Efficiency In Murder Does Not Lessen the Immorality In Murder

A Game of Drones

America’s recent foreign policy has been enabled by a central idea: the United States does things differently. It wages wars differently. It suspends habeas corpus sparingly and with great restraint. It encroaches on liberties more gingerly. And it puts military men and women at risk with a respectful selectivity. To advance this mythology, the federal government has, time and again, insisted that it acts with painstaking precision when it resorts to military intervention or security-state measures at home. This, officials have consistently suggested, is the American distinction.

Precision is what still seems to separate the United States from the Third World, as U.S. actions become increasingly similar to those often employed by underdeveloped countries. The myth justifies a surviving claim to global distinction, despite the errors, violations, and setbacks of the post-9/11 era. The U.S. may torture detainees like a Latin American dictatorship. It may subject its own people to surveillance of the sort once identified with the Eastern Bloc. And it may resort to violence as swiftly as any inner-city gang. But America’s government does these things with surgical exactitude, carefully distinguishing guilty from innocent. Confidence in this precision provides a buffer; it separates us from them. But the precision defense rests on an unstable pretense, as America’s escalating drone war shows.

President Obama has declared that the extensive drone campaign in Pakistan is a “targeted, focused effort” that “has not caused a huge number of civilian casualties.” But the evidence shows that drones are not precise instruments of war: the idea that the bad guys can be zeroed in on robotically from the air was always improbable in theory and has proved to be untenable in practice.

An in-depth, field-based investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (on behalf of the UK’s Sunday Times) found in February that “since Obama took office three years ago, between 282 and 535 civilians have been credibly reported as killed including more than 60 children.” The bureau notes that the drone attacks were started under the Bush administration in 2004 and have stepped up significantly under Obama. There had been 260 strikes by unmanned Predators or Reapers in Pakistan under Obama’s administration—averaging one every four days.

The report echoes the July 2009 estimates of Daniel L. Byman, senior fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy: “Sourcing on civilian deaths is weak and the numbers are often exaggerated, but more than 600 civilians are likely to have died from the attacks. That number suggests that for every militant killed, 10 or so civilians also died.”

The bureau reported another aspect of the drone attacks that is perhaps just as alarming as the raw numbers of innocent people they slaughter: it found that U.S. unmanned aircraft had killed dozens of civilians who had rushed to help other victims. A three-month investigation including eyewitness reports indicates that at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to the aid of others.

Americans have tired of the Afghan conflict and its expense, yet they remain all too willing to continue the war robotically, via the bluntest of martial instruments—the drone. According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted in February, 78 percent of the public supports Obama’s drawdown plan, scheduled to remove most U.S. forces from Afghanistan by 2014. But the same poll found that 83 percent of Americans approve of Obama’s escalated drone policy. Even 77 percent of self-identified “liberal Democrats” supported the president’s drone warfare.

Killing foreigners—and a smattering of U.S. citizens—by way of drone remains popular because much of the public has yet to accept the truth that the use of drones, the fury and collateral damage they cause in foreign lands, further entrenches America in conflict with the Muslim world. Far from being an alternative to boots on the ground, this form of war—painless for those who wage it, but devastating to civilians—promises to be a prelude to further terrorism, followed by yet more efforts to impose American order on rogue states and regions.

With the general election season getting underway, who will challenge the myth of U.S. precision in dealing death from above? No candidate who has a chance of winning is taking such a stand, and voters are not demanding they do so. The American people appear preoccupied with manufactured political squabbling. When they tire of that, many retire to the realm of celluloid reality, where further myths of clean-cut heroes who kill with the utmost discrimination seep deeper into the popular consciousness.

Ximena Ortiz is former executive editor of The National Interest and author of the forthcoming The Shock and Awing of America: Chronicling the Third Worlding of a Once Great Power.


