Washington knows no heresy in the Third World but genuine independence. In the case of Salvador Allende independence came clothed in an especially provocative costume – a Marxist constitutionally elected who continued to honor the constitution. This would not do. It shook the very foundation stones upon which the anti-communist tower is built: the doctrine, painstakingly cultivated for decades, that “communists” can take power only through force and deception, that they can retain that power only through terrorizing and brainwashing the population. There could be only one thing worse than a Marxist in power – an elected Marxist in power.
There was no one in the entire universe that those who own and run “United States, Inc.” wanted to see dead more than Hugo Chávez. He was worse than Allende. Worse than Fidel Castro. Worse than any world leader not in the American camp because he spoke out in the most forceful terms about US imperialism and its cruelty. Repeatedly. Constantly. Saying things that heads of state are not supposed to say. At the United Nations, on a shockingly personal level about George W. Bush. All over Latin America, as he organized the region into anti-US-Empire blocs.
Long-term readers of this report know that I’m not much of a knee-reflex conspiracy theorist. But when someone like Chávez dies at the young age of 58 I have to wonder about the circumstances. Unremitting cancer, intractable respiratory infections, massive heart attack, one after the other … It is well known that during the Cold War, the CIA worked diligently to develop substances that could kill without leaving a trace. I would like to see the Venezuelan government pursue every avenue of investigation in having an autopsy performed.
Back in December 2011, Chávez, already under treatment for cancer, wondered out loud: “Would it be so strange that they’ve invented the technology to spread cancer and we won’t know about it for 50 years?” The Venezuelan president was speaking one day after Argentina’s leftist president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, announced she had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. This was after three other prominent leftist Latin America leaders had been diagnosed with cancer: Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff; Paraguay’s Fernando Lugo; and the former Brazilian leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
“Evo take care of yourself. Correa, be careful. We just don’t know,” Chávez said, referring to Bolivia’s president, Evo Morales, and Rafael Correa, the president of Ecuador, both leading leftists.
Chávez said he had received words of warning from Fidel Castro, himself the target of hundreds of failed and often bizarre CIA assassination plots. “Fidel always told me: ‘Chávez take care. These people have developed technology. You are very careless. Take care what you eat, what they give you to eat … a little needle and they inject you with I don’t know what.” 1
When Vice President Nicolas Maduro suggested possible American involvement in Chávez’s death, the US State Department called the allegation absurd. 2
Several progressive US organizations have filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the CIA, asking for “any information regarding or plans to poison or otherwise assassinate the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, who has just died.”
I personally believe that Hugo Chávez was murdered by the United States. If his illness and death were NOT induced, the CIA – which has attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders, many successfully 3 – was not doing its job.
When Fidel Castro became ill several years ago, the American mainstream media was unrelenting in its conjecture about whether the Cuban socialist system could survive his death. The same speculation exists now in regard to Venezuela. The Yankee mind can’t believe that large masses of people can turn away from capitalism when shown a good alternative. It could only be the result of a dictator manipulating the public; all resting on one man whose death would mark finis to the process.
It’s the end of the world … again
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) recent convention in Washington produced the usual Doomsday talk concerning Iran’s imminent possession of nuclear weapons and with calls to bomb that country before they nuked Israel and/or the United States. So once again I have to remind everyone that these people – Israeli and American officials – are not really worried about an Iranian attack. Here are some of their many prior statements:
In 2007, in a closed discussion, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that in her opinion “Iranian nuclear weapons do not pose an existential threat to Israel.” She “also criticized the exaggerated use that [Israeli] Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is making of the issue of the Iranian bomb, claiming that he is attempting to rally the public around him by playing on its most basic fears.” 4
2009: “A senior Israeli official in Washington”, reported the Washington Post (March 5), asserted that “Iran would be unlikely to use its missiles in an attack [against Israel] because of the certainty of retaliation.”
In 2010 the Sunday Times of London (January 10) reported that Brigadier-General Uzi Eilam, war hero, pillar of the Israeli defense establishment, and former director-general of Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission, “believes it will probably take Iran seven years to make nuclear weapons.”
January 2012: US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta told a television audience: “Are they [Iran] trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No, but we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability.” 5
Later that month we could read in the New York Times (January 15) that “three leading Israeli security experts – the Mossad chief, Tamir Pardo, a former Mossad chief, Efraim Halevy, and a former military chief of staff, Dan Halutz – all recently declared that a nuclear Iran would not pose an existential threat to Israel.”
Then, a few days afterward, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, in an interview with Israeli Army Radio (January 18), had this exchange:
Question: Is it Israel’s judgment that Iran has not yet decided to turn its nuclear potential into weapons of mass destruction?
Barak: People ask whether Iran is determined to break out from the control [inspection] regime right now … in an attempt to obtain nuclear weapons or an operable installation as quickly as possible. Apparently that is not the case.
In an April 20, 2012 CNN interview Barak repeated this sentiment: “It’s true that probably [Iranian leader] Khamenei has not given orders to start building a [nuclear] weapon.” 6
And on several other occasions, Barak has stated: “Iran does not constitute an existential threat against Israel.” 7
Lastly, we have the US Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, in a January 2012 report to Congress: “We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.” … There are “certain things [the Iranians] have not done” that would be necessary to build a warhead.8
So why, then, do Israeli and American leaders, at most other times, maintain the Doomsday rhetoric? Partly for AIPAC to continue getting large donations. For Israel to get massive amounts of US aid. For Israeli leaders to win elections. To protect Israel’s treasured status as the Middle East’s sole nuclear power.
Listen to Danielle Pletka, vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at America’s most prominent neo-con think tank, American Enterprise Institute:
The biggest problem for the United States is not Iran getting a nuclear weapon and testing it, it’s Iran getting a nuclear weapon and not using it. Because the second that they have one and they don’t do anything bad, all of the naysayers are going to come back and say, “See, we told you Iran is a responsible power. We told you Iran wasn’t getting nuclear weapons in order to use them immediately.” … And they will eventually define Iran with nuclear weapons as not a problem. 9
Osama bin Laden, Bradley Manning, & William Blum
Bradley Manning has the charge of “Aiding the enemy” hanging over his head. This could lead to a sentence of life in prison. As far as can be deduced, the government believes that the documents and videos that Manning gave to Wikileaks, which Wikileaks then widely distributed to international media, aided the enemy because it put US foreign policy in a very bad light.
Manning’s attorneys have asked the prosecution more than once for specific examples of how “the enemy” (whoever that may refer to in a world full of people bitterly angry at the United States because of any of many terrible acts carried out by the US government) has been “aided” by the Wikileaks disclosures. Just how has the enemy made use of the released material to harm the United States? The government has not provided any such examples, probably because what really bothers Washington officials is the embarrassment they have experienced before the world resulting from the documents and videos; which indeed are highly embarrassing even to genuine war criminals; filled with violations of international law, atrocities, multiple lies to everyone, revelations of gross hypocrisy, and much more.
So our splendid officials are considering putting Bradley Manning in prison forever simply because they’re embarrassed. Hard to find much fault with that.
But now the prosecutors have announced that a Navy Seal involved in the killing of Osama bin Laden is going to testify at the court martial that bin Laden possessed articles about the Wikileaks documents that Manning leaked. Well, there must be a hundred million other people in the world who have similar material on their computers. The question remains: What use did the enemy make of that?
The Iraqi government made use of the material, inducing them to refuse immunity to US troops for crimes committed in Iraq, such as the cold-blooded murders revealed by the Wilileaks videos; this in turn led the US to announce that it was ending its military engagement in Iraq. However, Manning was indicted in May 2010, well before the Iraqi decision to end the immunity.
In January, 2006 bin Laden, in an audio tape, declared: “If Bush decides to carry on with his lies and oppression, then it would be useful for you to read the book ‘Rogue State’ [by William Blum], which states in its introduction … ” He then went on to quote the opening of a paragraph I wrote (which appears actually in the Foreword of the British edition only, that was later translated to Arabic), which in full reads:
“If I were the president, I could stop terrorist attacks against the United States in a few days. Permanently. I would first apologize – very publicly and very sincerely – to all the widows and the orphans, the impoverished and the tortured, and all the many millions of other victims of American imperialism. I would then announce that America’s global interventions – including the awful bombings – have come to an end. And I would inform Israel that it is no longer the 51st state of the union but – oddly enough – a foreign country. I would then reduce the military budget by at least 90% and use the savings to pay reparations to the victims and repair the damage from the many American bombings and invasions. There would be more than enough money. Do you know what one year of the US military budget is equal to? One year. It’s equal to more than $20,000 per hour for every hour since Jesus Christ was born.
“That’s what I’d do on my first three days in the White House. On the fourth day, I’d be assassinated.”
Thus, Osama bin Laden was clearly making use of what I wrote, and the whole world heard it. And I was thus clearly “aiding the enemy”. But I was not prosecuted.
The United States would like to prove a direct use and benefit by “the enemy” of the material released by Wikileaks; but so far it appears that only possession might be proven. In my case the use, and presumed propaganda benefit, were demonstrated. The fact that I wrote the material, as opposed to “stealing” it, is irrelevant to the issue of aiding the enemy. I knew, or should have known, that my criticisms of US foreign policy could be used by the foes of those policies. Indeed, that’s why I write what I do. To provide ammunition to anti-war and other activists.
The Department of Justice and socialism
For many years when I’ve been asked to explain just what I mean by “socialism” I’ve usually replied simply: “Putting people before profits”. There are a thousand-and-one details that would have to be considered in a transformation from a capitalist society to a socialist society, but rather than going into all that it’s much simpler to leave it with just that motto, which expresses theessence of my socialist society. In any event, in that glorious future world things will evolve in ways that could not be wholly predicted. The structure could take any one of many forms, but the essence must remain the same if it’s going to be called socialist.
Thus was I both surprised and amused in reading a news article about the current trial in New Orleans which is attempting to determine, amongst other things, the extent of blame of various companies, particularly BP, involved in the 2010 historic accident which took the lives of 11 workers and dumped an estimated 172 million gallons of crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico. The US Justice Department attorney declared in his opening statement: “The evidence will show that BP put profits before people, profits before safety and profits before the environment.” 10
Well, imagine that. The Justice Department certainly captured the essence of corporate behavior. The attorney chose such words because he knew that the sentiments expressed would appeal to the average American sitting on a jury. The members of the jury would understand that BP had blatantly ignored and violated certain cherished ideals like people, safety and the environment. Prosecuting the corporation would sound fair and just to them.
Yet, when someone like me expresses such sentiments – and I have used the exact same words on occasion – I run the risk of being written off as an “extremist”, a “radical”, and other bad-for-you labels; not long ago it was “commie”.
The irony runs even deeper. If a corporation flagrantly ignores putting profits before everything else, stockholders can sue the executives.
This just in! The real reason the Pope resigned!
He’s losing his mind.
In January, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta met with Pope Benedict XVI to receive his blessing. Afterward, Panetta said the pontiff told him, “Thank you for helping to keep the world safe.” 11
The precious art of assassinating legally
Obama hopeium addicts can soon be expected to call for support of the president’s increasing use of drones for assassination on the ground of their being good for the environment. My White House agent informs me that Obama is going to announce that all American drones will soon be composed 85% of recyclable material and will be solar-powered. And each drone missile will have the following painted on its side: “He was a bad guy. Just take our word for it!”
- The Guardian (London), December 29, 2011 ↩
- Huffington Post, March 7, 2013 ↩
- http://killinghope.org/bblum6/assass.htm ↩
- Haaretz.com (Israel), October 25, 2007; print edition October 26 ↩
- “Face the Nation”, CBS, January 8, 2012 ↩
- Washington Post, August 1, 2012 ↩
- Iran Media Fact Check, “Does Israel Consider Iran an ‘Existential Threat’?” ↩
- The Guardian (London), January 31, 2012 ↩
- Political Correction, “American Enterprise Institute Admits The Problem With Iran Is Not That It Would Use Nukes” ↩
- Associated Press, February 26, 2013 ↩
- Washington Post, January 17, 2013 ↩
The Salvation Army has long been a holy-day season fixture in front of my local supermarket, providing some Christmas sounds and cheer as it raises money to serve the poor. But when I went grocery shopping a couple of days ago, a difference was apparent: there was an SA volunteer and collection pot on the premises, but no trademark bell-ringing. So I asked the man why — even though I already knew the answer.
You might have read the recent news stories concerning complaints about the SA bells. And, sure enough, the volunteer at my supermarket confirmed that these grinches’ griping was the reason they’d been silenced. So now another element of the Christmas season is no more, at least in my area.
Of course, some may say that any continual noise can be irritating. But this raises questions: why didn’t people seem to find the SA bells as annoying 25 years ago? Is it any coincidence that increasing irritation with them seems to hew closely with the growth of our society’s secularist-grinch constituency?
It goes without saying that some people must have found the bells annoying decades ago as well. Most everything irks someone and everyone is irked by something (with me, it’s the grating, purposeless noise emanating from liberals’ mouths). Yet we tend to often tolerate things that annoy us, realizing that dealing with such comes with the territory of living among other beings. And tolerance is the relevant factor here because, clearly, it is only growing intolerance that could explain complaints intense enough to instigate the change in question.
Before proceeding, I’ll point out that “tolerance” is almost universally misunderstood today. While we often conflate it with affection or sympathy, the word actually implies the abiding of a perceived negative. We wouldn’t tolerate a fine car, delectable meal, or a beautiful work of art; we relish those things. But we would have to tolerate bad weather, a cold, or a Nancy Pelosi speech. Could you imagine someone asking not about pain, but “How much pleasure can you tolerate?”?
This explains why liberals fancy themselves the epitome of tolerance when they’re anything but. They will point to their attitudes toward homosexual behavior, illegal entry into our country, and the exaltation of other cultures within our borders as prime examples of tolerance, but they’re nothing of the sort. Liberals actually like or at least don’t mind those things, which means that, by definition, they cannot be tolerant of them. Their affinity or indifference makes that impossible.
So how tolerant are liberals really? Well, just consider how they react to things they actually do perceive as negatives. How tolerant are they of conservative commentary, politically incorrect dissent on college campuses, or expressions of Christianity? Heck, anything that finds disfavor with a liberal sets off bells in his head.
Now, it’s also true that what influences whether we perceive something as a negative or, at least, how tolerant of it we’ll be, is the person or group with which it’s associated. For example, we may discover that a habit we found intolerable in a person we disliked we find quite tolerable, or even endearing, in someone we like (I must confess to having once been guilty of this myself). Then we may realize it wasn’t that the earlier individual was so intolerable; it’s that we were unjustly intolerant and let our negative feelings for a person color our judgment of everything he did.
Liberals exhibit this all the time. They may detest former Chilean leader Augusto Pinochet, pointing out that 3000 people disappeared under his rule, while seeming not to bat an eye at Joseph Stalin’s murder of tens of millions. They’ll condemn Sarah Palin for supposedly using crosshairs imagery, but then say nothing about Barack Obama’s statement, “If they [Republicans] bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.” And they’ll defend the broadcast of the Muslim call to prayer in Hamtramck,Michigan, while getting all bent out of shape over SA bells.
