The descent was gradual—a slide into the tawdry, the trivial and the inane, into the charade on cable news channels such as Fox and MSNBC in which hosts hold up corporate political puppets to laud or ridicule, and treat celebrity foibles as legitimate news. But if I had to pick a date when commercial television decided amassing corporate money and providing entertainment were its central mission, when it consciously chose to become a carnival act, it would probably be Feb. 25, 2003, when MSNBC took Phil Donahue off the air because of his opposition to the calls for war in Iraq
Donahue and Bill Moyers, the last honest men on national television, were the only two major TV news personalities who presented the viewpoints of those of us who challenged the rush to war in Iraq. General Electric and Microsoft—MSNBC’s founders and defense contractors that went on to make tremendous profits from the war—were not about to tolerate a dissenting voice. Donahue was fired, and at PBS Moyers was subjected to tremendous pressure. An internal MSNBC memo leaked to the press stated that Donahue was hurting the image of the network. He would be a “difficult public face for NBC in a time of war,” the memo read. Donahue never returned to the airwaves.
The celebrity trolls who currently reign on commercial television, who bill themselves as liberal or conservative, read from the same corporate script. They spin the same court gossip. They ignore what the corporate state wants ignored. They champion what the corporate state wants championed. They do not challenge or acknowledge the structures of corporate power. Their role is to funnel viewer energy back into our dead political system—to make us believe that Democrats or Republicans are not corporate pawns. The cable shows, whose hyperbolic hosts work to make us afraid self-identified liberals or self-identified conservatives, are part of a rigged political system, one in which it is impossible to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, General Electric or ExxonMobil. These corporations, in return for the fear-based propaganda, pay the lavish salaries of celebrity news people, usually in the millions of dollars. They make their shows profitable. And when there is war these news personalities assume their “patriotic” roles as cheerleaders, as Chris Matthews—who makes an estimated $5 million a year—did, along with the other MSNBC and Fox hosts.
It does not matter that these celebrities and their guests, usually retired generals or government officials, got the war terribly wrong. Just as it does not matter that Francis Fukuyama and Thomas Friedman were wrong on the wonders of unfettered corporate capitalism and globalization. What mattered then and what matters now is likability—known in television and advertising as the Q score—not honesty and truth. Television news celebrities are in the business of sales, not journalism. They peddle the ideology of the corporate state. And too many of us are buying.
The lie of omission is still a lie. It is what these news celebrities do not mention that exposes their complicity with corporate power. They do not speak about Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act, a provision that allows the government to use the military to hold U.S. citizens and strip them of due process. They do not decry the trashing of our most basic civil liberties, allowing acts such as warrantless wiretapping and executive orders for the assassination of U.S. citizens. They do not devote significant time to climate scientists to explain the crisis that is enveloping our planet. They do not confront the reckless assault of the fossil fuel industry on the ecosystem. They very rarely produce long-form documentaries or news reports on our urban and rural poor, who have been rendered invisible, or on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan or on corporate corruption on Wall Street. That is not why they are paid. They are paid to stymie meaningful debate. They are paid to discredit or ignore the nation’s most astute critics of corporatism, among them Cornel West, Medea Benjamin, Ralph Nader and Noam Chomsky. They are paid to chatter mindlessly, hour after hour, filling our heads with the theater of the absurd. They play clips of their television rivals ridiculing them and ridicule their rivals in return. Television news looks as if it was lifted from Rudyard Kipling’s portrait of the Bandar-log monkeys in “The Jungle Book.” The Bandar-log, considered insane by the other animals in the jungle because of their complete self-absorption, lack of discipline and outsized vanity, chant in unison: “We are great. We are free. We are wonderful. We are the most wonderful people in all the jungle! We all say so, and so it must be true.”
When I reached him by phone recently in New York, Donahue said of the pressure the network put on him near the end, “It evolved into an absurdity.” He continued: “We were told we had to have two conservatives for every liberal on the show. I was considered a liberal. I could have Richard Perle on alone but not Dennis Kucinich. You felt the tremendous fear corporate media had for being on an unpopular side during the ramp-up for a war. And let’s not forget that General Electric’s biggest customer at the time was Donald Rumsfeld [then the secretary of defense]. Elite media features elite power. No other voices are heard.”
Donahue spent four years after leaving MSNBC making the movie documentary “Body of War” with fellow director/producer Ellen Spiro, about the paralyzed Iraq War veteran Tomas Young. The film, which Donahue funded himself, began when he accompanied Nader to visit Young in the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
“Here is this kid lying there whacked on morphine,” Donahue said. “His mother, as we are standing by the bed looking down, explained his injuries. ‘He is a T-4. The bullet came through the collarbone and exited between the shoulder blades. He is paralyzed from the nipples down.’ He was emaciated. His cheekbones were sticking out. He was as white as the sheets he was lying on. He was 24 years old. … I thought, ‘People should see this. This is awful.’ ”
Donahue noted that only a very small percentage of Americans have a close relative who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan and an even smaller number make the personal sacrifice of a Tomas Young. “Nobody sees the pain,” he said. “The war is sanitized.”
“I said, ‘Tomas, I want to make a movie that shows the pain, I want to make a movie that shows up close what war really means, but I can’t do it without your permission,’ ” Donahue remembered. “Tomas said, ‘I do too.’ ”
But once again Donahue ran into the corporate monolith: Commercial distributors proved reluctant to pick up the film. Donahue was told that the film, although it had received great critical acclaim, was too depressing and not uplifting. Distributors asked him who would go to see a film about someone in a wheelchair. Donahue managed to get openings in Chicago, Seattle, Palm Springs, New York, Washington and Boston, but the runs were painfully brief.
“I didn’t have the money to run full-page ads,” he said. “Hollywood often spends more on promotion than it does on the movie. And so we died. What happens now is that peace groups are showing it. We opened the Veterans for Peace convention in Miami. Failure is not unfamiliar to me. And yet, I am stunned at how many Americans stand mute.”
Chris Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years.
A government whistleblower, disclosing classified secrets, risks criminal charges. Defining restricted material usually includes a broad scope of information that casts officials or agencies in a compromising embarrassment. The idea that public servants may be engaged in violating laws is no excuse for blowing the whistle on such abuses if it involves “National Security”. This protect the state attitude at all cost argument, is the very definition of institutional cover-up. In war, truth is the first casualty, so said Aeschylus.
So throwing the book at Bradley Manning comes as no surprise. Why should anyone be concerned about the intentional dissemination of raw evidence about war crimes, committed in the name of the War of Terror? Most would fail to be moved by the motivations of a stoic prisoner, who uploaded secured computer files to WikiLeaks. Many would cheer his interminable incarceration for disclosing military records.
Yet, before you slam the jail shut, reflect upon the Secretly Recorded Audio Leaked of Bradley Manning’s Court Statement. Listen to the Full Statement.
Also, view the YouTube video, Bradley Manning Tells Court Public Have the Right to Know About US War Crimes.A cogent reaction from another renowned whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg of the Pentagon Papers fame, carries the weight of a brave man from another era.
“It’s important to remember through all this that Manning has already pled guilty to ten charges of violating military regulations (few of which, if any would be civilian crimes) and faces twenty years in jail. Yet the prosecutors are still going ahead with the absurd charge of “aiding the enemy,” a capital offense, of which the prosecutors are asking for life in prison.
Nixon could have brought that charge against me too. I was revealing wrongdoing by our government in a public way, and that information could have been read by our enemies in Vietnam. Of course, I never had that intent and Manning didn’t either. We both leaked information to provoke a domestic debate about military force and government secrecy. And to say we did so to aid the enemy is absurd.”
In any political trial, the spirit of the law is sacrificed for the expediency of protecting a debased regime. Balance in prosecution is a concept unknown to a government consumed with punishing any perceived enemy of the state.
Attorney Floyd Abrams and Professor Yochai Benkler provide a thoughtful perspective and legal opinion in The New York Times editorial - Death to Whistle-Blowers?
“Under the prosecution’s theory, because Private Manning knew the materials would be published and that Al Qaeda could read them once published, he indirectly communicated with the enemy. But in this theory, whether publication is by WikiLeaks or The Times is entirely beside the point. Defendants are guilty of “aiding the enemy” for leaking to a publishing medium simply because that publication can be read by anyone with an Internet connection.
Private Manning’s guilty plea gives the prosecution an opportunity to rethink its strategy. The extreme charges remaining in this case create a severe threat to future whistle-blowers, even when their revelations are crystal-clear instances of whistle-blowing. We cannot allow our concerns about terrorism to turn us into a country where communicating with the press can be prosecuted as a capital offense.”
No such mercy from the imperial empire, Manning must suffer the supreme wrath for his transgressions. His admissions acknowledge expected official sanctions, but the sentiment of Daniel Ellsberg reflects the standpoint of many Manning supporters.
“…For the third straight year, Manning has been nominated for the Noble Peace Prize by, among others, Tunisian parliamentarians. Given the role the WikiLeaks cables played in the Arab Spring, and their role in speeding up the end of the Iraq War, I can think of no one more deserving who is deserving of the peace prize.
He’s also deserving of the Congressional Medal of Honor. This medal, awarded by Congress-and not the executive branch-is given to military personnel, who during wartime, do what they should do for their country and their comrades, at the greatest risk to themselves.”
Another target of recrimination, seen in the Sibel Edmonds dismissal is a classic example of punishing the whistleblower. Edmonds took a job as a translator at the FBI shortly after 9-11. Her story, stated in the YouTube interview, The Government Is Raping You: Sibel Edmonds, is compelling.
“Edmonds found at the FBI translation unit almost entirely two types of people. The first group was corrupt sociopaths, foreign spies, cheats and schemers indifferent to or working against U.S. national security. The second group was fearful bureaucrats unwilling to make waves. The ordinary competent person with good intentions who risks their job to “say something if you see something” is the rarest commodity. Hence the elite category that Edmonds found herself almost alone in: whistleblowers.”
This characterization of morally challenged federal employees is a direct consequence of a system that protects the cover-ups, while punishing disclosure of conflicting evidence of outright corruption. The silent culture of concealment or the worse incentive system of collusion runs the governing bureaucracies.
The presstitutes in the establishment media enable the warmongering protection racket as a condition of employment. Their lack of investigative reporting is only superseded by their ominous distortion of real patriotic loyalty. Whistleblowers function as detectives doing the job that reporters abdicate. Woefully, so few citizens of conscience are willing to jeopardize their individual circumstance for the courage of genuine national security.
The always insightful, William F. Jasper of the New American writes in Sibel Edmonds’ “Classified Woman”.
“Unfortunately, most of Edmonds’ contributing editors at BoilingFrogs are decidedly left of center, and their anti-globalist, anti-war, anti-police-state arguments and analyses tend to range from the “progressive” to the Marxoid. However, when she went public and came under attack, it wasn’t Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh who came to her defense; it was the anti-Bush Left that rallied to her aid. In fact, the faux conservatives at FOX, National Review, and the radio talk show universe alternately ignored and attacked her; they were busy cheerleading George W. Bush’s unconstitutional wars abroad and his unconstitutional police-state measures at home. Sympathetic coverage for Edmonds from alternative media on the Right has been woefully lacking, with a few exceptions.
In April 2011, Sibel Edmonds submitted her manuscript for Classified Womanto the FBI for review, as required by terms of her employment agreement. Under that agreement, the FBI has 30 days to approve and/or require deletions and revisions. After waiting over 340 days with no response from the bureau, Edmonds took the path that few others have taken; she published anyway. However, with every publisher afraid to touch it, she was forced to publish it on her own. She knows that any day now the Obama administration, which has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all previous administrations combined, may come after her.”
Forget about the false left-right paradigm. The “War of Terror” being waged by the imperium empire is designed to crush whistleblowers, and keep the brain dead in a zombie trance. Just consider the impact on the Afghanistan campaign if the FBI acted upon the evidence unclosed by Sibel Edmonds that cuts to the heart of the 911 myth assumptions.
The military-industrial-security-intelligence complex closes ranks to protect their “Splendid Little Wars“. The whistleblowers that expose the lies out of the War Party establishment are only a minor distraction, as long as the public sleeps in their self-induced coma. The Army Times item, Hagel to order review of drone medal precedence, is one such interlude, while the control and command structure continues to aim their weapons at imaginary threats.
Who would doubt that the Bradley Mannings and Sibel Edmonds, squealers of state secrets, would be prime quarries for the hunt to eliminate enemies of the state? The only good government snitch is a Gitmo captive. So goes the claims of the governance prosecutors.
How many people have actually examined the information in the Manning WikiLeak disclosures or read the Edmonds account of 911-treason complicity? Oh no, the discomfort of confronting the fake reality of the official story of make believe is too disturbing for most people.
Loyalty of country is a very dangerous attitude, when your government sponsors state terrorism as a normal activity. The fear to face up to the horrors of administration deceit is the prime activity of the flag waving drones that cheer for more carnage.
When Edmonds describes the traitors within the national security structure, the fearful bureaucrats facilitate the ongoing treachery that passes for nationalism. When Manning exposes the documents that prove a genocide policy is in effect, the penalty demanded by the bellicose command is his execution.
An honorable whistleblower is a citizen hero. Disobeying dishonest laws is true patriotism. In the end, A Different Philosophy of Civil Disobedience, is needed. Complacency is the countrywide disease of choice. Real patriots oppose jingoistic orders. Stand down.
Well, Barak Obama got his wish on the second try. With the confirmation of John Owen Brennan by the Senate, the CIA has a new director from their own ranks. “Brennan’s 25 years with the CIA included work as a Near East and South Asia analyst, as station chief in Saudi Arabia, and as director of the National Counterterrorism Center.” He proudly attests, “I’m neither Republican nor Democrat. I’ve worked for the past five administrations.” Imagine a non-partisan spook as D/CIA. If this development is intended to restore confidence in the agency, just what kind of organization will emerge from a careerist covert agent at the helm?
The role of a spy network is to obtain intelligence and analyze the significance of information on advocacies bent on causing harm to our national security. Notwithstanding, its long history, the CIA has departed from the art of spying and often substituted the belligerent waging of combat outside the international general rules of war. The aftermaths of condoning a sub rosa intervention, in place of a declared military action, has transformed and prevented the meaning and legitimacy of a valid national security function.
The net result of sanctioning surreptitious operations outside the command of the military branches, has allowed the CIA to evolve into a free-lance warfare entity that often betrays the constitutional republic. Loyalty to the “Agency” often supersedes a pledge of allegiance to the nation. Within this context, the Brennan appointment signals a dangerous escalation of black op missions, using mercenary contactors, which conceal political fallout and provide the cover of plausible deniability.
The use of CIA drones to assassinate expected terrorists with impunity is a major technological departure from intelligence gathering. The indiscriminate elimination of suspected targets with drone bombing that knowingly causes collateral damage is a war crime. The institutional operatives of the agency discard the fact that America is less secure from the inevitable blowback that such killing produces.
The recent Drone Strikes Protest provides some of the real inconvenient truths about the reign of terror from Hellfire missiles.
