Friday, August 29, 2014

Parallels and Comparisons:


Watch the news and read the articles about the white police force in Ferguson, MO confronting the majority black population and you can easily see how similar it is to the way the IDF and Israeli police handle the Palestinian population.

When blacks don’t crawl and obey any whim of any white cop they are arrested or shot down…with impunity.

When people protest they are gassed, shot, beaten, by cops in military gear and armored cars, just like in Hebron, or East Jerusalem, or any checkpoint. The attitude is the same: white law and order to suppress “uppity” blacks, or Palestinians, the occupiers and the occupied.

The city of Ferguson (an all white government) needs revenue generated from ticketing cars for traffic violations, so it has its police force go after black drivers; if they object they are beaten and arrested.

The difference is that the officials of Ferguson want to keep the black population down and obedient, but they need them to extract revenue. The Israeli authorities don’t want to keep Palestinians around to exploit their labor, they want to wall them off and figure out how to expel them, drive them out of their homes, get rid of them…but not too obviously. They want a slow-motion ethnic cleansing, with a lot of propaganda diverting the world’s attention from what they are doing.


There is the barbarity of a beheading by sword of an innocent individual by radical Islamists. It’s done face to face and then put on internet video.

But the radical Judiaists of the IDF behead innocents at random, at a distance, with DIME (Dense Incendiary Metal Explosives) bombs which create an explosion that slices through human bodies severing limbs, torsos and heads. But this is done by USA endorsed civilized killers who have to disembowel children in order to exercise their “right to self-defense.”

Did I say “Judaists?” talking in parallel with Islamists? Yes, that’s right. Israel is not a democratic country. Democracies are tolerant and multi-ethnic. Israel is dedicated to mono-ethnicism: the creation of a Jewish state, only for Jews. Others have no rights (check out the latest Israeli Supreme Court ruling on this re: who the state is for and who have no legal standing to make any demands for rights). Non-Jews can be tolerated, but the trend is strongly going toward ethnic purity, both among the ruling political parties and among the Jewish population of Israel. Twenty percent of Israeli citizens are not Jews an over 50% of the people who live in “Greater Israel,” the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River are not Jews.

UNDP: Poverty Declines in Latin America and the Caribbean

(maybe this has something to do with countries like Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador and others opposing the USA's neo-liberal policies of "free enterprise" looting and pillage of the poor on behalf of bankers and other corporate overlords?)

The United Nations Development Program releases new report on poverty reduction in Latin America

Published 27 August 2014
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The United Nations Development Program encouraged Latin America to continue efforts in the area of poverty reduction.
A press release issued by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) confirmed that more than 56 million people have been lifted out of poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean in recent years.

The findings based on a new report from the UNDP found that poverty levels during the period from 2000-2012 fell from 41.7 percent to 25.3 percent of the population.

Despite positive progress in the area of poverty reduction, many people have been unable to enter into the middle-class, which the study claims could force as many as 200 million people into poverty.

In the event of a major crisis, the report found that 38 percent of the Latin American population faces severe economic vulnerability. This group is primarily composed of those earning between US$4 and US$10 a day, who are neither living in poverty, or on less than US$4 a day (25 percent), nor have entered into the middle class, earning between US$10 to 50 a day (34 percent).

The latest data was revealed yesterday, during the regional presentation of the UNDP’s global Human Development Report titled “Sustaining Human Progress: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Building Resilience.”

During the presentation UNDP Director for Latin America and the Caribbean Jessica Faieta stated, "In Latin America and the Caribbean, poverty has been reduced by almost half in the last decade, and the middle class rose from 22 percent of the population in 2000 to 34 percent in 2012."

However, Faieta went on to note that, "Despite these achievements, a very high share of the population is living in constant uncertainty. They are neither classified as living in poverty, nor have they gained access to a stable middle class status."

According to the report, between 2000 and 2012, Peru experienced the greatest decline of people who rose from living in poverty into a growing middle class, being the country in Latin America and the Caribbean with the highest relative increase in this group (19.1 percentage points).

Bolivia was the country with the highest reduction in relative poverty (32.2 points), but with the highest increase in the vulnerable population (16.9 points).

Anti-Israelism, not anti-Semitism, voiced in Europe

Protesters chant during a pro-Gaza demonstration outside the Israeli Embassy in London, Aug. 1, 2014. (photo by REUTERS/Neil Hall)

Those who read the international press on a regular basis, especially those with an interest in what happens to the Jewish people in Israel and around the world, might have come away with a gloomy picture of the situation in Europe over the last month. Reports of mass flight and such words as “pogrom” and “Kristallnacht” kept appearing. The current situation was compared with the era of Nazi rule in Germany. Anti-Israeli sentiment has significantly increased during Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip and was manifested in many protests around the continent, but apart from such sentiment, is there any evidence supporting the assumption of our being in the midst of a new and powerful wave of hatred toward Jews?

Author Akiva EldarPosted August 27, 2014
Translator(s)Aviva Arad

The Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry at Tel Aviv University occasionally publishes reports on occurrences of anti-Semitism on the continent. During the Gaza conflict, the center published photos on its website showing demonstrations against the war under the headline “Anti-Semitic photos from demos for Gaza (July-August 2014).” Another page featured “Anti-Semitic cartoons and caricatures (July-August 2014).” Among the slides are images of demonstrators' signs combining a swastika with the Star of David, anti-Semitic slogans, cartoons and photos of a non-Semitic nature of people protesting the war and the occupation, and caricatures of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu bombing Gaza. Many demonstrators sport kaffiyehs, the traditional Middle Eastern headdress, and attire bearing the Palestinian flag or its colors. Most of the illustrations are taken from newspapers and websites from the Arab world.

The appearance of racist, anti-Jewish elements at protests, including despicable slogans like “Return them to the gas chambers,” has blurred the boundaries between anti-Semitism and criticism of the settlement policy of the Israeli government and its conduct of Operation Protective Edge. Demonstrations against the slaughter of some 2,000 Gazans, including more than 400 children, have been filed next to the anti-Semitic remarks of Hamas figures, such as Osama Hamdan, who claimed that Jews bake matzo, the Passover flatbread, with the blood of Christian children. More than once, Jewish leftists have participated in these demonstrations, including some who consider themselves Zionists.

The July 29 cover story in Newsweek magazine, with the sensational headline “Exodus: Why Europe’s Jews Are Fleeing Once Again,” opens with a comparison of a July 14 attack by demonstrators on a Paris synagogue and the dark days of the 1930s in Europe. The article reports that according to a survey by the Fundamental Rights Agency of the European Union from the end of 2013, 29% of European Jews have considered emigrating, while 76% of respondents believe anti-Semitism has increased in the last five years.

Has there indeed been a dramatic rise in anti-Semitism in the world and in particular in Europe? The answer is no, based on data the Kantor Center and the European Jewish Congress published in April. The report records 554 anti-Semitic incidents worldwide in 2013. In the previous year, they documented 686 incidents. These episodes included physical attacks on Jews and Jewish sites (synagogues, community centers, schools, cemeteries and memorials) and private property.

The highest number of incidents in a single country, 116, was documented in France, where the largest European Jewish community, about 600,000 people, resides. Even if one triples the number of incidents, assuming that not all were reported or documented, it is clear that it is a wild exaggeration to compare the phenomenon of anti-Semitism at the beginning of the 21st century and the Nazism of the 1930s or the pogroms in Russia. The radical right in France, as in Germany, Austria and the Scandinavian countries, has ridden the waves of hatred and fear of growing Muslim communities more than waves of anti-Semitism toward small and non-threatening Jewish communities.

Data from the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption indeed show an increase in the number of immigrants from Western Europe in recent years: from 3,339 in 2012 to 4,694 the following year. In the first five months of this year, 2,402 Israeli Jews immigrated to Western Europe, which reflects an annual rate of 5,764. These, however, are negligible numbers compared to the population of Western European Jews, who numbered more than 1.1 million in 2013, and far from the extent of Russian immigration in the 1990s, which reached a million people. An “exodus” it surely is not.

To measure the real extent of the phenomenon of anti-Semitism in the world in general and in Western Europe in particular, one must detach it from any connection to Israel in general and the occupation in particular. The cry of “Help, anti-Semitism!” distracts from the cry of “Help, occupation!” In this context, it is interesting to note a July 24 article by Yasmeen Serhan, a Palestinian American student, published on the website +972 under the headline “Anti-Semitism has no place in Palestine advocacy.” Serhan called on supporters of the Palestinian people to fight against any kind of zealotry or violence toward Jewish communities. In her words, expressions of anti-Semitism provide ammunition to those who wish to portray all advocates of Palestine, many Jews among them, as anti-Semites.

A linkage between the Jewish people and Israel in the consciousness of world public opinion associates members of Jewish communities around the world (for good and bad) with responsibility for the actions and failures of Israelis. In the 1967 Six-Day War and immediately after it, Israel was hailed worldwide. Many young non-Jewish people from various nations volunteered to pick oranges on kibbutzim. The erasure of the Green Line with dozens of settlements and outposts, however, has turned the Jews of the Diaspora, like all Israelis, into participants in the injustices of the occupation. The signing of the Oslo Accord turned Israel into a source of pride for Jews around the globe, but the photos of Israeli soldiers chasing children in the West Bank and reports of Palestinian families killed by bombs dropped by Israeli air force pilots have turned Israel into a burden on the shoulders of every Jew.

In coming articles, I will examine who gains and who loses from the exaggerated descriptions of the phenomenon of anti-Semitism. I will look into the motives of those elements who inflate and nurture this phenomenon, and the means of achieving that.

Read more:

Standing while black

Posted on August 25, 2014 by MaxSpeak
ftpftpThe Obama Administration, aided by the civil rights establishment, has shut down the uprising in Ferguson, MO. They accomplished this craven feat through two channels.