So it’s clear that the main problem some people have with the SA bells is not the ringing, but who is doing the ringing. The Salvation Army is a Christian organization with a mission statement that reads, in part:
“[The SA] is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.”
Christian, church, Bible, love of God, and Jesus Christ…. It’s no wonder liberals perceive the SA as a negative.
Of course, this is just one little front in the War on Christmas. But now yet another element of the Yuletide season has been purged, thanks to the actions of liberals and inaction of yesterday’s liberals (conservatives).
Ah, liberals, the very embodiment of negativity, negative about all the wrong things for more than 100 years.
The West’s attempts to destroy the Iranian economy through heightened sanctions—including most imports, oil exports and use of banks for trade operations—is having its affect. According to Johns Hopkins University Professor Steve Hanke, Iran is facing hyperinflation, with a monthly inflation rate of nearly 70% per month and its national currency, the rial, plummeting in value against western currencies. Iran is the latest casualty to be placed on his Hanke-Krus Hyperinflation Index, which includes France (1795), Germany (1922), Chile (1973), Nicaragua (1986), Argentina (1990), Russia (1992), Ecuador (1999) and Zimbabwe (2007), countries which experienced price-level increases of at least 50% per month.
Hanke, relishing his role as the world’s expert on this nightmarish phenomenon, has “played a significant role in stopping more hyperinflations than any living economist, including 10 of the 57 episodes” on his Index. He writes that Iran has three options: spontaneous dollarization (people unloading rials on the blackmarket for dollars, as happened in Zimbabwe), official dollarization (the government withdrawing the currency in favor of dollars, as in Ecuador), or a currency board issuing a new domestic currency backed 100% by—you guessed it—dollars. Hanke insists that the foreign currency doesn’t have to be US dollars. Pitcairn Island, for instance, uses New Zealand dollars.
The inflation doctor admits vaguely that there are “foreign factors”, without a hint of criticism of not only the sanctions, but the active subversion of Iran through everything from support of Iranian terrorists, assassinations of leading scientists, right up to war (the US encouraged Iraq to invade Iran in 1980). He emphasizes “Iran’s complex system of subsidies, capital controls, and multiple exchange rates”, but most of all “massive overprinting of money”, though he complains that “the Central Bank of The Islamic Republic of Iran has not reported any such statistics for some time”. As if a country living through a state of emergency is likely to divulge such sensitive information.
He coolly dismisses consumers’ expectations influencing prices, since “fear surrounding military tensions is nothing new for Iranians”. Indeed, the US has been targeting Iran for destruction ever since it threw off its colonial chains in 1979—a dangerous example for other, especially Muslim countries. It is miraculous that Iran has done so well economically since the revolution, given the unremitting victimization it has experienced. One can only marvel at the stubborn courage it has shown to build an Islamic society in the teeth of opposition by the world empire and even by other Muslim nations allied to the empire.
We indeed may ask why Iran’s inflation rate has jumped so dramatically precisely in recent times. Of course, it is because of the sanctions. And why the sanctions? Is it really fears that Iran will develop a nuclear bomb, despite professions to the contrary and membership in the IAEA? No. Besides Iran’s role in inspiring the current ‘Islamic Reawakening’ in the Middle East, there is another very important reason, one which flies in the face of Hanke’s ‘three options’ for Iran.
Those ‘options’ all amount to one: accept US-dollar dictatorship. Iran has been trying to trade oil in non-US dollar currencies since 2008, when it opened its Oil Bourse. Iraq did this in 2000, and the US reaction was invasion—dollarization at gunpoint. The point of the sanctions today is a last-ditch attempt by the US to force Iran to comply with the US world order, as epitomized by continued acceptance of the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency.
Hanke insists it is not necessary for Iran to use US dollars as its substitute currency, which in any case would be ridiculous under the circumstances. However, the alternative of using, say, New Zealand dollars finesses the reality that all currencies are tied to the US dollar, as the de facto international reserve currency. This has been the case in reality since the 1930s, when the world abandoned the gold standard. Acknolwedging this fact, over 20 countries call their legal tender ‘dollars’.
Whether the government moves quickly to raise the white flag, as in Ecuador, or belatedly, as in Zimbabwe, or insists on printing pretty new paper scrip tied 100% to the US dollar through an exchange board, as did Argentina, merely confirms the obvious. In past cases, such as Chile, Nicaragua and Zimbabwe, the message was: your socialist policies are unacceptable. In Iran’s case, the message is: take dollars for your oil.
Hanke’s monetarist credo—printing money causes inflation—ignores the underlying causes of inflation. As he admits, Iranians have faced war fears for over three decades. The exchange controls and subsidies, “government monopolies, price controls, and Soviet-style economic planning”, which Hanke calls “wrong-headed”, are not the cause of inflation, but a way for the government to keep it under control. However, at a certain point, the “foreign factors” become so egregious that even such measures fail. That is what has happened now, as sanctions have created extreme pain for the average Iranian. Bare shelves and panic in the face of invasion threats means that the currency will devalue, however many rials the government prints.
This is what happened in Germany in 1922, when it was forced to export everything to buy the gold to pay the extortionate reparations. It ended by resorting to Hanke’s currency board and marks issued against gold, but the underlying cause—the extortion practiced by Britain and France—only ended when Hitler took power and canceled the reparations. The devastation cause by “foreign factors” led in that instance to the rise of fascism.
University of Missouri Professor Michael Hudson maintains that “every hyperinflation in history stems from the foreign exchange markets. It stems from governments trying to throw enough of their currency on the market to pay their foreign debts.” Canadian commentator Stephen Gowans calls it “warfare by other means”. Devaluing the enemy’s currency was used as a war tactic by Napoleon against the Russians and by the British against the American colonists.
A consideration of all the countries on Hanke’s Hyperinflation Index can trace similar real causes and real ways to end the underlying problem that led to hyperinflation in each case. Ecuador finally took control of its economy and reduced its foreign debt in defiance of the IMF under President Rafael Correa, and is today the most popular political leader in all of the Americas. That is what created political stability and ended the ever-present threat of inflation there. The same goes for Argentina under President Nestor Kirschner and Russia under President Vladimir Putin.
Hanke is like the doctor telling the patient who was shot that he must have his leg amputated immediately. He refuses to condemn the sanctions as a violation of human rights, targeting the Iranian people without cause. He wants to cut off the patient’s leg to save him, which he can do in a matter of hours. The Iranian government is trying to remove the bullet and use a strict regime of rehabilitation, something that requires patience and grit. There is no magic cure to solve inflation under these circumstances.
The possibility looms that the US will undertake yet another criminal invasion of a Muslim country, recapitulating its war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. The real analogy for Iran is wartime. During war, all countries ration scarce goods, and people unite and accept sacrifice in the face of the enemy. This is the only solution for Iran today unless it agrees to join the US-dollar denominated empire as a junior member. Hanke’s patient could well die under the ‘anesthesia’ of US-Israeli bombs, but the Iranian people are proud and will fight for their dignity till their dying breath. The worries about hyperinflation will then pale in comparison to the real “foreign factors”, and the US will face the revenge of history for its criminal actions.
Most countries are too afraid of the US wolf to stand up to it. There are exceptions. China, Russia, India and South Korea have not abandoned ‘the patient’. Egypt is establishing diplomatic and economic relations with Iran in defiance of the US. Hopefully other ‘Arab Spring’ countries will join Iran in pursuing a policy of justice for the Middle East, working together to undo the horrendous legacy of US imperialism in the region. Someday, ‘dollarization’ will be a shibboleth, consigned to the ‘ash heap of history’.
Eric Walberg writes for Al-Ahram Weekly http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/ and is author of Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games. http://claritypress.com/Walberg.html . You can reach him at http://ericwalberg.com/
The Southeast Asian country of Laos in the late 1950s and early 60s was a complex and confusing patchwork of civil conflicts, changes of government and switching loyalties. The CIA and the State Department alone could take credit for engineering coups at least once in each of the years 1958, 1959 and 1960. No study of Laos of this period appears to have had notable success in untangling the muddle of who exactly replaced whom, and when, and how, and why. After returning from Laos in 1961, American writer Norman Cousins stated that “if you want to get a sense of the universe unraveling, come to Laos. Complexity such as this has to be respected.” 1
Syria 2012 has produced its own tangled complexity. In the past 18 months it appears that at one time or another virtually every nation in the Middle East and North Africa as well as members of NATO and the European Union has been reported as aiding those seeking to overthrow the regime of Bashar al-Assad, while Russia, China, and several other countries are reported as aiding Assad. The Syrian leader, for his part, has consistently referred to those in combat against him as “terrorists”, citing the repeated use of car bombs and suicide bombers. The West has treated this accusation with scorn, or has simply ignored it. But the evidence that Assad has had good reason for his stance has been accumulating for some time now, particularly of late. Here is a small sample from recent months:
- “It is the sort of image that has become a staple of the Syrian revolution, a video of masked men calling themselves the Free Syrian Army and brandishing AK-47s — with one unsettling difference. In the background hang two flags of Al Qaeda, white Arabic writing on a black field … The video, posted on YouTube, is one more bit of evidence that Al Qaeda and other Islamic extremists are doing their best to hijack the Syrian revolution.” (New York Times, July 24, 2012)
- A leading German newspaper reported that the German intelligence service, BND, had concluded that 95% of the Syrian rebels come from abroad and are likely to be members of al Qaeda. (Die Welt, September 30, 2012)
- “A network of French Islamists behind a grenade attack on a kosher market outside Paris last month also planned to join jihadists fighting in Syria … Two suspects were responsible for recruiting and dispatching people ‘to carry out jihad in some countries – notably Syria’,” a state prosecutor said. (Associated Press, October 11, 2012)
- “Fighters from a shadowy militant group [Jabhat al-Nusra] with suspected links to al-Qaida joined Syrian rebels in seizing a government missile defense base in northern Syria on Friday, according to activists and amateur video. …The videos show dozens of fighters inside the base near a radar tower, along with rows of large missiles, some on the backs of trucks.” (Associated Press, October 12, 2012)
- “In a videotape posted this week on militant forums, the Egyptian-born jihadist Ayman al-Zawahiri … urged support for Syria’s uprisings.” (Associated Press, October 28, 2012)
According to your favorite news source or commentator, President Assad is either a brutal murderer of his own people, amongst whom he has had very little support; or he’s a hero who’s long had the backing of the majority of the Syrian population and who is standing up to Western imperialists and their terrorist comrades-in-arms, whom the US is providing military aid, intelligence, and propaganda services.
Washington and its freedom fighters de jour would like to establish Libya II. And we all know how well Libya I has turned out.
Of backward nations and modern nations
Page one of the October 24 Washington Post contained a prominent photo of a man chained to a concrete wall at a shrine in Afghanistan. The accompanying story told us that the man was mentally ill and that “legend has it that those with mental disorders will be healed after spending 40 days in one of the shrine’s 16 tiny concrete cells”, living “on a subsistence diet of bread, water and black pepper.” Every year hundreds of Afghans bring mentally ill relatives to the shrine for this “cure”.
Immediately to the right of this story, constituting the paper’s lead story of the day, we learn that the United States is planning to continue its policy of assassinating individuals, via drone attacks, for the foreseeable future. This is Washington’s “cure” for the mental illness of not believing that America is the savior of mankind, bringing democracy, freedom and happiness to all. (The article adds that the number of “militants and civilians” killed in the drone campaign over the past 10 years will soon exceed 3,000 by some estimates, surpassing the number of people killed on September 11.)
Undoubtedly there are many people in Afghanistan, high and low, who know that their ancient cure is nonsense, but the chainings have continued for centuries. Just as certain, there are American officials who know the same about their own cure. Here’s a senior American official: “We can’t possibly kill everyone who wants to harm us. … We’re not going to wind up in 10 years in a world of everybody holding hands and saying, ‘We love America’.” Yet , we are told, “Among senior Obama administration officials, there is a broad consensus that such operations are likely to be extended at least another decade. Given the way al-Qaeda continues to metastasize, some officials said no clear end is in sight.”
We can also be confident that there have been people chained to the wall in Afghanistan who were not particularly mentally ill to begin with but became so because of the cure. And just as certain, there have been numerous people in several countries who were not anti-American until a drone devastated their village, family or neighbors.
The Post article also reported that Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, returned from Pakistan a while ago and recounted a heated confrontation with his counterpart, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. “Mullen told White House and counterterrorism officials that the Pakistani military chief had demanded an answer to a seemingly reasonable question: After hundreds of drone strikes, how could the United States possibly still be working its way through a ‘top 20′ list?”
American officials defended the arrangement even while acknowledging an erosion in the caliber of operatives placed in the drones’ cross hairs. “Is the person currently Number 4 as good as the Number 4 seven years ago? Probably not,” said a former senior U.S. counterterrorism official. “But it doesn’t mean he’s not dangerous.” The Post added this comment: “Internal doubts about the effectiveness of the drone campaign are almost nonexistent.”
The next day we could read in the Post: “There is ample evidence in Pakistan that the more than 300 [drone] strikes launched under Obama have helped turn the vast majority of the population vehemently against the United States.”
Wake up and smell the bullshit. Then go vote.
After the second presidential debate in early October, Luke Rudkowski of the media group We Are Change asked Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, about President Obama’s widely reported “kill list” of Americans and foreigners who can be assassinated without charge or trial.
Luke Rudkowski: “If President Romney becomes president, he’s going to inherit President Barack Obama’s secret ‘kill list’? This is going to be debated. How do you think Romney will handle this ‘kill list,’ and are you comfortable with him having a ‘kill list’?”
Debbie Wasserman Schultz: “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Luke Rudkowski: “Obama has a secret ‘kill list’ which he has used to assassinate different people all over the world.”
Debbie Wasserman Schultz: “I’m happy to answer any serious questions you have.”
Luke Rudkowski: “Why is that not serious?”
Debbie Wasserman Schultz: “Because I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
Luke Rudkowski: “Of course you don’t.”
The existence of the U.S. ‘kill list’ has been publicly known for nearly two years and was the subject of a 6,000-word exposé in the New York Times in May.
At the same event, Sierra Adamson of We Are Change asked former White House Press Secretary and current Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs about the U.S. killing of Abdulrahman Awlaki, the teenage son of Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen.
Sierra Adamson: “Do you think that the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, who was an American citizen, is justifiable?”
Robert Gibbs: “I’m not going to get into Anwar al-Awlaki’s son. I know that Anwar al-Awlaki renounced his citizenship.”
Sierra Adamson: “His son was still an American citizen.”
Robert Gibbs: “Did great harm to people in this country and was a regional al-Qaeda commander hoping to inflict harm and destruction on people that share his religion and others in this country. And…”
Sierra Adamson: “That’s an American citizen that’s being targeted without due process of law, without trial. And he’s underage. He’s a minor.”
