Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Detroit's Public Television Ch. 56 offers live coverage of Mackinac Policy Conference

My apologies.  We're coming off a holiday weekend and otherwise this would have been noted on Tuesday.  Detroit's Public Television Channel 56 notes:

Detroit Public Television’s/Ch.56 Coverage of the
Mackinac Policy Conference Starts TOMORROW
The Leaders; The Isssues; The Decisions
Three Days of Comprehensive Must-See Coverage On-Air & Online on
Starting May 27 through May 29, 2015

For the fifth year in a row, Detroit Public Television (DPTV) has partnered with the Detroit Regional Chamber to bring you daily coverage of the Mackinac Policy Conference straight to your desktop and to your living room.
Join MiWeek host Christy McDonald for a live broadcast with analysis and behind-the-scenes information from the 2015 Mackinac Policy Conference. With a focus on Talent, Urban Revitalization, and Cohesion, it's three days of the most important issues facing Michigan, and the next best thing to being there!
Tune in for our MiVote Mackinac nightly wrap-up shows airing May 28-30 at 7:30 p.m. ET on our main Channel 56.1. Viewers can watch full-length coverage of the Conference in Metro Detroit on DPTV’s Channel 56.2 for over-the-air viewers, Channel 287 on Comcast, Channel 155 on Brighthouse and Channel 432 on Charter.
The same coverage will stream live on the website. will also feature edited segments of conference sessions and interviews with newsmakers at the Conference, as well as social media interaction through Twitter and Facebook
Wednesday, May 27th from 1pm to 5pm ET
Thursday, May 28th  from 8:30am to 5pm ET
Friday, May 29th  from 9am to 11:45am ET

With one-on-one interviews with key Michigan leaders, coverage of some of the most important sessions taking place at the event, and critical behind-the-scenes conversations, DPTV will provide you not only with what you need to know about the conference, but also how the decisions made on the island will impact your lives. 

Is Bosnia the end of the road for the UN?

Francis A. Boyle is an attorney and a professor of international law.  He's also the author of many books including, most recently, United Ireland, Human Rights and International Law.   This week, he notes of Bill Clinton:

I just read the report that Bill Clinton will be at Potocari in order to shed some crocodile tears for the 20th Anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide. What a disgrace! As everyone knows,  it was Clinton who made the ultimate decision to sacrifice Srebrenica and Zepa (and Gorazde)  to Mladic so that Holbrooke could have his genocidal carve-up Map at Dayton. I gave the following  interview on June 23, 1995 when I was doing everything humanly possible to prevent the forthcoming genocidal massacre at Srebrenica. fab

From 1999, this is Frances Boyle's "Is Bosnia the End of the UN? Yes!:"