On the ground, they permitted the local police free reign to extinguish non-violent protest. The mechanism was very simple. The police cordoned off the area and certain locations within to inhibit mobility. They prevented people from assembling on a street they had blocked off, instead compelling them to keep moving. They raided a church that had served as an operational support to the demonstrators and confiscated supplies like milk, to treat victims of tear gas. They even raided the home of somebody making T-shirts sympathetic to the action. They would periodically send lines of thuggish county police to scatter groups of innocent people. They applied liberal, indiscriminate doses of tear gas, concussion grenades, and rubber bullets.

The inability to assemble is key. That’s how the authorities busted up the Occupy sites, once again to the indifference of the White House. The legal issue is explicated here.

The other channel was political. It was Rev Al Sharpton to the not-rescue, reportedly the Administration’s man on the ground. What is the opposite of agitator? There was a movie called “The Cooler” starring Bill Macy. As a casino employee, his gift was showing up at a table where a gambler was on a hot streak; his mystical powers would cause the winning streak to blow up in failure. Al was the cooler, taking control of the Brown family’s message, telling everyone what they should and shouldn’t be concerned about, failing to defend against the blatant denial of constitutional rights.

The civil rights groups failed in similar fashion. So did local African-American politicians. How do I know this? It’s very simple. None of them at any point said, people, we have a right to assemble. I’m going to stand in the goddamn street and challenge the police to arrest me. If you can stand getting arrested, why not come along? Nobody did that. It was the key to promoting continuing mobilization. Nobody did it. We did hear them talk about voter registration, and bully for them. There are parallels in the latter respect to the dissolution of the actions in the Wisconsin state capital a few years ago (in response to which Obama was also mute).

In the same vein, aside from initial comment that the police ought not to arrest journalists — subsequently ignored by police — the president and attorney-general limited their remarks to perverse digressions about wayward black youth and promises to investigate the shooting. (The capacity of Federal prosecutors to do anything about the shooting is quite limited.)

It is of course true that the Administration cannot command local police to do this or that. They cannot micro-manage local police. But they can issue remarks on lapses that I think could have had a powerful effect. It would have meant calling out bad actors. Perhaps — I’m not a lawyer, so this is speculative — they could have supported the ACLU suit to defend the right to assemble and freedom of the press. More was called for besides showing up and hugging the folks.

Then we have the media on site. One obnoxious narrative was the twinning of “violence” (meaning looting and throwing water bottles; as far as I could tell, the use of Molotov cocktails was much more limited) with peaceful protest. Of course, most of the violence was coming from the cops, and the priority should be defending basic rights of protesters. Notwithstanding that simple principle, we had the absurd adulation of good Captain Ron, beneficiary of softball interviews punctuating his direction of police violence and the arrest of journalists. Journalists against journalism, indeed.

I did see some signs of life on the Melissa Harris-Perry show and in Michael Eric Dyson’s column. They are both sensitive to the wayward black youth dodge, but not so much to the real-time demobilization tactics of the local authorities and the parallel indifference of the Administration.

A few types of distractions have become more clear in the wake of this event. One is that the demilitarization of the police, something for which I had a good word myself, is pretty superficial. You have a disenfranchised, impoverished community being preyed on by local elites and beat on by racist, not-even-professional cops. That they have tanks is beside the point. Michael Brown did not fall victim to a tank.

The other distraction is the default objections to violence and the obligation of the police to do something about it. There will always be anti-social elements at any agitated, mass gathering. The job of the police is to let people do what is legal and arrest people who do things that are illegal. This does not imply mass punishment in the form of tear gas assaults on undifferentiated crowds of people. Not letting people assemble is illegal. Pointing guns at people is illegal. Shoving them around for non-violent assembly is assault; it’s illegal. The police ran riot. They didn’t prevent disorder, they preserved disorder.

Unfair? Inaccurate? Feel free to weigh in.

P.S. See also Brittney Cooper in Salon and Glen Ford in Black Agenda Report.

Israel-Gaza : No Victory for Israel Despite Weeks of Devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there

By Robert Fisk
’It was not a famous victory – but that’s what the Palestinians of Gaza are celebrating. There was much shaking of heads in the international media when the fireworks burst over that shattered land on Tuesday night. After more than 2,100 dead – about 1,700 of them civilians – and 100,000 wounded, what did they have to crow about? An end to the killing? Peace?

Well, no. In fact, Hamas – the vicious, horrible, terrorist Hamas with whom “we” (as in “the West”, Tony Blair, Israel, the US and all honourable men and women) cannot talk – has indeed won a victory.
Israel said it must be disarmed. It has not been disarmed. Israel said it must be smashed/destroyed/rooted out. It hasn’t been smashed/destroyed/rooted out. The tunnels must all be destroyed, Israel proclaimed. But they haven’t been. All the rockets must be seized. But they haven’t been. So 65 Israeli soldiers died – for what? And from under the ground, quite literally, clambered on Tuesday the political leadership of Hamas (and Islamic Jihad) whose brothers were participating – much against the wishes of Israel, the US and Egypt – in the Cairo “peace” talks.

In Israel, significantly, there were no celebrations. The ever-so-right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu had once more over-egged its victory demands and ended up with another ceasefire as strong and as weak as the equally febrile truce that followed the 2009 Gaza war and the 2012 Gaza war. Physically, the Israelis had won; all those broken lives and all those smashed buildings and all that destroyed infrastructure do not suggest that the Palestinians have “prevailed” (to use a “Bushite” word). But strategically, the Palestinians have won. They are still in Gaza, Hamas is still in Gaza, and the coalition government of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas appears still to be a reality.

Many times has it been said that the founders of the Israeli state faced a problem: a land called Palestine. They dealt with that problem coldly, ruthlessly and efficiently. But now their problem is the Palestinians. Their land may have been taken for Israel, their surviving land may be eaten up by Israeli colonies; but the wretched Palestinians simply won’t go away. And killing them in large numbers – especially in front of the world’s television cameras – is getting to be a bit much, even for those who still shake in their boots at the mere whisper of the calumny “anti-Semitism”. Israeli spokesmen even ended up comparing their actions to bloody Second World War RAF air raids, hardly a propaganda strike in the 21st century.

But the world will reflect unhappily on other things. The Hamas spokesmen, for example, raving about the destruction of Israel and Zionism, their exaggerations as preposterous as the Israeli excuses. The greatest victory the world has ever seen, indeed! Hamas has achieved “more than any Arab army has ever achieved against Israel”. Indeed! Hezbollah drove the entire Israeli army out of Lebanon after an 18-year guerrilla war – with far more casualties on both sides than Hamas could ever imagine.

And then how quickly we have forgotten the Hamas killer squads who dispatched at least 21 “spies”, two of them women, in cold blood against the walls of Gaza over the past seven days. I notice that they do not appear in the total list of Palestinian dead. And I wonder why not. Were they to be treated by the Palestinians as even less human than the Israelis? Of course, they were. In a week in which Isis returned to its execution pit, Hamas showed that its old killer touch is also still intact. After three of its top military leaders were liquidated by the Israelis, what did we expect? But it’s interesting that not one Palestinian protested at this no-court-no-jury-no-human-rights “justice”. Nor did they protest at the execution of 17 “spies” in 2008-9 – forgotten today – and another six “spies” (also forgotten) in 2012.

And then we have the “military” casualties. Around 500 were Hamas fighters; back in the 2008-9 Gaza war, perhaps 200 fighters were killed. But in that earlier war, only six Israeli soldiers were killed. In this operation, however, 10 times as many Israeli soldiers died. In other words, Hamas – and, I suppose, Islamic Jihad – have learned how to fight. Hezbollah, the most efficient guerrilla army in the Middle East, certainly noticed this. And the Gaza rockets stretched across thousands of square miles of Israel, notwithstanding the “Iron Dome”. Once you had to live in Sderot to be in danger. Now you can find your flight cancelled at Ben Gurion airport.

Mahmoud Abbas, needless to say, is grovelling to the Egyptians and Americans in thankfulness for the truce. But in the new “joint” Palestinian government, Hamas is going to be telling Abbas how many “concessions” he can make. Far from isolating the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and sidelining Hamas by producing his own made-in-Cairo peace agreement for the Israelis and Americans – swiftly rejected by Hamas during the conflict – President Field Marshal al-Sisi of Egypt has been forced to acknowledge Hamas as the major Arab participant in the truce agreement.

An odd thing, though. Right now, Egypt is bombing the Islamists of Libya, and the US is preparing to bomb the Islamists of Syria after bombing the Islamists of Iraq. But in Gaza, the Islamists have just won. This surely cannot last.

The ceasefire deal: Who gains what

Israel and the Palestinians agreed to an Egyptian-brokered plan to end the fighting in Gaza after 50 days of combat. The following are the broad parameters of the agreement, provided by Israeli and Palestinian officials.

Some of the immediate steps

* Hamas and other militant groups agree to halt all rocket and mortar fire into Israel.

* Israel will stop all military action including air strikes and ground operations.

* Israel agrees to open more of its border crossings with Gaza to allow the easier flow of goods, including humanitarian aid and reconstruction equipment, into the enclave.

* In a separate, bilateral agreement, Egypt will agree to open its 14km border with Gaza at Rafah.

* The Palestinian Authority to coordinate the reconstruction effort in Gaza with international donors, including the EU, Norway, Qatar and Turkey.

* Israel will extend the fishing limit off Gaza’s coast to six miles from three miles, with the possibility of widening it gradually if the truce holds. Ultimately, the Palestinians want to return to a full 12-mile international allowance.

Some longer-term issues

* Hamas wants Israel to release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners rounded up in the occupied West Bank after the abduction and killing of three Jewish students in June.

* President Abbas, who heads the Fatah party, wants freedom for long-serving Palestinian prisoners.

* Israel wants Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza to hand over all body parts and personal effects of Israeli soldiers killed during the war.

* Hamas wants a sea port built in Gaza. Israel has long rejected the plan, but it is possible that progress towards it could be made if there are security guarantees.

* Hamas wants the unfreezing of funds to allow it to pay 40,000 police, government workers and administrative staff who have largely been without salaries since late last year. The funds were frozen by the Palestinian Authority.

