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Uganda: A Brilliant Genocide

Counterpunch

by Ann Garrison

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One hundred million people around the world watched the viral video “Kony 2012.” Its evangelical Christian producers’ mission was to proselytize for the use of U.S. Special Forces to help Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni hunt down warlord Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).  Despite huge support from the U.S. political establishment and various celebrities, the producers were finally guffawed off the world stage after the video’s release. One of the best parodies was the Artist Taxi Driver’s “You say get Kony I say get Tony #kony2012 #tonyblair2012.”

Nevertheless, more U.S. troops went to Uganda in 2012, reportedly as advisors to the Ugandan army, a longstanding U.S. proxy force. More have gone since, and U.S. and Ugandan troops have set up outposts in South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, all in the name of fighting the infamous Kony, whom “Kony 2012” likened to Osama bin Laden. Despite all that, Kony’s still free – if he’s still alive. The idea that a modern army, with the most advanced weaponry, intelligence, and surveillance tech, has not been able to find him and his spent force of jungle fighters is preposterous. As Dr. Vincent Magombe said in Ebony Butler’s new documentary film, “A Brilliant Genocide”:  “America is part of the problem of Africa right now. The Americans know very well that Kony is not the problem. Where the oil wells are, the American troops are there and the government in power. It doesn’t matter whether that government is Museveni killing his own people. It’s not democratic, but he is a friend.”

A Brilliant Genocide” tells the story of the Acholi Genocide that President Yoweri Museveni and his army committed against the Acholi people during their 20 year war and occupation of the Acholi homeland in northern Uganda, from 1986 to 2006.  Museveni waged that war in the name of fighting Kony and claimed to be protecting the Acholi, not destroying them. The U.S. turned a blind eye and continued to build up its Ugandan proxy force. “Despite this appalling and shocking human rights abuse,” Ugandan American publisher Milton Allimadi says in the film, “the Ugandan military machine continued to be financed without any interruption from the United States.”

Museveni’s troops eventually drove nearly two million Acholi people, 90% of the population, into concentration camps to, he said, protect them from Kony and the LRA. The camp living quarters were traditional mud huts with thatched roofs, but they were tightly clustered together in a way that was not traditional at all. The Museveni government then failed to provide food, water, sanitation, or health care. In 2005, the World Health Organization reported that 1000 Acholi were dying every week of violence and disease – above all malaria and AIDS. That was, they reported, 1000 beyond normal mortality rates.

This huge and lengthy displacement caused more death and destruction than the war itself. All the elements of Acholi society – farming, education, gender relations, and family life – were broken. In the camps, the previously self-sufficient Acholi became completely dependent on the UN World Food Program.

Ugandan soldiers raped both men and women, spreading HIV in the camps, but President George Bush lauded President Yoweri Museveni for his success at HIV prevention.  Anyone who has been concerned by all the Western press about Uganda’s homophobia and its Anti-Homosexuality Act should see both “A Brilliant Genocide” and “Gender Against Men” to understand how much more complex the country’s attitudes towards same gender sexual relations – including rape – really are.

The camps were finally disbanded in 2012 and the surviving Acholi returned to their land, but now they are facing land grabs, including those by Museveni and his partner in mechanized agriculture.

What did the U.S. gain by ignoring the Acholi Genocide as it built the Ugandan army into a proxy force? 

In 1990, as the genocide continued in Northern Uganda, a battalion of the Ugandan army led by General Paul Kagame invaded Rwanda. After a four-year war and the assassination of the Rwandan and Burundian presidents, Kagame’s army overthrew the Rwandan government and established a de facto Tutsi dictatorship, which falsely claims to have ended competition between the Hutu and Tutsi populations. The last 100 days of that war included the massacres that came to be known as the Rwandan Genocide, which most of the world knows as the oversimplified, decontextualized story told in the movie “Hotel Rwanda.”

This radically mis-told story of the Rwandan Genocide has since become a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy. We’re forever told that we have to start another war to stop genocide and mass atrocities or – in shorthand – to stop “the next Rwanda,” as in Libya, Syria, and more recently, Burundi, and whatever unlucky nation may be next. Few have heard of the Acholi Genocide because it exposes the shameless U.S. foreign policy of supporting and enabling dictator Yoweri Museveni ever since he came to power in 1986. We’re never told that we have to stop “the next Acholi Genocide” or “the next Uganda.”

Beginning in 1996, Rwanda and Uganda invaded the hugely resource rich Democratic Republic of the Congo, enabled by U.S. weapons, logistics and intelligence. They expelled Congolese President Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997 and replaced him with Laurent Kabila. When Laurent Kabila raised an independent head and expelled Rwandan and Ugandan soldiers, Rwanda and Uganda invaded Congo again and replaced him with his more compliant adopted son Joseph Kabila. Today, after the death of millions in the First and Second Congo Wars, Rwanda and Uganda continue to commit atrocities and plunder eastern Congolese resources. Right now 60 people a month are being massacred in Beni Territory, but the world isn’t much more likely to hear about that than about the Acholi Genocide.

Most Westerners are far more likely to have noticed the Western press – and Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International – shrieking that there’s another Tutsi genocide pending in Burundi, even though the violence in Burundi is nowhere near as horrific as that in Beni, and many of those assassinated in Burundi have been top officials in the Hutu-led government. The U.S. and its allies want to take down the government of Burundi, so they keep sounding alarms that it’s plotting genocide, that we have to stop another genocide or “the next Rwanda.” They’re not sounding the same alarms about Beni because the elimination of its population would facilitate their longstanding agenda of breaking up the Democratic Republic of the Congo, as they broke up Yugoslavia and South Sudan.

The U.S. has used Ugandan troops to serve its agenda not only in nations bordering Uganda but also in Somalia and elsewhere on the African continent, as coordinated by AFRICOM, the U.S. Africa Command. It has even used Ugandan troops in its own assaults on Iraq and Afghanistan.

When anyone, including Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International, says that we have to invade another sovereign nation to stop genocide and mass atrocities, they should be reminded of the horrendous Acholi Genocide that the U.S. enabled, or of the massacres going on in Beni Territory, Democratic Republic of the Congo, right now. These are only two examples of mass atrocities that the U.S. has committed or facilitated because they or their perpetrators, like Museveni, serve U.S. interests.

RT will air “A Brilliant Genocide” on October 1st.

 

[Ann Garrison is an independent journalist who also contributes to the San Francisco Bay View, Global Research, the Black Agenda Report and the Black Star News, and produces radio for KPFA-Berkeley and WBAI-New York City.  In 2014, she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize by the Womens International Network for Democracy and Peace.  She can be reached at ann@afrobeatradio.com.]

Standing with Syria

Black Agenda Report

September 13, 2016

There is only one question now: when will America tell its minions to stop fighting?

American and NATO aggressions must be opposed wherever they surface in the world. That statement ought to be the starting point for anyone calling themselves left, progressive, or anti-war. Of course the aggressors always use a ruse to diminish resistance to their wars of terror. In Syria and elsewhere they claim to support freedom fighters, the moderate opposition and any other designation that helps hide imperialist intervention. They label their target as a tyrant, a butcher, or a modern day Hitler who commits unspeakable acts against his own populace. The need to silence opposition is obvious and creating the image of a monster is the most reliable means of securing that result.

The anti-war movement thus finds itself confused and rendered immobile by this predictable propaganda. It is all too easily manipulated into being at best ineffectual and at worst supporters of American state sponsored terror.

For five years the United States, NATO, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Qatar and Turkey have given arms and money to terrorist groups in an effort to topple Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Some of those bad actors felt flush with success after overthrowing and killing Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. They had high hopes of picking off another secular Arab government. Fortunately, Assad was hard to defeat and the barbarians cannot storm the gates. Most importantly, Russia stopped giving lip service to Assad and finally provided military support to the Syrian government in 2015.

American presidents, beginning with Jimmy Carter, have all used jihadists at opportune moments when they want regime change.”

The United States government is responsible for the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Syria. The so-called barrel bomb doesn’t kill more people than conventional weapons provided by the United States and its puppets. There would not be bombs of any kind, sieges, starving children, or refugees if the Obama administration had not given the green light to the rogues gallery.

Whatever their political beliefs or feelings about Assad, Syrians did not ask the United States to turn their country into a ruin. They don’t want ISIS to behead children, as they infamously did on camera. American presidents, beginning with Jimmy Carter, have all used jihadists at opportune moments when they want regime change. The name of the country under attack changes but the story ends with massive human suffering.

Instead of siding unequivocally with America’s victims some in the anti-war movement instead live in greater fear of being labeled “pro Assad.” Assad didn’t invade Iraq and kill one million people. George W. Bush did that. Assad did not give support to jihadists to destroy Libya, kill 50,000 people, ignite a race war and create another refugee crisis. Barack Obama did that. The list of human rights abuses carried out by the American government is a long one indeed. There is torture in the United States prison system, the largest in the world. American police are given tacit permission to kill three people every day. Yet the fear of being thought of as an Assad supporter is so powerful that it silences people and organizations who should be in the forefront of confronting their country domestically and internationally.

Of course American propaganda is ratcheted up at the very moment that sides must be chosen. Any discussion or debate regarding Syria’s political system was rendered moot as soon as the United States targeted that country for destruction. There is only one question now: when will America tell its minions to stop fighting?

The fear of being thought of as an Assad supporter is so powerful that it silences people and organizations who should be in the forefront of confronting their country domestically and internationally.

Obama didn’t start a proxy war with an expectation of losing, and Hillary Clinton makes clear her allegiance to regime change. The United States will only leave if Syria and its allies gain enough ground to force a retreat. They will call defeat something else at a negotiating table but Assad must win in order for justice and reconciliation to begin.

Focusing on Assad’s government and treatment of his people may seem like a reasonable thing to do. Most people who call themselves anti-war are serious in their concern for humanity. But the most basic human right, the right to survive, was taken from 400,000 people because the American president decided to add one more notch on his gun. Whether intended or not, criticism of the victimized government makes the case for further aggression.

The al-Nusra Front may change its name in a public relations effort, but it is still al Qaeda and still an ally of the United States. The unpredictable Donald Trump may not be able to explain that he spoke the truth when he accused Obama and Clinton of being ISIS supporters, but the anti-war movement should be able to explain without any problem. Cessations of hostilities are a sham meant to protect American assets whenever Assad is winning. If concern for the wellbeing of Syrians is a paramount concern, then the American anti-war movement must be united in condemning their own government without reservation or hesitation.

 

[Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as athttp://freedomrider.blogspot.com. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.]

Impunity International

Wrong Kind of Green

May 4, 2016

by Jay Taber

 

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Many so-called ‘peace and justice’ centers in the United States are still oblivious to the ongoing betrayal of human rights by Amnesty International (AI), which—like Human Rights Watch– has become increasingly corrupt over the past two decades. This brief overview is intended to help dispel the mistaken notion that AI is sacrosanct, and to prompt the pious poseurs–that comprise the purity networks in the US–to begin basing their policies, programs and associations on facts, rather than on outdated fantasies about the Human Rights Industrial Complex.

In order to transition from these preconceived fantasies to research-based reality regarding human rights, these ‘peace and justice’ centers will need to reorient themselves to doing research related to digital Netwar, rather than reflexively responding to press releases by Amnesty International, or to the social media propaganda by AI public relations associates Avaaz and Purpose. Until these local nodes of ostensibly noble causes do research, they will remain a notably unconscious milieu—infantile consumers, rather than informed and engaged citizens.

AI

In 1991, Amnesty International eagerly acquiesced to the $11 million Wag the Dog public relations campaign–devised for the Pentagon by the Hill & Knowlton PR firm–to generate support for the US invasion of Iraq, and in 2012, AI was an enthusiastic cheerleader in support of the escalated bombing of Afghanistan by NATO.

In 2015, Amnesty International–in one of the most egregious examples of the nihilism that now characterizes the human rights industry–endorsed the organized crime initiative to freely engage in human trafficking of women and children for sex slavery through the decriminalization of the prostitution industry–rather than choosing to support the Nordic model of decriminalizing the victims, but not the perpetrators.

 

Amnesty International Document

Ken Roth Comment

In 2015-2016 Amnesty International supported–and continues to support—US and NATO military aggression in countries like Libya and Syria, which is bolstered by the public relations campaigns of Avaaz and Purpose–Wall Street-funded marketing agencies with deep ties to the very heart of the military industrial complex. By unthinkingly supporting AI, these ‘peace and justice’ centers become complicit in these war crimes and crimes against humanity.

 

 

 

[Jay Thomas Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and journalists defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted Indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations.]

 

Further reading on AI

http://www.wrongkindofgreen.org/?s=amnesty+international

 

 

 

Fog of War

Public Good Project

March 18, 2016

by Jay Taber

 

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War fog by Marc Manigrasso

 

In Smart Power & The Human Rights Industrial Complex, Patrick Henningsen reveals ‘perception management’ by the NGO sector as ‘co-marketing’ of foreign policy objectives of the US State Department, Pentagon and NATO. As Henningsen notes, leading human rights organizations — such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch — “have become virtual clearinghouses for interventionist propaganda”.

