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AVAAZ: Washington’s Merchant of War Peddles the No Fly Zone in Syria, Calls for Another Libya

21st Century Wire

October 3, 2016

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Presently, the Syrian Arab Army and allies are advancing inexorably towards the liberation of Aleppo from the hordes of US coalition-funded terrorist brigades, headed up by Al Nusra Front aka Al Qaeda, and Washington’s foreign policy is in turmoil.  Despite its best efforts, the US coalition ‘intervention’ in Syria has been an unmitigated disaster, having hit the brick wall of President Bashar Al Assad’s popularity and also the fortitude of the Syrian people in withstanding everything the US coalition has flung at it, militarily and on the multimillion dollar propaganda front. Now an increasingly frustrated US coalition has pulled what they believe to be the Ace in their pack of public-perception-altering cards. 

Once again, the activist website Avaaz has been deployed, the flagship of the fleet of media and propaganda vessels all pouring forth the narrative that supports the US coalition demands  for a “we-fly-you-dont-zone”.  This week, Avaaz launched their No Fly Zone petition.  The infamous No Fly Zone petition that heralded the destruction of Libya in 2011, has now been tailored and dressed up, to be used against Syria. The language is clear: this petition calls for war.

Emotively labeled the “Protect Aleppo’s Children Now!” campaign, Avaaz has pulled out all the stops:

“There are no good options to end the war in Syria. But inaction is the worst one. A no-fly zone will mean that an international coalition can threaten to down planes that try to bomb Northern Syria. Almost 70% of Avaaz members support it. 8% oppose. Hesitation to use force to protect people is understandable and wise. But imagine it was our kids being bombed, what would we want the world to do? ”

This is a call to arms, and Avaaz is beating the drums of war once more.  Where the US administration has failed to garner support for a military escalation, Avaaz has taken on the mantle of chief warmonger and its not the first time.

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In Welcome to the Brave New World, Morningstar examines  Avaaz director, Perriello’s career and relationship with war criminals like Obama and his former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. (Both Avaaz and 350 board members supported the attack on Syria.) Avaaz, says Morningstar, is arguably “the world’s most powerful NGO.” (Photo: WKOG)

This article by Cory Morningstar was first published in 2013 at Wrong Kind of Green, but is eerily relevant today as the war drums echo across the US and Europe.

AVAAZ: SYRIA & LIBYA ~ THE ART OF WAR

“The Western Left had no such excuse in 2011, when Libya was being attacked. Here we had a small nation, of only six million people, under attack from the most devastating military power ever put together. 120 Cruise missiles fired in the first few days, and then over 26,000 sorties by NATO military aircraft, over an eight month period. To put that into perspective, its adds up to 150 bombing raids per day on a population the size of Ireland’s – every single day – for eight months. And all through, the Western Left cheered on the smashing of the Socialist state infrastructure and cheered on the racist lynch mobs…

 

…this same Left would have become the cheerleaders for a genocidal, racist, campaign against a Socialist state, with one of the highest standards of living in the Developing World, and with a human rights record that was gaining widespread praise in the UN? Not to mention an advanced system of Direct Democracy…

 

Without having any real idea of who or what these “rebels” were, the Western Left became complicit. They were sucked in. Joyfully sucked in. They filled out the missing spaces with their fantasies of democratic protestors, valiantly standing up to the Viagra drugged soldiers of a hated dictator. That a million Libyans came out and filled Green Square, under the threat of NATO bombing, to show their support for Muammar al-Gaddafi was easily overlooked. A seduced person, a person who is loving the thrill of being seduced, no longer has any use for truth or facts. And so, even after the brutal murder of Muammar al-Gaddafi, by drone and fighter jet attack, and then by a crazed mob, the madness of the Western Left continued…” —Donnchadh Mac an Ghoill, The “Arab Spring” and the Seduction of the Western Left

As Avaaz continues to beat the drums of war, it is critical to reflect upon the vital role Avaaz served in framing the attack on Libya as not only palatable, but righteous and moral. The No Fly Zone placed upon Libya, which Avaaz relentlessly campaigned for, facilitated the complete annihilation of Libya and the slaughter of tens of thousands of her citizens.

Today, Libya is absolutely destroyed and in deep turmoil. Yet, two years later, Avaaz continues to push for the same in Syria: a no fly zone and the implementation of the Responsibility to Protect doctrine by the United Nations. Few would be surprised, if only they knew, that a key founder of Avaaz is none other than pro-war Tom Perriello, a former U.S. Representative (represented the 5th District of Virginia from 2008 to 2010) and a founding member of the House Majority Leader’s National Security Working Group. Perriello’s curriculum vitae, built upon privilege within elite circles, is extensive.

The following is an excerpt from Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War | Part II, Section I, written by Cory Morningstar, published on Sept 24, 2012.

“The call for a no-fly zone originated from Libyans – including the provisional opposition government, Libya’s (defected) ambassador to the UN, protesters, and youth organizations.”

Today Avaaz claims 13,649,421 members, 70,432,165 “actions” (taken since January 2007) and 194 countries with Avaaz members according to the information provided by Avaaz, retrieved on 2 March 2012. During the typing of this single paragraph, the Avaaz membership rose by 30 people to 13,649,451. [Avaaz Facts]

The members are primarily citizens residing within Imperialist or wealthy states. Consider the following three examples: (Stats retrieved from the Avaaz global “membership” virtual map.)

Avaaz members situated in United States: 923,968

Avaaz members situated in Canada: 667,592

Avaaz members situated in Libya: 3,167

On 10 March 2011, John Hilary challenged Avaaz in a Guardian article titled “Internet activists should be careful what they wish for in Libya. Calls for a no-fly zone over Libya ignore the perils of intervention. Long-term solutions aren’t as simple as the click of a mouse.”

Hilary writes:

“A no-fly zone would almost certainly draw Nato countries into further military involvement in Libya, replacing the agency of the Libyan people with the control of those governments who have shown scant regard for their welfare. As long as the oil kept flowing, western governments have been happy to prop up dictators who kept a heavy boot on their people’s freedom. Libyans are unlikely to be grateful to be bombed by those same western governments attempting to enforce a no-fly zone. Indeed such action would help Muammar Gaddafi by justifying his rhetoric about foreign intervention, not to mention stopping fledgling revolutions across the region in their tracks.

 

Clearly a no-fly zone makes foreign intervention sound rather humanitarian – putting the emphasis on stopping bombing, even though it could well lead to an escalation of violence.

 

No wonder, too, that it is rapidly becoming a key call of hawks on both sides of the Atlantic. The military hierarchy, with their budgets threatened by government cuts, surely cannot believe their luck – those who usually oppose wars are openly campaigning for more military involvement.”

