United for Peace of Pierce County, WA - We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy.

NEWS: Putin urges restraint as US admits CIA director visited Kiev

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Russian President Vladimir Putin called U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday and said the U.S. should work "to prevent the use of force and bloodshed as much as possible" in Ukraine, according to a statement from Putin's office, Bloomberg News reported.[1]  --  The White House said that Obama "expressed grave concern about Russian government support for the actions of armed, pro-Russian separatists," and urged Putin to use his influence to get them to withdraw from the government buildings they seized, according to a statement from the White House.  --  In other developments, the White House spokesman confirmed on Monday "that CIA Director John Brennan was in Kiev over the weekend.  --  The Obama administration had previously refused to confirm Russian statements that the head of the Central Intelligence Agency had met with officials of Ukraine’s interim government."  --  Jay Carney would have us believe that Brennan just happened to be there "as part of a trip Brennan took to Europe for regular consultations with security officials." ...

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NEWS: UN official warns Ukraine 'teeters on the brink'

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At a previously unscheduled meeting of the U.N. Security Council Sunday night the assistant secretary-general for political affairs warned that the "likelihood of further bloodshed and violent clashes grows by the hour" in Ukraine, which now "teeters on the brink," CNN reported.[1] ...

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NEWS: Confused, reporterless Wash. Post hypes claims of Ukraine 'invasion' though unsure of facts

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The Washington Post, calling Ukraine's acting president "President Oleksandr Turchynov" though his legitimacy is dubious, on Sunday implicitly endorsed his claim that "The blood of Ukrainian heroes has been shed in a war which the Russian Federation is waging against Ukraine," though the Post reporter's New York Times colleague in Slovyansk (as he spells it), reported that he has not seen a single soldier in the city.  --  While the New York Times noted an official account according to which the police station there had been "stormed," the Post reported that the Ukrainian was killed in "a fight outside Slavyansk."  --  And the New York Times reported that the "men with guns" who set up checkpoints in the city of 130,000 (also spelled Sloviansky and Slaviansk) "asserted they were locals, and nothing suggested otherwise: Some wore mismatched camouflage, but most were out in jeans and ski jackets. Some appeared to be drunk."  --  The Post, though, which has fallen on hard economic times despite the injection of Jeff Bezos's money and does not any longer have many reporters in its employ, echoed uncritically the assertions of U.S. officials:  "'Well, it has all the telltale signs of what we saw in Crimea,' Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said Sunday on ABC’s 'This Week with George Stephanopoulos.'   'It’s professional, it’s coordinated, there’s nothing grass-roots-seeming about it.'"  --  Really?  There's nothing grass-roots-seeming about mismatched camouflage, jeans, ski jackets, and drunkenness? ...

Last Updated on Monday, 14 April 2014 05:21 Read more...
 

NEWS: NY Times reports 'pro-Russian protesters appear to control entire city of Slovyansk'

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Fighting has occurred between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian militants in Slovyansk (also transliterated as Sloviansky, Slavyansk, and Slaviansk, pop. 130,000) in eastern Ukraine, and both Kiev and Moscow have "intensified their statements," the New York Times reported Sunday.[1]  --  What exactly has happened is obscure, however.  --  Andrew Kramer and Andrew Higgins said in paragraph 2 of their story that "[a]t least one [Ukrainian] officer was killed" while "storm[ing] a Ukrainian police station" that militants had seized, but accounts differ and it seems safe to say that no one knows what has really happened.  --  "Roman Svitan, a security adviser to the Ukrainian authorities in Donetsk, said the operation on Sunday was carried out by Alfa, a special services unit of Ukraine’s State Security Service.  --  He gave an upbeat assessment of its progress, saying Ukrainian forces had evicted gunmen from the Slovyansk Police Headquarters, though protesters there said nothing of the sort had happened."  --  It should be noted that Andrew Kramer is in Slovyansk, but did not report seeing any Ukrainian security forces:  "Ukrainian helicopters buzzed the town around noon, but no soldiers were seen."  --  "By Sunday afternoon, the government’s push to reassert its authority in a vitally important industrial and coal-mining region appeared to have made little headway," the Times said.  --  "Pro-Russian protesters appeared to control not only the police station but the entire city of Slovyansk, having set up checkpoints at major streets leading into town." ...

