zaterdag 18 mei 2013

Entire World As Battlefield

Het land fungeerde…. decennialang als ordebewaker en politieagent – om maar te zwijgen van alle hulp die het uitdeelde.

Geert Mak. Reizen zonder John. 2012

VIDEO: From Boston to Pakistan, Pentagon Officials Claim Entire World is a Battlefield

Pentagon officials today claimed President Obama and future presidents have the power to send troops anywhere in the world to fight groups linked to al-Qaeda, based in part on the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), passed by Congress days after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Speaking at the first Senate hearing on rewriting the AUMF, Pentagon officials specifically said troops could be sent to Syria, Yemen and the Congo without new congressional authorization. Michael Sheehan, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, predicted the war against al-Qaeda would last at least 10 to 20 more years. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) challenged the Pentagon’s interpretation of the Constitution and that the entire world is a battlefield. "This is the most astounding and most astoundingly disturbing hearing I’ve been to since I’ve been here. You guys have essentially rewritten the Constitution here today," King said. "You guys have invented this term 'associated forces' that’s nowhere in this document. ... It’s the justification for everything, and it renders the war powers of Congress null and void."
This excerpt of the hearing includes Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC); Robert Taylor, acting general counsel, Department of Defense; Michael Sheehan, assistant secretary of defense for special operations/low-intensity conflict, Department of Defense; and Sen. Angus King (I-Maine).
SENLINDSEY GRAHAM: Do you agree with me, the war against radical Islam, or terror, whatever description you like to provide, will go on after the second term of President Obama?
MICHAEL SHEEHAN: Senator, in my judgment, this is going to go on for quite a while, and, yes, beyond the second term of the president.
SENLINDSEY GRAHAM: And beyond this term of Congress?
MICHAEL SHEEHAN: Yes, sir. I think it’s at least 10 to 20 years.
SENLINDSEY GRAHAM: So, from your point of view, you have all of the authorization and legal authorities necessary to conduct a drone strike against terrorist organizations in Yemen without changing the AUMF.
MICHAEL SHEEHAN: Yes, sir, I do believe that.
SENLINDSEY GRAHAM: You agree with that, General?
SENLINDSEY GRAHAM: General, do you agree with that?
SENLINDSEY GRAHAM: OK. Could we send military members into Yemen to strike against one of these organizations? Does the president have that authority to put boots on the ground in Yemen?
ROBERT TAYLOR: As I mentioned before, there’s domestic authority and international law authority. At the moment, the basis for putting boots on the ground in Yemen, we respect the sovereignty of Yemen, and it would—
SENLINDSEY GRAHAM: I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about: Does he have the legal authority under our law to do that?
ROBERT TAYLOR: Under domestic authority, he would have that authority.
SENLINDSEY GRAHAM: I hope that Congress is OK with that. I’m OK with that. Does he have authority to put boots on the ground in the Congo?
MICHAEL SHEEHAN: Yes, sir, he does.
SENLINDSEY GRAHAM: OK. Do you agree with me that when it comes to international terrorism, we’re talking about a worldwide struggle?
MICHAEL SHEEHAN: Absolutely, sir. [inaudible]
SENLINDSEY GRAHAM: Would you agree with me the battlefield is wherever the enemy chooses to make it?
MICHAEL SHEEHAN: Yes, sir, from Boston to the FATA [the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan].
SENLINDSEY GRAHAM: I couldn’t agree with you more. We’re in a—do you agree with that, General?
BRIGGENRICHARD GROSS: Yes, sir. I agree that the enemy decides where the battlefield is.
SENLINDSEY GRAHAM: And it could be anyplace on the planet, and we have to be aware and able to act. And do you have the ability to act, and are you aware of the threats?
MICHAEL SHEEHAN: Yes, sir. We do have the ability to react, and we are tracking threats globally.
SENLINDSEY GRAHAM: From my point of view, I think your analysis is correct, and I appreciate all of your service to our country.
SENCARL LEVIN: Senator King.
SENANGUS KING: Gentlemen, I’ve only been here five months, but this is the most astounding and most astoundingly disturbing hearing that I’ve been to since I’ve been here. You guys have essentially rewritten the Constitution here today. The Constitution, Article I, Section 8, Clause 11, clearly says that the Congress has the power to declare war. This—this authorization, the AUMF, is very limited. And you keep using the term "associated forces." You use it 13 times in your statement. That is not in the AUMF. And you said at one point, "It suits us very well." I assume it does suit you very well, because you’re reading it to cover everything and anything. And then you said, at another point, "So, even if the AUMF doesn’t apply, the general law of war applies, and we can take these actions." So, my question is: How do you possibly square this with the requirement of the Constitution that the Congress has the power to declare war?
This is one of the most fundamental divisions in our constitutional scheme, that the Congress has the power to declare war; the president is the commander-in-chief and prosecutes the war. But you’re reading this AUMF in such a way as to apply clearly outside of what it says. Senator McCain was absolutely right: It refers to the people who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks on September 11. That’s a date. That’s a date. It doesn’t go into the future. And then it says, "or harbored such organizations"—past tense—"or persons in order to prevent any future acts by such nations, organizations or persons." It established a date.
I don’t disagree that we need to fight terrorism. But we need to do it in a constitutionally sound way. Now, I’m just a little, old lawyer from Brunswick, Maine, but I don’t see how you can possibly read this to be in comport with the Constitution and authorize any acts by the president. You had testified to Senator Graham that you believe that you could put boots on the ground in Yemen now under this—under this document. That makes the war powers a nullity. I’m sorry to ask such a long question, but my question is: What’s your response to this? Anybody?
MICHAEL SHEEHAN: Senator, let me take the first response. I’m not a constitutional lawyer or a lawyer of any kind. But let me talk to you a little—take a brief statement about al-Qaeda and the organization that attacked us on September 11, 2001. In the two years prior to that, Senator King, that organization attacked us in East Africa and killed 17 Americans in our embassy in Nairobi, with loosely affiliated groups of people in East Africa. A year prior to 9/11, that same organization, with its affiliates in Yemen, almost sunk a U.S. ship, the U.S.S. Cole, a billion-dollar warship, killed 17 sailors in the port of Aden. The organization that attacked us on 9/11 already had its tentacles in—around the world with associated groups. That was the nature of the organization then; it is the nature of the organization now. In order to attack that organization, we have to attack it with those affiliates that are its operational arm that have previously attacked and killed Americans, and at high-level interests, and continue to try to do that.
SENANGUS KING: That’s fine, but that’s not what the AUMF says. You can—you can—what I’m saying is, we may need new authority, but don’t—if you expand this to the extent that you have, it’s meaningless, and the limitation in the war power is meaningless. I’m not disagreeing that we need to attack terrorism wherever it comes from and whoever is doing it. But what I’m saying is, let’s do it in a constitutional way, not by putting a gloss on a document that clearly won’t support it. It just—it just doesn’t—it just doesn’t work. I’m just reading the words. It’s all focused on September 11 and who was involved, and you guys have invented this term "associated forces" that’s nowhere in this document. As I mentioned, in your written statement, you use that—that’s the key term. You use it 13 times. It’s the justification for everything. And it renders the war powers of the Congress null and void. I don’t understand. I mean, I do understand you’re saying we don’t need any change, because the way you read it, you can—you could do anything. But why not say—come back to us and say, "Yes, you’re correct that this is an overbroad reading that renders the war powers of the Congress a nullity; therefore, we need new authorization to respond to the new situation"? I don’t understand why—I mean, I do understand it, because the way you read it, there’s no limit. But that’s not what the Constitution contemplates.


