The Open Dimension

Commentary on social issues; politics; religion and spirituality

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Location: Laguna Hills, California, United States

I am a semi-retired psychotherapist/psychiatric social worker and certified hypnotherapist. Originally a practicing attorney, I changed careers during the 1980's. My interests include history, constitutional law, Hindustani classical music, yoga, meditation and spirituality.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Why The Islamic State Is Not Really Islamic

Featured photo - Why The Islamic State Is Not Really Islamic
Some 120 Muslim religious scholars this week published an open letter refuting the Islamic State’s claim to be a religious political movement, joining a series of high-profile condemnations of the extremist group by Islamic religious and political leaders.

The letter, signed by current and former grand muftis of Egypt, the former grand mufti of Bosnia, and the Nigerian Sultan of Sokoto, along with many other prominent Muslim leaders from around the world, offered a thorough, 24-point condemnation of the Islamic State’s behavior. But it still left the question of how a group that calls itself the “Islamic State” and uses religious scripture to justify its actions can possibly be described as not Islamic.

The answer is complex, but boils down to the fact that while the Islamic State is superficially and opportunistically Islamic, it owes at least as much to secular revolutionary ideologies as to its claimed religion, and borrows heavily from Western systems of organization and pop culture as well.

How ISIS Actually Works

In their “Open Letter to Baghdadi” the scholars – who hail from the Middle East, South Asia, Europe, Africa as well as North America – provide their own critical examination of the group’s practices from a purely theological standpoint.

According to their view, the self-proclaimed Islamic State, also known as ISIS, is flagrantly un-Islamic in its behavior. ISIS’s treatment of women, religious minorities, non-combatants, as well as its employment of gratuitous violence and aggression, is found by the scholars to be fundamentally out of step with traditional Islamic belief and practice. In providing a thorough critique of the group’s behavior, the signatories note: “everything said here…reflects the opinions of the overwhelming majority of Sunni scholars over the course of Islamic history.”

This letter is only the latest in a string of ISIS condemnations by Islamic leaders and ordinary Muslims. But to casual observers, it raises the question of what the Islamic State actually is, if not a religiously grounded group earnestly trying to create a new Caliphate.

The answer starts with the fact that ISIS is at least superficially Islamic. Similar to any other belief system, Islam is not a monolith, but rather a discourse subject to interpretation. ISIS was created during the U.S. occupation of Iraq and revived by the brutality of the Assad regime. Unsurprisingly, its religious worldview is a merciless, fanatic and supremacist one.

But while their religious convictions are no doubt sincerely held, like extremists everywhere ISIS inevitably has a utilitarian view of religion which seeks to manipulate the norms of the prevailing society in order to win legitimacy for its actions. In Muslim-majority countries this means employing religious rhetoric and symbolism to help appeal to the local population. Making use of cherished political symbols like the Flag of the Prophet Muhammad and the historic Muslim Caliphate is simply one aspect of this strategy.

The group doesn’t just draw on Islam to win support. Just as ISIS makes use of concepts drawn from Islamic history, it also seeks to employ aspects of Western civilization and pop culture to attract adherents. Video game trailers, sophisticated filmography and glossy financial statements are only the most superficial part of this effort.

The very idea which ISIS embodies – a ruthless revolutionary vanguard using extreme violence to bring about a utopian society – is one drawn directly from 20th century European radical movements like Marxism-Leninism. People like Sayyid Qutb and Abul Ala Maududi who were the ideological founders of modern-day “radical Islam” were themselves hugely influenced by contemporary Western ideologies. Neither were religious scholars, but both ended up inspiring modern revolutionary movements which drew upon Islamic concepts.

ISIS’s Unlikely Antecedents

The behavior of radical groups such as ISIS therefore tends to have more in common with Mao’s Red Guards or the Khmer Rouge than it does with the Muslim empires of antiquity which they claim to be heirs to. In synthesizing aspects of both Western and Islamic civilization, the group has crafted a radical ideology which is distinctly modern despite its glorification of a pre-modern past. Recognizing this is the first step to negating the clash of civilizations narrative upon which they thrive.

In the eyes of most Muslims the Islamic State is as “Islamic” as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is “Democratic”. The Open Letter to Baghdadi is simply another example of the degree to which this violent, utopian project has been rejected by a broad consensus of Muslims around the world. From a Western perspective, it’s important to not play into ISIS’s hands by giving them the type of religious or political legitimacy they crave but otherwise do not possess.

