Pentagon, kill more Syrian civilians, New York Times says


This video from the USA says about itself:

Iraq Reports Civilian Casualties in U.S. Airstrikes on ISIS

13 October 2014

Iraq has reported civilian casualties resulting from U.S. airstrikes targeting ISIS. According to the Los Angeles Times about 18 civilian casualties were found after a building was bombed in Euphrates River Valley town, Hit. The U.S. military has denied that there is any evidence of the reported casualties. Are these casualties inevitable when carrying out airstrikes in highly populated areas? We discuss it, in this Lip News clip with Mark Sovel and Elliot Hill.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

The New York Times calls for blood in Iraq-Syria war

27 May 2015

The New York Times published a major front-page critique Tuesday of the Obama administration’s military tactics in the air war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. The article quotes several US and Iraqi military and intelligence officials, most of them unnamed, denouncing the supposed restraint on bombing due to excessive fears of killing civilians.

The article’s headline, “With ISIS in Cross Hairs, U.S. Holds Back to Protect Civilians,” gives the flavor of the piece, suggesting that ISIS could be easily crippled or destroyed if only the White House were not so squeamish.

Reporter Eric Schmitt—one of a group of Times correspondents who are regular conduits for the CIA and Pentagon—begins the article, “American intelligence analysts have identified seven buildings in downtown Raqqa in eastern Syria as the main headquarters of the Islamic State. But the buildings have gone untouched during the 10-month allied air campaign.

“And just last week, convoys of heavily armed Islamic State fighters paraded triumphantly through the streets of the provincial capital Ramadi in western Iraq after forcing Iraqi troops to flee. They rolled on unscathed by coalition fighter-bombers.”

An accompanying photograph shows ISIS fighters brandishing weapons atop an armored personnel carrier parading through the streets of Raqqa, the de facto ISIS capital in eastern Syria. The obvious implication is that what could be targeted for a photograph could also be targeted for a smart bomb or drone-fired missile.

Schmitt continues: “American and allied warplanes are equipped with the most precise aerial arsenal ever fielded. But American officials say they are not striking significant—and obvious—Islamic State targets out of fear that the attacks will accidentally kill civilians.”

According to Schmitt, “But many Iraqi commanders, and even some American officers, argue that exercising such prudence is harming the coalition’s larger effort to destroy the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or Daesh, and that it illustrates the limitations of American air power in the Obama administration’s strategy.”

And further, “A persistent complaint of Iraqi officials and security officers is that the United States has been too cautious in its air campaign, frequently allowing columns of Islamic State fighters essentially free movement on the battlefield.”

The language is provocative. The US targeting process is “often cumbersome”; critics “say there are too few warplanes carrying out too few missions under too many restrictions.” Pilots hover over targets for hours waiting “for someone to make a decision to engage or not.” US officials responded to Iraqi targeting requests by attacking “the least important 5 percent” of targets, and “either neglected our requests or responded very late.”

Schmitt quotes exactly one critic by name, a Major Muhammed al-Dulaimi, an Iraqi officer in Anbar province, who blames alleged US “restraint” for the loss of Ramadi and other Iraqi military defeats. Two other sources are described as the “pilot of an American A-10 attack plane” and an Iraqi “army commander in Salahuddin Province, of which Tikrit is the capital.” Otherwise, the critics are merely referred to in the most general terms, suggesting that the article is not the product of genuine investigation, but a semi-official trial balloon, alerting the television producers and newspaper editors who take their lead from the Times that a significant shift in US military tactics is being prepared.

When Seymour Hersh published his recent exposé of US government lies about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, he was harshly attacked by critics in the corporate-controlled media for relying heavily on witnesses whose identities had to be kept secret for their own protection.

Schmitt uses anonymous sources for the opposite purpose—not to debunk US government lies, but to spread them, putting into circulation the propaganda of the military-intelligence apparatus, backed by powerful political forces, including the entire Republican Party and significant sections of the Obama administration itself. But there will be no media pundits denouncing Schmitt and the Times for their “thinly sourced” report on the US bombing campaign against ISIS.

As Glenn Greenwald points out today in the Intercept, the Times article fails the most elementary test of journalistic objectivity, since it accepts without question the claims of the Pentagon and CIA that the US bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria has up to now spared civilians. Greenwald cites credible claims from independent observers of nearly 1,000 civilians killed by US bombing since the air war against ISIS began last summer.

The actual figures given in the Schmitt article are 12,500 ISIS fighters killed and only two Syrian children as collateral damage—ludicrous Pentagon numbers that echo CIA Director John Brennan’s claim, at one point in the drone war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, that there had not been a single civilian casualty.