Glenn Greenwald 3

Het beter voor Nederland en de internationale gemeenschap dat Obama de verkiezingen wint. 
Geert Mak. EO-Radio. 6 november 2012

Washington Gets Explicit: Its 'War On Terror' Is Permanent

By  (about the author)

OpEdNews Op Eds 

Source: The Guardian

Senior Obama officials tell the US Senate: the "war," in limitless form, will continue for "at least" another decade -- or two 

Michael Sheehan, assistant defense secretary for special operations and low-intensity conflict. (Photo Department of Defense)

Last October, senior Obama officials anonymously unveiled to the Washington Post their newly minted "disposition matrix," a complex computer system that will be used to determine how a terrorist suspect will be "disposed of": indefinite detention, prosecution in a real court, assassination-by-CIA-drones, etc. Their rationale for why this was needed now, a full 12 years after the 9/11 attack:
"Among senior Obama administration officials, there is a broad consensus that such operations are likely to be extended at least another decade. Given the way al-Qaida continues to metastasize, some officials said no clear end is in sight. . . . That timeline suggests that the United States has reached only the midpoint of what was once known as the global war on terrorism."
On Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on whether the statutory basis for this "war" -- the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) -- should be revised (meaning: expanded). This is how Wired's Spencer Ackerman (soon to be the Guardian US's national security editor) described the most significant exchange:
"Asked at a Senate hearing today how long the war on terrorism will last, Michael Sheehan, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, answered, 'At least 10 to 20 years.' . . . A spokeswoman, Army Col. Anne Edgecomb, clarified that Sheehan meant the conflict is likely to last 10 to 20 more years from today -- atop the 12 years that the conflict has already lasted. Welcome to America's Thirty Years War."
That the Obama administration is now repeatedly declaring that the "war on terror" will last at least another decade (or two) is vastly more significant than all three of this week's big media controversies (Benghazi, IRS, and AP/DOJ) combined. The military historian Andrew Bacevich has spent years warning that US policy planners have adopted an explicit doctrine of "endless war." Obama officials, despite repeatedly boasting that they have delivered permanently crippling blows to al-Qaida, are now, as clearly as the English language permits, openly declaring this to be so.
It is hard to resist the conclusion that this war has no purpose other than its own eternal perpetuation. This war is not a means to any end but rather is the end in itself. Not only is it the end itself, but it is also its own fuel: it is precisely this endless war - justified in the name of stopping the threat of terrorism - that is the single greatest cause of that threat.

In January, former Pentagon general counsel Jeh Johnson delivered a highly-touted speech suggesting that the war on terror will eventually end; he advocated that outcome, arguing:
"'War' must be regarded as a finite, extraordinary and unnatural state of affairs. We must not accept the current conflict, and all that it entails, as the 'new normal.'"

In response, I wrote that the "war on terror" cannot and will not end on its own for two reasons: (1) it is designed by its very terms to be permanent, incapable of ending, since the war itself ironically ensures that there will never come a time when people stop wanting to bring violence back to the US (the operational definition of "terrorism"), and (2) the nation's most powerful political and economic factions reap a bonanza of benefits from its continuation. Whatever else is true, it is now beyond doubt that ending this war is the last thing on the mind of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner and those who work at the highest levels of his administration. Is there any way they can make that clearer beyond declaring that it will continue for "at least" another 10-20 years?
The genius of America's endless war machine is that, learning from the unplesantness of the Vietnam war protests, it has rendered the costs of war largely invisible. That is accomplished by heaping all of the fighting burden on a tiny and mostly economically marginalized faction of the population, by using sterile, mechanized instruments to deliver the violence, and by suppressing any real discussion in establishment media circles of America's innocent victims and the worldwide anti-American rage that generates.
Though rarely visible, the costs are nonetheless gargantuan. Just in financial terms, as Americans are told they must sacrifice Social Security and Medicare benefits and place their children in a crumbling educational system, the Pentagon remains the world's largest employer and continues to militarily outspend the rest of the world by a significant margin. The mythology of the Reagan presidency is that he induced the collapse of the Soviet Union by luring it into unsustainable military spending and wars: should there come a point when we think about applying that lesson to ourselves?
Then there are the threats to Americans' security. Having their government spend decades proudly touting itself as "A Nation at War," and bringing horrific violence to the world is certain to prompt more and more people to want to attack Americans, as the US government itself claims took place just recently in Boston (and as clearly took place multiple other times over the last several years).
And then there's the most intangible yet most significant cost: each year of endless war that passes further normalizes the endless rights erosions justified in its name. The second term of the Bush administration and first five years of the Obama presidency have been devoted to codifying and institutionalizing the vast and unchecked powers that are typically vested in leaders in the name of war. Those powers of secrecy, indefinite detention, mass surveillance, and due-process-free assassination are not going anywhere. They are now permanent fixtures not only in the US political system but, worse, in American political culture.
Each year that passes, millions of young Americans come of age having spent their entire lives, literally, with these powers and this climate fixed in place: to them, there is nothing radical or aberrational about any of it. The post-9/11 era is all they have been trained to know. That is how a state of permanent war not only devastates its foreign targets but also degrades the population of the nation that prosecutes it.
This war will end only once Americans realize the vast and multi-faceted costs they are bearing so that the nation's political elites can be empowered and its oligarchs can further prosper. But Washington clearly has no fear that such realizations are imminent. They are moving in the other direction: aggressively planning how to further entrench and expand this war.
One might think that if there is to be a debate over the 12-year-old AUMF, it would be about repealing it. Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who heroically cast the only vote against it when it was originally enacted by presciently warning of how abused it would be, has been advocating its repeal for some time now in favor of using reasonable security measures to defend against such threats and standard law enforcement measures to punish them (which have proven far more effective than military solutions). But just as happened in 2001, neither she nor her warnings are deemed sufficiently Serious even to consider, let alone embrace.
Instead, the Washington AUMF "debate" recognizes only two positions: (1) Congress should codify expanded powers for the administration to fight a wider war beyond what the 2001 AUMF provides (that's the argument recently made by the supreme war-cheerleaders-from-a-safe-distance at the Washington Post editorial page and their favorite war-justifying think tank theorists, and the one being made by many Senators from both parties), or (2) the administration does not need any expanded authority because it is already free to wage a global war with very few limits under the warped "interpretation" of the AUMF which both the Bush and Obama DOJs have successfully persuaded courts to accept (that's the Obama administration's position). In other words, the shared premise is that the US government must continue to wage unlimited, permanent war, and the only debate is whether that should happen under a new law or the old one.
Just to convey a sense for how degraded is this Washington "debate": Obama officials at yesterday's Senate hearing repeatedly insisted that this "war" is already one without geographical limits and without any real conceptual constraints. The AUMF's war power, they said, "stretches from Boston to the [tribal areas of Pakistan]" and can be used "anywhere around the world, including inside Syria, where the rebel Nusra Front recently allied itself with al-Qaida's Iraq affiliate, or even what Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called 'boots on the ground in Congo.'" The acting general counsel of the Pentagon said it even "authorized war against al-Qaida's associated forces in Mali, Libya and Syria." Newly elected independent Sen. Angus King of Maine said after listening to how the Obama administration interprets its war powers under the AUMF:

"This is the most astounding and most astoundingly disturbing hearing that I've been to since I've been here. You guys have essentially rewritten the Constitution today."
Former Bush DOJ official Jack Goldsmith, who testified at the hearing, summarized what was said after it was over: Obama officials argued that "they had domestic authority to use force in Mali, Syria, Libya, and Congo, against Islamist terrorist threats there"; that "they were actively considering emerging threats and stated that it was possible they would need to return to Congress for new authorities against those threats but did not at present need new authorities"; that "the conflict authorized by the AUMF was not nearly over"; and that "several members of the Committee were surprised by the breadth of DOD's interpretation of the AUMF."
Conveying the dark irony of America's war machine, seemingly lifted right out of the Cold War era film Dr. Strangelove, Goldsmith added:
"Amazingly, there is a very large question even in the Armed Services Committee about who the United States is at war against and where, and how those determinations are made."
Nobody really even knows with whom the US is at war, or where. Everyone just knows that it is vital that it continue in unlimited form indefinitely.
In response to that, the only real movement in Congress is to think about how to enact a new law to expand the authorization even further. But it's a worthless and illusory debate, affecting nothing other than the pretexts and symbols used to justify what will, in all cases, be a permanent and limitless war. The Washington AUMF debate is about nothing other than whether more fig leafs are needed to make it all pretty and legal.
The Obama administration already claims the power to wage endless and boundless war, in virtually total secrecy, and without a single meaningful check or constraint. No institution with any power disputes this. To the contrary, the only ones which exert real influence -- Congress, the courts, the establishment media, the plutocratic class -- clearly favor its continuation and only think about how further to enable it. That will continue unless and until Americans begin to realize just what a mammoth price they're paying for this ongoing splurge of war spending and endless aggression.
Related mattersAlthough I'm no fan of mindless partisan hackery, one must acknowledge, if one is to be honest, that sometimes it produces high comedy of the type few other afflictions are capable of producing.
On a related note: when Attorney General Eric Holder spoke about the DOJ's subpoeas for AP's phone records -- purportedly issued in order to find the source for AP's story about a successfully thwarted terror attack from Yemen - he made this claim about the leak they were investigating: "if not the most serious, it is within the top two or three most serious leaks that I have ever seen."
But yesterday, the Washington Post reported that CIA officials gave the go-ahead to AP to report the story, based in part on the fact that the administration itself planned to make a formal announcement boasting of their success in thwarting the plot. Meanwhile, the invaluable Marcy Wheeler today makes a strong case that the Obama administration engaged in a fear-mongering campaign over this plot that they knew at the time was false -- all for the purpose of justifying the president's newly announced "signature drone strikes" in Yemen.
The key lesson from all of this should have been learned long ago: nothing is less reliable than unchecked claims from political officials that their secret conduct is justified by National Security Threats and the desire to Keep Us Safe.

For the past 10 years, I was a litigator in NYC specializing in First Amendment challenges, civil rights cases, and corporate and securities fraud matters. I am the author of the New York Times Best-Selling book, more...)

Reizen zonder John

Ik vind Friedman altijd wel leuk om te lezen, lekker upbeat, hij is zo’n man die altijd wel een gat ziet om een probleem op te lossen.
Geert Mak in Humo. 21 augustus 2012

"Het Land fungeerde… decennialang als ordebewaker en politieagent".

Zie het citaat van Thomas Friedman onderaan dit artikel: The Sick Madness of Tom Friedman's Culture.