Is Bosnia the end of the road for the UN?
  There have been many voices calling for the restructure of the United
  Nations, particularly of the representation of the non-First World
  states within the General Assembly, and the operations of the Security
  Council consisting of the permanent five that largely utilise the UN for
  its own political and capital interests. The inept management of the
  conflicts in Bosnia by the UN have made those voices more vociferous,
  with some calling for the end of the United Nations.
Francis Boyle is the Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, served as the Legal Adviser to Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic and Foreign Minister Haris Silajdzic during the Owen-Stoltenburg negotiations in Geneva, and represented the Bosnian Government at the international court of justice. He won two World Court Orders to Bosnia which the UN Security Council refused to enforce, due to the manipulations of Britain, Russia, France, and the US at the diplomatic table.
In this recent interview he outlines the background to the diplomatic negotiations in Bosnia, the corruption and amorality of the great powers, and how the greed and capital interest of the West, and its anti-Muslim actions will spell the end of the post-World War II political order.
Initially the scenario existed where the international players, or the so-called great players, wanted to keep Yugoslavia intact, but when it became obvious that this wasn't going to be the case, the West introduced a number of conferences and plans; first, the International Conference on Yugoslavia at the Hague, the Vance-Owen Peace Plan, the Owen-Stoltenburg Plan, the Washington Plan, the Five-Nation Contact Group Plan. If these plans violated established Human Rights, Racial Discrimination, and Apartheid Conventions and are perceived to be illegal according to international law, why have they been poorly conceived and attempted to be implemented?
The great powers have basically concluded that the Bosnians have lost the war, and of course, the reason the Bosnians lost the war was that the great powers at the Security Council imposed the arms embargo upon them.
So when the signal was given by President Milosevic to attack Bosnia--and remember that he also took General Ratko Mladic who had destroyed Croatia and Vukovar, and put him in charge of the Bosnia operation--the Bosnian people were totally defenceless. So from the great power perspective, the Bosnians have lost the war and, as they see it, they need to work out some type of deal that will effectively recognise this. Hence, the creation of the plans and schemes that violate every known principle of international law.
When I was instructed by the Bosnian President Alija Izetbegovic to sue Britain in November 1993, I put out a statement at the UN announcing that the Owen-Stoltenburg Plan violated the Genocide, Racial Discrimination, and Apartheid Conventions--it clearly did. Anyone who knew anything at all about that plan would have understood that--and Cyrus Vance is an international lawyer, he should have known better. So any of the permanent members of the Security Council can be sued--and the Bosnian government is aware of this--for violating the Genocide Convention, the Racial Discrimination Convention and the Apartheid Convention. And I have no problems at all in suing all of them on the basis of these three conventions and I'm sure of winning those law suits. It's an open and shut case.
But the problem was that when President Izetbegovic instructed me to sue Britain, the Bosnians were threatened. The then Bosnian Foreign Minister Ljubijankic, who was later assassinated, was called in, basically threatened, and told that if the Bosnian government was to continue with the law suit, the humanitarian assistance that was being provided to the Bosnian people would be cut. They were pressured by the French, the Germans, and the Americans, as well as Owen and Stoltenburg, to drop the whole case. So that's the problem, where the great powers of Europe threaten to cut off humanitarian assistance to civilians--and the Bosnian people can only survive because of food brought in by the world community.
When Bosnia goes to court to sort out its rights, which it has a perfect right to do, the so-called protecting powers threaten starvation for their people.  Unfortunately, the Bosnians had to go along with this as they always have.
What are the historical connections between the Vance-Owen and Owen-Stoltenburg Plans and the Munich Pact from 1938?
First, there needs to be an understanding of the historical evolution.
Vance-Owen Plan would have carved up Bosnia into ten cantons on an ethnic basic, but would not have destroyed Bosnia as a state. When the Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic and the Bosnian Serb leader, Radovan Karazdic and his so-called parliament rejected the Vance-Owen Plan, the great powers then moved into the Owen-Stoltenburg Plan. The Owen-Stoltenburg Plan would have carved up the state itself--it would have destroyed the Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina as an independent nation state.
Therefore, this plan is the modern day equivalent of the Munich Pact. It was designed to carve up a UN member state, and would rob Bosnia-Herzegovina of its United Nations membership--the main difference was that the carve-up was not taking place at Hitler's lair at the Berchtesgarten but this time the carve-up was taking place in Geneva, at United Nations headquarters and under the auspices and supervision of the United Nations, the European Union and the United States Government. So this time all the major powers of Europe and the United States were in on the carve-up of a sovereign member state of the United Nations.
The Vance-Owen Plan was bad, but the Owen-Stoltenburg Plan would have been the end of Bosnia's statehood and would have turned Bosnia into a new Lebanon. The Owen-Stoltenburg Plan would have been a total catastrophe--to carve up Bosnia into three pieces and rob it of its UN membership. It was clear that in Geneva during the so-called peace negotiations, that the whole purpose of the exercise was to destroy the Bosnian statehood so that the Muslim, Jewish and non-Serb or Croat population would simply be wiped out.  In historical terms, back in the 1930s the Jews were wiped out because they did not have a state of their own, and the only thing that has kept the Bosnians from completely being wiped out, fully and completely, has been their statehood and their UN membership. Owen, Stoltenburg, the UN, and everyone else knew that the only thing that would keep these people from going the way of history was their UN membership and statehood, so they had to get rid of it.
Indeed, Owen's lawyer admitted to me and our team--we have this on file with the World Court--that the suggestion to eliminate Bosnian statehood came from Karazdic, the war criminal. Karazdic suggested this notion to Owen and Stoltenburg and they approved it personally. Their lawyer then redrafted the documents to eliminate Bosnian statehood--we have all this on record, with witnesses, at the World Court. It reminded me of Hannah Arendt's comment on the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem, about the banality of evil. That here were nameless, faceless bureaucrats operating in Geneva, destroying a sovereign member state of the United Nations, knowingly inflicting ethnic cleansing on a million-and-a-half to two million people and doing all of this by means of a word processor. And that is literally what was going on. And the plan today, the so-called Contact Group plan, carves Bosnia up into two pieces.  It will preserve the shell of the Bosnian state, although, effectively Bosnia will be carved up. So, all of the discussions in the Security Council about respecting the territorial integrity and political independence of Bosnia is nonsense. These men at the Security Council know exactly what they are doing--that was my assessment in dealing with them personally. They're still trying to carve Bosnia up, and the land that they have allocated to the so-called federation will make Bosnia an appendage of Croatia.
The Bosnian Muslims, and the Serbs, the Croats, and the Jews loyal to the Bosnian government, would have never survived the Owen-Stoltenburg carve-up if it had been implemented. The Contact Group carve-up was designed and drafted by the US State Department. It appears that if it were to be implemented, that those people would at least physically survive. But ultimately Bosnia would lose its independence. So it's a slight improvement but it still represents a violation of every known principle of international law including a violation of the UN Charter, a toleration of genocide and war crimes, condoning this type of behaviour and again, it would be tantamount to the Munich Pact. It raises the question then, and everyone must consider this: what good is the United Nations? If the UN is not going to be prepared to defend a member state, but instead carve it up and destroy it, then obviously the United Nations has lost its utility, just as the League of Nations did when it could not confront Mussolini over what he did in Abyssinia in 1935. I remembered, when I was in Geneva with President Izetbegovic, that it was Haile Selassie that had come to Geneva in the same building to make a plea for the powers to save Abyssinia from the Italian fascist invasion and they didn't listen to him. Abyssinia was taken over and eventually the League was destroyed because it could not protect small states like Austria, Czechoslovakia, Abyssinia, and Poland from fascist invasions.