Although Hilary knowingly or otherwise dismisses the very real foreign intervention as “rhetoric” while not divulging the fact that the “fledgling revolutions” he speaks of were instigated/infiltrated/financed by foreign interests, Hilary ends with a prophetic note:

“Calling for military intervention is a huge step – the life and death of hundreds of thousands of people might hang in the balance. The difference between the ease of the action and the impact of the consequence is vast.

 

In the Spanish civil war many brave people felt so strongly that they sacrificed their own lives to support the struggle against fascism in that country. How incredible it would have seemed to them, less than a hundred years later, that people would be using a click of their mouse to send armies to fight battles that might end in the death of so many others.”

Avaaz’s campaign director, Ben Wikler, posted a comment in response to Hilary’s article [in red]. Bold emphasis have been added.

“Dear John,

“Thanks for this piece. Sorry that you felt we got this wrong. We’re doing our best and of course, people of good will with similar values can sometimes disagree. Here’s a bit more background and explanation for you on our decision on the no-fly zone –

Avaaz is people-powered. Our member community makes the calls. We use polls to gauge members’ views; 84% of members supported this campaign, while 9% opposed it. Since launching it, we’ve found intense support for the campaign from around the world.

Our staff also play a key role in consulting with leading experts around the world (and most of our staff have policy as well as advocacy backgrounds) on each of the campaigns we run, and Libya was no exception.

In some ways, we work a lot like journalists like you do, talking to people and weighing the facts before we form conclusions. However, our staff’s personal conclusions also have to pass the test of our membership being strongly supportive of any position we take.

We’re acutely aware of your and some others’ objections to this campaign. Here are the main issues that people have raised, and where we’re coming from regarding them:

Would imposing a no-fly zone really be a Western military intervention motivated by oil?

If Western powers use the no-fly zone as a pretext for self-interested military action, Avaaz would be among the first groups to campaign against it – just as Avaaz has campaigned to end the Iraq conflict and ensure that Iraq’s oil rights are reserved for the Iraqi people.

The call for a no-fly zone originated from Libyans – including the provisional opposition government, Libya’s (defected) ambassador to the UN, protesters, and youth organizations.

The same Libyan groups have strongly opposed any western military presence on Libyan soil. They clearly feel that a no-fly zone is not equivalent to or a step towards invasion.Avaaz staff are in close and constant contact with activists inside Libya and have been repeatedly asked to move forward on this campaign.

Meanwhile, among governments, Gulf States have demanded the no-fly zone, and the U.S. government, far from itching to move ahead, appears deeply divided on the idea.

Furthermore, our advocacy has been for the UN Security Council to authorize a no-fly zone, not any coalition of western nations. You can bet that China and Russia will not sign off on a no-fly zone if they think it’s a cover for a Western oil grab.

Would imposing a no-fly zone lead to a full-blown international war?

No-fly zones can mean a range of different things. Some analysts and military figures have argued that it would require a pre-emptive attack on Libya’s anti-aircraft weapons. Others, however, contend that merely flying fighter planes over the rebel-controlled areas would ensure that Qaddafi wouldn’t use his jets to attack eastern Libya, because he knows his air force is weaker than that of Egypt or NATO states. The best solution is the one that reduces civilian deaths the most with the least violence. Things might not turn out as expected, but while there are potential dangers to an international war, there are certain dangers to civilians if things continue without a no-fly zone.

Is Qaddafi really killing civilians with this air force?

Based on reports from our partners on the ground, from the Red Cross, and from a variety of local and international news reports, we believe Qaddafi’s bombing runs are indeed killing civilians. Qaddafi’s air power is a key advantage over those fighting to remove him: as long as he has control of the air, attacks seem likely to continue for months or even longer, with disastrous consequences for civilians.

Wouldn’t a UN resolution for a no-fly zone violate national sovereignty?

We believe that the international community has a responsibility to protect civilians when national governments threaten their fundamental human rights.

National sovereignty should not be a legitimate barrier to international action when crimes against humanity are being committed. If you strongly disagree, then you may find yourself at odds with other Avaaz campaigns as well.

All told, this was a difficult judgment call.

Calling for any sort of military response always is. Avaaz members have been advocating for weeks for a full set of non-military options as well, including an asset freeze, targeted sanctions, and prosecutions of officials involved in the violent crackdown on demonstrators.

But although those measures are moving forward, the death toll is rising. Again, thoughtful people can disagree – but in the Avaaz community’s case, only 9% of our thoughtful people opposed this position – somewhat surprising given that we have virtually always advocated for peaceful methods to resolve conflict in the past. We think it was the best position to take given the balance of expert opinion, popular support, and most of all, the rights and clearly expressed desire of the Libyan people.

Respectfully,

Ben Wikler

Let’s break this down. In the Avaaz rebuttal Wikler states:

“Avaaz is people-powered. Our member community makes the calls. We use polls to gauge members’ views; 84% of members supported this campaign, while 9% opposed it. Since launching it, we’ve found intense support for the campaign from around the world.”

The question must be asked – why does “intense support of the campaign from around the world” from an organization co-founded by MoveOn that, as stated in 2002, caters to members comprised of “mostly white, highly educated, computer savvy … and willing to give dough” supersede the rights of a sovereign nation and her citizens against foreign interference?

How would unleashing a military operation in Libya affect Avaaz constituents attending Harvard? In fact, the Avaaz demographic is one that is being trained to not think – just click. Indeed, critical thinking is a detriment and a very real threat to the entire Avaaz phenomenon. Surely, the “wish” for foreign intervention and no-fly zones (more commonly known as war and bombs) should only be considered by those who will be affected directly by such a military campaign.

As Avaaz states, their Libyan membership is a mere 3,167 people – one must ask how Avaaz considers the 3,167 Libyan Avaaz “members” as representative of “the Libyan people” in a country with (prior to the invasion) a population of almost 6 million citizens.

“This world exists simply to satisfy the needs—including, importantly, the sentimental needs—of white people and Oprah.” — Teju Cole

The fact is that the Libyan people as a society had no representation in the Avaaz campaign calling for foreign military intervention to be inflicted upon the Libyan tribal society. In spite of Wikler’s ridiculous rhetoric, the fact is Libyan citizens were considered by Avaaz to hold little significance.

Avaaz, iconic symbol of the white ivory towers of justice, followed in the path of other international NGOs in the racist ideology that the belief system upheld by the “educated” “middleclass” in the wealthy states is far superior to any contrary beliefs and ideologies of tribal/civil societies in African and Arab nations. It is only the people from within these privileged classes whose opinions matter, hence the victorious proclamation of the 84% support.

The Avaaz position is even more problematic when you consider the following.

What constitutes becoming an Avaaz “member”? As with the other “online activism” NGOS, Avaaz’s actual membership is open to interpretation. For example, Avaaz affiliate GetUp states, “Join the movement of 589,261 Australians. Become a member now.”

