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Women Without Men: Problems in Iraq and in Berkeley

January 16, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Berkeley womanRecently an African-American friend of mine asked me a rather strange question. “Do you know what really annoys me?” he asked. I don’t know, what? That Obama sold out healthcare? The high price of gold? My current bad hair day? Sarah Palin pretending to be a populist? What? “It’s the way that some African-American women just look at me like I was a piece of fresh meat.” Oh dear. Do we really want to go there?

“Sometimes you can just see their minds working. ‘If I can just convince him that I’m sexy, then he’ll want me for my body and if he wants me badly enough, then he’ll marry me and then we can have children.’ I call it ‘Motherhood Fever’. And it just drives me nuts.”

I can get behind that. Babies are totally cute — and for a very good reason. They are purposely made that way in order to preserve the species. If a baby is cute enough, then you will be more likely to put up with all that diaper-changing and incessant crying and having to walk the floor with them at night.

In fact, I’m even about to bounce up to the local maternity hospital and ask them if I can volunteer in the baby nursery there. Why not? I’m a world record-holder for getting a collicky baby to smile — two minutes or less! You got a collicky one-month-old? Call me! I’m there! But I digress.

“These time-ticking lady baby machines don’t even see me as a person,” continued my friend. “It’s enough to put one off of sex forever. Whenever I see one of those women coming in those tight spandex dresses that show everything, all I want to do is run!” I used to be that way. I used to equate sex with love. Back in the 1960s, almost every man in Berkeley wanted me because I was HOT. But none of them loved me for myself. But then finally it dawned on me. Men DO NOT equate sex with love. Except perhaps for Tiger Woods. I totally understand where these women are coming from. I used to be that way too.

“Will somebody PLEEZE up the supply of eligible Black men so I can just get on with my life!” sighed my friend.

Hey, that’s easy to do. Let’s stop putting so many African-American men in jail for crimes that don’t involve others (such as Lil’ Wayne being jailed for smoking pot and owning guns — where is the NRA when you really need it?) and spend all the tax money we save on better schools and more jobs. Problem solved.

And then I got to thinking about how my friend’s situation might also apply to the men of Afghanistan and Iraq. Perhaps as many as one million men have been killed over there in the last nine years, plus, to quote a recent article in Yahoo News, “Cancer is spreading like wildfire in Iraq…. The cancer rate in the province of Babil, south of Baghdad, has risen from 500 diagnosed cases in 2004 to 9,082 in 2009.” Just think about that.

What if the women of Iraq and Afghanistan are now developing “Motherhood Fever” too? Then the counterinsurgents will not only have to be out fighting off the U.S. military all the time, but also they will have to be spending every spare moment fighting off prospective brides as well. With all that cat-fighting going on, it’s becoming like an Afghan version of “The Bachelor”.

I got an answer to that problem too. Just ship all the excess women that have been created by “war” in the Middle East off to China. There’s a vast shortage of women in rural China I’ve been told. Arab women would be appreciated in rural China. And I bet that African-American women would be appreciated there too. Heck, ship me off there as well — but I would prefer not to marry a farmer. Plowing ruins the nails.

PS: I think that white American women probably also have the same problem as African-American and Arab women. Apparently the toll on the number of eligible white American males as a result of the “wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan has been fairly high too — much higher than we think. There are a lot less American men than there used to be due to all those unnecessary Bush-Obama administration “wars” in the Middle East. If you don’t just count the soldiers who have died in-country but also count in all those soldiers who died after being evacuated, all the military suicides, all the victims of Gulf War Syndrome, all the violent deaths of victims of returned soldiers with PTSD and all the soldiers who nobody would want to marry anyway because they have already died inside their minds after returning from the horrors of those wars, then you have a significantly lower number of eligible white American men for all America’s desperate “Bachelorettes”.

According to Army Times, “Americans should prepare to accept hundreds of U.S. casualties each month in Afghanistan during spring offensives with enemy forces.” Then they quote Gen. Barry McCaffrey, an adjunct professor of international affairs at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point as saying, “What I want to do is signal that this thing is going to be $5 billion to $10 billion a month and 300 to 500 killed and wounded a month by next summer. That’s what we probably should expect. And that’s light casualties,”

Long-time war correspondent Lori Gricker just published a book entitled, “Afterwar: Veterans From a World of Conflict”. In Chris Hedges’ review of Gricker’s book in the Los Angeles Times, he stated that, “Those who pay the price, those who are maimed forever by war, are shunted aside, crumpled up and thrown away. They are war’s refuse. We do not see them. We do not hear them…. The message they bring is too painful for us to hear.” But these huge numbers of American men who are no longer on the marriage market still exist.

“How many?” you might ask.

In 2007, blogger-activist Clive Boustred collected data from a Veterans Administration website and added up the figures. “On page 7 of the official VA report, the number of U.S. soldiers partaking in the illegal invasion of the Gulf is listed as 6,838,541 soldiers. Just below that the VA estimated number of living soldiers is listed at 4,525,865. In other words 2,312,676 US Gulf War Veterans are dead! Not many active duty soldiers serving from 1990 are likely to have died from old age or natural causes by April 2007. The report details deaths in various conflicts as reported to the VA by DoD, utterly contradicting the government and mainstream media number of 4,000 dead.”

With regard to the more recent Middle East “wars,” Boustred supplied the following information: “Total U.S. Military Gulf War Deaths: 73,846,” based on 17,847 deployed deaths and 55,999 non-deployed deaths. “Total number of disability claims filed: 1,620,906. Disability Claims amongst Deployed: 407,911. Total ‘Undiagnosed Illness’ (UDX) claims: 14,874. Disability Claims amongst Non-Deployed: 1,212,995.” And that number has probably risen considerably since 2007.

That’s a whole big bunch of non-eligible marriageable men!

According to journalist T. Christian Miller, there is also a big problem among contractors who worked abroad for such companies as Blackwater and KBR and came back disabled and maimed for life. Are they being counted too? Not according to Miller. In an article entitled, “Injured Abroad, Neglected at Home: Labor Dept. Slow to Help War Zone Contractors,” Miller stated that, “More than 1,600 civilian [contractors] have died and 37,000 have reported injuries.”

I myself wrote an article on the subject of injured returned contractors — regarding an acquaintance of mine named Dave Crow. Dave allegedly committed suicide after returning from Iraq, where he was exposed to toxic waste. Whether he killed himself or died some other way, Dave had become a “Dead Man Walking” from the moment he came home from Iraq. “I was only over there for four months,” he told me. “I was a truck driver for KBR. The money was good. But our camp was located over the site of a former depleted uranium dump and I got really sick. My body started just wasting away and now I’m weak, unhealthy, living in a trailer outside of San Diego and basically screwed up.” Our Dave is now dead. No wedding date for him.

PPS: in Argentina last month, I heard a lot of talk about the mistreatment of both soldiers and veterans of the Falkland Island wars. Apparently Argentina’s military dictatorship had wanted this war as a means of distracting people away from hatred of their totalitarian regime. So the dictatorship sent a bunch of ill-equipped and ill-trained young boys out to the Falklands in sub-zero-degree temperatures to die horrendous, painful and unnecessary deaths for no reason. These boys were not even given warm overcoats. Many — if not most — of them simply froze to death. Argentinians are still really pissed off about that — especially the women.

And if I was a young Afghan, Iraqi or American woman today, I would be pissed off too — and angry enough to put an end to all war!

PPS: If anyone knows how I could volunteer to help out in Haiti, please let me know. And if you want to make a donation, my friend Arla suggests this site:

Since its inception in March 2004, the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund (H.E.R.F.) has given concrete aid to Haiti’s grassroots democratic movement as they attempted to survive the brutal coup and to rebuild shattered development projects. We urge you to contribute generously, not only for this immediate crisis, but in order to support the long-run development of human rights, sustainable agriculture and economic justice in Haiti. ALL MONEY GOES DIRECTLY TO GRASS ROOTS ORGANIZATIONS.

There are two ways to donate: By Pay Pal at: < http://www.haitiaction.net/About/HERF/1_12_10.html>
or Mail — check made out to: “Haiti Emergency Relief Fund/EBSC”. Donations tax deductible. Send mail to:
East Bay Sanctuary Covenant
2362 Bancroft Way
Berkeley, CA 94704
EBSC is a non-profit 502(c)(3) organization tax ID#94-249753.
We will acknowledge all donations


Jane Stillwater is a regular columnist for Novakeo.com
She can be reached at:
jpstillwater@yahoo.com

Wars “R” Us

January 6, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Making the World Safe for American Domination…

Wars "R" UsIn destructive economic systems, there is a feedback loop wherein it becomes self-confirming that greed and aggression lead to gains rather than acts that involve “playing by the rules”, sharing profits, cooperating and helping others to prosper. As activities on Wall Street and in transnational corporations confirm, successful players are expected to produce income by any means possible, pay workers as little as required, charge as much as can be obtained for products and always tap into new markets for an enlarged customer base. It, also, requires a perception to be created that some newly devised product is desirable and must replace the older versions for which there is often built-in obsolescence.

In any case, new markets must always be found in order to raise financial yields. Any corporate manager who did not strive to develop them would quickly find himself in an unemployment office in addition to his being blacklisted by former colleagues.

Moreover, new stocks of resources, the raw materials from which products are made, must be tapped for global industries regardless of whether the people in the regions supplying these stores want to share them or not. In a similar vein, large scale commercial operations heavily rely on fossil fuels in the obtainment of raw resources, haulage of them to manufacturing sites, production of finished products and transportation of merchandise to market. So a steady source of petroleum must, also, be guaranteed.

This entire process, therefore, requires government leaders in support of their countries’ industries to wrestle control of needed goods. Simultaneously, they have to convince the public that there are solid reasons to carry out assaults in resource rich regions of the world — places like the Caspian Sea, with its oil estimates ranging up to about 200 billion barrels or 15% of total world reserves. Add to this treasure the fact that the Caspian Sea, also, is believed to contain 4% of the world’s proven reserves of gas according to the Congressional Research Service, an organization supplying bipartisan information to Congress, in its report titled “Caspian Oil and Gas: Production and Prospects”.

Indeed, its author Bernard A. Gelb, a specialist in industry economics, states: “There is a likelihood of relatively large reserves of crude oil and natural gas in the Caspian Sea region, and a consequent large increase in oil and natural gas production from that area. Because diversity of energy sources and energy security are considerations in Congressional deliberations on energy policy, this prospect could play a role in such discussions. However, there are obstacles to increases in Caspian Sea region production of oil and gas [such as Russia's and Iran's unwillingness to hand Caspian Sea resources over to U.S. control] that may slow development.” He goes on to add: “However, Iran now can compete somewhat with the BTC pipeline through oil “swaps” that ultimately divert Caspian region oil away from Western, including U.S., markets. Iran has enlarged its tanker terminal at Neka on the Caspian Sea coast, enhancing its capacity to deliver Caspian oil to refineries for local consumption, with an equivalent amount of Iranian oil exported through Persian Gulf terminals.” [1]

Put alternately, uncooperative countries, such as Iran and Venezuela, with assets coveted by western corporations give the perfect excuse to western governments to demonize them, threaten them and seek out destabilization of their regimes. All the same, the maligned nations will not let their reserves be plundered whether bullied or not by outside groups willing to use any means possible to obtain their prizes.

Further, full government support of corporate goals is nearly always available. After all, members of Congress want huge donations for reelection campaigns.

At the same time, it becomes quickly clear about whose interests they, ultimately, serve (rather than the public’s) when government officials’ desire for these contributions, lucrative future jobs after exiting public service and maximization of personal profits from their financial holdings are added into the mix. Indeed, “members of Congress invested nearly 196 million dollars of their own money in business that receive hundreds of millions of dollars a day from Pentagon”. [2] So taken all together, these conditions provide plenty of motivation to keep the nation’s war drums beating.

(http://www.allhatnocattle.net/iraq_mcdonalds1.jpg)

Therefore, wars are big business, most notably for investors and employees in the aerospace and defense industries. The related purposes, like the ones guiding most corporations, are hardly humanistic. Instead new sources of revenue, cheap resources from conquered lands, and new markets for products and services are the sine qua non.

Accordingly, the Pentagon and the corporations that supplies goods and manpower for wars have one general intention in mind and that is not even to win wars. Winning wars would mean that money-spinning contracts and growth of the organizations’ national and global influence would shrink. Jobs, then, would disappear, high salaries would not be commanded and gargantuan earnings would cut back if wars were, actually, won and, thus, completed.

Instead, the intention is to strengthen control of regions and their resources, open up new markets for one’s own country’s products, continually advance into new territories to create the same outcome and, eventually, dictate assorted policies across the entire world. Consequently, the U.S.A., despite having a $12T federal deficit, aims to advance its ongoing plans to have full-spectrum dominance over the economies, territories, politics, military affairs and other entire governments on a full global scale and in support of American enterprises.

It, also, means that an all-out attempt to quell the Taliban will take place since Afghanistan and Pakistan are both needed to move the fossil fuels to emerging markets and ensure that central Asian economies are tied to U.S. corporate interests rather than those of Russia and China. On account, it is critical that both  latter nations be blocked if western dominion over Asian markets for obtainment of raw resources and sales of final products, i.e., fossil fuels, are to result.

In the same vein, American citizens are not much of a consideration. After all, markets and remuneration for oil and other supplies might be superlative in India, China or other lands with advancing economies and plenty of money to spare. As such, concern over protection of us from terrorists (the latest justification for carrying out assaults abroad in lands like Yemen) and any desire to improve the lives of peoples in the U.S. or developing countries are minor considerations at best.  Instead, it is far more on the mark to ask, as did Woodrow Wilson: “Is there any man, is there any woman, let me say any child here that does not know that the seed of war in the modern world is industrial and commercial rivalry?”

So one winds up wondering whether a moment will ever arrive in which the public can, actually, identify this origin for wars and rise up in resistance to such a degenerate state of affairs. As an alternative, the populace can continue to equate support of war with a patriotic spirit, enthusiastically wave flags every time that there’s a parade with tanks and other weaponry, and endorse far-away assaults with hardly a dissenting murmur. Meanwhile war activities, themselves, increasingly bankrupt the country morally and financially.

As such, it is useful to bear in mind that warfare almost exclusively concerns resources and trade except for religious rivalries and the small scale fighting of feudal lords. With the desire to gain ever greater advantages for oneself and one’s own group by taking these away from other subjugated groups, campaigns have always been perpetuated under false pretexts, especially so when energy supplies are involved.

It follows, then, that any politician not exhibiting Woodrow Wilson’s stark honesty on this point is both a liar and a propagandist with the ulterior motive to control public perception so there is advancement of war. This understanding, if nothing else, should be absolutely clear.

At the same time, the use of contractors all but guarantees that the sort of public backlash that occurred from so many troops having been killed and injured in Vietnam will not be repeated. If there exists no mandatory conscription due to freelancers being used, American citizens will feel less threatened by war even though they are paying an exorbitant amount for it and for the aid to far-away lands that the U.S. government wants to influence through bribes.

And the bribes keep coming. For example, a record State Department and foreign aid budget, amounting $49 billion, cleared the House last summer.

So is it surprising that some Americans are furious that universal single-payer healthcare, infrastructure repairs, WPA-style jobs and budget relief for insolvent States in the union aren’t adequately provided? Is it flabbergasting that they are outraged over Israel receiving $2.4B in foreign aid (ostensibly used to buy weapons primarily manufactured by U.S. companies) in 2008 with an additional $30B promised over the next 10 years period? Should there be annoyance that many other countries receiving aid, i.e., Egypt ($1.7B in 2008), have the funds slated to purchase armaments ($1.3B of that Egyptian total) and have less than sterling human rights records? In any case, USAID’s total assets amounted to $26.1 billion as of September 2009. This huge amount will, certainly, help guarantee that many U.S. agendas abroad will be heartily followed by others.

Moving to become a largely authoritarian militaristic state – the U.S.A. shows little self-constraint as it forces its will, through a combination of buy-offs and assaults, wherever and however it pleases upon the rest of the world. As a result, it has to create a positive perception and ever larger gifts of money to acquire allies, certainly, fit the bill.

In addition, Americans no longer getting riled up because their sons were conscripted through a mandatory recruitment system, also, does so. Instead of a draft, the Pentagon will authorize, according to the Congressional Research Service, between 26,000 to 56,000 additional battlefield contractors in Afghanistan, which would total as a force between 130,000 to 160,000, or very nearly two for every single troop despite the added 30,000 troops recently authorized to ship off to Afghanistan.

In other words, outsourced war, while terribly expensive for taxpayers, seems the wave of the future as it doesn’t foment comprehensive anti-war activism. As such, the act of killing will increasingly become a large scale, lucrative industry supported by U.S. taxes and overseas loans (most notably from China).   So if any unemployed American wants a job, all that he needs to follow is the money, which is increasing going into U.S. invasions largely carried out by private mercenaries. Besides, he has many options if he doesn’t want to become an outworker.

For instance, he could join the armed forces, which offer plenty of opportunities for work since the U.S. government currently has over 1,000 military bases spread out across the world and roughly the same number on U.S. soil. He’d, also, have plenty of company as there, presently, exist 1,445,000 active-duty armed service members, 800,000 DOD civilian employees and 1.2 million National Guards, along with other reservists who are periodically tapped for Middle East ventures.