So if the UN is getting into the business of carving up UN member states then it's not a good sign for the integrity of the United Nations. It must be understood that this is all being supervised by the Secretary General of the UN--Boutros Boutros-Ghali--he knows what's going on--and at the direction of the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Russia--they're all in on it. And in the background the Clinton administration is posturing, and saying 'oh, isn't it terrible what the Europeans are doing'. This is all public relations--the US government was in on the carve-up just like everyone else.
The Washington Plan instigated a confederation between Croatia and Bosnia.
Do the Serbs have a moral or legal right to set up a federation with Serbia proper--and this has been one of their complaints--if the Bosnian government can federate with Croatia, why can't the Bosnian Serbs federate with Serbia?
This is public relations machinery at work again. The Washington Agreements were designed by the State Department to carve up Bosnia under the fiction of preserving the state of Bosnia, but effectively consigning these people to the control of Croatia. The federation with Croatia was imposed on the Bosnians--it's not something that they wanted. It was imposed on them, so the argument that the Serbs must have the same deal is just total hypocrisy.  But the point is, that the Serbs have already been promised a confederation by the great powers. That's why the federation-confederation was set up between Croatia and Bosnia--to ultimately give the Serbs the same thing. The State Department and the Pentagon admitted that the Washington Plan was just a sophisticated carve-up under another name--I have the admissions on file.  So the Washington Plan was another design for a carve-up, to a preservation of the fig-leaf of the republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina while effectively carving it up into two. And Karadzic is still holding out for his independent Serb state. If he were smart--which he is not--he'd go along with the carve-up plans and he'd probably get his state in five, ten, fifteen years from now--and that is what the ultimate agenda is within the Washington Plan. Just read through the documents that are being drafted by State Department lawyers--all you have to do is read through them and it's very clear that this is what the deal is. But most people don't read these documents, they're long, and they're complicated.
This highlights the problems within the management and respect of international law. You did win two world courts orders on behalf of the Bosnian government, but so far, neither respect nor implementation of those orders has occurred. What are the difficulties associated with the management and implementation of international law, and what are the ramifications for the international political order?
I think that at this point, if the UN and the great powers are prepared to let Bosnia go down when there are two World Court orders overwhelmingly in Bosnia's favour on all points, then it seems to me that we're at an end of the international legal order that was set up in the aftermath at the end of World War II.
"I think we've reached a historical era now where the West has proven its complete and total moral bankruptcy on Bosnia and has now forfeited any moral right to leadership that it might have had in terms of a commitment to principles like human rights, democracy, the rule of law, all of which they have subverted, undermined and destroyed in Bosnia."
Francis Boyle
When we have the UN carving up a UN member state and violating every known principle that the post-World War II order was expected to uphold, I believe that we're witnessing the eclipse of the international legal order, and I can assure everyone that that's the way that the Islamic world sees Bosnia.  If Muslims had killed a quarter-of-a-million Christians and Jews, and Muslims had raped 30,000 Christian and Jewish women, this war would have been over three years ago. The West would have never tolerated it. But when it comes to Muslim people being massacred, every known principle of international law has been violated by the permanent members of the Security Council, by the United Nations organisation itself, and by all of Europe--they just do not care. Again, as I argued at the World Court, if the UN and the World Court cannot save Bosnia, then what good is the UN. What is left? I think that the answer is nothing. And the longer this goes on, the more that will become apparent.
It's the same with NATO. What good is NATO?  Again, the answer is nothing.
Here we have the world's largest military alliance sitting around in Europe for 40 years with nothing to do. President Bush actually tried to revise the mandate of NATO to put it into a peace-keeping type operation to deal with regional threats in Eastern Europe. The first regional threat appears and what happens? Nothing. And it's destroying NATO from within, and without. I'm sure that we'll see more of this in-fighting at the UN and other types of international forum where the West has proven its total hypocrisy to the Third World and the Islamic world.
For what reasons are the UN and the US distorting the mandates that have been provided to them and why has there been the lack of effective mediation and conflict resolution in Bosnia?
It goes back to Machiavellian power politics, a situation that we saw a decade or so before World War I where there was a reestablishment of the triple entente between Russia, France and Britain. As they see it, Bosnia is not worth another world war. Of course, all three countries unquestionably suffered terribly during World War I. Paris was almost overrun by the Germans, the British lost an entire generation of men, and the Russian empire was dissolved. So their attitude is that the Bosnians are not worth fighting for, the UN Charter isn't worth fighting for, and above all, that as the Balkans is a nasty place there will need to be a strongman in charge of the Balkans. That strongman, of course, is Milosevic--the great powers can do business with Milosevic, and have done business with Milosevic and his predecessors, going back to Tito. Tito was the darling of the West as long as he was opposed to Stalin.
This is the doctrine of the policeman, that every region of the world needs a policeman to keep it under control and Milosevic is the policeman in the Balkans. So we're going to have some hand-wringing and some tears for the Bosnians but they will be sacrificed on the altar of great-power politics.  It's really a reversion to pre-World War I mentality and pre-World War II behaviour.
Milosevic is perceived by the US and the West as someone that they can do business with. Is this in terms of the arms trade, or economics, or other geopolitical factors?
In control and domination of the Balkans. And I'm not the only one saying this--you can read it in the pages of the newspapers, or on the Internet--they're all saying the West can do business with Milosevic, not only in respect to Bosnia, but in the whole region. He can keep it under his thumb and keep it under control. The Balkans is a volatile area--that's the assumption, and as far as the West is concerned there needs be someone there to keep it under control and Milosevic can do it.
It's pretty much the replay of the Nixon doctrine. For example, the Shah of Iran was America's policeman in the Persian Gulf. That's the notion with Milosevic and whoever his successor might be. Putting aside the rhetoric, the continuity between the Bush and Clinton administrations is striking. When Yugoslavia was about to fall apart, George Bush sent his Secretary of State, Jim Baker, to meet with Milosevic and make the statement that the United States supports the territorial integrity of Yugoslavia. Why? The policeman theory--the US needs Belgrade to keep the Balkans under control and that statement by Baker effectively was the green light to Milosevic to invade Slovenia, then to invade Croatia, and then to invade Bosnia. And then the arms embargo was put on. If you read the negotiated history of resolution 713 at the UN Security Council, it was not Belgrade's suggestion to implement the arms embargo over the former Yugoslavia, it was the United States', Britain's, France's and Russia's suggestion in order to facilitate Milosevic in his control and domination of the Balkans.
On the issue of the international arms embargo over the former Yugoslav republics, the UN General Assembly voted to lift the embargo, the US Congress voted to lift the embargo as well, yet it remains in place. Why has the international arms embargo not been lifted, and what is the relationship between the arms embargo, human rights and genocide according to the definition provided within the UN Charter?
