Feb 022020
 

New Zealand’s Hidden Role at the Biggest US Bombing Base in the Middle East


January 28th, 2020
By Darius Shahtahmasebi

Last month the coalition government declared the end of New Zealand Defence Force deployments in Iraq. The announcement was silent, however, about the future of another deployment of New Zealand personnel, to a U.S. military base in the Middle East that has attracted controversy thanks to its role at the center of a large proportion of U.S. bombing missions in the region.

The base is called the Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) and it is located at the Al-Udeid airbase in the small Persian Gulf nation of Qatar. Bombing missions that have been controlled from the base – where aircraft take off and land every 10 minutes, 24 hours a day – are implicated in large numbers of civilian casualties.

A recent issue of Air Force News revealed that a senior air force officer, Group Captain Shaun Sexton, served a six-month posting at the Qatar base; placing New Zealanders at the heart of the main targeting and bombing center in that region. The presence of New Zealand staff at the base has been kept largely quiet by the New Zealand military before now.

Last month, the New Zealand government delivered its decision to withdraw NZDF personnel from Iraq by next year. But what of Qatar? A spokesperson for NZDF told the Spinoff that “NZDF personnel based in the Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) operate under a separate mandate to the NZDF personnel in Iraq. This mandate has been approved until 2020.” Whether they intend to maintain the postings to the Qatar base after 2020 remains unclear.

Read rest of article here

Jan 082020
 

Keith Locke: NZ’s response to Soleimani assassination is shamefully timid

New Zealand’s response to the Soleimani assassination is shamefully timid

Opinion – How can New Zealand claim to have an independent foreign policy when it won’t even criticise America’s assassination of Qasem Soleimani, a top Iranian leader? The furthest foreign minister Winston

Peters went was to express “strong concern” at the “heightening tensions in Iraq and the region”.

Peters’ statement could also be read as a justification for the drone killing when he acknowledged “strong US concerns about Iran” and said “the US took action on the basis of information they had”.

In fact, the assassination took place against a background of falsehoods, reminding us of the lies previously peddled to justify the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. President Donald Trump even blamed Soleimani for “terror plots as far away as New Delhi and London” while Vice President Mike Pence fancifully claimed Soleimani “assisted in the clandestine travel” of those involved in the 11 September, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center.

All we have from the United States are vague assertions that Soleimani was planning imminent attacks on US interests. More credible is the assertion of the Iraqi prime minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi that Soleimani was in Bagdad at the invitation of the Iraqi government – for negotiations. His visit was apparently not a secret and he was at Baghdad airport in the presence of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a pro-government Iraqi militia leader, who was also assassinated.

Considering New Zealand has soldiers in Iraq, you would think Peters might have shown some interest in what his counterparts in the Iraqi Foreign Ministry thought about the assassination. They said it was “a flagrant breach of Iraq’s sovereignty and of all international laws and norms that regulate relations between countries and prohibit the use of their lands to carry out attacks on neighbouring countries”.

The Iraqi Parliament followed this up with a resolution calling for an end to “the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil”, a resolution targeted particularly at the US military presence.

If he respects Iraqi sovereignty, our foreign minister should set in motion the quick withdrawal of New Zealand soldiers from Iraq. Or will he be supporting Donald Trump, who says that if US troops are forced out he’ll slap sanctions on Iraq, which will “make the Iranian sanctions somewhat tame”?

Add to that Trump’s repeated threat to destroy Iranian cultural sites, which is a clear war crime. How can New Zealand withhold criticism of such madness?

Read full article here

Jun 062019
 

t’s been 16 years since the start of the Iraq War, and New Zealand still has troops in Iraq.

It’s far past time to end New Zealand’s military occupation in Iraq. Deployment is scheduled to end on June 30, but we’re not confident that it will. NZ has extended deployment twice already, and is currently talking about extending it again. Enough is enough.

Send an email to your elected officials to urge NZ to get troops out now!

Simply put, the invasion of Iraq has been catastrophic. Iraq lost 1.4 million lives, 5% of its population. On top of that, the war injured 4.2 million people and created 4.5 million refugees. The U.S. military and its allies have deliberately targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure, including water supplies, hospitals, and power plants. Birth defects, cancer, and infant mortality rates have skyrocketed.

New Zealand has a responsibility to maintain its independent non-aligned status and be a leader for peace. NZ must not prop up U.S. war-making, and that starts by withdrawing troops from Iraq. Click here to send a message to your elected officials to demand an end to NZ’s military role in Iraq!
For a world beyond war,

Greta Zarro
Organizing Director
World BEYOND War
greta@worldbeyondwar.org

Nov 162018
 

The Cost Of Post 9/11 Wars Hit $5.9 Trillion
By Claudia Grisales

November 15, 2018 “Information Clearing House” – WASHINGTON — The price for America’s longest wars has surpassed more than $5.9 trillion and at least 480,000 lost lives, according to a new study released by the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University.

