Quote of the Day: Glenn Greenwald

If you’re faced with this question — should President X have the power to impose Punishment Y on Bad Person Z? — and you answer in the affirmative based on your adoration for or trust in current President X, or your belief in the wisdom and justness of Punishment Y in the specific proposed case, or your acute scorn for Bad Person Z, you’re actually doing much more than ratifying this power in a single instance, even if that’s the limit of your intention. Whether desired or not, you’re affirming — and entrenching — the legitimacy of the principle itself, ensuring that this power will be exploited in ways you can’t control. When enshrined without checks, the endorsed punishment power will inevitably — necessarily — endure, and even grow, beyond the reign of the leader you trust to future leaders you don’t, and will be applied against not only those you believe are deserving of it but those you know are not.

— Glenn Greenwald (Salon), referring to “limitless, secret surveillance, and torture, and due-process-free and oversight-less citizen assassinations ordered in the dark, and indefinite detention, and extra-judicial killings carried out by drones”

Quote of the Day: Glenn Greenwald

The U.S. has long had Iran virtually encircled as a result of the American occupation of Afghanistan on Iran’s Eastern border, its invasion of Iraq on its Western border, its NATO ally Turkey hovering on Iran’s Northwestern border, some degree of military relationship with Turkmenistan on Iran’s Northeastern border, and multiple U.S. client states sitting right across the Persian Gulf (Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain, where the massive U.S. Fifth Fleet is stationed). Additionally, some combination of the U.S. and Israel has bombarded Iran with multiple acts of war over the last year, including explosions on Iranian soil, the murder of numerous Iranian nuclear scientists (in which even one of their wives was shot), and sophisticated cyberattacks… In the past decade, the U.S. and/or Israel have invaded, air attacked, and/or occupied Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya, Lebanon, Sudan, Syria, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (to say nothing of the creation of a worldwide torture regime, a system of “black site” prisons around the world to which people were disappeared, and a due-process-free detention camp in the middle of the Caribbean Ocean where many people remain encaged for almost a full decade without charges). During this same time period, Iran has not invaded, occupied or air attacked anyone. Iran, to be sure, is domestically oppressive, but no more so — and in many cases less — than the multiple regimes funded, armed and otherwise propped up by the U.S. during this period. Those are all just facts.

But — despite all of these facts — all Serious people in the U.S. know that Iran is the Aggressor, the Modern Nazis, a True Menace, while the U.S. and Israel are its innocent peace-loving victims.

— Glenn Greenwald (Salon)

What to Read on the Fall of Muammar al-Gaddafi

The Libya War Argument — Glenn Greenwald

[Gaddafi’s] demise [tells] us very little about the key questions surrounding the war: how many civilians…died and [will] die in the future? What [will] be required to stabilize [Libya]? How much more fighting [will] be unleashed? What precedents did the attack set? What regime [will] replace [Gaddafi] and what type of rule [will] it impose, and to whom [will] its leaders be loyal?

Of course the U.S. participation in [the Libya] war is still illegal. It’s illegal because it was waged for months not merely without Congressional approval, but even in the face of a Congressional vote against its authorization. That NATO succeeded in defeating the Mighty Libyan Army does not have the slightest effect on that question, just as Saddam’s capture told us nothing about the legality or wisdom of that war.

[The] real toll of this war (including the number of civilian deaths that have occurred and will occur) is still almost entirely unknown, and none of the arguments against the war (least of all the legal ones) are remotely resolved by [Gaddafi’s fall from power].

History Repeats Itself, with Mistakes of Iraq Rehearsed Afresh — Robert Fisk

No one is going to make the same mistakes we made in Iraq. And no boots are on the ground. No walled-off, sealed-in Green Zone Western zombies are trying to run the future Libya. “It’s up to the Libyans,” has become the joyful refrain of every State Department/ Foreign Office/Quai d’Orsay factotum. Nothing to do with us!

But, of course, the massive presence of Western diplomats, oil-mogul representatives, highly paid Western mercenaries and shady British and French servicemen — all pretending to be “advisers” rather than participants — is the Benghazi Green Zone. There may (yet) be no walls around them but they are, in effect, governing Libya through the various Libyan heroes and scallywags who have set themselves up as local political masters. We can overlook the latters’ murder of their own commanding officer — for some reason, no one mentions the name of Abdul Fatah Younes any more, though he was liquidated in Benghazi only a month ago — but they can only survive by clinging to our Western umbilicals.