“Brennan has continuously denied that drones cause collateral damage, claiming in a July 2011 speech that not a single “collateral” death had taken place as a result of drone strikes in Pakistan, a view he continued to uphold during his Senate hearings. However, this was proven false by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which found that out of a total of 311 drone strikes ordered by the Obama administration, between 473-893civilians were killed, many of them reportedly children.”
Whatever public embarrassment that Brennan suffers is neatly deferred in the video report that CIA’s covert drone program may shift further onto Pentagon. The inference to believe that the architect of the drone strategy wants to shift the robot mission under military command is suspect.
A far more plausible assessment from The Guardian item, CIA veteran who became Obama’s drone champion, warns of even bigger roles in the future, under the Brennan guidance.
“John O Brennan is a key architect of that change by stealth of the nature of the CIA,” said Scott Horton, a contributing editor on national security to Harper’s magazine and a lecturer at Columbia Law School. “I think there’s no question in which direction he would push the CIA. It would be towards a greater militarization, and a more prominent role being played in these drone-type operations.
“And the drones are just the beginning of it. The CIA has its toe there, but we’re going to see the CIA probably take a very prominent role in robotic warfare.”
The fundamental argument that Brennan seeks to expand the role of CIA “private army” aggression should give pause to any patriot. However, the NeoCons are working double time to discredit Brennan on an entirely different level. World Net Daily publishes the article, Shock claim: Obama picks Muslim for CIA chief.
“As WND has reported, former FBI Islam expert John Guandolo has long warned that the federal government is being infiltrated by members of the radical Muslim Brotherhood. But Guandolo now warns that by appointing Brennan to CIA director, Obama has not only chosen a man “naïve” to these infiltrations, but also picked a candidate who is himself a Muslim.”
“Mr. Brennan did convert to Islam when he served in an official capacity on the behalf of the United States in Saudi Arabia,” Guandolo told interviewer and radio host Tom Trento.
“That fact alone is not what is most disturbing,” Guandolo continued. “His conversion to Islam was the culmination of a counterintelligence operation against him to recruit him. The fact that foreign intelligence service operatives recruited Mr. Brennan when he was in a very sensitive and senior U.S. government position in a foreign country means that he either a traitor … [or] he has the inability to discern and understand how to walk in those kinds of environments, which makes him completely unfit to be the director of Central Intelligence.”
Now watch the YouTube video, Beck It Is Plausible That CIA Nominee John Brennan Is An Islamic Convert, from the renown Zionist proponent that will go to any length to keep the faux, War on Terror, hysteria going. While the determination that Brennan is ”unfit to be the director of Central Intelligence“ is correct, the basis upon which he is unqualified should not be based upon his alleged Islam conversion.
The emphasis and need for verifiable intelligence to protect against existential threats must account for dangers that far exceed what is coming out of the backwaters of Afghanistan. Where is the acknowledgement that China is engaged in significant and pervasive acts of war against our economic and cyber security networks?
For students of the clandestine paramilitary record, the information from the Church Committee Hearings regarding a Timeline of CIA Operations is revealing. The prospects of another venture into the deep secret failures during the era that Brennan and his cohorts conducted their trade are remote. Just consider the refinement in the use of plausible deniability, when the technocrats are in charge of the stealthy termination machine.
“The doctrine of plausible deniability led to many of the widespread abuses of power that occurred in the CIA before the Intelligence Reform Era in the mid-1970s. It led the agency to believe that CIA officers had a green light to conduct almost any actions they saw fit to reach their goals.”
“One of the major reasons that the CIA has gone astray over the last forty years is the veritable freedom from any type of control or restriction that it has enjoyed. Though Congress investigated the activities of the Agency in 1975 and subsequently instituted more stringent oversight procedures, the CIA of today is once again an agency that is able to do almost as it pleases.”
Former CIA intelligence officer, Michael F. Scheuer in his essay, John Brennan as CIA chief would serve his own interests, not America’s, cites examples from his sycophant career. Read the Scheuer comments for each illustration and his conclusion: ”The foregoing four points, I think, provide firm substantive ground on which to evaluate Mr. Brennan’s fitness to be chief of the CIA, and will allow his reputation for servile toadyism and deception to be left aside.”
Another retired CIA authority, Philip Giraldi makes a significant point in the American Conservative article, CIA After the War on Terror.
“Brennan was not questioned at all about the conflict of interest or ethical issues raised by the revolving door that he benefited from when he left CIA as deputy executive director in 2005 and joined a British-owned company, The Analysis Corporation (TAC), where he was named CEO. He almost certainly made millions when CIA and other federal agencies awarded TAC contracts to develop biometrics and set up systems to manage the government’s various watch lists.”
The essential question about Brennan is whether he is an independent thinking professional or just another political hack, gaming the intelligence community culture. So how much solace can one take from the White House, Holder respond to Rand Paul: ‘The answer is no’, response?
“Attorney General Eric Holder wrote Sen. Rand Paul,R-Ky., to confirm that President Obama does not have the authority to kill an American on U.S. soil in a non-combat situation, Obama’s spokesman announced today.”
Does anyone really believe that the CIA adheres to the Congressional restriction on operating inside country? What might be expected from a new Director that takes his oath of office on a draft of the Constitution that did not include the Bill of Rights?
The Jihad that Americans should be concerned about is the one waged by the intelligence community against the principles of our nation. John Brennan’s selection as CIA Drone Director has the sign of payback. He would reliably keep the American people in the dark. The David Petraeus forced resignation was more about silencing disclosure about Benghazi gunrunning to supply Syrian CIA backed factions, than a sex scandal. Brennan is a poor choice to defend liberty.
What is it going to take for pastors and churches to wake up and realize that America is in the throes of a burgeoning police state? Ladies and gentlemen, the long-standing veneration for law and order does not include blind submission to governmental abuse of power. Yet, it seems that very few Christian conservatives are even paying attention to what is happening before their very eyes.
For example, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has purchased over 2 billion rounds of hollow-point ammunition (enough to wage a 30-year war); the DHS has purchased over 7,000 AR-15s. The DHS calls them Personal Defense Weapons (PDW). These are the same semi-automatic rifles with high capacity magazines that when you and I buy them are called “assault rifles.” Plus, the DHS has purchased over 2,700 armored vehicles, the same kind that the US military uses in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Department of Defense (DOD) calls them MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected). They carry .50 caliber weapons that fire from inside the vehicle. The vehicle itself is impervious to mines and small-arms fire. They are the vehicle of choice for our combat troops in the Middle East.
See this report at Investor’s Business Daily:
Pray tell, why does the DHS need that kind of firepower? And who do they anticipate using all of this firepower on?
If all of that isn’t disconcerting enough, we have now learned that the DHS has spent 2 million dollars on producing shooting targets of American gun owners. These are called “non-traditional threat” targets. They include pregnant women, elderly citizens, mothers in playgrounds, and even little children. These targets are produced by a company called Law Enforcement Targets, Inc. The company calls these targets “No More Hesitation” targets.
To see a report and photos of the targets, go to:
What is the DHS planning to do? Turn the entire continental United States into one big giant Waco?
Can one imagine the reaction by the DHS if a company was producing shooting targets depicting law enforcement officers?
I guess another question I have is who are the people whose faces appear on these targets? Did they know they were being photographed to be used on a shooting target? Or were their images photoshopped? Whose mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, daughter, son, and child are being used for these targets? I wonder how many Americans whose loved ones appear on these targets know that the photographs of their family members are being used as targets for DHS agents to shoot at. And how would any of you like it if those targets bore the photographs of YOUR loved ones?
This is bizarre! If this wasn’t so very, very real, one would think that it was one big practical joke. But it is no joke!
While our own domestic federal police department (a blatantly unconstitutional entity, by the way) is arming itself to the teeth, our President and Vice President are in a full-court press trying to disarm the American citizenry of their most effective and efficient self-defense tool: the semi-automatic rifle. Are we supposed to believe that all of this is mere coincidence? It is true that I was born in the morning, but it was not yesterday morning!
Adding to our cause for concern is the way our veterans are being treated (or should I say mistreated) by the federal government. As far back as 2009, returning Iraq and Afghan War veterans have been labeled as potentially “dangerous extremists” by the DHS (along with people who are pro-life; people who support Ron Paul, Bob Barr, and yours truly; people who believe the US should get out of the UN; people who are opposed to the “New World Order;” people who believe in the Second Coming of Jesus Christ; etc.). Today, more and more veterans are being labeled with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), and other such names, and being told that they are not fit to possess a firearm.
In addition, under President Obama’s recent Executive Order, physicians, both military and civilian, are quizzing their patients regarding firearms and have the potential authority to write a derogatory diagnosis about a patient that could be used as an excuse for the government to deny his or her right to keep and bear arms. (If you have a physician that asks you any questions regarding firearms, my advice is to find another doctor immediately!)
My friends, our country is being transformed into an Orwellian society right before our eyes! All the while, most pastors and churches seem to be completely oblivious to it. And, of course, most of the reporters and journalists in the mainstream media are nothing more than compliant propagandists for anything Big-Government. The same is true for most educators in our major colleges and universities.
But it is the apathy, indifference, and blindness of our pastors and churches that is the most disconcerting. The most influential group of leaders in America is still the pastors–the trend away from traditional churches notwithstanding. There are over 300,000 evangelical churches in the United States. Can one imagine what would happen in this country if half of these pastors would get up in their pulpits this Sunday and sound the clarion call to stand up and fight these insidious encroachments against our liberties? What if 25% would? What would happen if only 10% would rise up and take a stand?
Dear Christian friend, how can you stay in a church where the pastor will not take a stand for your liberties? How can you give such a church your tithes and offerings? Do you not realize that any pastor and church that refuses to fight and protect your liberties is helping to put the shackles of tyranny and oppression around the necks of your families?
Regardless of how sound you believe your pastor to be doctrinally, or how educated he is, or how much Hebrew and Greek he knows, or how warm and caring he is, or how much you personally like him, if he is not willing to take a public stand for your liberties, he is a willing accomplice to the demise of our republic and the rise of totalitarianism in this land–as surely as the pastors of Germany were accomplices to the rise of Hitler’s Third Reich!
Christian, please wake up! A police state is being constructed before your very eyes. Your liberties are being systematically expunged. While you are waving your hands and praising Jesus, the enemies of liberty are laying the nets and traps around your homes and communities that are going to be used to enslave you. While you are fixated on your pastor and church staying doctrinally pure, the barbed-wire fences are being built around the camps in which your children and grandchildren will be incarcerated. While you sit comfortably on the padded pews in your heated and air conditioned church sanctuary and listen to an inspiring sermon that makes you feel warm and fuzzy all over, the sacred principles that protect your right to freely worship, and speak, and defend your family are disappearing.
Beyond that, not only are many thousands of pastors not resisting this emerging police state; they are actively and enthusiastically joining with the big-government toadies in helping to eviscerate our freedoms. Is your pastor one of these? If so, you might as well be listening to sermons written by Joseph Goebbels.
Big-Government propagandists love to couch submission to oppression under the guise of patriotic duty to law and order. But submission to oppression is not patriotic; it is imbecilic! And make no mistake about it: the attempt to outlaw, ban, and confiscate our firearms, especially our semi-automatic rifles, has nothing to do with law and order; it has everything to do with overt oppression. To such an egregious encroachment against our liberty there can be no submission, only determined, resolute resistance.
With would-be tyrants attacking our liberties with such a vengeance, and with such a ubiquitous display of apathy and indifference by most pastors and churches, my constitutional attorney son and I have written a brand new book entitled, “To Keep Or Not To Keep: Why Christians Should Not Give Up Their Guns.” This book is sure to be a blockbuster!
There are numerous books out there which examine the right to keep and bear arms that are written from a constitutional perspective, but we know of no modern book that takes an in-depth scriptural look at the right to keep and bear arms. Well, that’s what our new book does. It is a thorough examination of both the Old and New Testament regarding the right of self-defense. In this book, Tim and I show conclusively that nowhere does the Bible teach Christians (or anyone else, Christian or not) should surrender their arms. Nowhere does the Bible teach Christians (or anyone else) are obligated to obey the laws of men that would deny a man his God-given, Natural right of self-defense. NOWHERE!
The book will be released very soon. We are taking pre-orders now. Orders are coming in very fast. To be assured of getting your copy, I suggest you pre-order the book now. Go to:
All this talk about submitting to the government NO MATTER WHAT is simply a bunch of propagandist-hooey! And dear Christian friend, if your pastor is teaching this fallacy, not only is he teaching a serious error, he is an enemy to freedom! Get out of his church immediately! He has sold his soul to tyrants; and he is leading your family into tyranny.
Our country is being turned into a police state. What is it going to take for pastors and churches to awaken to this stark reality? Christian, please wake up!
P.S. To see our list of pastors who are on public record as standing strong for the Second Amendment, go to:
If you don’t see your pastor’s name in the list, you might want to ask him why.
David Pratt, my favorite war correspondent (besides myself, of course), just wrote an excellent article describing the BBC’srecent interview with Tony Blair – wherein Blair repeatedly made embarrassingly ineffective attempts to excuse and defend his indefensible and inexcusable actions regarding the illegal invasion of Iraq ten years ago.
But one particular thing that Pratt wrote caught my eye bigtime. ”Challenged in the interview [emphasis mine] on what kind of mandate or legal basis would be required for military action in Syria,” wrote Pratt, “Mr. Blair dismissed the role of the UN as readily now as he did back in the days leading up to the Iraq war.”
Might this actually mean that somebody in the British mainstream media actually came up with the integrity and guts to actually challenge Tony Blair live on nationalTV? That’s amazing.
But where, exactly, was this brave and intrepid reporter back when we needed him most — back in 2003,when nobody in the mainstream media ever challenged Tony Blair or even thought of challenging him. Nobody. And also, where were the intrepid reporters back then who had the cojones to challenge George W. Bush as well? 2003 was definitely not our mainstream media’s finest hour.
But it’s still not too late. Our mainstream media canstill spring into action and demand the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth from Mr. Blair (and also from Mr. Bush and even from Mr. Obama as well) –and win a Pulitzer Prize doing it too.
And then perhaps some intrepid souls in the mainstream media might even demand that the punishment fit the crime as well.
But Bush, Blair and Obama aren’t the only ones who have happily murdered folks for fun and profit — and gotten away with it too. Various courts in Haiti are, even as we speak, still trying to bring Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier into the dock of justice for his crimes – and are equally having no luck.
27 years after committing innumerable horrible atrocities between 1979 and 1986, Baby Doc is finally being subpoenaed for his crimes. Hey, maybe 27 yearsfrom now, Blair, Bush and Obama may finally get subpoenaed for their crimes too!
However, Baby Doc’s lawyers are apparently trying to postpone his trial, claiming that Duvalier’s statute of limitations are up. According to IPS News Service, “Duvalier was first indicted for crimes against humanity in 2008 and then again in 2011. But last year, the court suddenly ruled that he would only be tried for embezzlement, saying that the alleged abuses had taken place too long ago.”
