U.S. Peace Activists in Venezuela: Nothing to Fear

U.S. Peace Council in Venezuela.
Send it to your TV and newspapers and all your social media. We must stop the US from doing this to Venezuela.

The Black Alliance for Peace joined activists from peace organizations based in the United States to embark as a delegation to Venezuela to uncover the truth. They are reporting to you today, the day they were supposed to fly back to the United States. While American Airlines refuses to fly to Venezuela because of so-called danger, this delegation found the embattled country pleasant and safe.

Video credit: Popular Resistance

Learn more about the U.S. intervention in Venezuela: https://blackallianceforpeace.com/newsletter/bapheadstovenezuela

Yemeni War Deaths Have Been Underestimated by 5 to 1

Civilian casualties in the three-year horror in Yemen has been vastly underestimated by mainstream organizations, reports Nicolas Davies.

Total Deaths in Yemen
Top More Than 100,000

By Nicolas J. S. Davies

An NGO responsible for reporting on war deaths in Yemen has acknowledged that it has underestimated the casualties in the three-year-old conflict by at least five to one.

Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project had originally estimated that about 10,000 people had been killed in the war in Yemen, roughly the same number reported by the World Health Organization. WHO surveys are regularly cited as estimates of war deaths in Yemen by UN agencies and the world’s media.  But ACLED now estimates the true number of people killed in Yemen is probably between 70,000 and 80,000.

ACLED’s estimates do not include the thousands of Yemenis who have died from the war’s indirect consequences, such as starvation and preventable diseases like diphtheria and cholera. UNICEF reported in December 2016 that a child was dying every 10 minutes in Yemen, and the humanitarian crisis has only worsened since then.  At that rate the total of all deaths caused directly and indirectly by the war must by now be more than one hundred thousand.

Yemen: More civilian deaths than previously reported. (Abdo Hyder/AFP/Getty Images)

Another NGO, the Yemen Data Project, revealed in September 2016 that at least a third of Saudi-led airstrikes, many of which involve U.S.-built and (until Friday U.S.-refueled warplanes) using U.S.-made bombs, were hitting hospitals, schools, markets, mosques, and other civilian targets. This has left at least half the hospitals and health facilities in Yemen damaged or destroyed, according to the Yemen Data Project, leaving them hardly able to treat the casualties of the war or serve their communities, let alone to compile meaningful figures for the WHO’s surveys.

Even comprehensive surveys of fully functioning hospitals would capture only a fraction of the violent deaths in a war-torn country like Yemen, where most of those killed in the war do not die in hospitals. And yet the UN and the world’s media have continued to cite the WHO surveys as reliable estimates of the total number of people killed in Yemen.

Dramatically Wrong

In a three-part series for Consortium News in April, I claimed that such estimates of civilian deaths in U.S. war zones were likely to be  dramatically wrong  because that is what epidemiologists have found whenever they have conducted serious mortality studies based on well-established statistical principles in war zones around the world.

Epidemiologists recently used some of the same techniques to estimate that about 3,000 people died as a result of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Studies in war-ravaged Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo have been widely cited by Western political leaders and the Western media with no hint of controversy.

Some of the same public health experts who had worked in Rwanda and Congo used the same methods to estimate how many people had been killed as a result of the U.S. and U.K.’s invasion and occupation of Iraq. In two studies they published in the Lancet medical journal in 2004 and 2006, they found that about 600,000 people had been killed in the first three years of war and occupation.

White and red flags, representing Iraqi and American deaths, in the quad of Oregon State University campus. (Wikimedia Commons)

Broad  acceptance of these results would have been politically disastrous for the U.S. and UK governments. It would also have further discredited the Western media that had supported the invasion of Iraq and were still blaming the Iraqi victims of the illegal invasion of their country for the violence and chaos of the occupation.  The British Defence Ministry’s chief scientific advisor described theLancet studies’ design as “robust” and their methods as “close to best practice,” and British officials admitted privately that they were “likely to be right.  The U.S. and UK governments nonetheless launched a concerted campaign to discredit them.

No Scientific Basis

In 2005, as American and British officials and their acolytes in the corporate media discounted his work, Les Roberts, the lead author of the 2004 study, told the UK media watchdog Media Lens, “It is odd that the logic of epidemiology embraced by the press every day regarding new drugs or health risks somehow changes when the mechanism of death is their armed forces.”