Robert Gibbs: “I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father. If they’re truly concerned about the well-being of their children, I don’t think becoming an al-Qaeda jihadist terrorist is the best way to go about doing your business.” 2
To demonstrate that the bullshit is bipartisan, we now present Mr. Mitt Romney, speaking during the presidential foreign policy debate: “Syria is Iran’s only ally in the Arab world. It’s their route to the sea. It’s the route for them to arm Hezbollah in Lebanon, which threatens, of course, our ally, Israel.”
However, a look at a map reveals firstly that Iran does not share a border with Syria; there’s something called Iraq in between; and secondly that Iran already has access to the sea on both its north and south; actually about 1100 miles of coastline. Romney has made this particular blunder repeatedly, and the Washington Post has pointed it out on several occasions. Post columnist Al Kamen recently wrote: “We tried so hard back in February to get Romney to stop saying that.” 3
Of course, neither Obama nor the debate moderator pointed out Romney’s errors.
The sanctity of life
“I’m as pro-life as a person gets,” Congressman Paul Ryan, the Republican candidate for vice-president, told the conservative Weekly Standard in 2010. 4
How nice. Yet the man supports all of America’s wars, each of which takes the lives of large numbers of people, both American and foreign; and he’s opposed to national health insurance, which would save countless more lives. The good congressman is also an avid hunter and supporter of gun-owners’ rights, so he apparently is not too pro-life concerning other creatures of God’s Kingdom. Of course, what Ryan actually means by “life” is an embryo or fetus, perhaps even a zygote. Oh wait, that’s not all of it – corporations are also people whose lives Ryan cherishes.
The fate of those who do not love the empire
On October 7 Hugo Chávez won his fourth term in office as president of Venezuela. The feeling of frustration that must have descended upon the Venezuelan and American power elite is likely reminiscent of Chile, March 1973, when the party of another socialist and American bête noire, Salvador Allende — despite the best intentions and dollars without end of the CIA — won about 44 percent of the vote in congressional elections, compared to some 36 percent in 1970. It was said to be the largest increase an incumbent party had ever received in Chile after being in power more than two years. The opposition parties had publicly expressed their optimism about capturing two-thirds of the congressional seats and thus being able to impeach Allende. Now they faced three more years under him, with the prospect of being unable, despite their most underhanded efforts, to prevent his popularity from increasing even further.
During the spring and summer the Agency’s destabilization process escalated. There was a whole series of demonstrations and strikes, with a particularly long one by the truckers. Time magazine reported: “While most of the country survived on short rations, the truckers seemed unusually well equipped for a lengthy holdout.” A reporter asked a group of truckers who were camping and dining on “a lavish communal meal of steak, vegetables, wine and empanadas” where the money for it came from. “From the CIA,” they answered laughingly. 5
There was as well daily sabotage and violence, including assassination. In June, an abortive attack upon the Presidential Palace was carried out by the military and the ultra-right Patria y Libertad.
In September the military prevailed. “It is clear,” said the later US Senate investigating committee, “the CIA received intelligence reports on the coup planning of the group which carried out the successful September 11 coup throughout the months of July, August, and September 1973.” 6 The United States had also prepared the way for the military action through its economic intervention and support of the anti-Allende media.
Chávez has already been overthrown once in a coup that the United States choreographed, in 2002, but a combination of some loyal military officers and Chávez’s followers in the streets combined for a remarkable reversal of the coup after but two days. The Venezuelan opposition will not again make the mistake of not finishing Chávez off when they have him in their custody.
Both Hugo Chávez and Salvador Allende had sinned by creating “nationalistic” regimes that served the wrong “national interest”. The hatred felt by the power elite for such men is intense. The day after the legally and democratically elected Venezuelan leader was ousted, but before being restored to power, the New York Times(April 13, 2002) was moved to pen the following editorial:
“With yesterday’s resignation [what the coup leaders called it] of President Hugo Chávez, Venezuelan democracy is no longer threatened by a would-be dictator. Mr. Chávez, a ruinous demagogue, stepped down after the military intervened and handed power to a respected business leader.”
It should be noted that the “respected business leader”, Pedro Carmona, quickly dissolved the National Assembly and the Supreme Court, and annulled the Venezuelan constitution.
And keep in mind that in the United States the New York Times is widely regarded as a “liberal” newspaper; most conservatives would say “very liberal”, if not “socialist”.
- William Blum, Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, chapter 21 ↩
- Democracy Now, October 25, 2012 ↩
- Washington Post, October 24, 2012, column by Al Kamen ↩
- New York Times, August 12, 2012 ↩
- Time, September 24, 1973, p.46 ↩
- Covert Action in Chile, 1963‑1973, a Staff Report of The Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities (US Senate) December 18, 1975, p.39 ↩
It looks like war is is coming upon us once again. Aside from the recent eruptions in the Far East and Middle East, I say this because of three basic observations:
The financial problems of the major governments are not going away; rather, they are getting worse. That leaves the operators of these systems with a choice: They can either find a foreign devil to blame, or they can take the blame themselves.
The people of the modern world have no real purpose in their lives. They live according to scripts promulgated by others and get all their thrills vicariously. War will fill a huge gap in their lives by giving them a ‘noble’ cause.
Big media in the West is the obedient hand-maiden of the state. This has been true for a long time (look up Operation Mockingbird), but never so much as now. Real news is available on the Internet, but the large mass of people still get their news from controlled sources.
These last two points suggest that the rulers can go to war with majority support, provided that the events are scripted well. And since big media is under their control, they can create and insert whatever narratives they like.
And perhaps I should add a fourth point: Lots of people make big money on war… people who are in the habit of employing politicians to secure and increase their profits.
It certainly looks like motive, means and opportunity are all coming together.
To cement the point that it is easy for rulers to stir up War Fever, let me give you a few quotes from people who have famously done so in the past:
The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.
~ Hermann Göring
If there were no Jews, we would have to invent them.
~ Hermann Göring
The cult of xenophobia is the cheapest and surest method of obtaining from the masses the ignorant and savage patriotism, which puts the blame for every political folly or social misfortune upon the foreigner.
~ Mao Zedong
People always have been the foolish victims of deception and self-deception in politics, and they always will be.
~ Vladimir Lenin
WHEN IT COMES
When war hits big, we will be confronted with the same old stupidity, the same old death, dismemberment, pain and suffering, and the same old mind-bending nationalistic crap. Bloodlust and hate will storm into vogue, under the flag of righteous indignation. All that is required are a few horrible video streams and some emotional words. The talking heads will fall in line with the state’s propaganda, as they always do.
These things are exciting, after all, and that matters in a world where almost everyone lives mundane lives.
The people who do the loudest cheering, of course, will be insulated from actual bleeding and dying.
All that said, there will be legitimate fear mixed-in with all of the above. Large numbers of people die in wars; people just like us. That is authentically scary. And if nukes, or bio-weapons, or other technologies of mass-killing are used, things will get VERY scary, and reasonably so.
(This is, of course, why we should never give politicians the ability to start wars. But, that is another subject, for another day.)
The perversions of war affect everyone in a culture, to whatever extent they are in that culture. Willful blindness, chanted slogans, the glorification of generals and the lauding of soldiers (who are among the worst victims)… all are common in the time of war. Reason is quickly pushed away and the basest “us versus them” mentality rules.
The sterile existence of the ‘good citizen’ falls immediately away once the excitement of war appears. Here, to illustrate, is a passage from War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, by Chris Hedges:
The invasion transformed the country. Reality was replaced with a wild and self-serving fiction… All that was noble and good was embodied, like some unique gene, in the Argentine people. Stories of the heroism of the Argentine military – whose singular recent accomplishment was the savage repression of its own people – filled the airwaves.
Friends of mine, who a few days earlier had excoriated the dictatorship, now bragged about the prowess of Argentine commanders. One general, during a dispute with Chile, flew his helicopter over the Chilean border to piss on Chilean soil. This story was repeated with evident pride. Cars raced through the city streets honking horns and waving the blue and white Argentine flag. Argentines burst into the national anthem and ecstatic cheering at sporting events.
There is a very powerful psychological trick behind these things – a trick that makes people feel potent and righteous:
By making the enemy purely evil, we make ourselves purely good.
Reason, of course, would kill the trick. That’s why reason dies so famously at such times. The bottom line is this:
Because there is no moral clarity in normal life, people run to it when it becomes available during times of war.
This is what we can expect, if and when war really cranks up. And it will not be pretty.
WHAT SHALL WE DO?
The forces behind war are huge, and they have a long pedigree. You are not going to stop them. But if you want to help yourself and others, try some of these things:
Opt out of the main culture and start building your own, new culture. Turn off the TV and start talking about other things. Let people think you’re weird.
Start doing business differently. Separate from the rigged system. We already have the tools we need; we need only to start using them.
Be different. Let people see that you are different. Our way is a better way. Stop hiding and start living.
Spend your time with others who are also different.
Stay away from politics in all its forms.
Be polite, but don’t try to convert people who are in the grip of War Fever. Let those whose eyes crack open come to you.
Stay ready to adapt in any way necessary. I don’t really expect the big weapons to come out, but if they appear, do not delay – act and keep acting to survive. Do whatever it takes, promptly.
Remember that wars can spread wildly. You may have to use violence at some point, if you wish to survive. Start getting used to the idea. Yeah, it’s ugly as hell, but it’s also among the clearest lessons of history.
War appears to be coming. Do something about it now.
Paul Rosenberg [email@example.com] is the author of Free-Man’s Perspective, a monthly dispatch on virtue, courage, science, art, history, philosophy and personal growth.
“We pledge allegiance to the republic for which America stands and not to its empire for which it is now suffering.” 1
Louis XVI needed a revolution, Napoleon needed two historic military defeats, the Spanish Empire in the New World needed multiple revolutions, the Russian Czar needed a communist revolution, the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires needed World War I, the Third Reich needed World War II, the Land of the Rising Sun needed two atomic bombs, the Portuguese Empire in Africa needed a military coup at home. What will the American Empire need?
Perhaps losing the long-held admiration and support of one group of people after another, one country after another, as the empire’s wars, bombings, occupations, torture, and lies eat away at the facade of a beloved and legendary “America”; an empire unlike any other in history, that has intervened seriously and grievously, in war and in peace, in most countries on the planet, as it preached to the world that the American Way of Life was a shining example for all humanity and that America above all was needed to lead the world.
The Wikileaks documents and videos have provided one humiliation after another … lies exposed, political manipulations revealed, gross hypocrisies, murders in cold blood, … followed by the torture of Bradley Manning and the persecution of Julian Assange. Washington calls the revelations “threats to national security”, but the world can well see it’s simply plain old embarrassment. Manning’s defense attorneys have asked the military court on several occasions to specify the exact harm done to national security. The court has never given an answer. If hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, consider an empire embarrassed.
And we now have the international soap opera, L’Affaire Assange, starring Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, Ecuador, and Julian Assange. The United States’ neo-colonies of Sweden (an active warring member of NATO in all but name) and the United Kingdom (with its “special relationship” to the United States) know what is expected of them to earn a pat on the head from their Washington uncle. We can infer that Sweden has no legitimate reason to demand the extradition of Julian Assange from London from the fact that it has repeatedly refused offers to question Assange in the UK and repeatedly refused to explain why it has refused to do so.
The Brits, under “immense pressure from the Obama administration”, as reported to former British ambassador Craig Murray by the UK Foreign Office,2 threatened, in a letter to the Ecuadoran government, to raid the Ecuadoran embassy in London to snatch Assange — “[You] should be aware that there is a legal basis in the United Kingdom, the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act of 1987, which would allow us to take action to arrest Mr. Assange in the existing facilities of the embassy”. Over the August 18 weekend the London police actually made their way into the building’s internal fire escape, coming within a few feet of Assange’s room, as he could hear. The law cited by the Brits is, of course, their own law, one not necessarily with any international standing.
The UK has now formally withdrawn its threat against the embassy, probably the result of much international indignation toward Her Majesty’s Government. The worldwide asylum system would fall apart if the nation granting the asylum were punished for it. In this violent world of terrorists, imperialists, and other dreadfuls it’s comforting to know that an old fashioned value like political asylum can still be honored.
A look back at some US and UK behavior in regard to embassies and political asylum is both interesting and revealing:
In 1954, when the United States overthrew the democratically-elected social democrat Jacobo Arbenz in Guatemala and replaced him with a military government headed by Col. Carlos Castillo Armas, many Guatemalans took refuge in foreign embassies. US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles insisted that the new Guatemalan government raid those embassies and arrest those individuals, whom he referred to as “communists”. But Castillo Armas refused to accede to Dulles’ wishes on this issue. Stephen Schlesinger and Stephen Kinzer, in their comprehensive history of the coup,3 state:
“In the end, Castillo Armas disregarded Dulles’ suggestions. He himself was a product of the widespread belief in Latin America that embassy asylum and safe-conduct passes were a fair resolution to political conflicts. Virtually every politically active Guatemalan, including Castillo Armas, had sought political asylum in an embassy at one time or another and had obtained safe conduct from the government. Dulles’ suggestion for a ‘modification’ of the asylum doctrine was not even popular within the American Embassy.”
It should be noted that one of those who sought asylum in the Argentine Embassy in Guatemala was a 25-year-old Argentine doctor named Ernesto “Che” Guevara.
Baltasar Garzon, the Spanish judge who is one of Assange’s lawyers, came to international attention in 1998 when he indicted former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet while he was in England. But the British declined to send Pinochet to Spain to face the indictment, in effect giving him political asylum, and allowed this proverbial mass murderer and torturer to walk free and eventually return to Chile. Julian Assange, not charged or found guilty of anything, is a de facto prisoner of the UK; while the New York Times and the BBC and the numerous other media giants, who did just what Assange did by publishing Wikileaks articles and broadcasting Wikileaks videos, walk free.
This past April, Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng escaped house arrest in China and took refuge at the American Embassy in Beijing, sparking diplomatic tension between the two countries. But the “authoritarian” Chinese government did not threaten to enter the American Embassy to arrest Chen and soon allowed him to accept an American offer of safe passage to US soil. How will Julian Assange ever obtain safe passage to Ecuador?
In August 1989, while the Cold War still prevailed many East Germans crossed into fellow-Soviet-bloc state Czechoslovakia and were granted political asylum in the West German embassy. How would the United States — which has not said a word against the British threat to invade the Ecuadoran embassy — have reacted if the East Germans or the Czechs had raided the West German embassy or blocked the East Germans from leaving it? As matters turned out, West Germany took the refugee-seekers to West Germany by train without being impeded by the Soviet bloc. A few months later, the weaker “Evil Empire” collapsed, leaving the entire playing field, known as the world, to the stronger “Evil Empire”, which has been on belligerence autopilot ever since.