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NEWS: More pro-Russian moves increase tensions in eastern Ukraine

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In the eastern Ukrainian city of Slavyansk (also transliterated as Sloviansky, Sovyansk, and Slaviansk, pop. 130,000), twenty pro-Russian gunmen bearing "modern weapons" "took over the main police building" and "immediately began constructing barricades on roads leading into the city," the Washington Post said Saturday.[1]  --  Buildings in several towns nearby were also attacked, Will England reported.  --  The Wall Street Journal called the events "a dramatic escalation."[2]  --  The New York Times said they "suggested a coordinated campaign to destabilize the Donetsk region."[3]  --  Bloomberg News cited "U.S. and allied intelligence reports" that "indicate that some of yesterday’s demonstrators infiltrated cities in eastern and southern Ukraine during the last month or more as part of a Russian plan to divide Ukraine into federated regions, some of which may hold referendums to rejoin Russia, as Crimea did, the officials said."[4]  --  "Speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the reports, which they stressed aren’t conclusive, two officials said that the assessment by U.S. and NATO intelligence analysts continues to be that Russian President Vladimir Putin prefers using a campaign of provocation, propaganda, bribery, and subversion -- rather than an outright invasion by Russian troops -- to retake some of parts of eastern and southern Ukraine," said Daria Marchak, Volodymyr Verbyany, and Stepan Kravchenko....

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NEWS: Separatists getting little traction in eastern Ukraine

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On Tuesday, separatists in eastern Ukraine called for a referendum on their region's status after arming and barricading themselves inside the state security building in the Ukrainian city of Luhansk (pop. 446,000), Reuters reported Tuesday.[1]  --  Pro-Russian activists are also occupying the regional government headquarters in Donetsk, Thomas Grove said.  --  On Wednesday, Ukraine's interior minister said the crisis would be resolved "within the next 48 hours" and said, menacingly:  "For the minority who want conflict they will get a forceful answer from the Ukrainian authorities."[2]  --  The leader of the commando who seized the building, who called himself Vasiliy, said his "soldiers" (said to be trained military who are veterans of action in Chechnya and Afghanistan) would "stay and fight" until their demand for a referendum was granted, said Grove, also the author of this piece.  --  On Wednesday the Wall Street Journal focused on Donetsk as it reported at length on evidence of Russian involvement in the separatist movement in Ukraine over the course of the past months, also reporting that there were few signs that separatists' activity outside of Crimea was gaining traction.[3]  --  But James Marson suggested that Russia was unlikely to respond to separatists' call for help, even as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was vociferously blaming Russia for the unrest....

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BACKGROUND: Aug. 21 Syria gas attack was Turkish false flag op to push Obama over red line (S. Hersh)

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Barack Obama's decision to stand down from the strike on Syria that he was on the verge of launching last summer came after the Joint Chiefs of Staff informed the president that the gas used in the Aug. 21 sarin attack in Syria was not that of the Syrian armed forces, and that "the attack sought by the White House would be an unjustified act of aggression," legendary investigative reporter Seymour Hersh revealed in an article dated Friday and posted Sunday on the website of the London Review of Books.[1]  --   "It was the Joint Chiefs who led Obama to change course," Hersh said.  --  But the Obama administration has never admitted this, and still denies it.  --  Hersh also reported that the Obama administration, without obeying the legal requirements for such an arrangement, secretly funneled arms from Libya to Syrian rebels in an operation that was run by CIA Director David Petraeus, "creating what the CIA calls a ‘rat line,’ a back channel highway into Syria," and implied that this "rat line" was a factor in the attack in which Ambassador Chris Stevens died.  --  After that incident, the U.S. ended its involvement in shipping arms, but the "rat line" continued to function through the involvement of other countries.  --  Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan was upset at what he perceived as a betrayal, and decided to create an event that would force the U.S. to intervene against the Assad regime, to the overthrow of which Turkey was committed.  --  A former intelligence official told Hersh:  "We now know it was a covert action planned by Erdoğan’s people to push Obama over the red line."  --  "Our senior military officers have been told by the DIA and other intelligence assets that the sarin was supplied through Turkey -- that it could only have gotten there with Turkish support.  --  The Turks also provided the training in producing the sarin and handling it." ...