The Sick Madness of Tom Friedman's Culture

Thomas Friedman
NYT's Friedman
New York Times columnist Tom Friedman doesn't understand how on earth the Boston bombers could rationalize their act of violence–and believes that some aspects of Muslim culture must answer for it.
According to reports of the interrogation of  Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the brothers weremotivated in part by the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And this has the Timescolumnist scratching his head about the problem with Muslims: 
This is a popular meme among radical Muslim groups, and, to be sure, some Muslim youths were deeply angered by the U.S. interventions in the Middle East. The brothers Tsarnaev may have been among them.
But what in God’s name does that have to do with planting a bomb at the Boston Marathon and blowing up innocent people? It is amazing to me how we've come to accept this non sequitur and how easily we've allowed radical Muslim groups and their apologists to get away with it.
A simple question: If you were upset with U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, why didn't you go out and build a school in Afghanistan to strengthen that community or get an advanced degree to strengthen yourself or become a math teacher in the Muslim world to help its people be less vulnerable to foreign powers? Dzhokhar claims the Tsarnaev brothers were so upset by something America did in a third country that they just had to go to Boylston Street and blow up people who had nothing to do with it (some of whom could have been Muslims), and too often we just nod our heads rather than asking: What kind of sick madness is this?
Friedman goes on to claim that we "must ask a question only Muslims can answer," which is: "What is going on in your community that a critical number of your youth believes that every American military action in the Middle East is intolerable and justifies a violent response?"
It is worth asking questions about how different communities or societies react to violence. After the 9/11 attacks, the United States bombed and occupied Afghanistan, based on the argument that the government of that country had tolerated the presence of Al-Qaeda and thus must bear the retribution. As a result, many thousands of people who had nothing to do with terrorism were killed. 
Or on to the invasion of Iraq, which was sold as part of a "Global War on Terror" following the 9/11 attacks as well, even though there was never a connection between Iraq and the terrorist attacks. So why did the United States invade Iraq? Tom Friedman explained it to Charlie Rose on May 30, 2003.
To Friedman, there was a "terrorist bubble" in that part of the world, and "we needed to go over there and take out a very big stick…and there was only one way to do it." He added:
What they needed to see was American boys and girls going house to house, from Basra to Baghdad, and basically saying: "Which part of this sentence don't you understand? You don't think, you know, we care about our open society, you think this bubble fantasy, we're just gonna to let it grow? Well, Suck. On. This." That, Charlie, is what this war is about. We could have hit Saudi Arabia; it was part of that bubble. Could have hit Pakistan. We hit Iraq because we could.
 What kind of sick madness is this?

vrijdag 17 mei 2013

Geert Mak en de Kroning van 2013 (19)

I believe that if we had and would keep our dirty, bloody, dollar-soaked fingers out of the business of these nations so full of depressed, exploited people, they will arrive at a solution of their own—and if unfortunately their revolution must be of the violent type because the ‘haves’ refuse to share with the ‘have-nots’ by any peaceful method, at least what they get will be their own, and not the American style, which they don't want and above all don't want crammed down their throats by Americans… America has become a militaristic and aggressive nation.
David Monroe Shoup, Commandant of the Marine Corps. 1966

De visie van generaal Shoup, wiens kritiek door historici wordt beschouwd ‘to be among the most pointed and high-profile leveled by a veteran against the Vietnam War,’ wijkt fundamenteel af van de conclusie van de journalist Geert Mak’s boek Reizen zonder John dat de VS overal ter wereld ‘decennialang als ordebewaker en politie agent [fungeerde].’ Mak heeft het hierbij over de geschiedenis van na de Tweede Wereldoorlog. Maar we hebben al gezien dat wat betreft de jaren 1945 tot 2000 zijn bewering in strijd is met de feiten. En voordat we situatie van na 2000 gaan behandelen wijs ik erop dat ook voorafgaand aan de Tweede Wereldoorlog de VS geenszins een ‘ordebewaker’ was, tenminste als we het begrip ‘orde’  niet tot het absurde oprekken, want ander zou men ook het nazisme een ‘orde’ kunnen noemen. Hoe dan ook, de situatie voorafgaand aan 1939 werd helder verwoord door een andere 'Commandant' van het Amerikaanse Korps Mariniers, Smedley Butler, die in 1933 over de Amerikaanse agressie het volgende zei:

War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.

I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we'll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.

I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.

There isn't a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its "finger men" to point out enemies, its "muscle men" to destroy enemies, its "brain men" to plan war preparations, and a "Big Boss" Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.

It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty- three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country's most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle- man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.

I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.

I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.

During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.

Aangezien de Amerikaanse economische en daarmee geopolitieke belangen sinds ’45 alleen maar zijn toegenomen, mag duidelijk zijn dat het er steeds meer op lijkt dat Mak propaganda bedrijft. Om te zien of deze conclusie juist is, dienen we ook nog de situatie sinds de millennium wisseling te onderzoeken. Is de VS na 2000 ineens de ‘ordebewaker’ van de wereld geworden? Laten we beginnen met Afghanistan. In mijn boek 11 september. het keerpunt citeer ik de Volkskrant van dinsdag 4 oktober 2001:

Nederland heeft dinsdag in de NAVO-raad vergeefs bedenktijd gevraagd om het bewijsmateriaal over de betrokkenheid van Bin Laden bij de aanslagen in de VS te bestuderen. NAVO-ambassadeur Patijn kreeg nul op het rekest. Volgens diplomaten in Brussel beschikken de VS niet over harde bewijzen tegen Bin Laden, hooguit over sterke aanwijzingen... Patijn vroeg dinsdag op verzoek van minister Van Aartsen van Buitenlandse Zaken een uur bedenktijd nadat de Amerikaanse gezant Frank Taylor de NAVO-raad bewijzen had overlegd van de betrokkenheid van Bin Laden bij de terroristische aanslagen. Ook enkele andere landen, waaronder Luxemburg, vroegen om een ‘stilteprocedure’ [...]

Volgens goed geinformeerde bronnen wees NAVO-chef Robertson het verzoek meteen af met de woorden dat een NAVO-bondgenoot om onvoorwaardelijk vertrouwen vroeg en dat dit onverwijld gehonoreerd moest worden... Het "bewijs" tegen Bin Laden dat Taylor de NAVO-raad presenteerde, zou in een rechtszaal nooit standhouden... Dit stellen diplomaten en ambtenaren bij de NAVO en ministers van Buitenlandse Zaken die de presentatie bijwoonden. [...]

Bij de NAVO brengen diplomaten daar tegenin dat ‘we op dit moment geen rechtzaak aan het voeren zijn. Dus juridisch spijkerhard hoeft het ook niet te zijn. We staan voor een politiek besluit, dat politieke argumenten behoeft. En die hebben we voldoende gekregen,’ meent een diplomaat ... Dat is ook het verweer van de Amerikaanse regering. ‘Het is niet terecht om een puur juridisch criterium te hanteren,’ zegt een Amerikaanse functionaris... De Amerikaanse regering wil de beschikbare gegevens niet openbaar maken.

De weigering om de ‘beschikbare gegevens’ te geven is niet verbazingwekkend, want inmiddels is al geruime tijd duidelijk dat er geen enkel hard ‘bewijs’ is dat Osama bin Laden achter de aanslagen van 11 september 2001 zat.

Here is a surprising but little-known fact, because it has scarcely been reported in the mainstream media: The FBI’s ‘Most Wanted Terrorist’ webpage on ‘Usama bin Laden’ does not list the 9/11 attacks as one of the crimes for which he is wanted. It does list bombings in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi as terrorist acts for which he is wanted. But it makes no mention of 9/11.10 In 2006, Rex Tomb, then the FBI’s chief of investigative publicity, was asked why not. He replied: ‘The reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on Usama Bin Laden’s Most Wanted page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11.’