Says Henningsen, in the Balkans, Ukraine, Syria and Yemen — where they supported regime change — “NGOs function as public relations extension to a United Nations western member Security Council bloc, namely the US, UK and France”. To successfully frame geopolitical narratives on which these NGOs derive their fundraising campaigns, the lucrative revolving door between NGOs, government and media “converge to form a highly efficient, functioning alliance”.

Underwritten by some of the world’s leading transnational corporations, these organizations have well-developed links “leading straight into the heart of the military industrial complex”. Blinded by the fog of mass media and bombarded with faux moral imperatives, public opinion is led by these NGOs into supporting western-backed rebels and terrorists “under the banner of ‘human rights’.”

 

 

 

[Jay Thomas Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, a correspondent to Forum for Global Exchange, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and journalists engaged in defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations. Email: tbarj [at] yahoo.com Website:www.jaytaber.com]

Smart Power & The Human Rights Industrial Complex

UK Column

March 15, 2016

by Patrick Henningsen

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Human rights in the West: does the reality live up to the rhetoric? On the surface, the cultural narrative seems innocent enough: billionaire philanthropists, political luminaries and transnational corporations, along with legions of staff and volunteers – all working together in the name of social justice, forging a better, fairer and more accountable world.

The story reads well on paper, and well it should. After all, the 20th century saw a string of failures by various governments to curb and halt some of the most horrific exhibitions of genocide and crimes against humanity. The door has been opened for many charities and human rights organizations to play a bigger role in moderating international affairs. Upon more rigorous inspection, however, what emerges is one of the most unfortunate realities of 21st century geopolitics. Though many human rights charities still market themselves as ‘neutral’ and ‘nonpartisan’, the reality is something very different. With public skepticism at an all-time high, the danger is clear: if conflicts of interest are not addressed in a serious way, they threaten to undermine the credibility of the entire non-governmental organization (NGO) sector internationally.

One difficult aspect in analyzing this struggle for ‘perception management’ is that most human rights and aid organizations are staffed and run by good, hard-working and extremely well-educated individuals, many of whom carry out their roles with an altruistic heart and with the best of intentions. For the most part, many remain unaware or uninterested in who actually funds their organisations and what those financial strings mean in terms of the what a given organisation’s stance will be on any range of geopolitical issues or military conflicts. It’s certainly true that over the years, sincere and dedicated campaigning by organisations has helped to free individuals who where unjustly imprisoned and achieved due process and justice for the dispossessed. It’s also true that many of these same organizations have helped to raise awareness on many important social and environmental issues.

Due to increased funding from corporate interests and direct links to government and policy think tanks in recent years, these organisations have become even more politicised, and more closely connected with western ‘agents of influence.’ As a result, an argument can be made that, on many levels, these ‘human rights’ organisations may be contributing to the very problem they profess to be working to abate: causing more suffering, death and instability worldwide through their co-marketing of the foreign policy objectives of Washington, London, Paris and Brussels.

The problem is both systemic and institutional in nature. As a result, many of the western world’s leading human rights organizations based in North America and Europe have become mirror reflections of a western foreign policy agenda and have become virtual clearing houses for interventionist propaganda.

Writer Stephanie McMillan describes the new role of the non governmental organizations in the 21st century:

Along with military invasions and missionaries, NGOs help crack countries open like ripe nuts, paving the way for intensifying waves of exploitation and extraction.

Outsourcing Consensus Building

Shaping western public perception and opinion on major international issues is essential if major world powers are to realise their foreign policy goals. Not surprisingly, we can see that many of the public positions taken by NGOs are exactly aligned with western foreign policy. In the Balkans War of the 1990’s, human rights groups supported partitioning. In the Ukraine in 2014 and with both Syria and Yemen in 2016 they supported regime change. In each instance NGOs function as public relations extension to a United Nations western member Security Council bloc, namely the US, UK and France. This collusion is manifest throughout the upper echelons of these organizations whose streamlined agenda conforms through a lucrative revolving door which exists between a cartel of western NGOs, government and media.

As western governments find themselves more heavily involved in long-term conflicts around the globe, the need to outsource their ethics and morals to NGOs becomes more apparent. Continuity between these symbiotic entities is essential if governments are to successfully frame the geopolitical narratives on which international human rights organizations so often derive their own public relations and fundraising campaigns. Together, all of these things converge to form a highly efficient, functioning alliance which could be described as a type of ‘government-media-human rights’ industrial complex.

Nowhere is this complex more evident than with the United States-led foreign policy towards Syria. By framing the Syrian Conflict (2011 to present) as a “civil war”, both western media and human rights organizations did their part in propping-up an important western foreign policy narrative. Inaccurate and distorted, this narrative has helped shield the US-led clandestine proxy war which has been allowed to carry on almost unimpeded below the surface narrative of western public perception. For mainstream US audiences, if truly known, the reality of Syria might be too much to bear – a US-backed guerrilla war where Washington and Ankara, along with NATO and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) allies, flooding Turkey and Syria with weapons, cash, equipment, social media teams, military trainers and foreign fighters from as a far away as Pakistan. When analyzed from this wider perspective, very little is ‘civil’ about the Syrian Conflict.

The Human Rights Industry

What was once a 20th century adjunct to an emerging international progressive movement has since mushroomed into a 21st century multi-billion dollar, internationalised ‘third sector’ concern – underwritten by some of the world’s leading transnational corporations. This impressive labyrinth is led by organizations like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch (HRW), and the Worldwide Human Rights Movement (FIDH). Each of these organisations has well-developed links leading directly into central governments, and perhaps more surprisingly, links leading straight into the heart of the military industrial complex. Safely cloaked under the official guise of ‘charity organisation’, many of these entities push a political agenda and effectively serve as public relations outlets for US and NATO forward military planning.

Working behind the public-facing human rights industrial complex is another key component which helps set the geopolitical agenda. Leading western governmental efforts are the White House and the US State Department. Behind the political facade, however, is where the real work takes place; a myriad of think tanks which serve as an unofficial academic-like support structure for managing policy planning, rolling out grand strategies and other big ideas. Some recognisable names in this industry are the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Brookings Institute, Heritage Foundation, American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and Foreign Policy Initiative (the heir apparent to PNAC). These think tanks and foundations are also referred to as ‘policy mills’ because of their ability to churn-out volumes of policy ‘white papers’, surveys and strategic studies which are then disseminated through various industry journals and at functions, conferences and events in Washington DC and New York City. Certain think tanks, like the Committee for Peace and Security in the Gulf, were set-up in the 1990’s to push through specific foreign policy objectives – like kick-starting the war in Iraq. Where you find a war, you most certainly will find a think tank advocating behind it.

Follow the Money

To find the common thread between think tanks, foundations and human rights charities, one needs only to follow the money.

Many of these entities receive large portions of their funding from the same sources – transnational corporations. One large contributor of annual funding for human rights organisations, including HRW, is the controversial Wall Street billionaire George Soros, through his NGO the Open Society Institute. Other human rights organisations like FIDH which draw together some 178 organizations from 120 countries, receives funding from the US State Department by way of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Here we have a direct financial link which forms a ring connecting western governments, NGOs and charities.

One can argue, and successfully, that this nexus ensures that the output, ideas and marketing messages of each leg of a human rights campaign conforms to western foreign policy language and objectives.

Smart Power: Formerly of the US State Dept., now an NGO luminary, Suzanne Nossel

Washington’s HR Revolving Door

It’s no secret that a revolving door exists between the US State Department and many of the western world’s leading human rights organisations. That relationship can be gleaned from this CFR policy paper which states:

To advance from a nuanced dissent to a compelling vision, progressive policymakers should turn to the great mainstay of twentieth-century U.S. foreign policy: liberal internationalism, which posits that a global system of stable liberal democracies would be less prone to war … Washington, the theory goes, should thus offer assertive leadership – diplomatic, economic, and not least, military – to advance a broad array of goals: self-determination, human rights, free trade, the rule of law, economic development, and the quarantine and elimination of dictators and weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

That passage, taken in the context of the Syrian conflict, reveals a stark picture of how Washington really works. It was written by Suzanne Nossel, one of Washington’s most high-profile humanitarian advocates who managed to transition seamlessly from her position as Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Organisations at the US State Department – directly into an executive director position at Amnesty International USA in 2012. Prior to the State Dept., Nossel was also served as chief operating officer for Human Rights Watch, vice president of strategy and operations at the Wall Street Journal and a media and communications consultant to CFR founding corporate member, law firm McKinsey & Company.

Here we see a powerful public relations resumé, combined with established links to Washington’s foreign policy core, and at a time where multiple Middle Eastern nations states, like Libya and Syria, were being forced into submission under the yoke of US-led international pressure. Projecting Washington’s preferred narrative is paramount in this multilateral effort and Nossel would be a key bridge in helping to project US foreign policy messaging internationally through top tier NGO Amnesty.

2012 Amnesty International USA PR campaign.

Around this time, Amnesty USA launched a new PR campaign aimed at millennials and selling the following geopolitical narrative: “NO MORE EXCUSES: Russia has vetoed two UN Security Council resolutions while continually supplying arms, causing the violence to worsen.”

This digital and print campaign was also backed by rallies and other live events used to promote their anti-Russia and Anti-Syria PR effort. At one event in 2012, young school children in Nepal could be seen holding up signs that read, “Russia: Stop Arms Transfer to Syria!”.

When you consider its mirror reflection of foreign policy lines emanating from the US State Dept., it’s easy to see how this catchy slogan had little if anything to do with human rights, but but could easily be viewed as trying to isolate both the Russian and Syrian governments geopolitically.

In truth, Amnesty’s narrative was a complete inversion: while attempting to lay the blame on Russia as being responsible for the escalation and sustained violence in Syria, the country was being over-run by tens of thousands of foreign terrorist militants, illegally trafficked weapons, along with CIA and other foreign assets, as part of the wider US-led Coalition presently waging a proxy war in Syria.

Soft Power vs Smart Power

Despite its foreign policy aspirations, the West still needs public opinion backing for any military action. While the public are none the wiser, blinded by the fog of mass media coverage and bombarded with faux moral imperatives and ‘ticking bomb’ style scenarios demanding that, “we must act now to save innocent lives” – soft power agents have provided the crucial communication bridge for most interventions.

Both media and NGOs fall under the classification of ‘soft power’, and it is this soft power complex which provides the soft cushion upon which soft-sounding foreign policies like “humanitarian intervention” and the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) can comfortably rest on in western discourse. In reality, these foreign policies are anything but soft, and in the absence of declaring war between nation states – these policies now serve as the tip of an imperialist spear. If you surveyed any of the millions of Middle Eastern residents on the receiving end of the west’s recent humanitarian interventions they will tell you it was anything but soft – especially for the people living in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Yugoslavia and Iraq.

Inside Washington’s inner sanctum, ‘soft power’ has given way to Smart Power. Indeed, it was Susan Nossel who coined the term “Smart Power” while working alongside US humanitarian hawks like Hillary Clinton, Samantha Power and Susan Rice, and also with Washington’s lesser known Atrocity Prevention Board, all of whom worked to successfully implement this new range of intervention marketing concepts including humanitarian intervention and R2P.

In this age of professionally staged colour revolutions and ‘Arab Springs’, and wars fought by proxies and front organizations – vaunted human rights organisations should really acknowledge that there are nation-states and central governments who are not long for this world, and who are literally fighting for their survival. Governments who find themselves under the western hammer cannot always afford the luxury of settling internal disputes nicely, or putting down armed rebel factions and terrorists with all affordable due process. If these rebels or terrorists are western-backed, or GCC-backed, then this condition becomes more acute. Certainly, the United States and its NATO allies, or Israel for that matter, do not afford such civility for any of its victims of collateral damage’ or during a protracted ‘humanitarian intervention’.

‘Agents of Change’ & Emotive Appeals

By now, it’s also a well-documented fact that America’s CIA and Pentagon intelligence departments have used an array of charities, aid organisations, and even religious missionary organisations as fronts for conducting espionage overseas, and with the prime directive of to further foreign policy objectives.

In recent years, however, under the banner of ‘human rights’, the US has developed some new and innovative methods of intelligence gathering and achieving an increased military footprint in new countries.

To reach these objectives, western governments enlist ‘change agents’.

No story serves as a better example of how a human rights organisation can be applied as a sharp tool of foreign policy than Kony 2012, described by the Atlantic Magazine as a viral video campaign which “reinforces a dangerous, centuries-old idea that Africans are helpless and that idealistic Westerners must save them.”

As viral social media campaigns go, Kony 2012 set a new standard for speed and efficiency in penetrating the western youth market. This effort was not with out help from mainstream corporate media in the US, and also from the US government in Washington DC.