This vast setup translates to the U.S., with only 4% of the world’s population, allocating more than  $711B annually in military spending, which obviously burdens the taxpayer and removes funds from other programs that would, actually, serve human welfare at home and abroad. In addition, arrangement, obviously, does not lead to global security, nor the alleviation of poverty. If there is any doubt on these points, ask any Iraqi or Afghani his assessment.

Instead regions are destabilized, and the social and material structures that previously had contributed to human benefits largely are blown to smithereens. Even so, fighting insurgents, at least for the U.S.A., will continue to be a mainstay of foreign policy, as well as the U.S. economy, itself.   All in all, the following facts well lay out the course that, instead of heavy reliance on diplomacy, the U.S. leadership has chosen:

  • “US military spending accounts for 48 percent, or almost half, of the world’s total military spending
  • US military spending is more than the next 46 highest spending countries in the world combined
  • US military spending is 5.8 times more than China, 10.2 times more than Russia, and 98.6 times more than Iran.
  • US military spending is almost 55 times the spending on the six “rogue” states (Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria) whose spending amounts to around $13 billion, maximum. (Tabulated data does not include four of the six, as the data only lists nations that have spent over 1 billion in the year, so their budget is assumed to be $1 billion each)
  • US spending is more than the combined spending of the next 45 countries.
  • The United States and its strongest allies (the NATO countries, Japan, South Korea and Australia) spend $1.1 trillion on their militaries combined, representing 72 percent of the world’s total.
  • The six potential “enemies,” Russia, and China together account for about $205 billion or 29% of the US military budget.”

“[T]he lion’s share of this money is not spent by the Pentagon on protecting American citizens. It goes to supporting U.S. military activities, including interventions, throughout the world. Were this budget and the organization it finances called the ‘Military Department,’ then attitudes might be quite different. Americans are willing to pay for defense, but they would probably be much less willing to spend billions of dollars if the money were labeled ‘Foreign Military Operations.’” [3]

In any case, anyone choosing to enter military service should keep in mind that contracting companies often show little loyalty to U.S. troops, nor a sense of responsibility for their actions when involving civilians of war torn countries. This lapse in accountability is clearly demonstrated by the shootings and the recent dismissal of charges against five Blackwater Worldwide security guards for civilian deaths in Iraq. [4]

So instead, there increasingly exist situations in which depraved indifference to life is exhibited. One of many such circumstances is this one describing KBR’s seemingly deliberate neglect to inform in a timely fashion about troop exposure to a highly poisonous chemical, sodium dichromate, at a site in Iraq overseen by KBR. In addition, KBR is fighting a reparatory lawsuit related to the incident.  After all, any deserved payout for damage and death is to be avoided at all costs as remuneration would, absolutely, impact company earnings.

Concerning the event:   “What upsets some of the Guardsmen most of all is that, after serving their country faithfully, they believe the Army and KBR let them down by not fully acknowledging or investigating their exposure to the toxic chemical or their serious health problems. Some suffered for years and only recently have a possible explanation why.”   “[Sodium dichromate] had been used by Iraqi workers prior to the war to prevent corrosion in the pipes at the plant. There were hundreds of bags at the chemical at the plant, some of them clearly labeled.
“The mission’s official military name was Task Force RIO (‘Restoration of Iraqi Oil’). KBR got the contract.

“Six years later, some of the Guardsmen assigned to provide security for Task Force RIO at the plant are dead, dying or suffering from serious health problems–including rashes, perforated septums and lung disease. One of the foremost experts in sodium dichromate, Dr. Herman Gibb, says the Guardsmen’s symptoms are consistent with ‘significant exposure’ to the chemical.

“KBR argues that the company is not to blame. The company says it told the Army about the dangerous chemical as soon as it was identified at the plant. That, the company says, was on July 25, 2003.

“But, international KBR documents contradict that claim, and indicate that the company became aware of the chemical at the site two months earlier.” [5]

Of course, one cannot expect mercenaries and outside contractors operating in war zones to care much about the lives of troops or others. After all, their main loyalty is not to the U.S. military, nor the U.S.A. as a whole, but to the companies that hired them and through which they are being paid to do whatever they are told.

Ben Heine/ MWC NEWS (http://www.mwcnews.net)

Aside from war zone contracting firms, many other transnational consortiums are doing equally well during the economic downturn, as the multimillion dollar bonuses given to management of these power houses continually remind. One such company is McDonald’s. In fact, its balance sheet even indicates that it has been wildly prospering since the recession worsened.

With always more deforested land available around the globe, impoverished peoples looking to make a fast buck are more and more turning to cattle ranching and soy farming for animal feed. So therein lies plenty of breaks for McDonald’s.

Not having to subsume the environmental costs for its policies, it and several other fast food syndicates are cornering the market in sales for families wanting to eat out, but without the funds to dine at more costly eateries. So for the first quarter of 2009, sales went up and earned an impressive $979.5 million, a nearly 4% increase. The rest of the year followed suit despite fears that a strengthening dollar might lower gains due to the exchange rate for other currencies collected at overseas’ sites.

However, the company’s management in Oak Brook, Ill really needn’t have worried. After all, there are over 31,000 restaurants worldwide, with more than 1.5 million workers operating in 119 countries on six continents with over 47 million daily customers. So major losses would hardly be in the picture given that the majority of people around the world are now struggling to make ends meet.

At the same time, these stats are bound to change for the better when even more populations are inundated by American armed forces bent on subduing them, inadvertently destroying local businesses and creating opportunities for ever more McDonald’s workers forced to accept minimum wages as an alternative to no job in their newly destroyed lands. Like their impoverished American counterparts, who’ve been stripped of good jobs with decent wages in the mad rush towards globalized industry, they too can find the satisfaction of a secure employment position with a low salary and, at the end of a weary day, a happy meal as an extra perk.

As McDonald’s leadership surely must know, bringing “democracy” to developing nations, eventually, has a big payoff for American businesses focused on wiping out the small scale competition like Mom and Pop restaurants overseas. If one can endure patient waiting, the further openings will be a veritable whopper. It’s just a matter of time.

In the end, wars are successful commercial enterprises. As a result, they are, progressively, becoming the foundation for the new American economy. Especially this is so as former jobs are not coming back to the American shores in that it’s cheaper for transnational companies to outsource and offshore work.

In relation, the Second World War not only jump-started the American economy in the aftermath of the Great Depression, it provided lots of employment prospects for many subsequent years on account of the need to rebuild across whole continents and in their devastated cities like London, Dresden, Mukden (now Shenyang) and Ningbo. This is not the case this time around due to the heavy reliance on outside contractors, who more often than not don’t reconstruct much well at all, as the U.S. soldier electrocutions on a base in Baghdad and the Task Force RIO poisonings clearly demonstrate. In other words, they often are potentially dangerous and largely useless.

This all in mind, any financial and other benefits from warfare will not uplift Main Street. Instead, they increasingly will serve the special interests of corporations. As such, the economic downturn will continue to deepen throughout the U.S.A. while thousands of foreigners in assault zones are maimed and murdered.

Consequently, all that we can hope is that Russia and China will persist in making improvements in their own nations and the lives of their citizens. It’s obvious that, if they were to mimic America’s squandering of money in ever enlarging wars, the outcome wouldn’t be good at all.

[1] ”Caspian Oil and Gas: Production and Prospects”, CRS Report for Congress Received through the CRS Web, Bernard A. Gelb; Resources, Science, and Industry Division at Caspian Oil and Gas: Production and Prospects [http://italy.usembassy.gov/pdf/other/RS21190.pdf].

[2] FINANCE: U.S. Lawmakers Invested in Iraq, Afghanistan Wars – … [http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=41893].

[3]  ”In Context: US Military Spending Versus Rest of the World” and “The Billions for ‘Defense’ Jeopardize Our Safety”, Center For Defense Information at World Military Spending — Global Issues [http://www.globalissues.org/article/75/world-military-spending].

[4] Blackwater Dismissal Risks Hurting Iraq Relations – WSJ.com [http://online.wsj.com/article/SB126229226969112429.html].

[5] NBC News Investigation: Toxic water in Iraq – The Daily … [http://dailynightly.msnbc.msn.com/articles/2120353.aspx].


Emily Spence is a regular columnist for Novakeo.com
She can be reached at: ehspence@aol.com

Ever Expanding Wars: An Appalling New Year Certainty

December 29, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

American SoldierA message repeatedly making the rounds on the Internet shows a picture of an American airman, John Gebhardt, holding an injured Iraqi child on his lap and the accompanying text explains about his sympathetic provision of comfort to her and others. [1] In addition, the reason that it is all the rage, especially amongst neoconservatives, is that the senders can, in their minds, use the depiction to “prove” that U.S. military personnel undeniably have magnanimous intentions. Subsequently, the message indirectly substantiates their position that U.S. armed forces are overseas fighting wars solely to improve the lives of foreigners and protect American freedoms at home.

Yes, it is touching to see a kindly man reassure a youngster, but the scene and its description in no way verify anything altruistic about American motives in the Middle East. Indeed, both could serve to remind that the wounded child would not have been hurt with which to begin had U.S. warmongers not chosen Iraq as a site for a comprehensive invasion, one that should never have been initiated in the first place. They, also, stand in stark contrast to other renditions of U.S. troop actions, which run the gamut from selflessly heroic to atrociously horrific.

For example, one graphic and disturbing image sums up the violence that is always at the heart of war. Titled “American Soldier showing a severed Iraqi arm hung in a mosque to terrorize the Iraqi resistance”, it portrays a gloating American youth in fatigues flaunting his prize. [2] The spoils of the hunt, his gruesome human arm, was hung against the wall of a house of worship like a rancid slab of meat.

In response to seeing the shot, I could not resist imagining an invading force coming to the U.S.A. to topple our government and gain control of our oil reserves. As such, I pictured that same mangled limb as the remains of an American resistance fighter, one’s neighbor perhaps, strung up at the doorway of a town’s church or synagogue.

Concurrently, I could conjure up the way that Americans would regard the foreign attackers were they forced to prostitute their children to mercenaries, ones like the Blackwater’s warriors paid by the invading forces’ government, in order to provide food for their families. [3] Similarly, I could imagine the way that U.S. citizens would think about citizens of the invading country, so ‘cozy’ in their own lives, while their own homes, jobs sites, electricity plants, water supplies, schools, hospitals, transportation routes and other critical parts of their lives were blown up and contaminated with toxins, such as depleted uranium delivered from assorted types of projectiles.

Of course, government leaders can convincingly state anything that they want as justification for offensive raids into foreign lands. They can mention the need to destroy weapons of mass destruction (that will never be found) through the use of one’s own weapons of mass destruction, the desire to bring democracy to backwards peoples, the obligation to protect far-away populations from dangerous terrorists, the Orwellian wish to bring peace through war or any number of other outlandish excuses.

Simultaneously, they can give glorious pro-war speeches filled with half truths like Barack Obama’s address at West Point aimed at gaining support for war expansion. (In connection, it is useful to remember Adolf Hitler once stating: “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.”)

Yet propagandistic talks, regardless of whether they are sincerely stated or even believed, can never undercut the facts as spelled out by Admiral Gene LaRocque: “I hate it when they say, ‘He gave his life for his country.’ Nobody gives their life for anything. We steal the lives of these kids. We take it away from them. They don’t die for the honor and glory of their country. We kill them.” [4] Yes, we kill them in the bid to gain geopolitical control of energy stores and pipeline corridors that deliver the supplies, and we slaughter again and again ever more innocent civilians in the process.

In times to come, finite resources, such as uranium and fossil fuels, will be increasingly used up. Countries that either harbor the remaining supplies or that are en route for their delivery will be posed as hostile and dangerous to Western interests if they do not cave in to Western demands. Accordingly, various bogus reasons will again be fabricated as justifications for invading them and the affiliated costs will again be subsumed by the invading countries’ citizens despite the result as is spelled out by Abraham Flexner: “Probably, no nation is rich enough to pay for both war and civilization. We must make our choice; we cannot have both.” [5]

No, indeed, we can’t have both. We simply cannot afford the social, environmental and financial price tag. At the same time, we cannot afford the lost funding for essential programs like universal health-care provision and infrastructure repairs at home. Similarly, we cannot bear the added costs to rebuild whole nations after devastating their landscapes. After war expenditures, there’s just not enough money to spare for much else.

Moreover, we cannot accept the untimely deaths in the hundreds upon hundreds of thousands. They weigh too heavily on the national conscience — that is if one can even exist after so much unbridled wanton carnage.

At the same time, we cannot cope with the nearly permanent poison spreading across the Earth and its waterways from DU tipped weapons. Likewise, we cannot contend with the poisoning of more and more minds of warfare victims who turn into dedicated terrorists as payback.

Besides, why should we be forced to support greedy war profiteers such as are found at Halliburton KBR, Xe, Exxon Mobil and drug cartels, who get kickbacks to leave our troops alone? Why should we be expected to subsume the overall high outlay, such as the recent U.S. $636 billion military spending bill demands, on top of crippling deficits, such as the U.S. public debt that is quickly soaring towards $13 trillion?

Frankly, we can’t afford to destroy region after region while terrorizing their civilians in a bid to put puppet governments in place whose despots will sell off their land’s resources to the highest bidders. Certainly, we cannot, with any scruples involved, use these destroyed places’ petroleum products to fuel further armed invasions in a bid to secure further resources for western corporate, rather than Russian and Chinese, interests.

In short, we absolutely cannot expend lavish amounts on wars — period. We cannot for the sake of the people harmed and killed, we cannot for the sake of the environment, and we cannot when Americans are starving and jobless on homeland soil.

Clearly, employment opportunities could be generated by shifting war funds into creation of work supporting provision of alternative energy as a substitute for fossil fuels. Wouldn’t that be far better than the current expansion of wars in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and other strategic locations? Isn’t it a constructive alternative to building huge bases in countries that abut oil rich Iran and Venezuela?

As long as the response to such questions is always “no”, we can expect ever larger and more greatly drawn out wars. We can anticipate that fossil fuels used in such fights will disappear more rapidly than otherwise would occur. Eventually, we can, also, be assured that the ongoing reckless military rampage will lead to a third world war if Russian or Chinese leaders, finally, reach a limit to the threats that can be endured from western imperial hubris.

In fact, how can anyone anywhere embrace an increasingly extensive war trajectory? If the answer to such an enquiry seems ambiguous at best, it, without a doubt, will become patently clear quite soon enough.

References

[1] snopes.com: John Gebhardt [http://www.snopes.com/photos/military/gebhardt.asp].
[2] Warning: Image is graphic: Imperialism [http://www.worldproutassembly.org/archives/2007/12/imperialism.html].
[3] Blackwater used ‘child prostitutes in Iraq’ [http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=102887&sectionid=3510203].
[4] Admiral Gene LaRocque Quotes/Quotations [http://quotes.liberty-tree.ca/quotes_by/admiral+gene+larocque].
[5] Quotes [http://www.antiwar.com/quotes.php].


Emily Spence is a regular columnist for Novakeo.com
She can be reached at: ehspence@aol.com

Why Obama’s Surge in Afghanistan?

December 3, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

AfghanistanTuesday’s announcement that President Obama will send an additional 30,000 soldiers to Afghanistan — while begging his foreign allies to send an extra 10,000 — will have dramatic effects throughout the American and world society.

The hope that Obama’s election would drastically change U.S. foreign policy has been destroyed. The effects of his troop surge will change the minds of millions of Americans, who, until this point, were giving Obama the benefit of the doubt.

Such moments in history are capable of instantly removing piles of dust from the collective eyeball — just as the bank bailouts did.

The announcement will also send tremors throughout the military: many soldiers and their families remained silent about fighting with hopes that Obama would bring them home. They see little point in dying in a pointless war. Thus, morale is likely to continue deteriorating, while more brazen acts of defiance will surely increase.

The reasons behind the surge — Al Qaeda, “rooting out terrorism,” etc. — are unlikely to fool many people, with the exception of the media. This “war on terror” propaganda is based on the same illogical catch-phrases that Bush’s limited intelligence tripped over. Coming from Obama, such stupid reasoning sounds especially bizarre, akin to an evolutionary biologist forced to argue in favor of creationism.

Obama is compelled to tell the really big lie because the truth is too damning. If he remotely approached the real motives behind the war, the public would be pushed into total defiance — Obama’s new $660 billion military budget for 2010 would have caused mass demonstrations.

In reality, the war in Afghanistan was a convenient way for U.S. corporations — who dominate U.S. politics — to get a firmer hold in the resource-rich Middle East. For example, soon after Afghanistan was invaded, we were told that Iraq was a “ticking time bomb,” while now Obama assures us that Pakistan is the real threat — and don’t forget Iran! When considering the above military budget, these countries are threats to the U.S in the same way that a flea is a threat to an elephant.

Who really benefits from war in the Middle East? So far, U.S. weapons manufacturers have (Boeing, etc.), U.S. oil companies (Exxon, etc.), and the big banks that help move the spoils around (Citigroup, etc.) who also dominate the finances of the conquered country. Corporations that deal with “reconstruction” contracts love war (Halliburton, etc.), while also the multitude of “private contractors” that specialize in everything from cooking (Halliburton again) to mercenary fighting (Blackwater, etc.).

The many U.S. corporations that export abroad also benefit from the war, since a dominated country offers them a monopoly market to sell their goods in, or the ability to set up shop where none existed before. It is these collective interests that are driving Obama’s foreign policy; they would rather see the U.S. and Afghani people bled dry than allow a foreign competitor — China, Russia, etc. — to dominate Afghanistan’s resources and markets.