How to Avoid Bush’s Iraq Mistakes in Libya — Juan Cole

  1. No Western infantry or armored units should be stationed in the country.
  2. As much as possible of the current bureaucracy, police and army should be retained.
  3. Some Libyans are complaining about the prospect of retaining the same police as in the old regime, and want local security committees instead. A compromise would be to establish a strong civilian oversight over police,
  4. Avoid being vindictive toward former Qaddafi supporters, and avoid purging all but the top officials from the body politic.
  5. Avoid a rush to privatize everything.
  6. Consult with Norway about how it is possible for an oil state to remain a democracy.
  7. Use the Alaska dividend system to share the oil wealth with Libya’s 6.5 million people.
  8. Democratization and economic growth cannot be attained through oil exports alone. …use the petroleum receipts to promote other industries and services.
  9. Recognize Berber as a national language.
  10. Once it gets on its feet socially and economically, Libya should go forward with bruited plans to get into solar and wind energy big time.

Obama’s NATO War for Oil in Libya — Robert Dreyfuss

[The] rebel leader who heads the opposition Libyan oil company, which was formed with support from the Arab Gulf kleptocrats, says that Libya’s new leaders, a combination of wealthy defectors, tribal chieftains, and Islamists, plan to favor their NATO backers when handing out access to Libya’s oil.

Helpfully, the Times points out: “Colonel Qaddafi proved to be a problematic partner for international oil companies, frequently raising fees and taxes and making other demands. A new government with close ties to NATO may be an easier partner for Western nations to deal with.”

 

What to Read on the Bin Laden Assassination

The Cost of Bin Laden: $3 Trillion Over 15 Years — Tim Fernholz & Jim Tankersley

What do we have to show for that tab? Two wars that continue to occupy 150,000 troops and tie up a quarter of our defense budget; a bloated homeland-security apparatus that has at times pushed the bounds of civil liberty; soaring oil prices partially attributable to the global war on bin Laden’s terrorist network; and a chunk of our mounting national debt, which threatens to hobble the economy unless lawmakers compromise on an unprecedented deficit-reduction deal.
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All of that has not given us, at least not yet, anything close to the social or economic advancements produced by the battles against America’s costliest past enemies.

What If Bin Laden Had Stood Trial? — Robert Lambert

[The] war on terror lost moral authority and became a gift to al-Qaida propagandists. The fact that the most effective counterterrorism is always closely focused on the prosecution of terrorist conspirators appeared to be of no concern in the Pentagon or Whitehall.

The Osama bin Laden Exception — Glenn Greenwald

The Allied powers could easily have taken every Nazi war criminal they found and summarily executed them without many people caring. But they didn’t do that, and the reason they didn’t is because how the Nazis were punished would determine not only the character of the punishing nations, but more importantly, would set the standards for how future punishment would be doled out.

Surveillance, Not Waterboarding, Led to Bin Laden — Spencer Ackerman

[Waterboarding] and other abusive techniques failed to get the name out of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Abu Faraj al-Libbi. A New York Times account has both men claiming not to know even the courier’s nom de guerre, which actually may have counted as a kind of confirmation by omission in this case. That says something about the limits of brute force in interrogation.

Torture May Have Slowed Hunt for Bin Laden, Not Hastened It — Dan Froomkin

It now appears likely that several detainees had information about a key al Qaeda courier — information that might have led authorities directly to bin Laden years ago. But subjected to physical and psychological brutality, “they gave us the bare minimum amount of information they could get away with to get the pain to stop, or to mislead us…”

What to Read on Libya

False Pretense for War in Libya? — Alan J. Kuperman

The president claimed that intervention was necessary to prevent a “bloodbath”’ in Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city and last rebel stronghold.

The best evidence that Khadafy did not plan genocide in Benghazi is that he did not perpetrate it in the other cities he had recaptured either fully or partially — including Zawiya, Misurata, and Ajdabiya, which together have a population greater than Benghazi.

Libya: Another Neocon War — David Swanson

The United States was in the business of supplying weapons to Gaddafi up until the moment it got into the business of supplying weapons to his opponents. In 2009, Britain, France and other European states sold Libya over $470m-worth of weapons. Our wars tend to be fought against our own weapons, and yet we go on arming everyone. The United States can no more intervene in Yemen or Bahrain or Saudi Arabia than in Libya. We are arming those dictatorships. In fact, to win the support of Saudi Arabia for its “intervention” in Libya, the US gave its approval for Saudi Arabia to send troops into Bahrain to attack civilians, a policy that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton publicly defended.

The “humanitarian intervention” in Libya, meanwhile, whatever civilians it may have begun by protecting, immediately killed other civilians with its bombs and immediately shifted from its defensive justification to attacking retreating troops and participating in a civil war.

Mission Transformation in Libya — Glenn Greenwald

Whatever one thinks about this war limited humanitarian intervention on the merits, this is not the mission that Obama cited when justifying America’s involvement. It’s the opposite: “broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake” v. “so long as Gaddafi is in power, Nato and its coalition partners must maintain their operations.”

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