However, this figure is derived from the entire database of signed GetUp petitions, whereby each signatory is automatically enlisted as “a member.” [6] As Avaaz is modeled after GetUp and MoveOn, and considering the membership increases rapidly within a 60 second time-frame, one can assume with certainty that an Avaaz “membership” is instantly granted to each and every individual signing a petition. This ruse serves as a brilliant method of disguising where the majority of their largesse (i.e., investment) originated from (i.e., the corporate state) while further reinforcing the false impression that their funding originated from grassroots sources.

(The latest feel-good consumer NGO (first media mention 29 November 2011, first “tweet” on 4 November 2011), yet another thinking person’s nightmare named SumOfUs, already boasts 262,950 members worldwide. Where did these members come from? Affiliated NGO membership lists?)

If one signed an Avaaz petition in 2007, long before realizing whose interests this organization truly represents, is this same individual still considered a member in 2012? If 3,167 Libyan Avaaz members signed an Avaaz petition in 2008 to save elephants in Africa, this does not constitute a Libyan majority demanding military interference in 2011.

Wikler states:

“Our staff also play a key role in consulting with leading experts around the world (and most of our staff have policy as well as advocacy backgrounds) on each of the campaigns we run, and Libya was no exception.”

The question is, just exactly who are these experts Avaaz continues to refer to? Nowhere does Avaaz disclose these “experts” nor their affiliations. And which institutions and societies shaped their policy and advocacy backgrounds?

 Wikler states:

“If Western powers use the no-fly zone as a pretext for self-interested military action, Avaaz would be among the first groups to campaign against it.”

Yet, there has been a massive amount of evidence demonstrating, unequivocally, that this was exactly what the pretext was. “Self-interested military action” is exactly what happened, which begs the question – what happened to Avaaz claiming they “would be among the first groups to campaign against it”?

Not only does Avaaz contradict this statement, but this organization has done NOTHING to inform the public of any evidence of the deliberate destruction of Libya under the guise of a “humanitarian war.” To this day, not only is there NO EVIDENCE to support this invasion (made possible by the collaboration of yet another 77 NGOs), rather, there is a massive amount of evidence to the contrary.

This was a well-planned, deliberate destabilization project that unleashed hell on a sovereign country – a country that had neither attacked nor invaded another nation. Avaaz has never released any material criticizing the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by NATO and the rebel militias that Avaaz was supporting. Nor has Avaaz shared with their supporters the horrific, racist rebel crimes and ethnic cleansing that NATO turned a blind eye to, and that were thoroughly documented throughout the invasion upon Libya. On the shocking racial atrocities filmed and documented in Tawergha, the white ivory towers remain silent. Aside from the evidence, prior to the invasion of Libya, and after, one would think that the “experts” of Avaaz would have vast knowledge of how destabilization campaigns are strategically planned and carried out by Imperialist states as documented in past and recent history. And of course, when one looks at the background of the founders who comprise Avaaz, we can understand they knew full well.

Wikler states:

“The call for a no-fly zone originated from Libyans – including the provisional opposition government, Libya’s (defected) ambassador to the UN, protesters, and youth organizations.”

As for Libya’s (defected) ambassador to the UN: “Just a few days after the street protests began, on February 21, the very quick to defect Libyan deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Ibrahim Dabbashi, stated: ‘We are expecting a real genocide in Tripoli. The airplanes are still bringing mercenaries to the airports.’ This is excellent: a myth that is composed of myths. With that statement he linked three key myths together – the role of airports (hence the need for that gateway drug of military intervention: the no-fly zone), the role of “mercenaries” (meaning, simply, black people), and the threat of ‘genocide‘ (geared toward the language of the UN’s doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect). As ham-fisted and wholly unsubstantiated as the assertion was, he was clever in cobbling together three ugly myths, one of them grounded in racist discourse and practice that endures to the present, with newer atrocities reported against black Libyan and African migrants on a daily basis. He was not alone in making these assertions.” [Source: TOP TEN MYTHS IN NATO’S WAR AGAINST LIBYA]

It is an outrageous statement to claim it was the wish of the Libyan people to impose a military zone upon their own country. Further, the defected ambassador was clearly carrying out duties for the Imperialist states. Who were these protestors and youth organizations Avaaz speaks of? Are these the Libyans that comprise the 3,167 Libyan Avaaz members? Are they the youth groups set up by Avaaz funder and partner, the Soros Open Society Institute? Are they connected with the U.S.-funded Otpor or funded by another NGO fed by the U.S. administration? Nowhere is this information disclosed. Further, do the 3,167 Libyan Avaaz members actually live in Libya? Did all 3,167 Libyan Avaaz members sign the Avaaz petition, essentially demanding that their country become a war zone?

Wikler states:

“The same Libyan groups have strongly opposed any western military presence on Libyan soil. They clearly feel that a no-fly zone is not equivalent to or a step towards invasion. Avaaz staff are in close and constant contact with activists inside Libya and have been repeatedly asked to move forward on this campaign.”

It is beyond obvious that a no-fly zone in an oil rich country would open the door to Imperialist vultures. Who told these so-called “Libyan Groups” (whoever they are we do not know) such a ridiculous thing, “that a no-fly zone is not equivalent to or a step towards invasion”? One must assume this information was conveyed to the “Libyan Groups” by the Avaaz “experts” since the Avaaz staff claim they were “in close and constant contact with activists inside Libya.” Further, in response to the proposed no-fly zone, Wikler goes on to say “there are potential dangers to an international war…” One must question why Wikler is aware of the potential of international war in response to a no-fly zone while the “Libyan Groups” believe (according to Avaaz) that “a no-fly zone is not equivalent to or a step towards invasion.”

Wikler states:

“Meanwhile, among governments, Gulf States have demanded the no-fly zone, and the U.S. government, far from itching to move ahead, appears deeply divided on the idea.”

Yet, as Wikler convinced and assured the Guardian readership that the U.S. was hesitant to “intervene” in Libya, the reality was that two U.S. destroyers and a number of missile-launching submarines were in fact already deployed and headed for the Libyan coast. These destroyers decisively delivered 110 Tomahawk missiles 9 days later on 19 March 2011 as part of the military operation titled “Operation Odyssey Dawn.”

“The Royal Navy bought 65 Tomahawks in 1995 at a cost of $1 million (£650,000) each from U.S. defence firm Raytheon Systems. Two American destroyers, the U.S.S Barry and Stout, have been deployed. According to a Pentagon source, each carries up to 96 Tomahawk missiles.” [Source]

19 March 2011: “Cruise missiles from U.S. submarines and frigates began the attack on the anti-aircraft system. A senior defense official speaking on background said the attacks will ‘open up the environment so we could enforce the no-fly zone from east to west throughout Libya.’” [Source]

Wikler states:

“[T]here are certain dangers to civilians if things continue without a no-fly zone.”

