Barack Obama incites the world to declare war on North Korea

By LUIS MIRANDA | THE REAL AGENDA | FEBRUARY 13, 2013

If anyone doubts whether the nuclear test carried out by North Korea is real, simply look at the reaction from Western nuclear powers, such as the United States and several European nations.

The nuclear test that North Korea conducted on Tuesday resulted in many reactions in the international community, which showed its concern by the new challenge of the Pyongyang regime.

U.S. President Barack Obama said on Tuesday that the “provocation” carried out by North Korea needed an immediate international response that was “fast” and “credible” to the North Korean regime. “The United States will continue to take the necessary steps to defend itself and its allies,” he said in a statement. Although this is clear recognition that the test was real and that the United States is worried about it, it is difficult to remember such a weak answer from a U.S. president. Besides inciting conflict, Obama has no idea how to deal with North Korea, Iran or any other non-aligned nation.

China, Pyongyang’s historical ally, expressed its “firm opposition” to the nuclear test. Last week, Beijing warned the regime of Kim Jong-un, through official media, that if it carried out a new test the country would “pay the consequences”, and even managed to utter the taboo word “break” and mentioned a possible reduction in aid to North Korea. The survival of the North Korean nation depends largely on the support of the Asian giant, especially in terms of energy. Strangely enough, the United States and China are commercial partners and many of the goods the U.S. sells to China, end up in the hands of the North Koreans.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, condemned the nuclear test describing it as “very unfortunate”. The defense minister said that Tokyo will review the sanctions imposed on Pyongyang. Besides punitive measures promoted by the UN, Japan, which has no diplomatic relations with North Korea since making its first nuclear test in 2006, applies a full trade embargo on the regime of Kim Jong-un, denying visas to North Koreans and limited financial transfers between his country and its Asian neighbor. As readers may have already noticed, the supposed opposition to North Korea’s tests and the so-called sanctions are simply window-dressing practices.

The United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon has said it is a “clear and serious violation of Security Council resolutions.” He also said he was confident that its 15 members would take “appropriate action” in the meeting convened for Tuesday. But the U.N. has done nothing about the 2053 nuclear explosions conducted by the United States or the continuous leakage of nuclear radiation in Fukushima. Neither does the U.N. say anything about the tons of nuclear waste dumped in Italy or the thousands of tons of electronic waste dumped in Africa.

Russia has also condemned “firmly” the nuclear test, saying it is a violation of U.N. resolutions. “We condemn these actions and, along with the launch of a ballistic missile performed earlier (December), we believe they are in violation of Security Council resolutions,” said a source at the Ministry of Foreign News Agency Interfax. This is the type of hypocrisy that turns any negotiation sour. It is a violation of U.N. resolutions when North Korea does it, but not when China, Russia and the United States do it.

The British Foreign Minister, William Hague, said that the development of nuclear weapons by North Korea “is a threat to regional and international security” and that “it hinders the prospects for lasting peace on the Korean peninsula “.

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Millions of Syrians Nationwide rally against the Arab League

Xinghua
November 13, 2011

Millions of Syrians on Sunday thronged main squares and streets in various Syrian cities to lend support to their embattled President Bashar al-Assad and to express discontent with the Arab League (AL) decision to suspend Syria’s membership.

In the capital of Damascus, hundreds of thousands flocked the Saba Bahrat Square, either came on foot or using public transport such as by bus. It looks as if the whole city was out on the streets on Sunday.

Some people waved Syrian flags along with Assad’s posters and shouted slogans such as “God, Syria and Bashar only,” while others carried banners, some of which read “down with the Hebrew League,” referring to the AL, accusing it of acting out a Western and Israeli conspiracy against Syria.

The nationwide raucous rallies came a day after the AL decided to suspend the activities of Syrian delegation in the pan-Arab body.

The 22-nation AL convened an emergency meeting in Egypt’s capital of Cairo Saturday to weigh the possibility of undertaking stiffer measures against Syrian government given its alleged breach of a plan reached between the two sides lately to bring the months-old crisis in Syria to a close.

The AL plan calls for stopping violence and withdrawing military vehicles from Syrian streets in addition to releasing detainees and holding a dialogue between Syrian authorities and the opposition at the AL headquarters.