At the end of the day Islam is what its adherents say it is, and if by and large they deem the “Islamic State” to be outside of the Islamic tradition it would be foolish and counterproductive to argue otherwise. In order to effectively fight this group, it’s important to amplify the voices of the vast majority of Muslims who are condemning them, instead of listening to those on both sides who insist that this is at heart a conflict between Islam and the West.

The Fake Terror Threat Used To Justify Bombing Syria ( by Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussain, the intercept, 9/28/2014 )

Featured photo - The Fake Terror Threat Used To Justify Bombing Syria
As the Obama Administration prepared to bomb Syria without congressional or U.N. authorization, it faced two problems. The first was the difficulty of sustaining public support for a new years-long war against ISIS, a group that clearly posed no imminent threat to the “homeland.” A second was the lack of legal justification for launching a new bombing campaign with no viable claim of self-defense or U.N. approval.

The solution to both problems was found in the wholesale concoction of a brand new terror threat that was branded “The Khorasan Group.” After spending weeks depicting ISIS as an unprecedented threat — too radical even for Al Qaeda! — administration officials suddenly began spoon-feeding their favorite media organizations and national security journalists tales of a secret group that was even scarier and more threatening than ISIS, one that posed a direct and immediate threat to the American Homeland. Seemingly out of nowhere, a new terror group was created in media lore.

The unveiling of this new group was performed in a September 13 article by the Associated Press, who cited unnamed U.S. officials to warn of this new shadowy, worse-than-ISIS terror group:
While the Islamic State group [ISIS] is getting the most attention now, another band of extremists in Syria — a mix of hardened jihadis from Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Europe — poses a more direct and imminent threat to the United States, working with Yemeni bomb-makers to target U.S. aviation, American officials say.
At the center is a cell known as the Khorasan group, a cadre of veteran al-Qaida fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan who traveled to Syria to link up with the al-Qaida affiliate there, the Nusra Front.

But the Khorasan militants did not go to Syria principally to fight the government of President Bashar Assad, U.S. officials say. Instead, they were sent by al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to recruit Europeans and Americans whose passports allow them to board a U.S.-bound airliner with less scrutiny from security officials.
AP warned Americans that “the fear is that the Khorasan militants will provide these sophisticated explosives to their Western recruits who could sneak them onto U.S.-bound flights.” It explained that although ISIS has received most of the attention, the Khorasan Group “is considered the more immediate threat.”

The genesis of the name was itself scary: “Khorasan refers to a province under the Islamic caliphate, or religious empire, of old that included parts of Afghanistan.” AP depicted the U.S. officials who were feeding them the narrative as engaging in some sort of act of brave, unauthorized truth-telling: “Many U.S. officials interviewed for this story would not be quoted by name talking about what they said was highly classified intelligence.”

On the morning of September 18, CBS News broadcast a segment that is as pure war propaganda as it gets: directly linking the soon-to-arrive U.S. bombing campaign in Syria to the need to protect Americans from being exploded in civilian jets by Khorasan. With ominous voice tones, the host narrated:
This morning we are learning of a new and growing terror threat coming out of Syria. It’s an Al Qaeda cell you probably never heard of. Nearly everything about them is classified. Bob Orr is in Washington with new information on a group some consider more dangerous than ISIS.
Orr then announced that while ISIS is “dominating headlines and terrorist propaganda,” Orr’s “sources” warn of “a more immediate threat to the U.S. Homeland.” As Orr spoke, CBS flashed alternating video showing scary Muslims in Syria and innocent westerners waiting in line at airports, as he intoned that U.S. officials have ordered “enhanced screening” for “hidden explosives.” This is all coming, Orr explained, from ”an emerging threat in Syria” where “hardened terrorists” are building “hard to detect bombs.”

The U.S. government, Orr explained, is trying to keep this all a secret; they won’t even mention the group’s name in public out of security concerns! But Orr was there to reveal the truth, as his “sources confirm the Al Qaeda cell goes by the name Khorasan.” And they’re “developing fresh plots to attack U.S. aviation.”

Later that day, Obama administration officials began publicly touting the group, when Director of National Intelligence James Clapper warned starkly: “In terms of threat to the homeland, Khorasan may pose as much of a danger as the Islamic State.” Then followed an avalanche of uncritical media reports detailing this Supreme Threat, excitingly citing anonymous officials as though they had uncovered a big secret the government was trying to conceal.