No, no, no and no.
The statute of limitations for torture and murder are never, ever up — no matter what “Zero Dark Thirty” might lead us to believe. Baby Doc must pay for his crimes. And so must Blair, Bush, Cheney and even Obama.
I’m still trying to get to Haiti by the end of March, but so far things aren’t looking so good. Why? Because of problems with money, transportation, in-country contacts and even hotel accommodations. But wouldn’t it be any(non-mainstream-media) reporter’s dream come true to sit in on Baby Doc’s trial for murder in Haiti? That would be almost as good as being here in an American courtroom when Cheney, Bush and Obama go on trial for murder in the Middle East!
Since War Street has so obviously screwed up our own American interests in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Palestine and Syria, what makes us think that a war on Iran is gonna go any better?
War Street, however, has not screwed up their own interests in these countries at all — only ours. Trillions of dollars in profits have been pouring into War Street as a result of these cruel and unnecessary invasions. “Keep it coming!” cries War Street. And so Iran is now next. And once again all of us poor ”sequestered” fools in America will be paying for this whole new war adventure for the rest of our lives as well.
Here’s an article from the Washington Post that a friend of mine just sent me – her sons have served in Iraq and Afghanistan as Marines so she keeps on top of this kind of stuff. The article’s headline reads, “The U.S. may not have money for infrastructure repairs, but Afghanistan does.” Maybe some people in the MSM are finally getting it right after all.
On the front of the March 11, 2013 cover of Time Magazine, legless athlete Oscar Pistorius stands like a physical specimen held up by his prosthetic legs. The title reads, “Man, superman, gunman: Oscar Pistorius and South Africa’s culture of violence,” by Alex Perry.
“Don’t keep sweeping your troubles under the rug for someday you’ll trip over it.” Taylor Wapaha
While reading the article, I felt overwhelmed by the statistics: South Africa # 6 in the world for gun killings, 88 percent rise in home robberies in the past five years and total racial separation. Black poverty skyrocketed after the end of apartheid. Two surveys found: “…28 percent of men admitted to being rapists and 46 percent of victims were less than 16 years of age, 23 percent under 11 and 9 percent under six years old. Out of 3.5 million residents of Cape Town, 2.1 million live in shacks without toilets or running water.”
“In the townships, vigilante beatings and killings are the norm,” wrote Time writer Alex Perry. “South Africa’s private security industry employs 411,000 people, more than double the number of police officers. South Africa knows crime as a vast stretch of lawlessness covering an area twice the size of Texas. As much as $50 billion annually is lost to graft and crime.”
Much of Africa comprises dictators and unimaginable human brutality toward women. When you include the Muslim world’s honor killings of 5,000 women killed by fathers, brothers and husbands annually, you get a sick feeling in your stomach. While the world “rapes” Africa for its natural resources, its human residents suffer indescribable misery from Cape Town to Cairo. Note Egypt’s internal revolution, Syria killing of over 70,000 and Libya’s ongoing war, Somalia’s starving people, Sudan, etc.
What about human nature in America?
In my Denver Post, another equally disturbing article appeared by Lisa Wirthman: “I felt like I was dying inside.” (February 24, 2013) The rape victim said, “I was paralyzed by flashbacks, nightmares and anxiety attacks.”
Domestic violence in America:
- One in four U.S. adult women is a victim of domestic violence in her lifetime. A woman in America suffers a violent attack every 15 seconds 24/7. Four million abuse cases annually.
- Three women are killed by a current or former intimate partner each day in America.
(Source: Centers for Disease Control)
In America in the 21st century in a highly educated society: rape and brutality continue without pause.
In the meantime, our country brutalized and killed countless people in Iraq in a war started by George W. Bush via the fabrication of “Weapons of Mass Destruction.” David Brown, Washington Post staff writer said, “A team of American and Iraqi epidemiologists estimates that 655,000 more people have died in Iraq since coalition forces arrived in March 2003 than would have died if the invasion had not occurred.”
When it comes to mechanized violence, our U.S. Military killed over 2.1 million men, women and children in Vietnam. The total deaths from the 11 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan may total over one million human beings. How can our U.S. Congress act with such arrogance and self-righteousness to continue those wars for so long with so much cost and so much death? Yet, we sweep it under the rug and out of our minds.
War on Mother Nature succeeding
While we spend so much money on the “War on Terror”; “War on Poverty”; “War on Drugs” and other such “wars”, we fail dramatically. Ten years of war in Iraq did absolutely nothing whatsoever to protect the United States of America. Instead, it ravaged a sovereign society and flooded our country with tens of thousands of Muslim refugees. Same with Afghanistan!
Notwithstanding, our “War on Mother Nature” proceeds with blinding speed. We humans, in the blink of 50 years and the invention of plastic, managed to create the 100 million ton Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the size of Texas, floating 1,000 miles off San Francisco. It kills millions of marine and avian life annually. We have done nothing to stop adding to it. No deposit-return laws worldwide—no nothing.
(Unfathomable billions of pieces of plastic washing throughout the oceans, lakes, seas, rivers and streams of the world—all created by humans around the planet.) Photo by www.thewritefuture.com
“The world’s navies and commercial shipping fleets make a significant contribution, throwing some 639,000 plastic containers overboard every day, along with their other litter,” said ocean reporter Richard Grant. “But after a few more years of sampling ocean water in the gyre and near the mouths of Los Angeles streams, Moore concluded that 80 per cent of marine plastic was discarded on land. There are now 46,000 pieces of plastic per square kilometer of the world’s oceans, killing a million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals each year.”
(Endless plastic trash washes up on beaches around the world and kills wildlife by the millions.) Photo bywww.thewritefuture.com
In an Associated Press article by Verena Dobnic, “River of trash”, (March 3, 2013) she reports, “Just across the East river from midtown Manhattan’s shimmering skyscrapers sits one of the nation’s most polluted neighborhoods, fouled by generations of industrial waste, overflow from the city’s sewage system and an underground oil leak bigger than the Exxon Valdez spill. Oily, rainbow-slick water is filled with soda cans, plastic bottles, raw sewage and decaying food. Ditched vehicles are stuck in the mud. What was once a watershed is now a sewage shed. Today, the creek’s bottom is lined with 15 foot thick layer of petroleum-based pollutants that scientists have dubbed “black mayonnaise.”
(Wildlife eat the plastic trash that eventually kills them.) Photo by www.thewritefuture.com
With endless poisons injected into our rivers, the Mississippi River creates a 10,000 mile square dead-zone at its mouth. The Yangtze, Ganges and other great rivers create 20,000 square mile dead zones at their mouths. Yet, we humans do absolutely nothing to clean up our messes all over the planet.
I’ve tried for 40 years to get Peter Coors of Coors Brewing to support a 10 cent deposit return law in Colorado. Instead, his money killed our deposit-return efforts in Colorado in 1974 and 1988. Why do men and women with money and power in this country—do nothing for the good of our environment? Why do the men and women of our U.S. Congress do absolutely nothing for the good of our natural world?
What would solve so many of the aforementioned problems? Answer: first and foremost—education to create responsible citizens who care about their world, loving families, jobs, stable communities, recreation and a healthy natural world. Is it asking too much for our leaders to work for the betterment of our lives rather than endless wars, profits over humanity and destruction of planet?
In the end, with another 3.1 billion people projected to be added to this planet within the next 37 years, is there any hope for civility, care about our planet and care about our fellow human beings?
The Dow is at a record high and so are corporate profits – so why does it feel like most of the country is deeply suffering right now? Real household income is the lowest that it has been in a decade, poverty is absolutely soaring,47 million Americans are on food stamps and the middle class is being systematically destroyed. How can big corporations be doing so well while most American families are having such a hard time? Isn’t their wealth supposed to “trickle down” to the rest of us? Unfortunately, that is not how the real world works. Today, most big corporations are trying to minimize the number of “expensive” American workers on their payrolls as much as they can. If the big corporation that is employing you can figure out a way to replace you with a worker in China or with a robot, it will probably do it. Corporations are in existence to maximize wealth for their shareholders, and most of the time the largest corporations are dominated by the monopoly men of the global elite. Over the decades, the politicians that have their campaigns funded by these monopoly men have rigged the game so that the big corporations are able to easily dominate everything. But this was never what those that founded this country intended. America was supposed to be a place where the power of collectivist institutions would be greatly limited, and individuals and small businesses would be free to compete in a capitalist system that would reward anyone that had a good idea and that was willing to work hard. But today, our economy is completely and totally dominated by a massively bloated federal government and by absolutely gigantic predator corporations that are greatly favored by our massively bloated federal government. Our founders tried to warn us about the dangers of allowing government, banks and corporations to accumulate too much power, but we didn’t listen. Now they dominate everything, and the rest of us are fighting for table scraps.
In early America, most states had strict laws governing the size and scope of corporations. Individuals and small businesses thrived in such an environment, and the United States experienced a period of explosive economic growth. We showed the rest of the world that capitalism really works, and we eventually built the largest middle class that the world had ever seen.
But now we have replaced capitalism with something that I like to call “corporatism”. In many ways, it shares a lot of characteristics with communism, and that is why nations such as communist China have embraced it so readily. Under “corporatism”, monolithic predator corporations run around sucking up as much wealth and economic power as they possibly can. Most individuals and small businesses cannot compete and end up getting absorbed by the corporations. These mammoth collectivist institutions are in private hands rather than in government hands (as would be the case under a pure form of communism), but the results are pretty much the same either way. A tiny elite at the top gets almost all of the economic rewards.
There are some out there that would suggest that the answer to our problems is to move more in the direction of “socialism”, but to be honest that wouldn’t be the solution to anything. It would just change how the table scraps that the rest of us are getting are distributed.
If we truly wanted a return to prosperity, we need to dramatically shift the rules of the game so that they are tilted back in favor of individuals and small businesses. A much more pure form of capitalism would mean more wealth, less poverty and a more equitable distribution of the economic rewards in this country.
But it will never happen. Most of our politicians are married to the big corporations and the wealthy elitists that fund their campaigns. And most Americans are so uneducated that they believe that what we actually have today is “capitalism” and that the only alternative is to go “to the left” toward socialism.
Very few people out there are suggesting that we need to greatly reduce the power of the federal government and greatly reduce the power of the big corporations, but that is exactly what we need to do. We need to give individuals and small businesses room to breathe once again.
With each passing year, things get even worse. In fact, the founder of Subway Restaurants recently said that the environment for small businesses is so toxic in America today that he never would have been able to start Subway if he had to do it today.
For much more on how small business is being strangled to death in the United States, please see my previous article entitled “We Are Witnessing The Death Of Small Business In America“.
What I want to do now is to discuss some of the results that “corporatism” is producing in America.
First of all, we continue to see incomes go down even though we live in an inflationary economy.
As Time Magazine recently reported, personal incomes took a huge nosedive during the month of January…
Data released by the Commerce Department last week showed that personal income fell 3.6% in January, the biggest decline in 20 years. The drop was even bigger when taxes and inflation are taken into account. Real personal disposable income fell by 4%, the biggest monthly drop in half a century.
Real median US household income — that’s “real,” as in “adjusted for inflation” — was $50,054 in 2011, the most recent data available from the US Census Bureau. That’s 8% lower than the 2007 peak of $54,489.
Meanwhile, big corporations are absolutely raking in the cash. The following is from a recent New York Times article…
“So far in this recovery, corporations have captured an unusually high share of the income gains,” said Ethan Harris, co-head of global economics at Bank of America Merrill Lynch. “The U.S. corporate sector is in a lot better health than the overall economy. And until we get a full recovery in the labor market, this will persist.”
The result has been a golden age for corporate profits, especially among multinational giants that are also benefiting from faster growth in emerging economies like China and India.
Just check out the following chart. Corporate profits have absolutely exploded over the past decade…
Meanwhile, wages as a percentage of GDP continue to fall rapidly…
Most of the jobs being created in America today are “low wage” jobs. Tens of millions of Americans are working as hard as they can only to find that they can barely put food on the table and provide a roof over the heads of their children. The ranks of the “working poor” are exploding and the middle class continues to shrink.
Many of you that are reading this article are members of the working poor. You know what it is like to stare up at your ceiling at night wondering how you are going to pay the bills next month.
Today, most Americans are living very close to the edge financially. A recent article by NBC News staff writer Allison Linn shared some of their stories. The following is one example…
Crystal Dupont knows what it’s like to try to live on the federal minimum wage.
Dupont has no health insurance, so she hasn’t seen a doctor in two years. She’s behind on her car payments and has taken out pawn shop and payday loans to cover other monthly expenses. She eats beans and oatmeal when her food budget gets low.
When she got her tax refund recently, she used the money to get ahead on her light bill.
“I try to live within my means, but sometimes you just can’t,” said Dupont, 25. The Houston resident works 30 to 40 hours a week taking customer service calls, earning between $7.25 and $8 an hour. That came to about $15,000 last year.
It’s a wage she’s lived on for a while now, but just barely.
Sadly, the number of Americans that are “just barely” surviving continues to grow.
But if corporate profits are soaring to unprecedented heights, then who is getting all of those rewards?
The monopoly men of the global elite are.
Just check out the following video which does a great job of illustrating how corporatism has systematically funneled all of the economic rewards in our system to the very top…
Once again, I want to make it very clear that I am not advocating socialism as the answer in any way, shape or form. Socialism takes away the incentive to create wealth and it almost always results in almost all of the economic rewards going to a very tiny elite anyway.
As I said earlier, what we need is a return to a much more pure form of capitalism, but this is so foreign to the way that most people think that most people will not be able to grasp this.
It certainly would be possible to greatly reduce the power of the federal government and greatly reduce the power of the big corporations at the same time, but this is so “outside the box” for most people that they cannot even conceive of doing such a thing.
We need to create an environment where individuals and small businesses can thrive once again. But instead, most of us are content to continue “playing the game” and getting enslaved in even more debt.
For example, according to CNBC, auto loans just continue to get larger and continue to get stretched out for longer periods of time…
American car buyers, attracted by new models and cheap financing, are taking out bigger auto loans and stretching out the terms of those loans to a new record length.
New analysis from Experian Automotive shows the average new car loan in the fourth quarter of last year was $26,691 and stretched out over an average of 65 months. The length of the average loan is one month longer than the previous record set in the third quarter of last year.
What will they think of next?
Will we eventually have auto loans that get paid off over 10 years?
By the way, that is another way that the monopoly men of the global elite get all of our money. They enslave us to debt, and we spend year after year of our lives slaving away to make them even wealthier.
They are very smart. There is a reason why they have 32 TRILLION dollars stashed away in offshore tax havens. They know how to play the game, and they are very happy that most of the rest of us are asleep.
Fortunately, it appears that an increasing number of Americans are waking up.