Roberts, at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health at the time of the 2004 study and now at Columbia, accurately said there was no legitimate scientific basis for the objections being raised to his work and its results. But it was not so odd that embattled political leaders would use all the tools at their disposal to try to salvage their careers and reputations—and to preserve the U.S. and UK’s future freedom of action to destroy countries that stand in their way.

By 2005, most Western journalists in Iraq were hunkered down in Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone, reporting mainly from the CENTCOM briefing room. If they ventured out, they were embedded with U.S. forces traveling by helicopter or armored convoy between fortified U.S.bases. Dahr Jamail was one of a few brave, un-embedded Americans reporting from Iraq. (He later named his book about his time there Beyond the Green Zone.) Dahr told me he thought the true number of Iraqis killed might well be even higher than the Lancet studies’ estimates and that it was certainly not much lower, as the Western propaganda machine insisted it was.

Unlike Western governments and the Western media in the  Iraq case, and UN agencies and the same Western media in Afghanistan and Yemen, ACLED does not defend its earlier, inadequate estimates of war deaths in Yemen. Instead, it is conducting a thorough review of its sources to come up with a more realistic estimate of how many people have been killed. Working back from the present, it now estimates that 56,000 people have been killed since January 2016.

Andrea Carboni of ACLED told Patrick Cockburn of The Independent newspaper in Britain that he believes ACLED’s estimate of the number killed in three and a half years of war on Yemen will be between 70,000 and 80,000 once it has finished reviewing its sources back to March 2015, when Saudi Arabia, the U.S., and their allies started the war.

But the true number of people killed in Yemen is inevitably even higher than ACLED’s revised estimate. As I explained in my Consortium News report, no such effort to count the dead by reviewing media reports, hospital records, and other “passive” sources, no matter how thoroughly, can ever fully count the dead amid the widespread violence and chaos of a country ravaged by war.

This is why epidemiologists have developed statistical techniques to produce more accurate estimates of how many people have really been killed in the world’s war zones. The world still waits for that kind of genuine accounting of the true human cost of the Saudi-U.S. war in Yemen and, indeed, of all America’s post-9/11 wars.

Original articles: https://consortiumnews.com/2018/11/12/yemeni-war-deaths-have-been-underestimated-by-5-to-1/

https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/11/09/106941/

A earlier version of this article appeared on CounterPunch.

Nicolas J.S. Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq. He also wrote the chapter on “Obama at War” in Grading the 44th President: a Report Card on Barack Obama’s First Term as a Progressive Leader.

War, what is it good for?

Op ed by Keith Brumley March 2019

 

Edwin Starr, in his 1970 hit single asked “War, what is it good for?” His catchy answer was “absolutely nothing!”

On the face of it Mr. Starr’s point seems obvious. But if so why has the United States engaged in seemingly endless war in places like Vietnam, Panama, Grenada, Afghanistan and Iraq, since Mr. Starr’s song hit the charts? Why are policy makers in Washington D.C. fomenting for more war in Venezuela and Iran? Apparently, war is good for something as the U.S. continues engaging it.

Perhaps our policy makers, being graduates of Ivy League schools, know something of war’s benefits of which mere commoners are unaware? Perhaps they believe endless war is a means to maintaining and sustaining the affluent lifestyle we enjoy in the Unites States?

One argument may be jobs. Isn’t it true the defense industry is a major source of jobs for Americans? After all, President Trump was willing to turn a blind eye to Saudi Arabia’s murdering of journalist Jamal Khashoggi to keep an arms deal in place to “save American jobs.”

While it is true that companies like Raytheon, Boeing and Lockheed Martin make many billions of dollars manufacturing and selling their weapons to the Pentagon and countries like Saudi Arabia, profits are concentrated in the hands of the 1% – the CEOs and shareholders. War is “good” for them. Not so much for the rest of us. Certainly not for people on the receiving end of those weapons, like the war-torn victims of Yemen.

Professor Heidi Garrett-Peltier, in a 2017 studyLinks to an external site. published by Brown University’s Watson Institute, found that “federal spending on domestic programs in health care, education, clean energy and infrastructure creates more jobs, dollar for dollar, than military spending.” The reality, as David Swanson of World Beyond War notes, is “spending those same dollars on peaceful industries, on education, on infrastructure, or even on tax cuts for working people would produce more jobs and in most cases better-paying jobs.”