In 1986, after the French government refused the use of its air space to US warplanes headed for a bombing raid on Libya, the planes were forced to take another, longer route. When they reached Libya they bombed so close to the French embassy that the building was damaged and all communication links were disabled.4
In 1999, NATO (aka the USA), purposely (sic) bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.5
After Assange took refuge in the Ecuadoran embassy and was granted asylum by the South American country, the US State Department declared: “The United States is not a party to the 1954 OAS [Organization of American States] Convention on Diplomatic Asylum and does not recognize the concept of diplomatic asylum as a matter of international law.”6
Ecuador called for a meeting at the OAS of the foreign ministers of member countries to discuss the whole situation. The United States opposed the request. For Washington the issue was simple: The UK obeys international law and extradites Assange to Sweden. (And then, chuckle-chuckle, Sweden sends the bastard to us.) End of discussion. Washington did not want the issue blown up and prolonged any further. But of the 26 nations voting at the OAS only three voted against the meeting: The US, Canada, and Trinidad & Tobago; perhaps another example of what was mentioned above about a dying empire losing the long-held admiration and support of one country after another.
The price Ecuador may pay for its courage … Washington Post editorial, June 20, 2012:
“There is one potential check on [Ecuadoran president Rafael] Correa’s ambitions. The U.S. ‘empire’ he professes to despise happens to grant Ecuador (which uses the dollar as its currency) special trade preferences that allow it to export many goods duty-free. A full third of Ecuadoran foreign sales ($10 billion in 2011) go to the United States, supporting some 400,000 jobs in a country of 14 million people. Those preferences come up for renewal by Congress early next year. If Mr. Correa seeks to appoint himself America’s chief Latin American enemy and Julian Assange’s protector between now and then, it’s not hard to imagine the outcome.”
On several occasions President Obama, when pressed to investigate Bush and Cheney for war crimes, has declared: “I prefer to look forward rather than backwards”. Picture a defendant before a judge asking to be found innocent on such grounds. It simply makes laws, law enforcement, crime, justice, and facts irrelevant. Picture Julian Assange before a military court in Virginia using this argument. Picture the reaction to this by Barack Obama, who has become the leading persecutor of whistleblowers in American history.
Since L’Affaire Assange captured world headlines the United States, as well as the United Kingdom, have on several occasions made statements about the deep-seated international obligation of nations to honor extradition requests from other nations. The United States, however, has a history of ignoring such requests, whether made formally or informally, for persons living in the US who are ideological allies. Here’s a partial sample from recent years:
- Former Venezuelan president Carlos Andres Perez, whom the Venezuelan government demanded be turned over to stand trial for his role in suppressing riots in 1989. He died in 2010 in Miami. (Associated Press, December 27, 2010)
- Former Bolivian President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada fled to the United States in 2003 to avoid a trial for the death of about 60 people in La Paz during a military crackdown on demonstrators. In 2008, Bolivia formally served the US government with a request to extradite him back to Bolivia, which was not acceded to. (Associated Press, February 13, 2006; also see his Wikipedia entry)
- In 2010, a US federal judge denied Argentina’s extradition request for former military officer Roberto Bravo, who was facing 16 murder charges stemming from a 1972 massacre of leftist guerrillas in his homeland. (Associated Press, November 2, 2010)
- Luis Posada, a Cuban-born citizen of Venezuela, masterminded the bombing of a Cuban airline in 1976, killing 73 civilians. Inasmuch as part of the plotting took place in Venezuela, that government formally asked the United States for his extradition in 2005. But instead of extraditing him, the United States prosecuted him for minor immigration infractions that came to naught. Posada continues to live as a free man in the United States.
- In 2007 German prosecutors issued arrest warrants for 13 suspected CIA operatives who had abducted German citizen Khaled el-Masri in 2003 and flown him to Afghanistan for interrogation (read torture). The CIA then realized they had kidnapped the wrong man and dumped el-Masri on the side of an Albanian road. Subsequently, the German Justice Minster announced that she would no longer request extradition, citing US refusal to arrest or hand over the agents. (The Guardian (London), January 7, 2011)
- In November 2009 an Italian judge convicted a CIA Station Chief and 22 other Americans, all but one being CIA operatives, for kidnapping a Muslim cleric, Abu Omar, from the streets of Milan in 2003 and flying him to Egypt for the usual interrogation. All those convicted had left Italy by the time of the judge’s ruling and were thus tried in absentia. In Italy they are considered fugitives. Although there were verdicts, arrest warrants and extradition requests in the case, the Italian government refused to formally forward the requests to their close allies, the Americans; which, in any event, would of course have been futile. (Der Spiegel [Germany] online, December 17, 2010, based on a Wikileaks US cable)
The hidden, obvious, peculiar, fatal, omnipresent bias of American mainstream media concerning US foreign policy
There are more than 1,400 daily newspapers in the United States. Can you name a single paper, or a single TV network, that was unequivocally opposed to the American wars carried out against Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Panama, Grenada, and Vietnam? Or even opposed to any two of these wars? How about one? (I’ve been asking this question for years and so far I’ve gotten only one answer — Someone told me that the Seattle Post-Intelligencer had unequivocally opposed the invasion of Iraq. Can anyone verify that or name another case?)
In 1968, six years into the Vietnam war, the Boston Globe surveyed the editorial positions of 39 leading US papers concerning the war and found that “none advocated a pull-out”.7
Now, can you name an American daily newspaper or TV network that more or less gives any support to any US government ODE (Officially Designated Enemy)? Like Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, Fidel or Raul Castro of Cuba, Bashar al-Assad of Syria, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, Rafael Correa of Ecuador (even before the current Assange matter), or Evo Morales of Bolivia? I mean that presents the ODE’s point of view in a reasonably fair manner most of the time? Or any ODE of the recent past like Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia, Moammar Gaddafi of Libya, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, or Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti?
Who in the mainstream media supports Hamas of Gaza? Or Hezbollah of Lebanon?
Who in the mainstream media is outspokenly critical of Israel’s domestic or foreign policies? And keeps his/her job?
Who in the mainstream media treats Julian Assange or Bradley Manning as the heros they are?
And this same mainstream media tell us that Cuba, Venezuela, Ecuador, et al. do not have a real opposition media.
The ideology of the American mainstream media is the belief that they don’t have any ideology; they are instead what they call “objective”.
It’s been said that the political spectrum concerning US foreign policy in the America mainstream media “runs the gamut from A to B.”
Long before the Soviet Union broke up, a group of Russian writers touring the United States were astonished to find, after reading the newspapers and watching television, that almost all the opinions on all the vital issues were the same. “In our country,” said one of them, “to get that result we have a dictatorship. We imprison people. We tear out their fingernails. Here you have none of that. How do you do it? What’s the secret?”8
On October 8, 2001, the second day of the US bombing of Afghanistan, the transmitters for the Taliban government’s Radio Shari were bombed and shortly after this the US bombed some 20 regional radio sites. US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the targeting of these facilities, saying: “Naturally, they cannot be considered to be free media outlets. They are mouthpieces of the Taliban and those harboring terrorists.”9
- Sam Smith, editor of the Progressive Review ↩
- Craig Murray, “America’s Vassal Acts Decisively and Illegally: Former UK Ambassador“, Information Clearing House, August 16, 2012 ↩
- Bitter Fruit: The Untold Story of the American Coup in Guatemala (1982), pp.222-3 ↩
- Associated Press, “France Confirms It Denied U.S. Jets Air Space, Says Embassy Damaged”,
April 15, 1986 ↩
- William Blum, Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, pp.308-9 ↩
- Josh Rogin, “State Department: The U.S. does not recognize the concept of ‘diplomatic asylum'”, Foreign Policy, August 17, 2012 ↩
- Boston Globe, February 18, 1968, p.2-A ↩
- John Pilger, New Statesman (London), February 19, 2001 ↩
- Index on Censorship (London), October 18, 2001 ↩
From protests in Chile to a “coup” in Paraguay, the worrying signs come across Latin America that it may have an Arab Spring of its own, but in fact those are the signs of a new form of war waged against the region.
A specter haunts Latin America
Latin America is undergoing increasingly violent turmoil on many fronts. This often makes it difficult to distinguish between spontaneous, bona fide social protest and covert foreign intervention, just as we see today throughout the Arab world.
In spite of Latin America’s decades of experience with foreign-orchestrated military coups, in today’s world the local military are no longer an option. They were necessary proxies acting as local cops for the US during the Cold War, until they became a redundant embarrassment.
So just as the ’60s and ’70s saw a domino effect of “anti-communist military coups” – graciously applauded by the US and UK – the ’80s and ’90s saw a comeback of “democracy”, riding on the wave of “human rights”. In short: military boots were “out”; corrupt controllable “democratic” politicians were “in”.
Nominally “democratic” governments mean local power no longer managed by guns and bayonets but by tons of money. As the Global Power Masters execute a highly complex planet-wide strategic reset, Latin America is ripe for another turn of the screw: a new bout of “Spring” treatment.
It would, however, be a mistake to think this will be a copy of the Arab Spring, because a key factor behind today’s global Machtpolitik lies in understanding prevailing local conditions, which in Latin America are very different from those of the Arab world.
What makes each country tick?
Last year’s lighting of the Arab Spring fuse depended very much on understanding that fact huge sectors of the local populations – particularly the young – were fed up with authoritarian, long-entrenched regimes: whether Mubarak’s 31 years in Egypt, Gaddafi’s 42 years in Libya or the al-Assads’ 40 years in Syria.
But there’s no way this can be done in Latin America, because all governments here are nominally “democratic”, with corrupt politicians taking turns in mismanaging their countries.
On the religious front, Islam demands active militancy from its followers to defend the Faith, so an important dividing line for the Arab Spring is the centuries-old conflict between Shiites and Sunnis, plus the modern struggle between clerical and secular regimes.
Such highly complex issues have thwarted the Muslim world’s ability to unite under one solid and strong leadership, so fundamental to neutralize decades – centuries! – of Western interference and intervention in that region. Divide and conquer has always been imperialism’s leitmotiv.
By playing one side against the other; by appealing to the naïve young yearning for change whose paradigms are (de)formed by Western pop “culture”, last year’s triggering of social and generational conflict was really a “piece of cake”: from Tunisia to Egypt; from Libya to Syria; from Sudan to Iran.
At most, the tricky part was keeping FOW’s (Friends of the West) like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain isolated from this process. The West’s ability to slosh trillions of Petro-Dollars, plus the Western Media’s extreme discretion towards “friendly countries”, the ominous presence of the US Fifth Fleet and a little help from our (Israeli) friends seems to have done the trick. So far, anyway…
Latin America is not at all like this. Not a chance of violently pitting Catholics against Protestants…and since all countries are formally “democratic”, people won’t readily take to the streets to get rid of any authoritarian regimes because, officially, there are none. Maybe a Monsanto-coup in Paraguay or an electoral money-for-your-vote hiccup in Mexico, but the US is too busy looking at Chavez in Venezuela to bother.
Where, then, is the war front in Latin America?
War in ‘Spring’ time
When we talk of war, we normally think in terms of World War II-like invading armies. But war has become far more covert and far less overt. Today, more subtle forms are used like engineering financial or social coups or – as Libya and now Syria learned – engineering civil war.
In traditional war, the focus is on military hardware, strategy and territorial logistics. ‘Spring’ wars, however, are remote-planned, and then deployed inside the target country. First you identify dividing lines in local society: what are people’s grievances, which religious fervors and ethnic hatreds are ripe for stirring.
Then comes PsyWar channeling through NGO’s, local militants and lobbies, opposition politicians, paid journalists and, of course, yours truly “The Embassy”. Throughout Latin America, “la Embajada” is an ominous phrase pointing to US, UK and Israeli embassy meddling.
And if they can’t get their desired “Regime Change”, there’s always “Plan B”: escalate to blatant financing, training and arming of local subversives, terrorists and gangs as in Libya and Syria.
Latin America’s war front
The real war in Latin America, where deadly shots are fired and people get killed and maimed, lies in the increasingly huge gap pitting the rich (small numbers, huge power) against the poor (huge numbers, small power).
Latin America’s war is fought in the “villa miseria” slums of Buenos Aires, Bogotá and México; in the “favelas” of Rio de Janeiro; in the shanty towns of Caracas, Guayaquil and every single city in our region.
The poor are becoming increasingly aware of just how poor they are. In today’s global consumer society the rich slap them on the face through TV, the internet and “entertainment” media. The corporate overworld constantly reminds them of just how wonderful life can be if you’re rich and buy their cars, laptops, cell phones, houses, holiday packages. Too poor to enjoy that? Alas, too bad!
Mass social frustration lies at the root of Latin American war. It branches out into street crime, prostitution, drugs, alcohol, gang warfare, pornography. It physically, intellectually and spiritually annihilates untold millions of people in the streets of Mexico, Brazil, Colombia or Argentina.
In contrast to the Muslim world, where religious fervor keeps the rich-versus-poor divide in check, Latin American Catholic and Protestant churches have lost their social appeal and strength. The spiritual vacuum they left has been filled with greedy striving for material wealth.
Not that this is anything new. The big difference now is the unprecedented technological capability available to trigger and control social wars; escalating them to outright insurrection and civil war when it suits the global power masters’ objectives.
But that works both ways, because that same technology is making people more and more politically aware and active. As Trilateral Commission ideologue and former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski recently lamented, “people’s growing political awareness” is a threat… to the global elites.
The whole world is being pushed into war mode, where every victory or defeat in one region has far-reaching consequences for the rest of the world. We The People suffered defeat in Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan. In Syria, Iran and Venezuela, We The People fight ongoing battles.
Given the colossal economic crisis affecting the US, Europe, UK – even Israel – if a “Latin Spring” is unleashed on the Rich-versus-the-Poor Front, then Latin America’s ability to fight back intelligently and effectively could have dramatic and positive global consequences.
Adrian Salbuchi is a political analyst, author, speaker and radio/TV commentator in Argentina.www.asalbuchi.com.ar
Source: Adrian Salbuchi | RT
The EU’s unilateral sanctions come after the United States targeted Iran with a set of sanctions against the country’s Central Bank and a number of individuals and companies and threatened to penalize the foreign firms and banks which have financial transactions with Iranian counterparts.
The sanctions are not unprecedented and unexpected for the Iranians, as the United States began to cut off its economic deals with Iran since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 which toppled the Washington-backed Shah; however, what is new and surprising is that the United States and its European allies are extraordinarily intensifying the sanctions, tightening the noose around the ordinary Iranians who are unquestionably the innocent and silent victims of the West’s vitriolic animosity with Iran.
Perhaps what the majority of people in different countries think about Iran’s nuclear program which is the main cause of the West’s hostility with Iran is inspired by the mainstream media’s coverage of the developments in the country. After the painful 9/11 attacks which was followed by George W. Bush’s initiation of the War on Terror plan, the corporate media began to disseminate and foster anti-Iranian sentiments as part of their agenda for demonizing the Muslims and Muslim-majority countries. Iran was dubbed as one of the elements of the so-called Axis of Evil by President Bush during his 2002 State of the Union address and a venomous media campaign against Iran was set in motion afterwards.