The U.S. is certainly not fighting terrorists in Afghanistan — the Al Qaeda bogey men and the “evil genius” Osama Bin Laden are not directing military operations from a cave. The vast majority of people fighting U.S. troops are not “Islamic extremists” (another catchphrase), but average citizens enraged by foreign troops rummaging around in their homes, patting them down at check points, indiscriminately detaining them at torture centers (U.S. Bagram Air base), and killing their family members.

Yes, many Afghanis are deeply religious, but the presence of U.S. troops is the motor force behind their “radicalism,” i.e. resistance to military occupation. Islam is not inherently violent, but a military occupation unquestionably is.

Those wishing to end these wars must end their reliance on the corporate-bought two-party system, and begin organizing independently. The anti-war movement was strong while Bush was President, based not only on mass outrage, but the cynical maneuvering of those sitting atop of Democratic Party front groups like MoveOn and others — who helped organize and fund anti-war (Bush) demonstrations.

When Obama became President, the leaders of these groups played a thoroughly destructive role in the anti-war movement, shifting away from the effective measures used against Bush, or abandoning the struggle altogether, taking their funding with them. This disruption in organization, plus the mass-effect of the Obama illusion, had a temporary derailing effect on organizing.

But Obama’s troop surge may very well breathe new life into the deflated movement. Demonstrations are being organized for the spring, and there is plenty of time to join local groups/coalitions to help with the planning.

Mass demonstrations are a very effective tool, since they educate about the undemocratic nature of the state, while showing demonstration participants that there is power in collective action. More importantly, large marches prove to U.S. soldiers that they will have public support if they collectively choose to publicly oppose the war (by marching in a demonstration), or individually opt not to fight in these illegal wars. The Vietnam War was ended largely because so many soldiers opposed the war, demonstrated against it, or refused to fight; a courage they found by the massive public support felt at home.

Mass demonstrations do not organize themselves. It will take ordinary people working together to make it happen, while collectively demanding:

BRING ALL THE TROOPS HOME NOW!

END THE U.S. WARS IN THE MIDDLE EAST!


Shamus Cooke is a regular columnist for Novakeo.com
He can be reached at shamuscook@yahoo.com

“Ravenwood” Comes To America

October 11, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

RavenwoodFans of the CBS-terminated TV series JERICHO will recognize the name “Ravenwood.” This was the ruthless mercenary force used by the illegitimate federal government at Cheyenne to subjugate the citizens of Kansas in the aftermath of a massive nuclear attack against two dozen American cities. As with much of JERICHO’s superbly written story line, Ravenwood reflected real-world entities. Private mercenary forces have been used extensively throughout the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, as well as in many other theaters. And as JERICHO correctly depicted, these “private contractors” have largely operated without oversight or accountability. (Can anyone say, “Blackwater”?) For the most part, the American people are unfamiliar with these mercenary forces, because they normally operate in foreign theaters of war. JERICHO put them on the streets of U.S. cities. Now it looks like JERICHO was more prophecy than fiction.

An underreported (what’s new?) story out of a little town in Montana has brought real-life drama to the CBS blockbuster TV series. Interestingly enough, CBS is the only major news network that has covered the Montana story.

In the little town of Hardin, Montana (which is about the same size as the fictitious town of Jericho, Kansas, in the TV series), a private security firm, American Police Force (APF), has been contracted to provide all police services and to manage the operation of the town’s jail. According to local news reports out of Billings, Montana, “American Police Force officials showed up in Mercedes SUV’s that had ‘Hardin Police’ stenciled on the vehicles. The twist, the city of Hardin doesn’t have a police department.

“Two Rivers Authority [the city's economic development agency] officials say having APF patrol the streets was never part of their agenda.” (Source: KULR-8 Television, Billings, Montana)

Until now, the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office was responsible for patrolling the city. However, numerous Hardin citizens have testified to APF mercenaries patrolling Hardin’s streets.

The Hardin jail is an interesting situation, all by itself. Completed in September 2007, the 464-bed facility has sat totally empty (which begs an investigative analysis as to how and why the facility was built in the first place). APF promises to fill the jail (with whom is not clear) and also intends to build a 30,000-square-foot military-style training facility and a 75,000-square-foot dormitory for trainees. Costs are to be covered by Ravenwood’s–excuse me–APF’s “business activities,” which includes security and training, weapons and equipment sales, surveillance, and investigations.

Of course, under our Constitution, there can be no such thing as an “American Police Force” in the United States. Any kind of national police force is not only unconstitutional; it is anathema to everything American law and jurisprudence is built upon. Law enforcement is clearly and plainly the responsibility of the states and local communities. That a mercenary organization would take the moniker American Police Force is, by itself, disconcerting. But there is much more.

APF touts itself as providing security and investigative work to clients in “all 50 States and most Countries.” It boasts having “rapid response units awaiting our orders worldwide.” It further brags that it can field a battalion-sized team of Special Forces soldiers “within 72 hours.” APF states that it “plays a critical role in helping the U.S. government meet vital homeland security and national defense needs.”

Yet, an Associated Press search of two comprehensive federal government contractor databases turned up no record of American Police Force. Representatives of security trade groups said they had never heard of APF. Alan Chvotkin, executive vice president and counsel for the Professional Services Council, said, “They’re really invisible.”

An attorney for APF, Maziar Mafi, said the company was a spin-off of a major security firm, but declined to name the parent company or give any other details.

But at least one source reports, “American Police Force, the paramilitary unit patrolling a small town in Montana, has been exposed as being a front group for the disgraced private military contractor Blackwater, now called ‘Xe’.”

Whoever is backing APF has deep pockets; that much is for sure. That APF might be connected to Blackwater makes this situation even more problematic. But there is still more.

According to numerous local news reports, APF’s lead figure has a criminal history. APF’s head is a man named Michael Hilton. And recent revelations have turned up the fact that Hilton has served several years in jail–along with being served several civil judgments–for fraud. In fact, Hilton is currently scheduled to appear in a California court over an outstanding judgment in a fraud case. This has caused the Two Rivers Authority (TRA) to step back from the APF deal. And at this writing, the future of the agreement between TRA and APF is uncertain.

Adding to the dubious image of APF is the accusation that their on-the-ground leaders seem to be Russians. According to Hardin residents, the APF officer in charge had a “thick Russian accent.” (Of course, Hilton himself is Serbian, and it appears that many of his personnel are likewise Serbian.) Residents also state that they were told seventy-five percent of the security officers that were to be trained would be “international.” Is this what we have to look forward to: foreign mercenaries–employed by international corporations and backed by the federal government–being used to police American cities?

Local protests against the introduction of APF mercenaries in Hardin have already caused APF to change its name. Late news reports state that the private contractor is now operating under the name of American Private Police Force.

In the meantime, Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock has launched an investigation into the Hardin matter. According to the AG’s office, the investigation is predicated upon concerns that the company might be violating the Montana Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act.

The Hardin saga is both noteworthy and troublesome. It is the latest example–but certainly not the first–of how private security companies are being employed as law enforcement personnel.

Retired lawman Jim Kouri recently wrote a fascinating piece in which he chronicles the growing trend of private security companies exercising police powers. Kouri summarizes an American Society for Industrial Security report, saying, “There are more than one million contract security guards, with perhaps another million guards who are proprietary security officers who are hired directly by businesses and institutions. On the other hand, there are about 700,000 sworn law enforcement officers working for towns, cities, counties, states and the federal government.”

Of course, most of these “private police” mercenaries are military-trained. And they are also the ones providing most of the military-style training to America’s various law enforcement agencies.

Kouri goes on to point out that Lexington’s (Kentucky) Police Department contracted Blackwater Security International to provide “homeland security training.” And in New Orleans, Louisiana, mercenaries openly patrol city streets. Kouri notes Blackwater officials as saying they are on contract with the Department of Homeland Security and have been given the authority “to use lethal force if necessary.”

See Kouri’s column at

http://newswithviews.com/BreakingNews/breaking168.htm

All of the above is disconcerting enough, but when one factors in President Barack Obama’s desire to create a “Civilian Defense Force,” potential problems only intensify. For example, in 1995, the United Nations’ International Police Task Force (UNIPTF) was created. Ostensibly, the UNIPTF was formed to “carry out programs of police assistance in Bosnia and Herzegovina.” Then, in 2003 the Civilian Police International (CPI) was created. This was a joint venture between the U.S. State Department and such notable private companies as Wackenhut and Kellogg Brown & Root (a Halliburton company; and, by the way, so is Blackwater. But this is just a coincidence, right?). The stated purpose was for “international law enforcement and criminal justice programs.” Inertia for mercenary-style (backed by the federal–or even international–government) law enforcement has been growing ever since.

The question must then be asked: “Could the whole APF and Hardin, Montana, affair be a test run for Obama’s budding Civilian Defense Force?”

In the CBS TV series, JERICHO, residents resisted the federal government’s mercenary force, Ravenwood, and fought ferociously for their freedom and independence. At the time the show aired, it all seemed like fantasy. But if you talk with the residents of Hardin, Montana, today, they might say that fantasy is fast becoming reality.

Stay alert, America: your town could be next.


Chuck Baldwin is a regular columnist for Novakeo.com

You can reach him at: chuck@chuckbaldwinlive.com
Please visit Chuck’s web site at: http://www.chuckbaldwinlive.com

America Sees Red

September 21, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

America Sees Red There is a Jewish tale, in which a man is promised that he will be granted any wish he chooses, so long as his neighbour will get twice as much. After some thought he states his wish: please put me out one of my eyes! This is a very American attitude. An American refuses to get free medical care, if the condition is that others will get it, too. This we learned from the rallies against Obama’s health reform. The slogans and ideas of the demonstrators were just too weird!

A little girl asks how she will pay the bill for the reformed health services. This little girl — or rather, her parents – did not go out and ask how she was going to pay off the bills for the Iraqi and Afghani wars, how she was going to pay for the US involvement in Palestine, how she would repay the trillions given away to the bankers. Up until now, Big Government was good. It provided billions for AIG – ok. Billions for a new fighter jets – great. Billions to Blackwater to kill more Afghanis and Pakistanis – fine. Billions to Israel – perfect. But funding for health? What a communist notion!

The US health insurance problem is something we foreigners can’t understand. All of us, whether in England or Russia or Israel or France, have a national health service; we regret only that it is not as good as it used to be. But how can normal people prefer turning their health into a commodity and making it dependent on their bank accounts? This strange attitude is rooted in America’s older ills.

The US is an experimental ‘project’ – to see what would happen when a rather empty space is colonized by people of diverse backgrounds, ethnicities and affiliations, all moved by the desire to get rich and knowing no moral inhibitions but the Smith and Wesson. At first, they destroy the natives and the neighbours, afterwards they turn to cannibalism. If the Americans do not eat each other, it is only because they have found somebody else to eat together.

America was informed by love of profit and by hatred of communism. Her anticommunism is visceral, brutal, basic, inherent. The United States was created as the supreme sheriff, as the bastion of staunch individualism, of ‘homo homini lupus est’, of rejection of the notions of solidarity and mutual help. This was the plan of project designers.

Human nature being what it is, this satanic plan was partly upset by the inherent goodness of men and women. There are many wonderful Americans, rebels against crass materialism and unbridled greed, but they are isolated in their milieu; the best American characters are living and fighting alone. Such is Thoreau in his Walden. Such is Ishmael aboard the Pequod. Such is the Old Man at the Sea. Solidarity – togetherness – is conspicuous by its absence from American literature.

Every European state, from England to Russia, has its National Health, for every nation considers self a living body, and every member of the nation is as valued as a body part. All these nations are or were Christian and solidarist. Their citizens were embraced by one church. The US is different because of the anti-solidarist and anti-Christian spirit of her founders. Her Manifest Destiny did not connect to the faith. The US founders openly denied she was a Christian nation when concluding the Tripoli treaty, and their denial was sincere, because solidarity is a basic tenet of the Christian faith.

Every part of American society – Left, Right, churches, parties – are touched by this lack of compassion magnified by envy. The US Right is obsessed with anticommunism. This goes without saying for the imperialist Right of Ronald Reagan and George Bushes Junior and Senior. What is upsetting is that even the traditional anti-imperialist, nationalist American Right (the “paleocons”) are equally anti-communist and anti-Christian. I, for one, hoped they would understand their mistakes of yesteryear and become allies of other anti-imperialist forces including China, Russia and Iran. Alas, while they do not like neocons, and this is all to the good, they are no better themselves: Instead of fighting Arabs, they would rather kill Russians.

In a recent essay, Patrick Buchanan glorifies Adolf Hitler’s Germany and vilifies Communist Russia. He is sorry that the US allied with the Russians against the Germans, and not vice versa. Though Russia is no longer Communist, he would like to fight it anyway.

Mind you, I do not need smelling salts every time Hitler’s name is mentioned. I do not think everyone has to hate Hitler. I am at peace with people who admire Hitler for sentimental reasons: they like his solidarism, or German greatness or his vegetarianism, or his treatment of banks and bankers or unification of German lands. But there is a red line: people who admire Hitler because he attacked Russia and/or massacred civilians are my enemies too. In the battle of Stalingrad, I know which side I am on. And Buchanan is on the other side.

Similar anti-communist and anti-Russian notes prevail in other far-right white-nationalist writings. Be on the look out for the telling word “hordes”. For neocons, there are Muslim hordes, for the white-nationalists, these are Russian hordes, as in Patrick Buchanan: “By May 1945, Red Army hordes occupied all the great capitals of Central Europe: Vienna, Prague, Budapest, Berlin”. He forgot to explain that this happened because the people of these great capitals had decided to try their luck in Moscow under Hitler’s banners, and it may well happen again if this lesson is forgotten.

Our erstwhile friend Tom Sunic came from his search for a New Right to the Old Hitlerism: “The last shot in the European capital of Berlin was fired by a drunken Soviet soldier, killing the young French Waffen SS volunteer.” Well, God bless the Soviet soldier, drunken or sober, for his steady mark, and to hell with the SS-man, young or middle-aged, especially if he volunteered to do that butcher job.

Buchanan writes of “the most barbarous tyranny in history: the Bolshevik regime of the greatest terrorist of them all, Joseph Stalin”. Hatred of Stalin, the man who stopped Hitler, created modern Russia and resurrected the Russian Church after the Trotskyite excesses, is the common ground of these anticommunists. If they care at all about the Russian people as they pretend they do, they can ask them and find out that despite decades of anticommunist propaganda, Stalin is much loved by Russians. In the huge recent poll run by the Russian TV, Stalin was chosen ‘the most important personality in the whole history of Russia’ next to St Alexander Nevsky. The Russians remember that Stalin became the leader of an illiterate country devastated by civil war – a country of no industry, of dying agriculture, of no money and of plenty of debts, surrounded by enemies. He created industry, built housing and roads, created full free health care and comprehensive free education for all; he made Russia the best educated country in the world.

Unprejudiced Americans may find Stalin’s simple attitude to life and business rather to their liking. He’d have solved the current financial crisis by dispatching the bankers to chop wood somewhere deep in Oregon and by canceling all debts. The automobile plants of Detroit would be saved. When Stalin discovered a Zionist Lobby in his country, he smashed it on the spot instead of surrendering to them, while ordinary Jews who were loyal to Russia retained their positions. That is why his name is besmirched by anticommunists.

This is neither the time nor the place to deal with impossible exaggerations of alleged Soviet crimes. It is enough to state that they are fantastic. Nobody, even Stalin, could have killed one hundred million people out of one hundred sixty million, won a war and yet found himself with two hundred fifty million at the end of it.

This sick hatred of communism pours out of a column by another anti-imperialist right-winger, Chuck Baldwin. This “alternative candidate” fumed against the Chinese national flag, which is red, being hoisted at the White House’s South Lawn for an anniversary of the Chinese national holiday. He speaks of “the extreme offensiveness of flying the Communist Chinese flag”. This is “unbelievable, unreal, horrific, obscene, even traitorous… for the communist leaders of Mao’s China are the Butchers of Beijing, and this proves … the communist leanings of President Barack Obama”.

Further, Baldwin spreads the heart-rending story of the Chinese people’s suffering under the cruel leadership of Mao. If Communist leadership is so bad, how come the US is indebted to China to the tune of a few trillions? Before Mao, China was an impoverished semi-colony of the West, ‘the Chinese and dogs were not allowed’ into some parts of Shanghai, famines were annual, and Anglo-American navies studiously supplied the people with opium when they weren’t busy burning Beijing Palace. Now, after so many years of Communist tyranny, the Chinese are a shining example for the rest of the world.

In any case, flying the Chinese national flag at such events is not a proclamation of Communism as state doctrine, it is just a normal sign of courtesy. Likewise, flying the Israeli flag over the same lawn was not considered by the sane as a sign of submission to the Elders of Zion, nor flying the British flag as cancellation of Declaration of Independence. It is pity that the Obama administration allegedly got cold feet and decided to cancel the event. This suppleness of Obama’s back is not a good sign, as we have already learned in the Middle East.

The US Left is afraid of communism as well. In many, many articles and responses to the anti-Obama rallies, left-wing authors invariably stress the racism of the demonstrators. William Rivers Pitt called the “white, middle-aged, overweight, pissed-off right-wingers… a Klan rally minus the bedsheets and torches.” Susie Day pretends that the rallies were formed by those whites upset by Obama’s mouthing off to a white cop.

