Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’


Noam Chomsky: Defeating ISIS Starts with the US Admitting Its Role in Creating This Fundamentalist Monster

It would take remedying the massive damage inflicted on Iraq in order to deal with the turmoil in the region.


Noam Chomsky: America paved the way for ISIS

The famed linguist and philosopher on the conflict in Iraq, Israel and the myriad dangers of U.S. foreign policy

Noam Chomsky: America paved the way for ISIS

Jacobin is happy to feature an interview with journalist David Barsamian and Professor Noam Chomsky. In it, Chomsky explains the roots of ISIS and why the United States and its allies are responsible for the group’s emergence. In particular, he argues that the 2003 invasion of Iraq provoked the sectarian divisions that have resulted in the destabilization of Iraqi society. The result was a climate where Saudi-funded radicals could thrive

The interview also touches on Israel’s most recent massacre in the Gaza Strip, putting it in the context of the vital role Israel has always played for the United States. Chomsky then turns to today’s racist scapegoating of Guatemalan immigrants, tracing the conditions that lead them to leave their homes to the Reagan administration’s brutal destruction of the country.

Finally, Chomsky shares his thoughts on the growing movement for climate justice and why he thinks it is the most urgent of our time. The full exchange will be broadcast by Alternative Radio.

There are few voices more vital to the Left than Professor Chomsky’s. We hope you read and share the interview widely.


The Middle East is engulfed in flames, from Libya to Iraq. There are new jihadi groups. The current focus is on ISIS. What about ISIS and its origins?

There’s an interesting interview that just appeared a couple of days ago with Graham Fuller, a former CIA officer, one of the leading intelligence and mainstream analysts of the Middle East. The title is “The United States Created ISIS.” This is one of the conspiracy theories, the thousands of them that go around the Middle East.

But this is another source: this is right at the heart of the US establishment. He hastens to point out that he doesn’t mean the US decided to put ISIS into existence and then funded it. His point is — and I think it’s accurate — that the US created the background out of which ISIS grew and developed. Part of it was just the standard sledgehammer approach: smash up what you don’t like.

In 2003, the US and Britain invaded Iraq, a major crime. Just this afternoon the British parliament granted the government the authority to bomb Iraq again. The invasion was devastating to Iraq. Iraq had already been virtually destroyed, first of all by the decade-long war with Iran in which, incidentally, Iraq was backed by the US, and then the decade of sanctions.

They were described as “genocidal” by the respected international diplomats who administered them, and both resigned in protest for that reason. They devastated the civilian society, they strengthened the dictator, compelled the population to rely on him for survival. That’s probably the reason he wasn’t sent on the path of a whole stream of other dictators who were overthrown.

Finally, the US just decided to attack the country in 2003. The attack is compared by many Iraqis to the Mongol invasion of a thousand years earlier. Very destructive. Hundreds of thousands of people killed, millions of refugees, millions of other displaced persons, destruction of the archeological richness and wealth of the country back to Sumeria.

One of the effects of the invasion was immediately to institute sectarian divisions. Part of the brilliance of the invasion force and its civilian director, Paul Bremer, was to separate the sects, Sunni, Shi’a, Kurd, from one another, set them at each other’s throats. Within a couple of years, there was a major, brutal sectarian conflict incited by the invasion.

You can see it if you look at Baghdad. If you take a map of Baghdad in, say, 2002, it’s a mixed city: Sunni and Shi’a are living in the same neighborhoods, they’re intermarried. In fact, sometimes they didn’t even know who was Sunni and who was Shi’a. It’s like knowing whether your friends are in one Protestant group or another Protestant group. There were differences but it was not hostile.

In fact, for a couple of years both sides were saying: there will never be Sunni-Shi’a conflicts. We’re too intermingled in the nature of our lives, where we live, and so on. By 2006 there was a raging war. That conflict spread to the whole region. By now, the whole region is being torn apart by Sunni-Shi’a conflicts.

The natural dynamics of a conflict like that is that the most extreme elements begin to take over. They had roots. Their roots are in the major US ally, Saudi Arabia. That’s been the major US ally in the region as long as the US has been seriously involved there, in fact, since the foundation of the Saudi state. It’s kind of a family dictatorship. The reason is it has a huge amount oil.

Britain, before the US, had typically preferred radical Islamism to secular nationalism. And when the US took over, it essentially took the same stand. Radical Islam is centered in Saudi Arabia. It’s the most extremist, radical Islamic state in the world. It makes Iran look like a tolerant, modern country by comparison, and, of course, the secular parts of the Arab Middle East even more so.

It’s not only directed by an extremist version of Islam, the Wahhabi Salafi version, but it’s also a missionary state. So it uses its huge oil resources to promulgate these doctrines throughout the region. It establishes schools, mosques, clerics, all over the place, from Pakistan to North Africa.

An extremist version of Saudi extremism is the doctrine that was picked up by ISIS. So it grew ideologically out of the most extremist form of Islam, the Saudi version, and the conflicts that were engendered by the US sledgehammer that smashed up Iraq and has now spread everywhere. That’s what Fuller means.

Saudi Arabia not only provides the ideological core that led to the ISIS radical extremism, but it also funds them. Not the Saudi government, but wealthy Saudis, wealthy Kuwaitis, and others provide the funding and the ideological support for these jihadi groups that are springing up all over the place. This attack on the region by the US and Britain is the source, where this thing originates. That’s what Fuller meant by saying the United States created ISIS.

You can be pretty confident that as conflicts develop, they will become more extremist. The most brutal, harshest groups will take over. That’s what happens when violence becomes the means of interaction. It’s almost automatic. That’s true in neighborhoods, it’s true in international affairs. The dynamics are perfectly evident. That’s what’s happening. That’s where ISIS comes from. If they manage to destroy ISIS, they will have something more extreme on their hands.

And the media are obedient. In Obama’s September 10 speech, he cited two countries as success stories of the US counterinsurgency strategy. What were the two countries? Somalia and Yemen. Jaws should have been dropping all over the place, but there was virtual silence in the commentary the next day.

The Somalia case is particularly horrendous. Yemen is bad enough. Somalia is an extremely poor country. I won’t run through the whole history. But one of the great achievements, one of the great boasts of the Bush administration counterterror policy was that they had succeeded in shutting down a charity, the Barakat charity, which was fueling terrorism in Somalia. Big excitement in the press. That’s a real achievement.