Aggrandizing the shortcomings and internal problems, frequently accusing the country of violating human rights, propagating the idea that Iran has become an isolated and reclusive country and portraying a distorted and falsified image of Iranian people and their lifestyle constituted the core of Western mainstream media’s coverage of Iran over the past years. Such a biased coverage laid the groundwork for the United States and its allies to put an excessive pressure on Iran, work to further isolate the country, adopt crippling sanctions against her and even drum-beat for a possible military invasion with the final objective of a regime change in Tehran.
President Bush and his successor who came to power with the flaunting and pompous slogan of “change” identically pursued a policy of antagonism with Iran and although the latter had vowed to take up reconciliation and détente with Iran, he exactly imitated what his predecessor has done.
On September 30, 2006, the U.S. Congress ratified the Iran Freedom and Support Act which allocated $10 million to anti-Iranian groups both inside and outside the country who were seeking to overthrow the Iranian government.
On May 27, 2007, Daily Telegraph quoted intelligence sources as reporting that President Bush had given the CIA approval to launch covert “black” operations to achieve regime change in Iran. According to the British paper, Bush had signed an official document endorsing CIA plans for a campaign of propaganda and disinformation intended to destabilize and eventually topple the Islamic Republic government.
Bush’s plan also included covert support for notorious terrorist gangs such as Jundallah and MKO which over the past years have carried out several terrorist operations across Iran, claiming the lives of tens of innocent civilians. The main goal of these cults is to sabotage Iran’s security and pave the way for the United States and its allies to invade Iran and implement their perilous plans for the country.
According to an ABC News report published on May 22, 2007, some former officials in the Bush administration who spoke on the condition of anonymity revealed that the U.S. government had designed plans for manipulating the value of Iran’s currency and damaging its international financial transactions.
They also unveiled that the U.S. government which has been involved in several regime change operations in such countries as Syria, Guatemala, Indonesia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Greece, Chile, Argentina, Afghanistan, Turkey, Poland and Nicaragua since the World War I had authorized a $400 million covert operation to create unrest in Iran, especially following the 2009 presidential election in which the defeated candidates claimed that the results had been rigged.
At the same time, however, the leaders of the United States and the European states who imposed upon Iran a set of relentless biting sanctions hypocritically talk of friendship with the Iranian nation and state that they seek rapprochement and camaraderie with Iran.
In his March 2009 videotaped message to the Iranian people on the occasion of Persian New Year (Nowrouz), the U.S. President Obama adored Persian culture, civilization, arts and literature and overtly cajoled Iranians with the aim of persuading them to confide in the United States and its policies vis-à-vis Iran: ” In particular, I would like to speak directly to the people and leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Nowruz is just one part of your great and celebrated culture. Over many centuries your art, your music, literature and innovation have made the world a better and more beautiful place… Here in the United States our own communities have been enhanced by the contributions of Iranian Americans. We know that you are a great civilization, and your accomplishments have earned the respect of the United States and the world.”
Thereafter, he turned to the leaders of Iran to reach out to them directly: “we have serious differences that have grown over time. My administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran and the international community. This process will not be advanced by threats. We seek instead engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect.”
President Obama appreciated Iranian culture and talked of his commitment to diplomacy and negotiations with Iran; however, by the end of the same year, he authorized the renewal of the long-standing U.S. financial sanctions against Iran, provoking a wave of anger and disappointment among Iranians.
In the following years, President Obama recorded similar videotaped messages on the occasion of Nowrouz, and despite the fact that his tone got unsympathetic over time, he still insisted on his being concerned for the Iranians and their “rights.”
With regards to Iran, the Western politicians, including President Obama, seemingly follow a modus operandi of “divide and rule.” They want to separate the Iranian government and people and pretend that they care for the interests of the Iranians, and at the same time, oppose the policies of the government; a government which they say has long repressed its own people, while the reality proves otherwise.
Now, the gist of Iran-West standoff can be expressed this way: the United States and its allies demand that Iran should give up its nuclear rights and make other concessions. Iran doesn’t accept these demands, calling them illegitimate and beyond its liability. The West doesn’t spare any effort to punish Iran: sanctions, assassination of its nuclear scientists, passing resolutions in the UN Security Council, psychological operations and other punitive measures. Iranians have firmly tolerated the pressures to show that they don’t give in to bullying. The future is unclear and blurred; however, what is certain is that the ones who bear the burden of West’s hostility toward Iran are the ordinary people.
The sanctions have targeted Iran’s medical sector. Aside from the official data which show that many European countries have banned the shipment of different medicines to Iran, my personal observations prove that Iran is direly running out of sensitive medical products, including medicine for psychological patients, those who suffer from various types of cancer, diabetes, hemophilia, thalassemia, multiple sclerosis and heart diseases. I’ve personally encountered patients who needed medicine from countries such as Canada and Belgium, but as a result of the sanctions, they couldn’t find them. Aren’t such diabolical sanctions contrary to the principles of human rights? Why don’t those who preach human rights and democracy take the fact into consideration that banning the export of medicine to a country whose people are in dire need of such products is simply a collective punishment of innocent civilians?
Every year, tens of Iranian citizens are killed in painful air accidents, which is a direct result of the U.S.-engineered sanctions against Iran. According to the U.S. sanctions which were implemented almost 30 years ago, the European aviation companies are not allowed to sell aircrafts to Iran and the aging fleet of Iranian airlines cannot accommodate the growing demand of the people for safe and secure air travels. According to the chancellor of Amir Kabir University of Iran, the country needs at least 600 civilian aircraft, but no country sells Iran such a huge number of aircrafts and the people always travel via Iranian airliners in an atmosphere of trepidation and anxiety.
Overall, what is clear is that the sanctions game started by the U.S. and its European allies has no winner. It simply blackens the image of the Western superpowers in the eye of Iranian people and makes them believe that the United States and its cronies cannot ever be trusted.
During the week of July 1st – 7th an international cabal of corporate lobbyists will be meeting behind closed doors in San Diego. Their aim is moving the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) towards completion. For over two years TPP negotiations have been in process, yet the proposals and agreements made so far have been carefully kept from public view, until recently.
A leaked TPP document, published at Public Citizen, has revealed what the 600 corporate advisers involved in the negotiations, including representatives from Verizon, FedEx, and Walmart, have been up to. Considering the contents of this document, it is no wonder why the public and even elected representatives have been kept in the dark.
Publicly the TPP is being described as a Free Trade Act (FTA). This understates its scope. While the FTAs already in existence have raked in giant profits for the corporate elite, for workers internationally they have resulted in lay offs and a race to the bottom in terms of living conditions and rights. The big business tops have been working hard to enhance the power of their moneymaking weapons of mass destruction. If NAFTA was a hand grenade, the TPP is a bunker buster.
What is perhaps most astonishing about the TPP is its architects’ disregard for the consequences of its destructive potential. Their greed has blinded them to the political instability and popular revolt the consequences of the TPP will create. The corporate elite imagines their rule to be absolute and eternal. Sheltered by these illusions and goaded on by the need to increase their riches regardless of social costs, they are creating a bomb that could blow them up as well.
Currently the countries in on the TPP are the United States, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. These countries alone are a combined market of 658 million people worth $20.5 trillion annually. (1) Canada, Japan, and Mexico are also expected to get on board. The TPP also has built in mechanisms to allow other nations to join after its ratification.
While China could theoretically become a member, there can be little doubt that part of the intention of this pact is for the United States to build a coalition, in which its big business interests dominate, to compete against China’s economic might. This ratcheting up of competition will result in greater political animosity. In turn, these consequences will contribute to a course towards greater conflict, including the possibility of war. This is because international capitalist competition is not determined by gentlemanly agreements, but by the law of the jungle and, frequently, brute force. While it may be a relatively simple matter for the United States to bully its economically weaker TPP partners into line, China is not so easily dominated. Other more crude and costly measures than diplomacy will be required to get the competitive upper hand and the TPP is laying the foundation for this possibility.
What all FTAs share in common, including the TPP, is how they open up doors for multi-national corporations to transfer operations to other nations where labor is cheaper and the profit rate is greater. In the first 10 years of NAFTA this outsourcing resulted in the net loss of 879,280 U.S. jobs. (2) Considering the greater number of countries involved in the TPP, this number of lost jobs will be all the greater.
In addition, for the nations these jobs are outsourced to, the results are even more devastating. The dislocation of local economies by the larger scale corporations moving in also results in greater unemployment. For instance, NAFTA resulted in the loss of 1.3 million Mexican farm jobs as U.S. agribusiness moved in (3), leaving the farmers to toil for a living in the brutal Maquiladoras or move to the U.S. for jobs where they have been persecuted as “illegal” immigrants. Even more damaging was how NAFTA accelerated the privatization of Mexico’s once strong public sector resulting in huge layoffs, wage cuts, and a dramatic drop in the countries unionization rate. Other than for a well-connected few within the developing nations signing onto the TPP, there is nothing to gain and much to lose for these countries’ citizens if this agreement is enacted.
Where the TPP departs from past FTAs is in the range of issues it covers and the degree it flagrantly defies national sovereignty in favor of multi-national corporate interests. Only two of the TPP’s 26 chapters have to do with trade. The rest are focused on new corporate rights, privileges and tools to override local government interests.
Perhaps the most controversial of these tools would be the setting up of a three attorney tribunal, with no checks on conflicts of interest, to judge foreign corporate complaints regarding government regulations in the countries they are setting up operations in. If, for instance, a foreign owned corporation argues it is losing profits because of its host nation’s overtime laws, this tribunal could rule that the country’s taxpayers owe that corporation compensation for this loss. Such costly judgments could result from any regulations including labor law, local environmental standards, financial rules, etc. In short, the TPP’s tribunal would act as the hammer of multi-national corporate interests above the power of the states’ governments they do business in. While, because of their size, U.S. based corporations have the most to gain from this arrangement, it will result in not only a greater deterioration of the living standards of those working in the U.S. but also any semblance of democracy as well.
As negotiated under the Obama administration by U.S. trade representative Ron Kirkland, the TPP is extremist. Public interest and national sovereignty are sacrificed on the altar of a corporate agenda to a degree that it is doubtful a Republican president could get away with. Should it be passed into law, revolts against its effects are likely. This will set into motion events that will not go as planned by the 1% behind the measure.
The time is now to start trying to defeat the TPP. Currently, many of the organizations expressing concerns about it, including the AFL-CIO leadership, are limiting the fightback to pressuring the Obama administration to amend or drop the TPP. It should first be demanded that the agreements and proposals regarding the TPP are open for all to see. The public needs to be educated about its effects. If such efforts are linked to a mass action campaign for jobs – not cuts, it would go a long way towards creating a grass roots political movement that could take on this extremist 1 percent agreement.
Such a movement cannot afford to counter the TPP with an equally reactionary protectionist program. Currently, this is the position put forward by the AFL-CIO leadership and their “buy America made” slogan. At first glance, it appears to be common sense for many rank and file U.S. workers. “If we want to prevent the off shoring of American jobs we should only buy products made at home” goes the reasoning. However, there are several problems with this line that undercut our ability to combat the TPP.
One problem is that there are very few products that are made exclusively in the U.S. The division of labor to produce even most “American made” commodities is international in scale. Otherwise, few if any of the corporations that make them would be able to survive. Therefore, the logic behind this protectionist slogan is utopian, harking back to a long gone time before the economy became such a globally dependent system.
There are other more pernicious consequences to protectionism, however. It fosters jingoistic “America first” attitudes that, as political tensions increase between economically competing nations, can easily be manipulated into support for military adventures that are against the 99% interests. In addition, even if U.S. jobs are being protected by such measures as tariffs against foreign competitors, this, in effect, exports unemployment and divides the working class by nationality. If extremist 1% measures are to be defeated, it can only be done by a political policy that unites the 99% across national boundaries. Protectionism creates just the opposite.
Workers need their own international campaign to fight the TPP. The labor movement in the U.S. could begin by linking up with other union and community groups from the nations signing onto it. An international conference could be set up to share information, assist one another in their efforts to combat the TPP, and plan for joint actions. However, in order for such a conference to not be limited to purely symbolic value, serious efforts must be dedicated towards turning the ideas coming out of it into a physical force through mass organizing.
The passage of NAFTA was a defeat for workers that we are still suffering from in a big way. Labor and its allies were unprepared to effectively fight it, though there were notable solidarity efforts between U.S. and Mexican unions. The stakes are even higher with the TPP. Statesman like appeals to President Clinton by labor to drop or, at least, reform NAFTA did no good. Likewise, similar appeals to President Obama, especially after the passage of the Korean, Colombian, and Panama FTAs, will leave us saddled with the TPP. Workers need leverage to defeat the TPP, and that leverage comes from mass organizing and action.
For further reading check out the leaked document at http://www.citizenstrade.org/ctc/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/tppinvestment.pdf
For “Controversial Trade Pact Text Leaked, Shows U.S. Trade Officials Have Agreed to Terms That Undermine Obama Domestic Agenda go to http://www.citizen.org/documents/release-controversial-trade-pact-text-leaked-06-13.pdf
For Public Interest Analysis of Leaked Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Investment text go to http://www.citizen.org/documents/Leaked-TPP-Investment-Analysis.pdf
1.) Trans-Pacific Partnership decoded: Canada lobbied to be part of trade talks. Now what? By Madhavi Achar-Tom Yew for Business Reporter. http://www.thestar.com/business/article/1214595–trans-pacific-partnership-decoded-canada-lobbied-to-be-part-of-trade-talks-now-what
2.)See “NAFTA – Related Job Losses Have Piled Up Since 1993″ by Robert E. Scott for the Economic Policy Institute.
3.) Disadvantages of NAFTA By Kimberly Amadeo for About.Com US Economy.
I’m sure most Americans are mighty proud of the fact that Julian Assange is so frightened of falling into the custody of the United States that he had to seek sanctuary in the embassy of Ecuador, a tiny and poor Third World country, without any way of knowing how it would turn out. He might be forced to be there for years. “That’ll teach him to mess with the most powerful country in the world! All you other terrorists and anti-Americans out there — Take Note! When you fuck around with God’s country you pay a price!”
How true. You do pay a price. Ask the people of Cuba, Vietnam, Chile, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Iran, Haiti, etc., etc., etc. And ask the people of Guantánamo, Diego Garcia, Bagram, and a dozen other torture centers to which God’s country offers free transportation.
You think with the whole world watching, the United States would not be so obvious as to torture Assange if they got hold of him? Ask Bradley Manning. At a bare minimum, prolonged solitary confinement is torture. Before too long the world may ban it. Not that that would keep God’s country and other police states from using it.
You think with the whole world watching, the United States would not be so obvious as to target Assange with a drone? They’ve done it with American citizens. Assange is a mere Aussie.
And Ecuador and its president, Rafael Correa, will pay a price. You think with the whole world watching, the United States would not intervene in Ecuador? In Latin America, it comes very naturally for Washington. During the Cold War it was said that the United States could cause the downfall of a government south of the border … with a frown. The dissolution of the Soviet Union didn’t bring any change in that because it was never the Soviet Union per se that the United States was fighting. It was the threat of a good example of an alternative to the capitalist model.