Rockefellers and Rothschilds Emerge from Behind the Curtain, To Openly Feed On the Carcass

  • From: NewsCore
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

Old money: British financier Lord Jacob Rothschild has bought a 37 per cent stake the Rockefellers’ investment trust. Above, New York City’s famous Rockefeller Centre. Picture: Frank Franklin

THE Rothschilds and the Rockefellers, two of the world’s greatest family dynasties, are pooling their vast resources.

The Financial Times (FT) reported yesterday that Lord Jacob Rothschild’s listed investment trust, RIT Capital Partners, agreed to take a 37 per cent stake in Rockefeller Financial Services for an undisclosed amount.

The financial marriage of convenience is designed to give Rothschild a valuable foothold in the US, according to the newspaper.

The deal, which brings together David Rockefeller, 96, with Lord Rothschild, 76, marks the culmination of a near five decade relationship between the two scions, the FT said.

The Rockefeller group, bearing a name that gave life to a class of American “blue bloods,” dates back to 1882 when oil magnate John D. Rockefeller launched one of the world’s first family investment offices.

The company has evolved into a well-regarded investment firm for other wealthy families and institutions with $US34 billion ($35 billion) assets under management, according to the FT.

In comparison, RIT has about 1.9 billion pounds ($3 billion) in net assets which are reportedly spread across various global investment classes.

The transatlantic tie-up will “focus on setting up investment funds, eyeing joint acquisitions of wealth and asset managers and granting each other non-executive directorships,” the FT said.

The Rockefeller group is majority-owned by the family, while Lord Rothschild holds a minority stake in RIT Capital Partners

Khamenei: Sanctions Only Deepen Hatred of West

Khamenei: Sanctions Deepen Hatred of West

Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech, during a ceremony marking the 23rd death anniversary of the late revolutionary founder Ayatollah Khomeini, shown in the poster at right, at his mausoleum, just outside Tehran, Iran, June 3,

Iran’s supreme leader says Western sanctions will not impede Tehran’s progress, but will instead deepen hatred of the West in the hearts of the Iranian people.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made his remarks Sunday at a ceremony to mark the 23rd anniversary of the death of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The program was held at the mausoleum of the late ayatollah in Tehran.

Khamenei said the U.S. and its allies lie about Iran’s nuclear programs to cover up their own problems. He said the political and media talk about the dangers of a nuclear Iran is unfounded.

He said “what they are and should be afraid of is not a nuclear Iran, but an Islamic Iran.”

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

Iran preparing a soft landing strip for Syria

Iran preparing a soft landing strip for Syria

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) shakes hands with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad (Reuters/Morteza Nikoubazl)

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) shakes hands with his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad (Reuters/Morteza Nikoubazl)

Iranian politicians are watching events in Syria with concern: their view is that the country is being attacked by Saudi Arabia and Israel for its ties with Iran and its support for Palestinians, rather than part of the Arab Spring.

Mohammad Naderi of Iran’s National Security Council believes that “if Syria falls it will be the time to strike on Iran.”

“The United States proceeds from the fact that in the modern world, nobody has the right to resist the global order. Today, Iran is the only country which has the anti-American position, and which politically resists the U.S.’s global hegemony,” says Naderi.

In his view, pressuring Syria is part of the U.S. strategy. “This is why all kinds of forces are working for this strategy. Such groups as Salafis, Wahhabis, and separatist movements, and Saudi Arabia are involved in this Syrian issue.” 

Ali Akbar Javanfekr, chief executive of the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) and presidential advisor, believes that Assad’s readiness for reforms and Russia’s assistance help reduce this pressure on Syria.

“Amid these tough conditions, the Syrian government managed to achieve a certain success against the opposition that had been armed by the US and Israel. The reforms that they are performing are bearing fruit already. We believe that Russia’s position on the Syrian issue is a commendable one”.   

Dr Seyed Abbas Araghchi, Deputy Foreign Minister of Iran, former Iran’s ambassador to Finland and Japan, says that Syria is being pressured not only for resisting Israel and supporting Palestinians, but also because of the new movements in the country.