* The Palestinians also want the airport in Gaza to be rebuilt.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Cornel West: “He Posed As A Progressive And Turned Out To Be Counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency”

Exclusive: Cornel West talks Ferguson, Hillary, MSNBC -- and unloads on the failed promise of Barack Obama

By Thomas Frank

August 26, 2014 "ICH" - "Salon" - Cornel West is a professor at Union Theological Seminary and one of my favorite public intellectuals, a man who deals in penetrating analyses of current events, expressed in a pithy and highly quotable way.

I first met him nearly six years ago, while the financial crisis and the presidential election were both under way, and I was much impressed by what he had to say. I got back in touch with him last week, to see how he assesses the nation’s progress since then.

The conversation ranged from Washington, D.C., to Ferguson, Missouri, and although the picture of the nation was sometimes bleak, our talk ended on a surprising note.

Last time we talked it was almost six years ago. It was a panel discussion The New Yorker magazine had set up, it was in the fall of 2008, so it was while the financial crisis was happening, while it was actually in progress. The economy was crumbling and everybody was panicking. I remember you speaking about the financial crisis in a way that I thought made sense. There was a lot of confusion at the time. People didn’t know where to turn or what was going on.

I also remember, and this is just me I’m talking about, being impressed by Barack Obama who was running for president at the time. I don’t know if you and I talked about him on that occasion. But at the time, I sometimes thought that he looked like he had what this country needed.

So that’s my first question, it’s a lot of ground to cover but how do you feel things have worked out since then, both with the economy and with this president? That was a huge turning point, that moment in 2008, and my own feeling is that we didn’t turn.

No, the thing is he posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency. The torturers go free. The Wall Street executives go free. The war crimes in the Middle East, especially now in Gaza, the war criminals go free. And yet, you know, he acted as if he was both a progressive and as if he was concerned about the issues of serious injustice and inequality and it turned out that he’s just another neoliberal centrist with a smile and with a nice rhetorical flair. And that’s a very sad moment in the history of the nation because we are—we’re an empire in decline. Our culture is in increasing decay. Our school systems are in deep trouble. Our political system is dysfunctional. Our leaders are more and more bought off with legalized bribery and normalized corruption in Congress and too much of our civil life. You would think that we needed somebody—a Lincoln-like figure who could revive some democratic spirit and democratic possibility.

That’s exactly what everyone was saying at the time.
That’s right. That’s true. It was like, “We finally got somebody who can help us turn the corner.” And he posed as if he was a kind of Lincoln.

Yeah. That’s what everyone was saying.

And we ended up with a brown-faced Clinton. Another opportunist. Another neoliberal opportunist. It’s like, “Oh, no, don’t tell me that!” I tell you this, because I got hit hard years ago, but everywhere I go now, it’s “Brother West, I see what you were saying. Brother West, you were right. Your language was harsh and it was difficult to take, but you turned out to be absolutely right.” And, of course with Ferguson, you get it reconfirmed even among the people within his own circle now, you see. It’s a sad thing. It’s like you’re looking for John Coltrane and you get Kenny G in brown skin.

When you say you got hit hard, are you talking about the personal confrontation you had with him?

I’m just thinking about the vicious attacks of the Obama cheerleaders.

The personal confrontation you had with him is kind of famous. He got angry at you because you were saying he wasn’t progressive enough.

I just looked at him like “C’mon, man. Let the facts speak for themselves. I’m not into this rhetorical exchange.”

Is there anybody who thinks he’s progressive enough today?

Nobody I know. Not even among the progressive liberals. Nobody I know. Part of this, as you can imagine, is that early on there was a strong private-public distinction. People would come to me and say privately, “We see what you’re saying. We think you’re too harsh in how you say it but we agree very much with what you’re saying in private.” In public, no comment. Now, more and more of it spills over in public.

There’s a lot of disillusionment now. My liberal friends included. The phrase that I have heard from more than one person in the last year is they feel like they got played.

That’s true. That’s exactly right. What I hear is that, “He pimped us.” I heard that a zillion times. “He pimped us, brother West.” That’s another way of saying “we got played.”

You remember that enthusiasm in 2008. I’m from Kansas City. He came and spoke in Kansas City and 75,000 people came to see him.

Oh yeah. Well we know there were moments in Portland, Oregon, there were moments in Seattle. He had the country in the palm of his hand in terms of progressive possibilities.

What on earth ails the man? Why can’t he fight the Republicans? Why does he need to seek a grand bargain?

I think Obama, his modus operandi going all the way back to when he was head of the [Harvard] Law Review, first editor of the Law Review and didn’t have a piece in the Law Review. He was chosen because he always occupied the middle ground. He doesn’t realize that a great leader, a statesperson, doesn’t just occupy middle ground. They occupy higher ground or the moral ground or even sometimes the holy ground. But the middle ground is not the place to go if you’re going to show courage and vision. And I think that’s his modus operandi. He always moves to the middle ground. It turned out that historically, this was not a moment for a middle-ground politician. We needed a high-ground statesperson and it’s clear now he’s not the one.

And so what did he do? Every time you’re headed toward middle ground what do you do? You go straight to the establishment and reassure them that you’re not too radical, and try to convince them that you are very much one of them so you end up with a John Brennan, architect of torture [as CIA Director]. Torturers go free but they’re real patriots so we can let them go free. The rule of law doesn’t mean anything.

The rule of law, oh my God. There’s one law for us and another law if you work on Wall Street.

That’s exactly right. Even with [Attorney General] Eric Holder. Eric Holder won’t touch the Wall Street executives; they’re his friends. He might charge them some money. They want to celebrate. This money is just a tax write-off for these people. There’s no accountability. No answerability. No responsibility that these people have to take at all. The same is true with the Robert Rubin crowd. Obama comes in, he’s got all this populist rhetoric which is wonderful, progressive populist rhetoric which we needed badly. What does he do, goes straight to the Robert Rubin crowd and here comes Larry Summers, here comes Tim Geithner, we can go on and on and on, and he allows them to run things. You see it in the Suskind book, The Confidence Men. These guys are running things, and these are neoliberal, deregulating free marketeers—and poverty is not even an afterthought for them.

They’re the same ones who screwed it up before.


That was the worst moment [when he brought in the Rubin protégés].

We tried to point that out as soon as he became part of the Rubin stable, part of the Rubin group, and people didn’t want to hear it for the most part. They didn’t want to hear it.

Now it’s six years later and the search for the Grand Bargain has been fruitless. Why does he persist? I shouldn’t be asking you to psychologize him…

I think part of it is just temperament. That his success has been predicated on finding that middle ground. “We’re not black. We’re not white. We’re not rich. We’re not poor. There’s no classes in America. We are all Americans. We’re the American family.” He invoked the American family last week. It’s a lie, brother. You’ve got to be able to tell the truth to the American people. We’re not a family. We’re a people. We’re a nation. And a nation always has divisions. You have to be able to speak to those divisions in such a way that, like FDR, like Lincoln, you’re able to somehow pull out the best of who we are, given the divisions. You don’t try to act as if we have no divisions and we’re just an American family, with the poor getting treated in disgraceful ways and the rich walking off sipping tea, with no accountability at all, and your foreign policy is running amok with Israelis committing war crimes against precious Palestinians and you won’t say a mumbling word about the Palestinian children. What is history going to say about you? Counterfeit! That’s what they’ll say, counterfeit. Not the real thing.

Let’s talk about Ferguson. All I know about it is what I’ve been reading in the newspapers; I haven’t been out there. But I feel like there’s a lot more going on there than this one tragic killing.

Oh, absolutely. I mean, one, we know that this is a systemic thing. This thing has been going on—we can hardly get a word out of the administration in terms of the arbitrary police power. I’ll give you a good example: Carl Dix and I, three years ago, we went to jail over stop and frisk. We had a week-long trial and we were convicted, we were guilty. While the trial was going on, President Obama came into New York and said two things: He said that Michael Bloomberg was a terrific mayor even though he had stopped and frisked over four and a half million since 2002. Then he went onto say that Ed Koch was one of the greatest mayors in the last 50 years. This is right at a time when we’re dealing with stop and frisk, arbitrary police power, and Bloomberg is extending stop and frisk and proud of it. At least Bloomberg is honest about it. Bill De Blasio is just trying to walk a tightrope in this regard. At least Bloomberg was honest about it. He was glad that stop and frisk was in place. When we went to jail he said, “Y’all are wrong. If stop and frisk is stopped, then crime is going to go up…”

I just give you that as an example in terms of arbitrary police power because in Ferguson we’re talking about arbitrary police power, and this particular instance of it has been going on for a long time. The Obama administration has been silent. Completely silent. All of a sudden now, you get this uprising and what is the response? Well, as we know, you send out a statement on the death of brother Robin Williams before you sent out a statement on brother Michael Brown. The family asked for an autopsy at the Federal level, they hold back, so they [the family] have to go and get their own autopsy, and then the federal government finally responds. [Obama] sends Eric, Eric’s on the way out. Eric Holder’s going to be gone by December.

Oh, is he?

Yeah, he’s already said, this is it. He’s concerned about his legacy as if he’s somehow been swinging for black folk ever since he’s been in there. That’s a lie. He’s been silent, too. He’s been relatively silent. He’s made a couple of gestures in regards to the New Jim Crow and the prison-industrial complex, but that’s just lately, on his way out. He was there for six years and didn’t do nothing. See what I mean?

I see exactly what you mean, but I look at the pictures at Ferguson and it looks like it could be anywhere in America, you know.

Absolutely. It looks like it could be New York, Chicago, Atlanta, L.A. It’s like they’re lucky that it hasn’t hit New York, Chicago, L.A. yet, you know.

When they rolled out the militarized police, it frightened people. Something is going on here. It’s not breaking down the way it usually does. People are reacting to this in a different way.

That’s true. It’s a great moment, but let me tell you this though. Because what happens is you got Eric Holder going in trying to create the calm. But you also got Al Sharpton. And when you say the name Al Sharpton, the word integrity does not come to mind. So you got low-quality black leadership. Al Sharpton is who? He’s a cheerleader for Obama.

