By Stephen Lendman
Previous articles discussed America’s permanent war agenda, culture of violence, imperial lawlessness, daily atrocities, blood-drenched history, glorification of killing in the name of peace, and support for the world’s worst despots, as well as contempt for democratic values, rule of law principles, and human and civil rights abroad and at home.
Obama continues the odious tradition, governing repressively while waging global imperial wars, brazenly claiming humanitarian intentions he doesn’t give a damn about, never did, and won’t tolerate.
Americans foot the bill and pay the price. Global millions suffer. Earlier articles addressed America’s wars against Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as proxy ones in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, and at home against Muslims, Latino immigrants, and working households.
Part I of this article discussed Obama’s Libya terror bombing, support for the despotic Bahraini monarchy, and alliance with Israel’s slow motion genocide against millions of Palestinian civilians – brutalizing, killing, and immiserating them for decades, spurning peace and independence for occupation, repression and violence.
Washington provides financial aid, weapons, munitions, and political support, Obama more generously than any of his predecessors, showing his contempt for Palestinian liberation, moral values, and rule of law justice.
This article considers prospects for more war, notably in the Middle East against Yemen, Syria, and perhaps Iran, possibly escalating into general war that could, in fact, spin out of control with nuclear weapons introduced openly for the first time since WW II.
At stake literally is humanity and/or a fit world to live in – militarized, repressed, terrorized, and impoverished except for the privileged few running it their way, a prospect too dire to imagine but possible unless committed grassroots pressure stops it.
Obama’s War on Yemen
Since taking office, Obama made Yemen a new front in America’s “war on terror” despite promising diplomacy, not conflict, if elected. As a candidate, in fact, he said:
“The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”
In office, however, he:
— chose war over peace;
— expanded it in North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia;
— reinvented a new “Cold War” with Russia, encircling it with US bases, encroaching to its borders, planning to deploy Aegis class warships nearby and offensive anti-ballistic missiles, anti-satellite interceptors, and nuclear weapons provocatively;
— militarized Latin and Central America, and escalates an arms race in Asia, targeting China by planning to double America’s regional military presence provocatively;
— replaced the democratically elected Honduran president with a fascist regime;
— engineered Duvalierist Michel Martelly’s election as Haiti’s new president; and
— plans greater war for total dominance, no matter the consequences and human toll, including a once secret, now open one on Yemen.
What’s at stake? At most, Yemen has four billion proved barrels of oil reserves and modest amounts of natural gas, hardly a reason for war. More important is its strategic location near the Horn of Africa on Saudi Arabia’s southern border, the Red Sea, its Bab el- Mandeb strait (a key chokepoint separating Yemen from Eritrea through which three million barrels of oil pass daily), and the Gulf of Aden connection to the Indian Ocean.
As a result, at Washington’s behest, Saudi forces began bombing and deploying tanks against Yemen in early November 2009. Hundreds were killed or wounded, many thousands displaced. In addition, a rebel group called the Young Believers said US jets struck Yemen’s northwest Sa’ada Province multiple times, and Britain’s Daily Telegraph reported US Special Forces covertly training its army.
In January 2010, the Wall Street Journal quoted an unnamed Pentagon official saying a significant Special Forces increase was planned, explaining it “will be a much more robust effort pretty much across the board.”
On June 8, 2011, New York Times writer Mark Mazzetti headlined, “US Is Intensifying a Secret Campaign of Yemen Airstrikes,” saying:
The Obama administration “intensified (America’s) covert war in Yemen, exploiting a growing power vacuum in the country to strike at militant suspects with armed drones and fighter jets, according to American officials.”
A coordinated Pentagon Joint Special Operations Command/CIA team is in charge, operating from a Sana command post. In congressional testimony, in fact, CIA Director Leon Panetta (tapped to replace Defense Secretary Gates in weeks) confirmed Washington’s support for Saleh’s dictatorship, saying:
“We are continuing to work with those individuals in (his) government to try to go after AQAP (Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula). And we are continuing to receive cooperation from them.”
Earlier, Washington increased Yemen’s military aid from $4.6 million in FY 2006 to $67 million in FY 2009, $190 million or more in FY 2010, and around $250 million in FY 2011. According to the Congressional Research Service, the Obama administration requested another $115.6 million for FY 2012, a fluid number given the popular uprising for new governance showing no signs of waning.
President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in fact, is receiving medical treatment in Saudi Arabia, seriously hurt by a bomb blast at his compound. Earlier, State Department officials urged him to accept a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) agreement to relinquish power to a transitional government headed by his vice president. Yemen’s opposition parties accepted it. He rejected it, and so do mass protest leaders, one of them, Tawakkol Karman, saying:
“We would like to announce that the JMP (the six joint meeting opposition parties) is part of the regime that we are seeking to remove. In any new government, if the JMP is part of it, our revolution will continue.”
He and others want a clean sweep, a new government, and Saleh and his cronies held accountable for their crimes. Washington wants a regime it controls with or without him, like what’s in place in Egypt and Tunisia after their despots were ousted. Everything changed but stayed the same, why months or years more struggle remain for an Arab Spring to bloom. Washington, of course, wants it quashed, and very much is involved doing it.
Yemenis perhaps have been most resilient, protesting en masse since January against unemployment, deep poverty, corruption, repression, and the 33-year despotic regime they want ousted. Hundreds have been killed trying, many others hurt, but they won’t quit, rallying daily without letup, now faced with US drone and jet aircraft attacks, showing Washington is more threatening than Saleh.
Syrian uprisings began in mid-March. America’s pack journalism wrongfully claimed security forces killed unarmed protesters, ignoring anti-government militants shooting at both sides, blaming President Assad for the carnage.
