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Foreign Policy

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Note: On the eve of the fateful Israeli elections in 2001, Alex and I wrote a long profile of the vicious, sinister career of Ariel Sharon. In the wake of Sharon’s death, I revamped the essay as a corrective to the drooling eulogies which have gone so far as to label him an “Israeli Moses.”... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
Two years after he was sacked by President Obama as the top commander in Afghanistan for suggesting to Rolling Stone magazine that the real enemy were "the wimps in the White House", General Stanley A McChrystal has recycled a perennial chestnut: Bring back the draft – i.e. a conscripted army, not the volunteer army of... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
Chen Guangchen, the Chinese human activist, got four separate articles in the New York Times for May 5. Jane Perlez and Michael Wines reported from Beijing on the deal that would get Chen and his family visas to the US, for him to take up a fellowship at NYU. Andrew Jacobs weighed in with the... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
In the wake of the lethal rampage by a US sergeant who killed 16 Afghans in the early hours of March 11, the Taliban have put a halt to talks with the Americans and President Hamid Karzai has demanded that NATO troops pull out of the villages and return to their camps. As with the... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
Few spectacles have been more surreal than senior US officials – starting with the President, the Secretary of State and the US ambassador to the UN - solemnly lecturing Assad and his beleaguered Syrian government on the need to accommodate rebel forces whose GCC sponsors are intent on slaughtering the ruling Alawite minority or driving... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
If you want a sense of what could well lie in store for Syria, go no further than Anthony Shadid’s report from Libya in the New York Times for February 9. Shadid, a good reporter, describes a dismembered country, rent by banditry: One martial enterprise of some of these Misuratan militias is to attack a... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
The day after the Florida primary, when all eyes were fixed in astonishment on the victorious Gov. Romney expressing his indifference to the sufferings of the poor, the Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, gave a speech in Brussels. He said that as early as mid-2013 American forces in Afghanistan will step back from a combat role.... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
The world’s press is choc-a-bloc with “if” questions about Iran and war. Will Israel attack? Is Obama, coerced by domestic politics in an election year, being dragged into war by the Israel lobby? Will he lunch the bombers? Is the strategy to force Iran into a corner, methodically demolishing its economy by embargoes and sanctions... Read More
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CounterPunch Diary
The last time we met Michael Bérubé on this site was back in 2007, and he was up to his neck in a rubbish dump, where I’d placed him, in the company of other promoters of the 2003 war on Iraq: where, I asked, are those parlor warriors now? Had any of them reconsidered their... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
Denied post mortem imagery of Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki, the world now has at its disposal photographs of Muammar Qaddafi, dispatched with a bullet to the head after being wounded by NATO’s ground troops outside Sirte. Did the terminal command, Finish Him Off, come via cell phone from the US State Department whose... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
First, a simple rule: utter absurdity in allegations leveled by the US government is no bar to a deferential hearing in our nation’s major conduits of official opinion. Suppose the CIA leaks a secret national security review concluding that the moon is actually made of cheese, and the Chinese are planning to send up a... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
Threaten the stability of Saudi Arabia, as the Shi’a upsurges are now doing in Qatif, and al-Awamiyah in the country’s oil-rich Eastern Province and you’re brandishing a dagger over the very heart of long-term U.S. policy in the Middle East for over half a century. In 1945 the chief of the State Department’s Division of... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
We’re homing in on the tenth anniversary of the destruction of the Wall Street Trade Towers and the attack on the Pentagon. One in seven Americans and one in four among those aged 16-24, (so a recent poll commissioned by the BBC tells us) believe that there was a vast conspiracy in which the U.S.... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
What’s a riot without looting? We want it, they’ve got it! You’d think from the press that looting was alien to British tradition, imported by immigrants more recent than the Normans. Not so. Gavin Mortimer, author of The Blitz, had an amusing piece in the First Post about the conduct of Britons at the time... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
It is surely one of the great strategic screw-ups in the history of war and intelligence analysis. In March, after the second UN Security Council resolution used by NATO to launch its bombing campaign, the predictions were that Tripoli and thus Ghadafi would fall within two or three weeks. Right and left alike, though not... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
After three and a half months of bombing and arms supply to various rebel factions, NATO's failure in its efforts to promote "regime change" in Libya is now glaring. Obviously NATO's commanders are still hoping that a lucky bomb may kill Gaddafi, but to date the staying power has been with the Libyan leader, whereas... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
The alleged purpose of UN Security Council resolution 1973, passed on March 17, was to seek to protect Libyan civilians from violent attacks by both sides. In NATO’s eager hands, cosseted by uncritical Western press coverage, it has rapidly mutated into an overt bid to destroy Qaddafi’s regime, specifically to murder Qaddafi, by missile or... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
