Independent Media Centre Ireland

GAAW February 2012 Bulletin

category galway | anti-war / imperialism | opinion/analysis author Wednesday February 08, 2012 22:33author by Galway Alliance Against War

The regular bulletin from the Galway Alliance Against War



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‘“The opposition outside the country [the Syrian National Council] should support the opposition inside the country [Building the Syrian State] not the other way around.” Exiles have “seized control” and the opposition inside the country are “still trying to get it back”…. “Negotiations are the only way” to resolve the situation. The SNC should not reject talks with the government. “All key players must be involved…..Any solution must provide for equal treatment for minorities and recognition of national sovereignty and security. The Russian and Chinese vetoes in the UN Security Council….could have a positive effect by forcing “Syrians to solve their problems by themselves….We are trying to unite the international opposition behind a common programme which promotes negotiations, prepares for the transition and rejects external intervention….The games people are playing in Syria are growing increasingly dirty.…There is a lot of exaggeration” of casualties…particularly on the part of the exile groups…this was especially true…with reports of government attacks on Homs only hours ahead of the [UN Security] council vote.’ Dr Mona Ghannem of the Syrian-based opposition Building the Syrian State ( ) in an interview with Michael Jansen in the Irish Times 7th February 2012.

The drums of war are beating once more. NATO and its friendly dictators in Saudi Arabia and Qatar are hoping to intervene in Syria as they did in Libya. All feign concern for civilian life as a cover for an invasion. The feudal regimes in the Gulf have no interest in ordinary people, neither does NATO – over 30,000 Libyan civilians lost their lives during the British and French intervention. There has been no mention about these deaths from the Western propagandists working in the media.

The West has held a hypocritical attitude to the Assad regime. While disapproving of the anti-Zionist and pro-Hezbollah stand of Damascus, Washington had no qualms outsourcing torture victims to Syria such as the Canadian citizen Maher Arar who was kidnapped by the CIA in New York’s Kennedy airport in September 2002

(see ).

And neither has Berlin. According to the German Foreign Policy website Syria’s apparatus used torture to prepare prisoners for interrogations by German officials:

Of course the name of imperialism’s game is clear: first they hope to take Damascus then they foolishly believe they can take Tehran. The ground is already being well prepared for the war on Iran. The propaganda machine of the western media constantly churns out the Iranian “nuclear threat” lie, which is all so reminiscent of the claims made by Bush and Blair about Saddam Hussein’s WMD threat.

The truth is somewhat different. The US Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, was asked about Iran’s nuclear programme on Face the Nation on CBS on 8 January 2012, he replied: “Are they [the Iranians] trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No.” (Read David Morrison’s full article on this: )

But when did the US, their pals in NATO and Israel allow the truth to get in the way of a good war? There is growing speculation that Israel may launch an attack on Iran as early as April. (A MUST READ is an absorbing article by Craig Murray - former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan who was sacked because of his whistleblowing – concerning the “British Ambassador to Israel and the plot to attack Iran”:

A military conflict with Iran will have untold consequences for the world. And as long as Shannon remains a US military base we will be accomplices to the crimes committed by the West. That is why it is vital we continue to support the peace activities of Shannonwatch and try and make Shannon warport a national issue once more.


Once more the Guardian’s Seumas Milne goes to the heart of the matter with a commentary on Syria: Intervention in Syria will escalate not stop the killing

Russia and China blocked a bid to force regime change. But a negotiated settlement is the only way out of civil war



This was the headline in a recent article in the newsletter of Defence If you are in the business of armaments – very, very big or really, really small armaments – then this website’s mailing list is the one you got to be on.

The article appears because the European Parliament’s specialist committee on “security and defence issues” proposed a “ground-breaking resolution” that could see European Union funds being used to plug capability gaps for the continent’s militaries.

The “Lisek Resolution” – named after its key author Polish MEP Krzysztof Lisek - came in response to a detailed report put in circulation in mid-2011 concerning “the impact of the financial crisis on European militaries.” The newsletter goes on to report – without any sense of satire – that the as yet non-binding resolution is “a sign of the increased interest in the plight (sic!!) of defence spending by European Parliamentarians.”

The People’s Movement in a detailed analysis of these developments in its latest issue of People’s News argues that “The Lisbon Treaty creeps incrementally towards implementation: .

Both the “Lisek Resolution” and the Lisbon Treaty’s European Defence Agency raise the question, who has the EU to defend itself against that it needs to waste funds on armaments? The answer, of course, is nobody! ‘Defence’ is just a euphemism for war.

The “Lisek Resolution” also exposes the nonsense that increased powers for the European Parliament would mean greater democracy in the EU. It would only mean further erosion of whatever power we the Irish people have to determine our own future!



Back in the 1960s the US folksinger Tom Paxton wrote the song

“What did you learn in school today?” Here is a taste of the lyrics:

What did you learn in school today,

Dear little boy of mine?

What did you learn in school today,

Dear little boy of mine?

I learned that Washington never told a lie.

I learned that soldiers seldom die.

I learned that everybody's free.

And that's what the teacher said to me.

That's what I learned in school today.

That's what I learned in school.

( For complete lyrics: )

Flicking through a copy of Wordplay 2 – the English textbook for kids preparing for the Junior Cert in 2nd & 3rd year in Irish secondary schools– one GAAW member came across part of Obama’s inauguration speech and began to realise that Tom Paxton’s song is as relevant today in Ireland as it was back in the USA of 1963 .

The excerpt from the speech consists of the 3 paragraphs under the heading “Era of Peace”. This speech is the only one in the whole 396 pages of the English book, which underlines its apparent importance to the Dept. of Education.

The second para printed in this text book deserves special attention. It reads:

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

The Muslim world – despite all the pleasant sentiments in the first sentence – is in the same breath linked with those “who seek to sow conflict”. This is no accident. This sentence is particularly outrageous: “To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict…. know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.” As if US governments were paragons of peace.

At first glance one might think the aim of the extract was to teach the children the meaning of “irony”. Not so. Sure “irony died” when Henry Kissinger – the warmonger and former US Secretary of State – in 1973 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Clearly those in charge of the Peace Prize were not convinced “irony” was truly dead, as they dug it up and bludgeoned it again by bestowing the peace award on President Obama.

And just to prove how worthless this award is, what did Obama do in his first week in office after his momentous speech? Well, don’t expect the authors of Wordplay 2 to tell you. He sanctioned the firing of two rockets into Pakistan, which killed 22 people, 18 of them women and children. Since then he has killed many, many more people. Indeed, he appears to have suspended Bush’s policy of “extraordinary rendition” and instead stepped up targeted killings. (see: Targeted Killings – Silent Complicity: )

Those killings are carried out by US Special Forces– who regularly travel through Shannon airport - and drones, which are probably also part of the military hardware that passes through our country without inspection. (see Shannonwatch’s report: )


Obama has claimed “Our drones target active terrorists.” If so, then why since Obama took office three years ago, between 282 and 535 civilians have been credibly reported as killed including more than 60 children. Rescuers and funeral attendees of the victims are now regularly targeted.

(Glen Greenwald tells the real story about those deadly drones: )

So what we have in Wordplay 2 is the views taken by the powers-that-be in Ireland that believe the ruling ideas of the USA - and the EU for that matter – should also be ours.

We shouldn’t be surprised. Didn’t an old bearded German gentleman back in the 19th century note that: “The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force.” (Source: German Ideology by K. Marx)

Pete Seeger singing What did you learn in school today?

A newer version from Danish singer Eddie Skoller


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