I haven’t followed him for years; I didn’t know that.

He meets with the president regularly.

I did not know that.

On his show on MSNBC…

I knew he had a show, I just…I guess I don’t watch it enough.

You gotta check that out, brother.

That’s the problem with me, I don’t watch enough TV.

It’s probably good for your soul but you still have to be informed about how decadent things are out here. But, no: MSNBC, state press, it’s all Obama propaganda, and Sharpton is the worst. Sharpton said explicitly, I will never say a critical word about the president under any condition. That’s why he can’t stand what I’m saying. He can’t stand what I do because, for him, it’s an act of racial traitorship to be critical of the president. There’s no prophetic integrity in his leadership.

I understand that. I think a lot of people feel that way. Not just in a racial sense but because Obama’s a Democrat. People feel that way in a partisan sense.

I think that’s true too. You have had some Democrats who’ve had some criticisms of the president. You’ve got some senator that has been critical about his violation of civil liberties and so forth, and rightly so. But Sharpton, and I mention Sharpton because Sharpton is the major black leader who is called on to deal with arbitrary police power. So, Trayvon Martin, what did he do? You got all this black rage down there calling for justice. Has there been justice for Trayvon Martin? Has the Department of Justice done anything for the Trayvon Martin case? None whatsoever. The same is true now with Ferguson. They call Sharpton down. He poses, he postures like he’s so radical. But he is a cheerleader for the Obama administration which means, he’s going to do what he can to filter that rage in neoliberal forms, rather than for truth and justice.

One last thing, where are we going from here? What comes next?

I think a post-Obama America is an America in post-traumatic depression. Because the levels of disillusionment are so deep. Thank God for the new wave of young and prophetic leadership, as with Rev. William Barber, Philip Agnew, and others. But look who’s around the presidential corner. Oh my God, here comes another neo-liberal opportunist par excellence. Hillary herself is coming around the corner. It’s much worse. And you say, “My God, we are an empire in decline.” A culture in decay with a political system that’s dysfunctional, youth who are yearning for something better but our system doesn’t provide them democratic venues, and so all we have are just voices in the wilderness and certain truth-tellers just trying to keep alive some memories of when we had some serious, serious movements and leaders.

One last thought, I was talking to a friend recently and we were saying, if things go the way they look like they’re going to go and Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee and then wins a second term, the next time there’ll be a chance for a liberal, progressive president is 2024.

It’d be about over then, brother. I think at that point—Hillary Clinton is an extension of Obama’s Wall Street presidency, drone presidency, national surveillance, national security presidency. She’d be more hawkish than he is, and yet she’s got that strange smile that somehow titillates liberals and neo-liberals and scares Republicans. But at that point it’s even too hard to contemplate.

I know, I always like to leave things on a pessimistic note. I’m sorry. It’s just my nature.

It’s not pessimistic, brother, because this is the blues. We are blues people. The blues aren’t pessimistic. We’re prisoners of hope but we tell the truth and the truth is dark. That’s different.

Thomas Frank is a Salon politics and culture columnist. His many books include "What's The Matter With Kansas," "Pity the Billionaire" and "One Market Under God." He is the founding editor of The Baffler magazine.

Copyright © 2014 Salon Media Group, Inc.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Outsiders in Ferguson

from Counterpunch

AUGUST 21, 2014
The American Dispossessed

Since the outbreak of the protests in response to the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, there has been a lot of talk in the media and on blogs disparaging “outsiders” who are participating in the protests. These comments echo the official line: for instance, Missouri State Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson referred to those arrested on the night of August 18th as coming from as far away as New York and California, implying that the “trouble” in Ferguson was caused by these outsiders. Likewise, Corporal Justin Wheetley of the Missouri State Highway Patrol asserted that “It is mostly outsiders who are coming in and destroying this peaceful community.” Even The Guardian’s headline on August 19th reads “Ferguson: outsiders spread unrest and unease in pursuit of eclectic aims.”

This distinction being made between “outsiders” and the people of Ferguson, of course, has a precedent in the long history of race relations in this country. After all, Southern whites during the civil rights movement had a standard line that outsiders should not interfere in their matters. The Freedom Riders, for example, were commonly described by Southerners as “outside agitators.” But, even more disturbingly, claiming this distinction between those who live in Ferguson and those who are “outsiders” ignores or suppresses a basic reality about the similar economic and social conditions that exist in so many minority communities across the country, eliding the bonds of solidarity that tie together people across this nation. Indeed, the economic disparities between Ferguson and the neighboring white communities, the violent behavior of the predominantly white police force toward the black residents of Ferguson, and the complete invisibility of such communities in the mainstream media and in the consciousness of national politicians is instantly recognizable to most of us who do not reside in Ferguson. Moreover, the reality of what is means to be black and poor in this nation is also recognizable to the “outsiders” who are in Ferguson. This means that these outsiders know and experience the connections between race and economics; they know about the absence of employment opportunities that offer a living wage; and they live the effects of a lack of affordable housing and health care. They also know that they are liable to be stopped, beaten, or in extreme cases, shot by police officers, and that many cops see them, as they saw Michael Brown, purely and simply as black bodies to be violently policed, regulated, and controlled. These outsiders’ lives are tied to the destinies of the people of Ferguson and to those of all of the people around the nation who live in similar circumstances.

If we are seeking true outsiders in Ferguson, then we don’t have to look very far. As we have seen in the last few days, it is Governor Nixon, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch, Mayor James Knowles, and the legions of other people in power in the state of Missouri who are the true outsiders. Indeed, the predominantly white power brokers in Ferguson and in the state of Missouri have demonstrated the irony of the insider/outsider binary. Their insider status has not prevented them from being completely surprised by the scale of the protests. They have shown that they have neither a strategy to deal with the people’s response nor a clue about what “justice” really means, other than reciting the usual pieties about “coming together.” President Obama and Attorney General Holder have done little better, offering predictable and banal remarks that obviate any attempt to link the events in Ferguson to the widespread economic disparities that exist across the nation. Predictably, the President asks us to “heal,” but we get no indication of how people are supposed to heal in the face of continued violence directed against them. Perhaps it is foolish to expect those in power to acknowledge the connections between race, capitalist exploitation, and police violence. However, if the response of the true outsiders demonstrates anything, it is that we ordinary people can’t expect those in power—the true outsiders—to solve our problems.

One could argue that the fact that there are so-called outsiders in Ferguson is a sign that a critical constellation of the dispossessed is possible in this nation, that even as the Occupy movement demonstrated, resistance and revolution must start somewhere and will include insiders and outsiders. And the outsiders should include those of us who live in relative privilege, lucky enough not to endure the oppressive conditions and the constant indignities of everyday marginality. Aren’t we all part of and responsible for what is happening in Ferguson? As soon as “normalcy” returns to Ferguson, will we go back to our lives, waiting for the next insurrection, and then lighting up Twitter and newspaper blogs with our comments of outrage? If we believe, along with Walter Benjamin, that the oppressed exist in a permanent state of emergency, then we must cease to be outsiders and join those who are dispossessed in whatever way we can in their struggle for equality.

Kanishka Chowdhury is Professor of English and Director of American Culture and Difference at the University of St. Thomas. He is the author of The New India: Citizenship, Subjectivity, and Economic Liberalization.

Palestinians Live What Israelis Fear

from The Dish
AUG 20 2014 @ 10:54AM
by Freddie deBoer

The emails filling my box about Israel function as a remarkable document. They are a record of seemingly reasonable people who have completely lost track of basic moral reasoning. And that represents itself nowhere more consistently or powerfully than here: treating what could possibly happen to Israelis as more important than what already is happening to Palestinians. It’s such a profoundly bizarre way to think, that only this maddening issue could bring it about.

“Hamas denies Israel’s right to exist!”

Indeed– and Israel not only denies Palestine’s right to exist, it has achieved the denial of a Palestinian state in fact. What kind of broken moral calculus could cause someone to think that being told your existing state should not exist is the same as not having a state of your own?

“Israelis will become second class citizens!”

Arab Israelis already are second class citizens, and Palestinians in the territories no citizens at all. They are denied freedom of movement, freedom of the press, freedom of assembly. They are systematically discriminated against for jobs, especially in government. They lack adequate representation in government. Their leaders are kicked out of Knesset meetings for questioning the IDF. Racist, ultra-nationalist mobs marched through their streets, chanting “death to Arabs!” Their weddings to Jews are the subject of vicious protests. They live side-by-side with racist teenagers who unashamedly trumpet ethnic warfare. They must live in a society where men like Avigdor Lieberman, an explicit racist and literal fascist, serves in a position of power and prominence. Where Meir Kahane is memorialized by groups receiving state funds, where the JDL’s thugs march, where Lehava preaches against miscegenation. A society where the Deputy Speaker of the Knesset openly calls for ethnic cleansing. Palestinians live in a society where a tiny fraction of government funding is spent on their communities or their people. Where human rights organizations like B’Tselem are oppressed by the state. Where they have to endure Kafkaesque application processes to prevent their homes from being bulldozed, if they are given that opportunity at all. Where they live under fear of reactionary, fundamentalist Orthodox settlers who call for death to the Palestinian race.

“Israel is diplomatically isolated unfairly!”

Palestine is diplomatically isolated in a way Israel cannot imagine. The United States uses its veto power to unilaterally deny even the possibility of full membership status for Palestine in the United Nations. The US has used its foreign aid programs and incredible diplomatic leverage to marginalize Palestine and protect Israel. Israel enjoys the protection of the most diplomatically powerful country on earth; Palestine cannot even claw out formal recognition of its borders.

“Israelis will be rounded up and put into camps!”
Palestinians are already in camps, open-air prison camps like Gaza, tiny, beleaguered cantons that lack access to drinkable water or transportation infrastructure, blockaded from receiving food and essential supplies, prevented from fishing their own waters, their movements harshly restricted, forced to go through humiliating and threatening checkpoints to get to work. They travel in segregated buses. They are frequently denied access to Eastern Jerusalem, the center of Palestinian commercial and cultural life. They endure constant calls for “Greater Israel,” the call for ethnic cleansing to establish a unitary ethno-nationalist state. They live in unrecognized villages in the Negev and the North which the Israel state provides no services for. They, unlike Israeli Jews, have no “right to return.” They endured the Nakba.