On September 20, The New York Times devoted a long article to strongly hyping the Khorasan Group. Headlined “U.S. Suspects More Direct Threats Beyond ISIS,” the article began by announcing that U.S. officials believe a different group other than ISIS “posed a more direct threat to America and Europe.” Specifically:
American officials said that the group called Khorasan had emerged in the past year as the cell in Syria that may be the most intent on hitting the United States or its installations overseas with a terror attack. The officials said that the group is led by Muhsin al-Fadhli, a senior Qaeda operative who, according to the State Department, was so close to Bin Laden that he was among a small group of people who knew about the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks before they were launched.
Again, the threat they posed reached all the way to the U.S.: “Members of the cell are said to be particularly interested in devising terror plots using concealed explosives.”

This Khorasan-attacking-Americans alarm spread quickly and explosively in the landscape of U.S. national security reporting. The Daily Beast‘s Eli Lake warned on September 23 — the day after the first U.S. bombs fell in Syria — that “American analysts had pieced together detailed information on a pending attack from an outfit that informally called itself ‘the Khorasan Group’ to use hard-to-detect explosives on American and European airliners.” He added even more ominously: “The planning from the Khorasan Group … suggests at least an aspiration to launch more-coordinated and larger attacks on the West in the style of the 9/11 attacks from 2001″ (days later, Lake, along with Josh Rogin, actually claimed that “Iran has long been harboring senior al Qaeda, al Nusra, and so-called Khorasan Group leaders as part of its complicated strategy to influence the region”).

On the day of the bombing campaign, NBC News’ Richard Engel tweeted this:

That tweet linked to an NBC Nightly News report in which anchor Brian Williams introduced Khorasan with a graphic declaring it “The New Enemy,” and Engel went on to explain that the group is “considered a threat to the U.S. because, U.S. intelligence officials say, it wants to bring down airplanes with explosives.”

Once the bombing campaign was underway, ISIS — the original theme of the attack — largely faded into the background, as Obama officials and media allies aggressively touted attacks on Khorasan leaders and the disruption of its American-targeting plots. On the first day of the bombing, The Washington Post announced that “the United States also pounded a little-known but well-resourced al-Qaeda cell that some American officials fear could pose a direct threat to the United States.” It explained:
The Pentagon said in a statement early Tuesday that the United States conducted eight strikes west of Aleppo against the cell, called the Khorasan Group, targeting its “training camps, an explosives and munitions production facility, a communications building and command and control facilities.”
The same day, CNN claimed that “among the targets of U.S. strikes across Syria early Tuesday was the Khorasan Group.” The bombing campaign in Syria was thus magically transformed into an act of pure self-defense, given that ”the group was actively plotting against a U.S. homeland target and Western targets, a senior U.S. official told CNN on Tuesday.” The bevy of anonymous sources cited by CNN had a hard time keep their stories straight:
The official said the group posed an “imminent” threat. Another U.S. official later said the threat was not imminent in the sense that there were no known targets or attacks expected in the next few weeks.
The plots were believed to be in an advanced stage, the second U.S. official said. There were indications that the militants had obtained materials and were working on new improvised explosive devices that would be hard to detect, including common hand-held electronic devices and airplane carry-on items such as toiletries.
Nonetheless, what was clear was that this group had to be bombed in Syria to save American lives, as the terrorist group even planned to conceal explosive devices in toothpaste or flammable clothing as a means to target U.S. airliners. The day following the first bombings, Attorney General Eric Holder claimed: “We hit them last night out of a concern that they were getting close to an execution date of some of the plans that we have seen.”

CNN’s supremely stenographic Pentagon reporter, Barbara Starr, went on air as videos of shiny new American fighter jets and the Syria bombing were shown and explained that this was all necessary to stop a Khorasan attack very close to being carried out against the west:
What we are hearing from a senior US official is the reason they struck Khorasan right now is they had intelligence that the group — of Al Qaeda veterans — was in the stages of planning an attack against the US homeland and/or an attack against a target in Europe, and the information indicated Khorasan was well on its way — perhaps in its final stages — of planning that attack.

All of that laid the fear-producing groundwork for President Obama to claim self-defense when he announced the bombing campaign on September 23 with this boast: “Once again, it must be clear to anyone who would plot against America and try to do Americans harm that we will not tolerate safe havens for terrorists who threaten our people.”