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CINEMA: 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier' is about Obama's terror kill lists, say directors

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The directors of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" say their new big-budget ($170m) superhero film, which opened on Apr. 4, integrates political critiques of "civil liberties issues, drone strikes, the president's kill list, preemptive technology," Mother Jones reported Friday.[1]  --  Robert Redford's appearance in the film is related to its political themes as well, said Asawin Suebsaeng.  --  Reviews of the film are good, MTV reported.[2] ...

Last Updated on Saturday, 05 April 2014 06:56 Read more...
 

UFPPC statement: Most Americans think US should 'mind its own business'

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UNITED FOR PEACE OF PIERCE COUNTY

"We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy."

MOST AMERICANS THINK U.S. SHOULD ‘MIND ITS OWN BUSINESS’

April 3, 2014

Americans, we often hear of late, are war-weary, fatigued, and discouraged. Iraq and Afghanistan have not gone well and we’re tired, pundits tell us.  But the truth is very different:  deep down, it is not because ordinary Americans are weak but because they believe in morality that they think their leaders shouldn’t dictate to the world.

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NEWS & COMMENTARY: Russia sees NATO reverting to Cold War mindset -- and Russia is right

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Russia complained on Wednesday of NATO's reversion to a Cold War mindset.[1]  --  "It is not hard to imagine who will gain from the suspension of cooperation between Russia and NATO on countering modern threats and challenges to international and European security, in particular in areas such as the fight against terrorism, piracy, and natural and man-made disasters," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich, mordantly.  --  "In any case, it will certainly not be Russia or NATO member states," he added.  --  Supporting evidence indicating that Lukashevich is right was not long in coming.  --  Also on Wednesday, Ars Technica reported that NASA has been ordered to suspend contacts with Russia.[2]  --  COMMENT: The organs of the national security state establishment that are more concerned with self-perpetuation and self-justifying PR in order to protect their budgets than with actual national security are delighted with the new tensions with Russia and are largely responsible for the hype about the largely imaginary Russian preparations for an invasion of Ukraine.  --  In fact, Russia's defensive moves in the face of the Western-encouraged and to some extent Western-organized overthrow of the Ukrainian government are secretly  welcome, since they promise to justify increased defense budgets in the future....

Last Updated on Thursday, 03 April 2014 06:42 Read more...
 

NEWS & COMMENTARY: Signs that a U.S.-Russia Ukraine deal is in the works

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On Monday, Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times of London gave his approval to discussion of "the idea of a federal Ukraine, guarantees for Russian speakers, and an assurance that an independent Ukraine would not join NATO, or have a relationship with the E.U. that damaged Russia’s economic interests," as the basis of a U.S.-Russian deal to settle the Ukraine crisis.[1]  --  Leaving Ukraine out of the negotiations brings up memories of the 1938 Sudetenland crisis and the division of Europe in 1945 at Yalta, Rachman said, but a "Russian-American deal, underpinned by the threat of the West’s economic isolation of Russia if it is violated, is probably the best prospect on offer at the moment."  --  Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin's statement Monday that he was pulling some troops back from the Ukrainian border "could represent the Kremlin's first notable concession after weeks of frantic diplomacy by the U.S. and Europe," the Wall Street Journal reported.[2] ...

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 April 2014 05:37 Read more...
 