Het cynisme van de Amerikaanse geopolitieke terreur tegen een soeverein land is grenzeloos. In 1998 verklaarde Zbigniew Brzezinski, de Nationale Veiligheids Adviseur onder president Carter tegenover het Franse weekblad Le Nouvel Observateur dat de Verenigde Staten voorafgaand aan 1980 de voormalige Sovjet Unie bewust had geprovoceerd om Afghanistan binnen te vallen door in het geheim islamitische extremisten in dat land financieel en militair te steunen, waardoor ze een gewapende strijd tegen de pro-sovjet regering konden beginnen. Op de vraag of hij daar nu geen spijt van had, antwoordde Brzezinski:

Spijt waarover? Die geheime operatie was een uitstekend idee. Het had als resultaat dat de Russen in de Afghaanse val trapten en wil je dat ik dat betreur? De dag dat de Sovjets officieel de grens waren over gestoken, schreef ik aan president Carter, in essentie: ‘We hebben nu de gelegenheid om de USSR zijn eigen Vietnam Oorlog te geven.’

Deze Amerikaanse strategie kostte aan een miljoen Afghanen het leven, maakte drieënhalf miljoen Afghanen tot vluchteling en verwoeste de infrastructuur van het toch al arme land, waar volgens de officiele CIA-cijfers meer dan de helft van de bevolking onder de armoedegrens leeft. En nadat de Sovjet-troepen zich hadden moeten terugtrekken, liet de Verenigde Staten Afghanistan weer vallen om het ruim een decennium later zelf aan te vallen met als argument dat Osama bin Laden het meesterbrein was achter de aanslagen van 11 september 2001 en zich in Afghanistan verschuilde. Tegen de zin van Afghanistan zelf, nam de NAVO de Amerikaanse bezetting van het land naderhand over. Dat Afghanistan hierop tegen was is een feit dat door de westerse mainstream verzwegen wordt.

Het zal iedere onafhankelijke waarnemer duidelijk zijn dat al heel lang een doortrapt geopolitiek spel wordt gespeeld over de ruggen van de Afghaanse bevolking, met als gevolg miljoenen slachtoffers in een land dat een onvoorstelbare chaos is geworden, waarbij krijgsheren aan de touwtjes trekken onder schijnbare leiding van de corrupte president Hamid Karzai, een voormalige ingehuurde adviseur van de Amerikaanse oliemaatschappij Unocal, die door het modehuis Gucci tot de best geklede staatsman ter wereld is uitgeroepen. De slechtst vermomde marionet op aarde is nu de salonfähige icoon van het ‘nieuwe democratische Afghanistan.’
Amerikaanse soldaten die de opiumvelden ongestoord laten.
Nadat de Afghaanse bondgenoten, de krijgsheren die financieel en militair door het Westen worden gesteund, aan de macht hadden geholpen, steeg volgens de Verenigde Naties de opiumproduktie in Afghanistan razendsnel, waardoor het land nu meer dan 90 procent produceert van de grondstof voor heroine, bron van een handel die onze krijgsheren schatrijk maakt, en die de Taliban de fondsen oplevert om wapens te kunnen kopen, zoals de Amerikaanse autoriteiten zelf verklaren.

Afghanistan has been the greatest illicit opium producer in the entire world, ahead of Burma (Myanmar), the Golden Triangle’, and Latin America since 1992, excluding the year 2001. [1] Afghanistan is the main producer of opium in the ‘Golden Crescent’.  Opium production in Afghanistan has been on the rise since U.S. occupation started in 2001. Based on UNODC data, there has been more opium poppy cultivation in each of the past four growing seasons (2004–2007) than in any one year during Taliban rule. Also, more land is now used for opium in Afghanistan than for coca cultivation in Latin America. In 2007, 92% of the non-pharmaceutical-grade opiates on the world market originated in Afghanistan. [2] This amounts to an export value of about $4 billion, with a quarter being earned by opium farmers and the rest going to district officials, insurgents, warlords, and drug traffickers. [3] In the seven years (1994–2000) prior to a Taliban opium ban, the Afghan farmers' share of gross income from opium was divided among 200,000 families. [4] In addition to opiates, Afghanistan is also the largest producer of cannabis (mostly as hashish) in the world.[5][6]

Afghanistan: Troops Guarding the Poppy Fields

Hoe is het te verklaren dat de westerse mainstream journalistiek, de ‘Europa-deskundigen,’ de ‘Amerika-deskundigen,’ de westerse opiniemakers en de westerse politici hier geen serieus onderzoek naar doen? Hoe komt het dat de VS met, volgens Geert Mak, ‘voortreffelijke informatiesystemen’ en ‘briljante strategen en politieke analisten’ de Taliban indirect bewapent door de uitgestrekte papervelden niet te vernietigen? En vanwaar de ‘conspiracy of silence’ van de mainstream opiniemakers?

UN: Afghan opium poppy cultivation up 18 percent
By HEIDI VOGT | Associated Press – Tue, Nov 20, 2012 10:18 AM EST

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP)… Afghanistan is the world's largest producer of opium, the raw ingredient in heroin, providing about 80 percent of the global crop. Crop sales fund insurgents and criminal gangs in Afghanistan, making it difficult for the Afghan government to establish control in areas where the economy is driven by black-market opium sales.

Farmers planted 154,000 hectares of opium poppy in 2011, up from the 131,000 in 2011.

‘An increase of 18 percent is a serious alarm signal. It is a wakeup call,’ said Jean-Luc Lemahieu, head of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime in Afghanistan, which prepared the report along with the Afghan Counternarcotics Ministry.

Het mag dan wel een ‘serious alarm signal’ zijn voor drugsbestrijders, maar geenszins voor de NAVO, onder aanvoering van Washington, die de uitgestrekte papavervelden niet bombardeert met napalm of met een ontbladeringsmiddel zoals de Amerikanen in Vietnam op grote schaal deden, of met  herbiciden, zoals ze nu nog steeds doen met de coca-velden in Zuid Amerika. Waarom treedt men niet op? Sinds de illegale Amerikaanse en Britse inval in 2001 is volgens de United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) de productie van opium in Afghanistan van 185 ton omhoog geschoten naar 5800 ton in 2011, een bijna verdertigvoudiging, terwijl het land doorkruist wordt door westerse militairen en Nederlandse instructeurs er de politie opleiden. Ondertussen bericht  het UNODC al jarenlang dat:

the Taliban and other anti-government forces are making massive amounts of money from the drug business. In Afghanistan, authorities impose a charge (called ushr) on economic activity, traditionally set at 10% of income. Opium farming may have generated $50-$70 million of such income in 2008. Furthermore, levies imposed on opium processing and trafficking may have raised an additional $200-$400 million. 'With so much drug-related revenue, it is not surprising that the insurgents' war machine has proven so resilient, despite the heavy pounding by Afghan and allied forces', said the Executive Director of UNODC, Antonio Maria Costa.