For example, on January 21, 2000 in Ecuador, where almost two-thirds live in poverty, a very large number of indigenous peasants rose up in desperation and marched to the capital city of Quito, where they were joined by labor unions and some junior military officers (most members of the army being of indigenous stock). This coalition presented a list of economic demands, seized the Congress and Supreme Court buildings, and forced the president to resign. He was replaced by a junta from the ranks of the new coalition. The Clinton administration was alarmed. Besides North American knee-reflex hostility to anything that look or smells like a leftist revolution, Washington had big plans for a large military base in Manta (later closed by Correa). And Colombia — already plagued by leftist movements — was next door.
The US quickly stepped in to educate the Ecuadorean coalition leaders as to the facts of Western Hemispheric imperial life. The American embassy in Quito … Peter Romero, Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America and Western Hemispheric Affairs … Sandy Berger, National Security Adviser to President Clinton … Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering … all made phone calls to Ecuadorian officials to threaten a cutoff in aid and other support, warning that “Ecuador will find itself isolated”, informing them that the United States would never recognize any new government the coalition might set up, there would be no peace in Ecuador unless the military backed the vice president as the new leader, and the vice president must continue to pursue neoliberal “reforms”, the kind of IMF structural adjustment policies which had played a major role in inciting the uprising in the first place.
Within hours the heads of the Ecuadorian army, navy and air force declared their support for the vice president. The leaders of the uprising fled into hiding. And that was the end of the Ecuadorian revolution of the year 2000.1
Rafael Correa was first elected in 2006 with a 58% majority, and reelected in 2009 with a 55% majority; his current term runs until August 2013. The American mainstream media has been increasingly critical of him. The following letter sent in January to the Washington Post by the Ecuadoran ambassador to the United States is an attempt to clarify one of the issues.
Letter to the Editor:
We were offended by the Jan. 12 editorial “Ecuador’s bully,” which focused on a lawsuit brought by our president, Rafael Correa, after a newspaper claimed that he was guilty of ordering troops to fire on innocent citizens during a failed coup in 2010. The president asked the publishers to release their evidence or a retraction. When they refused, he sued, as any citizen should do when recklessly wronged.
No journalist has gone to prison or paid a significant fine in the five years of the Correa presidency. Media criticism — fair and unfair, sometimes with malice — of the government appears every day. The case involving the newspaper is on appeal. When the judicial process ends, the president has said, he will waive some or all of the penalties provided he gets a retraction. That is a common solution to libel and slander cases in the United States, I believe.
Your writer uses obnoxious phrases such as “banana republic,” but here is the reality of today’s Ecuador: a highly popular, stable and progressive democracy for the first time in decades.
Nathalie Cely, Washington
No shelter from the drones of infinite justice or the bacteria of enduring freedom
Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai said recently that he had had an argument with Gen. John Allen, the top US commander in Afghanistan, about the issue of American drone attacks in Afghanistan, following yet another deadly airstrike that killed a number of civilians. Karzai asked Allen an eminently reasonable question: “Do you do this in the United States?” The Afghan president added: “There is police action every day in the United States in various localities. They don’t call an airplane to bomb the place.”2
Karzai’s question to Allen was rhetorical of course, for can it be imagined that American officials would bomb a house in an American city because they suspected that certain bad guys were present there? Well, the answer to that question is that it can be imagined because they’ve already done it.
In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. On May 13, 1985, a bomb dropped by a police helicopter burned down an entire block, some 60 homes destroyed, 11 dead, including several small children. The police, the mayor’s office, and the FBI were all involved in this effort to evict an organization called MOVE from the house they lived in.
The victims were all black of course. So let’s rephrase our question. Can it be imagined that American officials would bomb a house in Beverly Hills or the upper east side of Manhattan? Stay tuned.
And what else can we imagine about a society that’s been super militarized, that’s at war with much of the world, and is convinced that it’s on the side of the angels and history? Well, the Boston transit system, MBTA, recently announced that in conjunction with Homeland Security they plan to release dead bacteria at three stations during off-hours this summer in order to test sensors that detect biological agents, which terrorists could release into subway systems. The bacterium, bacillus subtilis, is not infectious even in its live form, according to the government.3
However, this too has a precedent. During five days in June, 1966 the Army conducted a test called “A Study of the Vulnerability of Subway Passengers in New York City to Covert Attack with Biological Agents”. Trillions ofbacillus subtilis variant niger were released into the subway system during rush hours, producing aerosol clouds. The report on the test noted that “When the cloud engulfed people, they brushed their clothing, looked up at the grate [at street level] and walked on.”4 The wind of passing trains spread the bacteria along the tracks; in the time it took for two trains to pass, the bacteria were spread from 15th Street to 58th Street.5 It is not known how many people later became ill from being unsuspecting guinea pigs because the United States Army, as far as is known, exhibited no interest in this question.
For the planned Boston test the public has not been informed of the exact days; nor is it known how long the bacteria might linger in the stations or what the possible danger might be to riders whose immune system has been weakened for any reason.
It should be noted that the New York subway experiment was only one of many such experiments. The Army has acknowledged that between 1949 and 1969, 239 populated areas from coast to coast as well as US overseas territories were blanketed with various organisms during tests designed to measure patterns of dissemination in the air, weather effects, dosages, optimum placement of the source, and other factors. Such testing was supposedly suspended after 1969.6
Government officials have consistently denied that the biological agents used could be harmful despite an abundance of expert and objective scientific evidence that exposure to heavy concentrations of even apparently innocuous organisms can cause illness, at a minimum to the most vulnerable segments of the population — the elderly, children, and those suffering from a variety of ailments. “There is no such thing as a microorganism that cannot cause trouble,” George Connell, assistant to the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, testified before the Senate in 1977. “If you get the right concentration at the right place, at the right time, and in the right person, something is going to happen.”7
The United States has used biological weapons abroad as well, repeatedly, not for testing purposes but for hostile purposes.8 So what will the land which has the highest (double) standards say when such weapons are used against it? Or when foreign drones hit American cities? Or when American hi-tech equipment is sabotaged by a cyber attack as the US has now admitted doing to Iran? A year ago the Pentagon declared that “computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war. … If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks,” said a US military official.9
“The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity.” – André Gide, French Author, 1869-1951
Barack Obama, his mother, and the CIA
In his autobiography, Dreams From My Fathers, Barack Obama writes of taking a job at some point after graduating from Columbia University in 1983. He describes his employer as “a consulting house to multinational corporations” in New York City, and his functions as a “research assistant” and “financial writer”.
Oddly, Obama doesn’t mention the name of his employer. However, a New York Times story of October 30, 2007 identifies the company as Business International Corporation. Equally odd is that the Times did not remind its readers that the newspaper itself had disclosed in 1977 that Business International had provided cover for four CIA employees in various countries between 1955 and 1960.10
The British journal, Lobster — which, despite its incongruous name, is a venerable international publication on intelligence matters — has reported that Business International was active in the 1980s promoting the candidacy of Washington-favored candidates in Australia and Fiji.11 In 1987, the CIA overthrew the Fiji government after but one month in office because of its policy of maintaining the island as a nuclear-free zone, meaning that American nuclear-powered or nuclear-weapons-carrying ships could not make port calls.12 After the Fiji coup, the candidate supported by Business International, who was much more amenable to Washington’s nuclear desires, was reinstated to power — R.S.K. Mara was Prime Minister or President of Fiji from 1970 to 2000, except for the one-month break in 1987.
In his book, not only doesn’t Obama mention his employer’s name; he fails to say exactly when he worked there, or why he left the job. There may well be no significance to these omissions, but inasmuch as Business International has a long association with the world of intelligence, covert actions, and attempts to penetrate the radical left — including Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)13 — it’s reasonable to wonder if the inscrutable Mr. Obama is concealing something about his own association with this world.
Adding to the wonder is the fact that his mother, Ann Dunham, had been associated during the 1970s and 80s — as employee, consultant, grantee, or student — with at least five organizations with intimate CIA connections during the Cold War: The Ford Foundation, Agency for International Development (AID), the Asia Foundation, Development Alternatives, Inc., and the East-West Center of Hawaii.14 Much of this time she worked as an anthropologist in Indonesia and Hawaii, being in good position to gather intelligence about local communities.
As one example of the CIA connections of these organizations, consider the disclosure by John Gilligan, Director of AID during the Carter administration (1977-81). “At one time, many AID field offices were infiltrated from top to bottom with CIA people. The idea was to plant operatives in every kind of activity we had overseas, government, volunteer, religious, every kind.”15 And Development Alternatives, Inc. is the organization for whom Alan Gross was working when arrested in Cuba and charged with being part of the ongoing American operation to destabilize the Cuban government.
How the owners of a society play with their property
The Supreme Court of the United States has just upheld the constitutionality of President Obama’s health care law, the Affordable Care Act. Liberals as well as many progressives are very pleased, regarding this as a victory for the left.
Under the new law, people can benefit in one way or another depending on the following factors:
Their age; whether their income is at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level; whether their parents have a health plan; whether they use tobacco; what state they live in; whether they have a pre-existing medical condition; whether they qualify to buy health insurance through newly-created market places known as “exchanges”; and numerous other criteria … They can obtain medical insurance in a “competitive insurance market” (emphasis on the “competitive”); they can perhaps qualify for various other kinds of credits and tax relief if they meet certain criteria … The authors of the Act state that it will save thousands of dollars in drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries by closing a coverage gap called the “donut hole” … They tell us that “It keeps insurance companies honest by setting clear rules that rein in the worst insurance industry abuses.”
That’s a sample of how health care looks in the United States of America in the 21st century, with a complexity that will keep a small army of lawyers busy for years to come. Ninety miles away, in the Republic of Cuba, it looks a bit different. If you feel sick you go to a doctor. You’re automatically qualified to receive any medical care that’s available and thought to be suitable. The doctor treats you to the best of his or her ability. The insurance companies play no role. There are no insurance companies. You don’t pay anything. You go home.
The Affordable Care Act will undoubtedly serve as a disincentive to the movement for single-payer national health insurance, setting the movement back for years. The Affordable Care Act was undoubtedly designed for that purpose.
- Washington Post, January 23, 2000, p.1; “The coup in Ecuador: a grim warning”, World Socialist Web Site, February 2, 2000; Z Magazine (Massachusetts), February 2001, pp.36-7 ↩
- Washington Post, June 12, 2012 ↩
- Beacon Hill Patch (Boston), “MBTA to Spread Dead Bacteria on Red Line in Bio-Terror Test”, May 18, 2012 ↩
- Leonard Cole, Clouds of Secrecy: The Army’s Germ Warfare Tests over Populated Areas (1990), pp.65-9↩
- New York Times, September 19, 1975, p.14 ↩
- “Biological Testing Involving Human Subjects by the Department of Defense”, 1977, Hearings before the Subcommittee on Health and Scientific Research of the Committee on Human Resources, US Senate, March 8 and May 23, 1977; see also William Blum, Rogue State, chapter 15 ↩
- Senate Hearings, op. cit., p.270 ↩
- Rogue State, op. cit., chapter 14 ↩
- Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2011 ↩
- New York Times, December 27, 1977, p.40 ↩
- Lobster magazine, Hull, UK, #14, November 1987 ↩
- Rogue State, op. cit., pp.199-200 ↩
- Carl Oglesby, Ravens in the Storm: A Personal History of the 1960s Antiwar Movement (2008), passim↩
- Wikipedia entry for Ann Dunham ↩
- George Cotter, “Spies, strings and missionaries”, The Christian Century (Chicago), March 25, 1981, p.321
Some weeks ago, Mexico’s second largest city was hit by over a dozen narco-blockades. Narcotraficantes shut down over a dozen intersections, evacuated citizens from buses and burned the empty vehicles (one bus driver didn’t get out in time). Meanwhile, the Mexican military executed a daring raid when they landed on Opus Dei school grounds to capture a head narcotics trafficker holed up in the nearby neighborhood.
The official story is that the narcos were retaliating for the Mexican government capture of one of their head honchos or that they were executing a diversion to allow other cartel members to escape the city.
Ironically, they later posted notes around town asking citizens for their forgiveness. It almost feels like this is Gotham and we’re living in a Batman movie, except, here there is no Dark Knight.
The US Agenda
Before we examine the issue further, it is necessary to state some clear facts:
1) The CIA and other US Government agencies have been caught running drugs into the U.S.
2) The DEA has been caught laundering money for drug cartels from Colombia to Mexico.
3) The ATF and the White House were caught selling tens of thousands of guns directly to Mexican drug cartels.
4) Attorney General Eric Holder has been caught stating that their goals are to demonize gun possession and create an anti-gun culture with the ultimate purpose of disallowing lawful firearm possession.
5) Operations Fast & Furious as well as Gunrunner were attempts at fomenting such an atmosphere.
Mexican Deep Politics
Dr. Peter Dale Scott is one of the preeminent researchers and authors on the topic of “deep politics” and the global drug trade. We had the great opportunity to speak with Dr. Scott for about an hour on these issues.
In his book American War Machine, he painstakingly details the nexus between the various actors. In this instance, these are mainly the US government, Mexican government and narco traffickers as well as middlemen in-between (i.e. the odd Iranian used-car salesman).
In 1947, the same year the CIA was created, the US government helped Mexico create its own agency called the Federal Security Directorate (DFS). The U.S. also assisted other countries in creating their own intelligence agencies (i.e. DINA in Chile, SIN in Haiti, etc.).
The CIA-DFS duo has been running drugs ever since. Indeed, the founder of the agency, Colonel Carlos Serrano had been caught in action. At the time, a State Department report noted the “Gestapo” powers of the DFS and how it was used “to get rid of their competition and control the business.” The main point of the DFS was not to stop the flow of drugs but to manage it and fight the communist left.
The DFS was essentially a CIA asset and many assets on the CIA payroll actually went on to become prominent politicians with at least one of them becoming the president of Mexico. Family members would then be drug trade contacts, such as was the case with Raul Salinas. Essentially, the US government was able to manipulate Mexican politics by proxy via the DFS. In a CIA report, out of six assessed Mexican agencies, despite the DFS having the worst record, the CIA went on to say that they would still work with them because they were the most “competent and capable!”
The CIA-DFS-Cartel Triad
Due to a scandal in 1985, the DFS morphed into CISEN at which time it lost its CIA protection because of the murder of a DEA agent. According to Peter Dale Scott, the institutional arrangements between the triad continued up until at least Ernesto Zedillo’s presidency (1995-2001).
One of the interesting things pointed out in American War Machine is that the agencies have their preferred cartels. The CIA and DFS/CISEN have cartels they are aligned with and make sure to support them against the competition. During the 1990s Salinas presidency, agencies and offices such as the Attorney General’s Office (PGR) were up to 95% under narco control at times.