A couple of months later the facts started leaking out. The charity had absolutely nothing to do with terrorism in Somalia. What it had to do with was banking, commerce, relief, hospitals. It was sort of keeping the deeply impoverished and battered Somali economy alive. By shutting it down, the Bush administration had ended this. That was the contribution to counterinsurgency. That got a few lines. You can read it in books on international finance. That’s what’s being done to Somalia.

There was a moment when the so-called Islamic courts, they were called, an Islamic organization, had achieved a kind of a measure of peace in Somalia. Not a pretty regime, but at least it was peaceful and people were more or less accepting it. The US wouldn’t tolerate it, and it supported an Ethiopian invasion to destroy it and turn the place back into horrible turmoil. That’s the great achievement.

Yemen is a horror story of its own.

Going back to National Public Radio andMorning Edition, the host, David Greene, was doing an interview with a reporter based in Gaza, and he prefaced his interview with this comment: “Both sides have suffered tremendous damage.” So I thought to myself, does this mean Haifa and Tel Aviv were reduced to rubble, as Gaza was? Do you remember the Jimmy Carter comment about Vietnam?

Not only do I remember it, I think I was the first person to comment on it, and am probably to date practically the only person to comment on it. Carter, the human rights advocate, he was asked in a press conference in 1977 a kind of mild question: do you think we have some responsibility for helping the Vietnamese after the war? And he said we owe them no debt — “the destruction was mutual.”

That passed without comment. And it was better than his successor. When a couple years later George Bush I, the statesman, was commenting on the responsibilities after the Vietnam War, he said: there is one moral problem that remains after the Vietnam War. The North Vietnamese have not devoted sufficient resources to turning over to us the bones of American pilots. These innocent pilots who were shot down over central Iowa by the murderous Vietnamese when they were spraying crops or something, they have not turned over the bones. But, he said: we are a merciful people, so we will forgive them this and we will allow them to enter the civilized world.

Meaning we’ll allow them to enter trade relations and so on, which, of course, we bar, if they will stop what they’re doing and devote sufficient resources to overcoming this one lingering crime after the Vietnam War. No comment.

One of the things that Israeli officials keep bringing up, and it’s repeated here in the corporate media, ad nauseam, is the Hamas charter. They don’t accept the existence of the state of the Israel, they want to wipe it off the map. You have some information about the charter and its background.

The charter was produced by, apparently, a handful of people, maybe two or three, back in 1988, at a time when Gaza was under severe Israeli attack. You remember Rabin’s orders. This was a primarily nonviolent uprising which Israel reacted to very violently, killing leaders, torture, breaking bones in accordance with Rabin’s orders, and so on. And right in the middle of that, a very small number of people came out with what they called a Hamas charter.

Nobody has paid attention to it since. It was an awful document, if you look at it. Since then the only people who have paid attention to it are Israeli intelligence and the US media. They love it. Nobody else cares about it. Khaled Mashal, the political leader of Gaza years ago, said: look, it’s past, it’s gone. It has no significance. But that doesn’t matter. It’s valuable propaganda.

There is also — they don’t call it a charter, but there are founding principles of the governing coalition in Israel, not some small group of people who are under attack but the governing coalition, Likud. The ideological core of Likud is Menachem Begin’s Herut. They have founding documents. Their founding documents say that today’s Jordan is part of the land of Israel; Israel will never renounce its claim to the land of Jordan. What’s now called Jordan they call the historical lands of Israel. They’ve never renounced that.

Likud, the same governing party, has an electoral program — it was for 1999 but it’s never been rescinded, it’s the same today — that says explicitly there will never be a Palestinian state west of the Jordan. In other words, we are dedicated in principle to the destruction of Palestine, period.

This is not just words. We proceed day by day to implement it. Nobody ever mentions the founding doctrines of Likud, Herut. I don’t either, because nobody takes them seriously. Actually, that was also the doctrine of the majority of the kibbutz movement. Achdut Ha-Avodah, which was the largest part of the kibbutz movement, held the same principles, that both sides of the Jordan River are ours.

There was a slogan, “This side of the Jordan, that side also.” In other words, both western Palestine and eastern Palestine are ours. Does anybody say: okay, we can’t negotiate with Israel? More significant are the actual electoral programs. And even more significant than that are the actual actions, which are implementing the destruction of Palestine, not just talking about it. But we have to talk about the Hamas charter.

There is an interesting history about the so-called PLO charter. Around 1970 the former head of Israeli military intelligence, Yehoshafat Harkabi, published an article in a major Israeli journal in which he brought to light something called the PLO charter or something similar to that. Nobody had ever heard of it, nobody was paying any attention to it.

And the charter said: here’s our aim. Our aim is it’s our land, we’re going to take it over. In fact, it was not unlike the Herut claims except backwards. This instantly became a huge media issue all over. The PLO covenant it was called. The PLO covenant plans to destroy Israel. They didn’t know anything about it, nobody knew anything about it, but this became a major issue.

I met Harkabi a couple years later. He was kind of a dove, incidentally. He became pretty critical of Israeli policy. He was an interesting guy. We had an interview here at MIT, in fact. Incidentally, at that time there was material in the Arab press that I was reading saying that the Palestinians were thinking about officially throwing out the charter because it was kind of an embarrassment.

So I asked him, “Why did you bring this out for the first time just at the time when they were thinking of rescinding it?” He looked at me with the blank stare that you learn to recognize when you are talking to spooks. They are trained to pretend not to understand what you’re talking about when they understand it perfectly.

He said, “Oh, I never heard that.” That is beyond inconceivable. It’s impossible that the head of Israeli military intelligence doesn’t know what I know from reading bits and pieces of the Arab press in Beirut. Of course he knew.

There’s every reason to believe that he decided to bring this out precisely because he recognized, meaning Israeli intelligence recognized, that it would be a useful piece of propaganda and it’s best to try to ensure that the Palestinians keep it. Of course, if we attack it, then they’re going to back off and say: we’re not going to rescind it under pressure, which is what’s happening with the Hamas charter.