So it turns out, while war may be “good for” CEOs and shareholders of war profiteering corporations, it’s not for the rest of us. Taxpayers would get a bigger bang for the buck if we funneled money away from the Department of Defense and instead poured that money into funding Medicare for all, free college education, repairing and replacing our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, and enacting a “Green New Deal.” It would produce more and better jobs. And best of all, no more bombs ripping through school buses in Yemen.

Okay, but surely Americans are wealthier and happier because of our bellicose belligerence, right? Surely we enjoy lower “prices at the pump” and have a greater sense of security because of our endless wars?

In a word, no.

The U.S. contains roughly 5% of the world’s population but consumes nearly 30% of the world’s natural resources. If the rest of the world consumed like us we’d need several more planets to sustain all that consumption.

Even with all this consumption, the United States did not make the top 10 list of the World Economic Forum’s “happiest countries in the worldLinks to an external site.” in 2018 (we were 18th). That honor went to Finland, followed closely by Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Oddly, these countries aren’t making war on anyone at present. Perhaps the adage is true – “Anything war can do, peace can do better.”

The U.S. did lead the field in one area – anti-depressant use. Clearly endless war isn’t making us happier or more secure.

In fact, the imperialist policies of the United States make Americans less secure. It may seem strange but most people resent invading armies, drone strikes in the middle of the night, and covert CIA operations toppling their elected governments. That tends to make enemies, not friends.  

Imagine the friends the United States would have the world over if we spent even a third of the trillion dollar (yes, with a “T”) defense related budget to provide medicine, food, shelter, roads, bridges, and education to countries we presently bomb or occupy with military bases? Rather than being viewed as the most threatening country to world peaceLinks to an external site., the United States would be the most loved.

Bloated “defense” budgets and endless war does not produce “good jobs,” does not make us wealthier or happier, and does not make us more secure.

So, back to Edwin Starr’s question – “War, what is it good for?”

He was right. “Absolutely nothing!”

 

Upcoming Peace Actions  

The Green Party Peace Action Committee (GPAX) has endorsed back-to-back anti-war demonstrations in DC. (see below.)  These actions are important and we would like to have a strong Green Party presence.  There will also be local peace actions we need to support and help organize.

I have proposed that the party members help organize Anti-War Teach-Ins:

“From Yemen to Venezuela US Aggression Must End”.

There is a great need for peace education and outreach. Most Americans have little understanding of why we are at war and are fatigued by how long these wars have been going on. The peace movement needs to reach out to new constituencies..

I propose that we encourage peace groups to organize anti-war teach-ins on college campuses and in communities in the coming months.

  1. HANDS OFF VENEZUELA! 

NATIONAL MARCH ON WASHINGTON 

SATURDAY, MARCH 16: See below.

  1. Mobilization to Oppose the North American Treaty Organization(NATO).

Saturday, March 30, 2019
Lafayette Park (across from the White House)
Washington, DC1:00 PM ET

Historically, massive protests have taken place in major cities during NATO meetings and summits. 2019 will be no exception.

Additional actions will take place on April 4, 2019 at the opening of the NATO meeting. April 4th marks the 51st anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. In a grotesque desecration of King’s dedication to peace and his fight against racism, poverty and war, military leaders will gather and celebrate NATO’s 70th anniversary at their annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

This is nothing short of a deliberate insult to King.

Since its founding, NATO has succeeded in being the world’s deadliest military alliance. As the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. once correctly asserted, the U.S. government is “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.” Hundreds of thousands of people have died in U.S./NATO-led wars in places like Iraq, Libya, Somalia and Yugoslavia.

March on the Pentagon invites you to join us in opposing NATO with UNAC. As the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”

So let’s be loud. No to NATO. U.S. and NATO wars must end.

Learn more at No2NATO2019.org.

The Steering Committee for the March 30th Anti-NATO Mobilization:

  • Bahman Azad, Coalition Against U.S. Foreign Military Bases • Ajamu Baraka, Black Alliance for Peace • Leah Bolger, World Beyond War • Alison Bodine, Mobilization Against War and Occupation • Gerry Condon, Veterans For Peace • Miguel Figueroa, Canadian Peace Congress • Sara Flounders, International Action Center • Margaret Flowers, Popular Resistance • Rev. Graylan Scott Hagler, Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ • Madelyn Hoffman, U.S. Peace Council • Tarak Kauff, Coalition Against U.S. Foreign Military Bases, Veterans For Peace • Marilyn Levin, UNAC • Joe Lombardo, UNAC • Tamara Lorincz, Canadian Voice of Women for Peace • Jeff Mackler, West Coast UNAC • Alfred L. Marder, U.S. Peace Council • Sarah Martin, Women Against Military Madness • Nancy Price, WILPF-US Section • Paul Pumphrey, Friends of the Congo • Cindy Sheehan, March on the Pentagon• Paki Wieland, CODEPINK • Phil Wilayto, Virginia Defenders • Ann Wright, Veterans For Peace, CODEPINK • Rev. Bruce Wright, Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign and Refuge Ministries • Kevin Zeese, Popular Resistance

NATIONAL MARCH ON WASHINGTON SATURDAY, MARCH 16:

HANDS OFF VENEZUELA
White House, Washington, D.C.