“In the wake of the Arab Spring, new democratic movements were established in various places including Syria. These forces support the real democratic changes. They have their principles and a certain self-identification,” says Araghchi.

He is convinced that sooner or later, these forces will spread throughout the entire East, including Saudi Arabia, the states of the Gulf, and Qatar. But the United States has been restraining their appearance in those countries where it doesn’t want it, and intensifying them in other countries where it wants to see the regime change.

There’s a popular opinion in Iran that the wave of the Arab Spring, or the Islamic Awakening, is a natural continuation of the Islamic revolution, rather than a result of the American plan for changing the world.

“Iran was the first country to see these changes. In 33 years, the impulse of the Iranian revolution against the dictatorship and corruptive regime reached the Islamic world. In Iran, the democratic values and the Islamic concept are combined. In the Middle East today, there isn’t an issue which could be resolved without Iran. This is a result of Iran’s strong resistance in the face of the US,” insists Araghchi.

The Iranian regime considers the situation with Syria as a special case though.

“The countries need reforms and those should be carried out by the countries themselves, not imposed from outside. In Syria, such changes were attempted artificially because Syria opposed Israel. Syria does need reforms but only those that would be carried out naturally, not through groups created behind the curtains with absolutely different agendas,” Aragchi said.

He is aware of the opinion that Syria was subjected to pressure because it is Russia’s main base in the Middle East. Iran has a different view, however.

“Syria is Iran’s long-time ally. If it is destroyed, its enemies will have hit three targets by one shot: the Palestinian movement, Iran and Syria itself. The situation with Syria differs from the one with Libya because a military action in this case would involve Iraq, Jordan and Turkey. The whole region will be destabilized,” said Aragchi.

Hossein Shariatmadari, Iran’s Supreme Leader’s representative, president of Kayhan group of Newspapers, is even more categorical:

“Assad’s role is important as he is a key and symbolic figure. Everything possible should be done to preserve him. We insisted on carrying out reforms before the Islamic awakening.”

Shariatmadari believes that the uprising in Syria is different from what was going on in other Muslim countries.

“The events of the Islamic awakening that have been going on in the region have several aspects. Firstly, it’s events with Islamic demands – in Mosques and during prayers. Secondly, the events concern the public at large. Thirdly, the events are anti-globalist in character. There is none of the above in Syria – Muslims have not uprisen there. I don’t want to say the Syrian opposition consists of non-Muslims, but they are in a tiny minority there. The opposition in Syria is not an anti-colonial movement – it’s backed by Saudi Arabia and Israel exactly with a purpose to remove Syria from the resistance against colonialism.”

Exclusive Photos of Weapons Smuggled from Libyan Terrorists to Syrian Terrorists

Exclusive Photos of Weapons Smuggled from Libyan Terrorists to Syrian Terrorists

Posted by 

 weapons seized on the Lutfullah II




Saudi Lies About the Situation In Syria

“The people are unarmed whereas the regime receives weapons from several” countries.–Saud al-Faisal 

An opposition source said that Free Syrian Army fighters are receiving light weapons, communications equipment and night goggles from abroad. (Reuters)

An opposition source said that Free Syrian Army fighters are receiving light weapons, communications equipment and night goggles from abroad. (Reuters)–Syrian rebels get arms from abroad as Russia calls for an urgent ceasefire in Homs


In April 2011, Doha officials acknowledged that Qatar had delivered Milan missiles to Libyan insurgents from Benghazi 

Libyan weapons seized on the Lutfullah II–May 12, 2012

source, Aug. 19th, 2012

Saudi: Assad ‘Maneuvering’ to Gain Time


إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية

by Naharnet Newsdesk

Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal accused Syria’s President Bashar Assad of “maneuvering” to gain time, at a joint news conference Sunday with U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon.