If they stopped talking about it, everyone would forget about it, because it’s meaningless. Incidentally, let me just add one more thing. It is now impossible to document this, for a simple reason. The documents were all in the PLO offices in Beirut. And when Israel invaded Beirut, they stole all the archives. I assume they must have them somewhere, but nobody is going to get access to them.

What accounts for the almost near unanimity of the Congress in backing Israel? Even Elizabeth Warren, the highly touted Democratic senator from Massachusetts, voted for this resolution about self-defense.

She probably knows nothing about the Middle East. I think it’s pretty obvious. Take the US prepositioning arms in Israel for US use for military action in the region. That’s one small piece of a very close military and intelligence alliance that goes back very far. It really took off after 1967, although bits and pieces of it existed before.

The US military and intelligence regard Israel as a major base. In fact, one of the more interesting WikiLeaks exposures listed the Pentagon ranking of strategic centers around the world which were of such significance that we have to protect them no matter what, a small number. One of them was a couple of miles outside Haifa, Rafael military industries, a major military installation.

That’s where a lot of the drone technology was developed and much else. That’s a strategic US interest of such significance that it ranks among the highest in the world. Rafael understands that, to the extent that they actually moved their management headquarters to Washington, where the money is. That’s indicative of the kind of relationship there is.

And it goes way beyond that. US investors are in love with Israel. Warren Buffet just bought some Israeli enterprise for, I think, a couple billion dollars and announced that outside the US, Israel is the best place for US investment. And major firms, like Intel and others, are investing heavily in Israel, and continue to. It’s a valuable client: it’s strategically located, compliant, does what the US wants, it’s available for repression and violence. The US has used it over and over as a way of circumventing congressional and popular restrictions on violence.

There’s a huge fuss now about children fleeing Central America, say, from Guatemala. Why are they fleeing from Guatemala? You can see a photo of one of them here in my office. They’re fleeing from Guatemala because of the wreckage of Guatemala, of which a large part was the attack on the Mayan Indians, which was really genocidal, in the early 1980s. That’s a Mayan woman in the photo, in fact. They’ve never escaped this, and many of them are fleeing.

Reagan, who was extremely brutal and violent and a terrible racist as well, wanted to provide direct support for the Guatemalan army’s attack, which was literally genocidal on the Mayan Indians. There was a congressional resolution that blocked him, so he turned to his terrorist clients.

The major one was Israel. Also Taiwan, a couple of others. Israel provided the arms for the Guatemalan army — to this day they use Israeli arms — provided the trainers for the terrorist forces, essentially ran the genocidal attack. That’s one of their services. They did the same in South Africa. Actually, this led to an interesting incident with the great hero Elie Wiesel.

In the mid-1980s, Salvador Luria, a friend of mine who is a Nobel laureate in biology and politically active, knew about this. It wasn’t a big secret. He asked me to collect articles from the Hebrew press which described Israel’s participation in genocidal attacks in Guatemala — not just participation, it’s a leadership role — because he wanted to send it to Elie Wiesel with a polite letter saying: as a fellow Nobel laureate, I would like to bring this to your attention. Could you use your influence — he didn’t ask him to say anything, that’s too much, but privately could you communicate to the people you know well at a high level in Israel and say it’s not nice to take part in genocide. He never got a response.

A couple of months later, I read an interview in the Hebrew press, where they really dislike Wiesel. They regard him as a charlatan and a fraud. One of the questions in the interview was, “What do you think about Israel’s participation in the genocidal assault in Guatemala?”

The report says Wiesel sighed and then said: I received a letter from a fellow Nobel laureate bringing to my attention these actions and asking me if I could say something privately to try to restrict them somehow, but, he said: I can’t criticize Israel even privately. I can’t say anything even privately that might impede Israel’s participation in genocide. That’s Elie Wiesel, the great moral hero.

Even this story is astonishing. Now children and many other refugees are fleeing from three countries: El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala. Not from Nicaragua, about as poor as Honduras. Is there a difference? Yes. Nicaragua is the one country in the 1980s that had a way of defending itself against US terrorist forces — an army. In the other countries the army were the terrorist forces, supported and armed by the US, and its Israeli client in the worst cases. So that’s what you had.

There is a lot of upbeat reporting now saying the flow of children has reduced. Why? Because we’ve turned the screws on Mexico and told them to use force to prevent the victims of our violence from fleeing to the US for survival. So now they’re doing it for us, so there are fewer coming to the border. It’s a great humanitarian achievement of Obama’s.

Incidentally, Honduras is in the lead. Why Honduras? Because in 2009 there was a military coup in Honduras which overthrew the president, Zelaya, who was beginning to make some moves towards badly needed reform measures, and kicked him out of the country.

I won’t go through the details, but it ended up with the US, under Obama, being one of the very few countries that recognized the coup regime and the election that took place under its aegis, which has turned Honduras into an even worse horror story than it was before, way in the lead in homicides, violence. So, yes, people are fleeing. And therefore we have to drive them back and ensure that they go back into the horror chamber.

In the current situation, it seems that this is an opportunity for the Kurdish population of Iraq to realize some kind of statehood, some kind of independence, something that they’ve wanted for a long time, and which intersects, actually, with Israeli interests in Iraq. They have been supporting the Kurds, rather clandestinely, but it’s well known that Israel has been pushing for fragmentation of Iraq.

They are. And that’s one of the points on which Israeli and US policy conflict. The Kurdish areas are landlocked. The government of Iraq has blocked their export of oil, their only resource, and of course opposes their statehood bid. The US so far has been backing that.

Clandestinely, there evidently is a flow of oil at some level from the Kurdish area into Turkey. That’s also a very complex relationship. Barzani, the Iraqi Kurdish leadervisited Turkey about a year ago, I guess, and made some pretty striking comments. He was quite critical of the leadership of the Turkish Kurds and was plainly trying to establish better relations with Turkey, which has been violently repressing the Turkish Kurds.

Most of the Kurds in the world are in Turkey. You can understand why, from his point of view. That’s the one outlet to the outside world. But Turkey has a mixed attitude about this. An independent Kurdistan in, say, northern Iraq, which is right next to the Kurdish areas of Turkey, or in the Syrian Kurdish areas, which are right by them, potentially, from the Turkish point of view, might encourage separatists or even efforts for autonomy in the southeastern part of Turkey, which is heavily Kurdish. They’ve been fighting against that ever since modern Turkey arose in the 1920, very brutally, in fact. So they have a mixed kind of attitude on this.