“Israelis will be killed by terrorist violence!”

Palestinians are killed by terrorist violence. They are subject to spasms of outrageous violence, as the IDF kills them by the hundreds with bombs, tanks, and guns. The vast majority are civilians, many children. Their homes are destroyed, their neighborhoods demolished, their entire villages wiped out. Their hospitals and schools and universities and places of worship are bombed by Israel. Palestinians are subject to routine violence and degradation from IDF troops, who make light of this fact on social media. They are at risk from right-wing Israeli mobs who attack them at their protests and deny them their rights to protest. Their nonviolent protesters are thrown into prison. Their homes are bulldozed out of revenge.

Do I need to go on?

Everything that defenders of Israel insist will happen if Palestinians gain power, Palestinians are now enduring, or worse. Every humanitarian disaster that you imagine will occur with the creation of a Palestinian state is happening now. It’s just happening to the people of Palestine. And so this is the question for my many, many critical emailers: why do you shed more tears for what you imagine might happen to Israel than for what is happening to Palestinians?

Israel is one of the safest countries in the Middle East. Its people enjoy prosperity and security. The most powerful country on earth protects and enables it no matter what its behavior. In every meaningful sense– in terms of physical security, in terms of functioning government and democracy, in terms of human and political rights, in terms of economics and employment, in terms of respect and protection for culture and religion, in terms of life expectancy and health, in terms of education and happiness, in terms of pure self-determination– Israel is one of the most well-off nations on earth, and Palestine, one of the most beleaguered. So then why calls for the defense of Israel so outnumber calls for the defense of Palestine? The only answer that makes sense is this: the belief, whether subconscious or knowing, that an Israeli life is worth more than a Palestinian life. That is the enduring, tacit, obvious belief that underlies this entire discussion, the thing people think but do not say.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tomgram: Patrick Cockburn, How to Ensure a Thriving Caliphate

Posted by Patrick Cockburn at 8:08am, August 21, 2014.
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter @TomDispatch.

Think of the new “caliphate” of the Islamic State, formerly the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as George W. Bush and Dick Cheney's gift to the world (with a helping hand from the Saudis and other financiers of extremism in the Persian Gulf). How strange that they get so little credit for its rise, for the fact that the outlines of the Middle East, as set up by Europe’s colonial powers in the wake of World War I, are being swept aside in a tide of blood.

Had George and Dick not decided on their “cakewalk” in Iraq, had they not raised the specter of nuclear destruction and claimed that Saddam Hussein’s regime was somehow linked to al-Qaeda and so to the 9/11 attacks, had they not sent tens of thousands of American troops into a burning, looted Baghdad (“stuff happens”), disbanded the Iraqi army, built military bases all over that country, and generally indulged their geopolitical fantasies about dominating the oil heartlands of the planet for eternity, ISIS would have been an unlikely possibility, no matter the ethnic and religious tensions in the region. They essentially launched the drive that broke state power there and created the kind of vacuum that a movement like ISIS was so horrifically well suited to fill.

All in all, it’s a remarkable accomplishment to look back on. In September 2001, when George and Dick launched their “Global War on Terror” to wipe out -- so they then claimed -- “terrorist networks” in up to 60 countries, or as they preferred to put it, “drain the swamp,” there were scattered bands of jihadis globally, while al-Qaeda had a couple of camps in Afghanistan and a sprinkling of supporters elsewhere. Today, in the wake of the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and an air power intervention in Libya, after years of drone (and non-drone) bombing campaigns across the Greater Middle East, jihadist groups are thriving in Yemen and Pakistan, spreading through Africa (along with the U.S. military), and ISIS has taken significant parts of Iraq and Syria right up to the Lebanese border for its own bailiwick and is still expanding murderously, despite a renewed American bombing campaign that may only strengthen that movement in the long run.

Has anyone covered this nightmare better than the world’s least embedded reporter, Patrick Cockburn of the British Independent? Not for my money. He’s had the canniest, clearest-eyed view of developments in the region for years now. As it happens, when he publishes a new book on the Middle East (the last time was 2008), he makes one of his rare appearances at TomDispatch. This month, his latest must-read work, The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising, is out. Today, this website has an excerpt from its first chapter on why the war on terror was such a failure (and why, if Washington was insistent on invading someplace, it probably should have chosen Saudi Arabia). It includes a special introductory section written just for TomDispatch. Thanks go to his publisher, OR Books. Tom

Why Washington’s War on Terror Failed
The Underrated Saudi Connection
By Patrick Cockburn

[This essay is excerpted from the first chapter of Patrick Cockburn’s new book, The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising, with special thanks to his publisher, OR Books. The first section is a new introduction written for TomDispatch.]

There are extraordinary elements in the present U.S. policy in Iraq and Syria that are attracting surprisingly little attention. In Iraq, the U.S. is carrying out air strikes and sending in advisers and trainers to help beat back the advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (better known as ISIS) on the Kurdish capital, Erbil. The U.S. would presumably do the same if ISIS surrounds or attacks Baghdad. But in Syria, Washington’s policy is the exact opposite: there the main opponent of ISIS is the Syrian government and the Syrian Kurds in their northern enclaves. Both are under attack from ISIS, which has taken about a third of the country, including most of its oil and gas production facilities.

But U.S., Western European, Saudi, and Arab Gulf policy is to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, which happens to be the policy of ISIS and other jihadis in Syria. If Assad goes, then ISIS will be the beneficiary, since it is either defeating or absorbing the rest of the Syrian armed opposition. There is a pretense in Washington and elsewhere that there exists a “moderate” Syrian opposition being helped by the U.S., Qatar, Turkey, and the Saudis. It is, however, weak and getting more so by the day. Soon the new caliphate may stretch from the Iranian border to the Mediterranean and the only force that can possibly stop this from happening is the Syrian army.

The reality of U.S. policy is to support the government of Iraq, but not Syria, against ISIS. But one reason that group has been able to grow so strong in Iraq is that it can draw on its resources and fighters in Syria. Not everything that went wrong in Iraq was the fault of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, as has now become the political and media consensus in the West. Iraqi politicians have been telling me for the last two years that foreign backing for the Sunni revolt in Syria would inevitably destabilize their country as well. This has now happened.

By continuing these contradictory policies in two countries, the U.S. has ensured that ISIS can reinforce its fighters in Iraq from Syria and vice versa. So far, Washington has been successful in escaping blame for the rise of ISIS by putting all the blame on the Iraqi government. In fact, it has created a situation in which ISIS can survive and may well flourish.

Using the al-Qa'ida Label

The sharp increase in the strength and reach of jihadist organizations in Syria and Iraq has generally been unacknowledged until recently by politicians and media in the West. A primary reason for this is that Western governments and their security forces narrowly define the jihadist threat as those forces directly controlled by al-Qa‘ida central or “core” al-Qa‘ida. This enables them to present a much more cheerful picture of their successes in the so-called war on terror than the situation on the ground warrants.

In fact, the idea that the only jihadis to be worried about are those with the official blessing of al-Qa‘ida is naïve and self-deceiving. It ignores the fact, for instance, that ISIS has been criticized by the al-Qa‘ida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri for its excessive violence and sectarianism. After talking to a range of Syrian jihadi rebels not directly affiliated with al-Qa‘ida in southeast Turkey earlier this year, a source told me that “without exception they all expressed enthusiasm for the 9/11 attacks and hoped the same thing would happen in Europe as well as the U.S.”

Jihadi groups ideologically close to al-Qa‘ida have been relabeled as moderate if their actions are deemed supportive of U.S. policy aims. In Syria, the Americans backed a plan by Saudi Arabia to build up a “Southern Front” based in Jordan that would be hostile to the Assad government in Damascus, and simultaneously hostile to al-Qa‘ida-type rebels in the north and east. The powerful but supposedly moderate Yarmouk Brigade, reportedly the planned recipient of anti-aircraft missiles from Saudi Arabia, was intended to be the leading element in this new formation. But numerous videos show that the Yarmouk Brigade has frequently fought in collaboration with JAN, the official al-Qa‘ida affiliate. Since it was likely that, in the midst of battle, these two groups would share their munitions, Washington was effectively allowing advanced weaponry to be handed over to its deadliest enemy. Iraqi officials confirm that they have captured sophisticated arms from ISIS fighters in Iraq that were originally supplied by outside powers to forces considered to be anti-al-Qa‘ida in Syria.

The name al-Qa‘ida has always been applied flexibly when identifying an enemy. In 2003 and 2004 in Iraq, as armed Iraqi opposition to the American and British-led occupation mounted, U.S. officials attributed most attacks to al-Qa‘ida, though many were carried out by nationalist and Baathist groups. Propaganda like this helped to persuade nearly 60% of U.S. voters prior to the Iraq invasion that there was a connection between Saddam Hussein and those responsible for 9/11, despite the absence of any evidence for this. In Iraq itself, indeed throughout the entire Muslim world, these accusations have benefited al-Qa‘ida by exaggerating its role in the resistance to the U.S. and British occupation.

Precisely the opposite PR tactics were employed by Western governments in 2011 in Libya, where any similarity between al-Qa‘ida and the NATO-backed rebels fighting to overthrow the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, was played down. Only those jihadis who had a direct operational link to the al-Qa‘ida “core” of Osama bin Laden were deemed to be dangerous. The falsity of the pretense that the anti-Gaddafi jihadis in Libya were less threatening than those in direct contact with al-Qa‘ida was forcefully, if tragically, exposed when U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens was killed by jihadi fighters in Benghazi in September 2012. These were the same fighters lauded by Western governments and media for their role in the anti-Gaddafi uprising.