For example, I wanted to share with you all an excerpt from a comment that one of my readers left on one of my recent articles…
In the past year, I’ve been slowly but surely waking up to the nonsense happening around me. There’s so many things I need to simply get off my chest, so excuse the length of this post. Recently in the past two years, I’ve gotten married and have been medically discharged from the Marines after being injured in Afghanistan. Being 23 years old and married, my goal is secure a secure a future for my family, but with the way things are going, I’m not exactly sure how much of a future we’re going to have in 50 years. I can’t explain it, but I’ve felt this need to change my attitude and motivations lately.
I started by turning off the garbage music, television and other mindless entertainment that seems to plague my generation. It was easier than it looked – I don’t miss most of it really. The next order of business was to educate myself on world news, so that’s what I did. Every day, like clockwork, I check all major mainstream news feeds (NBC, Fox, Abc, CNN, Reuters, BBC, etc.) as well as not-so-mainstream news sites – yours being one of them. It’s incredible how fast our world changes and the manner in which it changes. The local 10 o’clock doesn’t show anything but local news, sports, weather, lottery #’s and whatever else they decide to throw in. It’s a night and day difference once you start to actually research and see what’s happening all over the world. Look at the number of comments about a news story on the economy and then look at a celebrity story on the “news”….People are so blind, it truly amazes me. My friends, family and classmates at college seem to be under a spell of some sort. They’re distracted – and it’s contagious. Nobody I know gives a damn about global affairs/economics. They’re more interested in the newest iPhone, cars, shows, movies, and just about anything else you can think of. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with these things, but my friends/family/peers are CONSUMED by these distractions. When the election was taking place in 2012, every Tom, Dick and Harry on Facebook had an opinion and rant. After the circus ended however, everyone simply went back to posting about parties, kittens, Farmville etc. It’s a huge joke. For me, it’s little terrifying and exciting to see history unfolding in front of our eyes. This country of ours is going through big changes now that will most certainly affect our future, so I strive to adapt and prepare myself and my family. I’m looking at buying my first home this summer. Right now I live in an apartment right outside Philly and spend more money on rent than most pay for a mortgage. I need a house with a little land to raise chickens, grow fruits/vegetables, store canned food – and to be as independent from the system as I can. For my job, I wanted a skill/trade that people would always need, so I picked the funeral business. On the side, I work in construction and have been learning everything there is to know about building with my own two hands. I feel as though these old forgotten skills are going to be handy in a short while.
Hopefully we can get a lot more people to wake up and start breaking out of “the matrix” of control that is all around us.
Right now, the system is designed to continually funnel more money and more power to the very top of the pyramid. The global elite are becoming more dominant with each passing day. Unless something dramatic happens, at some point the American people will become so powerless that they won’t be able to do anything about it even if they wanted to.
The idea of a very tiny elite completely dominating all the rest of us goes against everything that America is supposed to stand for. In the end, it will result in absolute tyranny if it is not stopped.
Source: The Economic Collapse
The recent announcement that the United States would increase its “non lethal” military aid to Syria’s rebels shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Some speculated that Obama — having been repeatedly proved wrong about the Syria government’s stability — would leave Syria in silent humiliation.
Not so. The destruction of Syrian society will continue, indeed, increase. Although there are plenty of non-military options the Obama administration could pursue, he’s instead choosing the bloodiest course possible. Millions of Syrians have had their lives destroyed, and now millions more can look forward to a similar fate.
U.S. media outlets have reported that all of the hundreds of millions of dollars of U.S. aid to Syria’s rebels has been “non-lethal,” but the New York Times admitted recently:
“American [government] officials declined to discuss an ongoing covert program to train rebel fighters or the extent to which it has made a difference on the battlefield.”
It’s no exaggeration to say that Obama is helping to orchestrate the largest state-sponsored terror campaign since the still-simmering genocides of the Congo and Yugoslav wars. This fact has been completely hidden from the view of the U.S. public, but it’s a fact nonetheless.
For example, the only effective fighting force of the Syrian rebels, the Al Nusra Front, has been labeled a terrorist organization, even by the United States. Its frequent terrorist bombings have helped shred the fabric of Syrian society; its most recent massive car bombings killed 100 mostly-innocent people in central Damascus, including dozens of children and wounding hundreds more.
U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi denounced the latest terrorist attack as a “war crime.” But such labels do not get attached to allies of the United States. Obama is ignoring the countless similar attacks by Syria’s terrorist rebels, ensuring that such attacks will increase.
In fact, U.S. officials blocked a Russian-sponsored resolution at the United Nations Security Council condemning the recent terror bombings. Actions like these both minimize and encourage indiscriminate terrorist bombings.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s most recent announcement of U.S. aid to Syrian rebels made sure to mention that the aid will not go to “terrorists” — an absurd statement considering that the terrorists in Syria are the ones in power on the ground for the opposition. Of course most of the crucial aid will be funneled to them, no matter who initially receives it.
The Obama administration has been on a relentless search for a non-terrorist dominated Syrian opposition, only to fail and then re-start his quest. Initially the ‘Syrian National Council’ play-acted as the non-terrorist “revolutionary” opposition.
But Hillary Clinton later confronted reality and dumped the group, correctly labeling them as “… a bunch of out-of-touch exiles who should be replaced with a group more representative of the fighters on the ground.”
The same article referred to the Syrian National Council as “too accommodating to terrorists.”
Obama then sent Clinton on an international tour to discover and organize a brand new non-terrorist “legitimate” Syrian opposition. On her journey Clinton unearthed yet another group of handpicked rich Syrian exiles who hadn’t been in the country in decades, with no connections on the ground and, more importantly, zero military presence of any significance. Clinton re-named the group the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution, and unveiled her new offspring to glowing U.S. media acclaim. But Hillary’s latest baby was again born from smoke and mirrors. The New York Times reported:
“…the coalition has struggled to agree on a slate of governing leaders that would unite what is still a loosely allied organization, trying to weave together local councils, splinter organizations, disparate opposition groups and the loyalties of the armed units fighting the forces of President Bashar al-Assad.”
Obama now intends to buy the legitimacy of his new Syrian opposition, as part of the newly announced aid package. The New York Times shamelessly reports:
“one aim of the $60 million in [new] assistance is to help the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces build up its credibility within the country…”
Obama’s new “friends of Syria” would like the United States to destroy Syria. Many within the rag tag grouping are demanding a direct U.S. military intervention to topple the existing government.
Anyone who has paid attention to the Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libyan wars understands that U.S.-style regime change equals the destruction of a nation. The above three countries were all once independently functioning civilizations, but are now socially and economically destroyed and regionally fragmented, ruled by whomever in the region happens to have the most guns.
As millions of Syrians become internally and externally displaced refugees and the country obliterated, the Obama administration is purposely choosing not to settle the situation with diplomacy. Both Russia and Syria have made recent offers for negotiations. By rebuking these offers and aiding the rebels instead, Obama is choosing more mass slaughter.
“Syria is ready for talks with its armed opponents, Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem said on Monday, in the clearest offer yet to negotiate with rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad.”
The Obama Administration responds to the peace negotiations:
“…[Syria's Foreign Minister's] offer of talks drew a dismissive response from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who was starting a nine-nation tour of European and Arab capitals in London [to help organize the Syrian rebels yet again].”
Why does Obama choose war instead of peace? Because presently Obama cannot dictate his terms; the majority of Syria is still controlled by the Syrian government, which remains in a much more powerful bargaining position, a painfully stubborn fact.
Obama will thus continue to sponsor large-scale mass murder and ethnic-religious cleansing until his handpicked rebels gain enough power on the ground to negotiate a peace favorable to U.S. interests.
The Obama administration’s hands are awash with the blood of countless innocent Syrians, blood that promises to spill into Lebanon and other neighboring states as the region becomes destabilized along ethnic-religious lines. The “popular revolution” in Syria has long ago been replaced by foreign mercenary terrorists financed by Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The Obama administration has overseen this entire process, while actively trying to organize a respectable “public face” for the rebels.
Obama’s recent strides in Syria end with a logical conclusion: U.S. direct military intervention. The stage is still being set, waiting until optimal conditions are met for a Libyan style U.S./NATO mass-bombing mission to finish off the Syrian government. In the eyes of Obama the resulting disaster will be worth the mess, since a non-compliant regime to the U.S. will have been toppled, thus clearing the path for the long term plan of crushing Iran.
It appears that “affirmative action” reached the White House in 2008 and continues in 2013. Barack Obama, a freshman U.S. Senator from Illinois, with no expertise and no history of any accomplishment—scored an “affirmative action” victory that catapulted him into the highest job on this planet. To be fair, he ran against another incompetent by the name of John McCain.
Obama reached the White House with a silvery tongue and no experience whatsoever for running the most advanced, complex and in-debt country on Earth. At the time of his election victory in 2008, 36 million Americans subsisted on food stamps. Another 14 million Americans stood in unemployment lines. A full seven million suffered underemployment. Two wars raged costing taxpayers $12 billion a month. Illegal migration netted over 20 million border jumpers assisted housing, jobs, medical care for their babies, free schooling for their children and immunity from deportation.
The national debt in 2008 ran a mind-numbing $12 trillion. State debts ran into the billions. Consumer debt ran into the trillions. Obama promised to reduce global climate destabilization. At Obama’s inauguration, he promised jobs, reducing the debt, stopping the wars and restoring national pride. He promised too many things to too many people with no idea or talent or experience for solving this nation’s predicaments.
Several decades ago, our U.S. Congress created “affirmative action.” A person without qualifications, without enough education or skills, would be given a job over more qualified persons—because of their color. Millions of minority citizens grabbed jobs whether they qualified for those jobs or not. Government forced employers into quotas.
When someone lacks qualifications, everyone else in the workplace must pick up the slack; do more work, while the unqualified person enjoys the same wages and benefits. But no one can complain, gripe or show any distress for fear of being called names.
“I can’t do my job, if you don’t do yours. I also can’t do my job. Can you do mine, too?” Jarod Kintz
Today, our “affirmative action” President Barack Obama failed in his first four years and he failed dramatically.
Our national debt skyrocketed from $12 trillion to $16 trillion—and it’s headed for $20 trillion within the next four years. He lacks the personal dynamic and/or personal skills to stop it or hire someone who will stop it.
President John Adams said, “There are two ways to defeat a country: by the sword or by debt.” Mr. Obama pushes us toward that deadly cliff faster and faster.
While he enjoyed an “affirmative action” Nobel Peace Prize for doing nothing to stop our two wars in the first few months of his holding office, he allowed both wars to continue for most of his first four years. He finally pulled out of Iraq in his fourth year, but he continues waging war in a goat herder, third world country called Afghanistan. Ironically, more of our young kids have committed suicide in the U.S. military than have been killed in combat in Afghanistan. War scrambles a young man’s mind, but Obama never served, so he wouldn’t understand.
When Obama reached the White House, 36 million jobless Americans subsisted on food stamps. Today, in 2013, that number accelerated to 47.7 million Americans eating off the backs of the rest of us who still work jobs. At the same time, we still suffer 14 million unemployed Americans and seven million underemployed.
Obama lacked skills or ability to stop endless importation of manufactured goods from China and other countries to the tune of $700 billion annual trade deficits. Wouldn’t anyone with half a brain figure it out, “If I stop importing $700 billion in manufactured goods from China annually, I could transfer those jobs to Americans and create manufactured goods over here. I could lift up America’s minorities, of which, I am one of them, and move them into jobs so they could enjoy a living wage, housing and provide food for their families. Additionally, with 68 percent of African-American children living with single mothers and 99 percent of them subsisting on welfare—perhaps my astute actions could provide jobs for those children’s fathers and bring families together.”
But instead, no one talks about this president’s total lack of skills or ability to make good on his promises. Like all “affirmative action” job holders, he’s in over his head. He’s incompetent, but no one dares speak a word about it.
With our 47.7 million food stamp receivers along with 14 million unemployed Americans, this president not only continues to import 100,000 legal immigrants every friggin’ 30 days—he’s about to present a gift of total amnesty to 12-20 million border hoppers, fence jumpers and cheats—called illegal alien migrants. They already depress wages and steal over 8 million jobs from our working poor, but now, an amnesty will encourage millions more to cross our porous borders.
For the life of me, we voted Obama back into office without questioning his utter failure as a president. We also voted the likes of other incompetent leaders like Senators Feinstein, Hatch, McCain, Udall, Bennet, Schumer, Levin and other congress-critters back into their positions of incompetence. None of them serve the interests of the American people, but instead, cater to other countries and illegal migrants along with their corrupt employers.
In the meantime, our infrastructure rots, our schools fail, our environment degrades, our air pollution accelerates, our water depletes, our quality of life deteriorates and our standard of living drops like a brick in water.
“Every clique is a refuge for incompetence. It fosters corruption and disloyalty, it begets cowardice, and consequently is a burden upon and a drawback to the progress of the country. Its instincts and actions are those of the pack.” Chiang-Kai-Shek
The fundamental distinction between a legitimate national defense and an aggressive global garrison imperium, escapes the political elites. The War Party’s entrenched power and control of their egocentric internationalist foreign policy, endangers the country. Military expenditures have increased substantially this century with little regard to The Real Threat to National Security. The “War on Terror” is a tired excuse that keeps precision smart weapon dominance deployed, which shells suspect bombers with impunity. The technologists that develop and refine methods for more efficient killing machinery hardly earn the honor – defenders of the nation.The mere suggestion that armed services cutbacks are unpatriotic or places the homeland in peril is an invented euphemism to disguise the true nature of the coercive global empire that has replaced our Constitutional Republic. The Economics of Sequestration points out that, “while many auditors would agree that the bloated expenditures within the military-industrial-complex has much to do with an adventurist foreign policy, the architects of sequestration refused to do a straight across the board reductions in all budgets.”
For a detailed report on sequestration, download the GovWin analysis.
• Defense hit hard, but small elements of major accounts have been shielded
• Agencies’ working capital funds are largely protected
• Fund accounts with economic implications are largely exempted
• Senate and House member compensation is exempt
• Contractors and government employees will take hits, but how hard?
• States, and other grant holders, will be impacted
John Barnett presents the political difficulty of actually cutting the military budget in the Brookings Institution video, How Will Military Spending Cuts Affect Us Down the Road? You can always depend upon establishment mouthpieces to exculpate and argue for the military money machine.
However, when pressed, an alternative approach comes from Lawrence J. Korb, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, served as an assistant Secretary of Defense in the Reagan administration, who proposes a small down payment onHow to cut $100B from the defense budget.
“Implementing the following four politically feasible reforms to the defense budget would save $100 billion over the next decade. First, reduce the size of the U.S. nuclear stockpile to 1,100 weapons. Second, cancel the Navy variant of the F-35 and instead purchase the more affordable and effective F/A-18 E/F. Third, reduce the size of the U.S. ground forces to their pre-9/11 levels as we wind down the war in Afghanistan. And finally, implement sensible provisions to reduce the over-utilization of services in the military’s Tricare for Life health care program.