Here, soft power was applied in order to manufacture public consent through an emotive public appeal which was eventually exposed as a gross distortion of reality. In this case, the antagonist was the illusive warlord Joseph Kony, leader of the Lords Resistance Army. According to their campaign, if the president could send a military force to “find Kony”, then many children would be saved in the process. The only problem was that no one had actually seen Kony in over 6 years, with rumors abound that Kony may even have died years earlier. This did not deter the campaign though, as organisers pressed ahead, raising millions along the way. The human rights charity which fronted the project, Invisible Children, actually targeted their viral campaign and fundraising drive at under aged American school children, and even drafted primary school students to raise money on the charity’s behalf. In the end, the project collapsed, but the ultimate objective was achieved: culminating with a successful public relations event and photo opportunity at the White House, and under cover of the Kony 2012 media campaign – President Barack Obama publicly deployed US military assets to Uganda under an expansion of US AFRICOM operations in Africa.

Trapped inside their own ideological controlled environment where every decision is a virtual fait accompli, western media and government officials will routinely refer to the human rights industry in order to provide a necessary moral back-stop for any foreign policy objective. This same practice is also repeated by the United Nations too, which often cites the very same statistics and reports used by Washington to back-up its foreign policy moves.

Independent human rights activist Rick Sterling explains this all too familiar cycle in today’s international affairs:

There is a pattern of sensational but untrue reports that lead to public acceptance of US and Western military intervention in countries around the world: In Gulf War 1, there were reports of Iraqi troops stealing incubators from Kuwait, leaving babies to die on the cold floor. Relying on the testimony of a Red Crescent doctor, Amnesty International ‘verified’ the false claims. Ten years later, there were reports of ‘yellow cake uranium’ going to Iraq for development of weapons of mass destruction. One decade later, there were reports of Libyan soldiers ‘drugged on Viagra and raping women as they advanced.’ In 2012, NBC broadcaster Richard Engel was supposedly kidnapped by ‘pro-Assad Syrian militia’ but luckily freed by Syrian opposition fighters, the “Free Syrian Army”. All these reports were later confirmed to be fabrications and lies. They all had the goal of manipulating public opinion and they all succeeded in one way or another. Despite the consequences, which were often disastrous, none of the perpetrators were punished or paid any price.

Strange Bedfellows: NATO, Amnesty and HRW

It’s no coincidence that nearly every foreign policy front the US State Department has prioritised is mirrored by Amnesty International USA. The US State Department together with the Pentagon, will also utilise social justice issues in order to advance a foreign policy objective. The most potent of these has to be gender identity politics, seen through the western lens as “woman’s rights”. By projecting this issue on to a non-favoured’ nation, western war planners can quickly construct an important leg in foreign policy messaging.

In 2012, Amnesty International USA ran a national billboard campaign with images depicting Afghan women and girls, accompanied by the slogan: “NATO: Keep the Progress Going.” Not surprisingly, at this same moment, western media were referring to NATO’s military operation in Afghanistan as “the first feminist war.” In its totality, this is one example of near perfect streamlined marketing campaign which tied together all branches of the interventionist network – the US State Department, the Pentagon, the mainstream media and Amnesty International. This cynical attempt to manipulate public opinion by Amnesty International, on behalf of the Pentagon and Brussels, could be traced back to one Amnesty patron, former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who in the 1990’s, famously remarked, “We think the price is worth it,” referring to the death of a half million Iraqi children as a result of crippling US economic sanctions.

In early 2015, Ken Roth, Director of Human Rights Watch, tweeted out an aerial image purporting to be from Kobane, Syria, showing a neighborhood reduced to rubble which he described as, “a drone’s eye tour of what Assad’s barrel bombs have done to Aleppo.” It turned out that Roth’s tweet was a forgery. The image he used was actually taken from Gaza the previous summer, showing the destruction of Palestinian neighborhoods at the hands of Israel’s IDF. This was another example of slipshod propaganda disseminated by high profile human right organization – expressly designed to demonise a foreign government that Washington nation builders are seeking to overthrow. It’s no surprise then that HRW would also appoint CIA operative Miguel Diaz to serve on its advisory board, or that Javier Solana, former Secretary General of NATO and architect of the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia (a war which HRW itself condemned in 2000) also serves on HRW’s board of directors.

Beyond the slick marketing and celebrity endorsements, in all actuality HRW is nothing more than a Cold War era propaganda relic which has been retrofitted to serve a 21st century Atlanticist geopolitical agenda. According to Washington DC-based transparency advocate Keane Bhatt, “HRW was originally called Helsinki Watch. It was created in 1978 during the Cold War to scrutinize and criticize the crimes that were being committed by the USSR and its allies. That Cold War ideology has long played a role in the kinds of priorities and advocacy that HRW engages in”.

Syria’s NGO Kaleidoscope

One of the most egregious examples of a NGO being used to reinforce a US-led geopolitical narrative is the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), created in 2006. Beyond the grandiose name, this ‘organisation’ is basically a one-man show which until recently, was run out of a one bedroom apartment in Coventry, England. SOHR is run by a Syrian dissident named Osama Ali Suleiman, commonly known in the media as “Rahmi Abdul Rahman”. The SOHR has played the key role in developing the all-important “facts on the ground” story for the Washington-London-Paris Axis seeking to topple the government in Damascus through its stoic policy of ‘regime change’ in Syria. When it comes to ‘official’ death toll numbers out of Syria, almost every mainstream report in the US and Europe has cited the SOHR as its data source with hardly a passing thought as to either the accuracy or the credibility of its numbers, and under which category death tolls are counted.

Despite the fact that the SOHR is closely affiliated with the US and UK-backed Syrian opposition, its data sets will often include casualty figures of ‘rebel forces’ (which will often include known foreign terrorist fighters) within its civilian casualty figures. These dubious figures are also used by a number of UN agencies, as well as leading human right organisations. Similarly, US, UK and European officials will frequently attribute a figure of 250,000 ‘Syrian deaths’ to civilians killed by “the regime” embodied by President Bashar al Assad. One week, a western official will quote a number of 150,000, and the next week it will be 350,000. As a result, most mainstream reports of Syria’s casualty figures are rife with bias and methodological inconsistencies, and as a result no one really seems to know the real figure. The larger the number, the more passionate the plea for western military intervention. Even the Council of the Foreign Relations is on record stating that the numbers being cited by the likes of John McCain simply don’t add up. Micah Zenko and Amelia M. Wolf of the CFR admitted in 2014 that, “most of the reported deaths in Syria have not been committed by forces under Bashar al-Assad’s command.” Meanwhile, western media, politicians and human rights organisations routinely ignore the fact that over 100,000 deaths since 2011 have been Syrian Army and Security personnel killed by foreign-backed militants and terrorists. Zenko later added that, “the types of interventions that proponents have endorsed for Syria … have almost nothing to do with how Syrian non-combatants are actually being killed.”

While the Syrian Conflict is a messy and tragic affair, with brutality and violence affecting every side of the fighting, readers should note exactly how this subtle, yet relentless western campaign of disinformation feeds neatly into the western policy of regime change embodied in the rhetorical demand that “Assad must go.” John Glaser from Antiwar.com adds here:

A common policy proposal to mitigate the mass suffering in Syria is for the U.S. to help the rebels and undermine the Assad regime, a scheme that just becomes ludicrous after looking at the data.

It should also be noted that the SOHR receives its funding directly from the EU, and also enjoys substantial support from the British Foreign Office – both of whom are actively seeking to overthrow the government in Syria through guerrilla proxies. At the very least this could be described as a conflict of interest. The SOHR is hardly ‘non partisan’ and more likely to be used as a tool to manufacture consensus for humanitarian intervention in Syria.

Intervention Digital Marketing

They say that ‘the road to tyranny is paved with good intentions’. That old adage couldn’t be more true today, despite all of our seemingly wonderful internet tools and ‘activist’ platforms online.

A key set piece in any nation building or humanitarian intervention is the ‘No Fly Zone’. Made famous during NATO’s Balkans War in Yugoslavia, the US-led Gulf Wars for Iraq, and later with NATO Libya, securing a No Fly Zone is essential for dictating the terms and conditions of any interventionalist program. The term has since developed an elastic quality and has been subtly altered into what many now refer to a “Safe Zone”, the idea being that by securing the skies above with western air power, the people below will be ‘safe.’

However, it’s still become a hard-sell because of negative connotations associated with past unpopular operation that have been viewed western wars of aggression. New technology is needed in order to repackage and market this damaged brand.

WANTED FULL 2

The internet and social networking have provided just that, where a myriad of social networking online petition web portals have been launched in recent years, the most prominent of which is the online organization Avaaz.org was co-founded in 2007 by Res Publica and Moveon.org, and whose funding sources include the George Soros’ Open Society umbrella foundation network. Key founders and players include Tom Perriello, Ricken Patel, Tom Pravda, Jeremy Heimans, David Madden, Eli Pariser and Andrea Woodhouse, each of whom have working relationships with the UN and World Bank, and coordinate with US-controlled institutions like the UN Security Council and UN Human Rights Council.

According to the Avaaz website, their mission is to “organise citizens of all nations to close the gap between the world we have and the world most people everywhere want.”

Non-profit Avaaz works closely with its for-profit arm, New York City-based PR firm Purpose, which refers to itself as a “proud public benefit corporation.”

It is important to understand that by their own admission, these organizations are not meant to be purely altruistic, but rather are enterprise businesses. In her article entitled “The Rise of the Movement Entrepreneur and its Impact on Business”, writer Allison Goldberg explains the ‘big idea’ which is used a wrapping for their self-styled social license:

The rise of new technology has drastically lowered the barrier to movement creation while providing an alternative to established institutions, formerly seen as the route to reform. Instead of relying on government bodies or other established organizations often weighed down by bureaucracy, entrepreneurs are utilizing the power of social media to mobilize the masses in favor of large-scale change. As a result, organizations have arisen such as Avaaz.org, which defines itself as “the campaigning community bringing people-powered politics to decision-making worldwide.” Avaaz now boasts seven million members worldwide.

Together, Avaaz and Purpose create the language and the online consensus-building tools. While maintaining the illusion of grassroots activists advocating for human rights, the core function of their public relations campaigns are outcome-based, or to help herd public opinion in order to provide a pretext for multilateral institutions like the the IMF and NATO to implement programs like economic sanctions, or  military intervention.

One of the Avaaz ‘Safe Zone’ campaigns for Syria in 2012-2013

In 2012 and 2013, Avaaz campaigns featured a number of large online petitions which demanded that international bodies (like the UN) send “3,000 international monitors” into the country, and that Western military powers (like NATO) impose a ‘No-Fly Zone’ over the entire country in order to “save innocent lives.” One petion read as follows:

To the Arab League, European Union, United States, and Friends of Syria: As global citizens, we call on you to take immediate action to stop the deadly terror in Syria. Enough is enough. We ask you to immediately demand a ceasefire to stop the bloodshed so that parties can come to the negotiating table to agree on a way forward. Until a ceasefire is reached, we call on you to work together and with the international community to enforce a no fly zone to stop the bombardment of Syria’s civilians and ensure that humanitarian aid reaches those most in need.

Again, another NGO public relations messaging campaign mirroring foreign policy planks from the US State Department and Washington’s defense community.

On Avaaz’s website you can often find a number of sensational claims. During their No-Fly-Zone campaign cycle this statement appeared:

The Syrian air force just dropped chlorine gas bombs on children. Their little bodies gasped for air on hospital stretchers as medics held back tears, and watched as they suffocated to death.

Unfortunately, the incident in question never actually happened.

Rick Sterling explains:

Many well-intentioned but naive members of the U.S. and international public are again being duped into signing an Avaaz petition based on fraud and misinformation. If the campaign succeeds in leading to a No Fly Zone in Syria, it will result in vastly increased war, mayhem and bloodshed.

The following illustration outlines to sequence of events that eventually lead to Avaaz calling for a ‘No Fly Zone’ in Syria.

One organization championed in Avaaz marketing campaigns is a ‘neutral’ organization called the Syrian Civil Defense also known as the ‘White Helmets‘.

Writer Vanessa Beeley explains the all-too familiar funding sources for the White Helmets in her article entitled, Syria’s White Helmets: War by Way of Deception – Part I:

The White Helmets were established in March 2013, in Istanbul, Turkey, and is headed by James Le Mesurier, a British “security” specialist and ‘ex’-British military intelligence officer with an impressive track record in some of the most dubious NATO intervention theatres including Bosnia and Kosovo, as well as Iraq, Lebanon, and Palestine. Le Mesurier is a product of Britain’s elite Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, and has also been placed in a series of high-profile pasts at the United Nations, European Union, and U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The origins of The White Helmet’s initial $300k seed funding is a little hazy, reports are contradictory but subsequent information leads us to conclude that the UK, US and the ‘Syrian opposition’ (or Syrian National Council, parallel government backed an funded by the US, UK and allies) are connected. Logistical support has been provided and given by Turkish elite natural disaster response team, AKUT. A further $13 million was poured into the White Helmet coffers during 2013 and this is where it gets interesting. Early reports suggest that these “donations” came from the US, UK and SNC with the previously explored connections to George Soros in the US. However, subsequent investigations reveal that USAID has been a major shareholder in the White Helmet organisation. The website for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) claims that, “our work supports long-term and equitable economic growth and advances U.S. foreign policy objectives by supporting: economic growth, agriculture and trade; global health; and, democracy, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance.” In a USAID report update in July 2015 it is clearly stated that they have supplied over $ 16m in assistance to the White Helmets.