First of all, the arms embargo was never imposed on Bosnia. Resolution
outlining the arms embargo was imposed on the former Yugoslavia. There is no Security Council resolution at all that says that the independent Bosnia is subject to an arms embargo. The situation consisted of the British, and the French and the Americans deciding to prevent the government of Bosnia--a government which not only represents Muslims, but Serbs, and Croats and Jews and others--from defending themselves from a genocidal assault by the Serbs, led by Milosevic, by Karadzic, and by Mladic.
This was a conscientious decision. It was the British Navy, the French Navy and the American Navy in the Adriatic and their Air Forces that made it quite clear that no weapons could go into Bosnia. They couldn't care less about the resolution--the resolution has nothing to do with it.
Eventually Congress forced Clinton to pull out but the British and the French are still there policing this embargo. Again, this goes back to the Bush policy, which was to preserve Yugoslavia as an entity at all costs and if the Bosnians had to be sacrificed, then so be it. As the US sees it, they're just Muslims anyway, who cares--President Bush had just killed a quarter-of-a-million Muslims in Iraq and no-one cared, so why should anyone care about the dead Muslims in Bosnia. So, the great powers are working hand-in-glove with Belgrade. And with resolution 713, the great powers had to ask Belgrade to give them permission to put the arms embargo on because it was their idea, not Belgrade's. And Belgrade, after some procrastination, went along with this because they already had enough weapons. They had all the weapons that they would ever need and therefore the embargo was not going to hurt them, but hurt the Bosnians. That was the policy and all the great powers were in on this--the US, Russia, Britain, and France--they're all in on it and they all know exactly what they're doing. It's dirty. Again, when I was in Geneva with the Bosnian Presidency at the Owen-Stoltenburg carve-up, it was like a combination of Munich and Poland, and like watching the Jews go off to Auschwitz in cattle-cars. Even the State Department predicted that if the Owen-Stoltenburg Plan had been carried out, a million-and-a-half to two million Bosnians would be subjected to ethnic cleansing. And, despite this, the plan was still being pushed by Christopher. He and his Ambassador were there pressuring President Izetbegovic to go along with this carve-up. It was so bad that it led to three State Department officials to quit in protest over a thoroughly duplicitous and unprincipled policy that was being pursued by Christopher, and with the full knowledge and approval of Clinton.  Christopher then made some statements about how if the Serbs continued to bombard Sarajevo and other Bosnian cities that there might be airstrikes.  Now imagine this--there we were in Geneva trying to negotiate a peace plan, which for all intents and purposes was really a carve-up, and at the same time Serb artillery, tanks and anti-aircraft weapons were pouring fire down on Sarajevo, on Tuzla, Zenica, Gorazde, and all the other Bosnian cities.
NATO airplanes were flying over Bosnia, watching all this going on, taking pictures and sending the reconnaissance photos back to NATO headquarters, to the UN and to Washington, London and Paris. Yet nothing is being done.
And you can watch all this on CNN. Meanwhile, President Izetbegovic is told 'by the way, you have to sign this document that will carve Bosnia up and rob Bosnia of its UN membership'. This is what's going on here.
During the so-called peace negotiations in Geneva, we sent a letter to President Clinton asking for airstrikes against the Serb artillery, tanks and anti-aircraft weapons that were then raining death and destruction upon the innocent people of Bosnia. Christopher had only threatened to use airstrikes, so I suggested that we send a letter to Clinton and specifically ask for airstrikes.
So I drafted the letter which effectively asked 'how do you expect us to negotiate here when we are being bombarded. If you want reasonable good faith negotiations, then, at a minimum, we need airstrikes, we need some counter-power here because the Serb leaders aren't interested in negotiating with us'. I've been at peace negotiations--I was with the Palestinians in Washington and that was pretty bad, but nothing like this.
These were not negotiations, these were diktats. There is no way that it can be anything but a diktat as long as the Bosnians cannot really do more to defend themselves than they currently are. And that's what the international community has been doing so far. The Owen-Stoltenburg Plan was a diktat. The Vance-Owen Plan was a diktat. The Contact Group plan was a diktat--all imposed on the Bosnians against their wishes. President Izetbegovic is not a Muslim fundamentalist who wants a mini-Muslim state in Bosnia. He is a very cultured, educated, old-world gentleman who would very much like to see a true European state. And he is up there in Geneva with the other members of the Bosnian presidency fighting for a true multi-cultural state. The irony for me is that the Bosnians are fighting for human rights, international law and democracy. That's what the Bosnians want--and the West, the US, Britain, Russia, and France are saying, 'you can't have that--we're not giving it to you. All you have is a little apartheid mini-Muslim state. That's all we're going to give you, there you go'. That's the greatest irony of all.
Speaking to the people of Bosnia, predominantly, they blame two people for the crisis. One is Slobodan Milosevic, the other is Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
The United Nations is an instrument, and in this sense, Boutros-Ghali is correct in stating that the UN can only act according to its mandate. He just does what the great powers tell him to do--this is not to excuse the UN at all--but the UN is doing exactly what the Russians, the British, the French and the Americans want them to do.
But what Boutros-Ghali must be criticised for is for being so spineless and unprincipled for going along with the carve-up of Bosnia. And remember, his grandfather was the one who signed the treaty handing over Egypt to Britain, so Boutros-Ghali is in the pocket of the British and the Americans. They put him in that slot of Secretary-General against the wishes of the Africans.  They wanted a black candidate, but the Americans and the British wanted someone that they could control, and that candidate was Boutros-Ghali. The UN is complicit through and through but again, he UN is just a tool and an instrument of the permanent members of the Security Council They are the ones behind this.
In 1993 when Boutros-Ghali flew into Sarajevo he stated that he could think of at least ten other regions in the world that had more urgent needs and concerns than Sarajevo, and how Bosnia is basically a white persons' war.  For what purposes would he have made these statements and, indeed, are there other arenas around the world that are more 'deserving'
than Bosnia?
There are many areas of conflict in the world that we in the West overlook.  Bosnia was unique at that time because genocide was being perpetrated. This is the first case in the history of the post-World War II era where a formal determination of the existence of genocide was produced, and of the trigger of the Genocide Convention obligation. I won that World Court ruling on April 8, 1992 and no-one did anything about it despite the existence within the UN Convention of the obligation to stop genocide. Later on, of course, the same thing happened in Rwanda and nothing was done there either--the UN did nothing, the United States did nothing, and indeed the UN made it worse by pulling troops out and allowing the genocide to happen again. What we are witnessing now is a degradation of any international commitments to any principles at all.
That even when genocide stares the great powers in the face, they refuse to do anything to stop it. Genocide evolved out of the consensus after World War II that what happened to the Jewish people was atrocious and should never happen again. Yet the same type of backsliding, denial, abnegation of will power that we saw with the Jewish people is happening with the Bosnians and now the Rwandans. I take it that what has happened in Bosnia and Rwanda is a sign to any dictator in the world that it's possible to commit mass murder and genocide and get away with it--no-one's really going to do anything to stop the action unless oil or capital interest is involved. As Haris Silajdzic said in Geneva, 'if you kill one person you're prosecuted; if you kill ten people, you're a celebrity; if you kill a quarter-of-a-million people, you're invited to a peace conference'. That's the lesson of Bosnia, and that's exactly what has happened with Karadzic.
So the agenda for the United Nations in Bosnia and the former Yugoslavia is not to intervene at any cost--a number of public statements by General Michael Rose and Yasushi Akashi deliberately confuse, contradict and compromise the actions of the UN in Bosnia...
As a matter of fact, the UN has now withdrawn the air patrol over Bosnia that was imposed on the same day that I won the first World Court order.