The global drug trade is a key underlying factor in understanding world events. It has become the blood vessel of the global economy without which the system would collapse. It is what provides liquidity to the banks. It makes all those involved, from Afghanistan and Kosovo to Columbia and Wall Street, wealthy beyond imagination. It feeds the Prison-Industrial Complex with its drug offenders. It feeds the Military-Industrial Complex with the resulting violence and arms sales. It feeds the Pharmaceutical-Industrial Complex with the outlaw of natural medicine.
More importantly, it provides off-the-record cash for funding acts of terror, assassinations and other black operations by governments. Could you imagine the Government Accountability Office’s (GAO) reaction assessing the receipts detailing how official government funds were used for the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr?
Other examples might include when Nicaraguan Contras were trained in Veracruz, Mexico by CIA/DFS narco assets. Or the case of E. Howard Hunt, who was deeply involved in the drug trade as well as the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
Seeing as this is the way the cookie crumbles, I am not a terrible optimist. Decriminalization is the only hope, but there are too many politicians who stand to lose too much (i.e. Hillaryious Clinton). Even the Netherlands is turning back the clock by banning cannabis sales. Only time will tell. In the meantime, keep your noses clean.
Jorge Gato lives in Mexico and is a social sciences educator who is in the trenches daily, warding off severe cases of cognitive dissonance, mass indoctrination and unhealthy reasoning. He writes athttp://dissidentthinker.wordpress.com/.
Source: The Dollar Vigilante
It was not just semantics last week when I America ‘rules’ rather than ‘runs’ Pakistan. The pun was intended: when America frowns we get the runs; when it smiles our evacuations become normal.
America has a very big say in what it considers important, including job appointments from top to lowly ambassadors, intelligence chiefs and restoration of sacked judges. It determines our foreign, defence and economic policies and their managers. We even take directions from US envoys and ambassadors. Disregard America’s will and suffer sanctions to trashing of governments. Don’t believe me? See how Hussain Haqqani was flown out of the coop? Didn’t he meet a US embassy official before leaving? Weren’t it Holbrooke and Clinton who pressured the army chief into getting the judges restored? Did you read Matthew Green’s article in the Financial Times last Thursday entitled: ‘US Monitors Pakistan’s Choice of Spymaster’? If you are as appalled as I am it’s a healthy sign, for to duck the truth means your conscience and self-esteem have died. Tu jhuka jo ghair kay agay, na mun taira na tun.
Our servile position arises primarily from our financial dependence on America. Our attraction to America is in direct correlation to the size of its wallet – like Kunta Kinte just enough to keep us going – just as a person’s eligibility is in direct correlation to the size of their wallets and the marriage’s continuing health to its shrinking or expansion. Happiness lies in perpetually getting America’s handouts, taking more to make usury payments, perpetually increasing our indebtedness and dependence. God remains stranded in rhetoric, the Devil breaks out in a dance and the people take the hindmost.
Can America change our government? Of course it can if it stops serving its purpose. ‘Rogue’ leaders are thrown out after a ‘popular’ uprising or killed. Look what happened to Chile’s Salvador Allende. How many times have they tried to kill Fidel Castro? Look what’s happened in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen and before that to Iraq and Saddam. Sure their rulers were odious tyrants, but that’s none of America’s business. Should we have thrown George W. Bush and his company of mass murderers out to stop their killings and stupidity-driven global economic destruction? America puts most tyrants in place anyhow and throws them out when they become liabilities, whenever possible making it look as they are supporting popular sentiment. When necessary, America also teaches current and future satraps a lesson – Bhutto hanged; Zia killed in a plane crash; Saddam hanged; Gaddafi horribly killed; Mubarak displayed in a cage lying on a stretcher. Doesn’t that cage look incongruous without Bush & Company in it too for crimes against humanity? If NATO warplanes had not bombed and stalled Gaddafi’s convoy he would never have been captured and brutally assassinated by America’s crazed mob. It was no mistake.
Wishful thinking aside, don’t be fooled into believing that America has ‘lost’ because ‘Islamic’ governments are taking power in Arab countries. They are America’s ‘Islamic’ governments, products of its new doctrine: “If you can’t lick ’em, join ‘em” by putting friendly mullahs in place before unfriendly ones get in. This is not unlike America’s earlier doctrine regarding dictators: “We know he’s a son-of-a-bitch but he’s our son-of-a-bitch”. Now its changed to: “We know he’s a wretched mullah but he’s our wretched mullah.” Lump it. Were that life were still so simple. The somnambulant masses are awakening; the workers of the world are uniting and breaking their chains; the ‘wretched of the earth’ are realizing that their wretchedness is not a fate ordained but stolen by man.
If I’m being simplistic it is to help explain the contours of reality. Isn’t America being overly simplistic too, imagining that if it can endlessly go on recasting the world in the image that it thinks will work for it regardless if it doesn’t work for others, all will be well with ‘The World According to America’? This thinking has defaced America’s original ideology rooted in the motto, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” that initially defined it as a great country. It is a motto at once secular and spiritual. Today, that ideology is rooted in hypocrisy and duality: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for America but not necessarily for others. If in their pursuit these ideals are denied to the rest of the world, so be it. The world’s purpose of existence is to enable America to achieve life, liberty and happiness.
To America it means that happiness (which implies life and liberty, without which there can be no happiness) can only be achieved by the pursuit and maximization of profit. This has led to the worst kind of capitalism, neither moral nor immoral but amoral. America that started out with great promise as an icon of freedom began worshiping wealth and the power that derives from it. Money and wealth-creation, once a powerful driving force and something to celebrate, became America’s Golden Calf. That initial morality of shiny eyed, bushy tailed early immigrants was replaced with wealth creation any old how not just at the expense of the world but also at the expense of its own country and people.
Ah! ‘Liberty’. The word gives one goose pimples. It was used in an earlier ideology of freedom from which America’s founding fathers probably took it. That ideology was encapsulated in the motto, Liberté, égalité, fraternité – ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity’. Though it finds its origins in the French Revolution, it became the national motto of France after the establishment of the Third Republic at the end of the 19th century. Its authorship is disputed, but Antoine-Francois Momoro, a Parisian printer and herbalist is usually credited with it.
While fraternity means ‘brotherhood’, ‘egalite’ has been translated as ‘equality’, but it is more than that. More accurately, it is ‘egalitarianism’, meaning everyone is equal before the law no matter who they are or what office they hold. Egalitarianism is – or was – one of America’s ideological cornerstones but it lost it at home with first the passing of the Patriot Act and now the National Defence Authorization Act that gives the US military the right to arrest any US citizen indefinitely without charge or trial. Its become a police state. There never was any egalitarianism between states in the pursuit of self-interest, because “there is no morality in relations between states”.
The word ‘liberal’ comes from the word ‘liberty’ or ‘liberation’ – one who is liberated physically, nationally, and most vital, mentally. Give people the space to say and do what they want to so long as they don’t harm others. Many of our liberals lose their liberalism the moment another expresses a contrary point of view – “Humayun Gauhar and people of his ilk should be lined up against a wall and the Stalinist option used” was what one of our more celebrated liberals wrote more than 20 years ago when I first suggested that the presidential system would suit us better. Today, more and more people are talking about it. Had we all been shot no one would have dared utter a word about it again.
Whose fault is it that we are underlings? Not our stars, surely, for our destiny lies not in them but within us. We are to blame. The buck stops with us. We have to get out of mental colonization ourselves. No one will do it for us. Going by the summit between the presidents of Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan, perhaps our consciences are still not completely dead. I just hope it was not just posturing. You never know given that two of the three leaders are US satraps.
Source: Opinion Maker
Need a last minute gift for your beloved locavore? Several books would make excellent holiday gifts, so this review covers a few of them on the environment, as it relates to local food sovereignty, food security and palate delight. There’s even one for kids, which starts the set:
Avatars of Gaia: Escape from Hazard Hollow
Professor Heart (self-published: 2009, 210 pp.)
Charlotte Purin of Los Angeles decided one of the best ways to save Mother Earth is to get kids involved. So she wrote Avatars of Gaia: Escape from Hazard Hollow for preteens. The tale educates as it entertains, integrating the concepts of sustainability, healthy-eating, and environmental consciousness into a fantasy adventure story.
Because she also wants reach all kids, regardless of financial background, she’s made several youtube videos, (seed saving, read the label/obesity, how to recycle & compost, how to make a solar oven, and one about saving frogs). Colorful, full-page drawings accompany the text, and the book includes a special seed protection pledge, along with a glossary. She also has board games: the E.A.K. (environmentally aware kid) game, and ‘Gimme Green Grub’ game, about what’s healthy food.
Motivated by the privatization of water and seeds, an epidemic of childhood obesity, and rising bankruptcies among farmers, she plans several more books along the Gaia line, getting feedback as she tours schools, appearing as Professor Heart.
Life Rules: Why so much is going wrong everywhere at once and how Life teaches us to fix it
Ellen LaConte (self-published: 2010, 283 pp.)
LaConte provides a fresh take on ecosystem collapse, hierarchical culture, and the global capitalist industrial economy, analogizing them with AIDS. By following the evolution of life, LaConte shows how human “civilization” will always self-destruct, because it thrives on dominance and environmental exploitation. She provides a detailed comparison of nature to human societies, pointing out that in mature ecosystems there is no dominant species – everything is in balance.
She also contrasts her vision of a sustainable society with “civilization” that thrives on exploitation, domination and wealth concentration. Citing Derrick Jensen (Endgame) and Michael Ruppert (Confronting Collapse), she agrees that Power won’t voluntarily change, pointing out that the World Trade Organization has never once decided in favor of the environment. “The best we’ve done,” she writes, “is to flatten they pyramid” of power. Now is the time to challenge its existence, she says.
More than a third of the book lays out the plan for moving into sustainable human societies. All of the ideas are already being tried somewhere – like permaculture, slow money, slow food, and local organic democracy – going from competition and partisanship to participation and partnership. And this section is what makes the book ideal: all the best ideas are collected, and all of them are underscored by her theme of humanity living in accord with natural law, or Life Rules.
Here’s another delightful read in the eco-genre, although the serious business of climate change – wrought via whatever means – forms the basis for their culinary ecotours spanning the Western Hemisphere. A chef, a chili agroecologist and an ethnobotanist traveled to Mexico, Florida, Cajun Country, the Yucatan, New Mexico and even New England talking with chili pepper farmers about the history of their crops, the weather and the development of “rapid adaptation” farming.
The authors report that aberrant weather is only one problem threatening the diversity of peppers (and all foods): water disputes, agricultural industrialization, globalization, loss of farmland and of specialty markets, and genetic modification. “The Seed Savers Exchange has documented that more than 200 varieties of sweet and hot peppers have disappeared from the seed trade in North America since 1981.”
Interspersed throughout the story of how an unstable climate affects these crops – sometimes beneficially, sometimes disastrously – are recipes that include one variety or another, along with side boxes with detailed info. One helpful tip – to cool down your mouth if your pepper (or Tabasco sauce) is too hot, ingest something fatty instead of drinking water, since capsaicin – the heat molecule – is hydrophobic. A glass of milk will bind the hot stuff, taking away its burn. Many believe the chemical also provides arthritic pain relief.
The Superfood Gardener: A step-by-step guide to growing superfood vegetables in your garden
Sharon and Andrew Cooper
(Global Publishing Group, 2010, 161 pp.)
While not everyone can grow chili peppers,Superfood Gardener provides detailed instructions on growing local food. Replete with pictures, drawings and detailed descriptions of plants and their pests, the Coopers also explore soils and companion plants, along with twelve specific veggies in the superfood Hall of Fame.
This is a book you haul out to the garden, and it’s built for durability. Thank goodness – mine is well thumbed and smudged with South Florida soil. I highly recommend this colorful how-to manual. Not all those superfoods can be grown here, but I’m making my way with spinach, broccoli, corn, and several varieties of tomato.
(Not on the superfood list, I still can’t get the tobacco to grow, and the watermelons failed. But we’re not giving up.)
Now that you’ve raised your own veggies – be they superfoods or not – you’ll want to prepare them using recipes in Cooking Close to Home. This is a beautiful hardcover recipe book focused on the Northeast U.S., covering all the seasons for each of the major food groups, including pastries and other sweets. It’s even got a recipe for pickling jalapeno peppers, or you can use them in the rib-eye steak marinade.
I’ve tried the Kale and Mushroom Soup, and the Garlic-Roasted Cherry Tomatoes with Fresh Basil and Goat Cheese, over pasta. Delish. My next endeavor will be the Vermont Vegetable New Year Rolls which I’m serving at the the family gathering this Sunday.
Imrie and Jarmusz introduce the sections with political tidbits to encourage supporting local farms, slow food and eco-consciousness. This is an excellent addition to any locavore’s cookbook shelf.
When Americans who are the most victimized by our cruel economy still believe in something that is demonstrably no longer true, they are deeply delusional. They desperately want to believe in something once great about American society. The reality is that upward economic mobility has been destroyed, replaced by widely observable downward mobility. Some of the mostly younger jobless that have embraced the Occupy Wall Street and related Occupy efforts know the truth.
Consider the results of a new survey of unemployed adults this month:
“More than half of those polled said that they had experienced emotional or mental health problems like anxiety or depression because of their lack of work, and nearly half said that they had felt embarrassed or ashamed not to have jobs.”
“More than a third said that they had had more conflicts or arguments with family and friends because of being jobless.”
“Threats of foreclosure or eviction were reported by a fifth of the unemployed, and one in eight said that they had moved in with relatives or friends.”
“More than half said that they lacked health insurance.”
“A fifth said that they had received food from a nonprofit organization.”
“Nearly two-thirds said they would probably not have enough money to live comfortably during retirement. More than half said that they had taken money out of savings or retirement accounts.”
“7 in 10 of those receiving unemployment benefits said that they feared their benefits would run out before they could find new jobs.”
So far, all those results paint an unsurprising profile of unemployed, suffering Americans.
Now, consider the result that blew my mind, the reason I am writing this, because more people need to understand something critical about delusional thinking that ultimately makes getting deep, sorely needed reforms of our government and political system extremely difficult. Without that our economy will stay awful, unfair, promoting even more economic inequality.
“Two-thirds of those surveyed said that they still believed it was possible to start out poor in this country, work hard and become rich — only a little lower than the three-quarters of all Americans” not in the unemployed category who held the same view and were surveyed at the same time. In fact, considerable research in recent years has consistently found that upward mobility in the US is no longer a hallmark of the society. Indeed, there is more upward mobility in Canada and a number of European countries than in the US. Moreover, the jobless more than most should be able to comprehend the ugly reality that downward economic mobility is now a large part of American society.
No surprise that the cover story on the new Time magazine is What Ever Happened To Upward Mobility? The basic theme of the article is that the US is no longer an “opportunity society.” In other words, our country is no longer a place where everyone, if he or she works hard enough, can get ahead. But despite this reality, conservatives and Republicans love to publicly proclaim that the US still offers everyone upward economic mobility.
Those two-thirds of the unemployed will probably pay a steep price for their false optimism about their country. They are likely to fall prey to the political propaganda of either Democrats or Republicans. If they are delusional about the American Dream, are they also delusional about other things that may stand in the way of them getting a job? Rather than feel ashamed or embarrassed about being jobless they should get some feedback from others so they can fix their thinking.