The very next day, a Pentagon official claimed a U.S. airstrike killed “the Khorasan leader,” and just a few days after that, U.S. media outlets celebrated what they said was the admission by jihadi social media accounts that “the leader of the al Qaeda-linked Khorasan group was killed in a U.S. air strike in Syria.”

But once it served its purpose of justifying the start of the bombing campaign in Syria, the Khorasan narrative simply evaporated as quickly as it materialized. Foreign Policy‘s Shane Harris, with two other writers, was one of the first to question whether the “threat” was anywhere near what it had been depicted to be:
But according to the top U.S. counterterrorism official, as well as Obama himself, there is “no credible information” that the militants of the Islamic State were planning to attack inside the United States. Although the group could pose a domestic terrorism threat if left unchecked, any plot it tried launching today would be “limited in scope” and “nothing like a 9/11-scale attack,” Matthew Olsen, the director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said in remarks at the Brookings Institution earlier this month. That would suggest that Khorasan doesn’t have the capability either, even if it’s working to develop it.

“Khorasan has the desire to attack, though we’re not sure their capabilities match their desire,” a senior U.S. counterterrorism official told Foreign Policy.
On September 25, The New York Times — just days after hyping the Khorasan threat to the homeland — wrote that “the group’s evolution from obscurity to infamy has been sudden.” And the paper of record began, for the first time, to note how little evidence actually existed for all those claims about the imminent threats posed to the homeland:
American officials have given differing accounts about just how close the group was to mounting an attack, and about what chance any plot had of success. One senior American official on Wednesday described the Khorasan plotting as “aspirational” and said that there did not yet seem to be a concrete plan in the works.
Literally within a matter of days, we went from “perhaps in its final stages of planning its attack” (CNN) to “plotting as ‘aspirational’” and “there did not yet seem to be a concrete plan in the works” (NYT).

Late last week, Associated Press’ Ken Dilanian — the first to unveil the new Khorasan Product in mid-September — published a new story explaining that just days after bombing “Khorasan” targets in Syria, high-ranking U.S. officials seemingly backed off all their previous claims of an “imminent” threat from the group. Headlined “U.S. Officials Offer More Nuanced Take on Khorasan Threat,” it noted that “several U.S. officials told reporters this week that the group was in the final stages of planning an attack on the West, leaving the impression that such an attack was about to happen.” But now:
Senior U.S. officials offered a more nuanced picture Thursday of the threat they believe is posed by an al-Qaida cell in Syria targeted in military strikes this week, even as they defended the decision to attack the militants.

James Comey, the FBI director, and Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, each acknowledged that the U.S. did not have precise intelligence about where or when the cell, known as the Khorasan Group, would attempt to strike a Western target. . . .
Kirby, briefing reporters at the Pentagon, said, “I don’t know that we can pin that down to a day or month or week or six months….We can have this debate about whether it was valid to hit them or not, or whether it was too soon or too late…We hit them. And I don’t think we need to throw up a dossier here to prove that these are bad dudes.”
Regarding claims that an attack was “imminent,” Comey said: “I don’t know exactly what that word means…’imminent’” — a rather consequential admission given that said imminence was used as the justification for launching military action in the first place.

Even more remarkable, it turns out the very existence of an actual “Khorasan Group” was to some degree an invention of the American government. NBC’s Engel, the day after he reported on the U.S. government’s claims about the group for Nightly News, seemed to have serious second thoughts about the group’s existence, tweeting:

Indeed, a Nexis search for the group found almost no mentions of its name prior to the September 13 AP article based on anonymous officials. There was one oblique reference to it in a July 31 CNN op-ed by Peter Bergen. The other mention was an article in the LA Times from two weeks earlier about Pakistan which mentioned the group’s name as something quite different than how it’s being used now: as “the intelligence wing of the powerful Pakistani Taliban faction led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur.” Tim Shorrock noted that the name appears in a 2011 hacked Stratfor email published by WikiLeaks, referencing a Dawn article that depicts them as a Pakistan-based group which was fighting against and “expelled by” (not “led by”) Bahadur.

There are serious questions about whether the Khorasan Group even exists in any meaningful or identifiable manner. Aki Peritz, a CIA counterterrorism official until 2009, told Time: “I’d certainly never heard of this group while working at the agency,” while Obama’s former U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford said: ”We used the term [Khorasan] inside the government, we don’t know where it came from….All I know is that they don’t call themselves that.” As The Intercept was finalizing this article, former terrorism federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy wrote in National Review that the group was a scam: “You haven’t heard of the Khorosan Group because there isn’t one. It is a name the administration came up with, calculating that Khorosan … had sufficient connection to jihadist lore that no one would call the president on it.”