Under the latest AL resolution, activities of the Syrian delegation in the pan-Arab body would be suspended, effective Wednesday. The AL also called on its members to withdraw their ambassadors in Syria and urged sanctions on Damascus until a peace plan it brokered is implemented.

The international community along with some opposition activists welcomed the resolution. United Nations (UN) chief Ban Ki-moon on Saturday voiced support to the resolution, urging Damascus to heed the AL call to “stop violence” and “implement the work plan fully and speedily.”

U.S. President Barack Obama praised the League’s move, and France said it was time for international bodies to take more action against Syrian government.

An hour after the League’s decision, angry rallies swept across Syria to express resentment with the AL stance.

The rowdy crowds pelted the Qatari embassy in Damascus with eggs and tomatoes and shouted obscenities at Qatari Prime Minister Hamad bin Jasim al-Thani, who headed the AL emergency session on Saturday.

Protestors reportedly stormed the Saudi embassy, which is located near the Qatari one, to bring down the Saudi flag.

Meanwhile, Syria’s official media blasted the AL decision and confirmed that the country is still capable of encountering the challenges and even of emerging stronger.

The Arab decision was also slammed by some opposition figures inside Syria, such as Mohammad Habash, a parliamentarian who heads the Third Way movement that gathers around 40 politicians and intellectuals. Habash said in a statement that the AL has ” deviated from its charter and internal system” by suspending Syria ‘s membership.

Syrian Ambassador to the AL Yusuf Ahmad said on Saturday that the AL’s latest decision came in contravention to the AL principles, accusing the AL of acting out a foreign agenda by applying such decision.

The Syrian opposition abroad has recently called on the AL to suspend Syria’s membership and to back sanctions against those responsible for human rights abuses in the country.

The Responsibility to Protect – The Cases of Libya and Ivory Coast

By Prof. Marjorie Cohn
May 16, 2011

The United States, France and Britain invaded Libya with cruise missiles, stealth bombers, fighter jets and attack jets. Although NATO has taken over the military operation, U.S. President Barack Obama has been bombing Libya with Hellfire missiles from unmanned Predator drones. The number of civilians these foreign forces have killed remains unknown. This military campaign was ostensibly launched to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 in order to protect civilians in Libya.

Murdering in the name of Protecting is a not so new Ideology.

In addition, the United Nations and France have been bombing the Ivory Coast to protect civilians against violence by Laurent Gbagbo, who refuses to cede power to the newly elected president after a disputed election. UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon insists that the United Nations is “not a party to the conflict.” France, former colonial ruler of Ivory Coast, has over 1,500 troops stationed there. Ivory Coast is the world’s second largest coffee grower and biggest producer of cocoa. The bombing of Ivory Coast is being undertaken to enforce Security Council Resolution 1975 to protect civilians there.

The UN Charter does not permit the use of military force for humanitarian interventions. The military invasions of Libya and Ivory Coast have been justified by reference to the Responsibility to Protect doctrine.

The Responsibility to Protect is contained in the General Assembly’s Outcome Document of the 2005 World Summit. It is not enshrined in an international treaty nor has it ripened into a norm of customary international law. Paragraph 138 of that document says each individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity. Paragraph 139 adds that the international community, through the United Nations, also has “the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help protect populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity.”

Chapter VI of the Charter requires parties to a dispute likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security to “first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.” Chapter VIII governs “regional arrangements,” such as NATO, the Arab League, and the African Union. The chapter specifies that regional arrangements “shall make every effort to achieve pacific settlement of local disputes through such regional arrangements . . .”

It is only when peaceful means have been tried and proved inadequate that the Security Council can authorize action under Chapter VII of the Charter. That action includes boycotts, embargoes, severance of diplomatic relations, and even blockades or operations by air, sea or land.

The Responsibility to Protect doctrine grew out of frustration with the failure to take action to prevent the genocide in Rwanda, where a few hundred troops could have saved myriad lives. But the doctrine was not implemented to stop Israel from bombing Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009, which resulted in a loss of 1,400 Palestinians, mostly civilians.

Security Council Resolution 1973 begins with the call for “the immediate establishment of a ceasefire.” It reiterates “the responsibility of the Libyan authorities to protect the Libyan population” and reaffirms that “parties to armed conflicts bear the primary responsibility to take all feasible steps to ensure the protection of civilians. The resolution authorizes UN Member States “to take all necessary measures . . . to protect civilians and civilian populated areas” of Libya.