Perhaps Wikler was speaking to certain dangers to American and European civilians if Gaddafi were to have succeeded in replacing the U.S. dollar and the Euro with an African Dinar, backed by gold, to build unity and autonomy throughout African nations. Perhaps he was referring to civilians who are living under an economic system that is dependent upon the continued exploitation and stealing of other nations’ vast resources. As Libya was a nation with no debt, interest-free loans, free education, free healthcare, and a state-of-the-art water system and a country that held the highest standard of living in Africa, it is difficult to imagine what exactly Libyans would have been fearing aside from a pending invasion by Imperialist states.

Wikler states:

“Based on reports from our partners on the ground, from the Red Cross, and from a variety of local and international news reports, we believe Qaddafi’s bombing runs are indeed killing civilians.”

Wikler is purposely vague. What reports exactly are they referring to? What partners?

March 1st Pentagon Briefing:

Q: Do you see any evidence that [Gaddafi] actually has fired on his own people from the air?  There were reports of it, but do you have independent confirmation? If so, to what extent? Secretary of Defence – ROBERT GATES:

A: “We’ve seen the press reports, but we have no confirmation of that,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs – Admiral MICHAEL MULLEN

A: “That’s correct. We’ve seen no confirmation whatsoever.”

In the following video, General Wesley Clark explains the Libyan invasion, Syria and Somalia, all planned years in advance: 

Wikler states:

“We believe that the international community has a responsibility to protect civilians when national governments threaten their fundamental human rights.”

Here Wikler echoes the current dogma being repeated incessantly by the U.S. administration and their corporate media lackeys. If Avaaz truly had any “experts” on civilian interests trumping those of corporate interests, Avaaz would tell us that this is merely language designed to facilitate societal acceptance of war by presenting it as “humanitarian intervention” and “responsibility to protect” (R2P). Prior to this lovely terminology, it was formerly known as “the Right to Intervene.”

Wikler states:

“Again, thoughtful people can disagree – but in the Avaaz community’s case, only 9% of our thoughtful people opposed this position – somewhat surprising given that we have virtually always advocated for peaceful methods to resolve conflict in the past. We think it was the best position to take given the balance of expert opinion, popular support, and most of all, the rights and clearly expressed desire of the Libyan people.”

This highlights a very dangerous experiment, and now precedent, set by Avaaz. Wikler openly expresses that they were surprised to find only 9% of their “membership” (based upon their polls) opposed a no-fly zone. Wikler stating that this position was “somewhat surprising given that we have virtually always advocated for peaceful methods to resolve conflict in the past” is, by his own admission, acknowledging that this new direction is one that is not peaceful. One should note that all NGOs use polls and marketing executives to create and lay out most all campaigns and campaign strategies. Avaaz is no exception; rather, Avaaz should be considered the rule.

Avaaz’s integration into militarism can be seen in their continual polling that outlines, in essence, what citizens are responsive to, and what they are willing to tolerate. In the 13 January 2010 global Avaaz poll, participants were asked to rate 6 priorities in order of importance. The stated priorities from which one could choose included human rights, torture and genocide (#2), democracy movements and tyrannical regimes (#3) war, peace and security (#4) and corruption and abuse of power (#5). Incidentally number 1 was climate change, however after the failed Copenhagen climate talks, this issue was no longer considered a hot commodity for NGO branding purposes and thus the campaign on climate was, for the most part, abandoned altogether. All other proposed “choices” are key elements/issues associated with militarism.

How Wikler and his Avaaz cohorts sleep at night, knowing the Avaaz campaign contributed to the annihilation of as many as 100,000 Libyan civilians and unleashed a racial war, is anyone’s guess. Although it certainly must help when one is surrounded by like-minded people who all reinforce your distorted world views while reassuring each other that each is more brilliant than the other and the end justifies the means.

This is the beauty and the power of neo-liberalism activism conformity. It allows one to behave like an asshole, while those indoctrinated into the same belief system, including corporate and so-called “progressive” media, portray you as a celebrity. The oligarchy’s willingness to ensure the egos remain plump and well-nourished is strategic. This ensures that the narcissist’s delusions are reinforced while simultaneously ensuring any doubt is cast far away.

No one wishes to be ostracized from the champagne circuit. Wikler recently left Avaaz to become Executive Vice President at Change.org, another Soros (for-profit) NGO, while thousands upon thousands of Libyans paid the ultimate price for his campaign, which can be found on the Avaaz website under recent “victories.” Ben Wikler’s compensation as Avaaz Campaign Director in 2010 was a reported $111,384 (990 Form).

Not everyone was so gullible. One reader (“derazed”) comments beneath the Guardian article:

“Up until its latest, I had appreciated Avaaz – even gave some money in the direction of providing Arab activists telecommunications equipment. When the no-fly email arrived, I created my own “no fly” zone – by terminating my email relationship with Avaaz. The internet and real-life events have taught me something about warmongers in virtual clothing.”

[28 March 2011: Fortune-500 funded Brookings Institution’s “Libya’s Test of the New International Order” is reported on – exposing the war as not one of a “humanitarian” nature, but one aimed explicitly at establishing an international order and the primacy of international law.]

***

 

FURTHER READING:

SYRIA: Avaaz, Purpose & the Art of Selling Hate for Empire

FURTHER READING:

WHO ARE SYRIA’S WHITE HELMETS (terrorist linked)?

Avaaz: Manufacturing Consent for Wars Since 2011

Wall of Controversy

March 20, 2015

By James Boswell

 

 

Four years ago I received an email from the internet campaign group Avaaz which read:

“Together, we’ve sent 450,000 emails to the UN Security Council, “overwhelming” the Council President and helping to win targeted sanctions and a justice process for the Libyan people. Now, to stop the bloodshed, we need a massive outcry for a no-fly zone.” [Bold as in the original.]

Of course, that no-fly zone was Nato’s justification for a war – “no-fly zone” means war. So the bloodshed wasn’t about to be stopped, it was about to begin in earnest:

The foreign media has largely ceased to cover Libya because it rightly believes it is too dangerous for journalists to go there. Yet I remember a moment in the early summer of 2011 in the frontline south of Benghazi when there were more reporters and camera crews present than there were rebel militiamen. Cameramen used to ask fellow foreign journalists to move aside when they were filming so that this did not become too apparent. In reality, Gaddafi’s overthrow was very much Nato’s doing, with Libyan militiamen mopping up.

Executing regime change in Libya cost the lives of an estimated 20,000 people: but this was only the immediate death toll, and as a civil war rages on, the final figure keeps rising, indefinitely and seemingly inexorably. And the number of victims will go on rising for so long as there is lawlessness and chaos in a country now completely overrun with terrorists and warlords. So what was started with a “no-fly zone” is ending with a hell on earth: abandon hope all ye who enter here.