A modest $100 billion reduction will not be sufficiently to reverse the explosive, irresponsible growth in defense spending that has occurred since 9/11. In fact, the bipartisan group of 22 and the president’s own deficit reduction committee (Simpson-Bowles) both suggest much larger draw-downs. But these reductions present a politically achievable down payment to avert the fiscal cliff and buy the Obama administration and Congress more time to deal with the larger fiscal challenges facing the Department of Defense.”
The typical response from the Top Pentagon Brass Lay Out Details of Sequestration Nightmare, begs even the appearance of balance or veracity. As federal budget deficits spiral, the DoD schemes to defend the only conflict that can win; namely, the budget battle.
“Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter called the “twin evils” of sequestration and a year-long continuing resolution “more dangerous than it’s ever been” as the Pentagon faces its “biggest cut in history.” He warned that cuts of $42 billion by the end of fiscal 2013 would mean a “drastic shortfall in the funding we need to do training, which inhibits our capacity to fight.” The Defense Department, he added, “would have to go back and redo our national defense strategy.”
The entire point of Secretary Carter’s appeal is that the national defense strategy is even more sacrosanct than the outlay on hardware budgets. The key mistake in the security equation is that this stratagem is a formula for unnecessary and excessive expenditures.
Now compare reality with the Pentagon hype. WAR PIGS – THE FALL OF A GLOBAL EMPIRE presents compelling condemnation that the Obama administration is no different from “so called” GOP hawks.
“Any doubt that the Military Industrial Complex is as strong as ever should be removed after examining Obama’s 2012 Budget which has $900 billion dedicated to our military machine. We spent $370 billion in 2001, $620 billion in 2006, and now this liberal anti-war Democrat from Illinois is spending 45% more than that war monger Bush who was burned in effigy by the anti-war Democrats during Iraq War protests. It seems both parties are war pigs.
You would think we must be trying to keep up with our enemies by spending $900 billion per year on past and present military adventures. But one look at the following chart reveals the United States is spending almost as much as the rest of the world combined. The two countries considered potential rivals, China and Russia, spent $200 billion combined in 2010. This is 22% of U.S. spending. From a foreign viewpoint, one must wonder why the U.S. is spending such vast sums on our military. They can only conclude that it is for offensive intentions rather than defensive. The United States soil has not been attacked by a foreign power since December 7, 1941. Prior to that surprise attack, a foreign power hadn’t attacked the U.S. since the War of 1812. With this stupendous level of wasteful spending, our leaders feel compelled to interfere in the business of sovereign states and dictate how they should govern their nations. When you have an enormous hammer, every country looks like a nail.”
Reasonable observers know intuitively that continued increases for defense spending does not enhance security any more than feeding funds into a government school system, produces better educated students. The argument that the world is a very dangerous place has merit if, the State Department would reflect upon the role the imperial American empire plays in the growing hatred for our once great country.
The article, Alternative to Establishment Foreign Policy Politics, states: “The reason why nothing changes to reverse the foreign policy of the imperial empire is that international globalists control the country.” As long as this takeover of authentic national security continues, the game of cooked up fear will persist and used as justification for bellicose military deployment.What is the point of trying to bomb the world into submission, when the collateral damage of corpses, become nourishment for even more national hatred?
The sarcasm of the War Pigs sums up the irrationality and places the Pentagon budget into a much-needed perspective.
“Laughably, the neo-con hawks and Fox News pundits declare that our military is a hollow shell and needs much greater funding to insure our safety from attack by our many enemies. Other countries, such as China and Russia, feel they have no choice but to increase their expenditures on the military. On a percentage basis, they have more than doubled their expenditures in the last ten years, and still are a drop in the ocean compared to American Empire spending.”
Whatever form sequestration takes or a brokered compromise adopts, limiting the growth in military spending, would be the best expected. The mere thought of trimming back the budget is viewed as a defeat for the defense contractor lobby. Notwithstanding, such a sacrifice for the military-industrial-complex, the country will continue to adjust. Keeping Americans safe starts with defending our borders and not expanding the legionnaire footprint across the globe.
The proper role for international relations is to adhere to an American First doctrine. The essay, NATO a Dinosaur Overdue for Extinction, makes the point: “The superpower status of military projection has not brought the promisedPax Americana . . . NATO doesn’t secure an advance for our country, but only provides the military command and enforcement that imposes the will of global masters.”
Consider the burden placed on the DoD budget to facilitate the inadequacies of allied countries that beg for assistance. The recent French military intervention into Mali comes to mind. Now just, imagine the lurid consequences of aiding Israel in a first strike against Iran. The effort to derail the Chuck Hagel conformation for Defense Secretary is a regretful attempt to wreck an orderly adjustment in the “too big to fail” military supplier culture.Intelligent military expenditures require comprehensive reform of a broken foreign policy mission. Enlistees are placed into harm’s way for wasteful operations. Abusing legitimate defense capacity, to wage foreign adventures is the norm. The budget pare down is an opportunity to force some hard love, that requires prioritization for the real national interest.
Abandon the failed objective of overseas nation building and start practicing the vital task of reconstructing our own declining society. An honorable country demands our foregoing the long history of fostering “A Splendid Little War“. A scale back of treasure and resources is prudent and needs to be administered in a manner that secures a cap on future extravagant spending.
Truth told, this American observer has attended his share of international conferences and has traveled in more than 70 countries. But never has he visited such a complex country, evolving culture, and striving energized society, populated by idealistic people of great warmth, sense of humor and caring for those in need as he experiences in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Except when traveling in his own country.
Being in Iran during these tense times is to experience an epiphany. Which is that Iranians and Americans have so very many needs and interests in common-yes even in our religious beliefs- that both peoples should immediately repair our countries relations and return to the days when 60,000 Iranian students studied in the US and thousands of Americans lived and worked in Iran- all in singular harmony and with myriad mutual benefits.
The deep connection among Muslims and Christians from the seventh century sacrifice at Karbala by Hussein bin Ali and the first century sacrifice at Calvary by Jesus Christ, established forever a claimed divine principle of sacrifice of one’s self to resist injustice for the greater good of the community. This bond underpins and connects the two religions and their followers inextricably.
There is probably no country more misunderstood in America than Iran And its due almost entirely to politically motivated demonizations and misrepresentations, including, but not limited to, what President Ahmadinejad really said during speeches relating to the US and the West and the historical imperative to liberate occupied Palestine and every country’s right to develop nuclear energy and to live independently and free of US-led western hegemony. Most Americans’ perceptions of Iran, according to Iranian friends, are limited to images of President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad accused of delivering anti-American speeches.
Another example is the media reports of the 2/09/13 celebration of the 34th anniversary of the Iranian revolution where the BBC and most other media reported the crowds were “frenzied and chanting death to America.” I was there and this report is rubbish. I did hear from time to time a few chants mixed in with revolutionary songs, religious exhortations, and just plain fun. Helping others by offering water and heavy laden older citizens or kids was the motif.
People were happy not angry and they could not have been more friendly or curious about the Americans they came upon and who helped them pick up Iranian leaflet flags that blew or were dropped onto the streets as the Americans understood Iranian pride in their flag and not wanting to see it walked on or subjected to disrespect.
One does not have to look further than the morning newspapers for examples and to find the likes of Zionist apologist, Iranophobe and Islamophode Jennifer Rubin, in her Washington Post screed. Ms. Rubin, on Valentine’s Day had only poisonous invective in her heart for any American- even cupid one imagines- who would dare express any remotely objective idea about Iran. Rubin, a former AIPAC volunteer, lambasted Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, former US Senator, Chuck Hagel, as nearly all 52 Zionist organizations in America have done this past month, because he advocates mutual respect and friendship with Iran. Hagel’s unforgiveable sins includee his words on the subject of criminal US-led sanctions against Iran and Syria and the need to build trust and normalize relations through dialogue.
Said Hagel about U.S.-Iran relations: “We shouldn’t be putting conditions on talks or putting all other issues to the side except one issue that we will ‘dictate’ to Iran.” As far back as 2007, Hagel stated that “In the Middle East of the 21st century, Iran will be a key center of gravity… a significant regional power. The United States cannot change that reality. America’s strategic 21st-century regional policy for the Middle East must acknowledge the role of Iran today and over the next 25 years.” Hagel continued: “On Afghanistan, the United States and Iran found common interests — defeating the Taliban and Islamic radicals, stabilizing Afghanistan, stopping the opium production and the flow of opium coming into Iran. From these common interests emerged common actions working toward a common purpose. It was in the interests of Iran to work with the U.S. in Afghanistan. It was not a matter of helping America or strengthening America’s presence in Central Asia. It was a clear-eyed and self-serving action for Iran.”
Hagel may have erred a bit on Afghanistan and the Taliban, but Rubin found Hagel’s point of view treasonous and has joined the the US Zionist lobby’s call for a witch-hunt when she asks her readers: “Why would the president select someone so deferential toward the Islamic revolutionary government? ..During the Congressional recess, the Senate should think about that. And it might be interesting to find out who was helping him with these intensely pro-Tehran speeches.
In Iran today one does not hear Rubinesque hate speech or even lectures about the 1953 US-UK overthrow of Iranian leader Mohammad Mossedeg or the shooting down on July 3, 1988 of the commercial passenger aircraft Iran Air Flight 655 (IIR655) or the US giving chemical weapons to Iraq, during its US backed aggression, or even the assassination of Iranian scientists or a number of other US green lighted aggressions against the country.
Much more often, conversations are likely to turn to the need to improve relations and friendly questions about what foreigners are experiencing in Iran and if they need assistance in doing something or information about their country. Iranians are as open as Americans are by their very nature, and unlike many other countries no subject for discussion is taboo. For this observer it included topics such as the “morality police”, execution of drug dealers and homosexuals, “stoning” of women, attacks on the Bahá’í Faith, which is the country’s second-largest religion after Islam, the 2009 “Green Revolution” and any other subject that came to mine, including drinking alcohol and public dating.
One hilarious conversation this observer had with four early 20’s female students during a Conference last week was about the number (more than 60%) of Chador wearing women who openly wear makeup these days, how Iranian society is changing rapidly, and the amount of hair some women expose while in public and wondering if this was not prohibited by Fatwa and how they deal with it. Their responses were immediate and nearly all at once. No one had even seen one of the Western hyped “morality police” for a long time and they are few and far between. One young lady explained that its true she wears her hijab 2/3’s the way back on her head and “if one of those guys dares to say something I will either tell him to mind his own business or if I am in a good mood I will act really, really surprised, shrug my shoulders, wink at him and say something like, “Oh so very sorry, really I am!. It was a big gust of wind that must have blown it back on my head without me noticing!” Even if there had not even been so much as a soft breeze in days.
Iranian women are smart, strong willed-even a bit pushy at times and naturally alluring. Who would want to join some “morality police” unit? The ladies explained that if one comes up to you on the street and if you are really rude to him and tell him to get lost, or worse, you might get a ticket and your parents would have to come to the police station and sign a pledge that you would try to do better about trying to observe some modesty in public. Again rather different from what the MSM tells us in the West.
And it’s clear whether attending an international conference on Hollywoodism (www.hollywoodism.org) at the Azadi (Freedom Hotel-formerly the pre-Revolution Hyatt ), traveling on the Tehran subway (far cleaner than New Yorks!) exploring street souks, visiting the Holy Defense Museum (explaining the 8 years Iran-Iraq war) or visiting the home of Imam Ruhollah Khomeini, who led the 1979 Revolution and was Iran’s leader until his death on June 3,1989 in or walking, for miles it seemed, among the nearly two million people marching to Azadi Square to commemorate this month’s 34th anniversary of the Revolution when the people of Iran overthrew the American agent, Shah Reza Palavi, that the Iranian people are kind and they are gifted.
When I got on the crowded Tehran subway, two young men immediately stood up to offer this observer their seats. And then we engaged in a very interesting long animated conversation. Said, Hamzeh, “You know, we feel like we understand America and we should be friends. Both of our countries are culturally unique somehow. Your country evolved from European culture but moved in very distinct direction. In our history Islam arrived via the Arabs but as you have been seeing I am sure, our identity is completely different from Arab countries.”
Mahmoud joined in: “Our society is also made up of many minorities, but we have a single Iranian identity and are very proud of our culture. We’re also familiar with Western ways. For the last 200 years, we were open to the Western world and influenced by European culture, even if some of the ideas, like democracy, have never had a chance to really develop properly but we will continue trying. But we also know what it’s like to be a superpower. For us it was a long time ago, but we played an important role in this part of the world for many centuries so we can never see ourselves as subject to western or eastern hegemony.”
No experience impressed a group of American visiting Iran, including this one, than the home of Imam Kohmeini and learning from his neighbors and students about the man, scholar and revolutionary. Visiting his home and Hassineyeh which have been kept just as they were the day he died, one neighbor recounted how
Ayatollah’s Khomeini’s wife Khadije Saghafi, who passed away in 2009, told her friends that she had only one wish her whole life that the Imam never granted to her. And that was that she wished for him to ask her for a glass of water at least once. But he never did. The sweet and gentle husband and father did not want even the wind to visit his family’s faces too harshly or for himself to impose on them. Another neighbor told us, “When we visited his home we often found the Imam washing the dishes, sweeping the floor, and helping in other household chores.
According to others who knew him well, the Imam led a life of utmost piety and spirituality. In the severe winters of Qom, the he would wake up each night, perform ablution the act of washing oneself for ritual purification) with ice water, and offer his night prayers. His Mafatih (prayer almanac) had to be rebound every few weeks because of how much he used it. Before he began lecturing his students on political activism, he emphasized to them the importance of spirituality and attaining the nearness of Allah.
The simplicity of life style and the modesty of Iran’s revolutionary, Imam Khomeini leader has universal appeal including American ideals.
There is every reason for Washington’s new administration to reach out to Iran, not just with words but with actions. The American and Iranian people fervently want this and it wills inestimably benefit both societies. The solution to positive the current straightened Iran-US relations includes contact, visitations, discussions and more discussions and from this both peoples can pressure their governments to leave the past behind and develop bonds of friendship.
Over the past four decades, of all the reasons people over a certain age have given for their becoming radicalized against US foreign policy, the Vietnam War has easily been the one most often cited. And I myself am the best example of this that you could find. I sometimes think that if the war lovers who run the United States had known of this in advance they might have had serious second thoughts about starting that great historical folly and war crime.
At other times, however, I have the thought that our dear war lovers have had 40 years to take this lesson to heart, and during this time what did they do? They did Salvador and Nicaragua, and Angola and Grenada. They did Panama and Yugoslavia, and Afghanistan and Iraq. And in 2012 American President Barack Obama saw fit to declare that the Vietnam War was “one of the most extraordinary stories of bravery and integrity in the annals of military history”. 1
So, have they learned nothing? When it comes to following international law, is the United States like a failed state? The Somalia of international law? Well, if they were perfectly frank, the war lovers would insist that the purpose of all these interventions, and many others like them, was to keep the atheists out of power – the non-believers in America’s god-given right to rule the world – or to at least make life as difficult as possible for them. And thus the interventions were successful; nothing to apologize for; even the Vietnam War achieved its purpose of preventing that country from becoming a good development option for Asia, a socialist alternative to the capitalist model; precisely the same reason for Washington’s endless hostility toward Cuba in Latin America; and Cuba has indeed inspired numerous atheists and their alternatives for a better world.