But instead of pursuing an immediate ceasefire, immediate military action was taken instead. The military force exceeds the bounds of the “all necessary measures” authorization. “All necessary measures” should first have been peaceful measures to settle the conflict. Yet peaceful means were not exhausted before the military invasion began. A high level international team – consisting of representatives from the Arab League, the African Union, and the UN Secretary General – should have been dispatched to Tripoli to attempt to negotiate a real cease-fire, and set up a mechanism for elections and for protecting civilians. Moreover, after the passage of the resolution, Libya immediately offered to accept international monitors and Qadhafi offered to step down and leave Libya. These offers were immediately rejected by the opposition.

Security Council Resolution 1975 regarding Ivory Coast is similar to resolution 1973 regarding Libya. The former authorizes the use of “all necessary means to . . . protect civilians under imminent threat of physical violence” in Ivory Coast. It reaffirms “the primary responsibility of each State to protect civilians” and reiterates that “parties to armed conflicts bear the primary responsibility to take all feasible steps to ensure the protection of civilians.”

The UN Charter commands that all Members settle their international disputes by peaceful means, to maintain international peace, security, and justice. Members must also refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state or in any manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United
Nations.

Only when a State acts in self-defense, in response to an armed attack by one country against another, can it militarily attack another State under the UN Charter. The need for self-defense must be overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation. Neither Libya nor Ivory Coast had attacked another country. The United States, France and Britain in Libya, and France and the UN in Ivory Coast, are not acting in self-defense. Humanitarian concerns do not constitute self-defense.

There is a double standard in the use of military force to protect civilians. Obama has not attacked Bahrain where lethal force is being used to quell anti-government protests because that is where the U.S. Fifth Fleet is stationed. In fact, the Asia Times reported that before the invasion of Libya, the United States made a deal with Saudi Arabia, whereby the Saudis would invade Bahrain to help put down the anti-democracy protestors and Saudi Arabia would enlist the support of the Arab League for a no-fly-zone over Libya.

The League’s support for a no-fly-zone effectively neutralized opposition from Russia and China to Security Council Resolution 1973. Moreover, the military action by the U.S., France and Britain has gone far beyond a no-fly-zone. Indeed, Obama, France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy and Britain’s David Cameron penned an op-ed in the International Herald Tribune that said the NATO force will fight in Libya until President Muammar Qaddafi is gone, even though the Resolution does not sanction forcible regime change.

When Obama defended his military actions in Libya, he said “Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different.” Two weeks later, the Arab League asked the Security Council to consider imposing a no-fly-zone over the Gaza Strip in order to protect civilians from Israeli air strikes. But the United States, an uncritical ally of Israel, will never allow the passage of such a resolution, regardless of the number of Palestinian civilians Israel kills. This is a double standard.

The military actions in Libya and Ivory Coast set a dangerous precedent of attacking countries where the leadership does not favor the pro-U.S. or pro-European Union countries. What will prevent the United States from stage-managing some protests, magnifying them in the corporate media as mass actions, and then bombing or attacking Venezuela, Cuba, Iran, or North Korea? Recall that during the Bush administration, Washington leveled baseless allegations to justify an illegal invasion of Iraq.

During a discussion of the Responsibility to Protect in the General Assembly on July 23, 2009, the Cuban government raised some provocative questions that should give those who support this notion pause: “Who is to decide if there is an urgent need for an intervention in a given State, according to what criteria, in what framework, and on the basis of what conditions? Who decides it is evident the authorities of a State do not protect their people, and how is it decided? Who determines peaceful means are not adequate in a certain situation, and on what criteria? Do small States have also the right and the actual prospect of interfering in the affairs of larger States? Would any developed country allow, either in principle or in practice, humanitarian intervention in its own territory? How and where do we draw the line between an intervention under the Responsibility to Protect and an intervention for political or strategic purposes, and when do political considerations prevail over humanitarian concerns?”

The Responsibility to Protect doctrine violates the basic premise of the UN Charter. Last year, the General Assembly’s Fifth Committee declined funding for the office of the new Special Advisor on Responsibility to Protect. Some member States argued that the Responsibility to Protect had not been agreed to as a norm at the World Summit. The debate will continue. But for many States, this is a slippery slope that should be viewed with extreme caution.