Dit feit is onomstreden en wordt door zowel Amerikaanse generals, de CIA, de DEA als Amerikaanse Congresleden keer op keer gemeld. Desondanks ondernemen de NAVO onder leiding van de Amerikaanse strijdkrachten niets hiertegen. Sterker nog:

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army has investigated 56 soldiers in Afghanistan on suspicion of using or distributing heroin, morphine or other opiates during 2010 and 2011, newly obtained data shows. Eight soldiers died of drug overdoses during that time.

While the cases represent just a slice of possible drug use by U.S. troops in Afghanistan, they provide a somber snapshot of the illicit trade in the war zone, including young Afghans peddling heroin, soldiers dying after mixing cocktails of opiates, troops stealing from medical bags and Afghan soldiers and police dealing drugs to their U.S. comrades.

In a country awash with poppy fields that provide up to 90 percent of the world’s opium, the U.S. military struggles to keep an eye on its far-flung troops and monitor for substance abuse.  Photos of U.S. and Afghan Troops Patrolling Poppy Fields June 2012  
Harvesting opium in Afghanistan, while Americans protect Afghan warlords.
Zaterdag 23 juni 2007 berichtte de Volkskrant: ’Nederlanders klem tussen opium mafia en Taliban.’ Het Nederlandse leger en luchtmacht vochten voor president Karzai en tegen een van de sleutelfiguren in het drugsnetwerk in Afghanistan, zijn vijf jaar jongere broer, Achmed Karzai.

Nieuw record opiumproductie met dank aan Afghanistan 


De opiumproductie is vorig jaar wereldwijd tot een nieuwe recordhoogte gestegen, vooral door een toename van ongeveer 49 procent in Afghanistan. Dat zegt het in Wenen gevestigde VN-Bureau voor Drugs en Misdaad in een dinsdag verschenen jaarverslag. Het VN-bureau verwacht een verdere toename in het lopende jaar. Opium is het belangrijkste bestanddeel van heroïne. De productie in Afghanistan nam vorig jaar toe van 4.100 ton naar 6.100 ton. Het Afghaanse aandeel in de wereldwijde productie steeg van 52 procent in 1990 en 70 procent in 2000 tot maar liefst 92 procent in 2006. Het areaal voor de verbouw van papaver – de bloem die de grondstof levert voor opium – groeide in Afghanistan van 104 duizend hectare in 2005 tot 165 duizend hectare in 2006, een toename van 59 procent. De papaverteelt in Afghanistan concentreert zich in het zuiden, voornamelijk in de provincie Helmand.

Overigens is de connectie tussen oorlog en drugs geen nieuw fenomeen zoals de Amerikaanse historicus Alfred W. McCoy in Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia al in 1972 aantoonde:

Its most groundbreaking feature was its documentation of CIA complicity and aid to the Southeast Asian opium/heroin trade; along with McCoy’s Congressional testimony, its initially controversial thesis has gained a degree of mainstream acceptance. The central idea is that at the time, the vast majority of heroin produced was produced in the Golden Triangle, from which:

‘It is transported in the planes, vehicles, and other conveyances supplied by the United States. The profit from the trade has been going into the pockets of some of our best friends in Southeast Asia. The charge concludes with the statement that the traffic is being carried on with the indifference if not the closed-eye compliance of some American officials and there is no likelihood of its being shut down in the foreseeable future.’[2]

Air America, which was covertly owned and operated by the CIA, was used for this transport, in particular. At the same time, the heroin supply was partly responsible for the parlous state of US Army morale in Vietnam: ‘By mid 1971 Army medical officers were estimating that about 10 to 15 per cent… of the lower ranking enlisted men serving in Vietnam were heroin users.’[3]

Having interviewed Maurice Belleux, former head of the French SDECE intelligence agency, Mc Coy also uncovered parts of the French Connection scheme, as the French military agency had financed all of its covert operations, during the First Indochina War, from its control of the Indochina drug trade [4].

Oorlog maakt dit allemaal mogelijk en vernietigt meer dan alleen de landen waarin het uitgevochten wordt. De Vietnamoorlog bijvoorbeeld heeft het drugsprobleem in het Westen vergroot, en het succes van een wereldwijd opererende mafia, van wie de miljarden nu in de officiele economie circuleert en alles besmet, heeft ook een kongsi van gangsters en corrupte ambtenaren gesmeed die hun eigen ongecontroleerde politiek uitvoert, en het westerse militair industriele complex nog machtiger gemaakt. En dat proces wordt nu alleen maar gestimuleerd, vooral nu met heroinegeld de illegale wapenhandel wordt gefinancierd. Ook de wapens voor de guerrilla moeten immers betaald worden.

De Amerikaanse terreur in Afghanistan, van het aan de macht houden van gangsters tot het urineren over gedode Afghanen werd opgevolgd door de Amerikaanse terreur van Abu Ghraib tot de de inzet van fosfor in de stad Fallujah. Tien jaar na het begin van de illegale Amerikaanse en Britse inval in Irak is de algemene opinie dat de westerse agressie in Irak een van de grootste politieke rampen is sinds 1945. Zo schreef de Amerikaanse journalist Chris Floyd 16 maart 2013 onder de kop ‘Barbarian Rhapsody: Ten Years Deeper Into Hell’ het volgende:

All forms of political media -- in print, on line, on the air -- have been awash in recent weeks with retrospectives on the tenth anniversary of the American-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Amidst the mountainous heap of drivel and falsehood such an occasion inevitably produces among the vast and vapid army of analysts who happily spend their days chewing the cud of whatever happens to be the conventional wisdom of the day, there have been a few outstanding pieces that put this continuing war crime in stark perspective.