I am not a great believer in racism. Reputation of this sin is largely overblown, to the best of my knowledge. The Russians, who are supposed to be racists, loved Stalin, a Georgian. The French and the Germans, presumably also racist, had a Jewish prime minister and a foreign minister respectively in the last century. The Americans had no problem electing the black Obama. So much for racism. The American leftists who explain everything by racism are barking up the wrong tree, and they know it – but they dare not speak about the real problems.

This sick fear of human solidarity is American society’s knee-jerk reaction. It was activated by the Lobby in order to undermine President Obama. Because he spoke against Israeli expansion, because he mentioned Palestinian rights and sorrows, they fight against him on every possible occasion – even on the issue of national health. If Obama would just do everything they want in the Middle East, his domestic initiatives would pass as easily as a steamer through the Golden Gate.

Obama is attacked at every step. Look at the Middle East: Israel wants to bomb Iran. The President refused Netanyahu’s pleas to attack Tehran, but the Lobby doesn’t take no for an answer. In the Voice of the Lobby, a.k.a. The Wall Street Journal, Bret Stephens impossibly claims: Obama Is Pushing Israel Toward War. How? Obama’s refusal to attack Iran is “pushing Israel toward a pre-emptive military strike on Iran”. The Voice of the Lobby does not hide the fact that such a strike could well usher in a “price of oil at $300 a barrel, a Middle East war, and American servicemen caught in between.” For a normal reader, the conclusion is clear: that’s why Obama forbade the Israelis to attack Iran. But the Lobby’s sophist offers another solution: let Obama’s America attack Iran instead of Israel. Obama’s refusal to interfere with Iran is presented as “Obama’s pushing Israel toward war”. Begorrah!

While the enemy is active, no friends are forthcoming to help the embattled American President. Many of us received and forwarded an email claiming that Obama supported the coup d’etat in Honduras. But much less attention was paid when Obama actually cut off US aid to Honduras in response to the coup.

Sensing this loneliness of the President, Netanyahu ridicules his mild and limited demands. There is no other word for Israel’s response – that they will freeze some settlements’ construction work for a few months. Such a response is only marginally better than “shove it”. This was followed by an announcement that some five hundred new Jewish homes will be built in the teeth of Obama’s demand. Obama does not dare to push intransigent Israel any more, for Congress and the Senate are in the Jewish pocket, and these powerful Jews prefer Zionism to Communism.

What a pity! Once upon a time, the Jews were all for Communism and none for Zionism, and the human lot markedly improved. In a remarkable article, Winston Churchill wrote in 1920s: the Jews are choosing between Communism and Zionism, let us direct them towards Zionism so they will isolate themselves and stop bothering us. His plan was realised: Jews were seduced by the Zionist idea, parted with communism and became its enemies. The result was quite sad: the positive contribution of Israeli Jews to mankind’s welfare is next to zero, unless you count the development of new torture and surveillance techniques. Jews elsewhere waste their abilities and time on the same rotten Zionist project, instead of helping their fellow countrymen to improve their lives. Winston Churchill lit a candle, and its light attracts the butterflies who die in its flames. The daring report of Judge Richard Goldstone is a first harbinger of a weather change: despite his pro-Israel sympathies he condemned the recent Zionist atrocities in Gaza.

Now it is time for Obama to move forward fearlessly. He should listen to his fellow- Americans. If they are so upset and worried by immigration, stop immigration completely. Send away illegal aliens, or legalise those who have lived long enough in America. Show people that you care about them.

Proceed with the health care. This field is ripe for revolution. Only in a time of crisis can a great leader enact radical reforms:

  • Borrow the script from Illich’s Medical Nemesis, and minimise the cost of medical care. Do it the Cuban way.
  • Treat health care like fire brigades – human bodies are no less important than buildings. Nobody is amazed that the fire brigades are not private. Turn health care into a public service, and make all doctors public employees.
  • Ban private medical care.
  • Provide medical help for everyone, at the state’s expense.
  • Stop expensive life-saving, life-supporting devices. No transplantations, no complicated infertility treatments, no reproductive technology, no heart-and-brain operations, no abortions.
  • Cut down research. Let incurable diseases remain incurable.
  • Allow people to get born and to die; this is normal, as opposed to this morbid fear of death.
  • While he’s at it, nationalise pharmaceutical companies. Let them sell medicine to the national health service at the cost of production.

Thus the national health system will become good, simple, comprehensive and inexpensive. Communism? Yes! Good for you? Yes, unless you are a wealthy gynecologist. And Comrade Stalin would approve of it! J


A native of Novosibirsk, Siberia, a grandson of a professor of mathematics and a descendant of a Rabbi from Tiberias, Palestine, he studied at the prestigious School of the Academy of Sciences, and read Math and Law at Novosibirsk University. In 1969, he moved to Israel, served as paratrooper in the army and fought in the 1973 war.

After his military service he resumed his study of Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, but abandoned the legal profession in pursuit of a career as a journalist and writer. He got his first taste of journalism with Israel Radio, and later went freelance. His varied assignments included covering Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in the last stages of the war in South East Asia.

In 1975, Shamir joined the BBC and moved to London. In 1977-79 he wrote for the Israeli daily Maariv and other papers from Japan. While in Tokyo, he wrote Travels with My Son, his first book, and translated a number of Japanese classics.

Email at: info@israelshamir.net

Israel Shamir is a regular columnist for Novakeo.com

Bringing The War Home

May 30, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Alternatives to our military’s new psychiatric wards…

Obama - Health Care I just heard from a reliable source that the U.S. military is currently building new psychiatric wards on several of its major bases here in America. The new wards are designed to provide treatment for the increasing number of military personnel returning from Iraq and Afghanistan who have “brought the war home with them”. This is both good news and bad news.

The good news is that the military is stepping up to the plate and taking care of its own.

The bad news is that we now have a noticeably increased need for facilities that can deal with our returning troops’ Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “PTSD is an anxiety disorder that can develop after exposure to a terrifying event or ordeal [including] violent personal assaults, natural or human-caused disasters, accidents, or military combat.” As more and more veterans come home from the wars these days, we are seeing more and more cases of PTSD.

You know, being in Iraq is different from what most people think it might be like. One of the closest depictions of what it’s really like in Iraq just showed up on the season finale of Gray’s Anatomy of all places — not the part where Arizona babbles on and on about how being in Iraq is keeping our country safe. That’s pretty much bull-dookie. Many of the service guys that I talked with in Iraq know that Bush lied to them and that Shock and Awe was pretty much generated by Dubya’s folly and lust for power and oil. Forget about that part of the show.

The part of Gray’s Anatomy that did ring true about Iraq was the part when a young soldier with leg problems wanted his leg cut off so he could get a prosthesis and go back to Iraq and help out his buddies. “They are the only true family I know.”

It’s that feeling of being part of a family that keeps guys signing up for more tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq — that and the respect that they get from the people they work with over there. When you are in the U.S. military, you are given important jobs, you have responsibility and you get respect. One young lieutenant I talked with in Baghdad put it this way: “Over here, I have as much responsibility and authority as a CEO of a corporation. At my age, you can’t get that kind of experience back home.”

You can’t? Why not?

When our troops come home, there should be more waiting for them than just a bunch of newly-built psych wards. They should have jobs waiting for them — decent, meaningful jobs. And not only that but let’s talk about keeping platoons together. When you work side by side with someone else who is a good worker, a bond of respect and trust is created. And if a military platoon learns to work well together like a well-oiled machine in Iraq, then let’s try to keep that crew together back in civilian life too. Each member of the platoon can help watch the others’ back in times of stress while dealing with a new reality that is so different from the one they have been used to for the last three or four tours of duty.

They call this a “post-traumatic” disorder for a reason — because it doesn’t show up until the “traumatic” part is over. So when our troops get back home, that’s when they will need their buddies more than ever — and they also will need our help as well.

Let’s see. How else can we help returning vets to combat PTSD? Like I said, give them meaningful work, leadership positions, jobs that require skill and responsibility — like the ones they had back in Iraq. Jobs like you and I wish that we had. And also let’s give our returning service men and women veterans’ perks, healthcare, decent housing, economic support. You know the drill. Give them the stuff that we all should be having ourselves too but don’t because we’re not neo-cons, stock brokers, bankers or Blackwater. And giving vets this kind of help will probably cost us less in the long run than building and staffing new psychiatric wards. Plus this is a good way to prove that we really are patriotic and DO support our troops.

And just to make sure I’d covered all my bases regarding how to help our returning troops, I even consulted Madam Jane, my resident psychic. “Hmmm,” said Madam Jane. “Ten years from now, I can see our returned Iraq and Afghanistan vets living under freeways, frequenting drunk tanks and generally going the way that our Vietnam vets did — unless we do something drastically different right now.”

“Got any suggestions?” I asked.

“Yeah.” And boy did she. “Let’s take back a trillion dollars from that bailout we gave Wall Street, a trillion dollars from the bailout we gave those loser bank guys as a reward for mis-managing OUR money, and another trillion dollars from the bailout we’re giving to the healthcare insurance middlemen who know jack-dookie about how to make people well — and give all of that money to our vets instead. All of it. Vets who wore the uniform of our country deserve our tax dollars. Wall Street Ponzi schemers in lizard-skin loafers, business-school drop-out bankers and bureaucratic healthcare bloodsuckers do not.”

Madam Jane may just have a point here.

Economist Mike Whitney has also made some scary predictions recently. “Make no mistake — we are selling off our future and the future of our children to prevent the bondholders of U.S. financial corporations from taking losses. We are using public funds to protect the bondholders of some of the most mismanaged companies in the history of capitalism, instead of allowing them to take losses that should have been their own. All our policy makers have done to date has been to squander public funds to protect the full interests of corporate bondholders.”

So. How about that we “squander” our public funds to protect the full interests of our returning troops instead.


Jane Stillwater is a regular columnist for Novakeo.com
She can be reached at: jpstillwater@yahoo.com

U.S. Would Control Profits from Iraqi Oil Exports Under Agreement

November 24, 2008 by · 2 Comments 

SOFAThere’s been no shortage of controversy surrounding what has been termed the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the governments of the United States and Iraq. After battling away for most of the year at what the terms of the agreement should be, the text was at last finalized this month.

The terms of the agreement effectively allow the U.S. to continue to control billions of dollars of proceeds from the sale of exported Iraqi oil held in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It also contains numerous loopholes that could allow the continuing long-term presence of U.S. military forces and would effectively maintain U.S. jurisdiction over crimes committed by American soldiers.

Iraq’s cabinet approved the agreement a week ago with 27 members voting in favor, out of 28 ministers who were present, with nine ministers absent. It is now being debated in the Parliament.

Abdul Qadir al-Obaidi, Iraq’s minister of defense, issued a dire warning that without the agreement and continued presence of U.S. forces, “then what happened in the Gulf of Aden will happen in the Arabian Gulf too. Pirates will start in these ports in a way you can’t even imagine.”

Governments often use fear tactics to push through controversial legislation. Before the U.S. invasion, members of the Congress were told that if they didn’t authorize the President to use military force against Iraq, Saddam Hussein might attack the east coast of the United States with biological weapons from unmanned aerial vehicles, for example. More recently, members of Congress were warned that if they did not pass the highly unpopular bill taking taxpayers’ dollars to bail out banking and investment corporations, there would be martial law in America.

While painting an imaginary threat to frighten the public into supporting the agreement, Obaidi criticized opponents as being conspiracy theorists. The New York Times reported today that Obaidi “batted down conspiracy theories about the agreement”, theories fueled by “anti-American Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr” about “the existence of secret deals for a longer American presence.”

And yet Obaidi at the same time seemed to lend credence to the fears of opponents. As the Times noted, without comment on the contradiction, he “held open the possibility that some Americans might be needed after” the deadline of the withdrawal of U.S. troops by the end of 2011.

The agreement has been protested by large popular demonstrations in the streets of Baghdad. Thousands protested during a rally on Friday against the deal in Firdaus Square, where in 2003 U.S. soldiers toppled a statue of Saddam Hussein in a staged publicity event that has since been hailed by the mainstream media as “an iconic moment”.

At the rally, demonstrators burned an effigy of President George W. Bush. A man who helped erect the effigy was quoted by the London Times as saying, “Just like Saddam’s statue was brought down, Mr Bush has fallen as well.”

The demonstrations were reportedly organized by Moktada al-Sadr, a highly influential figure whose father was murdered in 1999, most likely by the regime of Saddam Hussein. Following the U.S. invasion of Iraq, he organized a resistance to the occupation consisting of both political and military elements. He commands the al-Mahdi Army, which has threatened to resume armed resistance if the agreement is passed by the Iraqi government.

While the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki initially claimed it could make an agreement unilaterally with the Bush administration, it has since conceded that the measure must obtain Parliamentary approval.

Under the U.S. Constitution, the agreement would also need to be agreed to by the Senate to have the force of law, but the Bush administration has claimed that no Senate approval is necessary, essentially declaring its intention to violate Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution. This is not the first time the Executive Branch under Bush has declared for itself the power to govern by fiat, and it is likely to continue to be met with little resistance by the complacent U.S. Congress.

The SOFA agreement, which now has the official lengthy title of “Agreement Between the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq On the Withdrawal of United States Forces from Iraq and the Organization of Their Activities during Their Temporary Presence in Iraq”, while addressing a number of the Iraqi concerns, contains a number of loopholes that would allow, among other things, a U.S. military presence in Iraq beyond the given deadline for withdrawal.

It states in the preamble that both parties recognize the importance of “contributing to world peace and stability, combating terrorism in Iraq”, and “thereby deterring aggression and threats against the sovereignty, security, and territorial integrity of Iraq”. The agreement affirms that cooperation between the two countries “is based on full respect for the sovereignty of each of them in accordance with the purpose and principles of the United Nations Charter”.

This must be considered rather Orwellian language, given the fact that the invasion of Iraq was an act of aggression, defined at Nuremberg as “the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole”; and that the invasion was itself a breach of the peace in violation of the U.N. Charter and other applicable international treaties comprising the body of international law, resulting in instability and bringing terrorism to Iraq. It’s also quite meaningless language given some of the actual contents of the agreement itself.

Article 3 of the agreement contains a clause apparently intended to prevent the U.S. from including Iraqis in its extraordinary renditions programs by barring the U.S. from transferring any non-U.S. persons into or out of the country “unless in accordance with applicable Iraqi laws and regulations, including implementing arrangements as may be agreed to by the Government of Iraq.”

There is thus a loophole that might allow the U.S. to do precisely that, and any such “arrangements” could be interpreted, if the record of the Bush administration is any gauge, to mean approval from the Iraqi President without advice of consent of the Parliament. The U.S. could also, of course, simply violate the agreement and spirit disappeared persons out of the country as it has under the CIA renditions program.

Article 4 states that the U.S. military presence is requested “for the purposes of supporting Iraq in its efforts to maintain security and stability in Iraq”, which is belied by the fact that most Iraqis want the American troop presence to end and consider the continuing occupation to be the most significant causal factor of the violence that, while having ebbed over the past two years, continues to plague the country.

A survey taken last year for the U.S. military, for example, revealed that “Iraqis of all sectarian and ethnic groups believe that the U.S. military invasion is the primary root of the violent differences among them, and see the departure of ‘occupying forces’ as the key to national reconciliation”, as reported by the the Washington Post.

The agreement states that any such operations “shall be fully coordinated with Iraqi authorities” and “overseen by a Joint Military Operations Coordination Committee (JMOCC)”, and that it is “the duty of the United States Forces to respect the laws, customs, and traditions of Iraq and applicable international law.” It then adds that both nations “retain the right to legitimate self defense within Iraq, as defined in applicable international law.”

This itself represents a major loophole because, of course, the right to “self defense” under international law is very broadly interpreted by the U.S. For example, the invasion of Iraq itself was painted by the Bush administration as an act of self defense against a perceived threat and thus, according to the administration, legitimate. As another example, the U.S. continues to bomb Pakistan despite growing protests from both the public and the government. In one incident that is particularly revealing as to the U.S. interpretation of “self-defense” under international law, a U.S. airstrike in June targeted and killed 11 members of the Pakistani Frontier Corp within Pakistan. Despite having killed allied forces within their own borders, the Pentagon described the attack as a “legitimate” act of self-defense.

The agreement sets the date of June 30, 2009 as the deadline for “the withdrawal of combat forces from the cities, villages, and localities.” U.S. forces would then be located on bases within Iraq and would ostensibly only be able to leave those bases on combat operations executed with the full cooperation of the Iraqi government. Use of such bases would be granted to the U.S. for the purpose of the ongoing foreign military presence within Iraq.

The agreement states that its implementation must be “consistent with protecting the natural environment and human health and safety” and that “Each Party shall provide the other with maps and other available information on the location of mine fields and other obstacles that can hamper or jeopardize movement within the territory and waters of Iraq.”

But it’s highly unlikely that the U.S. will engage in efforts to clean up areas contaminated with depleted uranium (DU), a still radioactive and chemically toxic isotope that is leftover from the process of enriching uranium. The dense metal is used as a weapon for penetrating armor by the U.S. military, but aerosolizes upon impact, and thus presents the risk that DU particles could be spread by the wind or contaminate drinking water. While the Pentagon has denied publicly that DU poses a health risk, it has privately acknowledged in internal documents and studies that inhalation of DU represents a serious health risk and may lead to cancer.

