperialist power.  The rails are greased and the US is already on the downward trajectory.

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