On that day it was announced that NATO was going to set up the air patrol over Bosnian air space. I was asked by the BBC what I thought about this and I stated that I hoped that those air planes weren't just going to fly over Bosnia and watch the raping, the killing, the murdering and the genocide that was going on, and just wave to the people without anything about it.  Yet that is exactly what has happened.
Again, it's not a question of inefficiency with the UN. They know what they're doing and exactly why they're doing it. These people at the UN are not dumb, they are not inefficient, and they are not incompetent. What is being done in Bosnia is being done for a reason. To give you an example, whenever it appeared that NATO might be instigating airstrikes under the impetus of the Clinton administration, General Rose would send some of his own troops to be captured by the Serbs in order to abort the airstrikes.
Why were all the UN troops taken hostage in the last month after the first set of UN airstrikes--why weren't they protected?
That's exactly what the UN wanted--they wanted them taken hostage so that further military action would be prevented, and then precipitate an excuse for the UN to pull out of Bosnia. That's why those UN peace-keepers were left at risk. And now, NATO has decided to pull back the patrol
"If you kill one person, you're prosecuted. If you kill ten people, you're a celebrity; if you kill a quarter-of-a-million people, you're invited to a peace conference."
Bosnian Prime Minister, Haris Silajdzic, referring to the invitation of Bosnian Serb representative Radovan Karadzic to the Vance-Owen Peace Plan negotiations.
over Bosnian airspace. Now they are just patrolling on the Adriatic Sea.
When the attack by the Serb airplanes occurred in Bosnia, nothing was done.  Now NATO is pulling back what little ineffective military action they were taking. Apparently senior UN General Bernard Janvier has promised Karadzic that there will be no more NATO airstrikes and as a symbol of this understanding, the UN pulled back and effectively terminated the air patrol of Bosnia. And my guess is that the so-called Rapid Reaction Corps is being sent over there to extricate the UN--that's why Owen quit. Owen has always been a tool of the British Foreign Office and he has done exactly what his masters in London have wanted him to do.
Now the great powers have decided that the time has come to pull out of Bosnia and have told Owen to get out of there. So Owen is out. Unless something remarkable happens between now and the end of this year, I suspect that the British and the French will probably withdraw from Bosnia.
The operations of the War Crimes Tribunal have been along the same lines of ineptitude as the resolutions that have been passed through the Security Council and the General Assembly. What exactly is the purpose of the War Crimes Tribunal and what are the problems that exist within its legal framework?
I don't mean to criticise any of the judges involved and I'm sure that they're men and women of good faith but essentially, the War Crimes Tribunal is an exercise in public relations by the Security Council. The CIA has made detailed reports, the State Department has made detailed reports, they have their reconnaissance satellites and their airplanes--they know all about the war crimes in Bosnia. But in an effort to try to deflect public pressure upon them, the Security Council decided to set up the so-called War Crimes Tribunal to make it appear as if something is being done about the problem, whereas in fact what they are doing is negotiating with the very people whom they know are responsible for the war crimes. That's pretty much like negotiating with Hitler, Himmler and Goring, during World War II. The assumption by the great powers is that these are the reasonable people, they're the ones in power, so we have to broker some type of peace settlement with them because they're the only ones that we can deal with.
The tribunal was pushed by the Clinton administration. Again, total hypocrisy. Clinton took a very strong stand for Bosnia in the campaign.
Once he assumed power he just continued the Bush policies. But there's a certain element of public relations. During the campaign he had to appeal to a certain constituency in the United States, the human rights lobby, and for them Bosnia is an important issue. So Clinton has to run around and make it appear as if something is really being done on Bosnia, and the installation of the tribunal gave this appearance. Again, I don't mean to criticise Justice Goldstone, I'm sure he's a well intentioned man. But it's the question of the parameters. There's no money for the tribunal, not much staff, there's not much investigation, so not much is going to happen. It's just like what happened with the Bassiouni commission to investigate war crimes. What happened? Sharif Bassiouni was put in charge of the commission to investigate war crimes in the former Yugoslavia.
UN gave him no money. He had to go out and find his own money. How can there be an effective investigation without money? Then he puts a report out that Boutros-Ghali buries in the ground. We haven't seen very much of that report. The UN buried the whole thing, on purpose.
Then the UN put Bassiouni out of business. Why? Because he was doing an effective job even with all the financial obstacles. And of course, when it was proposed that Bassiouni should be the chief prosecutor, the British objected because they couldn't control him--he might do an effective job--he might do something silly like indict Milosevic. Bassiouni has more than enough evidence at the court on Milosevic--do you think that they're going to indict him when they're trying to negotiate with him? This will not happen.
In Geneva during the peace negotiations, President Izetbegovic had to go in and shake hands with Karadzic. I walked right past him--I wasn't going to shake his hand because he's a mass murderer and a criminal. And he has been given visas to come and negotiate in Geneva. And in New York. The State Department let Karadzic come to New York to the Vance-Owen carve-up negotiations, with a US visa. The State Department was obliged under the Geneva Convention to apprehend Karadzic. Eagleburger had already identified him a suspected war criminal. The US had an absolute obligation to apprehend Karadzic if he showed up in New York, and to open an investigation, and to prosecute--instead, they're giving him a visa and secret service protection in New York. And the same happened in Geneva--they're giving protection to war criminals. People who commit genocide. That's who the great powers are dealing with. That's who they're negotiating with, and they know it. They know it full well. This is not a question of ineptitude and incompetence.  Everyone knows exactly what they're doing and why they are doing it.
So when Lawrence Eagleburger accused Slobodan Milosevic and Radovan Karadzic of war crimes, and he is not the only one to make the accusations--the accusations have been made many times by leading political figures--is it another extension of the public relations and propaganda machine at work?
Pretty much--to make it appear that if nothing is being done effectively to stop the genocide, then at least there can be some condemnation because there is some public pressure here in the United States to do something.
At this time the first reports were coming out of the death camps by Roy Gutman, the courageous reporter from Newsday. The US knew about these death camps but they weren't saying anything about them, and they weren't going to do anything about them. Then Gutman broke the story and it went out all over the world. Finally, amid the hemming and hawing the US said 'oh yes, we guess it is happening, we should condemn it'. The same thing happen to the Jews which is what led to the Genocide Convention. The theory was that if genocide ever happened again, that the world had an absolute obligation to stop it. That's what the Genocide Convention is all about.
And yet here in the United States, even Clinton refused to admit that genocide was going on in Bosnia. And that after I won the first World Court order determining that genocide was going on in Bosnia and that the Serbs must cease and desist, not only in Belgrade but also in Pale. The US and the UN refused to admit that genocide was going on even when they knew all about it. They didn't want to admit to the obligation to stop it.
why? Again, as the great powers see it, these people are Muslim, they're throw-away people. If these people were Christians or Jews or whatever--different story. But since they're Muslims, who cares. It's the same attitude that the world took towards the Jews a generation ago. And indeed that's pretty much how it looks with the Bosnians--it was a repeat of the attempt to save the Jews back in the 1930s, except this time the Bosnians will go down fighting.  Unlike everyone else who predicted that they were going to throw in the towel, they're going to fight.
I remember President Izetbegovic saying that he will die in Sarajevo. So if the Bosnians are going to go down, they're going to go down fighting.