Imagining al-Qa'ida as the Mafia

Al-Qa‘ida is an idea rather than an organization, and this has long been the case. For a five-year period after 1996, it did have cadres, resources, and camps in Afghanistan, but these were eliminated after the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001. Subsequently, al-Qa‘ida’s name became primarily a rallying cry, a set of Islamic beliefs, centering on the creation of an Islamic state, the imposition of sharia, a return to Islamic customs, the subjugation of women, and the waging of holy war against other Muslims, notably the Shia, who are considered heretics worthy of death. At the center of this doctrine for making war is an emphasis on self-sacrifice and martyrdom as a symbol of religious faith and commitment. This has resulted in using untrained but fanatical believers as suicide bombers, to devastating effect.

It has always been in the interest of the U.S. and other governments that al-Qa‘ida be viewed as having a command-and-control structure like a mini-Pentagon, or like the mafia in America. This is a comforting image for the public because organized groups, however demonic, can be tracked down and eliminated through imprisonment or death. More alarming is the reality of a movement whose adherents are self-recruited and can spring up anywhere.

Osama bin Laden’s gathering of militants, which he did not call al-Qa‘ida until after 9/11, was just one of many jihadi groups 12 years ago. But today its ideas and methods are predominant among jihadis because of the prestige and publicity it gained through the destruction of the Twin Towers, the war in Iraq, and its demonization by Washington as the source of all anti-American evil. These days, there is a narrowing of differences in the beliefs of jihadis, regardless of whether or not they are formally linked to al-Qa‘ida central.

Unsurprisingly, governments prefer the fantasy picture of al-Qa‘ida because it enables them to claim victories when it succeeds in killing its better known members and allies. Often, those eliminated are given quasi-military ranks, such as “head of operations,” to enhance the significance of their demise. The culmination of this heavily publicized but largely irrelevant aspect of the “war on terror” was the killing of bin Laden in Abbottabad in Pakistan in 2011. This enabled President Obama to grandstand before the American public as the man who had presided over the hunting down of al-Qa‘ida’s leader. In practical terms, however, his death had little impact on al-Qa‘ida-type jihadi groups, whose greatest expansion has occurred subsequently.

Ignoring the Roles of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan

The key decisions that enabled al-Qa‘ida to survive, and later to expand, were made in the hours immediately after 9/11. Almost every significant element in the project to crash planes into the Twin Towers and other iconic American buildings led back to Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden was a member of the Saudi elite, and his father had been a close associate of the Saudi monarch. Citing a CIA report from 2002, the official 9/11 report says that al-Qa‘ida relied for its financing on “a variety of donors and fundraisers, primarily in the Gulf countries and particularly in Saudi Arabia.”

The report’s investigators repeatedly found their access limited or denied when seeking information in Saudi Arabia. Yet President George W. Bush apparently never even considered holding the Saudis responsible for what happened. An exit of senior Saudis, including bin Laden relatives, from the U.S. was facilitated by the U.S. government in the days after 9/11. Most significant, 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission Report about the relationship between the attackers and Saudi Arabia were cut and never published, despite a promise by President Obama to do so, on the grounds of national security.

In 2009, eight years after 9/11, a cable from the U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, revealed by WikiLeaks, complained that donors in Saudi Arabia constituted the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide. But despite this private admission, the U.S. and Western Europeans continued to remain indifferent to Saudi preachers whose message, spread to millions by satellite TV, YouTube, and Twitter, called for the killing of the Shia as heretics. These calls came as al-Qa‘ida bombs were slaughtering people in Shia neighborhoods in Iraq. A sub-headline in another State Department cable in the same year reads: “Saudi Arabia: Anti-Shi’ism as Foreign Policy?” Now, five years later, Saudi-supported groups have a record of extreme sectarianism against non-Sunni Muslims.

Pakistan, or rather Pakistani military intelligence in the shape of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), was the other parent of al-Qa‘ida, the Taliban, and jihadi movements in general. When the Taliban was disintegrating under the weight of U.S. bombing in 2001, its forces in northern Afghanistan were trapped by anti-Taliban forces. Before they surrendered, hundreds of ISI members, military trainers, and advisers were hastily evacuated by air. Despite the clearest evidence of ISI’s sponsorship of the Taliban and jihadis in general, Washington refused to confront Pakistan, and thereby opened the way for the resurgence of the Taliban after 2003, which neither the U.S. nor NATO has been able to reverse.

The “war on terror” has failed because it did not target the jihadi movement as a whole and, above all, was not aimed at Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, the two countries that fostered jihadism as a creed and a movement. The U.S. did not do so because these countries were important American allies whom it did not want to offend. Saudi Arabia is an enormous market for American arms, and the Saudis have cultivated, and on occasion purchased, influential members of the American political establishment. Pakistan is a nuclear power with a population of 180 million and a military with close links to the Pentagon.

The spectacular resurgence of al-Qa‘ida and its offshoots has happened despite the huge expansion of American and British intelligence services and their budgets after 9/11. Since then, the U.S., closely followed by Britain, has fought wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and adopted procedures normally associated with police states, such as imprisonment without trial, rendition, torture, and domestic espionage. Governments wage the “war on terror” claiming that the rights of individual citizens must be sacrificed to secure the safety of all.

In the face of these controversial security measures, the movements against which they are aimed have not been defeated but rather have grown stronger. At the time of 9/11, al-Qa‘ida was a small, generally ineffectual organization; by 2014 al-Qa‘ida-type groups were numerous and powerful.

In other words, the “war on terror,” the waging of which has shaped the political landscape for so much of the world since 2001, has demonstrably failed. Until the fall of Mosul, nobody paid much attention.

Patrick Cockburn is Middle East correspondent for the Independent and worked previously for the Financial Times. He has written three books on Iraq’s recent history as well as a memoir, The Broken Boy, and, with his son, a book on schizophrenia, Henry’s Demons. He won the Martha Gellhorn Prize in 2005, the James Cameron Prize in 2006, and the Orwell Prize for Journalism in 2009. His forthcoming book, The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising, is now available exclusively from OR Books. This excerpt (with an introductory section written for TomDispatch) is taken from that book.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook and Tumblr. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Rebecca Solnit's Men Explain Things to Me.

Copyright 2014 Patrick Cockburn

Despite ravages of war, Gaza supports armed resistance to lift the siege


Dan Cohen on August 20, 2014 22
Dima and Kamal Qadan display bombs dropped onto their home by Israeli warplanes. (Photo: Dan Cohen)

Hours before the latest ceasefire was set to expire last night, Israel resumed attacks on the Gaza Strip and Hamas again began to launch rockets. Both sides blamed each other for the failed ceasefire. Five missiles hit the al-Dalou family home in Gaza City, killing the wife and three-year-old daughter of Hamas military leader Mohammed Deif, and injuring 18. The al-Dalou family was targeted in 2012 when an airstrike destroyed their home.

With airstrikes throughout Gaza, 22 have died and 100 wounded since the collapse of the most recent ceasefire. Rockets have landed as far into Israel as Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, demonstrating Hamas’ unabated capability to continue attacks.

While Israel’s assault on Gaza has now claimed at least 2,030 lives and caused more than 10,302 injuries, along with entire neighborhoods destroyed, frustration with the status quo has boiled over into near-total support for armed resistance. As exhausted as they are with the war, everyone I spoke to across Gaza said they were willing to endure another round of fighting if it meant an improvement in the long term humanitarian situation. Beyond that, no one seemed willing to take Israel’s assault lying down.

Kamal Qadan’s family barely escaped from Rafah during the Black Friday massacre, when 120 civilians were killed after Israel invoked the Hannibal Directive — the order to conduct an all-out assault on the circumference of an area where a soldier was supposedly captured. As we sat in his home, his grandchildren played with bombs that Israeli jets had dropped through their roof. Israel had attacked them and their neighbors with F-16s, tanks, artillery, Apache helicopters, bulldozers, and snipers.

“Our life is hard under the siege,” Qadan told me. “And it would be insane not to lift it after this disaster that we lived during this war. But I don’t think it will be lifted. That’s why we need to go on and fight and be steadfast and even pay double the price if we have to so it can be lifted.”

Israeli bombs continue to rock Gaza as I write and more deaths are expected tonight. Yet the ability of Hamas to continue launching rockets and the willingness of Gazans to endure has made it clear that no military solution exists for Netanyahu and his inner circle. Gaza’s beleaguered population will accept nothing less than the lifting of the siege they have endured for almost eight years. Until then, they are left to wonder which one of them

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


from Haaretz
by Chemi Shalev
American Jewish leaders fiddle while Israeli democracy burns
Jews fight for freedom, equality and minority rights in America but exempt themselves from the same battle in Israel.
By Chemi Shalev | Aug. 19, 2014 | 6:59 PM | 4

Members of right-wing organization Lehava protesting the wedding of a Jewish-born woman and a Muslim man in Rishon Letzion, August 17, 2014. Photo by Ofer Vaknin

Many American Jewish organizations have full-fledged offices in Israel, while others employ part-time representatives. Almost all have lookouts on the Israeli scene and contacts in high places in the Israeli government, not to mention numerous relatives and close personal friends.

So American Jewish leaders don’t need author David Grossman to realize that “nationalism, fanaticism and racism have erupted all at once”, imposing a “dictatorship of fear” in the public arena.

And they didn’t have to wait for Professor Zeev Sternhell to opine that Israel 2014 is beginning to look like France, 1940, that “Israeli democracy reached a new low point during the recent war” or that Israel’s universal values “are constantly being eroded.”

And they should find it superfluous to have someone describe the “post-democratic camp” that B Michael wrote about, which “wants to break free of the foibles of democracy, sees civil rights as a nuisance and regards racism as a welcome trait.”

Because by virtue of their strong interest and deep immersion in Israeli life, presumably, American Jewish leaders must be fully aware of the evil winds blowing in the Israeli public arena; of the rising intolerance, racism and xenophobia; of the efforts inside and outside the Knesset to stifle free speech and to inhibit freedom of the press; of the spreading use of violence and intimidation to instill fear among those who would stray from the government-inspired right wing line; of the ongoing delegitimization of liberal values and human rights and the organizations that safeguard them; of the increasingly vile and abusive language used in the public sphere and on social media against divergent views; of the growing official and unofficial intolerance and incitement directed at Israel’s Arab minority.