What happened here is all-too-familiar. The Obama administration needed propagandistic and legal rationale for bombing yet another predominantly Muslim country. While emotions over the ISIS beheading videos were high, they were not enough to sustain a lengthy new war.

So after spending weeks promoting ISIS as Worse Than Al Qaeda™, they unveiled a new, never-before-heard-of group that was Worse Than ISIS™. Overnight, as the first bombs on Syria fell, the endlessly helpful U.S. media mindlessly circulated the script they were given: this new group was composed of “hardened terrorists,” posed an “imminent” threat to the U.S. homeland, was in the “final stages” of plots to take down U.S. civilian aircraft, and could “launch more-coordinated and larger attacks on the West in the style of the 9/11 attacks from 2001.”"

As usual, anonymity was granted to U.S. officials to make these claims. As usual, there was almost no evidence for any of this. Nonetheless, American media outlets — eager, as always, to justify American wars — spewed all of this with very little skepticism. Worse, they did it by pretending that the U.S. government was trying not to talk about all of this — too secret! — but they, as intrepid, digging journalists, managed to unearth it from their courageous “sources.” Once the damage was done, the evidence quickly emerged about what a sham this all was. But, as always with these government/media propaganda campaigns, the truth emerges only when it’s impotent.

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Segarra tapes: Why the Obama administration has not prosecuted even one crooked banker.

( ), September 27, 2014

Roger Malcolm Mitchell

Back in 2012, we published, “The end of private banking: Why the federal government should own all banks.”The title says it all.

I was reminded of that article when I read this one:
The Secret Goldman Sachs Tapes

SEPT 26, 2014, By Michael Lewis

(A) reporter, Jake Bernstein, has obtained 46 hours of tape recordings, made secretly by a Federal Reserve employee (Carmen Segarra), of conversations within the Fed, and between the Fed and Goldman Sachs.

First, a bit of background. After the 2008 financial crisis, the New York Fed commissioned a study of itself. This study, which the Fed also intended to keep to itself, set out to understand why the Fed hadn’t spotted the insane and destructive behavior inside the big banks, and stopped it before it got out of control.
(The results:) The Fed failed to regulate the banks because bank regulators were discouraged from (doing their jobs.

In early 2012, Carmen Segarra was assigned to regulate Goldman Sachs, and so was installed inside Goldman. (She found that) Fed employees would defer to the Goldman people; if one of the Goldman people said something revealing or even alarming, the other Fed employees in the meeting would either ignore or downplay it.

For instance, in one meeting a Goldman employee expressed the view that “once clients are wealthy enough certain consumer laws don’t apply to them.” After that meeting, Segarra turned to a fellow Fed regulator and said how surprised she was by that statement — to which the regulator replied, “You didn’t hear that.”
(Before you hear the tape recordings:)

1. You sort of knew that the regulators were more or less controlled by the banks. Now you know.

2. The only reason you know is that one woman, Carmen Segarra, has been brave enough to fight the system. She has paid a great price to inform us all of the obvious. She has lost her job, undermined her career, and will no doubt also endure a lifetime of lawsuits and slander.

So what are you going to do about it? At this moment the Fed is probably telling itself that, like the financial crisis, this, too, will blow over. It shouldn’t.
By now, you may be asking yourself why the Fed employees were so afraid to point out criminal wrongdoing by wealthy bankers, when that is exactly what they are paid to do.
Criminality often starts at the top — in this case, first with President Obama and then with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

There are the two reasons why criminal banksters were not sent to jail, and not only still have their jobs, but received big bonuses. Here is the more benign of the two. We’ll call it the “Holder’s good intentions error”:
How Eric Holder Failed the Economy
In 2002 testing of Enron Corp. auditor Arthur Andersen LLP caused the company to fold, and thousands of innocent people lost their jobs.

Fearing a repeat of the Arthur Andersen debacle, prosecutors were careful to leave companies standing, even as they extracted tens of billions of dollars from banks for transgressions ranging from mortgage-related fraud to laundering money for drug cartels.
Under U.S. Attorney General Holder’s leadership, prosecutors lost sight of what mattered most: holding individuals, not companies, accountable for crimes. Of 21 separate actions against major financial companies from 2009 through May 2014, only eight were accompanied by charges against individuals, and none of them were high-level executives.