Pinko terror-symps and the “rule of law” gang may cavil and whine at the lack of legal propriety in the execution of Osama , but it’s not cutting much ice with liberal America. For long years what might be called the “progressive” segment of American voters have chafed at Republican gibes that their guy Obama... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
Barack Obama, who pledged to restore ethical honor to the White House after the Bush years, is now burying himself under an active volcano of lies, mostly but not exclusively concerning the assassination of Osama bin Laden. There was scarcely a sentence in the President's Sunday night address, or in the subsequent briefing by John... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
It looks as though eastern Libya will slide into the Mediterranean under the sheer weight of western journalists assembled in Benghazi and Misrata. A tsunami of breathless reports suggests that Misrata is enduring travails not far short of the siege of Leningrad in World War 2. The reports have been seized on by Obama, Cameron... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
Libya has dislodged from the headlines a nuclear catastrophe in Japan, on top of a seismic one, that’s one of the epic dramas of the past half-century and what’s doubly weird is that the actual fighting in Libya is a series of tiny skirmishes. The muscle-bound adjectives and nouns used to describe the military engagements... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
The war on Libya now being waged by the US, Britain and France must surely rank as one of the stupidest martial enterprises, smaller in scale to be sure, since Napoleon took it into his head to invade Russia in 1812. Let’s start with the fierce hand-to-hand combat between members of the coalition, arguing about... Read More
The Demon in Pakistan's Soul
To say that Punjab Governor Salman Taseer was equally controversial and courageous when he expressed his views is an understatement. The story of his assassination reads truly like a chronicle of a death foretold, and brings to the fore the demon that’s been eating away at the soul of Pakistani society: religious intolerance. It was... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
Torture is now solidly installed in America’s repressive arsenal, not in the shadows where it has always lurked, but up front and central, vigorously applauded by prominent politicians. Rituals of coercion and humiliation seep through the culture, to the extent that before Christmas American travelers began to rebel at the invasive pat-down searches, conducted by... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
Can anything be more dismal than prospects for any decent resolution of the Israel/Palestine issue? Seemingly not. The hopes of January, 2009, at the dawn of Obama’s presidency, are dead. Washington has now given up all efforts to restart the direct Israeli-Palestinian talks and has wearily begun a new round of mediated talks instead. Across... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
The American airwaves quiver with the screams of parlor assassins howling for Julian Assange's head. Jonah Goldberg, contributor to the National Review, asks in his syndicated column, "Why wasn't Assange garroted in his hotel room years ago?" Sarah Palin wants him hunted down and brought to justice, saying: "He is an anti-American operative with blood... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
It has been impossible to read the agenda for the Oval Office summit between Obama, Netanyahu and Abbas without laughing out loud at the absurdity of its pretensions.  The American plan was that President Obama would inform Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas, representing the  Palestinian Authority, that this is make-or -break time for... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
The last American combat brigade in Iraq has left the country, so the Pentagon announced this week. The 40,000 personnel from 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division began crossing into Kuwait August 19. The US combat mission in Iraq – Operation Iraqi Freedom - is scheduled to end on August 31. The least credible human... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
The hope of the brave soldier who sent 92,000 secret U.S. documents to Wikileaks was that their disclosure would prompt public revulsion and increasing political pressure on Obama to seek with all speed a diplomatic conclusion to this war. The documents he sent Wikileaks included overwhelming documentary evidence – accepted by all as genuine, of:... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
"Was this corporation willing to trade justice in the murder of 270 innocent people for oil profits?” Not too many guesses as to which oil company is under discussion: BP, current epitome of Big Oil at its foulest. But what populist rabble-rousers were posing the question? Look no further than that errand boy of finance... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
There’s been ripe chortling about the spy network run in the U.S.A. by the Russian SVR – successor to the KGB in the area of foreign intelligence. The eleven accused were supposedly a bunch of bumblers so deficient in remitting secrets to Moscow across nearly a decade that the FBI can’t even muster the evidence... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
Just when Barack Obama's presidency was drowning in BP's crude oil, a megalomaniacal US Army general called Stanley McChrystal, commander of the US-led coalition in Afghanistan, did him several huge favors. Weeks before McChrystal and his drunken retinue fired from the lip, pouring their contempt for Obama and his top Afghan advisors into the notebook... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
As the tv networks here give unlimited airtime to its apologists, the message rolls out that Israel is permitted every illegal act in the lexicon of international law, from acts of violence against a civilian population (the people of Gaza, starved under permanent blockade) to piracy on the high seas and the lethal attacks by... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