Regarding USAID, Beeley adds that:

The USAID track record as a primary US Government/CIA regime change facilitator is extensively documented. From South America to the Ukraine and in the Middle East, USAID serve a malevolent and ultimately destructive role in the dismantling of sovereign nations and their reduction to western hegemony vassal states, as always, all in the name of freedom and democracy.

Even more crucial in this case, is evidence that links the White Helmets to militant fighting groups in Syria, including al Nusra Front (al Qaeda in Syria). While this does not prove anything beyond association between members of both organizations, it’s significant when one considers that both organizations are receiving material and financial support from the same member nations of the US-led Coalition.

Geopolitically Correct

For all practical purposes, as a moral and ethical tenet, ‘human rights’ is an anomaly in any western military action.

How one frames a story determines its thesis. In the 21st century, the concept of human rights has been weaponised, pointed at nonaligned and independent nation-states who are seen as obstacles to American and European market-makers and nation builders. A number of target states not geopolitically aligned with the US, NATO or the GCC, are yet to be absorbed, seduced, conquered, or as in the case of Libya, completely collapsed, or in the case of Syria – completely dismembered. These include states listed by former US General and NATO Supreme Commander, Wesley Clark, in his Commonwealth Club speech in San Francisco in 2007. During the event, Clark intimated a conversation he had after a classified defense briefing where a Pentagon source had told him weeks after 9/11 of the Pentagon’s plan to attack Iraq, as well as a “coup” being plotted by Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz along with “a half dozen other collaborators from the Project for the New American Century”. According to Clark, his told him about seven countries which were slated for overthrow: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.

It should also be noted that both Wesley Clark and George Soros serve on the board of trustees of The International Crisis Group.

For any of these unlucky states, a sustained US or ‘Coalition’ military campaign means that a nation can be under attack 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and yet, that nation and its residents are given no quarter by western human rights organizations, governments or media. A perfect example of this is Saudi Arabia’s highly illegal undeclared war of aggression against its neighbor Yemen which began in the spring of 2015.

It’s worth noting here, that despite its own hotly contested human rights record, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was somehow managed to get elected to the UN’s prestigious Human Rights Council (UNHRC). Evidence suggests that this appointment was facilitated in part by British officials as part of a larger quid pro quo arrangement. According to classified Saudi foreign ministry files that were passed to Wikileaks in June 2015, and translated by Geneva-based UN Watch and revealed how UK initiated the secret negotiations by asking Saudi Arabia for its support. Eventually, both countries were elected to the 47 member state UNHRC. The following passage from the leaked cables reveals how a clear deal was struck:

The ministry might find it an opportunity to exchange support with the United Kingdom, where the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would support the candidacy of the United Kingdom to the membership of the council for the period 2014-2015 in exchange for the support of the United Kingdom to the candidacy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

According to The Guardian another cable revealed a Saudi Arabia transfer of $100,000 for “expenditures resulting from the campaign to nominate the Kingdom for membership of the human rights council for the period 2014-2016”. At the time of their report, no one knows how this money was spent.

In addition, it was later shown that Saudi Arabia pledged $1 million to UNHRC prior to winning the its seat. Then rather amazingly (or not), in the fall of 2015, the UN appointed Saudi as Chair of the UNHRC.

When pressed on the matter, a Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman said, “as is standard practice with all members, we never reveal our voting intentions or the way we vote.”

This was followed by a standard, throwaway PR platitude:

The British government strongly promotes human rights around the world and we raise our human rights concerns with the Saudi Arabian authorities.

While its commendable that Saudi officials would want to take a leading role in advocating for international human rights, one cannot ignore the political hypocrisy at play considering Riyadh’s own soiled laundry regarding this issue which includes, among other items, the sanctioning of more than a 150 beheadings in 2015 – a number believed to be even higher than Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS).

To make matters worse, the controversial Saudi appointment also took place amid the a new diplomatic row over a lucrative UK prison building contract in the Kingdom and the proposed execution of 17 year old Shia student activist, Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who was sentenced to ‘death by crucifixion’ for joining an anti-government demonstration.

Consider the amount of political and media campaigning against the government of Syria over numerous and largely unfounded allegations, where an international network comprised of the US State Department, UK Foreign Office, the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) lobby, HRW and humanitarian interventionist luminaries are all backing a policy of regime change in Syria – and then contrast this with Saudi Arabia’s proven record on human rights and abuse of power. It’s impossible not to see the double standard.

As far as the Western political establishment are concerned, if there are any human rights violations or any local casualties mounting in one of its many dirty wars, geopolitical correctness dictates that these are either ignored or neatly filed away as an inconvenient consequence of America’s ‘national security’ or an unfortunate byproduct “collateral damage” along the road to international progress, peace and prosperity (democracy). Because it crosses swords with the US State Department, or NATO HQ, pubic pressure by humanitarian organizations like HRW and Amnesty USA is relatively nonexistent.

Outside of the theater of combat, the international community is also faced with the inconvenient dilemma of illegal detentions of supposed ‘enemy combatants’, ‘enhanced interrogation’ (torture) and ‘extrajudicial killings’ (assassinations). These are the politically correct terms for the age of western militarisation.

Again, because of “bad optics” in Washington DC very little attention or pressure is applied by marquee international human rights charities.

The human rights industry also has its own politically correct lexicon and identifiers like ‘defectors’, ‘detainees’, ‘activists’ and a new emerging category of ‘activist-journalists’. Sometimes these terms can be accurate, but in a war theater like Syria, they are often euphemisms for actors in full spectrum information warfare. In the case of Syria, this information warfare is designed to embolden a foreign-backed opposition, but more importantly, to apply sustained public relations pressure towards an end goal of regime change.

The WMD Ritual

Conjuring a ‘WMD’ subplot in order to trigger a humanitarian intervention has become commonplace in western foreign policy. After being exposed as a momentous lie in Iraq in 2003, this set-back did not stop Washington from aggressively  pursuing the same narrative in Syria in 2013. Fortunately, the Syrian WMD narrative collapsed in the aftermath of a failed false flag Sarin gas attack that turned out to be orchestrated by US Coalition-backed ‘moderate’ rebels52. It was hardly a coincidence then to discover that HRW was the NGO tasked with providing the ‘smoking gun’ Washington and London needed to make their R2P case in August 2013.

Elizabeth Palmer reported for CBS News at the time, “on Tuesday, the group Human Rights Watch issued a report that said evidence strongly implies that Syrian government troops’ firing of rockets containing a nerve agent into a Damascus suburb on August 21 that the U.S. said killed over 1,400 people.” In the end, this turned out to be another epic lie.

While the US-led ‘Coalition’ is quick to seize upon spurious WMD narratives against its geopolitical targets, it will routinely ignore common Geneva Convention violations like Israel’s use of deadly white phosphorous in Gaza, the use of depleted uranium munitions by American military units in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Saudi Arabian cluster bombs being dropped on Yemeni civilians.

Western Institutionalised Bias

Wars, whether conventional or covert, are a dirty business.

One argument that the western human rights industry judicially avoids is that an armed opposition cannot rightly be classified as a ‘political opposition’, so long as it is armed. This could certainly be the case in Syria. Syrian president Assad explained this dilemma during his 2015 interview with CBS News anchor Charlie Rose, stating that “whenever you hold a gun, and kill people, and destroy public buildings, destroy private properties, that’s terrorism.”

Although most foreign policy officials in Washington DC would beg to differ, especially if the opposition in question is receiving weapons, cash or logistical support from the US or its allies. Assad futher clarifies the position and also exposes the fallacy in western rhetoric, explaining:

The word opposition, everywhere in the world, including your country, is a political opposition. Do you have military opposition in the United States? Would you accept it? You wouldn’t, and we wouldn’t. No-one accepts military opposition.

During his speech at Columbia University in 2006, Australian journalist and filmmaker John Pilger explained:

The oldest cliché is that truth is the first casualty of war. I disagree. Journalism is the first casualty. Not only that: it has become a weapon of war, a virulent censorship that goes unrecognized in the United States, Britain, and other democracies; censorship by omission, whose power is such that, in war, it can mean the difference between life and death for people in faraway countries.

Pilger’s reference can especially be applied to the institutional media bias that has underpinned the long running international war which the Middle East and Central Asia finds itself currently embroiled in. Some might argue that even if western human rights organisations could somehow be cured of their systemic bias towards Washington and CFR foreign policy narratives –  their needs to be an overhaul in defining the concept and the context of what ‘human rights’ are in real terms. A fresh look needs to take into account a level of western subterfuge which maybe western politicians and media are not yet ready  to acknowledge.

In Conclusion

Indeed, it was ‘human rights’ campaigning which led directly to the illegal bombing of Libya (NATO’s aggressive bombing campaign in Libya was not authorized in the UNSC Resolution 1973 which only called for a ‘No-Fly Zone’, and should therefore be considered illegal under international law), where the West’s sole intent was to topple the government of Muammar Gaddafi. Regrettably, thousands of innocent civilians died in the process and the nation state of Libya quickly collapsed, separating into sub-regional, tribal and lawless militant enclaves.

The lesson of Libya was stark. The world should have taken note, but unfortunately it did not. Instead, onlookers saw then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who, when asked during a CBS News interview about the removal of the Libyan president, could only cackle and laughingly joke, “we came, we saw, he died.”

Is this the new tone of humanitarianism?

Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch regularly solicit support from Hollywood celebrities and international recording artists, and spend millions of dollars per year producing films which depict situations around the world through their own political lens. To date, they have yet to produce a film showing the other unsavory side of the ‘rebel insurgency’ in Syria. Is this because that might undermine the entire US and NATO member foreign policy?

The public and private sponsors of NGO’s like HRW and Amnesty have invested, not donated, hundreds of millions collectively into these organisations so that they can portray world events in such a way that will enable their own corporate aspirations to be met. No matter how idealistic the rhetoric might sound coming from leading human rights organisations, the money could stop flowing if they discontinued manufacturing consent for wars.

This also raises the question of whether or not a non-governmental organisation that champions the issue of human rights can remain apolitical – as many such organizations claim to be. What would happen should such an organisation dare to adopt a truly righteous geopolitical (not political) stance advocating opposition to destructive western imperialist policies? Would western governments move to withdraw their 501c3 or tax exempt status which allows these charities to maintain their viability as a nonprofit organisation?

Once again, if conflicts of interest and revolving doors between government and charities are not properly addressed, it could eventually undermine the integrity of the entire NGO sector internationally. Corruption at the top of the pyramid also threatens to damage countless other small to medium sized organisations who do not have access to the US State Department or Hollywood, but who are still performing important services and engaged in real civic aid projects.

For human right organisations to be in lock-step with the US State Department, or hiring military operatives as board members and chief executives, is simply inexcusable by any social standard.

If the international community is to advance beyond defunct neocolonialist paradigms, it will need to place compassion ahead of policy, and humanity ahead of profits. Only then can the reality live up to the rhetoric.

 

[Author Patrick Henningsen is founder and editor of the news and analysis website 21st Century Wire, and is an independent foreign and political affairs analyst for RT International. He is also the host of the SUNDAY WIRE radio program which airs live every Sunday on the Alternate Current Radio Network. Find out more at: www.patrickhenningsen.com]

The Bloody Legacy of American Exceptionalism

American Herald Tribune

February 9, 2016

by Vanessa Beeley

 

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Exceptionalism: the condition of being different from the norm; also:  a theory expounding the exceptionalism especially of a nation or region.

There are many theories surrounding the origin of American exceptionalism. The most popular in US folklore, being that it describes America’s unique character as a “free” nation founded on democratic ideals and civil liberties. The Declaration of Independence from British colonial rule is the foundation of this theory and has persevered throughout the often violent history of the US since its birth as a free nation.

Over time, exceptionalism has come to represent superiority in the minds and hearts of Americans. Belief in their economic, military and ideological supremacy is what has motivated successive US governments to invest in shaping the world in their superior image with little or no regard for the destruction left in the wake of their exceptional hegemony.

In considering itself, exceptional, the US has extricated itself from any legal obligation to adhere to either International law or even the common moral laws that should govern Humanity.  The US has become exceptionally lawless and authoritarian particularly in its intolerant neo-colonialist foreign policy.  The colonized have become the colonialists, concealing their brutal savagery behind a veneer of missionary zeal that they are converting the world to their form of exceptionalist Utopia.