Given their unpardonable role in instigating this entirely avoidable human catastrophe, does it come as any surprise when, with “mission accomplished”, the media chose to turn its back on the carnage in Libya? Patrick Cockburn, who wrote the article from which the above quote is taken, has been a rare exception to the rule. A journalist who was not so quick to swallow the official line, he has since been committed to telling the bigger story, which includes the falsity of Nato’s original justifications for air strikes:

Human rights organisations have had a much better record in Libya than the media since the start of the uprising in 2011. They discovered that there was no evidence for several highly publicised atrocities supposedly carried out by Gaddafi’s forces that were used to fuel popular support for the air war in the US, Britain, France and elsewhere. These included the story of the mass rape of women by Gaddafi’s troops that Amnesty International exposed as being without foundation. The uniformed bodies of government soldiers were described by rebel spokesmen as being men shot because they were about to defect to the opposition. Video film showed the soldiers still alive as rebel prisoners so it must have been the rebels who had executed them and put the blame on the government.

So here is a pattern that repeats with uncanny consistency, and with the mainstream media’s failure to discover and report on the truth also recurring with near parallel regularity. We had the ‘Babies out of incubators’ story in Kuwait, and then those WMDs in Iraq that, as Bush Jnr joked, “have got to be here somewhere”, to offer just two very well-established prior instances of the kinds of lies that have taken us to war.

Patrick Cockburn continues:

Foreign governments and media alike have good reason to forget what they said and did in Libya in 2011, because the aftermath of the overthrow of Gaddafi has been so appalling. The extent of the calamity is made clear by two reports on the present state of the country, one by Amnesty International called “Libya: Rule of the gun – abductions, torture and other militia abuses in western Libya” and a second by Human Rights Watch, focusing on the east of the country, called “Libya: Assassinations May Be Crimes Against Humanity”.1

Click here to read Patrick Cockburn’s full article published last November.

But accusations do not stop even at the deplorable roles played by “foreign governments and media alike”, but apply to all of the various warmongering parties at that time, and one of the groups we must also point the finger to is Avaaz. For it was Avaaz, more than any other campaign group, who pushed alongside Nato in their call for the “no-fly zone” which got the whole war going. To reiterate, since it is vitally important that this is understood, a “no-fly zone” always and without exception means war:

Clearly a no-fly zone makes foreign intervention sound rather humanitarian – putting the emphasis on stopping bombing, even though it could well lead to an escalation of violence.

No wonder, too, that it is rapidly becoming a key call of hawks on both sides of the Atlantic. The military hierarchy, with their budgets threatened by government cuts, surely cannot believe their luck – those who usually oppose wars are openly campaigning for more military involvement.2

So wrote John Hilary in an excellent article entitled “Internet activists should be careful what they wish for in Libya” published on the cusp of “intervention”.

In response, Ben Wikler, a campaign director at Avaaz, posted a comment that included the following remarks:

Would imposing a no-fly zone lead to a full-blown international war? No-fly zones can mean a range of different things.

Wikler is wrong and Hilary correct: “no-fly zones” always mean war. And as a consequence, those at Avaaz like Ben Wikler now have blood on their hands – and yet are unrepentant.

Yes, as with most others who were directly or indirectly culpable, “foreign governments and media alike”, it seems Avaaz too are suffering from collective amnesia. Not only have they forgotten the terrible consequences of imposing a “no-fly zone” on Libya, but they also seem to have forgotten their own deliberate efforts when it came to bolstering public support for that “bloody and calamitous” (to use Cockburn’s words) “foreign intervention” (to use the weasel euphemisms of Nato and the West). Because instead of reflecting upon the failings of Nato’s air campaign four years ago, and without offering the slightest murmur of apology for backing it (not that apologies help at all), Avaaz are now calling upon their supporters to forget our murderous blundering of the recent past, with calls for the same action all over again… this time in Syria.

It was yesterday when I received the latest email from Avaaz. Don’t worry, I’m not a supporter (although the simple fact I receive their emails means by their own definition, I am presumably counted one), but after Libya I chose to remain on their mailing list simply to keep an eye on what they were doing. And (not for the first or the second time) they are selling us on more war:

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.

But today there is a chance to stop these barrel bomb murders with a targeted No Fly Zone.

The US, Turkey, UK, France and others are right now seriously considering a safe zone in Northern Syria. Advisers close to President Obama support it, but he is worried he won’t have public support. That’s where we come in.

Let’s tell him we don’t want a world that just watches as a dictator drops chemical weapons on families in the night. We want action.

One humanitarian worker said ‘I wish the world could see what I have seen with my eyes. It breaks your heart forever.’ Let’s show that the world cares — sign to support a life-saving No Fly Zone

Obviously, I am not supplying the link for this latest call to arms: “a[nother] life-saving No Fly Zone”.

After Avaaz called for war against Libya back in 2011, I wrote a restrained article. But I was too polite. When they called for war again following the sarin gas attack on Ghouta, I hesitated again and looked into the facts. They didn’t stack up (as I explained at length in another post). But nor did I damn Avaaz on that occasion, as I ought to have done, when with Libya already ablaze they set up a campaign like this (sorry that it’s hard to read):

Since that time it has become evident to the world (at least the one outside the Avaaz office) that it has been Syrian forces who have most successfully fought back against Islamist extremists (al-Qaeda, but now more often called ISIS) who not only use poison gas to murder their enemies and spread fear, but methods so barbaric and depraved – public mass beheadings, crucifixions and even cannibalism – that you wonder which century we are living in. But Avaaz push the blame for all of this killing back on to the Assad regime, just as the West (whose close allies continue to back the so-called “rebels”) have also tried to do. And Avaaz are now saying (once again) that escalating the conflict is the way to save the people of Syria – so don’t worry if it spreads the infection now called ISIS – more love bombs are the preferred Avaaz solution for every complex political situation:

“Today, Gadhafi is dead, and the Libyan people have their first chance for democratic, accountable governance in decades…. American casualties were zero. Insurgent fighters and the vast majority of the population have cheered the victory as liberation, and courageous Syrians who face daily threats of death for standing up to their own repressive regime have taken comfort in Gadhafi’s fall. These accomplishments are no small feats for those who care about human dignity, democracy, and stability….

Progressives often demand action in the face of abject human suffering, but we know from recent history that in some situations moral condemnation, economic sanctions, or ex-post tribunals don’t save lives. Only force does.”

These are the self-congratulatory words of Tom Perriello, the co-founder of Avaaz, writing in late 2012. And he finishes the same piece:

We must realize that force is only one element of a coherent national security strategy and foreign policy. We must accept the reality—whether or not one accepts its merits—that other nations are more likely to perceive our motives to be self-interested than values-based. But in a world where egregious atrocities and grave threats exist, and where Kosovo and Libya have changed our sense of what’s now possible, the development of this next generation of power can be seen as a historically unique opportunity to reduce human suffering. 3

Independent investigative journalist, Cory Morningstar, who has probed very deeply into the organization says, “Make no mistake – this is the ideology at the helm of Avaaz.org.”

As she explains:

Tom Perriello is a long-time collaborator with Ricken Patel. Together, they co-founded Avaaz.org, Res Publica and FaithfulAmerica.org.