The figures highlight the toll of U.S. war operations around the world since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and the study projects the numbers could rise.

“It’s important for the American people to understand the true costs of war, both the moral and monetary costs,” said Sen. Jack Reed, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, who helped introduce the report Wednesday at a meeting on Capitol Hill. “Our nation continues to finance wars and military operations through borrowing, rather than asking people to contribute to the national defense directly, and the result is a serious fiscal drag that we’re not really accounting for or factoring into deliberations about fiscal policy or military policy.”

The study’s death estimates include nearly 7,000 U.S. service members, nearly 8,000 U.S. contractors, more than 100,0000 military and police members from other countries, more than 244,000 civilians and more than 100,000 opposition fighters.

The $5.9 trillion U.S. cost includes Pentagon spending through fiscal year 2019, such as direct and indirect spending as well as future war-related costs for post-9/11 war veterans. It represents U.S. spending in the war zones of Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other locations designated as “overseas contingency operations.”

It also includes war-related spending by other agencies, such as the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security, costs of veterans care as well as debt used to pay for the wars.

“Veterans benefits and disability spending, and the cost of interest on borrowing to pay for the wars, will comprise an increasingly large share of the costs,” said Neta Crawford, a political science professor at the institute, who authored the study.

The institute’s “Costs of War” project, with 35 scholars, legal experts, human rights practitioners and physicians, began tracking the costs of the post-9/11 wars in 2011 and continues to release updated reports. The group, which does its work through Brown University, said it uses research and public data to facilitate greater transparency of the actual toll of the wars.

Even if the wars were to end by 2023, the United States is on track to spend an additional $808 billion, bringing the overall tally to at least $6.7 trillion, according to the study. That doesn’t include future interest payments on the spending.

War appropriations for Iraq and Afghanistan are funded by deficit spending and borrowing, and not new taxes or war bonds, the study notes. This adds to interest costs, it concludes.

Those interest payments could shift with the winds of the economy and other factors, with some pundits estimating those fees alone could total trillions.

“The U.S. continues to fund the wars by borrowing, so this is a conservative estimate of the consequences of funding the war as if on a credit card, in which we are only paying interest even as we continue to spend,” Crawford said.

Tracking an overall cost for the post-9/11 wars is challenging because different departments take part in the spending.

In March 2018, the Defense Department estimated it had spent $1.5 trillion in war-related appropriations, but that only includes a portion of all war spending, the study argued.

With no single number for the budgetary costs of the wars, it makes assessing costs, risks and benefits difficult, Crawford said. Because taxpayers tend to focus on direct military spending, it discounts the larger budgetary costs of the wars and underestimates its greater significance, she added.

“In sum, high costs in war and war-related spending pose a national security concern because they are unsustainable,” Crawford said. “The public would be better served by increased transparency and by the development of a comprehensive strategy to end the wars and deal with other urgent national security priorities.”

The study also tallied the number of soldiers and sailors injured in the wars. Since 2001, more than 53,700 U.S. servicemembers have been injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of those injuries, 62 percent were hurt in Iraq, while 38 percent were injured in Afghanistan.

Though the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq has been less intense than in recent years, the toll of civilians killed in Afghanistan in 2018 is on track to be one of the highest death tolls of the war, Crawford said in her study.

Most of these war deaths in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria have been caused by militants, but some of them are at the hands of the United States and its coalition partners, Crawford said.

Yet, the tally remains incomplete, and there are efforts by the United Nations to track and identify perpetrators of those deaths and injuries, she noted. Other organizations, such as the Congressional Research Service and the news media, are also attempting to track these figures.

“Indeed, we may never know the total direct death toll in these wars,” she said.

In addition, this tally does not include “indirect deaths” — people harmed as a result of long-term damage left in the war zones, such as lost access to food and water.

“This update just scratches the surface of the human consequences of 17 years of war,” Crawford said. “There are a number of areas — the number of civilians killed and injured, and the number of U.S. military and veteran suicides, for instance — where greater transparency would lead to greater accountability and could lead to better policy.”

grisales.claudia@stripes.com – Twitter: @cgrisales

BY THE NUMBERS
A Brown University study has found the human and financial costs of the post-9/11 wars continue to rise. These are some statistics highlighted in the report:

The U.S. government is conducting counterterrorism activities in 76 countries
More than 244,000 civilians have been killed as a result of the fighting
More than 480,000 have died due to direct war violence, and several times as many indirectly
The wars have created 10.1 million refugees and displaced persons
The U.S. cost for the post-9/11 wars is more than $5.9 trillion

Aug 222018
 

chelseamanning

An Evening With Chelsea Manning

Think Inc. are excited to announce the first visit to New Zealand by the American activist, politician, former US Army Solider and now court-martialled whistle-blower, Chelsea Manning.