Such is the media & marketing apparatus that supports this superiority complex, the majority of US congress exist within its echo chamber and are willing victims of its indoctrination. The power of the propaganda vortex pulls them in and then radiates outwards, infecting all in its path.  Self-extraction from this oligarchical perspective is perceived as a revolutionary act that challenges the core of US security so exceptionalism becomes the modus vivendi.

Superbowl Military

Above: US military propaganda and Superbowl 50 [Source]

Just as Israel considers itself the chosen people from a religious perspective, the US considers itself the chosen nation to impose its version of Democratic reform and capitalist hegemony the world over. One can see why Israel and the US make such symbiotic bedfellows.

“The fatal war for humanity is the war with Russia and China toward which Washington is driving the US and Washington’s NATO and Asian puppet states.  The bigotry of the US power elite is rooted in its self-righteous doctrine that stipulates America as the “indispensable country” ~ Paul Craig Roberts: Washington Drives the World Towards War.

So why do the American people accept US criminal hegemony, domestic and foreign brutal tyranny & neo-colonialist blood-letting with scant protest? Why do the European vassal states not rise up against this authoritarian regime that flaunts international law and drags its NATO allies down the path to complete lawlessness and diplomatic ignominy?

The psychological term “Gaslighting” comes from a 1944 Hollywood classic movie called Gaslight.  Gaslighting describes the abuse employed by a narcissist to instil in their victim’s mind, an extreme anxiety and confusion to the extent where they no longer have faith in their own powers of logic, reason and judgement. These gaslighting techniques were adopted by central intelligence agencies in the US and Europe as part of their psychological warfare methods, used primarily during torture or interrogation.

Gaslighting as an abuser’s modus operandi, involves, specifically, the withholding of factual information and its replacement with false or fictional information designed to confuse and disorientate. This subtle and Machiavellian process eventually undermines the mental stability of its victims reducing them to such a depth of insecurity and identity crisis that they become entirely dependent upon their abuser for their sense of reality and even identity.

Gaslighting involves a step by step psychological process to manipulate and destabilize its victim.  It is built up over time and consists of repetitive information feeds that enter the victim’s subconscious over a period of time, until it is fully registered on the subconscious “hard disk” and cannot be overridden by the conscious floppy disk.  Put more simply, it is brainwashing.

“Overall, the main reason for gaslighting is to create a dynamic where the abuser has complete control over their victim so that they are so weak that they are very easy to manipulate.” ~ Alex Myles

Victims of Gaslighting go through 3 stages, disbelief, defence and depression.

The first stage depends upon trust in the integrity and unimpeachable intentions of the abuser, a state of reliance that has been engendered by the abuser’s artful self-promotion and ingratiating propaganda.  Once this trust is gained, the abuser will begin to subtly undermine it, creating situations and environments where the victim will begin to doubt their own judgement.  Eventually the victim will rely entirely upon the abuser to alleviate their uncertainty and to restore their sense of reality which is in fact that of the abuser.

The second stage, defence, is a process by which the abuser isolates the victim, not only from their own sense of identity but from the validation of their peers.  They are made to feel that their opinion is worthless, discredited, down-right weird.  In political circles they would be labelled a conspiracy theorist, a dissident, a terror apologist.  As a consequence, the victim will withdraw from society and cease to express themselves for fear of ridicule, judgement or punishment.

This stage can also be compared to Stockholm Syndrome where a hostage or captive is reduced,by psychological mind games, back to infantile dependency upon their captor.  Narcissistic abuse bonds the victim to the aggressor via trauma.  Stockholm Syndrome bonds the victim to the aggressor via regression to an infantile state where the abuser/aggressor becomes the “parent” who will rescue the victim from imminent annihilation.  Both methods tap into the victim’s survival mechanisms to gain and maintain control.

The final stage is depression.  A life under the tyrannical rule of a narcissist drives the victim into a state of extreme confusion.  They are stripped of dignity & self-reliance.  They, ultimately exist in an information vacuum which is only filled by that which the abuser deems suitable or relevant.  This can eventually invoke symptoms of PTSD [Post Traumatic Stress Disorder]. Flashbacks, constant apprehension, hyper vigilance, mind paralysis, rage and even violence.  The process is complete and the victim has been reduced to a willing accomplice in the abusers creation of a very distorted reality.

We are currently seeing the transformation of US exceptionalism into an abusive Narcissism.  The gargantuan apparatus of mind bending and controlling is being put into hyper drive by the ruling elite.  We are inundated with propaganda that challenges our sense of reality but only after being “tenderized” by the fear factor.  Fear of “terror”, fear of war, fear of financial insecurity, fear of gun violence, fear of our own shadow.  Once we are suitably quaking in our boots, in comes the rendition of reality that relieves our anxiety.  If we challenge this version of events we are labelled a conspiracy theorist, a threat to security. We are hounded, discredited, slandered and ridiculed.  We are isolated and threatened.

Wars are started in the same way.  Despite the hindsight that should enable us to see it coming, the process swings into motion with resounding success. The ubiquitous dictator, the oligarch who threatens to destroy all that the US and her allies represent which of course is, freedom, equality & civil liberty all wrapped up in the Democracy shiny paper and tied with the exceptionalist ribbon.

Next the false flag to engender fear, terror and to foment sectarian strife. The support of a “legitimate” organic, indigenous “revolution” conveniently emerging in tandem with US ambitions for imposing their model of governance upon a target nation. The arming of “freedom fighters”, the securing of mercenary additions to these manufactured proxy forces.  All this is sold in the name of freedom and democracy to a public that is already in a state of anxiety and insecurity, lacking in judgement or insight into any other reality but that of their “abuser”.

They don’t realise that NGOs are an integral part of their abuser’s apparatus, operating on the leash of neo-colonialist financing and influence.Then in addition, the Humanitarians are deployed.  The forces for “good”, the vanguard of integrity and ethical intervention.  The power that offers all lost souls a stake-holding in the salvation of sovereign nations that have lost their way and need rescuing.  A balm for a damaged soul, to know they can leave their doubts and fears in such trustworthy hands as HRW, Amnesty International, they can assuage their deep sense of guilt at the suffering being endured by the people of far flung nations because they can depend upon the NGOs to provide absolution with minimal effort on their part.  They don’t realise that NGOs are an integral part of their abuser’s apparatus, operating on the leash of neo-colonialist financing and influence.  NGOs provide the optic through which the abuser will allow the victim to perceive their world and once absorbed into this flawed prism the victim’s own cognitive dissonance will ensure they do not attempt a jail break.

In this state of oppressed consciousness the victim accepts what they are told.  They accept that the US can sell cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia that obliterate human beings and lay waste to essential civilian infrastructure in Yemen.  They accept that the US financially, ideologically & militarily supports the illegal state of Israel and provides the arsenal of experimental weapons that maim and mutilate children and civilians on a scale that is unimaginable.  They accept that a crippling blockade of the already impoverished and starving nation of Yemen is “necessary” to resolve the issues of sectarian divisions that only exist in the minds of their Congressional abusers.

The majority of Americans accept mass murder under the pretext of the right to protect, because their ability to form rational and reasoned opinions has been engineered out of them.  This is now the definition of US exceptionalism.  It is their ability to manipulate the world into accepting their lawlessness and global hegemony agenda.  In seeking to impose its own image upon our world the US has drifted so far from its founding principles, one wonders how they will ever return to them.  They have employed a recognised form of torture to ensure capitulation to their mission of world domination which entails the mental, physical and spiritual torture of target civilian populations.

In conclusion, the US has indeed achieved exceptionalism.  The US has become an exceptional global executioner and persecutor of Humanity.  Imperialism is a euphemism for the depths of abuse the US is inflicting upon the people of this world.

Our only hope is to break the cycle of abuse with empathy for the victim and with appreciation for the years of brainwashing that precedes their agonizing passive-aggressive apathy towards crimes being committed in “their name”.

This was an email I received recently from one courageous young American girl whose epiphany is testament to the resilience and survival instinct of the human spirit.

“My name is Caroline and I am a 22 year old US citizen. I only fairly recently discovered the truth about Empire/NATO’s activities in Syria and Libya and so many other countries (thanks to writers like Andre Vltchek, Cory Morningstar, Forrest Palmer). I am sickened when I remember that I signed some of those Avaaz petitions and I feel horrified at knowing that I have Syrian and Libyan blood on my hands. I want to believe that I’m not “really” guilty because I really thought (as I had been told) that I was not doing something bad at the time, but still, what I did contributed to the suffering of those people and I want to do something to atone in at least some small way, even though I probably can’t “make up” for what I did or erase my crime.

If it’s not too much trouble, could you please tell me what you think I should do, if there is anything?”

She deserves an answer…

 

 

[Vanessa Beeley is a photographer, writer, peace activist and volunteer with the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine. She was recently invited to be on the steering committee of the Syria Solidarity Movement.]

Let It Shine

Culture of Imbeciles

February 2, 2016

by Jay Taber

 

shine a light

Oskar Schlemmer | Der Taucher – costume from Das Triadische Ballett (The Triadic Ballet), 1922

 

Authentic human rights networks ought to be calling for the arrest and prosecution by the International Criminal Court of the leaders and agents of Avaaz, Purpose, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (essentially subsidiaries of convicted inside-trader George Soros’ Open Society Institute) for crimes against humanity. While these shady organizations (in tandem with the U.S. Government-funded National Endowment for Democracy and USAID) continue undermining international law at the behest of Wall Street, NATO and the Pentagon, we can at least shine a light on these voices of death. Sing along with us:

This little light of mine
I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine
I’m gonna let it shine
This little light of mine
I’m gonna let it shine
Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine

avaazkilllhashtag

 

 

[Jay Thomas Taber is an associate scholar of the Center for World Indigenous Studies, a correspondent to Forum for Global Exchange, and a contributing editor of Fourth World Journal. Since 1994, he has served as communications director at Public Good Project, a volunteer network of researchers, analysts and journalists engaged in defending democracy. As a consultant, he has assisted indigenous peoples in the European Court of Human Rights and at the United Nations. Email: tbarj [at] yahoo.com Website:www.jaytaber.com]

EMPIRE TARGETS BURUNDI: “Humanitarian” NGOs Escalate Momentum in Beating the Drums of War

Wrong Kind of Green

February 1, 2016

 

“The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies is a key NGO within the Network and it is also a member of the International Federation of Human Rights.  It was founded in 1993 by Bahey El Din Hassan who was elected member of the Executive Committee of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network at its second meeting in 1997.  In December 2011, he participated in a meeting of the Atlantic Council co-organised by the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East dealing with Egypt which is his country or origin. That meeting discussed the arrest of members of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the National Endowment for Democracy who were accused of interference in Egyptian internal affairs.” — Centre for the Study of Interventionism

 

As Empire targets Burundi, force multipliers at the helm of the non-profit industrial complex such as Avaaz, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch beat the drums of war. NGOs, perhaps now the most instrumental tools in the West’s war chest, are financed by (and in many cases created by) the world’s most powerful oligarchs and institutions. The latest signatories demanding “humanitarian intervention” in the sovereign country of Burundi, come in the form of an open letter (article follows) signed by: Dr Mohamed (Mo) Ibrahim – Founder and Chair (Mo Ibrahim Foundation), Mr Jay Naidoo (Chair of the Board of Directors and Chair of the Partnership Council of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition), Mr Victor Ochen (Director, African Youth Initiative Network), Dr Chidi Odinkalu (Chairperson, Governing Council of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission), Judge Navi Pillay (UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2008-2014 and President of International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda from 1996-2003) and Mr Ashish J. Thakkar (Founder, Mara Group and Mara Foundation).

This is a rinse lather and repeat method as witnessed prior to the illegal war on Libya, based on manufactured lies by the West. [Further reading: Libya and the Big Lie: Using Human Rights Organizations to Launch Wars, September 24, 2011] [From Libyan sources: 500,000 dead, 30,000 in terrorist-run prisons, 2.5 million exiled, tens of thousands of refugees]

As the tiny East African nation of Burundi and its president Pierre Nkurunziza refuse to bow down to foreign interests, despite the increasing pressure, Empire accelerates all destabilization tactics. Evidence of manufactured atrocities strategically disseminated by Empire’s force multipliers in order to flood both the infosphere and human psyche – is not required.