Perriello is a former U.S. Representative (represented the 5th District of Virginia from 2008 to 2010) and a founding member of the House Majority Leader’s National Security Working Group.

Perriello was also co-founder of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. He worked for Reverend Dr. James Forbes on “prophetic justice” principles. Many of these organizations were created with the intent of creating a broad-based “religious left” movement. […]

Despite the carefully crafted language and images that tug at your emotions, such NGOs were created for and exist for one primary purpose – to protect and further American policy and interests, under the guise of philanthropy and humanitarianism.

As Cory Morningstar also points out:

In December 2011, Perriello disclosed that he served as special adviser to the international war crimes prosecutor and has spent extensive time in 2011 in Egypt and the Middle East researching the Arab Spring. Therefore, based on this disclosure alone, there can be no doubt that the deliberate strategy being advanced by Avaaz cannot be based upon any type of ignorance or naïveté. 4

“It breaks your heart forever.” That was the heading under which yesterday’s email arrived and the way it signed off went as follows: “With hope, John, Mais, Nick, Alice, Rewan, Wissam, Ricken and the rest of the Avaaz team”. And this is how they come again with further ploys to prick your conscience. So do please remember before you click on their pastel-coloured links or forward those ‘messages’ to your own friends, how they beat the drums to war on two earlier occasions. In 2013, when they last called for the bombing of Syria (but the war party were halted in their mission), and in 2011 when they first aided Nato’s grand deception and helped to bring unremitting horrors to the innocent people of Libya. Keep in mind too, how lacking in guilt they have been in light of their own imploring role during the run up to the full “shock and awe” display over Tripoli.

Because John, Mais, Nick, Alice, Rewan, Wissam, Ricken and the rest… are really not our friends. They are humanitarian hawks, who are in the business of manufacturing consent for every Nato “intervention”. Indeed, I would like to ask John, Mais, Nick, Alice, Rewan, Wissam, Ricken and the rest, in good faith, just how do you sleep at night?

Click here to read a thorough examination of Avaaz put together by independent investigative journalist Cory Morningstar.

*

Additional:

Here is an open letter I constructed in Summer 2012, but then decided not to post:

Dear Ricken, Eli and the whole Avaaz team,

By your own rather loose definition, I have been a member of Avaaz now for several years. In other words I responded to one of your campaigns many moons ago, and have never subsequently withdrawn my name from your mailing list. I believe that under your own terms, I am thus one of the many millions of your ‘members’. You presume that all those like me who are ‘in the Avaaz community’ support your various campaigns simply because we are on your contact list, although in my own case, this is absolutely not the case. I have ceased to support any of the Avaaz campaigns since you pushed for a ‘no-fly zone’ over Libya, and from this time on, have kept up with your campaign messages simply to keep an eye on you. I vowed never again to sign any of your petitions on the grounds that I do not wish to be a supporter of any organisation that backs an aggressive and expansionist war.

The most common criticism of Avaaz, and other internet campaign groups, is that it encourages ‘slacktivism’, which is indeed a very valid concern:

Sites such as Avaaz, suggested Micah White in the Guardian last year, often only deal with middle-of-the-road causes, to the exclusion of niche interests: “They are the Walmart of activism . . . and silence underfunded radical voices.” More infamously, internet theorist Evgeny Morozov has called the likes of Avaaz “Slacktivists”, claiming that they encourage previously tenacious activists to become lazy and complacent.

There’s also the issue of breadth. Clicktivist websites often cover a range of issues that have little thematic or geographical relation to each other, which leaves them open to accusations of dilettantism.

Click here to read Patrick Kingsey’s full article in the Guardian.

Ricken Patel’s response to Kingsley is to point to their campaign against Murdoch’s takeover of BSkyB:

“Our activism played a critical role in delaying the BskyB deal until the recent scandal was able to kill it,” Avaaz‘s founder, New York-based Ricken Patel, tells me via Skype. 5

So is this really the best example Avaaz has to offer? Since the BSkyB deal would undoubtedly have been stymied for all sorts of other reasons, not least of which were the various phone hacking scandals, and most shockingly, in the hacking of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s phone. This more than anything killed off the Murdoch bid for BSkyB.

We might also give a little grudging credit to Business Secretary Vince Cable, who in late 2010 revealed privately to undercover reporters that he was ‘declaring war’ on Rupert Murdoch. This caused such a storm that Tory leader David Cameron came out against Cable, describing his comments as “totally unacceptable and inappropriate”, whilst Labour leader Ed Miliband immediately followed suite saying that he would have gone further and sacked Cable 6. In any case, Murdoch was coming under attack from many fronts (including, as shown by Cable’s example, a maverick offensive from inside the government), and so there were already growing calls for a review of the BskyB deal. As it turns out, the deal itself was seriously compromised by a conflict of interests involving Ofcom Chairman Colette Bowe, not that this widely reported – I wrote a post on it just before the deal suddenly collapsed. In fact, I had tried in vain to get a number of politicians to look into this aspect of the case, but none at all even bothered to reply. The story the media were telling quickly moved on, and so the role of Ofcom remains more or less unscrutinised.

But I have a far bigger problem with Avaaz than simply the matter of its lack of effectiveness. Since even if Avaaz has achieved nothing concrete whatsoever, which might well be the case, its growing prominence as a campaign group is undoubtedly helping to frame the protest agenda. Picking and choosing what are and aren’t important issues is dilettantism, yes, and also, potentially at least, “the manufacturing of dissent”. Avaaz‘s defence is that it is an independent body – oh, really?

Co-founder and Director of Avaaz, Ricken Patel said in 2011 “We have no ideology per se. Our mission is to close the gap between the world we have and the world most people everywhere want. Idealists of the world unite!”

“No ideology per se”? So what then are we to make of your association with another organisation called Res Publica, of which Patel is a fellow, and Eli Pariser has also been a member of the Advisor Board.

Res Publica (US) is described by wikipedia as “a US organization promoting ‘good governance, civic virtue and deliberative democracy.’”, though there is no article on the group itself, and nor, for that matter, any entry on Ricken Patel himself. If I visit the Res Publica website, however, the link I immediately find takes me straight to George Soros’ Open Democracy group and also the International Crisis Group of which Soros is again a member of the Executive Committee. The International Crisis Group that gets such glowing endorsements from peace-loving individuals as (and here I quote directly from the website):

President Bill Clinton (‘in the most troubled corners of the world, the eyes, the ears and the conscience of the global community’); successive U.S. Secretaries of State (Condoleezza Rice: ‘a widely respected and influential organisation’, Colin Powell: ‘a mirror for the conscience of the world’ and Madeleine Albright: ‘a full-service conflict prevention organisation’); and former U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, the late Richard Holbrooke (‘a brilliant idea… beautifully implemented’ with reports like CrisisWatch ‘better than anything I saw in government’).