The Pentagon acknowledged after the Gulf War that at least 320 tons of DU remained on the ground from that conflict. Cancer rates in southern Iraq rose significantly after that war, with many Iraqi doctors attributing the increase to DU, claims that have been dismissed by the Pentagon as “propaganda”. Dr. Doug Rokke, a former US army colonel sent to the Gulf by the Army as a health physicist in 1991 to advise on cleanup procedures involving depleted uranium, has said that 30 members — nearly a third of his entire team — are now seriously ill, himself included, and that several have since died from cancer.

One estimate puts the amount of DU used in the first couple months of the Iraq war following the March 19, 2003 invasion at 1,100 to 2,200 tons.

It’s equally unlikely that the U.S. will make any effort to clean up “dud” cluster munitions that still litter Iraq from both wars. Estimates from the Gulf War put the number of unexploded submunitions, which effectively become landmines, at more than one million. These weapons continued to kill a decade after the war. According to a Human Rights Watch estimate, in 2001, cluster submunitions caused an average of 30 casualties per month. In its World Report 2004, the group reported that the U.S. and U.K. “dropped nearly 13,000 cluster munitions, containing an estimated 1.8 to 2 million submunitions” in just the first three weeks of combat. Even assuming only a conservative 5% “dud” rate for the weapons (many of which were not bombs but ground-launched munitions with a dud rate of up to 16%), that would translate into 100,000 unexploded munitions.

Another controversial aspect of the SOFA agreement has been the question of jurisdiction for crimes committed by U.S. forces in Iraq. While the U.S. has backed down from its insistence that private Pentagon contractors, such as mercenaries from the infamous Blackwater group, be under U.S. jurisdiction, the final agreement still maintains that U.S. soldiers themselves will primarily be.

The agreement states that “Iraq shall have the primary right to exercise jurisdiction over members of the United States Forces and of the civilian component”, but only for “premeditated felonies” and only “when such crimes are committed outside agreed facilities and areas and outside duty status.” Thus, for Iraq to have jurisdiction, any crimes committed by American soldiers would have to be shown to be “premeditated” and committed while off duty.

Were a soldier to kill an Iraqi civilian, for example, while not on duty, it would have to be shown that he had contemplated the killing in advance and acted with intent to kill. If the soldier therefore claimed that he had been threatened by other Iraqis and discharged his weapon only to deter an assault, and that any collateral damage that resulted was accidental, then the case would fall not under Iraqi, but U.S. jurisdiction.

Moreover, the pact adds that any member of the U.S. armed forces who is found to have committed a premeditated crime while off duty would “be entitled to due process standards and protections consistent with those available under United States and Iraqi law.” Any such incident would thus still fall under U.S. legal jurisdiction, with only what might perhaps be described as special consideration for Iraqi law — but not full Iraqi legal jurisdiction, as has been misreported by some of the mainstream media.

On top of that, the text adds that “United States Forces authorities shall certify whether an alleged offense arose during duty status”, which essentially gives the U.S. the power to define any service member’s “duty status” at the time of any given incident — yet another loophole that might prevent Iraq from having jurisdiction over crimes committed against its own people by foreign occupying military forces.

The agreement also stipulates that “each Party shall waive the right to claim compensation against the other Party for any damage, loss, or destruction of property, or compensation for injuries or deaths that could happen to members of the force or civilian component of either Party arising out of the performance of their official duties in Iraq.”

In other words, if the U.S. destroys Iraqi property or injures or kills Iraqis, the Iraqi government may not seek any compensation or reparations. Of course, this clause is mostly one-sided since there is no risk of Iraqis destroying the homes of U.S. citizens. Iraq isn’t bombing U.S. cities, towns, and villages, and Iraqis aren’t killing U.S. civilians within their own borders. So this clause may in effect be read as an Iraqi waiver of any right of the government to seek reparations from the U.S. for damages, injuries, or deaths resulting from the continuing foreign military occupation.

There is a recourse for “third party claims” — meaning from Iraqi citizens as opposed to the government — under which the U.S. would “pay just and reasonable compensation” for “meritorious” claims. But the U.S. apparently gets to decide what claims are “meritorious” or not, and all such claims “shall be settled expeditiously in accordance with the laws and regulations of the United States.” In other words, claims of damages, injuries or deaths from Iraqi citizens seeking compensation for actions of the U.S. military would not fall under Iraqi jurisdiction.

The SOFA agreement stipulates that detentions must be carried out only with Iraqi cooperation and that detained individuals must be turned over to Iraqi authorities within 24 hours of their arrest, which represents a shift from the U.S.’s earlier position that it be able to detain Iraqi citizens when and however it chooses.

The most commonly reported statement in the agreement, reflected in many headlines, is that which reads, “All the United States Forces shall withdraw from all Iraqi territory no later than December 31, 2011.”

In addition, “All United States combat forces shall withdraw from Iraqi cities, villages, and localities no later than the time at which Iraqi Security Forces assume full responsibility for security in an Iraqi province, provided that such withdrawal is completed no later than June 30, 2009.”

The agreement also states, “The United States recognizes the sovereign right of the Government of Iraq to request the departure of the United States Forces from Iraq at any time.” (Notice it doesn’t recognize the sovereign right of the People of Iraq, who overwhelmingly want the U.S. forces gone and whose government is seen by many as a puppet regime for colluding with the U.S. in arranging for its occupying forces to remain. Of course, Iraqis who recognize this have fallen prey to “conspiracy theories” — at least according to the Iraq’s minister of defense.)

In return, the U.S. does offer a few incentives for the Iraqi government. It pledges, for example, to “Support Iraq to obtain forgiveness of international debt resulting from the policies of the former regime”, which the U.S. supported throughout the 1980s.

The agreement also states: “Recognizing and understanding Iraq’s concern with claims based on actions perpetrated by the former regime, the President of the United States has exercised his authority to protect from United States judicial process the Development Fund for Iraq and certain other property in which Iraq has an interest. The United States shall remain fully and actively engaged with the Government of Iraq with respect to continuation of such protections and with respect to such claims.

“Consistent with a letter from the President of the United States to be sent to the Prime Minister of Iraq, the United States remains committed to assist Iraq in connection with its request that the UN Security Council extend the protections and other arrangements established in Resolution 1483 (2003) and Resolution 1546 (2003) [sic] for petroleum, petroleum products, and natural gas originating in Iraq, proceeds and obligations from sale thereof, and the Development Fund for Iraq.”

Resolution 1483 noted “the establishment of the Development Fund for Iraq to be held by the Central Bank of Iraq” and that funds “shall be disbursed at the direction of the [Coalition Provisional] Authority”.

The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), then headed up under Paul Bremer, proceeded to establish the Development Fund for Iraq (DFI) in an account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. To get around the terms of 1483, the DFI was held on the books of the Central Bank of Iraq and a portion of the fund located in Baghdad. But the U.S. nevertheless remained in control of the money and held most of it in New York.

The fund consists of assets seized from Iraq under the regime of Saddam Hussein as well as proceeds from the export of Iraqi oil.

While 1483 stipulates that these funds should be used “to assist the people of Iraq in the reconstruction and development of their economy and to facilitate assistance by the broader donor community”, the system has been plagued with charges of corruption and lack of accountability, with billions of dollars reportedly unaccounted for. Billions more have been paid out to corporations contracted by the Pentagon for ostensible reconstruction. One such corporation has been Halliburton. Vice President Dick Cheney was CEO of Halliburton from 1995 until 2000.

A further resolution on June 8, 2004, Resolution 1446, stated that “upon dissolution of the Coalition Provisional Authority, the funds in the Development Fund for Iraq shall be disbursed solely at the direction of the Government of Iraq”, but that proceeds from export sales of oil and natural gas would continue to be deposited in the fund.

As a January 2004 report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York noted, in March 2003, “President Bush issued an executive order directing the transfer of funds controlled by the Iraqi government and its financial and oil institutions to the U.S. Treasury.” The Federal Reserve Bank then created a “Special Purpose Account” for the funds on behalf of the Treasury.

According to a Congressional Research Service report from October, about $10 billion is currently still being held in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, accounting for a third of Iraq’s total reserves of foreign currency and gold.

If the agreement is approved by the Iraqi Parliament, it will thus effectively acquiesce to continued control over these proceeds from the export of Iraqi oil by the U.S., with merely a recognition of Iraqi “concern” over this money and a veil of Iraqi control over only the disbursement of the money for reconstruction and development. This aspect of the proposed pact has received little — if any — attention in U.S. mainstream media reports that have focused instead on the date set for withdrawal.

Jeremy R. Hammond is a regular columnist for Novakeo.com

Jeremy R. Hammond is the editor of Foreign Policy Journal (www.foreignpolicyjournal.com), a website providing news, analysis, and opinion commentary from outside the standard framework offered by government officials and the mainstream corporate media. His articles have also been featured in numerous other online publications. He can be reached at: Jeremy@foreignpolicyjournal.com

Whoever Wins U.S. Election, Policy in ‘War on Terror’ Unlikely to Change

October 29, 2008 by · 4 Comments 

War on TerrorBoth the Democratic and Republican U.S. presidential candidates have stated their intention to increase the military presence in Afghanistan should they win the election to become the country’s next Executive. As a recent article in the Washington Post observed, “The well-advertised differences between John McCain and Barack Obama on the war in Iraq may obscure a consequential similarity between their hawkish views on the use of American military force in other places.”

“Both agree,” the Post said, “on a course of action in Afghanistan that could lead to a long-term commitment of American soldiers without a clear statement of how long they might remain or what conditions would lead to their withdrawal.”

In addition, “Neither candidate has spoken explicitly about how American and NATO forces would get out of Afghanistan.” [1]

During the presidential debates, Senator Obama insisted that the U.S. had a right to bomb Pakistan if it had intelligence on the whereabouts of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, while declining to explicitly state that he would not use military force against the country under other circumstances, thus leaving open the possibility that he might well continue the policy of the Bush administration, which has been to wage airstrikes and even put boots on the ground despite strong protests from both the Pakistani government and its people.

McCain disagreed with Obama’s position. He, like Obama, declined to say whether he would shift policy away from that implemented by the Bush administration, but added that he wasn’t going to “announce” positively that he would attack Pakistan. He had no real objection to doing so, it was just that he would rather it be a surprise than to “telescope” his intentions by answering in the affirmative that, yes, he too would bomb the country. And that was the only discernable difference between their positions.

U.S. allies and political analysts, meanwhile, have increasingly come to view the use of force in the region as not being a solution by itself, with some going so far as to recognize it as part of the problem. This has long been recognized – indeed, the consequences that have come to pass were predicted well in advance – by a large number of critics of U.S. foreign policy whose views are marginalized by the corporate media, but only recently has begun find its way into the mainstream political discussion.

While both Obama and McCain have announced their intention to increase the troop presence, with McCain saying that an Iraq-style “surge” is “going to have to be employed in Afghanistan”, the U.S. commander General David D. McKiernan has emphasized that such a policy would not end the conflict.

The so-called “surge” of troop numbers in Iraq has widely been credited with the decrease in violence there; a claim trumpeted by McCain and parroted by Obama. But the fact is that there were numerous other factors that led to progress in that regard, which occurred not because of but in spite of the “surge”.

The sectarian violence wound down after reaching its peak as the process of ethnically cleansing neighborhoods in Baghdad and other Iraqi cities became finalized. In Baghdad, walls were constructed around Shiite and Sunni communities to separate them where people of both Islamic faiths once lived peaceably as friends and neighbors.

Some Sunni groups also began turning against organizations such as Al Qaeda in Iraq that were responsible for terrorist attacks against civilians, which served to inflame the ethnic tensions. This movement of Sunni groups once engaged in armed resistance against the U.S. military occupation shifting their focus to fighting terrorist elements, including other Sunni groups, led to many even becoming allied with U.S. forces. These groups came to be known as “Awakening Councils” or “Sons of Iraq”, and this shift was largely responsible for helping to bring about the decrease in violence.

Other contributing factors included the decision by influential Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to order his Mehdi Army to stand down and the withdrawal of foreign occupying forces from the south. As both the British commanding officer and U.S. General David Petraeus noted, the violence in Basra plummeted as a result of the British withdrawal from the city.

And, of course, most Iraqis themselves point to the continuing U.S. presence in Iraq as the principle causal factor in the violence.[2]

While both candidates announced their intention to implement a “surge”-type increase of forces in Afghanistan, Gen. McKiernen, while agreeing that he wanted more troops, said, “Afghanistan is not Iraq…. I don’t want the military to be engaging the tribes” in Afghanistan. “It wouldn’t take much to go back to a civil war,” he added, saying that engaging tribes there was necessary, but that it was the Afghan government itself that should be responsible for doing it.[3]

Early this month, a leaked diplomatic cable revealed that the British envoy to Afghanistan, Sherard Cowper-Coles, had said that “The current situation is bad, the security situation is getting worse, so is corruption, and the government has lost all trust.”

“The presence of the coalition, in particular its military presence, is part of the problem, not part of the solution,” he observed, before going on to opine that the collapse of the Afghan government and its replacement with “an acceptable dictator” would be preferable.[4]

While the British ambassador’s alternative proposal was worthy of the criticism it received, it no less negated the validity of his statement that U.S. policy was part of the problem.

Right about the same time the leaked diplomatic cable was reported, for instance, Britain’s most senior military commander in Afghanistan, Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith, said there would be no “decisive military victory” and that the current strategy was “doomed to fail”.

“We’re not going to win this war,” he said. “It’s about reducing it to a manageable level of insurgency that’s not a strategic threat and can be managed by the Afghan army.”

To do that, he said, “We want to change the nature of the debate from one where disputes are settled through the barrel of the gun to one where it is done through negotiations. If the Taliban were prepared to sit on the other side of the table and talk about a political settlement, then that’s precisely the sort of progress that concludes insurgencies like this.”[5]

In response, the U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates rejected the notion that the U.S. and its allies would not “win” the war, saying there was “no reason to be defeatist”. Like the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates, he suggested that “We continue to see the need for additional forces in Afghanistan.”

Yet his position differed from the candidates’ in that he also agreed with the British commander that peace negotiations with the Taliban were a “key long-term solution.” McCain has rejected the very notion of engaging in diplomacy with “enemies” of the United States. Obama, on the other hand, has expressed a willingness to sit down and talk in general terms, but has not specified that he would do so in the case of the Taliban.

“Part of the solution is strengthening the Afghan security forces,” Gates added. “Part of the solution is reconciliation with people who are willing to work with the Afghan government.”[6]

The British high commissioner in Islamabad, Pakistan, said that Carleton-Smith’s views were not new and echoed Gates, saying, “We are prepared to talk to good Taliban, who renounce violence and lay down their arms.”[7]

The Russian ambassador to Afghanistan, Zamir N. Kabulov, was once Moscow’s top K.G.B. agent in Kabul, serving there during the Soviet military occupation of the country. “They’ve already repeated all of our mistakes,” he said of the U.S. government and its policy in the region. “Now, they’re making mistakes of their own, ones for which we do not own the copyright.”

“One of our mistakes,” he suggested, “was staying, instead of leaving.”

“We abused human rights,” he acknowledged, “including the use of aggressive bombardment. Now, it’s the same, absolutely the same.” Criticizing the notion that increasing the military presence could solve the problem, he said, “The more foreign troops you have roaming the country, the more the irritative allergy toward them is going to be provoked.”[8]

U.S. Army Colonel Christopher D. Kolenda, who served as a task force commander in Afghanistan, has also criticized the policy set by Washington. Writing in the Weekly Standard, he said, “Simply killing militants is not enough.”

“While building up the central government is important,” he wrote, “that effort will be in vain without a complementary effort to build systems and institutions at the local level, which can eventually be connected to the national government.”

While also favoring an increase in “international security forces”, he argued that these forces “must concentrate on protecting the population” and “reduce the friction associated with the presence of foreign forces” by working “with local leaders to promote security in villages and on roads” and “promote local solutions to local problems”.

A focus on international assistance to build Afghanistan’s infrastructure and economy is needed “to develop durable systems relevant to everyday life” in order to “mitigate the real risk of a return to the warlordism that racked the country after the Soviet war.”

The same focus on helping to rebuild the country and empower tribal leaders at the local level should also be implemented in neighboring Pakistan, Kolenda argued.[9]

Just last week, two more British experts on counterterrorism spoke out against the U.S. policy. Former director general of Britain’s MI5 domestic intelligence agency suggested the U.S. should “stop using the phrase ‘war on terror.’” She described the U.S. response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11 “a huge overreaction”, saying that its “war on terror” had “got us off on the wrong foot because it made people think terrorism was something you could deal with by force of arms primarily.”