Power Interview Keyna 2

Powers Interview Patronizing

 

This interview (January 23, 2016, screenshots above) demonstrates how media (as another force multiplier) kowtows to imperialism. Note the body language of Burundian president Pierre Nkurunziza in reaction to U.S. ambassador Samantha Power’s patronizing language under the guise of white superiority. Power states: “there is a cri de coeur from many, many people in Burundi for outside help and for urgent, urgent mediation…” It is at this point (3:10) Nkurunziza closes his eyes. (Imagine having to bear words choreographed to incite destabilization by Power, on behalf of the most violent, hypocritical and racist country in the world – to a media serving as an foreign policy echo chamber.) The media hones in on Power, hanging on her every word, as though the position by the Burundian Government,  as represented by it’s president, is of secondary importance with little significance. In five minutes of coverage on Burundi, Nkurunziza’s comments amount to a total of approx. 9 seconds. In this way, the media demonstrates racism, bias and subservience to the West. Indeed the task at hand is to frame the crisis to better advance foreign interests. [“UN Security Council Meets with Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza to Push for Peace Talks” | “The 15 council members were greeted on arrival Thursday by pro-government demonstrators telling them to stop meddling. Hundreds lined the road leading from the airport to greet the envoys with signs that read ‘genocide will not happen’ and ‘stop interfering in Burundian affairs'”. Source]

“No one more adamantly challenged the Western consensus than Pan Africanist scholar Dr. Randy Short, speaking to Press TV. Dr. Short said that the Burundian crisis is really all about the resources that Western powers are taking out of Burundi’s neighbor, the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

 

“Burundi is a conduit into Congo. Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world. They don’t have anything. They (U.S. policy makers) care as much about Burundians as they do about the people in Baltimore who were rioting a few weeks ago. This is a sham. It’s a shibboleth… an effort to do is to steal from sovereign nations in Africa and to compete with the Chinese and the BRICs countries to hold onto Africa as a treasure house for the benefit of white Western powers.” — Challenging the Western consensus on Burundi June 5, 2015

Video: Pan-African Analysis of Burundi Destabilization with Dr Randy Short (Video published May 31, 2015):

 

 

May 17, 2015: The President of Burundi: Pierre Nkurunziza travels back home to Bujumbura (from Tanzania) on May 15, 2015, after failed coup attempt:

 

 

Excerpt from the article “Human Rights Want AU to intervene in Burundi, South Sudan Wrangles” (The Star, January 31, 2016):

MO 1

Former US President Bill Clinton, Christine Lagarde IMF Managing Director, and Mo Ibrahim Founder and Chairman, Mo Ibrahim Foundation attend the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) on September 24, 2013 in New York. AFP PHOTO/Mehdi Taamallah

“The group consisting of eminent Africa personalities including Mo Ibrahim Foundation founder Mo Ibrahim want the AU to address the issues of political violence in the continent.

“In South Sudan, which should be reaping the benefits of the August 2015 peace agreement and seeking accountability for past crimes, distrust and animosity is running high between former foes and the return to war is a possibility,” states the letter.

The group says violence has been spreading to previously unaffected parts of the country and nearly 200,000 civilians remain under UN protection in crowded camps and the threat of famine is looming.

The AU and its leaders, have the opportunity and a responsibility to respond to these crises, before they get any worse.

In December last year, the AU Peace and Security Council resolved to send an AU force into Burundi to prevent a further escalation of violence.

Similarly, in response to the peace deal in South Sudan, the AU Commission pledged to set up a hybrid court to prosecute those who had masterminded the civil war.

Unfortunately, neither of these decisions has yet been fulfilled and the contexts in both countries have worsened and Nkurunziza vowed to block entry of 5000 AU peace forces.”

+++

The “Open letter to AU Peace and Security Council Heads of State” can be found here.

Signatories:

  • Dr Mohamed (Mo) Ibrahim – Founder and Chair, Mo Ibrahim Foundation
  • Mr Jay Naidoo – Chair of the Board of Directors and Chair of the Partnership Council of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN)
  • Mr Victor Ochen – Director, African Youth Initiative Network
  • Dr Chidi Odinkalu – Chairperson, Governing Council of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission
  • Judge Navi Pillay – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (2008-2014) Judge and President of International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) (1996-2003)
  • Mr Ashish J. Thakkar – Founder, Mara Group and Mara Foundation

 

Further reading on the Mo Ibrahim Foundation: The Imperialist NGOs Recolonizing Africa and the African Leaders Who Serve Them | Emasculation of the African with Awards, Grants and Prizes

 

The U.S. and EU Sponsoring are Terrorism in Burundi: Interview with political analyst Gearóid Ó Colmáin, May 25, 2015:

 

 

Western Aggression: The Highest Form of Terrorism

Image: Mark Gould

Aggression is arguably the highest form of terrorism as it invariably includes the frightening of the target populations and their leaders as well as killing and destruction on a large scale.. The U.S. invaders of Iraq in 2003 proudly announced a “shock and awe” purpose in their opening assault, clearly designed to instill fear; that is, to terrorize the victim population along with the target security forces. And millions of Iraqis suffered in this massive enterprise. Benjamin Netanyahu himself defined terrorism as “the deliberate and systematic murder, maiming and menacing of the innocent to inspire fear for political ends.” This would seem to make both the Iraq war (2003 onward) and the serial Israeli wars on Gaza (2008-2009; 2012; 2014) cases of serious terrorism.

How do the responsible U.S. and Israeli leaders escape this designation? One trick is the disclaiming of any “deliberateness” in the killing of civilians. It is “collateral damage” in the pursuit of proper targets (Iraqi soldiers, Hamas, etc.). This is a factual lie, as there is overwhelming evidence that in both the Iraq and Gaza wars the killing of civilians was on a large scale and often not comprehensible in terms of genuine military objectives. (I give many illustrations in “They kill reporters, don’t they?” Yes–as Part of a System of Information Control That Will Allow the Mass Killing of Civilians, Z Magazine, December 2004. That this goes back a long way is well documented in Nick Turse’s Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, Metropolitan, 2014).

But even if the killings were only collateral damage, the regular failure to avoid killing civilians, including a built-in carelessness and/or reliance on undependable sources of information, is both a war crime and terrorism. Recall that the Geneva Conventions state that combatants “shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives and, accordingly, shall direct their operations only against military objectives” (Part IV, Chap. 1, Article 48). Also, if civilian casualties are extremely likely in bombing attacks against purported military targets, even if the specific civilians killed were not intended victims, their deaths—some deaths—were predictable, hence in an important sense deliberate. Michael Mandel, while dismantling the claim of non-deliberateness in the usual collateral damage killing of civilians, points out that even in Texas a man who shoots someone dead while aiming at somebody else is guilty of murder.1

A second line of defense of U.S. and Israeli killing of civilians, only occasionally made explicit, is that the civilians killed are helping out the enemy armed forces–they are the sea in which the terrorist fish swim—so this makes them legitimate targets. This opens up vast possibilities for ruthless attacks and the mass killing of civilians, notorious in the Vietnam war, but also applicable in Iraq, Afghanistan and Gaza. Civilian killings are sometimes admitted to be an objective by official sources, but not often, and the subject is not focused on by the mainstream media. This rationale may placate the home population but it does not satisfy international law or widely held moral rules.

The same is true of the retaliation defense. The United States and Israel are always allegedly retaliating for prior aggressive acts of their targets. Deadly actions by the target military or their supporters, even if they clearly follow some deadly action by the United States or Israel, are never deemed retaliatory and thus justifiable. It has long been a claimed feature of the Israeli ethnic cleansing project that Israel only retaliates, the Palestinians provoke and virtually compel an Israeli response. In fact, the Israelis have long taken advantage of this bias in Western reporting at strategic moments by attacking just enough to induce a Palestinian response, that justifies a larger scale “retaliatory” action by Israel.

Of course, all of these tricks work only because an array of Western institutions, including but not confined to the media, follow the demands of Western (and mainly U.S.) interests. For example, although the Nuremberg judgment against the Nazis features aggression as “the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole,” because the United States is virtually in the full-time business of committing aggression (attacking across borders without Security Council approval), the UN and “international community” (i.e., Western and even many non-Western leaders, not publics) do nothing when the United States engages in aggression. The brazen 2003 invasion of Iraq called forth no UN condemnation or sanctions against the U.S.aggression, and the UN quickly began to cooperate with the invader-occupiers. The word aggression is rarely applied to that massive and hugely destructive attack either in the media or learned discourse, but it is applied with regularity to the Russian occupation of Crimea which entailed no casualties and could be regarded as a defensive response to the U.S.-sponsored February 2014 coup d’etat in Ukraine. The U.S. invasion of Iraq was surely not defensive, and was rationalized at the time on the basis of what were eventually acknowledged to be plain lies. (For an exception to the establishment’s villainization of Russia in the Ukraine conflict.2 )

Perhaps the most murderous aggression and ultra-terrorism of the last 40 years, involving millions of civilian deaths, has been the Rwanda-Uganda invasion of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), beginning in 1996 and still ongoing. But the invasion’s leaders, Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni, were (and still are) U.S. clients, hence they have been subject to no international tribunal nor threat from the Security Council or International Criminal Court, and there has been no media featuring of the vast crimes carried out in this area. You have to be a U.S. target to get that kind of attention, as with Iran, Syria and Russia.

These rules also apply to the major human rights groups. Both Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have a rule that they will not focus on the origins of a conflict but will attend only to how the conflict is carried out. This is wonderfully convenient to a country that commits aggression on a regular basis, but it flies in the face of logic or the UN Charter’s foundational idea that aggression is the supreme international crime that the world must prevent and punish. Thus, neither HRW nor AI condemned the United States for invading Iraq or bombing Serbia but confined their attention to the war crimes of both the aggressor and target — mainly the target. HRW is especially notorious for its huge bias in featuring the war crimes of U.S. targets, underplaying the criminality of the aggressor, and calling for international action against the victim (see Herman, Peterson and Szamuely, “Human Rights Watch in the Service of the War Party,” Electric Politics, February 26, 2007.). During the period leading up to the U.S.-UK attack on Iraq, HRW head Kenneth Roth had an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Indict Saddam” (March 22, 2002). Thus beyond failing to oppose the imminent war of aggression, this human rights group leader was providing a public relations cover for the “supreme international crime.” His organization also failed to report on and condemn the “sanctions of mass destruction” against Iraq that had devastating health effects on Iraqi civilians, accounting for hundreds of thousands of deaths. For HRW these were “unworthy victims.”

In the case of the Rwandan Patriotic Front’s invasion and massacres of 1990-1994, HRW and its associates (notably Alison Des Forges) played an important role in focusing on and condemning the defensive responses of the Rwanda government to the military and subversive advances of the U.S.-supported invading army of Tutsi from Uganda, thereby making a positive contribution to the mass killings in Rwanda and later in the DRC.3

Similarly the ad hoc international tribunals established in the last several decades have always been designed to exclude aggression and to focus on war crimes and “genocide.” And they are directed at U.S. targets (Serbia, the Hutu of Rwanda) who are actually the victims of aggression, who are then subjected to a quasi-judicial process that is fraudulent and a perversion of justice.4  The International Criminal Court (ICC) was also organized with “aggression” excluded from its remit, in deference to the demands of the Great Aggressor, who still refused to join because there remained the theoretical possibility that a U.S. citizen might be brought before the court! The ICC still made itself useful to the Great Aggressor by indicting Gaddafi in preparation for the U.S.-NATO war of aggression against Libya.

In short, terrorism thrives. That is, state terrorism, as in the serial U.S. wars—direct, joint and proxy–against Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Libya and Syria and the still more wide-ranging drone assassination attacks. In the devastating wars in the DRC by Kagame and Museveni. And in Israel’s wars on Gaza and Lebanon and ordinary pacification efforts in Gaza and the West Bank. And in Saudi Arabia’s war on Yemen and Turkey’s proxy war in Syria and war against the Kurds.

All of these wars have evoked mainly retail terrorist responses to the invading, bombing, and occupying forces of the United States and its allies, responses that have been shocking and deadly, but on a much smaller scale than the state terrorism that has evoked them. But in the Western propaganda systems it is only the responsive terrorism that surprises and angers politicians, pundits and the public and is called “terrorism.” There is no recognition of the true flow of initiating violence and response, no recognition of the fact that the “global war on terrorism” is really a “global war OF terrorism.” The propaganda system is, in fact, a constituent of the permanent war system, hence a reliable supporter of wholesale terrorism.

 

• First published in Z Magazine, February 2016

 

  1. How America Gets Away With Murder, Pluto, 2004, 46-56 [?]
  2. John Mearsheimer, “The Ukraine Crisis is the West’s Fault,” Foreign Affairs, September-October, 2014 [?]
  3. Herman and Peterson, Enduring Lies: The Rwandan Genocide in the Propaganda System, 20 Years Later, Real News Books, 2014, 66-70. [?]
  4. On the Yugoslavia tribunal, see John Laughland, Travesty, Pluto, 2007; on Rwanda, Sebastien Chartrand and John Philpot, Justice Belied: The Unbalanced Scale of International Criminal Justice, Baraka Books, 2014. [?]

 

[Edward S. Herman is an economist and media analyst with a specialty in corporate and regulatory issues as well as political economy and the media.]

Rwanda, the Enduring Lies: A Project Censored Interview with Professor Ed Herman

Project Censored | Global Research

January 1, 2016

By Ann Garrison and Prof. Ed Herman

This is the transcript of an interview broadcast on the Pacifica Radio Network’s Project Censored Show on KPFA Jan. 1, 2016, and on other Pacifica stations during the following week, with guest host Ann Garrison.

