Wednesday, December 09, 2015






At Tuesday's US House Armed Services Committee hearing, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter declared:

 Next, in full coordination with the government of Iraq, we're deploying a specialized, expeditionary targeting force to assist Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces and put even more pressure on ISIL.  These special operators will, over time, be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence and capture ISIL leaders.   

With all the hours and hours of Pacifica Radio -- all the time they use of the public airwaves, only SOJOURNER TRUTH WITH MARGARET PRESCOD devoted a segment to it -- we noted this in Thursday's snapshot (the Tuesday broadcast) and that Friday's show would also feature the topic.

Friday, Margaret Prescod was joined for her news roundtable by University of Houston's Dr. Gerald Horne, activist and politician Jackie Goldberg and Tom Hayden.

At the top of the show, Margaret Prescod observed, "The US is increasing special operations forces on the ground in Iraq which would also be that would also be involved in raids in Syria."

Tom Hayden shared his belief that 2016 would result in a war president -- and said that would be true if it was Senator Marc Rubio or Senator Bernie Sanders or former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

We'll note this section of the exchange.

Jackie Goldberg:  I think at some point or another, we have to see the situation in the Middle East as a battle between Sunni and Shia, not our battle, not the United States' battle.  And we should be working very hard, I believe, to get the nations of the Middle East who have a stake in this -- Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Republic, Turkey, Egypt, Sudan, Pakistan, Iraq -- all of them -- all of them, Iran, they all have -- Hezbollah -- they all have a stake in the outcome of this.  And in my view, I think we should be backing away from the war that Tom was talking about rather than continuing it and, instead, pushing very hard internationally to say to the folks that are involved in this that this is a struggle that you have over territory.  It's not too different from the Christians and the Muslims and the Crusades.  This is between two versions of-of Islam but they are mostly about the issues of power and control of resources and control of oil and control of government.  And those are issues that, in my opinion, should be settled amongst themselves.  If the United States does not wish to continue to be attacked, it has to look at its own policies.  It has to look at why - why would we be seen as an enemy of one side or the other?  And that is because we arm everybody, we make it possible for these wars to go on by selling arms to everybody.  And who we don't sell arms to, the Russians sell arms to.  So, at some point or another, if there is no possibility that those who are arming all of the sides don't disengage from the possibility of arming all the sides, I don't see an end to this.  And I don't see a role for the United States, to be very honest.  I know I'm probably very unique in all of this, but I don't think our role is to be there.   This is a fight -- it's an age old fight.  It's not new, it's thousands of years old and it is not, in my opinion, a fight that we should be taking on.

Margaret Prescod:  Yeah.  And, Jackie Goldberg, I think there are quite a lot of people that will agree with you.  I mean, there was a contentious debate that happened in the British Parliament just a couple of days ago on a vote on the UK joining the bombing of ISIS.  And Jeremy Corbyn, who is the new leader of the Labour Party, put himself out there and totally opposed the bombing.  A number of the more mainstream members of the Labour Party rebelled against Corbyn and went along with Cameron -- the Conservative, Tory government.  So now the UK has in fact already be bombing and Germany is apparently now in on the act, you know, France has been in it for a very long time. There has been a very strong moment, Jackie, in the UK 

Jackie Goldberg:  Oh, yeah.

Margaret Prescod (Con't):  -- opposed to this bombing.

Jackie Goldberg:  Oh, yeah.  And there's a peace movement in the United States opposed to our continued involvement with drones and strikings and all of this.  You know, if you are a young man living in San Bernardino and you are Pakistani and you see the United States continuously using drones on somebody who is "a target" but also other folks who get caught up in this -- civilians who had no role in this -- you begin to, you know, think, 'Well if civilians there are going to be targeted, then civilians here ought to be targeted.'  That's how you get to where we are in the United States today -- our policy has to change and if it doesn't change, well the war will come home.

Margaret Prescod:  Yeah.

Jackie Goldberg:  And it has.

Margaret Prescod:  Yeah.

Jackie Goldberg:  And it will continue to come home. 