The Pentagon is reeling after two lethal episodes uncovered by diligent journalism show trigger-happy U.S. Army helicopter pilots and U.S. Special Forces slaughtering civilians, then seeking to cover up their crimes. The worldwide web was transfixed on Monday when Wikileaks put up on YouTube a 38-minute video, along with a 17-minute edited version, taken from... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
Don’t get excited. It’ll never happen. Is there really a crisis in US-Israeli relations? Yes and No. Yes, because the world’s premier power doesn’t care to have its vice president publicly humiliated by a midget of a nation whose entire population is smaller than that of Los Angeles county. No, because the elected politicians nominally... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
Look on the bright side. They finally found a WMD. Not in the desert wastes of Iraq, nor in the cellar of one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces. Not in an Iranian nuclear facility. In Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s underwear. He’s been charged by a US grand jury with “attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.”... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
Ritual trumphalism about America’s righteous mission in the closing sentences of his speech did not dispel the distinct impression during  President Obama’s  33-minute address to cadets at West Point Tuesday night that we were listening to  a man defeated by the challenge of justifying the dispatch of 3o,000 more troops to Afghanistan.  Contrary to the... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
You can?t please all of the people all of the time, but President Obama and his Attorney General, Eric Holder, have got nearer than most to pulling it off. A week ago Holder announced that Khaled Shaikh Mohammed and four alleged co-conspirators will soon go on trial in federal court in New York for planning... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
I suppose we should not  begrudge Barack Obama his Nobel Peace Prize, though it represents a  radical break in tradition, since he's only had slightly less than nine months to discharge his imperial duties, most concretely  through the agency of high explosives in the Hindu Kush whereas laureates like Henry Kissinger had been diligently slaughtering... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
The ripest moment of absurdity last week was the spectacle of Pentagon officials berating the Washington Post for publishing the supposedly confidential assessment of the situation in Afghanistan, prepared for General McChrystal, America’s Man in Charge of that doomed adventure. THe Pentagon asked the Post to cut certain passages on the ground they would compromise... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
As General Stan McChrystal plans his march on Washington to demand more troops in Afghanistan the antiwar movement lies on the sidewalk, as inert and forlorn as a homeless person in the rain at a street corner, too dejected even to hold up a sign. This is at a time that as Mark Ames has... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
Remember when the two Chinese American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, were first convicted earlier this year and given 12-year prison terms in one of North Korea’s labor camps? Working for a tv channel owned by former vice president Al Gore, the two had crossed North Korea’s border with China, intent on investigating the... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
Despite our high expectations, Vice President Joe Biden’s first months in office were disappointing. This, remember, is the man who opened the more recent of his two futile runs for the presidency by saying of Obama that he was "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I... Read More
May He Rest in Darkness
Robert McNamara, who died yesterday, July 6, served as Kennedy’s , then as Johnson’s defense secretary. He contributed more than most to the slaughter of 3.4 million Vietnamese (his own estimate). He went on to run the World Bank, where he presided over the impoverishment, eviction from their lands and death of many millions more... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
In contrast to the grim forecasts of many fine contributors to this site over the past days, your CounterPunch editors have been inclined to take the view that Israel’s onslaught on Gaza, appalling though the carnage has been, is not only a crime but a blunder, like the attack on Lebanon in 2006, which demonstrated... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
Efforts to free Sami al-Arian have now reached the U.S. Supreme Court. On July 30 an appeal was lodged with the Court by his attorneys, led by Professor Jonathan Turley. There are few prospects in the justice system so grimly awful as when the feds decide never to let go. Rebuffed in their persecutions of... Read More
Re-Breaking the News
Late last week the New Yorker released a 6,000 word story by Seymour Hersh under the vague title, “Preparing the Battlefield”. The lead paragraph ran as follows: Beyond the assertion in the second paragraph that secret ops against Iran by US military and CIA are being “significantly expanded”, that was about it so far as... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
Everybody knows it, but it took a tacky Republican operator to come right out and say it. Charlie Black, John McCain’s campaign adviser, recently let drop to Fortune magazine that another terrorist attack on U.S. soil would be a "big advantage" for the Republican presidential candidate. Of course McCain lost no time in distancing himself... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
On Tuesday June 3 Barack Obama claimed the greatest prize the Democratic Party can offer, namely his nomination as its candidate for the presidency. The very next day the salesman of “change” raced from Minnesota back to Washington and publicly abased himself at the feet of an organization whose prime mission is to ensure that... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
A friend of mine who’s a librarian was recently reviewing job applicants. Asked his qualifications in library skills, one man put “machine-gunner.” He was a vet who’d served in Falluja. The library is in a state school here in the US that, last fall, had 650 such vets enrolled. The young man got the job... Read More
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