PODCAST

Listen.

Project Censored/Ann Garrison: Happy New Year, and welcome to the Project Censored show. Thanks to Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff for inviting me, Ann Garrison, to guest host.

Today we’re going to talk about regime change engineered by the U.S. government and its allies in East and Central Africa. We’re going to talk about Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the 1990s and Burundi today, where we’re still hoping for a better outcome.

‘Enduring Lies’ coverAerial bombing campaigns make U.S. wars for regime change in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria highly visible and absolutely undeniable, but the corporate and state press don’t describe U.S. sponsored wars in Africa as such if they talk about them at all. Millions of African people have nevertheless lost their lives or seen their lives destroyed in U.S. sponsored wars for regime change and natural resources in Africa.

For more than a year now, Western policymakers and press have warned of a genocide in Burundi like that in Rwanda in 1994, and called for a so-called humanitarian intervention to override Burundi’s national sovereignty and replace President Pierre Nkurunziza with a president more to their liking. They tell us that they’re campaigning to stop genocide and mass atrocities, or often, for short, “to stop the next Rwanda,” which is what they told us when they took us to war in Libya and Syria.

One of the founding documents of humanitarian interventionist ideology is our U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power’s “Bystanders to Genocide,” an essay decrying America’s failure to stop the Rwandan Genocide, which she expanded into her book, “The Problem from Hell: America in the Age of Genocide.”

Here with me to talk about this is University of Pennsylvania Emeritus Professor of Finance Edward S. Herman, co-author, with Noam Chomsky, of the classic “Manufacturing Consent.” Herman is also the co-author of “The Politics of Genocide” and “Enduring Lies: Rwanda in the Propaganda System 20 Years Later,” with researcher and writer David Peterson.

We’re going to talk about the enduring lies about Rwanda, which “humanitarian” interventionists now repeat as they pursue regime change in Burundi.

Welcome, Professor Ed Herman.

Ed Herman: I’m happy to be with you.

AG: Professor Herman, could you start by telling us why you and David Peterson describe the enduring lies about what really happened in Rwanda as the greatest success of the propaganda system in the past two decades?

EH: In this book, Ann, we describe the fact that Paul Kagame, the leader of Rwanda, has killed more than five times as many people as Idi Amin. He invaded Rwanda in 1990 and carried out a war of conquest there that ended sometime in 1994. He invaded the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1996 and went in and out of that country for years, killing what the U.N. itself admitted was probably more than 4 million people.

He runs a dictatorship in Rwanda, where he gets 93 percent of the vote in a country where 90 percent of the people are Hutu who consider him to be a conqueror, a terrorist leader. And yet he’s considered, in the West, to be a hero, a savior.

In The New Yorker, he was described as the Abraham Lincoln of Africa. For a man who has outdone Idi Amin, I think this is miraculous.

The only way we can explain it is that he serves the ends of the United States, but it’s still a miracle that a man with that record can, in the free press of the United States, be considered a noble spirit.

A Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) soldier walks by the the site in the capital city Kigali of the April 6, 1994, plane crash that killed Rwanda's President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundi's President Cyprien Ntaryamirain in this May 23, 1994, photo. - Photo: Jean Marc Boujou, AP

In the capital city Kigali, a Rwanda Patriotic Front (RPF) soldier walks by the site of the April 6, 1994, plane crash that killed Rwanda’s President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundi’s President Cyprien Ntaryamirain in this May 23, 1994, photo. – Photo: Jean Marc Boujou, AP

AG: In other words, everything we’ve been told is wrong. And I can add that the enduring lies are so successful that that includes much of what’s been broadcast here on Pacifica Radio and published in any number of left liberal outlets. Any attempt to edit the Wikipedia entry on the Rwandan Genocide triggers so many edit alerts that it starts a Wiki editing war until the Wikipedia authorities declare a ceasefire with no changes made. That Wikipedia entry is all but written in stone.

Now, can we just go through the chapter headings in your book, each of which addresses one of the enduring lies?

EH: Yes, let’s do that.

AG: Since you’ve already given us some background and context, let’s start with Chapter Two: “The RPF invasion and low-level aggressive war that never was a ‘civil war.” People who know the story of the Rwandan Genocide only through the movie “Hotel Rwanda” are likely to think that it was an explosion of tribal bloodletting that began and ended in 100 days’ time in 1994.

Those who know that it was actually the final 100 days of a four-year war are likely to believe that it was the end of the Rwandan Civil War. There is an entry in the Wikipedia on the Rwandan Civil War. Why is this an enduring lie?

EH: Well, there was no major ethnic conflict in Rwanda back in late 1990. What happened in October 1990 was an invasion of armed forces from Uganda. This was a group of Tutsi, several thousand Tutsi soldiers, who were part of the Ugandan army.

They entered, they pushed several hundred thousand Hutu farmers out of their homes in northern Rwanda, and they were pushed back, but they kept coming. And the United States and its allies gave them assistance.

They pressed the Rwandan government to sign an Arusha agreement in 1993, which gave Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) and its army a lot of power in Rwanda. But it also provided for an election to be held about 22 months after the agreement was signed, and the RPF could not have won that election. So they made sure they didn’t have to win that election, Instead, they resumed the war on April 6, 1994, and by July 1994, they had conquered Rwanda.

So the whole period from October 1990 to, say, July 1994 was a period in which the RPF was engaged in subversion and readying itself for a final war of conquest. So it was a war. I would say this was a war.

AG: OK, now let’s consider Chapter Three: “‘Hutu Power extremists’ did not shoot down Habyarimana’s Falcon 50 jet.” Juvenal Habyarimana was the president of Rwanda from 1973 until he was assassinated in 1994, a little more than a year before these elections were supposed to happen.

He was a Hutu, a member of Rwanda’s Hutu majority who had overcome centuries of Tutsi subjugation with independence in 1960. He died while returning home, along with Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira, also a Hutu, when his plane was shot out of the sky above Rwanda’s capital Kigali.

After four years of war and massacres, which had driven a million Rwandans to the outskirts of Kigali, where they were camped as internal refugees, this convinced the Hutu population that the Tutsi army was coming to kill or subjugate them all again, and some Hutu began to kill Tutsi. Now, the Rwandan government narrative is that Hutu extremists assassinated Habyarimana because he might have blocked their genocidal plans. What’s the truth?

The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania

Image: The International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) in Arusha, Tanzania

EH: There’s no evidence of these genocidal plans, and the Hutu would have won the upcoming election.  The election was foreclosed by the assassination and conquest by Kagame.

But we don’t have to speculate about this. The Rwanda tribunal actually carried out an investigation of who shot the plane down back in 1996 and 1997.  They appointed a 20-man group to carry out this study. These investigators hired by the tribunal  came up with a report in 1996, based on what they thought to be credible witness testimony by members of the RPF, that Kagame had planned the assassinwhen the tribunal found that theation and carried it out.

When this report was presented to the prosecutor of the tribunal, she consulted the United States and then canceled the investigation. And, from 1996 to the present, although the shoot-down of this plane is widely thought to be the event that triggered the genocide, the tribunal hasn’t looked into it and the U.N. hasn’t looked into it beyond that.

These investigators hired by the Rwanda tribunal produced a report, in 1996, based on what they thought was credible witness testimony by members of the RPF, that Kagame had planned the assassination and carried it out. When this report was presented to the prosecutor of the tribunal, she consulted the United States and then canceled the investigation.

There’s lots of other evidence that the shoot down was carried out by Kagame, and it was logical too because he couldn’t win an election. So, to attain power by conquest, he shot the plane down.

And another point that shows that he was the villain in the case is that when the plane was shot down on April 6, 1994, his forces were ready and were in action within two hours of the shoot down, whereas the alleged plotters were completely bamboozled and confused and put up almost no resistance. So anyway, the evidence is compelling that the shoot-down was carried out by Kagame, and it’s logical. But most critically, it’s a proven fact.

AG: And even, whether you believe the evidence or not, Paul Kagame and his forces were the only ones who stood to gain by Habyarimana’s assassination and what happened afterwards, right? Otherwise they would have lost to Habyarimana and his party in the next year’s election.

EH: Yes, he’s the only gainer from it.

AG: OK, let’s move on to Chapter Four: “Rwandan genocide by the numbers.” When Professor Allan Stam wrote to a U.N. official to ask how he estimated that the dead in Rwanda were 500,000, the U.N. official responded that he couldn’t quite remember, but they knew they needed a really big number.

The numbers that eventually came to be most widely accepted were that 800,000 to 1,000,000 Tutsi and a few Hutu moderates who tried to protect them died at the hands of Hutu extremists. Why is this impossible?

When Kagame arrived to speak at Oklahoma Christian University on April 30, 2010, he was met by protesters, including Rwandan American Claude Gatebuke. – Photo: Kendall Brown

When Kagame arrived to speak at Oklahoma Christian University on April 30, 2010, he was met by protesters, including Rwandan American Claude Gatebuke. – Photo: Kendall Brown

EH: It’s impossible because the number of Tutsi in Rwanda, back in 1994, was way under 800,000. In fact, the best figure one could come up with in those early years was based on the census, the Rwandan census of 1991, which gave the Tutsi numbers at about 590,000.

So if all of them were wiped out, it wouldn’t come anywhere near 800,000. But all of them weren’t wiped out. After the war, the best estimate, which was by a Tutsi survivors’ group, was that there were 400,000 Tutsi still there.

So let’s say there were 600,000 beforehand and afterwards there were 400,000, that means 200,000 dead Tutsi. If there were 800,000 killed and 200,000 of them were Tutsi, 600,000 of them must have been Hutu.

If it was a million, 800,000 of them must have been Hutu. And it’s completely logical that the Hutu were the greatest victims by number, because this was an invasion by a Tutsi army.

If a million Rwandans were killed in 1994, 800,000 of them must have been Hutu. And it’s completely logical that the Hutu were the greatest victims by number, because this was an invasion by a Tutsi army.

I conclude, as do Christian Davenport and Allan Stam, who did a very careful study of the killings in 1994, that many more Hutu were killed than Tutsi. And my estimate would be that it was between a 2 to 1 and 5 to 1 ratio, probably more like 4 to 1. That’s my best point estimate.

AG: OK, and because this is a very sensitive subject, I want to add that this was a tragedy for everyone in Rwanda. Hutus and Tutsis died.

Now let’s move on to Chapter Five, “The West’s alleged ‘failure to intervene.’” The story of the West’s failure to intervene to stop the Rwandan genocide has become the starting point of all the campaigns to go to war to “stop the next Rwanda.” What’s wrong with this story?

EH: What’s wrong with it is that the West was intervening from the very beginning. The West supported Kagame’s invasion in 1990. He was trained at Fort Leavenworth. And the United States and Britain pressed the Rwandan government to allow the RPF to penetrate and bring armed forces into Rwanda.

Just before the shoot down of the plane on April 6, 1994, the United States caused the U.N. to withdraw some of its troops. That was an intervention.

After the shoot down and the mass killings really started, the government of Rwanda called repeatedly for a ceasefire repeatedly, but Kagame did not want it because he knew he could win. And therefore the United States did not support any ceasefire and it recognized Kagame’s government after three more months of war.

It’s absolutely untrue that the West failed to intervene. They did intervene, but they intervened to support the man who was engaging in this war of conquest in Rwanda.

AG: I think that really needs emphasis. People have been led to believe that the massacres began and Paul Kagame and his army moved to stop them. What actually happened was that the massacres began and Paul Kagame resumed the war to win, at all costs.

EH: Yes, that’s true. In fact one could say that all the dead people were collateral damage. The aim of the United States was to support Kagame’s takeover, and if vast numbers of people were killed, it was a cost that we were prepared to accept.

But it doesn’t look good, so we have to say that we failed to intervene; we failed to stop it. Well, in fact, we not only failed to stop it, we actually supported the mass killing.

AG: Yes, Professor Allan Stam has reported that the Pentagon estimated collateral damage of 250,000 people, a quarter of a million. It turned out to be closer to a million.

EH: I can believe it.

AG: Those are some pretty grim numbers. The Pentagon, according to Professor Allan Stam, estimated that the collateral damage for putting our guy Kagame in power in Rwanda would be 250,000 Rwandan lives and it turned out to be closer to a million. Let’s take a breath and a musical break and we’ll be back shortly.

Musical interlude: Rwandan gospel music

Kizito Mihigo

Image: Rwandan gospel singer Kizito Mihigo is now serving a 10-year prison sentence in Rwanda.