Kurdistan has succeeded somehow in getting tankers to take Kurdish oil. Those tankers are wandering around the Mediterranean. No country will accept it, except probably Israel. We can’t be certain, but it looks as though they’re taking some of it. The Kurdish tankers are seeking some way to unload their oil in mostly the eastern Mediterranean. It’s not happening at a level which permits Kurdistan to function, even to pay its officials.

On the other hand, if you go to the Kurdish so-called capital, Erbil, apparently there are high rises going up, plenty of wealth. But it’s a very fragile kind of system. It cannot survive. It’s completely surrounded by mostly hostile regions. Turkey is sort of unclear because of the reasons that I mentioned. So, yes, they do have that in mind. That’s why they took Kirkuk as soon as they could.

There are a couple of questions I want to close with, actually from our latest book, Power SystemsI ask you, “You’ve got grandchildren. What kind of world do you see them inheriting?”

The world that we’re creating for our grandchildren is grim. The major concern ought to be the one that was brought up in New York at the September 21 march. A couple hundred thousand people marched in New York calling for some serious action on global warming.

This is no joke. This is the first time in the history of the human species that we have to make decisions which will determine whether there will be decent survival for our grandchildren. That’s never happened before. Already we have made decisions which are wiping out species around the world at a phenomenal level.

The level of species destruction in the world today is about at the level of sixty-five million years ago, when a huge asteroid hit the earth and had horrifying ecological effects. It ended the age of the dinosaurs; they were wiped out. It kind of left a little opening for small mammals, who began to develop, and ultimately us. The same thing is happening now, except that we’re the asteroid. What we’re doing to the environment is already creating conditions like those of sixty-five million years ago. Human civilization is tottering at the edge of this. The picture doesn’t look pretty.

So September 21, the day of the march, which was a very positive development, an indication that you can do things, it’s not a foregone conclusion that we’re going to wipe everything out, that same day one of the major international monitoring scientific agencies presented the data on greenhouse emissions for the latest year on record, 2013. They reached record levels: they went up over 2 percent beyond the preceding year. For the US they went up even higher, almost 3 percent.

The Journal of the American Medical Association came out with a study the same day looking at the number of super hot days that are predicted for New York over the next couple of decades, super hot meaning over ninety. They predicted it will triple for New York, and much worse effects farther south. This is all going along with predicted sea-level rise, which is going to put a lot of Boston under water. Let alone the Bangladesh coastal plan, where hundreds of millions of people live, will be wiped out.

All of this is imminent. And at this very moment the logic of our institutions is driving it forward. So Exxon Mobil, which is the biggest energy producer, has announced — and you can’t really criticize them for it; this is the nature of the state capitalist system, its logic — that they are going to direct all of their efforts to lifting fossil fuels, because that’s profitable. In effect, that’s exactly what they should be doing, given the institutional framework. They’re supposed to make profits. And if that wipes out the possibility of a decent life for the grandchildren, it’s not their problem.

Chevron, another big energy corporation, had a small sustainable program, mostly for PR reasons, but it was doing reasonably well, it was actually profitable. They just closed it down because fossil fuels are so much more profitable.

In the US by now there’s drilling all over the place. But there’s one place where it has been somewhat limited, federal lands. Energy lobbies are complaining bitterly that Obama has cut back access to federal lands. The Department of Interior just came out with the statistics. It’s the opposite. The oil drilling on federal lands has steadily increased under Obama. What has decreased is offshore drilling.

But that’s a reaction to the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Right after that disaster, the immediate reaction was to back off. Even the energy companies backed off from deep-sea drilling. The lobbies are just pulling these things together. If you look at the onshore drilling, it’s just going up. There are very few brakes on this. These tendencies are pretty dangerous, and you can predict what kind of world there will be for your grandchildren.

Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor (retired) at MIT. He is the author of many books and articles on international affairs and social-political issues, and a long-time participant in activist movements.

 


War Pigs – War criminals and those who “accept” their crimes

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The last 50 years have seen some fantastic events and seen some huge steps forward for mankind, however it has also seen some of the worst than mankind can produce.

There have been some atrocities over the last half century that defy belief, and some of those responsible for these acts are even still alive today.

Before you delve further down the page I should warn you that there are some graphic images in this post that will upset some people, so please don’t say you were not warned.

In 1998 there would have been hardly a tear shed for the death of Pol Pot, the former dictator and ruthless leader of the Khmer Rouge. Pol Pot is credited with the deaths of up to 3 Million Cambodians which made up around a quarter of Cambodia’s total population.

Those in his camps were used as slaves and most died of disease and malnutrition, however many others were simply executed or some were killed in the most grotesque ways imaginable for the entertainment of the camp guards.

Pol Pot died whilst under house arrest in his bed.

Pol Pot

Pol Pot

Slobodan  Milosevic was another one who got off lucky, dying of a heart attack in his prison whilst awaiting trial on March 11th 2006.

Milosevic was awaiting trial for war crimes that included ethnic cleansing and genocide.

Known as the “Butcher Of The Balkans” he presided over the deaths of more than 200,000 people over 10 years in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo.

...and the winner of the older Geert Wilders look alike contest is.... Sobidan Milosevic

…and the winner of the older Geert Wilders look alike contest is…. Slobodan Milosevic

In 1994 The Rwandan genocide occurred while the world watched on for approximately 100 days and did little.

The genocide was carried out by the Hutus who massacred somewhere between 500,000 and 1,000,0000 Tutsis in the most brutal of fashions.

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In 1998 Jean-Paul Akayesu, a Rwandan politician and mayor of a commune, was sentenced to life imprisonment for 9 counts of genocide and crimes against humanity which included the rape and sexual mutilation of women.

Rwanda’s very own shock-jocks Ferdinand Nahimana and Jean Bosco Barayagwiza were both given life sentences in October 2000 for inciting and encouraging the massacre throughout their broadcasts.

Also serving a life sentence for his part in the genocide is Jean Kambanda who was the Prime Minister of Rwanda during the genocide.

Bodies in a field in Rwanda

Bodies in a field in Rwanda

We all remember the hunt for former Iraqi Dictator and war criminal Saddam Hussein.

Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons on his own citizens, massacred thousands of Kurds and his own citizens, and after the Gulf War evidence of torture was discovered that appeared to be state sanctioned and carried out by members of Hussein’s Republican Guard.

Saddam Hussein was eventually captured after being pulled out of a hole in the ground in December 2003.

After facing trial for crimes against humanity Saddam Hussein was given the death penalty and was hung on the 30th December 2006

For the people of Iraq who faced years of fear and oppression under Saddam’s rule, his death was a cause for celebration.

Saddam Hussein

Saddam Hussein

For those who suffered at the hands of Pol Pot and Milosevic it must have seemed cruel to see them both escape punishment so easily and die a relatively peaceful death when they themselves had been so inhumane and cruel in their bringing about the deaths of others.

However it is not just these people who need to face investigation for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

One would have had to be hiding in a hole like Saddam Hussein to have missed Kony 2012.

The social media campaign to try and bring about the tracking down, capture and conviction of Joseph Kony, thought to be hiding out in the Congo.

Joseph Kony is the leader of the “Lords Resistance Army” thought to have recruited over 30,000 children for use as soldiers. Child soldiers recruited often kill their family while young girls are captured and used as sex slaves for the young soldiers.

It is not known how many have been killed by Kony and his forces although conservative estimates by the UN put the number at over 100,000. Many of these deaths are amongst the most shocking and cruel deaths imaginable as soldiers compete to see who is the cruellest amongst them.

Joseph Kony is still at large.

Joseph Kony

Joseph Kony

We have all seen in news broadcasts over the past few years the atrocities that are ongoing in the civil war in Syria.

Syrian President Bashar Assad has been accused of war crimes with calls for action against his regime coming from all over the globe.

Assads regime has been notorious for war crimes against men women and children including massacres, torture, and evidence of the use of chemical weapons.

Victims of Assad's regime

Victims of Assad’s regime

The UN expects more than 5 Million refugees to come from Syria by the end of 2014 as a result of Assad’s rule. Estimates on the death toll have varied with the UN saying that it is most certainly over 100,000.

Most of the world has condemned Assad and are keen to bring him to justice and investigate him and his regime for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Victims of Syrian nerve gas attack

Victims of Syrian nerve gas attack

It is something that is beyond doubt that those who commit genocide, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity should be hunted down and severely punished for their crimes.

Another nation where war crimes such as genocide, torture and ethnic cleansing are reported to have been committed is Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankan civil war dragged on for 26 years and saw the deaths of over 100,000 people, mostly civilians.

One incident towards the end of the war saw 300,000 civilians trapped on a narrow beach, 40,000 of these civilians were gunned down by the Sri Lankan army and many atrocities were alleged to have been committed.

The man in charge of the Sri Lankan military was Defense Secretary  Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is the brother of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Last week the Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka was boycotted by Canada, India , and Mauritius as a protest against the human rights abuses and war crimes that have yet to see action taken.

British Conservative Prime Minister was also keen to address the violations of human rights and see Sri Lanka investigated for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Cameron stated during a press conference

“Let me be very clear. If an investigation is not completed by March, then I will use our position on the United Nations human rights council to work with the UN human rights commission and call for a full credible and independent international inquiry.”

It is clear that the British along with many other nations calling for justice for the countless thousands of innocent civilians that were tortured and massacred, men, women and children.

Not to be outdone, Tony Abbott weighed in on the discussions and when questioned about the massacre and torture of civilians stated;

We accept that sometimes in difficult circumstances, difficult things happen”

I have never heard of a country being given a free pass for genocide and torture before, and those who committed some of the atrocities must be pleased to hear that someone accepts what they have done.

Tony Abbott - Accepts Sri Lankan torture and genocide, but won't accept Sri Lankan refugees

Tony Abbott – Accepts Sri Lankan torture and genocide, but won’t accept Sri Lankan refugees

The photo’s below are of some of the atrocities that Tony Abbott has accepted on our behalf when he uses the word “We”

However Tony Abbott not only accepted their actions, which he says must have been difficult as I’m sure they were for those on the receiving end, but he also thought that giving a couple of gifts was appropriate.

A massacred Sri Lankan family

A massacred Sri Lankan family

David Cameron calls for war crimes investigations, Tony Abbott gives away gifts.

So what gift is appropriate to give a nation who used its military to commit massacres and other crimes against humanity?

More military equipment of course.

A woman raped and murdered by Sri Lankan military soldiers

A woman raped and murdered by Sri Lankan military soldiers

Tony Abbott has given the Sri Lankan government two Navy Patrol Boats for them to use in any way they see fit in return for them clamping down on asylum seekers fleeing the country due to tensions that still exist and seeing their family members executed in many cases.

A butchered Sri Lankan child

A butchered Sri Lankan child

The gift of military boats to the nation the UN accuses of war crimes costs the taxpayer $2 Million. The cynical may say Abbott is trying to emulate his idol John Howard who allegedly paid bribes to Saddam Hussein’s regime via the Australian Wheat Board.

The use of the boats as mentioned is totally unrestricted, the Sri Lankans can arm them with whatever weaponry they like.

Fairfax reported on 19th November about the actions of a similar Sri Lankan patrol boat at the end of the civil war when it came across civilians on a fishing boat.

”We held two white flags and on seeing the navy we called them, ‘Aiya, Aiya [Sir, Sir]‘. There was sudden shelling and eight died on the spot … navy hit, navy attacked and many people died.”

A message needs to be sent to Tony Abbott that his actions and his words on this matter are not just inappropriate, they are truly sickening.

More rape and murder in Sri Lanka

More rape and murder in Sri Lanka

As a nation we do not accept, endorse, or tolerate genocide or torture, it goes against everything we should be standing for.

Tony Abbott, when you claim “we” accept this, you sure as hell don’t speak for me.

With thanks, via http://wixxyleaks.com/

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NSA Can Reportedly Track Phones Even When They’re Turned Off

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A woman checks her mobile phone in Vienna.Photo by ALEXANDER KLEIN/AFP/Getty Images

The NSA has a diverse range of surveillance capabilities—from monitoring Google Maps use to sifting through millions of phone call records and spying on Web searches. But it doesn’t end there. The agency can also track down the location of a cellphone even if the handset is turned off, according to a new report.