If they were even more honest, the war lovers might quote George Kennan, the legendary State Department strategist, who wrote prophetically during the Cold War: “Were the Soviet Union to sink tomorrow under the waters of the ocean, the American military-industrial establishment would have to go on, substantially unchanged, until some other adversary could be invented. Anything else would be an unacceptable shock to the American economy.” 2
But after all these years, after decades of American militarism – though not a day passes without some government official or media acolyte expressing his admiration and gratitude for “our brave boys” – cracks in the American edifice can be seen. Some of the war lovers, and their TV groupies would have us believe that they have actually learned something. One of the first was Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in February 2011: “In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should have his head examined.”
And here’s former Secretary of State George Shultz speaking before the prestigious Council of Foreign Relations last month (January 29): “Iraq and Afghanistan cannot be the template for how we go about” dealing with threats of terrorism.
A few days earlier the very establishment and conservative Economist magazine declared: “The best-intentioned foreign intervention is bound to bog its armies down in endless wars fighting invisible enemies to help ungrateful locals.”
However, none of these people are in power. And does history offer any example of a highly militaristic power – without extreme coercion – seeing the error of its ways? One of my readers, who prefers to remain anonymous, wrote to me recently:
It is my opinion that the German and Japanese people only relinquished their imperial culture and mindset when they were bombed back to the stone age at the end of WWII. Something similar is the only cure for the same pathology that now is embedded into the very social fabric of the USA. The USA is a full-blown pathological society now. There is no other cure. No amount of articles on the Internet pointing out the hypocrisies or war crimes will do it.
So, while the United States is busy building bases and anti-missile sites in Europe, Asia and Africa, deploying space-based and other hi-tech weapons systems, trying to surround Russia, China, Iran and any other atheist that threatens American world hegemony, and firing drone missiles all over the Middle East I’m busy playing games on the Internet. What can I say? In theory at least, there is another force besides the terrible bombing mentioned above that can stop the American empire, and that is the American people. I’ll continue trying to educate them. Too bad I won’t live long enough to see the glorious transformation.
Afghanistan: Manufacturing the American Legacy
“A decade ago, playing music could get you maimed in Afghanistan. Today, a youth ensemble is traveling to the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. And it even includes girls.”
Thus reads the sub-heading of a Washington Post story of February 3 about an orchestra of 48 Afghan young people who attended music school in a country where the Taliban have tried to silence both women and music. “The Afghan Youth Orchestra is more than a development project,” the article informs us. For “the school’s many international donors, it serves as a powerful symbol of successful reconstruction in Afghanistan. And by performing in Washington and New York, the seats of U.S. political and financial power, the orchestra hopes to showcase what a decade of investment has achieved.”
“The U.S. State Department, the World Bank, the Carnegie Corporation and Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education have invested heavily in the tour. The U.S. Embassy in Kabul awarded nearly $350,000 footing most of the estimated $500,000 cost. For international donors, the tour symbolizes progress in a country crippled by war.”
The State Department’s director of communications and public diplomacy for Afghanistan and Pakistan declares: “We wanted Americans to understand the difference their tax dollars have made in building a better future for young people, which translates into reduced threats from extremists in the region.”
“There’s a lot of weariness in the U.S. and cynicism about Afghanistan,” said William Harvey, an American violinist who teaches at the school, where 35 of 141 students are girls. “What are we doing there? What can be achieved? These concerts answer those questions in the strongest way possible: Cooperation between Afghanistan and the international community has made it safe for young girls and boys to learn music.”
There can be no question that for the sad country of Afghanistan all this is welcome news. There can also be little doubt that a beleaguered and defensive US foreign policy establishment will seek to squeeze out as much favorable publicity as possible from these events. On the issue of the severe oppression of women and girls in Afghanistan, defenders of the US occupation of that desperate land would have you believe that the United States is the last great hope of those poor females. However, you will not be reminded that in the 1980s the United States played an indispensable role in the overthrow of a secular and relatively progressive Afghan government, one which endeavored to grant women much more freedom than they’ll ever have under the current Karzai-US government, more probably than ever again. Here are some excerpts from a 1986 US Army manual on Afghanistan discussing the policies of this government concerning women:
- “provisions of complete freedom of choice of marriage partner, and fixation of the minimum age at marriage at 16 for women and 18 for men”
- “abolished forced marriages”
- “bring [women] out of seclusion, and initiate social programs”
- “extensive literacy programs, especially for women”
- “putting girls and boys in the same classroom”;
- “concerned with changing gender roles and giving women a more active role in politics”. 3
The US-led overthrow of this government paved the way for the coming to power of Islamic fundamentalist forces, which led directly to the awful Taliban. And why did the United States in its infinite wisdom choose to do such a thing? Because the Afghan government was allied with the Soviet Union and Washington wanted to draw the Russians into a hopeless military quagmire – “We now have the opportunity of giving to the Soviet Union its Vietnam War”, said Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s National Security Adviser. 4
The women of Afghanistan will never know how the campaign to raise them to the status of full human beings would have turned out, but this, some might argue, is but a small price to pay for a marvelous Cold War victory.
People on the left never tire of calling for the closing of the US prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. The fact that President Obama made the closing a promise of his 2008 campaign and repeated it again in the White House, while the prison still remains in operation, is seen as a serious betrayal. But each time I read about this I’m struck by the same thought: The horror of Guantánamo is not its being open, not its mere existence. Its horror lies in its being the site of more than 10 years of terrible abuse of human beings. If the prison is closed and all its inmates are moved to another prison, and the abuses continue, what would have been accomplished? How would the cause of human rights be benefitted? I think that activists should focus on the abuses, regardless of the location.
The War on Terror – They’re really getting serious about it now
For disseminating classified materials that exposed war crimes, Julian Assange is now honored as an official terrorist as only America can honor. We Shall Never Forget 9/11, Vol. II: The True Faces of Evil – Terror, a graphic coloring novel for children, which comes with several pages of perforated, detachable “terrorist trading cards”. Published by Really Big Coloring Books Inc. in St. Louis, the cards include Assange, Timothy McVeigh, Jared Lee Loughner, Ted Kaczynski, Maj. Nidal Hasan, Bill Ayers, and others. 5
Superpower – the film
Starring Noam Chomsky, Chalmers Johnson, Michel Chossudovksy, Karen Kwiatowski (Pentagon “defector”), William Blum, Sergei Khrushchev (son of Nikita), Kathy Kelly, and many others:https://vimeo.com/55141496 (enter password when prompted: barbarasteegmuller) – 2 hours long.
New Book and talk
The eagerly awaited (I can name at least three people) new book by William Blum is here at last. “America’s Deadliest Export – Democracy: The Truth About US Foreign Policy and Everything Else” is made up of essays which are a combination of new and old; combined, updated, expanded; many first appeared in one form or another in the Anti-Empire Report, or on my website, at various times during the past ten years or so.
As mentioned in the book, activists like myself are sometimes scoffed at for saying the same old things to the same old people; just spinning our wheels, we’re told, “preaching to the choir” or “preaching to the converted”. But long experience as speaker, writer and activist in the area of foreign policy tells me it just ain’t so. From the questions and comments I regularly get from my audiences, via email and in person, I can plainly see that there are numerous significant information gaps and misconceptions in the choir’s thinking, often leaving them unable to see through the newest government lie or propaganda trick; they’re unknowing or forgetful of what happened in the past that illuminates the present; or knowing the facts but unable to apply them at the appropriate moment; vulnerable to being led astray by the next person who offers a specious argument that opposes what they currently believe, or think they believe; and, perhaps worst of all, many of them suffer pathetically from an over-abundance of conspiracy thinking, often carrying a justified suspicion or idea to a ridiculous level; virtually nothing is taken at face value.
The choir needs to be frequently reminded and enlightened to be better able to influence others, to be better activists.
To order a signed copy directly from me you can go to my website: http://killinghope.org.
I’ll be speaking about the new book at Politics and Prose bookstore, 5015 Connecticut Ave., NW, in Washington, DC, Saturday, March 2 at 1 pm.
- May 28, 2012, speaking at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington ↩
- George Kennan, Wikipedia entry ↩
- US Department of the Army, Afghanistan, A Country Study (1986), pp.121, 128, 130, 223, 232 (Library of Congress Call Number DS351.5 .A34 1986) ↩
- Zbigniew Brzezinski, Wikipedia entry ↩
- View the press release; see the cards ↩
Barring Medicines In Syria…
But that was then and now its spring in Damascus, or so it feels to those of us used to New England Januarys. It’s nearly downright balmy here. Spring flowers are bursting out all over and the city parks are crowded with mothers pushing baby carriages, kids playing and young lovers cooing softly on the park benches. Park workers are raking the dead leaves and others trimming the palm trees and piling the branches neatly on flatbed trucks.
What “civil war”? What “crisis”? One is tempted to ask himself even though there continues to be intermittent “thuds” and a jet streaking overhead now and then en route apparently to one of the suburbs where clashes erupt intermittently.
It’s been a rough winter and perhaps we are just experiencing here a false spring. Yet one senses a palpable sigh of relief and even some optimism while talking to citizens, NGO staffers and some officials. It could be partly the wonderful weather but perhaps also a realization that a corner may have been turned, peace and security will be restored and the killing ended. Some refugees are to be seen returning to Damascus. Syrians and Palestinians from Lebanon — yet there are still traffic backups with cars piled high with personal belongings crossing over to Lebanon at the Masnaa border checkpoint. Meanwhile the Ministry of Interior in Damascus has pledged various forms of help to those who heed the governments call to “come back home to your people.”
Energized by the exhilarating park ambiance this observer decided to walk to UNESCO headquarters for an appointment. Plus it can be kind of tough at times to find a taxi these days.
Perhaps I should have remained in the park. Lord knows that this observer has experienced his share of irate women shouting at him over the years. Being raised by three older sisters and a no-nonsense German/Italian mother- all of them unmercifully wanting to correct my behavior was a mere harbinger of things to come. But, even with this “training”, I was ill prepared for what the lady at the UNESCO office here in central Damascus unleashed on me.
And I had not done the lady wrong.
Except, perhaps, that I happen to be an American and there is plenty of anger here among the Syrian public, the NGO’s, and increasingly the international legal community among others — not toward the American people but toward the US government — over the effects of its sanctions which are severely and illegally targeting the civilian population. At the same time they are directly contributing to prospects of irreparably damaging many of this millenary country’s historic sites.
According to archeological experts here, Syria, with its six UNESCO world heritage sites testifying to its deserved reputation as being one of the most archeologically well-preserved cradles of civilization, may soon to be the most wantonly destroyed in modern times (Iraq being the other). This frequently-predicted catastrophe is a result, not only of war in the usual sense, but war in its more subtle form of US-led sanctions aimed at political regime change.
Of particular concern to UNESCO, whose UN mandate includes registering and protecting World historical sites, is the preservation of the Ancient Cities of Damascus, Bosra, Palmyra, Aleppo, Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’ at Salah El-Din, as well as the ancient villages of Northern Syria.
This week, the Syrian Directorate of Antiquities and Museums has released its detailed report of acts of vandalism and illegal excavations by armed groups and foreign thieves across Syria. The Directorate has documented violations against archeological sites and Syrian museums, as well the emerging phenomenon of artifact forgery. In Aleppo, the Antiquities division reported that al-Diriya caves in Samaan Mountain suffered from acts of sabotage, adding that “terrorists have looted the equipment of excavations, wooden columns and timbers.”
Also, this week, Human Rights Watch issued a report that Saudi-Qatar-US backed militants destroyed religious locations following a four-day investigation in the provinces of Latakia and Idlib. According to HRW, a Husseiniyah (a congregation hall for Shia commemoration ceremonies) was destroyed by the militants in Idlib, while two Christian churches were looted in Latakia. The Middle East director at the Human Rights Watch, Sarah Leah Whitson claimed that Syria “will lose its rich cultural and religious diversity if armed groups do not respect places of worship.”
Against this backdrop, it is not totally surprising that my UNESCO hostess, less than half a minute after I entered her office, literally threw at me a statement in French from Director Irina Bokova of the UNESCO HQ in Paris. It read:
“I am deeply distressed by the daily news about the escalation of damage to cultural heritage throughout Syria. We saw damage to the Citadel in July and the souks ten days ago, and the Umayyad Mosque, heart of the religious life of the city, one of the most beautiful mosques in the Muslim world, is being severely endangered. In Northern Syria, the region of the Ancient Villages inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2011 is heavily struck and it seems that the invaluable Saint-Simeon Byzantine complex might have been torched.”
Before I could finish reading, the lady exclaimed: “These testimonials from the past!…” raising her voice and glaring at me while pointing to the posters of Syrian historical sites on her wall, “the destruction of this heritage for which your sanctions are partly responsible. Your government is responsible today and will be tomorrow, for the whole of humanity.” When I was eventually able to get a word in sideways, I explained that I had come to her office precisely because I have been studying the immoral, illegal and “un-American” sanctions and that I was spending my time in Syria learning first-hand about the sanctions’ utter disregard for the humanitarian concerns of the Syrian people — in contravention to what one hears repeatedly from US officials.
When I added, I don’t know any Americans who would condone what the Congress and our government have been doing, if they knew the facts on the ground, she did calm down a bit and said she understood what I was saying and more or less agreed. She then mentioned a national poll conducted on 13 January by the Better World Campaign, an organization that works to support U.S.-U.N. relations, that showed that 83 percent of US citizens believe it is important that their country provide funding to UNESCO and want the US to lift its sanctioning of UNESCO and pay its withheld budget contribution, which accounts for 22% of the UN specialized agency’s budget.
“Let me tell you something!” she exclaimed and launched into describing the dire effects of the current US-led sanctions on UNESCO’s work in preserving and protecting historical sites. In her view, the American assault on UNESCO and its work began when UNESCO committed a sin in March of 2011 by admitting Palestine as a full member.
She explained: “For months our offices had been warned by Israeli officials and then Americans, that there would be a big price-tag were we to admit Palestine.” And there was. In October 2011, the U.S. cut off funding to UNESCO as payback for admitting Palestine as a member and in November 2012, the United States was one of nine member states out of 193 in the General Assembly who, on behalf of the Zionist occupiers of Palestine, tried to unsuccessfully bar Palestine from gaining non-member observer state status at the UN.
UNESCO and some other NGO staff here claim that much of the damage here could have been prevented if there was a lifting of the US 2011 cut-off of UNESCO’s budget. As a direct result, UNESCO cannot even replace more than 400 staffers who left from normal attrition or even hire “neighborhood watch,” local volunteer personnel, to coordinate the guarding by of many archeological sites around Syria.
