Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
News, analysis and commentary on the human condition from an African American point of view.

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

Embedded corporate media rose to new heights of non-journalism as, on command, they conjured up an end to (America's) Iraq War based on nothing more than a change of nomenclature. Combat soldiers woke up one morning as "advise and assist" troops whose "bases" were magically transformed into "fortified compounds." Still, the U.S. empire has no intention of leaving Iraq - especially when there are so many available euphemisms for staying.

 

U.S. Withdrawal from Iraq is Fiction

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"The United States is an empire that has never voluntarily withdrawn from any of its bases or 'fortified compounds.'"

It was perversely hilarious to observe the corporate media, last week, as they collectively celebrated an event that never happened. "Last combat soldiers leave Baghdad" read the Washington Post headline, with variations on the same fantasy theme in Newsweek, UPI, Reuters...virtually everywhere. One had to turn to the Army Times newspaper for an accurate headline:"Combat Brigades in Iraq Under Different Name."

It is a wonderment to watch the blind enthusiasm with which the corporate media embrace name changes as if they are actual facts. As the Washington Post announced the departure from Iraq of the 2nd Infantry Division's 4th Stryker Brigade, describing the unit as the "final U.S. combat brigade to be pulled out of the country," seven brigades just like the 4th brigade remain on Iraqi soil. There is no difference in armament, equipment, configuration and training between the 4th Stryker Brigade that exited for Kuwait, and the Stryker Brigades that remain behind - except, the name change. The in-country Stryker units are now called "Advise and Assist Brigades." The two National Guard infantry brigades left behind in Iraq have also undergone a nomenclatural transformation: they are no longer "combat" units, but "security" forces.

There are also 4,500 Special Forces troops in Iraq, who are prepared to train other soldiers in the daytime and kill all night long.

Army Times readers are primarily military people, their families, and retirees - folks that know a little something about the U.S. military and have a strong interest in learning the plain truth about the realities of U.S. deployments in the world. The Army Timesappears to respect their intelligence. The New York Times and its sister publications, on the other hand, seem to think that their readers will believe anything, no matter how ridiculous on its face. For example, The Times has adopted the new practice of calling U.S. bases in Iraq "fortified compounds." Combat soldiers, you see, live on bases. Personnel involved in advising and assisting Iraqis live in fortified compounds.

"Powerful figures in the Obama administration say they are confident they can talk the Iraqis into allowing 10,000 uniformed American troops to stay in the country after the deadline."

In addition to the fantasy reporting, American military and civilian authorities are conducting fantasy arguments behind closed doors about whether the U.S. is going to withdraw all of its military forces, regardless of the nomenclature, by the end 0f 2011 - as required by solemn agreement with the Iraqis. One faction favors deploying a force of up to 10,000 mercenaries, complete with their own armored trucks, air force and missile-firing drones. But powerful figures in the Obama administration say they are confident they can talk the Iraqis into allowing 10,000 uniformed American troops to stay in the country after the deadline. Certainly, billions of dollars in bribes can sometimes work wonders - but U.S. plans for an eternity in Iraq have repeatedly been thwarted by the Iraqi people, themselves.

One thing is perfectly clear: the United States is an empire that has never voluntarily withdrawn from any of its bases or "fortified compounds." The Americans are playing word games. They will leave Iraq only when they are forced to do so.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20100825_gf_Iraq.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:03 AM

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

For more than 50 years, the Royal Dutch Shell corporation and its Nigerian government partners have inflicted the world's worst oil pollution on the people of the Niger River Delta. Now, the United Nations squanders its dwindling prestige to help whitewash the vast environmental and human rights crime. According to a UN report, the Nigerian people are to blame for soaking the Delta in 9 to 13 million barrels of oil. 

UN Report Whitewashes Mass Murder, Ecocide by Shell Oil and Nigerian Government

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

"The United Nations has attempted to facilitate a corporate-government cover-up of monumental dimensions."

In July of last year, Amnesty International released a report, documenting the vast environmental and human rights degradations imposed on the people of the Niger River Delta by 50 years of oil exploration and production. Amnesty International sent a letter to Peter Voser, the newly appointed CEO of Royal Dutch Shell, the dominant company in the Delta oil fields, asking him to "come clean" on the "failures and poor practice" of both Shell and the Nigerian government. A little over a year later, Royal Dutch Shell and the Nigerian government have presented their answer, in the form of a monstrous whitewash produced in collusion with an agency of the United Nations.

The United Nations Environmental Program study, which was paid for by Shell oil, rewrites history to blame 90 percent of the region's pollution on spills caused by local people, tapping into oil pipelines and from sabotage by guerilla groups. The United Nations agency admits that it only studied 300 petroleum spill sites on a list given to it by Shell oil, and vouched for by Shell's partners in the Nigerian government. The true scope of Niger River Delta pollution is catastrophic, with the equivalent of 9 to 13 million barrels of oil fouling the waterways, farmlands and mangrove forests of Africa's largest wetland. That's at least twice as much oil as escaped in the recent Gulf of Mexico disaster, thus ranking Nigeria and Shell as the number one oil polluters in the world. Now the two super-polluters try to blame the people for their own half-century of crimes.

The UN agency is now backtracking, claiming its study is not yet done and there will be no report until early next year. The figures used in the study, the UN says, are the responsibility of the Nigerian government and Shell oil. If that is the case, then the study has no credibility whatsoever.

"The two super-polluters try to blame the people for their own half-century of crimes."

Twenty-seven years ago, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, itself, noted the "slow poisoning of the waters...and the destruction of vegetation and agricultural land by oil spills which occur during petroleum operations." The 1983 report declared that, "since the inception of the oil industry in Nigeria, more than twenty-five years ago, there has been no concerned and effective effort on the part of the government, let alone the oil operators, to control environmental problems associated with the industry." Thus, 27 years ago, the oil companies and the government had already been committing environmental crimes against the people of the Niger River Delta for a quarter of a century. It is commonly accepted that oil tapping by local people and guerilla sabotage are relatively recent phenomena.

Shell Oil and the Nigerian government have no shame. Delta residents fear the UN report will be used as an excuse for stepped up Nigerian government military operations in the region. There is also good reason to worry that the United States might seize on the UN report to add an environmental justification for its expanding military activities in West Africa. The United Nations, once the hope of the planet, has in this instance attempted to facilitate a corporate-government cover-up of monumental dimensions. But the evidence cannot be hidden. It oozes from every nook and cranny of the Niger River Delta. And the people know how it got there.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to www.BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

Direct download: 20100825_gf_NigeriaOil.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:26 AM