Obama condemned the violence, accusing him of seeking Iranian help to brutalize his people. WikiLeaks cables, however, revealed secret State Department funding for opposition groups and related projects, including a satellite TV channel (London-based Barada TV) beaming anti-government programming into the country.
Financing began after the Bush administration cut ties with Damascus in 2005. In April 2009, a diplomatic Damascus cable said:
“A reassessment of current US-sponsored programming that supports anti-(government) factions, both inside and outside Syria, may prove productive.”
In February 2006, Bush officials announced funding to “accelerate the work of reformers in Syria,” meaning Western backed regime change elements.
Covert CIA operatives are also involved, as well as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) and International Republican Institute (IRI), supporting anti-democratic opposition groups throughout the region, including in Libya, Lebanon, Iran and Syria despite NED claiming “dedicat(ion) to the growth and strengthening of democratic institutions around the world….in more than 90 countries.”
In addition, Israel, Lebanon’s anti-Syrian March 14 alliance, and the Saudi monarchy are involved. Last March, Haaretz writer Zvi Bar’el, in fact, discussed a plan to oust Assad, saying it allegedly “was formulated in 2008 by….Prince Bandar bin Sultan and Jeffrey Feltman,” a veteran US regional diplomat, currently Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs.
Using unemployed youths, criminals, other young people, and media efforts, they’ve destabilized the country for months, instigating violence and stoking ethnic tensions either to depose Assad’s regime or intimidate it to terminate relations with Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas. The strategy is to isolate regimes Washington and Israel oppose, then weaken and/or oust them separately or in combination.
On April 28, Russia and China blocked a US-backed UK, French, German and Portugal proposed Security Council resolution condemning Syrian violence.
On June 10, the Voice of Russia (VOR, now broadcasting from Washington) reported that Russia and China blocked a second anti-Syrian resolution along with South Africa, India and Brazil, fearing passage will mean more regional war.
Commenting, historian Vladimir Akhmedov said:
“What arouses concern is that this resolution…declares (the) illegitimacy of the (Assad) regime….mak(ing) it possible for other countries to doubt (it) base(d) on this document.”
VOR said no further Security Council consultations date was set, though introducing a third resolution is likely, continuing US-led pressure on Assad. According to Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich, however:
“Russia is against any UN resolution on Syria as the situation in the country is not threatening the global security. The Russian president has repeatedly said Russia opposes any UN Security Council (measure) since the situation (there poses no) threat to international peace and security.”
Lukashevich also expressed alarm about the proliferation of anti-regime militants, saying they’ll only escalate violence and prevent a peaceful resolution, adding:
“Any Security Council resolution criticizing Syria means indirect support (for armed militants), contradict(ing) the role of the Security Council.”
Targeting Syria and Iran
Neither country poses a nuclear or other regional threat. Yet Washington and other Western powers manipulated IAEA chief Yukiya Amano to claim otherwise, AFP on June 6 saying:
He “turned up the heat” on both countries, falsely accusing them of “illicit nuclear activit(ies)” in two late May reports, regurgitating Washington/Israel lies, no matter how distorted or false.
Specifically, he said Iran keeps stockpiling “low-enriched uranium, in defiance of multiple UN sanctions, and refus(ed) to answer allegations of possible military dimensions of its contested nuclear program.” In fact, Tehran complies fully with Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) provisions unlike Israel, America, India and Pakistan – all of them nuclear outlaws, yet Amano is complicitly silent.
He also accused Syria of “building an undeclared atomic reactor at a remote desert site and has not allowed UN inspectors access to locations, data or individuals who could help clear up the allegation.”
In fact, no evidence corroborates his accusations. In September 2007, US intelligence sources said North Korean No-Dong missiles were at the site Israel bombed, either in Musalmiya or further south near Hama. Israel was informed yet spuriously claimed a nuclear facility was struck, an act of war warranting retaliation and UN Security Counsel sanctions.
As a result, demanding inspectors admitted now is unjustifiable harassment. Send them where they’re needed – to America and Israel, both engaged in illicit programs needing to be exposed and shut down.
On June 6, New Yorker writer Seymour Hersh headlined “Iran and the Bomb,” asking:
“Is Iran actively trying to develop nuclear weapons?” Bush and Obama officials say so despite “highly classified intelligence assessments” refuting accusations of Iran’s “military capacities and intentions.”
In fact, the most recent National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) affirm “no conclusive evidence that Iran has made any effort to build the bomb since 2003.” It’s nuclear program is commercial. IAEA inspectors found no illicit weapons development.
Israel also calls Iran an existential threat. Yet most of its nonproliferation experts say it has no nuclear weapons program. As IAEA head for 12 years, Mohamed ElBaradei recently said:
“I don’t believe Iran is a clear and present danger. All I see is the hype about the threat posed by Iran.”
On June 9, London Guardian writer Richard Dalton headlined, “Iran is not in breach of international law,” saying:
Iran doesn’t threaten peace. “In principle….nothing in international law or in the non-proliferation treaty forbids uranium enrichment.” Every country with commercial reactors does it “without being accused of ‘threatening the peace.’ ” Some, like Israel, do it secretly without accusation or threats of sanctions or harsher measures.
Unfortunately, the IAEA is an industry and political tool, manipulated to act outside its mandate, serving the wrong interests for the wrong reasons. As a result, it threatens world safety by letting America and Israel operate belligerently while cracking down unjustly on other nations endangering no one.
At risk is more war, perhaps a general one involving Russia, China, and other major powers globally engaged in the unthinkable, a possible nuclear confrontation endangering humanity. The time to stop it is now. Afterwards is too late.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.