On Monday, the Washington Post published a story focusing on how massively the NSA has grown since the 9/11 attacks. Buried within it, there was a small but striking detail: By September 2004, the NSA had developed a technique that was dubbed “The Find” by special operations officers. The technique, the Post reports, was used in Iraq and “enabled the agency to find cellphones even when they were turned off.” This helped identify “thousands of new targets, including members of a burgeoning al-Qaeda-sponsored insurgency in Iraq,” according to members of the special operations unit interviewed by the Post.

It is not explained in the report exactly how this technique worked. But to spy on phones when they are turned off, agencies would usually have to infect the handset with a Trojan that would force it to continue emitting a signal if the phone is in standby mode, unless the battery is removed. In most cases, when you turn your phone off—even if you do not remove the battery—it will stop communicating with nearby cell towers and can be traced only to the location it was in when it was powered down.

In 2006, it was reported that the FBI had deployed spyware to infect suspects’ mobile phones and record data even when they were turned off. The NSA may have resorted to a similar method in Iraq, albeit on a much larger scale by infecting thousands of users at one time. Though difficult, the mass targeting of populations with Trojan spyware is possible—and not unheard of. In 2009, for instance, thousands of BlackBerry users in the United Arab Emirates were targeted with spyware that was disguised as a legitimate update. The update drained users’ batteries and was eventually exposed by researchers, who identified that it had apparently been designed by U.S. firm SS8, which sells “lawful interception” tools to help governments conduct surveillance of communications.

In recent weeks, the NSA’s surveillance programs—both domestic and international—have been the subject of intense scrutiny following a series of leaked secret documents. The NSA says that a vast database that it maintains on phone calls made by millions of Americans does not include location data. But the revelation that the agency has developed a technique that apparently enables  it to monitor thousands of cellphones—even when turned off—is likely to only inflame civil liberties groups’ concerns, prompting further questions about the full extent of the agency’s spying efforts.


Perhaps the scariest article you’ll read all year (robots will soon control us all)

Robots, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, AI, Rise of the Machines, Rise of the Robots:-

If this is the fu­ture of war­fare and in­tel­li­gence gath­er­ing, rest as­sured it won’t only be Wash­ing­ton doing it.

Last month philoso­pher Patrick Lin de­liv­ered this brief­ing about the ethics of drones at an event hosted by In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s ven­ture-cap­i­tal arm (via the At­lantic):

Let’s look at some cur­rent and fu­ture sce­nar­ios. These go be­yond ob­vi­ous in­tel­li­gence, sur­veil­lance, and re­con­nais­sance (ISR), strike, and sen­try ap­pli­ca­tions, as most ro­bots are being used for today. I’ll limit these sce­nar­ios to a time hori­zon of about 10-15 years from now.

Mil­i­tary sur­veil­lance ap­pli­ca­tions are well known, but there are also im­por­tant civil­ian ap­pli­ca­tions, such as ro­bots that pa­trol play­grounds for pe­dophiles (for in­stance, in South Korea) and major sport­ing events for sus­pi­cious ac­tiv­ity (such as the 2006 World Cup in Seoul and 2008 Bei­jing Olympics). Cur­rent and fu­ture bio­met­ric ca­pa­bil­i­ties may en­able ro­bots to de­tect faces, drugs, and weapons at a dis­tance and un­der­neath cloth­ing. In the fu­ture, robot swarms and “smart dust” (some­times called nanosen­sors) may be used in this role.

Ro­bots can be used for alert­ing pur­poses, such as a hu­manoid po­lice robot in China that gives out in­for­ma­tion, and a Russ­ian po­lice robot that re­cites laws and is­sues warn­ings. So there’s po­ten­tial for ed­u­ca­tional or com­mu­ni­ca­tion roles and on-the-spot com­mu­nity re­port­ing, as re­lated to in­tel­li­gence gath­er­ing.

In de­liv­ery ap­pli­ca­tions, SWAT po­lice teams al­ready use ro­bots to in­ter­act with hostage-tak­ers and in other dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions. So ro­bots could be used to de­liver other items or plant sur­veil­lance de­vices in in­ac­ces­si­ble places. Like­wise, they can be used for ex­trac­tions too. As men­tioned ear­lier, the BEAR robot can re­trieve wounded sol­diers from the bat­tle­field, as well as han­dle haz­ardous or heavy ma­te­ri­als. In the fu­ture, an au­tonomous car or he­li­copter might be de­ployed to ex­tract or trans­port sus­pects and as­sets, to limit US per­son­nel in­side hos­tile or for­eign bor­ders.

In de­ten­tion ap­pli­ca­tions, ro­bots could also be used to not just guard build­ings but also peo­ple. Some ad­van­tages here would be the elim­i­na­tion of prison abuses like we saw at Guan­tanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba and Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. This speaks to the dis­pas­sion­ate way ro­bots can op­er­ate. Re­lat­edly–and I’m not ad­vo­cat­ing any of these sce­nar­ios, just spec­u­lat­ing on pos­si­ble uses–ro­bots can solve the dilemma of using physi­cians in in­ter­ro­ga­tions and tor­ture. These ac­tiv­i­ties con­flict with their duty to care and the Hip­po­cratic oath to do no harm. Ro­bots can mon­i­tor vital signs of in­ter­ro­gated sus­pects, as well as a human doc­tor can. They could also ad­min­is­ter in­jec­tions and even in­flict pain in a more con­trolled way, free from mal­ice and prej­u­dices that might take things too far (or much fur­ther than al­ready).


Qanta Ahmed, MD

Posted: January 3, 2011 11:30 AM

New Year’s Day, New York — This week’s news reports out of Egypt of a suicide bombing targeting Alexandria’s Coptic Christians in a New Years Eve mass are a sobering start to the New Year. At the present time seventeen are reported to have been killed and many more injured. The prevalence of suicide martyrdom operations has now become so commonplace that as a viewership we are badly inured to them. Its worth remembering that the ideology supporting these fanatical attacks may begin long before the bomber reaches adulthood.