And that's what the inconvenience is for the great powers, that these little-bitty people are going to fight, they're not going to go quietly, and they're not going to sign some 'peace' document that puts them out of business completely.
In current world political affairs, there is one consistent factor in the conflicts in Bosnia, Chechnya, Nagorno-Karabakh, the Gulf war--a toleration by the West of atrocities committed against Muslim populations.
An overriding agenda in the West is to actively deter Islamic fundamentalism and create mass hysteria to surround any political domain that comprises a 'Muslim' leadership.
Certainly if you look at it, that's what is happening, where the West seems to be going to war with the Muslim world. Just look around. The way that the Palestinians are being treated by the Israelis is tantamount to genocide--and indeed, I've offered to President Arafat to sue the Israelis at the World Court over this matter. Libya is being attacked and destabilised because of oil and the fact that Colonel Gaddafi will not take orders from the West.
Iran is under assault by the United States primarily at the beckoned call of the Israelis lobby the US. The entire Gulf is under the control of the United States. The US sits on top of all that oil--50 percent of the world's oil supply. And the US is keeping Iraq in near genocidal conditions--I've also offered to the Iraqi government to sue the permanent members of the Security Council to break the economic embargo that's designed to destroy them. Chechnya again is a situation where more Muslim people are being wiped out. After the Russian invasion, I tried to get some of the Islamic states to let me sue Russia to try to stop this, but none of them were prepared to go after the Russians. So this is the consistent pattern by the West of hostility toward the Islamic world, and it's only going to get worse not better. Bosnia is simply part of it in the grander scheme of things.
And we've also heard Owen and others say 'we don't want a Muslim state in Europe'. This is a continuation of the historic process of expulsion of Muslims from Europe going back to disintegration of the Ottoman empire and the subsequent mass transfers of people. This is the final cleansing and wiping out of a major concentrated population of Muslims in Europe and no-one really cares.
In 1991, the Gulf war contained its own version of geo-political hypocrisy for the purpose of Western capital interests. However, this period did see a level of consultancy and agreement amongst the great powers that failed to exist for decades, and was regarded as the pinnacle of the United Nations' achievements. Four years after the Gulf war, the talk about the end of the United Nations is being circulated. Will the friction that exists between Muslim countries and Christian countries ultimately lead to the dissolution of the United Nations, in the same way that the League of Nations dissolved over 50 years ago?
Of course, the Gulf war was simply an attempt by the United States to steal 50 percent of the world's oil resources using the UN as a pretext and a cover to do so. The problem with many of the Muslim nations is their leadership. It's not the Muslim people, it's their cowardly leaders.
know exactly what's going on. They are not prepared to take the West on behalf on any of these causes, they're divided, they're paralysed, they're corrupt, and they're bought off for the most part by the West. This became clear to me when I was in Geneva, meeting with some of the Ambassadors from the Islamic Conference Organisation during the Owen-Stoltenburg carve-up. I said to these Ambassadors 'gentlemen, your people will hold your leaders accountable if the Bosnians are carved-up and destroyed'.
Deputy Head of the ICO smiled and shrugged his shoulders and said 'but, what can we do?'.  At that point it was clear to me that all the Muslim rulers around the world know exactly what's happening but are not prepared to take on the West over Bosnia, Palestine, Libya, Iraq, Chechnya, or anywhere else. And they have had the options available to them. In 1973 they had an oil embargo and the leverage that went with it. In the speeches that I've given in Malaysia and Turkey, I've stated to the Muslim nations that if they want to save the Bosnians, they should impose an oil embargo on the West. But they can't do it now because the situation has changed. Because the US troops are now stationed in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Abu Dhabi, and Qatar. These rulers are no longer free. So this is the problem for the leadership. But for the people of the Muslim world, Bosnia is a critical issue.
They see the total hypocrisy of the West on human rights and international law, and the United Nations Charter and see that their leaders are not prepared to go to the matt on any of these issues. This is the typical colonial divide and conquer strategy, just as the Romans did, just as the British did, and what the Americans are doing today.
What type of future do you see for the republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina?
The Bosnians are going to keep fighting. As for where this will lead to, I really can't say, but as long as the Bosnians keep fighting, the pillars of the post-World War II legal order are going to be shaken--the UN, NATO, and the World Court. With the total hypocrisy surrounding all of the international principles, these institutions will continue to be unmasked and will continue to be undermined. That's what I see happening if the current policies continue, but unfortunately it appears that this is going to be the case in the future. As for me, I am still prepared to return to the World Court and start suing the permanent members of the Security Council and break that arms embargo for the Bosnians. This is the most critical factor now as they need the heavy weapons to defend their people.
This is their right under Article 51 of the UN Charter. It is also their obligation under the Genocide Convention. So I don't see the Bosnians going away when they are prepared to fight and die for human rights and democracy--that was my impression after talking with President Izetbegovic--he is not going to throw in the towel. So the conflict in Bosnia will continue and the longer it continues the more it is going to shake the foundations of the post-World War II order.
What type of future is there for the United Nations?
None. As I see it, if this continues the way that it's going, then the UN means nothing, and it would be better to put it out of its misery, than a continuation of the current hypocrisy. By now, it should be clear to everyone that the UN is nothing more than the agent, and the instrument of those four permanent members operating in the Security Council and that it really has no independent or outside existence. The UN is pretty meaningless, so let's strip away the facade and the veneer and get down to the fiasco that's really happening here.
Could the United Nations become more meaningful and legally viable if there was reform in the Security Council itself?
The Security Council should be put out of business and all the functions for any maintenance of international peace and security should be transferred to the General Assembly by two-thirds vote. In this sense, there would be the capacity to have some sort of democratic control but this suggestion is not on anyone's agenda.
The Security Council is like a star-chamber these days, where they no longer even meet in public. All matters are now transacted in private.
It's just a little club of the most powerful members of the world to order around everyone else. That's what the Muslims saw in the Gulf. We are seeing, in a historical perspective, the perversion--total perversion--of every known principle of international law, and the international organisations and institutions that were set up after World War II. Now that this is being turned on its head, and especially if the war in Bosnia continues, I really don't anticipate the current order staying.
We've reached a historical era now where the West as it is, Europe, and the United States, has proven its moral bankruptcy--complete and total moral bankruptcy, initially in Bosnia and then later on Rwanda. The West has now forfeited any moral right to leadership that it might have had in terms of a commitment to principles like human rights, democracy, and the rule of law, all of which they have subverted, undermined and destroyed in Bosnia.
The Bosnian crisis, whatever comes of it will be a turning point in the way people now perceive the West, and of course, that perception is that all the West is interested in its their own pocket books and controlling the world with weapons--the West produces the best weapons in the world and it has become obvious to the world that the West doesn't care about principles. All the West cares about is oil, standards of living and developing the weapons necessary to keep those standards of living.
it. And that is becoming more and more clear to the Third World. How the Third World will act on is unknown but I think that we are certainly at a major turning point in international relations.
Francis A. Boyle
Law Building
504 E. Pennsylvania Avenue