But then the question must be asked: If they know all of this, why are they staying so silent? Why are they not speaking out? Why are these representatives of America’s Jewish millions not standing up for the values of tolerance, pluralism and democratic freedoms that that they hold so dear when it comes to their own lives in America? Why do they enlist in the defense of Jews everywhere around the globe - except those who live in their dear beloved Israel?

Just imagine the outcry from American Jewish leaders if hundreds of white supremacist Christian protesters came to a wedding of a mixed couple somewhere in the U.S. to take part in a court-sponsored demonstration in which the most popular chant was “Death to the Jews”. Try to conjure the howls of protests that would accompany a public call by a senior U.S. cabinet member for a blanket boycott of Muslim shop-owners who closed their shops in solidarity with the people of Iraq during the Gulf Wars. Think of the torrents of protest letters that would be published if an American university dared to reprimand a professor who expressed sympathy not only for Palestinian losses during the recent Gaza fighting, but for Jewish ones as well. Visualize the mass sit-ins that would be organized in front of office whose owners dared to fire Jews because they expressed support for Israel on their private Facebook pages. Envision the dramatic calls for tougher police action against roving gangs of hooligans who go Jew-hunting in the streets of lower Manhattan - or Istanbul or Djakarta, if you prefer - whenever another Jew was convicted of a serious crime. Think of the hunger strikes and days of mourning that would be declared if Congress tried to legislate the supremacy of Christianity, the diminishment of minority rights, the enfeeblement of the Supreme Court.

American Jews would go nuts, and rightly so.

Yet all of these and other phenomena that have developed gradually in recent years - and at an alarming pace since the start of Operation Protective Edge - have been met with a wall of silence by most American Jewish organizations. There have been no protests, no emergency summits, no call to arms, not even a request for more information or further investigation. Nothing but the sounds of silence.

There are many explanations for this muteness, ranging from the reasonable to the absurd to the truly disturbing. It could be, though it’s highly unlikely, that American Jewish organizations are thoroughly engaged in defending Israel against its external foes now and are simply awaiting the end of the war in order to let loose on its internal demons. Perhaps they take the word of Israeli government ministers, on this as in all other matters, who claim that all this talk of deteriorating democracy is just trumped up leftist hysteria amplified by the liberal MSM. Possibly, American Jewish leaders realize that something wicked this way comes, but are afraid to speak out for fear that they themselves will be criticized and cut off from the friends in high places and ultimately described as “fair-weather friends”, at best, or as outright traitors, at worst, as Israeli dissenters are. Maybe they think that in the shadow of all the meshugas in the Middle East, Israel’s transgressions are minor.

And some American Jewish leaders might actually agree with many of Israel’s current political leaders and citizens who have given up on a liberal and multicultural Western-style Israel and now support an ethno-centric pseudo-democratic garrison state instead. Some might believe, like too many Israelis, that left wing and liberal critics of Israel should indeed be denounced, censured and ostracized. After all, didn’t the Conference of Presidents recently reject the membership application of J-Street for those exact same reasons?

American Jewish leaders know how to identify crimes of hate and prejudice from a million miles away, but for some reasons they go deaf, blind and mute when it comes to the same offences in Israel. They have gotten so used to playing Israel’s fiddle, that they can’t bring themselves to shout, “Fire!” when Israeli democracy is burning down.

But these explanations do not provide an excuse. The American Jewish community knows from its head to its kishkes what it is like to live as a religious minority. It has stood at the forefront of all the good fights for freedom and equality and against oppression and discrimination in America for over a hundred years, and it has done so both as a matter of Jewish justice as well as self-preservation. On this matter, American Jews cannot hide behind their staple “we don’t intervene because we don’t live there” routine. When it comes to the preservation of freedom and the entrenchment of equality and tolerance, the traditional roles between Israel and the greatest Diaspora community are actually reversed: it is the American Jewish community which must be a light unto Zion.

American Jews cannot ignore this battle or shirk away from it: in this war, there will be no exemptions for college students or conscientious objectors. They must fight on behalf of their Israeli brothers and sisters, but also for themselves. If they don’t speak up soon, they could wake up one day to an Israel that even its most ardent supporters will find hard to defend.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Why Latin American Leaders Are Standing Up To Israel

The frostier their relations are with the US, the more likely they are to sympathize with the Palestinians

By Laura Carlsen

August 18, 2014 "ICH" - "Al Jazeera America" --Since the Israeli offensive against Gaza began, images of Palestinian children murdered in their homes and schools and bombs exploding in neighborhoods have outraged people around the globe. Many governments have followed the United States, making empty declarations against the violence, as if the death dealing were equal and not overwhelmingly of Palestinian civilians killed by Israeli bombs and bullets.

But as the U.S. government backpedals to reconcile its unconditional support of Israel with basic principles of human rights and Europe waffles, one region stands out in its opposition to the siege of Gaza: Latin America. Leaders from across the region have condemned the Israel Defense Forces’ attacks on Gaza as excessive and unfair.

“I think what’s happening in the Gaza Strip is dangerous,” Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff told the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo. “I don’t think it’s genocide, but I think it’s a massacre.”

Chile, currently a member of the U.N. Security Council, stated that the Israeli government “does not respect the fundamental norms of international humanitarian law.”

Uruguayan President José Mujica condemned the attacks in a weekly radio show. “The loss of perspective in the response is undermining Israel’s prestige and, I think, sullies the marvelous history of the Jewish people. Hatred and revenge do not work to build civilization,” he said. Bolivia’s Evo Morales went further, saying, “Israel does not guarantee the principle of respect for life and the basic right to live in harmony and peace in the international community,” adding that Israel was “passing onto the list of terrorist states.”

Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa joined the criticisms and canceled a planned official visit to Israel later this year.

In addition, at a recent meeting the regional bloc Mercosur issued a statement condemning “the disproportionate use of force on the part of the Israeli armed forces in the Gaza Strip, force which has almost exclusively affected civilians, including many women and children,” while criticizing Hamas attacks on Israeli civilians. Mercosur urged “an immediate lifting of the blockade that is affecting the Gaza population, so that the free movement of people, food, medicine and humanitarian aid can flow freely in and out, both by land and sea” and “an immediate and durable cease-fire.”

Louder than words

The declarations didn’t mince words. But what really called attention to the region’s stance were their governments’ actions. So far, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador and Peru have withdrawn their ambassadors from Israel, and Venezuela suspended diplomatic relations.
This drew the ire of Israeli officials. The government blamed Brazil for leading the pack and called the South American regional leader “a diplomatic dwarf.” The Israeli reaction started to look like the behavior of a bully in the schoolyard when Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor added that Brazil was “an irrelevant diplomatic partner, one who creates problems rather than contributes to solutions” and through a clumsy non sequitur recalled the nation’s 7-1 loss in the World Cup just in case the previous insults didn’t sting enough.

And yet the Latin American position wasn’t entirely surprising. Latin American nations have historically shown their support for the Palestinians. In a recent column in El País, Peruvian writer Diego Garcia-Sayan points out that Latin America has defended the Palestinians at key moments in history. He notes that Latin American nations called for withdrawal from occupied territories in the 1967 Six-Day War and drew up what would become Resolution 242. In recent years, nearly all Latin American have recognized the Palestinian state.
A major factor in the forthright tone of current criticism of Israel, though, is Latin America’s relatively newfound independence from U.S. foreign policy. For the first time, a majority of the continent isn’t afraid to offend its northern neighbor.

Country by country, Latin America still breaks along geopolitical fault lines on the Palestinian issue, as on most other foreign policy issues. The nations most tightly tied to the U.S. — Mexico and Colombia, for example — have had muted responses, while center-left governments have come out strong in opposition to Israeli bombings and the occupation of Gaza.

The list of Latin American nations that refuse to recognize the Palestinian state follows to the letter the list of nations with the strongest military and economic ties to the United States: Colombia, Mexico and Panama. These countries receive significant amounts of Israeli arms, which reached at least $107 million in sales to the region in 2012, often with U.S. aid. In the November 2012 vote to admit Palestine to the U.N. as a nonmember observer state, Panama voted no, and Paraguay, Colombia and Guatemala abstained.

Today counter hegemony movements, new regional organizations, like the Union of South American Nations and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, that do not include the United States and a coming of age in global affairs have combined to make Latin America a leading voice. The fact that it has been one of the most economically dynamic regions — with emerging economies, a BRICS member and growth rates that compare very favorably with crisis-bound developed countries’ — doesn’t hurt either.

That’s why the Israeli government lashed out in response to the withdrawal of the Latin American ambassadors. The move sets a dangerous example. The southern countries broke out of the historical and ideological confines that equate any criticism of Israel as an attack on its right to exist and an affront to the U.S. and acted on the basis of human rights and international law. By so doing, Latin America sent a double message: that it supports the Palestinians and it will no longer render diplomatic tribute to the United States.

A Latin America freed from U.S. dictums has the capacity, if not to isolate a wayward state, at least to send a powerful message of opprobrium.

Hopefully, other nations will see the example and follow suit.

Laura Carlsen is the director of the Americas program of the Center for International Policy in Mexico City. She is a frequent commentator on Latin American relations and an international consultant on gender and foreign policy issues.

11 Eye-Opening Facts About America’s Militarized Police Forces

By Alex Kane

August 17, 2014 "ICH" - "AlterNet" -- The “war on terror” has come home — and it’s wreaking havoc on innocent American lives. The culprit is the militarization of the police.
The weapons that destroyed Afghanistan and Iraq have made their way to local law enforcement. While police forces across the country began a process of militarization — complete with SWAT teams and flash-bang grenades — when President Reagan intensified the “war on drugs,” the post-9/11 “war on terror” has added fuel to the fire.

Through laws and regulations like a provision in defense budgets that authorizes the Pentagon to transfer surplus military gear to police forces, local law enforcement agencies are using weapons found on the battlefields of South Asia and the Middle East.