Found guilty of espionage and theft and sentenced to 35 years in prison, Manning’s life has been nothing short of extraordinary. Set to discuss her time in prison, transgender issues, privacy, and Wikileaks, An Evening With Chelsea Manning will offer a glimpse inside the mind of one of the most controversial figures of the 21st Century.

Manning’s role in the leaking of almost 750,000 pieces of classified or non-classified but sensitive military and diplomatic documents was initially set to lead to a life in prison, before her sentence was reduced by President Barack Obama.

As a child, Manning excelled at science and computers and built her own website at the tender age of 10. She witnessed her parents share a tumultuous marriage before her mother attempted suicide. During this time, Manning was also exploring her gender identity.

Encouraged to join the Army by her father while living as an openly gay man, Manning began training in 2007. She was deployed to Iraq in 2009 where she went on to access and share an unprecedented amount of data, leading her to become one of the most significant whistle-blowers of our time. At the time, she described the data as “one of the most significant documents of our time removing the fog of war and revealing the true nature of 21st century asymmetric warfare.”

Manning, then U.S. Army intelligence analyst, was found guilty of espionage and theft and sentenced to 35 years in prison. An advocate for transparency of the American government, Manning had her sentence reduced by President Barack Obama in May 2017. Since her imprisonment, Manning has received numerous awards for her role in the leaks, and has established herself as a poster child for both whistle-blowers and transgender rights.

Named by the Foreign Press as one of 2017’s Global Thinkers “for forcing the United States to question who is a traitor and who is a hero” and blurring the line between United States hero and turncoat, it is with great excitement that we bring Chelsea Manning to New Zealand.

 

More about the speaking tour here

Jul 062016
 

The Truth About Chilcot
By Craig Murray

July 06, 2016 “Information Clearing House” – The death toll from the horrific recent Iraq bombings has risen over 250. If Blair had not been absolutely determined to attack Iraq on the basis of a knowing lie about WMD, they would be alive now, along with millions of other dead. ISIS would never have taken control of territory in Iraq and Syria. Al Qaeda would never have grown from an organisation of a few hundred to one of tens of thousands. We would not have a completely destabilised Middle East and a massive refugee crisis.

Do not expect a full truth and a full accounting from the Chilcot panel of establishment trusties today. Remember who they are.

Sir John Chilcot

Member of the Butler Inquiry which whitewashed the fabrication of evidence of Iraqi WMD. The fact is that, beyond doubt, the FCO and SIS knew there were no Iraqi WMD. In the early 1990’s I had headed the FCO Section of the Embargo Surveillance Centre, tasked with monitoring and preventing Iraqi attempts at weapons procurement. In 2002 I was on a course for newly appointed Ambassadors alongside Bill Patey, who was Head of the FCO Department dealing with Iraq. Bill is a fellow Dundee University graduate and is one of the witnesses before the Iraq Inquiry this morning. I suggested to him that the stories we were spreading about Iraqi WMD could not be true. He laughed and said “Of course not Craig, it’s bollocks”. I had too many other conversations to mention over the next few months, with FCO colleagues who knew the WMD scare to be false.

Yet Chilcot was party to a Butler Inquiry conclusion that the Iraqi WMD scare was an “Honest mistake”. That a man involved on a notorious whitewash is assuring us that this will not be one, is bullshit.

Read article here

Jun 052015
 

by Peter Drew

http://www.globalresearch.ca/author/peter-drew

The true events of 9/11 have been systematically withheld from the public and greatly distorted by the mainstream media. At the heart of this distortion and cover-up has been the BBC.
The BBC has systematically supported the cover-up of a huge amount of incontrovertable scientific and forensic evidence and eye-witness evidence which strongly contradicts the official version of events of 9/11. The result of this cover-up has been the support for the wars launched on Iraq and Afghanistan in the name of 9/11, resulting in more than one million deaths of innocent civilians so far, as well as the ongoing supposed global war on terror at the cost of trillions of dollars to tax payers.
This two part documentary by Press TV exposes the BBC for exactly what role it has played in this process, which is political propaganda, funded by the British public, to support the official version of events of 9/11 and the subsequent global war on terror.
Produced by Ken O’keefe, a former US Marine in Iraq who quit the US military when he realised the truth about what was really happening, and who then led the human shield in Iraq in 2003.
Part 1 – BBC: UK public funding propaganda
http://www.presstv.com/Video/2015/05/18/411628/BBC-public-funds-pro…
Part 2 – BBC covering truth on 9/11
http://presstv.ir/Detail/2015/06/03/414147/BBC-911-World-Trade-Cent…
– See more at: http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-bbcs-cover-up-of-the-truth-on-911/5453498#sthash.Stfoy17H.dpuf