Last spring I received a letter from a Saudi father in Jeddah. His twelve-year old daughter had returned home from school that day, casually mentioning that her Saudi teacher had endorsed suicide attacks as permissible in Islam. The matter had been discussed in the context of Palestine. He writes:

“… my daughter was confused another topic which totally contradicts what I say to her on how its nice to have friends from all over the world regardless of their religion or ethnicity. Her teacher, originally from Palestine, was talking to her class on how becoming martyrs on the road to freeing Palestine from infidels is the highest and most noble thing -Islamism is spoon fed to our kids. I used to think to be a good parent all one had to do was ensure one’s child gets a good education. Now I realize to be a good parent these days I have to protect my child from education!”

He added a link to a video, which had been circulating at the time. It was a highly produced, glossy arrangement featuring a handsome Arab male lead and a young singing companion. The melody was very catchy, and bore repeated viewing very well. The child’s angelic voice was sweet and pure, an excellent contrast to the Arab male’s heartening and sexy baritone. Dressed head to foot in black, with a dash of designer stubble, he was a no less than a Lebanese Ricky Martin.

I followed the song in translation. The verses were about dying for Palestine, wanting to become bride to the beloved Palestinian soil and looking forward to martyrdom. The pretty five-year-old child was enunciating every word perfectly, in a highly produced, moving hymn to martyrdom.

I sent the link on to a former colleague of mine from Riyadh, now a stay at home mom in Jeddah. Watching the video she realized this was the tune her five-year-old had been singing for weeks. She wrote to me at once to tell me why she recognized the song that her child had been singing.

‘She most probably heard it in school. I did nothing. You must realize Qanta that with 5yr old kids that is the best policy because they forget so easily (she has actually forgotten it as I write to you because this was a few months ago) and they cannot understand this anyway. Palestinian kids live this and it is a reality for them. And yet I don’t believe as you do that television programs can actually brain wash children unless the parents allow that to happen. I believe that parents are the ones that shape the beliefs of children at this age unless they forgo that responsibility’.

I asked the mother, how her daughter could have seen the video.

‘I never said she saw the video. She must have heard the song from one of the other kids at school because at the time when I asked her what she was singing (because it was all warbled) she couldn’t elaborate. They do watch some things at school but related to the educational material that is being discussed or cartoons if they stay beyond hours which fortunately my kids don’t’.

I asked how she handled this as a mom.

“We didn’t do anything Qanta. She is five years old. Children have very short memories at that age. She has probably forgotten….”

Developmental psychologists know that children do not forget. In fact, there may be no other more critical time (when children are forming tenacious attachment to imaginary figures, including God and God-like figures) than the tender ages of five and seven.

Political powers espousing radical contemporary Islam which foster martyrdom as a form of preemptive asymmetric warfare aim to influence children at exactly these ages. The broadcasts of Palestinian’s authorities on Hamas TV are an extraordinarily prescient example viewed from an developmental psychological attachment-maturation perspective.

Hamas TV’s Sesame Street-like broadcasts have become widespread, hosted by children of similar age broadcast to their peers advocating martyrdom to their child viewership. The shows have an enormous popular appeal and are widely accessible, adding materially to the belief that there is more value in uniting with the non-corporeal entity of God than seeking attachment to any other entity, and that willful death can be the only consummation of such attachment.

As is often said of the media, Hamas TV is not only the OTHER parent, in Gaza it is the ONLY parent. Data gathered by Palestinian Media Watch reveals Hamas TV broadcasts children’s programming which routinely dehumanizes Jews ( and by extension Palestinians), murdering Jews and eating them, albeit in puppet form. Organizations like Children’s Rights Institute are among the first to articulate the exposure of children to such ideology as a form of child abuse. These images and actions are likely therefore to be incorporated into very real and lasting constructs for the preschool Palestinian watching them, effectively enshrining dehumanization at the earliest stages of development. Repetition of content has the effect of both maintaining attention and sustaining retention over prolonged periods of time.

As helpless onlookers, we soothe ourselves by suggesting the martyr bomber is psychiatrically ill, unstable, acting from a position of psychotic break or merely ‘brainwashed’. We soothe ourselves without support for this in scientific data, yet we cling to this belief simply because it makes us feel sane, stable, psychologically well and, in contrast, human. Distancing ourselves from the perpetrators enables us to remain safely apart and firmly unshaken in our elite isolations while they are portrayed as increasingly inhuman.

When we think of martyr-suicides within a framework of ‘suicide is sick’ we avoid the more chilling construct of ‘suicide is wrong but rational”. By assigning a sick role to the concept of suicide we are spared considerations of its morality and accompanying dilemmas. When suicide is seen as sick it is spared a moral judgment — instead it is seen as essentially amoral. The act is condemned but the perpetrator is not judged, because he or she was ‘sick’. Suicide bombing becomes amoral, rather than immoral.

The event — which results in the death of so many — is in fact one of many calculated, considered and measured choices. This is evident in the bomber’s preparation before departure for voluntary missions, paying unsettled debts, being unusually tender to family members, preparing a final video-taped exhortation ( which acts as a social contract), donning the clothing, mounting the transportation (which often costs more than the materials which will shortly detonate) and finally choosing the agreed target, evading capture and detonating the explosive. This is a series of calm, considered and fully premeditated, rational acts. Suicide bombing by default is elective, not compelled — elective acts to choose one’s own death amidst those of so many others. Suicide bombing therefore is fundamentally immoral against the actions acceptable to wide swathes of humanity, irrespective of faith compass.

The recipients of the attacks — New Yorkers, Londoners, citizens of New Delhi or Bali, Israelis, Iraqis and American forces in Iraq and most recently and ferociously of all — Pakistanis — see the suicide bombing as morally reprehensible, repugnant and fundamentally immoral in a way that overshadows any other immoral event. However from the vantage of societies from which suicide bombers emanate: Palestine, Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Lebanon (ironically often the very same places targeted for attack) the suicide bombers are seen simultaneously as morally exemplary by segments of society. Such exemplars are they, that they are canonized immediately after death, their funerals become processions, their names bestowed on streets, schools, and computer labs, football teams and entire communities are effectively institutionalized memorials to terror. Such subliminal and overt veneration builds an environment where the moral foundations of a community firmly rest on the decapitated shoulders of martyr-murderers.