“Every initiative has been accepted by the Syrian regime and was not implemented. This is a way used by the regime to gain time,” Prince Saud told reporters in the Red Sea city of Jeddah.

“He is playing for time and maneuvering,” he said referring to Assad.

The Saudi minister’s remarks came immediately after Assad said Sunday that his government is faced with a foreign plot to destroy Syria.

Arab leaders on Saturday called on the United Nations to act to stop bloodshed that has persisted for nearly 15 months despite a U.N.-backed peace plan that includes the deployment of nearly 300 observers.

The plan was drawn up by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, who on Saturday singled out Assad and his regime as the key to resolving the conflict as he warned of the specter of all-out sectarian warfare.

Annan “will present his report (on Syria) in a few weeks… It must be clear, straightforward, precise and transparent,” Prince Saud said. “We hope the United Nations takes a firm stance.”

Since the so-called ceasefire began on April 12, as many as 2,300 people have been killed out of the more than 13,400 to have died in Syria since the uprising against Assad’s regime began in March 2011.

The Saudi foreign minister, who has repeatedly voiced his country’s support for arming Syria’ rebels said: “We support creating a buffer zone in Syria which the oppressed can take refuge in… but this is the responsibility of the U.N. Security Council as the Arab League can’t do this.”

“The real solution belies in protecting the Syrian people from the harsh military,” he said. “The people are unarmed whereas the regime receives weapons from several” countries.

“The situation is very dangerous. We hope things don’t deteriorate further,” he added.

Because of the worsening violence and Assad’s failure to meet commitments under the agreed peace plan, the United States has warned that it may not agree to renew the U.N. observer mission when its mandate expires on July 20.

Tajikistan: Could Showdown With Popular Cleric Backfire?

[SEE:  Tajik Govt. Campaign of Religious Harassment Continues Against Beloved Turajonzoda Brothers ; Tajik Mufti Who Sees Through Anti-Islamist Western Subversion, Targeted By Tajik Court ;  Turajonzoda: Tajikistan does not have to be led by the U.S. ; Turajonzoda: “If the pressure continues, I will be forced out of Tajikistan”]

Men pray at Muhammadiya Mosque.  

[The Tajik government’s closure of the Muhammadiya mosque in Vahdat, headed by the Turajonzoda family was not only an anti-Islamist measure, but also an attempt to weaken Rahmon’s main political opposition, the Islamic Renaissance Party ( IRP).  This will all no doubt blow-up in his face, producing a result that is the opposite of the goals originally sought.  Crush Islamism and you will fire the flames of martyrdom.]

Tajikistan: Could Showdown With Popular Cleric Backfire?


With a court order to close one of Tajikistan’s most popular mosques, President Imomali Rahmon’s administration is stepping up its campaign to neutralize both Islam and the last vestiges of any political opposition.

The May 28 ruling to close the Muhammadiya Mosque – run by the family of Haji Akbar Turajonzoda, a popular theologian and charismatic leader during the country’s civil war in the mid-1990s – marks the latest confrontation between the authorities and the powerful family. But the closure is also “part of a larger campaign against Muslim life in all its forms,” said John Heathershaw of the University of Exeter, an expert on Islam in Tajikistan.

Turajonzoda, who was the leader of the state-sanctioned clergy during the late Soviet era, is a contentious figure in Tajikistan’s recent history. Blamed by many for helping fan the civil war by siding with the Islamic opposition, he became first deputy prime minister in 1999 as part of a power-sharing agreement that helped end the civil war. As deputy premier, however, he turned on his former allies and became a critic of the Islamic Renaissance Party (IRPT), Tajikistan’s main, but now marginalized, opposition movement.

After 2005, when Rahmon demoted him from the cabinet to the senate, Turajonzoda became acritic of the president, and was sacked in 2010. Since then, he has made headlines for making disparaging comments about the president. In addition, he has reportedly mended fences with the IRPT, apparently fueling government fears of a resurgent Islamic opposition.