Ken Macdonald, a top prosecutor for England and Wales who has overseen terrorism trials rejected “the Guantanamo model” applied by the U.S., in which detainees in the “war on terror” are denied their rights. “Of course, you can have the Guantanamo model,” he said. “You can have the model which says that we cannot afford to give people their rights, that rights are too expensive because of the nature of the threats. Or you can say, as I prefer to, that our rights are priceless. That the best way to face down those threats is to strengthen our institutions rather than to degrade them.”[10]

The Afghan government itself, under President Hamid Karzai, has also taken a more conciliatory approach. A month ago, he told reporters, “A few days ago I called upon their [the Taliban’s] leader, Mullah Omar, and said, ‘My brother, my dear, come back to your homeland, come and work for the peace and good of your people and stop killing your brothers.”[11]

Talks have reportedly taken place between representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban, with Saudi Arabia acting as intermediary, though both parties have denied this. [12] The denials may be technically accurate. The Reuters news agency reported that the talks were held in Saudi Arabia between “a group of pro-government Afghan officials and former Taliban officials.”[13]

The Taliban have said that they will not accept talks unless occupying forces leave the country. Karzai acknowledged, however, that he had asked the Saudi king to use his influence to help bring peace to Afghanistan. Prior to 9/11, Saudi Arabia was the Taliban’s second most important benefactor after Pakistan, and one of only three countries to officially recognize the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

Afghan political and tribal leaders also met this week with their Pakistani counterparts to discuss how to bring an end to the ongoing conflict in both their countries. Former Pakistani ambassador to Afghanistan Ayaz Wazir criticized any approach that rejected the logic of entering negotiations. “If you say you will talk only if they lay down arms then what’s the point in talking?” he asked. “The trouble is, they are not laying down their arms and you have to talk to them to convince them to lay down arms.”[14]

The U.S.-led “war on terror” in Afghanistan has increasingly come under criticism for the deaths of civilians, such as an August 22 attack against the village of Azizabad in Herat Province. Afghan officials and United Nations investigators said the evidence pointed to the deaths of 90 or more civilians, mostly women and children. The Department of Defense first denied the claim, stating that as many as 30 militants had been killed, acknowledging the deaths of only five to seven civilians. Later, when images taken by villagers’ cell phones emerged showing the bodies of dozens of victims laying where they had been gathered on the floor of a building that served as the local mosque, the Pentagon was forced to change its estimate, but still only acknowledged 30 civilian deaths – the very minimum it could claim and still maintain even the least amount of credibility since that was about the number whose corpses were shown in the cell phone images.[15]

Another attack earlier this month in Helmand Province killed 25 to 30 civilians, most of whom were women and children, according to Afghan accounts.[16] Another recent attack that resulted in the deaths of nine Afghan Army soldiers was called a case of “mistaken identify”.[17]

Some Afghan soldiers and police have grown so disillusioned with the increasing numbers of civilian deaths and ineffectiveness of the government to establish law and order that they have begun to defect to join the Taliban, seeking to expel the U.S. forces from their country. “Our soil is occupied by Americans and I want them to leave this country,” said Sulieman Ameri, who just a month before had served with police forces. “That is my only goal.” 16 other men that had been under his leadership joined him in switching sides to fight the occupying forces.

Another new recruit, Fida Mohammed, told Al Jazeera, “When Russia came it was only one country. Today we have 24 foreign infidel countries on our soil. All our men and women should come and join the jihad.”

The defectors had received training from the U.S. or by the private military contractor Blackwater, and some still held certificates showing their completion of the training.[18]

Another who has turned against the occupying forces is the former mayor of Heart province, Ghullam Yahya Akbari, who says he now has bases training fighters. He’s grown so disillusioned with the Afghan government the foreign occupation that he says he’d also turn against the Taliban if they were to engage in talks with Karzai. “I do not believe that Mullah Omar [the Taliban leader] would do that, but if they sit with the Afghan government and negotiate then for us they will be like all the other members of the government and we’ll continue our jihad,” he said.[19]

Similarly, locals in Logar Province, have grown frustrated at the ineffectiveness of the Afghan government to establish law and end the thievery of bandits. “So people turned to the Taliban,” explained Abdel Qabir, a local resident. “They may not provide jobs, but at least they share the same culture and brought security.” The Taliban have rid the area of crime and established their own government with police chiefs, judges, and education committees.[20]

And it’s not just the outlying provinces. Crime has gotten so rampant in the capital of Kabul itself, and the perception of corruption within the government so great, the Washington Post reported last month, that “It is making some Afghans nostalgic for the low-crime days before 2001, when the Taliban ruled most of the country.”

Nader Nadery, an official at the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, told the Post, “The government is weak, and it has an enormously high level of tolerance for crime, abuse and corruption. If you have power and money, you don’t have to account for your actions. Instead of rule of law, there is a state of impunity, which is one of the factors contributing to the growth of the Taliban.”

Another Afghan, Mohammed Hussain, who had recently been attacked while driving a passenger bus, said, “In the Taliban time, the roads were totally safe. You could drive anywhere in the country, 24 hours a day. Now, you take your life in your hands every time you leave on a trip.”[21]

Many critics of the U.S. “war on terror”, though marginalized by the government and media, opposed the U.S. actions in Afghanistan from the beginning and predicted in advance the consequences that have now led to criticism from an increasing number of analysts and government and military officials even within the political mainstream.

After 9/11, the Taliban said it would negotiate the handing over of Osama bin Laden if the U.S. would share the evidence it claimed it had that he was responsible for the attacks. The Bush administration rejected diplomacy, however, and preferred to use military force. Critics argued that war would only bring more violence and more innocent deaths; and, indeed, more Afghan civilians were estimated to have been killed during the first several months of the U.S. campaign than had been killed in the attacks on 9/11. And, of course, the U.S. never did capture Osama bin Laden.

Terrorist leaders have been captured, but not through the use of military force. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, for instance, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 plot, was arrested by Pakistani intelligence and handed over to the U.S.

Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, regarded early in the investigation into 9/11 as the money-man behind the plot and infamous for his alleged role in the murder of journalist Daniel Pearl, was similarly arrested by Pakistani police.

It was not military action, but police work, that resulted in the capture of Ramzi Ahmed Yousef in Pakistan in 1995. Yousef was one of the planners of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and a mastermind of the foiled Bojinka plot to hijack airliners and fly them into targets including the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

Writing in the journal Foreign Affairs, Barnett R. Rubin of the Center on International Cooperation and renowned Pakistani expert on the region Ahmed Rashid explain in the current issue how “The crisis in Afghanistan and Pakistan are beyond the point where more troops will help.”

They note that U.S. military action in Afghanistan served to push the Taliban and al Qaeda leadership into Pakistan, which has been increasingly destabilized as a result. “For years,” they acknowledge, “critics of U.S. and NATO strategies have been warning that the region was headed in this direction.”

They criticize the Bush administration’s “Cross-border attacks into Pakistan”, which they state “will not provide security”, but serve rather only to further stir up the region and threaten to spread the conflict “even to other continents – as on 9/11 – or lead to the collapse of a nuclear-armed state” (referring to Pakistan). U.S. reliance on airstrikes, they observe, “cause civilian casualties that recruit fighters and supporters to the insurgency.”

So patently counter-productive and “irrational” has been the U.S. policy in the region that “Many Afghans believe that Washington secretly supports the Taliban as a way to keep a war going to justify a troop presence that is actually aimed at securing the energy resources of Central Asia and countering China.”

Moreover, “the concept of ‘pressuring’ Pakistan is flawed”, they argue, because “No state can be successfully pressured into acts it considers suicidal.” The Pakistani people and their government view the U.S. “war on terror” as being opposed to their own interests and serving only to generate further militancy and terrorism within their own borders.

“U.S. diplomacy has been paralyzed by the rhetoric of ‘the war on terror’” that “thwarts sound strategic thinking by assimilating opponents into a homogenous ‘terrorist’ enemy. Only a political and diplomatic initiative that distinguishes political opponents of the United States – including violent ones – from global terrorists such as al Qaeda can reduce the threat faced by the Afghan and Pakistani states and secure the rest of the international community from the international terrorist groups based there.”

Furthermore, to make negotiations possible between the Afghan government and the Taliban, “the United States would have to alter its detention policy. Senior officials of the Afghan government say that at least through 2004 they repeatedly received overtures from senior Taliban leaders but that they could never guarantee that these leaders would not be captured by U.S. forces and detained at Guantanamo Bay or the U.S. air force base at Bagram, in Afghanistan.”

In conclusion, they write that “The goal of the next U.S. president must be to put aside the past, Washington’s keenness for ‘victory’ as the solution to all problems, and the United States’ reluctance to involve competitors, opponents, or enemies in diplomacy.”

But to date, neither candidate for president has expressed their recognition of these facts on the ground in the region, and there is little indication that U.S. policy in the “war on terror” is likely to be significantly altered from its present course under either a McCain or an Obama administration.

[1] Robert G. Kaiser, “Iraq Aside, Nominees Have Like Views on Use of Force”, Washington Post, October 27, 2008; Page A04

[2] Karen DeYoung, “All Iraqi Groups Blame U.S. Invasion for Discord, Study Shows”, Washington Post, December 19, 2007; Page A14

[3] Ann Scott Tyson, “Commander in Afghanistan Wants More Troops”, Washington Post, October 2, 2008; Page A19

[4] Elaine Sciolino, “Afghan ‘Dictator’ Proposed in Leaked Cable”, New York Times, October 3, 2008

[5] Christina Lamb, “War on Taliban cannot be won, says army chief”, Sunday Times, October 5, 2008

[6] “Gates rejects defeatism in Afghanistan”, The News (Pakistan), October 8, 2008

Richard Halloran, “US teeters on the edge of swamp of uncertainty in Afghanistan”, Taipei Times, October 14, 2008

[7] Muhammad Saleh Zaafir, “US, UK agree on settlement with Taliban: British HC”, The News (Pakistan), October 1, 2008

“US, UK agree on settlement with Taliban”, Press TV (Iran), October 11, 2008

[8] John F. Burns, “An Old Afghanistan Hand Offers Lessons of the Past”, New York Times, October 19, 2008

[9] Christopher D. Kolenda, “How to Win in Afghanistan: It’s time to adjust the strategy”, Weekly Standard, October 13, 2008; Volume 014, Issue 05

[10] Raymond Bonner, “2 British Antiterror Experts Say U.S. Takes Wrong Path”, New York Times, October 21, 2008

[11] “Taliban chief offers safe exist to allied forces: Karzai seeks Saudi help for talks with Mullah Omar”, Daily Times (Pakistan), October 1, 2008

[12] Nic Robertson, “Source: Saudi hosts Afghan peace talks with Taliban reps”, CNN, October 5, 2008

[13] “Pakistani and Afghan Elders to Meet to Ponder Violence”, Reuters, October 26, 2008

[14] Reuters, October 26, 2008

[15] Eric Schmitt, “30 Civilians Died in Afghan Raid, U.S. Inquiry Finds”, New York Times, October 7, 2008

[16] John F. Burns, “Afghans’ Toll Shakes Generals”, New York Times, October 18, 2008

[17] Abdul Waheed Wafa and Carlotta Gall, “’Mistaken Identity’ Cited in 9 Afghan Deaths”, New York Times, October 22, 2008

[18] “Defections hit Afghan forces”, Al Jazeera, October 15, 2008

[19] “Afghan mayor turns Taliban leader”, Al Jazeera, October 17, 2008

[20] Anand Gopal, “Some Afghans live under Taliban rule – and prefer it”, Christian Science Monitor, October 15, 2008

[21] Pamela Constable, “As Crime Increases in Kabul, So Does Nostalgia for Taliban”, Washington Post, September 25, 2008; Page A13

Jeremy R. Hammond is a regular columnist for Novakeo.com

Jeremy R. Hammond is the editor of Foreign Policy Journal (www.foreignpolicyjournal.com), a website providing news, analysis, and opinion commentary from outside the standard framework offered by government officials and the mainstream corporate media. His articles have also been featured in numerous other online publications. He can be reached at: Jeremy@foreignpolicyjournal.com

Revolution: The aftermath of creating an American peasantry?

August 1, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

American poor Last week I went to the Berkeley Public Library, looking for a book-on-tape to listen to while driving around town in my 1990 Toyota Tercel that gets 35 miles per gallon but still takes $45 worth of gas to fill up its puny little tank. But the only book-on-tape I could find there was John Reed’s “Insurgent Mexico”. Didn’t they have anything better than that?

“John Reed is old hat,” I said to myself. “That book was written in 1910. How could it possibly be relevant today?” Well it was. It turns out that John Reed was the freaking INVENTOR of Gonzo Journalism. And the Mexican Revolution? Aye, Carumba! Totally exciting. This revolution came about after Mexico’s peasant class had been deliberately and systematically pushed to its very limits of endurance by wealthy land-owners, bankers, industrialists and government officials — to the point where these hard-working bottom-of-the rung peons finally stood up to the rich dudes and said, “Basta!” Enough! “We can endure no more.”

The book made for great driving entertainment. It’s a wonder I didn’t run any more red lights than I did.

Then a journalist friend called me this morning and we started chatting about Africa. “Let’s talk about possible American military intervention in Darfur,” he said. “Remember when Mia Farrow suggested that they should send in Blackwater? That was a crazy idea. Sending in Blackwater would just create another Somalia or even end up igniting all of Africa. What Farrow should have said is that Americans need to put economic pressure on China instead.”

And why would that work?

“Because if China’s economy goes too far downhill, then its leaders will have to deal with China’s peasant class once again — like the mandarins had to do back in the old days. You gotta remember that China’s peasant class is still a major force to be reckoned with. Look how Mao was able to organize it and use it to take over the country. And the leaders in China today know this. At all times they are totally aware that this particular wolf is galloping along behind their sled, that their peasant class is already operating without a safety net, are the poorest of the poor and, if further bad times arrive because China can no longer sell its goods to the West, they might find another leader like Mao and stage another revolution.”

That got me to thinking. “You know, there’s no peasant class here in America, so American corporatists and politicians don’t have to worry about that.” Well, maybe we have some illegal aliens. And some homeless guys and some ghettos…but….

But what WOULD happen if American corporatists and their politcians in Washington continue to be allowed to chisel away at the American economy, and things really get bad here too? Would a new American peasant class be created? And if so — and if things in America really got desperate enough — would there be a revolution here too? “Insurgent America”? Aye, Carumba!

As American corporatists continue to work their little butts off in order to create their ultimate wet-dream of “cheap labor” here in the US as well as abroad, might they also be creating some kind of Frankenstein’s monster peasant class that will eventually come back and bite them in said little butts — when the villagers they are trying so hard to create out of America’s former middle class start coming after them with torches and pitchforks?

American corporatists need to be careful what they wish for.

Perhaps they too would benefit from driving around town (past all those home-foreclosure signs and boarded-up banks) while listening to John Reed’s “Insurgent Mexico” book-on-tape.

A revolution in America — either by peasants or not — might be happening here sooner rather than later if the economy continues to fail at the startling rate that it is now bob-sledding straight down. According to Kitco columnist Darryl Robert Schoon, “Since 1913 when the Federal Reserve first issued its debt based paper money in the US, the paper US dollar has lost 95 % of its value, a loss of 95 % over 95 years. Perhaps in five more years, 100 years after the creation of the Federal Reserve, the US dollar will have lost 100 % of its value—which means in five years the US paper dollar will be worth nothing.”

According to journalist Mike Whitney, our current banking system is also hard at work trying to create a new American peasant class. “As the bank-runs increase, the FDIC will be forced to admit the truth, that they don’t have the resources to deal with a problem this big. Currently, the FDIC has only $53 billion in reserves to guarantee $4 trillion in total bank deposits. The entire system has a mere $267 billion cash in the vaults.”

And Whitney is also pretty pissed off about that new housing bail-out bill. He claims that American homeowners probably won’t see a penny of that money. “None of congress’s back-room maneuvering has anything to do with ‘providing a lifeline for the struggling homeowner’, as Senator Dodd claims. That’s all bunkum. The homeowner won’t get a lick of help from this bill. Its just another handout for the brokerage fraternity…. The whole system has been rejiggered to serve the needs of a few greedy bankers on top of the food chain…. The truth is, the big money guys have taken a wrecking-ball to the financial system and now they’ve moved on to the real economy. By the time they’re done, we’ll be picking through the rubble just to feed our families.”

Welcome to Peasantville, America.

My only question now is, “Just exactly how bad must the economy get before the soon-to-be-nascent American peasantry finally starts to wake up?”

Jane Stillwater is a regular columnist for Novakeo.com
She can be reached at: jpstillwater@yahoo.com

The Nature Conspiracy in Southeast Colorado – Part 1

July 20, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Black HelicoptersIn 2003, a terrified southeast Colorado resident and her dog were forced to cower on the ground when a plane “came screaming out of the sky” and flew about “20-30 feet up.” In 2006, despite complaints, the Army continued the terror tactics against the residents with “repetitive touchdowns” and “circling over our homes” staying “just above the required 50 foot ceiling.” In the early spring of 2008, many residents were awakened “about 1 AM when helicopters hovered overhead, rattling windows and terrifying animals for about twenty minutes.” Residents have experienced “repeated fly-overs,” obviously designed to intimidate them. [1]
 
Then there was the out-of-control fire, perhaps a “controlled burn” gone awry, which Fort Carson officials claim was caused by lightning on the rarely-used Piñon Canyon Maneuver Site (PCMS) on June 8. But there had been no storms in the area at the time. Perhaps it was the result of live-fire uranium munitions that the Army claims they don’t use. [2] See video. Given the irrefutable evidence of uranium contamination on the site, we realize that the Army has lied, yet once again! [3]
 
That fire was finally contained on June 22, 2008 after burning about 60,000 acres and putting southeastern “Colorado lands and residents at risk.” It had “leapt the Purgatoire River” and “burned thousands of acres” of the same private ranchland, now vulnerable to post-fire erosion, that the Army is attempting to snatch “from unwilling sellers.” [4] When the short grass is burned it doesn’t come back. Mustard weed comes up in its stead and animals will not touch the noxious weed.
 