Regarding the other layers of US-led sanctions targeting the civilian population here, a survey by NGO’s on the impact of the fake “medicine and foods” exemptions will soon be released. Its indictment of the US-led sanctions is severe. Contrary to Washington and NATO mythology, the “medicine and foods” exemptions do not exist in reality because suppliers of both fear being accused of violating the great number of sanction details. Washington and Brussels are acutely aware of this fact.
Among the data that will be presented in the soon-to-be released analysis, are cases of cancer patients who need weekly medicines but are now only able to receive them twice a month, with the expected dire consequences. The same obtains for many other long term care patients who need specific medicines, even as generic as penicillin, which are no longer available as they were before the US-led sanctions.
Just as I was preparing to leave her office, she softened a bit and asked this observer. “See here, I generally like Americans who we come in contact with here but how can you explain these sanctions — or those in Iraq or Afghanistan that have killed so many?”
I tried to explain that we have a culture clash in America that means that many Americans overwhelmingly support UNESCO and the work of all sixteen of the UN Specialized Agencies but we also have politicians like Arizona Senator John McCain and South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham who never saw a war they did not like. The former just returned from another visit to the region and apparently learned nothing except that he still wants a military solution.
The latter, who is known for his jokes on Capitol Hill that as a “true southerner” he never got over the American Civil War or what it did to American society, has repeatedly expressed his view of US “economic” sanctions by declaring recently, “Sanctions are good but they need to be tougher! Cut the bastards off at the knees.”
Senator Graham also noted his agreement with former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who made the repulsive statement that the deaths of 500,000 children in Iraq from a US “economic sanctions” regime that “exempted foods and medicine” but in reality was a starvation program “was worth the price.”
Ironically, it was the arch-nemesis of the Confederacy, Yankee General William Tecumseh Sherman, who might agree with Graham regarding sanctions against a civilian population. What has bothered Senator Graham since he first studied the Civil War in school, according to one Congressional source, is that the Yankee February 17, 1865 captured Graham’s state capital of Columbia, South Carolina. It was not pretty and most of the central city was destroyed. But the Yankee and the Confederate might just agree on targeting civilian populations with economic sanctions. Wrote Sherman, shortly before his March to the Sea which fatally cut the south in two:
“We are not fighting against enemy armies, but against an enemy people, young and old, rich and poor, and they must feel the iron hand of war in the same way as organized armies.”
I left the UNESCO office sort of crestfallen. Not because of the lady’s roughness with me, but rather because of the realization, yet once again, that our species quite simply does not learn much from history and apparently will repeat it until the end of times. May God protect the people, everywhere, from the politicians.
Apparently, it’s a no-brainer. Mali holds 15.8 million people – with a per capita gross domestic product of only around US$1,000 a year and average life expectancy of only 51 years – in a territory twice the size of France (per capital GDP $35,000 and upwards). Now almost two-thirds of this territory is occupied by heavily weaponized Islamist outfits. What next? Bomb, baby, bomb.
So welcome to the latest African war; Chad-based French Mirages and Gazelle helicopters, plus a smatter of France-based
Rafales bombing evil Islamist jihadis in northern Mali. Business is good; French president Francois Hollande spent this past Tuesday in Abu Dhabi clinching the sale of up to 60 Rafales to that Gulf paragon of democracy, the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The formerly wimpy Hollande – now enjoying his “resolute”, “determined”, tough guy image reconversion – has cleverly sold all this as incinerating Islamists in the savannah before they take a one-way Bamako-Paris flight to bomb the Eiffel Tower.
French Special Forces have been on the ground in Mali since early 2012.
The Tuareg-led NMLA (National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad), via one of its leaders, now says it’s “ready to help” the former colonial power, billing itself as more knowledgeable about the culture and the terrain than future intervening forces from the CEDEAO (the acronym in French for the Economic Community of Western African States).
Salafi-jihadis in Mali have got a huge problem: they chose the wrong battlefield. If this was Syria, they would have been showered by now with weapons, logistical bases, a London-based “observatory”, hours of YouTube videos and all-out diplomatic support by the usual suspects of US, Britain, Turkey, the Gulf petromonarchies and – oui, monsieur – France itself.
Instead, they were slammed by the UN Security Council – faster than a collection of Marvel heroes – duly authorizing a war against them. Their West African neighbors – part of the ECOWAS regional bloc – were given a deadline (late November) to come up with a war plan. This being Africa, nothing happened – and the Islamists kept advancing until a week ago Paris decided to apply some Hollandaise sauce.
Not even a football stadium filled with the best West African shamans can conjure a bunch of disparate – and impoverished – countries to organize an intervening army in short notice, even if the adventure will be fully paid by the West just like the Uganda-led army fighting al-Shabaab in Somalia.
To top it all, this is no cakewalk. The Salafi-jihadis are flush, courtesy of booming cocaine smuggling from South America to Europe via Mali, plus human trafficking. According to the UN Office of Drugs Control, 60% of Europe’s cocaine transits Mali. At Paris street prices, that is worth over $11 billion.
General Carter Ham, the commander of the Pentagon’s AFRICOM, has been warning about a major crisis for months. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy. But what’s really going on in what the New York Times quaintly describes as those “vast and turbulent stretches of the Sahara”?
It all started with a military coup in March 2012, only one month before Mali would hold a presidential election, ousting then president Amadou Toumani Toure. The coup plotters justified it as a response to the government’s incompetence in fighting the Tuareg.
The coup leader was one Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo, who happened to have been very cozy with the Pentagon; that included his four-month infantry officer basic training course in Fort Benning, Georgia, in 2010. Essentially, Sanogo was also groomed by AFRICOM, under a regional scheme mixing the State Department’s Trans Sahara Counter Terrorism Partnership program and the Pentagon’s Operation Enduring Freedom. It goes without saying that in all this “freedom” business Mali has been the proverbial “steady ally” – as in counterterrorism partner – fighting (at least in thesis) al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
Over the last few years, Washington’s game has elevated flip-flopping to high art. During the second George W Bush administration, Special Forces were very active side by side with the Tuaregs and the Algerians. During the first Obama administration, they started backing the Mali government against the Tuareg.
An unsuspecting public may pore over Rupert Murdoch’s papers – for instance, The Times of London – and its so-called defense correspondent will be pontificating at will on Mali without ever talking about blowback from the Libya war.
Muammar Gaddafi always supported the Tuaregs’ independence drive; since the 1960s the NMLA agenda has been to liberate Azawad (North Mali) from the central government in Bamako.
After the March 2012 coup, the NMLA seemed to be on top. They planted their own flag on quite a few government buildings, and on April 5 announced the creation of a new, independent Tuareg country. The “international community” spurned them, only for a few months later to have the NMLA for all practical purposes marginalized, even in their own region, by three other – Islamist – groups; Ansar ed-Dine (“Defenders of the Faith”); the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO); and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
Meet the players
The NMLA is a secular Tuareg movement, created in October 2011. It claims that the liberation of Azawad will allow better integration – and development – for all the peoples in the region. Its hardcore fighters are Tuaregs who were former members of Gaddafi’s army. But there are also rebels who had not laid down their arms after the 2007-2008 Tuareg rebellion, and some that defected from the Malian army. Those who came back to Mali after Gaddafi was executed by the NATO rebels in Libya carried plenty of weapons. Yet most heavy weapons actually ended up with the NATO rebels themselves, the Islamists supported by the West.
AQIM is the Northern African branch of al-Qaeda, pledging allegiance to “The Doctor”, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Its two crucial characters are Abu Zaid and Mokhtar Belmokhtar, former members of the ultra-hardcore Algerian Islamist outfit Salafist Group for Predication and Combat (SGPC). Belmokhtar was already a jihadi in 1980s Afghanistan.
Abu Zaid poses as a sort of North African “Geronimo”, aka Osama bin Laden, with the requisite black flag and a strategically positioned Kalashnikov featuring prominently in his videos. The historical leader, though, is Belmokhtar. The problem is that Belmokhtar, known by French intelligence as “The Uncatchable”, has recently joined MUJAO.
MUJAO fighters are all former AQIM. In June 2012, MUJAO expelled the NMLA and took over the city of Gao, when it immediately applied the worst aspects of Sharia law. It’s the MUJAO base that has been bombed by the French Rafales this week. One of its spokesmen has duly threatened, “in the name of Allah”, to respond by attacking “the heart of France”.
Finally, Ansar ed-Dine is an Islamist Tuareg outfit, set up last year and directed by Iyad ag Ghali, a former leader of the NMLA who exiled himself in Libya. He turned to Salafism because of – inevitably – Pakistani proselytizers let loose in Northern Africa, then engaged in valuable face time with plenty of AQIM emirs. It’s interesting to note in 2007 Mali President Toure appointed Ghali as consul in Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia. He was then duly expelled in 2010 because he got too close to radical Islamists.
Gimme ‘a little more terrorism’
No one in the West is asking why the Pentagon-friendly Sanogo’s military coup in the capital ended up with almost two-thirds of Mali in the hands of Islamists who imposed hardcore Sharia law in Azawad – especially in Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal, a gruesome catalogue of summary executions, amputations, stonings and the destruction of holy shrines in Timbuktu. How come the latest Tuareg rebellion ended up hijacked by a few hundred hardcore Islamists? It’s useless to ask the question to US drones.
The official “leading from behind” Obama 2.0 administration rhetoric is, in a sense, futuristic; the French bombing “could rally jihadis” around the world and lead to – what else – attacks on the West. Once again the good ol’ Global War on Terror (GWOT) remains the serpent biting its own tail.
There’s no way to understand Mali without examining what Algeria has been up to. The Algerian newspaper El Khabar only scratched the surface, noting that “from categorically refusing an intervention – saying to the people in the region it would be dangerous”, Algiers went to “open Algerian skies to the French Mirages”.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Algeria last October, trying to organize some semblance of an intervening West African army. Hollande was there in December. Oh yes, this gets juicier by the month.
So let’s turn to Professor Jeremy Keenan, from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at London University, and author of The Dark Sahara (Pluto Press, 2009) and the upcomingThe Dying Sahara (Pluto Press, 2013).
Writing in the January edition of New African, Keenan stresses, “Libya was the catalyst of the Azawad rebellion, not its underlying cause. Rather, the catastrophe now being played out in Mali is the inevitable outcome of the way in which the ‘Global War on Terror’ has been inserted into the Sahara-Sahel by the US, in concert with Algerian intelligence operatives, since 2002.”
In a nutshell, Bush and the regime in Algiers both needed, as Keenan points out, “a little more terrorism” in the region. Algiers wanted it as the means to get more high-tech weapons. And Bush – or the neo-cons behind him – wanted it to launch the Saharan front of the GWOT, as in the militarization of Africa as the top strategy to control more energy resources, especially oil, thus wining the competition against massive Chinese investment. This is the underlying logic that led to the creation of AFRICOM in 2008.
Algerian intelligence, Washington and the Europeans duly used AQIM, infiltrating its leadership to extract that “little more terrorism”. Meanwhile, Algerian intelligence effectively configured the Tuaregs as “terrorists”; the perfect pretext for Bush’s Trans-Saharan Counter-Terrorism Initiative, as well as the Pentagon’s Operation Flintlock – a trans-Sahara military exercise.
The Tuaregs always scared the hell out of Algerians, who could not even imagine the success of a Tuareg nationalist movement in northern Mali. After all, Algeria always viewed the whole region as its own backyard.
The Tuaregs – the indigenous population of the central Sahara and the Sahel – number up to 3 million. Over 800,000 live in Mali, followed by Niger, with smaller concentrations in Algeria, Burkina Faso and Libya. There have been no less than five Tuareg rebellions in Mali since independence in 1960, plus three others in Niger, and a lot of turbulence in Algeria.
Keenan’s analysis is absolutely correct in identifying what happened all along 2012 as the Algerians meticulously destroying the credibility and the political drive of the NMLA. Follow the money: both Ansar ed-Dine’s Iyad ag Ghaly and MUJAO’s Sultan Ould Badi are very cozy with the DRS, the Algerian intelligence agency. Both groups in the beginning had only a few members.
Then came a tsunami of AQIM fighters. That’s the only explanation for why the NMLA was, after only a few months, neutralized both politically and militarily in their own backyard.
Round up the usual freedom fighters
Washington’s “leading from behind” position is illustrated by this State Department press conference. Essentially, the government in Bamako asked for the French to get down and dirty.
And that’s it.
Not really. Anyone who thinks “bomb al-Qaeda” is all there is to Mali must be living in Oz. To start with, using hardcore Islamists to suffocate an indigenous independence movement comes straight from the historic CIA/Pentagon playbook.
Moreover, Mali is crucial to AFRICOM and to the Pentagon’s overall MENA (Middle East-Northern Africa) outlook. Months before 9/11 I had the privilege to crisscross Mali on the road – and by the (Niger) river – and hang out, especially in Mopti and Timbuktu, with the awesome Tuaregs, who gave me a crash course in Northwest Africa. I saw Wahhabi and Pakistani preachers all over the place. I saw the Tuaregs progressively squeezed out. I saw an Afghanistan in the making. And it was not very hard to follow the money sipping tea in the Sahara. Mali borders Algeria, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Senegal, the Ivory Coast and Guinea. The spectacular Inner Niger delta is in central Mali – just south of the Sahara. Mali overflows with gold, uranium, bauxite, iron, manganese, tin and copper. And – Pipelineistan beckons! – there’s plenty of unexplored oil in northern Mali.
As early as February 2008, Vice Admiral Robert T Moeller wassaying that AFRICOM’s mission was to protect “the free flow of natural resources from Africa to the global market”; yes, he did make the crucial connection to China, pronounced guilty of ” challenging US interests”.
AFRICOM’s spy planes have been “observing” Mali, Mauritania and the Sahara for months, in thesis looking for AQIM fighters; the whole thing is overseen by US Special Forces, part of the classified, code-named Creek Sand operation, based in next-door Burkina Faso. Forget about spotting any Americans; these are – what else – contractors who do not wear military uniforms.
Last month, at Brown University, General Carter Ham, AFRICOM’s commander, once more gave a big push to the “mission to advance US security interests across Africa”. Now it’s all about the – updated – US National Security Strategy in Africa, signed by Obama in June 2012. The (conveniently vague) objectives of this strategy are to “strengthen democratic institutions”; encourage “economic growth, trade and investment”; “advance peace and security”; and “promote opportunity and development.”
In practice, it’s Western militarization (with Washington “leading from behind”) versus the ongoing Chinese seduction/investment drive in Africa. In Mali, the ideal Washington scenario would be a Sudan remix; just like the recent partition of North and South Sudan, which created an extra logistical headache for Beijing, why not a partition of Mali to better exploit its natural wealth? By the way, Mali was known as Western Sudan until independence in 1960.
Already in early December a “multinational” war in Mali was on the Pentagon cards.
The beauty of it is that even with a Western-financed, Pentagon-supported, “multinational” proxy army about to get into the action, it’s the French who are pouring the lethal Hollandaise sauce (nothing like an ex-colony “in trouble” to whet the appetite of its former masters). The Pentagon can always keep using its discreet P-3 spy planes and Global Hawk drones based in Europe, and later on transport West African troops and give them aerial cover. But all secret, and very hush hush.