COMMENTARY: In US foreign policy circles 'commonly used words have lost their meaning'

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Many of the arguments the U.S. presents to justify its foreign policy concerns are prima facie plausible, but when actual U.S. conduct is examined in order to give them their contextual meaning, they often turn out to be incoherent, Philip Giraldi pointed out in an instructive piece last week.[1]  --  Why this should be so is no mystery.  -- As UFPPC pointed out a decade ago in a statement entitled "On War and the Corruption of Language," "When governments embark on policies that violate elementary moral principles -- when they engage in aggression, for example, or when they set out to steal what rightfully belongs to others, or when they systematically abuse a class of persons -- they are led to corrupt language itself." ...

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ANALYSIS: Russia has violated 'international gentleman's agreement'

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With U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry planning to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Paris on Sunday, commentators are trying to identify what is at stake in the Ukraine crisis.  --  A well-written article written by Thanassis Cambinis and posted by the Boston Globe on Saturday offered three reasons why "Putin's Crimean move crosses the line," as the headline of his piece puts it.[1]  --  First, Russia has supposedly violated an understanding that "major powers only intervene militarily when they have an international consensus on their side, or failing that, when they’re not crossing a rival power’s red lines."  --   Cambanis described this understanding as "an international gentleman’s agreement."  --  Now, the notion that diplomats (and military officers) are gentlemen who must answer to a quasi-aristocratic code of conduct was dear to George Washington, and it has had an enduring influence.  --  But it derives from eighteenth-century mores, and has not applied to international affairs for more than a century.  --  It certainly does not now govern U.S. officials, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's ungentlemanly order in 2010 to State Dept. employees to collect DNA samples and other biometric data from high U.N. officials suggests.  --  So this argument is weak.  --  Second, Cambanis observes that there is an institutional problem.  --  "Today, international norms and institutions aren’t configured to react quickly to a legitimate great power willing to use force to get what it wants."  --  That's true, but this was never more visible than when the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003.  --  The administration of George W. Bush gravely undermined international norms and institutions, and the U.S.'s appeal to them smacks of hypocrisy.  --  In the end Cambanis has nothing to fall back on but a third principle:  the superiority of American power.  --  "The United States, as the world’s dominant military and economic power, maintained the most freedom to act unilaterally, as long as it steered clear of confrontation with Russia or China."  --  But this is merely the principle of might makes right, and Russia can appeal to it as easily as the U.S.  --  It is this, precisely, of which the Russian annexation is symptomatic:  the dominance of U.S. power has been a wasting asset for some time, and this will continue.  --  Thus all three arguments fail, which this explains why the pose of shocked outrage at the "tragedy" of ungentlemanly Russian "aggression" has a faintly ridiculous savor to it, and only makes reasonable discussion more difficult....

Last Updated on Monday, 31 March 2014 01:21 Read more...
 

NEWS: Putin calls Obama to discuss Ukraine

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Ukrainian authorities were inspecting bomb shelters in Kiev on Friday, claiming that Russian troops are massing forces at the border, Reuters reported.[1]  --  The U.S. made similar claims, and U.S. President Barack Obama in interview in Vatican City on Friday mentioned "a range of [Russian] troops massing along that border," the Hindu reported.[2]  --  CNN, meanwhile, published a febrile piece by Ukrainian-American academic and artist Alexander J. Motyl asserting that "many Ukrainians are certain that war is inevitable."[3]  --  But the Associated Press reported that Vladimir Putin has told U.N. General-Secretary Ban-ki Moon that he has "no intention to make any military move," and Russia's ambassador to the U.N., Vitaly Churkin, said "that Putin told Russia’s defense minister on Friday to return Ukraine’s military hardware from Crimea, adding 'this is not something you do if you plan anything dramatic.'"[4]  --  Russian President Vladimir Putin called U.S. President Barack Obama (who was in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia at the time) late in the day on Friday, and after an hour-long conversation the two "agreed that the two countries' foreign ministers would meet" to discuss the Ukraine crisis, the Wall Street Journal reported late Friday.[5]  --  In its report on the call, Russia Today said that the "phone call was a follow up of a proposal presented by Secretary of State John Kerry to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, at the Hague earlier this week."[6]  --  "Mr. Obama took the call from Mr. Putin at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, after finishing a two-hour dinner with King Abdullah," the New York Times reported.[7] ...