By Coalition of Signers, ANSWER Coalition

“People Of The U.S., I Ask For Your Support To Reject The Interference Of Donald Trump’s Government In Making My Homeland A Vietnam In Latin America. Don’t Allow It!”  President Nicolas Maduro, January 31, 2017.

On Saturday, March 16, thousands of people will march in Washington, D.C. against the Trump administration’s effort to engineer a coup in Venezuela and a new devastating war there. The aggressive policy against Venezuela repeats the ugly pattern of wars for regime change in the oil-rich countries of Iraq and Libya. National Security Advisor John Bolton is reading from the same script, declaring a “troika of tyranny” in Latin America (like the “axis of evil”) as a precursor for regime change first in Venezuela, and then Cuba and Nicaragua. Trump has always said that the “mistake” of the Middle East wars was that the U.S. didn’t “take the oil.”

It is time to stand up and with a clear voice say NO to the newest example of the “Monroe Doctrine,” which the U.S. government has used for over two centuries to repeatedly invade Latin America and Caribbean, control its politics and extract its resources.

The White House aims to overthrow the government of President Nicolás Maduro and replace him with Juan Guaidó. Guaidó is a U.S.-trained operative who was unknown to the vast majority of Venezuelans before he proclaimed himself president — at Vice President Mike Pence’s urging. Although Guaidó has the backing of Trump, the CIA, and the Republican and Democratic Party leaderships alike, huge numbers of Venezuelans have marched to reject this coup and defend their independence.

On March 16, the people of the United States will come together to say:

  • U.S. hands off Venezuela!
  • NO to the coup — the U.S. does not have the right to select other country’s leaders!
  • NO to the sanctions, oil embargo and economic war on Venezuela that aims to cause suffering for ordinary people in the country.
  • NO to intervention and war from the U..S. and their proxies in the region.

Initial signers:

  • ANSWER Coalition
  • CodePink
  • Black Alliance for Peace
  • Alliance for Global Justice
  • Popular Resistance
  • Cuba and Venezuela Solidarity Committee
  • Haïti Liberté
  • International Support Haiti Network
  • Popular Education Project
  • Abby Martin, journalist, The Empire Files
  • Dr. Jill Stein, 2016 Green Party presidential candidate
  • Dr. Jared Ball, Prof. of Communication Studies, Morgan State Univ., imixwhatilike
  • Medea Benjamin, activist and author, CodePink
  • Cindy Sheehan, activist and author, Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox
  • Berthony Dupont, Director, Haïti Liberté
  • Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, constitutional rights attorney
  • Max Blumenthal, journalist
  • Ajamu Baraka, National Organizer, Black Alliance for Peace
  • Mike Prysner, Iraq War veteran, producer, The Empire files
  • Dr. George Ciccariello-Maher, author
  • Dr. Anthony Monteiro, Saturday Free School
  • Dr. Jodi Dean, author, Prof. of Political Science, Hobart & William Smith Colleges
  • Gloria La Riva, National Coordinator, Cuba and Venezuela Solidarity Committee
  • Kim Ives, journalist
  • Anoa Changa, host, The Way With Anoa
  • Dan Cohen, journalist and filmmaker
  • Chuck Kaufman, National Co-Coordinator, Alliance for Global Justice
  • Eugene Puryear, Stop Police Terror Project
  • Jeanette Charles, International Solidarity Liaison, Venezuela Analysis
  • Lucas Koerner, Editor and Analyst, Venezuela Analysis
  • Margaret Flowers, Co-Coordinator, Popular Resistance
  • Kevin Zeese, Co-Coordinator, Popular Resistance
  • Dan Kovalik, author and human rights lawyer
  • Mahdi Bray, National Director, American Muslim Alliance (AMA)

Brian Becker, National Director, ANSWER Coalition