The Constitution doesn’t sanction a “standing army” (one that doesn’t disband during times of peace). James Madison warned: “A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence against foreign danger have always been the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.”  
 
The Constitution does not prevent a standing army, as necessary for defense. However, funding must be approved by Congress after two years (Article I, Section 8). A permanent, obedient army, marshaled for war, could readily be deployed against U.S. citizens who stand in the way of a reprehensible agenda. In addition to depleting a nation’s financial resources, permanent armies require bases and land that could be more efficiently used for resource production. Though not a weaponized attack in the general sense of the word, the Army has targeted the ranchers in southeast Colorado.
 
The Piñon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition states that maps obtained from the army show a ‘Future Expansion area’ equal to 5.5 million acres, most of the area south of La Junta, Colorado and east of Interstate 25. [5] The military claims they “need” more land to adequately train the troops, a claim I thoroughly explored in a previous article. The private-land-needed-for-training claim is a dastardly deception. Blackwater, a highly profitable, politically-connected Public-Private Partner, adequately trains as many as 40,000 individuals a year on 7,000 acres of swampy North Carolina land which apparently qualifies Blackwater to collect $1,222 a day ($445,000 a year) for each “contractor” – six times more than the cost of an equivalent soldier. [6] Blackwater also received $100,000 each to train 2,000 new border guards. This outsourced training, designed to enrich corporate cronies and fleece the taxpayers, was sanctioned by a Department of Homeland Security Authorization Bill, approved by Congress. [7]
 
Outrageous inconsistencies mount! Bush, the prince of preventative war who favors a “strike first” Iranian invasion[8], recently helped break ground for a new government-funded $185 million facility for the U.S. Institute of Peace, a Washington D.C. think tank devoted to “preventing conflict.” The substantial construction contract undoubtedly was awarded to a politically-connected firm. In globalist “newspeak,” terms are twisted and exploited to deceive the public into accepting questionable agendas and cover debatable activities like “national security,” “saving the planet,” and “spreading democracy.” George P. Shultz, co-chair of the organization stated at the ground-breaking: “If the United States is serious about peacemaking, the Institute must have a permanent home from which to serve the country and the international community…” [9]
 
Shultz is a member and former Director of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission,[10] organizations determined to destroy national sovereignty. He is a former U.S. Secretary of State, a former Secretary of the Treasury, a former Secretary of Labor, a former Director of the Office of Management and Budget, a former Director of the Bechtel Group (huge construction firm), a member of the secretive Bohemian Club, Chairman of the JP Morgan Chase International Council and the U.S. Chair of the North American Forum, “tasked with laying the groundwork for an EU-like North American Union.” [11] [12] The North American Union, the merging of Canada, Mexico and the United States, with established trade corridors, toll roads and depopulation of rural areas is being implemented under false pretenses.
 
Not 1 More Acre!, a non-profit group, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for Colorado on April 23, 2008 to halt the construction of an encroaching 16-barrack military base on the western edge of the existing training site. The Army requested that the lawsuit be thrown out on June 23, 2008.[13] This construction is designed to demonstrate “need” as the Army plans to relocate military personnel to the area. The suit charges the Department of the Army with failure to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and failure to disclose the destructive environmental, cultural and socio-economic impacts of the army’s proposed current expansion (418,000 acres) of Piñon Canyon Manuvere Site (PCMS) which encompasses private property between La Junta, Trinidad and Walsenburg.
 
This phase of the army’s expansion, devised after 9/11, requires an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) which was issued August 2, 2007. It was inadequate and deliberately misleading. It covered territory already under the control of the Army. Further, it violated “NEPA’s fundamental purpose.” Additionally, “the Army’s determination violates the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) because it is arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion and contrary to law.” The 2008 National Defense Authorization Act requires the Army to justify the proposed expansion. Additionally, the $555 billion 2008 Military Construction and Veterans Appropriations bill placed a one-year ban on the “Army’s spending of any money on expanding the PCMS.” [14] This ban was authored by Rep. Marilyn Musgrave and cosponsored by Rep. John Salazar. It received overwhelming support in the House (383-34). However, by the middle of May 2008, Fort Carson announced new EIS hearings and the expansion of troops to Fort Carson beyond the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) recommendation. [15]
 
Senator Wayne Allard’s bill of January 2007 (S 135), sparked by Army claims that there were several landowners who wanted to sell, sanctioned the Army’s purchase of land 60 days after the submission of an expansion plan report. The Army supplied that report this week, as requested in separate legislation dated December 14, 2007[16] authored by Senators Salazar and Allard. [17] Allard is retiring in January 2009 and by August 2007 had “already signaled that he wants the Army to go forward with its initial expansion studies next year – meaning he is not interested in protecting the Musgrave-Salazar amendment.” [18]
 
According to his votes in The Freedom Index, Senator Ken Salazar (John Salazar’s brother) doesn’t have a constitutional clue. Yet he claims to “fight for Colorado’s land, water and people,”[19] I would not expect him to suddenly stand up for his constituents unless he takes a crash course on the Constitution and rejects some corporate cash and partisan pressure. Bill S 135 is still in the Senate Committee on Armed Services but is scheduled for a vote on July 22, 2008. Please call your Senators today and ask them to vote against S 135. Your land might be next. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere (Martin Luther King, Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963).

Predictably, Senator Ken Salazar and Senator Wayne Allard, another constitutionally clueless congressman, voted “yea” on the new FISA Amendment on July 9, 2008. This will allow unwarranted spying on American citizens. It’s outrageous! Government officials need scrutiny, not the citizens! These congressional corporate courtesans repeatedly fail to represent their constituency on multiple issues. Check campaign coffers to determine loyalties.

On the same day that the Not 1 More Acre! lawsuit was filed (April 23, 2008), a new coalition, the Colorado Conservation Partnership (CCP), threw a gala event (politicians and their cronies love lavish, media-grabbing events) to announce their $800 million “Keep It Colorado” (globalist “newspeak”) plan to protect about 700,000 acres of private land in 24 regions of the state. Coincidentally, it is the very same land that the Army wants. See Huerfano Uplands and Lower Purgatoire River on the map. Peak to Prairie, another area, is situated between Pueblo and Colorado Springs. [20] [21]
 
Governor Bill Ritter (one of the featured speakers) attended CCP’s roll-out event, with more than 250 other supporters, including Senator Salazar, – “top-ranking conservation, business and community leaders, as they expressed support for the CCP vision” a plan to ultimately impose control over private property. Other elite attendees included C. Thomas Kaesemeyer, Executive Director of the Gates Family Foundation; Michael Dowling, Colorado Conservation Trust Chair; Rob Bleiberg, Mesa Land Trust Executive Director; Charles Bedford, The Nature Conservancy Colorado state director and others. If your invitation inadvertently got lost in the mail, you may get a glimpse of what you missed here (slide show on the right).
 
CCP’s “unprecedented collaboration” is composed of five Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), The Conservation Fund, Colorado Open Lands, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the Trust for Public Lands (TPL) and the Colorado Conservation Trust (CCT). These NGOs are largely financed by corporate-controlled tax-exempt foundations, the same corporations that control U.S. government officials. The Rockefellers, along with additional “millions from the Ford Foundation,” financed the Population Council and Population Reference Bureau. Both foundations provide extensive funding to TNC, an anti-private property group “devoted to eco-totalitarian objectives.” Interestingly, eco-socialist insiders recognize “the key role played by the super rich in funding and directing the revolution.” [22]
 
“CCP will leverage the diverse missions, resources, and collective expertise of each organization.” Coalition officials will attempt to persuade landowners to donate property worth about $400 million. They hope to accrue other necessary funds from donations, public and tax funds (more of your money). Thus far, the coalition has collected $2 million from the Duke Charitable Foundation and $15 million from the Colorado Division of Wildlife. [23] [24]
 
If the Army can’t seize your land one way, like good strategists, they will attempt other tactics.
 
Continued in Part 2
 

[1] Private email from southeast Colorado resident dated May 19, 2008
[2] Army denies Piñon Canyon contaminated
[3] Radioactive Uranium and Other Toxic Contaminants Found at Piñon Canyon
[4] Piñon Canyon wildfire 100 percent contained, Chicago Examiner.com, June 22, 2008
[5] Piñon Canyon Expansion Opposition Coalition
[6] Blackwater Worldwide, Wikipedia,
[7] Blackwater, the Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army by Jeremy Scahill, Nation Books, 2007, pgs. 332-337
[8] Next Neo-con Target – Iran, Part 1, By Deanna Spingola
[9] Bush, Pelosi, Reid Speak at Groundbreaking, June 5, 2008
[10] Trilateral Commission Members, April 10, 2003
[11] North American Forum: The Secret Cabal of Trinational Elites by Terry Melanson, Sept. 28th, 2006
[12] George P. Shultz Thomas W. and Susan B. Ford Distinguished Fellow Expertise: Global political and economic policy
[13] Army asks judge to toss out lawsuit, June 28, 2008
[14] Precinct caucuses to vote on Piñon Canyon resolution By Randy Woock, Trinidad Times, February 6, 2008
[15] In The United States District Court For The District Of Colorado
[16] Allard and Salazar Successfully Include Piñon Canyon Expansion Justification Study in Defense Authorization Bill
[17] Press Release, Not 1 More Acre! Trinidad, Colorado 81082, July 17, 2008 http://www.not1moreacre.net/docs
[18] Rep. Salazar seeks support on Piñon Canyon, One person he hopes will lend his backing is his brother, Sen. Ken Salazar By Peter Roper, The Pueblo Chieftain, August 21, 2007
[19] U.S. Senator Ken Salazar, Colorado
[20] Open Space Dreams, Coalition’s Goal Would Help Protect Land in 24 Regions by Jerd Smith, Rocky Mountain News, April 24, 2008
[21] Colorado Conservation Partnership, Five conservation Organizations, 100 Partners, 1 Vision
[22] Behind the Environmental Lobby: It May Seem Stranger Than Fiction, but It’s a Documentable Fact: The Eco-Socialist Movement Is Financed by the Super-Rich as Part of a Comprehensive Agenda for Global Control by William Norman Grigg, The New American, Vol. 21, April 4, 2005, Page 17
[23] Open Space Dreams, Coalition’s Goal Would Help Protect Land in 24 Regions by Jerd Smith, Rocky Mountain News, April 24, 2008
[24] Colorado Conservation Partnership, Five conservation Organizations, 100 Partners, 1 Vision

Deanna Spingola is a regular columnist for Novakeo.com

Deanna Spingola has been a quilt designer and is the author of two books. She has traveled extensively teaching and lecturing on her unique methods. She has always been an avid reader of non-fiction works designed to educate rather than entertain. She is active in family history research and lectures on that topic. Currently she is the director of the local Family History Center.

She has a great interest in politics and the direction of current government policies, particularly as they relate to the Constitution. Her website is at: www.spingola.com
email: deanna@spingola.com

U.S. Military Targets Southeast Colorado (Part 3)

May 24, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Colorado RanchAfter the $1.4 billion purchase of ConAgra by HM Capital Partners LLC (formerly Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst Incorporated) they retained ConAgra’s president, John Simons, and named the newly-acquired company Swift & Company to honor “one of ConAgra’s ‘ premier brand names.” ConAgra, still extant, has a huge product line. [1] In 1989, Thomas O. Hicks co-founded Hicks, Muse & Company, a private equity firm specializing in leveraged acquisitions. [2] HM has acquired media, food, oil, gas, energy, and financial services and benefits from numerous government contracts through Sodexho. Reinventing Government (REGO), both state and federal, has enabled well-connected corporations to amass fortunes and power at the expense of the taxpayers, especially independent middle-class citizens who produce tangible goods.

Private property rights, via numerous tactics, have been abused, altered and are in the process of being abolished (the first plank of the Communist Manifesto). The U.S. Constitution, a protective document, has been surreptitiously supplanted by the U.N. Charter, the vehicle to global governance – the real objective of the dismantling of the middle-class through property, job and lifestyle seizure.

With the consent of the leadership of both morally bankrupt parties, the U.S. adopted the following recommendations from the first United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (Habitat I), held in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1976: a national policy on population distribution according to available resources; public land control or ownership in the public interest with equitable distribution of benefits while assuring environmental impacts. Land, a scarce resource, should be subject to public surveillance or control for the common interest. Governments must exercise full jurisdiction over land and freely plan the development of human settlements. [3] Habitat II was in 1996. [4] When you see the words public or common interest, think Communism, a political system wholly financed and supported by international bankers.

Agenda 21, also endorsed by the leadership of both parties, was created at the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) also known as the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from June 3 to June 14, 1992 under the direction of Maurice F. Strong, Conference Secretary General. [5] [6] An objective of Agenda 21 “is to improve the social, economic and environmental quality of human settlements and the living and working environments of all people, in particular the urban and rural poor.” The government will make all lifestyle decisions.

A follow-up meeting, called World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) convened from August 26 through September 4, 2002. Agenda 21 is a very well-organized plan to reinvent and regionalize government beginning with the “rural-cleansing” of America and those referred to by the elite ruling class as resource-draining, expendable useless eaters. [7] The concept of sustainable development came from the constitution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (1977), Chapter 2, Article 18 where it discusses the need “to protect and make scientific, rational use of the land and its mineral and water resources, and the plant and animal kingdoms to preserve the purity of air and water, ensure reproduction of natural wealth, and improve the human environment.” [8]

Bill Clinton’s Executive Order #12852 of June 29, 1993 established the President’s Council on Sustainable Development which consisted of not more than 25 members chosen by the president. [9] This council, under Al Gore, functioned until June 1999 and successfully implemented the U.N.’s Agenda 21. [10]

REGO, said Rhodes Scholar Bill Clinton, means “to change the way our governments work to fit a different time and…come together behind our common purpose.” To facilitate change, The Government Performance and Results Act became law on January 5, 1993 establishing the National Partnership for Reinventing Government (NPR), also known as the National Performance Review, similar to the Republican’s Grace Commission of 1982. Peter Grace founded Citizens Against Government Waste in 1984. It sounds good; taxpayers would not oppose ending government waste. Al Gore, convening with a group of 250 unelected civil servants later presented, to congress, 384 recommendations with 1,250 specific actions which required bureaucratic agencies to implement two-thirds of the recommendations. [11]

By September 7, 1993, official guidelines were established. Gore transferred many government activities to the private sector and attempted to corporatize the federal government while allowing profit-motivated corporations, “trusted partners in enforcing laws,” to “comply voluntarily with federal laws and regulations” actually a ploy to demolish food-safety, clean air regulations and other consumer safety measures. [12]

REGO uses Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) composed of corporations, tax-exempt foundations and Non Government Organizations (NGOs) to alter the balance of power and diminish congressional responsibility while enlarging executive power and downsizing and shifting power from the federal to the local level. [13] Shifting power to the local level almost sounds constitutional – but has nothing to do with states’ rights. Rather a plethora of authoritarian agencies, staffed by unelected, decision-making low-level smug bureaucratic minions, function under the direction of the Executive Branch with little, if any, oversight from Congress.

In a Public-Private Partnership public assets are surrendered to corporations. Occidental Petroleum “funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars ($470,000)[14] in campaign contributions” to Clinton and Gore. To reward their generosity, Gore facilitated “Occidental’s acquisition of oil drilling rights in the Elk Hills National Petroleum Reserve, part of the Kitanemuk people’s traditional lands, outside of Bakersfield, California” a federal oil resource. It was the largest surrender of “public lands to a private corporation in American history. It tripled Occidental’s U.S. petroleum reserves.” Within five years, Occidental had destroyed 100 native archaeological sites, “including ancient burial grounds.” However, Gore, the self-serving professed environmentalist “authority”, benefited through his control of “between $250,000 – $500,000 worth of Occidental shares through a family held trust.” [15]

Hooker Chemicals, a subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum Company, one of the worst corporate polluters in the world, refused to accept liability for the 21,000 tons of chemical waste that they buried at Love Canal. [16] Ultimately, Occidental Petroleum Corporation was sued by the EPA in 1995 and agreed to pay $129 million in restitution. [17] Given their abundant assets and political clout, it was a small price to pay. Gore paved the way for whatever environmental crisis we face today. That is what globalists do best – they create a crisis and then offer a predetermined solution that citizens would have previously rejected.

In 1996, the Clinton Administration passed a bill privatizing the U.S. Enrichment Corporation (USEC), a government-owned corporation. William Rainer, a large donor to the Presidential Inaugural Committee in 1993, headed USEC’s board of directors when they decided to accept $1.9 billion from private investors in 1998.
Rainer was rewarded – he was appointed chairman of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission. Gore’s biggest contributors enjoyed a “$75 million bonanza. Morgan Stanley, Dean Witter & Company, Merrill Lynch & Company, Inc. and Goldman Sachs & Company collectively raked in at least $42 million in underwriting fees.” However, it placed the management of contaminated facilities into private hands. [18]

Gore claims that he turned the Pentagon into a “well-run business.” [19] Actually REGO simply intensified the Pentagon accounting debacle and nicely benefited well-connected military contractors like Boeing and Lockheed Martin (repeatedly upgraded NORAD) – another example of Public-Private Partnerships. In 1998, the General Accounting Office and the War Department discovered that “the Pentagon had made more than $2.3 trillion worth of bookkeeping errors. The Pentagon has likewise misplaced “nearly $120 billion worth of equipment,” including trucks, tanks and ships. Financial crimes at the Pentagon were/are rampant. [20]

On January 14, 1999, Gore held the first global REGO council which “included high-level representatives from nearly 40 countries.” Gore promoted “three key government reinvention initiatives – civil service improvement, children’s well-being and measuring customer satisfaction.” [21] Customer satisfaction is an interesting phrase unless you consider Public-Private Partnerships. Global councils have been held, since then, on a yearly basis. Gore’s fix-all inspiration for the crisis/solution globalist tactic came from David Osborne and Ted Gaebler, co-authors of Reinventing Government: How the Entrepreneurial Spirit Is Transforming the Public Sector. Osborne presented his paper at the UN’s 7th Global REGO forum, Building Trust in Government, held in Vienna from June 26-27, 2007. [22] Recently, Osborne wrote a paper Reinventing the Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism to assist Louisiana in their post-Katrina transformation.