While the martyr may have fervent supporters who vigorously sustain these acts, many in the audience attempt to sidestep engagement or comment, forming the silent, reluctant majority. Willing spectators, nonetheless, they seek to remain uninvolved, disengaged, and neutral. This is precisely the group most sought after by the martyrdom operatives because this majority remains available to mobilization. Potentially, their masses can be motivated to fall behind the cause and generate perpetuating vitalizing momentum. The silent majority, therefore, are the most critical component of the societal audience, an audience which today comprises of hundreds of millions if not more.

Conversion is in fact the ultimate goal of the martyr. He seeks to generate greater and greater subscribers to his politico-religious viewpoint through his highly televised, promotional death. When narratives fail to evoke sufficient pathos, or when audiences are saturated and inured to violence and mayhem, such aims fail, and do so categorically.

Explicit accounts, videotapes, cassettes, internet uploaded movie files all seek to ignite the collective guilt and repentance for being less worthy, less pure, less valiant than the martyr. Repeated recitation, canonization, rote ritualization, all are deployed to sear the martyrdom act into societal memory for maximal impact and manipulation. Modern day Islamist terrorists know this and apply it with an almost unparalleled mastery. They add scripture to support their evil rationale. The most often quoted verse from the Quran has become the foundational mantra for modern day contemporary Islamist terrorism.

‘And do not think those who have been killed in the way of Allah as dead; they are rather living with their Lord, well provided for. Rejoicing in what their Lord has given them of His bounty, and they rejoice for those who stayed behind and did not join them, knowing that they have nothing to fear and they shall not grieve’. Quran 3:169-70

This verse is perhaps the most direct proof that martyrs are separated from other Muslims, though martyrdom is hardly a central tenet of belief. Instead this verse is to comfort those bereaved during legitimate just warfare deemed (in the words of the Prophet (SAW) ‘the lesser Jihad’.

The jihadist literature has taken this verse and distorted its intent to the extreme degree, justifying preemptive acts of terror in the interests of political and ideological gain as a means of inferring martyrdom status on those who perpetrate terror through premeditated suicide attacks.

Ayatollah Khomeini changed modern Muslim attitudes to Islamic martyrdom by focusing on the epicenter of Shi’ism, the martyrdom of Al-Husain. Al Husain was portrayed by Khomeini was a willing martyr rather than a tragic figure doomed to die. In this revision of the ancient martryology, Khomeini catalyzed the evolution of quietist Shi’ism into radicalized, proactive advocates of political martyrdom. Khomeini articulated this equal-opportunity martyrdom crisply.

” the action of seeking out martyrdom is among the highest forms of martyrdom and sacrifice in the path of religion……..there is no difference between male and female ( in this) “

Other leading Shiite clerics augmented this new, aggressive view:

  
The color red signifying blood is a central theme. In Gaza, and other disputed territories, sites of suicide attacks are ritually refreshed with lamb’s blood to keep this association acute, and vivid, days after the remains have been cleared. Modern poets do that too, revealing the extent to which beliefs about the values of martyrdom have become internalized, globalized and accepted even at the echelons of power is captured in a poem written by the late Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the UK ( 2002) Ghazi- Al- Qusaybi.

‘For the Martyrs (Li’l-shuhada’)’
God bears witness that you are martyrs; the prophets and friends (of God) bear witness.
You have died so as to glorify the word of my Lord, in the dwellings glorified by the Night Journey (of the Prophet Mohammed).

 

 

Have you committed suicide?? (No) we are the ones who have committed suicide in life, but our dead are alive.

 

O people, we have died, so prepare to listen how they eulogize us.

We were impotent until even impotence complained of us, we wept until weeping had scorn for us.

We prostrated until prostration was disgusted by us, we hoped until hope asked for assistance.

We licked the shoe of (Israeli Prime Minister) Sharon until the shoe cried: Watch out, you are tearing me!

We repaired to the illegitimate rulers of the White House whose heart is filled with darkness.

O people we have died but dust is ashamed to cover us

Tell Ayyat (Al Akhras): O bride of the highest heavens. (We) ransom all beauty for your pupils.

When champions are castrated, the choice (ones) of my people.

Beauty confronts the criminal, she kisses death and laughs in proclamation- when leaders flee from death.

Paradise opens its gates and is cheerful. Fatima the splendorous (daughter of Mohammed) meets you!

Tell those who have embellished those fatwas against suicide attacks): Grant a delay. Many fatwas have heaven in an uproar.

When jihad calls, the learned man is silent, the reed (pen), books and the jurisprudents.

When jihad calls, there is no asking for fatwas: the day of jihad is (a day of) blood

Ambassador Qusaybi further underlines the emasculation of collective manhood by singling out a female martyr in the figure of Ayyat Al Akhras who in her final exoneration videotaped before her suicide attack asked ” Where are the Arab Leaders?” and “I am going to fight instead of the sleeping Arab armies who are watching Palestinian girls fighting alone,”.

Reviewing the literature over past months around these areas has been deeply unsatisfying, posing more questions than revealing answers. In the process, I have discovered myself firmly on an insurmountable boundary as defined by modern Muslim martyrdom: on the side of the denouncers. This in itself is a source of deep personal discomfort since it separates me from much of the most vociferous kinship of the modern global Ummah endorsing unconditional support of the Palestinian Cause, overlooking the moral dilemmas this poses for a believing Muslim.

Separation of Muslim from Muslim within Islam is a highly charged, lonely, and negatively regarded position for a Muslim to take, but some of us must choose this place of exile if we are to go on being believing Muslims. And so, if exile is my only salvation, I must choose it.

This article first appeared in Dutch National Trouw on December 11th 2010, edited by Ms. Andrea Bosman, translated by Ms.Sarah Lawson. The article is an extract from my Templeton-Cambridge thesis submitted for the 2010 Templeton-Cambridge Fellowship in Journalism, Science and Religion.

  
Follow Qanta Ahmed, MD on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MissDiagnosis

‘What does a martyr do? His function is not confined to resisting the enemy and in the process either giving him a blow or receiving a blow from him. Had that been the case, we could say that when his blood is shed it has been a waste. But at no time is a martyr’s blood wasted. It does not flow on the ground. Every drop of it is turned into hundreds of thousands of drops, nay into tons of blood and is transfused into the body of his society… Martyrdom means transfusion of blood into a particular human society, especially a society suffering from anemia, so to speak, of true faith. It is the martyr who infuses such fresh blood into the veins of such a society ‘.