It is notable that Schmitt directly compares the supposedly feeble US air campaign against ISIS—only 15 strikes a day, with three quarters of planes returning without dropping their bomb loads because of restrictions on targeting—to the more aggressive campaigns in Libya (50 strikes a day), the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 (85 strikes a day), and the 2003 invasion of Iraq (a staggering 800 strikes a day), in what was described by the Bush administration as an effort to produce “shock and awe” among the Iraqi victims.

The conclusion is ominous: the US government and its Arab and imperialist allies are preparing to escalate the air war in Iraq and Syria to produce thousands, if not tens of thousands, of civilian casualties.

Schmitt’s article is a signal to begin preparing the American people to accept war crimes on the scale of the previous US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And it is a demonstration that the Times, which sets the political agenda for the bulk of the American media, will play its role in justifying and covering up for these crimes.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Monday that the US had agreed to provide air support for so-called “moderate rebels” being trained in Turkey, once they cross the border into Syria: here.

Protests against United States military bases in Japan


This video is called Okinawa protest at Henoko base.

By Ben McGrath:

Protests in Japan denounce US military presence

27 May 2015

Japanese protesters gathered outside the parliament building in Tokyo on Sunday to demand the removal of a US base on the island of Okinawa. Numerous rallies have been held recently, both on the island and the Japanese mainland, to oppose the US military’s presence in the country.

An estimated 15,000 people took part in Sunday’s protest, denouncing plans to move the US Marine Corp Air Station Futenma base to a new location at Henoko, which is currently being constructed. Futenma is located in the city of Ginowan, while Henoko sits along a less populated coast in Okinawa. Many people held banners reading, “No to Henoko.” They demanded the base be removed from the prefecture altogether.

One protester, Akemi Kitajima, told the press: “We must stop this construction. The government is trying to force the plan, no matter how strongly Okinawa says ‘no’ to it.” The demonstrators also expressed opposition to US plans to deploy CV-22 Ospreys to the Yokota Air Base in Tokyo.

A larger protest took place on the previous Sunday, when 35,000 people gathered on Okinawa to oppose the base relocation plan. The protests began that Friday and continued throughout the weekend. On the Saturday, demonstrators marched around the Futenma base and were joined in other cities across the country by approximately 2,600 others. Besides their opposition to the base, people shouted slogans, such as “Oppose enhanced Japan-US defense ties,” directed against Japan’s turn to militarism.

Plans to move the Futenma base have been in the works since 1996, following the 1995 brutal kidnapping and rape of a 12-year-old Okinawan girl by three US servicemen, which resulted in widespread anti-US protests. Other, less publicized crimes by US personnel have also stoked anti-US sentiment.

Okinawa, however, is on the front lines of any conflict with China. A majority of the 47,000 American troops stationed in Japan are on the island, strategically located in the East China Sea adjacent to the Chinese mainland. Okinawa plays a key role in Washington’s “pivot to Asia,” designed to surround China militarily and economically subordinate it to US interests.

There is little chance the Obama administration would agree to relocate the Marine base off the island, especially at a time when it is engaged in provocations with China. The relocation of the base, which was outlined in a 2006 agreement between the US and Japanese governments, has provoked persistent protests. The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) came to office in 2009 promising to revise the agreement, but the Obama administration refused point blank to discuss the issue with Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, and worked to undermine him. He was forced to accept the 2006 deal, then resigned in June 2010. His DPJ replacement, Naoto Kan, quickly reaffirmed his full support for the US alliance.

The current Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) government has not only made clear that the base relocation will proceed. It has stepped-up the remilitarization of Japan, acting in concert with Washington as part of the US “pivot” against China.

The recent demonstrations have been organized by citizens groups with ties to the Okinawan prefectural government. Governor Takeshi Onaga was elected last November as an independent, largely on his opposition to the Futenma base and its relocation. He is formerly of the ruling LDP and draws support from the conservative Shinpukai faction that left the LDP due to its support for the Okinawan bases.

Okinawans have for decades had a strained relationship both with Japan and the United States. Known as the Ryukyu Kingdom until it was annexed by Imperial Japan in 1879, the island saw heavy combat at the end of World War II, during which more than 100,000 civilians were killed. Following the war, Okinawa remained under direct US control until 1972, two decades after the US occupation ended in the rest of Japan.

Genocide of Rohingya in Myanmar


This video says about itself:

Attacks on Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar (2013)

Government police attacks on Muslims in Myanmar instigated by extremist Buddhist monk U Wirathu. Graphic and violence content.

By Ramzy Baroud:

MYANMAR‘S SHAME

Tuesday 26th May 1915

The world’s most persecuted minority are being abandoned in their darkest hour, writes RAMZY BAROUD

“NOPE, nope, nope,” was Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s answer to the question whether his country will take in any of the nearly 8,000 Rohingya refugees stranded at sea.