Failing to pursue individuals has sent executives the message that if they commit crimes, the worst that can happen is they’ll lose their jobs and shareholders will have to pay up.
Holder was so concerned about hurting innocent people, he didn’t go after the criminals.
Stupid? Yes. Criminal? Maybe. But give the man the benefit of the doubt, and call it “misguided.”
There is, however, a more sinister reason why no banker has gone to jail. Political contributions, aka “bribery.” For example:
Bank of America’s Political Contributions
Bank of America has spend $26.3 million on political contributions since 1989.
Despite tilting heavily toward Barack Obama in 2008, it reversed itself in 2012 on the heels of heightened regulatory scrutiny.
Translation: “We bought Obama but he didn’t stay as bought as he promised. He started to look at us, so we decided to buy the other guy. Too bad he didn’t get elected.”
And then there was:
The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
> Total contributions (2012-ongoing): $4,769,994
> Donations to Democratic Party: 29%; Donations to Republican Party: 71%
> Spending on lobbying (2012-ongoing): $1,380,000
Of course, these totals only represent corporate donations, not the millions in private donations from bank executives and other employees.

So the question is, how hard are you going to chase a criminal who gives millions to your political campaign?

And that amount of bribery is why the Obama administration has not prosecuted a single bankster. The money flow simply is too great.

Large, privately owned banks are a curse. Their size, their control over vast amounts of money, combined with their profit motive, makes them ungovernable and their criminality inevitable.
And that is why the federal government should own all banks, especially large banks..

Remove the profit motive and you remove the bribery.

Meanwhile, we wait with great anticipation, for the mainstream media (owned by the rich) to pick up on the Segarra tapes.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

OpEdNews Op Eds


A Nation Without a Conscience


We are a nation without a conscience, and that friends, is a frightening thing. Far more frightening than any terrorist group could ever be to this nation. Recently I discussed with a friend, the folly of our 23 year war on Iraq. I cited the example of the US imposing the most brutal sanctions in the history of the world on an innocent people. Nothing was allowed into their country, and as the sanctions took their deadly toll the rest of the world pleaded with us to remove them, but to no avail

Children and the elderly were the hardest hit by the sanctions, as the sick and the in-firmed always suffer most in cases like this. In a 1996 famous interview on 60 Minutes, Lesley Stahl asked then Secretary of State Madeline Albright a powerful question. "We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?" Without blinking Ms. Albright answered, "Yes we think it is worth it." I gasped, and was breathless and speechless for a couple of minutes, when I heard her answer. What could be worth the lives of 650,000 children, most of whom were less than 6 years old? What could ever be worth that? I was stunned that Ms. Albright could even get the words out, but was even more shocked when the entire nation barely raised their eyes at Ms. Albright's comment

The entire nation, somewhat like Ms. Albright did not blink at the deaths of 650,000 children. There was no outrage or real anger among the American public. I was shocked yet again, and I am still stunned by the indifference of the US public, to the policy of taking 650,000 innocent children's lives and apparently have no real regret, remorse, or even anger. There was, and still is, practically no reaction to the mass killing of 650,000 children. What kind of a nation kills 650,000 completely innocent children and does not blink?

When I brought up the case of the sanctions and the deaths of 650,000 children, my friend just looked at me; no shock, no horror, nor remorse, or anger. Nothing. My friend showed the same indifference as did the US public, towards a government policy which took the lives of 650,000 innocent children. Look into the eyes of the Iraqi children in above the photo? Do you approve of killing 650,000 kids like those? Does it bother you that your government killed so many children like those in the picture? Do you have a conscience? Did you ever protest the deaths of so many innocent children?

To illustrate the folly of US policy towards Iraq, I pursued the next argument, by pointing out that this nation killed over 1.5 million Iraqis, and I dared or challenged that friend to tell me what they were killed for? There is no logical reason, for the entire war was based on lies and distorted evidence. It was a war of choice. There were no WMD in Iraq. It was all for naught. The deaths of 1.5 million were for nothing. I pressed this point to my friend and just got a blank stare. No shock at the 1.5 million, no shame, nothing. This nation did not care about the 650,000 innocent dead children, so why would they get upset about 1.5 million Iraqi deaths? We were not angry because individuals lied us into a war that caused the deaths of 1.5 million people.