Whilst according to Res Publica‘s own website Ricken Patel has himself “consulted for the International Crisis Group, the United Nations, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Gates Foundation…”

To cut to the quick then, Avaaz claims to independence are simply a sham. Whether foundation funded or not, you are undeniably foundation affiliated. Which brings me to your recent campaigns.

In a letter which I received on Wednesday 11th January, you wrote, typically vaingloriously, about the significance of Avaaz in bringing about and supporting the uprisings of Arab Spring:

Across the Arab world, people power has toppled dictator after dictator, and our amazing Avaaz community has been at the heart of these struggles for democracy, breaking the media blackouts imposed by corrupt leaders, empowering citizen journalists, providing vital emergency relief to communities under siege, and helping protect hundreds of activists and their families from regime thugs.

When all that I can actually recall is some jumping on the bandwagon and your support for the ‘shock and awe’ assault that we saw lighting up the skies over Tripoli. Gaddafi was ousted, of course, much as Saddam Hussein had been by the Bush administration, and likewise, the country remains in chaos. But does the removal of any dictator justify the killing of an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 people in the first months of the Libyan war – these figures according to Cherif Bassiouni, who led a U.N. Human Rights Council mission to Tripoli and rebel-held areas in late April. 7 Figures that officially rose to 25,000 people killed and 60,000 injured, after the attacks on Gaddafi’s besieged hometown of Sirte. 8 The true overall casualties of the Libyan war remain unknown, as they do in Iraq, although a conservative estimate is that around 30,000 people lost their lives. Avaaz, since you called for this, you must wash some of that blood from your own hands.

Now you are calling for ‘action’ against Syria, on the basis this time of your own report which finds that “crimes against humanity were committed by high-level members of the Assad regime”. Now, let me say that I do not in the least doubt that the Assad regime is involved in the secret detainment and torture of its opponents. The terrible truth is that such human rights abuses are routinely carried out all across the Middle East, and in many places on behalf or in collusion with Western security services such as the CIA. Back in September 2010, PolitiFact.com wrote about the Obama administration’s record on so-called “extraordinary renditions” [from wikipedia with footnote preserved]:

The administration has announced new procedural safeguards concerning individuals who are sent to foreign countries. President Obama also promised to shut down the CIA-run “black sites,” and there seems to be anecdotal evidence that extreme renditions are not happening, at least not as much as they did during the Bush administration. Still, human rights groups say that these safeguards are inadequate and that the DOJ Task Force recommendations still allow the U.S. to send individuals to foreign countries.[158]

Whilst back in April 2009, on the basis of what he had witnessed in Uzbekistan, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004, Craig Murray, gave evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights “UN Convention against torture: allegations of complicity in torture”. In answers to questions, he explained to the committee how the UK government disguises its complicity and that he believed it has, in effect, helped to create “a market for torture”:

If I may refer to the documents on waterboarding and other torture techniques released recently in the United States on the orders of President Obama, if we are continuing to receive, as we are, all the intelligence reports put out by the CIA we are complicit in a huge amount of torture. I was seeing just a little corner in Uzbekistan. [p. 73]

I think the essence of the government’s position is that if you receive intelligence material from people who torture, be it CIA waterboarding, or torture by the Uzbek authorities or anywhere else, you can do so ad infinitum knowing that it may come from torture and you are still not complicit. [bottom p. 74]

Their position remains the one outlined by Sir Michael Wood, and it was put to me that if we receive intelligence from torture we were not complicit as long as we did not do the torture ourselves or encouraged it. I argue that we are creating a market for torture and that there were pay-offs to the Uzbeks for their intelligence co-operation and pay-offs to other countries for that torture. I think that a market for torture is a worthwhile concept in discussing the government’s attitude. [p. 75]

The government do not volunteer the fact that they very happily accept this information. I make it absolutely plain that I am talking of hundreds of pieces of intelligence every year that have come from hundreds of people who suffer the most vicious torture. We are talking about people screaming in agony in cells and our government’s willingness to accept the fruits of that in the form of hundreds of such reports every year. I want the Joint committee to be absolutely plain about that. [bot p.75] 9

Click here to watch all of parts of Craig Murray’s testimony.

Here is the introduction to Amnesty International‘s Report from last year:

Over 100 suspects in security-related offences were detained in 2010. The legal status and conditions of imprisonment of thousands of security detainees arrested in previous years, including prisoners of conscience, remained shrouded in secrecy. At least two detainees died in custody, possibly as a result of torture, and new information came to light about methods of torture and other ill-treatment used against security detainees. Cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments, particularly flogging, continued to be imposed and carried out. Women and girls remained subject to discrimination and violence, with some cases receiving wide media attention. Both Christians and Muslims were arrested for expressing their religious beliefs.

But not for Syria – for Saudi Arabia report-2011.

And it continues:

Saudi Arabian forces involved in a conflict in northern Yemen carried out attacks that appeared to be indiscriminate or disproportionate and to have caused civilian deaths and injuries in violation of international humanitarian law. Foreign migrant workers were exploited and abused by their employers. The authorities violated the rights of refugees and asylum-seekers. At least 27 prisoners were executed, markedly fewer than in the two preceding years.

Further down we read that:

At least 140 prisoners were under sentence of death, including some sentenced for offences not involving violence, such as apostasy and sorcery.

Not that Amnesty‘s report on Syria report-2011 is any less deplorable:

The authorities remained intolerant of dissent. Those who criticized the government, including human rights defenders, faced arrest and imprisonment after unfair trials, and bans from travelling abroad. Some were prisoners of conscience. Human rights NGOs and opposition political parties were denied legal authorization. State forces and the police continued to commit torture and other ill-treatment with impunity, and there were at least eight suspicious deaths in custody. The government failed to clarify the fate of 49 prisoners missing since a violent incident in 2008 at Saydnaya Military Prison, and took no steps to account for thousands of victims of enforced disappearances in earlier years. Women were subject to discrimination and gender-based violence; at least 22 people, mostly women, were victims of so-called honour killings. Members of the Kurdish minority continued to be denied equal access to economic, social and cultural rights. At least 17 people were executed, including a woman alleged to be a victim of physical and sexual abuse.

Please correct me, but so far as I’m aware, Avaaz have been entirely silent in their condemnation of the human rights violations of either Uzbekistan and Saudi Arabia (two countries that maintain very close ties with the US). Silent too when Saudi forces brutally cracked down on the Arab Spring protests in neighbouring Bahrain. So one could be forgiven for thinking that when Avaaz picks and chooses its fights, those it takes up are, if not always in the geo-strategic interests of the United States, then certainly never against those interests.

Back to your call for action against Syria and the letter continues:

We all had hoped that the Arab League’s monitoring mission could stop the violence, but they have been compromised and discredited. Despite witnessing Assad’s snipers first-hand, the monitors have just extended their observation period without a call for urgent action. This is allowing countries like Russia, China and India to stall the United Nations from taking action, while the regime’s pathetic defense for its despicable acts has been that it is fighting a terrorist insurgency, not a peaceful democracy movement.