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NEWS: Obama, in propaganda mode, invents Kosovo referendum that never occurred

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On Wednesday President Barack Obama gave a speech in Brussels in which he said Kosovo seceded from Serbia "after a referendum," but in fact there was no referendum of any kind.  --  Neboskja Malic found particularly egregious these word's in the president's speech:  "Russia’s leadership is challenging truths that only a few weeks ago seemed self-evident: that in the 21st century, the borders of Europe cannot be redrawn with force, that international law matters, and that people and nations can make their own decisions about their future."  --  "If," Malic wondered, "the borders of Europe cannot be redrawn with [sic] force, why did you do it?  --  If international law matters, why do you routinely violate it?  --  And what 'freedom' of choosing a future are we talking about -- the 'right' to never say no?  --  To do what one is told, or be bombed, invaded, occupied, looted, or 'liberated' through a 'color revolution'?" ...

Last Updated on Friday, 28 March 2014 07:29 Read more...
 

BACKGROUND: Swede patrols streets of Kiev with right-wing paramilitaries

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On Thursday the right-wing Swedish online magazine called Fria Tider ('Free Times') posted an admiring profile of a 37-year-old Swede with a "National Socialist" background who now calls himself an "ethnic nationalist" and who has gone to Ukraine to work as a paramilitary policeman in Kiev.[1]  --  "Maintaining order [in Kiev] is primarily being done by C14 and the Right Sector," he said, referring to the group he has joined (C14) and the paramilitary Ukrainian nationalist party Pravyi Sektor, which played an important role in the violence that overthrew Ukraine's government....

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ANALYSIS: 'Ingredients for a repeat of 9/11 are slipping into place' (Patrick Cockburn)

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In the final piece in a five-part series published on Thursday in the London Independent, Patrick Cockburn reviewed the propagators of Salafist jihadist ideology, whose work is often well-financed and marked by a surprising degree of "professionalism."[1]  --  The main target is Shia Islam, but "violent hostility to Shia does not mean that the Salafi-jihadists approve of Sunni or Western states," Cockburn said.  --  "If there is another Palestinian uprising, or some such event creating pan-Islamic anger, then the West is likely to be targeted once again.  --  All the ingredients for a repeat of 9/11 are slipping into place, the difference today being that al-Qa’ida-type organizations are now far more powerful." ...

Last Updated on Monday, 24 March 2014 07:16 Read more...
 

ANALYSIS: Why the Syrian uprising failed to achieve a non-sectarian democratic state

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What went wrong when the Arab Spring broke out in Syria?  --  In Part 4 of a series of five articles in the London Independent on recent developments in the Mideast, Patrick Cockburn on Thursday noted that "All revolutions have notoriously devoured their earliest and most humane advocates, but few have done so with the speed and ferocity of Syria’s."[1]  --  Cockburn spread the blame:  "The degenerate state of the Syrian revolution stems from the country’s deep political, religious, and economic divisions before 2011 and the way in which these have since been exploited and exacerbated by foreign intervention."  --  As a result, today "Syrians have to choose between a violent dictatorship in which power is monopolized by the presidency and brutish security services, and an opposition that shoots children in the face for minor blasphemy and sends pictures of decapitated soldiers to their parents."  --  COMMENT:  This article is more impressionistic than its predecessors in the series and does not deliver on its title's promise to explain just how "Syria's secular uprising has been hijacked by jihadists."  --  But the involvement of "Arab and Western intelligence agencies" appears to have been just as important as the infiltration of jihadist groups....