One of the better short pieces I've seen on the subject comes from -- of all people -- an actual Iraqi. Sami Ramadani, a dissident forced into exile by Saddam, has been one of the most insightful observers -- and vociferous opponents -- of the atrocities inflicted on his country by Western elites and their local collaborators (including, of course, for many decades, Saddam Hussein). From the Guardian:

Ten years on from the shock and awe of the 2003 Bush and Blair war – which followed 13 years of murderous sanctions, and 35 years of Saddamist dictatorship – my tormented land, once a cradle of civilisation, is staring into the abyss.

Wanton imperialist intervention and dictatorial rule have together been responsible for the deaths of more than a million people since 1991. And yet, according to both Tony Blair and the former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright, the ‘price is worth it’. Blair, whom most Iraqis regard as a war criminal, is given VIP treatment by a culpable media. Iraqis listen in disbelief when he says: ‘I feel responsibility but no regret for removing Saddam Hussein.’ (As if Saddam and his henchmen were simply whisked away, leaving the people to build a democratic state). It enrages us to see Blair build a business empire, capitalising on his role in piling up more Iraqi skulls than even Saddam managed.

As an exile, I was painfully aware of Saddam's crimes, which for me started with the disappearance from Baghdad's medical college of my dearest school friend, Hazim. The Iraqi people are fully aware, too, that Saddam committed all his major crimes while an ally of western powers. On the eve of the 2003 invasion I wrote this for the Guardian:

‘In Iraq, the US record speaks for itself: it backed Saddam's party, the Ba'ath, to capture power in 1963, murdering thousands of socialists, communists and democrats; it backed the Ba'ath party in 1968 when Saddam was installed as vice-president; it helped him and the Shah of Iran in 1975 to crush the Kurdish nationalist movement; it increased its support for Saddam in 1979…helping him launch his war of aggression against Iran in 1980; it backed him throughout the horrific eight years of war (1980 to 1988), in which a million Iranians and Iraqis were slaughtered, in the full knowledge that he was using chemical weapons and gassing Kurds and Marsh Arabs; it encouraged him in 1990 to invade Kuwait…; it backed him in 1991 when Bush [senior] suddenly stopped the war, exactly 24 hours after the start of the great March uprising that engulfed the south and Iraqi Kurdistan…’

But when it was no longer in their interests to back him, the US and UK drowned Iraq in blood.

…We haven't even counted the dead yet, let alone the injured, displaced and traumatised. Countless thousands are still missing. Of the more than 4 million refugees, at least a million are yet to go back to their homeland, and there still about a million internal refugees. On an almost daily basis, explosions and shootings continue to kill the innocent. … Lack of electricity, clean water and other essential services continues to hit millions of impoverished and unemployed people, in one of the richest countries on the planet. Women and children pay the highest price. Women's rights, and human rights in general, are daily suppressed.

And what of democracy, supposedly the point of it all? The US-led occupying authorities nurtured a ‘political process’ and a constitution designed to sow sectarian and ethnic discord. Having failed to crush the resistance to direct occupation, they resorted to divide-and-rule to keep their foothold in Iraq. Using torture, sectarian death squads and billions of dollars, the occupation has succeeded in weakening the social fabric and elevating a corrupt ruling class that gets richer by the day, salivating at the prospect of acquiring a bigger share of Iraq's natural resources, which are mostly mortgaged to foreign oil companies and construction firms.

Warring sectarian and ethnic forces, either allied to or fearing US influence, dominate the dysfunctional and corrupt Iraqi state institutions, but the US embassy in Baghdad – the biggest in the world – still calls the shots. Iraq is not really a sovereign state, languishing under the punitive Chapter VII of the UN charter.

Yes, it has certainly been, as Barack Obama memorably characterized it, a ‘remarkable achievement.’ It is also, more and more, a forgotten ‘achievement.’ America's amnesia regarding the war crime in Iraq and its continuing ramifications -- not only the repression and death still going on there, but also the catastrophic impact of this atrocity on America itself, including the tsunami of suicide, homelessness and PTSD among its soldiers, and the back-breaking costs of this orgy of corruption and war-profiteering -- is indeed remarkable. It is no longer a reality -- a living, anguished, ongoing human tragedy -- but simply fodder for commentary, for partisan point-scoring, for barroom blather. This has always been the case with our misbegotten wars of imperial domination (for an especially acute and egregious example of our chronic amnesia, see this review of Nick Turse's new book, Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam), going back to the 19th century. And the "paradigm-changing" iadvent of the internet has done nothing to change that; despite today's easy access to unprecedented levels of information about the realities of the Iraq war (and other high crimes and atrocities), the amnesia and willful ignorance remains as profound as ever.

So here we are. Ten years on from the frenzied paroxysm (or was it an orgasm?) of mass violence -- which was itself the culmination of years of the bipartisan war-by-sanctions that American officials have openly acknowledged killed more than half a million Iraqi children -- what is the central "moral" issue of our national politics today? This once-unimaginable, horribly depraved and obscene question: Should the president be allowed to murder any American citizen he chooses, or should there perhaps be be some kind of secret Congressional oversight of the secret killing program? (The idea of restricting the president's power to kill any filthy foreigner he chooses is not in question anywhere in our national politics, of course; Rand Paul wasn't filibustering against that idea. No, any debate on the ‘ethics’ of state murder is restricted to its application to Americans, who, as we know, are the only fully human beings on the face of the earth.)

Given the current trajectory of our plunge into barbarism, I predict that in just a few years we'll be ‘debating’ whether the president has the right to stick the severed heads of ‘terrorists’ on spikes outside the White House, or if the heads should be passed around discreetly to members of the relevant Senate committees before being dumped in the ocean.

Amerikaanse 'ordebewakers' urineren op dode Afghanen.

Kortom, wat blijft er over van Mak’s bewering dat de VS sinds 1945

decennialang als ordebewaker en politie agent [fungeerde]?

Niets, helemaal niets, zoals we ook kunnen constateren in de jaren na 2000. Mak’s conclusie in zijn bestseller Reizen zonder John, waarin hij volgens eigen zeggen ‘Op zoek naar Amerika’ was, is niets anders dan propaganda. Blijft over de vraag waarom de opiniemaker Geert Mak de werkelijkheid niet beschrijft en zijn omvangrijke mainstreampubliek daar geen behoefte aan heeft. Maar maandag eerst een blik op de komende jaren. Wat plannen de Amerikaanse militairen voor de toekomst van de mensheid? In elk geval: het beschermen van de belangen van de rijke elite en daar hoeft het parlement niet eens aan te pas te komen zoals uit het volgende blijkt:

NATO Defence Chiefs Discuss Afghanistan, Partnerships And Transformation

(May 15, 2013)

NATO Chiefs of Defence reaffirmed their commitment to support the ISAF Commander over the next 19 months, which will be crucial in determining the outcome of the mission.