As Ezra Klein noted: “Americans are in the odd position of fervently believing in upward mobility while not actually having very much of it. Europeans, conversely, don’t really believe in economic mobility but have plenty of it.”
Those jobless with this delusional thinking, refusing to think critically, judge the facts and come to a hurtful conclusion, are not the ones I expect to be participating in or supporting the Occupy Wall Street protesters, about three-quarters of whom now disapprove of Mr. Obama’s performance as president. Though the Occupy protesters speak of the rich 1 percent, that is a big underestimate. As Anne Applebaumcorrectly noted “Despite all the loud talk of the ‘1 per cent’ of Americans who, according to a recent study, receive about 17 per cent of the income, a percentage which has more than doubled since 1979, the existence of a very small group of very rich people has never bothered Americans. But the fact that some 20 per cent of Americans now receive some 53 per cent of the income is devastating.” Becoming part of even that larger group of rich Americans is now more difficult than ever.
Do unemployed have the right kind of jobs to aspire to the top one percent of income earners? Consider the jobs that account for the top one percent; the top four categories account for nearly 70 percent: corporate and business management not in the financial sector, medical, financial industry executives, and lawyers. This also shows how difficult it is to somehow negatively impact the one percent by protests by the Occupy movement.
In our delusional democracy with its delusional prosperity thinking that hard work, great ideas and superior performance will get you into the top one percent is self-delusion, even getting into the top 20 percent is a long shot. The economic system is too rigged against economic justice. Sure, every once in awhile someone starting out poor or average becomes superrich, but that is like winning a super lottery. Best to stop believing in the rags-to-riches myth, unless the system is reformed.
A new report by a German foundation examined the nation members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, essentially the world’s democracies. The US ranked terribly low for poverty and poverty prevention as well as income inequality. OnlyChile, Mexico and Turkey were ranked lower than the US. What a story.
The US two-party plutocracy has allowed the rich and powerful to buy the political system. Except for the rich, the results are dreadful. This is why 89 percent do not trust that government will do the right thing. The best solution is what you find at the getmoneyout.comwebsite, a constitutional amendment to get money out of politics.
Many times I hear the ostriches among us exclaim, “What freedoms have we lost? America is the freest country on earth.” We have all heard that, right? Of course, part of the problem is that, thanks to our education system, media, and churches, many Americans do not even know how to define liberty and freedom. The truth is, America’s Founding Fathers were willing to pledge their “lives, fortunes, and sacred honor” and fight a bloody revolutionary war for far fewer abridgments of liberty than we Americans endure every day of our lives today. FAR FEWER!
To answer the second part of the ostrich argument first: no, America is not the freest nation on earth. According to the Index of Economic Freedom, which is produced by the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal, the United States just barely makes it in the top ten, ranked at number nine in the world.
According to Deroy Murdock, “Among the 179 countries examined in the Index, Hong Kong is ranked first, followed by Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Canada, Ireland, and Denmark. These nations all outscored the U.S. across ten categories, including taxes, free trade, regulation, monetary policy, and corruption.
“America barely made the top ten. Bahrain was tenth, with 77.7 points, one decimal point behind America’s 77.8 score. Chile reached No. 11 with 77.4, just 0.4 points behind the United States.
“Even worse, with a score below 80, the U.S. is spending its second year as a ‘mostly free’ economy. As it departed the family of ‘free’ nations in 2010, it led the ‘mostly free’ category. Even within this less-than-illustrious group, America now lags behind Ireland and Denmark.”
See Murdock’s report at:
Just ask any small businessman how free the United States is! The regulations, restrictions, prohibitions, assessments, fees, taxes, surcharges, permits, licenses, etc., are worse than almost any industrialized nation in the world. Remember the CEO of Coca Cola recently saying that it was easier doing business in China than in America? Well, he was telling the truth!
Thanks to political correctness, environmental wackoism, and socialistic/fascist ideology running rampant in Washington, D.C., and even many State capitols, “the land of the free” has become “the land of the oppressed.” Being able to drive a car, have a job, shop at a mall, watch sports on television, or even vote, is NOT the mark of a free people. Folks in China and other oppressed nations routinely do all of the above.
Virtually every activity once considered a “right” is now regulated or prohibited by either the federal or State and local government. Few states (thankfully, my home State of Montana is one of them) recognize the right of people to marry without getting a State marriage license. And can anyone imagine Paul Revere riding throughout Boston with a license plate and registration on his horse? And can anyone further imagine Sam Adams or those militiamen at Lexington and Concord registering a gun or being asked to get a concealed carry permit? Yeah, right!
In most urban settings, one cannot build a shed on their own property, add a room on their house, or even pour a driveway without asking a variety of government bureaucrats for permission–and paying them hundreds of dollars in fees, of course. And did you know that the federal government even tells your local plumbing contractor how many gallons of water your toilet can flush? Well, they do! You call this freedom? Our Founding Fathers wouldn’t have!
To answer the first part of the ostrich question, the freedoms we Americans have lost are literally too numerous to count. A recent report at the American Dream web site makes a very salient argument as to just how many freedoms have been lost in the good old U.S. of A.
The report states, “Once upon a time, our founders thought that they were guaranteeing our freedoms by adding a Bill of Rights to the Constitution.
“But today there are a lot of freedoms that we simply do not have any longer.
“In America today, you do not have the right to say whatever you want. If you say the wrong thing on a blog or a website it can have dramatic consequences.
“In America today, you do not have the right to do raise your own children as you see fit.
“In America today, you do not have the right to grow whatever food you want and you do not have the right to eat whatever food you do grow.
“In America today, you do not have the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure.
“In America today, you do not have a right to privacy. In fact, you should expect that everything that you do is watched, tracked, monitored and recorded.”
The report then goes on to list several real-life examples to prove the assessments listed above.
See the American Dream report at:
And, of course, the ultimate symbol of a free people is the right to keep and bear arms. And while most states theoretically recognize a citizen’s right to own and possess a gun, the vast majority of them only do so–not as a right guaranteed to a free people by their Creator–but as a privilege granted to approved subjects by the limited benevolence of the State. At last count, only four states recognize the right of their citizens to keep and bear arms without any kind of State license: Alaska, Arizona, Vermont, and Wyoming. (For clarification, the State of Montana allows open carry Statewide and concealed carry in unincorporated areas, but people carrying concealed in incorporated cities, must have a CCW permit. We passed legislation this year to expunge the incorporated city CCW requirement, but our Democrat governor vetoed it. But Montana will be the fifth State soon!)
To view a current map of Constitutional Carry states, click here:
So, the next time you hear someone say, “What freedoms have we lost? We are the freest nation on earth,” why not give them a copy of this column? And then tell the ostrich to get his head out of the sand and his rump off the couch before the little remnant of freedom we have left is also completely eviscerated.
“I hope you can read my heart in this, as my intention from the beginning and through all the land and house hunting that we have done here for you folks was to help you as much as possible and that we three love you both and are doing our best to keep you from getting scammed and taken for a ride, plus we are trying to negotiate the best possible deal that we can as though it was our money that was being spent. We haven’t asked the contractor for a dime, if you buy his house, we have been doing what we have done with a servants heart, we are here to serve and that is what I do, no strings attached! You have faithfully covered my expenses and I feel that if I stay out of the money end from either side I can be a negotiator that is not biased and free to barter what is right for both sides. You folks are friends and we don’t charge friends and family for helping them. My gas and other expenses are covered by your offerings and so all is well for us in whatever decision you make, you will not offend me at all.” The minister.
I am not easily fooled. But I was taken in by an expert; a Christian minister whose allegiance was to a pagan and whose sales pitch was well honed and convincing.
Several years ago my wife and I tried to purchase property in Argentina. We flew to Santiago, Chile then over the majestic Andes Mountains to Mendoza, Argentina. The rental car we reserved was not available so we bused south to San Rafael where we looked at several properties. One we liked and would have purchased except the pricing for Gringos was in dollars instead of the common but less valuable Peso. In dollars it was a bad investment and since we could find no way to purchase Argentine real estate in the common currency we had a very enjoyable trip but did not find property.
A year or so later we met a man from Costa Rica at our church. He and his family had been living in Central America for several years and he said he could help us acquire property in Costa Rica valued in their common currency. A couple of years went by before we were able to explore his offer.
In June, we flew to Costa Rica and stayed in a hotel in the San Jose suburb of Escazu. Street signs are scarce in Costa Rica and in a generous gesture the minister drove 30 miles to the airport, met us at the car rental office, and led us to our hotel. It was a vacation for us but we reserved time to drive to the town where the minister lived to look at real estate.
When we arrived it was lunch time and we offered to buy lunch. They took us to an upscale restaurant where he and his son ordered several expensive items which they consumed with relish. I picked up the tab.
Our objective had not changed from our trip to Argentina; we wanted a complex that would provide a place for us to use and some income property that would support the investment. We had a budget.
The minister lived up at the top of a steep, rocky mountain road. Though he drove an old car and the rental property was not fancy it was well appointed with television, internet, and some new, expensive appliances. He took me aside and told us that some of the Christians he had tried to help had not offered to cover his expenses. We donated to his ministry generously more than once.
Down the hill from his house he took us to meet with a contractor who had a home for sale. It was new and well built with concrete block and stucco. We liked the house but the backyard was a mess and the asking price was above our budget.
The minister and his son both emphasized that we needed to understand that things in Costa Rica are done differently than in United States. “I already assume that you have this mindset, but, I just want it said so that there can be no misunderstandings later! You are not in the US when you come here to buy anything and as such you need to be open to the customs of this country.”
We then drove to the nicely appointed home of a local Real Estate Agent. He joined us in the minister’s car and directed us to several properties; only one was attractive and it turned out to be too expensive.
As we were about to leave the real estate agent said that he could build three apartments on a lot and keep the cost within our budget. I said I would be interested. We returned to Florida.
Shortly after our return we received a CD that contained detailed pictures of all the properties we had visited.
I was still interested in the three apartments and the minister provided lengthy emails detailing the extensive work he and his son were doing to find property for us. His work was efficient with pictures of properties to be considered and detailed information on the status of each property.
We sent him our criterion: “As we evaluate lots we need to keep in mind that the lot must be near public transportation so renters can get to work; it must be on a paved road and not be precipitous or in a tacky or industrial neighborhood.”
He found a lot and sent pictures. I sent him this email: “Here is where we stand. If this lot is as good as it seems and we can construct the three apartments on it and stay under budget I will come down. However, I do not want to spend the money coming down only to find that the cost is going way over budget. I must depend on your judgment.”
Shortly after, I received this email: “Are you interested in this lot? You haven’t advised me….if not, I’m wasting a lot of time and fuel in checking it out. If so the owner has asked me multiple times if you are interested and I don’t know what to tell him…my son thinks that he wants to know so he can start letting others know about it and if he goes that route he will be selling for more now that he is clearing the land and preparing to put in the road between the properties. I think we need to give him some kind of answer soon just to be fair with him, he has done everything we asked so far as the clearing of the lot was our suggestion to him as a way to help you see what the actual lot looks like.”
This lot soon fell by the wayside and I was urged to fly down immediately because the contractor who owned the house down the hill was now willing to build two apartments behind the house for a price within our budget. We were told that he needed the money for another transaction and was only willing to make this deal if he could get the money immediately. I could not leave immediately and as it turned out the urgency was not necessary as he was willing to wait until the end of the month.
We were interested in this proposition because we had seen and liked the house and even though we had not scrutinized the entire property we believed the minister would properly evaluate it for us. I emailed back, “I want to purchase this property but please understand that I will not leave loose strings that may or may not tie together following the purchase.”
Almost immediately a contract to purchase the property arrived by email and a phone call came to wire $2,000 to bind the contract and hold the property until I could fly down and sign the final draft. These are the words of the next email. “If you can read Spanish it is a straight forward option to buy at a fixed price with a description of what is promised by the seller. It also says the the deposit paid today was $500 with a promise to pay the remaining $1500 by no later than Monday. It is for the normal time period of 30 days as that is pretty much what was agreed upon. With you coming down the end of this month this is more than sufficient time to secure the property until you get here.” I cannot read Spanish but we had the contract translated and it seemed legitimate. (Stupid me – I wired the money.)
At the end of the month, I few to Costa Rica. The minister had been called to a conference in the States and was not there. His wife and son picked me up at the airport and took me to a local hotel. It was lunch time and, though I had not offered, they drove me to the same fancy restaurant for lunch. I picked up the tab.
The next day we met at the property with the contractor. There were several loose ends and some serious questions. The house was an excellent buy but it had been built on land that had been created by piling tons of dirt behind a retaining wall. The retaining wall had been built with concrete block but the exterior concrete and stone facing had only been finished about half way to the top, reinforcing bars were protruding through the concrete. There were drainage problems and the stone wall that surrounded the property was in need of repair. The back yard had a large hole in the ground and several structures that had not been completed; they did not match the house. We determined the builder was putting in a hot tub, a wet bar, a half bath, and a storage room. Finishing the items would add at least ten percent to our budget and would still leave several expensive problems. Costa Rica is an earthquake zone and I was concerned about the integrity of the retaining wall and the safety of the house itself.
We had been urged to accept the ways of Costa Ricans but since we were providing the money we expected the properties to conform to our expectations. I declined to go forward with the purchase. The minister had about $3000 of our money and I had out of pocket expenses of a thousand or so more. At his urging I had put money into a property I had not fully evaluated. It was a foolish thing to do.
Much of this fraud involved my failure to see through some expert manipulations. The real estate market is dead in Costa Rica just as it is in the States and I suspect all the urgency was contrived. I was depending on being protected by a man who told me that his loyalty was divided between me and the individuals he was attempting to “lead to Christ”. My trust was misplaced. The $2000 I wired to bind the contract was sent to and signed for by the minister. I should have picked up on the excesses at the restaurant or on the manipulative urgency to secure the deal. In retrospect it is easy to see the mistakes that contributed to being defrauded but when one is intent on an accomplishment there is a strong tendency to overlook important warning signs. I was foolish and I was fooled.
In spite of the pressure sales tactic and an apparent intent to defraud, this minister may not think he has done anything wrong. Antinomian Charismatics can easily fall into the sin of pragmatism because they do not understand that in God’s Kingdom the end does not justify the means. God expects obedience to His legal standards; He expects the means to justify the end. He is not pragmatic. Fraudulent works produce rotten fruit. He is wrong to believe he can serve both buyer and seller; attempting to do so creates an untenable conflict. Defrauding gringos to enrich domestics in the Name of Christ cannot produce good fruit.
The procedures used have been practiced over a period of several years and others may have fallen prey. If you are involved with a Christian minister in Costa Rica be very careful. Do not send money until you have personally seen and evaluated everything! Those that seem to be Christian sheep sometimes turn out to be pagan wolves.
The friendship expressed at the beginning of this article did not survive the deception; we have not heard from the minister since my return to the States.