Abbott’s logic is as pitiless as his decision to abandon the world’s most persecuted minority in their darkest hour. “Don’t think that getting on a leaky boat at the behest of a people smuggler is going to do you or your family any good,” he said.

But Abbott is hardly the main party in the ongoing suffering of Rohingyas, a Muslim ethnic group living in Myanmar, or Burma.

The whole south-east Asian region is culpable. It has ignored the plight of the Rohingya for years.

While tens of thousands of Rohingya are being ethnically cleansed, having their villages torched, forced into concentration camps and some into slavery, Myanmar is being celebrated by various Western and Asian powers as a success story of a military junta-turned democracy.

“After Myanmar moved from dictatorship toward democracy in 2011, newfound freedoms of expression gave voice to Buddhist extremists who spewed hatred against the religious minority and said Muslims were taking over the country,” reported the Associated Press from the former Myanmar capital Yangon.

That “newfound freedom of expression” has cost hundreds of people their lives, thousands their properties and “another 140,000 Rohingya were driven from their homes and are now living under apartheid-like conditions in crowded displacement camps.”

While one may accept that freedom of expression sometimes invites hate speech, the idea that Myanmar’s supposed democracy has resulted in the victimisation of the Rohingya is as far from the truth as it gets.

Their endless suffering goes back decades and is considered one of the darkest chapters in south-east Asia’s modern history.

When they were denied citizenship in 1982 — despite the fact that it is believed that they descended from Muslim traders who settled in Arakan and other Myanmar regions over 1,000 years ago — their persecution became almost an official policy.

Even those who take to the sea to escape hardship in Myanmar find the coveted salvation hard to achieve.

“In Myanmar, they are subjected to forced labour, have no land rights and are heavily restricted. In Bangladesh many are also desperately poor, with no documents or job prospects,” reported the BBC.

And since many parties are interested in the promotion of the illusion of the rising Myanmar democracy few governments care about the Rohingya.

Despite recent grandstanding by Malaysia and Indonesia about the willingness to conditionally host the surviving Rohingya who have been stranded at sea for many days, the region as a whole has been “extremely unwelcoming,” according to Chris Lewa of the Rohingya activist group Arakan Project.

The stories of those who survive are as harrowing as those who die while floating at sea, with no food or water.

In a documentary aired late last year, Al-Jazeera reported on some of these stories.

“Muhibullah spent 17 days on a smuggler’s boat where he saw a man thrown overboard. On reaching Thai shores, he was bundled into a truck and delivered to a jungle camp packed with hundreds of refugees and armed men, where his nightmare intensified. Bound to shafts of bamboo, he says he was tortured for two months to extract a $2,000 ransom from his family.

“Despite the regular beatings, he felt worse for women who were dragged into the bush and raped. Some were sold into debt bondage, prostitution and forced marriage.”

Human rights groups report on such horror daily, but much of it fails to make it to media coverage simply because the plight of the Rohingya doesn’t constitute a “pressing matter.”

Human rights only matter when they are tied into an issue of significant political or economic weight.

Yet somehow the Rohingyas seep into our news occasionally, as they did in June 2012 and later months, when Rakhine Buddists went on violent rampages, burning villages and setting people ablaze under the watchful eye of the Myanmar police.

Then Myanmar was being elevated to non-pariah state status, with the support and backing of the US and European countries.

It is not easy to sell Myanmar as a democracy while its people are hunted down like animals, forced into deplorable camps, trapped between the army and the sea where thousands have no other escape but “leaky boats” and the Andaman Sea. Abbott might want to do some research before blaming the Rohingyas for their own misery.

So far, the “democracy” gambit is working, and many companies are now setting up offices in Yangon and preparing for massive profits.

This is all while hundreds of thousands of innocent children, women and men are being caged like animals in their own country, stranded at sea or held for ransom in some neighbouring jungle.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries must understand that good neighbourly relations cannot fully rely on trade and that human rights violators must be held accountable and punished for their crimes.

No efforts should be spared to help fleeing Rohingyas, and real international pressure must be enforced so that Myanmar abandons its infuriating arrogance.

Even if we are to accept that Rohingyas are not a distinct minority, as the Myanmar government argues, that doesn’t justify the unbearable persecution they have been enduring for years and the periodic acts of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

A minority or not, they are human, deserving of full protection under national and international law.

While one is not asking the US and its allies for war or sanctions, the least one should expect is that Myanmar must not be rewarded for its fraudulent democracy as it brutalises its minorities.

Failure to do so should compel civil society organisations to stage boycott campaigns of companies that conduct business with the Myanmar government.

Ramzy Baroud is the author of several books and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. He is currently completing his PhD studies at the University of Exeter. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).