A recent New York Times article by Matt Apuzzo reported that in the Obama era, “police departments have received tens of thousands of machine guns; nearly 200,000 ammunition magazines; thousands of pieces of camouflage and night-vision equipment; and hundreds of silencers, armored cars and aircraft.” The result is that police agencies around the nation possess military-grade equipment, turning officers who are supposed to fight crime and protect communities into what looks like an invading army. And military-style police raids have increased in recent years, with one count putting the number at 80,000 such raids last year.

In June, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) brought more attention to police militarization when it issued a comprehensive, nearly 100-page report titled, War Comes Home: The Excessive Militarization of American Policing. Based on public records requests to more than 260 law enforcement agencies in 26 states, the ACLU concluded that this police militarization “unfairly impacts people of color and undermines individual liberties, and it has been allowed to happen in the absence of any meaningful public discussion.”

The information contained in the ACLU report — and in other investigations into the phenomenon — is sobering. From the killing of innocent people to the almost complete lack of debate on these policies, police militarization has turned into a key issue for Americans. It is harming civil liberties, ramping up the “war on drugs,” impacting the most marginalized members of society and transforming neighborhoods into war zones. Here are 11 important — and horrifying — things you should know about the militarization of police.

1. It harms, and sometimes kills, innocent people. When you have heavily armed police officers using flash-bang grenades and armored personnel carriers, innocent people are bound to be hurt. The likelihood of people being killed is raised by the practice of SWAT teams busting down doors with no warning, which leads some people to think it may be a burglary and try to defend themselves. The ACLU documented seven cases of civilians dying in these kinds of raids, and 46 people being injured. That’s only in the cases the civil liberties group looked at, so the true number is actually higher.

Take the case of Tarika Wilson, which the ACLU summarizes. The 26-year-old biracial mother lived in Lima, Ohio. Her boyfriend, Anthony Terry, was wanted by the police on suspicion of drug dealing. So on January 4, 2008, a SWAT team busted down Wilson’s door and opened fire. A SWAT officer killed Wilson and injured her one-year-old baby, Sincere Wilson. The killing sparked rage in Lima and accusations of a racist police department, but the officer who shot Wilson, Sgt. Joe Chavalia, was found not guilty on all charges.

2. Children are impacted. As the case of Wilson shows, the police busting down doors care little about whether there’s a child in the home. Another case profiled by the ACLU shows how children can be caught in the crossfire — with devastating consequences.

In May, after their Wisconsin home had burned down, the Phonesavanh family was staying with relatives in Georgia. One night, a SWAT team with assault rifles invaded the home and threw a flash-bang grenade — despite the presence of kids’ toys in the front yard. The police were looking for the father’s nephew on drug charges. He wasn’t there. But a 19-month-old named Bou Bou was — and the grenade landed in his crib.

Bou Bou was wounded in the chest and had third-degree burns. He was put in a medically induced coma.

Another high-profile instance of a child being killed by paramilitary police tactics occurred in 2010, when seven-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones died in Detroit. The city’s Special Response Team (Detroit’s SWAT) was looking for Chauncey Owens, a suspect in the killing of a teenager who lived on the second floor of the apartment Jones lived in.

Officers raided the home, threw a flash-bang grenade, and fired one shot that struck Jones in the head. The police agent who fired the fatal shot, Joseph Weekley, has so far gotten off easy: a jury trial ended in deadlock last year, though he will face charges of involuntary manslaughter in September. As The Nation’s Mychal Denzel Smith wrote last year after Weekley was acquitted: “What happened to Aiyana is the result of the militarization of police in this country…Part of what it means to be black in America now is watching your neighborhood become the training ground for our increasingly militarized police units.”

Bou Bou and Jones aren’t the only cases of children being impacted.

According to the ACLU, “of the 818 deployments studied, 14 percent involved the presence of children and 13 percent did not.” It was impossible to determine whether children were present in the rest of the cases studied.

3. The use of SWAT teams is often unnecessary. In many cases, using militarized teams of police is not needed. The ACLU report notes that the vast majority of cases where SWAT teams are deployed are in situations where a search warrant is being executed to look for drugs. In other words, it’s not even 100 percent clear whether there are drugs at the place the police are going to. These situations are not why SWAT was created.

Furthermore, even when SWAT teams think there are weapons, they are often wrong. The ACLU report shows that in the cases where police thought weapons would be there, they were right only a third of the time.

4. The “war on terror” is fueling militarization. A growing number of agencies have taken advantage of the Department of Defense’s “1033” program, which is passed every year as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. The number of police agencies obtaining military equipment like mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles (MRAPs) has increased since 2009, according to USA Today, which notes that this “surplus military equipment” is “left over from U.S. military campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.” This equipment is largely cost-free for the police agencies that receive them.

In addition to the Pentagon budget provision, another agency created in the aftermath of 9/11 is helping militarize the police. The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) grants funnel military-style equipment to local police departments nationwide. According to a 2011 Center for Investigative Reporting story published by The Daily Beast, at least $34 billion in DHS grants have gone to police agencies to buy military-style equipment. This money has gone to purchase drones, tactical vests, bomb-disarming robots, tanks and more.

5. It’s a boon to contractor profits. The trend towards police militarization has given military contractors another lucrative market where they can shop their products. Companies like Lockheed Martin and Blackhawk Industries are making big bucks by selling their equipment to agencies flush with Department of Homeland Security grants.

In addition to selling equipment, contractors also sponsor training events for SWAT teams, like Urban Shield, a major arms expo that has attracted increasing attention from activists in recent years. SWAT teams, police agencies and military contractors converge on Urban Shield, which was held in California last year, to train SWAT teams and promote the equipment.

6. Border militarization and police militarization go hand in hand. The “war on terror” and “war on drugs” aren’t the only wars helping police militarization. There’s also the war on undocumented immigrants.

The notorious Sheriff Joe Arpaio, infamous for brutal crackdowns on undocumented immigrants, is the paradigmatic example of this trend. According to the ACLU, Arpaio’s Maricopa County department has acquired a machine gun so powerful it could tear through buildings on multiple city blocks. In addition, he has 120 assault rifles, five armored vehicles and ten helicopters. Other law enforcement agencies in Arizona have obtained equipment like bomb suits and night-vision goggles.

Then there’s a non-local law enforcement agency on the border: the Border Patrol, which has obtained drones and attack helicopters. And Border Patrol agents are acting like they’re at war. A recent Los Angeles Times investigation revealed that the Border Patrol killed 19 people from January 2010-October 2012 — including some incidents in which the agents were under no lethal, direct threat.

7. Police are cracking down on dissent. In 1999, massive protests rocked Seattle during the World Trade Organization meeting. The police cracked down hard on the demonstrators using paramilitary tactics. Police fired tear gas at protesters, causing all hell to break loose.

Norm Stamper, the Seattle police chief at the time, criticized the militarized policing he presided over in a Nation article in 2011. “Rocks, bottles and newspaper racks went flying. Windows were smashed, stores were looted, fires lighted; and more gas filled the streets, with some cops clearly overreacting, escalating and prolonging the conflict,” wrote Stamper.

More than a decade after the Seattle protests, militarized policing to crack down on dissent returned with a vengeance during the wave of Occupy protests in 2011. Tear gas and rubber bullets were used to break up protests in Oakland. Scott Olsen, an Occupy Oakland protester and war veteran, was struck in the head by a police projectile, causing a fractured skull, broken vertebrae and brain swelling.

8. Asset forfeitures are funding police militarization. In June, AlterNet’s Aaron Cantú outlined how civil asset forfeiture laws work.

“It’s a legal fiction spun up hundreds of years ago to give the state the power to convict a person’s property of a crime, or at least, implicate its involvement in the committing of a crime. When that happened, the property was to be legally seized by the state,” wrote Cantú. He went on to explain that law enforcement justifies the seizure of property and cash as a way to break up narcotics rings’ infrastructure. But it can also be used in cases where a person is not convicted, or even charged with a crime.

Asset forfeitures bring in millions of dollars for police agencies, who then spend the money for their own uses. And for some police departments, it goes to militarizing their personnel.

New Yorker reporter Sarah Stillman, who penned a deeply reported piece on asset forfeitures, wrote in August 2013 that “thousands of police departments nationwide have recently acquired stun grenades, armored tanks, counterattack vehicles, and other paramilitary equipment, much of it purchased with asset-forfeiture funds.” So SWAT teams have an incentive to conduct raids where they seize property and cash that then goes into their budgets for more weapons.

9. Dubious informants are used for raids. As The New Yorker’s Stillman wrote in another piece, informants are “the foot soldiers in the government’s war on drugs. By some estimates, up to eighty percent of all drug cases in America involve them.” Given SWAT teams’ focus on finding drugs, it’s no surprise that informants are used to gather information that lead to military-style police raids.

A 2006 policy paper by investigative journalist Radley Balko, who has done the most reporting on militarized policing, highlighted the negative impact of using informants for these raids have. Most often, informants are “people who regularly seek out drug users and dealers and tip off the police in exchange for cash rewards,” and other drug dealers who inform to gain leniency or cash from the police. But these informants are quite unreliable — and the wrong information can lead to tragic consequences.

10. There’s been little debate or oversight. Despite the galloping march towards militarization, the ACLU report notes that “there does not appear to be much, if any, local oversight of law enforcement agency receipt of equipment transfers.” One of the group’s recommendations is for states and local municipalities to enact laws encouraging transparency and oversight of SWAT teams.

11. Communities of color bear the brunt. Across the country, communities of color are the people most targeted by police practices. In recent years, the abuse of “stop and frisk” tactics has attracted widespread attention because of the racially discriminatory way it has been applied.

Militarized policing has also targeted communities of color. According to the ACLU report, “of all the incidents studied where the number and race of the people impacted were known, 39 percent were Black, 11 percent were Latino, 20 were white.” The majority of raids that targeted blacks and Latinos were related to drugs — another metric exposing how the “war on drugs” is racist to the core.

Alex Kane is AlterNet’s New York-based World editor, and an assistant editor for Mondoweiss. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.