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ANALYSIS: 'About half of Iraq is not really controlled by the government'

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Strange to say, Western powers failed to see, when they decided to commit themselves to the overthrow of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, that "by supporting the armed uprising in Syria, they would inevitably destabilize Iraq and provoke a new round of its sectarian civil war," Patrick Cockburn remarked Tuesday in Part III of his five-part overview in the London Independent of recent developments in the catastrophic failure that is known as the War on Terror.[1]  --  Cockburn reports that the success of ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, formerly known as al-Qa’ida in Iraq) among Sunnis in western Iraq is much greater than has been reported, and that "Its grip over Iraq’s third-largest city, Mosul, is probably more important than its position in Fallujah but gets little publicity because of an assassination campaign against local media appears to be aimed at concealing this."  --  In Mosul, the Iraqi government's most important representatives "are being killed off, forced to flee, or to co-operate with ISIS.  --  Minorities  such as the Yazidis and Christians are being targeted to drive them out of Mosul.  --  ISIS has enough authority to levy taxes on everybody from people selling food on the street to construction and mobile-phone companies."  --  "[T]here is no sign of an effective government counter-attack." ...

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ANALYSIS: Hysterical Saudi fear of Shia expansionism fuels jihadist support (Patrick Cockburn)

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In Part 2 of a series reviewing the failure of the war on terror, on Monday veteran Mideast correspondent Patrick Cockburn of the London Independent attributed to the quasi-hysterical "[s]ectarian hostility to the Shia as heretics" the willingness of Salafists, and especially of Saudi élites, to act as the principal financiers of the al-Qaeda movement.[1]  --  “The beliefs of Wahhabism, the puritanical literalist Saudi version of Islam, are not much different from those of al-Qa’ida or other Salafi jihadist groups in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, and Libya,” he noted.  --  BACKGROUND:  Saudi Arabia, the only country in the world that bans women from driving, is an absolute monarchy that says the Coran (along with the Sunnah) is its constitution.   --  Saudi Arabia has no political parties, no elections, and no courts without a system of judicial precedent (Saudi judges apply Sharia law and are empowered to disregard previous judgments and apply personal interpretations).  --  The Saudi state sponsors Wahhabism both politically and financially.  --  Religious freedom is non-existent.  --  Saudi Arabia is one of the few countries to refuse the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights.  --  Yet the U.S. government celebrates “the longstanding, steadfast relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia, and . . . the strong defense partnership that anchors the two nations,” in the words of Pentagon Press Secretary George Little on Apr. 23, 2013.  --  It seems fair to say that there would be no al-Qaeda movement if this “longstanding, steadfast relationship” did not exist....

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ANALYSIS: Why the 'war on terror' has demonstrably failed

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In early 2014, al-Qaeda-style groups are "the most powerful military force in an area the size of Britain," veteran Mideast correspondent Patrick Cockburn wrote a week ago in the first of a series of five articles in the London Independent on the global catastrophe history will know as the "War on Terror."  --  Al-Qaeda (or as Cockburn, a competent Arabist, prefers more accurately to transliterate the term, "al-Qa'ida,") is "stronger than ever now," despite (or rather because of) the campaigns of the United States and its allies.  --  The war has "demonstrably failed," and the reason it has failed, according to Cockburn, it that in its campaigns priority has been given to geopolitical factors that are at odds with fighting terrorism.  --  First and foremost, according to Cockburn, if terrorism were really the issue, the U.S. would have focused on Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, the two nations that "fostered jihadism as a creed and a movement."  --  But the U.S. "did not do so because they were important American allies whom it did not want to offend."  --  Moreover, by presenting al-Qaeda as "having a command-and-control structure like a mini-Pentagon, or the Mafia in America as shown in the Godfather films," it falsified its nature, presenting a "fantasy picture" to the public in order to mobilize opinion.  --  For in fact, al-Qaeda is "an idea rather than an organization." ...

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Meeting schedule

United for Peace of Pierce County meets 7:00-8:30 p.m. on the first and third Thursdays of every month at First United Methodist Church in Tacoma (621 Tacoma Avenue South).

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