Despite his popularity, or perhaps because of it, he is often accused of being both an agent of Moscow and a heterodox Islamist. Muzaffar Olimov, head of the Sharq Information and Analytical Center in Dushanbe, describes Turajonzoda “a politician in the guise of a religious figure.”

Certainly, the Turajonzoda family is a powerful force. Their mosque in Vahdat regularly draws 15,000 men for Friday prayers. The sermons given at the mosque are sold on compact disks around the country.

The current dispute dates back to December. Alleging that Turajonzoda’s brothers, Nuriddin and Mahmudjon, had observed rituals commemorating the death of Imam Hussain – an event known as Ashura, which is observed by Sh’ia Muslims – the state-run Ulema Council, which regulates and interprets Islamic activities in the Sunni-majority country, attempted to remove the brothers and install a more doctrinally reliable imam.

The country’s chief mufti went to the mosque about 30 kilometers east of the capital Dushanbe during Friday prayers on December 9 to read a statement accusing the brothers of trying to disturb the peace by introducing foreign religious rituals. But angry worshipers forced the mufti to flee. The State Committee on Religious Affairs immediately suspended prayers at the mosque for three months and brought charges against the brothers in a local court.

In the reading of a preliminary decision, the Vahdat court stripped the mosque of its right to observe Friday prayers. The written verdict, delivered in late May, however, went further even than the State Committee on Religious Affairs’ original demand, and closed the mosque altogether. A lawyer for Turajonzoda family asserts the court does not have that authority to issue such a closure order, and went on to question the judiciary’s independence.

Turajonzoda himself had earlier predicted the case would be decided against him and his family. Claiming the court order came as a “command from above,” he remains defiant.

“We are not going to stop praying in our mosque. Even if they decide to launch criminal proceedings, we [are] still going to pray here,” the Asia-Plus news quoted Turajonzoda as saying on May 30. Observers in Dushanbe take him at his word and warn that his legion of followers will likely force the government to back down, for now.

Over the past two years, the government has waged a broad campaign against public expressions of piety. The Ulema Council has issued extensive guidelines on religious curricula in schools, restricted what imams can discuss, recalled Tajik seminary students studying abroad, regulated the annual Hajj pilgrimage, and banned children from praying in mosques. Courts regularly sentence alleged extremists to long prison terms on flimsy evidence. An unexplained arson at a women’s mosque in October 2010 and raids on IRPT offices have also reinforced a belief among practicing Muslims that the government is intent on stifling religious freedom.

“There is no real concept of religious pluralism or tolerance” in Tajikistan,” Heathershaw said. “This is about state control of religion.”

The uneasy relationship and deepening tension between official and uncontrolled religious observance is illustrated in the person of Turajonzoda, whose visible and varied career has spanned both secular and religious politics.

Turajonzoda “never shied away from criticizing the government’s policy on religion,” says analyst Alexander Sodiqov. “People respect him mostly because he is not scared of standing up against what he sees as unjust policies on religion.”

The mosque’s closure appears to be an extension of recent attacks on the Turajonzoda family, which have included an aggressive press blitz following his removal from the Senate in 2010, a suspected case of arson at Turajonzoda’s cotton-processing factory in October 2011, and what appears to be a determined media effort to isolate and ostracize the family, publicly harassing many who associate with them.

Sodiqov attributes the government’s timing to presidential elections next year, recent violence that authorities blame on Islamists, and fear that Rahmon’s political opponents are drawing inspiration from the Arab Spring. “This development is further proof that the regime is not ready to tolerate any kind of political dissent, particularly if it comes from religious leaders and groups,” said Sodiqov.

For Heathershaw, the mosque closure confirms “there is no possibility for dialogue on the place of Islam in Tajikistan.”

“Government policy is not about dialogue or diversity, it is about imposing its very narrow vision of Islam on society,” he said. “This,” he added, “will push more pious or divergent Muslims out of public life” – that is, underground, where observers fear they are more likely to become radicalized.