Well, I’m not sure that anyone was expecting much from the Arab League, but can you really justify what you are saying here? That the violence now taking place in Syria is against an entirely “peaceful democracy movement” and that Syria is in no way facing a terrorist insurgency. Not that such an insurgency is entirely unjustified; after all one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. But that both sides are involved in atrocities, since both sides are evidently armed and the rebels are undeniably backed by militant Islamist groups.

Making statements such as “allowing countries like Russia, China and India to stall the United Nations from taking action”, directly implies that these foreign powers are simply protecting their own selfish interests (which is, of course, true), whereas the US is intent only on defending freedom and human rights. Such a gross oversimplification and plain nonsense.

So far, I note, Avaaz have not called for direct ‘military intervention’ in Syria, unlike in the shameful case of Libya. But given the timing of this latest announcement and on the basis of past form, I’m expecting petitions for what amounts to war (such as the ‘no-fly zone’ over Libya) will follow soon enough.

And so to your latest campaign, which I received by email on Tuesday 10th April. It begins:

Dear Friends,

Today is a big day for Avaaz. If you join in, Avaaz might just move from having a small team of 40 campaigners to having 40,000!!

Then goes on to explain how the reach of Avaaz will be broadened by encouraging everyone to write their own campaign petitions:

So, to unlock all the incredible potential of our community to change the world, we’ve developed our website tools and website to allow any Avaazer to instantly start their *own* online petitions, tell friends, and win campaigns.

The site just went live – will you give it a try? Think of a petition you’d like to start on any issue – something impacting your local community, some bad behaviour by a distant corporation, or a global cause that you think other Avaaz members would care about. If your petition takes off, it may become an Avaaz campaign – either to members in your area, or even to the whole world!

On the face of it, you are offering a way for everyone to be involved. But 40,000 petitions…? Is this really going to change the world? I have an idea that maybe just five or six might serve the purpose better – here are my suggestions for four:

  • a call for those responsible within the Bush administration and beyond to be charged with war crimes for deliberately leading us into an illegal war with Iraq
  • the criminal prosecution for crimes against humanity of George W Bush and others who have publicly admitted to their approval of the use of torture
  • the repeal of NDAA 2012 and the rolling back of the unconstitutional US Patriot and Homeland Security Acts
  • a criminal investigation into the rampant financial fraud that created the current global debt crisis

So consider me a member of the team once more. I’m putting those four campaigns out there. Or at least I would have before I’d read your ‘Terms of Use’. For it concerns me that “In order to further the mission of this site or the mission of Avaaz, we may use, copy, distribute or disclose this material to other parties” but you do not then go on to outline who those ‘other parties’ might be. And you say you will “Remove or refuse to post any User Contributions for any or no reason. This is a decision Avaaz will strive to make fairly, but ultimately it is a decision that is solely up to Avaaz to make.”

Since you reserve the right to “remove or refuse to post” without making a clear statement of your rules and without any commitment to providing justification for such censorship, I see little reason in bothering to try. Doubtless others will attempt to build campaigns on your platform for actions regarding the very serious issues I have outlined above, and should they achieve this, then I will try to lend support to those campaigns. Alternatively, should I fail to come across campaigns formed around these and related issues, I will presume, rightly or wrongly (this is “a decision that is solely up to me to make”), that Avaaz prefers not to support such initiatives. Either way, I will not holding my breath.

*

1 From an article entitled “The West is silent as Libya falls into the abyss” written by Patrick Cockburn, published by The Independent on November 2, 2014. http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/the-west-is-silent-as-libya-falls-into-the-abyss-9833489.html

2 From an article entitled “Internet activists should be careful what they wish for in Libya” written by John Hillary, published in the Guardian on March 10, 2011. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/mar/10/internet-activists-libya-no-fly-zone

3 From an article entitled “Humanitarian Intervention: Recognizing When, and Why, It Can Succeed” written by Tom Perriello, published in Issue #23 Democracy Journal in Winter 2012. http://www.democracyjournal.org/23/humanitarian-intervention-recognizing-when-and-why-it-can-succeed.php?page=all

4 From an article entitled “Imperialist Pimps of Militarism, Protectors of the Oligarchy, Trusted Facilitators of War”, Part II, Section I, written by Cory Morningstar, published September 24, 2012. Another extract reads:

The 12 January 2012 RSVP event “Reframing U.S. Strategy in a Turbulent World: American Spring?” featured speakers from Charles Kupchan of the Council on Foreign Relations, Rosa Brooks of the New America Foundation, and none other than Tom Perriello, CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Perriello advanced his “ideology” during this lecture.

http://theartofannihilation.com/imperialist-pimps-of-militarism-protectors-of-the-oligarchy-trusted-facilitators-of-war-part-ii-section-i/

5 From an article entitled “Avaaz: activism or ‘slacktivism’?” written by Patrick Kingsley, published in the Guardian on July 20, 2011. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/20/avaaz-activism-slactivism-clicktivism

6 From an article entitled “Vince Cable to stay on as Business Secretary” published by BBC news on December 21, 2010. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-12053656

7 From an article entitled “Up to 15,000 killed in Libya war: U.N. Right expert” reported by Reuters on June 9. 2011. http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/09/us-libya-un-deaths-idUSTRE7584UY20110609

8 From an article entitled “Residents flee Gaddafi hometown”, written by Rory Mulholland and Jay Deshmukh, published in the Sydney Morning Herald on October 3, 2011. http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-world/residents-flee-gaddafi-hometown-20111003-1l49x.html

9 From the uncorrected transcript of oral evidence given to the Joint Committee on Human Rights “UN Convention against torture: allegations of complicity in torture” on April 28, 2009. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/jt200809/jtselect/jtrights/152/152.pdf

Please note that when I originally posted the article the link was to a different version of the document, but it turns out that the old link (below) has now expired. For this reason I have altered the page references in accordance with the new document.

https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:nogix7L1-kIJ:www.craigmurray.org.uk/Uncorrected%2520Transcript%252028%2520April%252009.doc+craig+murray+evidence+parliamentary+slect+commitee&hl=en&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESjfCqyleDnk_maooZDF7iGJ5MC68Lb9zNDi5PCH8_9PwlwCybyXYiCD-A1E-O_j9Z5XgnOsKsvguvirw4jqJW9zjuor_secSn7aw_X1JIxHxjLw0CZON7vwOcfitFM1bB8MOsaO&sig=AHIEtbScxyI2eTh3HF2MA_yGyeAcyTsoiQ

[James Boswell was born in Shrewsbury in 1967. In 1986 he moved to London to study Physics at Imperial College, and then moved again in 1989, this time to Sheffield, where his research on comets culminated in a PhD awarded in 1994. Having been settled in Sheffield ever since, he is currently a Physics lecturer at the Sheffield International College.]

 

 

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