Marjorie Cohn is the immediate past president of the National Lawyers Guild and a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, where she teaches criminal law and procedure, evidence, and international human rights law. She lectures throughout the world on human rights and US foreign policy. http://www.marjoriecohn.com

Israel Commandos Murder 16 people in attack to Aid Ship

Telegraph

Fighting broke out between the activists and the masked Israeli troops, who rappelled on to deck from helicopters before dawn.

A spokeswoman for the flotilla, Greta Berlin, said she had been told ten people had been killed and dozens wounded, accusing Israeli troops of indiscriminately shooting at “unarmed civilians”. But an Israeli radio station said that between 14 and 16 were dead in a continuing operation.

“How could the Israeli military attack civilians like this?” Ms Berlin said. “Do they think that because they can attack Palestinians indiscriminately they can attack anyone?

“We have two other boats. This is not going to stop us.”

But an Israeli military spokeswoman said that there had been a planned and organised attempt to “lynch” the boarding party. She said the activists were armed with knives and guns.

The Israeli government’s handling of the confrontation was under intense international pressure even as it continued. The Israeli ambassador to Turkey, the base of one of the human rights organisation which organised the flotilla, was summoned by the foreign ministry in Anakara, as the Israeli consulate in Istanbul came under attack.

One Israeli minister issued immediate words of regret. “The images are certainly not pleasant. I can only voice regret at all the fatalities,” Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, the trade and industry minister, told army radio.

But he added that the commandoes had been attacked with batons and activists had sought to take their weapons off them.

Israeli military sources said four of its men had been injured, one stabbed, and that they had been shot at.

“The flotilla’s participants were not innocent and used violence against the soldiers. They were waiting for the forces’ arrival,” they were quoted by a news website as saying.

The flotilla had set sail on Sunday from northern, or Turkish, Cyprus. Six boats were led by the Mavi Marmara, which carried 600 activists from around the world, including Mairead Corrigan Maguire, the Northern Ireland peace protester who won a Nobel Prize in 1976.

It came under almost immediate monitoring from Israeli drones and the navy, with two vessels flanking it in international waters. The flotilla, which had been warned that it would not be allowed to reach Gaza, attempted to slow and change course, hoping to prevent a confrontation until daylight, when the Israeli military action could be better filmed.

But in the early hours of this morning local time commandoes boarded from helicopters.

The activists were not carrying guns, but television footage shown by al-Jazeera and Turkish television channels show hand-to-hand fighting, with activists wearing life-jackets striking commandoes with sticks.

The Israeli army said its troops were assaulted with axes and knives.

The television footage did not show firing but shots could be heard in the background. One man was shown lying unconscious on the deck, while another man was helped away.

A woman wearing hijab, the Muslim headscarf, was seen carrying a stretcher covered in blood.

The al-Jazeera broadcast stopped with a voice shouting in Hebrew: “Everyone shut up”.

Israel imposed its blockade on Gaza after the strip was taken over by the militant group Hamas in 2007. It has allowed some food and medical supplies through, but has prevented large-scale rebuilding following the bombardment and invasion of 2008-9.

The flotilla is the latest in a series of attempts by activists to break through the blockade. The boats were carrying food and building supplies.

Activists said at least two of the other boats, one Greek and one Turkish, had been boarded from Israeli naval vessels. Activists said two of the other boats in the flotilla were American-flagged.

The confrontation took place in international waters 80 miles off the Gaza coast.

It was attacked by the head of the Hamas government in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh.

“We call on the Secretary-General of the U.N., Ban Ki-moon, to shoulder his responsibilities to protect the safety of the solidarity groups who were on board these ships and to secure their way to Gaza,” he said.

Turkish television meanwhile showed hundreds of protesters trying to storm the Israeli consulate in Istanbul. The incident will be particularly damaging for Israel’s relations with what had been seen as its closest ally in the Muslim world.

“By targeting civilians, Israel has once again shown its disregard for human life and peaceful initiatives,” a Turkish foreign ministry statement said. “We strongly condemn these inhumane practices of Israel.

“This deplorable incident, which took place in open seas and constitutes a fragrant breach of international law, may lead to irreparable consequences in our bilateral relations.”

Israel’s closest ally Washington described the loss of life as a “tragedy” on the eve of talks between President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“The United States deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries sustained and is currently working to understand the circumstances surrounding this tragedy,” a White House spokesman said.

Watch the Video of the Attack here