Champaign, Ill. 61820


Haider's spin versus reality

Al Jazeera reports there were at least 3 suicide attacks on Iraqi security convoys yesterday which left at least 55 dead.  Of interest, the Tuesday event broke slow and Iraqi officials were quick to deny it and even now are disputing the death toll.  This goes to Haider al-Abadi's devotion to propaganda which may (temporarily) win the 'spin war' but loses everything else including the reality check.

Haider's attacks on the press began when he grew enraged in April over the press noting the failures of the military.  It led to his infamous public remarks about how he hoped to be able to control the press shortly.  These remarks were ignored by the press despite a vast number of reporters attending the public event.

While it was short on facts, yesterday the news cycle was full of bragging of how many 'terrorists' the Shi'ite militias had arrested.  This was sold as success.  No one thought to question it or wonder who exactly was being arrested.  Today, Jay Akbar (Daily Mail) covers some arrests:

Hundreds of civilians who escaped the Iraqi city of Ramadi after it was seized by ISIS in last week's bloody insurgency have been rounded up and arrested by Iraqi militia - because they were suspected of being terrorists in disguise.
New footage appears to show huge numbers of Iraqi refugees shackled in chains to one another and being led single-file through a desert region of Anbar province.
Reports suggest the civilians were arrested by members of an Iranian-backed Shi'ite militia group called Popular Mobilisation who control and police Baghdad.

And that's why you don't cheerlead arrests while pretending to be reporters.

In other news, AFP notes, "State TV said the paramilitaries had renamed the campaign 'Labeyk Ya Iraq' (At Your Service Iraq) Wednesday. A spokesman for the paramilitary groups, known as Hashid Shaabi, said both names had 'the same meaning'."

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    Tuesday, May 26, 2015

    Iraq snapshot

    Tuesday, May 26, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter tells some truths, the White House then stabs him in the back for it, Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi insists that liberating Anbar Province "is so close," and much more.

    Mark your calendars, Ammar Al Shamary (USA Today) reports, "Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Tuesday that 'the liberation of Anbar is so close'. "

    So close -- closer and closer
    Feel your body next to mine
    So close -- closer and closer
    closer and closer and closer
    I lose all sense of time 
    I want to stay here for the rest of my life
    I want to stay here for the rest of my life
    -- "So Close," written by Bill Wray, Rob Mounsey and Diana Ross, first appears on Diana's Silk Electric album.

    And it may take the rest of our lives.

    It certainly won't be "so close."

    Anbar isn't a city, it's a province.  And while Ramadi feel to the Islamic State this month, the province itself has been under IS de facto control since spring of 2014.  The 'success' of Tikrit this spring was no 'success' at all.

    The mission to retake the city from the Islamic State was supposed to be quick and last less than a week.  It took them weeks just to get into the city itself.  And today?

    Tikrit is empty.

    Not thriving.

    Refugees who fled the violence of the Islamic State refuse to return for the same reason that others fled the 'liberation' -- the Shi'ite militias (thugs) were looting and terrorizing.

    And Iraq's prime minister responded how?

    After denying the War Crimes were taking place, after photos surfaced proving that they were, Haider announced that from this moment forward those breaking the law better stop.  Starting now.  He's not kidding, mister.  Right now.

    No one was ever punished for anything despite the fact that the thugs were quite happy during their crime spree -- as demonstrated by their broad smiles in one photograph after another.

    Yeah, photographs.


    And yet no one was punished.

    Even with photographs of the guilty, Haider and his forces were unable to figure out what the criminals looked like.

    Tikrit was a failure in every way.

    It revealed that the Iraqi forces were not ready for combat.

    It also revealed that the Iranian help was no real help at all.

    Despite -- or maybe because -- Iranian Quds Force ommander Qasem Solemani calling the shots, the mission faltered week after week and the Iraqi forces were only able to move forward (and into Tikrit) as a result of Solemani leaving and the US military dropping bombs from war planes.

    So claims by Haider al-Abadi that liberation of Anbar Province -- the entire province -- are "close" are probably as dubious as every other claim the fool has made.

    That includes, but is not limited to, when he tried to big boy on the international stage last fall by announcing that he had 'intelligence' on terrorist attacks on NYC's subways.  Though the White House was indulgent, as always, on their child-like idiot, others -- especially NYC officials -- felt no obligation to treat crazy Haider with kid gloves and he returned to Iraq with the howls of laughter still echoing in his ears.

    With that record dogging him, Haider wants to announce that not only is he initiating a mission to 'liberate' Anbar Province but that liberation is very close.

    Hamdi Alkhshali, Nick Paton Walsh and Laura Smith-Spark (CNN) report, "Iraq forces have launched a major military operation to liberate Iraq's Anbar and Salaheddin provinces from ISIS, Iraqi state media and a key Shia militia group said Tuesday, a little more than a week after the militant group overran Anbar's provincial capital, Ramadi."

    So the Iraqi forces are launching an operation --

    Well, Iraq military adjacent at any rate.  Ben Kamisar (The Hill) words it this way, "Iraqi-allied forces have launched a new offensive to retake two major provinces from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), according to local media reports."  Simon Tomlinson (Telegraph of London) notes, "A spokesman for Iraq's Shi'ite militias boasted that the operation launched to retake the province from the Islamic State will 'not last for a long time' and that Iraqi forces have surrounded the provincial capital from three sides."

    The Shi'ite militias -- noted for their abuses and their criminal actions -- are taking part in the action in Sunni Anbar?

    No, they're leading it -- or saying that they are.  Reuters reports, "Iraq's Shi'ite militia announced on Tuesday they had taken charge of the campaign to drive Islamic State from the western province of Anbar, giving the operation an openly sectarian codename that could infuriate its Sunni population." And the codename is Labaik ya Hussein to ensure that sectarian tensions rise even further.  AP explains that the phrase "refers to a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad and one of the most revered figures of Shiite Islam."  Joshua Keating (Slate) elaborates further:

    The Shiite militias have named the Anbar campaign “Labaik ya Hussein”—a slogan honoring the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad whose defeat and beheading in 680 A.D. is one of the defining moments in the history of Shia Islam and the schism between the Shiites and Sunnis. The name is not exactly designed to assuage the fears of Sunni locals who see the campaign as an Iranian-backed Shiite takeover. It also plays into the hands of ISIS, which portrays itself as fighting on behalf of Iraq’s beleaguered Sunni population. 

    Zee News words it this way, "Iraq`s Shi`ite paramilitaries announced on Tuesday they had taken charge of the campaign to drive Islamic State from the western province of Anbar, giving the operation an openly sectarian codename that could infuriate its Sunni population."