An expanding global network of NGOs successfully operates as strident hired mobs to apply pressure to politicians and “provide the appearance of popular support” for “world governance.” Their “orchestrated clamor” is deliberately designed to appeal to political and corporate leaders. “The political and corporate leaders – according to plan – then ‘respond’ to the ‘will of civil society.’” [23] Actual community essentials which do not generate profit are sacrificed as public monies are appropriated by profit-minded, consumer-seeking corporations.

REGO is now on the Republican fast track, the party most adroit at initially deceiving the masses by their conservative claims. The concept of a Public-Private Partnership was thoroughly tested on the taxpayers of Arlington, Texas by George W. Bush. Later, Bechtel, Halliburton, Blackwater, HM Capital Partners LLC and the coffers of a multitude of other candidate-contributing corporations would be greatly enriched through their cloaked Public-Private Partnerships.

Karl Rove, the power-loving master manipulator, early-on urged Bush to run for the Texas governorship. Rove claimed that ownership of the Texas Rangers would be Bush’s 1994 “ticket to the big time” giving him widespread “exposure” and credibility after a series of business failures (a family characteristic? – Neil (scroll down) and Jeb, here and here). [24] The Bush brothers were frequently rescued by rich family friends, apparently intent on exploiting political connections. [25] They are also regularly absolved by “thoughtful” government agencies. Bush’s share of any team profits would later increase to 11 percent when the other syndicate members had recouped their investment – doubtless an indulgent elite-by-birth benefit? [26]

George Bush and a group of investors, including Spectrum 7 business partner, William O. DeWitt Jr. (father once owned the St. Louis Browns and the Cincinnati Reds) and Fort Worth financier Richard E. Rainwater, bought the Texas Rangers for $86 million on April 21, 1989 from Eddie Chiles, a Bush family friend. Bush paid $606,302 for 1.8 percent of the Rangers after borrowing $500,000. He repaid that loan when he “fortuitously” dumped Harken stocks in June 1990, one week before Harken announced an overall loss of $23.2 million. For 34 weeks, he failed to inform the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) about this transaction despite the law that requires prompt disclosure of insider sales. On March 8, 2002, while campaigning to get brother Jeb re-installed as Florida governor (January 5, 1999 – January 2, 2007), Bush said: “Corporate officials should not be allowed to secretly trade their company’s stock. Every time they buy or sell, they should be required to tell the public within two days.” [27]

No charges were filed against the U.S. president’s son. The SEC general counsel, Texas Attorney, James Doty, handled the Bush syndicate’s 1989 purchase of the Rangers. Harken and Arbusto (Bush’s first company) had some interesting investors – like Ghaith R. Pharaon, the second largest shareholder in CenTrust Bank which failed in 1990 costing the taxpayers $1.7 billion. He is wanted for questioning for his role as front man for the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI). [28] George Soros was also an investor.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) sued Richard Greene (Arlington’s mayor 4/4/1987-5/6/1997) for his participation, as president of Sunbelt’s Arlington branch, in the Sunbelt Savings Association scam which lost between $2 and $3 billion for American taxpayers and had cost the Feds $297 million just to investigate. Sunbelt’s owner, Edwin T. McBirney, agreed to plead guilty to fraud for his four-year lending spree. [29] In October 1990, Greene, in writing, guaranteed that Arlington taxpayers, rather than the owners, would pay $135 million towards the larger, more elaborate stadium that the team’s new owners wanted in order to maximize their profits, the whole reason for their venture. The FDIC lawsuit quickly evaporated and all Mayor Greene paid was a paltry $40 thousand – no more questions and apparently no long-term consequences. [30] It’s not what you know but who you know. Rules differ for certain segments of society. Greene was appointed EPA Regional 6 Administrator, effective March 31, 2003, by George W. Bush. [31]

Consequently, on October 24, 1990, the syndicate announced their sweetheart deal, for a Public-Private Partnership, with the city of Arlington for a new state-of-the-art facility. A Master Agreement was entered into on December 4, 1990 between the City of Arlington, Texas, a municipal corporation of the State of Texas and the Texas Rangers, Ltd., a Texas limited partnership. [32]

On November 13, 1990, the “City” called a referendum vote to authorize the levy and collection of an additional one-half cent sales and use tax within the City to be used to repay the Bonds amounting to $135 million. Arlington would hold the Referendum on January 19, 1991. A favorable vote was essential to enact the enabling legislation to authorize the transactions. [33] Arlington spent $150,000 on a public relations campaign with brochures, telemarketing and a “Hands Around Arlington Day” to convince the voters to approve of this tax increase.

Greene and Bush spoke from the pulpit of Arlington’s Mount Olive Baptist Church. Bush claimed “A vote for the tax would be a vote for contracts for African American businesses.” No minority contracts were ever awarded. [34] With minimal opposition, citizens voted two-to-one for approval of the tax increase. “Between the sales tax revenue, state tax exemptions, and other financial incentives, Texas taxpayers handed the privately owned Rangers more than $200 million in public subsidies. Taxpayers didn’t get a return from the stadium’s surging new revenues. The profits went almost exclusively to the team’s already wealthy owners.” [35] That is how Public-Private Partnerships work. For his managerial and spokesperson efforts, Bush was paid an annual salary of $200,000. [36]

Additionally, according to the legal agreement, the Rangers retained all monies from “the concessions, parking, signage, sublease revenues, naming allowances, and any and all other revenue produced within the Facilities and would assume ownership of the stadium for $60 million after the bonds were paid. The City agreed that the Facility Lease Tract would be exempt from the sign ordinance of the City for signs within the Facilities.” [37] Baseball, a government-protected monopoly, has an exemption from all federal antitrust laws.

Legislation, signed by Democratic Governor Ann Richards, was enacted to create the Arlington Sports Facilities Development Authority ASFDA (incorporated April 11, 1991) a quasi-governmental entity, a component of the City of Arlington which would give power to issue the necessary bonds and exercise eminent domain. ASFDA hired Hutchison Boyle Brooks & Fisher, P.C. to plan strategy, financing and to figure out how to minimize the amount of cash Bush and his partners had to spend. According to documents obtained by the Center for Public Integrity the owners simply had to target the land they wanted. Then Mike Reilly, hatchet man real estate broker and Rangers investor, would offer to purchase the parcels of land at prices well below their market value. If the owners rejected his offer, AFSDA could seize their private property and a government court would determine the price. [38] Condemnation of private property, especially since the Kelo decision of June 23, 2005, is rampant. Although the foregoing seems irrelevant to the attempted land grab in southeast Colorado (or any other state) – it isn’t.

Bibliography: Reinventing The Government Corporation by A. Michael Froomkiin

[1] Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst And Booth Creek Management Complete $1.4 Billion Acquisition Of Fresh Meat Business Of ConAgra Foods
[2] Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst Names Three New Partners, Adopts New Firm Name
[3] United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, See also HABITAT: United Nations Conference on Human Settlements
[4] Human Settlements (Habitat II)
[5] United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED)
[6] United Nations’ Local Agenda 21 (LA-21) and Communitarian Development Programme by Niki Raapana
[7] National Security Study Memorandum 200 (NSSM 200) – April 1974
[8] Prince Charles, the Sustainable Prince by Joan Veon
[9] Federal Register / Vol. 58, No. 126 / Friday, July 2, 1993 / Presidential Documents
[10] President’s Council on Sustainable Development
[11] National Partnership for Reinventing Government (formerly the National Performance Review), A Brief History by John Kamensky, January 1999
[12] Al Gore: A User’s Manual by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, Verso 2000, pgs. 172-187
[13] The United Nations’ Global Straightjacket by Joan Veon, 2000, pgs. 62-104
[14] Al Gore’s Teapot Dome by Alexander Cockburn, July 17, 2000
[15] Some Inconvenient Truths About Al Gore by Stephen Marshall, May 26, 2006
[16] The Love Canal Tragedy by Eckardt C. Beck, January 1979
[17] Occidental To Pay $129 Million In Love Canal Settlement
[18] The Buying of the President 2000 – Albert Gore, Jr., The Center for Public Integrity
[19] Al Gore: A User’s Manual by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, Verso 2000, pgs. 172-187
[20] Hold the Oven Cleaner by Alexander Cockburn; See also: Al Gore: A User’s Manual by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, Verso 2000, pgs. 172-187
[21] 1st Global Forum on Reinventing Government, January 14, 1999, White House Press Release
[22] 7th Global Forum on Reinventing Government
[23] The United Nations Exposed, the International Conspiracy to Rule the World by William F. Jasper, 2001, pgs. 79-81
[24] How George W. Bush Scored Big With the Texas Rangers by Charles Lewis, January 18, 2000
[25] Bush Name Helps Fuel Oil Dealings By George Lardner Jr. and Lois Romano, Washington Post, July 30, 1999
[26] One Thing is Crystal Clear: Clear Channel is a Subsidiary of Bush, Inc., April 18, 2003
[27] The Buying of the President 2004, Who’s Really Bankrolling Bush and his Democratic Challengers – And What They Expect in Return by Charles Lewis and the Center for Public Integrity, pg. 132
[28] George W Bush: ‘War on Terror’ aka ‘War for Oil’
[29] Business Digest: Saturday, December 22, 1990
[30] Joe Conason’s Journal, Bush expresses confidence the SEC will clear Cheney, but could that be seen as applying pressure on the agency? July 17, 2002, See also: Big Lies by Joe Conason, Thomas Dunne Books, 2003, pgs. 146-170
[31] Richard E. Greene Appointed EPA Region 6 Administrator
[32] Master Agreement Regarding Ballpark Complex Development
[33] Ibid
[34] Team Player, Texas Monthly By Joe Nick Patoski, June 1999
[35] Right on the Money: The George W. Bush Profile, The Buying of the President 2000, Part 2 of 3
[36] Team Player, Texas Monthly By Joe Nick Patoski, June 1999
[37] Master Agreement Regarding Ballpark Complex Development
[38] Right on the Money: The George W. Bush Profile, The Buying of the President 2000, Part 2 of 3

Deanna Spingola is a regular columnist for Novakeo.com

Deanna Spingola has been a quilt designer and is the author of two books. She has traveled extensively teaching and lecturing on her unique methods. She has always been an avid reader of non-fiction works designed to educate rather than entertain. She is active in family history research and lectures on that topic. Currently she is the director of the local Family History Center.

She has a great interest in politics and the direction of current government policies, particularly as they relate to the Constitution. Her website is at: www.spingola.com
email: deanna@spingola.com

Death on the freeway

March 14, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

Eulogy for a former KBR-Iraq contractor

“When you were in Iraq, did you meet any contractors?” someone asked me recently. “What were they like? Were they scary?” No, not at all. They were nice. And helpful and efficient and friendly. But then I mostly only dealt with KBR contractors working on the administrative side of things. I never met any KBR contractors who were mercenaries. And I definitely never met any of those heavy-duty Blackwater guys.

One time I did spend the morning with a group of British bodyguards who looked like they might have been left over from “The Troubles” in Belfast and could snap your neck in a second, but they were just escorting around a group of civil engineers who were inspecting a health clinic. Nothing fierce.

“If you take a photo of us, we will have to destroy your camera,” one of the bodyguards told me. But other than that, they also were quite nice.

However, like I said before, I didn’t get a chance to see much of Iraq. The U.S. Army’s CPIC [Combined Press Information Center] unit in Baghdad kept me pretty much away from combat zones when I was in Iraq during April and October of 2007. And when I kept asking them to send me to some of the dicier areas, they stopped letting me into Iraq at all. I guess they either didn’t want me reporting back to my progressively-oriented editors regarding any blood-and-gore situations in Baghdad right before the 2008 presidential elections — or else they figured it might look bad for “Bush’s War” if something dire happened to me. “How could we possibly explain how a 65-year-old grandmother managed to get kidnapped or blown up?” But I digress.

I am here today to tell you the story of Dave Crow and to write his eulogy.

Dave was a well-built and beefy man, a carpenter who could lift 100-pound slabs of sheet-rock all day long and not break a sweat. But then he got lured overseas by all the easy money to be made as a contractor for KBR in Iraq.

“I was only over there for four months,” he told me. “I was a truck driver for KBR. The money was good. But our camp was located over the site of a former depleted uranium dump and I got really sick. My body started just wasting away and now I’m weak, unhealthy, living in a trailer outside of San Diego and basically screwed up.” He talked to me about his plans to sue KBR because they had reneged on their promise to provide him with healthcare when he came back from Iraq.

After he returned to the States, Dave’s life went rapidly downhill. He lost weight. He was ill. He was in constant pain. His girlfriend left him. He drank. And then, apparently, he shot himself.

I was so sorry to hear that his life had ended this way.

One of Dave’s friends sent me an article a few months ago. Dated September 29, 2007, the article said that on the previous Wednesday, Dave Crow had pulled over onto the side of a Southern California freeway and shot himself in the chest. Dave had commited suicide? I could understand that. The guy was frustrated and in pain. End of story.

But it wasn’t the end of Dave’s story. There was more to come. The other day, I ran into a friend of Dave’s at a party and the friend started talking about Dave. “Several of the people who were close to Dave had given up on him right before he died,” said his friend, “but it wasn’t just because his health had bottomed out. It was because all he would ever talk about was how KBR had done him wrong. He was sick and in pain, sure, but he was also very sad, disillusioned and bitter — that he would never again be the strong and healthy young man that he had been before going over to Iraq. All he could ever talk about were his losses and how KBR had promised to pay his medical expenses when he got back and how he was going to sue them. Some of his friends started avoiding him. It was hard to be around him. That was all that he could talk about.”

And then Dave was found dead at the side of the freeway last fall. “At first I thought that he probably did shoot himself, ” said his friend, “but then someone showed me his coroner’s report and, frankly, it seemed sort of sketchy. Apparently Dave had been driving erratically on the freeway and then pulled off at an exit to buy gas or something in some town. And, according to the report, an off-duty police officer who had been driving his own personal car on the freeway had followed Dave off the freeway, followed him all through the town and then followed him back onto the freeway again. I think that Dave might have panicked about being followed by some strange unmarked car and tried to run.”

According to Dave’s friend, the coroner’s report went on to say that the police became involved at some point and there was apparently a chase. then Dave swerved off the road and ran into some construction equipment. “The report then says that a police officer witnessed Dave shoot himself in the chest. Not in the head or the heart. In the chest.”

Dave’s friend was disappointed with the coroner’s report. “It said that Dave was carrying a Glock firearm that was capable of holding 17 rounds but there were only three rounds left in the clip. That’s strange. And the report didn’t mention whether or not any shell casings had been found in the car. Why would Dave be carrying around a Glock with only three rounds? Had he been shooting at someone? Had they been shooting at him? And why would an off-duty policeman follow him all over town?”

Towards the end of the party, I had another chance to talk with Dave’s friend again and the death of Dave Crow was still on his mind. “Having never done this sort of thing before — questioning an official report — I was hoping that you might know how to get the California Highway Patrol or someone to look into the events that led to Dave’s death on the freeway in Azusa. For instance, is it standard procedure for an off-duty police officer to chase people that way? And if it is, does anyone think that maybe that’s what started Dave running, and caused his ultimate ‘suicide’?” Then Dave’s friend looked pensive. “And does anyone even care? Maybe you can stir the pot or else that other journalist that interviewed Dave about KBR could check in to it. Or is there any other watch dog agency that oversees policy for the police that we could ask about this?” Dave’s friend shrugged his shoulders.

“It’s just that I’d like to have some sort of closure on my friend’s death — like some accounting of just what happened to him, and the answer to some of the basic questions. Did the bullet pulled from his body match the gun registered to him? And can a private citizen ask questions like I have, about a case that really isn’t any of my business….other than that of ‘no man is an island’? I know that Dave will still be dead either way of course. I just hate the idea that he might have been killed and someone out there somehow is getting away with it. That’s all.”

Perhaps there had been a shoot-out. Or perhaps Dave might have been paranoid enough to mistakenly think, when he was being followed for so long by an unmarked car, that KBR was going after him because of the lawsuit. Who knows? I certainly don’t know. But there is one thing that I DO know: I know that I need to write an eulogy for David Crow. “I’m sorry, Dave, that your life ended this way — sick and upset and bleeding to death alone on the side of some obscure California freeway. And I hope that now you are without pain and resting in a better place — no matter what happened to you during your short life here on earth.” Rest in peace, Dave. You deserve it.

Jane Stillwater is a regular columnist for Novakeo.com
She can be reached at: jpstillwater@yahoo.com

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