Margaret Prescod:  Right and we are going to be talking, a little later on, after our station break, about that San Bernardino shooting and the various implications.  What I would like to do now -- because I am assured that the sound is back -- and I'd really like to play this clip, it is from a PBS NEWSHOUR, Dr. Horn, before we go to you.  And it gives some reaction to the reality of the US increasing special operations on the ground in Iraq and also some more about what is happening in the region, reaction to that.  Let's go to that clip now.

Gwen Ifill: Many Iraqis -- led by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi didn’t appear to welcome the news that U.S. is sending additional special ops forces in an effort to root out ISIS strongholds.

Salah al-Rikabi, Baghdad resident (through interpreter): We do not need any foreign forces, whether they are American, Danish, Italian or French ones. The Iraqi people are capable.

Fadhil Abu Firas, Baghdad resident (through interpreter): U.S. forces have no credibility and no good intentions. I consider this a new invasion.

Gwen Ifill: At NATO headquarters in Brussels, Secretary of State John Kerry denied that Iraqi leaders were not briefed about the new force in advance.

John Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State: We will continue to work very, very closely with our Iraqi partners on exactly who would be deployed, where they would be deployed, what kinds of missions people would undertake, how they would support Iraqi efforts to degrade and destroy ISIL.

Gwen Ifill: In London, British Prime Minister David Cameron made his final appeal in Parliament to expand the current British air campaign in Iraq to Syria.

[. . . edit from PBS broadcast made by Prescod's show]

Gwen Ifill:  Separately, Russia released satellite imagery purporting to show trucks delivering Islamic State oil in Turkey and accused Turkish leaders of profiting from the illicit trade. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dismissed the claims as slander.
Later in the day, an Islamic State video appeared to show the beheading of another hostage. The militants said he had spied for Russia in Syria and Iraq.

Margaret Prescod: Alright, so there you go, Dr. Horn. I mean apparently these new forces, at least the some that we heard in that clip, not welcome.  We heard from people in Iraq and, of course, there's the growing mentions over the shoot downs by Turkey of the Russian military jet.  And everybody pretty much knows that Turkey wouldn't have shot down the Russian military jet without a heads up from the United States -- even though there's that and on the other hand analysts are saying, 'Well the Obama administration really doesn't want to ramp it up any further -- from where I sit, it seems, "Okay, go ahead and do the shoot down but then let's try to dampen it down."  Dr. Horn, give us your view on what's happening in all of that.

Dr. Gerald Horne: Well during the war in Vietnam, there was a very useful debate as to whether or not that war was a blunder by Washington or whether it flowed illogically from US imperialism. And I think we need to have a sort of similar debate today. Particularly in light of the fact that the NEW YORK TIMES reported just a few days ago that Sirte which under Col [Muammar] Gaddafi [the late leader of Libya] was slated to be the capital of the African Union is now the capital of ISIS in Africa. And we need to ask some very difficult questions as to whether or not this is just another blunder by Washington or whether this flows illogically from a certain assumption and a certain kind of logic, particularly given that Barack Obama was elected in 2008 on the premise that he would not allow another type of an Iraqi fiasco to take place and yet he's presided over a similar fiasco in Libya, in north Africa, which has given a shot in the arm to ISIS.  I think we need to recognize that it's very difficult for the United States, which is now in relative decline, to buck it's so-called allies, particularly Saudi Arabia which it is dependent upon both for oil and capital flows.  And Saudi nationals, as we know, are major supporters of ISIS and, somewhat oddly, it's difficult for it to buck Turkey which, as you know, is in bed with ISIS as we speak. I think we should also recognize that with the close relationship with Israel, it's very hard for the United States to align with Iran against ISIS.  And we also know that with this anti Moscow sentiment in Washington -- which is a hangover from the Cold War period -- and it is difficult to engage in what President Putin has called for -- which is a United Nations international alliance against ISIS.  In fact, we know that just a few days ago the United States helped to twist the arm of Montenegro and entice it to enter the anti-Moscow alliance that is a North Atlantic Treaty Organization -- that is to say that NATO is expanding at the same time that NATO should be shrinking because the United States should be allied with Moscow against ISIS if it is sincere in its anti-ISIS thesis. So this is the problem we face and I don't think we can get out of this problem until we have an honest, far reaching debate as to whether or not these so-called blunders are not blunders but flow from a certain kind of illogic,