    AFP reports, "The Pentagon has expressed disappointment over a decision by Iraqi militias to impose an explicitly Shia name for a military operation in Iraq’s Sunni heartland, saying it could aggravate sectarian tensions."  Zee News words it this way, "Washington: The Pentagon on Tuesday said it was "unhelpful" for Iraq`s Shi`ite militia to have announced an openly sectarian code name for the operation to retake the Sunni city of Ramadi and added that, in the US view, the full-on offensive had yet to begin."

    And these steps make the news at the same time that Iraqi Spring MC notes that  southeast of Baquba, Shi'ite militias have burned ten houses and are telling people they must leave their village.  The same outlets rushing to repeat the Baghdad propaganda shy from reporting those actions.

    Eric Schmitt gets taken to the woodshed by Glenn Greenwald (The Intercept) who notes Schmitt's column passing as 'reporting' argues that the US is being too 'kid gloves' in the fight against the Islamic State in order to keep civilian deaths down.  Greenwald notes that Schmitt ignores civilian deaths and that there were outlets he could have turned to:

    Among that evidence is the data compiled by, a group of independent journalists with extensive experience reporting on that region. Last week, the group reported:
    To May 13th 2015, between 587 and 734 civilian non-combatant fatalities had been reported from 95 separate incidents, in both Iraq and Syria.
    Of these it is our provisional view — based on available reports — that between 370-465 civilian non-combatants have been killed in incidents likely to have been conducted by the coalition.
    A further 130-145 claimed deaths attributed to coalition airstrikes are poorly reported or are single-sourced, while an additional 85-125  reported fatalities resulted from contested events (for example, claims that the Iraq military might instead have been responsible.)

    Is anyone in charge?

    Clearly Haider al-Abadi isn't.

    Is the White House?

    Is it just going to continue to fund and arm Shi'ite thugs who terrorize the Sunni population?

    One grown up is Secretary of Defense Ash Carter.  On State of the Union (CNN) Sunday, Barbara Starr interviewed  Carter who spoke of the fall of Ramadi to the Islamic State.

    Secretary Ash Carter:  What apparently happened was that the Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight. Uh, they were not outnumbered. In fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force. And yet they failed to fight they withdrew from the sight and uh that says to me and i think to most of us that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight ISIL and  defend themselves now we can give them training, we can give them equipment, we obviously can't give them the will to fight.

    This was not a controversial call.  It was a description of what had happened.  But there are some who can never tolerate truth.

    Al Jazeera reports that Iraqi MP Hakim al-Saumili threw a snit fit insisting the United States bore the brunt of the blame because they did not furnish Iraq with "good equipment, weapons and aerial support."


    Were the Iraqi forces fighting to protect a US city?

    No, they were fighting to protect their own city.

    Anything a foreign government does is extra.  

    If you can't get your own act together, that's on you.  Quit being such a whiny little bitch and blaming everyone else for your failures.

    And that's the lesson Haider and his supporters need to learn to face.

    But like an overindulgent parent, Barack refuses to allow Haider to learn accountability.  So Joe Biden was rushed in to kiss the boo-boo as the White House announced on Monday:

    Readout of Vice President Biden's Call with Prime Minister Al-Abadi of Iraq

    Vice President Biden spoke with Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi today to reaffirm U.S. support for the Iraqi government’s fight against ISIL. The Vice President recognized the enormous sacrifice and bravery of Iraqi forces over the past eighteen months in Ramadi and elsewhere. The Vice President welcomed the Council of Minister’s unanimous decision on May 19th to mobilize additional troops, honor those who have fallen, and prepare for counter-attack operations. The Vice President pledged full U.S. support in these and other Iraqi efforts to liberate territory from ISIL, including the expedited provision of U.S. training and equipment to address the threat posed by ISIL’s use of truck bombs.

    Not everyone rushed to indulge Haider's tantrum (or to stab Carter in the back).  Matt Stout (Boston Herald) reports

    Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter was “absolutely right” when he said Iraqi forces lack the “will to fight” the surging Islamic State, U.S. Rep. Stephen F. Lynch told the Herald yesterday, but the South Boston Democrat warned that Iraq can’t expect the U.S. to commit more troops to “do the fighting that their young people should be doing.”
    Lynch, one of Congress’ most frequent visitors to war-torn areas in Iraq and Afghanistan, said the U.S. has “created a moral hazard,” where people “in this region think that we’re going to come in and fight their war for them.”

    And Kristina Wong (The Hill) reports, "The Pentagon doubled down Tuesday on Defense Secretary Ash Carter's criticism of Iraqi forces, saying that local troops 'chose to withdraw' from the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Ramadi."  Al Jazeera adds, "Iraqi forces in Ramadi had held a 10-to-1 numerical advantage over the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant when the pro-government troops retreated in the face of an ISIL offensive over a week ago, Pentagon sources told Al Jazeera on Tuesday."

    Margaret Griffis ( counts 223 violent deaths across Iraq today.

    In the United States, Monday was Memorial Day -- a day that gets shorthanded as Veterans Day II.  It is about sacrifice and, specifically, about remembering those who died while serving.  The White House elected to 'honor' the day and the dead by stabbing Secretary of Defense Ash Carter in the back.  The White House also elected to yet again spin on US forces stationed in war zones.

    IAVA's Paul Rieckhoff wasn't silent about that nonsense:

  • Hmmmm. So, it's all over? Tell that to our troops still serving there. And in Iraq.

  • Lastly, David Bacon's latest book is The Right to Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Migration.  We'll close with this from Bacon's introduction to his latest photo essay "Streets of New York: Kids"

    I was a little boy when we left New York City for Oakland.  My father always said we'd become transcontinental migrants so we could live in a better place to bring up a family. I knew there were other reasons too, even at the time.  He'd been blacklisted and couldn't get work.  Their friends were getting called up before the UnAmerican Activities Committee.  I guess my folks were a little scared, and who wouldn't be.

    But I always wondered if I would have turned out different growing up in New York.  Now when I go back I look at the children I see in the street and think -- that could have been me.  I remember going to PS 125, and feeling abandoned when my mother left me there on what must have been my first day.  I remember her bundling me up in a snowsuit later that winter, before we left.

    Kids are kids.  But the ones I see in New York now have a combination of child aspect and adult aspect.  Maybe they grow up fast.  They seem happy enough, but not always.  I see them a lot with questions in their faces, not too sure about this adult world they're faced with.  Then they're funny and aggressive, trying to figure it all out.

    kristina wong