Mr Quagmire has already reared its ugly head in record time, even before the 1,400 (and counting) French boots on the ground went into offense.
A MUJAO commando team (and not AQIM, as it’s been reported), led by who else but the “uncatchable” Belmokhtar, hit a gas field in the middle of the Algerian Sahara desert, over 1,000 km south of Algiers but only 100 km from the Libyan border, where they captured a bunch of Western (and some Japanese) hostages; a rescue operation launched on Wednesday by Algerian Special Forces was, to put it mildly, a giant mess, with at least seven foreign hostages and 23 Algerians so far confirmed killed.
The gas field is being exploited by BP, Statoil and Sonatrach. MUJAO has denounced – what else – the new French “crusade” and the fact that French fighter jets now own Algerian airspace.
As blowback goes, this is just the hors d’oeuvres. And it won’t be confined to Mali. It will convulse Algeria and soon Niger, the source of over a third of the uranium in French nuclear power plants, and the whole Sahara-Sahel.
So this new, brewing mega-Afghanistan in Africa will be good for French neoloconial interests (even though Hollande insists this is all about “peace”); good for AFRICOM; a boost for those Jihadis Formerly Known as NATO Rebels; and certainly good for the never-ending Global War on Terror (GWOT), duly renamed “kinetic military operations”.
Django, unchained, would be totally at home. As for the Oscar for Best Song, it goes to the Bush-Obama continuum: There’s no business like terror business. With French subtitles, bien sur.
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His most recent book is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). He may be reached at email@example.com
Source: Asia Times Online
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, he of the former “zero problems with our neighbors” policy, commented that Assad only reads the reports of his secret services. C’mon, Ahmet; Bashar may be no Stephen Hawking, but he’s certainly getting his black holes right.
Assad, moreover, has a plan: a national dialogue leading to a national charter – to be submitted to a referendum – and then an enlarged government and a general amnesty. The problem is who is going to share all this bottled happiness because Assad totally dismisses the new Syria opposition coalition as well as the Free Syrian Army (FSA), describing them as foreign-recruited gangs taking orders from foreign powers to implement one supreme agenda: the partition of Syria.
Still, Assad’s got a plan. First stage: all foreign powers financing the “terrorists” – as in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization-Gulf Cooperation Council compound – must stop doing so. That’s already a major no-no. Only in a second stage would the Syrian Army cease all its operations, but still reserve the right to respond to any – inevitable – “provocation”.
Assad’s plan does not mention what happens to Assad himself. The only thing the multiple strands of the opposition agree on is that “the dictator must go” before any negotiations take place. Yet he wants to be a candidate to his own succession in 2014.
As if this was not a humongous “detail” torpedoing the whole construct of current UN mediator Lakhdar Brahimi, there’s still the crucial nagging point of Brahimi insisting on including the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in a Syrian transitional government. Brahimi should know better. It’s as if the UN was praying for a Hail Mary pass – that is, Assad’s voluntary abdication.
This ain’t Tora Bora
If you want to know what’s really going in Syria, look no further than Hezbollah secretary-general Sheikh Nasrallah. He does tell it like it is.
Then there’s what Ammar al-Musawi, Hezbollah’s number 3 – as in their de facto foreign minister – told my Italian colleaguem Ugo Tramballi. The most probable post-Assad scenario, if there is one, will be “not a unitary state, but a series of emirates near the Turkish border, and somebody proclaiming an Islamic state”. Hezbollah’s intelligence – the best available on Syria – is adamant: “one third of the combatants in the opposition are religious extremists, and two-thirds of the weapons are under their control.” The bottom line – this is a Western proxy war, with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) acting as a “vanguard” for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Asia Times Online readers have already known this for eons, as much as they know about the tectonic-plates-on-the-move fallacy of GCC autocracies promoting “democracy” in Syria. While the geologically blessed House of Saud has bribed every grain of sand in sight to be immunized against any whiff of Arab Spring, at least in Kuwait the winds of change are forcing the Al-Sabah family to accept a prime minister who is not an emir’s puppet. Yes, petromonarchs; sooner or later you’re all going down.
As for those who ignore Musawi, they do it at their own peril; blowback is and will remain inevitable, “like in Afghanistan”. Musawi adds, “Syria is not Tora Bora; it’s on the Mediterranean coast, close to Europe”. Syria in the 2010s is the 1980s Afghan remix – with exponential inbuilt blowback.
And for those who blindly follow the blind in repeating that Hezbollah is a “terrorist” organization, Hezbollah is closely cooperating with the UN – on the ground with over 10,000 blue helmets, under the command of Italian General Paolo Serra – to keep southern Lebanon free from Syrian civil war contamination.
The dictator has fallen – again
Not surprisingly, that motley crew branded as the “Syrian opposition” rejected Assad en bloc. For the Muslim Brotherhood – the self-styled power in waiting – he is a “war criminal” who should go on trial. For Georges Sabra, the vice-president of that American-Qatari concoction, the National Coalition, Assad’s words were a “declaration of war against the Syrian people”.
Predictably, the US State Department – not yet under John Kerry – said Assad was “detached from reality”. London said it was all hypocrisy and immediately launched yet another “secret” two-day conference this week at Wilton Park in West Sussex mingling coalition members with the usual gaggle of “experts”, academics, GCC officials and “multilateral agencies”. The spectacularly pathetic UK Foreign Secretary William Hague twitted – for the umpteenth time – that “Assad’s departure from power is inevitable”.
Facts on the ground though spell that Assad is not going anywhere anytime soon.
As for British claims that “the international community can provide support to a future transitional authority”, that doesn’t cut much slack among war-weary informed Syrians – who know this civil war has been funded, supplied and amply coordinated by the West, as in the NATO component of the NATOGCC compound.
They smell a – Western – rat in the obsessive characterization of everything in Syria as a sectarian war, as they see how loads of influent Sunnis have remained loyal to the government.
They smell a – Western – rat when they look back and see this whole thing started just as the US$10 billion Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline (crucially bypassing NATO member Turkey) had a chance to be implemented. This would represent a major economic boost to an independent Syria, an absolute no-no as far as Western interests are concerned.
The Obama 2.0 administration – and Israel – would be more than comfortable with the MB in power in Syria, following the Egyptianmodus operandi. The Brotherhood promotes the idea of a “civil state”; one just has to check the few “liberated areas” across Syria to detect rebel civility inbuilt in hardcore Sharia law and assorted beheadings.
Yet what the NATOGCC compound and Israel really want is a Yemeni model for Syria; a military dictatorship without the dictator. What they’re getting instead, for the foreseeable future, is Jihadi Paradise.
Off with their heads
Almost a year ago, al-Qaeda number one Ayman al-Zawahiri called on every Sunni hardcore faithful from Iraq and Jordan to Lebanon, Turkey and beyond to take a trip to Syria and merrily crush Assad.
So they’ve kept coming, including – just like in Afghanistan – Chechens and Uyghurs and Southeast Asians, joining everything from the FSA to Jabhat al-Nusra, the number one killing militia, now with over 5,000 jihadis.
A report published this week by the London-based counterterrorism outfit Quilliam Foundation confirms Al-Nusra’s role. The lead author of the report, Noman Benotman, happens to be a former Libyan jihadi very cosy with al-Zawahiri and the late “Geronimo”, aka Osama bin Laden.
Al-Nusra is in fact the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), the terrorist brand of late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, also known as Islamic State of Iraq after Zarqawi was incinerated by a US missile in 2006. Even the State Department knows that AQI emir Abu Du’a runs both AQI and al-Nusra, whose own emir is Abu Muhammad al-Jawlani.
It’s AQI that facilitates the back-and-forth of Iraqi commanders – with plenty of fighting experience on the ground against the Americans – to sensitive areas in Syria, while the Syrians, Iraqis and Jordanians at al-Nusra also work the phones to extract funding from Gulf sources. Al-Nusra wants – what else – an Islamic State not only in Syria but all over the Levant. Favorite tactic: car and truck suicide bombings as well as remote-controlled car bombs. For the moment, they keep a tense collaboration/competition regime with the FSA.
What happens next? The new Syrian National Coalition is a joke. Those GCC bastions of democracy are now totally spooked by the jihadi tsunami. Russia drew the red line and NATO won’t dare to bomb; Russians and Americans are now discussing details. And sooner or later Ankara will see the writing on the wall – and revert to a policy of at least minimizing trouble with the neighbors.
Assad saw The Big Picture – clearly, thus his “confident” speech. It’s now Assad against the jihadis. Unless, or until, the new CIA under Terminator John Brennan drones itself into the (shadow war) picture with a vengeance.
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His most recent book is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Asia Times Online
A cri de coeur from a student at Damascus University…
Damascus - This observer has learned from time in this region that if one wants to learn what is happening on the ground politically and socially it is fine to speak with government officials, journalists, long tenured academicians, NGO’s, and people on the street. But I have learned that one of the best sources of objective information comes from university students. As explained to one official the other day, if ones sit with half a dozen graduate students one is sure to witness and benefit from a spirited, challenging exchange with varying points of view and few expressed without having to justify to the others one’s positions or interpretation of events.
It is for this reason that when this observer gets the chance he heads for a college in Damascus.
Today in Syria, from the streets and cafes to the Universities, a main subject of discussion and one that is nearly universally judged immoral and illegal are the US-led sanctions that in effect, are targeting the civilian population.
Partly as result of these brutal sanctions, today four million people in this country need of some type of humanitarian aid and as of today, there are 637,958 registered refugees inside Syria who are in need of emergency help, a 57,000 person increase from last year at this time.
The fighting here has obviously contributed to the continuing crisis faced by the civilian population. For example, the increasingly dangerous situation means that the World Food Program has evacuated its staff from Homs, Aleppo, Tartus Qamisly and other areas. The reason is that the past three months saw a sharp rise in the number of attacks on WFP aid trucks, which have also been hit by fuel shortages. Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency has just reported that the number of refugees fleeing the violence in Syria has leapt by nearly 100,000 in the past month. Both the Syrian Arab Republic Red Crescent Society and other NGO’s-foreign and domestic- are stretched beyond their limits and are struggling with approximately 10,000 more people in the areas they are able to assist every month being added to those in desperate need of help.
Virtually all the NGO’s here attest to the fact that if the US-led sanctions are lifted or even suspended until the spring, it would be a humanitarian gesture consistent with American claimed values. To continue to allow the dying and suffering under the weight of these sanctions suggests that we in America have learned nothing from the results of similar sanctions imposed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The deeply inhumane US-led sanctions prevent businesses from re opening, investments from being made, financial transactions, re-supply, and other necessary economic activities which means the basic necessities such as mazot fuel to heat homes, is very hard to come by as well as bread in many areas. These shortages are the direct and foreseeable results of the sanctions and rebel sabotage, as to a lesser extent of Lebanese, Turkish and other smugglers buying up the supplies and spiriting them across the borders to cash in on black market price gauging.
As a result of the sanctions, food prices have soared beyond the means of much of the Syrian civilian population. Too many of the young, old, infirm, and impoverished are dying monthly, according to Nizar, an English literature major, as a direct and foreseeable consequence of these sanctions.
The single rational foreigners visiting Damascus hear from Washington, and what the Obama administration is telling EU countries that are becoming concerned, is that the sanctions are vital to achieve regime change in Syria and when the government falls–to be replaced but who knows what or who– the US will then lift the sanctions and remove its boot from the throats of Syria’s students and civilian population.
Nizar takes another view. “If terrorism is the killing of innocent civilians for political goals, then your government, the world’s claimed expert on terrorism is very guilty of massive terrorism and doesn’t need to lecture anyone on this subject because this is exactly what they are doing with their sanctions in my country.”
The fervent wishes of the US-Israel and certain other governments to the contrary, regime change is not likely to happen anytime soon in Syria according to most of the students this observer meet with, and it’s the next four months that are critical they insist-starting today.
Syrian students follow local and regional events closely and a common view is that from Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, Jordan and even some on capitol hill in Washington, are coming multiple signals that all are in consultation via their intelligence services with Syria’s government in order to reach a solution because they finally concede that, despite funding and aiding the rebel panoply with guns, money and training, these countries, including Egypt, that the regime will survive and that the al Nusra type salafists would not be satiated by the fall of Syria but would quickly turn on Doha, Riyad, Amman, the UAE and other countries in the region.
History instructs us those sanctions do not cause regime change and those affected are not the ones wielding power. It’s the wretched, the poor, the huddled refuge seeking to survive, to paraphrase Lazarus’ inscription on our Statute of Liberty who we are being ground into early graves by American government imposed sanctions.
The political goals of the sanctions imposed on Syrian civilian are one thing. The reality, quite another. US sanctions, some still in place against Cuba, after more than 53 years were a failure, as were US sanctions in China, Vietnam Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Libya and now Syria, to name a few.
“They are all about unbridled vengeance, not rational consequences as offered in press releases from US government agencies” explained Samer, a business major from Aleppo.
Once more, much of the world including this region, as well as history will condemn the United States for these brutal economic crimes against a defenseless civilian population. Equally, among American citizens and others I have met recently in Lebanon, Egypt and Libya, who know what is happening on the ground in Syria. The overwhelming percentage does not accept and will never accept targeting innocent civilians, whether by drones or sanctions. They express feelings of shame, not just for the past 11 years of unnecessary, criminal wars of choice in this region but for the current and continuing sanctions crime against the Syrian people.
The hatred that our government has brought to itself over more than 15 years of targeting civilians is intensifying daily because those suffering and dying here in Syria due to starvation and the effects of the now freezing temperatures in Syria, do not blame their government nearly as much as our American policy makers apparently hoped for. Rather, they blame, quite correctly, our government.
As one observer noted this week, “The tents are drenched. Kids are crying. Puddles of water are all over…I am walking; my shoes are covered with rainwater. I can’t remember being so cold. I don’t even want to think about more than half of those living in my area. Something has to be done.”
We American are demonstrating yet again to the world that we have the power to destroy civilian populations. But we are better than that as a people. And in the words of Oregon’s late Senator Wayne Morse, “each one of us has a personal obligation to change, by all legal means necessary, our governments criminal acts.”
Sitting at our table in the student union refectory at Damascus University on 1/9/12, Rana, a passionate and, on that occasion indignant, history student majoring in American history and culture may have reflected accurately the views of many on Syrian campuses these days.
Rana wished out loud to us that she could tell Barack Obama face to face: “Mr. President, in 1987 on the 750th anniversary of Berlin, your predecessor Ronald Reagan, spoke about the importance of human dignity and challenged Russian leader Gorbachev, to “tear down this wall.” In 2013, we students and our families from Damascus, the city of Jasmine, which was inhabited as early as 8,000 BC, and whose livelihood, opportunities and hope you are destroying today for no sane reason, urge you to ‘tear down these sanctions’, come to Syria, visit our campus, and engage in dialogue with us.”
The Syrians are a great people. Rana, and her student colleagues, are a credit to Syria and to all humanity.