AG: And that was Rwandan gospel singer Kizito Muhigo, a Rwandan Tutsi who is now serving 10 years in a Rwandan prison for singing those lyrics for both Hutu and Tutsi who died in the Rwandan massacres. The lyrics are:

Even though genocide orphaned me

Let it not make me lose empathy for others

Their lives too were brutally taken

But not qualified as genocide

Those brothers and sisters

They too are humans, I pray for them

They too are humans, I comfort them

They too are humans, I remember them

AG: Now we return to our conversation with Professor Ed Herman, co-author, with David Peterson, of “Enduring Lies: The Rwandan Genocide in the Propaganda System 20 Years Later.” Chapter Six: “The ICTR delivers victor’s justice.” The International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda is hailed as a great triumph of international justice, mostly in the corporate and state press. What was it in fact?

Rwandan refugee children plead for permission to cross the bridge to Congo, then Zaire, during the 1994 Rwandan massacres. – Photo: AP

Image: Rwandan refugee children plead for permission to cross the bridge to Congo, then Zaire, during the 1994 Rwandan massacres. – Photo: AP

EH: It did deliver victor’s justice. The first part of that statement is therefore correct. That it was a great triumph of international justice is a complete fallacy because victor’s justice is not international justice. Victor’s justice is a kind of revenge and, in fact, the ICTR served as a virtual arm of Kagame and the Rwandan state.

It went after only Hutu, although, as I pointed out a while ago, the majority of killings were killings of Hutu in Rwanda. But of course the RPF could not be brought to trial.

And of course the shoot-down of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana’s plane. When the tribunal found that Kagame’s forces were the ones who had shot down Habyarimana’s plane, it canceled any further investigation. That’s victor’s justice and a triumph of international injustice.

AG: They actually fired the prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, who had said that she was going to indict President Kagame for assassinating President Habyarimana.

EH: The prosecutor who dropped the case was Louise Arbour, but Carla Del Ponte actually did try, as you say, to go after some RPF people. She was not allowed to do it. She was fired shortly thereafter. Again, this is true victor’s justice.

AG: OK, Chapter Seven: “The alleged Hutu conspiracy to commit genocide that never was.” The idea that Rwanda’s majority Hutu conspired to wipe out the Tutsi minority is central to the Rwandan government’s official narrative. What’s the truth?

EH: Actually, the belief that there was a conspiracy to commit genocide is swallowed by the ICTR, by Human Rights Watch and many, many commentators. But the tribunal itself, when it had to come to grips with this, couldn’t find any such conspiracy.

They did believe that there was a genocide, and certainly there was mass killing, but a conspiracy to commit genocide would have had to take place before the shoot-down of the plane on April 6, 1994.

And so when high level people in the Hutu government were brought to trial and there was an attempt to find that they actually had a plan, the tribunal couldn’t find it. In this book, we studied 15 top trials where the prosecution attempted to prove a conspiracy to commit genocide, and in all 15 the tribunal found that there was no evidence for a conspiracy.

A Rwandan refugee father and his baby barely cling to life in Kibumba refugee camp, Goma, Zaire, in July 1994. – Photo: Debbie Morello, USN&R

Image: A Rwandan refugee father and his baby barely cling to life in Kibumba refugee camp, Goma, Zaire, in July 1994. – Photo: Debbie Morello, USN&R

There was killing, which they called genocide, but they could not find any pre-April 6, 1994, plan to commit genocide. So they rejected this argument, but the defenders and apologists for Kagame continue to talk about this conspiracy to commit genocide.

AG: Yes, I have noticed this, that the press doesn’t hesitate to repeat this, that there was a conspiracy before April 6, even though no court at the International Criminal Tribunal on Rwanda convicted anyone of that crime.

EH: Yes, it’s a remarkable fact that wipes out many of the claims about what happened in Rwanda.

AG: OK, let’s move on to Chapter Eight, “Did Paul Kagame’s RPF really ‘stop the genocide’?” This is the story that’s made him a celebrity in Western capitals. What’s the truth?

EH: Well, as I’ve been saying, Kagame actually started the genocide. He carried out the war. He refused to accept any ceasefires during the killing period. And I have made the case that more people were killed by Kagame’s RPF than were killed by any Hutus.

I think this idea that he stopped the genocide is the inverse of the truth. He started the genocide and in fact it never ended, because after he conquered the country, he didn’t stop killing Hutu. And within a short time, he went in to start killing Hutu and do other things in the Congo, where vast numbers of Hutu were killed.

I would argue that, insofar as there was a genocide in Rwanda in 1994, it can be credited to Paul Kagame. And there was a second, bigger genocide in the Congo that was also Paul Kagame’s doing.

So he’s a double genocidist, and one could argue too that Bill Clinton was a partner in this. Bill Clinton is arguably a genocidist.

AG: Yes, and one would hope that people might consider that in this upcoming election year. I know that people from this part of the world are very concerned about the likelihood of Hillary Clinton’s election.

 

Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea are led by Paul Kagame on a tour of Rwanda health clinics in July 2012. – Photo: Cyril Ndegeya, AP

Image: Bill Clinton and his daughter Chelsea are led by Paul Kagame on a tour of Rwanda health clinics in July 2012. – Photo: Cyril Ndegeya, AP

Now, Chapter Nine: “Africa’s World War: Kagame’s alleged pursuit of ‘genocidaires’ in Zaire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the death of millions.” What’s wrong with Kagame’s claim that his troops and proxy militias were in DR Congo for nearly 20 years to hunt down the Hutu genocidaires guilty of killing Rwanda’s Tutsi in 1994?

EH: Well, one problem is there were no “genocidaires.” There were members of the Rwandan army that had been beaten and dispersed, but they were not genocidaires. That’s baloney.

And he knows who did the killing, that he himself with his forces did most of the killing. But also, the army that was in the Congo, the old Hutu army, was no longer a real force. It had been defeated and these people had been dispersed in the Congo. They did not constitute a real threat to Rwanda.

So this claim was really, essentially, a big lie that Kagame was using with the support of the United States to continue attacking in the Congo. I mean you couldn’t say, “I’m going into the Congo to exploit their rich resources.”

No, you had to have a better excuse, and so the excuse was that there were these people who had committed planned genocide in Rwanda out there in the Congo and he was going in after them.  For 20 years. This is baloney but it’s been very effective.

It’s one reason why the ICTR, the tribunal, and the continuous prosecution of Hutu in Rwanda played into Kagame’s hands. He could argue, look, these people are being tried and convicted.

These are people who’ve committed genocide and there are some of them out there in the Congo, so I must hunt down these evil criminals. It’s a wonderful propaganda gambit. And it was swallowed in the West and he was not stopped.

So we’re dealing here with really mass killing. And yet there’s no tribunal that’s ever been established to try anybody for these crimes that tower over even what happened in Rwanda. Why is that? It’s because he’s a U.S. client and he’s serving U.S. and British interests in this resource rich Democratic Republic of the Congo.

AG: OK, now finally Chapter 12: “The role of the U.N., human rights groups, media, and intellectuals in promulgating the standard model, otherwise known as the official narrative of the Rwandan Genocide.”

'Enduring Lies' Table 2 Rwandan Genocide pro-con articles 2004-2014 by Ed Herman

EH: Well, the United States has been the superpower that has dominated what has happened in this area in the Congo and in Rwanda. The American people know almost nothing about the area, and since the United States has had a strong position of support for Kagame and for the invasion of the Congo, that dominated all the institutions that were associated with it.

The U.N. – most of its reports – were really supportive of the invasion. They swallowed the conspiracy to commit genocide line. They provided the tribunal.

It’s true that they did have some reports, like these reports I mentioned, that talked about mass killing in the Congo, but they couldn’t avoid that because this was such an enormous volume of killing, and there were millions of refugees. So the U.N. had to confront it, and they had to speak a certain amount of truth.

But essentially, the U.N. supported the U.S. position. And even during the Rwanda crisis in 1994, the U.N. did nothing when Kagame put a lot of military people right in Kigali. They let him get away with it.

The human rights groups also did poorly. Human Rights Watch was an outrage from the beginning, following the standard line.

And the media, moving forward to April 2014, and the 20th anniversary of the 1994 massacres, have supported the Western propaganda line.  When that anniversary made headlines, the bias of the mainstream media was dramatic. Thus 20 advocates for the standard model were given ten times as many bylined articles ad distinguished dissenters from that model; most of the dissenting experts couldn’t get into the mainstream media at all. And particularly terrible were the U.S. and British media.

Of the 20 dissenters from the standard model, there were a grand total of 17 articles, and most of them were in France. And most of these experts that were dissenters could never get into the mainstream media at all. And particularly terrible were the U.S. and British media.

The photo of this distraught child has become emblematic of the 1994 Rwandan massacres.

Image: The photo of this distraught child has become emblematic of the 1994 Rwandan massacres.

AG: OK, now that we’ve gone through most of the enduring lies, what similarities do you see between Rwanda 1990 to 1994 and what’s happening in Burundi now?

EH: Well, one very important similarity is that the United States and its allies are trying for regime change in Burundi, just as they did in Rwanda. They wanted to get rid of the Habyarimana government, a social democratic government in Rwanda. They don’t like the social democratic government in Burundi and they’re trying to get rid of it.

Another thing is that they’re talking of intervention here based on the fact that the head of state of Burundi has taken a third term, which is contested on a constitutional basis. And it’s ridiculous that the great powers should be upset about a third term, when they’re supporting Kagame, who is a dictator and who has his chief contestant, Victoire Ingabire, in jail and claims to get 93 percent of the vote.

They swallow that and don’t bother him at all, but here they’re going after the Burundian state, which is by comparison with Rwanda a wonderful democracy, and it is a social democracy.

AG: They have objected to Kagame’s plan to run for another term, but that’s their only objection.

EH: Yes, after all these years of atrocities.

And there’s also intervention more directly in Burundi now. There’s strong evidence that the Kagame government has been intervening in Burundi and that it’s trying to stir up agitation and killings that will cause more tension and upheaval in Burundi. This is all in preparation for further intervention to “save the people from genocide.” It has a familiar ring to it.

AG: Yes, it does. On page 20 in your book, you write, “At the time, meaning in the 1990s, and in contrast to the crises in Syria, Ukraine and Iraq today, Boris Yeltsin’s Russia was a non-factor in the U.N. Security Council and a rubber stamp for the United States.” Since you wrote that, Russia and China have used their veto power to keep the Security Council’s Western powers from passing resolutions to censure Burundi’s President Nkurunziza for seeking a third term in office or to approve humanitarian intervention “to stop genocide.”

‘Justice Belied’ coverNothing has yet come to a formal vote and veto, but the U.S. and E.U. keep failing to get the language they want into resolutions that are passed. Most recently, they asked the Security Council to approve an intervention by 5,000 African Union troops. It responded instead that it welcomed contingency planning in case an intervention was needed, but without giving its approval. How do you think this might play out?

EH: That’s a tough one. I’m just hoping that the Russians and the Chinese will stand firm and that the situation in Burundi will not deteriorate. If it does, if the destabilization efforts of Kagame and probably the United States are successful and it becomes increasingly violent, then it’s going to be tougher to stop the approval of that intervention from the African Union troops.

I just hope that doesn’t happen, but it’s very hard to predict. It’s an ominous situation.

AG: Is there anything else you’d like to say in closing?

EH: Well, what I’d like to say is that this issue on Rwanda and the struggles there and the work of the ICTR, it’s a very complicated issue, so I would urge people to get this book that we put out, which has a lot of detail.

But there are also some other really excellent books on the work of the ICTR and other international courts. There’s a very good book called “Justice Belied: The Unbalanced Scales of International Criminal Justice,” and it’s an anthology edited by Sébastien Chartrand and John Philpot. “Justice Belied” – it’s a critical work on the workings of the international justice system.

‘Rwanda and the New Scramble for Africa’ coverAnd many of the writers are very familiar with Rwanda and the issues in Africa and it’s even argued by some of the writers that the international justice system, as it’s now working, is really an arm of U.S. foreign policy.

AG: And here I think we have to mention Robin Philpot’s book as well, “Rwanda and the New Scramble for Africa, from Tragedy to Useful Imperial Fiction,” and the CIUT-Toronto Taylor Report, which has kept the truth about this story alive for nearly two decades. The Taylor Report airs at 5 pm Eastern time every Monday on CIUT-89.5fm-Toronto.

Professor Ed Herman, thank you for speaking to the Project Censored show.

EH: It was a pleasure, Ann.

The transcript of this interview previously appeared in the San Francisco Bay View.

 

 

[Edward Herman is an economist and media analyst. He is professor emeritus at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of many books, including The Myth of the Liberal Media. He is author with Noam Chomsky of “Manufacturing Consent.”]

[Oakland writer Ann Garrison writes for the San Francisco Bay View, Black Agenda Report, Black Star News,Counterpunch and her own website, Ann Garrison, and produces for AfrobeatRadio on WBAI-NYC, KPFA Evening NewsKPFA Flashpoints and for her own YouTube Channel, AnnieGetYourGang. She can be reached at anniegarrison@gmail.com. In March 2014 she was awarded the Victoire Ingabire Umuhoza Democracy and Peace Prize for promoting peace in the Great Lakes Region of Africa through her reporting.]