The Military Committee also discussed opportunities to deepen military-to-military cooperation with NATO Partners. Delving into transformation, they expressed support for ongoing and future initiatives, particularly Smart Defence and the Connected Forces, to achieve best value for money while building on lessons learned from operations.

As the Alliance approaches the completion of the ISAF campaign, NATO’s mission in Afghanistan is entering a new phase. Its primary role is changing from combat to support.

'NATO and Partner Chiefs of Defence acknowledge the increased capability of the Afghan National Security Forces to provide security for their country,' said General Knud Bartels, Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee.

'Transition therefore remains on track and our assessment is on the whole positive,' stressedthe General. NATO Chiefs of Defence also discussed Afghanistan post-2014 and the new mission, Resolute Support. 'We made good progress and details on the Concept of Operations for the new mission will be finalized in the coming weeks, ready for the Defence Ministers to discuss next month,' the Chairman said.

En terwijl spreekbuizen van de macht als Geert Mak blijven beweren dat de VS 'de ordebewaker' is in de wereld zal het grote publiek, dat zijn boeken verslindt, niet snel op de hoogte zijn van wat er werkelijk gebeurt en kunnen de leiders van de 'vitale democratie,' zoals Mak de VS kwalificeeert, ongestoord doorgaan om genocide mogelijk te maken.

Throughout the duration of the Ríos Montt dictatorship, his regime was the bloodiest on the American continent. Why did the world permit his brutality, and why did it take more than 30 years to successfully prosecute him? His genocidal campaigns, in full view to the world, were committed in real time.

The simple answer is the actions - and inactions - of US President Ronald Reagan, the man who provided cover for every tin-pot dictator on the continent. A better answer is the preeminence of "America," with its mythological foundation and narrative. The best answer is the actions - or rather, inertia - of the citizens of the United States of America. It is we who permitted the atrocities of not simply this dictator, but all the military dictators on the continent during that bloodthirsty era.

The majority of US voters put Reagan in office, not once, but twice ... and then rewarded his imperial reign by subsequently electing his vice president, Papa Bush, into office. And then he got airports, freeways and buildings named after him.

Former Congressman Dennis Kucinich recently called for a truth and reconciliation commission to investigate how the United States got itself into Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan (plus Yemen and Somalia). That would be an important step. However, before it takes place, a commission must be created to examine the US role in Central America, primarily in the 1980s, which resulted in the deaths and disappearances of hundreds of thousands of civilians from Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras. All these wars were financed by US tax dollars. All those ruthless dictators and their leading military officers were trained by the US military. Yet in Reagan-speak, the United States was simply spreading democracy (with heavy weaponry) in Central America - the same goal Bush claimed in launching the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And from a Reagan-based perspective, the hundreds of thousands of Central American victims were little brown people whose lives were irrelevant.

In Ríos Montt, we see the legacy of Reagan's World. During Guatemala's 36-year civil war, which officially ended in 1996, more than 200,000 of its citizens were killed. Tens of thousands more of its citizens were disappeared, brutalized and tortured. Indigenous (Mayan) peoples paid the heaviest price, with entire villages being razed and women routinely subjected to rape as a component of military strategy.

During the time of Ríos Montt and a long line of dictators before and after him, the military engaged in both genocidal and brutal anti-insurgent campaigns that targeted educators, student activists, catechists, religious and union organizers – anyone not in government who was deemed to have leadership qualities or potential, and anyone deemed to be supporting the guerrilla movement.

Ondertussen blijft de 'conspiracy of silence' van de westerse mainstream opiniemakers als Mak volop in werking. Een voorbeeld:

4 maart 2000 wees Denis Halliday, de voormalige VN-coordinator van het Humanitaire Programma in Irak het Westerse publiek erop dat wij de mensenrechten in Irak op grote schaal schenden. Na uit protest te zijn opgestapt verklaarde hij in The Guardian:

Ik had de opdracht gekregen om een politiek te voeren die voldoet aan de definitie van genocide: een bewust beleid dat in feite meer dan een miljoen individuen, kinderen en volwassenen, heeft vermoord. We weten allemaal dat het regime, Saddam Hoessein, de prijs voor de economische sancties niet betaalt… Het zijn de gewone mensen die hun kinderen verliezen of hun ouders door gebrek aan gezuiverd water. Duidelijk is dat de Veiligheids Raad momenteel zijn boekje te buiten gaat, want zijn acties ondermijnen hier het eigen handvest… De geschiedenis zal de verantwoordelijken afstraffen.

Mei 1996 verscheen de toenmalige Amerikaanse ambassadrice bij de VN, Madeleine Albright, in het befaamde CBS programma '60 Minutes' Haar werd een reactie gevraagd op een VN-rapport waarin melding werd gemaakt van het feit dat als gevolg van de sancties en de Amerikaanse en Britse bombardementen die de infrastructuur volledig hadden verwoest, meer dan een half miljoen Irakese kinderen onder de vijf jaar om het leven was gekomen. De programmamaakster voegde eraan toe: 'Dat zijn meer kinderen dan in Hiroshima stierven… Is het de prijs waard?' Albright antwoordde: 'Wij denken dat het de prijs waard is.' Toen programmamaakster Lesley Stahl aandrong en de ambassadrice vroeg of de Amerikaanse regering 'zelfs met de hongerdood' van kleuters akkoord ging, rechtvaardigde Albright deze genocidale politiek met de opmerking:
Weet je Lesley… het is moeilijk voor mij om dit te zeggen, want ik ben een humaan mens, maar mijn eerste verantwoordelijkheid is om ervoor te zorgen dat Amerikaanse troepen niet weer opnieuw de Golfoorlog hoeven uit te vechten.

Nog geen zes maanden na haar uitspraak werd Madeleine Albright bevorderd tot minister van buitenlandse zaken. Vier jaar later confronteerde de Australische journalist John Pilger de Amerikaanse onderminister van buitenlandse zaken James Rubin met haar uitspraak. Zijn reactie kwam erop neer dat Pilger te 'idealistisch' was. 'Bij het uitvoeren van politiek beleid moet men een keuze maken tussen twee kwaden… en helaas zijn de gevolgen van de sancties groter dan we gehoopt hadden,' aldus Rubin. Hij adviseerde Pilger niet zo naïef te zijn omdat er nu eenmaal een 'echte wereld' bestaat waar 'werkelijke keuzes moeten worden gemaakt.'

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